Raffa Weyman is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-born and-based singer/songwriter, and with her solo recording project RALPH, Weyman quickly emerged into the national and international pop scene with the 2015 release of her debut single “Trouble,” which […]
Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the Viersen, Germany-born, Cologne, Germany-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, Marius Lauber, who writes, records and performs Roosevelt. Now, as you may recall its the release of Elliot,” the lead single and EP title track of his 2013 debut EP Elliot, Lauber received praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who named the track one of their “Best New Tracks.” 2015 saw the release of the double A side single “Night Moves”/”Hold On,” which was released through Greco-Roman Records and further cemented his reputation for crafting material with warm, synth-led Euro-disco sound. Building upon a growing profile, Lauber’s 2016 full-length debut featured standout tracks “Colours” and “Moving On,” and has led to attention-grabbing tours with the likes of Hot Chip, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Crystal Fighters, as well a remixes of singles by Glass Animals, Jax Jones,Truls, Sundara Karma, Luca Vasta and Kakkmaddafakka and others.
Building upon a growing international profile, Lauber’s recently released sophomore Roosevelt album Young Romance finds the acclaimed German singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer making a decided move away from the slickly produced EDM of his previously released material to a warmer, hook-driven, guitar and synth-based sound, complete with a wistful escapism. Thematically, Young Romance fittingly focuses on — well, young romance, including the trials, tribulations and frustrations of falling in and out of love, and of desperately trying to find some semblance of home and life while on the road. As Lauber says of the writing process for the album “I ended up processing a lot of emotions that I felt during my youth. Faded relationships that haunted me for years, being on the road for what seemed like forever and the constant search for a place to call home.”
Album single “Forgive,” featured Lauber collaborating with Ernest Green, a.k.a. Washed Out, who contributes his ethereal and imitable vocals to a shimmering, disco-like production centered by a Chic-era Nile Rodgers groove, African percussion and an infectious hook that sounds as though it could have been a Paracosm B-side. “Shadows,” continues in a similar, breezy yet disco-inspired vein, as it’s centered around a buoyant two-step friendly groove, arpeggiated synths, Lauber’s plaintive vocals, an incredibly tight, infectious hook that recalls Miami Horror, Washed Out and Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk to mind — but somehow even lighter. Young Romance’s latest single “Under The Sun” will further cement Lauber’s reputation for crafting hook-laden, and breezy pop centered around the German singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s yearning vocals, thumping beats, a sinuous disco-inspired bass line, twinkling keys and ethereal electronics — and while continuing to nod at the likes of Miami Horror, Washed Out, Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk and St. Lucia, the song much like its predecessor reveals an ambitious songwriter and producer, who has put a unique and urgent take on a familiar and beloved sound.
The recently released video for “Under The Sun” is a cinematic and fittingly nostalgic visual that features Lauber yearning singing the song and playing guitar on the beach, reflecting on a past relationship.
Now, throughout the bulk of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded and commercially successful Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act Atmosphere, and as you may recall the act initially formed over 20 years ago as a trio featuring Slug, Spawn D and Ant under the name Urban Atmosphere. And whether as a trio or a duo, the Minneapolis-based act have developed and maintained a long-held reputation for pushing the boundaries of what hip-hip should sound like and concern itself with thematically — especially as the members of the act find themselves inching to middle age, as well as for relentless touring.
2016’s Fishing Blues continued a string of insightful, soulful and mature material reflecting men, who evolved from tortured hedonists into settled down family men, who have seen and experienced much more than they can put into words — and while settling down in a much-deserved and peaceful bliss of family and art seems ideal in almost every circumstance, the world has fundamentally changed in a frightening and uncertain fashion. Naturally, if you’re s sensitive and thoughtful person, you can’t help but recognize that while you may have a little paradise, that within a mad, mad, mad world, it won’t last; that “nothing lasts forever,” as a song says. Unsurprisingly, Atmosphere’s soon-to-be released seventh album Mi Vida Loca thematically finds the pair grappling with their own mortality and the anxiety and fear that comes with the painful acknowledgment that you’re powerless and that you can’t possibly protect yourself, let alone your loved ones from the dangers of our world. Thematically sobering, indeed; but the album much like the bulk of their creative output has long been centered around the duo’s deep and abiding friendship. “Virgo,” Mi Vida Loca’s eerie first single may arguably be the most intimate and urgent song they’ve ever written and recorded — and just because the song evokes (and focuses on) the anxieties and fears of our moment, it isn’t completely dark and hopeless. If anything, the song proudly and sincerely says that as a man, it’s okay to admit that you’re scared shitless and not know what the fuck to do about anything; that when you’re uncertain and afraid that there are friends and loved ones, and music, small joys and small victories, and sweet and tender moments that we need to cling to and cherish with every fiber of our beings. Sonically, the song featured a bluesy production centered around strummed guitar, twinkling old-timey keys and eerily buzzing synths that nodded at Everlast’s Whitey Ford Sings the Blues but somehow starker.
Album opening track “Jerome” is the album’s latest single and it continues in a similar vein — featuring a production consisting of a looped sample of boozy and woozy buzzing power chords, rumbling and thumping percussion, brief blasts of twinkling and shimmering synths. Throughout Slug rhymes about the weight of familial history, aging, death, the vapidity and insincerity of social media and a bevy of other things with an incredibly dexterous rhyme scheme but underneath the swaggering self-assuredness of Slug’s delivery is a vulnerability and aching, world weariness.
Directed by Evidence, the recently released and incredibly cinematic video for “Jerome” begins with Slug and a homey taking a short ride to house down the street to the home studio, where two tow-headed little ones play with a hill of Legos, while the duo write and record — but some point, Slug quickly realizes that he may be too old for this shit and leaves mid-stream. It’s surreal yet rooted in a gritty reality.
Comprised of Sean McVay (guitar, lead vocals), Dan Reynolds (bass) and Scott Donaldson (drums, vocals), the Rochester, NY-based trio King Buffalo began collaborating back in 2013 and with the release of a demo, several split releases, a handful of one-off singles plus an impressive live show, the Upstate New York-based trio quickly earned an international profile. With 2016’s self-recorded and self-produced, full-length debut Orion, the members of King Buffalo further cemented a growing reputation for a sound that meshed elements of heavy psych, stoner rock and the blues in a way that’s been compared favorably to Tool and Pink Floyd among others.
The Rochester-based trio’s much-anticipated Ben McLeod-produced sophomore album Longing To Be The Mountain is slated for an October 12, 2018 release, and from the album’s shimmering and slow-burning first single “Quickening,” the band retains the heavy psych and stoner rock vibe that have won them national and international attention — but with a self-assured and expansive, prog rock sensibility. As the band’s Scott Donaldson explained to Loudwire, “‘Quickening’ bloomed organically during the writing process of the Longing To Be The Mountain album. We knew early on that we wanted an animated video to go along with it,” Donaldson continued, “and immediately asked our friend Mike Turzanski. The imagery and overall fluidity makes it a standout.”
James O’Brien is a Melbourne, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, best known for being the frontman of renowned Australian act Boat People, and with his solo recording project Darling James, O’Brien has received attention both nationally and internationally for hook-laden yet sophisticated take on pop — his single “God’s Graffiti” featured lyrics that were metaphysical musings, paired with a shimmering and atmospheric production that reminded me a bit of Reptile Youth‘s Away EP — but with an earnest yearning for meaning, for more
Now, as you may recall O’Brien’s sophomore Darling James effort MOOD EYES was released earlier this year and the material was initially written, pieced together, then auditioned, revised and culled from a series of songs and song ideas that made the cut for the album. He then took the initial recordings to his long-time collaborator Robin Waters, and the duo recruited additional musicians to flesh out the material while Waters began sorting through and mixing the reams of synths, vocals, string arrangements and samples that O’Brien had thrown together. And while seemingly being a hodgepodge creative process, the album thematically focuses on wide range of things from regret, acceptance, burning the candle at both ends, the joy and pleasure of leaving a party — and hell, the party scene — for a loved one and so on. Album single “Silver Bullet” further cemented O’Brien’s reputation for creating shimmering and atmospheric pop centered around lyrics that carefully examined a relationship and situation in which there was no easy answers, just increasing confusion and anxiety — and absolutely no one to save you or help.
Interestingly, MOOD EYES’ latest single “You’re The Only One I Need Now,” is centered around an atmospheric and trippy production featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, O’Brien’s yearning yet ethereal vocals, thumping beats and a soaring hook — and while continuing in a similar vein as the album’s preceding singles, it’s a swooning, upbeat, heart-on-the-sleeve sort of love song written and sung from the perspective of an adult, who has grown from blind lust and desire to dealing with another person through shared values, respect, comfort and company. It’s a comforted sigh of relief in a difficult and cynical world. As O’Brien explains in press notes “I wanted to make a song that was simple enough to be taken as what it mostly is – an un-self conscious ode to that special person in your life – but also to allude to how you get there, from teenage desire to young adult drunken escapades to shared values and respect. The song is necessarily musically and lyrically uncomplicated but at the same time it’s textually quite dense. Similarly, the clip is in one way very direct with a person singing to camera most of the time but it also utilities complex and layered effects at its core.”
Comprised of founding members Rory McDougall (drums), Tom Martin (guitar) and Mick Meager (bass), Simon Mavin (Hammond organ) with Justin Marshall, funk and soul, instrumental act The Putbacks feature some of Melbourne, Australia’s most accomplished musicians — as members of the band have played with Hiatus Kaiyote, The Bombay Royale, D.D. Dumbo, Swooping Duck, The Meltdown and The Black Arm Band; in fact, the band, which formed back in the early 00s is the unofficial house band of renowned Australian label HopeStreet Recordings, and they reportedly take their cues from the house bands of 60s and 70s soul studios — in particular, The MGs, The Meters and The Wrecking Crew, as well as film composers of David Axelrod and Adrian Younge.
The release of a number of 7 inches through their now-long-time label home began receiving attention across Australia; but it was their 2014 collaboration with Australian Aboriginal singer/songwriter Emma Donavan, Dawn which resulted in a growing national and international profile. And since then the members of The Putbacks had been extremely busy with a number of individual projects while finding time to write and record, their forthcoming Paul Bender-produced self-titled debut, which is slated for a November 9, 2018 release. Interestingly, the album finds the band collaborating with a number of renowned artists including singer/songwriter and neo-soul pioneer Bilal and violins and arranger Miguel Atwood-Ferguson.
The album’s first single “The Ways” is an incredibly cinematic and film noir-ish bit of psych soul centered around twinkling and arpeggiated keys, scorching guitar lines, played through delay and effect pedal paired with Bilal’s dreamy yet husky vocals singing stream-of-consciousness vocals — all within an expansive song structure. The entire song sounds as though it draws from The Roots and Hot Buttered Soul-era Isaac Hayes simultaneously but with an improvised, free-flowing air.
Currently comprised of founding members and childhood friends Jae Young (bass) and Kim Byungkyu (guitar) with Sumi Choi (vocals) and Kim Changwon (drums), the Busan, South Korea-based indie rock quartet Say Sue Me can trace its origins to when its founding members Young and Byungkyu, who had played together in a number of bands together throughout high school were drinking tea and beer in a Nampo-dong tea shop when they met Choi. Young and Byungkyu liked Choi’s speaking voice and immediately offered her a spot as the vocalist in a band that would eventually become Say Sue Me. Coincidentally, as it turned out, Choi turned out to be a natural songwriter. The bandmates then recruited Kang Semin to play drums — and with him, they recorded their full-length debut We’ve Sobered Up, which established the South Korean band’s reputation for crafting a sound that draws from 60s surf rock and 90s alt rock. And with Semin, they recorded 5 songs of their sophomore album Where We Were Together before having a near fatal accident that has left him in a near comatose state.
Deciding to continue onward while hoping for their dear friend and bandmate’s recovery, the band recruited Changwon and finished their sophomore album, which interestingly enough marks their first album recorded in a professional studio. Unsurprisingly, the album’s material reflects both professional studio polish and a young band that has grown more confident in their songwriting and playing — all while managing to be a tribute to their fallen bandmate that focuses on the emotional fallout over the loss of their friend. As the band says in press notes, “We made 5 of the songs on Where We Were Together with Semin before his accident, and of the remaining songs on the album 4 of them (“Let It Begin,” “Funny and Cute,” “B Lover,” and “About The Courage To Become Someone’s Past”) are about Semin or made with him in mind.
Although we can’t be together right now, we decided to give the album this title because it reminded us of everything we’ve shared with Semin. And what’s more, sometimes we’ve thought if we make this album a wish to return to the place we were together, some powerful spell might rise up. Who knows if it’s even possible but sometimes we think maybe it could work.”
The South Korean indie rock quartet’s latest 7 inch single features two singles from “Just Joking Around,” a song that was cut from their latest album but features a line from which the album’s title is derived and “B Lover,” a brash and scuzzy power chord-based garage rock/punk rocker burner that the band explains was originally written for Semin’s other band Barbie Dolls, who play insanely fast garage rock/punk. The song’s lyrics were written as a tribute to their dear friend’s mischievous ways and desire to “just let go of worries about the future, buy as much good beer as we wanted.” They go on to say that Semin’s jokes and tastes were like those in a B movie with a Type-B personality, “so we stuck the name B Lover on the song.” While “B Lover” is an incredibly self-assured, almost swaggering sort of track, it possesses the wistful air of missing a dear friend, who’s one of life’s true characters.
The recently released video for “B Lover” is a mischievous take on classic B movies — featuring a local garage rock band, playing on their local beach, as well as Kung Fu movies and action movies. It’s ridiculously tongue-in-cheek in every possible way and pretty damn funny.
Currently comprised of founding members Mark Arm (vocals, rhythm guitar), Steve Turner (lead guitar) and Guy Maddison (bass), along with Dan Peters (drums), who joined the band in 1999, the Seattle, WA-based alt rock/grunge rock band Mudhoney officially formed back in 1988 — although the band can trace its origins to the breakup of Green River, a proto-grunge band that at one point featured Alex Vincent (drums), Jeff Ament (bass), Steve Turner, and Stone Gossard (guitar). After releasing two EPs, and several lineup changes, Green River eventually split up with Bruce Fairweather, Gossard and Ament eventually joining Mother Love Bone. Now, if you know your grunge history, you’d know that after Mother Love Bone’s Andrew Wood died from an overdose, Gossard and Ament went on to form Pearl Jam while Arm and Turner reunited to form Mudhoney, and the rest as they say is history — right?
Mudhoney’s earliest releases through Sub Pop Records — namely “Touch Me I’m Sick” and the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP wound up becoming massively influential with the band being credited as being the godfathers of Seattle’s grunge rock sound, a sound that we all know is generally centered around scuzzy, distortion pedal heavy power chords. But despite their towering influence on alt rock, the band has never really seen much commercial success — although Nirvana covered Mudhoney during their legendary Unplugged, filmed and recorded a few weeks before Kurt Cobain’s suicide.
Slated for release later this week through their longtime label home, the beloved Pacific Northwest-based grunge legends tenth full-length album Digital Garbage is reportedly, one of the band’s most sociopolitically incisive and blistering albums they’ve recorded; in fact, Digital Garbage‘s first single “Paranoid Core” captures the distrust of experts and facts, the rampant fear-mongering and emotional exploitation and the very primal, lizard-brained instinctual response that rules our current zeitgeist. And its all centered around boozy, old school punk rock guitar chords, a propulsive back beat and bass line. Western civilization and American democracy collapsing before our very eyes but goddamn it, there’s at least rock ‘n’ roll to save our souls for a little bit. “Kill Yourself Live,” the album’s latest single is a searing indictment of our vapid and incredibly insipid reality TV-show and social media-based culture, suggesting that people could literally kill themselves live on a TV show or on Instagram Live — and it would likely be highly rated or get a shit ton of likes on the ‘gram baby. Considering that the President of the United States is a reality TV Internet troll, anything — holy shit, anything is fucking possible. Sonically speaking, the single continues in a similar vein as its predecessor — but manages to nod at DEVO and 60s psych rock simultaneously for a subtle mind trip.
Directed by Carlos A.F. Lopez, the recently released video for “Kill Yourself Live” reimagines Jesus Christ’s crucifixion taking place in an anachronistic mix of Biblical times and our hyper-connected, social media world and as a result, it points out humanity’s propensity for cruelty and selfishness, the insatiable desire to be liked in a way that’s both disturbing and hilarious.
Although formed back in 2013, the Brussels, Belgium-based post punk act Whispering Sons, comprised of Fenne Kuppens (vocals), Kobe Linjen (guitar), Sander Hermans (synths), Tuur Vanderborne (bass) and Sander Pelsmaekers (drums) received attention nationally with the release of 2015’s debut EP Endless Party through Wool-E-Tapes with a vinyl reissue in March 2016 through Minimal Maximal. Adding to a growing profile, the band won 2016’s Humo’s Rock Rally, one of Belgium’s most prestigious music competitions, which they followed up with two 7 inch releases, 2016’s “Performance”/”Strange Identities” and last year’s “White Noise.”
Building upon a growing profile in their homeland, the Belgian post punk outfit’s full-length debut Image is slated for an October 19, 2018 release through Cleopatra Records here in the States and Smile Records throughout the rest of the world — and the Micha Volders and Bert Vliegen-produced album which was recorded over a ten day period at Waimes, Belgium’s GAM Studios will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting tense and ominous post-punk, while attempting to accurately capture both their live sound and the sense of anxiety and alienation that the bandmembers felt upon their relocation to Brussels.
Speaking of ominous, Image’s second and latest single “Alone” is centered around angular and shimmering guitar lines, an angular and propulsive bass line, thundering and mathematically precise drumming, and a slick, yet infectious hook — and while sonically the song may recall Joy Division, Actors, Deathlist, True Moon, Second Still and others, the song’s refrain is derived from part of a cryptic bit of dialog spoken during Twin Peaks’ first season.
Produced by The Breakfast Club and directed by Koen Blauwblomme and Pieter De Ridder, the recently released video for “Alone” takes it cues from horror films and Twin Peaks as it follows our protagonist as he goes completely mad — at one point, the protagonist see his doppleganger, completely immolated in flame, before quickly realizing that his doppleganger is his reflection.
Honors is an up-and-coming Canadian indie R&B act that quickly emerged into the international scene with the release of their #1 Global Viral Spotify chart hit “Over” — although their success wasn’t an overnight one. The members of the up-and-coming act met over a decade ago and have worked in a number of different projects before forming Honors. Their latest single “Feel Better” will further cement their reputation for slickly produced and atmospheric material that effortlessly bridges trap, contemporary electro pop and contemporary R&B as the song features achingly tender vocals, thumping beats and a sinuous hook.
Interestingly, while seeming bleak sonically, the song is unabashedly positive, with its narrator actively seeking light in extremely dark times, suggesting that there’s frequently some sort of struggle before achieving any sort of success; in fact, the song may be among the most personal they’ve ever released, as its inspired by the bandmembers own personal struggles, while trying to make it as artists. In another way, it’s also a reminder that the journey is as important as the destination; that without understanding the journey, the destination doesn’t make much sense.
Directed by Nikola Crnobrnja, the recently released meditative video for “Feel Better,” features the members of the Canadian act driving around without much of a destination. As the members of the band explain in press notes. “We didn’t want to make traditional, or narrative based videos on our new project ‘Feel Better,’ so instead we wanted to imagine a visual counterpoint to the emotion and feeling of the song. Driving is transportative literally, but also metaphorically. It is very introspective. For us ‘Feel Better’ is an autobiographical song about making peace with the journey, while continuing to move forward in the direction of your dreams.”