These boys get down. And while hip-hop and funk, surf and rock may all apply to their overall “sound,” there are few bands I know in any genre that can whip a crowd into a pack feverishly, frenzied, rabid bandicoots. With their DIY mindset of self-releasing and recording as well as creating all their own artwork, the term nerdcore does seem to fit. After months of only hearing these songs live and being able to half-sing along with Robbie Pfeffer’s distorted, transmogrified voice, it’s great to hear the very odd words emerging in the recording. Bursting out at the get go, “Beer Gut” is a new punk rock classic. “Minivan,” a solid funk number and crowd-pleaser, plows into “Funeral Pizza,” a minor-key dance tune sure to set shoulders shrugging to the beat. “End of Time,” already a Manbaby classic, is followed by “Broken Record,” my new favorite featuring plenty of David Cosme’s trumpet and gang vocals. My only complaint is that Obsessive Repulsive is only an EP. The people demand full-length Playboy Manbaby! Not yet available online, the only way to get your copy of Obsessive Repulsive is pick one up at a show so go catch Playboy Manbaby immediately!
Milk & Sugar
There is something subtly mystical deeply embedded within the music of Owl & Penny, almost as if nature herself is given voice through the songs. Milk & Sugar, the long awaited follow-up to 2009’s Fever Dreams,dropped over the weekend and I’ve already heard it more times than I’m willing to admit. Milk & Sugar lulls the listener with tranquil melodies and lyrics conveyed in soft and slightly saccharine tones before the wall of sound quietly crashes over you. Ryan Osterman, the man behind the music, creates sound sensory experiences in such a way that songs become almost tactile. You feel the songs gently wash over you, engulfing you. Take a moment and check out Milk & Honey today!
We stumbled across this four track EP from new Phoenix band Daisy Face quite by chance or, rather, through some random twitter stalking. Yeah, we do that and albums like this are the reason why. Aron Towner, Adam Reed, Brad Blakemore, and Shane Taylor join forces in this grunge-fueled four-piece. Daisy Face achieves just the right balance of fuzz and feedback to suck the crisp purity found in far too many indie bands of the present day. It’s indie rock with a little more soul and a lot more grime. Daisy Face harkens back to bands like Pavement without losing their present-day relevance. Get into Daisy Face before everyone else does. Listen here.
The Cathedral Station
Recorded alone in her room, The Cathedral Station offers fans of April Bird a collection of traditional hymnals revisited by one of the Valley’s most angelic voices. April Bird only just released an EP, Among the Children, in December which showcased her own songwriting talents. The Cathedral Station allows April Bird fans to revel in the splendor and powerfully gentle grace of her voice. The four track EP opens with “Amazing Grace”, a personal favorite and brings to mind Summertime Sundays with my grandparents (a preacher and the church pianist). Many of us, religious or otherwise, can share in the beauty of time-honored hymns found on The Cathedral Station. Listen here.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
2. How did you get your start?
|Jon of Snake! Snake! Snakes!|
6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?
I want to document and elevate the awesome AZ Music scene to the national and world stage. I want to record a professional album of my music. I want to write a book. I want to do some sculpture. I want to go to Seattle. I want to open a museum of my work filled with my art and a stage for artists to perform. I want to help my family and friends achieve their dreams. I want to be truly happy.
7. What’s your mantra?
Will it, Live it, Be it!
Visualize your pursuit, manifest the pursuit, live in the moment of the pursuit, and manifest what you want to be.
Cheery-sounding sad-bastard music might be my new favorite genre. There’s just something about the sweet and cynical all mixed up together and set to a beat you can bop your head to. That’s what you get with the Skinny Shamans: fun-loving music for your world-weary soul. Check out their single “Skeleteen” from earlier this year.
“Giddy Up Paint”
I love love love the vocal style of Anamieke Quinn, voice and centralizing force behind Treasurefruit. The single from the trio “Giddy Up Paint” showcases all the skill and swagger the band has to offer without grandstanding. Anamieke’s perfectly pitched voice is positively kittenish; jazzy with a western tinge, the essential (but not sole) component in the “desert noir” feeling Treasurefruit creates within every song. Listen to “Giddy Up Paint” today.
Jazz & The GIANT are just really cool. Simple as that. Layering swank, smooth beats and supple lyricism, Jazz & The GIANT conveys bravado and style in the way only great hiphop can. We first heard about Jazz and The Giant with their full-length album Balance of Opposites that dropped last December so we were really excited to see a single from the duo drop just a couple weeks ago. “BoiseStateBlues” proves the group just keeps pushing. Hear it here.
Alright, so I almost peed a little from excitement when I saw that Doctor Bones put out a new track. Only when I hit play did I realize “Sun City” is actually a song from their 2012 EP revisited for the RecordingArtist. The newer recording reveals a dramatic difference within the band. After more than a year of continuous performing and practicing, Doctor Bones has moved from a great concept into the realm of solid, established musicians. I can’t wait to hear what’s to come. Listen here.
Scattered Melodies ft. Ruca
The easy-going reggae-infused acoustic rock of Scattered Melodies found its perfect match in the smooth, serene vocals of Ruca a.k.a. Haley Grigaitis. “Gypsy Girl” captures the warmth and ease of a summer day completely unencumbered by the seemingly endless tasks that plague us in adulthood. The track is available for download free here or you can hear the track through Scattered Melodies Facebook page here.
A lot of albums come my way here at YabYum that are quickly categorized as “chick rock” and passed along to resident chick-on-staff. None of the above bands came to me that way despite all the feisty females that make up each band on the bill. That’s the best thing about Vag Fest, the hard rocking lady tigers that share this bill prove you don’t need a penis to be punk. They will kick your ass and send you home if needed. And, with three nights of mayhem and music scheduled, your weekend promises to be jam packed with ornery rock and totally unladylike, matriarchal mayhem.
I don’t know which night I’m most excited about. Jackie Cruz, the event’s organizer this year and in years prior, did a bang-up job amassing this “quite the line-up” for the annual festival. With bands from four states and a host of local favorites, each night promises a worthy event… a free and worthy event. Thursday at the Palo Verde Lounge has The Sex which made our list of 3 Feisty, Sexy Bands that Live Up to Their Name back in March along with Girl Boner, a post-punk trio out of Phoenix that I have yet to hear but they promise songs about “drinking, hookers, drugs and heartbreak” so count me in. Friday night at the Yucca Tap Room brings out the retro-punk stylings of French Girls and the Venomous Pinks as well as the recently formed She Riffs (formerly Mrs. Howls) featuring Alice Bag. For me, personally, I can’t wait for Saturday. The Pods reunite. Acorn Bcorn, a band I’ve been desperate to see since I heard the Craftpop Sampler, will be performing along with the two other glowing examples of punkrock for the modern era: Numb Bats and the Cigs. I’m there.
Free live music, women rocking out, and a good time for all – what’s not to love about VagFest? Choose one, two, or three nights of festivities. It all depends on how much vaginal awesomeness you can handle. Check out more on the event page here.
Over the many moons of time, Tempe has brought forth some of Arizona’s finest bands and albums. With a lot of hard work, some bands have risen quickly to become staples on the Tempe scene. Combining frequent live performances and solid recordings, these bands developed a deep-rooted following in the Valley with far-reaching possibilities. Here are some of the releases that rapidly gained the status of “Tempe Classic” – a place they’ll hold until their age matches their stature and then some. If you have trouble getting your hands on a copy of any of these albums, check them out on Spotify!
The Sugar Thieves sure have come a long way since we first covered them in ’09. Thousands of miles, shows ’round the country, and 4 albums later we have arrived at their Plywood Palace: the Sugar Thieves’ best record to date. The band has long claimed some of the finest talents, including two of my favorite vocalists. Meridith Moore’s voice is everything you want in a blues singer: dexterous, precise, robust, soulful, and sweltering. Mikel Lander has a wickedly rough-and-tumble voice that calls to mind Tom Waits with a little less gravel, an association Lander seemingly embraces when chiming in on the band’s cover of Waits’ “Chocolate Jesus” – amazing. Meridith and Mike were made to sing together: the sultry and salty. Plywood Palace finds the Sugar Thieves established in their own sound after years of shaping and carving from within the traditions of blues, jazz, and rocknroll, in that order. The album is a must-hear just as the band is a must-see, so start somewhere but make sure you do both!
The Elephant in the Room
Coming in with a whopping 15 tracks, The Elephant in the Room is jammed packed with musical goodness for your listening pleasure. Kevin Loyd’s voice is a thing of beauty: rich with emotion, deeply hued, textured with inflection, able to switch between tender assuagement and soul-wrenching howl on a turn of a dime. Loyd’s vocal talents are matched by the Banana Gun’s exquisite musicality. Bluesy, folk-infused rocknroll, the sound is carefully crafted with a genuine, salt-of-the-earth feel at its core. Rustic and refined, The Elephant in the Room must be heard. I’ll admit I was a little late in arriving at Banana Gun fandom (just kept missing them despite my best intentions), but in the recent weeks I have more than made up for my delinquency by obsessively replaying the album at all hours of the day. And, of course, every time I hear the song “May June July” I have to replay it at least three times before I can move on.
Japhy’s Descent seems to epitomize Tempe Rock: wailing guitars, songs ranging from rockers to ballads, and a true blue hippy sensibility. Released one year ago this past 4/20, Japhy’s latest album Moon Noon is a two disc monster released into a world of singles and EPs. Not every song is new, some can be found on prior works, however, the re-imaginings are wonderful. The first disc, Noon, is Brian, James, Martin and Travis doing what they do best. Searing guitar work and skipping bass lines all on top of that funky shuffle drumming combine into the soufflé of rock the band is best known for. Moon, the second disc, certainly is something special. Gathering artists from around the Valley, each track showcases special guests. Tracked at STEM Recording by Mr. Curtis Grippe (who also did the aforementioned Banana Gun album and a whole host of other great records we love), there honestly is probably no one else who can capture the “Tempe Sound” as well as he. However, personally I feel the music of Japhy’s Descent must be seen live. The album, while a truly solid recording, can’t match the band’s live performance. Japhy’s Descent is a communal experience meant for lawless crowds full of turbid energy ready for release. Go see them now.
My name is Laura Fischer and I am the Phoenix and Tucson Event Director for RAW:natural born artists. My job is to find the very best local artists in each city and to give them the tools, resources & exposure they need. I plan and direct one night artist showcase events throughout the year to feature these local artists and provide a platform for them to be seen, heard and loved in their community.
2. How did you get your start?
I have had a strange path getting to where I am. I was in art school in college but switched over to business so I could get a better understanding of the monetary/business side of the arts. I ended up getting a degree in accounting and graduated to become a public auditor for one of the big 4 accounting firms. After about 2 years, I realized how far I’d derailed from art and I left my position to find my way back.
I wanted to paint but had to make a living so I split my time between selling bridal bouquet portraits and working part time at a school as the Development Director. I put on several fundraising events for the school which was where I got my start in event planning. After doing this at a couple different organizations, and burning out on bridal bouquet paintings, I decided to re-focus again. I wanted to be fully entrenched in the arts and do more than just my own work. I started volunteering as much as I could for arts organizations (particularly visual arts and fashion) to become familiar with the Phoenix art scene.
I found RAW:natural born artists online one day and sent my resume and letter of interest. They offered me the volunteer position of Production Assistant. I absolutely loved the experience, the organization, & the artists! Before long, the host of the shows left and I immediately offered to take on that position too. I’d never had any stage experience but I couldn’t get enough of RAW and what they were doing for artists and I wanted in!
One day, the founder of RAW came to visit the team in Phoenix and when the chance arose, I pitched her on starting RAW in Tucson. She loved the idea and I was soon Directing RAW Tucson and hosting in Phoenix. Only 4 months later, the Phoenix director moved up to a regional position which resulted in her handing over the Phoenix director title to me. I’ve been running RAW Phoenix and Tucson ever since!
I am most inspired when I see amazing artists succeed. Whether it’s as simple as selling their first painting or networking with the right person at one of our events, or monumenta,l like being voted Phoenix Fashion Week Emerging Designer of the Year! Every time I see an artist have a success, I am inspired to work harder and to do more.
4. What do you like about Arizona?
Arizona is like a blank canvas. There is so much potential here and we are only just starting to harness it! On a daily basis, I see new and exciting things happening in every field (music, art, fashion, film, etc) and we have the unique opportunity to make Arizona what we envision since it is so young.
My paintings are only on display on the walls of my friends apartments to whom they’ve been gifted. But I consider the RAW showcases my work in many ways and those are open to the public!
6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?
I really just want to make a positive impact in the arts communities and be able to say that I played a crucial role in the success of as many artists as possible!
7. What’s your mantra?
Be inspired and alive. It’s simple but it says it all.