The Bittersweet Way has been on the scene for quite some time now with more than a decade under their belt. And their latest release heavens might be my favorite album to date from the Phoenix duo. Garage indie pop with a distinctive nod toward shoegaze and (dare I say?) the bittersweet. The album opens with the mellow heartwrencher “How It Ends”, an ironic start to the 12-track release. By the second track, The Bittersweet Way’s pop-rock tendency begins to emerge. On songs like “Peerless” you can definitely hear a Western sensibility that accentuates the garage pop with a sense of place. “Jed the Baptist (parts 1, 2, &3)” take on that rural gospel feel that had me instantly hooked on the trinity of songs sprinkled throughout heavens, but don’t start thinking this record squelches on the retro-restyled pop of the Bittersweet Way. “See the Light” and “Ba Pa Da” will have you dancing like in the sock-hop days you probably never had anyway. Danny McWatters and Jedidiah Foster make up The Bittersweet Way but there is no lack of musical presence or instrumentation on the album. They just made my list of bands I have to see live to see how the songs translate to stage. Luckily, I have that chance on June 5th where they’ll be performing at Tempe Tavern with Nomada. You should join me there and, beforehand, take some time to check out heavens here. You can purchase the album but the official release isn’t happening for several weeks yet. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on that event!
Texas singer-songwriter Betty Soo has been keeping busy as she crisscrosses the continent delivering her own unique brand of alt-country for all you out there who, like me, are a sucker for a delicate croon. The latest album from Betty Soo titled When We’re Gone opens with “Listen”, a dusty and dark road where Soo’s voice offers the essential illumination. “100 Different Ways of Being Alone” heads in the direction of classic country but it lingers in those blurred boundaries, never quite losing that indie pop thread that ties it to mainstream listeners rather than “country fans”. As the album progressed, I realized that this is definitely one I would consider sharing…. with my girlfriends… particularly when in proximity to a breakup. Betty Soo captures that lost love spirit on When We’re Gone with songs like “Last Night” and “Nothing Heals a Broken Heart”. The album closes with “Lullaby” – a lovely song that will send you into dreamy sleep with a new appreciation for Betty Soo’s vocal talents. Preview and purchase When We’re Gone here. Let’s get some Arizona cities on that hectic tour schedule of hers.
Mellow but uplifting, the captivating indie rock of Phoenix band The Nix will perfectly compliment a chill mood without getting too somber. Their six-track release Contact fuses shoegaze with the delicate pop sensibility heard in British indie outfits. I can hear hints of retro rocknroll in the melodies as well as bands like Camera Obscure in the layered, gauzy vocals and the mood-elevating musicality on tracks like “Gone”. The playful “Sexy Time” is probably my least favorite track from the release as the band tries to liven up their dulcet sound. “Diamond Eyes” takes on that same task with greater success, making for a summer classic I plan on jamming poolside. “Control” has an ethereal quality, creating a dreamy interlude before “Two Lovers (Swept Away by a River)” comes in to charm that childlike center some of us manage to sustain into our adult years. Preview the album and score your own copy of Contact by The Nix here.
The acoustic indie pop of Albuquerque’s musical group known as Richmond possesses a calm, introspective quality tucked into the folds of the radio-ready ballads head on Moving On, their first EP. Next door neighbors turned lifelong friends, Heath Warren and Nate Boitano forged the musical partnership that would become Richmond. Later, the duo was joined by bassist/producer Brett Haggerty. Moving On opens with the somber and moving “Wrong Side of Love”, setting a tone of melodic serenity that stays with you throughout the EP. The second track, “Man on the Moon”, might be my favorite of the four songs found on Moving On, but the folksy closer “Middle of the Road” is certainly in contention. Listen to Moving On by Richmond here.
This lofi collection of bedroom recordings from the Denver artist known as Moth Mender offers listeners a friendly dreamscape to drift through on a sunny afternoon. The five-track EP opens with “Your Bed was Tall” and I was reminded of another musician in possession of an ethereal voice, Michelle Blades, and the void she left in my music-listening life when she moved to Paris. “Dog Daze”, the summery second track, is my favorite from the self-titled release from Moth Mender. “The Mess that Made You” closes the album in the dreamy tone that Moth Mender maintains throughout the EP. Listen to Moth Mender here and for more music by the same artist (with her band) check out Strawberry Runners here.