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.
Harper and the Moths - "What Are We Giving Up"
It was only three weeks ago that Harper and The Moths released the intensely catchy indie pop single "Nighttime Tremors," and quick on the song's heels, the band has released another single to show the other side of its sound. Though "What Are We Giving Up" may not be as hook-heavy as its predecessor, it displays the rock side of the band's sound. It seems to recall the sound of mid-period Manic Street Preachers, and Harper Lines' vocals are a dead match for James Dean Bradfield's vocals here. There is a ferocity found here that was not apparent in the previous single, and it is very much welcome. Once more every member shines, especially Kelsee Ishmael's backing vocals and harmonies. Once more, though, kudos must be given to the furious rhythm section of David Campbell and Nick Ramirez, the stunning guitar work of Chan Schulman, and, of course, the fantastic production by Jeremy Parker. I could totally deal with a new single from this outfit once a month for perhaps the rest of my life. I truly hope a full-length album is in the works, because I'm not sure I will be satisfied with anything less from a group that is emerging as easily one of my favorites of 2015. Listen to the raw delivery and passion, with a perfect production sheen, you'll probably feel the same after a few spins.
Leonardo DiCapricorn - "Bummer Daze" One of my favorite and youngest bands in the local scene has to be Leonardo DiCapricorn. With each passing release, they come into their own. Well, on Tuesday they dropped an entirely new six-song EP called Friends, Anemones in an unexpected fashion, and it's the best thing they've done to date. "Bummer Daze" in particular is a punk rocker that could only come out of Arizona — it's an amazing paean to summers in the desert heat and it's both a brilliant tune as well as funny as all hell. On the chorus it appears they are taking some nods from Rubber Brother label-mates Playboy Manbaby in, at least, delivery. This may well be the anthem of summer 2015 in Phoenix as Damon Dominguez screams, "I'm from the desert lands / No one understands what it's like to live inside Hell / I'm from the desert lands / Nobody understands what it's like to feel your face melt." While the complaints are about the oppressive weather found in the summer months, ultimately Leonardo DiCapricorn defends our peculiar living arrangements against ausländers who criticize the overwhelmingly beige place we call home.
Warm Gunns - "Double Mirror"
I literally have no idea how I found out about Warm Gunns. When they changed their name last week from Sunbeams I had already liked them on Facebook, apparently. That same day they released a debut single under that moniker called "Double Mirror." Whatever happened was great, apparently. This is music that is right up my alley, which is to say psychedelic garage rock in the absolute classic sense. I mean, this sounds like it was culled right out of a Nuggets selection from 1966. I have no idea who is in the band, who produced the track or if they even play live, but this is a song that I can't stop playing. If you love classic fuzzy psychedelic garage rock from the '60s, a la The Seeds or The Count Five, you are going to dig the holy hell out of this. It actually reminds me of how I felt about WEBS when I first heard them, but these guys are pulling it off better, and a bit trippier. It comes in at under three minutes, and I seriously hope it's pressed to 45, because I want that in my collection.
Party Gardens - "What We're Made Of"
Out of the blue, last week, Party Gardens dropped a new EP called Moon on the populace, and there was much rejoicing. It's been nearly a year since they released Dance Flora, and this new release is a welcome addition to their catalog, very nearly creating an album with one side released at a time. I listened to Moon repeatedly for about six hours upon its release and there was one track that I kept falling in love with every time. "What We're Made Of" is clearly Paul Waxman's (Dear and the Headlights) masterpiece on the whole affair. While Sean Brennan took vocals on the catchiest tunes on their debut EP, Waxman truly stands out on this track. I have always found his vocals/lyricism to have something of an Elvis Costello vibe to it, and here it seems really apparent. It's not an exact match and the music behind it is simply exquisite, especially the guitar and bass lines going on. Still, I have a feeling that Costello would love this and want to cover it. There's another quality to it that I can't quite pin down, but I am going to chalk that up to Party Gardens magic by a band that seems to release records just in time for you to spend the poolside season with them on repeat.
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Another recent ex-pat, Bryant Eugene Vazquez left for Philadelphia about a year ago, but he's another artist I will always consider Arizonan. He was a member of decker., Murdoch, Vagabond Gods and a solo artist unto himself. Well, his time in PA has led to a brand new album set to be unleashed this month, and this is the first taste of it. Vazquez is simply a prolific artist in no uncertain terms and he always does what his heart decides to do whether it is punk, grunge, folk, or glorious lo-fi home recordings, he seems possessed by the urge to simply create and send his truth out to the world. "What's Paisley? (City Blues)" is the first of his Philly recordings off the upcoming album, All Damn Day/The Greatest Hits, and it's a pretty brilliant gritty number and one of his better numbers from the last couple years, although that's difficult to gauge since he engages so many genres in so many outfits. Still, there is a vulnerability and minimalistic beauty to this preview single that speaks for itself. The guitar on the bridge is worth the price of admission alone. After hearing this, I eagerly anticipate hearing the rest of All Damn Day/The Greatest Hits because I have no doubt that the rest of the contents will only match what is found here in 165 seconds.