Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 4 a.m.
Mitchell Hillman listens to more local music than just about anyone in the Valley. He presents his picks for best new local music in his column, Right Hear, Right Now.
Holy Fawn — "Reykur (Live)"
To be clear, I'm not one to usually share or review a live video for a song, but in this instance, I thought it was necessary. Holy Fawn is the exception to the rule this time, because the group sounds so exceptionally different live from what you hear on their records. They have just signed to Whelmed Records, and to celebrate that milestone, they just released a live video of "Reykur." This video shows perfectly how different their live presence is from the studio single, and it's not just the addition of sparkling lights or visual atmospherics. Holy Fawn's songs take on an entirely different character live; they become enormous in sound. The hurricane guitars are even more apparent. Ryan Osterman's angelic vocals show an even more startling contrast. I would love to see the band put out a live album or alternately, let loose completely the next time they lay some tracks down. If you've listened to the records and didn't necessarily understand what the fuss was about, just sit back and watch this video with the volume cranked to 11. If you want to catch Holy Fawn in action this week, you may want to check out a house show in Tempe this Friday in the vicinity of Pebble Beach Drive. It may seem like a strange venue for a band that is quickly garnering a large following, but the house parties these bands are throwing these days are better than a lot of the club gigs happening when it comes to music that's relevant.
Photo by Mario Miguel
Red Tank! — "Anthropocene"
Red Tank! released Bio/Feedback earlier this year, and it still stands as one of the finest local albums available. This week they have released the video for "Anthropocene," and the video is very nearly as ambitious as the album itself. The song itself is one of my favorite on the album and in their live set as well. Keep in mind that the song is subtitled "Revelations" on the record; that gives a hint for the semi-apocalyptic tone of the video, as we seem to be shuttling ourselves right out of this geological age. Per the band's own description, "The video is a melding of organic and technological, the real and the absurd, and rebuilding after the fall of civilization." I occurred to me after watching the video that an apt description for the vital punk rock Red Tank! makes would be apocalypse rock, because they create that nervous, end-of-the-world kind of tension throughout both of their albums. Also, it must be said that the one-minute sonic intro filled with feedback and oscillating tones is a brilliant prologue to the explosive start of the song. Finally, there aren't too many punk anthems that can deliver this much sonic vitriol while remaining undeniably catchy with a clever, hook-heavy chorus that will echo with you for days.
Photo by Daniel Iannaccone
El West — "Olivine"
El West is in the process of re-releasing their debut EP, and the first official taste of that action is the video for "Olivine." The video is beautifully directed by Jack Chapman of Red Knight Media as it oscillates between interior warehouse shots and occasional exterior dreamscapes, with much of the action focused on lead singer Bryant Powell. Rightfully so, I suppose, since that voice of his is as unwieldy as it is unusual, and it's what leads the powerful percussion and the chiming guitars. It's one of the slower songs on their debut, but it's the track that has the most soul to it. There's a depth in the production and the texture of sound that makes my mind reel every time I hear it. It becomes hypnotic toward the middle, when you're not sure if you're succumbing more to the dreamy lilt in Powell's voice or the guitars massaging your soul. It must be said that it's an interesting way to re-launch the record, but definitely an engaging one, and I suppose it makes sense to start off with a slow burner that showcases the breadth of the band's vision before letting loose on the pop hits. Oh, and if you've been in the scene for any reasonable length, you might be wracking your brain over why Powell's voice sounds so familiar or why he looks like someone you've met, it's because before El West, he was the front man for a band called Prague. You can catch El West tonight, Thursday, October 20, at The Rebel Lounge with Foresteater, Waefare, and Thoughts Like Rockets.
Divided Minds — "Fine With It"
Pop-punk teen scenesters Divided Minds released their five-track Perception EP last spring and dropped their video for "Fine With It." There must be something strange in the air when all the punk bands are dripping apocalypse-themed video concepts. In this case, it's alien destruction of the world, and the minute-long intro to the video is not only amusing but pretty well done. The only unbelievable thing is that anyone would refuse tacos in the face of alien invasion. From there it becomes fairly standard video fare, which I'm presuming was shot on the bay side of Coronado Island in San Diego, but be sure to stick around for the end. You probably won't have any problem doing that: Since the song is so freaking infectious, you'll want to play it again. Clearly, these kids are super-young and super-talented for their years, at least in regards to writing reflective lyrics and catchy-as-hell hooks. It will be interesting to see or rather hear as Divided Minds grow into their own, both literally and figuratively, because at this point they could extend deeper into punk or they could just as easily go toward the pop hit machine. There is great potential for either direction here, they could maintain their current radio ready-blend and I'd be happy with that for years to come.
W.A.S.H. — "Choppers (featuring Season)"
Those wacky ducks are at it again, and Season, is too. For well over a year now, Ducky and Puddles have brought some of the most deviant-minded dance music to the scene, and they've been trying to get everyone they know involved. You may remember Season from her part in "Paint Can," the first actual video from W.A.S.H.; here, it's her sole showcase. She's totally perfect for delivering this flow for a song that seems to be about dope, guns, and fucking in the streets. This is the territory W.A.S.H. loves to explore, and "Choppers" is another instant club hit in under three minutes. By now they must have an entire album; I can name at least a dozen songs of theirs either that I found online or have heard in their set. It's rather maddening. The video is the typical hilarious romp of the bad ducks when they are not serving as Season's back up dancers. What really shines in this song though, is the music that's explored on this particular track and a pop groove reminiscent of the Avalanches. This may in fact be my favorite W.A.S.H. song thus far, musically speaking. If I knew anything about how to make a remix I would turn this deviant anthem into 16 minutes of sonic ass shaking hypnotic bliss, I'm throwing that out there for free. I truly hope an album is coming soon.