Category: indie rock

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Dire Wolves Release an Expansive and Mesmerizing New Single Paired with Trippy Visuals

Over the past two years or so, I’ve written a bit about the Bay Area-based avant-garde free rock/psych rock collective Dire Wolves, and although the act has gone through a number of lineup changes, the act which is currently comprised of founding member Jeffrey Alexander (guitar, synths), who has also had stints running Secret Eye Records and as a member of Jackie O’ Motherfucker and Black Forest Black Sea; Georgia Carbone (vocals); Brian Lucas (bass); Faun Fables’ Sheila Bosco (drums, piano); Village of Spaces’ Arjun Mendiratta (violin) and Spires that in the Sunset Rise’s Taralie Peterson (sax), the act has a long-held reputation for crafting lysergic and hypnotic music — and for being incredibly prolific, releasing over a dozen efforts since their formation back in 2008. 

Slated for a June 28, 2019 release through Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records, the Bay Area’s forthcoming album Grow Towards the Light is officially the band’s fourth full-length album, and the album marks the first, full-length effort with Carbone contributing vocals — typically with Carbone signing in her own invented language. The album as the band’s Jeffrey Alexander explains in press notes “thematically tries to express the ‘interconnectedness of all things.” 

Clocking in at a little over 10 minutes, the album’s latest single “Spacetime Rider” is a expansive and free-flowing jam centered around shimmering guitars, a motorik groove. slashing bursts of violin and Carbone’s ethereal, Nico-like wailing. And while bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Velvet Undergound, the track will further cement the JOVM mainstays reputation for mesmerizing and trippy jams with a painterly air; but along with that, the track possesses a cosmic glow — the sort of glow you’d see traveling across the spacetime continuum.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Ron Gallo Releases a Surreal and Feverish Video for Anthemic “Love Supreme (Work Together!)”

Throughout the past couple of years, I’ve written a quite a bit about Ron Gallo, a  Philadelphia-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist and JOVM mainstay, whose musical career began in earnest with an eight year stint as the frontman of the Philadelphia-based indie act Toy Soldiers. Now, as you recall Gallo was in a long-term romantic relationship with a deeply trouble woman — and once that relationship ended, Gallo relocated to Nashville, where he wrote and recorded material that eventually became his acclaimed 2016 full-length debut HEAVY META. Thematically, the album touched upon a number of themes within his own life, including his own personal ideology of abstaining from drugs and alcohol, self-empowerment, domestication, dead and unhappy love, not truly knowing yourself and the things that could happen to you when you don’t, mental illness from the perspective of both sufferer and close observer, and a burning, misanthropic frustration with humanity and civilization. And yet, there was some level of optimism — that music can wake someone up and get them to change what they were doing. As Gallo said in press notes at the time, “this record comes from my frustration with humanity and myself, and from my wanting to shake us all. At my core, I’m compassionate for humanity and the sickness that we all live with, and from that comes something more constructive.”

HEAVY META’s follow-up Really Nice Guys EP was released earlier this year, and the EP was a concept EP largely inspired by the previous year in Gallo’s life in which he was busy touring and promoting his full-length debut — and the EP’s material wound up being a satirical sendup of the contemporary music industry with the EP featuring songs about rough mixes, broken into three parts — iPhone demo, live band demo and overproduced, autotuned, overproduced to death studio recording; the painfully weird inability for those within the music industry to honestly admit that someone is just an awful musician, so everyone winds up saying “well, they’re really nice guys . . . ,” the number of friends, who will ask to be put on the guestlist so that you can never actually make any money off a show, and more.

Gallo’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Stardust Birthday Party is slated for an October 5, 2018 release and the material is inspired by a life-altering, seismic shift in Gallo’s life. Remember the woman who inspired much of the material on Gallo’s critically applauded debut? Well, as the story goes, she had taken a trip to South America, found a healer and miraculously got herself and her life together. Understandably, when Gallo heard the news, his interest was piqued, and he began reading and searching fora  more inward path for his own mental and spiritual development.  Earlier this year, on a whim, the Philadelphia-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist booked a trip to California for a silent meditation retreat. Despite his initial discomfort, Gallo reportedly experienced a profound experience that quickly became the answer for his existential searching — and the thematic core of the album: how inner transformation impacts both the outside world and your perception of it.

Or, as Ron Gallo says in a lengthy written statement about the album:

“Stardust Birthday Party is about human evolution. Specifically, one human’s evolution: mine, Ron Gallo.  That’s the name my parents gave me. Hi.

At one point, I was a very lost mid-twenties person living in Philadelphia, in a relationship with someone struggling with mental health issues and crippling heroin addiction. I was asleep. I didn’t know how to handle my life. I was also writing songs for HEAVY META – my “frustrated with humanity” album. I laugh about it all now, but at the time it all felt like an absolute nightmare. It was the perfect doorway to look inside the place I’d been avoiding forever: myself.

Stardust Birthday Party is about what is happening underneath all of this life stuff. My path inward. The details of my path are pointless because everyone’s path is different. It is about me sitting with myself for the first time and confronting the big question “WHAT AM I, REALLY?” It’s about the love and compassion for all things that enters when you find out you are nothing and everything. I think at one point I wanted to change the world, but now I know I can only change myself, or rather just strip away everything that is not me to reveal the only thing that’s ever been there. And that’s what this album is about, it’s me dancing while destroying the person I thought I was, and hopefully forever.

In the liner notes of John Coltrane’s album A Love Supreme (which we pay tribute to on this album) he wrote: ‘During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music.’

That’s it.  That is the pure essence of creativity. Someone embodying what they have realized about themselves and the world that surrounds them. That is why this album exists. ”

Stardust Birthday Party’s first single “It’s All Gonna Be Okay,” was an angular ripper centered around two disparate things — the first a relishing of life’s ironies with a bemused yet accepting smile that points out that there’s a larger connection to everyone and everything; and that the only way we can actually change the world is if every individual on this planet began to take a serious and sobering look at their own fucked up shit and then do the opposite. Until then, we’re speeding our way down to hell with explosives and lit matches in the backseat.

The album’s second single “Always Elsewhere” continues in a similar vein of its predecessor, an angular and furious ripper that evokes our age of perpetual and unending fear and anxiety that has most of us running around like the White Rabbit, looking at our watches in panic and saying “There’s not enough time! There’s not enough time!” As Gallo says in press notes, “Most of the time we perceive the world, ourselves and others as ideas we have about them rather than what they really are. All our fear and anxiety stems from speculation about what COULD happen, not what is actually happening here and now. I’ve done this most of my life and still do, and the best way I’ve found is to become aware that you are not being aware or present, and suddenly you become present, that’s what this song is for — a frantic representation of modern life and our inability to live in the moment.”

“Do You Love Your Company,” Stardust Birthday Party‘s third  single was a tense and anxious New Wave and post-punk take on garage rock, centered around angular blasts of guitar, a steady backbeat and an enormous, shout-worthy hook but underneath the rousingly anthemic nature of the song is something much deeper, more urgent — the very modern anxiousness and uncertainty that comes about whenever we’re left to ourselves. As Gallo says the song is “about self-inquiry. I think a lot of people struggle with being truly alone or fear silence because it forces them to look inward, but ultimately, i think it’s one of the most important things we can do to understand ourselves and others.”

Stardust Birthday Party‘s latest single “Love Supreme (Work Together!)” is an angular, New Wave-like track that at points sounds indebted to Fear of Music and More Songs About Buildings and Food-era Talking Heads — but centered around a profound observation. As Gallo explains in press notes, “I wrote this song on GarageBand on my phone on an airplane. I was listening to A Love Supreme by John Coltrane, eating my really adorable but terrible tasting airplane meal of bowtie pasta (originally the first verse was about that) and looking down at the earth from the sky where you see no separation between people or things, there is just one thing. The chorus goes ‘God loves it when we work together.’ The God I am talking about is not a specific one, but everything, the one thing that is everything, the common thread in all existence, life, whatever you want to call it. In my head this is the soundtrack to a party in the streets where there is no line between shape, color, size, gender, sexuality, beliefs, anything, none of that shit exists.  Just anyone and everyone dancing kissing hugging laughing at the absurdity that we couldn’t always see that our core we are all the same. Nice!”

Directed by Joshua Shoemaker, the recently released video for “Love Supreme (Work Together!)” is a surrealistic fever dream set in a fully realized and self-contained world and shot in one incredibly long take. “This video is a total mind fuck, and I really love the colors,” says Gallo. “The level of genius and work it took Joshua and his partner Albert to conceptualize it and build the world it takes place in from zero, and then find a way to shoot it all in one shot is beyond me. Iwas just happy to be apart of it. Shoemaker told me he was in a long bout of depression and making this video pulled him out of it and that’s really what the song is all about – making people happy and helping each other out as humans.” 

Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ian Ferguson is a high-school dropout from a one stoplight town outside of Nashville, who started his music career in earnest when he formed and broke up his high school band Kingston Springs just as they were on the verge of a success; in fact, the band had a major label deal on the table, when he decided to walk away from the band.

Interestingly, his solo career can trace its origins to when he accidentally locked himself in his mother’s basement. “I was in my basement, working on some demos,” Ferguson recalls in press notes. “I hadn’t put this idea of ‘making a record’ together in my mind just yet. And there was this faulty door at the top of the stairs that would lock itself and you had to have a key to get out, which of course I didn’t have. I’m messing around when all of the sudden I hear it shut. To this day, I’m not sure what happened. It might’ve been my dachshund Hannah or just some crazy occurrence. I was home alone at the time so I started to freak out, but eventually decided to make the best of it. I had this old HP computer from the 90’s down there and I just went to town.” The end result is Ferguson’s forthcoming solo debut, State of Gold.

Slated for a July 26, 2019 release through County Fair Records, Ferguson’s debut effort was self-engineered with the up-and-coming singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist performing all the album’s instrumentation and arrangements. With no formal training as an engineer, self-recording and self-mixing were initially challenges. ““I ended up teaching myself how to record and mix records, using some goofy computer softwares. I actually mixed the record on that old HP computer from the 90’s using a very impractical way of recording that involved burning 16 CDs for each song. It took me a long time to make the record, but after I got ripped off $1k from an audio engineer for a mix that didn’t sound right, I knew I had to take it on myself and I hope you can hear the love in the labor,” Ferguson says in press notes.

Because of his wild-eyed falsetto, use of layered vocal harmonies, greasy guitars and conversational lyricism, Ferguson’s sound has gained comparisons to the likes of Ty Segall, The Nude Party, David Bowie, Marc Bolan/T. Rex and psychedelic era Beatles — and as a result, some of his fans include a who’s who of contemporary Nashville-based acts including Alabama Shakes and JOVM mainstay Ron Gallo among others.  Of course, when you check out State of Gold‘s latest single, the shuffling psych blues “Worried Walk,” you’ll clearly understand why the comparisons to Marc Bolan are so uncannily apt, as the song sounds as though it could have been released on almost any T. Rex album. However, the song possesses just enough Southern twang to give it a mischievously deceptive anachronistic quality that belies the deliberate and loving attention to craft at its core.

“Worried Walk is a song about that feeling when you’re aware you are having an emotional and mental meltdown,” Ferguson explains in press notes. “It’s about that feeling when your mind takes off, all on its own. You try taking a walk to calm yourself down but you find yourself thinking more and more and continuing in a downward spiral.”

Ferguson will be embarking on a short tour to support his solo debut that will include an August 14, 2019 stop at Union Pool. Check out the tour dates below.

 

TOUR DATES

7/26 – Nashville, TN @ Grimey’s – Album Release in-store

8/2 –  Charlotte, NC @ River Jam https://usnwc.org/ian-ferguson/

8/14 – New York, NY @ Union Pool https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1864586

New Video: Don Vail’s Lo-Fi Classic MTV-Inspired Visual for Anthemic “On The Wire”

Mitch Bowden is the founder of Mechanical Noise Studio, a recording studio that reportedly sits at the en dog a quiet, winding country road in Dunnville, Ontario, Canada; the sort of road frequently hared with foxes, windmills and little else. He’s also the founding member and creative mastermind behind indie rock act Don Vail — and over the past decade, all of those different identities have blurred into something synonymous for him. 

Bowden emerged into the Canadian indie rock scene with the release of his 2009 Jordon Zadorozny-produced, self-titled debut, an effort that deftly paired harmonic warmth and dispassionate math rock riffs. And instead of serving as a launching pad for Bowden’s career and rising profile, he spent the better part of close to a decade, releasing eight songs and playing two shows.  2016’s self-recorded, self-performed effort Fades managed to be a carefully crafted effort that on a certain level revealed the effect that isolation can have on an artist — way too much personal control, mastery of their craft countered by crippling perfectionism and a lack of urgency. 

Interestingly, during the spring of 2017, Bowden (and in turn, Don Vail) received a rather fortuitous invitation as a result of the previous year’s Fades — an invitation to record material at Grouse Lodge Studios in Ireland. Of course, there was a major catch: the window to show up and record wasn’t open indefinitely; in fact, Bowden only had a matter of a few weeks to turn sketches and pieces of ideas into fully fleshed songs. And at the time, Bowden realized that the band needed to be more than just him. So he enlisted the assistance of longtime drummer Victor Malang, guitarist Matthew Fleming and keyboardist/vocalist Kori Pop for the recording sessions for the act’s forthcoming third full-length album That Stand of Tide. 

The newly-constituted quartet wrote and rehearsed material together — and they all treated the experience at Grouse Lodge as an opportunity not to be wasted. And although the album was finished back at Mechanical Noise Studios in a similar fashion to his previously released material, the trip to Ireland pushed Bowden to get his shit together and finish the album. Reportedly, the album’s 13 songs at points recall Guided by Voices, Jon Biron and Figure 8-era Elliott Smith. While that may be arguable, the album’s latest single “On The Wire is an anthemic bit of fuzzy power pop centered around big and seemingly effortless hooks, and a palpable anxiety and uncertainty; but at its core is an intentionally heartfelt earnestness. 

Directed by Mitch Barnes and the band’s Victor Malang, the recently released video for “On The Wire” follows a painfully awkward and incredibly sad sack man, desperately trying to figure himself out and forge his own identity. And as he does so, he fails miserably — at everything. If there’s one thing that he’s good at, it’s his own nerdy awkwardness. Interestingly, the visuals are purposefully lo-fi, and bring to mind classic MTV with a mischievous aplomb. 

 

Titus Calderbank is an up-and-coming Vancouver, British Columbia-based singer/songwriter and musician, who according to his Facebook fan page is “determined to create songs that inspire and motivate.” Calderbank’s latest single “Mistakes” is an sparsely arranged yet heartfelt and anthemic ballad, centered around twinkling piano, soaring organ, strummed guitar and the Vancouver-based singer/songwriter’s soulful and aching Sam Fender-like vocals.

Recorded at Vancouver’s Echoplant Sound Studio with Ryan Worsley, the song as Calderbank explains in press notes “is a song about failure and regret. A song about missing the mark. It’s also a song of redemption and asking for forgiveness. Humans often fail short. At the end of the day, we have to a accept that we’re tall trying our best.” Calderbank adds, “What I hope to communicate through this song is that mercy and forgiveness are always an option. We can either be slaves to our past mistakes or make peace with them and move on. We can grace our enemies with forgiveness or we can die with bitter hearts.”

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Beverly Kills Release an 80s Rom Com-Inspired Visual for Swooning and Anthemic “In This Dim Light”

Over the past year or so, I’ve written a bit about the Gothenburg, Sweden-based indie rock quartet Beverly Kills, and as you may recall with the release of singles like “Fourteen,” “Melodrama,” and “Dreamless” the band quickly received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a shimmering, anthemic hook-based 4AD Records era take on dream pop. In fact, last year was a huge year for the rising Swedish dream pop quartet: they were named one of the Best Swedish Indie Debuts of 2018” by HYMN, received a Gaffa Awards nomination for Breakthrough of the Year, and played a Viva Sounds Festival showcase in their hometown.

Building upon a growing profile, the band played several by:Larm Festival sets opening for Agent bla, Moaning and Vasterbron earlier this year — and they signed to Australian indie label Hell Beach and Swedish label Welfare Sounds, both of whom released “Revellers” earlier this year. The Gothenburg-based dream pop quartet and JOVM mainstays have been rather busy this year as they promptly followed the release of “Revellers” with the limited edition double single vinyl “In This Dim Light”/”Melodrama,” which was released last month. “In This Dim Light” continues a run of shimmering and anthemic singles — but unlike their predecessors, the song conveys the tumultuous and desperately urgent quality of young love. 

Directed by Jakob Ekvall, the recently released video features the band playing at a high school prom in front of a rom full of young people, who are trying to navigate the turbulence of being a teenager — and that of being in a relationship. Most of the video focuses on a prototypical nervous and anxious nerd, who shoots his shot and eventually wins the attention of the prom queen. With the heavy use of pastels and some clearly 80s-like outfits, the video seems indebted to John Hughes films and other classic 80s films. 

Taylor Knox is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who can trace the origins of his musical career to over a decade ago, when he was recruited to play drums for The Golden Dogs, an act that was considered one of Canada’s criminally under-appreciated bands — and coincidentally, one of Knox’s favorite bands, too.

During his stint with The Golden Dogs, Knox forged friendships with several other bandmembers, who all go on to form Zeus. As a result of Zeus, Knox was a frequent presence at the band’s Toronto studio Ill Eagle, which naturally offered him the perfect environment and the opportunity to begin experimenting with his own original material. Interestingly, Knox and his then-newly formed Zeus were tapped by Jason Collett to be his regular backing band — and it brought him into contact with an even wider circle of musicians, including Luke Doucet, whom he joined on Doucet’s tour to support his acclaimed Steel City Traveler. He also joined Hayden for the Us Alone recording sessions and subsequent tour. He also played with acclaimed Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Rich Aucoin.

With the release of the Lines EP and his full-length debut Love, Knox stepped out into the spotlight, crafting anthemic power pop that has drawn comparisons to acclaimed and highly influential Canadian power pop act Sloan and others. Slated for a June 7, 2019 release, Knox’s sophomore album Here Tonight thematically focuses on the mystery, stillness and artistic inspiration of the night; in fact, Knox’s tendency to be a night owl was a major influence on the album. And when he started writing the material that would eventually comprise his forthcoming sophomore album, he focused on precisely what he was thinking about — and what he wanted to do and say with it. He didn’t want to waste the insight that nighttime has always given him.“I really try to make sure the songs I write come from a place of not something I want to write but something I kind of have to get out. What I’m feeling below what I’m thinking,” Knox says in press notes.

Sonically speaking, the album, which sees Knox working with Josh Korody reportedly sees Knox continuing with the power pop that has won him attention — fuzzy and /or crunchy power chords, forceful drumming and rousingly anthemic hooks; but he sought guidance and inspiration from much more contemporary artists like The Weeknd, SZA and Prince in terms of production and songwriting, as well as the legendary Joni Mitchell. In fact, Korody’s production helped to add new textures to his overall sound, thanks to the incorporation of synths and keyboards to create glistening gutter tones. Knox also worked with Rob Schnapf in Los Angeles, who helped make one song reportedly to sound like one of the best Oasis songs to never appear on an Oasis album.

Interestingly, what sets the Toronto-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s sophomore album apart from this previously released work is a free flowing spontaneity that was encouraged by Korody and Schnapf — and that left room for unrestrained creativity. Doing this, he says, “leaves a little bit of room for discovery with the collaborator and room for their influence. I’ve always tried to do that but I did it more this time because I have confidence that I’ll be able to come up with it on the spot.” Adding to that, Knox brought in a number of Toronto’s finest musicians to collaborator for the sessions including July Talks‘ Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay and Tokyo Police Club‘s Dave Monks.

Here Tonight‘s latest single is the rousingly anthemic, Live It Up.” Centered around fuzzy power chords, forceful drumming, a big arena rock friendly hook and an ethereal falsetto, the track recalls 120 Minutes alt rock — in particular, The Posies, The Breeders, Smashing Pumpkins and even more contemporary acts like Silversun Pickups but with the free-flowing air of a bunch of guys jamming and coming up with something incredibly cool and full of furious passion.

 

 

Manchester UK-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Till is the creative mastermind of the buzz worthy dark wave recording project Ghosts of Social Networks. Citing the likes of The Cure, Bauhaus, Echo and the Bunnymen, Nick Cave, The National and Radiohead, the project according to Till upcycles old-school forms of songwriting while applying a fresh sonic veneer to them, reportedly pairing innovation with a timeless sense of melodicism.

Till’s Ghost of Social Networks debut single “Love Potion” began a string of acclaimed singles praised for their production and overall sound from the likes of BBC Introducing, several zines across the UK and the blogosphere — and he’s received airplay from Steve Lamacq‘s program and BBC 6 Music. All of this built up quite a bit of buzz before the release of his debut EP, My Lucifer.  Interestingly, Till’s latest Ghost of Social Networks single “Don’t Let Me Down” manages to effortlessly recall Heaven Up Here-era Echo and the Bunnymen, as its centered around a brooding and forceful rhythm section, angular guitar lines, an anthemic hook, the song captures a tempestuous and swooning love affair — the sort in which the song’s narrator may recognize will end in disaster.