Japhy's Descent - "Bite Your Lip"
Japhy's Descent just released a five track monster rock 'n' roll EP called Senseless last weekend, and "Bite Your Lip" is the first searing single. After two back-to-back albums that were fairly concept-heavy, Japhy's Descent has gotten back to basics. Everyone I know that attended the show is still playing the EP on repeat nearly a week later. It's easy to see why with this song alone. It's probably Japhy's finest single in a while and it's also sexier than hell — which is not something I'd say about the singles from their last album. "Bite Your Lip" has everything, from a great bass groove, pounding drums, gritty guitar by Martin, and some of Travis' finest vocals to date. The entire song has this prowling, growling swagger that immediately captures your mind and your body. It's what rock'n'roll is supposed to be about, sexy, dangerous and seductive, you can almost imagine an over-the-top ’70s rock performance to accompany it, fireworks and all. I'm not one to usually enjoy the obligatory guitar solo, but the song has one I actually enjoy. it. You may want to stop by Pranksters Too in Scottsdale this Saturday night to catch Japhy's in the act and pick up their EP as they help celebrate 15 years of Mojo Farmers!
Snake! Snake! Snakes! - "Dead N Dumb"
It's hard to believe it's been five years since Snake! Snake! Snakes! released their debut EP. In fact the last single they released was over three and a half years ago. Since that time the lineup of the band has changed and so has the sound. They recruited Dan Tripp on guitar and traded in their polished indie pop for a revved up psychotic surf sound. Over the last three years I've only grown to love them more for their new direction. At long last they have recorded a full-length album, and last week they revealed the first hint of the highly anticipated Tranquilo. "Dead N Dumb" is the first sneak peek at the album — it's fast, furious and only 117 seconds. It's kind of the perfect teaser of what's to come. The guitars squelch and race at a breakneck speed, Jonathan Messenger's vocals come on nearly as punk as they do indie rock (think an angrier Black Rebel Motorcycle Club), while the rhythm section of Christopher Sanchez on bass and David Cooper on drums power the whole damn thing like a battery on overload. It's spectacular and all too brief. I got to see Snakes! last weekend play what was arguably their longest set ever and it whet my appetite even more for next year's Tranquilo, check the new video to see what I mean. The album release can't get here soon enough.
Sunday At Noon - "Maybe I'll Regret It"
Sunday At Noon has just released their debut EP called Burning Pictures and it's a pretty solid release. The cops were called on their release party before they even soundchecked, so that's a pretty great rock 'n' roll story to start off with. Sunday At Noon are Jack Vanderpol (vocals/lead guitar), Nate Vanderpol (drums), Brent Kinney (bass) and Dylan Welker (rhythm guitar) and their ages range from 15 to 25, which is pretty impressive in itself. "Maybe I'll Regret It" is their first single and video all in one and it's a hell of a calling card to the world. Everyone is pulling their own weight here and this is just catchy as hell, high energy rock. Listen to the frenetic drumming and realize that Nate is only fifteen and that may leave you a bit stunned. The entire band exudes youthful energy, but the thing that really gets me is Jack's vocals. I have been trying to come up with a way to describe them, they seem somewhat normal garage band vox to start, but as soon as he hits the chorus it's a completely different beast. It's that switch that hooks my ear every damn time. I can't wait to catch these cats live, that's for damn sure.
Ruca - "The Leavin'"
It's been a while since Ruca has put out an album. In fact Flow was released in 2011! Nevertheless, Ruca has been something of a staple in the local music scene for nearly as long as I've been writing about it. Ruca is set to release its sophomore album This Garden on January 23, but before this year ends they have released a single to showcase what it's all about. Ruca, the band is Ruca (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Jack Howell (lead guitar, harmony vocals), Jake Johnston of Scattered Melodies (bass) and Josh Montag of Scattered Melodies and The Wiley Ones (drums, percussion). There is an immediate groove to Howell's guitar that will suck you right in on "The Leavin'," but it's Ruca's sultry vocals that will keep you listening. The band is absolutely dynamic behind her amazing pipes and on this particular song she's got a Fiona Apple vibe that just can't be beat. I've been waiting for this album for a while, for the last few years Ruca has only appeared on record and at her best on Scattered Melodies albums along with the rest of the band. This is definitely her own show here and I can't wait to hear what the rest of the album holds in store. Though it's about losing a love, it's still somehow a steamy, seductive number in no uncertain terms with a brilliant hypnotic production. Simply great to the last note.
Spiritual Warfare - "Diamonds Of Your Youth"
I don't know if Joel Marquard was going for a record by releasing four records in a two month span, but it's what he's done with his Spiritual Warfare project. The entire collection is fascinating and each one is truly unique from the other, creating quite a diverse mini-catalog in one swift move. The last release in this series is a collection Marquard describes as "garage, surf, lo-fi, dream pop, experimental-slop" and it's called I Hope My Grave Is a Gutter. It happens to contain the most unusual song in the entire series, because "Diamonds Of Your Youth" is the only song across all four records on which Marquard forsakes the role of lead singer and hands the mic over to Rodetta (Ellen Werner). It's a bit of a lo-fi composition with flowing harmonies, an old time piano line and of course Rodetta's flawless vocals. The overall result is that it sounds like some rare track unearthed from Phil Spector era recordings by a pop group in the early ’60s. It's a simply beautiful song with a sweet sentiment, both wistful and winsome at once, which is not an easy feat to arrange. It's perfect, old school American Pop and if nothing else Marquard proves once again that he is a masterful songwriter. Now that he has left Arizona for some Idaho skies, he may want to check into a career as doing just that and seeing what happens. If done right, this song could easily be a hit for someone.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.