Category: women who kick ass

New Video: Introducing the Bittersweet and Anthemic Pop of Jack River

Holly Rankin is a Forster, New South Wales, Australia-born, Sydney, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and label head and overall boss, who has received national attention with her solo recording project Jack River. Rankin’s first Jack River single “Fool’s Gold,” amassed over 3 million steams and landed at number 64 on Triple J’s Hottest 100 earlier this year, and has opened for the likes of Midnight Oil. Along with that, she’s the founder of the Electric Lady concert series, which has featured women artists such as Ali Barter, Alex Lahey and Gretta Ray, the founder of the Grown Your Own Music Festival, a community-enhancing music festival and the founder of Hopeless Utopian, a production company and label that houses all of those various projects.

Rankin’s forthcoming album Sugar Mountain is slated for a June 22, 2018 release and the album derives its title after Neil Young’s bittersweet ode to youth and the loss of innocence, and as the up-and-coming Australian singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and mogul says of the album “It’s the souvenir of my youth, the wish of what it could have been.” As for the aforementioned, attention grabbing “Fool’s Gold,” the single is a shimmering and atmospheric track with a soaring and anthemic hook and thumping beats; but underneath the shimmering surface is heartache over a failed relationship in which the song’s narrator recognizes that she was ultimately at fault to some degree. Sometimes, the hardest thing about getting older is accepting when you’ve behaved poorly, foolishly and selfishly and that it can have dramatic, life-altering consequences.

Directed by Matt Sav, the recently released video for “Fool’s Gold” possesses a swooning, dream-like logic that centers over a longing for a failed relationship that the song’s narrator cannot get back.

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Perhaps best known as a member of Los Angeles-based band TÜLIPS,  the singer/songwriter and musician Taleen Kali decided to go solo after the band broke up — and in a relatively short period of time, Kali has developed a reputation as one of her hometown’s up-and-coming talents, as she has opened forthe likes of Madame Gandhi and Kimya Dawson, and has played sets at Echo Park Rising Festival, Mothership Festival and Women Fuck Shit Up Fest. And with the release of “Half Life,” the first single off her forthcoming Kristin Kontrol-produced EP Soul Songs, Kali has begun to receive attention from the likes of Stereogum and others, quickly developing a reputation for a New Wave take on noise rock and punk reminiscent of Gothic Tropic, Dum Dum Girls, Dirty Ghosts and others.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding her, Kali recently released the EP’s latest single, the anthemic, hook-laden, dance floor friendly  “Lost & Bound,” and  that the single reveals an artist, who can effortlessly walk a tightrope between a slick studio sheen and a scuzzy punk rock air — without feeling contrived or ridiculous. Interestingly, there’s a subtle hint of triumph over something deeply daunting that adds to the song’s danceable vibe and anthemic hooks; in fact, as Kali explains in press notes, “‘Lost & Bound’ is about finding yourself again after being lost. I wanted to write a song that was really dark but also danceable, so I wrote a dirge dedicated to a ‘lost self,’ and I added a disco beat to add this sense of movement, of celebration, of making it to the other side.”  

Kali is playing a handful of live shows in the Los Angeles area over the next few weeks. If you’re in the area, check them out, below.

Tour Dates
05.20 – Los Angeles, CA @ Hi Hat (Dum Dum Zine Kickoff Party For L.A. Zine Week)
05.27 – Pasadena, CA @ Pasadena Convention Center (LA Zine Fest)
06.26 – Los Angeles, CA @ Resident (Record Release show)

 

New Video: Valley Queen Releases Thoughtful and Cinematic Visuals for “Supergiant”

Currently comprised of founding member Natalie Carol (vocals, guitar) and early lineup member Shawn Morones (guitar, vocals), along with newest members Neil Wogensen (bass, vocals) and Mike DeLuccia (drums), the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock band Valley Queen can trace their origins back to their formation in 2014. With a handful of singles under their belts, the band quickly saw a growing profile, which resulted in a relentless touring schedule and an increasing amount of time away from home — and although the band found their own magical pocket musically, the strain was too much for original lineup members Morones and Doot, who left the band.

Carol continued onward with a series of session musicians and ringers, and while the band continued to play bigger clubs, the chemistry that Carol had felt and began to depend on was missing, With growing buzz surrounding her and her bandmates, the members of Valley Queen landed a record deal — a dream that many bands desperately wish to achiever; however, Carol recognized that the band was much more than her concentrating on lyrics with session musicians being paid to play and record the material as directed; in fact, Carol wanted the band to be about the chemistry and relationships between the members of the band, all of which helped the band land their record deal in the first place.  So before writing and recording the material, which would eventually comprise their Lewis Pesacov-produced full-length debut Supergiant, Carol called Doot, who couldn’t re-join the band; however, Mike DeLuccia joined. Then Carol called Morones, who after a series of lengthy conversations, before decided that re-joining the band would be worth the risks involved.

Interestingly, Pesacov, who has worked with Best Coast, Fool’s Gold, Nikki Lane, FIDLAR and JOVM mainstays The Orielles, continues to cement his reputation for raw production while focusing on the urgency of the album’s material and the musicians performances — and for the band, the album was about the collective whole exploring and creating together. As for the album’s lead single and opening track, Carol says, derive their names from the most massive, luminous, and yet the fastest burning known stars in the universe. “The song ‘Supergiant’ is about how we’re all made up of the same stuff as stars, and I liked the idea of tying the whole album together with that metaphor,” says  Carol. “It takes all the drama you hear on the record-the aggressive, chaotic moments, and the more beautiful or quieter moments-and puts it all into a more galactic perspective.” As a result, “Supergiant” has a noticeably cinematic air while possessing elements of 80s New Wave and 70s AM rock in a way that will bring to mind the likes of Heart and Linda Ronstadt, if they were covering Concrete Blonde, or Heartless Bastards covering — well, just about anyone, as the seemingly anachronistic single is centered around Carol’s soulful belting, well-crafted songs and exceptional musicianship.

Directed by Matt Bizer, the incredibly cinematic video for “Supergiant” follows a contemplative Natalie Carol, as she starts her day and meets up with her bandmates, who drive around town while listening to the radio, capturing people with nothing much to really do and nowhere to really go that are longing for something — although they don’t quite know what it is. 

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays The Coathangers Perform “Hurricane” at Alex’s Bar — Long Beach CA

Over the bulk of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Atlanta, GA punk rock/garage rock band and JOVM mainstays The Coathangers, and as you may recall, the band, which is currently comprised of Julia Kugel (vocals and guitar), Meredith Franco (bass), and Stephanie Luke (drums) have released a handful of singles, three EPs and five full-length albums during 12 years together — and each album has found the band carefully refining their sound and songwriting approach, while balancing a brash, raw and seemingly spontaneous simplicity with a feral and biting urgency.  Interestingly, the band’s last two efforts 2016’s 2016’s Nosebleed Weekend and 2017’s Parasite EP found the band writing some of the most rousingly anthemic hooks they’ve ever written.

I’ve had the pleasure of catching the Atlanta, GA-based JOVM mainstays twice over the years, and live their set is frenetic and furious, and there’s a palpable sense of love, loyalty and intimacy between the bandmembers that makes their sets feel like an enormous punk rock love fest — and now, the members of The Coathangers have put their live sound to wax, with the release of their first live album, aptly titled Live, slated for a June 1, 2018 release through their longtime label home Suicide Squeeze Records. Now, as you may recall, Live was recorded during a two night stay Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, CA, and the album’s latest cut is a loose, jammy and feral barn burner-like rendition of “Hurricane.” Much like the live album’s first single “Gettin’ Mad and Pumpin’ Iron,” there’s accompanying live footage that captures the band’s frenetic, high energy live set.

New Audio: Nana Adjoa Returns with an Atmospheric, Soulful, and Straightforward New Single from Forthcoming EP

Last month, I wrote about Nana Adjoa, an up-and-coming Dutch-Ghanian singer/songwriter, who began to receive attention across the European Union and elsewhere with the release of her debut Down at the Root, Part 1. Now, as you may recall Adjoa’s was accepted at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she would study jazz (electric bass and double bass); however, she found the experience to not be what she had always imagined it would.  “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.” Around the same time, the Amsterdam-born and-based singer/songwriter began to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while outside. Adjoa began to realize that pursing a solo was the direction she needed to take, and so she formed a band and record her original songs, which has resulted in the attention grabbing Down At The Root Part 1 and the forthcoming Down At The Root Part 2.

“Honestly,” Down at the Root Part 2‘s first single was an effortless and breezy affair that seemed indebted to Simply Bill-era Bill Withers, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and others, as the song reveled a self-assured artist beyond her years, who can craft a song that’s driven by an infectious hook and a lush melody — and as Adjoa explained in press notes, the song is what she considers an “outsider track” that grew from a simple piano backing into its current, vibey, jazz-soul arrangement. “I didn’t even think it was going to make the record because it felt so different from the rest,” the Dutch-Ghanian singer/songwriter says. “I guess it’s about how people are scared of the possibility of something bad happening. And that fear is really strange because you don’t know what’s going to happen. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Down At The Root, Part 2’s second and latest single is the slow-burning and atmospheric “Part Of It,” a track centered around a lush and plaintive melody, a sinuous and propulsive bass line and arguably the most honest and straightforward lyrics of the EP I’ve heard, as the song focuses on the desire and need to fit in when you’re a complete outsider.

 

New Video: Introducing the Jangling and Anthemic Guitar Pop of Australia’s BATTS

Tanya Batt is a Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind the recording project BATTS — and with release of last year’s 62 Moons EP, Batt quickly received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that has drawn comparisons to Angel Olsen, Courtney Barnett, Mazzy Star, Sharon Van Etten and others. Adding to a growing international profile, Batt received airplay from BBC Radio 1, KCRW and Triple J.

Building upon a growing profile, Batt toured her native Australia with Didirri, and she recently played her first UK shows with Cub Sport as part of the Communion Music tour; but more important, Batt’s newest single is a jangling bit of guitar pop that manages to nod at Fleetwood Mac-like AM radio rock, complete with an anthemic rock but underneath the easy-going and self-assured vibes of the song is an urgent desire to change things for the better — although in a lot of cases that’s impossible. After all, the human condition is to be endlessly disappointing. There’s also this desire to go off and colonize someplace else, and start over with different rules — that maybe it’d better on Mars, Jupiter or someplace else. 

Directed by Dyllan Corbett, the recently released video for “Shame” stars Tanya Batt, Olaf Scott, Daniel Moulds, Nkechi Anele, Melanie Scammell, Megan Kent and Alice Kent, and as Corbett explains of the video treatment “Thematically, we were after a sliding door effect of having two separate outlooks/moods and the outcome that each one has on your happiness.” 

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Dan Sultan is an acclaimed Fitzroy, Australia-born, Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who started playing guitar when he was four and wrote his first song when he turned 10. As the story goes, his mother’s friend gave the young Sultan an old electric guitar, and he began playing gigs at local pubs. In 2000, Sultan met a fellow singer/songwriter and guitarist Scott Wilson at a Williamstown, Australia pub and the duo began writing songs together. As Wilson recalled in an interview “What struck me at first was that he [Sultan] could play piano and guitar, and he was a great foil for what I was doing . . . After a while playing together, he said, ‘Can I Sing this one?’ I said, ‘Do you know the words?’ . . . [he had a] mighty voice. A lot people can play guitar . . . not many can sing like that.”

Sultan’s  Scott Wilson-produced, full-length solo debut, the genre-defying Homemade Biscuits was released in early 2006 and consisted of tracks written by Wilson or co-written by Sultan and Wilson, and a featured number of local musicians and collaborators, including Lazare Agneskis, Neil Gray, Elijah Maiyah, Lochile McKlean and Ben Wicks. Sultan’s debut also featured two attention grabbing tracks — “Your Love Is Like a Song,” which won a 2007 Deadly Award for Single Release of the Year, and “Rosyln,” a song Sultan wrote about his mother, who was a member of the Aboriginal “stolen generations,” which he performed during 2007’s National Day of Healing concert. Adding to a growing profile that year, Paul Kelly invited Sultan to record a cover of Kev Carmody’s “This Land Is Mine” for a compilation tribute album of Carmody’s work titled Cannot Buy My Soul — and with a backing band of Eugene Ball (trumpet), Ben Gillespie (trombone), Joshua Jones (bass), Peter Marin (drums), Ash Naylor (guitar) and Gina Woods (keys), Sultan and company played Australia’s festival circuit over the next two years or so, including set at the Sydney Festival and the Queensland Music Festival.

Sultan’s sophomore album 2009’s Get Out While You Can was a massive, commercial success as it charted on the ARIA Albums Chart Top 100, eventually reaching #1 on the independent Australian charts and was a Triple J featured album. Along with that, Sultan won ARIA Music Awards for Best Male Artist and Best Blues & Roots Album, and Australian Independent Records Awards for Best Independent Artist and Best Independent Blues & Roots Music Music.

In early 2014, Sultan opened for Bruce Springsteen‘s Melbourne and Hunter Valley shows during his Australian tour, which Sultan promptly followed up with the release of his third full-length album Blackbird, an album that reached #4 on the ARIA Albums Charts and spent 13 weeks in the Top 50 — and the album won a Best Rock Album Award at that year’s ARIA Awards. Building upon an impressive year, Sultan released the Dirty Ground EP, which reached the ARIA Albums Chart Top 100. Sultan’s fourth album, 2017’s Jan Skubiszewski-produced Killer was nominated for three ARIA Awards — Best Male Artist, Best Rock Album, and Best Independent Release.

Interestingly, Sultan’s soon-to-be released Killer Under a Blood Moon was recorded over the course of four days and while it continues Sultan’s commercially and critically successful collaboration Skubiszewski, the EP finds the duo collaborating with some of their country’s brightest and talented, up-and-coming artists, including  A.B. OriginalCamp CopeMeg Mac and Gang of Youths‘ Dave Le’aupepe to reinterpret a series of tracks from Sultan’s fourth album as a way to give his material new bodies, new ways of being while having a good time doing so. Now, as you may recall, last month I wrote about Sultan’s reworking of “Drover,” which featured Gang of Youth’s Dave Le’aupepe taking over vocal duties on a swaggering, arena rock-friendly blues centered around power chords, stomping beats, a looped choral sample and a muscular and anthemic hook reminiscent of The Black Keys.

The EP’s latest single is a reworking of Killer‘s album title track “Killer” that features Meg Mac — and while the original is a shuffling yet anthemic rock song with an infectious hook, the EP’s rework turns the song into a Fleetwood Mac/Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks-styled duet that retains the hook and melody but adds a sultriness to the song’s heartfelt vibe.

 

 

 

Throughout this site’s almost 8 year history, I’ve written a bit about the Gold Coast, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Emily Hamilton and her solo recording project San Mei, which began rather humbly as a bedroom recording project but gradually began receiving attention from this site and a number of major media outlets including NME, Indie ShuffleNYLON and Triple J. Interestingly, with the release of debut EP Necessary, Hamilton’s sound adding more organic instrumentation, drawing Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cat Power, and Feist  — and a result, the EP found Hamilton moving away from the bedroom synth pop that first captured the attention of the blogosphere towards fuzzy, power chord-based dream pop.

Hamilton met songwriter, producer and overall musical phenom Oscar Dawson, who has worked with Holy Holy, Alex Lahey, Ali Barter, British India, Robbie Miller and Joyride at BIGSOUND last year, and the pair immediately hit it off. According to Hamilton, taking Dawson on as a producer and collaborator — and early on, the collaboration between the pair have found them refining ideas, exploring different soundscapes and laying down the foundation for the sonic progression of San Mei. As Hamilton explains in press notes “[Dawson and I] hit it off straight away and it seemed like he understood where I was coming from, even if I had trouble conveying certain ideas in the demos I made at home.”

Hamilton’s latest single “Wonder” is the first single since the release of Necessary EP and while the single in some way continues in a similar vein of as the material on her critically applauded EP, it manages to be a subtle refinement that finds Dawson and Hamilton crafting an anthemic, radio friendly and arena rock friendly track centered around a razor sharp, infectious hook, fuzzy shoegazer rock-like power chords and thundering drumming. And yet interestingly enough, the single may be among Hamilton’s most sincere song, as it captures the swooning, butterflies in the stomach sensation when someone who’s unknown to you captures your attention and you can’t quite pin down why. That unknown person becomes part of a mysterious daydream to you, in which you begin to wonder everything about them — and yet, there’s a part of you that isn’t certain if you want them to become more than just some brief, intoxicating illusion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Born into a family of artists and musicians, the Denton, TX-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Claire Morales began to play music and make visual art at a very young age. Family gatherings were frequently interrupted by a three year-old Morales insisting on singing a mix of Beatles and Disney songs on a makeshift, fireplace stage. The Denton, TX-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began playing her first solo shows as a middle school at local coffee shops, armed with her father’s 1960s Gibson and an arresting voice that has had many well-meaning people throughout  at her life would deal “more powerful than I thought it would be, looking you.”

Morales’ 2015 full-length debut Amaranthine saw her work translation from folksy and rootsy solo singer/songwriter to fully fleshed out band with at sound that many have described as melodic, hazy, 70s inspired rock centered around a nostalgic meditation on childhood — from the perspective of someone, in the early throes of adulthood. However, All That Wanting, Morales’ sophomore effort, is the much-anticipated follow-up to her debut, and the album, which is slated for a June 29, 2018 release reportedly explores the vast freedom, possibility and existential terror of young, adult life; in fact, the album revolves around the human tendency to endlessly crave more, asking how we can stave off and tame that feeling and instead take in the beauty before you. Desire is ultimately viewed as a mythic force capable of compelling one forward or consuming one wholly.

Recorded by Matt Pence and Jeremy Buller at the Denton-based Echo Lab, Morales and her backing band of Alex Hastings, Ryan Williams and Russ Connell spent six days recording the album’s ten tracks mostly live together in the studio’s cavernous main room, which gives the album and its material the raw energy of a group of musicians who have collaborated together for a long time, and hinges on mutual respect and open communication between everyone involved. The album finds Morales and company fearlessly and fluidly passing through a vast sonic palette including intense dramatic moments, shoegazer-like psychedelia, profound introspection, rumbling unease and cathartic release.

All That Wanting‘s latests ingle, the album title track “All That Wanting” centers around fuzzy, pedal effected guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section, a soaring, arena rock friendly hook, Morales’ powerhouse vocals and a trembling, unfulfilled longing that sonically and thematically reminds me quite a bit of PJ Harvey and Shana Falana, complete with a distinctly feminine strength and resiliency.