Under The Radar Bands
Playing Phoenix In February
Editor’s note on Undiscovered Sounds: Every so often, Modern Times Magazine talks to bands or other musical performers who have yet to hit the jackpot both in the Phoenix metro and beyond. For some of those featured, it may be the first time they have been interviewed. Others may have been working for years for their ship to come in. But all of them have the dream. They may make Undiscovered Sounds, but their sounds are not unworthy.
Surfer Blood is an indie-surf rock band from West Palm Beach, Fla. comprised of John Paul "JP" Pitts (lead vocals and guitar), Mike McCleary (guitar and backing vocals), Lindsey Mills (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Tyler Schwarz (drums). While 2015 was a successful year with the new album 1000 Palms, 2016 proved to be a year filled with celebrity deaths, including the death of 27-year-old Thomas Fekete, the band’s guitarist who had left the band in 2015 to battle a rare form of cancer called Sarcoma that had spread to his lungs and spine.
Pushing forward, the band has announced the release of its new album Snowdonia, out this Friday. Combining the sounds of old-school soft garage with modern alternative rock, Surfer Blood continues to please me with each new release. The band will be performing its new tracks as well as old favorites at Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix on Friday, February 19th.
Bloomington, Ind. four-piece Hoops recently signed to Fat Possum and released its critically-acclaimed debut EP. Self-recorded, produced and mixed by Hoops members themselves, the self-titled EP includes infectious tunes packed with lo-fi vocals and jangly guitars, clocking in at 16 minutes.
What began as frontman Drew Auscherman's solo ambient project ultimately became a quartet in 2014. Named for hoop houses in the greenhouses which Auscherman used to work in high school, Hoops draw on influences from Prefab Sprout and The Clientele, and recall the idea of breezy afternoons and sticky summer nights in both name and sound.
The fuzzy, summer-ready Hoops EP follows the band's first releases, Tapes #1-3, which earned Hoops early praise. It will be opening up Tennis’ show at Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix, on February 21st, so get there early to catch dreamy guitars and feel-good jams.
Seattle-based feminist punk band Tacocat gained popularity in 2014 after the release of NVM, which received positive reviews from Pitchfork, AllMusic, and PopMatters. The humor and sarcasm in Tacocat’s songs can’t be beat, such as the song “Crimson Wave”, which discusses a woman’s menstrual cycle over surf-rock beach tones.
Comprised of vocalist-guitarist Emily Nokes, guitarist Eric Randall, bassist Bree McKenna, and drummer Lelah Maupin, the band released its DIY debut album Shame Spiral in 2010. After signing to Hardly Art (a sub-label of Subpop Records) in 2010, Tacocat released Take Me to Your Dealer in 2010, Woman’s Day EP in 2011, and a plethora of tour tapes throughout the years. The band released Lost Time in 2016 and is setting sail for a busy touring schedule in 2017, including a stop at Coachella. If you’re not able to catch them open up The Growler’s sold out show at Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix on Feb. 21, don’t worry: the band will be back in April.
English folk trio The Staves is made up of the three Staveley-Taylor sisters: Jessica, Emily, and Camilla. They began performing together at open-mic nights in their hometown of Watford, Hertfordshire, before eventually recording and releasing the Live at Cecil Sharp House EP and the Mexico EP in 2011. They gained a following in American during their 2012 “Austin to Boston” tour with Bear’s Den, Ben Howard, and Nathaniel Rateliff, which was later turned into a documentary of the same name by Marcus Haney.
After releasing the Dead & Born & Grown album in 2012, the band caught the attention of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who asked the members to join him on his Canadian tour. Vernon later produced and provided vocals for the 2014 album If I Was. Continuing with the partnership of Vernon and the Staveley-Taylor sisters, the band performed at the inaugural Eaux Claires Music Festival, curated by Vernon and The National’s Aaron Dessner.
With captivating harmonies, intricate melodies, and heart-wrenching lyrics, this is a songwriter’s show. Singers across the valley should attend The Staves’ performance at Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix on February 26th; and even if you’re not a singer, I still urge you to attend.
Oakland-based Hazel English makes beautiful blurry indie-pop flourishing with reverb and lush soundscapes. Her debut EP Never Going Home resonates strong in the DIY community as beach-soaked dreamscape set of tracks reminiscent of Cocteau Twins, Alvvays, and Day Wave (Jackson Philips produced the album). She has already garnered rave reviews from Gorilla vs. Bear, Stereogum and The Line of Best Fit for her hit singles “Never Going Home” and “It’s Not Real.” Dreamy and glossy, the vintage look and sound of English is best experienced live. Catch the hazy Hazel English at Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, on Feb. 26.
Dietary Restructure A family man decides to get a consultation from a nutritionist. But when he realizes that losing weight will mean cutting out food items like cheddar fries, he obfuscates: all in good taste, of course.