Harper and the Moths - "Nothing From Me"
It's been a pretty busy year for Harper and the Moths. They kicked it off by releasing their heavily anticipated Rock. Pop. Soul.
decker. - "Blackwash"
The only person paying more attention to decker. than me in 2016 has been Matty Steinkamp, who has had the honor of documenting the whole thing from the start. "Blackwash," from the decker. album Snake River Blues, has always felt like the heart of that EP to me, the crux around which the other songs swung around and one of the earliest songs from the record I can recall appearing in their live set. While it's not the title track, nor does it contain the pop elements found in the previous singles, it contains the unnerving, underlying darkness that permeates the entire record. It's probably the best synthesis of everything that went into Snake River Blues all in one song. In that vein, the video, once more brilliantly filmed and directed by Matty Steinkamp, is the absolute quintessence of this year in the life of decker., from the early stages of recording, to live appearances, crossing the country, constantly touring, and Brandon Decker looming above it all, a master of his own vision. It captures the essence of the song as well as the song captures the essence of the record from which it came, and there is some serious magic to that. The next step for decker. and Steinkamp will be the release of Snake River Blues: A Documentary of an American Songwriter, a short film that covers the entire project.
Playboy Manbaby - "You Can Be A Fascist Too"
Now that we have a president-elect who, from all outward behavior, appears to be an actual playboy manbaby, the release of Playboy Manbaby's "You Can Be A Fascist Too" is the perfect song for the time. It's been a live favorite of mine for some time, as have the quips and jokes Robbie Pfeiffer has made over the last year or so when introducing it. It's the opening track for the highly anticipated, absurdly delayed Don't Let It Be album set to be released early next year. It's a song told from the perspective of a fascist and delivered with no lack of sardonic wit. Musically, it's one of their most solidly aggressive tunes, and it's good to know the punk and the vitriol are still very much alive in the capable hands of the band that has been declared the Best of Phoenix. This is music for slam dancing and moshing in no uncertain terms. Soon, you, too, will be chanting to yourself "I am right. I am correct. If you disagree with me I'll get really upset" and laugh to yourself singing "You can be a fascist too" as you walk down the street watching America in its final death throes. Truly a song for the times. Maybe Playboy Manbaby knew what they were doing all along, as they have continually delayed the release of their new album in anticipation for the time when punk anthems would be needed most.
MRCH - "Glitter McQueen"
As MRCH marches on, they seem to become more powerful by embracing the "less is more" philosophy. Now, the group has pared down to the core duo of Mickey and Jesse Pangburn on their newest single, "Glitter McQueen." It's their first original to be released since the I Love You, But You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About EP came out earlier this year. While nearly every song on that record was a single in its own right, I feel pretty confident in saying that "Glitter McQueen" is the best song they've put out all year. As with most of MRCH's singles, the song also comes with a fantastic video that's as much nostalgic kitsch as it is glamorous wonderland, and it is every bit as visually stunning as their previous efforts. The song is also their hardest-hitting dance track so far, with perfect dream pop flourishes and of course, Mickey Pangburn's angelic vocals. MRCH is caught somewhere between the worlds of all-out dance music and dream pop, which is simply a lovely combination of aural chemistry. In the short time since MRCH emerged from the Prowling Kind, it's been a wonderful evolution to watch as a side project becomes the priority and that priority finds a significantly different identity. MRCH is still coming into their own, and this is the next step in that exciting progression. It's little wonder why they are attracting national interest in their clever brand of dance pop that is as alluringly fascinating as it is hook-heavy.
The Lonesome Wilderness - "Alright"
For a few years now, the Lonesome Wilderness have been dazzling their audience with a fine blend of indie rock sounds akin to the Dandy Warhols, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but on their new single, "Alright," they expand their sonic horizons to include intensely Beatles-