I can hear you. You're all like, "Wait, supposed 'music guy.' Everyone knows those guys recently changed their name to The Year. It says so right on the cover of Used to Have a Life, the new CD. Plus, I slept with one of 'em a couple weeks ago, and he swore it was true--right after he said he loved me. It's true, right? Right?"
Well, honey, don't go doubting his love so fast; things are, as we say in "The Biz," a bit complicated right now. Yes, the once-and-current Year of Acceleration shortened the name for a while, but once they realized there was a band in Canada called The Years, they decided to go with the longer moniker again. Not to mention that whole brand-recognition thing, which made it a little less painless. OK, got it? Let's move on.
The Year of Acceleration may be the biggest band in Tucson. Not in terms of popularity--though they are plenty popular, especially with what we in "The Biz" call "the ladies"---but I'm talking about their sound here. The band sounds as if it were lifted straight from '80s-era Sire Records, all hugely chiming guitars and reverb-heavy dramatic vocals lifted from the Bono playbook ("tragedy" is sung "tragedaaaay"). And while that may be the case with 85 percent of the bands currently taking to stages across this vast country of ours, the fact is that Year principals the O'Gorman brothers have had a similar sound for years now (pun intended), way before The Killers and The Bravery were bitch-slapping each other in the press. The blueprint for The Year of Acceleration's sound was forged in White Chrome Splendor, the Stephen Baldwin-approved, U2-influenced band that the brothers formed, oh, I'd guess about a decade ago. They were '80s in the '90s, when it was still cool to crap on the '80s. They've always had an arena-huge sound, and with The Year of Acceleration they've added darker elements à la The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen. And now that trends have caught up with them, The Y of A seems to be far more accepted than WCS ever was. More power to 'em for sticking to their guns.
The Year of Acceleration celebrates the release of Used to Have a Life on Friday, Aug. 26 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The Y of A will take the stage somewhere in the 11 p.m. range (it never plays last), with Music Video headlining, and The Strays and The Strangers Six opening at 9 p.m. Cover is $5. For more information call 622-8848.
For the slightly more frugal there's another option: the John Butler Trio, an Australian jam-heavy combo being lauded everywhere these days for incredible live shows, is at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. tonight. In addition to appearing at Bonnaroo earlier this summer, a couple days after its Tucson appearance the band will join the Dave Matthews Band on tour as the opening act. KXCI's "Locals Only" host Don Jennings swears by 'em and tells Soundbites that Butler is a jaw-droppingly great guitarist. Tristan Prettyman opens at the relatively early hour of 8:30 p.m. Admission is $12 at the door, assuming your lazy ass didn't already buy your $10 advance tickets. Questions? The number to call is 798-1298.
Everyone's favorite misanthropic romantic, Smog, aka one Bill Callahan and whomever he's surrounding himself with this go-round, hits town on Wednesday, Aug. 31 in support of his latest full-length, A River Ain't Too Much to Love (2005, Drag City). Smog songs can shift from hilarious to heartbreaking in the time it takes you to say "Bill Callahan hearts Joanna Newsom," and we like that sorta thing. If you do, too, head to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., at 9 p.m. to catch openers The Heavenly States (see the feature article in this section) and local Campo Bravo. Advance tickets cost $6; they'll be $7 at the door. That number again is 622-8848.
Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., will feature a show sponsored by Vans, Gibson, and Rockgrrrl (all three bands performing feature women, and two of the three are fronted by them) on Friday, Aug. 26. Headliner Radio Vago is a self-described "rock/Goth/noise powerhouse" from L.A. that performed on this summer's Vans Warped Tour and which hase been produced by The Mars Volta's Omar Rodriguez. It's also been named Best New Band by the LA Weekly. The other two bands on the bill are L.A.'s Diamonds Under Fire and Tucson's The Daring Few. For more info call 622-3535.
Later in the week, Wednesday, Aug. 31, to be exact, country-soul combo The Hacienda Brothers cruise into Vaudeville Cabaret, as well. The group is the result of a collaboration between Chris Gaffney (one of Dave Alvin's Guilty Men) and Paladins frontman Dave Gonzalez. Get your roots-rock on starting at 9 p.m., when honkytonkin' opener Big in Vegas kicks things off. Cover is a ten spot. Forget that number already? It's 622-3535, stoner.
Catch Tucson's Campo Bravo, Hush Records' "skewed surf-folk troubadour" The Graves, The Golden Boots (featuring members of the Galactic Federation of Love) and Erik Messler at ItL Cafe, 415 N. Fourth Ave., at 8 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 29. All ages are welcome and cover is a donation to the touring acts. 622-4411 is the number to call for further info.
Finally, The Wayback Machine will be playing a benefit for the Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation's Tucson Blues Festival (slated for Oct. 16) on Saturday, Aug. 27 at Boondocks, 3306 N. First Ave. According to a press release, the group will be "in full blues mode" and will be joined by a trio of guests: keyboardist Arthur Migliazza, saxophonist Sid George and Top Dead Center guitarist Mike Begala. Things get started at 9 p.m. and $6 gets you in the door. Call 690-0991 for more details.