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.
Alien Atmosphere — "Believe"
I was first introduced to Alien Atmosphere earlier this summer when they opened for Jane N' The Jungle, who make it a habit of adding lesser-known bands that they like to their lineups, and every single time it's a great pick. I got to that show extra early to catch Alien Atmosphere, and I was thankful I did. Alien Atmosphere are identical twin brothers, Nick and Matt Kwilosz; Nick sings and plays guitar, Matt plays drums. They work in extra synthesis and atmospherics with the assistance of their laptop. The twins also happen to be the grandsons of Lloyd Conger, a Arizona blues and country singer-songwriter whose album Beer Bar Blues was released by Fervor Records in 2013. "Believe" is the latest single from Alien Atmosphere, and along with the videos for "Sail Away" and "Hearbreak Sundae," it paints the picture of a high-energy forthcoming record. As good as they sound on record, they sound even better live with the guitar and drums way up front above all else. It's pretty amazing to watch and listen to for the entire set. Yes, they are actually identical twins; it's simply that when not playing drums, Matt is also a professional body builder. You can catch Alien Atmosphere next Wednesday, August 17, at Rebel Lounge, where they will be joined by Jane N' The Jungle, New Chums, IAMWE, and Civil Youth.
Ex-Supermodels — "My Lovely Needs"
A couple of weeks ago, at the same show I didn't go to where I discovered The Monk Destroys The Monastery, Ex-Supermodels were also playing, and I didn't get to see them as well. I did, however, track down their Soundcloud, and found some pretty great recent tunes that they posted there. What immediately caught my attention, other than that the band is damned dapper from their pic, is that they have captured a sound unlike anything else being done in Phoenix right now. It's very 1989 in flavor on the Brit side of alternative music from that time. It appears that these gentlemen have spent a fair amount of time mesmerized by the likes of The Cure's Disintegration, Echo & The Bunnymen's self-titled album, and some of the more fascinating vocalists of the early alternative era. The vocals actually remind me of Craig Wedren from the earliest records by American proto-indie rockers Shudder To Think, from that same era. It's a fascinating song, and some of the authentic sound bits used leave at least this listener a bit nostalgic for times when the music was a little more depressing and reflective while the world was just as fucked up as it is today. This track alone shows great promise of what I hope is a lot more to come from Ex-Supermodels.
Gimpheart — "Tripped In A Dream"
Every now and then, someone just throws me a record and says, "Tell me what you think about this." And often I do, in a hushed discussion later; sometimes though, someone like Gimpheart does that and it turns out that The Gimpheart Tapes, Vol. 1 is pretty damned charming. There's a bit of a laissez-faire approach to that kind of listening. I thought I'd check out the first track, and ended up listening to the whole damn thing out of utter fascination. At first, the super lo-fi recording is a bit off-putting, but after multiple listens, it actually seems recording it directly to tape adds a bit of charm to it as well as unusual effects that only tape could provide. "Tripped In A Dream" is as good a place to start as any, and you may just want to stick around to see how the rest of the record takes shape. It's also one of the songs where the sound of the tape actually takes on a sound of its own and becomes a little more than trippy and disorienting as it phases in and out from the original speed. One thing becomes clear: Gimpheart is at the core a pretty great songwriter, and the whole EP testifies to that, but it's genuinely enjoyable music for a sunny day when you want to play and maybe take some recreational drugs to enhance the afternoon. The good news is that this only the first of five volumes for The Gimpheart Tapes, and I have a feeling it's only get weirder and even better.
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Analog Sun — "Race Electro"
The key to really cultivating the right kind of sound for retrofitted instrumental synth music that evokes the experimentalism of the '70s and the '80s is to have the actual equipment that bands like Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode began their careers with. This means analog synths, the kind Kraftwerk favored early on. There is no substitution for the sound. Analog Sun has discovered this and taken it to heart. The band is Erick Hirsch (The Apaches), who when he's not composing instrumental surf songs apparently spends his free time writing through composed instrumental analog synth songs. To be honest, I expected to be bored to tears halfway through an entire album like this, but I was riveted through the entire thing. It's like a soundtrack from the past for a future that never happened. "Race Electro" is the first track, and it does a great job of bringing you up and into the mindset required to enjoy the rest, so I thought it best to spotlight it as an introduction to Analog Sun. It's a charming, anachronistic album that will make you feel like you are living inside of a video game after a while, and it's pretty great to play in the background at any time. This would also be wonderful for the lysergically inclined.
Twelve Birds — "Back Inside"
Someone messaged me recently "You've got to hear Twelve Birds. You're going to love Twelve Birds. Trust me." I trusted them, they were right. I've never seen them, though apparently this is all the work of Sean McCauley, and I've never heard mention of him before. I had no idea what to expect, but I was immediately in love with "Back Inside" at about the 30-second mark. This is just fantastic retrofitted guitar pop that sound-wise could be from nearly any era starting at about 1966 onward. There is a slightly psychedelic quality to this track not necessarily present on the other tracks on the group's debut EP, Slave of Love, which is dedicated sweetly to McCauley's wife. I'm not sure if McCauley even plays shows or does any semblance of this set on stage, but I'm pretty amped about catching this cat in action.