Welcome to the latest installment of our weekly feature, Sound Off, where Jason P. Woodbury is joined by a different guest each week to listen to and discuss three tracks from local Phoenix artists. If you would like your songs to be considered for future Sound Off columns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week's guest is Lindsay Cates, who you've no doubt spotted behind the counter at Stinkweeds Records, and behind the bass at local clubs around town. We met on a busy afternoon at the record store, spinning three tracks from rapper Span Phly, Labor Party, and Otro Mundo, and discussed our thoughts on each song.
Cates will be performing with Fatigo on Saturday, October 1, at the Lost Leaf.
Phoenix-based rapper Span PHLY recently released a new album, Nothing Last Forever. For more information, visit his official site.
Lindsay Cates: I really liked it. I would totally listen to it. It caught me off guard when the samples changed, because they were drastically different, but it worked.
Up on the Sun: Are you much of a hip-hop person?
The more I dig into local hip-hop, the more I'm amazed by how much hip-hop is in Phoenix, and how much of it is great. The samples are very different, the rhythm of the song is funky. I thought that the lyrics were funny.
They were funny, and definitely tolerable. Lyrics, for me -- the lyrics make or break hip-hop. The samples just repeat the same beats over and over again, so it's up to the lyrics for me. I could dig what he was talking about.
I liked that he rapped about swallowing his pride because he needed to eat. That's a great image. Are you the same way about lyrics with pop and rock music: Are lyrics important to you all the way around?
Yeah. Every genre. I listen to a lot of instrumental music because of that. [laughs]
Because you generally don't like a lot of lyrics?
No, but cheesy lyrics can ruin a really great song. Depending on my mood, I would rather listen to instrumental music.
I guess it all depends. If a song is really good, I can easily overlook band lyrics. If there's a great melody.
Does he play out?
I would be interested in hearing more of his stuff.
Labor Party are a punk 'n' roll band from Phoenix. The band's latest album, Live 6, is available from the band.
So you mentioned that these guys would be a good band to see live. That's basically what this is. What did you think of that?
I think it's a great song. That recording totally captures their live energy. It's fun and it's catchy. The live recording is really good. They are awesome.
Live recordings are really tough to pull off. There are very few live albums that I like. I like Kiss Alive. But that's not really a live album, that's supposed to be pretty doctored up. But this is cool. No frills, straight-ahead.
Some of the guitar-work reminded me of Green Lady Killers. Which I like a lot.
Another local act. I like when bands aren't self-conscious. Recorded live, at Jugheads, with the band in its element.
I would be curious about the rest of that CD.
Phoenix-based rock band Otro Mundo recently released a cassette tape called Jellied, which you can download at the band's blog. The band is scheduled to perform with Lantern on Thursday, October 13, at Yellow Canary Dance Hall. That was cool! Was that recorded live or was that what they were going for?
That's what they were going for, a pretty dirty, everything mixed in-the-red sound. Which is a cool thing.
There's definitely some Ty Segall melodies, and [some elements of] Thee Oh Sees, which I really like.
Those are two of my favorite records this year, Goodbye Bread and Castlemania. I get kind of a weird art-damaged Weezer vibe from these guys.
Yeah, there's definitely a '90s thing . . . a little Built to Spill going on. I think my favorite part was when they did the guitar breakdown, started soloing, and got really noisy.
There's definitely a pop element. This is the one song I have to confess listening to before this, and I've listened to it a lot. I really like this tape of theirs, and this song especially. It has a really great pop feel. It's easier to be really poppy, or really noisy, but to do both at the same time is kind of an achievement. That's why a band like Nirvana did so well, because they were super poppy, but did it in a rock 'n' roll way. Maybe I'm just thinking of Nirvana because of how much Nirvana stuff I've read lately.
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Do people seem to be into their live shows?
I've seen them twice. When I saw them with Dirty Beaches, I don't know what it was about that night, but I couldn't really tell what was going on, it was noise. Cool, loud, powerful noise, but I didn't hear the songs. When I saw them with Weekend last week, it was like a whole different thing. I really got a sense of them as a four piece rock band, with great melodies, and people were way into it.
I would love to see them live. It's always interesting to see bands pull that off live, with effects, and noise, and good stage presence.
And they totally do. Big amps and pedals and they go for it.