Category: Video

Live Footage: Var Performs “Where To Find You” at Orgelsmidjan

VAR is an acclaimed Reykjavik-based post-rock collective that was founded in 2013 as the solo recording project of its founding member and creative mastermind Júliús Óttar Björgvinsson(vocals, guitar and piano). But shortly after the project’s founding, Björgvinsson felt as though his vision couldn’t be fully realized without additional help. So, he recruited those, who were the closest to him — his wife Myrra Rós (synths, vocals), his brother Egil Björgvinsson (bass) and his friends Arnór Jónasson (guitar) and Adrni Freyr Þorgeirsson (drums). That lineup wrote and recorded the Vetur EP — and in the subsequent years after its release, the band managed to built up a fiercely loyal fanbase through relentless touring.

The band went through a series of lineup changes after the release of Vetur EP: Ròs left the band as a result of competing professional and personal responsibilities and Sigurður Ingi Einarsson (drums) replaced Freyr. A smaller lineup necessitated a reimagining and reworking of the sound, which resulted in last year’s The Never Ending Year, arguably the most ambitious album of their growing catalog.

Much like countless acts across the world, the pandemic put the acclaimed Icelandic act’s tour plans on hold indefinitely. “After releasing an album and having no chance to play it live, we felt like we had to do something to give people at least a little taste of us playing these songs live,” VAR’s Júlíus Óttar Björgvinsson (vocals/guitar/keys) says in press notes. “VAR has always been about playing live and we always give everything we have to make the tension between us and the audience both peaceful and powerful. But since we could not play it live for people, we decided to make these live videos of us playing the songs at the organ workshop where we practice. We got our producer Eiður to do the sound for the videos and when he sent us the audio files Arnór brought that idea of releasing a live EP, because people had been asking us to do so. We were happy with the sound Eiður got from the session and how far it is from how the album sounds. It’s powerful, it’s raw and it’s honest. And that is VAR.”

The Icelandic band’s latest effort, the soon-to-be released four song Live at Orgelsmidjan EP, was recorded at the their practice space, which also serves was their homeland’s only pipe organ workshop. The EP’s latest single “Where To Find You” further establishes their sound, which — to my ears, at least — is a seamless synthesis of atmospheric shoegaze, classic alt rock and arena rock paired with heart-on-sleeve lyricism. But interestingly, because of its unfussy, you-are-there production, the song is imbued with the raw and urgent power of a live performance. And as a result, it gives the material an added emotional punch.

Live Footage: METZ Live on KEXP — At Home

With the release of their first three albums, the Toronto-based punk trio and JOVM mainstays METZ developed a reputation for thriving on an abrasive restlessness. However, before they set to work on their fourth and latest album, last year’s Atlas Vending, the Canadian punk rockers — Alex Edkins (guitar, vocals). Chris Slorach (bass) and Hayden Menzies (drums) — set a goal for themselves and the album: they intended to make a much more patient and honest album, an album that invited repeated listens rather than a few exhilarating, most-pit friendly bludgeonings.

Co-produced by Uniform’s Ben Greenberg and mastered by Seth Manchester at Pawtucket’s Machines with Magnets, Atlas Vending sees the band attempting to craft music for the long haul, and with the hopes that their work could serve as a constant, as they — and of course, the listener — navigated through life’s trails and tribulations. The end result is an album’s worth of material that retains the massive sound that has won them attention and hearts across the world, but while arguably being among their most articulate, earnest and dynamic of their catalog and careers.

Thematically, the album covers disparate yet very adult themes: paternity, crushing social anxiety, addiction, isolation, media-induced paranoia and the restless urge to just say “Fuck this!” and leave it all behind. Interestingly enough, much like its immediate predecessor, Atlas Vending offers a snapshot of the modern condition as the band sees it; but unlike any of their previously released work, the album’s 10 songs were specifically written to form a musical and narrative arc with the album’s songs and sequencing following a cradle-to-grave trajectory.

As a result of the album’s cradle-to-grave narrative arc, the album’s material runs through a gamut of moods and emotional states, starting off with the most rudimentary and simplistic sensations of childhood, all the way to the increasingly nuanced and turbulent peaks and valleys of adulthood. There’s also a bit of subtext to the proceedings: getting older in an industry seemingly suspended in perpetual youth. “Change is inevitable if you’re lucky,” METZ’s Alex Eadkins says of the band’s fourth album Atlas Vending. “Our goal is to remain in flux, to grow in a natural and gradual way. We’ve always been wary to not overthink or intellectualize the music we love but also not satisfied until we’ve accomplished something that pushes us forward.”

Over the course of last year, I wrote about six off the album’s released singles:

Album closing track “A Boat to Drown In,” which may be the most expansive and oceanic tracks of their entire catalog.
“Hail Taxi,” an explosive and deceptively prototypical METZ track that’s centered a narrator, who desperately attempts to reconcile who they once were with what they’ve become.
“Blind Industrial Park,” a rapturous and euphoric ripper that’s an ode to the naivete of youth and the blissful freedom of being unburdened by the world surrounding you.
“Parasite,” a frenetic and pummeling ripper that they filmed at The Opera House in Toronto.
“Pulse,” a furious roar, full of the anxious and uncertain dread that was familiar to daily life during the Trump Administration.
“Framed by the Comet’s Tail,” Atlas Vending’s most punk-like song, centered around the bitter recrimination and heartache of betrayal and the desperate desire to just say “Fuck all of this!” and start over.

The JOVM mainstays closed out 2020 with an explosive live session for KEXP that they recorded at Palace Sound, which features a handful of the album’s singles performed live. KEXP recently released the video — and it makes me miss live shows immensely. I suspect it’ll make you miss live shows, too.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay HAERTS Releases a Hazy and Feverish Visual for Glistening “it’s Too Late”

Tracing their origins back to a budding high school romance in Munich, the acclaimed indie pop act and JOVM mainstays HAERTS have evolved as its founding (and core) duo — Nini Fabi (vocals) and Benny Gebert (keys, guitar) — have evolved: the duo met their bandmates while studying at Berklee College of Music. Upon graduation, the then-quintet relocated to Brooklyn, where they quickly built up a profile and released their major label, self-titled, Jean-Philip Growler-produced. full-length debut.

After a series of lineup changes, the JOVM mainstays have settled on its founding and core duo, Fabi and Gebert relocated to the Upstate New York woods, where they wrote and recorded their sophomore album, 2018’s New Compassion. Interestingly, since the release of New Compassion, Fabi and Gebert have embraced their multi-national roots by splitting their time between Berlin and New York. During that same period, they’ve been fueled by a renewed spirit of collaboration with artists and visual artists they’ve long admired, including Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste and Julian Klincewicz, who they worked with on POWER/LAND.

The JOVM’s mainstays third, full-length album Dream Nation is slated for a March 12, 2021 release, and reportedly, the album’s material is marked by a sense of urgent intensity: Fabi and Gebert wrote the album over the course of about a month — and then they recorded most of the album with their touring band during a week-long, live recording session in New York. They then went to Los Angeles, where they put the finishing touches on the album and collaborated with Ed Droste on the album’s first single “For the Sky.” (More on that later.)

Sonically, Dream Nation finds the usual comparisons to Fleetwood Mac and First Aid Kit, making way for subtle nods at Portishead and Lamb. “We went into the studio without setting limits or parameters other than that we wanted to make a record that moves you emotionally and physically,” Fabi and Gebert explain. “We wanted it to feel like an invitation into the strange and fantastical night time world, like the songs they play just before the lights come on, when the party is almost over, and the polish is gone.”

Late last year, I wrote about “For the Sky.” Featuring Fabi’s ethereal and plaintive vocalists shimmering guitars, persistent drumming, a soaring hook and a guest spot from Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste, “For the Sky” continues a run of carefully crafted pop that references Fleetwood Mac centered around lyrics that come from lived-in experience.

“‘For the Sky’ came from a dream I had when I first found out that I was pregnant, which was the catalyst and beginning of writing the new music,” HAERTS explained in press notes. “When we finished the demo for the song I kept hearing Ed’s voice and just thought he would sound amazing on it. We didn’t know him at the time, but were such fans. When we reached out we honestly thought we’d never hear from him. But we did and we went into the studio in LA, and ended up recording it just singing together in a room. Now that feels like such a nostalgic notion. But even then it was special. It was that feeling you get when you sing with somebody and something just clicks. And it’s especially crazy when you sing with a vocal force as Ed. I wish everybody could sing together more and feel that.”

The album’s second and latest single “It’s Too Late” is a glistening, hook-driven pop confection that sonically — to my ears, at least — is a slick synthesis of Fleetwood Mac, Shuggie Otis, Avalon-era Roxy Music, and disco centered around Fabi’s gorgeous, plaintive vocals.

Directed by their frequent visual collaborator Julian Klincewicz, the recently released video for “It’s Too Late” is a lo-fi, hazy, fever dream through Los Angeles that follows HAERTS’ Fabi as she struts, walks and flirts with the camera. But as the band’s Gerbert explained to PAPER, the video captured both the sensual and dangerous energy of nighttime in Los Angeles: “We filmed the video with Julian during one of the craziest nights in LA. It was all about Nini walking through the empty streets of the city. We wanted it to be a journey through the night, both physically and emotionally, and also capture some of that night time energy of LA. At some point during the shoot I was in a parking lot with a friend, when someone came running towards us with a gun. Luckily, we were able to get away unharmed and we finished the video that night. It was definitely a huge shock. I guess we captured the night time in more ways than we set out to.”

New Video: Dayglow Releases a Playful Visual for Shimmering Pop Confection “Close to You”

20-something Aledo, TX-born, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Sloan Struble is the creative mastermind behind the rising, critically applauded indie rock/indie pop project Dayglow. The project aesthetically is centered around a hard-fought, hard-won yet palpably sincere optimism that can trace its origins to Struble’s adolences, growing up in a Fort Worth suburb that he has referred to as a “small football-crazed town,” where he felt irrevocably out of place — and as a result, he turned to music, as a escape from his surroundings. “I didn’t really feel connected to what everyone else in my school was into, so making music became an obsession for me, and sort of like therapy in a way,” Struble said in press notes. “I’d dream about it all day in class, and then come home and for on songs instead of doing homework. After a while I realized I’d made an album.”

Working completely on his own with a minuscule collection of gear that included his guitar, his computer and some secondhand keyboards he picked up at Goodwill, Struble worked on transforming his privately kept outpouring into a batch of songs — often grandiose in scale. “Usually artists will have demos they’ll bounce off other people to get some feedback, but nobody except for my parents down the hall really heard much of the album until I put it out,” Struble recalled. With the self-release of 2018’s Fuzzybrain, the Aledo-born, Austin-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer received widespread attention and an ardent online following — with countess listeners praising the material’s overwhelming positivity.

In 2019, Struble re-released a fully realized version of Fuzzybrain that featured Can I Call You Tonight,” a track that wound up being a smash-hit lat year, as well as two previously unreleased singles “Nicknames” and “Listerine.” With the two new singles, teh album further establishes Struble’s reputation for illuminating emotional pain in a way that not only deeply resonates with listeners but while managing to make that emotional pain feel lighter.

Continuing upon that momentum, Struble kicks off 2021 with the infectious and sugary pop confection “Close to You.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, and a two-step inducing groove, “Close to You” sonically is indebted to 80s synth-led soul — in particular Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald’s “On My Own” Cherelle’s and Alexander O’Neal’s “Saturday Love” and other duets, but imbued with an aching melancholy and uncertainty.

“There is just a certain danceable yet melancholy feeling about 80’s pop duets that I wanted to channel into,” Struble explains. “‘Close to You’ was intended to be performed as a duet, but ended up essentially being a duet with myself (which makes sense in the context of the lyrics).The song itself is about the tension between two people at a party that never said hello. It’s about the excitement and perfect fantasy you play in your head prior to seeing that person, the mediocre and nervous reality of the actual moment you see them, and the let down that always comes afterwards it not being what had always and only been living in your head. I envision the song being played inside someone’s brain— kind of like the movie Inside Out– after they are leaving a party, thinking about what they wish would have happened. But in reality, they are actually just singing to and about themselves.”

Directed and edited by Amos David McKay, the recently released video for “Close to You” manages to dial into the 80s-inspired nostalgia of its accompanying song: we see Struble in a teal suit dancing to the song in a orange lit studio space — and singing to himself in the mirror, making the song a duet with himself. Although it’s subtly implied, the video finds its protagonist essentially attempting to pump himself up and deal with disappointment — with a smile and a positive outlook to it all.

Struble is currently working on his highly-anticipated Dayglow sophomore album, which is slated for release this year. Be on the lookout.

New Video: DMV’s Kev Brown & J Scienide Release a Forward-Thinking Banger

DMV area hip-duo artist and production duo Kev Brown & J Scienide recently released their sophomore effort together Stray From the Pack — and the album is an organic effort that celebrates — and harkens back to — many of hip-hop’s classic collaborative albums, while boldly pushing the genre’s sound and approach forward. “Stray From The Pack, to me, is the perfect title. Like a pack of wolves running together in stride. Sometimes you have to be those lone wolves and go in your own direction,” J. Scienide says of the album’s title.

Sonically, the album finds the duo’s production deftly coloring outside the lines of boom-bap as they pair off-kilter syncopated beats and left-field samples with clever wordplay and straight-talk about their place in hip-hop. The album’s latest single “Out the Safari” is centered around a lush, forward-thinking production featuring neck snapping, hard-hitting beats, and a twinkling McCoy Tyner-like piano sample. The duo spit some dexterous bars full of bravado, braggadocio and mischievous wit.

The duo linked up last fall to shoot the remarkably stylish visual for “Out the Safari” — and visually, it seems to nod at film noir while following the duo walking around a suburban town while spitting rhymes.

New Video: Born Allah Teams Up with Zpu-Zilla and DJ Nu-Mark on a Soulful and Swaggering Banger

Born Allah is a grizzled veteran of Los Angeles’ hip-hop scene. The Los Angeles-based emcee had been quietly enjoying retirement, when German-born producer Zpu-Zilla contacted Born Allah and sent him the beat for “Dedication.” The “Dedication” beat inspired the Los Angeles-based emcee to rethink his retirement — and ultimately, the end result wound up being Born Allah’s latest EP Analog Baby. “After we talked about it, I sent a stack of beats and Born was hyped,” Zpu-Zilla recalls. “I’m so glad I could take him out of retirement for this project, and I hope it was worth it.”

Analog Baby not only reflects the talents and passion of the Los Angeles hip-hop vet, but it lovingly captures the era of hip-hop that Born Allah comes from. “I recorded on four-track recorders, reel to reel, and analog gear,” Born Allah says. “I wanted to tap into that energy, feeling and love I had for rapping when utilizing that equipment.” “This is me having fun spitting again,” Born Allah continues, “I’m an analog baby in a digital world.”

The EP’s latest single, opening track “Dedication” is a golden era-inspired banger centered around tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap, a soulful gospel choir sample, thumping low end and some dexterous scratching from DJ Nu-Mark. Throughout the track, Born Allah spits some witty, grown-ass folks lyrics that mesh swaggering braggadocio and hilarious, self-deprecating and self-loathing: the track essentially finds the Los Angeles hip-hop vet saying “yeah, I made be a cantankerous old head, who talks too much about the ‘good ol’ days’ but my old ass can teach you a thing or two!” (Personally, there’s something about this track that I can really associate with. As I inch further into my 40s within an industry that seemingly values youth at all costs, I’ve kind of felt the same!)

Directed by GuapCityProductions, the recently released video was shot in Downtown Los Angeles — and it captures the bravado and swagger of the song by following Born Allah as he cruises through town and hangs out with his crew. And while the crew does feature some young bloods, they seem to pay the old timers one and respect — in a way that seems all too uncommon.

New Video: L’Impératice Releases a Campy and Defiantly Feminist Visual for Strutting Disco Anthem “Peur des filles”

L’Impératice — founder Charles de Boisseguin (keys), Hagni Gown (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), Tom Daveau (drums) and Flore Benguigui (vocals) — is a Paris-based electro pop sextet that formed back in 2012. And since their formation the Parisian electro pop act has been extraordinarily busy: they released their self-titled, full-length debut in 2012. their sophomore EP Sonate Pacifique in 2014 and their third EP Odyssée in 2015.

In 2016, the French electro pop act released a re-edited, remixed and slowed down version of Odyssée, L’Empreruer, which was inspired by a fan mistakenly playing a vinyl copy of Odyssée at the wrong speed. L’Impératice followed that up with a version of Odysseé featuring arrangements centered around violin, cello and acoustic guitar.

During the summer of 2017, the members of L’Impératice signed to microqlima Records, who released that year’s Séquences EP. They followed that up with their full-length debut Matahari, which featured “Erreur 404,” a song they performed on French TV show Quotidien. Now, if you were frequenting this site last year, you may recall that I wrote about “Voodoo?,” a slinky disco strut featuring a propulsive groove, layers of arpeggiated synths, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar and Benguigui’s sultry, come-hither vocals.

Directed by Aube Perrie, the recently released video stars L’Impératice’s Flore Benguigui and is set in an alternate universe in which she kills every man in her path during a potential extraterrestrial event. She later figures out a way to have her headless victims dance and play instruments — all while she collects more victims. Visually the new video makes playful references to Mars Attacks!, horror movies and Warren G among other things.

The French act’s highly anticipated sophomore album, the L’Impératrice and Renaud Letang co-produced Taku Tsubo is slated for a March 26, 2021 release through their longtime label home. Interestingly, the album derives its name from the medical term for broken heart syndrome takutsubo syndrome (蛸 壺, from Japanese “octopus trap”). The condition usually manifests itself as deformation of the heart’s left ventricle caused by severe emotional or physical stress — i.e., the death of a loved one, an intense argument with someone you care about, a breakup, a sudden illness or the like. And while the condition can occur in men and women of any age, it primarily affects older women.

“Peur des Filles,” Tako Tsubo’s latest single is a shimmering disco floor strut, centered around a sinuous bass line, atmospheric synth arpeggios, squiggling funk guitar, an infectious hook and Benguigui’s sultry come-hither vocals. But underneath the slickly produced dance floor friendly vibes, the song is a scathingly sarcastic ode to femininity and the differences between men and women. “Vive le difference! But be careful of those men folk, they’re afraid of strong and confident women,” the song’s narrator seems to say to its listeners.

New Video: Wax Tailor Teams Up with Mark Lanegan on a Brooding and Cinematic Single and Visual

Vernon, Normandy, France-based DJ, producer Jean Christophe Le Saoût is an acclaimed producer and DJ who can trace his career back to the 90s: After a stint as a radio host in the Paris suburb, Mantes-La-Jolie, Le Saoût founded La Formule. In 1998 Le Saoût founded Lab’Oratoire Records and continued to produce material from La Formule, as well as Break Beat compilations and a collaboration with Swedish act Looptrop.

The Vernon, Normandy-based producer and DJ started the critically acclaimed symphonic, trip-hop solo recording project Wax Tailor in 2001, first appearing on a remix of Looptroop and La Formule’s “Deep Under Water.” Since then Le Saoût has released five, critically acclaimed full-length albums — 2005’s Tales of the Forgotten Melodies, 2007’s Hope & Sorrow, 2009 In The Mood For Life and 2016’s By Any Means Necessary — which found the French producer collaborating with an eclectic and diverse array of artists from all over the world.

Le Saoût’s sixth Wax Tailor album The Shadow of Their Suns is slated for release tomorrow. The album is the French producer’s first bit of new material in five years — and album continues his long-held reputation for collaborating with a diverse and eclectic array of artists, with the album featuring guest spots from D. Smoke, Rosemary Standley, Gil Scott-Heron, Del The Funky Homosapien, Mr Lif, Yugen Blakrock, Boog Brown, and JOVM mainstays Adeline and Mark Lanegan.

The Shadow of Their Suns’ material comes as a result of a lengthy period of deliberate and deep introspection inspired by a desire to truly observe and understand life in a way that’s impossible while living in the whirlwind of it all. And considering the horrible events of yesterday, an album that encourages observation, reflection, collaborative discussion, cooperation and collective action seems more urgent than ever.