By Tom Reardon, May 2019 Issue.
Kinda like two truths and a lie, this month features two relatively new local Arizona bands and one old British band. Spring has fully sprung and there is a little something for almost everyone blooming here, so kick back and enjoy a cold one with these three unique releases.
Gorky — Mathemagician
Hailing from the White Mountains of Arizona, Gorky represents what has to be a bit of an anomaly in rural Arizona. The band, which is led by Jesse Michael-Geronimo Valencia (who is a supercool and incredibly busy man who is the mastermind behind the proposal to create a new county in Arizona and the author of a new book on the infamous band, The Brian Jonestown Massacre), delivers the garage-y, indie rock goods on Mathemagician, which is their third full-length record. If you dig early Weezer (when they were not making shitty cover records) but also like a sprinkle of The Pixies and a dash of The Strokes, and a really nice nod to Tucson faves, Lenguas Largas, you have Gorky. That’s broad, I know, but listen to songs like “AM Radio” and see if you don’t fall in love. Valencia is the primary songwriter here, but his bandmates round out the sound nicely, especially drummer Ben Holladay who drives the songs with precision. The first single, “Action Pants” is a hook-y bit of garage rock that nods heavily towards Portland, Oregon’s Dandy Warhols. Picking up a copy of Mathemagician is highly recommended.
Gang Of Four — Happy Now
Some people probably think Gang Of Four hung up their attitude long ago and called it a day, but this is not the case. While their new record, Happy Now, is not on par with late ‘70s and early ‘80s efforts like Solid Gold or Entertainment by any stretch of the imagination, it is a solid record. Happy Now is super dance-y and electronic sounding, but guitarist Andy Gill (who is the only remaining original member) has his signature sound all over the record, even if it is not as blatant or cutting as past efforts. Songs like “Paper Thin” and “Change The Locks” have an almost early Depeche Mode sound to them, which comes off as a bit odd at first, but they grow on you just the same. “Toreador” may be my favorite off the record because it is the most reminiscent of early Gang Of Four, which is too bad, because it is the first song and the album never really reaches the same heights again. “Don’t Ask Me” sort of comes close, though, and “Ivanka — My Name’s On It” is clever in name only. This record is only a must for major Gang Of Four fans. All others should stick with the classics.
Mechanics Of The Mind – Reckless & Divided
Heavy music should be heavy. Seems like a simple enough concept, but a lot of heavy bands seem to forget, at least at some point in their career, what brought their fans to them in the first place. Case in point, Mechanics Of The Mind’s song “Cloud’s Of Dust” off their new record, Reckless & Divided. Here is a song that knows exactly what it is supposed to be: big, heavy, and it sounds like the band is angry. The riffage is solid here, as it should be, with a group of veteran Phoenix musicians, and Reckless & Divided will please a lot of local heavy music fans. There is some Nu Metal sounds here that might turn off some more classic heavy metal fans, but it is not enough to make you spit out your Bud Light after a long night at Joe’s Grotto in Paradise Valley or Club Red in Mesa where the band seems to play a lot. “Gamble With The Devil” is a tad predictable, sure, but it also kind of reminds me of a superhero movie in that music like this is supposed to be fun and not make you think a lot, so throw on some black leather pants and get on down to see Mechanics Of The Mind next time they play.