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.
Bear Ghost - "Necromancin' Dancin'"
I have little doubt in my mind that one of my favorite albums of next year is going to be Blasterpiece, the first full-length record by Bear Ghost. This year, they quickly became one of my favorite bands to catch live, and I haven't been able to stop listening to their debut EP. I was hoping the album would be released this year, but at the very least, they have released the manic single "Necromancin' Dancin'" while they put the finishing touches on the album. This song is everything I love about Bear Ghost in just under four minutes. It is steeped deeply in the best that prog rock offers, all at a breakneck punked-up pace, with a theatrical presentation that makes the band sound damn near possessed. I suppose that's an appropriate delivery in consideration of the title and the lyrical topic. I have to say that it was pointed out to me recently that the Phoenix music scene was missing a sense of "fun," and I absolutely understand that perception. That in mind, I have to say that if you're looking for fun, Bear Ghost is it, without a shadow of a doubt. I was late to the party on their first EP, but after catching their live shows and indulging in this song repeatedly, I feel I arrived just in time. They are top-notch in everything they do, and it's nearly impossible to bear the anticipation building for the release of Blasterpiece early next year.
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Merit - "All These Haunting Things Part 1"
Merit has been releasing an ambitious project all year long with a series of three EPs representing the cycles of life. Together they make a fascinating album. The project began in March with The Sun Will Rise, continued in July with The Comfort and The Confusion, and is concluding this month with The End of Everything. The first song to see release from the final EP is the opening track "All These Haunting Things Part 1," easily one of their best songs to date. I've been following the project since the start and I'm really looking forward to being able to play all three EPs back to back to back to get the entire scope of the endeavor. They pride themselves in playing and recording "Arizona bummer jams," and I suppose the final EP in the cycle should be the biggest bummer of them all, but it sounds consistent with the other EPs. That being said, it doesn't seem any more of a downer than the other songs Merit has released this year. In fact, it doesn't sound like a downer at all. It's just great emo rock by a local act that can actually pull off emo rock. Now, if only they'd play around town more often with the likes of Sundressed and Holy Fawn, I'd be content with these bummer jams.
DAISY - "Q&A"
I was looking for interesting shows to catch this weekend when I noticed a band called DAISY was releasing a new EP called In Retrospect, with support from Holy Fawn and New Chums. I figured I'd check them out and I was glad I did. "Q&A" is the first song they've released from the EP and it's an engaging alt-rock track with enough pop flourishes to have broad appeal. DAISY is Anthony Perre (vocals/guitar) Ty Kidd (bass), Dylan Kielly (drums), and Michael Petry (lead guitar), and they hail from Gilbert. First of all, I dig the intro to the song, with its clean guitar line, deep bass, pounding drums, and vocal effects. The rock layer occurs throughout the verses, carefully surrounding the delicious pop center of the chorus. I immediately wanted to hear the rest of the EP as well as catch them live. This is a compelling debut song, but I guess I'll have to wait for the weekend to get my answers on the range of their sound. Check out DAISY this Sunday at The Rebel Lounge, where they will be joined by Holy Fawn, New Chums, and Something Like December.
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Serene Dominic - "(I Got a) Swimming in My Head"
To be clear, yes, Serene Dominic writes about music for New Times. However, when he's not doing that, he is making and playing music or creating vast stage spectacles. His newest project, Swimming in the Head, is a musical adaptation of the Alfred Hitchcock classic Vertigo. That's right, a musical of Vertigo. The clear single is a joyful romp called "(I Got a) Swimming in My Head," and after a listen or two, I couldn't get it out of my head. From the title of the song and the whole project, I expected this to be a little more dizzying than it is, but it's a great retro pop rock tune, with this magical little guitar hook around the chorus that sticks with me, plus there's a hint of spy-music rhythms buried in there, and I'm a sucker for that. This song is just pure fun and a great way to suck you into the entire production. You may want to stop by the Firehouse Gallery this Saturday or Sunday evening, where Swimming in the Head will be performed live. I am pretty sure that this will be a memorable and entertaining event, to say the very least.
Chad Wilson Bailey - "Dark Cloud"
Chad Wilson Bailey has been making music for quite a while. Most recently, he released a full-length album called Build Me a Fire, which is unapologetically pure rock 'n' roll. He also put out a video for the first single, "Dark Cloud," that nearly is as engaging as the song itself. First of all, sometimes I just fall in love with the construction of a song, and that is definitely the case here. Starting with the backwoods guitar intro, it gives you very little idea of what is to come with its gentle acoustic strokes. It's not too long before it picks up the pace and Bailey begins his throaty vocals over an ever-increasing and hypnotic tempo. Even then, you are not quite sure where the song is getting to until he practically howls halfway through and the band completely kicks your ass with a hard rock assault. It's the payoff you'd hoped for from the start. The guitar licks are downright flammable, the drums crashing, the bass thumping; there is a menacing madness to it all that's perfectly explosive. Add to that the great video above and Chad Wilson Bailey has delivered an impressive calling card to the world with this one.