The Five Best Local Songs of July 2020

Valley musician Ari Epstein returns with a new project in I, the Tiger.
Valley musician Ari Epstein returns with a new project in I, the Tiger. I, the Tiger
The Valley's music scene is always in motion, with 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.

Robots With Rayguns, "Sumbody"

It's easy to assume that summer is a bust given the state of things. But as Valley electronic act Robots With Rayguns proves, there's still plenty of great seasonal music being released. The project's aptly titled new album, Savage Summer, is packed with nostalgic, super glitzy synthpop and electro made for sweat-soaked dance parties. But of the 15 tracks, "Sumbody'' stands out as a clear favorite. With its lush synths, sensuous vocal samples, and '90s-inspired romantic vibes, it's the perfect tune for falling in love or getting lost in the groove. Even if you're still stuck at home, it's a soundtrack to remind you that some moments are worth celebrating.

Treasure MammaL, "Online Dating"

This September, Phoenix’s most bizarre pop band, Treasure MammaL, return with their latest album, Grammy Nominated. And based solely on the first single, "Online Dating," we’re hoping that title winds up being somehow prophetic. As the band described on Facebook, the song chronicles a post-breakup journey into the world of dating apps and features both "real and fake" dating profiles. What all that translates into is the mutant love-child of The Dating Game and some off-kilter electro-rock song made by The Jerky Boys. Will this song help listeners find love? Probably not. It will, however, make you feel much better if you're already single.

Dylan Pratt, "Forward and Hungry"

Singer-songwriter Dylan Pratt calls himself a "traditional troubadour in the purest sense of the word," turning his musical travels into deeply earnest folk songs. His latest album, Fantasma, features a few standout confessionals, but it's "Forward and Hungry" that strikes at the ol' cockles with the greatest depth and efficiency. From the moment that haunted synth hits, Pratt sets the stage for a mournful-sounding tune that's likely about some relationship gone astray (and what's left to cull from it). The dreamy soundscape eventually opens up, with new instrumentation imbuing fresh warmth, but Pratt's earnest vibes remain a steady companion throughout. 

Sudden Daggers, "Blood Pudding"

Phoenix's Zombiewoof Records has a fairly diverse catalog, from death metal and rap to acts that blur all genre lines. For their brand-new Blackout compilation, which benefits the Black Lives Matter movement, the 33 tracks reflect a similarly diverse pool of local talents. There's quite a few standouts here, like Snailmate's snarling synth-pop jam "I Woke Up for This," El Two's more sentimental "Queen of the South," and Positivity Brigade's lo-fi jam "Guilty." But if you need definitive proof to drop a few dollars, Sudden Daggers deliver some extra chunky riffs and sneering punk goodness with "Blood Pudding." Consider this comp a way to both snag extra karma points and round out those outdated playlists.

I, the Tiger, "Wolves Disguise"

For years, Ari Epstein headed up local indie rockers Tigerface. Now, Epstein's fronting a new project called I, the Tiger, who release their debut album, Black Clouds, on August 7. In the lead-up, Epstein has dropped a new single, "Wolves Disguised." Epstein wrote, recorded, and mastered the entire LP on his own, and so there's a kind of directness and personal drive to this sweeping, deeply personal emo-dance-pop hybrid. But don't let Epstein's solo ways fool you: There's a raw intensity abounding that feels hugely universal in its scope. Just as tigers aren't able to change their stripes, this group builds on Epstein's legacy of solid rock tunes.
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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