Under The Radar Bands
Coming to Phoenix In August
From Shabazz Palaces To Tall Tall Trees, The List Of Artists Coming To The Valley In August Has Something For Everyone
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
August 11, 2017 — August is a godsend for music fans in the Valley with eclectic tastes. Rather than just your run of the mill indie fare, the lineup this month includes everything from a popular hip hop duo to a man and his banjo.
And if those choices do not tickle your fancy, you can always catch Planes on Paper. If the rave reviews the band has received from music press across the country is to be believed, the band’s live shows are not to be missed.
Washed Out’s Ernest Greene has been busy being lazy. After releasing his first two extended plays in 2009, signing to Sub Pop and releasing his debut album Within and Without in 2011. In 2013, he released his sophomore album Paracosm, featuring his song “Feel It All Around” for the TV show Portlandia.
Washed Out took some time off to focus on his next release: the visual representation of his music with an ambitious, collaborative artistic visual album, Mister Mellow. Throughout the album, you can find themes of boredom, laziness, complete apathy; is it a quarter-life crisis or just an excuse to never grow up? This is the world that Washed Out, conjures up on Mister Mellow.
For many millennials, life can be overblown and over-dramatized to the point of absurdity. Their ways of distracting themselves from the insecurities they face on a daily basis are just as absurd, from social media and fantasy to drugs and music. Mister Mellow, Washed Out's first fully immersive multimedia experience, playfully guides the listener through the highs and lows of this often ridiculous struggle, and shines a light on the humor in this paradox — how we can be so bored and unhappy in what is often a very privileged, contented life. This theme isn’t entirely new to Washed Out: Greene started exploring way back in 2009 on the Life of Leisure EP; but the new visual album, which he conceived and spent two years creating, provides a fresh, modern perspective, musically and thematically.
On Mister Mellow, Washed Out steers clear of emotion to empathize with the minutiae of the world around him. Though Mister Mellow is an intensely personal album, its ideas and observations speak to the lived experience of so many young adults, an experience that we come to see as both funny and sad. Washed Out will be performing on Monday, August 14 at Marquee Theatre, 730 N. Mill Ave., Tempe.
Tall Tall Trees
To say that Mike Savino is an innovator would be an understatement. Touring under the moniker Tall Tall Trees, the banjo-wielding bard has reshaped the landscape of what is possible with the instrument. On stage and in studio, Savino breaks down the banjo into its most basic iteration, reminding audiences that the banjo is, at root, a drum. Coupled with his mastery of electronic effects, loops, toy ray guns, and heaps of spontaneous creativity, Tall Tall Trees has been encapsulating audience members worldwide with his mystifying solo shows, as well as playing alongside fellow innovator Kishi Bashi.
Savino’s latest album Freedays is, in a way, his debut album. After recording two previous albums in a traditional collaborative band setting, Savino first took on solo writing and recording on Freedays.
Beginning in 2015, Savino took a much-needed respite from New York City, where he had spent a decade and a half honing his craft, and assumed the role of sole caretaker at an abandoned health retreat nestled in the green mountains of northern Georgia. The Bird’s Nest, as it was called, completely surrounded by national forest, provided the freedom and space to work without time constraints or interruption. Composed and recorded over a period of eight months, Freedays tells the story of a man in transition and documents an artist alone at the crossroads of the life he has and the one he wants. Although it’s often hard to imagine, most of the sounds on the album are experiments with the banjo, and they all reflect the innovative musings of one of the freshest sounds to come out of the Appalachians in decades. Be sure to see Tall Tall Trees playing his banjo-laden tunes on Tuesday, August 15 at Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix.
Shabazz Palaces is a Seattle-based hip hop duo composed of Ishmael Butler a.k.a. Palaceer Lazaro (formerly Butterfly of jazz rap group Digable Planets) and multi-instrumentalist Tendai "Baba" Maraire, son of mbira master Dumisani Maraire. They have been active since 2009 and have released two studio albums to critical acclaim.
They have recently released two more albums, Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines, both on Sub Pop. Speaking of air and darkness, Born on a Gangster Star came into the world in a big damn hurry, like nightfall on an island. You can see it happening, but then again it’s so gradual that the next thing you know—it’s dark. Imbued with the energy and ideas from all the creative embers floating in the atmosphere like fireflies, Shabazz Palaces recorded this entire album over the course of two weeks with Blood in Seattle.
New gear and new equipment disintegrated comfort zones into dust and a new path appeared in the ashes. Born on a Gangster Star flirts with a pop sensibility, but through the prism of Shabazz Palaces’s fire and fury. For the Palaceer, that sense is all about how the groove is moving, and the supernatural telepathy that occurs amongst his cohort. Appearing here, in body or in spirit, are Julian Casablancas, Thundercat, and more. Catch Shabazz Palaces perform on Sunday, August 20 at Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. 2nd Ave., Phoenix with Porter Ray and Galoreau.
Listen to LoveJoys, the sophomore release from Seattle’s Pickwick, and you’ll hear a band that has pushed aside external pressures and expectations, overcome internal demons, and plugged directly into their own creative center. Slinky, sinewy, and articulate, the record pulses with a palpable confidence. Hypnotically intricate, just-right sonic ornamentation shimmers around a thick, undulating bed of propulsive rhythm. Submit willfully, give yourself over to Pickwick’s practiced ministrations, and you’ll find yourself exhausted and deeply satisfied, slick with a sheen of glitter and sweat.
Following the breakout success of 2013’s self-released Can’t Talk Medicine, they holed up to begin work on what was to be the follow up release, and things got complicated. As the band was forty songs into writing a pop R&B record, they became deeply unsatisfied with the direction the music was taking. Written in the midst of personal and political turmoil, lyrically and sonically, LoveJoys became an escape somehow, a place for the band to purge all their deepest concerns while somehow also being relieved of them.
LoveJoys embodies the relationship between inspired creativity and the use of escapism as a way of getting there. Like little fossilized explorations of his own greatest fears and anxieties, Disston’s lyrics bury themselves into the band's bright new sonic landscape, both contradicting their collective fantasy and reminding them of why they chose to construct it in the first place. Pickwick is performing with Cataldo on Sunday, August 20 at Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.
Dietary Restructure A family man decides to get a consultation from a nutritionist. But when he realizes that losing weight will mean cutting out food items like cheddar fries, he obfuscates: all in good taste, of course.