13 Favorite Musician Interviews of 2013

Categories: It's 2013, Q&A

Flickr via Andrew Hyde
Whenever you're ready...
For music journalists, there's nothing better than when an artist or performer gives good quote. While musicians can be pretty hit or miss when it comes to interviews, when one gets garrulous and decides to dish or diss, there never seems to be enough tape or memory space available for their pearls of wisdom.

And some of the many interviewees from the music world that the scribes of Up on the Sun spoke to last year definitely dropped dime and got glib. And while it's a bit tardy, here's a baker's dozen of some of our favorite and most popular Q&A's from 2013.

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The Best Concerts I Saw in Arizona in 2013

Categories: It's 2013

Melissa Fossum
Jimmy Eat World: intimate show of the year

I'm sure you're burnt out on reading best of 2013 lists by now, but taking an extra two weeks to wrap up the best shows of the year list was productive. For one, it's tough to compare a small, intimate show like Jimmy Eat World's mini-Arizona tour against massive productions employed by the likes of Kanye West and Nine Inch Nails.

It's even more difficult because even though I probably went to more shows than you last year (81 total!), I still didn't get to see everything. I caught only glimpses of Fleetwood Mac, Kendrick Lamar, and The Who thanks to photo restrictions. There were plenty of scheduling conflicts where I may or may not have made the right call, and there is the fact that I missed most of September thanks to traveling -- but in the mean time, I was able to see the likes of My Bloody Valentine, The Breeders, The Replacements, Brand New, and more out of state, so I'd say it was productive.

Disclaimer- this is not an all-encompassing best shows of the year list. These are the 10 Arizona shows I enjoyed most in 2013 that are loosely in order.

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Why I Put a Band Called Chumped Ahead of Yeezus for the Best Album of 2013

Categories: It's 2013

Who are you guys and what have you done to Kanye West?
If you have a lot of music critic buddies, you've probably noticed that they're just now getting back to their usual neurotic selves. That's because they're finally done with year-end lists. Going from genre to genre can be especially difficult -- how does an up-and-coming pop punk band that wrote a nearly perfect EP stack up against the behemoth that is Yeezus?

My submission to Pazz & Jop (the long-running year-end Village Voice survey of thousands of music critics nationwide) is the result of rolling my eyes every time Miley Cyrus' shenanigans were mentioned. The female musicians who kicked ass this year didn't twerk with a teddy bear -- though Janelle Monáe gets a pass for mentioning twerking in "Q.U.E.E.N." -- these gals wrote albums full of emotion and soul.

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Thanks, Spotify, for Making Music Christmas Gifts Totally Impossible

Categories: It's 2013

Merry Christmas! Hope you like teen and middle-aged-lady clothing outlets.
Deep inside Spotify headquarters, at this very moment, some poor marketing team is tasked with the idea of making Spotify gift accounts sound like a good idea for a Christmas present. I know this because I am too cheap to pay to make the Spotify ads go away.

So far they've been wise enough not to try to dramatize the actual gift-giving act, because that's where the whole thing would fall apart. "Merry Christmas, person for which I'm trying to communicate my affection. I got you all the songs. For a month. None in particular, just--"

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8 Phoenix Bands Who Deserve to Be Famous Right Now

Categories: It's 2013, Lists

Gin Blossoms 2013 (Cave Creek)
The Gin Blossoms were ineligible for this exercise.
Sometimes it seems like wishing for a band to be famous is just the most polite way imaginable of wishing for all of its members to lead miserable, unloved, unfulfilling lives. Rest assured that when our writers got together to talk about Phoenix bands who deserve to be famous none of us meant it that way--when we say "famous," we aren't wishing for public meltdowns and twerking against Alan Thicke's son and alienation from all your non-famous friends.

We just mean that it would be cool if more people were listening to their music. (And if they want a verified Twitter account, or something, that'd probably be cool, too.) As the year draws to a close we'll be highlighting lots of bands and artists making a mark on the Valley's music types; here, in no particular order, are eight of them.

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Drake Is Invincible Because He's So Impossibly Vulnerable

Drake press photo
So who is this Drake guy, anyway?

Of course, there's Drake the superstar, the guy who opens his latest, Nothing Was the Same, with the brag that he's as famous as his mentor--though at this point, he's arguably much more famous than Lil Wayne, who signed him to Cash Money. Drake's the guy who casually hit on Scarlett Johansson on Late Night with Fallon, who's been ranked by Esquire as "the Sexiest Woman Alive" not once but twice.

There's Drake, the former child star whose career trajectory has found him dominating the charts, casually shuffling between hip-hop and R&B. Drake, the guy who popularized the term "YOLO," embraced by your little sister on Tumblr, guys ordering bottle service in Scottsdale, and your grandma justifying dessert at Applebees. Drake is an institution.

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The 5 Music Halloween Costumes Your Friends Already Hate

Categories: It's 2013, Lists

Miley Cyrus Robin Thicke VMA Costume
You can buy this at Yandy, if you're not convinced.
Your friends hate your Halloween costume idea. I'm not a mindreader or anything, but I'm just pretty sure that's the case if you're going in any pop cultural direction for this year's festivities, particularly pop music.

It isn't that this year's music memes are especially egregious, although one rises above the pack and then dives far, far below it -- it's that the sold-by date for memes, the window in which people will be impressed by your ability to re-create the thing they saw on TV, gets shorter every year. There's just too much of it already -- once a joke emerges, Twitter is relentless in beating it until there's nothing left except a trail of desiccated Will Ferrell Parody accounts.

I don't know what your idea is, in particular, but here are five you absolutely must avoid.

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The Format's Interventions + Lullabies Is 10, and You're Even Older

Categories: It's 2013

I think people have finally gotten used to the yearly back-to-school lamentations about just how old or nonexistent college freshmen were when Kurt Cobain died, so here's a new one: The Format's Interventions + Lullabies, the erstwhile Great Arizonan Hopes' infamously under-supported major-label album, turned 10 years old Monday.

Surprise: You are becoming an old person. Less surprising: This is still a really, really good album.

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Volbeat's Michael Poulsen: The Biggest Mission We Have on Earth Is Finding Love

Volbeat press photo 2013
Elvis, Johnny Cash, King Diamond, Black Sabbath, Ramones, Fats Domino, Motorhead--these are just a few of the influences that make Danish rock band Volbeat tick. And it seems to work out for them. They've been headlining in Europe for almost a decade, and all of their studio albums have been certified gold. Their second album, Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil went platinum, and 2010's Beyond Hell/Above Heaven went double platinum in Denmark, platinum in Finland and Germany, and gold in Austria and Sweden.

Within the past few years they've been bringing their rockabilly-meets-classic-rock-meets-heavy-metal to the United States, and over that time they've steadily been gaining popular ground.

Up On the Sun talked with vocalist/guitarist Michael Poulsen about his favorite decade of music, the influence Arizona has on the band's Wild West imagery, and how the band's sound will evolve now that they have a thrash guitarist on board.

Volbeat is playing Desert Uprising with Avenged Sevenfold, HIM and Halestorm at Ak-Chin Pavilion on Friday, September 13.

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Why "Summertime Sadness," and Not "Blurred Lines," Is The Song of the Summer

Categories: It's 2013

Do you feel it in the air tonight?

Summer of 2013 can more or less be summed up with three songs--Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," Icona Pop's "I Love It" and Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness." All three tunes are a little grim--"Blurred Lines" can be interpreted as glorifying rape, Icona Pop has no problem with trashing her car, and Lana is fine with driving 99 MPH and dying on the freeway. But hey, they're all catchy songs, so that's all that matters, right?

Lana Del Rey is a polarizing musician and it's easy to dislike her. Songs like "Video Games" sound like a second rate Joanna Newsom trying to win over the World of Warcraft contingent.

But a certain remix of "Summertime Sadness" helped change my mind about her.

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