Robin Vining – “Someone For Everyone”
Robin Vining is one of Phoenix’s most treasured musicians. Whether it’s been in bands like Minibosses, Colorstore, Sweetbleeders or bands he’s toured with like Jimmy Eat World, Vining has been a pillar of the music scene for what seems an eternity. To list the entire roster of bands and recordings he’s made throughout the years would consume this entire column to give you some idea of the work he’s accomplished. This Friday, April 14th, Vining will be releasing his solo album at The Newton with Jon Rauhouse and Brandon Decker on hand. “Someone For Everyone” is the title track from the album and a rather interesting video for it was dropped recently. Vining explores some American Music Hall tradition here and digs into some sentimental balladry, with some of the finest Mid-21st century inspirations that could draw comparisons to Nilsson and Randy Newman. Vining, not unlike his local contemporary counterpart Rob Kroehler, unearths the heart of the American Songbook and writes his own vision of it here. The song is certainly anachronistic and it could very nearly belong to any decade since the advent of popular music on the radio. There’s hints of Brian Wilson here and there, but mostly in phrasing, but what comes across the most is how deeply steeped it is in the early American piano music that swathed broad strokes across the nation once upon a time.
Good Friends Great Enemies – “Whattabuncha”
Good Friends Great Enemies may no longer be with us, but upon their departure they released their final album and even an affectionate, loose acoustic EP. I’m certain the talents in this band will go on to do many other fantastic things, but for the last half a decade they’ve been putting out some of the most unusual pop using an artistic aesthetic all their own. They tread a strange terrain where jazz, rock, pop and classical influences meet in a delta of sound to produce amiable records filled with hints of existential dread. Upon many listens to the album and even at their final show, one song spins my mind into a frenzy and it’s “Whattabuncha” with its clever hook and poetically licensed title. It starts with a near Americana feel and you may suspect it will go into more country territory, right until the chorus hits you like a MAC truck. It’s as much an indictment of modern culture and society as it is the music industry, filled with swipes at white privilege, America and blind faith in following a corrupt system. It’s a great song for the times, a great song for any time in the last fifty years actually and one of the finest tunes released this year by anyone. The only shame here is that they will probably never perform it live again, but maybe Evan Bisbee will keep this one around because it needs to be heard. Check out the new album Esoterotica for the full experience as soon as possible.
Curiosity Door – “First Impressions”
You may ask yourself, “Who the hell is Curiosity Door?” Well for the last few years there’s been a band around town tearing shit up called Bad Neighbors and somewhere in the dismal political atmosphere of the last year they decided they wanted to be good neighbors and the name wasn’t going to suit them. Curiosity Door is a much better moniker for a band intent on expanding your consciousness both lyrically and musically. “First Impression” is their first single under the new name and the first preview of the forthcoming Moments of Tangency EP. The lineup is the same with Martin Shaffer (Vocals/Guitar/Lyrics), Tim Allyn (Guitar/Vocals), Levi Hardee (Bass) and Collin Fall (Drums) and the new song indicates the vision has remained intact as well. It is perhaps a bit more musical than their early efforts where indie rock was blended with Shaffer’s near spoken word poetics. Shaffer is still raging, but he’s doing more of singing along with the melody now. Check out the video to see more than a few familiar faces from the local music community and a fair amount of substance abuse. Once you do, be sure to share it with all your imaginary best friends again and again. This feels like it’s hinting at one of the more compelling EPs of the year and it’s not just the great first impressions they make here again, for the first time.
Genre – “A Change Is Gonna Come”
Last year Genre stunned the local scene with their full length debut Legendary Rock Act and now they’ve released the first post album single with what is possibly the best lyric video I’ve ever seen. Though it clearly refers to the Sam Cooke classic, it’s not to be confused with the civil rights anthem, but it certainly captures the paranoid desperation of our times in a fitting manner. “A Change Is Gonna’ Come” literally starts with David Bowie’s death and tracks from there, with references to the death of Kennedy, Lennon and the oppressive regime of Reagan. It’s a sparse history lesson, but sums up nicely some of the events that have gotten us to where we are today with our current administration leading us to the brink of war. The song itself even hopes that Sam doesn’t mind and I don’t think he would, because this is a new emo anthem for change and resistance through persistence. Their new record is coming along nicely from the sounds of it and it will be the best thing they’ve released to date, like every successive platter has been since their start. The way this revved up anthem weighs on your mind well into the next is definitely a good sign. The song is worth it alone for the chorus which becomes a literal chorus of harmonies that the kids are going to sing the shit out of at their shows. Well played.
Alassane – “Tusk”
More than a few people have brought this song to my attention and I have to agree with the consensus that this is right up my alley and that it is endlessly fascinating. Alassane is a project between musicians in Phoenix and Montreal, recorded here in town at Fivethirteen. It’s as much indie rock as it is jazz, as much world music as it is post rock, as much pure brilliance musically as pure poetics lyrically. Alassane is Alassane G Diarra (synths, piano, glockenspiel, rhodes, vocals), Dylan Paul Thomas (drums, guitar, bass guitar), and Adriel Zang Perrault (percussion). Diarra’s vocals are an instrument unto themselves and nearly as intoxicating as the arsenal of synths, keys, crazy rhythms and endless percussion wizardry. The arrangements, specifically with the vast litany of percussion instruments here is what sold me immediately, but the vocals and poetry kept me coming back. Every time I’ve spun this little number I’ve heard something new and different, focused on a completely different motif than I found before. I can’t wait to hear what’s next after this impressive debut single, because this could be the basis of one of the most unusual and original records released this year. I encourage you to stay tuned for more Alassane right along with me.