“Take My Chances”
“Shapes and Things”
“Enough Enough Enough”
Doesn’t Rhyme With King
“Can’t Tell the Difference”
“Tea Colored Radio”
“All Just Pretending”
Alrighty gang, this wraps up our 2016 Awards portion of the year. A big thanks to everyone who came out to the Awards Show at the Trunk Space last night. We will now continue to cover all the new shit. More local, national, and international music coverage is on the way. Stay tuned…
Previous YabYum Awards Recaps:
Directed by Cory Davis
Sugar Skull Explosion
“I Don’t Want To”
Directed by Plastic Monsters
“Clutches of Emotion”
Directed by Justin Humbert
Directed by Bryan Preston
The Brothers Comatose
“Black Light Moon”
Directed by Colin Blackshear
“All This Money”
Directed by Parker Corey
“Losing My Charm”
Directed by Freddie Paull
Directed by Michael J. Buckius
“Notes from Wonderland”
Directed by Brandon McGill and Chelsey Louise
Directed by Genre
Directed by Matty Steinkamp
“Spoils of War”
Directed by Cory Davis
Directed by Luis “ElJayBeats” Perez
“I’d Like to Meet Your Parents”
Directed by Ryan Riggs & Jordan Pillar
Directed by Freddie Paull
“In My Feelings”
Directed by Rachael Smith
Directed by Jason Willis
The Haymarket Squares
Directed by Cory Davis
Directed by Malcolm Critcher
The Thin Bloods
“Talk Talk Talk”
Directed by Ryan Lee Caldwell
Previous Best Music Video Award Winners:
It was just last year that No Volcano first came on the scene and took home our Dark Horse Award for their debut album, Who Saved the Party?. And, this year, they returned with another full length release.
It seems like No Volcano was setting us up for disappointment.
They released the traditionally maligned sophomore effort, another full-length, while still basking in the afterglow of that first extraordinary album. But, when Dead Horse Power, dropped through Onus Records in November, No Volcano gave us this year’s best argument against the sophomore slump.
Staff writer Joe Golfen described the album as a “supercharged blast of post-punk power, heavier and darker than their debut, but still shining with the kind of pop catchiness that’s won them so many fans.”
We couldn’t agree more. If you haven’t done so already, check out Dead Horse Power by No Volcano below…
Previous Best Argument Against the Sophomore Slump Award Winners:
2011: You, Me, and Apollo
by Joe Golfen
Following up a great first album is no easy task, with the added weight of expectation and the fear of the dreaded “sophomore slump” hanging in the air. And anyone whose heard Who Saved The Party?, the beloved debut by Phoenix’s No Volcano, has every right to be wonder how the band was going to top that.
No need to worry.
The group’s second record, Dead Horse Power, is a supercharged blast of post-punk power, heavier and darker than their debut, but still shining with the kind of pop catchiness that’s won them so many fans. With the track list laid out in alphabetical order, the record keeps the energy crackling, adding a distinct garage rock grit to the band’s usual repertoire of angular guitars and pounding drums.
I sat down with singer/guitarist Jim Andreas and drummer Chris Kennedy (who also handles the recording and production for the band), to talk about the new record, their upcoming release show and why you should always set your videos to autoplay on Facebook.
Joe Golfen: This album really sounds bigger and fuller than the first one, were you trying to go for a more rocking album?
Chris Kennedy: Well, I think I’ve gotten a little better at the initial recording part, mic placement, things like that. For production, I just kept tinkering and learning new things. And that’s the big plus of recording yourself. I have unlimited time and takes to get things right. You’re not on the clock like at a studio.
Jim Andreas: Yeah at most studios you don’t have the luxury of taking things home and saying, ‘I don’t like that anymore’. Chris tweaks things big time. Now we can spend all the money on videos (laughs)!
CK: Also, because of the fact that I’m a hack (laughs), I do something that mastering engineers would cringe at, but I get that soundwave huge, almost pegged.
And everybody says you shouldn’t do that, but here’s what happens: it makes the drums sound great. When you overcompress it just a little bit, so it starts to get a little compression distortion, I love that drum sound. And we’ve recorded at super fancy studios, middle of the road studios, all of that, and never have I been able to get a drum sound I like this much.
The drums do sound great, and they sound huge. That certainly adds to the heavier sound.
JA: I think it’s heavier musically, for sure, but the songs themselves are heavier too and maybe a little darker. Just the overall mood is a little heavier.
Was that something you set out to do?
JA: No not really, but it hasn’t really been that long since the first one, so they were all written in a very short span of time. So that must have been where our heads were this time around.
CK: It was the groove of the time.
JA: We actually have 9 songs for another record already to go (laughs). We are doing 4 of them at the show.
Your release show at Crescent should be a great time. Are you doing the whole new record at the show?
JA: I think we are going to do a five from this album, four new ones and two from the first record. We really want to mix it up and keep the energy high. We love playing fun shows, that’s our top priority, so we want to make sure people have a good time.
CK: Yeah, we’ve tried to go the other route, and we’ve had bands that were pretty and quiet. And that’s very satisfying musically and all that, but you just lose people’s attention sometimes playing live. You can’t really ignore No Volcano.
What about the name, Dead Horse Power?
JA: Oh well I think it kind of fits the mood of the record, it’s a little heavy sounding. Plus it’s just a cool play on words.
I was actually shocked no one used it before. I wrote it down and then googled it thinking someone must have used it. Because with our last record, and I didn’t realize this until it was already out, but there is a band called “Who Saved the Party?”
CK: There’s also a game called Oh No Volcano, and band called “Volcano” so that confusing.
JA: But I really thought someone must have used that phrase “Dead Horse Power” somewhere, but nothing came up. But it just really fits that mood. A Little heavy, a little dark. Our bassist Jake (Sevier) said we should change the band name to that (laughs).
And you didn’t mean to put the songs in alphabetical order?
CK: Ha well no it was accidental. Because unless you put a number for each song, the computer just puts them in order.
JA: So when he sent us mixes, that’s how they were coming over. And given the task of coming up with an order, which is always tough, this just worked and was super easy.
CK: And you don’t have to put numbers on the record.
JA: And you don’t have to argue about it (laughs).
The video for “Blackout” turned out really amazing.
JA: yeah that turned out so well, I’m so happy with that. That’s a guy from Tucson named Jason Willis and he just did such an awesome job.
CK: That guy is super talented, we sent him such crappy iPhone video. He didn’t come film us, we just sent him some terrible footage from practice on our phones, and a week-and-a-half later, that amazing thing was done.
JA: Even my face, I just shot that singing into the phone and it looked so stupid, but that video is amazing. We were worried, it was like, do you still like the band after what we just sent you?
CK: And really, that song to me was kind of a sleeper, I almost thought we might cut that one from the record, but it really started to click after a while.
JA: And that video really makes the song I think, kind of gives it a new life.
CK: Plus, it seems like people are way more willing to watch a video on Facebook. A lot fewer people will click through to Bandcamp or whatever.
JA: You just got to make sure the video autoplays when people are scrolling through Facebook. It really sucks them in (laughs.)
Details: No Volcano Dead Horse Power Album Release, with Father Figures and Less Pain Forever and DJ Todd Joseph.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 26
Where: Crescent Ballroom, 308 N 2nd Ave, Phoenix
Tickets: $8 advance / $10 at the door
For more info check out the Facebook event page.
Well there you have it folks, our 2015 Awards are done! Now that this month has flown by and we find ourselves eleven twelfths closer to the end of the year, it’s time to begin our regularly scheduled programming. We’re going for gold this year with new content and features so get ready for some new shit. Meanwhile, if you missed any, here is the 2015 Awards Recap!
No Volcano? Never heard of them. At least, I never heard them before this year and now I can’t seem to stop listening. The Phoenix four-piece released their full-length debut, Who Saved the Party?, through Onus Records last January. I briefly encountered their music through the music video for “Tribute”, the first single for the album which came out at the end of 2014 in prelude to the release show. I was immediately interested in hearing more, but nothing prepared me for the rocknroll gem that is No Volcano. From start to finish, Who Saved the Party? presents a unified sound that diverges from other music we heard in 2015. Even now, a year later, I relish each listening. No Volcano takes this year’s Dark Horse Award because they arrived on the scene seemingly out of no where (although the members have performed in other acts over the years) and unveiled one of the best albums of 2015.
by Song River
Never reckless, always deliberate, lead vox/guitarist Jedidiah Foster of The Bittersweet Way chatted a bit with Song River, staff writer at YabYum, about their new album, Songs We Want to Sing, due out later this week!
Song River: Let’s talk about the songwriting on this new album, Songs We Want to Sing. I believe you were quoted as saying, “Sometimes the best songs are the ones that happen without effort.”
Jedidiah Foster: For me, I’ve found that the songs of mine I end up liking the most are the songs that almost write themselves. They are the ones that always end up resonating the most, personally. They aren’t as filtered, so thoughts come out that I wouldn’t normally think to express. Lots of common, recurring themes happen… each time with slightly different perspectives. I wish I could work that way all the time.
SR: Where were you when the first song effortlessly came to light?
JF: The first song for the EP is “Goodbye In C”. It was written immediately before running out the door on my way out to California to play an acoustic show. I played it that night. The effortless song phenomenon goes back almost as long as I’ve been actively writing songs. The very first album I made – Rain Dancing – had a completely different track listing when we first started recording it. I kept writing new songs during the recording process that I liked better than the ones we had planned!
SR: I overheard another artist recently said toilet paper was one of their favorite items to use to ‘jot’ down ideas… how do you personally, on the norm, partake in songwriting?
JF: It depends. I almost never write anything down. I will occasionally record myself playing things on my phone, but not very often. In general, my rule is that if I can’t remember it the next day, then it clearly wasn’t good enough.
SR: Does songwriting sometimes feel forced?
JF: There are absolutely times when it feels forced. Inspiration is an elusive thing. Art versus craft and all of that. I have personal tricks to find it… the most common one is writing about writing. A LOT of my songs are about writing songs. The songs that feel forced don’t last. They aren’t usually fun to play, and people don’t connect with them as a result. Usually they won’t ever even make it to the performance stage.
SR: Why on this album did you feel the need to arrange, record, and mix as quickly as possible? Is this production looking to be in real-time? Is it a step into the organic?
JF: I think it was really just a matter of trying to keep the sense of immediacy that we were going for in the songwriting. I always arrange on the fly, so that part wasn’t really new, but I also have a habit of obsessing over the mixing stage for WAY too long. I wanted to break away from that, and see what we could carry out with a very tight timeline. In order to force ourselves to work quickly, we had our release date and a mastering date set before we ever started recording. We didn’t even have the last song written at that point. That final song ended up being the single – “Not Sad Tonight”. We ended up getting done way ahead of the imposed schedule we had set. Just a couple of weeks from start to finish. And I was working with a broken rib and a crazy work schedule at the same time!
SR: Buzzwords such as “Indie” and “Organic” are being used commonly now its seems to describe toothpaste, beauty care products, food, beverages, clothing and even art. What do these two buzzwords mean to you and are they holding the same meaning as they once used to?
JF: As buzzwords, they definitely don’t hold the same meaning they once did. I feel like those are words being used to lend a sense of authenticity to a process that is not very authentic at all. Unless you’re recording live in a room together, there’s very little that is organic about the recording process. I think there are approaches that can make the end result FEEL more organic and human… but many of those approaches involve extra trickery to meet that result. As far as indie goes, I think we fit that bill about as well as anyone. We do EVERYTHING ourselves. Writing / recording / artwork / videos / releasing / booking / press. Everything. The only thing we don’t do ourselves is the mastering of the records… and we used to do that ourselves, too. Well worth the cost to have a professional do that, though. It makes all the difference in the world.
SR: Let some light in on the album cover idea?
JF: As with many things in Bittersweet Way land, it started as a joke. I had a couple of ideas, and joked that we would just do two different covers. Then, I thought that since there was 5 songs on the EP, that every song should have its own cover. And then I started telling people about it, so I had to actually DO it! There is an “official” cover, but I like the idea of having different things out there. For the release show, they’re all going to be wrapped up, so you won’t know what cover you’re getting.
Speaking of jokes, all the artwork is made up of pictures from Manchester… because of Morrissey.
SR: Why did you decide to join forces with Onus Records? How as it working with Serene Dominic?
JF: That man is one of the few bona fide geniuses in Phoenix. I also play in his backing band, The Gemseekers, so it was a natural move for us to start working with him. I don’t want to spoil any of the fun around Onus Records, so I’ll just leave it at that.
SR: How often does The Bittersweet Way like to put out new music? How important do you find keeping it ‘fresh’ to be? Is it important to you to do new material or do you get that extra spark of charge when its an old favorite and the audience is singing along with you?
JF: This will be the 5th release in as many years. I think that putting out something once a year is about the right frequency. A couple of years back, we mostly threw out our entire back catalog and started over. I think it’s important to have those ties back to the past the people can connect to, though. So, we certainly make a point to play some old favorites. For our release show, we’re going to be bringing a notorious old song out of the archives.
SR: Is the world always in need of that special Morrissey style and touch?
JF: Always. It’s always been humorous to me that my voice gets compared to Morrissey so often. He was never really an influence on me at all. I think I just naturally gravitated toward pretty melodies, and I’ve always been more of a crooner. So that’s how things come out. As always, I take the things that make me laugh and turn them into songs… so we really leaned on that with this release. The single is specifically about how I sing like Morrissey, and one of the other songs references listening to his song, “My Love Life”. The video for that song features him driving a Rolls Royce around Phoenix circa 1991.
SR: Shoe-gazing is a term well-known in the UK… do you feel this new album partakes still in that same motion to some degree, or how do you view it?
JF: The second song – “Nonfilter Fantasy” – is definitely a shoe gaze-y song. That style of music had a huge impact on me when I was younger, and it always comes out in almost everything I’ve ever done. The chiming tones and washes of tremolo and delay are touchstones for a lot of my recorded output. This record actually probably has the least amount of those tropes than anything I’ve done in recent years.
SR: Your release is set foor July the Fourth at The Rogue Bar in Scottsdale. Any special message behind that particular date and chosen and the elements behind this new album Songs We Want to Sing?
JF: We’re releasing a record that reflects British influence in lyrics, sound, and artwork on July 4. That’s hilarious to me. It was serendipity, in the sense that it wasn’t really planned. I was working with Manny at The Rogue to try to line up a date, and he’s the one who suggested it. It’s kind of perfect. Celebration is already the order of the day… so come continue the celebration with us!
Songs We Want To Sing will be released to digital storefronts and Bandcamp on June 30. A limited edition CD will be released on July 4th at The Rogue. The CD will be released in 5 editions of 20 – each with a different piece of cover art. The 100 total CDs will be wrapped up so the cover can’t be seen, so no one knows which cover they are getting at the time of purchase.
Genre, Manifest Sound, Field Tripp, and Some Magical Animal** will also be performing at the release show. The digital release can be pre-ordered now, right here. The pre-order includes an immediate download of the lead single “Not Sad Tonight”.
** Correction: The bands listed here were altered due to an error in our initial published content.