Category: indie rock

New Video: The Film Noir-Like Visuals for Nadine Shah’s Politically-Charged “Holiday Destination”

Born to Norwegian-English mother and a Pakistani immigrant father, Nadine Shah is a Whitburn, South Tyneside, UK-born, South Shields, UK-based singer/songwriter and pianist, who received attention nationally and elsewhere with her Ben Hillier-produced debut effort, Love Your Dum and Mad, an effort largely inspired by the suicides of two very close friends of hers; in fact, her debut album focuses on the social stigmas towards those suffering from mental health illnesses with an unvarnished candor and empathy. Shah continued her collaboration with co-writer and producer Hillier, with her sophomore album, 2015’s Fast Food, an album that focuses on the ecstasy and agony of short, passionate relationships.

However, while Shah’s third and soon-to-be released album Holiday Destination seems directly influenced by the growing sense of uncertainty, instability, political chaos, polarization, racism and xenophobia of the past year, as the daughter of a Pakistani emigrant, the headlines of the past 12-18 months have played a significant part of her life, and as a result the material may arguably be the most politically charged she’s released to date, as the material thematically touches on the plight of Syrian refuges — in particular, the desperate refugees, who landed on the European and shores, only to discover unmitigated cruelty; her own experiences as a Pakistani woman in the world, and of course much more.  In fact, album title track “Holiday Destination” as Shah explains is press notes is “a response to this really harrowing news piece about migrants and refugees arriving on the shores of Kos in Greece by the thousands. There were some holidaymakers being interviewed, and they were talking about how the situation was ruining their holiday. Despite their total and complete lack of empathy, the thing which shocked me the most was their bold and unashamed stance of saying such things on national television. This is what we’re seeing across the globe: people proudly expressing this hate-fueled rhetoric. It’s like wow — some people really don’t care, and they’ll happily talk about how they don’t care. I just don’t get it.” And as a result, the song’s narrator questions the humanity and decency of the vacationers, who can’t seem to see anything beyond their own pleasure and gratification; but along with that, it leaves a larger, more troubling question for the listener — just whose best interest are at the heart of those in power? And is there a point where humanity trumps profit?

Shah’s latest single should continue to remind you that music is indeed a powerful weapon, as she pairs a fiery outrage with layers of jangling guitars and a motorik-like groove and atmospheric synths in a song that manages to nod at Berlin trilogy-era Bowie and PJ Harvey simultaneously.

Directed by Christian Stephen and produced by Nick Rosier, the recently released video for “Holiday Destination” is shot in a lush and cinematic black and white and follows a trench coat wearing Shah through the streets and alleyways of a decidedly British town, passing by oblivious revelers, street buskers and scenes of every day life.

Advertisements

New Video: The Animated and Psychedelic Visuals for Gordon Raphael’s “Savage”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the summer, you’ve likely come across a couple of posts Seattle, WA-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, and producer Gordon Raphael. As a producer, Raphael has worked with an impressive, who’s who list of contemporary indie rock and rock artists including  The Strokes, Regina Spektor, Damon Albarn, Ian Brown, The Cult‘s  Ian Astbury, Hinds and others; however, Raphael primarily sees himself as a singer/songwriter and guitarist.  “I love producing, but playing guitar and writing songs is what I’ve always done,” Raphael explains in press notes. “I wanted to show what I can do on the other side of the desk all the time, but producing kept getting in the way.”

Raphael’s full-length debut Sleep on the Radio was released last month and the album draws from Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Kimono My House-era Sparks, Frank Zappa and prog rock among others. Reportedly “View From Blue,” the album’s first single was part of over 1,000 songs he had written over the years; but it came from the most unlikely source — from a dream. In particular, “View From Blue” is a part of a selection of 12 songs that were carefully honed and perfected to the point that they were living, breathing and fully fleshed out songs that needed to be played, recorded and heard – – right now.  And as a result, while the song clearly nods at Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie — think “Queen Bitch,”“Panic in Detroit,” and others — the anthemic, hook-laden song possesses a forceful urgency underneath its boozy, free-flowing psychedelia.

“Savage,” Sleep on the Radio‘s latest single sounds as though it draws from Evil Heat-era Primal Scream, Brit Pop and 60s psych pop as twinkling synths, buzzing and whirring electronics are paired with blazing guitar pyrotechnics, an anthemic hook and a  spacey, psychedelic vibe that belies an incredibly sensual nature.  And much like its preceding single, Raphael’s latest reveals him to be a songwriter, who can craft an incredibly catchy hook and has an ability to have both a signature sound and aesthetic while being a musical chameleon, who can morph into any genre, any style at will.

Directed and produced by Marta Figuredo, the recently released animated video is set in a intricately detailed and drab world in which a Raggedy Andy-like Raphael carries a flower that opens up a brightly colored, wildly psychedelic universe. 

New Audio: Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions Return with a Sparse and Sublime New Track

Best known as the hauntingly ethereal voice of Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval has had a lengthy solo career, collaborating with a number of renowned artists including Massive Attack and My Bloody Valentine’s Colm O’Coisog in her long-running post Mazzy Star project, Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions. And if you had been frequenting this site last year, you’d likely recall that Sandoval’s Warm Inventions is a subtle yet decided departure from her Mazzy Star work in terms of overall theme, instrumentation and arrangement; whereas Mazzy Star’s sound is famously based around a sparse arrangement shimmering guitar chords paired with gentle drumming and Sandoval’s imitable vocals, The Warm Inventions sound while being based sound fairly sparse arrangements, draws from 70s AM radio — at least as you would have heard on the duo’s third full-length effort together Until the Hunter. 

Son of a Lady EP, is the highly anticipated follow up to Until the Hunter and the EP,  a which is slated for a September 15, 2017 release through Pledge Music as a 10″ with an exclusive track along with other exclusive items. As the members of Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions explain “‘Son of a Lady’ is a song we wrote and recorded some time ago and rediscovered it recently by chance. We worked with this really great upright bass player Damon Anderson, who we’d never worked with before and I believe it was the first time he’d ever played his bass over a cello part. He was really inspired by Ji-Young Moon’s exquisite playing. It’s a strange and lovely one; just the way we like it.” 

“Sleep,” the latest single from the Son of a Lady EP is a slow-burning, hazy and sublime dream of a song, in which Sandoval’s imitable vocals are paired with gently strummed guitar and twinkling percussion and much like the preceding single, it’s an odd yet haunting track. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the summer, you’d know that JOVM mainstay act Widowspeak will be releasing their third full-length album Expect The Best through Captured Tracks Records next week. And as you may recall, the album’s first single “Dog,” as Widowspeak’s Molly Hamilton told NPR is “about the compulsion to move on from things and places, even people when you’re not necessarily ready to. Sometimes I get caught up in ‘the grass is always greener’ mentalities or cling to an idea that ‘I’d be happy if . . .’ and make a drastic change. Then inevitably, I feel restless a few months later and it stars again.” While sonically, the song will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting moody and hazy guitar pop that channels Mazzy Star, the song possesses a restless and ambivalent vibe as it captures an easily bored and frustrated narrator, who desperately yearns for more and more and more.

Expect The Best‘s second single“When I Tried” is a slow, churning blues with layers of jangling, guitar pedal effect guitars paired with a propulsive yet simple drum pattern  which Hamilton’s aching yet ethereal vocals float over, and much like its preceding single, captures a bored and frustrated narrator, who yearns for more and more — and yet feels hopelessly stuck and confused. Interestingly though, as Hamilton explained to Stereogum “I didn’t go into this record trying to make every song about feeling stuck, or about self-doubt or anxiety. Those feelings aren’t really what you want to proclaim to the world or make a whole record about, even if it’s the truth. But, in the end, it ended up making more sense to be honest. ‘When I Tried’ is about when I was having a hard time starting things, or finishing them, maybe due to my own expectations of what it would turn into or maybe due to me doubting that I’d even be able to make it happen at all . . . I wasn’t sure what the motivation was anymore. Not specifically related to music, or creative work, but to everything. I wanted to get out and be social to take my mind off it, but I had a hard time keeping that up, too. It’s hard to keep up the effort of trying.”

“The Dream,” Expect The Best‘s third and latest single manages to continue with the permanently restless and unhappy vibe of someone who has picked up and left things behind with the hopes of something better, only to find that she can’t ever escape herself, and that perhaps as a result, things never really change; in fact, the song’s title, along with the album’s title possess an ironic duality — that being hopeful in a bleak world means expecting terrible things and knowing how to deal with them or to survive, and that dreams can become waylaid or averted. And yet, one has to keep on trying because — well, anything else is death, right? Sonically speaking, the song is a  lush and sublime, dream-like reverie of a song in which Hamilton’s ethereal crooning is paired with jangling guitars, twangy pedal; but right underneath the surface is a familiar ache of reality slapping you in the face yet again.

The band recently announced updated tour dates, which include a handful of new American dates and a European tour, which will have them stop at one of my favorite cities in the entire world — Amsterdam. And if you’re in NYC, they’ll be playing Rough Trade on October 13, 2017. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates
09/08 – Boston, MA – Great Scott
09/09 – Burlington, VT – ArtsRiot
09/11 – Toronto, ON – The Garrison
09/12 – Detroit, MI – El Club
09/13 – Chicago, IL – The Empty Bottle
09/15 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th St. Entry
09/17 – Des Moines, IA – Des Moines Social Club
09/19 – Denver, CO – Hi Dive
09/20 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
09/21 – Boise, ID – Neurolux
09/22 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
09/23 – Seattle, WA – Barboza
09/24 – Vancouver, BC – Biltmore Cabaret
09/26 – San Francisco, CA – Swedish American Hall
09/27 – Visalia, CA – The Cellar Door
09/28 – Los Angeles, CA – Pico Union Project
09/29 – San Diego, CA – Space Bar
09/30 – Phoenix, AZ – Rebel Lounge
10/01 – Santa Fe, NM – Meow Wolf
10/03 – Austin, TX – Sidewinder
10/04 – New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa
10/05 – Birmingham, AL – Syndicate Lounge
10/06 – Nashville, TN – The High Watt
10/07 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
10/08 – Asheville, NC – The Mothlight
10/09 – Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall
10/10 – Washington, DC – DC9
10/11 – Philadelphia, PA – Boot and Saddle
10/12 – Kingston, NY – BSP Kingston
10/13 – New York, NY – Rough Trade NYC
11/14 – Amsterdam, NL – Sugarfactory
11/15 – Utrecht, NL -Db’s
11/17 – Birmingham, UK -Actress & Bishop
11/18 – Glasgow, UK -Nice n Sleazy
11/20 – London, UK – Oslo
11/21 – Brighton, UK -The Hope
11/23 – Rotterdam, NL – Rotown
11/26 – Berlin, DE -Volksbühne
11/27 – Hamburg, DE – Hafenklang
11/28 – Copenhagen, DK – Vega
11/29 – Stockholm, SWE -Obaren
11/30 – Oslo, NO – Revolver
12/01 – Gothenburg, SWE -Oceanen
12/02 – Lund, SWE -Mejeriet
09.08 – 10.13 (except 09.13) w/ Clearance
bold = newly confirmed

 

Earlier this summer, you may have come across a couple of posts featuring  Leeds, UK-based indie rock/psych rock trio The Boxing, and as you may recall, since their formation in 2014, the trio comprised of  Harrison Warke (vocals, guitar), Henry Chatham (bass) and Charlie Webb (drums) quickly asserted themselves as part of their hometown’s growing, contemporary indie rock and psych rock scenes; in fact, they’ve already drawn some comparisons to the likes of W.H. Lung, Eagulls and JOVM mainstays The Vryll Society.

Now, as you may recall “One by One” was a brooding track led by a sinuous bass line and steady drumming paired with a propulsive motorik groove, a soaring hook and  a whispered croon reminiscent of The Horrors’ Faris Badwan, and as the band’s Harrison Warke explained in press notes, “One by One,”  was an elaboration of the sound they developed across their first batch of singles; but perhaps just as important, “One by One” was the first single act the act recorded in a proper, professional studio. Of course, recording in a studio gave the members of the band the ability and freedom to experiment and flesh out the song’s arrangement in a way that they were unable to do before. “Heart of Me,” was released as the B-side (sort of) to “One by One” — and while continuing in a similar vein to its lead single, the track manages to be a slow-burning., moody and stormy bit of shoegaze with a creepy, existential dread at its core.

“Tame,” while being one of the trio’s shortest song to date — it clocks in at a little under 2 minutes and 40 sounds — will further cement their growing reputation nationally and across the blogosphere for crafting moody yet anthemic shoegaze, complete with shimmering, pedal effected guitar chords; however, as the band’s Warke explains “most of our songs are written in a darkroom without windows, but a hint of light managed to creep into this one. There’s a bit of sweet among the usual sour.” And what makes the song interesting is while nodding at a lighter, perhaps airier and arena rock-like fare, the song finds the band doing so while retaining soaring hooks and an enveloping feel.

 

 

With the release of 2015’s debut effort Dissemble, the Leeds, UK-based indie rock/post-punk quintet AUTOBAHN, comprised of Craig Johnson (vocals) Michel Pedel (guitar) and Gavin Cobb (guitar), Daniel Sleight (bass) and Liam Hilton (drums) received attention both nationally and across the blogosphere for a sound that was influenced by Joy Division and their legendary post-punk producer Martin Hamett. In fact, the band reportedly wrote and recorded the album imagining what Hannett would have done, if he were to produce them. However, as the story goes, before they set up to write and record the material that would comprise The Moral Crossing, the band’s forthcoming sophomore effort, the members of the band had decided to give up their practice room. which also doubled as a hardcore punk venue, an build their own space. They found a former double-glazing firm under a disused bridge in Holbeck, Leeds’ red light district and despite having no real experience building a studio from scratch, they undertook the job and when they finished their studio, the band’s Craig Johnson taught himself how to produce and record an album with the burning desire to create their own sound with their own artistic vision.  “I was down there nearly every night,” Johnson recalls. “It was pretty horrible at times, but worth the pain to have control over everything. We’ve had the chance to create the sound we want, at times it’s more melancholic, and romantic.”

In order to go about changing their sound, a change in songwriting approach was necessary — and for their sophomore effort, the band went about a deliberate and painstaking process in which they built songs piece-by-piece as they went along rather than working on completed songs, as they previously did. Lyrics came about at the end, and thematically the material finds the band focusing on birth — but in a way that emphasizes that the person “had no choice in the decision. And then it’s about the different outcomes that could happen, Which could be glorious or torturous,” Johnson explains in press notes.

From album title track “The Moral Crossing,” the Leeds-based quintet’s sophomore effort will be a bold and forceful new direction for the band — while retaining the angular attack of their previously released singles and of Martin Hammett-era Joy Division, the single finds the band crafting some of their most ambitious material to date, as it possesses the swooning and antehmic hooks reminiscent of Snow Patrol paired with prog rock and arena rock-like sensibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: NVDES Returns with a Breezy Tropicalia and Dance Punk-Inspired New Single

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past 12-18 months or so, you may have come across a couple of posts featuring the Los Angeles-based collective NVDES. With the release of 2016’s Life With Lobsters, an album consisting of glitchy, summery indie dance pop, the collective fronted by founding member and primary songwriter Josh Ocean received over 10 million streams across all digital platforms, landed on Spotify’s Global Viral Chart, and as a result of rapidly growing buzz, the project’s 2016 effort received praise from The Fader, Nylon and others.  

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about “Turning Heads” off their forthcoming La NVDITÉ EP, a breakneck dance punk track along the lines of  Sound of Silver-era LCD Soundsystem, Radio 4 and others, complete with angular guitar chords, a propulsive bass line, boom-bap beats and a rousingly anthemic hook. And building upon the buzz that single received, the act recently released their latest single “Dancer From New Yorker,” a track that will (naturally) further cement their growing reputation for crafting glitchy and breezy pop with anthemic hooks, and while its as dance floor-friendly as its predecessor, the track manages to subtly nod at tropicalia and bossa nova. 

New Video: The 90s and 00s Metal and Alt Rock-Inspired Visuals for Chelsea Wolfe’s “16 Psyche”

Chelsea Wolfe is a California-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who with the release of 2010’s The Grime and the Glow, 2011’s Apokalypsis, 2013’s Pain Is Beauty and 2015’s Abyss received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that meshes elements of gothic rock, folk, neofolk, electronica and metal, and for material that thematically dug underneath the world’s ugliness, messiness and hurt to get at a profound beauty underneath. Because of its cinematic and moody quality, her music has been featured in the promotional material for several TV series, including Game of Thrones, Fear the Walking Dead and How to Get Away with Murder.

Wolfe’s sixth full-length album Hiss Spun is reportedly inspired by a Henry Miller quote —  “What I want is to open up. I want to know what’s inside me. I want everybody to open up. I’m like an imbecile with a can opener in his hand, wondering where to begin — to open up the earth. I know that underneath the mess everything is marvelous. I’m sure of it.” And unsurprisingly, the material finds the renowned California-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist adopting Miller’s quest to become truly empowered by embracing the complete, messy self and to control the tumult within one’s soul in the hopes of reigning in the chaos of the world around them. However, as Wolfe explains in press notes, she had initially wanted to write some sort of escapist music with songs that were about being in your body and getting free; but “you’re just bombarded with constant bad news, people getting fucked over and killed for shitty reasons or no reason at all, and it seems like the world has been in tears for months, and then you remember that it’s been fucked for a long time; it’s been fucked since the beginning. It’s overwhelming and I have to write about it.” 

The album, which was recorded by Kurt Ballou in Salem, MA during the beginning of this year was also inspired by a brutally cold New England winter, several major upheveals in Wolfe’s personal life, as well as the Californian singer/songwriter and guitarist coming to terms with years of conflicting feelings of vulnerability, anger and self-destruction, an dark family history that has weighed heavily upon her and her life. And as a result, the material on Hiss Spun may arguably be the heaviest, darkest and most forceful material she has written to date. Additionally, long-time collaborator Ben Chisholm contributes swaths of sound collages recorded while Wolfe and her backing and were on tour — the rumble of street construction while they were on tour in Prague; the howl of a coyote outside Wolfe’s home; the scrape of machinery on a floor of a warehouse at a down-and-out friend’s workplace, as well as samples from the bomb blasts of the Enola Gay, the shrieks and mating calls of primates, the fluttering pages of a book of Walt Whitman’s poetry are all manipulated and seamlessly placed within the music.

The overall effect was to be a cathartic emotional purge and as you’ll hear on “16 Psyche,” the latest single off Hiss Spun, the song while managing to sound as though it were inspired by Tool and A Perfect Circle, complete with pummeling drumming and roaring distortion-heavy power chords and an antehmic hook possesses a palpable aching yearning  and broiling, feral, fury at its core that reminds me quite a bit of PJ Harvey. 
Directed by Zev Deans, the recently released video for “16 Psyche” is deeply inspired by late 90s and early 00s alt rock and metal videos and features a cameo by Queens of the Stone Age’s Troy Van Leeuwen, who appeared in similar videos of the era, and fittingly the video consists of dark, foreboding imagery of Wolfe in a straitjacket, being carted off as though she were Hannibal Lecter, Wolfe and her backing band performing the song in a smoke machine-filled studio dressed entirely in black and more. As a boy and teenager, who was obsessed with watching MTV, just watching the video brings back a ton of memories — Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” anyone? 

New Video: Introducing The Darkly Seductive Sounds and Visuals of London’s Hana Piranha

With the release of their debut album Cold Comfort, the London-based rock quartet Hana Piranha, comprised of Hana Maria (vocals, violin), James Bulbeck (guitar), Will Brown (bass) and Samuel de Brozie-Ward (drums) quickly developed a reputation across the UK for a sound that paired muscular power chord-based riffs, anthemic hooks, bursts of razor sharp violin and snarling vocals — and unsurprisingly their sound had been compared to Kittie covering AC/DC with a violin and Juliette Lewis as well as to their influences Garbage, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, PJ Harvey and others.

Building upon the buzz that their debut received, the London-based quartet have been releasing singles off their sophomore album Fishing with Dynamite, and as you’ll hear with the album’s latest single “Slave,” the band  will further cement their reputation for crafting muscular goth-inspired rock with a seductive air and anthemic hooks but while subtly expanding upon their sound, as the song finds the band nodding at 70s glam rock. 

Directed and edited by Arron West, the recently released video splits between segments of the band performing the song in a dark studio with some highly symbolic, BDSM-based imagery. 

Last month, I wrote about the  Oklahoma City, OK-based indie rock/psych rock quartet SPACE4LEASE. Comprised of primary songwriter and founding member Grayson Hamm (keys, lead vocals), along with Walt Blythe (guitar),  Brandon Brewer (bass, vocals) and Wes Belk (drums), the Oklahoman indie rockers can trace their origins to when Hamm met his bandmates while they were all attending the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma. And although they all had vastly different musical backgrounds and differing musical tastes, the band’s sound manages to be a convergence of all of their influences including Tame Impala, My Morning Jacket, Big Thief, Andy Shauf and others; however, unlike their eclectic influences, their material lyrically focuses on lost love, the unknown, and inevitable life experiences. With the release of their debut EP Hiraeth, an effort that focused on the complicated process of self-discovery, the members of the Oklahoma City-based quartet toured extensively across the Midwest last year, eventually winning the praise of The Flaming Lips‘ Derek Brown, who described them as  “Fellow Okies that wonderfully mix the blissfulness and melancholy of the great wide open.”

And as you may recall “Must Be Something” was a moody and atmospheric bit of psych rock that featured some lush, shimmering guitar work, a sinuous and propulsive bass line and a rousingly anthemic hook that reminded me of JOVM mainstays  Caveman, Los Angeles-based indie rock act Hands and others but inspired by the endless possibility of the road, of the profound sensation of being “a man from far away,” seeing, eating, experiencing things you’d never expect and how it can change and influence your life. As the band’s Grayson Hamm explained in press notes, “Coming from a small town, I never had the experience of the big city life, but surprisingly it wasn’t these destinations that intrigued me the most. It was the journey, and the miles, and time it took to get there. Once we were out on the road all by ourselves just driving and seeing the countryside, this quest of finding myself really started to take effect. This is where the premise of the chorus let alone the whole song comes into play. ‘There must be something in the way how, there’s nothing standing in our way now.’ I started to realize that the only barrier that was standing in the way was myself. The world was just waiting for me.”

The band’s latest single “Lately” finds the band drawing from classic, Quiet Storm-era R&B, indie rock and blue eyed soul in a way that reminds me of Milagres’ exceptional first two albums Glowing Mouth and Violent Light — and much like the material off of those albums, there’s the push and pull of infatuation, lust, love and heartache at the core of a confusing relationship that at times is unrequited and other times is requited; but as the band’s primary songwriter Grayson Hamm notes, there’s also an underlying questioning of one’s own worth, which love can make you do on occasion. As he explains in press notes,  “The lyrics came to me one day after experiencing the all-too-common feeling of falling for someone without reciprocation. The truth is, I didn’t know what I was getting into and probably will never fully understand it. We have all experienced that uncomfortable moment in which we have stronger feelings for someone than they have for us, even if we refuse to admit it out of embarrassment or shame. I’ve reached the point multiple times in my life where I ask the question, ‘Who I am to you? How does this person see me compared to how I see them?’ This cyclical pattern is emotionally exhausting, so I decided to channel these feelings the best way I know how: though the process of songwriting. ‘Lately’ is all about asking these difficult questions. Sometimes it is more helpful to look introspectively rather than to direct the questions toward the one we might be falling for.”