The Five Best Local Songs of April 2020

DJ Pickster drops new and old music alike via his Gangster Flowers tape.
DJ Pickster drops new and old music alike via his Gangster Flowers tape. Jim Louvau
The Valley's music scene is always moving and churning at its own pace, with bands and artists continuously putting out new music.

We’ve collected some of the recent local music offerings that make the scene shine. Now turn 'em way up.

The Dust Jackets — "I Can Be Anything You Want"

The Dust Jackets had big plans for this year (but didn’t we all?). The garage rockers released their new four-song EP as an "introduction to what pop music should sound like in 2020" with songs like "I Can Be Anything You Want" shining bright. It’s a perfect distillation of Dust Jackets’ sound: slightly grimy garage rock powered by trash can-style drums and a deeply hypnotic bass groove. Who needs to set the world ablaze when you can just get folks dancing?

Pickster — "Blood Off Your Shoulders"

When the going gets tough, the tough release new music. With local hip-hop night The Blunt Club pausing for the pandemic, the acclaimed local DJ Dusty Hickman (a.k.a. Pickster) just came out with Gangster Flowers, a collection of "originals, remixes, and edits." There's plenty of dope beats across these nine tracks, but "Blood Off Your Shoulder" stands out. It’s the sultry love-child of Jay-Z, Latin music, and reggae. This infectious ditty is equal parts head-scratching and hip-shaking. Forget bootstraps; this is pulling yourself up by your dancing shoes.

Janelle Loes — "Criminal"

Janelle Loes cut her teeth in local coffeehouses and earned high praise from none other than Alice Cooper. With songs like "Criminal," it's easy to see why heaps of folks appreciate this Phoenician's pop stylings. This earnest lil’ ditty is indebted to her inspirations (think Imogen Heap and Regina Spektor) and exudes an air of genuine sentimentality that’s still entirely her own. This is music for anyone who wants to take a deep dive into their purest feelings.

Kennelmus — "I Don’t Know"

If you weren't alive and deeply hip in the '70s, Kennelmus were a short-lived psychedelic band from Phoenix. They only released one album, Folkstone Prism, which has been reissued several times over the years and is favored among hardcore music devotees. This June, Nashville’s Sundazed Music will release Folkstone via vinyl, further celebrating a weird and wonderful chapter in Phoenix's musical history. "I Don't Know" serves as a perfect preview of both the band and the LP, a trippy surge of sweltering guitars and jazz piano that transports listeners to the sixth dimension. It’s definitely worthy of (re)discovery.

Sleeparalysis Dreamchamber — "Dark Skies"

There’s not a ton of available info for Sleeparalysis Dreamchamber — aside from their location (Phoenix) and aesthetic (vaporware to a tee). Whoever they are, the project is already prolific, releasing a steady stream of music since last year. Their latest offering, the third in a self-titled series, features the earworm "Dark Skies." This droning slice of dark ambient won't convert any nonbelievers, but it is a great example of the project's mastery of sound manipulation. It’s also a stellar soundscape for being trapped indoors.

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Chris Coplan has been a professional writer since the 2010s, having started his professional career at Consequence of Sound. Since then, he's also been published with TIME, Complex, and other outlets. He lives in Central Phoenix with his fiancee, a dumb but lovable dog, and two bossy cats.
Contact: Chris Coplan