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.
Numb Bats - "I Don't Know Why/To Die"
Here is a quick history lesson. There once was a band here called North Dakota, it was a lively trio that featured Emily Hobeheidar, Mo Neuharth, and Michelle Blades. Blades went to Paris to write a solo album and Hobeheidar and Neuharth joined up with Sophie Opich (and others) to create Numb Bats. Numb Bats in turn released one of my favorite albums of last year, Gentle Horrors, in addition to giving some of my favorite live performances of 2014. Come full circle, Michelle Blades has produced a video for Numb Bats' "I Don't Know Why/To Die." In less than three minutes, you learn everything you need to know and love about Numb Bats, their music, and the chemistry in the band. So, it turns out that, not only is Blades and amazing musician, she can also happen to produce the hell out of a video to show off her friends in fine form. Here, presented in all their cinematic glory is Numb Bats with a video for the two songs that introduce their debut album to the world. In my mind, the pure existence of this video, and for matter, these songs makes the world a better place. Enjoy.
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Mouse Powell - "Need That"
For as long as I've been aware of the brilliant local music in this Valley, it seems Mouse Powell has been pumping out great raps and hip-hop tracks. Granted, he's been doing only this since 2011, but it seems like he was always there. This week, he unleashed a video for what is probably his finest jam to date, "Need That". First of all, this song is impossibly catchy as all hell and it will be strolling through your head for quite some time after one listen. Secondly, the video is just great on both an erotic and comedic level. Take it as you will. Still it's a simply great song about running around and getting it on with a girl, despite her father's wishes or approval, and it's as magnificent musically as it is lyrically. I'm not sure how old Powell is, but he channels his inner 25-year-old chasing after an 18-year-old cutie pretty well here. This may well have been his life last summer for all I know. The video only adds emphasis to the story told here with great effect. I can only hope this is ramping up for a new album, because I've played the hell out of 2013's These Are The Good Times and I definitely need more.
What Laura Says - "Take It"
Over the past few months, James Mulhern has been slowly releasing the unheard tracks from the unreleased third What Laura Says album. The unheard album has become the local equivalent of the Beach Boys' SMiLE. So far, eight tracks have been released in all. Maybe that's all there is, because it's been a couple weeks since a new track has come out. It seems there were more than eight songs when lead singer Danny Godbold and I drove around endlessly before a show one sunny April afternoon, but it was a hazy time and I was lost in the music. All that aside, live favorite "Take It" is one of the most anticipated tracks from the album. It's a bluesy psychedelic number that has a cool little spoken-word deal wrapped up inside. It is quintessential WLS and years later, after the breakup, it still stands the test of time. They did what they did best, and there really hasn't been anything like it since. It does make me yearn for the days of sold-out WLS/Black Carl/Mergence shows at The Sail Inn, but at least we finally got the songs.
No Volcano - "Out of the Moment"
This is the second single that newly founded Onus Records has released from No Volcano's tremendous debut album, Who Saved The Party? No Volcano, if you are unaware, is the powerhouse product of local music veterans Jim Andreas, Christopher Kennedy, Jeremy Randall, and Jake Sevier. Together, they make some of the best art-punk-leaning garage rock on the scene today. The entire album is an absolute blast, and certainly the first single, "Tribute", introduced it as such. "Out of the Moment" shows a side of the band that has clearly listened to Television and everything that New York's Bowery had to offer in the mid- to late 1970s. Some might even mistake this for a Tom Verlaine composition. That's the magic of No Volcano. The band evokes a certain time, place, or band in rock history without stealing a lick. When I first heard the album earlier this year, this was one of my favorite tracks, but that's like picking your favorite single from a collection of a-sides, which is actually how the album comes off. I was excited this week that Onus Records chose this as its free single download, because everyone deserves to hear this and own it. Listen to it and then download it free of charge. You'll probably want to pay for the whole album after that.
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Captive Cooks - "Headband Blues"
Captive Cooks just released its debut EP earlier this month, a four-song affair that actually clears over 25 minutes. This is the joy of blues fused with jazz, rock, and anything else the band can find. It is an amazing effort, and the sound is immaculate, having been mixed and engineered by Thomas Laufenberg and assisted by Ryan King at STEM Recording. "Headband Blues" is the closest thing that can be claimed as a single, as it is the only song found here under five minutes. Still, in its relatively short run time, it shows the madness and extravagance of Captive Cooks in one fell swoop, just check out the ending, for instance. This is a band to keep your eye on this year, and this is an EP to check out. It's worth your half hour of attention. This song in particular has one of the greatest lines ever in a rock song, "Because I've been high as funk these last few days and both my lungs are a felony offense." The entire Kuatto EP (named after their keyboard player's giant neck cyst he had surgically removed) is a fascinating ride, but this song stands out as the most straightforward delivery of what they are doing (and doing right).