Five Must Hear Releases: Young Mothers, Sunn Trio, Golf!, Qais Essar and Joe Vito

This thing happens every Summer where releases build up and we don’t have an August issue of JAVA Magazine. Ten years ago I welcomed the month off when it would come around, but it was only a few years in that I missed having a twelfth issue and felt like I was trying to catch up with amazing music from the Spring and Summer all Fall, or miss them entirely. So here’s a bit of switch up from the normal Singles Going Steady or Video Round Up, with multi-song releases you have to hear whenever I need to share them. I’ve been way behind in posting this one, so there may be another before the week is through or one at the top of next week. Also, the regular five singles to soothe your soul will be out later this week as well. Cheers!

Photo by RaySquared - Ray² Productions

Young Mothers – “They Were Right” b​/​w “It’s Hard”

Zach Toporek is the visionary behind Young Mothers and though he’s been laying low for a few years, he appears to have come back with a vengeance. Well, maybe not a vengeance, but he came back with two fantastic tunes if nothing else. At first I was going to write all about how much I love the ’70s AM rock meets modern Indie pop on “They Were Right” and how the healthy cynicism embedded in the wry lyrics making illuminating social commentary. Then Toporek added “It’s Hard” to bandcamp and I fell in love with that tune on a completely different level. “It’s Hard” has that minimalist busking sound that’s at the heart of the first few albums by Violent Femmes, before it goes into a ’60s pop thing with harmonies for the chorus. It’s possibly more fascinating than the A-side, honestly. Two grooves juxtaposed for maximum pleasure. I hope this is just the start of Young Mothers’ return and Toporek is only beginning to harness new lightning for a different age. There’s no way I could choose between these two, but luckily it’s the modern age and I don’t have to, I can only recommend you listen to both. Though Toporek played everything himself on the record, you should catch this act live as he adds Jason Roedl (Mergence) and Jess Pruitt (The Bittersweet Way, Doctor Bones) to the mix. They will be making their debut this Thursday, July 20th at Valley Bar where they will be joined by The Rifle and Counsel Bluffs!


Sunn Trio – Sunn Trio

I pretty much like my jazz like I like my friends, which is to say, free, loose and experimental. I listen to and write a lot about rock and it’s various derivations, but when I need a break from rock, pop, and hip-hop, my first go to is jazz. Once I escape the confines of verse/chorus/verse I usually want to take it to the limit. Sunn Trio’s fantastic eponymously title album is just the thing to do the trick. There’s not a bad moment here, unless you hate jazz or you dislike a distinctly avant garde direction to your jazz. On the other hand jazz has always been a release to me, like painting, both of which I rarely write about and that’s because both are liberating–whether it’s exploring the outer reaches with Sun Ra or laying down some strokes on an abstract canvas, the feelings rush through me and can’t necessarily be defined by language. Still, whether I can qualify it or not, I know what I like and Sunn Trio is the kind of stuff I dig. Then again, I can listen to six hours straight of Glenn Branca guitar orchestras, so your mileage may vary. Hell, I would have been happy with only the ten minute madness of the opener “Beneath The Sheltering Sun,” but that’s literally the tip of the iceberg here. If you don’t catch on to the influences of world music on this stunning record, the titles should illuminate you, but how do you turn something like “Hashshashins of Alamut” into a raging torrent of jazz, but also something that wouldn’t seem out of place in a chase scene through a Middle East market in a spy film? The entire album is something to be experienced and for that you may have to give it a little bit of yourself in return. I assure you it’s worth it. If you want to get daring, put it on repeat and have it playing for hours in the background.


Golf! – Golf!

I think I found out about this EP the day after I put the Summer issue of JAVA to bed, which is bound to happen, but I hate when it happens this time of year. I don’t know who Mike Ross (Drums, Bass, Vocals), Martyn Duffy (Guitar, Vocals), Matt Hotez (Trombone) and Mike Castro (Trumpet) are, but they sure have my ticket punched on how I like my Math rock and jazz infused post punk, that’s for damn sure. “Mr. Submarine” grabbed me immediately and I thought, “Well, this sounds like no one else in this town and that’s half the battle.” Then the damn record just better and better, song after song until I was dizzy, spinning in my chair, grinning wildly, all high on “discovery.” Clearly, “Mr. Submarine” and “We Buy Gold” are the singles by default, but I couldn’t choose and I didn’t want to break apart the record at any point. “Driller” drills home the breathy shoegaze vocals even more than the opener did, but it’s an aspect that makes more of an impact here, because it’s slightly less Math rock at the start. It comes off a bit like RIDE with infinitely complex time signatures and presumably Ross going apeshit with the percussion and rhythms. “Ancient Aliens” makes me think that Golf! should probably start opening for Celebration Guns every chance they can get, and maybe befriend Twin Ponies, because that particular trio could blow your mind when combined for a few evenings. In fact I’m not sure I’ve been this excited about this kind of music since the debut of both of those bands some years ago. Their debut finishes with “Vice-Like”, which is a surprise to say the least with its peculiar acoustic guitar opening, minimalist arrangement and melancholic vibe. It kicks into gear about a minute and a half in and the artistry of the entire record when appreciated as a whole is understood. Seriously one of the finest records of the year.


Photo by Elaine Thomas Campbell

Qais Essar – M​.​O​.​A​.​B. | Millions of Afghans Bombed

Qais Essar is Phoenix’ premiere Sitar artist and may well be one of the finest in the nation. Since the release of last year’s Tavern of Ruin he’s been on something of a prolific roll with three releases so far this year.  This three song treasure should be consumed in its entirety for maximum value, which is why I wanted to present it as such. Whether it’s the excitement of the pace and chanting in “Revolutions: Prelue” which features Jason Wiedman, the dulcid tones of “Zindagi Akhir Sar Ayad” which features Joshua Hill (The Hill In Mind) or the transcendental finale of “P.M. Bokharensis (Song of)” the entire record flows like an emotional painting made with brushstrokes dipped in the stream of infinite consciousness. M​.​O​.​A​.​B. feels like a complicated meditation that while it starts by making your soul restless, by the end you have made peace with yourself and reality, however stark and terrible it may be. Again, that’s how it feels to me with the conclusion featuring the sounds of birds and water flowing in the background. The resolution comes in how your perception addresses reality, mindful of all that is involved, offering perhaps, only love and confusion in the end. It is succinct, concise and above all, tremendously powerful in a way that can only fortify your existence.


Joe Vito – “Painted Ladies” b/w “Blue Dress

Joe Vito is a 17 year old wunderkind that I’ve been following since the start, which is to say for just over a year when he began putting out music. State Street was one of my favorite albums of last year and I tagged him as one of the best young artists to watch this year. The good news is that Vito has been nothing but prolific since the album release, the bad news is that he’s moving to Nashville. Well, really that’s only bad news for us, it’s phenomenal for him. He held an amazing show with his band The Calamari Kids at Crescent as a farewell gig, but also as a celebration for the double A side single he released that same day. It was pretty amazing evening and two of the finest performances of the evening were indeed “Painted Ladies” and “Blue Dress.” “Painted Ladies” is a song that Elton John and Bernie Taupin should be jealous that they didn’t come up with in their hey day, but I’m not sure Taupin could have figured out how to slam “bourgeoisie” into a lyric with such deft grace as Vito has here. It’s such an amazing song filled with brilliant imagery that every verse is a painting unto itself, each chorus a film. “Blue Dress” gets the guitar right up front and gives the keys a rest for a lovely waltz that blends jazz and Americana together to create a Mid America treat for the ears. This song feels like it was written to be a lovely dance with your sweetheart, hearts beating as one in an empty dancehall with the moonlight providing the spotlight through an uncurtained window. Now that Vito is being unleashed in Nashville, keep your ears peeled for great things from this lad. Let’s hope he blesses us with a show or two if he comes home for a visit.