GET YOUR PLUSH ON
To start, a big shout-out to Gene Armstrong for stepping in at the last minute to fill in for me here last week. And now, on to business.
There may not be any big marquee names coming to town this week—no Journey, no Wilco, no Snoop Dogg—but there are many smaller shows worth a look-see. Let's explore some of our options.
SHAKE THAT BARE SHACK
Th' Legendary Shack*Shakers haven't released an album in two years, but that shouldn't have any bearing on their live performance this week. Fronted by J.D. Wilkes, whom Jello Biafra once called "the last great rock 'n' roll frontman," the band brews up a heady stew of rockabilly, swamp rock, blues, hillbilly twang and, in recent years, even polka and klezmer—and plays the blazes out of it in a live setting.
Bobby Bare Jr., alt-country-rock troubadour and son of the guy who shares his name (sans the "Jr.") has released a trio of fine albums for Bloodshot Records, full of ballads and hard-driving tunes with lyrical twists and turns. None of this prepared us for his latest release, his first in three years: The American Bread EP (Junket Boy) is a collaboration with David Vandervelde (though it's credited only to Bare) that gives us a little insight into Bare's roots. It's a collection of covers of soft-rock classics by Bread and America—three from each band, though "Sister Golden Hair" warrants two versions. Other than the source material, it's a lot less surprising than one might think; it sounds like, well, Bobby Bare Jr. covering Bread and America. Hardly necessary, but a fun little trifle.
On the same day the American Bread EP is released, Tuesday, Aug. 11, Th' Legendary Shack*Shakers and Bobby Bare Jr. will perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. The El Camino Royales open at 9 p.m. $10 gets you into the back room. Call 798-1298 for more information.
A DIFFERENT BRAND OF HIP HOP
One of the lesser-known acts on the fantastic ANTI- label—whose roster also includes Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Neko Case—Orlando, Fla.'s Solillaquists of Sound just released their second full-length, No More Heroes, which is said to be the second in a trilogy of conceptually linked albums. Like ANTI-'s other hip-hop signings, which include Michael Franti and Spearhead, and Busdriver, Solillaquists of Sound trade in a brand of hip hop you'll rarely find on the radio. On Heroes, the group combines synth-heavy production with elements of rap, rock, soul, folk, Afrobeat and film scores; it's enough to keep the listener guessing exactly what's coming next, in the best way. Add to that a producer whose live performance style is compared to that of Animal from the Muppets, and you should have the makings of a pretty darn engaging live show.
Solillaquists of Sound perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Monday, Aug. 10. Locals Vine St. open at 9:45 p.m. Cover is only $6. Call 798-1298 for further details.
Brothers Jared and Michael Bell, originally from Tempe and now based in Brooklyn and Austin, constitute the instrumental duo Lymbyc System. The group weaves together electronic and organic elements to create songs that develop from gorgeously minimal soundscapes into full-blown, soaring, mega-textured epics, as evidenced by their tracks on Field Studies (Magic Bullet), a recent split EP with This Will Destroy You. The pair also re-released their 2005 debut EP, Carved by Glaciers (Magic Bullet), earlier this year.
Lymbyc System peforms at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, Aug. 7. ... music video? and Matt McCoy open the show at 9:30 p.m. Admission is a fiver. Call 798-1298 for additional info.
WRAP YOUR TENTACLES AROUND THIS
Another Austin-based instrumental group, frequent Tucson visitor the Octopus Project, also makes its way to Plush this week. Unlike Lymbyc System, the quartet trades in an upbeat brand of groove-based beats that you'll have a hard time not dancing to. In an article in these pages last year, the aforementioned Mr. Armstrong wrote of the Octopus Project: "Layering sound on sound with analog and digital synthesizers, glockenspiels, strings and horns, marimbas, guitars, drums, theremin and samplers, the band amasses a mesmerizing sea of sound into which listeners are almost compelled to immerse themselves. One critic accurately described the Octopus Project as knowing the difference between 'dance music' and music that makes you want to dance."
Get your shimmy on next Thursday, Aug. 13, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., when the Octopus Project takes the stage along with openers Stareater and Some of Them Are Old, who kick things off at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $10. That number again is 798-1298.
Local quartet the 4th Street String Band celebrates the release of a new CD from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Plush lounge, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, Aug. 7. The group performs slightly poppy folk tunes on bluegrass instruments (guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, stand-up bass) in a delightfully rough-hewn way. Free. 798-1298.
On Wednesday, Aug. 12, Solar Culture Gallery (which has made significant improvements to its building lately to get itself removed from the "dangerous buildings" list), 31 E. Toole Ave., hosts Amsterdam-based seven-piece Caspian Hat Dance, who describe what they play as "original and traditional gypsy music, klezmer music, misbehaved drunken village wedding music, southern Italian pizzica, and pretty songs sung in Romani on Bolivian mountaintops." To these ears, they sound a bit like a collaboration between DeVotchKa and Molehill Orkestrah. The all-ages show starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $10. Call 884-0874 for more info.
Any band that plays math rock better damn well be precise, and Seattle's X-Ray Press has no problems in that department. Its jittery, mostly guitar-and-bass-and-drums-driven songs change time-signatures and shapes several times within the course of a single song. The vocals, when present at all, often come in the form of spoken word, chants or screams, though there are melodic exceptions. Somehow, the whole is not quite as challenging listening as those singular elements would have you believe. Catch X-Ray Press, along with Ultramaroon and Awestritch, at an all-ages show at The Living Room, 413 E. Fifth St., around 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 10. For more info, head to thelivingroomtucson.com.
Oliver Jane, a young, Mission Viejo, Calif.-based combo, trade in a mostly acoustic, slightly melancholy vein, though there's a certain cute-but-not-cloying element in there, too, perhaps somewhat due to the lovely male-female vocal interplay. A recently posted track on their MySpace page, "Spaceheater Song," is perhaps the best song they've got—a good sign of things to come. They'll be at The HangArt, 512 N. Echols Ave., tonight, Thursday, Aug. 6. Opening the all-ages show at 8 p.m. are Timothy Craven and Airborne Age. Admission is $10. For further details, head to reverbnation.com/venue/thehangart.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Evil Fudd's final show at The Living Room on Wednesday, Aug. 12; the Beach Boys at Desert Diamond Casino on Wednesday, Aug. 12; comedian Sinbad at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, Aug. 8; Backbeat and Grams and Krieger at Z Mansion on Friday, Aug. 7; the Conquer and Curse Tour featuring Abigail Williams and others at The Rock on Tuesday, Aug. 11; Last Call Brawlers and the Fisters at Vaudeville on Saturday, Aug. 8; the Holy Rolling Empire, the Provocative Whites, Prieta and I Am the Lion at Club Congress on Friday, Aug. 7; Jerry Garcia Memorial with Extra Ticket and Top Dead Center at The Hut on Friday, Aug. 7.