Author: William Ruben Helms

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the better part of the past 6-9 months or so, you’d likely be familiar with JOVM mainstay producer and electronic music artist KC Maloney, and although he’s best known as being one-half of renowned electro pop act Radar Cult,  Maloney has received an increasing national profile with the release of last year’s LXII EP with his solo side project Adult Karate, a project that expands upon the sound of his primary project a is it draws from several different styles and sub-genres of electronic music — including house, acid house, techno, ambient electronica and others. And building upon the buzz that LXII received, Maloney’s Adult Karate follow up Indoors is slated for a March 31, 2017 and the effort will reportedly see Maloney’s side project taking on a decided sonic departure as the material generally possesses elements of post-punk and post-rock reminiscent of mid 80s New Order and In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy.

From The Dust,” Indoors‘ first single while being a marked sonic departure, also managed to be a thematic departure as the song is less introspective than the material off LXII; however, the song possessed a swaggering confidence — the sort of confidence that can only come from living a fully-lived in life, in which the song’s narrator has had his heart broken made mistakes, and has found some hard-fought wisdom, by living life in his own terms. And Maloney does all of this in what may arguably be one of the breeziest songs he’s released to date.  The EP’s latest single “Friction” consists of an ethereal, Kate Bush meets contemporary electro pop production featuring featuring thumping 808-like beats, swirling yet ambient electronics and twangy blasts of guitar, shimmering cascades of synths and a swooning hook paired with Maloney’s and Adeline’s breathy cooing. Lyrically, the song continues in a similar vein as its preceding single; but in this case, the song captures the sensation of attempting to break forward from heartbreak or a dysfunctional past, towards a new relationship — with the hope that this time, that blind leap of faith will be result in something different than all the previous ones.

 

 

 

 

Comprised of founding members Mario Giancarlo Garibaldi (vocals) and Jorge Velásquez (guitar) and later joined by Alex De Renzis (drums), the Peruvian-born, Miami, FL-based members of Hunters of the Alps derive their name from a reference to the citizens in the Alps region, who were actively working and fighting for a united Italy in the 1800s — and as the story goes, the trio can trace its origins back a bit as Velásquez had played in several wave-making Latin Alternative rock bands while Garibaldi had fronted the indie rock band Modernage. Feeling an increasing desire to break away from his then-primary project and have more creative freedom, Garibaldi eventually branched out into Hunters of the Alps.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Miami-based trio have opened for several renowned acts including Twin Shadow, Tanlines and Unknown Mortal Orchestra and have played sets at Ill Points, Transatlantic Festival and House of Creatives — all before the recent release of their debut Time (How To Love) EP, which features EP title track “Time (How to Love),” a track that caught the attention of All Things Go and Atwood Magazine. The EP’s latest single “It’s You” will further cement the trio’s burgeoning reputation for a New Wave and 80s synth pop sound reminiscent of New Order and Depeche Mode as the trio pairs angular guitar chords with propulsive drumming, a sinuous bass line, shimmering and fluttering arpeggio synths, and Garibaldi’s slightly detached crooning with an anthemic hook in a dance floor friendly song.

Phantom is a Helsinki, Finland-based, newlywed, electro pop duo of jazz-trained vocalist and poet Hanna Toivonen and tech-futurist and producer Tommi Koskinen and since their formation in 2012, the duo have received praise both nationally and internationally for a sound that has drawn comparisons to Bjork, Morcheeba, The Knife. Along with that, the duo have also developed a reputation for using evolving technologies to further their sonic experimentation; in fact, Koskinen has built a multidimensional technology dubbed The UFO (Ultrasonic Frequency Oscillator in their studio, and as it’s described, the user plays the device by flailing their hands above a flying saucer-looking MIDI controller. He also developed the real-time visual projection software called Z Vector, which uses Kinect cameras and audio data for live performances to create an immersive live set.

Derived from the year the duo first start, MMXII, the duo’s highly-anticipated full-length debut is slated for a February 24, 2017 release through Vlid Music and from the album’s first two singles “Dance,” a moody bit of synth pop  consisting of an atmospheric production featuring oscillating synths, twinkling keys, wobbling, tweeter and woofer rocking low end, futuristic, electronic bleeps and bloops and shuffling drum programming paired with Toivonen’s effortlessly soulful vocals.  Sonically speaking, the song sounds as though it draws from several different sources — the aforementioned Morecheeba in particular, but also from Portishead. “Lost,” MMXII‘s latest single lyrically is informed by parts of two poems she had written “Enemies” and “Old Man” written during a trip to the 2013 Venice Art Biennale, where Toivonen met a billionaire art collector, who had lived a fascinating life, a pirate  and in which Koskinen lost his luggage; but made the beat.The song features a production in which enormous 808-like beats are paired with swirling electronics and distorted synths and wobbling low end reminiscent of The Fragile-era Nine Inch Nails. And just like its preceding single, there’s room for Toivonen’s sultry and soulful vocals to float over the moody mix.

What makes both songs interesting to me is the fact that they balance a hauntingly cinematic quality with an emotional intimacy in which Toivonen seems to be confessing her innermost secrets and desires directly to the listener.

 

 

 

Karolina Rose is an up-and-coming Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, who I caught over the summer playing an acoustic, solo set at Kelsey Warren’s wildly eclectic Festival 8 last summer; however, her Andros Rodriguez produced debut single “Move With Me” is an anthemic 80s synth pop and New Wave-leaning single in which the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s achingly vulnerable yet sultry and assertive, pop star belter vocals are paired with shimmering arpeggio synths and four-on-the-floor led drum programming. Sonically, the song nods at A Flock of Seagulls and Florence and the Machine, thanks to a dance floor friendliness but more important, the song possesses an urgent intensity; in fact, as the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter explains in press notes, the song is “about that struck-by-lightning feeling you get when love first hits you. It’s a paralyzing intensity in a good way that makes you want to snap out of it, race forward and indulge in it evermore.” But even with that passionate excitement, there’s also an uncertainty of what will happen with any new romantic connection and while acknowledging that she could get hurt, the song’s narrator soothes herself by reminding herself that “what will be, will be.” And while some will think it’s fatalistic, the song is also a reminder that love, like anything else in life is a blind, leap of faith.

Comprised of Greg and Jeremy Pearson, Thrillers is a Los Angeles, CA-based sibling duo that have received attention for a slickly produced, anthemic synth pop and dance rock-leaning sound that draws from 80s synth pop, funk and contemporary R&B and indie pop. The duo’s full-length debut Break Free is slated for an April 28, 2017 through Lights and Music Collective, the folks behind the nation-wide indie dance party, Dance Yourself Clean. The album features collaborations with renowned indie pop artist Twin Shadow and producer Back Talk — and the album’s first single “Can’t Get Enough” will further cement the Pearson Brothers’ growing reputation for crafting slickly produced, club bangers, reminiscent of JOVM mainstay Boulevards and St. Lucia, complete with anthemic hooks featuring sinuous bass lines and Nile Rodgers-like guitar, thumping beats and sultry vocals.

The Pearson Brothers will be touring with Dance Yourself Clean’s North American tour  for 14 dates, including a March 31, 2017 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out tour dates below.

Tour Dates
Feb 17 – Boston, MA – Middle East
Feb 18 — Austin, TX — Empire

Feb 24 — San Diego, CA — Music Box
Feb 25 — Phoenix, AZ — Crescent Ballroom
Mar 03 — San Francisco, CA — Mezzanine
Mar 04 — Vancouver, BC — Biltmore Cabaret
Mar 10 — Dallas, TX — Trees
Mar 11 — Chicago, IL — Double Door
Mar 17 — Washington, D.C. — Black Cat
Mar 23 — London, ON — London Taphouse
Mar 24 — Toronto, ON — Lee’s Palace
Mar 25 — Denver, CO — Larimer Lounge
Mar 31 — Brooklyn, NY — Music Hall of Williamsburg 
Apr 01 — Philadelphia, PA — Underground Arts

 

 

New Video: FYUTCH’s Hilarious Action Movie-based Take on Rejection

Harold Simmons II is a Gary, IN-born, New York-based (by way of a lengthy stint in Nashville, TN), emcee, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who writes and records as FYUTCH (pronounced Fi-yoo-tch). Simmons can trace the origins of his musical and performing career to when he initially began to receive attention as a public speaker, who had given speeches at a number of impressive and major public events — including Gary’s Mayor Scott L. King’s campaign banquet and on the steps of Congress. When he turned 17, Simmons formed Legendary Biscuits and Gravy a band in which he played alto sax and contributed vocals with friends, Eric Sexton (keyboard), Brandon Holt (drums), Wesley Winfrey (tenor sax) and Brady Surface (bass). The quintet received regional acclaim as they were nominated for Southern Entertainment Awards’ Best Indy R&B Artist of the Year in 2007. And over the subsequent two year period, the band saw a rapidly growing profile as they’ve been on bills that included nationally and internationally recognized artists including The Pink Spiders, Sam and Ruby, as well as opening for Kanye West, GZA and Nappy Roots.

Simmons relocated to Nashville and while using the moniker Future the Artist, Simmons released his self-produced solo debut The Sci Fly EP, which garnered a Nashville Music Award nomination for Best Urban Recording of the Year, which he followed up with his Overnight Mixtape series in which he wrote and recorded six mixtapes — with each mixtape being recorded during an overnight studio session and then released as a free download the next day. The mixtapes caught the attention of renowned site, Nashville Scene, who praised Simmons’ work; in fact, thanks to the growing attention he received, the fourth mixtape of the series found Simmons collaborating with the likes of Bun B and GLC. Additionally, as a solo artist, he has opened for Wale, Pharrell Williams, Little Brother and Afroman.

By late 2012, Simmons changed his name to FYUTCH after discovering that there was another artist who also went by the name Future, who was receiving quite a bit of attention nationally — and internationally. And since changing his performing moniker, Simmons has released several efforts including Mr. Flattop, which was executive produced by DJ Rob “Sir” Lazenby and featured guest spots from Mike Stud, Futuristic, Mello Rello, Whitney Coleman and production by G-Pop, Wick-it the Instigator and The FANS; a psychedelic hip-hop concept EP Peace, Love and FYUTCH which was produced by G-Pop and featured deeply obscure samples and world music percussion. Interestingly, “Funked Up,” the first single off his Philosophy of Love EP was produced by Solar Shield — and the single is a Dam-Funk/Thundercat retro-futuristic -leaning jam featuring shimmering, arpeggio synths and wobbling low end paired with Simmons rhyming and singing a hilarious and very true tale about approaching an attractive woman, who’s been attracted to for some time or has noticed for a little bit and being cruelly rejected for his efforts. On one level, the song is about having the blind courage to risk being made a fool of and being rejected; on another level, the song is a tell off to someone, who in the narrator’s eyes doesn’t see what kind of man he is; but also, the song can be viewed as an admission of how stupid and vulnerable love can make us. And Simmons does all of this in a slick and funky as hell, dance-floor friendly song.

Filmed by Wesley Crutcher, the recently released video for “Funked Up,” is a mischievous take on action movies — in particular, movies like Jumper in which the main character travels through time; in this case, the future FYUTCH winds up traveling through time to see a younger FYUTCH get rejected by one of his first love interests, while the older FYUTCH gets rejected by a love interest, who was sitting near the younger FYUTCH. Trippy, right? But at the same time, it’s goofy and hilarious take on rejection.

New Audio: Sub Pop Records and Soundgarden Release Second Single Off Remixed and Expanded Re-Issue of Their Debut Album

Currently comprised of founding members Chris Cornell (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Kim Thayil (lead guitar), along with Matt Cameron (drums), who joined in 1986 and Ben Shepherd (bass), who joined in 1990, the Seattle, WA-based grunge/alt-rock quartet Soundgarden can trace its origins back to the formation and eventual breakup of an early 80s Seattle-based band The Shemps, which featured Cornell on drums and vocals, along with original bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Strangely enough, over the years what seems to have been forgotten is that the members of Soundgarden had started their recording career with Sub Pop Records; in fact, the renowned alt rock/indie label released the band’s first two EPs 1987’s Screaming Life and 1988’s Fopp, two efforts, which the label re-issued a couple of years ago through both vinyl and digital formats, marking the first time in about 25 years that the EPs were pressed onto vinyl — and the first time they were released digitally. Interestingly enough, Sub Pop Records helped distributed Soundgarden’s 1988 full-length debut, Ultramega OK.

And although they had some creative differences with the album’s producer Drew Canulette and the band’s overall dissatisfaction with the final mixes, their full-length effort was a commercial success as it garnered both a 1990 Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance and attention from larger labels — including A&M Records, who quickly signed the band. At the time, the band had intended to spend some time remixing the album for subsequent pressings of the album; but those plans wound up falling by the wayside, as the band went on to write and record their sophomore effort, and major-label debut, Louder Than Love.

Last year, the members of the band acquired the original multi-track tapes from the Ultramega OK sessions and they enlisted the assistance of renowned producer, engineer, long-time friend and frequent, old-time collaborator Jack Endino, who has famously worked with Nirvana, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Skin Yard, The Black Clouds and others to create a new mix of the album that would tie up what the band felt were persistent loose ends — while fixing the album’s overall sound. Interestingly, the band found six early version of album singles that eventually wound up on Ultramega OK and reportedly those early versions, which would eventually become staples of their live sets at the time, capture the band’s sound and songwriting in a much rawer, less polished form — and much closer to the sound on the Screaming Life EP.

Almost 30 years after Ultramega OK’s original release, Sub Pop Records will be releasing the remixed and expanded re-issue of the album, as a long-awaited “correction.” Naturally, for die-hard fans and completists, the re-mixed material will capture the band’s sound as they fully intended it, while the re-discovered early material will serve as a window into the development of the band’s songwriting approach and overall sound. Now, as you may remember, I wrote about the re-issue’s first single “Beyond The Wheel” and the re-mixed version possessed a crisper, cleaner sound, which helped to display Kim Thayill’s incredible guitar work and the interplay between Matt Cameron’s Bonham-like thundering drumming and Cornell’s Robert Plant-like wailing. The re-mixed and expanded Ultramega OK’s second single “Flower” much like its preceding single displays a cleaner, crisper sound, which gives the song the muscular insistence that the band became known for while interestingly enough, the song has moments that nod at Badmotorfinger and Superunknown.

Comprised of Sally Spitz (vocals), Ali Day (guitar, bass), Max Albeck (drums), and Daniel Trautfield (bass, sax), the Los Angeles, CA-based feminist art-punk quartet French Vanilla can trace the band’s origins to the members being partially driven by a desire to forcefully challenge Southern California’s established music scene, dominated by a few influential, male tastemakers and to do cool shit while hanging with friends, the band played their first shows within their hometown’s queer punk underground. Interestingly, the quartet quickly developed a local and regional reputation for socially conscious lyrics paired with a post-punk and No Wave-leaning sound — and as a result, the band has opened for the likes of Girlpool, Screaming Females, Tacocat, Genesis P-Orridge and Cherry Glazerr and others.

Adding to the growing buzz surrounding the Los Angeles-based band, their self-titled full-length effort is slated for a March 24, 2017 release through Danger Collective Records — and as you’ll hear on the album’s latest single “Anti-Aging Global Warming,” the quartet pairs the propulsive and angular bass lines and slashing guitar lines with incredibly neurotic lyrics that express the narrator’s anxious and neurotic worries about the impending end of the world as we know it, and how easy things can suddenly turn to shit before you know it; but sonically speaking the song strikes me as being reminiscent of Talking Heads: 77 and Fear of Music-era Talking HeadsEntertainment and Solid Gold-era Gang of Four and A-Frames.

 

 

 

New Video: The Trippy and Mischievous Visuals for The Kills’ “Whirling Eye”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you’d be fairly familiar with the internationally acclaimed indie rock duo The Kills. And as you may recall, the band’s latest effort, Ash and Ice was the first album of new material from the duo in over five years — and from the album singles “Heart Of A Dog” “Siberian Nights,” and “Impossible Tracks,” the material off their latest album revealed a refinement of the sound that first caught the attention of fans and critics.

Fire and Ash’s fourth and latest single “Whirling Eye” continues in a similar vein to the album’s preceding singles as the duo pair tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, layers of shimmering shoegazer rock-like guitar chords, a towering and anthemic hook and Mossheart’s imitable wail in a swaggering and bluesy song that builds up to stormy intensity — but much like their previously recorded output, there’s a palpable sensuality and sexual tension at its core.

Directed by Sophie Muller, the recently released music video for “Whirling Eye” was shot using several Go Pro cameras to create a 360º virtual reality video that follows the members of the band swaggering and strutting about in a variety of surreal and artistically shot scenarios and while giving the viewer an incredible amount of control to change camera angles at will and placing the viewer within the world of Mossheart and Hince, the video also manages to evoke the trippy sensation of the song’s whirling eye. (Please note, that in order to capture the 360º effect, you will have to view the video on Google Chrome.)

 

Now if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while, you’d know that the past couple of years have been incredibly productive and prolific for the critically applauded and renowned bassist, vocalist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner as he made guest appearances on two critically and commercially successful albums  — Kendrick Lamar‘s Grammy Award-winning album, To Pimp A Butterfly and  Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, and arguably one of of 2015’s best albums, The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam, an effort which further cemented Bruner’s reputation for being  a dexterous bassist and mischievous songwriter, as the material off that album possessed a retro-futuristic sound that nodded at Steve Wonder‘s legendary 1970s output, complete with wobbling and propulsive bass lines, arpeggio synths and Bruner’s sultry and plaintive falsetto.

Bruner’s third, full-length effort Drunk is slated for a February 24, 2017 release through Brainfeeder and the album will be an epic 23 track journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the singer/songwriter and bassist — and the effort finds him collaborating with an All-Star list of collaborators including frequent collaborators and friends Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Pharrell Williams, along with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. While the album will feature fan favorites “Bus In These Streets” and “Them Changes,” one of my favorite tracks off The Beyond/Where The Giants RoamDrunk’s first single “Show You The Way” was a soulful, 1970s jazz fusion-leaning track in which shimmering arpeggio synth lines, stuttering drums, Bruner’s incredible bass work and sultry falsetto with the legendary vocal work of Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald that interestingly enough reminded me of  Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near).”

Although Valentine’s Day has passed, Drunk‘s latest single is an Anti-Valentine’s Day anthem in which the song’s narrator complains about a love interest, who has not only friend zoned him, but continually plays games with him and his feelings. And throughout the song, the song’s narrator builds up the courage to tell the object of his attention that he’s had enough of having his emotions and heart fucked with — and instead of being friend zoned by an asshole, he would be better off by himself. Sonically, the song continues along a similar vein of the album’s preceding single as shimmering, arpeggio synth lines, a wobbling and propulsive bass line and four-on-the-floor drums paired with Bruner’s dreamy falsetto; however, unlike “Show You The Way,” “Friend Zone” is full of the bitter recriminations and frustrations of cruelly unrequited love.