What do you get when you mix Foghat, Ziggy Marley, and a Mariachi band? What sounds like a sure way to get your DJ beat up is just another day on the bandstand for Tempe, Arizona’s Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, which will have spent nearly 20 years mashing genres by the time they arrive at the Music Box on September 14. Operating under the theory that a honky-tonk needs more than just honkies to rattle the roof, the group features Clyne partnering once again with drummer Paul Naffah, from their former band the Refreshments (probably best known for the King of the Hill TV theme song, though you’d likely recognize their radio staple “Bandidos” if I hummed a few bars on the kazoo). Their newest full-length Native Heart debuted at number 15 on the iTunes Albums chart and number 4 on iTunes Alternative, both good digits in a world increasingly qualified by clicks and likes. Two singles can be sampled free online: “Flowerin’” mocks the hippie lifestyle and worldview with intentionally insipid lyrics like “the shadows keep on cowering and the flowers keep on flowering,” while “Hello Tiger” is a straight-up roadhouse rocker suitable for everything from cutting in on someone else’s old lady on the dancefloor to punching out a dude in the bathroom who looks like (and may well have been) one of those dudes from Foghat.
When the Babe Rainbow hits town October 19, many will likely be at the Blonde Bar to catch opening act Maybird, whose sophomore EP Unraveling just dropped via Danger Mouse’s 30th Century Records. The psychedelic roots rockers are doing a residency next month at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory, and recent festival appearances earned such noteworthy buzz that the Rochester, New York–based band is booking dates through the end of the year and beyond. The new Maybird EP sports approximately twice the energy and luster of their forgettable 2013 debut, recorded back when they were just an entry level East Coast indie band with a few good chops and little idea what to do with them. You can probably thank (or blame) Unraveling producer Patrick Carney of the Black Keys for polishing what many thought was a turd and transforming it into the newest jewel in Danger Mouse’s crown of co-creation, currently including everything from the Baby Driver soundtrack to label signees like former Yellowbirds frontman Sam Cohen, Nine Pound Shadow, Jordan Max, and Autolux.
Touring in support of their Moment Apart album, the duo of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight, aka Odesza, just added four more dates to their world tour, including October 19 at Valley View Casino Center. The former Sports Arena is one of the largest indoor venues yet to host the Seattle-based production duo, which, with a mere two albums under their sparkly suspenders, has already notched over 30 number ones at the oh-so-accurately-named Hype Machine. It’s indicative of a sea change in the music industry that Odesza is mainly marketed via free streams on sites like Pandora and Spotify, as well as offering variations of all their tracks on YouTube, where they’ve been able to achieve numbers in the billions before hoovering penny one from any listener’s pocket, not even “pay what you want.” The music is monetized by branding over bargaining, in order to build up a listener base large enough to land the gigs that bring out both fans and wallets. Opening acts like indie dance duo Sofi Tukker, whose newest track “Fuck They” scored over a million Spotify streams within the past two weeks, hopes to climb that same stairway to statistical success.
Another band with over 20 years of history behind them, Thievery Corporation was founded as the house DJ collective at Washington DC’s Eighteenth Street Lounge. With a signature dub variation on Jamaican music that has taken them on dozens of world tours to around 30 countries, their newest release, The Temple of I & I, features Jamaican singer and MC Racquel Jones, a former Miss Jamaica contestant with a fiery, show-stopping voice who’ll accompany them at the Belly Up on October 26.
I had already bookmarked for replay two new tracks from Ladan Hussein, aka Cold Specks, before I got word of her upcoming November 13 show at Soda Bar, where the usual sounds of City Heights will be complemented by a not-oft-heard (in that neighborhood, anyway) shout-out to a semi-mythical Somali queen of female empowerment named Araweelo. The tale Hussein spins on the title track of her new album Fool’s Paradise, which features the Somali-Canadian vocalist singing in Somali on record for the first time, concerns how Araweel violently castrated her male prisoners, almost surely a topic never before tackled in song by a Canadian Juno Award nominee for Breakthrough Artist of the Year. Both that track and the other I’ve been spinning, “Wild Card,” was produced and mixed by longtime collaborator Jim Anderson, both featuring guest bassist Tim Kingsbury (Arcade Fire), who adds a welcome pop sheen to the proceedings. Hussein’s own career path seems to have eschewed chasing those streaming stats in favor of high-profile commercially released collaborations, where she’s been able to maintain her distinctively soulful muse while appearing on records by Moby, Massive Attack, Swans, and jazz trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. The latter returned the favor by appearing on her sophomore full-length Neuroplasticity, which also features Swans founder Michael Gira.
If a Primus fan asked you for an accurate and useful Recommended-If-You-Like list of similar acts, that list would probably become pretty sparse after Mr. Bungle, Hella, Captain Beefheart, late-60s Zappa, and maybe Spinal Tap. I nominate Sacramento-based genre-hoppers Tera Melos for said list as well, considering their inconsistently consistent sound is kinda like listening to prog while tripping on the brown acid at Woodstock. One man’s bummer is another’s bender. As with Primus, a lot of musicians tend to show up for Tera Melos concerts who wouldn’t be caught dead covering one of the band’s songs, but would cite them in their liner notes as an “influence” anyway. The group doesn’t have any new music to sell you, but that shouldn’t deter anyone brave enough to breach the Casbah gate to see them on November 16.