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Ditat deus!

| February 10, 2012

Though obviously feted every year, this February 14th is particularly special as Arizona celebrates 100 years of statehood. (Happy b-day to you too, Oregon!) Lined up for local festivities are Heartless Bastards, Talkdemonic, and Andrew Belle! Emboss M&Ms with your message now!

Heartless Bastards‘ first two albums portended force: Erika Wennerstrom‘s howling voice strained and growled over churning indie blues-rock rhythms. There was a sense of imminence, that something could explode at any moment. It would have been a difficult pace to sustain, and one the trio ultimately decided against. The new Arrow (Partisan) offers urgency, but in a Neil Young minus Crazy Horse way. The dusty title track (“The Arrow Killed The Beast”) withers in the sun with a hellish thirst, and Wennerstrom’s wounded performance makes the song actually feel like it’s about death (not love). When they arrive at the oasis for some a-rockin’, the band would rather roll out lighter influences (T. Rex in “Got To Have Rock And Roll,” Beatles for “Simple Feeling,” and Skynyrd with “Late In The Night”) than roll you with the steam-engine approach of yore. They’re kinder, gentler Bastards. (Tuesday@Lincoln Hall with Hacienda and Precious Blood.)

Similar to Valentine’s Day, it’s Arizona statehood-day tradition to eat a meal while being serenaded by a cellist, drummer, and their laptop. Demand is so great, however, that Talkdemonic decided to shun dinner arrangements and invite lovers to a concert. On last fall’s Ruins (Glacial Pace), the duo spread out, and Lisa Molinaro‘s viola and cello took a less lyrical approach. Adding swaths of texture, she mimics guitar solos on “Violet” and hits moaning lines on “Midnight Pass” that burn up in feedback. The tempos range from ethereal (“Time Draws On”) to borderline jungle (“Midcentury Motion”) . . . what better way to say I Love You? (Tuesday@Schubas with Cate LeBon and Bone & Bell.)

But perhaps most indicative of the festivities surrounding the 48th — and last of those carved from the contiguous — state, hometowner Andrew Belle brings his vitriolic, nationalistic right-wing screeds to bear. Actually, fewer artists are as inoffensive as Belle, whose pillowy voice and leather-armchair arrangements strive for the realm of early John Mayer or Coldplay — so much as “strive” is an applicable term. He’ll soon be celebrating the release of concert-staple “The Daylight” as a three-song single; it arrives on the 28th, a.k.a. the second-most important date in Arizona history. (Tuesday@Space with Peter Groenwald.)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Featured, Stage Buzz, Weekly

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