Category: New Single

Arguably best known as one half of  Los Angeles, CA-based indie electro pop act Sad Robot, with Long Beach, CA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist Nick Perez, Connecticut-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter Kat Leon developed a reputation for material that focused on her obsessions with death and the occult. With both of her parents suddenly dying within months of one another, Leon was plunged into a period of profound and heartbreaking grief. And after taking some necessary time to grieve, Leon began her latest, solo recording project Holy Wars, influenced by what may have been some of the darkest days of her life to date; in fact, the project in many ways to her is a way to extrapolate the tumultuous feelings and thoughts she had felt and thought during that period — with the result being her Holy Wars debut, double EP Mother, which will released at the end of this month and Father, which is slated for release later on this summer. Of course, both EPs are dedicated to her respective parents and while being dark and at points foreboding, the material isn’t completely nihilistic; in fact, Mother‘s first single “I Can’t Feel A Thing” is a cathartic release, rooted around an anthemic arena rock-like sound reminiscent of Paramore —but with profoundly adult angst, from the recognition that death is a permanent and inconsolable loss, a wound that can never really be healed, and that the only thing anyone can do is figure out a way to move forward.

Mother‘s second single “Orphan” is a slower burning, mid-tempo track that focuses on what may be the darkest, saddest and yet most true aspect of life: that everyone you ever know and love will one day die, and the survivors reeling from inconsolable loss have to piece together their lives, and with her backing band, Leon pairs that sentiment with a stormy and forceful arrangement within a 90s alt rock structure — quiet verses, stormy and loud choruses; however, much like “I Can’t Feel A Thing,” the song isn’t completely negative. Yes, it’s a weary acceptance but within that acceptance is a paradoxical vulnerability and strength.

 

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Initially formed in Bryon Bay, Australia the members of up-and-coming synth funk/dance pop act Parcels, comprised of Patrick Hetherington, Louie Swain, Noah Hill, Jules Crommelin, and  Anatole Serret relocated to Berlin, Germany after they all graduated from high school to seriously pursue music and to hone their sound in one of the most culturally thriving and diverse cities of Europe. As soon as they relocated, the quintet quickly developed a reputation for a sound that paired slick studio production with deliberate attention to live performance, and as a result the act caught the attention of renowned Parisian electronic label Kitsune Records and the members of world famous electronic music production and artist duo Daft Punk, who caught the band play a set in Paris, and was so impressed by the Australian-born, German-based act that they decided to mentor the up-and-coming act.

Earlier this year, the members of Parcels along with the members of Daft Punk wrote and recorded their latest single “Overnight” in a secret location in Paris, and the single is a breezy, easygoing, summertime anthem that subtly reveals a careful attention to craft, as the band pairs infectious, razor sharp hooks with a sinuous bass line, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar and shimmering arpeggio synths — and while clearly nodding at Daft Punk’s “Get Ready,” the song possesses a mischievously sensual swagger.

The Bryon Bay-born, Berlin-based members of the band are touring throughout the European Union and the UK during the year and the tour will include two Glastonbury Festival sets this weekend.

Comprised of TV on the Radio‘s Kyp Malone, Samiam‘s Sean Kennerly, Fuckemos‘ and Surfbort’s Sean Powell, Midnight Masses‘ Giselle Reiber, Wild Yaks‘ Dan Scinta and B.A. Miele,  no-wave, noise-punk act Ice Balloons features an who’s who of contemporary indie rock. Although it’s a side project from each of their full-time gigs, the project find each member bringing sometimes disparate  elements from their pasts into their songwriting process and as you’ll hear on “Calypso Heartworm,” the latest single off the band’s forthcoming full-length debut Fiesta, the band specializes in a fuzzy and washed out dissonance paired with a difficult to discern song structure. There are hints at familiar elements though — there’s something like a bridge and there’s even something like a hook and even verses — and it’s held together by a propulsive and angular bass line, buzzing guitar chords and washed out sounds. And while possessing a trippy and kaleidoscopic vibe underneath the cacophony of noise, it’s a song that manages to feel simultaneously chaotic, slack and anxious.

 

It’s been 11 years since J. Dilla‘s tragic and untimely death due to complications from Lupus and over that period of time, the prolific, Detroit-born producer and beatmaker’s reputation has grown — to the point that he has become arguably one of hip-hop’s most beloved and influential artists and producers; in fact, much of his work possesses a timelessness and vitality that few contemporary producers of any genre can manage. Interestingly enough, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the prolific Detroit-born producer and beatmaker’s untimely passing, his emcee debut The Diary was posthumously released, although it was released with quite a bit of controversy surrounding it. Dilla died before he could finish the album and much of the material was unfinished, leaving producers the unenviable task of piecing and stitching together incomplete ideas and filling in musical gaps in a way that would hew as closely as possible to its creator’s original intentions and ambitions. Naturally, in the event of an artist dying as they were finishing their work, it leaves questions about the nature of art, its creation,  whether an outside editor or a producer can really flesh out the original creator’s ideas in a fashion that they would appreciate, whether its ethical to mine a deceased creator’s incomplete works to make money for the creator’s survivors or for their estate and countless others. In fact, it should be unsurprising that Dilla’s surviving family and the executors publicly battled over every aspect of the posthumously released The Diary; nor should it be surprising that J. Dilla’s mother, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, who has worked tirelessly to further her son’s legacy while being incredibly protective over it.

Mrs. Yancey was instrumental in the release of Motor City, a new collection of rare and unreleased Dilla instrumentals inspired by the producer’s hometown. Conceived as a letter to her son and originally released this for this year’s Record Store Day, the vinyl release quickly sold out; however, the vinyl has been re-pressed in limited quantities and is available for purchase for purchase at Dillatronic while supplies last. But it also marks the long-awaited digital release of the album. And to celebrate both occasions, Mrs. Yancey released “Motor City J Rocc Blend #4,” an exclusive promotional mix by Dilla’s close friend and equally renowned DJ and producer J. Rocc, which features one of Motor City‘s previously unreleased instrumental tracks.

J. Rocc’s mix is an inventive and boldly vivid take on J. Dilla’s production that builds upon Dilla’s souful production in a swaggering yet organic fashion as the production features a looped string section paired with tweeter and woofer rocking beats, some DJ scratching and a sinuous bass line paired with some incredibly fiery spitting from Common.

 

 

 

Comprised of Ella Thompson and Graeme Pogson, GL is a Melbourne, Australia-based electronic music production and artist duo, who with the release of 2013’s Love Hexagon EP and their full-length debut Touch developed a reputation for specializing in a sound that’s very much a contemporary take on disco, funk, boogie, soul and house music, and as a result the Australian electronic music duo quickly earned international attention from The Guardiani-DThe FADERV Magazine, XLR8R and others, as well as played sets at New Zealand’s St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival and Splore Festival while nationally they’ve opened for Nick Murphy fka Chet Faker and played a successful headlining national tour to support their full-length debut.

Building upon a growing national and international profile, which resulted in a busy touring schedule, the duo locked themselves away in the studio to write and record the double A-sided single “Destiny”/”Reflect,” and as the duo explain “‘Reflect’ is an extended jam we made at TFS Studio in North Fitzroy, Melbourne. We wanted to try a long form exploration piece. Listen out for the delightful keyboard solo by Harvey Sutherland! Lyrically, it’s about searching inward, when the outside gets a bit much.” Interestingly enough, the song while being decidedly introspective manages to be joyous, suggesting that searching inward can be a profound solace in a cruel world or as George Clinton once wisely sung “The kingdom of heaven is within.” Of course, sonically, the song will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting a sound that draws so much  from 80s and 90s house music and 80s synth soul that it brings to mind The WhispersIt’s A Love Thing,” “And The Beat Goes On,” and “Rock Steady,” Evelyn “Champagne” King’s “Love Come Down” and Cherelle‘s “Saturday Love” as Pogson pairs a production featuring layers of shimmering and cascading synths, a sinuous bass line, tribal drumming, bursts of shimmering keys and a soaring hook with Thompson’s self-assured vocals. Simply put, it’s arguably one of the most DJ-leaning, club rocking tracks I’ve written about in several months; in fact, if I were DJ’ing, I’d make sure to fit this one into a set.

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Alt Rock All Star Side Project Filthy Friends Release Their Most Straightforward and Anthemic Song to Date

Comprised of Corin Tucker (vocals, guitar), who’s best known for being a member of Sleater-Kinney and Heavens to Betsy; Kurt Bloch (guitar), who’s best known as the frontman of The Fastbacks and a producer and mentor for several up-and-coming Seattle-based rock bands; Bill Rieflin (drums), who’s best known for being a member of the legendary King Crimson; Scott McCaughey (bass), a studio musician, who’s also known for being a member of Fresh Young Fellows; and last but certainly not least, Peter Buck (guitar), who was a founding member of R.E.M., Filthy Friends is both a side project and free-flowing collaboration between likeminded, long-time friends, who happen to be among some of the most accomplished and influential musicians of the past 30+ years. 

The band has released two attention-grabbing singles this year, “Desiperta,” their contribution to the anti-Trump protest compilation 30 Songs For 30 Days and a Record Store Day release featuring “Any Kind of Crowd” and a cover of Roxy Music’s “Editions of You.” Building upon the attention they’ve already received, the band will be releasing their full-length debut Invitation through Kill Rock Stars Records on August 25, 2017 — and while featuring their previously released tracks, the album overall finds the band working through a series of different moods and styles, genre exercises and experiments; however, “The Arrival,” Invitation’s first single may arguably be the most straightforward, glam rock and alt rock nodding single as the band pairs bristling and chugging power chords and a rousingly anthemic hook around Tucker’s imitable vocals in a song that swaggers with the cool, self-assured confidence of old pros, who make it seem far easier than it actually is — and who can essentially play anything at will.  

Now known as the Federal Republic of Somalia, Westerners view the country as being a lawless, dysfunctional and broken country, split and reeling for a brutal and bloody civil war, and while that has been true over the past 25-30 years, what most people have forgotten is that for roughly a millennia, the Eastern African nation was one of antiquity’s major trading posts with several power Somali empires dominating regional trade, including the Ajuran Empire, the Adal Sultanate, the Warsangali Sultanate, and the Geledi Sultanate. And as a major trading post, the cultures of the Arabian Peninsula, Persia, India, Southeast Asian and China, all of whom conducted trade with the Eastern African nation, managed to influence and slowly worked their way into Somalia’s rich and unique musical culture.

The British and Italian empires through a series of treaties with Somalia’s historical empires and sultanates during the late 19th century gained greater control of parts of the coast, establishing the colonies of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland while Mohammed Abdullah Hassan’s Dervish State fought and defeated the British four times before a crushing defat by the British in 1920. Italy acquired full control of the northeastern, central and southern parts of the country after defeating the Majerteen Sultanate and the Sultanate of Hobyo — and their occupation of the country lasted until 1941 when the British took over with a military administration. British Somaliland would remain a protectorate of the British while Italian Somaliland became a United Nations Trusteeship under Italian administration, the Trust Territory of Somaliland.

In the 1960s, independence movements across the continent helped redefine the map with Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland uniting in 1960 to form the Somali Republic under a civilian government. Sadly, democratic government didn’t last long; by 1969, the Supreme Revolutionary Council led by authoritarian Mohamed Siad Barre seized power and established the Somali Democratic Republic. Now, here’s where things musically for us begin — in 1988 on the eve of bloody, two decade civil war Siad Barre launched a series of punishing air strikes in Somalia’s northern section, now known as Somaliland in an attempt to squash a rumbling independence movements in the region. Unsurprisingly, one of the targets Siad Barre targeted was the regional radio station Radio Hargeisa, as a way to prevent the organization of further resistance. Knowing that an attack on their radio station and their hometown was imminent, a handful of radio operators, tastemakers and historians recognized that they needed to preserve more than 50 years of modern Somali music — and it meant finding a way to remove thousands upon thousands of cassette tapes, records and master reels and then dispersing them to neighboring countries like Djibouti and Ethiopia, sometimes burying the tapes deep under the ground to protect them from airstrikes, fire, and so on.

The Somali Civil War broke out in 1991 and Mohamed Siad Barre’s government collapsed and as a result a number of armed factions began fighting for influence and control, particularly towards the south. And because of the absence of a central government, Somalia began to be known as a failed state, wth residents returning to customary and religious law in most regions. There were a few autonomous regions towards the north, including Somaliland and Puntland. The early part of the millennium saw the creation of several fledging and sputtering federal administrations including the Transitional Federal Government in 2004, which reestablished national institutions as as the military and in 2006 with the assistance of Ethiopian troops, assumed control of the Eastern African nation’s southern conflict zones from the Islamic Courts Union, which eventually splintered into several radical groups such as Al-Shabaab. Al Shabaab in particular continued to battle the Transitional Federal Government and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for control of the region.

By 2012, insurgent groups had lost most of the territory they had seized and a political process providing benchmarks for the establishment of a permanent democracy was launched, and it included a provisional constitution, which reformed Somalia as a federation. The end result was the Federal Government of Somalia, the first permanent central government in over 20 years was formed and a period of reconstruction began in Mogadishu.

Remember those buried audio recordings I mentioned earlier? Well they were excavated and recalled from their foreign shelters very recently, Some of those recordings are now kept in the 10,000 cassette tape achieve of the Red Sea Foundation, the largest known collection of Somali music and cassettes in the world in Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa. Ostinato Records, best known for the preservation, digitalization, and distribution of obscure world music was able to digitized a significantly large portion of the Red Sea Foundation’s archives, choosing 15 songs as part of their latest compilation of African music Sweet as Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa. And while revealing the diversity of styles and sounds of Somali musicianship, the compilation also provides a glimpse of life in Mogadishu in the 1970s and 1980s, when the coastal capital was referred to as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean.” At the time bands like Iftiin, Sharero and Dur Dur played at some of East Africa’s glitziest nightclubs, while Waaberi Band played packed to the rafter sets at the national theater.  Nightlife, music, culture and art were enormous — and interestingly while there were renowned male vocalists like Mahmud “Jerry” Hussen, Somali music of the 70s and 80s were best known for beloved female vocalists Faadumo Qaasim, Hibo Nuura, Sahra Dawo and a collection of truly empowered, prolific women; in fact, half of the compilation features songs sung by and written by women.

Strangely enough, this cultural and musical golden age occurred under a socialist, military dictatorship, which effectively nationalized the country’s music industry. The state owned a thriving scene and essentially music was recorded for and by national radio stations, and it was on distributed and disseminated through public broadcasts or live performances. Privately owned labels were non-existent and the work of a generation of artists was never made available for mass release — and until recently, hadn’t been heard outside of Somalia and its immediate neighbors. Adding to a rather strange period of history, during the height of the Cold War, Somalia had been supported by the Soviets and then US in the Ethio-Somali War — and with a decade of US backing, American soul and funk captured the imagination of Somali youth and musicians.

The Ostinato Records team then spent the better part of year traveling to Mogadishu, Hargeisa, Djibouti and across the Somali Diaspora in parts of Europe, the US and the Middle East to track down the musicians, songwriters, composers, government officials, scenesters, radio personalities and other folks, who had played a role during the 1970s and 1980s and got their stories down in a 15,000 word liner note booklet.

As the folks at Obstinato Records explain in press notes ” Alongside the story of Somalia’s music before the civil war, the selection is also focused on the pan-Somali sound. Spread over much of the Horn of Africa, Somali language and culture transcend arbitrary borders. Somali singers from Djibouti were at home in Mogadishu.” They continue by saying that “this compilation  seeks to revive the rightful image, history, and identity of the Somali people, detached from war, violence, piracy, and the specter of a persistent threat.”

The compilation’s first single Danan Hargeysa’s “Uur Hooyo (Mother’s Womb)” feat. Mohamed “Huro” Abdihashi was recorded and released in 1987, and the breezy and summery track manages to nod at the trippy psychedelia of 70s dub and soul as a shuffling rhythm is paired with explosive and expressive horn blasts, synths that possess a cosmic sheen, and a strutting bass line. And if there’s one thing the song does evoke is a far simpler time of laughter, constantly flowing wine and beer, of dancing until the sun came up and walking home in a drunken and elated shuffle with arms draped over the shoulders of your comparisons softly singing the songs you heard in the nightclub throughout the night. The language, the scales and the melodies may be somewhat alien to many Westerners, but it’s the wistful tone — albeit in retrospect perhaps? — that should feel familiar. It’s the sound of youth before inevitably being altered permanently by life’s complexities, ambiguities and horrors.

 

 

 

Initially forming under the name Apteka, the Chicago, IL-based psych rock quartet Pink Frost, currently comprised of founding members Adam Lukas (vocals, guitar) and Paige Sandilin (guitar) and newest members Alex Shumard (bass) and Jesse Hozeny (drums), have released 2011’s debut Gargoyle Days  and 2014’s Sundowning to critical praise both locally and nationally from  Pitchfork, SPIN Magazine, Noisey, Magnet Magazine, and Chicago Reader for a sound that had been compared favorably to RIDE, Smashing Pumpkins, Dinosaur, Jr. and Deerhunter. And adding to a growing national profile, the band had material from Sundowning placed in the major motion picture, The Lookalike and TV series such as The Vampire Diaries and CSI: Miami.

If you had been frequenting this site over the past 2 years or so, you may recall that the Chicago-based band released a painstakingly remixed and re-mastered edition of their debut effort, from the original analog masters to better reflect their live sound at the time — and with artwork reflecting the band’s name change, as a both a metaphorical and literal rebirth. And at the time, I wrote about Gargoyle Days’ second single, the seemingly  The Posies’Ontario,” Foo Fighters‘ “This Is A Call” and The Black Angels’Telephone“-inspired “Where Days Go.” However, four years have passed since a full-length album of original material from the Chicago-based psych rockers and in that time, they’ve gone through a series of changes that have influenced the band’s songwriting approach, their overall sound and the material’s thematic concerns. Now, as I hinted at earlier, the band went through a massive lineup change — and as the band’s Adam Lukas explains in press notes, Gargoyle Days addresses a collective sense of abrupt changes. “There is a sentimentality or a sense of loss that permeates most of the songs,” Lukas says. “Whether it’s the loss of truth, the ones you love, your place in the universe, or general sense of meaning in changing landscapes.”

The recently released New Minds, reportedly finds the band’s material at points becoming much more introspective — and while the more straight ahead rock-leaning material manages to be heavier and darker, their more spacey, shoegazer-like material manages to be much more introspective and with more delicate melodies. “Bare Roots,” New Minds’ first single was a power chord-based barn-burner that sounds as though it draws from Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. And while continuing in a similar, power chord-based, arena rock vein,  the album’s latest single “Seek and Recover” manages to nod at 90s alt rock — in particular Foo Fighters, as the song manages to pair a polished studio sound, a radio-friendly accessibility and an arena rock swagger, completed with rousing hooks.

Adam Lytle is a rural Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumenlaist, and the mastermind behind the psych folk/psych rock recording project Quicksilver Daydream. And as Lytle explains the dramatic clash of locations helped contribute to the album and his identity as a musician. From the onset, I was forced to embrace the lack of isolation in the recordings,” Lytle says in press notes. “From bands playing next door while we recorded drums, to the renovations in the apartment next to mine, there always seemed to be somebody making noise at inopportune times. I had no choice but to proceed, placing mics in ways to minimize the excess noise. I kept reminding myself of Jeff Tweedy who said there’s a drill press on all of his records made at the Wilco Loft, because there is a working machine shop one floor above. In the end, it gives life to the recording. It lets you know they weren’t made in a void.”

The album’s latest single, album title track “Echoing Halls” was reportedly inspired by a personal and eye-opening experience Lytle had while spending a night in a New York City jail — and the song manages to describe the experience in harrowing terms; in fact, you can feel the desperation of the song’s narrator, who quickly recognizes that his own stupidity got him into a mess, he can’t get out of. Instead, he’s left with his own thoughts, the sounds of the corrections officers footfalls echoing throughout the halls while sonically the song pairs heavily reverb-fed guitar chords with fluttering 60s psych rock/bubblegum pop melodies.

 

 

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about Gabriel Garzón-Montano, a critically applauded Brooklyn-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has seen a rapidly growing national and international profile for a genre-defying take on contemporary soul and pop, as his work draws from Bach, cumbia, 70s funk and soul and the wildly, adventurous sort of multiculturalism familiar to native New Yorkers. And as Garzón-Montano has publicly mentioned, his mother, who was a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble in the 1990s may arguably be one of the biggest influences on his work and his creative process as her rigorous, classical instruction and her painstaking attention to detail, have greatly influenced him and his own creative endeavors.

Now, as you may recall, Garzón-Montano’s long-awaited full-length effort Jardín was released earlier this year and it comes on the heels of a three year period of rather intense touring, writing, revising and recording that interestingly enough began with his 2014 debut EP Bishouné: Alma del Hula, which caught the attention of Lenny Kravitz, who then invited the Brooklyn-born-and-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter to open for him during his European tour that year. Adding to the growing attention around him, Garzón-Montano’s “6 8” was sampled on Drake‘s If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, which led to tours with Glass Animals and with his renowned Stones Throw Records labelmate JOVM mainstay and personal favorite, Mayer Hawthorne.

Jardín was recorded with his mentor, analog recording guru Henry Hirsch at Waterfront Studios in Hudson, NY last year and during the recording sessions Garzón-Montano tracked drums, bass, guitar, piano and synths directly to 2-inch tape, and then added percussion, digital programming and several layers of his own vocals to create the album’s overall lush sound — a sound that reportedly nods at Stevie Wonder’Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. “I wanted to make music that would remind people how beautiful life is – how delicate their hearts are. A garden is full of life, and growth, and beauty. I named the album Jardín hoping for it to create a space for healing when people put it on. I’ve always wanted to make music that is healing, comforting, and funky,” Garzón-Montano explained in press notes. Naturally,  our current sociopolitical climate has influenced a great deal of the material on the album, as thematically it focuses on the struggles and uncertainties of living in America but it’s balanced our by its equal focus on the complications and joys of love.

Of course, I’ve written about a couple of singles off the album, including “Crawl,” a single which effortlessly meshed hip-hop, 90s neo-soul and contemporary pop with a slick production featuring ambient synths, twinkling keys, a wobbling bass line, tweeter and woofer rattling beats and a sharp, swaggering hook; and “My Balloon,” a single that continued on a similar vein while tinged with the aching regret of a confusing and uncertain relationship with someone who isn’t quite on the same emotional or mental space as you are. And although the song’s narrator seems to proudly suggest that he’ll be glad to move on his with life, there’s a sense that it’s nothing more than wounded pride, and underneath that, he’s aware of the fact that he’ll have to live with the lingering ghosts of what could have been and what should have been with this particular person.

“Sour Mango,” Jardin‘s latest single is slow-burning, swaggering and soulful track which features Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals over a jagged production featuring shuffling beats, twinkling keys, wobbling synths; but just underneath the surface, there’s a vulnerability and ache over a love that would be unlikely; love after all, doesn’t make much sense and it frequently hurts more time than anyone would care to admit.  Recently Seven Davis, Jr. remixed “Sour Mango” and while retaining some elements of the jagged production, there’s a greater emphasis on hot bursts of keys,  some reverb on Garzón-Montano’s vocals and a subtle atmospheric vibe. And while still being a swaggering yet slow-burning song, Seven Days, Jr.’s remix is a subtle yet noticeable take on the song that purposely retains the song’s nuanced emotion.