Category: Single Review

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Mark Lanegan Releases a Slow-burning and Atmospheric Blues

Over the past few years, I’ve spilled a fair share of virtual ink covering Mark Lanegan, the Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, known as the frontman and founding member of Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees, and an acclaimed solo artist, who has collaborated with an eclectic array of artists and bands — including  Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain on an unreleased Lead Belly cover/tribute album recorded before the release of Nevermind; as a member of the renowned grunge All-Star supergroup/side project Mad Season with Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready; as a member of  Queens of the Stone Age featured on five of the band’s albums — 2000’s Rated R, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, 2007’s Era Vulgaris and 2013’s . . . Like Clockwork; with The Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins; as well as former Belle and Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell on three albums. Additionally, Lanegan has contributed or guested on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley-Bird, Creature with the Atom Brain, Moby, Bomb the Bass, Soulsavers, Greg Dulli’s The Twilight Singers, UNKLE and others.

Last year, Lanegan released his 11th album Somebody’s Knocking. And while continuing an amazing run of critically applauded releases, the album’s material found the JOVM mainstay and grunge legend turning to some of his most formative musical influences and profound loves — electronic music.  “I’ve always been into electronic music since I was a kid,” Lanegan said in press notes at the time. “I think the reason those elements have become more obvious in my music is that my tastes have changed as I’ve grown older. The bulk of what I listen to now is electronic. Alain Johannes and I had actually written “Penthouse High” for Gargoyle but then it didn’t really fit on that record. I have been a huge fan of New Order and Depeche Mode forever and have wanted to do a song along those lines for a long time – a blatantly catchy, old-school dance-type song.”

Although Somebody’s Knocking came together during an 11 day session in Los Angeles, much of the album’s deepest musical influences are decidedly European, including the album’s two other writing partners Martin Jenkins, who records as Pye Corner Audio and the aforementioned Rob Marshall, who contribute some newer, murkier forms. Reportedly, Lanegan approached working with each of the album’s writing partners from the perspective and lens of a fan, vocalist, and interpreter.

2020 will be a momentous year for the JOVM mainstay and grunge rock legend: Lanegan’s memoir Sing Backwards and Weep will be published by Da Capo Press on April 28, 2020 — and his 12th solo album Straight Songs Of Sorrow will be released through Heavenly Recordings on May 8, 2020. Featuring guest appearances from his longtime Gutter Twin collaborator Greg Dulli, Warren Ellis, the legendary John Paul Jones, Ed Harcourtand countless others, Straight Songs Of Sorrow is inspired by his own life story, a documented in his memoir. 

Sing Backwards and Weep reportedly is a brutal, nerve-shredding read, centered around Lanegan’s unsparing and unadulterated candor recounting his journey from troubled youth in Eastern Washington, through his days as a drug-fueled member of Seattle’s grunge rock scene to today with Lanegan finding peace and salvation within himself. While the book documents his lifelong struggle to find peace within himself, his forthcoming 12th album emphasizes the extent to which he realized that music is his life. 

“Writing the book, I didn’t get catharsis,” he chuckles. “All I got was a Pandora’s box full of pain and misery. I went way in, and remembered shit I’d put away 20 years ago. But I started writing these songs the minute I was done, and I realised there was a depth of emotion because they were all linked to memories from this book. It was a relief to suddenly go back to music. Then I realized that was the gift of the book: these songs. I’m really proud of this record.”  In press notes, Lanegan affirms that each of Straight Songs Of Sorrow’s 15 songs references a specific episode or person in the book — albeit, some more explicitly than others. 

Whereas the previous two Mark Lanegan Band albums, 2017’s Gargoyle and the aforementioned Somebody’s Knocking found Lanegan pairing his lyrics to music written by collaborators, most of Straight Songs Of Sorrow was written by Lanegan — with the exception being the collaborations with Mark Morton. Two other songs have shared credits — and those two songs were cowritten by Lanegan’s wife Shelley Brien. And much like the book, the album ends with its hero overcoming adversity and struggle and turning, battered and beat up, but cleansed, towards a bright new day. 

Centered around atmospheric synths, strummed acoustic guitar, Straight Songs Of Sorrow is a slow-burning track that’s one part bluesy lament, one part tale of survival and redemption from life’s battered and beaten up. Interestingly, as Lanegan gets older, his vocal range inches closer to Howlin’ Wolf — a gravelly rumble that manages to convey aching despair and hard-fought and harder-won wisdom, that comes from living a messy life, full of dissolution and fuck ups. And as a result, the song may arguably the most personal song the JOVM mainstay and grunge legend had released in some time time. 

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Earlier this year, I wrote about the rapidly rising New York-based avant garde/experimental act Activity. Now, as you may recall, the act which features Grooms‘ Travis Johnson (vocals, sampler) and Steve Levine (drums), Field Mouse‘s Zoe Browne (bass) and Russian Baths‘ Jess Rees have received attention across the blogosphere for a natural, minimal and intelligent use of modern production paired with organic instrumentation.

Their Jeff Berner-produced full-length debut Unmask Whoever is slated for a March 27, 2020 release through Western Vinyl, and the album’s material reportedly sees its creators ability gel with one another to reach new levels of interplay and cooperation to form a menacing and uneasy framework — with which they pair lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws and the broader human capacity for growth when an ugly truth is laid bare. “Calls Your Name” was centered around an atmospheric, uneasy and menacing Geoff Barrow-like production featuring woozy and shimmering synth arpeggios, and a relentless stuttering beat paired with half-song half-spoken lyrics inspired by C.S. Lewis’ 1945 novel The Great Divorce.

“Earth Angel,” Unmask Whoever‘s latest single is slow-burning, minimal “Earth Angel.” Centered around twinkling synth arpeggios, blasts of feedback and distortion-effected pedals, the track features what may arguably be one of the most painful sounding vocals I’ve heard in some time, as vocalist Travis Johnson’s voice stars off as a whisper before turning into a vocal cord tearing shout.

It’s a song about the freedom of a lifelong love” vocalist Travis Johnson explains. “I think we were going for a very Talk Talk Laughing Stock vibe in general. The vocals at the end physically hurt to perform… I could taste blood.”

Activity has a handful of live dates, including two NYC area dates: February 27, 2020 at Union Pool and an April 2, 2020 release party show at Baby’s All Right. Check out the tour dates below.

Live Dates:
 
02/27: Brooklyn, NY – Union Pool
04/02: Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right (Release Party)
04/16: Washington, DC – Rhizome
04/17: Richmond, VA – Fuzzy Cactus
04/18: Philadelphia, PA – Ortlieb’s

Over the course of his 30+ year recording career, Greg Dulli has developed and maintained a reputation as a poet laureate of the bizarre whims and cruel tangents of desire and all things dark, mysterious and brooding as the frontman and creative mastermind of The Twilight Singers and JOVM mainstays The Afghan Whigs.

Although Dulli has been involved in a number of collaborations and projects throughout his lengthy career but interestingly, enough, his official full-length solo debut Random Desire is slated for a Friday release through Royal Cream/BMGRandom Desire can trace its origins to the aftermath of The Afghan Whigs’ most recent album, 2017’s critically applauded In Spades: Patrick Keeler was about to take a short sabbatical from the band to record and tour with his other band, The Raconteurs. Dulli’s longtime collaborator and bandmate John Curley went back to school. And the band’s longtime guitarist Dave Rosser tragically died after a battle with colon cancer.

Dulli wound up returning to his teenaged bedroom roots, finding inspiration through the model of legendary, one-man, multi-instrumentalist band visionaries like Prince and Todd Rundgren, with the Hamilton, OH-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter writing and playing almost every part of the album — from piano and bass lines to drums. Much like he’s always done throughout his career, the music came first and the lyrics completed later. Written and recorded in several different locations including Dulli’s Silver Lake home; Crestline, CA, in the mountains above San Bernardino; and New Orleans — with the bulk of the album being done at Christopher Thorne’s Joshua Tree, CA-based studio.  While Dulli handled most of the album’s instrumental duties, he managed to collaborate with an all-star cast of musicians including his Afghan Whigs bandmates Jon Skibic (guitar) and multi-instrumentalist Rick G. Nelson, his Twilight Singers bandmate Mathias Schneeberger, Dr. Stephen Patt (pedal steel and upright bass) and Queens of the Stone Age‘s and The Mars Volta‘s Jon Theodore (drums).

I’ve written about two of the album’s previous singles — the swaggering “Pantomina,” which delved into the psyche and emotions of a deeply fucked up, dysfunctional narrator, who has a series of fucked-up dysfunctional relationships, and the atmospheric and brooding “It Falls Apart,” a sinuous track that seems to evoke the swooning, rug-has-been-pulled-out-from-under-you sensation of the end of a relationship and the things left unsaid.

Random Desire‘s latest single is the cinematic and Ennio Morricone-like “A Ghost.” Centered around strummed acoustic guitar, shimmering blasts of pedal steel, an expressive and gorgeous string arrangement a gypsy-like shuffle and Latin percussion, “A Ghost” can trace its origins back to when Afghan Whigs were working on In Spades. “It did not work then, so I just put it back in the ‘working on’ folder and then pulled it out last year and recut it…,” Dulli says in press notes. “It started to come together when I went down to New Orleans. The song just reminded me of a journey across the Sahara or something, like a gypsy version of Ennio Morricone.”

Dulli will be embarking on a tour to support his long-anticipated solo debut. The tour begins with a Ireland, UK and European tour throughout March and early April. The Stateside leg of the tour begins in Minneapolis on April 24, 2020 and it includes a May 6, 2020 stop at Webster Hall. Check out the tour dates below.

2020 Tour Dates

March 19 – Róisín Dubh – Galway, IRELAND

March 20 – Whelans – Dublin, IRELAND

March 22 – SWG3 Warehouse – Glasgow, UK

March 23 – Gorilla – Manchester, UK

March 24 – Islington Assembly Hall – London, UK

March 26 – Paradiso Noord – Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS

March 27 – Muziekodroom – Hasselt, BELGIUM

March 28 – Trix – Antwerp, BELGIUM

March 30 – Luxor – Cologne, GERMANY

March 31 – Lido – Berlin, GERMANY

April 02 – Hotel Cecil – Copenhagen, DENMARK

April 03 – Debaser Strand – Stockholm, SWEDEN

April 04 – Parkteatret – Oslo, NORWAY

April 24 – 7th Street Entry – Minneapolis, MN

April 25 – Metro – Chicago, IL

April 26 – St. Andrew’s Hall – Detroit, MI

April 28 – Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH

April 29 – Woodward Theater – Cincinnati. OH

April 30 – Mr. Smalls – Pittsburgh, PA

May 01 – The Great Hall – Toronto, ON CANADA

May 03 – Paradise Rock Club – Boston, MA

May 05 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC –

May 06 – Webster Hall – New York, NY –

May 07 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA

May 09 – The Grey Eagle – Asheville, NC

May 10 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC

May 12 – The Loft – Atlanta, GA

May 15 – One Eyed Jacks – New Orleans, LA

May 16 – 3Ten @ ACL Live – Austin, TX

May 17 – Granada Theater – Dallas, TX

May 19 – Bluebird Theatre – Denver, CO

May 22 – Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR

May 23 – The Showbox – Seattle, WA

May 26 – August Hall – San Francisco, CA

May 28 – Palace Theater – Los Angeles, CA

 

BisonBison is a rising Toronto-based electronic music collaboration featuring producers Dani Ramez and Chad Skinner, drummer and producer Brad Weber, multi-instrumentalist Sinead Bermingham and vocalist Sophia Alexandra. Each individual of the Canadian collective have different musical backgrounds, including traditional Irish folk, Middle Eastern music, trip hop, jazz and funk. Citing Bonobo, Helios, and Christian Löffler as influences, the members of the Toronto-based electronic act have developed and crafted a sound that meshes elements of folk, downtempo electronica and electronic dance music. 

Released earlier this month through Zozaya Records, BisonBison’s full-length debut Hover can trace its origins back to a series of loose acoustic jams between a cast of collaborators and musicians that ultimately filtered down to the band’s current lineup and Caribou’s Brad Weber contributing drums — with the bandmembers piecing material together into the album’s material. “Recover,” Hover‘s first single received support from media outlets like Earmilk and Clash MagazineBuilding upon a growing profile, the album’s third and latest single, the hypnotic album title track “Hover” is a lush and atmospheric track centered around shimmering and twinkling synths, a sinuous bass line, thumping beats, enormous hook and Sophia Alexandra’s ethereal cooing. Sonically, the song is an ambitious and dance floor friendly mesh of trip-hop, ambient electronica and acid house that sounds familiar yet novel.

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the course of this site’s almost 10 year history  I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Grammy Award-wining singer/songwriter, bassist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. Bruner has long been a Brainfeeder Records cornerstone, releasing critically applauded material including  Golden Age of Apocalypse, 2013’s Apocalypse, 2015’s The Beyond/Where Giants Roam EP and 2017’s Drunk while also establishing himself as a highly sough-after collaborator, contributing to Kamasi Washington’s aptly titled 2015 effort, The Epic and to Kendrick Lamar‘s 2016 commercial and critical smash hit, the Grammy Award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. And in 2018, he teamed up with Flying Lotus to compose an original score for an episode of Donald Glover’s Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning TV series Atlanta.

Drunk, Bruner’s most recent album was conceived and written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and bassist, but importantly, the album represented a major career transition — from virtuoso bassist and collaborator, to globally recognized star while further cementing his reputation for arguably being one of the past decade’s most unique, genre-defying voices. Thundercat’s fourth full-length album, the Flying Lotus-produced It Is What It Is is slated for an April 3, 2020 release through Brainfeeder Records. Much like its immediate predecessor, the album features a who’s who list of collaborators and guest spots from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, The Internet‘s Steve Lacy, Slave‘s Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox among others.

“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says in press notes. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Black Qualls,” It Is What It Is‘ first single, which found Bruner teaming up with Slave’s Steve Arrington and The Internet’s Steve Lacy on a strutting and strolling pimp bop, centered around Bruner’s sinuous bass lines, four-on-the-floor drumming and an infectious hook. The end result is a song that manages to be classic Thundercat while sounding as though it could have been on Slave’s Just a Touch of Love. The album’s second and latest single “Dragonball Durag” is a mid-tempo strut of a song centered around Bruner’s chunky and wobbling bass lines and his velvety falsetto — and while recalling Quiet Storm-era funky soul, the song is mischievous and funny song that details its creator’s sense of humor and obsession with Dragon Ball Z and the confidence boosting power of the durag.

“I have a Dragon Ball tattoo… it runs everything. There is a saying that Dragon Ball is life,” Bruner explains. As for the durag: “There are two types of people in the world, the guy with the durag and the guy who doesn’t know what a durag is. The durag is a superpower, to turn your swag on… it does something, it changes you. If you have one in the wardrobe, think about wearing it tonight, and it may pop off because you never know what’s going to happen.”

The JOVM mainstay will be embarking on a lengthy international tour that includes a March 24, 2020 stop at Webster Hall. Check out the tour dates below. 

Tour Dates:

2/28     Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theatre

2/29     Portland, OR – PDX Jazz Festival 

3/02     Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo

3/03     Arcata, CA – Van Duzer Theatre

3/04     Chico, CA – Senator Theatre

3/06     Oakland, CA – Fox Theater

3/07     Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern

3/08     Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory North Park

3/10     Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren

3/12     Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre

3/13     Omaha, NE – Slowdown

3/14     Minneapolis, MN – The Fillmore

3/15     Chicago, IL – Riviera Theatre

3/17     Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre

3/18     Toronto, ON – Queen Elizabeth Theatre

3/19     Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre

3/21     Boston, MA – House of Blues

3/22     Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore

3/24     New York, NY – Webster Hall

3/28     Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore Silver Spring

3/29     Knoxville, TN – Big Ears Festival

3/31     Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works

4/1       Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel

4/2       Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse

4/9       London, UK – Roundhouse

4/11     Manchester, UK – Academy

4/14     Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso

4/15     Paris, FR – Elysée Montmartre

4/17     Berlin, DE – Astra

New Audio: Introducing the Brooding and Cinematic Sounds of Federico Guglielmetti

Federico Guglielmetti is an emerging Milan, Italy-based singer/songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist and producer, who can trace the origins of his musical career to when he was a child: he started studying classical guitar under Maestro Tiberi, a blind musician with an innate musical ear, when was he 12. Tiberi then taught him piano, how to sing, how to compose melodies for vocals and to compose material for solo instrumentation, as well as for a full orchestra. 

Guglielmetti started writing his own original material when he was 16. Much of that early material, the emerging Italian singer/songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer recorded in various recording studios with a band of his high school classmates, including his childhood friend and collaborator Sebastiano Foti, who co-wrote the lyrics of Guglielmetti’s album Quel che resta. Guglielmetti has played with many of these friends — but over the years, he’s been joined by a collection of instrumentalists — and generally that will include a saxophonist, a violinist, two drummers, two bassists, two guitarists. 

Over the years, the Milan-based singer/songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer picked up production skills — particularly song editing and mixing, which has helped him create slickly produced material from his living room. Interestingly, as a solo artist, Guglielmetti writes lyrics in English and Italian and records versions in both English and Italian while playing almost every instrument. Interestingly, his latest single is the brooding and cinematic “Holy Mary.” Centered around an elegant and sparse arrangement of strummed acoustic guitar, twinkling keys, propulsive drumming, a soaring hook and the rising Milan-based artist’s operatic-like vocals, “Holy Mary” is a dramatic song that recalls Barry Adamson. 

Detroit, MI-based hip-hop act Clear Soul Forces — E-Fav, L.A.Z., Noveliss, and producer/emcee Ilajide — can trace their origins to a 2009 all-nighter at a Detroit recording studio. As the story goes, the four emcees scraped the money to record material individually. Coincidentally, Royce Da 5’9″ was finishing work on his album Street Hop in the studio room next door, and naturally the four emcees leapt at the chance to spit a few rhymes and get pointers. The quartet then spent the next nine hours in an epic cypher in which they traded bars back and forth, while the impressed Detroit-based legend intently listened. When they finally finished, Royce Da 5’9″ suggested that the four emcees should team up and be a group.

Since their formation, the act has spent the better part of the past decade developing and maintaining a reputation for lyrically and sonically drawing from 70s spoken word artists and boom-bap era hip-hop as a group and with each emcee’s individual creative projects. Sadly, the act’s forthcoming fifth album ForcesWithUs, which is slated for a March 13, 2020 release through Fat Beats Records will be their final album together.

Interestingly, Forces With You‘s first single, the Ilajide-produced “Chip$” is centered around a glitchy yet soulful J. Dilla-esque production: hard-hitting, head-nodding and shuffling beats, shimmering melodic keys and a razor-sharp hook. And while the track is an upbeat and celebratory banger, there’s a palpable sense of purpose and passion throughout that suggests that this track — and in turn, the album — isn’t a victory lap, nor a farewell tour in which the members wave farewell and get flowers from adoring fans; but rather, it sees the act “not going quietly into the night,” as the old poem says. And although Clear Soul Forces are coming to an end, the track subtly signals a bright new future for its in individual members.

 

Over the past 18 months or so I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Toronto-born and-based singer/songwriter Raffa Weyman, best known as RALPH. Weyman quickly emerged into the national and international pop scene with the release of her bittersweet, disco-inspired debut single “Trouble” in 2015. Over the next couple of years, Weyman released a series of attention-grabbing  singles that found the Canadian pop artist restlessly bouncing between different genres and styles, including the the country and western-tinged “Young Hearts Run Free” and the ambitious, radio friendly pop Girl Next Door.”

After receiving an IHeartRadio’s Much Music Video Awards Best New Canadian Artist nomination, Weyman released her RALPH full-length debut, 2018’s A Good Girl.  “I wrote ‘A Good Girl’ over the course of a year, maybe a little more…and a lot happened in that year,” Weyman explained in press notes at the time. “Because I use songwriting as a type of therapy and a way to explore my feelings, the songs naturally began to reflect everything that was happening in my life. Sometimes I was hurting, other times I was the one hurting someone else, and then to make it more complicated, sometimes I’d be both, like in the last song ‘Cereal’. The album name is a tongue in cheek way of reflecting upon the tracks and their stories, because they represent a multi-faceted character who is good hearted but makes mistakes – no one is ever one thing, we’re not good or bad and shouldn’t feel guilty about it. ​​​​​​”

Interestingly, the Toronto-based JOVM mainstay begins 2020 with the launch of her new label Rich Man Records. The label derives its name from a famous Cher quote: “My mom said to me, ‘You know sweetheart, one day you should settle down and marry a rich man.’ And I said, ‘Mom, I am a rich man.'” Along with launch of her new label, the rising Canadian pop artist recently dropped the label’s first release, the shimmering pop confection “Superbloom.” Centered around glistening synth arpeggios reminiscent of Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back,” Weyman’s plaintive and yearning vocals, thumping beats and enormous hooks before featuring some euphoric sax blasts. It’s the sort of song that will make you dance the heartache away.

“I wrote ‘Superbloom’ when I was running in LA. It had been raining a lot which sparked this beautiful desert phenomenon where dormant wildflowers suddenly bloom everywhere and cover the ground for miles,” the JOVM mainstay explains in press notes. “I kept hearing the word mentioned all around me and began to feel weirdly aligned with it. Things in Toronto were feeling emotional and complicated so the idea of a Superbloom became this hopeful mantra for me that things could change and get better.​​​​​​​”

Along with the big announcements, RALPH announced a series of tour dates with joan. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:
* = with joan​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Feb 12th – Philadelphia, PA @ Voltage Lounge *
Feb 15th – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom*
Feb 16th  – Chicago, IL @ Schubas* (SOLD OUT)
Feb 17th – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry*
Feb 19th – Denver, CO @ Globe Hall*
Feb 20th – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court*
Feb 22nd – Seattle, WA @ Columbia City Theatre*
Feb 23rd – Portland, OR @ Holocene*
Feb 26th – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord*
Feb 27th – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan * (SOLD OUT)
Feb 29th – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar*
Mar 2nd – Dallas, TX @ Dada*
Mar 3rd – Austin, TX @ Stubbs Indoors*
Mar 4th – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall*
Mar 10th – Victoria, BC @ Lucky Bar
Mar 11th – Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore
Mar 13th – Calgary, AB @ Dickens
March 14th – Edmonton, AB @ Temple
March 16th – Winnipeg, MB @ Good Will SC

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink cover the Newcastle, UK-born and-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Sam Fender. Now, as you may recall last year was a breakthrough year for the Newcastle-born and-based JOVM mainstay: his Bramwell Bronte-produced full-length debut Hypersonic Missiles was a critically applauded, commercial success. Fender also made several nationally televised late night appearances — and went on a successful international tour that saw him play across North America twice.
The rapidly rising British artist closed out last year with the release of “All Is On My Side.” The song has been a regular fixture of his live set for the past few years and a fan favorite that he released after a committed online campaign by his fans to release it. And while centered around the sleek and slick production and arena rock friendly hooks that has won him international acclaim, the propulsive song finds Fender crafting a synthesis of 70s AM rock along the lines of Gerry Rafferty and 80s New Wave and rock reminiscent of Billy Idol, complete with a Eric Clapton Slowhand-era like guitar solo.
Although most of last year was full of momentous, life-changing achievements for the young singer/songwriter, the year ended on a frustrating note with Fender having to postpone a handful of sold-out UK live dates as a result of illness. Those shows have been rescheduled for later this month and during the Spring. (You can check out the rescheduled tour dates, along with some European Union and UK Summer festival dates below.)
So far, 2020 has continued much of the momentum of last year: Fender was hand-picked by Elton John to play at his annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Party — and much like last year, he’s gearing up for this year’s BRIT Awards, but this time, he’s received a nomination for Best New Artist. Interestingly, “Hold Out,” is Fender’s first single of this year, and while it doesn’t actually signal the start of a press campaign for his sophomore album, it’s meant to act as another statement of intent for him. Desperate to prove that he’s not a one-hit wonder, Fender has an urgent desire to better his critically applauded effort. Centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, “Hold Out” is slow-burning, 80s inspired anthem with an enormous, arena friendly hook — and the track will further cement the Newcastle-born and-based JOVM mainstay’s reputation for crafting earnest yet ambitious material with a novelistic attention to detail.
Tour Dates (Tickets at samfender.com):
February 17 – O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT
February 19 – O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT
February 24 – La Cigale, Paris
February 25 – Ancienne Belgique, Brussels SOLD OUT
February 27 – Palladium, Cologne
February 28 – Columbiahalle, Berlin
March 1– Halle 622, Zurich
March 2– Paradiso, Amsterdam SOLD OUT
March 5– Docks Club, Hamburg
March 20 – O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester SOLD OUT
March 21 – O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester SOLD OUT
March 23 – Barrowlands, Glasgow SOLD OUT
March 24 – Barrowlands, Glasgow SOLD OUT
March 26 – Alexandra Palace, London SOLD OUT
March 27 – Alexandra Palace, London SOLD OUT
March 31 – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff SOLD OUT
April 2 – First Direct Arena, Leeds SOLD OUT
April 3 – Utilita Arena, Newcastle SOLD OUT
May 1 – O2 Academy, Bristol (rescheduled show) SOLD OUT
May 16 – O2 Academy, Birmingham (rescheduled show) SOLD OUT
May 17 – O2 Academy, Brixton (rescheduled show) SOLD OUT
May 23 – Warrington, Neighbourhood Festival
May 24 – Newcastle, This Is Tomorrow Festival
June 3 – De Montfort Hall, Leicester (rescheduled show)
June 13 – Isle of Wight Festival
June 16 – Malahide Castle, Dublin (w/ The Killers) SOLD OUT
June 17 – Malahide Castle, Dublin (w/ The Killers) SOLD OUT
July 8 – Madrid, Espacio Mad Cool Festival
July 10 – Glasgow, TRNSMT Festival
August 19 – Tivoli Vredenburg, Utrecht SOLD OUT

 

With the release of last year’s full-length debut Grass Stains and Novocaine, the San Francisco-based shoegazers Seablite — currently featuring Lauren, Galine, Jen and Andy — quickly received national attention: the album placed highly on a number of that year’s Best-Of Lists, including landing at #36 on Good Morning America‘s Top 50 Albums of the Year list.

Building upon a growing profile, the band will be releasing Grass Stains and Novocaine‘s highly-anticipated follow-up, the 4 song 10 inch EP High Rise Mannequins. Recorded by Alicia Vanden Heuvel in San Francisco, the new batch of material slated for a February 21, 2020 release through Emotional Response Records reportedly captures the band growing as songwriters and musicians. 

“Pretend” the EP’s first single finds the Bay Area-based quartet’s sound drawing equally from fuzz pop, jangle pop, shoegaze and 60s bubblegum pop in a way that recalls The Smiths, La Sera and Phil Spector-era girl groups but with a bit of garage rock grit and grime, and a huge, anthemic hook.

‘”Pretend’ is one of our oldest songs from our first EP and we wanted to renew it with our current lineup,” the band says in an emailed statement. “We recorded it as part of a 4-song EP in July of 2019 with Alicia Vanden Heuvel at her very own Speakeasy Studios in San Francisco. Most folks are familiar with Alicia from her work in The Aislers Set and Poundsign, but she’s also been producing bands such as The Mantles, Personal and the Pizzas, and countless others in her studio for years. She uses a giant 2” tape machine that was originally used to record all of the sounds on the movie The Abyss, so there’s some vibes in that thing for sure.  Alicia has a very special ear and production style, it was amazing to collaborate with and bounce ideas off of her. Every time we finished a mix, we’d go out to Alicia’s car and blast the songs while sitting in her driveway, then run up into her house and crank the songs on her stereo and AB it. The EP recording experience felt natural, more like a hangout session where we happened to also be working on a record.”