Category: indie rock

Patrick Kapp is a Chicago-based signer/songwriter, guitarist and creative mastermind behind the solo recording project Midwestern Dirt. Since the project’s formation in 2017, the Chicago-based Kapp has written, recorded and self-released three full-length albums including his most recent, this year’s Sayonara.

Midwestern Dirt’s sound is informed by Radiohead, Deerhunter, Wilco, and Pavement: reverb-drenched guitars paired with propulsive drumming and lyrics that thematically concern themselves with both personal experiences and the world at large.

Sayonara was recorded last May in Atlanta’s Sleeping Partner Studios on 16-track tape machine. The album finds Kapp continuing to make Midwestern Dirt a family affair: “We recorded over four steamy days in Georgia on a 16-track tape machine with two of my wife’s other brothers playing bass and drums. This has essentially been our recording setup for all three Midwestern Dirt LPs to date,” Kapp says in press notes. Additionally, the studio was run by Kapp’s brother-in-law.

The album’s latest single “Black Lotus” is a slow-burning track centered around reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive drumming, Kapp’s plaintive falsetto and an alternating quiet-loud-quiet structure and slowly builds up in intensity until the song’s euphoric coda. Sonically, “Black Lotus” reminds me The Bends-era Radiohead with a shoegazer-like quality to it. “The chords to this track were written the day after David Bowie died and sat around for awhile sans lyrics as a voice memo on my phone,” Kapp recalls. “Years later the words started to take shape. Musically, the verses have a meditative energy while the drums slowly build in expression, intricacy, and power as the song grows, with the final chorus being a burst of sonic euphoria.”

New Video: Athens, GA’s Easter Island Releases a Gorgeous and Cinematically Shot Visual for Soaring “Always Room For Another”

Rising Athens, GA-based dream pop act Easter Island — sibling’s Ethan (guitar) and Asher Payne (keys), Ryan Monahan (guitar), John Swint (drums) and Justin Ellis (bass) have developed and honed a sound that’s been compared to the likes of Explosions in The Sky, My Bloody Valentine, DIIV, Pedro the Lion and others. Their full-length debut, 2012’s Frightened featured material, which appeared in a number of TV show including ABC’s Off The Map, MTV’s Awkward and an live appearance on a 2019 episode of the CW’s Dynasty.

Adding to a growing profile, the act has shared stages with a number of acclaimed acts including David Bazan, The B52’s Cindy Wilson, The Low Anthem, Bully, Wild Nothing, White Rabbits, Valley Maker and a lengthy list of others. Over the past six years or so, the members of the Athens-based act have been working on new material in various studios across the country while touring and making stops across the national circuit touring — with stops at SXSW, CMJ, Treefort, Underground Music Showcase, Secret Stages and AthFest. They’ve even traveled to Japan to work on material — and to shoot the video for Take All The Time You Think You Need’s single “Island Nation.”

Speaking of Take All The Time You Think You Need, the Ryan Monahan-produced album which is slated for a December 2020 release draws from a diverse and eclectic array of influences including Sufjan Stevens, Max Richter and The Never Ending Story. The album’s latest single, the cinematic “Always Room For Another” originally premiered on Billboard back in 2018. The single is an incredibly cinematic track, centered around shimmering guitars, ethereal textures, a propulsive groove led by thunderous drumming, plaintive falsetto vocals and euphoric hooks paired with earnest songwriting packed with an emotional wallop.

Directed by the band’s Ethan Payne, the gorgeously shot, cinematic visual for “Always Room For Another” follows the band’s Ryan Monahan on an epic journey through Denver and eventually through White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Throughout the video, the viewer is supposed to get a sense that its protagonist is on a quest to ultimately find himself.

Live Footage: Palace Winter’s Tennis Court Sessions

The Copenhagen, Denmark-based pop duo and JOVM mainstays Palace Winter — Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born, Copenhagen-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager — built upon a rapidly growing profile regionally and internationally, with the release of their sophomore album 2018’s Nowadays.

Nowadays found the Danish pop duo expanding around the sound that had already won them praise: breezy and melodic, radio friendly pop centered around heavy thematic concerns and lived-in songwriting. Thematically, the album touched upon adulthood and the loss of innocence; the accompanying tough and sobering life lessons as you get older; the freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their life and destiny and so on.

Palace Winter’s highly anticipated third album . . . Keep Dreaming, Buddy dropped today, and unlike their previously released material, the album was written through a long distance correspondence as Carl Coleman was residing in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. “Caspar was sending me these synth hooks and drum loops from Denmark, so I started coming up with melodies and lyrical ideas to record into my phone,” Coleman says of the writing sessions. While Coleman’s lyrics were inspired by Tenerife’s unique landscape, they also draw metaphorical parallels between Mt. Teide, a dormant volcano, which also is one of Spain’s tallest peaks, and the looming fear of a relationship disintegrating, Hesselager’s instrumental parts were inspired by Copenhagen’s landscape. And as a result, the album’s material is literally a tale of two cities and two completely different emotional states.

Over the past handful of months, I’ve written about four of the album’s released singles:

Top of the Hill,” was a great example of the album’s overall tale of two cities and two completely different emotional states. Featuring shimmering and icy synths, thumping beats and an enormous, arena rock friendly hook paired with Coleman’s volcanic imagery-based lyrics, the song captures the bubbling dissatisfaction, boredom, frustration and distrust of a relationship about to boil over and explode.
“Won’t Be Long,” . . . .Keep Dreaming Buddy‘s second single was an expansive song that featured elements of arena rock, glam rock and synth pop, complete with a rousingly anthemic hook, a crunchy power chord-driven riff, shimmering synth arpeggios and strummed guitar. But interestingly enough, the song is actually deceptively and ironically upbeat as it tackles the anxiety of anticipatory grief, as it focuses on a narrator, who is preparing for the inevitable loss of a dear, loved one. Loss and despair are always around the corner, indeed.
“Deeper End,” the album’s third single was a decidedly genre-defying affair that found the duo pushing their sound in a new direction without changing the essentially elements of the sound that has won them attention internationally. Featuring an infectious hook, shimmering synth arpeggios and strummed guitar, the breezy song is one part synth pop. one part 70s AM rock, one part country — but while centered around an unusual juxtaposition: the song as the band’s Carl Coleman explains is “a story about a bad trip at a weird house party I went to with my sister.” Granddaddy’s Jason Lytle contributes a guest verse to the song, a verse in which his character dispenses harsh yet very trippy truths to the song’s hallucinating and anxious narrator.
“Richard (Says Yes),” a playful, thematic left turn that finds the duo writing a big, upbeat party them — but while pushing their sound in a new direction. Centered around their unerring knack for crafting an anthemic hook, “Richard (Says Yes)” is a remarkably proggy take on their sound.

Earlier this year, the duo — with their backing band — filmed a live session from a Copenhagen tennis court. The session featured live versions of two of my favorite songs off the new album: “Top of the Hill” and “Won’t Be Long.”

New Video: Acclaimed Canadian Indie Act Besnard Lakes Release a Surreal and Feverish Video for Slow-Burning “Raindrops”

Deriving their name Besnard Lake in North Central Saskatchewan, the acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated Montreal-based indie rock act The Besnard Lakes — currently, husband and wife duo Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys) and Olga Goreas (vocals, bass), along with Kevin Laing (drums), Richard White (guitar), Sheenah Ko (keys) and Robbie MacArthuer (guitar) — formed back in 2003. And since their formation, the Canadian indie rock sextet have released five albums of atmospheric and textured shoegaze that some critics have described as magisterial and cinematic.

After the release of their fifth album, 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, the members of The Besnard Lakes and Jagjaguwar, their longtime label home, decided it was time to part and go their separate ways. Naturally, that lead to the band to question whether or not it made sense to even continue together. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the members of acclaimed Montreal-based act wound up writing and recording what may arguably be their most uncompromising album of their catalog, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Dispensing with a timeline, the members of The Besnard Lakes took all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Interestingly, some of the songs are old, tracing their origins back to resurrected demos left on the shelf years ago. Others were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek and Goreas Riguad Ranch — with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound. Thematically, the album finds the band contemplating the darkness of dying , the light on the other side, and coming back from the brink: while it touches upon the band’s own story, it’s also remembrance of dear loved ones — particularly Lasek’s father, who died last year. (On vinyl, the album will be a four-side double LP: Side 1 is titled “Near Death.” Side 2 is titled “Death.” Side 3 is titled “After Death.” and Side 4 is titled “Life.”)

From what Lasek observed of his father’s experience, being on one’s deathbed may be the most intense psychedelic trip of anyone’s life: at one point, Lasek’s father surfaced from a morphine-induced dream, talking about how he saw a “window” on his blanket, with “a carpenter inside of it, making objects.” Interestingly, as I read that, I thought of what were Steve Jobs’ last words before dying — him looking past his loved ones and simply saying repeatedly “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” And as a result that surreal and ethereal quality pervades the album’s sound and aesthetic.

“Raindrops,” the album’s first single is a slow-burning song and patient song with a painterly-like attention to graduation and texture, centered around shimmering reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook. Along with the release of The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warning’s cinematic first single, the band announced that the album is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Fat Cat Records here in the States and through Flemish Eye in their native Canada. Additionally, they released a surreal, fever-dream of a video directed by Joseph Yarrmush.

“This song and video details a psychedelic flight through the mind while deep in an altered state,” The Besnard Lakes explain. “The song lyrically references the death of Mark Hollis from Talk Talk (‘Garden of Eden spirited’) and also describes the idea of evolution determining the story of the Garden of Eden.

New Video: Brazil’s WRY Releases a Trippy Visual for Anthemic Album Single “Travel”

With the release of five full-length albums, 1998’s Direct, 2000’s Heart Experience, 2007’s Flames in the Head, 2009’s She Science and 2018’s Indie Rock Hits, the Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil-based rock quartet WRY — Mario Bross (vocals, guitar). Luciano Marcello (guitar), Ítalo Ribero (drums) and William Leonotti (bass) — have developed a sound that’s heavily influenced by Brit Pop. shoegaze and post-punk, paired with lyrics written and sung in English and Portuguese.

The members of the Sorocaba, São Paulo-based quartet also happen to be integral members of Brazil’s indie rock scene: at home, they own a popular rock club, which has frequently hosted internationally acclaimed Brazilian psych rock act, labelmates and JOVM mainstays Boogarins — and as a band, they spent several years in London, successful touring across the UK and Continental Europe, eventually making their rounds on the European festival circuit, with stops at the likes of Barcelona’s Primavera Sound.

Slated for an October 30, 2020 release through OAR, the aforementioned label home of Boogarins, WRY’s 10-song, sixth album Noites Infinitas explores themes of anxiety, despair and unconventional paths towards hope while living in our increasingly divisive world.

WRY has released three singles off their soon-to-be released sixth album, including the album’s first single, “Travel.” Centered around enormous, feedback and pedal effected guitar riffs, thunderous and propulsive drumming, a sinuous bass line and rousingly anthemic hooks “Travel” is a breakneck and energetic burst that’s one part shoegaze, one part Brit pop. Fittingly, the energetic song is paired with an upbeat and positive message about accepting yourself completely, having the strength to face the obstacles thrown in your path — and having the bravery to go on your own, unusual path.

Directed by Ricardo Camargo, the recently released video for “Travel” features WRY’s frontman in front of a series of psychedelic and kaleidoscopic backdrops, and a weird yet trippy ring light/shower head-like contraption and a plastic covering. Adding to the trippy nature of the video, is that it features series of rapid-fire cuts and edits.

New Video: Montreal’s Sébastien Lacombe’s Surreal Quest to Find His Old Hoopty

Sebastien Lacombe is a Montreal-born and-based bilingual singer/songwriter. And over the past decade, Lamcome has released four critically applauded solo albums, which he has supported with extensive touring across Canada, the States and Europe. 2005’s debut album Comme au Cinéma began a run of remarkable commercial and critical success — with the album being released to praise, while featuring three top 10 BDS radio hits.

The following year, Lacombe was selected as one of seven top French-Canadian artists to appear on CBC’s Sacré Talent. Building upon a growing profile, Lacombe’s sophomore album Impressions Humaines featured his fourth top-ten hit, which led to sets at a number of the province’s most prestos festivals, including Les Francofoiles de Montreal — and to a bevy of award nominations.

2011 proved to be a definitive and transformative turning point for the Montreal-born and-based singer/songwriter both personally and artistically: he spent the year living in Senegal, discovering and immersing himself in a new cultural landscape. He was touched by the people he met and their stories — and inspired by the griots he would catch perform. By the time, he returned back to Montreal, Lacombe had a different way of seeing music and life, which wound up inspiring his third album, 2012’s Territoires. The album’s material showcased a new sound and approach through the incorporation of traditional African instruments like the xalam paired with lap steel and acoustic guitar. Additionally, the album featured a guest spot from Dakar, Senegal’s Oumar Sall.

Territoires was released to critical praise and was supported with touring across Quebec, France, Switzerland and a stop in Africa for 2012’s Sommet de la Francophonie. The album’s material also received airplay from French CBC. Capping off a big year, the album received a Critic’s Choice nod from La Presse — and from Le Devoir for his set at 2013’s Francofoiles de Montreal.

Coincidentally, Lacombe was in the middle of a French tour when the shocking and appalling terrorist attacks across Paris and Saint Denis, which also included the infamous attack at The Bataclan in which 90 concertgoers were killed. Lacombe returned home with the desire to write new songs that communicated what he believed was a much-needed message of resilience and unity. And as a result, his fourth album, 2016’s Nous serons des milliers is a response to the increasing violence and divineness that he believed was destroying humanity.

Having grown up in an anglophone neighborhood with francophone parents, Lacombe was naturally drawn to writing and singing in French and English — and while he was initially releasing material in French, he was quietly working on material in English. Interestingly, that same year, he was cast as Pink in the musical The Wall Live Extravaganza. After spending two years in the role, performing in over 100 shows across Canada and the States, Lacombe was at a crossroads both personally and professionally, which led to the beginninig of a collaboration with Erik West Millette, who has worked with West Trainz and Dr. John.

Lacombe and Millette worked together on the writing of Lacombe’s fifth album FLY, which was recorded at Studio B-12 in Valcourt, QC and Montreal’s Lobster Tank Studios and released earlier this year. The album’s material thematically focuses on the universal ideal of freedom: the freedom to truly be your entire self, the freedom to try to achieve your wildest dreams — while overcoming the sturm und drang and sorrows of our lives to the best of your abilities and lastly, of renewal and hope once you’ve gone through the wringer. The album’s material also touches upon love, longing and the desire for independence.

“My Thousand Dollar Car,” FLY’s second and latest single is an anthemic track, centered around jangling electric guitar, strummed acoustic guitar, shimmering lap steel, a propulsive rhythm and an alternating quiet-loud-quiet song structure. But much like Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” “My Thousand Dollar Car” is imbued with the aching nostalgia of a seemingly simple past that you can never get back. In the case of “My Thousand Dollar Car,” Lacombe’s narrator tells a tale of trying to find his first car, a beat up ol’ hoopty that brought him a sense of freedom, joy — and memorable experiences.

Directed by Alejandro Cadilla Alvares, who has worked on CBC’s Offkilter and ARTE’s Disportrait, the recently released video was shot in the Montreal area over this past summer. The video follows Lacombe on a lengthy and surrealistic quest across town to find his shitty, beat up ol’ rust bucket. And when he does, it’s like having reunion with a dear old friend.

Gaspard Eden is a restlessly creative, emerging Quebec City-based singer/songwriter and musician. Eden’s full-length debut Soft Power is slated for release later this year through Coyote Records, and the album’s material reportedly finds the emerging Quebec-based singer/songwriter and musician pushing his sound in a completely new direction from his previously released work while evoking a wide ranger of emotions through melodic soundscapes and poetic lyricism. 

So far, I’ve written about two of Soft Power‘s singles: the brooding, jangle pop track “Pancakes,” a track centered around Eden’s plaintive falsetto and an achingly wistful nostalgia for a seemingly simpler past — and the ethereal, Soft to the touch-era Jef Barbara-like “Automatic Dreams,” which featured Eden’s longtime friend, singer/songwriter Gabrielle Shonk

“Baby Black Hole,” the album’s third and latest single is a slow-burning, Quiet Storm-like R&B take on shimmering indie rock, centered around Eden’s achingly tender vocals that’s a dorky come-on to an object of desire, full of goofy science fiction references. There’s also a bit of mournful clarinet, which adds to the song’s mischievous yet sultry vibe.

With the release of their debut EP, 2016’s More Escher and Random Notes, the rising Helsinki, Finland-based indie act The Holy — Eetu Henrik Iivari (vocals, guitar), Pyry Peltonen (guitar), Laura Kangasniemi (bass), Mikko Maijala (drums) and Eero Jääskeläinen (drums) quickly emerged into the Nordic music scene, quickly developing a reputation for an enormous and rousingly anthemic sound that has drawn comparisons to Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel with Krautrock influences.

Initially cutting their teeth in Helsinki’s small venue circuit, the members of The Holy have taken an explosive and passionate live show to their homeland’s national festival circuit, playing sets at Flow FestivalRuisrockProvinssirock, Iloasarirock and Lost In Music among others. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the members of the Helsinki-based quintet released their full-length debut Daughter last year. The album, which thematically touched upon how the 1990s Finnish economic recession impacted this current generation of its young people was a game-charger for the band, as it the album received praise across both Finland and Europe, eventually garnering a Finnish Grammy (EMMA) Critics’ Choice nomination.

The Holy supported the album with a busy touring schedule across Sweden and the Europe that included the continent’s festival circuit with stops at Eurosonic NooderslagIceland AirwavesReeperbahn Festival, Where Is The Music, JaJaJa Music LondonBerlin, and Vienna. Additionally, while they were touring, German/French TV Arte filmed the band’s set at last year’s Flow Festival in cooperation with Finland’s YLE — and KEXP filmed their Iceland Airwaves set.

Originally scheduled for release this spring and now slated for a November 6, 2020 release through Playground Music, the rising Finnish act’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Mono Freedom is a semi-utopian sci-fi tale, inspired by Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, which explores a number of scenarios of what would happen to Earth if humans were to suddenly disappear. Set in the somewhat distant future on a dying Earth, the planet’s last humans decide to gather their things, build a rocket and travel to the nearest black hole. They know that there is probably nothing out there but it’s one of humanity’s last desperate ideas and last hopes. In the realm of this world, this is generally seen as a positive, not as an absurdly hopeless, dystopian vision.

“During our Daughter tour, I read the science book, The World Without Usby Alan Weisman, and I got inspired and sad at the same time. It seems that humans just took a leap in the evolution progress a million years ago and have been fucking things up since,” The Holy’s Eetu Henrik Iivari explains in press notes. “I started to play with an idea of a space odyssey of the last people on earth, eventually building a rocket and flying into the nearest black hole. And they just don’t make it. They are too dumb to make it. And that’s it. And after a few hundred years, Mother Earth doesn’t even remember it was once occupied by humans.

“And this eventually got me thinking about the Western way of life and the idea of freedom. How one-way, single-minded and boxed-in it is. When you wake up in a modern western city — there is almost nothing you can do that doesn’t rip somebody. It’s late modern capitalism, a jail built on the grounds of believing that you have a choice. And that you make a choice. But most of it is already aimed towards consumerism. We just like to think that we find things by ourselves, but most of it is given. And it’s just so frustrating. To do the right thing from one day to another and navigate in the middle of all this evil around us. 

[But even though the theme is not the lightest in the world, I wanted the album to mirror hope and to be empowering. A friend for people having similar thoughts.”

Earlier this year, the rising Finnish act released a double single, “No Trial In The Dark” and “Twilight Of The Idiots.” “Twilight of the Idiots” is a rousingly anthemic song that immediately brings s A Rush of Blood to the Head-era Coldplay, Peter Gabriel and The Unforgettable Fire  U2 to mind through a combination of earnest emotionality and ambitious songwriting. “No Trial In The Dark” continues in a similar vein but while being much more percussive and cinematic. “I wrote ‘Twilight Of The Idiots,’ ‘Swim,’ ‘The Rocket Song’ and ‘No Trial In The Dark’ very close to each other and we recorded those songs in the same sessions,” Iivari recalls in press notes. “After that I knew what other songs should be on this album and the narrative started to be clear. We followed that path and never turned back.” 

“I Don’t Know,'” Mono Freedom‘s third and latest single continues a run of rousingly anthemic and arena friendly material, centered around deeply earnest songwriting and breakneck yet passionate playing. While sonically, the track brings early U2 to mind — particularly Boy and October — thanks to angular, reverb-drenched guitar chords, forceful and dramatic drumming and Ivari’s plaintive vocals, the song comes from a deeply personal and lived-in place:

“This song is basically about being bipolar. At least on some level. I have no diagnosis and I might not be the right person to talk about it, ” Ivari says “but I’ve been struggling the most part of my life with heavy mania vs. depression and it has taken a huge toll on a lot of things. I have found a way to live with it and function in society nowadays, but it still takes a lot of work every day. It also gives a lot though, being in the deep end of mania is like a drug from the future and I do get a lot of things done. But it’s also super hard to keep that level and it brings you down really really low when you just can’t. 

“I learned from a silly love themed tv show that it’s good to talk about it. To give the people around you some knowledge about it and tools to work with you. So I ended up writing this song and tried to open it slowly. The tune is pretty uplifting and I wanted it to be light and kind of funny, because the last thing I want is to add a shadow of darkness and depression over the matter and keep repeating the pattern of adding shame on this kind of stuff. That it is some mystic dark depressive thing etc. It is just a thing. We all have our things.”

New Video: Rising Aussie Act Telescreen Releases a Bold and Striking Visual for Anthemic “Moving On”

Last year was a breakthrough year for the rising, Melbourne, Australia-based indie rock act Telescreen — Nic Schwarz, Dan Carolan, Ali Ward, Matt Martin and Ollie McIntyre — with EP title track “Growing Pains” getting regular rotation on Triple J Unearthed and community radio across the country. “Growing Pains” was featured on British blog Scientists of Sound before landing at #1 on the global Hype Machine charts. And as a result, the track garnered 15,000 SoundCloud streams within a few days. The rising Aussie act also released their first music video for EP track “In Mind,” which received airplay on rage, a national music video show — and was featured on popular music site ClippedTV.

Adding to a growing profile, the band opened for for the likes of Mosquito Coast, STUMPS, DIET., Francesca Gonzales, Creature Fear and The Attics, before eventually selling out their biggest headlining shows. And they played some of their first festival sets in the history. Interestingly, with the band’s rapidly growing profile, the band’s frontman Nic Schwarz left his full-time job to pursue music full-time. Schwarz has spent most of this past year cowriting with producers and artists across Australia through video conferencing during pandemic-related shutdowns and in-person when he could.

Of course, much like countless other bands across the globe, the members of Telescreen had hopes of making big moves this year, but they all managed to buckle down to write new material, including their latest single “Moving On.” Officially, serving as the follow-up to their attention grabbing debut EP, “Moving On” is centered around a rousingly anthemic, shout-along worthy hook, angular guitar blasts, staccato hi-hat and a slick, radio friendly production. However, under the studio polish, the song expresses the anger, frustration, shock and dismay over a disconnected and failing social order — but through the prism of a romantic relationship gone wrong.

“We, as a group, felt as though there was this real disconnect between the actions of Australia’s leaders and the true needs of those affected by the fires,” the band’s frontman Nic Schwarz says in press notes. “‘Moving On’ addresses our politicians’ disregard for public opinion, along with their seemingly growing inaction and detachment from issues in order to protect their self-interests.”

Earlier this year, the members of Telescreen put together a benefit show with fellow rising Melbourne acts Feelds and El Tee to raise much-needed funds for bushfire relief. And although, the year has been a loss, they did receive some incredibly good news: they won this year’s Triple J Unearthed NIDA Competition, in which the winner would be provided an opportunity to work with a team of students from the National Institute of Dramatic Art to create a music video. (Full credits are below, if you’re curious. Plus, we should try to always shout out talented young people, right?)

Shot with pandemic-related restrictions and limitations, the entire creative team came up with a bold and striking visual featuring a diverse cast of models/actors at a photoshoot. Initially forced to conform through wearing all black outfits. But as the video progresses, the actors strike back out of frustration and annoyance, eventually letting their freak flags — and their true selves proudly fly.

Born to Welsh and Polish parents in Stoke-On-Trent, the rising British singer/songwriter and guitarist Benjamin Belinska relocated to Newcastle when he turned 17. He didn’t settle in Newcastle for very long; eventually he drifted around Europe, spending stints in Glasgow, Berlin, and Paris, supporting himself through a series of menial jobs, ranging from museum cleaner to estate gardener. During that period. he wrote music on borrowed guitars and stolen notebooks, garnering praise from the French press and the BBC along the way.

While in Paris, Belinska met E.A.R. and the duo started the band Paris, Texas, which released two Kramer-produced albums before deciding to relocate to Newcastle together. Two things happened to Belinksa, which may have altered the course of his life:

“Rushing to get a connection, I left a suitcase in York station. It was never recovered. Most of the early songs disappeared,” Belinska says in press notes. “Some months later, I was walking from home work and was randomly assaulted by a gang of four in broad daylight. During the recovery, I decided to stop drifting once and for all. As a first gesture, I would record a new album.”

The new album Belinska recorded, his solo, full-length debut Lost Illusions was released earlier this year, and the album’s first single, the Palace Winter-like “Young in Baltimore” reveals a songwriter, who can pair breezy and shimmering radio friendly soft rock, earnest, lived-in songwriting and an unerring knack for crafting an infectious, pop-leaning hook. But underneath the song’s breezy radio friendliness, is an achingly bittersweet lament evoking the inevitable and unstoppable passage of time, of nostalgia for seemingly simpler times, the uneasy compromises that every adult has to make and live with, the forced upon conformity to make a living and survive.

“The song is about regret, nostalgia and conformity,” Belinska said in an email. “It was inspired by Robert Frank’s photo-book The Americans and The Magnetic Fields. I played and recorded it myself and it was mixed and mastered by Giles Barrett and Simon Trought at Soup Studio, London.