Thursday, November 17, 2016 at 4 a.m.
The Gentle Hits
Photo by Matt Vogel
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.
The Gentle Hits — "All That Information"
The Gentle Hits could also be called the second coming of Ian Metzger, since the tracks from their forthcoming album certainly feel that way. Metzger and drummer Mark Kulvinskas are both from the legendary Dear and the Headlights, joined by James Mulhern (What Laura Says) and Wayne Jones (Twin Ponies) to form the Gentle Hits. Their self-titled debut will be released tomorrow, November 18, on Porch Party Records. Of all the songs I've heard so far from the album, "All That Information" is my favorite. For one thing, this is a rocker, and I almost always love the rockers in anyone's catalog — but this has the drive and the vibe that I remember really got me going at the height of a Dear and the Headlights live show. It's straight-up rock, no indie or alt modifier needed. It's a great song that feels like a classic tune to come out of the Arizona scene and right in line with some of Phoenix's best acts brand of Sonoran-singed electrified blues. It must be said that if you've been in tune with local music for the last decade, there is a strange, wonderful comfort in hearing Metzger's voice coming across the stereo once more. It's not something that can necessarily be placed, other than that it's great to have Metzger back. And with the Gentle Hits making that possible, it feels like he never really left at all.
People Who Could Fly
Photo by Brittney Christie
People Who Could Fly — "Taking Me Over"
There is a growing movement of radio-ready pop that seems to be happening all over town for the first time in a long time. People Who Could Fly are clearly a part of this burgeoning faction in our music scene, and they may well be one of the finest in that department. People Who Could Fly are Fletcher Milloy, James Mills, Jacob Paige, Josh Paige, and Levi Siwek. Together, they are making unabashedly radio-friendly tunes that needn't declare themselves as alternative or even rock. Does their music rock? Here and there, certainly, but this is a sound that concentrates on hooky melodies, a lovely smooth vocal, a fantastic rhythm section, and a lot of pure-pop aesthetics. I wanted to catch People Who Could Fly live before writing about their records, but when the hook from this song got caught in my mind late at night recently and it took me an hour to figure out, I thought it was worth bringing up. The song isn't breaking any barriers, but that doesn't make it less appealing on the ears.
Photo by Jim Fury Hesterman
Colten Hood — "Circles"
Speaking of a growing pop movement and the movers and shakers in that scene, Colten Hood has been on my radar most of the year. "Circles" is the first and only single to emerge from his forthcoming record, The Reel EP. I've only ever seen Hood deliver solo guitar performances before getting a hold of this tune, and I was completely caught off-guard because of how densely produced and lush his music had become on record. It's another radio-ready song out of our scene that doesn't need to worry about tags like alternative or indie or rock. Hood has one of the finest voices in the realm of local pop, illustrated when he casually records a stunning YouTube cover and nails it. Clearly, the kid has talent, and with "Circles," he proves he has some damn fine songwriting chops. This will go well with anyone that digs the very now pop of bands like Bastille that mix the right amount of guitar and synths with a beautifully flawless voice. This is also very much a dance number with infinite remix potential. Check Colten Hood out while you can. He's got the drive, talent, and looks to go as far as he wants. For right now, he'll have you spinning and spinning in circles.
The Darling Sounds — "2 Haunt 4 U"
I've been keeping an alert ear on the Darling Sounds much of the year, but somehow missed the preview singles for their recently released album, Haunt. After a few spins, I kept coming back to the song from which the album title was derived, "2 Haunt 4 U," because it gets into a sonic space that offers up the quintessence of the Darling Sounds in just over three minutes. Before I ever heard them, the band's name suggested that it should sound like a fantastic indie pop twee band. It turns out that they are exactly that. If this band had arrived 40 years ago, it would have been the rage all throughout the British Isles, joining the likes of the Primitives and the name-compatible Darling Buds. This song just gets me with its loose, easy- on-the-soul, soft sonics — there is an immediate intimacy and innocent dreaminess to the whole album, which I suppose is where the affectionate "twee" reference comes from. The entire album is a stunner, but "2 Haunt 4 U" is as great a place to start as any. I'm not sure when they are playing next, but I would highly recommend that you catch them doing this live for total enjoyment. If you want a sound that will make you feel at home in your own head, I'd recommend giving the Darling Sounds a spin immediately.
Whither Is God
Photo by Jorge of Sunshower
Whither Is God — "Locust"
Whither Is God is one of the more hyperbolic band names I've come across in a long while, but I've been keeping an ear on them. When the group recently released a new single, I was pretty excited. If one thing is for sure, it's that Whither Is God spent their formative years poring over records by indie rock's first wave, pop-punk's second or third wave, and possibly the entire Sonic Youth catalog. "Locust" just dropped as a song from their forthcoming release, Canned Goods For Cannibals. Whither Is God is Thomas Acres, Zachary Simmermon, and Jason Milham, and they have been making quite a noise around town lately, most often recommended by other musicians, which is usually an indicator of pretty great music. "Locust" may take more than a minute to take off, but once it gets going, it's a pretty great ride and evokes memories of hearing bands like Pavement, Sebadoh, and Archers of Loaf for the first time. I guess "indie rock" has gotten to that "classic age" where younger bands start citing the early greats as inspiration. If that's your wheelhouse, I can't recommend this band or this song enough. Also, there is this guitar hook that's a bit hidden in the mix that will burrow right into your brain for a few days, so have fun with that.