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The must-hear new songs by Phoenix musicians

With fresh music from Taylor Daukas, Glue Sticks, Kylo Gun and more.
Taylor Daukas' new EP, "Long Gone," drops in February 2024.
Taylor Daukas' new EP, "Long Gone," drops in February 2024. Chais Renea
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Another year has almost come and gone. Generally speaking, 2023 was an interesting one, with some pretty great releases that once more showcased the Valley's sheer musical and artistic diversity. Sure, that bounty didn't necessarily prove as true for the year's penultimate month, but then the winter is often a tad slower as artists gear up for the deluge of new music in the next calendar year. That said, this November still had some pretty solid gems, be it earnest folk-pop, genre-blurring punk rock or abstract electronic experimentation. Because it's sort of like Christmas: It's not the size of Santa's bag but the love and quality that went into making these sonic gifts and toys.

Taylor Daukas, "False Door"

"False Door," the final track on Taylor Daukas' forthcoming "Long Gone" EP, isn't just a closer; it's a statement. The young Phoenix folk musician has said the track is "an invitation into a world of truth and purpose," which is part of Daukas' own desire to "let the music be just what it is: beautifully and brutally honest." We couldn't have described this slow, solemn track any better — even if Daukas' own words don't fully do the track justice. Because it's not just vulnerable and earnest; the track has a bit of heft and playfulness, and that adds a lush, almost cinematic quality. If "False Door" is just Daukas' opening salvo, then prepare to have your heart fully conquered when the EP drops in February 2024.

Soft Shoulder, "Snail Display"

Tempe's own Soft Shoulder describe the 16-track "It's All a Small World After" as resisting the "temptation to step away from remarking on the mundane," and list examples like "accidentally collecting cardboard (and) cutting your hand on plastic." What does that mean exactly? Well, it seems it's about leaning into the tedium of the world, and embracing all that small things that inform the true wonders of the world. You'll very much need that sense of courage and wonder to really get the most out of tracks like "Snail Display," in which the band blast the listener about the head and body with a cacophony of junk noise. But if you can accept this track for all its utter imperfectness, you'll find something generally engaging and uplifting. In short, do the work, folks.

Kylo Gun, "My Violence"

There's probably a good reason that local folk-punk musician Kylo Gun called their new three-track EP "Heart Music." For one, all proceeds from the EP will be donated to the Palestine Emergency Fund through the MATW Project. (For more info, head here.) And secondly, it's generally heartfelt and evocative music. Case in point: "My Violence." Yes, the song is informed by dueling energies/motifs (mournful cowboy ditty and lowkey dance pop), but from that dichotomy Gun is free to wear their heart firmly on their sleeve for something that's utterly poignant and personal. It's that kind of heartfelt expression that unites us all — and if a good cause gets much-needed money in return, then let's call that a win-sin.

Glue Sticks, "Lake Nothing"

The duo format/configuration is as essential to garage rock as the amp or the really uneven, angular haircut. (See Black Keys, White Stripes, etc.) Phoenix's own Glue Sticks carry that tradition into the future, and they've shown off their frenetic, overly enthusiastic take at clubs across the Valley. Now, with the band embarking on a West Coast tour across December 2023, it only makes sense that they'd have a new EP to support, the five-track, totally slamming "Celebrity." You only need, like, 10-ish minutes to hear the whole shebang, but pay extra special attention to "Lake Nothing." It may be the longest track (at three minutes and 30 seconds), but it's a display of all that's great about Glue Sticks: pulsing intensity, great guitar licks, and weirdo energy galore.

Death Gazer, "Pessimist Pisser"

If the music of Death Gazer sounds like it was recorded from a walkie-talkie built in 1993, you'd be closer than you'd imagine. The project's recent 11-track self-titled affair was recorded using an iPhone 10 and a Tascam Porta 02 MKII Ministudio cassette recorder, which is only a step or two above the walkie-talkie. But then that underwhelming, slightly ramshackle quality is the point, as Death Gazer's music is best experienced as if it's being played from equipment that's about to break entirely. Yet as a standout like "Pessimist Pisser" demonstrates, it's not just about the extreme lo-fi vibes; there's a joy and energy to Death Gazer's weird ways, and it's about cutting through the techniques for something generally exciting. Play this through a busted speaker and we promise it'll be a real good time.

non-a, "Daylight" (Aesop Bach)

Does anyone else remember 2004's "The Grey Album"? That's when Danger Mouse expertly paired Beatles samples from "The White Album" with various verses from Jay-Z's "The Black Album." (Get it? 'Cause black and white equals gray.) Though it may not prove quite as legendary, local producer non-a still deserves just as much praise and points for creativity with the recently released "Aesop Bach." As the title suggests, it's a blend of compositions from the famed composer and acapella bits from the equally beloved alt rapper, and the result is eclectic and brilliantly bizarre. Like "Daylight," in which Aesop's kinetic flow is made all the more robust thanks to all those lush, elegant strings. One thing is clear: The world still needs truly great mashup albums.

Musique Machine, "not my cross to bear"

If you're named Bea Bohannon, and you write and record under the name Musique Machine, we'd assume something decidedly joyous and whimsical. Instead, Bohannon describes her music as "mutant disco/synth pop," and there's never been a more accurate and alluring description of the handful of music that Bohannon has released in recent months. That's doubly true for the late November/early December single entitled "my cross to bear." Sure, it may sound like dance music made from spare parts/instruments from some forgotten animatronic band (that's a compliment!), but Bohannon fills the song with deeply personal meaning and revelations. It's surely an experience to be had, and proof that no matter what you call your music, creativity and honesty will always hum the loudest.

Danielle Durack, "Shirt Song"


There's an art to balancing the joyous parts of life with its more depressive tendencies. The trick, as Danielle Durack demonstrates in her own music, is a sense of commitment and a wealth of passion. Case in point: "Shirt Song," one of 12 tracks the comprise the Phoenix-born singer-songwriter's upcoming album, "Escape Artist" (due out in February 2024). As she recently told Flood magazine, the song's a breakup ballad that's mostly about "feeling just a little bit better." So, whether it's her rich harmonies tinged with sharp disappointment, or the country ballad vibes as filtered through a decidedly pop-esque lens, this song manages to celebrate romance for all its highs and subsequent lows. Rarely before has heartache and having to rebuild one's life had this much overt shine sprawled across it.
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