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MUCH DELAYED—AND MUCH ANTICIPATED

The arrival of a new album by local band La Cerca is something of an event.

It's been a decade since the release of Goodbye Phantom Engineer, and in the years since, the band has endured several lineup changes, breakups and re-formations—plus a tour or two.

Going back to 2004, Andrew Gardner—the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist behind the band—would talk about songs that had been tracked, but they never seemed to materialize in recorded form. The band became something of an underdog: a great act that never really got its due, since one mostly had to go see them play live to understand what they're all about. The band's history unfolded in quiet grace on stages across town to die-hard fans, but no one had any souvenirs to take home with them.

That changes this week with the release of Rock 'n' Roll to the Rescue, the band's self-released second album. It was recorded in 2004 and 2005 with Jim Waters at his Waterworks West studio. The band reportedly has tracks in the can for two more albums, one of which is planned for a spring 2012 release.

Was it worth the wait? In a word, yes. Rock 'n' Roll to the Rescue is full of alternately gorgeous and uplifting songs with layers of sound—cello, Mellotron, sax, keyboards, vibes and even turntablism. The production and engineering is great, but it's the songs that really stand out.

Gardner is an incredibly underrated songwriter who can write an indie-pop song as well as just about anyone in this town. The album opens with a flourish of guitar and sax on "Car Crush," a semi-autobiographical song about finding redemption on a road trip gone wrong. By the time it hits a "choir" of somewhat unsettling voices singing "na-na-na-na-na na-na-na-na-na" and squalling sax, it almost delves into Radiohead territory. Fantastic.

Elsewhere, sweet, hopeful love songs like "Neurons for Kissing" and "Happy Colors" abound, getting their point across without resorting to maudlin sentiments. "I Like It Shut" is a jaunty slice of near-lounge. And KXCI FM 91.3 listeners will surely recognize the simultaneously propulsive and languid "The Trip Away"—included here twice, once as a PLOY remix—as the theme music played during the credits of the station's "Voices" series.

One can only hope that listeners will pay attention and pick up a copy of Rock 'n' Roll to the Rescue. Once they learn the songs on the album, I have a feeling La Cerca's fan base will grow, and we'll be seeing a lot more bodies at their shows.

La Cerca celebrates the release of Rock 'n' Roll to the Rescue with a CD-release party at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Saturday, June 11. The all-ages show begins at 8:30 p.m. Also on the bill are DJ Datwop and the Runaway Five, who are also celebrating the release of a new CD (which was unavailable for review at press time). Admission is $5. For more information, call 884-0874, or head to solarculture.org.


HELPING HEALING

There are several worthwhile benefit shows happening this week.

If you've been following local news, you no doubt know that, on May 20, 23-year-old Sam Abate was struck by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bike on Swan Road. He sustained a massive head injury with skull fractures and a clot that had to be surgically removed, as well as a broken jaw, a broken cheek and a broken leg, among other injuries. The driver was caught, but Abate, a fixture in the Tucson hard-core scene, is facing a recovery that will likely take years, and, of course, the medical bills are massive.

People have pitched in from far and wide to help Abate and his family, and Tucsonans are no exception. First, local bands teamed up to put together an online download-only compilation album. The Good Sam Compilation features a whopping 27 songs by local artists, including Forrest Fallows, Long Live the Smoking Gun and Logan Greene and the Bricks, and is available for $12 at michaelwgonzales.me/goodsam. All proceeds will go to the Abate family to help cover medical costs.

Additionally, some bands have put together a benefit concert for Abate on Sunday, June 12, at the Jacobs YMCA, 1010 W. Lind St. The all-ages show begins at 6 p.m. and will feature performances by Injury, Days of Struggle, Step Aside and Dead Hours, as well as an acoustic set by Gonzo. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and music begins at 7 p.m.; there will also be a raffle, giveaways and a bake sale. A donation of $10 is requested. For more information, search "Sam Abate Benefit" on Facebook, or head to www.projectnoiseaz.com.

Sadly, the case of Jessyka T. Murray is a similar one. On Nov. 14, 2010, Murray was a 17-year-old passenger in car that got hit by another car making a left turn. Thankfully, her life, too, was saved, but she suffered massive brain damage. Similarly, her bills are basically insurmountable, and on Friday, June 10, The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave., will host Jamming for Jessyka, a benefit for Murray featuring live performances by JT Reno, Tony Williams, Fancy Hats, Jimmy After Dark, Psychotic Nerve, Mojo Filter, and A Guy and His Wife DJ. The event begins at 6 p.m.; all ages are welcome, and a $20 suggested donation includes the cover charge, food and entry in a raffle. All proceeds will be donated to Jessyka's family to help pay her medical bills. For more information, head to rocktucson.com, or call 629-9211.

The Tucson Jazz Society's annual benefit concert on Saturday, June 11, will feature performances by Rick Braun and Mindi Abair, as well as an opening set by Isaac Valenzuela, who starts the night off at 7:30 p.m. The event takes place at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa, 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd. Tickets run from $15 to $25, and a couple of different VIP packages are available, too. For more information, head to tucsonjazz.org.


ON THE BANDWAGON

An increasingly rare local show by The Mission Creeps, with The Lonesome Ones and Graves Brothers Deluxe, at Plush on Saturday, June 11; a Baja Arizona Movement show featuring Brian Lopez, Mariachi Basketball Summer Camp (an all-star band recently formed as part of Plush's Rock Lottery) and Leather Clutch at Club Congress on Friday, June 10; Harry and the Potters at Club Congress on Saturday, June 11, as part of Second Saturdays Downtown; Buckethead at the Rialto Theatre next Thursday, June 16; The Elected (featuring Blake Sennett of Rilo Kiley) and Yardsale Heart at Club Congress on Tuesday, June 14; Follow That Bird, Ringo Deathstarr and Discos at Plush on Tuesday, June 14; Good Charlotte, Yellowcard and Runner Runner at the Rialto Theatre on Sunday, June 12; Vows at Shot in the Dark Café on Friday, June 10; Tech N9ne at the Rialto Theatre on Tuesday, June 14; The Portal multimedia rock concert at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, June 11; Bare Wires and Lariats at Club Congress on Wednesday, June 15; Hans Olson at Boondocks Lounge on Sunday, June 12; Espinoza Paz at AVA at Casino del Sol on Saturday, June 11; Aiden, Vampires Everywhere! and Get Scared at Skrappy's on Saturday, June 11; Red Elvises at The Hut on Saturday, June 11; Optimist Club featuring Mexicans With Guns next Thursday, June 16 at Club Congress; Ellis Paul at Suite 147 at Plaza Palomino on Friday, June 10; Kevin Henderson (of The Swigs), Fish Karma and Martin Holland at the Red Room at Grill on Tuesday, June 14; Dephinger, Sabertooth Snatch and Honey Badger at the Surly Wench Pub on Friday, June 10; Black One at Vaudeville on Friday, June 10.

Finally, a quick note: The Rickie Lee Jones show scheduled for Friday, June 10, at the Fox Tucson Theatre has been postponed until the fall. We'll bring you updates as we get them.

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