Sundressed - "Beck and Call"
It seems that with every passing release, Sundressed just gets better and better. Sundressed will release its second EP this year on October 23 through Take This to Heart Records. The Same Condition follows April's Dig Up a Miracle. I hope we can look forward to another full-length album from them in 2016, especially with the recent trajectory found in the songs released over the past year. "Beck and Call" is probably the band's best song to date. This is furiously paced pop-punk at its finest, the best-recorded vocal performance of Trevor Hedges I've ever heard. He puts all his heart into it, and the results are astounding. During the chorus, he is joined by Charles Barth and Matt Klassen of Saddles and Ryan Osterman (Owl & Penny, Holy Fawn) among others, and it makes it incredibly powerful in its delivery. The music is almost too good to concentrate on the lyrics, but it's a scathing attack on a self-obsessed person: "So who's going to be at your beck and call / And if you're always right, why do you need anyone at all?" It turns out the rest of the EP is every bit as good.
PRO TEENS - "Control"
PRO TEENS seemed to start out, in its post-St Ranger existence, with a pure power-pop direction. The group's recent recordings have suggested that they are veering into more psychedelic dream pop. Live performances suggest the same thing. I suppose the proof will be in the pudding when PRO TEENS releases its self-titled debut full-length album album on October 3. "Control" is the first single/video to be released from the album, and the track makes me eagerly anticipate the rest of the album. The song is simply beautiful in a dreamy, lazy summer day sort of way, and it lulls the mind and lures the soul with its shimmering, swaying guitar. This is cloud-watching music. Maybe it's perfect for release now, when you can actually imagine lying on the grass watching the sky listening to "Control" and not being scorched to death. The video, shot by Ben Backhaus, features lead singer Andrew Phipps appearing to be under the influence while shopping at Target. He appears to need some control as he helps himself to a bottle of milk, a cheese stick, and some snack cakes. He also dances in the aisles, lifts weights, tries on a fedora, and even tries out a hula hoop. I'm not sure which is more enjoyable, actually — the song or the video. Take both; they're free. Either way, this makes yet another reason to look forward to October, as I've been waiting for a long-player from PRO TEENS since they started.
Hollowfield Lane - "Normal"
Ever get a hankering for some DIY punk rock? Maybe something recorded in a living room or a garage? Want something to mosh to alone in your bedroom? I think I may have the answer to that craving: Hollowfield Lane. Jeff "Joneser" Jones (bass/vocals), Ben "Buffalow" Dominguez (guitar/vocals), and Art C. De Baca III (drums) are Hollowfield Lane, and they recently released their four-song debut EP, One Way, which rocks out, punk-style, from beginning to end. "Normal" is the lead track and obvious single from the EP, and it's a nice little introduction to what these lads are all about. It would somehow seem more authentic on cassette, but still it sounds like the tunes I used to skateboard to in my youth. It's crunchy, aggressive, and cathartic as hell. It will be interesting to watch this band grow over time, and while the entire EP holds its own, it seems a great starting point with a lot of talent that could easily grow over the years. They have a punk vision and enough of a pop aesthetic that the songs will cling to the back of your skull for a bit. And who wants to be normal anyway? You can catch them this Friday at Tim Finnegan's in Phoenix, where they will be playing with Cockswain and Reason Unknown for a Halfway to St. Patricks Day Party.
K- Dangerous - "Sweet Sorrow"
Last weekend, hip-hop outfit K-Dangerous dropped a brilliant 10-track self-titled album, and I haven't even had time process it all after repeated listens. One thing's for sure: After only one spin, the stand-out track "Sweet Sorrow" was stuck in my head. Maybe it's that I'm a sucker for horns. In this case, the horn sample that runs through the course of the song is downright hypnotic. In truth, it makes the song. The album itself is solid from start to finish, but this song has just gripped my soul. It's also got a great beat, and K-Dangerous' rap is pretty fantastic. It's definitely a late addition to my epic summer soundtrack. This particular track is produced by Orhan Silah, the only song on the record on which he's featured. This is some serious cruising music. My only wish is that it was longer — maybe K-Dangerous would be open to a remix that doubles the playing time. K-Dangerous' flow goes perfectly with the beat and the horn sample, creating one of the most enjoyable hip-hop tracks of the entire year. Lyrically speaking, it's something that we can all relate to; you know, "Sitting in the past looking back at tomorrow." Check out the song and while you are at it, give a spin to the entire album which is available on the soundcloud page in its entirety. It's well worth your time.
Action Jets - "Action Party Epic Fun!"
If you are looking for pure power pop fun in this town, Action Jets are your ticket. I'm talking authentic power pop in the vein of Cheap Trick, The Records, Flamin' Groovies, and so on. Their songs are all pretty much catchy as hell with hooks that you will be carrying around in your head for days. They are set to release their full-length debut, Action Party Epic Fun, so it seems in order that we give a spin to the title track of their new record that clocks in at just over two minutes. Keep in mind that no song on the entire affair goes past three minutes. It's a quick and rewarding listen, celebrating a genre that doesn't get enough attention these days. I've seen Action Jets a few times, and this song is always one of my favorites in their live sets. It also is the one that I find ringing in my head the next morning, if nothing else for the chorus alone. This music is just pure fun, music to dance to and music to give you a break from day in, day out drudgery. It's a little bit of sunshine in your playlist. Be sure to catch up to Action Jets this Saturday at Lost Leaf for their album release party, where they promise to play the songs from the CD and new tunes from the next release. Show starts at 9 p.m. with Serene Dominic and the Gemseekers, followed by Kevin Daly and Grave Danger, then Battered Suitcases and Action Jets!