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.
AJJ — "Goodbye, Oh Goodbye"
It's hard to believe that it's been more than two years since AJJ (formerly known as Andrew Jackson Jihad) released their last full-length album, Christmas Island. One of the biggest indie rock bands to ever come out of Phoenix, AJJ is bracing for the release of The Bible 2 later this summer, and to give us an idea of what that record is going to sound like, they dropped the video for the pre-release single "Goodbye, Oh Goodbye" last week. The song itself is indie pop at its finest, and features some of the slickest production I've ever heard on an AJJ record before. It's got everything — raging guitars, nervous vocals, pounding rhythms, quirky lyrics, and an infectious hook that resonates inside your head. It could well be the single that sends them over the edge of indie. The video will certainly attract some attention, as it is a straight-up parody of OK Go videos and, oddly, sponsored by the meal replacement product Soylent. While the video is a funny aside, the song itself is propelled by the histrionic vocals of Sean Bonnette, reminiscent of early Beirut crossed with Angst In My Pants-era Sparks, which is fascinating on a sonic level alone. AJJ will release their new album, The Bible 2, on Side One Dummy Records on August 19.
Jared & The Mill — "Keep Me Going"
Last year's Life We Chose EP by Jared & The Mill was one of my favorites, and late this summer they will be slipping us a new EP called Orme Dugas. "Keep Me Going" was just released as the first single for the forthcoming record, and it's a downright honky-tonk tune keeping right in line with their folk revival, rootsy take on Americana sounds. Musically speaking, it's a perfect balance of every band member's talents, with Jared Kolesar taking the spotlight, while lyrically it seems to be about being apprehensively optimistic about a new romance. It's a pretty beautiful song, and if this was what modern country music sounded like, I could imagine this being a hit from coast to coast. But on the other hand, this kind of sound is still popular with the indie kids who know good tunes, and it's with that crowd that this song will reside and thrive. It should also be noted that while Michael Carter's banjo is featured in some of their other songs, it really stands out as a treat on this number. Jared & The Mill will be releasing their new EP, Orme Dugas, on September 9.
Diners — "Fifteen On A Skateboard"
Last year, I was eagerly awaiting the release of Diners' third full-length album, unremarkably titled Three, and in the end they released a super cool five-track EP as a stop gap so that they could continue work on the album. "Fifteen On A Skateboard" appeared this week with the promise that Three would indeed see release this year. The song begins with the unmistakable sound of a skateboard before it drifts off into a dreamy, swooning pop number that is as about as easygoing on your ears as possible. This is music drawn straight out of an appreciation for 1970s radio pop, Burt Bacharach records, and a hint of Friends-era Beach Boys. It's a perfect tune for a hot summer day by the pool and an instant summer soundtrack classic when you want to slow things down a bit. The instrumentation and production are beyond anything Diners has done before, and this has to be the most chilled-out song about skating since the Wiley Ones' "Never Bored On A Board." "Fifteen On A Skateboard" is the perfect teaser that's just right to whet your appetite for the forthcoming album, and by the time the album comes out, you'll actually be able to skate again without melting your wheels. Diners will be releasing their highly anticipated album Three through Asian Man Records on September 16.
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Weslynn — "Strange Feelings"
I've been look forward to Weslynn's second EP since I got to their debut, Dark Days, a bit too late for a timely review. Last week, Weslynn dropped the new single "Strange Feelings," and it's a much smoother, more heavily produced and commercially appealing tune. This thing feels like it's ready to launch into alternative radio. It's a catchy pop song with a hint of what Maroon 5 would sound like with John Mayer as lead singer. Upon first listen, I was reminded of how recent "alternative" hits are really looking toward synth-loaded '80s hits, and Weslynn's new single is right in line with that ideal. I could totally see this becoming a monster hit on stations with the same format as ALT AZ, because this would totally complement their current playlist. I could also see Weslynn hitting the road in one of those festival packages with like-minded bands from across the country. I have a feeling that their upcoming record will be a solid hit machine in waiting. They're only one connection away from breaking out in a big way, I'd say, but this new EP has to get to the right person for that. Weslynn will be releasing their sophomore EP, Black and Champagne, on August 26 through For Emily Records.
WOLFZiE and Dadadoh — "What I Got"
I've been keeping an ear open waiting for WOLFZiE to drop something I could share, and I've been paying attention to everything Dadadoh has been up to. Well, this week the two have collaborated to release something amazing. WOLFZiE (Brandyn Jenkins) and Dadadoh (Bryan Preston) produced this song together, written by J. Alexander and mastered by Scott Mitting. There is a super low-key feel to the music and a confessional flow to the lyrics. As it is a split collaboration, there are plans for it to be featured on both WOLFZiE's forthcoming album as well as Dadadoh's soon-to-be-released RADICAL album. The song itself seems to be more in line with WOLFZiE's sonic experimentation that I've been able to find here and there after searching for some tracks to feature here, more so than Dadadoh's straight-up hip-hop sound. The key here is the grooving, ambient music providing the backdrop while the powerful lyrics are delivered like a spoken-word poem.