Iration's Micah Pueschel on Legal Weed and How America Needs to Be More Forward-Thinking

Iration is scheduled to perform on Saturday, March 15, at Tempe Beach Park.
It's difficult not to like something called "sunshine reggae" -- even for those who aren't the biggest fans of Marley dreads, Nag Champa and barefoot romps.

Iration embodies the description of sunshine reggae perfectly, a mix of dub, reggae and rock, and the band's live shows pulse with an undeniable Hawaiian/California positive energy. Easily understood, since members Micah Pueschel (guitar, vocals), Adam Taylor (bass), Cayson Peterson (keyboards), Joseph Dickens (drums) and Joseph King (dub controls, live sound) all hail from Hawaii but no live in breezy San Diego.

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Skinny Puppy: "We Spent an Unnecessary Amount of Time on hanDover"

On an already long list of distinctions, Skinny Puppy recently added a new line, and not one that makes the pioneering industrial band very proud: the United States government has used the band's music as a torture device.

"We heard through a reliable grapevine that our music was being used in Guantanamo Bay prison camps to musically stun or torture people," founder cEvin Key explains by phone from his Los Angeles home. "We heard that our music was used on at least four occasions. So we thought it would be a good idea to make an invoice to the U.S. government for musical services, thus the concept of the record title, Weapons."

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The Aristocrats' Bryan Beller: "We Are a Rowdy Musical Democracy"

Within instrumental music circles, the majority of the talented musicians run alone -- releasing solo albums, working as sidemen, dipping deep into numerous projects. And on occasion, a handful of those virtuoso artists come together to create more than just a collaborative album, and it gets a little rowdy in the process.

Such is the case with The Aristocrats, a trio creating complex, layered music that takes the unpredictability of jazz and the vibrant energy of classic rock and fuses it with a bit of blues, soul, and heavy metal. Guitarist Guthrie Govan, bassist Bryan Beller, and drummer Marco Minnemann arrived at this sound in part thanks to their love of the same vast influences: Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin, Rage Against the Machine . . . there's a shared passion there, since all the members are the same age.

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Willie Nelson & Family - Celebrity Theatre - 12/18/13

Photos by Lauren Wise
Last night Willie Nelson & Family played to a sold-out crowd at Celebrity Theatre--and it was quite the family affair. Not just because Nelson had about half of his own immediate family members on stage, but because the intimate setting embraced a crowd that was as comfortable with other Willie Nelson fans as they were his music.

The seven member-plus band, complete with an array of various vintage instruments, looked right at home on the tiny revolving circular stage that slowly displayed their musical chops to every corner of the crowd.

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Fake Snake: I'm Drawn To That Insane Kind of Sound

Fake Snake
Fake Snake
Screeches cycle through the drone and reverberate off the cratered concrete walls of [venue name redacted] as Fake Snake frantically claws through their set. We're out among the dilapidated shitholes of Phoenix's industrial parks, inside this warehouse shed doubling as crashpad and venue for several underground acts. Here, the Phoenix post-industrial trio fits in nicely with a small but entranced collective of weirdos who flock to this kind of noxious, somehow rhythmic experimental noise. The drilling and the pounding and the screaming is far more titillating than agitating once you get it in the right context - and a garage down the street from a mechanic's office gives everything just the right echo.

Hard to justify to an audience of twenty-something hipsters used to Phantogram clones, too dainty to mosh and too unversed in primal rage. But in its own way, the aggression is kind of beautiful.

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Alice Cooper: Our Christmas Is More Ozzie Nelson Than Ozzy Osbourne

Solid Rock
Alice Cooper wishes you a very metal Christmas.
From blasting "Schools Out" during my teenage wasteland days to jamming out to the chugging guitar in "Under My Wheels" in my office, Alice Cooper has always played a prominent position in my heavy metal playlist.

Not only did he help shape the sound and look of heavy metal with his horror and vaudeville imagery as rock and roll's first villain. By the time Cooper was 18, it was the sexual revolution and Vietnam, and the band's best friends were The Mothers of Invention, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix.

He toured with Pink Floyd and once awoke to find Syd Barrett staring at a box of corn flakes like he was watching television, laughing, to which the shock-rocker comments: "He was a paranoid schizophrenic. Add acid to the mix and you get a much deeper problem."

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Captain Squeegee Is Skeptical of The Warren Commission, But They Believe in To The Bardos

Captain Squeegee Masons
Captain Squeegee's music sounds like this looks.
Talking about Captain Squeegee's new album, To The Bardos, frontman Danny Torgersen is excited about the songwriting and the performances, and he's excited about the crowdfunding campaign that made it possible--he's excited about most things, to be honest. But that's not what he's most excited about.

"I think Bob Hoag saved the record," he tells me. Hoag, who recorded and produced the album at Flying Blanket Recording in Mesa, was the impetus for all the crowdfunding in the first place.

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Why Courtney Cotter King Is Inspired by Fiona Apple and WALL-E

Courtney Cotter King
Nicki Escudero
Mesa-based pianist and singer-songwriter Courtney Cotter King is, among other things, the Valley's version of Zooey Deschanel. Not only is she a dead ringer for the new girl, Cotter King also achieves maximum quirk.

Describing one of her songs, "White Rhino," she says, "I started writing the piano to it, and it sounded like a rhino -- like stampeding. I started, like, thinking about rhinoceroses and this conversation I had with my sister about how we have to start saying no to things, because you can't be walked on. I don't know, maybe we're pushovers a little bit. I related that to rhinoceroses, because rhinoceroses don't take crap from anyone."

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Small Leaks Sink Ships Fights Big Problems to Play Again

Benjamin Franklin warned that small leaks can sink great ships, meaning you should sweat the small stuff. But for the progressive math-rock quintet that borrowed Franklin's aphorism, it's mostly been one big leak after another. Two nearly fatal car accidents -- one involving a motorcycle, the other a Vespa -- plus a long battle with testicular cancer have kept Judd Hancock, Jim Mandel Jr., London Van Rooy, Rafael Macias, and Ryan Garner occupied for most of Small Leaks Sink Ships' career.

But the rubber cement that holds the band together is their knack for making the most of miserable situations.

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A$AP Ferg Makes His Own Name in The Mob

By Patrick Montes

In the hype and haze surrounding the timeframe between the viral success of ASAP Rocky's song "Purple Swag" and the release of Rocky's first mixtape, much of the internet's gaze was directed squarely at the flamboyant, charismatic young Harlemite. Yet, when his "Live.Love.ASAP" mixtape was released part of the limelight had shifted. Rocky continued to soar artistically and his popularity started to boil over into the mainstream to the point where he was collaborating with Rihanna and appearing on TV, but the launch of his first mixtape showed there were others with the "ASAP" prefix to their name who were worth watching.

The most prominent of them all was ASAP Mob crewmember and fellow New Yorker ASAP Ferg, whose slinky, sinewy ode to codeine and promethazine on "Kissin' Pink" was one of the most ear-catching bits of Rocky's mixtape.

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