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.
The Breaking Pattern - "Something/Anything"
I was beginning to wonder if The Breaking Pattern were going to turn every song on their debut album There Are Roadmaps In Our Veins into either a single, video, or both. The songs on the album certainly lend themselves to that pretty readily, so why shouldn't they? Last week TBP released the video single "Something/Anything," sort of the centerpiece of the album. It tells a tale of an individual swimming alone in the loss of love and drowning in sorrow, uncomfortable in their own skin. The video is a stunner to say the very least, and it captures that feeling of insecurity and anxiety perfectly. It's adapted from a short film called Fidelity directed by Ted Willis, and it flips the script on what society deems as “normal” by creating a story where a heterosexual character is at school in a hostile homonormative world. He is caught drawing a picture of the girl he fancies and is bullied and harassed for it. I talked to lead singer Derek Hackman about the video and he said it wasn't so much a commentary on gay culture as it was on "the daily life and struggles of being an outsider." It's a powerful commentary on the need, not only for us to accept each other, but to accept ourselves honestly as well, no matter how difficult that may be. It's a powerful film to be sure and a beautifully composed music video. The song also completely rocks, with its church organ-like intro and blazing guitar.
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Andy Warpigs - "Faye"
Have you been wanting more music from Andy Warpigs since you memorized every word on Folk-Punk Yourself!, his last release? Well, if you have, you are in luck since Andy Warpigs just dropped the four track EP GEEK ROCK! To The Nations! Though, to be right up front, if you were expecting folk-punk on this recording you'll want to put that aside. The entire EP seems to be more akin to indie pop than anything else, maybe with a little punk edge. On this record Andy Warpigs, the band, is Andy Warpigs (vocals, guitar, angst), Andrew Attilio (drums), Lucas Skywalker (lead guitar), Jackson Bollox (bass), and Scott Mitting (production, synth), and it's a fantastic synthesis of sound. This is, loosely, a collection of songs that you might have caught Warpigs doing on his ukulele at Long Wong's Firehouse years ago. They've taken those songs and made them into full-band songs, and the results are pretty impressive, considering they were recorded next to a golf course at Warpigs place. "Faye" is easily my favorite, because it seems to find the essence of the entire project. If you were ever a fan of the Elephant 6 Collective back in the '90s, this will be right up your alley, because it is vaguely reminiscent of early Apples In Stereo or The Minders. It's straight up headbopping pop with fuzz guitars and a serious sense of fun. Warpigs has promised to be an experimental wildcard this year, so I'm sure this is only the first release of many.
Some Dark Hollow - "Jump That Train"
It's not often that I get a hold of a straight-up country record and listen to it for actual pleasure. Well, there is an exception to every rule, and in this case that exception is Some Dark Hollow and their new album Destination Unknown. I really enjoyed their debut EP Wander Wayward a few years ago, and I was excited to see if their full-length could hold my attention and my ear across 10 tracks. "Jump That Train" is classic country — it's not Americana, it's not alt-country, it's classic country with a locomotive guitar line that powers you through the whole damn thing. Some Dark Hollow is Jason Stinson (vocals, banjo, guitar), Joe Slater (bass), Ethan Pajak (drums), and Shawn Skinner (lead guitar, vocals), and together they make country music that recalls its classic rise in the 1960s and '70s. The entire album is great, but early on, this is my favorite track. If you think this might be your jam or you're looking for a totally different time, I would suggest that you stop by The Rebel Lounge, where Some Dark Hollow will hold a double album release show with Shawn Skinner & The Men of Reason, with support from Brea Burns and The Boleros, Speak Easy, and DJ Dana.
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Watch For Rocks - "Break Free (Queen Cover)"
I love it when local bands do covers under two conditions: A) The reinterpret the song completely or B) They faithfully nail it in regards to the original. I also love it when it's from a band I haven't heard from in a while, and in the case it's Watch For Rocks covering Queen's "I Want To Break Free" and choosing option A. I remember being impressed with them covering this live a few years back, but I never expected them to lay it down in the studio, since most bands don't bother recording their covers no matter how good they may be. The song has always been a favorite of the band's, especially with the fact that MTV banned the music video for the song, as all the band members were dressed in full drag. It is pretty ironic since the song is an anthem against oppression. On Watch For Rocks, they take to a "rockier" edge, doing away with the synth solo and replacing it with guitar instead. The results are pretty great. Lead singer Sarah Robinson delivers a great vocal, that is languid, easy on the soul and a bit sultry. The other star of the show here is Danny Foley's bass guitar, which plays here like a lead instrument, more than rhythmic accompaniment.
Asian Fred - "Kick Back Your Head/Ugly"
You might remember Fred Huang from Of The Painted Choir, the project that put out two amazing records before Huang decided to disband and move to Tucson. Had you looked, you might also recognize his name from his credits for engineering and mastering a few local bands records such as Twin Ponies and dent. For the last couple years he has been working on songs for his new outfit in Tucson called, appropriately enough, Asian Fred. While Huang has been posting demos for a while they just released a double-sided single for "Kick Back Your Head/Ugly" as their first official release. Both songs seem steeped in a deep fascination with 1960s American rock and pop with a decidedly Dylanesque bend, which if you recall Huang's previous band is a completely different musical beast. If it wasn't for hints of synthesizers here and there, you'd think these retrofitted pop tunes were lost recordings from artists trying hard to capitalize on post-electric Dylan's sound in the late '60s or early '70s. It's a fantastic preview of what I hope is only the tip of the iceberg for Asian Fred, because this kind of groove and the vocal drawl works perfectly for Huang. The band he has assembled is every bit as formidable as Of The Painted Choir. I spent a lot of time trying to decide which song to choose, but like dent's debut double single, I had to just go with presenting both here, because they are equally matched in quality and catchiness.