New Audio: Introducing the Hypnotic and Cinematic Sounds of Nova Flares

Jason Wagers is a Berea, KY-born, Louisville, KY-based multi-instrumentalist and producer whose solo bedroom recording project Nova Flares is influenced by shoegaze and psych rock acts including Black Market Karma, Mystic Braves, Holy Wave, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, My Bloody Valentine and others — although interestingly enough, Wagers’ current project can actually trace its origins back to when he turned 18 and the Berea, KY-born multi-instrumentalist relocated to Louisville, KY with his previous band, The Corridors. And while in Louisville, the members of the band developed a reputation for crafting eclectic rock before releasing their full-length debut. Unfortunately, after the release of their debut effort, the members of The Corridors received a cease and desist letter from a British record label claiming to represent a band with the same name. 

Perhaps as a result of the crushing legal issues he had faced paired with a desire to start a project that was in a completely different direction, Wagers started his solo project — with a specific atmosphere and sound that he’s dubbed “surfgaze.” As Wagers explains in press notes, “The songs I create through Nova Flares are supposed to be very cinematic and capture memories and feelings from situations I’d experienced in my childhood and adult life, but these songs are also meant to be left open ended so that the listener could have their own personal sensory experience as well.”

Wagers goes on to say that the project is a next step up musically, as he sees the project as a way to further develop his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, composer and songwriter. His Nova Flares debut Gut Splinter is slated for a March 9, 2018 release, and the album’s first single sonically meshes jangling, guitar rock and shimmering, hypnotic shoegaze, complete with a sweeping, cinematic quality. In fact, the recently released music video further emphasizes the song’s hypnotic vibes as it features Wagers playing several different instruments superimposed over footage of birds flying and clouds in different color negative treatments and so on.

 

With the release of their first two EP’s 2016’s Sorry I Messed Up and Please Call Me Back, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based indie rock quartet Holy Now, comprised of Julia Olander, Ylva Holmdahl, Samuel von Bahr Jemth and Hampus Eiderström Swahn quickly developed a reputation as one of their homeland’s up-and-coming indie rock/guitar pop acts — and with tours across Sweden and in London, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based quartet received praise from the likes of DIY, The 405Festivalrykten and Nöjesguiden, and others.

Building upon their growing national and international profile, “Feel It All,” will further cement Holy Now’s reputation for crafting jangling guitar pop with soaring hooks paired with plaintive and tender vocals and while clearly drawing from 80s and 90s guitar pop, like The Sundays and others, the Swedish quartet puts a subtly modern spin on it, along the lines of the likes of La Sera and others — complete with a deep yearning to feel and know everything.

 

 

The late bluesman Roscoe Chenier was born in the tiny town of Notleyville, LA. And although his sharecropper family were extremely poor, Chenier grew up within a deeply musical family. Although he was related to zydeco legend Clifton Chewier and bluesman Morris “Big” Chenier, his father, Arthur “Bud” Chenier, a cajun accordionist, who was frequently accompanied by his first cousin, fiddler John Stevens (the father of Duke Stevens) was the Roscoe Chenier’s bigger influence; in fact, Bud Chenier and John Stevens were best known for playing at popular weekend house parties, where Roscoe would soak up the music.

In 1958, Roscoe Chenier was invited to join one of the region’s hottest traveling bands in the region — CD and the Blue Runners, which featured Lonesome Sundown on lead guitar and three of the Gradnier brothers on harmonica, drums and bass. Chenier played with CD and the Blue Runners until 1970, finding enough work to survive as a bluesman despite the popularity of the British Invasion acts of the 1960s. However, as tastes changed, Chenier like a lot of the great old bluesman discovered, it was difficult to eke out a living — especially when some gigs paid maybe $6 per man per night. And throughout the better part of the 70s, Chenier began a succession of jobs as a truck driver while picking up the occasional hired gun gig, playing in the backing bands of Good Rockin’ Thomas, Good Rockin’ Bob, his old bandmate Lonesome Sundown, Clarence Randle and Duke Stevens.

By 1980, Chenier was leading his own band and through a combination of reputation, luck and skill, he was able to recruit a number of talented musicians while desperately trying to remain as financial independent as possible, which by the late 90s became increasingly difficult. And yet, Chenier and his band managed to play several of Europe’s most prestigious festivals including Blues Estafette (in 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2001), North Sea Jazz Festival, toured across Europe several times and released a few albums before his death in February 2013 including 1998’s Roscoe Style and 2006’s Waiting For My Tomorrow. Roscoe Chenier’s last record, featured a haunting and folksy, acapella rendition of the old gospel standby “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” that immediately brings the early Delta Blues to mind — in particular, Son House, Lightnin’ Hopkins, early Muddy Waters and the like.

Interestingly, ElectroBluesSociety, a Dutch blues act, comprised of Japser Mortier (drums, bass) and Jan Mittendorp (guitar, production), who worked with Roscoe Grenier on several releases and several European tours decided to pay tribute to their late friend by adding a spectral and moody arrangement Chenier’s vocal that’s appropriately bluesy yet subtly modern, while retaining the timeless vibe of the original vocal take.

 

 

New Audio: Los Angeles’ VOWWS Releases an Anthemic Hook-Laden Single

With the release of 2015’s debut effort, The Great Sun, which was recorded with longtime friend, mentor and renowned engineer Kevin S. McMahon, the post-punk duo VOWWS, comprised of Sydney, Australia-born, Los Angeles-based duo of Rizz and Matt quickly received attention for a sound that drew upon a diverse array of influences including classic Western, electronica, surf rock, metal, film soundtracks, post-punk and industrial rock; however, the duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort, Under the World, which continues their ongoing collaboration with Kevin S. McMahon, finds the duo reportedly eschewing the familiar post-punk and industrial tropes to allow much more hook for razor sharp hooks, direct vocals and richer, nuanced textures.

And with Under the World’s latest single “Forget Your Finery,” the duo pair angular guitar and bass chords played through layers of fuzz and other distortion pedals with thumping and propulsive drumming — but throughout the song there’s a deliberate attention to melodicism and crafting an infectious, arena rock friendly hook in what may be one of the more anthemic songs I’ve come across so far this year.

New Audio: Up-and-Coming Portland, OR-based Act Blackwater Holylight Specializes in a 120 Minutes-era Alt Rock Sound

Comprised of founding member, Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass), Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth), the Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight began as an experiment of what Faris’ own version of what should feel heavy both sonically and emotionally. “I also wanted a band in which vulnerability of any form could be celebrated.” But interestingly, as Faris explains in press notes, her current band can trace its origins to when Faris’ longtime band split up. “In my last band, I was the only female in a group of 6, so I wanted to see how my songwriting and vulnerability could glow taking the drivers seat and working with women.” 

As you’ll hear on “Sunrise,” off the band’s self-titled debut effort, the band’s sound meshes elements of Breeders-era alt rock and garage, swirling and towering shoegaze, psych rock and moody post punk with soaring hooks — and although the song manages to be reminiscent  of classic, 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock, the song structurally walks a tightrope between moody, slow-burning dirge, anthemic power pop within a fluid song structure that eschews the familiar verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus of the past. 

New Video: The Lush and Meditative Visuals for Rich Aucoin’s “Release”

Rich Aucoin is a Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based electronic music artist and indie rock artist, known as a collaborator and guest musician of his older brother Paul Aucoin’s band Hylozoists and as an solo artist. His debut effort, 2007’s Personal Publication EP was conceptualized as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas and he supported the release by going on a cross-Canada tour entirely by bicycle to raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada. When he was finished with his solo tour, he joined Hylozoists on a tour, but after a sudden shift from regular exercise to visually no exercise at all, Aucoin suffered with an iron deficiency; however, after recuperating, he went on a solo tour, running partial marathons between stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. 

During both of his early solo tours, the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based musician recorded the material, which would comprise his 2011 full-length effort, We’re All Dying to Live, an album that featured over 500 guest musicians, including Sloan’s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party’s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band’s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. The album was long-listed as a nominee for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize, with the music video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” winning a Prism Prize in 2013. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Aucoin released his critically applauded, 2014 effort Ephemeral. 

Slated for a March 16, 2018 release, Hold EP is Aucoin’s first batch of new, recorded material in over 4 years, and the EP’s first single “Release” which, features live drumming from Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff is a sprawling yet propulsive, club banger centered around layers of arpeggiated synths and thumping beats. Interestingly, the track finds Aucoin drawing from house music, and boom bap-era hip-hop in a way that’s reminiscent of The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method and others — but underneath the club banging swagger, there’s a zen-like tranquility.

Directed by Dave Hung, who may arguably be best known for his work on Kanye West’s “Famous,” the recently released video for “Release,” was filmed on four separate occasions off the coast of Nova Scotia, and features a suit-wearing Aucoin laying in the water, repeating the mantra of there being no shark attacks in Nova Scotia — while the video crew flew drones overhead, safely on shore. Primarily based around one, long and deeply meditative, photographic shot, the video manages to posses a creepy air as it forces to viewer to wonder if the video’s protagonist was at peace — or if he were dead. 

New Audio: JOVM Sylvan Esso Return with a Sinuous and Propulsive Dance Floor Friendly Single

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you’ve come across a handful of posts featuring JOVM mainstays and blogosphere darlings Sylvan Esso. And as you may recall, the duo of Mountain Man’s Amelia Heath (vocals, synths)  and Megafaun’s Nick Sanborn (synths, programming, production) have received attention for  a slick, minimalist yet propulsive and thumping pop sound that’s a radical departure from the duo’s previous, individual projects.

Continuing their ongoing run of critically applauded and commercially successful releases, the duo’s Grammy-nominated, sophomore effort What Now featured the duo crafting material that inched towards a self-assured and coquettish, dance floor and radio friendly sound as you would have heard on album singles like “Radio,” “Jump Kick Start,” and “Die Young.” Thematically, the material on What Now focused on a critical and deeply sobering question” where we do go now as a culture, when it feels as though everyone and everything is standing at a precipice?  And as result, What Now’s material was imbued with the urgency of our contemporary political moment. 

“PARAD(w/m)e,” the duo’s first single of 2018 — and the follow up to their critically and commercially successful sophomore effort, will further cement their reputation for coquettish yet forward looking electro pop as Heath’s come hither cooing is paired with a slick and glittering production featuring shimmering arpeggiated synths, hand clap-led percussion, thumping beats and a sinuous hook.  And while sonically being upbeat, lyrically the song continues in a similar vein as their sophomore effort, as it manages to be deceptively ambivalent — is a celebration of love or a celebration of survival at all costs? Considering the contemporary political moment, perhaps ambivalence at all things is par for the course. 

New Video: The Trippy Visuals for Trummor & Orgel’s Trippy “Metropolis”

Since their formation, the Uppsala, Sweden-based sibling duo Trummor & Orgel, comprised of Anders Ljunggren (organ) and Staffan Ljunggreen (drums) have developed a reputation for being one of their homeland’s in-demand instrumental duos, as they’ve collaborated with The Soundtrack of Our Lives’ Ebbot Lundberg, Weeping Willows’ Magnus Carlson and Peter, Bjorn, and John’s Peter Moren among others. Adding to a growing profile, the duo have played hundreds of gigs across the European Union, and they’ve had their music featured on a number of TV shows and movies.

“Metropolis,” the first single off duo’s forthcoming album Indivisibility finds the duo driven by the desire to create something completely original within the limitations of their instrumental setup of drums and organ. In press notes, the duo acknowledge that creatively speaking, freedom and limitation are “two sides of the same coin; music can become incomprehensible without a frame, but without freedom, it becomes fixed. Or if you want to, Yin needs Yang for unity. This has been the leading principle when working with the new album, to find the balance between the organic and the electronic, the dynamic and predictable, now and then; the balance between man and machine.”

Sonically, “Metropolis” finds the duo taking on a cinematic and retro-futuristic sound while nodding at jazz, jazz fusion and funk — but within an arrangement that has the duo walking a tightrope between the immediacy and looseness of two guys jamming in the studio and the deliberate nature of playing a written composition without betraying either. And interestingly enough, the composition also manages to evoke the movements of crowds of humanity rushing to and fro in a busy city. 

The recently released video features this duo performing the song underneath a heavily graffitied up highway underpass, as well as footage of ghostly figures suddenly appearing across the screen and footage of everyday pedestrians walking about a decidedly European city — all of which emphasizes the duo’s trippy sound.

Rayvon Owen is a Richmond, VA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, who can trace the origins of his musical career to when he was a child; in fact, at a very young age, Owen sang in church choirs, toured with gospel musicians and performed in local musicals. Influenced byLionel Richie, (who has become Owen’s mentor) John Legend, Katy Perry, and Stevie Wonder, Owen has developed a reputation for being a introspective songwriter with an expressive and easy-going soulful vocal style. After studying at Belmont University. the Richmond, VA-born singer/songwriter spent time in Nashville, TN, where he spent his time writing and and performing with local musicians at a number of local events and showcase before relocating to Southern California, where he eventually wrote and recorded his debut EP  Cycles which featured his standout hit “Sweatshirt.”

However, Owen found national attention when he appeared on American Idols 14th season in which he was a “Twitter Save” champion and Top 4 finalist. And although, it’s been a while since I’ve personally written about him, his single “Can’t Fight It,” which was released on Valentine’s Day, featured visuals in which the singer/songwriter publicly came out as gay. As Owen say in press notes, “I was working on “Can’t Fight It”, and one of my close friends passed away. He was struggling with who he was and what he wanted to do, and never really accepted himself. And I really was thinking like- what legacy will I leave- is it going to be my authentic self?”

Interestingly, “Gold,” Owen’s latest single continues in a similar vein, as it’s a shimmering and anthemic club banger with a swooning and anthemic hook that captures the giddy sensation of finally finding the love you’ve been seeking for so long while simultaneously being a contented, celebratory “hell yes! this right here!”  As Owen told Billboard, “I wrote the song with my buddy Nate Merchant, who I worked with on “Can’t Fight It.” That day, we were feeling good. There was a good energy in the room. Whenever I write, it’s a stamp in time that captures the emotion of what I’m feeling that day. We were talking about coming out to L.A. and being out in the industry and how stressful that can be. He was kind of diggin’ someone, I had just started dating my boyfriend and exploring being a gay man — I’ve never felt that emotion before, being with someone like that. I’m getting chills right now just thinking about it. It’s been a long time coming for me to feel that. I know there’s so many other people who don’t get to feel that, but I’m hoping that they do when they come to terms with who they are.

So that fueled us, and I just wanted to say, “Hey, you got me feeling good as gold.” What better feeling do you have? Falling in love is such a beautiful thing. I love singing about love in general — the good and the bad — I write sad songs too, which will be on the future project too. You’ll kind of see the whole gamut. But in that moment, we were feeling good and thankful.”

Fronted by 23 year-old Jacob Duarte, the Houston, TX-based indie rock trio Narrow Head has quickly developed a reputation for a sound that draws from 120 Minutes-era alternative rock, as it simultaneously possesses elements of grunge and shoegaze — and considering that the band suggests acts like Hum, Deftones, Failure, Swirlies and My Bloody Valentine as influences, that shouldn’t be surprising.

Recorded at the end of last year, during recording sessions intended for their next full-length album, the Houston-based trio’s latest single “Bulma” will further cement the trio’s reputation for a decidedly 1990s sound, as they firmly add their names to a growing list of contemporary bands, who have brought back a familiar and beloved sound with a subtly modern twist, like Dead Stars and others.

The band is currently on a West Coast tour. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

Jan 13 – Fullerton, CA @ Programme
Jan 14 – Oakland, CA @ tba
Jan 15 – San Francisco, CA @ tba
Jan 16 – Eugene, OR @ Voodoo Donuts
Jan 17 – Portland, OR @ Blackwater
Jan 18 – Olympia, WA @ tba
Jan 19 – Seattle, WA @ Black Lodge
Jan 20 – Vancouver, BC @ Subculture Club