Note: My colleague and dear friend, Tucson Weekly music editor Stephen Seigel, is away from his desk this week, following a death in the family. I send my love and warmest thoughts to him and his loved ones in their time of grief, and I look forward to his return to Soundbites HQ.
After several years of bluster about "post-rock," I'm thinking that the oft-debated term (at least in the insular fishbowl of music-critic circles) simply has come to refer to rock music without lyrics, perhaps with the addition of rhythms, melodies and harmonies borrowed from jazz, classical and world music. Typically, acts identified as being part of the genre—the most prominent being groups as diverse as Tortoise, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mono, Cul de Sac, Mogwai and Sigur Rós—have been influenced to one degree or another by "Krautrock" bands such as Can and Kraftwerk; the minimalist compositions of Philip Glass and Steve Reich, prog rock of the 1970s, especially that of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno; and the relationship between drone and feedback pioneered by groups such as the Velvet Underground and Public Image Ltd.
Anyway, although we could go on for a while parsing the concept of post-rock, the term has been applied to the fascinating music of the Los Angeles-based duo El Ten Eleven, which will return to Tucson for a gig this weekend.
Named for one of the earliest wide-body passenger jet airliners—the Lockheed L1011 Tri-Star—the duo consists of guitarist/bassist Kristian Dunn and drummer Tim Fogerty. Dunn often employs a doubleneck ax so he can play bass and guitar almost simultaneously, while Fogerty uses acoustic and electronic percussion of all kinds to build an amazingly versatile assortment of grooves.
El Ten Eleven is touring to support its fourth album, It's Still Like a Secret, which will be released Tuesday, Nov. 9. Released by the guys without help from an outside record label, it's a doozy of a tour de force, their best yet—full of electronic mantras, melodies that chime prettily and rhythms that lurch menacingly toward widescreen epics and edgy virtuosity.
El Ten Eleven will play Friday, Oct. 22, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. The concert starts at 9:30 p.m. and will include opening sets by Tucson groups Mano y Mano and ... music video? The cover will be $8 at the door. Call 798-1298 for further information.
Speaking of progressive, for the last several years, the experimental Seattle-based band Minus the Bear has been gathering considerable attention for its uncanny mind meld of indie-rock, charming dissonance, electronic dance music and, yes, maybe a little post-rock. The band's fifth album, Omni, released this past May, is perhaps its most user-friendly yet.
Known for cerebral, ironic and quirky compositions, Minus the Bear also knows well how to convincingly kick out the jams, as evidenced by the subtle hip-hop and alternative-pop influences on the new album's charming lead-off single, "My Time," which I swear could've been a Top 40 hit in the '80s.
Minus the Bear will play Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. A friend of the band, Tim Kasher (taking a break from his group, Cursive), also will appear on the bill, and the concert will open at 8 p.m. with a set by The Globes. Tickets for this all-ages show will run $15 in advance, or $17 the day of the show. You can call 740-1000 if you require more details.
Funky, punky alternative rock will collide with psychedelic blues when the bands White Denim (from Austin) and The Entrance Band (from Baltimore) join forces for a promising concert Wednesday, Oct. 27, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Both bands have been through Tucson before, so here's hoping they've each attracted a following that will combine and comingle.
White Denim's headlong rush of art-rock, funk and punk brings to mind the mighty Minutemen of the '80s, and they've been known to throw a little dub and country into the mix. Blessed with a beautiful double-meaning name, The Entrance Band—a favorite of Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore—toy with the conventions of stoner rock and heavy-blues riffs delivered via the intoxicating tones of slide guitar.
The concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $10, and all ages will be admitted. If you so desire, you can pester the club for more info at 622-8848.
You might consider checking out one of two afternoon multi-act bills this Sunday, Oct. 24, for very different purposes. Barring an unforeseen storm, it's probably going to be a comfortably balmy day under the sky at either event.
First, there's the alternative-rock leaning KFMA Fall Ball 2010, which will begin at 1 p.m. at the Pima County Fairgrounds, 11300 S. Houghton Road. This year's model of the now-annual bash will boast heavy-handed former hitmakers and alternative-rock-radio mainstays such as Deftones, Bush and Suicidal Tendencies ("all I wanted was a Pepsi"!) in addition to up-and-coming acts A Day to Remember, Sick Puppies, Authority Zero and Circa Survive. Tickets cost $35 in advance or $45 the day of the show. Not bad for seven brand-name acts in a traditional-rock–style festival setting.
Over at Club Congress at about the same time, there will be a free concert for those who volunteer practical support to U.S. Congress-woman Gabrielle Giffords and her fellow Democrats during the campaign running up to the general election in a couple of weeks. The show, which begins at noon, will feature top Tucson draws such as Sergio Mendoza y La Orkesta, Salvador Duran, Brian Lopez, Molehill Orkestrah, R'Cougar and Courtney Robbins. Making special appearances will be members of Calexico and Giffords herself.
To gain admittance to the gig, you need to pledge to make calls or put your feet on the ground to canvas on behalf of the Democratic candidates for three hours. See Linda Ray's article about the event on page 47 in this issue for the lowdown.
In preparation for Halloween, you can break out your powder blue tuxedos, strapless gowns and death-mask pancake makeup for what is being billed as the AZ Zombie Prom next Thursday, Oct. 28, at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave. The affair will feature headlining acts The Creepshow and Koffin Kats, as well as support from Cold Blue Rebels, Moonlight Howlers and Devils Rose.
Of special interest to Soundbites is The Creepshow, a horror-themed, country-tinged, psycho punk 'n' roll act from Ontario, which has just released a dynamic new album, They All Fall Down. This band has some serious barn-burning chops and a crush-worthy frontwoman in guitarist and vocalist Sarah "Sin" Blackwood.
The Koffin Kats, by the way, have spent several years amassing a rather rabid and increasingly sizable following for their combination of classic rockabilly, punk rock and the ghoulish imagery of The Misfits. So they've got that going for them.
The event also will feature a costume contest (complete with prizes!) as well as the crowning of the king and queen of the Zombie Prom. Tickets for the all-ages show are $10 in advance, or $15 at the door. To purchase advance tickets, send an e-mail to Machine_Productions@yahoo.com or a text message to 576-8764.
Veteran acoustic guitar duo Strunz and Farah will play a blend of flamenco, Afro-Latin, jazz, and Middle Eastern music at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at Plaza Palomino, 2970 N. Swan Road. $32 in advance, $35 at the door. Contact Rhythm and Roots at 319-9966 for tickets or details.
Avant-garde composer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Growden, who is from San Francisco but frequents Tucson, will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St. $8. 882-0204
Thrones, the solo project of double bassist Joe Preston (who has done time in the bands Sunn O))), Earth, The Melvins and High on Fire), will headline a gig Monday, Oct. 25, at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave. Offbeat metal act Christian Mistress will open the show at 9 p.m. $10. 884-0874.
Artsy Austin-based indie-electronica act The Octopus Project will appear at Monday, Oct. 25, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth Ave. The show will start at about 9:45 p.m. with a set by Portland, Ore., band Starfucker. $10. 798-1298.