Boston’s Lucky Dice just dropped his debut LP, M.O.S.A. (Memoirs of a Starving Artist), last week and this chill number comes to us from that release. “Memoirs” sets a vintage soul vibe with its kickback beat (compliments of Berdz) as Lucky Dice lays out contemplative lyrics. Check “Memoirs” from Lucky Dice below and then head here to get your own digi-download of M.O.S.A. (Memoirs of a Starving Artist).
The L.A.-based emcee maintains a steady lyrical spit on “Coast” that will bring you current on the the artist’s life and inner workings. Pwest applies an indie slant to his brand of hip hop that reminds me of the Anticon crew from a bit further up the coast. I really don’t know what I like more on this single: the subtle strength of Pwest’s lyrics or the thoughtful lack of unnecessary adornment. “Coast” is a stripped-down single, but that makes it no less compelling. Check out “Coast” by Pwest below…
Phoenix’s Big Limn teamed up with the beatmaker out of Tampa known as Starlawd. The result? Third Eye Society: a fourteen-track album of fresh takes including this stellar single. Nimble rhymes ride old school beats on “Each Day I Rise” with a little added horn flavor. Seriously, Big Limn’s rhyme style is straight maniacal with how quickly he can spit out a phrase. Give “Each Day I Rise” a spin below and then head here for the complete LP from Big Limn and StarLawd.
Ever wonder what it might be like for a black kid growing up in a predominantly white community? Like Australia? Davey shares his experience with just that on his new single, “White Kids”. Now, white people, please don’t go into this song thinking that you’re suddenly going to be totally woke by the end of “White Kids” and embarrass everyone else. Davey is only offering his own personal narrative here, but he does so in silver-tongue style against a minimal urban beat. Give the single a spin below…
This pretty slick collaborative effort comes to us from UK producer Vidorra and US rapper Young Twaun. “No Rolex” takes the best of both worlds and smashes it together. You get the vigor of Young Twaun’s rhyme style set against the distinctively different soundscape of Vidorra. The DJ, producer, and multi-instrumentalist from Birmingham might only be 17 years old, but he’s doing some interesting things in the texturing on this track that other producers would be wise to give the once over.
This new single comes to us from Treezy’s latest album, Phoenix. But all you Phoenicians should hang on for a sec, Treezy is actually from Seattle by way of Louisiana. On “Burnout”, Treezy’s rhyme style is both slinky and slightly aggressive at the same time. He holds to the beat, which is stripped-down, but solid, and proves you don’t need a lot to do a lot. Listen to “Burnout” from Treezy and then head here for the complete Phoenix experience.
Kansas City musician Jackson Alexander has a unique approach to HipHop or, excuse me, “Folk Hop”. Alexander takes his own unique rhyme style and applies it to some Heartland folk. You know, kind of like Rap-Rock, but a little earthier and, hopefully, a whole lot cooler in its connotation. Either way, “Rolling Stone” by Jackson Alexander pushes those traditional genre boundaries and that’s something we can always get behind. Check out the single below….
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.
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.
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.
The mask-wearing musical duo known as Bad Flamingo doesn’t really seem to have the public-sharing-push of this social media generation. In fact, the details about the musicians behind Bad Flamingo aren’t very forthcoming so we’ll have to let the music speak for itself. Their debut single, and only single to date, has a slick but stripped down style that carries enough of that Western swaggger to pass for a real desert rat, no matter their true home. “Whiskey Lies” is a promising start for Bad Flamingo. Let’s hope more tracks are to follow. Until then, you can start with “Whiskey Lies” below…
Hey, I know a lot of us are going through a rough time emotionally right now. Imad Royal seems to get that too. His new single reminds us that we all need to chill the fuck out. Effervescent energy flows through “Smile” while Imad Royal’s mantra-filled lyrics provide a moment of zen in this chaotic time of human history. The D.C. singer/songwriter/producer is currently out on tour with Louis the Child, but only has a week of downtime before hitting the road again. Give “Smile” a spin below and check here to see if Imad Royal will be stopping in your town. If you dig the single, continue on to the complete EP, Everything Happens, here.
The singer-songwriter known as Venture recently made the move from Portland to Phoenix so Valley residents should put forth the extra effort to get to know this transplanted songbird and her ethereal voice. “Sweet to Me” is the latest single from Venture who released “Diamonds” and “Sober” back in 2016 with accompanying music videos. Venture’s unique aesthetic extends beyond her music to her videos. There’s something a little old-fashioned thrown in with the very NOW that lends a refined air to the urban stripped-down style. Check out “Sweet to Me” below or head here to procure your own digi-download of the track.
There’s a long tradition of songwriters writing music as a response to another songwriter’s work that goes back to poets writing about shepherds and nymphs and probably even before that. “i still love you” was written in response to Jessie Reyez’s viral hit, “Figures“, which came out last year. Both singles can stand alone, each one raw and emotional in its own right, but together, they tell a story of love and betrayal that will tear at your heartstrings. Call Me Karizma will be playing 51 West in Tempe on March 10th so make sure all you locals mark your calendars. Before then, make sure you give “i still love you” a listen below…
This indie-electro artist from Idaho release this new single in February as follow-up to his debut track, “Sold”. Apsley might just be getting his footing under him in the music biz, but these two singles both suggest his future might be far reaching. On”Running”, Apsley layers crisp sounding elements to producing a mellow but still vivifying sound enhanced by his own effervescent vocals. Take “Running” for a spin below or head to iTunes to score your own copy.
Back in January, one of the Rose brothers (I can never tell which) released a new EP called Winter Trash. The title track of that release carries a somber and somewhat dejected air that permeates the entire release, even the kitschy closer, “Zack n Kelly”. Staying true to the lofi-style of the Roses that combines bedroom indie pop tinged with experimental underpinings, Niko Rose gives shape to some truly meditative singles. Check out Winter Trash by Niko Rose here, but feel free to start with the title track below for just a little sample.
Alt-R&B is growing in popularity with musicians like Alessia Cara and a number of new artists. And now you can add L.A.’s Wit to that list. Her chill new single “Love’s Not Enough” combines blues with contemporary permutations in indie pop that provide the launching pad for Wit’s sultry and powerful vocals. This is the second single from Wit so if you dig “Love’s Not Enough” consider checking out “Broken Clock”. Both tracks are available through Wit’s Soundcloud page, but I suggest starting with “Love’s Not Enough” below…
My name is Nader, and I’m a commercial portrait and fashion photographer from Phoenix, Arizona.
How did you get your start?
I started years ago as the buddy with the disposable camera in high school. Yep, disposable. Kodak and Walgreens made some money from me back in the day, haha. As an adult I was doing corporate video production, and decided to invest in a DSLR for the first time in my life. From there, I took a ton of crappy images, but stuck to it and fostered my craft for several years. I’ve been shooting full-time for about 3 years now.
What inspires you?
People and light. It’s really that simple. I love sculpting with light, and I love interacting with my subjects to create.
What do you like about AZ?
I’m originally from Chicago, so my go-to answer used to be the weather. Nowadays, I have to say that Arizona has inspired me to connect with the planet more. Sounds cheesy, but the breathtaking views throughout this state have made this city boy appreciate nature and Earth with all of my heart.
Where can we see you(r) work?
I always update my IG and my site. I’d love to connect.
What would you like to accomplish before you die?
I want to see as much of the world as I can while engaging with and photographing the wonderful people who inhabit it.
Brand new band Parlor Birds joined us at the Birdcage, that is, the Radio Phoenix Studios, earlier this month and now the podcast is available for your listening pleasure. We chatted with Mike and Kuhar about the band, what’s coming up, and, as usual, our guests brought along some killer tracks to play on the air. If you like what you hear, check out their second show at Rogue Bar on Saturday, March 4, and tune into the YabYum Music Hour every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month at 7 PM only on Radio Phoenix!
So, I’ve been a Playboy Manbaby fan since the band’s inception or, at least, since their very first show. And, as I’ve stated before, they keep getting better with every single album they put out (which is really saying something considering the band has been consistently putting out music since 2012).
I’m not bragging when I claim to have loved the Manbabies since they were Babybabies. I’m just trying to qualify the following statement: their new album really is their best album ever, hands down.
Playboy Manbaby will release Don’t Let it Be this coming weekend at The Trunk Space in downtown Phoenix. This much-anticipated follow-up to 2014’s Electric Babyman contains 11 feisty tracks that mark real growth for the band, musically speaking.
The songs on Don’t Let it Be are refined in a way we haven’t heard before from the punk-funk outfit. They go beyond the raw explosiveness of earlier releases to carefully constructed songcraft. And they do so without sacrificing that savage emotional force that made them a crowd favorite early on.
Don’t Let it Be kicks of with “You Can Be a Fascist Too” – the first single off the album which was released just in time for that inauspicious inauguration. Then the second track, “Last Man Standing”, highlights the band’s horns section – David Cosme (trumpet) and Ricky Smash (sax and we know that’s not your real name) – before “Bored Broke & Sober” takes over. “Cadillac Car” is already to be a crowd favorite and is in contention for personal favorite from the album along with the apocalyptic “I’m So Affluent” and the super rambunctious number, “White Jesus”.
The album bears the mark of maturation, not just in the lyrics, but in the instrumentation as well. The orchestration is thoughtful, impeccably timed, and, well, rowdy as fuck.
Robbie Pfeffer, lyricist and vocalist, has a reputation for being a blitzkrieg onstage. Offstage, however, he’s the guy that will pet your dog and ask about your mother. Rather than suggesting that these are two separate and oppositional expressions, I’m putting forth the argument that Pfeffer is the quintessential example of the much-maligned millennial. He’s the meta-millenial. Kind-hearted, community-focused, and facing a world that keeps threatening collapse with a can-do attitude. The existential angst runs high in these young ones, but that’s not going to stop them from cold-crushing outdated conventions with their dad-staches and second hand clothes. They were born to rage against the dying of the light. That mixture of humor and personal fortitude comes through in the lyrics on this album in high shine.
If you go in for the riled-up cross-genre style of music Playboy Manbaby has become known for over the years, Don’t Let It Be might be you’re favorite album this year. You’ll laugh. You’ll dance. You might call your boss and quit your job so it might be best to hide your phone before smashing that play button. This album has that fury in equal measure to that signature Playboy Manbaby humor.
In keeping with the “For the Record” tradition, I had the chance to ask Robbie Pfeffer some questions about the album, the impending release show, and what’s next for Playboy Manbaby.
YabYum: Let’s start with all the details. Where did you record the album? Who helped out?
Robbie Pfeffer: We recorded with Eamon Ford at his old house, then at Chad[Dennis, the drummer]’s house, then at his new house. Lots of different houses. A ton of people have offered me great feedback on this album and helped it become what it is. Also we’re really stoked to have Lolipop and Dirty Water Records help make it a tangible thing!
So, what’s with the title? Do you bear some Beatles’ ill will?
I think it fits the album pretty well, it kind of sets the tone that this is not going to be a “chill” experience.
With previous releases, the tracks seem a bit more of a cathartic drive. That energy is still very much present on the new album, but it seems like there’s more of a focus on songcraft, both lyrically and instrumentally. Has PBMB shifted their approach to songwriting? Or is this just the natural effects of the maturation that evolves from playing together for several years?
Ever since this band formed we always heard that we are band that doesn’t translate well past the live setting. So we really wanted to make a record that stands on it’s own even if you’ve never seen us. That’s the goal, at least.
On a personal writing level I’m not trying to hide the meaning of what we’re talking about in any way any more. I want to take the most direct path to the point I can find. I really don’t want subjectivity anymore, I want specific meaning. That might change in the future, but for now, that’s how I’m approaching writing.
One of the things I like most about PBMB is the band’s ability to tap into the current cultural malaise and channel that angst into some sort of purifying flurry. As the principal songwriter for PBMB, would you say that’s an unintended consequence? Or is there some underlying philosophy at work here?
I’m an anxious dude and I try to stay alert to the societal changes around me. Music has been a way for me to work that out without drowning in my own existential dread. Also, I know I’m not the only person who questions what it means to be a person and the dynamics of power that exist in this hyper-active world we live in so if people can know that it freaks me out too, but I’m still trying my best, maybe that’ll be comforting to some people. Really I just want everybody to treat everyone else with a little more empathy and kindness.
It seems like you’re a real nice guy (irl) so my guess is that you just have a real low bullshit tolerance level to manifest the sort of aggression we see onstage. Is there a line for you between the performative persona and the other guy? Or is Playboy Manbaby the place to purge all that aggression so you’re not punching people in the throat? The people want to know.
That’s very kind of you! I really disdain violence of any kind. My hope is that when people are dancing at shows they can respect everyone around them and make sure that while they’re having a good time they’re not ruining anyone else’s good time. Generally people have been really great about this, but in the few instances where it’s gotten out of hand we have no issue stopping a show to make sure everyone gets to enjoy a safe, inclusive environment.
We’re a band of nerds and outcasts and we’re not about to be a platform for macho dudes to beat up on vulnerable people trying to have a good time. If anyone feels uncomfortable at our show for any reason please contact any of us and we will address it immediately without question.
The release show happens this coming weekend and the lineup is pretty stellar. Want to tell the people of the internet what they can expect by way of lineup and location?
I’m super excited about this line-up. We ran into the Thin Bloods dudes on NYE and were excited to hear after they’ve all been scattered across the country and busy with other stuff they happen to be back in Phoenix. We’ve shared a ton of great memories playing with them and they’re one of my all-time favorite bands so that’s fantastic news. Also, super stoked on The Darts, Genre, and Andy Warpigs. All great musicians and great people who bring rad stuff to the community.
What’s next for Playboy Manbaby? Touring? Videos? Sit back and relax for a while as reward for a job well done?
Hopefully, all of the above. We took way too damn long on this record and I never wanna take that long again. We’ve got like 10 new songs that we haven’t recorded and we just wanna make as much art as we can until we collapse.
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.
YabYum: 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.
I 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.
What’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.