Anthony Valadez Talks About The Importance of Making Art for Yourself

Categories: hip-hop

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Theo Jemison
Anthony Valadez

It's easy to find new and interesting music these days. All we have to do is pull up an app on our smartphone, and in seconds we can find a song that will hopefully move, motivate, or make us feel that special something in the gray matter between our headphones. Once upon a time, though, finding music that was left of center wasn't easy. Just ask Los Angeles-based Anthony Valadez, a photographer, record producer, podcaster, blogger, and the Monday late-night DJ at Santa Monica's public radio station, KCRW. The multi-hyphenate, who was hunting for early-'90s hip-hop and underground French artist DJ Cam in his formative years, recalls the journey he used to take to retrieve an album from his favorite record store.

"Melrose had all the cool, hip record shops," Valadez says. "I used to take the bus and travel down to Hollywood to just buy one or two records, because that's all I could afford at the time. I remember just sitting in the record store for hours and hours and I'd come home with two records, but those two records justified the whole trip."

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Tempe's Gilgongo Records Celebrates 10 Years of Underground Music

Categories: Music Features

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Jason P. Woodbury
James Fella performing at the Trunk Space in downtown Phoenix.
Gilgongo Records founder James Fella smiles mischievously as he pulls a record from a sleeve and puts it on the turntable.

"This is incredible," he says, dressed unassumingly in a button-down, blue jeans, and New Balances. The youthful-looking 32-year-old brushes his hair to the side as haunting sounds emit from the speakers, muffled strands of "Martha My Dear," that sound warbled and transmuted.

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8 Best Christmas Songs Written By Jews

Categories: Lists

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A still from Judy Garland Christmas Special
The incomparable (and Jewish) Mel Torme, singing here with Judy Garland. Torme penned the iconic "The Christmas Song."

As an American Jew in December, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. After all, Christmas is a very important Christian holiday, while for Jews, Hanukkah isn't even in the top three. Everywhere you look there is a light display, nativity scene, or TV whacko reminding you that the vast majority of your fellow countrymen don't share your religious beliefs. But turn on the radio, and the sappy "Christmas" songs you hear every year are mostly secular. And guess what? Many of those songs were written by Jews, who were often recent immigrants or their children. So these Jewish songwriters, while trying ton integrate into an at-times hostile society, wrote some of the most timeless holiday songs, focusing not on divinity but on universal experiences like missing loved ones during the holidays and the sweet smell of roasted chestnuts. So the following songs, all written by Jews, are not just celebrations of the most unifying parts of the holiday season -- family and togetherness -- but a triumph of the American melting pot immigrant experience. In honor of the first night of Hanukkah, here are the eight best Christmas songs written by Jews.

P.S.: The worst Christmas song ever, "Do They Know It's Christmas," was not written by a Jew. One of the song's writers, Bob Geldof, has a Jewish paternal grandmother, but Geldof told a magazine that he currently practices no religion. Whew.

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Weird Al's UHF Turns 25 and the World Finally Catches Up

Categories: Television

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Shout Factory
"Weird" Al Yankovic in UHF.

The year 2014 may go down as humanity's Weirdest. By that, we mean it's the year that the Prince of Parody "Weird Al" Yankovic has made "Weird" the new cool. After three decades of pop-decimating debauchery, we saw Yankovic finally land his first No. 1 album in Mandatory Fun, as well as roll out video after video with A-List cameos and ubiquitous media attention. For his legion of Al-oholics, these props are long overdue.

Capping off a banner year is the special 25th anniversary edition of UHF. Yes, a quarter-century ago, Weird Al made a movie. It's a film with a following is so loyal and so esoteric, it has become the epitome of a cult classic.

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10 More Underrated Punk Records: A Christmas List

Categories: Lists

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Tom Reardon

It's that time of year again, kids. I'm sure you know the one. It's time to ask your Aunt Jean for a new record to throw on the family stereo at inopportune times so you can show how tortured your teenage soul has become. You need this, badly, and Aunt Jean is just crazy enough to say yes, take you down to the local record store, and pony up the dough for a record or two your parents would never buy.

Solely because I care, here's a list of 10 records you can ask the ol' spinster for, because though they are classics in some households, sadly, they've been overlooked in too many others. They come guaranteed to piss off your dad, render your mom incontinent, startle your pastor, and turn your older sister into a drug addict, but what do you care? Record collecting is where it's at, and someday you're going to work in a strip mall anyway, so you'll need a good Christmas (or Hanukah or Festivus) story to share.

If you can find 'em, buy these . . .

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How Mighty Mighty Bosstones Created Ska-Core

Categories: Q&A

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Drea Catalano
Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Determining which came first -- ska or punk -- is irrelevant. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones offer up a duel personality that's simultaneously abrasive and chill. First (or maybe second), the driving energy and angst of punk rock pushes the pace, while the cool riddims, staccato guitar and punctuating horn blasts of ska strive for equal rights. Put it together and you have the Boston band's contribution to musical history: Ska-core.

"The same person who played the punk rock records for me, played some English ska records. I fell in love with the punk and the ska," says MMB founder Dickey Barrett.

Barrett deftly merged the two styles together, creating a sound ideal for pulling on a blunt, then working it off in the mosh pit. The band's latest album, Magic of Youth, features a decidedly harder edge, though Barrett insists the ska influence remains.

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6 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Categories: This Week

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A still from Stiches' "Brick in Yo Face" video
Stitches brings his creepy face tattoos to Joe's Grotto Tuesday night.

'Tis the season for something. Whether you unironically don an ugly Christmas sweater and embrace the holidays or spend December bitching about consumerism and the inherent shallowness of modern society, there's something about the last month of the year you're doing differently. If you can spare the dough from your gift-buying budget, check out the following concerts. You can find many more options on our comprehensive concert calendar.

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Widespread Panic, Passion Pit, and More to Play McDowell Mountain Music Festival

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Andy Tennille
Widespread Panic is headlining McDowelll Mountain Music Festival.

Get ready, jam band fans. Your demigods, Widespread Panic, are coming in just a few short months.

Concert organizers announced the lineup of the McDowell Mountain Music Festival over the weekend. On top of the bill are Widespread Panic, the jam band legends. Joining them are Passion Pit, Thievery Corporation, Phantogram, Portugal. The Man, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Beats Antique, Trampled by Turtles, StrFkr, Robert Delong, and Break Science.

The festival takes place at Margaret T. Hance Park March 27-29. All proceeds of the festival will go to Phoenix Children's Hospital Foundation and UMOM New Day Center. According to organizers, the previous 11 festivals have raised more than $1 million for charity.

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Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding Proof of Shock Rocker's Legacy

Categories: Classic Rock

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Jim Louvau
Alice Cooper still has it at 66. Full slideshow here.

Musically, Phoenix doesn't have a ton to brag about. Sure,, we've had some locals make noise in the national circuit like Jimmy Eat World, Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, not to mention people like Rob Halford and Stevie Nicks, who have had homes in the Valley at one point or another. We saw Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac last week, but over time our proven winner is clearly Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Alice Cooper.

At 66 years old, Cooper qualifies for every senior citizen discount offered in the Valley, but on Saturday night he reminded local fans just how important he is, not only as a musical figure but how his influence will live far beyond his years.

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Francisco the Man Is A Real Band and Does Exist

Categories: Q&A

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Jessica Isaac
Francisco the Man

Whether it's apathy or simply ignorance, some bands tend to remain mostly hidden from the world. This can add an air of mystery, or perhaps lead to an underground cult following that will ultimately lead to a burgeoning career. For Los Angeles' Francisco the Man, there's no real answer for the band's inaccessibility.

"We're a real band, we do exist," guitarist and vocalist Scotty Cantino confirms during a recent phone interview. "I don't really think too much about online prescience, maybe to a fault. ... We just focus on writing songs, recording and playing shows."

The band just released it's debut album, Loose Ends, a dreamy atmospheric pop extravagance that deftly melds '90s shoegazer with '80s new wave and '00s floaty electronics. It's an interesting stylistic mix -- urgent, buoyant and pulsating.

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