The Five Best Songs by Phoenix Musicians in October 2020

Commiserate return this month with a powerful new single.
Commiserate return this month with a powerful new single. Commiserate.
Live concerts are on hold, but local bands releasing new music? That's still going strong.

We’ve collected some of October's local music offerings that make the scene shine. Check 'em out.

DOMS — 'Destruct'

DOMS have existed for a few years in the Phoenix scene, dishing out a jangly, slightly dirty brand of frills-free garage rock. But where past singles and EPs have mostly been the brain-children of guitarist Michael Tellone, DOMS get their full collaboration on with new single "Destruct." Not much has changed in DOMS' formula; this latest tune still hums with the grit and depravity of punk billowing out of some tiny dive bar. Yet the new influence of singer/bassist Blake Garmon and drummer Isaiah Gutierrez adds a new sheen of heft and professionalism that makes for a far more intense experience. See, teamwork does make the dream work.

Adam Simons — 'Strawberry Moon'

Adam Simons would have you believe he's another earnest folk singer in the vein of Neil Young. As a result, Simons' debut EP, Rain and Thunder, tries to build on that same kind of down-home emotionality. But as he demonstrates with standout track "Strawberry Moon," Simons is something else entirely. He's much more of a traditional pop star, and his angelic croon and sentimentality shine far brighter than any slide guitar or earthy undertone. Is there anything wrong with being more of a John Mayer-type than a Stephen Stills? Not at all, and Simons is at his best when he leans into those tendencies.

Sam Means — 'I'm on Fire'

This year was meant to see the return of The Format after more than a decade away — until COVID-19 went ahead and spoiled the party. But that didn't stop Sam Means from quietly dropping a new EP in mid-October (among standalone covers of Pixies and Neutral Milk Hotel). The five-track I'm Sorry is homegrown indie folk rock that wouldn't be unfamiliar to long-time Format fans. But as he proves with standout "I'm on Fire," Means is a solo star on his own. Whether it's the simple but infectious drums, those rich harmonies, or just Means' weird charisma, the song feels like a massive accomplishment and demonstration of a dynamic talent.

Commiserate — 'Supplement'

You may recognize Commiserate as one of our bands to watch in 2019. Since then, the four-piece have remained semi-active, including releasing the genuinely great "Grain of Sand" in January. Now, they've roared back to life with another single, "Supplement." This four-minute jam is proof that Commiserate can't really make up their mind sonically, darting between prog, country, garage punk, and general alt rock. However, what remains steadfast is their passion and overt commitment to weirdness (see lyrics like, "Brokenness between this world we've been deceived of"). It's all just more proof that Commiserate are a band to watch in this and every year.

dispozable — 'Diver'

People tend to associate the Valley with great punk and metal scenes. But there are also plenty of great electronic artists operating in Phoenix, and that includes the slightly mysterious dispozable. After releasing two great EPs over the last couple years, the producer returns with the 11-track The Big Drink. The best distillation of dispozable's dubstep-chillwave-ambient hybrid approach comes with "Diver." Marrying both a modern EDM aesthetic with warm vintage undertones (plus a dash of chip-tune), it's electronic music for people who never knew they liked electronic music.

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Chris Coplan has been a professional writer since the 2010s, having started his professional career at Consequence of Sound. Since then, he's also been published with TIME, Complex, and other outlets. He lives in Central Phoenix with his fiancee, a dumb but lovable dog, and two bossy cats.
Contact: Chris Coplan