By now, you've no doubt read Jarret Keene's article on local Christian hardcore kids Versus the Mirror and their CD-release party this weekend, Saturday, April 22, at The Rock. Since good things come in threes, we thought we'd tell you about two more local acts holding CD-release parties this week.

Though the show at The Rock on Saturday will be headlined by Versus the Mirror, it also doubles as a CD-release party for Us Versus Them, the latest album from veteran hardcore band Gat-Rot. Since they began more than a decade ago, Tucson's longest running punk-metal fusionists have released three full-lengths and an EP, appeared on a few compilations, taken home a pair of TAMMIES awards for Best Heavy Metal/Punk Band, and opened for bands such as Earth Crisis, Suicidal Tendencies, Testament and Hatebreed. Often compared, especially early on, to Rage Against the Machine--largely due to the staccato guitar riffs, socio-political leanings, and growling but hip-hop informed vocals (a trait only enhanced by dual singers Charlie Touseull and Ruben Valdez)--on Us Versus Them, released by Rotten Records, the band shows how far they've come. Yes, all those traits are still here, but if anything, the band has only gotten more powerful and more brutal with time. The lyrics, while trading in fairly typical hard-core tropes, have become extremely pithy, too: "They divide the masses by separating the classes / Creating tension ... us versus them" ("... And Justice for Some"); "The beauty that turns faces only turns my stomach" ("Lowest Common Denominator"). On Us Versus Them's final song, "Second Wind," the band essentially celebrates itself and its staying power: "What's keeping us here is in our hearts / ... We won't cave in or bow down to time--forever on our second wind." Couldn't have said it any better myself.

Gat-Rot perform just before Versus the Mirror, on a bill that also includes Sleeping Through Sirens, You in Series and The American Black Lung. Things kick off at 7 p.m., and admission is $10. The Rock is located at 136 N. Park Ave. Call 629-9211 for more information.

Gat-Rot couldn't be any further away from the music of singer-songwriter Will Elliott, who, since we first reported on him in January, has seen his star begin to rise locally rather quickly. In that short period, he's maintained a steady presence by opening for national acts such as The Gourds, and participating in a songwriters' roundtable with the likes of veterans Al Perry, Leila Lopez and Loren Dircks. And on the heels of releasing his full-length, The Doorman (self-released), this week, he churns out A Devil's Drought (Home Recorded Culture), a five-song EP of new material. Elliott's songwriting skills are strong, and despite the fact that he seems to bridge the gap between the singer-songwriters of the '70s (Leonard Cohen, Harry Nilsson) and modern-day folk revivalists such as Devendra Banhart, he also comes fully formed, with his own distinctive sound: a hushed, husky voice and minor chords that add up to a heaping pile of forlornness and melancholy.

Will Elliott celebrates the release of A Devil's Drought with a free CD release party at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 23, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Expect some special guests to drop by; 798-1298 is the number to call with questions.


Next Thursday, April 27, will see a pair of acclaimed female singer-songwriters set up shop with Congress Street dividing them.

The Rialto Theatre's got Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall), whose latest album, The Greatest (Matador, 2006), marks a distinct departure for her: It was recorded at Memphis, Tenn.'s legendary Ardent Studios--which served as home to many Stax Records recordings, as well as classic works by artists as disparate as Big Star and Bob Dylan--and features a backing band made up of similarly legendary players, including Al Green guitarist Mabon "Teenie" Hodges (who also co-wrote many soul classics, including Green's "Love and Happiness" and "Take Me to the River"); his bassist brother, Leroy "Flick" Hodges; and drummer Steve Potts, who replaced the late Al Jackson in Booker T. and the MGs. As such, the Southern soul underpinnings that were always present in Cat Power's music have been brought to the fore on The Greatest, propped up on string and horn arrangements that could only come from Memphis. For longtime Cat Power fans, it's a bit jarring, though it's also probably the best place for novices to start--The Greatest is her most accessible album yet.

Cat Power with The Memphis Rhythm Band perform an all-ages show at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 27. The Rialto is located at 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are available for $21 at the Rialto box office and Cafe Jinx; they'll be $1 more on the day of show. For further details, call 740-1000.

Across the street, at Club Congress, the only member of Concrete Blonde that any non-obsessive fan can name, Johnette Napolitano, will perform a special early solo gig, with limited seating. Little Black Cloud opens at 7 p.m., and tickets are $15. Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. For more info, call 622-8848.


Local singer-songwriter Andy Hersey headlines a "community dance and soiree" (as the press release calls it) this weekend in Sonoita. Hersey's literary tales of his native Southwest are extremely impressive, carrying on the tradition of cowboy songwriting while surpassing the levels of most cowboy poetry. Also on the bill are The Wyatts, who play hook-laden rock 'n' roll with a country bent.

The event is being billed as a family-friendly affair (kids under 14 get in free), and it also doubles as a fundraiser: 20 percent of the net from the show will be donated to equinevoices.org, an Arizona-based equine rescue and sanctuary (Hersey used to work shoeing horses).A full bar and food will be available, as will camping.

It all goes down on Saturday, April 22, at Pioneer Hall at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Sonoita. Doors open at 6 p.m., with music starting at 7 p.m. Advance tix are $8, available at www.andyhersey.com; they'll be $10 at the door. For more info, call 455-5553.


While we're talking about fairgrounds, we'd be remiss if we didn't remind you that the Pima County Fair kicks off this weekend. Featured performers this year include Chris Cagle (Saturday, April 22), War (Sunday, April 23), Foreigner (Saturday, April 29) and Jaguares (Sunday, April 30). All shows are free with paid fair admission: 5 and under are free; children 6 to 10 are $2; adults are $7; and parking will run you $5. The Pima County Fairgrounds are located at 11300 S. Houghton Road. For full details on all things fair-related, head to www.pimacountyfair.com or call 762-FAIR.

After releasing three studio albums and a live set on their own Frog Pad imprint, Boulder, Colo.-based Yonder Mountain String Band make the jump to Vanguard for their new eponymous release (2006). Where earlier albums found them solidly in the traditional bluegrass camp, albeit with a jam-band edge, the new album, while still bluegrass-based, adds a flurry of modern touches. (Drums? On a bluegrass album?!) Surely working with producer Tom Rothrock (Foo Fighters, Beck) was a calculated move in that direction, and lucky for them it works. Yonder Mountain String Band hits the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., for an all-ages show at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26. Advance tickets are available at the venue's box office for $18. They'll be $20 on the day of show. Call 740-1000 for further details.

Fans of James Chance and The Cramps--or anyone eagerly awaiting the apocalypse--can catch a heady dose of Old Time Relijun on Tuesday, April 25, at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave. Opening the all-ages show at 9 p.m. are Golden Boots, who promise to perform a slew of new material, and 50 Cent Nose (featuring Dawn and Kee of Sugarbush, as well as guests Amy Rude and Tasha Bundy). Admission is $6, and the number to call for more info is 884-0874.

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