New Video: Green Buzzard Releases Trippy and Feverish Visuals for Anthemic “I Don’t Want To Be Alone”

Sydney, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Paddy Harrowsmith is the creative mastermind behind the up-and-coming indie rock project Green Buzzard. His latest single, the Dave Sitek-produced “I Don’t Want To Be Alone” is the first bit of new material from the Aussie singer/songwriter and guitarist in over two years — and interestingly, the song finds Harrowsmith dialing back the feedback in favor of a more direct, cleaner sound. 

Centered around a seemingly simple arrangement of strummed guitar, Harrowsmith’s plaintive vocals and an infectious power chord-driven hook within a classic grunge rock song structure of quiet verse, loud chorus, quiet verse, the song interestingly enough was inspired by an eclectic array of influences including The La’s, Lana Del Rey, The Church and A$AP Rocky. “A similarity between all of these artists was a sense of space in the music, a “less is more” approach which myself and Dave tried to emulate as best we could by not over doing anything,” Harrowsmith explains in press notes. And while seemingly an upbeat summer anthem, the song as Harrowsmith says in press notes “is about breaking up with someone and weighing up whether or not it’s worthy trying to fix things — knowing deep down, it’s ultimately better to move on but selfishly not wanting to be alone.” 

Directed by Carley Solethe, the recently released video for “I Don’t Want To Be Alone” starts off with Harrowsmith sitting along at a picnic for two in the desert. Eventually, he’s picked up by two off-road vehicles, that speed off into the night — and yet throughout there’s the sense that Harrowsmith is perpetually alone. 

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New Video: Luna Shadows Celebrates Inclusivity and Californian Skater Culture in New Visual for “god.drugs.u”

Last month, I wrote about the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, Luna Shadows.  The Los Angeles-based artist has developed a reputation for a staunchly DIY approach, as she writes, performs, records, produces, edits and engineers every single note of her work — and for crafting sultry, melancholy pop that Billboard has called “. . . refreshingly soulful and haunting . ..” Her work has also been compared by some as Lana Del Ray taking Lorde to the beach.

So far Luna Shadows work has amassed over 35 million Spotify streams, with tracks landing on tastemaker playlists like New Music Friday, Indie Pop, Weekend Beats and Weekly Buzz, reaching #7 on the US Charts and #18 on the Global Viral Charts.  Building upon a growing profile, the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer has also received airplay on radio stations worldwide, including KROQ, BBC Radio 1 and Beats 1 — and she played a sold out, live debut show at renowned Los Angeles indie music showcase School Night. Amazingly, she has done that without the support of a label. 

2019 looks to be a big year for Luna Shadows. She recently began collaborating with two highly-acclaimed, mainstream indie pop producers Now Now‘s Brad Hale and The Naked and Famous‘ Thom Powers to help shoulder the production and editing load — and she signed to +1 Records, who released her first single of the year, “lowercase.” Centered around a sleek production featuring tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, chopped up vocal samples, twinkling keys, Luna Shadow’s plaintive and sultry vocals and an enormous hook, the track was imbued with the bitterness, heartache and confusion of a dysfunctional relationship full of power plays and accusation.

Featuring tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and atmospheric synths paired with Luna Shadows’ sultry delivery, her latest single “god.drugs.u” continues a run of slickly produced, trap-inspired songs — but at the core of the song is a plaintive and unfulfilled yearning. 

“Sometimes, I find that it’s easier to identify what something isn’t rather than describing what it is. “god.drugs.u” is essentially a process of elimination love song which breaks down my personal experience of love, one which is most often rooted in present moments rather than chemical or spiritual experiences,” Luna Shadows explains. “It isn’t a declaration of what anyone else should feel, it’s simply a personal reflection on my experience of love which is very here and now. I am a person who spends a lot of time stuck in the past and worrying about the future, so the moments where I am truly present best represent my experience of love and serenity. This song is a meditation on the moments where I’ve looked at someone (or some place) and felt a deep sense of peace & fulfillment, if only for a split second.”

Produced by Kitty Disco and Ride or Cry Co., the recently released video for “god.drugs.u” was directed, produced, styled, edited and stars a nearly exclusively female-identifying cast and crew and members of the LBTQ+ community.  Stylistically shot at Venice Skatepark, the video is a celebration of Californian skateboard culture through the lens of fashion, inclusivity, authenticity and diversity starring five local skateboarders — Briana King, Victoria Taylor, Hilary Shanks, Jennifer Charlene and Claire Weaver. “Los Angeles is a place that represents unconditional love to me. This city has been here for me when my whole world came crashing down. Like the other installments in my video series, I wanted this visual to be an ode to an iconic LA location presented in a brand new light,” Luna Shadows explains in press notes. 

“The concept of skateboarding came to mind – a risk-taking, safety-defying sport in which the rider cannot afford to focus on anything other than the present moment – a sentiment that sits comfortably with the lyrics,” Luna Shadows continues. “I’ve loved skateboarding since I was a young girl but always felt excluded from the culture, so this video was an effort to be more inclusive & to showcase one of many versions of femininity which does not conform to the tradition image of skateboarding.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Holy Ghost! Release an Intimate Behind the Scenes Visual on the Making of a Vinyl Record

I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based electro funk/neo-disco production and artist and longtime JOVM mainstays Holy Ghost! over the years, and as you may recall, l, with the release of the their first three full-length albums — 2011’s self-titled debut, 2013’s Dynamics and 2014’s remix album Work For Hire — the duo, which is comprised of Alex Frankel and Nicholas Millhiser received attention nationally and internationally. Building upon a growing profile, the duo have remixed the work of Katy Perry, LCD Soundsystem, Moby and a lengthy list of others; made national TV appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show with David Letterman; toured with the legendary New Order; and played sets at some of this country’s and the world’s biggest festivals including Coachella, Outside Lands, Primavera Sound and Bonnaroo.

Work, the duo’s first batch of new, original material in over five years reportedly finds Frankel and Millhiser attempting to revisit the freedom of expectations that was suffered through their earliest recorded output — and interestingly, the proverbial return to form partially stemmed from circumstances: the duo dismantled their basement Brooklyn studio and relocated to a small room that a few musician friends of theirs were renting about a doctor’s office (coincidentally, the same address where they mixed their full-length debut). Because of the room’s limited space, they pared their extensive gear collection down to two synths — a Yamaha CS-80 and a Mini Moog. “Not necessarily the bare necessities, but what would make for the most interesting limited palette,” says Millhiser. “David Bowiedidn’t have every fucking synthesizer on earth to make Low. He had two. And that’s one of my favorite synth records of all time.”

Slated for a Friday release through West End Records, the forthcoming album’s material will continue the duo’s long-held reputation for crafting each sound from scratch with an unapologetic, exacting precision — and it’s their analog approach to electronic music that heavily informs the songwriting, production and sound of the album. Interestingly, album single “Escape From Los Angeles” was centered by shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a motorik groove, ethereal crooning, thumping beats and a sinuous yet infectious hook — while seemingly indebted to From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk. Interestingly, Work‘s latest single “Do This” is another straightforward club banger that meshes early hip-hop, house music and disco in a way that recalls Sugarhill Gang, Nile Rodgers and Pet Shop Boys— thanks in part to arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, a two-step inducing hook and plaintive vocals.

Directed by the duo, the recently released video for “Do This” was shot on 16mm film by Jesse Cain and follows the entire process of recording and making a vinyl album, from the recording sessions at James Murphy’s Plantain Studios, to mastering at Heba Kadry’s Brooklyn-based mastering suite, to cutting the master disk with Bob Weston in Chicago, to pressing and packaging at RTI Pressing and finally to Amoeba Records in Los Angeles. It’s a behind the scenes look at the entire process revealing the professionalism and dedication of dozens of hard-working people that’s actually inspired by the famous Sesame Street “Making Crayons” segment. Originally aired in the early 80s, the clip made a deep impression on the members of Holy Ghost! “We wanted to document the ancient and very special process of making vinyl, from recording and mixing all the way to packaging and store delivery,” Frankel explains.

Pekoe Cat is the solo electro pop recording project of singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Kyle Woolven. Interestingly, his latest single is the funky and sleek Neon Indian-like, 80s synth pop inspired “Jungle Cop.” Centered around a wobbling bass line, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, an enormous, club-banging hook, a sultry vocal delivery and various found samples, the track is fueled by a hazy nostalgia. “I have a very vague memory of toddler me playing some game on NES where a guy with a motorcycle helmet goes around shooting up the city. That’s what inspired the song. I have no idea how accurate those memories are or if that game even exists. And I think I should be a little concerned if that’s the kind of thing I consider to me a fond memory. Either way, it’s the closest I’ve ever come to achieving the sound I was going for,” Woolven explains in press notes.

New Video: Watch Up-and-Coming Canadian Act Mauno Go Through a Bizarre Endurance Test in Visuals for “Vampire”

The Halifax, Nova Scotia-based band Mauno’s forthcoming album Really Well is slated for an August 2, 2019 release through Tin Angel Records, and the album, which was recorded at Chad VanGaalen’s Calgary, Alberta9-based studio reportedly finds the band — Eliza Niemi (vocals, bass), Nick Everett (vocals, guitar), Scott Boudreau (guitar) and Adam White (drums) — exploring the creases in intimacy, authenticity and labor and their preoccupations with the nature of creative labor, relationships and the self under capitalism. But while rooted in serious, daily concerns, the band notes that their critiques are filtered through a lens of the absurd, which gives them a playful, ridiculous air. “There’s something about humour and laughter that is very subversive and deeper than I think a lot of people realize,” the band’s Eliza Niemi says in press notes. “With these songs, I was trying to sort of dance on the one.” Adds the band’s Nick Everett, “There’s a double meaning to everything. You have to leave space for people to think. Where is the place for the listener if they’re not going to contribute their own thoughts or their own interpretations?” 

Really Well’s latest single “Vampire” is a slow-burning track centered around shimmering guitars, shuffling drums, plaintive vocals and a soaring hook that recalls 120 Minutes-era like alt rock while being a playful and uplifting song that focuses on the pride and utter ridiculousness of being in creative labor in a capitalist world. 

Directed by Max Taeuschel, the recently released video stars the band’s songwriting duo Eliza Niemi and Nick Everett in a bizarre endurance test, in which they’re challenged to continue performing the song while exhausting themselves on stationary bikes. Shooting the duo over an uninterrupted hour or so in an empty gym, the video’s surreal and absurd quality is a bit of an unsettling contrasts the song’s uplifting tone, Interestingly, the video also serves a deeper metaphor for being a musician and promoting your creative work — in other words, you work hard and never seem to feel as though you’re going anywhere. 

Live Footage: Mavis Staples Performs “We Get By” on “CBS This Morning Saturday Sessions”

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the legendary, Chicago-born singer, actress, and civil rights activist Mavis Staples and throughout a music career that has spanned over eight decades, several different genres and styles as a member of The Staple Singers and as a solo artist, Staples has had achieved commercial and critical success, as well as a proverbial boatload of accolades. Staples has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards with the Staples Singers, winning one — a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2004. She received a Grammy nod for a collaboration with Bob Dylan. And as a solo artist, she’s been nominated for five Grammys, winning two — Best Americana Album for 2010’s You Are Not Alone and a Best American Roots Performance for  2015’s”See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.” The legendary, Chicago-born vocalist has also been nominated for 11 Blues Music Awards, winning nine, including Album of the Year for 2004’s Have A Little Faith, which featured Song of the Year and album title track “Have A Little Faith.” She’s also won three Soul Blues Female Artist Awards — one in 2004 and back to back wins in 2017 and 2018. And let’s not forget that Mavis was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Staple Singers in 1999, was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2016 and inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2017. 

Staples turns 80 next month — July 10, 2019 — and while many artists at her age and with her achievements would have understandably begun to slow down, the legendary vocalist has managed to be wildly prolific, releasing three, critically applauded albums in her late 70s with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Her latest album, the Ben Harper written and produced, We Get By was released by her longtime label home Anti- Records a few weeks ago, and as the legendary vocalist says in press notes, “When I first started reading the lyrics Ben wrote for me, I said to myself, ‘My God, he’s saying everything that needs to be said right now. But the songs were also true to my journey and the stories I’ve been singing all my life. There’s a spirituality and an honesty to Ben’s writing that took me back to church.”

“I come from a family of Mavis fans,” the multi-Grammy nominated and multi-Grammy winning Ben Harper explains in press notes, “so her music has been woven into the fabric of my life from the very start. When I got the call for this gig, it felt like my entire career, everything I’d ever written, had been pre-production for this.” 

The imitable Mavis Staples was recently on CBS This Morning’s Saturday Sessions where she and her backing band performed the uplifting album title track”We Get By.” Naturally, the track is what Staples has long specialized in: heartfelt, uplifting spirituals centered around lived-in experience — particularly, finding some way to survive in a difficult and uneasy world with your dignity, sanity and spiritual life intact. 

 

Arthur Kay is an Oslo, Norway-based singer/songwriter, composer and keyboardist, who’s been a prominent member of his hometown for the better part of a decade, as the frontman of the galactic jazz act Dr. Kay and His Interstellar Tone Scientists and touring with the likes of Norwegian rapper Ivan Ave.

Interestingly, Kay will be stepping further into the spotlight as a solo artist with the release of his forthcoming self-titled, solo debut. Slated for an October 11, 2019 release, the EP finds Kay drawing from several disparate influences, at points channeling Thundercat, James Blake, and Sun Ra Arkestra. However, the EP’s latest single “Holiday Pay” is a decidedly house music influenced track, centered around layers of glistening and twinkling synths, cowbell-led percussion and an infectious hook. And while being a shimmering, summery club banger, “Holiday Pay” is celebration of Norwegian employers being required by law to pay employees a certain percentage of the previous year’s wages for you to use towards summer vacation time. It’s a much-needed contemporary worker’s anthem — and I’m sure that many hardworking Americans wish they’d have that.

“It’s a great example of how socialist ideas work really well in the Norwegian society,” Kay explains in press notes. “Your employer is ordered by law to hold on to 12% of your income through the year, and pay it to you every June, just before the summer holidays start. Forced savings, basically, but without any banks or cash stuffed under mattresses.” Kay adds, “I consider ‘Holiday Pay’ a modern day workers’ anthem, a song anybody with a steady job in Norway can relate to. A song you can shove in your freelancing friends’ faces. They may travel the world on a regular Wednesday, and work from a laptop in a bar in Tokyo in the middle of the night But if you have a steady job, you get the holiday pay in June.”

 

 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Danish Indie Act Aztek Releases a Trippy Visual for Anthemic “Darkest Hour”

Formed back in 2015, the Aalborg, Denmark-based prog rock act Aztek — Benjamin Vestergaard (vocals), Michael Buchardt (drums), Rasmus Lykke (bass), Minik Lundblad (guitar) and Jeppe Søndergaard (guitar) — can trace their origins to shared interest and love of experimental and prog rock. Since their formation, the Aalborg-based quintet have developed a reputation for an adventurous yet accessible sound, centered around traditional rock instrumentation paired with dreamy synths and Vestergaard’s plaintive vocals, which imbues the material with a distinct melancholy. 

Aztek’s full-length debut, 2016’s critically applauded Dream Dealer was a harmonically experimental and ambitious effort that led to the band playing some of the region’s biggest venues and festivals, including Way Up North, Nibe Festival and SPOT Festival. Building upon a growing national and regional profile, the up-and-coming Danish act released their sophomore album Perfect Imbalance last year. Aztek’s latest single, the expansive, Pablo Honey and The Bends-era Radiohead meets space rock-like “Darkest Hour” finds the act ambitiously expanding upon the sound that has won them attention across Denmark and Scandinavia — with fuzzy power chords and rousingly anthemic hooks paired with a heart-on-sleeve earnestness. However, despite its anthemic quality, the song is about observing a loved one’s during a life crisis and the complicated array  feelings that come along with it.

Interestingly, the song’s structure, alternating ethereal verses with heavy, power chord-driven hooks also manages to be influenced by the song’s message — that the darkest hour is typically just before dawn; and that most importantly, things do (and can) get better. Set in space, the recently released video by Anders Riber Nielsen features 80s influenced CGI: the viewer first moves among a large constellation of stars, before passing through a terrestrial-like planet with mountains. It’s trippy and expansive yet centered around scientific reality. 

 

Over the first half of this year, I’ve written a bit about the Queens-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Matt Longo, the creative mastermind behind Thin Lear, a solo recording project largely inspired by the likes of Todd RundgrenShuggie Otis and Kate Bush.  Longo’s latest Thin Lear album Wooden Cave is slated for release later this year, and as you may recall, album singles “The Guesthouse,” and “Death in a Field” were deeply indebted to different styles of 70s rock.

Wooden Cave‘s third and latest single is the delicate and almost spectral “Your Family.” Centered around a folk-like arrangement of twinkling piano, strummed guitar and Longo’s plaintive falsetto, the song is imbued with an aching and inconsolable sense of loss. Much like its predecessors, the song reveals a heart-on-the-sleeve earnestness paired with a careful and deliberate craftsmanship that ends with a simple yet profound mantra of self-acceptance. “It’s an orchestral track that explores the aftermath of losing a partner, the ensuing self-imposed exile and the struggle to re-emerge whole again,” Longo says in press notes.