Favorite Local Albums of 2014

As with the Favorite EP list this contains all but the my number one favorite album of 2014. This was a little easier than the singles or the EPs, that’s for sure. I knew immediately what albums I spent the most time with, the ones I can name the most tracks off of, the ones I carried with me for weeks or months on end. It was a pretty great year in music, that’s for sure and all of these albums enriched my life, if they haven’t enriched yours yet, get to know them–most of them are embedded below…So without further ado here are nineteen of my favorite twenty albums from 2014. Number One get’s its own separate post tomorrow.

20. The Necronauts – OTD

It seems hard to believe that it’s been four years since the double album imperative Gauche Et Droite was released by The Nectronauts, but it’s true.  The Necronauts have been the absolute masters of the lo-fi sound in AZ for over twelve years and it’s really fucking refreshing to have them back. The only curious fact about OTD is that it features electric drums when they have one of the most capable drummers in the form of Dale Goodman. This album seems like Billy Goodman’s declaration to the world that he is first of all not dead and second of all, still relevant. Both of these points, to these ears seem true. I think what amazes me here is that their music is still compelling, it still makes me smile and I sure as shit hope they have some shows to back this up, because The Necronauts make me fucking happy.  After the last release, this seems like a brief affair, but it is no lesser. They have a style that is uniquely their own and it’s easy on my ears, half of the time listen to them is pure nostalgic reverie and the other half is that they still sound so goddamned good. Listen to “Wonder” and ponder your own childhood and a view through television, compare cartoons to CNN and evaluate your modern reality.  Meanwhile, “Pisssing On The Sun” may be some of the best retro pop that the band has ever pulled off, ever and it’s very Kinks-like, which means this could go very well in everywhere but America.  Electronic drums or not, this is a pretty glad return to form and probably the most welcome comeback of the entire year. I’m not sure how the brothers Goodman will pull this off live or even if they intend to as a duo, but man I can’t wait for that to occur. I hope it’s at the Yucca, because it should be.  Without hesitation I can say this is one of my favorite albums of the year.

19. PRMR – Antennae

Many years ago an unusual duo called The Premiere appeared on the scene with a local cult favorite called “Patrick Swayze” and for at least the last five years I have been waiting impatiently for their second album to be released. I’m pretty sure that every time I’ve seen David Jackman in the last half a decade, I’ve asked him about it. Well, it’s finally here and it is one of the most fascinating and weirdest releases I have heard in a very long time–the fusion of hip hop grooves and rapping verses, combined with 80s synth pop melodies,  and an indie dance aesthetic is overwhelming, but my mind won’t let it go. I think Antennae is going to a supremely polarizing release–I think some people will hate at and others will love it and there will be little inbetween, I also think some who hate it initially, will have it bore into their soul until they have to admit that it’s pretty goddamn great. Now called PRMR, the duo of Adam Wilkey and Jackman have created a fascinating fourteen song experiment in musical madness filled with apocalyptic sci-fi imagery that I can’t stop listening to out of pure pleasure–I’m not sure I’m listening to a trainwreck or a masterpiece, but I’d like to think it’s the latter, because Iove it. The contrast between Wilkey’s cyberpunk raps and Jackman’s amazing singing/crooning is stark, and the content is filled with more pop culture references than you can comprehend after a half a dozen listens.  There is as much accessible pop here as there is beat heavy hip hop drenched in a serious back drop of synthesized bliss.  It actually holds up remarkably well across the length of these fourteen tracks, but If you only have time to check out a few, listen to “50 Inch Rims”, “Lane Visitor”, “Zephyrus”, the addictively brilliant “Spacebar” and “DLTA”. I’m pretty sure after that five song sampler you will be compelled to listen to all of Antennae from beginning to end. I just love the hell out of it, but I can’t explain why.

18. Playboy Manbaby – Bummeritaville

Playboy Manbaby is just a brilliant powerhouse of high energy weirdness where rap meets punk and rock and sometimes features a horn section. There latest release Bummeritaville is no exception of this formula. I must say these are the best recordings of one of my favorite local acts available to date. Recorded at home and at Audioconfusion with Jalipaz, the album is really their most consistent document of Robbie Pfeffer’s madness to date.  I also now proudly have the album on cassette, CD and digital download, because I need to have it wherever I go, no matter what, for whatever player is available at the time–I’d really like a vinyl version for that matter. This is going to be played over and over again all spring and summer until I have every nuance memorized. With crazy titles like “Choppy Chad” that urges you to vaccinate yourself, “Potato Wallet” (who doesn’t have one of those?), as well as the much beloved live standard “Falafel Pantyhose”–yes that’s right, there is a song in the world called “Falafel Pantyhose” and it’s maybe my favorite song they’ve ever done. It my book its five minutes of bliss. Though I expect Robbie to start talking shit to the crowd, but he saves that for the live performance in the bridge.  The entire album is stunning from beginning to end and totally represents the velocity and groove that they’ve got going on at their shows. As funny as they are entertaining as they are unique, Playboy Manbaby just keeps getting better and better with each release, if “Modest Meowz” wasn’t one of their finest musical moments, I’d spend most of the song laughing to the hysterical lyricism. Every song is a highlight honestly and it never lets up once, “Doom Couch”, “Brenden Lechner” and “Snake Harmer” hold their own with all the other tracks closing out a furious paced album that never lets up once. This should be played poolside a lot this season, with plenty of PBR for all of your friends.

17. Petty Things – Year of The Dog

Petty Things have quickly become one of my favorite bands in town for their tried and true commitment to perfect psychedelic laced garage rock. If there is one genre that I favor more than anything else, it’s bare bones rock’n'roll that screams as though it was from a suburban garage–and in this case it may well have been. A collaborative release from Rubber Brother Records and Gnar Tapes, this will clearly be another one of my favorite releases for the warmer months ahead. This is definitely on my soundrack for Summer 2014. No song sensibly exceeds three and a half minutes, while being literally filled with jaunty pop, you eleven songs here that are probably all of your favorites from their recent live shows. In my mind songs like “Bored”, “(Gimme That) Buttercup)” and “Motorcycle Shelly” are instant classics, while the trippy vocal effects on “All I Want Is You” are just perfection in seconds. The amusing thing about their recordings is that it sounds like they were recorded in 1966, not sure if they wash the acetate in sand to get that sound, but it’s just brilliant–the right amount of fuzz, killer hooks, memorable lyrics, they carry a spirit about them that continually impresses me.  Just listen to the less than the 90 seconds of “The Itch” and tell me that’s not authentic balls to the wall rock’n'roll. This time around Petty Things are definitely more into the rock and less about the psychedelic flourishes than on their debut, but it’s a great listen and a perfect companion for pool party season. “Errand Boy” even has a Minor Threat feel about, if Minor Threat had had a bit more sense of fun. Meanwhile numbers  like “Stupid”, “Loudrella” (which should be a single and approaches a BMRC level of greatness) and “Isolation” just continue the push toward the brilliant peak of this retro rock spectacular.

16. The Riveras – We Don’t Remember the Dream, But The Dream Remembers Us

We Don’t Remember The Dream, But The Dream Remembers Us is an eight track album of beautifully orchestrated solemnity that hones in on The Riveras patented mellow, heavy sound. This is not for casual use, this is for days that you must be attuned, focused and for moments that you want to indulge yourself in vast desert music that feels like the scent of your favorite ancient literature. There is something in the combination of Jody Lew’s haunting vocals and astounding violin with Allison Galbreath’s cello that meets head on with the raging guitar of Chad Kaffer and the astounding rhythm section of Brad Wandrey’s bass and Douglas Berry’s drums that creates a chemical combination of fascination within your mind. The strings and vocals seem to somehow overwhelm the maelstrom of the other instruments, though they are no further up in the mix–it’s a clever trick of the mind in which they stand out and brilliantly so. The album begins with the dark chords of “The Fox” which is not exactly inviting, but fascinating enough to draw you in, keeps your attention rapt as it lightens up slightly. Nearly a minute and a half in the entire band kicks in and you’re kind of hooked. By the time that you are imaging that this is an instrumental Lew’s vocals appear, mournful and beautiful at once, with the violin taking the fore. The finale to the song is her wailing like a banshee with the band blowing your mind in a perfect storm of madness, finished by a soft, sweet coda. The entire album follows in its path with minimalist lyrics delivered wistfully, that serve as much like instrumentation as anything else. It’s difficult to concentrate on them, because they become as much a part of the textural music as anything else.  It’s not necessarily happy music, but it’s amazing music that is right for a certain time and a certain mood.  This will be absolutely stunning to listen to during grey days of this fall and winter.

15. Sweet Ghosts – Certain Truths

I remember being entranced by their performance the night I first saw this band from the southern land of lightning and sand, simply stunned by the pure beauty and harmony found in the combination of Ryan Alfred and Katherine Byrnes. It turns out that both are seasoned musicians of their own accord Alfred tours the world with Calexico as a bassist and Byrnes sang harmonies on Amos Lee’s Mission Bell tour. Together though they create something completely their own, a uniquely Southwestern Arizona sound that smells of desert rain and the distant scent of sagebrush, the reflections of an enormous sky filled with more stars than you’ve ever seen and the taste of monsoon dust in your teeth. The one certain truth I gather from Certain Truths is that this record is wise beyond its years, filled with a poetic lyricism with unequivocal imagery, bathed in a luxurious backdrop of timeless, textural music that touches the heart and soul. This is truly one of the most fascinating records I have heard in a long time, anachronistic to say the least and distinctively drawn out of the geography from which it was bred. Each song does indeed explore a certain truth in no uncertain terms an one thing I am certain of is that I will be listening to this album for years to come.

14. Scorpion Vs. Tarantula – Claim To Fame

I am always wary of bands that play long songs, it usually means too many solos and not enough energy instilled in the songs. With SVT you will only find a two songs maximum per album that exceed the four minute mark, most of their material rest in the wonderful world of the two to three minute mark–which is pure rock’n'roll. Honestly, if you can’t say what you need to say in three minutes, you may want to rethink your commitment to rock’n'roll. I do not question SVT’s commitment in any capacity and rolling through their catalog, neither will you. On the record, L. Hotshot’s vocals are just as powerful, just as up front and urgent as they are when she is screaming them in your face at a show, but other elements come to the fore, meaning the entirety of the rest of the band. Bennett’s guitar is a continually searing sensation through every song, the bass work of Satana is brilliant as it works perfectly with the Neanderthalic beating that Cappy is giving to his drums. There are two advantages of their albums vs. their show, you can understand every lyric and you can get totally lost in just how super tight the band is at every moment.

13. Watch For Rocks – Exploring The Space

Watch For Rocks is probably the most underrated band in the valley. First of all, they are composed entirely of geologists, secondly they put out an amazing pop-rock record this summer while everyone was sleeping in their air conditioned capsules. So while you were sleeping, this happened–and by I mean happened I mean they put out one of the most compelling albums of the year. There is a lot of “geocentric rock” here from the introductory spell of “Welcome to Earth” to the tributary tribute of “Capsize” you immediately understand the songwriters intellectual leanings. The entire album is filled with this sort of amazing nods to bright minds, which honestly makes it thoroughly enjoyable. These are scientists making music and music I may add that is magnificent. The good news here is that they have incorporated the three amazing tracks from their debut EP on the album, which is to say that the astounding “Walk Away”, “Not About Us” and my favorite “Party On Pluto” is all included here. So too are newcomer classics like “Whiskey Red” which is simply stunning (and my new favorite). The newer songs like “Volcano” and the latter mention are simply brilliant, it’s kind of what music is supposed to be–possessed and full of charge. “Volcano” is one of the song that sticks in my head every time I see them live and on record it’s no different. There is a haunting quality to “Bet On Love” that is indescribably atmospheric and beautiful, it amazes because it adds to their range and while it dwells a bit in melancholy it adds more to their voice. I love it when Watch For Rocks literally rocks out and they do it well on “Closer Now” which has a beautiful dangerous vibe and it’s sexy as all hell. The album concludes with “Angel’s Share” which is a dream pop number that hypnotizes you away and makes you want to listen to the entire album all over again. Perfect.

12. Numb Bats – Gentle Horror

Numb Bats are the great blessing that has arisen from the ashes of North Dakota after the local departure of Michelle Blades. After some lineup changes over their brief existence they have coalesced into the powerful trio of Emily Hobeheidar – Guitar, Lead Vocals, Mo Neuharth – Drums, Vocals and Sophie Opich – Bass, Vocals. The surprising thing is that they produce a sound of indie rock surf songs mixed with early K Records and Grrrl Power from the 90s. I honestly don’t even know if they have even heard the records that they remind me of, but I certainly hope they have, otherwise I guess that means they are goddamned geniuses. “Tummy So Hungry” is a dead on homage to Kim Deal vocal led Pixies and a wise choice as the first single for the album. On the entire album only the finale exceeds four minutes, while all the other tracks barely hit the three minute mark. Gentle Horror is simply pure joy that combines too many influences that I enjoy to list.  There is a darkness to their tunes, (“Meet You There” for instance), but still somehow this seems a deathwish is sunshiney and bright. “Am  I Right” hits on Hole/L7 territory in its aggressiveness,  still at other times, later in the album they embrace shoegazing territory with gusto (“I Want You”). The album, all in all, shows the very different sides of Numb Bats, that I’ve never seen performed live, but that I want to, honestly.  In the shows I’ve seen the surf sound is very representative beyond all else, but tracks like “The Other Angry Woman” while it has the drive, prove there is so much more behind them.  There is a certain combination of influences here, a certain ratio of perfection that adds up to enjoyable originality. Yes, other bands have gone here before, but I’m not sure they’ve done it this well or with as much verve as Numb Bats. This is a fantastic full length debut from Numb Bats and it truly explores the depth of both their sound and their identity.

11. The Woodworks – Safe Mode

I like that The Woodworks call themselves experimental thrash folk, for one it’s accurate and also it saves me the time of thinking how to describe their unique style.  Yes, there’s rock and blues and jazz in there to, but experimental thrash folk describes it best. Another amazing facet of the band is that all three of them are multi-instrumental masters. Solo Lounsbury leads the pack as probably one of the most underrated sexiest chanteuses in town, her voice has soul, depth and a vicious verve that resonates with my soul, yet she also plays keyboards, guitar and flute; Konstantin Bosch resides on the drums, but proves his mastery handling guitar, banjo, concertina and ukulele; finally Steve B Drinkin handles a hell of a bass along with saxophone and organ. They can all sing and dance and drink, it’s pretty amazing. So with these three elementals combined, they have produced one of the finer albums released so far this year and one, I think, that will hold up throughout. An amazing album from end to end. What The Woodworks prove here is that they are intelligent, well-versed musicians who can take on any style and make it their own, they can work in complicated times and express it with complicated time signatures, they can absorb all the elements they need from blues and rock and jazz and folk and they can produce The Woodworks as uniquely their own, beautiful amazing band kicking out some of the most unusual jams to be found around town.

10. The Psychedelephants – Asymmetrical Geometry

Sometimes I wait for years for an album to be released. In this case, it’s been two years. At the time this was recorded, Danger Paul & The Psychedelephants were a local live sensation playing amazing indie pop songs live every other week. Since then Danger Paul has moved on and is now playing with The Rolling Blackouts, The Redemptions and leading Freeze Ray Vision. Now when they play, it is a fantastic treat and finally, the document of the Psychedelephants has been released. Danger Paul’s music has always reminded me of George Harrison, which is rather crazy since Danger Paul actually looks like George Harrison. There is not a duff track to be found here, sure there are clear singles like “Teenage Kangaroo” (Roo-Teen, get it?) and “Underdog”, but “Sabotaj Mahal”, “Future Loves…” (which actually features Tristan and Sean from Future Loves Past on backing vocals) and the extremely Beatlesque “Little Lucy” are all amazing tracks. This is Danger Paul, Ari Leopold, Calin Gross, Keith Fama and Jesii Dobrusky at their absolute best. Every song is a joy here. Listen to Dobrusky’s flawlessly angelic vocals on “Guilty By Association” while Gross’ guitar wails, it’s too long for a single, but it may be one of the finest rock songs this year. “Second Degree” sounds practically sinister following that, while “Kronos” is a psychedelic masterpiece. The finale of “Hemisphere” ushers Asymmetrical Geometry out on an epic level and is the source of the album title, a mesmeric song that closes the album with perfection. This feels like an important document of a time, a place and a band that was magical, something special happened here and we have ten brilliant songs to prove it. While the recordings were made two years ago, The Psychedelephants sound as relative as ever and I’m thankful to finally have this album, now I just wish they would take the stage more often and maybe record another album while they are at it. Perhaps Danger Paul’s Freeze Ray Vision will take this stead, or at lease accompany it.

9. Playboy Manbaby – Electric Manbaby

It seems strange that when the goal was to record, mix, master, release and perform an album inside of one week , that it would turn out to be Playboy Manbaby’s most accomplished recording so far.  Turns out  that this is exactly what they did and Electric Babyman is so far, in what I assume will be a stunning career, their best record to date. I mean it’s really fucking great and hard to believe that this all came about in one week–now, I understand that that they must have been playing  some of these songs (and I know they were) before recording, but still this is amazing. This is Playboy Manbaby’s second recording with Jalipaz at Audioconfusion and I have to admit that this is a winning combination. Yes, I mean this tops Bummeritaville, just listen to it, it does.  This album, to me, is the sound of one of the best bands in Phoenix hitting its stride–with their sound, their musicianship, lyricism, performance and all else–it started with the last release, and really it started with them recording outside of their living room, but these guys are selling out Crescent whenever they want to and that is saying something.  I get that they might not be everybody’s deal, but seven times out of ten (I’m moody), when someone asks me what music is really exciting me at the moment I will answer Playboy Manbaby.  I am avoiding talking about the record itself though, which is purposeful. Why? Because if this is up your avenue even remotely I want you to know and believe this is the best thing they’ve ever fucking done. This is everything I thought they would do when I first saw them at Long Wong’s two or three years ago on a random night. This is THE most exciting, original music in Arizona right now and I want you to experience it first hand for yourself.  This is their best album thus far, I am stunned and I think you will be pleased as well.


8. The Love Me Nots – Sucker

In the last six years I’ve been following every musical venture that has involved Nicole Laurenne and Michael Johnny Walker, namely Zero Zero, as well as every album The Love Me Nots have released and now Motobunny. Here the original lineup returns for a classic album that places all members at their best. And classic describes The Love Me Nots best, well  that and classy, it’s no wonder that they are smash sensations in France. They are the local music equivalent of a ’57 Chevy, never out of style and always fantastic to see. For an album about love, Sucker is really super aggressive and impressive all at once.  After a three year hiatus, I have to say that it’s nice to have them back. With the exception of the funereal finale, the album is delivered at breakneck speed and a shotgun delivery. And yet it is the finale that seals the deal, it adds the much needed depth the album needed. Beginning with a church organ and accompanied by a guitar sound steeped in deep Soutwestern mystery, “Slip Into The Black” is probably the chief masterpiece on Sucker. This is Nicole Laurenne as a soul singer and while it is down tempo, it may be one of the finest songs by The Love Me Nots I’ve ever heard and I’ve heard everything they’ve ever done. It is funereal, elegiac and stunningly beautiful. I am shocked every single time I listen to it, because it may well be the greatest thing they’ve ever done. This is, simply said, the greatest album closer of the year. Well played and perfectly brilliant.

7. Carol Pacey & The Honey Shakers – Yeah Yeah Yeah!

Their new debut album Yeah Yeah Yeah! may be the most perfect crossroads where Country Rock/Americana meets Power Pop…and at the speed most of it is presented in, it’s like “Americana Thrash Pop” and it’s simply amazing. If you are unaware of Carol Pacey & The Honey Shakers I want you to imagine the rootsy side of Social Distortion fronted by a powerfully lively woman instead of Mike Ness. The combination of Carol Pacey on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Andy Borunda on lead guitar, Dante Fiorenza on bass and Ben DeLuca on drums is pretty awesome–something that will shatter your soul especially if you catch them live and luckily there is ample opportunity to do that all the time. Yeah Yeah Yeah! was everything I could have hoped for and more. It’s as if a Riot Grrrl went country and discovered her inner self. This should be played at every party this year, because it will incite good times no matter where it is heard. This is awesome music from four amazing people with a shared vision to deliver the tales told by a woman who has lived life intently and intensely, she has taken the rollercoaster instead of the merry go round and she is still smiling and having fun. The cool thing is that she wants  you to smile and have fun too, so why not give a listen.

For their third full length album Banana Gun recorded with Curtis Grippe at STEM Recording and they did it the old fashioned way, they recorded it live in the studio. Relying on perfect takes for each song, the effect is enlivening to say the very least. Troost even commented that he “never wants to record an album any other way” after this experience. Additionally recording live in the studio really adds an extra energy to the band’s sound, it feels more agressive, more raw. While The Elephant In The Room was a technical masterpiece, Love.Instinct has a warmth, a rough edged danger about it. It’s also more representative of their live show and the stage presence they have when you could catch them at The Sail Inn headlining on a Friday or Saturday night. One thing for sure, Banana Gun raised the bar yet again last year to ensure that Love.Instinct will be a serious part of your continual soundtrack. For another treat, this album is amazing on headphones, big studio headphones that consume your mind. And remember play it loud and play it often. There is not a song that disappoints on the entire album and Love.Instinct has a perfect pace that carries you straight through it. It appears that Banana Gun just keep getting better with age and each album is an improvement over the last. I want everyone to hear this rough and ready rock record that certainly satisfies my craving for local rock’n'roll in spades.

5. Japhy’s Descent – Christopher Robin

Rock’n'roll doesn’t readily come to mind when you think about Winnie The Pooh.  If you found yourself pondering Pooh and Christopher Robin and all of the characters created by A.A. Milne that populate the 100 AcreWoods, you wouldn’t quickly think “Yeah, that’s rock’n'roll,” alright. Taking that further, you wouldn’t suspect that Benjamin Hoff’s philosophical take on Pooh in The Tao of Pooh, would fuel the fires of rock, either. It seems like this isn’t really the fodder for inspiring an entire rock album, that somehow it would never have been anything Milne or Hoff would have imagined occurring. Well, this is exactly what Japhy’s Descent has done with their brand new album Christopher Robin–and it does indeed rock, from beginning to end. Once more Travis (Vocals/ Guitar), Martin (Guitar/Vocals) James  (Drums, Vocals) and  Brian (Bass, Vocals) along with a host of local guests have produced another great album, though in my opinion it far surpasses their previous releases in scope, vision and sheer brilliance. Christopher Robin has been something I’ve been looking forward to for nearly two years and with that much anticipation and build up, I can say that it does not disappoint in the least–in fact it’s more than I could have ever imagined. This album could not have been better in any capacity and it truly fills my heart with joy.  In concept, execution and delivery Christopher Robin is easily one of the finest full length album of the year.  I listen to it to stare at clouds and fill my soul with joy. I encourage you to do the same.

4. Diners – Always Room

This is a thirteen song masterpiece and it’s easy for me to hear why producer Jalipaz was so psyched about it every time I talked to him. This is perfect summery pop meant to be spent poolside in the heat and sunshine. Always Room sounds like it may well have been recorded in the mid 1960s, from the surf guitar to the female backing vocals to the tales of young love and innocence to the short songs themselves, few escape the three minute mark and only the finale crosses five minutes.  Add to all of this that Tyler Broderick’s vocals are flawless in a Death Cab For Cutie sensibility, this is perfect music for the summer season and everyone in the band lends their absolute best to the effort here. I can’t imagine this album could have been produced better, I can’t imagine that the lead guitar by Andrew Kendall could have blown me away more, or Tristan Jemsek’s drumming, or Kyle Daniels and Alex Cardwell’s bass work, the saxophone of Zach Burba is astounding and the keys of Cesar Ruiz are stunning. Finally, what ties it all together is the singing which involved on this album Tyler Broderick, Kristina Moore, Talisha Royer, Jill Cook, Tristan Jemsek, Alex Cardwell, Andrew Kendall, Robert Raya, Cesar Ruiz, Erin Caldwell, Logan Greene and Mari Morton. They have achieved perfection and Always Room is, without a doubt, one of the best albums of the year. This is one of the most amazing original and refreshing records I have heard in a long time and its clear, as it was with their previous release that Diners is following their own vision of sound and in doing so, they are creating a little bit of heaven on Earth.

3. Wooden Indian – Moan Info

Moan Info was produced by the collaboration of  Wally Boudway, Greg Muller, Michael Krasner and Bob Hoag–and those credential speak a lot in reference to the finished product. The album far surpasses their debut in both brilliance, range and exploration toward aural bliss. Word is that Wooden Indian doesn’t necessarily enjoy the term psychedelic in reference to their music, but I have to disagree. Psychedelic refers to both soul opening and mind expanding and that is exactly what their music and performances are about. So in the strictest term of the word, their music is exactly that, it doesn’t mean that it’s music to take drugs to make music to take drugs to, it means that it is an immersion experience within a sound you want to get lost in–granted it might go very well with whatever your favorite method of minimizing your madness might be, but that’s just a bonus. Wooden Indian play off as a cross breed here of Pink Floyd from perhaps the Ummagumma or Meddle era with Merriwhether Post Pavilion era Animal Collective and the quintessence of what occurs certainly plays with your brain chemistry. If you didn’t take drugs before affording the 55 minutes to the album, you sure feel like you might have by the end. This is beyond what most would consider as psychedelic music, because this is not jam band bullshit–there should be no confusion there, this is the artistic/madness side of ethereal psychedelia. This is the good stuff. Moan Info is an experience. I am a very heavy lyric centric music fan, probably because I’m a writer and words are what I deal in, but I have to admit that after a dozen spins and seeing three times as many shows as that, I haven’t the foggiest clue what they are saying. This is not a criticism, it’s that their vocals become instruments within the textural fabric that is being woven, I can’t keep track of words and I lose myself.  I think one of the reasons that I love Wooden Indian so much is that their sound is literally a mystery to me, they create sounds that I don’t understand where they come from or how they tune their instruments to create them. I have watched them attentively, seen them play on their home turf at the Dressing Room, but I still don’t know how they do it, they make sounds out of fairly regular instruments that sound completely exotic. The blend of this with the ethereal, otherworldly vocals is almost too much because it places you in an otherworldly plane of existence. Whether you’re listening all the way through to Color Is Work or Moan Info, you are transported mentally to a dimension that isn’t here, it is decidedly “Wooden Indian Land.” I suppose that’s what frustrates me, I don’t have enough poetry to accurately describe their music.

2. Emby Alexander – Frontispiece

There is a bizarre formula to the quirky chamber pop that Emby Alexander produces. They are at once composing a nervous aesthetic that will amplify your anxiety while soothing your mindset, they prey on your mental illness and entice you to love them, they abuse your senses, but hold you tight long into the night. They have developed a unique ideal for their own brand of indie rock, composed of influences that evoke nightmares, orgasms, love affairs and obsessions, with a fierce attention to art and compositional genius, they approach their songs like pocket symphonies and deliver them like power pop performed like an orchestra. They are perhaps, one of the strangest revelations in local indie rock I’ve ever heard and I’ve loved them since the start. Their first full length album Frontispiece puts up a damn fine argument for their existence and why you should fall for a band featuring the weirdest instrument lineup since The Feelies Crazy Rhythms. It amazes me that, at the heart of it, Frontispiece is really the work of primarily five musicians, with visionary, chief architect and vocalist Michael Alexander at the helm surrounding himself with Tim Arimborgo  (glockenspiel, guitars, vocals, percussion),  Kyle Grabski  (electric bass, upright bass, recorder, tympani, conch shell, piano, wood blocks, whirly tubes, gong),  Austin Harshman  (guitars, vocals, harmonicas, pitched glass bottles) and  Max Weidle on drums.  Add to this core group a handful of specialists and across these twelve tracks you have one of the most unique and compelling release of the year so far–certainly one of the most artistic in a cyclic, compositional sense First of all, and I’ve made this comparison before, Michael Alexander’s voice reminds me of David Byrne and Talking Heads is one of my top ten bands of all time, so I have a natural affinity for everything he does. Secondly, Emby Alexanders brand of full speed chamber pop and ecstatic arrangements just gets my mind into gear with its multi-instrumental layers, incandescent percussion and a swirling sense of gentle psychosis. This is the kind of music my soul yearns for constantly. I know that every time I play it, I smile at the sun and thank the universe for the presence of Emby Alexander in my life. I invite you to make it a part of your life as well. Frontispiece is embedded in my mind for eternity and it’s done a great engraving job on my soul.

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