7 Best Concerts to See This Week in Phoenix
It's been a few years since Kam Mohager (aka the Chain Gang of 1974) has called Denver home, but if cellphone area codes are any sign of geographical allegiance, then he still keeps a little bit of Colorado close to his heart. Busy touring far and wide following the success of his 2011 "debut" Wayward Fire, Mohager created his latest effort, Daydream Forever, during a month spent living in a swinging pad in the hills overlooking Malibu and surfing every day. --Backbeat
Turn the question of what's familiar around and it becomes an examination of what's different. For the Antlers' fifth album, vocalist-guitarist Peter Silberman found himself writing in the middle ground, searching for what's changed and what's stayed the same in his own life -- and in the band's sound -- and what that means. Sonically, the Antlers have crafted a more open, organic sound on Familiars, with Darby Cicci's trumpet serving as a frequent counterpoint to Silberman's vocals but still within the realm of what longtime listeners of Hospice, Burst Apart, and Undersea have come to expect. Lyrically, Silberman looks both outward and inward, centering on the particular moments and emotions in people's lives that are weighted with meaning. "Over time, you develop a relationship with yourself and that relationship changes," Silberman says. "I was trying to explore a lot of that throughout the songs. It's kind of a tricky subject to write about. It's putting a mirror up to yourself and describing what you see and what you feel." Silberman says he kept the themes of the Antlers' past records -- lost love, fear, and doubt -- in mind as he wrote for the new one, almost as if he was looking at a map of where past emotions stand in his life and the distance he's come. "With Familiars, sometimes I'm approaching things I've written a long time ago, from a different perspective," he says. "I'm circling back to some things I've thought a long time ago to see if I still feel that way." --Eric Swedlund
"I feel like the world right now needs poets and philosophers and magicians and maybe people who are willing to strongly argue that the world is flat -- or maybe some new shape," says A Sunny a Day in Glasgow frontman Ben Daniels during a recent e-mail interview. Maybe his multinational band fills that gap, at least partially. The six-piece band, with members based in Australia, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia, generates heady music for people wanting something deeper than what's created by the average pop band. Built upon catchy hooks and driving beats, ASDiG's mixture of atmospheric lift, driving spacey guitar, tasty synths, and general swirl supports transcendent lyrics that shift from confrontational to questioning to deeply personal. The band has steadily grown from Daniels' initial inception, with his sisters singing background to a full-fledged outfit committed to limitless musical truth. Successive albums have seen Daniels' vision grow and expand with the sonic wallop and larger band, yet the early ambient essence remains on the group's latest release, Sea When Absent. "We know what we do well," he writes in support. Poets, philosophers and magicians? To some degree, sure, but definitely musicians creating something worth discovering. --Glenn BurnSilver
There's no sweating the technique: Rakim's among the finest to rock the mic. Eric B. & Rakim's 1987 debut, Paid in Full, is one of the finest albums of rap's golden age. Unflappable like 007, Rakim's effortless, mesmerizing flow skates on Teflon fueled by lyrical triple-axels and canny interior rhymes ("make you choke, you can't provoke, you can't cope" off "I Ain't No Joke"). Three albums and five years later, the duo broke up. The attendant legal spat delayed Rakim's solo career almost five years. He released two good albums -- his 1996 debut, The 18th Letter, and the 1999 follow-up, The Master -- but signed with Dr. Dre's label in 2000 and wasted three years on music shelved by creative differences. Rakim retreated from the spotlight for a few years, then returned in 2009 with his third solo album, The Seventh Seal. He's recently been promising a new album featuring productions by DJ Premier and Pharrell. Last month Linkin Park released a regrettable Rakim collaboration, "Guilty All the Same." Though his skills haven't diminished and ageism's declined in hip-hop (thanks, Jay Z!), Rakim's had trouble sustaining his momentum. But he still possesses the peerless unaffected delivery and whip-snap lyricism that helped him craft masterpieces. --Chris Parker
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