Radio Phoenix Podcast: Jason Woodbury

jason woodbury 001Mr. Jason Woodbury joined us in the war room that is the Radio Phoenix Studios and together we hashed out a musical takeover of epic proportions. OK, so that didn’t actually happen but we did discuss local music past and present. He also brought down some killer AZ tracks which we happily played over the internet airwaves and, as always, the complete playlist can be found below.

Now then, make sure to tune in every first and third Wednesday of the month at 7 PM for The YabYum Hour, only on radiophoenix.org.

Complete Playlist:

Billy Sedlmayr “Pan American Highway Blues”

koleżanka “Snow Cone Summer/Flyfishing”

Eric Bachmann/Jon Rauhouse “Camille”

A Technicolor Yawn “Blankets”

The Beans “Empty Shoes”

Karima Walker “We’ve Been Here Before”

Howe Gelb & Lonna Kelley “Terribly So”

Vernon Wray “Lonely Son”

Rainer “The Oasis”

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Recorded live on March 1, 2017

3 Awesome New Albums for Desert-Dwellers

desert-dweller 00by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Howe Gelb

The Open Road – Arizona Amp & Alternator

Singer-songwriter Howe Gelb is practically synonymous with the Tucson sound: something a little dusty and desolate. Back in February, Gelb released the aptly-titled album, The Open Road – Arizona Amp & Alternator, which offers fans a collection of singles and sketches reaching back over the past five years.

The Open Road kicks off with the title track opening the album which will bring a flush of the familiar for fans as that distinctively ambling alt-folk fills your ears. As far as favorites from the release goes, I love the noir vibe of “five star hotel” but I’m also quite taken with the closing track’s yarn about a gal called “jane by any other name”.  And, I can’t count out “left of center” which features Lonna Kelley as the guest vocalist.

Even the instrumentals on this album are wonderfully vivid; merging jazz-lounge ambiance with a bit of the beer’n’burlesque feel of the Wild West. This album meanders with surprising grace given that the tracks were pieced together over a such extended period. Then again, it’s in no way surprising if you’re familiar with Gelb’s extended body of work not only as a performer but also as a producer. As the weather moves toward sweltering, this is the perfect album to sink into in its entirety on those listless evenings spent waiting for the sun to set.

Robin Vining

Is There Someone for Everyone?

Phoenix songwriter and musician Robin Vining of Sweetbleeders fame released a collection of stripped down songs last month. Is There Someone for Everyone? really shows off Vining’s strengths as a songwriter and composer, moving from sprightly sea ballads to melodic musings on the nature of love. Each song stands on its own accord without a single instance of the filler I too often find on other albums.

There’s no picking a favorite song for me here.  The piano-driven title track feels like the perfect rainy day song while the intentionally sparse and powerfully desperate “Temptation” begs for repeated listens. And I do love the Western amble of “Watch Where You Step”. The trademark pliancy of Vining’s vocals come through in high shine on tracks throughout the album, particularly on “Wild at Heart” and “Ice Floes”. Bascially, music-lovers, you just need this album in your life.

Is There Someone for Everyone? is available for preview and purchase through Bandcamp, but the official release date is next month in Phoenix. More information on that event here.

The Lonesome Wilderness

Lush

The Lonesome Wilderness dropped their much-anticipated EP, Lush, at The Rogue in January and we were on hand to help celebrate the occasion. Lush offers up five tracks of desert garage rock that ignores any presumed division between alt and indie.

The EP opens with “Karma” which feels like it holds all the spiritual insight of a really great acid trip. The somber, and slightly sullen, “Alright” delivers just the right amount of angst before the energy gets turned up for illicit tale of “Murder in Chicago”.

The texturing gets downright trippy on “Stay Out of the Sun” but the band doesn’t rely on those extended post-rock tangents to fill out the EP. Although there are those moments too, this band has a Western sensibility that rises to the surface of their sound, even when the rocknroll comes in without all the textural flourishes usually found in over-abundance on “desert garage rock” releases. They keep things crisp, even when it gets fuzzy. “Nico”, the almost 5-minute closing track, is my late-to-the-game favorite from Lush. There’s a very “Chelsea Hotel No. 2”, folk-rock feel that gives way to modern modes of song construction (or Deconstruction).

As much as I love Lushthere’s nothing quite like the way The Lonesome Wilderness turns their tracks into a post-rock soup at their live performances. So, after you spend sometime with Lush, make sure you add The Lonesome Wilderness to your “Acts to See Live” list (we all have those, right?) if you haven’t done so already. Listen to Lush below…

7 Feisty New Singles

feisty New Singles 00

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Byron Hare

“Mary Efalump”

This garage rock number combines elements of blues and psych for a gritty sound that will stay with you long after you listen. “Mary Efalump” has the energy of a barroom brawl and a bit of a bad attitude – both of which serve to make the track just that much cooler. Don’t let the mellow intro lull you into thinking otherwise. This quintet out of Redditch (UK) recorded this single in a kitchen which so suits the raw power of “Mary Efalump”. Take the new single from Byron Hare for a spin below…

Beach Riot

“B.A.D.”

Well, hell yeah. Beach Riot doesn’t hold back on their new single, “B.A.D.” Right out the gate, the band starts hitting hard with its fuzzy alt-rock sound. Heavy guitars pair well with the restrained vocals. This London quartet sure knows how to pack a punch and apparently the aggression doesn’t stop with the rocknroll (see Twitter for proof). But you need the rowdy to make a Riot, right? Check out “B.A.D.” from Beach Riot below…

The Venomous Pinks

“Radar”

The feisty Tempe 4-piece known as The Venomous Pinks are gearing up to unleash a new EP through SquidHat Records out of Las Vegas. In prelude to that release, the Pinks offered up the single “Radar” – the closing track from the forthcoming EP, We Do It Better. These rowdy rockers have become a staple of the local punk scene so we’re always stoked to hear about a new album on the horizon. And this one looms ever-closer as that March 17th release date draws near. Head here to lock down that pre-order of We Do It Better from The Venomous Pinks. But, first, you can check out “Radar” below…

Ruby Bones

“Heart of Darkness”

I suppose I’ll listen to band that describes itself as, “Bruce Springsteen on cocaine after a few drags off a helium balloon.”  Their latest single, “Heart of Darkness”, certainly has a high energy charge, but my first thought wasn’t exactly Springsteen on cocaine. This NJ/Brooklyn band has all that raucous rocknroll energy mixed in with some of that NYsCene club-cool fuzz. Ruby Bones have a very modern indie rock sensibility that could easily carry the band to radio popularity. Check out “Heart of Darkness” by Ruby Bones below or head here for your own copy of the single so you can someday say you liked the band since that very first single (#streetcred).

Telempathy

“Dream Life”

If you miss those 90s grrrl rock singers like Juliana Hatfield or (early) Liz Phair, then you should definitely check out Telempathy. The singer-songwriter from Buffalo pairs brash guitars and lithe vocals for a spunky yet stripped-down sound. “Dream Life” is the second single from Telepathy’s debut release, Temple of Music, which is available through Soundcloud here. But, first, give “Dream Life” a listen below…

Iress

“Crown of Losers”

Few bands can nail brooding quite like Iress (formerly Iris). Chunky guitars and intentionally dispassionate vocals meet and merge on the band’s single, “Crown of Losers”, to create a melancholy atmosphere perfectly suited for all your inner angst. Formed near L.A. in 2010, Iress has been making their rounds on the city’s circuit and this year they’re planning on releasing their second EP. If you don’t yet know Iress, here’s your chance. Give “Crown of Losers” a spin below…

The Jesus Ponies

“Kar Krash”

The Jesus Ponies out of Tempe are gearing up for their debut release later this month and they released the single “Kar Krash” as a little taste of what’s to come. I must admit, the band has a pretty heavy sound for an album that’s titled Conditional Love Casino. The Jesus Ponies create an aggressive alt-rock that explores the borderlands near (without ever actually going full-on) metal. At least, not in this track. Give “Kar Krash” by The Jesus Ponies a listen below and then head here to secure that pre-order of the complete LP. The album will be available on translucent blue and black splattered vinyl, but only in limited quantities so get a’moving.

7 Rad Singles You Should Check Out

rad singles 00Jesse Konrad

“Cruise Ctrl”

Tucson’s Jesse Henderson, who records under than moniker Jesse Konrad, undertook this new musical effort following the breakup of his last band, Fischer Kings. Dropping the surname for the middle one, Jesse Konrad follows the indie-folk of the artist’s previous project, but on his single, “Cruise Ctrl”, Konrad achieves deeper levels on introspection that is matched by the emotional charge of the song’s orchestral sound. This track comes to us from Jesse Konrad’s 2016 EP, Masks, which can be found here. I highly recommend taking this single for a spin. “Cruise Ctrl” is an inspiring punch right in the bad attitude.

SISTERS

“Honey Honey”

This just might be my chill summer jam. Right now, I’m imagining myself wandering through my home on a lazy afternoon (dressed entirely in pastels) with a cocktail in my hand (not that I drink) listening to this track on repeat. The cocktail is also pastel. The Seattle duo known as Sisters shape out some seriously stellar electropop on “Honey Honey”. As the single kicks off, you’ll notice the minimal approach on texturing, but the sound slowly swells until you’re in full-on Mod lounge mode. Sleek and clean from start to finish.  Sample “Honey Honey” below or head here if, like me, you need that digi-download.

Mateo Katsu

“The Glow”

So Mateo Katsu is a bit of an editors’ favorite down here at #YabYumHQ. Maybe it’s his raw but never rough sound or maybe it’s the refreshing candor of his lyrics. Whatever it is, we’re hooked.  “The Glow” proves a little more hopeful than other tracks we’ve featured from the musician, but that might have something to do with the song’s subject matter. According to Katsu, “”The Glow” is about life as a participant in various warehouse communities, not unlike the recently departed Ghost Ship in Oakland.” For artists, these communities do stand as a beacon of hope; a place of possibilities. But, as anyone who has actively participated in the rapscallion life of an artist will tell you, it’s not always peaches and cream. Katsu explores some of the frustrations while celebrating the optimism in “The Glow”. Give the single a spin below or head here to procure the album from whence it came.

Killer Dale

“Under Control”

This garage rock quartet comes to us from New Orleans. Killer Dale derived their name after watching Pineapple Express. Yep, that movie with Seth Rogen. And, once you hear “Under Control”, you probably won’t be surprised by the origin of the band’s name. “Under Control” has that summer-stoner vibe that comes through on ambling guitars and the grungy, basement rock sound.  This single first appeared on Killer Dale’s December release, act as if, which is available for streaming or purchase here. But first, check out “Under Control” below…

Loverboy Wanderers

“Ghost”

The Philly 4-piece known as Loverboy Wanderers released their debut s/t dropped last month and the (almost) five minute track “Ghost” can be found there. Although, this isn’t that version. No, the indie rock outfit released an abridged version of their slinky single following the album. “Ghost” starts off with a bit of a brooding atmosphere but that soon gives way to an angsty energy that keeps the song lively rather than sulky. If you dig the abridged version of “Ghost” you can check out the full version on Loverboy Wanders, the album, here which is available for preview and purchase.

Water Color Weekend

“Strawberry (State of Mind)”

Water Color Weekend, an indie act out of Santa Cruz, crafts an effervescent ditty that will soothe then lift your spirits with “Strawberry (State of Mind)”. For those of you that are wondering just what a strawberry state of mind is, the band explains that a person’s strawberry is an “object, action, or anything else that puts you in a place of escape.” Maybe, this song will prove to be your own personal strawberry with its mellow but effervescent energy. Water Color Weekend recently dropped a brand new EP full of fresh sounds (available here), but, first, let the chill vibe of “Strawberry (State of Mind)” surround you in a comforting blanket of sound. Give the single a spin below.

Matt Reagan

“Not a Problem”

Matt Reagan’s new single has a dreamy, psychedelic hue that reminds me of the musician’s bay-side home-base of San Francisco. “Not a Problem” fuses together fuzzy guitars and layered vocals for a richly textured sound that could easily fit in at The Filmore West (tambourine included) or with any modern indie fan. “Not a Problem” even goes so far as to disseminate into a brief jam session in true homage to the psychedelic sounds of the 60s after the two-minute mark. Give “Not a Problem” by Matt Reagan a listen below…

When In AZ: Round TWO!!

Photo by Kyla F. Borders

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Back in 2009, for those of you who don’t remember, a major moment in Arizona music history took place – the When in AZ compilation came to life. More than fifty Arizona acts covering favorite tracks from other Arizona musicians are featured on this one massive collection that has persisted in the hearts and minds of local listeners, elevating the compilation above that of mere ephemera to a lasting marker of both time and place.

I mean, on When in AZ. Volume 1, you have a Yellow Minute recording of “Dot Dot Dot” which was a What Laura Says song, Lonna Kelley covering Treasure Mammal’s “Everybody’s A Winner”, The Liars Handshake performing AJJ’s “Let’s Get Murdered”, Black Carl covering Kinch, Fatigo, Colorstore, Truckers on Speed, Back Ted N-Ted, Kirkwood Dellinger, Courtney Marie Andrews, Gospel Claws, Former Friends of Young Americans… Gah! I’d better stop before this gets weird. You just have to check out Volume 1 for yourself here.

But we’re not here to talk about what happened way back when. Phoenix musician Nick Kizer, the man-behind-the-movement who provided the organizational force to get this project off the ground all those years ago, is ready to do it all over again.

That’s right, folks. When in AZ. Volume 2 is getting underway this year.

The When in AZ project not only offers musicians the opportunity to pay tribute to their favorite locally-penned songs, but it’s also a way of introducing their sound to new audiences. And, the entire endeavor is a not-for-profit effort that donates proceeds from the project to local children’s charities. So it’s good music and for a good cause. That’s our favorite combo.

And now, it’s time for a disclaimer. We, at YabYum, are part of the organizing effort for When in AZ – the 2017 edition – not for any monetary gain but because we think this project is pretty rad. We covered the first compilation back in ’09 and we watched it live on as a memento of the artists that make the wondrously vivid and diverse music scene of Arizona.

Along with our senior editorial team (me’n Mark), Nick will be joined this time ’round by Sarah Ventre of KJZZ and Girls Rock Phoenix, music writer and cultural phenomena Mitchell Hillman, musician Erick Pineda of Citrus Clouds, and audio-engineer Jalipaz of Audioconfusion, who will be offering a special rate for artists looking to record a single at the studio for the compilation.

Now, you’re hopefully starting to wonder how to get involved with When in AZ, Round Two.

Well, if you live in Arizona, just record a cover of another Arizonan’s song: past or present. Keep in mind, you’ll need to ask that artist for permission. Then send it in (to wheninaz@gmail.com). That’s it. That’s the genius of Kizer’s project. It captures the NOW of Arizona music in a fresh way and without subjecting entries to a “review board” to select the “best” which usually just means a few people picking out their favorites. [ Disclaimer 2: We’re not pointing fingers. We, at YabYum, openly acknowledge picking favorites. It’s called being a critic.]

If your band (or you) record a cover and send it in, we’ll include it. Now, before any troll decides they can exploit that previous statement to an annoying personal end, we reserve the right to not let you muck it up for the rest of us. All joking aside though, When in AZ seeks to encapsulate music in this place, at this time, so we want to hear from all you splendid music-makers that share this desert state.

When in AZ mastermind Nick Kizer took some time to answer a few questions about the project to help give folks a better idea of where it came from and where it’s going.

when in az new 1YabYum: What first inspired you to start When In AZ?

Nick Kizer: In 2009, when I was a younger dude and more active in the music scene with my band, Babaluca, we would often “shoot the shit” with other musicians after gigs. We were always talking about how AZ talent would leave the state for LA or New York once reaching a certain level of popularity. The concept was intended to be a snap shot of the scene at the time, hence the title, “When in AZ”.

Please tell us a little about the first compilation? How many artists appeared on it? When was it released? Did other people help you pull it all together?

The compilation was open to any AZ musician who wanted to cover a song by another AZ musician or band. It was a novel idea and the largest Arizona-based music compilation at the time. There were 50+ artists that recorded songs for When in AZ. The 2009 release was followed up with a multi-venue showcase at local spots such as Trunk Space, Rhythm Room, Modified Arts and Hard Rock Cafe. All proceeds from sales of the compilation and the shows went to music based charities for children’s programs in need of instruments.

I received so much help from other musicians, venue owners, local audio engineers, and media. A big shout out to my friend Laci Lester who helped me put together the first comp.

It’s been seven years since you put out the compilation. What made you decide to take up the project again?

I have had so many friends and musicians ask me about it over the years. It feels like the right time to make it happen again and I think I have a good group of people working on it with me. It’s going to be epic.

Please tell us a little about the review process for submissions (or lack thereof) so artists looking to submit have an idea about what they should expect.

Similar to the first comp, I invite any Arizona-based musician to participate. In the first compilation we received a lot of rock and electronic submission. We are interested in expanding genres for this volume. No one who submitted last time was rejected. I think that made it very special.

So, what are the basic guidelines for artists looking to submit?

The main requirement is that they get permission from the artist they want to cover. That is pretty easy. From there they recorded the cover song by any means they have. We are working with Audioconfusion recording studio to make an affordable/quality option for artists that need help. We will also master the compilation once all the songs are received. The deadline to submit a song is August 1st.

You booked some pretty ambitious shows to celebrate the launch of the first compilation. Do you plan on hosting similar events for the reboot?

The shows are an important part of When in AZ. We will probably do something similar at multiple venues around town or maybe a festival this time around. Details are still being worked out. All I know is it is going to be fun.

Submissions are now open.

LINKS:

Facebook

Bandcamp

when in az vol 1

Radio Phoenix Podcast: Strange Lot

strange lot 02We’d been wanting Strange Lot to come down to the Radio Phoenix Studios for some time so it was great to have them down in the laboratory mixing it up. We talked the new record, our love of Tucson music, and animated videos. And don’t forget that TONIGHT, March 4, is the Strange Lot + Desert Beats Dual Record Release Party with Snake! Snake! Snakes! and Dead Canyon at Valley Bar!

Make sure to tune in every first and third Wednesday of the month for The YabYum Hour, only on radiophoenix.org.

Complete Playlist:

Strange Lot “Gods & Clods”

The Myrrors “Liberty is in the Streets”

Snake! Snake! Snakes! “Breakdown”

The Desert Beats “Wolfman Is Here”

The Thin Bloods “Peter Was A Virus”

Slow Moses “High or By or”

Strange Lot “Born”

Destruction Unit “If Death Ever Slept”

Dent “Visit”

PRO TEENS “Control”

B.O.T.S. “Lil’ Smokey Fangers”

Saddles “Face Paint”

Diners “fifteen on a skateboard”

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Recorded live on February 15, 2017

3 Garage Rock Ragers


by Joe Golfen
Staff Writer

The Darts

The Darts

Nicole Laurenne and Christina Nunez are garage rock machines. Having set Phoenix, and the rest of the world, on fire with their beloved The Love Me Nots, they’ve also graced stages as members of Motobunny, Casual Encounters, Zero Zero and more.

They latest venture into the retro world of rock and roll is The Darts, joined by Los Angeles musicians Rikki Styxx and Michelle Balderrama. While they are mining similar territory, The Darts are somehow even rowdier and raunchier than The Love Me Nots. Their self-titled debut is a finely tuned rock machine, from the caveman beat of “Running Through Your Lies” through raveups like “I Wanna Get You Off” and “Revolution.”

This is breakneck, snarling garage rock, like The Stooges if they rocked the hell out of a farfisa. The vocals are sexy and sharp as knives, and sound just about as dangerous.

As fun as the rockers are, some of my favorite moments on the record are when they slow things down a bit. Taking the tempo down lets the intriguing sense of menace sink in, like the thick-as-molasses chorus of “You Got Me,” or the spooky psychedelic sludge of closer “Kiss of Fire.” This music is so spooky they even grabbed a twitter endorsement from Stephen King.

The Darts prove that if you play it with enough grit and passion, garage rock is a timeless force to be reckoned with. Check out the record here, and catch The Darts with Weird Omen, March 7th at the Rebel Lounge.

Desert Beats

Desert Beats

Tucson’s Desert Beats hit all the garage rock pleasure centers: echo chamber vocals, reverb soaked guitars, surf beats, fuzzy organs.

But none of that would mean a thing if the songs weren’t there, so it’s a good thing that Desert Beats’ main man Randall Dempsey has songs for days. All those stylistic touches are in service of some great tunes, and Dempsey and his Desert Beats crew throw in enough curveballs to keep things interesting.

Lead track “Rumble” gets things off to a killer start, a distorted organ punctuated by drum rolls and a kinetic, Interpol-worthy guitar line. The guitar playing remains a highlight throughout the album, the playing fluid, complex and really fun. Dempsey starts his first vocals with a great hiccup, and fills the rest of the song with peaked-out shouts.

While the rest of album follows a similar style, the band switched things up with flourishes like the “do-do-do” vocals on “Nothing Without You” or the woozy synth line on “Receive The Dark.” And the great backing vocals and harmonies, especially on tracks like “Lost My Way” and “We Can’t Forget,” are a constant treat.

Dempsey breaks away from his standard style a few times towards the end of the record, including on the rockabilly-indebted “Humble Gun” or the closer “People Hurt,” which veers more towards stoner metal, like King Tuff doing “War Pigs.”

But classic garage is what the band does best, and “Wolfman is Here” is my personal favorite, with its propulsive bassline, police siren guitar, and chorus of yelping and howling. Perfection.

Check out the record here, and catch Desert Beats at their dual record release show with Strange Lot, March 4th at Valley Bar.

sunlaand

Goth Grrl

Though it was released in January, sunlaand’s new four song EP is a perfect summer album. Produced by drummer James Hoag, the record captures the haze that sets in on a really hot day, when all you can do is sit in the pool or inside with all the curtains closed.

Lead track “Pillz” starts things off with the kind of crunchy guitar that would make Johnny Ramone smile, while singer Sara Windom coos and smirks her way through lines like “And I popped pills on the bathroom floor/I drink and then I drink some more/but it’s cool though.”

Bassist Michael Chmura takes over vocal duties on the excellent “Death is Happy,” sounding as bratty and confused as early Wavves records while crooning “Nothing is clear to me anymore.”

A crunchy bass line kicks off “TV Dog,” a fun thrasher that is surely a house party favorite. The band closes the album with the best tune “Bummer Baby,” a breezy ode to troubled teenage love, with Windom totally nailing the chorus of “Tonight I’m gonna sneak you out/Don’t be a bummer baby.”

Disaffected, fun and strung-out, Goth Grrl sounds like the perfect soundtrack to a grainy skate video where they miss every trick. Which someone should totally make happen.

Check out the record here, and catch sunlaand at the Phantom Party Album Release show, March 4th at 51 West.

An Insider’s Introduction: Brandon Kellum

brandon kellum 01
All photos courtesy of Brandon Kellum

by Mark Anderson
Senior Editor

Brandon Kellum is a pretty funny guy.

You don’t have to know him personally either. Just follow him or his band, American Standards, on social media and you’ll see what I mean. His band’s music however, is no laughing matter.

Nope, no Flight of the Conchords folk or The Lonely Island hiphop here. American Standards is as raw and brutal as it gets. And you know what? If you don’t like it, you can simply move along. They’re not here to make nice and maybe that’s why they’ve amassed such a following.

I’ve been following the band long enough to know that something was a-brewing in the Standards’ camp so I reached out to lead vocalist, Brandon Kellum, with some questions and he graciously took the time to answer them. Read below to find out about the new American Standards album, what’s coming up for the band, and of course, some handy-dandy beard grooming tips.

brandon kellum 02YabYum: How long have you lived in Arizona?

Brandon Kellum: 271,000 hours. Give or take a few hundred depending on when you post this.

When and how did you first get involved with the Arizona music scene? Do you play any instruments as well? I thought I saw an old pic of you playing guitar…

In 2001 my father bought me a Fender starter kit for Christmas. I wanted nothing to do with the thing- I wanted the spotlight that went along with being the singer of a rock band. Although I had a passion for writing lyrics, I soon found out my vocal abilities at the time were lacking, to say the least.

I picked the guitar back up around 2002 and started my first band playing a mix of originals and Deftones covers at places like the Mason Jar. I was immediately hooked and dove deeper into recording, touring and booking bands – cutting my teeth at places like The Trunk Space, Modified Arts and The Phix. It’s almost ironic that over 15 years later I’m answering this as the vocalist of a band.

When it comes to American Standards’ songs is there a principle songwriter or do you guys all collaborate to form new songs? Maybe some of both?

We mostly pray to the gods of post-hardcore’s past then sit around drinking beers till they answer. It’s been quiet for a couple years.

I swear I saw something about a new AS album coming out… I’m just gonna assume something’s coming out because it’s been a few years since Hungry Hands dropped. Where and when did you record the new record or are you still recording it?

It’s been a few too many years since we’ve released new songs, if you ask me. American Standards recorded our new album around June of 2016. It’ll be called Anti-Melody and it’s being released April 15th with a release show at Pub Rock Live. Eight tracks with a run time around 25 minutes. Builds a lot on the media satire, materialism, and other sociopolitical themes that I think American Standards have become known for but it also has a much more personal story than possibly past releases. With the passing of our founding guitarist Cody Conrad, my grandparents, and father all in close proximity- what was once about the growing divide in our society became more intimate and now includes themes of loss and separation at an individual level.

General thought is that a melody is a sequence of notes that come together to make a satisfying sound. Going back to the theme of the album, the content is heavily influence by what pulls us apart.

We tracked everything at Kingsize Soundlabs in Los Angeles (The Mars Volta, Bad Religion, Letlive) with Andy Marshall. There was a bit of a hang up in the mixing and mastering, but I’m real excited to say that it will be out in April. We’ll also have a couple singles with videos released prior to that.

Is the personnel the same as your previous albums?

At this point I think it’s safe to say that American Standards has become a collective of artists with similar passions contributing their talents for a couple years at a time… or until they find out we aren’t going to be playing the next Super Bowl Half Time Show (SPOILER ALERT).

Both Corey (guitar) and I have been here since the beginning but we’ve had quite a few drummers and bassists rotate out. The line up we’ve had for the past year is The Monstars of hardcore. If I know anything about Space Jam… The Monstars always win.

brandon kellum 03I know you guys have toured – is there a favorite venue or even a specific show that stands out as one of your favs?

The ones that feed us and/or give us an open bar tab. Locally, places like: the Rebel Lounge, Crescent Ballroom, Joe’s Grotto, The Hive, The Rock and any of the Mantooth-run venues have always been great to us.

On the road, we can’t say enough good things about Metro Music Hall (UT), 7th Circle Collective (CO), The Flux Capacitor (CO) and anywhere that Mike Steezy will have us in New Mexico.

As for specific shows, the smaller ones always exceed our expectations. We much rather play to a room of 50 people that are there to have a good time then 500 that only care for the headliner.

What is your take on the greater Phoenix music scene? The good and the bad from the your perspective.

There’s no doubt that Phoenix has an abundance of talented musicians, great venues and passionate people to support them. I think like any music hub though, that same volume creates a fair amount of over-saturation. Any given night we have 10 shows going and fans have to decide which one to go to. It’s a good problem to have but feels much different then playing in a smaller town that may get a show or two a month that everyone comes out to.

It also creates a bit of unhealthy competition that serves to feed some egos. I think we can take a bit of a step back and find out how we can use this wealth of “musical resource” to our advantage. Support each other and lift everyone up together rather then create all these sub divisions of genres and cliques within them.

What should change, if anything?

We need to stop saying what we don’t like and start focusing on what we do. Too often people bash other bands that aren’t their preferred taste, or venues that don’t host the shows they want to see. If you don’t like it, you have the power to ignore it and move on. Keep an open mind, search out new music and share what you find.

brandon kellum 05What’s upcoming for American Standards? Any touring? I see you’re playing Bisbee in a couple weeks and that show looks pretty frickin’ awesome…

Next on the radar is the album release April 15 at Pub Rock with Eclipses For Eyes and some additional support bands TBA. Soon after, we’ll be doing some touring through the Midwest and East Coast to support it. Definitely sprinkling in a couple local shows- one of which is a pretty awesome reunion tour of a band I know our fans will know and love. Keep an eye on our social media for those announcements.

Bisbee is also coming up February 25th at The Quarry. We love to play new places, especially in smaller towns. Makes for a great day trip or overnight for anyone looking to travel.

Is there anything I forgot to ask that you feel we should know about you or the band?

Nothing that comes to mind. People that know us, know that despite some of the more serious lyrical content we try to stay pretty tongue in cheek at our shows and online. That being said, I can’t say enough how much I appreciate everyone’s support over the years. Especially sites like YabYum that give us a platform to get our music out to a larger audience.

We had a particularly tough couple years with the passing of Cody then soon after both my grandparents and father to cancer. The band really helped us get through these experiences and the fact that anyone gives a shit about something we’re doing is the greatest gift we could ever ask for.

Your beard is totes rad too btw, I could never achieve something like that. Any grooming tips for all those looking to live the bearded lifestyle?

Thanks! Just use sandpaper (extra coarse) and apply directly to the area where you’d like to see hair growth. It’s an effective exfoliate and available at any local hardware store.

~

Check out American Standards on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and at The Anti-Melody Release Show April 15 at Pub Rock Live.

brandon kellum 06
Photo by Jacob Reynolds

3 Rad New Releases

3 rad new releases 00

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Gorky

The Gork​.​.​.​And How To Get It!

This four-piece out of Northern Arizona has been playing together a whopping 15 years and to celebrate their years of blissful band union, Gorky released, The Gork… And How To Get It!, in January.

This monster collection of tracks was recorded over the better part of a decade (2009-2016) and packs a retro-indie punch… You know, back in the days when Indie Rock still sounded like garage rock because it was still being made by kids in garages. Now, it feels like all that indie is coming straight from the bedroom with its stripped down sound and sedate energy. Gorky turns the energy back up and adds some Pavement bounce to the musicality for The Gork.

The album opens with “Roll with Me” which was recorded live at Last Exit Live right here in sunny Phoenix along with “AM Radio” and “The Cosmonaut” (which you’ll hear in about 19 more songs). What I love most about Gorky is that bright, summertime sound that glazes over every song on this album. There’s something mirthful about their brand of rocknroll that comes through every time, not just on the obvious tracks like “Super Drunk” or “#Datass”. Get into The Gork below…

Devil Grass

Dog + Cross

Devil Grass fuses together alt-country, dark folk, and some good ol’fashioned rocknroll to create their rowdy desert sound.

The Phoenix quartet just unleashed their debut EP, Dog + Cross, earlier this week – just in time for Valentine’s Day. I would definitely say these tracks are more Romantic (big R) than romantic (little r). The songs are brooding and introspective, meandering through fields dusted with prog rock permutations.

The EP opens with “Hundred-Year Woods”; submerging the listener in the rough-edged folk-rock of Devil Grass. “In the Cut” follows. Now, this track was originally released a year ago as Devil Grass’s recording debut and its earthy/edgy sound makes for, in my opinion, a solid introduction to the Devil Grass sound.

The energy gets turned up for “Pioneers” before “St. Joe’s Spitting Image” closes out the EP. The closer just might be my favorite track from the collection. There’s something slinky and also a little lonely about this number; like a hopeless crooner singing in a roadhouse bar for sad sweethearts.

Give Dog + Cross by Devil Grass a perusal below…

The Real FITS

Drown in Gold

The smokey smooth vocals of Raquel Willand adds a noir touch to the alt-rock sound of The Real FITS. The Tempe 4-piece dropped Drown in Gold, a 5-song EP, back on December 30th to close out the year.

The release opens with “Feels Like Mine” and sets a kickback feel that continues through Drown in Gold. “Sideways” – the second track – has the same sultry vibe and retro synths that gives shape to the FITS’ sinuous sound before “Wild Wild West”. The latter track has a measure of listlessness that off-sets the lithe vocals.

“Sundown”, the penultimate track on both the album and amongst my personal favorites, has a bit of an L.A. sound. Listeners can slip into a West Coast vision of driving down a palm-tree lined street in a convertible toward the ocean; top down and sunglasses on as the sun slips down the sky. “Tides” – my personal favorite and the longest track from the release – closes the EP with a dreamy, meandering number. Give Drown in Gold a listen below or head here for your own digi-download.