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: Up-and-Coming Aussie Singer-Songwriter Gena Rose Bruce Releases a “Twin Peaks”-like Visual for “Rearview”

Can’t Make You Love Me is the highly-anticipated full-length debut of Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Gena Rose Bruce. Slated for a June 28, 2019 release through Dot Dash Records, the Tim Harvey-produced effort took roughly three years to write and record and features a notable guest spot from multi-instrumentalist Jade Imagine, who plays bass and guitar on the album — although fans have received glimpses of the album with its first two singles “Coming Down” and “The Way You Make Love” being released independently last year. 

The album’s latest single “Rearview,” which is the second single that Dot Dash has released this year, is centered by a sparse arrangement of atmospheric synths, shimmering guitars, propulsive and pulsating drumming and a smoldering vocal performance by Bruce imbued with longing — and while bearing an uncanny resemblance to Mazzy Star and JOVM mainstays Still Corners, the song as Bruce explains “is a conversation I could never have with this person, it’s about accepting failed love. I was angry at the time but I didn’t have the energy to stay angry or feel sorry for myself.” 

Directed by Alex Badham, the recently released video has a weird, fever dream-like logic as it begins with Bruce standing in the forest, and spontaneously jumping into the backseat of a driverless car. Throughout her ride, the car and her are confronted by a number of equally weird, unexpected guests, who join her as she takes control of the car. 

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New Video: The Soft Cavalry Releases a Meditative and Cinematic Visual for Swooning and Slow-burning Album Single “Dive”

Formed by husband and wife duo Steve Clarke and Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, The Soft Calvary is a new project, and their self-titled full-length debuts slated for a July 5, 2019 release through renowned indie label Bella Union Records. For Clarke, the album is equal parts labor of love and long-held dream finally realized — and perhaps more important, the first album that he has masterminded from start to finish with the assistance of his wife and his brother Michael, who produced the album.

Reportedly, the album’s material radiates both midlife crisis and elation — the sigh of finally finding real contentment and peace after living a messy life, full of heartache and confusion. And as Clarke emphasizes in press notes, an album that he “needed” to make, as it can also be seen as a way of rewriting his own narrative: Divorced in 2011, Clarke admittedly spent the next three years in a haze. He had played bass and sung backing vocals in bands as a session musician and as a touring member since the late 90s, while also working as a tour manager.

At one point, he began working as a tour manager for the reunited Slowdive. “I was hungover in the back of my van trying to work out how I was going to fit all the band’s gear into this confined space whilst I still had all of mine from the show that I’d played in London the night before,” Clarke recalls in press notes. “The second of two sold-out shows at Hammersmith Apollo with David Brent!” Coincidentally, that same day Clarke was introduced to Goswell. A year later, they were living together in Devon, before marrying last year. Rachel not only turned his world “upside-down,” as he recalls, she also unwittingly produced “the catalyst” for the new project. “I’d always had ideas but never felt that anything I had to say was worthy of anyone’s attention, let alone my own,” he says in press notes. “I wish that I could have done this fifteen years ago but, in reality, I simply couldn’t have. But I’m not one to overly wallow. I’d rather plough the various levels of confusion into songs.”

The album in many ways is an exercise in creative and personal therapy. The first songs Clarke wrote specifically for the album are Goswell-inspired paeans to fate, love, new beginnings and hope. But as he began to open up, the past found a way to seep in — the years of frustration, confusion, anxiety, heartache. If there’s a theme to the material, reckons Steve, “it’s recovery versus new doubt. I’m there, in the middle. The word that kept coming back to me was ‘resilience.’ With the right mentality and people around you, especially family, we get through and find a level of hope.”

Interestingly, the writing sessions were in some way an extended conversation between the couple. Clarke, as Goswell says “is always writing, his head always full of lyrics.” Goswell, as Clarke says “reins me in when I get obsessed. She’s a good editor. She says my songs can still work without sections of words, that leaving spaces is OK.” As Clarke began to assemble songs, he invited a handful of dear friends including Mercury Rev‘s and Midlake‘s Jesse Chandler (keys), Tom Livermore (guitar) to assist with the album’s overall sound and tone. “I’d grown up with guitar bands and I didn’t want it to be overly guitar-y,” Clarke says. “We evolved things by trying out ideas. We’d be build things up, and then stripe them back and build them again.”

Interestingly, as the album progressed Goswell formed Minor Victorieswith members of Mogwai and Editors while all of those bands had gaps in their schedules, eventually writing and recording an album, which Goswell and Clarke contributed vocals and lyrics for. “It got the cogs turning on a writing and lyrical level, and gave me a certain amount of self-belief,” Clarke recalls.

After completing their album together, Clarke found a name for the band and the album, seemingly out of thin air — The Soft Calvary. “I can’t explain its literal meaning,” he says. “It just made sense.” Might Rachel be the calvary? “Maybe! it would be subconscious, but that makes sense too, strangely.”

The album’s first single is the cinematic yet ethereal “Dive.” Centered around towering layers of shimmering guitars, a propulsive backbeat and Clarke and Goswell’s gorgeous harmonies, the track is one part contented sigh, one part sweetly, romantic swoon — but underneath all of that is a creeping sense of everything being a fleeting dream. “How long will this wondrous dream last?”  

Directed by Handheldcineclub, the recently released video is a meditative and lyrical experience that follows a middle-aged man, as he arrives at his local pool. He changes his clothes and heads to the pool. We see his as he climbs up the stairs of the pool’s Olympic-sized diving pool and as he approaches the third level, the man becomes visibly uncertain and by the time he reaches the diving board, he’s terrified — to the point that he eventually climbs down, appearing self-conscious and foolish. After seeing a fellow swimmer successfully dive, we see our protagonist with a newly acquired bravely, climbing up the stairs and about to dive off the board. While literal in some sense, the video suggests that sometimes we need to be inspired and gently pushed out of out comfort zones to take leaps of faith. 

Comprised of Titus Brown, Matt Lambert and Jim Crook, the Atlanta, GA-based indie rock All The Saints can trace their origins back to Alabama, where they were raised on a diet of Crimson Tide/SEC football and loud “college rock.” In the early aughts, Brown, Lambert and Crook relocated to Atlanta, where they were signed by Touch & Go Records; in fact, they have the distinction of being the last band signed to the label before it shut down daily operations.

Over the next decade, the members of All The Saints honed their craft while developing an expansive, explosive sound, which made their live show a must-see; however, over the past few years, live gigs became infrequent. Interestingly, the folks at Chunklet Industries contacted the Atlanta-based act and suggested that the band should work on a full-length album with Jason Kingsland, an acclaimed producer, who has worked with Deerhunter, Band of Horses and others.

Slated for release next month, the Atlanta-based indie rock trio’s long-awaited third full-length album Look Like You’re Going Somewhere was recorded over the course of three days at Maze Studios, and the album reportedly at parts finds the band sounding like Spacemen 3, The Jesus Lizard, Sonic Youth and Sleep simultaneously — all while capturing their live sound.

“Creak,” Look Like You’re Going Somewhere‘s expansive and thunderous lead single is a smoldering and murky track centered by a a serpentine bass line, a slow, driving rhythm and shimmering guitars, snarled and howled vocals before ending in scorching feedback reminiscent of Nirvana’s “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” — but at its core is a uneasy, sinister vibe.

 

New Video: Rising British Singer/Songwriter and Guitarist Lauran Hibberd Releases a Satirical Video for Grunge Rock-Inspired “Hootchie”

Lauran Hibberd is a rising Isle of Wight-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, whose witty off-kilter lyricism has welcomed comparisons to the likes of Courtney Barnett and Phoebe Bridgers. And over the past year or so, Hibberd has received a growing national profile across the UK as a result of airplay on the BBC Radio 1 programs of Annie Mac, Huw Stephens and Jack Saunders, and praise across the blogosphere and elsewhere from the likes of The Line of Best Fit, The 405, Clash Magazine and Gigwise. 

Earlier this year, the Isle of Wight-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist tour the UK and EU with acclaimed indie act Hippo Campus — and adding to a big 2019 for the rising artist, she earned a slot on the BBC Introducing stage at this year’s Glastonbury Festival.  

Fresh off the heels of all of this big news, Hibberd’s latest single, “Hoochie” is a 90s alt-rock/grunge rock-inspired track centered around the rising British singer/songwriter and guitarist’s ironic delivery, rousingly anthemic hooks, fuzzy and jangling power chords and forceful drumming, Now, we’re all familiar with what the slang term actually means but what makes the song hilarious is that it finds Hibberd laughingly taking the piss out of the term. 

The recently released video emphasizes the song’s theme by satirizing phone sex line TV commercials, as we see Hibberd play very specific and very bland fantasy roles — the high school cheerleader, the girl with daddy issues, the dominatrix and so on. At one point her backing band joins her. “Hoochie is a 90’s slang term for a bit of a you know what,” Hibberd says of the video. “I wanted to embrace that in the only way I knew how. No fruit or vegetables were harmed in the making of this. Why don’t you text/ call and see what happens? Filmed by Skinny Mammoth in a dodgy garage on the Isle of Wight. Say what you will”.

Ellis Redon is a San Antonio, TX-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrument, who emerged into his hometown’s indie scene with the release of his debut 2013’s Into the Jungle, a synth and drum machine-based effort with limited guitar; however, his recently released album Bloody Honey is a decided change in sonic direction, as the album’s material finds the San Antonio-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist collaborating with a live backing band featuring Andres Nunez (bass), Por Do Sol’s Shaz Soto (drums) and Soft Mothers‘ Luis Miguel Rocha De La Fuente (lead guitar).

Redon and his backing band have spent the past two years crafting and honing their sound. “For the record we spent about two years. It was a rough two years of making the record fueled by heartbreak and substance abuse and making friends and family,” Redon says in press notes. “When we brought Shaz Soto as a drummer, we had to rework the songs and bring them into a different light.”

“Black Hole,” Bloody Honey‘s latest single is centered around jangling and distorted power chords, thunderous drumming, Redon’s snarled vocals and an anthemic hook and while bringing 120 Minutes-era MTV alt-rock/indie rock to mind, the track reveals a songwriter with an ambitious attention to craft while dexterously (and easily) writing material across disparate genres.

 

 

New Video: Chennai, India’s The F16s Release a Hallucinogenic and Feverishly Visual for “Amber”

Comprised of Abhinav Krishnaswamy (guitar), Harshan Radhakrishnan (keys), Joshua Fernandez (vocals, guitar) and Sashank Manohar (bass), the up-and-coming Chennai, India-based indie rock act The F16s can trace their origins when its founding trio met while attending college in 2002. With the release of their debut EP Kaleidoscope, the Chennai-based indie rock quartet received national attention — with the band being named one of Rolling Stone India’s Artist to Watch For. Since then, the act has released another EP and their full-length debut, 2016’s Triggerpunkte both of which have helped expand their profile nationally and internationally; in fact, the band has managed to play at some of their homeland’s biggest festivals — and recently, they’ve made strides into Southeast Asia with a growing six city tour across Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. 

Building upon a rapidly growing international profile, the members of The F16s recently signed to Oxford, MS-based indie label House Arrest, who will be releasing the band’s soon-to-be released EP WKND FRNDS on May 31, 2019.”We were fascinated to discover The F16s writing and performing such relatable pop-rock songs so many miles away. We had to reach out to see what their story is, which eventually led to us working together, ” the label says in press notes. “Their new EP WKND FRNDS is a big step for The F16s and we’re excited to see the reaction in both India and over here in the US.” 

Interestingly, the EP’s latest single is the slow-burning and wistful “Amber.” Centered by glistening synths, Fernandez’s plaintive and ethereal vocals, shimmering and jangling guitars and a soaring hook, the song finds the band seamlessly meshing dream pop, bedroom pop and indie rock. And at the song’s core is a swooning yearning for a complicated and uneasy love that’s just ended. 

Animated by Deepti Sharma, the recently released video follows a young woman, who’s desperate to fit in, purchasing a new face online; but after trying on her new face, she finds that her purchase isn’t what it was cracked up to be — and that ironically, her situation is much worse. While being a hallucinogenic fever dream full of ache and regret, the video also subtly comments on bullying culture, instant gratification and several other things. 

Currently comprised of Long Island-born, Brooklyn-based founding member Sarik Kumar (vocals, guitar) with Wes Wynne (guitar), Craig Stauber (drums) and Justin Lieberthal (bass), the Brooklyn-based dream pop act Mars Motel can trace its origins to a series of psych rock and Brit Pop-inspired demos Kumar wrote and recorded during his senior year of high school. Several years had passed and those early demos were seemingly forgotten with Kumar relocating to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where he joined Twin Wave for a three-year stint between 2013-2016.

Kumar rediscovered those high school demos while he was visiting his childhood home and he was inspired to embark on a new creative venture as the lead singer and primary songwriter. Kumar then recruited Wynne, Stauber and Lieberthal to complete the band’s linep, and since their formation, the band has received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a string of releases that draw from from Brit Pop and early 2000s NYC post-punk.

Mars Motel’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Passenger X is slated for release later this year; but in the meantime, the album’s first official single “Coming Up For Air” is a sweeping and anthemic track, centered by shimmering guitars, a motorik-like groove and Kumar’s vocals expressing a plaintive and urgent yearning. And while bearing a resemblance to Radio 4, White Lies and others, the song as Kumar told Substream Magazine “is about an android -like being longing to be human and attempting an alteration. It captures the universal need for connection and the loneliness one can feel in being viewed as an outsider.”

 

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New Audio: Acclaimed Indie Act Imperial Teen Releases a Rousingly Anthemic New Single

Comprised of Roddy Bottum (guitar, vocals), a former member of Faith No More; Will Schwartz (guitar, vocals), who splits his time with hey willpower; Lynn Perko Truell, (drums, backing vocals), a former member of Sister Double Happiness, The Dicks and The Wrecks; and Jone Stebbins, a former member of the Wrecks, the acclaimed indie act Imperial Teen originally formed in San Francisco in the mid 90s.

Their 1996 Steve McDonald-produced debut Seasick was released to praise from Spin Magazine, who went on to list it as their fourth best album of that year and from the New York Times.  Their sophomore album, 1998’s What Is Not to Love found the band ambitiously expanding upon their sound and approach with material routinely clocking over six minutes. Interestingly, album single “Yoo Hoo” appeared on the Jawbreaker soundtrack.  The accompanying video featured the movie’s star, Rose McGowan appearing alongside the band — and it was included as a special feature on the DVD. Also “Yoo Hoo” was heard in the beginning of episodes of Numb3rs and Daria.

The band left Universal Records and signed with Merge Records, who released their third album, 2002’s Steve McDonald and Anna Waronker co-produced effort, On. The album’s lead single “Ivanka” received airplay — and they spent a portion of the year touring with The Breeders. Interestingly, that tour include a stop at famed Hoboken club Maxwell’s, which was recorded and released a few months later as Live at Maxwell’s. 

The band’s Will Schwartz teamed up with Tomo Yasuda for Schwartz’s dance music side project hey willpower, which released their self-titled debut EP in 2005. And by 2007, the members of Imperial Teen returned with two shows at that year’s SXSW and their fourth album, The Hair the TV the Baby and the Band, which landed at #38 on Rolling Stone’s Best Albums list that year. 

The band’s fifth album was 2012’s Feel the Sound and since the release of that effort, the members of the band have relocated to different parts of the country — with members in New York, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Understandably, the geographical locations and distances can make it extremely difficult to write and record music on a regular basis — but the members of the acclaimed indie rock act reconvened to write and record their forthcoming, sixth album Now We Are Timeless. 

Slated for a July 12, 2019 release through their longtime label home, Merge Records, the band’s sixth album will further cement their long-held reputation for crafting deeply personal material that offered a view into the bandmember’s individual lives, complete with victories, losses, aspirations, where they were emotionally and personally — while thematically, the material touches upon time, movement, averting and succumbing to crisis, dealing with and accepting loss and pain.

“We Do What We Do Best,” Now We Are Timeless’s latest single is a swaggering, arena rock friendly track centered around power chords, an enormous hook, buzzing synths, a propulsive rhythm section, a trippy guitar solo and stream-of-consciousness-like lyrics delivered with a mischievously ironic aplomb; but at its core is the free-flowing spontaneity and joy of a bunch of old friends jamming and coming up with something that kicks ass.