The musical brilliance of “Arizona” is in the developments and nuances that were not initially apparent. While enjoyment of the song from Dirt Friends arrives with the first listen, the appreciation for “Arizona” and the band’s effort and skills grow with each careful listen to the single. The song puts a twist on a currently popular expression – “the special is in the detail.”
Dissecting the first minute of “Arizona” demonstrates the point. During the initial seconds, appealing two-element percussion begins gathering listeners’ attention. Interestingly, when the first guitar enters, the percussion continues but with increased pitch and decreased resonance. Soon (0:21), a nuanced guitar layers a highly effective hook onto the rhythm. Is that a mixing-induced “color change” at 0:35? When the vocals enter, “Arizona” is brought to its full texturing.
Briefly praising the vocals, it is the diversity that is most appealing. During verses, the lyrics are presented more rhythmically than melodically. But that reverses during the chorus. Still, our favorite section of “Arizona” is the raspier, more passionate vocalization that begins at 4:14.
“Arizona" is a single from Dirt Friends' unreleased second album, "Close Enough." They are Tucson-based Indie Rockers. The members of Dirt Friends are Josh Cruce (drums), Emery Mott (bass), Nick Livak (piano, vocals), Nick Scala (guitar, vocals), and Scott Sims (guitar, vocals).
With his single “Baby Books,” Michael Baker combines sit-back-and-appreciate vocals with a rhythm that conveys a sense of determined, steady forward movement. The song shows Baker’s comfortableness in the upper vocal range and masterfully adds what is likely a harmonica at 2:36 to increase the sonic beauty. When asked about “Baby Books,” Baker said:
“I wrote this track after a friend lost their battle to mental health. Mental health is something that has been so up and down in my own life and something that I find so difficult to talk about without wanting the ground to swallow me up whole. It's been so amazing to know that people everywhere are talking more about these things and that whoever you are there is a support network around you. This in turn has given me the strength to talk about it not just in song but in this very interview too.”
Michael Baker is from Brighton, UK, but is now based in London.
There is an immediate warmth and sense of belonging when listening to the songs on “The War Parade,” the album of Camera Thief. It’s not mere déjà vu, since there is also the excitement that accompanies discovering new territory. Instead, the comfort is similar to first meeting someone and somehow instantly feeling a welcoming draw and a resolve to remain connected. After repeatedly listening to the album, the resolve has strengthened.
“The War Parade” won’t be officially released until March 2020. Two songs have been officially shared thus far, but all eight can be streamed via Spotify. Both “Modern Fiction” and “Starting Fires” demonstrate the mastery of Camera Thief in writing and executing extended intensity builds and sudden downtempo shifts. “Modern Fiction” is driven by “clean” guitars and resonant vocals. The song reaches a pinnacle, then shifts at 3:20 for the final cautionary verse, “Hold on tight / Don’t drop your guard…” In comparison, “Starting Fires” begins and ends by featuring the piano, the guitars are less clean, and the percussion is more aggressive.
As strong as the vocals are in those two singles, the attractiveness noticeably increases during the lyrical layering in “Running Out of Road.” It is first heard at the one-minute mark. This vocals-driven track from the album will certainly surface as the favorite for a portion of the building fan base of Camera Thief.
Then, there is the melodic trombone toward the end of “Left Behind” and the percussion intro of “Medicine for Aching Hearts.” Camera Thief has the elements that promise a staying power. They are a Philadelphia-based band with two pairs of brothers. The members are Joe Duffey (vocals, guitar), Pasquale DeFazio (guitar), Brendan Duffey (keyboards, piano), Robert DeFazio (drums), and Joe Hartnett (bass, trombone).
“Modern Fiction” by Camera Thief (lyrics are toward the bottom of this post)