New Music from The Sink or Swim, Sunset Voodoo, Huckleberry and More

New Music from The Sink or Swim, Sunset Voodoo, Huckleberry and MoreEXPAND
Photo by Surrealsister Photog

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 Sink or Swim - "Arizona"
The Sink or Swim have just unloaded their first single of 2017, and like the non-stop string of singles from last year, "Arizona" proves to be another engaging tune with hooks for miles and miles. This time they switch up the sound a bit and that is almost certainly due to this being their first recording with Derek Rossman. If you've seen their shows in the last six months or so, you've seen Rossman setting the stage on fire with his guitar and often breaking a string here or there. This has been a live favorite live tune for a while and the recorded version shows a slightly different side of the band. Sure it's still awesome indie rock, but there's a bit more low-key swagger going on here making it slightly more seductive, while nowhere near the neurotic edge of their previous singles, much to its benefit. If The Sink or Swim had been missing anything previous to Rossman's entrance, this song is proof positive that they are now complete. "Arizona" is as much a celebration of the band's adopted home as it is a deft rock song that conveys all the heat, sunshine and beauty found here without really touching on the atmospheric oppression, though implied. Listeners must be warned that you may need corrective surgery after listening to this tune a few times to remove the chorus from your mind as it occurs to you at ever uniquely Arizona moment you have from day to day. Stay tuned for further releases from this band; they are on a roll right now with no stops on the horizon.

New Music from The Sink or Swim, Sunset Voodoo, Huckleberry and More
Photo by Aaron Rivers

Sunset Voodoo - "Another Round"
Last week at a very special show at Crescent Ballroom, Sunset Voodoo releases a new single along with three other local bands, including The Real Fits, The Hourglass Cats and The Sink or Swim. "Another Round" is the fine new single from Sunset Voodoo. This is the second song in the last couple weeks that I notice Curtis Douglas at Red Mountain Studios is behind a board, and he has to be doing something right when it comes to rock 'n' roll. While all the blues rock vibe that you love in Sunset Voodoo is very much in place here, the primary vibe is a moody psychedelic one. There are wonderful flourishes here like the harmonies scattered throughout, the near-prog rock guitar takes and as always, an intense detail to the arrangement and the depth of sound. It's very much in line with "Got Me Bad," their previous single, but far more brooding and for some reason the psych aspect comes more to the fore with the construction of "Another Round." As always their lyrics are on point and far from the typical fodder found in rock songs and it's one more consistent quality about Sunset Voodoo that keeps me coming back for more. Also, if you haven't seen them live in a while, I highly recommend checking them out and I can only hope you can experience anything close to the near religious experience they delivered last Friday.

New Music from The Sink or Swim, Sunset Voodoo, Huckleberry and More
Photo by Eric Fairchild

Huckleberry - "Tether"
"Tether" is the second single Huckleberry has released in anticipation for their forthcoming full length album Natural Selector and it is a mindblower. Forget all the alt-country and Americana tags on this one, they simply do not apply. Okay, there is a steel guitar in their somewhere, but I figure that was just because it's a staple band since it serves virtually no purpose in the scheme of this exciting indie rock track. Huckleberry is authentically rocking out on this one with what is possibly their most aggressive song to date. After the first single of "Working Backwards" it seemed like they were going to cruise forward on the sound established on their three previous records, but this song proves that may not be the case at all. To Huckleberry's credit I don't think Sonic Youth or Pavement ever had a steel guitar or lap steel in the mix of any of their records, so they've got that on them—otherwise this is tried and true indie material, as though they had excavated a time capsule from 1992 and found this to play with. It's certainly the most arresting song they've released, so much so that you very nearly forget that it's Huckleberry playing. It is Huckleberry playing, doing it damn good in fact, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Natural Selector is going to be their most exciting album yet, based on the inclusion of this song alone.

Snailmate - "Vacuum"
I literally never know what to expect with Snailmate. Sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're angry, sometimes they're downright terrifying and I'm not even talking about the lyrics; that's just musing on the music they squeezed into their fantastic Escargot EP trilogy. I suppose the same goes for their lyrics as well. Either way, they are probably one of the most imposing musical duos of all time, armed with a keen wit and endless creative vision Snailmate seems to be able to charm everyone at some point. "Vacuum" is their first post-trilogy single and it's a preview from their forthcoming full-length Love In The Microwave. The musical minimalism happening, while less aggressive than any of their previous singles, makes a completely compelling experience that I'm certain will garner new fans, who will be lured to their shows and will then and only then know the true power of Snailmate. This song sounds like it was just pure fun for Kalen Lander and Ariel Monet to record and it has some of the most amusing synth parts and backing vocals to prove it. The chorus though still has me cracking up after a dozen listens: "I would invite you to my vacuum, but then it wouldn't be a vacuum. Well, I'm not sure if that's true, but it works better without you." Every lyric is a treasure, but that one get's me in the ribs. This also has to be one of my favorite performances by Lander as he brings his hip-hop to synth pop realms.

Painting Fences - "Shell"
It's been a year since Painting Fences released their masterful debut Through Glass and it took me far too long to catch up with that one. A year on it's still one of my favorite albums of last year and also one I've continued playing heavily in this one. I guess I'll still be playing that when they release their Prelude to the Fall EP later this Spring and "Shell" is the first single from that release. I have a feeling every song on the three track release will be a single, but I'm willing to wait to find out. Ever since finally catching on to what Painting Fences was doing late in the game last year, I've become infinitely fascinated with their music which combines as much straight up rock with a definitive power pop element, but in a way that evokes the post punk period where catchy hooks were very much being incorporated into otherwise aggressive tunes. Think The Undertones or Pete Shelley's tunes in Buzzcocks or The Only Ones. Much of this vibe is reliant on Seth Norman's unique vocal dynamism and the backing vocals of drummer Nick Martin, but Johnny Norman's drums are playing more to the power pop aesthetic, while the guitars handle the harder side of their sound. Apparently I need to keep a closer eye on this crew since this song came out well over a month ago. The other two aren't far behind now and I can't wait for my ears to get a hold of them.


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