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.

 

If you had been frequenting this site last month, you may have come across a post on the Brooklyn-based post-punk duo NØMADS. Comprised of Nathan Lithow (vocals, bass), who has been a touring and recording bassist for My Brightest DiamondInlets, and Gabriel and the Hounds; and Garth Macaleavey (drums), a former Inlets touring percussionist and head sound engineer at National Sawdust, the duo have quickly received attention for a sound that draws from Nirvana, Fugazi and Girls Against Boys while also nodding at Zack de la Rocha’s post-Rage Against the Machine project, One Day As A Lion , as well as Japandroids.

Now, as you may recall that the duo received some attention with the release of their 2014 full-length debut, Free My Animal, an effort that reportedly drew from Death From Above 1979 and Queens of the Stone Age. And after a year hiatus from touring and recording, the Brooklyn-based post-punk duo spent the better part of last year, writing and recording the material that would comprise their their newest, conceptual album PHØBIAC, an album in which each song focuses on a different phobia — approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion, capturing the innermost thoughts and anxieties of someone in the grips of their own fears, while possessing a cautionary message: that whenever we succumb to our irrational fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the end result. And with our current (and continuing) sociopolitical climate, the Brooklyn-based duo’s newest material is desperately fitting and necessary, especially in light of the fact that an enormous swath of the American population have let their fear and hatred of “the other” to the point of endangering everyone within their path.

Adding to the conceptual nature of the album, each song off the album will be released every month over the course of 2017 with the full album being slated for a 2018 release.  And as you may remember, the album’s previous single “Achluphobia” focuses on a fear of darkness, and throughout you can feel the narrator’s palpable and overwhelmingly primal dread and fear as darkness begins to envelope everything around him  — and it’s further emphasized by angular and forceful bass chords, thundering and propulsive drumming and Lithgow’s growled vocals; but just under the surface of the song is a bigger message that fear can easily turn something that’s natural and normal into something fearful, horrible and dangerous.

“Acrophobia,” PHØBIAC‘s latest single is based around the fear of heights and it’s a forceful and explosive, instrumental composition that features Los Angeles, CA-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Max Braverman on drums. Featuring a frequently shifting meter paired with a propulsive bass line, the song intends to to evoke the vertiginous sensation of peering over a ledge with the recognition that solid ground and ghastly, mortal peril is just below you, all while sonically nodding at Entertainment and Solid Gold-era Gang of Four — in particular “Not Great Men,” “He’d Send in the Army;” but with an tense, anxious dread at its core.

 

 

 

 

Captain Casanova, is an Aarhus, Denmark-based indie rock trio, who have developed a reputation across Scandinavia, Northern Europe and Central Europe for a busy touring schedule with some of each region’s up-and-coming bands — and for a sound that clearly draws influence from 90s grunge rock and Brit Pop as you’ll hear on the band’s anthemic, mosh pit friendly, barn burning single “Futures.” Interestingly, along with bands like Love Talk, Pacific Swell and John Alcabean, Captain Casanova have helped to establish a burgeoning Danish indie rock scene that’s seeing international attention across Europe and the UK.

New Video: Introducing the 90s Grunge Rock-Inspired Sound of Copenhagen’s John Alcabean

With the release of last year’s Real Time Fiction EP, the Copenhagen, Denmark-based indie rock trio John Alcabean received attention across both Scandinavia and the UK for a sound that draws from the 90s — in particular anthemic Brit Pop and grunge; in fact one website had aligned them with contemporary indie rock acts like Wolf Alice and Drenge among others, despite the fact that the trio hadn’t had a ton of live gigs under their belts.

However, the members of the Copenhagen-based trio are currently in the studio working on their much-anticipated full-length debut and while the album’s first single “Need Comfort” will further cement their growing reputation for anthemic and scuzzy grunge-inspired indie rock, the single manages to be incredibly radio-friendly yet contemporary take on a familiar sound.

Directed and shot by Hans -Jørgen Hersoug, the video for “Need Comfort” is shot in a film noir-like black and white and features a disorientating amount of superimpositions and distortions of the band looking at the viewer with a particularly Scandinavian yet totally familiar brooding seriousness, along with the band’s frontman headbanging while playing his guitar.

New Video: Introducing the Infectious Positivity of Ivory Coast-born Tel Aviv-based Elisee Akowendo

Yves Elisee Samuel Akowendo, best known as Elisee Akowendo is an Ivory Coast-born, Tel Aviv, Israel-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who grew up in a very religious and very musical home. “I come from a Christian family where music has a very important place,” Akowendo says in press notes. “Every morning, noon and evening, we sang gospel songs.” And as a boy, a young Akowendo discovered his love of rhythm as a drummer at his local church’s youth band, which paved a way of a lifelong passion for music. “I was constantly listening, composing and singing,” the Ivory Coast-born, Tel Aviv-based artist explains in press notes. Interestingly, as the story goes, Akowendo’s church group was invited to tour Israel — and while on our, he realized that he had to make a life altering choice: continue pursuing a master’s degree in business or follow his lifetime dream of becoming a professional musician. The Ivory Coast-born, Tel Aviv-based artist decided to follow his dream and remain in Israel.

Understandably, the transition wasn’t easy for Akowendo as he didn’t speak or understand Hebrew; however, his church and a growing ex-pat Ivory Coast community provided him with a great deal of support. “I met great people, made new friends, and hoped that maybe here I could live from music,” Akowendo said in press notes. Within a short period of time, Akowendo crossed paths with APE Records producer Tamir Muskat, who had discovered the Ivory Coast-born, Israeli-based musician and his band Groove Ambassadors on YouTube. As Muskat recalls, “I was surfing through videos and became mesmerized by this amazing African drummer. Then I saw him jump out from behind the drum kit, and grab the mic. It blew me away. I knew immediately that I wanted to work with him.”

Muskat connected with Akowendo and played him some beats and the duo just immediately connected over music and their mutual passion for creating music; however, for Akowendo, he hadn’t written lyrics before and it was a major challenge for him — an his latest single “I Dey Shina” is the first time that the Ivory Coast-born, Israeli-based artist has written lyrics. And interestingly enough, while he admits that he feels equally comfortable singing in French as he does rhyming in English, much of his latest single is sung in his native dialect, Baoule. “Sometimes it’s easier to express certain emotions in your native language,” he explains of his decision to sing in his native tongue.

Considering the embittering negativity of our world, the song manages to convey an infectious and much-needed positivity; in fact, as Awokendo explains the song was about him looking at his life, seeing how he was living his dream — and thanking God for the fact that he could actually live his dream, while showing others that sometimes we need to be reminded about how we should grateful for what we have. But he also adds that the song also suggests that if you have a dream that you shouldn’t give up on it; that we should invest as much positive energy as possible into our dreams every single second of every day. Additionally, he goes on to say that he hopes to pass along a much bigger message into the world — that we can all live together in peace, if we love and help one another.

Emphasizing such an infectious and positive message is a club-banging production that sounds as though it draws from British grime, soca and industrial electronica as it features stuttering drum programming, hot flashes of hi-hat, some metallic clang and clatter and ambient electronics with an anthemic hook.

Directed by Bonamaze, the recently released music video also radiates a infectious positivity as it features the Ivory Coast-born, Israeli-based artist singing and dancing with an international crew of dancers, complete with bright colors. And honestly, it’s just a ton of fun.

Nubiyan Twist is a London, UK-based collective founded by Tom Excell (production, guitar) and featuring Nubiya Brandon (vocals), Pilo Adami (percussion, vocals), Finn Booth (drums), Luke Wynter (bass), Oli Cadman (keys), Joe Henwood (baritone sax, live dubs), Denis Scully (tenor sax), Nick Richards (alto sax) and Jonny Esner (trumpet)  who have won attention across the UK and the EU for a sound that draws from the members backgrounds in jazz, reggae, dub, soul, Afrobeat, Latin music — and for a live set that embraces the use of electronics, alongside jazz-inspired improvisation. In fact their debut album received praise from the likes of major media outfits like the IndependentMojo, Songlines Magazine, and Blues ‘n’ Soul and the album received airplay on the radio programs of David Rodigan, Craig Charles, Trevor Nelson, and Huey Morgan. And adding to a growing profile, the band has opened for the likes of De La Soul, Hot 8 Brass Band, Quantic and Robert Glasper.

The British collective’s latest single is a bold, funky, sensual reworking of Super Cat’s 1982 classic dancehall track Dance Inna New York that employs portions of the original’s verses, along with the hook with new lyrics written by the band’s frotnwoman Nubiya Brandon paired with the backing band playing a percussive, Latin-tinged, Afrobeat-inspired arrangement featuring a bold brass section, twinkling keys and a shuffling and swaggering riddim. And interestingly enough, while the London-based act’s reworking pushes a beloved song into the 21st century, perhaps introducing new fans to one of dancehall’s legends, it also manages to bridge the sounds of African Diaspora in a seamless and intelligent manner.

 

Comprised of its Manchester, UK-born and Paris-based David Shaw and Paris-born and based Dombrance, the Paris-based electronic music and production duo DBFC emerged onto the French electronic music scene with the release of several singles throughout 2015 and 2016 through renowned indie label Her Majesty’s Ship Records — including “Automatic,” a track which remained me of Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europe Express” and Primal Scream‘s “Autobahn 66” — but with a subtle cosmic glow around its edges.

The duo’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Jenks is slated for a June 2, 2017 release through Different Recordings/[PIAS] Records and the album’s first single “Sinner” will partially further their reputation for pairing slick electronic production with organic instrumentation but while a single like  the aforementioned “Automatic” struck me as owing a debut to Kraftwerk and Primal Scream, the new single still nods at those influences while subtly nodding at The Chemical Brothers‘ Come With Us as the song possesses a free-flowing improvisation paired with a similarly trippy and cosmic glow.