Right Hear, Right Now

New Music from Harper and the Moths, decker., Playboy Manbaby, and More

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.

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. EP, put out some super-cool videos, released a brand-new single with "Lose My Touch" at the start of September, released the '80s covers Mixtape EP on Halloween, and they have one more parting shot for 2016 left in their arsenal. "Nothing To Me" is their final release of the year, and it's one hell of a way to exit 2016. This is possibly my favorite track from the band since "Chemicals" or even "Nighttime Tremors." It fits right in place with those singles and the sounds they began to explore on their Rock.Pop.Soul record, mixing rock elements into a late-'70s disco feel. It's got more swagger to it than some of their recent singles, and that's what makes it stand out. Plus, Harper Lines' hypnotic vocal delivery turns rapid-fire on the verses, and it's one of his best vocals to date. He's channeling his inner Michael Hutchence. Add the wild angular guitar piece, and it's almost rock 'n' roll. It's nothing life-altering or game-changing, but out of all the singles they've released this year, they've saved the best for last. With these singles and Mixtape in their back pocket, it will be interesting to see what's in store for Harper and the Moths next year.

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-esque psychedelia. To me, it sounds like that brilliant moment that indie rock met up with the Madchester and resulted in things like Primal Scream's Screamadelica, which is to say "Alright" is one of my favorite songs of the year. The Lonesome Wilderness is a band I seek out when I want to feel deliberately happy; this includes their live show and their records. They have a knack with their surf-tinged garage rock vibe that just matches the frequency in my mind for maximum enjoyment. The same is true of the bands who have influenced them, but somehow the Lonesome Wilderness coalesces everything a bit better, a bit more succinctly, and they are something of an instant fix, which makes me damn thankful they are local. The Lonesome Wilderness have a new EP called LUSH that they are set to release soon, and this is the first single from that record, but there are at least two or three more singles to be found on the five-track affair.

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Mitchell Hillman