SourceVictoria, written extensively about here and here, now get some love in The Rep, the weekly entertainment tabloid of The Arizona Republic. It’s a featured called “With the band,” in which the writer hangs for a night with the band members. Dinner and bowling were on the agenda for this story. It’s a good look into the personalities of the guys.
Whoa. How did I miss this? Arizona’s best-known band, Jimmy Eat World, is releasing a five-song EP called Stay On My Side next week that you can listen to at their My Space page. The band’s Web site says it’ll be up only for a limited time.
OK, pretty much everyone else has posted their rosters from our BFF (best friends forever? No, Blogger Fantasy Football) draft last night. I haven’t had time to analyze my roster. But here it is:QB: Michael Vick
QB: David Carr
RB: Deuce McAllister
RB: J.J. Arrington (my “sleeper”)
RB: Thomas Jones
WR: Marvin Harrison
WR: Keenan McCardell
WR: Matt Jones
WR: Muhsin Muhammad
TE: Todd Heap (ASU represent)
K: Neil Rackers
DEF: Chicago Bears
The presence of TWO Arizona Cardinals players frightens me. But I’m liking Arrington. McAllister is a fantasy favorite of mine, and Thomas Jones will have to hold off Cedric Benson, or I could be in trouble there. I’m expecting passing and rushing yards out of Vick. I snagged Muhammad late. If Kyle Orton stays hot, I like that pick.
Photo by Christian Johnson
It’s high time I posted on an Arizona band. If you missed the last one on Reubens Accomplice, go do some research here. (As an update, Reubens is touring Europe in October. So, if you’re in the area, go check ‘em out.)
The band — Jason DiGiacomo (guitar), Ron Marschall (drums), Roland Daum (guitar, synthesizer), Sonny Coccera (bass) and Brock Ruggles (vocals, guitar) — is decidedly lo-fi through a compelling mixture of indie, alt-country and a sometimes Low-ish depressive vibe.
Ruggles’ vocals are wistful and moody, and for some reason, tend to make me nostalgic for something I’m not even sure exists. “Will the pain give up the sky to sun beams / to warm the hearts of those who grieve,” on Carolina, an indie-twangy number off Once.
At its core, Reubens Accomplice consists of two members: Chris Corak and Jeff Bufano, who were high school classmates. The pair launched Reubens in 1994 and have released two albums I Blame the Scenery (Better Looking Records) and The Bull, the Balloon and the Family, the first album released under the Western Tread imprint, created by Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World and local promoter Charlie Levy.
Mixed by Chris Fudurich (Nada Surf, Matthew Sweet) and produced by Adkins, The Bull is a melodic exploration of emotions, not limited to the relationships of love. A recurring theme in Reubens’ lyrics is our ties to a city, a landscape and how that shapes us. On Lost Sun: “This desert floor has a way of keeping us here / suffering, developing hatred ’til we disappear.”
Even with Corak and Bufano splitting songwriting duties, The Bull maintains a cohesiveness held together by catchy melodies and shifts in rhythm. The Bull, which features guest spots from Howe Gelb of Giant Sand and Dave Bazan of Pedro the Lion, is simultaneously melancholy and hopeful. (On a personal note, I’ve met Corak several times and he couldn’t be a nicer guy; reason enough to listen.)
Seven Storey Mountain is, by far, one of my favorite bands from Arizona. The best compliment I can pay is that they don’t sound like a local band, if that makes sense.
The band has undergone plenty of turnover, but the one constant is singer/songwriter/guitarist Lance Lammers, the brains of the operation. Seven Storey Mountain (which, for a short time, truncated its name to Seven Storey) has made several appearances on Deep Elm’s Emo Diaries collections. But I’m hesitant to label it “emo.” If emo is about baring your soul and getting in touch with feelings, Lammers is more about relieving the burdens of emotions in sonic thrusts. It’s relationships and reality gone awry, then examining the wreckage. Catharsis defined.
The band’s first LP, Leper Ethics, released on Art Monk Construction, is engaging and introspective. Deep Elm released the follow-ups, “Based on a True Story” (an EP) and “Dividing By Zero.” (All available through Stinkweeds.)
A new LP is due for release this year, and Lammers has posted four demos at the band’s spot on My Space. There are MP3s at the band’s Web site, and I have a few of my favorites to add (all recommended, including the scathing “Politician.”)
Digging into the crates of Arizona’s hip-hop past, Supermarket is bound to turn up. I can’t believe this album (1996) is almost 10 years old. To me, these guys represented all that was right in hip-hop: fun flows, creative beats, and they never took themselves too seriously.
The group — emcees Fluid, Ruckus and Type O and DJ Jimi the Mantis Claw — formed in 1994. That was about the time I was in college, knee-deep in all things hip-hop: A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Digable Planets … they were all at their peak. And their influence is pretty evident in Dump Koch, named in honor of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, whose vehement crackdown on graffiti ran contrary to hip-hop culture’s street-art ethos.
Supermarket also takes shots at the bluster of gangsta rap via skits (a la De La Soul) and “covergirl emcees” using all those “verbal cosmetics.” DJ Z-Trip, whose name you’ll see plenty on this site, worked production on the album. This album was great because they repped Arizona to the fullest, with mentions of the 6-0-2 — Phoenix area code, y’all — and, on True Feelings, they name-check “6th and Mill,” the main drag in downtown Tempe. On the same track, Fluid drops the perhaps the album’s best line: “I’m a hypochondriac, all my styles are sick.”
The group quietly dissolved, but last I read the guys reunited for a show in May. Be sure to peep my personal fave Frontal Lobe Piercing, which includes a guest spot from local emcee Puma.
If you got to the end of the previous post (thank you), you read that I had a personal investment in the local music scene. Alas, I begin features on Arizona bands with a logical (if not nepotistic) choice: sourceVictoria, also known as my brother’s band.
Obviously, it’s hard to stay objective on this one. The truth is, though, my big bro, Brendan, was the inspiration for starting this blog. I sent MP3s to a few other blogs, and Dodge at My Old Kentucky Blog posted — twice! (Thanks, Dodge.) But I decided I could help out in my own right because a) Brendan is my brother and b) if he wasn’t my brother I’d still think sourceVictoria is more than worth it. Honest.
That said, I’m stuck somewhere in the middle here. It’s probably unfair of me to compare them to some national act — I’d rather let unbiased ears do that. But here’s the set-up: Brendan (vocals/guitar), Darren Henley (drums), Jeff Livingston (piano/synth), Mike Risch (bass).
What I will say is that I don’t think I’ve seen my brother so driven by any other musical endeavor. Both the songwriting and music are honest; nothing feels contrived. I recently spent some time snapping photos in the studio while they recorded. The guys take painstaking attention: Every note and every beat feels thoroughly thought out. And I do believe that comes through in the music.
I could go on, but I’d rather let the music do the talking, as the cliche goes. These songs can be found on the band’s self-titled EP, available at the Web site. One note: The first track, Opportunistic, was remixed with a new guitar part by Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World.
Tell us what ya think.
The primary focus of this blog is to highlight some of the talented musicians and bands from Arizona, a state that, at times, lags in its suppport of local music. To that end, I’ll regularly post about bands/musicians/DJs (with music) from the state, past and present. From Flagstaff to Phoenix to Tucson and points in between.
But, first, a little background (which in no way is meant to be an all-encompassing history): The scene in Phoenix/Tempe — and the rest of the state for that matter — probably isn’t unlike most cities. There are bands that have “made it” commerically (Jimmy Eat World, DJ Z-Trip and, going back a few years, the Gin Blossoms and the Refreshments), bands that have been on the brink (Gloritone, Dead Hot Workshop) and others that have had success to the chagrin of the majority (we apologize for Trik Turner).
The talent is diverse, but the support is typically slow to follow. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reasons. Apathy is as good as any. Of course, we all know the influence of radio and MTV, so familiarity — or lack thereof — enters the equation.
Tempe, home of Arizona State and a lot of the Valley’s music activity, always seemed on the verge of national recognition but never quite got over the hump. The cause has been handicapped by the commercialization and big-box takeover of the city. Two of the cities best local-music venues, Nita’s Hideaway and Long Wong’s, a divey spot that gave rise to plenty of bands, were forced to fold.
The momentum, hopefully, is on the upswing. Jimmy Eat World’s success has brought mention of Arizona (Mesa, to be exact) to the masses. Calexico (Tucson) has built quite a following, as well. Two local stalwarts — Kimber Lanning (owner of Stinkweeds Records and Modified Arts and promoter Charlie Levy of Stateside Presents — are helping the Valley’s hip factor, by drawing indie acts like the Mountain Goats, Sufjan Stevens, the Decemberists, to name a few.
I have a personal investment in the scene (which I’ll get to in the next post), but most of all I simply think there are quality bands that deserve a forum. Hope you take the time to give ‘em a listen — and I promise: no Trik Turner.