ROCK COVERSGo ahead--feel free to call Tucson's October "Rocktober." We won't mock you for it, because it's completely warranted. As such, we beg you to check out our listings section to get a more complete picture of the spoils of the season, as we just don't have the space to cover it all here, and we wouldn't want you to miss out on anything worthwhile.
At the same time, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that this year's Great Cover-Up is fast approaching--it's scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7, 8 and 9, at Club Congress--and we're currently seeking submissions from local bands who are anxious to participate.
For complete details head to thegreatcoverup.googlepages.com, where you'll find more information than you need or want, and send those submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We're hoping that this year's event, the 10th, will be the biggest and bestest ever, and the only ones who can make that happen are you, the local bands who make this town the musical hotbed that it is. We look forward to hearing from you, so please don't make us cry.
SIGNED, BUT STILL KICKING ASSThere was a time when bands on indie labels who made the jump to a major were deemed sellouts, even before those deemers heard a note of the major-label debut. Those days are mostly gone--established indie bands sign to the big boys with increasing regularity--but longtime fans still tend to get a bit worried when they do.
But the majors have also gotten a bit smarter over the years. Rather than pressuring their new signees to come up with a Big Hit Single, they've come to recognize that these bands have attracted a loyal fan base because those fans liked what they heard to begin with; and so, to an increasingly large extent, they give the bands a long leash to do what they will--albeit with the benefit of a bigger budget in the studio, and more money to promote the album in attempt to expand the fan base even further.
One of the latest bands to find themselves in that position are Portland, Ore.'s The Decemberists, a band who sound like no other on the current musical landscape. After releasing a trio of full-lengths on Kill Rock Stars, their latest, The Crane Wife, came out at the beginning of this month on Capitol. While it bears the studio sheen that comes with those additional dollars to spend in the studio, it is also one of the band's most sonically adventurous albums yet.
In 2002, the group released an EP called The Tain that consisted of a single, 18 1/2-minute song cycle that was modern prog-rock at its best, and the second song on The Crane Wife, which bears the unwieldy title "The Island:-Come and See-The Landlord's Daughter-You'll Not Feel the Drowning," is reminiscent of that EP; at 12 1/2 minutes, it's just as experimental (if not more so), and is so seductive that it feels half its length. Imagine the suits at Capitol hearing it for the first time, trying to figure out the marketing scheme for an album that contains such a song--and kudos to them for not putting the kibosh on it.
There's musical branching out all over this album, and you get the feeling that the bigger recording budget came at just the right time, when The Decemberists were comfortable in taking such risks. "The Perfect Crime #2" has the slick production of Siren-era Roxy Music, for example, but every time Colin Meloy's voice comes in, each song is unmistakably The Decemberists. And the lyrics are as intricate as ever, the kind of stuff that can only be the product of a guy who has a creative-writing degree under his belt (which Meloy does). The only disappointment any longtime fan could find in The Crane Wife is that it's a bit short on the sea-chantey elements that previous releases flaunted, but I'd argue that's no great loss, just growth.
The Decemberists perform at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Sunday, Oct. 22. Lavender Diamond open the all-ages show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance, available at the venue's box office, online at www.rialtotheatre.com or by calling 740-1000. Call the same number for more info.
MOORE BRILLIANCEOnce in a while, you'll see a certain band or performer who is so good at what they do, that you could put them in front of any audience, and everyone will be blown away, despite the audience members' individual tastes. Ian Moore is one such performer.
Moore started his career as a hot-shit blues guitarist in Austin, Texas, and was being groomed to be the next Stevie Ray Vaughan. He spent a while as Joe Ely's guitarist, then went solo, opening for the likes of ZZ Top and the Rolling Stones. But somewhere along the line, he began following his muse instead of the almighty dollar, and that's when things got interesting.
It's difficult to describe exactly what he sounds like these days, and that's about the highest compliment that can be paid to an artist. His albums and performances include elements of folk, country, rock and whatnot, but it's the manner in which he and his multi-instrumental accompanist so seamlessly integrate all those elements, and the sheer passion that they wring from them, that is so impressive. These guys are pros, and they don't let that talent get in the way of expression so pure that audience members are sometimes moved to tears. I could blather on and on about why he's so good, how amazing his voice is, what a fantastic guitarist he is, etc., but I hope you'll just trust me and go see the guy perform when he comes to town this week. I promise that you won't be disappointed.
Ian Moore performs at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Wednesday, Oct. 25. Cathy Rivers opens at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $7. For further details, call 798-1298.
BUT WHAT IF THEY SAY YES?Victoria, British Columbia's NoMeansNo have been at it since the early '80s, issuing album after album of challenging punk rock that is funky like the Minutemen and Primus, funny like Dead Kennedys, and proggy, complicated and weird like The Residents or Frank Zappa. Which is to say, they don't really sound like anyone but themselves. In August, they released their umpteenth album, All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt, (AntAcidAudio), and after 25 or so years, if it were halfway decent, that would be quite an accomplishment; the fact that it's great is downright astonishing.
NoMeansNo tours have become increasingly rare, so don't miss 'em when they take the stage at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., next Thursday, Oct. 26. The show starts at 10 p.m. with opening sets from locals UltraMaroon and Swing Ding Amigos. For more info, call 622-3535.