Favorite Bands Who Said Goodbye In 2014

Having documented the music in this town for nearly seven years, I know the nature of the ebb and flow of bands forming and breaking up, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Sometimes they break up when you’ve only just discovered them and other times they are a band you never thought would end, sometimes you think they are just getting their groove on when this happens and others say farewell at their peak. I never really ask the reasons, sometimes they’re give to me, but I never dig, my interest is in the music, not the politics or goings on within the bands. Nevertheless, here are the top ten favorite bands of mine that bid us adieu over the last year.

Photo by Davian James

The Madera Strand

While they were together I could not stay away from their shows. They put out two amazing EPs and called it quits, but before they did I saw every single show I could. The first time I ever saw The Madera Strand they played and entire set of Police covers for a Cover The Crescent event, after that I was addicted to their sound and in general liked their originals more than their covers (barring one certain Police song). There was something in the combination of Cody Cruse’s magnificent guitar, Chris Keeling’s super-energetic bass, Dorian Demetrulias’ unreasonably enormous drumkit and percussive thunder and of course the hypnotic beauty of d’Averill Demetrulias’ voice that just stood out from everyone else. Add to the fact that d’Averill also played violin, well it was all pretty wonderful while it lasted. The end came suddenly, without a final show, I think I might have wept.

Photo by Drea Farrell

Avery

The dissolution of Avery was another sudden announcement, without a final show. See, I like the idea of a final show, because it gives fans and friends a final reminder, basically a passage of mourning. Alas, due to irreconcilable differences Avery is no more. They presented homespun, porch sung, whiskey sipping music that warmed the heart and soothed the mind. The combination of cello, guitars (of all sorts, including steel) and the languid, sleepy, smokey vocals of Mariah DeRaet made for a seductive combination in no uncertain terms. Largely introspective, it seemed, in their lyricism, this was not only drinking music, but thinking music to ponder loves lost, hearts broken, times had, missing moments, lost chances and peculiar gains. There was more thoughtful revery compressed into their songs than seemed possible and somehow it evoked a longer lifetime of experience than would befit these young maestros. I was sure they were going to be huge in the growing Americana/alt.country/folk circuit emerging in Arizona, but alas, it was not to be.


WEBS

It seemed that as soon as soon as I was head over heels in love with WEBS, they called it quits. When I heard their named bandied about in the previous year, I immediately imagined a psychedelic garage band perfectly honed in the image if The Seeds, The Sonics or The Count Five, I’m not sure why. You know what I got? A psychedelic garage band perfectly honed in the image if The Seeds, The Sonics or The Count Five. Every time I saw them each band that followed them made mention of how great they were and it was in a ”wow, holy fuck, what was that” sort of way. It made me feel that I was clearly not wrong in my instant adoration and practical psychotic reaction to their sound and performance. Webs rocked and I was entranced by their raging power trio rock, that echoed as much 60s aesthetic as modern indie perfection at once. Sadly, they are no more, however Dominic Mean and Tim Lormor have formed a new group that seems fairly hopeful called Strange Lot, with a very similar aesthetic, a touch more sunshine psychedelic aesthetic than WEBS though.

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams

Doctor Bones 2.0

Okay, let’s make it clear, I don’t really mourn the passing of the final lineup of Doctor Bones. Instead, I mourn the passing of Doctor Bones as an entity throughout all of it’s existence. It was the end of the exciting Doctor Bones era. This version of Doctor Bones only played, what three shows? I was at two of them and I didn’t really dig it–technically correct and musically better than ever before, certainly, Hannah never sounded better that’s for sure. But the new lead singer seemed like a douchebag and oozed it from his pores. Plus, I like my Doctor Bones rough and dangerous, not polished and perfect. Nevertheless, the dissolution was announced and their final EP was released, which was quite good if you imagined it wasn’t Doctor Bones. Sadly, Doctor Bones ended with a whimper rather than a bang. On the other hand it’s been great for many of the members of the band: Anthony Fama, the original lead singer, is now leading The Redemptions, Jess Pruitt is now playing bass in both Field Tripp and Desert Beats, Chad Cussen, the original guitarist, along with Hannah Bones are now in Gus, and I have no idea what Chad Stark and Mike Vigil are doing, but they are probably up to something great.

The Dead Eyes Of London

Technically, I suppose, The Dead Eyes Of London were the last band to break up in 2014 as they played their last gig on New Years Eve at Yucca Tap Room. These guys and gals were straight out of the mod/garage rock revival mode and it rarely gets better than that for me. Their sound of punk meets mod meets garage rock was some of the best live music I’ve ever heard. Throw in a Kinks cover or two and they had my heart. Some day I will probably pay them to reunite and throw a party, because that’s how much I want to hear them again. The only thing I can assume is that they are all consumed by other projects and had to let this one go. Chan, Nick and Kelsee are all in Harper & The Moths, Nick is also in Companeros and Meliza is apparently now a part of Rose Colored Eyes. And while I sincerely love both those bands, the world is missing some charm and some damn fine music without The Dead Eyes Of London in it. Who the hell is going to cover the Kinks in this town now?

Naked Pizza (sort of)

I thought I had never seen Naked Pizza before, so I made it a point to catch their last show, which actually wasn’t their last show, also, I had seen them before. In the days of Long Wong’s for a time I lived right around the corner and I would get terrifyingly drunk, because I could stumble home. That’s when I saw Naked Pizza, a lot. This all rushed back to me upon seeing their “last show”. It turns out that if you have enough money or a house or charisma, you can actually have a Naked Pizza reunion at any time so long, I suppose, the members aren’t putting on a show in their numerous other bands. The picture above fully represents the madness that was their last show and it was pretty fantastic. They played a house show on December 12th and they will probably play more–I wish that was the attitude of more bands that broke up, just throw a show for the hell of it, because you know people are going to show up and go crazy. And if you’ve never seen Naked Pizza, I’m sorry, you missed something truly special.

Photo by Lindsae Worden

Los Puchos

When Austin Owen joined the Peace Corps and went to Paraguay he left a few holes in a lot bands as bassist for Wooden Indian, drummer for Petty Things and several others, but due to his role as frontman of Los Puchos, this delightful band disbanded all together. Nearly as anachronistic as their Rubber Brother labelmates Samuel L Cool J, their sound explored the weirdness of the mid 60s in America after the British Invasion. In their case, however, all of their original numbers were seemingly named after women.  It was all out jangly guitar and joy that seemed to somehow create a time period that never existed, all recorded in such a way that would sound best coming out of an AM car radio or a handheld transistor. Their recordings were great, but their live shows were even better, and in reflection they simply can’t be explained. Austin would dress in surreal outfits and control the room like a crazed ringmaster. Some of the best shows I saw last year had Los Puchos on the bill.

Photo by Bill Goodman

Of The Painted Choir

So, Frederick Huang had this dream of moving to Tucson and in order to do so he had to leave behind the band he founded, Of The Painted Choir. I will hand it to him, he did it with class–he had a release party for Barbarous and a Farewell Show on the same night. Now that’s how you do it, you throw a party and you release your final album and you go out with a boom! It was still sad to see as OTPC was emerging as one of my favorite bands and I had written about ever move they made since their start and ultimately to their end. Nevertheless, I appreciate it when an artist has the decency to throw a goodbye show for those who love their music. Of The Painted Choir ultimately only left two records in their wake, but they are really great records and they are some that I still spin on the weekends when I wake up with the likes of “Lula, My Baby” or “Cactus Wren”. I can only hope that Huang is working on something even greater in Tucson, perhaps bringing to life his Asian Fred project he has spoken of before.

The Constellation Branch

It wasn’t a great surprise that The Constellation Branch was calling it quits, they hadn’t played in many a moon, but in a truly classy move, they held a reunion/farewell show in one fell swoop and it was one of the best shows of last year. The band itself has given birth to several other bands, some of which have already broken up as well. Still, there were a lot of people at the final show that had never seen nor heard them before and they were just dumbstruck. In fact, I had a few friends at that show that I was sure had seen them with me before at several locations and they seemed to have no memory of it at all. This struck me as odd, because for years I felt bad that I never got to properly write about them before they seemed to vanish with their members being scattered about the scene. That final show was one of the greatest I’ve ever seen, couple with Small Leak Sinks Ships on the bill, I’ve never seen Jeff Moses smile more. The show did do one thing, it cemented how much I will miss that never, ever happening again.

The Whisperlights

This one was a heartbreaker for me to be sure, but not really a surprise either. With the exceptions, I believe, of Ills Riske and Tobie Milford, The Whisperlights are scattered all over the world. So while they were here they recorded two of my favorite local albums ever. Once more they stepped up to the plate like the true professionals they are and held a farewell show that was beyond compare. They even had to add auxiliary members of the band to perfect the sound on stage one last time, bringing on the likes of Henri Benard and Mitch Freedom. It seemed like they played every song they ever recorded, I’m certain they didn’t but it sure seemed that way. On the upswing we got two amazing records out of their time (Wake Up Dead and Surfaces) and some of the most memorable shows I’ve ever seen in my life. I remember Ills Riske once told me they had enough written for a third album, and while that clearly will not happen, I can hope that some of those songs make it to the next album by Riske’s other project of genius, There Is Danger.

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