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: https://www.joyofviolentmovement.com/shop Support on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/TheJoyofViolentMovement : Featured as one of the top photographers in New York City

New Video: Oliver Future Returns After 14 Year Hiatus to Release a Brooding Fever Dream

Split between Austin and Los Angeles, psych rock outfit Oliver Future — currently founding members Noah Lit (guitar, vocals), Josh Lit (vocals, keys), Sam Raver (guitar), Jesse Ingalls — was founded in Austin, back in 2002 featuring a lineup of Noah Lit, Josh Lit, Raver, Ingalls and Jordan Richardson (drums). While in Austin, the band wrote and recorded several albums before their management company relocated the band to Los Angeles in 2005.

The management company (and their stipends) disappeared quickly, and the band was stuck in Los Angeles, too broke to get back home. Luckily, they met producer and engineer Adam Lasus, who has worked with a who’s who list of contemporary indie rock acts, including recording a hit record with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, had just relocated to Los Angeles.

Lasus worked with the band on 2007’s Pax Futura, an effort that was released to widespread critical praise and received airplay on KCRW and NPR Music. The band, who were by then a fixture at Spaceland and The Echo, supported the album with several national tours, as well as stops at Austin City Limits Festival, SXSW, Sunset Junction Music Festival — and a live set on Morning Becomes Eclectic.

Just as the members of Oliver Future started working on Pax Futura‘s follow-up, a famous touring artist hired the band’s rhythm section. Ingalls and Richardson wound up touring the world and winning a Grammy while the remaining members of the band went on to write and record 2008’s In Event of Moon Disaster. Shortly, after In Event of Moon Disaster‘s release, the band broke up. Josh Lit, Noah Lit and Sam Raver returned to Austin.

Shortly after returning home, Noah Lit and Josh Lit became co-owners of popular East Austin craft beer and kolaches bakery, Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches. The successful brothers and business partners were still eager to create new music, and in 2019, they asked Jesse if he wanted to return to Austin to play what was intended to be a one-off, goodbye show at The Continental Club. The show was sold out, and although it was meant to close the book on the band, the fun of playing together was undeniable.

As the drudgery of lockdowns continues into last summer, Josh Lit, Noah Lit and Raver started regularly getting together to jam in their studio. The music instantly sounded like Oliver Future. They contacted Richardson, who remembered two of the songs they were working on before their initial breakup “Phases of the Moon” and “I Can’t Take It.” The rest of the material, which would eventually comprise their forthcoming album A Year at Home was written remotely between Austin and Los Angeles over the past year with the band sending tracks and ideas back and forth through text and email. Studio pro Jimmy Paxson played drums on the album.

The band describes the A Year at Home sessions as “the most effortless recordings they ever got to do.” The final touch was that the band recruited Adam Lasus to mix the record. Although the album is the first album from the psych rock outfit in over 14 years, the album’s material sees the band seemingly continuing where they left off.

“Phases of the Moon,” A Year at Home‘s first single is a slow-burning and brooding song, centered around glistening synth arpeggios, the Lits’ ethereal harmonies, shimmering guitars and a steady yet hypnotic groove. Sonically, “Phases of the Moon” will most likely draw comparisons to Dark Side of the Moon era Pink Floyd and Young Narrator in the Breakers era Pavo Pavo — it’s anachronistic take on retro futurism, which seems to reveal the rot, anxiety, and unease just underneath,

The recently released video for “Phases of the Moon” is an eerie yet gorgeous fever dream inspired by modern life in quarantine doldrums: evil phantasms are everywhere, so the video’s protagonist is left at home trying to hold on to the old normal, and to entertain herself — but she eventually she goes mad.

New Video: Neon Jesus’ Sultry and Bluesy Banger “Red Lips”

Rising Canadian-born and-based singer/songwriter Neon Jesus can trace the origins of his genre-defying sound — a sound that pairs blues-inspired guitar with pulsing electronic dance music — to when he lived in New York.

While in New York, the rising Canadian artist frequently caught live music, and he noticed a significant and very telling difference in terms of reaction: “I’d be out at a rock show and while people were attentive and taking everything in, the crowd’s reaction was rather lackluster, even amid great artists before them,” Neon Jesus recalls. ““But then I’d head to a rave in Brooklyn and it struck me that people there were uninhibited and just generally more invested in what they were listening to. That was when I started to wonder what would happen if someone were to bring the two genres together.”

Electronic music was uncharted territory for the rising Canadian artist. But rather than mindlessly following the short-lived trends of generic dance music, Neon Jesus invested time to understand the foundations of electronic music and began to create his own beats to accompany his own guitar playing. That approach to production caught the attention of New York-based dance music production Abe Duque, a pioneer of deep house.

Mentored by Duque, Neon Jesus was exposed to underground dance music. Together, they created a live sound featuring synths and drum machines while the Canadian artist played guitar that saw the pair playing off one-another in an improvised manner familiar to the blues and jazz. The pair took their live sound to Berlin, where Neon Jesus became the first artist to play electric guitar at the renowned Berlin-based techno club Berghain.

Interestingly, those performances laid the foundation for Neon Jesus’ forthcoming full-length debut Tabula Rosa. Tabula Rosa‘s first single, the slickly produced and sultry “Red Lips” is centered around a thumping kick drum, glistening and pulsating synths, the Canadian artist’s plaintive wailing and scorching guitar lines reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, Prince and the like. And while pairing bluesy, power chord-driven rock with pulsating electronic dance music, “Red Lips” sonically and thematically reminds me a bit of INXS‘ “Need You Tonight” as the song is about desperate, maddening, obsessive desire — but with a sinister and uneasy undertone. “When you look back at artists like Prince or Jimi Hendrix, the blues was at the heart of their sound,” he declares. For some, this may seem a bit odd. The blues label doesn’t easily stick to them. Rather than mimic what came before them, they took the soul of blues and roots music and grew their own branches from the same tree. That’s the impetus behind my exploration of mixing blues and rock guitar with electronic music. I’m growing my personal branch on that tree.”

The recently released video was shot on grainy Super 8 film and is split between footage of the Canadian artist rocking out in a dark club, a beautiful blonde in knee high boots strutting around NYC. “With the video, we were trying to capture the sensation where love slips into obsession followed by a sudden darkness, where only the Lord can save you from its clutches,” Neon Jesus says.

New Audio: Scott AF and Censored X Team Up on a Euphoric Club Banger

Scott Fleenor is a Midwestern-born, Denver-based producer and singer/songwriter, best known as Scott AF. From what I’ve been told as a person and as an artist, the Denver-based artist always pushes people to be their best.

Fleenor’s latest single “No Sounds” is a collaboration with Vietnamese producer and songwriter Censored X. Centered around soulful yet tender vocals, glistening synths, tweeter and woofer rattling beats “No Sounds” is a euphoric and crowd-pleasing mix of soul, deep house and pop songwriting that will rock a club.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay MAGON Returns with a Brooding and Introspective Single

Over the past 18 months or so, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering Israeli-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay MAGON. With the release of Out in the Dark, the Israeli-born, Paris-based artist quickly established a sound that at the time, he dubbed as “urban rock on psychedelics.”  

Late last year, the Israeli-French artist released his critically applauded sophomore album Hour After Hour, which featured “Change,” a dreamy meditation on the passing of time, “Aerodynamic,” a decidedly glam rock-inspired take on psych rock and the No Wave meets post-punk like album title track “Hour After Hour.” Sonically, the album’s material was a decided change in direction with the material being ” “somewhere between Ty SegallAllah-Las and The Velvet Underground” according to the JOVM mainstay.

The Israeli-French artist’s third album In The Blue officially dropped today and the album sees MAGON drawing from two different sets of influences — 70s rock like Lou Reed and Led Zeppelin and contemporary influences like Mac DeMarco and Devendra Banhart. Written around the birth of the artist’s daughter, the album is centered around what may arguably be some of the most introspective songwriting of his growing catalog — paired with a bit more assertive delivery.

In the lead-up to In The Blue‘s release, I wrote about two of the album’s singles:

  • The Willow,” an introspective bit of 70s-inspired art rock, that follows its characters on a trip to Egypt, where its primary narrator sees the titular willow. But interestingly, the trip serves as a larger and deeper metaphor for its characters, who are all desperately trying to find something — perhaps themselves or a deeper, hidden truth?
  • Egyptian Music,” a slow-burning vibey ballad of sorts, centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars paired with impressionistic yet introspective songwriting — with the song equally evoking nostalgia and regret. 

“Forever,” In The Blue‘s third and latest single, is a vibey-mid tempo song that’s one part AM rock, one part-post punk centered around impressionistic lyrics touching upon regret, forgiveness, time and its inevitable passing, and love. But interestingly, the song’s narrator — to me, at least — seems a bit worn out and exhausted by — well, everything.

New Video: FUTURE KULT Delves Deep into our Near-Dystopian Future

FUTURE KULT is a emerging music project featuring Cardiff-based film composer Sion Trefor and Berlin-based musician and art producer Benjamin Zombori. The duo holed up in the remote Mexican region of Hildalgo to write and record their forthcoming self-titled, full-length debut, slated for a February 11, 2022 releaser through AWAL.

The duo’s work fed off what they’ve been seeing in the overall zeitgeist — an uneasy and mad world in conflict, with technology consuming the life and soul of the consumer. Thematically, the album sees the duo questioning what it even means to create art in this particular moment. Has the world accepted the all-consuming algorithm as ruler — or is it possible to make music and art that reflects and comments on our moment?

For the duo, to be human means to be engaged in a battle of retreat against overwhelming technological forces, with the soft-power of our machines hardening into a prison for our minds. They claim that it’s not long clear if humans shape their computers, phones, their avatars and the internet — or if these devices shape us, our desires, our thoughts and our expression.

FUTURE KULT’s first single “Hildago” is an expansive track that’s simultaneously cinematic and menacing, centered around a noisy and dense arrangement featuring buzzing bass synths, skittering boom bap, scorching guitar, brooding horn blasts, layers of glistening synth arpeggios, distorted vocal samples paired with breathy yet ironically detached vocals. This is the sound of our near dystopian present.

The accompanying video was shot by Zombori in the Mexican desert, just outside of its namesake town. The video shows fragments of a mysterious folk tale centered around a masked hero, who mysteriously arrives to protect the villagers from dark and unseen forces seemingly recorded on a battered VHS tape.

New Video: Kids On A Crime Spree Release a Furious New Ripper

Deriving their name after a San Francisco Examiner article by Bruce Kook and James Finefrock titled “Mousepacks: Kids On A Crime Spree,” which also inspired the late 70s exploitation film Over The Edge, the Oakland-based indie act Kids on a Crime Spree — longtime friends Bill Evans (guitar), Rebecca Barron (drums) and Mario Hernandez (vocals, guitar) — released their debut EP We Love You So Bad through Slumberland Records back in 2011. They followed that up with 2013’s “Creep the Creeps” and a 4-song split EP with fellow Bay Area indie outfit Terry Malts back in 2017. Each effort was short, punchy — and to-the-point.

Although their long-awaited full-length debut Fall In Love Not In Line has been a decade in the making, the album gives their devoted fans something they’ve always wanted — more. Written and recorded at Mario Hernandez’s analog home studio in Oakland, the 10-song DIY effort clocks in at a brisk 25 minutes — on 45 RPM vinyl — and is reportedly a solid assemblage of noise-pop exuberance that finds the band consciously moving beyond their idols, both in recording method and lyrical content, as the band’s Hernandez explains. While the band retains many of the elements that their fans have long loved — pelting drum beats, buoyant bass lines, chiming guitar lines and Hernandez’s distinct vocals, the material features more shifting tempos and melodies — and is reportedly much warmer and centered around a deeper unity of purpose.

Clocking in at a little under 3 minutes Fall In Love Not In Line‘s latest single “All Things Fade” is a blistering, breakneck ripper, centered around a persistently chugging rhythm section, relentless drumming, layers of chiming, reverb-drenched guitars, a garage rock-inspired solo, an enormous hook and Hernandez’s plaintive vocals. Sonically, the song is one-part classic, scuzzy garage rock and one-part lovingly crafted, hook-driven pop, centered around a bittersweet realization that everything is transitory.

The recently released video employs a simple concept: the band all dressed in red and black ripping and roaring through the song in front of projections of a complicated schematic for something or another, mug shots of a hardened criminal and other images.

Fall In Love Not In Line is slated for a January 21, 2022 release through Slumberland Records.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Genesis Owusu Releases a Trippy Visual for “Waitin’ For Ya (Remix)”

With the release of his debut EP, 2017’s Cardrive, the acclaimed and rising Ghanian-born, Canberra, Australia-based, artist Genesis Owusu — born Kofi Owusu-Anash — quickly established a reputation for being a restless, genre-blurring chameleon with an ability to conjure powerful and deeply personal storytelling.

The EP eventually garnered an ARIA Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Release and praise from Sir Elton John (!), NMEi-Dmixmag and others. Owusu supported the EP by opening for Dead PrezCol3traneSampa The GreatCosmo’s MidnightNonameAniméRuel and others in Australia.

Last year, Owusu-Anash released a couple of highly-celebrated singles — the fiery street shit meets mosh pit ripper “Whip Cracker” and the ARIA Award-nominated smash hit “Don’t Need You,” which quickly became the #1 most played song on triple J radio and eventually international airplay on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 and here in the States on KCRWKUTXThe Current and Alt98

Owusu-Anash’s critically applauded full-length debut Smiling With No Teeth was released earlier this year. The album as the acclaimed Ghanian-Aussie artist explains is essentially about “performing what the world wants to see, even if you don’t have the capacity to do so honestly. Slathering honey on your demons to make them palatable to people, who only want to know if you’re okay, if the answer is yes. That’s the idea, turned into beautiful, youthful, ugly, timeless and strange music.

Each of the album’s 15 tracks can trace their origins back to studio jam sessions with a backing band that features Kirin J. CallinanTouch Sensitive’s Michael DiFrancesco, World Champion‘s Julian Sudek and the album’s producer Andrew Klippel. 

In the lead-up to the album’s release, I wound up writing about three of Smiling With No Teeth‘s singles:

  • The Other Black Dog,” a mind-bending production that meshed alternative hip-hop, industrial clang, clatter, rattle and stomp, off-kilter stuttering beats and wobbling synth arpeggios that was roomy enough for Owusu-Anash’s breathless, rapid-fire and dense flow. Managing to balance club friendliness with sweaty, mosh pit energy, the song is a full-throttled nosedive into madness that reminds me of the drug and booze fueled chaos of ODB, and the menace of DMX.
  • Gold Chains,” a brooding yet seamless synthesis of old school soul, G Funk and Massive Attack-like trip hop centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, stuttering boom bap beats, squiggling blasts of guitar and the rising Ghanian-born, Canberra-based artist’s Mos Def/Yasiin Bey-like delivery, alternating between spitting dense and dexterous bars and crooning with an achingly tender falsetto. “‘Gold Chains’ got me thinking about the flaws of being in a profession where, more and more, you have to be the product, rather than just the provider of the product, and public misconceptions about how luxurious that is,” Owusu-Anash explains in press notes. “Lyrically, it set the tone for the rest of the album.” 
  • Same Thing,” a jolting and uneasy future funk banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, bursts of Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a propulsive bass line and infectious hook serving as a silky bed for Owusu’s alternating dexterous and densely worded bars and soulful crooning. But at its core is an unflinchingly honest — and necessary — view of mental health struggles. 

In July, the Ghanian-Aussie JOVM mainstay released the Missing Molars EP, a five-track accompaniment to his full-length debut. Recorded during the Smiling With No Teeth sessions, the Missing Molars EP material didn’t make the album — but further continue the soul-baring narrative of the album. “Missing Molars is an extension of Smiling With No Teeth,” Owusu-Anash explains. “A small collection of tracks from the SWNT sessions that take the already established world-building groundwork of the album, and expand that universe into new and unexplored places. These are all tracks that I felt were special in their own right and needed to be shared. This is music without boundaries.” 

In the lead up to Missing Molars‘ release, I wrote about “The Fall,” a slick and pulsing synthesis of industrial house, hip-hop and future soul centered around Owusu-Anash’s silky falsetto that manages to convey a restless and uneasy energy while being a banger.

Originally commissioned to be part of a global ad campaign, Jagwar Ma’s Jono Ma gave album track “Waitin’ On Ya,” the remix treatment. The original was sultry bit of neo-soul centered around shimmering and arpeggiated Rhodes, a sinuous bass line and Owusu’s silky smooth delivery. The Jono Ma remix retains the acclaimed JOVM mainstay’s silky smooth delivery but pairs it with skittering drum ‘n’ bass-like beats and glistening synths and buoyant horns, turning the song into a trippy yet club friendly bop.

The “Waitin’ On Ya (Remix)” caps off a wildly successful year for the Ghanian-Aussie JOVM mainstay: Owusu-Anash has firmly secured himself atop international “emerging artists to watch in 2021.” Smiling With No Teeth has received critical acclaim internationally from NPR Music, i-D, Paste Magazine, Hypebeast and countless others. The album has also received over 50 million streamed globally while landing on a number of Spotify and Apple Music playlists.

The video for the “Waiting On Ya (Remix)” was directed by Riley Blakeway, who directed the award-winning video for “The Other Black Dog.” The video continues the narrative developed from “The Other Black Dog” but through a fever dream-like prism that features that visual’s main character running a complex and crazy scam that seems him travel to all kinds of paradisal locations — but while appearing and being a menacing and uneasy look at someone, who might be slowly going mad.

New Video: Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul Return with a Surreal and Abstract Visual for Off-Kilter Banger “HAHA”

Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul are a Ghent, Belgium electronic duo, who exploded into the national and international scenes with the release of 2019’s critically applauded, David and Stephen Dewaele-produced Zandoli EP. Their unpredictable and subversive take on electro pop sees the pair poking and prodding at the pop zeitgeist with a provocative and sly sense of humor. Adding to a growing profile, EP singles “Paténipat” and “High Lights” received airplay on UK Radio and were playlisted by BBC Radio 6

Adigéry and Pupul’s official full-length debut as a duo, Topical Dancer is slated for a March 4, 2022 release through Soulwax‘s own label DEEWEE. Co-written and co-produced by Soulwax and the acclaimed duo, Topical Dancer is deeply rooted in two things: their perspectives as Belgians with immigrant backgrounds with Adigéry proudly claiming Guadeloupean and French-Martinique ancestry and Pupul being of Chinese descent, and the conversations the duo have had touching upon cultural appropriation, misogyny, racism, social media vanity, post-colonialism. 

So while being a snapshot of their thoughts and observations of pop culture in the early 2020s, the album also further cements their sound and approach; they manage to craft thoughtful songs that bang hard but are centered around their idiosyncratic and off-kilter take on familiar genres and styles. “We like to fuck things up a bit,” Pupul laughs. “We cringe when we feel like we’re making something that already exists, so we’re always looking for things to combine to make it sound not like a pop song, not like an R&B song, not a techno song. We’re always putting different worlds together. Charlotte and I get bored when things get too predictable.”  

And as result, the album’s 13 songs are fueled by a restless desire to not be boxed in — and to escape narrow perceptions of who they are and what they can be. “One thing that always comes up,” Bolis Pupul says, “is that people perceive me as the producer, and Charlotte as just a singer. Or that being a Black artist means you should be making ‘urban’ music. Those kinds of boxes don’t feel good to us.” But they manage to do all of this with a satirical bent; for the duo it’s emancipation through humor. “I don’t want to feel this heaviness on me,” Charlotte Adigéry says. “These aren’t my crosses to bear. Topical Dancer is my way of freeing myself of these issues. And of having fun.”

So far, I’ve written about two of Topical Dancer‘s singles:

  • Thank You,” a sardonic, club banger featuring skittering beats, buzzing synth arpeggios and Adigéry’s deadpan delivery destroying mansplainers and unwanted, unsolicited and straight up dumb opinions and advice from outsiders.
  • Blenda,” a club banger, centered around African-inspired polyrhythm, wobbling bass synths, skittering beats and Adigéry’s deadpan. Informed by Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, “Blenda” focuses on colonialism and post colonialism through Adigéry’s experience as Black immigrant in an extremely white place.

Topical Dancer‘s third and latest single “HAHA” continues a remarkable run of off-kilter yet club friendly bangers. Built around a chopped up sample of Adigéry making herself laugh, paired with twinkling synths, skittering beats and a relentless motorik groove, “HAHA” feels improvised and unfinished yet simultaneously polished.

The recently released video by Hugo Campan is as abstract and odd as the single it accompanies with the visual featuring kaleidoscopic footage of Adigéry and Pupul vamping and dancing among chicken and egg imagery. The duo explain that the chicken and egg imagery is a “a visual shorthand for unhatched potential” and is an ongoing motif throughout the album.