Live Footage: Clintiss Performs “Toreador” at Studio Flagrant

Clintiss is Rennes, France-born, Montreal-based composer, pianist and singer/songwriter. He relocated to Montreal in 2012, where he started his career in earnest with stints in Charlie Dahl and the Royal Big Band and MoooN — and in both acts, the French-born, Canadian-based artist was the primary songwriting and frontperson.

Since then Clintiss has spent hundreds of hours at the piano, seeking the musical language that could reconcile and synthesize his classical training and his love of contemporary, popular music — i.e., indie rock, post rock and neoclassical, among others. “For me,” Clintiss explains, “composing a piano solo piece is the fruit of a long journey and a lot of hard work… My personal challenge was to create a piano language that I couldn’t manage to find or hear anywhere else, a fusion between the demanding classical technique and the different musical repertoires that have influenced me over the years – classical, symphonic, pop, electronic music… I hope to have succeeded in developing something unique, sometimes a little peculiar, straddling several worlds.”

The French-born, Canadian-based artist’s full-length debut Toreador was released last month. And interestingly, the 13 song album is informed by Clintiss’ own experiences straddling different cultures: The Rennes-born, Montreal-based pianist has spent about two-thirds of his life in Europe and about one-third of his life in Canada. Written and recorded over the course of the past two years, the album’s material evokes life over the past two years — a seemingly carefree and happier before, and the isolation and uncertainty of pandemic-related quarantines and lockdowns. But each composition also manages an opportunity to escape for a little bit, at least.

The French pianist, recently did a live session at ParisStudio Flagrant, where he performed material off his full-length debut, including the breathtakingly beautiful album title track “Toreador.” Centered around playing that’s simultaneously delicate yet forceful, “Toreador” is a twisting and turning composition that evokes — for me, at least — brisk winter afternoons wandering in the snow until the sun sets, and looking forward to warming your cold bones.

Live Footage: Courtney Barnett Performs “If I Don’t Hear From You Tonight” on “Jimmy kimmel Live!”

With the release of 2012’s I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Farris EP and 2013’s How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose, Melbourne-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Courtney Barnett received critical acclaim from outlets across North America, the UK and Australia for work that featured witty and rambling conversational lyrics, often delivered with an ironic deadpan paired with enormous power chord-driven arrangements. And although her success may have seemed like it came about overnight, it wasn’t; Barnett carved out a long-held reputation for being one of Melbourne’s best guitarists: she had a stint in Dandy Warhols’ Brent DeBoer’s side project Immigrant Union and guested on Jen Cloher‘s third album, In Blood Memory.

Barnett’s full-length debut, 2016’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit, which featured “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party” and the T. Rex-like “Elevator Operator was released to critical praise across the world. The acclaimed Aussie artist collaborated with Kurt Vile on 2017’s critically and commercially successful Lotta See Lice, which landed at #5 on the Aussie charts, #11 on the British charts and #51 on the American charts.

Her sophomore solo album, 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel, which featured the motorik groove-driven “City Looks Pretty” continued an enviable run of critical and commercial success. Barnett supported Tell Me How You Really Feel with a three month world tour that included some of her biggest tour steps in Australia at the time.

Barnett’s Stella Mozgawa co-produced third album Things Take Time, Take Time was released last month through Mom + Pop Music and Marathon Artists. Centered around intimately detailed songwriting, Things Take Time, Take Time finds the acclaimed Aussie crafting a journey through heartbreak, recovery and all the soft moments in between that speak to the feelings and experiences that are innately human.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the lovely ballad “Before You Gotta Go.” Centered around a sparse arrangement that begins with a warm drone before gently adding layers of twangy guitar, Barnett’s tender vocals, synths, drums and percussion in a slow-burning crescendo, “Before You Gotta Go” is a simultaneously a frustrated kiss-off and a gracious send-off rooted n a bittersweet, lived in-experience: the hope that the last words between you and a love be to unkind because nothing is guaranteed.

The acclaimed Aussie artist is currently in the middle of a lengthy and extensive North American tour that includes a February 5, 2022 stop at Radio City Music Hall with Julia Jacklin. As always, the rest of the tour dates are below. But in the meantime, Barnett was recently on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where she performed the introspective, garage rock-like “If I Don’t Hear From You Tonight,” a empathetic portrayal of the desperate self-doubt and awkwardness of a crush that’s probably requited, yet not exactly confirmed.

Brooklyn-based psych pop/dance pop act Psymon Spine — Noah Prebish, Sabine Holler, Brother Michael Rudinski, and Peter Spears — can trace its origins back to when its founding duo of Noah Prebish and Peter Spears met while attending college. Bonding over mutual influences and common artistic aims, Psymon Spine’s founding duo toured the European Union with Prebish’s electronic project Karate. And as the story goes, while in Paris, Spears and Prebish wrote their first song together. By the time, they arrived in London, they were offered a record deal. 

When Psymon Spine’s founding duo returned to the States, Spears recruited Micheal “Brother Micheal” Rudinski and their Karate bandmates Devon Kilbern, Nathaniel Coffey to join their new project. And with that lineup, they fleshed out out the demos, which wold eventually comprise their full-length debut, 2017’s You Are Coming to My Birthday. The band went out to support the effort with immersive art and dance parties like their Secret Friend party series across Brooklyn and through relentless touring. 

Prebish was also splitting his time with rising Brooklyn-based dream pop act Barrie and around the same time, Barrie began to receive attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere as a result of a handful of buzz-worthy singles, and 2019’s full-length debut, Happy to Be Here. Interestingly while with Barrie, Prebish met his future Psymon Spine bandmate, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sabine Holler. 

The rising Brooklyn-based outfit’s sophomore album, Charismatic Megafauna was released earlier this year through Northern Spy to critical applause from the likes of Paste Magazine, FLOOD, Brooklyn Vegan, Under the Radar and NME. The album and its material was added to a number of playlists including NPR Music, Spotify‘s New Music Friday, All New Indie, Undercurrents and Fresh Finds, Apple Music‘s Midnight City and Today’s Indie Rock and TIDAL‘s Rising. And the album received airplay internationally from BBC, KEXP and KCRW among others. The album explores the complicated feelings and catharsis involved in the dissolution of human relationships through hook-driven, left-of center electronic dance meets psych pop.

In the lead up to Charismatic Megafauna‘s release, I managed to write about three of the album’s released singles:

  • Milk,” a coquettish, club friendly banger with Barrie that brings to mind In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and Soft Metals‘ Lenses. The single received attention internationally — with the single receiving praise from   VanyalandHigh CloudsEchowave Magazine, The RevueHype Machine and a list of others.The track also landed on  Spotify playlists like UndercurrentsAll New Indie and Fresh Finds, as well as the YouTube channels of  David Dean BurkhartNice Guys‘ and Birp.fm. And lastly, the track received airplay on BBC Radio 6
  • Modmed,” an  Andrew VanWyngarden-produced and cowritten, strutting disco-tinged track that’s captures the ambivalent and confusing mixture of frustration, doubt and relief of a relationship that had long petered out and finally wound down to its inevitable conclusion. Interestingly, the song is inspired and informed by personal experience: Prebish and Holler’s difficult decision to leave Barrie to focus on Pysmon Spine full-time. 
  • Confusion,” a hazy and lysergic banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a wobbling bass line and looping guitar solo paired with Prebish’s plaintive vocals and a trippy, spoken word-delivered break that sonically reminded me of Tame Impala‘s Currents.

Psymon Spine caps off a big 2021 with the digital 7 inch release, “Mr. Metronome”/”Drums Valentino.” “‘Mr. Metronome’ and ‘Drums Valentino’ were among the first song ideas we came up with when first starting our sophomore record” says founding member Noah Prebish. “We wrote them near the end of a two year hiatus which was spent pursuing various other projects by the individuals in the band. Following the break, we were all feeling hungry to make a new Psymon Spine record and we quickly began exploring the new sounds that would ultimately define the album. This process left us with two tracks which were a bit too crazy for Charismatic Megafauna, but too good not to finish.”

“Mr. Metronome” may arguably be the most straightforward, club friendly track of the band’s growing catalog. Featuring a German vocal hook sung by Sabine Holler, which translates to “I saw your message, I have to go work,” followed by a repeated refrain of “my schedule, my schedule,” “Mr. Metronome” is centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, glistening synth arpeggios and a relentless, motorik groove. Inspired by Kraftwerk, Soulwax and others, the song’s lyrics features musings on dating and social dynamics while reflecting the band’s restlessness and desire to quit all unfulfilling obligations to focus on what really matters to them — music.

“Drums Valentino” is a New Wave-like single featuring industrial clang and clatter, shimmering guitars, glistening synths and an off-kilter yet dance floor-friendly groove. Sonically, the song helps to emphasize the song’s lyrics, which talk about feeling uneasy and uncertain with a psychological precision.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Blushing Release a “120 Minutes” era MTV-like Visual for Woozy New Single “Sour Punch”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to spill a copious amount of virtual ink cover the Austin-based dream pop/shoegazer outfit and JOVM mainstays Blushing. Featuring two married couples — Christina Carmona (vocals, bass) and Noe Carmona (guitar, keys) and Michelle Soto (guitar, vocals) and Jacob Soto (drums), the JOVM mainstays can trace its roots back to El Paso, where Jacob Soto and Noe Carrmona grew up as lifelong friends and musical partners. 

Jacob Soto and Noe Carmona relocated to Austin around 2009. Coincidentally, they both met their wives at The Side Bar and according to the band, “naturally all four of us became close friends.” As Michelle Soto was learning guitar, she also began writing material, creating guitar parts and vocal melodies in her bedroom. Christina Carmona, who is a classically trained vocalist, was recruited by Michelle Soto to contribute vocals; but Christina then taught herself bass and helped flesh out Michelle’s songs. Shortly after, Jacob and Noe began to notice how much potential the material had, and they joined in on a practice session to help further flesh out their arrangements. And from that point on, Blushing was a full-fledged band. Their natural simpatico and like-minded musical influences helped to solidify their ongoing creative process. 

The members of the Austin-based shoegazer outfit spent the bulk of 2016 writing and refining material, which eventually led to their debut EP, 2017’s Tether, which was released to positive reviews across the blogosphere, including this site. Building upon a growing profile in the shoegaze and dream pop scenes, Blushing returned to the studio to write and recored their sophomore EP, 2018’s Weak, an effort that saw them firmly cementing a sound indebted to LushCocteau Twins and The Sundays but while also being a subtle (and gentle) refinement. They ended that year with the Elliot Frazier-produced and mixed “The Truth”/”Sunshine” 7 inch, which featured what may arguably be the most muscular and direct song of their catalog to date. They also managed to spend the year touring to support their recored output, sharing stages with Snail MailSunflower BeanLa LuzBRONCHOIlluminati Hotties, JOVM mainstays Yumi Zouma and others.

2019 saw the release of their self-titled, full-length debut, which they supported with an extensive US tour with Ringo Deathstarr that included a stop at Saint Vitus Bar that November. Although touring was on an indefinite hiatus until recently, the Austin JOVM mainstays have been busy: they signed to Kanine Records, who will be releasing their highly anticipated Elliot Frazier-produced, sophomore album Possessions

Slated for a February 18, 2022 release, Possessions is an album born out of incredible patience and perseverance: The earliest tracking sessions started in 2019 and continued in fits and starts through the quarantines, lockdowns and re-openings of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a break in production while Frazier welcomed his second child, and that was followed by the massive blackouts across Texas resulting from the February 2021 winter storm across the region. Interestingly, when the album was finally finished, what revealed itself was an album that reportedly is at points heavier and at other points lighter. Thematically and lyrically, the album sees the band embracing the full and complicated spectrum of life and relationship but while recognizing the need for escape and whimsy. 

The album also sees the band collaborating with two shoegazer legends — Lush and Piroshka‘s Miki Berenyi, who contributes vocals on an album track and RIDE‘s Mark Gardener, who mastered the album at his OX4 Sound in the UK. Fittingly, Possessions‘ first single “Blame” featured the aforementioned Berenyi. The collaboration can trace its origins back to when Blushing covered “Out of Control” for a Lush tribute album in 2018. The cover caught the attention of Berernyi, who tweeted her appreciation — and a friendship began.

As the band continued to track material for Possessions, the JOVM mainstays approached Berenyi about the possibility of her working on a song, and they were thrilled to find that she shared their excitement about working together. The band then sent Berenyi the track and lyrics digitally with the request that she add any vocals she’d like. The end result was a lush, densely layered song featuring glistening and reverb drenched guitars, an enormous hook and some eerily spectral harmonies and counter melodies between Christina Carmona, Michelle Soto and Berenyi. But just under the shimmering surface is a subtle sense of menace, expressed by the refrain “Stick around and find out . . . “

Possessions‘ second and latest single, the woozy “Sour Punch” is a seamless synthesis of 90s indie pop and grunge centered around reverb-drenched guitars, crunchy power chords, propulsive drumming and hazy yet ethereal vocals. But underneath the shimmering melody and power chords,
“Sour Punch” as the band explains explores inequality and striving for independence in a relationship. You can feel the song’s narrator bristling from being hemmed in while desiring some space to herself, to be herself.

The recently recently DIY video sees the band paying a loving homage to the fun, strange and decidedly low-budget videos that they grew up watching during MTV‘s heyday. Within the world of the video almost anything can happen — from a neon colored, cartoon world being just outside of one of your window, to a enormous pug sitting outside another. And it includes the band performing in a mirror ball-like room. Sure, the budget may have been low but the video explodes with a playful creativity and ingenuity.

Tim Carman (drums), may be best known for his work with acclaimed Boston-based blues act GA-20, which features Pat Faherty (vocals, guitar) and Matt Stubbs (guitar). Carman’s latest project, Tim Carman Trio — Carman (drums), Steve Fell (guitar) and Ken Clark (electric organ) — can trace its origins back to last year: While quarantining in a New Hampshire cabin, Carman revisited records that his first drum teacher and mentor Bob Gullotti introduced him to during his formative years as an aspiring jazz drummer.

Inspired by 60s like Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff and others, The Tim Carman Trio is a no-fills, B3 organ, soul jazz outfit. The trio’s Carman and Dave Brophy co-produced full-length debut, Key Lime is slated for release sometime next year through Color Red Music. Key Lime‘s first single, the original composition “Blues for Bob ” sees Carman playing tribute to Gulloti — and the composition is a cool yet funky strut centered around Carman’s steady and efficient time-keeping and some self-assured and inspired soloing.

New Audio: New York’s Tempers Release a Brooding and Icy New Single

New York-based synth duo Tempers — Jasmine Golestaneh (vocals) and Eddie Cooper (production) — have diligently carving their own unique niche within dark indie, electronica and synth pop circles since their formation. After a series of digital singles released back in 2013, the New York duo began to solidify their sound and approach, a sleek. brooding, nocturnal take on synth pop.

The duo’s forthcoming, self-produced album New Meaning is slated for an April 1, 2022 release through Dais Records. As the duo explain, the album is about navigating the unknown, coping mechanisms and exploring the nature of choice. The album’s ten songs reflect on the creation go meaning as a way to access liberation in times of transition and loss while speculating on the transformative potential that exists alongside the grief of living in a world that is an ongoing state of crisis. Much like their previously released material, New Meaning continues a run of nocturnal music, that’s introspective yet quietly intense.

New Meaning‘s first single is the brooding “Unfamiliar.” Centered around Golestaneh’s sensual and emotive vocals, glistening synth arpeggios, shimmering and reverb-drenched bursts of guitar, a hypnotic, motorik groove, and an incredibly infectious hook, “Unfamiliar” sounds indebted to 80s New Wave while evoking our current moment — a world gone even madder and uncertain than ever before.

“’Unfamiliar’ explores the idea of progress, and what qualities might be needed to actualise it,” Tempers’ Jasmine Golestaneh explains in press notes. “So often change is just a rebranding of the same structures and conventions, history repeating itself. But also on a personal level, it’s hard not to repeat mistakes, habits are so seductive. I was thinking about the power of liminal space, and how building a tolerance to unfamiliarity might be a revolutionary act.”

New Video: French Duo La Choze Releases a Brooding and Cinematic Single and Visual

Southern France-based indie rock duo La Choze formed back in 2017. Since their formation, the French duo have developed and honed a brooding and cinematic sound centered inspired by 60s pop, featuring reverb-bathed guitars and tremolo.

La Choze’s third album 10 songs about love, loss and much more was released this past Saturday through Blössom Records. The album’s latest single, the brooding “Saturday” sees the French duo further establishing their incredibly cinematic sound — with the song built around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, gently padded drumming and ethereal boy-girl harmonizing. The end result is a song that reminds me a bit of Chris Issak‘s “Wicked Game” and Slow Air era Still Corners centered around aching regret and nostalgia.

The recently released video features the duo on a road trip through the French countryside in a vintage, purple Volkswagen Beetle: We the duo driving on winding, two lane blacktop under enormous skies.

New Video: Oliver Future Returns After 14 Year Hiatus to Release a Brooding Fever Dream

Split between Austin and Los Angeles, psych rock outfit Oliver Future — currently founding members Noah Lit (guitar, vocals), Josh Lit (vocals, keys), Sam Raver (guitar), Jesse Ingalls — was founded in Austin, back in 2002 featuring a lineup of Noah Lit, Josh Lit, Raver, Ingalls and Jordan Richardson (drums). While in Austin, the band wrote and recorded several albums before their management company relocated the band to Los Angeles in 2005.

The management company (and their stipends) disappeared quickly, and the band was stuck in Los Angeles, too broke to get back home. Luckily, they met producer and engineer Adam Lasus, who has worked with a who’s who list of contemporary indie rock acts, including recording a hit record with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, had just relocated to Los Angeles.

Lasus worked with the band on 2007’s Pax Futura, an effort that was released to widespread critical praise and received airplay on KCRW and NPR Music. The band, who were by then a fixture at Spaceland and The Echo, supported the album with several national tours, as well as stops at Austin City Limits Festival, SXSW, Sunset Junction Music Festival — and a live set on Morning Becomes Eclectic.

Just as the members of Oliver Future started working on Pax Futura‘s follow-up, a famous touring artist hired the band’s rhythm section. Ingalls and Richardson wound up touring the world and winning a Grammy while the remaining members of the band went on to write and record 2008’s In Event of Moon Disaster. Shortly, after In Event of Moon Disaster‘s release, the band broke up. Josh Lit, Noah Lit and Sam Raver returned to Austin.

Shortly after returning home, Noah Lit and Josh Lit became co-owners of popular East Austin craft beer and kolaches bakery, Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches. The successful brothers and business partners were still eager to create new music, and in 2019, they asked Jesse if he wanted to return to Austin to play what was intended to be a one-off, goodbye show at The Continental Club. The show was sold out, and although it was meant to close the book on the band, the fun of playing together was undeniable.

As the drudgery of lockdowns continues into last summer, Josh Lit, Noah Lit and Raver started regularly getting together to jam in their studio. The music instantly sounded like Oliver Future. They contacted Richardson, who remembered two of the songs they were working on before their initial breakup “Phases of the Moon” and “I Can’t Take It.” The rest of the material, which would eventually comprise their forthcoming album A Year at Home was written remotely between Austin and Los Angeles over the past year with the band sending tracks and ideas back and forth through text and email. Studio pro Jimmy Paxson played drums on the album.

The band describes the A Year at Home sessions as “the most effortless recordings they ever got to do.” The final touch was that the band recruited Adam Lasus to mix the record. Although the album is the first album from the psych rock outfit in over 14 years, the album’s material sees the band seemingly continuing where they left off.

“Phases of the Moon,” A Year at Home‘s first single is a slow-burning and brooding song, centered around glistening synth arpeggios, the Lits’ ethereal harmonies, shimmering guitars and a steady yet hypnotic groove. Sonically, “Phases of the Moon” will most likely draw comparisons to Dark Side of the Moon era Pink Floyd and Young Narrator in the Breakers era Pavo Pavo — it’s anachronistic take on retro futurism, which seems to reveal the rot, anxiety, and unease just underneath,

The recently released video for “Phases of the Moon” is an eerie yet gorgeous fever dream inspired by modern life in quarantine doldrums: evil phantasms are everywhere, so the video’s protagonist is left at home trying to hold on to the old normal, and to entertain herself — but she eventually she goes mad.

New Video: Neon Jesus’ Sultry and Bluesy Banger “Red Lips”

Rising Canadian-born and-based singer/songwriter Neon Jesus can trace the origins of his genre-defying sound — a sound that pairs blues-inspired guitar with pulsing electronic dance music — to when he lived in New York.

While in New York, the rising Canadian artist frequently caught live music, and he noticed a significant and very telling difference in terms of reaction: “I’d be out at a rock show and while people were attentive and taking everything in, the crowd’s reaction was rather lackluster, even amid great artists before them,” Neon Jesus recalls. ““But then I’d head to a rave in Brooklyn and it struck me that people there were uninhibited and just generally more invested in what they were listening to. That was when I started to wonder what would happen if someone were to bring the two genres together.”

Electronic music was uncharted territory for the rising Canadian artist. But rather than mindlessly following the short-lived trends of generic dance music, Neon Jesus invested time to understand the foundations of electronic music and began to create his own beats to accompany his own guitar playing. That approach to production caught the attention of New York-based dance music production Abe Duque, a pioneer of deep house.

Mentored by Duque, Neon Jesus was exposed to underground dance music. Together, they created a live sound featuring synths and drum machines while the Canadian artist played guitar that saw the pair playing off one-another in an improvised manner familiar to the blues and jazz. The pair took their live sound to Berlin, where Neon Jesus became the first artist to play electric guitar at the renowned Berlin-based techno club Berghain.

Interestingly, those performances laid the foundation for Neon Jesus’ forthcoming full-length debut Tabula Rosa. Tabula Rosa‘s first single, the slickly produced and sultry “Red Lips” is centered around a thumping kick drum, glistening and pulsating synths, the Canadian artist’s plaintive wailing and scorching guitar lines reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, Prince and the like. And while pairing bluesy, power chord-driven rock with pulsating electronic dance music, “Red Lips” sonically and thematically reminds me a bit of INXS‘ “Need You Tonight” as the song is about desperate, maddening, obsessive desire — but with a sinister and uneasy undertone. “When you look back at artists like Prince or Jimi Hendrix, the blues was at the heart of their sound,” he declares. For some, this may seem a bit odd. The blues label doesn’t easily stick to them. Rather than mimic what came before them, they took the soul of blues and roots music and grew their own branches from the same tree. That’s the impetus behind my exploration of mixing blues and rock guitar with electronic music. I’m growing my personal branch on that tree.”

The recently released video was shot on grainy Super 8 film and is split between footage of the Canadian artist rocking out in a dark club, a beautiful blonde in knee high boots strutting around NYC. “With the video, we were trying to capture the sensation where love slips into obsession followed by a sudden darkness, where only the Lord can save you from its clutches,” Neon Jesus says.