Category: Video

New Video: Rising Swedish Act Spunsugar Releases a Mischievous Visual for Brooding “Happier Happyless”

Last year, Spunsugar, a rising Swedish indie act, led by Elin Ramstead released their attention grabbing, genre-bending debut EP Mouth Full Of You, an effort that firmly established their unique genre-bending sound and approach, which features elements of industrial electronica,  post-punk, noise rock, shoegaze and dream pop — while also earning airplay from BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq. 

Slated for for a fall release through Adrian Recordings, the band’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Drive-Through Chapel reportedly finds the band seeking to emulate the sounds of Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, and others — but while simultaneously crafting some of their hardest hitting material to date. “Happier Happyless,” Drive-Through Chapel’s brooding latest single is a perfect taste of what listeners should expect: shimmering synth arpeggios, propulsive industrial beats, swirling guitars, and a soaring and rousingly anthemic hook paired with Ramstead’s ethereal vocals evoking an aching yearning.  While clearly indebted to 4AD Records, goth and shoegaze, the industrial element to their sound finds the rising Swedish act adding themselves to a growing crop of contemporary shoegazers, who are actively pushing the genre’s sonic boundaries — including acts like Lightfoils, BLACKSTONE RNGRS and countless others. 

“’Happier Happyless’ is a sour and sweet song, tackling subjects of pining, happiness and revenge,” the band explains in press notes. “Having a fittingly slower pace than former Spunsugar singles, this song is also an homage to the shunned 2001 slasher movie Valentine, released a little too late in the post-Scream era. Written with the aim to have’ ‘a memorable hook, a thumping synth bass line and a gazey chorus,’ this is a good introduction to the bands debut album, because of the constant switching of emotional tonality.”

The recently released video employs a relatively simple concept — perhaps inspired by our current period of quarantines: the visual primarily features the band’s Ramstead dancing and singing the song in front of white screen or white wall. A  series of colors — red, blue, yellow and green are projected. At various points, we see her bandmates, who throw balled up pieces  of paper at Ramstead, or they just show up to goof off.  So while the song may be brooding, the video reveals a bit of playfulness. 


Throwback: Mos Def “Umi Says”/Black Lives Matter

With yet another senseless, televised police murder of a black person, I’ve felt angry and exhausted, demoralized and depressed. When will this nightmare end of unnecessary death end? When will we be free of this? 

It just felt necessary to post one of my favorite Mos Def songs, off an album I turn to whenever racism and injustice seems to hurt me to my very core — “Umi Says,” off Black on Both Sides. 

Simply put, I want all my black people to be free. Black lives matter. All the time. Every single day. 

New Video: Norwegian JOVM Mainstay Ivan Ave Returns with a Dreamy Visual for Contemplative “Hope/Nope”

Over the past few months, I’ve spilled a quite a bit of virtual ink writing about this site’s latest mainstay, Eivind Øygarden, an acclaimed Telemark, Norway-born, Oslo-Norway-based emcee, best known as Ivan Ave. The acclaimed, Norwegian emcee’s third album Double Goodbyes was released earlier this year through Playground Music/Mutual Intentions. 

Deriving its title from a Seinfeld references, Double Goodbyes finds the acclaimed emcee leaving the sample-heavy behind sound of his previously released work and moving towards a broader — and at times more soul influenced — sonic palette. The album also marks the first time that Øygarden took up production duties, producing the majority of the album’s material himself.

Recorded last year in Los Angeles and Oslo, and featuring guest spots from Sasac, Bryon The Aquarius, Joyce Wrice, and others, the album was recorded during a period of personal struggle for the JOVM mainstay, where the work became both the focus and the therapy. “I needed to start from scratch in my life and rebuild it step by step, the music was part of the healing process.” Interestingly, some of the aesthetics of the Home Shopping Network and late ’80s and early ’90s new age influence some of the album’s material. ‘“It’s easy to mock, due to some of its pompous cheesiness,” Ivan Ave says in press notes. “But as I’m getting older, experiencing life’s ups and downs, the essence of it feels genuine.” (It shouldn’t be surprising that A Tribe Called Quest’s and The Midnight Hour’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad once described the acclaimed Norwegian emcee’s work as “deeply therapeutic” on his podcast.)

“Double Goodbyes is a product of just making music that moved me, in a phase of my life where I was building from scratch emotionally,” the acclaimed Norwegian emcee explains in press notes. “I found healing in producing and singing these songs, without necessarily putting my usual rappety-rap hat on. But as the album title suggests, a lot of times we find ourselves bumping into the exact things, people and habits that we thought we had left behind. So my hip-hop roots shine through once again, in this weird blend of RnB, AOR and synth sounds. Sasac was my main co-creator on the record, along with some dope music friends such as Kiefer, Mndsgn, Byron The Aquarius, Devin Morrison and more.”

I’ve written about a handful of the album’s singles, including “Triple Double Love,” “Phone Won’t Charge” and “Guest List Etiquette.” And while sonically, the material is a silky smooth and slick synthesis of 80s and 90s synth-led R&B J. Dilla-era hip-hop, the songs themselves reveal a wizened self-awareness that comes from hard-fought personal experience, through narrators, who have come to recognize that they’ve been unintentionally and unwittingly repeating patterns that have made them miserable — and/or unfulfilled. But it ain’t all serious. There’s a playful self-deprecating humor throughout, especially on “Guest List Etiquette.” a track that focuses on a common dilemma for artists across the globe: everyone hitting them up to get on the guest list for their show.

The album’s fourth and latest single the Thundercat-like “Hope/Nope” is a dreamy song centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars and atmospheric synths and an infectious hook. But unlike the album’s previously released material, the song finds its narrator vacillating between hope and despair. Can one hold onto hope when things seem so bleak, uncertain and dystopian? Shit, sometimes it’s just so fucking hard to be human. 

“This is the daydreamer’s anthem on the record, part escapism, part war cry. The rap verse came out sweet but dystopian,” Ivan Ave explains in press notes. “Sasac saves the day on the last verse, with a medieval guitar solo that makes me hopeful again. Hope seems to be the most important overarching theme of the album when I listen back to it. I’ve learned to respect cognitive dissonance as a weapon, a survival instinct maybe, in Darwinian terms. Double edged sword though.”

Directed by Mats Christian Rude Halvorsen, the recently released video for “Hope/Nope” is a contemplative and eerie fever dream — centered around a dream-like logic while evoking the eerie sensation of someone, who’s been in isolation for some extended period of time, walking out into the world. “The video for Hope/Nope came about right after the initial phase of self isolation here in Oslo,” Øygarden explains in press notes. “Mats, Thomas and I really wanted to get out of the house and create something, but we of course had to wait until restrictions were softened up enough. I think we brought that energy into the execution of Mats’ ideas. I think the song is a good fit with that energy. That restlessness combined with a dreamy slumber.”

New Video: London’s DG Solaris Returns with a Sweet Ode to Domestic Tranquillity

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the rising London-based indie act DG Solaris, a new project featuring Danny Green, an acclaimed singer/songwriter, best known for fronting the British folk pop act Laish, an act that released four critically applauded albums through French indie label Tailres, which the band supported with extensive touring across the UK, the European Union and the States. 

The project can trace its origins back to Late March, when Green met his wife, Leanna “LG” Green. By December, the pair married. For their honeymoon, the Greens decided to spend six months traveling across South America with a simple recording set up that they carried with them in a backpack. And that’s how their newest project together began.  “In between swimming with sea-lions, exploring sacred plant medicines and climbing mountains, we had been searching for beautiful spaces to set up our backpack studio,” DG Solaris’ core duo explain in press notes. “All of our recordings feature the sounds of birds, cicadas and crickets.”

Returning to London after their honeymoon, the duo recruited Tom Chadd, Matt Canty and Matt Hardy to help flesh out the material they wrote and demoed during their trip across South America. The end result is the act’s forthcoming full-length debut, Spirit Glow. Slated for a June 19, 2020 release, the album reportedly is a focused development of Green’s songwriting with the material drawing from and meshing elements of 70s psych pop, synth pop, krautrock and prog rock. Conceptually, the album’s material was written as a journey through different emotional realms. “We wanted to explore the idea of two voices, two spirits, two creative minds and see where this dynamic could take us,” DG Solaris’ Leana Green says in press notes. Danny Green adds, “It has been an incredibly inspiring trip. We came back with over forty songs and it has been a challenge to chose our favourites for this first album.”

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s singles — the woozy and expansive “Brother, I’ll Ask Her,” and the infectiously upbeat pop confection “Don’t Need to Tell You.” The album’s latest single is the sweet and swooning folk ballad and album title track “Spirit Glow.” Centered around a seemingly simple arrangement of twinkling keys, strummed acoustic guitar and gently padded drumming paired with Green’s heartfelt and gorgeous vocals and boy-girl harmonies, the song is a contented sigh of domestic tranquillity — of a quiet Sunday afternoon with a partner, listening to your favorite records, drinking coffee, daydream and feeling grateful for the small things. 

“‘Spirit Glow’ was written soon after I met Leana,” Danny Green explained to me in an email. “I was sitting in what is now our living room and surveying my surroundings and feeling very lucky to be there. I wrote the simplest of love songs, and it is one I never tire of singing. When we play it live, the final chorus often becomes a repeated mantra where the audience join us.”

Employing a necessary DIY ethos, the recently released video for “Spirit Glow” was shot in the Green’s home and stars their two cats. And even with the Greens in the video, there’s a sense of tranquility and love. 

New Video: Phoebe Ryan’s Lysergic and Animated Visual for Shimmering Pop Confection “Reality”

Phoebe Ryan is an acclaimed Texas-born, New Jersey-based singer/songwriter andNYU Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music grad. Upon graduation, Ryan headed out to Los Angeles, where she landed work as a songwriter, writing songs for a number of artists, eventually writing Britney Spears’ “Man on the Moon.” 

With the release of sultry and attention-grabbing  mashup of R. Kelly’s “Ignition” and Miguel’s “Do You Like,” the Texas-born, New Jersey-based singer/songwriter exploded into the national scene, eventually signing with Columbia Records, who her first two EPs — 2015’s Mine and 2017’s James. Ultimately, Ryan felt at her best, guiding her own creative vision and returned to independent status, so that she could do things her way.

Last year, Ryan released two singles “ICIMY (In Case I Miss You)” and “Ring,” and opened for with pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen. And continuing on that momentum, Ryan will be releasing her long-awaited full-length debut How It Used to Feel on June 26, 2020. The album’s third and latest single is the woozy and kaleidoscopic, pop confection “Fantasy.” Inspired by the production on The Flaming Lips’ 2006 effort At War With The Mystics, the track which features shimmering and twinkling synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking low end and shuffling beats, will remind the listener of Ryan’s unerring ability to craft an infectious, radio friendly hook. But underneath the slick, modern production is some earnest songwriting. “‘Reality’ is about a time in my life where I was very dishonest with myself, trusting people who shouldn’t be trusted, and basically just living a lie because it was far less painful than the truth. I love the lyrics, they’re all straight from my dumb little heart, but I think the production of the song is what really hits me. It’s so upbeat and psychedelic, anthemic, bright, yet sorrowful.”

Directed and animated by Richie Brown, the recently released video for “Reality” is a wild, technicolor video is a lysergic journey through a cartoon Phoebe Ryan’s fantasies of bulging and pulsating bodies, fortune tellers and intergalactic travel — seen from the perspective of her pet parrot, who at times seems kind of confused at everything going on. “This is one of the most exciting videos we’ve gotten together for the album,” the Texas-born, New Jersey-based artist explains in press notes. “It’s exotic. It’s erotic. It’s everything I see in my head when I go to sleep at night. Collaborating with Richie Brown was such a fun experience, not only because I’ve been a fan of his work for years (the first video I saw of his was Brick + Mortar’s “Old Boy” in 2014), but because it’s honestly hilarious being able to text someone so open to the weirdest ideas at all hours of the day and night. Crocs? Obama? BDSM? He’s a genius. I love his wild visions.”

New Video: Emerging Producer Kyf Releases a Kinetic Visual for Dance Floor Friendly “Savage”

Kyf is a mysterious yet emerging Cameroonian producer and songwriter. Earlier this month, he released his latest EP, Mood Avion and the EP’s latest single “Savage” is a bold and vibrant track, centered around shimmering synths, wobbling polyrhythmic beats and a shout-along worthy hook. And while possessing a breezy, club friendly sound, the track reveals a decidedly Pan African approach, drawing from wide swaths of the Diaspora: the song meshes elements of dancehall, house music, Afro pop and Timbaland’s futuristic production style in an infectious and ambitious manner. 

Directed by Sara Yemoja, the recently released video features the Cameroonian producer and songwriter and two dancers in a kinetically shot and edited visual, shot in an abandoned, graffiti covered building and in the woods. 

New Video: Rising Côte d’Ivoire-born Swiss-based Emcee KT Gorique Releases a Self-Assured New Single

KT Gorique is an emerging Côte d’Ivoire-born, Swiss-based rapper. When Gorique turned 11, her family emigrated to Switzerland — and over the next 16 years, she was separated from a large part of her family and from her roots. As a third culture child, the emerging rapper had a difficult time understanding who she was and where she came from but music was where she found comfort and where she could best express herself. 

WIth the release of 2018’s EP Kunta Kita, the emerging Côte d’Ivoire-born, Swiss-based emcee quickly established a unique take on contemporary hip-hop, one that drew from and meshed elements of reggae and African music. With Kunta Kita EP, Gorique believed that she was on the right track but ultimately felt as though something was missing; that she hadn’t quite fully realized her sound or her musical voice. 

In June 2018, Gorique traveled to Abidjan and the trip was a transformative experience: the Côte d’Ivoire-born, Swiss artist reconnected with her roots, and during the trip, she realized her voice and sound, discovering that her work lacked balance — the balance between everything that made her what she was, without excluding anything. The end result of what she has dubbed “Future Roots,” a mix of her oldest loves and her vision for her future.  

Released earlier this year, KT Gorique’s latest effort AWKWABA derives its name from the Baoulé word for “welcome.” The album’s material is meant to be an invitation to the listener to enter and discover a new world — but also to inspire a change for the better, towards a better version of ourselves and our world. Sonically, the album’s material is centered around unique arrangements that includes guitar, kalimba, balafon and other traditional African instruments. Thematically, the album finds the Ivorian-born, Swiss-based emcee covering subjects she hadn’t previously written about — money and faith, in particular, while offering motivating and inspiring messages. 

“Kendrick,” AWKWABA’s latest single is a perfect example of the rising emcee’s sound and approach: Gorique’s delivers her rhymes French with a determined and defiant self-assuredness of a woman, who has found her voice and purpose over a forceful yet defiant production, centered around tweeter and woofer rocking trap beats, twinkling keys and an enormous hook. It’s a party anthem but with a brash and positive, “you-go-girl spirit.” Set in a seemingly dystopian future, the recently released video for “Kendrick” features Gorique and a crew of dancers, dancing on what appears to be smoldering rubble. 

Lyric Video: Seattle’s The Unfit Return with a Feral Howl into the Void

Formed back in 2012, the Seattle-based punk act The Unfit — longtime friends and grizzled Seattle scene veterans Jake Knuth, Michael Lee, T.J. Johnson and Tyler Johnson — have a history of sporadic recording sessions and scattered postings of tracks online. But after a decade of being together, the members of the Seattle-based punk quartet will finally be releasing their self-titled, full-length debut on June 5, 2020 through Share It Music. 

The Unfit’s full-length debut finds the band firmly establishing their sound, a sound that draws from ’80s and ’90s punk, grunge and indie rock in a way that’s forceful and extremely loud. Thematically, the album touches upon finding meaning, belonging and honesty in a bleak and unrelenting hells cape, where those things are difficult to find — and figuring out a way to cope with the lack thereof.  Interestingly, the material is underpinned by the sentiment that in our morally bankrupt world, the survival of the fittest is tilted towards those with the greatest capacity for dishonesty, grift, shamelessness and zealous self-interest, and that one can perhaps take pride in finding belonging as one of the proverbial unfit. 

Last month, I wrote about the album’s feral and furious ripper “Caged Rats and Hamster Wheels,” a mosh pit friendly song and incisive criticism of the capitalist rat race that was seemingly fueled by the desperate urgency of our moment. “The Picture,” the Seattle-based act’s latest single further establishes the band’s for crafting feral and cathartic rippers — but in this case, “The Picture” may be the most desperate song of the album released to date: it’s an a power chord-driven howl into an unceasing and indifferent void. 

“It’s about the terror and sadness that overcomes me when I think about the fact that my memory is me and that my memory is limited and impermanent – and everything that I am and every moment, however profound, however beautiful, will go away and, for all anyone knows or cares, ultimately might as well never have existed,'” the band’s Jake Knuth explains in press notes. “The song is also a sort of way of grieving for me – over the loss of youth, loss of partners and loved ones, loss of various parts of me and my life that I will never get back. I want to preserve and remember these things, these profound moments and feelings, but it will all ultimately fade away.