Author: William Ruben Helms

I'm a music blogger, critic and photographer, who has had articles and photos published in Downbeat, Premier Guitar Magazine, Brooklyn Magazine, The New York Press, New York Magazine's Vulture Blog, Ins&Outs Magazine, The Noise Beneath the Apple, Glide Magazine, The Whiskey Dregs Magazine and others. Check out The Joy of Violent Movement Shop: Support on Patreon: : Featured as one of the top photographers in New York City

Glasgow, Scotland-based electronic act Union of Knives — currently founding member Chris Gordon (multi-instrumentalist, vocals, production), Dope Sick Fly’s Baton Rouge, LA-born, Glasgow-based Ant Thomaz (vocals) and The Kills‘ and Ladytron‘s Peter Kelly (drums) — can trace their origins back to 2004: Founding members Chris Gordon and Dave McClean met at Glasgow’s Nice ‘n’ Sleazy Bar, where McClean was working as a sound engineer in the bar’s venue space and Gordon was a bartending, while producing and touring with other bands. Gordon and McLean initially started working together as producers and engineers on material for local acts — and on remixes of the work of Snow Patrol and others.

McLean had met Aberdeen-born, Scotland-based singer/songwriter Craig Grant while doing sound for an acoustic night at Nice ‘n’ Sleazy. After meeting one night at the bar, Gordon and McLean invited Grant to work on some tracks they had started — and the early success of those sessions led to the formation of Union of Knives. With the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, 2006’s Violence and Birdsong quickly established a dark and brooding sound that references goth, industrial, trip hop and warped soul. The album also featured drum work from Peter Kelly, who later would join the band as a full-time member — and album single “Opposite Direction,” which appeared in episodes of The Vampire Diaries and Grey’s Anatomy. Their Atticus Ross co-produced sophomore album was recorded the following year and was shelved due to internal issues with their label.

Since then Gordon has been releasing material with other projects and continuing his production work with artists, Kelly went on to tour with The Kills and Layton while also becoming an acclaimed artist with his work being instrumental in the band’s visual aesthetic. Thomas eventually made his way to Scotland, becoming a member of Dope Sick Fly. Gordon produced some of Thomas’ work and after they realized an irresistible musical connection, Thomas officially joined the band last year. Over the course of last year, the newly constituted trio worked on their sophomore album Endless From The Start, which is slated for release through Three Hands Records later this year, ending the project’s 14 year hiatus.

Endless From The Start reportedly finds the band further establishing their brooding and cinematic sound while revealing material that’s diverse yet uplifting — even in its darkest moments. The Glasgow-based trio have released two singles to critical praise, “Like Butterflies” and “A Tall Tale,” which features Ladytron’s Helen Marnie. And building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the album’s third and latest single “There’s A River” is a brooding and dystopian track centered around ambient synths, thumping industrial beats, reverb-drenched vocals, sampled Eastern-like vocals and a soaring hook. While sonically bearing a resemblance to Massive Attack, the track reveals the’s act carefully sculptured layered production style.

“‘There’s a River’ is a song about going forward with clarity and pushing through the surrounding noise by simplifying the complex,” the band’s Anthony Thomaz says in press notes. The band’s Chris Gordon adds “If you like your dystopian soundscapes with a sprinkling of hope and a dream-like narrative then ‘There’s A River’ is the track for you.”


Kekko is a Singapore-based psych rock/dream pop duo and married couple — multi-instrumentalist Tim Kek and vocalist Cherie Ko. Ko spent her teenaged years covering dream pop and shoegaze classics on YouTube, earning a cult following from fans of Slowdive, Beach House and My Bloody Valentine. But her musical career started in earnest with a stint as the frontperson of Bored Spies, an act that featured members of Seam.

Bored Spies managed to tour the US and Europe, including a notable stop at Primavera Sound Festival. But interestingly according to the band’s Cherie Ko, Kekko marks the first time that she has been able to fully embrace her authentic wholeness. And without self-imposed expectations and ideas of what music — in particular her music — should be, Ko feels the she now sings from a place of “warm transcendence,” where the music fully embodies who she is deep inside. Kekko’s Tim Kek is tasked with with the paradox of expressing the inexpressible through his compositions. Deeply steeped in Eastern philosophy, Kek’s work often “starts with just one night and a quiet contemplation” of how the sound makes him feel. He then builds and crafts melody-driven arrangements from his “heart cave,” a term that Ram Dass describes as “a place beyond all forms and lists, a place for letting go.” The end result is work that attempts to envision and encapsulates the expansiveness and magic of all realms of existence.

The Singaporean duo have exploded out the gate with their debut single “Past Lives,” which received praise from NME, Obscure Sound and Nevermind. The duo’s debut EP Dreaming Life is inspired by an ancient introspective musing by the ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi: Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.” The EP’s material reportedly feels strangely familiar yet simultaneously exciting and surreal.

Dreaming Life‘s second single, the slow-burning and painterly EP title track features Ko’s ethereal and plaintive vocals paired with shimmering synth arpeggios, an almost motorik-like groove and a soaring hook. While sonically, some critics have compared their sound to Tame Impala and Melody’s Echo Chamber, “Dreaming Life” reminds me of Young Narrator in the Breakers-era Pavo Pavo. But as the duo explain, the song offers a reminder to the listener: that being in control of our lives is an illusion and that this futile pursuit can be very stressful and tiresome. The song calls for an different view of our existence — that life actually happens through you and because of you and that all we can do is appreciate each and every moment we’ve got.


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Kennedy One is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer and radio show host, who has developed and honed a cinematic take on electronic music. As a ghostwriter, Kennedy One’s material has received airplay globally, as well as placements on film and television. Interestingly, Kennedy One recently stepped out into the limelight as a slo artist with the release of his full-length debut, last year’s Metropolis.

Thematically, Metropolis‘s material is an introspective journey that tackled the challenges of leaving the past behind in search of something new — most often a path that is often taken alone. Since the release of Metropolis, the rising multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer has been busy: earlier this year, he released the chart topping collaboration with Shelley Harland “Calling You” through Black Hole’s Avanti.

His latest single “Drive” was released through Symphonic today — and the track, which is centered around glistening synth arpeggios, a relentless motorik groove, skittering, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and a chopped up vocal sample reminds me quite bit of a slick synthesis of Between Two Selves-era Octo Octa and Tour de France-era Kraftwerk. And as a result, the song manages to evoke being on the road late night and being hypnotized by the white lines ahead of you.


New Audio: Edmofo’s Club Banging Remix of Emma Peters’ “Fous”

usic scene through her YouTube channel, which initially featured attention-grabbing covers of Lartiste’s “Clandestina” and Lomepal’s “Trop Beau” — with her cover of “Trop Beau” receiving over 40 million streams on Spotify. As a solo artist, Peters quickly established herself a songwriter, who writes heartfelt and lived-in material, based from her own life experiences and with an unvarnished honesty with the release of her debut EP Fous, etc.

don’t be a pleaser and most importantly, don’t lose yourself. Be you at all costs. Interestingly, EP title track “Fous” features the rising French artist’s coquettish yet self-assured vocals over a lush production featuring shimmering Flamenco-styled acoustic guitar paired with skittering, tweeter and woofer beats.

Recently, Edmofo gave “Fous” the remix treatment. While retaining the original’s looping Flamenco-styled acoustic guitar and Peters’ coquettish yet self-assured vocals, Edmofo adds harder-hitting, beats, bursts of twinkling keys, turning an earnest R&B/pop ballad into an urgent, club friendly banger.

INNR CIRCLE is a rising Toronto-based Panamanian-Canadian R&B artist, who has developed and honed a sound that features — and often meshes — elements of New Wave, dream pop and R&B paired with earnest, lived-in songwriting, and the artist’s striking and dynamic vocal register. Over the past year, his material, including “Take” have amassed over 1.6 million streams and have been featured on 70 official DSP playlists.

Earlier this year, the Canadian R&B artist released his debut EP, the six-song BEMUSED + CONFUSED EP. The EP received a feature on Lyrical Lemonade. Building upon a growing profile, the rising Toronto-based artist has remained busy: his latest effort, the standalone single “something called love.” Centered around a shimmering and dance floor friendly, 80s synth pop-inspired production from collaborators TJ Routon and Def Starz paired with INNR CIRCLE’s plaintive and sultry vocals, “something called love” pulsates with a desperate and aching need to be loved — but by that one particular person you want the most.

New Audio: Rising British Artist Pollena Releases an Uplifting and Euphoric Banger

Sarah Brown is a rising London-based singer/songwriter and the creative mastermind behind the rising indie electro pop project Pollena. Professionally, Brown cut first cut her teeth touring across Europe with neo-soul outfit Girlhood. Much like countless artists during pandemic-related lockdowns, Brown has been busy writing and recording material with a varied collection of rising producers.

he Pool.” which garnered support from BBC’s Phil Taggert and Lauren Laverne. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Brown’s sophomore single “Glitter” was released to praise from the press, while receiving radio airplay and placement on several Spotify and Apple Music playlists.

New Audio: Emerging Artist Octavia Releases a Sultry Single

Octavia is a Corsica, France-born, London-based singer/songwriter who since 2017 has developed an a unique take on alternative pop/R&B inspired by the likes of Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Destiny’s Child, Martha Aregeritch, Hiatus Kaiyote and Alice Coltrane among others, paired with lyrics that touch upon being a survivor, the people she has lost, her experiences and being a woman in general — sung in English and in French.

French-born, British-based artist’s latest single “Girlfriend” is centered around a dark and brooding production by Moma, MADD..’s Basile Peter and Lous and the Yakuza’s Raphaël Zeboulon featuring skittering tweeter and woofer rattling beats, wobbling synths paired with Octavia’s sultry vocals to create a song that swoons with desperate and nervous desire: the song tells a story about a woman’s first romantic and sexual encounter with another woman — and the recognition that they’re at the very least bisexual. While thematically perfect for Pride Month, the track also manages to be an honest exploration of feminine sensuality and sexuality.

New Video: Follow Velvet Starlings on a Hallucinogenic Chase

Southern California-based garage rock Velvet Starlings` — wunderkind founding member, singer/songwriter multi-instrumentalist and producer Christian Gisborne, drummer Foster Poling and bassist Hudson Poling — was initially surged as a solo recording project with Gisbourne writing, recording, producing every instrumental part on the project’s 2015 self-titled debut EP, which he released when he was 15. When Gisborne was 17, he released his sophomore EP, 2019’s Love Everything, Love Everyone. Both EPs charted in the top 5 at Speciality Radio and landed at #1 on KROQ’s Locals Only.

Gisborne’s work with Velvet Starlings has also caught the attention of The Kinks’ Dave Davies and acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, who count themselves as fans of the project, as well as the BBC. Adding to a growing profile, Gisborne won Milwaukee Summerfest’s 2019 Emerging Stage competition, which has led to a Summerfest main stage set on September 17, 2021.

Velvet Starlings highly-anticipated full-length debut Technicolour Shakedown is slated for an August 27, 2021 release through Sound x 3 Recordsr/AWAL/The Orchard with a vinyl release in the States by Kitten Robot. Much like his previously released material Gisborne wrote, produced, engineered and mixed Technicolour Shakedown — in the middle of his living room as a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns. Sonically, the album’s material draws influence from a number of various sources including early Jack White, Thee Oh Sees and Arctic Monkeys while revealing Gisborne’s own take on the sound, which he describes as “beach fuzz psych with a big cheeky nod to the UK Invasion.” He adds “in the gloom and doom of COVID, I found myself reminiscing all the time about the days when we would wait in line for hours to see our favorite bands. The songs on the first album reflect everything i felt I was missing out on.” Looking forward to 2021 and beyond, Christian Gisborne adds “I think a Rock ‘n’ Roll renaissance is coming after this crazy year of lock down. We’re hoping that a full front-to-back of Technicolour Shakedown will evoke the feeling you get at a rock ‘n’ roll house party — wherever the listener may find himself.”

After completing the album’s material, Gisborne recruited the Poling Brothers to help flesh out the band’s live sound. The Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer met the Poling Brothers while waiting on line outside of a 2019 Cage The Elephant show. After realizing that they all shared a mutual love of The Who` and Spongebob Squarepants, they found themselves setting up plans to jam at a rehearsal space. Although Gisborne had long hired session and touring musicians, with his friendship with the Poling Brothers growing deeper, he recognized that the next era of the project would feature them as his full-time bandmates.

Technicolour Shakedown’s first single “Back Of The Train” is a swaggering and rousingly anthemic, psych rock stomp centered around fuzzy power chords, thunderous yet murky drums paired with Gisborne’s guttural howls that sounds as though it could have been released in 1964 or 2008 — or yesterday. As Gisborne told Flood Magazine: “The song is about struggling as a musician while taking nothing for granted. ‘Back Of The Train’ centers around a sneaky low note 60s guitar riff and drums so over-compressed it would make The Sonics cringe. I think it’s awful in the best way possible.” He goes on to further describe it as the story “paying dues and making sacrifices while making sure to enjoy the ride along the way.”

Directed by Megan Blanchard, the recently release video for “Back Of The Train” is one part classic Hitchcockian chase meets The French Connection, one part psychedelic trip and one part 120 Minutes MTV-inspired video.

New Video: Low Hummer Releases a Stylish and Sleek Visual for Angular “The People, This Place”

Rising Hull, UK-based post-punk act Low Hummer — Daniel, Aimee, Steph, Jack, John and Joe — can trace their origins through the individual members’ connections to their hometown’s DIY scene. After meeting and bonding over mutual interests, the sextet quickly established a regular rehearsal home at the DIY venue The New Adelphi Club, where they were able to develop and hone their own danceable take on post-punk that thematically focuses on their lives in East Yorkshire, their place in a consumerist world and bad news stories sold as gospel.

September 2019 saw the release of the their debut single “Don’t You Ever Sleep” through Leeds-based label Dance To The Radio. The members of Low Hummer quickly followed that up with their second single “I Choose Live News” that October. Both singles were released to praise from the likes of Clash, Dork, Gigwise and BBC 6 Music Recommends — with airplay on BBC 6. Building upon a rapidly growing national profile their subsequent singles “The Real Thing,” “Picture Bliss” and “Sometimes I Wish (I Was A Different Person) received praise from NME, Gigwise and Under The Radar Magazine and were championed by BBC Radio 1‘s Jack Saunders and Huw Stephens, BBC 6’s Steve Lamacq, Marc Riley, and Tom Robinson.

The Hull-based act’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Modern Tricks For Living is slated for a September release through Dance To The Radio, and the album’s first single “The People, This Place” is an angular post punk anthem that’s danceable yet full of seething disgust and frustration that makes the song a spiritual mix of The Clashand Wire— while voicing, the sort of frustration felt when you live in a dead-end town, with dead-end people and no real options or opportunities.

Directed by Luke Hallett, the incredibly stylish visual for “The People, This Place” features film noir-ish split screens between members of the band primping, preening, hanging out and being insouciant, the band playing in a rehearsal space. It’s part music video, part perfume commercial, part look into modern young people’s lives.