Playboy Manbaby: Bummeritaville


Bummeritaville is Playboy Manbaby’s follow up to the Obsessive Repulsive EP that came out last year. This is their longest release to date clocking in at just under half an hour and shows the band taking a more ambitious route. The production value is definitely bumped up and this project has more of an audible low-end compared to past works.

Things start off with a hard-hitting drum beat on the opener “Choppy Chad”.  The track does a great job of incorporating hard riffs with a slow, melodic guitar moment halfway through the song. Following this is “Potato Wallet” which begins with a killer, punchy bass line. Later, the bass is the main instrument carrying the rhythm during the bridge as front man Robbie Pfeffer delivers an intense spoken word verse before everything comes back together, louder and more pummeling than before.

The tune “First Base” is probably the most straight-forward moment, instrumentally speaking, on this album and lyrically depicts someone who’s trying to have a one-night stand. The feel is very fun and playful, like the band itself. This leads into “Falafel Pantyhose,” a track that rattles off a mean groove that feels somewhat funk inspired. It rises with intensity as Robbie counts off the high-speed finale that is sure to send any crowd into a frantic circle pit.

I love the rising horns opening “Modest Meowz,” they feel like a grand celebration is ready to begin. It also features the catchiest refrain in this collection of songs and is guaranteed to stick with you after only a couple of listens. “Doom Couch” is a hilarious anthem for deadbeat boyfriends. The bright guitar chords in the verse contrast nicely with the tough power chords in the hook. Things cool down halfway through and patiently build as the lyrics “no cash, no time, oh girl won’t you be mine” are chanted until it busts into a hectic ending starring a sharp guitar solo.

“Brenden Lechner” and “Snake Harmer” have already proven to be two crowd-pleasers since they were first released in January on Scum Brothers, a split with Petty Things. The first shows the band’s ska influence. Once again, aggression mixes perfectly with twinkly guitar notes and a memorable vocal melody during the chorus. Kicking off “Snake Harmer” is this incredible tribal drum beat that the guitar and bass compliment and ride strongly. The vocals are harsh and urgent while the lyrics portray the song’s protagonist as a deranged kidnapper threatening to kill a man’s wife if he doesn’t pay the ransom.

Overall, I think the band has really stepped up their songwriting game and have explored more fresh sounds to make their own. If there’s at least one thing to admire about this album, it’s the ambition. Many bands find a formula that works well enough and merely settle, but Bummeritaville looks to top the band’s past work and I would say it succeeds.

by Miguel Guzman
Staff Writer

Kate Benjamin Answers the YabYum Seven


1. Who are you and what do you do?

I call myself a “Cat Style Expert” and, as far as I know, I’m the only one with that title. What that means is that I eat, sleep and breathe design and cats. I write about designer-ly cat products and I help people “Catify” their homes, adding features to keep indoor cats happy and healthy, like climbing shelves, scratchers, litter boxes, etc. Designing your home for living with cats is so important for managing cat behavior issues, but you have to do it in a way that keeps in mind both the needs of the cats and the aesthetic of the humans. There’s no need for your home to look like a Crazy Cat Lady lives there just because you have cats! Catification can be done in a way that makes both the cats and people happy.

I also design and manufacture a line of handcrafted cat products that are made right here in Arizona. I’m constantly testing new materials and new ideas with my 12 cats and I collaborate with other designers on some projects. My design studio is in Bragg’s Pie Factory on Grand Avenue.

2. How did you get your start?

In 2007, I was working as the Director of Marketing at a company that made modern children’s products (Boon Inc), when I realized that the cat product industry — like the children’s product industry was already doing — needed to offer something that was a little more suited to those of us who appreciate modern design. There were a handful of companies and product designers at the time experimenting with new concepts for cat products, so I gathered my findings and started a blog, Moderncat.net. A couple of years later, the blog had become so popular that I was able to quit my job and work on it full time. That is when I started designing my own products and last year I launched the Hauspanther brand.

3. What inspires you?

My cats are my inspiration. All of them are rescues, many of which came right off the streets in downtown Phoenix, and I consider them my family. Because I have a lot of cats, I have tons of opportunities to test new ideas with them. I added a Catio, an enclosed patio for cats, to my condo so they have a safe place to hangout where they can get some fresh air. I’m constantly adding new features to my home just for the cats. I love seeing them napping comfortably on a new cat bed, or perching up high on a cat shelf. I think they are beautiful and every one of them deserves to be in a loving home. Unfortunately, we have such a huge pet overpopulation problem here in the US, so many cats are killed in shelters every day or set out on the streets to fend for themselves. My goal with my business is to use design to help keep more cats in safe, happy homes and to help reduce those numbers of unwanted cats. If I can show someone how to design their home to help alleviate any cat issues they are having (like inappropriate scratching, not using the litter box, fighting, etc.) then I’ve removed any excuse they might have for getting rid of the cat.

4. What do you like about AZ?

I love the small business community and the arts scene in downtown Phoenix. It’s awesome being a part of the community and being on Grand Avenue. There’s so much happening right now, lots of people doing incredibly creative things, and so many of them are truly breaking the mold, really doing their own thing. It’s inspirational to see what people are doing and I love supporting other local businesses and artists.

5. Where can we see you(r) work?

You can see my cat-related design finds as well as my own product line at hauspanther.com. Our products are available locally at Noble Beast Market for Pets on Camelback, MADE Art Boutique in Roosevelt Row, the Arizona Humane Society Petique at the Biltmore, and at Dreamy Draw Cat Hospital.

I also make guess appearances on Jackson Galaxy’s reality TV show “My Cat From Hell” on Animal Planet. Jackson and I are the “Catification Team”. On the show we Catify homes to help with cat behavior issues. Sometimes we deal with some really tough cases! We just co-authored a book titled “Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home For Your Cat (and You!)” to be published this fall by Tarcher (a division of Penguin/Random House). The book is full of our Catification design tips and inspiration for designing a cat-friendly home.


6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I want to save all the cats! But that’s a pretty big challenge. I will do what I can to help as many cats as possible, because I feel that our relationships with these creatures truly enrich our lives.

7. What is your mantra?

“Saving just one animal won’t change the world, but it surely will change the world for that one animal.”

~

5 from Rubber Brother Records

It’s super exciting to see Rubber Brother Records continuing to expand their catalogue. They aren’t just adding albums, but pushing the lines of genre further and further. In turn, our jobs are made harder and harder, but all the more interesting.

Small Leaks Sink Ships

Livingroom Sessions

Small Leaks Sink Ships might have left these desert streets named after trees we don’t actually have in favor of greener Portland pastures, but before they said goodbye, they released a tape through Rubber Brother Records. The Livingroom Sessions contains 10 tracks of experimentation in sound and structure without sacrificing that distinctive Small Leaks Sink Ships style. This, folks, is how you leave town with a bang. Listen/purchase the Livingroom Sessions here.

Petty Things

Year of the Dog

Petty Things is one of those bands that we just can’t get enough of. They put on a stellar live show and and feisty tracks from the band are frequently popping up on split releases and new cassettes. This release, however, is special. It weighs in at a whopping 11 tracks, each one worth the listen if you’re into disgruntled desert rock, which I am. Three tracks from Year of the Dog are available for preview here, but you’ll have to cough up some cash for the full release. Trust us, you want to. This band is rad.



Samuel L Cool J 

Vol. 1

The 7-song cassette release from Samuel L Cool J dropped into expectant hands back at Parliament on March 1st. I’m feeling a little slow on the uptake considering how long I’ve been waiting for music from this band to have and own for my very own. The seven song cassette has all the get-down, throwback soul one could possible want from an RBR release, but if Rubber Brother has shown us anything, it’s that they’re not easily contained. If they want to release a soul-funk classic, they’re going to find the best garage soul band this desert has and that’s Samuel L Cool J. Listen here.

Northern Hustle

Live at the Crescent Ballroom

Forgether was a really standout album from last year and the release show will forever live in our minds for the joyous festival of community it was. Turns out most shows Northern Hustle puts on turn into something you want to put in your pocket and take with you forever. Thankfully, with the help of Rubber Brother Records, that is now possible. This cassette tape features B-sides from Forgether recorded live. Listen/purchase here.


The Lone Wolfs

Unused Parts

The Lone Wolfs almost lost me during the intro track of 2+ minutes of philosophical meanderings before the computer voice shuts off and the music kicks in. Thankfully, I persevered. The recordings meander along the pathways of traditional folk while stopping to give reflective pause whenever the moment strikes. Six hefty tracks, Unused Parts can get a little repetitive so you might find it’s better used as a background than focal piece. There is something strange, sometimes moving, and occasionally funny about Unused Parts at the same time, which is why we find it on our list today. Decide for yourself here.

 

The Skeleton Keys

Photo courtesy of the Skeleton Keys
For Shane Hunt, music was always a conduit not simply for self-expression, but a way to relate to others.
“Music is the best catalyst for conversation I have ever discovered,” Hunt said. “You instantly have something to relate to anybody with. I can channel all that energy, enthusiasm or anguish and create something that not only helps me, but will touch or affect others also. Music transcends language barriers, religious beliefs or ethnicities – it’s a universal dialect. It’s not difficult to be enthusiastic about that.”
Shane Hunt, Sydney Sprague, and Sam Mitchell make up The Skeleton Keys, a new group in Phoenix ready to leave their unique mark on the Valley. Hunt plays guitar/mandolin, Sprague plays guitar/ukulele, while Mitchell plays violin/mandolin, and all three contribute on vocals. What’s more, Hunt’s comments show performing is something more to the trio than just playing music – they want to connect with their fans and make them feel something new.
“I tend to describe my songwriting as an attempt to encapsulate a particular moment or emotion,” Hunt said. “It’s like exorcism – you try to take an energy that is pervading your spirit and drive it out. Songs are a binding agent for that spirit. I look at where I am mentally and emotionally, feel what the tone of the song is, and imbue the melody and lyrics with the feeling I have currently, or with a past feeling that stands out to me.“
Shane Hunt
Another sign of great performers is how easily they adapt to change. The Skeleton Keys have changed since they first began, and have risen to many challenges. When Hunt was first performing, he played solo, but once he saw Sydney Sprague perform at a local “Chicks with Picks” showcase, he just had to introduce himself.
“We had very similar interests and songwriting styles,” Hunt said. “We blended very easily.”

When Hunt and Sprague began playing together, it quickly became a natural fit. Later, while Sprague was working as an intern at a recording studio in Austin, Hunt began writing for a music journal, AmpKicker.com, covering groups in the Valley and national acts.
Sam Mitchell was playing violin for one such group when she crossed paths with Hunt. But while Hunt was present to watch the group perform, Mitchell’s skills kept his attention through their whole set.
“I mentioned to her I was recording songs, and I would love to hear what it sounded like with her violin on them,” Hunt said. And later, when Mitchell parted ways with her former band, Hunt asked her if she would still be interested in working on the material together.
Eventually the three met and clicked instantly. The Skeleton Keys were born.
“When we met, Sydney and I were instant friends,” Mitchell said. “It’s not fake, everybody is really into it – everybody loves playing music. It’s music for music’s sake. I wrote stuff that fit in with their music, and went from there. We did a lot of covers, along with their own songs, to set the tone and develop our own rhythm and dynamic.”
Sydney Sprague
Hunt agreed, saying when groups sit down to write a set, there is often conflict regarding band direction.
“But with us, it was instant chemistry. Everyone got along great,” he said. “When we first walked in, we played a blend of my songs and Sydney’s songs… but we started to see the dynamic change. As a singer/songwriter, you write simply and for yourself; but I started to change in the way I approach songwriting. I write with the group in mind now, leaving space for Sam’s violin or for Sydney’s vocals.”
Mitchell adds she truly believes strings elevate and provide depth to rock music.
“I was determined to show everyone violin will fit into rock music,” she said. “It does fit into rock music. It was hard getting into a band – first, because I’m a girl; second, because I play violin.”
With The Skeleton Keys, Mitchell is thrilled to have found a group who appreciates her skills on violin, as well as builds their set around giving her a chance to shine.
“Before, in other groups, the fit just wasn’t right,” Mitchell said. “I came into this group now with bad experiences based on prior situations, but I was really blown away. I came home saying, ‘I really like doing this! I really like music again.’”
Hunt said there is a tangible difference between Sprague and himself playing as solo songwriters compared to the dynamic of when they play together.
Sam Mitchell
“I tend to write songs so I can still squeeze all the emotion, impact and intensity out of an audience I can when I play them by myself with an acoustic guitar,” he said. “So when I started to write for the band, my process started to change a bit to incorporate Sam and Syd’s strengths and sensibilities into my own style. There is a definite contrast to things I’ve written on my own to what we are writing together now. There is space created for solos, and there is a lot of room for harmonies, for example.”
The Skeleton Keys are ready to spread the word they are performing around town, and will soon head into the studio to record an album.
“Living off something we love so much would be amazing,” Mitchell said. “We’ve played consistently for a few months. We plan to get photos, merchandise and our album going very soon. I don’t care if we don’t get crazy big; I just want to get where we can do this for a living.”
Being an artist professionally is a major hurdle for most musicians, and Hunt knows there are many who are quick to condemn and sometimes dismiss performers. To every musical hopeful out there, he is just as quick to remind them for every criticism, there is a hand reaching out to offer help and support.
“You can’t allow your expectations to dictate your actions in the music business,” he said. “You have to just exist in the moment and allow things to happen to you… it’s an incredibly scarring and simultaneously intensely fulfilling experience. It’s like being in love with someone – it has the capacity to make you rapturous or completely devastated… so much of it is contingent on the type of energy you take to the situation. So if you’re open to good things, they will find you eventually.”
The Skeleton Keys aim to open many doors in the music industry and in the minds of their fans for the foreseeable future.
For more information on The Skeleton Keys visit them on Facebook or YouTube.
by Matt Marn
Contributing Writer

Wolvves: Go Demon or Go Home

Earlier this month, Wolvves unleashed their second EP to a torrential crowd of revelers at the Trunk Space. We were there and when I say “there” I mean we were right outside the front door, basking in the humid air spilling through the doorway, because it was far too dangerous to venture actually inside, at least, at my age. A surging, seething mass of youngsters fills the inside to maximum occupancy; a merry band of riotous youths intent on breaking away from the daily drudgery of impending adulthood in a flurry of sweaty bodies and loud, really loud, rocknroll.

This is exactly the celebration I wanted to see for the release of Go Demon or Go Home, the five-track cassette tape Wolvves unleashed through Rubber Brother Records. From the opening of the EP, Wolvves nails the perfect mix of punk and rock to turn all that stagnant discontent lurking in your veins into hot, fast-moving blood.

“______” kicks things off. Just as Wolvves had everyone yelling for pizza last year, this year will be all about the milkshake, or milk steak, depending on how the listener interprets the lyrics. Aydin, lead singer and lyricist for Wolvves, insists that he is saying “milk steak” in the song, but I sang the words “milkshake” for days before learning that it might have been in error and there’s no way for me to learn new words now. And, I wouldn’t put it past Aydin to lie to me outright for the sake of humor. Either way, the song fucking rocks and the rest of the tape does not diminish.

The second song, “Home”, captures that special blend of angst and irony that helped to define the first release from the band, Live Forever. By the time “Locals Only” – the third track – rolls out, you should be ready to start the revolution, light buildings on fire, or, at the very least, to have consensual sex with a complete stranger in a bar bathroom. Here’s where my motherly warning comes into play. Don’t listen to this album in moments of extreme existential depression as it may  induce fits of epic debauchery, ones that you might have to explain to your own children some day, to say nothing of parents or police officers in the more immediate future.

“Static” mellows things out for a few without actually being mellow before “Twenty” revs up to close down Go Demon or Go Home with a dreamy, dissonant, summer anthem for the ages. As some of you might know, I’m a die-hard, put-a-knife-in-someone fan of Wolvves. I can’t honestly say which album I prefer: Live Forever  or Go Demon or Go Home. On the newest release, the rap-rock combo has been supplanted for a more traditional punk feel, but none of the originality or style is lost in translation.

I guess you’ll just have to familiarize yourself with both EPs and decide for yourself. Go Demon or Go Home can be heard here. True fans, like myself, should definitely score their own cassette version before they run out. And, of course, if you haven’t yet caught the band live do so right away and, remember, safety first.

3 Eclectic Albums

If you are looking to get your shoe gaze and ambient on, Fred is Nina by Meaningless! Says the Teacher, is your ticket to Chilloutville. And I mean that in a very good way. You know, sometimes, shoegaze bands will string together long chords, droning keys, and uninspired bass and percussion and call it an album. Kevin Toth (bass), Parker LaRue, Jeff Tribble, and Kyle Smith (guitars), and Tim Tuanaki (drums) stay way clear of the expected on their album, Fred is Nina. Over the course of the five-track record, the guys take the listener on a journey filled with intricate guitar-work structure around the bass and drums. As I was typing the credits, I stopped for a second and wondered where the keyboard player was – and, to my delight and surprise, there isn’t one – a testament to how they have managed to harness and master their guitar sound. Nice work gentlemen. Nice work indeed. But why is Fred Nina? I might never know. Listen to the album here.

Amanda Waters

Spoken Word is the art of streaming consciousness into tangible forms. Stringing words and thoughts together into a cohesive thought, making it rhyme without making it, well, you know, rhyme. Add to that, Spoken Word is the art of baring one’s soul without giving away too much. We Don’t Have To Be Like This from Amanda Waters does just that. On “Tea”, a standout on the collection, the listener is pushed to believe that you don’t need a love interest to be loved. And she doesn’t stop there. Each track proves as intensely lovely as the next. Loss, lovers of past and present, a silver car, an ode to Tucson, are all motifs that find voice and representation on this powerful (dare I say, female-empowered) album. Listen to We Don’t Have To Be Like This here
One of the best things, besides the snacks at the year-end staff award-picking parties, is that we get to choose what albums to listen to. And am I thankful because that’s how I came upon the indie-folkiness of Longbird. Longbird, Bobby and Mariah Brown, a brother-sister duo from Yuma, have put together a bouncy, sentimental and wonderful 4-tune album, Pioneer Cemetery. The EP starts off with a beautiful a cappella harmony that sets an expecting tone for what is to come next. The solid musicianship is completely apparent here: banjo, mandolin, guitar, and percussion – everything that folk is known for – without going all Mumford & Sons. These siblings should be heard for several reasons because (a) they can really play and play well, (b) can craft lyrics that are story-driven and interesting, and (c) did I mention the harmonies? “Bleach” is my favorite track. Why you ask? Glad you did. Ms. Brown’s voice is showcased here. Part Regina Spektor, part Bjork, all wonderful. Combine her voice against a melancholy accordion lead, and terrific, and I mean terrific, percussion (is that an empty bottle you’re hitting a stick against?), and it’s a song that’s worth several listens. One more question… Dear Longbird, uh, yeh, when you playing next? Listen to Pioneer Cemetery here.

by Frank Ippolito
Staff Writer

Rubber Brother Records: Puppy Love Mixtape

The Puppy Love Mixtape is the first ever benefit compilation tape from Rubber Brother Records. It premieres new material from Dogbreth, The Wavelengths, and Good Friends Great Enemies paired alongside some older tracks in the label’s discography.

Dogbreth’s track “Close With You” is one of their sweeter, mellow tunes with a catchy fuzzed-out guitar lead that pops in. The Wavelengths contribute a surf rock instrumental with a fantastic keyboard solo towards the finale. “Feelsgoodman.jpg” by Good Friends Great Enemies is another soothing instrumental lead by soft classical guitars.

Songs from some of Rubber Brother’s first releases are featured on the tape like Instructions’ “Jeff Gordon” and Wolvves’ “Live Forever”. Los Puchos’ “Eliana” is a strong garage rock throwback starring a 12-string guitar lead that will get stuck in your head. The recently established Leonardo DiCapricorn are thrown in the mix with the high energy “Jno”.

While most of the comp is rock of various flavors, there are some oddball takes on hip-hop from Hug of War and Treasure Mammal towards the end showing the eclectic quality of the label. This cassette is a great way for anyone to get into what Rubber Brother is all about. The community they are building is immensely positive for artists and music fans alike. Although, to truly get a full grasp of the Rubber Brother aesthetic, a visit needs to be payed to their all-ages music space: Parliament.

Listen and purchase the Puppy Love Mixtape here.

by Miguel Guzman
Contributing Writer

The Art of the Donut with Mo Neuharth

Good thing I’m not the jealous type or I would definitely decide to hate Mo Neuharth. She’s the type of woman that can show up in an archaic cut-up t-shirt paired with print short overalls I imagine everyone’s bratty younger sister wore in 1991 and look like she’s ready to reshape popular culture with the easy power of her overlashed eye.

When Mo Neuharth goes for a walk in the morning to pick up some doughnuts, she doesn’t spend the afternoon in a sugar coma watching courtroom television. No, instead, she might be struck by the unique aesthetic value of these frosted, doughy concoctions and plan a new project. Three weeks later, that very same project is set for release through Art Problems, Neuharth’s own publishing house. That, folks, is how an artist walks to a doughnut shop.

The Catalogue of Donuts will be released this coming Saturday, April 26th, at the  Tempe Zine Convention 4. The collection will be Mo’s first studio project. Her previous work tends to center around found moments; the unplanned fall of light against a car, a home, a bush, the street. The Catalogue of Donuts represents a different aesthetic principle, one that is constructed. The objects (doughnuts) are elevated to the level of art through their removal from their natural environment (doughnut shop) and reexamined in a studio setting where the application of light and background contextualizes each object, emphasizing its natural beauty and its strangeness.

At the same time, I would argue the doughnut as a cultural metaphor is resoundingly appropriate. Popular, decorative, sugary, seemingly innocuous, but dangerous if overindulged. There is a vapidness to the doughnut and also an innocence of childhood recalled in the bright colors and candy additions, a relationship that Mo emphasizes in both selection of each object and placement on bold backgrounds. Color has always been a key defining aspect of Mo Neuharth’s photographic endeavors and The Catalogue of Donuts provided the perfect platform to work within her vibrant palate.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of The Catalogue of Donuts (and future projects from Art Problems), is Neuharth’s view of accessibility and art. A recent ASU graduate, she understands that dropping a lot of money on a photography book isn’t always in the realm of possibilities for most of us on the grind. The goal of Art Problems is not only to get more art made, but to make that art accessible. The Catalogue of Donuts will be available for a nominal amount ($10). And, each copy will come in a hand-stamped paper bag just like one you might use to carry home a doughnut or two.

I can’t wait to get my copy nor can I wait to see what comes next out of Art Problems, the publishing house that Mo Neuharth is slowly constructing, one neighborhood walk at a time.

For more Art Problems, click here.