Hot Wax: Local Albums You Might Have Missed
Now that we're a little over halfway done with the year, I figured now would be a good time to take tally of the awesome musicians we have in our town. This is in no way a comprehensive list, just a handful of local jams that caught my attention, and which I think you'll enjoy as well.
Gabriel Naim Amor
This ambient/jazz release from Parisian gone Tucson-local is the latest in a storied career. It doesn't play like a youngster delivering his opus, it plays more like a master reminding you of what he's capable of—but a crowning achievement it may still be. This relatively brief album attempts to capture "the occurrence of an imminent change or event", and does so quite well. The light strings drift in and out alongside looped guitar and upright bass. Perfect for close listening during meditation or to have on in the background while doing housework on a rainy morning.
Seed & Silo
Multi-instrumentalist Rebekah Rolland's debut album is as stuffed full of passion and poetry as it is with novel songwriting ideas. Starting with a bluegrass template, the desert songstress adds intricate layers of strings and vocals to create folk tales that demand your attention. The pastoral stories it weaves conjure images of barefoot forest walks and nocturnal conversations on the porch. Although the album isn't officially released yet, it is available for online streaming; and if first listens prove true, I'll be enjoying this album of songs-like-diary-entries for a quite a while.
Possibly the most expansive local release I've heard this year, Desert Sounds captures the landscape, biology, history and culture of Arizona in an hour's worth of music... Yeah. Whether it's field recordings, gothic country, folk pop, or desert rock, Acosta's newest release works like a travelogue for your ears. A lot of musicians celebrate the sights and sounds of the Sonoran desert, but not many do it so effectively and wholly as this local songwriter.
They see no life
As enigmatic as the artist's name and the track titles is the music of this instrumental hip hop album. This release could be swallowed up in the "lo-fi hip hop" phenomenon if the production wasn't so slick and eclectic. Part of the time it's danceable, other times it's wonky, and sometimes it's outright claustrophobic. But it never fails to be fascinating and groovy.
Spiritual Realm EP
This debut EP runs just over 10 minutes, but multiple discoveries can be found on repeat listens. As the band describes it, they used '70s jazz fusion as a jumping off point. They're a jazz band, no doubt about that, but contain perceptible influences from hip hop, R&B, funk and rock. The electric keyboards and restrained drumming give the music a contemporary, urban vibe and when the thick bass notes linger in, it's hard not to get into a groove. This isn't to detract from the brass, however. The saxophone seamlessly jumps between cool droning which allows room for the other instruments, and taking center stage with melodic, wailing solos.