Category: Video Review

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Genesis Owusu Returns with Breakneck “SURVIVOR”

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’d know that I’ve managed to spill copious amounts of virtual ink covering the acclaimed, multi-ARIA Award-winning Ghanian-born, Canberra-based JOVM mainstay Genesis Owusu

The acclaimed Aussie JOVM mainstay’s sophomore album STRUGGLER was released earlier this year through OURNESS/AWAL. Where Smiling With No Teeth thematically uncovered one Black man’s battles against — and with — depression and racism, STRUGGLER is reportedly an exploration of the chaos and absurdity of life, our ability to endure and how to get through it all. The album’s material is deeply inspired by a close friend hitting the brink and coming through the other side, along with questions of life and beauty that he found himself contemplating during readings of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis

Recorded between the States and Australia, STRUGGLER‘s producers traverse musical genres — and includes Jason Evigan, who has worked with RUFUS DU SOL and SZAMikey Freedom Hart, who worked on Jon Batiste’s 2021 Grammy of the Year Album, We AreSol Was, who worked on Beyoncé’Renaissance; and Owusu’s long-time collaborators and producers Andrew Klippel and Dave Hammer.

Additionally, Owusu has collaborated with acclaimed Kiwi-based Lisa Reihana on the album’s complete visual identity. Reihana’s work has been showcased in elite institutions throughout the States and the EU, including the Venice Biennale for her critically-acclaimed video installation, In Pursuit of Venus [Infected]. Her work spans across a diverse of media — including film, costume and body adornment and video installation, and as a result she has earned a reputation as a world-renowned artist and producer, who engages in thought-provoking dialogues around the concept of culture. 

I’ve managed to write about three of he album’s singles:

  • Leaving the Light,” an urgent ripper that begins with a spine-crawling run of bass notes before quickly morphing into breakneck sFreedom of Choice-era DEVO-like anthem paired with the JOVM’s swaggering, larger-than-life presence and his unerring knack for rousing, shout along worthy choruses. “Leaving the Light” is a cathartic song about survival and perseverance that feels necessary in a mad, mad, mad world.
  • The Sol Was-produced “Tied Up!,” a swaggering and funky bop built around a propulsive stomp, swirling and warped funk guitar and wobbling bass synths paired with the JOVM mainstay’s forceful delivery. The song speaks of the struggle of getting by in an uneasy, insane world and desperately holding onto yourself as best as you can in the process. 
  • Stay Blessed” is a breakneck, mosh pit friendly anthem built around buzzing, angular guitar attack, rapid-fire beats paired with the JOVM mainstay’s punchy delivery. Much like the previously released singles, “Stay Blessed” speaks of survival and desperate resilience in a mad, mad, mad world that’s out to destroy you. 

Coming on the heels of his recent ARIA Award wins for Album of the Year, Best Independent Release and Best Hip-Hop/Rap Release for STRUGGLER — and just before his headlining December Australia tour, the JOVM mainstay closes out the year with a surprise release single “SURVIVOR,” which will be included as an additional track to his acclaimed sophomore album.

Built around a hook-driven, percussive and glitchy industrial meets trap music-inspired production “SURVIVOR” sees Owusu’s rapid-fire verses dart and ducking like a boxer deftly avoiding his opponent’s punches. Referencing Kafka’s Metamorphosis, the song’s narrator discusses the struggle to have hope in a desperate, fucked up world; the struggle to have confidence and self-worth in a world that constantly tells you that you ain’t shit and that you’ll never be worth shit; the endless sense of exhaustion and rage that you don’t quite know what to do with — and with the sort of unvarnished and uneasy honesty that Owusu has been known for. THE STORY NEVER ENDSTHE ROACH KEEPS ROACHINGTHROUGH SPACETIMEFIRE & BRIMSTONE,” Owusu says of the new single.

Directed by Lisa Reihana, the accompanying video for “SURVIVOR” is set in a post-apocalyptic world of fire and industrialism and features a regal Owusu leading and surrounded by a collection of choreographed dancers with a militaristic precision.

New Video: Finland’s Mere Stellar Shares a Sarcastic Examination of Contemporary Dating

Milja Inkeri is a Finnish singer/songwriter, who can trace her career back to 2007: She competed on that year’s Finnish Idol and reached the Top 24. And as a result of growing national attention, her covers series on YouTube amassed over two million organic views between 2006-2007. Inkeri also has had stints in Finnish bands Kailo and Antti Kokkomäki & Tammikuun Lapset. Additionally, she has collaborated with a number of projects both nationally and internationally, including Taiwanese shoegazers The Other and Finnish metal outfit Planeetta 9, along a growing list of others.

Inkeri is the creative mastermind behind the indie pop outfit Mere Stellar. Influenced by Kate Bush, Joanna Newsom and Radiohead, the Finnish artist’s new project sees her playfully meshing experimental electro pop with acoustic elements to create a sound that is at times quirky yet melancholic. The Finnish artist explains that “Mere Stellar is the creation of a free soul, who stopped caring about external rules and authorities of music . . ” and
“started to have fun with music again and speak her true soul’s voice — the pain, the joy, the channeling of healing.” Inkeri adds “Mere Stellar is the manifestation someone who held it inside and listened to others too much, who channels pure love, fun and crazy vibes.”

Inkeri’s latest Mere Stellar single, the recently released, woozy and hook-driven “The Crush Realm” pairs a looped sample of twinkling and arpeggiated keys, skittering beats, industrial clang and clatter with Inkeri’s plaintive and yearning delivery. While sonically seeming to channel a quirky synthesis of Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Kid A-era Radiohead, “The Crush Realm” is a lived-in, bittersweet and desperate examination of contemporary dating culture, in which everyone feels simultaneously desperate to find “the one” or “someone” but tacitly recognizes that everyone feels miserable and disposable. But she does so with a sarcastic, snaky sense of humor.

Directed by the Finnish artist, the accompanying video for “The Crush Realm” captures the desperation, uncertainty and quirky sarcasm at the hear of the song, as it follows Inkeri and a snail around a rather European-looking house.

New Video: Nailah Hunter Shares Ethereal and Hauntingly Gorgeous “Strange Delights”

Nailah Hunter is a Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, composer and folk artist, who can trace the origins of her musical journey to the church: As the daughter of a Belizean pastor, she played drums, guitar and sang in the choir.

Hunter continued to study music at CalArts, where she studied vocal performance and was given her first harp lesson. Associating the instrument with fantasy, psychedelia, and dream worlds, she became an immediate devotee, locking herself in a room for six hours a day to practice the instrument

The Los Angeles-based artist has been writing and recording mystical folk and ambient-inspired music since the release of her debut single, 2019’s “Apple, Maple, Willow.” She followed up with a series of singles and two EPs 2020’s Spells and 2021’s Quietude released through Leaving Records. Since then, Hunter signed with Fat Possum, who will be releasing her highly-anticipated full-length debut, the Cicely Goulder-produced Lovegaze on January 12, 2024.

To create Lovegaze‘s material, Hunter went to a small coastal city along the English Channel, where she began recording demos with a borrowed Celtic harp. After being introduced to London-based producer Cicely Goulder, the Los Angeles-based artist returned to England the following year to further develop the album’s material.

Written alongside collaborator Ben Lukas Boysen, Lovegaze is reportedly an enthralling album that draws listeners into her enchanting cosmology while being rooted in the audible and palpable emotionality in her delivery.

Hunter’s full-length debut is reportedly an enthralling album that draws listeners into her enchanting cosmology. “I was crying when I recorded those vocals,” she says. “While I was writing Lovegaze, I was thinking about humanity’s propensity to destroy the things we love,” Hunter says. “I was thinking about ancient ruins and structures that once provided shelter but no longer do. There’s beauty to be found in ruins, too.” Sonically, the album evokes the eternal with Hunter’s harp being accompanied by an electronic palette created in the studio with Goulder.

Written during a period of global and personal strife for the Los Angeles-based artist, Lovegaze manages to capture some of that sense of distress, but it’s also a willful reminder of the fortitude and beauty of Earth’s natural processes. As Hunter says: “Nature remains; we’re the passing thing.” 

“Strange Delights,” Lovegaze‘s breathtakingly gorgeous second single pairs Hunter’s expressive and soulful delivery with an eerie Portishead-meets-Tales of Us-era Goldfrapp-like production featuring twinkling harp, woozily atmospheric synths and skittering beats. While featuring contemporary electronic elements, “Strange Delights” feels timeless and evokes a sense of breathless awe.

“‘Strange Delights’ started as an improv over a modular synth loop that my partner made,” Hunter explains. “At the time, we were burning a bunch of incense in a dark room, which served as inspiration for the wandering vocal melody. Once I worked on it with producer Cicely Goulder, ‘Strange Delights’ took on a more golden quality that reminds me of a hazy and intoxicated feast in a peculiar, yet familiar wood.”

The accompanying video by Haoyan of America is a computer generated visual that follows a crocodile with glowing eyes swimming past the broken down remains of human civilization — rusted cars, dilapidated factories, broken ruins of buildings and more. As the video slowly pans out, we see a collection of crocodiles with glowing eyes swimming over what used to be a supermarket.

“The idea for ‘Strange Delights’ was developed through conversations with Nailah and inspired by her interest in crocodilian ‘tapetum lucidum’ (Latin for “shining layer”), a biologic reflector system common in the eyes of vertebrates that give them enhanced night vision,” Haoyan of America explains. “The visual arc takes cues from the song’s musical progression and highlights contrasting evolutionary ecologies.”

New Video: We Melt Chocolate Shares Trippy Visual for Dreamy “Holy Ramen”

Florence-based shoegazers We Melt Chocolate can trace their origins back to the fusion of two different bands evanicetrip and Shades of Blue back in 2012. Since then, the Italian band over a handful of releases that includes a self-released demo, and an EP and their full-length debut through Annibale Records has firmly cemented a sound and approach that equally draws from the noisier side of shoegaze — i.e.,  My Bloody ValentineLush, and even The Sugarcubes

The band has opened for a number of internationally renowned bands including The ShivasHoly WaveThe Asteroid No. 4, The Underground YouthHis ClancynessMagic ShoppeYour 33 Black Angels and GIFT among a growing list of others. 

Holy Gaze, the Florence-based outfit’s highly anticipated and long awaited sophomore album was released earlier this year through Miracle Waves and features guest spots from Francesco D’Elia, Rev Rev Rev‘s Sebastian Lugli and Sensitive Club‘s Ben Moro. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “No Meaning Man,” a song that alternates between dreamy and stormy passages built around a relentless motorik groove, layers of distorted and fuzzy guitar textures, shimmering synths, thunderous drumming paired with reverb-soaked vocals buried within the oceanic mix. Thematically, the song speaks of disillusionment with superficial people, who base their entire lives on appearances and conceal their vapidity and lack of empathy towards others. 

“Holy Ramen,” Holy Gaze‘s latest single showcases the Italian outfit at their dreamiest to date — with the song featuring swirling Slowdive and A Storm in Heaven-like guitar textures paired with a driving rhythm section and yearning, ethereal vocals. 

The band explains that “Holy Ramen” is an exhortation to overcome daily difficulties, look at the sky and allow yourself a special, sacred moment just for you. “For us (particularly for the singer), one of these moments is indulging in a good hot ramen.” The band goes on to say that for them, “it is the simplest moments that become sacred.”

The accompanying video fittingly seems inspired by 120 Minutes-era MTV and feature some lushly shot visuals of a bowl of ramen being prepared and then serving as a mind-bending backdrop for the band — both while performing and even enjoying a comforting meal of the stuff, often while the sky races behind them.

New Video: Aloysius Bell Shares Dreamily Mischievous and Introspective “That Is Me”

Aloysius Bell is the creative alter ego of Winnipeg-born, Montréal-based singer/songwriter and indie pop artist Annick Brémault, a former member of the now defunct Juno Award-winning outfit Chic Gamine. With Chic Gamine, Brémault toured extensively internationally and appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, Vinyl Café, Radio Canada’s Studio 12 and a number of other notable broadcasts. She has also collaborated and performed with an array of artists including Damien Robitaille, Willows, Sala, and David Myles

While the project’s name is a nod to male pseudonyms of the Brontë Sisters, the persona is informed by deep and intense soul-searching with the aim to shed light on murky, in-between spaces.

Back in 2019, Brémault stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with “Mountains” and “Your Heart Is Feathers” songs offered a glimpse into the Canadian artist’s introspective world and showcasing an ethereal, opened-eyed perceptive, imaginative and atmospheric pop language and a minimalist prose style.

Brémault’s long-awaited Aloysius Bell debut EP, the David Plowman-produced Warm Thing is slated for February 2024 release. The EP reportedly sees her blending her distinctive songwriting with pop, R&B and electronic influences with her ethereal delivery being at center of it all.

Warm Thing‘s latest single “That Is Me” is a slow-burning and atmospheric pop song built around fluttering synth arpeggios, Bréamult’s ethereal delivery singing deeply introspective lyrics informed by the deeply lived-in, personal experience, thoughts and feelings of a modern woman maneuvering competing societal norms and roles.

“I wrote this song in late 2021, in my bedroom-turned-studio during a cold snap. I remember looking at the painting on my wall, by the artist Louise Gill, of a woman lying alone on a bed in a dark room and thinking, “That is me,’ right now. I was feeling cozy and nothing could induce me to go out at that point. I remembered the times I’d gone out despite not feeling like it and ended up disappointed. ‘That Is Me’ reimagines myself the way I wish I’d been in my 20s: not wasting my time trying to please other people and instead doing what feels good to me.

This song is about one other thing: rest. I’m trying to get better at it, taking breaks and naps.”

Directed and shot on Super 8 by Montréal-based filmmaker Dominique Montesano and featuring choreography by the artist’s sister Kalliane Brémauult, the video follows Annick Brémault as she returns home, goes up the stairs, gets undressed and gets into her bed.

“I started putting out music with this project in 2019. Those songs were the result of a tumultuous time, so they have an intense kind of energy to me. The pandemic gave me a breather and what I wrote in that period feels a bit more relaxed and less fraught,” the Montréal-based artist continues. She goes on to add that the song — and its accompanying video — showcases a lot of bedroom imagery, since it was written and partially produced in her bedroom.

New Video: Ghostly Kisses Shares Cinematic Visual for Swooning and Ethereal “Golden Eyes”

Québec City-based singer/songwriter Margaux Sauvé is the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed Canadian electro pop project Ghostly Kisses. The project derives its name from William Faulkner’s “Une ballade des dames perdues,” which seemed to her like the perfect reflection of her ethereal voice. 

Sauvé has received attention both nationally and international for crafting hauntingly gorgeous and spectral electro pop that pairs her ethereal vocal with moody productions featuring gently swirling and ambient electronics, twinkling keys and propulsive drumming. 

Her latest single, the swooning “Golden Eyes” sees her channeling Goldfrapp and Portishead with the song pairing skittering, UK garage beats, atmospheric house-inspired synths with her ethereal yet achingly yearning delivery. 

Sauvé explains the track is “about being in love with your best friend and how gauche it feels to finally admit it. The lyrics were inspired by a revelation from a fan we met on tour, about how hard and vertiginous it can be to express our true feelings to someone that we really love.” While party about Sauvé’s own experience falling in love with her songwriting partner Louis-Étienne Santais, the song is also inspired by Ghostly Kisses’ ‘Box of Secrets’ project, where fans submitted anonymous stories to the band.

Directed by Gerardo Alcaine, the accompanying video begins with Sauvé being the subject of an intimate photo shoot before following her across the Québec countryside in some gorgeously cinematic footage. Sauvé and her songwriting partner Louis-Étienne Santais say, “We aimed to create a visual journey, inviting viewers into a crimson-hued world and a perspective framed by a lens, offering a subtle preview of the new dimension to come in our upcoming releases.”

New Video: Beach Ready Shares Dreamy and Meditative “Gili”

Christopher Cordoba is a London-based instrumental solo artist, composer and session musician, whose career started in earnest as a member of Jack Adaptor, a band formed with The Family Cat’s Paul Frederick. As an instrumental solo artist, Cordoba has released a series of critically acclaimed, eclectic efforts that has seen him collaborating with a an equally eclectic array of artists and producers including Robert Wyatt David Watson, The Associates’ Billy Mackenzie, Phil Vinall, Propaganda’s Claudia Brucken, Robyn Hitchcock, Pascal Gabriel, PJ Harvey’s Terry Edwards, Audrey Riley, Alex Thomas, Charlie Winston and a list of others.

Cordoba released his sophomore Beach Ready Archipelago was released earlier this year through Snow in Water Records. The album’s material is darker in texture and more extreme than Cordoba’s self-titled Beach Ready debut while still being centered around Cordoba’s guitar work and penchant for atmospheric soundscapes. The album also sees Cordoba incorporating drone, glitch, Frippertronics, industrial, New Wave and New age to create a unique sound collage that imparts an urgent ambience. Fittingly, the album thematically focuses on destruction — an all too present theme in our seemingly pre-apocalyptic moment.

The album’s latest single, the meditative “Gili” is a shimmering and slow-burning dream built around glistening, reverb-soaked guitars, gently glitchy electronics paired with jazz-like percussion. It’s a dreamy bit of nostalgia, heartache and peaceful longing that seems like a bit of a respite in a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

Cordoba explains that “Gili” “is a shimmering and romantic call to keep the Archipelago (the Gili Islands in Indonesia) above water so that its beauty can be treasured for generations to come.”

The accompanying video is time-lapse footage shot in Lower Manhattan and edited by Jon Sadlier. Fittingly, the video evokes the unending passing of time and cycling of the seasons.

New Video: People Museum Share Mournful “Relic”

New Orleans-based JOVM mainstays People Museum — currently co-founders Claire Givens (vocals), Jeremy Phipps (trombone), Aaron Boudreaux (drums, keys) and Charles Lumar II (bass, tuba) — have established a sound that draws from pop music and the rich and lush musical and cultural roots of their hometown.

Additionally, each of the members of People Museum has an eclectic upbringing that informs their fresh take on electro pop:

  • Claire Givens grew up in the woods of North Louisiana and has a background in choral and sacred music.
  • Aaron Boudreaux grew up in Acadia and has spent the better part of a decade as a film composer with Maere Studios for a decade while touring the world as a member of a Grammy-nominated French Creole band. While touring with Tamino earlier this year, he was approached to write songs and score an upcoming film with acclaimed studio A24.
  • Jeremy Phipps has been a New Orleans brass band staple since he was a kid, and Charles Lumar II have toured as a member of Solange‘s backing band for years.

Sonically, the JOVM mainstays work has ranged from haunting to joyfully cathartic and dance floor friendly and rooted in a sound that meshes electro pop soundscapes with ethereal vocals and New Orleans brass.

People Museum’s long-awaited sophomore album Relic was released earlier this month. Thematically, the album sees the band exploring and unpacking their growing anxieties about climate change and preservation, the sense of communion rooted in their hometown’s deep cultural history, family and aging among others. Fittingly, the album is a poignant love letter to their hometown. And while the majority of the album focuses on the external relationships with our environment and others, at points the album does turn inward.

The album’s latest single, album title track “Relic” is a slow-burning and meditative ballad featuring a mournful reverb-soaked horn line, a steady yet forceful backbeat, fluttering and arpeggiated synths and buzzing and wobbling bass synths paired with Givens plaintive and ethereal delivery. Sonically bringing SoftSpot and KINLAW to mind, “Relic” according to the JOVM mainstays tells the bittersweet story of two lovers, who are consciously parting ways, but cherishing the memories they’ve shared while acknowledging that there’s a happier version of themselves to discover beyond the relationship. The sentiment also manages to mirror their relationship and kinship with their hometown: After being forced to evacuate during the storms, they still felt an unwavering loyalty and devotion, which the band’s Claire Givens has described as “If I can’t go back. I will be forever be imprinted with the life I lived here.” Certainly, as a native New Yorker, I can understand and empathize with that deeply.

Directed by Nicholas Ashe Bateman and conceptualized by Bateman and People Museum’s Givens, the accompanying video features the band’s members bathed in golden light with what appears to be moonlight glistening on water behind them.

New Video: Heartafiya Shares Sleek and Yearning “Don’t Leave Me”

Barbadian-born California-based reggae artist Heartafiya is well known within the global reggae scene for pairing thoughtful, earnest lyrics with soulful music. His latest single, the dance floor and lounge friendly “Don’t Leave Me” features a sleek, percussive Afrobeats-influenced riddim paired with Heartafiya’s yearning delivery and a remarkably catchy chorus.

The California-based reggae artist’s latest single reveals a songwriter, whose songwriting seems rooted in lived-in, personal experiences with the song exploring the depths of love while baring the raw feelings of fear of loss, despair and hope.

The accompanying video features a collection of gorgeous sisters wining and grooving to the remarkably catchy, hook-driven bop.

New Audio: Dublin’s SPRINTS Share Cathartic and Deeply Personal “Shadow Of A Doubt”

Formed back in 2019, Dublin-based punks SPRINTS — Karla Chubb (vocals, guitar), Colm O’Reilly (guitar), Jack Callan (drums) and Sam McCann (bass) — have developed and crafted an abrasive brand of punk rock, influenced by early PixiesBauhausSiousxie SiouxKing GizzardSavages, and LCD Soundsystem

Their first two EP’s, 2021’s Manifesto and last year’s A Modern Job were released to rapturous praise from UK music outlets like DIYThe GuardianNMELoud & QuietDork, and Clash. They also received airplay from BBC Radio 1 and BBC 6 Music.

Building upon a growing profile, the Irish punk band’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Letter To Self is slated for a January 5, 2024 release through City Slang Records. According to the band’s Karla Chubb, the album “is a deeply personal and autobiographical lyrically and in its key themes, while sonically it explores a space inspired by our love of early 80s gothic, 90s noises rock and more modern influences. It revisits our most vulnerable moments and imbues them with visceral garage-punk. It aims to take the things that are considered inherently negative – feelings of anxiety, anger and rage, and turning them into a positive. Using our experiences to fuel us and pouring them into a positive outlet. It’s cathartic, it’s honest, it’s raw.” While pain is used to fuel growth, at its core, the album is rooted in a message of self-acceptance. 

Recorded in France’s Loire Valley with Gilla Band‘s Daniel Fox over the course of 12 days, Letter to Self will feature previously released singles “Adore Adore Adore,” “Literary Mind” and its lead single “Up and Comer,” an earnest and furious ripper built around buzzing power chords, thunderous drumming and mosh pit friendly hooks paired with Chubb’s feral delivery. Thematically “Up and Comer” tackles imposter syndrome — through the perspective of embittering, lived-in, fairly universal experiences and feelings, which gives the song a cathartic air for anyone, who has felt like an imposter in their life.

“Shadow Of A Doubt,” Letter To Self‘s latest single begins with a lengthy and atmospheric slow-burn of an introduction pairing glistening and angular guitar bursts and Chubb’s emotive vocal that gradually builds up into an explosive, swirling and fuzzy power chord-driven climax before a slow-burning and atmospheric coda. The song manages to evoke a spiraling descent into dark madness with the immediacy of someone who has actually lived it — and survived to tell their story.

“‘Shadow Of A Doubt’ is our most vulnerable moment to date,” SPRINTS’ Karla Chubb explains. “It very bluntly deals with the experience of trauma, depression and the aftermath. It was written quite selfishly –  to take the weight of some of those feelings off myself by placing them on a page in an attempt to feel like I was healing, or ridding myself of them. An entirely cathartic process.

“The slow and intensifying build, the crashing drums, swirling guitars and chaotic climax all symbolize that pure terrifying fall into darkness, and the almost silent call for help. It’s the feeling of loneliness, abandonment and exile. It’s shouting out into the void and thinking everyone can hear you, but they can’t.

The vocal was recorded in three takes with jagged breaths and some misstepped lyrics purposefully left in. Here, we felt emotion was more important than perfection.”

Directed by Ellius Grace, the accompanying video for “Shadow Of A Doubt,” begins with the seemingly comatose and disaffected members of SPRINTS in a bare room with bandaged doctors checking in on them, and handing them their instruments. As the song builds up, the band members become more alive. By the time, the song reaches its explosive climax, everyone involved has descended into madness.