Mitchell Hillman listens to more local music than just about anyone else in the Valley. He shares his picks for best new music in his column, Right Hear, Right Now.
The Sink Or Swim - "Wasted Time"
I had never heard of The Sink Or Swim until I got an e-mail from them a couple weeks ago, and I am glad they reached out, because now I can't wait to catch them live. Until that occurs, they dropped a great five-track EP called Fish Out of Water, and I have to say that it's a really consistent and ultra-enjoyable debut. "The Wasted Time" is the EP opener and probably the perfect choice to introduce the group's brand of jangling, alternative rock. It's pretty radio-ready and catchy as well, but there's a depth here in sound and lyrics that goes a bit deeper than I expected from a debut. I highly recommend checking out the entire EP, as choosing just one song to spotlight was damn difficult, though "Revolving Doors" was a close second. Still, it was this song that charmed me repeatedly. The Sink Or Swim is Nate Zeune (Guitar/vocals), Lou Resnick (Drums) and Niel Erlich (Bass); together this power trio seems to be ready to go fresh out of the box. I cannot wait to hear what they do next. Rumor has it that new recordings are already in the works and they are going to far exceed the already great music found on their debut.
W.A.S.H. - "Cocaine (Featuring Lady KO)"
Oh, those bad ducks have done it again! That's right, this time Ducky and Puddles have teamed up with Lady KO for the latest EDM single from W.A.S.H. (We Are Shit Housed) with the unsubtle title "Cocaine." I gave this only one spin before I was hooked, not unlike the drug for which it's named. It's a short number, like all of their best songs have been so far, and the lyrics are really easy to remember: "You know we always down with the boys who have the cocaine!" It doesn't really leave much to the imagination, except I'm not sure if this is a serious anthem for the women out there who are actually like this or a wry commentary on that phenomenon. Either way, this is a serious party song that I fully expect to hear at clubs and EDM pool parties all summer long, and honestly, I hope they are working on a video for this song, because it has a lot of potential in that regard. This also has endless potential for remixes that far exceed the two-minute running time of the original. Keep your ears peeled for W.A.S.H. this year, because they've had a strong string of singles and remixes in the short time they've been around and this is only the start. "Rub-a-dub-dub, motherfucker" indeed!
Luau - "Arm's Length"
Luau is another band I hadn't heard of until I saw them on a bill with Citrus Clouds and The Psychedelephants. I figured keeping company with those bands they deserved to be checked out, and they just dropped a new single called "Arm's Length." They have a definite hypnotic shoegaze quality about their music, and it's a perfect match for bands like Citrus Clouds, Flower Festival, and Bear State. They call their music "emo-gaze," and that's a perfect description, but I can't really explain why that matches so perfectly. It's as gentle as a summer breeze, and I really hope Luau is bracing for an EP release this spring or summer, because this feels like dreamy, warm-weather music to me. This is perfect music for laying in the pool or on a beach with the perfect buzz going on in your head. Here's another band that I won't hesitate to go out of my way to catch live, now that I've heard "Arm's Length" and its preceding single, "Leucadia." Though the latter song is far less shoegaze-y, it still has this warmth and muscle-relaxant quality about it. Still, in the two months between these releases, it appears that Luau is becoming more comfortable with their own sound and style. This is definitely a new band to keep your ears on; I have a feeling we will get to hear a lot more from them this year.
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Rae Lydia - "The Useless Song"
Rae Lydia just dropped her debut EP of original songs, Gravitas, last month with a release party at Pedal Haus in Tempe on a sunny, Saturday afternoon. She had previously released an EP of covers last summer which showed some amazing promise, but it turns out that her own compositions are where her heart, soul, and voice reside the best. Lydia describes the EP as "a love note to anyone who has ever lost themselves, or anyone else." The entire EP feels like a tease, because it makes me just want a full album from this talented new artist. Mixed and recorded by Tim Allyn (Bad Neighbors) and featuring percussion from Adam Johnson and bass by Tracy Haddad, the entire record just relaxes something deep inside of me. The best example of this is "The Useless Song," which I think showcases the "band" and the singer's voice better than any other track. Oddly, one of the things that appeals to me, is that the song could be sung by Morrissey with ease — and I think that every time I listen to it. I missed her EP release party because I thought it was a different weekend, but Rae Lydia is on my priority list to catch live as soon as possible.
roethke - "Different Waters"
Shannon Elizabeth Harden is more well known as a visual artist, but it turns out that she's also a very talented musician as well. Many people may not be acquainted with this side of her, because honestly we're lucky if she plays three times a year. I've seen her play solo, and once or twice I've seen her play within a band as roethke. With this in mind, it seemed impossible that she would ever actually release any recordings, but on her birthday she released roethke's five-track debut EP entitled Toxoplasma Gandhi. On the record, roethke is primarily Harden doing everything with some help from Jedidiah Foster (The Bittersweet Way) on mixing, synth, and drum programming. The entire EP is an interesting ride, and I've never hear roethke this synthed up, which is why I keep coming back to "Different Waters," the charming finale of the entire affair. It's simple, acoustic, and lo-fi as hell, with a wash of background water noise and it makes me smile, because it's Harden at her most vulnerable and her sweetest. It makes the quality of her singing stand out and the metaphors found in the spare lyrics make the soul leap and the mind reel. I sincerely hope there is more to be heard from roethke, but I am overjoyed to just have this.