Category: reworkings/reimagining

Throughout the course of this site’s almost nine year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink on the ridiculously prolific New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. Now, as you may recall, the New York-based JOVM mainstay has received attention from this site and elsewhere for a slickly produced, funky, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, soul, hip-hop and New Wave. Interestingly, over the past year or so, Rhythm Scholar has enlisted a backing band featuring frequent collaborators Jason Spillman (bass) and Marcus Horndt (Rhodes) and Big Once (turntables), all of whom have helped the JOVM mainstay move towards an increasingly organic take on his work.

Rhythm Scholar’s latest remix finds him taking on Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams‘ smash hit collaboration “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” And while retaining Snoop’s imitable and effortlessly smooth flow, the JOVM’s mainstay’s kaleidoscopic remix recalls both Dr. Dre-inspired G Funk-era production and cinematic 70s soul, as the track feature samples from four classic blaxploitation films, 1973’s The Mack, 1973’s Magnum Force, 1975’s Rollerball and 1976’s Car Wash and is centered around twinkling Rhodes, a propulsive, disco-like bass line, fluttering electronics, congos and some much-needed, old school turntablism. Simply put, it’s a lysergic yet funky strutting take on a beloved banger.

 

 

 

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Throughout the past couple of years of this site’s almost nine-year history, I’ve written a quite a bit about Ron Gallo, a  Philadelphia-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist and JOVM mainstay, whose was a once the frontman of the Philadelphia-based indie act Toy Soldiers. As the story goes, at one point, Gallo was in a long-term, romantic relationship with a deeply troubled woman — and once that relationship ended, Gallo relocated to Nashville, where he embarked on a solo career, writing and recording material that eventually became his acclaimed 2016 full-length debut HEAVY META. 

Thematically, HEAVY META touched upon a number of themes within his own life, including his own personal ideology of abstaining from drugs and alcohol, self-empowerment, domestication, dead and unhappy love, not truly knowing yourself and the things that could happen to you when you don’t, mental illness from the perspective of both sufferer and close observer, and a burning, misanthropic frustration with humanity and civilization. And yet, there was some level of optimism — that music can wake someone up and get them to change what they were doing. As Gallo said in press notes at the time, “this record comes from my frustration with humanity and myself, and from my wanting to shake us all. At my core, I’m compassionate for humanity and the sickness that we all live with, and from that comes something more constructive.”

HEAVY META’s follow-up Really Nice Guys EP was released early last year, and the EP was largely inspired by the previous year in Gallo’s life in which he was busy touring and promoting his full-length debut — and as a result, the EP’s material wound up being a satirical sendup of the contemporary music industry with the EP featuring songs about rough mixes, broken into three parts — iPhone demo, live band demo and overproduced, autotuned, overproduced to death studio recording; the painfully weird inability for those within the music industry to honestly admit that someone is just an awful musician, so everyone winds up saying “well, they’re really nice guys . . . ,” the number of friends, who will ask to be put on the guestlist so that you can never actually make any money off a show, and more.

Gallo’s sophomore album Stardust Birthday Party was released last October, and the material was inspired by a life-altering, seismic shift in his life. Remember the woman who inspired much of the material on Gallo’s critically applauded debut? Well, as the story goes, she had taken a trip to South America, found a healer and miraculously got herself and her life together. Understandably, when Gallo heard the news, his interest was piqued, and he began reading and searching for a more inward path for his own mental and spiritual development.  Early last year, Gallo booked a trip to a silent meditation retreat in California. Despite his initial reservations and discomfort, the Philadelphia-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter reportedly experienced a profound experience that quickly became the answer for his existential searching — and in turn, the thematic core of the album: how inner transformation impacts both the outside world and your perception of it.

Or, as Ron Gallo says in a lengthy written statement about the album:

Stardust Birthday Party is about human evolution. Specifically, one human’s evolution: mine, Ron Gallo.  That’s the name my parents gave me. Hi.

At one point, I was a very lost mid-twenties person living in Philadelphia, in a relationship with someone struggling with mental health issues and crippling heroin addiction. I was asleep. I didn’t know how to handle my life. I was also writing songs for HEAVY META – my “frustrated with humanity” album. I laugh about it all now, but at the time it all felt like an absolute nightmare. It was the perfect doorway to look inside the place I’d been avoiding forever: myself.

Stardust Birthday Party is about what is happening underneath all of this life stuff. My path inward. The details of my path are pointless because everyone’s path is different. It is about me sitting with myself for the first time and confronting the big question “WHAT AM I, REALLY?” It’s about the love and compassion for all things that enters when you find out you are nothing and everything. I think at one point I wanted to change the world, but now I know I can only change myself, or rather just strip away everything that is not me to reveal the only thing that’s ever been there. And that’s what this album is about, it’s me dancing while destroying the person I thought I was, and hopefully forever.

In the liner notes of John Coltrane’s album A Love Supreme (which we pay tribute to on this album) he wrote: ‘During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music.’

That’s it.  That is the pure essence of creativity. Someone embodying what they have realized about themselves and the world that surrounds them. That is why this album exists. ”

Stardust Birthday Party’s first single “It’s All Gonna Be Okay,” was an angular ripper centered around two disparate things — the first a relishing of life’s ironies with a bemused yet accepting smile that points out that there’s a larger connection to everyone and everything; and that the only way we can actually change the world is if every individual on this planet began to take a serious and sobering look at their own fucked up shit and then do the complete opposite. Until then, we’re speeding our way down to hell with explosives and lit matches in the backseat.

Always Elsewhere,” Stardust Birthday Party‘s second single continued in a similar vein as its predecessor as it was an angular and furious ripper that evoked our age of perpetual and unending fear and anxiety that most of us running around like the White Rabbit, looking at our watches in panic and saying “There’s not enough time! There’s not enough time!” As Gallo says in press notes, “Most of the time we perceive the world, ourselves and others as ideas we have about them rather than what they really are. All our fear and anxiety stems from speculation about what COULD happen, not what is actually happening here and now. I’ve done this most of my life and still do, and the best way I’ve found is to become aware that you are not being aware or present, and suddenly you become present, that’s what this song is for — a frantic representation of modern life and our inability to live in the moment.”

Do You Love Your Company,” Stardust Birthday Party‘s third  single was a tense and anxious New Wave and post-punk take on garage rock, centered around angular blasts of guitar, a steady backbeat and an enormous, shout-worthy hook but underneath the rousingly anthemic nature of the song is something much deeper, more urgent — the very modern anxiousness and uncertainty that comes about whenever we’re left to ourselves. As Gallo says the song is “about self-inquiry. I think a lot of people struggle with being truly alone or fear silence because it forces them to look inward, but ultimately, i think it’s one of the most important things we can do to understand ourselves and others.”

Stardust Birthday Party‘s latest single “Love Supreme (Work Together)” is an angular, New Wave-like track that at points sounds indebted to Fear of Music and More Songs About Buildings and Food-era Talking Heads — but centered around a profound observation. As Gallo explains in press notes, “I wrote this song on GarageBand on my phone on an airplane. I was listening to A Love Supreme by John Coltrane, eating my really adorable but terrible tasting airplane meal of bowtie pasta (originally the first verse was about that) and looking down at the earth from the sky where you see no separation between people or things, there is just one thing. The chorus goes ‘God loves it when we work together.’ The God I am talking about is not a specific one, but everything, the one thing that is everything, the common thread in all existence, life, whatever you want to call it. In my head this is the soundtrack to a party in the streets where there is no line between shape, color, size, gender, sexuality, beliefs, anything, none of that shit exists.  Just anyone and everyone dancing kissing hugging laughing at the absurdity that we couldn’t always see that our core we are all the same. Nice!” As Gallo later says of the track,“‘Love Supreme’ is my attempt to write a genuinely positive song, maybe even a song people can dance to (ideally people that normally don’t dance together in large quantities in weird places and pay tribute to John Coltrane on top of that) I wrote this one on my phone on a plane.”

Recently, Claudius Mittendorfer remixed “Love Supreme (Work Together)” and interestingly his remix gives the song a dance floor friendly thump, reminiscent of The B52s.  “We incorporated some new sounds we never messed with before. I feel like I never could’ve written something like this even two years ago but sometimes it feels good to lay down the exhausting, intense, critical outlook and just celebrate life and people and what we all have in common right now, everywhere,” Gallo says. “Thank you to Claudius Mittendorfer (Parquet Courts, Johnny Marr, Weezer) who did this remix, he really brought the song to where it always wanted to go.”

Ron Gallo will be returning to the road this winter on a co-headlining tour with Post Animal. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:
January 30th – Iowa City, IA – Blue Moose Tap House
January 31st – Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon
February 1st – Minneapolis, MN -Fine Line
February 2nd – Kansas City, MO – Recordbar
February 5th – Denver, CO – The Globe
February 6th – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
February 8th – Vancouver, BC – Wise Hall
February 9th – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
February 10th – Portland, OR – Doug Fir
February 12th – Sacramento, CA – Harlow’s
February 13th – Santa Cruz, CA – Catalyst Atrium
February 14th – San Francisco, CA – Chapel
February 15th -Fresno, CA – Strummers
February 16th – Los Angeles, CA – Teragram Ballroom
February 17th – San Diego, CA – The Casbah
February 19th – Phoenix, AZ – Rebel Lounge
February 21st – Dallas, TX – Deep Ellum Art Co.
February 22nd – Austin, TX – Barracuda
February 23rd – San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger
February 25th – New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa
February 26th – Birmingham, AL – Saturn
February 27th – Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre
February 28th – Asheville, NC – The Mothlight
March 1st – Charlottesville, VA – The Southern
March 2nd – Columbus, OH – Skully’s

 

Earlier this year, I wrote about the up-and-coming Northern Ireland-born, Dublin, Ireland-based duo Saint Sister. And as you may recall, the act which is comprised of Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntrye can trace their origins to when they met while studying at the University of Dublin. They bonded over their mutual desire to create music that represented both their friendship and their “us against the world” mentality. Building upon a growing national and international profile, the duo’s Alex Ryan-produced full-length debut Shape of Silence was released earlier this year, and from album single “Steady,” the duo showcased their ability to craft an atmospheric Portishead-inspired sound centered around the duo’s gorgeous and ethereal yet heartfelt vocals.

Recently, two of Dublin’s up-and-coming underground artistrs Irish DJ and producer Kormac along with Dublin-based emcee Jafaris collaborated with the members of Saint Sister on a subtle remix/reworking of “Causing Trouble” that’s centered around the same shimmering and looped harp sample; however, while the original features big, thumping beats, the remix relies on hi-hat and shuffling beats, which puts a greater emphasis on Doherty and MacIntyre’s gorgeous vocals and Jafaris’ swaggering yet sensitive verses. And it’s done in a way in which all three vocalists sit side by side without interference — and in a way that feels natural and unhurried.  As a result, the remix finds the collaborators pushing Saint Sister’s sound more towards the direction of Tricky and Massive Attack. Interestingly, the collaboration can came about when Three Ireland invited each artist to create visually stunning music videos for one of their songs for their #MadebyMusic initiative.

“It’s good to get out of your own head and collaborate with other people, and it’s something we really enjoy doing. This one felt like it really clicked, each individual voice brought something so different,” the members of Saint Sister say in press notes. “When Kormac first sent through the remix it was like hearing it in a new context with a new lease of life. Hearing Jafaris’ verses for the first time was another brilliant moment. And playing it live is the best part. They bring so much energy to every performance, it’s always a joy to stand beside them on stage.”

“I love the idea of blending two really different artists tonality together to create something a bit different.  Producing this one was a lovely challenge as it was all about creating a space where Saint Sister’s gorgeous melodies and harmonies and Jafaris’ vocals, his delivery could sit side by side,” Kormac says of the remix in press note. “The initial idea just came from playing my piano to a glitchy loop created from one of Gemma’s harp lines. From there, it was all about bringing the sub bass to the fore and creating a couple of drops to really announce Jafaris’ vocals when they came in.”

New Video: Introducing the Atmospheric and Brooding Synth Pop of London’s Sailing Stones

Jenny Lindfors is an Irish-born, London-based singer/songwriter and indie electro pop artist, best known for her solo recording project Sailing Stones. And with the release of her debut EP She’s A Rose, the Irish-born, English-based singer/songwriter received national attention with airplay on Gideon Coe’s, Tom Robinson’s and Don Letts’ BBC Radio 6 shows and played a live session for BBC Music Introducing In The West. Lindfors is currently working on the final touches of her TJ Allen-produced full-length debut, which is slated for a 2019 release through her own label Keep Her Lit.

But in the meantime, Lindfors latest single “To Know Nothing At All (Telescopes)” is a re-imagined, re-worked and retitled take on an an earlier release, a vinyl B-side for the original “Telescopes” single. Interestingly, Dan Moore, best known for is work with Will Gregory Moog Ensemble and Modulus III came up with a version of the song, completely composed on analog synthesizers — and as a result, it gives the reworked song a brooding and atmospheric vibe that recalls JOVM mainstay ACES, and the cinematic 80s synth pop that clearly inspire it. 

As Lindfors says in press notes, the use of synthesizers was “a game changer in terms of how I wanted to record my songs. It hooked me into making more music that reminded me of the AOR bands/singer-songwriters of the late 80s when I was little.” Unsurprisingly, the recently released video for the single is centered around a grainy VHS-like footage of a late night drive to Bristol, complete with the sodium glow of streetlights, a constant flow of headlights and taillights of cars, further emphasizing the song’s brooding nature.

New Audio: Goldfrapp Team Up with Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan on a Reworked Version of “Ocean”

With the release of 2013’s Tales of Us, Goldfrapp, comprised of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, released one of their most hauntingly cinematic and gorgeous efforts they’ve ever released, as the album’s material found the duo pairing Goldfrapp’s arresting vocals with classical music-inspired arrangements centered around piano and strings, acoustic guitar and occasional electronic flourishes. However, last year’s critically applauded and commercially successful Silver Eye was a striking return to form — and as you may recall Anymore,” the album’s first single featured a slick yet abrasive sound featuring  enormous, thumping 808-like beats, layers of buzzing and undulating synths. Interestingly, “Anymore” much like the rest of the material on the album buzzed with a restless, creative energy and sense of experimentation that was partially the result of the acclaimed duo working with  Grammy-wining producer John Congleton, who has worked with St. Vincent, John Grant and Wild Beasts; as well as collaborations with electronic composer Bobby Krlic, best known as The Haxan Cloak and Leo Abrahams, a guitarist, who has collaborated with Brian Eno.

Album single “Ocean” continued in a similar vein as the song centered around an abrasive and minimalist-leaning production of arpeggiated synths, thunderous beats. As the duo explained to Billboard the song was created during a morning writing and recording session and was originally built from what Goldfrapp called a “a very small improvisation.” “I remember coming into the studio one morning and I think we just had a few drums going and it was really basic,” Goldfrapp recalled. “Will said ‘Do you fancy doing some vocals this morning?’ So I was like, ‘Alright then’ and slightly reluctantly, i went into the vocal both and the words just came out.” And as a result, the song manages to bristle with a furious sense of unpredictability. 

July 6, 2016 will mark the release of Silver Eye: Deluxe Edition and while the deluxe edition will include the original album material, there will be a bonus disc of remixes and alternate versions, including a re-recording of “Ocean” that features Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan, as well a previously unreleased Will Gregory remix of “Anymore.” Naturally, turning the original song into a duet with Gahan’s and Goldfrapp’s imitable vocals gives the song a harder, darker, moodier, goth edge while still managing to be a straightforward rendition of the song. But perhaps, more important, if you’re a fan of both, it’s the most necessary and effortless collaboration that you needed to hear. 

Dan Sultan is an acclaimed Fitzroy, Australia-born, Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who started playing guitar when he was four and wrote his first song when he turned 10. As the story goes, his mother’s friend gave the young Sultan an old electric guitar, and he began playing gigs at local pubs. In 2000, Sultan met a fellow singer/songwriter and guitarist Scott Wilson at a Williamstown, Australia pub and the duo began writing songs together. As Wilson recalled in an interview “What struck me at first was that he [Sultan] could play piano and guitar, and he was a great foil for what I was doing . . . After a while playing together, he said, ‘Can I Sing this one?’ I said, ‘Do you know the words?’ . . . [he had a] mighty voice. A lot people can play guitar . . . not many can sing like that.”

Sultan’s  Scott Wilson-produced, full-length solo debut, the genre-defying Homemade Biscuits was released in early 2006 and consisted of tracks written by Wilson or co-written by Sultan and Wilson, and a featured number of local musicians and collaborators, including Lazare Agneskis, Neil Gray, Elijah Maiyah, Lochile McKlean and Ben Wicks. Sultan’s debut also featured two attention grabbing tracks — “Your Love Is Like a Song,” which won a 2007 Deadly Award for Single Release of the Year, and “Rosyln,” a song Sultan wrote about his mother, who was a member of the Aboriginal “stolen generations,” which he performed during 2007’s National Day of Healing concert. Adding to a growing profile that year, Paul Kelly invited Sultan to record a cover of Kev Carmody’s “This Land Is Mine” for a compilation tribute album of Carmody’s work titled Cannot Buy My Soul — and with a backing band of Eugene Ball (trumpet), Ben Gillespie (trombone), Joshua Jones (bass), Peter Marin (drums), Ash Naylor (guitar) and Gina Woods (keys), Sultan and company played Australia’s festival circuit over the next two years or so, including set at the Sydney Festival and the Queensland Music Festival.

Sultan’s sophomore album 2009’s Get Out While You Can was a massive, commercial success as it charted on the ARIA Albums Chart Top 100, eventually reaching #1 on the independent Australian charts and was a Triple J featured album. Along with that, Sultan won ARIA Music Awards for Best Male Artist and Best Blues & Roots Album, and Australian Independent Records Awards for Best Independent Artist and Best Independent Blues & Roots Music Music.

In early 2014, Sultan opened for Bruce Springsteen‘s Melbourne and Hunter Valley shows during his Australian tour, which Sultan promptly followed up with the release of his third full-length album Blackbird, an album that reached #4 on the ARIA Albums Charts and spent 13 weeks in the Top 50 — and the album won a Best Rock Album Award at that year’s ARIA Awards. Building upon an impressive year, Sultan released the Dirty Ground EP, which reached the ARIA Albums Chart Top 100. Sultan’s fourth album, 2017’s Jan Skubiszewski-produced Killer was nominated for three ARIA Awards — Best Male Artist, Best Rock Album, and Best Independent Release.

Interestingly, Sultan’s soon-to-be released Killer Under a Blood Moon was recorded over the course of four days and while it continues Sultan’s commercially and critically successful collaboration Skubiszewski, the EP finds the duo collaborating with some of their country’s brightest and talented, up-and-coming artists, including  A.B. OriginalCamp CopeMeg Mac and Gang of Youths‘ Dave Le’aupepe to reinterpret a series of tracks from Sultan’s fourth album as a way to give his material new bodies, new ways of being while having a good time doing so. Now, as you may recall, last month I wrote about Sultan’s reworking of “Drover,” which featured Gang of Youth’s Dave Le’aupepe taking over vocal duties on a swaggering, arena rock-friendly blues centered around power chords, stomping beats, a looped choral sample and a muscular and anthemic hook reminiscent of The Black Keys.

The EP’s latest single is a reworking of Killer‘s album title track “Killer” that features Meg Mac — and while the original is a shuffling yet anthemic rock song with an infectious hook, the EP’s rework turns the song into a Fleetwood Mac/Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks-styled duet that retains the hook and melody but adds a sultriness to the song’s heartfelt vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Hansen is a San Francisco, CA-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and electronic music artist, best known for his critically applauded and commercially successful solo recording project Tycho, and with the release of  2006’s Past Is Prologue, 2011’s Dive, 2014’s Awake and 2016’s Epoch, Hansen has developed a reputation for crafting material centered around vintage, analog synthesizers, ambient melodies, organic instrumentation and the frequent use of samples of the human experience, including weather broadcasts, talking, breathing and the like.

“Horizon” off Hansen’s Grammy-nominated 2016 full-length Epoch is a funky yet moody and introspective track centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering guitars, a sinuous bass line and an atmospheric melody.

Interestingly enough Hansen recruited Poolside, a Los Angeles-based electronic music artist, production and DJ duo, comprised of Filip Nikolic and Jeff Paradise, best known for crafting breezy, pop-tinged disco to remix “Horizon.” And the result is a breezy and summery, cosmic disco track with handclaps, a looped chorus sample, tribal percussion that creates a club banging vibe while retaining the atmospheric melody of the original. As Poolside’s Jeffrey Paradise explains “”It’s tricky to approach a Tycho remix because there are no vocals. By definition a remix would typically strip away the textures and layers, which are the signatures of Tycho, and use the vocals. We kept the original melody as the fingerprints and added classic Poolside synths and percussion. This remix essentially became a Poolside B-side through the process.”

Hansen and his backing band will be touring through the summer and it’ll include stops at Lollapalooza, Outside Lands and SummerCamp Music Festival. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates:

15 MAY Sacramento, CA – B Street Theater

16 MAY Eugene, OR – McDonald Theater

17 MAY Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory

18 MAY Boise, ID – Knitting Factory

19 MAY Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot

21 MAY Morrison, CO – Red Rocks +

22 MAY Albuquerque, NM – Villa Hispana *

23 MAY Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren *

24 MAY San Diego, CA – Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theater *

27 MAY Chillicothe, IL – Summercamp Music Festival

02 AUG Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza

11 AUG San Francisco, CA – Outside Lands

 

* w/ Phantogram

+ w/ Phantogram & Poolside

 

Throughout most of the course of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based produced, DJ, remixer and longtime JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar, and as you may recall, he has received attention for slickly produced, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic hip-hop, soul, pop and New Wave. Earlier this year, I wrote about Rhythm Scholar’s remix/reworking of Bill Withers‘ beloved classic “Use Me Up” featuring a backing band,  which features Marcus Horndt contributing soulful blasts of Fender Rhodes, Jason Spillman contributing a 70s soul and disco-inspired bass line, Sami Turune, contributing some bluesy guitar paired with Withers warm vocals and rhythm guitar, and some insane scratching and production from Rhythm Scholar. And what I loved about that remix was that it was a lovingly anachronistic take that walked a difficult tightrope between the original’s 70s soulful roots and contemporary production.

The New York-based producer, DJ and remixer has continued to be remarkably prolific, and with his latest single, he takes on Chic‘s classic, smash hit “Good Times” with a breezy, funky house-leaning remix featuring layers of arpeggiated keys, twinkling Fender Rhodes, thumping beats and a muscular bass line while retaining the song’s infectious hook. Much like his “Use Me Up” remix, the “Good Times” remix updates the song in a way that breathes a different life into it, while retaining some of the most familiar and beloved elements of the original.

 

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Currently comprised of Gilbert Elorreaga, Mark Gonzales, Greg Gonzalez, Josh Levy, Sweet Lou, Beto Martinez, Adrian Quesada, John Speice and Alex Marrero, the Austin, TX-based act Brownout was formed ten years as a side project featuring members of the Grammy Award-winning Latin funk act Grupo Fantasma, but interestingly enough, the project has evolved into its own as a unique effort, separate from the members’ primary gigs. Over the past few years, the act has garnered critical praise — they won their third Austin Music Award last year, while composing and arranging work that’s unflinchingly progressive while evoking the influences of WAR, Cymande and Funkadelic. Unsurprisingly, the members of Brownout have been a highly-sought after backing band,  who have collaborated with GZA, Prince, Daniel Johnston and Bernie Worrell, and adding to a growing profile, they’ve made appearances across the major festival circuit, including Bonnaroo, High Sierra Music Festival, Pickathon, Bear Creek Musical Festival, Utopia Festival, Pachanga Fest, and others.

Throughout the course of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Austin-based act, and as you may know, the band has released five full-length albums: 2008’s Homenaje, 2009’s Aguilas and Cobras, 2012’s Oozy, 2015’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath and 2016’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath, Vol. II — with their last two albums Latin funk interpretations and re-imaginings of the legendary work of Black Sabbath. Of course, during their run together, Brownout has released a handful of EPs, including 2017’s critically applauded Over the Covers, their first batch of original material in some time.

As a child of the 80s, hip-hop was a nothing short of a revelation to me and countless others. Every day after school, I practically ran home to catch Yo! MTV Raps with Ed Lover and Dr. Dre and BET’s Rap City and during the weekends I’d catch Yo! MTV Raps with the legendary Fab 5 Freddy  — all to catch Run DMC, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Biz Markie, Das EFX, A Tribe Called Quest, X Clan and Public Enemy among an incredibly lengthy list. (Admittedly, I didn’t watch Rap City as much. Even as a kid, I hated their host and I found their overall production values to be incredible cheap. Plus, I really loathed how they almost always managed to either cut to a commercial or the end credits during the middle of a fucking song — and it was always during your favorite jam. Always.) 28 years ago, Public Enemy released their seminal album Fear of a Black Planet, and unsurprisingly, the album wound up profoundly influencing the future founding members of Grupo Fantasma/Brownout. The band’s Greg Gonzalez (bass) remembers how a kid back in junior high school hipped him to the fact that Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise” was built on James Brown samples. As a teenager, Beto Martinez (guitar) speaks fondly of alternating between hip-hop and metal tapes on his walkman (much like me). And Adrian Quesada remembers falling in love with Public Enemy and their sound at an early age. “When I got into hip-hop, I was looking for this aggressive outlet . . .,” Quesada says in press notes, “and I didn’t even understand what they were pissed off about, because I was twelve and lived in Laredo . . . but I loved it, and I felt angry along with them.”

So as true children of the 80s and 90s, the members of Brownout, with the influence and encouragement of Fat Beats‘ Records Joseph Abajian have tackled Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet — with their own unique take on the legendary material and sound. And although they were eager to get back to work on new, original material, they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pay homage to one of their favorite acts. As Abajian says in press notes “I thought their sound would work covering Public Enemy songs.” He adds “it was good to know they were P.E. fans . .  We came up with a track listing and they went to work.”

Understandably, translating sample-based music to a live band turned out to be more challenging than everyone anticipated. Quesada tried to get into the heads of the legendary production team the Bomb Squad in order to reinterpret Public Enemy’s work. “Imagine the Bomb Squad going back in time and getting the J.B.’s in the studio and setting up a couple analog synths and then playing those songs.” And while some songs closely hew to the original, other songs use the breakbeats as a jumping-off point for Mark “Speedy” Gonzales’ horn arrangements, synth work by Peter Stopchinski and DJ Trackstar‘s turntablism. “Our approach is never in the tribute sense,” Adrian Quesada explains. “We’ve always taken it and made it our own, whether it’s the Brown Sabbath thing or this Public Enemy thing.”

Fear of a Brown Planet comes on the heels of several Brown Sabbath tours, and while being an incredibly tight and funky band, the members of the band are incredibly psyched to bring revolutionary music to the people, especially in light of both the current   social climate and that they’re not particularly known for having an overt political agenda. “If there’s any way that we can use the already political and protest nature [of P.E.’s music], we would like to try,” Beto says. “The album’s title, Fear of Brown Planet is definitely a relevant idea today and we’re not afraid to put it out there, because we want to speak out.”

Fear of a Brown Planet‘s first single is Brownout’s take on “Fight the Power,” and while retaining the breakbeats that you’ll remember fondly, their instrumental take is a funky JB’s meets Booker T-like jam, centered around an incredible horn line, bursts of analog synth and sinuous guitar line. As a result, Brownout’s take is warmly familiar but without being a carbon copy; in fact, they manage to breathe a much different life into the song without erasing its revolutionary sound or its righteous fury. Check out how it compares to the original below.

New Video: Franz Ferdinand Releases Surreal and Mischievous Visuals for Re-worked Version of “Glimpse of Love”

Over the past few months, I’ve written quite a bit about the Glasgow, Scotland, UK-based indie rock/post punk act Franz Ferdinand, and as you may recall, the Scottish band, which is currently comprised of founding trio Alex Kapranos (lead vocals, guitar), Bob Hardy (bass) and Paul Thomson (drums, percussion and backing vocals), along with newest members Julian Corrie (keys, synths, guitar and backing band), who joined last year, replacing founding member Nick McCarthy and the recently added Dino Bardot (guitar) can trace their origins back to 2002. With the release of their first two singles “Darts of Pleasure” and “Take Me Out” the members of the Franz Ferdinand quickly saw commercial and critical success — with “Take Me Out,” becoming the band’s signature song, as it eventually peaked at #1 the UK Singles Chart, and earning a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal. Additionally, their eponymous, 2004 full-length debut received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album and won the Mercury Prize, helping the Scottish indie rockers to establish themselves at the forefront of the early 2000s post-punk revival movement.

Their 2005 Rich Costey-produced sophomore effort, You Could Have It So Much Better was released to critical and commercial success with the album peaking within the Top Ten Charts in multiple countries, and as a result, the album received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album with album single “Do You Want To” receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal. However, with 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, the members of the Scottish indie act moved away from the post-punk sound that first won them international attention to a much more dance floor oriented sound — all while continuing an impressive run of commercial and critical success. They promptly followed that up with a remix album of Tonight, titled Blood, which was released that summer.

2013 saw the release of Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action but they managed to follow that effort up by teaming up with Sparks to form indie supergroup FFS, which released their self-tilted album in 2015. Franz Ferdinand’s fifth, full-length album Always Ascending was released earlier this year and with album singles “Feel The Love Go,” and “Lazy Boy,” the band continued forward with the quirky, disco-like take on  the Gang of Four-inspired sound that first won them international attention but with a loose, adventurous vibe; in fact, the album’s latest single “Glimpse of Love,” finds the band subtly nodding at house music, thanks to the use of twinkling and arpeggiated keys — but within an expansive, groove-friendly song structure. Interestingly, the version of the song that accompanies the recently released video is a re-working of the album track, re-corded as live and mixed by Serban Ghenea, who has worked with the likes of Rihanna and Lorde.

Directed by Alice Kunisue, the hilarious and surreal visuals for “Glimpse of Love” was shot just outside of Paris and features the members of the band primping, brooding and flat out being ridiculous.