French-American singer-songwriter Francesca Blanchard now calls Vermont home, but her rich and earthy voice is being carried well beyond the maple region. Her latest single, “Free”, was featured on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy which has created quite a bit of buzz for this up-and-coming artist.
Danish musician Jesper Mogensen began Death Machine as a solo endeavor after apparently having a real shit week, but the project has since expanded. “Under the Pillow” marks the third single from Death Machine’s latest album, Cocoon. There’s a real desert noir quality to the track which is probably why we’re digging on it so much this week.
Don’t expect citified music-making from the San Francisco band known as The Brother Comatose. They shoot for a bluegrass sound that could pass anywhere along the Mississippi and they don’t miss, but they do so without forsaking that easygoing West Coast attitude.
This indie-folk singer-songwriter from North Yorkshire is gearing up for the February release of his sophomore effort with his new single, “Streets Paved with Gold”. Pensive lyricism and expressive vocals make for a moving number. And the string quartet is a nice touch too.
Irrevery describes their act as an “existential art country band.” Count me in. Despite their NYC address, this band channels the spirit of a desert rat for this new single. And… it looks like they might have consumed some peyote in the desert while conceptualizing this music video.
Calming River, an alt-folk act from England, brings us this captivating, and slow-moving, single. The vocals don’t enter in until we’re near the five-minute-mark, but you might not notice the absence. There is tension that exists between the peaceful guitar-led melody and the texturing that fills in the emotional landscape.
Jeremy Jones, who performs under the moniker J.W.J., started his musical career back in his Indiana hometown playing viola and violin at church and school. But as he grew older, Jones expanded his musical horizons and began “listening to everything from pop and hiphop to experimental rock and house.” J.W.J. now calls Los Angeles home and that melding of musical styles seeps into his own creative endeavors. “Ways To Go” combines elements of indie-electro and jazz for a Contemporary R&B sound that will have you feeling mellow as you reach for the repeat button.
Cautious Clay came out swinging with his debut single, “Cold War”, and now he’s back with another chill jam. Rich layers of sound and uplifting energy supports Cautious Clay’s weathered vocals on “Joshua Tree”. The single proves a melting pot of various styles, from soul to electro-pop, but the result is seamlessly fluid. “Joshua Tree” is a love song for those that are anti-love song: same enchanting atmosphere and none of the sappy sentiment.
Titus Makin will have you missing those listless summer afternoons with his new single, “Good Love”. Makin mixes soul and pop for a catchy, feel good number that features the lithe vocal stylings of Megan Tibbits. The songwriter drew inspiration from his parents’ own love affair and that’s the sweetest thing I’ve heard all day. Titus Makin is originally from sunny Sierra Vista [AZ] but he now calls Los Angeles home. Word has it, Makin is currently at work on his second EP (due out next year) so, until then, spend some time with “Good Love”.
The musical group from Norway known as The band called Oh launched quite an ambitious recording endeavor this year. Yes, Guerrilla Gardening is a 22-track album and The band called Oh released two tracks every week (for more than two months) until they reached their grand total. “Had To” is lucky number 14 of 22. The band pairs slouchy (but still slick) vocals with a modge podge sound of soul and (stripped down) rock.
As I sit here writing this, I’m facing Thanksgiving Eve and all the woes the morrow will bring. There’s nothing quite like a family holiday to really highlight the ongoing tensions in this country between those that support fascism (unknowingly or otherwise) and those of us that don’t. Leave it to Canada to come through with this track from Beatchild & The Slakadeliqs. Featuring the talents of fellow Canadian, Justin Nozuka, “The Only Difference” reminds us to chill out and maybe take a step back. I might not have been able to share this one before Thanksgiving, but we have more holidays heading our way…
This might be the sexiest physical release I’ve seen in sometime. Yes, I’m talking about The Bittersweet Way’s brand new release, Presents; a blue flexi disc entombed in a hand-assembled zine. Just like a proper 45 RPM, it contains the band’s first two singles and that’s it. Sure, the rest of the album can be found digitally, but trust me, you’re going to want a physical copy. Marking the 20th Anniversary of the band, I find Presents to be some of the best output by The Bittersweet Way yet. And, when you account for the 20 years the band’s been around, that’s saying something.
With songs written by Jed Foster and arranged/performed by bandmates Jess Pruit and Ehren Stonner, Presents is a powerful album dealing with complex emotion. Essentially, it’s perfect for the holiday season. The zine is filled with a very personal bio, lyrics, and some great write-ups by local legends Serene Dominic, Dan Gibson, Mitchell Hillman, and Ed Masley. With it’s beautiful packaging by Quinn Murphy of Hamster Labs [ahem, an illustrious YabYum sponsor], you’re going to want to snag a physical copy of the release for that special someone this season.
After rocking the scene for quite a few years now, fans can finally get their hands on the first proper LP release from Battered Suitcases: Oblivion. On it, you’ll find a sound that is quintessnetial Battered Suitcases: the raw bite of punk, the hazy tones of garage, and a heavy pinch of idealogy borrowed from the Beats and early 70s metal.
Sharon Case is the mastermind behind the Battered Suitcases providing plenty of lyrics, poetry, and thunderous bass. Joining her are cohorts Jess Case on blistering drums/backing vocals and Frankie Case on pure rollicking guitar. From opener “Normal” to the title track, on through to the final song “I Am Nothing” – with everything in between – this album rocks your socks off. Released by Dead Beat Records on delicious red vinyl, it’s limited to 100 pressings AND every order of the record comes with a free Battered Suitcases button! Folx both bad and good will love this LP so put it on both your lists.
Marking their first appearance in vinyl format, Jade Helm is just one of the current projects led by Jackie Cruz. More post punk/alternative than her other mainstay, Man Hands, this band allows the songstress to explore wider sonic experimentation while still keeping things pretty punkrawk. Although Jade Helm has been playing around town for a few years now, this is their first proper release and we can thank Gilgongo Records for that. “Human Condition”, a two-and-a-half minute shoegazey rocker contemplating the unknown is paired with “Tell Me Something.” Featuring driving rhythm and loose guitar. It begs the ultimate ultimatum from what appears to be a former lover, “Tell me something I don’t know”.
Joining Jackie are a bevy of heavy hitters including Matt Dobbins (Rumspringer, Detached Objects) on bass, Danny Levie (The Lunchbox venue) on drums, and marking his first time playing in a group, Alex Aguilar on additional guitar. Don’t be a ding-dong, order Jade Helm’s new 7″ through Gilgongo Records here.
The Phoenix 4-piece known as Sunday At Noon makes those video game afternoons a reality (sorta) in their latest music video. Don’t worry. No band members were harmed during the filming of “Autumn Moon”. The track comes from the band’s s/t LP which you can find here.
East Coast indie rockers Ruby Bones have a lively new single to get you dancing. “Gone Gone Gone” will infect your brainspace with its catchy hooks and infectious melody. That’s all the warning I’m going to give you.
Stacked Like Pancakes have a real winner with their catchy new single, “45”. In truth, we’ve been receiving a lot of Anti-Trump songs of late, but none quite so infectious. And, the band has a fun animated music video to go along with it. Rad.
This SoCal alt-indie act passed through AZ on their very first tour and we’re grateful for some repeat visits now that the band is gaining momentum (and tour stops). The 4-piece is currently at work on a new album (due out next year), but they offered up this new music video for “Vindictive” last week. Frequency Within will be passing our way again in March so like/follow to stay up-to-date on their shows!
This rock n’roll four-piece from Southern California draws inspiration from the Brit-Invasion that started in the 1960s. Their latest single, “She’s a Mystery”, explores the world’s more enigmatic 52% with enough barroom energy to start a brawl.
A group of rad, music-loving lady tigers runs this snappy music blog that regularly offers up new album reviews and interviews on up-and-coming artists. Annnd they do accept direct submissions by email.
Nah Right has been up and running for over a decade now with a stripped down style to keep the focus on what really matters: the music. New hip hop and rap artists are featured daily – mixtapes included.
Maybe you’re looking to expand your band’s brand to new continents? Then check out Acid Stag from Australia. New singles, LP reviews, and Friday Mixtapes will have fresh tunes coming your way every single day.
All you bedroom dance-pop allstars , chillwave queens, and indie-tronica artists, this Brooklyn-based blog is for you. The Sky Report features reviews of new releases and hosts a regular music program through Newtown Radio.
I love both cereal and music so, as far as I’m concerned, Cereal + Sounds really has a good thing going. They definitely have a cool-kid indie vibe. This Yonkers-based music blog also runs a label AND they accept direct submissions. Definitely check out this up-and-coming blog.
Caleb Eberhardt is the mastermind behind Rosehardt’s HipHop/Soul/Jazz infusion. The producer, and self-revealing lyricist, went through a year of personal loses and emerged with a bounty of hard-earned experiences to pour into his music. “Fall Into You” captures an intimate moment of that journey.
The instrumentation on this single might have an easygoing vibe, but De’Wayne Jackson tackles some serious issues on “Coming Back Home”. This single comes to us from Jackson’s new ep, Don’t Be Afraid, which you should definitely check out for yourself on Spotify.
The Japanese band known as ODEO just dropped their debut single, “White Crow”, last month. To mark the occasion, the band also released this music video which was filmed in Tokyo. The aesthetic matches the sweet-tempered vocals on the single.
This band from Rochester [NY] just dropped their debut release, Stubbborn Comfort, which features the single, “Fast Car”. Anamon offers “vignettes of heartbreaks and dreamscapes” from songwriter, and frontwoman, Ana Emily Monaco.
The Bittersweet Way joined us down at the Radio Phoenix studios for The YabYum Hour before heading down to Bisbee for Sidepony Music Festival and the band’s own release show of their latest album, Presents. Now, is that ‘Presents’ as in “I present this to you” or is it more like “Yay! Presents!”? Well, you’re gonna have to tune in to find out. While you’re at it, you can hear the sweet playlist brought in by Jed that’s actually a mix-tape he made 20 years ago!
This week, around the Valley, children will return to their parents’ homes, families with gather around dining room tables, and proclamations will be made about what they’re thankful for this year.
Then, over a handful of hours, old resentments, grudges, and disappointments will be removed like grandma’s china from the dining room cabinet and laid out in orderly patterns, just like happens every year. If, between the jellied cranberries and screaming diatribes about “just giving the President a chance,” you find yourself in need of a respite, the Arizona Theatre Company would be excited to offer you the option to see a return they are thankful for.
Last week, ATC opened the second show of their 51st season, Marisela Trevino Orta’s The River Bride which was recognized with the company’s National Latino Playwriting Award in 2013; a tale in which familial resentments, grudges, and disappointments take center stage.
Orta’s story, the first of an intended “grim Latino fairy-tale cycle,” is one of those plays that, like the best bedtime stories, feels both immediately familiar and strangely menacing at the same time. Set against the Amazon and drawn like river water from Brazilian folklore, the story concerns itself with the Costa family; especially its oldest daughter Helena and her younger sister Belmira.
As the play opens, it is three days until Belmira’s marriage to a local fisherman, which is the most exciting news in the household until a strange man is pulled out the river in Senor Costa’s fishing nets. From there, for the next hour and a half, Orta takes us on a cruise through themes of jealousy, love (romantic and otherwise), loss, loneliness, mystery and regret.
If that sounds like a downer or a buzzkill, well, frankly it kind of is. But as downer buzzkills go, it’s a moving and haunting one, even if not every theme is given equal measure. Under the direction of Kinan Valdez, The River Bride is a balance of successes and near-misses, but the overall effect is still a powerful one.
Regina Garcia’s scenic design is a highlight. A handful of simple wooden pieces slide away or silently fly in as needed, moving action from the family home to the docks nearby in less time than it takes to realize that it’s happened. It feels like the way things move in dreams, and that dreamlike quality is a large part of why this fable is so effective. Shows probably shouldn’t be recommended on the virtue of their sets alone, but when the set is this good – and used this well – it’s easy to be tempted.
However, as impressive as I may have found Garcia’s set (and here I should mention David Lee Cuthbert’s lighting and projection design as well), it wouldn’t be much of a fairy-tale without characters, and Orta’s story is told by an impressive cast. The sisters at the heart of the story form a strong core. Paula Rebelo’s Belmira deftly walks the line between wide-eyed ingenue and the closest thing this story has to an onstage antagonist. You want to slap her, and you want to see her happy, and, in that, her “little sister” game is strong. Sarita Ocon, on the other hand, is easily believable as the older sister who long ago got used to bowing to Belmira’s whims, and it’s not hard to find yourself rooting for her.
Dena Martinez plays their mother, and in the manner of mothers in fairy-tales, Senora Costa is suitably wise, warm, and patient, but it’s in her husband, portrayed by Leandro Cano that the cast finds its standout and the production finds its most satisfying element. Cano’s Senor Costa is a hulking bear of a man and the evergreen love of Helena and Belmira’s parents is, without question, the most infectious element of the show.
Unfortunately, the production’s central love story, and the mystery surrounding it, aren’t the same unqualified success. As far as the mystery goes, we’ll avoid veering into spoilers here, but Orta’s script won’t make you wait long for the goods. The identity of the handsome stranger won’t be stated out loud until near the end of the story, but it won’t take more than a handful of scenes to put the pieces together, which makes it easier to focus on the love story, which isn’t to the production’s benefit.
Ocon’s Helena is both stalwart and sacrificing, and Hugo E. Carbajal as Moises, the bandaged and amnesiac stranger, is both charming and engaging, but the connection between them feels more like the beginning of a beautiful friendship than a passionate romance. They’re both likable and trustworthy, so when they say they’re in love, I guess I believe them, but you’ll have to take their word for it.
The production isn’t heavy on surprises, but fables seldom are, and what is here is presented in a way that seems both fresh and familiar, comfortable but not safe. Disney, this is not, and no guarantees are made for a feel-good ending, but if you don’t let that deter you, you can not only catch a great show this weekend, but maybe get a few hours away from the debate your cousin is having with your uncle in front of the TV.
The River Bride continues at The Herberger Theatre through December 3rd. Up next for The ATC is Man of La Mancha which promises to be a highlight of the season. Tickets to both shows (and others) are available through the Arizona Theatre Company here.
Fourteen-year-old Anastasia has been performing with her brother, Max, since she was only 9. After five years of music-making, the two are practically seasoned professionals. Check out the slick music video for their new single, “All Went Black”!
Rex Orange County might only be 19-years-old, but his chill indie sound has a maturity well beyond the numeric representation of his age. For the music video to “Loving is Easy”, Rex Orange County teamed up with director and animator Chris Ullens for this stop-animation gem.
These Toronto teens (14 and 15) have enough feisty energy to take down any choreographed boy band in a parking lot. Now, that is a fist fight I would like to see. Maybe for the next music video…. hint. They already have a strong message and a tough message. I dig it.
Niko Rose, of the musical Rose family, is younger brother to Nathan and Noah, both of whom we have featured through our publication. Now, we have a new one with his own style making his way onto the AZ music scene.
This multi-instrumentalist from Iceland took it upon himself to direct the music video for his new single, “I’d Love”. Auður has already gained some noteworthy attention in his native land, but he’s ready to break big beyond the pond.
Seattle’s Dorian Duta is thirteen-years-old but he’s already got the pop potential to make it in the industry. And, judging from his new single, he’s already got some emotional insight to pour into his lyrics. High School is going to be a wellspring of new songs for this kid.
Consider the bright, beachy sound of Breakup Shoes a warm, indie-pop welcome from ever-Sunny Arizona. “Brian Wilson is My Dad” will brush up against you like a gentle summer breeze. The track was recorded by Jalipaz over at Audioconfusion so it retains that organic, fresh-from-the-garage feel. The only problem I have with the song is that it evokes a bit too much wanderlust. A couple of replays and I’m ready to cash out and live in a van by the ocean.
Singer-Songwriter Nicky William was born in Oxelösund, Sweden but he sounds straight out of the American Heartland, but I guess Small Town Syndrome is not isolated to the United States. William’s deep voice calls to mind Bill Callahan while his catchy indie rock instantly hooks listeners. “Hurricane” is just a taste of Nicky William’s debut album, Set your loved ones free, we have you surrounded, which came out last week. At only 21 years of age, Nicky William has a promising musical future ahead of him.
There is an unhurried quality to the songs of There is Danger and the new single “All My Friends” was an unexpected November surprise. The band allows enough time to explore the lush soundscape without ever drifting off into the dreaded territory of “jam band”. No, no, no, this is something much different: an aural journey through meticulously manicured gardens rather than stomping along an untended and overgrown path (basically, jam bands).
Experience of personal loss brought about this moving new single from Mt. Joy’s Matt Quinn. After losing friends within his community to drugs, he penned “Silver Lining” in hopes of creating some solace in the wake of tragedy. Maybe that’s way “Silver Lining” has such a vivifying, live-in-the-now energy. It’s a call to life. The Philadelphia band now calls Los Angeles home so maybe they’ll be making some Phoenix stops (hint). Mt. Joy already has plans to pass through with Neko Case in March so make sure you like/follow to stay up-to-date on that show.
There’s an airy quality to the melodic indie-pop of France’s Orouni that will have you feeling lighter on your feet as you listen. For the band’s latest recording effort, they enlisted the help of Emma Broughton and her luminous voice blends seamlessly with the surrounding musicality. This track comes to us from Orouni’s new EP, Somewhere in Dreamland, which is now available through Les Disques Pavillon. I definitely recommend adding this track to your morning music mix. Every day will be a little bit brighter.