Category: New Audio

Earlier this year, I wrote about the rapidly rising New York-based avant garde/experimental act Activity. Now, as you may recall, the act which features Grooms‘ Travis Johnson (vocals, sampler) and Steve Levine (drums), Field Mouse‘s Zoe Browne (bass) and Russian Baths‘ Jess Rees have received attention across the blogosphere for a natural, minimal and intelligent use of modern production paired with organic instrumentation.

Their Jeff Berner-produced full-length debut Unmask Whoever is slated for a March 27, 2020 release through Western Vinyl, and the album’s material reportedly sees its creators ability gel with one another to reach new levels of interplay and cooperation to form a menacing and uneasy framework — with which they pair lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws and the broader human capacity for growth when an ugly truth is laid bare. “Calls Your Name” was centered around an atmospheric, uneasy and menacing Geoff Barrow-like production featuring woozy and shimmering synth arpeggios, and a relentless stuttering beat paired with half-song half-spoken lyrics inspired by C.S. Lewis’ 1945 novel The Great Divorce.

“Earth Angel,” Unmask Whoever‘s latest single is slow-burning, minimal “Earth Angel.” Centered around twinkling synth arpeggios, blasts of feedback and distortion-effected pedals, the track features what may arguably be one of the most painful sounding vocals I’ve heard in some time, as vocalist Travis Johnson’s voice stars off as a whisper before turning into a vocal cord tearing shout.

It’s a song about the freedom of a lifelong love” vocalist Travis Johnson explains. “I think we were going for a very Talk Talk Laughing Stock vibe in general. The vocals at the end physically hurt to perform… I could taste blood.”

Activity has a handful of live dates, including two NYC area dates: February 27, 2020 at Union Pool and an April 2, 2020 release party show at Baby’s All Right. Check out the tour dates below.

Live Dates:
 
02/27: Brooklyn, NY – Union Pool
04/02: Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right (Release Party)
04/16: Washington, DC – Rhizome
04/17: Richmond, VA – Fuzzy Cactus
04/18: Philadelphia, PA – Ortlieb’s
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BisonBison is a rising Toronto-based electronic music collaboration featuring producers Dani Ramez and Chad Skinner, drummer and producer Brad Weber, multi-instrumentalist Sinead Bermingham and vocalist Sophia Alexandra. Each individual of the Canadian collective have different musical backgrounds, including traditional Irish folk, Middle Eastern music, trip hop, jazz and funk. Citing Bonobo, Helios, and Christian Löffler as influences, the members of the Toronto-based electronic act have developed and crafted a sound that meshes elements of folk, downtempo electronica and electronic dance music. 

Released earlier this month through Zozaya Records, BisonBison’s full-length debut Hover can trace its origins back to a series of loose acoustic jams between a cast of collaborators and musicians that ultimately filtered down to the band’s current lineup and Caribou’s Brad Weber contributing drums — with the bandmembers piecing material together into the album’s material. “Recover,” Hover‘s first single received support from media outlets like Earmilk and Clash MagazineBuilding upon a growing profile, the album’s third and latest single, the hypnotic album title track “Hover” is a lush and atmospheric track centered around shimmering and twinkling synths, a sinuous bass line, thumping beats, enormous hook and Sophia Alexandra’s ethereal cooing. Sonically, the song is an ambitious and dance floor friendly mesh of trip-hop, ambient electronica and acid house that sounds familiar yet novel.

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the course of this site’s almost 10 year history  I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Grammy Award-wining singer/songwriter, bassist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. Bruner has long been a Brainfeeder Records cornerstone, releasing critically applauded material including  Golden Age of Apocalypse, 2013’s Apocalypse, 2015’s The Beyond/Where Giants Roam EP and 2017’s Drunk while also establishing himself as a highly sough-after collaborator, contributing to Kamasi Washington’s aptly titled 2015 effort, The Epic and to Kendrick Lamar‘s 2016 commercial and critical smash hit, the Grammy Award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. And in 2018, he teamed up with Flying Lotus to compose an original score for an episode of Donald Glover’s Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning TV series Atlanta.

Drunk, Bruner’s most recent album was conceived and written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and bassist, but importantly, the album represented a major career transition — from virtuoso bassist and collaborator, to globally recognized star while further cementing his reputation for arguably being one of the past decade’s most unique, genre-defying voices. Thundercat’s fourth full-length album, the Flying Lotus-produced It Is What It Is is slated for an April 3, 2020 release through Brainfeeder Records. Much like its immediate predecessor, the album features a who’s who list of collaborators and guest spots from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, The Internet‘s Steve Lacy, Slave‘s Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox among others.

“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says in press notes. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Black Qualls,” It Is What It Is‘ first single, which found Bruner teaming up with Slave’s Steve Arrington and The Internet’s Steve Lacy on a strutting and strolling pimp bop, centered around Bruner’s sinuous bass lines, four-on-the-floor drumming and an infectious hook. The end result is a song that manages to be classic Thundercat while sounding as though it could have been on Slave’s Just a Touch of Love. The album’s second and latest single “Dragonball Durag” is a mid-tempo strut of a song centered around Bruner’s chunky and wobbling bass lines and his velvety falsetto — and while recalling Quiet Storm-era funky soul, the song is mischievous and funny song that details its creator’s sense of humor and obsession with Dragon Ball Z and the confidence boosting power of the durag.

“I have a Dragon Ball tattoo… it runs everything. There is a saying that Dragon Ball is life,” Bruner explains. As for the durag: “There are two types of people in the world, the guy with the durag and the guy who doesn’t know what a durag is. The durag is a superpower, to turn your swag on… it does something, it changes you. If you have one in the wardrobe, think about wearing it tonight, and it may pop off because you never know what’s going to happen.”

The JOVM mainstay will be embarking on a lengthy international tour that includes a March 24, 2020 stop at Webster Hall. Check out the tour dates below. 

Tour Dates:

2/28     Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theatre

2/29     Portland, OR – PDX Jazz Festival 

3/02     Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo

3/03     Arcata, CA – Van Duzer Theatre

3/04     Chico, CA – Senator Theatre

3/06     Oakland, CA – Fox Theater

3/07     Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern

3/08     Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory North Park

3/10     Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren

3/12     Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre

3/13     Omaha, NE – Slowdown

3/14     Minneapolis, MN – The Fillmore

3/15     Chicago, IL – Riviera Theatre

3/17     Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre

3/18     Toronto, ON – Queen Elizabeth Theatre

3/19     Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre

3/21     Boston, MA – House of Blues

3/22     Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore

3/24     New York, NY – Webster Hall

3/28     Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore Silver Spring

3/29     Knoxville, TN – Big Ears Festival

3/31     Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works

4/1       Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel

4/2       Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse

4/9       London, UK – Roundhouse

4/11     Manchester, UK – Academy

4/14     Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso

4/15     Paris, FR – Elysée Montmartre

4/17     Berlin, DE – Astra

New Audio: Introducing the Brooding and Cinematic Sounds of Federico Guglielmetti

Federico Guglielmetti is an emerging Milan, Italy-based singer/songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist and producer, who can trace the origins of his musical career to when he was a child: he started studying classical guitar under Maestro Tiberi, a blind musician with an innate musical ear, when was he 12. Tiberi then taught him piano, how to sing, how to compose melodies for vocals and to compose material for solo instrumentation, as well as for a full orchestra. 

Guglielmetti started writing his own original material when he was 16. Much of that early material, the emerging Italian singer/songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer recorded in various recording studios with a band of his high school classmates, including his childhood friend and collaborator Sebastiano Foti, who co-wrote the lyrics of Guglielmetti’s album Quel che resta. Guglielmetti has played with many of these friends — but over the years, he’s been joined by a collection of instrumentalists — and generally that will include a saxophonist, a violinist, two drummers, two bassists, two guitarists. 

Over the years, the Milan-based singer/songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer picked up production skills — particularly song editing and mixing, which has helped him create slickly produced material from his living room. Interestingly, as a solo artist, Guglielmetti writes lyrics in English and Italian and records versions in both English and Italian while playing almost every instrument. Interestingly, his latest single is the brooding and cinematic “Holy Mary.” Centered around an elegant and sparse arrangement of strummed acoustic guitar, twinkling keys, propulsive drumming, a soaring hook and the rising Milan-based artist’s operatic-like vocals, “Holy Mary” is a dramatic song that recalls Barry Adamson. 

Detroit, MI-based hip-hop act Clear Soul Forces — E-Fav, L.A.Z., Noveliss, and producer/emcee Ilajide — can trace their origins to a 2009 all-nighter at a Detroit recording studio. As the story goes, the four emcees scraped the money to record material individually. Coincidentally, Royce Da 5’9″ was finishing work on his album Street Hop in the studio room next door, and naturally the four emcees leapt at the chance to spit a few rhymes and get pointers. The quartet then spent the next nine hours in an epic cypher in which they traded bars back and forth, while the impressed Detroit-based legend intently listened. When they finally finished, Royce Da 5’9″ suggested that the four emcees should team up and be a group.

Since their formation, the act has spent the better part of the past decade developing and maintaining a reputation for lyrically and sonically drawing from 70s spoken word artists and boom-bap era hip-hop as a group and with each emcee’s individual creative projects. Sadly, the act’s forthcoming fifth album ForcesWithUs, which is slated for a March 13, 2020 release through Fat Beats Records will be their final album together.

Interestingly, Forces With You‘s first single, the Ilajide-produced “Chip$” is centered around a glitchy yet soulful J. Dilla-esque production: hard-hitting, head-nodding and shuffling beats, shimmering melodic keys and a razor-sharp hook. And while the track is an upbeat and celebratory banger, there’s a palpable sense of purpose and passion throughout that suggests that this track — and in turn, the album — isn’t a victory lap, nor a farewell tour in which the members wave farewell and get flowers from adoring fans; but rather, it sees the act “not going quietly into the night,” as the old poem says. And although Clear Soul Forces are coming to an end, the track subtly signals a bright new future for its in individual members.

 

Over the past 18 months or so I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Toronto-born and-based singer/songwriter Raffa Weyman, best known as RALPH. Weyman quickly emerged into the national and international pop scene with the release of her bittersweet, disco-inspired debut single “Trouble” in 2015. Over the next couple of years, Weyman released a series of attention-grabbing  singles that found the Canadian pop artist restlessly bouncing between different genres and styles, including the the country and western-tinged “Young Hearts Run Free” and the ambitious, radio friendly pop Girl Next Door.”

After receiving an IHeartRadio’s Much Music Video Awards Best New Canadian Artist nomination, Weyman released her RALPH full-length debut, 2018’s A Good Girl.  “I wrote ‘A Good Girl’ over the course of a year, maybe a little more…and a lot happened in that year,” Weyman explained in press notes at the time. “Because I use songwriting as a type of therapy and a way to explore my feelings, the songs naturally began to reflect everything that was happening in my life. Sometimes I was hurting, other times I was the one hurting someone else, and then to make it more complicated, sometimes I’d be both, like in the last song ‘Cereal’. The album name is a tongue in cheek way of reflecting upon the tracks and their stories, because they represent a multi-faceted character who is good hearted but makes mistakes – no one is ever one thing, we’re not good or bad and shouldn’t feel guilty about it. ​​​​​​”

Interestingly, the Toronto-based JOVM mainstay begins 2020 with the launch of her new label Rich Man Records. The label derives its name from a famous Cher quote: “My mom said to me, ‘You know sweetheart, one day you should settle down and marry a rich man.’ And I said, ‘Mom, I am a rich man.'” Along with launch of her new label, the rising Canadian pop artist recently dropped the label’s first release, the shimmering pop confection “Superbloom.” Centered around glistening synth arpeggios reminiscent of Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back,” Weyman’s plaintive and yearning vocals, thumping beats and enormous hooks before featuring some euphoric sax blasts. It’s the sort of song that will make you dance the heartache away.

“I wrote ‘Superbloom’ when I was running in LA. It had been raining a lot which sparked this beautiful desert phenomenon where dormant wildflowers suddenly bloom everywhere and cover the ground for miles,” the JOVM mainstay explains in press notes. “I kept hearing the word mentioned all around me and began to feel weirdly aligned with it. Things in Toronto were feeling emotional and complicated so the idea of a Superbloom became this hopeful mantra for me that things could change and get better.​​​​​​​”

Along with the big announcements, RALPH announced a series of tour dates with joan. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:
* = with joan​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Feb 12th – Philadelphia, PA @ Voltage Lounge *
Feb 15th – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom*
Feb 16th  – Chicago, IL @ Schubas* (SOLD OUT)
Feb 17th – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry*
Feb 19th – Denver, CO @ Globe Hall*
Feb 20th – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court*
Feb 22nd – Seattle, WA @ Columbia City Theatre*
Feb 23rd – Portland, OR @ Holocene*
Feb 26th – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord*
Feb 27th – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan * (SOLD OUT)
Feb 29th – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar*
Mar 2nd – Dallas, TX @ Dada*
Mar 3rd – Austin, TX @ Stubbs Indoors*
Mar 4th – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall*
Mar 10th – Victoria, BC @ Lucky Bar
Mar 11th – Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore
Mar 13th – Calgary, AB @ Dickens
March 14th – Edmonton, AB @ Temple
March 16th – Winnipeg, MB @ Good Will SC

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink cover the Newcastle, UK-born and-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Sam Fender. Now, as you may recall last year was a breakthrough year for the Newcastle-born and-based JOVM mainstay: his Bramwell Bronte-produced full-length debut Hypersonic Missiles was a critically applauded, commercial success. Fender also made several nationally televised late night appearances — and went on a successful international tour that saw him play across North America twice.
The rapidly rising British artist closed out last year with the release of “All Is On My Side.” The song has been a regular fixture of his live set for the past few years and a fan favorite that he released after a committed online campaign by his fans to release it. And while centered around the sleek and slick production and arena rock friendly hooks that has won him international acclaim, the propulsive song finds Fender crafting a synthesis of 70s AM rock along the lines of Gerry Rafferty and 80s New Wave and rock reminiscent of Billy Idol, complete with a Eric Clapton Slowhand-era like guitar solo.
Although most of last year was full of momentous, life-changing achievements for the young singer/songwriter, the year ended on a frustrating note with Fender having to postpone a handful of sold-out UK live dates as a result of illness. Those shows have been rescheduled for later this month and during the Spring. (You can check out the rescheduled tour dates, along with some European Union and UK Summer festival dates below.)
So far, 2020 has continued much of the momentum of last year: Fender was hand-picked by Elton John to play at his annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Party — and much like last year, he’s gearing up for this year’s BRIT Awards, but this time, he’s received a nomination for Best New Artist. Interestingly, “Hold Out,” is Fender’s first single of this year, and while it doesn’t actually signal the start of a press campaign for his sophomore album, it’s meant to act as another statement of intent for him. Desperate to prove that he’s not a one-hit wonder, Fender has an urgent desire to better his critically applauded effort. Centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, “Hold Out” is slow-burning, 80s inspired anthem with an enormous, arena friendly hook — and the track will further cement the Newcastle-born and-based JOVM mainstay’s reputation for crafting earnest yet ambitious material with a novelistic attention to detail.
Tour Dates (Tickets at samfender.com):
February 17 – O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT
February 19 – O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT
February 24 – La Cigale, Paris
February 25 – Ancienne Belgique, Brussels SOLD OUT
February 27 – Palladium, Cologne
February 28 – Columbiahalle, Berlin
March 1– Halle 622, Zurich
March 2– Paradiso, Amsterdam SOLD OUT
March 5– Docks Club, Hamburg
March 20 – O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester SOLD OUT
March 21 – O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester SOLD OUT
March 23 – Barrowlands, Glasgow SOLD OUT
March 24 – Barrowlands, Glasgow SOLD OUT
March 26 – Alexandra Palace, London SOLD OUT
March 27 – Alexandra Palace, London SOLD OUT
March 31 – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff SOLD OUT
April 2 – First Direct Arena, Leeds SOLD OUT
April 3 – Utilita Arena, Newcastle SOLD OUT
May 1 – O2 Academy, Bristol (rescheduled show) SOLD OUT
May 16 – O2 Academy, Birmingham (rescheduled show) SOLD OUT
May 17 – O2 Academy, Brixton (rescheduled show) SOLD OUT
May 23 – Warrington, Neighbourhood Festival
May 24 – Newcastle, This Is Tomorrow Festival
June 3 – De Montfort Hall, Leicester (rescheduled show)
June 13 – Isle of Wight Festival
June 16 – Malahide Castle, Dublin (w/ The Killers) SOLD OUT
June 17 – Malahide Castle, Dublin (w/ The Killers) SOLD OUT
July 8 – Madrid, Espacio Mad Cool Festival
July 10 – Glasgow, TRNSMT Festival
August 19 – Tivoli Vredenburg, Utrecht SOLD OUT

 

With the release of last year’s full-length debut Grass Stains and Novocaine, the San Francisco-based shoegazers Seablite — currently featuring Lauren, Galine, Jen and Andy — quickly received national attention: the album placed highly on a number of that year’s Best-Of Lists, including landing at #36 on Good Morning America‘s Top 50 Albums of the Year list.

Building upon a growing profile, the band will be releasing Grass Stains and Novocaine‘s highly-anticipated follow-up, the 4 song 10 inch EP High Rise Mannequins. Recorded by Alicia Vanden Heuvel in San Francisco, the new batch of material slated for a February 21, 2020 release through Emotional Response Records reportedly captures the band growing as songwriters and musicians. 

“Pretend” the EP’s first single finds the Bay Area-based quartet’s sound drawing equally from fuzz pop, jangle pop, shoegaze and 60s bubblegum pop in a way that recalls The Smiths, La Sera and Phil Spector-era girl groups but with a bit of garage rock grit and grime, and a huge, anthemic hook.

‘”Pretend’ is one of our oldest songs from our first EP and we wanted to renew it with our current lineup,” the band says in an emailed statement. “We recorded it as part of a 4-song EP in July of 2019 with Alicia Vanden Heuvel at her very own Speakeasy Studios in San Francisco. Most folks are familiar with Alicia from her work in The Aislers Set and Poundsign, but she’s also been producing bands such as The Mantles, Personal and the Pizzas, and countless others in her studio for years. She uses a giant 2” tape machine that was originally used to record all of the sounds on the movie The Abyss, so there’s some vibes in that thing for sure.  Alicia has a very special ear and production style, it was amazing to collaborate with and bounce ideas off of her. Every time we finished a mix, we’d go out to Alicia’s car and blast the songs while sitting in her driveway, then run up into her house and crank the songs on her stereo and AB it. The EP recording experience felt natural, more like a hangout session where we happened to also be working on a record.”

 

Founded by The Weight’s and Gentleman Jesse’s Joseph Plunket (guitar, vocals) and Silver Jews‘ Brian Kotzur (drums), who also started in Harmony Korine’s critically applauded film Trash Humpers with State Champion‘s Sabrina Rush (bass), the rising Nashville-based trio Country Westerns can trace their origins to when the then Brooklyn-based Plunket relocated to Nashville, where he founded Duke’s, the sister bar to my beloved Clem’s. Although Nashville has a long-held reputation for teeming with solo artists and hired guns, Plunket met Kotzur, and the pair bonded over their mutual desire to be in an actual band.

Throughout 2016, Plunket and Kotzur spent their time in Kotzur’s garage writing material and tracking demos, eventually honing their sound. With the encouragement of their friends, they began looking for the band’s third member. Playing with a number of different lineups including Bully’s Reece Lazarus, who played on some of their earliest material, Plunket’s and Kotzur’s friend Sabrina Rush joined the band, completing their lineup after a series of lineup shuffles. Best known as a violinist and member of Louisville, KY’s State Champion, Rush had never played bass until that point; but bass came naturally to her, and Plunket and Kotzur quickly realized that her harmonic bass lines managed to perfectly flesh out their sound.

The first recordings with the band’s current lineup were recorded in Nashville with engineer Andrija Tokic, but the band was soon convinced to leave Nashville to record a couple of songs with Matt Sweeney at Brooklyn’s Strange Weather Studios with Daniel Schlett. Interestingly, the Sweeney-produced material caught the attention of Fat Possum Records, who signed the band during a brief break in the recording sessions.

Slated for a May 1, 2020 release, the band’s self-titled debut album reportedly finds the band playing with a bigger sound than what one would expect for a trio. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Gentle Soul,” which features a jangling guitar riff, Plunket’s raspy and growling vocals, a insistent and propulsive rhythm section and an enormous finds the band’s sound leaning heavily towards Document-era R.E.M. and 80s John Mellencamp: earnest lyrics, inspired by and written from hard-fought and harder-won experience paired with ambitious and accessible songwriting.

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Hot Snakes Releases a Defiant Anti-Work Anthem

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite about the acclaimed — and downright legendary — punk act Hot Snakes, and as you may recall the act can trace its origins to when its then-San Diego, CA-based founder Swami John Reis founded the band in 1999: that year, Reis’ primary gig Rocket from the Crypt went on hiatus after longtime drummer Atom Willard left the band. Coincidentally, the band was also in between labels. And as the story goes, while searching for a new label and drummer for Rocket from the Crypt, Reis started his own label Swami Records and began experimenting with other musicians, which eventually led to the formation of two acclaimed side projects — Sultans and Hot Snakes. 

Interestingly, Hot Snakes began in earnest when Reis recorded a batch of material with Delta 72′s Jason Kourkounis. Reis then recruited his former Pitchfork and Drive Like Jehu bandmate and collaborator Rick Froberg to contribute vocals. Most of the material that they recorded wound up comprising their full-length debut Automatic Midnight. Although Reis and Froberg had collaborated together for years, Hot Snakes proved to be a logical challenge: Reis was in San Diego, Froberg had relocated in New York to start a career as a visual artist and illustrator, and Kourkounis was based in Philadelphia. As a result, the members of the band had sporadic and intense recording and touring schedules, which featured Beehive and the Barracudas’, Tanner’s and Fishwife’s Gar Wood on bass. 

And while Hot Snakes’ sonically and aesthetically bears some similarities to Reis’ and Froberg’s previous work, the band’s sound leaned towards a more primal, garage rock sound, influenced by Wipers, Suicide, and Michael Yonkers Band. Along with that, the band developed a now, long-held reputation for a completely DIY approach to recording, touring and merchandise — with the band releasing their earliest material through Reis’ Swami Records. (Unsurprisingly, Hot Snakes’ debut Automatic Midnight was the first release through Reis’ label.)

After the release of 2002’s Suicide Invoice and 2004’s Audit in Progress, the band split up in 2005. In 2011, they reunited for a world tour, which eventually set the stage for the band’s fourth album, 2018’s Jericho Sirens, which was coincidentally, their first album in over 14 years. Recorded in short bursts in San Diego and Philadelphia during 2017 and features Reis and Froberg collaborating with Wood and drummers Kourkounis and Rubalcaba — both of whom have been on prior Hot Snakes albums but never on the same one until now. And as Reis explained in press notes for the album, one of the most rewarding aspects was continuing his  collaboration and creative partnership with Froberg. “Our perspectives are similar. Our tastes are similar. He is my family. And what more is there to say? My favorite part of making this record was hearing him find his voice and direction for this record. I came hard,” Reis says.

Thematically, Jericho Sirens’ material commiserates with the frustration and apathy of our daily lives while pointing out that generally we haven’t had a fucking clue about anything. As the band’s Froberg said at the time, “Songs like ‘Death Camp Fantasy’ and ‘Jericho Sirens’ are about that. No matter where you look, there’re always people saying the world’s about to end. Every movie is a disaster movie. I’m super fascinated by it. It is hysterical, and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It snowballs, like feedback, or my balls on the windshield.” Sonically, the album found the band incorporating some of the most extreme fringes of their sound while staying true to their long standing influences. including AC/DC.

Late last year, the band released “Checkmate,” a decidedly AC/DC-like track, centered around booze-soaked power chords, howled lyrics and a chugging yet forceful rhythm section. Interestingly, while being the first bit of new material from the band after the release of Jericho Sirens, the track was the first of a series of four 7 inch singles that will lead up to the band’s highly-awaited fifth album; so each single is a seasonal release. Hot Snakes begins 2020 with their Spring 7 inch installment, the defiant anti-work/anti-working for the man anthem “I Shall Be Free.” Centered around slashing, face-melting power chords and chugging rhythms, the track continues a run of decidedly AC/DC-like singles with a boozy air. 

The recently released video features some trippy, line animation by Swami John Reis’ 13-year-old son Tiger Reis that morphs into stick figures, tanks, rockets, a skeleton and even airplanes that move and undulating to the accompanying music.