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

M. Byrd is a German-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalists and producer, who can trace the origins of music career, and his passion for music to when he was small: When Byrd was three, he played drums in front of the TV. Eventually, he found his dad’s guitar. Encouraged by a teacher, he picked up electric guitar and attended countless roots jam sessions at local joints. Influenced by Alice Coltrane, Tom Petty, Elliott Smith and David Lynch, Byrd began writing his own material.

The German-born and-based artist turned heads back in 2020 with the release of “Mountain” and “Morning Sun,” tracks that amassed millions of streams and praise from Ones to Watch, Earmilk, Atwood Magazine and several others while firmly cementing his sound and approach: Byrd’s work pairs intensely personal songwriting with shoegazer textures and pop accessibility.

At the end of 2020, Byrd along with producer Eugen Koop holed up in Detmold, Germany in a WWII-era British Corps squash hall, turned recording studio, where they worked on The Seed, the German artist’s forthcoming, full-length debut, an effort that sees Byrd personally playing guitar, synths and bass. The album’s material reportedly draws you in to inspire your own evolution. As Byrd says ““When you listen to the album, I hope you feel like you can grow with me. Maybe you’ll find confidence in yourself. We’re planting this thought with The Seed.

The German artist’s latest single “Over You/Over Me” features Byrd’s plaintive and balmy vocals floating over a textured, shoegazer-like soundscape paired with a motorik groove and an enormous hook. Much like his previously released work, the new single is rooted in a bright, hopeful sense of the future.

“I dreamt there were snakes all over my apartment,” Byrd recalls. “A snake is a symbol for drastic change in your life and you’re repressing it. There’s a lot of change for  me.  I’m  starting  to  be  a  full-time  musician.  There’s  still  a  pandemic.  I  tried  to  dress  up  this darkness nicely. I talked to a friend who is into interpreting dreams, and she said that snakes in dreams meant that I was going through a profound change in my life. I remembered a quote I once read in an essay by Freud:  ‘A  dream  is  the  liberation  of  the  spirit  from  the  pressure  of  external  nature,  a detachment of the soul from the restraints of matter.”

The Seed is slated for release next year through Nettwerk Music Group.

Boulder, CO-based roots reggae outfit Policulture specializes in music that attempts to bridge the gap between generations and unite all under one sound — heavy drum and bass, roots riddims and a melodic horn section paired with conscious, thought-provoking lyrics. Their last album, 2018’s Mountains to Cross featured the two-step inducing, love song “Heart & Soul,” a song centered around shuffling riddims, an enormous horn line and James Searl’s effortless crooning.

Joel “J. Dubby” Scanlon remixed “Heart & Soul” and turned it into a percussive and dubby bop that retains some of the elements of the original — namely, some of the more powerful lyrics of the original, the roots riddims and the enormous horn section. The J. Dubby remix manages to be a loving tribute to both reggae and dub.

New Video: Atsuko Chiba Shares a Cinematic, Mosh Pit Friendly Ripper

With the release of two albums and a couple of EPs, Montreal-based psych outfit Atusko Chiba — Karim Lakhdar (guitar, vocals, synthesizer), Kevin McDonald (guitar, synthesizer), David Palumbo (bass guitar, vocals), Anthony Piazza (drums) and Erik Schafhauser (guitar, synthesizer) — have developed and honed a reputation for crafting a cohesive and hypnotic blend of post-rock, prog rock and krautrock paired with offbeat, subversive songwriting. 

The members of Atsuko Chiba pair their unique brand of experimental rock with video and light installations trigged in real time by the band, creating an immersive multimedia, multi-sensorial environment. Over the past few years, the band has toured across Canada, the States and Europe, sharing stages with  . . . And You Will Know Us By The Trail of DeadBig BusinessDuchess SaysKing Buffalo, and others. 

Atsuko Chiba’s highly-anticipated third album, Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing is slated for a January 20, 2023 release through Montreal-based purveyors of all things psychedelia, Mothland. The album reportedly finds the Canadian quintet crafting a collection of drone-driven yet bombastic material that may draw comparisons to the likes of The Mars VoltaBeak>and Spirit of the Beehive among others. 

“As opposed to our last album, which was about introspection, spacetime and the personal journey, the themes explored on this new album are related to our environment and our reaction to it,” the members of Atsuko Chiba explain. “Though not meant to be strictly political, our references stem from highly politicized movements and ideas. Division and group ideology are heavily explored. A prime example is the weaponization of vocabulary used to distract, displace and alienate us, forcing us to pick sides on every front. Our lyrics also strongly denote our innate love for all living things, encompassing a hopeful, if somewhat violent, plea for change.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the album’s expansive, slow-burning A Storm in Heaven-meets-Dark Side of the Moon-like “Seeds.” Clocking in at 7:45, the track is centered around lush, glistening synths, swirling guitar riffs, tweeter and woofer rattling boom bap-like drumming paired with heavily distorted vocal harmonies. The single also features a gorgeous contribution from Montreal-based string quartet Quatuor Esca, who perform an arrangement by Gabriel Desjardins. While possessing a sprawling, widescreen atmosphere, “Seeds” evokes a creeping sense of impending uncertainty and doom but with the tacit understanding that perhaps not all is lost — at least not yet. 

Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing‘s second and latest single “Link” is rooted in a chugging and aggressive rhythm section, scorching and blaring alarm-like synths, buzzing poly harmonic guitar lines paired with booming vocals. While sounding a bit like it could have been recorded during the Trace sessions, “Link” is an urgent, mosh pit friendly ripper — with a widescreen, cinematic quality.

“’Link’ is about judgement; how we often tend to judge and belittle others to prop up our own self worth,” the members of Atsuko Chiba explain. “It’s about the lengths we go through to destroy others, while not taking the time to look inside.

Directed by Laurine Jousserand, the accompanying, animated video for “Link” is mind-bending and trippy visual that sees the protagonist become their own enemy. “We wanted to create an evolving picture based on implicit concepts; a metaphorical narrative through contemplative representation,” Jousserand explains. “The challenge became addressing themes such as sterile conflict or false pretense from an internal point of view while using minimal movement. Lyrics and visual elements immerse us within an accusatory monologue, the enemy taking on the form of the narrator, though their identity bears no importance. Nature becomes increasingly uncomfortable, eventually engulfing the subject, stripping them of their humanity until they are quasi-vegetal and ultimately linked to their doubles. These ghost-like twins are hostile yet passive, mimicking their every movement. The final scene takes the rhetoric out of its intimate and personal confines, giving it different identities, expressing a general state of being, a shared reality.”

New Video: Fabien Gravillon Shares a Breezy, Swooning Bop

Paris-born singer/songwriter Fabien Gravillon specializes in Zouk, Kizomba and Afro pop — but in his native France, he may be best known as an actor, who starred in the hit French soap opera Plus belle la vie.

After the release of his debut album through Because Music, Gravillon went to Los Angeles and appeared in several videos by internationally acclaimed artists including Macklemore and Patrick Stump‘s “Summer Days,” Collapsing Scenery and others.

He also participated in several projects filmed at Fox Studios in Hollywood and for The Jim Henson Company. Interestingly enough, inspired by animation and by his experience as a voiceover artist, Gravillon decided that his music videos should be cartoons. . .

“Bonita,” Gravillon’s latest single is sleek and swooning, genre-defying bop featuring skittering, reggaeton beats. glistening synth arpeggios and Gravillon’s sultry and vulnerable cooing (in French and Spanish) paired with a two-step inducing hook. While being slick and modern pop song, “Bonita” is a sweet and old fashioned plea of devotion and love.

The animated video features cartoon version of Gravillon and the song’s titular Bonita on a romantic date that’s sweet in its old-fashioned feel.