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.

New Video: Introducing The Darkly Seductive Sounds and Visuals of London’s Hana Piranha

With the release of their debut album Cold Comfort, the London-based rock quartet Hana Piranha, comprised of Hana Maria (vocals, violin), James Bulbeck (guitar), Will Brown (bass) and Samuel de Brozie-Ward (drums) quickly developed a reputation across the UK for a sound that paired muscular power chord-based riffs, anthemic hooks, bursts of razor sharp violin and snarling vocals — and unsurprisingly their sound had been compared to Kittie covering AC/DC with a violin and Juliette Lewis as well as to their influences Garbage, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, PJ Harvey and others.

Building upon the buzz that their debut received, the London-based quartet have been releasing singles off their sophomore album Fishing with Dynamite, and as you’ll hear with the album’s latest single “Slave,” the band  will further cement their reputation for crafting muscular goth-inspired rock with a seductive air and anthemic hooks but while subtly expanding upon their sound, as the song finds the band nodding at 70s glam rock. 

Directed and edited by Arron West, the recently released video splits between segments of the band performing the song in a dark studio with some highly symbolic, BDSM-based imagery. 


Comprised of London-born, Los Angeles-based duo Hetty Clark (vocals) and Ned Douglas (keys, guitar, programming), The Dot and The Line can trace its origins to a mutual love and appreciation of downtempo electronica acts like Portishead, The xx, Haelos and others. As the story goes, the duo started working together to carve out their own sound and to write the material the would comprise their debut EP, and as you’ll hear on the duo’s second and latest single “Wait For You,” the duo pair Clark’s breathy and sensual vocals with a stark and cinematic production featuring layers of cascading, shimmering synths, twinkling keys, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and a soaring hook. And while nodding at Portishead, The xx and Garbage, the song as the duo’s Hetty Clark explains in press notes is an ode to the complicated and often frustrating essence of desire. “It’s a song about desire, desire being the blueprint of all we do and act upon. There is a dazzling aspect to desire, with all the unassimilated feelings that lie below the surface, causing us to act and behave in unpredictable ways. Desire is a huge life force, but it can also be an annihilating force. Deeply longing for something requires also accepting the pain of unfulfillment.””

Of course, unsurprisingly the song while further cement the duo’s growing reputation for crafting moody and cinematic downtempo electronica with a tense, push and pull familiar to relationships and involvements in which one’s feelings and motivations are uncertain and confused.



BLVK IRIS is an up-and-coming Danish electronic music artist and electronic producer and his debut single single “Put It On” is a sultry, slow-urning, Quiet Storm-inspired pop song featuring a sinuous bass line, shimmering and wobbling synths, an anthemic hook and the warm, interwoven male and female vocals of New York-based vocalists Janelle Kroll and Jeuru. And while being an incredibly sensual song with both vocalists expressing a yearning and urgent sexual desire and longing, the slickly produced, swaggering song also nods at 90s R&B and contemporary R&B simultaneously.

Earlier this year, I wrote about  San Francisco-born, Los Angeles-based sibling duo Cones  and as you may recall the sibling duo comprised of Jonathan Rosen, a pop music influenced, acclaimed hand-drawn animator,  who has created music videos for a number of renowned artists including Toro y Moi, Eleanor Friedberger and Delicate Steve, whose rock ‘n’ roll dream started in earnest when he played Johnny Thunders for the HBO series Vinyl; and Michael Rosen, who is a classically trained pianist, commercial/film composer and experimental sound artist can trace the origins of their band to when they began playing together as members of the NYC-based indie rock act Icewater. Eventually, the members of Icewater began playing as the session and backing band for Furnaces’ Eleanor Friedberger, helping to write, record her latest album New View.

And as the story, while touring with Friedberger, the Rosens began to conceptualize what Cones would sound like, and ultimately they decided that the project’s overall sound would fuse Jonathan’s pop sensibilities with Michael’s lush, atmospheric soundscapes and keyboard-based instrumentation.  Shortly after the tour, the Rosens with a bunch of friends, associates and collaborators to write and record the material that would eventually comprise their debut EP Whatever You’re Into, which featured single “Echoes On,” a single that paired Jonathan’s dreamy falsetto with a twangy, psych country-like arrangement with a breeziness reminiscent of 70s AM radio.

Their latest single “Back In The Brain” will further cement the sibling duo’s reputation for crafting breezy and wistful synth pop with a motorik-like groove and soaring hooks but underneath the breeziness is a song is an aching loneliness. As Jonathan Rosen explains “A friend of mine once described living alone as a sensation of being constantly inside of your own brain — your house is your head. After a while I realized I would often think the phrase ‘back in the brain’ upon returning home from being out, so we turned it into a song. It’s my ode to solitude.

“The animation, drawn and colored by hand, brings this idea to life. Through the yes of Bob the Hippie — an extremely groove dude, who lives inside of a lava lamp, we witness the magical confusion of seclusion.”

New Video: The Lysergic Visuals for Clear Soul Forces’ L.A.Z.’s Shimmering Solo Debut “Celestial Vibes”

Comprised of E-Fav, L.A.Z., Noveliss, and producer/emcee Ilajide, the Detroit, MI-based hip-hop quartet Clear Soul Forces quickly developed a reputation for lyrically and sonically drawing from the 70s street poets and proto-emcees, golden era, boom-bap hip-hop, adding their names to a lengthy list of dope artists hailing from Detroit. But interestingly enough, the act can trace their origins to a 2009 all-nighter at a Detroit recording studio, when the four emcees scraped up whatever loose change for studio time to record material individually. Coincidentally, renowned artist Royce Da 5’9″ was finishing work on his album Street Hop in the room next door, and the four emcees jumped at the chance to spit a few rhymes for him. As the story goes, the four young emcees then spent the next 9 hours in an epic rhyme fest with each of the individual emcees trading bars while an impressed Royce Da 5’9″ listened intently. After they finished, the renowned Detroit-based emcee suggested that the four individual emcees should become a group — although it took them some time to figure out their name would be. 

By early 2010, the group now known as Clear Soul Forces began making a name for themselves in their hometown’s underground hip-hop scene and released their debut mixtape, Clear Soul Radio, which was recorded in a single day. Later that year, they built their home studio, The Complex and recorded The Departure EP, which was released for their appearance at the A3C Festival. Adding to a growing profile, the quartet played shows in Brooklyn, the 35 Conferette Festival in Denton, TX and SXSW, where they played the the Rappers I Know Showcase with Tanya Morgan, H.I.S.D., Just Blaze, Alchemist, Talib Kweli and Freeway, and followed it up with videos for “The Greatest” and “Strangers In The Night.” 

2011-2012 may have been one of the biggest years in the group’s history, as they began work on their critically applauded full-length debut Detroit Revolution(s), which was reportedly influenced by a large mural on the side of a local apartment building — and by the end of the year, they were selected by Red Bull as a featured artist in the beverage company’s Soundstage program. Early 2012, the video for album single “Get No Better,” caught the attention of the blogosphere, including this site. 

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve written about the Detroit-based hip-hop act, but as it turns out the act’s L.A.Z. recently spent time writing and recording material for a solo effort, the No Paperwork EP, and the effort reportedly is the culmination of several years grinding and hustling, and the wizened realization that money won’t buy you peace of mind — and that more important, unlike many of his counterparts, this effort was a labor of love, inspired purely by the passionate, obsessive love of hip-hop. “Celestial Vibes,” the No Paperwork EP’s features the Detroit emcee spitting swaggering and braggadocio-fueled bars over a slick production which bears boom bap beats with twinkling keys, meant to evoke a cosmic (and perhaps lysergic) glow. And while the song clocks in at about 98 seconds or so, it captures an emcee reaching the very top of his creative powers. 

The recently released video employs a relatively simple concept — we follow L.A.Z. as he smokes weed in a tropical paradise and saunters through an graffiti-filled abandoned development. And to emphasize the trippy vibe of the song, the video is shot with a golden haze. 

Last month, I wrote about the  Oklahoma City, OK-based indie rock/psych rock quartet SPACE4LEASE. Comprised of primary songwriter and founding member Grayson Hamm (keys, lead vocals), along with Walt Blythe (guitar),  Brandon Brewer (bass, vocals) and Wes Belk (drums), the Oklahoman indie rockers can trace their origins to when Hamm met his bandmates while they were all attending the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma. And although they all had vastly different musical backgrounds and differing musical tastes, the band’s sound manages to be a convergence of all of their influences including Tame Impala, My Morning Jacket, Big Thief, Andy Shauf and others; however, unlike their eclectic influences, their material lyrically focuses on lost love, the unknown, and inevitable life experiences. With the release of their debut EP Hiraeth, an effort that focused on the complicated process of self-discovery, the members of the Oklahoma City-based quartet toured extensively across the Midwest last year, eventually winning the praise of The Flaming Lips‘ Derek Brown, who described them as  “Fellow Okies that wonderfully mix the blissfulness and melancholy of the great wide open.”

And as you may recall “Must Be Something” was a moody and atmospheric bit of psych rock that featured some lush, shimmering guitar work, a sinuous and propulsive bass line and a rousingly anthemic hook that reminded me of JOVM mainstays  Caveman, Los Angeles-based indie rock act Hands and others but inspired by the endless possibility of the road, of the profound sensation of being “a man from far away,” seeing, eating, experiencing things you’d never expect and how it can change and influence your life. As the band’s Grayson Hamm explained in press notes, “Coming from a small town, I never had the experience of the big city life, but surprisingly it wasn’t these destinations that intrigued me the most. It was the journey, and the miles, and time it took to get there. Once we were out on the road all by ourselves just driving and seeing the countryside, this quest of finding myself really started to take effect. This is where the premise of the chorus let alone the whole song comes into play. ‘There must be something in the way how, there’s nothing standing in our way now.’ I started to realize that the only barrier that was standing in the way was myself. The world was just waiting for me.”

The band’s latest single “Lately” finds the band drawing from classic, Quiet Storm-era R&B, indie rock and blue eyed soul in a way that reminds me of Milagres’ exceptional first two albums Glowing Mouth and Violent Light — and much like the material off of those albums, there’s the push and pull of infatuation, lust, love and heartache at the core of a confusing relationship that at times is unrequited and other times is requited; but as the band’s primary songwriter Grayson Hamm notes, there’s also an underlying questioning of one’s own worth, which love can make you do on occasion. As he explains in press notes,  “The lyrics came to me one day after experiencing the all-too-common feeling of falling for someone without reciprocation. The truth is, I didn’t know what I was getting into and probably will never fully understand it. We have all experienced that uncomfortable moment in which we have stronger feelings for someone than they have for us, even if we refuse to admit it out of embarrassment or shame. I’ve reached the point multiple times in my life where I ask the question, ‘Who I am to you? How does this person see me compared to how I see them?’ This cyclical pattern is emotionally exhausting, so I decided to channel these feelings the best way I know how: though the process of songwriting. ‘Lately’ is all about asking these difficult questions. Sometimes it is more helpful to look introspectively rather than to direct the questions toward the one we might be falling for.”


Last year, I wrote a bit about the critically acclaimed, Melbourne, Australia-based indie rock/indie pop act Teeth & Tongue. Comprised of New Zealand-born, Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Jess Cornelius, guitarist Marc Regueiro-McKelvie, bassist Damian Sullivan and drummer James Harvey, the quartet initially began as a solo recording project of its founding member Jess Cornelius, and over the course of the four albums, the band developed a reputation for restless experimentation with their sound morphing from an ambient and textured sound to a wiry, dance floor-friendly post-punk inspired by Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ It’s Blitz!, as you would hear on Give Up on Your Health, an album that received attention both nationally and internationally — it was nominated for a J Award and the Australian Music Prize, named Album of the Week on 3RRR and Featured Album on Double J, as well as features in Rolling StoneThe Fader and Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter.

Along with that, Cornelius has played at some of the her adopted homeland’s and the world’s major music festivals including Laneway Festival, Meredith Music Festival, Falls Festival, Boogie Woogie Festival, SXSW, CMJ, Perth International Arts Festival and Darwin Festival, toured with acclaimed singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett and Vance Joy, opened for J. Mascis, Sons & Daughters, EMA, Juana Molina, The Dodos, The Mountain Goats, The Drones and Laura Marling, as well performed as a musical guest on several episodes of SBS‘ Rockwiz.
After several years as a frontperson, Cornelius decided it was time to focus on creating music under her own name, and as you’ll hear on her solo debut single “Jealousy,” her solo work is a marked departure from her critically applauded work in Teeth & Tongue, as the material is stripped down to a sparse arrangement of Cornelius’ dynamic, PJ Harvey-like vocals, accompanied by her strummed guitar, dramatic drumming and backing vocals. And by stripping down the material to its bare essence of songwriter, vocals, guitar and drums, the listener must not only pay attention to the songwriter’s vocals but to the lyrics as well — and in this case, “Jealousy,” a song based on one of the most hideous yet common human emotions may arguably be some of the more direct, empathetic writing of her career.  You can practically feel the bile and resentment of the song’s narrator, who focuses on what she lacks and what others have; however, the song should serve both as a reminder and warning — after all, you don’t know what someone else had to sacrifice to be in the situation they’re in now, and if you did, you might not have done so.
Cornelius’ solo EP is slated for release later this year, but along with the release of “Jealousy,” she announced a handful of solo dates in Los Angeles and New York, along with a series of dates opening for Paul Kelly. Check out the tour dates below.
Tour Dates 
* without Paul Kelly
08/23: Hush Club at Hyperion – Los Angeles, CA*
09/08: Pianos – New York, NY*
09/13: Arlene’s Grocery – New York, NY*
09/15: Rockwood Music Hall – New York, NY*
09/17: The Hamilton – Washington, DC
09/19: Virgin Mobile Mod Club – Toronto, ON
09/20: Petit Campus, Montréal, QC
09/22: Brighton Music Hall – Allston, MA
09/23: Highline Ballroom – New York, NY
09/24: Sellersville Theater – Sellersville, PA
09/26: Stag’s Head Music Hall – Raleigh, NC
09/27: City Winery – Atlanta, GA
09/29: Sons of Hermann Hall – Dallas, TX
09/30: 3TEN Austin City Limits Live – Austin, TX
10/02: Main Street Crossing – Tomball, TX
10/04: City Winery – Nashville, TN
10/05: Zanzabar – Louisville, KY
10/07: The Magic Bag – Ferndale, MI
10/08: The Clay Center – Charleston, WV
10/10: SPACE – Evanston, IL
10/11: The Cedar Cultural Center – Minneapolis, MN
10/13: Daniels Hall @ Swallow Hill – Denver, CO
10/14: The State Room – Salt Lake City, UT
10/16: Imperial – Vancouver, BC
10/17: Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR
10/18: The Crocodile – Seattle, WA
10/20: Slim’s – San Francisco, CA
10/22: The Roxy Theatre – Los Angeles, CA

With the release of the attention grabbing single “Rose Coloured Glasses” off their debut EP, Melbourne, Australia-based indie rock quintet Smoke Rings saw a rapidly growing national profile, thanks to airplay and praise from Triple J‘s Richard Kingsmill and Dom Alessio, along with airplay on Triple J’s sister station Double J and community radio stations. Adding to a growing profile, the band has played shows with a number of nationally recognized bands in their homeland including Northeast Party HouseMoses Gunn Collective, Green Buzzard, Jarrow and Good Boy — and they have upcoming tour dates with Siamese and Ali Barter throughout September and October.


Produced by Malcolm Besley, who has worked with City Calm Down and The Creases, the Aussie quintet’s latest single “Happiness” off their double A side 7 inch “Go To Hell” will further cement their reputation in Oz for crating anthemic, power chord-based, Brit Pop-inspired tunes, complete with the same sort of swaggering bombast and bitter irony.  And while being warmly familiar — the track will remind some folks of Blur, Oasis and others — the Melbourne-based quintet have a subtle yet unique take to it, as the song carries an earnest yearning within its core.