4 months ago


DAISY Beauty of These EP

DAISY Beauty of These EP THE WOODWORKS Au Naturel EP UPSAHL Unfamiliar Light EP DAISY took their time following up their 2015 debut, In Retrospect. At long last, Beauty of These has been released on the heels of two preview singles, “Hear You” and “Feel.” The singles kick off the affair and set the mood, creating a breathtaking introduction to the soundscape. It’s a whole lot of alternative pop that matches with Two Door Cinema Club or Bastille quite well. Both tunes have been getting local radio airplay, and with good reason—DAISY is radio ready for the alternative airwaves. “What If I Was” is probably the next single, and it has an exciting dynamic that is reminiscent of their live show, while “Are You Feeling Loved” is an uplifting anthemic ballad, with a bit of alt-rock pacing that is low key and effective. It’s hypnotic and seductive and is a welcomed break from the back-toback singles opening the record. It may be their finest moment musically speaking. “If I’m Telling The Truth” is a total shift in gears, dark and self-reflective, vulnerable and devastating in its delivery. “Dawn” is a breath of fresh air after the harrowing ride preceding it, and it’s downright beautiful pop. If it’s not a single, it’s certainly a showcase for the beauty and versatility of Anthony Perre’s vocals. I imagine there will be a deluge of videos for these tunes in tow, or at least I’m hoping so. On their second record, DAISY maintains focus and definitely sets a trajectory toward more hit-oriented territory. See them live for a brilliant introduction. The Woodworks have been one of the hardestrocking and hardest-working indie bands in town for many years, with three full-length albums. Au Naturel messes with that formula, being their first EP and a fairly acoustic affair. Due to its more delicate nature, this record becomes a showcase for lead singer Solo Lounsbury’s vocals. “Anthem of a Complex Creature” is the opening track, and all it takes is the fiddle work of Kevin Wiscombe to make Lounsbury’s guitar, Konstantin Bosch’s percussion and Steve Beer’s bass instantly sound like gypsy rock to rival Gogol Bordello. This has always been kind of hinted at on other records, but they totally go for it here. The downhome dirge of “Draggin’,” from 2014’s Safe Mode, feels like a modern take on “In the Pines” here, with the mood it creates and the layers of sound. Meanwhile, from that same album, “Oxytocin” gets the jazzy funk treatment it’s always deserved, with Kyle Woo of Banana Gun delivering some seductive saxophone throughout. Au Naturel concludes with “Rollin’,” which starts as a percussion wonderland before it reaches vocal nirvana—featuring most of Manic Monkeys, with Mike and Tiffany Hilstrom and Joel Ekdahl, in addition to Japhy Ryder, Danger Paul and Anthony Fama. It’s essentially a Tempe indie rock revival choir, or at least it sounds like one. This is an exquisitely Arizona-drenched track that approaches authentic desert rock. On this four-track gem, the Woodworks prove that they can do whatever they want with whatever they’ve got—whether as electrified rockers or down-home gypsy dancers—and the results are always compelling and addictive. Sometimes an artist’s third record becomes known as the “departure point,” and this seems to be the case with Taylor Upsahl’s stunning Unfamiliar Light EP. It turns in a more alternative direction, while not entirely leaving the singer/songwriter’s signature behind. On this record, Taylor Upsahl goes simply by Upsahl and is backed by a full band featuring Dale Goodman, Anthony Germinaro, Rachel Rinsema, Dylan Spitler and Ryan Upsahl. The stunning vocals are about the only familiar thing here. Otherwise, it’s the intoxicating rhythms and dizzying guitar that explodes from “Digital Papers” that lets you know that Upsahl is exerting creative vision. “Everlasting Trip” has an almost surf-rock vibe to it, with a Spector wall of sound effect at work here. “XVII” is a serious piano instrumental with classical overtones throughout its 84 seconds, the title celebrating Upsahl’s age. It leads into the cleverly titled “Good News for Bad People,” the centerpiece of the record and one of its finest compositions. Between the mesmerizing piano line and Upsahl’s easy-on-the-soul vocals, it’s easy to lose your place in time during this one. “Miss Leader” is a softer, acoustic number and a little more familiar territory for Upsahl’s voice. “Rotations” picks up the pace with a guitar line that Johnny Marr might be jealous of, even though it has a bit of Southwestern twang to it. There is an Arizona highway vibe built into this tune, which should probably be licensed to David Lynch immediately. The EP finishes with “Overdrive,” a quirky acoustic number, but with a haunting arrangement. This record is a turning point for Upsahl, and it will be interesting to see what’s next. 32 JAVA MAGAZINE Sounds Around Town By Mitchell L. Hillman

MR. MUDD & MR. GOLD Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold GIMPHEART The Gimpheart Tapes, Vol. 2 THE RICKY FITTS The Great Beyond Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold have been working on this record for three years, and it was worth the wait. This was the last record that the late Dan Somers (Lisa Savidge, Audiconfusion) worked on, and it benefited from his presence. 2015’s single, “Killing Floor,” was the first indication that the album was even coming, and still another year passed. At long last, the music is finally seeing release despite many trials and travails, which is a story unto itself. Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold is Jesse Gray and Tyler Matock, and they put out some of the best Appalachian revivalist folk music I’ve heard since Chickasaw Mudd Puppies and Flat Duo Jets. Amid some amazing obscure covers, like the aforementioned “Killing Floor” by Howlin’ Wolf and Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Bad Gasoline,” “Rex’s Blues” by Townes Van Zandt and Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s “Mole in the Ground,” are some phenomenal originals. The combo opener, “You Never Loved Me,” followed by “Ain’t That Bad” and completed with the locomotive pace of “Goodbye Mama,” is one hell of a way to kick off this anachronistic record. This album was produced in such a way that it could pass for radio chamber recordings from the 1950s, which suits the material perfectly. This feels like it’s designed for front porches, rocking chairs and whiskey, families playing along with washboards and hand jive. You get the idea. A lot of people can do this kind of music, but Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold take the time to channel the spirits of the past that they’ve exorcised and worked for the benefit of all. Last year, The Gimpheart Tapes, Vol. 1 showed amazing potential with a lo-fi release showcasing brilliant songwriting. Gimpheart has made a quantum leap on The Gimpheart Tapes, Vol. 2. This music could be just as handy for meditation as it would be to get high to or simply enjoy, like pop tunes from another planet. “Rotten Egg Hot Springs” is the opener—a psychedelic sitar-drenched song to mess with your head. I’m not sure this music is safe for driving, a sentiment reinforced by the unsettling dizziness of “Cheers to This Feeling,” which has a certain danceability to it. It would be popular on the astral plane or campsites at Coachella. Though mostly recorded to a Tascam, this volume has sorted out any previous sound issues. The calliope madness almost goes too far, but Gimpheart seems to know the extent of his reach and lands you softly, right into “Wonderful.” It’s synth electro pop at the most sincere, reductionist level and fascinating for being exactly that for a catchy three minutes. Too indie rock to be dance pop, too dance pop to be indie rock. “No Applause for the Drones” seems composed mostly of arrangements of drones—a foray into noise rock, with a touch of ghoulish horror movie organ work. Meanwhile MC/DC bring some raps to the indie pop charm of “Sad Songs are Playing at My House.” It’s a bit like early Modest Mouse if they had all gone to art school. The only thing that tops its groove is the grand finale of “Seeing You at the Bottom of the Ocean,” which is a modern-day pocket symphony. At this rate, Vol. 3 is going to change lives. What was originally planned as an EP has somehow become a full-length debut. After pushing out a couple key singles last year, this 13-track record came as a surprise, but a welcome one. The Great Beyond is alternative pop in all of its many shades. Instead of milking this into two or three EPs, it may have been best just to get it all out and start writing more while the groove lasts. There is no shortage of singles here, and this debut could probably last them a year or two, but with this kind of ambition you never know. Even if you take last year’s “Nightmare” out of the running, you’ve still got “Back to the Basics,” “Where to Begin” and “Got Me (Rollin’).” It’s a pretty fantastic debut, yet it doesn’t effectively transfer the energy and gutsiness of their live show. There is no doubt that the triptych conclusion to The Great Beyond is the finest sequencing on the album, but live on stage it simply has a greater impact. Nevertheless, “NTFL” and “Closer 2 U” are more singles to be had. It’s difficult to say if The Ricky Fitts are going for a revival of New Romanticism from the ’80s or if this is a genre exercise. It’s still a most likable record and an expansive release. Luckily, they’ve got a craft for perfect pop songs, so the album is succinct and engaging enough to keep you interested from beginning to end. This is only the beginning for this young crew, and it’s one hell of a start. This is a band whose evolution will be interesting to watch. Sounds Around Town By Mitchell L. Hillman For more on these events and other highlights of the Phoenix music scene, check out Mitchell’s blog at For submissions or suggestions contact him at mitchell@ JAVA 33 MAGAZINE

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