James Fella on Seas Will Rise, Nathaniel Nichols, Jimmy Pines and Washboard Jere

Welcome to the latest installment of our weekly feature, Sound Off, in which Jason P. Woodbury is joined by a different guest each week to listen to and discuss three tracks from local Phoenix artists. If you would like your songs to be considered for future Sound Off columns, please email music@newtimes.com.

This week's guest is James Fella, a Tempe musician, who in addition to creating shredding art pop with Mangled Men and compositions on his own, runs Gilgongo Records, which has issued records by Woods, Zs, Raccoo-oo-oon, and a slew of local artists. I met Fella at his place in Tempe, where we sat in his car and listened to a CD-R containing songs by Seas Will Rise, Nathaniel Nichols, and Jimmy Pines and Washboard Jere. That's right -- dude only has a record player in his place.

Seas Will Rise: This Teardown Town

Tempe-based hardcore band Seas Will Rise will release Disease Is Our Refrain on March, 6, 2012. The band will be spinning the album at Delinquency with DJ Johnny Volume on Tuesday, January 31, at the Yucca Taproom.

James Fella: Yeah, so that's Eric [Saylor] singing, right? Does that sound right? I played with Eric in the last version of Bullyrag, A.K.A. Fucking Thunder eight years ago. That is so a sound that he loves [laughs]. I would say he is finally doing a band that is as close to the first His Hero is Gone LP as possible without being a blatant rip. Which is no complaint. That's a super good recording. It sounds great; his vocals sound awesome. That's the best his vocals have ever sounded. He must be super stoked on that.

Up on the Sun: They tweeted @Phxmusicdotcom when we asked who has albums coming out in 2012. They tweeted something like "Check out Seas will Rise: Crushing hardcore." I asked how crushing and they tweeted back something really funny ["Somewhere between soul crushing and spirit crushing. But just under mind crushing but well over will to live crushing."] I like I like this a lot. It's short, and the drums sound great at the end, with the feedback squeals and the drums.

That would be within the spectrum of hardcore that I would be totally into. I hadn't heard that yet. More than anything, I'm so stoked that's Eric. He must be so excited playing that.

You are in a lot of aggressive bands, but there's a big difference between what you do and what this is.

Even when I used to play with Eric - again, it was forever ago - our band was more of a post-hardcore thing, much more melodic and musical than the majority of the bands we would play with. We were playing with aggressive loud hardcore bands. I mean, I think they all blend perfectly well together, but that was much more musical than most of my normal work, aside from Mangled Men. But I don't know, I think that was not too over the top aggressive. It's loud and thick for sure, but also, I listen to so much more insane punk or noisy hardcore were the drums are so fast and overblown that you can't even follow it, the guitars are just like razors, you can't describer it. [But this is ] beautifully structured, well written, aggressive music.

Nathaniel Nichols is a Phoenix based electronic and visual artist. His Cloud Cave EP is being released on vinyl Tuesday, January 31, at 602'uesdays at Bikini Lounge.

James Fella: Very beautifully done. I would say that falls right in-between the boundaries of a few areas of music that I enjoy a whole lot. Generally, I don't get into as busy ambient/glitch type stuff, but then it also has this trancey, new school Italian disco feel. It's super good.

You hit the nail on the head. It's not flashy enough to be on some Ibiza comp, but it's melodic and soothing. It's nice to listen to. The tones are really beautiful, some of the live synth taps into some nostalgic late '70s or '80s keyboard sounds. For a long time those sounds were resolutely not fashionable, and now they are bubbling back up into all sorts of stuff. I love melody, and there's a lot going on.

Absolutely. It's kind of on the outer edges of glitch. It wasn't really glitchy, but it just had these slight lags. It might be off putting to some people, but for me, it's really engaging.

It might be more challenging than the average trance thing, but it's still very accessible.

Totally. That has potential to appeal to so many different kinds of people. More mainstream listeners could find appeal in it, but I still feel it satisfying my desire for ambiance, and it's just enough left of center to click with me, or whatever [laughs].

Jimmy Pines and Washboard Jere: John The Revelator

Arizona based Jimmy Pines and Washboard Jere are releasing a new album, Ya Damn Hillbilly!, on Sunday, February 5, at Valley Fever at the Yucca Tap Room.

James Fella: So, two seconds into it, given my specific interests and background, I think of Calvin Johnson. Of course.

[Laughs] I told myself, don't ask about Calvin Johnson, but it's what I thought of immediately, and I had a feeling you might, too.

I could see Calvin Johnson sitting on stool, tapping a kickdrum, and snapping his finger and looking just so smug. And I would be totally fine with that. It's not a knock. My thoughts on that recording, I would so much more prefer for that to be recorded on a cassette deck, across the room, rather than so crisply, and even though the reverb on everything is so faint, by comparison to other things, to me I would so much rather have it stripped down, more raw.

But then again, I think most people would feel like an a cappela version where a man is singing along to a snapping finger and a drum beat is pretty raw. I hear that and I think of so many of those Numero Group comps and so many rinky dink basement recordings of traditional folk or blues songs.

You asked how old he was while we were listening. Do questions of authenticity come up for you?

No, not really. It's not that. He's getting something out of singing like that, and I think if he's going to put himself out there he believes in it enough. I think, I would like to play guitar along to that, like the early Gossip records. Just really noisy, kind of messed up blues. If you had that dude from Doo Rag -- Bob Log -- playing under this, that would be awesome [laughs].

This a bit of a departure from a lot of the record. He plays this really sly, trashy country novelty songs. But this one thing is a little different. It grabbed me more. When you do this sort of traditional thing, you have this thing that kind of simultaneously works for you and against you. It's traditional, so everyone knows it and it immediately feels familiar, but they also bring every time they've ever heard it, every other arrangement or performance to the table, so you've got that, too.

I even "know it," without really knowing it. I don't know the song, but you hear it and you're like, okay. The context of that along side a release that is apparently mostly jokey country music is like, kinda odd [laughs].

It certainly doesn't sound jokey.

I don't hear jokey, but then again, I wasn't there when he was recording it, he might have been fighting off laughter the whole time.

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