N0V3L is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based creative collective that operate out of house, where they produce their own music, videos and clothing. Naturally, all of these various elements converge and convulse for the members of the collective to create music that openly challenges the gluttony and ruin wrought by power. The collective’s forthcoming debut EP NOVEL is slated for a February 15, 2019 release through Flemish Eye Records — and from the EP’s first two singles “To Whom It May Concern” and “Natural,” the collective specializes in frenetic, angular and dance floor friendly post-punk centered around group-yelped anti-capitalist mantras.

And while sonically, the act’s sound immediately brings Entertainment!-era Gang of Four to mind, “To Whom It May Concern” is centered around the tense and uneasy recognition of time flying by and that you may have wasted the only valuable resource you have. “Natural,” is centered around a shimmering melody and a propulsive, dance floor groove but with an anxious, uncertain fury.  Interestingly, the act continue a long tradition of acts reminding the listener that the dance floor is the place for dialogue, action and resistance. 

 

 

 

 

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New Video: The Abstract and Psychedelic Sounds of Bill Baird’s “Mosquito”

Bill Baird is a Texas-born, Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, whose lengthy and diverse back catalog touches on folk, ambient music and garage thrash among others. Along with that, he has also been involved in creating immersive audio/visual installations which have appeared in museums, cultural centers and festivals around the world. 

Baird’s latest effort Owl is heavily inspired by Conny Plank and his work with Kraftwerk, Neu! and Cluster  — and while the material finds the Bay Area-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist fusing different musical and conceptual elements together to take the listener on a journey, the album’s title and overall aesthetic is inspired by Baird’s son’s fascination with owls.  

“Mosquito,” Owl‘s latest single is centered around wobbling, ambient synths, a jangling guitar lines, four-on-the-floor drumming, a strutting bass line and laconically delivered vocals to create a song that’s woozily hypnotic — and manages to evoke a mosquito lazily buzzing and drifting about in the breeze.  The recently released video for the song consists of surreal, psychedelic patterns and scenes that further emphasizes the abstractness of the sounds it accompanies. A

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Atmosphere Teams Up with Cashinova The Lioness and deM atLas on Moody and Contemplative “Drown”

I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded and commercially successful Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act Atmosphere over this site’s eight-plus year history — and as you may recall the act initially formed over 20 years ago as a trio featuring Slug, Spawn D and Ant under the name Urban Atmosphere. Interestingly, whether as a trio or a duo, Atmosphere has developed and maintained a long-held reputation for pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop should sound like and concern itself with thematically — especially as the members of the act age, and find themselves inching towards middle age. 

2016’s Fishing Blues continued a string of insightful, soulful and mature material reflecting men, who evolved from tortured hedonists into settled down family men, who have seen and experienced much more than they can put into words. And while setting down in a much-deserved and peaceful bliss of family and art seems ideal in almost every circumstance, the world we currently inhabit has fundamentally changed in a frighteningly uncertain fashion. Certainly, if you’re a sensitive, thoughtful person, you can’t help but be aware that while you may have your own little paradise, hate within a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad world, that sense of paradise won’t (and can’t) last;  that “nothing lasts forever,” as a song says.

Unsurprisingly, Atmosphere’s seventh album Mi Vida Loca thematically finds the pair grappling with their own mortality, and the anxiety and fear that comes with the painful acknowledgment that you’re powerless — and that you can’t possibly protect yourself, let alone your loved ones from the dangers of the world. Although thematically sobering, the album much like the bulk of their creative output is centered around the duo’s deep and abiding friendship. 

Virgo,” Mi Vida Loca‘s first single may arguably be the most intimate and urgent song they’ve ever written and recorded — and just because the song evokes (and focuses on) the anxieties and fears of our moment, it isn’t completely dark and hopeless.  The song proudly and sincerely says that as a man, it’s okay to admit that you’re scared shitless and not know what the fuck to do about anything; that when you’re uncertain and afraid that there are friends and loved ones, and music; small joys and small victories; and sweet and tender moments that we need to cling to and cherish with every fiber of our beings.  Sonically, the song featured a bluesy production centered around strummed guitar, twinkling old-timey keys and eerily buzzing synths that nodded at Everlast’Whitey Ford Sings the Blues but somehow starker. The album’s second single, album opening track “Jerome” continues in a similar vein — centered around a production consisting of a looped sample of boozy and woozy buzzing power chords, rumbling and thumping percussion, brief blasts of twinkling and shimmering synths. Throughout Slug rhymes about the weight of familial history, aging, death, the vapidity and insincerity of social media and a bevy of other things with an incredibly dexterous rhyme scheme but underneath the swaggering self-assuredness of Slug’s delivery is a vulnerability and aching, world weariness. “Graffiti,” found Slug rhyming about the painful slings and arrows of life; the small pleasures of friendship, family and music; the inevitable heartache of lost love and death; that life is ultimately about people coming and going without anyone really knowing why or how — and goddamn it, does it hurt.  And yet, as our ancestors did, we move on somehow, and so will our descendants. We all have the same tale: born, loved, hated, dreamt, longed, lusted, died — and yet almost always alone. Much like its predecessors, the song’s production evokes a deep, religious-like yearning as it was centered around a soaring choral sample, backed by twinkling keys, boom bap beats and a looped, bluesy guitar line.  

The Minneapolis-based duo close out a successful 2018 with the release of “Drown,” one of the few songs of their catalog with features — but it features some equally dope labelmates and tourmates The Lioness and deM atLas trading bars on an eerie yet modern production that evokes anxiety, uncertainty and confusion as its centered around plinking keys, shuffling beats and a soulful hook sung by Cashinova.  Each of the artists offer an unflinching and unguarded look into troubled and dysfunctional relationship and heartache, of loss and the difficulties in moving on with your dignity and sanity intact. 

Directed by Tomas Aksamit, the recently released video is features Slug, Cashinova, The Lioness and deM atLas in a dramatically shot black and white and intimate close ups, to catch the emotion of each artist. 

HERO is an up-and-coming Calgary, Alberta, Canada-born, Montreal, Quebec, Canada-based electronic music producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist. With the release of “Dirty Work” and “The Juice” off his forthcoming Dirty Work EP, the Canadian electronic music artist and producer emerged into prominence both nationally and elsewhere. “Dirty Work” received praise from the likes of MTV Latin AmericaComplexbooooooom tv and others while, “The Juice” was featured in an episode of HBO’s Insecure; in fact, the song was so well received that they actually wrote HERO into the script, with a character referring to him as “the black Daft Punk.” 

Certainly, with “Stay the Night,” the reference to the Canadian producer and artist as “the black Daft Punk” sounds and feels incredibly fitting, as the sensual and retro-futuristic club banger recalls Homework and Discovery-era Daft Punk, as its centered around a propulsive and sensual groove, arpeggiated synths, vocoder-fed vocals and an undeniable, infectious hook. 

 

 

New Video: Introducing the Afro-Caribbean Sounds of Charlotte Adigéry

Charlotte Adigéry is an up-and-coming Belgian-Martiniquais singer/songwriter and her forthcoming David and Stephen Dewaele-produced EP Zandoli is centered around storytelling, her mother’s critical lesson of rhythm’s relationship to musicality, the importance of a sense of humor in a difficult work, and more important, her ancestors musical traditions. 

The EP’s opening track and latest single is the propulsive and trance-inducing “Patenipat,” a track built around thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and a chanted chorus “zandoli pa the ni pat,” a Creole mnemonic that translates into “the gecko didn’t have any legs.” (A zandoli is a commonly found lizard across the Caribbean that’s frequently found climbing the walls of homes across the region.) Interestingly, while based around contemporary electronic music production, the song draws from the Afro-Caribbean tradition, recalling rhythmic drum lines and dance routines  — with the participants moving towards a religious ecstasy.

Directed by Joaquim Bayle, the cinematically shot visuals draw from religious ceremonies with Adigéry and all of the participants driven by the propulsive rhythms of the song. 

Memory Keepers is the Austin, TX-based electro-punk side project of The Sour Notes‘ Jared Boulanger and Amarah Ulghani.  The duo’s latest single is a propulsive, synth and vocoder-led cover of Brian Eno‘s “Uncle Third” that retains the original’s motorik groove — and in many ways, the original feels like pre-Autobahn-era Kraftwerk while the Memory Keepers cover feels like The Man-Machine

 

 

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the acclaimed Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer Charlotte Day Wilson. And as you may recall, Wilson’s musical career started in earnest with a stint as the frontwoman of the equally acclaimed jazz, funk and soul act The Wayo; but with the release of her debut single “After All,” the Canadian singer/songwriter, producer and guitarist quickly emerged as an up-and-coming solo talent within her hometown’s scene, eventually beginning ongoing collaborations with BADBADNOTGOOD and River Tiber.

2016’s CDW featured critically acclaimed singles “Work” “Find You,” and the aforementioned “After All,” and unsurprisingly, the album found Wilson further establishing herself as an artist, who crafted deeply personal songs with an wisdom, insight and honesty that betrayed her relatives youth — paired with sleek, minimalist, electronic production. Interestingly, this past year may arguably be one of biggest years of her career: Stone Woman, Wilson’s sophomore effort is a decided and self-assured change in sonic direction in which Wilson paired her effortlessly soulful vocals with neo-soul, soul and jazz-leaning production in which organic arrangements are meshed with subtle electronic production.  Since its releasee earlier this year, Stone Woman has amassed over 30 million streams across all screaming platforms. Wilson was nominated for a Polaris Music Prize — and the video for “Work” was awarded a Prism Prize for best Canadian music video. Wilson and the video’s directed Fantavious Frtiz used the prize money to create the Work Film Grant, a fund that awarded $10,000 to emerging female and non-binary directors. 

Additionally, Wilson toured with longtime collaborators BADBADNOTGOOD, which included an incredible BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell stop back in August. The acclaimed Canadian artist  ends a big 2018 with two Spotify singles recorded at Toronto’s HOB Studios– “Doubt,” the first single off Stone Woman is a slow-burning and soulful ballad featuring a production that recalls BilalErykah Badu and others; but more important, the song is centered around a heartbreaking emotional honesty in which, the song’s narrator expresses a deep, crippling uncertainty over her own worthiness. The Spotify singles version possesses a “you-were-there-in-the-room” immediacy that gives the song’s an emotional punch. 

The second track is Wilson’s cover Dolly Parton‘s “Here You Come Again” centered around a sparse arrangement featuring the Canadian singer/songwriter, producer and guitarist’s soulful vocals, shimmering guitars, twinkling keys — and although Wilson’s version is a slow-burning and atmospheric take, the track maintains the song’s ache, reminding contemporary listeners of what an under appreciated songwriter Parton is. 

 

 

rum•gold is a Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, who quickly emerged into the local scene with the release of two singles “Where There’s Smoke” and “Cashmere Cage” along with introductory interview on Pigeons and Planes back in June. The up-and-coming local singer/songwriter’s debut EP yaRn is slated for release next year, and to build up further buzz, rum•gold recently released the third and latest single from the EP, “Get Through.” 

Featuring a James Chatburn minimalist yet textured production consisting of a sinuous bass line, a mournful and gorgeous trumpet arrangement (played by the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter)and thumping boom bap-like beats, “Get Through” is centered by rum•gold’s achingly tender and soulful falsetto.  Sonically speaking, the song (to my ears, at least) recalls Maxwell and Moses Sumney, complete with a deeply intimate, emotional honesty and vulnerability.  

As rum•gold says about the song in press notes, “‘Get Through’ is a self revelation. Its about finding that vice to get through a hard place, while also understanding that you wouldn’t be who you are today without going through said hardship. Its about learning to understand that contradiction is natural and if allowed can be incredibly freeing.”