Category: Video Review

New Video: Marfa, Texas’ Wilderman Releases Trippy, Random Generated Visuals for Polyrhythmic, Hook Driven New Single

Marfa, Texas is a small and extremely remote Western Texas town, a short distance from the American-Mexican border, and unsurprisingly the town is about as far as one can get  — both metaphorically and literally — from the costal tech capitals. Singer/songwriter Rob Gugnor and his partner Simone Rubi relocated to Marfa in 2013, where the y started a decidedly lo-fi cafe Do Your Thing, where the patient customer will reportedly be rewarded with some of the finest coffee in the Southwest; but perhaps more important to this site, Gugnor is known as the creative mastermind of the Marfa-based recording project Wilderman. 

Ironically, despite Gugnor’s  geographical and physical remove from the major tech capitals, his recently released Wilderman album Artifice deals with the increasing and confusing rift between lived experience and its digital approximation. As Gugnor explains at length in press notes:

“I started this record 5 years ago, seeking to explore the impact of technology on our psyche and the new human experience. Since beginning this process, I’ve found more value in the time away from screens, but I’m starting to view it as a luxury. Screen time is unavoidable now. Social media numbers are important. We can’t opt out of the game. In this time span, we’ve seen how information can be manipulated for our feeds. Digital perception has relativized everything to the point of insanity. Empathy is nearly impossible. K*vanaugh, Tr*mp, Milo Whatever His Name Was, digital bullying, flat-earthers. Life is now lived in the digital space. Identity and truth are shapeshifting and amorphous.

I would like to say that I found some hope in digging deep into the digital, but I’ve actually become complacent, and I think we all have. I was hoping to be a whistleblower, but it will mostly fall on deaf ears. We are in a stadium full of people, screaming to be heard. And yet everyone has headphones on and screens up, filtering through the noise to only consume the content they curate for themselves. Art is content. Tragedy is content.

But I still dream that we can remember ourselves, empathy, the human touch – it’s in the songs.

I hope that this album will somehow lead the listener back to a version of themselves that’s in the here and now, without comparison to others, without self-judgment.

It’s a mirror that can also be a gateway to another reality, the one we used to live in.”

Gungor and a backing band featuring some of Marfa’s best musicians — Wye Oak’s Andy Stack, The Brilliance’s John Arndt, Gungor’s Grammy-nominated brother Michael, Midlake’s McKenzie Smith Jeremy Harris, and Andrew McGuire, along with engineer Hugo Nicholson, who has worked with Radiohead, Father John Misty and Primal Scream decamped to Sonic Ranch, a studio in the Chihuahuan Desert, just outside the border town of Tornillo, to start the jam sessions that would eventually turn into the material on Artifice. Chosen in part, because important records by Animal Collective, Beach House, The Mountain Goats, Swans and others were recorded on their premises, the album sonically is influenced by the work of David Byrne and Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Paul Simon’s Graceland and Donald Judd’s permanently installed works. Unsurprisingly, Remain in Light and Graceland were used as a blueprint with live improvised material being recorded with the idea that Gugnor would later recombine and rearrange these sounds into fleshed out songs. It’s a decided and radical change in sound and songwriting approach from his 2013 Wilderman debut Learn to Feel, which was recorded completely in an analog fashion.  

The album’s latest single “Cog” is a funky, polyrhythmic, sinuous hook-driven jam centered around a looped, shimmering guitar line, a buoyant bass line, shimmering and sharply arpeggiated synths — and while recalling Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel 3, Security and So-era Peter Gabriel, the song is rooted in the current sociopolitical moment, suggesting that technology has caused us to lose our humanity to the point that we’re cogs in a larger, economically driven machine that will destroy us all. But throughout the song’s narrator is demanding that we resist it, that we remember and honor the individual moving to the beat of their own drum.

The accompanying visuals are the result of a new training methodology for generative adversarial networks — in this case, a random number generator came up with imaginary celebrities that look like real ones. What’s real and what’s digitally generated? Is it your memory or a distortion? It’s trippy and disconcerting. 

Advertisements

New Video: Up-and-Coming El Paso Band Sleepspent Releases 120 Minutes-Inspired Visuals for “Come Smile With Me”

Currently comprised of founding member Austin North (vocals, guitar) with Cecilia Otero (bass) and Josh Mendoza (drums), the El Paso, TX-based indie rock/dream pop trio Sleepspent can trace their origins back to when it founding member returned from school in San Diego and started the band with friend and co-writer Aaron Quintalla. Although they’ve gone through a lineup change that has the band as a trio, since their formation, the members of Sleepspent have quickly become one of El Paso’s best, up-and-coming bands; in fact, locally they’ve become one of the area’s go-to bands, opening for a variety of nationally recognized touring bands. And from “Come Smile With Me,” off the El Paso-based band’s Chris Common-produced debut EP It’s Better If You Don’t Speak Or Think, released earlier this year through Slow Start Records, the young band specializes in a sound that draws from shoegaze, dream pop and indie rock. “That can be heard in the alternate tunings used throughout our music as well as the melodic chord progressions and melodies,” the band’s Austin North says in press notes.
Although sonically speaking some of my colleagues may describe the band’s sound as being reminiscent of The Cure and The Smiths, the band’s sound bit reminds me of Forever So and Ruckers Hill-era Husky as the young Texans walk a difficult tightrope between technical craft and earnest emotionality.

The recently released video stars the band’s Austin North returning home to a house party and kicking everyone out of the house — and in some way, the video recalls 120 Minutes-era MTV. As North explains in press notes, “The video involves me kicking people out of a party. It kind of replicates the contrast that the song has. Sonically, it makes sense to soundtrack a house party, but lyrically it is much more introspective and contemplative than a stereotypical party track. The lyrics involve sleep and silence, and so it feels appropriate to showcase the song with the end of a party, when one is exhausted and just wants to rest.”
 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay REMI teams up with Black Milk, Razia Biza, and Baro on Upbeat Yet Politically Charged “Runner”

Over the course of late 2016 through last year, I had written quite a bit about the Melbourne, Australia-based emcee REMI, and as you may recall, along with his producer, DJ and longtime collaborator, Sensible J, the duo rose to national prominence with 2014’s critically and commercially successful  effort Raw X Infinity, an album that was named  Triple J‘s Album of the Week and the Independent Hip Hop Album of the Year by the Australian Independent Record Association, and received international attention from OkayAfrica, JUICE, laut.de, NPR’s All Things Considered, and several others. Adding to a growing national and international profile, the Melbourne-based emcee was named “Australian Breakthrough Artist of the Year” and as a result the duo wound up touring nationally and internationally with Danny Brown, Vic Mensa, De La Soul, Joey Bada$$ and Damon Albarn.

2016 saw the release of the duo’s critically applauded full-length Divas and Demons, an album that revealed a supremely talented emcee and adept lyricist and storyteller, whose stories possessed an earnest, soul-baring honesty.  Now, it’s been some time since I’ve personally written about the Melbourne-based emcee; but recently he released a collaborative EP Black Hole Sun that finds him teaming up with Hamilton, New Zealand-based Raiza Biza, Sampha the Great, Black Milk who contributes production, and Sensible J, who mixed and curated the entire affair. The EP’s latest single “Runner” is a collaboration that features the duo teaming up with fellow Melbourne-based emcee Baro — and the track find the trio rhyming over an upbeat production that’s centered around thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, explosive hi-hat and a looped flute sample and an infectious hook; but unlike their previous work, the track finds the collaborators spitting fiery and incisive bars about racism, racist stereotypes and fears; deception and bullshit by teachers and political leaders, while being defiantly and boldly pro-black. 

Directed by Tig Terera, the recently released video is primarily centered around the trio’s exploits breaking into a closed shopping mall and then a closed hair salon and while shot in a way that brings the trio’s friendship to light, it allows each individual artist to shine in a variety of scenes. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Limiñanas Team up with Peter Hook on the Shimmering “The Gift”

Over the past couple of years I’ve written a bit about the Perpignan, France-based psych rock duo The Limiñanas, and as you may recall the duo have become one France’s most renowned indie acts, thanks in part for a sound that draws from psych rock, shoegaze, and yé-yé, centered around arrangements featuring fuzzy, distorted power chords, reverb heavy hooks and effortlessly cool vocals. And much like fellow countrymen La Femme, their sound is heavily indebted to 60s American guitar rock and psych rock — while managing to capture something  quintessentially French.

The last 18 months or so have been very busy for the French duo, as they released the Istanbul Is Sleepy EP, an effort that was initially recorded at their home studio and finished it at Anton Newcombe‘s Berlin-based studio. Of course,  The Brian Jonestown Massacre founder and frontman,contributed his imitable vocals and guitar playing to the scuzzy, garage rock stomper and EP title track “Istanbul Is Sleepy” which was reportedly influenced by Rain-era The Cult. Earlier this year, the duo released the Shadow People LP and the album finds the renowned French duo collaborating with a number of folks including French actress Emmanuelle Seigner and Renaud Picard, the frontman of Hair and the Iotas on the meditative and hazy “Shadow People,” Bertrand Belin on the chilly and menacing, synth-based  “Dimanche.” Adding to a very busy 18 months, Because Music will be releasing I’ve Got Trouble in Mind, Vol. 2, The Limiñanas’ second collection of rare recordings, 7 inch singles and unreleased material on November 16, 2018; but in the meantime. the duo released a video for “The Gift,” off Shadow People, a single that features the imitable and unforgettable bass playing of Peter Hook.  Interestingly — or perhaps I should say unsurprisingly — the track sounds like the perfect amalgamation of Hook’s most beloved New Order work with the renowned French duo’s effortlessly cool take on psych rock. “We wrote and recorded ‘The Gift’ at home in Cabestany and then finished it Berlin at Anton Newcombe’s studio,” explains Marie. “I’m pretty sure you’ll recognise Peter Hook’s lead bass. He’s been one of our heroes for a very long time.”  (I’ve Got Trouble in Mind, Vol. 2 features Anton Newcombe’s mix of the song, so in some way this video is something of a teaser for the compilation.) 

Directed by longtime collaborator Aurélien Richter, the recently released video is decidedly French New Wave-inspired and continues a run of incredibly cinematic accompanying visuals. Unsurprisingly, the video features Foulke de Boixo in a prominent role, and as the duo explains “The video reflects on high school years in gangs; the mods, the skins, the rockabs and the rudeboys smoking cigarettes while hanging in the schoolyard. ‘The Gift’ looks at what’s happened to two of these people over the years and how they may have missed out on a lifelong love story.”

New Video: Dire Wolves’ Ambient and Trance-Inducing Sounds and Visuals

During the early part of last year, I wrote a bit about the Bay Area-based psych pop/free jazz/indie rock quintet Dire Wolves, and as you might recall, the band, which is currently comprised of Sheila Bosco (drums), Brian Lucas (bass), Kelly Ann Nelson (vocals, wooden flute), Jeffrey Alexander (guitar, wooden sax), Arjun Mendiratta (violin) and Georgia Carbone (vocals) have developed a reputation for both being remarkably prolific as they’ve released 12 full-length albums since forming back in 2008 — and for crafting deeply hypnotic music with a lysergic tinge. 

The Bay Area-based collective’s forthcoming album Paradisiacal Mind is slated for release in November — and the album’s latest single “Unfettered and Alive” is a free-form and improvised track centered around winding guitar lines, angular string arrangements and vocals meant to induce a trance-like state. Naturally, the track will further cement the Bay Area-based band’s reputation for crafting gauzy and trippy material meant to encourage you to delve deep into your mind’s eye. 

Directed by Andy Puls, the recently released video features trippy concentric and psychedelic patterns meant to push the viewer towards tripping out. 

New Video: Public Service Broadcasting’s Thoughtful Tribute to the RMS Titanic

Initially begun as the solo recording project of its founding member J. Willgoose, Esq. (guitar, banjo, stringed instruments, samplers, synths) back in 2009, the London-based instrumental prog rock act Public Service Broadcasting expanded to a duo with the addition of Wrigglesworth (drums, piano, electronic musical instruments) — and as a duo, they released an EP, 2012’s The War Room, and two full-length albums, 2013’s Inform-Educate-Entertain and 2015’s The Race for Space, which established their sound — expansive prog rock centered around sampled news programs, field recordings, found footage, old movies (particularly from the British Film Institute archives) and the like; in fact, the band’s The Race for Space, which thematically focused on the Space Race of the 1950s and 1960s may arguably be their most critically and commercially successful album — the album charted at #11 on the UK Independent Charts, before reaching #1 later that week.

The band’s third, full-length album, last year’s Every Valley found the band expanding to a trio with the addition of JF Abraham (lugelhorn, bass guitar, drums, vibraslap and others), while featuring guest vocals from Camera Obscura‘s Tracyanne Campbell, and thematically the album’s material focused on the coal mining industry’s rise and fall in the Welsh Valleys between the 1950s and 1980s. Now. if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months, you may recall that earlier this year, the newly constituted trio was commission by the BBC to write and record four new pieces, centered on the story of the RMS Titanic, which led to their soon-to-be released EP White Star Liner.

Slated for an October 26, 2018 release through Play It Again Sam Records, the EP thematically and sonically tells the story of the Titanic from its construction to its early, tragic, demise. Focusing on the perspectives of those who built and salted her, the EP will further the band’s reputation for crafting a unique audio-visual experience that provides a new and very different perspective on well-known events. As the band’s J. Willgoose, Esq. says in press notes “I thought it was an interesting challenge to tell the story of the ship’s construction as part of Belfast’s proud industrial history, the spirit of optimism of the pre-war age that she represented, and then an abstract and, I hope, respectful depiction of both the sinking of the ship (represented by the repeated Morse code distress call, C – Q – D) and the discovery of the wreck in 1985.”

The EP’s first official single is the breezy and hopeful motorik-like “White Star Liner,” which captures a sense of hopeful excitement as the completed ship is just about to set sail for America. There’s the sense of a world slowly unifying after a brutal war, of the possibility of increasing world travel meant for the economies of cities like Belfast and others, as larger and larger ships were built. And for a brief moment, the future seemed glorious and full of possibility. The recently released video features the band performing live, cut with the stock footage they use during their live shows. 

New Video: Acclaimed British Act Slaves Release a Blistering Take on Suburban Consumerism

With the release of their first two critically applauded and commercially successful albums — 2015’s Mercury Prize Top 10 nominated-Are You Satisfied and 2016’s UK Top Ten Take Control, the Royal Tunbridge, Wells, Kent, UK-based punk duo Slaves, comprised of Laurie Vincent (guitar, bass, vocals) and Issac Holman (vocals, drums) have developed a reputation for a sound that meshes elements of early British punk, garage rock and the blues. The band’s third full-length album Acts of Fear and Love was released earlier this year,  and it continues their run of commercially successful albums as it landed on the UK Top Ten — and the album’s title is inspired by a comment, once made by Issac Holman’s college teacher: “There’s no such thing as hate — just acts of fear and love.” And perhaps unsurprisingly, the album in some way reflects the fact that fear and love — primarily fear, may be the among the biggest and most constant motivators in the world at the moment. 

Acts of Fear and Love’s latest single “Magnolia” is a burst of blistering, 77 punk-influenced punk with enormous, arena rock-friendly hooks that’s centered around a sneering take down of bland, suburban consumerism — and a tongue-in-cheek tribute to boring and increasingly ubiquitous color, which has found its way into an overwhelming majority of UK homes. 

The recently released video for “Magnolia” finds the members of Slaves as house painters, painting houses in the bland color that equally bland people desiring in their suburban homes, emphasizing the household’s boring and empty life. And in some way, it’s a glimpse into the duo’s life if they didn’t pursue a career in music.  

New Video: Acclaimed Swiss Electro Duo Klaus Johann Grobe Releases Surreal and Feverish Visuals for Dance Floor Friendly Track “Out of Reach”

With the release of their Basel Prize-winning album Spagat der Liebe, the Swiss electro pop duo Klaus Johann Grobe, comprised of Sevi Landolt and Dani Bachmann quickly received national and international attention for a difficult to pigeonhole, genre-defying sound that meshes elements of electro pop, electronic dance music, komische and others while centered around slinky jazz fusion-like grooves. Adding to a growing profile, the duo with their live backing band have toured with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, The Growlers and Temples, and have made festival stops in the US, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Spain and their native Switzerland.

Last month, I wrote about the acclaimed Swiss duo, and as you may recall “Discodanken,” off the duo’s soon-to-be released album Bist So Symmetrisch managed to reveal a duo that’s expanded upon the sound that has won them national and international attention, as the song was a breezy arpeggiated synth-led track centered around a sinuous motorik groove and metronomic beats to create a hypnotic, dance floor friendly yet lysergic feel that brings to mind Vinyl Williams, Kraftwerk, Air, and Phoenix — with a retro-futuristic quality. Interestingly, Bist So Symmetrisch’s latest single “Out of Reach” may arguably be the album’s most dance floor friendly tracks, as its centered around a Kraftwerk-like motorik groove, a sinuous, disco-inspired bass line, arpeggiated synths and an infectious hook. Interestingly, the song manages to sound as though it were drawing from De Lux’s Scion AV Presents De Lux EP and Trans Europe Express-era Kraftwerk. 

Directed by  Ralph Kuehne and starring Patric Gehrig, Remo Seeland, Elvio Yair Avila Kai tha Boy, Regula Bühler and Kathrin Brun, the recently released video is a vividly surreal and feverish dream. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay San Mei Releases “Romeo and Juliet”-Inspired Visuals for “Heaven”

Throughout the past few years of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about Gold Coast, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Emily Hamilton and her acclaimed recording project San Mei, which began as a bedroom recording project but quickly received attention from this site and a number of major media outlets including NME, Indie Shuffle, NYLON and Triple J. Her San Mei debut EP Necessary found the Gold Coast, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist decidedly moving away from the bedroom recorded synth pop that first caught the attention of the blogosphere and towards organic instrumentation and a sound that immediately brings Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cat Power, Feist and others to mind.

Hamilton met songwriter, producer and musical phenom Oscar Dawson, who has worked with Holy Holy, Alex Lahey, Ali Barter, British India, Robbie Miller and Joyride at BIGSOUND last year, and the pair immediately hit it off. According to Hamilton, taking Dawson on as a producer and collaborator found the duo refining ideas, exploring different soundscapes and laying down the foundation for her — and in turn, San Mei’s — sonic progression. As Hamilton explains in press notes “[Dawson and I] hit it off straight away and it seemed like he understood where I was coming from, even if I had trouble conveying certain ideas in the demos I made at home.”

“Wonder” was the first single since the release of Necessary. Coincidentally “Wonder” was the first single off her forthcoming Heaven EP, which is slated for a November 2 release and interestingly, the single managed to be a subtle refinement of Hamilton’s sound and songwriting that found her creating radio friendly and arena rock friendly tracks, centered around a razor hooks, fuzzy shoegazer rock-like power chords and propulsive drumming — all while being incredibly earnest. “Heaven,” the EP title track is also the second and latest single of the EP, and its centered around layers of power chord-based guitar lines, four-on-the-floor drumming, Hamilton’s lush yet ethereal vocals, and shimmering synth lines.  And while the new track continues a run of arena rock friendly singles, it may arguably be the most shoegazer/dream pop-like track she’s written and released but underneath the song bristles with a bitter sense of frustration and dissatisfaction. In fact, as Hamilton says of the song, “This song is about when love is blind and it feels like heaven, but if you step back you can see things for what they really are. It’s about waking up to reality and letting go of something that’s going to end up causing harm, even if at first it felt like a dream.”

Directed by Somersault Visuals’ Jennifer Embleton, the recently released visuals for “Heaven” continues Hamilton’s ongoing collaboration with the director, and it’s an incredibly cinematic and swooning meet cute among strangers, that’s largely inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and Wong Kai Wai’s Chungking Express. As Hamilton explains in press notes, “The idea was to focus on the sweetness of the young love between two star-crossed lovers. Where the song itself can lean towards a more cautionary and even sad tale about love gone wrong, we wanted to keep the video light and the emphasis on the innocence and dreamlike state of the two lovers – the moment where they’re wrapped up in one another and it still feels like heaven (tying in with the lyrics in the chorus “did you think it was heaven?”). The story ends with them still in this surreal moment together before reality sets in to pull them apart.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Pavo Pavo Release Cinematic and Feverish Visuals for Achingly Gorgeous New Album Single

Over the past couple of years of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written a bit about the Brooklyn-based indie pop act Pavo Pavo, and as you may recall the band, which derives its name from the southern constellation Pavo (Latin for “peacock”) can trace its origins back to when its founding trio Eliza Bagg (vocals, violin and synths), Oliver Hill (vocals, guitar, synths) and Ian Romer (bass) met while studying at Yale University. And since their formation back in 2015, individual members of the band have collaborated with the likes of  Here We Go Magic, John Zorn, Dave Longstreth, Porches, Olga Bell, Lucius, Roomful of Teeth and San Fermin among others while the band has received attention both from this site and elsewhere for a retro-futuristic sound that draws from 60s psych pop, synth pop, prog rock and New Age.

Since the release of the band’s critically applauded debut album Young Narrator in the Breakers, the band has gone through a series of massive lineup changes as the band has become centered around two of its founding members — Oliver Hill and Eliza Bagg. Interestingly, much like Rubblebucket’s latest album, Pavo Pavo’s forthcoming (and long-awaited) sophomore album Mystery Hour is thematically and narratievly focused around the breakup of the duo’s six-year romantic relationship and the changing of their relationship; in fact, the album and its creative process began as a way for Hill and Bagg to process their breakup and what it meant both for them and the band — and in some way, it also became a feedback loop, influencing their separation and the new roles they would have in each other’s lives. And as result, the album manages to be a cinematic yet intimate mediation on relationships from different angles — but primarily on messy, incomplete endings between equally messy and incomplete people. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the album’s first official single, album title track “Mystery Hour” is an incredibly tight yet swooning pop song that recalls Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles, as its driven by a gorgeous orchestral arrangement, a soaring background choir arrangement, strummed acoustic guitar, and the duo’s haunting harmonies before a celestial fadeout; but the song is an acutely bittersweet and aching lament centered around the line “I realize love is to see every side of you/but mon cheri, I’m designed to be unsatisfied.” It’s a painfully sad reminder that eventually all things end — and we’re left to figure out some way to pick up the broken pieces and move forward. 

Directed by Harrison Atkins, the video is a vibrant and gauzy fever dream full of joy, ache, longing and regret in the wild and confusingly ambivalent mix that life throws at us. As Pavo Pavo’s Oliver Hill explains of the video’s treatment: “Our new record was written after Eliza and I were separating after a six–year relationship. For the title track, we wanted to make a video that introduced us as two characters meditating on relationships from all angles, while matching the romantic melodrama of the orchestra and choir with lots of cinematic action and narrative. John, the 7–foot protagonist of the video, is an angel of love and sex, and serves as a superhuman mascot for the record – he represents the search for intimacy and connection. The human heart tattoo on his neck is the core of his power, and within the tattoo lives us, Pavo Pavo, casting spells and guiding his movements as he makes out with everyone in sight.”

Mystery Hour is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings.