Right Hear, Right Now: 5 Great New Songs From Phoenix Artists
Photo by Bryan Juarez
Spiritual Warfare - "My Day Off"
Joel Marquard has led a wonderful career in the local music scene for as long as I can remember, whether it was fronting Gospel Claws, founding Dear in the Headlights, leading The Through and Through Gospel Review, manifesting Samuel L Cool J, or his most recent one-man show, Spiritual Warfare. All things must come to an end, I suppose, because Marquard recently relocated to Idaho. That said, he has given us some lovely parting gifts — over the next month, he is set to release no less than four records by Spiritual Warfare through Moone Records — that's right, four records. The first of these, Suite 16, was released last week, and Marquard describes it as "Damaged Doo-Wop, Rhythm and Blues, and Lo-Fi Soul." Upon first listen, it seems some of these songs would have fit nicely on a Samuel L Cool J follow-up record, but here they are minimalist and pretty amazing. I meant to only listen to a song or two when it was released, and I ended up listening to the whole thing. My favorite so far has to be the retro vibe of "My Day Off," more than likely because it features amazing backing vocals courtesy of Marvella Cubit, Zuri Deva, Stacy Mulhern, and Rodetta. It's a classic Marquard composition, with a catchy hook and a dreamy theme. Each Spiritual Warfare release seems to be styled for a different sound, so it should be interesting to find out what they are all about over the next three Fridays.
Photo by Stillman James Busselle
Dogbreth - "Hoarder House"
I have been waiting for a new Dogbreth album for two years. Last Friday, Dogbreth threw "Hoarder House" on its Bandcamp page, and although this track appears on the It Came From Plan-It-X 2014 compilation, the band has promised that a slightly different version will be on its upcoming full-length record. This is great news for everyone who loves these pop-punk wunderkinds, and while this track may have been released on a comp last year, now everyone can hear the two minutes' worth of glory. It's pretty great, and I have to admit that I'll be interested in how the band improves it on the forthcoming album. The only way I can imagine how Dogbreth could make it better is to extend it by about a minute. It is infectious and addictive, and I've had it in the back of my head for nearly a week now. "Hoarder House" has everything you need to know about Dogbreth if you've never heard them before — jangling guitars, a head-bopping rhythm, upbeat, quirky vocals and a general sense of madness and joy. It's not really difficult to understand why they have such a large following. If you doubt their consistency, just check out their back catalog on Bandcamp.
Photo by Ethan Beazley Photography LLC
FigureItOut - "Want to Want Me"
When I posted last week's Right Hear, Right Now, a comment on a band that shared the column said I should check out FigureItOut, so I did. I have to admit, I was pretty impressed. Granted, the only recent song I could find, and the single they just dropped, is a cover, but it's a damn fine cover, and it's clear that Figure It Out has something going for them, well beyond covering Jason Derulo songs. I checked into their EP from last year and I dug it. FigureItOut is Mike Weakley (vocals/guitar), A.J. Ward (drums), and Matt Walker (bass), and this power trio has a hell of a sound going for them. I'll say it right now, I love pop-punk, and these guys know how to deliver that genre with excellence. I'd love to see these guys on a bill with Sundressed, Merit, and a few other local bands that share this poppy, punky, intelligent vision. In their pop-punk cover of Derulo's "Want to Want Me" they don't stray far from their own inherent sound — the fierce guitars, the manic drumming, the fantastic vocals. This song has it all, and I can totally imagine losing my mind to this song at a show.
Jade Helm - "The Human Condition"
Jackie Cruz of Man Hands had intended to start a solo project. Somewhere along the way, she ended up recruiting a band to play live. The next thing you know, Jade Helm happened, and the group will have its EP on the way in the coming months. For now, the group has released the tremendous debut song "The Human Condition." Three other musicians join Jackie for this project, which sounds like classic girl rock from the ’80s/’90s, and by that I mean The Primitives or Lush or Elastica — just a driving groove that has Cruz's amazing vocals at the helm. It has a nostalgic sound that I can't completely place — maybe the early pop songs of My Bloody Valentine before they joined Creation records. Either way, it's fantastic, and it is right up my alley. I'd love to see Jade Helm with other anachronistic bands like Daisy Face and a few other shoegazers around town. It is a catchy-as-hell song, and I know for a fact that in a few days, I'll be singing it to myself and wondering, "What the hell song is stuck in my head?" It will be this one. I could just immerse myself in this song and this sound all day long, and I cannot wait for the rest of the EP. Cruz, it must be said, is a busy woman: There also will be a new Man Hands album released sometime soon, to the delight of all of their fans.
Citrus Clouds - "In Time I Am"
Speaking of shoe gazers — and for that matter, psychedelic dream pop — I'd like to introduce you to Citrus Clouds if you haven't heard them already. They are bracing to release their debut EP in December, but in the meantime, they've released two preview tracks to whet the appetite. Citrus Clouds is the new project from Erick Pineda (Tierra Firme) on guitars/vocals and featuring his girlfriend, Stacie Huttleston, on bass/vocals and Anthony Jarero on drums/vocals. "In Time I Am" was just released this week and Huttleston takes the lead vocals on this one, with the results being absolutely magical. Seriously, if you are a fan of early Creation records from the late ’80s and early ’90s, you are going to love this track and its predecessor released the previous week, "Dreamer." From the feedback-washed, swirling psychedelic guitar to the easy, hypnotic drums to the downright dreamy vocals and harmonies, this song has a lot going for it. A few listens to this song and you'll have kaleidoscope eyes in short order. It's really difficult for me to determine which element I like the best between everything that's going on — I mean, the guitar is truly inspired and possibly some of Pineda's best work to date. At the same time, this is the first time I've heard Huttleston sing, and it's angelic. Meanwhile the rhythm section is holding it all together so that it doesn't become unraveled in the cosmos. I have a feeling this will be one of my favorite EPs of the year.
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