5 Rowdy Singles You Should Hear

Nelson Can

“Move Forward”

The Danish trio known as Nelson Can uses drums, vocals, and bass (no guitar) to create their grungy rock sound and I fucking love it. There’s all sorts of rowdy crammed into Nelson Can and you can hear that energy on their new single, “Move Forward”. This band’s super cool Scandinavian sound will have you hitting repeat all damn day. And to think that Nelson Can all started as a joke because three chicks wanted to say they were in a band… Check out “Move Forward” below or you can head here to see Nelson Can’s DIY video for the single. Or head here to score your own copy of the single and show the band some luv.

Madus

‘Through the Dark”

Madus calls their sound “post-garage-rock” which is pretty on point. I could see this music playing in the hip (but obviously seedy) bar in the cybernetic future we all envisioned while watching Hackers back in 1994. Or, at least, those of us who are old enough to have watched Hackers back in ’94. Some us, maybe me included, are still probably waiting for that future to arrive so thank you, Madus, for giving me a glimpse of the aesthetic that I secretly long for. “Through the Dark” provides glitzy grunge and retro synths for the new world order. Check out the new single from Madus below…

Absolutely Not

“Strictly Top”

This post-punk trio outta Chicago craft an interesting mix of levity and gravity on their new single, “Strictly Top”. I am, of course, speaking both aurally and lyrically.  Like some of my favorite post-punk acts (ahem, JJCnV), Absolutely Not swirls in some feisty pop elements to keep things exciting in the sonic sphere. This single comes to us from Absolutely Not’s new album, Errors, which comes out later this month (7/28). Until then, you can spend some time getting riled up with “Strictly Top” from Absolutely Not below or head here for the digi-download.

DWARF

“Take a Number”

Short and feisty, “Take a Number” from DWARF packs enough energy into two minutes to fire you up for an entire day. This three-piece from Mesa [AZ] has been steadily developing a local following since their inception. A ska rhythm on the verse gives “Take a Number” a super fun, summertime vibe, but DWARF takes the energy up to infectious on the chorus. Give “Take a Number” by DWARF a listen below or head here to show the band some support by purchasing your own copy of the single!

LUAU

“Debt Collector”

Don’t confuse Hampshire’s garage punks LUAU with the Phoenix indie rockers, LUAU. Both acts might infuse a little surf into their sound, but these bands are two very different beasts. The British LUAU have a gritty, high-energy sound they unleash on their new single, “Debt Collector”. Drawing from such westerly influences as Rocket From The Crypt (CA) and The Marked Men (TX), LUAU came together in 2016 but the five players that make up the band earned their chops in a variety of eclectic acts for more than ten years before that. LUAU isn’t amateur hour – the band is as sharp as they are fiery. Get down with LUAU (UK) and “Debt Collector” below or check out Wake Up Dreaming, the album from whence the single came.

7 Righteous Rock Videos

Fairy Bones
“No One Can Suffer Like I Can”

All-Night Visitors
“Animal Mind”

Whispering Wires
“No Buddies”

The Linecutters
“Anxiety”

The Dead-On
“Lovesick”

Zipheads
“No 2 Ways About It”

Welshly Arms
“Legendary”

Best Dog Award: We Can Be Happy

best dog award 01by Mark Anderson
Senior Editor

Those fuzzy, lovable Tucson surf(ish) rockers known as Best Dog Award are back with their new album, We Can Be Happy, recorded by Matt Rendon at his Midtown Island Studio.

But, as often with the good news, comes the bad – the band isn’t actually “active” at the moment and We Can Be Happy was recorded over a year and a half ago!

It’s still worth a listen though. Or, if you’re anything like me, multiple listens, over and over again. There’s just something about these songs that I can’t get enough of.

“Jox Vagular” sets the perfect tone for the album. Janky guitar is soon coupled with that sweet organ and the drums and vocals roll in to create a truly stunning number. You gotta hand it to Joel Crocco (vocals/guitar), Nick Mazza (guitars/keys) and Andrew Ling (drums): the trio know how to write a good song.

The tongue-in-cheek lyrics of “Historical Sleeze” are matched by the raw ferocity of “Never Been A Boy”, while the laid back air of “Buenas Suerte” preludes the almost too-cool-for-school feel of “Tender Tease”. Is it just me or are you also reminded of The Police with that last number?

While Best Dog Award may be on extended hiatus, Mr. Crocco is certainly keeping busy. Not only does he play guitar in The Gay Boys (whom I certainly recommend checking out), he writes and performs material as Dreadcat & The Transitional Wave “featuring a rotating cast from all the members of the Gay Boys, to having members of Pro Teens, to just myself”, he told me through Messenger.

Featuring siren-like backups, “Bee Palette” sends the mind surfing through desert froth while “Secular Jam” finds yourself floating in the vast sand sea. “Crybaby” features that stellar organ in arpeggiated fashion reminding me of ? and the Mysterians’ “96 Tears”. The track contains my favorite line on the entire album: “So this is a song a demon wrote about me/she dug my soul but didn’t want my body/which is why you’ve got to write everything down/like you used to.”

“Flirt To Convert” ramps the energy way up in the best possible way at this point in the album and features a killer hook while “Something’s Got To Give” seems to be the perfect swan song for the band: slow yet commanding, featuring a solo brass horn lamenting at it’s own final declaration.

As if the band knew they couldn’t go out like that, the hidden track “Be Your Own Boss” is a last testament to the Best Dog Award sound, the “bop, bop, bop” back-ups certainly a nice touch.

Although they technically may be inactive right now, I still highly recommended checking out We Can Be Happy by Best Dog Award post haste!

~

Follow Best Dog Award on Facebook just in case they end their hiatus.

Strange Lot: Gods & Clods

summer releases 01

by Mark Anderson
Senior Editor

Born on March 3rd of this year, Gods & Clods, the fantastic third release and sophomoric full length effort from Strange Lot is an experimental, psychedelic trip to the beach and is the perfect album for some summertime sun.

Building off their previous efforts Walk the Sun EP and Another Mind, Gods & Clods treads into even more other-worldly soundscapes in the space of ten tracks.

The brainchild of Dominic Mena (vocals/guitar/vocals/bass/synth/drums), he quickly added Tim Lormor (dums/guitar) and David Dennis (bass) to round out the line-up and help form the Strange Lot sound. Two releases and as many years later arrives Gods & Clods; a wonderment to surf lovers everywhere.

Solid surf musings mix with modern sensibility on opener and first single “Born” followed by the toned down yet still captivating title track “Gods & Clods”.

The thing I like most about Strange Lot and Dominic’s songwriting are the cryptic lyrics – not only in the way their sung – but because even with the lyrics in front of you, it’s not exactly clear what’s going on here and I think that’s a good thing.

All this comes to a point on “This Is The Light”. With lyrics like, “this is the kind that swarms your whole body as you wake/they’re knocking if you’re late/it’s not an issue, when you’re swirling/got to be nice/but I can’t hear you learning names” you might be wondering what the F is going on. The music is disjunctive as well, traversing through noisy post punk to mellow surf, and had my roommate walking up saying what he heard was “deeply disturbing.”

The last half of the album is just as surf pop and just as cryptic with “Oxygn”, “Have It Your Way” and “Crimes All Day” standing out as highlights for me.

Closer “DFunkt” sends the album off in good fashion, the head-bobbing rhythm matched in fine style by the crooning vocals and phaser guitar. Produced and engineered by the band with mixing by Mr. Mena himself, these boys not only play the songs well, they can record ’em well too!

Check out Gods & Clods by Strange Lot below.

~

For more Strange Lot, visit their Facebook page and make sure to catch them live on Friday June 30 when they open for Radio Moscow at The Rebel Lounge!

strange lot 003

7 Rad Rock Music Videos from Alt to Indie

The Woodworks
“The Doctor Says I’m Fine”

Skating Polly
“Louder in Space”

The Murlocs
“Oblivion”

Weird Radicals
“John Lennon (Headbangin)”

Windigo
“All Your Thunder”

Lane Change
“Floodwater”

Sleeptalk
“Strange Nights”

7 Rowdy Music Videos to Amp Up Your Weekend

Playboy Manbaby
“Adult”

A Giant Dog
“Sleep When Dead”

Sad Kid
“Bad Boys Sad Sex”

No Parents
“Runaway”

KRISTEEN YOUNG
“Nice”

Shorelines
“New Heights”

Fame On Fire
“Another One”

5 Rad Rock Singles: From Alt to Indie

rad rock singles 000by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Genre

“A Change is Gonna Come”

Two Phoenix favorites – Genre and Snailmate – released a split EP back in April with this angsty number thrown into the mix. “A Change is Gonna Come” is a dynamic alt-rock hit in the making and the four feisty tracks on the Snailmate & Genre Split offer up some stiff competition on the stand-out-single front. On the one hand, you have the frantic nerdcore hiphop of Snailmate. And, on the other, the dynamic angst-ridden alt-rock of Genre. Thankfully, you don’t have to make the choice. Head in for Genre and stick around for Snailmate… or vice versa. It’s all good and will serve your spirits well. Check out “A Change is Gonna Come” below or head here to score the complete EP.

Wildera

“The Only”

The musical duo behind Wildera recount a great tale of predestination. Rusty Redden and Loren Moore both grew up in the same Dallas suburb, but it wasn’t until they sat next to each other on the flight that would take them cross-country to attend the Berklee College of Music. They became bunkmates and, eventually, collaborators. Now reunited in Los Angeles, Redden and Moore release their catchy brand of alt-rock as Wildera. Driving guitars and disinterested vocals give “The Only” a hip feel that could really take hold with modern listeners everywhere. Give the new single from Wildera a spin below or get that digi-download here.

Lenina Crowne

“Know”

This new single from Lenina Crowne has easygoing indie-rock sound that pairs perfectly with summer. This five-piece from State College [PA] creates a nostalgic atmosphere with the crisp musicianship reminiscent of early indie rockers of the pre-grunge fuzz-free era. “Know” makes me think of pool parties and Otter Pops and creekside hikes that end at a familiar swimming hole. That’s an indie rock sound we could all stand to hear a little more of. Give “Know” from Lenina Crowne a listen below or get the three-track EP from whence it came here.

Spencer Anthony 

“Happy Pills”

Spencer Anthony has a bit some pop-punk festiveness thrown into the alt-rock sound that keeps the energy (and the angst) turned up for “Happy Pills”. One might even go so far to say that Anthony has some emo leanings that come through in his vocals – both in the lyrics and their delivery. “Happy Pills” comes to us from Spencer Anthony’s debut EP, Words To Hide Behind, which dropped in April. Give the single a listen below and then move on to the complete EP here.

Vero

“Hello”

How to describe the sound of Vero? Industrial funk? Alt-pop? Whatever it is, the funky get-down sound of Vero has a gritty edge to it that we really dig here. The Swedish 3-piece released their debut single, “Hello”, earlier this month and you’ll be able to hear some 90s-reminiscent permutations in the soundscape on this track that make it particularly catchy. Let Vero say “Hello” to you with their single below…

Artist Spotlight: The Upper Strata

upper strata neon glitz 01The Upper Strata set to release new album with versatile, profound new sound

by Matt Marn
Contributing Writer

Performing duo (and recent Arizona residents) The Upper Strata has undergone many style and identity changes over the past several years, both as performers and in their offstage lives. But while their tone and perspective has changed, their sound is still as original, profound, and enjoyable as ever. Their newest album, Neon Glitz, is a perfect example.

Like other recent The Upper Strata releases, Johnny Sanchez and Regula Sanchez-Schmid have branched out from the duo’s rootsy, Americana-folk origin, instead giving Neon Glitz a versatile style all its own.

“I don’t tend to turn influences or inspiration off,” said Jonathan Sanchez. “If a sound or lyrics pop into my head, I simply record them and use them, and am grateful to have them. I don’t usually say, ‘Oh, no; I can’t do a blues song or a dance song.’ If that’s what seems to be developing, I let it happen.”

The variety in tone on The Upper Strata’s new album, as well as its imagery and subject matter, is inspired largely by their new home in the Pacific Northwest. Jonathan and Regula have recently relocated from their former home in Phoenix to Portland, Oregon, and shortly after began writing songs for this album while exploring their new environment.

The move away from Phoenix has proven a significant, sometimes intimidating change, but some of that same tone and spirit is now reflected in the tracks of Neon Glitz, so the duo seems to be putting that emotion to good use as inspiration.

“Music with risk and danger is always more real and exciting to me,” Sanchez said. “Neon Glitz is talking about that connection to sneaking out as a teen to go experience live music, or getting into dance clubs to get sweaty and lost in the music.”

Experiencing the music, and getting lost in the message, is one of The Upper Strata’s areas of expertise. Neon Glitz, like other Upper Strata albums before it, does not fit into one specific musical genre or style, but touches on many along the way. The album uses each one to help weave together the experience – the overall message – Neon Glitz works to convey… both caution and celebration, addressing both how short and fragile – yet also how beautiful – human life truly is.

True to Sanchez’s love for music with risk and danger, Neon Glitz tackles a staggering number of philosophical issues – as well as human doubts and fears – and brings them to the lyrical forefront. In the first track of the album, “Time,” the lyrics of the song address what the group calls the biggest theme any human can ever comprehend: our limited time on this planet. And while the gravity of the subject matter refuses to let up along the way, the album adds in a variety of those many genres and music styles, helping them paint new strokes of the same picture, but in new ways.

Moving on from the Middle-Eastern flavor and big dance beat of “Time,” the pair of songs that follow serve as two parts of the same message. “Garden Wall” contains dub elements, mixed in with accordion and mystical lyrics, followed by the club-sound induced “Beyond,” which serves as part two of the imagery the pair of songs works to convey.

“Thematically, the image of the garden in art and literature is both a fertile womb and a place of security,” Sanchez said of the two songs. “The most common symbol of this is the Garden of Eden. By stating that we need to go beyond the garden wall, the songs suggest it is inherently human to choose our own destiny and leave paradise, or the womb.”

The title track of Neon Glitz is dedicated to the artistry and life of David Bowie. The song has elements inspired by Bowie’s music, yet the song is its own creature. The song’s lyrics, including the lines, “ Going down, wrong side of town, where the sound is king, and we bow in the presence of the thing,” note both Bowie himself, as well as the original draw that music had on Sanchez, personally.

“I have always been attracted to music from the wrong side of the tracks – from gritty punk to raw blues in some sketchy juke joint, or reggae down at the port of Tampa in some illegal club,” he said. He said that idea, that pull toward the wrong side of town to hear and see underground music is central to the album, as well as the song.

The next two songs, “Sweet Distraction” and “Willow” are new-wave inspired dance tracks. The lyrics of “Sweet Distraction” address the way love can shelter you from the harsh and cruel aspects of life. “Willow,” however, is about the opposite – the way sometimes you can love someone, and never get that love back.

“Lighthouse” has a different feel – a style Sanchez calls cinematic and bluesy. The song observes how a partner in a relationship can provide shelter… or actually be the storm: “You and I form a bittersweet island, surrounded by a sea of orphan tears; we huddle against our deep, dark fears… Sometimes I’m your lighthouse, sometimes I’m the raging sea.”

Sanchez said the final track from Neon Glitz plays like a Motown and R&B jam. “Line” is ultimately about realizing what solace and support you give and receive in a relationship.

“Frankly, it was a rough year,” Sanchez said. “Several of the songs, including ‘Line,’ are about finding peace, optimism, and strength in bleak situations.”

As a husband and wife creative team, Sanchez noted the music of Neon Glitz forms a journal of the relationship. On this album, Johnny is often singing something pessimistic, while Regula is singing a positive answer. This motif helps symbolize the way partners support each other in life, both physically and emotionally – and, in the case of The Upper Strata, also creatively.

And, as Sanchez referenced, that mutual support has truly led Johnny and Regula through both good times and struggles, particularly in the last year. Sanchez said the album is being released later than planned, as Regula recently suffered a brain aneurysm while visiting abroad, requiring brain surgery.

“She is an amazing lady – as any husband should say of his wife,” Sanchez said of Regula. “But to survive an aneurysm and come back to making music is miraculous, really.”

Sanchez said his wife still has some difficulties, and it has influenced their music, as referenced in “Sweet Distraction” with the line, “Too many hospitals, too little healing,” which Sanchez said they had endured, for sure.

“’Time,’ and the two-part songs ‘Garden Wall’ and ‘Beyond’ are about being bound to this world by our limited mortal shells, and learning to go beyond them,” he said. “All of the medical nightmares we went through last year definitely made that longing more intense – especially when you feel it is your soul mate that might not have long to live, or might not survive all of the procedures and tests to keep her in this world.”

For a journal telling the story of a relationship, The Upper Strata’s newest album, Neon Glitz is profoundly developed. It tackles not only styles and genres rarely blended together (let alone, so fluently), but also addresses in its lyrics issues and concepts many are afraid to even consider.

But here – in this contemplative, exploratory space – is where husband and wife team Johnny Sanchez and Regula Sanchez-Schmid truly shine in their music as The Upper Strata. With new styles, new uses of vocal synthesizers and instrumental layering, and deeper lyrics and messages to discover inside each track, Neon Glitz is truly an album with a style all its own – promising something new with each listen.

~

Digitally released May 5, the limited edition vinyl of Neon Glitz will be released July 7, 2017 and is pressed by Cascade Record Pressing in Portland, OR. For more info check out The Upper Strata on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

7 Rowdy Singles from Around the World

Lauren Ruth Ward

“Blue Collar Sex Kitten”

Usually it’s Lauren Ruth Ward’s sultry Americana swagger that has us all wound up, but this week it looks like Ward is ready for rowdy and rocking. “Blue Collar Sex Kitten” is the latest hit to come out the songwriting partnership between L.A.-based musicians LRW and guitarist Eduardo Rivera. There’s so much sass on this single, you’re going to want to skip it on the drive to work and save it for that cruise home… unless, of course, you want to arrive at your job ready to burn the whole fucking place down. Consider that your warning.

The Great Malarkey

“Gaffa”

London-based band The Great Malarkey dares to ask the question, “Why did the Irish artist, the Canadian surfer, the Portuguese London tour guide, the Gloucestershire gardener, two UK Guild Hall students, a Latvian paralegal and an androgynous cockney, walk into a bar?” Apparently, the answer is create some riotous folk punk of orchestral proportions. Of course, with eight members listed as part of The Great Malarkey, I would imagine this band brings the party every time they show up to perform. If you dig “Gaffa” (and you will), I suggest checking out more of the online musical offerings The Great Malarkey released last month (here).

Sturdy Ladies

“Secret Weapon”

This garage rock trio from PHX adds some colorful kitsch to their punk rock punch bowl. Yes, Sturdy Ladies throw out the feisty fun on “Secret Weapon” that will have you shouting along so you might want to consider your location before you smash that play button. Luckily you’ll get your chance not once but twice. Not only are the Sturdy Ladies playing this Saturday, May 13, at the Yucca Tap they’re also opening for Shonen Knife (from Osaka, Japan) on May 24 with Shovel and The Pübes! More on that event here. Until then, spend some time with “Secret Weapon” and also their campy classic, “Cat Olympics“, available online as well. Both singles comes to us from the Sturdy Ladies’ debut EP, Brut Force, which you should pick up at a one of the previously mentioned shows because, so far, that’s the only place you can get ’em. Enjoy.

Dolly Spartans

“It’s Not Easy”

Okay, so when “It’s Not Easy” kicks off, you’re probably going to worry that I might be confused about what the word “rowdy” means, but give it a minute. The NYNY quartet known as the Dolly Spartans turn up the energy and the angst for this indie rock single. The vocals call to mind club scene kids like The Strokes while the accompanying instrumentation has an emo tinge that reminds me a bit of Jimmy Eat World. This single comes to us from the band’s latest EP, Time Sides with No One, which came out last month. Give “It’s Not Easy” by the Dolly Spartans a spin below…

Round Eye

“Billy”

Shanghai-based act Round Eye is comprised of “American ex-pats and Italians” which might seem like a bit of a metropolitan muddle, but rocknroll is a transcendent language that cold-crushes culture divides. “Billy” has a feisty punk energy and catchy hook that might just lodge into your brainspace and never leave again. Twenty years from now, a routine traffic stop could result in you screaming “Billy was a cop! Billy was a cop! Billy, Billy, Billy, Billy!” if you let the music of Round Eye take hold. And you definitely want to.

Annabel Allum

“Eat Greens”

Britain’s Annabel Allum first landed on our radar with her single, “Rich Backgrounds”, and this new single proves Allum is more than a one-trick pony. She has some chops. “Eat Greens” rips into that impetus toward better health that hits many of us as we move toward full-time adulting, but the song is more about finding balance than just clever witticisms. Allum has a gritty sound and a dry tongue that reminds me of Courtney Barnett. “Eat Greens” came out on April 28 through Killing Moon Records. Give the new single a spin below and, if you haven’t already, check out “Rich Backgrounds” from Annabel Allum as well.

Otherkin

“Bad Advice”

The Irish rockers known as Otherkin have some “Bad Advice” to offer up to fans. The four-piece describes their sound rather accurately as “Grunge Pop” so I could easily seeing them sharing a bill with Phoenix favorites like Fairy Bones or maybe Harper and the Moths.  This single comes to us from the band’s forthcoming debut album. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get our grubby mitts on that release in the not-too-distant future. Until then, enjoy “Bad Advice” from Otherkin…

7 Rowdy Rock Music Videos

The Dead Zones
“Hello Animal”

SLOWKISS
“Forever Together”

Zini
“Faison”

Exit
“Familiar Ground”

Noonday Devils
“Champion”

The Howlin’ Souls
“Black Heart”

Tangieguar
“15 Starter”