Paper Foxes - "Indica Feels"
For the first time in my recollection, three local bands have come together to put out a three-way split single in anticipation of an upcoming tour together. Paper Foxes is releasing their first song of the year since the release of their debut EP, Love & Schizophrenia. Since the release of that EP, with the exception of frontman CJ Jacobson and Patro Gaston (Zodiac Bash), the lineup has changed and now includes Uche Ujania on bass and Jahlani Ujania on drums. Since the realignment of their lineup, Paper Foxes have never sounded better, and "Indica Feels" is the first hint of what's to come. They still have the same fast-paced synth and guitar sound, but their focus and vision seems more consistent, their vision more focused. In this round, there is a serious Interpol vibe to the music, while Jacobson proves he is still the radically vibrant and unusually engaging vocalist he's been through all their releases. I have a feeling, based on this single and their recent live performances, that their sophomore record will blow their debut clean out of the water.
Bad Neighbors - "Fork"
Last year, Bad Neighbors' debut EP, A Conscious Collection of Unconsciousness, was one of my favorite releases of the year. "Fork" is the first new recording to see the light of day since that record dropped, and it makes me damn eager for their follow up record. "Fork" is the first monosyllabically titled song for Bad Neighbors, which is unusual for a band that holds a ton of songs in their oeuvre with fascinatingly long monikers. Martin Shaffer sings with a frenetic, near-spoken-word cadence, while Tim Allyn lets loose on guitar, and the rhythm section of Levi Hardee and Collin Fall pounds you mercilessly. The song was recorded live, and that actually works to Bad Neighbors' benefit. It feels like a performance, and quite often, their performances far surpass their recorded work in energy and passion. Here, it's caught perfectly, with Shaffer switching between microphones on each line, while the chorus and subsequent chant explode with perfection. I hope this is the start of Bad Neighbors laying down more tracks for their sophomore release, because they have an album's worth of material just waiting to be laid down in the studio.
The Psychedelephants - "Francis Rabbit"
You might recognize the first new single from The Psychedelephants since the release of their much delayed debut album, Asymmetrical Geometry, from late 2014. "Francis Rabbit" began life as a song by Freeze Ray Vision, a side project of frontman Danger Paul's from last year. Here, it has been given a Psychedelephants treatment and far surpasses the original rendition. It also serves as a nice stop gap between their debut record and the full length album they are about to start recording. The guitar intro, along with the percussion, now sounds like a journey into Middle Eastern mysticism, before it kicks into indie rock as Danger Paul starts singing and the guitar take on a more trad sound than found at the start. This was always one of my favorite tracks from Freeze Ray Vision, but this just has a composition and depth to it that it deserves and takes on a psychedelic mantle as it roams throughout its near five minute track time and as the harmonies join toward the end, it leaves a mark on your mind that may be permanent. I'm not sure there's ever been a more beautiful song about a snake eating a baby rabbit while its mother watches in horror. Actually, I don't think there's ever been a song like that, beautiful or not.
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Draa - "Losing My Charm"
It appears that you can add Draa to the ever-expanding list of local bands that are taking the shoegaze approach to indie rock. In this case though, they aren't blowing down the doors with walls of feedback and maelstrom guitars. This is the lighter, poppier approach to shoegazing, recalling the bands that served as a conduit between early British alternative acts like The Smiths and the full-on shoegaze roar of say, Swervedriver. Draa seems to have more in common with the C86 bands than anything from the Shoegaze scene, but the breathy, reverb vocals and dreamy guitars arrest your senses in the same way the poppier moments of Ride would sway your soul. While the other shoegaze bands in town veer toward the guitar apocalypse, and delightfully so, Draa explores the other side of that movement, with a softer pose and liberal injections of melodic intent. It's quite refreshing and though they hail from Phoenix, it is drenched in anglophile nods to jangling guitar bands from the '80s and '90s, yet it doesn't feel like a nostalgia trip. While "Losing My Charm" was originally released on their debut EP last November, they have just released the single version to accompany their new video. The video is directed by Freddie Paul, who directed the live video for Harrison Fjord's "Approximately 906 Miles" as well as the video for "People I Meet." Keep your ears open for Draa this year, and be sure to check out their entire EP on Bandcamp.
Meet The Sun - "Awaiting Sea"
Meet The Sun released its full-length debut album online at the start of this month and it's a pretty fantastic collection of indie folk music, experimental dream pop, and lyrical poetry. Meet The Sun is singer-songwriter Kayla Clancy, and though the album was recorded in LA, she's calling Phoenix home for right now. Some of the songs sound like poetry sung across guitar, recalling Nick Drake or Tim Buckley. It is a lovely listen for a mellow mood, especially on these wonderful spring nights, when there's still a touch of chill. It would also make for a great Sunday-morning album to wake up with over a cup of coffee. Nothing offers a better snapshot of Clancy's sound than the stark arrangement of "Awaiting Sea," which focuses on her voice and an acoustic guitar. It's a multi-part song, featuring the Awaiting Sea movement and the Topanga Breeze movement, both balancing each other perfectly with spare treatment that speaks worlds to this singer-songwriter's talent. The shift between the movements is palpable and obvious, but it's a transition that tickles your mind and pleases your ears. The entire album is worth your time, especially if this kind of beauty is your jam, but if it's not, try it out: You might be surprised how well this goes down and gets down to soothing your soul almost immediately. Meet The Sun is available on Bandcamp now, but tapes and CDs will be available this summer through a subsidiary of Burger Records.