Category: Video Review

New Video: The Intimate and Dreamy Visuals for Cold Specks’ “Wild Card”

With the release of her first two critically applauded and commercially successful albums I Predict A Graceful Expulsion! and Neuroplasticiy, the Canadian-Somali, Toronto, ON-based singer/songwriter Ladan Hussein and her solo recording project Cold Specks received both national and international attention, and unsurprisingly her first two albums were nominated for the Polaris Music Prize with her her debut effort receiving  a Juno Award nomination for Breakthrough Artist of the Year. In between a busy period of writing, recording and tour, Hussein also managed to be a hotly-desired collaborator, working with the likes of Moby, Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock, Swans and others.

After spending a portion of 2015 and 2016 touring to support Neuroplasticity, Hussein returned back to Toronto, where she began work on her recently released third, full-length effort Fool’s Paradise, an album in which Hussein exploring her identity as a Canadian-Somali woman, as a Black woman in a world brutal to Black people, as an artist and as the daughter of immigrants, who fled their homeland, and as someone surviving the best she can in difficult circumstances  — and the album’s first single “Wild Card” is largely inspired by the refugee experience. “There was a man in my family’s store, a new refugee, who had travelled from Somalia to Canada. By water and by foot he had travelled half way around the world to establish a better life for himself and his family who were still at home,” Hussein explains. “My mother had never met him before. He was a complete stranger from a familiar place. She took him to a local restaurant, fed him and found him somewhere to stay. I was astonished by her selflessness and kept humming ‘I’ll be there for you. Don’t know why’.”

Produced by Jim Anderson at Toronto’s Easy Life Studio, the single features Arcade Fire‘s Tim Kingsbury playing bass on a hauntingly sparse arrangement and melody. Certainly, the latest track will further cement Hussein’s reputation for being an fearlessly uncompromising and emotionally direct; in this case, the single possesses a subtle but palpably weary ache underlined with simple yet profound joys — the profound joy of being treated kindly when you are “a traveler, a man from far away,” as Paul Salopek once wrote. But along with that, there’s a deep connection that one has for a place whenever you’re far away, and I can recall in many instances when I’ve traveled abroad, finding myself inexplicably bonding with a fellow American with familiar places (even those I’ve never been before) holding a mythical weight to them. 

Created by Mac Boucher and Gnarly Bangs, the recently released video for “Wild Card” manages to nod at the videotapes her parents recorded that depict their lives with a country Hussein never knew and cheap homemade videos of people noodling around with a video recorder — and as a result, the visuals emphasize the song’s uncommon intimacy. 

New Video: Introducing the 90s Grunge Inspired Sounds and Visuals of Up-and-Coming British Band Sitting Pretty

Sitting Pretty is a Plymouth, UK-based indie rock band, founded in early 2014 and within a few months of writing and rehearing material, the band was offered their first live gig opening for Ocean Colour Scene’s and Paul Weller’s Steve Craddock, and adding to the growing buzz around them, they promptly followed it with a handful of festival sets, including at The Cider Festival, as well as a set at Plymouth’s largest music venue, Plymouth Pavilions before wrapping up the year opening for Cast’s and The La’s John Power’s acoustic tour. The following year, found the band becoming a figure on the local music scene — an achievement for a scene that predominantly consists of cover bands. Along with that, the band spent 2015 opening for up-and-coming band The Bulletproof Bomb and CAST during their 25th anniversary tour. 

The Plymouth-based band’s latest single “Then You Break” reveals a band that specializes in a sound that meshes elements of classic rock, grunge rock, psych rock and indie rock that’s reminiscent of Screaming Trees and Mark Lanegan’s solo career, as the band pairs fuzzy power chords and anthemic hooks with a propulsive rhythm section — and interestingly enough, the band’s frontman Conor Wilde’s vocal stylings are reminiscent of a young Mark Lanegan. In fact, it shouldn’t surprise you that I immediately thought of Screaming Trees’ “All I Know” and “Nearly Lost You” but with a expansive song structure.

As the band’s Wilde explains “we started messing around with the riff and melodies for this single, ‘Then You Break’. Lyrically for me the song is about struggling to understand all the shit I see every day and the feelings that come along with it, and the bulk of this song is about being confused and trapped which ironically is what makes everything seem normal for a twenty something year old these days. It has taken us months to get this track off the ground but we had some good advice from Ian Hunter, who invited us out with him last year and he told me that  ‘You should always strive to write about something that means a lot to you.’  So I did.”  

The band is currently working on their full-length debut, slated for release sometime next year and have been expanding their profile across the UK with opening gigs for Primal Scream, Black Grape, Reverend and The Makers and Foals, as well as Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter. But in the meantime, the recently released video is decidedly 90s grunge rock-inspired, as it features the band performing the song on the street in front of some dramatic and sweeping strobe lights. 

New Video: Introducing the Dark and Menacing Post Punk Sounds and Visuals of Paris’ SURE

SURE is a rather mysterious Paris-based post punk/dark wave act, who in an email described their sound as “dark songs to dance in caves.” Their murky and moody, debut single “Tasting Revenge” consists of a forcefully persistent kick drum, angular and propulsive bass lines,  slashing guitar chords fed through layers of distortion paired with vocals that are submerged within the mix and industrial clang and clatter.  And in some way, the French band’s sound manages to channel Joy Division and The Sisters of Mercy, as well as contemporaries like Chain of Flowers and Bambara, 

The recently released accompanying visuals for the song as the band notes may cause discomfort and seizures for those who suffer from photosensitive epilepsy, as it features the members of the band in murky black and white with strobe lights flashing around them as they play in an empty room. 

New Video: Estonian Dream Pop/Shoegaze Act Pia Fraus Returns with New Material off First Album in Close to a Decade

Currently comprised of founding members Kärt Ojavee (synths), Rein Fuks (guitars, vocals) and Reijo Tagapere (bass), along with newest members Eve Komp (vocals, synths, metallophone) and Margus Voolpriit (drums), the Tallinn, Estonia-based shoegazer act Pia Fraus can trace their origins to when its founding members  Ojavee, Fuks, and Tagapere along with Tõnis Kenkmaa, Joosep Volk and Kristen Loide met while they were all attending art school. 

Starting as a sextet, the band spent 1998 writing material and by the following year, they began playing gigs in and around Tallinn. By 2001, the band had written and self-released their full-length debut Wonder What It’s Like and then sent demos to several different labels before catching the attention of American record label Clairecrords, who released their sophomore full-length effort In Solarium. And although in the following years, the band went through a series of lineup changes, they managed to be rather prolific — they released two EPs, 2003’s Plastilina and 2005’s self-released Mooie Island. Along with that the band’s sophomore effort In Solarium was released as an expanded edition in Japan through Vinyl-Junkie Recordings, who also released a compilation Sailing on a Grapefruit Lake, which featured two accompanying videos. The Estonian shoegazers followed up 2006’s self-released Nature Heart Software and 2008’s Norman Blake-produced, fourth album, After Summer. 

Adding to a growing profile, the members of Pia Fraus have opened for the likes of Ulrich Schnauss, Animal Collective,  Frida Hyvönen, Fleckfumie and Suburban Kids With Biblical Names and have had their work remixed by the likes of His Name Is Alive, Teenage Fanclub, Ulrich Schnauss, Hood, Airiel, Mahogany, Picnic, Wolfredt, Jatun, Bill Wills, Guther, Miwon, Fleckfumie, Mondil, Future Pilot Aka, Seeland, International Airport, 3Pead, Mirabilia, Galaktlan and Pastacas. Along with that they released a split 7 inch vinyl single with Ulrich Schnauss and as well as a remix compilation, Ten Remixes of Yenissey. 

The band had literally disappeared for close to a decade, before releasing a string of singles over the past year, from Field Ceremony, the Estonian shoegazers’ first full-length effort in almost a decade, slated for an October 13, 2017 release here in the States and an October 16, 2017 release in Europe, Japan and elsewhere. And as you’ll hear off album single “That’s Not All,” the Tallinn, Estonia-based act manage to maintain the dream pop sound that won international attention while expanding upon their sound — in this case, jangling guitars fed through pedal effects are paired with a rousingly anthemic hooks, swirling electronics and a use of plaintive boy-girl harmonies to create a dreamy song that possesses an underlying urgent swoon. 

Directed by the band’s Joosep Volk, the recently released visuals follows the band’s Eve Komp as she’s driving to a rehearsal/show/studio to play with the band, and from there, the video employs a relatively simple concept — the band performing the song but shot with hazy filters and gently blurred closeups. 

New Video: The Aptly Psychedelic Visuals for POND’s “Colder Than Ice”

Founded by frontman, primary member and creative mastermind Jay Watson POND is a Perth, Australia-based psych rock project that features a rotating cast of musicians and collaborators including Tame Impala frontman and primary member Kevin Parker. The project’s 2009 full-length debut Psychedelic Mango was much more psych rock and psych pop-leaning but with 2010’s Frond, Watson and company had increasingly taken up a much heavier pop sound. 2012’s Beard, Wives, Denim was an international breakthrough and was released to critical praise. 

Interestingly enough, the material on Beard, Wives, Denim was written and recorded around the release of Tame Impala’s critically applauded breakthrough effort Innerspeaker and with the growing buzz around Australia’s music scene, the members of Pond found themselves touring internationally to support the album — and it included an appearance at that year’s SXSW and a one-off show with CAN‘s Damo Suzuki, a major influence on Watson and his sound.

Watson and company’s latest effort The Weather continues their ongoing collaboration with Kevin Parker, and the album’s latest single “Colder Than Ice” pairs Watson’s sultry falsetto with a production consisting of icy and shimmering synths, stuttering beats and a motorik groove in what may arguably be one of the more dance floor friendly tracks they’ve released in some time; but underneath the swaggering surface is a trippy, kaleidoscopic vibe. 

Co-directed by the members of POND and George Foster, the recently released visuals feature members of the band in gritty, Eastern European-like environs and stars Kirin  J. Callinan as a dancing cowboy — and naturally, it’s a trippy accompaniment to the song. 

New Video: DJ Manipulator and Louie Gonz Return with Gorgeous and Meditative Visuals for Album Single “Forward”

Over the course of the past summer, you may have come across a couple of posts featuring the Massachusetts-based hip-hop duo DJ Manipulator and Louie Gonz, and as you may recall the duo have collaborated together in a number of ways through the years; however, 2014’s Private Stock was the duo’s debut as a cohesive, collaborative unit. 

The duo’s sophomore effort together, The Loops was released earlier this year, and the album was intended to be a bold reintroduction to the duo, whose sound draws from soulful, golden era hip-hop — all while avoiding mimicry. Interestingly, The Loops’ latest single “Forward” finds Louie Gonz, putting aside the braggadocio and rhyming with a sober and sincere thoughtfulness on the struggles, demons and difficulties he’s faced both as a person and artist, including haters, naysayers and critics, the deaths of dear loved ones and friends, alcohol, depression, the possibility of an empty life without music and even Satan — but throughout it all, the message is that Gonz and Manipulator have always focused on their dream of creating music, which has kept them moving forward. Gonz’s lyrics are paired with a soulful and meditative DJ Manipulator production that subtly nods at Pete Rock and CL Smooth.

Shot in a cinematic black and white and co-directed by DJ Manipulator and Louie Gonz, the visuals follow nearly every element of Gonz’s lyrics, as it follows Gonz through daily life in his hometown, spending time with his beloved family and loved ones, struggling with alcohol (with the bottle of rum he can’t seem to put down); in fact, the video reveals a humility and honesty that can sometimes be all too rare in hip hop, before closing with a dedication to Gonz’s late father, Luis A. Gonzalez, Sr. 

New Video: The Surreal and Feverish Visuals for METZ’s “Cellophane”

As it’s turned out, over the past week or two, I’ve focused on a number of JOVM mainstays, who are set to release new material throughout the next few weeks — including the  Toronto, ON-based punk rock trio METZ. And as you may recall, the Canadian punk trio exploded into the blogosphere with 2014’s self titled debut and 2015’s sophomore effort II, thanks in part to a sludgy,  face-melting, power-chord based sound reminiscent of Bleach and In Utereo-era Nirvana, A Place to Bury Strangers, Japandroids and others.

The trio’s highly-anticipated, full-length album is slated for release tomorrow through Sub Pop Records, and the the album, which the trio recorded with the legendary Steve Albini at Chicago’s Electrical Audio Studio live to tape and features home recordings and additional instrumentation added by their longtime collaborator, engineer and mixer Graham Walsh back in Toronto.  Reportedly, the new album finds the band pushing their sound and songwriting in a new direction while retaining the furious and intense energy of their live shows — while thematically, the material may arguably be the most politically-charged yet personally written material to date, presumably at least partially influenced by life in the age of Donald Trump, and an urgent sociopolitical climate in which everything seems to be constantly spiraling out of control. “The songs on Strange Peace are about uncertainty. They’re about recognizing that we’re not always in control of our own fate, and about admitting our mistakes and fears,” the band’s Alex Eakins explained in press notes. “They’re about finding some semblance of peace within the chaos.”

“Cellophane,” Strange Peace‘s first single finds  the Canadian punk trio retaining the sledgehammer forcefulness, sludgy power chords and rousing hooks that first caught the attention of the blogosphere and this site, but there’s an underlying, hard-fought maturity and vulnerability within the song — the sort that recognizes that the world can frequently be an unforgivably brutal, unfair and frightening place, and that although there no easy answers, we can (and should) take comfort from others, and fight for them as much as we’d fight for ourselves. 

The recently released video for “Cellophane” was directed by Shayne Ehman and as he explains in press notes, the visuals “depict a sphere where consciousness is split, and a world of contrast unfolds. The resulting disembodiment disperses one’s spatial awareness and new kinds of empathy develop. Two become three, and it’s only half the story . . . ” Oh, and there’s an adorably goofy, rock throwing octopus, too. 

New Video: ACES Returns with Symbolic and Cinematically Shot Visuals for “If I Could Be Your Girl”

With the release of her first three singles  — the achingly vulnerable “What Do You Think They’ll Say About Me,” the part torch song, part wistful and tender farewell “I’m Already Gone” and the slow-burning Quiet Storm-era R&B inspired pop song “Find Me Out,” the Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based electro pop artist and filmmaker Alexandra Stewart and her recording project ACES quickly became a mainstay artist on this site, as well as received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a subtly modern and atmospheric take on cinematic, 80s synth pop.

Although Stewart’s highly-anticipated Ian Miller-produced Stranger EP dropped earlier this year, the EP’s first official single “If I Could Be Your Girl” was released towards the end of last year, and as Stewart explained at the time in press notes, the single “is the true  ACES getaway track, but today, I’m not sure where we’re heading. ‘I Could Be Your Girl’ is about being honest with yourself and realizing when you deserve more. I hope it can be a voice for all of us doing some self-reflection right now . . . the future is female!” Unsurprisingly, the single will further cement Stewart’s reputation for her tender and breathy cooing being paired with an sparse, atmospheric yet cinematic production featuring gently trembling synths, hi-hat flashes, thumping beats and gently swirling electronics. And while the song is slow-burning, Quiet Storm-like ballad, it possesses an emotional urgency — after all, the song’s narrator has recognized that while she may have profound emotional attachment to her object of affection, that person isn’t good for her, and as a result, she’s making the painful decision of ending it for good; but underneath the steely reserve, there’s a palpable sense of trepidation, as though the song’s narrator is putting on a brave face to prevent anyone from seeing the uncertainty she actually feels.

The recently released video is a collaboration with director Chelsy Mitchell and the concept behind it comes from a mutual admiration for each other’s work. Using colored filters as a way to dramatize and to abstract the narrative, the video features Stewart shifting between light an dark at an artfully shot, French New Wave-inspired party/prom scene. At the party, the video’s protagonist meets eyes with a potential love interest, who slowly transforms her into a doppelganger of the silent Greek chorus-like women wearing pink, who watch from every angle. And as you can imagine, the new video will also further cement Stewart’s reputation for paring her work with highly symbolic and cinematically shot visuals.


New Video: The Startling Visuals for Superet’s Arena Rock Meets Art School Rock Single “Receiver”

Comprised of long-term friends and musical collaborators Matt Blitzer (vocals, guitar), Alex Fischer (keys), Sam KS (drums), Patrick Kelly and Isaac Tamburino (guitar, keys, percussion), the Los Angeles-based indie rock quintet Superet officially formed on Valentine’s Day last year, and the long-time friends view the band as the culmination of a  longstanding creative kinship that’s been fostered through a series of bands and projects. Interestingly, the band derive their name from the facade of a decrepit Los Angeles area church, known for housing a cult — with superset being Latin for “may it overflow,” which from my understanding may be a very apt description for a band that spent the past year reclusively writing material that the band has been quietly releasing since the early part of this year.

“Receiver,” the band’s latest single was mixed by Dave Fridmann, who has worked with Spoon, MGMT and Tame Impala is a hook-driven song that features shimmering guitar chords, an angular yet propulsive rhythm section, loads of guitar feedback and buzzing power chords paired with crooned vocals within a prototypical grunge rock-like song structure: alternating quiet and loud sections. And while possessing an apt arena rock bombast, the song manages a mischievous art school rock sheen, as it’s a guitar rock anthem — from the outer reaches of the known universe.

Directed by the band’s frontman Matt Blitzer, the video’s main concept was to pair a visual component with the song that was “simple and unsettling,” and in this case, the video features members of the band in front of a black background rubbing their faces as to clean them; but managing to reveal another band members’ face just underneath the surface to create something that’s creepily nightmarish. 

New Video: Found Recordings Set to Release Previously Unreleased Third Album from Seattle-based Grunge Rockers Gruntruck

Initially formed in 1989, the Seattle, WA-based grunge rock band Gruntruck featured Skin Yard’s Ben McMillan (vocals) and Norman Scott (drums), The Accused’s Tommy Niemeyer (guitar) and Final Warning’s Tim Paul (bass) can trace their origins to when founding members Ben McMillan and Norman Scott wrote a song while on tour with Skin Yard that they had was worthy of forming a new band around. Interestingly enough, around the same time Scott had a brief stint with Soundgarden and collaborated with Chris Cornell on a lesser-known project, the low frequency power trio Bass Truck. And with the new song and other material that McMillan and Scott started to write together, they decided to blend the sound that Norman developed in Bass Truck — in other words, a harder, more metal-leaning grunge rock sound.

1990’s Jack Endino and Gary King-produced debut Inside You was released through Seattle-based label Empty Records with a simultaneous release through German label Musical Tragedies. Along with the release of their debut, the band released a Henry Shepherd-produced video for album single “Not a Lot to Save,” which received airplay on MTV. (I should note that Henry Shepherd is the brother of Soundgarden’s Ben Shepherd.) Interestingly, the members of Gruntruck had opened for Pearl Jam throughout 1991 — and in particular, they opened for Pearl Jam on the night that renowned grunge rockers filmed the video for “Even Flow.” With the growing buzz on all things Seattle, the members of Gruntruck signed a multi-album deal with Roadrunner Records, who re-released Inside Yours later that year. 1992’s sophomore Endino and King-produced effort Push featured album track “Tribe,” which received regular rotation on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. Building upon a growing profile, Gruntruck opened for Alice in Chains during their 1992 US and Canadian tour, as well as in Europe during the winter of 1993 with Pantera. After the band returned to Seattle, they went through several lineup changes but they released a video for “Crazy Love,” which received airplay on MTV, including a reference on Beavis and Butthead, in which a stunned Butthead mused “I must be hallucinating now. I can’t believe they’re playing something cool. These guys rock!”

At the height of their popularity in 1996, the members of the band were struggling to make ends meet while fulfilling contractual obligations to Roadrunner Records. Polygram Records offered to buy out Gruntruck’s contract for $1 million, but the folks at Roadrunner Records refused. Based on the advice of their lawyer, the band filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to break free of their contract, which was promptly followed by their label suing to block their bankruptcy petition. The result was a precedent-setting case that’s been cited in subsequent cases, written up in legal journals and eventually inspired congressional legislation. Although the court eventually ruled in Gruntruck’s favor, their various legal issues exacted a financial and emotional toil on the band — despite the fact that they were attempting to recapture some of the momentum they had captured before.

By 1997, the band’s original lineup reunited and they had been working on new material together and some of the songs written wound up comprising the material on their self-titled third album, an effort that the band envisioned as a breakthrough effort. The album was recorded over a two year period in five different studios in and around Seattle with Jack Endino and Martin Feveyear, who has worked with Queens of the Stone Age, Mudhoney and Screaming Trees taking up production duties, and once it was finished the band went through a busy live schedule in Seattle, to build up buzz for the album; however by 2003, the band went on hiatus, as McMillan needed time to recover from health issues.

Sadly McMillan died from complications related to diabetes in 2008, and the third album languished in the vaults until last year, when Jack Endino mentioned its existence to Found Recordings head, Scott Blum, who pushed to get the album released. And over a decade since its initial recording, Gruntruck’s self-titled album is slated for an October 13, 2017 release, and the album’s first official single “Bar Fly,” features an ambitious arena rock sound consisting of enormous power chords, a shout worthy chorus and while clearly nodding at metal, the band’s sound manages to be reminiscent of Dirt-era Alice in Chains and Purple-era Stone Temple Pilots. Interestingly, the song will strike many as a remanent of a decidedly particular period — 1996-1998 or so — but underneath that, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been; after all, for the rare Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgardens, etc., there’s countless bands, who get close to making it and many more that never make it.

Filmed by Thomas Engisn and edited by Gary Lundgren, the recently released music video features grainy VHS footage from the band’s original lineup performing sweaty, ass-kicking shows — and it’ll remind you of watching similar videos on 120 Minutes and other video shows.