The Phoenix Musicians’ Must-Try Songs of July 2022
The past few years have been difficult for everyone on many levels simultaneously. (Heck, the last few months only were a deluge of bad news and other strange occurrences) And that’s where we could say that good music can be the best medicine for whatever ails you. But that might not always be the case, and there are things that even a great song can’t penetrate. Instead, think of these songs as a perfect example of the things in life worth fighting for – great art that attempts to explain our times and give us much-needed direction. Here are our picks for the best local music of the month.
Heavy breathing, ‘Blacked Out’
In May 2019, Phoenix New Times Streamlined Heavy Breather. Made up of members of several other acclaimed local bands, the five-piece band stood out for their muddy, extra-triumphant take on punk. Now, after taking the time to write and record, the band are about to release their second album, Deleted from memory, August 1st. Our first look at the eight-track LP comes complete with the title track. On the one hand, it’s still 140 seconds of blasted, ultra-cynical punk rock that the band have been refining since 2013. On the other hand, it all hits a little differently after all that time apart.
Paper foxes, ‘Heart-Strings’
There were several reasons Paper Foxes were named Best Local Band of 2021. Chief among these were singles like “Crystal Ball” and “Power Out”, which saw Phoenix’s “Death Disco Darlings” improve. their game by creating playful, sometimes dancefloor ditties. This month they return once again with another perfect cut to cut the rug into “Heart-Strings”. Whether it’s those big chunky synths; frontman CJ Jacobson’s extra sharp croon; or the aesthetic of Berlin-meets-1970-New-York, this track feels like a deep step forward. Just be sure to wear your best skintight suit whenever this song plays.
Veronica Everheart, ‘Strawberry Jam’
She may have temporarily moved to New York, but Veronica Everheart will always be a beloved local talent. So when the singer-songwriter releases new music, like she did with new single “Strawberry Jam,” it kind of feels like a homecoming. It may be that new address, or his continued training, but Everheart shines brighter on this track, marrying an energetic, slightly funky indie rock jam with extra-edgy lyrics (see, “And I’ve already found the right words to say / Nothing but repetitions”). Maybe this just proves that home is where the rock is?
JPW, ‘Halfway to Eloy’
Jason P. Woodbury is a Renaissance man here in the valley. He was a writer and editor (including for new times); has hosted several podcasts (including for Wastoids); and he even performs in two groups, Kitimoto and the solo project JPW. It’s that last outfit that’s been Woodbury’s focus lately, as he’ll be releasing Something happens / always happens September 9. So what kind of musical marvels has Woodbury created in his multi-faceted career? Why new singles like “Halfway to Eloy”, an elegant and serious rock ballad celebrating the wonders of our wonderful desert home.
CHKLZ, Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” Remix
And speaking of local music prodigies, CHKLZ features the talent of Henri Benard, who was the drummer for the Dry River Yacht Club and Okilly Dokilly, among others. With CHKLZ, however, he fully embraces a love of house and electronic music, and never is this more apparent than with the duo’s latest release, the wedding crushers EP. Here, Benard and his partner LeMarshawn Jean offer a pair of remixes, “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” by Belinda Carlisle and “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies. While both are worthy of your dance moves, the former is a straight shot of late 80s house music magic.
Joan of Arkansas, “Say Anything”
If you’ve never heard of this local sludge pop group, there are only two things you really need to know: 1. they describe themselves as weird and loud and 2. they met via Craigslist and Tinder . If you need somehow After info before pledging unwavering allegiance to the band, then listen to their new EP, ¡Distortionist! The entire six-track effort exemplifies their maniacal take on punk, but pay special attention to the real standout, “Say Anything.” This mutant pop-garage hybrid is both an emotionally poignant power-pop ballad and a crisp blast of pure garage rock goodness.
DOMS, “impulse reaction”
Regular readers of this column will know that DOMS are seriously awesome. Each release deftly blurs the line between punk, garage, and psychedelic, and their bizarre aesthetic only extends genuine tracks. But now they’re trying something a little different, like DOMCORP VOL. 1 calls on singer Dani Heykoop for two tracks, “Order of Operations” and “Impulse Reaction”. There’s definitely a lot of commonality between the two tracks, with a heavy emphasis on angular guitars and loads of dissonance. But as “Impulse Reaction” demonstrates, Heykoop’s presence adds a new layer of depth and bite to DOMS’ overall sound.
8OhEight, “The Dog Park”
For most of 2021, local producer 8OhEight was on a hot streak. This includes February Pay-Per-View, May Pineapple Banana Breadand October This remix tape. But while 2022 was a little more laid back, release-wise, 8OhEight finally roared back in July with The Cocoa Strip, in honor of a fallen animal. But don’t let “dead dog” sink you too emotionally, as the six-track effort is hugely celebratory. Example: “The Dog Park”. With heavy drums added to a melancholy flute, the track evokes memories of happy summer days with a canine companion or other loved one who has since passed away.
Frida Kill, ‘Demons’
There’s a tendency to think of Mega Ran as just another nerd rapper. But he’s so much more than that, and he put his money where he talks with RIGHT TO CHOOSE, The Mixtape. Here, the local MC has brought together 11 artists from various genres to help benefit the Abortion Fund of Arizona. As Mega Ran himself says, he views abortion as “a fundamental human right, essential for equality, health and dignity.” And if helping a great cause wasn’t enough, we get stars like Frida Kill’s “Demons.” This Brooklyn-based band is truly representative of the often angry, always cathartic tunes that make up this vital collection.
Jason Kron, “You’re a great place to raise a family”
Whether you recognize his name or not, Jason Kron is something of a local musical luminary. During the 2000s, he was a member of local acts like Treasure Mammal, Sugar Skull Explosion, and Plague Party, among a dozen others. Now he goes solo with Hide until it’s time for hell, a collection of 12 horror-themed spoken word tracks paired with ambient backgrounds. The whole LP is quite funny and scary, but be sure to listen to “You’re a Great Place to Raise a Family”. It is either taken from a basic cable version of Tales from the Crypt or a lost recording of your weird uncle – either way, a really goofy gem.