By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
The Oxford Coma (www.theoxfordcoma.com): If ever there was a breakout band in the making, it's The Oxford Coma. A little more than a year old, the band recently released its debut album, Adonis, and it's sure to get noticed. An amalgam of modern rock, prog, nu-metal, grunge, garage and funk punk, The Oxford Coma — guitarist/vocalist Billy Tegethoff, bassist James Williams, and drummer Casey Dillon — amazingly harnesses the best of these disparate styles into massive soundscapes that don't sound like any other band out there.
"That's kind of what we were going for," Tegethoff says.
It takes a few listens, and some deeper focus, to find the core of this band, but among the quiet/loud passages, guitar sections that chatter, chunk, skitter, sear, and thrash, atomically driven bass riffs, and drums full of nuance and determination, there are Tegethoff's vocals, which alternately push the harmonic boundaries of pure release and shift into guttural death metal screams.
Considering the strength of the album's 13 tracks as a whole, and radio-ready songs like "Last to Die," "Seven," and "Ellipsis," it's quite possible a record label or alternative rock tour will come knocking. That could mean big things for The Oxford Coma.
In the short term, the band's plans remain realistic: develop a regional following and perform as often as possible. Fans on the lookout for something hot, had best see this band while its shows remain intimate affairs, as it won't be long before Tegethoff, Williams, and Dillon's improvisational impulses and crafty songwriting carry the band ever higher — possibly out of the Valley. — Glenn BurnSilver
Body of Light (www.soundcloud.com/ascetikorps): "Putting on a record is very much a ritual for me," Alexander Jarson, the man behind the synth-pop/goth one-man-unit Body of Light explains. "You sit down, put the needle on the record . . . It's like worship, really."
If the act of listening is his liturgy, Body of Light is Jarson's communion. On single "The Leaves Just Disappeared," he evokes the spirit of prime Depeche Mode with hazy, candle-lit New Wave. Elsewhere, he taps into the vein of mythic motorik electronica, like on "Devil's Trumpet/Moonflower," which barrels down some desert autobahn like the abandoned offspring of Cluster's Zuckerzeit and Tubeway Army's Replicas.
Jarson's screams echo over the machine beat, sharing a spiritual bond with both the psychedelic '60s boogie rock and the no-wave sonic terrorism that he finds himself lowering onto the turntable. — Jason P. Woodbury
PALMS (www.palmstheband.com): If you haven't been to one of their shows, you'd think PALMS was a secret. With only two songs available on its Bandcamp page, Tempe's mellow, indie surf-rock band — which finds its home nowhere near from any natural body of water — has remained mostly quiet online, with the exception of their ever-rambunctious Facebook posts. PALMS is just another reason local music fans actually need to get out of their house to enjoy local music, well, locally.
The band might have stayed quiet during its 2012 formation, but 2013 is about to get PALMS'd all over. Their recorded catalog might be small at the moment, but the band currently is in the studio to record its upcoming album on the Valley-based 80/20 record label.
(Want a preview of the album? Head to the band's Facebook page and search for the YouTube video. Just kidding! It's a link to Eddie Murphy's "Party All the Time." Oh, PALMS!)
The band paired with producer Bob Hoag of Flying Blanket Records, a rite of passage for any up-and-coming Phoenix indie band that wants a killer, professional-sounding record on-the-local. An actual preview of the record remains to be heard, but that's all the more reason to pay attention to the PALMS in the New Year. — Christina Caldwell
I Was Told There'd Be Whiskey (www.facebook.com/iwastoldtheredbewhiskey): I Was Told There'd Be Whiskey didn't start out as a serious band, but it didn't take long for the band's mix of punk and country to clean up its act. In early 2011, Mickey Kawa (guitars, vocals), Chris Stylen (guitar), Kevin Shumway (bass), and Zach Shipp (drums) started goofing around, but when they were offered a show in April, they had to quickly write enough songs for a full set.
What they came up with works. Accented by cowbell and tambourine, knotted velveteen guitar, and throaty, whiskey-soaked vocals that blend country and punk, I Was Told There'd Be Whiskey falls in line with like-minded genre miners like Drive-By Truckers, Against Me!, Wilco, and The Gaslight Anthem.
They shine on their debut self-titled LP but do so even more in a live setting, where their ramshackle punk rock roots simmer under the rootsy arrangements. — Lauren Wise
Samuel L and the Cool J's (www.soundcloud.com/samuel-l-1): Joel Marquard already plays in one of the coolest bands in Phoenix, the much-adored Gospel Claws, but he can't seem to figure out what to do with his downtime. In 2011, he released a solo album of scratchy agnostic gospel music called The Through and Through Gospel Review. In 2012, he went another direction with his mod-R&B combo, Samuel L and the Cool J's.