WHEN IN AZ Vol 2 Update!!

when in az vol 2Hey all you music-makers in Arizona!

Have you picked out your cover song yet?? We know the summer sort of got away from a lot of us so When In AZ decided to extend the deadline for submissions to it’s latest compilation.

So, stop panicking. The When In AZ Vol. 2 compilation project will be accepting tracks through October. You still have time if you want to be a part of this momentous piece of Arizona music history. Yes, our senior editors ARE part of the organizational effort behind the project so I get that it’s a little weird for us to call it momentous, but it really is, like, a big deal.

Go to the official When In AZ Vol. 2 website for more information and/or to submit your track right now.

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.

YabYum Seven: Brooke Grucella

Brooke Grucella 03Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Brooke Grucella, I am an artist, curator, and Professor of Practice for the School of Art, University of Arizona. I primarily work in 2D and installation these days, however, occasionally I dabble in video and sculpture.

How did you get your start?

How did I get my start….as far as exhibiting…hmmmmm. Well once I graduated from the MFA program I began to search for galleries around the country that exhibited the same type of work I was doing. I got my start as a sort of New Brow, graffiti- influenced artist.

I started showing at a space called Wind-up in Mesa along with a wide arrange of Low Brow, New Brow, Graffiti, and Pop Surreal artists. I expanded out to Cella Gallery with my first solo show, shortly thereafter. Both spaces have since closed, but they gave me my first taste of working in commercial galleries.

Brooke Grucella 02What inspires you?

I am inspired by a lot of things, most of all pop culture and youth driven culture. There is a dash of nostalgia in my work, but it is obscured by the use of skate, surf, toy, comics, and cartoon imagery. Most of my figurative work revolves around my siblings coupled with the stories and communication of our relationships.

Right now I am fixated on abstracting comic book imagery into symbols that represent both the emotional and physical states of dealing with the trauma. Trauma or the disruption of the norm can happen any number of ways.

The next body of work is going to deal with the trauma of cancer. It has effected my family is quite a few ways so I am creating these “portraits” of family members’ cancer using comic book and surf/skate influenced imagery. It would sort of look like microscopic images of the cells, but think of garbage pail kid aesthetics.

Statement:

My work is an investigation in memory and perception. The process of encoding, storing, and retrieving information as it is filtered through an amalgam of consumer and popular culture intrigues me.

My work focuses on how various forms of collective culture shape issues of sex, gender, politics, depression, fear, anger, love, loss and social strata. My own personal experiences and those of the people who immediately surround me influence the content of the images.

The work considers what develops when romantic, platonic, familial and social influences translate into various forms of recollection. The pieces are not nostalgic, but rather an exercise in distilling down memory into a mutation of commercialism. Figural, textual and decorative aesthetics are essential in the presentation of each piece. Products are signifiers of the events themselves; creating memory becomes a spin-off of the popular culture process.

Brooke Grucella 05What do you like about AZ?

I can remember the first time visiting Arizona before moving here. I thought it was bloody hot, but coming from Simi Valley, California, which is nestled in the Santa Susana Mountains, I thought the spaciousness of Arizona was amazing! The open space, the sunsets, and the monsoons are utter highlights for me. Plus living in Tucson I have the added perk of being in a sort of artsy liberal-ish small (feeling) community.

Where can we see you(r) work?

My work was recently up at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and will soon be in the Small Works Invitational at Davis Dominguez Gallery. I am working on getting my website up and running this summer and Foudai Projects in SF has some of my works in their inventory.

Brooke Grucella 04What would you like to accomplish before you die?

That is a BIG question. Honestly, I would love to be able to focus more on my studio work and travel across the country meeting people, learning new places, finding different inspirations and explore.

What is your mantra?

You can’t make red from orange. Meaning, you can’t go back and change what has already happened. All you can do is live, learn, and grow.

~

Brooke Grucella 01

For the Record: Kinship by The Wanda Junes

wanja junes 01by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

The Wanda Junes journeyed up from Tucson to record a new album at Fivethirteen Recording in Tempe and the band carried the feel of that dusty desert divide they traversed straight into the studio. Kinship, much like its title suggests, has a familial, kitchen-table atmosphere. The album sounds like a bunch of old friends (of really talented, musician-type friends) hanging out while hashing out some tunes.

The singing (and songwriting) duties get passed around the table which only adds to the communal feel of this recording. One person tells a story and then the next recounts a tale. From the rambling ballad “Green Pastures” to the wry look at acceptance offered on the album’s closer, “I’m Home”, Kinship offers listeners a storybook of Americana.

I find I’m rather taken with the bittersweet sound of “For Now”, but Kinship glows with an interior warmth from beginning to end. There are moments of humor and sorrow and joy to be uncovered in the homespun stories of The Wanda Junes.

The album was released through Baby Tooth Records on limited edition cassette tape last month.

I’m just starting to wonder… do you have to play an instrument to hang out with The Wanda Junes’ crew? I mean, can you just bring some snacks to share and take it all in? I suppose I’m willing to take the next best thing: hanging out at my own damn kitchen table with the music of The Wanda Junes. You can do the same. There are still some copies of that limited edition cassette available so head here to score your copy.

I had the opportunity to ask Bobby Carlson of The Wanda Junes about the new album, communal songwriting, and what this Tucson band has in the works next. Check out our chat below. But, first, take a gander at the new album, Kinship. 

YabYum: Quite a cast of players you’ve gathered. How did The Wanda Junes join forces for the greater musical good?

Bobby Carlson: It hasn’t been the smoothest process. And not the most exciting tale.

I moved from Flagstaff to Tucson in June of 2012 to start the Wanda Junes with Steve Soloway. We had already begun sending recordings to each other and when Steve recruited Jesus Robles, we had a set of songs and he fit right in. A year later, we had our first album Factory Plaza finished, Jesus had bailed, and Steve set off to Maine to start his family.

The band actually played a “last” show and had every intention of breaking up. By then, we’d picked up Thom Plasse and Jeff Henderson, and, at some point, the three of us decided to just keep going, or to try, at least. We played one show as an acoustic-ish trio, but by then Adam Frumhoff, an old friend from Flagstaff had joined, and we had recruited Karima Walker soon after as well. That was just to play banjo. How little we knew!

We recorded half of Hi Fi Record Album and then Allison McGillivray joined and she helped us finish it (she actually introduced us to Karima). Later, Karima quit, and we got Nathan Fenoglio. We recorded Kinship and Allison quit to go save the world from nuclear annihilation, and Nathan quit to save his world. My old roommate, Tony Ballz moved in with me, and naturally into the band. When Allison and Nathan left, we were demoralized and unsure of what was going to happen. We got writing and things currently feel solid, like a car commercial with a Bob Seger soundtrack…

I noticed that the band makes the trek to Tempe to record over at Fivethirteen. We love that studio but I’d like to know what keeps you coming back?

Well, we love it too. I was introduced to Catherine through Abe Gil and Owen Evans, separately and together, when I still lived in Flagstaff, and it’s been my go-to spot ever since. I get the impression that they like working with us. I wish we had the budget to just have a standing weekend with them every other month or something. The recordings that I’ve done there, if I’m unhappy with anything, it’s either with my songwriting or the performances. It’s always on my end. At this point, it’s really comfortable, which when you’re recording, is pretty important. I’m perfectly happy making this entire interview a testimonial for Fivethirteen.

Songwriting and vocal duties seem to be shared amongst the band members. I would imagine that lends to the sense of camaraderie. Is that the result? Does the band feel more like a gathering of friends than perhaps other bands you might have played with?

It is a gathering of friends, which is the only way I’ve ever done it.(Somehow it’s still stressful at times.) I’m not a good enough player to do it any other way. The result, we all hope, is a better record, and a better live show. Nothing more exciting than white dudes playing guitars, am I right?

Can you tell me a little about how the band approaches songwriting? Does it vary per person?

It does vary. Adam and I are the two main songwriters right now, and the process is a little bit different with each song. But the songs are arranged by the band, and it’s pretty rare for there to be a lot of notes from the songwriter when we’re all writing our parts. The strongest songs, or our favorites at least, have been ones with the heaviest collaboration, which is good news for all those co-ops and communists out there.

What’s next for the band? Writing new songs? Shows? Tour? Music video? Please tell us all the things.

We’re playing some shows around Arizona, trying to put this Kinship album on all the top ten lists. We’d love to release the album on more formats. We’re recording at Midtown Island [in Tucson] at the end of April. (We still love you, Catherine!) We’re thinking that will be the beginning of our next thing–either as a single or several [singles], and/or the beginning of the new album. We just stay focused on songwriting and we hope the rest takes care of itself.

~

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

folk 002

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 below (or 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 is joined this time ’round by 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 record 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

*This article was edited on May 6, 2017

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…