Mitchell Hillman listens to more local music than just about anyone in the Valley. He presents his picks for best new songs in his column, Right Hear, Right Now.
The Maine - "Steal My Sunshine"
The Maine are still riding high on the vibe of their celebrated album American Candy released last March and leaving no time to rest on their laurels have recently released a three-song EP called Covers (Side A), which features their take on tunes by New Radicals, Len and Backstreet Boys. I'm guessing they are paying homage to the pop tunes of their youth. Last week they released the first video from this project of Len's 1999 hit "Steal My Sunshine." The song itself doesn't really take much liberty with the original except that they've turned it into much more of rock song on this rendition rather than sticking to a completely danceable indie pop tune. On this cover they are joined by Derek Sanders of Tallahassee's Mayday Parade, who will be supporting The Maine on their upcoming 2016 tour. One of the more fascinating aspects of the song is that The Maine emphasizes the verses far more than the chorus in their version and it's just as catchy, just updated. Then there is the video, which is one of the more wonderfully bizarre vids I've seen in a while. Granted it's a bit of a metaphor for the title, but delivered in what is possibly the most creepy way possible. It is clear that this little stopgap project is done out of just pure fun and the video definitely emphasizes that. Now what on Earth will they choose for covers on the inevitable Side B?
Black Bottom Lighters - "Pipe Dream"
Black Bottom Lighters just released their first full length album 2 Or 2000 last April, but apparently they are riding high on a creative wave and are set to release their Pipe Dream EP in February of next year. That's pretty great news, especially considering that it was three years between their first EP and 2 or 2000. "Pipe Dream" is the first single to be released from the new EP and it's accompanied by a cool artsy video directed by Cory Davis. BBL lay down their signature reggae rock song that has garnered them tens of thousands of fans on the new single, with a hint of a jazzy groove courtesy to the keys. Ryan "Stilly" Stilwell asks in the chorus "Is it just a pipe dream?" and in reference to the lyrics, maybe living forever certainly is, but I don't think Black Bottom Lighters' success is a pipe dream at all. At this point they are certainly leading the pack of reggae rock bands right now, just from the volume of releases alone. It's a fantastic new tune and I can definitely hear why it deserved its own damn EP. 2 Or 2000 in combination with a brand new EP should secure Black Bottom Lighters' place on the spring/summer festival circuit in no uncertain terms. One thing's for sure, they shouldn't have to be stuck in Arizona for too long during the months of sweltering heat in 2016.
MILK parade - "Diamonds"
Sometimes it seems that artists never quite get their due at home, while abroad they find startling success. MILK parade is Dublin-born Keith Walker (Holy Coast) who's been around the Phoenix music scene for years and under that moniker he recently released a solo single, "Diamonds." The song has been out for less than a month and it's already had over 142,000 listens on Soundcloud, while here at home few have even mentioned it! It's not difficult to hear why it's gotten so many plays. It's catchy as all hell and hypnotic at once. Walker has plenty of experience collaborating on electronic projects with The Holy Coast and MyKill, and now he's set to do it on his own. "I wanted to release music purely written by myself and that essentially is what MILK parade is," Walker said when I asked him about it. The song is lyrically simplistic, there's not much over thinking required here, but they are impactful and catchy — what more could you want in an indie dance song? Now it's just a question of how man remixes will emanate from this single. I could see this being a hit in clubs all across Europe with very little effort on Walker's part. MILK parade is planning on releasing a debut EP in the Spring of 2016 and I imagine that will be a great soundtrack to dance away the entire summer no matter where you are.
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Ben Anderson - "Perfect"
For weeks people had been asking me if I had heard the new Ben Anderson song, which I hadn't, but everyone else had, it seems. Last week he finally released it for the rest of the world to hear and I can see what the fuss was about. "Perfect" is the first single from his Where the Lights Go? EP set to be released on January 13. It's got a great singer/songwriter acoustic vibe to it and it's immediately warm and inviting to just soak your ears in. The addition of strings and keys are perfect accents to the jazzy little groove that Anderson has going on here. Beautifully composed by Anderson and Olivier Zahm, it's not too light to be ignored and has a fantastic finale that will give you a satisfied grin. The lyrics are unabashedly romantic and Anderson delivers them with a sexy little lilt. It's a joyful listen about how you find perfection in the one you love or at least the one you romanticize. One thing is for sure "Perfect" makes me damn curious about the rest of the EP Anderson is releasing, and luckily I won't have to wait long. In just a couple weeks he's throwing a release party for it at Crescent Ballroom with Brian Chartraud, Treasurefruit and Jenny Jarnagin. It should be a great time for some amazing music.
The Christian Family - "I Got Problems"
A friend of mine sent me a message that simply said, "You're going to love this band." It was a link to The Christian Family's Bandcamp page and apparently they released five separate songs in November, rather than say, an EP. Baby Wants More is my favorite of the bunch from this garage rock duo. They have just the right amount of grit, guts and madness to propel a two-person outfit without sounding like they are limiting their sound. It's bold and in your face, and though they will be compared to The White Stripes, they don't sound like them, though they may sound like lo-fi bands that may have inspired The White Stripes to be a thing. You may recognize this somewhat unknown local group, because of their other bands. It took me about a week to figure out that it was Daniel Shircliff of Freaks of Nature and Ann Seletos of Cherie Cherie. The combination makes sense considering their background. All the singles are short, sweet, and a hell of a lot of fun. This kind of minimalist punk brings me back to the K Records days and their songs are every bit as enjoyable as the singles of my distant youth. My friend was right, I absolutely love this band. Next on my agenda? Catch The Christian Family live. Be sure to check out the other tracks on their Bandcamp page as well.