2015 Awards Recap

2015 awards 00Well there you have it folks, our 2015 Awards are done! Now that this month has flown by and we find ourselves eleven twelfths closer to the end of the year, it’s time to begin our regularly scheduled programming. We’re going for gold this year with new content and features so get ready for some new shit. Meanwhile, if you missed any, here is the 2015 Awards Recap!

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Album of the Year: We Were Never Here by Sweetbleeders

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First and foremost, there were a number of tremendous musical works to emerge from Arizona during the previous year. But, in the end, we knew that the latest release from Sweetbleeders was hands down the best album we heard in 2015. From start to finish, We Were Never Here stands out with its stunning, piano-driven pop; each song unique and magnificently beautiful. For We Were Never Here, the Sweetbleeders (Robin Vining, Brandon and Steven Dueck, and David Marquez) were joined by stellar local talents including Megyn Neff and Jon Rauhouse. Amy Ross of Nowhere Man and A Whiskey Girl makes a posthumous appearance on the album as well. If you haven’t delved into We Were Never Here, I suggest you do so immediately. Read our original review of We Were Never Here here. And, last but not least, check out our Radio Phoenix Podcast with Robin Vining to hear some of his favorite Arizona musicians here.

 

Staff Favorites for 2015

staff favorites titleAlrighty, folks, this is where we lay it all on the line and each member of staff gets to name their favorite band/album from the preceding year. Awards’ month is a contentious time for us, but everyone came through in the end with their banner held high for their personal favorites. Now, it’s time to name names.

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Katterwaul

Lenore LaNova – Senior Editor

Katterwaul released 15 Forever back in September. I like to think of the album as a little birthday present just for me. From beginning to end, Katterwaul delivers gritty, bluesy, desert rock that makes me want to light things on fire. I can’t even pick a favorite track. Brittany Katter’s voice has just the right amount of sand mixed in with the sugar to give Katterwaul the funky edge that defines their sound.  Every songs begs for repeated listens.

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Freaks of Nature

Mark Anderson – Senior Editor

Musically speaking, my favorite album of the year is Songs for Savages by the Freaks of Nature. Take the best of 60s garage pop rocknroll and then filter it through four guys who love it to death and that’s as best as I can describe Songs for Savages. Although the band has been on hiatus for a little while, the Freaks say they’re not done yet. Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Daniel Shircliff seems to be quite busy with his new band The Christian Family however, so we’ll be keeping our ears crossed new Freaks material comes out soon. Not sure how it will sound without Steve on lead guitar though!

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decker.

Frank Ippolito – Associate Editor

My pick this year is Patsy by decker. Most concept albums can get sideways pretty quickly, but here, Brandon Decker manages to stitch together a beautiful tapestry of songs that explore the frailty that resides in us all. It’s title track (“Patsy”), and its lyrics, (“Never better over there/never better over here/never better anywhere”), and it’s refrain (“They shot me down”) capture the essence of how it feels to be human and how, sometimes, we are all pawns in this game of fate.

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Fairy Bones

Nicole Royse – Arts Editor

I love the energy and spirit that Fairy Bones brings to their music and its eclectic sound. The lead singer Chelsey’s gorgeous voice and songwriting is simply moving and mesmerizing. I love the danceability and joy that this band brings when they perform and they are one of the hardest working and touring bands around. I’m proud they rep AZ!! Listen to their 2015 release, Dramabot.

Citrus Clouds

Joe Golfen – Staff Writer

One of the rare bands that arrives on the scene with their sound fully formed, Phoenix’s Citrus Clouds offer a churning mix of shoegaze and psychedelic rock, with big nods to bands like My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus Mary Chain. Local music fans will recognize guitarist/frontman Erick Pineda from his other excellent band Tierra Firme, and with Citrus Clouds he’s nailed that big, distorted guitar sound, while making sure the songs are strong enough to support the noise. Drummer Anthony Jarero is a powerhouse that keeps the energy rolling, and bassist Stacie Huttleston’s airy vocals and Joy Division-style basslines offer the melodic center of the band. Make sure to check out their 2015 release, In Time I Am.

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Harper and the Moths

Song River – Staff Writer

Harper and the Moths: In a sea of penguins sometimes we spot a panda. It isn’t so much the dynamics of what is inherently nothing more than black and white, but it is the elements of arrangement that define. Music, when listened to at times, sounds all the same: a deluge of indistinct noise. However, I recall when Harper and the Moths arrived on the scene their arrangements, both musically and fashionably, brought my ears forward and kept them in tune. Holding power and hip shaking sanctify the listener to the flame – Harper and the Moths have done that. Check out the 2015 singles released by the band here. And, yes, there is a new album on the horizon this year.

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Mike Montoya: KIND

Brent Miles – Staff Writer

Ah. yes. When Yab Yum’s esteemed editor asked for the 2015 Staff Picks, there was only one clear choice. I love Mike and his newest album, KIND, journalism ethics be damned.* Mike sent me an early version of KIND. I was only able to give it a cursory listen, as I was cramming to execute Mike’s immaculately intricate guitar parts. When you think he’s going to zig, Mike zags, and that’s why KIND rewards the listener upon every spin.

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I Am Hologram

Chris Nunley – Staff Writer

I Am Hologram embodies everything that I love about music and the element of chaos. Using a perfectly balanced blend of acoustic and electronic instrumentation, Hologram’s unconventional and unwavering performances will leave you in shock and awe. This guy is quickly setting himself apart from other solo acts as one of the most original in the valley.

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JJCnV

Anton Shipe – Webmaster

As webmaster (and sound editor for our radio show), Anton hears a constant barrage of local music, probably far more so than any of you musicians out there. Out of it all, JJCnV rises to the top as his favorite local act. Their 2015 release – Leathered, Weathered, and Feathered – got shafted on all fronts from YabYum because of one editor’s (ahem… Mark) involvement in the band’s new horn section, but it was one of the best albums to come out of Arizona this past year. You’ll probably want to add this one to your collection.

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Harrison Fjord

Jofrin Pezzati – Burning Empire Media Affliate

Harrison Fjord are newcomers on the local scene but they’ve already made quite an impression. Jofrin Pezzati of Burning Empire Media and the head cheese for our “Songs from the Reading Room” series also chose these youngsters for their slick musical stylings as his favorite band of the year. If you haven’t delved into the spaced-out, jazz pop of Harrison Fjord, consider changing all that and hear their 2015 EP, Puspa in Space.

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*Mike Montoya has been a friend and occasional bandmate of Brent Miles. As part of our policy on full-disclosure, we wanted to include this little note, but, for those of you that have heard Montoya’s KIND, no note was probably necessary. It was definitely one of the best releases to come out of the state in 2015.

Songwriter of the Year: Daryl G. Scherrer of The Blood Feud Family Singers

bffs 01New local supergroup, The Blood Feud Family Singers, started a few years ago but it wasn’t until this past year that we were able to get our grubby hands on their debut release, No Moon. Twelve breath-taking tracks of love and loss that will speak to your soul, if you have any soul to speak of, with Daryl G. Scherrer sitting at the helm penning songs. The band describes their sound aptly as “Americana Noir”: it’s dark and brooding and beautiful. Each track stands out like a short story in a collection by Faulkner, full of strange characters from French brides to injured hitchhikers. There wasn’t even an argument (and this year there were plenty) about who stood out in 2015 as the Songwriter of the Year. It’s Scherrer and The Blood Feud Family Singers.

Best Music Videos of 2015

best music videos of 2015 altBest Music Videos of 2015:

15. Numb Bats
“To Die”

Director: Michelle Blades

14. MRCH
“Highway Drivin'”

Director: Frank Thomas

13. decker.
“O.D.B.”

Director: Matty Steinkamp

12 Giant Sand
“Transponder”

Director: Lucy Dyson

11. PRO TEENS
“Mona”

Director: Michael J Buckius

10. Captain Squeegee
“Seek”

Director: Matty Steinkamp

9. Gardens & Villa
“Fixations”

Director: Austin M. Kearns

8. Katterwaul
“15 Forever”

Director: Krysta Jabczenski

7. Brian Lopez
“Static Noise”

Director: Nadine Roselle

 6. Good Friends Great Enemies
“Who You Are”

Director: Plastic Monsters

5. Lonna Kelley
“No Body No Mind”

Director: Lonna Kelley

4. decker.
“Patsy”

Director: Matty Steinkamp

3. Jerusafunk
“El Gitano Borracho”

Director: Plastic Monsters

2. Bogan Via
“Running”

Director: Young Man

1. Xixa
“Shift and Shadow”

Directors: Martin Daniel Diaz and Paula Catherine Valencia

Best Alien Video:

Sam Means
“We’re Alone”

Director: Too Many Mangoes

Best Band-in-Action Video:

 Fairy Bones
“Banshee”

Director: Jeremy Tremp

Best One-Take:

Futuristic
“I Be That”

Director: Jacob Owens

Best Animation:

Captain Squeegee
“The Farce 500 Million”

Director (and Animator): Johnny McHone

Best Live Video

Harrison Fjord
“Approximately 906 Miles”

Director: Freddie Paull

Weirdest Video

Belly Belt
“If You Like to Dance”

Director: Belly Belt

Most Likely to Succeed: decker.

decker 01Brandon Decker of the band decker. keeps himself busy these days. In between playing more than 150 shows, he managed to release one of the best albums of 2015 – Patsy. Through a hectic tour schedule, he is slowly amassing a following that stretches from coast to coast. We managed to catch him in New York City when he was playing a gig at the Rockwood Music Hall. Even to an audience of mostly unfamiliar listeners, the band managed to captivate and move the crowd. Rumor has it, he might be returning to Rockwood for a residency later this year right around the time his new album (yes, a new album) drops. Despite all this, he still took time out of his schedule to come down and record a “Songs from the Reading Room” session. During the filming, he was the consummate performer; on point from sound check to final cut. Before the band heads out to take their music to new locales, they have plans to record a live album on Feb. 26th at Last Exit Live (tickets available here). decker. is going places, both literally and figuratively, and that’s why they’re the winner of this year’s “Most Likely to Succeed” award. Soulful music paired with a stellar live show and the courage to push the boundaries past state lines: how could they not succeed? Make plans to attend decker.’s live album recording and take part in history. And, if you haven’t already, spend some time with Patsy here. Truly one of the best.

Best EP: Take Me Home Spider-Man by Lonna Kelley

take me home spidermanThe dark and dreamy EP Lonna Kelley released in the Spring of 2015 immediately captured our hearts and ears. Take Me Home Spiderman is a stunning, six-track solo endeavor from Kelley who also performs with Cherie Cherie, Happy Plaza, and Giant Sand. Each song is impossibly beautiful; harrowing in one breath, uplifting in the next. Lonna’s music isn’t overly ornate. Instead, she strips down to an astute simplicity that wrenches the heart with every note. Listen to Take Me Home Spiderman here and maybe, just maybe, you can still get your hands on your own vinyl copy.

Radio Phoenix Podcast: YASKY

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Seventy-five percent of YASKY, formerly known as Why Ask Why?, joined us live on the air at Radio Phoenix for another installment of Rise! The complete playlist can be found below…

Complete Playlist:

YASKY “Hole to Hell”

Please “The Drive”

Pride through Strife “By The Way”

The Pleasure Victims “Grind”

horizon i ‘Dig Deep’

YASKY “People Behind the People”

Bolboski Bros “Xenotears”

Alice Vega “Crafter”

Chairbreaker “House of Earl”­

Krovak “PBR Song”

The Hourglass Cats “Been Thinkin”

Recorded live on December 16, 2015.