New Video: JOVM Mainstays Atmosphere Return with a Symbolic and Cinematic Visual for “Lovely”

I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded and commercially successful Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act and JOVM mainstays Atmosphere over the course of this site’s nine-plus year history. Formed over 20 years ago, the Minneapolis-based JOVM mainstays have a long-held reputation for pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop should sound like and concern itself with thematically — especially as its founding duo Slug and Ant have inched towards middle age with adult responsibilities and concerns. 

Last year’s Mi Vida Local thematically found the pair grappling with their own mortality — and the anxiety and fear of one’s powerlessness in a mad and dangerous world. The duo’s seventh and latest album Whenever was suddenly released last week, and the album thematically finds the duo continuing to struggle with their morality and frailties, figuring out what it means to grow up and grow old gracefully within hip-hop, the need to balance protecting your energies and soul without glowering and bitter cynicism. 

“Bde Maka Ska,” the first single off Whenever sonically continues in the vein of Mi Vida Local with the track being centered around a bluesy and dusty production featuring twinkling keys, fuzzy, wah wah pedaled guitar, a gospel choir-like backing vocal — with its narrator taking stock of his own life and decisions, while yearning for peace and serenity in a mad, mad, mad world. But at its core is the profound realization that in life sometime we have to let go and stop pushing, and accept that the universe will let things happen at its own pace. 

“Lovely,” Whenever’s second and latest single pairs an anxious and skittering percussion with a dusty and bluesy production with arpeggiated synths and organs, looping blasts of bluesy guitar and big boom bap beats and Nikki Jean’s soulful hook while Slug rhymes about stumbling upon a profound love but while feeling the swooning sense of hope it brings, his narrator also confronts his own insecurities, frailties — but also hard-earned (and rarely wanted) cynicism of life experience. 

The recently released video for “Lovely” continues the duo’s ongoing collaboration with director and filmmaker Tomas Askamit. And much like its immediate predecessor, the video is cinematically and symbolic: we see a coffin floating into a church, Slug being fitted for a black suit, heartbroken and grieving friends and family at a funeral, Nikki Jean dressed in white as a fellow mourner. The video ends with a grave being dug and Nikki Jean throwing a handful of dirt over the coffin. Ultimately,  the video is a commentary on life, death, loss and grief. 

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Casey Meehan is a Chicago area mainstay best known for his work with Chicago Mixtape, a weekly curated playlist of the best music shows happening in and around the Chicagoland area. Interestingly, his latest music project Sy Somebody can trace its origins to a conversation he had with Father John Misty‘s David Vandervelde. Vandervelde introduced Meehan to his bandmate Eli Thompson and the trio began discussing the possibility of making a record together.

As the story goes, eventually Meehan began sending demos to Vandervelde. Those demos thematically contemplating the mysterious and complexities of the human and cosmic condition — but written as though an omnipotent, mysterious person was in control, which inspired him to name the project Sy Somebody. Meehan, Vandervelde and Thompson then recruited an All-Star cast of collaborators that included Jeremy Enigk‘s and The Intelligence‘s Kaanan Tupper, Richard Swift’s The Weepies’, Everest’s and Pedro The Lion’s Frank Lenz, Bobby Bare Jr.’s Mr. Jimmy, The O’My’s, and Chance the Rapper‘s Maceo Haymes and Chance’s Social Experiment’s and Santah‘s Vivian McConnel to flesh out the material that eventually coalesced into the project’s full-length debut Life is Cruel, Let’s Be Friends, which is slated for a January 31, 2019 release.

The album’s latest single “Zookeeper” is a grunge-inspired track, centered around fuzzy power chords, a steady propulsive rhythm and Meehan’s world weary delivery rooted in the frustrations and pressures of daily adult life. And while recalling Pavement and others, it’s basically a desperate and exhausted trip to the bar to drink and forget — at least for a little while. (We’ve all been there!)

Contemplating the mysteries and complexities of the human and cosmic condition prompted Casey to start writing the album as if a mystery person was in control, inspiring him to pick up the moniker of Sy Somebody. On the creative process he says, “I live for moments of brief insanity… It’s surprisingly cathartic to pop open the hood of the psyche and poke around at your primal emotions. I’ve always been fascinated at how closely linked extremely good feelings are to extremely bad feelings. On this album, I wanted to capture the feeling of when an acid trip turns from euphoria to paranoid freak-out.” His debut album, Life Is Cruel, Let’s Be Friends… is out in January.

Meehan, Vandervelde and Thompson then recruited an All-Star cast of collaborators that included Jeremy Enigk’s and The Intelligence’s Kaanan Tupper, Richard Swift’s The Weepies’, Everest’s and Pedro The Lion’s Frank Lenz, Bobby Bare Jr.’s Mr. Jimmy, The O’My’s, and Chance the Rapper’s Maceo Haymes and Chance’s Social Experiment’s and Santah’s Vivian McConnel to flesh out the material

Sy Somebody began with a conversation between Casey Meehan and David Vandervelde backstage at Lollapalooza. Dave had just finished performing with Father John Misty, and introduced Casey to Eli Thomson and they slowly began discussing making a record together. Eventually, Casey began floating demos to Dave. As they recorded Casey flushed out Sy’s sound saying, “The demos were the canvas, everyone painted over them, then I painted over that and then we peeled back a bunch of layers in certain spots and painted a little more. Then, slowly this 3 dimensional thing started to appear, like one of those magic eye posters.”

Contemplating the mysteries and complexities of the human and cosmic condition prompted Casey to start writing the album as if a mystery person was in control, inspiring him to pick up the moniker of Sy Somebody. On the creative process he says, “I live for moments of brief insanity… It’s surprisingly cathartic to pop open the hood of the psyche and poke around at your primal emotions. I’ve always been fascinated at how closely linked extremely good feelings are to extremely bad feelings. On this album, I wanted to capture the feeling of when an acid trip turns from euphoria to paranoid freak-out.” His debut album, Life Is Cruel, Let’s Be Friends… is out in January.

Chicago mainstay Sy Somebody, also known as Casey Meehan (the force behind Chicago Mixtape) has announced an album of his own, Life Is Cruel, Let’s Be Friends… to be released in January 31st,  2020. With years in the scene, Casey was able to bring together an impressive range of musicians including David Vandervelde (Father John Misty), Eli Thomson (Father John Misty, Everest), Kaanan Tupper (Jeremy Enigk, The Intelligence), Frank Lenz (Richard Swift, The Weepies, Everest, Pedro The Lion), Mr. Jimmy (Bobby Bare Jr.), Maceo Haymes (The O’My’s, Chance the Rapper) and Vivian McConnel (Chance’s Social Experiment, Santah) to support this project packed with shimmering songs about how weird it is to be a human. The latest release, Zookeeper,  is a plea for escape from a tiring week, which is felt not only through the lyrics but the fuzzy guitar and steady rhythm. It’s an exhausted trip to the bar to get away from the pressures of life.

Listen / Share: “Zookeeper

Sy Somebody began with a conversation between Casey Meehan and David Vandervelde backstage at Lollapalooza. Dave had just finished performing with Father John Misty, and introduced Casey to Eli Thomson and they slowly began discussing making a record together. Eventually, Casey began floating demos to Dave. As they recorded Casey flushed out Sy’s sound saying, “The demos were the canvas, everyone painted over them, then I painted over that and then we peeled back a bunch of layers in certain spots and painted a little more. Then, slowly this 3 dimensional thing started to appear, like one of those magic eye posters.”

Contemplating the mysteries and complexities of the human and cosmic condition prompted Casey to start writing the album as if a mystery person was in control, inspiring him to pick up the moniker of Sy Somebody. On the creative process he says, “I live for moments of brief insanity… It’s surprisingly cathartic to pop open the hood of the psyche and poke around at your primal emotions. I’ve always been fascinated at how closely linked extremely good feelings are to extremely bad feelings. On this album, I wanted to capture the feeling of when an acid trip turns from euphoria to paranoid freak-out.” His debut album, Life Is Cruel, Let’s Be Friends… is out in January.

Lyric Video: Alex Iva Teams Up with Los Angeles-based Vocalist Dominic on the Radio-Friendly, Club Banger “Give Me More”

Born Oleskandr Ivanov in Kherson Ukraine, the rapidly rising Barcelona-based electronic music producer and electronic music artist Alex Iva emerged into international indie electro pop scene last year with the release of his first two singles “Let’s Try” and “Tell Me” through his own label Iva Music. 

Building upon a growing profile, which has included support from DJs and other electronic music artists and producers, radio airplay and countless music blogs, as well as placement on over 1,000 Spotify Playlists, the Kherson-born, Barcelona-based artist’s latest single “Give Me More” is a radio friendly club-banger featuring Los Angeles-based vocalist Dominic, who has had his music appear on The Big Bang Theory. Centered around shimmering arpeggiated synths, wobbling low end, stuttering beats, Dominic’s plaintive vocals and an infectious hook — and while clearly dance floor friendly, the song manages to reveal a pop-leaning craftsmanship. 

 

LutchamaK is a somewhat mysterious yet emerging French electronic music artist and producer, who manages a growing music career with a full-time career as an IT guy for a large French corporation. Like countless others, the emerging French artist grew up as an avid and passionate music fan, who listened to — and loved — an eclectic array of music, including hip-hop, dub, classical, rock, techno and others.

The mysterious French artist’s work is deeply influenced by techno — but while nodding at other styles and genres. Interestingly enough, LutchamaK managed to create his first two EPs, which featured material that effortlessly meshed techno, house and EDM during lunch breaks house. “9th K’s Forest,” the latest single off his Goth in the Shell EP is slickly produced propulsive house-leaning techno track centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, arpeggiated synths — and while recalling JOVM mainstay Boys Noize and Octo Octa, but with a self-assured swagger.

 

 

New Video: Emerging French Producer Bulletone Releases a Trippy Visual for Swaggering “Endless Love”

Bulletone is an emerging, Argenteuil, France-born DJ, producer, beatmaker and artist, who grew up listening to and being inspired by American hip-hop and R&B — in particular, artists like Dr. Dre, Pharrell Williams and Jay-Z. Interestingly,  the French-born producer, beatmaker and artist can trace the origins of his musical career when he bought his first MIDI keyboard with FL studio software five years ago.

Shortly after he purchased his first MIDI keyboard, Bulletone began making beats for his rapper and vocalist friends, which lead him to recording material in a professional recording studio. While meeting artists across an increasingly diverse range of genres and styles, the emerging French DJ, producer, beatmaker and artist began to explore different styles, genres and sounds — including hip-hop, pop and electronica among others. In fact, he proudly boasts having broad and eclectic tastes: while his sound generally leans towards trap, future beat and electronic music, he also cites Kaytranada, Phase, Jarreau Vandal, Daft Punk, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, Timbaland, Mike Will Made It and 808 Mafia.  

Bulletone then went on to take a course on creative media education at the S.A.E. Institute, where he learned to be a technical sound engineer and made important connections to further his career. Since 2017, he has also managed to establish himself as a DJ, spinning in French clubs like the Recylclerie, Na_m3k, The 45 Tours and others. But he began to make a name for himself with the release of his debut EP, last year’s Interference, which is available on the major streaming services. 

Interestingly, Bulletone’s latest single, the swaggering “Endless Love” the title track off his latest effort Endless Love EP is centered around twinkling and shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking 808-like beats and a looped sample of thunder. But what makes the track — and in turn, the emerging French artist — compelling is the fact that track seamlessly and effortlessly meshes elements of hip-hop, trap, footwork, R&B while subtly paying homage to legendary beatmakers and producers like J. Dilla, Flying Lotus, Kaytranada and others. 

The accompanying video for “Endless Love” is a hallucinogenic-fueled fever dream featuring a young couple, who are madly in love. And in many ways, the video manages to evoke the wild feelings and thoughts of young, passionate and foolish love. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Lake Jons Releases a Cinematic and Brooding Meditation on Life

Since their formation in 2014, the Helsinki, Finland-based JOVM mainstays Lake Jons, comprised of Jooel Jons and Mikko Pennanen have managed to walk a fine line between production tandem and full-fledged band, while crafting delicate, electro folk-leaning dream pop. Last year’s self-titled debut, which was released to praise across Scandinavia and elsewhere was written and recorded in an isolated cabin, deep within the Finnish forest. Thematically and sonically, their self-titled debut found the duo aiming to examine, capture, and represent the tenuous connection that still exists between the natural world and the human world.

Lake Jons’ sophomore album The Coast was released earlier this year, and the album finds the duo further reconnecting with their roots and delving even deeper into the Towars Forest. The album thematically is the duo’s attempting to dismantle life, space and time; but sonically, the Finnish JOVM mainstays radically reinventing their sound: the material is generally centered around rough instrumental parts, then layered with harmony-driven toplines, with the songs seemingly assembling themselves in seamless fashion. 

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written about three of the album’s previously released singles — “It’s Too Bright,” “Simone,” and “Human.” All of these tracks have managed to further cemented the duo’s unusual and forward-thinking approach to contemporary pop. “It’s Too Bright,” which was built around a sparse production  of twinkling keys, shimmering hi-hats, boom-bap like beats, a driving bass line and Jooel Jons’ plaintive falsetto was a seamless meshing of elements of R&B, electro pop,  jazz, folk and experimental pop while retaining the infectious hooks that won them attention across the blogosphere. “Simone” was centered around a hazy and dusty production of strummed guitar,  fluttering and arpeggiated synths, wobbling low end and stuttering beats. And while continuing  to be a perfect vehicle for Jons’ plaintive falsetto, the song was imbued with a sense of loss, longing and the acknowledgement that there are some connections that seem to transcend physical space and time itself. “Human” was a haunting and lingering fever dream, that found the JOVM mainstays walking a fine line between careful and deliberate craft and stream of consciousness-like improvisation. 

The album’s fourth and final single is the hushed  and haunting “Circle.” Centered around a sparse arrangement of strummed guitar, thumping beats, atmospheric electronics and Jons’ achingly tender vocals. But unlike its predecessors, the song is a brooding mediation on existence and its delicacy. “Circle is such a complete shape,” Jons says in press notes. “The essence of existence is so full of intricacies, both delicate and powerful, and the circle of life is among them. It’s something that is maintained, even through humanity’s efforts to break everything. The song tells a small story about a boy, who lived by the waters of Lake Jons, and one day decided to leave the words. It’s a letter to a  dear friend: life is a mysterious circle.” 

“Directed by Raimo Saba, the video does a great job of portraying the theme of the song,” Jons says of the recently released video for “Circle.” “I have my uncle Pekka, who is an actor, featured which makes this video a little more personal to me. Seeing the finished version for the first time, it almost allowed me to gain a new perspective and experience of the song. Raimo has managed to capture and convey the emotions interwoven in the song.”

The video’s director Raimo Saba adds,  “Thinking about freedom in itself brings with it subconscious limitations. I think the concept of freedom is more valuable than one can even understand. It is not just an external concept. It is bound to be a state of yourself and where outside factors have no effect on your state of being.”

New Audio: Rapidly Rising Marcus King Releases a 70s Motown-like Bit of Soul

Over the past couple of months, I’ve managed to write a bit about the rapidly rising Greenville, SC-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, Marcus King. The Greenville-born, Nashville-based King is a fourth generation musician, who has followed in his family’s footsteps by becoming a musician and singer/songwriter of note himself. 

Playing professionally since he was 11, King was discovered after a video of him performing at Norman’s Rare Guitars went viral. Now 23, King  has been performing for the past 15 years, establishing himself as a  world class guitarist, vocalist and highly sought-after session player.

Since 2015, King has been relentlessly touring with his backing band The Marcus King Band — Jack Ryan (drums), Stephen Campbell (bass), Justin Johnson (trumpet, trombone) and Dean Mitchell (sax, still guitar) — playing 140 dates live shows over the course of the past year. Adding to a breakthrough year, King and his backing band have played on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, made his debut at The Grand Ole Opry — and he recently opened for Chris Stapleton during his last US arena tour, playing in front of 17,000 people every night.

Building upon a rapidly rising profile, King’s highly-anticipated, Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut El Dorado is slated for a January 17, 2020 release through Fantasy Recordings. King’s full-length debut continues on the success of his first collaboration with Auerbach, “How Long,” with the album being co-written with the acclaimed singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer over three days at his Easy Eye Sound studio — and reportedly, the album is a contemporary sonic exploration of classic rock, blues, southern R&B and country soul.

“Marcus is known by so many as a phenom guitar player, and rightfully so,” Dan Auerbach says of his time working with Marcus King. “He’s regularly the best player in the room, hands down. I was equally blown away by the way he can sing — so effortless, so soulful, straight to the heart. He’s a naturally gifted writer too, which was clear right away. Everything for him is so innate — that’s why he can always go right to the heart of a song and connect in a deeper way. He’s really one of a king and I’m proud I got to work alongside him on this record.”

“Wildflowers and Wine,” El Dorado‘s second single was a slow-burning track that was one-part Muscle Shoals soul, one part Southern rock, one-part R&B and one-part classic blues centered around a lush arrangement of twinkling keys, a soulful backing vocal section and a sinuous bass pair line paired with King’s vocals. And while being clearly indebted to 70s AM radio, the song manages to be a carefully crafted and self-assured bit of soulful pop, which manages to belie King’s relative youth while being a perfect vehicle for a his blues-tinged guitar work and his exceptional and effortlessly soulful vocals. “Say You Will,” the album’s third single is a slickly produced, arena rock friendly blues number with an enormous hook, which immediately brought Slowhand-era Eric Clapton and Texas Flood-era Stevie Ray Vaughan to mind. 

“One Day She’s Here” the fourth and latest single off the Greenville-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s highly anticipated full-length debut, is a gorgeous and sultry song that sounds deeply indebted to Curtis Mayfield and 70s Motown, complete with a soaring string arrangement, layers of propulsive percussion, shimmering Rhodes piano and guitar,  an enormous hook and King’s effortlessly soulful vocals. Much like its predecessors, El Dorado’s latest single continues a run of remarkably self-assured and crafted material that belie its creators relative youth. But perhaps more important, the album’s material reveals a budding superstar in the making. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Crywolf Releases a Haunting and Eerie Visual for “Adah [Fawn]”

If you’ve been frequenting this site for the past couple of years of its nine-plus year history, you’ve probably come across a post featuring  the Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumetnalist and producer Justin Taylor Phillips — and his acclaimed solo recording project Crywolf. 

Phillips’ latest Crywolf album widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. II] was released earlier this year to critical praise from the likes of The FADER, Alternative Press and idobi Radio. widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. II] finds the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer further cementing his growing reputation for pushing boundaries in every aspect of his art. The album’s latest single “Adah [Fawn]” is a haunting and gorgeous track, centered around a sparse arrangement featuring strummed acoustic guitar, Philips’ achingly plaintive and tender vocals. 

The recently released video for “Adah [Fawn]” continues the “WIDOW” short film series. The three part video series is built around a central narrative, the series’ videos have been released out of order, perhaps a way to reflect the chaotic, turbulent nature of the short film’s world — and they do so while also being surreal and gorgeously shot visual compliments to their accompanying song. “The series tells the story of a man’s descent into madness,” Phillips writes in a statement. “He loses his mind and, thinking he is being directed by an angelic force, ends up killing the very thing he loves most. When he realizes what he has done, he’s devastated and jumps off a pier to escape. It turns out [in the third video that has yet to be released] that he can’t die, and he is still haunted by the memory of his lover.”

“It’s a metaphor for my own struggle with mental illness, and the tumultuous realities of life as an artist,” Phillips continues. “Pursuing these ethereal and magnificent concepts is so captivating, but can sometimes drive you to the edge of your sanity, and can cause you to hurt the things you love most… whether that is people around you, or parts of yourself. But, as the third act shows, those things are never really gone. They live on and won’t leave until they are accepted and integrated.”