Comprised of Ottilia Kjulsten and David Sugar, Girl Crush is an up-and-coming Swedish/British duo that have a special interest in lost youth, heartbreak and a future never arrived. The duo’s singles “Warm Blooded” and “Past Life” received airplay on Phil Taggart’s BBC Radio 1 show while “Radio Silence,” was named The Guardian‘s Track of the Week — and as a result, each single has amassed over 1 million streams on Spotify.

Fittingly, their latest single “Baby Steps,” which was released on Valentine’s Day is a sultry, Quiet Storm-inspired track about taking a relationship to the next level that’s centered around Kjulsten’s ethereal vocals and a shimmering, atmospheric production that will remind some listeners of JOVM mainstays ACES and others.

 

 

 

 

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With the release of 2014’s full-length debut, Dogging, the Sydney-based punk act Low Life featuring core trio Mitch Tolman, Cristian O’Sullivan and Greg Alfaro quickly received national and international attention — while leaving a nasty mark on the punk landscape. Interestingly, the band’s much-anticipated sophomore effort Downer Edn (read as Downer Edition) is slated for a March 15, 2019 release through Goner Records.

Recorded over a two year period, the acclaimed Aussie punk band’s forthcoming sophomore effort finds the band expanding from a trio to a quintet with the addition of Oily Boys and Orion’s Dizzy Daldal (guitar) and Yuta Matsumura (guitar), with Matsumura rejoining the band to allow Tolman to be a full-time vocalist. Additionally, the material is a decided change in sonic direction for the band — with the material finding the band going for a lush, New Wave-like sound; in fact the album’s first single is the icy and angular “Lust Forevermore.” And while sonically bearing an uncanny resemblance to Joy Division, the song manages an uneasy balance of melancholy, anxious tension, pensiveness and urgency.

 

New Video: The Dream Syndicate Release Lysergic Visuals for J-Dilla Inspired “Black Light”

Currently comprised of founding members Steve Wynn, an accomplished and critically applauded singer/songwriter, guitarist and solo artist and drummer Dennis Duck, along with bassist Mark Walton and guitarist Jason Victor, the Los Angeles-based psych rock act The Dream Syndicate can trace its origins back to the early 80s when Wynn along with fellow founding member Kendra Smith and future True West members Russ Tolman and Gavin Blair played in one of the area’s first new wave bands in the Davis, CA music scene, The Suspects. Wynn also recorded a single with another band, 15 Minutes, which included members of Alternate Learning. 

After returning to his hometown, Wynn spent a brief stint of time rehearsing in Goat Deity with future Wednesday Week members, Kelly and Kristi Callan — and while with Goat Deity, Wynn met Karl Karl Precoda, who had an answered an ad seeking a bassist. The two started a new band with Precoda switching to guitar. Wynn’s college pal and former bandmate Smith and Duck (Mehaffey), who was a member of Pasadena-based act Human Hands joining the band to complete The Dream Syndicate’s initial line up. (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, completely with aggressively long, feedback-filled improvisations. The members of the band 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. Rough Trade Records released their debut’s 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. Smith left the band and joined David Roback in Opal — and she was replaced 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 break up, Wynn and 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 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 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 and solo artist with a reputation or restlessly exploring a variety of different styles — and leading a number of different 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 a festival 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. 

Anti-Records released the band’s fifth full-length album How Did I Find Myself Here in 2017. The album which featured a lineup of Wynn, Walton, Duck and Victor with keyboardist Chris Cacavas was recorded at Montrose Studios — and notably the album’s final track “Kendra’s Dream” featured vocals and lyrics from Kendra Smith.  Building upon the growing attention around the reunited band, the members of The Dream Syndicate recorded three songs, which were included on the 3 x 4 compilation. The compilation also featured new material from The Bangles, The Three O’Clock and Rain Parade with each of the four bands covering songs by the other bands. 

Slated for a May 3, 2019 release through Anti-Records, the John Agnello and The Dream Syndicate co-produced These Times will be the second full-length studio album since the band reunited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their debut and the album’s material is reportedly a subtle yet noticeable departure for the band sonically. “When I was writing the songs for the new album I was pretty obsessed with Donuts by J-Dilla,” lead singer and songwriter 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 also changed up his lyric writing process for the album — instead of the song’s sound being dictated by previously written lyrics, he wrote all the material’s lyrics after the band finished instrumental tracking, so that the lyrics were influenced by the sounds.  

The atmospheric and surrealistic dream Black Light,” is These Times’ first single and the track is built on a looped arpeggiated key and congo sequence, shimmering bursts of guitar, and a motorik groove centered around a propulsive and sinuous bass line and a backing vocal section that sings “aaah” while Wynn’s vocals sing surrealistic and symbolic lyrics about how the night exposes our darkest and deepest inhibitions and fears.  Directed by David Dalglish, the recently released video is an appropriately surrealistic and lysergic fever dream set during a desert night. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Piroshka Releases Politically Charged Visuals for “What’s Next”

Over the past few months, I’ve written quite a bit about the indie rock All-Star act Piroshka. Deriving their name from the Hungarian version of Little Red Riding Hood, the band is comprised of Lush’s Miki Berenyi (vocals, guitar) and Moose’s KJ “Moose” McKillop (guitar), who are married, along with Modern English’s Mick Conroy (bass) and Elastica’s Justin Welch (drums) — and while each member may be known for their highly acclaimed projects, they’ve been long connected within a complex and knotted web: Berenyi and McKillop are considered shoegaze pioneers with a number of applauded and beloved releases before getting married and starting a family; with the release of their breakthrough, full-length debut, 1995’s self-titled debut, Elastica were rising Brit pop stars, and as  result, Berenyi and McKillop were familiar with Welch and his work; Conroy, was a member of Modern English and after that band broke up for a second time, he joined McKillop’s band Moose. Welch joined the reunited Lush in 2015 — and when they needed a bassist for what turned out to be their final show in Manchester, Conroy filled in. 

The Manchester show rehearsals are what laid the foundations for Piroshka — but I need to backtrack a bit: After Chris Acland’s suicide in 1997, his devastated and grieving Lush bandmates felt it was impossible to continue with the band, and the band broke up as a result. Berenyi was so devastated by Acland’s death that she quit music, spending the next 20 years as a working mother. Because of her personal and personal obligations, Berenyi didn’t agree to reunite Lush and tour again until 2015. I should add that Welch was a close friend of Acland’s, making him a logical choice to lovingly fill in.  Interestingly, as the story goes, Welch asked Berenyi if she’d up to doing something new after the final Manchester show. As Berenyi recalled in press notes, up until then she hadn’t made music outside of Lush and solo work never appealed to her. “I need someone else to motivate me, and in this case it was Justin. He sent drum tracks with guitar parts and odd words, so I wrote some vocals and lyrics, which became ‘This Must Be Bedlam’ and ‘Never Enough.’ When Mick added bass, it sounded great. When Moose added guitar and keyboards — I’d never written like that before, it was such good fun.”

“We sounded great!” Welch added in press notes. “Like a proper punk band. Mick brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and livens up the room, and I thought this is the kind of band I want to be in again.” Conroy agreed, adding “I’d seen Lush so many times, it was like playing with old friends. Miki agreed and it was good fun, too. And with Moose available, we thought, ‘let’s all have a bash, see what happens.’”

There are serial more layers to the entangled web of personal, professional and creative connections, Bella Union’s label head Simon Raymonde was among the first people to hear the band’s Brickbat demos and he quickly signed the band to the label. Raymonde’s former Cocteau Twins bandmate Robin Guthrie produced Lush’s debut album. Additionally, Raymonde’s current Lost Horizons bandmate Richie Thomas was a former member of Moose. In any case, Raymonde introduced Piroshka to Lanterns on the Lake‘s Paul Gregory, who mixed all but one track on the album — “What’s Next,” which was mixed by Alan Moulder. Lastly,  Fiona Brice, who was once a Bella Union recording artist, wrote string arrangements while The Higsons and Blockhead‘s Terry Edwards, who played on Lush’s final album played brass.

Now, as you may recall, Brickbat was released earlier this month, and while the album’s title is derived for a slang term for missile, it also manages to symbolically hit upon the fact that the material is a marked departure from each individual bandmembers’ known work — with the focus being on blue, forceful lyrics that tap into the fear, loathing, envy, spite and strife at the heart of our ongoing sociopolitical climate. Unsurprisingly, with some of the band’s members being parents, much of the material was written through the anxious prism of parenthood in a world gone completely mad. Brickbat’s first single “Everlastingly Yours” was centered by a devastating and profound fear — that you can’t possibly predict the evolving dangers of our world, and that you can’t completely protect your loved ones from them either. While built upon a shimmering and anthemic shoegazer-like arrangement featuring soaring synths, a propulsive, angular bass line, four-on-the-floor-like drumming and Berenyi’s aching and ethereal vocals, the song thematically as McKillop explains is “about school shootings and our reaction to almost being almost unable to take our eyes off twenty-four hour news and internet feeds.” As a result, the song taps into deeper sense of powerlessness and helplessness. 

Brickbat’s latest single “What’s Next” continues in its predecessor’s footsteps as it’s centered around the urgency of our sociopolitical moment — with the song’s narrator essentially saying “Wait, hold up. What the fuck, man? Shouldn’t we want better?” And throughout there are references to people hitting the streets to protest, out of fear, concern and outrage.  “‘What’s Next’ started life as a guitar-and-drums demo from Justin that he’d called ‘Protest’ – the drums being inspired by the idea of a protest march. It’s one of the very first songs Piroshka worked on together,” Berenyi explains in press notes. “The lyrics are inspired by the shock and fallout regarding current political upheavals – how this finger-pointing and rage and blame are so damaging, how we need to get back some kind of solidarity if we possibly can because the divisions between us are playing into certain people’s hands. Funnily enough, the song was called Time’s Up when it was first recorded, but that title then got taken so we thought we’d better change it!”

Designed and directed by Bunny Schendler, edited by Jonathan Hodgson and featuring animation by Bunny Schendler, Sofa Umarik and Jonathan Hodgson, the video captures the anxiousness and righteous outrage of our political climate as its centered around political demonstrations, protests and skirmishes in the streets — while stressing that in the Internet age, it’s easy to stir up hatred, infighting and finger pointing. 

New Video: Mexican-Panamanian Singer Songwriter and Multi-instrumentalist Michelle Blades Releases a Topical Post Punk Anthem

Michelle Blades is a Mexican-Panamanian singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, who grew up in a family of salsa musicians — and as a result, a young Blades soaked up notions of her heritage, studio life and production. When Blades was seven, her family fled Panama as a result of the vestiges of violence and unrest left by Manuel Noriega, eventually relocating to Miami, where they all learned English and lived in different recording studios and apartments. 

Ironically, music was all but forbidden at home and many of Blades’ artistic aspirations were halted by the family patriarch until she moved out when she turned 16. She then spent time juggling a number of different jobs including — being a journalist for the local CBS affiliate, producing a biweekly show, Focus on South Florida, selling smoothes, working for MIA Skatepark, and pursuing a passion for film and video by producing skate videos for her website 2TEN AM Productions. Interestingly, this love of film would wind up being important for her aspirations and her career, as it paved the way for her to direct and produce music videos for several artists. 

After buying a ukulele with her first paycheck, Blades relocated to Arizona, where she immersed herself in Phoenix’s and Tempe’s DIY scenes, learning guitar, drums, synths and bass, eventually recording and releases EPs under her own name and with the noise punk trio North Dakota. Along the way, Camaraderie Limited Records, a small Paris-based label invited Blades to go on a month-long tour of house shows and while discovering Europe for the first time, she also made friends, who would change her life. As the story goes, during her third tour of France, Blades befriended the team at Midnight Special Records — and it prompted a move to Paris, where she created the bulk of her work to date, collaborating with the label and artists in a familial sort of collective of like-minded souls. 

Since relocating to Paris, Blades has been rather prolific as she has released 2015’s Ataraxia, 2016’s Polylust EP, and 2017’s Premature Love Songs EP, written music and arrangements for Laure Briard, played bass in Fishbach, put together a Transatlantic band Michelle Blades y Los Machetes, and directed videos for Clea Vincent’s “Retiens mon desir” and “Chateau Perdu” among a list of others. 

Slated for a March 29, 2019 release, Blades’ forthcoming album Visitor continues the Mexican-Panamanian multi-disciplinary artist, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s ongoing collaboration with Midnight Special Records. The forthcoming album’s third and latest single “Politic” is a remarkably topical song that to my ears sounds like a seamless synthesis of campy B52s-like garage rock/garage pop, angular and neurotic More Songs About Food and Buildings era Talking Heads-like post punk and Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs as the song is centered around arpeggiated synths, looping garage rock guitar lines, a propulsive groove, an infectious hook and lyrics delivered in wild yelps, squeals and howls. At its core, the song expresses an anxious, existential frustration — with everything. The recently released video is centered around live footage of Blades and her backing band performing the song shot with trippy filters and colors and strobe lights galore. 

Live Footage: Up-and-Coming Belgian Post -Punk Act Whispering Sons Perform “Alone” on “Muziek bij een”

Initially formed in 2013, the Brussels, Belgium-based post punk act Whispering Sons, comprised of Fenne Kuppens (vocals), Kobe Linjen (guitar), Sander Hermans (synths), Tuur Vanderborne (bass) and Sander Pelsmaekers (drums) received attention nationally with the release of their debut EP, 2015’S Endless Party through Wool-E-Tapes with a vinyl reissue in March 2016 through Minimal Maximal. The following year, the band won one of their homeland’s most prestigious music competitions Humo’s Rock Rally, which they followed up with two 7 inches, 2016’s “Performance”/”Strange Identities” and  2017’s “White Noise.” 

Building upon a growing profile across Belgium, the Brussels-based post-punk quintet released their full-length debut, the Micha Volders and Bert Vliegen-produced Image through Cleopatra Records here in the States and Smile Records throughout the rest of the world last year. Recorded over a ten day period at Waimes, Belgium’s GAM Studios, the album finds the band attempting to capture their live sound — and more importantly, the sense of anxiety and alienation that each individual bandmember felt when they relocated to Brussels.  Now, as you may recall Image’s second single “Alone” was centered around shimmering and angular guitar lines, a propulsive and sinuous bass line, thunderous and mathematically precise drumming, an arena rock-friendly hook that’s derived from a cryptic bit of dialog spoken during Twin Peaks’ first season and Kuppens’ Ian Curtis-like vocal delivery.  And while naturally drawing some comparisons to the likes of Joy Division, Actors, Deathlist, True Moon, Second Still and others, the song bristles with an icy ominousness. 

Check out this incredible live footage of the up-and-coming Belgian act on Muziek bij een on EEN Belgium’s Dutch language station. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Matthew Stubbs Teams Up with Pat Faherty, Charlie Musselwhite, and Luther Dickinson on a Boogie Blues Number

Last year, I wrote a bit about the Boston-based bandleader, songwriter, composer and guitarist Matthew Stubbs. Stubbs has spent the past 11 years as a member of Charlie Musselwhite’s backing band, and he’s played in the backings bands for a number of other blues legends including of John Hammond, James cotton, Junior Watson and James Harman. Stubbs has also released two solo instrumental albums 2008’s Soulbender released through Vizztone Records and 2010’s Medford and Main released through Chicago, IL-based Blue Bella Records that drew from the  Memphis, TN soul/blues sound. And as you may recall, Stubbs formed his own band The Antiguas, a Duane Eddy, Link Wray, and Booker T meets garage rock, B movie soundtracks and Afrobeat-inspired act that features Just Lopes (organ), Chris Rivelli (drums) and Marc Hickox (bass). 

The Boston-based composer, songwriter and guitarist’s latest musical project GA-20 is a collaboration with his longtime friend Pat Faherty. Formed last year, the project is centered around the duo’s mutual love of traditional blues, R&B, 50s and 60s and their love of the work of Lazy Lester, J.B. Lenoir, Earl Hooker, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush and Junior Wells. Feeling a void in contemporary music, the duo set out to write, record and perform a modernized version of the blues — with the same sort of passion and earnestness on stage and in the studio of the genre’s heyday.

GA-20’s full-length debut is slated for release later this summer through Karma Chief Records, and the album’s latest single is the shuffling, “Naggin’ On My Mind.” Indebted to Earl Hooker and John Lee Hooker, the track features the imitable and explosive harmonica playing of Charlie Musselwhite, and from North Mississippi All Stars’ Luther Dickinson — and is built around a looping 12 bar blues, a slide guitar solo and a stomping rhythm. Simply put, it’s blues the way I love it — a boozy boogie stomp. 

New Video: Dear Boy Releases Gorgeous Black and White Visuals for Shimmering and Moody Single “Semester”

Comprised of four longtime friends Ben Grey (vocals, guitar), Austin Hayman (guitar), Keith Cooper (drums) and Lucy Lawrence (bass), the Los Angeles-based indie rock quartet Dear Boy had a breakthrough 2018 — while crafting music that’s both deeply personal and a celebration of their hometown: local critics and music publications hailed the quartet as one of the best, up-and-coming area bands; they played multiple sold out hometown shows and toured with Rogue Wave, Day Wave and Sunflower Bean.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the members of Dear Boy will be releasing the Strawberry EP on March 1, 2019 through the band’s Easy Hell Records and Burnside/The Orchard and the EP’s first single is the bittersweet and anthemic “Semester.” Centered around shimmering guitar chords, a sinuous bass line, an infectious hook and plaintive vocals, the song focuses on profound loss — and that peculiar moment in the immediate aftermath in which you can’t quite figure out how to feel, what to do next or if you can even move forward. As the band’s Ben Gray says in press notes, “Most of us have whole periods of our lives that are defined by one person… And when that person leaves, returning to your normal life feels strange. Almost as if the world moved on behind your back.”

Directed by Samuel Bayer, the recently released video features black and white footage of the band earnestly performing the song in an art gallery with the camera artfully going in and out of focus. 

Last month, I wrote about the Chicago-based psych rock act Lucille Furs, and as you may recall, the act comprised of Patrick Tsotsos,  Nick Dehmlow, Brendan Peleo- Lazar, Trevor Newton Pritchett and Constantine Hastalis initially formed in the Logan Square section of Chicago and in a relatively short period of time, the band added themselves to a growing list of attention-grabbing indie acts from the Chicagoland area, thanks in part to a sound that borrows liberally from the likes of The Zombies, West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Temples, Love, Diane Coffee, Charles Bradley and others.  Interestingly, since their formation, half the band has relocated to Los Angeles, and as the band mentions, listeners will likely hear the sounds of their new home within some of their work.

Recently pushed back to a March 15, 2019 release through Requiem Pour Un Twister Records, Lucille Furs’ forthcoming sophomore album Another Land was written back in September 2017 and was recorded direct to tape before being completed at Treehouse Records. Rather than being topical, the album’s material is rooted in the surreal and esoteric — perhaps sin a way to aim at the timeless. The bouncy early 60s-inspired stomper “Paint Euphrosyne Blue,” was centered around jangling guitars, twinkling organs and infectious and soaring hook that recalled The Monkees and The Doors. And while a perfect soundtrack for a road trip, the band noted that the song referenced the goddess of mirth, with the song being about the human need to adapt to the point of becoming unoriginal.

Another Land‘s latest single is the shimmering Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles and The TurtlesHappy Together“-like “All Flowers Before Her” and much like its predecessor, the song is centered around a bouncy and buoyant hook and lysergic, 60s vibes — but with a blazing guitar solo and a subtly modern touch.