Choosing the best local music every month isn't always a picnic. Sometimes, there's not enough new stuff, and you're forced to dig around a bit. Other times, as was the case this month, a bounty of new music means making some genuinely hard cuts. Luckily, the end result is usually the same: a collection of great music exemplifying the Valley's diverse music scene. Here are our picks for the best songs of the month.
Ring Finger No Pinky, 'Blueberry Hill Gymnopédie'
Ring Finger No Pinky made a big, angsty mark with 2020’s Chlorine Bomb EP — not bad for a bunch of recent high school grads. This month, they return with a brand-new single, "Blueberry Hill Gymnopédie." Here, RFNP have stripped out of some their harder edge and sonic dissonance, resulting in a slightly more "breezy" garage rock anthem that still manages to bring the aural heft and intensity. Is this a great example of the band's desire to continually evolve and innovate? Sure is, but it's also just a great jam for summertime hijinks.
ROAR, 'Opposite of Flowers'
Yes, technically, the latest from long-time Phoenix outfit ROAR was released on March 30. However, given the sheer quality of Diamond Destroyer of Death, it’s only fair to bend the rules a tad. There's a lot going on within this 10-track LP: Not only is it reportedly a concept album — best for you to crack that narrative nut — but there's "songs hidden in songs." Luckily, you can ignore all that and enjoy some truly great indie pop, especially the standout track "Opposite of Flowers." Balancing the sweet and morose, the jangly and the overly dramatic, it's a profound statement by an outfit that can push boundaries in the most endearing ways possible.
Stylez B, 330Meech, and DaDadoh, 'Get Rich From It (Remix)'
DaDadoh's career in the Valley has always been marked by frequent collaborations. For his latest such endeavor, the singer/rapper makes it a family affair by joining with his cousins Stylez B and 330Meech (both based out of Virginia) for a remix to the pair's "Get Rich From It." DaDadoh's ceaseless mic skills are clear from moment one of his 12 bars, as he reflects the flow and spirit of his fellow MCs while maintaining the wordplay and pure energy that make him a Valley favorite. It's a great piece of pure hip-hop and a much-needed reminder that family bonding can still be a good thing (mostly).
Kareem Ali, 'They Can't Stop Us'
House music wunderkind Kareem Ali told Phoenix New Times back in March that 2021 was going to be a "slow" year for new releases. (For context, the New York transplant and former jazz student had 30-something releases across 2020.) Thus far into 2021, he's released a dozen or so songs, all via EPs or as standalone singles, the most recent of which is "They Can't Stop Us." Building the song's core around that anthemic tagline and overall motif, Ali has forged an earnest and uplifting ditty that would nonetheless fill a dance floor in a moment's notice. Forget any concept of "busy" or not; any new dispatch from Ali is worthy of regular rotation.
AJJ, 'Motor Away' b/w 'I Wanna Be Your Dog 2'
The last few months have been noticeably busy for AJJ. In December, the beloved folk-punk outfit dropped the excellent "Horsehair Vase" single. Then, in March, they unveiled a new live LP recorded in Glasgow, Scotland. In April, they added to the pile of new music with a two-song EP. "Motor Away" is a lauded single from Guided By Voices, and sees AJJ transform this power-pop jam into a blown-out homage. Meanwhile, "I Wanna Be Your Dog 2" is a favorite of the band's COVID livestreams, a hazy, slightly sentimental power ballad that actually feels closer to GVB than their cover. Whatever else comes this year, hopefully we can expect even more AJJ.