Author: William Ruben Helms

I'm a music blogger, critic and photographer, who has had articles and photos published in 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.

Comprised of founding members Ryan Walker (guitar) and Alex Hartman (bass) along with Suki San (vocals), the Los Angeles, CA-based post-punk trio Second Still initially formed when its founding duo met in 2007. Fast forward to 2011, and the duo relocated to New York — and at that point, they had written and recorded over 100 instrumental demos, which were inspired by French coldwave and No Wave. Walker and Hartman spent a great deal of time searching high and low for a vocalist that they felt could match their intensity and creative output. And as the story goes, when they met Suki San, the newly constituted trio felt an immediate connection.

Second Still’s first show was an infamous party at the now-condemned McKibbin Street Lofts that was shut down by the police during the band’s second song. Building upon the buzz of that incident, the band recorded their debut EP, Early Forms as a limited edition cassette, which quickly sold out. Making the most of their time, the members of the trio wrote and recorded the material that eventually comprised their 2017 self-titled, full-length debut — and from singles “Walls,” “Recover,” “You Two So Alike,” and “Strangers,” the album’s material thematically focused on decidedly post-modern subjects: depression, frustration, anxiety and alienation among a throbbing, seething mass of humanity, with a visceral emotionality while sonically drawing from Sixousie and the Banshees.

Equals, the Los Angeles-based post punk trio’s much-anticipated follow-up EP finds the band expanding upon their sound, pushing it towards new directions — while retaining some of the early elements that first caught the attention of the blogosphere and elsewhere. You’ll see hear the chorus and delay pedal effected guitar, sinuous bass-driven grooves and industrial-like drum machine beats paired with ethereal vocals and infectious, razor sharp hooks; however, the members of the band have begun employing the use of a couple of analog synthesizers, which adds an atmospheric element to their sound. Additionally, roughly half of the EP’s material (the A side) reportedly finds he band exploring a decidedly pop-orientated, lighter sound while the other half (the B side) find site band hewing towards the melancholy and gloomy roots. The EP’s latest single “Opening” is a decidedly melancholy, post-punk track that features the shimmering, chorus and delay pedal effected guitar lines, sinuous bass lines, industrial-like drum programming and ethereal vocals — and while further cementing their reputation for a sound heavily indebted to Siouxsie and the Banshees, with a gritty and visceral emotionality that belies its clean, modern production sheen.

 

Behad Netjabakshe is a Paris, France-based electronic music producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist, best known as Uppermost, who has developed an internationally recognized profile through the release of material through renowned labels like  Sony BMGMinistry of SoundBugEyed RecordsStarlight Records and his own Uppwind Records; in fact,  singles like “Equivocal” landed at #3 back in 2009 and his Biscuit Factory EP landed at #1 on the JunoDownload electro-house charts. Additionally, Netjabakshe has received attention for his remixes of  Daft Punkdeadmau5BurialCrystal CastlesJonathan CoultonSyl JohnsonCongorock and others — and he’s had his work playlist by a number of superstar producers and artists including  TiestoArmin van Buren and Steve Angello.

The Parisian producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist released a comprehensive compilation, Origins 2011-2016, which featured some of Netjabakshe’s most popular tunes, including “Flashback,” “Beautiful Light,” “Reminder” and “Mistakes,” as well as new, original material including the shimmering and anthemic M83-channeling singles “Thousand Colors,” and “Emotion,” the Pink Floyd-channeling,  cinematic “Reminder,” the 45:33 and Sound of Silver-era LCD Soundsystem-leaning “Alive,” and a lush, cinematic rendition of “Constellation” performed with members of the Paris Symphonic Orchestra.

Netjabakshe’s latest effort Perseverance is slated for a March 23, 2018 release and the album, which reportedly features some of the most personal and impassioned material he has released to date, finds the Parisian producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist collaborating with vocalists with backgrounds in folk, hip-hop and pop — all while retaining the swooning and earnest emotionality that has won him international attention. Interestingly, Perseverance‘s latest single  “Atoms” is a hazy and anthemic track that features chilly and shimmering, arpeggiated analog synths, twinkling and a motorik-like groove; however, Birsen’s gossamer-like crooning that gives the song its nostalgic punch and its aching humanity, as the song’s lyrics point out our vulnerability and smallness in the face of an immense universe, but perhaps more important, our inherent connection to it.

 

 

Like countless other musicians, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Knox White relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a music career — and to support himself, White began working as a bartender. In a serendipitous turn of fate, Lionel Ritchie was one of his regulars, and after some time, Ritchie became a kind of mentor to the aspiring musician, giving advice and sharing stories about being on the road. The one thing that struck a deep chord with White was when Ritchie told him “Don’t sell your soul to the devil to get success in the music business. Stay humble and treat everyone like they are your friend.” On another night, Paul McCartney stopped by, and McCartney told him stories about The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Towards the end of the night, McCartney told him that a musician with an incredible live show is a musician with super powers, and the legendary Beatle told him, “Get amazing first, and everything else will fall into place.”

Eventually, White relocated to New Orleans, arguably one of the country’s richest musical environments — and unsurprisingly, he immersed himself in the city’s music scene, playing everything from gospel to jazz; in fact, as the story goes, White was immediately hired to play guitar at the Household of Faith Church, playing alongside some incredibly accomplished musicians, who took him under his wing, introduced him to other musicians, which lead to ton of gigs.  He found himself playing at clubs across the city playing and mastering gospel, blues, calypso, jazz and contemporary fare until the early morning. And naturally, while exhausting, White felt reinvigorated, returned to Los Angeles, where he began collaborating with producer Josh Legg, best known as Goldroom, and began writing fusing the skills and knowledge he gained while in the Crescent City and his influences — Prince, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix and Tame Impala.

White’s self-titled, debut EP is slated for release in July, and the EP’s first single “You’ve Been My Girl” is a sleek and slickly produced track that owes a tremendous debt to 80s synth funk  (i.e., Oran “Juice” Jones‘ “The Rain,” Cherelle’s “Saturday Love” and others) and Prince, thanks to some impressive guitar pyrotechnics throughout; but interestingly the song finds the narrator calling out a love interest for being indecisive and playing with his emotions. Certainly, we’ve all been there before.

 

New Video: Swedish-born Multi-Instrumentalist and Electronic Music Artist Thornato Connects New York and Ghana In Visuals for Club-Banging New Single “Back It Up”

Thor Partridge is a Swedish-born Cypriot, whose mother encouraged his interest in music at a very young age; in fact, it was common to hear traditional Greek, African and Caribbean music in his home. As the story goes, Partridge’s family relocated to New York when he was a child, and he eventually studied classical piano, jazz guitar and bluegrass banjo. Partridge quickly showed a penchant and interest in production and remixing, when he found that he couldn’t help tinkering with classical piano arrangements. 

As an electronic music artist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, who writes, records and performs as Thornato, Partridge quickly received international attention with the release of 2016’s groundbreaking, electronic music/drum ‘n’ bass EP Things Will Change. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Partidge’s full-length album Bennu found the up-and-coming multi-instrumentalist becoming a go-to collaborator and producer, contributing to Bollywood scores, as well as playing clubs across the globe. 

Friday will mark the release of the Swedish Cypriot’s latest EP Back It Up and the EP’s latest single, title track “Back It Up,” finds the up-and-coming producer, collaborating with Ghanian vocalist  Zongo Abongo in a song that lovingly draws from the sounds of the African Diaspora as the song draws from several distinct genres and styles, including 90s Jamaican dancehall, Afro-pop, Champeta, and Dembow in a way that’s simultaneously seamless yet nostalgic, anachronistic yet incredibly post-modern — and perhaps most important of all, the song manages to be a breezy and infectious club banger with quite a bit of thump. 

Directed by Justin Conte, the video features Ghanian vocalist Zongo Abongo and dancer Soraya Lundy connecting across the Atlantic Ocean with a bright orange landline phone, essentially sharing a sensual dance between New York and Accra. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the past month or so, you’ve likely come across a couple of posts featuring  Sydney, Australia-born, Los Angeles-based duo VOWWS. And with the release of 2015’s debut effort, The Great Sun, the Sydney-born, Los Angeles-based duo received attention for a sound that drew from a diverse array of influences including classic Western, electronica, surf rock, metal, post-punk and industrial rock. The duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort Under the World continues their ongoing collaboration with longtime friend, mentor, the renowned engineer and producer Kevin S. McMahon — and the album reportedly find the duo eschewing much of the familiar post-punk tropes of their previously released material, and focusing on razor sharp hooks, direct vocals and richer, more nuanced textures.

Forget Your Finery” was an 80s New Wave-inspired track that featured a deliberate attention to melodicism and to infectious, arena rock friendly hooks while “ESSSEFF” was an industrial-like track that nodded at Depeche Mode‘s “Policy of Truth” and U2′s “Mysterious Ways” — and much like its immediate predecessor, it found the duo continuing with a deliberate attention to razor sharp and rousingly anthemic hooks. “Structure of Love,” Under the World‘s latest single is a a decidedly gothic-leaning track with an industrial thump, angular bass chords and the continued emphasis on arena rock friendly hooks. Interestingly, the new track also manages to be among their cinematic and soundtrack worthy track off the forthcoming album.

VOWWS’ sophomore effort is slated for a March 2, 2018 release through the band’s own Anti-Language Records, and throughout the mid-March and early April, the Sydney, Australia-born, Los Angeles, CA-based duo will be embarking on a North American tour that will include a March 22, 2018 stop at Saint Vitus. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates 

3.19 – 529 – Atlanta, GA
3.20 – Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
3.22 – Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY
3.23 – Meatlocker – Montclair, NJ
3.24 – Geno’s – Portland, ME
3.25 – Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
3.26 – Cafe Nine – New Haven, CT
3.27 – O’Brien’s – Boston, MA
3.28 – Casa Del Popolo – Montreal
3.29 – Coalition – Toronto
3.30 – Now That’s Class – Cleveland, OH *
3.31 – Deluxx Fluxx – Detroit, MI *
4.1 – Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL *
4.3 – Reverb Lounge – Omaha, NE *
4.4 – Hi Dive – Denver, CO *
4.5 – Metro Music Hall – Salt Lake City, UT *
4.6 – Neurolux – Boise, ID *
4.7 – Barboza – Seattle, WA *
4.8 – Tonic Lounge – Portland, OR *
4.10 – Old Nick’s – Eugene, OR *

* w/ Soft Kill and Choir Boy

Last year, the Swiss-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sam Himself received attention with the 2017 release of his genre-defying EP Songs in D, an effort that featured Americana-inspired torch songs centered around his bluesy, whiskey and cigarettes-tinged vocals.  Now, as you may recall, I wrote about “Out of Love,” an old-fashioned and slow-burning duet featuring denetia and sene‘s denetia that seemed to nod at Johnny Cash‘s and June Carter Cash‘s “If I Were a Carpenter” — but with a subtle twist, as the song according to the Swiss-born, New York-based artist “is a desperate promise to keep a lover from leaving.”

The Swiss-born, New York-based singer/songwriter’s latest single is an 80s synth and guitar-based track that nods at Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born to Run” “Born in the USA,” and “Glory Days” and Caveman‘s self-titled album, complete with rousingly anthemic, fist raising hooks; but interestingly, the song is centered around Sam Himself’s experience of arriving to New York and recognizing that “nobody has been waiting for you here. The apple is pretty big without you, and unless you come up with a pretty good reason, New York doesn’t care. ‘Nobody’ is about that crushing, eye-opening and ultimately liberating experience.”

Sam Himself has a set tonight at Baby’s All Right.

 

 

New Video: Falcon Jane’s Shimmering and Slow-burning Anthem for Anxious People

Comprised of Sara May, Andrew McArthur, Branson Giles, Racquel Hardy, and Jason Kuschmierz, the Orangeville, Ontario-based indie rock sextet Falcon Jane specialize in what they’ve dubbed “plez rock,” music that’s inspired by nature, truth, peace, magic, life and death and so on. The Canadian indie rock sextet’s third, full-length album Feelin’ Freaky is slated for release this summer, and the album’s first single “Go With The Flow” is a shimmering and slow-burning Mazzy Star-like anthem for anxious people to slow it down and to — well, go with the flow. 
The recently released video was directed, produced and edited by the band’s Sara May and features May chilling in her small, Ontario hometown doing things that make her feel relaxed — and the visuals further emphasize the laid-back vibes of the song. 

New Video: The Cinematic and Surreal Visuals for Oddnesse’s Sultry “Are You Down”

Comprised of singer/songwriter Rebeca Arango and producer Grey Goon, the Los Angeles, CA-based indie pop project Oddnesse can trace its origins to when both members independently relocated from the East Coast to Los Angeles haunted by the ghosts of expensive degrees in music, several failed bands and countless gigs at  Cake Shop and others. And as the story goes, Arnago and Goon bonded over a shared vision for infectious and beautiful music with a dark, heavy groove — and initially, they stopped by the studio as two friends jamming and experimenting with ideas before they began to take it as a serious endeavor.

“Are You Down,” the duo’s latest single finds the duo pairing Arango’s self-assured and coquettish crooning with a shimmering Mazzy Star-like production featuring a soaring hook. As Rebeca Arango explained in press notes, “Are You Down,” is her “Pina Colada” song, as “it’s a very confident and laid-back anticipation of my next lover, where I’m getting specific about calling in someone, who can match my energy and approach to life. The question of going ‘slow’ isn’t about romantic pacing per-se (though that is important), it’s more about generally moving slow, never rushing to pack in too much all at once or getting anxious about ‘missing out,’ and preferring to to sink in and explore the depths of all things.”

Directed by Thaddeus Ruzicka, the recently released video for “Are You Down” is a cinematically shot fever dream that subtly draws from old movies and early 80s music videos — and features a protagonist in gorgeous yet somewhat surreal settings.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you would have come across a couple of posts featuring the Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based electronic music artist and indie rock artist Rich Aucoin. Aucoin has spent time as a collaborator and guest musician inches older brother Paul’s band Hylozoists before developing a reputation as an attention grabbing solo artist; in fact, his  2007 debut Personal Publication EP was a concept album designed as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. He supported that effort by going on a cross-Canada tour entirely by bicycle to raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada. After he completed his solo tour, he rejoined Hylozoists on their town; however, because of a sudden shit from regular, strenuous exercise to virtually no exercise, Aucoin eventually suffered through an iron deficiency. Once he recuperated, he went on another solo tour, running partial marathons between stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

During both of his early solo tours, Aucoin spent time writing and recording the material, which would comprise his 2011 full-length effort, We’re All Dying to Live, an album that featured over 500 guest musicians, including Sloan‘s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party‘s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band‘s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. The album was long-listed as a nominee for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize, with the music video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” winning a Prism Prize in 2013. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Aucoin then released his critically applauded, 2014 effort Ephemeral. 

Slated for a March 16, 2018 release, Hold EP is Aucoin’s first batch of new, recorded material in over 4 years, and as you may recall the EP’s first single “Release” featured live drumming from Broken Social Scene‘s Justin Peroff in a sprawling yet propulsive, club banger that draws from house music and boom-bap era hip-hop, centered around laws of arpeggiated synths. The EP’s second single “The Middle” was swooning track that may remind some listeners of M83, as it possessed a soaring hook that evokes an earnest and swooning yearning.

The EP’s latest single “The Fear” continues in a similar vein as its predecessors as it’s a jangling and rousingly anthemic instrumental track consisting of propulsive drumming, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, jangling guitar and chopped up vocal samples — and interestingly enough, the track manages to be a trippy synthesis of club banging electro pop and anthemic indie rock.

Aucoin’s PRESS ON tour to support Hold EP will feature him bicycling from city to city to raise awareness for mental health — with the Canadian artist raising awareness for mental health by bicycling from city to city and donating 100% of the tour proceeds to Mental Health America and The Canadian Mental Health Association. The tour will include an tour opening stop at Brooklyn’s newest venue Elsewhere. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates:
2/27: Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
3/26: Los Angeles, CA @ Bardot
4/6: Phoenix, AZ @ TBA
4/11: Flagstaff, NM @ The Hive
4/19: Albuquerque, NM @ Burt’s Tiki Lounge
4/26: Amarillo, TX @ The 806
5/3: Oklahoma City, OK @ The Root
5/4: Norman, OK @ Opolis
5/11: Little Rock, AR @ TBA
5/16: Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
5/23: Nashville, TN @ TBA
5/31: Knoxville, TN @ Birdhouse
6/20: Washington, DC @ DC9
6/23: Baltimore, MD @ The Crown
6/26: Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA