What is the sound of springtime? Is it slow acoustic guitars set to a pristine field of flowers? Or maybe a choir harmonizing amid a lush forest? All of those are probably bad answers — especially given the sheer lack of those settings here in metro Phoenix. Instead, as these seven very different songs demonstrate, the sound of spring is outright joy, a heaping helping of pure emotionality, and a celebration of the season's overt rejuvenation. Here are our picks for April's very best local songs.
The Deadbeat Cousins, "Heaven Help Me"
We've been talking about the sophomore album from The Deadbeat Cousins since at least August 2021. And while there's still little news from the local blues rockers, they have released what is seemingly the sixth single from that 10-track LP, "Heaven Help Me." This ditty is much more reserved, and a slightly stoic offering that leans toward crunchy alt-country. But when things get going, it's another massive, one-two punch of oversized blues and alt rock. Now, where's the record, gents?
The Darts, "Shit Show"
Phoenix's own The Darts play a direct but equally dynamic mix of surf, punk, and garage rock — all together infectious and danceable and still physical confrontational. That M.O. continues as the trio recently unveiled the excellent three-song Love Tsunami EP, which includes the standout track "Shit Show." Practically vibrating with sensuous energies, this two-minute jam marries a little '60s psych-rock goodness with some modern punk hijinks for a bona fide good-time jam.
Grim Moses, "Country Men"
Local Grim Moses first came to our attention with last April's Flowers for a Hater, a compelling, nine-track celebration of great Phoenix hip-hop music and culture. Moses returned in mid-April with the six-track PAISAN EP, in which he and collaborator K. Burns have "conceptualized bars mixing modern drama with the aura of a classic mob flick." For a clue as to what exactly that means, just spin "Country Men," which could be the soundtrack for a reimagining of Casino circa 1980s Phoenix.
Grey Daze, "Saturation (Strange Love)"
Back in June 2020, Grey Daze made some waves with the release of the Amends album, which featured vocals from late Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington. This June, they'll release their follow-up, The Phoenix, which they told Kerrang! sees them adjusting from the "shock and the sadness" of Amends and "back to gratitude." And that's evident in the LP's first single, "Saturation (Strange Love)": the band are clearly in a place of pure peace and focus — under all that crunch, of course.
Since debuting in 2016, luau have built up a decent following in the Valley on the back of music that balances "brightness and grit." Just recently, they linked up with celebrated local producer/musician Bob Hoag to record some tracks, including a forthcoming single called "Smile." In the meantime, though, the band have opted to release another track, "Wine." The band may just call this another "indie pop/rock ditty," but this giant alt rock power-balled encapsulates luau's true depth and prowess. Diva Bleach, "White Noise"
Don't be fooled by their, um, somewhat corrosive-sounding name; Diva Bleach make "sparkly pop rock." The trio's new EP, the totally excellent, confusingly-titled No Fun, is a tasty sampler platter of their pixie dust-coated pop punk. Case in point: the EP standout "White Noise," which blends equal parts over-the-top jangle rock with a dash or two of angst and bitters for a great musical cocktail. Who ever said that you can't be sweet and sour at the same darn time? Gnarwhal Jrz, "Champagne Rain"
Phoenix's own Gnarwhal Jrz are among a sturdy list of undefinable, genre-hopping two-man rock bands. And with a playful sound that bounds between alt and surf rock, the band's spontaneity means they bring the goods both on stage and in their records. That's certainly the case for their latest single, "Champagne Rain," which leans fairly heavily toward that sweet spot between '60s garage pop and '70s-style arena rock a la Pink Floyd. Enjoy the understated ride!