Tucson sounds: Rough Draft turns in their homework | Weekend music
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Tucson sounds: Rough Draft turns in their homework

Your friendly neighborhood music columnist has been prattling on for some time about the burgeoning all-ages music scene evolving at house parties and DIY spaces around town these days and she’s not about to stop now. Roughly a year after the bulk of these bands started showing up in the local music mainstream, the next stage in the evolution of Tucson youth rock has begun. That’s right, folks, it’s album release time.

First of the current crop of teenage wunderkinds to unveil a major release this summer were the band Stripes, who may have released the best local album of 2019 with their debut "Stripes." Now founding Stripes bassist James Noriega and his comrades in arms are ready to take their stab at the spotlight, with the self-titled debut album by Rough Draft. 

Rough Draft is one of the more prominent bands in the current local youth rock micro-scene and they took the task of choosing a studio pretty seriously — not an easy endeavor given the plethora of stellar and reasonably affordable local studios, including Waterworks, Midtown Island, Baby Gas Mask, et al. But in the end, this rookie band, perhaps fittingly, chose a relative newcomer to record and produce their debut, and it’s a gamble that seems to paid off.

Musician and sound engineer Justin Tornberg (Cool Funeral, the Elegant Rabies) shares a lot of the same musical DNA as the members of the band, who include Noriega on vocals and keys, Brian Zamarripa on bass, Cole Kraft on drums, and Mahmood Gladney on guitar. After a lot of consultation with the band, and a brief period in which Rough Draft pondered other studios, Tornberg set to work creating an album with a punk-laced modern indie pop sound which still manages to capture what is, in this reporter’s opinion, the secret strength of the band, which is their ability to start pretty and measured but fall apart halfway through a track into frenetic chaos in the best possible way. 

Rough Draft as a live band is best at these moments, building on the energy of the crowd and often collapsing into math rock guitar haze, aggressive rhythms and spontaneous onstage acrobatics which belie their songs’ controlled pop-punk beginnings. 

The track "Angel Eyes" layers shoegaze tendencies with symphonic indie pageantry (including a horn section) with ironic self reflection and slightly off-kilter vocals ala Neutral Milk Hotel, the Mountain Goats and the Decembrists. Tracks like tracks like "Surf’s Up (Director’s Commentary)" take on a more traditional punk sensibility in the vein of bands like the Circle Jerks or Violent Femmes. 

Lyrically, the band’s lyrics are a blend of youthful self-doubt and moments of teenage loathing mixed with moments of unexpected wisdom and maturity. Like scene-mates Stripes, Rough Draft writes songs that are honest, often painfully and profanely so, about the state of 21st century teendom. 

If there’s one local teen rock album you have to buy this year, I’d advise you to grab Stripes’ "520" post haste. But if you’ve got room for a second one on your shelf, this is your next great jam.

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Rough Draft join Radiator Hospital, Outer Spaces, and Jess Matsen at Wooden Tooth Records Tuesday, July 23 at 8 p.m. In the meantime, you can grab a digital copy of the album via Bandcamp at roughdraftaz.bandcamp.com.


Kinetic Arts Tucson is an enigma of a space. The Warehouse Arts District studio is part dance studio, part fitness school and part performance space. What it absolutely isn’t is dull.

This weekend, studio owner Brenna Mirae and her talented (and flexible) team open their doors to celebrate K.A.T.’s first full year in operation with MonSwoon, a music, dance and arts event including visual art, spoken word performance, aerial showcases, dance, DJ sets and live music hosted at K.A.T.’s Toole Avenue studio. Musical guests include locals Katie Haverly, Jillian Bessett and Mariah McCammond

MonSwoon takes place Saturday, July 13th at 7 p.m. at Kinetic Arts Tucson, 17 E. Toole Ave. in Downtown

In other news...

Phoenix band Nanami Ozone can add another rung of small fame to their ledger via Boys Life Magazine's Instagram feed of all places. A couple of months back, prolific Tucson live band photographer and videographer Christopher Riggs created an unofficial video for the band's song "Sidewalks" featuring Riggs' son Atticus as a rogue superhero meandering across some of Tucson's best known spots (and sidewalks) via his mighty bicycle. The video was shared on the magazine's IG feed a couple of days back, so presumably boys across the world can share our collective local experience, of being valiant. musically smitten and bicycle bound during an Arizona summer.

Local youth band Yum! have been laying down tracks recently at Midtown Island Studio. Will they be the next "teen titans" from our local scene to put out a decent record? Only time will tell. Also sighted at Midtown recently were Marta De Leon and her rotating crew of Weekend Lovers. Lenguas Largas and the Exbats, while over at Waterworks studio, Hank Topless is rumored to be creating an old school outlaw country record that may just be the best of the local legend's career to date.

This weekend, another local legend, musician Amy Munoz Mendoza celebrates her 40th birthday with a celebration Friday night at Hotel McCoy featuring but a few of her many bands including Sugar Stains, Loveland and the Surfbroads as well as friends Birds and Arrows and a burlesque performance by Kitty Catatonic.

Tuesday night, Sky Bar celebrates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with a panel of NASA experts, lunar swag and musical accompaniment by Steff and the Articles frontwoman Steff Koeppen.

Check your local listings...

Friday, July 12

  • FebboFuentes -  6 p.m. Sand-Reckoner - Tucson, AZ
  • Satan celebrates 40 years of Amy w/ Surfbroads - 7 p.m. Hotel McCoy
  • Purple Spectre Album Release!  - 7 p.m. The Screening Room
  • Super Gay Party Machine - 8 p.m. Hotel Congress
  • Little Kings - 8 p.m. Rockabilly Grill
  • Bravo Delta, Electric - 8 p.m. EncoreTucson Live Music, Accepted
  • Santa Pachita - 8 p.m. Boxyard
  • Austin Counts - 8 p.m. Westbound
  • Biblefights, Untied Snakes, Freezedried Freq. - 9 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Glitter Vomit, Basement Films, Karima Walker - 7 p.m. Exploded View Cinema

Saturday, July 13

  • Groundworks Fundraiser and Supplies Drive - 1p.m. Sand-Reckoner
  • Welty-Wilson Trio - 5:45 p.m. Sand Reckoner
  • Masters Of Puppets,Wild Side, Velocity - 6 p.m. Encore
  • MonSwoon: Live at the KAT Club 7 p.m. Kinetic Arts Tucson
  • Cherry Avenue Pickers - 7 p.m. Borderlands Brewing Co.
  • Rich Hopkins & the Luminarios - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Naim Amor - 7 p.m. Tucson Hop Shop
  • Judicator - 8 p.m. House of Bards
  • Fea & Bruiser Queen with Sur Block - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Second Saturdays with Don't Blink Burlesque - 8 p.m. The Hut
  • Lonna Kelley  w/ Karima Walker - 8 p.m. Exo
  • Bradford - 9 p.m. Dusty Monk Pub
  • Exbats - 10 p.m. Che's Lounge

Sunday, July 14

  • Paul Green & Midnight Blue- 6 p.m. Monterey Court
  • 2019 AZ BurlyPicks Regional - 7 p.m. Surly Wench Pub
  • Natty & The Sunset - 7 p.m. Che's Lounge

Tuesday, July 16

  • Go For Launch! Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Party - 6 p.m.Sky Bar Tucson
  • Set It Off - 7:30 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Arm's Reach, Hellhook, Souls, Realize, Slow Descent - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Juliana Warkentin - 7 p.m. Iron John's Brewing
  • PunkWithACamera,BleachPartyUSA,PrettyUgly and GutterTown - 7:30 Blacklidge Community Collective
  • The Cure: Anniversary - 7:30 p.m.  Loft Cinema

Wednesday, July 17

  • Eric Schaffer & the Other Troublemakers w/ JD Loveland - 6:30 p.m. Monterey Court
  • BTP & Friends - 7 p.m. Royal Sun
  • Part Time w/ Gary Wilson - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Mesquite w/ Moontrax and Chelsey Lee Trejo - 7: 30 p.m. Wooden Tooth Records

Thursday, July 18

  • Black Cat Bones, Caleb's Spirit,  Austin Counts - 9 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Lucky Devils - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Seanloui w/ TacoSauce - 8 p.m. Owls Club
  • Tiffany Christopher - 8:30 p.m. Tap & Bottle
  • Opti Club: Lowrider Show - 9 p.m. Club Congress

Each week this column compiles a choice selection of live gigs in and around Tucson with the help of good venue and band event announcements and other resources. If you've got a gig coming up and you'd like your event listed in this space (or if your local band has a major announcement or a new release) drop me a line at arts@tucsonsentinel.com.

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courtesy of Rough Draft via Facebook

Rough Draft live on stage at Club Congress

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