The Hourglass Cats - "Rainchecks"
After their singles last year were heavily indebted to garage rock influences, I was wondering if The Hourglass Cats had decided on a new direction, or if they would still make songs that had that classic Cats sound. I got my answer with their newest single, "Rainchecks," which has been getting some airplay on KWSS 93.9 FM's TMI Radio Show in the last couple weeks. This is The Hourglass Cats back to basics, filled with the sound that got their fans fervent in the first place. It's got that laid-back reggae rhythm, the fantastic 2 Tone-sounding ska horns, and of course, clever lyrics from frontman Cori Rios. It's also damn difficult to not get this stuck in your head with the catchy hook of "I've been getting rainchecks from all the girls, paycheck to paycheck is how I live this world." It is an instant THC classic and much more reminiscent of their early songs than last year's "Been Thinkin'" or "Be That Way." It's also just a great song with a high-energy vibe and even though lyrically, it's not that happy of a tale to tell, it's told in the most positive way possible. To be fair, ska bands like Madness and The Specials were pros at doing that as well, so they're in good company. The Hourglass Cats will be releasing their new EP, Portraits of Cats, on Saturday, March 26, at Rebel Lounge, joined by Ruca, Josh Bierman, and SYNRGY.
Blank Waves - "Looney Bin"
Over the last year I've been keeping my eyes, or rather my ears open for any word on new music from The Blank Waves. They've had a couple early tracks of psychedelic rock that I dug, but by the time I caught up to them it was a bit late. A couple weeks ago they dropped a six track self titled release on Soundcloud and I can safely say that it is a bizarre, and supremely psychedelic affair that begins with a tribute to Syd Barrett and ends in the looney bin...literally. It's a fascinating ride to say the very least, and it's something to be enjoyed with headphones, a bit off your head , late at night. To be fair, some of the record seems to be off-the-rails silliness, others so drenched in madness that you feel like you're going down a rabbit hole. It is the last track, "Looney Bin," that I find the most compelling. It actually feels like more of a tribute to Syd Barrett's songwriting style than does the opener of "Song For Syd," but it does bring the entire collection full circle, somehow, amidst the madness. The Blank Waves will be releasing their new record next Thursday, March 30, at Trunk Space, joined by Waytansea Point, Amadoo's Crew, and Eli Kruger. To get a taste of what that will be like, check out the live video for "All In You," which is oddly, not on the new release.
Devil Grass - "In The Cut"
Devil Grass has been kicking up some dust around town lately, and just as I became curious enough about them to check them out, they dropped a video for their first single. They are definitely riding high on the alt-country vibe, but they've got enough of an alternative rock edge that they could garner fans from either camp. They kind of belong to the growing camp of "Southwest Desert Rock," along with local bands Treasurefruit and The Desert Beats, along with any other band that allows you to taste the Sonoran wind in their music. It's a pretty great debut song, and I'm looking forward to what their future recordings hold in store. Not only is the music a pretty great ride, but lyrically there are some great lines and some surprising depth here as it tells the tale of lost love, but it's more of a reminder to keep your dreams alive even though those who inspired them may no longer be with you. At least that's what I get out of vivid imagery like "In the cut I'll lay and lick my wounds / Gonna make my way where the heartache blooms." I'll be very interested to see what Michael Roberts, Joshua Motley, Bernard LeVautour, and Craig Codvington do next as Devil Grass.
VNITI - "Fall"
On a rare, terrible day I didn't want to hear any more music, but a friend shifted my mood as soon as I decided that. Immediately after, I pulled up the browser window that has all the recent records I've been sent, but haven't listened to, and for some reason I clicked on the new EP Kala from VNITI, and it was exactly what I needed. This is some truly unusual and stunning music. It's a nine-track EP that clocks in at just over 20 minutes. There are lots of experimental link tracks like "Papago," "Drought," and "Cielo" that provide beginning, ends, and interludes to the songs, but it was the first actual song on the record, "Fall," that caught my attention and blew whatever bad mood I had been having clear away like the desert wind. VNITI's music seems to have as much in common with classical music as it does with hip-hop or African tribal compositions. The arrangements by VNITI (pronounced "Unity") are stark and fascinating; in fact, it was a toss up between sharing this song or "Entropy," which immediately follows it on Kala. This is what caught my ear, though, and I highly recommend checking out the entire record, because it is a refreshing work that will command your solid attention from beginning to end. Seriously, I listened to it three times in a row after I first heard it.
Fits - "Commandment"
Fits are a brand new band on the scene, and they just posted a first single a few weeks ago. They are so new, in fact, that I couldn't find any information on them at all. Their website is under construction; I couldn't find a Facebook page. But they've put out a single and a song for the NPR Tiny Desk Concert series. They've also been playing quite a few shows around town and that reminded me to check them out. "Commandment" is a pretty impressive debut single featuring Raquel Willand bursting on the scene with an outstanding voice. It's a pretty traditional alt-rock song with an emphasis on "pretty." Maybe it's the delicate guitar work, or the warm bass line, or the laid-back drums, or maybe it's that voice — I'm not sure, but this is a damn inviting song to daydream to as you listen to it over and over again. Willand's voice comes across as Sheryl Crow meets Carly Simon, which is a lush combination, to say the very least. I am looking forward to hearing more from Fits, catching them live and maybe finding out more about the band itself. Still, if this is their debut song, I can't imagine what they'll be doing after playing a hundred shows or so. Stay tuned to Fits to find out.
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.