MUSICAL MADNESSThey say that when it rains, it pours, and we're getting a mighty big monsoon this week. Read on.
DOWNTOWN BLOOMS WITH TUNESYou know it; you love it; you can't figure out it's spring without it: Saturday, April 19, brings the Weekly's annual Spring Club CrawlTM, in which about 100 fine local and touring bands converge on downtown and Fourth Avenue to perform on more than 25 stages, both indoors and out.
Since there's an extensive pullout section in the center of the paper you're holding (for those reading online, head to clubcrawl.net) that details just about every nuance of Crawldom, I won't waste too much space here blabbing about it. Just remember to pick up your wristbands early at any Bookmans location, both to ensure entry and to save a couple of bucks (they're $8 in advance, but they'll be $10 at the door of participating venues--quite the deal, if we do say so ourselves).
Most importantly, have fun and be safe.
THURSDAY NIGHT IS MUSIC NIGHTEver notice how we can sometimes go a week or two with only a decent show here and there, and then all of a sudden, there will be a bunch of great shows on the same night? The pessimist's take would be, "Man, that's frustrating," but the optimist might say, "Well, at least we've got some options."
Well, next Thursday, April 24, man, do we have options. And yes, it's kind of frustrating.
The biggest story of that night is that the UA will play host to one of the hottest tours going right now. Kanye West, one of the most talented rappers and producers alive, will bring his current tour, along with openers Lupe Fiasco and N*E*R*D--and, possibly, Rihanna (when the show was announced, it was stated that she wouldn't be performing on select dates, Tucson being one of those dates; since then, she's been listed on Pollstar as part of the show)--to McKale Memorial Center that night. Which would be pretty awesome news, no matter what.
But it just so happens that, according to reports, Kanye has officially outdone himself this time.
Never one to half-ass anything, Kanye has developed a show that will feature lighting and set design by the guys who created the iconic Daft Punk pyramid, hologram dancers (!) directed by legendary video director Hype Williams, puppets designed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop and a running narrative that will tie the whole thing together.
The bad news, of course, is that the show sold out weeks ago. The good news is that an awful lot of tickets seem to be for sale, as long as you know where to look. (How much you'll end up paying is another story.) Plus, you've got other options that night, right?
Take, for example, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, who will return to Plush. The former Pavement frontman last played there in January 2007, and it was one hell of a show. With new drummer Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney, Quasi, total fucking awesomeness) in tow, the band steamrolled through tunes from Malk's first three albums, and previewed a number of songs from the then-unreleased Real Emotional Trash (2007, Matador), which just might be his best solo album yet.
While his 2001 self-titled debut sounded much like a latter-day Pavement album, 2003's Pig Lib was an only moderately successful stab at prog-rock, and 2005's Face the Truth (all on Matador) was a joyous, anything-goes quirkfest, on Real Emotional Trash, the Jicks finally sound like a real band. It may take a few listens to penetrate the sprawling songs (the title track, which the band played at that 2007 show, is more than 10 minutes long) and long instrumental passages (Malkmus' guitar playing has never been better), but once you do, there's an awful lot to love.
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Thursday, April 24. Opening the show at 9:45 p.m. are Portland, Oregon's criminally overlooked The Joggers. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 798-1298.
That same night, the Rialto Theatre will play host to Minus the Bear, who are touring behind their 2007 effort, Planet of Ice (Suicide Squeeze); Portugal. The Man, who you can read all about on Page 49; and The Big Sleep, whose new CD is reviewed in this week's issue. This all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 24. The Rialto is located at 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are $15; they'll be a buck more on the day of the show. For further details, call 740-1000.
And, finally, Club Congress also has an all-ages show, this one featuring VHS or Beta, who are returning to town just five months after their last appearance, still in support of their 2007 album Bring on the Comets (Astralwerks). Opening the gig are likeminded Brooklynites Tigercity. This one's an early show to make room for The Optimist Club dance night, which will follow.
Things will get rolling at about 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 24. Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. Admission is a 10-spot. Questions? They'll be answered by calling 622-8848.
MOSTLY GUANO-FREELargely forgoing their somewhat misguided dalliances into glam and power-pop territory, Elf Power's latest album, In a Cave (Ryko), which was released last month, finds them returning to the catchy, '60s-influenced psychedelic pop for which they originally became known.
The Athens, Ga.-based band is one of the few remaining survivors of the Elephant 6 collective, a loose collection of bands who tried to see just how many tracks they could bounce and pile up using primitive recording techniques such as four-track recorders. And while the sound has gotten a bit glossier over the years, the musical influences remain similar.
A song like, say, "Owl Cut (White Flowers in the Sky)," which opens In a Cave, features fuzz guitar and a handful-of-mushrooms vibe. But where past efforts sounded like they could have been passed off as actually being recorded in the '60s, there are too many modern flourishes, such as the use of a vintage synth (OK, maybe not so modern, but you get the idea). "Spiral Stairs," meanwhile, revisits those glam experiments quite successfully, even as it injects a dose of indie-pop into the mix. And "The New Mythology," which sounds fresh but timeless, would fit right in on the soundtrack to a Wes Anderson movie. There's a bit more filler here than on Elf Power's best albums, but the rewards more than make up for limp, go-nowhere outings like "A Tired Army," which earns its title.
Elf Power perform an all-ages show at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Tuesday, April 22. Blankets open at 9 p.m. Admission is $7. For more info, call 884-0874.
TELL ME A STORYPortland, Ore.'s Norfolk and Western may not have released a new album in a couple of years, but that's not going to stop them from heading out on a tour that brings them to town this week.
In 2006, the group--which began as a solo project for sometime producer Adam Selzer but has since morphed into a full band--issued a pair of critically acclaimed releases, the "long-form EP" A Gilded Age and the Unsung Colony LP. Both found Selzer writing narrative tales that sound like they came from another era, even as the execution of them places them firmly in the present day. Or, as Gene Armstrong once put it in these pages: "(Norfolk and Western's) music sounds like a mash-up of pre-World War II folk and blues, and 21st-century indie rock. With instruments such as banjo, viola, trumpet, musical saw and an actual Victrola vying for attention amid Selzer's washes of guitar distortion, it feels old and new at the same time."
Catch Norfolk and Western at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Wednesday, April 23. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. with openers Weinland and Jose Saavedra. Admission is $6. Call 798-1298 for further info.