Right Hear, Right Now: 5 Rad New Songs By Phoenix Artists
Strange Lot's mysterious silhouettes.
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.
Strange Lot - "Into The Night"
Strange Lot have just released the first single from their forthcoming full length album Another Mind, and it's a fantastic psychedelic dance number that harkens back to mid '60s and the Swinging London era of music. I would not be surprised if this crew was well versed in the various Nuggets collections over the years. Part garage rock, part psychedelic romp, Strange Lot is easily one of my favorite emerging bands and I eagerly look forward to the full album. Strange Lot rose from the ashes of the equally impressive WEBS, but this reformulation is stepping it up a notch and doing it better. I love everything about this track, whether it is the amazing, raging, and swooning guitars or the fantastic rhythm groove going on between the drums and bass -- it's just stunning. The reverb-laden vocals are fantastic and the whole thing combines into a wondrous pastiche that is completely danceable. If I could design music perfectly made for my own personal tastes, this is pretty much what it would sound like. It doesn't just evoke the '60s, you can feel the shoegaze feedback wash of the '90s and the mod beat revival of the '70s/'80s. It is the quintessence of some of my favorite sounds across many decades slammed into four minutes. Another Mind will see release through their very own Strange Records on May 15.
It feels like I have been begging Desert Beats to put out recordings for forever, but the band played its first show less than a year ago. They are something of a supergroup in local terms, consisting of Randall Dempsey (Snake! Snake! Snakes!), Jess Pruitt (Doctor Bones, Field Tripp) and Donnie Atkinson (Sun Ghost). With that much talent I knew I would not be disappointed when I went to see their debut show last year and I was not -- its brand of "desert rock 'n' roll" is pretty fantastic, and their recordings definitely do them justice. This week they have released their debut single/video for "Nothing Without You," and it is a great beginning for this desert rock power trio, and I certainly hope there is an EP or an album soon to follow in its wake. There IS something about this song that is thoroughly soaked in the Sonoran desert and sagebrush imaginings, which I can't describe much better than that, but you can feel it in the guitar every step of the way. Dempsey has a fascinating voice that recalls the early creative vox of early Kings of Leon. The song is so desert you can feel the heat coming off of it. What's more, the video is fantastic and only serves to underscore this sensibility, completely shot on 8 mm film with a Super 8 camera. It is an instant classic you can watch below.
The Through & Through Gospel Review
Joel Marquard has been known for many things in the local music scene, whether it was as guitarist for Dear & The Headlights, frontman for Gospel Claws, or guitarist and songwriter for Samuel L Cool J, all of which have been heralded for their brilliance. The strangest project of his has to be The Through & Through Gospel Review, a band based on roots gospel music, but somehow incorporating many of the compelling elements found in many of his other bands. I had seen them twice before I even knew they had even had an album available. Now The Through & Through Gospel Review will release their second full length album entitled On The Lord's Wrecking Crew and my favorite single from it so far is the standout track "Don't Let It Die." Marquard takes an ancient genre that he loves and runs it through his own filter, his own vision of how to bring these found sounds he's fond of up to date. It's a brilliant concept and it works. The Through & Through Gospel Review will release On The Lord's Wrecking Crew on vinyl at the Music Instrument Museum in Scottsdale on Friday, April 10th as they headline a show with Field Tripp and MRCH.
Alta Violet - "Pass The Time"
Alta Violet is the newest moniker for the psychedelic rock that River Jones is creating at this point in time. Jones was once a powerful force in the Phoenix music scene, but has since relocated to Austin, Texas; nevertheless he will always belong in the AZ canon for me. Alta Violet takes the sound he began in his previous endeavor (Sweet Shine) and adds a heavier edge to it all. Granted, on the debut EP there are plenty of softer Beatlesque moments ("Black Pearls"), but overall there is a darker sensibility to all of it and certainly more feedback. One of the standout tracks on the entire affair is the opener "Pass The Time," and while the guitar is heavier than previous efforts, Jones' vocals are angelic and reminiscent of George Harrison at his absolute prime. The song plays out as a dizzying four-minute homage to Harrison vocally with a guitar that rages throughout. The entire EP is a pretty fantastic ride unto itself and this song along with the pop savvy closer "Lies" are sure singles, but still after about 20 listens I find this the most musically fascinating, both compositionally and for its hypnotic presentation. My only hope is that Jones can take a road trip back home and make a stab at presenting his new collection of songs live, but at least at this point we have the recordings of this brilliant moment in time.
JJCnV -" Waves"
JJCnV released their brand new album Leathered, Weathered, and Feathered last week, and it's a brilliant collection of punk-soaked indie rock that I've listened to over and over again since it hit Bandcamp. There is actually so much good material on here that I didn't know which song I wanted to spotlight. Finally, after a dozen or so listens, I realized it was the finale of "Waves" that continually made me the happiest. Why? No idea, really. Maybe it's the 30-second intro of their take on "When The Saints Go Marching In" delivered acapella that grabs me. Maybe it's that the actual raging punk song that follows is really only 90 seconds song. Maybe it's that it's simply a great finale to wonderful lo-fi record from Mesa's finest. I don't know. I do know that I get more out that 90 seconds than I get out of four or five minutes with many other bands. It also might be the pop sensibility embedded in that minute and a half, either way, it's just a great song and I know I will be playing it a hell of a lot throughout this Spring in Summer, probably poolside. It also references asteroids and planetoids, admonishing them to "keep in touch" which is pretty cool unto itself. Check out this track and the entire album, you will have no regrets about spending some quality time with JJCnV.
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