LUAU stopped by the Radio Phoenix studio a few days before their Gone EP album release. We talked the release show, Phoenix music subreddits, and Crescent Ballroom burritos among other hot topics. Plus, the band brought down a ton of great Valley (+ Las Cruces!) bands to play live on the airwaves. Check it out.
Make sure to tune in every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month at 7 PM for each live episode of The YabYum Hour, only on radiophoenix.org.
Not only of his own bands (of which there are many), but of many great lofi/garage/punkrock bands across this fine nation as well.
We here at YabYum came across his music a couple years ago and were instantly hooked to Jaime’s brand music: garage pop with grit. Recently, however, I came to the realization that I knew absolutely nothing about Mr. Lamb beyond his musical offerings and decided to change that.
So I sought him out through the power of the internet and he filled me in on all the Jaime Paul Lamb happenings from his main act, Moonlight Magic, to putting out a punk rock compilation to playing while only wearing a dog collar…
When did you first arrive to Arizona and how did you get involved in the music scene here?
There are really three answers to that question because I’ve lived in Phoenix three different times and each time was distinctly different.
I got out of rehab in NY in the summer of 1990 and I didn’t want to go back to CT, where I had grown up. I was 19 years old, a high school dropout, and had been laid off from my job at a machine shop, and had a gnarly breakup with my girlfriend. She was no bargain – but I don’t want to get into that here. The counselor at the treatment center said that they had a deal with a halfway house in Phoenix and that they sent a lot of people from NY/CT/NJ out there. I said I’d like to go.
I moved to Phoenix – alone and with nothing – and lived at the halfway house around 7th st & Indian School and worked at Lindstrom’s Car Wash on Central. It was a cool, simple life.
Anyway, I picked up a gig drumming in a Hardcore Punk group called the Swooping Monkeybats. We were sort of a composite of things like Rudimentary Peni, the Misfits, and the Cramps. We played a lot with our friends the Glass Heroes. Once, we even had Sublime open for us at the Atomic Café, which is now called Pub Rock in South Scottsdale.
It was a cool time for a few years. I was off of drugs and made some really great friends. We would go to Tracks In Wax and buy a lot of Garage and Surf and Punk records from Don. I had a job at Tower Christown. There were a lot of romantic drama scenes at Tower. It was cool. Me and my other friends played music, drank coffee and smoked cigarettes. Luckily, I had a 4-track recorder, so I got to document some of that period.
In 1994, I moved out of Phoenix. I wound up in Houston TX for 9 months. A couple friends of mine lived there. We played and recorded some music and gigged a little in Houston and Austin, but I just really hated Texas, so I moved to Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa (CA) for a couple years. I ended up getting a drug habit but, whatever, it was cool. We had a Garage Punk band called the Dropouts and we used to play with the Stitches and Duane Peters’ Exploding Fuck Dolls, who were our buddies at the time and we did that until we ran out of money and resources and then I bailed back to Phoenix.
I moved back in 1997 and started a garage band called the Van Buren Wheels. I played Vox Continental organ and wrote all the tunes. We had a good run. Vince Bocchini, from Los Dirtclods & Rabid Rabbit, was the singer and Steve Shelton from the Glass Heroes played guitar. It was cool and people seemed to like us, but I got back into drugs and it kind of ruined the band. So, after a couple years of that, I moved to Vegas.
I was in Vegas and Los Angeles and Minneapolis and back home to CT doing my thing for the next 15 years or so before coming back to Phoenix in 2014.
What are some of the early, perhaps unknown, artists and bands that helped define the sound you go for?
My favorite rock band is the Velvet Underground, hands down. And I don’t care how cliché that is because everybody loves the Velvets and says how influential they are. The Velvets are actually my Top Five favorite bands – they inhabit 5 positions until another band is allowed to even chart. So, that’s how that is.
Other than that, I like a lot of stuff. I listen to a lot of Free Jazz, Hard Bop, Avant Garde, European Concert Music, 70s Power Pop, Indian Classical Music, 60s Khmer Pop, Thai Pop, Gamelan, Mid-80s Black Metal, 50s Exotica, Lounge Music, 60s Ska, Northern Soul, obscure 50s Doo Wop, 80s No Wave, Library Music like the KPM Library, 60s Bossa Nova, Dutchbeat, Early 80s Hardcore, 60s Punk, Krautrock, etc. – I can go on and on. I’ve worked in record stores and have been a very avid music fan my whole life. I’m into everything.
But, to answer your question more directly, in terms of some other less conspicuous bands that I have found influential, I would say the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Albert Ayler, the Downliners Sect, Martin Denny, Chaino, the Flamin’ Groovies, the Electric Eels and some of Billy Childish’s work from the 80’s should be enough to make the point.
How did you get into self-recording? I believe you record at home, what is your current set-up like?
I only went digital a few years ago. I have always been a little behind the curve, technology-wise. I’m currently running Ableton Live 9 as my DAW and I have a Focusrite interface, or whatever it’s called. It’s the thing that the mics plug into, like a pre-amp. I don’t know – I’m not much of a techie. I had a good buddy, Bruce Connole (who was in the Jetzons, Billy Clone and the Same, the Cryptics, the Revenants, etc. – a real Phoenix legend, if you ask me) set me up with the whole thing, and he laid a bunch of plug-in suites on me. He really hooked me up.
Anyway, I have some decent mics and I’ve learned how to use the equipment enough to make some sounds I like. I get better every time I do it though. I’m constantly learning stuff just from getting in there and doing it. Of course, I couldn’t be bothered to actually read the manual or watch tutorials. I don’t have time to do things the right way. Haha. Duh. I’m way too punk for that.
What band(s) are you in currently? I know many of the tracks and bands on your Bandcamp, SoundCloud and YouTube pages are of older bands but honestly I can’t tell if you recorded these recently or 20 years ago!
Currently my main group is Moonlight Magic. We’re instrumental and we write all our own music – no covers at all. We gig a lot and we just cut a record for a future LP release on Slope Records. Cris Kirkwood from the Meat Puppets produced it. He’s extremely talented and insightful and has become a really great friend – we went and had Cambodian food the other night and laughed our asses off at nothing – it was great.
I started playing guitar for Eddy Detroit a couple years ago. I used to see him in the 90’s and always thought his thing was super cool – in an authentically “outsider” kind of way. Eddy is a true weirdo. He always had that tropical, Exotica element with the hand drums and his association with Sun City Girls, who are so awesome that they actually defy critique. I have no idea what to say about them. I love them. Anyway, check out Eddy’s stuff if you’re unfamiliar – it is very unique and sort of voyeuristic, like you’re listening to someone come unraveled on mushrooms.
I had the good fortune to go with Eddy and I Bob (from the Very Idea Of Fucking Hitler) and Hisham Mayet (Sublime Frequencies and Assophon, who put out Eddy’s last two records – including Black Crow Gazebo that we recorded at my house which had Dan Clark/AKA Clear Bob from the Feederz/Exterminators/Victory Acres and Alan Bishop from the Sun City Girls on it) on a European tour. We played all over the place and it was amazing and I love all those guys.
Andrew Jemsek (from Haunted Cologne, Button Struggler, Fathers Day and a million other things around town over the years) and I had been trying to get something going for about a year. He’s just a super-talented younger guy, like me, with an incredible sense of humor and he’s become a really good friend. His exceedingly virtuosic musicality is only surpassed by his deep, deep humility… he’d be the first one to tell you. So, Andrew and I started writing all of these lounge-y little melodies and nice songs and bossa novas and sambas, etc. because we wanted to make a pornographic movie starring Eddy as “The Coconut Man” who has this foot fetish (anybody who knows Eddy knows that this in reference to his storied obsession with girls’ tootsies) who ends up eating out this girl’s butt. Andrew and I were going to be hard-boiled detective types who were trying to put a collar on Eddy.
But the music ended up developing faster than the porno film so we figured we might as well round out the band. I had recently done a rehearsal on another project with Ruth Wilson (from Tempe’s legendary Flathead) who was a friend of mine from the 90’s – around the time everybody was playing at Nita’s Hideaway. I always loved her playing and I thought she was a super-cool chick, so I called her up and she loved the idea. I’m not sure if we ever told her about the porno movie, but whatever. She is rock solid and her and Eddy make one of the tightest rhythm sections I’ve ever played with.
So, we wrote a ton of tunes and have been playing regular engagements at cocktail lounges like the Bikini (every First Friday 6pm-8pm) and the Womack, Carly’s Bistro (every 4th Saturday 10pm-2am), art events and festivals, private parties, casuals and other things that come up (though we’re decidedly trying to stay out of the rock rooms – because we are a real “Lounge Combo” – we don’t need to be the center of attention, under lights and shit. We are fine with being wallpaper and accompanying whatever else is going on. We are very subliminal and ambient like that. We get in people’s ears differently than rock groups do. We kind of take the back door into your mind).
Anyway, Moonlight Magic is my main thing – and we just recorded that LP for Slope – but I still do other projects like Thee Faded Pyctures, which is a 60s Punk-style project that I sing and play organ in. It’s a lot of fun and high energy. We gig infrequently, but we did record an album last year and we’re still looking for a label to release it.
Oh, and I play bass in a jazz trio with a killer local drummer named Troy Maskell (from Thee Madcaps, among other things) and Steve Asetta (a tenor saxophonist that I used to play with a lot in NYC/CT when I played upright bass on jazz projects). We play straight ahead and “Out” jazz and have a regular thing at Carly’s Bistro, every 2nd Saturday from 10pm-2am.
And, of course, I do my home recording stuff where I play all the instruments, but I also have invitational recording projects with friends. We’ve got a couple of those going right now. One is called Puppy and the Hand Jobs – kind of a sleazy, punk/r&r thing like Crime or The Jabbers. We will have an LP out next year on Loose Grip Records out of Los Angeles. And another [project] called STNKY FRKS (part Pagans, part Black Randy, part Yardbirds).
It seems like you’re a multi-instrumentalist. Do you lay down all the parts of your recordings?
Yeah, if I’m doing a home recording or sketching out an idea, I’ll usually get all the parts and the arrangement together on the guitar or piano, then I’ll sometimes lay down a scratch guitar track to a click so I have something to lay down drums/percussion to. After that, I’ll either do a guitar or bass track – whichever one seems like the better way to go. Then, whatever…organ, vocals, hand percussion, kazoo, ambient noise.
After I have all the tracks, I EQ everything, mix levels and usually apply reverb (where needed), compression, and a limiter. I’m pretty basic and I don’t know a whole lot. I’m not interested in the techie/production aspects. I don’t know anything about the plug-in suites I have. I know enough to get by.
What’s your view of the garage/lofi/punk scene currently here in the Valley and State? I’m sure you’ve witnessed a few changes. Although, maybe it’s stayed pretty consistent?
I have to admit that I haven’t paid much attention. I tend to not like modern Garage bands. And I definitely can’t stand going out to see live rock bands. It’s loud and I don’t drink and I’m not out cruising for sex so the whole thing is pretty boring and too loud. I’m not interested in that kind of night life, despite the fact that I’ve lived and died in stupid rock clubs for the last 25 years or whatever. I’d rather go ride my bike or take a walk than go see some band go through the motions in a rock club. Not all bands, of course, but the vast majority of output from most rock bands is redundant & unnecessary. I know that the same critique can be leveled at me and I’m okay with that. Don’t get me wrong, I like music and most of my friends are in bands and doing creative things but it is so fucking rare to hear somebody doing something that is truly mind-blowing and innovative. And again, I’m not saying I am capable of that either. I’m getting a little depressed just thinking about it.
Could you tell us about the WE’RE LOUD: 90s Cassette Punk Unknowns release you helped put together?
I had a Yamaha 4-track cassette recorder throughout most of the 90’s. I wrote a lot of tunes, had a million bands and recording projects and documented just about everything with that 4-track. Not just Punk either – we did a lot of Psych and non-idiomatic free improvisation, noise-scapes and Musique Concrete – but the stuff people were interested in was the Garage Punk material.
Anyway, about 5 years ago, I was living in Los Angeles again and I had this cache of demo and home recorded cassettes from all of mine and my friends’ bands that had never seen the light of day. I literally had all these cassettes in a taped-together Chuck Taylor shoe-box. I figured I digitize everything and put it up on Bandcamp or something.
But then I got the idea to hit up my buddy Bazooka Joe Alameida. I knew him in Las Vegas years ago. I met him at the Double Down and we connected over a mutual obsession with Crypt Records’ Back From The Grave and Garage Punk Unknowns compilations. He eventually got into the business of putting out Garage Punk records and had a label called Black Gladiator. He also worked for Slovenly Records – Pete Slovenly/AKA Sticker Guy, who every band in the 90’s had their nice vinyl stickers made by.
Anyway, I figured if anybody would be able to do something with these recordings it would be Joe. So, I sent him some mp3s – just a taste, maybe 10 tunes – and he emailed me back saying, “we HAVE to put this out!” He was so enthusiastic about it that I started to get all excited too, and then he got Pete involved and Pete was really, really into it too.
The part of the process that blew my mind the most was that they got Tim Warren to master all my cassette recordings for vinyl. He was a hero of ours because he was the guy behind CRYPT Records and all of those great comps that meant so much to me and my contemporaries on the Garage Punk scene in the 90’s. So I was unbelievably stoked to have a guy like that involved.
Anyway, the record came out a year or two ago – a double LP with pics and liners and the works. They did an amazing job with it and kept me in the loop the whole time. You can buy it at record stores or online. It’s easy to find.
There are even festivals in Europe called “WE’RE LOUD” after a song I wrote that’s on that comp, but I never get invited to come over and play them! Jajaja!
What’s upcoming for Jaime Paul Lamb? More releases? Any shows booked?
There’s a lot on the horizon right now and I’ve been extremely busy.
Moonlight Magic has been gigging like crazy (catch us at the Bikini Lounge every First Friday from 6-8pm and at Carly’s Bistro every 4th Saturday from 10pm-2am and we’re usually at the The Womack once a month, so watch their calendar – You can find our Facebook page pretty easily too, if you want to see our updated calendar) and we’ve got that record coming out on Slope Records.
Thee Faded Pyctures have an album recorded and have been gigging sporadically. We just need to get somebody to put it out.
I’ve also been playing bass in Mighty Sphincter, Doug Clark’s legendary Phoenix Horror-Punk band that’s been around for a million years. We’ve been rehearsing and working on an LP and some shows.
The Gnomes actually have two LP’s worth of stuff recorded that I haven’t bothered to shop. I wish someone would put that shit out because it’s some of the best music I’ve ever written. It’s a shame that more people can’t hear that stuff.
Puppy & the Hand Jobs are putting out a vinyl LP on Loose Grip later this year. We might have a hard time getting gigs because I play naked in that band with a dog collar on because I’m “Puppy”.
And then I have a bunch of recording and basically conceptual art projects called: Wrong Hole, STNKY FRKS, The Lamebrains, TRD STRM, and a bunch of the stuff that’s on my Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages.
Do you have any parting words of wisdom for the young kids out there that want to live the grimey, rocknroll lifestyle, free-wheeling about the country playing and recording in a ton of bands, crashing wherever they can and surviving just long enough to make it to the next gig?
You know, I think the thing that matters most is trying to live authentically. I try to have real experiences that are unmediated by things like my cellphone and computer programs. Not that I’m a Luddite or any kind of curmudgeon – I simply insist on having a genuine and visceral experience in life.
I have no regrets about my past. I’ve had a good run. I’ve gotten into a lot of adventures and misadventures, but I love my life. In fact, overall, heroin has had a positive effect on my life, if I look at some of the meaningful experiences I’ve had over the years and all the causal cycles that were subsequently set in motion.
Obviously, I’m not qualified to give advice to anyone, but sometimes when I leave work on Friday afternoons, I tell some of the younger guys who work in the warehouse to go out, experiment with drugs, try to have sex with someone or some thing, and do something dangerous.
The Nashville band known as Welles is set to break big so you should check out this single so you can say you knew them when. The band performed at SXSW and they’re on the bill for Bonnaroo, but it might be this single that pushes them into the mainstream. “Life Like Mine” offers a slouchy vibe and sharp musicianship while catchy, Sgt. Pepper-made-modern vocals (provided by Welles’ frontman, Jehsea Wells) seal the deal on this hit-in-the-making. Give “Life Like Mine” a listen below…
Woah, did we almost miss the bus on this release or what? Phoenix 4-piece, The Edisons, released their debut, Space Whales, back in October and we’re just getting to it now. Don’t judge. We’re busy. These feisty alt-rock get downright gritty at moments on “5 Reasons I Stopped Drinking Tequila (and Why I Started Again)”. But The Edisons like to keep their sound dynamic so expect some shifts, not only on this single but on Space Wales as a whole, as you move from start to finish. They are seeking to explore their sound on this first release, not to define it. Make sure you check out this single and, if you dig what you’re hearing, I highly recommend diving into Space Wales.
This alt-rock quartet from Santiago, Chile now divides their time between has made the jump from South America to Southern California. Honey-sweet vocals over a sludgy sea of shoegazy rock on their single, “Forever Together”, brings me back to my 90s-era youth; a nostalgic time for me of grumpy baristas and Juliana Hatfield. This single is just the first from the band’s forthcoming EP, Ultraviolet. I’ll be keeping watch for that release. And maybe after you give “Forever Together” below, you’ll be a Slowkiss fan too.
I can imagine this new single from Absofacto really catching on with alt-rock radio stations across the country. It has just enough of an electro-pop punch to really hit home with contemporary audiences. Of course, once it starts to enjoy that regular radio play, I’ll probably start to hate it, but right now I’m jamming “Lights Outside”. The track premiered with Earmilk back in February and enjoyed some HypeMachine attention early on, but my guess is that we’re just hearing the start of Absofacto. Hop on that fan-train early and give “Lights Outside” a listen below…
The SoCal act known as Hunny puts a sunny pop-punk spin on their alt-rock sound that makes it perfect for warming weather. “Shy” marks the first single from their forthcoming collection. The energy on “Shy” can buoy your spirits in the middle of a rough week so it’s no surprise to us that , even though it only dropped last week, it’s enjoying some serious early attention from listeners. HUNNY plans on setting out for tour with Bad Sun soon so check for dates in your area. But, first, give “Shy” a spin below…
The Brooklyn duo, comprised of Molly Murphy and Jenni Lind, goes in for that raw, emotive sound first popularized by the alt-rockers of the 90s: something gritty and a little aggressive. Maude Gun calls their debut single, “On High”, a “mystic-folk riot grrrl anthem” and that description pretty much hits the head on the nail. There is something simultaneously earthy and otherworldly in Maude Gun’s sound. Give “On High” a listen below…
The Danish indie rock trio The Great Dictators combines forceful guitars with hazy vocals to erect a wall of shoegaze sound on their new track, “Blood”. The Great Dictators stomp all over the divide between post-rock and alt-rock; allowing elements from both traditions to seep into their own brand of indie. The effect is a hypnotizing blend of textures and sounds that you can really sink down into. “Blood” comes to us from the band’s new album (due out later this year). I’m definitely interested in hearing more of what The Great Dictators have to offer. Listen to “Blood” for yourself below…
I have a thing for Lauren Ruth Ward. It’s not like a sexual thing; it’s definitely a music thing. However, the feeling is so intense that the previous statement might not make it any less uncomfortable at this point.
Now, the first time I heard Lauren Ruth Ward perform “Did I Offend You” on Sofar Sounds, I was stunted into an ineffable state which, as a writer, is a terrible condition to be in. Nevertheless, when I heard that she would be releasing the track as a single in prelude to her forthcoming album, I jumped at the chance to tackle the block and find the right words to express my newfound music obsession.
I had the opportunity to chat with Ward after she returned home to Los Angeles after SXSW about her new single, life in Los Feliz, and the new LP that looms on the horizon.
But, before I get too carried away, why don’t you check out “Did I Offend You” so it can play while we continue our discussion…
So I had to seriously examine this burgeoning love I feel for the music of LRW. I mean, is it her voice? Ward possesses this stunning voice capable of breaking your heart in one verse and then sending you soaring with the very next. In fact, the emotive power of her vocal delivery had me wondering if this wasn’t some theatrical training secretly shining through in her musical performances.
So, during out chitchat, I made sure to ask about the performative aspects of her work. Much to my own surprise, Ward seemed surprised herself by the question and, in the conversation that followed, I realized that emotional charge that hits the listener when they hit PLAY is not the result of some crafted stage show. Her music is raw and real and intensely revealing. Therein lies the power.
While this is certainly a focal point of my affection, it’s not just Ward’s voice that really stands out for me. That’s just the bright red cherry on top of the swirled and sprinkled sundae. There are some serious style choices being made here that really make the music compelling.
Lately, we (at YabYum) have been noticing a revivalist push brewing for that earthy folk rock of the 70s. Ward’s introduction to music, like many Millennials, came from her parents’ record players. That meant classic rock, Motown, and disco. I had a similar musical introduction myself. I remember fierce femmes of the era, like Linda Rondstadt and Bonnie Raitt and Heart, blaring from those tube amplifiers while my mom did her dance-and-clean routine around the living room. A routine, I might add, that I continue to this day in my own home.
The music of Lauren Ruth Ward brings the best parts of 70s folk rock into the present. Her songs are revitalized rock; merging vintage and modern elements into one fresh sound.
And, Lauren Ruth Ward’s stylistic sensibility extends well beyond her music to just about everything else she touches. Take, for example, her music video for her last single, “Make Love to Myself”. Ward directed the production herself and even costumed her friends to play their assigned parts. For the setting, she selected the ultra hip Harvard & Stone where both shiny shirts and flipflops (amongst other faux pas fashion choices) are discouraged. Ward’s sharp eye for smart style choices comes through in everything from the cinematography to the shine of her silver boots and those soon-to-be iconic bangs.
“Make Love to Myself” was my first introduction to Lauren Ruth Ward, but “Did I Offend You” was the single that took our relationship from it’s-complicated to fully committed. I was totally taken aback to discover that this was the first song she penned with her songwriting partner, and “right-hand man,” Eduardo Rivera.
Over the course of the three minute track, Lauren Ruth Ward moves from an unnerving vulnerability to showing her mettle of steel and sand. “Did I Offend You” is the second single from LRW’s new album which, rumor has it, is due to be released later this summer. Hopefully, Ward has another single (or maybe a music video) to help tide fans over until they can secure their copy of the full release.
And I certainly plan on being at that release show. Los Angeles is just a short desert-filled hop from Phoenix and Lauren already filled me in on every place I need to stop while I’m in town starting with Gracias Madre in West Hollywood for, and I quote, “The best, spiciest margaritas you ever put in your mouth.”
Afterward, she suggested a hike to Griffith Observatory or maybe some thrift shopping in the Los Feliz neighborhood of L.A. at SquaresVille. And, in case you haven’t yet checked out her music videos yet, a thrift store recommendation from Lauren Ruth Ward is worth its weight in gold.
If you love “Did I Offend You” like I love the song, you’ll want to be at that release show too. We’ll keep you posted on that development as we learn more. Until then, make sure you spend some time with the music of Lauren Ruth Ward. I might be totally obsessed, but I’m not the jealous type. I’m willing to share.
The shimmering guitars float by like streetlamps out a car window, the insistent bass and drums conjuring up the speed and dread that can take hold in a dark city, and lead singer Evan Hallock’s pained vocals sound like a man driving with nowhere to go.
On their debut offering, Luau does a great job of weaving their influences together so that it becomes their own singular sound, taking notes from indie rock of bands like The Weakerthans as well as classic Sunny Day Real Estate-era emo. Production from Matt Keller of Lydia makes the most of that sound, filling the drums and bass with the right amount of attack, while the guitars sound both shiny and urgent.
Opener “Keep Talking” announces the record with a low organ and softly interplaying guitars, then the drums and bass come crashing in, and somehow everything floats back up as the vocals arrive. A great exercise in dynamics and tension, and one of the band’s finest songs.
Hallock’s reedy tenor is a key component of the band’s sound. Though he’s been compared to Doug Martsch from Built to Spill, he has a lot more of an edge to his voice. Just listen to the way he spits out the first line of the excellent “Darling,” in which bassist Jon Collins lays down a heavy post-rock groove that keeps building until you think it can’t go any bigger. Which of course it does.
“Diffuser” starts with one of the coolest moments on the record, as Eric Thompson’s insistent guitar tornado suddenly cuts out, echoing away until it’s only drums, leaving room for the guitars to come firing back in. The song is also one for the hardest, most infectious grooves of the record, and a great way to show off drummer Joel Knight.
That track slowly fades into “Spin Your Web,” the quietest, slowest song, though there is still a sense of forward momentum happening here. Hallock gives a great vocal performance, nailing the melancholy of lines like “All of my ghosts/I loved you the most.”
First single “Anchor” is the perfect synthesis of everything the band does right: intricate, angular guitar attacks, a growling bassline, that avalanche of drums. Plus, it comes loaded with a shimmering, majestic chorus that is deceptively catchy. You’ll be surprised how much you end up singing it to yourself after one listen.
Built on a rumble of drums and chiming guitars, “Soak It In” finishes the EP off with one of the darkest sounding songs on the record. Gone is a great first offering from this band on the rise, be sure to hear them play it live at their EP Release Show with Fairy Bones, Saddles, and Huckleberry at Crescent Ballroom on April 8th
Joe Golfen has been writing about music since 2007, appearing in the Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times and Tone Audio Magazine. He also plays guitar and sings for desert psych band The Lonesome Wilderness, and plays the organ in power-poppers The Breakup Society.
There seems to be a holy trinity of musicians that sits at the center of Austin’s Hollow Coats but additional players help flesh out the sound on the band’s new single, “Fold”. And the sound here is fleshy: opulently layered and packing a hefty punch on the production. But, what really sold me on “Fold” were the atmospheric vocals and the haunting beauty of the lyrics they delivered. This is the debut single from Hollow Coats so let’s hope more releases are in the works – and soon! Give “Fold” a spin below…
This indie/alt act from Phoenix is making some waves in our dry desert. Yes, The Ricky Fitts only launched their sound only last year and they’ve already scored some pretty notable gigs since their inception. That might have something to do with their slick, radio-ready sound. “Nightmare” comes to us from the band’s debut LP, The Great Beyond, which dropped at the end of January. Infusing electropop and alt-rock elements with a hefty splash of revivalist New Wave, The Ricky Fitts craft out a fun sound on “Nightmare” that has enough of a dark overtone for all you brooders that still want to dance. Take the single for a spin below or head here to check out The Great Beyond.
“Stay with Me” is the opening track from Soft Animal’s concisely titled EP1 which they released last month. This single has a lofi psych-rock sound with a little bit of garage grit that will come in more as you continue through the full EP. The sound descends into moments of intentional disarray before meandering back to a more structured, but never too structured, sound. Check out “Stay with Me” from Soft Animal below or head here for that digi-download of EP1.
I really loved the grrrls of the 90s alt-rock scene and Brixton’s Bryde just might fill that hole in my life. On “Less”, Bryde moves between breathy angst to full on fury over grungy guitars. All you PJ Harvey fans should definitely spend some time with Bryde. If you want to delve further into what this artist has to offer, I suggest moving on to “Back to Believing” – a new, and gentler, single that is really quite enamoring. Get your growl on with Bryde below…
If you like your post-rock with an extra heap of melodious sorrow, Bucolic is for you. “Cold Clean” sets a somber scene that reminds me of a street lined in freshly fallen snow on a morning you have to be at work before 5 AM. Sure, it’s beautiful, but one’s inability to pause and really take in that moment lends an existential anguish to the biting cold. “Cold Clean” is beautiful, but it kicks you when you’re down… and I, uh, mean that in the best way possible. Bucolic is the brainchild of NJ artist Seth Carpenter and this single is part of an impending release that is due out in April so get on that Bucolic bandwagon sooner rather than later. Start with “Cold Clean” below…
The band known as St. Tropez is not actually from St. Tropez but Amsterdam. Their lively new single, “Democracy”, clocks in at under two minutes but there’s a lot of energy crammed into that time. The texturing gets heavy, but not in a full-on post-rock way. No, the vibe on “Democracy” stays more NYC scene rock than secret warehouse show. This single opens Debate, band’s 2017 EP, which (btw) does go full-on post-rock at moments. St. Tropez has enough of an experimental edge to keep things really interesting without ever totally abandoning form entirely. And, there’s a bit of a political slant that those of us in present-day Amerika can really appreciate. Give “Democracy” by St. Tropez a listen below…
The alt-rockers from the ATL known as MYFEVER are gearing up for a new recording effort with the release of their latest single, “Golden”. Though the trio calls Georgia home, you might get a bit of a L.A. or Long Beach vibe from “Golden”. And, when I say Long Beach, I’m talking in the alt-indie vein of Cold War Kids… not Sublime. MYFEVER will hopefully be hitting the studio soon to lay down Born for Spaces, their next album. Until then, spend some time with “Golden”.
The debut EP from Sydney trio Crystal Cities is a dreamy affair, even if some of those dreams turn pretty dark.
The great lead single, “Who’s Gonna Save Us Now”, is one of those troubled dreams, built on dark synths and minor key guitar lines. But it also has a sense of the majestic to it, with insistent drums and breathy vocals from Geoff Rana.
Despite this dark opening salvo, the Australian group’s EP is actually a pretty sunny affair. Musically anyways.
“Cut Me Loose” takes the album in that direction, with the noodly guitar twinkle and soft falsetto of a Real Estate record. The sense of worry always permeates all that sunshine however, like when Rana sings “Words come out wrong/when I’m with you,” dropping the falsetto into his real voice for that second line, adding a great sense of menace.
“Good Life” keeps the mellow vibe going, this time adding a great fuzz guitar and the kind of chorus that lasts for days. “Talking To Myself” keeps the trend going, maybe one song too many like that in a row.
“Tell Me Know” is a welcome change of pace, a slick, driving britpop number that sounds a bit like The Kooks, and Rana going back to that breathy register. The chorus finds the return of that noodly guitar work, but in this different context, it turns out to be an interesting twist.
Closer “Binary Eyes” sounds like classic U2, though where you’d expect a world-conquering chorus, Crystal Cities takes things in a mellow, dreamy direction. Though the chiming build up in the last minute of the song would definitely make The Edge proud.
With their first EP, this Aussie three-piece has set themselves up for success, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised that they end up being huge sometime soon.
Joe Golfen has been writing about music since 2007, appearing in the Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times and Tone Audio Magazine. He also plays guitar and sings for desert psych band The Lonesome Wilderness, and plays the organ in power-poppers The Breakup Society.
Ugh, if you aren’t already on the El Sonida De Reposa train, you might have really missed out. The band released Jupiter – Through Thorns, a limited edition lathe-cut 7″ single, at the end of January and it’s already completely sold-out! Thankfully, you still can get a hold of the digital version of this collection if you find yourself a little late to the game. “Jupiter” kicks off the 4-track single with some brooding, psychedelia-tinged, garage rock that will have you bouncing around in no time. Give “Jupiter” a listen, but you’re really going to want to delve the complete release (available here). This single is but a mere sample of the El Sonida De Reposa sound spectrum.
Joie Blaney of NYC’s Dead Blonde Girlfriend jumped coasts and reformatted DBG as a solo project. When “Letters Home” kicks off with a mellow (and somewhat melancholy) feel, don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of peace. The energy gets turned up and then turned up again until you’re in a full on punk-rock rage of homesickness. Ambition is a good thing to have, but it can be a real trial to sacrifice some of one’s NOW for something as ambiguous as the future. Blaney, we feel you on this one. Give “Letters Home” from Dead Blonde Girlfriend a listen below.
Back in 2016, French Girls offered up the single “Couples Skate” and now, almost exactly one year later, fans can get their grubby mitts on the newly released “G.F.” from the Phoenix 4-piece. The thing I like most about the French Girls’ sound is the DGAF attitude that comes through in the band’s often playful lyrics and the pop punk glaze French Girls smear over their rowdy garage rock sound. Both of those qualities come through in high shine on “G.F.” This track just might give you the extra bit of chutzpah you need close the door on that bad relationship. Or, if not, it will definitely add some kickass to your day. Give the single a spin below…
Hey all my fellow desert dwellers, as it keeps getting hotter outside, let’s take a moment to remember that there are people who long for sunlight and the warmth it offers. The surf-punk rock of Knifey seems to have a little more angst than those sunny SoCal pop punk outfits. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that they reside in Toronto rather than, you know, Long Beach. “Tanlines” expresses a longing for sunshine, for cruising around in cars, and, ultimately, for winter’s end. The band describes the track as a “nostalgia-fueled chronicle of better, warmer – and more naked – times.” While many of us in Arizona might not really get this sentiment, we can follow it as a metaphor certainly. This single from Knifey dropped last week so it is freshy-fresh. Spin “Tanlines” below…
White Demons recorded the songs for their latest LP back in 2015, but it was just this March that Bleed It Outhit audiences everywhere. “Humiliation” is an early favorite from the new album. The single packs a rocknroll punch: the kind that can rile up a packed house, whether bar- or arena-sized. White Demons continues the too-oft-overlooked musical tradition of rowdy rock bands like AC/DC and sound like they might set fire to the drums and spew whiskey at the audience. They won’t – they seem much too nice for such nonsense – but they have that sound down. Give “Humiliation” a listen below and then move on to the complete LP, Bleed It Out, available here.
What to say about Orange Drink? Perhaps I should let him say it for himself: “Orange Drink is a one-man band created by Drew Fernando, who is a gay, vegetarian, straight edge, Sri Lankan-American in an intergenerational same-sex marriage, living in Wisconsin.” As Orange Drink, Fernando likes to experiment with different styles of music from punk to folk to dance and well beyond. “Horror” takes listeners through some primal screamo therapy for all our anxiety-driven aggression which plays over NYC-club-scene-style indie rock. It’s a fun combination for all that inner rage you might be carrying around with you. Orange Drink undertook a weekly-single-challenge so expect new music to keep coming from this Wisco artist. Check out “Horror” from Orange Drink below…
This London-based post punk trio released their debut single, “The Mound”, on March 17th and it looks like they’re coming out of the corner swinging. There’s a gritty dissonance that texturizes the aural landscape here, something a little apprehensive and very much NOW. And, from what I’ve heard, this band puts on quite the stellar live performance full of weird experimental noise permutations and plenty of feedback. If that sounds up your alley, Girl in Synthesis just might be for you. Give “The Mound” a listen below…