The Five Best Songs From Phoenix Musicians in February 2021

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February is heavily focused on Valentine’s Day (take that, Groundhog Day). And rather fittingly, plenty of local artists celebrated by releasing their own weird and wonderful love songs. Here are our picks for the best songs of the month.

Secret Attraction, ‘True Love’

When Phoenix New Times asked Derek Wise (a.k.a. Secret Attraction) about his 2021 resolutions, the indie rocker said he wanted to focus less on new releases and take his time with the music. Now, just two months into the year, Wise returns with a brand-new EP, True Love. Fans of last year’s Strawberry EP will find lots to adore about this three-track effort of swooning, heart-on-sleeve love songs. The real standout, though, is the title track, a dreamy, slightly hazy ;80s synth-pop jam best suited for falling headlong into love (or maybe headlong into heartache). With tunes like these, we can forgive Wise for not wanting to wait.

Mukduk, ‘Mystery of Love’

Don’t let a name like Mukduk dissuade you from listening to the music. Givasti Hawking is a local multimedia artist who tackles everything from short films and clothes to, of course, music. In fact, many of his sonic efforts serve as the soundtrack to his short films, including last October’s endearing Great Witch. While the next such project, Magnolia Manor, doesn’t debut until late March, Mukduk’s already released several tracks, including “Mystery of Love.” It’s basically the love child of chiptune music and a haunted merry-go-round, a surprisingly catchy dance track brimming with inventiveness and an undeniable rhythm. Whatever Hawking does with these songs, prepare to have your socks charmed all the way off.

The Irie, ‘Never Alone’

Here’s a weird coincidence: Can’t Get Enough, the latest EP from Valley reggae band The Irie, debuted at No. 1 the same weekend that would have been Bob Marley’s 76th birthday. Does this dash of serendipity bode well for the future of the band? Hard to say, but there’s no denying their four-track effort isn’t still hugely entertaining. Case in point: “Never Alone,” a deeply sentimental, doubly endearing ballad that also happens to be a light and breezy slice of pure island-style reggae. Maybe Tuff Gong himself would have approved.

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Jack Arthur, ‘An Epilogue of Sorts’

This month, enough of us gifted our loved ones with sugary chocolate or ugly teddy bears. But if you’re inclined to celebrate love for your fellow human than your sweetie pie, you can toss a few coins toward buying I’m Working on Myself Vol. 1. Organized by local musician Jack Arthur, the 13-track compilation directly benefits the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence. For a preview, be sure to check out Arthur’s own “An Epilogue of Sorts.” It’s kind of an anti-love song, this hazy alt-country ditty that will have you swooning over Arthur’s poignant heartache. Sure beats eating those candies with the almonds inside!

Books., ‘Bentley Street Sweeper’

Valley resident Books. checks a lot of the boxes that define modern-day producers: a name that’s terrible for SEO, little to no info available online, and a vague aesthetic (their Bandcamp artist photo is just a city street mid-dusk). Yet as they demonstrate on the new three-track Orion EP, all that mysterious energy and enigma can’t obscure great music. “Bentley Street Sweeper” blurs the lines between glitchy ambient and experimental hip-hop, this uneven soundscape that alternates between the serene and the unsettling. Either way, it pulls you in for all the right reasons. Thank you, Books. — whoever you are.

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