Category: Video

Live Footage: Les Big Byrd Perform “A Little More Numb” at Tapetown Studios

Comprised of founding duo Jocke Åhlund and Frans Johansson along with Frans Johansson and Martin Ehrencrona, the Stockholm Sweden-based indie rock act Les Big Byrd features a collection of their hometown’s most accomplished indie musicians.  Åhlund co-founded cult Teddybears with his brother Klas in 1991. Åhlund went on to play guitar in Caesars — and formed Smile, with Peter, Björn and John’s Björn Yttling. And in that insanely busy period, Åhlund managed to find time to write for and produce the legendary Giorgio Moroder and renowned Swedish pop artist Robyn. Johansson, meanwhile, was a bassist in Swedish Grammy Award-winning act Fireside since the early nineties and worked as a touring bassist with The Soundtrack of Our Lives.

As the story goes, by 2011 Åhlund and Johansson had become increasingly disillusioned with their primary gigs and they began to collaborate with each other, frequently bouncing musical ideas off one another; the band’s founding duo quickly recruited two fellow grizzled scene vets, keyboardist Martin ‘Konie’ Ehrencrona and Caesars drummer Nino Keller to finalize the band’s lineup. 

The band’s debut, 2014’s Back to Bagarmossen EP was an atmospheric, guitar driven effort that found the quartet receiving attention from Swedish national TV. Interestingly, with a growing national profile. the members of Les Big Byrd ran into The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe at a local record store, and after hitting it off with him, the band headed to Newcombe’s Berlin-based studio to jam with him — and the end result was a handful of tracks which eventually appeared on their critically applauded Åhlund-produced full-length debut, They Worshipped Cats, an album that was a decided left turn into trippy space rock.

In the winter of 2015, 18 months after the release of They Worshipped Cats, Åhlund was looking forward to working on new material; however, unlike their debut, he was determined to bring in an outside producer to allow him to focus just on the songwriting and playing. With much of their material drawing heavily from psych rock and drone, while retaining a pop sensibility, the band recruited Spacemen 3‘s Sonic Boom (a.k.a.Pete Kember) to produce the album as the band loved his work on MGMT‘s 2010 sophomore album Congratulations.  The initial sessions with Kember quickly went awry; Kember clashed with Newcombe, who also headed to Sweden to work on some ideas for the record with the band — and Åhlund eventually found himself taking up the production role, he didn’t want and wasn’t seeking.

Burned out by the experience, the band shelved the second album for a while.  “I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed to get some distance from it,” Åhlund says in press notes. “It was only after a while that I was able to go back and realise that there was a really good album in there.” The members of Les Big Byrd spent the bulk of last year remaking and re-imaging the material in their own image — with Kember and Newcombe’s contributions being limited. Recorded between two Stockholm studios — Åhlund’s own and Ehrencrona’s Studio Cobra — the band’s sophomore album Iran Iraq IKEA derives its title from a slogan that Åhlund’s saw printed on a tie while in Berlin years earlier and wanted to use for years; in fact, Åhlund felt that it suited the album, “because it gave it all some kind of subtly poetic intrigue.” However, the album’s politics — if you really want to call it that — are rooted within the personal, As Åhlund says in press notes,  “It’s about classic topics like love and failure. And about being older and feeling like you’ve pissed your life away, It’s about regrets and wishing you’d done things another way,”

The band’s Åhlund takes up production duties again, but with the admission that maybe it was something he never really wanted to give up — and sonically speaking, the band reportedly have reinvented themselves and their sound but while retaining elements of the sound and approach that first won them national and international attention.  “I still love my krautrock, and space rock, and experimental, improvisational stuff” says Åhlund. “But I also have a strong love for psychedelic sixties pop music, and I love reverb-drenched guitar with a lot of tremolo on it. All of those things make it on to Iran Iraq IKEA, but the lines are blurred – there’s a lot of electronics, and you can’t always tell where each individual sound is coming from. Hopefully it’s suggestive, a little bit uncertain and unpredictable, at least that’s what I wanted.”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’d recall that Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio Tapetown Studios in partnership with Sound of Aarhus have been inviting national, regional and internationally recognized touring bands to come into their studios for a live session, which they film and distribute through all of your favorite social media sites. So far they’ve inited British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek, Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey, the Bay Area-based JOVM mainstay Tim Cohen and his The Fresh & Onlys, renowned British psych rockers The Telescopes,  Malmo, Sweden-based punk rock act Sista Bossen, Copenhagen, Denmark-based indie rock quartet ONBC, and up-and-coming, Los Angeles-based post punk rock act Moaning.  Recently, the members of Les Big Byrd stopped by Tapetown Studios to perform the bittersweet lament “A Little More Numb.” 

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New Video: Los Angeles’ Warbly Jets Release An Enormous Power Chord-Based Brit Pop-Inspired Single

With the release of their self-titled, full-length debut the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock act Warbly Jets, comprised of Samuel Shea, Julien O’neill, and Dan Gerbang quickly emerged into the national and international scene; in fact, their critically applauded effort found the band opening for Liam Gallagher and making three separate world tours to support it.

After a whirlwind year, the members of the Los Angeles-based indie rock trio returned to the studio to write and record the material that would eventually comprise their self-recorded, self-produced, recently released EP, Propaganda. As the band’s frontman Samuel Shea says about the EP in press notes, “On this new collection of songs, we made an effort to set no particular stylistic boundaries. I believe it’s extremely important to make drastic differences as you transition through phases. That was something that Julien [O’neill] and I talked about from the conception of this band. I hope you always hear what you’re not expecting when you listen to a new release from us.”

Thematically speaking, the material explores our modern, globalized, algorithm-ruled, data-based society, where the lines between what’s public and private are frequently blurred beyond recognization — and where the hive mind masquerades as marketable individualism with Big Brother being welcomed with open arms in the name of convenience. And as a result, we should constantly ask ourselves a few questions: what’s human connection? How easily are we (and our lives, ideas and souls) bought and sold? Can we cut through the noise and bullshit? Does anyone care? Does music fit into it at all? As the band’s multi-instrumentalist Julien O’neill adds “‘Propaganda’ is a term as much as it’s a cultural ethos that’s been widely accepted. Anything from advertisement to self-aggrandizement qualifies.From social media, push notifications, targeted ads—we’ve openly elected to carry around miniature billboards, playing our part under the promising guise of a sense of ‘connection.’ We feel empty without it.”

Building upon last year’s success, Propaganda’s latest single “Alive” was featured in the opening scene of Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4. But in terms of this site, the track finds the band drawing from classic rock, psych rock, and Brit Pop — or in other words: enormous power chords fed through distortion pedals, rousingly anthemic hooks and pummeling drums delivered with the swaggering self-assuredness of road-tested old pros. Directed by Steven Johnson, the recently released video employs a relatively simple concept — the band performing the song in the studio with some trippy special effects.  

New Video: Visuals for Rocky Dawuni’s “Let’s Go” Offer a Small Slice of Daily Ghanian Life

Rocky Dawuni is an acclaimed Grammy Award-nominated, Ghanian singer/songwriter and guitarist, humanitarian and activist, who was once  named one of Africa’s Top 10 Global Stars by CNN and a UN Ambassador. As a singer/songwriter and guitarist, Dawuni’s specializes in a crowd pleasing sound and songwriting approach that features elements of roots reggae, soul, pop, Afropop and Afrobeat in a warmly familiar yet unique fashion. And naturally, Dawuni’s sound has proven to be immensely popular; in fact, he’s performed with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Bono, Janelle Monae, Jason Mraz, John Legend, and a lengthy list of others.

Although, it’s been several years since I’ve personally written about him, Dawuni has been rather busy. His forthcoming and highly-anticipated seventh full-length album Beats of Zion is slated for a March 8, 2019 release through Six Degrees Distribution, and the album reportedly finds Dawuni expanding upon his self-dubbed Afro Roots sound to include the diversity of the contemporary Ghanian music scene, as well as a deeper global perspective inspired by his travels around the world. “Beats of Zion was born out of my desire to use my diverse global musical influences and exposure to various traditions to paint a multi-cultural musical vision of the world that I perceive,” Dawuni says in press notes. “The beginning of the year saw me visit Ethiopia and India. In Ethiopia, I visited Lalibela, witnessing ancient Christian rites and my journeys in India also exposed me to its diverse spiritual culture and the shared similarities I saw to Africa.” He adds, “The title Beats of Zion is inspired by a vision of the drumbeat of awareness and elevation of consciousness; a musical call to arms for my audience to be proactive in this day and age as to each person’s responsibility to be an active instrument for positive change.”

Written and recorded over a two year span in various studios in Accra, Ghana, Nairobi, Kenya and Los Angeles. Several songs being recorded at Village Studios, where Bob Dylan, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, John Lennon and Fleetwood Mac recorded albums — with Dawuni recording in the same room that Fleetwood Mac once used. As he was working on the album, Dawuni found out that Fleetwood Mac was among a group of American rock bands that visited Ghana in the 70s, making the experience much more special to him. 

Beats of Zion’s latest single is the breezy and uplifting “Let’s Go.” And while clearly sounding as though it were inspired by Bob Marley  (“Three Little Birds” and “One Love”  immediately come to mind), it focuses on a small yet wonderful pleasure — riding a bike with a friend and having the wind blow through your hair. The recently released 360º video finds Dawuni teaming up with Cadbury Bicycle Factory to celebrate a decade of turning long walks to school into shorter bike riders — and unsurprisingly, the video which is set in Ghanian countryside follows local students riding from home to school. From watching the video, it should serve as a reminder that kids everywhere are essentially the same; in fact the video reminds me of seeing kids riding bikes to school in Dordrecht and Amsterdam, as well as kids in my own neighborhood. 

New Video: Camille Trust Returns with a Swaggering, Feminist Anthem

Throughout the past handful of years, I’ve written a bit about Camille Trust, an up-and-coming Tampa, FL-born, New York-based soul/pop artist. And as you may recall, Trust has cited the likes of Janis JoplinLauryn Hill and Etta James; however from with her energetic, dynamic stage presence and raw, unvarnished honesty, her work to me, seems much more indebted to Mary J. Blige.

2018 has been a big year for the Tampa-born, New York-based soul/pop artist, as she released her long-awaited debut EP No Other Way. Trust closes out the year with the release of “Freak,” a sultry track that draws from both classic soul, contemporary pop and hip-hop simultaneously as its centered by a Gwen StefaniHollaback Girl” meets Mark Ronson‘s “Uptown Funk” meets Rick James-like performance from Trust, handclap-led hook, a horn arrangement reminiscent of Earth Wind and Fire. But more important, the song is a brash, boldly feminist anthem in which the song’s narrator talks about wanting and needing raunchy, nasty, freaky sex from her object of affection.

Directed by Tanima Mehrotra and featuring choreography by Camille Trust and Ivy Ledon, the recently released video features Trust and a series of different backing dancers shot in a series of dressed in bold, bright colors in front of equally bold, bright backgrounds — before pulling out to reveal the behind the scenes, with Trust taking off earrings and getting ready for a successive video. Much like the song, it’s brash, sensual, playful and captures the artist’s swaggering and undeniable confidence and presence.

 

86’d from Neon Indian on Vimeo.

Alan Palomo is a Mexican-born, Denton, TX-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist, producer and film maker, best known for his acclaimed solo recording project Neon Indian. And with the release of four full-length albums and an EP — 2009’s Psychic Chasms, 2013’s Era Extraña, the Errata Anex EP and 2015’s Vega Intl. Night School, Palomo established a reputation for crafting a slickly produced synth pop sound that sounds indebted to PrinceThrillerBad and Dangerous-era Michael Jackson and the synth funk/synth R&B sounds of the late 70s and early 80s – in particular think of The Whispers  Heatwave Evelyn “Champagne” King’, Cherelle and an even lengthier list of others.

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve written about Palomo and Neon Indian and as it turns out that Palomo had spent the past couple of years working on 86’d, his first narrative short. As Palomo says in press notes, 86’d is “a love letter to New York cinema and in a way, a final recapitulation of the Night School universe. Shot on 16mm over the course of three nights, it was an ambitious undertaking for all parties involved but honestly making it was such a blast that at times felt like just that, a party. I’m eternally grateful to all the wonderful people that came together to realize this kooky project and proud to finally be able to share it with music and movie goers alike.

Directed by Palomo, written by Palomo and Kai Flanders, edited by Pete Ohs and Dustin Reid, the film stars Buddy Duress (Good Time, Heaven Knows What), Lindsay Burdge (Easy, Thirst Street, The Midnight Swim), Seaton Smith (Top Five, Mulaney), Chase Williamson (John Dies at The End), Mitzi Akaha (Lowlives, Dark Side of The Moon) and musician Alex Frankel (Holy Ghost) as well as Palomo. Set in Ed Koch-era NYC, Max takes a mouthful of mescaline and desperately tries to make it home before it kicks in. On his way, he decided to stop at an all-night deli for a quick, late night meal. After numerous order delays and full-on trip stampeding into his psyche, he is made to pay witness to the colorful cast of lower east side weirdos, visualizing their stories through his newly altered lens: A Times Square dominatrix meets up with one of her regulars to reveal an answering message left by his wife. Two punks discuss an ultimatum as one reveals his connection to a pistol found in a drug bust. A recording engineer convinces an aspiring singer to re-record a destroyed vocal take from a canonic 80s group and attempts to pass it off as the original. Visually speaking, the short reminds me quite a bit of Martin Scorcese’s After Hours as it describes a New York and New York characters that are sadly long gone.

Along with the film, Palomo wrote and recorded the short’s theme song “Heaven’s Basement,” a fittingly 80s inspired, dance floor friendly track, centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, a scorching distortion pedal effect-drenched guitar solo paired with Palomo’s dreamy falsetto. Interestingly, while the new track will further cement Palomo’s reputation for crafting slickly produced, dance floor friendly synth pop, it possesses a lysergic, mind-altering air.

 

New Video: Brooklyn Shoegazers Parrot Dream Release Cinematic and Mournful Visuals for Shimmering “Light Goes (In Mines)”

Over the course of this past year, I’ve written a bit about  Parrot Dream, a shoegaze duo comprised of  Santiago, Chile-born, Brooklyn-based Christina Hansen Appel (vocals, keys) and Gonzalo Guererro (guitar). Hansen Appel and Guererro formed the band back in 2013, and as you may recall, after relocating to Brooklyn, the duo developed a reputation for crafting sprawling and shimmering soundscapes, which helped them amass more than 500,000 streams of Spotify.

The duo’s full-length debut Light Goes was released earlier this year through Good Eye Records, and the album which was written and recorded over a two year period features material that thematically touches upon themes of connection, love, memory and clarity. The album’s latest single “Light Goes (In Mines)” continues upon a similar vein of preceding singles like “Paradise & Prey” and “Clouldchaser,” as the track is centered around shimmering synths and guitars, an angular and propulsive bass line, four-on-the-four-like drumming and a soaring hook. Hansen Appel’s ethereal yet mournful vocals float over the mix. While, the two previous singles I wrote about were much more anthemic, “Light Goes (In Mines)” is much more mournful; in fact, the song manages to possess an unfulfilled yearning at its core as the song reflects on how much remains uncommunicated and unresolved in parent and child relationships.

Co-written by the band’s Gonzalo Guerrero and Cristian Pino, and directed by Cristian Pino, the recently released video stars Kai Pelton, a co-facilitator of the TransGenerational Theatre Project. In the video, the protagonist desperately longing for a relationship with a parent, who doesn’t seem to understand their child and their life. Throughout the video, Pelton moves about her world dealing with grief, loss, confusing and heartbreak. It’s a powerful reminder of that rejection and the loss of a parent’s love can be devastating no matter how old you are.

New Video: Acclaimed Drummer and Songwriter Kyle Crane and The Shins’ James Mercer Team Up on a Shimmering and Nostalgic Single

Kyle Crane is an acclaimed drummer and prolific songwriter, who has been a part of the touring bands for the likes of Neko Case, M. Ward and others. Additionally, he was the drum double for the Oscar Award-winning film Whiplash.  Crane recently announced a solo album of his own, Crane Like The Bird, which is slated for a January 18, 2019 release, and the album is reportedly steeped in Crane’s autobiography: Crane’s father was a Coast Guard lieutenant and pilot, whose helicopter went down in a search-and-rescue mission in 1997. The album tells the story of the time leading up to his father’s death and the effects on them; in fact, the album cover photo is a picture of his mother at the crash site, throwing a rose out to sea, and the album art includes his father’s old pilot logs and maps. 

As a result, the album’s material touches on love, loss and memory but also ski lifts and Nintendo, perhaps as a reminder that along with love, a healthy dose of nostalgia is part of the universal experience. Interestingly, the album finds Crane collaborating with a who’s who of indie music including Conor Oberst, Daniel Lanois, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Luke Steele, Peter Bjorn and John‘s Peter Moren, Sabina Scuibba, Brad Mehldau and The Shins’ James Mercer — and each collaborator allows the material on the album to be sonically diverse, as the material nods at points to jazz, New Wave, country and others. The album’s latest single is the jangling, Smiths-like “Wishing Cap,” an achingly nostalgic track that wishes for simpler and easier times, perhaps with loved ones who aren’t with us now. 

Animated by Tim Lierman, the recently released video is a larger metaphor for being transported back in time. After putting the wishing cap on, the video’s hero is transported with the task of healing a world that has fallen apart. That world represents Crane’s broken heart, after his father’s death. As Crane explains, “When I would visit my Grandparents i would stay in my father’s old room that he grew up in. One time I was rummaging through the closet and I found an old shoe box with letters and an old green baseball cap in the closet. I thought ‘what if I put this hat on and it gives me special powers and I can climb through that old photo on the wall and be transported to the past’”

New Video: Yip Yops Release an Early MTV-like Video

Comprised of founding members Ison Van Winkle (vocals, guitar) and Ross Murakami (drums), along with Jacob Gutierrez and newest member, Mari Brossfield (keys, vocals), the Coachella Valley, California-based indie act Yip Yops can trace their origins back to 2011. As the story goes, Van Winkle, who was turned on to Pink Floyd’The Wall by his father, “consciously and subconsciously” developed boundless ambition when it came to mutual. Through mutual friends, he attended a local jam session where he met Murakami, About a year later, the duo began jamming together, and it sparked the possibility of forming a band, centered around working together to accomplish a goal of creating the best music possible

Gutierrez joined the band for an industry conference, and as a teenaged trio, the band cut their teeth playing in and around the Coachella Valley area for the better part of a year-and-a-half. Brossfield joined the band, and as a result the band’s New Wave-inspired sound expanded to include male-female harmonies. Already the band has played sets at CoachellaChinatown Summer Nights and Echo Park Rising and adding to a growing profile the band has opened for Lauren Ruth Ward and have released their latest single, “She” a single that draws from The Ting Tings “That’s Not My Name” and “Shut Up and Let Me Go,” and Freedom of Choice-era Devo, as the band employs the use of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, propulsive. tribal-like drumming and an infectious, razor sharp hook within an anachronistic yet carefully crafted song that sounds as though it could have been released in 1981, 2011 or 2018.

Directed by Mike E Nikolla, the recently released video for “She” is primarily centered around footage of the band perfuming the song in an abandoned studio with headless mannequins and arms — and off screen, a costumed character watches as a sort of security guard. Visually, the video reminds me of classic MTV videos from the early 80s (which is quite fitting).