3 Awesome New Albums for Desert-Dwellers

desert-dweller 00by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Howe Gelb

The Open Road – Arizona Amp & Alternator

Singer-songwriter Howe Gelb is practically synonymous with the Tucson sound: something a little dusty and desolate. Back in February, Gelb released the aptly-titled album, The Open Road – Arizona Amp & Alternator, which offers fans a collection of singles and sketches reaching back over the past five years.

The Open Road kicks off with the title track opening the album which will bring a flush of the familiar for fans as that distinctively ambling alt-folk fills your ears. As far as favorites from the release goes, I love the noir vibe of “five star hotel” but I’m also quite taken with the closing track’s yarn about a gal called “jane by any other name”.  And, I can’t count out “left of center” which features Lonna Kelley as the guest vocalist.

Even the instrumentals on this album are wonderfully vivid; merging jazz-lounge ambiance with a bit of the beer’n’burlesque feel of the Wild West. This album meanders with surprising grace given that the tracks were pieced together over a such extended period. Then again, it’s in no way surprising if you’re familiar with Gelb’s extended body of work not only as a performer but also as a producer. As the weather moves toward sweltering, this is the perfect album to sink into in its entirety on those listless evenings spent waiting for the sun to set.

Robin Vining

Is There Someone for Everyone?

Phoenix songwriter and musician Robin Vining of Sweetbleeders fame released a collection of stripped down songs last month. Is There Someone for Everyone? really shows off Vining’s strengths as a songwriter and composer, moving from sprightly sea ballads to melodic musings on the nature of love. Each song stands on its own accord without a single instance of the filler I too often find on other albums.

There’s no picking a favorite song for me here.  The piano-driven title track feels like the perfect rainy day song while the intentionally sparse and powerfully desperate “Temptation” begs for repeated listens. And I do love the Western amble of “Watch Where You Step”. The trademark pliancy of Vining’s vocals come through in high shine on tracks throughout the album, particularly on “Wild at Heart” and “Ice Floes”. Bascially, music-lovers, you just need this album in your life.

Is There Someone for Everyone? is available for preview and purchase through Bandcamp, but the official release date is next month in Phoenix. More information on that event here.

The Lonesome Wilderness

Lush

The Lonesome Wilderness dropped their much-anticipated EP, Lush, at The Rogue in January and we were on hand to help celebrate the occasion. Lush offers up five tracks of desert garage rock that ignores any presumed division between alt and indie.

The EP opens with “Karma” which feels like it holds all the spiritual insight of a really great acid trip. The somber, and slightly sullen, “Alright” delivers just the right amount of angst before the energy gets turned up for illicit tale of “Murder in Chicago”.

The texturing gets downright trippy on “Stay Out of the Sun” but the band doesn’t rely on those extended post-rock tangents to fill out the EP. Although there are those moments too, this band has a Western sensibility that rises to the surface of their sound, even when the rocknroll comes in without all the textural flourishes usually found in over-abundance on “desert garage rock” releases. They keep things crisp, even when it gets fuzzy. “Nico”, the almost 5-minute closing track, is my late-to-the-game favorite from Lush. There’s a very “Chelsea Hotel No. 2”, folk-rock feel that gives way to modern modes of song construction (or Deconstruction).

As much as I love Lushthere’s nothing quite like the way The Lonesome Wilderness turns their tracks into a post-rock soup at their live performances. So, after you spend sometime with Lush, make sure you add The Lonesome Wilderness to your “Acts to See Live” list (we all have those, right?) if you haven’t done so already. Listen to Lush below…

7 Flavors of Folk

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by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Old Star

“Out Here Alone”

Old Star comes out swinging on their debut single, “Out Here Alone”. Seriously, this indie-folk number will kick you in the heart, but it does so with such beauty that you’ll want to go through the ache all over again as soon as the song ends. “Out Here Alone” erects a solitary atmosphere around the listener that feels a bit windswept and desolate, but there’s a warmth there too. Check out “Out Here Alone” from Phoenix’s Old Star below. Let’s hope there are more tracks to follow…

Bad Dad

“Some Bunny Gun Love Me”

This came across my desk labeled “Oklahoma City based country vapor wave-blues music” – so I was definitely interested. “Some Bunny Gun Love Me” might leave you feeling a little forlorn but that doesn’t mean you won’t be hitting that play button again and again. On this new single from Bad Dad, bourbon smooth vocals hover over dreamy Americana tinged with just the right amount of loneliness thrown in for authenticity’s sake. Give “Some Bunny Gun Love Me” a listen below…

The Fair Wells

“Where is Your Heart”

This duo might have the polish you’d expect of a Los Angeles-based band while holding to an earnest sound that one might expect to hear at a county fair in North Carolina or maybe Virginia (their home state). The Fair Wells craft a simple, sweet-tempered sound on “Where is Your Heart” that will hit you right in the sentimental side. Spirited harmonies meet earthy folk as The Fair Wells  pose the question, “Where is Your Heart”? This single comes to us from the band’s debut EP, Hurricanes, which is available for preview or purchase here. But, first, give “Where is Your Heart” a listen below…

Jordan Merrick

“Untitled #1”

The single comes to us all the way from Australia. Yes, what we would term “Americana” is considered just a good ol’fashioned Australian Bush Ballad down under. Folk knows no boundaries, geographic or otherwise, I suppose. Jordan Merrick’s “Untitled #1” sounds straight from the American Heartland from the anguished vocals to the rustic guitar. After you give the single a spin, it won’t surprise you learn that Merrick drew inspiration from Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. Both Merrick and Dylan share an unadorned candor in their music that I love. Check out “Untitled #1” by Jordan Merrick below…

Ryanhood

“Alright Tonight”

This Tucson folk-pop duo dropped their new LP, Yearbook, earlier this month. Ryanhood is the combined effort of Ryan Green and Cameron Hood. Together, the pair create indie folk with a bit of bounce, but don’t let the feel-good attitude in the music distract you from the seriously dexterous guitarwork on the album. “Alright Tonight” is the opening track from Yearbook and offers listeners a sampling of what’s in store as they progress through all nine songs. Give the single a spin below and, if you dig the Ryanhood brand of folk, delve into Yearbook here .

The Roads Below

“I Want Us”

This Nashville 3-Piece puts a country spin on folk-rock with “I Want Us”. Now, if I’m being totally honest here, I’m not particularly partial to Contemporary Country as a style in either music or fashion, but I find myself quite taken with all the syrupy feelings in “I Want Us”. The Roads Below managed to unearth the squishy center of my black punk heart. This is the first single from the band, but I’m hoping that more will follow. Check out “I Want Us” from The Roads Below, uh, below…

Sam Coppenger

“Between Your Heart and Mine”

Sometimes it’s good to get in touch with your inner innocence. I bet even the most cynical of you out there harbors a little lost love for Mayberry (or maybe this generation is more Stars Hollow). “Between Your Heart and Mine” will bring you back to a time when love was earnest, the streets unlittered, and life seemed a little less complicated. Coppenger comes to us from Nashville by way of Pensacola, FL and you can give his single a spin below. To hear the album from whence this track came, head here.

7 Rad Singles You Should Check Out

rad singles 00Jesse Konrad

“Cruise Ctrl”

Tucson’s Jesse Henderson, who records under than moniker Jesse Konrad, undertook this new musical effort following the breakup of his last band, Fischer Kings. Dropping the surname for the middle one, Jesse Konrad follows the indie-folk of the artist’s previous project, but on his single, “Cruise Ctrl”, Konrad achieves deeper levels on introspection that is matched by the emotional charge of the song’s orchestral sound. This track comes to us from Jesse Konrad’s 2016 EP, Masks, which can be found here. I highly recommend taking this single for a spin. “Cruise Ctrl” is an inspiring punch right in the bad attitude.

SISTERS

“Honey Honey”

This just might be my chill summer jam. Right now, I’m imagining myself wandering through my home on a lazy afternoon (dressed entirely in pastels) with a cocktail in my hand (not that I drink) listening to this track on repeat. The cocktail is also pastel. The Seattle duo known as Sisters shape out some seriously stellar electropop on “Honey Honey”. As the single kicks off, you’ll notice the minimal approach on texturing, but the sound slowly swells until you’re in full-on Mod lounge mode. Sleek and clean from start to finish.  Sample “Honey Honey” below or head here if, like me, you need that digi-download.

Mateo Katsu

“The Glow”

So Mateo Katsu is a bit of an editors’ favorite down here at #YabYumHQ. Maybe it’s his raw but never rough sound or maybe it’s the refreshing candor of his lyrics. Whatever it is, we’re hooked.  “The Glow” proves a little more hopeful than other tracks we’ve featured from the musician, but that might have something to do with the song’s subject matter. According to Katsu, “”The Glow” is about life as a participant in various warehouse communities, not unlike the recently departed Ghost Ship in Oakland.” For artists, these communities do stand as a beacon of hope; a place of possibilities. But, as anyone who has actively participated in the rapscallion life of an artist will tell you, it’s not always peaches and cream. Katsu explores some of the frustrations while celebrating the optimism in “The Glow”. Give the single a spin below or head here to procure the album from whence it came.

Killer Dale

“Under Control”

This garage rock quartet comes to us from New Orleans. Killer Dale derived their name after watching Pineapple Express. Yep, that movie with Seth Rogen. And, once you hear “Under Control”, you probably won’t be surprised by the origin of the band’s name. “Under Control” has that summer-stoner vibe that comes through on ambling guitars and the grungy, basement rock sound.  This single first appeared on Killer Dale’s December release, act as if, which is available for streaming or purchase here. But first, check out “Under Control” below…

Loverboy Wanderers

“Ghost”

The Philly 4-piece known as Loverboy Wanderers released their debut s/t dropped last month and the (almost) five minute track “Ghost” can be found there. Although, this isn’t that version. No, the indie rock outfit released an abridged version of their slinky single following the album. “Ghost” starts off with a bit of a brooding atmosphere but that soon gives way to an angsty energy that keeps the song lively rather than sulky. If you dig the abridged version of “Ghost” you can check out the full version on Loverboy Wanders, the album, here which is available for preview and purchase.

Water Color Weekend

“Strawberry (State of Mind)”

Water Color Weekend, an indie act out of Santa Cruz, crafts an effervescent ditty that will soothe then lift your spirits with “Strawberry (State of Mind)”. For those of you that are wondering just what a strawberry state of mind is, the band explains that a person’s strawberry is an “object, action, or anything else that puts you in a place of escape.” Maybe, this song will prove to be your own personal strawberry with its mellow but effervescent energy. Water Color Weekend recently dropped a brand new EP full of fresh sounds (available here), but, first, let the chill vibe of “Strawberry (State of Mind)” surround you in a comforting blanket of sound. Give the single a spin below.

Matt Reagan

“Not a Problem”

Matt Reagan’s new single has a dreamy, psychedelic hue that reminds me of the musician’s bay-side home-base of San Francisco. “Not a Problem” fuses together fuzzy guitars and layered vocals for a richly textured sound that could easily fit in at The Filmore West (tambourine included) or with any modern indie fan. “Not a Problem” even goes so far as to disseminate into a brief jam session in true homage to the psychedelic sounds of the 60s after the two-minute mark. Give “Not a Problem” by Matt Reagan a listen below…

When In AZ: Round TWO!!

Photo by Kyla F. Borders

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Back in 2009, for those of you who don’t remember, a major moment in Arizona music history took place – the When in AZ compilation came to life. More than fifty Arizona acts covering favorite tracks from other Arizona musicians are featured on this one massive collection that has persisted in the hearts and minds of local listeners, elevating the compilation above that of mere ephemera to a lasting marker of both time and place.

I mean, on When in AZ. Volume 1, you have a Yellow Minute recording of “Dot Dot Dot” which was a What Laura Says song, Lonna Kelley covering Treasure Mammal’s “Everybody’s A Winner”, The Liars Handshake performing AJJ’s “Let’s Get Murdered”, Black Carl covering Kinch, Fatigo, Colorstore, Truckers on Speed, Back Ted N-Ted, Kirkwood Dellinger, Courtney Marie Andrews, Gospel Claws, Former Friends of Young Americans… Gah! I’d better stop before this gets weird. You just have to check out Volume 1 for yourself here.

But we’re not here to talk about what happened way back when. Phoenix musician Nick Kizer, the man-behind-the-movement who provided the organizational force to get this project off the ground all those years ago, is ready to do it all over again.

That’s right, folks. When in AZ. Volume 2 is getting underway this year.

The When in AZ project not only offers musicians the opportunity to pay tribute to their favorite locally-penned songs, but it’s also a way of introducing their sound to new audiences. And, the entire endeavor is a not-for-profit effort that donates proceeds from the project to local children’s charities. So it’s good music and for a good cause. That’s our favorite combo.

And now, it’s time for a disclaimer. We, at YabYum, are part of the organizing effort for When in AZ – the 2017 edition – not for any monetary gain but because we think this project is pretty rad. We covered the first compilation back in ’09 and we watched it live on as a memento of the artists that make the wondrously vivid and diverse music scene of Arizona.

Along with our senior editorial team (me’n Mark), Nick will be joined this time ’round by Sarah Ventre of KJZZ and Girls Rock Phoenix, music writer and cultural phenomena Mitchell Hillman, musician Erick Pineda of Citrus Clouds, and audio-engineer Jalipaz of Audioconfusion, who will be offering a special rate for artists looking to record a single at the studio for the compilation.

Now, you’re hopefully starting to wonder how to get involved with When in AZ, Round Two.

Well, if you live in Arizona, just record a cover of another Arizonan’s song: past or present. Keep in mind, you’ll need to ask that artist for permission. Then send it in (to wheninaz@gmail.com). That’s it. That’s the genius of Kizer’s project. It captures the NOW of Arizona music in a fresh way and without subjecting entries to a “review board” to select the “best” which usually just means a few people picking out their favorites. [ Disclaimer 2: We’re not pointing fingers. We, at YabYum, openly acknowledge picking favorites. It’s called being a critic.]

If your band (or you) record a cover and send it in, we’ll include it. Now, before any troll decides they can exploit that previous statement to an annoying personal end, we reserve the right to not let you muck it up for the rest of us. All joking aside though, When in AZ seeks to encapsulate music in this place, at this time, so we want to hear from all you splendid music-makers that share this desert state.

When in AZ mastermind Nick Kizer took some time to answer a few questions about the project to help give folks a better idea of where it came from and where it’s going.

when in az new 1YabYum: What first inspired you to start When In AZ?

Nick Kizer: In 2009, when I was a younger dude and more active in the music scene with my band, Babaluca, we would often “shoot the shit” with other musicians after gigs. We were always talking about how AZ talent would leave the state for LA or New York once reaching a certain level of popularity. The concept was intended to be a snap shot of the scene at the time, hence the title, “When in AZ”.

Please tell us a little about the first compilation? How many artists appeared on it? When was it released? Did other people help you pull it all together?

The compilation was open to any AZ musician who wanted to cover a song by another AZ musician or band. It was a novel idea and the largest Arizona-based music compilation at the time. There were 50+ artists that recorded songs for When in AZ. The 2009 release was followed up with a multi-venue showcase at local spots such as Trunk Space, Rhythm Room, Modified Arts and Hard Rock Cafe. All proceeds from sales of the compilation and the shows went to music based charities for children’s programs in need of instruments.

I received so much help from other musicians, venue owners, local audio engineers, and media. A big shout out to my friend Laci Lester who helped me put together the first comp.

It’s been seven years since you put out the compilation. What made you decide to take up the project again?

I have had so many friends and musicians ask me about it over the years. It feels like the right time to make it happen again and I think I have a good group of people working on it with me. It’s going to be epic.

Please tell us a little about the review process for submissions (or lack thereof) so artists looking to submit have an idea about what they should expect.

Similar to the first comp, I invite any Arizona-based musician to participate. In the first compilation we received a lot of rock and electronic submission. We are interested in expanding genres for this volume. No one who submitted last time was rejected. I think that made it very special.

So, what are the basic guidelines for artists looking to submit?

The main requirement is that they get permission from the artist they want to cover. That is pretty easy. From there they recorded the cover song by any means they have. We are working with Audioconfusion recording studio to make an affordable/quality option for artists that need help. We will also master the compilation once all the songs are received. The deadline to submit a song is August 1st.

You booked some pretty ambitious shows to celebrate the launch of the first compilation. Do you plan on hosting similar events for the reboot?

The shows are an important part of When in AZ. We will probably do something similar at multiple venues around town or maybe a festival this time around. Details are still being worked out. All I know is it is going to be fun.

Submissions are now open.

LINKS:

Facebook

Bandcamp

when in az vol 1

3 Garage Rock Ragers


by Joe Golfen
Staff Writer

The Darts

The Darts

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.

Desert Beats

Desert Beats

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.

Check out the record here, and catch Desert Beats at their dual record release show with Strange Lot, March 4th at Valley Bar.

sunlaand

Goth Grrl

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.

Check out the record here, and catch sunlaand at the Phantom Party Album Release show, March 4th at 51 West.

7 Mellow Singles

mellow featureCAT

“You Belong to Me”

L.A.’s Cat Pierce, formerly of The Pierces, has ditched the surname and embarked upon a solo, and single-syllable, project. CAT penned the track while, and I quote, “micro-dosing with mushrooms,” but don’t expect some tripped out, SoCal stoner jam sess. The artist’s journey is ultimately a spiritual one, not just some played-out party grrl antics. Her music gets a little bit darker and goes a whole lot deeper. “You Belong to Me” has a modern noir sense of style and CAT possesses the sultry vocal prowess to fully embody that aesthetic. Give the single a spin below or head here for your own digital copy of “You Belong to Me” by CAT.

Rosie Carney

“Awake Me”

Rosie Carney might still be shy of twenty, but she encapsulates both a sound and wisdom well beyond the limitations of mere lifespan. The introspective lyrics and simple folk sound shape out the listener’s path, but it is Carney’s hauntingly tender voice defines the song. Rosie Carney’s voice has a delicate expressiveness that, at only 19, sets her apart as a bit of a phenom. I’m definitely excited to see what’s to come from this Irish songbird. Give “Awake Me” a spin below or head to iTunes for your own copy of the single.

Chase McBride

“Control”

Chase McBride is another artist from the Cali Coast, but he comes to us from San Francisco. I would contend that there’s a bit of that easygoing NorCal attitude that comes through on his single “Control” with its stripped-down folk and breezy melody. This is a track to chill out with in a hammock built for two. “Control” is the opening track from McBride’s 2017 release, Cold Water, which can be previewed through Soundcloud or purchased through iTunes.

Louis Vivet

“Pulse (Acoustic)”

The duo known together as Louis Vivet decided to revisit their hit single for what I’m going to refer to henceforth as an un-remixing. That is, they took their dance hit and stripped it down its acoustic bones. Usually, it seems to be the other way around. Both renditions of “Pulse” have a mellow vibe and feature the vocal stylings of Kirsten Collins, but the new acoustic version brings new emotional layers to my attention that might have slipped past me on the original. Decide for yourself. You can check out the new acoustic version of “Pulse” from Louis Vivet below or head here to peruse the music video for the original version.

Allston Horses

“Every Last Breath”

This indie folk artist out of Boston might be best avoided if you’re currently making adjustments to your anti-depressants. Save Allston Horses for a stable week. However, while the lyrics might be dark, clinically so, the music is entrancing; somber, thoughtful, and paced to match the deeply confessional lyrics. Tyler Lavoie, the man behind Allston Horses, throws in some post-rock electronic texturing to bring “Every Last Breath” into its fully fleshed form. This single is the closing track from Allston Horses’ debut EP1 which is available for preview/purchase through Bandcamp. I suggest you delve into “Every Last Breath” below…

un:ted states

“Silent Spring”

This single is an early offering from the forthcoming LP by the Tucson quartet known as un:ted states. “Silent Spring” has a dreamy feel, but that of a daydream, when the warmth of the sun still lingers on your skin and pinks the back of your eyelids.  The psych-tinged indie rock of un:ted states combines ethereal vocals with a shoegaze sense of structure as it takes its time meandering through “Silent Spring”. The band’s LP, The Earth and The Sea and The Stars, is available for pre-order (or direct purchase after Saturday) through Bandcamp.

Arpeggi

“Never Meant 2”

If you enjoy some bedroom indie, I suggest checking out the music of Gav McIsaac who records under the moniker Arpeggi. “Never Meant 2” is the opposite of the overproduced singles we usually see churned out of L.A. Arpeggi might share the area code, but he opts for a simpler style, something more honest.  This December release carries a bit of winter chill in its tale which seems to place the narrator at the unfortunate point in a love triangle. “Never Meant 2” offers listeners a lofi expression of loneliness, but there’s beauty in it. Give the single from Arpeggi a spin below…

7 Lively (and Eclectic) Indie Singles

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Foresteater

“Big Deceiver”

So, Foresteater is one of those band’s that snuck up on me. I heard about them, but I hadn’t heard them until it came around time to work on the 2016 awards. Only then did I learn about Nightlife of the Exploding Heads. For shame, I know. Thankfully, Foresteater is on my radar so I was very excited to discover “Big Deceiver” – a new single from the band less than a year after their debut EP. This track has the effervescent, dreaming-in-space feel that marked the band’s indie sound back in 2016, but I must say, this might be my favorite Foresteater track ever. Bright harmonies lift your spirits, despite the serious implications of the lyrics, while the catchy melody carries you along. Mikey Pro, the man behind the moniker, is doing good things here. Give “Big Deceiver” a spin below…

COTE

“Cruel”

We featured COTE’s single, “London”, back in September and she’s back to offer up another gem. Cote’s voice is velvet rich, both deep and lithe, and casts out authentic emotive energy on “Cruel” as the instrumentation builds to culmination. There’s a real vulnerability that emerges within the tracks ruminations on loneliness and needful loves. Give “Cruel” a listen below and then head to Soundcloud to check out more tracks available from NYC’s COTE.

Lunch Ladies

“Pick Yourself Up”

The NJ dream pop band known as the Lunch Ladies are releasing their debut LP this coming March, but they dropped this little ditty in prelude to their forthcoming album. “Pick Yourself Up” carries an aloof air within its upbeat indie sound; something cool if not disheartened and a little distant. Listen to “Pick Yourself Up” below and join us in the wait for the Lunch Ladies’ LP, Down on Sunset Strip, which will be released through Good Eye Records next month.

Jillian and the Giants

“Champagne and Pearls”

The Tucson act known as Jillian and the Giants released their sophomore EP, Mr. Airplane, last year and they already have a new single to offer up listeners. “Champagne and Pearls” is a new favorite in my book. Jillian and the Giants is an act known for their amazing story telling skills and this story just so happens to take place on the day the world ends. The indie sound on this single takes on an Eastern European-folk hue – a little different from the band’s buoyant sound. Let’s hope there’s a new collection Jillian is currently cooking up with her Giants. Until then, enjoy “Champagne and Pearls” below…

Yellow Radio

“Cold Cold Shower”

Let’s get a little rowdy with the Parisian duo known as Yellow Radio. “Cold Cold Shower” has all the energy and style you could want from your indie rock. The single comes from the band’s 2016 release, Night Life. The full album offers this listener a lot of variance from track to track. “Cold Shower” is the song you put on when you’re getting ready to barhop on the weekend or that date you hope ends more Showtime than Disney. Give “Cold Shower” a listen below or head here to preview/purchase the complete album from Yellow Radio.

L.A. Spring

“Heart and Soul”

Despite the West Coast suggestion of this band’s name, L.A. Spring is actually a London-based 3-piece. “Heart and Soul” is a radio-ready number with a bit of New Wave appeal that emerges from the band’s exploration of electronic influences. Sometimes, that retro-synth sound can feel a bit played out these days, considering it seems to be the new hotness, but L.A. Spring manages a refreshingly modern sound that is accentuated by the presence of synths rather than overburdened. Give “Heart and Soul” by L.A. Spring a spin below…

Golden Halos

“Page Nineteen”

Here we have another duo going for that New Wave synth sound. “Page Nineteen” keeps the energy up on this post-punk / indie pop mashup, but the tone here is a little more aggressive and a touch gloomier. If Oingo Boingo left an absence in your heart, Portland’s Golden Halos just might be able to fill that hole for you. This song addresses the topic of “narcissism and alienation enabled by modern personal technology and social media” so I think Danny Elfman would approve. I certainly do. “Page Nineteen” comes to us from the band’s 2017 release, Farewell Strange Attractor, and you can check it out for yourself below…

7 Hawt Hiphop Singles

hiphop singles 00Blaze Rock

“Oh Lord”

Oh, damn. Blaze Rock is gearing up to unleash a new album on Feb. 3rd. In prelude to Things Left Unsaid, the PHX emcee shared this stand-out single. “Oh Lord” lays his sharp lyricism against a hard-hitting rhythm made even more powerful by the added texturing of vocal flourishes. Check out “Oh Lord” below and then start counting down the days until the February release of Things Left Unsaid.

Pellican Child

“Turn Me Down”

Pellican Child is the musical project of Louis the Child and Pell (Pellican Child, get it?). In their debut single, “Turn Me Down”, the duo establishes a summertime vibe with their lithe, carefree beat and easygoing rhyme style. This is a promising start to a (hopefully) long and beautiful musical friendship. Listen to “Turn Me Down” by Pellican Child below…

Tok Sik

“Real Life Cartoonz”

The PHX MC known as Tok Sik writes and produces his own music, but don’t expect any played-out, bedroom beats here. Tok Sik takes a chillax beat and layers on some sick rhymes for his latest single, “Real Life Cartoonz”, which comes to us from his debut album. Give the single a spin below and join us in the wait for Off the Record. The full album drops on Jan. 27th!

Frescotoldya

“Make It Official”

This single comes to us from the Bait EP from Phoenix artist Frescotoldya. Bait is but a taste of what’s to come from the forthcoming Great White Shark LP. “Make It Official” features the slick vocal stylings of Blacc Anubis to help set up that steamy make-up sex vibe of this track. This track is (officially) the first single from Great White Shark. Give “Make It Official” a listen below…

OG Big Game

“Super Sayian”

OG Big Game is part of the O.G. Hill rap crew out of Georgia. And, in truth, this track pretty much sold me on the name before I even heard the stellar rap skills of OG Big Game, but I’m a nerd like that. Of course, once the emcee started laying out the lyrics, I was locked into “Super Sayian”. The beat on the track doesn’t go in for studio punches on the production end, preferring to keep things simple and focused on the track’s resounding strength: OG Big Game’s rhymes. Listen to “Super Sayian” here…

Au

“Gotta Ball”

I’m not exactly sure what we’re supposed to call this Phoenix artist, but I think that’s important information to have, especially considering this is an artist I’m going to want to help spread the word about. Is it a phonetic spelling, like “roast beef au juice”? Seems more likely that the name might be in reference to gold’s symbol on the periodic table. Should we call him “gold”? However, you reference Au verbally, his new single “Gotta Ball” will prove worth the mention. A strong rhyme style vacillates between slouchy and smokey to power-punching. Give the single a spin below…

Stik Figa

“The Ends & Outs”

Stik Figa, an emcee from Topeka, will be releasing Central Standard Time on the 27th of this month on the Tucson label, Mellow Music Group, but you can enjoy some early preview tracks before the complete LP drops. “The Ends & Outs” is one such sample single. An easygoing rhyme style and sharp lyrical ability coalesce for a chill number that will get your head bobbing. This is an enticing taste of what’s to come. Give “The Ends & Outs” a spin below and then head here to secure that pre-order status.

Top 20 Music Videos 2016

top 20 music videos 00020
Sundressed
“Autopilot”

Directed by Cory Davis

19
Sugar Skull Explosion
“I Don’t Want To”

Directed by Plastic Monsters

18
Confetti Club
“Clutches of Emotion”

Directed by Justin Humbert

17
Dadadoh
“Do It”

Directed by Bryan Preston

16
The Brothers Comatose
“Black Light Moon”

Directed by Colin Blackshear

15
Injury Reserve
“All This Money”

Directed by Parker Corey

14
Draa
“Losing My Charm”

Directed by Freddie Paull

13
Willetta
“Rosario”

Directed by Michael J. Buckius

12
Fairy Bones
“Notes from Wonderland”

Directed by Brandon McGill and Chelsey Louise

11
Genre
“Speak Now”

Directed by Genre

10
decker.
“Holy Ghost”

Directed by Matty Steinkamp

9
Wyves
“Spoils of War”

Directed by Cory Davis

8
Mega Ran
“Mackerel Sky”

Directed by Luis “ElJayBeats” Perez

7
Playboy Manbaby
“I’d Like to Meet Your Parents”

Directed by Ryan Riggs & Jordan Pillar

6
Captain Squeegee
“Dually Noted”

Directed by Freddie Paull

5
Aesthetically Sound
“In My Feelings”

Directed by Rachael Smith

4
No Volcano
“Blackout”

Directed by Jason Willis

3
The Haymarket Squares
“Heaven”

Directed by Cory Davis

2
Lando Chill
“Save Me”

Directed by Malcolm Critcher

1
The Thin Bloods
“Talk Talk Talk”

Directed by Ryan Lee Caldwell

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Previous Best Music Video Award Winners:

2015
2014
2013

Best HipHop Album: For Mark, Your Son by Lando Chill

lando chill 000I have to admit, this was one of our most contentious categories this year. Arizona HipHop has been on the up-and-up in recent years and 2016 proved one of the best years for albums of this genre… which just made our job all the more difficult.

But, when it came down to it, Lando Chill took the lead with his album, For Mark, Your Son, which came out last summer. This Tucson artist is breaking the traditional molds of HipHop with his pensive lyrics and smooth style and is fearless in the face of personal revelation and emotional honesty.

And, as an added bonus, Lando Chill re-recorded a number of the tracks from this album for his Madera Canyon EP (which came out in November) using a live backing band. Check out For Mark, Your Son here by Lando Chill below before moving on to the follow-up EP.

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Previous Best HipHop Award Winners:

2015: Mega Ran
2010: Drunken Immortals