Category: women who kick ass

Josie Bolvin is a Quebec-based, classically trained pianist and opera vocalist, as well as an electronic pop producer, singer/songwriter and artist, best known as MUNYA— and as the story goes Bolvin had only written one song when she was asked to perform at last year’s Pop Montreal. Ironically, at the time, Bolvin had never intended to pursue music full-time but after playing at the festival, she quickly realized that what she was meant to be a musician. So Bolvin quit her day job, moved in with her sister and turned their kitchen into a home recording studio where she wrote every day. These recordings would eventually become part of an EP trilogy — with each EP comprised of three songs — named after a significant place in Bolvin’s life. Her self-released debut North Hatley derives its name from one of Bolvin’s favorite little villages in Quebec. Now, if you’ve had been frequenting this site earlier this month, you may recall that her second EP, Delmano is slated for an October 5, 2018 release through Fat Possum Records and derives its name from Williamsburg Brooklyn’s Hotel Delmano.

Delmano‘s first single “Hotel Delmano” was a breezy and mischievous, synth-based tale of melancholy surrealism, centered by Bolvin’s ethereal vocals singing in her native French. Interestingly, as Bolvin explained, the song is largely inspired by a dream Bolvin had that was inspired by the video for Vendredi sur Mer‘s “La Femme à la Peau Bleue.”  “I watched it so many times that she entered my dreams once we were having a drink at Hotel Delmano. The song is about that dream.”  Sonically, the song sounds as though it should be a part of the soundtrack of a Michel Gondry film in which its sad protagonist gets thrown into a whimsical and colorful world while recalling La Femme, Polo & Pan, and others. The EP’s second and latest single “If I’m Gone Tomorrow (It’s Because of Aliens)” will further cement Bolvin’s growing reputation for crating breezy and ethereal synth pop centered around shimmering synths and Bolvin’s equally ethereal vocals; however, unlike its predecessor, it’s the first song that the French Canadian singer/songwriter and producer has written and released entirely in English. But underneath the breezy and mischievous air, is a bitter break up/bitter tell off of a callous and indifferent former love. As Bolvin says, “When I was a kid I really loved the movie Independence Day,” she explains of the track. “One night, years later I was home alone and I kept hearing really weird loud noises, not like a truck driving by, but a truck crashing into a building over and over. It freaked me out so bad I called my boyfriend and told him that if I’m gone tomorrow it’s because of aliens…he wouldn’t stop laughing at me. I was so mad he wouldn’t take me seriously I didn’t sleep that night and instead I wrote this breakup song.

 

 

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Last month, I wrote about Evalyn, an up-and-coming Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter whose soon-to-be released Salvation EP thematically explores the seven deadly sins, while also being centered around the concept of trying to find something to save you from yourself and the world — whether it be a religion or a cult or anything else you might worship. Now, as you may recall, EP single “Big Bad City” featured an arena rock-like production consisting of thumping beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line and a soaring hook. And while possessing the emotional heft of an old school spiritual, the song was one examination of pride — in particular, an unapologetic passion for a sinful, greedy and vapid way of life.

Interestingly, the EP’s latest single “A Pill to Crush” reveals an artist who readily experiments with her sound and songwriting as the track manages to subtly hint at 60s psych pop as its centered around a trippy production of bubbling and wobbling synths, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar chords paired with the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter’s dreamily distracted vocals (which are distorted at various points). And while the song is arguably the most expansive and mind-altering of the up-and-coming artist’s growing catalog, the song lyrically finds its narrator bitterly describing a relationship in which the other person treats you like a pill they can crush and eventually discard — and the feelings of wrath that being rejected and treated poorly can engender.

New Video: Montreal’s Anemone Releases Cinematic Visuals for Breezy Retro-futuristic Synth Pop Number “Daffodils”

Earlier this year, I caught the Montreal-indie pop/dream pop act Anemone open for the acclaimed indie pop act HAERTS at Baby’s All Right, and as you may recall, the act led by Chloe Soldevila (keys, vocals) and featuring Miles Dupire-Gagnon (drums), Gabriel Lambert (guitar), Samuel Gemme (bass) and Zachary Irving (guitar) specializes in a breezy and dreamy synth pop sound that hints at psych pop — and at points to In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and Forever and Horizon-era Painted Palms. The Canadian act released their attention-grabbing debut EP earlier this year, which they’ve supported with a series of critically applauded SXSW shows, and some relentless touring across North America.

“Daffodils,” the Canadian act’s latest single is a breezy bit of synth-led dream pop centered around arpeggiated, analog synths, an ethereal melody, reverb drenched drums, shimmering guitar lines and a sinuous bass line within a gently unfolding, expansive song structure — and interestingly, the song recalls Pavo Pavo’s gorgeous, retro-futurstic dream Young Narrator on the Breakers. 

Directed, shot and edited by the band’s Chloe Soldevila, along with her bandmates, the recently released video was filmed on a grainy looking, Super 8 like film (or Instagram filter) in the New Mexico desert with a wide-screen cinematic vibe that shows the members of the band wandering about the desert, looking small in the face of an enormous expansive, before you see the band playing in the desert. As the band’s Chloe Soldevila explain sin press notes, “”Wide and magical open spaces are so powerful to me. I couldn’t have imagined a better place to capture the song’s video. Driving into White Sands’ natural park was one of the most empowering experiences to us. We had so much fun walking and running endlessly with our eyes wide open, full of admiration. After a while we decided impulsively to set up our gear which we had in the van and we started to play. We felt so alone in the world, playing for the sky and suddenly tons of people enjoying the park started driving in to enjoy the performance… it was so special, until eventually the park security kindly kicked us out!”

 

Now, throughout the the bulk of this site’s eight year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed New York-based dance music outfit Escort,which features their indomitable frontwoman and bassist Adeline Michele, and as you may recall she released a solo album a few years ago — but her forthcoming self-titled, full-length effort slated for a November 9, 2018 release is something of a reset button; in fact, the Morgan-Wiley-produced “Emeralds” found the Escort frontwoman’s sound moving towards slinky 80s Quiet Storm-inspired synth soul reminiscent of Prince and others, centered around a sinuous bass line and Adeline Michele’s sultry vocals.

“Before,” the self-titled album’s latest single is centered around a funky, disco-like bass line, twinkling keys, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and Adeline’s effortless and self-assured pop superstar vocals — and while the song sonically nods at Chaka Khan and Rufus‘ “Ain’t Nobody,”  Mary J. Blige’s “Be Happy,Patrice Rushen‘s “Feels So Real” and classic Chicago house music, it possesses a soulful and disco-like ecstasy.
 

I’ve written quite a bit about the  Oakland, CA-based quintet Bells Atlas over the past few years, and as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of Derek Barber (guitar) Geneva Harrison (drums, percussion, keys) Sandra Lawson-Ndu (vocals, percussion, keys) and Doug Stuart (bass, vocals, keys) have received attention from this site and elsewhere across the blogosphere for a lush, forward-thinking, kaleidoscopic and difficult to pigeonhole sound that seamlessly incorporates elements of indie rock, R&B, Afro pop, Afrofuturism, jazz, electro pop, experimental pop and soul.  And adding to a rapidly growing profile, the Oakland-based quintet has opened for Hiatus Kaiyote, Badbadnotgood, Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, W. Kamau Bell, Angelique Kidjo and Bermuda Triangle, and they spent 2016 as the touring band for NPR’s Snap Judgement.

Slated for release next Friday, the act’s soon-to-be released SALT AND SOAP EP is reportedly inspired by cleansing rituals and preservation methods, with the understanding that when you;re not accustomed to releasing your most personal stories, the idea is to take a moment to prepare for a shift — for a new way of being open. Along with that, the band stumbled upon a new and very different creative and songwriting process that incorporated an unusual sampling method: the use of grainy phone recordings of the act’s drumming eventually became the bedrock for each song of the EP — and in turn, their forthcoming full-length album The Mystic. Focusing on spontaneity and sometimes even humor, the aim developed into writing music that was cinematic yet personal while highlighting each member’s individual skills and talent. And as you’ll hear on the EP’s latest single “Downpour,” the result is something that manages to be paradoxically slick yet lo-fi, lysergic yet groove-driven, lush and enveloping but while revealing a band radically reinvented its sound and approach in a way that recalls (to my ears at least)Drakkar Nowhere, Pavo Pavo and Erykah Badu simultaneously.

As the band says in a statement: “Growing up it seemed like it was important to hold so many things as secrets, some of which are at this point laughable, some still heavier.

These secrets often gave the sense that there was something wrong and unusual about me or that part of my life. They also gave the sense that if there was actually something difficult it wasn’t necessary to let anyone outside of it know.

This led to a lot of creative improvising and getting used to being a little less like myself.

Eventually I started  to ask “what would be the consequence of sharing versus the weight of holding?”

The track Downpour is about at first getting used to living in a secret, but then facing a growing unease of having to continue to tuck yourself away.”

The band will be embarking on a West Coast tour during the fall. Check the tour dates below.

Bells Atlas Tour Dates: 

9/20 Oakland – New Parish w/ Chanti Darling
10/4 Los Angeles – The Satellite
10/6 Joshua Tree, CA – Joshua Tree Music Festival
10/7 San Diego, CA
10/11 Portland, OR Holocene w/ Chanti Darling
10/14 Seattle, WA Nectar Lounge w/ JusMoni
10/16 Boise, ID Neurolux
10/20 Basalt, CO The Temporary
10/21 Denver, CO Globe
10/23 Iowa City, IA Gabe’s
10/24 Chicago, IL Hideout Inn
11/18 Palm Springs, CA Ace Hotel

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Beach House Releases Trippy Visuals for Mediative Album Single “Drunk in LA”

Throughout a significant portion of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about Baltimore-based JOVM mainstays  Beach House, and as you may recall, the duo which is comprised of founding and primary members  Victoria Legrand (organ, vocals) and Alex Scally (guitar, vocals) have released a number of critically and commercially successful albums, including 2015’s Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, which were written and recorded within a two-and-a-half year period between 2012-2014.
7, the Baltimore-based indie rock’s seventh full-length album was released earlier this year through Sub Pop Records in North America, Bella Union Records in Europe and Mistletone Records in Australia and New Zealand, and the recording sessions found the band working with  Spacemen 3‘s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Peter Kember) as a producer — but not in the traditional sense, as he helped the band in their attempts to start anew by shedding conventions and ensuring that the album’s material would be fresh, alive and protected from the tendency of overproduction and perfectionism.  The album also features the band’s most recent live drummer James Barone, who as the duo say in press notes, helped “keep rhythm at the center of a lot of these songs.”

“Throughout the process of recording 7, our goal was rebirth and rejuvenation. We wanted to rethink old methods and shed some self-imposed limitations. In the past, we often limited our writing to parts that we could perform live,” Legrand and Scally explain. “On 7, we decided to follow whatever came naturally. As a result, there are some songs with no guitar, and some without keyboard. There are songs with layers and production that we could never recreate live, and that is exciting to us. Basically, we let our creative moods, instead of instrumentation, dictate the album’s feel.

“In the past, the economics of recording have dictated that we write for a year, go to the studio, and record the entire record as quickly as possible. We have always hated this because by the time the recording happens, a certain excitement about older songs has often been lost. This time, we built a ‘home’ studio, and began all of the songs there.  Whenever we had a group of 3-4 songs that we were excited about, we would go to a ‘proper’ recording studio and finish recording them there. This way, the amount of time between the original idea and the finished song was pretty short.”

As the act admits, the societal sense of instability, uncertainty and chaos was deeply influential on the album’s material. “Looking back, there is quite a bit of chaos happening in these songs, and a pervasive dark field that we had little control over. The discussions surrounding women’s issues were a constant source of inspiration and questioning. The energy, lyrics and moods of much of this record grew from ruminations on the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present.” They go on to say that in a general sense, “we are interested by the human mind’s (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny.”

So far, Beach House has released a handful of singles off the album — “Lemon Glow,” a jangling and atmospheric track centered around Legrand’s ethereal vocals; the shoegazer-like “Dive,” one of the most expansive and ambitious tracks they’ve released; “Dark Spring,” a shoegazer-like single featuring woozy power chords, twinkling keys and a soaring hook; and “Black Car,” which found the duo gently pushing their sound away from their known formula as it was centered around arpeggiated and atmospheric synths.  Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Drunk in LA” differs from the video version, as Kember remixed the song for the video, making the focus of the slow-burning and meditative poem-like song Legrand’s ethereal vocals and the arpeggiated synths, which as the duo says highlights the lonesome quality of the song — but it also evokes the sort of lonely regret that comes about late at night, when you’re left to contemplate the events of your life. 

As the duo say of the video treatment, “While mixing the record with Alan Moulder in London, we were out having dinner and Pete mentioned an idea for a video where the viewer is always looking up from the ground. This became the ‘Drunk in LA’ video. When he sent it to us, we complimented and commented on the trippy, dreamlike nature of the video and he wrote that it was essentially just a day in his life.”
 

New Audio: Honolulu’s Kings of Spade Release an Anthemic Party Ripper

Comprised of founding members Kasi “KC” Nunes (vocals) Matt Kato (drums) and Jasio Savio (guitar) with Tim Corker (bass), Ken Lykes (keys) and DJ Packo, the Honolulu, HI-based sextet Kings of Spade can trace their origins back to when Nunes,  a self-described “somber, closeted queer kid, who felt soul and blues music,” was bartending at Honolulu’s Anna Bananas and was pulled up on the stage to sing. “They started playing ‘Sweet Child O’Mine,” Nunes says in press notes.  “I started singing and was like ‘Hey, I sound pretty good.”

Interestingly, Jasio Savio frequently sat in with the bar’s house band. “He wasn’t old enough to drink,” Nunes recalls. “But he would start and rip these Johnny Cash tunes.” As the story goes, they were both impressed by each other. “You feel this energy when she sings,” Savio says. “My first thought was ‘Damn, she’s going to be famous.'” As the story goes Nunes approached Savio and suggested they start a band. They recruited Matt Kato, a local punk rock drummer and played with a revolving door of bassists until they found Tim Corker. As a quartet that played power chord-based blues riff rock, they didn’t find their hometown to be very receptive to their sound — although Nunes took it upon herself to book club shows that featured the band alongside local DJs, artists and other bands. After amassing a decent local following, the band relocated to Southern California in 2006 to chase their dreams. But as Nunes and Kato quickly found out, the big city isn’t very welcoming; in fact, they were barely scarping by — and they were forced to sell their blood for cash. “Everyone at the clinic looked down-on-their-luck,” Nunes remembers. “I was hooked up to a plasma machine, reading the self-help books. This was the lowest point in my life.”

After three years of crushing let-downs and disappointment, Nunes, Savio and Kato quit their jobs and gave up their shared apartment in preparation for a lengthy tour that was just booked by their new manager; however, he disappeared once they figured out that there wasn’t an actual tour. They returned home to Hawaii, and ironically enough, upon their return, they finally fell into some good fortune. Several years later, the band played at SXSW, where former Headbanger’s Ball host and MTV VJ Riki Rachtman caught them — and after catching them, he booked them to play a show commemorating the 30th anniversary of his old metal club, The Cathouse, best known for giving rise to Guns N’ Roses. Around the same time, they met Sue Damon, the ex-wife of The Beach Boys’ Mike Love. “She was a huge supporter of ours, bought us a new drum set. She was a total free spirit, who could party all of us under under the table. She ended up passing away. But all of us have her initials tattooed on us.”

Interestingly, the band’s self-titled Dave Cobb-produced full-length was recorded in Nashville over the course of two weeks.  “He produced a band I like, Rival Sons, which had this old-school sound with modern energy—like, analog-tape soul built into it,” Jesse says, admiringly. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, the swaggering and stomping, bluesy  ripper “Bottom’s Up” is raucous, party anthem that’s inspired by their late friend and patron Sue Damon, and their own experiences partying ridiculously hard that sounds as though it were influenced by Highway to Hell-era AC/DC, Electric Blue Watermelon-era North Mississippi All Stars and The Black Keys — all while further cementing their reputation for boozy, power chord centered, riff-based rock. 

New Audio: Electric Citizen Releases a Black Sabbath-like New Single

With the release of 2014’s full-length debut Sateen, the Cincinnati, OH-based quartet Electric Citizen, currently comprised of husband and wife duo, Laura Dolan (vocals) and Ross Dolan (guitar), along with Nick Vogelpohl (bass) and Nate Wagner (drums), received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound that’s indebted to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, early 70s Rush and others. Building upon a growing profile, the band went on a busy schedule of touring both nationally and internationally with several renowned acts, including Fu Manchu, Wolfmother, The Budos Band, and Pentagram.

The Cincinnati heavy psych rock/heavy metal quartet’s sophomore effort, 2016’s sophomore effort Higher Time found the band expanding upon their sound, as they were crafting muscular and anthemic hooks around prog rock-like structures — within concise songs that typically clocked in at around 3 minutes or so. Additionally, the album found the band’s Lauran Dolan stepping up into more of a frontperson role, which was reflected in their live shows to support their sophomore effort, as she strutted, stomped and swaggered with a larger-than-life confidence. And unsurprisingly, the album was released to massive critical applause from the likes of Consequence of Sound, who placed it on their 20 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016.

Slated for a September 28, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, Electric Citizen’s forthcoming, third full-length effort Helltown derives its name from the neighborhood in which the members of the band live, practices and where the album was written recorded and mixed. Although now more prosaically known as Northside, Helltown earned its name in the early 1800s. thanks to a reputation for the rowdy taverns frequented by the neighborhood’s factory workers and immigrants. And while being an ode to the band’s neighborhood and its buried past, the album reportedly is a sonic return to form with the band employing a grittier sound along the lines of their 2014 debut. Adding upon the overall homecoming theme, the band returns to their original lineup. As the band’s Laura Dolan says in press notes, “In many ways this album is a realignment to the first,” Laura says. “We experimented a lot on the second album, some of which we learned we didn’t like.”

“Hide It In The Night,” Helltown‘s first single is centered around Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin power chords, thundering drumming, arena rock friendly hooks and Laura Dolan’s rock star belter vocals — and while heavily indebted to its influences, the track will further cement the Cincinnati-based band’s reputation for tough, gritty, power chord rippers with an anthemic, larger-than-life feel. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “New Earth” is centered around a blistering, bluesy power chord riff, thundering drumming, arena rock-friendly hooks, and Dolan belting her lungs out. Arguably, the song is one of the most straightforward, riff-centered Black Sabbath-like singles they’ve released in some time time. It’s a certifiable headbanger that’s perfect for drinking way too much in your local bar or while catching them live.