Treasure Mammal Music Video Premiere: Selfie Stick [premiere + interview]

Treasure Mammal teamed up with local creative Robbie Pfeffer to craft a brand new music video and we’re stoked to be the first to share that video with you today!  Of course, we had a few questions for the team about the making of “Selfie Stick”, the prize pairing of T-Mammal and Pfeffer on this project, and what’s next for the rambunctious bunch of music makers.

Check out the new music video for Treasure Mammal’s and then continue on to our Q&A with Treasure Mammal and Robbie!

So, you teamed up with Robbie Pfeffer to animate this new music video. I have to say that the T-Mammal/Pfeffer combo seems like the dream team. What brought these two forces together for this new visual project?

Treasure Mammal: After seeing several of the animations that Robbie had created, I definitely thought he was the right person to create the video for “Selfie Stick”. The TMammal/ Pfeffer combo is a lot like Kobe and Shaq. Unbeatable when using the triangle offense against any team.

Robbie: Abe brought up the idea a while back and now that I’m trying to do more animation I hit him up earlier this year and said I think I can swing it. Animation is a super slow process so I’m glad it worked out!

Where does this track come to us from? New album in the works?

TM: A new album is in the works and it is tentatively titled, Honey, I Crunked the Kids.

Where was the single/album recorded and is there an ETA for the release?

TM: We recorded at my house with Glob and at Glob Headquarters aka Slime Castle. I think the album will be done in early 2018.

Treasure Mammal has taken on many forms over the years through the inclusion of various players. Who is currently on Team T-Mammal? And, of those players, who is including in the music-making process as opposed to the live experience?

TM: The current roster for Treasure Mammal is Jef Wright, Jef Wrong, Audra Carlisle, Roddy Nikpour, Ryan Stephenson, Taylour Geiss, Matthew Scholtz, Yuri Choo, and Mike Hissong. This list doesn’t include the peeps that are in other cities. I would say the only people involved in the music making process are Jef Wright, Jef Wrong, Mike Hissong, myself, and the environment I’m in.

Treasure Mammal often hits on the kitschy points of pop culture and this new video is no different. It has everything from Faygo to Furbies. I have to ask the question… is the music meant as a joke or as cultural commentary? Or is there no real difference in your view?

Robbie: I’ve always thought Treasure Mammal was an unashamed celebration of societies most garish elements. It’s the musical equivalent of a person who watches “The Bachelor” to make fun of “The Bachelor” and then ends up becoming a huge fan of “The Bachelor.” It’s obviously self-aware but not as simple as just a joke or as straight forward as just cultural commentary. If you stare into the bro culture abyss, the bro culture abyss stares back at you.

TM: It’s definitely more of a cultural commentary type thing.. I like to wrap certain things/ products/ ideas that are jumping out at me at the time. For some reason, Selfie Sticks just kinda popped out at me. What made it really come to my attention was the fact that I read an article about someone falling to their death in the Grand Canyon because they were taking a selfie on the edge.

And, since you brought up the subject, what’s your stance on “selfie culture”? Narcissism run rampart or a component of self-exploration and greater connectivity in the Internet Age?

TM: It’s not so much the narcissistic culture we have a problem with, it’s the proliferation of “hands free” culture, enabled by technology, that’s encouraging us to disengage from the physical world. Years ago, if you needed an answer to an important question, you had to boot up Windows Vista, wait for Internet Explorer to open, type in www.google.com into the address bar, and only then could you get an answer. Physically interacting with technology gives you time to refine your question – maybe answer it yourself, or if you’re with other people maybe someone could answer it for you. Now all we have to do is ask Siri who the last person on the moon was or tell Google to turn on the bidet.

Robbie: I’m personally uncomfortable taking pictures of myself and I’m one of those people who huffs and complains about how dumb it is to film a concert while you are at a concert, but at the end of the day if something makes someone happy and feeds the unquenchable thirst of our personal data absorbing tech overlords, who am I to protest?

So, what’s next for Treasure Mammal? More music videos? Tour? Upcoming Shows dates? Expanding the stage show to include pyrotechnics?

TM: We will be performing the new and improved Tiny Town Times release show at St. Charles Tavern in Tucson on July 7th. The Tiny Town Times is a hand made quarterly publication created at Tanline Printing in Tucson that features the work of local writers and artists in Tucson and beyond. I’m excited about that for sure…

We also have a tour coming up in late July / Early August with Glob.

We have a new song/ video in the works called “Team Work.” I specifically made this song to debut the Multi Suit that our band member Audra Carlisle has created. The Multi Suit is a spandex suit that can fit four people simultaneously. The suit is connected at the hip and is in the shape of a circle. The people that are inside of the suit can either face inward or outward. I am working on having these available for custom orders and I would like to include activities to partake in while you have the suit in your possession.

As far as pyrotechnics during the show goes…. I’d like to see Ryan Stephenson burn his pubic hair while we perform but nothing more than that…

~

For the Record: Prophecy by The Stakes

stakes prophecy 01by Mark Anderson
Senior Editor

After years, the wait is finally over. The Stakes, Phoenix’s premiere live hiphop band, have released their debut full-length album, Prophecy.

And believe you me, the album was worth the wait. To quote a friend, “this shit is fire right here.”

After years of gigging here in Phoenix and all around the state, The Stakes have formed a solid line-up of “self-made rappers, university-educated performers, cover artists, and lifelong gospel musicians” for a roster that truly does impress.

Marah Armenta (vocals), Lord Kash (emcee), Zeedubb (emcee), Ben Scolaro (piano), Luis Martinez (guitar), Paul McAfee (Moog synthesizer – droppin’ those fat basslines), and Kevin Phillips (drums) form the core group but the addition of Alan Acosta & Tyler Bauer on saxophone and Jimmy Barrios & Danny Torgerson on trumpet add an extra cool dimension to the Stakes smooth sound on Prophecy.

“5 Minutes of Gold” opens the album and I honestly can’t argue with that song title at all. Luis’ guitar is soon joined by Ben’s keys and then the vocals pop in and Kevin’s drums and then >BOOM!< Stendhal syndrome takes full effect.

The hits keep coming with “Then And Now”, Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” and the title track, “Prophecy”.

With an intro featuring Amber Tabares, “Blue Jean Grey” opens the Stakes into some of their best, experimental arenas yet while “Crosseyed”, their excellent Michael Jackson cover of “I Can’t Help It” and “Requiem” prove the Stakes are the best at what they do.

Closing track, “Unified”, features I-Dee and is a straight head-banger. Make sure to stay tuned for that secret track too…

The Stakes took some time out their day to answer a few questions I had about the new album, their contemporaries, and what’s next for one of the hardest-working bands in town.

Mark Anderson: Prophecy is a couple years in the making right? Did any songs change over the course of making it? Please describe the feeling of being finished with and releasing it to all the long-time Stakes fans!

Ben Scolaro: We are truly grateful to all the Stakes fans who have followed us over the last 4 and a half years. So much has changed as we’ve developed our sound. Not to mention the world around us has influenced our direction.

Take the title track, “Prophecy.” When we first started writing that song 4 years ago, it was inward-looking, about personal triumph. However, with the rise of Trump and White Nationalism, we rewrote some of the lyrics and added samples at the beginning, transforming it into a call to action against the running narrative, or “prophecy”.

Our focus is to constantly improve, so our songs evolve over time.

Paul McAfee: Absolutely. The songs have generally kept the the same structure, but the groove, feel, textures, riffs, etc. change a little bit each time. This is inevitable when every member of the group is so open and creative.

What is the Stakes songwriting process like? Does one of you come up with a main progression and everyone else elaborates? Or maybe you guys just jam and things develop themselves?

Ben: All of the above. Our greatest strength is our diversity as a group — we’ve got the full spectrum from completely self-taught to university-studied musicians, which allows us to approach songwriting from every direction.

Paul: Sometimes we just jam and develop a song as a group. Maybe somebody starts with a 4 or 8 bar groove and everyone joins in and develops their own contribution. Some of the more intricate songs were thoroughly written by a single band member, but sometimes the structure or feel is edited by the group depending on what makes sense for the vocalists and lyrics.

I consider you guys a pretty unique band but maybe I’m wrong in the sense that there may be more out there than I realize. Is there a solid hiphop/jazz/funk scene here in the Valley in your opinion? To me, your only contemporaries here seem to be House of Stairs!

ZeeDubb: I’m not a native of Phoenix but I know that it has a pretty rich history of underground rap bands through the years. I know Drunken Immortals are still going hard. When The Stakes had started, the only other band mixing in jazz was The Brother Cosmos, but they broke up.

Currently there’s The Color 8, Nick Perkins Band, Ramses II, House of Stairs, The Geibral Elisha Movement, Deliyonne & Hudson… trust me, the fusion of hip-hop and other genres with live instrumentation is alive in Phoenix and The Stakes are honored to be in the forefront.

The scene is here, the promoters just have to catch up, or we’ll do it for them.

stakes 01Could you delve into the idea behind the album title some? I’m picturing multiple layers here…

Ben: Since you asked for layers…

Layer 1 — The Idea

It’s easy to fall into the trap of passively watching things happen, like a “prophecy” unfolding. But the future is not written; we all play a part in creating it, whether by acting or failing to act.

Layer 2 — The Image

Our actions today do become a type of prophecy for future generations by creating the world they will inherit. That’s why the album art features children — because their future is at stake in our actions today (that’s Lord Kash’s son on the cover).

Layer 3 — The Action

After the election last November, we found ourselves asking what we can do to help shape the future for the better. That’s why we’re collecting signatures at our shows to stop the expansion of Arizona’s private school vouchers.

This expansion would take money from public education and give it to wealthy people who send their kids to private school (you can read all about it at sosarizona.org). We’re part of a state-wide effort to put a referendum on the ballot so voters can reject this law. We’ve collected more than 70 signatures and will have more petitions at our shows until Aug. 1. If you come through, PLEASE take a moment to sign.

Paul: For me, Prophecy fulfills a top criterion: it sounds cool and mysterious.

Ben: That too.

I love the “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” cover. Is there a story behind that song getting picked to be covered?

ZeeDubb: It’s funny because we were suppose to do a full reggae show but only had time to crank out, maybe 3 reggae tunes, and “Master Blaster” stuck. Marah picked the song cause she loves Stevie with her heart and soul. You can really feel the purpose of the original lyrics when she sings it.

Paul: When we jammed on the groove, Kash dropped a killer verse with a flow that developed beautifully. We often work with a horn section, and I felt inspired to write horn parts for this song in particular.

What’s in store for the Stakes? Do you guys already have new songs in the works? Where would you like to see the band go from here both literally and figuratively?

Paul: We have old and new songs that haven’t been recorded yet, probably enough for an EP. We want to continue to write new songs until we have more than enough to select for for a new LP. We will be working on a music video soon and continue to keep the visibility up and play shows. My personal dream would be to open for the Roots.

ZeeDubb: In 2017 you’re going to see more videos, more loosies and singles, and another EP or album. Collaborations with other bands, musicians and artists are in the works. We have a lot of ideas and plans to execute. Some I wouldn’t share for the sake of the surprise.

Is there any thing else about Prophecy or the Stakes that you would like us to know about that I failed to ask?

Marah: It’s finally out now! Available on iTunes, as well as our website, TheStakesMusic.com, where you can see all of our upcoming shows.

~

For more info on The Stakes, check their Facebook page. Catch them live at A Stoneypie Pool Party with Paper Foxes, Haze that Saxy Rapper, Mr. UU, The Psychedelephants, Hostile Work Environment, the Bittersweet Way, De Leon & the Desert Beats Saturday July 1 at 4 PM.

stakes 03

7 Rad Rock Music Videos from Alt to Indie

The Woodworks
“The Doctor Says I’m Fine”

Skating Polly
“Louder in Space”

The Murlocs
“Oblivion”

Weird Radicals
“John Lennon (Headbangin)”

Windigo
“All Your Thunder”

Lane Change
“Floodwater”

Sleeptalk
“Strange Nights”

Phantom Party: Hundred Skeletons

summer releases 02by Mark Anderson
Senior Editor

Now I’m not gonna’ beat around the bush here: we at YabYum love Phantom Party.

We named them our Best New Band of 2016 and with good reason: their on-point performance skills and totally unassuming air back up their qualified knack for crafting crisp, summery pop songs.

Hundred Skeletons is the culmination of two years worth of writing, the complete emotional breakdown and restructuring of lead vocalist/guitarist Joshua Capati, and five straight days of recording in early January 2017.

For you see, the music of Phantom Party may seem bright and uplifting — bassist and back-up vocalist Matthew Slusser and drummer Austin Cooper bringing the vision to full effect — but it’s Capati’s lyrics that remind us all that seasonal depression is, in fact, very real and it’s all about how you deal with your personal shit going forward. How to handle your scandal. And sometimes you fail, but it’s about getting up at least one more time than you fall, right?

After the fun instrumental opening of “Sedna”, “Catholic School” goes right for the gusto; high-tempo toms and losing your religion. Personal fav “Elvis” follows suit with one of the best depressing lyrics of all time: “Well I’m down to my last cigarette/Why couldn’t God make me look like Elvis?” And trust me, the entire song is that good.

By the time “Derby Daze” comes on I feel like I’m listening to a Phantom Party’s Greatest Hits record. At 13 tracks, there’s no room for filler here! And, I guess that’s kind of the point. As Joshua states on their Bandcamp page, “Essentially, this was going to be my last thing. I was going to release it, do rock and roll, then die… what would I say if this is the last thing I release?” Better make it good, I guess.

With songs like the Weezer-inspired “Tunnel of Love”, live favorite “Charlie”, and the bitchin’ title track on the last half of the album, Hundred Skeletons simply gets better as it plays along. Recorded by Phantom Party and mixed and mastered by Joshua Capati and Bryce Copple at Joshua’s house in Tempe, I sense the decade(s) long, over-all pattern of young people writing, recording, and releasing their own material isn’t going to go away anytime soon…

Epically closing with “Twenty” and the lines “I’ll get closure when my heart stops beating/I’ll live as if my life has meaning/I’ll drop dead before my demons kill me/I wasn’t planning on being twenty” and “ooo-ooo-ooo”ing with all your hearts content sure is one of my favorite ways to fight back the demons of depression. It seems like the members of Phantom Party think so too.

~

For more Phantom Party, check out their website. With a gang of shows coming up for the band, make sure to catch them at your favorite venue soon!

phantom party shows

Grace Bolyard: Seasonal Depression

grace bolyard 01by Chris Nunley
Staff Writer

One of the single most important inventions of the modern music era is the Tascam Portastudio. At the time of its conception, it was intended for musicians to record demo versions of songs that would later be fleshed out in a fancy commercial recording studio. But in January of ’82, Bruce Springsteen completely shifted this concept unintentionally with his solo masterpiece Nebraska.

Originally the songs recorded in his Jersey bedroom were to give the E Street Band a direction of where the follow up to The River was headed. The back story to the actual recording process is where the “happy accidents” occurred. Between the inexperience of his engineer trying to set proper levels, to the tape speed being set to it’s slowest, to the dirty uncleaned heads, to Springsteen carrying the cassette in his pocket without the case for weeks. All these small but important details gave the songs a raw, lo-fi, and emotional quality that critics hailed as his most haunting work.

Since the release of Nebraska, the Portastudio has evolved with the times in both size and use, never deviating from the maxim that “less is more”. They truly are the perfect machine to have at the ready when inspiration unknowingly strikes. And if there is only one rule in music to follow, it’s that you answer the call when the muse comes around.

But now, in the era of digital recording, near limitless tracks, and software plug-in effects that spit out products to be scrubbed and shined to a sheen of Borg-like perfection, the fun of limitations and the warm patina of tape hiss are becoming relics of days long gone. Hell, you can record a song on your bloopin’ and bleepin’ smartphone now! Oh the humanity! Where have you gone???

It’s depressing to think about, let alone relive with trips down memory lane. But… what if an artist placed limits on their digital splendor? More organic and less Miracle-Gro? THAT, I believe, is the next evolution in recording technology: binary boundaries.

When Seasonal Depression, the debut release from Grace Bolyard (Darling Sounds) landed on my laptop screen, it was like taking a happy pill to cure my woes of the modern world. Using nothing more than an internal microphone on her Mac, a handful of effects, and GarageBand to edit and arrange, this solo effort encapsulates the “less is more” approach with ease.

Building on a previous article from a fellow staffer, one of the most tedious tasks when recording in a commercial studio is selecting the right microphone for each instrument as well as a singer’s voice. Yes, the process can be arduous at times, and it can suck the creative energy and enthusiasm right out of the building. Whether it was by design or just dealing with the limitations when inspiration struck, the timbre of Bolyard’s voice is brilliantly captured with said internal mic and adds a lo-fi element where analog warmth would normally be heard.

Not to be overshadowed of course is the songwriting. Much more personal and playing out like a soundtrack to a film short (think Kimya Dawson covering the bullet points of Juno in 15 minutes), Seasonal can be heart-wrenching, but definitely not depressing.

The EP starts off with the endearing yet cautious “Strange Love”, an airy track that blows in with a gentleness reminiscent of Leona Naess’ “Lazy Days”. But it’s the following song, “State Fair Halloween”, where Bolyard starts to tug at the heart strings on whether a relationship that has become stagnant (“We’ve spent 5 years together / Are we getting better?”) can withstand the test of time and distance. The lines “Halloween’s my everything, but Thanksgiving is your favorite / I’ll make the green beans still, even though I really hate them” couldn’t be a more perfect sentiment to compromise and the small differences that a couple may have, yet tolerate.

“Tandem BMX” finds our chanteuse crooning tastefully with a hint of eager desperation (“I wanna get extreme with you / I’ll be your queen, your peach ice cream”) in a gem about the dirty deed that’s cleverly woven into a riff from the teen tragedy songs of the early ’60s.

The mark of a good release is when it’s over, you want more but can’t have it. Fittingly short and succinct with closure is the title track of this impressive EP, complete with harmonica embellishments that would make Springsteen weep and curiously optimistic lines of finding solace in the brutal Phoenician summertime. Have you lost your mind Ms. Bolyard???

It may not have been recorded to cassette…allowing the elements to degrade and taint the sound…but Seasonal Depression is a good record. Staying true to the environment in which it was born…warm and gritty, yet emotional and brilliant. This feels and sounds like Arizona, a land where sometimes less is more.

~

chris nunley 000Chris Nunley began writing for YabYum in the Summer of 2015 and his latest series The Noise Floor seeks to explore the outer limits of sound. When he’s not popping in for a local show or taking road trips, he devotes his creative energy to his evolving electronic music project, Sliide.

Radio Phoenix Podcast: Editor’s Choice 2017

editor's choice 01It was our first show in June and that meant it was time for another Editor’s Choice addition of The YabYum Hour on Radio Phoenix. This year we were joined by our new producer/co-host Roddy Nikpour who provided some choice cuts, as well as a couple of lovebirds you can hear in the background… As always, you can check out the complete playlist below.

Check out The YabYum Hour on our podcast page and every first and third Wednesday live at 7 PM only on Radio Phoenix.

Complete Playlist:

Cait Brennan “Bad At Apologies”

Lauren Ruth Ward “Did I Offend You”

The SunPunchers “Screwtop Head”

koleżanka “Flyfishing/Snow Cone Summer”

Daniel Trakell “Paradise”

Celebration Guns “(Probably) Worth It”

Nanami Ozone “Damage”

Swellshark “Numb + Insensible”

Diners “Peace of Mind”

Choir Boy “Blood Moon”

Zero Degrees North “Nuns”

Exxxtra Crispy “Scumbag” (radio edit)

E Alo “Cinco”

_

Recorded live on June 7, 2017

Top 5 Shows of the Week: June 2 – 8

Lots of rad shows happening this week in addition to what we got here. You can check out more shows happening in the Phoenix Metro Area on our Upcoming Shows page here! You can also click on the show flyers below for more information about those events!

3 Rad Punk Releases

3 rad punk releases 00

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Sad Kid

Dys​(​FUN​)​ctional

As the name of their album implies, Sad Kid wants to put the FUN back in dysfunctional. Sex, drugs, and gas station burritos might not be able to combat the malaise of a generation, but that doesn’t mean that Sad Kid isn’t going to try to fill that fucking soul hole with debauchery. This four-track follow-up to the band’s 2016 debut reveals maturation (gasp) on the instrumental end but no less of the riotous angst that first defined the Sad Kid sound. Dys(FUN)ctional dropped on the Slope Records label and was produced by local legend Cris Kirkwood… how cool is that?! Check out Dys(FUN)ctional from Sad Kid and make sure you get out to see this band live – just don’t drink the Kool-Aid because it’s probably 95% Everclear.

TYPICAL GIRLS

Typical Girls Vol. 2 [compilation]

This kickass compilation from Flagstaff’s Emotional Release Records gathers grrrl rockers from around the globe for one feisty collection that will fuel your summer. Bands like BENT and Naked Lights veer toward more post-punk permutations with their sound while others, like Neighborhood Brats, definitely sound like they could fuck you up in a parking lot. Personally, I’m all about the rowdy and retro style of MIDNITE SNAXXX and the shout-it-out style of Suss Cunts. I found so much new-band love on Typical Girls Vol. 2. From Juanita y Los Feos and Black Abba to Soft Tug and Sex Stains… really there are just too many stellar bands to name them all. But, thanks to Emotional Release Records, I don’t have to. They’ve already been gathered in this convenient compilation for your musical exploration. Oh, and you’re definitely going to want to get your own copy here.

Skull Drug

Sinful Life

If the doldrums of daily life has got you down, maybe you just need a little more Skull Drug in your day-to-day. Just throw on Sinful Life on your drive into work and see if your perspective doesn’t shift. Of course, you might overload on thrash punk and set fire to the entire building before your lunch break so consider yourself warned. Skull Drug brings you to back to those punk rock roots with their raw energy and driving sound. Most of the ten songs featured on Sinful Life clock in at under two minutes so you can knock out the entire LP in one cathartic fit of unleashed rage. Or, if you’re my age, maybe hit play when you hit the gym and see if that fire doesn’t propel you through even the most hated activities with fist-pumping fury. Check out Sinful Life from Skull Drug below…

Top 5 Shows of the Week: May 26 – June 1

Lots of rad shows happening this week in addition to what we got here. You can check out more shows happening in the Phoenix Metro Area on our Upcoming Shows page here! You can also click on the show flyers below for more information about those events!