Saturday, March 8, 2014

horizon i (Republish)

They offer no disclaimers, no excuses, no flashy image, and certainly no gimmicks. They are horizon i. For a long time now it has seemed to me that in order to be considered a part of the “Arizona music scene” one needed a western shirt, the occasional cowboy hat, and a strong inclination towards the C chord. horizon i takes a sledgehammer to the front windows of my misconception.

In September, horizon i released their first full length album, appropriately titled horizon i. I can't remember the last time that I listened to a new record from the beginning to the end with such complete attention. horizon i’s new album changed all that as I continued from one song to the next without a single pause. The only frustrating part was when a song ended I did not know whether to continue on to the next song or replay the song I had just listened to. Their album is so much more than songs. This album is a movement. It is a journey that will leave the listener with chills rooted in deep emotional honesty.

Cliff Hockersmith’s lyrics are the secret weapon that make the listener want to get up and do something. They are not just clever mottoes of social and personal change. They are words that he fully stands behind and lives by. His passion for not only his own music, but pretty much anyone out there just trying to “make it happen” is contagious.

horizon i also comes complete with astonishing live performances.

Their energy and stage presence, spontaneous and unplanned, transcends that of a typical rock band. Between Cliff, mostly bare-footed, passionately banging on the guitar and wailing into the microphone, Mark Anderson singing alongside Cliff while he beats out bass lines and explores the space of the entire stage, and Anthony Francis who sits not-so-quietly in the back, it is hard to determine who to watch.

Where so many try and fail, pretend, or falsely claim to have, horizon i has without even trying. From heavy-hitting rock to captivating, uplifting ballads horizon i is a musical breath of fresh air.

True to their socialistic philosophy, the band applies a simliar approach to the marketing of their merchandise and music. As they’ve stated “We want you to enjoy our music much more than we want your money,” and it is only more proof that horizon i is for real.

Originally published: November 1, 2011 (changed one word and one spelling error, but otherwise unedited).

Flagstaff, AZ - Special Report (Republish)

The Haymarket Squares (Republish)

The Haymarket Squares may be the most punk rock local band that I have ever heard. Yet, their album Dancing in the Streets does not contain a single second of guitar distortion. This “punkgrass for the people” band uses choruses filled with harmony, a variety of strings (yep a mandolin is one of those instruments,) stand-up bass, a kazoo, whistling, drums, and a variety of angry, awe-inspiring lyrics to capture the essence of punk rock.

The Haymarket Squares use their music to tackle issues with passion and dedication and without coming off as contrived douche bags. Songs of discontent, social injustice, and contempt for the walls around all of us are what I personally love to hear stomping out of this stagnant desert.

I recently saw the Haymarket Squares for the first time and I wish that I had known their songs prior to seeing them live so that I could scream along like some sweaty raving lunatic fan boy that makes the band uncomfortable but all the while gives them the appreciation that they deserve. “I DON’T WANNA BE A BULLET CATCHER…”

Whether belting out songs of change in the middle of the crowd, an impromptu Anti-Arpaio protest, or a street corner jam, the Haymarket Squares are the type of band that arouses a strong urge to throw all of your pocket change and a dollar into their guitar cases while scoffing at the uninspired sad bastard playing out of tune and half drunk in front of the library. “No sir.”

These gentlemen are revolutionaries fighting the good fight against religious intolerance, Sheriff Joe, idiots in traffic, and the scourge of that evil marijuana stuff. Wait? Clearly, sarcasm is also one of their strong suits and for me it merely adds another notch of awesome to their already strong appeal. Dancing in the Streets has an intelligent anger that helps to validate my own pretentious asshole comments on stupid people and society as we know it. The best aspect of their album Dancing in the Streets is that listening to it would most likely cause a conservative to spontaneously combust.

Originally, I thought that I would easily grow tired of the Haymarket Squares’ particular sound. However, in retrospect I have no clue why I ever considered that a possibility. Despite the album’s release in 2010 Dancing in the Streets in my favorite local album of 2012. I’ve already listened to the album four times over and will continue repeating the album over until I can no longer stand them. Therein lies my pathetic excuse for a complaint and conclusion. Dancing in the Streets by the Haymarket Squares is too short, but that’s not much of a complaint, is it?

Originally published: May 1, 2012 (unedited).

Fayuca (Republish)

I am continually amazed at the variety of music that Arizona has to offer. Fayuca is a perfect example of some colorful blends of genre available. The reggae-ska-punk of Fayuca better serves the memory of Bradley Nowell of Sublime than the remaining members of the band itself accomplished with their most recent release Sublime with Rome.

Fayuca, even though they take on stages much larger, would be the ultimate Cheba Hut house band. If someone in the room has not lit up a doobie within the first two minutes of Fayuca playing I suggest that you start the track over because someone is missing something. However, to their credit and to not cheapen their music that doob is not all that necessary but they certainly complement each other. If you know what I’m saying.

I have a hard time admitting my undying love for ska. Fayuca makes me proud of my weird penchant for skanking poorly for an hour or until puking (whichever comes first). There is not a single song that I dislike. The band has a very unique and genuine blending of angry punk rock and soothing reggae that most other reggae-influenced music lacks. The emotions of their songs are cohesive and constant. There is no beginning or ending to the joy and tranquility nor to the anger and fight.

Everything about the arrangement of Fayuca’s music is spot on and that terrifies the hell out of me. There are moments when listening to Fayuca that cause a catharsis of tranquility all while still grounded in my angry reality. Fayuca instead joins the listener with cooperation.

Recently, awarded “KWSS’s Best Reggae Song of 2011” and a signing with the prestigious Fervor Records, Fayuca will have a new album out this fall and I can’t wait. Whether you’re a fan of reggae, punk, pot, ska, or music in general I highly recommend listening to Fayuca as soon as possible. It will fill a void in your life.

Original published: May 1, 2012 (unedited).