If you ask Closet Goth frontman Col Bauer (and we certainly did), goth often feels cheap and empty as a scene. But Bauer’s no mere curmudgeon, and he’s using both his art and his platform to help others. Recently, Bauer unveiled two new charity singles: a cover of Ok Vancouver Ok's "Capitalism Is the Reason" benefiting We Are Navajo, and "They Live" benefiting Mass Liberation Arizona. It's the latter tune, described by Bauer as the "longest song I will ever make," that deserves a closer look. Because even at a dense seven-plus minutes, this track's undulating groove and dark sexual energy make for a readily accessible jam.
Mega Ran — "Pronoun Throwdown"
Mega Ran describes his latest offering as less of a song and more of a TED talk. A concise 47 seconds doesn’t seem like much time for deep musings, but you don’t need much when the message is pretty clear: Ask and then use people’s proper pronouns, you chowderhead. Yet it’s not enough that the MC has contributed to the ongoing dialogue of inclusion; he’s done so in a way that’s extra catchy. With its dense percussion and twisted organ sounds, the song is enough of an earworm to make almost anyone do the socially responsible thing. It’s sort of like Schoolhouse Rock! — just without the weird, sometimes creepy animation.
Jamee Cornelia — "Back Pay"
Jamee Cornelia describes herself as a "DIY alternative rapper" from Phoenix. But if you really want to know her, you can listen to YOU SHOULD SMILE MORE, one of two planned EPs for June. This punk/grunge rap hybrid is meant to show how "black queer folx are expected to be everyone's unicorn while literally facing trauma and constantly healing from said traumas on a day-to-day basis," she says. While all four songs deserve attention, "Back Pay" stands out. Here, Cornelia marries the personal and the political, delving into her life and pain via rapid-fire wordplay. It’s a song that demands your fullest attention with its unwavering truth and endless grit.
Ring Finger No Pinky — "Rat Soup"
The members of Ring Finger No Pinky are young. As in, all four members recently graduated from Pinnacle High School. But don’t let their shiny diplomas fool you; the six songs comprising their recent Chlorine Bomb EP expertly marry youthful angst with a cutting wit and sarcasm. Case in point: "Rat Soup," a crunchy post-punk jam (just feel that bass!) that lampoons a culture of perpetual self-love with equal parts absurdity and snark. There are parts of this tune that clearly highlight the band’s jagged edges and youthful inexperience, but those only make the band seem all the more endearing. Welcome to the real world — keep up the good work.
Before his rap-rock success with Linkin Park, Chester Bennington was a member of the Phoenix alt rock band Grey Daze in the early to mid-'90s. Now, that band has made a slightly surreal resurrection in the wake of Bennington's 2017 death as the surviving members have unveiled a new full-length, Amends. In addition to Bennington's vocals, these "modernized" Grey Daze tunes also feature members of Helmet and Korn as well classical pianist Jean Yves D’Angelo. Is it bizarre to hear Bennington's distinct croon from beyond the grave? Sure thing. But as tunes like "Sometimes" demonstrate, Bennington was a singular talent. His emotional and vocal range demands to be heard, regardless of the format or circumstances.
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Chris Coplan has been a professional writer since the 2010s, having started his professional career at Consequence of Sound. Since then, he's also been published with TIME, Complex, and other outlets. He lives in Central Phoenix with his fiancee, a dumb but lovable dog, and two bossy cats.