New Video: JOVM Mainstay Thundercat Releases a Hilarious Visual for Shimmering and Funky Jam “Dragonball Durag”

Throughout the course of this site’s almost 10 year history  I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Grammy Award-wining singer/songwriter, bassist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. Bruner has long been a Brainfeeder Records cornerstone, releasing critically applauded material including  Golden Age of Apocalypse, 2013’s Apocalypse, 2015’s The Beyond/Where Giants Roam EP and 2017’s Drunk while also establishing himself as a highly sough-after collaborator, contributing to Kamasi Washington’s aptly titled 2015 effort, The Epic and to Kendrick Lamar‘s 2016 commercial and critical smash hit, the Grammy Award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. And in 2018, he teamed up with Flying Lotus to compose an original score for an episode of Donald Glover’s Golden Globeand Emmy Award-winning TV series Atlanta.

Drunk, Bruner’s most recent album was conceived and written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and bassist, but importantly, the album represented a major career transition — from virtuoso bassist and collaborator, to globally recognized star while further cementing his reputation for arguably being one of the past decade’s most unique, genre-defying voices. Thundercat’s fourth full-length album, the Flying Lotus-produced It Is What It Is is slated for an April 3, 2020 release through Brainfeeder Records. Much like its immediate predecessor, the album features a who’s who list of collaborators and guest spots from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, The Internet‘s Steve Lacy, Slave‘s Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox among others.

“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says in press notes. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Black Qualls,” It Is What It Is‘ first single, which found Bruner teaming up with Slave’s Steve Arrington and The Internet’s Steve Lacy on a strutting and strolling pimp bop, centered around Bruner’s sinuous bass lines, four-on-the-floor drumming and an infectious hook. The end result is a song that manages to be classic Thundercat while sounding as though it could have been on Slave’s Just a Touch of Love. The album’s second and latest single “Dragonball Durag” is a mid-tempo strut of a song centered around Bruner’s chunky and wobbling bass lines and his velvety falsetto — and while recalling Quiet Storm-era funky soul, the song is mischievous and funny song that details its creator’s sense of humor and obsession with Dragon Ball Z and the confidence boosting power of the durag.

“I have a Dragon Ball tattoo… it runs everything. There is a saying that Dragon Ball is life,” Bruner explains. As for the durag: “There are two types of people in the world, the guy with the durag and the guy who doesn’t know what a durag is. The durag is a superpower, to turn your swag on… it does something, it changes you. If you have one in the wardrobe, think about wearing it tonight, and it may pop off because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Directed by Zack Fox, the recently released video features cameos from HAIM, Kali Uchis, and Quinta Brunson and stars Bruner, as a desperate and impossibly horny loser, who stumbles upon the titular durag, and when he puts it on, he unleashes his newfound mojo and attempts to charms the ladies in a hilariously awkward and creepy fashion. And although he constantly gets rejected, he never lets it dull his spirit or his hopes.  

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New Video: Acclaimed Norwegian Emcee Ivan Ave Releases a Hilarious Visual for Silky Smooth Album Single “Triple Double Love”

Eivind Øygarden is an acclaimed Telemark, Norway-born, Oslo-Norway-based emcee, best known as Ivan Ave. As a Norwegian emcee rhyming in English, who grew up in an area surrounded by rugged, majestic mountains, best known for its hiking literature and folk music heritage than hip-hop — and has made a mark on the global underground hip-hop scene, Øygarden cuts an unusual figure. Interestingly, the acclaimed Norwegian emcee’s musical influences can be traced to his older sisters’ R&B record collection — in particular, The Fugees, Janet Jackson and Raphael Saadiq. 

As a teenager, his family relocated to Stavanger, where he gravitated to the city’s prominent hip-hop, breakdance, DJ and graffiti scene. All of those early  Øygarden took those early influences with him when he relocated to New York for a self-imposed residency, in which he spent time hanging out and collecting records at A-1 Records. Naturally, through his love of hip-hop, Ivan Ave discovered 70s jazz and soul — and sampling as a way to create his own music. 

When Øygarden returned to Oslo, he met his earlier collaborator Fredfades. The duo founded Mutual Intentions, a collective of like-minded friends and a label that became a platform that hadn’t previously existed in Oslo — and it led to work with international producers. In 2014, Ivan Ave signed to Berlin-based Jakarta Records, who released his acclaimed debut, 2016’s Helping Hands and his sophomore album, 2017’s Every Eye.  

Slated for an April 24, 2020 release through Playground Music/Mutual Intentions, Øygarden’s third full-length album Double Goodbyes, which derives its title from Seinfeld finds the acclaimed emcee leaving the sample-heavy sound of his previously released work and moving towards a broader sonic palette. The album also marks the first time in   Øygarden’s career that he took up production duties, producing the majority of the album’s material himself. 

Recorded last year in Los Angeles and Oslo, and featuring guest spots from Sasac, Bryon The Aquarius, Joyce Wright and others, the album was recorded during a period of personal struggle, where the work became both the focus and the therapy. “I needed to start from scratch in my life and rebuild it step by step, the music was part of the healing process.”

Additionally, the aesthetics of the Home Shopping Network and late ’80s and early ’90s new age influence some of the album’s material. ‘“It’s easy to mock, due to some of its pompous cheesiness”says Ivan.“But as I’m getting older, experiencing life’s ups & downs, the essence of it feels genuine.” (In some way, it shouldn’t be surprising that Ali Shaheed Muhammad once described the acclaimed Norwegian emcee’s work as “deeply therapeutic” on his podcast.) 

“Double Goodbyes is a product of just making music that moved me, in a phase of my life where I was building from scratch emotionally,” the acclaimed Norwegian emcee explains in press notes. “I found healing in producing and singing these songs, without necessarily putting my usual rappety-rap hat on. But as the album title suggests, a lot of times we find ourselves bumping into the exact things, people and habits that we thought we had left behind. So my hip-hop roots shine through once again, in this weird blend of RnB, AOR and synth sounds. Sasac was my main co-creator on the record, along with some dope music friends such as Kiefer, Mndsgn, Byron The Aquarius, Devin Morrison and more.”

“Triple Double Love,” Double Goodbye’s first single is a slick and silky smooth synthesis of 80s and 90s synth R&B and J. Dilla-esque hip-hop and a soulful hook paired with the Norwegian emcee’s playful (and fitting) basketball references and dexterous wordplay. Of course, the recently released video is set around a desperate protagonist, who after seeing an ad on his TV goes to a self-help guru to help him with his life — and play basketball better. 

“My long time collaborator Mohamed Chakiri and I came up with an idea for a short film, where the main character is struggling with duality. He loves dancing and basketball, but has a hard time keeping the two apart,” Øygarden explains in press notes. “When push comes to shove, he uses dancing as a defence mechanism against the pressures of team sports. The song ‘Triple Double Love’ is all about team spirit, and what that really means, both in love and on the art grind. So placing our man in a basketball-centric narrative was a perfect fit. We shot it last summer with a beautiful crew of Oslo homies. To feel the impact of Kobe’s passing now, seeing what an athlete of that magnitude means to people, made the video even more special to me.”

New Video: FORCES Returns with Another Dance Floor Friendly Bop

FORCES is a rising synth-based act, comprised of romantic couple and collaborative duo Jess and Dave. Although their latest project is a relatively new project, it’s centered around the 20+ year relationship and collaboration between its creative masterminds, who may be best known in their native Canada for their previous project, The Golden Dogs. With Golden Dogs, Jess and Dave wound up working with a virtual who’s who of contemporary, Canadian indie rock. including including the then-future members of Zeus, Wax Atlantic and Brave Shores, along with Taylor Knox and Stew Heyduk — while opening for Sloan, Feist, Bloc Party, The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, Thurston Moore and Roky Erickson.

Back in 2017, Jess and Dave went into the studio and began working on what they thought would be the next Golden Dogs album — although in some way, deep down they both realized that they kind of knew that it wasn’t. What they started working on was a decided and radical sonic departure from the driving rock sound they’ve long specialized in and were known for. In fact, they were increasingly drawn to the a number of different production styles — in particular, The Dead Pets, Liquid Liquid, New Order, The Cure‘s Close to Me and Timbaland. And as a result, the duo. which currently splits its time between Montreal and Toronto began to experiment with synths, beatmaking and funky rhythms.

At the same time Jess stepped up into the role of frontperson, taking on a sultry vocal approach paired with layered, punchy female-led harmonies. Simultaneously, Dave began to focus on guitar textures and melodies. Along with that, the material they started to write was primarily based around metronomic loop and electronics — instead of the drums-bass-guitar arrangements they had long relied on. Now, if you were frequenting this site late last year, you may recall I wrote about the FORCES’ debut single, the glittering dance floor friendly bop, “Stay On Me,” which was centered around a funky Nile Rodgers-inspired guitar riff, layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, a propulsive club-rocking groove and Jess’ sultry vocals that builds up to a cathartic sense of release.

The Canadian duo’s second single “Step In A Sway” is ironically enough the first they recorded as FORCES, and the single finds them openly embracing straightforward pop. Much like its predecessor, “Step In A Sway” features a sinuous bass line, Nile Rodgers-like guitar work, twinkling synths and fluttering electronics but it manages to sound as though it were indebted to early 80s Madonna  — in particular “Everybody.”  “The song is an ode to all of those who are first on the dance floor giving the rest of us wallflowers the courage and inspiration to do the same,” the Canadian duo say. 

“The song was inspired by a simple drum lesson we gave to a good friend,” the member of FORCES explain. “As she struggled to stay in the groove, the goal was to get her out of her head and into a rhythm where her body danced with the music. Later, as we were writing  it, we realized her journey through that lesson — the struggle to get from panic to flow (or ‘sway’ as we call it here) — is a universal one, and it became an exploration of that them in both words and music.” 

The recently released video follows FORCES’ Jess playing out the song’s central theme, as we see her walking through the city with her headphones — literally being in her head — and finding that “sway” in the forest scenes, where she finds her inhibitions dissolving, moving along with the thumping beat. 

New Video: Acclaimed Canadian Experimental Rock Act WHOOP-Szo Releases a Gorgeous and Cinematic Visual for Expansive “Amaruq”

Featuring members who split their time between London, Ontario and Guelph, Ontario, WHOOP-Szo is an acclaimed DIY prog rock/experimental rock act centered around a core  group led by Adam Sturgeon (vocals, guitar), who is a proud member of the indigenous Anishinaabe community; Kirsten Kurvink Palm (guitar, synths, vocals), Joe Thorner (bass, vocals, Casio), Andrew Lennox (12 string guitar, synth) and Eric Lourenco (drums) with a rotating cast of collaborators. Since their formation, the act has received attention  for enthusiastically crossing, meshing and blurring genres, sounds and styles: their sound is a fusion of folk, metal, pop, grunge, classical, psych rock, noise and prog rock. Thematically, their work focuses upon the effects of colonialism and colonization, self-determination, language and history, identity, empowerment and so on. 

Through frequent touring across North America, the band has developed a reputation for being a relentless force of nature, enveloping audiences in an emotional storm that dances conscientiously between anger, frustration, discipline and hope. Along with that, the collective is known for their passion for social work and activism — particularly when it involves Canada’s indigenous communities. 

The acclaimed Canadian act’s forthcoming album Warrior Down focuses on finding identity when it has been exterminated from your life. The material looks into the past — not with hazy nostalgia but as a way to find an indigenous future. “There is no single stereotype to associate with indigenous people.” the band writes in a statement. “The image taught in history books is not the reality of modern indigenous experience. We live in cities, have to drive cars and do a lot of the same things everyone else has to do to survive. 

“Indigenous people are not relegated to the past, but sometimes that past can help you look into the future. We can enjoy making art in contemporary ways and we love future tropes; Star Trek, Star Wars and 80’s miniatures are relatable to our community.”

Centered around propulsive and tribal-like drumming, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, atmospheric synths and arena rock-like power chords, Warrior Down’s latest single “Amaruq” is a expansive and mind-bending song that’s a seamless synthesis of prog rock, metal and post rock that captures and evokes the concerns and thoughts of the Inuit community with a conscientious and rabble-rousing spirit. “‘Amarug’ is a dedication to the Inuit village that helped birth WHOOP-Szo,” the band explains. “The song itself is named after the remote, fly-community of Salluit, Quebec’s local high school.” 

Directed by Ross Millar, the recently released and gorgeously shot video for “Amaruq” employs the use of miniatures and action figures in what looks to be Northern Quebec. Throughout the video, its protagonist, who’s set in contemporary times with electricity, technology, modern houses stumbles onto a portal that allows him to contact to the past — and with the ancients. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about Her Songs. And as you may recall, the act is a multi-national collective featuring:

  • Dani Murcia (vocals, piano, guitar, production), a Colombian-American, Miami-born, New York-based R&B/pop/soul singer/songwriter, whose lush harmonies and haunting melodies has been influenced by the likes of JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim, Kimbra and Matt Corby. Her latest EP Breaking Light consists of stories focusing on grieving her father’s suicide and searching for beauty in pain.
  • Emily C. Browning (vocals, guitar), a Christchurch, New Zealand-based indie soul artist influenced by the likes of Emily King, Lianne La Havas and Nai Palm. Her work features conversational-style lyrics, that offer a deep perspective and insight into the human experience.
  • Francesca Hole, a French-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, known as The Naked Eye (vocals, guitar). Influenced by Nai Palm, Lianne La Havas, Maya Angelou, Joni Mitchell, D’Angelo, Bruno Major and others, Hole’s work as she describes it, are autobiographical songs about life experiences, relationships and overcoming hardships that meshes elements of jazz, soul, folk and R&B. Her latest EP Love’s Grave was released last April.
  • JOVM mainstay, Marie Dahlstrom (vocals, piano, percussion and production), a Rosklide, Denmark-born, London-based singer/songwriter, who has been largely influenced by the R&B and soul she heard in her home as a child — in particular Edwyn Collins, Womack & Womack and Gloria Gaynor were on regular rotation. Dahlstrom discovered Dwele, Dire Straits, Erykah Badu, Kirk Franklin and Fleetwood Mac in her teenage years.Dahlstrom first gained attention as a solo artist in her native Denmark, eventually becoming a three-time Scandinavian Soul Award winner. Since relocating to London, the Danish-born singer/songwriter she has become an internationally recognized sensation, best known for crafting a warm and ethereal synthesis of jazz, classic soul and R&B. Interestingly, after successful collaborations with Tom Misch and Alfa Mist, the Roskilde-born, London-based singer/songwriter has been busy writing the material, which would eventually comprised her long-awaited full-length debut. Slated for release latest this year, the album was recorded in Los Angeles, Copenhagen, and London and features collaborations with James Vickery, Jeremy Passion, Elijah Fox, Beau Diako and a list of others.
  • Emmavie (vocals production), a London-based singer/songwriter and producer, whose work is an amalgamation of 90s R&B and her love for digital audio experimentation. She has built up a reputation for being a highly sought-after collaborator, working with IAMNOBODI, Buddy, ROMderful, Jarreau Vandal, Alfa Mist, Nick Grant and Jay Prince. Emmavie has had her work featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network-produced series Queen Sugar. And adding to a growing profile, the London-based singer/songwriter and producer was scouted by  DJ Jazzy Jeff, who flew her out to his house in Delaware to write and record music with Mac Ayres, Robert Glasper and Redman as part of the Playlist Retreat.

The collective can trace their origins to a conversation the five women shared on social media. Their debut 2018’s Los Angeles EP found the quintet crafting material that meshed elements of 90s R&B with contemporary electronic production. Building upon a growing profile, the collective’s forthcoming sophomore EP Toronto, Vol 1. is slated for release later this year — and the EP’s first single, the Emmavie and Marie Dahlstrom co-written “If We Try” is a sultry 90s neo-soul-like track centered around the quintet’s lush harmonies, shimmering keys, a sinuous bass line and a soaring hook. And in some way, the track will bring Teddy Riley-like New Jack Swing, Erykah Badu, SWV, Timbaland and others to mind.

”I Wonder,” Toronto, Vol. 1‘s second and latest single is an atmospheric and contemplative song centered around shimmering and strummed guitar, twinkling keys, soulful vocals, lush harmonies, and a soaring and infectious hook. While being the most straightforward R&B song the collective has released off the forthcoming EP, it’s a sobering contemplation of the act’s five women, thinking of their future grandchildren looking back at our current moment and wondering how the five women were like when they were young — and how their world was. “‘I Wonder,” the group says, “came about after a dinner table conversation on climate change, sharing our worries about what the future looks like for generations to come. It’s difficult to write political lyrics without preaching, so instead we focused on the perspective of youth and curiosity in 50 years’ time, looking back and wondering what it was like to fly in an aeroplane and see the ocean from the sky.”

 

 

 

New Video: The Dream Syndicate Releases a Hallucinogenic Visual for Sprawling and Mind-Bending “The Regulator”

Throughout the course of last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Los Angeles-based psych rock act The Dream Syndicate. The act, which is currently comprised of founding members Steve Wynn (guitars, vocals), a critically applauded singer/songwriter and solo artist and Dennis Duck (drums), along with the band’s most recent members Mark Walton (bass) and Jason Victor (guitar) can trace its origins back to the early ’80s. At the time Wynn along with fellow Dream Syndicate founding member Kendra Smith and future True West members Russ Tolman and Gavin Blair founded and played in one of  Davis, CA’s first New Wave bands — The Suspects, Wynn also recorded a single with another band 15 Minutes, which featured members of Alternate Learning. 

After returning to his hometown,. Wynn spent a brief stint researching in another local upstart band, Goat Deity with future Wednesday Week members Kelly and Kristi Callan. And while with Goat Deity, Wynn met Karl Precoda, who had answered an ad seeking a bassist. The duo of Wynn and Precoda started a new band with Precoda switching to guitar.  Wynn’s college pal and former bandmate Smith, along with Duck, who was then a member of Pasadena-based act Human Hands joined the band, completing The Dream Syndicate’s first lineup. (Interestingly, as the story goes, Duck suggested the band’s name as a reference to Tony Conrad’s early 1960s New York-based experimental ensemble, best known as the Theatre of Eternal Music, which featured John Cale.)

With the release of their Paul B. Cutler-produced debut EP, The Dream Syndicate received attention locally for a sound influenced by The Velvet Underground, Neil Young and Television, with aggressively long, feedback-filled improvisations. In 1982, The Dream Syndicate signed to Slash Records subsidiary Ruby Records, who released the band’s 1982 full-length debut, the attention-grabbing and influential Days of Wine and Roses. Building upon a growing profile. Rough Trade Records released Days of Wine and Roses’ lead single “Tell Me When It’s Over” as the A-side of a UK EP, which included a live cover of Neil Young’s “Mr. Soul” that was released in early 1983. Shortly, after that Smith left the band and joined the David Roback (best known for his work in Mazzy Star) in Opal. Smith was released by David Provost.

Their Sandy Pearlman-produced sophomore effort Medicine Show was recorded and released through A&M Records in 1984 — and as a result of being on a major label, the band opened for R.E.M. and U2. Attempting to build on a growing profile, the members of the band released a five song EP This Is Not The New Dream Syndicate Album . . . Live!, which was noteworthy as it was the last recorded effort to feature Precoda, who left soon after to pursue a career in screenwriting — and it was the first to feature Mark Walton on bass. The EP’s commercial failure led to the band’s first breakup — although a temporary one. The band was then dropped by A&M Records after the label rejected the band’s demo for “Slide Away.”

During the band’s first break up, Wynn along with Green on Red’s Dan Stuart wrote and recorded 10 songs with Duck and a number of other musicians, which was released by A&M Records in 1985 as Danny and Dusty’s The Lost Weekend. After the release of Lost Weekend, Wynn, Duck and Walton teamed up with Paul B. Cutler to form a then-newly reunited iteration of The Dream Syndicate that recorded two full-length studio albums — 1986’s Cutler-produced Out of the Grey and 1988’s Elliot Mazer-produced Ghost Stories. The band recorded a live album Live at Raji‘s which was recorded in 1988 before the release of Ghost Stories but released afterward.

The band broke up for the second time in 1989 — and a batch of previously unreleased material was released that included 3½ (The Lost Tapes: 1985-1988), a compilation of studio sessions and The Day Before Wine and Roses, a live KPFK radio session, recorded just before the release of the band’s applauded debut album were released. After the breakup,  Walton went on to play bass in the Continental Drifters while Wynn went on to become an acclaimed singer/songwriter, who restlessly explored a variety of different styles and sounds while leading a number of disparate projects including Steve Wynn and The Miracle 3, The Baseball Project and others.

Wynn led a reunited Dream Syndicate to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their full-length debut that featured Walton, Duck and Jason Victor, Wynn’s longtime Steve Wynn and The Miracle 3 guitarist at an appearance at 2012’s Festival BAM in Barcelona Spain. The reunited band went on to play a handful of other live sets, including two 2013 Paisley Underground reunion shows that included The Bangles, The Three O’Clock and Rain Parade. September 2014 saw the band playing a handful of shows in which they played their first two albums in their complete entirety — and those shows marked the band’s first shows in the Southeast in almost 30 years.  Between their first reunion show and 2017, the band played more than 50 shows together.

2017’s How Did I Find Myself Here was the band’s first reunion-era effort and the band’s fifth full-length album overall. Recorded at Montrose Studios, the album featured a lineup of Wynn. Walton, Duck, Victor and Chris Cacavas (keys) with Kendra Smith contributing lyrics and vocals to the album’s final track “Kendra’s Dream.” The band closed out that year with three songs, which landed on the 3 x 4 compilation, a collection of tracks that featured new material from their Paisley Underground counterparts — the aforementioned The Bangles, The Three O’Clock and Rain Parade with each of the four bands also covering songs by the other bands. 

Last year saw the release of the John Agnello and The Dream Syndicate co-produced These Times, the band’s second reunion-era effort and sixth overall. Interestingly, the album’s material is a noticeable sonic departure for the band.  “When I was writing the songs for the new album I was pretty obsessed with Donuts by J-Dilla,” the band’s Steve Wynn explained. “I loved the way that he approached record making as a DJ, a crate-digger, a music fan wanting to lay out all of his favorite music, twist and turn the results until he made them into his own. I was messing around with step sequencers, drum machines, loops—anything to take me out of my usual way of writing and try to feel as though I was working on a compilation rather than ‘more of the same.’ You might not automatically put The Dream Syndicate and J-Dilla in the same sentence, but I hear that album when I hear our new one.” Additionally, Wynn changed his process for writing lyrics. Instead of the song’s sound being dictated by previously written lyrics, he wrote all of the album’s lyrics after the band finished instrumental tracking, so that the lyrics were influenced by the sounds being played. 

Slated for an April 10, 2020 release through Anti- Records, The Dream Syndicate’s third reunion-era album and seventh overall The Universe Inside will reportedly be one of the most mind-bending efforts they’ve released to date — and for the first time in their lengthy history, every song on the album is a group songwriting effort. Musically, the material draws from each individual member’s eclectic interests and passions — Dennis Duck’s love and knowledge of European avant garde music, Jason Victor’s love of 70s prog rock, Mark Walton’s experience in Southern-friend music collectives, Chris Cacavas’ interest in sound manipulation and Wynn’s love of 70s jazz fusion. Recorded in one session, the band recorded 80 continuous minutes of soundscapes. “All we added was air,” Wynn explained. So, aside from vocals, horns and a touch of percussion here and there, every instrument is recorded live as it happened. 

Interestingly, the album’s first single is the sprawling and epic “The Regulator.” Clocking in at just under 21 minutes, the track sonically is a a sort of seamless synthesis of Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson-era Miles Davis, motorik groove-driven prog rock and 60s psych rock as the track features droning eclectic sitar played by The Long Ryders’ Stephen McCarthy, a sinuous bass line, soulful sax flourishes by Butcher Brown’s Marcus Tenney, Wynn’s vocals fed through vocoder and ghostly effects buried within the trippy and funky mix. 

“’The Regulator’ is a microcosm of the entire record,” Wynn explains in press notes. “It was just a formless, trippy mass as we all started playing together. There was an early 70’s drum machine—a Maestro Rhythm King, the same model used on There’s A Riot Goin’ On—with Dennis locking in and setting the pace. Stephen grabbed an electric sitar because it was the first thing he saw. Jason and I were kicking pedals on like lab monkeys in a laboratory and Mark was a lightning rod, uniting all of those elements into one tough groove. I collected a list of random, unconnected lyric ideas that I kept on my phone. I tried them all out in random order in my home studio just to see how they would feel and that one-take test run is the vocal you hear! There’s just so much lightning-in-a-jar, first take excitement on this record.”

Directed by David Daglish, the recently released video for “The Regulator” is a psychedelic journey through New York that’s equal parts panoramic, somnambulistic, political and hallucinogenic. Throughout, the video accurately captures the city’s frenetic and maddening energy, its lunatics and crackpots, its bold dreamers and hustlers, its sublime beauty and its gritty soul — it’s essentially a microcosm of our world. 

Live Footage: Yola Performs “I Don’t Want to Lie” on “The Late Late Show with James Corden”

With the release of her critically applauded, Grammy Award-nominated, Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, the Bristol, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola had a highlight-filled, breakthrough year last year. Some of those highlights included: 

playing a breakout performance at this year’s SXSW
making her New York debutat Rockwood Music Hall
playing a live session for YouTube at YouTube Space New York
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas.
making her late night national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! 
releasing a soulful cover of Elton John‘s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” that’s not only a staple of her live sets — but caught the attention of Sir Elton John himself, who praised the rapidly rising artist and her cover. 
2020 looks to be an even bigger year for the JOVM mainstay. It was recently announced that she’ll be playing blues and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama Elvis alongside Austin Butler in the title role Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Presley’s mother. Earlier this week, the Bristol-born, London-based JOVM mainstay finished her first Stateside headlining tour.  Adding to a busy year, Yola will be opening for country superstar Chris Stapleton during through a run of arena shows that includes an October 10, 2020 stop at Madison Square Garden. She’ll also be opening for the Black Keys during their summer amphitheater tour, which includes an August 26, 2020 stop at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, out in Wantagh, NY. Additionally, she’ll be playing Echoes Through the Canyon with  Brandi Carlile. Along with that, she’ll be making festival appearances in Australia and at this year’s Bonnaroo. (Check out the tour dates below.)

Earlier this week, Yola made an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, where she played album bonus track “I Don’t Want to Lie,” which managed to be a perfect showcase of her seemingly effortlessly soulful and powerhouse vocals. 

New Audio: The Bobby Lees’ Feral Take on a Blues Classic

The Bobby Lees are a young, rapidly rising Woodstock, NY-based garage punk act, featuring Kendall Wind (Bass), Nick Casa (Lead Guitar), and Macky Bowman (Drums) — and over the past 18 months or so, the band has received attention for a frenzied and energetic live show, opening for a who’s who of contemporary indie rock — including The Black Lips, Murphy’s Law, Boss Hog, Future Islands, Daddy Long Legs, The Chats, and Shannon & The Clams. 

SKIN SUIT, the Woodstock-based punk outfit’s forthcoming  Jon Spencer-produced full-length album is slated for a May 8, 2020 release through Alive Naturalsounds Records finds the band mixing classic garage punk hits, raw and emotive storytelling and some of the most blistering guitar work I’ve heard in some time. Now, as you may recall, last year I wrote about “GutterMilk,” 94 seconds of explosive punk that will remind some listeners of Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Jon Spencer‘s work with The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The forthcoming album’s second and latest single is a feral and unhinged cover of Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man,”‘ that nods a bit at George Thorogood — but with a defiant, gender bending boldness. 

New Video: Rising Oslo-based Psych Act Mayflower Madame Releases a Menacing Visual for “Vultures”

Rising Oslo Norway-based psych rock/post-punk act Mayflower Madame — Trond Fagernes (vocals, guitar, bass), Havard Haga (guitar) and Ola J. Kyrkjeeide (drums) — formed back in 2011. The band’s hazy, smoke-laden sound was conceived in and inspired by their gritty surroundings: they first rehearsed in a desolate, industrial building, where they shared space with a local carwash company. Shortly after their formation, they recorded a four-track demo, which lead to them being named “Unsigned Band of the Week” on one of Norway’s biggest radio stations. 

The band then spent several years touring and playing shows across Scandinavia, carefully honing their sound along the way. The band’s full-length debut, 2016’s Observed in a Dream featured eight tracks of psych rock/shoegaze paired with dark romanticism in a way that was icy, brooding and hauntingly majestic. The Norwegian psych act toured across North America and Europe, followed by 2018’s Premonition EP — four songs of apocalyptic love songs. 

Building upon a growing profile, Mayflower Madame supported Premonition EP with more touring and appearances across the European festival circuit with stops in France, Germany, the UK and Eastern Europe. So far, the band has shared stages with the likes of Killing Joke, Moon Duo, Night Beats, Psychic Ills, Froth, The Underground Youth, Crocodiles, Cosmonauts and La Femme. Most of this occurred between recording sessions for their forthcoming sophomore album. 

Slated for a March 27, 2020 release through a collaboration between French label Only Lovers Records, Portland’s Little Cloud Records and Parisian label Icy Cold Records, Prepared for a Nightmare reportedly finds the members of Mayflower Madame further developing their unique blend of psych-noir and post punk with elements of shoegaze and noise rock.  “Vultures,” the album’s menacing and propulsive first single manages to recall The Black Angels, My Gold Mask, and Chain of Flowers, as its centered around forceful drumming, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars and rousing hooks and an enormous sound. 

Directed by Astrid Serck, the black and white video is a hypnotic visual featuring a combination of collage-based laminations and imagery, live footage of the band performing and a dance sequenced performed by Norwegian drag artist Remi Johansen Hovda. The video manages to capture the tense and uneasy vibes of the song — and at points it feels as though someone or something is lurking just over your shoulder. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays KOKOKO! Release a Cinematically Shot and Feverish Visual for Brooding Album Single “Zala Mayele”

Led by Makara Biano and prolific French producer débruit, the pioneering Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo-based DIY electronic collective KOKOKO! is inspired by a growing spirit of protest and unrest among their hometown’s young people. Much like young people everywhere, Kinshasa’s young people have begun to openly question centuries-old norms and taboos, and have openly begun to denounce a society they perceive as being paralyzed by fear — namely, the fear of inclusiveness and much-needed change. The collective and their counterparts have done this with a fearless, in-your-face, punk-rock sort of attitude and ethos. That shouldn’t be surprising as the rapidly rising collective’s name literally means KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK! — with the collective viewing themselves as the sound and voice of a bold, new generation defiantly and urgently banging on the doors and walls, and yelling “OUR TIME IS NOW!” 

Speaking of DIY, the collective’s members operate in a wildly inventive DIY fashion, creating self-designed and self-made instruments from recycled flotsam and jetsam and recovered junk. They even built a recording studio out of old mattresses, reclaimed wood and an old ping-pong table. Unsurprisingly, the act’s creative processes is centered round the notion that poverty and the desperately urgent need to survive often fuels creativity. Now,  as you may recall the Congolese collective exploded into the national scene with their debut EP 2017’s Tokoliana, a forward-thinking, urgent effort featuring a difficult to pigeonhole sound with elements of disco, post-punk, hip-hop, reggae, retro-futuristic funk, Afro-futurism and the region’s traditional music that seemed to come from an alien yet familiar near dystopian future in which the ghetto and the club are intertwined. 

Tokoliana’s follow-up TONGOS’A EP further explored themes of survival within the desperate and uneasy sociopolitical climate of their homeland, in which the average person may be forced on absolute certainties — the small, deeply human pleasures we, in the First World sometimes take for granted. 

Last year’s full-length debut Fongola was released to critical acclaim from the likes of NPR, The Guardian, Mixmag, Mojo, Dazed and i-D Magazine. The Congolese collective made their live, Stateside debut with a tour stop here in NYC, as well as an NPR Tiny Desk Concert, which helped them gain a following here in the States.  

Building upon their rapidly growing profile, the Kinshasa-based collective start off their 2020 with the latest single off their critically applauded full-length debut, the percussive “Zala Mayele.” Centered around layers of thumping polyrhythm, a propulsive bass line, a looping sample of a gorgeous string section and distorted vocals, the track may arguably be the most brooding and atmospheric tracks on the entire album — while still being remarkably dance floor friendly. 

“‘Zala Mayele’s lyrics are about the dangers in Kinshasa’s streets (thieves, sorcerers, gangs, and more) and the importance of distinguishing what is what, what is hidden under what shape, in disguise and around the corner, in the shadows.” The cinematically shot video for “Zala Mayele” follows a young boy — Issa — as he wanders the streets of his hometown on his own. During his journey, he encounters and is threatened by a variety of dangers booth real and imagined that blind, titillate and confuse him. These dangers “little by little, he will be able to notice and take control with a trip on the other side of the mirror,” the band says in press notes.