Live Footage: Ruby Force Performs “Church and State” at Pheasant Studios

You may recall that earlier this month, I wrote about Erin McLaughlin, a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, whose solo recording project Ruby Force reportedly captures her personal journey of self-discovery through hard-fought and honest storytelling-based songwriting focusing on tales of love gained and lost and her own life. And with her soon-to-be released Ruby Force debut Evolutionary War, McLaughlin along with an incredibly accomplished backing band featuring  Elijah Thomson, who has played with Everest, Delta Spirit and Father John Misty; Richard Swift, who has played with The Black Keys, The Shins, The Arcs and Foxygen; Frank Lenz, who has played with Pedro The Lion; and Sean Watkins, who has played with Nickel Creek have written deeply personal yet accessible material based on a particular period of McLaughlin’s life; in fact, as she explained to Rolling Stone, “it strings together like a narrative essentially, about how I love.”  
“Cowboy,” which I wrote about a few weeks ago is a sweet, old-timey/honky-tonk-inspired country song, and the song’s narrator describes a hotly passionate yet dysfunctional, romantic relationship with a cowboy, who persistently and predictably breaks her heart; but she defiantly and proudly loves him because after all, they’ve been through everything and anything together. And although you’ve likely heard such a theme in countless country songs, McLaughlin delivers her lyrics with a beguiling mix of easygoing, self-assuredness, earnestness, flirtatiousness and self-effacing irony.

“Church and State,” Evolutionary War’s latest single, much like the preceding single was inspired by a deeply personal experience — and in this case, “a mystically transitional phase in my life when my best girlfriends and I were living in a tiny Victorian house on the literal corner of Church and State Streets in Redlands, CA,” McLaughlin explained to The Bluegrass Situation. “We were playing at the Martini Lounge on Saturday nights and singing harmonies in the church band on Sunday mornings. So, you know, the song pretty much used me to write itself.” While lyrically, the song reveals a novelist’s attention to detail — particularly the aging woman in a pink rocking chair, stomping her beat to a rhythm, the feeling of love and comfort the song’s narrator feels by being around her beloved friends and the woman who’s love and devotion saved a young cowboy from hell; but paired with a slow-burning and atmospheric arrangement that gives McLaughlin’s vocals room to stretch and roam. Interestingly, her vocals manage to channel Bonnie Raitt, circa “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” And from  this new single, I think that McLaughlin may arguably be one of country’s up-and-coming stars. 

Advertisements

New Video: The Gorgeous and Highly Symbolic Visuals for Rogue and Jaye’s “Golden Lady”

Comprised of the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Courtney Jaye, who has spent stints in Nashville, Atlanta, Austin and elsewhere; and Bay Area-based singer/songwriter Zach Rogue, the frontman of indie rock act Rogue Wave, the country music duo of Rogue and Jaye can trace their origins back to a December 2013 songwriting session, in which the duo quickly recognized they had an instant and easy-going simpatico — perhaps based in their backgrounds as songwriters influenced by country, whose material frequently possessed a wistful, late night, drinking in the honky tonk vibe and the results the critically applauded debut single together “Til It Fades.” As Zach Rogue explains in press notes “We have this thing, and I don’t really know know why, it’s just a comfort level. We have this easy spirit with each other, where I like hearing here sing and I feel very comfortable proposing ideas.”

The duo’s debut effort together, Pent Up features a backing band consisting of Bands of Horses’Bill Reynolds (bass), Floating Action’s Seth Kauffman (guitar) and Grace Potter and The Nocturnals’ and Natalie Prass’ Michael Libramento (drums) and was recorded and engineered by Logan Matheny at Bill Reynolds’ Nashville-based Fleetwood Shack Studio and mixed and mastered by Mikael “Count” Eldridge in San Francisco. Officially released earlier this month, the album has been released to critically praise from a number of major media outlets including The Associated Press, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, American Songwriter and others, with Rolling Stone Country recently naming the duo one of their “10 New Artists You Need to Know,” and when you hear the album’s latest single “Golden Lady,” you’ll see why as the duo pair an easy-going, 70s AM rock and late night honky tonk twang with Jaye’s gorgeous yet wistful vocals. And while clearly drawing at Americana, 70s Renegade Country, indie rock and pop without being too tethered to them, the song also finds the duo subtly nodding at psychedelia with some pedal effected guitar.

In fact, much like the sources the duo draw from sonically and thematically, “Golden Lady” reveals the duo’s cool self-assuredness as the single is a recording featuring a bunch of old pros, who’ve made it seem way too easy — but at the same time, there’s an understated emotional honesty; the sort that comes from living a full and messy life of mistakes, foibles, joy, heartache, loneliness, being lost and found and lost again, and profoundly life altering experiences and experiencing them as completely and fully as possible — and with an effortless gracefulness.

As the duo’s Courtney Jaye explains, their latest single details an all-too common frustration with the universe and one’s seeming inability to cope with a personally damaging situation and learning how to be patient, how to be alone and how to love yourself before loving another and learning how to trust yourself and letting things go at the time and pace they’re supposed to. And in fact, the recently released video  Ben Bennett and shot and edited by Stefan Colson is shot in hazy, golden light and throughout Jaye is shot hemmed in and trapped in a person-sized tube and cocooned in fabric. And while Jaye is struggling to break free, there’s a sense that some of this is self-inflicted. In fact, as Jaye explains in press notes, “this video symbolizes being trapped by your own fear, self-doubt and lack of trust in universal timing. 

Comprised of Thom Gillies and June Moon, the Montreal-based electro pop duo Exit Someone can trace their origins to when they met at a show they both played in 2015 — and the duo quickly formed a songwriting partnership, primarily based around resonant pop melodies with lyrics rooted around the essence of love and loss. Their debut EP Dry Your Eyes was released earlier this year on digital and cassette through Atelier Ciseaux Records and the EP reportedly defines a time of musical spontaneity for the duo.

Building upon the attention they’ve received for their debut EP, the duo’s full-length debut Equal Trouble is slated for release later this year, and the album’s first single “Absent Lover” consists of shimmering and wobbling cascades of synths, stuttering drum programming, sultry and tender falsetto vocals and an infectious hook — and in some way the song subtly channels early 80s Prince and 80s synth pop but with a decided lo-fi tinge. At the core of the song is an aching and uneasy longing for a lover, who’s either quite a distance away or cruelly absent right in front of you, and a result while the song is breezy and swooning, it bristles with a barely concealed bitter confusion.

 

:

Comprised of founding member, frontwoman and primary songwriter Devin Davis, along with Andy Hengl, Justin Geter and Mark Edwards, the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock/grunge rock quartet Ramonda Hammer derive their name from a woman, who was featured on the early 2000s reality TV show Cheaters.

The quartet’s self-released 2016 debut Whatever That Means was released to critical praise from Impose MagazineEarmilk, PureVolume, Fuse TV and elsewhere. Building upon the growing attention they’ve received, the quartet signed with New Professor Records and released “Zombie Sweater” to applause from Brooklyn Vegan, She Shreds Magazine, Blurred Culture and others; in fact, the band also was named one of “LA’s hardest-working bands of 2016” by Oh My Rockness and one of the “best LA emerging bands of 2017 by The Deli Magazine.

Interestingly, 2017 looks to be a big year for the up-and-coming Los Angeles-based quartet as they’ll be releasing their new EP, Destroyers on August 4, 2017 — and the EP’s latest single, EP title track “Destroyers” is a jagged and off-kilter track that channels The Breeders, Veruca Salt, The Mallard, Bleeding Rainbow, and others, complete with a rousingly anthemic hook before dissolving into a stormy yet cathartic coda; but at the heart of the song is an emotional ambivalence, as the song manages to be simultaneously feral yet bitterly ironic, triumphantly ass-kicking yet a little sad.

 

 

Perhaps best known as the frontman of renowned indie rock act Black Moth Super Rainbow, TOBACCO has developed a reputation as a solo artist, who crafts abrasive yet anthemic electronic music that channels Daft Punk,  The Black KeysKraftwerk and Boys Noize, but from some industrial, dystopian and fucked up future — perhaps immediately post Trump? — in which rusty and forgotten machinery and instruments whirr, mash and grind together.

Last year saw the release of Sweatbox Dynasty, the long awaited follow up to Ultima II Massage and while album singles “Gods In Heat,” “Human Om” and “Dimensional Hum” further cemented his reputation for scuzzy and abrasive electronic music, underneath the murky surface was a breezy and dreamy melodicism that added a strange, zen-like calm to the proceedings. Interestingly, TOBACCO recently released a stand-alone single “Get Wet in the Bomb Shelter” and the new single manages to sound as though it was a forgotten Sweatbox Dynasty B side, as the song consists of cascading layers of whirring and buzzing synths, stuttering and propulsive, boom bap-like drums and a glistening melody — and much like the material on Sweatbox Dynasty, the song upon repeated listens reveals a subtle push in a new sonic direction.

 

 

If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of years of its seven year history, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring the work of Stockholm, Sweden-based electronic music producer, electronic music artist and Labrador Records label head Johan Angergård, who’s best known for his work with Karolina Komstedt in Club 8, with Rose Suau in Djutstin and his solo recording project The Legends. Now, Club 8 Angergård’s collaboration with Komstedt has a long-held reputation for a being difficult to pigeonhole sonically or aesthetically.  The duo, which initially formed in 1995 began as a Bossa Nova-inspired act with the release of their debut effort, Nouvelle; however, their 1998 sophomore effort The Friend I Once Had, the duo went through a complete and radical change in sonic direction, with the album’s material being entirely electronic and electronic dance music-leaning. Further cementing a reputation for being musical chameleons, the duo’s next three albums, released between 2001 and 2003 were featured old school soul-leaning material.

Throughout the bulk of Club 8’s catalog, Angergård had been the taken up all production duties — until 2013’s Above the City, which had the band working with an outside producer for the first time. However, Angergård returned to producing the duo’s work with 2015’s Pleasure, an album that Karolina Komstedt explained was about “love, sex and jealousy.” And you may recall that I wrote about album singles, “Late Night” a melancholic look at a love affair that starts off passionate before eventually cooling off; “Skin,” a decadent song that channeled Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.”

2017 has been an extremely busy year for Angergård. His solo project The Legends released a solo album earlier this year, Djustin released their long-anticipated full-length debut Voyagers last month and Club 8 released their ninth, full-length effort Lost yesterday.  Lost‘s latest single, the slow-burning and moody album title track “Lost” pairs Komstedt breathily tender vocals with a production featuring chiming percussion and a chopped up and distorted vocal sample. As Komstedt explains in press notes “We’ve tried to step away from standard instrumentation and perhaps sound a little less typically western on ‘Lost.'” In fact, because of its chiming and propulsive percussion, the song possesses a hypnotic and Eastern-inspired quality reminiscent of Wolkoff‘s work with Icarus Moth — but a chilly yet sultry vibe.

 

 

 

Nicole Atkins is a Neptune, New Jersey-born, Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter, arguably best known as one for her time in Asbury Park, NJ — and perhaps more important for a sound that draws influence from 50s crooner pop, 60s psych rock and psych pop, soul music and Brill Building pop; in fact, some critics have compared her and her sound favorably to the likes of Roy Orbison and others. This shouldn’t be surprising as Atkins has publicly cited the favorites of her parents’ record collection as being major influences on her, including The Ronettes, Johnny Cash, The Beach Boys, The SundaysHarriet Wheeler and Cass Elliot.
Atkins started playing piano when she turned nine and taught herself to play guitar at 13 and by the time she was attending Belmar, NJ’s St. Rose High School, she was playing in pick-up bands and playing gigs at local coffeehouses. Upon graduating from high school, Atkins attended the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, where she studied illustration and ingrained herself within the city’s independent music scene. And while in Charlotte, she began writing original songs and befriending a number of local musicians; in fact, at one point, she was a member of a local supergroup Nitehawk that, at one point had close to 30 members. She also joined Los Parasols and released an EP with them, The Summer of Love in 2002; however, later that year, she moved to Brooklyn, where she began to be influenced by the Rainbow Quartz Records roster, and began writing songs more along the lines of Wilco and Roy Orbison.

 

By early 2005, Atkins ran into keyboardist Dan Chen, who she had known from her days playing at The Sidewalk Cafe. Chen approached her about forming a new band, a band which eventually became Nicole Atkins and The Sea. During a residency at Piano’s, the band won the attention of music industry attorney Gillian Bar and quickly found herself in a bidding war between several record labels before signing with Columbia Records in early 2006. A the end of that year, Atkins and her backing band went to Sweden — Varispeed Studios in Kalegrup, Sweden and Gula Studion in Malmo — to record their Tore Johansson-produced debut effort Neptune City, which was released in October 2007 to accommodate re-mastering of the album. The album was a critical and commercial success, debuting at number 20 on Billboard‘s Top Heatseekers Chart and reached number 6 on the Heatseekers Middle Atlantic Chart.

2011 saw the release of her critically applauded, Phil Palazzolo-produced sophomore effort Mondo Amore. Recorded at Brooklyn’s Seaside Lounge Studio, Atkins’ new backing band The Black Sea featured Irina Yalkowsky (guitar), Mike Graham (drums) and Jermey Kay (bass). Atkins and her backing band played that year’s SXSW and were named by Spin Magazine as “the best live band of the festival,” and Mondo Amore received attention from the The New York Times and Rolling Stone.

During the winter of 2012 Atkins returned to Malmo, Sweden to record her third full-length effort Slow Phaser with Tore Johansson. Released in February 2014 to critical applause, the album landed at number 143 on the Billboard 200 based on the strength of singles “Girl You Look Amazing” and “Who Killed the Moonlight?” Adding to a big 2014 Atkins appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, where she performed a new rendition of “War Torn” off her Live from the Masonic Temple, Detroit album, an album which was recorded while she toured as the opener for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Recoded at Fort Worth, TX‘s Niles City Sound, with a production team featuring Austin Jenkins, Josh Block and Chris Vivion and mixed by the Alabama Shakes‘ Ben Tanner, Atkins’ fourth album Goodnight Rhonda Lee marks two different things — the first being her first album in three years, the second a marked sonic departure from her previous work. The album’s first single, co-written by Chris Issak, “A Little Crazy” was a delicate and soulful ballad that clearly nods to many of Atkins’ early influences — in particular, Roy Orbison with a hint of Patsy Cline. However, the album’s second and latest single “Darkness Falls So Quiet” is a stomping and soulful track that nods at Dusty Springfield — and much like Springfield’s legendary work, Atkins’ incredible vocals, which manage to simultaneously express swaggering self-assuredness and aching loneliness are paired with a warm and soulful arrangement that features a gorgeous string section, twinkling keys and a Daptone Records-like horn section. And if weren’t for the subtly modern production, you may have mistaken the song for being released in 1963.

Goodnight Rhonda Lee is slated for a July 21, 2017 release through Single Lock Records, and Atkins will be touring throughout the summer and fall to support the new album. The tour will include a September 9, 2017 stop at Mercury Lounge. Check out the rest of the tour dates below — and if she’s playing at a venue near you, go see her. She’s fantastic live.
Tour Dates:

7/20 – Lexington, KY – The Burl
7/21 – Florence, AL – WC Handy Festival
7/23 – Nashville, TN – 3rd and Lindsley
7/25 – Annapolis, MD – Rams Head on Stage w/Robert Ellis
7/26 – Fairfield, CT – Stage One
7/29 – Freehold, NJ – Monmouth County Fair
7/30 – Newport, RI – Newport Folk Festival w/Steelism and Ruby Amanfu
8/7 – Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark
8/8 – Chicago, IL – Space
8/10 – Davenport, IA – The Raccoon Motel
8/11 – Iowa City, IA – The Mill
8/12 – Minneapolis, MN – Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
8/18 – Asheville, NC – Altamont Theatre
8/19 – Athens, GA – Wildwood Revival 2017
8/26 – Arlington, VA – Lockn’ Festival
9/8 – Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle
9/9 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
9/10 – Asbury Park, NJ – Shadow of the City Festival @ Stony Pony Summer Stage – Shadow of the City Festival

 

New Audio: The Rosebuds and Gayngs Frontman Howard Ivans Returns with a Sultry and Soulful New Single from Long-Awaited Solo Debut

Perhaps best known for being the frontman of The Rosebuds and Gayngs, Howard Ivans stepped away from his primary gigs to write and record the “Red Face Boy”/”Pillows” 7 inch through Richmond, VA-based indie label Spacebomb Records  — and if you were familiar with his work with his primary projects, Ivans’ solo work has a bold and decided change in sonic direction with his solo sound leaning heavily towards a sultry blue eyed soul reminiscent of The Righteous Brothers, Michael McDonald/Michael McDonald-era Doobie Brothers and Hall and Oates while nodding at 70s AM pop; in fact, Ivans once recorded a song-by-song remake of Sade’s Love Deluxe.

Now, four years have passed since I’ve last written about Ivans and if there’s one thing that’s true in the blogosphere age, it’s this — four years is an eternity. But interestingly enough Ivans long-awaited Trey Pollard and Cameron Ralston co-produced solo debut Beautiful Tired Bodies is slated for a September 22, 2017 release through Spacebomb Records, and as Ivans explains in press notes, while he could have recorded the album’s material at any point over the past four years, he felt very strongly that it just wouldn’t be the same without the Spacebomb Records house band, so he waited until everyone was available at the same time.

Beautiful Tired Bodies’ latest single “Come On” will further cement both Ivans and Spacebomb Records’ growing reputation for deliberately crafted, sultry pop that simultaneously nods at 70s AM pop and Quiet Storm soul and much like the sources that inspired it, at the heart of “Come On” is the vulnerable, aching, sensual need of a broken man, desperately seeking the electric touch of a lover — right now without delay. But along with that, the song’s narrator is making a plea to open himself up more, to be more vulnerable in the face of love. Such sentiment is rare; but it’s rare because it comes from a truly adult perspective.

Certainly, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year of its seven year history, you’ve come across a nubmer of posts featuring Brooklyn-based post-punk duo and JOVM mainstays NØMADS. Comprised of Nathan Lithow  (vocals, bass) and Garth Macaleavey (drums), the duo have a rather accomplished history both separately and together, and with the release of their 2014 full-length debut, the duo received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that drew and/or nodded at Nirvana, Fugazi and Girls Against Boys while also nodding at Zack de la Rocha’s post-Rage Against the Machine project, One Day As A Lion  and Japandroids.

After a year-long hiatus from touring and writing, the Brooklyn-based duo spent the better part of 2016 writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their sophomore album PHØBIAC, a concept album in which each song focuses on a different phobia, approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion, while capturing the innermost thoughts, anxieties and fears of someone in the grips of their own deepest fear; but at the core, is a cautionary message for our heightened and uncertain times — that whenever we succumb to the irrationality of our fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the end result. Throughout the course of the year, the duo have released a new single off the album every month with the complete, full album being slated for a 2018 release.

Last month’s single “Chronometrophøbia” was a slow-burning and moody instrumental composition focused on the fear of clocks, watches and passing time in which buzzing and distorted bass chords evoked the grinding mechanisms of gears inside of a clock and the metronomic-like drumming evoked the clicking of watch hands moving around the clock’s face as it moves second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour. And throughout the composition there’s a creeping and unsettled anxiety of being aware of time’s relentless march forward — and being constantly reminded of the fact that time marches forward with or without you. As the band’s Nathan Lithow explained in press notes “The fear of clocks is a very compelling to me as a soundscape metaphor. As a physical object, a clock not only “tells” time, but also represents the passing of time, and the concrete idea of the present tense. Chronometrophobia is tangentially connected to Chronophobia, the fear of time or of time’s passing, but as a compositional theme I think the clicks/ticks/tocks/beeps and bells provide a bit of a textual context to the song as a whole.”
PHØBIAC‘s latest single “Dementophøbia” focuses on the most common fear any one of us would have — the fear that your your tenuous grip on reality and sanity may slowly be slipping. And when there are so many things both big and small in our daily lives that have seemingly gone insane, it would be far more likelier to start asking yourself “is it me — or is it everyone around me?'” And as a result, the song may be the most tense and anxious track they’ve released to date, as the song’s narrator seems to recognize that at some point there’s only so much anyone can take before they crack; the problem is that we don’t know what will cause it.