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.
Harper and The Moths - "Lose My Touch"
Harper and The Moths have promised a lot of surprises for their fans before the end of the year and the first hint of all that is to come is their new single "Lose My Touch." The disco fueled frenzy of the song picks up exactly where the Pop. Rock. Soul. EP left off earlier this year and would have fit perfectly with the likes of "Walking Through Fire" and "Nighttime Tremors." The song itself shows a bit of growth for the band, as they bend disco to meet a sound akin to the New Romanticists of the early 1980s. Perhaps, the most exciting element of the song and the very thing that lends itself easily to the New Romantics is the horns right up front in the mix. Danny Torgersen and Chris Hoskins from Captain Squeegee punch this song up to the next level on trumpet and saxophone, respectively, while producer Bob Hoag is the man behind the kit on this round. It is probably the first song by Harper and The Moths where I am actually more fascinated by the music and, well, The Moths, more than I am by Harper. This is no discredit to the vocally agile frontman; it's a credit to his band and this incredible production number. Harper Lines' voice is in perfect form here and it's as lyrically engaging as anything in their catalog, but for once the band has at least equal footing with their lead visionary.
decker. - "The Phantom"
Over the past six years I've attended nearly every decker. show that I've been able to and some that I attended despite myself. Throughout those years, decker. has always been able to come up with at least one song on each record that is still very much on your mind after the gig ends. For the previous two years, that particular song was "Patsy." Before that it was "Blowhard" off of Slider, and so on. I told Brandon Decker the other day, I had a new song that I take home with me after a decker. show these days, and that song is their new single "The Phantom." Even at the improbable length exceeding six minutes, it's the catchiest tune on Snake River Blues. Decker himself blames this on the influence of a minor obsession with Tom Petty while working on his new record, and while you can see that as a starting point decker. takes that influence and crafts into something completely and uniquely his own. "The Phantom" is the longest track on the record and it may well be the band's finest moment. It does not sound like it's going to be a hook-heavy, ear-loving brain invader at the start, but by the time Decker sings "Do you remember, baby?" it sure as hell does and then it's too late. Your brain is just going to play that chorus over and over again, until you do it's bidding and listen again.
The Technicolors - "Space Cadet"
A couple months ago, The Technicolors came out of hiding, released a new EP and seemingly told no one about it. It wasn't until last week that I was reminded of a conversation I had with lead singer Brennan Smiley earlier this summer and went looking for it that I found Sweat (Summer Mixtape Vol. 1). Physical copies have since sold out, but you can find the title track and "Space Cadet" on YouTube. "Space Cadet" seems to meet in the middle of their Brit Pop leanings on Listener and their more minimalist synth rock of their last EP. The spare, minimalism of the music forces Smiley's voice and lyrics right to the front of your consciousness, and here he's giving his best Dylan-esque delivery I've heard to date. To be clear it comes across as Dylan-meets-Jeff-Buckley and the results are pretty brilliant. The musical backdrop is perfect for this composition and doesn't require any extra flourishes; between the synths and the guitars this tune has it covered. Still, it's the vocal hook that's catchy as hell and the inflection used on the actual words "Space Cadet" is something to swoon over in no uncertain terms. The Technicolors are in the studio now, recording their "debut" album. I'm not sure what this means other than that when The Techicolors released their last album, Smiley had disavowed their first album since it was really him solo. I can only assume now, with a new lineup and a new sound, they will not consider their second album to be their first album either. Keep your ears peeled, you never know when or how The Technicolors will drop their next single.
Diners - "Plastic Cactus"
The popular appeal of Diners, aside from the fact that every song of theirs could be a single in an alternate universe where indie pop rules the airwaves, is the genuine, childlike charm that's found in both the lyrics and the vocals of Tyler Broderick. Three is one of the highest-anticipated album releases of the year. "Plastic Cactus" was the second song Broderick has released in advance of the album, and while he plays nearly everything on the tune, Tristan Jemsek (Dogbreth) on drums and Stephen Steinbrink on vocals join him.. It has an unusual raging guitar at the start, before it dips into the more traditional summertime daydream sound Broderick has designed for Diners. Broderick has a knack with being able to pull off a sound like post-Pet Sounds Beach Boys without actually sounding like The Beach Boys. In "Plastic Cactus" there is a lyrical nod to that very group, that is so subtle you might miss it unless you read the lyrics, while the musical nods or more obvious and somewhat expected anymore. Keep an eye on their Bandcamp page, Diners will be unveiling a new song from Three each day up until the full album release next Thursday, September 15, at The Rebel Lounge with support from Nanami Ozone, Laurel Freeman, and The Expos.
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Bryant Eugene Vazquez - "S.A.D."
Bryant Eugene Vazquez has moved onto the hazy, humid, strange terrain of Philadelphia, where his musical vision seems to be serving him quite well based on sheer productivity alone. Vazquez has always been one of the most prolific artists I've ever known. and soon he will be releasing a new album entitled Grey Expectations. The entire album is an homage to the noise pop, post punk and shoegaze sound found in abundance from the mid-'80s to the mid-'90s. "S.A.D." is the first single from the album and it completely captures the essence of early Jesus & Mary Chain or the pre-Creation Records pop of My Bloody Valentine. Lyrically Vazquez is mainly imploring the listener to "Come and waste my time," and even that kind of nihilism is signature poetics from that era. It appears at this point in time that Vazquez can simply apply himself to any genre, any music construction, and master it by making it his own. It also seems he likes to play a game of "Anything you can do, I can do better," because he actually can and it doesn't matter if it's grunge, folk, Americana, hard rock, or in this case alternative noise pop. The man is something of a master painter in which each brushstroke is attached to a sound or a concept or an era, and he takes those strokes to create an entire painting that becomes his newest, best album to date. I cannot admire his attitude, aptitude and altitude vigorously enough, much less his chameleon-like career and an ear for essential audio ephemera most would never notice to include.