Radio Phoenix Podcast: Strange Lot

strange lot 02We’d been wanting Strange Lot to come down to the Radio Phoenix Studios for some time so it was great to have them down in the laboratory mixing it up. We talked the new record, our love of Tucson music, and animated videos. And don’t forget that TONIGHT, March 4, is the Strange Lot + Desert Beats Dual Record Release Party with Snake! Snake! Snakes! and Dead Canyon at Valley Bar!

Make sure to tune in every first and third Wednesday of the month for The YabYum Hour, only on radiophoenix.org.

Complete Playlist:

Strange Lot “Gods & Clods”

The Myrrors “Liberty is in the Streets”

Snake! Snake! Snakes! “Breakdown”

The Desert Beats “Wolfman Is Here”

The Thin Bloods “Peter Was A Virus”

Slow Moses “High or By or”

Strange Lot “Born”

Destruction Unit “If Death Ever Slept”

Dent “Visit”

PRO TEENS “Control”

B.O.T.S. “Lil’ Smokey Fangers”

Saddles “Face Paint”

Diners “fifteen on a skateboard”

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Recorded live on February 15, 2017

The Darling Sounds: Haunt

darling sounds 01by Mark Anderson
Senior Editor

I honestly had no idea what to expect with the release of local spook-pop band The Darling Sounds’ new album. Sure, we featured their video for “Chemistry”, but that was 2 years ago and I hadn’t heard anything from them in the meantime.

Now, I don’t normally go out of my way to seek the type of twee-indie-alt-rock the Darling Sounds produce, but I decided to spend sometime with their latest album, Haunt.

On that first listen, I felt the overall sound certainly isn’t bad and, these days, that’s saying something. Because we hear a lot of crap. On the daily. And the Darling Sounds are not that. They seem fun and innocent, perhaps there’s a little naïveté, and their music reflects that.

But on that second, more astute, listen, I really began to understand the strengths at play within The Darling Sounds.

Grace, Zach, and Cutter (see, how cute is that?) create the Darling ‘sounds’ with each member playing a variety of instruments including: keyboard doodles, cheese doodles (omg, they’re killing me), percussion, and depression (seriously stop you guys I’m dead). The instrumentation is solid and lively, setting the happy-go-lucky sound of the album. The lyrics tell a different, darker story, however.

“Whatever Happens, Happens” opens the album with an old-timey radio melodrama that continues throughout Haunt. This is interrupted with an indiepoprock guitar lick that kicks the song into full, alternative gear. The lyrics bring forth the first of many references to the supernatural whilst expressing feelings of personal pain and loss: “Pull a sheet over my head/suddenly an empty bed/can shake my faith/but rapture is a wraith and you’re not dead yet.” See, spooky stuff.

Of course, local rock critic Mitchell Hillman is correct in calling “2 Haunt 4 U” the “quintessence of the Darling Sounds in just over three minutes.” Not only is the music poppy and the lyrics brooding, the double-entendre on haunted houses and the echoing mice within reveal a graver layer – asking the questions “Who’s haunting who?” and “Do you really want to be here at all?”

Switching things up, “Slow Roots” lives up to it’s name, decreasing the tempo and cranking up the sweetness: “I watched you through a hole in the carpet/but telescopes can’t harvest a garden/I’ve got slow roots growin’ in your stardust.”

My favorite musical moment on the entire album appears on “Slightly Unsightly”. Maybe it’s because the song reminds me of such greats as Belle & Sebastian, but the refrain of “I like when people tell me secrets/it makes me feel important/but no one tells me secrets anymore” not only lyrically impresses me, the guitar only breakdown with tom-tom punches just works so well.

“Domestic Sounds” is an older Darling Sounds track and was the first single for Haunt. Showcasing more of the surf-rock sound of the band it features a fun guitar solo and the stellar chorus, “Can I listen to the sound of clinking cutlery?/’cause it’s the sound, it’s the sound of domesticity/I’m on the outside looking in at all this normalcy/and darlin’, I don’t know where to go.”

Closing the album is the vocal harmony, acoustic guitar, shaker, and tambourine only track “Laughing In Her Sleep.” This melancholy yet optimistic track is the perfect ending for the record, “She could sweep the cobwebs with her eyelashes/some nights I even dream of this/I wonder if she dreams about this too/As she’s laughing in her sleep you’re laughing in your sleep/and I’m home with you.”

It surprised me that the album is darker than it seems. I listen to albums several times over before I review them, but only when I sat down and was actually able to read the lyrics of the songs on Haunt did I catch the true nature of this record which explores the horror and fascination one feels when confronted with a mortal end.

Christina Cole’s cover art is apt: your own inner demons manifesting into a powerful force that permeates and controls your life.

Released on 11/11 of this year at Valley Bar I definitely recommend checking out Haunt by the Darling Sounds. It’s impressiveness was slow to impress upon myself but that’s probably just me!

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For more info on the Darling Sounds check out their Facebook and Tumblr pages.

Radio Phoenix Podcast: Citrus Clouds

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Citrus Clouds: Erick Pineda, Stacie Huttleston, Angelica Pedrego (l to r)

Earlier this month Maryvale’s own Citrus Clouds joined us in the Radio Phoenix Studios for another edition of Rise. Not only did they bring some tracks off their new record, Imagination, they brought along some stellar picks of artists they enjoy as well. Make sure and head to Valley Bar on Nov. 2 to catch the Imagination Release Party when the music will start at 7:30 PM. More on that event here.

Complete Playlist:

Citrus Clouds “The Sun is in My Eyes”

Fatigo “The Golf Cart Preacher”

Depeche Mode “Strange Love”

The Nix “Diamond Eyes”

Nanami Ozone “Be Cool to Me”

Citrus Clouds “Imagination”

Tierra Firme “Populous 2”

The Echo Bombs “Biter”

Factories “Story Like Yours”

Dadadoh “What I Got”

The Lonesome Wilderness “Wasted”

Ego Tripping “Impression”

Recorded live on October 19, 2016

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For the Record: Honest Life by Courtney Marie Andrews

courtney marie andrews 01by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews has desert roots but a wanderlust spirit so she left her Sonoran home to explore other locales. Every once in a while, however, she’ll breeze through town to share some of the songs she’s composed on her journey. This month, Andrews will be popping into Valley Bar in downtown Phoenix to play some road-tested tunes and unveils her new album, Honest Life, for her hometown fans.

Now, I’ve been following Andrews ever since I found myself enamored with “It’s Okay, I Understand” and listened to it a million and a half times. Such an early introduction has allowed me to witness the development of this songwriter over the subsequent years and Honest Life demonstrates the culmination of the years she has devoted to honing her craft.

From the start of “Rookie Dreaming”, the opening track, I knew I was in for something special. Courtney Marie Andrews pairs a pensive songwriting with an adventurous soul and that spirit can be felt on every track. From the country bar ballad “How Quickly Your Heart Mends” to the travel weary “15 Highway Lines”, Honest Life presents the sincere observations of a wide-eyed watcher.

I had the opportunity to ask Courtney Marie Andrews a few questions about life on the road, songwriting, and what it means to live an “honest life.”

Read our Q&A here and make plans to head to Valley Bar on August 21st for Andrews’ live show with Dylan Pratt and Jesse Teer. More about the show here.

YabYum: What new horizons have you seen since you were last in town?

CMA: It’s been an interesting few years. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road singing backup and playing guitar for some great artists. In between that time on the road I bartended at a small town tavern, wrote songs, and recorded Honest Life with my band. I feel as if I’ve lived 10 different lives since my last time in town.

You grew up in Phoenix, but you’ve lived in some “weird spots” since leaving our dusty desert. I’m very interested to know where some of your favorite spots are..?

A majority of my time has been spent on the road; spent a few months in Belgium while singing for a songwriter over there; lived for a few months in Los Angeles in between tours; but I’ve been spending a lot of my time in a few different small towns outside of Seattle. Right now I’m staying in a house 7 miles from any town or gas station. I like it in contrast to the crazy touring lifestyle.

courtney marie andrews 02The new album is simply breathtaking. It is aptly named for the emotional honesty that resonates in every track, although I’m fairly certain that wasn’t why the name was chosen. What does “Honest Life” mean to you?

“Honest Life” means coming of age, and realizing how hard it is to remain true to yourself, but truly believing it is within you, and the ones you love, to do so. “Honest Life” is every stranger you meet no matter what background they come from. It’s the idea that everyone in the end, at least tried, to live their most honest life.

I’d like to know a little more about the album’s creation. Where did you record it? Did you write it during a respite from your travels or during you pen the tracks in different locales?

My band and I focused on the songs, and rehearsed them for a month before heading into the studio. The players on the record are great friends of mine, so it felt more personal, which was perfect for the songs and theme of the album. We recorded it at Litho in Seattle, with a true gem of a human, Floyd Reitsma.

Most of the songs were written in a hotel room in Belgium. I was singing backup for Milow, a songwriter from there. While essentially living in this hotel room, I was going through a major heartbreak, and Honest Life flooded out of me in nearly one piece. I was far from my loved ones, and America. I pined for anything familiar, anything that attached me to myself again. Once I finally did get back to the states, I did the opposite of tour for a while, bartended in a small town, and wrote the rest of the songs about finally arriving to the place that I deeply wished for all those months overseas.

I see that you’ve performed with some other musicians of note. Would you mind sharing some of your favorite artists that you’ve performed with?

I recently got off tour singing backup and playing lead guitar for Damien Jurado. He’s become one of my dear friends, and he’s such an incredible songwriter.

A lot of musicians are eager to leave behind their hometowns to explore new regions. Do you ever get homesick for Phoenix? What, if anything, do you miss about living here?

Most of all I miss my family and friends who still live there. I get homesick for them, more than I do for the place itself. I miss good Mexican food, the purple and pink sunsets that fade into the beautiful wide open desert, and the great music community. All of my childhood and adolescent memories are attached to Phoenix so I will always miss the familiarity of that as well. I wear an Arizonan quarter ring to remind me of where I came from. It’s important to remember.

What’s next for you? Will you be taking a break from songwriting to focus on promoting the new album or do you usually throw yourself writing back into the creation process once you’ve locked down tracks on a recording?

I am always writing. It’s a weekly ritual for the most part.

~

Listen to “How Quickly Your Heart Mends”, the first single from Honest Life below.

The Tastemaker’s Ten: Catherine Vercolli of FiveThirteen Recording

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Catherine Vercolli has been in the business of sound for more than a decade. In fact, and her studio – FiveThirteen Recording – is gearing up to celebrate its decennial. And, of course, Vercolli plans to mark the occasion in style with a blowout occasion at Valley Bar in Phoenix. We would expect nothing less from the woman whose studio consistently puts out unique and highly stylized releases year after year, drawing some of the state’s most exemplary talents to her Tempe headquarters.

And, she’s super cool. In honor of the upcoming 10-Year Celebration of FiveThirteen Recording we asked Catherine, a tastemaker if ever there was one, to pick out ten tracks that she thought every music aficionado should know. Check out her picks and, don’t forget, we expect to see you on Saturday, August 13th, at Valley Bar for the big celebration.

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Paul Simon
“Graceland”

The Smiths
“Barbarism Begins At Home”

[Video Removed]

Philip Glass
“Opening”

Brian Eno
“Third Uncle”

King Floyd
“Woman Don’t Go Astray”

Everything But The Girl
“Before Today”

John Lennon
“Mother”

The Sea And Cake
“An Echo In”

Fleetwood Mac
“Big Love”

Grinderman
“Go Tell The Women”

 

2015 Awards Recap

2015 awards 00Well there you have it folks, our 2015 Awards are done! Now that this month has flown by and we find ourselves eleven twelfths closer to the end of the year, it’s time to begin our regularly scheduled programming. We’re going for gold this year with new content and features so get ready for some new shit. Meanwhile, if you missed any, here is the 2015 Awards Recap!

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anamieke 00 harrison fjord title lonna kelley 00 decker title best music videos of 2015 00 Scherrer staff favorites title sweetbleeders title

Best New Venue: Valley Bar

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photo source

A lot of new spots popped up on the local scene in 2015, but it’s Valley Bar that has won us over despite its unusually high percentage of intoxicated hipsters. But with drinks like “The Janet Napolotini” and “That’s a Ducey” served in the Rose Room (named for Rose Mofford), we can’t help but let the kitschy cool overcome us. Add to that a great concert calendar that boasts the best of the local circuit as well as national acts in their Music Hall and you’ve got the makings of a happening place to be. Valley Bar goes the extra mile and includes literary events like Bar Flies (a monthly reading series) and Get Lit, a gathering for cocktails and conversation on all things writerly and readerly with Four Chambers Press.

When it comes to the menu, they partnered with Short Leash Hot Dogs to create a unique array of offerings that goes way beyond hot dogs from Pear Salads to Apple Sausage Mac + Cheese. I’m going back soon for the Valley Cristo (Roasted Turkey, Black Forest Ham + Havarti inside a brioche Doughnut Deep Fried + served with Fresh Current Jam). And don’t even get me started on the dessert doughnuts.

Providing separate spaces for the Music Hall and the Rose Moffard Lounge (aka The Rose Room), allows music patrons space to enjoy a show without having to deal with overly loud conversations or the embarrassing mating rites of young Americans. After all, the lounge is right next door. Grab a bite, exchange verbal niceties, and then head back to the Music Hall to take in the show. It’s like they took the mutually beneficial Trunk Space-Bikini Lounge symbiotic relationship and crammed it into one basement (alas, without the all-ages side).

If you haven’t been there, go ahead and pull up their calendar here. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Now find an event that strikes your fancy and make plans. You’ll be glad you did. I also recommend getting tickets ahead of time to avoid a sold-out situation. Valley Bar often has a line of patrons waiting their turn to gain entrance when the early arrivers leave, but a pre-purchased ticket to the show can circumvent all that.

Plan accordingly and give Valley Bar a place on your 2016 Bucket List. More info can be found on their website here.

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There Is Danger performing at Valley Bar during their EP Release Show in May 2015.

Bar Flies: A Monthly Reading Series

barflies1by Lenore LaNova
Senior Editor

Since June, locals have been swarming to Valley Bar in downtown Phoenix for Bar Flies: A Monthly Reading Series. Last week, I made my way to the alleyway entrance of Valley Bar, the hippest addition to the downtown bar circuit to incorporate skeeball, for the event.

This month’s installment, curated by Amy Silverman, was titled “Eating Christmas”.  Stories centered around the dishes that define our holidays. From the cookie politics of Phoenix’s historical neighborhoods to a drug-fueled Christmas caper, the participants shared a lot of laughter and even a couple of tears.

Amy Young kicked off the night with the tale of a hilarious heist involving holiday side dishes and crystal meth. Joy Young followed with “I’m Dreaming of a Meat Free Christmas”, a humorous examination of familial alienation and the love that keeps us coming back.

Robrt Pela’s “Cookie House” confronts tradition with panache when the author takes charge of a neighborhood bake sale and gets some surprising results. When Pela said, “Dolly Madison would have drank rat poison and flung herself off a bridge,” I wondered why we aren’t already best friends. Bossy perfectionists unite!

In “This Is All I Can Say with These Rules”, Tricia Parker creates a sense of continuity both in life and between Swedish meatballs and mathematics before Amy Silverman closed the evening with “Sincerely, Sophie”, a tribute to her daughter’s ongoing belief in Santa.

The stories were funny and moving; they held the audience entranced from the first performance to the very last. The next installment of Bar Flies takes place on January 7th. The topic for the evening is “9 to 5” so expected to be regaled with work-related antics until your sides threaten to split from laughter. More information on that event can be found here. For more information on Bar Flies head here.