by Carly Schorman
Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra
Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra is more than a band; it’s a social force for good that started right here in Arizona… in case you didn’t glean that from the name. PAO brought down the house at The Van Buren a little more than a week back with the release of their sophomore recording, Laugh to Keep from Crying. The four-track vinyl clocks in at more than 30 minutes of music to really gather up fans in the flurry of their cross-continental sound.
In addition to carrying on the tradition of Afrobeat in the AZ desert, the 16-piece really lives up to the orchestral implications of their names as well. A rich field of percussion is layered with vibrant horns while lead vocalist Camille Sledge stands at the helm, ready to usher in a creative revolution and a new era for all of humanity (not just Phoenix) with the band’s powerful message.
I, for one, definitely hope that when the revolution comes, we’re all shouting, “PAO! PAO! PAO!” In fact, Imma’ start practicing right now while listening to Laugh to Keep from Crying. You should do the same. It will revive your weary soul.
Harrison Fjord combines indie rock and smooth jazz for a fresh new sound that makes me feel like I should definitely have an artisanal cocktail in my hand before I proceed along the sonic journey that is Polychrome.
The seven musicians from Chandler who make up Harrison Fjord are more than proficient players, there is a fluidity to the band’s sound that feels completely natural, as easy to maintain as breath. This allows them to create such vibrant and dynamic soundscapes on their songs.
Just listen to “Ace’s Wounds” which tops out at almost seven minutes. Totally seamless through every harmony and change in time signature. But, really, you should listen to the entire album from start to finish because it is an encompassing experience.
The Phoenix ensemble known as Captain Squeegee is back with more jazzy future funk. Harmony Cure, their latest EP, brings fans spaceships and time terrorists and more wild (but totally plausible) musings from the mind of Squeegee ringleader, Danny Torgersen.
There’s definitely a theatrical sensibility that shines through Captain Squeegee’s music (and not just their music videos). Each song is complex and, while the album does all fit together, each track feels like a complete thought rather than just a piece of some looming whole. Unless, of course, the WHOLE in this circumstance is the ongoing Captain Squeegee message. And, that message is an optimistic one… well, sorta. Harmony Cure seems optimistic about the future, but maybe not so much about the present.
There are some rumors circulating about a Captain Squeegee flash mob and maybe a music video to come so I expect more fun is in the works from this act. They’re usually brewing up something unusual to help keep PHX weird.
Catch Captain Squeegee live at Last Exit Live in April with The Funky Knuckles (more info here).