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.
Sunset Voodoo – "Sweet Release"
Last year, I was pretty enamored with Sunset Voodoo's sophomore EP, Strange Things, and it seems they are already starting to cook up something even greater for 2016. This week, they've released what is arguably their best song to date in the form of "Sweet Release." I just fell in love with this tune immediately, perhaps because it was not what I was expecting. This is straight-up alt rock, and it's one of my favorite singles of the year so far. It's not as heavy as some of the other songs I've loved by them, but this one has an almost pop feel to it that makes it wonderfully infectious and more than a bit addictive. I found myself singing it walking down Mill Avenue the day after I heard it and couldn't figure out what it was for a moment. It's definitely their most professional song they've released, instantly radio ready. I don't know what Sunset Voodoo has planned next, but this song has me eagerly anticipating their next move. Be sure to check out the video for "Sweet Release" when they release it March 17. I wanted to wait until then to write about it, but the song was just too good not to share immediately. If you are itching to catch them live after hearing this song, be sure to catch their performance March 19 at the Pot of Gold Music Festival.
Huckleberry – "Wild Ricky"
Seemingly out of the blue, Huckleberry released a new four-track EP last week called Shasta City, Bad News Ricky. This is quick on the heels of their latest album, Problems, released last September, and it pretty much picks up where that left off. After a few spins, "Wild Ricky" is my immediate favorite because while it stays true to their signature Americana rock sound, there's a heavy emphasis on the "rock" part of that. The entire EP is great from beginning to end, but this song is the finale, and it really sticks to the ears. The guitar work found here is some of the most aggressive they ever put to record, and the vocals match in a likeminded way. There's still some lap steel action here, but it's not as up front in the mix as it has been on past efforts. The EP, and especially this song, are much more representative of the sound found in their recent live shows. If this isn't the best song they've committed to record so far, it's definitely the most balanced from a genre perspective, with even a hint of psychedelic guitar that's refreshing to hear in the realm of Huckleberry's continuous growth. You can catch Huckleberry this Sunday at McDowell Mountain Music Festival on the Second Stage, where they will certainly play "Wild Ricky."
Scattered Melodies – "Community"
Modern Repair by Scattered Melodies was one of the best local albums of last year, and I couldn't imagine any other song serving as a better choice for their first video from it than "Community." Scattered Melodies is essentially a local music community project with Josh Montag and Jake Johnston hosting different musicians on every track to create songs about positive change and well, modern repair. On "Community" we essentially have the band Ruca, and to be fair, this song would have fit on Ruca's new album as well as it did on Scattered Melodies. With a heavy dose of reggae inflection on the guitar and Ruca's Earth Goddess vocals, it's a song that goes down easy with a lesson in the lyrics as well. They have just released a beautiful video for this song, which was shot around Tempe, and filmed and directed by Montag. The video features actual acts of community awareness, as well as principals, teachers, volunteers, and footage of food drives, donations, and much more. The video conveys the message of the song beautifully. It's one of the best songs from the album and an obvious single; the video only underlines the entire spirit of Scattered Melodies as nearly everything they do is about serving their community, whether it's their annual clothing drive or involving as many other musicians in their musical adventure as they can.
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Treasurefruit – "The Prey"
I've been holding on to this song for a while, and I'm tired of keeping it in my back pocket. "The Prey" is the opening track to Treasurefruit's debut album from late last year, Poisonous Dwellers of the Desert. Time got away from me in mentioning how great and infectious this song is, and I figured it was better late than never. Before this song was ever released on their album, this was always a live favorite and very often the perfect set closer. On this recording Treasurefruit is Anamieke Quinn (vocals/guitar), Matt Ventre (guitar), Ehren Stonner (drums), and Brenden McBride (bass). Of all of the songs from their debut, it's this one that will stick with you for, well, in this case months. It's catchy and seductive, and Quinn's vocals have never sounded better. The entire band is in top form here and keep in mind it's only the beginning of a fantastic album. There is a great guitar groove throughout the entire song, and in a rare instance, a guitar solo that I adore — it's not overplayed and it doesn't get out of hand. Still, as with the rest of the album, it's Quinn's stunning voice that is the shining star here. Treasurefruit will be playing at the Scottsdale Arts Festival this Sunday afternoon at the Fountain Stage, and they will certainly be playing this gem.
The Apaches – "Space Chase"
I first heard "Space Chase" when The Apaches played a gig at The Rebel Lounge on New Year's Day this year with Paper Foxes and Phantom Party. They were trying out new songs, and this was the one that caught my ear and blew me away that night, so much so that I had to ask the band about it. If you aren't aware, The Apaches do nothing instrumental surf rock in the spirit of actual instrumental surf rock, like The Ventures, Link Wray, Dick Dale, and The Shadows. Occasionally, they even throw some covers into their set to confuse their fans, because their sound is so throwback and anachronistic at the very least that it's difficult to tell the difference. Of anything I've heard them do, "Space Chase" is my favorite so far, because I'm a total sucker for surf rock of any kind, and this sounds like it could have been pulled straight off an album by any of the aforementioned bands circa 1960. They've even made a very amusing video for the whole affair, which is nearly as fun in a public-domain sort of way as the song itself. What's more is that the music matches perfectly. That same lineup from New Year's Day will be playing this Saturday, March 12, at The Lost Leaf, along with James Brown Band Band to release The Apaches' debut album Musica Surfica Vol. I and II.