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MUSIC: 8 new recordings keep Arkansas music fresh

by Sean Clancy | September 15, 2022 at 1:31 a.m.
“I Killify You” is the latest EP from Little Rock band Dangerous Idiots. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Jake Rutherford)

Plenty of Arkansas musicians have spent the summer working on new songs, and now all those jams are hitting the streets (or streaming services) which is good news for music fans. From full-length albums to singles and EPs, there are some really cool releases out now. Here are a few:

◼️ Dangerous Idiots, "I Killify You" — Fronted by singer-songwriter-guitarist Aaron Sarlo, Dangerous Idiots can always be counted on to deliver smart, immensely catchy '90s-tinged alt-rock, and "I Killify You" is no exception. Sarlo is joined by Randy Harsey (drums) and Jake Rutherford (bass) for this four-song EP, which was released Aug. 5 on Sarlo's Legitimate Businessman Records.

It's a mainline hit of power-trio adrenaline as Sarlo rages against the horror of mass shootings on "Sunny With a Chance of Bullets," goes full-on Queens of the Stone Age on "Rope" and praises the power of a good love on the anthemic "Wi-Fi." And then there's "If You Don't Smoke Pot, I Don't Trust You," an ode to weed that starts as a sort of electrified hoe-down then somehow morphs into a bona fide stadium rocker before returning to the quaint, country riff from the beginning, all in just under four minutes. It's an absolute hoot.

  photo  Suckerpuncher, “Never Nothing Left to Say” (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Isaac Alexander)
◼️ Suckerpuncher, "Never Nothing Left to Say" — Little Rock singer-songwriter Matt Boone makes his debut on this shimmering LP of 90's-tinged indie-pop. Boone, who works as a social worker and psychotherapist, had a few songs and was looking to collaborate when he passed along a few demos to drummer Dave Hoffpauir. They were joined by bassist Jason Weinheimer at Weinheimer's Fellowship Hall Sound studios and recording began (others involved with the recording include Tom Peters, Nick Gallante and Cory Myler).

It's one of those records that offers up revelations upon each listen. "Tenterhooks," the propulsive opening track, has a sweet little Cars-inspired synth line; "Joyless Thing" is a Matthew Sweet-type indie rocker; "Something Beautiful," a lyric which gives the record its title, has Boone singing about "something beautiful to kill the pain," an image that kind of haunts me. And stick around for "Mercy," a tender wish for strength, safety and happiness and the perfect closing track to this promising debut.

  photo  “Holy Souls” by Little Rock band Fox Green (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Isaac Alexander)
◼️ Fox Green, "Holy Souls" — Hoffpauir is also behind the kit with Fox Green, the roots-pop outfit that includes singer-guitarist Wade Derden, guitarist Cam Patterson (chancellor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences), keyboardist Gaines Fricke and bassist Jay Gentry. "Holy Souls" also features Weinheimer on guitars and organ, backing vocalists Genine Perez and Sara Thomas and horns by Art Edmaiston, Martin McCain and Marc Franklin, the latter of whom also arranged the horn section, which brings a Southern soul vibe to the party.

The album, with songs written by Derden and Patterson, is the follow-up to the 2020 debut, "The Longest April," and this thing packs a punch. "Feast of All Saints" is a revved-up ripper; the title cut is a bleary-eyed ballad and the centerpiece might be the rambling, hypnotic blues of "Howlin' (AKA Howlin' Wolf Talking Blues)," that features backing howls and vocals by Perez. "Then There's You," a duet between Derden and Perez, has a swaying groove and is a tribute to good love and good times.

◼️ Rocket Coma, "Vs. the End of the World" — This Fayetteville six-piece returns with a new dose of punked-up, garage-psych, fuzztone freakouts. "Vs. the End of the World" is 10 songs of glorious, barbed-wire weirdness that reminds us of something between early Flaming Lips, Dead Kennedys, the Melvins and Rocket from the Crypt.

From the powerful buzz and crash of "The End" and the spooky "Quarantine" to the surreal "Gameboy," the end of the world doesn't stand a chance against the mighty Rocket Coma.

  photo  “Southern Girls” is the latest single by Little Rock band Adventureland. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Lexi Adams)
◼️ Adventureland, "Southern Girls" — The latest single from Little Rock indie-rockers Adventureland — Nate Drahn, Daniel Grear, Travis Kish — is a gender-bending anthem of queer joy and longing that is one of those tracks you put on repeat and listen to over and over again. I can imagine it being a joyous singalong jam in concert.

The band says a new album is on the way and will be mixed by Bennett Littlejohn (Hovvdy, Sinae Vesell, Katy Kirby), who also played pedal steel on "Southern Girls." The as-yet-untitled record should be out this fall or winter and will be the follow-up to 2020's excellent "Hopes of Closure."

◼️ Goon Des Garcons*, "Purist*" — The Little Rock rapper, who records for Def Jam, dropped this slinky new banger last Friday. It's just two minutes long but packs a lot of information — lyrically and sonically — in that short span. No word if there's an LP on the way, but this track slaps hard.

◼️ Brian Nahlen (featuring Steve James Indie) "We are the Enemy" — North Little Rock singer-songwriter Nahlen throws a curve ball on this track. It's a slow-jam, jazzy, R&B arrangement that finds Nahlen despairing over the state of the world before concluding that the enemy is us. At about the halfway point, however, Nahlen's sleepy baritone gives way to rapper Steve James Indie, who comes in blazing over the laid-back groove and whose raging verses turn more personal and urgent. The result is a stone stunner of a song.

  photo  “Memory Lane” is the new single by Little Rock duo Rich Hoochies. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Timothy Trice)
◼️ Rich Hoochies, "Memory Lane" — Little Rock female rap duo Rich Hoochies, featuring cousins Jaye and Shugga, honor those lost to gun violence in this emotional track. "This song was written to express our sympathy on the violence we see every day," they say. "Losing someone so dear to you due to gun violence hurts. So we decided to write about it."


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