Mitchell Hillman listens to more local music than just about anyone in the Valley. He presents his picks for best local music in his column, Right Hear, Right Now.
Bear Ghost — "Funkle Phil"
Bear Ghost is celebrating the New Year by releasing another single from its forthcoming debut full-length album, Blasterpiece. "Funkle Phil" has been one of my favorite songs in the band's live set for awhile. The song really shows off the group's prog-meets-indie-meets-nerd-rock. It also shows off the band's affection for Queen in less-than-subtle ways. This makes sense if you've ever seen a Bear Ghost show, which usually contains a spot-on cover of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now." Like many of their songs, "Funkle Phil" slams enough movements into one three-minute song to make your head spin. Along with the first single "Necromancin' Dancin'," "Funkle Phil" just ups the ante on the anticipation for Blasterpiece. I haven't even heard the album yet but am already wondering whether it's going to be the album of the year. If these singles and Bear Ghost's live set are any indication, it will be. They are a hell of a lot of fun and their music has a genuinely joyful vibe — and that's refreshing. Keep your eyes on this prize and be sure to catch Bear Ghost on Saturday, January 9, at The Rebel Lounge, where they will be joined by Captain Squeegee, Fairy Bones, and Harrison Fjord.
Foresteater — "High and Bright"
I have to give a shout-out to Beef Vegan of the TMI Morning Show on KWSS 93.9 FM for bringing to my attention Foresteater, the new endeavor from Michael Protocollo of La La Lust. He's recently released his stunning debut single, "High and Bright." I will be keeping my eyes peeled for more releases from Foresteater in 2016. "High and Bright" is fascinating, psychedelic-tinged indie rock with a fantastic Beatles-esque pop sheen. I'm not sure which is more captivating here, the intriguingly beautiful instrumentation (filled with hooks for miles) or the mesmerizing vocal talent of Protocollo. I'll get lost in the music, and then he'll do something gymnastic with his voice that snaps me out of it. The rich tapestry of "High and Bright" feels good for the soul. Lyrically, it seems to explore the concept of being literally high and bright. It's about more than that, but this song is just the joy of the journey and letting your mind wander. This will definitely be one act to follow this year, and I can't wait to hear what further gems are in store.
Wyves — "Puppycat"
Wyves was my favorite debut band of last year, and next month, the group is set to release its debut album, Spoils of War. The quartet kicked off the new year by releasing their first single, the amusingly titled "Puppycat." Wyves consists of vocalist Corey Gloden (Dry River Yacht Club, Strange Young Things), guitarist Nick Sterling, bassist Brenden McBride, and drummer Evan Knisely, each of whom formerly was in Sara Robinson & The Midnight Special. Together, they produce rock 'n' roll — we're talking about blues-driven, straight-up fully charged electric rock. Wyves' live show is frenetic and the debut album is a nonstop stomper. Closing track "Puppycat" is one of the finest moments on the album. Beginning with Sterling's mesmerizing keys and a massive choir, Gloden takes blue-eyed soul head on, and the result is simply stunning. It's about a twisted love interest and a relationship that is less than traditional, but it's damn near wistfully romantic. It was a great pick for the first single because it whets the appetite for more. However, you're going to have to wait until February for that sweet relief. You can catch them Friday, January 8, at the brand-new Shady Park in Tempe, where they will be joined by EL, Fu, and Sweetgrass!
The Redemptions — "Stay"
It's been nearly two years since Anthony Fama, former frontman of Doctor Bones, put together The Redemptions with "Danger" Paul Balazs (Psychedelephants, Freeze Ray Vision) on bass and a roster of drummers big enough to make Spinal Tap blush. At long last, they have solidified a lineup, featuring Konstantin Bosch (The Woodworks) on drums, as well as Spencer Ferrarin (Something Went Awry, Hostile Work Environment), and Solo Lounsbury (The Woodworks). It's something of a fantastic little supergroup. This week, they released a double A-side single from their forthcoming EP, Broken Hearts and Shattered Glass, set to be released January 28 at Crescent Ballroom. I've listened to both songs, and I suggest you do so as well. My heart and ears have loved "Stay" since the first time I saw Fama play it on stage. With a '60s vibe, it also has this crazy, retro pop hook that I haven't been able to shake. Whether it's the catchy guitar, the chill harmonies, or Fama's rockabilly lead vocals, the whole thing just comes together perfectly. Not to mention that the lyrics are just goddamn adorable in a puppy love meets introspective psychology sort of way. It's great to have Fama fronting a band once more, and I sincerely hope that the EP is the first of many releases from The Redemptions.
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Snailmate — "Jumper/Cable"
Snailmate seems to be on a rampage. Whether it is never-ending tours or prolific output, you have to adore the efforts of Kalen Lander (TKLB?) and Ariel Monet (Sister Lip) as they meld their love and music into a vision of, well, love and music. They released their debut EP, Escargot, last July and will be releasing a follow-up EP, Dine + Dash, early next month. Lander takes on a hip-hop delivery here, but doesn't ignore a serious heavy metal vibe somehow. Some truly creepy moments, like the bridge and the screaming, are unsettling at best. Once more, this twisted duo keeps you engaged through, hostility, pure silliness, and absolute rage. The first night I listened to this song (three or four times), I had dreams of Monet screaming "Jump" at odd intervals. There's something subliminally arresting to be found here. Or possibly just video game-induced nightmare material. This is definitely music for the year two thousand and something in no uncertain terms. You can see Snailmate in action at The Rogue Bar on Friday, January 8, when they will play with Ana Log, The Bittersweet Way, Artstream, and Charlie Milo from Colorado.