Mitchell Hillman listens to more local music than just about anyone in the Valley. He presents his picks for best new music in his column, Right Hear, Right Now.
The Oxford Coma - "When The Levee Breaks"
In covering the local beat, I don't get many opportunities to write about covers. When I do, there's not much to write home about. The Oxford Coma unleashed its new EP, Paris Is Mine, last week and though all the originals are beyond fantastic, I was struck by the finale, a cover of Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks." I've seen The Oxford Coma perform many, many times and I've always loved it when the band throws a cover or two into its set. Needless to say, I was thrilled to find out that the band finally laid one down on record, and it's one of Oxford Coma's best. They take this blues classic and really make it as metal as possible. Billy Tegethoff's vocals and guitars are vicious, Jameson Mars' bass line is thunderous, and Patrick Williams' drums represent the pounding rhythm of the approaching flood. It takes liberties with the song, and the band makes it profoundly its own, which makes it a fun, yet nearly nightmarish time. The Oxford Coma is my favorite hard rock/metal band in town, and this is an amazing cover that it presents very much in the group's own voice. It is brilliant in its construction and execution every step of the way. Now just wait until you hear the originals.
Ana Log - "Believe"
Before they were Ana Log, they were performing under the difficult moniker of M0NST3R, and I welcomed the name change, but it's the same band: Melody Michelle (vocals), Mathew Lissy (guitar), Josh Bors (bass), and Jacob Reber (drums). You may remember Melody from PALMS, which existed a few years ago. Well, in Ana Log, she takes her voice to a whole new range and sings with tremendous depth. She's now in a band that is more up to speed with her vision and her ability. I've listened to Ana Log's debut EP countless times and I keep coming back to "Believe," which I think not only best shows off her vocal range, but also the band members' musical talent. It's at once a sweet, seductive number and a catchy-as-hell rocker. The strength of the rocking chorus alone had me sold on this song immediately. The entire band makes this one of the best numbers on the EP. Picking "Believe" was difficult because every song on the EP is great. Ana Log will release its debut self-titled EP on Saturday, August 22, at The Rogue Bar, joined by Japhy's Descent, Sasquanaut, Spar Afar, Shifter, Flight of Ryan, and Broken Girls From Affluent Backgrounds.
Fu - "Sleazer"
I have to admit that when I saw Fu for the first time late last year I was horrified. I mean, the band was really terrible. It wouldn't be a big deal, but I knew that the likes of Yod (Mergence), Jeremy, and Stowe could really deliver pretty fine music if they set their minds to it. I decided to forget the performance and stay away form Fu for six or seven months. A month or two ago, I decided I'd watch them again, and I was right, they had become something brilliant and exciting, both musically and visually. Now, it will be damned difficult to keep me away from their shows. "Sleazer" is one of the best local songs released this summer. The fan favorite is a stunning highlight of Fu's live sets, during which Jeremy wears a pig mask, Stowe wears a trench coat and a gas mask with a built-in mic, and Yod is Yod, the golden guitar god he's always been. But in Fu, he sings his lungs out. And I haven't even mentioned the group's elaborate stage setup. I love the hell out of this song for too many reasons to list, but it rocks hard and it's catchy. It appears Fu is working hard at bringing rock back to Phoenix, and it's most welcome. But that don't matter, 'cause I'm all right.
The Smiling Faces - "Home"
The Smiling Faces have an EP on Bandcamp called The "Too Many Mikes" Demo. I'm not sure whether it's really a demo, but it is a brilliant collection of punk songs that seem finished to me. The four songs sound dirty, home-recorded, and in the vein of, say, very early punk like Television or Richard Hell. On the whole, the EP is pretty fascinating. The highlighted track seems to be "Aisles," which shows off the early-’70s punk vibe probably better than any other track here. I have a feeling that Jonathan Richman would approve of every song here. The point is, the EP doesn't sound like a demo for the genre to which it purportedly belongs. I wouldn't want to hear this cleaned up or slickly produced; the lo-fi vibe is what makes it vital and urgently now. This is something that Pere Ubu would have laid down in the early days and kept it on the album. Peter Laughner would love this and it would probably be Stiv Bators' new favorite song if he was still alive. I know virtually nothing about the band other than that I must catch them perform, which will be easy to do since they will be launching a Tuesday night residency at Rogue Bar in September. It's a punk EP for bedroom poets.
Bearistotle - "A Bit Too Much"
Speaking of bedroom poets, Bearistotle seems to be one, but this artist appears to prefer alt-folk/indie end of the spectrum. As the story goes one day, a man woke up, he groaned and reluctantly got out of bed, but he noticed that he was walking on four legs. He also noticed that he had fur — lots to it. "A Bit Too Much" is the debut song for Bearistotle, and it's a startling stark number that relies entirely on vocals and acoustic guitar, and yet it feels emotionally and intellectually dense. It's a haunting tune that will stick in the back of your mind, something you carry around in your back pocket for when the sky goes gray with clouds. It's a fascinating tune that you may actually not like at first, but then you want to listen to it again. You still may not like it, then you rinse and repeat, and the next thing you know, you love it. Or you'll love it from the start, if for no other reason than the chorus is genius, with the amusing line "We never gave a fuck, and we're the worst with love / We said, 'Let's try this out.'" It's a wistful downer in some ways but with a romantic perspective and an upbeat guitar line. Complicated, beautiful, and austere.