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.
Celebration Guns - "The Me That Used To Be"
Celebration Guns have been one of my favorite local acts since they released their debut EP, and the band's debut live gig at the Rogue that solidified the deal for me. Since that time the band has put out two split releases (with Twin Ponies and B.O.T.S.) and a full EP of their own. Now, they are preparing for the release of their next EP in September called The Me That Used To Be. In anticipation of this release they have just dropped another preview song for the EP in the form of the title track. "The Me That Used To Be" is something of a departure from their regular sound. If anything, this is the rare, softer side of Celebration Guns, no less glorious in any capacity, still with complex arrangements and a sense of wonder and overwhelming beauty. Once more, all members shine in tandem, with Justin Weir's vocals and dueling guitars with Chris Blanco while Ryan Miller on bass and Timothy O'Brien on drums hold down the rhythms effortlessly. If you want to get some of this live, they are playing first at Valley Bar and then Time Out Lounge this Friday, June 19. Their live set is always amazing and it will just whet your appetite for the forthcoming EP.
Bittersweet Way - "Not Sad Tonight"
There has been much talk over the years how Jedediah Foster's voice sounds like Morrissey, and a quick listen to any of The Bittersweet Way's songs reinforces this pretty well. To me, Foster sounds more like Murray Attaway from Guadalcanal Diary or Ed Robertson from Barenaked Ladies, but I can totally see where the Morrissey thing comes from. In the band's new single "Not Sad Tonight," they actually reference Morrissey, which makes it all the more amusing. The song is the first track released from their forthcoming EP Songs We Want To Sing, which is set for release digitally on June 30 and on CD at their Rogue Bar release show on the 4th of July. Truth be told, Foster really goes all out with the Morrissey nod here, and it is a great intro to a fantastic EP of songs that they decided to write in 15 minutes each. It's pretty hard to believe on this recording that they are just a two piece, but that's difficult to fathom on any of their recordings. Rumor is that they will have another EP before the end of the year. The delivery is mournful, but ultimately the message is positive. That's got to be a difficult thing to convey in under two minutes, but they've done so brilliantly.
Sunbeams - "Fire Balloon"
First they were called Sunbeams, then they changed their name to Warm Gunns, and now they are Sunbeams again. I still have no idea who these guys are and they never seem to play live but they have promised that more new music is coming soon. For the time being we have "Fire Balloon." If the Warm Gunns single "Double Mirror" was a retro psychedelic revival of the late ’60s, "Fire Balloon" takes the same aesthetic but with a much more modern flavor in the vein of Spacemen 3 or Spiritualized. Across the span of five minutes, Sunbeams drag you into their hypnotic world with easy effort. It is a hazy, crazy, druggy affair for its entirety. I'm not certain they do any drugs, but I am certain that this is great music to do them to. It is clear from the two songs released thus far that the band is educated on all eras of psychedelic music. Simplistic, droning, washed with feedback waves and breathy vocals this is music to lose yourself to in a dream on a hot afternoon staring into the backyard pool. I really hope these guys emerge from the shadows to start playing some live shows, because this music with the right light show will be absolutely magical. I am sincerely looking forward to what comes next from this crew, whatever name they choose to stick with.
There Is Danger - "Unless"
Late last month, There Is Danger released a new EP, Gold Mine, with a party held at the magnificent new Valley Bar. While the song "Youth" was the lead single, I keep listening to the EP and coming back to "Unless." It was a standout stunner at their release show. The show was amazing, and so too is the new EP, and after listening to it repeatedly, I have to admit this is my favorite track. It's definitely the most dream-pop song on the entire affair, and it also happens to be catchy as hell. For days after the show, this was running through my mind in the background. It's got a hidden hook that sticks to whatever part of the brain that clings to such things. It also may be a better introduction to There Is Danger than "Youth" was, but both tracks are equally great for completely different reasons. This is a much more understated tune that simply goes down easy and soothes the soul. This is a perfect summer song, and it's definitely going on my poolside playlist. There is an inherent cocktail sensibility about it that lends itself to a sense of automatic inebriation, if for no other reason than that it is so goddamn dreamy. One of this year's best indie pop songs by far.
Desert Beats — "Forgive Myself"
Not too long ago, I wrote about Desert Beats' debut single and the impressive video that went with "Nothing Without You." They released another song at the same time called "Forgive Myself," and it's every bit as good as the initial single. If you are unaware Desert Beats are Randall Dempsey (Snake! Snake! Snakes!), Jess Pruitt (Doctor Bones, Field Tripp), and Donnie Atkinson (Sun Ghost); together they produce some of the most vital desert rock going these days. This is just an all around perfect rock song, sprinkled liberally with Sonoran Desert sand and hot gusts of wind. Dempsey's vocals are a bit more histrionic here than on their first single and with great effect, giving the listener a better idea of what their live act holds for them at the next gig. The entire song is a much more aggressive number in all of its dimensions than other material in their early canon. One thing is for sure, "Forgive Myself" in tandem with "Nothing Without You" sure makes you want there to be more recordings as soon as possible. If you've seen them live, you know they have enough for a long EP or an entire album, let's just hope we see something like that this autumn. This is definitely a band I have some serious excitement issues about, and I think it's with good reason.