5 Fresh Indie Sounds

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Fairy Bones

“No One Can Suffer Like I Can” 

The alt-glam rockers known as Fairy Bones have been causing quite the stir in the Phoenix music scene since their very inception. Maybe that’s because they have a distinctive sound that’s difficult to cram into any of the niche compartments of the Valley Scene. Or maybe it’s because Chelsey Louise is one of the fiercest frontpeople to grace Phoenix stages. Personally, I think it’s because they keep getting better. Every release is better than the last so every time competitors think they might have stepped up to the playing field, they find they are back in the fairy dust. “No One Can Suffer Like I Can” is the latest installment of self-depreciating rock from the PHX 4-piece. It’s already locking down airtime and this might only be the beginning. Check out the new Fairy Bones’ single below or head here for that digi-download.

El West

“Cuba Gooding Jr.”

Wow. Do I feel like I missed the boat on El West or what? I mean I really feel like schmuck here. We try to tell everyone that good bands often get overlooked in the deluge of music we receive on a daily basis and El West is the perfect example of this unavoidable pitfall of publications. Not every band gets the attention they deserve and El West deserves your attention. Their latest single, “Cuba Gooding Jr.”, is a serious song with a strange name. El West presents pristine musicianship and powerful vocals for a track that could easily take over the airwaves. “Cuba Gooding Jr.” comes to us from the band’s latest EP, Mainstay, which came out earlier this month (6/16). Give the new single from El West a spin below or head here to score your own copy of Mainstay.

Orchin

“I Think I”

There is a dreamlike quality to the soundscape created by Orchin on their new single, “I Think I,” which came out last month. Soft-spoken vocals drift over pensive dreampop that gains momentum as the track progresses without sacrificing that contemplative air. Orchin calls L.A. home but the act will be passing through Phoenix later this month. You can catch Orchin at The Trunk Space on June 30th with Femny, Model/Actriz, James Band, and Sun Hex (more info here). That sounds like a show you should put on your calendar. Until then, give “I Think I” from Orchin a spin below or head here to score your own copy of the single.

The National Parks

“Places”

The Utah indie-folk band known as The National Parks has an easygoing sound certain to lift your spirits. Their latest single “Places” just came out earlier this month and it’s already enjoying repeat listens down at #YabYumHQ. Check out the lyric video for “Places” here or head over to iTunes to get that digi-download of the track for your personal playlists and throw the artists some support. Of course, you can preview the single from The National Parks down below first…

The Happy Fits

“Dirty Imbecile”

This chipper ditty comes to us from New Jersey indie rockers, The Happy Fits, from their 2016 EP, Awfully Apeelin’. Anytime we’re dealing with a cello-driven melody on a song, I’m going to want to see what’s happening and The Happy Fits don’t let us down. Their sound is fresh, fun, and catchy enough to stick with you all through summer. You can preview “Dirty Imbecile” below or head here for the complete EP.

 

Dry Noise Zine & the Yuma Music Scene [Interview with Mat Crawford]

dry noise 02
All photos courtesy of Dry Noise

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Apparently, YabYum might be slacking on the Yuma front. Sure, we can rattle off Phoenix or Tucson bands or any one of a host of other Arizona cities, but Yuma, it seems we owe you an apology.

Thankfully, the good people of Dry Noise zine stepped forward to fill us in on the city that they call home. Mat Crawford, co-editor & co-creator, of Dry Noise was kind enough to talk to us about the scene, the zine, and all things musical in Yuma.

YabYum: Is Dry Noise staffed by a team or is more an effort of few/one with contributing writers?

Mat Crawford for Dry Noise: Dry Noise is run by myself and Trina Elam. Together we handle all of the transcribing, design, and curation of the content. All of the artwork for each issue comes from a different artist in our community. We do welcome all submissions from anyone who wants to contribute, and have published submitted poems and columns.

Mat and Trina
What is the area of focus for the zine? Music? More than music? Music specific to a location or genre?

We try to focus on topics related to mainly music and any kind of visual art. We knew there were a lot of very creative people and bands in our hometown and wanted to showcase them in a creative way.

As a musician who grew up in a kind of small town, I’ve always been really interested in how artistic types work, and how they relate to their communities. So we started talking to our friends and bands around us, and grew from there.

One of our main goals is to show how diverse the art and music is in our community, so we try to focus on anything generally music, art, and/or southwest related.

dry noise 04How many issues have you released thus far?

In May, we put out our 9th official issue of Dry Noise. We try to release an issue about once a month. We also put out our first compilation album in November 2016, and a special mini-issue on the annual In-Tents Festival, a punk-rock music festival out in the Picacho Desert.

Can you tell me a little about the Yuma music scene?

The overall community that exists here is fantastic. Though most groups kind of keep to themselves, almost everyone is incredibly supportive of each other. Since not a lot of larger acts come through here, people tend to really appreciate all the shows they do get.

dry noise crew 02Are certain genres more heavily represented than others?

While some genres come in waves (I think every community has experienced a ska phase at one time or another), there’s definitely a few that have stuck around.

The punk scene and metal/hardcore scene have stuck around for a while. They both have very tight communities who come out to almost every single show. I think Yuma is somewhat of a working-class town, and the people in those communities just like having a place to relax or relieve stress.

There is also a decent amount of reggae bands around, as well as cover/tribute bands.

dry noise 06What are your favorite spots to catch live music?

Currently, some of the best shows take place at Maverick Bar and The Alement. Us at Dry Noise are big supporters of all-ages shows, and we have started hosting our own all-ages shows at North End Coffeehouse, a really cool, small cafe in an old historic building. Littlewood Artist Co-op has also been hosting really great all-ages events lately too.

But some of the greatest shows that have ever happened in Yuma have been at Prison Hill, a small public park near the famous Yuma Territorial Prison. It has been the main source of the best DIY shows in Yuma for many years, and almost all genres have performed there.

Any stellar bands we should know about?

Honestly too many. Samsara, Venkman’s Ghost, Lazarus Threw The Fight, Plebeian Planet, Working Mutts, Glitterfoot – all really great bands still going strong from Yuma, AZ. We have a growing directory of bands and musicians that are active in our community at drynoise.tumblr.com/directory.

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For more Dry Noise check out their Facebook page.

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5 Rad Rock Singles: From Alt to Indie

rad rock singles 000by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Genre

“A Change is Gonna Come”

Two Phoenix favorites – Genre and Snailmate – released a split EP back in April with this angsty number thrown into the mix. “A Change is Gonna Come” is a dynamic alt-rock hit in the making and the four feisty tracks on the Snailmate & Genre Split offer up some stiff competition on the stand-out-single front. On the one hand, you have the frantic nerdcore hiphop of Snailmate. And, on the other, the dynamic angst-ridden alt-rock of Genre. Thankfully, you don’t have to make the choice. Head in for Genre and stick around for Snailmate… or vice versa. It’s all good and will serve your spirits well. Check out “A Change is Gonna Come” below or head here to score the complete EP.

Wildera

“The Only”

The musical duo behind Wildera recount a great tale of predestination. Rusty Redden and Loren Moore both grew up in the same Dallas suburb, but it wasn’t until they sat next to each other on the flight that would take them cross-country to attend the Berklee College of Music. They became bunkmates and, eventually, collaborators. Now reunited in Los Angeles, Redden and Moore release their catchy brand of alt-rock as Wildera. Driving guitars and disinterested vocals give “The Only” a hip feel that could really take hold with modern listeners everywhere. Give the new single from Wildera a spin below or get that digi-download here.

Lenina Crowne

“Know”

This new single from Lenina Crowne has easygoing indie-rock sound that pairs perfectly with summer. This five-piece from State College [PA] creates a nostalgic atmosphere with the crisp musicianship reminiscent of early indie rockers of the pre-grunge fuzz-free era. “Know” makes me think of pool parties and Otter Pops and creekside hikes that end at a familiar swimming hole. That’s an indie rock sound we could all stand to hear a little more of. Give “Know” from Lenina Crowne a listen below or get the three-track EP from whence it came here.

Spencer Anthony 

“Happy Pills”

Spencer Anthony has a bit some pop-punk festiveness thrown into the alt-rock sound that keeps the energy (and the angst) turned up for “Happy Pills”. One might even go so far to say that Anthony has some emo leanings that come through in his vocals – both in the lyrics and their delivery. “Happy Pills” comes to us from Spencer Anthony’s debut EP, Words To Hide Behind, which dropped in April. Give the single a listen below and then move on to the complete EP here.

Vero

“Hello”

How to describe the sound of Vero? Industrial funk? Alt-pop? Whatever it is, the funky get-down sound of Vero has a gritty edge to it that we really dig here. The Swedish 3-piece released their debut single, “Hello”, earlier this month and you’ll be able to hear some 90s-reminiscent permutations in the soundscape on this track that make it particularly catchy. Let Vero say “Hello” to you with their single below…

The Noise Floor: Wild Holiday

wild holiday 01by Chris Nunley
Staff Writer

Call me a crotchety old man, but I long for the days of how music was released before the almighty EP.

I mean I get it, attention spans aren’t what they used to be thanks to glorious technology. The way music is produced and distributed for the consumer massive has become more dizzying than the heady days of Chip Kelly coaching the “Quack Attack” offense. (“We’re gonna get up to the line and just run a play! JUST run a play! GO-GO-GO!”) Yeeeeaaahhhh… the toxic side effect of this trend is that a lot of sludge gets released into the world.

This is sort of the case with Wild Holiday’s two EP’s I Was Abducted Last Night and Television Diary. Had someone burned these 9 songs between the two releases onto one CD and given it to me, I would’ve just assumed it was all from one album. And they should be in my opinion. There’s a grainy cohesiveness within the body of work that would pass as a full length record. I guess I’m just annoyed that I had to click on two separate links to listen… yes, I’m being crotchety.

Starting with IWALN, this batch of songs hauntingly reminds me of why I’m thankful I live in the 602 and not the 206 anymore. The dank chiptune charm of “I Took Acid At A Friend’s House” and lo-fi indie “Thinking About My Funeral” sound like what happens when vitamin D deficiency sets in and you’re looking out to overcast skies from your overpriced bedroom window.

“Everyday Is The Worst Day of My Life” could very well be an ode to coffee and its effects during the work week, while “Video Games In The Attic” makes for the perfect transition to the follow-up EP.

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Television Diary was more interesting to me thanks to the noisy and dark “Graveyard I, II, & III” tracks. Truth be told, they kinda pissed me off that they were so short because they had the potential to evolve into more expansive compositions. But…not my circus, not my fleas.

The gloomy yet beautiful “Basement Song” is the most clean sounding, giving us the chance to really hear the tortured vocals of the project’s lone member, Alec West.

The surfer-esque “Planetary Expedition” drowns out the doom and gloom with fuzzy guitars and saturated drums, as our protagonist rides the crest of psychedelic wave “searching to get high”.

Although I wish these two EP’s would be one LP, this is solid work from the Memphis-to-Phoenix transplant. The variation in volume, texture and distortion with all the tracks has a nice Julie Ruin feel. It’s what folk-y bedroom lo-fi should sound like, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now hurry up and make another record! Just get to the studio and make another record! GO-GO-GO!

~

Check out Wild Holiday on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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Artist Spotlight: The Upper Strata

upper strata neon glitz 01The Upper Strata set to release new album with versatile, profound new sound

by Matt Marn
Contributing Writer

Performing duo (and recent Arizona residents) The Upper Strata has undergone many style and identity changes over the past several years, both as performers and in their offstage lives. But while their tone and perspective has changed, their sound is still as original, profound, and enjoyable as ever. Their newest album, Neon Glitz, is a perfect example.

Like other recent The Upper Strata releases, Johnny Sanchez and Regula Sanchez-Schmid have branched out from the duo’s rootsy, Americana-folk origin, instead giving Neon Glitz a versatile style all its own.

“I don’t tend to turn influences or inspiration off,” said Jonathan Sanchez. “If a sound or lyrics pop into my head, I simply record them and use them, and am grateful to have them. I don’t usually say, ‘Oh, no; I can’t do a blues song or a dance song.’ If that’s what seems to be developing, I let it happen.”

The variety in tone on The Upper Strata’s new album, as well as its imagery and subject matter, is inspired largely by their new home in the Pacific Northwest. Jonathan and Regula have recently relocated from their former home in Phoenix to Portland, Oregon, and shortly after began writing songs for this album while exploring their new environment.

The move away from Phoenix has proven a significant, sometimes intimidating change, but some of that same tone and spirit is now reflected in the tracks of Neon Glitz, so the duo seems to be putting that emotion to good use as inspiration.

“Music with risk and danger is always more real and exciting to me,” Sanchez said. “Neon Glitz is talking about that connection to sneaking out as a teen to go experience live music, or getting into dance clubs to get sweaty and lost in the music.”

Experiencing the music, and getting lost in the message, is one of The Upper Strata’s areas of expertise. Neon Glitz, like other Upper Strata albums before it, does not fit into one specific musical genre or style, but touches on many along the way. The album uses each one to help weave together the experience – the overall message – Neon Glitz works to convey… both caution and celebration, addressing both how short and fragile – yet also how beautiful – human life truly is.

True to Sanchez’s love for music with risk and danger, Neon Glitz tackles a staggering number of philosophical issues – as well as human doubts and fears – and brings them to the lyrical forefront. In the first track of the album, “Time,” the lyrics of the song address what the group calls the biggest theme any human can ever comprehend: our limited time on this planet. And while the gravity of the subject matter refuses to let up along the way, the album adds in a variety of those many genres and music styles, helping them paint new strokes of the same picture, but in new ways.

Moving on from the Middle-Eastern flavor and big dance beat of “Time,” the pair of songs that follow serve as two parts of the same message. “Garden Wall” contains dub elements, mixed in with accordion and mystical lyrics, followed by the club-sound induced “Beyond,” which serves as part two of the imagery the pair of songs works to convey.

“Thematically, the image of the garden in art and literature is both a fertile womb and a place of security,” Sanchez said of the two songs. “The most common symbol of this is the Garden of Eden. By stating that we need to go beyond the garden wall, the songs suggest it is inherently human to choose our own destiny and leave paradise, or the womb.”

The title track of Neon Glitz is dedicated to the artistry and life of David Bowie. The song has elements inspired by Bowie’s music, yet the song is its own creature. The song’s lyrics, including the lines, “ Going down, wrong side of town, where the sound is king, and we bow in the presence of the thing,” note both Bowie himself, as well as the original draw that music had on Sanchez, personally.

“I have always been attracted to music from the wrong side of the tracks – from gritty punk to raw blues in some sketchy juke joint, or reggae down at the port of Tampa in some illegal club,” he said. He said that idea, that pull toward the wrong side of town to hear and see underground music is central to the album, as well as the song.

The next two songs, “Sweet Distraction” and “Willow” are new-wave inspired dance tracks. The lyrics of “Sweet Distraction” address the way love can shelter you from the harsh and cruel aspects of life. “Willow,” however, is about the opposite – the way sometimes you can love someone, and never get that love back.

“Lighthouse” has a different feel – a style Sanchez calls cinematic and bluesy. The song observes how a partner in a relationship can provide shelter… or actually be the storm: “You and I form a bittersweet island, surrounded by a sea of orphan tears; we huddle against our deep, dark fears… Sometimes I’m your lighthouse, sometimes I’m the raging sea.”

Sanchez said the final track from Neon Glitz plays like a Motown and R&B jam. “Line” is ultimately about realizing what solace and support you give and receive in a relationship.

“Frankly, it was a rough year,” Sanchez said. “Several of the songs, including ‘Line,’ are about finding peace, optimism, and strength in bleak situations.”

As a husband and wife creative team, Sanchez noted the music of Neon Glitz forms a journal of the relationship. On this album, Johnny is often singing something pessimistic, while Regula is singing a positive answer. This motif helps symbolize the way partners support each other in life, both physically and emotionally – and, in the case of The Upper Strata, also creatively.

And, as Sanchez referenced, that mutual support has truly led Johnny and Regula through both good times and struggles, particularly in the last year. Sanchez said the album is being released later than planned, as Regula recently suffered a brain aneurysm while visiting abroad, requiring brain surgery.

“She is an amazing lady – as any husband should say of his wife,” Sanchez said of Regula. “But to survive an aneurysm and come back to making music is miraculous, really.”

Sanchez said his wife still has some difficulties, and it has influenced their music, as referenced in “Sweet Distraction” with the line, “Too many hospitals, too little healing,” which Sanchez said they had endured, for sure.

“’Time,’ and the two-part songs ‘Garden Wall’ and ‘Beyond’ are about being bound to this world by our limited mortal shells, and learning to go beyond them,” he said. “All of the medical nightmares we went through last year definitely made that longing more intense – especially when you feel it is your soul mate that might not have long to live, or might not survive all of the procedures and tests to keep her in this world.”

For a journal telling the story of a relationship, The Upper Strata’s newest album, Neon Glitz is profoundly developed. It tackles not only styles and genres rarely blended together (let alone, so fluently), but also addresses in its lyrics issues and concepts many are afraid to even consider.

But here – in this contemplative, exploratory space – is where husband and wife team Johnny Sanchez and Regula Sanchez-Schmid truly shine in their music as The Upper Strata. With new styles, new uses of vocal synthesizers and instrumental layering, and deeper lyrics and messages to discover inside each track, Neon Glitz is truly an album with a style all its own – promising something new with each listen.

~

Digitally released May 5, the limited edition vinyl of Neon Glitz will be released July 7, 2017 and is pressed by Cascade Record Pressing in Portland, OR. For more info check out The Upper Strata on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

7 Stellar Songwriters You Need to Know

songwritersThe SunPunchers

“Screwtop Head”

The SunPunchers released two singles in prelude to their new EP which comes out THIS WEEKEND. These songs have a sticky summer warmth, like laying on a screened-in porch on a day buzzing with mosquitoes. There is an aesthetic here of sun tea and swimming holes brought to life through stunning, and stunningly demure, musicianship. The release show goes down at The Newton on May 20. Once you hear “Screwtop Head” from The SunPunchers, I can’t imagine that there’s anywhere else you’ll want to be this coming Sunday. More info on that event can be found here.

Violetta Zironi

“Half Moon Lane”

Wait until you hear the ethereal voice of 21-year-old Italian singer/songwriter Violetta Zironi. It’s not just her voice that enchants listeners of “Half Moon Lane” but the charming narrative of her songwriting style.  The single has a stripped-down sound reminiscent of those swan-throated folk musicians of the 1970s like Vashti Bunyan. Just part my hair down the middle and wrap me in an afghan and I could listen to “Half Moon Lane” from Violetta Zironi all afternoon. I certainly hope to hear more from this artist soon.

Tuelo

“Saint Margaret”

“Saint Margaret” kicks off with just a minimal guitar line and the soulful voice of Tuelo Minah. That’s actually all you need. But, as the underlying instrumentation picks up, Tuelo continues to drive the single with those powerful pipes of hers. The song pays tribute to Minah’s mother in a way that I find both empowering and tinged with a certain sorrow that I feel many women hold for the experiences of our mothers. “Saint Margaret” by Tuelo is emotionally moving and sonically compelling so I suggest you check the single below…

Luca Chesney

“Maria, Promise Me the Next Life”

There are some really interesting things happening in the subtle sound permutations on “Maria, Promise Me the Next Life”; the new single from NYC-based singer, songwriter, and producer Luca Chesney. This alt-electro track is a disembodied but emotionally textured journey. “Maria, Promise Me the Next Life” is the first single from Chesney’s s/t debut EP. I’m hoping to get my hands on that release sometime soon. In the meantime, enjoy this new single from Luca Chesney.

Madeleine Dopico

“Me to Bleed”

This isn’t the first time we’ve featured the music of Madeleine Dopico in our publication and I’m starting to think that we’re going to build a lasting relationship. The promising young songwriter crafts emotionally powerful soundscapes that she meets head on with her robust voice. On “Me to Bleed”, Dopico creates a haunting atmosphere for her brooding lyrics and manages to throw in just the right amount of dramatic flair to keep things interesting. That’s a combo a mortician’s daughter like myself can get behind in her pop music.

Bradford Loomis

“Drive You Home”

Bradford Loomis (of The Banner Days) dropped his first solo album since 2013 in March. Bravery and the Bell features this gem of a single, “Drive You Home”. Loomis penned the album after learning that his father was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. The soulful sound of Bradford Loomis’ folk style comes through with an earthy Americana that feels like it could easily find a home in Nashville, but the artist calls Washington (state… not that other one) home. Check out “Drive You Home” from Bradford Loomis here…

 Arpeggi

“Songs Don’t Help”

The Los Angeles songwriter who pens somber ditties under the name Arpeggi released her debut album, Senioritis, around this time last year. On that album, you’ll find “Songs Don’t Help” which delves into those Bell Jar moments when nothing seems to push back the skulking clouds of depression – not friends, not love, not even music (gasp). If you like your indie music stripped down and brooding, I suggest checking out “Songs Don’t Help” from Arpeggi. Or head here for the complete album.

7 Rowdy Singles from Around the World

Lauren Ruth Ward

“Blue Collar Sex Kitten”

Usually it’s Lauren Ruth Ward’s sultry Americana swagger that has us all wound up, but this week it looks like Ward is ready for rowdy and rocking. “Blue Collar Sex Kitten” is the latest hit to come out the songwriting partnership between L.A.-based musicians LRW and guitarist Eduardo Rivera. There’s so much sass on this single, you’re going to want to skip it on the drive to work and save it for that cruise home… unless, of course, you want to arrive at your job ready to burn the whole fucking place down. Consider that your warning.

The Great Malarkey

“Gaffa”

London-based band The Great Malarkey dares to ask the question, “Why did the Irish artist, the Canadian surfer, the Portuguese London tour guide, the Gloucestershire gardener, two UK Guild Hall students, a Latvian paralegal and an androgynous cockney, walk into a bar?” Apparently, the answer is create some riotous folk punk of orchestral proportions. Of course, with eight members listed as part of The Great Malarkey, I would imagine this band brings the party every time they show up to perform. If you dig “Gaffa” (and you will), I suggest checking out more of the online musical offerings The Great Malarkey released last month (here).

Sturdy Ladies

“Secret Weapon”

This garage rock trio from PHX adds some colorful kitsch to their punk rock punch bowl. Yes, Sturdy Ladies throw out the feisty fun on “Secret Weapon” that will have you shouting along so you might want to consider your location before you smash that play button. Luckily you’ll get your chance not once but twice. Not only are the Sturdy Ladies playing this Saturday, May 13, at the Yucca Tap they’re also opening for Shonen Knife (from Osaka, Japan) on May 24 with Shovel and The Pübes! More on that event here. Until then, spend some time with “Secret Weapon” and also their campy classic, “Cat Olympics“, available online as well. Both singles comes to us from the Sturdy Ladies’ debut EP, Brut Force, which you should pick up at a one of the previously mentioned shows because, so far, that’s the only place you can get ’em. Enjoy.

Dolly Spartans

“It’s Not Easy”

Okay, so when “It’s Not Easy” kicks off, you’re probably going to worry that I might be confused about what the word “rowdy” means, but give it a minute. The NYNY quartet known as the Dolly Spartans turn up the energy and the angst for this indie rock single. The vocals call to mind club scene kids like The Strokes while the accompanying instrumentation has an emo tinge that reminds me a bit of Jimmy Eat World. This single comes to us from the band’s latest EP, Time Sides with No One, which came out last month. Give “It’s Not Easy” by the Dolly Spartans a spin below…

Round Eye

“Billy”

Shanghai-based act Round Eye is comprised of “American ex-pats and Italians” which might seem like a bit of a metropolitan muddle, but rocknroll is a transcendent language that cold-crushes culture divides. “Billy” has a feisty punk energy and catchy hook that might just lodge into your brainspace and never leave again. Twenty years from now, a routine traffic stop could result in you screaming “Billy was a cop! Billy was a cop! Billy, Billy, Billy, Billy!” if you let the music of Round Eye take hold. And you definitely want to.

Annabel Allum

“Eat Greens”

Britain’s Annabel Allum first landed on our radar with her single, “Rich Backgrounds”, and this new single proves Allum is more than a one-trick pony. She has some chops. “Eat Greens” rips into that impetus toward better health that hits many of us as we move toward full-time adulting, but the song is more about finding balance than just clever witticisms. Allum has a gritty sound and a dry tongue that reminds me of Courtney Barnett. “Eat Greens” came out on April 28 through Killing Moon Records. Give the new single a spin below and, if you haven’t already, check out “Rich Backgrounds” from Annabel Allum as well.

Otherkin

“Bad Advice”

The Irish rockers known as Otherkin have some “Bad Advice” to offer up to fans. The four-piece describes their sound rather accurately as “Grunge Pop” so I could easily seeing them sharing a bill with Phoenix favorites like Fairy Bones or maybe Harper and the Moths.  This single comes to us from the band’s forthcoming debut album. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get our grubby mitts on that release in the not-too-distant future. Until then, enjoy “Bad Advice” from Otherkin…

7 Stellar Singles: The Neo-Soul Edition

Neo-Soul 00

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Wallace

“Diaspora”

I don’t even know where to begin with New Zealand’s Wallace. I mean, should I start with the jazzy vocals that floats atop “Diaspora” or that funky soup of sound that simmers underneath? It’s all so good. Wallace describes her sound as “future soul” and I certainly hope there’s a predictive element in that tag. Wallace teamed up with Sydney-based producer and vocalist Crooked Letter to create “Diaspora” using samples from Nigerian funk music. Check out the new single from Wallace below and keep watch for her debut EP later this year!

Frank Affer

“The Times”

Frank Affer teamed up with his brother to give shape to his forthcoming debut EP, L U V S O U N Z. “The Times” is just a little sampling from that album. Blurring the line between melodic rap and pop, Frank Affer drops his breezy lyrics over a subtle but sprightly beat.  The track definitely goes in for some of that radio-ready production, but it doesn’t feel heavy-handed. Not at all. “The Times” keeps things easygoing, but that doesn’t stop it from getting stuck in your brain space. This is a promising start for Frank Affer. Give “The Times” a spin below…

OsagieTheGreat

“The Water Song”

Richmond’s OsagieTheGreat takes a simple, kickback beat and shapes out a smooth summer single with “The Water Song”. Just like its straightforward moniker, “The Water Song” doesn’t go for an overly-embellished sound. No need to church things up when you’ve got a good thing going. The single was produced by Daghe and was released earlier this month so it still has that new car smell. Make sure you check out “The Water Song” from OsagieTheGreat below…

Afrikan Boy

“LITW”

Afrikan Boy (AB) gets personal on his new single, “LITW”. Recounting the story of his parents, from their initial meeting to their relocation to the United Kingdom. The single starts with a bit of whimsical guitar work, but the story carries a serious tone that matters the implications of its message. Don’t go into “LITW” expecting an easy hook and endlessly repeated lyrics. AB turns the focus inward with his lyrical prowess on “LITW”. Give the single a spin here…

Sam Nicolosi

“Our Blood” 

Sam Nicolosi takes an R&B path to Neo-Soul. His new single, “Our Blood”, infuses soul, blues, hiphop, and commercial pop into one chill sound. The saying goes that blood is thicker than water, but what does that really mean when there’s no shared love? According to “Our Blood”, not much. This track comes from Nicolosi’s debut EP, Origins, which dropped in April. If you dig “Our Blood”, make sure you delve into the full five-track release.

Jonny Lemons

“Stay Alive”

Phoenix R&B artist Jonny Lemons infuses an assortment of other styles, from hiphop to indie, for a modern twist on Soul. His new single, “Stay Alive”, addresses the anguish of loss not only in the lyrics, but also with the poignant texturing on the production end thanks to Jonny Lemons and Ryan Daminson. The vocals move from ambient to a sharp and expressive rhyme style that reminds me of Sage Francis in the way it is real and raw. Give “Stay Alive” from Jonny Lemons a spin below…

MF Robots

“Come On with the Good Thing”

The London duo known as MF Robots revives the vivacity of disco with their neo-soul sound.  “Come On with the Good Thing” has it all: the percussion, the horns, the harmonies, even the cowbell. MF Robots demonstrates some sharp musicianship in this funky nod to the Age of Glitter. And, just in case you’re wondering, the name stands for “Music For Robots,” not that other MF. Get down to “Come on with the Good Thing” from MF Robots below…

7 Eclectic Summertime Singles

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by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Exxxtra Crispy

“Scumbag” 

Exxxtra Crispy might be a new band on the Tempe scene, but this rowdy bunch is comprised of some pretty prominent players. The band just dropped their debut album, They Don’t Think It Be Like It Is But It Do, on 4/20 which includes this sweet single. “Scumbag” kicks off with Latarian Milton talking up that hoodrat life before some “totally danceable minimalist-pop-power-funk/punk” takes over. This single is a superb example of that Exxxtra Crispy sound: smart sample selection, horns, and some seriously riotous punk vocals all smushed together. This band might just be for you if your idea of summer fun includes late nights, loud music, recreational drugs, and, well, you get it…. Smash that play button below and don’t forget to delve into the full Exxtra Crispy experience here.

moonweather

“Drying Out”

Moonweather might only count three official members amongst their ranks, but for the making of the new album, they called upon friends near and far until the list of participating artists and musicians became a bit too long to print. The band describes their sound as “kind of like Sufjan Stevens and Modest Mouse had a child they’re both disappointed in,” but I think moonweather harkens back to even earlier indie. “Drying Out” has a bit of a Pavement feel to me, particularly during the early part of the song. The single has a bit of a listless feel – you know, that lazy hazy feeling that you get on a sticky summer afternoon when you have nothing to do bit listen to records and stare at the ceiling fan. That is this song.

Call Me Karizma

“Zombie”

If you missed Call Me Karizma when they passed through Tempe back in March, you missed out but you can correct that with a little at-home listening. Call Me Karizma opts for a more pharmaceutical application of the term “Zombie” on their chill new single. This “emo-pop” number has a slouchy feel but the production is tight. That just might be the modern mode of psychedelia for the pill-poppin’ generation. Danceable and sometimes depressing. I dig it. Zone out to “Zombie” from Call Me Karizma below…

Cooper Claire

“Pedaling”

Michigan musician Cooper Claire wrote this indie ditty about riding a bike with a friend. How cute and summertime is that?! Claire takes us back to a a time “when friendship was effortless” and bicycles were our sole means of transport. There’s a lot of variance within the soundscape here so make sure you park it for the long-haul with “Pedaling” or, at the very least, hold out past the 90-second-mark when we catch that downhill speed.

Amariszi

“Va T’en Fou”

This riotous act from the Netherlands combines Balkan influences with klezmer, folk, pop, and even a touch of reggae. Yes, folks, you read that right. Their new single “Va T’en Fou” is just a taste of what can be expected from their new album, Babel Fish. I just love this track. “Va T’en Fou” feels like a gypsy riverboat party on the Seine in Paris. Amariszi is definitely one of those bands I want to see live so let’s hope they’re ready to talk U.S. tour.

Syntax Club

“Mississippi, Come and Take Me”

Despite the carcinogenic amount of sunlight in my early days, there’s a little bubble of nostalgia that gains extra glow when the weather warms. The Oklahoma City duo known as Syntax Club manages to capture that seasonal buoyancy in their beach pop sound on “Mississippi, Come and Take Me” despite their distance from the ocean. There’s carefree school-vacation feel on this single that calls for flipflops, cutoffs, and a boombox down by the river. Check out “Mississippi, Come and Take Me” by Syntax Club below…

The Apaches

“Pistoleros”

When it comes to The Apaches, don’t just stop at one song. My suggestion is to start with “Pistoleros” and then work your way through all of Musica Surfica Vol. III & IV; the followup to 2016’s Musica Surfica Vol. I & II, of course. In fact, you could just go all the way back to Vol. I  & II to partake of the complete set (thus far). The Apaches add a splash of desert garage to their beachy surf sound. If you’re getting ready to light the tiki torches and grill up some Sonoran dogs, The Apaches have your playlist covered. You can sample “Pistoleros”, the opening track from Vol. III & IV, or you can just head here to score that complete album.

Grammy Winning La Santa Cecilia Takes Center Stage At Tempe Center for the Arts

la santa cecilia 03by Nicole Royse
Arts Editor

La Santa Cecilia’s new album is a unique contemporary blend of traditional Mexican and Latin American music titled Amar y Vivir.

Ditching the traditional recording studio, they decided to pay tribute to their musical heroes by recording the entire album over a 5 day period live on the streets, in the bars, and at the parks of Mexico City.

Amar y Vivir is a brilliant 12-song album that truly captures the essence of Mexico, important musical collaborations, as well as its band members and their love for music. The band states that, “The visual album is an exploration of the bands roots and counts with the collaboration of the iconic Mexican singer Eugenia Leon, Chilean star Mon Laferte and the legendary Mariachi America amongst others.”

Kicking off the release of their new album is a brief tour this coming May including stops in California, Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. They will make their first stop however in Arizona at the beautiful Tempe Center for the Arts on Friday, April 14 at 7:30 PM.

la santa cecilia 01Featuring vocalist La Marisoul, accordionist/ requinto player Jose “Pepe” Carlos, bassist Alex Bendaña and percussionist Miguel “Oso” Ramirez and named after the patron saint of music, La Santa Cecilia seamlessly blend their Mexican and Latin influences with American Culture, creating a sound all their own and highlighting their tremendous pride and respect for Mexico and its culture.

Making powerful songs that are diverse, engaging, and vibrant showcasing captivating musical arrangements and commanding lyrics, this band understands the power and influence of music, not shying away from difficult topics such as immigration, migrant workers, environmental consciousness, and anti-violence. A beautiful example of this is their poignant rendition of “Strawberry Fields Forever”.

Their last album Buenaventura, showcased the band’s “gratitude for making music, traveling and performing throughout the world, and living a life filled with love and music” and went on to be nominated for a Latin Grammy in the Best Pop/Rock Album category. They also won a Grammy in 2014 in the “Best Latin Urban, Rock or Alternative” category for their full-length studio album Treinta Días.

Promising to be an unforgettable show, don’t miss an incredible evening with the talented band La Santa Cecilia this Friday, April 14 at Tempe Center for the Arts! Get your tickets here and check out a sneak peak of what to expect from La Santa Cecilia’s latest album Amar y Vivir and the creative process behind it with this recently released trailer below.

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Tempe Center for the Arts is Located at 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe 85251. All images are courtesy and copyright of La Santa Cecilia.

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