Category: Video Review

New Video: Icelandic Post-Punk Trio Fufanu Return with Surreal Sports-Themed Visuals for “Liability”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written about the Reykjavik, Iceland-based indie rock/post-punk trio Fufanu. And you may recall that the trio, which is currently comprised of founding members Kaktus Einarsson (vocals, guitar), whose father Einar, was a member of The Sugarcaubes and Guðlaugur “Gulli” Einarsson (guitar, programming) (no relation, by the way) along with Erling Bang (drums) can trace their origins to when the band’s founding members met while at school. According to the band’s founding duo, Katkus had glanced at Gulli’s iTunes and noticed that they had listened to a lot of the same techno and electronic music. Quickly bonding over mutual interests, the duo went into a studio and began writing and recording electronic music under the name Captain Fufanu. And within a month of their friendship and the project’s life, they had began to play shows in and around Reykjavik.

In a strange twist of fate, the studio where Kaktus Einarsson and Gulli Einarsson had recorded their full-length Captain Fufanu album was burgled. And as a result, the album they recorded was presumed lost. Instead of trying to call the material they initially wrote from memory, Kaktus Einarsson and Gulli Einarsson decided that the moment was a perfect time for them to completely reinvent their sound. Interestingly, at the time, Kaktus was in London working on Damon Albarn’s Everyday Robots and touring with Bobby Womack when he began writing lyrics. Simultaneously Gulli had started to create a revised sound, which managed to convey what Kaktus had been thinking at the time. The duo then added guitars and drums, along with Kaktus’ brooding and detached vocals — and with their revised sound, renamed themselves Fufanu.

Their first live set with their new sound and aesthetic was at Iceland Airwaves and they quickly became one of the most talked about bands of the entire festival. Building upon the buzz they had received, they went into the studio their full-length debut A Few More Days To Go. And with the release of their debut, the duo received a rapidly growing national and international profile as they toured with a number of internationally renowned acts including The Vaccines and have played at JaJaJa Festival. With their recently released sophomore effort Sports, Kaktus and Gulli recruited Erling “Elli” Bang (drums) to further flesh out their sound as they expanded upon it and its thematic direction.

Now you might remember that I wrote about Sports’ first single, album title track “Sports,” a single that retained the synth-driven sound that first captured national and international attention while pairing it with a tight, motorik-like groove reminiscent of Can, Neu! and Joy Division while nodding at Security-era Peter Gabriel. “Liability,” Sports‘ second single continues in a similar vein as the trio pair angular busts of guitar with shimmering synths that twist and turn through the mix, a sinuous bass line and a mid-tempo groove that nods at the techno that the project once was. However, much like “Sports” the single possesses a dark, enigmatic air while pointing out the mundanity, drudgery and banality of daily life; but just under the surface there’s a broiling frustration and resentment of someone wanting to break free and yet not knowing how to do so.

Co-directed by the members of Fufanu and Gabriel B. Bachmann, the recently released music video for “Liability” continues the sporting leitmotif the band introduced with the “Sports” video; however, the actual sports are reduced to a seemingly surrealistic abstraction in which the members of the band are competing against themselves.

New Video: Introducing Scotland’s Acrylic and Their Soaring and Anthemic Single “Coast”

Initially formed in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK and comprised of Andreas Christodoulidis, Ross Patrizio, Ruairidh Smith, Lewis Doig and Jack Lyall, the Glasgow-based indie rock quintet Acrylic specialize in an atmospheric and intricate psych rock — and with the release of singles like “Awake,” and “Overrun,” airplay on XFM Scotland, Amazing Radio and BBC Scotland and a sold-out, headline show at Glasgow’s Hug and Pint last month, the quintet have seen a rapidly growing national profile. And building upon the buzz that the band has been receiving, the band’s lated single “Coast,” produced by Paul Savage will further cement their burgeoning reputation for crafting brooding and atmospheric psych rock with anthemic hooks — although it possesses an unusual song structure in which there’s a short and dreamy introduction, a couple of short verses, a repeated refrain/chorus that brings in a series of dreamily atmospheric and soaring hooks in a fashion reminiscent to the likes of Foals and others.

Interestingly, as the band’s Ross Patrizio explains in press notes “‘Coast’ is Acrylic’s oldest song. We’ve had it in some form pretty much since the band started. Andreas [Christodoulidis] and I used to write songs separately, then bring them to the band, but this was the first we wore together, and so it’s always been on elf our favorites. It has a weird structure, and we don’t have any other songs like it. it’s definitely one of the most upbeat Acrylic song; it’s fun to play live.”

The recently released video begins with a man, presumably one of the band members bathing in one of the most gorgeous settings you can set your eyes in time elapsed footage, before cutting to the band performing the song in a studio/rehearsal space and ending with a time elapsed footage of the beach we were introduced to at the beginning of the video.

New Video: Live Footage of Wax Idols Performing Brooding and Anthemic “Deborah”

American Tragic’s single “Deborah” is a brooding, New Wave-leaning sound that much like “Lonely You” sounds like it’s been influenced by the likes of Concrete Blonde and Siouxsie and the Banshees, as the song is a brooding and atmospheric song in which Fortune’s plaintive vocals are paired with shimmering guitar chords, four-on-the-floor drumming, gentle layers of buzzing and ethereal synths and a sinuous bass line, and a spoken word-like bridge, while Fortune’s lyrics focuses on character, who is reeling from heartache and can’t figure out what to do next or how to move on — directly from the perspective of the song’s Deborah.

Filmed by producer Omar Acosta of Stretch and Bobbito fame, the recently released video for “Deborah” features footage of the band performing “Deborah” and other songs during sets in Oakland, CA and Los Angeles CA.

New Video: The Gorgeous and Brooding Visuals for BETS Shoegazer Rework of The Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun”

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the last two months or so, you’d recall that the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter BETS came to attention last year with the release of her critical applauded debut, Days Hours Night. Building upon the buzz of her debut, the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and her producer were set to write and record new, original material when the duo discovered that they shared a mutual love of Violent Femmes 1983 self-titled breakout debut effort. Reportedly, within a few minutes, BETS and her producer decided to put the sophomore effort of original material on hold to work on a Violent Femmes cover album in which she reimagines the familiar and beloved material.

In fact, as you’ll hear on BETS’ slow-burning, shoegazer rework of “Blister in the Sun” guitars are fed through layers of distortion, fuzz and feedback paired with gentle drumming and BETS’ dreamily distracted vocals, while pulling apart the song’s melody and chorus to the point of it being dimly recognizable and giving her version an ethereal moodiness.

Directed by Valerie Sute, the recently released video for BETS’ gauzy and dreamy rendition of “Blister in the Sun” begins with some glorious footage of New York City before following a young woman wandering through the desert brush — both by car and by foot with a brooding moodiness.

New Video: The Cinematic Visuals for Lee Fields and The Expressions “Special Night”

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring soul singer Lee Fields. Fields has had a nearly 50 year music career, which he can trace back to his first recorded efforts released back in 1969 — and as a result, he has toured with a number of nationally and internationally known acts including Kool and the Gang, O.V. Wright, Hip Huggers, and others. However, despite sharing bills with a number of renowned acts, Fields has largely toiled in a level of obscurity to most audiences with the exceptions of crate diggers seeking deep, funky grooves from the late 60s to mid 70s or so and obsessively completist soul music fans and record collectors. Fortunately for the likes of Fields, Sonny Knight, the late and utterly fantastic Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, the late, great Chuck Brown and others the soul music revival has allowed them to achieve a measure of attention and fame that had long eluded them — or in the case of both Chuck Brown and Sonny Knight, an opportunity to receive attention outside of their particular hometown. And along with that there have been an increasing number of contemporary acts and labels both nationally and internationally releasing new, original material that pushes what soul music should sound like and concern itself with thematically in very different directions.

Along with this latest backing band, The Expressions, which features some of New York’s finest soul musicians — members of the band have been members or have split time with the world famous Dap Kings, Charles Bradley’s backing bands The Extraordinaires and The Menahan Street Band and others — Fields captured the attention of the blogosphere and new fans with 2009’s My World, 2012’s Faithful Man and 2014’s Emma Jean through Truth and Soul Records. And with those three albums Fields and company increasingly pushed their overall sound and lyrical concerns in different directions — Emma Jean featured a gorgeous soulful cover of Leon Russell’s “Out In The Woods,” which managed to draw parallels to Fields’ own experience of arriving in New York as a 17 year-old with only $20 in his pocket and big dreams. Interestingly Fields’ fourth album with The Expressions Special Night mostly focuses on the intricacies of romantic and personal relationships with one exception — album single “Make The World.” a stomping, early 70s James Brown-indebted bit of funk soul, about the need for people to unite and get things right. The album’s latest single, album title track “Special Night” is a slow-burning and tender, psych soul and Quiet Storm-leaning love song in which the song’s narrator expresses being grateful and lucky to stumble upon a wonderful lover, and how he was going to show his lover how grateful he was. Lucky and rare are those who find that kind of love. May we all know that kind of love at some point in our lives.

Directed by Nick Walker, the recently released video for “Special Night” possesses a relatively simple concept — as we follow Lee Fields, using a free-floating dolly shot in a sunny, Southern California grapevine, and of a gorgeous backdrop with a hot air balloon in the background. It’s a subtly trippy yet cinematic video.

New Video: Swedish Synth Pop Artist Vanbot Visually Explores the Conflicting and Confusing Emotions at the Heart of Most Human Relationships

With the release of her first two, critically applauded full-length efforts, her 2011 full-length debut and its follow-up Perfect Storm, both of which were produced by Johannes Berglund, who has worked with internationally acclaimed acts The Knife and I Break Horses, the Stockholm, Sweden-based singer/songwriter and electronic pop artist Ester Ideskog, best known as Vanbot quickly established a reputation for crafting ethereal, hook-driven and deeply thoughtful synth-based pop.

The first single off Ideskog’s forthcoming, third album Siberia, “Collide (Krasnoyarsk),” continues her ongoing collaboration with Johannes Berglund while also being a subtle change in sonic direction for the Stockholm-based pop artist, as the track possesses a Kate Bush-like brooding yet atmospheric air; but paired with thumping beats, shimmering arpeggio synths and industrial clang and clatter. Now, to my ears, the song reminds me quite a bit of Niki and the Dove, Moonbabies and others, thanks in part to its hook-driven nature and moody feel but at its core is a raw, visceral heartache. As Ideskog explains in press notes, “‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’ was written after four days on the Trans-Siberian Railway, traveling through the deepest parts of Siberia. The temperature was just above zero, it was raining and we were passing through small villages and old industrial communities. It describes the collisions and the attractions in relationships, and having no choice but to accept the raw and un-retouched feelings. You know, it’s like the poem of David Jones: ‘It’s both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.’”

Directed by Mats Udd, the recently released music video for the song features two dancers — a male and female dancer — in a narrow, industrial hallway, and the dancers’ movements symbolize the unseen and impossible to comprehend forces that pull, tug and push you towards or away from another. In some way, the video further emphasizes the conflicting feelings of hurt, confusion, longing and disgust within the song.

New Video: The Surreal and Darkly Psychedelic Visuals for Thee Oh Sees’ “Gelatinous Cube”

If you’ve been frequenting this site over its nearly 7 year history, you’d likely be familiar with JOVM mainstays Thee Oh Sees. Led by Castle Face Records co-founder, and the band’s founder and creative mastermind, John Dwyer, the Bay Area-based garage rock/psych rock band has a long-held reputation for being incredibly prolific and last year further cemented that, as the band released two more albums — a live album, Live in San Francisco recorded over three nights at The Chapel and the second album, Weird Exit being the first entry of a planned series of albums.

One of the first singles off both Live in San Francisco and Weird Exit was “Gelatinous Cube,” a single that in prototypical Thee Oh Sees fashion managed to be a towering, buzzing barnburner of a song, complete with layers of scorching guitar pyrotechnics, a throbbing and propulsive rhythm section, Dywer’s growling falsetto and a primal, guttural fury — all while possessing an unusual song structure and an almost surf rock-like hook that reminded me a bit of The Blind Shake.

The recently released animated video features some disturbing and wildly psychedelic imagery that for most of the song’s length could very well be a warning n the evil’s of exploitative capitalism until the video’s protagonist becomes one with the song’s gelatinous cube — and by then, the video becomes even more surreal than the first few minutes.

New Video: The Dark Lonely and Decadent World of Belgian Pop Project Warhaus

Perhaps best known as the frontman of Belgian rock band Balthazar along with Jinte Deprez, Warhaus is the solo recording project and alter-ego of Maarten Devoldere. And both with Balthazar and more so with Warhaus, Devoldere has developed a reputation for being a songwriter, who deftly walks a tightrope between the urbane and hyper-literate and an accessible, pop standard-leaning sensibility. In fact Devoldere’s recently released effort We Fucked a Flame Into Being will further cement the Belgian singer/songwriter’s reputation as the album’s title is derived from a line in DH Lawrence’s classic, erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover — and as a result, the material on the album thematically explores lust, desire, love, the profound inscrutability of random encounters while paying tribute to the decadence and intensity that life can offer.

“Machinery,” the latest single off We Fucked a Flame Into Being is a moody, slow-burning song that to my ears sounds like a strange yet sensual and accessible mesh of Untitled # 23 and Further/Deeper-era The Church, Edith Piaf and fellow countrywoman Melanie De Biasio as the song features Devoldere’s crooning with a gorgeous arrangement featuring horns, twinkling piano keys, a small string section, shimmering electric guitar and shuffling drumming. And from its sound, the song evokes smoke-filled, late night cafes, slightly off the beaten path, intimate jazz clubs, of nights that will take a strangely decadent turn that will slowly consume you. As Devoldere explains in press notes “‘Machinery’ is about not being in control, about being consumed by love and excess, as if to ask me to let me off the hook for a night.”

Directed by fashion photographer Willy Vanderperre, known for his campaign work with Prada, Christian Dior, Raf Simons and Jil Sander among others, the recently released video for “Machinery” takes place at a location that would be familiar to most of us. And as Vanderperre explains in press notes “We went for a location that we all have been to in our lives, a party we all were at one point as well. It could be a wedding or an office party. The night is over, smoke in the back of the room. This guy goes on stage to sing a song. He has had all night to find the courage to do so. Maybe tries to impress a girl. He sings and tries to be smooth, which makes him vulnerably sexy. There is a certain discomfort in his moves.” And while emphasizing the late night exploits-based feel of the song, the video emphasizes the song’s underlying loneliness and vulnerability; the song and the video ache and yearn for something more — although the narrator doesn’t quite know what it is.

New Video: The Swooning and Heartbreaking Visuals of From Indian Lake’s “Blank Tapes”

Joey Vannucchi is an Indian Lakes, CA-bssed singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose solo recording project From Indian Lakes derives its name from the small community near Yosemite National Park where he grew up on 40 acres of land with virtually no electricity, aside from a sparely used generator. His latest effort Everything Feels Better Now can trace its origins to when Vannucchi recorded the skeletons of tracks for the album in the cheaply rented basement of a coffeeshop. He then traveled to Fairfax Studios in Los Angeles, where producer Kevin Augunus, who has worked with Delta Spirit and Cold War Kids and and engineer Gavin Paddock assisted Vannucchi in slowly stripping way tracks that needed to be replaced from the basement and home studio recordings and fleshing out material where necessary.

As for the completed album, it was released earlier this year to critical praise from the likes of Consequence of Sound and NPR Music for the “rawness of its emotions” and its “moody indie rock songs that look to the terse internal monologues of Now, Now and the atmospheric pop of Mew.” Vannucchi’s latest single “Blank Tapes” consists of lushly chiming and shimmering guitar chords, propulsive and rolling drumming and anthemic hook paired with Vannucchi’s plaintive falsetto vocals — and while the comparisons to Now, Now and Mew seem sensible to me, it doesn’t quite capture the swooning Romanticism at the core of the song or the fact that sonically speaking that this particular single manages to nod at both Silversun Pickups and classic shoegaze.

Directed by Joshua Hailing, the recently released video for “Blank Tapes” follows two young lovers and captures the ecstatic joy and heartbreaking agony of a relationship, and in some way the video is meant to be an allegory for more than the typical ups and downs of young love — hell, of any love, really. “I wanted to create an isolated world,” Hailing explains in press notes. “Everyone has their own ‘Sarah,” he continues. “They find themselves in this euphoric site with the idea of either someone, something or themselves. We become intoxicated with this image of how we wish things could be, and use it as a scapegoat to hide away from our own confusion, frustrations and denial.” And the video subtly reminds the viewer that love can often be a heartbreaking and confusing business, resulting in the endlessly lingering ghosts of our lives.

New Video: The Moody Art Film Visuals for Gothic Tropic’s “How Life Goes”

Now, if you had been frequenting this site over the last few months of 2016, you’ve likely come across “Stronger,” the first single from Los Angeles, CA-based guitarist and vocalist Cecilia Della Peruti’s solo recording project, Gothic Tropic. Arguably best known as a touring and session guitarist for Charli XCX and BØRNS, Gothic Tropic possesses a decidedly New Wave/post-punk-leaning sound; in fact, the aforementioned “Stronger” sounded — to my ears, at least — as though it owed a debt to Go-Gos, The B52s and Too True-era Dum Dum Girls. However, “How Life Goes” Peruti’s second single is a much more atmospheric and lush track in which plaintive harmonies are paired with shimmering guitar chords played through reverb and delay pedal, a propulsive and driving rhythm section, gently buzzing synths, a bluesy guitar solo and an anthemic hook.

Lyrically, the song focuses on heartbreak — in this particular instance, the song’s narrator finds herself beginning for forgiveness, understanding and a second chance for a slight — whether real or not is another issue — that has added a bit of ambivalence into the relationship; the sort of ambivalence that can make a potentially good relationship turn especially bad.

The recently released video for the song possesses an art film vibe as it begins with a woman creating a time capsule for 1968 that the video’s present protagonist finds buried in the woods — and while being a bit revelatory, the package manages to also be a bit deceptive. Trippy, eh?