1 year ago



THE REDEMPTIONS The Worst. Summer. Ever. PAPER FOXES Devil on My Shoulder EP THE EDISONS Summer Camp EP The Redemptions follow up last year’s Broken Hearts and Shattered Glass with the wryly titled The Worst. Summer. Ever. The Best. Idea. Ever. In theory it’s their second EP, but what they’ve done here is brilliant beyond the songs. The new EP is actually part of a full-length album that contains the entire debut EP, plus four songs that make up the second EP, as well as three acoustic tracks that serve as a preface, intermission and afterword. Anthony Fama explained it to me at the record release party, and I didn’t understand what the hell he was talking about until I gave it a spin. It’s a creative retro-construction that makes it sound like a consistent record. Frankly, with the addition of the three acoustic tracks, this was more new material from them than I bargained for. “Que Sera” is a quick and gentle introduction before launching into the five songs from the first EP, with limited themes that will be expounded upon across the record. Then you’re brought to “Belgian Moon,” which is surprisingly complex and possibly one of the coolest songs found here. “But Anyway” kicks off the EP proper—at least the four songs that have been part of their classic set for some time. “Call It” kicks up the angst a bit and delivers a gutsy rocker. While the first two songs were released as preview singles, I’ve been holding out for “Sail” and “Rain” forever, and they are delivered here in powerful succession. You’re literally waiting for it to pour at the end of “Rain” from Fama’s lyrical insistence, which he managed to recreate at the release party. The album finishes with the oddly beautiful “Wo Ai Ni” completing the entire listening experience. Paper Foxes started as arty darkwave surfers riding their own pipeline of death disco. It’s been a pleasure watching their progression over the last few years as they’ve shifted their lineup a bit and found their own sound. Sure, there is plenty here that nods to Interpol, Joy Division, Bauhaus, but this round they’ve got the dance sound of the damned working for them. “What Are You Afraid Of?” was the preview single, and there was no lack of darkness on display. It kicks off the EP perfectly, setting the mood and pace for the rest to follow. The title track gets heavy on the synth and almost alludes to the New Romantics, not only musically but vocally. If they were looking for a song to do a blue and white video, à la 1982-85, this is the one. It definitely expands the horizons of their sound, adding a funky pop to it. “Breathing Underwater” gets into some serious dance territory, and it may well be my favorite track here. The dynamics of the song are bright, danceable and upfront. It may have to do with bassist Uche Ujania (Mr. UU, Jet Grind Mobb) handling the vocals on this one. It just also happens to be a song that belongs in alternative dance clubs, with a remix or two. Ujania takes the lead on “Not Over Yet,” with Jacobson on harmonies, and the result is stunning. The song is delivered in heavy shades of New Order or Depeche Mode, with a chorus that sounds lifted out of the dance charts from 1988. I’ve been a fan of Uche’s vocals for some time, and when all is said and done he totally steals the show on this edition of the Paper Foxes. The Edisons emerged last year with their stunning debut, Space Whales. Quick on the heels of that comes their Summer Camp EP. In keeping with the mood of many records released this summer, it’s steeped in a bit of darkness. The opener of “Life in Limbo” gives you the vibe from the get-go: this is going to be a collection of indie rock that will never once allow you to get too comfortable with it. The Edisons explore more of an edge here, feeling out their sound and creating songs that feel more visceral. “Bad Acid” follows with a vocal that becomes the main attraction for its restrained desperation. The sheer heaviness of the guitar at the start gives a good indication that “Dancing with the Sharks” is going to be nightmare material. Think early, early Flaming Lips and Dinosaur, Jr. go to buy a keyboard at a shop run by the Hold Steady. “Reptile Blood in Neon Lights” is another shade of darkness, in a completely different way. It reminds me of slowcore at the start, but Caleb Followill’s singing insists on bringing this into the light explosively halfway in. Shifting gears into a comparatively pop sound, “Shiver” is wonderful and an easy single if they want it. It’s not necessarily the flagship of their sound and is unlike anything else on this record. “Grin Reaper” finishes the EP with a touch of cacophonic madness before resting into a more melodic maelstrom. Vocals rage, guitars create textural tapestries, and the song leaves you wanting even more from this powerful act emerging out of Phoenix. The talent is obvious, but so too is the attention paid to constructing every nuance of this record. 32 JAVA MAGAZINE Sounds Around Town By Mitchell L. Hillman

DENT tweaker EP DOMINICK PROVENZANO Dominick Provenzano EP DIRTY SUNSET Give In dent’s first single was called “1996,” and it sounded like indie rock straight out of its prime. Their selftitled debut EP only cemented this opinion. Clearly this crew grew up well aware of Sebadoh, Pavement and other progenitors of the lo-fi revolution. Not unlike those pioneers, this entire EP could fit on a 45 for its succinct brevity. The thing that dent gets right, in the same way as, say, Guided By Voices, is that production value is discarded without losing any sense of hook or melody. “Hi Five” comes off as math rock madness and something Slint would be proud to have released. There’s a definite “No Wave” post punk feel to it, recalling the vibe of late 1980s American underground, but with a hidden pop hook. Coming in at only 97 seconds, you kind of want “Keep It Cool” to be longer, but it’s got a total indie pop sound buried beneath Sonic Youth-ful musings. The conclusion of “Rebeka” makes me think two things. One, that dent is probably one of the most underrated bands in town. And two, that after waiting a year and a half for their second record, it’s way too short. This song should be pressed as a single, because it may well be their masterpiece. If nothing else, the repetitive guitar line rings in my head for days. It’s given a slightly bizarre coda that falls apart into sounds of the “tape” squelching and failing. dent doesn’t play out all that often, and they release records less frequently than most, but I’ll take whatever I can get from this crew. You probably know Dominick Provenzano as the voice behind Day Before Plastics or Old Star, but now he has released his debut solo record, and his voice has never sounded better. Provenzano is one of my favorite vocalists in town and has been for some time. There’s a quality in his voice that I simply love, and it’s not something that can be learned or trained, it just comes down to genetics and character. He’s not exactly alone on the record, having assembled a damn fine ensemble that includes Gram Benike (slide guitar), Daniel Byers (piano), Roy Cameron (drums) and Travis Snowberger (bass). These songs would have seemed completely out of place on a Day Before Plastics record, but outside the context of his bands, Provenzano is allowed to flourish with sentimental songs heavy on the Americana vibe. There’s a feeling of Tom Petty meets Mark Oliver Everett from Eels here, especially on the opener of “Cruel,” a song Petty should record. “All My Flowers” gets an even deeper country treatment, with both guitar and vocals heavy on the twang. Notable, though, is Benike’s amazing slide for being surprisingly upbeat. I’m not sure if Provenzano’s been listening to the Flying Burrito Brothers, but you get the sense he has. By the time you get to “Twilight Road,” you realize this is a great Sunday morning record. Even though it has a far more stark arrangement in contrast, “City With Lights” only backs up this feeling. There was an instant sense of excitement with the pre-release single, “Get Loose,” and rightfully so, because it’s one of Provenzano’s finest songs. The Dylan-esque harmonica that kicks off the finale of “Come Back” is as refreshing as the relative lightness of the song itself. It’s a great way to finish off a first solo release, with a smile and a sense of warmth. Sounds Around Town By Mitchell L. Hillman If I didn’t discover Dirty Sunset at the very start, it was damn near it. I’ve been badgering them about proper recordings for over a year. The band was born as a side project for singer-songwriter Juan Pablo Blanco and violinist Kevin Wiscombe but soon became a fulltime endeavor. Currently, Dirty Sunset is Blanco (vocals and guitar), Kevin Wiscombe (violin), Adam Newbould-Schlund (bass guitar) and Chris Chapman (piano/organ). Give In, their debut album, features studio performances by Thomas Hurley on drums, David Moore on saxophone and studio musician turned full bandmate Chris Chapman on piano and organ. The album is so cohesive it’s difficult to pick favorites, but the overarching architecture is exploring how far the combo of guitar and fiddle can go. The sound is intoxicating and unusual—approaching gypsy rock in its mysticism—while clearly revisionist indie folk, tempered by the Americana flourishes on the fiddle. It’s unlike anything else going at this time, which is exactly what makes their sound so engaging. The album gets me high as I wander through it from end to end. It’s a fantastic debut from a band that emerges as surprisingly mature—comfortable with both near-pop simplicity and intricate orchestrated arrangements. There is magic all over the place here, and it comes out of the combined vision of Blanco and Wiscombe. Be sure to catch Dirty Sunset on September 9 at Last Exit Live when they release Give In, joined by House of Stairs, Banana Gun and The Stakes. 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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