The 50 Best Songs by Phoenix Bands in 2016, Part Two
Robbie Pfeffer of Playboy Manbaby does more than just sing.
10. Playboy Manbaby— "You Can Be A Fascist Too"
"You Can Be A Fascist Too" is the opening track for the highly anticipated, absurdly delayed Don't Let It Be album set to be released early next year. It's a song told from the perspective of a fascist and delivered with no lack of sardonic wit. Musically, it's one of Playboy Manbaby's most solidly aggressive tunes, and it's good to know that punk and vitriol are still very much alive in the capable hands of the band that has been declared the Best of Phoenix. This is music for slam dancing and moshing.
9. Foresteater— "Very Friendly People"
"Very Friendly People" is the lead track on debut record from
8. Bear Ghost— "
7. Harper and The Moths— "Nothing From Me"
This is possibly my favorite track from the band since "Chemicals" or even "Nighttime Tremors." It fits right in place with those singles and the sounds they began to explore on their Rock.Pop.Soul record, mixing rock elements with late-'70s disco leanings. It's got more swagger to it than some of their recent singles, and that's what makes it stand out. Harper Lines' hypnotic vocal delivery turns rapid-fire on the verses, and it's one of his best vocals to date. Here, he is channeling his inner Michael Hutchence.
6. Fairy Bones— "Pink Plastic Cups"
Before Fairy Bones went on hiatus for the summer, "Pink Plastic Cups" was quickly becoming the new highlight in their live set. It was clearly an immediate single and I was glad to see that it was one of two tunes (along with "8 Ball") that made the cut for their twin single release this year. Somewhere last spring I had declared it my new favorite Fairy Bones tune. and that still stands. Beginning with Matthew Foos' bass drum, a guitar line from Robert
5. El West— "Thin Air"
I don't usually get goosebumps when I listen to a song on headphones for the first time, I usually save that for live shows, but in the case of "Thin Air" by El West I had goosebumps for the entire four-and-a-half minutes. El West sounds like nothing going on in Phoenix these days. When I try to decide what element I like the best I can't decide between Powell's voice, Thomas Brenneman's frenetic guitar, Rickey Powell's powerful bass groove, or Marty Welker's rapid-fire drumming. The damn thing impresses me at every level.
4. Blank Waves— "All In You"
I don't often offer up live tracks or ever consider them in lists like this, but this is an exception. When all is said and done, I think "All In You" is one of the finest songs of the year. I'm not even sure if the magic captured on this live recording will ever translate to a studio version, but whether it's the minimalist drum kit, the retro keyboard/organ work, or the damnably infectious vocals on this track, every moment of this tune will keep you grooving. It still has that tripped-out Robyn Hitchcock-meets-Animal Collective sound to it, but there is a catchy, pop aesthetic that makes this a standout track. Since Blank Waves posted this song back in March, I'm pretty sure I've listened to it nearly a thousand times. I never tire of it, and I want everyone that loves local music to get an aural taste of this amazing earworm.
3. decker.— "The Phantom"
Even at the improbable length exceeding six minutes, "The Phantom" is the catchiest tune on decker.'s 2016 album, Snake River Blues. Decker himself blames this on the influence of a minor obsession with Tom Petty while working on his new record, and while you can see that as a starting point decker. takes that influence and crafts into something completely and uniquely his own. "The Phantom" is the longest track on the record and it may well be the band's finest moment, whether that was intentional or not. It does not sound like it's going to be a hook-heavy, ear-loving brain invader, but by the time Decker sings "Do you remember baby," it sure as hell does. By then, it's too late. Your brain is just going to play that chorus over and over until you do it's bidding and listen again.
2. The Sink or Swim— "Blame It On Me"
Last September the Sink Or Swim released their second EP of the year with High Tides, and it's really more three singles. In the early '90s, this would be called a Maxi-Single, featuring two or three A-Sides. "Glass Eye" was the first one to really catch my ear, but after a few dozen listens to the collection, "Blame It On Me" seems to have made a nest in my head.This song is always a stunner in their live set. Part of the reason is that this is a vocal masterpiece for lead singer Nate
1. Wyves— "Spoils of War"
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