Frank’s Mixtape

frank mixtape 00by Frank Ippolito
Associate Editor

So, I get this email from the wonderful and lovely editors filled with a bunch of new stuff to listen to – made my day, actually.

But I thought that instead of taking each album one by one and listening to them in their entirety, I decided to generally take the first song (sans Sumiko Sprinkle, I chose her original), that the artist had on their page and make me a little “mixtape” and listen to them like that.

Why, you ask? Thanks for asking.

Here’s why: Because that’s the way people listen to records these days. Gone are the days when people will actually invest the time into an entire album (sans the wonderful Mr. Mitchell Hillman, a writer I admire). Our music players are all on shuffle, amirite? Or we are all too busy or haven’t taken our ADHD meds. I bet you you’re already scanning down to find out what I thought about the music (It’s OK, I get it, but hey, hold up for a second).

Additionally, I wanted to find out how each artist represented themselves on their music pages. What was the very first thing they wanted me to hear? And overall, my ears were delighted.

Why should I listen?

Each one of these artists has their own unique style and their own sense of self. From Brian Lopez, who is a wonderful storyteller (especially on the track “Persephone”), to Courtney Marie Andrews who transported me back to the Grand Ol’ Opry with her track, “They Say”. Owl and Penny, a favorite of mine, combines layers and textures and creates, well, basically a ghost story on “Wild Woods”. Sumiko Sprinkle jazzes it up on their track, “Sleepin’ In” – great smokey vocals and some terrific horns that add just the right amount of texture to the track (but when they say “Sleepin’ In” they uh, don’t mean it…) The Wanda Junes track, “Pallet”, has this great little banjo part that puts the mood smack dab in the middle of the Ozark Mountains but with a contemporary spin. And I guess my favorite, Saw Fox with “Honey Lover Sky Watcher”. Its delicate guitar, airy vocals and really great lyrics totally won me over. Maybe because I’m a junkie for the Cowboy Junkies, because that’s what it reminded of.

What you should listen for:

Listen closely how every artist above commits to their music. Fully and wholly. I mean whether its acoustic, folk, blues-y jazz, or ghost folk, it doesn’t nearly get heads bobbing up and down like rock or dare I say, pop, but these cats sound like they believe in what they’re doing and, in turn, I believe it.

One more thing:

While this genre doesn’t instantly translate to a must-see live performance, each and every one of these musicians/bands deserve your attention at the club. Yeah, you’re not gonna rock out, dance and spin until you vomit, but you will be privy to really wonderful musicianship and music. IMO.

(BTW, my experiment was a success in my book.)

Perfect listening for:

A rainy day. Reading “The Stranger” by Camus. Or during the time you’re thinking of changing your relationship status on Facebook.

Here’s where you can find the entire albums:

Brian Lopez

Owl and Penny

Courtney Marie Andrews

Sumiko Sprinkle

Saw Fox

The Wanda Junes

7 Rad Cover Songs

Local bands and musicians have been known to show their chops by covering other artists they love. Here are 7 rad cover songs for your enjoyment.

Lonna Kelley
“I Won’t Hurt You”
Originally recorded by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band

Halocene covers “Uptown Funk”
Featuring Jacqueline Dunford
Originally recorded by Mark Ronson.

 Brian Lopez
“Be My Baby”
Originally recorded by The Ronnettes.

Longbird
“Empty Notes”
Northern Hustle Cover

Trevor Denton
“Roar”
Katy Perry Cover

Janelle Loes
“Stay With Me”
Sam Smith Cover

Weslynn
“Dark Horse”
Katy Perry Cover

3 Feisty Albums You Should Hear

YabYum Music & Arts

Mickey & the Mountains

A Mantle Piece

It was just about six months ago that Phoenix 4-piece Mickey & the Mountains released the single “Fatigue” which means six months of waiting for fans to get their hands on the rest of the album. A Mantle Piece dropped back in January at an event hosted by The Paper Knife, a local art collective that counts Mickey & the Mountains’ vocalist, Chris Czaja, amongst its ranks. The 10-track album is chalk full of angsty garage rock that gives a nod to both retro rocknroll and punk for a distortion-heavy musical experience. A Mantle Piece opens with the song “Freezing Rain” which stikes a unqiue balance between anxious and easy-going with its post-punk tinged rock. The title track follows suit while kicking up the nervous energy that fuels the album. A Mantle Piece has many permutations within an overarching and distinguishable style. Songs like “Lawless Love” embody that post-punk sound while “I’ll Wear You” pushes the boundaries of drone and rock. “Chew” and “Wild Wind Blowing” have more of an early pop feel intermingled pumped through the grimy Mickey & the Mountains’ vein. The album was recorded during December of last year by the band. I suggest you check out A Mantle Piece for yourself. Listen to (and purchase) the album here. And make sure you get out to see Mickey & the Mountains live. Once again, you won’t be sorry.

 

YabYum Music & ArtsSusan

Just Call It

The power-pop trio out of L.A. known simply as Susan released Just Call It on 7″ through Volar Records last Fall, but we only recently stumbled across the band. Jessica Owen (guitar), Beth Borwell (bass), and Katie Fern (drums) create a scrappy sound that has a summertime feel. The 7″ kicks off with the title track, “Just Call It”. And, as with the tracks to follow, “Just Call It” is upbeat and catchy with a garage punk undercarriage. “Frenchie” adds an extra indiepop layer. Susan is masterful at creating interesting juxtapositions of attitude and delivery. A sugary sweet voice might sing, “I hope you die, I hope you die, I hope you die alone,” as we hear in “Pancake”, the third and final track on Just Call It. Burger Records released Just Call It on limited edition cassette tape so make sure you order and order quickly before they’re all snapped up. This is a band that is just getting started and I know I’m not alone when I say I can’t wait to hear more from Susan. Listen (and purchase) Just Call It here.

 

YabYum Music & ArtsThe Necronauts

OTD

The Brothers Goodman (Billy and Dale) have been making music together as The Necronauts for fifteen years now. Their latest recording endeavor proves these Tempe musicians still have what it takes to lay out some relevant, innovative alt-rock. Released through High School Football Records, OTD opens with “Bingo Stampede”, a lively jam that arrives in a layer of garage fuzz. Throughout the album there is a pervasive sense of discontent that adds a gritty edge to the sound of The Necronauts. There are variations within. Songs like “Pissing on the Sun” and “Left at the Carnival” remind me of the early days of indie and bands like Pavement, but The Necronauts have definitely crafted their own (evolving) sound during their tenure. The album closes with “Bow Tie”, a spaced-out instrumental track that gives the listener pause to take in one last musical flex from the talented players in The Necronauts. OTD is one of those albums that I seem to enjoy more every time I listen to it. Maybe that has something to do with the grungy sound that hearkens back to younger days, but I think it has more to do with the subtle intricacies of OTD. It just sort of sneaks up on you. Listen to (and download for free) OTD here.

 

5 Stellar Singles

YabYum - Arizona Music BlogThere is Danger

Youth

There is Danger is definitely a staff favorite here at YabYum. It’s really not surprising once you give the band a listen. The music is orchestral and the lyricism subtle while There is Danger creates a dream-pop transcendentalism that will sweep you away. “Youth” is the first single we’ve heard from the band since their 2013 debut, Living Dreams. We’re hoping the new song bodes well for a new album on the not-too-distant horizon. “Youth” offers a dreamy nostalgic view of the past through the reflective lens of the present. And, at over six minutes, “Youth” is definitely a song to get lost in for a few minutes when you find yourself in need of some sensory deprivation. Give the song a listen here.

YabYum - Arizona Music BlogThe Myrrors

Juanito Laguna Duerme Con Los Grillos

The dark and mystical sound of The Myrrors has enchanted local listeners for years, but I was a little late catching on I’m ashamed to admit. Their 2013 album, Solar Collector, slipped right by me, but not this time. I am counting down the days until the March release of Arena Negra. A couple of the songs, including the haunting track “Juanito Laguna Duerme Con Los Grillos”, are available for preview. And, just a helpful hint, this is a release you want to pre-order. Already, one of the vinyl options have sold-out. Listen to “Juanito Laguna Duerme Con Los Grillos” here. Pre-order the full release through Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records (yes, that’s right) here.

Mega Gem - YabYum - Arizona Music BlogMega Gem

We Got Away

Denver’s Mega Gem went all the way to New York City to record an album live at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan, but I’m guessing they’d sound just as good in any town. The full album, Live in NYC, will be available later this month. Until then, you can enjoy an early sampling with the track “We Got Away”. Mega Gem self-identifies as “orchestral pop punk” and create a sound that would be a welcome fit amongst our own weird folk acts here in AZ. Listen for yourself here and pre-order the album while you’re there!

YabYum - Arizona Music BlogBear State

Cool Things

The lo-fi bedroom pop of Phoenix 4-piece Bear State achieves a dreamy mellow that we can totally get behind. “Cool Things” appears on the two-track single the band is releasing on 7inch later this month – on February 28th to be exact – through Moone Records. “Cool Things” is a meandering track that will have you nearing trance state. Make sure you stick around for “Dark Comedy”, the B-side to “Cool Things”, because it offers more of the shoegaze goodness that is Bear State. Listen here and get in your pre-order for the Cool Things b​/​w Dark Comedy 7″. You can also catch the band at this year’s VIVA PHX festival in downtown Phoenix on March 14th. Tickets available here.

YabYum - Arizona Music BlogThe Lonesome Wilderness

Cigarettes

The Lonesome Wilderness manifests some of that southwestern psychedelia that I can’t seem to get enough of these days, but the band definitely makes the style their own by adding a bit of garage pop into the mix. The song combines a dusty desert feel with the ambiance of a dark and questionably-located dive bar. The Phoenix five-piece act recorded “Cigarettes” at Audioconfusion. Listen to “Cigarettes” here and head out to the Rogue Bar tomorrow night (Feb. 24th) to catch The Lonesome Wilderness live for yourself.

YabYum Seven: Robert Ciuca

robert 00
Photos provided by Robert Ciuca

1. Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Robert Ciuca, and I play instruments in Fairy Bones & Paper Foxes and have done some paintings that people seem to like.

2. How did you get your start?

robert 01I got really into art when I was 15 and my friend Victoria brought me to her art teacher Linda Storey-London, who is a life teacher just as much as she is an art teacher. She teaches in her house and helps bring to life any projects or ideas you have. Linda had a huge impact on who I am today; her creative, fearless energy was something to be reckoned with.

3. What inspires you?
Whoa, I got carried away on quesion two. Should’ve saved something for this one. Linda. Linda inspires me. I get most of my inspiration from other people, whether it’s a hero I look up to, or an enemy I want to destroy, or a friend who does cooler stuff than me.. they all empower me to be better.
4. What is your favorite thing about AZ?
My favorite thing about AZ is the scenery.  There are so many unique and beautiful things in this state, and I often forget about it living in the city.
5. Where can we see you(r) work?
I’ve got a website at robertciucaart.com, also an Etsy store where prints are available. So far I’ve had my work up at Firehouse Gallery during Art Detour (it’s up til March 8). Looking to do more galleries in the future.
robert 00
Photo coutesy of Frank C. Photography

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

What would you like to accomplish before you die. Before I die?? Morbid. I hope to keep doing exactly what I’m doing right now with music and art but keep making it bigger and bigger and bigger until it explodes into millions of lime green psychedelic fairies.

7. What is your mantra?
Stay focused, Robert.
~
robert 03
robert 02
robert 04

5 Amazing Live Music Videos

The Haymarket Squares
“Don’t Panic”

Submission for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts Contest

Cherie Cherie
“Sweet N’ Low”

from RAARS (Recorded at a Record Store)

Sun Bones
“Everybody Needs a Master”

Submission for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts Contest

Jess Matsen
“Linger Long”

from The Trundle Sessions

Japhy’s Descent
“Owl”

Submission for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts Contest

decker.: Patsy

patsy 01by Lenore LaNova
Senior Editor

It was just about two years ago when the band decker. released Slider, a truly memorable record that took our award for “Album of the Year” in 2013. Since then, Brandon Decker (ringmaster at decker.) has been hard at work carefully crafting new songs while maintaining a heavy performance schedule. The result of those efforts is Patsy, an album that has already proven itself to be one of the most anticipated releasesof the year with several publications releasing advanced previews to create a level of hype we don’t often see for local releases.

The eventuality of all that anticipation will be confronted head-on as decker. launches his four-city homestate album release extravaganza over the next two weekends beginning in Tucson on Friday at Club Congress before heading to Phoenix for the Saturday release show at Last Exit Live. The fun doesn’t stop there. decker. has two shows the following weekend, one in Flagstaff and one in Cottonwood, just to make sure everyone in the state has ample opportunity to attend. And everyone should. Patsy is one hell of an album.

After a short intro, the record kicks off with “O.D.B.” – a preemptive single from the band that captured our attention last year and even made our Top 10 Singles of 2014. “O.D.B.” has a levity that offsets the darker tones found in the remaining tracks. Decker has always held a strong connection to gospel in his thoughtful approach to folk and the same can be said for Patsy. As the songs move forward and the title track begins, one can hear that Decker has succeeded in alligning that spiritual bond with an earthly core to achieve an album that is soulful, strikingly beautiful, and, at times, painfully self-reflective.

“Patsy” has come up swinging to supplant “O.D.B.”. It has a gentle desperation that slowly engulfs the listener. This feeling carries through in songs like “Esther Moffett” and “O’Death”. The song “Cellars” makes an appearance on Patsy as well. Fans will remember this track as a live favorite of the band that was originally released as a single. I almost prefer “Cellars” in the context of Patsy than I did before. It’s a meandering track and yet powerfully dynamic, clocking at roughly nine and a half minutes, and somehow it fits into the whole of Patsy like a chapter in a novel.

The album flows seamlessly together, creating moments of dreaminess as songs transition from one to the other. This is a band that has a strong sense of performance. Not suprising considering decker. (in its various incarnations) has performed at more than a hundred shows annually for half a decade now. And in that time, Brandon has developed a working relationship with some of the state’s finest musicians, many of whom appear on Patsy (which counts a total of 21 players).

Following the whirlwind of AZ-show dates to celebrate the release of Patsy, decker. will be heading out on a 40+ date national tour. So make sure you head out to the release show this weekend (or next, depending on where you are located) or you might be stuck waiting until the flipside of the tour to catch the band live again!

Head over to the decker. website here for tour dates, early album-purchasing options, and previews of Patsy. And, just for fun, we included the first music video from the album from decker., “O.D.B.”, directed by Matty Steinkamp of Sundawg Media.

 

YabYum - Arizona Music Blog