3 Rad New Releases

3 rad new releases

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Miss Moody

You Owe Me

What happens when you take the somber yet stellar songwriting of Justin Moody and throw in an ensemble sound? The answer is Miss Moody. Pensive lyricism floats over a fuller sound without sacrificing the minimalism that first enamored us to Moody’s songs. Each track is soft-spoken and beautifully crafted. I can’t even pick a favorite although I tend to vacillate between the dreamy yet subtly aggressive title track and the hauntingly depressive “Strange”. Or maybe “Kisses”, the heart-wrenching closer, will inevitably take the lead. Ugh, choose your own damn favorite. You Owe Me was released through Moone Records and is available for purchase here. Or take a minute (or 20) to preview the EP below…

Funeral Gold

Everything Hurts

This surf-punk two-piece out of Portland released their six-track cassette back in November through Phoenix’s Cat Shit Records. Funeral Gold offers listeners grungy garage rock gold on Everything Hurts. The EP opens with the mellow number, “Breaking Rules/Hanging Out”, but don’t let that woe you into thinking that this is going to be another shoegaze-y groan. The energy gets turned up by the second track, “Work Hard/Play Hard”. There’s enough variance between songs to keep things interesting, but every track is richly (and roughly) textured. Preview Everything Hurts by Funeral Gold below or head here to score your own cassette copy from Cat Shit Records while supplies last.

Ancient Egypt

PLAGUED

The Tempe psych alt-rock outfit known as Ancient Egypt has been making the rounds on the local circuit for several years now. So why are we only covering them now? I.DON’T.KNOW. Somehow the band’s latest EP, PLAGUED, landed on our list, and before I made it through the first track, I was hooked. There’s a 90s vibe to the music and, for once, I don’t mean that in any sort of negative way. Ancient Egypt captures some of that summertime, 90s alt-vibe without sounding dated. That alone is an accomplishment worthy of note. A slightly psychedelic hue permeates PLAGUED, especially on the track “Away” which feels like it’s swimming toward the listener. Favorite songs from the album include “Canned Food” wherein the band stretches out their storytelling skills and “You Don’t Care” which pairs pensive lyrics with a playful melody. But, really, this album is pretty stellar from start to finish. Make sure you give PLAGUED by Ancient Egypt a listen below…

3 Rad New Releases

new arizona releases 00by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Wolvves

Paradox Valley

Before you embark on the new Wolvves’ album, the first thing you’re going to want to do is forget everything you think you know about Wolvves. This isn’t the Millennial Party Band of days past.

Paradox Valley represents a shift not only in players, but in vision. The emotional content of the album vacillates from dreamy to outright aggression to wry observations on the world while the sound can only be described as experimental. There is a nod to minimalism throughout the release which lends Paradox Valley a beautiful starkness against the entangled lyrics.

And, if you don’t like Aydin or you think he’s lyrics are too abrasive, fine. You don’t have to get it. That’s fine. He’s a poet continually seeking to explore the uncharted regions of music and art and honesty. I might not have been a big fan of the (old) Wolvves’ previous album, but I can now see the directional impetus. Sparsely textured and stunning, Paradox Valley is an achievement. You can purchase the album here or preview below.

Diners

Three

Diners saved me. It was a stressed and overworked Monday when I sat down to give Three a spin.

The strain began to evaporate like tiny bubbles in a glass of citrus soda and my blood pressure began to decline to a “safe range” once again as soon as the brief “Waiting on Music” introduced the album. By the time I sauntered through “Hear the World”, the second track, I was sold.

Three is innocent, but not puerile; beautifully harmonic, but not overworked. The tracks are minimal but lushly textured and invigorating like a cool breeze on a hot summer day. “Fifteen on a Skateboard” is an early favorite of mine (for those who haven’t seen Diners perform that track live on our Songs from the Reading Room series, head here), but I also love the nostalgic “In My Hometown” and the romantically wistful “Laundromat Conern”.

Actually, the whole release is stellar from start to finish. Score your own copy of Three for your personal collection here, but you can preview the album below first if you like.

PRO TEENS

Accidentally

The summertime release of PRO TEENS’ sophomore effort, Accidentally, coincided perfectly with the sticky, sludgy heat of the Arizona summer.

From the start of “Goodnight Moon’d”, the opening track, the listener is submerged in a sea of insouciance. Lead singer Andy Phipps’ voice emanates indifference that is well matched to the ironic tinge of the overarching musicality. The result is cool; cool in the way seedy lounge bars and drug-addled teenagers are cool.

There is something dark, slightly distasteful, and existentially dangerous that creeps around under the surface, but you find yourself inexplicably drawn into appreciating the degradation. Of course, all this glib disregard that one finds in the instrumentation is offset by the brooding, almost insolent lyricism. Therein, lies this album’s truly authentic self – not one or the other, but both aspects unified. The sardonic and the sullen.

Rather than continuing to speak in broad generalities, I guess I should dig into Accidentally. The previously mentioned opening track was in contention for personal favorite, but retro-surf-infused “Puberty” holds that official title. “Feather Boy” brings out a dreampop with psychedelic streaks while “Hamuela” swims around the listener; comforting as a poolside cocktail, something with an umbrella.

Just because PRO TEENS puts on a glib front, don’t be fooled by the hype. Sink down into this album and you will find its poignant and painful moments laid bare for those who care to look for them. Listen to this album in its entirety. You can do so below or you can snag that digi-download here.

3 Rad New Releases You Don’t Want To Miss

dogbreth 00by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Dogbreth

Second Home

There is something a little sad that stirs inside me when I notice that Dogbreth’s Bandcamp page is now tagged “Seattle” instead of “Phoenix”, but I know that our dusty desert will always hold a special place in the hearts of the band even though they’ve moved onto their Second Home. One might be quick to assume that this album is about place – that search for the place one can call home – but as I moved through the tracks, I realized Second Home is about a different kind of home, a home for the heart. Dogbreth crafts a sound of summertime and skateboards and garage jam sessions. Vocal responsibilities are more divided on this album than on previous releases. I’m personally partial toward Tristan’s vocal offerings, but Erin has an unrefined energy well suited to the band’s overall sound. You’ll find some seriously romantic pinings tucked away in Second Home from the dulcet song, “Sleeping”, to the upbeat “Stunner”. I wish I could say these heartfelt leanings find an amicable end, but the album’s closing track, “Hoarder House”, suggests otherwise. The emotions are earnest and tinged with innocence, much like the band’s overall sound. Second Home is definitely an album I’ll continue to spend time with in the months to come. Check it out here…

All Things Blue

Duende

All Things Blue out of Los Angeles provided that gem of an EP I stumbled across back in July. I was immediately taken with Duende, a musical melting pot of varied influences. “Braindead” opens the six-track EP, adding a hazy fog to their own brand of garage pop. “Sweet Release” follows and the listener can really begin to discern the R&B tinges that help shape the ATB sound. “Condition” gives the female vocalist a chance to show off her growl before “Sleep” submerges the listener in a psychedelic soup. “Strange” just might be my favorite track on the album, but I’ve always been partial to somber. The closing track, “What’s Mine”, didn’t really stand out for me which is a shame because the rest of the EP is fucking stellar. All Things Blue is definitely a band that has my attention. Listen to Duende here and consider making that purchase (here).

J.H. Friedrick

I AM OVENBIRD

J.H. Friedrick out of Silverton, OR has a smart lyrical style that resonates throughout his recent LP, I AM OVENBIRD. Indie-folk is one of those genres that’s just inundated with artists right now and it’s difficult to stand out. Friedrick does just that – stand out – with a stripped down sound. The songs are compelling and the music has variance within the framework of his indie-folk sound. My one complaint is that “Guns”, the opening track (and albeit a solid one) is not one of the strongest on the album so I wish I AM OVENBIRD kicked off with a different number. This song is just a little too pop on an otherwise pensive collection. “I’m still going on & on…” has a funky, jam-band vibe and, for once, I don’t mean that in a bad way. “Lady-vain” (my favorite track) offers an earthen sound, something tough and a little worked over, before “Good Enough” turns up the energy and the angst. Things get befittingly bluesy for “Typical Blues” before “Oregon” mellows things out again. “Pumpkin Pie” is a breathtakingly beautiful end to the album. Make sure you spend sometime with I AM OVENBIRD.

 

3 Stellar New Releases

stellar newby Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

RØÅR

Impossible Animals

Local sweethearts of the music scene, RØÅR, recently released a new LP at the end of April. Impossible Animals reconfirms Roar’s status as one of the bands you should be keeping an eye (or ear) on. “Dream” opens the album. A befitting position for an album that approaches the listener like an acid-inspired, Beatles-esque hallucination. Psychedelic pop meets modern musical sensibilities for a fantastical aural journey. Impossible Animals was four years in the making and you can hear that in the thoughtful song construction. RØÅR invited some notable local musicians to take part in the recording process including Lonna Kelley (Giant Sand, Cherie Cherie), Ben Gallaty (AJJ), Evan Bisbee (Good Friends Great Enemies), Robin Vining (Sweetbleeders) and others. Don’t miss out on the whimsical experience that is Impossible Animals.

Snake! Snake! Snakes!

Tranquilo

Tres Snakes has moved beyond the buoyant indierock that defined their early releases toward a grittier, garage rock sound and I, for one, can definitely get behind this transition to a more mature, and more thoughtful, approach to songwriting. Serious guitar work meets powerful vocals on every track for a new rock classic from the Snake! Snake! Snakes! camp. Tranquilo opens with “Mantra”, a personal favorite. This track is as close as you’ll get to Snake! Snake! Snakes! of days past. Bob Hoag of Flying Blanket Recording Studio does a superb job (no surprise) of drawing out the vocals from the surrounding instrumentation. Highlights from Tranquilo also include “O Death” and “Wild Nights” (the bonus track). Many of the songs are available for preview through Bandcamp, but to hear the whole album you’re going to need to make that purchase (or head to Spotify). All you local music lovers are definitely going to want to include this one in your collection.

Sea Wren

Sea Wren

Tucson’s Sea Wren might be making the debut with this cassette, but they’ve already hashed out a solid sound. Sea Wren definitely has a retro-pop feel mingled with some post-punk layers for texturing and that contemporary edge. The tracks were all written by Cherish Rendon and feature Matt Rendon of The Resonars. “Lena” opens the album with feisty vocals and vintage harmonies over the brash garage rock. The upbeat energy doesn’t diminish from start to finish and Cherish has a dreamy voice well-paired with the rowdy musicality of Sea Wren. “Riddle Lake” with its variable and upbeat tempos is a favorite along with “Wake Up Now”. Sea Wren is available on cassette through Lollipop Records and Bandcamp (see below). Pay special attention to the drum work on the recording. It’s out of this world.

3 Stellar New DreamPop Releases

dreampop 00by Lenore LaNova
Senior Editor

Celebration Guns

the me that used to be

Celebration Guns, the Phoenix ambient indie pop act, released their much anticipated sophmore effort, the me that used to be, last month on limited edition black virgin vinyl. “The Volunteer” opens the EP with an expansive energy that will have you dancing around the confines of your listening space. The EP turns up the angst for “Have It Your Way” and “Ready to Go” while the pensive title track closes the EP. My favorite track is a toss up between “The Volunteer” and “Thank You for Your Time”, but the me that used to be is solid from start to finish. My one complaint about the me that used to be is the lack of variance between tracks. The songs begin to blur together on repeated listens rather than standing out individually. But the EP certainly has cohesion, I’ll give it that. Despite this one issue, Celebration Guns crafted a thoughtful and dreamy experience in the new EP that I encourage you to sink your teeth in. Get your copy on vinyl while there are still copies to be had (LIMITED EDITION)!! I also suggest checking out the album below right now.

Pageantry

Influence

Pageantry out of Denton, TX us brings us another indie dream pop offering with their latest release, Influence. Get ready to sink into the soothing sounds that will fill your ear holes as “Girl Breath” opens the album. This whimsical tone will carry through the remainder of the album in both its somber and its cheerful moments. “Teenage Crime Wave”, the second track, is an early favorite of mine, but each song on Influence has its own charm from the slinking “Giving Up” to the uplifting “Taste for Kindness”. There is a delicate layering of sounds on Influence that other bands would be smart to take note of. Pageantry isn’t too heavy-handed with the effects yet the album is entrenched in subtly rich textures. I definitely recommend checking out Influence by Pageantry. And, if you’re like me, you’re probably going to want to procure your own limited edition gold cassette copy of the album for your collection.

Phosphene

Breaker

Oakland’s Phosphene definitely creates my kind of dream pop, the brooding kind. Breaker offers up six lulling tracks, stripped down without any elaborate orchestrations. Once again, I have to address the tendency amongst shoegaze artists to allow for a bit too much placidity which can give a homogenized sound to their albums. I think Phosphene skirts close to this line, but pulls through in the end by including tracks like “Rogue” and “Ride” which demonstrate the band’s ability to flex its willingness to explore the range of sounds that fall into the shoegaze arena. Intentionally understated vocals and subtle yet powerful guitar work make Breaker an EP worth hearing. If you dig what you hear, I suggest getting a copy  before they run out. Phosphene’s debut s/t sold-out so new fans are out of luck on the back catalog. Don’t let the same thing happen with Breaker.

3 Stellar New Releases

1Sweetbleeders

We Were Never Here

The Sweetbleeders have been making music in the Valley for more than 15 years and their November release of We Were Never Here prove they are as relevant as they ever were. This stunning fourteen track album ranks among my favorite to come out of Phoenix this year. The album opens with the instrumental “Albuterol I” which is actually part of a quadriptych which keeps popping up throughout the rest of the release. “Dumptruck” follows with that crisp, effervescent Sweetbleeders sound. “Albuterol II” picks up the melody and incorporates lyrics. The song will be revisited twice more (remember, it’s quadriptych?) before We Were Never Here reaches its conclusion. The four varied renderings all offer the listener something a little different so you can pick your favorite (mine is a toss up between II & IV). “Sleeping Beauty” is a personal favorite: sugary pop is mellowed out by extraordinary harmonies. But, if I’m being totally honest, my “favorite” has shifted several times through the repeated visitations We Were Never Here has received since its release. The title track encompasses a feeling that pervades the whole album, something somber and simultaneously whimsical, while “Back in Time (Remember the Night Waltz)” enchants me every time. We Were Never Here is the product of four years of hard work and was recorded at 513 Recording in Tempe by Mike Hissong with additional studio work from Catherine Vericolli and Dominic Armstrong. Give We Were Never Here a listen here and, while your at it, tune into Radio Phoenix on Wednesday night from 7-8PM to catch us live with Sweetbleeders.

2The Blood Feud Family Singers 

No Moon 

The gritty songwriting style of Daryl Scherrer meets punkgrass-infused Americana in The Blood Feud Family Singers. If that isn’t enough to sell you on this new Valley act, maybe we shouldn’t hang out. The band released their debut album at Last Exit Live last month. If you missed out, you still have a chance to get on the BFFS bandwagon. No Moon opens with “Following the Sun”, setting a lively pace for this brooding exposition on life and love. “Lonely Night”, the second track, moves toward the mellow and pensive before “French Wife” kicks the energy back up for a for a murderous, bar ballad. “Lay Me Down, Let Me Down” continues this thread of thoughtfully constructed songs with a nod to the literary, each track its own tale of woe and disappointment. This is an album to sink down into so prepare to spend some time with No Moon. “The Name of Love” could easily have been a bar stool story from some Sam Shepard play. “Sepia Song” is a desert track for the hard-hearted tinged with desert psychedelia while “Old” has more of an old-timey folk feel. “Let’s Go” is a personal favorite and reminds me of another Valley mainstay, The Haymarket Squares. No surprise considering Marc Oxborrow is heavily featured in both projects. Both Oxborrow and Scherrer seem to share an aesthetic similarity that can be heard on No Moon. And, just in case you haven’t figured out the pervading themes of the album, “Let Me Believe in Your Body” offers a nice summation. As the song states, “I don’t believe in love, I don’t believe in duty….What I believe in is the way we ache at beauty and in the pains we take to drag that beauty down”. Listen to (and purchase) No Moon from The Blood Feud Family Singers here. You might cry but you won’t be sorry.

3The Butterscotch Cathedral

The Butterscotch Cathedral

The Butterscotch Cathedral presents a stellar concept album in three tracks. This new project from Tucson’s Matt Rendon (Resonars, Lenguas Largas) plays homage to some of the great musical works of the 60s and 70s including bands like The Who and The Beach Boys (think Pet Sounds or Smile). Joining the ranks alongside Rendon (music) are the talents of Chris Ayers (words) and Jim Waters (sound). The first track (and side), “Side A”, clocks in at just over 18 minutes and offers listeners a dynamic history of psychedelia. The track moves from retro pop to dreamy seascapes and back again. “Side A” meanders through a changing field of sounds to create an experience similar to listening to a traditional LP comprised of many different tracks; the difference is the fluidity that unites all the varying parts into alliance. “Loud Heavy Sun”, the shortest track on the s/t debut, kicks off the second half of the record. Heavy drums and driving guitars meet psychedelic harmonies on the aptly-named “Loud Heavy Sun” before “Lisa’s Dream” sends the listener into sun-drenched soundscapes. Much like “Side A”, “Lisa’s Dream” extends for more than seventeen minutes of effervescent, experimental pop. The Butterscotch Cathedral is available on vinyl-only through Trouble In Mind Records here. If you act fast, you might be able to secure a limited-edition copy in butterscotch yellow.

3 Rad Releases You Don’t Want to Miss

Hucklebery - YabYum Music & ArtsHuckleberry

Problems

Huckleberry lands somewhere toward the Americana side of the indie spectrum with their mild-mannered, desert-infused rocknroll. Their much anticipated follow-up to 2013’s Fine Highway dropped in September. Problems offers listeners eight tracks of Huckleberry gold for fans new and old. The album opens with “Trouble is Real” which reveals the band has subdued those alt-country tendencies that defined their first album without losing that down-home flavor entirely. The pensive “Rainy Season” follows offering a unique characterization in an easy-going melody. “Rolled a Ranger” provides a humorous slant on a bad day while tracks like “Steady Time” and “Under Your Spell” have a drowsy, sanguine feel like drinking a couple cold beers on a warm day. “Echo”, the closing track, might be my favorite from Problems. The song incorporates droney harmonies that add an interesting element to the crisp yet amiable sound. Jalipaz over at Audioconfusion did a particularly bang up job on this one. You can catch Huckleberry live on Nov. 20th at Casa Lounge in Tempe. Until then, enjoy Problems here where it is available for preview and purchase.

 

Scattered Melodies - YabYum Music & ArtsScattered Melodies

Modern Repair

Perhaps you remember the reggae-rocking, rhythmic partnership of Josh Montag and Jake Johnston, also known as Scattered Melodies? For each recording endeavor, Scattered Melodies invites a host of their talented friends to take part in the process. They released Collective Agreement back in 2013 and now they’re back with their latest encapsulation of some of local music’s finest.  Modern Repair kicks off with a clip of Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator, offering the first indication that this is more than an album, it is social commentary. By the time the gang vocals kick in on “Sunset Choir”, the opening track, you know you’re in for something special. Modern Repair sounds as fun as it must have been to make, but it carries a serious message; a message of change. The album included more than 30 artists including Anamieke (Treasurefruit), Danny Torgersen (Captain Squeegee), Chelsey & Robert of Fairy Bones, Ruca, Chaz Fertal (The Hourglass Cats), The McDaniels (Pride Though Strife), Jay Nottingham and Phelan Parker of The Wiley Ones, even a string quartet featuring members of the Phoenix Symphony. Rather than creating a muddled soup, the result of too many cooks, Modern Repair is a cohesive collection that covers an array of topics from national security and the media to community-building and the importance of fact-checking your sources. At fourteen tracks, Scattered Melodies made sure their album was worth the wait. Modern Repair is available for preview and purchase here.

 

03The Blue Rider

Year of the Horse

This little gem of an EP from Denver’s The Blue Rider almost slipped right past me and that, dear readers, would have been terrible. Year of the Horse is five high-energy tracks of garage rock good times. Don’t let the album cover fool you. This is more feisty than folksy. The title track starts the album with some bluesy grit and you can begin to discern the psychedelic air that adds some dynamic textures to the EP. The organs on “Color My Brain” add a retro-revival flair; a nod to psychedelia of days past. The third track, “Rattlesnake”, has that authentic desert sound that makes me think the band would find themselves right at home here in the Ol’ Sonoran (hint for future tour plans). “Chamomile Light”, the closing track, contends with “Rattlesnake” for my personal favorite on Year of the Horse. This song gets downright trippy. Rumor has it, the LP is in the works and I, for one, couldn’t be more excited. We’re hoping to hear that sooner than later, this time. Check out Year of the Horse by The Blue Rider here and join me in the anxious wait for the full-length.

3 Super Cool New Releases

Katterwaul

15 Forever

I’ve been hooked on the bluesy garage rock of Tucson’s Katterwaul ever since 2014’s Desert Kats crossed my path. Their freshman release was going to be difficult to top but Katterwaul comes through with high shine on 15 Forever. From the gritty rocknroll of the opening track, “Sacred Thing”, the album moves into the slow-down, but no less powerful, title track. The album has some spaced out, desert psychedelic moments infused into their brash yet soulful style. I suggest “Sound of my Name” if you’re looking for a clear example of this. Other tracks like “The Sister” show more of the band’s barroom brawl energy. Frontwoman Brittany Katter has that edgy coolness that emanates from everything she touches, most especially Katterwaul itself. Add to that the musical prowess of Ben Schneider on drums, Laura Horley on bass, and Jeff Lownsbury laying down some stellar guitar work. The new release was recorded by Jordan Prather of Commercial Appeal Records. We like to see the label keeping it eclectic with this new edition to its menagerie. If you head down to Tucson, there are plenty of chances to catch Katterwaul live. Let’s hope they’re planning some Phoenix shows in the not-too-distant future. Until then, you can preview and purchase 15 Forever (and see show dates) here.

 

PRO TEENS

PRO TEENS

The self-titled release from PRO TEENS has been a much-anticipated addition to my local music catalogue. Maybe that has something to do with the with the fact I’ve seen them perform more than a dozen times since their inception. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that they’ve gone against the contemporary current getting into the studio as soon as the band finishes writing their first few songs, so I’ve had to wait a little while for this one. The PRO TEENS full-length opens with “Control”, the first single from the album (which you can see the video for here). There is something dismally modern (and I mean that in a good way) about PRO TEENS’ retro-revamped style. Sometimes it seems like the music is moving towards you in sludgy waves, forsaking the crispness other artists pursue when incorporating a throwback trend. I think this is an interesting permutation on the retro-restyled bands that have been popping up on the scene of late. A little more honest if a little more hopeless. That being said, “One of these Days,” one of the album’s more optimistic tracks, is one of my favorites from PRO TEENS. Tracks like “Gjeez, Kjinny” and “Mona” have incorporated a bit of a lounge-act feel that I can definitely get behind while songs like “Lisa” and “Randal Can’t Handle” lean more to the surf-pop side of the beach blanket. Throughout the album there are subtle shifts in style that can be heard within the overarching PRO TEENS sound. Fans will not be disappointed. Listen to PRO TEENS by PRO TEENS here. I also suggest heading out to Valley Bar on Nov. 25th to catch the band live. Once again, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Harsh Mistress - YabYum Music & Arts Harsh Mistress

Harsh Mistress

The psychedelic garage pop of Tucson’s Harsh Mistress has an effervescent quality that lifts you out of the dredges of daily life. The album opens with “Black Moon” and I thought I was in for just another collection of resurgent rocknroll, albeit, a really rad collection. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that I had stumbled across something truly special. Harsh Mistress offers something refreshingly unique. Listen to “It’s A Bright Clear Day” and see if your life doesn’t get better. It’s hard to pick a favorite track although “Why Can’t You Be Serious?” and “Neva Hadda” are definitely in the running. “Static Castle” completes this nostalgia-tinged album with just the right amount of sentimentalism. Matt Rendon and Jeremy Schliewe are the musical partnership behind Harsh Mistress, two names those familiar with Tucson music might readily recognize from projects like The Resonars (Rendon) or The Freezing Hands (Schliewe), amongst other musical endeavors. Harsh Mistress’ self-titled debut is available on cassette from Burger Records here. The album is also available for preview and purchase through Bandcamp here. I guarantee it will get you dancing.

 

3 Effervescent Pop EPs

Harrison Fjord

Puspa in Space

I’ve just about had it with these kids and their pun-laden names. Thankfully, the upbeat, jazz-infused pop of Harrison Fjord quelled my initial irritation with their catchy future jams. These newcomers on the local scene just released their debut EP, Puspa in Space, this summer to a sold-out show at Crescent Ballroom. After the short intro appropriately titled “Are You Ready?”, Puspa in Space launches into the funky and dynamic powerhouse “How You Been”. “People I Meet”, the following track, is both the first single from the band and a personal favorite of mine. The forty-second transition through dreamspace called “Ecclesiastes” gives way to the almost eight minute closer. “Approximately 906 Miles” starts with a mellow jazzy rock that I would sooner call “spaced-out” than “smooth”. The track goes through many shifts in temperament without abandoning that unique Harrison Fjord style before submerging the listener is a strange sea of sound. You can catch Harrison Fjord at this year’s Apache Lake Music Festival so get your tickets if you don’t have them already. Until then, I suggest spending some time with Puspa in Space. The EP is available for preview and purchase here.

YabYum Music & ArtsMega Gem

Colors of the West: The Arrangements

The quirky Denver pop collective known as Mega Gem released a new EP in September that will lift your spirits starting with the opening notes. The album opens with “Water Filled Holes” and the orchestral pop will immediately make your ears happy. And, when the ears are happy, the soul is certain to follow. The second track, “Do Call me Romantic”, continues this same thread of upbeat and instrumental arrangements, but “Pretty Fingers”, the third track, has a more playful, folksy sound. “Mia’s Hum-Along” will have you doing just that while “Carousel” carries the nostalgia of childhood days passed on outdoor adventures. “Old Reckless” closes the EP on a dreamy note. While you’re listening to Colors of the West: The Arrangments, really take a moment to absorb the layers of sound that emerge from your speakers. With over forty musicians contributing to the arrangements found on Colors of the West, Mega Gem creates an instrumental EP that will stay with you as long as any annoying pop hook, but without, you know, the annoyance. Just a lasting impression of beauty. Listen to Colors of the West: The Arrangments by Mega Gem here and offer up your support.

YabYum Music & ArtsAsh Cashmere

Where the Snails Go at Night

The lofi bedroom pop of Ash Cashmere falls more to the dreamy side of the effervescent spectrum. The Flagstaff four-piece recently released their debut EP, Where the Snails Go at Night, which was recorded by Travis Coutts. The EP opens with “Oh Sister”, an excellent vehicle for introducing the combined vocal talents of Madelyn Byrd and Rose Clements who, together, sound like strange sisters trapped in the same dream. Possibly, your dream. “Sleeping In” follows with more gentle post-rock before “Sssuunnn” turns up the warmth without losing that sense of drifting through water that prevades all the tracks on the EP. “Greyling” closes the four-track release and while not my favorite song from the release, Ash Cashmere proves their willing to push their sound writing into the realms of the experimental. I’m excited to hear what else this band has in store. They’re definitely on the list of acts I want to check out live. Until then, I suggest delving into the dreamspace of Where the Snails Go at Night. Listen for yourself here.

 

3 New Releases You Should Check Out

YabYum Music & ArtsThe Wanda Junes

Hi Fi Record Album 

The Wanda Junes, those alt-country sweethearts from the Old Pueblo that first captured our hearts (and attention) with Live at Tempe Stallion Ranch, are back with a new full-length released through Flagstaff’s Emotional Response Records. The new record, efficiently titled Hi Fi Record Album, features some of the songs from their earlier release in addition to several new tracks. “Grand River Saloon” kicks off the album with a downhome-in-the-desert feel. The second track, “Two Birds”, says “I can’t wait to piss on your grave” in the prettiest way possible. The following song, “Bucket”, is a personal favorite I was first introduced to on Live at the Tempe Stallion Ranch. New favorites include “Miner” with its haunting vocals and the dusty number, “Ain’t Born Alone”. Hi Fi Record Album was recorded at Tempe’s 513 Recording and features Valley musicians Lonna Kelley and Matt Wiser in addition to the stellar cast of players that makes up The Wanda Junes. Preview (and purchase) the album here. It would definitely be worth the drive to Tucson on Sept. 19 to check out The Wanda Junes live for the album release. They’ll be performing along with Ex Cowboy and Louise Le Hir, two Tucson favs. More info on that event here. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until Nov. 6th when The Wanda Junes head to Phoenix to perform at Valley Bar. Mark your calendars!

 

YabYum Music & Arts - AZ Music BlogFlower Festival

Cry Baby 

The dreampop of Flower Festival definitely heads in a more effervescent direction than other shoegaze acts despite a tendency towards depressive lyrics. Cry Baby opens with “What a Sob Story” which makes the listener suddenly want to dance… until, that is, the lyrics sink in. Then a mixture of dancing and crying might be required. “I Don’t Matter” is both lyrically sparse and poignant, offering listeners a meditative experience; mellow and spaced out yet strikingly beautiful. Overall, the EP could be described as such but the underlying theme of self-depreciation makes the music a little too self-conscious to be truly meditative. The excessive modesty extends beyond Cry Baby  to the band’s public announcements of the EP and subsequent singles and videos. For example, Flower Festival annouced through Facebook a “new video for my lame new song” or “dumb new album. cry baby.” The affectation seems a little contrived at times and threatens to downplay the album by presenting more of a gimmick than an authentic of expression of self, but once you listen to Cry Baby you get swept along in the sea of doubt set to the rhythms of dreamy and compelling music. I definitely recommend giving Cry Baby a listen for yourself. You can preview and purchase the new EP from Flower Festival here.

 

Dirt Moon - YabYum Music & Arts - AZ Music BlogDirt Moon

When We Were Animals

Dirt Moon achieves a striking balance of hard and mellow rock on their new EP, When We Were Animals. Melodic and dark, When We Were Animals secures Dirt Moon a place amongst my favorite local alt-rockers. The album opens with “Speechless” with the aggressive, grungy acoustic rock the Phoenix five-piece is known for, but with a totally pro recording. Fans of Dirt Moon got an early sampling of the second track, “Palinopsia/Wretched Tune”, back in February when the band released an earlier version of the track as a single. The new recording includes an extended piano outro and a slightly different name as well as a smoothed down sound that helps define the EP overallWhich leads me to this: the latest EP from Dirt Moon has a much more professional sound than previous releases. That’s not to say I wasn’t about 2013’s The Cover Story – I was – but I’m glad to see the band stepping it up. And When We Were Animals is a decided step in a good direction. The EP follows suit with early releases from the band and was recorded with a friend (Kyle Francis) at various houses around the Valley. With four of the five tracks on When We Were Animals clocking in at over four minutes (or five or six!), this EP is a hefty listen you’ll want to sit down with or, better yet, drive around listening to with the volume turned up. Get your hands on When We Were Animals (digitally speaking) from Dirt Moon here.