Author: William Ruben Helms

New Video: Working Out with Pissed Jeans in “The Bar Is Low”

Comprised of Matt Korvette (vocals), Brad Fry (guitar), Randy Huth (bass) and Sean McGuinness (drums), the Allentown, PA-based hardcore punk/noise rock quartet Pissed Jeans can trace their origins to when the members of the band met while attending Allentown’s Nazareth High School. Bonding over their initial desire to create, as the band’s Matt Korvette has explained, “a different kind of punk focused on dead-ended carnal cravings, sexual depression . . .” and to “bludgeon the listener with dull, monotonous, droning rock music that just sucks the energy of out, the musical equivalent of watching a toilet flush.” And over the course of their 13 years together as a band, they’ve released several 7 inches and four, full-length studio albums, all which have cemented their reputation for crafting a sound that’s a sludgy, furious, and punishing cretinous, troglodyte stomp that subtly nods at The Stooges, The Ramones and 80s hardcore punk and post-hardcore bands — while evoking the deep primal urges of our reptilian sub-brains.

With the band’s recently released fifth, full-length album Why Love Now, the Allentown, PA-based band focuses on the mundane comforts and discomforts of modern life — from fetish websites to office supply deliveries; to the emptiness, confusion, dissatisfaction and convoluted nature of modern relationships and our contemporary world of hypocrisy and bullshit. As Korvette explains in press notes on the new album, “Rock bands can retreat to the safety of what rock bands usually sing about. So 60 years from now, when no one has a telephone, bands will be writing songs like, ‘I’m waiting for her to call me on my telephone.’ Kids are going to be like, ‘Grandpa, tell me, what was that?’ I’d rather not shy away from talking about the Internet or interactions in 2016.”

Why Love Now’s incendiary and furious first single “The Bar Is Low” will further cement the band’s reputation for crating sludgy and bludgeoning cretinous trogolydte stomp-like anthems in which Korvette’s guttural, Lemmy Kilmister-like growling is paired with with pummeling drumming, a throbbing and insistent bass line, and blistering guitar chords to evoke a knuckle dragging, slack-jawed Neanderthal on the hunt. According to Korvette, the song is “about how every guy seems to be revealing themselves as a shithead. It seems like every guy is getting outed,” Korvette continues, “across every board of entertainment and politics and music. There’s no guy that isn’t a total creep. You’re like, ‘No, he’s just a dude that hits on drunk girls and has sex with them when they’re asleep.’ Cool, he’s just an average shithead.” Throughout the song, Korvette and company point out that stereotypical concepts of straight male, masculinity is defeating, empty, and clownish.

Directed by Joe Stakun, the recently released video follows the members of the band at the gym; but they don’t know how to properly use any of the equipment. And while there, the band begins an absurd and ridiculous competition with other gym goers that ends up with a hilarious and horrifying conclusion.

Best known as a member of renowned Swedish, electro pop acts Djustin, Club 8 and Acid House Kings and as the head of Stockholm, Sweden-based electro pop label Labrador Records, Johan Angergård has released two full-length solo albums under the moniker The Legends — 2009’s noise pop-leaning self-titled debut and 2015’s It’s Love, which featured lead single “Keep Him.” Interestingly, last year was a prolific and very busy year for Angergård as Djustin and Club 8 released albums — and he released two singles, “Cocaine” feat. Maria Usbeck, “Summer In The City (Living Is For Somebody Else)” and a cover of The Chainsmokers smash-hit “Roses” feat. Rozes which not only reflect a decided change in sonic direction for the Stockholm-based label head, producer and electronic music artist but are also marked the first three singles off his third, full-length effort as The Legends, Nightshift,  and with those early singles, Angergård  has developed a decidedly swaggering, neon colored, retro-futuristic sound and aesthetic that channels early 80s Giorgio Moroder, The Man Machine and Computerworld-era Kraftwerk, classic house and Holy Ghost!’s Crime Cutz as heavily vocoder-processed vocals are paired with tweeter and woofer rocking 808s, processed cowbell and layers of arpeggio synths.

Unsurprisingly, Nightshift‘s fourth and latest single “Cash” continues on a similar vein, complete with a cocksure, infectious hook straight out of 1983 and a boom box meets dance floor friendly sound.  And in some way, the song should serve as a reminder that even in our incredibly difficult sociopolitical times, that sometimes you need to have some mindless fun on the dance floor — and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

 

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Austin, TX-based, self-described “freak parade” octet Sweet Spirit initially began as a solo project of its founding member  and frontperson Sabrina Ellis. And when she started the project, Ellis’ personal and creative lives were falling apart in front of her — Bobby Jealousy, the band she fronted and co-founded with her then-husband had been disintegrating along with her romantic relationship. Ideally, Ellis conceived Sweet Spirit as a way to hone her writing and offer her an ability to perform solo. “It was supposed to be focused on me writing solo, and performing with the guitar,” Ellis said in press notes. But interestingly enough, when the Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began her latest project, she was simultaneously writing and performing as a member of a local garage punk band A Giant Dog — and her A Giant Dog co-founder Andrew Cashen was intrigued by Ellis’ newer material, which drew from soul, country and pop music. Cashen quickly joined as a way to challenge himself creatively and as a musician. “I’m very comfortable doing loud and fast,” Cashen explained in press notes, “so this is uncharted territory for me.”

Ellis and Cashen began writing material at a breakneck pace and then recruited a core backing band of four more members, with whom they rehearsed religiously before playing a series of attention grabbing gigs around town. Within their first six months as a live, performing band they caught the attention of Spoon’s Britt Daniel, who then asked the band to play at Spoon’s “secret” kick off show for the tour to support They Want My Soul, which resulted in both greater local and national attention, including playing 2015’s SXSW — without having an actual album under their belts or applying. Adding to growing attention, the members of Sweet Spirit opened for Spoon for a 12 of Spoon’s Midwest and West Coast dates.

Building on the buzz they were receiving, the band released their full-length debut Cokomo and a two song collaborative effort with Britt Daniel to critical praise from the likes of Stereogum, Consequence of SoundSpin and other media outlets, which lead to two national tours. In between playing shows, the band squeezed in studio time with producer Steve Berlin, best known for his work Los Lobos and Deer Tick to record their forthcoming sophomore full-length effort, St. Mojo, which is slated for an April 7, 2017 release through Nine Mile Records. Interestingly, the album’s first single “The Power” is a relatively recent staple of their live sets and a fan favorite, while revealing a change of songwriting approach and sound — towards the anthemic hooks, power chords and thundering drumming of glam rock; in fact, “The Power” sounds as though it draws from T. Rex‘s “Bang A Gong” but being both a battle cry for the outcasts, rebels and misfits to stand up and be proud of what they are, and feminist anthem that says “defy shitty stereotypes and be the you, you’re always meant to be — no matter what.” Considering our world and sociopolitical climate in which conformity is constantly demanded of you and in which in some cases being yourself can threaten the perceived social mores and sensibilities of judgmental, hypocritical prudes, rebelling and being your truest and only self may be the biggest, most revolutionary act of your life.

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps best known for this time spent in New England-based psych rock band MMOSS, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Doug Tuttle quickly developed a reputation as a solo artist of note with the release of his solo debut, an album that was widely praised for paring his dexterous guitar work and a jittery, love-lorn anxiety with psychedelic-leaning guitar pop. And if you had been frequenting JOVM over the course of 2016, Tuttle’s sophomore effort It Calls On Me, which featured lead single an album track “It Calls On Me” further cemented the New Hampshire-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s reputation for crafting psych-leaning pop but with more of a dreamer and ethereal feel that its predecessor — all while subtly nodding at The Doors‘ “Light My Fire.”

Tuttle’s third full-length effort Peace Potato is slated for a May 5, 2017 through renowned Chicago, IL-based label Trouble In Mind Records and the album’s first single, “Bait The Sun,” is a bubblegum pop meets White Album-era Beatles inspired track in which Tuttle’s dreamy falsetto is paired with shimmering guitar chords, soaring organ chords, a gorgeous horn arrangement, and a breezy, infectious hook — and in some way, the song evokes a lucid dream; but just under the surface, there’s a wistful nostalgia at something that’s just out of reach.

Featuring Superhuman Happiness‘ founding members Stuart Bogie, Eric Biondo, along with Andrea Diaz (a.k.a. Dia Luna); producer and multi-instrumentalist Ian Hersey, a former member of Rubblebucket; and Brain Bisordi (percussion), the Brooklyn-based experimental pop act TOUCH/FEEL can trace its origins to when Superhuman Happiness’ primary trio, had convened to write material for what they thought would be the band’s third full-length effort. And as the trio explains in press notes, while they had already begun to be known for crafting a sound based around bright and mischievous harmonies and driving, funky polyrhythms, the newer material turned out to be the complete inverse, as the material took on much darker melodies and harmonies with slower, heavier rhythms. The lyrics they began writing with that new sound focused on death, destruction and transformation as being a necessary part of the cycle of existence, drawing some thematic influence from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Tarot, re-runs of Unsolved Mysteries and the renewed sense of urgency that countless folks across the country felt after this past Presidential election. The project’s founding trio of Bogie, Biondo and Diaz then enlisted Ian Hersey and Byran Bisordi to join their new project, as the founding trio felt that both Hersey and Bisordi helped bring a rough edge to the proceedings that makes the music feel raw and alive, “and more like chamber music in the sense that we are playing to each other, and striving to engage each other like a string quartet would — without backing tracks or whatever to regulate the music to a clock.”

The project draws from a wild variety of influences including early Peter Gabriel, Sade, the Kronos Quartet, Fela Kuti and Kraftwerk, sonically as you’ll hear on the project’s debut single “ASHES/GOLD,” Diaz’s husky crooning ethereally floats over a slick production featuring processed drums, analog synths, filtered bass guitar, saxophone, flute and trumpet — and while still bearing a resemblance to the sound that won them attention with Superhuman Happiness, the track is a mid tempo track, full of  plaintive, unresolved longing and ambiguous and murky emotions.

From what I understand live, the material is meant to take the audience through 9 specific movements, much like a chamber music group balancing composition and improvisation and incorporating dancers and a degree of performance art. TOUCH/FEEL’s first live set is on March 4, 2017 at National Sawdust — and based on what the band describes, it sound be a spectacle.

 

 

Founded by Marcos Garcia and featuring Chico Mann (guitar, vocals), a former member of renowned Afrobeat act Antibalas; Geoff Mann (drums); Rich Panta (percussion); JP Maramba (bass); and Kris Casto (organ), the Los Angeles, CA-based act Here Lies Man was created specifically as a way to bridge the funky polyrhythms and grooves of Afrobeat with the power chord, riff-based muscle of heavy rock — and the result is novel and modern take on both heavy rock and Afrobeat. As the band’s Garcia explained in press notes  “These repetitive guitar figures that happen in Afrobeat music are pretty close to heavy rock guitar riffs.  It’s based on the clave. It’s the musical algorithm that the rhythms revolve around. That’s what gives it integrity and is part of this musical conversation going on. I knew I wanted it to be psychedelic and heavy, and I wanted to be expanding on a musical tradition than pretending to be creating something new.”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the early part of this year, you may recall that I wrote about “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” the first single off the band’s forthcoming self-titled album, slated for an April 7, 2017 release through RidingEasy Records and to my ears, that single managed to sound as though Black Sabbath had covered “I.T.T. (International Thief Thief) Parts 1 and 2“-era Fela Kuti as towering layers of guitars played through buzzing effects pedals, twinkling and distorted synths,  propulsive polyrhythm and a deep, driving groove are paired with soulful yet ethereal vocals floating over an overall sound that’s funky yet psychedelic, and strangely dance floor and mosh pit friendly.

The self-titled album’s second and latest single “When I Come To” continues along a similar, psychedelic vein as layers of buzzing guitars are paired with propulsive polyrhythms and a driving, forceful groove, shouted vocals and towering organ chords making it a seamless synthesis of hard psych/hard rock/heavy metal with Afrobeat — while sounding as though it could have been released in roughly 1975; but with a modern touch.

Comprised of Gresham Cash (vocals, guitar), Wes Gregory (drummer) and Connor Sabula (bass), the Athens, GA-based indie rock/psych rock trio Oak House formed in 2014 and since their formation they’ve developed a growing reputation for a sound that possesses elements of melodic indie rock, grunge rock, psych rock and prog rock paired with contemplative and visceral lyrics that explore and investigate life’s inevitable conflicts — and for high energy live shows.

The Athens, GA-based trio’s forthcoming sophomore full-length album Hot or Mood was recorded at Chase Park Transduction with Drew Vandenberg, who’s worked with of Montreal, Toro y Moi, Kishi Bashi, Deerhunter and Mothers and the album reportedly represents a cohesive sample of their live sound — a sound that has been described as tumultuous, melodic, raucous infectious and immersive.  The album’s latest single “Cut That Out” is rapidly shifting and angular song with propulsive, rolling drumming, droning synths, buzzing guitar chords and a throbbing bass line that seems to capture the narrator’s rapidly vacillating thoughts and emotions, and with an unshakable anxiousness. As the band’s Gresham Cash explains in press notes ” I wanted to craft a picture of dreams by using frenetic, shifting imagery with a blend of hopeful nostalgia muddied by sadness, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc. Also, I felt that anxiety, depression and suicide are things that not only influence us directly, but also, those around us; hence, the chorus, ‘We’re all responsible for someone else.’ The ending is the feeling of the dream unraveling combined with the feeling that you are living within someone else’s dream: unsettling to say the least. Your only defense against the confusion and discomfort is like swatting at an irksome fly that keeps buzzing in your ears: ‘Cut that out.’”

 

 

 

Currently comprised of founding member Mike Score (keys, vocals), Joe Rodriguez, Michael Brahm and Pando, the British new wave/synth pop quartet A Flock of Seagulls initially formed in 1980 — and with their most famous and longest running lineup featuring Mike Score, his brother Ali Score (drums), Frank Maudsley (bass) and Paul Reynolds (guitar), the quartet had some of their biggest success, including a string of international hit singles including their smash hit “I Ran (So Far Away),” “Space Age Love Song,” and “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You),” all released in 1982 and 1984’s “The More You Live, The More You Love,” an anthemic pop song featuring angular guitars played with tons of reverb and delay pedal, an equally angular yet funky bass line, and a soaring hook.

 

Recently, JOVM mainstay artist Rhythm Scholar remixed A Flock of Seagulls’ 1984 hit single and his remix of the 1984 hit song, as futuristic bleeps and bloops, radio transmissions and feedback, along some distorted vocals during the song’s intro, bridge and coda and bigger, more forceful drum programming while retaining the angular guitar chords with reverb and delay, the equally angular bass line and the soaring hook of the original, essentially giving the song a subtle space-age feel — but space-age from what we would imagine 2017 would look like and feel like in 1984.

 

 

 

Now if you had been frequenting this site over the last few months of 2016, you’d recall that with the release of “Help Yourself” and several other singles the Welsh-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sarah Howells, best known as Bryde quickly exploded into both the British and international scene as she received praise from NylonThe Line of Best Fit and Earmilk and airplay from BBC Radio 6BBC Radio WalesRadio X and Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1 show for a sound that’s been compared to the likes of Jeff BuckleySharon Van EttenBen Howard and London Grammar while thematically focusing on complex, ambivalent and hopelessly entangled relationships.

Howells’ previous single and her JOVM debut,  “Wouldn’t That Make You Feel Good” was a boozy and woozy dirge in which the Welsh-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s aching vocals are paired with bluesy yet shoegazer-leaning power chords reminiscent of  PJ Harvey, in a song that built up into a cathartic and explosive bridge before gently fading out.  Howells’ latest single “Less” continues her successful collaboration with producer Bill Ryder-Jones and it’s a viscerally forceful 90s alt rock-leaning track featuring an alternating quiet, loud, quiet song structure with an anthemic and cathartic hook. And while still channeling PJ Harvey, the song also manages to nod at Liz Phair, Hole and others, complete with an unflinching honesty and vulnerability.

 

New Video: The Playfully Ironic Visuals for Winstons’ “Without You”

Comprised of Lou Nutting (guitar, harmonica, and vocals) and Ben Brock Wilkes (drums, vocals), the up-and-coming Virginia-born, Brooklyn-based indie rock duo Winstons can trace their origins to when the duo met while working at Williamsburg hotspot and music venue, Baby’s All Right. And with the release of 2015’s Turpentine EP and Black Dust, the duo quickly received attention for a soulful, garage-based blues rock that sonically speaking seems to owe a debt to The Black Keys, and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, complete with a visceral and forceful earnestness — and for making a decided point in recording live to tape, with no touch-ups, no overdubs and no-retakes; in other words recording with the old adage, first thought, best thought. “Without You,” the A side of their “Without You”/”Enough” 7 inch will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for blues and garage rock that possesses an unmistakable immediacy — while in this particular song, a visceral
Directed by Buried Muse, the recently released video for “Without You” cuts between footage of the duo performing at Baby’s, hanging around and singing the song and running around all over Brooklyn — to suddenly encounter their dopplegangers looking back at them.