Category: Video

New Video: Canadian Art Rocker Art d’Ecco Releases a Flashy VIsual for Shimmering Glam Inspired Strut

Although he’s a grizzled Vancouver music scene vet, who once played in a band with acclaimed producer and ACTORS frontman Jason Corbett, the mysterious and enigmatic British Columbia-based singer/songwriter now known as Art d’Ecco emerged as a dark bobbed hair wearing, androgynous and charismatic glam and art rock-inspired presence with the release of 2018’s critically applauded, full-length debut Trespasser.

Since the release of Trespasser, the Canadian art rocker has played a live sessions for Seattle’s KEXP and played more than 75 clubs and music festivals across North America. Last spring, opened for acclaimed UK-based psych rock act Temples before the pandemic struck. “Trespasser was the start of a two-yeah r ride taking me to all sorts of places I’d never been to,” the acclaimed British Columbia-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Seeing how different cultures interact with entertainment was the genesis for In Standard Definition. A lot of this record was actually written on the road late at night in motel rooms – with the flickering light of a television in the background.”

Sonically, the forthcoming, Colin Stewart-produced In Standard Definition was recorded on 2-inch tape with a handpicked, rotating cast of musicians that featured jazz and blues-trained horn player, Victoria Symphony Orchestra string players, soul singers and his backing band on a 50 year old console at The Hive. Sonically, the album will reportedly find the acclaimed Canadian art rocker further establishing a sound that some critics have described as neo-glam. Although interestingly enough, the album’s overall sound and aesthetic draws from a diverse and eclectic array of influences including elements of 50s pop, psychedelia, Velvet Underground-like art rock, Grimes-inspired electronics, Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and Brian Eno among others. “I’m obsessed with tape, film, and sounds of yesteryear, so recording could only be analogue – in standard definition – the way entertainment was once created,” d’Ecco explains. “I wanted to go back in time, exist in a different era and breathe my creativity through it.”

Thematically, the album holds up a mirror to pop culture and explores our obsessions with entertainment and celebrity. “No matter where you live or what language you speak, there’s an entertainment god for you,” d’Ecco explains in press notes. “Whether on TV or writing the books you read, it’s an odd sense of purpose we allocate to these humans whose talent is in distracting us from the doldrums of daily life. We’re constantly searching for something… glued to our phones… consuming various forms of entertainment. We feel less close with each other, and closer to the strangers who make us feel good.”

In Standard Definition’s first single, the infectious “TV God” is a shimmering glam rock-like strut featuring twinkling piano stabs, punchily delivered lyrics, soulful backing vocals, an angular bass line, a scorching guitar solo and blasts of squiggling synths that sonically feels like a slick synthesis of ’77 punk, Ziggie Stardust-era Bowie and Pleasure Principle-era Gary Numan, centered around anthemic hooks.

The recently released flashy video features the acclaimed Canadian rocker and his backing band performing the song in a smoky studio — and all of them, especially Art d’Ecco serves up some fierce as fuck looks with swaggering self-assuredness

New VIdeo: Montreal’s The Besnard Lakes Release a Surreal Visual for Enormous “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again”

oAs 2020 mercifully came to a close, I wound up writing a bit about the acclaimed acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated Montreal-based indie rock act The Besnard Lakes. The Canadian sextet — currently, husband and wife duo Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys) and Olga Goreas (vocals, bass), along with Kevin Laing (drums), Richard White (guitar), Sheenah Ko (keys) and Robbie MacArthur (guitar) — formed back in 2003, and since their formation, the band has released five albums of atmospheric and textured shoegaze that some critics have described as magisterial and cinematic.

After the release of 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, the members of the acclaimed Montreal-based act and their longtime label home Jagjaguwar mutually decided that it was time to end their relationship and go their separate ways. And although the move was amicable between both parties, the band began to question whether or not it made sense to even continue as a band. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the members of The Besnard Lakes settled in to write and record what may arguably be considered the most uncompromising effort of their catalog to date, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Unlike their previously released material, the members of the Montreal-based went with a much more patient creative approach, taking all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Interestingly, some of the album’s songs are old and can trace their origins back to resurrected demos that they had been left on the shelf years prior. Other songs were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek’s and Goreas’ Riguard Ranch, with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound.

Thematically, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings finds the band contemplating the darkness of dying, the light on the other side, and coming back from the brink of annihilation. And while touching upon the band’s own story, the album also is a remembrance of dear loved ones, who are no longer with us — particularly Lasek’s father, who died last year. From what Lasek observed of his father’s death, being on one’s deathbed may be the most intense psychedelic trip of anyone’s life” at one point Lasek’s father surfaced from a morphine-induced dream, talking about how he saw a “window” on his blanket, with “a carpenter inside of it, making objects.” All of this manages to imbue the album’s material with an almost fever dream-like quality.

So far I’ve written about two of The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings’ singles:

“Raindrops,” a slow-burning shoegazer with a painterly attention to gradation and texture, centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook.
“Feuds With Guns,” a dream pop-like synthesis of Prince and Beach House featuring thunderous drumming, anthemic power chord-based riffs, twinkling keys and a soaring hook.

The Besnard Lakes begin 2021 with their forthcoming album’s third and latest single “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again.” Clocking in 6:39, the expansive song is centered around two alternating sections: a slow-burning and atmospheric section featuring ethereal female lead vocals, glistening and atmospheric synths that slowly build up in intensity with the addition of chugging power chords, thumping tribal-like drums and layered choral-like vocals. The end result is a song that’s a prog rock meets Beach Boys-like take on shoegaze that feels oceanic.

“The track started as an Oggy Film Song,” the band shares in press notes. “A skeletal version of the song had been in the Besnard vault for several years after we initially rejected it for a film soundtrack. It went through a couple drafts before we tore it apart, rejiggered some parts and resurrected it to its new form. The song is an ode to logic and intuition and being able to learn from the past.”

Directed by Dr. Cool, the recently released video for “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again” is an animated and lysergic fever dream that features divers projected onto city buildings, electrical outlets turn into signing houses moving across the horizon and a horse runs across the changing skyline. It’s a mind-bending and gorgeous visual.

The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Fat Cat Records here in the States and through Flemish Eye in their native Canada.

The Besnard Lakes have announced 3 livestream shows in support of the forthcoming album. Hosted by Noonchorus, the band’s live streams will be February 5, 2021; March 6, 2021; and April 3, 2021. The streams will go live at 7:00pm EST for each show and tickets are available here: https://noonchorus.com/the-besnard-lakes/

Live Footage: The Black Angels Performs “Manipulation” at LEVITATION Festival with Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dihr

Levitation Festival (formerly known as Austin Psych Fest) can trace its beginnings to a simple idea devised by the members of The Black Angels in the back of a tour van in 2007 — let’s invite all of our favorite bands and all of our friends for our version of a music festival.

The inaugural Austin Psych Fest was in March 2008 and by popular demand, the festival expanded to a three day event the following year. The festival quickly became an international destination for psych rock fans with lineups featuring up-and-comers, cult favorites, legendary and influential acts and a headlining set from The Black Angels. Renamed Levitation in honor of Austin psych rock pioneers The 13th Floor Elevators, the festival has sparked an new, international psych rock movement while inspiring the creation of several similar events across the globe, including Levitation Festival events in Chicago, Vancouver, France and a SXSW showcase, as well as other special events in Europe and Latin America.

Late last year, Levitation Festival’s record label, The Reverberation Appreciation Society announced the launch of a new live album series, Live at LEVITATION. Comprised of material played and recorded throughout the festival’s decade-plus history, the live album series specifically captures and documents key artists in the contemporary psych rock scene. Of course, many of these moments were also important moments of Austin’s live music scene.

The live series’ first album Kikagaku Moyo — Live at LEVITATION featured two different Kikagaku Moyo sets — their 2014 Levitation Festival set, which was one of the Japanese psych rock act’s first Stateside shows and their return to Levitation back in 2019, during a sold-out Stateside tour. Live at LEVITATION’s second album The Black Angels — Live at LEVITATION features the festival’s founders The Black Angels. Comprised of material recorded at Austin Psych Fest 2010, 2011 and 2012, the album captures a rare glimpse of the festival’s early days — and for Black Angels fans, like myself, it also features six songs from their first two albums, Passover and Directions to See a Ghost.

The Black Angels — Live at LEVITATION is slated for a March 26, 2021 digital and vinyl release through The Reverberation Society, and as The Black Angels’ Christian Bland explains in press notes, “Since the beginning The Black Angels were meant to be heard live. This record captures the rumble of the drums and amps, and the very essence of the way it should sound. Now future generations and new listeners can now hear how these songs were meant to be heard.”

The album’s first single is hypnotic and menacing live version of Passover single “Manipulation” that features a mesmerizing guest spot from Elephant Stone’s bassist, sitarist and frontman Rishi Dihr. The accompanying live footage was filmed at Austin’s Seaholm Power Plant.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays La Femme Releases a Motorik Groove Driven Freak Out

Parisian psych pop act La Femme — currently, founding members Sacha Got and Marlon Magnée, along with Sam Lefévre, Noé Delmas, Cleémence Quélennec, Clara Luiciani, Jane Peynot, Marilou Chollet and Lucas Nunez Ritter — was founded back in 2010, and the then-unknown band had managed to hoodwink the French music industry by lining up a DIY Stateside tour with only $3,000 euros and their debut, that year’s Le Podium #1.

After playing 20 gigs across the States, the members of La Femme returned to their native France with immense interest from the Parisian music scene. “The industry was like, ‘What the fuck? They have an EP out and they are touring in the US and we don’t know them?” Marlon Magnée told The Guardian. “So the buzz began to start. When we came back to France, it was red carpet. Fucking DIY.”

2013’s full-length debut Psycho Tropical Berlin was a critical and and commercial success that found the act completely reinventing the sound that initially won them internationally attention while winning a Victoires de la Musique Award. Building upon a rapidly growing internationally recognized profile, the Parisian psych pop act released 2016’s Mystére to praise by Sound Opinions, The Line of Best Fit, The Guardian, AllMusic, BrooklynVegan and a lengthy list of others.

Last year, the acclaimed French act released their first bit of new material in four years with the critically applauded single “Paradigme.” They promptly followed up with two more singles, which I covered on this site:

“Cool Colorado,” a cool yet bombastic single that seemed indebted to Scott Walker and Ennio Morricone soundtracks while being an “ode to the San Francisco of the 70s — and to Colorado, the first American state to legalize cannabis.
Disconnexion,” a surreal what-the-fuck fever dream centered around pulsating Giorgio Moroder-like motorik groove, a fiery banjo solo, atmospheric elecvtroincns, twinkling synth arpeggios, a philosophic soliloquy delivered in a dry, academic French and operatic caterwauling.

Interestingly, the Parisian JOVM mainstays announced that their highly-anticipated third album Paradigmes is slated for an April 2, 2021 release through the band’s Disque Pointu/IDOL. And along with the album’s announcement, the members of La Femme released Paradigmes’ latest single Foutre le Bordel,” a breakneck, nihilistic, motorik-groove driven, freak out that sonically seems like a slick synthesis of Freedom of Choice-era DEVO and Giorgio Moroder with a ’77 punk rock nihilism. The approximate English translation of the words chanted in the song’s chorus is: “It’s the return of terror, all the kids sing in unison, I wanna fuck it up!” And as a result, the song is a decided dance floor meets mosh pit ripper specifically designed to turn a crowd upside down.

The recently released video for the song was animated and directed by the members of the band — and the visual is a neon colored, lysergic freakout that includes a surfing guitar player, musicians, who’s innards are revealed and other weird imagery. It’s La Femme at their best — being a wild head fuck that you can bop to.

New Video: Chicago’s Joanna Connor Releases a Roaring, Boogie Blues

Joanna Connor is a Brooklyn-born, Worcester, MA-raised, Chicago, IL-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has publicly cited her mom (who I’ve actually met) and her mom’s record collection as being a major influence on her life and music. “She listed to blues, folk and rock as much as she could,” Connor recalls on her website. “So I heard Buddy Guy and Taj Mahal when I was kid, and got into the more obscure artists as I went on. And I saw all the Chicago bands, who came through town.” By the time, she was in her mid-teens, Connor was playing the Worcester and Boston club scene with her own band before relocating to Chicago in 1984.

Upon her arrival to Chicago, Connor was mentored by a number of blues legends, sitting in with James Cotton, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. After a stint in Dion Payton’s band, Connor went solo with her own band, releasing her full-length debut, 1989’s Believe It, which began a string of critically applauded albums released through Blind Pig Records. Connor’s 2002 effort The Joanna Connor Band found Connor displaying the full extent of her influences as it featured “Different Kind of War” and a funky cover of “Slippin’ Into Darkness.” But just as the buzz and accolades were growing, Connor began a touring hiatus. “There were several factors: 9/11 had just gone down, the economy was changing and clubs were closing. But most of all, my daughter was pretty young at the time. She wound up deciding that she wanted to become a big-time basketball player, so that required dedication on both of our parts,” the Chicago-based singer/songwriter and guitarist explains on her website. That dream has come true: Connor’s daughter was awarded a basketball scholarship at Indiana State University, and Connor has pursued her career with a renewed fervor.

Although Connor wasn’t touring, she discovered that audiences were coming out to see her play renowned Chicago blues club Kingston Mines, where she began playing a weekly three night residency most weekends, between gigs at larger clubs and festivals. “It’s become kind of an institution: You go to Chicago, you go to Wrigley Field and then you go see Joanna Connor,” the Chicago-based singer/songwriter and guitarist says. “The schedule is kind of brutal, but it’s great—Usually a packed house, with lots of adrenaling pumping. When it gets to be around midnight, the audience starts getting younger. And I love that—My son is 29, and he gets people looking at him and saying, ‘That’s your mom’?” (And the schedule is brutal indeed: we’re talking about 3 two hour sets between 7:00pm and 5:00pm Fridays and Saturdays — and until 4:00am on Sundays.)

The crowds increased after a video featuring a live version of “Walkin’ Blues” was posted by a Massachusetts-based fan on YouTube. “It was just a phenomenal thing that happened. I was getting calls from America’s Got Talent and movie people reaching out; I even had a Russian billionaire fly me to Spain to play a birthday party. I think people loved the combination: Here’s a woman who looks like somebody’s mom, and she’s playing like this. What I remember most was that it was 90 degrees that day, so I was wearing the coolest dress I had.”

Connor’s 14th album, the Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith co-produced 4801 South Indiana Avenue is slated for a February 26, 2021 release through Joe Bonamassa’s new blues label Keeping The Blues Alive. Recorded at Nashville’s Ocean Way Recording Studios, 4801 South Indiana Avenue derives its name from the actual address of hallowed, Chicago blues club Theresa’s Lounge — and the album reportedly finds Connor, Bonamassa, Smith and an impressive array of musicians digging deeply to conjure an authentic, ass kicking non-derivative set of good ol’ Chicago blues. “We want the listener to open that door, walk in, and feel to their core some of the magic that a place like that brought night after night. It was an honor to bring this to you, the listener,” Connor says in press notes. “This album is a homage to the blues school that I attended in Chicago,” Connor adds. “We attempted to capture the spirit of tradition and inject it with raw energy and passion.

“I Feel So Good,” 4801 South Indiana Avenue’s latest single is a boozy, breakneck boogie woogie centered around Connor’s blistering solos and dexterous guitar work and her powerhouse vocal while Lemar Carter (drums) holds his own with a rapid-fire hi-hat driven pattern reminiscent of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher.” For me the track not only captures a self-assured lady, who kicks ass and takes names and wants to have herself a good time, it captures a moment I miss dearly when you open the door to the club and see that it’s rocking. The booze is flowing copiously. People are sweating and dancing. The band is roaring. And everyone desperately wants it to never end.

“This is one heavy boogie tune,” Connor says. “The opening note I held was a fun challenge! This tune absolutely burns. Joe used some interesting microphone technique on the vocal and overdrove it purposely. The drummer (Lemar Carter) and I were flying by the seat of our pants so to speak and miraculously ended the fade out together. I particularly love the way the musicians come roaring back- all Joe’s idea!”

Shot in Kingston Mines, the recently released video features Connor in a white faux fur coat, green dress and silver “these-were-made-for-walking-all-over-you” boots rocking out all night. And it accurately captures her live stage presence. Simply put, Connor is can flat out play those blues.

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Release a Hauntingly Gorgeous and Brooding New Single

London-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have managed to bounce between chilly and atmospheric pop and shimmering guitar-driven, desert noir through the release of four albums: 2012’s Creature of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures, 2016’s Dead Blue and 2018’s Slow Air.

The London-based JOVM mainstays’ fifth album The Last Exit is slated for release next Friday through the duo’s Wrecking Light Records. Sonically, the album reportedly continues where its predecessor Slow Air left off — 11 songs centered around shimmering and carefully crafted arrangements of organic instrumentation paired with Tessa Murray’s smoky crooning. Thematically, the album takes the listener of a hypnotic and mesmerizing journey filled with dilapidated and long-abandoned towns, mysterious shapes on the horizon and long trips that blur the lines between what’s there and not there. “We found something out there in the desert – something in the vast landscapes that went on forever,” Greg Hughes says in press notes.

Unsurprisingly, the album’s material was brought into further focus as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. “There’s always something at the end of the road and for us it was this album. Our plans were put on hold – an album set for release, tours, video shoots, travel,” Tessa Murray explains. “We’d been touring nonstop for years, but we were forced to pause everything. We thought the album was finished but with the crisis found new inspiration and started writing again.” Three of the album’s songs — “Crying,” “Static,” and “‘Till We Meet Again” were written during this period and they reflect upon the profound impact of isolation and the human need for social contact and intimacy.

Last year, I wrote about two of the album’s previously released singles:

“The Last Exit,” a cinematic track that sounds like it could have been part of the Slow Air sessions while nodding at Ennio Morricone soundtracks as it evokes large and indifferent skies and dusty, two-lane blacktop baking in the sun.
“Crying,” which was written during pandemic-related shutdowns and quarantines and captures the uncertainty, boredom, loneliness, heartache and regrets of not having much to do or anyplace to go — and obsessively neurotic self-examination inspired by those endless, lonely hours. And while continuing in the vein of Slow Air, the track also nods at Strange Pleasures.

“White Sands,” The Last Exit’s third and latest single is a classic, ghost story of a phantom who roams the dunes and desert highways for eternity, frightening travelers and drifters, who pass her. The track is a fittingly cinematic track centered around glistening atmospherics, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a rapid-fire beat paired with Murray’s wistful and achingly melancholy crooning. Much like the material on Slow Air, “White Sands” is a brooding yet breathtakingly gorgeous song that evokes long and silent drives through nothing much but your own thoughts and regrets.

The JOVM mainstays released a gorgeous and cinematic lyric video for “White Sands” shot in the desert, with Murray superimposed as a spectral vision just over the horizon. The visual also feature the song’s lyrics in English and translated in Spanish.