Category: New Audio

Throughout this site’s almost 8 year history, I’ve written a bit about the Gold Coast, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Emily Hamilton and her solo recording project San Mei, which began rather humbly as a bedroom recording project but gradually began receiving attention from this site and a number of major media outlets including NME, Indie ShuffleNYLON and Triple J. Interestingly, with the release of debut EP Necessary, Hamilton’s sound adding more organic instrumentation, drawing Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cat Power, and Feist  — and a result, the EP found Hamilton moving away from the bedroom synth pop that first captured the attention of the blogosphere towards fuzzy, power chord-based dream pop.

Hamilton met songwriter, producer and overall musical phenom Oscar Dawson, who has worked with Holy Holy, Alex Lahey, Ali Barter, British India, Robbie Miller and Joyride at BIGSOUND last year, and the pair immediately hit it off. According to Hamilton, taking Dawson on as a producer and collaborator — and early on, the collaboration between the pair have found them refining ideas, exploring different soundscapes and laying down the foundation for the sonic progression of San Mei. As Hamilton explains in press notes “[Dawson and I] hit it off straight away and it seemed like he understood where I was coming from, even if I had trouble conveying certain ideas in the demos I made at home.”

Hamilton’s latest single “Wonder” is the first single since the release of Necessary EP and while the single in some way continues in a similar vein of as the material on her critically applauded EP, it manages to be a subtle refinement that finds Dawson and Hamilton crafting an anthemic, radio friendly and arena rock friendly track centered around a razor sharp, infectious hook, fuzzy shoegazer rock-like power chords and thundering drumming. And yet interestingly enough, the single may be among Hamilton’s most sincere song, as it captures the swooning, butterflies in the stomach sensation when someone who’s unknown to you captures your attention and you can’t quite pin down why. That unknown person becomes part of a mysterious daydream to you, in which you begin to wonder everything about them — and yet, there’s a part of you that isn’t certain if you want them to become more than just some brief, intoxicating illusion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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John Glenn Kunkel is a Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and producer, who has released three critically applauded albums, four EPs and a number of remixes with his solo recording project The New Division. Kunkel’s work has received millions of Spotify streams, and adding to a growing profile, Kunkel has been covered in major media outlets like Pitchfork and The Guardian.

Kunkel’s soon-to-be released Fader EP will further cement the Los Angeles-based electronic music artist and producer’s reputation for crafting cinematic and moody synth pop that immediately brings Depeche Mode, New Order, Umberto and others to mind; in fact, the EP’s first single, the dance floor friendly, opening track “One Night in Tokyo” is centered around slick production featuring a motorik-like groove, propulsive boom bap-like beats, shimmering, arpeggiated synths and a soaring hook; but underneath the dance floor friendly sounds are melancholy lyrics based on a failed trans-Pacific love affair that has haunted the song’s narrator, which create an interesting and ironic juxtaposition within the song.

 

Born into a family of artists and musicians, the Denton, TX-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Claire Morales began to play music and make visual art at a very young age. Family gatherings were frequently interrupted by a three year-old Morales insisting on singing a mix of Beatles and Disney songs on a makeshift, fireplace stage. The Denton, TX-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began playing her first solo shows as a middle school at local coffee shops, armed with her father’s 1960s Gibson and an arresting voice that has had many well-meaning people throughout  at her life would deal “more powerful than I thought it would be, looking you.”

Morales’ 2015 full-length debut Amaranthine saw her work translation from folksy and rootsy solo singer/songwriter to fully fleshed out band with at sound that many have described as melodic, hazy, 70s inspired rock centered around a nostalgic meditation on childhood — from the perspective of someone, in the early throes of adulthood. However, All That Wanting, Morales’ sophomore effort, is the much-anticipated follow-up to her debut, and the album, which is slated for a June 29, 2018 release reportedly explores the vast freedom, possibility and existential terror of young, adult life; in fact, the album revolves around the human tendency to endlessly crave more, asking how we can stave off and tame that feeling and instead take in the beauty before you. Desire is ultimately viewed as a mythic force capable of compelling one forward or consuming one wholly.

Recorded by Matt Pence and Jeremy Buller at the Denton-based Echo Lab, Morales and her backing band of Alex Hastings, Ryan Williams and Russ Connell spent six days recording the album’s ten tracks mostly live together in the studio’s cavernous main room, which gives the album and its material the raw energy of a group of musicians who have collaborated together for a long time, and hinges on mutual respect and open communication between everyone involved. The album finds Morales and company fearlessly and fluidly passing through a vast sonic palette including intense dramatic moments, shoegazer-like psychedelia, profound introspection, rumbling unease and cathartic release.

All That Wanting‘s latests ingle, the album title track “All That Wanting” centers around fuzzy, pedal effected guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section, a soaring, arena rock friendly hook, Morales’ powerhouse vocals and a trembling, unfulfilled longing that sonically and thematically reminds me quite a bit of PJ Harvey and Shana Falana, complete with a distinctly feminine strength and resiliency.

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Jace ECAj (emcee) and Felicia Loud (vocals), the Seattle, WA-based duo Black Stax are set to release the first album of a live recording series ILL-US-TRAIT, and the album’s first single is a forward looking and crowd-pleasing live version of “Unexpected Shots” that features producer and DJ Shingi creating a a psychedelic, swirling palette centered around a shimmering sitar sample, while ECAj spits some impressive bars with complex rhyme schemes and Loud contributes a soulful hook; the second half of song features a mischievous call and response section with the duo interacting with the crowd as they move from the song’s hook to the chorus. Interestingly, much like Shabazz Palaces, Clipping, TheeSatisfaction, Chimurenga Renaissance and others, the up-and-coming Seattle-based duo are part of a growing collection of artists, who have actively been pushing hip-hop in new directions sonically and creatively.

New Audio: Here Lies Man Returns with Their Most Anthemic and Ambitious Song to Date

Over the past year or so, I’ve written a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based act Here Lies Man, and as you may recall, the act, which was founded by Marcos Garcia and Geoff Mann, both of whom have been members of renowned Afrobeat act Antibalas have received attention here and elsewhere for a sound that manages to seamlessly bridge classic, Fela Kuti-era, funky Afrobeat grooves with classic, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin-era, power chord-fueled rock.

The band’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort You Will Know Nothing is slated for a June 15, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album finds the band busily refining and expanding upon their sound; in fact, as the band’s co-founder Marcos Garcia explains in press notes, “We’re very conscious of how the rhythms service the riffs. Tony Iommi’s (Black Sabbath) innovation was to make the riff the organizing principle of a song. We are talking the same approach but employing a different organizing principle: For Iommi, it was the blues, for us to comes directly from Africa.” Along with that, the members of the band specifically focused on writing catchier, much more anthemic material with a slightly slicker, crisper production, while lyrically, they wanted to focus on a conceptualized effort, as the songs thematically are centered around states of being and consciousness. As Garcia continues “We wanted to go deeper with the sonic experience. Even though it sounds more hi-fi than the first record, it was important that it didn’t sound too polished.”

Interestingly, the album’s material is also based around some musical theory and mathematics with interludes between each song that are 2/3rds to 3/4th of the tempo of the previous song. “The reason it breaks down to 2 over 3 or 3 over 4 is that everything in the music rhythmically corresponds to a set of mathematical algorithms known as the clave. The clave is an ancient organizing rhythmic principle developed in Africa.” As the band’s Geoff Mann says “We dove deep into the texture of the music, beyond the groove and the riff. Although something might sound like one instrument, there are subtle layers shifting through. It’s definitely a headphone album.”

However, much like the previous album, the duo of Garcia and Mann recorded You Will Know Nothing a their Los Angeles studio on a Tascam 388 8-track recorder. Congas later recorded by percussionists Richard Panta and Reinaldo DeJesus. Then Garcia traveled to New York to record the interludes with former Antibalas keyboardist Victor Axelrod. Mixing took the most time of the entire process, as they had to found the proper sonic space of each layer of musical detail with their first album engineer Jermey Page mixing the drum parts and the band tackling the remainder while balancing a busy touring schedule.

Much like its hallucinogenic but anthemic predecessor “Fighting,” You Will Know Nothing’s latest single “That Much Closer to Nothing” is centered around a blistering power-chord rock and shuffling yet propulsive rhythms — and while managing to mesh psych rock, stoner rock, Afrobeat and classic rock, the album’s new single is incredibly textured and requires multiple, careful listens. Interestingly, the track also reveals a band that has written some of the most ambitious yet accessible material they’ve written to date.

Last year, I had written a bit about the Brighton, UK-based indie rock band, Thyla, and as you may recall the band can trace its origins to when its founding trio of Millie Duthie, Danny Southwell and Dan Hole met back in 2015 while attending college. Quickly bonding over shared musical interests, Duthie, Southwell and Hole formed the band — but with the addition of the band’s newest member, Mitch Dutch, the band began to reimagine their sound and aesthetic, before writing and recording  some new, attention grabbing material, centered around a distaste of what they felt is the stale and boring state of the British recording industry.

Not only have they furthered Brighton’s growing reputation across the UK for producing some of England’s best and hottest, up-and-coming bands, they’ve played with the likes of Dream WifeLuxury DeathMatt Maltese, YonakaHusky Loops and Lazy Day.  Adding to a growing profile, the members of Thyla have been spotlighted alongside Pale Waves, Nilüfer Yanya, and Sorry in NME‘s 100 Essential Acts for 2018, and this year, they’ve shared bills with Sunflower Bean, INHEAVEN and Fickle Friends. Additionally, BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens named the band one of his Alternative Tips for 2018 — and that interestingly enough coincides with a headlining spot at BBC’S Biggest Weekend Fringe and a set at The Great Escape Festival.

Produced by Macks Faulkron and mixed by Alex Newport, Thyla’s latest single “Blame” may arguably be one of the more arena rock/festival circuit rock friendly singles they’ve released to date, as the song is centered around angular guitar and bass chords played through a generous amount of reverb, thundering and propulsive drumming and a rousing, anthemic hook meant to evoke the anxious frenzy of neurosis and crippling self-consciousness. As the band explains “‘Blame’ is a about the uncharacteristic choices people make when they’re trying to be like someone else, for the sake of someone else, at a cost to themselves. It’s a neurotic frenzy of guitars with self conscious lyrics about the state of paralysis jealously puts you in; blind anger with no real solution.”

Late last month, I wrote about the Austin, TX-based indie rock act Sun June, and as you may recall the act, comprised of founding members Laura Colwell and Stephen Salisbury, along with Michael Bain (guitar), Sarah Schultz (drums), and Justin Harris (bass) can trace their origins to when its founding duo started the band while working long hours in the editing rooms of renowned filmmaker Terrance Malick’s editing rooms, practicing whenever Malick was out of town.

Last year, the band began working on their forthcoming full-length album Years with Evan Kaspar at Estuary Recording Facility, recording the material live to tape without being overly polished or processed. As the band notes, the album is a “we’ve-been-broken-up-along-time” album, and explores how loss — of friends, family members and partners — evolves over time; but while not being too heavy or too serious.  Album opening track “Discotheque,” was an atmospheric and slow-burning track that manages to evoke a complex array of profoundly inescapable and inexplicable loss but with a sense of pride and celebration; to truly live, after all is to know, accept and live with loss, because it meant you knew love and connection with others, even if it were brief.

“Slow Rise II,” Years‘ latest single begins like a gorgeous, half-remembered reverie with a rousing hook that manages to possess an underlying ache for anything familiar — even if it you can’t go back home again and even if you can’t get that precious moment back. And they do so while furthering their growing reputation for shimmering reverb-heavy indie rock with a folk leaning.

The band is touring to build up buzz and support for their new album, check out the tour dates below.
TOUR DATES
May 16 | Austin, TX @ Stubb’s (w. Hovvdy, Half Waif)
June 16 | El Paso, TX @ Neon Rose
June 17 | Tucson, AZ @ Owls Club
June 19 | Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater
June 20 | San Francisco, CA @ The Knockout
June 21 | Chico, CA @ Tender Loving
June 22 | Olympia, WA @ Cascadia Brewing
June 23 | Portland, OR @ Turn Turn Turn
June 28 | Phoenix, AZ @ Trunk Space
June 29 | Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
June 30 | Marfa, TX @ Lost Horse Saloon

 

Born in Washington, DC and currently based in Austin, TX, Zapot Mgwana never knew his father, but his mother, who worked for the Ethiopian Embassy always told him that Herman Poole Blount (a.k.a. Sun Ra) was his father. When Mgwana was nine, he and his mother moved to Nigeria, where he spent most of his formative years. Recently Mgwana returned to the States and formed his musical project The Golden Dawn Arkestra — and much like the work of Sun Ra, Mgwana’s Arkestra focuses on intergalactic travel, transcendence, and time travel but while sonically pairing deep grooves and cinematic quality with a world spanning expansiveness.

Children of the Sun, The Golden Dawn Arkestra’s finds the band further cementing their growing reputation for an expansive, globe spanning sound with album’s material inspired by the sounds of Berlin, Brazil, psych rock, disco, soul and world music. In fact, Children of the Sun‘s latest single “Lovely Day” sounds as though the band were drawing from Bossa Nova, Afrobeat and the work of Ennio Morricone — it’s an expansive, global and forward looking take on the large band format that manages to be mischievously retro-futuristic and with a kaleidoscopic vibe. 

New Audio: Soft Kill Releases a Gorgeous and Deeply Personal Meditation on Life and Death

With the release of 2015’s Heresy and 2016’s acclaimed Choke, the members of Portland, OR-based post punk act Soft Kill, currently comprised of Tobias Grave (vocals/guitar/synths), Conrad Vollmer (guitar), Owen Glendower (bass) and Adam Bulgasem (drums) had spent a an increasing amount of time on the road; in fact, they have been on rather extensive touring cycle through North America and Europe to support Choke. Interestingly enough, the band announced a series Pacific Northwest tour dates with Harms Way, just as they officially dropped their latest album Savior.  

Savior may be the most personal album the band has ever written and recorded, as much of the writing was inspired by a real life experience: as the band was returning from tour, Tobias Grave’s pregnant wife began to bleed out in the van. She was eight months pregnant, and practically in the middle of nowhere, far from a hospital or any other medical facility. The band raced through the night, eventually winding up in the emergency room of Sacramento’s UC Davis Trauma Center, where surgery was performed to try to save the lives of both the mother and the then-unborn child. Although the surgery went well, the baby’s lung collapsed on his second day of life causing him to flatline. Grave was forced to standby and watch as doctors and nurses struggled to keep his newborn son alive with a series of blood transfusions, breathing and feeding tubes. As his vigil turned into weeks, he purchased a guitar, borrowed a bass from a friend and began to write the material that wound up becoming Savior. Thematically speaking, the songs focused on loss and hurt — the tragic loss of his newborn son, his long battle with drug addiction, the tragedies and heartaches of life, the weirdly empty and ambivalent space between mourning and celebration, life and death that we all know far too well. In many ways, the album is written about a man, who has come to grips with the reflection of themselves, as seen in the eyes of their dying son — and as you’ll hear on the shimmering album single “Hard Candy,” the material manages to possess the palpable weight of devastating and senseless loss, and the acceptance of what it means to the song’s narrator and his life, making the song a gorgeous and mournful meditation on life and deat

 

Currently comprised of founding member Natalie Carol (vocals, guitar) and early lineup member Shawn Morones (guitar, vocals), along with newest members Neil Wogensen (bass, vocals) and Mike DeLuccia (drums), the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock band Valley Queen can trace their origins back to their formation in 2014. With a handful of singles under their belts, the band quickly saw a growing profile, which resulted in a relentless touring schedule and an increasing amount of time away from home — and although the band found their own magical pocket musically, the strain was too much for original lineup members Morones and Doot, who left the band.

Carol continued onward with a series of session musicians and ringers, and while the band continued to play bigger clubs, the chemistry that Carol had felt and began to depend on was missing, With growing buzz surrounding her and her bandmates, the members of Valley Queen landed a record deal — a dream that many bands desperately wish to achiever; however, Carol recognized that the band was much more than her concentrating on lyrics with session musicians being paid to play and record the material as directed; in fact, Carol wanted the band to be about the chemistry and relationships between the members of the band, all of which helped the band land their record deal in the first place.  So before writing and recording the material, which would eventually comprise their Lewis Pesacov-produced full-length debut Supergiant, Carol called Doot, who couldn’t re-join the band; however, Mike DeLuccia joined. Then Carol called Morones, who after a series of lengthy conversations, before decided that re-joining the band would be worth the risks involved.

Interestingly, Pesacov, who has worked with Best Coast, Fool’s Gold, Nikki Lane, FIDLAR and JOVM mainstays The Orielles, continues to cement his reputation for raw production while focusing on the urgency of the album’s material and the musicians performances — and for the band, the album was about the collective whole exploring and creating together. As for the album’s lead single and opening track, Carol says, derive their names from the most massive, luminous, and yet the fastest burning known stars in the universe. “The song ‘Supergiant’ is about how we’re all made up of the same stuff as stars, and I liked the idea of tying the whole album together with that metaphor,” says  Carol. “It takes all the drama you hear on the record-the aggressive, chaotic moments, and the more beautiful or quieter moments-and puts it all into a more galactic perspective.” As a result, “Supergiant” has a noticeably cinematic air while possessing elements of 80s New Wave and 70s AM rock in a way that will bring to mind the likes of Heart and Linda Ronstadt, if they were covering Concrete Blonde, or Heartless Bastards covering — well, just about anyone, as the seemingly anachronistic single is centered around Carol’s soulful belting, well-crafted songs and exceptional musicianship.

Valley Queen will be touring to support their new effort and the initial batch of tour dates are below.

VALLEY QUEEN TOUR DATES
July 5-8 Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival
July 28 Los Angeles, CA – The Moroccan Lounge
August 01 San Francisco, CA – Cafe du Nord
August 02 Davis, CA – Sophia’s Thai Kitchen
August 03-05 Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon
August 07 Seattle, WA – Sunset Tavern
August 08 Spokane, WA – The Bartlett
August 09 Missoula, MT – Top Hat Lounge
August 11 Denver, CO – Lost Lake Lounge
August 12 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
August 15 San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brew