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.
Futuristic Ft. Small Leaks Sink Ships - "Love: A Poem"
I never thought I would hear Small Leak Sink Ships provide the musical backdrop for experimental hip-hop, but that's what they've done with Futuristic right up front on the mic. "Love: A Poem" is beautiful in damned near every way possible, whether it is the soundscape provided by SLSS or the sentimentally casual lyrics delivered by Futuristic. This is just a tune designed to warm the heart. While the music is perfect for this, it's Futuristic's rap about love and dedication to that love that makes this aces in my book. He pretty much nails how it is to be in love, truly, madly, deeply in love with someone. "You make everyday feel like Sunday, You make everyday worth living," he begins, before launching on all the details of how love, true love, makes you want to be the best person you can possibly be. He even talks about the romance of growing old together. It's even funny when he talks about how his significant other is terrible at rapping and can't dance. All the while he delivers this heart-wrenching, beautiful poem, Small Leaks cruises right through building tapestries of musical light all around his illuminating words. It's an odd, effective collaboration that totally works on every level. It's also a fantastic end-of-the-year single that warms the heart as we reflect on our lives and our loved ones during the last year. Well played.
The Breaking Pattern - "Pretty On The Outside"
The Breaking Pattern just released its third pre-release single for its debut album, and it's the best thing the band has released to date. "Pretty On the Outside" totally gets into a pop punk/emo territory, which really suits the band well. Granted, The Breaking Pattern still have the "big sound" found on previous singles "Alaska" and "The Rapture," but this just has a hook from hell and a fantastic pace that keeps you going from beginning to end. Lyrically speaking, it also gets to the emo core of things. Then again, with a title like "Pretty On the Outside," what would you expect? It gets caught up in a love burning bright with a destructive flame at the very least. "I bite my tongue, as you bite my lip, my hands are tied when you tie me up like this," Derek Hackman sings at the start, and it goes from there to describe the volatile situation of a heated and hurting relationship. With the three singles they've released so far, their debut album should be a highlight of 2016. You can catch The Breaking Pattern this Saturday at Pub Rock, where they will be joined by Sundressed, Holy Fawn and Never Let This Go for a Toys For Tots fundraiser.
Holy Fawn - "Amulet"
Holy Fawn has risen from the ashes of Owl & Penny, and the group has wasted no time on getting things moving in the right direction. "Amulet" is the second single from its debut six-track EP, Realms, set to be released this Friday. Like most of their recorded work thus far, it is a deeply hypnotic, layered affair filled with Earthen beauty and synth-soaked light, all highlighted by the delicate vocals of Ryan Osterman. The song also seems to bend time in that it is over five and half minutes long but sure doesn't seem that way. It could be readily mixed into a trip-hop song with the right beats if they ever desired to do so with it. "Amulet" is a soothing number and deceivingly so. I finally caught up to Holy Fawn the other week for a show, and I was absolutely blown away by what their songs become when performed on stage. It's almost an entirely different beast that brings a maelstrom of shoegazing noise to their sound that is only hinted at here. It's almost as if the songs on the new EP are only the groundwork, the skeletal architecture for what happens when they play them live.
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Ghostwalk - "The Funeral Fire"
Until this week, I had never heard of Ghostwalk before, and I certainly hadn't heard their debut album, Archive, but now I've listened to it two or three times, and I'm totally digging their brand of dark wave dream pop. Ghostwalk is Mindee Bahr (vocals/keys), Lauren Jones (cello), Matt Nisbet (guitar/programming), Dave Bernier (guitar), Allan Foster (bass) and Dylan Troxel (drums/programming). Together they create a dense, atmospheric rock that is heavy on the synths and heavy in general, without veering into a wayward metal or industrial path. One of the things that makes their sound so rooted in a dream pop sensibility is Bahr's breathy, sensual vocals that wash across the heavy drums, the dark synths, and hurricane-like guitar. They carve out their own identity across the entire album, but I keep coming back to "The Funeral Fire" as my favorite track early on and it doesn't even appear to have been a single yet. The lyrics are wrapped in mystical poetry that could really be about anything, but I love the phrase "Burning through wasted youth." Ghostwalk has a lot of crossover potential as I can see them riding the line between a more traditional alternative crowd and an audience into heavier, darker sounds. It's an engaging and interesting mix to say the very least and the entire album lends itself easily to many repeated listens.
Vintage Wednesday - "Pretend Awhile"
I couldn't let the year go by without giving a shout-out to my favorite underage band in the valley, Vintage Wednesday. I actually just discovered they had a video the other day, and though it's a couple of months old, it's still worth your time. These kids are talented and young — I mean really young — but they've totally got it together with vocals by 17-year-old Taylor Sackson, guitars from Alex Dorsten, 16, and Andrew Hahnke who just turned 18, bass by 16-year-old Savanah Pope and drums by 15-year-old Josh Jones. Youth aside, I caught them live recently and I was stunned by just how great their originals were and just as I mentally noted that Sackson sounded like Stevie Nicks, they pulled out a Fleetwood Mac cover. Still, it was their original songs during their show that really showcased their talent. "Pretend Awhile" is the lead-off track from their debut album, Simple Things, released earlier this year. They have a pretty awesome classic rock sound about them, except that they are writing all original rock songs with their own inherent talents. Sackson's vocals simply blow me away every time I hear them, I hope she has her eyes on a long career in music ahead of her. Rumors have it that they are already work on an album for next year. I'm pretty sure the sky is the limit with these talented kids.