Foresteater — "Very Friendly People"
At the start of the year, Foresteater dropped its debut single, "High and Bright," with a promise of more to come. Two weeks ago, the band released the debut EP Nightlife of the Exploding Heads, and it's a fantastic four-song calling card to the world. In case you are unaware, Foresteater is the new endeavor by Mikey Pro of La La Lust, and "Very Friendly People" is the lead track on the new record and every bit as good as the single. It was recorded at Flying Blanket Studios, and while Pro plays nearly everything on the track, producer Bob Hoag helped out with drums and percussion. The results are a perfect EP to carry with you everywhere you go this summer. It's an indie pop hit in waiting, and it's as radio-ready as it gets. While the music is great, the star of the sonic landscape found here is Pro's vocal gymnastics and a flawless falsetto that liberally adorns seemingly every peak of this tune. There is a sweet, psychedelic edge to the entire thing, especially the bridge and everything that follows, giving a heady, dreamy quality to the tune. The transformation of the song as it goes on is the other highlight here, as it starts off pretty straightforward and grows more layered, more fascinating, and more engaging as it evolves. Even with the compositional complexity, at the heart of it, "Very Friendly People" is a pop hit waiting to happen.
Wolvves — "Bouquet of Lightning"
Wolvves just dropped their second new song this year with a video for "Bouquet of Lightning," and it brings us one step closer to the highly anticipated forthcoming album Paradox Valley. In February, they broke a year of silence with the surprise single "Ivory Drive," which came across a bit like a hip-hop crew using The Velvet Underground for their backup band. That sound continues on "Bouquet of Lightning." The first time I watched the video, my jaw literally dropped because of how iconic the video was and the magnitude of the song itself. This seriously ups the ante on expectations for the new album. The sound is completely in line with the vibe found in "Ivory Drive," with stunning guitar work found all over the place. It appears Aydin Immortal has a focused vision for the sound in the reformulated, revitalized Wolvves. While I love their early records, this single hints at Paradox Valley being a serious game changer this year. The art rock meets rap and soul combination just can't be beat, and somehow it's just damn fun to listen to repeatedly. The video itself stands on its own as a work of art only accenting the stunning soundtrack, with Immortal in particular looking like a man on the verge of greatness.
Day Before Plastics — "Hot, But"
Day Before Plastics released one of my favorite albums of last year, and hot on the heels of that late year release they just dropped a new single, cleverly titled "Hot, But." It's a slow burner, but an instant DBP classic with a great groove that has their patented melancholic whimsy. Once more, lead singer/guitarist Dominick Provenzano is right up front where he should be with his supremely distinct voice. He is, without a doubt, one of my favorite male vocalists in town because his style is so unique. He has this earthy, rough-hewn quality that I have never been able to nail down, but always seems to soothe my soul no matter the song. This is in no way discounting the bass work of Travis Snowberger or the thunderous drumming of Chris Zagami; they provide the backbone to this single on which the groove resides. The joy of the best Day Before Plastics songs is the various influences they distill into their work and make something completely unique from them — there are hints of anything you could name here, from Caribbean folk music to straight-out indie rock, and of course fantastic harmonies that have a near latter-day Talking Heads feel to them. It's not a new direction for DBP, but it is a fantastic extension of their continual journey in defining their sound and creating a signature style.
Soft Deadlines — "Means Everything"
Upon completing their full-length album Critic at the end of 2014, Soft Deadlines had two songs left that didn't quite fit on the album. Rather than trying to fit them in another album or EP, they decided to release them as a double A-side single, and recently dropped "Triplicate" and "Means Everything." Of the two, I have to favor "Means Everything" because it's tighter, more aggressive, and just a bit more vicious, which appeals to my sensibilities when it comes to indie rock. Whereas a lot of the material on Critic had a post-punk vibe to it, it was more in the vein of Gang of Four, while "Means Everything" has more of a sound that recalls Mission of Burma. There's a heavy, clever guitar hook that keeps raging right through and explodes in the last 30 seconds, while they create a juggernaut out of their rhythm section. It's also probably my favorite vocal delivery from Oliver Lemke, and part of that is the snarling aspect of it — that's where the tension comes in. You can catch Soft Deadlines on Friday, May 20, at RockBar in Scottsdale with Mill's End, Painted Bones, and i.am.hologram.
The Blank Waves — "All In You (Live)"
The Blank Waves dropped their debut EP just over a month ago, and shortly before that released a live song that isn't on that EP. I made cursory mention of it when I last wrote about them. I don't often offer up live tracks or songs that were released months ago, but this is an exception, because two months on I think "All In You" is one of the finest songs of the year. Granted, this song would not have fit in with the lysergic-drenched song cycle found on their EP, which is another reason it stands on its own and is worth a mention. I'm not even sure if the magic captured on this live recording will ever translate to a studio version, but whether it's the minimalist drum kit, the retro keyboard/organ work, or the damnably infectious vocals on this track, every moment of this tune will keep you grooving. It still has that tripped-out Robyn Hitchcock-meets-Animal Collective sound to it, but there is a catchy pop aesthetic that makes this a standout track. Since they posted this song back in March, I'm pretty sure I've listened to it more than 100 times. I never tire of it. That aspect alone is worth sharing "All In You," because I want everyone that loves local music to get an aural taste of this amazing earworm.