September is over, and in Arizona that means fall is mostly here. (Those 90-plus-degree days still won’t be cast aside so easily.) So, as the days get shorter, and the magic of autumn begins to overtake young and old alike, why not commemorate with more great tunes? And as they have every single month, local artists delivered great tunes across the musical spectrum. (Plus, each entry pairs nicely with either cider punch or a pumpkin spice latte.) These are our picks for the best songs of the month.
Mega Ran, ‘Godly Dreams (Keep Risin’)’
Mega Ran is no stranger to turning video games into exceptional hip-hop music. He’s got songs and albums inspired by everything from Final Fantasy VII and City of Heroes to River City Ransom and Sonic the Hedgehog — not to mention an entire collection of Mega Man LPs. Now, the Valley MC celebrates all things mid-’90s, including the excellent NBA Live 95, with his latest album, Live ’95. Before the full LP debuts on October 22, Mega Ran has unveiled the excellent “Godly Dreams (Keep Risin’).” With his trademark creativity and bountiful heart, he delivers a stream of uplifting, hugely motivational rhymes over sleepy instrumentation, encouraging listeners to remain positive and “keep rising to the top.” In the immortal words of the announcer from the equally great NBA Jam Live, “He’s on fire!”
Secret Attraction, ‘A Love That Never Fades Away’
We last heard from Derek Wise, a.k.a. Secret Attraction, back in February. His three-song True Love EP was the perfect soundtrack for Valentine’s Day, a hugely sensual, doubly romantic collection perfect for romances of all shapes and durations. And though we may now be closer to Halloween, Wise continues to bring the same kinds of extra dreamy pop with the nine-track Sensitivity/Drifting. Almost any cut will have you feeling some type of way, but give extra attention to the standout, “A Love That Never Fades Away.” Maybe it’s the extra-nostalgic synth; the pitter-patter of drum machines; or Wise’s ever-playful croon — regardless, he’s reached a peak in his journey to bring New Wave to a modern audience. Be sure to spin this one as you’re driving up a scenic mountain road or frolicking late-night on a beach.
Musician Alexander Danieli, who goes by the moniker FLOWERBOY, describes himself on Bandcamp as “likely going through either an existential crisis or an anxietal one.” Maybe that reads great on an Instagram bio, but it doesn’t really do much to explain the Phoenix-based rocker’s output. No, to understand that, you’re going to have to listen to his latest album, Possessor, and more specifically the album track “Henry.” Here, you have Danieli’s perfect sonic representation: the jagged, slightly out of tune acoustic guitar; the lo-fi sensibility; and sentimental, slightly hokey lines like, “The only way I live is just inside your shadow.” This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but Danieli’s take on indie pop is as singular and deliberate as it is generally thoughtful and enjoyable. Like he says, you can “find warmth and joy if we are brave enough to seek them out,” and some people might appreciate the added leg work.
Pig City/Antichrist Demoncore, ‘Got a Lot to Say’ (Ramones Cover)
Covering the Ramones is a true test for any great punk band. For one, they must have the chutzpah and gumption to tackle such icons. And two, even if they do have said stones, the quality of the final piece says volumes about the band itself. In the case of generally good Ramones covers, you can now add a split rendition of “Got a Lot to Say” by Phoenix’s Pig City and L.A. hardcore legends Antichrist Demoncore to that short-ish list. The cover, part of a new three-song split, is a barrage of blown-out, extra gnarly crust punk that almost feels filthy upon entering the ears. But amid all that harsh vibes and harsher noise, you get the sense that this collective have nailed the sneer and endless attitude of the original. Just be sure to wear protective earplugs when listening — and maybe some sturdy safety goggles to boot.
DOMS are, based solely on their social media, not the greatest at self-promotion. But what they lack in any real marketing savvy, they more than make up for with their sporadic releases of super noisy, deeply infectious psych-punk. Case in point: their new two-song single, “Model Head” b/w “Evil Twin.” The former is two minutes of raw, hyper-anxious garage punk, with the combination of manic crooning and repetitive guitar drilling directly into the brain pan. It’s not as painful as it sounds, and DOMS are experts in promoting catharsis with the most basic of sounds/instrumentation. Should you also listen to the equally catchy fury that is “Evil Twin”? Yes, but only if you think you can handle the sheer aural chaos without slamming a fifth of whiskey and then running headlong into a wall.