JOVM celebrates Meshell Ndegeocello’s 52nd birthday.
Over the past two decades, the Pittsburgh-born and based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Thomas Fec, best known as TOBACCO has used analog synthesizers and tape machines as as the frontman and creative mastermind of Black Moth Super Rainbow and as solo artist to create a boundary-pushing sound that evokes a woozy and uneasy intertwining of tension, anxiety, bemusement and pleasure.
2016 saw the release of TOBACCO’S fourth solo album, Sweatbox Dynasty — and since then the JOVM mainstay has been incredibly busy: TOBACCO and the members of his primary gig, Black Moth Super Rainbow reconvened to write and record 2018’s Panic Blooms, which was supported with tours with frequent tour mates The Stargazer Lilies and Nine Inch Nails. He went on to produce The Stargazers Lilies’ abrasive yet trippy Occabot and collaborated with Aesop Rock in Malibu Ken, a project that released a critically applauded album. Additionally, TOBACCO penned the theme song to HBO’s Silicon Valley.
TOBACCO’s first batch of new, solo material is the “Hungry Eyes”/”Can’t Count On Her” 7 inch, which was recently released through Ghostly International. Unless you’ve lived in a cave for the past 35 years or you’re 17, you know that the Franke Previte and John DeNicola co-written “Hungry Eyes” performed by Eric Carmen appears in an important scene of the 80s classic Dirty Dancing. The Pittsburgh-based JOVM mainstay has been covering “Hungry Eyes” in recent live sets — but before that, it appeared in a Pokemon porn parody.
Interestingly, TOBACCO’s take on the 80s pop hit retains the original’s beloved and familiar melody and structure intact but while fucking with its texture in his characteristically sludgy and woozy style, centered around blown out bass, scuzzy synth arpeggios, analog gurgle and hiss and Fec’s heavily vocoder’ed vocals. The end result is a cover that purposelessly smudges and obscures the original’s sentimentality in a way that’s uneasy and menacing. “I did ‘Hungry Eyes; because I just love it. It’s a perfect song,” Fec says in press notes. “I play it straightforward and stay mindful not to disrespect the original.”
JOVM pays tribute to Prince on what would have been his 62nd birthday.
Over the past few years, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the London-based JOVM mainstays Ten Fe. Founded by primary songwriters Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan, the band expanded into a full-fledged band with the permanent additions of longtime friends and touring members Rob Shipley (bass) and Johnny Drain (keys), who Duncan knows from their days in Walsall, and Alex Hammond (drums), who sat in with the band for the recording of their sophomore album Future Perfect, Present Tense.
Thematically, Future Perfect, Present Tense was a mediation on everything that has brought the members of the band to the writing and recording of their sophomore album — and everything that they’ve willingly (and in some cases perhaps, unwillingly) left behind to get there. Sonically, the album is a decided sonic departure from its predecessor with the material seemingly drawing from Fleetwood Mac and others, while retaining an uncanny ability to craft slick and rousingly anthemic hooks.
Recently, the JOVM mainstays have released a couple of covers — including their latest single, a cover of Mark Ronson’s and Miley Cyrus’ “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” that finds the band turning the country-tinged dance floor anthem into a spectral and pastoral, folk meditation that brings Nick Drake and Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra to mind. By stripping away the electronics, the British JOVM mainstays pull out the vulnerability, heartache and intimacy of the original out into the forefront while simultaneously revealing that the song is startlingly well-written.
“I’ve always thought the song was really beautiful, and heard the intimacy and vulnerability in it,” the band’s Leo Duncan says in press notes, “so we wanted to try and bring that out in our version, through the ghostly vocal arrangements and sparse instrumentation; we were trying to make it sound as if we recorded it in the middle of the desert. It’s such a good song, rearranging felt really natural.”
Directed, edited and produced by Niall Trask, the cinematically shot accompanying video for “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” is set in a set in an extremely English pastoral scene that manages to also hint at the American Wild West. “We wanted it it be evocative of the Wild West, as the music paints that picture; but also make it very English and pastoral – particularly, Cromwellian, when England seemed wild and lawless,” Leo Duncan explains in press notes. ‘. I did a rough storyboard, and Niall Trask was the perfect person to direct it as he’s really into that period of history, and we’ve often talked together about films set then such as Witchfinder General, A Field In England, etc. I really like the idea of delivering your heart to someone; I think everyone does this, symbolically, all the time – so it was wicked to try and show that literally in the video. I’m really happy how it came out!”
Born Megan Sullivan McInerney, the Sydney, Australia-born, Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter and keyboardist and pop artist Meg Mac can trace the origins of her music career to when she was a small girl — as the story goes, she began singing as soon as she could speak and began writing her own songs when she was a teenager.
McInerney began degree studies in Digital Media but quit that after relocating to Perth, where she studied music at the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts. After earning her degree, she recorded “Known Better” and submitted the song to Triple J’s Unearthed. Coincidentally, after she submitted her song, McInerney and a car load of friends left on a road trip from Perthto Melbourne, where she would later permanently relocate — and as they were approaching Melbourne, she learned that Triple J had selected her single and were going to play it.
As a result of being named an Unearthed Featured Artist of the Week in 2013 and Unearthed Artist of the Year in 2014, the Sydney, Australia-born, Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter and keyboardist emerged into her homeland’s national scene; in fact, “Roll Up Your Sleeves,” reached #80 on the ARIA Singles Chart in August 2014 with “Never Be” landing at #39 the following year — and she went on her first national headlining tour.
She also received nominations for Best Female Artist and Breakthrough Artists during the 2015 ARIA Music Awards. And adding to a growing national profile, Marie Claire Australia named her an Artist to Watch in 2015 and Rolling Stone Australia nominated McInerney for a Best New Talent Award. By 2016, “Never Be” landed at #11 on Triple J’s Hottest 100.
“Roll Up Your Sleeves” was featured in a number of American TV series including HBO’s Girls, Grace and Frankie and Astronaut Wives Clubs — and as a result, the MegMac EP became a platinum selling effort. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Mac’s 2017 full-length debut Low Blows entered the ARIA Charts at #2 and received praise internationally from the likes of InStyle, Buzzfeed, Noisey, V Magazine and the New York Times who called her music “rooted in soul with just enough contemporary production.”
Developing a reputation for live show centered around her soulful vocals, Mag has managed to consistently sell out national tours and shows across her native Australia, has opened for Clean Bandit and D’Angelo — and she’s played some of the major festivals’ across the international festival circuit includingGovernor’s Ball and SXSW.
Last October saw the release of the uplifting and powerful “Give Me My Name Back,” off her forthcoming and highly awaited sophomore album. As Mac told Billboard, the song “is a song for those who have suffered emotional and physical abuse; it’s for the women who are standing up and speaking out, those discriminated against in the LGBTQI community, the indigenous people of Australia and the children abused by the church. For everyone who has lost an important part of themselves and need to reclaim their identity, dignity and self-worth in order to move forward with their lives.”
Mac’s latest single is the slow-burning and atmospheric “I’m Not Coming Back.” Centered around intertwined harmonies, an anthemic drum beat, shimmering synths, a rousing hook and Mac’s effortlessly soulful and self-assured vocals, the song finds its fed up narrator letting someone go, who only seems to be around to use them. And as result, the song bristles with the satisfaction of saying “No, not anymore” to someone who desperately needs to hear it.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about London-based JOVM mainstays Ten Fe, and as you may recall, the act which, was founded by primary songwriters Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan officially expanded into a full-fledged band with the permanent additions of touring members and longtime friends Rob Shipley (bass) and Johnny Drain (keys), who are two of Duncan’s oldest friends from Walsall, and Alex Hammond (drums), who was with the band for the writing and recording of the band’s sophomore full-length album Future Perfect, Present Tense.
Written in an East London vacant driving license office, tracked in Oslo, Norway and finished with producer Luke Smith, Future Perfect, Present Tense thematically is a mediation on everything that has brought them all to the point of their sophomore album, and everything they’ve willingly (and perhaps unwillingly) left behind in actually getting there. Interestingly, the London-based act’s sophomore album is a decided sonic departure from its predecessor, as the material draws from 70s AM rock — in particular, Fleetwood Mac and others, while retaining an uncanny ability to craft slick and rousingly anthemic hooks.
Now, as you may recall the members of the London-based JOVM mainstays are currently finishing up their second headlining North American tour with shows across the West Coast before returning back to Europe for a month long tour across the UK and the European Union. (You can check out the remaining tour dates below.) As the band’s North American tour comes to a close, they released a mostly a cappella cover of TLC‘s smash hit “Waterfalls” that reveals a gorgeous multi-part harmony that ends with a towering instrumental crescendo.
09-Apr, Los Angeles, CA, Troubadour
11-Apr, San Fran, CA,The Independent
13-Apr, Portland, OR, Doug Fir Lounge
14-Apr, Vancouver, Biltmore Cabaret
15-Apr, Seattle, WA, Barboza
24-Apr, Manchester, UK, Yes (Pink Room)
25-Apr, Edinburgh, UK, Sneaky Pete’s
26-Apr, Newcastle, UK, Think Tank?
27-Apr, Leeds, UK, Headrow House
29-Apr, Nottingham, UK, Rough Trade
30-Apr, Bristol, UK, The Louisiana
01-May, Brighton, UK, The Hope & Ruin
04-May, Paris, FR, Pont FMR
05-May, Antwerp, BE, Trix
07-May, Zurich, CH, Papiersaal
09-May, Vienna, AT, B72
10-May, Prague, CZ, Café vs Lese
11-May, Berlin, DE, Musik & Frieden
13-May, Hamburg, DE, Molotow
14-May, Cologne, DE, Studio 672
16-May, Nijmegen, NL, Merleyn
17-May, Rotterdam, NL, Rotown
18-May, Utrecht, NL, EKKO
19-May, Amsterdam, NL, Bitterzoet
Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the up-and-coming London-based singer/songwriter Yola, and as you may recall she’s led a rather remarkable life — the sort that should eventually be made into an inspiring biopic: She grew up extremely poor and as a child was actually banned from making music. As an adult, she has overcome homelessness, being an abusive relationship, stress-induced voice loss and literally being engulfed in flames in a house fire, and all of those things inspired her Dan Auerbach-proudced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, slated for a February 22, 2019 release through Easy Eye Sound.
So far, the up-and-coming British singer/songwriter has received praise from a number of major media outlets both nationally and internationally including NPR, Rolling Stone, Wall Street Journal, The Tennessean, Refinery 29, Billboard, American Songwriter, BrooklynVegan, Nashville Scene, Paste and Stereogum. But perhaps much more interesting for you reader, listener and viewer, Yola has had a lengthy career as a backing vocalist, songwriter and guest vocalist on a number of pop hits — and she has opened for James Brown and briefly was a member of the renowned trip hop act Massive Attack before traveling to Nashville to work with Auerbach and a backing band that features musicians, who have worked with Elvis and Aretha Franklin.
Walk Through Fire’s first single “Ride Out in the Country” was a Muscle Shoals-like take on honky tonk country that to my ears recalled Sandra Rhodes’ under-appreciated Where’s Your Love Been. Centered around twangy guitar chords, lap steel guitar, some Rhodes electric organ, a soaring hook and Yola’s easy-going and soulful vocals, the song is an achingly sad breakup song, written from the perspective of someone reeling from a devastating breakup, complete with the recognition that your former lover has moved on and that maybe you should be doing so too — even if it’s profoundly difficult for you. “Faraway Look,Faraway Look,” the album’s second single was a slow-burning and swooning, Phil Spector Wall of Sound, meets classic Motown Records track that was centered around a soulful, old school arrangement and a soaring hook while being roomy enough for Yola’s incredible vocal range to shine in a well-written and well-crafted song.
Walk Through Fire’s third and latest single “Love All Night (Work All Day)” is a slick and soulful amalgamation of Motown and Muscle Shoals soul, with a dash of Nashville country and 70s AM rock and it’s a perfect vehicle for Yola’s warm and effortlessly soulful vocals. Much like the preceding singles, “Love All Night (Work All Day)” comes from hard-fought and hard-earned experience, which gives the material a wisdom and honesty that can be so rare in contemporary pop songs. In this case, the song’s narrator details a life of working multiple jobs to scrape by, having big dreams and at some point taking an enormous risk to achieve them. And what makes the song remarkable, beyond its well-crafted and well-written nature, is the fact that the song is a celebration of the little person, who’s out there busting their ass to get by, trying to maintain their dignity and sanity in the rat race. Keep on dreaming and keep on hustling.
Directed by Dan Teef, the recently released video for “Love All Night (Work All Day)” was shot in a South London bar and is centered around a beautiful young, working couple with big dreams. “My new video for ‘Love All Night (Work All Day)’ was shot in a stunning pub in Peckham, South London,” Yola says of the video for her latest single. “I’ve lived all over London (including on the streets in East London at one time) but before that I lived in a shared house in South London and I think the area will always feel like my London home. The song celebrates a way of life. It’s a life I used to live, growing up in Bristol and working multiple jobs to get by as I started out in music. I love listening to music from people who’ve not just been on a conveyor belt to the big time and I think it is important to hear more music from the working class again. People who, at some point, had no choice but to work all day long and maybe take a risk in pursuit of what they love.”
With the release of “Sleep,” and “Strangers,” the Gothenburg, Sweden-based singer/songwriter Sarah Klang began receiving praise across the blogosphere for crafting heartbreakingly sad material that some critics compared favorably to the likes of Roy Orbison and Jeff Buckley, and others — although interestingly enough, Klang has publicly cited Barbra Streisand and ambient electronica as major influences on her work. Building upon a growing national and international profile, Klang released her critically applauded full-length debut Love In The Milky Way last year, which she supported with a tours across the US, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Adding to a breakthrough year, Klang played a sold-out hometown show at the Gothenburg Concert Hall and three sold-out nights at Stockholm’s Södra Teatern — and she nominated for a Swedish Grammy for Alternative Pop Album and P3 Guld Award for Best Live Act.
Slated for a Fall 2019 release, Klang’s forthcoming (and still untitled) sophomore, Kevin Andersson-produced full-length album was written and recorded during an extremely busy year — and the first single from those recording sessions is the slow-burning and heartbreaking single “Call Me.” Centered around an arrangement featuring twinkling piano, a shimmering string section, a soaring hook and Klang’s aching vocals, the song manages to recall both 70s AM rock and Dolly Parton ballads simultaneously, the song as Klang explains in press notes “is about the love that only happens once. It might not last for long, but you’ll remember it forever. ” And as a result, the song’s narrator expresses a swooning despair and bitter acceptance over the loss of her love, mixed with a bit of hope that she’ll know that feeling once again.