Under The Radar Bands
Playing The Valley in July
A Bevy Of Acts From Around The Country Head To Phoenix In July, Including T-Rextasy, Sam O.B., Iji And Post Animal
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.
By Mandi Kimes
Special for Modern Times Magazine
July 9, 2017 — While the temperatures are soaring above 110 degrees in Arizona, bands from cooler climates are coming to the Valley in July. The Pacific Northwest is heavily represented this month thanks to Seattle standouts like Great Grandpa and Iji, a former Phoenix resident. While these bands won’t be bringing cooler weather with them, you can still beat the heat by heading inside to hear them play.
The other coast is also sending several interesting acts to the Valley as New York and Philadelphia bands like Beach Fossils, PALM and T-Rextasy head west in July.
Sam O.B. (fka Obey City) has a unique energy. This soft-spoken New York native is at once a producer, DJ, label boss, tastemaker and champion of the new-New York underground. He effortlessly handles each role with zen-like serenity. What started as casual experimentation and beat making for rappers and friends has evolved over the last 10 years into an unrelenting solo passion, resulting in a steady stream of soul-drenched bedroom music that avoids trends in favor of the enduring.
Sam O.B. is humble when it comes to just about everything, but his penchant for the sounds of soul, funk and smooth jams has instilled a vibe that has grown up alongside a rapid evolving urban musical landscape. The result is glossy, shifting music that seeks the weird, the unrestrained, the cleverly odd. His new music expands upon this musical background, but ends up being a truer reflection of his artist and spirit than ever before. He has continued collaborating with exciting new musicians and vocalists outside of his own solo endeavors. Catch Sam O.B. at Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix on July 7.
Sports is a band of wizards from Oklahoma, conjuring pop music spells for ears just like yours. People Can’t Stop Chillin, Sports’ follow-up to their debut release Naked All The Time, is a collection of pure magic that insists you take a cruise in your uncle’s convertible at dusk with nothing more than enchanting melodies and crisp wind in your hair to keep you company. Sports is playing Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, on July 10.
T-Rextasy formed in 2013 during the members’ senior year of high school in New York City. In May 2016, it released Jurassic Punk, its first LP on Father/Daughter Records and Miscreant Records. The colorful, garage-surf debut received praise from NPR, MTV, Stereogum. A single, "Gap Yr Boiz," was featured on a Rolling Stone list as #13 on Rob Sheffield's Top 25 Songs of 2016. See T-Rextasy on July 12 at Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix.
Palm formed around 2011 shortly after its members met in college in Upstate New York. The years they spent writing and playing when not in school culminated into the release of Trading Basics in 2015, around which time they relocated to Philadelphia.
Since then they've been playing shows throughout the country while they continue to hammer out their sound to be as refined as it is outlandish. Lattices of guitar language (provided by Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt) intersect the rhythmic organism characterized by the twitchy throb of Gerasimos Livitsanos' bass and the careless tumble of Hugo Stanley's drums, with a layer of disembodied vocals draped atop the whole thing. Emotional yet clinical, wild yet contained, the sounds they offer are equally bizarre as they are pleasantly pretty. See PALM on July 17 at Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.
Zach Burba started making music as iji when he was 15 years old. Burba moved to Seattle from Phoenix in 2008 and has been involved in the Seattle underground and DIY scene ever since, putting out numerous singles, cassettes, splits, and numerous full-length albums as iji, with an ever-changing carousel of bandmates and collaborators.
He has also toured as much as possible. Naturally, the music has changed over time—endearing bare-bones bedroom indie, dance-party synth-pop, tropical dub-dipped smooth rock laced with the sincerest of sax solos. Daniel Johnston and Jonathan Richman influences are present, as well as Steely Dan and Luther Vandross. Watch Iji on July 18 at The Trunk Space, 1124 N. 3rd St., Phoenix.
Beach Fossils released its new album Somersault on June 2 on Bayonet Records. It showcases a band in bloom. Charting into new musical territory with a refined songwriting style, it’s an album that captures flashes of life in New York grounded in personal experience. The band’s self-titled 2010 debut established a sound that was both minimal and enveloping. With Somersault, the group’s first release since 2013’s Clash the Truth, Beach Fossils have channeled years of experimentation into expansion and reinvention.
Augmented with more complex instrumentation, including string arrangements, piano, harpsichord, flute, and sax, the new songs offer multi-layered pop guided by sharp, poignant, and honest lyrics. Flowing between shimmering compositions and immersive soundscapes, Somersault evokes the laid-back mood of a warm, breezy city night, the air crackling with humidity and excitement. These songs pulse and pull, capturing a blend of promise and heartache. It’s beautiful and layered, a refined, sweeping creation that threads together numerous styles, textures, and themes into a refreshing, singular vision. See Beach Fossils on July 19 at Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. 2nd Ave., Phoenix.
Great Grandpa began in Seattle in 2014 when guitarist-vocalist Patrick Goodwin recruited bassist Carrie Miller, drummer Cam LaFlam, and vocalist Alex Menne to form a humble rock band. Inspired by the pop-sensible alternative rock of the 90's, and offset by a mutual love for noise and math rock, the group set forth to write and record its first EP. During recording, guitarist Dylan Hanwright joined the group, solidifying the lineup.
Great Grandpa began performing in the Seattle area in late 2014, frequenting the city's DIY venues. In March of 2015, its debut EP Can Opener was released on Broken World Media. Great Grandpa began writing its debut LP soon after and found itself touring the western U.S. and performing extensively in the Seattle area. Written in 2015 and 2016, Great Grandpa's debut LP Plastic Cough continues to explore the sonic territory visited in Can Opener, exhibiting infectious melodies across a range of backdrops, from quiet bedroom-pop to explosive, anthemic rock. Plastic Cough is out July 7 via Double Double Whammy. See Great Grandpa on July 22 at Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix.
Let’s just get it out of the way: Stranger Things’ Joe Keery (aka Steve Harrington) plays guitar in Post Animal, a psych-rock band from Chicago. Keery shares guitar responsibilities with Javi Reyes and Matt Williams, while Dalton Allison plays bass, Jake Hirshland plays both guitar and keys, and Wes Toledo plays drums. And just like all the greatest successful psych bands, everybody sings. While they’ve only been a six-piece band for about a year, their musicality and chemistry could fool you. See Post Animal on July 23 at Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix on July 7.
Formed in 2013 in Los Angeles, Froth first garnered attention with their its LP Patterns. Originally intended as a small-run cassette release, the album quickly became an underground sensation in the Southern California music scene, catapulting the band to local fame and prompting a vinyl re-release in 2014.
The next year saw the release of the band's sophomore album, Bleak. A more dynamic, adventurous effort, the record matches lush shoegaze soundscapes with driving krautrock beats. Froth toured extensively across the U.S. and Europe in support of the album, opening for acts such as The Drums, Tamaryn, Pond and Craft Spells. After signing with Wichita Records in 2016, Froth released its third album Outside (briefly) in February 2017. This time around, the band has dialed back the noise, revealing delicately beautiful melodies, intricately arranged instrumentals and some of their most experimental songwriting to date. See FROTH on July 29 at Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix on July 7.
While their high school classmates were preoccupied with quaint and youthful pursuits, the musicians behind Avi Buffalo were busy making an off-kilter pop gem that eventually bowled over NME, The AV Club, Pitchfork, the BBC, and numerous other outlets on both sides of the Atlantic. Like a lot of kids their age, the Buffaloes celebrated the end of high school in Europe, but instead of visiting the Louvre and Buckingham Palace, their overseas journeys took them to the festival stages of Reading, Leeds, Glastonbury, the Pavement-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties in Minehead, and beyond.
Leader Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg has lent his musical nickname—bestowed in childhood by a pal who’d picked up on his friend’s inclination toward spicy chicken wings—to this full-fledged outfit that works something like a solo project in the studio and then builds into a band onstage. See Avi Buffalo on July 30 at The Trunk Space, 1124 N. 3rd St., Phoenix.
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.