Category: Video Review

New Video: The Murky 80s MTV-Inspired Visuals of Second Still’s “You Two So Alike”

Over the past month or so, I’ve written a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based post-punk trio Second Still. And as you may recall, the band, which is comprised of its founding members Ryan Walker (guitar) and Alex Hartman (bass) along with Suki San (vocals) can actually trace their origins to when Walker and Hartman met in 2007 in Los Angeles. Four years later he duo had relocated to New York and at that point, they had recorded over 100 instrumental demos, which were largely inspired by French coldwave and No Wave. While in New York, Walker and Hartman spent a significant amount of time, searching high and low for a vocalist that they felt could match their intensity and creative output — and when they met Suki San, they felt an immediate simpatico.
The trio’s first show was a party at the now-condemned McKibbin Street Lofts that was famously shut down by the police during their set’s second song. And building upon the buzz of that incident, the band recorded their debut EP, Early Forms, which was released last March as a limited edition cassette that quickly sold out. Making the most of their time, while they were living in Brooklyn, the members of the band wrote and recorded the material, which would eventually comprise their soon-to-be released, self-titled, full-length debut — and the material on the album thematically covers deeply post-modern subjects: depression, frustration, anxiety and alienation.

Relocating back to Los Angeles, the band released two singles “Walls” and “Recover,” that revealed a decided sonic departure from their previously released EP; in fact, “Recover” finds the band nodding at 80s post-punk, in particular Sixousie and the Banshees as San’s gorgeous vocals, which to my ears bear an uncanny resemblance to Sixousie Sioux’s are paired with angular and shimmering guitar chords played through reverb and delay pedal, a propulsive bass line and stark, industrial-leaning drum programming. And as a result, the song simultaneously possesses a brooding chilliness and a motorik groove. “Strangers,” the second single off the band’s debut sonically continues on a similar vein, sounding as though it drew from Siousxie and the Banshees’ “Happy House” and “Israel” but with a clean, modern production sheen and a slashing and forceful guitar solo.

Although it may arguably be one of the shorter running singles on their album as it clocks in at a little over 2 minutes, “You Two So Alike” is one of the eeriest songs they’ve released to date, as it was inspired by “an article Suki read about Brittany Maynard, a woman who decided to commit suicide after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, a few years ago,” and by the End of Life Clinic in The Netherlands, as the band told Buzzbands LA. Sonically speaking, it continues the same mood and tone of the album’s previously released singles as the band pairs a sleek and chilly, motorik groove, propulsive, industrial-leaning drum programming and shimmering guitar work — and while clearly drawing from 80s post-punk, the material balances slick production with a raw and visceral emotionality.

Directed by the band and Alison Littrel, the recently released video manages to be reminiscent of early 80s music videos. Shot on grainy VHS-style tape, the video features the band playing and brooding in front of projection screens, which gives the video an appropriate murky and eerie vibe.

New Video: The Headbangers Ball-Inspired Sounds and Visuals of Power Trip’s “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)”

Comprised of Riley Gale, Blake Ibanez, Chris Ulsh, Nick Stewart and Chris Whetzel, the Dallas, TX-based metal quintet Power Trip have developed a reputation for a bruising sound that draws heavily from 80s and 90s heavy metal; in fact, “Firing Squad,” off their recently released Nightmare Logic is reminiscent of Slayer, Metallica Iron Maiden and even Motorhead; but with a subtly modern production sheen. And the album’s latest single, “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” continues on a similar, punishing vein as blistering cascades of power chords, propulsive and thundering drumming, howled lyrics and an emphasis on rousingly anthemic, mosh pit-friendly hooks.

Directed by Andy Capper, the recently released music video for the bruising “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” uses footage from a rowdy hometown show and cuts clips of warfare — including soldiers firing machine guns, bombs blowing up tanks, cars and other things, nuclear bomb tests and the stupid, orange-skinned face of blind, swaggering, Mussolini-like, new fascism. Reportedly, the visuals emphasize Gale’s furious lyrics, which focus on devaluation of human life by those who’ve gained immense power through money and politics, and while visually being reminiscent of the sorts of videos you’d see on Headbanger’s Ball.

New Video: The Bluesy Sounds and Visuals for Winstons Barn-burning “Enough”

Comprised of Lou Nutting (guitar, harmonica, vocals) and Ben Brock Wilkes (drums, vocals), the up-and-coming Virginia-born, Brooklyn-based duo Winstons can actually trace their origins to when the duo met while working at Williamsburg hotspot Baby’s All Right. With the release of two EPs Turpentine and Black Dust back in 2015, the Brooklyn-based duo received attention for a soulful, garage, blues rock that owes an equal debt to The Black Keys, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins complete with a visceral and forceful earnestness — and for making a decided point of recording live to tape, with no touch-ups, no overdubs, no retakes; first thought, best thought.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Without You,” off their “Without You”/”Enough” 7 inch, a single bluesy single that possessed a forceful immediacy and heartache and an anthemic, arena rock sized hook. And building upon the buzz that “Without You” has received, the duo released the B side single “Enough” a single which will further cement their burgeoning reputation for crafting raw, urgent, blues-leaning garage rock with arena-friendly, anthemic hooks — and while drawing from The Black Keys, the mid-tempo barnburner manages to nod at The Band and The Animals.

Directed by Buried Muse, the recently released music video for the single follows in a similar vein as the visuals for “Without Out,” as the video follows the duo jamming on the roof and performing inside Williamsburg’s Baby’s All Right, broodingly smoking cigarettes out of their window, thinking about the past, and heading to a local bar, where they encounter their dopplegangers — with a natural sense of suspicion. In some way, it captures the rock ‘n’ roll life, suggesting that it’s far more cooler than living an actual life, complete with banality, routine and utter boredom.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Ultrviolence Return with the Stark and Lonely Visuals for New Single “Guillotine”

Throughout their history together, the Calgary, AB-based indie rock/darkwave/New Wave/post-punk act Ultrviolence have developed a reputation for adhering to old-school DIY principles and for frequently ignoring the clichés and dictates of the music industry machine. And over the past couple of years, the band has caught the attention of the blogosphere — and in particular this site, for a sound that seemingly draws from Joy Division, Interpol, Viet Cong and others.

Since the release of last year’s Black Sea EP, the band has gone through a massive lineup change with Nate Jespersen (vocals, bass), the sole founding member, collaborating with several members of Vancouver, BC-based indie rock band ACTORS. Produced by ACTORS’ Jason Corbett, the project’s much-anticipated follow-up to Black Sea EP, Forty Knives EP finds Jespersen and the band’s new lineup building upon the moody, post-punk sound that first caught the attention of this site and the blogosphere while thematically evoking the dark and seemingly unending solitude that arises when one allows themselves to be completely isolated from the world.

“Guillotine,” Forty Knives’ first single is a hauntingly moody and atmospheric track, which finds the band pairing jangling guitar chords played through reverb and delay pedal, shimmering synth chords, a propulsive bass line and a metronomic-like drumming paired with Jespersen’s equally moody baritone vocals. Interestingly, with my 38th birthday being yesterday, this particular song evokes something profoundly familiar — the lingering and embittering ghosts and ill-feelings of a particularly dysfunctional and/or ambivalent relationship; the awareness of time passing by and of the built-in regret that you’ve squandered the most valuable and important commodity you’ll ever know — time; and that feeling of stepping away from the wreckage of a lengthy relationship and not quite knowing what to do next or how to even go about it. And as a result, the song possesses a visceral ache.

The recently released video for the song nods at Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and INXS’ “Need You Tonight”/”Mediate” as the video features a man on the side of the road, holding cardboard signs with the song’s lyrics; however, this man is hitchhiking with a sense of desperate urgency.

New Video: The Darkly Seductive and Soulful Visuals and Sounds of The Afghan Whigs’ Newest Single “Demon In Profile”

Currently comprised of founding members Greg Dulli (guitar, vocals) and John Curley (bass) along with Dave Rosser (guitar), Jon Skibic (guitar), multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson and Cully Symington (drums), the Cincinnati, OH-based septet The Afghan Whigs can trace its origins to when its founding members — Dulli, Curley and Steve Earle (drums) founded the band in 1986 after the breakup of Dulli’s previous band The Black Republicans. Curley introduced Dulli to Rick McCollum (guitar), a frequent jam partner, who had developed a reputation across the Cincinnati scene for use of effects pedals. With their initial lineup finalized, Dulli has publicly described the band as intending to be a cross between The Band, The Temptations and Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

Although the band has gone through several lineups, including a lengthy breakup and a recent reunion, the Cincinnati-based band has the distinction of being among the first batch of bands that Sub Pop Records signed outside of the Pacific Northwest, as well as being one of the more highly-regarded and critically applauded bands of the early 90s, with 1993’s Gentlemen landing at number 17 on The Village Voice’s Pazz and Jop critics list and 1996’s Black Love, which landed at number 79 on the Billboard Top 200, while being critically praised for a sound that reportedly drew from 1970s Rolling Stones while setting themselves apart from the rock music being released that year.

After their breakup in 2001, the members of the band went on towards other creative pursuits — with Dulli frequently and famously collaborating with Mark Lanegan and others; but after reuniting for a series of festival tours, the band released 2014’s Do To The Beast, which marked both the band’s first proper release in over 16 years and the band’s return to Sub Pop Records. And while arguably being one of that year’s most forceful albums rooted around Dulli’s angst and bile-filled lyrics, evoking the bitter, lingering and fucked up memories of a relationship gone terribly sour; but while also focusing on Dulli’s long-held obsessions.

In Spades, the band’s forthcoming album is slated for a May 5, 2017 release through Sub Pop Records and the album, which was produced by the band’s Greg Dulli reportedly finds the band at their most soulful and urgent and while being darkly seductive, emphasizing a pop leaning sensibility. And much like their previously recorded work, the material manages to be veiled. “It’s a spooky record,” notes Dulli. “I like that it’s veiled. It’s not a concept album per se, but as I began to assemble it, I saw an arc and followed it. To me, it’s about memory — in particular, how quickly life and memory can blur together.” And as you’ll hear on the album’s first single “Demon In Profile,” the song evokes life’s lingering ghosts — the electric touch of a lover’s skin, their smell and the sense of loss and confusion that permeates everything once a person is no longer in your life, and how at times its inescapable, that letting go seems impossible and unfeasible. While being one of the more soulful tunes the band has released, thanks in part to the horn section, its one of the sexiest yet anthemic songs they’ve released in some time.

The recently released video possesses a dream like logic as it follows several characters haunted by both their demons and their pasts in various ways — but spending the most amount of time on a fat, washed up, weary and arrogant pop star, getting ready to perform before a crowd of teenyboppers. But is it the present? Or is it a glorious past that of wild success, drugs and women that fuel this fantasy? And it ends suggesting that it’s main character is stuck within some uneasy, never-ending, dread-filled nightmare.

New Video: The Surreal and Gorgeous Visuals for Nick Hakim’s “Bet She Looks Like You”

Up until relatively recently, it had been some since I had written about the Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Nick Hakim; however, 2017 looks to be a big year for the renowned singer/songwriter as his much-anticipated full-length debut Green Twins is slated for a May 19, 2017 release through ATO Records — and if you had stumbled across this site earlier today, you’d remember that Hakim is currently on tour to build up buzz for the new material until its release.

Interestingly enough, as the story goes, Hakim can trace the origins of the material of Green Twins to when armed with the masters for his first two EPs Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where Will We Go Part 2, the DC-born singer/songwriter and guitarist relocated from Boston, where he was based at the time to Brooklyn. And as soon as he got himself settled, he spent his spare time fleshing out incomplete songs and writing and recording sketches and lyrics using his phone’s voice memo app and a four-track cassette recorder. He then took his new, demo’d material to various studios in NYC, Philadelphia and London, where he built up the material with a number of engineers, including frequent collaborator Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the material intact as much as humanly possible.

As Andrew Sarlo explained in press notes about the writing and recording process for Green Twins, for many artists, a demo typically serves an extremely rough sketch of what the song could eventually become and sound; however, with the Hakim, the general sense is that the demos are much more like building a holy temple — and as a result, as a producer and engineer, he was tasked to clean, furnish and prepare entrants for a religious experience. Thematically speaking, the material on the album reportedly focuses on unique and rather particular aspects of his life with the bulk of the songs based on specific things he was thinking and feeling at the time he was writing and composing. And as a result, the album consists of a series of different self-portraits — and in a similar fashion to Vincent Van Gogh’s famed self-portraits, the album’s song captures the artist sometimes in broad strokes but frequently in subtle gradations of mood, tone and feeling. Hakim adds, “I also felt the need to push my creativity in a different way than I had on the EPs,” The record draws from influences spanning Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye and Shuggie Otis to My Bloody Valentine. We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.”

Green Twins’ first single, “Bet She Looks Like You,” will further cement Hakim’s growing reputation for deeply intimate, confessional songwriting that manages to be heartbreakingly visceral while being a subtle expansion upon the sound that first won attention as it retains a spectral quality but with a subtle, bluesy swagger reminiscent of Roy Orbison. Interestingly, the recently released video for the song follows Hakim as he walks to a studio space in what appears to be Sunset Park, near Industrial City where he takes part in a surreal play full of dream-like imagery, missed chances, miscommunication — and some popping and locking.

New Video: The Gorgeous and Moody, Post- Apocalyptic Visuals for Phantom’s “Dance”

Phantom is a Helsinki, Finland-based, newlywed, electro pop duo comprised of jazz-trained vocalist and poet Hanna Toivonen and tech-futurist and producer Tommi Koskinen. And since their formation in 2012, the duo have received praise both nationally and internationally for a sound that has drawn comparisons to Bjork, Morcheeba and The Knife, along with developing a reputation for using new and evolving technologies to further expand and experiment with their sound. In fact, Koskinen built a multi-dimensional technology dubbed The UFO (Ultrasonic Frequency Oscillator) in the duo’s studio space, and as its been described, the user plays and controls the device by flailing their hands above a flying saucer-looking MIDI controller. He also developed a real-time visual projection software called Z Vector, which uses Kinect 3D cameras and audio data from the sounds of their live performances to create an immersive, multimedia-based live set.

MMXII, the duo’s recently released full-length effort derives its name from the year the duo started collaborating together, and the album’s first single “Dance” manages to feature a moody and atmospheric production consisting of scillating synths, twinkling keys, wobbling, tweeter and woofer rocking low end, futuristic, electronic bleeps and bloops and shuffling drum programming paired with Toivonen’s effortlessly soulful vocals. and a gorgeous piano-based arrangement. Sonically speaking, the song sounds as though it draws from several different sources — Morecheeba in particular, but also from Portishead, Niki and the Dove and others, complete with a rousing and soaring hook.

The recently release video features the duo performing the song, while an expressive modern dancer dances to the song in front of a giant projection screen — but the video seems to be set in a dystopian future similar to ours.

New Video: The Anthemic, M83-Channeling Sound of Finnish-born, Spanish-based Producer Future Ark

Tero Heikkinen is Helsinki, Finland-born, Seville, Spain-based composer, who has a lengthy career composing music for short films, documentaries and modern dance pieces; however, his solo recording project Future Ark is a sonic departure from his previous work, the project finds Heikkinen employing the use of experimental and contemporary sound design and electronic production techniques, with bits of organic instrumentation while drawing from a diverse array of styles including downtempo, ambient and synthwave.

Heikkinen’s Future Ark debut Joy was deeply inspired by the birth of his second son, which was a roller coaster ride of positive emotions. And as a result, the EP’s first single and EP opening track “Pacific Highway” features an effortlessly slick production consisting of undulating and shimmering synths, skittering percussion, propulsive drum beats, a soaring, anthemic, M83-like hook and an otherworldly, cosmic sheen — while evoking the buzzing enthusiasm and sense of discovery on a trip to someplace completely new.

Because the composition has a summery feel, the recently released music video consists of videos of fan shot footage of beaches from Spain and elsewhere across the world, and in some way the video manages to evoke the hope and excitement that people all over the world feel about summer.

New Video: The Sensual Visuals and Sounds of French Electro Pop Act Juveniles Latest Single “Someone Better”

With the release of their 2012 debut EP We Are Young through renowned French electronic music label Kitsune Records, the-then French electronic production and artist duo Juveniles, which featured Thibault Doray and its sole remaining member Jean-Sylvan Le Gouic, best known as Jean Sylvain quickly received attention for slick, hypermodern, super-computerized, dance floor-friendly productions. Building upon a rapidly growing profile among electronic music circles, the duo released their 2013 Yuksek-produced full-length debut, which expanded the then-duo’s profile across the European Union, Southeast Asia, China and South America.

Since the release of the project’s full-length debut, the project has gone through several significant changes — Doray left the project, leaving it solely under the helm of Sylvain and his sophomore full-length effort Without Warning, which officially was released today through Paradis/Capitol Records finds Sylvain releasing music on a new label after several years with Kitsune Records. Produced and recorded by Joakim at Crowdspacer Studios here in NYC, Without Warning finds the French electronic music artist going through a radical change in sonic direction and approach as he abandons the fully computerized sound of his previously released work to embrace a much more human approach, complete with organic instrumentation, featuring contributions from The Juan Maclean’s, Holy Ghost!’s and Yeasayer’s Christopher Berry (drums) and Big Data’s Ben Campbell (bass), along with pre-digital and traditional mixing and production techniques.

Without Warning’s latest single “Someone Better” features a sinuous and propulsive bass line paired with blocks of arpeggio organ and synth chords, four-on-the-floor drumming, and Sylvain’s sensual and seductive crooning with some of the sharpest, most dance-floor friendly hooks I’ve heard in quite some time. And while arguably being one of the warmest, most soulful, the French electronic music artist has released to date, the song clearly draws from classic disco, bearing a resemblance to Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real,” Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” but with a subtly modern production sheen.

Produced by Rodrigo Huarte, the recently released music video for “Someone Better” is comprised of a behind the scenes look at anti-hero cop movie in which its main character has a highly-stylized and dramatic love affair with a presumed “hooker with a heart of gold” type character and while the actors “on screen” play up a steamy relationship that they clearly don’t have — at various points, you can tell that both actors are wondering when they’re getting paid or thinking about what they’re doing once the scene is finally over — behind the scenes, two members of the crew, discretely hook up as the rest of the crew films the movie’s key love scene.

New Audio: The Trippy and Psychedelic Sounds and Visuals of The Seshen’s “Colors Collide”

Throughout the end of last year, I wrote quite a bit about San Francisco Bay Area-based electro pop/electro R&B/electro soul act The Seshen. Interestingly, the act comprised of founding members Lalin St. Juste (vocals) and Akiyoshi Ehara (bass, production) with Kasha Rockland (vocals), Mizra Kopelman (percussion) and Kumar Butler (sampler) have recede attention both across the Bay Area and elsewhere for a sound and aesthetic that draws from a diverse and eclectic array of influences including Erykah Badu, Jai Paul, James Blake, Radiohead, Broadcast, hip-hop, indie rock, electronica — with the result being a sound that managed to be simultaneously contemporary and retro-futuristic.

Now you may recall that I had written about the first two singles off the act’s sophomore full-length effort Flames and Figures — “Distant Heart,” a slickly produced, sleek and sensual, synth-based single that sounded as though it were influenced by 80s synth-based R&B and pop and “Already Gone,” a sultry and sensual track that subtly nodded at Giorgio Moroder’s legendary and incredibly sexy productions. However, the album’s third and latest single “Colors Collide” finds the Bay Area-based act pairing St. Juste’s nostalgic, stream-of-consciousness lyrics and sultry vocals with hazy mellotron, layered rhythms, a distorted and chopped up vocal sample, swirling electronics and shimmering synths to craft a sound that nods at trippy, 60s-inspired psych pop, experimental pop and prog rock thanks to a song structure that consists of several shifting and morphing sections held together by the song’s hazy vibe and a deep longing for more.

Interestingly, as the band’s St. Juste explains in press notes, “Colors Collide is about the illusory spaces that are created for us, and how we wrestle with the identities and experiences that grow out of those creations. It reflects the journey of leaving this current space for another. Perhaps in this next place, I can be free. It’s not a physical space, but rather, the place within myself that I hope to reach.”

Directed by Jesse Cafiero, the recently released music video for “Colors Collide” employs the use of classic, stop-motion animation to create a detailed yet surreal world that adds and emphasizes the song’s psychedelia-tinged take on pop