Category: indie rock

New Audio: Philadelphia’s King Britt Teams Up with Low for a Lovingly Subtle Industrial Remix of “Fly”

Currently comprised of founding members, and married couple Alan Sparhawk (guitar, vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums) along with Steve Garrington (bass), the Duluth, MN-based critically applauded indie rock trio Low initially formed back in 1993 — and although they’ve had their share of lineup changes, the trio have developed a reputation for being pioneers of a subgenre commonly called slowcore, which focuses on slowed down tempos and minimalist arrangements, centered around the gorgeous and achingly earnest harmonies of Sparhawk and Parker. While the band’s members have largely disapproved of the term slowcore, they’ve managed to eventually shrug off its strictures, recording a beloved Christmas album, as well as having a long-held reputation for a magnetic and powerful stage show. 

Last year, the band celebrated its 25th anniversary together and instead of comfortably going on a victory lap or even resting on the laurels of past accolades and achievements, the band released what may arguably be their most uncompromisingly defiant, brazenly abrasive, challenging and yet gorgeous album in their catalog to date, the B.J. Burton-produced Double Negative. The album, which continued their ongoing collaboration with the producer of Ones and Sixes found the band desiring to go even further with Burton’s aesthetic and sonic palette, to see what someone, who as Sparhawk has described as “a hip-hop guy” could really do with their music. 

Instead of obsessively writing, revising and rehearsing in Duluth, as they normally would do before heading to the studio, the members of Low went down to Eau Claire, WI with rough ideas and sketches that they would work with Burton on in what may arguably be among the most collaborative writing sessions with a producer they’ve ever had. During those sessions, Burton and Low would spend their time building pieces up, breaking them up, breaking them down again and building up again until the material found its proper purpose and force. Although it took them two years to write and record, Double Negative may arguably be considered — by future generations — as a document of our current sociopolitical moment — loud, contentious, chaotic, abrasive, jarring. The material finds Sparhawk’s and Parker’s vocals desperately fighting against an overwhelming tide of noise, other times submerged beneath it. And while the material is a decided and radical sonic departure, the band maintains the gorgeous and achingly heartfelt quality that’s their trademark. 

One of the album’s many standout tracks “Fly” is an eerily atmospheric yet stunning gorgeous track in which Mimi Parker’s vocals float ethereally over a bed of gently swirling, fluttering and glitchy electronics, shimmering guitars and twinkling keys.  The members of Low are about to embark on a relatively short tour that will include two New York area dates, September 13, 2019 at Basilica Hudson and September 14, 2019 at Murmrr — and just before their tour, they released a remix by Philadelphia-based producer and DJ King Britt. Interestingly, the King Britt remix continues the abrasive yet ethereal quality of the original and Mimi Parker’s gorgeous vocals while adding a decidedly industrial electro pop quality to the proceedings It’s a loving take on the material that’s one part continuation of the original’s intent and purpose, one part loving conversation between the remixer and the band. “As a longtime Low fan, a huge amount of respect went into the mix,” King Britt says of his remix. ” I loved their new sonic direction, which spoke to my Fhloston Paradigm project. My mix was a response and continuation in a way of a magical space they already created. Mimi Parker’s vocals were some of her best. A true honor.” 

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New Video: Brooklyn’s Jonny Couch Releases a Delirious and Goofy Visual for “Vertigo”

Earlier this month, I wrote about the up-and-coming, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriterr Jonny Couch. Initially Couch started his career as a drummer, playing in a number of local punk bands before reinventing himself and his career as a solo artist with the release of 2016’s debut EP Animal Instinct, a soulful take on 80s synth pop that drew comparisons to Bryan Ferry — and received praise from Louder Than War and High Times. 

Building upon a growing profile, Couch’s highly-anticipated Peter Mavrogeorgis-produced full-length debut Mystery Man will reportedly further develop the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s reputation for crafting infectious material that’s seemingly descended from 70s and 80s power pop and New Wave. “My favorite bands are Cheap Trick and Buzzcocks,” Couch says in press notes, “but this is more of a personal record than a band effort, highly influenced by power pop solo artists like Nick Lowe.” But there’s also elements of Duran Duran and The Psychedelic Furs as well.

Coincidentally, Couch’s forthcoming full-length debut is also deeply influenced by the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s love of classic film noir — in particular, films like Body Heat and Body Double. In fact, the album is centered by deep film-noir metaphors, from the album’s title, its artwork and even song titles like ” Vertigo” “Framed” and others.

Now, as you might recall, album title track “Mystery Man” was a sleek , Roxy Music meets No Jacket Required-era Phil Collins -like track centered around atmospheric synths, shimmering and angular guitars, a motorik-like groove, a soaring hook and Couch’s plaintive vocals.  The album’s latest single “Vertigo” is a sleek yet anthemic bit of New Wave-inspired synth pop that recalls Cheap Trick and The Cars — and continuing in a similar vein as its predecessor, the song reveals an ambitious, arena rock meets Top 40 populist bit of songwriting underpinned by the dizzying sense of confusion that comes when you’ve maybe fallen for someone, yet aren’t quite sure what to do about it. 

Directed by Jordan Edwards, the recently released video for “Vertigo” brings to mind some of the glorhsouly goofy and slap-dash videos of early MTV — including cheesy 80s styled graphics and stock footage from the 30s and 30s. It continues a run of trippy and delirious visuals that reveal Couch’s good-natured, mischievous humor. 

Last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Brooklyn-based shoegaze duo Parrot Dream. And as you may recall, the act which is comprised of Santiago, Chile-born, Brooklyn-based Christina Hansen Appel (vocals, keys) and Gonzalo Guererro (guitar) was formed back in 2013 — and after relocating to Brooklyn, the duo developed a reputation for crafting sprawling and shimmering and hazy soundscapes that have amassed more than 500,000 Spotify streams. 

Good Eye Records released the Chilean-born, Brooklyn-based duo’s full-length debut, Light Goes last year. Written and recorded over a two year period, the material on the duo’s full-length debut touched upon themes of connection, love, memory and clarity.  “Woven,” the first bit of new material from the band since the release of their full-length debut was originally written and recorded during the Light Goes sessions but was cut from the album. However, it’ll be included on the album’s follow-up effort, Light Goes: B-Sides EP. Centered around shimmering synths, towering layers of reverb-drenched guitar, propulsive drumming, Hansen Appel’s plaintive and longing vocals and an enormous hook, the towering, classic shoegaze-inspired track finds the band writing some of their most ambitious material of their growing catalog. Thematically, the song is a love song full of aching longing that simultaneously finds the band asking some of life’s larger questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Up-and-Coming British Post-Punk Act Squid Releases an Explosive and Expansive New Single

With the release of a series of critically applauded singles, an incendiary live show, and three packed Glastonbury Festival sets, the up-and-coming disco post-punk, disco funk act Squid — Ollie Judge (vocals, drums), Lous Borlase (guitar, vocals), Arthur Leadbetter (keys, strings), Laurie Nankivell (bass, drums) and Anton Pearson (guitar, vocals) — have quickly developed a growing national profile. 

Building upon that momentum, the act which splits its time between Brighton, where it initially formed and London will be releasing the Dan Carey-produced EP Town Centre through Carey’s Speedy Wunderground Records digitally on September 6, 2019 — with a physical release on November 15, 2019. Clocking in at seven and a half minutes, the EP’s  new single “The Cleaner” will likely remind listeners of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo-era Devo, Talking Heads, Entertainment!-era Gang of Four and LCD Soundystem  as the track is centered around a slinky, disco funk bass line, explosive blasts of squiggly synths, cowbell led drumming, angular guitar lines, explosive feedback and shouted lyrics within an expansive song structure that’s one part post-punk, one part art punk, one part No Wave freak out. And as a result, the song manages to evoke the uncontrolled, neurotic frustration of someone who’s at the end of their rope. 

“‘The Cleaner’ is a lost acquaintance, one that we’ve spent the past year trying to get to know . . . tirelessly working and turning up whenever needed,” the band says about their latest single. “We work for the money to spend out time doing other things. ‘The Cleaner’ imagines the divided work and play structure and thinks about breaking from it.” 

Initially began as the solo recording project of Seattle-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Natasha El-Sergany that focused on spectral balladry and late-night exploration, the Seattle-based shoegazer project Somesurprises has gradually expanded into a full-fledged band featuring Josh Medina (guitar, synth), Laura Seniow (bass) and Nico Sophiea (drums) since the release of the project’s 2016 debut effort Voice Memos

2017 found El-Sergany collaborating with Josh Medina for the ambient album Serious Dreams, an effort that was released to critical applause from the likes of The Quietus, Bandcamp, The StrangerSeattle Weekly and Tiny Mixtapes. The following year, the project expanded to a full band with the addition of MX-80 Sound’s Nico Sophiea aend Red Ribbon‘s Emma Danner (bass) for that year’s Alt, an effort that Aquarium Drunkard compared to “an imaginary collaboration between Grouper and Spiritualized.” Interestingly, the band started off this year with a collaborative split tape with fellow Seattle-based act Supercandy, some candy that featured contributions from Brenan Chambers, Lori Goldston, Monika Khott and Ambrosia Bardos, who added layers of guitar effects, cello, vocals and trumpet.

The band has built up a strong profile in their hometown, opening for the likes of Circuit Des Yeux, Carla dal Forno, A Place to Bury Strangers and The Cave Singers — and they’ve toured the West Coast. Building upon a growing profile, the band will be releasing their self-titled full-length debut through Drawing Room Records. Slated for a September 20, 2019 release, the Seattle-based sheogazers self-title full-length finds the band exploring a wide range of styles from intensifying meditative drones to songs, where the same moment never quite happens twice. And unlike their previously released material, the vocals and lyrics are much more focused — with the material thematically longing for and seeking knowledge of the self, to guide the way out of one’s own mind.
Clocking in a little over five minutes, “High Rise,” the latest single off the Seattle-based shoegazers forthcoming full-length, self-titled  album is an expansive and shapeshifting song that begins with a pensive and slow-burning, shimmering intro that slowly builds up into an explosive power chord and motorik groove driven middle section. The song then closes out with a pensive and slow-burning, shimmering coda to close off a mind-bending and expansive song that sounds like the perfect accompaniment to experimenting with hallucinogens.

 

 

New Video: Follow Up-and-Coming Aussie Act Sunscreen on a Nostalgic and Hazy Journey on Sydney Commuter Trains

Sunscreen is a Sydney, Australia-based up-and-coming dream pop/garage rock act, featuring Sarah Sykes, Alexander McDonald, Hugo Levingston and Oliver Ellis. With the release of their attention-grabbing debut EP 2017’s Just A Drop, the Sydney, Australia-based quartet rapidly developed a national profile, opening for the likes of DMAs, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Jen Cloher and Ali Barter and playing sets at Farmer & The Owl and Grampians Music Festival. 

Building upon a growing profile, Sunscreen’s forthcoming Simon “Berkfinger” Berkelman-produced sophomore EP High Over Love finds the band crafting material that reportedly reflects the psyche of a romantically confused young person trying to survive in the big city. Written over the course of the past couple of years, the EP explores and touches upon romantic idealization, heartache and self-possession with a frank and earnest vulnerability. 

The EP’s first single, EP title track “High Over Love” will further cement the band’s growing reputation for crafting shimmering, hook-driven and earnest guitar pop — and while nodding at The Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde, the track focuses on a narrator that’s reeling from a confusing and uncertain love.  

Directed and shot by Madeleine Purdy, the recently released video for “High Over Love” is a nostalgic and hazy ode to the the band’s hometown that features the band’s Sarah Sykes commuting to and fro on Sydney commuter trains. We see Sykes riding trains daydreaming and trying to sleep — essentially attempting to escape for just a little bit. In fact, she manages to escape so much that she winds up dancing and performing with her bandmates without anyone noticing. (Sounds a bit like New York doesn’t it?) The video according to the band’s Sykes portrays “the concepts of invasion of privacy, and feelings of desire to escape in a setting that is familiar: the everyday commute on Sydney trains.” 

“With this video, we didn’t want to venture into a fantasy music video world — the band wanted to make something unapologetically Sydney,” Madeline Purdy adds in press notes. “The video is awash with nostalgia immediately, I think because of the rarity of the shooting style and performance. We spent all day on trains: just the band, myself, the shooter Ash Pepper and a camcorder, with no lights or tripod. As the hours went by, the comfort of such familiar liminal spaces — stations, carriages — really emerged. On a public train there are no airs, no pretence – we were just a bunch of people with a camera and a song shuttling through the city like everyone else.”

New Video: Surf Curse Releases a Cinematic “Midnight Cowboy” Inspired Visual for Their Latest Single

Comprised of Reno, NV-born, Los Angeles-based duo Nick Rattigan (vocals, drums) and Jacob Rubeck (guitar) the Los Angeles-based indie rock act Surf Curse formed back in 2013 when its core duo started the band in Reno. Since relocating to Los Angeles the band emerged from their adopted hometown’s local DIY, all-ages, punk scene, developing a reputation as one of the region’s best contemporary live acts, amassing a fervent, die-hard following — at first locally and now internationally.

The duo’s forthcoming Jarvis Tavaneire-produced third full-length album Heaven Surrounds You is slated for a September 13, 2019 release through Danger Collective Records and the album is a coming of age epic, inspired by the cult films the duo cherished while growing up in Reno. Sonically, the album reportedly is a bold and decided step forward for the band.  Last month, I wrote about the album’s first single, the swooning and lush “Disco” — and while nodding at The Smiths and others, the song is an urgent love song, evoking the throes and passions of first love with an uncanny accuracy.  

The album’s latest single “Midnight Cowboy” continues on a similar vein as its predecessor: shimmering, hook-driven Smiths-like guitar pop, centered around the narrator’s unfulfilled longing for a different life than the one he currently has — a life of hustling and grifting out of desperate necessity. Written and directed by the band’s Jacob Rubeck, the recently released video for “Midnight Cowboy” was shot by the band’s Nick Rattigan, Julien Kelly and Melissa Ramirez and stars Rubeck and Jamie Simone. Influenced by the 1969 movie of the same name, Rubeck moves to the big city and becomes a prostitute. We follow Rubeck’s character as he meets his various johns — and rationalizes what he does; but we also see him full of regret and self-loathing throughout. 

New Audio: Up-and-Coming British Indie Rock Act Penelope Isles Release a Sludgy and Slow-Burning New Single

Throughout the course of this year, I’ve written a bit about the Brighton, UK-based indie rock quartet Penelope Isles. And as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of Devon, UK-born, Brighton-based sibling songwriting duo Jack Wolter and Lily Wolter, along with Jack Sowton and Becky Redford is centered by the bond between the Wolters, a bond that ironically was strengthened when Jack, who’s six years older moved out of the family home to study art when he was 19. “By the time I moved home, Lil was not so much of an annoying younger sister anymore and had grown up and started playing in bands and writing songs. We soon become very close. I had written some songs, so we started a band called Your Gold Teeth. We toured a bit and then Lily left for Brighton to study songwriting.”

When Lily Wolter studied in Brighton, she met Jack Sowton and Becky Redford, with whom she formed a band. And as the story goes, when Lily Wolter returned home to the Isle of Man for the holidays, the idea of forming a new band rapidly developed. Although Jack and Lily have long written separately, they chucked their disparate songs into a shared song pot, their new band was fueled by a passion for DIY alt rock/indie rock — and are influenced by the likes of Deerhunter, Pixies, Tame Impala, Radioheadand The Thrills among others.

The up-and-coming Brighton-based indie rock act’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Until the Tide Creeps In will officially drop on Friday through renowned indie label Bella Union Records, and the album thematically is informed by the Wolters’ shared experience — in particular leaving home, moving away, dealing with the various transitions in life and growing up. “We are six years apart, so we had a different experience of some of this, but we share a similar inspiration when writing writing music. Family, leaving home, disconnection and connection all ring bells!”  The Wolters explain in press notes. 

“Chlorine,” Until the Tide Creeps In’s Sleepy Sun-like album opener was centered around an arrangement that subtly bridges shimmering dream pop, shoegaze and fuzz pop — and while buoyant and seemingly ethereal, the song possessed a bracing quality, much like stepping into a cold shower. Interestingly, the song has an underlying emotional push and pull; the sort of complexity brought about by obligation and duty and the need to go out on your own. “Round,” the album’s second single found the band meshing 70s AM rock with shoegaze while evoking the ebb and flow of the complicated and ambivalent emotions of adulthood.”

Centered around a quiet-loud-quiet song structure, complete with a slow-burning and sludgy groove, shuffling drumming and an anthemic hook, the album’s fourth and latest single “Cut Your Hair” manages to subtly recall 120 Minutes-era alt rock. “One of my favourite songs to play live. The slow sludgy groove always feels like a refreshing moment in the set. I wrote it in our old garage on the Isle of Man whilst in uncertainty of whether or not to move away to pursue a career in music or not,” the band’s Jack Wolters says of the album’s latest single. “I had a small studio set up and it started with the drum groove and the rest happened really quickly. I guess it’s a fixtinal tale and concept of what could have been me if I didn’t have a go at doing ‘the band thing’. A don’t give up on your dreams kinda thing.”