I Survived ZZ Top at Talking Stick Resort

Categories: Concert Review

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Melissa Fossum
The beard was better than the music. Full slideshow here.

Sadly, I didn't get my wish.

I really wanted to see someone push their friend (or maybe date) into the pool at Talking Stick Resort on Sunday night while ZZ Top was playing and it didn't happen. The other thing that didn't happen was a good concert. At best, the subdued crowd was treated to an old band going through the motions.

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Clutch's Jean-Paul Gaster Would Like to Be Ginger Baker's Drum Tech

Categories: Metal!

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Photo provided by New Ocean Media
Pretty Clutch.

Clutch has always been a prime example of "slow and steady win the race." After meeting in high school and forming the band in Maryland in 1991, the members -- vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Neil Fallon, lead guitarist Tim Sult, bassist Dan Maines, and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster -- have never faltered. It's probably also attributed to the fact that the members' wide tastes in music, which spans everything for Black Sabbath to Bad Brains to Professor Long Hair, has helped them create a very solid, unique sound.

Most fans remember the band's first major taste of heavy rock radio airplay with their single "The Mob Goes Wild" in 2004. The song's music video was directed by Bam Margera an dfeatured such Viva La Bam co-stars as Ryan Dunn, Don Vito and Brandon DiCamillo.

Clutch just finished production on their eleventh studio album, and over the years have released an array of live albums and rarities, along with creating their own record label, Weathermaker.

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Remembering Space-Alien Donald, Phoenix's Oldest Gay Canadian Rapper

Categories: R.I.P.

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Ben Kitnick/Saxon Richardson via Vimeo
Space-Alien Donald as he appeared in Ben Kitnick and Saxon Richardson's 2013 documentary.

Jason Kron vividly remembers his first close encounter with the entity known as Space-Alien Donald.

It's understandable, since getting asked if you were a fellow extraterrestrial is something you don't soon forget. As the local musician and frontman for Hug of War recalls the otherworldly experience, it happened in late 2009 during an ordinary show at Trunk Space, where he was approached between sets by an unusually dressed elderly gentleman who stated he wasn't of this earth and inquired if the same was true of Kron.

"He introduced himself as an alien and asked if I was an alien too. I don't recall exactly how I answered, but I was very flabbergasted because I'd never had that sort of introduction to a person before," Kron says. "When you meet someone who's dressed like nobody one else was and they unapologetically tell you without a wink that they're a space alien, it's very memorable. It was unlike meeting anyone else, ever."

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Teneia: 2015 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Music

Categories: Big Brains

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David Accomazzo
Teneia and her husband, Ben Eichelberger

You submitted nominations for the best and brightest emerging Valley creatives, and the results are in. Presenting the 2015 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the announcement of winners at Artopia on May 9, Jackalope Ranch, Chow Bella, and Up on the Sun will introduce the finalists. Up today is Teneia.

The video for Phoenix musician Teneia's recent single, "Rest of My Life," begins by reminding the viewer that as recently as 2000, interracial marriage was banned in Alabama.

It's a sweet love song propelled only by acoustic guitar, bass, and Teneia's masterful R&B-ladened vocals. We meet four couples -- two interracial straight couples, one lesbian couple -- and Teneia (full name Teneia Sanders-Eichelberger) and her significant other, Ben Eichelberger, who serves as her musical companion. By the end of the video, Sanders and Eichelberger, wearing grins the size of the Grand Canyon, stand in a municipal building as a man in a black robe pronounces them man and wife.

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Bright Light Social Hour Travels the Country Searching for a Better Future

Categories: Concerts

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Pooneh Ghana
Austin chic

Space Is Still the Place, the sophomore album from Austin psych-rockers Bright Light Social Hour, smashes past, present, and future together into a golden age of the band's own design.

From the lyrics to the sound, from the recording techniques to what the band drew as inspiration from meeting down-and-out creative types across the country, Bright Light Social Hour struggled to make a record that celebrates the best of the past while pushing for a better tomorrow.

Curtis Roush (guitar, vocals, synths), Jack O'Brien (bass, vocals, synths), and Joseph Mirasole (drums, synths) released their self-titled debut in 2010 and spent the next two years on the road after winning Band of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year at the 2011 Austin Music Awards.

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Toronto's Moon King Searches for Identity of New Album

Categories: Interviews

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Julia Hendrickson
Which one is the Moon King?

You can practically hear the artistry over the phone as Daniel Benjamin, one of the creative forces behind the Toronto-based band Moon King, tries to find a quiet place to talk as he walks down the snowy streets of Montreal, Quebec. He's trying to put the finishing touches on the tour that the band, which also includes of one his oldest friends and bandmate Maddy Wilde, are undertaking in support of their first full-length album Secret Life, an exciting disc inspired by shoe-gaze and kraut-rock.

The conversation turns to the influential Canadian bands that have come before. Benjamin believes the country's musicians are in a better position for musical influence because they are able to sponge up the inspiration from the United States and England.

"It's strange coming from a place with a parallel world of pop culture," Benjamin states excitedly, "Within Canada, we pay attention to American pop culture, bands, and politics more so than we do our own. There is definitely this feeling of being this helpless observer and I think it sort of comes out in the music that comes out of Canada as well. It's a bit of a melting pot. I think the struggle is to find some kind of identity that's our own, especially in Toronto. It's not always very easy. We don't fit in to the Toronto music scene. There aren't really any bands that sound like our band. We go out and find the people that identify with us."

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Saul Williams Speaks About New Album and How to Remain Subversive

Categories: Interviews

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Photo Credit: vegs.ro

Socially-conscious hip-hop has been an important theme since the genre's infant years, but actor/poet/rapper Saul William's industrial slam poet's approach to social injustice has the ability to rise above mere proselytizing.

His third full-length, 2007's The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! (produced by NIN's Trent Reznor) was a messianic concept album that presented a "ghetto gothic millionaire, a super duper star," who calls a new generation up to fight the powers that be. But even earlier, "Black Stacey," from Saul's self-titled sophomore release, was a call to action that came well before the melodrama of Drake and the brutal honesty of Kendrick Lamar. If you want to help rewrite the way hip-hop is dedicated, it helps to have a list of demands.

But given Williams' lead roles in the film Slam and Holler If Ya Hear Me, (a Broadway musical featuring music by Tupac), or all the poetry Saul writes, it's obvious the man has many talents. We called him up in New York to discuss everything from Alan Turing, the role of the arts, police brutality and Williams' upcoming fourth album, Martyr Loser King, about a hacker from Burundi.


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Right Hear, Right Now: 5 Must-Hear Songs By Phoenix Artists

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Mitchell Hillman listens to more local music than just about anyone in the Valley. He presents his picks for best new music in his column, Right Hear, Right Now.

Gospel Claws - "'Til My Baby Calls"

It's always a treat to get new music from Gospel Claws, especially since it's been since 2012 when they last released anything. In that case it was an entire album; here, it is a single that came out last week on the RSD exclusive Zia Records compilation You Heard Us Back When Vol. 9, on there it's called "I Can't Wait." According to the band they recorded it late last year and never released it, and it's about telemarketers -- well, one specific telemarketer. It's an instant Claws classic with plenty of indie pop influence, marked doo-wop nods, harmonies from heaven, plenty of reverb, and a nice surf guitar solo with congas or bongos to boot. It's a brilliant sunshiney number just in time for summer, and though it's already on a compilation, it will be going on my own poolside soundtrack for 2015. The finale with Joel Marquard giving his all on vocals is just pure genius. It is the perfect blend of all of their styles wrapped up in one sweet package. Listen to it here or try to score the Zia compilation if there are any left anywhere.


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Waxahatchee Turns Her Songwriting Focus Outward on New Album

Categories: Concerts

Michael Rubenstein
Lady Crutchfield of Waxahatchee

After two records of inward-looking DIY folk-punk, Katie Crutchfield took a more observational route to her third Waxahatchee album.

For her debut on Merge Records, Crutchfield shifted her songwriting toward the people around her and the world she saw touring the country.

"Even the fact that the songs are observational takes a snapshot of where I am in my life," Crutchfield says. "My first record was centered on my own experience, a little world that I'd created around myself. This record takes a step back and looks at the world and other people's experiences and patterns of behavior."



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A Field Guide to Wet Electric 2015

Categories: Wet Electric

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Benjamin Leatherman
Ladies and gentlemen, your tour guides

Wet Electric, Arizona's annual EDM-tastic water park festival, returns to Tempe this weekend. A long list of producers, including Tiesto and Dillon Francis, will hit Big Surf Waterpark on Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26.

To those who have attended the event in the past, this year promises major upgrades from talent to production. Along with this year's event being 18 and up, this weekend the event will include a floating wave pool stage, zip line, a private 21-and-over VIP pool, lounge areas, photo booth, upgraded sound, lighting and special effects, a silent disco, and more bars, including a swim up bar and shot bar. There will also be a full vendor village that will include a free phone charging station.

Whether you're going for the music, the party or the clothing-optional perk, here's a guide to getting wet this weekend.


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