Category: synth rock

Live Footage: Brooklyn-based JOVM Mainstays NØMADS Release Buzzing Synth-based Mediation on the Fear of Loneliness

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstay act NØMADS. And if you’ve been frequenting this site you’d recall that the duo, primarily comprised of Nathan Lithow  (vocals, synths, bass) and Garth Macaleavey (drums) spent the better part of last year writing writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their sophomore album PHØBIAC, a concept album in which each song focuses on a different phobia, approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion. Naturally, the material captures and evokes the innermost thoughts and anxieties of someone in the grips of a deeply crippling fear; but at its core, is a cautionary message for our heightened and uncertain times — that whenever we succumb to the irrationality of our fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the result.  

Throughout the course of the year, the duo have released new singles off PHØBIAC every month but recently the duo announced that they’d be splitting the album into two separate EPs — the organic instrumentation-driven PHØBIAC Part 1 and the synth-driven PHØBIAC Part 2. Last month’s single “Phasmophøbia” featured drummer Brian Wolf, who’s best known for his work with David Byrne, St. Vincent and the legendary Dap Kings, and focuses on the fear of the paranormal and of ghosts — both literal and figurative. Recorded live in Pittsburgh in the murky shadows of an abandoned Catholic school’s furnace room in one full take with no edits, “Phasmophøbia”  consists of a fast and loose, improvised jam-like arrangement featuring swirling and twisting synth chords paired with boom-bap hip-hop-inspired drumming which evoke a sweaty, nauseating paranoia. That shouldn’t be surprising as the song focuses on an ex-lover, who perpetually haunts the street of the paranoid narrator’s daily world; and in fact, the song’s narrator recognizes that his past is sickeningly inescapable.

PHØBIAC Part 2’s latest single “Autophøbia” focuses on what may arguably be the most prevalent and shared fear of all clinical phobias — the fear of being alone or isolated, as though you may be the last person on earth or being so misunderstood that you can’t find any common ground with anyone. Certainly, the fear of being alone influences our behavioral patterns, our relationships and our concept of what constitutes a happy, organized, successful life. Continuing the group’s ongoing collaboration with Brian Wolf, the track features twisting and turning synths paired with rolling and propulsive drumming while lyrically, the song’s young narrator gazes into the future through a picture of himself a lonely old man, who knows that death is imminent and unavoidable and while tinged with an underlying sense of regret, there the creeping realization that his worst nightmare will come true — that he’ll die alone, forgotten and obsolete. 

Much like the previous single, “Autophøbia” was recorded live and in one full-take with no edits within the murky shadows of an abandoned Pittsburgh area Catholic school furnace. 

Niko Antonucci is a Prague, Czech Republic-born, Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentliast, singer/songwriter, producer and electronic music artist, who can trace the origins of her music career to when she received piano lessons when she was 6. As teenager, the Prague-born, Los Angeles-based artist began stealing her father’s guitar as a teen — and when she turned 15, she had cut her first demo and began singing and playing in a number of local bands for a number of years. But at a young age, Antonucci recognized that in order to get the exact sound she wanted, she would need to do it herself and she began producing herself.

With her solo, downtempo/industrial electronica project Resin, Antonucci’s sound is inspired by many of the influences that have been a part of her creative life including Nirvana, Portishead, Nine Inch Nails , The Cure, Chelsea Wolfe, as well as ambient electronica and classic music, while thematically focusing on spirituality, dark magic, being an outsider. and so on. And with “Hoarse,” the first single off her self-produced full-length effort Fidget, Antonucci pairs swirling electronics, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, stuttering drum programming and a soaring hook with her sultry yet achingly vulnerable vocals — and while clearly nodding at Nine Inch Nails and Portishead, the single also manages to remind me of Version 2.0-era Garbage.

 

New Video: The Brooding Visuals for Beliefs’ Buzzing and Abrasive, Industrial-Leaning Single “Comb”

Currently comprised of founding members and primary songwriters Jesse Crowe and Josh Korody, the Toronto, ON-based indie rock duo Beliefs have released two well-regarded full-length albums over the course of their seven years together — 2013’s self-titled debut and 2015’s Leaper. And although the band has gone through a series of lineup changes throughout their history, the band can trace its origins to a shared love of late 80s and early 90s noise pop and shoegaze. However, the recently constituted duo’s forthcoming, third full-length album Habitat, which is slated for a September 22, 2017 release through Hand Drawn Dracula Records. The album, which was engineered by the duo’s Josh Korody and mixed by Holy Fuck’s Graham Walsh features guest spots from Leon Tahenny, who’s played with Austra, Death From Above 1979 and Owen Pallet on drums and reportedly finds the band completely destructing, remaking and remodeling their self-conscious shoegazer-based sound to pursue an uncompromising new sound and vision, a a way for the band to find their own unique voice and sound. And interestingly enough, the period in which a band finds their own sound and voice may arguably be one of the most exciting and pivotal periods for any band. “I hope that’s the case,” says Crowe. “That’s always how I feel about bands, too – when you listen to something and it seems like it’s leading to a whole other element of a band, when you feel like you’re in the hallway about to open the door to a whole other space that this band is creating. And I hope that that’s what happens with us. We have no real plans at this point. We don’t want to be a ‘shoegaze’ band anymore.”

Interestingly, Habitat was the first time that the band’s founding duo had written an album together, and as Crowe continues, “we wrote 80% of it in a room in four days wth no previous material. It’s as spontaneous as can possibly be” — with material being derived from extensive jam sessions. Adding to the spontaneous nature of the material, the album was recorded and tracked in 16 days and was recorded with no grand design or plan at play; however, interestingly enough the material manages to be influenced by each individual member’s unique interests and obsessions while gravitating towards unfamiliar instruments and instrumentation. Lately, Korody has had an increasing interest in modular synths and avant industrial  sounds, partially influenced by his solo recording project Nailbiter while Crowe had been listening to a great deal of 90s hip-hop — in particular, Portishead‘s Third.  “It’s a dark record, for sure,”  Crowe says of their new album. “I feel like we were drawing a lot more from, like, me being a Goth teenager and Josh only wanting to listen to Aphex Twin and me only wanting to listen to Portishead’s Third for the last year and stuff like that. But also it was time to embody the elements of being a ‘wall-of-sound’ band with some space and the idea of being able to be quiet when you should be quiet, and you can’t do that with three guitars. There’s no space. It just becomes all push and no pull.”

Now, as you may recall I wrote about album single “1994,” a sleek and atmospheric Xiu Xiu, Antics-era Interpol-leaning single that was reportedly a sort of sequel  Leaper‘s “1992,” thanks in part to a song that eschews a traditional song structure; in fact, much like Antics, the song is focused on creating and sustaining a particular mood than whether a chorus should be placed in a particular part of the song or not. “Comb,” Habitat’s latest single is a noisy and abrasive, industrial and mosh pit worthy track consisting of layers of buzzing synths paired with forceful and propulsive drumming and shout worthy, nihilistic lyrics. And while nodding at Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, the song has an almost dance floor friendly stomp at its core. 

Directed by Andrew Matthews and Ivy Lovell, the recently released video for “Comb” features Crowe and Korody with the members of their touring band performing the song  at Toronto-based music venue Baby G under shadowy lighting and strobe lights. 

New Video: Watch Game of Thrones’ Lena Headley Party with King Richard III in Hilarious Visuals for Kasabian’s Swaggering New Single Ill Ray (The King)”

Currently comprised of founding members Tom Meighan (vocals), Sergio Pizzorno (guitar, vocals), and Chris Edwards (bass) with Ian Matthews (drums), the Leicester, UK-based indie rock/dance punk act Kasabian initially formed under the name Saracuse and  derive their name from Linda Kasabian, a member of the infamous Charles Manson cult. As the band’s Chris Edwards explained in an interview with Ukula, their former guitarist Chris Karloff had been reading up on Charles Manson, and the name Kasabian just stuck with him. “He thought the word was cool, it literally took about a minute after the rest of us head it . . . so it was decided.”  And although the band has gone through several lineup changes — at one point being a quintet before settling on its current lineup, the band can trace its origins to when its founding trio met while attending Countesthorpe Community College. 
The founding trio along with a rotating cast of studio drummers recorded their Scott Gilbert-produced demo EP,  which was finished in December 1998 and featured three songs “What’s Going On,” “Life of Luxury” and “Shine On.” After making their first live appearance to celebrate Edwards’ 18th birthday, the band was signed to BMG by London-based DJ and producer Sam Young, who took over managerial duties for a period of time before both sides had a massive falling out. Since then the band has released six studio albums — 2004’s self-titled debut, 2006’s Empire, 2009’s Pauper Lunatic Asylum, 2011’s Velociraptor!, 2014’s 48:13 and For Crying Out Loud, which was released earlier this year — all of which have further cemented the Leicester-based act’s reputation for crafting a sound that’s been described as a mix between The Stone Roses, Primal Scream and Oasis and for a critically applauded live show. Along with that, the band has managed to be commercially successful in the UK as they received a Brit Award for Best British Group in 2010, won two Q Awards for Best Act in the World Today in 2010 and 2014, as well as one Best British Band at 2007’s NME Awards. 

Produced by the band’s Sergio Pizzorno and recorded at his Leicester-based studio the Sergery, For Crying Out Loud has proven to be commercially successful, as it’s the band’s fifth #1 album on the UK Album Charts, thanks to the success of its first two singles “You’re In Love With A Psycho” and “Bless This Acid House,” both of which continue the band’s reputation for crafting swaggering, arena-friendly rock with shout worthy, crowd rousing hooks. Interestingly, album opening track and latest single “Ill Ray (The King)” is full of hip-hop inspired swaggering braggadocio paired with club-banging beats, buzzing guitars, rousing shout and stomp friendly hooks with a surprisingly disco/psychedelic house-inspired bridge — and as a result, it possesses a riotous “we’ll stomp the shit of you” vibe, reminiscent of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” 

The recently released video was written and conceived by the band’s Sergio Pizzorno and features three-time Emmy Award-nominated actor Lena Headley, who’s best known for playing Queen Cersei in Game of Thrones. The video follows Lena’s character as she meddles with the occult in a weird ploy to bring King Richard III, who was buried in Leicester, back from the dead. And in case you ever wondered what it might be like to drink way too much with a British royal, who has been dead for over 500 years, this video may be your primer. 

New Video: LCD Soundsystem Returns with Their Most Dance Floor Friendly Track in Several Years

Founded by frontman, multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ and DFA Records co-founder James Murphy in 2002, Brooklyn-based indie rock/electro rock/dance punk act LCD Soundsystem along with acts like  The Rapture, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bloc Party, Radio 4,  Liars and a few others, are considered pioneers of a dance punk renaissance that saw its height at the early part of this century; but among that group LCD Soundsystem set themselves apart as one of the more commercially and critically successful acts of their era — 2005’s eponymous full-length debut, which featured their most successful single “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” was nominated by a Grammy for Best Dance Recording with the album also being nominated for a Grammy Best Electronic/Best Dance Album. With a growing national and international profile, Nike commissioned Murphy and company to write and record a workout-inspired, workout-friendly album — 45:33 — as part of the Nike+ Original Run series. The members of LCD Soundsystem followed that up with 2007’s critically acclaimed Sound of Silver, which was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album.  2010’s This Is Happening managed to be the act’s most commercially successful, as it was their first Top 10 album in the States; however, by the following year, the band announced it was breaking up and was celebrating a wildly successful run together with a series of farewell shows at Madison Square Garden and Terminal 5, with the events surrounding their final show together, chronicled in the documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits, and a live album, 2014’s The Long Goodbye, which Murphy painstakingly mastered. 

After LCD Soundsystem broke up, the members of the band went on to pursue a number of creative and business pursuits — Nancy Whang released solo material and DJ’ed; Tyler Pope spent a stint in the touring band of !!!,; Gavin Russom has released solo material under the moniker Black Meteoric Star, collaborated with Viva Ruiz in The Crystal Ark and recently came out as transgender and transitioning; David Scott Stone has collaborated with Melvins, Unwound, Jello Biafra, Mike Patton, No Age, and others; Jerry Fuchs went on with stints in The Juan MacLean, !!!, Maserati and MSTRKRFT; and Murphy arguably being the busiest of the band as he not only continued his production and sound engineering work, working with Arcade Fire during the Reflector sessions, he was in 2014 commissioned by the US Open to create a special set of remixes based on the actual sounds and events of the tournament’s matches. Along with that he remixed David Bowie‘s “Love Is Lost,” for an expanded edition of the legendary artist’s The Next Day and was known to occasionally DJ, including famously DJing to close out DFA Records’ 12th Anniversary Party at Grand Prospect Hall. He also participated in Canon’s Project Imaginat10n, a film project in which the folks at Canon invited 5 different celebrities to direct short films based on pictures uploaded by photographers and other creatives around the world to a special website, with the result being his directorial debut “Little Duck,” set in Japan. And in other non-musical pursuits, with the assistance of Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman, Murphy released his own blend of espresso, and then he opened a critically applauded restaurant in Williamsburg, which he personally designed and chose the menu. And although Murphy had publicly stated that LCD Soundsystem’s breakup allowed him the time and ability to pursue an array of projects, he wasn’t able to do before, he also missed being in a band and creating music. 

Interestingly, in light of those comments, towards the end of 2015, there were rumblings across the blogosphere that Murphy and several members of the band were considering a series of reunion shows for the major festival circuit — and naturally, those rumors exploded upon the release of Christmas Will Break Your Heart,” which the band released on Christmas of that year, marking a big Christmas surprise for fans, who had been clamoring for new material and/or the possibility of a reunion for the better part of 5 years. Naturally, with the release of the single, Murphy and company confirmed that a reunion tour with appearances at several major festivals, a residency to  The Bowery Presents‘ newest venue, Brooklyn Steel and a new album, American Dream, which is slated for a September 1, 2017 release through Columbia Records/DFA Records. 

As my colleagues mentioned, their early Brooklyn Steel sets featured material, which would appear on their new album, including the atmospheric, “Call The Police,” which features Murphy’s archly ironic lyrics and manages to sound like a mesh of the sound of This Is Happening and their incredible cover of Harry Nilsson‘s “Jump Into The Fire” and “American Dream,” a slow-burning track featuring shimmering synths but subtly nods at “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” thanks in part to Murphy’s dramatic crooning, 

“tonite,” the third single off the soon-to-be-released album is arguably one of the more dance floor friendly singles they’ve released to date as it features an unrelenting and propulsive beat paired with wobbling, house music-like bass synth and twinkling keys, and Murphy’s ironic observations on the state of contemporary music, human relationships in the age of constant connectivity and his own random musings. And interestingly enough, despite the 5 years apart, the band manages to sound as though they haven’t missed a beat; in fact, it sounds as though it were the song and the album that they would have made regardless of breaking up — all while subtly nodding at Man Machine-era Kraftwerk. 

Directed by Joel Kefall, the recently released video for “tonite” features a handful of members performing the song, while others look cooly detached, reading or staring into space on a spinning stage, lit by explosively bursts of concert lighting. And the entire time, the band’s frontman sings with a tape recorder strapped to him. 

New Audio: The B52s Cindy Wilson Returns with Another Sleek and Modern Synth Wave Track

Since their formation back in 1977, the Athens, GA-based  The B-52s, their founding (and surviving members) Fred Schneider (vocals), Kate Pierson (vocals, keys), Cindy Wilson (vocals) and Keith Strickland (drums, rhythm guitar) have developed a reputation for an approach that draws from 60s garage rock, New Wave, post-punk and dance music, complete with the guy vs. gal, call and response vocals. Much ink has been spilled on them, so it won’t be very necessary to delve deeply into biographical detail; however, over the past few years, Cindy Wilson has embarked on a solo recording career that has managed to be an almost complete departure from her primary gig’s imitable and influential sound; in fact, earlier this year, I wrote about “Ballistic” off her Supernatural EP a single, which revealed that as a solo artist, her sound nodded at much more contemporary sources — i.e., the anthemic and trippy electro pop of Gary Numan, Tame Impala, Air and punk pop, complete with pulsating synths.

Much like the Supernatural EP, Wilson’s forthcoming full-length, solo debut Change was produced and engineered by PacificUV’s and Dream Boat‘s Sun Lyons, and continues her collaboration with some of Athens’ finest and most acclaimed, contemporary, young musicians including Easter Island‘s and Monahan’s Ryan Monahan, Ola Moon‘s and PacificUV’s Lemuel Hayes, and powerkompany’s Marie Davon. Change’s first single “Mystic” continues on a similar vibe as “Ballistic,” as the song is an icy retro-futuristic, dance floor-friendly blast of synth rock/New Wave that features Wilson crooning and cooing seductively, rather than her world-renowned belting and shouting from the mountains. And in some way, the material finds the New Wave/post-punk legend at her most mischievous and adventurous, as she pushes her sound into a new territory — while being a sincere and earnest exploration of contemporary sound and songwriting. 

As Wilson explained to the folks at Stereogum, “‘Mystic’ was actually one of the last tracks recorded for the LP. It quickly became one of the band’s favorites and maintains its energy on the road. Lyrically, it’s about our personalities — how we’re all multi-dimensional in ways that we will never understand. We all have a hidden mystic quality if we can learn and trust to tap into that power. This song is about how we’re all trying to define ourselves and make sense of ourselves, yet there is an ineffable, indescribable quality to consciousness.”