Mitchell Hillman listens to more local music than just about anyone in the Valley. He presents his picks for best new local music in his column, Right Hear, Right Now.
Dogbreth — "Steeping"
The release of Dogbreth's new album, Second Home, is getting close. The newest preview track off the album, "Steeping," was just released by Asian Man Records (AJJ, Diners) a couple weeks ago, and it's Dogbreth in all their indie pop, lo-fi glory. Once more national press has pounced on Dogbreth immediately, and the AV Club debuted this new track. Previous songs from the album have been featured in Spin, Stereogum, NPR, and more. It's not surprising that so many bastions of "new music" are quick to alert their readers to anything Dogbreth releases these days. They make laid-back slacker rock for indie kids, songs filled with undeniable hooks, wavery vocals, quirky lyrics, and a pop sheen that doesn't sound overproduced. It's a perfect combination for the summer, and this is going to be a poolside necessity for the remainder of the year. So take some time, enjoy the newest three-minute track from Dogbreth, and then think about pre-ordering your vinyl copy of Second Home when it's released on August 5.
Jackson Difé — "No Religion"
It's been three years since anyone has heard from Jackson Difé (pronounced dee-fay), but nearly as soon as I heard they were opening for Soul Asylum at the Marquee Theatre, I also received word that a new single was on its way. I was totally blown away by their debut record in 2013, but as soon as it was released, the band members seemed to scatter in the wind. Drenched in some deep, austere blues, the music of Jackson Difé has always been a fascinating study in turmoil and angst. Their new single, "No Religion" continues right where there debut album left off, as though no time had passed. Jackson Difé is Chris DeGreen (vocals/rhythm guitar), Tim Caggiano (bass), Brad Ekstrom (drums) and Adam Price (lead guitar) and while DeGreen left Arizona years ago, it appears the rest of the band has remained in Phoenix. I'm not sure if this is just a one-off single or if we can expect more from them in the near future, but their sound would be right at home with the local music scene in 2016 and could fill some missing gaps in the community. Regardless of those possibilities, "No Religion" is a perfect return to form and reminiscent of VS-era Pearl Jam slow burners. With the '90s coming back in full style, the return of Jackson Difé is perfectly timed. Jackson Difé will be opening for Soul Asylum this Saturday at the Marquee along with Painted Bones and the Sink Or Swim, so while a historically significant rock act will be there, it will also be a hell of a local showcase as well.
Some Magical Animal — "Stately Girl"
If you are looking for a glorious album that matches this season perfectly, I cannot recommend Some Magical Animal's debut full-length record more. This record has been a long time in the making, and while they've been one of my favorite rare live acts to catch on stage, their performances could only hint at, well, the magic they've put down on wax. "Stately Girl" was the first track I honed in on, and the song I think makes the best introductory single for radio airplay. Plus, if this doesn't suck you into the rest of the record, you may have no soul. While it's clearly a group effort, with Curtis Grippe at STEM Recording behind the board, this is Jake Greider's baby, and it's one of the finest debuts of the year. The entire album is absolutely intoxicating, and this song is only a dim hint of the inebriation of the senses that awaits you. It runs the gamut from indie rock songs like this to other tracks that recall Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams, Poco, and even the Eagles at their best.
Young's Modulus — "Selfish"
Young's Modulus released one of the best debut albums of the year last weekend at Last Exit Live, and the entire Somnabulist album is a fantastic romp through modern takes on the band's influences from the '90s. The opener "Laces Untied" is the obvious single, but we covered that months ago. If they are looking for an easy second single, I'd go with "Selfish." Young's Modulus is Mike Johnson (lead vocals/guitar), Ryan King (guitar). Sean Paulson (bass), and Tom Combs (drums). Not only do their songs just immediately lend themselves to live performances, their selection of covers is refined as well. "Selfish" is just catchy as all hell. Whether it's the stark guitar intro, how Johnson's voice comes into the track, or the way it takes off for the sky about 30 seconds in, there's just something magical about the way the song comes in toward the end of the album that totally sets my ears off for days. It's one of their finest moments on the record, and it's absolutely thrilling on stage. If '90s music comforts your soul, you will want to get a hold of Somnabulist immediately.
Cheap Hotels — "I Need Some Sleep"
Cheap Hotels are pretty much my new favorite thing right now. They dropped their debut EP last week, and this little three-song gem is one of the best of the season. They describe the Long Summer EP as "Summer songs from the summeriest of summery locales," which is a pretty apt description because the entire thing is like a blast of pure sunshine in your ears. Smack-dab in the middle of the record is "I Need Some Sleep" that completely nails the sound of the Strokes early on — you know. before they sucked. Cheap Hotels is Ian Wilson (vocals/guitar), Isaac Kolding (guitar/vocals), Zeynep Ayla (bass), and Jordane Raub (drums). On this particular track, it's Wilson holding down the awesome vocals. The day they released the EP, I listened to it three times immediately. I couldn't stop. This song is the centerpiece of the entire thing, and it's easily one of my favorite tunes of the entire summer. Also, the casual reference to Lou Reed immediately caught my attention. This is just fun music for fun people, so if you hate fun, you may want to pass on Cheap Hotels. But if you're all about post-punk beach rock, this record was tailored just for you.
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.