Stefan Murphy is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and the creative mastermind behind the mostly Berlin, Germany-based New Wave and post-punk-inspired recording project Count Vaseline. Interestingly, Murphy started the project during a creative spell — and after a handful of live shows, Murphy went to the U.S. to write and record his Count Vaseline debut Yo No Soy Marinero, a deeply personal effort that focuses on what may have been one of the more difficult times of his own life — and as a result, the album is kind of a debaucherous romp that celebrates both his trials and tribulations and creativity while in Berlin.

Of course, Murphy’s decision to decision to stay in the US was followed by an earth-shattering Presidential election that still has countless people reeling, and his recently released sophomore effort Cascade thematically focuses on the depressingly cyclical patterns of both world history and world politics and the overall sense of pervasive doom; however, the album’s latest single “Russia” is an account of two lovers desperately trying to break free from the constraints and horrors of the modern world. And while deliberately performed at 117 beats per minute — the same beats per minute as Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean” — the song manages to sound like what would happen if Duran Duran had covered Echo and the Bunnymen’s Bring on the Dancing Horses” but with a young Ian McCulloch taking up vocal duties.

 

 

 

 

New Video: Lucius’ Drummer and Producer Dan Molad Releases a Moody and Dreamy New Single Paired with Dreamy, Fairy Tale-Inspired Visuals

Dan Molad is a Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-intsrumentalist and producer, who’s best known as the long-time drummer and producer for blogosphere darling act Lucius and for his production work with San Fermin, Luke Temple, JD McPherson, Here We Go Magic, Pavo Pavo and others. And with his solo recording project, CHIMNEY Molad not only steps out from behind the dials and the drum kit as singer/songwriter of his own right, but with his self-recorded, self-produced, self-titled full-length debut effort, Molad will further cement his growing reputation for crafting material that possesses dreamy yet hauntingly gorgeous melodies with subtly dark and unsettling undertones as you’d hear on the album’s first single “Walk Don’t Run.” Although mainly about searching for a muse and endlessly chasing after an ultimate pay-off but never quite getting there and a reminder that sometimes you should stop, smell the roses and not taking yourself too seriously, the single, much like the material on the album draws from sobering, personal experience — in particular Molad’s relocation from New York to Los Angeles, relationship strife and the death of his dear friend, Parks And Recreation writer Harris Witless. And as a result, the song feels like a meditation on life and mortality, pleading with the listener that sometimes we need to stop and cherish the small things that matter because they will be gone soon enough.

Directed by Christopher Good, the recently released video for “Walk Don’t Run” is a surreal and feverish dream that draws from fairy tales — in particular Little Red Riding Hood as it follows a perpetually hungry protagonist, who after waking up on the side of the road, to find the skeleton of her companion, encounters some surreal scenery including miners, who are literally mining for hearts of gold. It’s gorgeous yet equally moody.

Live Footage: Preservation Hall Performs “Santiago” with Dave Grohl and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert Band with Jon Baptiste

Allan Jaffe founded Preservation Hall and Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the early 190s with two vital and critical missions: promoting and preservation New Orleans’ traditional jazz sound and culture with the authenticity and devotion it deserved and to ensure that some of New Orleans’ best musicians kept working at a time that jazz had steadily lost popularity. And although the band has gone through several lineup changes throughout its history, the act has proudly continued those missions, recording over 30 critically acclaimed albums, a live album and with a touring scheduling that has had the band collaborating with an incredibly diverse number of renowned and contemporary acts at concerts and festivals across the globe, helping to introduce and re-popularize the New Orleans jazz sound to concertgoers and music fans everywhere.

In the years after Hurricane Katrina devastated one of the world’s great musical cities, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, now lead by Allan Jaffe’s son Ben have continued their mission of promoting and preserving New Orleans’ jazz sound and culture — but with a decidedly modern take. Now, as you may know, Preservation Hall Jazz Band was recently in town to support the release of their second full-length album of original material So It Is with a packed house at Highline Ballroom and an appearance on Late Show with Stephen Colbert where they played the album’s fiery lead single “Santiago” with Jon Baptiste and his Late Show Band — and special guest, Dave Grohl, who was on the show to promote his new book with his mom, From Cradle to Stage.

New Video: Upcoming Scottish Indie Act Releases a Gorgeous and Atmospheric Cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Over You”

Comprised of Mairi Fenella Whittle (vocals) and Jack Boyce (guitar, piano), the Glasgow, Scotland-based indie rock/indie pop duo Fenella can trace their origins to when they were both studying and discovered a mutual love for Elektra Records’ mid-late 1960s releases, which included the work of Nico, The Doors, Love, Tim Buckley, as well as The Velvet Underground, Neil Young’s doom trilogy and jazz. After working and building upon Whittle’s song ideas, the duo made their live debut last year, and with some sporadic shows across their hometown, began to see growing local attention; in fact, the duo played at Glasgow’s King Tuts Wah Wah Hut for the venue’s New Year’s Revolution Festival earlier this year.

Signed to new indie label, Little Tiger Records, run by Riverside Music Business students, under the aegis of lecturer and Creeping Bent Records’ Douglas MacIntyre, the young duo have released a number of singles, including their latest single, an eerily atmospheric and haunting gorgeous, Scott Walker-esque/Mazzy Star-esque cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Over You,” that features Whittle’s aching, torch burning vocals paired with a simple and sparse arrangement of strummed guitar and piano.

Directed by Neil Mckenzie, the video employs a relatively simple concept — a close up of Whittle, as she’s staring directly into the camera, and at us with a pensive yet feral longing and eyes glassy from tears. At one point, we see her wipe tears from her eyes, and it further emphasizes the heartbreak at the core of the song.

So if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its history, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring New York-based, JOVM mainstays and electronic music duo Beacon. Comprised of Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gusset (production), the duo have received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that draws from R&B, house music and electro pop as Mullarney’s aching and yearning falsetto vocals are paired with generally spacious, minimalist productions consisting of chilly, arpeggio synths and wobbling low end.

Last year’s sophomore effort Escapements thematically was about time and the baggage it both creates and brings, and unsurprisingly, the album’s title was inspired by clock mechanics; in fact, escapements are timekeeping regulators specifically designed to transfer the kinetic energy of the clock’s parts at a constant and regular pace. As Mullarney explained in press notes at the time, “I was attracted to this concept because of the entropy it implies. Friction and changes in amplitude over time mean[s] every escapement, no matter how well crafted, will lose its accuracy and effectively slow down time via its own decay.”

Featuring drumming from Tycho‘s Rory O’Connor, the material on Escapements was written, revised, refined and recorded over the course of about nine months at Beacon’s Brooklyn-based home studio and Gary’s Electric and the album revealed that the duo restlessly experimented with their songwriting and production approaches, following wherever their muses and instincts took them, including trying out new studio techniques and recording techniques. And occasionally, they tried things on the fly, which meant that the recordings captured much more of the free-flowing feel and energy of the creative process — while at points being subtly cinematic.

On the heels of a Coachella appearance with Tycho, Mullarney and Gusset released their first single of 2017, “Marion.” At the core of the song is a hammered dulcimer, a percussive, stringed instrument in which the musician strikes the strings with small, hand-held hammers — coincidentally, the hammered dulcimer is an ancestor of the modern piano that sounds a bit like cross between a harp and a piano. The chiming, hammered dulcimer sample ebbs and flows, and occasionally recedes for Mullarney’s achingly tender falsetto vocals to float over the production, which also features stuttering boom-bap beats. And while being subtly warmer than some of their previously released material, their latest single will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting minimalist yet pulling material that possesses a wistful and yearning ache.

 

 

 

 

New Video: Denmark’s Shocking White Return with a Noise Rock-Leaning, New Single Paired with 120 Minute MTV-era Visuals

Late last month, I wrote about the Aarhus, Denmark-based indie rock/noise rock trio Shocking White. Currently comprised of founding member Jan Petersen (guitar, vocals), along with Rune Randlev (bass) and Marco Bøgehøj (drums), the Danish trio have released four albums in which they’ve experimented with their sound, writing energetic post punk, nihilistic No Wave and feral garage rock primarily rooted in noise rock. And although the band was initially founded back in 2009, the Danish trio has started to receive attention both across Denmark and elsewhere across Scandinavia as they’ve played at some of the region’s biggest festivals, including Recession Festival, Pop Revo, Mejlgade for Mangfoldighed and Spot Festival. Adding to a growing international presence, the band has toured Denmark with Norwegian space rock act Kal-El and Canadian avant-garde punk act Alpha Strategy, and 2016’s “Tweet Scientists” 7 inch, which Copenhagen-based label Tigermilk Records released. Along with that, the Danish trio will be included on a forthcoming compilation featuring internationally-based alt rock/indie rock bands.

Ghosting, Shocking White’s fourth studio album was released last month and the album continues their ongoing collaboration with producer Rasmus Bredvig, who along with the members of the band recorded the album in 3 days at Aarhus-based Tapetown Studio. Now, as you may recall, I wrote about the album’s first single, “Into The Sun,” a single that managed to sound as though it drew influence from 80s grunge rock — i.e., Pixies, Sonic Youth and Nirvana — as the Danish trio pairs power chords played through reverb and distortion pedals with a rousingly anthemic hook, a propulsive and chugging rhythm section and a playfully pop-leaning sense of melody while thematically focusing on a profound and palpable fear of death that gives the song an underlying sense of menace and unease. The album’s second and latest single “Far From Bloom,” continues in a similar vein; however, the single also manages to be reminiscent of The Jesus and Mary Chain, A Place to Bury Strangers, but with an anthemic hook.

Bearing an uncanny resemblance to the video for “Into The Sun,” the recently released video for the song features footage shot in color-treated film negatives which create an otherworldly, psychedelic feel to the proceedings while being reminiscent of the thousands of videos I’ve watched during 120 Minutes-era MTV.

 

Formed in 2015 and comprised of Whitaker “Whit” Finberg (guitar, vocals) and Evan Veasey (guitar, vocals), the Ann Arbor, MI-based experimental pop/math rock duo Fallow Land can trace their origins back to a particularly trying period in Whit Fineberg’s life. After relocating to Chicago, the death of a dear friend, the breakup of a previous band and the end of a relationship, Fineberg found himself proverbially speaking on fallow land — and while he may have felt directionless, he also felt more inspired than he had in years. Fineberg spent his free time recording song ideas in his apartment and making frequent visits back home in Ann Arbor to visit family and jam with friends. And as the story goes, Fineberg crossed paths with Evan Veasey, a local musician, who he had heard of and had been familiar with by reputation; but who he hadn’t played with. When they met, Fineberg was impressed by Veasay’s guitar playing — and their unique simpatico as they began to write material pairing off-kilter meter and polyrhythm with conventional song structures to create a sound and songs that are experimental and prog rock-leaning while being accessible.

Caelin Amin (bass, vocals) and Armand Terrell (drums, vocals) join the duo of Fineberg and Veasey for live shows and the band has in a relatively short period of time built up a regional reputation, playing shows in Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland and Toronto and sharing bills with The Bronzed Chorus, Shipley Hollow, All is Well, Amateur Eyes, We Love You and Growing Fins among others. And with the June 30, 2017 release of the duo’s forthcoming Chris Bathgate-produced EP Pinscher, Fineberg and Veasay hope to expand their profile. Interestingly enough, Bathgate, who once shared a bill with a previous band Fineberg had been in, was chosen to helm the controls of the EP because of his keen understanding of songwriting and attention to craft; in fact, as the duo mentions in press notes, after listening to their material, Bathgate helped push the duo and their material to new directions, simply by asking them “What does this song mean to the world?” and “What’s the most important part of the song?”

The EP’s latest single “Faux” will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for an unusual songwriting approach as the band pairs complex and shuffling polyrhythm, a propulsive bass line, shimmering and atmospheric-leaning guitar work and what sounds like either buzzing synths or buzzing feedback with a soaring and anthemic hook. And while possessing a heady intellectualism, the song captures the innermost world of its narrator with an uncanny attention to psychological detail, capturing the narrator’s desire to destroy his ego; but just under the surface is a twinge of heartache.

 

 

 

 

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Dale Nicholls is a Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has spent stints residing in Detroit, MI; Dublin, Ireland; Paris, France; New Zealand and elsewhere. When Nicholls returned to Los Angeles, he ended his previous band and initially started his latest project Sky Chefs as a solo recording project, but has recently expanded into a full-fledged band, featuring members of Cherry Glazerr, The Black Keys, Pageants, Psychic Temple and the backing bands of Fiona Apple, Lou Reed and Chris Cohen.

Last year, was a busy year for Nicholls and his backing band, as Sky Chefs released their full-length debut, three EPs and a single and building upon a growing profile, the project’s Chris Schlarb-produced, sophomore effort Ghosts & Goblins carefully walk the tightrope between sly, winking nature and wry, heart-wrenching confessionals as the material thematically focuses on brokenhearted lovers, embittering relationships, our new, perpetually anxious age, batshit crazy families and family members, designer riot gear and the seemingly comic absurdity of living in Los Angeles. And reportedly, the material may arguably the most straightforward Nicholls has written — the material was mostly written and composed in Dublin and Los Angeles, whereas some of his previously recorded material was written in piecemeal and as patchwork affairs in several different locales.

“Poltergeist,” Ghosts & Goblins’ latest single as Nicholls explains is about “toxic relationships and self-destruction. Framed in a spooky groove, with lots of fun percussion. This was the first tune we tracked for the record. Once we got a take, we drenched everything in reverb and went out for shawarma.” Sonically speaking, the shuffling and strutting “Poltergeist” sounds as though it draws from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’Red Right Hand” and Tim Cohen‘s solo work and his work with Magic Trick, complete with a loose, boozy, improvised vibe, 60s psych rock-inspired organ, a soulful horn line and a propulsive bass line paired with Nicholls’ equally boozy crooning describing a viciously dysfunctional and fucked up relationship fueled by a confusing push and pull, deceit and tortuous, zero sum mind games. And as a result, the song possesses a murky undertone.

 

 

 

 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past four years or so, you’ve likely been made familiar with the Seattle, WA-based JOVM mainstays Shabazz Palaces. Interestingly, the act continues Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler’s long-held reputation for being exceedingly different that goes back to his days as a founding member of  the Grammy-winning Digable Planets, one of the more forward-thinking acts of their time. After Digable Planets broke up, Butler moved back to his hometown, where he met multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire, the son of Dumisani Maraire and formed Shabazz Palaces.

Butler and Maraire quietly released two albums in 2009 — their self-titled debut and Of Light, which caught the attention of renowned indie label Sub Pop Records, who signed the band and released 2011’s Black Up, an effort release to critically applause across the blogosphere and major media outlets for its kaleidoscopic synth and heavy low-end based sound paired with Butler’s witty and incredibly dexterous flow. While continuing to cement Butler’s and Mariare’s reputation for crafting incredibly weird, psychedelic-tinged hip hop paired with Butler’s ridiculously dexterous flow,  2014’s Lese Majesty was a decided change in sonic direction with much of the material possessing an eerie cosmic glow; in fact, the best description I could come up with for the material was along the lines of intergalactic trap music. But along with the decided change of sonic direction, was a bold challenge to contemporary hip-hop artists. As Butler told the folks at NPR during an interview about Lese Majesty, “This endeavor that I pursue, that we all pursue in Shabazz Palaces, make no mistake, this is an attack. We’re trying to show off and really stunt on all other rappers and let them know that this is our style, this is what we do and we’re ready to put it up against anybody else’s stuff.”

Some time has passed since I’ve personally written about Shabazz Palaces; however, Butler spent part of last year on a reunion tour with the members of Digable Planets while Maraire had written and released music with a side project, Chimurenga Renaissance. But the duo managed to find time to write and record their Knife Knights (the production duo of Shabazz Palaces’ Butler and Eric Blood)-produced fifth, full-length effort Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star, which is slated for a July 14, 2017 release through Sub Pop Records. As the members of Shabazz Palaces explain, their forthcoming album is a surreal yet politically-charged concept album that first introduces the listener to and then tells the tale of Quazarz, a sentient being from somewhere else, sent to be an observer and musical emissary, whose mission is to explore and chronicle the things he sees, experiences and thinks — and in some way it seems to echo the cult-classic film The Brother From Another Planet and Alexis De Tocqueville‘s Democracy in America; however, what our otherworldly emissary finds is a bizarre, cutthroat landscape of brutality, conformity, alternative facts, hypocrisy, greed, suffering, selfishness and death masquerading as patriotism and connectivity. And as result, Quazarz finds himself feeling increasingly uncomfortable and out  of place.

Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star‘s first single “Shine A Light” continues the duo’s long-running collaboration with Thadillac, who contribute a lush, dusty, old-school soul-leaning arrangement featuring shimmering strings, a strutting bass line, warm psychedelic guitar blasts, shuffling drum beats, and a retro-futuristic-like hook consisting of distorted, vocoder-filtered vocals while Butler’s narrator describes a hellish, pre-apocalyptic world that feels much like our own; but it’s a world that the song’s narrator can’t fathom — and in some way he’s horrified and confused by everything he sees. I certainly couldn’t blame him.