Saint Maybe, The Cordials, Red Room at Grill, July 18

The Cordials—Laura Kepner-Adney on guitar, Cristina Williams on bass, and Courtney Robbins on drums—are the female trio for which Tucson has been subconsciously pining.

Each of the members keep busy when it comes to making music here in Tucson. Kepner-Adney, aka Hank, makes up one-third of the Silver Thread Trio. Williams is a member of The Modeens; Robbins has a successful solo career and takes on lead guitar and vocals in Seashell Radio.

Self-described as "pepper pop surf grunge," The Cordials drew from many styles, sounding like a merry blend of a spaghetti Western soundtrack and Best Coast. Kepner-Adney takes the lead with songwriting, and she has terrific sensibilities when it comes to catchy riffs and novel flourishes. Kepner-Adney and Williams harmonized beautifully—equal parts grace and grit, an exquisite blend that will leave your eyelashes a-flutter, and your toes tapping. Robbins made her debut on the drum kit; kudos to her for taking on something out of her comfort zone. She knocked it out of the park.

Their debut performance was, by all counts, a resounding success.

How much blistering guitar can the Red Room handle? Ask Saint Maybe. The five-piece, which has a rotating cast of some of Tucson's finest musicians, played some dynamic rock 'n' roll that made me rethink the concept of "desert rock." The flavor they inject into their songs—the meandering, ethereal guitar riffs; the psychedelic solos; the pleasantly undulating current of the rhythm guitar—has a vaguely familiar Tucson sound, but it also twists and turns, and really can't be directly compared to anything else Tucson has to offer.

The heart of the band consists of Oliver Ray on guitar, Chris Sauer on guitar, and veteran drummer Winston Watson. Joining them were Naim Amor on yet another guitar, and Fen Ikner on bass. (Craig Schumacher, who is on temporary hiatus while kicking his cancer's ass, normally plays keyboards. He'll be back soon, no doubt.) Ray and Sauer sang their hearts out and oozed jagged-edged instrumentation, while Watson smacked the drum kit as if it were trying to escape. It was an excellent set.

Who needs a weekend when your Monday can be filled with music this delicious?

More by Mel Mason


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