FOXYGEN, THE URBAN LOUNGE, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 9 p.m., $15
Los Angeles duo Foxygen had already created a rep as experimental pop-rock masters thanks to early musical efforts that blended some orchestral pop with lo-fi chops. On their new album Foxygen…And Star Power, they push their musical palette to pleasing new extremes via a sprawling double-dose of songs running 82 minutes. It’s a concept album of sorts, involving a bunch of guest musicians, some monster-sized musical suites, and something about UFOs. I didn’t spend that much time trying to suss out the story, because the simple pleasure of listening to two young songwriters exploring every musical idea they could fit into a new batch of songs was enough. They’re a little bit retro, nodding to glam acts of yesteryear along the way, and that just makes me dig them all the more. Should be a great live show. Dub Thompson opens.
THE APACHE RELAY, KILBY COURT, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m., $16.50
Just five years since forming at a Belmont University dorm jam session and releasing their first album, the Apache Relay has already toured with the likes of Mumford & Sons and Jenny Lewis, hit major festivals like Bonnaroo and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and headlined their own tours across the country.
That doesn’t mean the band was in any hurry to record their latest, self-titled album, though, according to guitarist Ben Ford. Instead, the band headed out of Nashville for the sunny skies of Los Angeles and the famed Fairfax Recordings–better known to most as the Sound City recording studio where Tom Petty recorded much of his catalog, and Nirvana recorded Nevermind. Dave Grohl made a well-regarded documentary about the place a couple years ago.
“That room, I get why so many people have recorded there,” Ford says. “It sounds so good. It sounds crazy, but I feel like you can hear [the room] on the records that have been recorded there. When I listen to those old Tom Petty records, I can hear that room in it, almost. It sounds weird, but it’s true.”
Acknowledging that thinking about all the great albums made in the space threatened to “kind of freak you out or distract you,” Ford said the band managed to settle in and take their time to make the album turn out exactly how they wanted.
“We were thankful to record there and be able to take our time with it,” Ford said. “We were there like three months [in work time], but we were able to take four or five months. We were able to take our time and do some exploration of the place. It wasn’t like, ‘Okay, we’ve got a week. You get three takes.’ We had some time.”
They put the time to good use, judging by the lush sounds filling The Apache Relay, from the “Wall of Sound” vibe of album opener “Katie Queen of Tennessee” to harmony-laden love songs like “Don’t Leave Me Now.” Not only is the songwriting the best of the band’s three albums, they just sound great.
Tuesday in Salt Lake City, the band takes the middle spot on the bill between Desert Noises and The Wild Feathers.
PATTY GRIFFIN, THE DEPOT, Monday, Oct. 20, 8 p.m., $25
Simply put, Patty Griffin is the kind of singer and songwriter who makes it easy; you don’t wonder if you should go to the show, you just do it and thank yourself later for the treat. The easy labels to attach to her sound–folk or Americana–don’t do justice to her talents, but they’ll suffice here. Her 2007 album Children Running Through is a brilliant set, helping earn her Artist of the Year and Best Album awards from the Americana Music Association, and four years later she took home a Grammy for Best Traditional Gospel Album for Downtown Church. Forget about genres, just as you should forget about whether you should rally and go out on a Monday. Just do it, and thank yourself in the morning. John Fullbright opens the show.
Talk about your epic nights at The Urban Lounge. Two headlining gigs in one evening, two acts totally different from the other, yet both easily worth checking out.
The night starts with Shonen Knife, the Japanese punk trio who are rumored to be on their final tour. They’ve been together for more than 30 years, evoking classic ’60s girl-pop, surf-rock and old-school punk in their sound. They had a little bit of mainstream success when alt-rock blew up in the early ’90s, but for the most part they’ve toiled away like most indie and punk crews, knocking out fine albums heard by frustratingly few people, and touring like crazy. Consider this chance to see them at a rare early show at Urban a must-see.
Later on, it’s the unforgettable Big Freedia, master of the so-called “bounce” music scene out of New Orleans. If you ever want to see where Miley ripped off her twerking moves, catch this host of his own Fuse TV show, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce. The show tracks his moves into mainstream culture and his hometown. I didn’t know much about Big Freedia until I saw him and his dancers perform earlier this year at a festival, and it’s a big, loud, bass-heavy, crazy scene that has to be seen to be believed. It’s also a total blast.
PLAN-B THEATRE COMPANY’S RADIO HOUR EPISODE 9: GRIMM, ROSE WAGNER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m., $20
Among the myriad plays put on by Plan-B Theatre Company that I was able to see, the almost-annual Radio Hour productions always stood out. Obviously, these shows aren’t the typical play production as they are designed for the ear, not the eye. But watching the voice actors, musicians and foley artists do their thing is a blast. The voice actors contort their faces and their bodies, twisting and turning in their chairs as they inhabit their characters–it’s pretty remarkable to see; this year’s cast includes some Radio Hour vets like Bill Allred, Jay Perry, Teresa Sanderson and Jason Tatom, along with first-time Colleen Baum. Together, they will voice playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett’s adaptations of three Grimm tales: “Little Snow-White,” “Rapunzel” and “The Juniper Tree.” KUER will be broadcasting the show, but I highly recommend watching in person–it makes for an utterly different and fun theater experience.
THE LONE BELLOW, THE STATE ROOM, Monday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m., $22
The Lone Bellow’s self-titled debut came out nearly two years ago, and at first I thought the Brooklyn trio’s country-rock sound was a bit slick for my taste. Then I got to see Zach Williams, Brian Elmquist and Kanene Pipkin perform live, and my impression changed in a hurry. The vocal harmonies among the three are truly stunning, and the full scope of The Lone Bellow’s sound came into vibrant focus on stage, far better than on their album. Songs like “The One You Should’ve Let Go” and “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold” stick in your head for days after hearing them given the full live treatment, and the touches of gospel, soul and pop that infuse Williams’ songs really shine live. Anyone who went to the rainy Jason Isbell show at Red Butte Garden this summer saw The Lone Bellow brave a downpour and still deliver a killer set. Seeing them in a small club will be a fine way to spend a Monday night. Hugh Bob and the Hustle open the show.
NEW PORNOGRAPHERS, THE DEPOT, Friday, Oct. 10, 9 p.m., $26
Easily one of my favorite bands of the past decade, New Pornographers boasts a remarkable array of talents, led by primary songwriter A.C. Newman, who has a remarkable facility for writing insanely catchy pop-rock. He calls the band’s latest, Brill Bruisers, a “celebratory” collection that reflects on the happy places he is in his personal life. Joining him at the party are New Pornographers regulars Neko Case, Dan Bejar (aka Destroyer), Kathryn Calder, John Collins, Todd Fancey and Blaine Thurier. Now six albums in, I guess we can’t stop calling New Pornographers a side project to the members’ various solo careers and other projects, because this is a band that has developed into a power-pop machine unparalleled in modern rock. And their live shows take full advantage of the members’ unique gifts for harmonies. Consider this a must-see in SLC. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart opens the show.