Category: women who kick ass

New Video: Up-and-Coming New York Duo Death by Piano Releases Futuristic Visuals for “The Countdown”

Death by Piano is an up-and-coming New York-based dark wave duo comprised of Kalen Lister (vocals, keys) and Greywolf, a multi-instrumentalist and producer. With the release of their latest EP, The Countdown, the duo have established themselves with an atmospheric sound that’s centered around sleek and minimalist electronic production, including skittering beats, chopped up samples, soulful blasts of guitar, moody strings and synths, and Lister’s pop star belter vocals. Interestingly, EP title track “Countdown” is a perfect example of the sound that has begun to win the duo attention, complete with an infectious, radio-friendly hook that reminds me a bit of the classic 4AD Records sound mixed with JOVM mainstay Holy War. However, as the duo explain “‘Countdown’ is the first song we wrote together. It’s about leaving behind what you thought life might be and embracing the now. It’s about embracing change. External and internal. Facing what you fear to find more freedom.”  

Directed by Robert Lester, the recently released video is a decidedly retro-futuristic and New Age-y treatment that features Lister dressed as a cyborg/alien along with her bandmate, performing the song in front of a screen, playing psychedelic imagery. It’s interspersed with a humanoid character, wandering the woods. It’s trippy yet futuristic take on the familiar, much like the duo’s sound. 

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New Video: Moving Panoramas Release a Mischievous Crime Caper-Like Visuals

Led by founding member and creative mastermind Leslie Sisson (vocals, guitar), who has had stints in The Wooden Birds, Matt Pond PA, Western Keys, Black Lipstick, Black Forest Fire, Tanworth-in-Arden, and Aero Wave, collaborated with The American Analog Set, Windsor for the Derby, Rhythm of Black Lines, RIDE’s Mark Gardener, Dan Mangan, John Wesley Coleman, Snowden, and Broken Social Scene, and has developed a reputation as a solo artist in her own right, the Austin, TX-based dream pop act Moving Panoramas can trace their origins to when its founding member and creative mastermind returned home to Texas to be closer to the members of her previous full-time band The Wooden Birds and her to her family. Sisson took a job teaching music at School of Rock where she met Rozie Castoe (bass),  who was in an 80s-themed show that Sisson directed. Interestingly, at the same time, Sisson took up a gig subbing in Black Forest Fire with Karen Skloss (drums), who was a long-time friend. When each of their various creative projects broke up, the trio started Moving Panoramas, rooted in their mutual love of shoegaze; however, since the band’s formation and release of their debut effort One, the band has gone through a series off lineup changes that has result in Sisson collaborating with a rotating cast of previous bandmates, as well as current bandmates Cara Tillman, Jordan Rivell, Jody Suarez and Phil McJunkins.

Moving Panoramas’ sophomore album In Two was delayed by a series of unexpected roadblocks during its production — i.e., health and timing issues — that delayed its release until February 22, 2019 through Modern Outsider Records. Recorded with engineer Louie Lino at Resonate Studio in Austin, the band’s sophomore effort reportedly finds the band expanding upon their sound and songwriting approach, as there’s a concerted effort for diversity in rhythm, volume and instrumentation, including the incorporation of pedal steel. Along with that the album features guest spots fromNada Surf‘s Matthew Caws, A Giant Dog‘s and Sweet Spirit‘s Sabrina Ellis and former bandmates Karen Skloss, Jolie Flink and Laura Colwell.

The album’s latest single “Baby Blues” is a decidedly anthemic track, centered around shimmering power chords, a propulsive rhythm section, ethereal vocals and a soaring hook that recalls Sunflower Bean’s Twentytwo in Blue as the song seems to draw from psych rock, shoegaze and 70s arena rock performed with the easygoing self-assuredness of old pros; but underneath the self-assured performance, there’s the recognition of time rushing by, of people moving in and out of your life — sometimes without even knowing why or how. As the song seems to say, “Remember friends, life is confusing and when you think you may have handle on it, life will throw a monkey wrench or two your way — and you’ll get through it somehow, some way.”

Directed by the band’s Leslie Sisson, the recently released video is part mischievous, Miami Vice-like crime caper with the members of the band smuggling a substance dubbed “Baby Blue,” and part performance video — with the band playing in a studio and on the beach. It’s goofy and yet it still manages to capture (and evoke) the song’s anthemic nature. 

Centered around the collaboration between singer/songwriter Gina Leonard and producer and guitarist Tom Freyer, the acclaimed Bristol, UK-based electro pop/trip hop act The Desert can trace their origins to when Freyer had produced some of Leonard’s solo work. And as the story goes, the duo quickly hit upon a formula of Freyer taking the songs that Leonard had initially written with an acoustic guitar and adding layers of electronics and lush, detailed production.

With the release of “Just Get High,” the first single off last year’s debut EP Playing Dead, the act received airplay on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6 and Radio X. And with the release of further tracks off the EP, the British electro pop/trip hop, the act received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound that some have described as being a mix between Little Dragon and Portishead. Building upon a growing profile, the act’s sophomore EP was released last week, and from the EP’s first single “Gone,” the act has revealed a decided evolution of their sound and approach while retaining the cinematic quality that first won them attention; however, the song possessed a desperate, urgent air with a hint of uneasy hope.  The EP’s latest single “Distract Me” is a much more intimate, sensual track centered around a hauntingly sparse arrangement of strummed guitar, plinking, jazz-like piano, Leonard’s achingly plaintive vocals — with synths and electronics added towards the last third. In some way, the EP’s latest track manages to remind me of the film noir-ish tone of Goldfrapp’s Tales of Us.

Lately, the act has been busy working on new material and playing their first batch of live shows across the UK — and for their live shows, Leonard and Freyer have recruited Ryan Rogers (bass) and Jonny Parry (drums, electronics).

 

 

Live Session: Bells Atlas on Audiotree Live

Now, over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Oakland, CA-based futuristic soul act Bells Atlas. 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) of Derek Barber (guitar) Geneva Harrison (drums, percussion, keys) Sandra Lawson-Ndu (vocals, percussion, keys) and Doug Stuart (bass, vocals, keys)  have received attention for a forward-thinking, kaleidoscopic and lush sound that draws from indie rock, 90s R&B, Afro pop, Afro-futurism, jazz, electro pop and experimental pop. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the members of the Oakland-based act has opened for the likes of Hiatus Kaiyote, Badbadnotgood, Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, W. Kamau Bell, Angelique Kidjo and others, as well as Bermuda Triangle, the side project of Alabama Shakes‘ Brittany Howard. Along with that, they spent 2016 as the touring band for NPR’s Snap Judgement.

Released earlier this year, the acclaimed futuristic soul act’s latest EP SALT AND SOAP is 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 then to take a moment to prepare for a shift — for a new way of being open. Interestingly, during the creative process for their latest EP, the band stumbled upon a new songwriting process that incorporated the use of sampling grainy phone memo recordings of Geneva Harrison drumming as the bedrock of each song of the EP — and in turn, their full-length album The Mystic, which is slated for a March 2019 release. 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 within the larger whole.

A few weeks ago the members of Bells Atlas were invited to Audiotree Live to do a live session centered around the material of the SALT AND SOAP EP including “Downpour,” a paradoxically slick yet lo-fi, lush and lysergic groove-driven track that recalled Drakkar Nowhere, Pavo Pavo and Erykah Badu; “Be Brave,” a sinuous and fluidic track centered around an incredibly dexterous and percolating bass line, driving percussion and rapidly morphing tone and time changes; the incredibly sultry “NCAT,” centered around shimmering and bubbling arpeggiated synths, stuttering drumming and a rolling bass, as well as two other tracks I haven’t written about — “Overshare” and “Find Where You Rise.” Throughout the live session, the material proves to be a perfect foil for Lawson-Ndu’s vocals, which manage to express a visceral vulnerability and human need, awe, strength and resiliency within a turn of a phrase.

Interestingly, during the session the band’s Lawson-Ndu speaks about her own deep, personal experience and love of sci-fi and fantasy and how they’ve influenced her to consider those genres through the experiences of being a woman of color.

New Video: Chicago’s Lightfoils Release a Lyrical and Meditative Video for “Summer Nights”

Over the past few weeks I’ve written quite a bit about the Chicago, IL-based shoegazer act Lightfoils. And as you may recall, the band, which is comprised of Jane Zabeth Nicholson (vocals), Neil Yodname (guitar), Zeeshan Abbasi (guitar), Cory Osborne (bass) and John Rungger (drums) has developed a reputation for pushing the boundaries of shoegaze with a unique and sophisticated take on the genre, as heard of 2014’s critically applauded Hierarchy.

The band’s long-awaited, forthcoming album Chambers will be self-released by the band, both for the autonomy and the ability to be intimately involved in all aspects of the album’s production and promotion — and with the album’s first single “Summer Nights, ” the first bit of new material since the release of Hierarchy finds the Chicago-based shoegazers fully commanded the sound they’ve developed with a swaggering self-assuredness, as the band pairs layers of lushly shimmering and chiming guitars with a propulsive, hip-hop like rhythm section and soaring hooks while Zabeth Nicholson’s ethereal vocals float over the mix, expressing deep longing. And while anthemic, the gorgeous track manages to possess the wistful feel of a summer night, complete with the knowledge that a bitterly cold winter is coming.

Co-directed by the members of the band and Brian Cook, the recently released video for “Summer Nights” meant to evoke the nostalgia for summer, the longing many of us feel once it passes — and in a subtle way, the recognition that the years and the time are flying by. Featuring footage shot by each member of the band, the video is partially an exploration of Chicago and the surrounding wilderness. As the band explains in press notes, the juxtaposition between the urban and wilderness scenes are meant to capture the paradoxical nature of city life — and the desire to both embrace and escape. Jane Zabeth Nicholson’s superimposed and spectral figure gives it all a film noir-ish like vibe. 

Comprised of founding duo Maja (guitar, vocals) and Andreas (guitar, vocals) along with Samuel (drums), the Stockholm, Sweden-based shoegazers Star Horse can trace their origins back to 2011 when the band’s founding duo met while in Toyko. And as the story goes, Maja and Andreas bonded over a mutual desire to create a sound based around their love of 90s shoegaze. When they returned to Stockolm, they recruited Andreas and Samuel — and while each member individually has dissimilar tastes and preferences, they used the Twin Peaks soundtrack as a common musical thread to create their sound and aesthetic.

Interestingly, since their formation, the Stockholm-based quartet has been considered at the forefront of their homeland’s shoegaze/dream pop scene, developing a developing a devoted international fanbase — and for most of their history, they’ve done it all in a completely DIY fashion, releasing three EPs and a handful of singles through their own label Haxrummet Records. Additionally, along with Follow the Sea, they created the local DIY noise rock/shoegazer festival Fuzztival.

Since, the release of the highly praised single “Slower Now,” the band has been holed up in the studio, finishing up their highly-anticipated full-length debut You Said Forever, which is slated for a February 15, 2019 release through Startracks Records. The album’s latest single is the slow-burning epic track “Albatross” which clocks in at a little under 9 minutes and is centered around shimmering guitar chords and ethereal vocals. And while recalling A Storm in Heaven-era The Verve, the track manages to be melancholic but yearning.

 

 

 

 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of this year, you’d probably recall that 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. Led by Chloe Soldevila (keys, vocals) and featuring Miles Dupire-Gagnon (drums), Gabriel Lambert (guitar), Samuel Gemme (bass) and Zachary Irving (guitar), the Canadian quartet specializes in a breezy take on dream pop that hints at both psych pop and to In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and 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. And although they’ve been rather busy, over the past couple of months, they also announced that their highly-anticipated full-length debut Beat My Distance will be released early next year through Luminelle Records. Album single “Sunshine (Back To The Start)” is a breezy and sunny track built around jangling and chiming guitar lines, a propulsive, disco-influenced bass line, a steady backbeat and Soldevilla’s plaintive, ethereal vocals — and while sunny, the song is centered on the hope of a brighter day after experiencing something shitty and painful. “She’s The One” continues in a similar vein as the track is a shimmering and ethereal track centered around Sodevilla’s ethereal crooning and an upbeat, almost Afro pop-like sense of percussion — and much like its predecessor, it possesses a subtly bittersweet undertone. As Soldevilla explains in press notes, “She’s The One’ is about two paradoxical tendencies/patterns in relationships and how they work against each other. The first one is where you become infatuated and idealize someone, thinking they are ”the one” until you really get to know them; the other tendency is to protect yourself and stay independent. Closing yourself off from getting to know someone and potentially missing out on a great connection. ‘She’s The One’ is the prequel to ‘Bout de toi’ although it’s being released after. The mood of it, the percussions; ‘She’s The One’ came together very quickly in the studio, as we had a strong desire for an upbeat, dancy [sic] song. It brought a new energy to our set which has really shaped our live show.”

 

New Video: Gothic Tropic Releases Sci Fi Inspired Visuals for Swooning “Your Soul”

Los Angeles, CA-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Cecila Della Peruti is the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed indie rock project Gothic Tropic, and as you may recall, Peruti has also spent stints as member of the touring bands for Beck, Charli XCX, Børns, Poppy and others. With the release of last year’s full-length debut Fast or Feast, Peruti received attention for crafting hook-driven, New Wave-inspired tracks like  “Stronger,” and the lush and atmospheric “How Life Goes” which explored themes of empowerment, strength in vulnerability, moving forward from the breakup of romantic relationships and the difficulties of getting older and growing up. 

Interestingly, “Your Soul,” Fast or Feast’s fourth single manages to further cement Peruti’s growing reputation for crafting a hook driven songs, centered by punchy guitar chords, swirling synths and a propulsive rhythm section within an urgent and swooning song detailing a relationship that’s inching towards an awkward yet inevitable end that the song’s narrator doesn’t want to see happen. 

Directed and written by Peruti, the gorgeously cinematic and trippy visuals for “Your Soul” is set set during the impending death of the sun, just as it’s about to envelope the entire planet — and it follows a young boy, who discovers that his purpose is to be one of the “Children of the Sun,” the last of a supernatural lineage of gifted children, whose presence sedates morals for a more blissful end. As Peruti explains in press notes, “I’m a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic, so as I was putting this elaborate idea together knowing full well my budget and logistics, it was challenging to rely completely on Matisse and practical effects and circumstances to get the concept across. Everyone who worked on the video are my friends and collaborators, and I’m so lucky to have found young Matisse and his family. This VIP alien-angel character needed to be reverent without pride or ego, which I think Matisse completely owned. This was my first set, and I’m excited to keep going writing and directing, it’s been a fixation for a while.”
After working in the studio with Daniele Luppi, who has worked with Danger Mouse, Parquet Courts and Red Hot Chili Peppers; Alex Goose, who has worked with Weezer; and Carlos de la Garza, who has worked with Cherry Glazerr, Paramore and The Naked and the Famous, Peruti is expecting to release new material sometime next year. We’ll be on the lookout for it. 

Live Footage: Charlotte Lawrence Performs “Sleep Talking” on Vevo DSCVR

Charlotte Lawrence is an up-and-coming, 18 year-old, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and model who quickly rose to national prominence with the release of her debut single last year, which amassed over 16 million streams. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Lawrence released her debut EP Young which she followed up with a tour with Lauv, viral hit collaborations with Nina Nesbitt and Sasha Sloan.

Now, as you may recall Vevo DSCVR is Vevo’s emerging artist platform that curates the best up-and-coming artists — acts that the site believes will have a significant impact on the future — to perform their best material. Vevo has a lengthy history of promoting emerging artists and helping them break through to new and wider audiences; in fact, past alumni of the Vevo DSCVR series has included Jack Garratt,James Bay, Years & Years, Wolf Alice, Sam Smith, Jorja Smith, Maggie Rogers, Alessia Cara and Ella Eyre among others. This past year has seen Vevo DSCVR inviting up-and-coming pop artists Billie Eilish, Bülow and Donna Missal — and continuing with a big year, they recently invited Charlotte Lawrence, who performed “Sleep Talking,” a mid-tempo pop song in which its narrator discovers that her lover has been messing around on her — by talking in his sleep. At the core of the song is a bitter sense of heartache and betrayal, wrapped around a slick and infectious hook.