The Phoenix Lights Return (in Emby Alexander's New Video)
Still from "I Don't Mind If You Call Us Friends"
Emby Alexander has had a busy summer, releasing two videos, signing to UK label Bigo & Twigetti, and wrapping up a brief tour of the Southwest in support of its self-titled EP. Now the art-pop locals are wrapping it up with an EP release and two videos: a retrospective tour diary sound tracked by their upcoming single "Lie Down In The Ocean," and "I Don't Mind If You Call Us Friends," a time-lapse of the band playing in local hangouts which may or may not feature the infamous Phoenix Lights.
The verbosely titled EP Summer Blood and All the Parties I Wasn't Invited to Anyway will be released today on Emby's UK label and Saturday on Phoenix's own cassette-adoring imprint Rubber Brother Records. The cassette will include a free digital download. But Michael B. Alexander, the band's frontman, wasn't always down with the whole cassette trend. What changed?
Album art for Summer Blood and All the Parties I Wasn't Invited to Anyway.
"I think I could definitely say that my stance still is that I don't get it," Alexander says, noting that he's been a longtime fan of Robbie Pfeffer, Playboy Manbaby's frontman and the main mind behind Rubber Brother. Pfeffer approached Alexander about a project, and it just so happened the band was wrapping up its EP and looking for a home for it. "[Cassettes are] cool, it's street credit . . . [but] I don't want to give [fans] a piece of technology they might not own . . . I didn't think we were that hip that we could just screw everybody, [saying] I don't care if you don't own a cassette player. If they want it digitally, they can still have it.
"It's important. I just want people to hear it."
Gambling, drinking, skateboarding, moths and music. Such is summer. The title, Alexander explains, is the artistic dilemma of acting antisocial during the summer yet, through social media and word of mouth, being hyperaware of what everyone else is up to. In your head, you may feel entitled to attend these parties or shows, but then you sheepishly realize you probably weren't invited in the first place.
"Everyone's at parties or something like that, where I always felt like I was here, editing music videos and editing songs. Just that double-edged sword, where this is what I want to do and [yet] I'm not out in the world," Alexander says. "So you kind of have this sense of guilt for not being social and working on your craft . . . then you're telling yourself this is what I want to be doing anyway. All the Parties . . . is the sour grapes, it's tongue-in-cheek."
Not that what he's doing is better than everyone else or there's anything wrong with partying, Alexander explains -- he just wants to share what they were up to instead. And as the video for "Lie Down in the Ocean" demonstrates, Emby Alexander (which includes Alexander on lead vocals and guitar; Tim Arimborgo on glockenspiel, guitar and vocals; Kyle Grabski on bass; Austin Harshman on guitar and vocals; and, last but not least, Max Weidle on drums) had one helluva drunken, gambling, rocking streak through the Southwest.
The time-lapse mural painting video for "I Don't Mind If You Call Us Friends" was shot between Crescent Ballroom and Bodega 420. In the upper right corner of one of the shots, you can see seven beams that closely resemble the unexplained Phoenix Lights that appeared over the city in 1997. The lights in the video don't move, even for a few hours as the band sets up and Jeff Slim paints in the background. While the Phoenix Lights have a likely explanation and so might these, they're kind of eerie, no?
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