Category: Single Review

With the release of their critically acclaimed full-length debut La Allianza Profana and its follow-up, Serpiente Dorada, the Lima, Peru-based electronic production and artist duo Dengue Dengue Dengue, comprised of Rafael Pereira and Felipe Salmon quickly received attention for a sound that possesses elements of traditional cumbia, dub, dancehall and techno — and for being at the forefront of an expanding electronic cumbia movement.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of its eight year history, you may have come across a couple of posts featuring the Peruvian electronic production and music duo  — in particular Siete Raices‘ album singles, “Guarida,” a hauntingly ambient track that meshed ancient and traditional Peruvian sounds with contemporary, electronic production in a timeless fashion, and “The Enemy,” a glitchy and percussive track that nodded at El Dusty‘s club-banging, nu-cumbia but with a subtly menacing and uneasy vibe.

The Lima, Peru-based duo’s latest album Son de Los Diablos (which translates into English as Sound of the Devils) derives its name from a traditional dance that was brought to Peru by the Spanish conquistadors, which consists of a procession of dancers and musicians taking to the streets wearing devil masks. By enlisting Lima’s sizable African slave population, this procession increasingly incorporated the rhythms and dance styles that would eventually become known as Afro Peruvian — one of the main elements of modern Peruvian music and culture, which also informs Dengue Dengue Dengue’s sound. Interestingly, Son de Los Diablos‘ latest single “Cobre” features breezy and minimalist production consisting of looped woodwind instruments and stuttering African percussion. While the song  evokes a slow procession of marchers stomping to a throbbing beat, it possesses a murky and menacing undercurrent.

 

 

New Audio: Hot Snakes Release an Anthemic Piss and Vinegar-Fueled Single off First Full-Length Album in 14 Years

Led by its then-San Diego, CA-based founding duo of Swami John Reis and Rick Froberg, Hot Snakes formed in 1999 as a side project, when Reis’ primary band Rocket from the Crypt went on hiatus after being in between labels and the departure of long-time drummer Atom Willard. While searching for a new label and drummer, Reis started his own label Swami Records and began experimenting with other musicians, which resulted in the formation of Hot Snakes and Sultans. Interestingly, Hot Snakes can trace their origins to when Reis recorded a batch of material with Delta 72’s Jason Kourkounis, and then contacted his former bandmate and collaborator Froberg to contribute vocals, and as it turns out most of those recording sessions eventually comprised their full-length debut Automatic Midnight.

Although Reis and Froberg collaborated together in Pitchfork and Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes proved to be a logistical challenge as Reis was in San Diego, Froberg had relocated in New York to start a career as a visual artist and illustrator, and Kourkounis was based in Philadelphia. Naturally, this resulted in sporadic and intense recording and touring schedules that frequently included bassist Gar Wood, best known for his work in Beehive and the Barracudas, Tanner and Fishwife. While Hot Snakes shares some musical similarities to Reis’ and Froberg’s previous projects, they developed a reputation for a much more primal, garage punk sound influenced by Wipers, Suicide, and Michael Yonkers Band — and for a completely DIY approach to recording, touring and merchandise with the band releasing material through Reis’ Swami Records. In fact, Hot Snakes’ debut Automatic Midnight was the first release through Reis’ label. 

After releasing two more full-length albums, 2002’s Suicide Invoice and 2004’s Audit in Progress, the band called it a day in 2005 but they reunited for a world tour in 2011 which reportedly set the stage for the band’s fourth, full-length album Jericho Sirens, the band’s first album in 14 years, which is slated for a March 16, 2018 release through Sub Pop Records. Recored in short bursts over the past year in San Diego and Philadelphia, the album features Reis and Froberg collaborating with Wood and drummers Kourkounis and Mario Rubalcaba — both of whom have been on prior Hot Snakes albums but never on the same one until now. And as Reis explained in press notes for the album, one of the most rewarding aspects was reacting his collaboration and creative partnership with Froberg. “Our perspectives are similar. Our tastes are similar. He is my family. And more is there to say? My favorite part of making this record was hearing him find his voice and direction for this record. I came hard,” Reis says. 

Reportedly, the material thematically commiserates with the frustration and apathy of our daily lives while pointing out that generally we don’t have a fucking clue. As Froberg says of the album, ““Songs like ‘Death Camp Fantasy’ and ‘Jericho Sirens’ are about that. No matter where you look, there’re always people saying the world’s about to end. Every movie is a disaster movie. I’m super fascinated by it. It is hysterical, and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It snowballs, like feedback, or my balls on the windshield.”

Sonically, the album reportedly finds the band incorporating some of the most extreme fingers of their sound while staying true to their long standing influences — but interestingly, some songs feature nods to AC/DC and others. As Reis says in press notes, It sounds like panic and chaos. Restlessness and unease. That’s a sound that I would ask for. I want that record. The inspiration would be simple, maybe even kind of straightforward. Very early rock ‘n’ roll DNA with lots of rules. I would find some note or rhythm in it that captivated me and I dwelled on it and bent it. That’s where I found dissonance. Bending and rubbing against each other uncomfortably. Marinate and refine. A lot of the other Hot Snakes records always had tension and release, but this one is mainly just tension.”

Album single “Six Wave Hold-Down” while reminding me of Curses-era Rye Coalition, thanks to an furious piss, vinegar, vitriol and whiskey-fueled punk air, and anthemic raise your beer in the air hooks. But along with that the song possesses the sort of  urgency that’s absolutely necessary. 

Throughout the course of the past 18 months or so, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstays Geowulf, comprised of Noosa, Australia-born friends and collaborators, Star Kendrick and Toma Benjamin. And although the duo have known each other since they were teenagers, their musical collaboration began in earnest when Kendrick, who grew up in a musical home, started to pursue music seriously a few years ago, and enlisted the help of her old friend to flesh out her earliest demos.

After a string of successful, critically applauded singles including “Saltwater,” which received over 1 million Spotify streams and reached Hype Machine‘s top ten before landing at #4 on Spotify’s US Viral Charts; the Mazzy Star meets  Fleetwood Mac-like   “Don’t Talk About You;” and the  Phil Spector meets Still Corners “Drink Too Much,” the JOVM mainstays announced that their highly-anticipated Duncan Mills-produced, full-length debut, Great Big Blue is slated for a February 16, 2018 release through 37 Adventures Records. And along with the announcement of their debut, the duo then released, the shuffling and jangling, 60s girl group pop-inspired single “Hideaway,” which continues the dream pop duo’s growing reputation for material that possesses a careful and deliberate attention to craft but with subtly modern flourishes — all while focusing on the complications, frustrations and aches of romantic relationships.

The album’s latest single “Sunday” is a slow-burning, gorgeous and cinematic bit of guitar pop, with a soaring hook that should immediately bring comparisons like Mazzy Star, The Smiths and others — while continuing a string of songs that pair dark and moody lyrics with upbeat sounds.  As the duo says in press notes, “‘Sunday’ is a favorite of ours in the album. It’s a little cruiser of a song meant to make you feel all the good things. Lyrically, it’s about feeling like Sunday is a pretty lonely day sometimes.”

 

 

With the release of their politically charged, fourth, full-length album Running Out of Love, the Stockholm, Sweden-based pop duo The Radio Dept., comprised of Johan Duncanson and Martin Carlberg earned praise from the likes of NPR, PitchforkThe Atlantic and others. Building upon a growing profile, the Swedish pop duo recently released their latest single, the jangling and yearning “Your True Name,” which the band noting that the “song is about faith in a way, not divine but utopian, believing in something that will probably never be. And it’s about falling short, sometimes with your goal just barely out of reach.” As a result, the song manages to be simultaneously optimistic yet bittersweet  — all while reminding us that life is often about hoping for something, trying to achieve it, getting knocked down and getting back up to go for it again. (Interestingly, the single is the first release from the band’s own label, Just So!)

The members of The Radio Dept. will be embarking on a Stateside tour that begins on January 29, 2018 in Los Angeles and includes a February 3, 2018 stop at Warsaw. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates

1/29: Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre

1/30: San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore

2/1: Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall

2/2: Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre

2/3: Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw

2/4: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer

Initially formed under the highly controversial name, Viet Cong, the members of the band now known as Preoccupations — Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar) —unknowingly and unwittingly found themselves in the middle of furious and tumultuous debate around cultural association and the association with historical groups and actions that would immediately evoke the horrors of despotism, war and genocide. And as an understandable result of that controversy, the members of the Canadian post-punk act made the difficult decision to change their name before releasing their highly-anticipated sophomore album.

When the members of the band reconvened to write the material that would comprise their self-titled effort as Preoccupations, each individual member of the band was in a rather unsteady and uncertain position: the members of the band had all relocated to different cities across North America, which made their long-established creative process of writing material while on the road extremely difficult. Along with that, as it turned out several members of the band were dealing with the heartache of having long-term relationships end, just as they were set to write. Adding to a growing sense of uncertainty, their sophomore effort found the band going into the writing session without having a central idea or theme to consider or guide them, making the sessions a collective and blind, leap of faith.

The end result was an album that drew from very specific things — the anxiety, despair and regret that has most people up at night. In fact, album singles like  “Anxiety,” focused on the natural and forced change placed upon the members of the band, and more generally on people while simultaneously capturing the confusing push and pull of human relationships, while “Degraded” one the album’s most straightforward and hook-laden songs was full of bilious accusation and recrimination. The album’s expansive, third single “Memory” as comprised of three distinct and very different movements held together by the song’s central narrative, which focused on the weight of one’s memory and the past has on every relationship and aspect of our lives.

Building upon a growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post punk, centered around themes of creation, destruction, futility, the Canadian post-punk band’s third, full-length album New Material is slated for March 23, 2018 release through Jagjaguwar Records, and the album, which finds the band recording the album themselves and enlisting the assistance of Justin Meldal-Johnson on mixing duties is as the band’s frontman Matt Flegel says in press notes, “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” Much like their previous album, the band went into the process without much written or demoed — and it was arguably the most collaborative writing sessions that they’ve ever had. While, writing New Material may have been extremely architectural with the band building ideas up, tearing others down to the support beams without quite knowing what exactly they were about, and as they were writing they had resolved for it all to show, not tell.

But reportedly, the writing and recording sessions led to a reckoning for Flegel.  “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized. I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong,” says Flegel. To that end, it’s interesting that “Espionage,” the murky and angular Manchester/Joy Division-like single is the first single off New Material — and in some way, the song evokes a narrator, who has finally become aware of his disturbing penchant for self-sabotage in every aspect of his life but despite the dark theme of the song, it finds the members of the JOVM mainstays crafting some of the most infectious, danceable material they’ve written to date.

Preoccupations will be embarking on a lengthy tour to support the album that begins in Toronto and includes two NYC area dates — April 19, 2018 at Rough Trade with Freak Heat Waves as an opener and April 20, 2018 at Elsewhere’s Zone One with Odonis Odonis as an opener. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

TOUR DATES
4/14/18 Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
4/18/18 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
4/19/18  Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade *
4/20/18 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere (Zone One) ^
4/23/18  Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts *
4/24/18  Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel *
4/26/18  Columbus, OH @ The A&R Music Bar *
4/27/18  Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle *
4/29/18  Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry *
5/1/18  Winnipeg, MB @ Pyramid Cabaret *
5/3/18  Edmonton, AB @ Starlite *
5/4/18  Calgary, AB @ Palomino *
5/5/18  Calgary, AB @ Palomino
5/9/18  Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
5/11/18 Seattle, WA @ Barboza #
5/12/18  Portland, OR @ Star Theater #
5/14/18  San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop #
5/18/18  Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo #
5/19/18  Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar #
5/22/18 Austin, TX @ Barracuda
5/23/18  Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
5/24/18  St. Louis, MO @ Firebird
6/5/18 London, UK @ London Underground
6/7 Berlin, D @ Musik & Frieden
6/10/18 Hilvarenbeek, NL @ Best Kept Secret Festival
6/11/18 Paris, France @ Maroquinerie
6/12/18 Ramsgate, UK @ RMH
6/13/18 Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
7/3/18 Amsterdam @ Sugarfactory
7/4/18 Hamburg @Molotow
^ w/ Odonis Odonis
* w/ Freak Heat Waves
# w/ Moaning

 

With the release of their first two EP’s 2016’s Sorry I Messed Up and Please Call Me Back, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based indie rock quartet Holy Now, comprised of Julia Olander, Ylva Holmdahl, Samuel von Bahr Jemth and Hampus Eiderström Swahn quickly developed a reputation as one of their homeland’s up-and-coming indie rock/guitar pop acts — and with tours across Sweden and in London, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based quartet received praise from the likes of DIY, The 405Festivalrykten and Nöjesguiden, and others.

Building upon their growing national and international profile, “Feel It All,” will further cement Holy Now’s reputation for crafting jangling guitar pop with soaring hooks paired with plaintive and tender vocals and while clearly drawing from 80s and 90s guitar pop, like The Sundays and others, the Swedish quartet puts a subtly modern spin on it, along the lines of the likes of La Sera and others — complete with a deep yearning to feel and know everything.

 

 

The late bluesman Roscoe Chenier was born in the tiny town of Notleyville, LA. And although his sharecropper family were extremely poor, Chenier grew up within a deeply musical family. Although he was related to zydeco legend Clifton Chewier and bluesman Morris “Big” Chenier, his father, Arthur “Bud” Chenier, a cajun accordionist, who was frequently accompanied by his first cousin, fiddler John Stevens (the father of Duke Stevens) was the Roscoe Chenier’s bigger influence; in fact, Bud Chenier and John Stevens were best known for playing at popular weekend house parties, where Roscoe would soak up the music.

In 1958, Roscoe Chenier was invited to join one of the region’s hottest traveling bands in the region — CD and the Blue Runners, which featured Lonesome Sundown on lead guitar and three of the Gradnier brothers on harmonica, drums and bass. Chenier played with CD and the Blue Runners until 1970, finding enough work to survive as a bluesman despite the popularity of the British Invasion acts of the 1960s. However, as tastes changed, Chenier like a lot of the great old bluesman discovered, it was difficult to eke out a living — especially when some gigs paid maybe $6 per man per night. And throughout the better part of the 70s, Chenier began a succession of jobs as a truck driver while picking up the occasional hired gun gig, playing in the backing bands of Good Rockin’ Thomas, Good Rockin’ Bob, his old bandmate Lonesome Sundown, Clarence Randle and Duke Stevens.

By 1980, Chenier was leading his own band and through a combination of reputation, luck and skill, he was able to recruit a number of talented musicians while desperately trying to remain as financial independent as possible, which by the late 90s became increasingly difficult. And yet, Chenier and his band managed to play several of Europe’s most prestigious festivals including Blues Estafette (in 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2001), North Sea Jazz Festival, toured across Europe several times and released a few albums before his death in February 2013 including 1998’s Roscoe Style and 2006’s Waiting For My Tomorrow. Roscoe Chenier’s last record, featured a haunting and folksy, acapella rendition of the old gospel standby “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” that immediately brings the early Delta Blues to mind — in particular, Son House, Lightnin’ Hopkins, early Muddy Waters and the like.

Interestingly, ElectroBluesSociety, a Dutch blues act, comprised of Japser Mortier (drums, bass) and Jan Mittendorp (guitar, production), who worked with Roscoe Grenier on several releases and several European tours decided to pay tribute to their late friend by adding a spectral and moody arrangement Chenier’s vocal that’s appropriately bluesy yet subtly modern, while retaining the timeless vibe of the original vocal take.

 

 

New Audio: Los Angeles’ VOWWS Releases an Anthemic Hook-Laden Single

With the release of 2015’s debut effort, The Great Sun, which was recorded with longtime friend, mentor and renowned engineer Kevin S. McMahon, the post-punk duo VOWWS, comprised of Sydney, Australia-born, Los Angeles-based duo of Rizz and Matt quickly received attention for a sound that drew upon a diverse array of influences including classic Western, electronica, surf rock, metal, film soundtracks, post-punk and industrial rock; however, the duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort, Under the World, which continues their ongoing collaboration with Kevin S. McMahon, finds the duo reportedly eschewing the familiar post-punk and industrial tropes to allow much more hook for razor sharp hooks, direct vocals and richer, nuanced textures.

And with Under the World’s latest single “Forget Your Finery,” the duo pair angular guitar and bass chords played through layers of fuzz and other distortion pedals with thumping and propulsive drumming — but throughout the song there’s a deliberate attention to melodicism and crafting an infectious, arena rock friendly hook in what may be one of the more anthemic songs I’ve come across so far this year.

New Audio: Up-and-Coming Portland, OR-based Act Blackwater Holylight Specializes in a 120 Minutes-era Alt Rock Sound

Comprised of founding member, Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass), Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth), the Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight began as an experiment of what Faris’ own version of what should feel heavy both sonically and emotionally. “I also wanted a band in which vulnerability of any form could be celebrated.” But interestingly, as Faris explains in press notes, her current band can trace its origins to when Faris’ longtime band split up. “In my last band, I was the only female in a group of 6, so I wanted to see how my songwriting and vulnerability could glow taking the drivers seat and working with women.” 

As you’ll hear on “Sunrise,” off the band’s self-titled debut effort, the band’s sound meshes elements of Breeders-era alt rock and garage, swirling and towering shoegaze, psych rock and moody post punk with soaring hooks — and although the song manages to be reminiscent  of classic, 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock, the song structurally walks a tightrope between moody, slow-burning dirge, anthemic power pop within a fluid song structure that eschews the familiar verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus of the past. 

New Audio: JOVM Sylvan Esso Return with a Sinuous and Propulsive Dance Floor Friendly Single

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you’ve come across a handful of posts featuring JOVM mainstays and blogosphere darlings Sylvan Esso. And as you may recall, the duo of Mountain Man’s Amelia Heath (vocals, synths)  and Megafaun’s Nick Sanborn (synths, programming, production) have received attention for  a slick, minimalist yet propulsive and thumping pop sound that’s a radical departure from the duo’s previous, individual projects.

Continuing their ongoing run of critically applauded and commercially successful releases, the duo’s Grammy-nominated, sophomore effort What Now featured the duo crafting material that inched towards a self-assured and coquettish, dance floor and radio friendly sound as you would have heard on album singles like “Radio,” “Jump Kick Start,” and “Die Young.” Thematically, the material on What Now focused on a critical and deeply sobering question” where we do go now as a culture, when it feels as though everyone and everything is standing at a precipice?  And as result, What Now’s material was imbued with the urgency of our contemporary political moment. 

“PARAD(w/m)e,” the duo’s first single of 2018 — and the follow up to their critically and commercially successful sophomore effort, will further cement their reputation for coquettish yet forward looking electro pop as Heath’s come hither cooing is paired with a slick and glittering production featuring shimmering arpeggiated synths, hand clap-led percussion, thumping beats and a sinuous hook.  And while sonically being upbeat, lyrically the song continues in a similar vein as their sophomore effort, as it manages to be deceptively ambivalent — is a celebration of love or a celebration of survival at all costs? Considering the contemporary political moment, perhaps ambivalence at all things is par for the course.