Category: indie rock

Sophie Allison is a Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded indie rock project Soccer Mommy.  Allison first picked up guitar when she was six — and as a teenager, she attended Nashville School of the Arts, where she studied guitar and played in the school’s swing band. By 2015, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began posting home-recorded songs as Soccer Mommy to Bandcamp during the summer of 2015, just as she was about head off to New York University, where she studied music business at the University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

While she was in college, Allison played her first Soccer Mommy show at Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Silent Barn. The Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist caught the attention of Fat Possum Records, who signed her to a record deal. After spending two years studying at NYU, Allison returned to Nashville to pursue a full-time career in music.

Upon her return to Nashville, the acclaimed Swiss-born artist wrote and released two Soccer Mommy albums — 2016’s For Young Hearts through Orchid Tapes and 2017’s Collection through Fat Possum Records. Her proper, full-length debut, 2018’s Clean was released to widespread critical acclaim, and as a result of a rapidly growing profile, Alison has wound up touring with Stephen Malkmus, Mitski, Kacey Musgraves, Jay Som, Slowdive, Frankie Cosmos, Liz Phair, Phoebe Bridgers, Paramore, Foster the People, Vampire Weekend, and Wilco.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was gearing up to be a massive year for the young and rising singer/songwriter and guitarist: she began the year by playing at one of Bernie Sanders’ presidential rallies and had joined a list of contemporary artists, who endorsed his presidential campaign. Allison’s highly-anticipated sophomore album color theory was released to critical applause — and building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Nashville-based artist had been gearing up for a massive year: she was about to embark one a headlining tour with a number of dates sold-out months in advance, along with that, she had lined up appearances across the global festival circuit that included a stop at Glastonbury. Additionally, she was supposed to make her late-night, nationally televised debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

With touring being on an indefinite half for the music industry, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist recognized that this was a unique opportunity to get creative and experiment with new ideas. Combining her love of video games and performing, Allison held a digital concert on the online gaming platform Club Penguin Rewritten with over 10,000 attendees, who all had to make their own penguin avatars to attend it. The concert was so popular, that her fans crashed the platform’s servers, forcing a rescheduling of the event. Allison has also performed a number of live streams events, including  NPR’s Tiny Desk At Home (which she kicked off) and Pitchfork‘s IG Live Series. And she also recently released her own Zoom background images.

Recently, Allison and company embarked on a an Bella Clark-directed 8-bit virtual, music video tour in which the band plays some of the cities she was meant to be passing through — Minneapolis, Chicago,Seattle, Toronto, and Austin. Instead of virtually playing at the more common tourist locations or a traditional music venue, the members of the band are mischievously placed in unusual locations: an abandoned Toronto area subway station, a haunted Chicago hotel, a bat-filled Austin bridge and more.performing album track “crawling in my skin.”

Continuing some wildly creative ways to maintain the momentum of her full-length debut, Allison recently launched a singles series, Soccer Mommy & Friends that sees some of her most accomplished friends and associates covering her work — and Allison covering their work. The singles series will see contributions from MGMT‘s Andrew VanWyngarden, Beabadoobee, Beach Bunny, Jay Som and a list others — with releases dropping every two weeks. The singles series first release finds the acclaimed Oakland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Melina Duterte, the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed indie rock act Jay Som covering Soccer Mommy’s “Lucy.”

Interestingly, Jay Som’s take on “lucy” turns the jangling guitar pop anthem into a shimmering and brooding track, centered around atmospheric synths, thumping beats and ethereal vocals that to my ears reminds me quite a bit of Air’s ethereal remix of Beck’s “Heaven Hammer.” “I had an extremely fun time recording the ‘lucy’ cover,” Duterte says in press notes. “Sophie has such a special way of entwining catchy melodies and sometimes dark chord progressions. I feel very lucky to be a part of this comp!”

All net profits from Bandcamp sales from the series will be donated to Oxfam‘s COVID-19 relief fun. Oxfam is working with partners to reach more than 14 million people in nearly 50 countries and the US to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 in vulnerable communities and support people’s basic food needs and livelihoods. As we’re all aware women and girls usually bear a disproportionate burden of care in a crises like COVID-19, and Oxfam has a proven record of helping women cope during and recover after these crises in ways that allow them to be safer and stronger than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Starlight Girls Release a Woozy and Trippy Visual for “Get Right”

Brooklyn-based indie rock act Starlight Girls can trace their origins back to 2011, when Christina Bernard (vocals), an Ohio-born megachurch chorister turned rocker; Shaw Walters (guitar), a San Francisco-born, guitar savant and tech wizard met and decided to start a band. They find their bandmates Sara Mundy (keys) and Isabel Alvarez (backing vocals), two Long Island-born theater junkies, Tysen Arveson (bass), a Seattle-born, Hawaii-raised art freak and Josh Davis (drums), a University of Michigan educated jazz drummer through Craigslist. 

The band initially emerged into the public eye through a wildly successful April Fool’s prank: they record an impression of acclaimed artist Joanna Newsom covering one of their songs and a handful of blogs take the bait, covering the song with rapturous praise. As a result, they quickly became a buzz worthy band, eventually releasing an EP that they support with a handful of national tours — even opening for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Building upon a growing profile, the Brooklyn-based at played one of Europe’s biggest festivals, which they followed up with their noisy and attention-grabbing Jamie Stewart-produced 7 x 3 EP. 

2016 saw the release of their enigmatic and cinematic, full-length debut Fantasm, which they supported through tours with an eclectic array of artists including Kate Nash, St. Lucia, Tilly and the Wall, Nick Waterhouse, Total Slacker, Crystal Fighters and Lucius. Since then, the members of the band have ventured outside of music and outside of Brooklyn in a variety of different creative projects: Christina Bernard has delved into film and directing, directing a self-penned short film shot in California, which will be released later this year. Shaw Walters has become a rising star in the tech world, traveling around the world creating holographic augmented reality projects for performers and artists, including a mixed-reality collaboration with acclaimed artist Marina Abramović, The Life, which has become a lightning rod for alt-right conspiracy theorists. The rest of the band has continued to solider on as musicians, during what may be the most difficult time for artists and creatives in recent memory. 

Interestingly the band’s Christina Bernard-produced EP Entitled was recorded at Upstate New York-based Marcata Recording– and the material reportedly is a dark yet upbeat come-on to an unknowable future while evoking a sexy freak-out from the edge of oblivion. That sounds and feels familiar, doesn’t it?  Hinting at Ennio Morricone film scores, shoegaze, art rock, goth rock, psych rock and Fleetwood Mac, the EP’s expansive first single “Get Right” further establishes the band’s cinematic and kaleidoscopic sound — but while arguably being the sexiest song they’ve released to date. 

Directed by the band’s Christina Bernard, the recently released video for “Get Right” was shot on a commune in rural North Carolina and is a feverishly surreal and psychedelic spoof on 90s karaoke videos that seems — to me, at least — to nod at Dario Argento films, as it’s part lysergic freak out, and part sensual slow dance into the dark recesses of the psyche. 

New Video: Polish Shoegeazers Waterville Releases a Cinematic Visual for Atmospheric New Single

Founded in one of Poland’s more remote, peaceful and natural environments, the emerging Polish shoegaze trio Waterville — Hiacynta Szulc (vocals, bass),  Marcin Adamczuk (guitar) and Bartosz Niedzwiecki (drums) — craft material informed by concerns about climate change and its impact on the planet’s ecology, human relationships and those things that are truly important to humanity. 

Coincidentally, the band’s recently released debut EP Shades and Whispers is their label Shore Dive Records’ 50th release, and to commemorate the occasion, the EP’s latest single “Shadows”  is a slow-burning and atmospheric track centered around strummed guitar chords, Szulc’s ethereal vocals, dramatic drumming and a soaring hook. Sonically, the track draws comparisons to Slowdive and Mazzy Star. 

The recently released, cinematic video begins with a car driving down a foggy and late night, two-laned highway. When the car gets to its destination, we follow a young couple on a lengthy walk through the fields — but as the video progresses, it appears that the couple is lost and helpless in a cold and indifferent world. 

New Video: Savages’ Jehnny Beth Releases a DIY visual for Sultry and Slinky “Heroine”

Camille Berthomier is a Poitiers, Vienne, France-born, London-based singer/songwriter, actress, author and musician, professionally known as Jehnny Beth — and as the frontwoman of the Mercury Prize-nominated, critically applauded act Savages. With Savages, the Poitiers-born, London-based singer/songwriter and multi-disciplinary artist has developed a reputation for a unique lyrical perspective and a powerful stage presence that has captivated audiences across the world over the past 15 years.

Beth’s solo debut, To Love Is To Live was originally slated for release  last week through Caroline Records — but the album was pushed back to June 12, 2020, as a result of Beth’s desire to support local, independent record stores by ensuring that the physical album could come out at the same time. “Record stores are where I found myself as a teenager, digging through albums that ultimately shaped who I have become,” Beth says in press notes. “To release my first ever solo album in a way that would leave them out felt wrong to me; luckily, we were able to find a date that would allow us to release the physical and digital album at the same time.”

Recorded in Los Angeles, London and Paris, To Love Is To Live finds the longtime Savages frontwoman boldly stepping into and claiming the spotlight as a solo artist, and collaborating with an eclectic array of producers and artists including Flood, Atticus Ross, longtime collaborator and Savages bandmate Johnny Hostile, Adam “Cecil” Bartlett, The xx’s Romy Madley Croft, IDLES’ Joe Talbot and Golden Globe-winning actor Cilian Murphy. Thematically, the album sees Beth tapping into and accessing the darkest and least comfortable parts of herself to craft material that’s cathartic, abrasive, fearlessly honest and vulnerable, making the material a dark and cinematic meditation on the very strangeness of being alive.

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s singles: the brooding and atmospheric “Flower,” a track that was reportedly written about a pole dancer at Los Angeles’ Jumbo’s Clown Room and seethes with a feverish and obsessive lust  — and “Innocence,” a dark ad sultry track that evokes the uneasy feelings of isolation, loneliness while ironically living in a big city surrounded by seemingly endless people. “Heroine,” the album’s fourth and latest single is centered around a similar, slinky off-kilter motorik groove as its immediate predecessor, rapid-fire four-on-the-floor, shimmering synth arpeggios, brief blasts of horn, twinkling keys and an achingly vulnerable vocal performance from Beth, the track probes deeply into the dark recesses of her psyche with a fearless abandon.

“When I think of this song, I think of Romy from the xx strangling my neck with her hands in the studio,” Beth recalls in press notes. “She was trying to get me out of my shell lyrically, and there was so much resistance in me she lost her patience. The song was originally called Heroism, but I wasn’t happy because it was too generic. Flood was the first one to suggest to say Heroine instead of Heroism. Then I remember Johnny Hostile late at night in my hotel room in London saying ‘I don’t understand who you are singing about. Who is the Heroine? You ARE the Heroine’. The next morning, I arrived early in the studio and recorded my vocals adding ‘to be’ to the chorus line: ‘all I want is TO BE a heroine.’ Flood entered the studio at that moment and jumped in the air giving me the thumbs up through the window. I guess I’m telling this story because sometimes we look around for role models, and examples to follow, without realising that the answer can be hidden inside of us. I was afraid to be the Heroine of the song, but it took all the people around me to get me there.”

The recently released video is split between footage that the Savages frontwoman and Johnny Hostile shot and edited  — including footage of her walking and vamping in a London tube station, of Beth glistening with droplets of water and in a murky pool, as well as footage of Beth as a little girl, shot by her family, which creates an eerie and intimate look into the artist and her psyche. The DIY nature of the video manages to bring the songs message of self-belief and resilience into a deeper clarity. “We couldn’t plan that the current worldwide circumstances would push us to make this video entirely ourselves at home but sometimes working with constraints is the best fuel, and it fits perfectly with the positive message of self-belief and resilience of the song, pursuing childhood dreams and destiny,” Beth explains in press notes. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Ten Fe Release a Spectral Cover of Mark Ronson’s and Miley Cyrus’ “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart”

Over the past few years, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the  London-based JOVM mainstays Ten Fe. Founded by primary songwriters Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan, the band expanded into a full-fledged band with the permanent additions of longtime friends and touring members Rob Shipley (bass) and Johnny Drain (keys), who Duncan knows from their days in Walsall, and Alex Hammond (drums), who sat in with the band for the recording of their sophomore album Future Perfect, Present Tense. 

Thematically,  Future Perfect, Present Tense was a mediation on everything that has brought the members of the band to the writing and recording of their sophomore album — and everything that they’ve willingly (and in some cases perhaps, unwillingly) left behind to get there. Sonically, the album is a decided sonic departure from its predecessor with the material seemingly drawing from Fleetwood Mac and others, while retaining an uncanny ability to craft slick and rousingly anthemic hooks.

Recently, the JOVM mainstays have released a couple of covers — including their latest single, a cover of Mark Ronson’s and Miley Cyrus’ “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” that finds the band turning the country-tinged dance floor anthem into a spectral and pastoral, folk meditation that brings Nick Drake and Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra to mind. By stripping away the electronics, the British JOVM mainstays pull out the vulnerability, heartache and intimacy of the original out into the forefront while simultaneously revealing that the song is startlingly well-written.   

“I’ve always thought the song was really beautiful, and heard the intimacy and vulnerability in it,” the band’s Leo Duncan says in press notes,  “so we wanted to try and bring that out in our version, through the ghostly vocal arrangements and sparse instrumentation; we were trying to make it sound as if we recorded it in the middle of the desert. It’s such a good song, rearranging felt really natural.”

Directed, edited and produced by Niall Trask, the cinematically shot accompanying video for “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” is set in a set in an extremely English pastoral scene that manages to also hint at the American Wild West. “We wanted it it be evocative of the Wild West, as the music paints that picture; but also make it very English and pastoral – particularly, Cromwellian, when England seemed wild and lawless,” Leo Duncan explains in press notes. ‘. I did a rough storyboard, and Niall Trask was the perfect person to direct it as he’s really into that period of history, and we’ve often talked together about films set then such as Witchfinder General, A Field In England, etc. I really like the idea of delivering your heart to someone; I think everyone does this, symbolically, all the time – so it was wicked to try and show that literally in the video. I’m really happy how it came out!”

The Inspector Cluzo are a rising Mount de Marsan, France-based rock duo, comprised of Malcolm Lacrouts (guitars, vocals) and Phil Jourdain (drums, vocals). Interestingly, the duo abandoned promising careers as scientists to work on the land as farmers — and while they are proud and eager to represent their region and their local traditions, as musicians they’re ambitious, and don’t want to fall into the category of just being a local band. Their farm is where they share ideas, blow off steam learn and discover things while going through their rather unpretentious routine.
Essentially the duo concerns themselves with music of the people and of the earth — and their music attempts to make a connection with the roots of soul, blues and rock while possessing urgent and fiery spirit. Interestingly, the duo will be releasing a Vance Powell-produced four song project, The Organic Farmers Seasons. Recorded at Nashville‘s Sputnik Sound Studio, the project features songs that will be released each season.
The Organic Farmers Sessions first single sees the French duo tackling Neil Young‘s “Hey Hey My My (Out of the Blue). And while being a fairly straightforward take on the beloved rock anthem, The Inspector Cluzo cover reveals some surprising sonic depth, including  some backing organ, which gives the song a bit of heartland soulfulness. “, “Some of our good friends in the US including Vance Powell – our friend and producer in Nashville suggested that we cover Neil Young because he is the US artist that seems closest to what we are and what we do,” the band told American Songwriter.

New Video: Paris’ Morning Robots Releases a Symbolic and Animated Visual for “Moonlight”

Emerging Paris-based indie rock act Morning Robots — Romain, Victor, Jerome, Benjamin and BT — can trace their origins to a school trip to Brighton, UK: Romain, Victor and Jerome met Benjamin and BT while sharing the same room with a host family. The members of the quintet bonded over a mutual love of The Strokes, Oasis and Kasabian and others. And as the story goes, the quintet wanted to start a band as soon as they got back to France. 

When they started the band, not everyone would know how to play an instrument but eventually the stragglers picked an instrument and they all began practicing and honing their sound. Although they wrote and recorded some demos, the band can officially trace its origins back to 2012. Early 2013 saw the band playing their first live shows in the Paris area — and by the following year, they released a handful of singles including “Shiny Laughter,” and “Fall With You.” 

The band continued to hone their sound and live show with shows at some of Paris’ most renowned venues — including L’International, l’Alimentation Générale, FGO Barbara, La Clef, Bus Palladium, Le Baron, Le Truskel, and Paris Paris Club. They’ve also opened for Yungblud at Supersonic. 

The band released their debut EP, 2018’s Vincent Marie Bouvot-produced Nothing Like Tile For A Tango, which featured “Meet Me Later,” a track that found the band establishing a new sound centered around enormous, arena rock friendly hooks and reverb-drenched guitars. Morning Robots spent the next year, playing in and around Paris before eventually returning to the studio to record new material late last year with Vincent Marie Bouvot. 

The late 2019 sessions resulted in the band’s latest single “Moonlight.” Centered around  an alternating quiet verses and loud choruses with enormous power chords, the song features shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, thunderous drumming paired with earnest and plaintive vocals in English and in French. 

The recently released video find the band continuing their ongoing animated visual collaboration with Oscar Langevin (a.k.a Dinopelo). The visual is centered around a mother and child, who are violently separated with the child eventually imprisoned. The mom sets out to get revenge and get her child back in a way that bears a resemblance to Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol 1. and Vol. 2. But at the end, we see a lovely reunion — and a mother’s love and sacrifice for her child.  

New Audio: Introducing the Shimmering and Dance Floor Friendly Sound of Human Love

Formed in 2010, the New York-based act The Dig — Emilie Mosseri (vocals, bass), David Baldwin (vocals, guitar), Erick Elsner (keys, guitar) and Mark Demiglio (drums) released two albums and two EPs — 2010’s full-length debut Electric Toys, 2012’s Midnight Flowers and 2013’s Tired Hearts EP and You & I EP. Last year, the members of the quartet relocated to Los Angeles. The move sparked a major period of transformations with the band members pursued their own projects, most notably Mosseri, who established himself as a film composer, who earned widespread acclaim for crafting the score for A24 Films’ critically applauded Last Black Man in San Francisco, as well as the scores for the TV series Homecoming, which currently stars Janelle Monae and Kajillionaire, which will star Miranda July. 

Ironically enough, working separately proved to have a unifying effect on the band’s individual members — they were emboldened to take new risks, which resulted in a completely new musical project for its longtime collaborators — the newly named Human Love. Black Void EP, Human Love’s Sonny DiPerri-co-produced, four song debut EP is slated for a July 10, 2020 release, and the effort sees the longtime collaborators completely altering the creative process they were used to through their run as The Dig. “In the past, one person would bring in an idea and we’d build everything from there, but now the process is so much more collaborative, with everyone bringing in their specific perspective to everything we make,” the band’s David Baldwin says in press notes. “I think there’s something beautiful about us going in different directions and then coming back together like this,”EmilIe Mosseri adds “We’re taking what we’d explored on our own and feeding it back into this music, and pushing everything forward to create something completely new.”

Sonically, reportedly sees the band crafting material that meshes a cinematic quality with psychedelic and pulsating, dance floor friendly energy — while revealing the most idiosyncratic impulses of each individual musician. “Goldmine,” the EP’s first single is centered around a sinuous and strutting, disco-influenced groove, four-on-the-floor, shimmering and atmospheric synth arpeggios, an infectious, head bopping-inducing hook paired with Badlwin’s and Mosseri’s ethereal vocals singing surrealistic lyrics. The track finds the new project specializing in a sound that hints at This Is Happening-era LCD Soundsystem– but interestingly enough, the track explodes with a mischievous and adventurous sense of seemingly infinite possibility.

“‘Goldmine’  is the song that inspired us to start Human Love,” the members of the band explain in press notes. “When the four of us are together, one of our favorite things to do is jam on one riff endlessly.  To us this song conjures up a feeling of transition.  When we first started writing it we were still in our previous band together, and by the time we finished it we had decided to start something new.  It has a feeling of leaving something behind.  Deciding to move away from what’s comfortable and familiar, and embrace the unknown.”