The JOVM pays tribute to the great Chris Cornell.
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.
Mark Lanegan is a Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as the frontman, and founding member of Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees, and for collaborating with an incredibly diverse array of artists and bands throughout his lengthy career including Nirvana‘s Kurt Cobain on an unreleased Lead Belly cover/tribute album recorded before the release of Nevermind. The Ellensburg-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter was also a member of renowned grunge rock All-Star supergroup/side project Mad Season with Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam‘s Mike McCready. After Screaming Trees broke up in 2000, Lanegan joined Queens of the Stone Age and is featured on the band’s last five albums — 2000’s Rated R, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, 2007’s Era Vulgaris and 2013’s . . . Like Clockwork. He’s also collaborated with The Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins and has collaborated with former Belle and Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell on three albums. Additionally, he has contributed or guested on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley-Bird, Creature with the Atom Brain, Moby, Bomb the Bass, Soulsavers, Greg Dulli’s The Twilight Singers, UNKLE and others. And although he’s managed to be rather busy throughout the years, Lanegan has also developed a low-key solo career in which he’s released nine studio albums that have been critically applauded and have seen a fair amount of commercial success.
Lanegan’s 10th full-length effort Gargoyle is slated for an April 28, 2017 release through Heavenly Recordings and interestingly enough, Lanegan can trace the origins of the album’s material and sound back to early 2016. At the time, the renowned grunge rocker was working on some ideas for what might be a new solo album, when he received an email from a friend and collaborator, the British based musician Rob Marshall, who he had first met several years before when Marshall’s former band Exit Calm had supported Soulsavers, a band that Lanegan had been fronting. The email thanked Lanegan for his participation on an album that Marshall had recorded with his newest project, Humanist while offering to write music for Lanegan to return a favor to the grunge pioneer. As Lanegan recalls in press notes, his response was along the lines of “Hey man, I’m getting ready to make a record, if you’ve got anything? Three days later he sent me 10 things… !”
Early on in the writing process, Lanegan had written “Blue Blue Sea,” a rippling mood peice that he thought and felt would be more fruitful direction for the songs on the album. “It’s almost always how my records start,” the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter explains in press notes. “I let the first couple of songs tell me what the next couple should sound like, and it’s really the same process when I’m writing words. Whatever my first couple of lines are, tell me what the next couple should be. I’ve always built things like that, sort of like making a sculpture I guess.” Within about an hour, Lanegan and written words and recorded vocals for two of the instrumental tracks Marshall had written and recorded at Mount Sion Studios in Kent UK. Interestingly, the music Marshall had written had managed to fit perfectly with the direction Lanegan had been thinking of for some time — an expansion of the Krautrock-inspired electronic sounds and textures of his previous two albums Blues Funeral and Phantom Radio. Eventually Marshall wound up co-writing six of the album’s 10 songs with the remainder of the album being written and produced by Lanegan’s longtime collaborator Alain Johannes at 11AD Studios in West Hollywood.
As the story goes, everything was polished and finished within a month, which has been unusually fast by Lanegan’s recent standards. “I definitely feel like I’m a better songwriter than I was 15 years ago,” Lanegan stays in press notes. “I don’t know if I’m just kidding myself or what, but it’s definitely easier now to make something that is satisfying to me. Maybe I’m just easier on myself these days, but it’s definitely not as painful a process, and therefore I feel I’m better at it now. But part of the way that I stay interested in making music is by collaborating with other people. When I see things through somebody else’s perspective it’s more exciting than if I’m left to my own devices.”
Gargoyle‘s second and latest single “Beehive” pairs Lanegan’s imitable boozy, growling baritone vocals with a bluesy and swaggering production featuring shimmering guitar chords and enormous tweeter and woofer rattling beats, essentially pushing Lanegan’s recent forays into the blues into the 21st Century; but in a way that feels both warmly familiar and yet new.
Currently comprised of founding members Corey Glover (vocals), Vernon Reid (guitar, synths, backing vocals) and Will Calhoun (drums, percussion, keys, samples, backing vocals), with Doug Wimbish (bass, drums, guitar, programming, backing vocals), the New York-based rock quartet Living Colour originally formed in 1984 and they quickly received attention for a sound that meshed elements of heavy metal, funk, jazz, jazz fusion, soul, prog rock and alternative rock with lyrics that frequently focused on the personal and sociopolitical, frequently commenting on and attacking Eurocentrism and racism in America. The quartet’s original lineup, featuring featuring the founding trio of Glover, Reid and Calhoun with Muzz Skillings (bass) cut their teeth and honed their sound and live show playing shows at CBGB’s.
Interestingly, the band found an unlikely champion in The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, who took the band under his wing, produced a demo, which caught the attention of Epic Records. And with the release of 1988’s commercially and critically successful full-length debut Vivid, the band’s original lineup, quickly rose to attention with their smash hit “Cult of Personality,” which won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance; they also won the Best New Artist Award at 1989’s MTV Video Music Awards. Adding to a growing international profile, The Rolling Stones had Living Colour opened for the rock legend’s Stateside leg of the Steel Wheels tour. They quickly followed that up with 1990’s sophomore effort Time’s Up, which also won a Grammy.
After releasing three full-length albums with a number of major and minor hits, the band split up with the members focus on a variety of creative projects; in fact, Wimbish, Calhoun and Glover had teamed up with Glover in a project called Headfake, which played frequently in the New York City area. And as the story goes, in late 2000, Headfake played at CBGBs with Reid joining them, leading to rumors of a Living Colour reunion. Of course, those rumors proved to be true, as Living Colour went on their first tour together n six years the following summer.
The members of the band have since released one of their most experimental efforts to date, 2003’s Collideøscope, followed by 2005’s rarities and B-sides compilation, a few live albums, 2006’s Best of compilation, Everything Is Possible: The Very Best of Living Colour and 2009’s Chair in the Doorway. And over the past couple of years, the band has been on a rather busy touring schedule, touring to support the 25th anniversary of their seminal effort Vivid.
As a personal note, as a music obsessed boy, I’ve almost always listened to a wildly eclectic variety of music, and in the 80s metal was a big thing. I loved Metallica, Def Leppard, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue and the like; but when I watched their videos and concerts, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me — and even in my 8 year old mind, I knew that I couldn’t be those guys. I was black and from Queens. However, seeing someone who looked like me with guys who came from neighborhoods that I knew or had family in, kicking ass and taking names was a revelation. And it made them heroes to me.
Sadly, I was too young to catch them back then; however, I have since seen them twice — once at Afropunk during their Vivid 25th Anniversary Tour and later at Brooklyn Bowl, and I’m thrilled to know that the band is playing tonight at City Winery.
Now if you had been frequenting this site over the last few months of 2016, you’d recall that with the release of “Help Yourself” and several other singles the Welsh-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sarah Howells, best known as Bryde quickly exploded into both the British and international scene as she received praise from Nylon, The Line of Best Fit and Earmilk and airplay from BBC Radio 6, BBC Radio Wales, Radio X and Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1 show for a sound that’s been compared to the likes of Jeff Buckley, Sharon Van Etten, Ben Howard and London Grammar while thematically focusing on complex, ambivalent and hopelessly entangled relationships.
Howells’ previous single and her JOVM debut, “Wouldn’t That Make You Feel Good” was a boozy and woozy dirge in which the Welsh-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s aching vocals are paired with bluesy yet shoegazer-leaning power chords reminiscent of PJ Harvey, in a song that built up into a cathartic and explosive bridge before gently fading out. Howells’ latest single “Less” continues her successful collaboration with producer Bill Ryder-Jones and it’s a viscerally forceful 90s alt rock-leaning track featuring an alternating quiet, loud, quiet song structure with an anthemic and cathartic hook. And while still channeling PJ Harvey, the song also manages to nod at Liz Phair, Hole and others, complete with an unflinching honesty and vulnerability.
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.