GET YOUR JICKS ONMost artists follow the age-old rule: Write songs, record an album, release album, tour to promote album. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Which makes it a bit odd that Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks are headed our way this week.
Malkmus was the driving force behind Pavement (especially in their later years), a band whose reputation is cemented as one of the most influential and enduring of the '90s. They came along at a time when popular music was dominated by brawny guitar riffs, when if you weren't peddling some brand of rock that could be somehow justified as grunge, you failed to matter. Yet Pavement, who traded in relatively complicated guitar interplay, spiky but catchy melodies and poetic if sometimes obtuse lyrics--a distant cry from the sludginess of the day--managed to matter more than most, inspiring a generation or two of bands that continues to this day.
Pavement, on the other hand, does not. As the 20th century died, so did Pavement.
In the ensuing years, the usually prolific Malkmus released a trio of solo albums: a self-titled one in 2001 (released on Matador, as were the two that followed), which sounded much like a continuation of Pavement; 2003's Pig Lib, a prog-influenced, jam-heavy and somewhat divisive affair; and Face the Truth, which was recorded almost entirely on his own, in a basement studio, and introduced a slew of new sonic elements to the mix: synths, banjo, even a bit of sitar (or at least something that sounded like one). Released in March 2005, Face the Truth was his first album in an eon (including those latter Pavement albums) that sounded like Malkmus was having fun again. It also came in the face of some life changes, most notably his settling down and raising a child.
This might help explain why it was also the first album for which Malkmus largely broke the album/tour/album cycle. Just prior to Face the Truth's release, he played a showcase at 2005's South by Southwest music conference, which was later followed by a mere handful of shows to promote it. And then, silence. So, nearly two years later, with no new album to promote (or is he still promoting Face the Truth?), Malkmus and his Jicks, which now includes former Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss, are now heading out for their first extensive West Coast tour in years. Why? Who knows? Maybe he's road-testing material for his next album; maybe he needed a break from changing diapers. But why look a gift horse in the face? Just consider yourselves lucky that Tucson made it onto the itinerary.
Opening the show is Entrance, which began as a solo project for L.A.-based Guy Blakeslee but has since morphed into a full-band affair that includes Paz Lenchantin (Zwan, A Perfect Circle). Gone are the skeletal mutant delta blues of Blakeslee's early work, and in its place, as evidenced by 2006's Prayer of Death (Tee Pee), is a sitar- and violin-enhanced brave combo of those blues influences, psychedelic rock and glam bombasity that adds up to a rather spooky, hypnotic and nearly tribal affair that is awfully damn riveting.
The most promising show of the new year hits Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., at 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 9. Tickets are available in advance for $15 at virtuous.com. Call 798-1298 for more information.
MYSTERIOUS RELEASEYet another local CD is being released this week, this time a rather well-curated compilation. Though Soundbites wasn't informed who is behind Inchworm Records, or any concrete details regarding their Desert Mountain District comp, we can tell you that both the disc and its corresponding release party look mighty promising. The disc itself includes tracks from some of Tucson's finest, including The Swim, the American Black Lung, Found Dead on the Phone, The Crowd, Bark Bark Bark, Love Mound, Winelord, Bombs for the Bored, Chango Malo, the George Squier Orchestra, Golden Boots, La Cerca, The Jons, The Matrix 2: The Legend of Curley's Gold and The Provocative Whites. And the CD release party, which starts around 8 p.m. at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, Jan. 5, will feature performances from Love Mound, Chango Malo, The Jons, Found Dead on the Phone, Bark Bark Bark and The Provocative Whites, plus a set by Oakland's Hawnay Troof. Cover is a steal at $5. Call 622-8848 for further details.
NICE GUYS PLAY AT PLUSHEven though Phoenix's Kevin Daly, former Flathead frontman and current Grave Danger member, went and borrowed "Fix It Man," a song written by the Hecklers (the onetime project that featured Al Perry and Craig Schumacher) for inclusion in the upcoming film First Snow, Perry ain't sore about it. In fact, the nice guy-ism extends to a bill this week in which the Phoenix-based psychobilly-surf-punk combo (that's Grave Danger) will open for Al Perry and the Cattle, along with Ghost Cow, who start the show at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 6, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Expect an all-star jam to close out the show, which will set you back a fiver. Questions? Call 798-1298.
TASTY DANISHWhile we've grown rather accustomed to those Howe Gelb solo cabaret affairs in recent years, it's increasingly rare that we are afforded the opportunity to bear witness to an actual Giant Sand show, now that the rest of the band lives in Denmark and all. So it is with great pleasure that we inform you that Giant Sand's only Arizona gig in 2007 will take place this week. To top it all off, the show will also include a pair of chanteuses, Danish superstar Marie Frank and Phoenix's Lonna Kelley and the Broken Hearted Lovers. Don't miss this show, which goes down around 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is a ten-spot. Call 622-8848 for more info.
BIG BENEFITHere's yet another show with which we've been provided only the sketchiest of details (we're guessing the holidays are to blame), but is guaranteed to be worth your time and money. Mariachi Luz de Luna and Calexico are once again teaming up to perform together, this time for a benefit show for the family of the late Ariel Cramer. Also on the bill are Luca and Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School, plus other "surprise guests." This all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 6, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Admission is a $10 donation, and you can find out more by calling 740-1000.
ON THE BANDWAGONBecause you can never have enough Led Zeppelin in your life, you should probably head over to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Saturday, Jan. 6. There, you'll find an all-star band of locals composed of Dan Connolly (vocals, keyboards), Pete Fine (guitar, backing vocals), Jeff Niece (drums) and Kenny Wheels (bass, mandolin, backing vocals), performing as Whole Lotta Zep for a tribute that they promise will be stunningly accurate. Doors open at 7 p.m., and admission is $5. That number again is 622-8848.
And next Thursday, Jan. 11, Dry River Collective, 740 N. Main St, will play host to a multimedia affair they're billing as Girls, Girls, Girls! The night will include performances from L.A.'s Indian Jewelry (described in a press release as "a mix between the Butthole Surfers and Animal Collective"), 50 Cent Nose, which includes ex-Sugarbush twins Dawn and Kee, and "electronic dance noise" courtesy of the Bay Area's Gachina; experimental films by Leslie Q. ; and an art sale. Things start at 9 p.m., and there's a suggested donation of $5. For more info, point your browser to dryriver.org.