Under The Radar Bands
Playing Phoenix In May
A Diverse Slate Of Bands, From Bleached To Vallis Alps, Are Playing Phoenix-Area Venues In May
Editor’s note on Undiscovered Sounds: Every so often, Modern Times Magazine talks to bands or other musical performers who have yet to hit the jackpot both in the Phoenix metro and beyond. For some of those featured, it may be the first time they have been interviewed. Others may have been working for years for their ship to come in. But all of them have the dream. They may make Undiscovered Sounds, but their sounds are not unworthy.
By Mandi Kimes
Modern Times Magazine
May 5, 2017 — The Valley’s music calendar is packed with an array of bands that fans can see without breaking the bank. These under the radar acts might never headline the Fyre Festival, which is probably a good thing, but they are bringing a diverse slate of music to Arizona. The offerings in May include everything from Cambodian and American band Dengue Fever to Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche to the eclectic Mr. Elevator.
Los Angeles band Bleached, the punk band lead by sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin, released its Can You Deal? EP last month via Dead Oceans. Recorded quickly in the midst of a break between months of touring, the EP captures the raw energy the band had been experiencing on stage. Jennifer Clavin released a statement that, in part, said, “To have [my art] received with such a generic labeling as ‘girl band’ and consistently referenced as ‘female fronted’ is insulting and reductive. The title track to this EP, Can You Deal? is about this experience.” The EP follows the release of its most recent album, Welcome The Worms, for which the band played Late Night With Seth Meyers. Bleached will perform at Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, on Wednesday, May 3.
The Los Angeles-based Cambodian and American band Dengue Fever released its self-titled album in 2003 with no idea how it would be received. More than a decade and four additional releases later, the band is about to embark on its longest tour ever. In fact, the reaction to Dengue Fever’s music was so strong in the early 2000s that the band’s sophomore album, 2005’s Escape from Dragon House, was an attempt to steady the waves its debut caused by expanding its boundaries writing original material. Today, partly because of those first two albums, Dengue Fever is recognized for its trademark blend of 1960s Cambodian pop and psychedelic rock. Now, albums like Venus on Earth, Cannibal Courtship and the lesser known In The Ley Lines, have cemented the band members as true global pioneers who are constantly evolving their sound forward. Currently, Dengue Fever is set to release deluxe edition reissues of its first two albums with bonus tracks, expanded liner notes, upgraded artwork and new packaging. Don’t miss Dengue Fever perform with Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra on Thursday, May 4 at Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. 2nd Ave., Phoenix.
The Weeks recorded Easy over the course of two weeks at Memphis’ Ardent Studios with producer Paul Ebersold. The band members left Nashville to record in order to disassociate themselves from their everyday routines in the city, and to find a halfway point between their two homes old and new, Mississippi and Nashville. Formed when its members were in high school in Jackson, Miss.,, the band self-released its debut EP Dog Days in 2006. More than 10 years and a handful of critically acclaimed albums later, the band has relocated to Nashville and toured extensively worldwide with Kings of Leon, The Meat Puppets, North Mississippi Allstars, Local H and many more. This time, it brings its headlining to set to Pub Rock Live, 8005 E. Roosevelt Street, Scottsdale, on Friday, May 5.
Tim Kasher released his new solo album No Resolution last month via 15 Passenger, the new label owned and operated by the members of Cursive. Recognized for pushing musical boundaries throughout his career—whether he's switching up sounds between his bands and solo LPs, crafting intricate concept albums, or transforming songs originally conceived as a soundtrack for his self-penned screenplay into a standalone— Kasher has a natural evolution of his body of work in No Resolution. It is his most cinematic creation, a moving and cathartic collection of soundscapes that feels more like a suite of movements than a standard pop album, complete with instrumental breaks conjoining the nine songs. No Resolution was written throughout 2013-15 and recorded at The Hobby Shop with Andrew Murdock and at Kasher's home in Los Angeles, the Shape Shoppe in Chicago with Nick Broste, and at ARC Studios in Omaha with Ben Brodin. Filled with lush arrangements that include piano, vibraphone, organ, trumpet, synths, and various strings, the album is some of the most beautiful and finely orchestral music from Kasher, yet it is also his most subdued and understated work. Come see Kasher bring his album to life at Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, on Saturday, May 6.
Sondre Lerche is a Brooklyn-based Norwegian singer-songwriter, composer, and guitarist. His eclectic and richly melodic debut, Faces Down, written and recorded at age 16, was named among the best albums of the year, and listed as one of the most remarkable debuts of 2002 by Rolling Stone Magazine. Now 15 years and several albums later, 2017 sees Lerche embarking on a new world tour and just recently releasing new album Pleasure last month. Lerche will be performing on Saturday, May 6 at Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. 2nd Ave., Phoenix.
Baked is a five-piece psychedelic indie rock band from Brooklyn consisting of vocalist-guitarist R.J. Gordon, guitarist Davey Jones, bassist Jeremy Aquilino, synth-player Isabella Mingione, and drummer Yoni David. Founding members play in both Leapling and Lost Boy. Baked was born in 2012 shortly after members of the bands opened Big Snow Buffalo Lodge. Baked released its self-titled EP in 2013. The EP was re-released by Forged Artifacts in 2014. Their debut LP, Debt, was released later that year on Exploding in Sound Records. On its new release Farnham, there’s a newfound clarity, while the thick fog of reverb eschews throughout the band’s debut. Recorded together by the band and Adam Reich (Titus Andronicus, So So Glos, Bueno), the band sound better than ever with slick studio work that adds layers to the band’s often laid back yet always blistering guitars. Baked recreate classic rock in their own image, thick and devastating with a casual slow burning ease. It’s an album dedicated to a lost friend (Ken Farnham, the record’s namesake) but it’s also an album of a band that has experienced its own changes in members since their debut. Baked remains forever true to its own vision but its adapting and evolving as a collective, opting to recline a little deeper, push a little further, and create the best version of themselves they can muster up. Baked will be performing at Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, on Wednesday, May 17 with Twin Ponies, Dent, and Strange Lot.
Formed in Southern California in 2012 by Thomas Dolas and Justin Martinez (and their mutual love of Donovan), Mr. Elevator eschews guitars for vintage synthesizers, organs, and electric pianos, distinguishing itself within the fuzzy, distorted contemporary Psych-Pop scene. Under the original name Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel, the band began playing shows as a three-piece with bassist Wyatt Blair, and a short-while later, in 2013, relocated to Los Angeles where it released its first album, Nico & her Psychedelic Subconscious, with Burger Records. After a few years of live shows, perfecting their sound alongside acts like Thee Oh Sees, The Fresh & Onlys, The Black Lips, Allah-Las, and more, Mr. Elevator recently completed their second album. On When the Morning Greets You, the band’s love for vintage keyboard sounds, concept albums, and 1970s pop remains intact, furnishing an album that entrances listeners and evolves over the course of its run-time into an array of bright, complex patterns and shapes. The upbeat, colorful pop feel of Side A, for example, is slowly engulfed in the lush, synth-heavy soundscape of Side B (pointing in at least two distinct directions in regards to the sound of the next album). With the addition of a fourth member to the performing band, Mr. Elevator will be supporting the release of When the Morning Greets You at Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, with LA Witch on Thursday, May 18th.
With the world roiled by fear and division borne out of politics, economic uncertainty, and terrorism, perhaps there is no better time for the arrival of music underpinned by the belief that love wins. Into the maw of anxiety comes Vancouver's indie synth-rock band Mother Mother and its new album No Culture, which posits that society uses negative byproducts of culture—such as narcissism, hedonism, and addiction—as a means to nurture its fears of the unknown. For frontman Ryan Guldemond, stepping away from cultural influences was crucial to his ability to write Mother Mother's new album. Unless he did so, Guldemond was afraid he'd never be able to write another song, much less an album—a significant concern given that Mother Mother fans were expecting a follow-up to 2014's Very Good Bad Thing, which hit No. 1 on Canada's Alternative Albums chart. In 2015, the band, which also features singer-keyboardist Molly Guldemond (Ryan’s sister), singer-keyboardist Jasmin Parkin, drummer Ali Siadat, and bassist Mike Young, was nominated for a Juno Award for "Best Group" and toured the U.S. extensively, including dates with Imagine Dragons and AWOLNATION. They perform at Last Exit Live, 717 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, on Saturday, May 20.
If you missed Bloomington-based Hoops back in February, here’s your second chance to catch the band live. This four-piece conjures the idea of breezy afternoons and sticky summer nights—both in name and sound. All told, Hoops began as Drew Auscherman's solo ambient project. Over the course of 2014's summer in Bloomington, Hoops naturally filled out into a four-piece lineup featuring Kevin Krauter, Keagan Beresford, and James Harris. To date, Hoops has self-released three tapes which draw on influences such as Prefab Sprout and The Clientele. Still ingrained in the Bloomington music scene, the tapes are available to stream on YouTube—as well as other bands' tapes from around town. Hoops recently pressed Tape #3 which contains all three tapes in one and is available to order by emailing the band. Hoops released their self-titled EP last August on Fat Possum and will be playing those songs plus new ones at their show on Tuesday, May 22 at Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.
Parissa Tosif and David Ansari are Seattle-based electronic duo Vallis Alps. Their music blends down-tempo, piano-driven melodies and acoustic guitar with 1980s pop synths and gritty trap beats to complement their half-nostalgic, half-foretelling lyrics. Since releasing its independent self-titled debut EP in 2015, the pair's mesmerizing tunes have peaked at No. 1 on Hype Machine upon release. On the strength of its music alone, Vallis Alps was named as triple j Unearthed, AIR and FBi Radio feature artists. The band will be playing its debut headline show at Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, on Friday, May 26.
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