1 year ago



GOOD FRIENDS GREAT ENEMIES Esoterotica SCATTERED MELODIES Acoustics, Vol. 1 MR. UU Dark Avenue EP When a band you love that you’ve written about breaks up, you wonder to yourself, “Could I have done more? Should there have been more reviews? Should I have rented a billboard?” Good Friends Great Enemies have called it a day after over half a decade of putting out some of the best records this town has heard. It’s fitting that they released their final album with a party at the Trunk Space. It covered every era of the band, from their first album in 2012 right up to Esoterotica. The party was bittersweet on many levels, but most of all because their final record is one of the best and meets the standard they set two years ago with Cautiously Poptimistic. Still, it’s awfully nice of them to leave such a generous parting gift (along with a bonus short acoustic EP called Speak Softly). Right from the easy-on-the-ears opener of “Gets Real Bad,” you’re drawn to the way they easily combine springbreezy pop with complete existential dread. It never lets up in that way: whether it’s “Quiet Violence” or “Whattabuncha,” it sounds like single after single in the quirky, strange way that Good Friends Great Enemies has about them. Influenced as much by jazz as a pop aesthetic as low-key indie rock, the album is a daydream finale to a perfect story arc that began all those years ago. It also must be noted that this is another production from Eamon Ford, who has been hitting them out of the park this year. Even songs that aren’t necessarily singles, like “Zaxi Maxi” or the hootenanny of “Here It Is,” have fascinating arrangements. Nearly any band would be proud to finish their career on such a high note. Three years ago Scattered Melodies released their Summer Sampler EP as a fundraiser to cover the cost of recording their second full-length album, Modern Repair. Well, this community-minded crew are back at it again with Acoustics, Vol. 1, which is a threesong quickie serving a similar purpose, and a Vol. 2 is already in the works. It’s the core Scattered Melodies crew of Jake Johnston (bass, mandolin, percussion), Josh Montag (drums, percussion, organ), Jack Howell (acoustic guitar, vocals, mandolin, banjo) and the lustrous vocals of Laura Hamlin and Haley Grigatis. The Summer Sampler EP seemed like a pivotal release for the band, and it’s where this particular crew really seemed to come together for the first time. This may be the reason why two of the three songs here are acoustic versions of originals from that record. The opener hails from their first album, though, and this version of “Djamgo Mando” blows my mind every time I hear it, with Howell’s banjo and Hamlin’s lyric-less vocals competing for my aural attention. “The Jury’s Out” was the first time I ever heard Jack Howell, back in 2014, and I was stunned. Well, Howell maintains that feel with the stripped-down version. It still rocks, but there’s even more warmth, which is ideal for a band that invites hugs from your soul. Of all the tracks, “Desert Drive” may be the best here because of the way Howell, Hamlin and Gregatis’ vocals combine into the sweetest harmonies heard this side of Laurel Canyon 1972. This song feels more like a desert drive than the original. My best advice is to pick this up or check it out on Spotify and then eagerly await Vol. 2 and the full-length to follow. You may know Uche Ujania from Guilt Society or as the bass player for Paper Foxes or from any number of amazing projects he’s been in over the years. Mr. UU is not only an artist, but he’s also a rapper. I’ve been checking out his beats on Bandcamp and his growing collection of hip-hop compositions on Soundcloud. Most recently Mr. UU released the brilliantly cohesive Dark Avenue EP, collecting most of my favorites from the past year. Clocking in at 14 minutes, it’s a tight collection of five songs bending the genre as far as it will go into dark wave territory with hints of punk. Follow up with a full album? Yes, please, because I can’t get enough of what he’s doing, including the clever referential wit found in songs like “Get the Fuck Up Outta Here,” which is dripping with pop culture nods in every line except the chorus. One of my favorite songs on DaDadoh’s Radical last year was “Kowasahki Trappin’,” which prominently featured Mr. UU, and this EP reminded me of why that track seemed so damn special. “Killer on the Loose” takes an eerily familiar horror soundtrack tone with even more disturbingly appropriate lyrics, and it’s as brilliant as creepy. “Shut Yo Mouth!”, featuring Jimmy Sticcx, sounds like fascinating madness committed to record. The latter is a standout track that deserves a video. The same could be said of “Madman,” which was the first track I heard that caused me to follow every tune Mr. UU was putting out. Dark Avenue finishes with “Ghost in the Trap House,” which is my favorite composition Ujania has released to date. 32 JAVA MAGAZINE Sounds Around Town By Mitchell L. Hillman

THE APACHES Musica Surfica, Vol. III & IV SUNDAY AT NOON Sunday At Noon EXSUPERMODELS eXSupermodels In late 2015, the Apaches suddenly appeared out of nowhere with an EP called Musica Surfica, Vol. I, and by March of last year this had combined with Vol. II for a full album of retrofitted surf music straight out of the desert. The Apaches are Eric Hirsch (lead guitar, organ), Adam Gold (drums), Sully Sullivan (bass guitar) and Jack Escobar (rhythm guitar). They make authentic surf music in the vein of Link Wray, Dick Dale and the Ventures. On Musica Surfica, Vol. III & IV, they sound even better and explore the soundscapes those pioneers found over 50 years ago. This is perfect music to play at any beach-themed tiki party. Like their influences, some of the material here borders on Ennio Morricone territory, and if you’re keen on the idea of making a spaghetti western, I’d recommend getting the Apaches to perform the score for you. The band’s name is almost certainly derived from the 1960 hit by the Shadows, which had vast influence in surf music circles and eventually hip hop. Hirsch is the visionary, and he should be working on films for someone, because he has a knack for arranging instrumentals. The entire band sounds stellar on this release, and I truly hope someday they consider a limited run on vinyl, because that’s the only way it could sound even more authentic. Even the titles sound like tracks found on legacy records: “Pistoleros,” “Ghost Ride,” “Look Out!” and the obligatory “Surf Surf Surf.” The only cover here is the traditional “Dark Eyes,” and that’s a stunner, as well. If you’re taking a trip to the beach, I suggest you have this on repeat. One day in late 2015, Chelsey Louise of Fairy Bones asked me if I had ever heard of Sunday At Noon, and I hadn’t. Within about 20 minutes I had digested their Burning Pictures EP completely and couldn’t stop playing “Maybe I’ll Regret It.” I’ve been following every move they’ve made since then. Sunday At Noon is Jack Vanderpol, Nate Vanderpol, Anthony Airdo and Dylan Welker, and they are one of the fastest-rising rock bands around town right now. Their eponymously titled sophomore EP is pure raveup rock ’n’ roll with a vital energy. They cross subgenres of rock, veering here and there to grunge, with hints of metal and a solid songwriting sensibility that keeps you completely engaged. In two years they’ve gone from a band on my radar to one of my favorites. This feeling was confirmed when they released the first single from the record, “Brain Damage,” and cemented up the recent release of “Like the Last Time.” Those singles were fantastic, but the opener of “Autumn Moon” burns bright with just the right amount of danger. Following it up with the mid-tempo “Like the Last Time” was great sequencing, giving an adequate transition into “Till the Sun Comes Up,” which revs slowly into a tune designed for a reckless desert drive in the middle of the night. The shining guitar intro to “Bright Light” reveals a pop sensibility with harmonies to boot. “Love the World” is another midtempo tune that gets some funk in the trunk, adding even more depth to this young band’s oeuvre. The one-two punch of “Sister” and “Brain Damage” at the end of the record will keep fans everywhere in thrall to Jack Vanderpol’s vocals. Sounds Around Town By Mitchell L. Hillman I noticed eXSupermodels showing up on bills last year along with a few other bands who have been putting out some strikingly inventive music. There is a clear 1990s alternative vibe here, but this power trio of mystery men is evoking spirits far removed from every other ’90s revivalist band. I’m pretty sure these guys have heard of Shudder to Think, Public Affection and a whole host of obscure bands that thrived on the East Coast. It’s definitely retro, but who sounds like this? No one presently. I’d love to personally remaster this five-track set, but I can’t begrudge them sounding like a cassette from 1991, no matter how much I turn up the volume. It sure makes it an authentic representation of the audio fuel they consumed as kids. “Unbeautiful” and “My Lovely Needs” are clearly the standout singles—excellent tracks entrenched in textural sweeps of ringing guitars and some of the most fascinating vocals I’ve heard in some time. There is an obvious homage to Disintegration-era Cure on “My Lovely Needs,” but it’s simply a nod and not a crutch. The finale of “Hero” stands out thanks to the gripping bass line and guitar before the vocals kick in. My ambition with eXSupermodels is seeing them live, because for any shortcomings the production of this set may present, it’s my understanding that they lay your soul to waste from the stage. 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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