2020 vision: A look at upcoming local music releases
Just about every music column, blog or podcast worth its salt (including this one) ends the year with a December “best-of” edition. You, the reader, get a summary of the year’s musical highlights and a quick and easy guide to what you might listen to next while we, your favorite audiophiles, get one week off from the grueling business of coming up with new column ideas during the chaos of the holiday season. Everybody wins.
Flash forward a week or so, and suddenly it’s a new year in your local music community, with all its creative promise as yet unfolded. But you’ve just been reminded of the very best the last year had to offer. What can your friendly neighborhood music columnist offer up that would possibly top a best-of-last-year list?
The best of this year, naturally. And luckily for you, your trusty scribe has seen the future and it is pretty catchy.
Behold, a guide to the projects in the works from a host of local bands and musicians, courtesy of a columnist who wishes she could let you hear all of the unreleased recordings she’s been privy to in the past couple of months.
The Rifle (new album release set for January 2020)
This month, Tucson indie pop trio the Rifle releases the long-awaited followup to their 2017 debut album “Anabasis” with an album release party at 191 Toole. The band’s latest tracks are instantly recognizable as Rifle songs — richly textured psych and garage-infused arrangements and bright, chiming percussion highlight DeGuzman’s elegant pop melodies and honey-sweet vocals. But while the sound remains the same, the music has, if anything, matured over time, particularly the interplay between DeGuzman’s surf-inspired guitar riffs and Kevin Conklin’s almost subliminal bass lines.
The new album, once again recorded with Matt Rendon at Midtown Island Studios, is set to be unveiled at the end of this month, with a release party at 191 Toole on January 31 at 8 p.m.
Just Najima - ('Queenie' release set for January 2020)
Fresh off a successful crowdfunding campaign to support recording and a subsequent tour, the artist known as Just Najima will release her full-length debut "Queenie," which also happens to be the first-ever release from Jillian Bessett's JIANNT Recording. "Queenie" reimagines classic blues and soul for a postmodern age, with lyrics that speak to modern injustice and desperation with musical elements of post-punk, triphop and goth electronica.
While a few local folks had a chance to sample the tracks on "Queenie"at a listening party late last summer, the album's public unveiling is set for later this month, with details to be publicly shared soon. Stay tuned to your favorite local music column for more info soon.
Golden Boots - 'Alpha'
Another local band hard at work on a forthcoming release is the always prolific - and always delightfully weird - folk/pop/rock ensemble Golden Boots. While the release date for the band's next album has yet to be announced, Ryen Eggleston, Dimitri Manos and their cast of co-conspirators have seen fit to give us a small taste of what's to come with this week's unveiling of the new single "Alpha," which was recorded at American Monoxide and mastered by Jim Waters of Waterworks Studio.
According to Manos, "Alpha" is a song about "the dangers of careless creation" and an homage to 1930s robotic pioneer Harry May who was famously shot in the hand by his automaton robot "Alpha."
Golden Boots joins "high desert noir" New Mexico band Gral at El Crisol (formerly known as Exo Bar) on January 25 at 7 p.m.
Exbats - 'Hits Kicks and Fits'(set for March 2020)
Pending a host of forthcoming releases from an array of incredibly talented bands, your friendly neighborhood music columnist has already tentatively named her number-one favorite album of 2020. She has seen the future and it is (once again) the Exbats.
The Bisbee-based father/daughter band's third full-length release (not counting "greatest hits" comp "E is for Exbats") is their most nuanced, mature work to date and yet every ounce as fun, accessible and catchy as their earlier Partridge-Family-by-way-of-the-Ramones-inspired garage punk gems. Think Monkees, Hollies, Flying Burritos, and maybe a touch of Wanda Jackson, as sung through the lense of a post-millennial feminist who drums, sings, writes perfect pop songs, thinks Harry Styles is underrated, and isn't going to put up with anybody's bullshit.
In the words of Inez and Ken McClain, it's time to pick up your heart and fight.
"Hits Kicks and Fits" is anticipated to get a March 2020 release on Burger Records. Until then, you'll just have to catch an upcoming Exbats show to get a taste of what's to come. Stay tuned to this space for the next one.
Other new releases on the horizon...
Also spotted in the studio this past several months (but with no announced new album release dates) are at Midtown Island Studios, the Wanda Junes, Weekend Lovers, Lenguas Largas, and the Resonars; at JIANNT Recording, Juju Fontaine; at Luna Recording, the Unday; at Baby Gas Mask, Logan Greene; at WaveLab, Mudpuppy and Miss Olivia and the Interlopers; at TucSound Studios, Loveland; and at various as-yet-unspecificied facilities, Stripes, Bryan Thomas Parker and more.
Hey, Paul,let's have a ball...
It's time again for the one night only, partly unplugged, annual local fest known as the Wooden Ball and, just as last year, 2020's lineup features a mix of old and new Tucson music royalty rethinking their rock and roll stage shows for a night of stripped down, semi-acsoutic performances. Think old-school MTV Unplugged or Elvis Costello's old VH1 show Spectacle.
This years lineup includes sets by Bekkah Rolland, Billy Sedlmayr, Chris Holiman, Joe Pena, Josh Brown, Robin Johnson, Katie Haverly, Little Cloud, Mute Swan, Sweet Ghosts, and local DIY scene darlings Rough Draft.
The 2020 Wooden Ball takes place Saturday night, January 4 at Club Congress. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Check your local listings...
Friday, January 3
- Sonoran Violence Day 1: Infest,Iron Lung, Sex Prisoner - 6 p.m. Club Congress
- Cra$h Magic - 7 p.m. Crooked Tooth
- Crooked Tooth Brewing Co.
- For Shits and Giggles Comedy Show - 7:30 p.m.The Rock
- Elis Paprika, Santa Pachita - 8 p.m. Boxyard
- Funk Yo House - 9 p.m. Irene’s Holy Donuts
- SV Day 1 After Party - 11 p.m. Owl's Club
- BTP & Friends - 9 p.m. Sky Bar
Saturday, January 4
- The Wooden Ball - 6:30 p.m. Club Congress
- Hatpin Duo - 6 p.m. Sand-Reckoner
- Mandy Rowden - 7 p.m. Borderlands
- The Minds - 7 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
- 80s Hangover w/Cured, Arena, Blonde Day, Careless Whisper - 8 p.m. Rialto
- Joe Novelli and Charlie Stout - 10 p.m. Che’s Lounge
Sunday, January 5
- Nelene and Gabi at Che's Lounge - 6:30 p.m. Che’s Lounge Patio
Wednesday, January 6
- $way Dollaaz, Lil Salvia, Bravo, Jae Tilt, Trapmatt - 8 p.m. Club Congress
- Dan Stein & Friends - 7 p.m. Irene's Holy Donuts
Thursday, January 8
- Honkytonkitis - 5:30 p.m. House of Bards
- Open Mic w/ Brian Berggoetz - 6 p.m. House of Bards
- Ladytowne Live - 7 p.m. Club Congress
Friday, January 10
- Big Grin - 6 p.m. Sand-Reckoner
- Booker T. Jones - 8 p.m. Rialto
- Johnny A. - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
- Pigmy Death-Ray, Manguera, Noonday Devils - 9 p.m. Surly Wench