Copenhagen, Denmark-based pop duo and JOVM mainstays  Palace Winter — Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born, Copenhagen-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager — can trace their origins to the duo’s mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work throughout a number of different projects over the years. Naturally, that mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work led to the duo deciding to work together.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Palace Winter’s sophomore album, 2018’s Nowaways found the duo expanding upon the sound and songwriting approach that won them praise, as they paired breezy and melodic, radio friendly pop with heavy thematic concerns — with the album material’s touching upon the loss of innocence of adulthood, the accompanying tough and sobering lessons as you get older, the freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their life and destiny and the like. But it’s all underpinned by the profound grief of inconsolable loss. Life, after all is about recognizing that immense heartbreak and devastating loss are part of the price of admission, and that somehow you have to figure out a way to move forward.

Palace Winter’s highly anticipated, third album . . . Keep Dreaming, Buddy is slated for an October 23, 2020 release through Tambourhinoceros Records, and unlike their preceding albums, . . .Keep Dreaming, Buddy‘s material was written through a long distance correspondence as the band’s Coleman was residing in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. “Caspar was sending me these synth hooks and drum loops from Denmark, so I started coming up with melodies and lyrical ideas to record into my phone,” Coleman says of the writing sessions. While Coleman’s lyrics were inspired by Tenerife’s unique landscape, drawing metaphorical parallels between Mt. Teide, a dormant volcano, which also is one of Spain’s tallest peaks and the looming fear of a relationship disintegrating, Hesselager’s instrumental parts were inspired by Copenhagen’s landscape. And as a result, the album’s material is literally a tale of two cities and two completely different emotional states.

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles: The album’s first single “Top of the Hill,” was a great example of the album’s overall tale of two cities and two completely different emotional states. Featuring shimmering and icy synths, thumping beats and an enormous, arena rock friendly hook paired with Coleman’s volcanic imagery-based lyrics, the song captures the bubbling dissatisfaction, boredom, frustration and distrust of a relationship about to boil over and explode. “Won’t Be Long,. . . .Keep Dreaming Buddy‘s second single may arguably be the album’s most ambitious and expansive songs. Featuring elements of arena rock, glam rock and synth pop, the track which was centered around a rousingly anthemic hook, a crunchy power chord-driven riff, shimmering synth arpeggios and strummed acoustic guitar, the song is actually deceptively (and perhaps, even ironically) upbeat, as it tackles the anxiety of anticipatory loss of a loved one. Loss and despair are always around the corner, indeed.

“Deeper End,” the album’s third single is a decidedly genre-defying affair — and it finds the duo pushing their sound in a new direction but without changing the elements of their sound and approach that has won them attention internationally. Featuring an infectious hook, shimmering synth arpeggios and strummed guitar, the breezy song is one part synth pop. one part 70s AM rock, one part country — but while centered around an unusual juxtaposition: the song as the band’s Carl Coleman explains is “a story about a bad trip at a weird house party I went to with my sister.” Coleman adds “Think Kraftwerk playing a classic country song.” In either case, the song is full of slow-burning, creeping dread and anxiety, the fear of skeleton stuffed closets being exposed.

Granddaddy’s Jason Lytle contributes a guest verse to the song, a verse in which his character dispenses harsh yet very trippy truths to the song’s hallucinating and anxious narrator. Interestingly, the collaboration can trace its origins back to when the members of Palace Winter discovered that Lytle was a fan, after he added a Palace Winter song to one of his playlists. Coleman, who’s been a longtime fan of Lytle’s work with Granddaddy reached out to Lytle with what he thought was an unlikely proposition to work together. Obviously, Lytle said yes. “It’s wild to think that back in the early naughties I was wandering around Europe with Grandaddy in my headphones, and now here I am trading lines with Jason. It’s a real honour and a proud moment for our band” Coleman says.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays METZ Release a Cinematic and Epic Visual for Euphoric Single “Blind Youth Industrial Park”

Throughout the course of this site’s 10-plus year history, I’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink covering the Toronto-based punk trio and JOVM mainstays METZ. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the last couple of months, you might recall that he longtime JOVM mainstays fourth album Atlas Vending is slated for an October 9, 2020 release through their longtime label home Sub Pop Records.

Their previously released material found the band thriving on an abrasive relentlessness but before they set to work on Atlas Vending, the Canadian punk trio set a goal for themselves and for the album — that they were going to make a much more patient and honest album, an album that invited repeated listens rather than a few exhilarating mosh-pit friendly bludgeonings. Co-produced by Uniform’s Ben Greenberg and mastered by Seth Manchester at Pawtucket’s Machines with Magnets, the album finds the band crafting music for the long haul, with the hopes that their work could serve as a constant as they (and the listener) navigated life’s trials and tribulations.

Reportedly, the end result is an album’s worth of material that retains the massive sound that has won them attention and hearts across the world but while arguably being their most articulate, earnest and dynamic of their growing catalog. Thematically, the album covers disparate yet very adult themes: paternity, crushing social anxiety, addiction, isolation, media-induced paranoia and the restless urge to just say “Fuck this!” and leave it all behind. Much like its immediate predecessor, Altas Vending offers a snapshot of the the modern condition as they see it; however, each of the album’s ten songs were written to form a musical and narrative whole — with the album’s song sequencing following a cradle-to-grave trajectory.

Naturally, the album’s material runs through the gamut of emotions — from the most rudimentary and simplistic sensations of childhood to the increasingly nuanced and turbulent peaks and valleys of adulthood. And in some way, the album finds the back taking what’s inevitable for all of guys — getting older, especially in an industry seemingly suspended in perpetual youth. “Change is inevitable if you’re lucky,” METZ’s Alex Eadkins says of the band’s fourth album Atlas Vending. “Our goal is to remain in flux, to grow in a natural and gradual way. We’ve always been wary to not overthink or intellectualize the music we love but also not satisfied until we’ve accomplished something that pushes us forward.”

As it turns out, METZ’s currently mission is to faithfully mirror the inevitably painful struggles of adulthood while tapping into the conflicting relationship between rebellion and revelry — particular in a period of profound and seemingly unending bleakness. I’ve written about two of the album’s singles so far: “A Boat to Drown In,” the album closing track, which finds the band moving away from their long-held grunge influences and crafting one of the most expansive, oceanic tracks of their catalog — and “Hail Taxi,” a deceptive return to form centered around an aching and deeply adult sense of regret, as the song features a narrator, who attempts to reconcile who they once were and who they’ve become.

“Blind Youth Industrial Park,” Atlas Vending’s third and latest single is a rapturous and euphoric ripper done in true METZ style — enormous, rousingly anthemic hooks, Eadkins urgently howled vocals, pummeling drumming and towering feedback drenched power chords. But at its core, the song is an ode to the naivety of youth and the blissful freedom of being unburdened by the world around you with a novelist’s attention to psychological detail.

Directed by Dylan Pharazyn, the recently released and cinematically shot visual for “Blind Youth Industrial Park” was shot in Queenstown, New Zealand as is set in a dystopian and futuristic planet with futuristic technology that may be derived from aliens. We follow the videos protagonist Ayeth on a nomadic walk through an epic landscape with a severely wounded companion. The video’s protagonists are followed by an armed militia. “I started thinking of the feeling of war or samurai films, beautiful but dark and violent… but then I had this idea to work up a more unique world… I started to think of a more futuristic setting — more unusual and dream-like with the story set on a distant planet where there is future technology and some kind of alien magic… like a futuristic fable,” Pharazyn says of the new video. “I loved the idea of the hero Ayeth on this nomadic walk through an epic landscape… I loved the strength in her and the pairing of her with a wounded companion, something really human and vulnerable… I wanted that emotive warmth countering the cold military images.”

New Video: Dutch JOVM Mainstay Nana Adjoa Releases a Feverish Visual for Slow-burning “National Song”

Over the past two years or so, I’ve spilled a fair share of virtual ink covering the rising Amsterdam-born and-based Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter and multi-instrumetnalist Nana Adjoa. The Dutch-born JOVM mainstay can trace the origins of her music career to when she joined her first band as a teenager. At the time, she chose to play bass because “every other instrument had been claimed,” she recalls with a laugh. Unbeknownst to Adjoa, her mother had once played bass in a Ghanian Highlife band and still happened to have her guitar. Adjoa went on to the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she studied jazz — electric bass and double bass; however, she found the experience wasn’t what she imagined it to be. “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.”

Interestingly, around the same time, Adjoa bean to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying in school and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while jamming with friends, outside of school. She quickly realized that pursuing a solo career was the best direction for her, so she recruited local musicians and started recording her own material. Since the release of Down at the Root, Part 1 and its follow-up, Down at the Root, Part 2, Adjoa has developed a reputation for being a restless sonic explorer, who has crafted material centered around deft poeticism and an adventurous yet accessible sense of musicianship. Adjoa set out to write her full-length debut at the beginning of last year. Working in her own studio, she not only had the freedom to write and record songs nearly simultaneously, she had a wide palette of instruments at her disposal. The end result is her soon-to-be released full-length debut, the Wannes Salomé-produced Big Dreaming Ants, slated for a September 24, 2020 release.

Reportedly lush yet delicate, intimate yet expansive and moody yet hopeful, the album’s material is features a diverse array of multi-layered tonal textures — including thumb piano, vibraphone and a vintage harmonium along with guitar, bass, vocals, etc. Although Adjoa — who, typically plays guitar on stage — handled, the majority of the album’s instrumentation herself, the album features a collection of Amsterdam’s finest players collaborating with her, including the members of her live band: Mats Voshol (drums), Daniel van Loenen (trombone), Tim Schakel (guitar), Jonas Pap (strings) and Eelco Topper (vibraphone). Thematically, the album reveals a young artist poised to make a clear and concise artistic statement, in which she continues an ongoing search for identity while pondering life’s great philosophical questions. “For me,” she says, “music is a way to believe in something deeper.”

Throughout the past couple of months, I’ve written about three of Big Dreaming Ants’ singles: the shimmering, hook driven “Throw Stones,” which featured a narrator desperately trying to calm themself and their emotions in the face of internet trolls, digital clashes and the overall uncertainty of our world, trippy and expansive “No Room,” which featured elements of shoegaze, indie rock and Afro pop and “I Want to Change,” a delicate song that expressed a skittish yet hopeful view of change and evolution — both internally and externally.

Centered around a gorgeous arrangement featuring twinkling synths, brooding strings, strummed guitar, stuttering yet dramatic drumming, and Adjoa’s achingly tender vocals, “National Song,” Big Dreaming Ants’ fourth and latest single is a slow-burning, lullaby-like song with a narrator, struggling with having a sense of belonging in a cruel, morally bankrupt world that values some and not all, the dangers of tribalism and nationalism and more.

“I feel that neo-nationalism is occurring all over the world. Our ‘nations’ and borders are no longer what they once were because of so many different and rapid changes in what used to be our small worlds,” the Amsterdam-born and-based JOVM mainstay says of her latest single. “Growing pains of progress (I hope), which express themselves as a desire for conservative ideas rooted in a fear of change. Every occasion in which the old tradition of a national song is sung, it feels to me like a moment of doubt between the past and the future. It’s something I never used to think about twice and now makes me feel something different; there is something uneasy about it. The Dutch national song, ‘Het Wilhemus’, is one of the oldest national anthems. It has its own funny story to its heritage. Some countries don’t even have lyrics to the national anthem because there has already been a history of identity crises within the nation itself. Some countries do not have one, but two, national songs, and some aren’t in the native tongue. What is this feeling of belonging to one nation worth nowadays? Especially for people with mixed backgrounds like myself.”

Directed by Robbert Doelwijt, Jr. the recently released video for “National Song” features dancers dressed in traditional Ghanian school uniforms expressionistically dancing to the song while a denim-clad Adjoa is captured singing the song in gorgeous golden hour sunlight. While feeling like a fever dream, the video subtly pays homage to Adjoa’s heritage.

Portland, OR-based The Parson Red Heads — currently Evan Way (guitar, vocals), Brette Marie Way (drums, vocals), Robbie Augspurger (bass), Raymond Richards (multi-instrumentalist, production), the band’s newest member Jake Smith (guitar) and a rotating cast of friends, collaborators and associates — can trace their origins back to when its founding members met while attending college in Eugene OR back in 2004, studying for degrees that as the band’s Evan Way once joked “never used or even completed.”

The members of the then newly formed Parson Red Heads spent the next year writing songs and rehearsing constantly. “We would rehearse in the living room of my house for hours and hours until my roommates would be driven crazy — writing songs and playing them over and over again, and generally having as much fun as a group of people can have,” Way fondly recalls. “We weren’t sure if we were very good, but we were sure that there was a special bond growing between us, a chemistry that you didn’t find often.”

In 2006, the band relocated to Los Angeles, with the hopes that they would take music seriously and become a real band. The members of the band moved into and shared a one bedroom apartment in West Los Angeles. “Eventually the population of our 1 bedroom ballooned to 7 — all folks who played in our band at that point, too,” Way says of the band’s early days in Southern California. The Parson Red Heads quickly became mainstays in a growing, 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene primarily based in Los Angeles’ Silverlake and Echo Park sections. “We played every show we could lay our collective hands on, which turned out to be a lot of shows. We must have played 300+ shows in our first two years in L.A.  . . . . We practiced non-stop and wrote a ton of songs, and eventually recorded our debut album King Giraffe at a nice little studio in Sunland, with the help of our friends Zack and Jason,” Way reminisces.

After the release of King Giraffe, The Parson Red Heads spent the next three years writing new material and touring, which eventually resulted in their sophomore album, 2011’s Yearling. The album was partially recorded at Los Angeles-based studio Red Rockets Glare with Raymond Richards, who had then joined the band to play pedal steel and in North Carolina at Fidelitorium with The dB’s Chris Stamey. After finishing the album, the members of the band decided to quit their day jobs and give up their apartments to go on a lengthy tour with their friends Cotton Jones. After the tour was completed, they would relocate to Portland.

Simultaneously, the band had developed a reputation for performing an uninhabited live show, in which they could easily morph from earnest folk to ass-kicking rock anthems with their sound and approach being inspired by The ByrdsTeenage FanclubBig StarCrosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Jackson Browne. Interestingly, with the band’s third album 2013’s Orb Weaver, the band desired to capture the energy and sound of their live sound.  “We’re always made records that were more thought-out,” Way says of Orb Weaver.

The Portland-based band’s fourth album, 2017’s Blurred Harmony found the band actively intending to do things differently than they did on their previously released work — with them and recording and tracking themselves: frequently, they would set up drums ad amps and furiously record Blurred Harmony‘s material after everyone put their kids to sleep, finishing that day’s session before it got too late. And as a result, Way says  “the record is more a true part of us than any record we have made before — we put ourselves into it, made ourselves fully responsible for it. Even the themes of the songs are more personal than ever — it’s an album dealing with everything that has come before. It’s an album about nostalgia, about time, change, about the hilarious, wonderful, bittersweet, sometimes sad, always incredible experience of living. Sometimes it is about regret or the possibility of regret. These are big topics, and to us, it is a big album, yet somehow still intimate and honest.”

After the release of Blurred Harmony, the band’s founding member Sam Fowles left the band — and the members of the band were forced to ask themselves tough questions about both the future of the band and its creative direction. The remaining founding members recruited their touring Jake Smith to join the band full-time, and then they decided to approach any new material with a completely new lens. Slated for a November 13, 2020 release through their longtime label homes Fluff and Gravy Records across North America and You Are The Cosmos across Europe, The Parson Red Heads’ fifth album Lifetime of Comedy reportedly finds the band excavating the bedrock of their well-honed sound and allowing it to be remolded. While remaining a quintessentially Parson Red Heads album, the material as Way contends in press notes are the most collaborative they’ve written and recorded to date.

Initially starting the recording of Lifetime of Comedy earlier this year, The Parson Red Heads quickly found themselves and their plans in limbo as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. And once studios could reopen, sessions continued at a snail’s place for small, very intimate sessions. With the material being recorded in a delicate, touch and go period, the album’s material seems to be deeply informed by a sense of perseverance and hope.

“All I Wanted,” Lifetime of Comedy‘s first single is classic Parson Red Heads — breezy yet careful and thoughtfully crafted song centered around shimmering guitars, twangy steel pedal, rousing sing–a-long choruses, saccharine bursts of multi-part harmonies, Evan Way’s plaintive falsetto and incredibly earnest lyricism, born of lived-in experiences. And while superficially sounding as though it could have easily been part of the Blurred Harmony sessions, the track manages to possess a subtle free-flowing, jammier vibe. If you pay close attention, you can literally feel longtime friends creating something with a revitalized sense of togetherness.

Featuring a regretful and brokenhearted narrator, “All I Wanted” thematically is full of the hindsight and regret of someone looking back at the past — their past selves, their past mistakes and misgivings — and wishing that there was some way that they could undo it, so that they could remain in a relationship that they desperately prized above everything else. And yet, there’s a tacit recognition that while you may pine for the past, you can’t ever get it back. In fact, life does what it always does — pushes and forces you forward.

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New Video: Monsieur MÂLÂ Releases a Breezy Two-Step Inducing Latin-Tinged Single

Monsieur MÂLÂ is a French musical collective — Balthazar Naturel (sax), Robin Antunes (violin/mandolin), Nicholas Vella (keys), Swaéli Mbappé (bass) and Mathieu Edward (drums) — that features musicians, who have played with a who’s who list of contemporary, internationally acclaimed artists including De La Soul, Mayra Andrade, CHASSOL, Ibrahim Maalouf, China Moses and a lengthy list of others.

Released earlier this year, the act’s debut single “Misemo” features a sinuous bass line, soulful horns, twinkling strings and stuttering polyrhythm within an expansive, tempo shifting, Latin and Tropicalia-like composition. With fall officially upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, this song is a reminder of warm summer nights dancing and returning home singing love songs to yourself. Unsurprisingly, the band explains that the composition encourages the listener, whoever they may be, that sometimes you just need to dance, and let it all go for a little while at least. God, how we could all use that, right about now.

Directed by Jonathan Schupak, the video for “Misemo” follows a diverse collection of people across race, gender and age listening to the song for the first time, capturing their earnest first impressions. The video reminds the viewer that in our morally bankrupt world, music is the only truly universal thing in our lives — and it may be one of the few things that truly binds us.

New Video: Nicolas Michaux Releases a Slinky and Brooding Meditation on Economic Anxiousness and Uncertainty

I’ve written a bit about, Brussels-born singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer Nicolas Michaux over the past couple of months. Currently splitting his time between Brussels and Samsø, Denmark, Michaux, who writes and sings in both English and French, has received attention across Europe for crafting as sound that features elements of French chanson, 60s British rock and early New Wave, guided by a distinctly personal spirit and centered around lush and textured production.

Michaux’s sophomore album Amour Colére (which translates into English as Love Anger) is slated for a Friday release through Capitane Records. The album continues the Belgian artist’s ongoing collaboration with Morgan Vigilante — and as you may recall, Michaux and Capitane Record have released three singles off the album to rapturous critical applause: “Harvesters,” which was praised by The Line of Best Fit, “Nos Retrouvallies.” a lush and plaintive song that touches upon classic French chanson themes of love, grief, separation and reunion (either in this world or in the afterlife) and “Parrot,” arguably the album’s funkiest song, which sounds as though it drew influence from Fear of Music-era Talking Heads and Afro pop, while discussing the alienation and paralysis many of us feel in the midst of a morally bankrupt, stupid, cruel world that robs people of their humanity and decency.

“Enemies,” Amour Colére’s fourth single is a slinky and brooding New Wave number featuring shimmering reverb-drenched guitars, a sinuous bass line and a taut four-on-the four that subtly nods at Tom Petty’s “Refugee” but centered around a familiar (and age-old) economic and career-based anxiety and frustration. Much of our existence is deterministic and influenced by larger (and highly indifferent) forces — and the song points that out with a steely-eyed clarity. Interestingly, “Enemies” is influenced by the work of French sociologist Bernard Friot, a historian of social security and advocate for lifetime salary with the song finding Michaux reflecting upon Friot’s work and his own financial situation.

“When you turn 30 and have a child, being broke becomes less and less fun,” Michaux says in press notes. “At the time of writing, we were looking for a place to live and the violence of the housing market took me by the throat. In writing about slavery, Marguerite Yourcenar said that a regime is often most excessive in its cruelty and injustice in its last days. I sometimes get the impression that it’s the same kind of historical scenario we are currently experiencing with the slow agony of capitalism.”

Directed by Thomas de Hemptinne and Nicolas Michaux, the recently released video for “Enemies” is brooding, surreal and impressionistic visual that captures the anxious uncertainty, the loneliness and fear of both the musicians, who worked together during pandemic-related lockdowns and simultaneously that of the viewer.

Initially making a name for herself with her critically applauded recording project Völuspa, the Bay Area-raised, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kristen Knick is stepping out and away from her alter ego to release material under her known name. But there’s one thing that remains consistent: Knick employs a colorful sound palette to bring her lyrical themes of lucid dreams, forgotten nightmares, past mistakes and future possibilities to vivid life.

Some of Knick’s earliest influences include Kate Bush, Brian Eno, Neil Young and Stevie Nicks — but after discovering punk rock through her high school sweetheart, the Bay Area raised, Brooklyn-based artist found herself inflated with life; experiencing good music, love, drink and drugs. After several years, countless lovers, jobs and travels that resulted in a breakdown, Knick found herself in New York. Realizing that alcohol and drugs had been a detriment to her creativity, she got sober, and started writing and putting her experiences and emotions into very personal songs.

Knick’s latest album Close Your Eyes is slated for a release this fall through Swedish tastemaker label Icons Creating Evil Art, and the album’s latest single “Life’s a Placebo” is centered around a hazy, sepia-toned nostalgic production — tinny stuttering beats, woozy and shimmering ambient synths paired with Knick’s warmly inviting vocals. While evoking some long ago summer of carousel rides and unconcerned, childhood day dreaming, the song explores loos in its entirely, as the Brooklyn-based artist explains. “The song is sort of an epiphany, that life is a placebo,” Knick says. “Life is as we see it. I could choose to grieve over this loss and wallow in self-pity, or I could move on and make shit happen.” 

“The recording process was with Eric Hoegemeyer and his chihuahua, Hoover, in his Astoria Queens apartment,” the Bay Area raised, Brooklyn-based artist adds. “I wrote the song when I first got sober in 2014 and when I brought it to him last year, he added some sweet synth tones and effects that gave it more dynamic than the bratty punk version I had recorded on my phone.”