Over the past couple of months, I’ve written quite a bit about the Austin, TX-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Kris Kelly. Kelly relocated to the New York metropolitan area, when he attended my alma mater, […]
Live footage of Steve’n’Seagulls performing “Thunderstruck” at The Knitting Factory on 9/18/19.
I’ve written a bit about the acclaimed Los Angeles-based psych rock act and JOVM mainstays Allah-Las throughout the course of this site’s nine-plus-year history, and as you may recall, the Southern Californian band — Matthew Correia (drums), Spencer Dunham (bass), Miles Michaud (vocals, guitar) and Pedrum Siadatian (guitar) — formed back in 2008, and can trace their origins tow hen three of the band’s four members worked at famed, Los Angeles-based record store Amoeba Music. Since then, the band has released three full-length albums that have firmly established their sound, a sound that draws heavily from 60s psych rock, surfer rock and garage work — while thematically, their work is largely inspired by their hometown.
The acclaimed psych rock band’s fourth album LAHS is slated for an October 11, 2019 release through Mexican Summer Records, and the album, which derives its name from a common misspelling of the band’s name reportedly finds the band crafting material that reveals their growth as songwriters, performers, arrangers and producers. Much of the album’s material focuses on Krautrock-like grooves — with album single “In The Air,” a shimmering and hook-driven track evoking a hazy and lingering lysergic fugue. “Polar Onion,” the album’s second track was centered around shimmering, acoustic guitar, gently padded drumming — and while evoking an aching longing, the song sounded as though it could have been released between 1966-1969. Interestingly, LAHS third and latest single “Prazer Em Te Conhecer” is the first single in the band’s growing catalog that’s written and sung exclusively in Portuguese. Much like its immediate predecessor, the track is centered around shimmering guitars — both acoustic and electric — plaintive vocals and harmonizing and a soaring hook. And while bearing an uncanny resemblance to Wish You Were Here-era Pink Floyd, the song manages to evoke an aching nostalgia that feels appropriate with yet another summer coming to a close.
The recently released video by Matt Correia features Super 8 mm footage at California’s shore — young people hamming it up at the beach, as well as the members of the band flying around the coast in a small airplane. All if it is shot in declining sunlight, which helps emphasizes the wistful nostalgia at the heart of the song.
Formed back in 2005, the New York-based rock/punk act Baby Shakes, comprised of Mary (lead vocals), Judy (guitar, vocals), Claudia (bass, vocals) and Ryan (drums) have released a handful of one-off singles, a singles compilation, a 10 inch heart-shaped vinyl EP and three full-length albums that have firmly established their sound –a sound that generally draws from Ramones, Chuck Berry, 60s Motown-era girl groups with melodic vocals, fuzzy and distorted power chords and enormous hooks within breakneck songs. And building upon a growing profile, the members of the band have toured across the US, Japan, China, Ireland, the UK and the European Union and shared stages with The Romantics, The Boys, The Shadows of Knight, The Undertones, The Barracudas, Protex, Black Lips, Paul Collins’ Beat, Iggy Pop and a growing list of others.
Baby Shakes’ fourth album Cause a Scene is slated for a Friday release, and as you may recall, the album is reportedly inspired by and indebted to the original wave of punk— in particular, The Nerves, The Kids, early Bangles and The Go-Gos, The Runaways, as well as the Ramones. Cause a Scene’s first single “Nowhere Fast,” was a breakneck bit of fuzzy, old school punk paired with an infectious, power pop hook, making the song a sort of seamless synthesis of Ramones and The Go-Gos. “Love Song In Reverse” continued in a similar vein — fuzzy and distorted power chords and enormous, infectious hooks. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, album title track “Cause a Scene” is a straightforward, old-school garage rock track that sounds indebted to Sweet’s
“The Ballroom Blitz” and T. Rex, as the track is centered around 12 bar blues-like guitar riffs, enormous hooks — and a pop-leaning infectiousness just underneath the grit and sleaze. (After all, the song is about two of rock’s greatest, undying tropes — how awesome being in a band is and shaking your ass to a great song.)
Co-directed by Scott Mason and Claudia de Latour, the recently released video for “Cause a Scene” is an old-school-styled campy romp around New York that follows the members of the band as Godzilla-sized characters bringing rock ‘n’ roll grooves to any and all comers. as well as some mayhem, too.
I’ve written a bit about Bristol, UK-based singer/songwriter and soul artist Hannah Williams over the past couple of years, and as you may recall Williams can trace some of the origins of her musical career to growing up in a extremely musical household — her father was a musician and minister. Williams learned how to read music before she could actually read words, and as the story goes, when she was a young girl, her mother introduced her to Motown and Bill Withers, which transformed her life. Along with that, Williams’ mother encouraged her to join the church choir when she recognized that her daughter had talent.
With the release of “Work It Out,” off 2012’s full-length debut Hill of Feathers, Williams and her first backing band The Tastemakers, quickly emerged into national and international soul circles with the track receiving attention across the blogosphere and airplay on radio stations across the States, Australia and the European Union. Interestingly, at one point “Work It Out” was one of the most downloaded songs in Greece and the video has amassed over 1.5 million streams on YouTube. Building upon a growing profile, Williams played sets across the European festival circuit, including stops at Shambala Festival, Valley Fest, Wilderness Festival, Cambridge Jazz Festival and Larmer Tree Festival, as well as some of Europe’s most renowned clubs, including Hamburg, Germany‘s Mojo; Manchester, UK’s Band on the Wall; Camden, UK‘s Jazz Cafe and others with the likes of JOVM mainstays Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings and Charles Bradley, as well as Cat Power.
Williams’ 2016 Michael Cotto-produced sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak was the first recorded output with her backing band, the Bristol-based soul outfit, The Affirmations, which is currently comprised of James Graham (organ, piano and Wurlitzer), Adam Holgate (guitar), Adam Newton (bass), Jai Widdowson-Jones (drums), Nicholas Malcolm (trumper), Liam Treasure (trombone), Victoria Klewin (baritone saxophone) and Hannah Nicholson (backing vocals). And the album which featured the Dusty Springfield-like torch song “Tame in the Water” and the psychedelic soul-tinged edition of “Dazed and Confused” was one of my favorite albums that year.
The following year, Hannah Williams and The Affirmations received greater international attention after smash hit-making producer NO I.D. sampled the heart aching hook of “Late Nights and Heartbreak” for Jay-Z‘s “4:44.” “It was an incredible catalyst,” Williams says in press notes, “as a change in our collective career, and getting a global audience. Suddenly, there were millions of predominantly American hip-hop fans listening to my voice, going ‘Is this from the ’60s? Is she dead?’” Unsurprisingly, as a result of the attention they received from “4:44,” the rising soul act spent the better part of 2018 on the most extensive touring schedule of their collective careers, including stops at SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, Brooklyn Bowl, the Toronto Jazz Festival and across the European Union, where they expanded their fanbase.
With growing attention on them, the members of the rising soul act were determined to make the record of their lives. And in order to do so, they recruited Shawn Lee, an acclaimed funk/soul artist and producer to work on Williams’ third album 50 Foot Woman. Slated for an October 18, 2019 release through Record Kicks Records, the album reportedly finds the members of the band accurately capturing the visceral power of their live show on wax — all while further establishing a sound that equally draws from classic soul, psych soul and funk, with a subtly modern take.
“50 Foot Woman,” the album’s title track and first single is a strutting and explosive stomp stomp that sonically is one part Ike and Tina Turner classic soul and one part fed-up tell-off to haters, naysayers and others, in which its narrator has finally had enough with the bullshit, and one part Daptone Records-like soul. But unlike their previously released material, the song has a loose, jam-like vibe, centered around Williams’ crooning and shouting with a take-no-prisoners, take-no-shit attitude.
Directed and filmed by Nick Donnelly, the recently released video is set in a decidedly English pub, where we see Williams and her bandmates hanging out and chatting over a few pints. Nearby an older lady is dancing her ass off and having herself a good time, much to Williams delight. Interestingly, the video makes a point of reminding the viewer that “50 Foot Woman” is a contemporary, feminist anthem.
Last year, I wrote about the up-and-coming Hull, UK-based indie rock act bdrmm. And as you may recall, the act which initially started as the bedroom recording project of singer/songwriter and guitarist Ryan Smith during the end of 2016 quickly became a full-fledged band when Smith recruited his brother Jordan (bass), Joe Vickers (guitar), Daniel Hull (synth, backing vocals) and Luke Irvin (drums) to complete the band’s lineup.
The band went on to cut their teeth playing shows across Northern England before releasing their first two singles “kare” and “the way i want,” which quickly caught the attention of MTV, Clash Magazine and DORK, as well as airplay from BBC Radio 1 and Amazing Radio. The Hull-based quintet has opened for Trudy & The Romance, Her’s, FEHM and Horsey — and as a result, they caught the attention of London-based indie label Permanent Creeps, who released the 4AD Records-like “C.U.” Since then, they’ve opened for JOVM mainstays pizzagirl and Amber Arcades, as well Gengahr. Additionally, they’ve played sets at a number of British festivals including Gold Sounds, Humber Street Sesh, and Live at Leeds, which have added to a rapidly growing national profile.
Their highly-anticipated Alex Greaves-produced debut EP If Not When? is slated for an October 11, 2019 release through Sonic Cathedral Records — and the EP, which has seen physical pre-orders quickly sell out is largely influenced by the likes of DIIV, Slowdive and Beach House, as well as an up-and-coming crop of British post-punk acts including Squid, YOWL, Black Country and New Road. Interestingly, the EP’s first single “Shame” find the band retaining the shimmering post-punk tinged shoegazer sound of their previous releases — but with a forceful and propulsive groove and an ambitious arena rock-like feel, reminiscent of The Cure and others.
“‘Shame’ is about the heartache of having to tell someone you can about the most that being together can’t work for whatever reason — having to be the person, who takes it upon themselves to do the right thing, even though it feels so wrong,” the band’s Ryan Smith explains in press notes.
The recently released video by Jordan Smith is a dizzying visual that’s one part lyric video with some psychedelic imagery.
Formed in 2016, the Brooklyn-based indie act No Swoon, currently comprised of Tasha Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt (synths) have received attention locally and elsewhere for a sound that features elements of dream pop, shoegaze, post-punk and ethereal wave. And much like BLACKSTONE RNGRS, Lightfoils and others, the Brooklyn-based act have added their name to a growing list of acts that have actively pushed the sonic and aesthetic boundaries of shoegaze and dream pop.
Last year’s critically applauded EP 1 was written in Los Angeles during a self-imposed exile from the East Coast. For Abbott, a native of Ontario, CA, the idea was to get back to her geographic and musical roots with a great deal of time spent driving around the suburbs listening to the goth and new wave that her mom played in the car when Abbott was a little girl (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, New Order) and the indie rock and punk rock of her teenage years (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes).
Slated for a November 1, 2019 release through Substitute Scene Records, the duo’s forthcoming, Jorge Elbrecht-produced, self-titled debut is reportedly an ambiguous and urgent affair that thematically touches upon the confusion, frustration and uncertainty of our zeitgeist. And as a result, the material is at times searingly critical, frustrated and despondent over everything from misogyny to global power imbalance and inequality with each of the song’s narrators seeking answers to questions that may never be resolved. Interestingly, the album also finds the duo collaborating with Robi Gonzalez, best known for his work with A Place to Bury Strangers and This Will Destroy You, contributing drums.
“Don’t Wake Up, Wake Up,” the self-titled album’s first single and opening track is a Joy Division-like take on shoegaze as its centered around layers of fuzzy and distorted power chords, a motorik-like chugging groove, an enormous arena rock-like hook. But at its core, Abbott expresses confusion, unease and frustration — and it feels uncomfortably familiar as it asks larger questions: has the world gone crazier or is it me? Is this real or is this some horrifying and unending nightmare?
Directed by Eleanor Petry, the recently released video for “Don’t Wake Up, Wake Up” follows two people (No Swoon’s Abbott and Nestel-Patt) wandering around the city — primarily, the gorgeous Municipal Building on Centre Street and the Hudson Yards 7 train station, seeking something and finding themselves lost, slipping between dreams and reality. “This song started from a dream of mine. Usually my dreams are very darkly lit or at night with muted colors, except there is always one or two objects that are highly saturated in a brighter color,” the band’s Tasha Abbott says of the song and its video treatment.
Naples, Italy-based indie act Solitude in Apathy — Santina Vasaturo (vocals, bass), Gennaro Cristiano (guitar) and Diego Niola (drums) — formed back in 2016, and since their formation the Italian act has quickly forged a reputation for crafting a sound that meshes elements of shoegaze, dark wave, alt rock and goth. They’ve also opened for internationally acclaimed, Italian shoegazers Stella Diana and Rome in Monochrome.
Building upon a growing profile in their native Italy and elsewhere, the trio’s Giacomo Salzano-produced, self-titled EP is slated for release this Friday — and the EP’s lead single, the “The Other” will help further cement the up-and-coming Italian trio’s sound: towering layers of fuzzy and distorted guitars, propulsive bass lines, forceful and dramatic and forceful drumming and ethereal vocals drenched in reverb floating over the dreamy mix. In some way, the single strikes me as being like a seamless synthesis of Sixousie and the Banshees and 4AD Records heyday — and unsurprisingly, the song received praise from outlets across the European Union and States, as well as airplay on DKFM.
Directed by Gaetano Massa, the recently released and incredibly cinematic video for “The Other” is a surrealistic fever dream featuring blindfolded characters walking through an abandoned and dilapidated house, full of rotting books, broken brick and chipped paint. We also see the band performing in another room while all of this is going on.
Laura Second is a fairly mysterious multi-national indie rock act based in Iceland. Their forthcoming full-length debut Ending Friendships is slated for a November release through Icelandic indie label Why not? Plötuútgáfa! Records. The album was recorded last winter in a cabin in the Icelandic countryside — and interestingly enough, the album’s first single “Crop Circles” is a decidedly 120 Minutes-era MTV-inspired track: alternating slow-burning and dreamy verses and explosive, power chord-driven choruses. And while seemingly bearing a resemblance to the likes of The Breeders, The Posies, Pixies and others, the song possesses a drunken and uneasy lurch.
The recently released video features two Icelandic children attentively watching a surrealistic TV show on a videocassette player. It’s appropriately bizarre — and much like its accompanying single manages to emphasize the oddness of the song.
Throughout the course of this site’s nine-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the San Francisco-born, Los Angeles-based sibling duo Cones. And as you may recall, the duo which is comprised of Jonatan Rosen, an acclaimed, pop music influenced, hand-drawn animator, who has created music videos for the likes Toro y Moi, Eleanor Friedberger and Delicate Steve, and played Johnny Thunders on the HBO series Vinyl; and Micheal Rosen, a classically trained pianist, commercial and film composer and experimental sound artist, can trace the origins of their band back to their stint playing together as members of New York-based indie act Icewater, an act that eventually became the session and touring band for Eleanor Friedberger’s New View. As the story goes, while touring with Friedberger, the Rosens began to conceptualize what their new project would sound like, ultimately deciding that their project would fuse Jonathan’s pop sensibilities with Michael’s lush, atmospheric soundscapes and keyboard-based instrumentation.
After releasing a string of critically applauded singles and the release of their debut EP, the duo went to a friend’s studio to collaborate with a producer for the first time. They recorded what they thought would be their full-length debut but ultimately, the duo decided to scrap that early effort, as it didn’t feel like a proper Cones album to them. So they went back to their home studio and started their full-length album from scratch. The end result is their highly-anticipated full-length debut Pictures of Pictures, which is slated for release next week through Dangerbird Records.
“Moonstone,” Picture of Pictures’ latest single will further cement the duo’s reputation for carefully crafted and breezy psych pop that somehow manages to owe a debt to 70s AM rock. Centered around a hazy nostalgia and a soaring hook, their latest single — to my ears at least — seems like a seamless synthesis of Steely Dan and MGMT, but at its core the song is a swooning and delicate love song.
Featuring line animation from the band’s Jonathan Rosen, the recently released video is a trippy and microscopic journey to and from the moon, while evoking the song’s aching longing.