“Mama (Told Me So Again)”
“Trying to Find Me”
The Sink or Swim
Jawni Doo Dat
by Carly Schorman
Ever have one of those days where every song sounds the same? That was my day and then I heard “Lullaby” from Tucson’s Karima Walker. The song had a way of soothing my weary soul (and ears). Mellow and meditative, “Lullaby” is just that, a lullaby. Not the kind you sing your child to sleep with, but maybe. Walker creates soundscapes as painters create landscapes. Her songs belong in a gallery. Drift away with “Lulllaby” then stick around to listen to more offerings from Karima Walker.
You might be thinking, didn’t Michelle Blades move to Paris? Yes, she did, but she often visits and on one such trip she recorded this breathtaking number with Phoenix’s own Eamon Ford this past May. “Te Recuerdo Amanda” is a cover of a Victor Jara song and Michelle Blades brings her own experimental undertones to this rendition. This track is a must-hear single. Listen to it. Listen to it now. And, if you missed her last performance at The Trunk Space, you missed out. Let’s hope this globe trotter has plans on another pass through Phoenix sometime soon.
If Saydi’s been around since 2010, how come I’m only discovering her now? How did this not get to us through the appropriate channels? Considering this is her first single, I will allow it to pass, but we should have been told. Tempe’s Saydi creates a dreamy dancepop that is totally enamoring on “Lavender Ghost”. If this single is any indication of what’s to come, I would keep an eye (or ear) on Saydi.
For those of you who aren’t yet familiar with Scattered Melodies (for shame), the “band” is actually the musical pairing of Josh Montag (percussion) and Jake Johnston (bass) and a variable cast of musical guests from the local music scene. For their latest single, “Legacy”, Scattered Melodies joined forces with Laura Hamlin (vocals) and Jack Howell (piano/guitar/strings). Josh Montag wrote this song for his mother and debuted it at his wedding for the mother-son dance. If that doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you are cold, downright cold. The song is a divergence from the band’s usual hippie groove to something a little more sentimental. Give it a listen.
The coffee-pop act known as gillwire is the brainchild of Jonathan Gil Thwaits. The Chandler band is preparing for the impending release of their debut album by sharing a few rough cuts including the single, “Tragedy Sells”. Combining Ben Folds-esque vocal stylings with an airy alt-pop. Don’t let the name of the track fool you, “Tragedy Sells” is an upbeat number with a bit of lyrical bite. Keep in mind, these tracks are unmastered, but they offer a little sampling of what’s to come. For the finished product, you’ll have to head to Sozo Coffee in Chandler on July 8th (or wait for the digital release).
Huckleberry lands somewhere toward the Americana side of the indie spectrum with their mild-mannered, desert-infused rocknroll. Their much anticipated follow-up to 2013’s Fine Highway dropped in September. Problems offers listeners eight tracks of Huckleberry gold for fans new and old. The album opens with “Trouble is Real” which reveals the band has subdued those alt-country tendencies that defined their first album without losing that down-home flavor entirely. The pensive “Rainy Season” follows offering a unique characterization in an easy-going melody. “Rolled a Ranger” provides a humorous slant on a bad day while tracks like “Steady Time” and “Under Your Spell” have a drowsy, sanguine feel like drinking a couple cold beers on a warm day. “Echo”, the closing track, might be my favorite from Problems. The song incorporates droney harmonies that add an interesting element to the crisp yet amiable sound. Jalipaz over at Audioconfusion did a particularly bang up job on this one. You can catch Huckleberry live on Nov. 20th at Casa Lounge in Tempe. Until then, enjoy Problems here where it is available for preview and purchase.
Perhaps you remember the reggae-rocking, rhythmic partnership of Josh Montag and Jake Johnston, also known as Scattered Melodies? For each recording endeavor, Scattered Melodies invites a host of their talented friends to take part in the process. They released Collective Agreement back in 2013 and now they’re back with their latest encapsulation of some of local music’s finest. Modern Repair kicks off with a clip of Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator, offering the first indication that this is more than an album, it is social commentary. By the time the gang vocals kick in on “Sunset Choir”, the opening track, you know you’re in for something special. Modern Repair sounds as fun as it must have been to make, but it carries a serious message; a message of change. The album included more than 30 artists including Anamieke (Treasurefruit), Danny Torgersen (Captain Squeegee), Chelsey & Robert of Fairy Bones, Ruca, Chaz Fertal (The Hourglass Cats), The McDaniels (Pride Though Strife), Jay Nottingham and Phelan Parker of The Wiley Ones, even a string quartet featuring members of the Phoenix Symphony. Rather than creating a muddled soup, the result of too many cooks, Modern Repair is a cohesive collection that covers an array of topics from national security and the media to community-building and the importance of fact-checking your sources. At fourteen tracks, Scattered Melodies made sure their album was worth the wait. Modern Repair is available for preview and purchase here.
This little gem of an EP from Denver’s The Blue Rider almost slipped right past me and that, dear readers, would have been terrible. Year of the Horse is five high-energy tracks of garage rock good times. Don’t let the album cover fool you. This is more feisty than folksy. The title track starts the album with some bluesy grit and you can begin to discern the psychedelic air that adds some dynamic textures to the EP. The organs on “Color My Brain” add a retro-revival flair; a nod to psychedelia of days past. The third track, “Rattlesnake”, has that authentic desert sound that makes me think the band would find themselves right at home here in the Ol’ Sonoran (hint for future tour plans). “Chamomile Light”, the closing track, contends with “Rattlesnake” for my personal favorite on Year of the Horse. This song gets downright trippy. Rumor has it, the LP is in the works and I, for one, couldn’t be more excited. We’re hoping to hear that sooner than later, this time. Check out Year of the Horse by The Blue Rider here and join me in the anxious wait for the full-length.
Who doesn’t love a good fundraiser? We all should know that only by supporting our local art and music scene can we hope to see it survive and thrive. Here are five fundraisers you can stand behind!
I don’t know how excited you are for this album, but I am very, very excited. The Hasty Escape contains some talented players and the forthcoming album promises to be a must-hear. Supporters can earn early downloads of The Filthier Things or even a “Thank You” in the liner notes from the band! Contribute here.
The rhythm-section-turned-community-project known as Scattered Melodies is ready to call together their brigade of musical merrymakers once again for a new album, but they’re asking for a little help making that goal a reality. The duo is asking for a very modest amount and they’ve sweetened the deal with the offer of a Summer Sampler for your donations. Learn more and contribute here.
Help South Paw Launch EP
The four-piece indie rock outfit from Provo, UT is set to record a six-track EP and are currently seeking a bit of funding to launch this project. The songs are already recorded and just waiting for some distro cash to move the project along.
This Austin songbird is ready to undertake the daunting task of recording her first album but she could use a little listener support. Earned signed copies of the album, photos, and more for your contribution to the project. Learn more and cough up some cash here. To sweeten the deal, we have her music video for “Salvador” to share.
Wooden Indian is set to release their latest record and they’re trying to raise some funds for that undertaking. Rather than a big fundraiser, the group is relying on their fans to come through… one single purchase at a time. Yes, you can purchase the first single “Savage Grass” from the forthcoming album for a mere $2 to show your support, but you have to do it TODAY! Wooden Indian will be pulling down the single later today and you’ll just have to wait for the official release every other schmuck that didn’t make the cut-off time for this early preview. Listen and purchase “Savage Grass” here!
Release Date: June 20th
The musical pairing of Josh Montag and Jake Johnston first caught our attention with their collaborative undertaking, a.k.a. their first album, A Collective Agreement. Joining with other local artists, the duo creates songs together to be shared and performed in cooperation. A new full-length is in the works, but fans can celebrate summer with a new EP from the band in the interim. Set for release later this month, the Summer Sampler will feature Jack Howell, Parker Jones of The Broken Rhodes, Anamieke Quinn of Treasurefruit, Laura Hamlin, Ruca, and Eric Montag. More on the release show here.
Release Date: June
Grunge-alt-hard rockers The Oxford Coma are gearing up to head out on their “Shut Up and Get in the Van” Midwestern tour, but before that happens, they’re going to be releasing Morphine, their much anticipated follow-up to 2012’s Adonis. I recently got my hands on a copy of the release and I must say, jam-metal was never really my thing, but I’m digging the incorporation of funk, which gives the album a trippy feel and almost circus grandiosity. Listen to Adonis here and join us in the wait for Morphine. We’ll keep you posted on the release.
Release Date: June 29th
Gog is a local act that never crossed my path until word of their upcoming release show at the Crescent Ballroom landed in my email box. And with Mallevs-Dealings, Dross, and Scriptures sharing the bill, Gog’s release show promises to be something memorable. A track from Gog can be heard (with visual accompaniment) here. I definitely enjoyed the deconstructed sounds moving in and out of structural forms, but I must admit that when I listened to it down at HQ (YabYum headquarters), I was three minutes in before another staff member asked, “When is the appropriate time to ask if that’s music?” Guess it all depends on the person. See you at the release show.
Release Date: June
It was just back in April we shared with our readers Old Hours’ fundraising efforts for their next album, Even in the Sun. Hopefully, you kicked up your money in a timely fashion because the new release is just about ready for the grand unveiling and contributors score the new tunes before everyone else. The rest of you will have to wait for the general release but we’ll keep you posted for that occurrence. In the meantime, you can peruse a few 2013 releases from Old Hours through their Bandcamp page here.
Release Date: July 30th
Phoenix’s own Numb Bats are set to drop their first full-length album on July 30th at the Crescent Ballroom with Drainbow, Man Hands, and more. The album will be a bit of a parting gift as the band heads out on tour after the release show. I, for one, can’t get enough to the distinctly-styled and slightly campy post-punk of this trio so I’ll be relying on Numb Bats’ Demo(n), a three-track collection of demos, to tide me over until the Big Show in July. Listen to Demo(n) here. Word has it, the forthcoming album has all-new, never before released tracks!
Albums are good. Bands make good albums….
Describing the sound of Blanche Beach has become an exercise in contraction; it’s sorta pop and it’s sorta punk but it’s definitely not pop-punk. It’s more rocknroll than anything and occasionally that rock becomes grinding and aggressive like on the track “Strip Mall”. At other times, the music becomes more innocent and lighthearted like on “Science Museum”. Fuzzy guitars and half-shouted lyrics give the recording a lo-fi, house party feel that warms the cockles of my heart. Add to that straight-forward lyrics that are charmingly unpretentious and I’m sold. The trio that comprises Blanche Beach (Isaac Hensleigh, Nathan Leach and Tristan Jemsek) wrangles a rather illustrious list of local acts when listing the band members’ other musical projects: Dogbreth, Midnight Vitals, Diners, the Tremulants, and it just goes on from there. However, Blanche Beach might gain favor over the bunch in time. I’m decidedly on board with this album. Listen here.
This four piece band out of Phoenix has actually been making rounds on the Valley scene for a little while now with album releases dating back to 2011, but it seems as if their most recent release Nylon Letdown has really brought the band into their own. The band has joined the ranks of the newly formed Rubber Brother Records and launched their latest as part of the 5 album release that launched the label last weekend at the Trunk Space (more on that here). The EP opens with “Exiting Tharsis”, an instrumental track that is both driving and dreamy over the course of its very short life before halting abruptly to allow the powerful intro of “Fillmore” to charge in. “Flight Home” serves as a mellow transitory track before the finale “Jeff Gordon”. Nylon Letdown is both halting and fluid, its songs thoughtfully constructed. Another step forward from a promising band. Take a listen here.
A Collective Agreement
Drummer Josh Montag and bassist Jake Johnston, better known as Scattered Melodies, might be better categorized as a visionary team rather than a traditional band. For each track on their album, the drum and bass duo invited different local musicians to participate in the song’s creation. The result is a fluid collection of funky, reggae-tinged rocknroll tracks; each song adding its own color to the atmosphere. Scattered Melodies introduced me to some new names like Tania Warfield and Eric Stewart of Catfish Mustache. I also got to hear some artists I already dig, like Anamieke Quinn and Danny Torgensen, in a different platform. In addition to the varied and lively vocals, the album has some truly awesome jam outs which are the boon of a dynamic rhythm section. A couple of the tracks from the album are available for your listening pleasure here. Hopefully, we’ll see the rest of the album available on the interwebs before long for those of you who missed the album release show last Friday (suckers).
Arrogant, affronting, apathetic, and young. The same reasons I listed for loving the tape I picked up at the Rubber Brother Records launch on Friday another staffer listed for hating the album. Garage indie-rock infused with hip hop. The lyrics are alive and real. Just listen to “Dance” and you’ll understand what I’m saying. That tendency coupled with the unrefined vocal talents of Aydin, also known as Aydin the Immortal, invites the Stephen Malkmus reference that isn’t coming. I’d be more apt to say that Wolvves reminds me of the Strokes: lo-fi and high style. And, the lyrics are arrogant, affronting, apathetic, young and amazing. Raw and totally in the now. No surprise the unofficial mayor of Phoenix poetry Aaron Johnson is listed as the band’s manager. Like Wolvves or not, they’re going to make some fucking art. The first EP from the band was released on tape Friday night. If you missed it, you can still check out their single here. We’ll stay posted for the band’s digital release.
I Want You to Find Happiness and Never Come Back
Foxchildren makes mellow electro-pop with a nod towards goth and the 1980s. “Boy Culture” kicks off the EP and sets a pensive pace more sway-able than dance-able. The intro gets long and uncomfortable on “Disconnect”, but once you’ve made your way through, the song proves worth the wait. The EP’s first single, “Freedom”, is definitely my favorite track on the EP I Want You to Find Happiness and Never Come Back. The song epitomizes Foxchildren’s brooding, ambient sound. I must warn you: the song intros and interludes become increasingly cumbersome on repeated listenings. When you strip away the unnecessary ornamentation you can hear the real potential of Foxchildren. I suggest you check out the Foxchildren’s EP here.
Cheery-sounding sad-bastard music might be my new favorite genre. There’s just something about the sweet and cynical all mixed up together and set to a beat you can bop your head to. That’s what you get with the Skinny Shamans: fun-loving music for your world-weary soul. Check out their single “Skeleteen” from earlier this year.
“Giddy Up Paint”
I love love love the vocal style of Anamieke Quinn, voice and centralizing force behind Treasurefruit. The single from the trio “Giddy Up Paint” showcases all the skill and swagger the band has to offer without grandstanding. Anamieke’s perfectly pitched voice is positively kittenish; jazzy with a western tinge, the essential (but not sole) component in the “desert noir” feeling Treasurefruit creates within every song. Listen to “Giddy Up Paint” today.
Jazz & The GIANT are just really cool. Simple as that. Layering swank, smooth beats and supple lyricism, Jazz & The GIANT conveys bravado and style in the way only great hiphop can. We first heard about Jazz and The Giant with their full-length album Balance of Opposites that dropped last December so we were really excited to see a single from the duo drop just a couple weeks ago. “BoiseStateBlues” proves the group just keeps pushing. Hear it here.
Alright, so I almost peed a little from excitement when I saw that Doctor Bones put out a new track. Only when I hit play did I realize “Sun City” is actually a song from their 2012 EP revisited for the RecordingArtist. The newer recording reveals a dramatic difference within the band. After more than a year of continuous performing and practicing, Doctor Bones has moved from a great concept into the realm of solid, established musicians. I can’t wait to hear what’s to come. Listen here.
Scattered Melodies ft. Ruca
The easy-going reggae-infused acoustic rock of Scattered Melodies found its perfect match in the smooth, serene vocals of Ruca a.k.a. Haley Grigaitis. “Gypsy Girl” captures the warmth and ease of a summer day completely unencumbered by the seemingly endless tasks that plague us in adulthood. The track is available for download free here or you can hear the track through Scattered Melodies Facebook page here.