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: Psychedelic Porn Crumpets Releases an Explosive and Trippy Visual Romp for “Hymn For A Droid”

Comprised of Jack McEwan, Luke Parish, Danny Caddy and Luke Reynolds, the Perth, Australia-based quartet Psychedelic Porn Crumpets quickly developed a reputation in their native Australia for crafting enormous riff-based psych rock. Earlier this year, the members of the Perth-based psych rock outfit made their Stateside debut — and they managed to kick ass and take names with a series of acclaimed SXSW sets.

Building upon a rapidly growing international profile, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets’ latest album And Now For The Whatchamacalit was released earlier this year, and the album which was recorded between Jack McEwan’s bedroom and Perth, Australia-based Tone City Studios finds the band with a huge, arena rock-like sound, which also manages to represent their loftier ambitions.  “The original concept was to take a 1930’s carnival that had been re-imagined for future generations, a collage of Punch and Judy, carousels and coconut shy’s that progresses in musical concepts and travels with the listener,” the band says of the album’s concept. “Then as we started traveling I was swept off into my own kind of circus, the odyssey of touring life. Large nights out, larger characters, drunken recollections of foreign cities and rabbit hole-ing into insanity.” 

The album’s latest single “Hymn For A Droid” will further cement the band’s growing reputation for crafting riff-based psych rock, as the song is centered around enormous, arena rock friendly, power chord riffs and a motorik groove within an expansive song structure. Play this one as loud as possible and rock the fuck out, y’all. 

“This track reminds me of a Rhino at full charge,” the band’s Jack McEwan explains in press notes. “I was absolutely cranking it while recording. Pretty sure my housemates didn’t get a lot of sleep the week this was being crafted. The lyrics were based on the end of a relationship, those months you’re questioning where your life will end up and if you’re making the right decisions. You’re almost robotic, ticking along like a drone that repeats the same lines over and over in your head, and then you go out with your mates for the first time in ages, take a bunch of thought juice and everything makes more sense. . I wanted the chorus to come out of nowhere like an instant realisation, confusing at first and then the next time you hear it all becomes way clearer.”

Directed by Ashley Rommelrath and Oliver Jones and filmed by Rommelrath and Gareth Goodlad, the recently released video for “Hymn For A Droid” was filmed during the band’s recent UK and European tour and features live footage from sets in Glasgow, Liverpool and All Points East Festival. And while being a display of a band that has become a force of nature that destroys stages and enraptures fans, it’s a lysergic romp, thanks to animation from Oliver Jones that turns guitars into beasts, moshing fans into skeletons and so on. Live shows can be a furious, sweaty and joyous endeavor and this video accurately captures that. 

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Earlier this year, I wrote about the commercially and critically successful London-based soul and funk act The Brand New Heavies. And as you may recall, the act which is led by founding members, primary songwriters and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Levy and Simon Bartholomew was at the forefront of Britain’s late 80s and early 90s Acid Jazz movement, alongside the likes of Young Disciples and Grammy Award-winning and multi-BRIT Award-winning act Jamiorquai.

With the release of their debut single, the celebrated club classic “Got To Give,” through Chrysalis Records, the members of The Brand New Heavies began to make waves in their native UK. Eventually, the band signed to Acid Jazz Records, who released their applauded self-titled debut album in 1990 across Europe and elsewhere, while the album was picked up in the US by renowned hip-hop label Delicious Vinyl. Now, if you were around and conscious back in 1990, you’d likely recall their debut album’s Top Three R&B smash hit, “Never Stop,” which led to the album being on the R&B Album charts for the better part of year — and to the act winning a MTV award for the track. As a result of the wild success of “Never Stop,” the album went on to becoming arguably the most commercially successful of their career, as it went Gold in the UK.

Interestingly, the London-based funk and foul act’s full-length debut proved to be both popular and influential within hip-hop circles. In fact, the members of the band have wound up collaborating with an impressive array of the genre’s luminaries including A Tribe Called Quest, and Kool G. Rap, Gang Starr and Main Source for Heavy Rhyme Experience.

The London-based neo-soul act’s follow-up two immediate efforts — 1994’s Brother Sister and 1997’s Shelter — went Platinum, with the act eventually scoring 16 Top 40 hits including “Dream Come True,” “Stay This Way,” “Midnight At The Oasis,” “Sometimes,” and “Dream On Dreamer.

Coincidentally, the acclaimed London-based funk and foul act have been a major influence on the equally acclaimed, smash-hit multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ and singer/songwriter Mark Ronson, who caught their first lineup and first show in New York in 1991. Ronson invited the members of the band to play at his 40th birthday party — and later began collaborating with the band on the first batch of new material in over five years, the disco-like groove “Getaway” which featured a horn line that hinted at Cheryl Lynn‘s 1978 disco smash hit “Got To Be Real,” and the soulfully sultry vocals of longtime vocalist N’Dea Davenport, with whom they’ve earned their biggest charting, best-selling work.

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through their longtime label home Acid Jazz, the band’s forthcoming Sir Tristan Longworth-produced album TBNH finds The Brand New Heavies carefully refining and reimagining the sound that won them international acclaim while featuring a variety of vocalists throughout the album — including longtime vocalists N’Dea Davenport and Siedah Garret along with Beverly Knight, Angie Stone, current vocalist Angela Ricci and labelmate Laville. TBNH‘s latest single is a breezy, 70s soul-tinged cover of Kendrick Lamar‘s “These Walls” that features longtime vocalist N’Dea Davenport, a warm, Quincy Jones-like horn arrangement, twinkling Rhodes and a sultry hook — and while retaining the soulfulness and swagger of the original, The Brand New Heavies gently push the street banger into the lounge and into the club.

 

 

 

New Audio: Arizona’s Body of Light Returns with a Brooding Yet Dance Floor Friendly New Single

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Arizona-based sibling, electronic duo Body of Light. And as you may recall, the act — comprised of Andrew and Alexander Jarson — can trace their origins to the Jarsons’ involvement in the acclaimed Ascetic House collective.  Interestingly, what hat initially began as a vehicle for the duo to explore noise and sound during their early teens has gradually evolved into an established electronic production and artist unit that crafts music that draws from New Wave, freestyle, goth and techno — and from the Jarsons’ individual and shared experiences. 

Body of Light’s third album Time to Kill is slated for a July 26, 2019 release through Dais Records and the album reportedly finds the Arizona-based sibling duo refining their sound with a bolder sonic palette while thematically, the duo focus on love and obsession within an era of increasing technological bondage and fleeting exhilaration. The Power, Corruption and Lies-era New Order and Upstairs at Eric’s-era Yaz-like album title track “Time to Kill” was centered around a brooding yet relentless, dance floor friendly production and a brooding Romanticism. Time to Kill’s latest single, the Depeche Mode-like “Don’t Pretend” is centered around and industrial/goth-like production featuring insistent and relentless beats, layers upon layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a soaring hook and plaintive vocals — but unlike its immediate predecessor, the album’s latest single is an urgent, desperate plea. As the duo explain in press notes. “We are all hostages of need; we struggle to free our minds from confinement.” They add that the new single is “a song for those imprisoned by their own desires.” 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Canadian Act Mauno Releases Hilariously Surreal and Unsettling Visual for “Take Care”

Slated for an August 2, 2019 release through Tin Angel Records, Really Well, the forthcoming album by the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based indie rock band Mauno reportedly finds the band — Eliza Niemi (vocals, bass), Nick Everett (vocals, guitar), Scott Boudreau (guitar) and Adam White (drums) — exploring the creases in intimacy, authenticity and labor and their preoccupations with the nature of creative labor, relationships and the self under capitalism. And while rooted in sobering daily concerns, the band notes that their critiques are often filtered through the lens of the absurd, which gives the band — and in turn, the album’s material — a playful, ridiculous air. “There’s something about humour and laughter that is very subversive and deeper than I think a lot of people realize,” the band’s Eliza Niemi says in press notes. “With these songs, I was trying to sort of dance on the one.” Adds the band’s Nick Everett, “There’s a double meaning to everything. You have to leave space for people to think. Where is the place for the listener if they’re not going to contribute their own thoughts or their own interpretations?”

Earlier this summer, I wrote about the slow-burning album single “Vampire,” a track centered around shimmering guitars, shimmering guitars, shuffling drums, plaintive vocals and a soaring hook. And while immediately recalling 120 Minutes-era like alt rock, the mischievous song focuses on the pride and utter ridiculousness of creative labor in a capitalist world that doesn’t really value it much. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Take Care” is a decidedly different affair from it’s predecessor: centered around jangling and jagged guitars, shuffling drums and Niemi’s delicate vocals, the song finds its narrator calmly expressing ambivalence, frustration and resentment. “‘Take Care’ is a play on words — it’s about caregiving as a woman, and also about saying goodbye. It is about filling the role of taking care of someone and self-identifying through that, while simultaneously resenting the expectation of having to do so. The chorus begins hinting at waiting for a relationship to finally feel reciprocal, and ends with the reveal of me actually waiting for it to fall apart, knowing all along that it was doomed,” the band’s Eliza Niemi explains in press notes. 

Directed by Max Taeuschel, the recently released video for “Take Care” features the band’s songwriting duo of Nick Everrett and Eliza Niemi in matching royal blue jumpsuits as though they were prepping for a surgical procedure. Suddenly gloved hands come from just outside of the frame, preparing Mauno’s songwriting duo for shipping — including slapping on price tags and swaddling in bubble wrap and plastic wrap. Somehow the band’s songwriting duo manage to have dispassionate expressions on their faces, despite being treated like products, and being essentially tortured. It’s a gorgeous and surrealistic fever dream that’s both hilarious and unsetting. 

Over the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the Newcastle, UK-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sam Fender. And as you may recall, the British singer/songwriter and guitarist has received received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for crafting rousingly anthemic, arena rock-like material with a broad focus on hard-hitting social issues — while also drawing from his own experiences growing up in Northeastern England.

Last year saw Fender featured on BBC Sound of 2018′s shortlist, which he promptly followed up with a sold-out headlining UK tour. Building upon the rapidly growing buzz surrounding him, Fender ended the year with the release of the Dead Boys EP, an effort that featured “That Sound,” an arena rock friendly track that featured enormous hooks, soulful vocals and a bluesy vibe that recalls The Black KeysSlavesRoyal Blood and others  — and “Play God,” an ambitious yet politically-charged song that talked about how special interests and the 1% really control the world as we know it.

This year may be a breakthrough year for the Newcastle-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay. Slated for a September 13, 2019 release through Interscope Records, Fender’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Hypersonic Missiles was recorded and produced at Fender’s self-built warehouse studio in North Shields with longtime friend, producer and collaborator Bramwell Bronte. Interestingly, the album was reportedly fueled by Fender’s long-held belief that great guitar music still has the power to change lives and influence people —  in this case, to better themselves and the world. Interestingly, Fender’s first single of the year was the rousing, Springsteen meets Modern English‘s “Melt With You”-like album title track “Hypersonic Missiles.

Additionally, Fender made his US network TV debut performing “Hypersonic Missiles” on  Jimmy Kimmel Live! and CBS This Morning‘s Saturday Sessions. He also played at this year’s SXSW before completing a headlining North American tour, which included a stop at  Rough Trade that I covered earlier this year. Building upon the momentum he’s amassed over the past 18 months or so, Fender’s latest single, The Strokes meets Springsteen-like “Will We Talk” continues a run of rousingly anthemic material that finds Fender balancing  enormous hooks with earnest yet ambitious songwriting. And much like its predecessor, the song focuses on two troubled yet star-crossed lovers, who are both crippled by self-doubt, uncertainty — but captured with a novelist’s attention to psychological detail.

Fender is currently in the middle of a lengthy world tour that includes a July 12 Hyde Park, London show with Bob Dylan and Neil Young, as well as appearances at Splendour In The Grass, his return to the States with an appearance at Lollapalooza before closing out the year with a sold out and extensive tour of the UK. A new series of North American dates to support Hypersonic Missiles are forthcoming — and if he’s playing in a town near you, you should go out and see him. In the meantime, check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:
 July 11 – Tynemouth Castle, North Shields SOLD OUT
July 12 – Hyde Park, London (w/ Bob Dylan + Neil Young)
 July 13 – TRNSMT Festival, Glasgow
July 19 – Splendour In The Grass, North Byron Parklands
July 23 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
 July 24 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
August 3 – Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza
August 10 – Boardmasters Festival, Newquay
August 16 – Summer Sonic, Tokyo
August 18 – Summer Sonic, Osaka
August 30 – Fusion Festival, Liverpool
August 31 – Electric Picnic, Laois Ireland
November 22 – Academy, Manchester SOLD OUT
November 23 – Guild of Students, Liverpool SOLD OUT
November 26 – Rock City, Nottingham SOLD OUT
November 27 – O2 Academy, Glasgow SOLD OUT
November 28 – O2 Academy, Leeds SOLD OUT
 November 30 – Dome, Brighton SOLD OUT
December 1 – O2 Academy, Bournemouth SOLD OUT
December 3 – Pavilions, Plymouth
December 4 – O2 Academy, Bristol SOLD OUT
December 5 – O2 Academy, Birmingham SOLD OUT
December 7 – O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT
December 8 – O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT
December 10 – O2 Academy Brixton, London SOLD OUT
December 11 – O2 Academy Brixton, London
December 13 – Great Hall, Cardiff SOLD OUT
December 16 – Dublin, Olympia SOLD OUT
December 17 – Ulster Hall, Belfast SOLD OUT
December 19 – O2 Academy, Sheffield SOLD OUT
December 21 – O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT
December 22 – O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT

London-based electronic music duo Siente, comprised of two lifelong musicians Nick Thompson and Steve Lamb, can trace their origins to a chance meeting the duo had over the DJ decks at a friend’s house party.  Bonding over a shared love of 80s soul and pop artists like Evelyn “Champagne” King and Luther Vandross, Thompson and Lamb recognized a deep connection and immediately jumped into the studio to collaborate on what would become their critically applauded, attention-grabbing debut single ‘Wonderful,” a track that drew comparisons to Todd Terje and Daft Punk.

Building upon a growing profile in their native UK and elsewhere, the up-and-coming British electronic duo’s latest single “Doubts” is a sultry summer bop that finds Thompson and Lamb effortlessly meshing yet dreamy pop with deep house. Centered around bubbling and arpeggiated synths, a deep and throbbing bass line and soulful vocals, the up-and-coming London act’s latest single manages to be a radio friendly club banger that will draw comparisons to a number of French artists like Alan Braxe, Phoenix, DJ Falcon, Uppermost and others.

 

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Oh Sees Release a Trippy and Nightmarishly Animated Visual for “Poisoned Stones”

Over the past nine years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Bay Area-based JOVM mainstays Oh Sees. And as you may recall, the act, which is led by its ridiculously prolific founder and creative mastermind John Dwyer has a cultivated a long-held reputation for wide-ranging and restless experimentation that has seen the band dabble between a variety of genres and styles including lysergic-tinged folk, furious and sweaty garage punk rippers, sci-fi driven krautrock and more — with each successive album being wildly different from its predecessor. 

Face Stabber, a 2LP album is slated for an August 16, 2019 release through their longtime label home Castle Face Records, and the album’s first single “Henchrock” was a free-flowing, skronky The Yes Album-era Yes meets Return to Forever-like expansive bit of prog rock. The album’s latest single “Poisoned Stones” continues on a similar vein — skronky prog rock but this time delivered with a muscular and forceful insistence, as the track is centered around enormous power chords and thunderous drumming. 

The recently released video for “Poisoned Stones” features 8 bit video game graphic animation by Eaten Alive Illustrations that’s a surrealistic nightmare as it follows our motorcycle riding protagonist being chased through the desert — until the bat-like creature chasing him captures him and drops him off into the lair of a cloaked magician. After killing the magician, the protagonist escapes, feeds something to a wolf, who has a mind-bending trip and allows our protagonist to ride him until they arrive at a castle that will be destroyed by an even weirder, alien-like dragon. 

Up-and-coming Copenhagen, Denmark-based noise rock act why sun have begun to develop a reputation across their native Denmark for a dark and melancholic sound, which they’ve dubbed sleepy noise, and references acts like Suicide, The National and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Building upon a rapidly growing national profile, the act comprised of Rasmus Kjærsgaard Velling, Lasse Skydsgaard Knigge and Julius Emil Brinck released their latest EP Frugte (the Danish word for fruit) earlier this year. The EP features two critically applauded singles: “Eastern Love” and their latest single, “Traffic,” a slow-burning, lysergic-tinged, shoegazer dirge, centered around layers of reverb-drenched guitar chords, thumping almost industrial-like drumming and rumbling baritone vocals. Interestingly, the track — to me, at least — evokes lazy, downright sleepy summer afternoons, aimlessly daydreaming.

  

 

 

 

New Video: Austin-based JOVM Mainstays Blushing Release a Hazy and Mind Bending Visual for “So Many”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Austin, TX-based dream pop/shoegaze quartet Blushing and the act — comprised of two married couples — Christina Carmona (vocals, bass) and Noe Carmona (guitar, keys) and Michelle Soto (guitar, vocals) and Jake Soto (drums) — can trace its origins back to 2015, when after spending several years of writing material on guitar, Michelle Soto recrutied her classically trained friend Christina Carmona to join her new project. Shortly after the band’s founding duo started the band, they recruited their spouses to complete the band’s lineup.

The then-newly formed quartet spent the next year writing and revising material Bad Wolf Recordings to record their debut EP Tether, which was released to positive reviews across the blogosphere, including this site. Building upon a growing profile, the Austin-based shoegazers returned to the studio to record their sophomore EP Weak, an effort that further cemented their reputation for crafting material indebted to Lush, Cocteau Twins and The Sundays — while revealing a gentle refinement of the sound that first caught the attention of this site and the rest of the blogosphere.

The Austin-based JOVM mainstays ended last year with the release of the Elliot Frazier-produced and mixed “The Truth”/”Sunshine” 7 inch, which was released both digitally and on colored vinyl through The Nothing Song Records. That single found the band further expanding upon their sound with “The Truth” being one of the more muscular songs of their growing catalog while retaining a hazy vibe. Adding to a growing profile, the members of Blushing have shared stages with the likes of Snail Mail, Sunflower Bean, La Luz, BRONCHO, Illuminati Hotties, Yumi Zouma and others.

Now, as you may recall, this year may arguably be one of the biggest years of the band’s relatively short history: they made their second SXSW appearance this year, and the band’s highly-anticipated, self-titled full-length debut is slated for a September 6, 2019 release through Wallflower Records here in the States and on CD through Hands and Moment Records in Japan. “Dream Merchants,” the album’s first single was a woozy and swirling track that continued in a similar vein of “The Truth” — and while centered around the dual, ethereal harmonizing of Christina Carmona and Michelle Soto, the track evokes the sensation of a vivid yet half-remembered dream. 

“So Many,” the debut album’s latest single begins with a brooding and wistful intro centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars and the dual, ethereal harmonizing of Christina Carmona and Michelle Soto before turning into a turbulent and towering storm, revealing a band that can balance explosive noise with gorgeous melodicism. Interestingly, the song lyrically was inspired by the vicious cycle of frustration and defeat that Michelle witnessed her son go through while dealing with attention and concentration issues in school. Her son’s struggles forced her to realize that she also struggled through many of the same obstacles in her own daily life. 

Interestingly, the recently released video is hazy, Memento-like visual in which the timeline at points run forwards and backwards, as it focuses on the Polaroid pictures of several mundane, daily moments in the life of its protagonist. Underneath the photos, someone has written a line of the song’s lyrics — and we see them thrown into a metal bowl, as someone lights them on fire. The video manages to evoke the sense of frustration, defeat and procrastination that frequently affects those who have trouble focusing on one thing at a time.