VEX on Heavy Alternative Art Rock and Villain Recording

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When in doubt, make a collage.

Vex is one of those bands that commands attention whenever they hit the stage. Fitting, since their name is the very definition of evoking mystery and discussion. It's also defined as changing or "shaking up" the arrangement or position of something, and that's something Vex is all about.

The four members that make up the Phoenix band pull from a variety of artistic influences, including literature, film, and visual art, with the goal being to think outside the box, inspire, and be inspired.

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Scott H. Biram's Tunes Will Kick Your Ass

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Sandy Carson
Scott H. Biram's songs are not to be messed with.

Mr. Scott H. Biram is nothing short of a total and complete badass mofo. First of all, he is thee one man in his namesake one-man band, and his many quality releases over the past 14 years have proved he doesn't need anyone else to help him get the job done, and done well. From vocal duty to playing guitar and percussion, Biram delivers his style of hillbilly country with a vengeance -- tangling it up with elements of punk, blues, metal, classic rock, and an undeniably ferocious spirit. Whether he's blasting out a fierce and noisy tune or bringing it down a little more low and slow, you know he isn't holding back anything. Another testament to his tenacity: Biram survived a head-on collision with a semi-truck in 2003, suffering multiple internal and external injuries, including the loss of a substantial portion of his organs. A mere month later, with a couple of broken legs, he took the stage in Austin, performing in a wheelchair, an IV still hanging from his arm. Just like his tunes, that's pretty fuckin' tough.

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Springtime Carnivore's Tall Tales of Circus and Heartbreak

Categories: Up On Sun

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Eddie O'Keefe
Is this the face of a liar?

Gravity gave Greta Morgan a gift and a broken fibula. Working as a skilled tightrope tripper, fatigue set in from constant touring in the circus and she fell three stories. Recovering in the wake of her broken dreams, she taught herself piano and created Springtime Carnivore.

"I've been playing ever since," Morgan said in a letter to fans. "Inside me were all these songs about all these things I've seen and all these places I've been. Just came pouring out like tears."

It's a nice origin story, but it's not exactly true -- as in, it's totally false. As a founder of indie rock groups The Hush Sound and Gold Motel, Greta Morgan Salpeter wanted to break away from her past, so she hijacked her own narrative and dropped the third name.

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For a Duo, Dodos' Indie Prog Is Ambitious

Categories: Up On Sun

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Chloe Aftel
Dodos' play a type of prog rock in danger of going extinct.

The music of San Francisco band Dodos packs plenty of shifting time signatures, stylistically syncopated drumming, and a constantly growing technical savvy in its music, but don't even think of labeling this duo as math rock. If anything, the band embodies the spirit of 1970s prog icons such as Yes or King Crimson -- with surrealistic 1980s minimalism and gritty power-pop licks thrown in for good measure.

"The proggy things we definitely relate to. It's not even the themes in a lot of prog music, but the melodies. When I hear somebody shredding on a guitar or some crazy synth line, I always have wanted to do that," says Dodos guitars Meric Long, adding that his three siblings' affinity for '80s synth outfits like Depeche Mode and New Order adds some influence as well.

"It's young people's music," he adds, "and that make us feel young because we're still like two teenagers wanting to conquer the world with our riffs."


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Why Vinyl Subscription Services Are the Laziest Thing Ever

Categories: Up On Sun

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flickr/Alexandre Normand
Don't make listening to music any harder than it already is.
Love listening to music, but hate all the time and effort it takes to pick out something you like? Good news! There's a burgeoning industry of vinyl subscription services, what they like to call "Netflix for record lovers," making the rounds.

The formerly arduous process of developing personal music taste -- going to record stores, skimming Pitchfork reviews, consulting with friends, attending shows, etc. -- now has been simplified in a way even Pandora can't compete with. And it's analog, baby.


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100 Places to Party in Metro Phoenix: Super Bowl Guide

Categories: Up On Sun

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Hey there, Phoenix! We're rolling out the grassy green carpet in honor of the biggest event to hit town since - well, since the last Super Bowl rolled through. The 49th annual celebration of all things professional football promises to be the grandest yet, and Phoenix New Times has it all mapped out. From parties and Super Bowl-centric events to must-do restaurants, bars, shopping and attractions, we've got you covered.

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JMSN's Pop Tendencies Found Their Way Out Eventually

Categories: Up On Sun

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The cover for JMSN's latest self-titled album, which fans call "THe Blue Album"

When Christian Berishaj writes music, he disconnects. The iPhone is turned off, the e-mail and texts and phone calls reach an electronic dead end, and the Los Angeles-via-Detroit artist seeks out space.

For now, that space is the North Hollywood apartment he rents, yet another place of his own he's carved out during his six years in L.A., where he writes and tracks demos as JMSN. He can't afford a getaway in the mountains at the moment, but his sights are set on reclaiming some of that natural openness for his himself. He ponders the eventuality of it, a brief moment during our interview when he doesn't cap a statement with a laugh.
"When I get to that point, I'll have to figure out where I want that space," he says.

Berishaj has no time for bullshit, and he will tell you so. Having undergone a series of musical iterations -- first as multi-instrumentalist Love Arcade, which signed to Columbia Records, then later under the moniker Christian TV, which signed with Universal Motown -- he struck out on his own and formed his own independent record label, White Room Records. It's the venture through which Berishaj released his most recent and highly lauded self-titled LP, known to Berishaj and his fans as "The Blue Album."


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Project Phoenix: Building an Electric Guitar at the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix

Categories: Up On Sun

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Photos by Becky Bartkowski
Happy New Year, Phoenix! What, you've already broken all your resolutions? Yeah, us too. But we're bouncing back with some inspiration. Whether you've been considering a new hair style or a new kitchen project, we're here to help with Project PHX, our annual "how to" guide. Step into Pane Bianco's kitchen to learn how to pull mozzarella. Or brew beer, crochet dread locks, learn how to build an electric guitar and make a screen print. Five local experts are here to guide you. Today: Jim Prater builds an electric guitar.

Jim Prater's path to guitar-making is, perhaps unsurprisingly, pretty rock 'n' roll. 

The Illinois native graduated from college and ran a couple of small businesses in the Champaign-Urbana area, but he was unhappy with his work. He wanted a change of scenery. So at age 30, he quit. His new career? He wanted to learn to make guitars.

Though he'd never been to Arizona before, Prater applied to the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix because he had a gut feeling that it was the right fit. The renowned school has been around since 1972, and it's one of the few luthiery programs that's accredited.

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Psychedelic Furs - Talking Stick - 11/8/14

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Mike Durham

Saturday night's Psychedelic Furs and Lemonheads show at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale could have done without one thing -- chairs. I'm sure that opinion wasn't shared by everyone, as plenty of butts seemed to keep those bad boys warm all night long, and when my party stood at times when hit songs weren't being played, we got yelled at by other attendees to take our seats.

That said, after more than three decades of filling the world with their blend of new wave-y post punk melodic tunes, simultaneously catchy, clever, and sometimes cutting, the Psychedelic Furs still deliver.

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Is Black Keys Drummer Patrick Carney the New Lars Ulrich?

Categories: Up On Sun

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Danny Clinch
Patrick Carney, right, of the Black Keys thinks artists should carefully consider whether to stream their music on Spotify.

Take a look at the following quotes about digital music and try to guess which came out of the mouth of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich during the Napster days and which came from Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney a few weeks ago while talking to New Times.

"It has nothing to do with [us] worrying about people buying our music. It's about the common goodwill toward other bands; that's all it is . . . What people don't understand is that if [file-sharing is] available, then of course people are going to use it and of course they should use it. And why not? The only problem is that the labels haven't figured out how to fucking compensate artists yet. That's the main problem."

"Right now, it's not about the money. It's about control, and it's about the future. The money that's being lost right now is pocket change. To me, it's about people's perception of the Internet, people's perception of what their rights are as an Internet user and how it relates to intellectual property . . . It affects anybody who creates any type of original work, all artists who create anything from scratch."

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