New Audio: METZ Returns with an Urgent and Forceful Call to Stand Up for What You Believe In

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’d recall that the  Toronto, ON-based JOVM mainstay act METZ exploded into the blogosphere with 2014’s self titled debut and 2015’s sophomore effort II, thanks in part to a sludgy,  face-melting, power-chord based sound reminiscent of Bleach and In Utereo-era Nirvana, A Place to Bury Strangers, Japandroids and others. The trio’s highly-anticipated third, full-length album is slated for a September 22, 2017 release through Sub Pop Records, and the the album, which the trio recorded with the legendary Steve Albini at Chicago’s Electrical Audio Studio live to tape and features home recordings and additional instrumentation added by their longtime collaborator, engineer and mixer Graham Walsh back in Toronto. 

Reportedly, the new album finds the band pushing their sound and songwriting in a new direction while retaining the furious and intense energy of their live shows — in fact, thematically, the material may arguably be the most politically-charged yet personal material written to date, presumably inspired by life in the age of Donald Trump and a sociopolitical climate in which everything seems to be spiraling out of control. “The songs on Strange Peace are about uncertainty. They’re about recognizing that we’re not always in control of our own fate, and about admitting our mistakes and fears,” the band’s Alex Eakins explained in press notes. “They’re about finding some semblance of peace within the chaos.”

“Cellophane,” Strange Peace‘s first single found the Canadian punk trio retaining the sledgehammer forcefulness, sludgy power chords and rousing hooks that first caught the attention of the blogosphere and this site, but there’s an underlying, hard-fought maturity — the sort that come as a result of living in an increasingly fearful, uncertain, fucked up world, that feels as though it’s spinning faster and faster towards disaster. And interestingly enough, “Cellophane” seems to say to the listener, “hey man we’re scared out of our fucking minds, too; but we have each other and somehow we’ve gotta stick together and figure it out.”

“Drained Lake,” Strange Peace‘s second single, was a jagged and propulsive post-post-punk track with layers of blistering and scuzzy guitars, punchily delivered lyrics and thunderous drumming with the use of a lurching synth line for what I think may be the first time in the band’s history; but while being a revealing look into a band that’s begun to restlessly experiment and expand upon their sound, it also finds the band at their most strident and searching, while being a sneering anthemic “fuck off” to those who don’t — and perhaps can never — see you for who you are. As the band’s Eadkins explained in press notes, the song reflects, “the constant struggle to know yourself and make sense of your life and surroundings. What is my purpose? Holding on to who you are while finding off pressure to bend to what other people want and expect from you.”

“Mess of Wires,” Strange Peace’s third and latest single finds the trio at their most furious  and most punishing, as the song features pummeling drums, scorching guitar lines and punchily delivered, shout worthy lyrics and hooks. And while being a face melting, mosh pit worthy track, the song is underpinned by a visceral honesty and self-examination while being an earnest, urgent and forceful shout to the listener that now is the time to stand up for the things you believe in before they’re smashed to bits — or worse, before they’re taken away from you. As the band’s Edkins explains in press notes “‘Mess of Wires’ is a reminder to myself to speak out and say what I believe. To be honest with myself. It is common to feel that your thoughts are inconsequential, a drop in the echo-chamber, but silence can be worse. Speak out about what you believe in, loud and often.” 


New Video: Visuals for Twin Peaks Version of Lissie’s “Wild West” Follows the Adventures of Four Young Iowans

Lissie is a Rock Island, IL-born and based singer/songwriter, whose third full-length effort My Wild West thematically is a tribute to a her time in California, in which she arrived as a fresh-faced, passionate singer/songwriter, who returned to her hometown as a wiser more self-assured person an artist — and in some way, the album represents a both a return to the artist’s roots and a new beginning; in fact, the album’s bookend songs “Hollywood” and “Ojai” purportedly point to the extremes of her decade in California — the ups and downs of the former and the “stability, joy and peace” of the later. Interestingly, the album was released to commercial success and massive radio airplay — the album hit number 1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, Top 10 on the Independent Album chart, and number 16 on the UK Albums chart.  

Album single  “Wild West” has built up quite a bit of buzz, especially after the Rock Island, IL-based artist appeared, performing a special rendition of the song on Twin Peaks and will be available on the Twin Peaks Soundtrack slated for release in September; but as soon as you hear the song you’ll see why it’s garnered such attention —  it’s a slow-burning track that features Lissie’s pop belter vocals within a sparse arrangement of twangy guitar, stomping percussion and a soaring hook but under-pinning the song is a tale of resilience and perseverance at all odds. 

Interestingly enough, in a similar fashion to the original video for “Wild West” which was filmed by and features the adventures of 4 kids that Lissie’s videographer knew, the video for the Twin Peaks version was filmed by 14 year old, aspiring filmmaker Finn Deen-Lester. As Lissie explains of the Twin Peaks version video, “My friend’s teenage son takes photos & makes videos in NE Iowa so I approached him to create a video of his own imagination. He didn’t know what it was for & took to the country with 3 friends & a camera! I am so in awe of his young talent & eye and really enjoy this kind of collaboration!”


Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you may recall that I’ve written about Therman Munsin, an up-and-coming New Jersey-born emcee, who has a long-time collaboration with Hempstead, NY-based emcee and producer Roc Marciano through a number of singles and Munsin’s full-length debut SabbathSabbath‘s latest single “Plastic Surgery Face” features Munsin and Marciano collaborating with one of my favorite contemporary emcees Guilty Simpson — and in fact, the single features the two emcees trading gritty, gangsta shit bars full of murder, mayhem and braggadocio over a menacing production featuring a looped, twisting and turning organ sample paired with stuttering beats.


New Video: Watch Renowned Seattle-based Emcee Grieves Entertain in Purgatory in New Visuals for “What It Dew”

Benjamin Laub is a Chicago, IL-born, Seattle, WA-based emcee, by way of New York, Colorado and San Diego, CA, who’s best known by his stage name Grieves, and interestingly enough, Laub has released four full-length albums — 2007’s independently released album Irreversible, 2010’s Budo-produced 88 Keys & Counting, 2011’s Budo-produced Together/Apart, which debuted at #112 on the Billboard Top 200, and 2014’s Winter & the Wolves, which debuted at #57 on the Billboard Top 200. 

Grieves’ fifth full-length album the Chords-produced Running Wild is slated for release Friday through renowned hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment, the label home of JOVM mainstay Atmosphere and others, and the album’s latest single “What It Dew” finds the critically and commercially successful emcee employing a complex rhyme scheme and some mischievously witty punch lines as he discusses succeeding against all odds and despite haters and naysayers over a swaggering and soulful production consisting of electric guitar, boom bap beats, brief bursts of organ and swirling electronics. But underneath the swaggering and slick production and witty punchlines is a honest devotion to pure hip hop — while pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop should sound like, look like and talk about. 

The recently released video was directed by HELICAL, the collaboration between Carlos Cruz and Thai M. Tran, the video pokes fun at the song’s more serious subject matter, as it features Grieves trapped in purgatory, and forced to entertain a shitty dive bar in perpetuity, where the regular patrons are the living embodiments of the seven deadly sins. The video ends with Grieves eventually making the best of a horrible situation, by finding something good about it. As the Seattle-based emcee explains of the video treatment “Not everything is a crisis. Some things are simple and easy. Feel good and let go with this one!”

New Audio: Fuck Buttons’ Andrew Hung Releases a Primal New Single

Worcester, UK-born, Bristol UK-based electronic music artist, multi-instrumentalist and producer Andrew Hung is arguably best known for being one half of renowned electronic music duo Fuck Buttons with Benjamin John Power, an act that can trace its origins to when Hung and Power began collaborating together to create a soundtrack to a film that Hung had made but immediately after forming Hung and Power had started playing live whenever possible and soon began gathering a cult following for a sound that employed the use of a variety of instruments including Casiotone keyboards and children’s toys such as a Fisher-Price karaoke machine — and the result was a live sound that Time Out Magazine once described as an “adrenaline pumping, ear purging slab of towering, pristine noise.”

Their limited edition 7″ single “Bright Tomorrow” was released to critical praise from the likes of Drowned in Sound, Pitchfork, Mojo and Stereogum, and building upon growing buzz, Hung and Power played critically applauded live sets at 2007’s Supersonic Festival, Truck Festival and Portishead’s curated ATP Festival; in fact, after those sets, a number of media outlets named them as a Hot New artist for 2008 with outlets like The Observer calling their sound “a joyous racket of swirling atmospherics and percussive gunfire,” in an article highlighting them in a new, contemporary wave of intelligent, literate British pop music.  Since then the duo released three critically applauded full-length albums — 2008’s Street Horsing, 2009’s Tarot Sport and 2013’s Slow Tarot; however, over the past few years the duo have focused on various side projects and production work: Hung started a band Dawn Hunger with Clarie Inglis (vocals) and musician Matthew de Pulford. But he’s released a solo EP, Rave Cave and has co-produced Beth Orton’s Kidsticks. Power has released three critically applauded albums with his solo recording project Blanck Mass — 2011’s self titled debut, 2015’s Dumb Flesh and 2017’s World Eater.

Hung’s solo full-length debut Realisationship is slated for an October 6, 2017 release through Lex Records and the album’s latest single “Animal” is a tense and forceful track that finds Hung exploring a more organic, lo-fi-leaning sound featuring a gorgeous string arrangement, buzzing power chords, slashing synths, forceful electronic beats and drumming and Hung’s primal, punk rock-like howling. As Hung explains in press notes “Animal is a warning that oppression brings about consequences; we have bred fear and now we are reaping its effects. We cannot address the external without first addressing the internal.”

Since their formation in 2004, the Brooklyn-based psych rock/stoner rock Weird Owl, comprised of Trevor Tyrrell (guitar, vocals), Jon Rudd (guitar), Sean Reynolds (drums), Kenneth Cook (bass, keys, synths, backing vocals) and John Cassidy (keys, synths), have developed a reputation for a sound that’s been compared to Deep Purple, Hawkwind, Neil Young, Pink Floyd and Spirit, for releasing a steady stream of new music, which they’ve supported through tours of the US and UK; in fact, heir first two albums 2009’s Ever the Silver Cord Be Loosed and 2011’s Build Your Beast a Fire were self-released with later material catching the attention of The Brian Jonestown Massacre‘s Anton Newcombe, who released the band’s 2013 EP Healing and 2015’s Interstellar Skeletal through his A Recordings, Ltd. 

The band’s sixth release this decade, Bubblegum Brainwaves is slated for an October 13, 2017 release, and the album thematically touches upon cognitive dissonance, darkness, uncertainty, war, a world crumbling towards a dysfunctional dystopia — and naturally is informed by the currently political climate while reportedly finding the band pushing their sound towards new directions.  And as you’ll hear on “You (Sometimes Not You),” the first single off the band’s forthcoming album, the members of Weird Owl pair shimmering synths with a soaring hook and a catchy, Summer of Love meets retro-futuristic synth pop melody.


New Video: Introducing the Retro-Futuristic Synth Funk Sounds and Visuals of The Black Seeds’ “Freakin'”

Led by primary lyricists and co-frontman Barnaby Weir and Daniel Weetman and featuring Jarney Murphy, Nigel Patterson, Ned Negate, along Francis Harawira, Barrett Hocking, Lucien Johnson and Matt Benton, the Wellington, New Zealand-based funk and dub outfit The Black Seeds can trace their origins back to 1998, and since their formation, the act has developed a reputation for music that thematically may express different things based on the songwriter, focusing on personal triumphs and failures, relationships both good and bad, as well as the personal insights and experiences of the artists involved — while being under-pinned with an underlying message of positivity and optimism, pairing that optimism and positivity with funky, dance floor friendly grooves. And as a result, the act has developed themselves as one of their homeland’s finest acts; in fact, the act has several multi-platinum selling albums in their homeland, and a critically applauded live show that they’ve taken across the world, developing a foothold in Europe and North America. 

After spending several years with an intense and very busy touring schedule that included the act playing some of the world’s largest festivals, the members of the New Zealand spent the past year or so working on their soon-to-be released effort Fabric, which was recorded at acclaimed producer/engineer and long-time collaborator Lee Prebble’s Wellington-based studio The Surgery. And although the album will further the act’s long-held reputation for pairing funky grooves with positive messages, the album will also find the band gentle expanding upon the funk, Afrobeat, soul and dub-based grooves; in fact, “Freakin,'” the album’s latest single finds the band playing the slick, 80s-inspired synth funk that reminds me of both the genre’s pioneers — i.e., The Gap Band, Cherrelle, Prince and others, as well as contemporary practitioners such as 7 Days of Funk, Blood Orange, Rene Lopez, and others, complete with a two step worthy stomp. 

Produced by Owen Watts and directed by Mark Russell, the recently released video employs some pitch perfect retro-futuristic graphics and clothing, while featuring a soul train line and breakdancers — because well, of fucking course. The only thing the video is missing is a dude with a boombox.