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.

New Video: Introducing the Dark and Atmospheric Sounds and Visuals of Brooklyn’s Linda Gardens

Linda Gardens is an up-and-coming, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and indie electro pop artist, who has started to receive attention across the blogosphere for an ethereal sound that meshes elements of dream pop electronica, psych rock and goth rock. Garden’s forthcoming EP Real Time is slated for release this summer through Liquorice Tapes. The EP’s single “Tubular Steel” is centered around an atmospheric production featuring shimmering synths and industrial-like drum programming paired with an infectious, razor sharp hook and Gardens’ etheral vocals — and in some way, the single feels and sounds like an uncanny synthesis of classic 4AD Records-era dream pop, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, and Kate Bush. 

Directed by Dan Foley, the recently released video for “Tubular Steel” is a moody yet feverish and lysergic dream that stars Gardens walking through a dark and smoke-filled room, lit in neon. At points, the visuals become kaleidoscopic with the visuals exploding into bursts of wild colors — while moving to the industrial-like beats.

Advertisements

Centered around the friendship and collaboration between its found members — Steven van Betten (vocals, guitar), Gregory Uhlmann (guitar, vocals), Marcus Hogsta (bass) and The Americans’ and HAIM’s Tim Carr (drums), the Los Angeles-based art rock/post-punk act Fell Runner has developed a reputation for a unique take on guitar rock. Imbued with a literary sensibility, the band pairs vibrant vocal harmonies and expressive polyrhythms influenced from their studies with Ghanian drum master Alfred Ledzekpo with an urgent and uninhibited air that comes from the improvisational nature of much of their work.

The Los Angeles-based band’s recently released sophomore album Talking finds the band branching out a bit from their initial influences, while crafting material that thematically touch upon themes of frustrated communication, failed language and dealing with one’s own shortcomings. Tracked live to tape in Tim Carr’s bedroom, the album also finds the band attempting to accurately capture the spontaneity and improvisational nature of their live sets.  Talking‘s latest single “Same Way” is centered around a breezy, tropical-influenced arrangement centered around fluttering electronics, propulsive polyrhythm, a sinuous bass line and angular bursts of guitar — and while bearing an uncanny resemblance to Omega La La-era Rubblebucket, the song possesses a breakneck, improvisational quality in which after repeated listens, you feel that you can’t quite predict where the musicians will go next. Honestly, it’s one of more unusual and exciting indie rock songs I’ve heard in several months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deriving their name from the address of a ramshackle house inhabited by several of the bandmates in their formative years, the members of Austin, TX-based indie rock Duncan Fellows — dual frontmen Colin Harman (vocals, guitar) and Cullen Trevino (vocals, guitar) along with Jack Malonis (keys backing vocals, guitar), Tim Hagen (drums) and David Stimson (bass) — traded their previous life of piling into various bedrooms for piling into a tour van in their mid-20s, centered by a shared sense of adventure. Interestingly, with the release of two EPs and a full-length album — 2013’s Twelve Months Older EP, 2015’s Marrow EP and 2017’s Both Sides of the Ceiling, which featured the attention grabbing single “Fresh Squeezed” — the band emerged into the national scene. That shouldn’t be surprising, as the band’s work explores multiple vibes, feelings, tempos and perspectives — and frequently within the same song.
Slated for a July 24, 2019 release through Warner Records’ new distribution channel Level Music, the Austin-based indie rock act’s forthcoming Eyelids Shut EP reportedly finds the the band exploring the dynamic sonic balance while concurrently toeing a similar line in their own lives. “We tend towards the deeper stuff you have to chew on longer,” Harman says. “Our tendency is to sing about the more difficult things we encounter in life, and as we’ve gotten older we’ve experienced heavy things that have added more serious layers to what we do. But at the same time our most popular song is largely about waking up and making breakfast. We definitely talk about straddling that line.”
Reportedly, the EP’s four songs thematically and sonically touch upon loss, reflection and how getting older lends a deeper  perspective on both. “As you get older, your perspective on things like loss changes but you still live with everything that’s happened to you,” Trevino says. “Be it the loss of a person, or even the loss of a version of a person,” Harman adds. “Death is definitely a part of it, but change and a part of someone being lost is something we are singing about as well.” Malonis adds, “I also resonate with losing a version of yourself, how as you’re experiencing these losses you’re losing the more naive parts of yourself. A lot of it lines up with the theme of our first album: becoming an adult and growing wise to the ills and parts of the world that aren’t so pretty.”
Eyelids Shut‘s latest single “Cursive Tattoo” finds the band seamlessly jumping and from anthemic power-chord rock, twangy, Southern fried rock and New Wave-like indie rock within an expansive, trippy yet breakneck song structure held together by anthemic hooks and a swinging rhythm. The song is underpinned by a bitter and awkward confusion that can only come from an unsettling and equally confusing longtime relationship. “I got the name ‘Cursive Tattoo’ from actually looking at the tattoo of my name on my partner’s arm,” Harman says in press notes. “It was in the middle of one of those moments that feels very distanced relationally, like you can’t find the other person and they can’t find you. Those moments feel really jarring and insurmountable while you’re in them and that is what cursive tattoo is about, the feeling, and the physical spaces surrounding it. Much like getting a tattoo, this song is about the wild ride of a permanent commitment. Tim really smashed the cans on this one – guiding us rhythmically handicapped members between straight and swung. Cullen naturally sprinkling some sweet sweet piano over the chorus in a few breezy improv takes. Dave providing sincerity as he does. Myself providing one quarter of the lead chorus lick but zero quarters of the skill to perform it. Jack executed on this endeavor. A true collaboration.”

 

 

With the release of the first two singles “Shambhala” and “Darts,” the up-and-coming Dublin, Ireland-based experimental rock/psych rock sextet Fat Pablo quickly emerged into their homeland’s busy music scene, essentially carving a new musical niche for themselves with a sound that some have described as recalling Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Grizzly Bear.

Fat Pablo’s latest single “Ganki” is a gauzy and woozy bit of psychedelia centered around a propulsive bass line, layers of shimmering guitars within an expansive song structure that finds the band carefully walking a tightrope between anthemic urgency and slow-burning pensiveness in a way that reminds me of JOVM mainstays Caveman. “Ganki took a good while for us to write. We went back to the drawing board a few times with this one as it was tough to merge the urgency at the beginning of the song with the mellowness of the latter half,” the band explains in press notes. “We think we’ve found a nice balance where you get the best of both worlds. We try not to act as a one trick pony, but rather an acre of unicorns.”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Here Lies Man Releases a Cinematic and Lysergic Single

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite  bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based JOVM mainstays Here Lies Man, and as you may recall, the act which was founded by Marcos Garcia and Geoff Man has received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that seamlessly bridges Fela Kuti Afrobeat grooves with classic Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin-era, power chord-fueled rock.  

The Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstay’s sophomore album, last year’s You Will Know Nothing found the band refining and expanding their sound. “We’re very conscious of how the rhythms service the riffs. Tony Iommi’s innovation was to make the riff the organizing principle of a song,” the band’s Marcos Garcia explained in press notes. “We are talking the same approach but employing a different organizing principle: For Iommi, it was the blues, for us to comes directly from Africa.” The album also found the band focusing on writing catchier, much more anthemic songs with thematically conceptualized lyrics focusing on states of being and consciousness. Additionally, they aimed for slicker production values than its predecessor. “We wanted to go deeper with the sonic experience. Even though it sounds more hi-fi than the first record, it was important that it didn’t sound too polished,” Garcia added. 

Sonically, the material was composed with music theory in mind — interludes between songs were written and recorded with them specifically being 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the tempo of the song proceeding it. “The reason it breaks down to 2 over 3 or 3 over 4 is that everything in the music rhythmically corresponds to a set of mathematical algorithms known as the clave. The clave is an ancient organizing rhythmic principle developed in Africa,” Here Lies Man’s Geoff Mann explains in press notes. 

Slated for an August 16, 2019 release through RidingEasy Records, the forthcoming mini-album No Ground to Walk Upon finds the band continuing the aesthetic they’ve developed through their first two albums but conceptually the material is essentially the soundtrack to an imaginary movie with each song being the score for a key scene of that movie. The mini-album’s swaggering and strutting, first single “Clad in Silver”  is centered around buzzing power chords, propulsive Afro-Caribbean rhythms and punchily delivered lyrics within an expansive, hallucinogenic song structure. As the band explains in press notes, the mini-album’s lead single “is the soundtrack snippet of a  journey to the imaginary place called home, which can never be arrived at. With every step, the character imagines getting closer, bu it is a hallucination that fades in and out of perception.” 

New Video: Montreal’s Planet Giza Release a Lysergic Visual for “Ace Boogie Energy”

Up-and-coming Montreal-based hip-hop and production trio Planet Giza — comprised of Rami B, Tony Stone and Dumix — have released a series of efforts over the last couple of years, including last year’s ZZZ EP. Sonically, the trio effortlessly meshes elements of hip-hip, soul and funk into a unique sound that clearly nods to the past, but with a look towards the future, all while reflecting their multi-cultural backgrounds. Naturally, the trio cite the diversity of their hometown, as well as their widely-varying musical influences that inlaced Lil Boosie, Madlib, Roy Ayers, Michael Jackson and others. And as a result some critics have said that their sound easily sits with contemporaries such as The Internet, Kaytranada (who they collaborated with on “Domina”) and Godlink. 

The Montreal hip hop and production trio’s latest effort, the recently released Added Sugar is reportedly the trio’s most versatile release to date, as the material finds the members of Planet Giza crafting an effortlessly meshing elements of R&B, electro pop, hip-hop and others into a sleek and lushly texture sound paired with dexterous and perfectly delivered bars. Additionally, the Canadian hip-hop and production trio collaborate with Mick Jenkins and Kaytranada, who co-produced a track on the effort. (The trio also produced Goldlink’s “Ridd,” which the artist performed earlier this week on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.) 

Added Sugar’s latest single “Ace Boogie Energy” is centered around a lush, sleek and incredibly hyper modern production featuring shimmering and atmospheric synths, stuttering hi-hat, tweeter and woofer rocking low end paired with emcees ruthlessly rhyming about  hustling and taking over the industry. The Touchemoipas-directed visual is partially inspired by “Paid In Full” but with a subtly  lysergic air. 

New Audio: Daptone Records Release an All-Star Collaboration to Celebrate Their 100th 45RPM Single

The renowned indie soul label Daptone Records was founded back in 2001 when its founders, Gabriel Roth and Neal Sugarman wanted to build a new home for their bands’ respective releases after Desco Records folded. Shortly, after label’s founding, Roth, Sugarman, Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones and a collection of artists found an unassuming, beaten up, two family 19th Century brownstone in Bushwick, Brooklyn that would eventually become the home to their new label and their famed House of Soul Studios. And through the release of 50 full-length albums and about 100 singles on 45RPM, the Brooklyn-based soul label built a globally recognized reputation for its discerning tastes and uncompromising standards of quality, realizing exceptionally well-crafted and thoughtful soul records, made by a close family of musicians, who share a common musical philosophy, vocabulary and integrity. 

Since their formation, the label has sold over a million records from their roster of artists including JOVM mainstays Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, The Budos Band, Antibalas, Menahan Street Band, The Sugarman 3 and Naomi Shelton. Although many of the label’s artists have never quite achieved mainstream pop status, the label’s roster have managed to influence artists and labels around the world, including the likes of Amy Winehouse, who worked with The Dap Kings on her seminal album Back to Black, as well as Mark Ronson and Jay-Z, who have tapped the label’s sound for some of their biggest hits. 

Daptone’s 100th 45RPM release is slated for a June 28, 2019 release. And interestingly, the  A-side single “Hey Brother,” which is credited to the Daptone Family features a a historic and unprecedented collaboration of the label’s roster of incredible talent, including the late and beloved monarchs of the soul, Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones, as well as Saun & Starr, The Frightnrs, James Hunter, Naomi Shelton, Amayo and Lee Fields performing together for the first and only time on record. The single finds each of those artists singing a powerful and much-needed message of righteousness and brotherhood over a What’s Going On Marvin Gaye-era like groove played by members of The Dap Kings and Menahan Street Band. 

Written and recorded by The Frightnrs, “Hey Brother (Do Unto Others)” initially appeared on their acclaimed full-length debut, Nothing More to Say. With the band’s Dan Klein tragic death from ALS just before the album’s release, the label and its artists felt it would be both a thank you to the label’s deeply devoted fans and a fitting tribute to Klein to re-imagine the track as a soulful, All-Star team-like collaboration. Sadly, in the aftermath of the deaths of Charles Bradley, Dan Klein, Cliff Driver and Sharon Jones, the single has become a meditative and loving tribute to all of the artists they’ve lost in a tremendously short period of time. 

“Everybody seemed to really love the idea of being together on a record like that,” Gabriel Roth recently told Billboard. “Every one of those singers that I asked, after I explained what we were trying to do. they really jumped through hoops to try to make it happen.” 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Aussie Singer/Songwriter Gena Rose Bruce Releases a Surreal and Vulnerable Visual for “I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You”

Earlier this year, you may have come across a post on Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Gena Rose Bruce. And as you may recall, her highly-anticipated Tim Harvey-produced, full-length debut Can’t Make You Love Me is slated for a June 28, 2019 release through Dot Dash Records took three years to write and record — and it features a notable guest spot from multi-instrumentalist Jade Imagine, who plays bass and guitar on the album. 

Fans have received glimpses of the album’s material with its first two singles “Coming Down” and “The Way You Make Love” being released independently last year. The album’s fourth single “Rearview” was the second single that Dot Dash has released this year, and the track was centered by a sparse arrangement of atmospheric synths, shimmering guitars, propulsive and pulsating drumming and a smoldering vocal performance, imbued with longing. And while bearing an uncanny resemblance to Mazzy Star and JOVM mainstays Still Corners, the song as Bruce explained in press notes “is a conversation I could never have with this person, it’s about accepting failed love. I was angry at the time but I didn’t have the energy to stay angry or feel sorry for myself.”

The album’s fifth and latest single, the slow-burning, “I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” features what may arguably be the most sparse, atmospheric arrangement on the entire album — shimmering and jangling guitar lines, a simple yet propulsive rhythm second paired with a breathy and achingly vulnerable vocal performance by Bruce. Unsurprisingly, the song manages to evoke someone haunted by the lingering memories and ghosts of a lover that they can’t seem to let go. And in some way, the song’s narrator acknowledges that maybe they don’t want to get over this relationship either. 

“We wanted to create a meditative, surrealist-inspired video for this song,” Bruce says of the Katie Adams directed visual for the song, “The imagery hints at the concept of being buried, in this case by the thoughts or memories of someone you can’t let go of. It’s quite a personal song, so we felt it was important to include the lyrics – kind of like a scrawled letter where all vulnerability is revealed. Everything this song is about is captured in the opening lines; “I don’t think I’ll ever get over you. I don’t think I’ll ever really want too”. (But eventually, of course, I did.)”