August is an odd month, isn’t it? It’s that weird, stuck-in-amber month between the hell of summer and the promise of a cooler autumn. As such, it fosters a sense of unease and uncertainty, and that was clearly reflected in the local music released across last month. Be it hard-hitting hip-hop, harsh noise and/or earnest indie rock, each song seemed to capture August’s mix of longing, anxiety and all-around tension. These are the best local songs released this past month.
Astrologer, 'Empty Chair'
In a recent interview with Phoenix New Times, frontman Andrew Cline said that Astrologer's latest album, "Eternal Friday," is meant to evoke a "sort of hazy, dreamy melancholic feeling." (He further explained that it's also a response to the "map" formed the first time he ever heard The Cure's "Just Like Heaven.") So, does the 10-track capture that most compelling of moods as promised? Well, if you listen to a track like "Empty Chair," the answer is a solid, "Oh, heck yeah." However, the track's altogether more robust and complicated than any descriptor, and you'll likely enjoy traipsing through its many layers across several distinct listens. At least this Friday lasts forever, yeah?
Snailmate, 'The Laziest Man in The World'
Back in April, after a couple of years of hinting at it, Snailmate mentioned plans to finally drop their long-awaited new album, "Stress Sandwich." It appears as if our meal is ready for our collective devouring, as the quirky duo have announced a release date (and accompanying show at Trunk Space) for Friday, September 29. In the meantime, however, we can enjoy the record's latest single, "The Laziest Man In The World." This homage to being chronically, unwaveringly lazy is another standout hybrid gem from the pair, and proves as eccentric as it is downright catchy. And the video itself is worth a rewatch given their primo taste in leisure/loungewear.
Touré Masters, 'Thug It Out'
Before he was a rising name in the local hip-hop scene, Touré Masters was just called RéRé. That childhood nickname also serves as the title for his latest album and the follow-up to January's seven-track "White Sox Fitted." Masters says he chose that title to honor the family members that "have taught me to help others [in] growing and learning every day." For a proper taste of the 10-track affair, be sure to spin "Thug It Out." While the intro may sound a tad assaulting, the track itself sees Masters open up in a big way, rapping lines like, "Broken armor can't protect everything / Got pain in places I would never think." It's good to know ya, RéRé.
Sydney Sprague, 'Nobody Knows Anything'
You've got to give it up for Sydney Sprague. When it comes to album titles, the young talent clearly has the game on lock. After titling her debut 2021 album "maybe i will see you at the end of the world," she's set to return on September 15 with the equally impressive "somebody in hell loves you." And the song titles on this 11-track album are just as compelling, including the recently released new single "Nobody Knows Anything." So, what could make this slightly experimental alt-rock ballad even better? How about Sprague dressed up as a giant robot in the music video?
Teek Hall, 'Beat The Clan'
While there are plenty of heavy hitters in the Phoenix hip-hop scene, you can always count on Teek Hall to be extra prolific. Since the end of 2022, he's released a few album-length projects, the most recent of which was August's "Sewer Stories." Taking a book out of the Mega Ran playbook of pop culture-referencing rap, Hall uses the 12-track record to celebrate his beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While there are tracks called "Kowabunga" and "Project Super Shredder," the standout is "Beat The Clan." It's a hard-hitting, hypnotic jam that'll have you rooting for the Foot Clan for once.
Pijama Piyama, 'La Nieve'
If you recall Pijama Piyama, this outfit play a decidedly magical blend of electronic-leaning cumbia music. If you haven't already experienced it, then you're in luck, as the band recently released their latest project, "Pijama Piyama y Los Niños De Rana." The eight-track effort is said to blur the very boundaries of reality, where a "subterranean symphony beckons, a frog bus awaits – a realm governed by pure pachanga." For a taste of what this particular psychedelic trip is like, just listen to "La Nieve." It's the soundtrack to a dance party under the desert sky – if said party was populated entirely by magical tree frogs. Enjoy the sweet vibes and resulting head rush.
If you want to really get into experimental music, it helps to assume that you're going to have a hard time. A lot of this music doesn't want to soothe or uplift, but effectively drop a 40-pound dumbbell on your face. But if it's anything like the work of blkkstatic and their newly released, two-track "Lysergic" EP, all of that pain and misery is worth it somehow. Because if you can make it through the nine-minute sonic onslaught that is the aptly titled "Persist," then you just might find some powerful personal truths. That, or a great new combination alarm clock and dog whistle.
Glixen, 'My Blue Heaven'
Glixen represent a very specific kind of cool. The young Phoenix four-piece make truly compelling, goth-centric '90s alt-rock (despite seeming as if none of the members were born before 1999). That trend very much continues with their new project, the six-track "She Only Said." Be sure to carve out roughly six minutes of your day to spin the closing track, "My Blue Heaven." Equally sweet and hazy as well as intense and foreboding, it'll practically lift you off the ground and bring you into some version of rock 'n' roll heaven. There's cool, and then there's this absolutely dreamy band.
Weston Smith, 'Demented'
Anyone who has read this feature enough will know how we adore the "wistful wizard" Weston Smith. The experimental musician is not only hugely talented and whimsical to boot, but he's also quite prolific. In 2023 alone, he's released standalone tracks (including "Fear of the Heavens"), a self-titled instrumental album in June and "Art Thou Lost?" in August (and that's not even mentioning October's "MUSIC FOR DUNGEON CRAWLING.") With tracks like "Demented," from the aforementioned "Art Thou Lost?," it's easy to see why Smith remains so compelling as he forges a track made for getting lost in the most magical way possible. Could he possibly end the year with another two records?
Sundressed, 'There With Me'
For roughly a decade now, Tempe's own Sundressed have made what they call "emotional indie punk." Whether they're touring the U.S. or just gigging around the Valley, they continue to find new ways and levels of expressing that potent emotionally. That includes their latest, self-titled album, a 10-track affair that includes the undisputed standout, "There With Me." An emo ballad disguised as a pop-punk jam, this track speaks to love and interpersonal connection with a depth and grace that the band have been refining all this time. Prepare to feel things very, very deeply.
Sledgehammer Facelift, 'Serpents Bidding'
If you happen to start a band called Sledgehammer Facelift, you can only really play a very specific kind of music. But this local five-piece aren't just a "Brutal Death Metal" band as their social media indicates — there are lots of layers at play. Case in point: "Serpents Bidding," a new single that serves as a sampler of their forthcoming debut album. Yes, it's the kind of metal that can strip the paint off a tank, but the band's technical prowess and singular approach to songwriting make this feel decidedly novel and all the more forceful.
FLOWERBOY, 'NEW PERSONAL LOW'
Back in September 2021, we introduced you to FLOWERBOY, the nom de plume of local musician Alexander Danieli. In recent months, Danieli has proven quite busy, including releasing "NEW PERSONAL LOW." While the song itself is reflective of its slightly downer title ("isn’t it funny how I’m in free-fall again?"), Danieli's brand of "indie disco pixel meltdown" is on clear display with yet another scintillating electro-pop banger. You say low, and we say genuine personal heights.
Meanwhile, in April 2023, we introduced you to a rather compelling MC named ItsDisbelief. Hailing from Phoenix, ItsDisbelief called himself the "best experimental venture out of Arizona since Injury Reserve." While tapes like "Keeping Balance" provided some evidence for that rather lofty claim, the rapper is clearly ready to further cement his claim with the 14-track "stellar." Calling it the "culmination of my journey," the tape features "measure," a glitchy, slightly spacey joint that feels like boom bap rap if it were recorded from the Triangulum Galaxy. Believe it or not, he's that good, folks.
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Chris Coplan has been a professional writer since the 2010s, having started his professional career at Consequence. Since then, he's also been published with TIME, Complex, and other outlets. Chris has been a freelancer with New Times since late 2018, and writes about all things music. He lives in Central Phoenix with his wife, stepdaughter, a dumb but lovable dog, and two bossy cats.