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

Toronto-based post-punk quartet Hollow Graves are inspired by the second British invasion and with their recently released debut album Mid-Century Modern, the Canadian outfit quickly establishes a sound that features elements of dream pop, New Wave and post-punk.

Fittingly, the album’s material was inspired by life events both before and during the pandemic. Songs touch on the loneliness of being secluded, relationship and personal struggles, while also offering glimpses of hope and enjoyment.

“Borderline,” Mid-Century Modern‘s latest single is an infectious, hook-driven bop centered around glistening and reverb drenched guitar, a driving bass line, stuttering four-on-four and plaintive vocals. But just under the surface is an uneasy anxious tension that feels familiar, with the song asking the question of “when do you let go of someone, who might be struggling and can’t — or is unwilling — to help themselves.

As the band explains in press notes, “‘Borderline’ is a story about a person whose personal struggles are being spread to friends and family in a negative way.” They add “even though you may try to help a struggling friend, you might not be able to effect positive change until they can help themselves first.”

New Video: the bird and the bee Share a Gorgeous, Animated Visual for Expansive “Lifetimes”

Acclaimed Los Angeles-based indie pop act the bird and the bee — singer/songwriter Inara George and eight-time Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin — can trace their origins back to when they met while working on George’s 2005 solo debut All Rise.

Bonding over a mutual love of 80s pop and rock, the duo decided to continue collaborating together in a jazz-influenced electro pop-leaning project. With the release of 2006’s Again and Again and Again and Again EP and 2007’s self-titled, full-length debut, George and Kurstin quickly established a reputation for crafting pop songs with a breezy elegance.

Since the debut album, the bird and the bee have released three albums, as well as two volumes in their Interpreting the Masters series, in which they re-arranged and re-imagined the music of Hall & Oates and Van Halen in their playful and breezy style.

2020’s Christmas album Put Up the Lights was written and recorded remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Lifetimes,” is the first bit of new material since the release Put Up the Lights — and interestingly enough the song marks two big occasions for the the duo:

  • the first time they were able to work together at Kurstin’s Hollywood-based No Expectations Studio in years
  • and the duo celebrating the 15th anniversary of their self-titled debut, released through Blue Note Records

“It was really nice to be back in each other’s company and working on music together. No matter who you are, there’s always something unique that happens when you are able to collaborate with someone in the same space,” the bird and bee’s Inara George says in press notes. “Since the beginning of the bird and the bee, Greg and I have always had a very easy and fun time collaborating. I think it’s what keeps us playing music together. We have a kind of unspoken understanding and such a creative ease. Being back together inspired this song about our first musical collaboration.”

“Lifetimes” is centered around an expansive and elegant arrangement that starts with angular post-punk guitar that slowly builds up to include blown out beats, twinkling keys, fluttering synths, a dreamy Bossa nova and jazz-like bridge, and an anthemic coda. While telling the tale of the duo’s first collaboration together, the song is also a meditation on the passing of time, and a celebration of a deep and abiding friendship rooted in an unusual understanding of the other.

Directed by Simona Mehandzhieva and Norbert Garab, the recently released animated video for “Lifetimes” follows the song’s story as a swooning platonic love story and a sort of Vulcan mind-meld between two very different yet oddly similar people.

New Video: Stimmerman Shares a Trippy and Unsettling Visual for New Ripper “Geek”

Eva Lawitts is a New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, grizzled local scene veteran and JOVM mainstay: Lawitts began her varied and interesting career with a 14 year run with local, prog rock shredders Sister Helen. She has simultaneously developed a reputation as a go-to session and touring musician, working with Vagabon, and Princess Nokia.

Lawitts also co-runs Brooklyn-based recording studio, Wonderpark Studios, where she’s a producer and engineer. Adding to a busy schedule, the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer played bass on Oceanator‘s Things I Never Said.

Her recording project Stimmerman — which is simultaneously a band and a solo project — was founded back in 2017 after her previous band Sister Helen split up. “I wanted a project that was all mine and so I picked a family name long-changed for the purposes of assimilating into American Society (what a concept)- Stimmerman,” Lawitts explains in press notes.

Lawitts’ Stimmerman debut, 2019’s Goofballs was ” . . . more or less about loss and survivor’s guilt: it’s a meditation on a friend’s fatal overdose at a young age through that lens.” And if you were following JOVM back then, you might recall that Goofballs featured the Bleach-era Nirvana meets PJ Harvey-like “It Shows” and the expansive math rock meets shoegaze meets acid rock-like “Dentist vs. Pharmacist.

“Geek” is the first bit of original material from Lawitts since Goofballs. Clocking in at about 65 seconds, the new Stimmernan single manages to simultaneously be an expansive and yet breakneck ripper, featuring grungy power chords, thunderous drumming and fluttering synths and feedback paried with Stimmerman’s surrealistic yet visceral lyrics.

Directed and animated by Elenor Kopka, the recently released video features a series of amoeba-like humanoid faces that morph, bend, and melt throughout the video. Interestingly, each face seems marked by some unspoken fear or worry.

“Geek” will appear on Stimmerman’s sophomore album, which is slated for release later this year.

New Video: Lucky Lo Releases a Swooning and Euphoric Anthem to Queer Love

Lo Ersare is a Umeå, Sweden-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter, musician, and the creative mastermind behind the emerging indie pop project Lucky Lo. Ersare relocated to Copenhagen in 2014 and quickly made a name for herself as a busker and as an integral part of the city’s underground music scene, performing everything from folk to experimental jazz to improvisational vocal music. Along the way, her love for Japan and its music brought her to the island nation, where she has performed, grown a devoted fanbase and gathered inspiration, which has seeped into her music in various ways.

Ersare’s full-length debut, Supercarry is slated for a March 25, 2022 release through Tambourhinoceros Records. The album will feature previously released single “Heart Rhythm Synchronize,” which was about synching heartbreaks through love and song and album title track “Supercarry,” a sleek and seamless synthesis of Annie Lennox and Peter Gabriel, that thematically finds Ersare quickly establishing a major thematic concern in her work — the transformational power of radical love.

Supercarry’s latest single, “Ever” is a swooning and infectiously optimistic pop song centered around glistening synth arpeggios, a strutting disco-inspired bass line, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a rousingly anthemic hook and Ersare’s plaintive pop belter vocals. Arguably, the most dance floor friendly of the album’s released singles, “Ever!” brings Talking Heads, and Annie Lennox to mind paired with the euphoria of Sylvester‘s queer anthem “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).

Lyrically, the song’s narrator has found a way to transform the hardships of living in a cruel and judgmental world that won’t allow them to be themselves into a deep, sustaining hope and confidence; the sort of quiet confidence to be self-assured in whatever your truth may be. As Ersare explains the song is an anthem for queer love.

The inspiration for the song began deep inside a YouTube rabbit hole. Ersara was binging on Freddie Mercury videos one night. That eventually lead to her researching the AIDS epidemic of the 80s, and the blacklash of homophobia the gay community felt back then.

She came across a video of a gay man, who bravely announced to a reporter that no amount of homophobia could keep gay people from loving each other that struck her as timeless. Since the dawn of society, gay people have been — and will keep on — loving in secret, despite antagonism, until the world eventually accepts them.

This video resonated with the Umeå-born, Copenhagen-based artist, who was then inspired to make a song for “anybody, who feels they are living a truth in secret can listen to, dance to, and feel that they will be accepted. By repeating the motion, it’s going to change the world,” she says.

Animated by Isabelle Friberg, the recently released video is a life affirming love song: We follow the video’s protagonists, who have a meet cute at local bowling alley and fall madly in love. They represent the love that man in the 80s video clip talked about. And while we get a glimpse into their lives and their love, we see Ersare and her band performing the song, while looking like characters straight out of Jem. The video manages to be brightly colored, overwhelmingly positive and a sweet visual that emphasizes the song’s swooning euphoria.

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Nation of Language Perform “Across That Fine Line” on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

Rising Brooklyn-based synth pop trio and JOVM mainstays Nation of Language — Ian Richard Devaney (vocals, guitars, percussion), Aidan Noell (synth, vocals) and Michael Sue-Poi (bass) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Devaney and Sue-Poi were members of The Static Joys, a band that became largely inactive after the release of their sophomore album. And as the story goes, Devaney was inspired to start a new project after hearing OMD‘s “Electricity,” a song he had listened to quite a bit while in his father’s car.

What initially started out as Devaney fooling around on a keyboard eventually evolved to Nation of Language with the addition of Noell and Sue-Poi. Between 2016-2019, the Brooklyn-based synth pop trio released a handful of singles that helped to build up a fanbase locally and the outside world.

Nation of Language’s full-length debut, Introduction, Presence was released to critical praise, landing on the Best Albums of 2020 lists for Rough TradeKEXPPasteStereogumUnder The Radar and PopMatters. The Brooklyn-based pop trio capped off the year with the “A Different Kind of Light”/”Deliver Me From Wondering Why” 7 inch, which featured the A Flock of Seagulls meets Simple Minds-like “Deliver Me From Wondering Why.” 

Late last year, the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstays released their critically applauded sophomore album A Way Forward, which featured lead album single “Across That Fine Line.” Featuring glistening synth arpeggios, a relentless motorik groove, Devaney’s plaintive vocals and an enormous, rousingly anthemic hook, “Across That Fine Line” continues the band’s remarkable run of decidedly 80s synth pop inspired material. Certainly, as a child of the 80s, the song reminds me of the aforementioned A Flock of Seagulls, as well as Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones and a few others — and much like the sources that inspired it, the song is centered around earnest, lived-in songwriting.

“‘Across That Fine Line’ is a reflection on that moment when a non-romantic relationship flips into something different,” Nation of Language’s Devaney explains in press notes. “When the air in the room suddenly feels like it changes in an undefinable way. It’s a kind of celebration of that certain joyous panic, and the uncertainty that surfaces right after it.  
“Sonically, it’s meant to feel like running down a hill, just out of control. I had been listening to a lot of Thee Oh Sees at the time of writing it and admiring the way they supercharge krautrock rhythms and imbue them with a kind of mania, which felt like an appropriate vibe to work with and make our own.”

Recently, the JOVM mainstays made their late night, national TV debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The band performed “Across That Fine Line” in a segment taped at Baby’s All Right.

Rising Swiss production duo Bogart. can trace their origins back to when the pair met in an employment program at the employment office and quickly bonded over their shared music tastes. In the past year, the Swiss duo have quickly established themselves in the global, lo-fi hiphop and beatmaking scenes with a prolific series of releases through labels like O-Nei-Reic Tapes, Vinyl Digital, Pueblo Vista, Kick A Dope Verse! and Sofarockers, who released “Desire,” a track that has amassed over 190,000 streams.

The duo’s full-length debut Reality Check will be released through Vinyl Digital. They explain the album is the most personal and versatile effort of their careers to date. And with Reality Check, the duo hope to further establish themselves as beatmakers, while reminding the world that producing dope beats is still “a matter of honor and that the ingredients are passion, love for the culture and good craft.”

“Whipped Cream,” Reality Check‘s latest single is centered around a lush and dusty Pete Rock meets DJ Devastate-like production featuring woozy strings, twinkling Rhodes, old-school boom bap and scratching. The production is roomy enough for Man of Met‘s densely worded bars, full of complex inner and outer rhyme schemes to flow effortlessly within the song’s 88 second runtime.

Throughout the song, Man of Met’s bars see him honestly discussing his financial struggles, his dreams of making it big — but on his own terms. Ultimately, it means keeping it uncompromisingly real and crafting the music that’s true to him. While being a contemporary take on the classic hip-hop sound that I’ve grown up with and loved, the song is fueled by an earnestness and hunger that’s endearing and infectious.

New Video: King Garbage Shares Soulful and Yearning “Busy On A Saturday Night”

Asheville, NC-based, Grammy Award-nominated production, songwriting and artist duo King Garbage — longtime friends Zach Cooper and Vic Dimotsis — have quiet put their imprint on pop, R&B and hip-hop through their work with The Weeknd, SZA, Ellie Goulding, Gallant, and even Billy Porter.

Cooper and Dimotsis made their debut as King Garbage with 2017’s Make It Sweat, an album that amassed millions of streams while receiving praise from Wonderland Magazine and Paste Magazine, who hailed the effort as a “grin-inducing collection of modern R&B and funk.”

The Asheville-based duo were extremely busy last year: They co-wrote “Sing,” which appeared on Jon Batiste‘s We Are and received eight Grammy Award nods, including Album of the Year. They also co-wrote “Sweeter,” feat. Terrace Martin, which appeared on Leon BridgesGold-Diggers Sound and received a Grammy nod for Best R&B Album.

In the middle of a prolific and wildly creative whirlwind, the duo turned to King Garbage, finding the perfect time to return. “It’s the right time, because it’s been about five years since the last album,” King Garbage’s Vic Dimotsis says. “We were lucky enough to have successes with Leon and Jon. In entertainment, it doesn’t hurt to have stuff to brag about during press releases,” he laughs. “We were also insanely lucky to have met Mr. Mike Patton and be given a chance to work with Ipecac. We had been drawn to Ipecac since we were young, so it seemed natural to respect the very source that had inspired us in the first place.”

The duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Heavy Metal Greasy Love is slated for an April 1, 2022 release through Ipecac Recordings. The album reportedly sees the duo breaking from the “rough and ruddy” vibe of their critically applauded debut and incorporating a rock ‘n’ roll spirit within the soul sphere they’re best known for.

“It’s a taste of retro without being a reproduction,” the duo’s Vic Dimotsis explains in press notes. “Love and life are very sweet, bitter, and heavy. You’re going to need big tires and a dense frame to cross the desert life can give you. The name felt right. The music is crispy, searing, spacious, sandy, and welded with perfect dimes at the seams. If you read anything about history, you can fall in love with its brutality. Nature is the most metal, always at war with itself and never asking ‘Why?’ when change comes. I believe if you live long enough, the crushing weight and terrible beauty begin to hold hands, and an appreciation is reached, or at least an understanding. This was the best way to describe the album as well as what we see in the world. Love, nature, past, present, and future.”

“If just one person would listen and come away with less fear, less rigidity, more human spirit, and a respect for the unknown, it’s worth it,” Dimotsis adds. “Maybe you think, ‘Well, if these bozos are taking chances and making what they want under the name King Garbage, what could I do with my idea or dreams?’”

Heavy Metal Greasy Love‘s third and latest single “Busy On A Saturday Night” is a slow-burning and atmospheric, Quiet Storm inspired soul ballad centered around shimmering, flamenco-like plucked guitar, strutting horns, jazz-like drumming skittering beats and a soulful and breathy falsetto vocal. But the acclaimed duo’s take on soul is a woozy and left field take that features elements of old-school rock, 60s and 70s soul and trap in a production that helps emphasize the narrator’s unfulfilled, aching yearning.

Interestingly, the song is inspired by a magnet that was on Vic’s Dimotsis’ great grandmother’s refrigerator. “It had a sweaty male stripper pictured on it and said, ‘Everything I want is either taken, or busy on a Saturday night,'” Dimotsis laughs. “Blurry as a memory on a slinky night out. A Tom Waits inspired roadster awaits high high heels on a sure fire adventure. Losing articles of clothing to the magnet of the pavement, the band plays on through a duct from another world, and our eyes blur from both lust and disgust. Such motion seems still, as the accelerator and brakes lose meaning. A quiet lonely brunch awakens us from a distant stare.”

The recently released video for “Busy On A Saturday Night” begins with something we’re all too familiar with — a Zoom conference, where its viewers are introduced to a choreographed dance routine, called “The Scorpion Dance” featuring four extremely similar women, who perform in different rooms with different lights. Clearly influenced by our weird and uncertain moment, the video evokes the deep longing for people — and the gatherings with people we couldn’t have during the bulk of the pandemic.