Five Phoenix Albums
That Should Not Be Ignored
Small Leaks Sink Ships, Wolvves, decker., The Ricardos, And The Stakes Have All Dropped New Albums In The Early Part Of 2015 And So Far It’s Looking Like A Good Year For Phoenix Music
By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine
Feb. 25, 2015 — The Phoenix music landscape is really growing thanks to the efforts of our local promoters like Stateside Presents and Luckyman who are really starting to bolster a local-festival culture that is luring tons of huge mainstream acts into area. The best part of that synergy is that mainstream acts are attracting more casual fans to the shows, which in turn highlights the tremendous local acts.
But all of the work the promoters have been doing would be for naught if our local musicians weren’t working their asses off everyday to build a music scene that interests more and more Phoenicians. The amazing events that local bands are putting together sans budget are truly astounding, not to mention the tremendous recordings they put out.
Now that we have finally gotten past “the New Year” part of 2015, it’s time to settle into the year with some fabulous music. The heart of the year may just be getting underway but some of the best music that will be released in the Phoenix metro has already come out. The music in the Phoenix metro is really eclectic so I did my best to feature a wide variety of Phoenix based musical stylings.
Face Yourself and Remove Your Sandals - Small Leaks Sink Ships
Full disclosure right off the bat, I do public relations work for Small Leaks Sink Ships. I do not get paid by them to do it. I do it because the first time I ever listened to them was a life changing experience for me, an experience that has never been duplicated until the first time I listened to Face Yourself and Remove Your Sandals all the way through. There is more raw power and energy behind this record than any album I can remember. The album opens with the toweringly grand, “Power Outage” and keeps the orchestral post-rock thunder rolling all the way through out. The second song on the album, “Midnight Jin,” actually has a recordings from the hospital equipment that kept members Judd Hancock and Ryan Garner alive during their respective brushes with death by way of cancer and car accident. Haunting is the only word befitting of the track. “Orchis,” “Snowball Fight Attack Formation,” “We All Die” “Building Blocks” and “The Devil Is In The Desert,” make up the heart of the album and each one brings a different sound while still fitting into the overarching mold of being a psychedelic math rock masterpiece. Before the 9-minute long epic sonnet that is “The Mind is its Own Place,” a song I cannot listen to all the way through without crying, ties it all together in the end.
Whatever - Wolvves
If you weren’t mad at them before you certainly will be now, because Wolvves is calling it quits on a masterwork. Whatever is so punk that even with the dream-pop like effect the band put over all of the music it still bleeds punk rock. Front man Aydin Immortal is coming at their music from a different perspective than any musician in town and the results are just staggering. The title Whatever may make it seem like they don’t care about the album, but the truth is they just don’t care what you (or I) think about it, cause they know how good it is. The first three songs “Werewolves,” “Atlas” and “Swayze” are garage-rock songs not too dissimilar from their earlier work, but with a far more indie-pop sound. But then on track four they switch the script with “Sage” and go full hip-hop with Immortal dropping dope bars on a psychedelic funk beat provided by brother Zach and Isaac Parker and Max Martinez. “Throwing Up Blood,” is a pure punk song, while the next two “Blue Noon” and “Fine” both come off more as surf punk. Track eight, “Lamb,” is easily the best song Wolvves has ever written. It’s only three minutes and thirty nine seconds long but it is an entire musical experience, it’s hip-hop lyrics spat over a indie rock song, with punk sensibilities, it really feels like everything Wolvves is. The album closes with “Wolf Gays,” and instrumental prologue of sorts.
Patsy - decker.
Patsy was only to be an E.P. once upon a time. It would be a vehicle to release the nine minute musical voyage “Cellars,” and a few other singles. Then it evolved into a project of passion for frontman Brandon Decker and it’s unbelievable. It starts on a 14 second intro called “Saigon” before going into the album’s pop single “O.D.B.” which is a little country, but it’s still a fun folk song with choir to back him up. “5 Oscillations” is more like psychedelic vamping than a song but it acts sort of an intro into “Esther Mofet,” “Spades,” and “Patsy” which are all psychedelic folk tunes right out of decker.’s wheelhouse but with more rock ‘n roll than tracks off 2012’s Slider. “O’Death” is the ninth track and it is just completely different than the rest of the album. It’s bluesy, and jazzy, but still undeniably folk. It has the feeling of a song a that came from an earlier time and the choir’s parts during the chorus are just impossible not to sing along too. “Cellars” is more of an event than a song. It’s just so big and so all encompassing of sound and genre and it ought to be at nine minutes twenty four seconds. Then the album closes on the soulful hymn of the “Ol’ Dirty Revival.”
Pest - The Ricardos
Garage rock is meant for the youth and The Ricardos, many of whom are still in high school, make it really well. Their new record Pest is just awesome. It has that gritty, lo-fi sound to the vocals and guitars, and while it doesn’t necessarily sound as professional as some other bands, but I bet they didn’t spend half the money, and I bet those pro-bands don’t have half the talent of The Ricardos. The opening track “I Won’t Wait,” shows clear influence from The Strokes but not like they are swag jacking the legendary garage rockers. More like paying homage.”Rock ‘N Roll Animal” and “Pretty Devil’s” have more classic garage rock sound to them, “Rock “N Roll Animal” errs more towards a psychedelic almost Los Pucho esque vibe to it. While “Pretty Devils” has harder guitars and is less psyche. “Vicki is a five course meal” almost sounds like a Jimi Hendrix song in the instrumentation, but then the singing makes it almost punk. The album closes on “Return of the shirt” which is the most punk of all of the tracks on the album and the bassline almost makes it sound like a ska song.
The Stakes Music Vol. 1 - The Stakes
The Stakes have been around since 2012 but this is their first album and it seems like it came at just the right time. The group obviously had a good feel for each other when they dropped the record and it’s their feel for each other that makes it so special. Each member of the group plays off one another so well to create some of the most complex hip - hop possible both lyrically and musically. If you were to eliminate the two lyricists Zeedubb and Lord Kash what you would be left with is one of the most exciting jazz funk and R&B fusion bands in town. But with the two dynamic M.C.’s The Stakes are a full band hip-hop dynamo primed to blow at any second. Their album opens with one of their strongest tracks “Hi LO” the song really shows off everything they've got and they keep giving it to you with the next two tracks “The Chamber” and “Xtra Life.” Before the album's first single “Can’t get you out of my head,” which heavily features the vocals of singer Holly Pyle. Before it closes off with more jazz infused jams “The Root” and “Flashlight.”
Jeff Moses a senior contributor at Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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