Another year has gone by and it seems like we heard more music this year than ever before. So, perhaps it goes without saying, 2016 was one of the most difficult years when it came time to buckle down and pick favorites. Nevertheless, after uncounted hours spent spinning albums for one another (and arguing), we feel like we’ve come up with some of the best of the best for 2016. We’re devoting the next two weeks to acknowledging some of our favorite Arizona music from this past year.
And, don’t forget, on January 14th we’ll be closing out our annual awards with a celebration at The Trunk Space. Joining us that evening will be Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, Fairy Bones, decker., Nanami Ozone, and Phantom Party with HotRock SupaJoint hosting the festivities.
Hope to see you there. We’re excited to hear what 2017 has in store!
For many of us, 2016 was filled with an incredible sense of loss. From musicians to silver screen icons, it seems as if our daily news feed revealed another hero snatched away from the world we know every week. But, for Phoenix, the death of Jules Demetrius stands out as the most personal and heart-wrenching loss faced this year.
Throughout his long battle with cancer, Jules continued to pursue his true calling: ART. Jules’ legacy will long live on in everyone he inspired through his unwavering commitment to his craft.
To celebrate his life and work, friends and fans will be gathering at the Crescent Ballroom on January 5th for a fundraiser. Much like his life, the event will be a celebration of music and art and community.
I had a chance to ask one of the event organizers, Mike Pfister, a few questions about Jules and the upcoming event to be held in his honor…
YabYum: For our readers unfamiliar with Jules and his work, would you mind telling us a little about Jules Demetrius and how you came to know him?
Mike Pfister: Jules Demetrius is a cat that’s truly unforgettable. I came to know Jules when I happened upon his artwork at Songbird Coffee and Teahouse about three years back. They had a variety of his paintings up, but there was one of the Beastie Boys that just instantly resonated with me.
Most of Jules’ work was first designed on his computer, then he hand cut the stencils, and used spray paint on canvas. It’s really hard to explain his overall aesthetic, but if I had to, I’d say it has a visual dynamism, and sense of play that jumps out at you.
At the time I was fairly connected to the downtown Phoenix music scene, but I didn’t know that many artists. So, beside the painting was his name and number. I really loved his aesthetic, so I figured I’d give him a call and see if he could do a commissioned piece of Tony Williams (famous jazz drummer) for me.
Long story short, I called Jules and he ended up inviting me over to his place. At that point he was battling cancer, but was still strong and energetic. We ended up having a three hour conversation about everything: art, his methods, his kids, music. It was like we were friends for years, he had that way about him. I left the house, and when I got home, I remembered what Jules said about knowing he was going to die and that he was worried about his daughters being taken care of after he passed. So I decided it might be cool to do a fundraiser for him. I got back to Jules and told him what I wanted to do and he was incredibly gracious.
I reached out to a variety of bands, poets, and another artist I knew, Adam Dumper. Adam explained he had previously organized a benefit for Jules and would be happy to donate and be part of mine. Alas, due to logistics and schedules, it ended up being delayed. I finally got things going in late November 2016 and, within the week, I found out Jules was in a coma. Then, sadly, he passed.
It was at that point I was determined to fulfill the promise I made to Jules and do something big. Jules was a cat that had a big heart, was incredibly funny, and a singular artist. He connected with so many people in Phoenix and was relatively active in the music scene as well.
So, you’re are planning a benefit for Jules on Jan. 5th. Can you share a little about what folks can expect at that event? Who will be performing? Will there be artwork on display? Live painters?
I’ve planned a benefit and tribute to Jules on January 5th at Crescent Ballroom. After Jules passed the first two people I reached out to were Leah Marche (Black Poet Ventures/Radio Phoenix) and David Moroney (Crescent Ballroom and Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra). Leah and I had worked together on a Prince Tribute at Crescent- incidentally Jules donated one of his last Prince prints to the event for a raffle to raise money for a local music program- and David was immediately open to the idea.
We plan on having some major Phoenix bands: The Stakes, Dr. Delicious, Discombobulator, and a few other surprises that I can’t confirm yet. We’re also planning on having live painting. Abe Zucca is donating a piece he did of Jules. Matt Brown and Andrea Bunnell have also reached out to us. There will also be DJ Sets (DJ FACT135, DJ PNYCE) and a silent auction. We want to raise some money for Jules daughters and we’re also working to find a local arts organization that works with kids that some of the proceeds will go to.
Most importantly we want it to be a night for the Phoenix community to come together, celebrate Jules’ life, his art, and heal.
Who is helping organize the event?
As I mentioned, David Moroney from PAO and the booking agent for Stateside Presents was immediately on board, and has been active in working to coordinate the event at Crescent Ballroom. Leah Marche is also helping with securing hosts, artwork, and logistics. Leah and I have worked on a number of large scale projects together and she always helps to keep the things on track.
To be honest I couldn’t have done this event without her partnership. We really want to make this a night where Jules friends, family, the artistic community, and those that want to learn more about Jules can come together and celebrate his life while doing something positive for his daughters and the community.
These hometown boys are back with a new EP, Orme Dugas, and they released this single a while back in prelude to the full release. “Keep Me Going” presents the Western folk rock that first put Jared & The Mill on the national radar with enough energy to get a club or bar moving. “Keep Me Moving” is more than a promising start for Orme Dugas. Check out the single below or head for the full EP here.
This folk-rock single from the Michigan Rattlers will have you tapping your feet and ordering a round of domestic beers. This duo out of Petoskey (MI, of course), now based in L.A., has a rustic sound that will tug at your heartstrings with their lyrics and slide guitar. “Last Week” comes to us from the band’s s/t debut release which came out last month. Sink into the single below and then delve the complete release here.
Mike Fullarton, the Scottish singer-songwriter who performs as The Breathing Room, released this gem of an indie-folk track a few months back. “Man on Fire” provides listeners a lithe energy and homey comfort wrapped up in a charming melody. Listen to “Man on Fire” from The Breathing Room below and, if you dig what you’re hearing, consider moving on to the other tracks Fullarton shared through his Soundcloud page here.
Kyle Mont Cunningham has a roughed-up, road worn feel to his music. Pair that with such depressing lyrics as, “I don’t need you to love me because I hate myself,” and you have the makings for the perfect evening spent binge-drinking. Cunningham will break your heart and resign you to the fact that such feelings might never go away. If you are bedridden with anxiety by the end of “Ibuprofen”, consider delving into Kyle Mont Cunningham’s full release, Nostalgia Blues EP, here.
Virgina-raised, Denver-based musician Matt Rouch released this sweet-tempered track a few months back. “Adelaide” has a gentle country hue brought out by the stellar stringwork and Rouch’s smooth, single malt whiskey voice. If you enjoy this single, I suggest checking out Rouch’s LP, The Beautiful and The Damned, which came out earlier this year. But, first, check out “Adelaide” below…
Dallas-based musician Kyle Sturrock has a touch of down-home twange and a warm, alt-country sound; both of which can be heard on his new single. “A Little Less of You” comes to us from Sturrock’s recent EP and captures that moment when you ready to be done with a relationship. You’ve decided it’s over and you’re good with that. Now, if you could only stop running into that person… Despite the loss implied by the lyrics, the overarching sound has a coffeehouse indie-pop lightheartedness. Give “A Little Less of You” by Kyle Sturrock a listen below…
This slow moving number from Levi Robin speaks straight to the core of your being, unearthing long-hidden emotions. “Days of Our Youth” adds a homespun texture to the indie folk sound that supports Robin’s distinctively versatile voice. This also marks Levi Robin’s debut music video so make sure you hit play below. And then, head here to secure your own copy.
CooBee Coo is back with their new EP Strikes Again and I swear these guys just keep getting better and better.
The way I feel about CooBee Coo is essentially how I feel about the sketch comedy show Key & Peele: it’s one long, absolutely outstanding demo reel. In this case, the duo of K.C. Barras and Jesse Morrison produce incredible jams of the highest caliber – not only achieving the goal of writing a damn good song, but engineering it to sound pro.
And that’s because their Studio at the Farm in Gilbert, AZ is pro. Not only have they worked with some stellar Valley bands, recording and engineering audio and video, they also produce all their own music at the Farm, including their latest, Strikes Again.
“In the Zone” kicks the album, and the funk, off hard: “Don’t do me wrong when I’m coming strong/’cause you gotta know that I’m in the Zone alright.” The harmony-fueled backup vocals add just that extra touch of splendor throughout the entire track.
Approaching the realms of straight EDM, “Make a Vibration” starts with the just bass and synth, but when the acoustic guitar drops its precise strumming for the second verse the song becomes truly powerful. “We’ve been stomping our feet, yeah/we won’t ever say ‘Yes’ to a ‘No’/Breathe in, taste the free air/and don’t you ever let it go.”
“Never Settle” reverts back to the funk heard earlier. Although the entire song is spectacular, its ultra-smooth bridge with the words, “Don’t you believe them/When they say you want something you can’t reach/There’s a pot of gold/Waiting for you if you just believe” is my favorite musical moment of the EP, especially when the final chorus explodes. It’s as much personal mantra as it is advice for others.
Listening to their music, it feels like CooBee Coo should be huge. Like, sold-out-stadium-tours huge. Apparently, CooBee Coo might just feel the same way, “People all around gonna’ say my name/People all around gonna’ know my game/ Don’t you know I’m gonna make it rain?/People all around gonna’ know my name” they sing in “Say My Name”.
With its synth-infused, electro-pop, funk-hop, the boys of CooBee Coo might just be right. Make sure you give Strikes Again a listen below and head out to the Rebel Lounge on Dec. 29th. The band doesn’t play out often enough so every opportunity to catch them live is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed!
The Blurst is the undertaking of Sydney-based multi-instrumentalist Liam O’Shea. His latest single, “Dogdog”, comes to us from The Blurst’s November, 3-track release of the same title. O’Shea fuses lithesome vocals reminiscent of Elliott Smith with a gritty, back alley, noise pop. Check out “Dogdog” by The Blurst below and then head over to Bandcamp for your free digi-download of the three-track release from whence it came.
The Psychedelephants add a grungy, psychedelic edge to their own brand of indie rock. “Lunar Treatment” brings together trippy organs, richly textured vocals, and crisp guitar work for a powerful number. Hopefully, this new single means The Psychedelephants might be hashing out a new album. Hopefully? Maybe? It’s been a more than a minute since the band released their 2014 (and much loved by YabYum staffers) LP, Asymmetrical Geometry. Give “Lunar Treatment” a listen below…
Smoky vocals meet magical storytelling on “Golden Mountain”, the new single from Emily Afton. The soundscape shifts suddenly from gently meandering to forceful and driving. It’s the completely fluid juxtaposition of gritty garage energy and the jazz-tinged indie that really sold me on this single. “Golden Mountain” is as compelling in its aural variance as it is lyrically. This single comes to us from Afton’s 2016 LP, Archetype. Listen to “Golden Mountain” by Emily Afton below and then head here for the complete LP.
If you’re a regular reader here, there’s a chance you’re already familiar with the musical stylings of Mateo Katsu. As part of his Fourteen Weeks project (and album), Katsu recorded a song a week for (you guessed it) 14 weeks. “Diplomatic Boner” is another stellar single from that undertaking. The indie rock Katsu creates has a relaxed summertime vibe – like friends jamming in a garage – but the lyrics are often pensive. “Diplomatic Boner” is no exception. The lyrics on the track suggest wry amusement as the world stumbles into chaos. Even as the texture shifts, the tone remains strident: amused, if slightly despondent. Listen for yourself below or head here for the complete album.
This new single from Monte Del Monte kicks off with a mellow lounge sound, but it quickly gains energy until you find yourself dancing at a seaside bar in the middle of the Pacific with one of those little umbrella’d drinks in your hand. Okay, maybe this magical transportation is more metaphysical than, you know, physical-physical. Whatever the case, Monte Del Monte lifts spirits and sways hips with “LA Mental” so make sure you give it a spin below…
Bridesmen is the new project from Kenton Chen, a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles. Combining indie, electropop, and soul for a chill sound that will have you reaching for the repeat button, “You and Me” delves the complicated web of communication that exists within relationships. Produced by Eric Cannata (of Young the Giant), “You and Me” by Bridesmen really stood out amongst the insane number of indie/electro tracks that flood in everyday for its supple vocals and precise production. Give the single a spin below or head here for that digital download.
This indie-pop single from Portland producer/songwriter/musician Rob Daiker has the romantic charm of candlelight and scented bubble bath. I have to say, there’s just something about a piano-driven love song that really hits home this time of year. “All for a Kiss” is just that: sweet, if more than a little sentimental, but executed with serious musicianship. The single comes to us from Daiker’s 2016 LP, Binary Affairs, which can be procured for your personal collection here. First, give “All for a Kiss” a listen below…
These days, we’re receiving submissions from all around the world and we thought it would be fun to share some of the stellar singles sent to us from afar. Sometimes, the music carries a hint of its geographical origin, but often it doesn’t and these days we can’t discern whether a punk band is from Detroit or the Ukraine just by listening to the single…
Roberto Fonseca is a pianist from La Habanna that creates fiery Cuban Jazz that will have you shimmying from the start to the finish of his new single. Maybe that’s why Fonseca landed on Billboard’s Critics Picks list for crafting one of the 10 Best Latin Albums of 2016. Check out the music video for “Afro Mambo” and you’ll be sold. Oh, and btw, this single comes to us from Roberto Fonseca’s 2016 release, ABUC, which is available here.
The Curious Incident combines the talents of “Kairo (from South Africa) and Diaz (from Indonesia) who found their way to England via The Netherlands.” England, much like the U.S., counts residents from all around the globe. This band fuses styles of eclectic origin into one fluid sound that’s as contemplative as it is dance-able. Give “Behaviour Saviour” a listen below or head here for your own digi-download of the track.
Tano & Kalpee and their island-infused sound come to us from Trinidad and Tobago. “No One” could just as easily emerged from an L.A. studio with its slick, stripped-down electropop and superb vocals. Listeners can glean hues of R&B and indie pop in this single. Take “No One” for a spin here…
Well, this band from Norway certainly doesn’t have high hopes for us and, in the wake of our 2016 election, we get that. We’re afraid too. This single was sent along with the simple explanation, “This is a song about Trump getting elected for president and that nothing will ever be the same again.” We get that too. Thankfully, the band’s mellow electro-indie vibe calms the soul a little, even if it doesn’t assuage the fears. Check out the video for “Goodbye America” from H3lgeland below…
This experimental noise project comes to us from two musicians out of Tel Aviv; Dan Mayo and Tamuz Dekel. “Control?” immediately establishes a steady and dominating rhythm around which the sound waxes and wanes. There is a gritty, edgy quality to the sound of dema that toys with dissonance without entirely abandoning the constraints of structure. For that you’ll have to delve further into love, the EP from dema where “Control?” can also be found. Listen to “Control?” below or head here for the complete release.
Austria’s Gudrun Von Laxenburg goes for a hyper-realistic vision of a dystopian future in his music video for the single, “Revolution”. The visual accompaniment is totally befitting for Laxenburg’s style of EDM: futuristic, driving, and a little anxious. Delve into the cinematic experience of “Revolution” below then head here to add the single to your personal EDM collection.
The collective of jazz and reggae musicians known as Dojo includes artists from London, Paris, Nigeria, and Lebanon that achieve a universal sound. The smooth and funky music of “Bethel” delivers a peaceful message from the band’s non-religious spirituality and harmony between all living things. Check out the music video for “Bethel”, directed by Tom Vernau, below or head here to score your own copy of the single.
Phoenix might be Luna Aura’s hometown, but this pop potentate spends a lot of time in the Los Angeles area these days. Luna Aura’s latest single addresses that “infamous LA/Hollywood lifestyle,” pairing her introspection with an uplifting energy. If you dig, “The Next One” I also suggest checking out the super fun video Luna Aura made for the track (available here), but the single is available for your listening pleasure below…
The artist who has created music under the moniker Kill Paris for more than a decade faced unexpected outrage for that name in the wake of the Paris attacks, but fans and new listeners alike should readily recognize that the zen, richly textured tracks of this producer do not encourage violence. Quite the contrary. “Junkie”, which delves into the chemistry of love, features the talents of Nevve (who co-wrote this song) and Monster. Love certainly has its ups and down that can leave those subject to its whims feeling like an addict. “Junkie” addresses these emotional constraints as the chill beat and ethereal vocals alleviates the weight of rumination. Give “Junkie” by Kill Paris a listen below (or download it here) and then delve further into the artist’s extensive catalog.
This track from Papa Ya is bound to be a new weekend classic. “Sunny” will have you looking for a bottle of champagne to pop before the first hook. The duo known as Papa Ya is relatively new on the circuit, but they’ve already hashed out some viral hits. I expect “Sunny” will enjoy quite a similar reception. The summertime vibe and fresh production style will hook listeners from the get-go. Consider that fair warning. Listen below and then download “Sunny” by Papa Ya for your personal playlist (available here).
If I’m being totally honest, when I saw the name Mushroom People I expected some clunky, psyched-out electronica; basically, the rave equivalent of a jam band. What I found instead was a chilled out electropop track highlighted by the smokey vocals of Bahamian artist Sophie. Two brothers from Germany make up the musical duo that is Mushroom People and both performed in rock bands before embarking into electronic realms. Maybe that’s why Mushroom People demonstrates such a strong understanding of song construction. Far too many artists look to electronic instrumentation as a means of creating music without having to study traditional modes. Not these guys. Listen to “Favorite Sweater” from Mushroom People below…
A lot of tracks that have crossed my path of late have a retro-style synth sound that harkens back to the early days of my youth (i.e. 1980s). Now, the important thing to remember when adding some retro-chic flair to your project is to adapt that sound for a contemporary audience. Don’t just rehash New Wave or some equally played out sound that has already come and gone. Scavenge the remains and make it your own. That’s exactly what PLAYDATE does on “My Mistake”. Coming from the indie side of the electropop spectrum, PLAYDATE has a style that transcends both time and genre to create something funky and a little familiar but totally fresh. Listen to “My Mistake” below or head here to score your own copy.
There’s some serious shit talking on “Napoleon Syndrome” by coyóte, a band out of the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. Of course, it’s some high-energy dissing set to a dance beat so I’m all about it. Usually, I ascribe to a no-drama policy unless that drama could possibly end in a dance off. “Napoleon Syndrome” combines super catchy hooks and electropop vitality with club rock guitars and a solid rhythm to ground it out. Make sure you give this new single from coyóte a listen below…
The pop wunderkind known as Mia Koo is “Classically Trained in Violin, Voice, Guitar, Piano, Drums, Guitar, Bass, Terrible Ukelele and a fiend for Clean Audio/Pro-Tools since a very young age.” After working as a songwriter-for-hire, Mia Koo is ready to launch into orbit under her own banner. “See You Online” is available online here or you can check out the single in video form below…
If you’re a new band starting out, the prospect of landing that first gig can be a little intimidating. Even if you’ve been making the local rounds and are ready to start looking toward furthering your fanbase, a little booking rundown can help you find shows in new area codes. We asked Andy Warpigs – musician, performer, booking guru, and man about town – to help us understand a few of the show-booking basics.
YabYum: So… how did you first getting into booking shows? Was is something you had to learn to do as a musician? You book shows not only as a musician but also as a show promoter. Is that correct?
Andy Warpigs: I first started booking shows when I was 19. I would find bands on ReverbNation and Myspace and websites like that. I used to book shows at different DIY spots downtown and then I got more involved in The Trunk Space and learned to book more through them.
Booking is definitely something essential to being a musician. I feel like learning things from the venue’s perspective and running shows and doing sound are all skills that you are going to learn eventually if you are a serious musician.
I have booked shows for my own band, and have also booked for my friends bands and community type events. I have also worked with different bars to set stuff up for traveling musicians or residency for local bands.
As a musician, are there some basic steps you should follow in trying to book a show?
I think the first stop in learning booking from a musician’s perspective is to make sure you have open channels of communication with the venue. You have to tap into their built-in crowd and their promotional resources. It is also really important to build a show that is cool from the audience’s perspective and has a variety of acts ’cause that will keep them on their toes.
It’s really important to make sure all of the bands involved are on point and doing everything they can to promote the show as well to their fans and friends. It can be really helpful to book shows through a collective with different like-minded friends, so all the responsibility doesn’t fall on your shoulders.
As a promoter, are there things you look for when you’re approached by a band interested in booking? Social media outreach? EPK? Is there anything you feel is essential when considering a band for an event?
I’m just learning about electronic press kits. Personally, I book new bands because I like their attitude, sound, style, or sense of humor or theatrics. Web presence is important, but it’s about how good they are at engaging their audience, not necessarily how many [followers] they have numbers wise…
So, let’s say a band is just getting started. What advice would you offer to help them get out there and performing?
New bands should play as much as they can. Practice playing out is just as important as rehearsing the songs or practicing your instruments. You hone your craft that way and learn how to work a crowd. The idea of playing for exposure is kind of inflated but you never know who might see you. What’s the worst that could happen? Lol.
Let’s say your a new act looking to book a gig. What’s the best way to go about it? Talk to other bands playing that venue? Ask a bartender? Email the venue directly? Is there a method to this madness?
Emailing a venue and asking who their contact person for booking is always a polite and acceptable way to get a foot in the door at a new spot. Sometimes you can even get things going at a place that doesn’t even do shows by approaching them with the idea.
Check out the Andy Warpigs Facebook page for all his upcoming shows including opening for Bigger Than Mountains on Dec. 29 at the Trunk Space, at Yucca Tap Room Jan. 5, and at 51WEST Jan. 15!