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.
Injury Reserve — "Oh, Shit!!!"
My only regret when compiling last year's list of best local albums was that I accidentally overlooked Injury Reserve's magnificent album Live From The Dentist Office, and it should have been toward the top. Injury Reserve has hinted to fans that the release for its second album, Floss, is finally here, and they dropped the first single for it this week. "Oh, Shit!!!" is one hell of a way to kick off the promotion of the new album, and if this song is any indication, Floss will be every bit as great of an album this year as LFTDO was last year. The slightly creepy piano that begins the song and provides the eerie backdrop to the entire song keeps you on edge, if only in the back of your mind. Still, the raps here are some of the finest coming out of Phoenix and this song is catchy as all hell. It's funny, insightful, actually fun, and just a party monster waiting to happen. Even the woozy autotune ending seems more like an intoxicating creative stroke rather than anything to the song's detriment. The video also happens to be pretty brilliant. First things first, the credit design at the beginning is amazing for a quick turnaround on the pop cultural reference to Stranger Things, which was only released two weeks ago. That aside, each portion of the video serves to accentuate the mood and feeling of the particular passage it represents. It's seems simplistic at first, but becomes a little more complex with additional viewings. Be sure to catch Injury Reserve this Friday at The Rebel Lounge with Slow Hollows, Draa, and Wild Wing.
PRO TEENS — "Decoy"
One of the most unexpected local music surprises of 2016 is that PRO TEENS would follow up their 2015 debut so quickly and release a new album this summer. This Friday, New York City-based label Broken Circles will release their second full-length record, Accidentally. "Decoy" is the second preview track from the album, and it's a haunting, chamber pop number. I don't even know if anyone in the band has ever heard Echo & The Bunnymen, but this tune would be right at home on that classic alternative band's early albums. I never pegged lead singer Andrew Phipps as the Ian McCulloch type, but he does like to croon lately. The frenetic, crashing refrain is stunning every damn time. The space-age lounge outro on the song is a perfect come down from the preceding aural thrill ride. This combined with the previous single, "Goodnight Moon'd," sets lofty expectations for Accidentally. PRO TEENS will release the album next Wednesday, August 3, at Crescent Ballroom, where they will be joined by Treasure Mammal, dent, and Lai.
El West — "Thin Air"
Every now and then, you see a band getting on some bills with other artists you like, and you keep it in the back of your mind. Then you see they just dropped a new single, and that this isn't their first, and that maybe you should have paid a bit more attention. So you finally listen to the new single, and it simply blows you away immediately. So is the case with El West and their new song "Thin Air." I don't usually get goosebumps when I listen to a song on headphones for the first time, but such was the case for "Thin Air." I'm not sure if it was the chiming guitars, the thunderous rhythm section, or the stunning voice of Bryant Powell; I'm guessing it was the unexpected combination of all three. It's like nothing going on in Phoenix these days — straightforward, melodic, alternative rock. When I try to decide what element I like the best, I can't decide between Powell's voice, Thomas Brenneman's frenetic guitar, Rickey Powell's powerful bass groove, or Marty Welker's rapid-fire drumming. I'm definitely looking forward to their debut EP release at Valley Bar on August 11, just to hear the thing and how they pull this magic off live.
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Weird Radicals — "Medea"
Weird Radicals have just released another double-sided digital single, just two months after their debut release. Early on, they are clearly defining their sound, and it's a pretty fascinating blend of power pop and '60s rock. The A-side of their new single, "Medea," is where all the action is on this release, not that the B-side isn't worth your time. "Medea" is, however, the best song they've released so far, and accomplishes in three minutes what some bands can't accomplish across an entire album. Weird Radicals on record is Andrew Cameron Cline (vocals, guitars, bass, drums) and Nick Florence (guitars, engineering, production), and this duo is bringing some vital, insistent indie pop to the Valley one single at a time. On "Medea," there's a blend of Fountains of Wayne pop sensibility, early Cheap Trick guitars, and Beach Boys-inspired harmonies. It's a sunny anthem for summer about finding redemption and salvation in the heart of your true love. It's a beautiful ode to Cline's wife and the mother of their son, Julian (also the title of their previous single). The garage grit of the song encapsulates the hook-heavy pop sheen to create a subtle balancing act in mesmerizing sound. I must warn you though, after a couple listens it will be damned difficult to get "ah-oom bop-diddy, medea bop-diddy" out of your head.
The Monk Destroys The Monastery — "Duct Tape"
This was a random, but topically relevant find this week. Friends were at a gig at Chopper John's and I wondered what was happening there. It turns out that The Monk Destroys The Monastery was what was happening, which led me to their social media and discovering this gem. Despite its topical nature and the wry commentary therein, it happens to be a pretty fantastic song. It's a great leftist anthem as it is and a hilarious lyric video to match. It's also hook-heavy and not overly self-indulgent. At the same time, the lead singer sounds at once like Beck and at the next moment like the lead singer of Ministry. It may well be two different dudes. Nevertheless, just listening to the song without the context of the video or even the lyrics, it's a great mix of industrial rock and indie pop, and that's a bit of a genre-bending achievement.