Psyko Steve Presents
AJJ Presents: "Desert Trash" hosted by Kevin McDonald of Kids in the Hall
XIU XIU (SOLO), PHOENIX AFROBEAT ORCHESTRA, CHRIS FARREN, KARIMA WALKER, SUNDRESSED, DINERS, ROBIN VINING, KOLEZANKA
401 W. Van Buren St.
Phoenix, AZ, 85003
Doors 5:30 PM / Show 6:30 PM
This event is 13 and over
For their sixth album, garbage-pop veterans AJJ chose to reinforce their strengths and leave any limp frivolities behind. They reconvened with producer John Congleton, who oversaw 2014’s sonically expansive Christmas Island, but recorded and mixed the album in a mere nine days, having arranged most of the songs during tour sound checks and down-time in the van. This made for a confident stride into more elaborate arrangements and wider dynamics while staying just as dour. They also opted, amid some sensation, for the simplified band acronym (previously Andrew Jackson Jihad). Singer Sean Bonnette told The AV Club that, among many reasons, the change cleared a space for new imagery and allowed their music to define them, not their band name.
As a result, their new album, The Bible 2, is their most ambitious and assured collection of scuzzy punk screeds, employing even more production heft while sparing none of the vulnerability. The album’s mantra is placed right at the center: “No More Shame, No More Fear, No More Dread”. The Bible 2 finds the band choosing intimacy over isolation, gravity over the vacuum, the stage instead of the scene. The album is also an examination of boyhood from an adult distance, putting some of its tumult and pain to rest.
It’s also the most impressive work of Bonnette’s, who has honed his confessional lyrical prowess into a punk inflected mire of Trent Reznor’s unrestrained turmoil, Jamie Stewart’s profane gallows humor and a touch of David Berman’s surreal quotidian imagery. Opener “Cody’s Theme” rings like Jay Reatard distorted with Neutral Milk Hotel neuroses (“I set the mommy on fire / I set the baby on fire / not even Jesus could stop me”). The character of Cody, a recurring Bonnette motif, returns as a kool-aid stained kid navigating transience, intrusive thoughts and involuntary delusion, brimming wild with destructive energy and having nowhere to put it. Elsewhere, cross-eyed metaphors float above the shredded acoustic Pixies tension of “Terrifier” (“Some days you’re a member of Queen / other days you’re a Kottonmouth King”), and some of Bonnette’s most intense grotesqueries (“My blood is worse than your blood / this heart pumps baby piss”) get bit-crushed into the lo-fi Guided By Voices pop of “My Brain is a Human Body”.
But Bonnette’s narrative skills, and the band’s growing nuances, have never been more heartbreaking than on “Junkie Church”, a tender acoustic tale about affection and companionship on the lowest rung of society (“I used your ribs as ladders / and I climbed up on your chest / and I jumped up and down just like a trampoline” Bonnette sings). Preston Bryant’s synth, Mark Glick’s cello and Ben Gallaty’s bass are employed to haunting Leonard Cohen-like production ends, staccato plucks and serrated chords hiving like gnats then quickly dissolving into darkness. This cinematic arrangement also bolsters the power-folk epic “Small Red Boy”, organ heaves and cymbal swells coloring Bonnette’s vivid story of rebirth.
Near the album’s midpoint, right after spelling out their thesis, AJJ pounds through the jangly throb of “Goodbye O Goodbye”. The song is a cathartic fever dream, the band walloping furious chords, a kiss-off to so many things worth shedding: the emotional heap of a past life, some long-aching baggage, any and all expectations.
XIU XIU (SOLO)
Experimental noise pop group formed in 2002 from San Jose, California. The current lineup is Jamie Stewart (2) (the only constant member), Angela Seo and Shayna Dunkelman.
In collaboration with the Italian group Larsen the project Xiu Xiu Larsen / XXL (4) was established.
PHOENIX AFROBEAT ORCHESTRA
Founded somewhere in the 2010s by David Marquez, the Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, fronted by Camille Sledge, has grown into a diverse collective of musicians and artists representing over thirty Arizona acts from a variety of styles.
From clubs to concert halls, picnics to premiers, PAO is committed to playing social music, using one of the funkiest art forms on the planet.
Come out and dance with us sometime!
Chris Farren will be the first to tell you he's a "musician's musician" although he's not really sure what that means. Maybe it means that the Florida-based musician has been grinding it out for over a decade, making endless friends along the way. The charismatic frontman of the Naples band Fake Problems has toured with everyone from Against Me! to The Gaslight Anthem to Say Anything.
While not touring and recording with Fake Problems, Farren has been branching out and dipping his toes into other waters. He recently unveiled his two-man project with Bomb the Music Industry!'s Jeff Rosenstock called Antarctigo Vespucci, a refreshingly unpretentious pop machine. He's also been stripping things down and experimenting with solo material. Farren recently released a split EP with Grey Gordon, Ducks Fly Together. Without the comfort of a backing band, the self-made songwriter is seeing how far he can get on his own, with nothing but a ton of inspiration and a good reputation. After all, Chris Farren is a musician's musician. Ask anyone, just not him.
“We’re all in this weird world together” is a perfectly suited mantra to describe Phoenix, Arizona’s Sundressed. The quote, from vocalist and songwriter Trevor Hedges’ description of the message behind his own lyrics, is hopeful and unifying – and thoroughly summarizes the band.
Sundressed was initially created, in part, to help vocalist & songwriter Trevor Hedges maintain sobriety. Years later, the calm of a sober life has allowed Hedges to take his struggles and successes and refocus them to a broader scope. What’s truly remarkable is that he’s managed to achieve this without straying away from his signature mixture of self-deprecation and eager determination. What’s left is an uplifting take on the heavier aspects of life, inspiring hope without treading into trite or conceived territory.
The past two years have been monumentally prolific for Sundressed, releasing two EPs and a split with Nashville’s Secret Stuff in rapid succession between April 2015 and July 2016. Now, the five-piece outfit has readied their first full-length record, “A Little Less Put Together.” The LP, full of syrupy, yet poignant pop-punk songs wrought with massive hooks and stark lyrical honesty, is a must-listen for fans of Saves the Day, The Starting Line, & Transit. The uptempo bounciness and complex vocal melodies of “Mill Ave and Broadway” call back to mid-era Relient K, while the melancholy, synth-tinged “A Little Less Put Together” shows the band taking influence from Motion City Soundtrack. Ultimately, “A Little Less Put Together” is a perfect windows-down-on-a-warm-spring-day kind of record – capable of tugging at heart strings, but also demanding singalong after singalong with its huge, addictive choruses.
“A Little Less Put Together” was engineered, produced, mixed, and mastered by Curtis Douglas (The Maine), and will be out in March 2017 via Animal Style Records.
Tristan Jemsek, Jill Frensky, Tony Di Domizio, Aaron Ponzo, Mitchell Keaney, Cesar Ruiz, Trever Ducote, Kyle Daniels, Robert Raya, Nick Shively, Amanda Pitsch, Zach Burba, Bob Vielma, Andrew Kendall, Kyle Burnett, Christian Reeb, jalipaz, Brianna Johnson, Matt Kimball, Kristina Moore, Talisha Royer, Alex Cardwell, Logan Greene, Mari Morton, Erin Caldwell, Mike Sherk, Samuel Regan, Jason Anderson, Stephen Steinbrink, Chaz Tyler, and Patrick Sexton