Category: New Audio

Initially begun as a bedroom songwriting project of primary songwriters, founding members and brothers Kilian and Daniel O’Kelly and eventually expanding into a full-fledged quintet, the Dublin-based art punk band Silverbacks specialize in an angular, and furious post-punk centered around a triple guitar-led attack, lead singer Daniel O’Kelly’s dryly humorous lyrics and infectious hooks. The Irish quintet’s Daniel Fox-produced single “Just In The Band,” will be released through the band’s PK Miami Records early next year, and while the new single continues a run of uneasy, downright anxious singles, it has a Gang of Four-like muscular groove that reveals a young band expanding upon their sound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Currently comprised of founding member Justin Clay (guitar, vocals), his long-time music partners Cody Honey (drums) and Morgan Moody (bass) with reclusive outsider musician Jandek playing a handful tracks on the Galveston, TX-based act Darwin’s Finches’ third, full-length album Good Morning Creatures II, the act can trace their origins back to 2006 when its founding member, along with some friends in his Biology class started the band as a bit of a prank. Eventually, the act which derives its name from the finches that inspired Darwin’s On the Origins of Species featured a rotating cast of players, some of the band’s early iterations played pop-shop shows at biker bars (some that have provoked fist fights), art museums, national parks — and even a number of shows that ended with fruit fights.

In 2012 Clay took a break from music to be a family man and to spend time with his son Odin. When he returned from his hiatus, Clay joined long-time friend and renowned, Texas psych folk legend Jandek for a series of shows in the UK. Upon his return, Justin reformed the band with its current lineup. The band’s third, full-length album reportedly recalls Camper Van Beethoven, Butthole Surfers, The Frogs and Pixies — and the album’s latest single “Hosea!” is a jagged, twangy and hook-driven song that sounds both boozy, demented and as though it were released during 120 Minutes-era MTV.

 

 

Comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Dan Sheron, Seth Mower, Ben Mower and Carl Osterlof, the now Los Angeles-based indie rock/indie folk quartet Balto can trace their origins back to when its founding member and primary songwriter was 21 and attempting to begin a journalism career in Moscow. After failing at that and suffering through overwhelming personal and professional heartbreak, Sheron felt that his life had collapsed. Without saying goodbye to his friends or bothering to pack his belongings, Sheron took a Siberia-bound train with a child’s guitar and a journal that quickly filled with songs. And as the story goes, at some point the idea of the project was born in a third-class train car, singing and drinking among strangers somewhere east of Novosibirsk.

Naturally, over some time and with the recruitment of Seth Mower, Ben Mower and Carl Osterlof, the project transformed from a songwriting vehicle into a full-fledged band who describe their sound as “a boozy, swaggering style of American music rooted at the intersection of Motown, Big StarPlastic Ono Band-era John Lennon and Jackson Browne” — although they have cited the likes of My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog, Alabama Shakes, and The Arcs among others. Throughout their run together, the band has been fairly busy releasing 2011’s October’s Road, 2012’s Monuments 2015’s Call It By Its Name and last year’s Strangers, which was heavily praised by Seattle-based curators Artist Home as being “a tangle of beautiful messy emotions, wrapped in a sound that’s warmly familiar yet brimming with soul and tiny details that are touched by magic.”

During the past couple of years, the members of Balto relocated to Los Angeles and the move has also influenced their sound, with the band’s sound taking on a sunnier, more textured sound. In fact, their latest single, the shaggy, shuffling and boozy “Black Snake Mojave Blues” sound as though it were influenced by The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Allman Brothers Band as the song is centered by bluesy power chords, a big , muscular and infectious hook and a raucous, bunch of guys jamming together vibe.  In some way, it’s the perfect song for making a road trip without having a clear destination or purpose beyond just being alive and digging whatever you come across. Interestingly, as the band’s Dan Sheron says of the writing process, “I envisioned it as a slow sad song originally, but I’d left my guitar in Open G and was knocking around a blues and thought to try the song a different way.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Alex Hastings and Bryan Gomez, the Los Angeles, CA-based duo Pioneer 11 derive their name from the famed space probe of the same name. And unsurprisingly, the duo specializes in space rock; however, their take is a hazy and hip-hop influenced one that has drawn comparisons to Dark Side of the Moon meets J.Dilla, Caribou meets Flying Lotus and Radiohead among others. Interestingly, “Squishy Sunbeam” off the duo’s forthcoming full-length debut Gravitorium is centered around ethereal vocals, twinkling keys, shimmering guitar lines, a motorik groove and thumping beats — and sonically, the song recalls the hazy sunniness of Cut Copy‘s In Ghost Colours but with a trippy cosmic glow.

 

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New Audio: Combo Chimbita’s Propulsive and Psychedelic New Single

Throughout JOVM’s eight-plus year history, I’ve covered Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP)’s annual conference in some fashion or another. As a national service, advocacy and membership organization for those within the performing arts — particularly within dance and theater, APAP over the years has developed a reputation for their role in assisting musicians and groups, who specialize in “world music.” Along with the annual conference, which features discussion panels, lectures, networking sessions and the like for artists producing, recording and creating artwork in our extremely complicated and confusing political landscape, there are a number of carefully curated showcases hosted and/or sponsored by this city’s best known “world music” venues.  Now, as you may recall, the Lower East Side world music venue DROM hosts Barbes’ and Electric Cowbell’s annual Secret Planet APAP showcase — and earlier this year, their wildly eclectic showcase featured the New York-based Colombian folk collective Bulla en el Barrio; the Brooklyn-based act Drunken Foreigner, which specializes in a sprawling, psych rock-like iteration of the Akha and Lam Lao musics of Thailand and Laos; the Cleveland, OH-based Afro-futuristic soul act Mourning [A] BLKSTAR; the New York-based Afro-futuristic-inspired, psychedelic cumbia act Combo Chimbita; the New York-based Ethiopian funk and jazz-inspired septet Anabessa Orchestra; and the New York-based act Hearing Things which specializes in a sound that draws from Middle Eastern music, surf rock, and 60s soul and R&B.

Featuring Bulla en el Barrio’s Carolina Oliveros (vocals) along with Prince of Queens (synths and bass), Niño Lento (guitar) and Dilemastronauta (drums), Combo Chimbita began experimenting with different traditional music styles during their late night residencies at Barbes — much of this experimentation included explorations between visual identity and improvisational long-form trips that eventually lead to their thunderous 2016 self-recorded debut, El Corridor del Jaguar. Interestingly, much like Mourning [A] BLKSTR, the New York-based act is deeply inspired by Sun Ra’s Afro-futurism — while championing their own take on it, which they’ve dubbed Tropical Futurism. As the band says “the idea that the future doesn’t necessarily have to be this super white Western high-tech Star Wars stuff; that the indigenous ideas and culture of people of color, people of Latin America, can also represent a magical and substantial future. It’s a vision that maybe a lot of people don’t necessarily think about often. The old and deep knowledge that indigenous people have of the land has been neglected for many years as part of capitalism and colonization.”

Their Lily Wen-produced sophomore full-length album Abya Yala was released through Figure & Ground Records was released back in 2016, and the album further established the band’s unique futuristic take on cumbia. And along with an incredible live show, led by Oliveros powerhouse vocals and commanding stage presence, the New York-based act has begun to receive quite a bit of buzz. In fact, renowned Los Angeles-based label ANTI- Records, a label known for having a roster of wildly eclectic array of artists that includes the legendary Mavis Staples, recently signed the band. As the band’s Prince of Queens says in press notes, “ANTI- is a special label. It is crazy to be part of such a diverse pool of artists, feels extra special being an immigrant band singing in Spanish. I grew up in Bogota listening to a lot of bands on Epitaph and not understanding a word they were singing but it made me want to be in a band and learn music. It feels like full circle working with [Epitaph’s sister label] ANTI-.”

The members of Combo Chimbita will be closing out a big year with a series of live shows the include sets at Lincoln Center and Philadelphia’s PhilaMOCA before joining Parquet Courts for the Midwestern leg of the indie rock’s current tour. You can check out the tour dates below. But before that, the band has released a trippy new single “Testigo,” a track centered by a looping Afro pop-like guitar line, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, rolling and propulsive percussion, a sinuous bass line and Oliveros’ powerhouse vocals. Sonically speaking, their sound serves as a power reminder of how much contemporary music — particularly Latin American music — draws from Africa, as much as it does from their own native traditions, and they do so in a wildly anachronistic yet dance floor friendly fashion. 

Comprised of Peter Kaunda (vocals), Albert Manda (vocals), Solomon Nikho (drums), Myles Minthall (percussion, vocals) and Guta Manda (percussion, vocals) the Malawi-based act Tonga Boys emerged with the release of last year’s Tiri Bwino, an effort that vividly described African urban life — chaotic, crowded, desperate, frequently deprived of electricity and in many cases surrounded by sewage treatment plants. Sonically, the act meshed contemporary electronic music with the traditional music of the Tonga people.

Reportedly, the Malawian act’s sophomore album Vindodo finds the act pushing their sound in a more mature, dynamic and refined direction. While still centered around the lead vocals of Kaunda and Manda paired by the call and response vocals of the act’s remaining members. Musically, the act’s call and response vocals are accompanied with drums and improvised instruments — namely, plastic buckets, shovels, aluminum cans filled with gravel, and a guitar made of wires on an unheated board. The album was recorded in makeshift home studios in about five different sessions with the band telling their production team Pitor Dang, Czanry Latawiec and Wojciech Kucharcyzk to add more sounds to it later. Dang, Latawiec and Kucharcyzk incorporated a bolder use of electronics into the overall sound. Ultimately, the aim wasn’t to find a way to adapt Malawian act’s sound into European ideas about African electronic music or traditional folk music but rather to further emphasize the energy, rawness, joy and sense of dislocation and displacement within their music.

Album opener “Buranda” which is centered by a deceptively simple arrangement rapid fire call and response, bolstered by forceful tribal polyrhythm that gives the song an ecstatic, trance inducing vibe. Interestingly, as the folks at 1000Herz Records explain, the track is about a party in honor of an arriving stranger, presumably far away from their homeland. Focusing on the experience of a stranger in a strange and perhaps unforgiving strange land seems like a decidedly modern concern, but when rooted to a folk-based sound, the track points at the fact that it’s a timeless one.

 

 

Centered around the collaboration between core duo Martin Kuphukusi (vocals, lyrics) and Pitor Dang (electronics, sampler, production, mixing, lyrics, bass) Owls Are Not are an international collaboration primarily based in Warsaw, Poland that specializes in a minimal Afro funk/electro pop/electro punk that at points draws from footwork and dub, and live, organic Eastern African rhythms.

The act’s latest effort, Radio Tree released through the non-profit label 1000Herz Records is the result of several months of ethnomusicological research in Malawi and Tanzania. Adding to the Pan African and international flavor of the album, four of the album’s six songs were written with Eastern African vocalists, including Tonga Boys‘ Peter Kaunda, appearing as Certifyd, Sehno‘s Masaya Hijikata and Martin Kaphux Kaphukusi, the choir conductor of Christ Church of Malawi. Additionally, newspaperflyhunting and Vendrae Vendarum’s Michal Pawlowksi contributes guitar on a song.

Radio Tree‘s latest single is the thumping, club friendly “Asali.” Centered around arpeggiated synths and an infectious hook, the song manages to recall dancehall with a distinctly African flair. Thematically, the song like much of the album’s material focuses on love — and in a way that feels endearing and almost old school.

 

 

 

 

 

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Alexis Evans is a young, up-and-coming Bordeaux, France-born soul singer/songwriter and guitarist. He discovered traditionally black music and soul music as a child and learned to play the guitar from his father, an English-born, French-based musician. At the young age of 17, Evans released his debut “Jumping to the Westside” which was awarded the Cognac Blues Passions prize — and as a result, he wound up performing in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. With the release of 2016’s full-length debut Girl Bait, the young, French singer/songwriter built up a national and international profile with live sets at RDV Erdre Nantes, Rhino Jazz St. Etienne, Lyon Ninkasi, Club Nubia Paris, Festivals Relache Bordeaux, Jazz a Vienne and festival stops across the England, Wales, Estonia and Switzerland.

From album single “Keep the Good Time (On Your Mind)” I can see why.  Evans and his backing band specialize in a warmly familiar take on the classic soul sound — it’s part Muscle Shoals, part Northern Soul, part Daptone Records, centered around Evans effortless, soulful beyond his youthful vocals, big, rousing hooks and a muscular, power ballad-like arrangement. The guy can flat out sang and play that soul like it was 1963.

Evans recently signed to renowned Italian soul label Record Kicks Records, who will be releasing his sophomore album sometime next year. I’m personally looking forward to hearing more from this young, exceptional talent.

 

 

Helga is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter, who hails from the central Swedish province of Dalarna, known for its deep forests. Living in a remote cabin with just a guitar for company has given her songwriting a rather unique sense of introspection. The Swedish folk/rock singer/songwriter’s forthcoming EP Nebulous as she says in press notes feature songs that are “a musical translation of her inner and physical world.” Helga adds “I personally love reverb-drenched music and sounds, drawing inspiration from my dream world and Swedish folk music.”

“In The Wilderness,” the melancholy and atmospheric first single from Nebulous is centered around layers upon layers of shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive drumming and Helga’s gorgeous yet mournful vocals. While the song sonically and tonally brings JOVM mainstay Holy Wars to mind, the song thematically focuses on the state of an environment (and natural world) that’s under increasing threat of permanent destruction from humanity’s greed, indifference, stupidity and myopia. Arguably, one of the heavier songs of the up-and-coming singer/songwriter’s growing catalog, the song features an arena rock-like hook, revealing an ambitious songwriter, who’s adept at making the personal universal and vice versa. “Clearly Trump’s environmental policy is alarming, leading this world to the path of destruction. We currently live under capitalist insanity,” Helga fumes in press notes. “Mankind’s insatiable greed is slowly destroying this planet. We perceive ourselves as separate from nature and dominant over it and it’s incredibly sad. When will we realise that we are a part of the natural world, and not superior to it? An overwhelming feeling of sadness is washing over me. Sometimes I wish Carl Sagan were still with us today. I’m sure he would have many great things to say.”

Le Couleur is Montreal, Quebec-based electro pop band that consists of Laurence Giroux-Do, Patrick Gosselin and Steeven Chouinard, and with the release of 2010’s debut effort Origami, the trio received attention both across Europe and in their native Quebec for a decidedly French take on synth pop and disco pop. As a result of growing buzz around the French Canadian trio, their debut was propelled to the top of Quebec’s independent radio charts.

Le Couleur’s 2013 French Fox-produced Voyage Love EP found the trio collaborating with the members of French Horn Rebellion on an effort that found the act expanding upon the sound that first caught attention, winning further attention internationally. In fact, the act played a number of festivals across the international festival circuit including stops Pop Montreal, Liverpool Sound City and M for Montreal. The EP was also nominated for a GAMIQ Prize for Best EP of the year. Building upon a run of critically applauded material, the act’s 2015 Dolce Désir EP won the GAMIQ Prize for Electronic Music EP.

The French-Canadian act’s latest single “Le Dernier Noel” is a special (and mesmerizing) Christmas track for their fans, centered around shimmering synths, jangling guitars, ethereal vocals and a slick, radio friendly and dance floor friendly hook. And while being a fairly traditional Christmas tune, the Le Couleur rendition manages to be much more indirect and subtle in its spirit.