Category: Video Review

New Video: The Woozy, Nostalgia-Tinged Visuals for Beach House’s “Chariot”

Since their formation in 2004, the Baltimore-based indie rock act Beach House, comprised of Charm City music scene vets Victoria Legrand (organ, vocals) and Alex Scally (guitar, vocals), have released a handful of critically and commercially successful albums, including their last two efforts, Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, which were released within two months of each other in 2015. Written and recorded within a roughly two-and-a-half year period between 2012 and 2014, both albums continue a long-term collaboration with co-producer Chris Coady while being closely related companion pieces or in other words, while separate, the two albums should be viewed in a very metaphorical sense as two sides of the same coin, as they build upon similar themes and an overall sound — a decidedly sparse, atmospheric sound that  nodded at Mazzy Star and others.

Much like countless bands before them, Legrand and Scally have written and recorded a large number of songs throughout their career, some of which have been played live or released that for whatever reason just didn’t quite fit their album-based material. Of course, over the course of the past few years, some of those songs have been increasingly difficult to find and listen to, and to accommodate their fans — while providing insight into the band’s own creative and editorial process when it comes to their albums. So the band will be releasing B-Sides and Rarities, a 14 track compilation of songs that they’ve recorded and released that just didn’t make their albums, and two previously unreleased singles “Chariot” and “Baseball Diamond,” recorded during the Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars sessions and much like the material off those albums, “Chariot,” the first single off the B-sides compilation is a slow-burning wisp of smoke with a hauntingly melancholy and nostalgia-tinged air. 

Directed by the members of the band, the recently released video for “Chariot” possesses a woozy and dream-like nostalgia as it begins from the perspective of watching from a movie theater with both color and black and white footage from the 60s that we’re all familiar with — a lot of it revolving around pop culture.  And much like the song it accompanies, the video lacks a clear narrative but makes up for it in by further emphasizing the moodiness of the song. 

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New Video: The Surreal and Psychedelic Sounds and Visuals of Hollow Everdaze’s “Cartoons”

Founded by Daniel Baulch (vocals, guitar) and Jackson Kay (bass), along with Myles Anderson (violin), James Turner (drums) and Dylan Young (keys), the Ballarat, Australia-based psych rock act have developed a reputation in their homeland for a lush sound that at times clearly draws from Rubber Soul-era Beatles and bubblegum pop; however, with the contributions from Anderson and Young, the band’s sound manages to be both lush and mind-bendingly lysergic as you’ll hear on “Cartoons,” the latest single off the band’s John Lee-produced debut effort Cartoons, which is slated for release through Deaf Ambitions later this month.  But interestingly, the song subtly reveals some ambitious songwriting, thanks in part to an expansive, Summer of Love-like vibe and rousingly anthemic hooks. 

Interestingly, the band’s debut comes about as the band’s profile is steadily growing nationally in their homeland, as they’ve opened for the likes of The War on Drugs, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Wavves and American Football among others. 

Directed by Alex McLaren, best known for his work with ORB, Pipe-Eye and Hierophants, the recently released video for “Cartoons” employs the use of stop-motion animation, based around surreal imagery taken and assembled from old, second-hand books.

New Video: DJ Manipulator, Louie Gonz, and Mr. Pacheco Team Up on a Jazzy and Soulful Bit of Real Hip-Hop

Now late last month, I wrote about the Massachusetts-based hip-hop duo DJ Manipulator and Louie Gonz and “This Sound,” the silky smooth, looped jazz flute and xylophone-based first collaboration with renowned Los Angeles-based emcee Blu off the duo’s recently released sophomore effort together, The Loops. And with their sophomore effort the duo intends it to be a bold re-introduction to hip-hop heads everywhere while further cementing their reputation for a sound that warmly draws from golden era hip-hop while not resorting to mimicry. The Loops’ latest single, “Who Want It,” is a collaboration with frequent collaborator and friend Mr. Pacheco, and much like the single’s predecessor, the latest track continues in the same vein — no frills, no bullshit hip-hop in which two emcees trade ridiculous and fiery bars over a soulful production consisting of looped, stuttering and twinkling xylophones and warm, jazzy guitar chords. 

The recently released video was shot on grainy and warped VHS tape, further emphasizing the stuttering sample. 

New Video: The Melancholy Sounds and Visuals of Amsterdam’s Nambyar

Nambyar is a half-Fijian, half-Dutch, Amsterdam, The Netherlands based alt R&B/electro pop singer/songwriter, whose music career was initially centered around guitar-driven melodies and band-leaning projects; however, the Amsterdam-based singer/songwriter can trace the origins of his solo recording career to when he began writing songs on an PolySix and Prophet analog studios in his own studio — and interestingly enough, the solitary time resulted in his uninhibited and bracingly honest, new single “Once More,” a bold statement of an artist and a man, finally letting go of his past and moving forward to a new and uncertain future, alone. In fact, as the Dutch-born singer/songwriter explains “Alone for the firs time, I didn’t need to listen to others and was able to focus on what I wanted to tell,The stripped-down production was layered with three synths, while the high-pitched vocal samples are taken from an old Italian singer, which I pitched to create the grid of the whole song.” 

Sonically speaking, Nambyar’s latest single reminds me quite a bit of Beacon’s initial releases — namely For Now EP and The Ways We Separate, as his achingly tender vocals singing deeply confessional, viscerally honest lyrics are paired with a sparse, ambient-leaning production to create an overall aesthetic that’s eerily spectral and mournful; it’s the sound of someone, who’s lead a full and messy life, reflecting back on it and being haunted by the ghosts of it; of someone who’s readily recognized that we often are drawn to people and situations for reasons we can never really explain; of someone, who recognizes that the relationship at the center of the song is heading towards an inevitable finality; but underneath the surface is a narrator, who’s desperate to free himself and live the life he feels fit — at all costs. 

Directed by Theo Captein, the recently released video for “Once More,” is based around a fairly simple concept that Nambyar came up with, as the video features the Amsterdam-based singer/songwriter earnestly brooding in a stark, white room but shot with slow-motion techniques, shallow depth of field, a shattered mirror and an animated bleeding-heart — all of which further emphasize the melancholy  nature of the song. 

New Video: The Symbolic (and Messy) Visuals for INVSN’s “This Constant War”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Umea, Sweden-based post-punk quintet INVSN, an act comprised of some of Sweden’s most accomplished musicians — including Dennis Lyxzen (vocals), a founding member and frontman of Refused, and a former member of The (International) Noise Conspiracy, The Lost Patrol Band, AC4, and who has collaborated with The Bloody Beetroots and others; Sara Almgrem (bass, vocals), a member of The Doughnuts, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, The Vicious and Masshysteri; Andres Sternberg (guitar, keyboards), a member of Deportees, The Lost Patrol Band and a member of Lykke Li’s backing band; Andre Sandström (drums, percussion), a member of Ds-13, The Vicious, The Lost Patrol Band, Ux Vileheads and others; and Christina Karlsson (keyboards, vocals), a member of Tiger Forest Cat, Honungsvägen and Frida Serlander‘s backing band. And interestingly enough, the members of the band are five, long-term friends, with Lyxzen in particular being known for a lengthy career incorporating sociopolitical themes into his work; in fact, as Lyxzen has publicly explained, “Music always meant more to me then just entertainment. It has had a profound impact on everything that I am as a person and I see music as art and art as life. We live in a world devoid of meaning where we serve the lowest common denominator at all times. Where politics as an idea has failed us and where art is being reduced to consumerism and clickbait.”

The band’s initial recordings were written and recorded with lyrics in their native Swedish under the name Invasionen, but when the members of the band decided that it was time to take the project and their work internationally, they felt that writing and singing lyrics in English, along with a new name would be necessary — and they settled on INVSN.   Regardless of the name or the language, the post-punk band has always had a political message — and during this particular moment, when humanistic, Enlightenment values and thinking are being challenged by extreme right wing and extreme religious movements across the world, the members of INVSN strongly believe that their music, and the work of other like-minded musicians are part of a necessary and urgent outcry from a counterculture that has yet to give up. And while being righteously angry, their overall approach is rooted in the belief that change is gonna come — and it’s going to come real soon. 

The Swedish band’s latest effort The Beautiful Stories is slated for release on Friday, and the album was recorded and produced by by Adam “Atom” Greenspan, best known for his work with Nick Cave and The Veils at Svenska Grammofonstudion in Gothenburg, Sweden.  Reportedly, the album finds the band experimenting and expanding their aesthetic and songwriting approach with material that possesses elements of post-punk, industrial electronica, indie rock and indie pop, which gives their sociopolitical concerns an accessible, almost radio-friendly vibe. 

Now, as you may recall “I Dreamt Music” was a decidedly post-punk leaning song, sounding as though it drew influence from Joy Division and Gang of Four, thanks to the song’s decided politically charged tone. And as Lyxzen explained in press notes,  “I wanted to write about the longing for resistance to the cultural/political/musical landscape that holds us imprisoned. I wanted to write about the naive, romantic and pretentious notion that music and art should be about ideas that can change and transform and maybe even be the beacon of hope in these dismal times.” And as a result, the song manages to possesses a sense of cynicism and distrust and an equal bit of outrage.”

Interestingly enough, Beautiful Stories’ latest single “This Constant War” finds the band pairing jangling, Country-leaning guitar chords, layers of buzzing electronics and a propulsive rhythm section with boy/girl harmonies and a soaring, swooning hook in a song that sounds a bit like Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby-era U2 but filtered through Primal Scream, New Order and Ministry, while nodding at The Lonely Wild, as the material possesses a cinematic yet yearning quality at its core. 

The recently released video for “This Constant War” features the members of the band passionately singing the song or broodingly staring off into space as the hands of an unseen person smears colored paint onto the faces and bodies of the bandmembers. 

New Video: The Symbolic and Expressive Visuals for Holy Wars’ “I Can’t Feel A Thing”

Kat Leon is a Connecticut-born singer/songwriter, whose musical career started in earnest as one half of the Los Angeles, CA-based indie electro pop act Sad Robot, with Long Beach, CA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist Nick Perez — and throughout her stint with Sad Robot, Leon developed a reputation for crafting material that was largely inspired by death and the occult.

With both of her parents suddenly dying within months of one another, Leon was plunged into a period of profound and heartbreaking grief. And after taking time to grieve the loss of her parents, Leon began her latest solo recording project, Holy Wars, which is deeply and profoundly influenced by some of the darkest days of her life; in fact, the project in many ways is to her an extrapolation of the tumultuous feelings and thoughts she had felt during that period — an the result is her debut double EP Mother, which is slated for a June 30, 2017 release and Father, which is slated for release later on this summer.  Both EPs are dedicated to her respective parents and while being understandably dark, the material isn’t completely nihilistic, and as you’ll hear on Mother‘s first single “I Can’t Feel A Thing,” the material is meant to be a cathartic release paired within a rousingly anthemic, arena rock-friendly sound reminiscent of Paramore — but with a hint of profoundly adult angst, the sort of angst that comes from recognizing  that death is a permanent parting, that there are no real answers, and that the only thing anyone can do is figure out a way to move forward to the best of their ability.

Directed by Jeremy Cordy, the recently released video features Kat Leon dressed in a god bodysuit and two other women, perhaps as representatives of the song’s narrator at various ages, expressively dancing with figures clad entirely in dark — and it’s meant to evoke each character being tugged, pulled, tossed around and in some way being seduced by their darkness, a darkness that overwhelmingly overpowers them. It’s clearly symbolic and yet gorgeously done. 

New Video: Soto Voce Returns with a Sensual and Anthemic bit of Industrial Electronica Paired with Feverish Visuals

Late last year, I wrote about the Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo Soto Voce. Comprised of Oakland, CA-born, Los Angeles-based vocalist Miguel De Vivo, now known as Mia De Vivo and Colombia-born, Los Angles-based producer Kenny Soto, the electro pop duo can trace its origins to a mutual love of electronic much and industrial music, and to the duo having similar experiences as outsiders — De Vivo, who was born male, grew up gender non-conforming and was relentlessly teased and beaten up “for being like a girl,” and who recently transitioned. Soto on the other hand, fled his native Colombia with his family as a teenager in the 90s, after his port official father refused to collaborate with Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel. When he and his family arrived in the US, they were extremely poor.

Now, as you may recall the duo’s debut single “Better” was quietly released but within a few weeks of is release, the track grabbed the attention of the blogosphere for a brooding, cinematic and difficult to pigeonhole sound that some described with Sade-fronting Radiohead comparison; however, in my opinion that song possessed a deeply personal and aching plea for acceptance both within and without paired with a club-banging yet atmospheric production. And the video specifically focused on the tensions around the Black Lives Matter, Trans Rights Matter and LGBTQ rights movements, how politically and socially things are much more fearful and uncertain for many minority groups across the world.

The duo’s latest single “Pop” will further cement their reputation for crafting propulsive and forceful industrial-leaning electro pop that manages to be sensual yet rousingly anthemic and club-banging. But arguably it may be the darkest, most unhinged and urgent track they’ve released to date.

Directed by Jon Danovic, the recently released music video for “Pop” possesses a surreal, feverish, dream-like logic.

New Video: The Cosmic and Symbolic Visuals for Cody ChesnuTT’s “Image of Love”

With the release of his critically praised 2002 debut, The Headphone Masterpiece, singer/songwriter and guitarist Cody ChesnuTT was universally hailed as a modern-day soul troubadour with many critics comparing his work to the likes of Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder, largely because of his frank and socially conscious songwriting focusing on modern Black life. Interestingly, The Headphone Masterpiece was released at the height of the neo-soul movement, which included Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, The Roots, Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, and a lengthy list of others — all of whom proved that artists could still release deeply personal, thoughtful, socially conscious work that was fairly successful both critically and commercial successful. In the case of ChesnuTT, his closest brush with mainstream success was a collaborative remake of “The Seed,” “The Seed 2.0,” which appeared on The Roots’ Phrenology released at the end of 2002.

After the commercial and critically success of “The Seed,” ChesnuTT abruptly disappeared from public view for the better part of a decade, a period in which the singer/songwriter and guitarist spent time raising children and in writerly fashion, reflecting, observing, loving and living. Naturally, those experiences informed and influenced 2012’s Landing on a Hundred, an effort that linked contemporary Black soul and pop with the classic work of Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, as Hundred thematically focused on a man’s road to redemption after years of womanizing, drugging and scheming, of the power of a love that eclipses superficial and material expressions of love and devotion and of the power of being truthful to one’s self.

Since the release of Landing on a Hundred, ChesnuTT has been rather productive as he’s contributed to the soundtracks of the Oscar Award-winning major motion pictures 12 Years A Slave and Idris Elba Presents Mi Mandela, and writing the material that would comprise his recently released third album, My Love Divine Degree. Now, if you had been frequenting this site over the past year, you may recall that I wrote about My Love Divine Degree‘s second single “I Stay Ready” an uplifting call to positivity in the face of tremendous adversity — and while further cementing his reputation for crafting frank, earnest songs, the production work of Anthony “Twilite Tone” Khan, a BMI Award, Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and DJ, who has worked with Kanye West, Common, John Legend and Pusha T pushes sonic boundaries as it meshes beat-based hip-hop and soul.

The album’s latest single “Image of Love” continues in a similar vein as ChesnuTT’s soulful crooning is paired with a genre blurring production that features wobbling synths, big tweeter and woofer rattling beats and a slick hook in what may arguably be one of the funkiest and most hip-hop leaning songs ChesnuTT has released in several years. Interestingly, the single much like the material on the album is “inspired by a story of a Man and Woman that exercised their ability to rise about their arresting selfishness — to attain a higher level of communication — that they might willing share in the love of eternal life . . . all to simply win the hearts of men, woman and children to better things,” as ChesnuTT explains in press notes. And much like it’s preceding single, it’s a desperately needed bit of uplift in dark, fucked up times.

Featuring gorgeous, psychedelic and cosmic line animation by Konee Rok that includes Cody Chesnutt walking through the woods and the cosmos, playing his Gibson and singing, kids running and playing in the woods, while nodding at the album’s and song’s themes about the differences between selfish and superficial love, and the sort of love that truly connects you with others and the larger universe.

New Video: The Trippy Visuals and Soulful Yet Sultry House of Hemi

Initially beginning his musical career under the moniker Pineapple Pop, Hemi is a British electronic music artist and producer, who also is a successful and popular DJ and booker. “Gentle” is the British artist, producer, DJ and booker’s first single of 2017 and it features a warm and organic-sounding production that nods at house, tribal house, afro house, ambient electronic music and pop as the single features rapid fire staccato drum programming, soaring organs, a soulful yet chopped up vocal sample and a rousing, club-friendly hook reminiscent of 90s dance music hits and Octo Octa’s Between Two Selves, revealing a producer and electronic music artist, who specializes in an sultry yet soulful and accessible sound.

Featuring animation from Laris Kilimci, the recently released video for “Gentle” is mischievously lysergic, as it features nighttime imagery undulating and changing to the propulsive beat of its accompanying single, as though they were dancers in a sweaty club.