Bobby Baritone has a low-key indie style that makes me think he’d mesh well with in Phoenix. Maybe we’ll get a chance to find out this summer when the Seattle performer sets off on tour. Matthew Fildey is the songwriter behind the Bobby Baritone moniker, in a sorta Diners/Tyler Blue Broderick situation. And, truth be told, “Shaving Private Ryan” reminds me a bit of that hometown favorite [Diners] in its innocent and unabashed feel, both in the songwriting and in the delivery. The single comes to us from Bobby Baritone’s new EP, Scum Rock, which is due out later this month. Pre-Order is available through Bandcamp!
Phoenix-based songwriter Mikey Pro launched Foresteater in 2015 as the vehicle for his trippy brand of buoyant indie rock “after a dream he had about a band playing on an island in outer-space surrounded by electric rainbows.” That’s actually the perfect way to describe the Foresteater sound. Blurring that rock/pop line, Foresteater’s “Pretend Land” takes some of the grounding of grunge to help tether that candy-coated sound and we love it.
The indie-folk-rock act known as River Whyless is gearing up for the launch of their new album, Kindness, A Rebel, which is due out through Roll Call Records this coming June. Annnd releasing “Born in the Right Country” as the first single from that record is definitely a bold step in putting your message where your music is as the N.C. questions the random luck of birthright and concept of the American Dream. Of course, River Whyless does this all in a Baroque Folk / Indie Pop style that has counting down days until the June 8th release date of Kindness, A Rebel. Pre-order the new album through Bandcamp today!
Truth be told, I’ve only glimpsed windswept plains of North America, but I imagine that if they could sing, they would sound a lot like Erin Rae. Riding along that sometimes indetermintate line between indie-folk and Americana, Erin Rae’s latest single, “Can’t Cut Loose”, showcases the artist’s talent for translating the heaviness of earthly sorrows through her ethereal voice. “Can’t Cut Loose” is the first single from Erin Rae’s forthcoming LP, Putting on Airs, which is due out in June through Single Locke Records.
Laura Jean Anderson also comes to us from the great state of Washington, but this time from Olympia. After moving to California to study classical voice at CalArts, Anderson spent some time picking up farm work in South America, and back in Washington, before returning to her newfound home in Los Angeles. Some of you might remember she passed through Phoenix last year while working on new material. “Silence Won’t Help Me Now” is the first single from that new collection from the songwriter.
Before the successful release of last year’s Straight Outta Comp, Lumberjerk Records founder Justin Weir already had plans of releasing a second volume.
His hope was to feature other bands he hadn’t yet worked with and possibly have twice as many songs on the next compilation, with all the profits continuing to go to donorschoose.org.
And you know what? He made it happen.
“It’s going to be quite the spectacle this year compared to last,” says Justin by email, “23 bands, a double release weekend at Yucca Tap Room April 27 and 28 [with] both nights headlined by Playboy Manbaby.”
Now we certainly thought the first comp was something special but this is certainly a case of double your pleasure, double your fun because Straight Outta Comp vol. 2 is super rad indeed. Take a listen below…
It’s just so eclectic. But not in a weird way. There’s unity between all 23 track selections and you can tell Justin spent his time cultivating a fine mix of indie, punk, shoegaze, post rock, and folk.
Not only are there a bevy of Valley heavy hitters on the album from the aforementioned Playboy Manbaby, No Volcano, There Is Danger, and Celebration Guns (Justin’s band) to name but a few – there are also artists I was completely unfamiliar with such as A Blackbird en Route, Shallow, Built by Animals, and Jordan Murawa.
Rounding out the compilation for me are a bunch of great songs by bands that have all been in the local scene for various years such as koleżanka, Sun System, Willetta, The Edisons, Elna Rae, Black Paw, Soft Deadlines, Broken Girls from Affluent Backgrounds, and Zodiac Bash — however, I still consider these bands relatively new so it’s great to see them get some love here.
But wait, there’s also a few surprises.
Fine China, a Phoenix band who have been around for over twenty years, have just released their latest album after a thirteen year hiatus and one of their new songs opens Straight Outta Comp vol. 2. They also play the first night of the release show.
There’s also a brand new track by Palm Springs Eternal, an “emo revival act” made up of Chuckie Duff (Dear and the Headlights), Charles Barth (Saddles), Jesse Cole Ward (Bloomfield), and Rob Kroehler (fun.). Umm… can you say supergroup much?
To top this all off, we will feature Justin and Cory from Lumberjerk Records tomorrow night on The YabYum Hour from 7:00-8:00 PM on radiophoenix.org where they will chat with us even more about Straight Outta Comp vol. 2, what went in to it, and what the future holds for this still brand-new label [if you’re reading this after the fact 1.) Keep up – we post new content daily and 2.) the podcast version of the show will be up soon].
With an INSANE Release Weekend happening this Friday April 27 and Saturday April 28 at the Yucca Tap Room, it certainly would be wise to stop by and show Lumberjerk some love. You might just learn a little something about Arizona music.
“Somewhere in these piles of shit I found heaven,” HIDE’s Heather Gabel snarls on their debut album. Castration Anxiety is a visceral piece of work: the sound of two people crawling through broken glass to get to somewhere better.
And for all the noisy textures, industrial stomping, and howling vocals on the Chicago duo’s 2018 LP, there’s traces of transcendent beauty and grace that reveal themselves through repeat listenings – a glimpse of Paradise at the bottom of filth.
HIDE’s Heather Gabel and Seth Sher have been active in Chicago’s warehouse scene, releasing tapes and unnerving audiences with their confrontational performances. Before starting HIDE, Gabel worked for years as a graphic designer for bands like Alkaline Trio, AFI, Rancid, Green Day, and Joan Jett.
For someone who’s spent so much time working behind the scenes, she’s a natural at creating them: taking the stage wearing burkas or scantily clad leather outfits, Gabel growls & screams on the mic with a feral intensity that makes Lydia Lunch & Courtney Love sound like kittens. Seth Sher uses his experience as a producer and experimental musician to give HIDE’s songs a crackling, queasy energy.
On Castration Anxiety, Gabel and Sher create the sound of a shotgun wedding between Throbbing Gristle and Crystal Castles. It would make make the perfect soundtrack for a cyberpunk horror movie.
I recently chatted with the duo about their “punishing and empowering” sound, their stunning album cover, and how they reacted to getting booed by Marilyn Manson fans.
Ashley Naftule: What bands do y’all pull inspiration from? What groups inspired you when you were recording Castration Anxiety?
Heather Gabel: We don’t really do that – not consciously. We both like a lot of the same things. I mean, Seth likes things that I don’t like, and vice versa. The first song we ever wrote together, it was like ‘this is great.’ And then we realized, ‘Oh, this is that Cure song.’ If something ever sounds derivative, we’d ditch it. We’re not trying to make anything that’s like anything we like.
The cover to the album, with the burka and the homage to Michelangelo’s Pietà, is striking. It’s one of the most distinctive album covers I’ve seen in a long time. How did that image come together?
I came up with the idea after we finished the EP that came out before this record. It’s called Black Flame – it’s sort of a concept EP about human rights violations in Iran and a woman named Reyhaneh Jabbari. She was hung in Iran for allegedly killing a man who was trying to rape her… she was 26 years old. That’s where I was at with the lyrics to that.
We had done an installation with burkas, and I’d sometimes perform in one. My dad’s from Egypt. I wasn’t raised Muslim, but he would take me to the mosque. It was a part of my childhood. My whole family on his side lives there still, so I have a relationship with that imagery.
Also, from going to Catholic school, comes things like the Pietà. The cover is bringing all these images together. It turned out really beautifully; our friend photographed it for us in Chicago.
Another striking aspect of your work is your distinctive, B&W music videos. Videos like “Forced Fed” and “Wildfire.” Who’s responsible for those? Is it an aesthetic that the two of you conceptualized together, or is it something you’ve created as a collaboration with other artists?
Heather: For the most part. They’re all collaborative processes. For “Force Fed”, Seth and I just made that video on our own. With “Wildfire,” we worked with two photographers and an editor – a filmmaker friend of ours – and we had a loose concept going into it. That was super-collaborative. Overall, the aesthetic of those videos comes through our filter.
Heather, you’ve spent years working behind the scenes with bands as a graphic designer and artist. Has it been a weird transition for you, moving into a more extroverted role as a singer? Going from being someone who’s backstage to now being someone who’s in the spotlight.
Heather: Yeah, definitely. It wasn’t anything I was interested in doing before. When I was touring before and working for bands, I was doing art and painting. After awhile, I didn’t want to paint anymore so I started doing collage. I did that for fifteen years. And then I wanted to do something different so I made short films and I was doing performance pieces. I was trying to do things that I hadn’t done before and I wanted to do something that sounded scary. It was a natural progression with where I was at in my art practice.
There’s something you said in a past interview, Seth, that I found fascinating. You had said that “the thing that makes HIDE, HIDE is our mutual desire to punish/empower ourselves and our audiences.” I was wondering what you meant by that. In what way is your work punishing and empowering?
Seth Sher: I think that people need to be physically moved or affected to shake them out of a certain mindset — that Internet, information-focused mindset — and back into a physical reality. I like to make music that’s super heavy and big and enveloping. Music that makes you feel like your physical body is being shaken… I guess that’s the punishment.
And then it empowers you by waking you up. I think it’s important for people to realize that there is a physical reality they need to interface with and that they need to be more in that zone so they can be more grounded and centered.
I heard that y’all got booed opening for Marilyn Manson. Considering the confrontational nature of your performances, do you take that as a badge of honor?
Heather: Totally! It was only one crowd, but it was a big crowd in Milwaukee. We were in this beautiful ballroom, an old Masonic Lodge, and I was so psyched to play there. It was the day before my birthday. We got booed after playing our second song — 6,000 people booing us — it sounded amazing. Bumming that many people out is as exciting to me as that many people being into what we’re doing.
HIDE are coming to Phoenix on Wednesday, April 25. They’ll be playing at The Lunchbox with Lana Del Rabies, Early Tongue, and DJ Jackie Cruz. Tickets are still available via Ticketfly.
A bubbly mixture of feelings set in regarding my attendance to the album release show of three seperate bands — Playboy Manbaby, TOSO and Not Confined –along with Exxxtra Crispy at the Phoenix-based Rebel Lounge, but one thing was certain: these bands had the heart of the local music scene resting in the palm of their hands.
As my photographer and I packed into the dimly-lit venue, my first surprise was the diversity of attendees spotted around the room. With a nicely formatted space dividing the 21+ area (yay booze) and younger sections of the crowd, I found it a fun pass-time to people watch and get a deeper sense in what the audience was about. This was easier said than done, since my photographer wore heels to get good shots over the crowd, and effectively made it harder for a portly journalist and his stylishly chic photographer to blend in without towering over the other fans.
With the crowd comprising of budding punks, local scene veterans, and one weird lady writing on a yellow notepad in the corner before anyone was playing, I deemed myself intoxicated enough to nestle into a nice spot on the side of the stage.
With the Exxxtra Crispy merch table proudly showcasing homemade shorts with incredibly aggressive slogans, I was both shocked and enlightened by the polar sounds of their style. Armed with a trombone, sax, and the normal slew of rock band instruments, the initial shock from seeing horns prominently displayed in the mix acting as rock instruments turned that feeling into pure admiration.
While they were listed under the “special guests” category, opening songs like “Brain Salad Surgery” and “Andromeda” proved them to be capable of being the perfect headlining party band. As much as I can’t comment professionally on their musicality, every member proved they were unapologetic performers at heart throughout the set.
With needed little to get the crowd going and only exuding pure energy, there were plenty of youths who took to their matured sound and musical capability. Have you ever seen someone play a sax solo like a guitar solo? Make sure you order your sandwich “Exxxtra Crispy” next time.
Brain Salad Surgery Exhausted Andromeda Chocolate Jesus Ride All Night Not In My Band Scumbag
By the time Not Confined took the stage, I managed to find my way to the bar in-between all the battle jackets and sweaty anticipation. As the gin and juice managed to settle in my empty stomach, the mixture of nausea and heightened effects from my medication told me I was ready for the next set.
For a group comprised of what seemed to be young punks between the ages of 17 – (maybe?) 22, the humility of their on-stage banter and thankfulness to their loyal fans were refreshing to the usual on-stage persona of the cocky frontman who doesn’t give a fuck what you do.
The vocalist of Not Confined displayed cool confidence in their lyrics based upon 21st century social activism and didn’t shy away from the harder topics on songs like “Object of Society” and “Entitled.” With a “blue-steel” type stare that would penetrate any Fox News anchor facing the loss of advertisers, their properly mohawked and jean-clad vocalist possessed the same disconcerting honesty as Fiona Apple in their performance with the entire band reflecting that vibe; these are the type of people who would accept you with love regardless of your style and life path, but don’t even try bringing out old-school prejudices and tired world-views.
Not Confined is the modernized, musically political answer to punk bands stuck in circles talking about dead socialist thinkers and LSD-induced visions of society.
Entitled Out of Control Neat Neat Neat Object of Society Hybrid Moments Untitled Song No Coincidence TV Man Dead Reputation
With my adrenaline charged from Not Confined, I immediately needed a solution for this rush before the next band and took a quick break on the smoking patio to emulate sardines in a can. Before I caught TOSO on stage, I truly didn’t expect this level of showmanship I was about to be exposed to.
While every band puts in a certain level of care to their brand, there aren’t many acts I know who utilize interesting composition, costumes, and story line as much as TOSO does. Their musical abilities are more than good enough to bring on stage alone, let alone combining these elements with medieval outfits and some seemingly scripted lines refreshingly rehearsed and too good to be improv.
TOSO is a psychedelic mystery machine of theater and music you truly didn’t know you needed in your geek-consciousness until you get the live experience. Songs like “Planet Dumpster” and “Magic Boy” evoke narratives that could only come from a few fandoms and 10 tabs of LSD; and what’s wrong with that, folks?
Being a local mainstay and favorite, TOSO knows exactly where to put their creative guns and shoot them at just the right time. While frontman Zac White did enlighten the crowd with jokes and charisma, the true magic came out when each member played their respective parts in this confusing land of wizards and guitars.
Planet Dumpster Ladydick & Manbitch T.S.G.O. Magic Boy L’appel Du Vide Beach People Who Cares Psychole Vortexistentialism Before I Die Hungover Forever
As the suspense for Playboy Manbaby mounted after the visually appealing energy brought by TOSO, my photog’s heels were beginning to give out and I could smell the speedstick in the air. Luckily for PM, they were no strangers to sharing their sweat and tears with the audience as well. With hats which made me reminisce to a few ska bands, that notion was quickly thrown away when their diverse ensemble played the first note.
The confident noises which bellowed from the bowels of vocalist Robbie Pffeffer flowed with the musical insanity donated by David Cosme on Trumpet and “Ricky” on sax. I don’t know where I’ve been mentally for the past few months, but clearly I’ve been missing horns in live mixes for quite a while.
As a complete package, Playboy Manbaby are a group of professional punks who insult the normies and inspire the masses with a heavy scoff at the word, angst; songs with titles like “Profit” and “Impatient” convey a deeper anger at the system most bands try to reach and evolve, but never get there due to repetition.
Their song lyrics do reflect irony and have a wicked sense of humor, but no performance of the night made me relate to my mid-20s crisis I was experiencing at the moment of writing. With the energy of an angry Helicopter-parent at a conference who possibly smoked crack in the 80s, I realized the energy of Playboy Manbaby had a purpose no matter how ridiculous their Facebook bio made them seem: intelligence can be found in absurdity, and there are many ways a punk can age gracefully in their lyrics and music.
Armed with an enticing intro video that only added to the performance along with an encore Sting would be jealous of, I can only hope next time I experience them sober with all my insecurities and anger in tow.
Snake Harmer Profit College Impatient Last One Standing Shooting Company Man The Fun Doom Couch Strange Plastic Surgery Need Don’t Be An Asshole
Populist Politics Cadillac Car You Can Be A Fascist Too
“Crazy Love” started out as a simple freestyle before Truvonne decided to flesh it out into a fully-formed single. That’s rad because last year it was Truvonne’s “Alright” that had us enthralled (and made our Best of 2017 list). “Crazy Love” has that tranced-out vibe that locked us down in Truvonne’s camp way back when. This fresh single captures that chill Truvonne musicality while the lyrics make the jealous type thing seem, well, kinda hot.
Toronto’s Preston Chin might be better known by his onstage moniker, Robotaki. Bringing together electronica elements with R&B on his new single, “Butterscotch”, Robotaki achieves something hip and totally fresh. And that’s really saying something for a dude whose fan group is called “Science Lab Group” and publicly lists his personal email address for all things Harry Potter-related. “Butterscotch” is sultry in a way I don’t first think of when I think “Potterhead”. Obviously, that’s my limitation. “Butterscotch” also features the talents of Jamie Fine and Falcxne and can be found on Robotaki’s latest EP, Science, which came out this week.
Man, this new song from Kaprii is really resonating with me right now, as I’m sure it will with anyone who’s been forced to deal with a personal relationship that starts to compromise your sense of self-worth, whether romantic or otherwise. Kaprii moves into a chillax space before unfurling her lyrical knots. Zone out to this song and think about who you need to sing (or scream) these lyrics to. Consider it your act of self-care for the day.
This new track from Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez starts off with a jazzy sound, but these elements will remain fixed as the groundwork upon which “Unarmed” is constructed. Personally, I can’t decide what I like more: the poetical approach to the lyrics or the vocals that deliver them. There is definitely an experimental element to this track that goes beyond the blurring of genres. Something akin to Alt-R&B or Americana-Jazz. Whatever it is, New York’s Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez creates a compelling soundscape on “Unarmed”.
Maia Quin joins Rainbow Dog’s lead singer, Agnes Azria, to address pleasure and its potential price on the new single from this L.A.-based Future Soul Jazz-Fusion band. “Pleasure” actually marks Rainbow Dog’s debut on the recorded music front and I’m super digging the modern lounge style for a chill evening at home with friends… or, I guess, just one friend. Just don’t have too much fun unless you’ve properly considered the “price for pleasure” or Rainbow Dog won’t be impressed. After all, they issued fair warning. As mentioned, this is just the first single from the band so follow Rainbow Dog to stay current on future releases.
Used to be, rock bands put out a record at least once a year. The Beatles, The Stones, everybody. Even with the all the advances in recording technology, most modern bands don’t hold themselves to that grueling pace. But Phoenix rockers No Volcano have pushed out a full LP every year since 2016, and somehow they’ve kept the quality high and have grown with each release.
But the band almost didn’t make it this year. Singer-guitarist Jim Andreas said this record was harder to record than the previous two, with bassist Jake Sevier leaving the band after recording had already began. After thinking of abandoning the songs and starting over, the band instead added James Karnes from Less Pain Forever and finished the session.
Perhaps it’s the addition of new band member, but Envy in the Valley certainly has a different feel that the two previous records. The production, provided by drummer Chris Kennedy, is a great bit of work, providing just the right about of lo-fi buzz to keep the band sounding brighter and looser. But the warm sound masks some dark themes about growing older, life as a working stiff, and the concept of material success without happiness.
Coupled with some of the band’s strongest songs, this dissonance between the sunny sounds and dark lyrics makes for compelling listening, marking Envy in the Valley as No Volcano’s best work to date.
Things kick off with the excellent “Coming Up Roses,” immediately setting the tone for the rest of the record with it’s shuffling drums and noisy guitars, while a reverb-soaked Andreas sings, “I am what everyone resents. All action, no hesitation”
“Day in the Sun” talks of longing for a long weekend, while the excellent “M Ocean” sings about “Going through the motions and connecting the dots/Without rocking the boat.” The latter track also sounds different than anything the band has done in the past, with a bouncy rhythm and Built to Spill-worthy guitar wobbles.
Standout track “Sad Generator” might be the most representative track on the record — a scrappy, driving gem that would sound right at home on Wilco’s Star Wars sessions. The beautiful, melancholy “Country Show” finds the band exploring slower, dreamier territory, complete with a wall of harmonies.
Guitarist Jeremy Randall is a standout on this record, lending innovative and unexpected riffs to each song, from the woozy “To The Left,” the distorted experimental sounds of “Landscape” or the brilliant turn on the aforementioned “M Oceans.”
The band finished the record strong, with the bass-driven “Unintentional,” which harkens back to the excellent “Blackout” on Dead Horse Power, before finishing up with the crunchy “The Fence.”
Envy in the Valley is a great record, the sound of a band stretching themselves to create an album where everything clicks together just right.