February 9, 2017 | 4:00am
DAISY — "Hear You"
DAISY is bracing to release a new EP, Beauty Of These, later this month, and in case the December single "Feel" didn't knock you out of your seat, "Hear You" might do the trick. Of the two pre-release singles this one is by far my favorite, but I'm not sure I can quantify that in any way other than that this song feels how DAISY sounds at their live show, if that makes any sense. It's still the glorious alternative pop that you've come to expect from this band, but "Hear You" also has a dynamism to it that makes it their most exciting release to date. To further convey the dynamics, they dropped a video for it directed by Chris A. Neal, which flashes between the band playing live and a kid getting his groove on in the aisles of an indie record store (Asylum Records in Mesa). The joy in the video pretty much sums up in my soul how I feel every time I let this thing spin. The combination of this song combined with last year's "Feel" really increases my eagerness to wrap my ears around their new EP, that's for sure. This is radio-ready material for the likes of stations in the vein of 93.3. DAISY will release Beauty of These on February 16 at Crescent Ballroom with The Ricky Fitts, Luxxe, and Weslynn.
Cover Art courtesy of Foresteater
Foresteater — "Big Deceiver"
Foresteater released one of the finest EPs of last year with Nightlife of the Exploding Heads, and though the band had started as a one-man show, by the end of the year, Mikey Pro had assembled a formidable live band. "Big Deceiver" is the first post-record single, and it shows the softer side of Foresteater, which is actually a refreshing shift in gears. It's still framed within wonderfully psychedelically tinged pop and a charming-as-hell vibe, but it's got a more easy-on-your-soul sound. There is both a calmness and a confidence to it. The production also has a lush vibe about that feels a bit more earthy and organic. As beautiful and reassuring as the music is, the lyrics are wryly vicious and clever for days. Usually before playing this one live, Pro will introduce it as being about "the biggest liar he's ever known." With that in mind the song becomes a humorous wonderland of dark-humored witticisms and seemingly specific indictments. Produced by Cory Spotts and featuring bass and drums played by Zak Bracy and Grey Smith, "Big Deceiver" is another brilliant single from Foresteater, beckoning musings of what the rest of the year will hold for this talented crew and their fans.
Photo by Surrealsister Photog
Vintage Wednesday — "Uncharted"
It says something to the credit of a song if you find yourself in morning traffic with a song vaguely playing in the back of your mind and you can't quite place it. I mean, you know it's really good and you can't figure out if it's a local act or if it's a deep cut from a favorite classic rock album. The melody gets you in the gut, and your mind races to find its place in time and space, but still it evades you, but it's there and there it will remain until you figure out what the hell song it is, teasing you on the tip of your ears. The song was "Uncharted" by Vintage Wednesday and it was my drive into Tempe on Monday morning. I went through about 15 Youtube videos of Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Linda Rondstadt, and anything rocking from Laurel Canyon circa 1973 — until I grabbed a book out of my messenger bag and saw my copy of Vintage Wednesday's Heartstrings EP. I played "Uncharted" 10 times in a row before listening to the rest of the EP. Their new EP is a complete testament to these kids' talent, but this song is the bar they've set for themselves and I have no doubt they'll surpass that measure in due time. Plus there's another single or two on that new record. This song is the pure synthesis of Vintage Wednesday 2017.
Upsahl — "Digital Papers"
It's been a stunning experience to watch Taylor Upsahl progress from her debut album in 2013 to the amazing growth shown on Viscerotonic in 2015. Now, she is set to release her third album Unfamiliar Light. This week she released the video for "Digital Papers." If this is any indication, this album could be a quantum leap in songwriting, accompaniment, composition, and clever lyricism. Upsahl has always been wise beyond her years, and the lyrics here suggest that she's still a decade ahead of herself. The song literally arrested me completely, stopped me in my tracks, for its sheer unexpectedness. There's a weirdness at work here and it's wonderful, unexpected, and welcomed. With Dale Goodman, Anthony Germinaro, Rachel Rinsema, and Ryan Upsahl backing Taylor, this song is the strongest musical statement she's ever made, and every second of it is fascinating. The opening movement of the song is the most enchanting, before it hits more traditional pop territory, because it sets the psychic mood perfectly for the rest of the sonic experience. Add to all of that one of the finest video directions by Matty Steinkamp and you have a completely immersive, completely engaging experience, enjoyed ironically through whatever electronic device you're viewing this through. Unfamiliar Light is one of the highest anticipated releases of the year and the release of this single just sent those expectations through the roof. Catchy. Hypnotic. Brilliant.
Ancient Egypt — "Canned Food"
Ancient Egypt have been tearing up quite a few stages lately, and they recently released their newest record PLAGUED. "Canned Food" has been on my mind since they released it online. It's just got this vibe about it that I can't shake. At the heart of it, it's psychedelic-tinged blues rock out of a garage, and every bit of it's great. It's like The Black Keys on acid, but with better guitar. Maybe it's more like the White Stripes meets the Flaming Lips. Maybe it's none of that. Comparisons are contrived. What it does evoke is the way a guitar used to feel in the late '60s, and it's got quirky, androgynous vocals suggesting a touch of glam, wearing a funk groove like a fur around its neck. Wait, is that early Krautrock in there? Whatever it is, it's one of their most compelling songs on the new release, and I have a feeling it will remain one of my faves for months to come. For a band that's been putting out solid records since 2012, this may be their best yet.