“Hard to be a Woman”
“Where the Light Ends”
“Give Me Love”
by Carly Schorman
PHX Americana favorites, Huckleberry, are gearing up for a brand new album. Yes folks, on April 7th, Huckleberry will be releasing their latest LP on limited edition vinyl. In prelude to this momentous occasion, the band shared a couple early tracks from the album with fans and friends, including this gem, “Working Backwards”. As soon as that slide kicks off the easygoing summer sound on this track, you’ll be hooked. At least, I was. Huckleberry put out “Working Backwards” in February and followed up with the March release of “Tether” which definitely puts the ALT in alt-country. Check out both singles, starting with “Working Backwards” below, and don’t forget to pre-order your vinyl copy of Natural Selector from Huckleberry here. And, you can catch the act live on April 8th at Valley Bar with Luau, Fairy Bones, and Saddles so make sure you mark your calendar (more here). Do it now. I’ll wait…
This Gospel/Americana act out of L.A. sounds straight from the Heartland. The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers go full-on church choir with their harmony-rich melodies and salt-of-the-earth sound on “Lay Down Low”. No surprise that this act has already played some “prestigious festivals such as Winnipeg Folk Fest, Montreal Jazz Fest, Austin City Limits, and Voodoo Fest of New Orleans.” Once you hear “Lay Down Low”, you’ll totally want to add The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers to your bucket list of bands you have to see perform live. The ERGS will be releasing their sophomore album this Spring so make sure you keep your ears open for that release. Until then, enjoy “Lay Down Low” below..
Inspired by the Water Protectors fight at Standing Rock, Pop Cautious Records will be releasing a compilation album to support Native American Rights this coming June. “Don’t Want to Be Yours Anymore” by Sam Valdez is the first single from that forthcoming effort. The Los Angeles-by-way-of-Las Vegas songbird delivers a Westerly stoicism with her lyrics and voice – both stunning and subdued. “Don’t Want to Be Yours Anymore” will leave you in a somber mood but you’ll still be reaching for that repeat button because it is also lovely. Give the new single from Sam Valdez a listen below. And, don’t forget to check out the comp from Pop Cautious when it drops in June! Mni Wiconi!
Forever Son’s indie folk sound reminds me of summertime as a kid: homemade jean shorts and Bomb Pops and my mom listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young while she tans in the backyard. “Crumb Kitchen” provides a gentle reminder of an earlier era of folk-rock when hair was long and distortion still something to avoid. Forever Son is the musical undertaking of Melbourne-based musician, Jack Robbins. I don’t know what I like more: the early morning atmosphere of “Crumb Kitchen” or Robbins’ bourbon-smooth voice. Thankfully, I don’t have to choose and neither do you. Both can be heard on the single below…
Ugh, how long has this band been in Flagstaff? Why haven’t I been told? Come on, Arizona, we’re all supposed to work together to keep each other informed and I feel I’ve been left out cold on this whole Tow’rs thing. This indie-folk act shapes out a breathtaking number of subtle grace and beauty on “Liminal”. I even did a search on our site to make sure they hadn’t slipped by me quietly one July morning, but no, this is the first track I’ve heard from them. And I’m completely enamored. Tow’rs is currently out on tour and I’m hoping they’ll add some PHX shows to their schedule once back on hometurf. Until then, enjoy “Liminal” by Tow’rs below…
On “Big Crane” we find a Brit-folk take on the Americana sound. A Different Thread combines the musical talents of singer-songwriter Robert Jackson and calssically-trained cellist Isaac Collier. And, if there sound doesn’t sell you on their Americana spirit, the pair met while busking and were playing together just a short couple of months gaining the attention of BBC Bristol. Maybe that has something to do with the honeyed vocals and astute instrumentation of A Different Thread which comes through on “Big Crane”. Check out the single for yourself below…
Australia has an Americana/Alt-Country music community?? Well, they do and I know that because Hana & Jessie-Lee come to us from the land Down Under with their dusty and soulful country sound on “Maryses”. Hana & Jessie-Lee draw inspiration from artists like Hank Williams, Bonnie Raitt, and The Staple Singers so expect to hear some American steel strengthening the core of this musical pairing. They’re joined by their band, the Bad Habits, on this track so the sound is fully fleshed out with double bass, fiddle, drums, and keys. Give “Maryses” a listen below…
This single is the opening track from the debut EP by The Foster Family. Now, this is a release that I’ve been waiting for. “How Can I?” offers up a bluesy introduction to the unique sounds of The Foster Family Band; a seven-piece outfit from Phoenix. The instrumentation on this track includes trumpet, viola, clarinet, and violin. A lot of orchestral folk acts should take a cue from The Foster Family Band. Every arrangement is tasteful and uncluttered; every player a competent of a single expression, not clamoring for presence in every moment. This 4-track release is stellar from start to finish so make sure you set aside some time to listen to the whole thing. You won’t be sorry you did. But, first, start with “How Can I?” below…
The musical duo out of Columbus, OH known as Fellow Hollow creates mellow, moving pastoral folk that will soothe your weary soul. Their sweet-tempered single, “Clothesline”, is painted in nostalgic hues and combines rich harmonies with a simple finger-plucked guitar work. This track comes to us from the band’s 2016 EP, When You Love the Same People, You Love Each Other, which came out last month. Settle into the sound of Fellow Hollow with “Clothesline”, and if you dig what you’re hearing, check out the full EP here.
Phoenix’s Willetta released three tracks back earlier this year that were intended to be part of a split with another local act. “Aurora” was one of the singles planned for that release and, thankfully, the band went ahead and put them out online so fans, like myself, can hear them and love them. Willetta combines dreamy harmonies with ruminating melodies that provide the perfect vehicle for the thoughtful lyricism that lies at the center of these creations. “Aurora” is both beautiful and haunting. You should give it a listen below and then make sure you check out the full triptych from Willetta (available here).
Nicholas SantoVasi is gearing up for the release of his second collection of tracks under the moniker andGATHER. By taking mellow indie folk and adding subtle permutations within the texturing of the track, andGATHER. arrives at a sound perhaps best described as “Melancholy Martian Folk”. “Cøde Red”, the first single from Nøthing That Is Real Is Alien Tø Me., is like gently drifting through the distant reaches of your unexplored mindspace. Sink into the experience below and, if you love the single as I love the single, don’t forget to check out the full LP here.
Let’s diverge a little further from the sphere of traditional folk toward this folk-pop find from the L.A.-based act known as Valley Shine. In “Home Away”, this six-piece act creates a sound that will brighten the dark and dusty corners of your heart. Combining the down-home feel of folk with the power of orchestral pop, Valley Shine achieves a compelling musicality that will stay with you long after that first spin. Give “Home Away” an ear here…
Delafaye is the moniker of Kentucky-based musician Andrew Shockley. His debut single, “Dreamers”, has a sleepy, early-morning feel that reminds me of waking up in a warm bed on a cold morning. Those moments of calm reflection can give shape to your whole day. “Dreamers” is like that. It floats toward you in an ether of soft sounds as you cross the threshold that divides your dream-life from your waking world. This is a promising start for Delafaye. Listen to “Dreamers” below…
Sunny Pache describes himself as an “outdoor enthusiast, musician, and student living in the Appalachian mountains of western Maryland.” In his latest single, “A Song Called Garrett County”, the listener can distill a nature-centric sensibility in Pache’s musical style. The track has a rustic feel that will refresh your world-weary soul like drinking sweet tea on a porch swing. Settle down with “A Song Called Garrett County” and make sure you check out Pache’s new EP, Indian Summers, available for pre-order through iTunes here.
by Lenore LaNova
The Tucson five-piece known as Things That Aren’t Words released their 5-track debut in April. Remember the Details achieves that compelling combination of sweet and somber with an enchanting musicality and poetic lyrics. “Your Heart is an Ocean” opens the EP, drawing this listener in with a cheery, melodic indie rock that ends with the sentiment, “You were meant to drift away.” See what I mean about the sweet and somber? This juxtaposition continues throughout Remember the Details: uplifting melodies and contemplative lyrics. “Those Who Try” combines a dreamy indie sound with lines like “You’re a glutton, you’re a fiend,” sorta like a warm blanket of dark thoughts. I like it. I definitely suggest checking out Things That Aren’t Words for all you indiepop fans. Think Travis or The Decemberists.
Casey Wayne Smith out of Denver falls to the folk side of the indie spectrum. His April release – Suicide Dreams, Cigarette Magazines – is pensive; stripped down to its singer-songwriter core. The title track opens the album with a circus hue that does not persist throughout the album. That was probably a wise decision. Casey Wayne Smith showcases his talents as a songwriter in the tradition of Iron & Wine and Elliott Smith: brooding and meditative. The only near-miss for me was “Truth in Me” which toys with rocknroll without stepping beyond the indie-folk format. While it’s a decent song, it just doesn’t fit cohesively with the rest of the album. Beyond that minor issue, I enjoyed Suicide Dreams, Cigarette Magazines thoroughly. “Jesus Take Me Home” and “Suicide Dreams, Cigarette Magazines” are my two favorite tracks on the album. I recommend checking out Casey Wayne Smith’s Suicide Dreams, Cigarette Magazines, especially on those rare rainy days we get here in the Valley.
Okay, I usually hate intros and interludes that are clipped from movies and television, but I was so excited to hear the Legend of Korra clip that kicked off girl valley’s latest release, that this rule went straight out the window. I’m not 100% sure how the clip ties into the rest of the album although it takes place in the spirit world rather than on this physical plane. Likewise, the delicate music of girl valley swims toward the listener like a tenuous vapor, more dream than reality. All nine tracks wrap up in roughly ten minutes, leaving the listener more with the impression of an album than a complete LP. What you have is the potential for a truly talented songwriter in the initial stages of emergence. soften up is both beautiful and brief. I look forward to hearing more from girl valley.