Mitchell Hillman listens to more local music than just about anyone in the Valley. He presents his picks for best new music in his column, Right Hear, Right Now.
There Is Danger - "Youth" There Is Danger's album Living Dreams was my favorite local album of 2013, and by the sound of the first single from the band's forthcoming EP, the new record will finish out as one of my favorites of 2015. "Youth" is a sprawling, six-minute cascading dream-pop wonderscape that really captures the essence of the band as it is now. While the first album was largely Ills Riske (Whisperlights) and a collection of some of the best talents in town, this recording seems to represent the consistent seven-piece band that it has become. This song makes me more eager than ever to hear the rest of the tracks that will be released alongside it in the spring. The entire song is filled with wonderful textures, too many instruments to name, and a strict attention to detail on every sound found within its lush territory. It's something of a slow-core pocket symphony that delivers a subtle beauty that is sure to massage your soul. While they have described themselves as lo-fi, there is no evidence of that found here -- no, this is carefully composed and beautifully recorded. The rest of their EP cannot get here soon enough. Though we may no longer have Whisperlights, I'm thankful the spirit and songwriting continue in There Is Danger.
No Volcano - "Tribute" "Tribute" is the fantastic opening track from the recently release debut album by No Volcano, Who Saved the Party? on the brand-new local nonprofit record label Onus Records. The song's perfect running length of 3:23 displays everything the band is about. The entire record is an amazing amalgamation of garage rock mixed with hints of power pop, punk, and a touch of psychedelia -- and all of it is found in "Tribute." Just listen to the dizzying, swooning guitar that will practically make you drunk if you focus on it enough, while the hook is catchy as hell and the drums and bass pound insanely behind Jim Andreas' frenetic vocal delivery. Nearly every song on the album follows a similar formula, but still "Tribute" is the signature tune to these ears, the one that will reel you in with no problem -- probably a wise idea they put it right at the start because it readies you for the rest and you just want to indulge in everything that follows. It's only February, but this is going to end up being one of the best singles of the year no matter what happens. It's a perfect construction of the sounds the band loves to hear, rethought and reinvented to match their own delivery and the resulting product is intoxicating in no uncertain terms.
Wolvves - "Atlas" So Wolvves just released one of the best albums of the year with Whatever, and in a recent interview remarked they were prepping for a second album and then immediately after their release show announced that after a few more special shows, they were disbanding. So that's confusing. Nevertheless, Wolvves has put out two great EPs and a full-length album across two years time and who the hell knows what's next. "Atlas" is the first, and possibly last, single from the album, depending on their mood, I suppose. Listening to it in light of the news that their imminent self-destruction is ahead gives this a review a bit more of a moodier tone, because honestly, I think they are or were one of the best up and coming acts in the valley. Nevertheless, "Atlas" is a perfect example that combines the elements of their guitar aggression and a definite pop sensibility that seem to combine perfectly together. I really don't know if they are breaking up or not, but this song will break your heart if they hold true to that promise.The Smoke Bombs - "In Case We Die"
The Smoke Bombs rock and for that I salute them. This is just pure aggressive rock 'n' roll in the dirtiest sense of the term. More on the garage/punk side of things than, say, metal, they just put it all out there in a wonderful neanderthalic, simplistic sense. This is not a bad thing. Rock like this is not an intellectual sport -- it's a salvo, a paean to debauchery, getting fucked up and fighting, wearing leather because you can for no good reason. It's an innate sense of violence and danger that is often lost in modern mix. Well, The Smoke Bombs have all of this in spades on "In Case We Die." There is nothing to really think about here, but you may find yourself inadvertently pumping your fist into the air, because it sure feels like an anthem for a riot. It's offensive, unruly, hell, they hit all the bases of what rock was once about -- fighting, fucking, frustration, angst channeled into a slightly artistic expression with a fantastic guitar line, a pounding rhythm section and lyrics shouted at you so hard you can feel the saliva coming out of your speakers. One day I will mosh to this song and I am sincerely looking forward to that moment with great anticipation.
Soft Deadlines - "First-World Emergency" I'm not sure how I missed out on Soft Deadlines debut EP in 2013, but I did and while there is no making up for lost time, I'm not losing any time on enjoying the hell out of their full length debut Critic, out now on 56th Street Records. The first song on any album is usually a "make or break" situation for me and in this case I was sold on their sound with "First-World Emergency". First of all, I love the angular guitars that are reminiscent of that all too rare Gang of Four sound I grew up on. It immediately screams art-rock to me -- a perfect blend of punk and new wave with just enough acidity to get your blood pumping and, I imagine in a live scenario, your ass dancing. I truly hope 2015 has Soft Deadlines playing everywhere, because if they can do live what they do on record, especially this record, this year will be a pretty phenomenal year for them and their fans alike. There sound is danceable but not overtly so. It also happens to rock in an uptight, histrionic way that hasn't been seen in this scene for a while.
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