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Live Footage: Tame Impala Performs “Borderline” on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”

I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink over the course o this site’s ten-plus year history covering Perth, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Kevin Parker, the creative mastermind behind the critically acclaimed and commercially successful psych pop/synth pop project Tame Impala.

Parker’s third Tame Impala album, 2015’s Currents was a critical and commercial breakthrough: released to wide-ranging critical applause across the blogosphere and elsewhere the album was a RIAA Gold-Certified, Grammy-nominated effort that revealed a decided change in direction for Parker’s songwriting and sound, as it featured some of his most emotionally direct lyrics paired with a nuanced and textured sound that drew from and meshed elements of psych rock, psych pop, prog rock, synth pop and R&B.

Released earlier this year, Parker’s fourth Tame Impala effort The Slow Rush continued an impressive and enviable run of critically applauded and commercially material. Thematically the album focuses on the rapid passing of time and life’s innate cycles of creation and destruction — with the material contouring the feeling of a lifetime in a lightning bolt, of major milestones and events whizzing by you, while you swipe away on your phone. “A lot of the songs carry this idea of time passing, of seeing your life flash before your eyes, being able to see clearly your life from this point onwards. I’m being swept by this notion of time passing. There’s something really intoxicating about it,” Parker told the New York Times.

Last night, Parker and his backing band performed one of my favorite songs off the album — the hook driven and blissed out “Borderline” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

New Video: Hippo Campus’ Jake Luppen Releases a Glistening 80s-Inspired Pop Confection

Jake Luppen hasa risen to prominence for being the frontman and guitarist of acclaimed St. Paul, MN-based indie rock act Hippo Campus. While touring between 2018 and 2019 to support Hippo Campus’ most recent album Bambi, Luppen started writing new material as a n escape from the grind of endless tour and as way to process major and stress life events — in particular, the discovery by CT scan of an abnormal mass on his brain, which left him with the immediate impression that he was dying. 

Interestingly, the material Luppen started to write during that Bambi tour didn’t quite fit with his primary gig — and the end result was Luppen’s solo recording project Lupin. Luppen’s solo, full-length debut as Lupin is slated for an October 9, 2020 release through Grand Jury Music,  and as the Hippo Campus frontman explains in press notes, the album’s songs feel like he was meeting himself for the first time.  “With this record I wanted to get to the point, and say how things were, as opposed to dancing around them.”

For the Hippo Campus frontman, the creative process being the album was one of self-discovery that led to a much deeper self-confidence, in which he learned who he could be — and always had been — as an artist and as a person. With his previously released work in Hippo Campus, Luppen took a much vaguer approach to his songwriting, frequently eschewing the personal in favor of broader, shared experiences of his bandmates. Striking out as a solo artist allowed (and perhaps, even forced) him to do the complete opposite. Instead of focusing on looser ideas and generalities, Luppen found the bravery to write about his life — including, the breakup of a long-tern relationship, the aforementioned health scare, sexual exploration and discovering his own personhood with incisiveness, earnestness and honesty. 

Co-produced by Luppen and BJ Burton, Luppen’s debut effort is centered around sobering thematic concerns — but is paired with a bright and infectious soundscape reportedly inspired by by Charli XCX’s Pop 2, Tears for Fears, 80s New Wave and Prince. Fueled by Luppen’s desire to make 80s music through modern technology — or should i say 80s music for the 2020s? — the album also features synth and programming contributions from Jim-E-Stack and Buddy Ross. The end result is a shimmering yet off-kilter pop sheen that Luppen has said was guided more by intuition and feeling than anything else. 

The learning curve of producing his own material, being singularly at the helm of his sound for the first time, as well as writing his most personal material to date was a deeply vulnerable experience. An experience, in which he reconciled that it was okay to be his true, weird and sensitive self, to make mistakes and to enjoy the parts of himself and his personality that he usually didn’t have an opportunity to indulge. “I spent a lot of time thinking I had to hide behind other people or other things, but I realized, ‘No, I’m fully capable of doing this myself, I’m fully capable of having this vision.” Luppen explains. “I didn’t think that I was but no, there was this whole other part of myself I’d been stowing away out of fear this entire time.”

“May,” the album’s first single is a shimmering, 80s synth pop banger, centered around glistening synth arpeggios, skittering and thumping beats, an infectious hook and Luppen’s achingly tender falsetto delivery. Sonically speaking, the song brings Prince, Gordon Voidwell and Cut Copy to mind as it’s a hook-driven, pop confection built around earnest (yet kaleidoscopic) songwriting. 

The recently released video for “May” is a rotoscoped, animated visual made by Adam Fuchs. While capturing and evoking the song’s shimmering, kaleidoscopic vibe, the video feels like a hallucinogenic fever dream. 

Matilda Mård is a Swedish-born and-based singer/songwriter and the creative mastermind behind the emerging recording project Many Voices Speak. Started in late 2016, Mård received early attention for her cover of “Blue Moon,” which eventually landed on Billboard‘s Emerging Artists Chart. Building upon a growing profile, the Swedish-born and-based singer/songwriter’s debut single “Video Child” appeared in the Netflix drama To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which led to a growing international profile, in addition to the release of her debut EP Away For All Time.

2018’s full-length debut Tank Town featured a handful of attention grabbing singles including “Necessaries,” “I Saw You,” Chances” and “Bony Shelter,” which was dubbed one of the “Most Beautiful Songs in the World” by Spotify.

Recorded in Berlin and released through Strangers Candy Records, Mård’s latest single,  the Peter Nygård-produced “Want It Kept,” is a slow-burning and brooding track centered around an sparse arrangement of ethereal synths, shimmering guitars and Mård’s achingly tender and wispy vocals. Sonically recalling the likes of Kate Bush, ACES and Softspot, the song is an atmospheric meditation on the inherent sacrifices and compromises of adult love, rooted in deep-seated regret and lived-in, personal experience. And as a result, the song manages to be a bittersweet and tacit acknowledgement of the fact that romantic relationships can have a person twisting and turning themselves into different configurations — without ever quite know why you’re drawn to that person or situation.

 

 

New Audio: The Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli Releases a Shimmering and Brooding New Single

Best known as the founding member, frontman and creative mastermind behind JOVM mainstays The Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers, Greg Dulli has a well-established reputation as a poet laureate of the bizarre whims and cruel tangents of desire and all things dark and brooding.

Although Dulli has been involved in a number of projects during his 30+ year recording career, his first solo full-length album under his own name Random Desire is slated for a February 21, 2020 release through Royal Cream/BMG. Random 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).

Now, as you may recall, late last year, I wrote about “Pantomina,” Random Desire’s swaggering first single, which delved into the psyche and emotions of a deeply fucked up, dysfunctional narrator, who has a series of fucked up, dysfunctional relationships — but at its core, there’s a hard-fought, world-weary wisdom. The album’s second and latest single is the atmospheric and brooding “It Falls Apart.” Centered around shimmering guitars. twinkling and tumbling keys, atmospheric synths, a propulsive rhythm section, and Dulli’s husky delivery, “It Falls Apart” is a sinuous track that seems to evokes the swooning, the- rug-has-been-pulled-out-from-under-you sensation of the end of relationship and the things left unsaid and unexplained. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Magic Sword Releases a Meditative and Cinematic New Single

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about Magic Sword, a multimedia project heavily indebted to 70s and 80s fantasy and sci-fi that features three masked and cloaked members known as The Keeper, The Seer and The Weaver, who are collectively called The Three Immortals. Their ageless story of their particular role in the endless battle between good and evil is told through gravel novels and occasionally online by a character known as The Harbinger. The project’s musical output serves as the soundtrack to the graphic novel series with their debut EP Legend being part of the first chapter of the The Three Immortals’ quest to find the chosen one. 

Released late last year, the Awakening EP was the highly-awaited follow up to Legend. And as the ongoing story’s second chapter, the material continues the ongoing story of The Three Immortals’ quest to find the chosen one, the only one who has the ability to wield the power of the Magic Sword and defeat the Dark One.

The trio have received quite a bit of attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for their material and their live show. Building upon a growing profile, the members of The Magic Sword will be releasing their sophomore album Endless through Joyful Noise Recordings on March 27, 2020. The 11 song album’s first single is the cinematic and meditative “Depths of Power.” Centered around layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, dramatic and propulsive drumming and a sizzling guitar solo, the track manages to be a retro futuristic track that nods at John Carpenter and 80s dystopian movies but with a clean, modern studio sheen. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Yumi Zouma Releases a Dance Floor Friendly Meditation on Acceptance and Closure

Originally formed in  Christchurch, New Zealand, the internationally acclaimed synth pop act Yumi Zouma, currently features members spread out across the globe with Josh Burgess (guitar, vocals) based in New York, Charlie Ryder (guitar, bass, keys) based in London and Christie Simpson (vocals, keys) based in Christchurch. Writing and recording by email out of necessity, the band wasn’t meant to be a live project — and yet, they received attention and praise for a breezy yet breezy yet bittersweet, 80s synth pop inspired sound centered around Christie Simpson’s ethereal and achingly tender vocals. 

The acclaimed indie electro pop act recently signed to Polyvinyl Record Co., and to to celebrate the occasion, they released their self-produced new single “Right Track/Wrong Man” through their new label home. And while continuing an extraordinary run of breezy synth pop, the new track is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, Nile Rodgers-like guitar lines, a sinuous bass line, four-on-the-floor drumming and ethereal harmonies, the song is actually an upbeat, disco-tinged meditation on the closure gained by accepting that it’s time to move on and forward. 

“‘Right Track / Wrong Man’ comes from a place of uncertainty – of not knowing if you should stay in the comfort of a slightly unfulfilling relationship, or branch out and make the most of the youth you have left; meet new people, go out more, dance, live,” the band’s Christine Simpson explains. “In the last year or so I’ve found myself switching between these modes, unable to work out what makes me happier, left feeling a little lost – but I’ve always found solace in the knowledge that at least I’ve been going out more, meeting new people, dancing – and living. As Yumi Zouma we often write songs that we want people to dance to, and that we ourselves would want to dance to – this is our dancefloor anthem to the confusion of living through your twenties.”