Right Hear, Right Now

Right Hear, Right Now: 5 Must-Hear Songs by Phoenix Artists

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.

Luna Aura - "Dancing With Your Ghost"

Luna Aura has just released her first single for the forthcoming sophomore EP Supernova, set for release in early August. "Dancing With Your Ghost" was written in remembrance of her baby brother, who unexpectedly passed earlier this year, and instead of it being a mournful tune, it's downright dreamy and uplifting in its vocal delivery. The single doles out more of her unique "cosmic dream pop electronica" in much the same vein found on her debut, but she is definitely polishing this style, honing her danceable craft a bit more this time around. With this sound intact I can see Luna swiftly swept into the higher pop echelon and finding commercial success. Her songs are catchy, likable, and above all danceable. "Forever is a dream state" is a haunting line, and so long as she keeps slipping in her own brand of weirdness into every tune, she has nothing to fear. I was at her return show opening for the Ting Tings and I was stunned at the enormous crowd's reaction to her performance, songs, and presence. Keep your eye out for the entire EP release this August. Her music has already been featured on MTV and VH1, while BMI has also noted her as one of their Indie Spotlights of 2015—she won't be local for long.

Sean Mullaney - "Get Mine"

Sean Mullaney's Bandcamp page describes his sound as classic rock, mixed with a bunch of other kinds of rock, which is to say, that this is just straightforward rock for the ages. Joined by the likes of Matt Foos (Fairy Bones), Olivier Zahm, and Greg Jacks, "Get Mine" is the debut single from his EP planned for release on July 18 at The Rogue Bar. It has all the staples of a classic rock song that hails from the 1970s, brilliant vocal gymnastics, searing guitar, and a fantastic rhythm section. The truly fantastic element is when, halfway through the song, the female backup singers come in and turn this song into a complete rock ’n’ roll fantasy world. I can't wait to hear what the rest of the EP has to offer, because the first taste has me super curious if it can maintain the power found in this debut single. It's exciting to find a sound like this in town and to hear someone pull it off with a flawless execution. It was produced at Electric Lotus Studios and it makes me want to investigate more songs coming out of there. Seriously, put on your headphones, sit back in a bean bag chair and rock out to three and a half minutes of solid rock delight. Let's hope every song on the forthcoming EP is just as well executed in every measure.

The Lonesome Wilderness - "Tropicana"

I'm a little high on The Lonesome Wilderness right now. I saw them at Crescent Ballroom last Sunday for a fantastic set, and I may catch them again twice this weekend at Pho Cao on Saturday and this Sunday at Yucca Tap Room. So my head is already in their musical Southwestern space. They are the most recent band to join Onus Records, and they are a perfect addition to that stellar roster. Most recently Onus Records released a second single from The Lonesome Wilderness' debut EP in the form of "Tropicana." First of all, I'm not sure how you can pick the second single since everything on that debut is single worthy, but "Tropicana" shows off a bit more of their range in the wake of "Cigarettes." Certainly it shows that they can play with Caribbean rhythms and guitar inflections, brushing a bit of the desert dust of their shoulders and maybe that's the reason. Nevertheless, the song is simply fantastic and contains a certain pop aesthetic, that while present in many of their songs, is clearly more apparent in this one. It is a nice tune to exercise the idea that they can abandon the Sonoran windblown sound to evoke a beachside atmosphere, just as well—maybe they just have something for sand. Whatever it is, it's pretty wonderful. It also happens to be catchy as hell, and if you dig it, you may want to catch one of their gigs this weekend.

Red Tank! - "Sovereignty"

Red Tank! has been on my radar for quite a while and I've just been waiting for them to put out a new record since I caught them live one night, or at least a new single or something. It's been just over a year since they put out new songs and nearly two years since their last album. Consequently, I'm pretty pleased that next week they will be releasing their second full length album I Want You To Crowd Surf My Body At My Funeral at Crescent Ballroom next Thursday, June 18th. The first taste of that is the lead single "Sovereignty", though, in all actuality, you can listen to the whole damn album right now and I suggest you do. This is just great punk rock in no uncertain terms, that per their email "deals with drug use, being enticed by the tendrils of late-capitalism, taoism, the delineation between self-actualizing and buying into a radical individualist narrative, and much more." Overall, it's pretty great and something to listen to as a cathartic release when you want to bash your co-workers brains in with a baseball bat. Somehow this will soothe your nerves and I'm not sure how that works, but it does. This particular track is delivered at a brilliant breakneck speed with no apology. There is a lovely, surprising bridge with sleigh bells and all, which just proves that these awesome punks also are pretty great musicians. Fantastic song, even better album.

Strange Lot - "Right With Your Pain"

I have a confession to make. I have yet to see Strange Lot live. Every damn time I show up at a show, they have just left the stage.  Still, since I last wrote about one of their songs they have released one of my favorite albums of the year in the form of Another Mind. While "Right With Your Pain" may not be their second single per se, it's definitely my vote for that slot after the album release. Let's just say that Strange Lot is my perfect conception of psychedelic garage rock—which is probably my favorite genre of music possible. You could slip this song into a Nuggets compilation and no one — no one — would be the wiser. This reeks of early dips of rock 'n' roll in acid, grass, and well-lit debauchery. It may well be my favorite song on the album and it's evocation of mod rock dancing, parties with insane light shows, walls with projected films and plush couches just comes through the smoky room and nights with wraparound sunglasses, drenched in serious cocktails. Seriously though, if I don't see these guys soon, I'm going to explode, inevitably, plastic like. They are currently my favorite band in the valley that I haven't seen live. This song is probably the best representation of why I feel that way. Because they are brilliant, because this is psych-drenched garage rock at its perfection. Because they are indeed a Strange Lot.
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Mitchell Hillman