The summer is in the rear-view mirror and all of the outdoor music opportunities that accompany the season in Alaska have evaporated as well. But as fall turns to winter, Alaska artists are continuing to churn out new material and find new venues to showcase their talents. Here’s a selection of newly-released material by Alaska musicians, ranging from rock to rap to political responses.
The High Pets: Burn Forever
The High Pets hit the road to produce their most recent album “Burn Forever,” recording at The Hallowed Halls studio in Portland, Oregon. The resulting album, due for release later this month, is true to the band’s rock ’n’ roll ethos, with blazing guitars and bold vocals. Fitting with the tradition of other Pacific Northwest recordings, the album closer, “In A Hole,” feels like it could have been lifted right from the midst of the Nirvana classic “Bleach.”
The “Burn Forever” release show is scheduled for Nov. 9 at Williwaw Social from 8-11 p.m. with Alaska Thunder Funk set to open.
Medium Build: Wild
Medium Build continues to be among the state’s most prolific creative forces. After releasing “softboy” and “roughboy” last year, the band has a new album in 2019. “Wild” features singer/songwriter/bassist Nick Carpenter’s trademark emotive style and the band’s typical airtight production, but with plenty of genre-bending surprises as well. “I Love Cherry” sounds like it could be from the Prince catalog and the album’s title track opens with a simple piano accompaniment before exhaling into an expanded sound.
The album will be officially released Nov. 15 and the band will host a release show that evening at Heart of the City in downtown Anchorage.
Tayy Tarantino: Not Broke, Not Rich
Tayy Tarantino’s latest dropped in June and is highlighted by sleek production and his signature beats. The record shows plenty of musical diversity, with Tarantino rhyming over a lush piano track in “2:am in Anchorage.” The song’s accompanying video features midsummer late-night scenes of Anchorage and surrounding areas with Tarantino’s ruminations providing the soundtrack.
Parker Longbough: Green and Gold/Drink the Hemlock
Parker Longbough, the musical moniker of Matthew Witthoeft, first gained a wide audience with the release of “Commander Comatose” in 2006. And two years after releasing “Bridges to Nowhere/Delirium in Lo-fi,” Longbough is back with “Green and Gold/Drink the Hemlock,” which vacillates between dreamier contemplations and heavier rock.
The album, due out later this month, is replete with Alaska references. “Governor’s (Butter) Cup" is a darkish shredder packed with both hockey and Gov. Mike Dunleavy references (”Is he really that tall?"). “Avalanche Beacon” is a guitar-driven slack-rambler with a strong hook about a snowmachining trip gone wrong with a lost avalanche beacon.
The Alaska Independent Musicians Initiative has been developing and promoting the state’s music scene since its inception with an annual summit and the creation of The Alaska Room at the Folk Alliance International conference. Now AKIMI has also produced a mix tape featuring some of the state’s best music. There are fresh faces (Sundog and Emily Anderson), longtime Alaska artists (Yngvil Vatn Guttu and Marian Call), indigenous artists (Pamyua) and far-out space rock (Harper’s Farce).
Various Fairbanks Artists: Don’t Let Them Cut Us
Heather Warren, lyricist for the Fairbanks-based band Harm, has produced a spoken-word album, released late last month. A response to budget cuts to social programs in the state, “Don’t Let Them Cut Us,” is a compilation “featuring local Fairbanks poets, artists, community leaders and healers.” The proceeds from the album will go to Bread Line Inc. and Native Movement organizations, according to its Bandcamp page.
Ya Malkia’s recently-released single “Give It to Me,” is a declaration of self-worth and independence, riffing on Aretha’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T as the song opens and later repeating the line: “I see how you coming, you ain’t 'bout to run that game on me / my time is money, you ain’t bout to get this work for free.
Fairbanks artist Daniel Firmin’s EP, “Buddies,” lives at the confluence of indie pop and folk rock. The album’s closer, “You’ve Got It All,” is the most rocking track but there’s plenty of ebb and flow and catchy lines throughout.
Mr. Whitekeys is dropping hot releases as well, with a DVD version of “Whale Fat Follies” set for distribution this month. With a running time of 110 minutes, the DVD includes versions of classics like “The Woolly Mammoth” and “The Reverse Striptease.”