Two independent record stores: Stinkweeds and Revolver

Phoenix suffers in comparison to some other major American cities in certain categories. It isn’t a Los Angeles, San Francisco or Portland (no one’s a Portland) when it comes to record store proliferation. But that’s all the more reason to spotlight the fighters out here who make Phoenix a place worth living for avid music fans.

In Phoenix, Stinkweeds and Revolver Records are two of the very best music spots around. Here’s why each holds its own.

Stinkweeds is a venerable independently owned record store that ought to be ranked with some of the best nationally. It’s not downtown, but it’s just off the light rail station at Camelback and Central Avenue, making it a worthy stop for music lovers from anywhere in Phoenix.

stinkweeds

Stinkweeds has a remarkable selection of new records and CDs, which is its strength, while it also reps racks and racks of used stuff. Stinkweeds is notable for its events and in-store concerts. It’s also a great location to pick up music books and magazines — it’s the only place I know of to buy 33 percent books, the series that covers classic albums — or to buy tickets to concerts around the Valley. Stinkweeds is likely the best one-stop shop for any Phoenician music lover.

inside stink

Revolver Records, on Second and Roosevelt streets, is one of the most bustling stores in the Valley. With a mind-boggling collection of used records and frequent turnover of recent arrivals, Revolver is the best location for the avid crate-digger. It also wins for its specialization in genres like metal and jazz (bring back the psych rock section!).

rev recs

For those not prone to search for a diamond in the rough among dusty classic rock, First Fridays is the best time to visit. In addition to hosting art, food and live music on its lawn, Revolver always whips out their best findings from the previous month on First Fridays, so the cream of the crop is readily apparent to any visitor.

inside rev

In related news: the Ghost of Eastside Records, in a Tempe location last year just outside the ASU campus, is currently in limbo. An August email from the owner announcing that a new location was forthcoming has yet to be followed up. Hopefully, Eastside chooses to set a permanent brick-and-mortar home somewhere in the Valley, instead of relegating its remarkable collection to the reliable but ephemeral online station of eBay.

Profile: Sister Lip

Amid a constant sea of new local bands, Mesa-based Sister Lip provides a refreshing twist in the music mecca that is metropolitan Phoenix. The jazz-inspired all-female group, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary this month, has been brightening up local venues around the area and across the country with its unique and soulful vibes.

Photo by Becky Brisley/DD

Photo by Becky Brisley/DD

Sister Lip consists of vocalist and guitarist Cassidy Hilgers, keyboardist and vocalist Jenny Rebecca, drummer Ariel Monet and bassist and vocalist Cheri French.

“(Our formation) was an accident,” Monet said. “They asked me to fill in for them until they found a better drummer. I’m good, though, so it doesn’t matter.”

According to the group, the fact that they are all female is incidental as well. Hilgers and Rebecca were the only two left from a previous project, and they were seeking out new members. The band originally had a male drummer. Then, after seeing French’s bass skill, Sister Lip was formed.

“Our bassist happened to be a girl. She’s really good, and she was just born that way,” Monet added.

The group released their first EP in February and released an acoustic album in July. Sister Lip went on an acoustic tour to showcase their skill and said their acoustic album is more of a demo rather than an embodiment of their normal sound.

“It’s definitely the more detailed version of our music,” Rebecca said. “Our live stuff is louder. (With this album) we could sing the vocals more separately and everything is very low-sounding.”

Sister Lip is planning on creating both a cdbaby account and a Spotify in order to purchase that acoustic album and future ones. The band does plan on recording another full-length album once funding is received.

“We recorded a single (“Flat Pillow”) at this studio called Chaton,” Hilgers said. “I think we’re just going to go around and do one (song) at one place and another at another place.”

Until then, their EP is available for free download and most of their acoustic tracks are available as well for $1. While the whole acoustic album is not yet available online, it can be purchased from the band at shows.

“There’s just some songs that you should have to pay for,” Monet said. “But we don’t care if people burn it and give it to a friend, that’s totally chill. Just give it to your friends, your dog, your grandma. Someone the other day was like ‘I’m really sorry I burned a copy for my mom’ and I’m like ‘burn ten more, I don’t know.’”

Sister Lip’s music embodies soulful jazz/blues with a few twists of modern beats and guitar riffs. Hilgers’ voice is full of vibrancy, pairing well with the smooth melodies belted out by the three other members and her own jazzy picks. Notable qualities are Rebecca’s powerful chords and use of harmonica, as well as Monet’s contemporary approach to syncopated beats and French’s stellar bass riffs.

Self-described as “jazzy blues rock,” each of the members has her own personal inspirations. Hilgers’ pick is Jeff Buckley, Rebecca’s is Regina Spektor, Monet’s is Neon Trees and French’s is lesser-known indie music, most notably Victor Wooten. Although the band has different influences, their sound is hard to compare to another artist.

“I don’t even try anymore (to compare us to anyone),” Rebecca said. “I can’t even.”

Sister Lip has performed at a number of locations in Phoenix and Tempe, as well as across the state. These venues include Phoenix’s Trunk Space, Lawn Gnome Publishing, Last Exit, and The Firehouse. The band also went on an acoustic tour throughout the United States and Canada, visiting California, Oregon, Washington, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, New York, Tennessee and Louisiana.

Rebecca and Hilger’s previous band name was called Sister Foos. When newly formed, the band knew that they wanted to remain “sister-something.” After booking a show under the name JuJu Kittens, the real name needed to be chosen.

“I was laying in bed about to go to sleep, closed my eyes, and Sister Lip came to my mind,” Hilgers said. “I typed it in on my phone and thought ‘Hmm, maybe.’ I still have it on my phone.”

Now Sister Lip has an immense local following. Throughout their journey to the ultimate goal of being successful through their passion and traveling the world, fans in the area will continue their treasured mantra: “SISTER LIPPIANS UNITE.”

The Prowling Kind “just rock” at album release show

The Prowling Kind played an album release show for Tennessee, their debut LP, Aug. 28 at the Crescent Ballroom. Members Mickey Pangburn, Jesse Pangburn, Erin Beal, Zach Tullis and David Maddox are looking to make a splash in both their local Arizona scene and on a national stage.

The band started the interview before their show with smiles on their faces. They ended it the same way. When asked what genre they wanted to be associated with, they thought for a couple of seconds and joked about a few answers until Mickey Pangburn said, “just rock.”

Despite this answer, the band is more than “just another rock band.” Tennessee is eclectic. Each song is different from the previous one, and each has a deeper meaning behind it. The whole album is an autobiography of Mickey Pangburn’s life. It tells the story of when her mother took her and ran away from their Knoxville home, seeking refuge for 15 years from Mickey Pangburn’s convict father.

Every song has passion and soul behind it. The lyrics are beautiful, and each song tells its own story while relating to the larger story that makes up the whole album. A highlight from the album is “Babycakes,” which tells the story of Mickey Pangburn and her mother fleeing their home in the night. The song sounds like The Joy Formidable soaked in blues rock.

The band members couldn’t come to a consensus on what their favorite song off the album is. They mentioned the responses they had gotten to the songs and how everyone they meet likes a different song.

“Everyone can relate to this album, and everyone can find one song that they relate to,” Mickey Pangburn said. “That is exactly how an album should be — something people can listen to and find comfort in.”

Photo via theprowlingkind.com

Photo via theprowlingkind.com

The live performance of the album brought into light how different each song is and how different each band member is.

Mickey Pangburn is only 5-foot-3-inches, but her voice and presence make her stand a foot taller. The unemotional Tullis’ smile count may have only reached four or five on stage, despite guitar shredding that deserves a grin. He said that “cutting loose” is his favorite part about performing on stage, and the band definitely did that and more.

Jesse Pangburn, who wrote the majority of the songs on the album with his wife, is a drummer who clearly loves performing on stage. David Maddox and Erin Beal round out the band and bring plenty of their own personality to the table. Maddox plays the bass and Beal does a little of everything – keyboards, back-up vocals, dancing and generally having a great time, which apparently doesn’t come naturally.

“The music video (for Tennessee) makes me look so much less awkward than I actually am,” Beal said.

The climb to where they are now has not been easy for The Prowling Kind. The band recorded their 10-track album in eight days. Despite a complicated ascent, the band’s goal is simple: as Maddox said, “to make a living and to be able to quit our day jobs and do what we love.”  That is nothing short of the American dream.

While The Prowling Kind may have roots in different genres, what they play is clearly rock ‘n’ roll. This old-school style gives them a niche in Phoenix’s music scene, but it’s their energy that gives them a chance to rise to stardom.

A sample of the band’s show at Crescent gives insight into the scope of their music.