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by Mark Anderson
The Venomous Pinks are back with their SquidHat Records’ debut, We Do It Better, and they’re kicking more ass than ever before.
Their third proper EP after 2014’s PinkMeat 7″ Split w/ Swapmeat, We Do It Better ramps up the songwriting of their previous effort Exes & Whoas!, and kicks up the energy too.
The title track opens the record with a feisty attitude and a “You’re never bringing us down, man” chorus. One of my fav lines of the whole EP is at the very beginning of the song with Drea Doll screaming, “They tell you all your life/You gotta be a little wife – FUCK THAT!/I’m telling you now, I got that punk sound/ain’t nothing bring me down!”
“Nightmare” begins with Gaby Kaos’ bass guitar and Jukie’s floor tom rumble which leads into matching guitar chugging and a break into a wicked Corrie Zazzera intro guitar solo before becoming a classic punk rock song. The backups throughout this song are what make it happen for me and I can certainly hear the band’s Joan Jett influence as well.
If you didn’t know the title of the song, “Pizza Slice”, you might honestly think it was condemnation of damning proportions. However, once the secret is revealed, it becomes a pretty humorous hardcore song.
“Mantis” is probably the fastest song on the record and throws out a big “FUCK YOU” to all the people who would do each other wrong. I enjoy the quick, 5-second ska-breakdown in the middle, but I’m a sucker for that sound.
Album closer, “Radar”, just sounds like one of those classic “closing album” songs right off the bat. You know the ones, even if you’re hearing the album for the first time and don’t have the tracklist in front of you, you know it’s the end of the road. The line “It’s time to say goodbye” certainly helps lock that in that sense of drawing a conclusion.
Released to a packed house at the Yucca Tap Room on St. Patrick’s Day, check out We Do It Better by The Venomous Pinks below…
by Carly Schorman
PHX Americana favorites, Huckleberry, are gearing up for a brand new album. Yes folks, on April 7th, Huckleberry will be releasing their latest LP on limited edition vinyl. In prelude to this momentous occasion, the band shared a couple early tracks from the album with fans and friends, including this gem, “Working Backwards”. As soon as that slide kicks off the easygoing summer sound on this track, you’ll be hooked. At least, I was. Huckleberry put out “Working Backwards” in February and followed up with the March release of “Tether” which definitely puts the ALT in alt-country. Check out both singles, starting with “Working Backwards” below, and don’t forget to pre-order your vinyl copy of Natural Selector from Huckleberry here. And, you can catch the act live on April 8th at Valley Bar with Luau, Fairy Bones, and Saddles so make sure you mark your calendar (more here). Do it now. I’ll wait…
This Gospel/Americana act out of L.A. sounds straight from the Heartland. The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers go full-on church choir with their harmony-rich melodies and salt-of-the-earth sound on “Lay Down Low”. No surprise that this act has already played some “prestigious festivals such as Winnipeg Folk Fest, Montreal Jazz Fest, Austin City Limits, and Voodoo Fest of New Orleans.” Once you hear “Lay Down Low”, you’ll totally want to add The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers to your bucket list of bands you have to see perform live. The ERGS will be releasing their sophomore album this Spring so make sure you keep your ears open for that release. Until then, enjoy “Lay Down Low” below..
Inspired by the Water Protectors fight at Standing Rock, Pop Cautious Records will be releasing a compilation album to support Native American Rights this coming June. “Don’t Want to Be Yours Anymore” by Sam Valdez is the first single from that forthcoming effort. The Los Angeles-by-way-of-Las Vegas songbird delivers a Westerly stoicism with her lyrics and voice – both stunning and subdued. “Don’t Want to Be Yours Anymore” will leave you in a somber mood but you’ll still be reaching for that repeat button because it is also lovely. Give the new single from Sam Valdez a listen below. And, don’t forget to check out the comp from Pop Cautious when it drops in June! Mni Wiconi!
Forever Son’s indie folk sound reminds me of summertime as a kid: homemade jean shorts and Bomb Pops and my mom listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young while she tans in the backyard. “Crumb Kitchen” provides a gentle reminder of an earlier era of folk-rock when hair was long and distortion still something to avoid. Forever Son is the musical undertaking of Melbourne-based musician, Jack Robbins. I don’t know what I like more: the early morning atmosphere of “Crumb Kitchen” or Robbins’ bourbon-smooth voice. Thankfully, I don’t have to choose and neither do you. Both can be heard on the single below…
Ugh, how long has this band been in Flagstaff? Why haven’t I been told? Come on, Arizona, we’re all supposed to work together to keep each other informed and I feel I’ve been left out cold on this whole Tow’rs thing. This indie-folk act shapes out a breathtaking number of subtle grace and beauty on “Liminal”. I even did a search on our site to make sure they hadn’t slipped by me quietly one July morning, but no, this is the first track I’ve heard from them. And I’m completely enamored. Tow’rs is currently out on tour and I’m hoping they’ll add some PHX shows to their schedule once back on hometurf. Until then, enjoy “Liminal” by Tow’rs below…
On “Big Crane” we find a Brit-folk take on the Americana sound. A Different Thread combines the musical talents of singer-songwriter Robert Jackson and calssically-trained cellist Isaac Collier. And, if there sound doesn’t sell you on their Americana spirit, the pair met while busking and were playing together just a short couple of months gaining the attention of BBC Bristol. Maybe that has something to do with the honeyed vocals and astute instrumentation of A Different Thread which comes through on “Big Crane”. Check out the single for yourself below…
Australia has an Americana/Alt-Country music community?? Well, they do and I know that because Hana & Jessie-Lee come to us from the land Down Under with their dusty and soulful country sound on “Maryses”. Hana & Jessie-Lee draw inspiration from artists like Hank Williams, Bonnie Raitt, and The Staple Singers so expect to hear some American steel strengthening the core of this musical pairing. They’re joined by their band, the Bad Habits, on this track so the sound is fully fleshed out with double bass, fiddle, drums, and keys. Give “Maryses” a listen below…
by Joe Golfen
The Gone EP by Luau is a nighttime record.
The shimmering guitars float by like streetlamps out a car window, the insistent bass and drums conjuring up the speed and dread that can take hold in a dark city, and lead singer Evan Hallock’s pained vocals sound like a man driving with nowhere to go.
On their debut offering, Luau does a great job of weaving their influences together so that it becomes their own singular sound, taking notes from indie rock of bands like The Weakerthans as well as classic Sunny Day Real Estate-era emo. Production from Matt Keller of Lydia makes the most of that sound, filling the drums and bass with the right amount of attack, while the guitars sound both shiny and urgent.
Opener “Keep Talking” announces the record with a low organ and softly interplaying guitars, then the drums and bass come crashing in, and somehow everything floats back up as the vocals arrive. A great exercise in dynamics and tension, and one of the band’s finest songs.
Hallock’s reedy tenor is a key component of the band’s sound. Though he’s been compared to Doug Martsch from Built to Spill, he has a lot more of an edge to his voice. Just listen to the way he spits out the first line of the excellent “Darling,” in which bassist Jon Collins lays down a heavy post-rock groove that keeps building until you think it can’t go any bigger. Which of course it does.
“Diffuser” starts with one of the coolest moments on the record, as Eric Thompson’s insistent guitar tornado suddenly cuts out, echoing away until it’s only drums, leaving room for the guitars to come firing back in. The song is also one for the hardest, most infectious grooves of the record, and a great way to show off drummer Joel Knight.
That track slowly fades into “Spin Your Web,” the quietest, slowest song, though there is still a sense of forward momentum happening here. Hallock gives a great vocal performance, nailing the melancholy of lines like “All of my ghosts/I loved you the most.”
First single “Anchor” is the perfect synthesis of everything the band does right: intricate, angular guitar attacks, a growling bassline, that avalanche of drums. Plus, it comes loaded with a shimmering, majestic chorus that is deceptively catchy. You’ll be surprised how much you end up singing it to yourself after one listen.
Built on a rumble of drums and chiming guitars, “Soak It In” finishes the EP off with one of the darkest sounding songs on the record. Gone is a great first offering from this band on the rise, be sure to hear them play it live at their EP Release Show with Fairy Bones, Saddles, and Huckleberry at Crescent Ballroom on April 8th
Joe Golfen has been writing about music since 2007, appearing in the Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times and Tone Audio Magazine. He also plays guitar and sings for desert psych band The Lonesome Wilderness, and plays the organ in power-poppers The Breakup Society.
Ryan Avery of Related Records is a staple of the Phoenix music scene and we are super excited that he has returned to the city after a short bout abroad (in Los Angeles). In addition to heading up the Related Records cast of oddballs, Avery is a musician and performer in his own right with acts like Fathers Day and Drunk & Horny when he isn’t busy throwing shows, promoting bands on his label, or documenting life in pictures for Disposable Babies.
“I Don’t Have A Dick”
Captain Ahab Is one of my favorite bands to come out of the post-9/11 art punk scene of the early 2000’s and features my friend Jonathan Snipes who later went on to form the Hip-Hop group “clipping”.
“Finest French Soap”
James Kochalka is one of my most influential artists of all time. I feel really lucky to have discovered his music at such a young age and have it shape me and my own song writing abilities. This is from his last full length album which is called “Beautiful Man” and was released on Related Records.
“Sugar And Me”
Tempe has always had a very tight-knit, fluid and “cool” music scene. Always changing depending on what’s the most current hip trend for college aged kids. I have never really been a “part” of this scene but have always appreciated and observed it for as long as I’ve been going to shows (almost 20 years now jeez!) and my favorite time musically was between 2005-2009 which is when all these brilliant experimental/folk/minimal-noise acts started forming (French Quarter, Foot Ox, Tent City, My Feral Kin, Businessman’s Lunch…etc.) But the artist who I feel made the biggest impact on me and definitely went the most underappreciated of them all was Splinter Cake. This song is one of his more straight forward/user friendly songs but if you dig into his catalog (if you are lucky enough to find it now that is) you’ll find such a prolific and brilliant scope of music and all of it is inspiring
“Artex Died In Truth Or Consequences, NM”
For about 8-12 years Drew Danburry was one of the busiest and hardest working artists in the underground music scene. He is another artist who has a huge catalog of brilliant music but it’s mostly centered on pop. I put out a 3-cassette album for a new project of his last year called “The Funny Uncles” but this is my favorite song of his and I feel like everyone can enjoy it.
“Come True (How They All Do)”
I booked a show for this band back in 2009. They played the Trunk Space with a couple of other punk bands, everyone played an okay set and barely anyone came. They were selling CD-R’s and had a few DIY packaged LP’s that they sold for cheap. It’s scenario I’ve seen and experienced SO MANY TIMES but there album “I Use To Believe In The West” is honestly one of the most played records I own. It’s just so good.
This is actually an old Uggamugga song that iji covered for a tribute compilation to Tristan Jemsek that came out in 2011. I love iji and wanted to include them on this list but also love (pretty much) everything Tristan Jemsek does and wanted to include a song from both of them that is more obscure and so this is my own sneaky way of doing that.
This group I actually don’t know that much about. My friend B.C. Sterrett burned me a CD-R of this album of theirs because he was excited about it and he supplied some of the samples they use from his massive (and bizarre) record collection. But I love it and whenever someone asks me for a suggestion on something new to listen to I always suggest this group.
It was really hard to narrow it down to one Q+P song. But I think this is the best example of their music and one of my favorite songs.
“The Shit Punx Hate Part 2”
Realicide is another brilliant and underappreciated post-9/11 art punk band from the early-mid 2000’s. Their music is very brutal, very raw and often terrifying. This is one of my favorite songs they have written about scene politics because I can definitely relate to feeling like a misfit in a room full of misfits.
Similar story to Songs for Moms I booked these guys in 2013 with some other punk bands, everyone was alright, barely anyone came, and they just had a couple cassette tapes for sale for cheap. This is from their album “Depression” which is easily the most played cassette tape I own. It’s just so fucking real and fun and simple, and this song in particular is catchy as hell.
And as always, here’s Ryan performing with his band Fathers Day!
There seems to be a holy trinity of musicians that sits at the center of Austin’s Hollow Coats but additional players help flesh out the sound on the band’s new single, “Fold”. And the sound here is fleshy: opulently layered and packing a hefty punch on the production. But, what really sold me on “Fold” were the atmospheric vocals and the haunting beauty of the lyrics they delivered. This is the debut single from Hollow Coats so let’s hope more releases are in the works – and soon! Give “Fold” a spin below…
This indie/alt act from Phoenix is making some waves in our dry desert. Yes, The Ricky Fitts only launched their sound only last year and they’ve already scored some pretty notable gigs since their inception. That might have something to do with their slick, radio-ready sound. “Nightmare” comes to us from the band’s debut LP, The Great Beyond, which dropped at the end of January. Infusing electropop and alt-rock elements with a hefty splash of revivalist New Wave, The Ricky Fitts craft out a fun sound on “Nightmare” that has enough of a dark overtone for all you brooders that still want to dance. Take the single for a spin below or head here to check out The Great Beyond.
“Stay with Me” is the opening track from Soft Animal’s concisely titled EP1 which they released last month. This single has a lofi psych-rock sound with a little bit of garage grit that will come in more as you continue through the full EP. The sound descends into moments of intentional disarray before meandering back to a more structured, but never too structured, sound. Check out “Stay with Me” from Soft Animal below or head here for that digi-download of EP1.
I really loved the grrrls of the 90s alt-rock scene and Brixton’s Bryde just might fill that hole in my life. On “Less”, Bryde moves between breathy angst to full on fury over grungy guitars. All you PJ Harvey fans should definitely spend some time with Bryde. If you want to delve further into what this artist has to offer, I suggest moving on to “Back to Believing” – a new, and gentler, single that is really quite enamoring. Get your growl on with Bryde below…
If you like your post-rock with an extra heap of melodious sorrow, Bucolic is for you. “Cold Clean” sets a somber scene that reminds me of a street lined in freshly fallen snow on a morning you have to be at work before 5 AM. Sure, it’s beautiful, but one’s inability to pause and really take in that moment lends an existential anguish to the biting cold. “Cold Clean” is beautiful, but it kicks you when you’re down… and I, uh, mean that in the best way possible. Bucolic is the brainchild of NJ artist Seth Carpenter and this single is part of an impending release that is due out in April so get on that Bucolic bandwagon sooner rather than later. Start with “Cold Clean” below…
The band known as St. Tropez is not actually from St. Tropez but Amsterdam. Their lively new single, “Democracy”, clocks in at under two minutes but there’s a lot of energy crammed into that time. The texturing gets heavy, but not in a full-on post-rock way. No, the vibe on “Democracy” stays more NYC scene rock than secret warehouse show. This single opens Debate, band’s 2017 EP, which (btw) does go full-on post-rock at moments. St. Tropez has enough of an experimental edge to keep things really interesting without ever totally abandoning form entirely. And, there’s a bit of a political slant that those of us in present-day Amerika can really appreciate. Give “Democracy” by St. Tropez a listen below…
The alt-rockers from the ATL known as MYFEVER are gearing up for a new recording effort with the release of their latest single, “Golden”. Though the trio calls Georgia home, you might get a bit of a L.A. or Long Beach vibe from “Golden”. And, when I say Long Beach, I’m talking in the alt-indie vein of Cold War Kids… not Sublime. MYFEVER will hopefully be hitting the studio soon to lay down Born for Spaces, their next album. Until then, spend some time with “Golden”.