I have a special place in my heart for bookish musicians and Golden Suits out of Brooklyn is exactly that: bookish. “Is It Wrong” is a new single from the artist’s forthcoming release, Kubla Khan, due out in October. The track is both pensive and uplifting. How often do I get to align those two words? Not nearly enough. The new album is rumored to center around a recent breakup and a collection of short stories by John Cheever. If that doesn’t say Brooklyn indie rock, I don’t know what does. Listen to “Is it Wrong” here and start getting excited about the impending release from Golden Suits…
The new single, “Crash”, from the Baltimore duo known as the Great American Canyon Band is both dreamy and haunting. Live and unplugged, “Crash” maintains a earthen rawness which pairs well with the ethereal beauty of the vocal harmonies provided by this wife-husband musical partnership. The original recorded version of this track appears on Only You Remain, the band’s debut release, but this new recording offers a stripped down version that I’m rather partial to. Listen to both versions and pick your favorite, but start with the new live version below. Only You Remain is available for purchase here.
Psychic Love outta L.A. is fronted by multi-media artist Laura Peters who describes the band’s sound as”dream grunge”. That’s such an apt description for Psychic Love’s latest single, “Ultralight”, that I’d be hard-pressed to surpass it. Peters’ versatile vocals oscillate from a Nico-level disinterest to tender and engaging over a garage pop musicality. “Ultralight” is the first single from the band’s debut album, due out in early September. Check it out and join me in the wait for the full release…
The beautiful single from “progressive folk” band BEARD fuses an array of influences from Jazz to Brazilian (and more) to create a unique and uniquely harmonious sound. The Boston-based act released this single in prelude to their album which comes out on September 1st. Jazzy and mellow, “We’ll Make It” changes shape and structure as you move from beginning to end, giving indie fans something a little different from the norm. Listen to BEARD’s new single here…
Singer/songwriter Christian Sparacio penned this somber song for a friend who recently lost his father. In “Dad” one finds both the anguish of loss and the steeled strength of survival. As someone who has experienced the untimely loss of a parent, I must admit this one got me a little teary. Listen to “Dad” below. I hope to hear more music from this emerging New Jersey artist.
Singer/songwriter Keith Cooper has Arizona roots but has since relocated to Somerville, MA. We won’t hold that against him. In fact, I can almost hear a touch of Tucson in “You Didn’t Know Me” with its weird-folk hue on the vocals. This single is the title track from Cooper’s 2016 release which came out last February. On it, you find an unembellished indie rock with some serious lyrical prowess. If you enjoy “You Didn’t Know Me”, I suggest digging further into the complete eponymous album (available here).
J GRGRY (pronounced Jay Gregory) is the brainchild of Seattle multi-instrumentalist Joe Gregory formerly of The Drama and Dolour. “eFlower” comes to us from his debut EP and deals with the artist’s struggle with addiction. Despite the somber topic, “eFlower” is an uplifting electropop number than will shake the doldrums from your weary heart. If the rest of the EP lives up to the single, J GRGRY has something special in store for fans. Listen to “eFlower” below or purchase your own copy here.
Maybe skip this one at the office, but definitely listen to “Go Fuck Yourself” by Two Feet the minute you get home. Two Feet combines bluesy guitars with electropop elements for a track that is more stripped down than ostentatious. The Harlem-based artist creates sultry bedroom beats and the result is a song that you’ll be adding to playlists for the rest of the year. Check out “Go Fuck Yourself” below or download the track here.
The singer/songwriter/producer known is Goldroom released this radio-ready number in anticipation of his forthcoming LP, West of the West, due out this coming September. “Lying to You” pairs candor with enlivening musicality. In addition to the new album, Goldroom is also gearing up for a national tour with Autograf which kicks off next month. You can check here for show dates. Or, head here to pre-order your copy of West of the West.
Classically-trained vocalist Emmy Giarrusso performs under the moniker GIIA. “Burning Game” combines GIIA’s early opera training with trap-inspired electronic beats. Fear not, “Burning Game” has a mellow vibe much different from the in-your-face club number that trap music seems to call to mind. Listen for yourself below and, if you dig what you’re hearing, check out GIIA’s newest single, “Fade to Grey”, also available through her Soundcloud page.
This 21-year-old artist from Gilbert, AZ was a little hesitant to share his music with the world, but decided to upload his single “Burn Mona Lisa” to Spotify with little fanfare or, as Palmer states, “without telling anybody that I am a ‘singer.'” Much to his surprise, the single became a viral hit. “Burn Mona Lisa” has a chill feel and a slick lyricism, falling somewhere between R&B and electro-pop. This is a young musician to pay attention to. Listen to “Burn Mona Lisa” here…
The Bay-born, L.A.-based electropop artist known as KLEZ dropped his debut EP last spring and “Here Right Now” is the title track from that debut. The single starts at a ponderous pace but quickly gives way to an angst-ridden energy. This is not bubblegum electropop. No, this is the stuff of substance. Listen to “Here Right Now” and, if you dig it, consider supporting the artist with that digi download of the EP here.
Oh boy, I was worried going into this one. I was not the editor responsible for selecting “R.A.D. Moves”, a song that is about (and I quote), “It’s dedicated to that person who is just drunk enough to be the life of the party. They’re having so much fun that you want to hang out with them more than anybody else.” But, even I have to admit after a couple of spins, Kady Rain’s “R.A.D. Moves” is infectious electropop that teenyboppers will probably shovel over hard earned babysitting dollars to get their hands on. Who am I kidding? I’ll probably jam out to this one in the car a few more times. Listen for yourself below.
In correlation with the impending election and the anniversary of the Marriage Equality Act, Scottsdale Museum of Contempoary Art (SMoCA) revisits the engaging and challenging work of Mel Roman: Coming Out Under Fire. This much anticipated exhibition utilizes a provocative combination of text, found objects and fervent symbolism in 12 installations, sculptures and photos centered on issues facing society that are still relevant today.
Mel Roman was an accomplished artist, Civil Rights activist, and psychologist with an impressive 50 year career and a valley resident until his death in 2002. “Roman’s artwork addressed the human psyche and social inequity, racial discrimination, gay rights, gender equity, the right to die, intentional communities, and paternal custody rights”, states the SMoCA website.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,Mel Roman’s original exhibition at the SMoCA in 2000 and previously at Bentley Gallery 1998, was incredibly controversial. The exhibition was based off of a book and documentary of the same name, which chronicled gay and lesbian service members during World War II. Through his art, Roman examines important issues of equality, freedom and privacy, aiming to create reactions and commentary in hopes of creating action. SMoCA has included extensive biographical information about Roman as well as photographs from Roman’s original exhibition giving viewer’s further context for this powerful exhibit.
Highlights of Coming Out Under Fire include the stirring, self-titled piece “Coming Out Under Fire”, featuring an American flag placed over a casket with a small monitor playing. It is truly heart wrenching, an engaging and difficult to piece to view. One of the gallery rooms is filled with mirrors with text of derogatory words and phrases including “fag” and “dyke” and “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and lastly “how can one be what one is”. Another excellent work titled “Nature/Nurture” employs powerful text “Desire” that is depicted in neon in front of a map of the human genome, commenting on how “Desire” is apart of everyone.
Coming Out Under Fire will be on display through Sunday, October 2nd. SMoCA museum admission is only $7 for adults, $5 for students, and children under 15 are free. Don’t forget that every Thursday the museum offers complementary admission as well as Friday and Saturday evenings after 5 PM. Located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale at 7374 East Second Street, visit their website for more information about exhibitions and events.
Kickstand Records is relatively new to the punk rock label game, but don’t let that fact fool you.
Within their short history they’ve amassed eight releases, including a 50+ track, name-your-price compilation featuring bands from the Valley and beyond.
It should be no surprise that we cruise Bandcamp a lot. At the beginning of the year I began to notice a few Kickstand releases on there and, by the middle of the year, I really felt like they had something going so I began paying closer attention.
They offer a smorgasbord of punk offerings: from the classic punk shenanigans and pop-punk hijinks of Dr Bob’s Nightmare and Loser Points, to the badass skate punk of Rundown Kreeps, to the SoCal sound and mid 80s-early 90s style of Good vs Evil and At The Courthouse. Kickstand Records seems to offer it all.
After a couple months I still had absolutely no idea who was involved with the operation of Kickstand so I decided to reach out to them via the Internet to find out more…
YabYum: Who am I speaking with? How many folks help operate Kickstand Records?
Kyle Cole: You’re speaking with Kyle Cole. I’m the soul owner and operator of Kickstand Records. There isn’t anyone else involved. Just me and the bands on the label. Small and simple.
So you’ve been in operation a little over a year? What made you decide to start a label?
When I started the label I didn’t even think it would make it one week but, yes, we made it a little over a year and are still going. But we’re still young. Baby steps. Haha
How many bands are actually on the Kickstand roster? It seems like it’s varied quite a bit over time. You’ve also signed bands from all over the country, have you personally known any of them or did you just hear their stuff and say, “I wanna release that”?
There are 5 bands on the roster at the moment: Good vs Evil, Rundown Kreeps, Loser Points, Dr Bobs Nightmare and we just added At The Courthouse. I knew a few of them personally and a few of them I just heard and started talking back and forth with and liked what they do. So it went from there.
With that said, do you accept submissions? If you do, how would bands pursue that?
Yes, I do take submissions all the time. I always try to listen to everyone that sends stuff. Bands can submit links to their music to firstname.lastname@example.org
You just released the mega, 59-track Compilation Vol. 1 a couple months ago after putting out an open roll call for bands to submit. That response just seems incredible! Did it surprise you or was that kind of what you were expecting?
No, I wasn’t expecting the response it got at all. So yeah, big surprise. To be honest there were over a 100 tracks submitted. But with the help of a few close friends we got it cut down to 59 awesome punk rock songs.
What is your take on the Arizona punk scene? Is there anything you’d want to see change?
To be honest the AZ Punk scene is one of the best scenes out there. A lot of love between the bands and people. Really wouldn’t change anything. It’s great.
Can you speak any more on your collaboration with Melodic Punk Style? Their Bandcamp says there from Poland… maybe releasing stuff overseas?
Melodic Punk Style is our good friend from Poland. A lot of really good things are to come with those guys for sure. Can’t say much right now but I can say overseas releases are in the works.
What else is upcoming for Kickstand Records? Not everything is top secret, is it??
Well, right now, we just added At The Courthouse out of Bakersfield, CA. So [I’m] working on getting their new LP out. Our Canadian boys, Loser Points, are working on a short, little EP due out soon as well as Dr Bob’s Nightmare and Good vs Evil. Rundown Kreeps are out on the road right now and will be back into the studio when the dust settles from tour life. And we’ll start working on Compilation Vol. 2 some time in between. So all good things in the works. Stay posted!
Check out and follow Kickstand Records on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and make sure to blast Compilation Vol. 1 below…
There is something a little sad that stirs inside me when I notice that Dogbreth’s Bandcamp page is now tagged “Seattle” instead of “Phoenix”, but I know that our dusty desert will always hold a special place in the hearts of the band even though they’ve moved onto their Second Home. One might be quick to assume that this album is about place – that search for the place one can call home – but as I moved through the tracks, I realized Second Home is about a different kind of home, a home for the heart. Dogbreth crafts a sound of summertime and skateboards and garage jam sessions. Vocal responsibilities are more divided on this album than on previous releases. I’m personally partial toward Tristan’s vocal offerings, but Erin has an unrefined energy well suited to the band’s overall sound. You’ll find some seriously romantic pinings tucked away in Second Home from the dulcet song, “Sleeping”, to the upbeat “Stunner”. I wish I could say these heartfelt leanings find an amicable end, but the album’s closing track, “Hoarder House”, suggests otherwise. The emotions are earnest and tinged with innocence, much like the band’s overall sound. Second Home is definitely an album I’ll continue to spend time with in the months to come. Check it out here…
All Things Blue out of Los Angeles provided that gem of an EP I stumbled across back in July. I was immediately taken with Duende, a musical melting pot of varied influences. “Braindead” opens the six-track EP, adding a hazy fog to their own brand of garage pop. “Sweet Release” follows and the listener can really begin to discern the R&B tinges that help shape the ATB sound. “Condition” gives the female vocalist a chance to show off her growl before “Sleep” submerges the listener in a psychedelic soup. “Strange” just might be my favorite track on the album, but I’ve always been partial to somber. The closing track, “What’s Mine”, didn’t really stand out for me which is a shame because the rest of the EP is fucking stellar. All Things Blue is definitely a band that has my attention. Listen to Duende here and consider making that purchase (here).
J.H. Friedrick out of Silverton, OR has a smart lyrical style that resonates throughout his recent LP, I AM OVENBIRD. Indie-folk is one of those genres that’s just inundated with artists right now and it’s difficult to stand out. Friedrick does just that – stand out – with a stripped down sound. The songs are compelling and the music has variance within the framework of his indie-folk sound. My one complaint is that “Guns”, the opening track (and albeit a solid one) is not one of the strongest on the album so I wish I AM OVENBIRD kicked off with a different number. This song is just a little too pop on an otherwise pensive collection. “I’m still going on & on…” has a funky, jam-band vibe and, for once, I don’t mean that in a bad way. “Lady-vain” (my favorite track) offers an earthen sound, something tough and a little worked over, before “Good Enough” turns up the energy and the angst. Things get befittingly bluesy for “Typical Blues” before “Oregon” mellows things out again. “Pumpkin Pie” is a breathtakingly beautiful end to the album. Make sure you spend sometime with I AM OVENBIRD.
It’s no secret that decker. is a bit of a sweetheart of the YabYum staff. It seems like oh-so-many years ago now that Brandon Decker took the award for Songwriter of the Year and since that time we’ve watched the band/the artist/the collective finely tune a transmogrifying sound.
Patsy came out last year to some rave reviews, but did decker. take time off to enjoy a season of accolades? No. The band committed to a grueling tour schedule and got to work on their next album – Snake River Blues is the result of that effort.
The new EP has a bigger sound than previous releases – the sort of sound that tears through a crowd and rattles every individual within earshot to the core. Earlier albums have more of a solitary feel.
In achieving a grander, barroom-ready sound, decker. did not sacrifice the intimacy that marks his songwriting. Therein lies the true potency of decker.: raw, brutally honest lyrics with authentic, emotive power.
Snake River Blues achieves the energy of mystical force. That combined with its lyrical quality marks Snake River Blues as a memorable release; one that will live on in your mind long after that initial listen and all the listens to follow. This is an album you take along on long drives, that you listen to in your bedroom on an at-home Saturday night, that you learn all the words to so you can sing along at the incredible live experience that is decker. Snake River Blues is dark, brooding, soulful, and magical.
I had a chance to ask Brandon a few questions about the new album, life on the road, and what’s next for decker.
YabYum: So, fill us in on your year following the release of Patsy. What were you up to while penning Snake River Blues?
Brandon Decker: Well, its all a big blur. We worked hard, to the brink really, on Patsy and touring it. I came home and was tired of the music we were performing. I ended up on this Muddy Waters kick, along with some Chuck Berry, Tom Petty and then this Thee Oh See’s record Carrion Crawler and wrote all the songs in a few weeks. It happened really quickly.
Let’s talk about some of the nitty gritty of Snake River Blues. Where did you record the EP? Which artists from the decker. menagerie appear on the recordings?
We did the record with Bob Hoag at Flying Blanket Recording. The performers are Amber Johnson on keys (etc.), Andrew Bates on bass, Nick Ramirez on drums and myself as the core. Bob does – surprise surprise – some percussion! Only other player was our buddy from The Haymarket Squares, Mark Allred, who plays the big slide solo on the “Snake River Blues” track.
There is a mystical current that runs through your music – something I think your newest music video really encapsulates. What’s at the spiritual center of Brandon Decker?
I’m interested in mysticism, magic, the spirit, as I think we all are fundamentally. I’m interested in growing in my spiritual awareness. I’m aware of my frailty and imperfection. I really try to focus on gratitude, compassion, and presence and seeing that everything is Creation.
It seems like your time is divided between a hectic road life spent playing shows around the country and a quiet home life hiking and camping and passing hours with your son. Does this division result in a sense of balance? Or do you feel split between two different modes of living: always thinking about the other when living one?
You know, not much about my life has been balanced. But I’m working towards that end always. I have a robust life and feel very blessed. There are definitely these two very different sides: the dad life and the music life.
With certainty, right now, I enjoy the dad/hiking/nature part vastly more. It makes sense. To whatever extent I’m involved in “music business,” I’m growing less and less interested. It’s a big crock of shit from what I can tell. It really is like the Hunter S. Thompson quote about music*. But yes, I’m obsessed with my work nearly every waking moment and, while I try not to let that run all over my time with my son, I’m just compelled to work. Then the moment he’s gone and I’m on the road or whatever all I think about is being with him. I am absolutely never bored. I can tell you that.
There is an air of desperation on Snake River Blues (as well as prior recordings), but in person you seem like a pretty zen dude. Do you fuel all your artistic and existential angst into your music or what?
Ha! Well, there is an air of desperation in my life. I’m happy to hear I seem zen! Music has definitely always been a place I work out some of the kinks of living. I mean, that is precisely what it is to me. I have no small amount of existential angst and music is one way I process it. That and whining. And hiking. And psychedelics.
You have an upcoming residency at Rockwood Music Hall in New York. I just so happened to be in New York one time when you were playing there and it was a spectacular show. What plans do you have for your month-long residency?
Well, we just wanna pack the house and kick some ass. We basically toured the country three times last year. And the ugly kind of touring. The no-money, sleeping-on-floors, is-the-van-gonna-break-down kind of touring. We don’t have rich dads or labels paying for our shit. When we got home, exhausted as I was, I felt hungry to make a bigger splash as quickly as possible. Instantly the notion of releasing a new album with a New York residency became the focus. Past that we just really want to survive it. The Snake River Blues endeavor has proved every bit as complex as touring and here we are again – exhausted!
I know you spend a lot of time on the road. I’m curious to learn if it’s all late nights, early mornings, and gas station food or if you get a chance to soak in some of the local culture in the various spots you stop in?
For the last few years we’ve really tried to. Doesn’t always happen. But I’m a nature boy. I love water. I try to get in rivers, creeks, hot springs or the ocean or go on a hike or play some frisbee in the park. We try to take things in. But again, it’s always a bit of survival mode.
And, as per usual, tell us what’s next for you. Album release, residency, and then?
Rest. I definitely plan on resting. I’ve been essentially non-stop since fall of 2009. I doubt I’ve taken 20 days off since then. I’m ready to ride the wave a bit and see where the inertia carries things.
The Snake River Blues Beer & Vinyl Release + Tour Kickoff show happens THIS WEEKEND (Saturday, Aug. 27th) at Valley Bar in downtown Phoenix. More information here.
* “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.” – Hunter S. Thompson