Tori Amos Emerges from Career Doldrums with Plenty to Say in Her Songs

Categories: Interview

Courtesy of Tori Amos
Tori Amos

There's that saying "the more things change the more things stay the same." In the 22 years since Tori Amos released her debut album, Little Earthquakes, the world has changed dramatically, but the singer has stayed remarkably true to herself. Of the topical and occasionally confrontational nature of her music, she says, "I think at different times, the songs have chosen to grab issues that are out there. It isn't always like that."

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The Making of the Phoenix Metal Scene: A Peek at the Men and Women Behind the Curtain

Maria Vassett
Alice Cooper is one of Phoenix's proud residents;

There's a lot to love within our fiery little corner of the rock and metal industry.

We've thelped breed some pretty legendary bands, like Sacred Reich, Flotsam and Jetsam, Job for a Cowboy, and Alice Cooper, to name a few. We have dozens of brutally talented underground bands, from melodic death metal (Vehemence, St. Madness), sludge and doom metal (From Dogs to Wolves, Tempel), thrash and psychedelic metal (Black Banner Dovichenko, Pelvic Meatloaf), as well as such events as Southwest Terror Fest and the Fuck Cancer benefit. Plus, back in 2012, Heavy Metal Television decided to plant roots in Mesa.

The rock and metal scene in Arizona is alive and well. And that is a direct result of a group of behind-the-scenes folks who keep the whole thing running.

Every month, the calendar is packed with shows. Bands regularly tour and record in the Valley of the Sun because we have a strong population of industry professionals. These professionals, from producers to club owners to promoters, are the very people that keep the local scene running like a well-oiled machine, dedicating their time and money to promoting the hell out of the Arizona heavy scene. It would be impossible to highlight every single person who contributes to the behind-the-scenes aspect, as there are many noteworthy figures and companies.

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Spoonboy, Bepstein, Electrisad, Straight Straws - Trunk Space - 7/21/14

Categories: Last Night

Photos by Troy Farah

Perhaps the reason garage rock fits so well at The Trunk Space is because the venue is the size and shape of a good-sized garage. The acoustics are just perfect for it. I never realized that before and that makes me like the small venue that much more.

Straight Straws opened the night with their mix of jangly guitar tunes and pop vocal melodies. Ben Nandin's project has been getting out a lot more, which is great. T.K. Campo (of T.K. and the Irresistibles) played bass and Max Martinez (of Wolvves) played drums. Sorry, I don't know the other guitarist.) There was a lot of dancing for them and they only slipped up once that I noticed, but immediately picked back up. Their vocal melodies make them a really fun band to see live.

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Weezer's Burning Sun Finally Leaked After 14 Years

Categories: Nostalgia

Monica McGivern

Weezer is the official band of AOL Instant Messenger. The years between 1996 and 2001, in which they went from well-reviewed one-hit-wonder to (briefly) unimpeachable generational touchstone, were peak-Buddy-List; in 2002 they demoed a song called "Private Message," which is exactly what it sounds like. At some point every word in the Blue Album and Pinkerton liner notes was used in an angst-ridden away message.

Even Rivers Cuomo spent an inordinate amount of time chatting with people on AIM -- which is exactly how a long-lost Weezer song fans have been waiting for for 14 years leaked a little more than a week ago.

See also: The really, really early interview with Rivers Cuomo

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Q&A: Boris' Noise a Map to the Band's Sound

A capture from Boris' music video, "Vanilla"

Nailing down Boris is no easy task. The Japanese band has released 19 albums in its 22-year career, all with varying material that shifts from doom metal, to prog rock, screamo to power pop, space to thrash--sometimes on the same album.

That's part of the band's appeal, however, as the trio follows its whim to make what feels right. Boris' latest, Noise, is perhaps the band's strongest in years, a mixture of finely crafted songs full of melody, mood swings and catchy hooks interlaced with masterful guitars among an overall proggy transcendence.

""If there is a sound map of Boris, Noise will be the center of it," Boris drummer Atsuo says simply.

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Des Ark Has a Booking Agent, But Aimée Argote's Still DIY to the Bone

Categories: Q&A

Courtesy of Des Ark
Aimée Argote of Des Ark

The one time I saw Des Ark, singer Aimée Argote broke the ice with the audience by suggesting they move closer. "We probably smell weird," she said, "but this is a punk show, so you probably don't mind."

Most of Des Ark's music is marked by this kind of frankness, maybe less about punk must and more about insecurities, traumas, hopes, and desires, all set against music that oscillates liberally between minimal, singer/songwriter quaintness to loud and obtuse movements that sound like they continue the legacy of a lot of the weird and innovative trends in punk and hardcore that characterized the '90s D.I.Y. scene in America.

Up on the Sun talked to Argote recently about the band's current activities and her approach to songwriting.

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Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special - Crescent Ballroom - 7/18/2014

Categories: Last Weekend

Jim Louvau
Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special, in front of strong local support, played the Crescent Ballroom Friday night. Full slideshow here.

On July 13, Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special announced through their Facebook page that they would be splitting with their original lead guitarist and chief songwriter Brandon Croft. Furthermore, the band announced that following their headlining date at Crescent Ballroom last Friday the band would be taking a hiatus for an undetermined amount of time.

"We would like to get our ducks in a row and come back with a bigger and better SR&MS," read the post. Quite frankly, I have to agree with that decision. Some time off could be exactly what Robinson and the Midnight Special needs to rekindle the passion that propelled them to local stardom so quickly.

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Jurassic 5 - Marquee Theatre - 7/19/2014

Categories: Last Weekend

Melissa Fossum
Jurassic 5

If having a packed house from start to finish is the benchmark for a great show, then Dilated Peoples and Jurassic 5 had a great one July 19. The Marquee Theatre was full of hip-hop heads throughout the evening, from M.C. Supernatural's opening freestyles all the way through J5's encore.

Many notable Phoenix hip-hop acts and promoters were present, too -- Dumper Foo of Drunken Immortals, Bronze Candidate and Liaison of Shining Soul, and M.C. Optimal were in attendance, among others.

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Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper - Ak-Chin Pavilion - 7/19/2014

Categories: Last Weekend

Maria Vassett
Mötley Crüe's final show in Phoenix. Full slideshow here.

'80's hair metal kings Mötley Crüe held very little back in the production department when their supposed final tour made its stop at Ak-Chin Pavilion on Saturday night to a sold out crowd. While there were enough pyro, flamethrowers, female dancers, and a lighting spectacle that would make a Nelson show exciting, the real question was would it be enough to distract fans from Crüe singer Vince Neil's often lackluster vocal chops or would he rise to the occasion. Luckily if the band tanked like it did on the opening night of the tour a couple weeks ago, opener and Valley legend Alice Cooper would save the day.

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10 Classic Punk Records That Actually Kind of Suck

Categories: Lists, Punk

Courtesy of Dead Milkmen
The Dead Milkmen: Bad? No. But classic? Also no.

I put on The Ramones' classic 1977 record Rocket To Russia recently in an attempt to join all of my Facebook friends in their collective sadness at the recent death of Tommy (Erdyli) Ramone. I used to love this record, but now, even though I wanted to feel some sense of loss, it became more and more apparent that after their eponymous first record, the Ramones just kept trying to make the same record over and over again.

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