Author: William Ruben Helms

I'm a music blogger, critic and photographer, who has had articles and photos published in 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.
With the release of their first two albums — 2013’s ATLAS, which landed at number 1 on the Australian charts and earned platinum status and 2016’s critically and commercially successful follow up, Bloom, which featured smash hits “You Were Right” and “Innerbloom,” the Sydney, Australia-based electro pop trio RUFUS DU SOL, comprised of Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George and James Hunt quickly became international sensations — and over the course of a two year long international tour, developed a reputation for combining the DIY live aesthetics of indie rock with the euphoria of classic club culture.
The Australian trio spent the past year in Venice, CA writing and recording their highly-anticipated third full-length album SOLACE, and as the trio notes, the album is largely influenced by the dichotomy of the stark desert landscapes and coastlines of California while being a much fuller exploration of their evolving sound, and a deeper, more intimate glimpse into both melancholy and transcendence. It feels like a new RÜFÜS,”the trio says. “We are inspired by our new home out here, by the people we’ve met and the music we’ve heard along the way. We’ve got a refreshed sense of ambition and cannot wait to share our creation with the world.”

 

SOLACE’s second and latest single “Underwater” will further cement the Australian trio’s growing reputation for forward-thinking, boundary pushing production as the track is centered around arpeggiated and propulsive Giorgio Moroder-like synths, a soaring choral hook and verses that express an aching longing. And from the latest single, it shouldn’t be surprising that the act manages to walk a tightrope between arena and club rocking bombast with an earnest and intimate emotionality, as though the song is confession between the listener and the song’s narrator.

The internationally renowned electro pop trio will be on a month long North American tour during the fall and it includes three New York City area dates — November 23, November 24 and November 25 at Terminal 5. Check out the tour dates below.

 

SOLACE North American Fall Tour Dates (with more dates to be announced):
Oct 24th – Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore
Oct 25th – Atlanta, GA – Coca Cola Roxy
Oct 26th – New Orleans, LA – Voodoo Music & Arts Experience
Oct 27th – Houston, TX – House of Blues (Houston)
Oct 28th – Austin, TX – Emo’s
Oct 30th – Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren
Oct 31st – San Diego, CA – Valley View Casino Center
Nov 1st – Los Angeles, CA – Shrine Expo Hall
Nov 2nd – Los Angeles, CA – Shrine Expo Hall
Nov 3rd – Los Angeles, CA – Shrine Expo Hall
Nov 6th – San Francisco, CA – Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
Nov 9th – Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex
Nov 10th – Denver, CO – The Fillmore Auditorium
Nov 11th – Denver, CO – The Fillmore Auditorium
Nov 13th – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
Nov 14th – Chicago, IL – Aragon Ballroom
Nov 15th – Detroit, MI – Royal Oak Music Hall
Nov 16th – Toronto, ON – The Danforth Music Hall
Nov 18th – Montreal, QC – MTELUS
Nov 20th – Boston, MA – House of Blues (Boston)
Nov 21st – Boston, MA – House of Blues (Boston)
Nov 23rd – New York, NY – Terminal 5
Nov 24th – New York, NY – Terminal 5
Nov 25th – New York, NY – Terminal 5

 

 

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New Video: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Return with Film Noir-Influenced Visuals for Moody Album Single “The Message”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written about the  London-based duo and JOVM mainstays Still Corners, and as you may recall, the British duo comprised of vocalist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes have developed a reputation for crafting incredibly atmospheric and moody dream pop/synth pop centered around Murray’s smoky vocals and shimmering atmospherics.

The band’s fourth album Slow Air is slated for release later this week through the duo’s Wrecking Light label, and the album derives its name from the sultry summer days and nights they experienced during their time in Austin, TX, where they had written the album. Reportedly, Slow Air is a bit of a return to early form for Murray and Hughes, as the material learn towards arrangements that emphasize electric and acoustic guitars, live drumming and a minimal use of synthesizers.

Recorded in a new studio designed by Hughes, the recorded sessions inspired a minimalist and fluid approach in which they used a variety of old and new microphones while making sure that they didn’t overthink the entire process as is the tendency of modern recording; in fact, they managed to keep the mistakes they recorded on the album, so as to remind the listener of the fact that living, breathing, feeling and imperfect humans made it,  while also ensuring that the important thing was the material’s emotionality.

Murray and Hughes recorded and mixed the album in three months, the fastest they’ve ever done so far, and from albums single “Black Lagoon,” and “The Photograph,” the duo managed to retain the shimmering and moody atmospherics they’ve long been known for but paired with a previously unheard urgency. As Tessa Murray says of the album in press notes, “we wanted to hear beautiful guitar and drums and an otherworldliness, something about indefinable, along with a classic songwriting vibe. We’re always trying to get the sound we hear inside of ourselves, so we moved fast to avoid our brains getting in the way too much. The name Slow Air evokes the feel of the album to me, steady, eerie and beautiful.”

The album’s latest single “The Message” possess a film noir-ish vibe while drawing a bit from classic Sun Records recordings and 50s and 60s country as the song is centered around Murray’s ethereal vocals, a simple but propulsive backbeat and clean, shimmering guitars — and while meant to evoke late night, lonely highways the song as the duo explains is about “leaving someone and telling them on voicemail.”

Filmed and directed by the duo, the recently released video for “The Message” continues a run of incredibly cinematic visuals off the new album — with the visuals focusing on the lonely image of clouds drifting over a mountain range. At one point, there’s a brief superimposing of Murray’s hand calling the love interest at the center of the song and telling them that she’s leaving them, and as a result the visuals while being fittingly moody also evoke an underlying sense of liberation.

With the release of their critically applauded debut single “Blue & The Green” back in 2016, the Brighton UK-based collective LOYAL, comprised of James Day, Laurence Allen and Alex Cowen, quickly emerged into the national scene, receiving regular rotation on BBC Radio 1.  “Everything (She)” is the first single from the act’s forthcoming EP and sonically the song finds the trio drawing from Nile Rodgers and Chic-era disco, Daft Punk-like house music and funk as its centered around a production consisting of a throbbing bass line, a funky guitar line, wobbling synths, and a soaring hook that features a choir — and interestingly the song manages to be a winning combination of a familiar and beloved dance floor friendly sound, tight hooks, slick production and mischievously anachronistic vibes; but underneath such a self-assured song is an aching longing for one’s everything . . .

As the trio says of the song, “‘Everything (She)’ is our first single since ‘Light Up for You.’ Towards the end of our last EP, the world we were crafting with our music was beginning to become slightly less pixelated and more defined. Maybe too defined…Our mission has always been for our words and music to tell the listener more about themselves then it tells them about us and our experiences. Who are we anyway? We are just a vessel – and we respect that what listeners may gleam from our music has potential to be far greater than our initial design.

It may sound cryptic to some – but for us it’s simple. With “Everything (She)” we explore the power of our ‘everything’. It may be a lover to some, a drug to others, perhaps a hero who lights your eyes when not all is going your way…”

Currently comprised of founding members and childhood friends Jae Young (bass) and Kim Byungkyu (guitar) with Sumi Choi (vocals), Kim Changwon (drums), the Busan, South Korea-based indie rock quartet Say Sue Me can trace its origins to when its founding members Young and Byungkyu, who had played together in a number of bands together throughout high school were drinking tea and beer in a Nampo-dong tea shop when they met Choi. Young and Byungkyu liked Choi’s speaking voice and immediately offered her a spot as the vocalist in a band that would eventually become Say Sue Me. Interestingly enough, as it turned out, Choi turned out to be a natural songwriter. They then recruited Kang Semin on drums — and with him they recorded their full-length debut We’ve Sobered Up, which established the band’s reputation for crafting a sound that draws from 60s surf rock and early 90s indie rock, and 5 songs off their sophomore album Where We Were Together before Semin had a near fatal accident in which he was in a near comatose state.

Continuing onward while hoping for their dear friend’s recovery, the band recruited Changwon and they finished their sophomore album, which marked their first album recorded in a professional studio. And while the album’s material reflects both a studio polish,  and a young band growing more confident in their songwriting and playing, the album is tribute to their bandmate that focuses on the emotional fallout of the loss of a friend and bandmate.  As the band says in press notes, “We made 5 of the songs on Where We Were Together with Semin before his accident, and of the remaining songs on the album 4 of them (“Let It Begin,” “Funny and Cute,” “B Lover,” and “About The Courage To Become Someone’s Past”) are about Semin or made with him in mind.

Although we can’t be together right now, we decided to give the album this title because it reminded us of everything we’ve shared with Semin. And what’s more, sometimes we’ve thought if we make this album a wish to return to the place we were together, some powerful spell might rise up. Who knows if it’s even possible but sometimes we think maybe it could work.”

The South Korean indie rock quartet’s latest 7 inch single features “Just Joking Around,” a song that was cut from their latest album  but features a live from which the album’s title is derived — and the song begins as a slow-burning, shimmering and dreamy ballad with an explosive Ten and Vs-era Pearl Jam like guitar solo before ending with a jangling coda. “B Lover” is a brash and scuzzy power chord-based garage rock/punk rocker burner that the band explains was originally written for Semin’s other band Barbie Dolls, who play insanely fast garage rock/punk. The song’s lyrics were written as a tribute to their dear friend’s mischievous ways and desire to “just let go of worries about the future, buy as much good beer as we wanted.” They go on to say that Semin’s jokes and tastes were like those in a B movie with a Type-B personality, “so we stuck the name B Lover on the song.”  While both songs possess an understandably wistful air, the material is incredibly self-assured and is a unique take on a familiar and beloved sound.

 

 

 

OBJECT AS SUBJECT is a Los Angeles, CA-based art punk band initially formed as a solo project by Tucson, AZ-born, Los Angeles-based, classically trained violinist, turned punk rocker Paris Hurley (vocals, drums, dance, composition) responding to the rampant sexism and misogyny she experienced while on the road with Balkan punk/metal act Kultur Shock. Hurley is among a handful of incredibly accomplished musicians I’ve written about throughout the years — at 16 she made her Carnegie Hall debut; and shortly after relocating to Seattle in 2003, she found her way into formative decade long collaborations with acclaimed composer and arranged Jherek Bischoff and experimental dance theater collective Degenerative Art Ensemble.

After an 8 year stint with Kultur Shock, Hurley relocated to Los Angeles, where she began assembling OBJECT AS SUBJECT’S current lineup, which includes Emilia “Pony Sweat” Richeson (dance, drums, vocals), Sorority‘s Gina Young (bass, vocals), Tales Between Our Legs’ Megan Fowler-Hurst (dance, drums, vocals) and Hole‘s Patty Schemel (drums).  The band works collaboratively under Hurley’s direction, flushing out hyper-specific, detailed songwriting with the personality of each performer.

The Los Angeles-based art punk act’s full-length debut PERMISSION is slated for a release this Friday through Lost Future Records, and the album’s latest single “Pom Pom Moves” is a furious, blistering, feminist anthem that’s full of righteous outrage and indignation — and while being completely of the sociopolitical moment, the song which is influenced by Hurley’s experiences on the road was written several years before the #metoo and #timesup movements. As Hurley explains:

“I wrote this song in my late 20’s. It came out as a single flood of words written down one day in the tour van with Kultur Shock, before Trump even running for office was part of our collective reality, something like 7 years into an 8 year stint of spending months at a time on the road in Europe, completely inundated by sexism + misogyny. From dudes acting as if I were about to touch an open flame anytime I got near a piece of gear, “No, no, no, no! Don’t touch that! I’ll get it! I’ve got it! It’s not safe for you. Let me show you how it’s done,” to guys grabbing my body and handling me like property in attempts to take photos with me as I walked through a venue, to endless marriage proposals from complete strangers, to hyper-sexualized comments about me and my performances that ignored my role in the band as a fucking fierce musician, to the seething glares of hatred from men at the market, to the unrelenting assumption that I must be the girlfriend of the men I was traveling with, to not feeling safe walking by myself after shows, to inescapably boring and incessant talk about pussy – either getting some, having gotten some, or about how if you didn’t drink enough alcohol or lift heavy shit by yourself, you were one – I was surrounded.

One night after a show in Belgium, a guy asked to see my ‘pom pom moves.’ He felt entitled to his own private show, emboldened by the presence of a group of laughing friends surrounding me, miming the movements he wanted me to do in the air above his head, hips swinging. I think what he really wanted was to see my armpit hair up close. There was that guy at the outdoor festival in Croatia who chanted, ‘Show us your boobs,’ on repeat as I took the stage, the guy in the front row of that show in Serbia who stuck his camera up my skirt while I was on stage performing, oh and the Bosnian border patrol officer who looked through my entire suitcase thing by thing, handling my underwear and vibrator while we were locked in a room together with his gun.

Pom Pom Moves is the telling of these stories – my stories – and the transformation from fear + shame to power that came with owning + voicing them.”

Now, throughout this site’s 8 year history, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for his solo electro pop/dream pop recording project Summer Heart. And as you may recall, Alexander has received attention both nationally and internationally for being among the first wave of Sweden’s contemporary electro pop and dream pop movement along with the likes of MoonbabiesThe Land BelowHey ElbowBlind Lake and Emerald Park, as well as for a sound that has been compared to CaribouWashed OutIn Ghost Colours-era Cut CopyPainted Palms and others.

With 12 Songs of Summer, Alexander adds his name to an increasing number of artists, who have adopted a single of the month series over the past couple of years. In the blogosphere age, single of the month series manage to make much quite a bit of sense creatively, financially and marketing-wise. Creatively, the artist isn’t constrained by the pressure of writing material within a cohesive style or theme in mind, as they (potentially) would have to do if they were working on an EP or a full-length album. Financially speaking, independent artists, who are most likely struggling to find ways to fund their efforts to record, tour and promote their work can put out material quickly, ensuring that the artist can receive some sort of attention outside of the album cycle. As Alexander explained in press notes, “The idea behind this project is to show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case when you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”

“Subside,” the 7th and latest single in the 12 Songs of Summer series finds Alexander collaborating with Toronto-based artist KYLO, who contributes ethereal yet soulful vocals drenched in copious reverb to a lush and shimmering production centered around finger snap-led percussion, stuttering synth arpeggios, shuffling beats and an infectious hook to create a radio friendly, club banger that evokes balmy summer nights, of evening faces, dance floors and strobe lights — and interestingly enough the song brings Within and Without and Paracosm-era Washed Out.

As Alexander recalls, I met K¥LO in Toronto a couple of years ago. We played a show together and since then we’ve stayed in touch and also vaguely talked about making something together at some point.

Back in April, I was sitting on the floor in my friend Alex’s apartment in the East Village playing around with Logic X on my laptop. I was feeling super inspired; I got this song going and quickly decided I wanted to collaborate with someone on it. K¥LO was the first person I had in mind and so I sent the roughest demo ever to her.

To me this song is about someone’s bad habits, and about not being able to concentrate and focus and taking the easy way out.”

KYLO adds, “The lyrics to ‘Subside’ were inspired by a time in my life when I was going through a lot of changes. I was getting used to living without someone I had been with for a long time and battling the loneliness that came with that change. Summer Heart is someone I’ve wanted to collaborate with for a long time; I think that as a producer he’s managed to reflect the message within the lyrics on the track.”

New Video: Kind of Rider’s Elegiac and Atmospheric Ode to Loss and Hope

Initially formed in  Tulsa, OK, the indie act No Kind of Rider, which is comprised of  Sam Alexander, Wes Johnson, Jeremy Louis, Joe Page and Jon Van Patten has developed a reputation for a genre-defying sound that draws from indie rock, shoegaze, R&B, indie rock and electro pop. Currently, the band has members split between Portland, OR and Brooklyn but before that the members of the band spent several years writing, playing an hustling hard, hoping for a moment. “Working like that can break your heart,” the band’s frontman Sam Alexander says in a lengthy statement written by him and his bandmates.

Interestingly, the Portland and Brooklyn-based act’s recently released full-length debut Savage Coast draws from several years of difficult, life-altering experiences. As the band says, “there are things we have been during to say, and this record is a release emotionally for us. Both musically and lyrically we focus on ‘change’ a lot in this record.We use as many synthesizers and electronic samples as we do guitars and drums.  We want the listener to both feel comfortable and continuously be surprised.”  In fact, that sense of change throughout the album was inspired by the life altering transitions within the individual band member’s personal lives: Joe Page’s father suddenly died two years before the band entered the studio to write and record the material that would eventually comprise their full-length debut. And as Sam Alexander notes, the year that Page’s father died, was the same year he had gotten married. This was followed by the sudden death of Wes Johnson’s father, Jon Van Patten’s relocation to Brooklyn and Alexander’s own father suffering a stroke. “There’s been so may times in the last few years where I got stuck in my head: ‘Do other artists go through all this while making a record? Is this some kind of curse?’ For a long time I used to think of music as my path out of a difficult reality. I don’t anymore. Now, writing music is what keeps me rooted in my reality, it’s what lets me live with more presence and attention,” Alexander says.

“This isn’t a concept album,” Alexander and his bandmates continues. “But it does tell a story. We want the listener to uncover that story for themselves. However, a part of it is our story. Our loves, our friendships, our triumph, our losses. The story wouldn’t have happened without our move from Oklahoma to Oregon. We slept on friends floors and rehearsed in basements. I have over 300 hours of voice memos from our rehearsals down there!  Even though we recorded at incredible studios with talented friends, when I listen: I somehow still hear us in that moldy basement. I still hear the first time we pulled over on hwy 101 and saw the jagged wounds of the Pacific coastline.  Creatively, Joe actually drove out to Haystack Rock on the coast with a tape recorded – he designed new sounds and he embedded them into the tracks, so some of that is the actual article.  Most of it is just in the way that the music feels to me.” Unsurprisingly, the album thematically deals with loss, frustration and resiliency through love, friendship and music and of holding on to hope in the most difficult of times. Certainly, while deeply personal, the album will resonate on a universal and personal level to the listener, especially through the transitions that come about as we get older, and in these increasingly desperate and frightening times. From personal experience, I’ve learned that sometimes when things are so unmooring, so painfully difficult, so utterly confusing and uncertain that all anyone can cling to is the small things, the tiny and fleeting joys of life — a kind word or a smile shared among friends, the touch of a lover, the simple presence of a beloved family member, your favorite album, the thin soup of hope that sustains you for another few moments or a few days.

Last month, I wrote about “Sophia,” a song that Alexander noted was recored with the quintet facing each other and playing in the same room, and much like The Verve‘s Urban Hymns, there’s a vital and urgent “you-are-there-in-the-room” feel to the song while sonically the song — to my ears at least — brought JOVM mainstays TV on the Radio and The Veldt to mind. The album’s latest single “Autumn” is an elegiac and atmospheric track centered around a production featuring fuzzily distorted boom bap-like beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, equally shimmering guitar chords and Alexander’s plaintive vocals — all of which evoke the ache of loss, the recognition of its permanence, and the hope that there’s something better beyond this mortal realm. 

Directed by Parker Hill, the recently released video for the song is a cinematic and hallucinogenic fever dream full of the familiar lingering ghosts of regret, of things unsaid that should have been said, of time’s endless passing as it follows the band’s lead singer dealing with the loss of a loved one as he returns to a familiar place without him — and throughout there’s the palpable sense that one can never really return home. As the video’s director says in a statement:

“When I first heard Autumn, I immediately felt the song’s sense of complex loss and the possibility of renewal.  We wanted the video to reflect a person’s experiences before they let themselves begin grieving.

It was a dream to shoot with No Kind of Rider in their home city of Portland, OR because I knew the vast and almost eerie pacific northwest setting would help communicate much of the story we wanted to tell.

We crafted the video to be about Sam’s (lead singer) journey of saying goodbye to a loved one as he returns to a familiar place, alone for the first time.

Shooting on the foggy roads leading out to the coast, flanked by looming evergreen trees, we captured Sam amidst a cathartic release as he arrives at the monumental Canon Beach.  The sheer magnitude of nature that he is set against only further reveals the size of his loss.”