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BIG VOICE RISING

Brandi Carlile is 23 years old and has never held a job. Having grown up in the sticks outside Seattle, she had to rely on her imagination to make her own brand of fun, and lucky for us, that fun included teaching herself how to play piano and guitar, and locking herself in her room to, as she says in her bio, "see how loud and high I could sing, and how long I could hold a note. I knew that's what it would take to develop a big, powerful voice."

To say she succeeded would be an understatement.

Recorded with the help of musician twin brothers Tim and Phil Hanseroth and producer John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Blonde Redhead), Carlile's eponymous debut, released a couple weeks ago on Red Ink/Columbia, signals the emergence of a huge talent. The album falls in the category of acoustic country singer-songwriter fare, but certain tracks employ an artiness rarely found in the genre. Album-opener "Follow," for example, is a minor-key ballad whose melodic complexity reminds of Radiohead more than, say, Sheryl Crow. But the real focus of the album is Carlile's voice, which sounds a bit like Maria McKee's to me, and is no less impressive. If anything, her vocals here are even warmer than McKee's, regardless of whether she's in balladeer mode or assuming the role of country crooner. And she shows admirable restraint for someone with a voice as big as hers, only opening up when a song absolutely calls for it.

With this much talent, it would be more shocking if Carlile doesn't become huge in the coming months than if she does.

Brandi Carlile performs at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, July 23. The show begins at 9:30 p.m. with local openers LemonMan and Leila Lopez. Tickets are only $5, and trust me that you'll never be able to see Carlile perform this cheaply again. Call 798-1298 for further information.


POSEURS OR PROS?

Though their performances at March's South by Southwest music conference were almost universally ripped to shreds by critics (wearing glam makeup that melted in the heat of an outdoor afternoon show probably didn't help their cause), San Diego's Louis XIV have since gotten revenge. Their debut album, The Best Little Secrets Are Kept (2005, Pineapple/Atlantic), has generated radio airplay across the country, a video on MTV2 and a rabid fan base that resulted in a near-sellout when they played at Club Congress earlier this year.

Three of the band's four members once played together in a roots-rock combo called Convoy, but you'd never know it by listening to The Best Little Secrets ..., which combines the sleaze of glam-rock and the sleaze of the Stones with the sleaziest (and, at times, sexist) lyrics you're likely to hear from a band on a major label. While some critics have come around to the band, citing their swaggering, hook-laden songs as proof of their auspiciousness, others are still writing them off as a prefab attempt to jump on the "real" rock bandwagon.

Decide for yourself, when Louis XIV return to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., next Thursday, July 28. Opening the all-ages show at 8 p.m. are two much-hyped new British bands, The Dead 60s and Hard-Fi. Tickets are $10. Call 622-8848 for more information.


GARAGE GLORIFIED

The Surly Wench Pub (where else?) plays host this week to a show being billed as GarageFest '05. Headlining the shindig is Italian girl-punk duo Motorama, and the bill also includes The Sweat Band, The Okmoniks and newly formed, superbly named Tucson supergroup The Fuck All Night Superstars. Barbecue will be available for your mastication pleasure, and we've heard tell of drink specials appropriate for such an occasion.

It all goes down tonight, Thursday, July 21, at about 9 p.m. The Surly Wench is located at 424 N. Fourth Ave. Admission is a measly four bucks. Questions? Call 882-0009.


EXIT THE FIST

The history of Tucson music is littered with bands that came, kicked ass and packed it up way too early, bands that would be talked about years later in the form of questions like, "Man, did you ever see (enter band name here)? They were fucking awesome!"

One band with that potential does exactly that this week, due to one member's impending relocation to Seattle. With their merging of '70s cock rock, razor-sharp punk guitars, and melodically hardcore vocals (not an oxymoron in this case), Fistsized never garnered the fans they deserved, and it's a waste of time to attempt to speculate why. Just know that you'll get one final chance to see what you've been missing out on this week, as the band performs their final show on Saturday, July 23, at Nimbus Brewing Company, 3850 E. 44th St. Also on the bill are San Francisco's Parting Gift and Pod People, a side project recently started by a member of Troy's Bucket. For further details, call 745-9175.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Bratty punk-pop pioneers (I'll let you decide if that's a good thing) Guttermouth return to Tucson this week for an all-ages show at City Limits, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road, on Sunday, July 24. The fabulous Shark Pants and F-Loder open, and doors open at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $10 at the venue's box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com, or by calling 321-1000. For additional info, call 733-6262.

Blending components of screamo and modern metal with pop hooks and Cure-dark lyrics, Ontario's The Black Maria includes former members of Grade, Zyon and New Day Rising. The band hits town next week in support of their Victory debut Lead Us to Reason (2005), along with relative veterans Eighteen Visions. The show begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 28 at Coconuts, 296 N. Stone. Tickets are $12. Call 884-0600 for more details.

Apparently Tucson isn't a big enough market to warrant a stop on the Anger Management 3 tour, which features Eminem and 50 Cent, so we get 50's Massacre 2005 instead, which also includes slots by Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys and G-Unit, among others. Massacre pulls into the Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheatre at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, on Monday, July 25. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins an hour later. Tickets are available for $40 (lawn), $65 (reserved seating) or $75 ("Candy Shop" pit) at all Ticketmaster locations, ticketmaster.com, or by calling 321-1000. 838-6700 is the number to call with questions.

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