Right Hear, Right Now: 5 Must-Hear Songs By Phoenix Artists
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.
Gospel Claws - "'Til My Baby Calls"
It's always a treat to get new music from Gospel Claws, especially since it's been since 2012 when they last released anything. In that case it was an entire album; here, it is a single that came out last week on the RSD exclusive Zia Records compilation You Heard Us Back When Vol. 9, on there it's called "I Can't Wait." According to the band they recorded it late last year and never released it, and it's about telemarketers -- well, one specific telemarketer. It's an instant Claws classic with plenty of indie pop influence, marked doo-wop nods, harmonies from heaven, plenty of reverb, and a nice surf guitar solo with congas or bongos to boot. It's a brilliant sunshiney number just in time for summer, and though it's already on a compilation, it will be going on my own poolside soundtrack for 2015. The finale with Joel Marquard giving his all on vocals is just pure genius. It is the perfect blend of all of their styles wrapped up in one sweet package. Listen to it here or try to score the Zia compilation if there are any left anywhere.
Cockswain - "All Hands on Deck"
First of all, you have to respect any band that refers to themselves as a hardcore folk band. Secondly, it's damn difficult to not enjoy scruffy Celtic rock 'n' roll that addresses all the important things in life like booze, lost loves, ghosts, and devils while dabbling in traditional tunes, sea shanties, and jigs. My advice is that you get a bottle of Jameson and spend some quality time with Cockswain's brand new album. Their debut album titled Seamus was just released on April 20, and they will be celebrating its release at Alice Cooperstown this Saturday, April 25. With a punk delivery, an Irish heart, and a modern vision to make this kind of music contemporary, Cockswain truly succeeds at what it does, and it sounds great, production wise. Every song I've previewed seems to be the start of a party waiting to happen, and it goes down as smooth as quality Irish whiskey. Just check out "All Hands On Deck" to get the sense of what is going on here; it's probably the quintessence of what they are about -- loud, traditional, drunk, and rowdy. I can imagine that this effect is only amplified when surrounded by a live crowd as opposed to listening to it while you're drinking alone and dancing a jig.
The Woodworks - "Choke"
The Woodworks are preparing to drop their new album Unhealthy Decisions on May 16. To prepare everyone for that release the band has posted the preview single "Choke." I have to say, based on the single alone, Woodworks show a musical savvy and sense of maturity that outshines their previous releases. Here everyone shines, from Konstantin Bosch's rhythm, to Steve B Drinkin's bass, to the guitar and vocals of Solo Lounsbury. I was a huge fan of last year's Safe Mode, and since that release I've seen them a couple dozen times live, and on this recording it all seems to come together perfectly as it is found on stage. The song, though fast-paced and rocking as all hell, is lyrically a deep mediation around drowning in a relationship that is holding you back from your own progress. I've been able to preview the entire album and I can assure you that this is only the tip of the iceberg -- a wise choice for the single, but the record is stunning and you'll soon be able to pick your own favorite song from it next month.
The Necronauts - "Tranny Fluid Is Thinner Than Water"
The Necronauts have been releasing records in the Valley for more than !3 years and playing out longer than that. They seem to be on something of a latter-day upswing with the release of OTD last year and now the release of their experimental EP Ralph and Barbara, which came out on April 20. The brothers Goodman, Billy and Dale, are continually full of surprises, and this time they are joined by Timothy Dalton Culver on keys. The entire EP is a wildly schizophrenic affair. If you know The Necronauts, you will love instantly. If you don't, you will learn to love shortly. Conveniently, if you are not familiar with them, their entire catalog is on Bandcamp, and if you listen to their entire works on a Saturday with some whiskey and a bag of weed, it will be worth it. After listening to the entire EP over and over again, I kept coming back to "Tranny Fluid Is Thinner Than Water," and I'm not sure it's intended to be the single or if there is even supposed to be one, but it should be. There is a very Ben Folds feel to the keys and the composition, which appears to be Culver's influence, while the rest is just pure classic Necronauts feel.
CooBee Coo - "Grin On My Face"
The first thing that must be said about this song is that it is in no way representative of any other song found on CooBee Coo's new album Liven Up. Nevertheless, it is my favorite song from that album for that exact reason. The style comes straight out of a 1940s,1950s musical that would have featured Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire, or maybe a revivalist movie from the '70s starring those same entertainers. It is so anachronistic that it stands out like a sore thumb amidst an already brilliant album. Still, I'm a sucker for the retro keys and the lilting orchestrations. Hell, if you can't see the singer dancing in a tux and tails, with a cane and a top hat, I think you may need to revisit some important pop cultural landmarks of the 20th century and maybe catch a Busby Berkeley film or two. Nevertheless, this song is a breath of fresh air, especially in reference to the rest of the album, completely out of place and seriously one of my favorite songs of the entire year. It's difficult to keep a grin off of my face every time I listen to this, but then again, I'm imagining entire dance routines with the modern equivalent of The Rockettes in the background. With all that in mind, I would heartily recommend that you check out the rest of the album as well.
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