Category: covers

Red Hot has been producing great music to promote diversity and equal access to health care since 1990. The first project was the Cole Porter tribute Red Hot + Blue, quickly followed by Red Hot + DanceNo AlternativeStolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, and Red Hot + Rio. Over the past 15 years Red Hot produced two successful projects with Aaron and Bryce Dessner – Dark Was The Night and Day of the Dead – along with a tribute to Arthur Russell and several other projects. 

Yesterday, was World AIDS Day. And to commemorate the occasion, Red Hot reissued their acclaimed Fela Kuti tribute, Red Hot + Riot, which featured contributions from D’Angelo, Questlove, Femi Kuti, Talib Kweli, Sade, the late Tony Allen, Macy Gray, Nile Rodgers, Jorge Ben Jor, Baaba Maal, Meshell Ndegeocello, Dead Prez, Kelis, the late Roy Hargrove, Archie Shepp and many others 20 years after the compilation’s original release. (On a personal note, 20 years ago I was interning at FHM Magazine. I received a press copy of Red Hot + Riot Fela Kuti tribute, and that album was my introduction to both Fela and to Afrobeat.)

The 20th anniversary reissue is remastered and features two hours of bonus material, including a previously unreleased cover of “Sorrow Tears & Blood” by Bilal, an acoustic version of “Trouble Sleep” with Baaba Maal accompanied by the late and legendary kora player Kaouding Cissoko, and an extended version of Sade’s “By Your Side” by Stuart Matthewman. The original release had to be heavily edited to fit the time limit of a physical CD, and the reissue also features a wealth of bonus material, including extended versions of many album tracks, along with early mixes, acapallas, instrumentals, and much more.

And lastly, the folks at Red Hot have released the album on digital streaming platforms for the first time ever.

Just to refresh your memories a bit: Fela Kuti was — and still is — one of the most important African musicians, bandleaders and activists of his time. Sadly, Kuti died at age 58 in 1997 of causes related to HIV/AIDS, two years before Red Hot began the project.

The idea for the Red Hot Fela tribute came from Questlove during sessions for Red Hot’s Gershwin tribute compilation, which featured a collaboration between The Roots and the late and legendary Bobby Womack. Questlove suggested that Red Hot do a cover of Sly Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin On but they couldn’t secure the rights.

The ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa, along with a love of Fela Kuti’s work transformed the project into what we now know. Red Hot secured the rights to Fela’s music, as well as his master recordings, which allowed for both covers and sampling. Questlove kicked things off with a superstar session at Electric Lady Studios covering “Water Get No Enemy,” with a band led by D’Angelo and Fela’s son Femi Kuti, along with members of the Soultronics — James Posner, Pino Pallodino and the aforementioned D’Angelo and Questlove — and Femi’s backing band Positive Force. Nile Rodgers, Macy Gray and Erykah Badu joined the session, although Badu’s vocal didn’t make the final mix. Red Hot producer Beco Dranoff brought in legendary Brazilian artist Jorge Ben Jor to the session a bit too late to join in, but he recorded the basic track of what would become “Shuffering and Shmiling” in another room at Electric Lady overseen by producer Andres Levin.

Red Hot spent the the next two years recording material around the world and at the Fun Machine studio that Andres Levin built in the SoHo office of Funny Garbage, the digital design company co-founded and run by Red Hot’s co-founder and creative director John Carlin. Coincidentally, the Baaba Maal session for Trouble Sleep,” the first session at Fun Machine was on September 10, 2001. 24 hours later, the World Trade Center, which could be seen from the studio windows was attacked. It was a tragic and tumultuous time, but the recordings continued and by the end of the year, there was a joyous celebration of Fela’s music and life about to be released.

The 20th anniversary of Red Hot + Riot is a cause for celebration, but also a sober reflection on the continued devastation of HIV/AIDS, particularly as Sub-Saharan Africa is disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic: Sub-Saharan Africa currently accounts for 71% of people living with HIV, a devastating reality where 75% of global HIV-related deaths and 65% of new infections occur. I think these numbers will give you a better sense of HIVs impact on Sub-Saharan Africa: Of the 38.3 million people living with HIV worldwide, 27.3 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa. 7.8 million of the 27.3 million infected people are in South Africa, including 6,.3 million young adults and children. 11% of the global population is in Africa but it accounts for over 71% of the global impact in terms of infections and mortality.

The stigma around men who have sex with other men, women’s lack of resources and agency and the vilification of sex workers and drug addicts halt all progress that can be made to aid the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Frequently, ignorance is used to distance the culture from undesirable and uncomfortable topics like intimate partner violence, sex education, the LGBQT+ community and women’s lack of agency and access to proper care.

Tragically, young women and girls bear the brunt of the impact from cultural silence and their pain and misfortune is passed onto future generations. The HIV/AIDS epidemic’s root is the intersection of structural and cultural setbacks in awareness, acceptance, understanding and treatment. 

Red Hot celebrates the 20th anniversary reissue by sharing the expanded album’s first single, “Sorrow Tears and Blood,” off the bonus material, a joyous yet righteous, pan-African Diasporic take on the original that sees its talented crew of collaborators — Bilal, Zap Mama and Common — seamlessly meshing elements of jazz, neo-soul, hip-hop and Afrobeat. As Black folk — hell, as people — we need to be concerned with what’s going on in the Motherland, the very cradle of all of us.

New Audio: John Grant Tackles an American Folk Classic

Singer/songwriter and pianist John Grant started his career in earnest as the frontman and primary songwriter for alternative rock outfit The Czars. Over the past decade, Grant has carved out a reputation as a prolific and acclaimed, solo artist.

“God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” is a traditional American folk song that’s famously oft-covered, with the earliest known recordings going back to the 1940s with the likes of Elvis Presley, Bobbie Gentry, Mercury Rev, Moby, Tom Jones, and The Blind Boys of Alabama recording covers. The song famously re-entered public consciousness through a Johnny Cash cover, which appeared on the country legend’s Rick Rubin-produced American Recordings V,

Johnny Cash’s version appeared as temporary music in an edit of Netflix’s smash hit series Inside Man. The show’s director Paul McGuigan claims that it was composer David Arnold’s “brilliant idea to use the song.” They were looking at a cut of an episode when Arnold said “Well this is perfect, so why don’t we do a version of that?”

Grant was recruited to record a new version of the song — specifically for the show. Appearing as the theme song for Inside Man, Grant’s David Arnold-produced cover is a bold re-imagining of the song, giving the song a gritty, modern gospel meets electro rock air.

“I’m so incredibly honored to have the opportunity to sing this fantastic track and to work with David Arnold,” Grant says.

Platinum-selling British electro pop outfit Years & Years formed back in 2010 as a full-fledged band featuring Olly Alexander, Mikey Goldsworthy, Emre Türkmen, Noel Leeman and Oliver Subria. Between their founding and the release of their first two singles — 2012’s “I Wish I Knew” and 2013’s “Traps,” Leeman and Subria left the band.

As trio Years & Years wrote and recorded their full-length debut, 2015’s Communion, which debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Charts — and was the fastest-selling debut album of the year from a British signed band. Communion single “King” reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart and was on the Top Ten Charts in Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Ireland and Switzerland. “Shine” reached #2 on the UK Singles Chart.

Their sophomore album, 2018’s Palo Santo was set in a dystopian world, where androids were the majority and humans were the minority. The album featured singles “Sanctify” and “If You’re Over Me” — with “If You’re Over Me” reaching Top 10 on the UK Singles Chart.

Last March, the acclaimed British pop outfit announced that their third album, the 11-song album Night Call was in production. That same day, the band announced that Goldsworthy and Türkmen had stepped down as active members — and that the outfit would continue as Olly Alexander’s solo project.

Released earlier this year, Night Call debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Chart. Thematically, the album talks about embracing submission and twisting power play to reclaim your strength. And as a result, songs about heartbreak are few; traditional ballads are almost non-existent. “A lot of the songs are patchworks inspired by random memories and hook-ups, or men that I’ve met,” Alexander explains. Album singles “Crave,” “Starstruck” and “Sweet Talker” feat. Galantis have proven to be pulsating queer anthems.

Adding to a big year for the British pop outfit, Years & Years just shared a cover of Crystal Waters’ 90s house/dance pop classic “100% Pure Love,” which will soundtrack Target’s 2022 holiday ad campaign. While still being an enormous club banger, the Years & Years cover is a subtle reimagining that somehow feels and sounds even more 90s house than the original.

“I knew right away that I wanted to work with Georgia and Mark Ralph to bring this cover to life,” Alexander says. “Crystal’s vocal in the original is so captivating, she has such a special energy and that really inspired me when I came to record my vocals. I’m really hoping people enjoy it, it has such a positive message and liberating feel to it…I love it!” 

Live Footage: Kendra Morris Performs “Come Wander With Me” at Tupelo House Studio

JOVM mainstay Kendra Morris is a Florida-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, musician, and multi-disciplinary artist. As a singer/songwriter and musician, Morris can trace the origins of her music career to discovering the joys of multi-tracking and harmonizing with herself on a karaoke machine in the closet of her childhood home. 

Morris went on to play in cover bands in Florida before relocating to New York with her band, which played her original material. Her first band split up and she dealt with the aftermath by writing material alone on an 8-track recorder in her closet. Sometime after, she met longtime collaborator and producer Jeremy Page and signed to Wax Poetics, who released her full-length debut, 2012’s Banshee

The Florida-born, New York-based JOVM mainstay self-released her sophomore effort 2016’s Babble. She went on to collaborate with the likes of DJ Premier9th WonderMF DOOMCzarfaceGhostface KillahDennis Coffey and Dave Sitek among others. And while being a grizzled, New York scene vet, Morris’ work generally embodies a broader sense of American culture, drawing from a wide array of influences across music and film dating back to the mid 20th Century. 

Morris’ most recent album Nine Lives was released earlier this year, Karma Chief Records. While being her first full-length album in about a decade, the album for Morris represents a major turning point in her life both professionally and personally: For Morris, the album heralds the beginning of a new chapter, an evolution to the next level of adulthood — and the first on her new label. The album’s material encapsulates moments from what could easily be nine lifetimes lived over a chronological time period — or nine lives lived simultaneously in parallel and convergent realities in the multiverse.

I wrote about three of the album’s singles:  

  • Penny Pincher,” a slow-burning ballad about reaching the end of the road in a relationship, fueled by regret, heartache, acceptance and steely determination to go forward with your life.
  • Nine Lives” is a strutting, hook-driven bit of soul pop jam centered around Morris’ sultry vocals, stuttering boom bap beats, squiggling guitar, and glistening Rhodes arpeggios that sounds as though it could have been released between 1992-1996 or so. 
  • Circle Eights” is a slow-burning song centered around twinkling Rhodes, a sinuous bass line, a steady rhythm and Morris’ soulful vocals full of a deeply aching yearning.

Earlier this year, Morris stopped at Colemine Records’ Cinncinnati area-based Tupelo House Studio to lay down some stripped down version of tracks from her then-forthcoming album. While she was there, she recorded a hauntingly gorgeous version of the Jeff Alexander and Tony Wilson penned “Come Wander With Me,” a song written for and featured in a 1964 episode of The Twilight Zone with the same name. “Come Wander With Me” was the final episode to be filmed of the series — and interestingly, the song has a connection to Cincinnati: The Twilight Zone can trace its origins back to Cincinnati, where it was originally known as Rod Serling’s The Storm in the mid-’50s.

Both versions are so gorgeous, so haunting that I stopped in my tracks when I heard them. Rooted in heartache, longing, the desire to escape a sad world of devastating heartbreak and loss, “Come Wander With Me” at its core, is a lament older than time itself.

Drummer and composer Tim Carman is best known for his work with acclaimed Boston-based blues act GA-20, an act which also features Pat Faherty (vocals, guitar) and Matt Stubbs (guitar), who is also an acclaimed bandleader and composer in his own right.

Carman’s latest side project, Tim Carman Trio, which features Carman, Steve Fell (guitar) and Ken Clark (electric organ) can trace its origins back to 2020: While quarantining in a New Hampshire cabin, Carman spent his time revisiting records records that his first drum teach and mentor Bob Gullotti introduced him to during Carman’s formative years as an aspiring jazz drummer. 

Inspired by 60s soul jazz artists like Jimmy SmithBrother Jack McDuff and others, The Tim Carman Trio is a no-fills, B3 organ, soul jazz outfit. The trio’s Carman and Dave Brophy co-produced full-length debut, Key Lime is slated for release this year through Color Red Music.  

So far I’ve written about two previously released singles from the band’s forthcoming debut:

  • Blues for Bob,” the Carman written composition, written as a tribute to his mentor and drum teacher, is a cool and funky strut centered around Carman’s steady and efficient time-keeping and some self-assured and fiery soloing from Fell and Clark. 
  • A shuffling Art Blakey-like Latin take on the Bud Powell composition “Buster Rides Again,” centered around Clark’s muscular organ work, Fell’s bluesy guitar lines, Carman’s hi-hat-driven time-keeping and some additional percussion accents from Dave Brophy.

Key Lime‘s latest single is the trio’s take on “Not A Tear,” inspired by Wynton Kelly Trio’s take, which appeared on 1964’s It’s Alright. It’s a rarely covered, beautiful tune that makes a unique transition from slow-burning ballad to 6/8 bembe-like feel. The Tim Carman Trio take is a loose yet soulful take that displays the individual members’ musicianship and their unique simpatico — with a subtle reworking of the arrangement to accommodate organ and guitar.

Carman mentions the the composition is “fun as hell to play” and notes that the trio had a great time working it out in the studio.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Nation of Language Covers The Replacements

Rising Brooklyn-based synth pop trio and JOVM mainstays Nation of Language — Ian Richard Devaney (vocals, guitars, percussion), Aidan Noell (synth, vocals) and Michael Sue-Poi (bass) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Devaney and Sue-Poi were members of The Static Joys, a band that became largely inactive after the release of their sophomore album. As the story goes, Devaney was inspired to start a new project after hearing hearing OMD‘s “Electricity,” a song he had listened to quite a bit as a child in his father’s car.

What initially started out as Devaney fooling around on a keyboard eventually evolved to Nation of Language with the addition of Noell and Sue-Poi. Between 2016-2019, the Brooklyn-based synth pop trio released a handful of singles that helped to build up a fanbase locally and the elsewhere.

The JOVM mainstay’s full-length debut, 2020’s Introduction, Presence was released to critical praise, landing on the Best Albums lists that year for Rough TradeKEXPPasteStereogumUnder The Radar and PopMatters. The Brooklyn-based pop trio capped off the year with the “A Different Kind of Light”/”Deliver Me From Wondering Why” 7 inch, which featured the A Flock of Seagulls meets Simple Minds-like “Deliver Me From Wondering Why.”  

Late last year, the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstays released their critically applauded sophomore album A Way Forward, which featured lead album single “Across That Fine Line,” which contained a run of decidedly 80s synth pop-inspired material. As a child of the 80s, “Across That Fine Line” brings back memories of listening to A Flock of Seagulls, Thomas DolbyHoward Jones and a lengthy list of others. And much like the sources that seemingly inspired it, the song is rooted in earnest, lived-in songwriting.

“‘Across That Fine Line’ is a reflection on that moment when a non-romantic relationship flips into something different,” Nation of Language’s Devaney explains in press notes. “When the air in the room suddenly feels like it changes in an undefinable way. It’s a kind of celebration of that certain joyous panic, and the uncertainty that surfaces right after it.  
“Sonically, it’s meant to feel like running down a hill, just out of control. I had been listening to a lot of Thee Oh Sees at the time of writing it and admiring the way they supercharge krautrock rhythms and imbue them with a kind of mania, which felt like an appropriate vibe to work with and make our own.”

Earlier this year, the rising Brooklyn-based synth pop outfit made their late night, national TV debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where they performed “Across That Fine Line” is a segment filmed at Baby’s All Right. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstays completed a lengthy, headlining, international tour that included a March 2, 2022 stop at Webster Hall with Dark Tea.

Fittingly released for Pride Month, Nation of Language covered The Replacements‘ 1984 classic “Androgynous.” Written by Paul Westerberg as a twinkling piano-driven ballad celebrating gender non-conformity and gender non-conformity based relationships centered around Westerberg’s emotional delivery, Nation of Language’s take is contemplative yet playful while featuring atmospheric synths, skittering beats and Devaney’s plaintive vocals.

“One of the things that made covering ‘Androgynous’ so exciting is that, for me, so much of the original song is carried by Paul Westerberg’s incredible melodies and emotional delivery, and that really leaves a lot of opportunity to imagine new instrumentation,” Nation of Language’s Ian Devaney says in press notes. “I felt like as long as I was able to channel enough of that emotional power but bring the vocals into my own space, it would be a challenging and worthwhile endeavor.” 

The “Androgynous” cover will appear on a limited edition 7″ vinyl that will also feature a surprise single on the B-side. The 7″ will be released in August through the band’s direct-to-customer store and will be available for pre-order upon its digital release.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Blinker The Star Teams up with Emmanuelle Boies on a Lush and Yearning Cover

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spilled a copious amount of virtual ink covering the Blinker The Star, led by its  Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind, Jordon Zadorozny. Initially started as a solo recording project, Blinker The Star has gone through several different iterations throughout its existence, including being a full-fledged band, as well as featuring a rotating cast of collaborators and players.

Zadorozny’s tenth Blinker The Star album, last year’s Arista was a covers album that saw the Canadian artist tackling hits by SolangeZZ TopNo Doubt, EurythmicsPet Shop BoysBoz ScaggsThe Rolling StonesLand of TalkAerosmith and others. 

Continuing upon his long-held reputation for being remarkably prolific, Zadorozny’s 11th Blinker The Star album is dropping later this year. The album’s third and latest single, “Touch” is a cover of a song originally written and recorded by Digital Noise Academy, a project that featured Zadorozny, Failure‘s Ken Andrews, Creeper Lagoon‘s Sharky Laguana and an acclaimed cast of collaborators. The song appears on the project’s only album to date, 2013’s Synemy.

The Blinker The Star cover, which features Montreal-based vocalist Emmanuelle Boies is a fairly straightforward cover of a criminally under-appreciated and lushly arranged pop ballad featuring some well-placed, razor-sharp hooks, twinkling keys, shimmering guitars and some Guitar Hero-like guitar licks paired with Zadorozny and Boies’ gorgeous harmonies. But underneath the careful, deliberate attention to craft is a song full of palpable, earnest longing.

“I’d always loved the song and thought it deserved more attention,” the Pembroke-born and-based JOVM mainstay explains. “Emmanuelle and I had a few days alone at the studio this past spring, so we decided to see what our voices would sound like together and thought that ‘Touch’ would be the perfect song. It was written to be sung as a duet and once we lined our phrasing up, I knew it was going to work. 

“It’s a very sensual song and not only was it fun to sing, I loved getting a bit loose with the electric guitars during the end part. A lot of my time in the studio is spent in a very sober, analytical frame of mind, so it was fun to chug a beer and put on my Joe Perry hat for an hour.”

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Ibeyi Teams up with BERWYN on a Swaggering and Impassioned Re-Imagining of Black Flag Anthem

Deriving their name from the Yoruba word for twins ibeji, the acclaimed French-Cuban, London-based twin sibling duo and JOVM mainstays Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee) — Lisa-Kainde Diaz and Naomi Diaz — can trace the origins of their music career to growing up in a deeply musical home: their father, Anga Diaz, was best known for his work as a member of the intentionally acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club and for collaborating with Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez and Compay Segundo. Anga died when the twins turned 11.

After their father’s death, Lisa-Kainde and Naomi began studying Yoruba folk songs and the cajon, an Afro-Caribbean drum that the twins’ father played throughout most of his career. Interestingly, although Yoruba is primarily spoken in Nigeria and Benin, the African language has been spoken in some form in Cuba since the 1700s, when the slave trade brought Africans en masse to the Caribbean. So when the twins started studying their late father’s musical and culture heritage, they had a deeper understanding of their father and of their ancestral history.

Ibeyi’s 2015 self-titled debut was released to widespread, international critical applause. Thematically, the album dealt with the weight of the past — in particular, their father’s life and death, their relationship with each other, their origins and their connection with their roots. Sonically, the album saw the Diaz Sisters quickly establishing a unique sound with elements of electro pop, hip-hop, jazz, the blues and Yoruba folk music.

The French-Cuban JOVM mainstays’ sophomore album 2017’s Ash saw them writing songs firmly rooted in Afro-Cuban culture and history — but while arguably being among the most visceral, politically charged material of their catalog to date, with the album’s material thematically touching upon race, gender and sexual identity. 

Slated for a May 6, 2022 release through XL RecordingsSpell 31, Ibeyi’s third album derives its title from “Spell 31” in The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, which interestingly enough became the premise of the album’s first single “Made of Gold,” a lushly textured song featuring atmospheric synths, buzzing bass synths, skittering tweeter and woofer rattling beats, the twins’ gorgeous and dreamy harmonizing and a guest spot from Gambian-British emcee Pa Salieu.

When the twins returned to the studio to write and record new material, they had felt a sense of chaos, informed by the chaotic state of the world surrounding them. As they got to work, they set out to invoke the age-old teachings of their ancestors to remobilize the power of their birth-given destiny as Ibeyi. 

The album reportedly sees the twins on a path to restoration in pursuit of true harmony, healing and magic — all of which, we desperately need right now. The JOVM mainstays commissioned activist and storyteller Janaya Future Khan to write an essay for them, after meeting the activist and storyteller. Khan explains “Ibeyi’s Spell 31 is their boldest offering yet, an antidote to apathy in a divided world.” They explain further, “Spell 31 casts with conviction, transmuting nihilism into sangoma, binaries into endless dualites, moral austerity into abundance. A subversive and halcyonic manifesto from queens of a sovereign land, Ibeyi occupies the liminal, the space between life and death, past and present, right and wrong, and calls for the interior revelations that create the systemic revolutions we long for.”

Continuing their successful collaboration with their long-time producer Richard Russell, Spell 31‘s 10 songs were written, produced and recorded by the duo and features appearances from Jorja SmithBERYWN, the twins’ father and mother, and the aforementioned Pa Salieu. The album also features a reimagining of Black Flag‘s “Rise Above.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about album track “Sister 2 Sister.” Centered around a hyper-modern production featuring wobbling bass synths, skittering beats, glistening synths and the twins’ uncanny and gorgeous harmonizing, “Sister 2 Sister” is inspired by their Afro-Latin roots and their sisterhood: The song sees the twins recalling a fond memory of singing along to Shakira in the mirror. But they also talk of the knowledge that despite the times they might be at odds with other, they know they can always depend on and rely on each other.

Spell 31‘s latest single sees the JOVM mainstays re-imaging Black Flag‘s 1981 anthem “Rise Above” that features a guest spot from London-based artist BERWYN. Having never heard the song before, Lisa-Kainde and Naomi were presented the song’s lyrics by their producer Richard Russell. They quickly got to work, looping an old sample of their father drums, improvising a completely new sonic take for a song originally written back in the 80s, that still resonate now.

Centered around stuttering, reverb-drenched beats, buzzing bass synths, the Diaz Sisters soulful and impassioned delivery, the Ibeyi take on “Rise Above” still calls out the rich and powerful, who control us — and young people’s desire to stand up and make a new, fairer world. BERWYN delivers a fiery guest verse in which he says “if the revolution is now, I’m the first to join in the fight!” The collaboration between the JOVM mainstays and BERWYN manages to make a vital connection between punk rock, hip-hop and Black Lives Matter — reminding the listener that the struggles of punks in the 80s are the pretty much the same as BLM today.

“We read the lyrics and we immediately felt their relevance to how we felt about the world in its current state,” Lisa-Kainde Diaz explain sin press notes. “We got to work on the melody and had the full song done in 5 minutes. Jorja Smith heard the track and told us we had to get BERWYN on the song. We had him by the studio to listen to the full album. I left to make tea, upon returning to the studio BERWYN had already written his verse for “Rise Above,” before he had even finished listening to the album. We knew we had something special, what a gift!”

New Video: Pink Mountaintops Cover Black Flag

Founded by British Columbia-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Black Mountain frontman Stephen McBean in 2004, Pink Mountaintops has always supplied him an outlet for his more arcane fascinations and obsessions.

The 12-song Peacock Pools, the first batch of new material from Pink Mountaintops in over eight years, is sparked from his self-described magpie-like curiosity for a diverse and wild array of pop culture: the sci-fi boy horror of David Cronenberg, Disney Read-Along Records from the 1970s, early Pink Floyd, mid-career Gary Numan, John Carpenter movies, Ornette Coleman live videos, a 1991 essay on the cult of bodybuilding by postmodern feminist writer and thinker Camille Paglia, and more.

Featuring contributions from Redd Kross‘ Steven McDonald, Melvins‘ Dale Crover recorded live in the studio, the Peacock Pools‘ material took shape from a bath of songs McBean first pieced together during the pandemic’s early days: “I’d moved into this cool little ’50s rancher house outside L.A. and was just mucking about in my bedroom studio, and pretty soon I started reaching out to some friends who were also shacked up and craving broadband sonic collaboration,” Black Mountain and Pink Mountaintops’ Stephen McBean recalls.

Over the next few months, McBean began working remotely with an All-Star lineup of indie rock, psych rock and garage rock players that included Destroyer and Black Mountains’ Joshua Wells (drums, piano); Feels and Death Valley Girls‘ Leana Myers-Ionita (violin, vocals); Ryley Walker and Steve Gunn‘s Ryan Jewell (drums); Ty Segall‘s and Emily Rose & The Rounders’ Emily Rose Epstein (vocals); and Black Mountain’s and Sinoia Caves‘ Jeremey Schmidt (keys).

Produced by McBean and mixed in Vancouver by Dave “Rave” Oglivie, Pink Mountaintops‘ fifth album may arguably be the most eclectic, strangest and unpredictable batch of songs to date.

Peacock Pools‘ second and latest single sees McBean and company crafting a piano-laced and bluesy, garage psych take on Black Flag‘s pent-up and wiry “Nervous Breakdown” that unspools with a cool, surfer dude on shrooms-like insouciance.

“Steven McDonald used to always play a disco version of that bassline to annoy [Black Flag co-founder] Keith Morris when they were sound-checking for OFF!, and it ended up fitting perfectly with the demo I’d made,” McBean reveals, referring to McDonald and Morris’s hardcore supergroup. Speaking of Morris, he emphatically approves of the Pink Mountaintops cover, sharing the following: “Great job taking a song that’s been beaten to death by numerous punker dunkers and turning it into your own song! BRAVO!!!!”

McBean created a mischievous accompanying visual for “Nervous Breakdown” that features found footage and appearances from McBean, Red Kross’ Steven McDonald, Feels and Death Valley Girls’ Leana Myers-Ionita, Destroyer and Black Mountain’s Joshua Wells and Ryley Walker’s and Steve Gunn’s Ryan Jewell rocking out in their respective homes.

Peacock Pools is slated for a May 6, 2022 release through ATO Records and Cadence Music Group.