Throwback: Happy 81st Birthday, David Ruffin!

JOVM celebrates the 81st anniversary of David Ruffin’s birth.

New Video: Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s Charlie Gabriel to Release Debut Album As Bandleader, Shares Intimate, Behind-The-Scenes Visual for “I’m Confessin'”

88 year-old Charlie Gabriel is a New Orleans-born and-based saxophonist, clarinetist and vocalist, who has had an incredibly lengthy music career: Gabriel’s first professional gig was back in 1943, sitting in for his father in New Orleans’ Eureka Brass Band. As a teenager, he relocated to Detroit, where he played with Lionel Hampton, whose band at the time included a young Charles Mingus. Gabriel then spent nine years with a group led by Cab Calloway drummer J.C. Heard.

For a period of time, Gabriel fronted a bebop group. He has also played with or toured with Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin and a lengthy list of others before joining the legendary New Orleans jazz ensemble Preservation Hall Jazz Band in 2006. Since then, Gabriel, the most senior member of the group has developed a tight musical relationship with creative director, bassist and tuba player, Ben Jaffe, the son of the group’s co-founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe.

Gabriel signed to Sub Pop Records, who will be releasing the jazz legend’s full-length debut as a bandleader 89, which is slated for digital release on February 25, 2022 and a July 1, 2022 physical copy — CD/LP, etc. — release, a few days before his 89th birthday.

Although he’s faced plenty of challenges over the course of his almost eight decade music career, none likely rank with the death of his brother and last living sibling Leonard to COVID-19. For the first time ever, Gabriel put down his horn, filling his days and weeks instead with dark reflection, a stubborn yet understandable despondency broken now and then by regular chess matches in the studio kitchen of Pres Hall leader Ben Jaffe, who was working overtime to bring his friend and bandmate some light.

One of those afternoons also included guitarist Joshua Starkman, who was sitting off in a corner playing his guitar and half-watching Jaffe and Gabriel play chess from a distance. When Charlie returned the next day, he brought his saxophone. “I was just inspired to try it, to play again. It had been a long time, and a guitar makes me feel free. I do love the sound of a piano, but it takes up a lot of a space, keeps me kind of boxed in.”

“We had no particular plan, or any particular insight on what we were gonna do. But we were enjoying what we were doing, jamming, having a musical conversation,” Gabriel adds, further musing, “Musical conversations cancel out complications.”

Interestingly, that day wound up being the first session for 89, almost entirely the work of Gabriel, Jaffe and Starkman, recorded mostly in the kitchen by Matt Aguiluz. Charlie Gabriel plays tenor sax and clarinet on the album, Starkman plays guitar and Jaffe plays bass, drums and keys throughout the album.

The album’s material includes six standards, including “Stardust,” “I’m Confessin'” and “Three Little Words,” which the New Orleans legend describes as “standard material that every musician, if they’re an older musician like myself, will have played throughout their career. Every time I play one of these tunes the interpretation is a little bit different.” The album also includes two originals written by Gabriel, “Yellow Moon” and “The Darker It Gets” — and while being Gabriel’s debut, it also marks a return to his first instrument, clarinet on many of the album’s tracks. “The clarinet is the mother of the saxophone,” he says. “I started playing clarinet early in life, and this [taught me] the saxophone.” 

89‘s first single sees Gabriel and his bandmates play a gorgeous and utterly charming rendition of the old standard “I’m Confessin.'” Centered around a subtle re-arrangement for jazz guitar, clarinet, saxophone and bass, Gabriel’s version to my ears manages to meet Peggy Lee and Louis Armstrong somewhere in the middle, while being roomy enough for Gabriel’s vocals, which balance a wizened raspiness with an sweet tenderness. Simply put, it’s the sort of vulnerable and endearingly honest love song that we just don’t get anymore — and that’s just one why I love it so much.

Directed by Alex Hennen Payne, the recently released video for “I’m Confessin'” is shot in a gorgeous and cinematic black and white and captures the 89 sessions with a warm and loving intimacy.

Toronto-based psych rock duo Lammping — founding members vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mikhail Galkin and drummer Jay Anderson joined by guitarist Matt Aldred and bassist Scott Hannigan — can trace their origins to a gig where Anderson’s and Galkin’s previously bands shared the bill. The pair connected over their shared tastes, which included a love of an eclectic array of genres and styles, including mid-90s boom-bap, Tropicalia and library music.

Deriving their name from Public Enemy‘s “Cold Lampin’ with Flavor,” the Canadian quartet started as an attempt to bring a multitude of musical influences and ideas together under a psych rock umbrella and expand the sonic possibilities of heavy music.

Since their formation, the Toronto-based psych rock outfit has been busy: 2020 saw the release of their critically applauded full-length debut Bad Boys of Comedy, an effort that featured “Greater Good,” a noise rock meets shoegaze track that seemed inspired by Tropicalia, Turkish psych pop, old-school New York boom bap hip-hop and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Shortly after Bad Boys of Comedy‘s release, the members of Lammping started working on new material that found them pushing the boundaries of psych music in bold, new directions: Flashjacks. While being inspired by StereolabDe La SoulKraftwerkBlack SabbathBlue Cheer and Sleep, the Toronto-based psych outfit’s sophomore effort managed to still be rooted in Anderson’s thunderous drumming and Galkin’s melodic riffs. But the material also saw the duo adding sampling, drum machines and a wider variety of instrumentation to their sonic palette.

The band’s forthcoming EP Stars We Lost is slated for a March 4, 2022 release through We Are Busy Bodies. The EP’s material is a collection of 70s space rock-inspired rippers centered around the sort of songwriting that draws from the bandmembers’ rich and diverse history in Toronto’s music scene: Anderson’s contributions to the band’s ouevre is informed by the various rock acts he has played in, including Biblical, Badge Epoque Ensemble, Stonegrass, Marker Starling and Comet Control. Galkin’s background is rather unique. “In my late teens, early 20’s, I had a career as a sample-based beat maker, under the name DJ Alibi,” Galkin explains. “I was signed to Tres Records and put out One Day, and worked with J-Live, People Under The Stairs, Insight and other hip-hop acts.”

Stars We Lost‘s first single “Everlasting Moor” is mesmerizing song featuring a relentless motorik groove bolstered by a forceful backbeat, fuzzy power chords, some easy-going yet muscular Steely Dan meets Black Sabbath-like riffage, and glistening rhythm guitar. Galkin’s surrealistic, stream of consciousness delivered lyrics based on his own experiences as an immigrant to Canada, and a real life observation of something that actually happened ethereally float over the mix. The end result is a song that’s rooted in a fantastical realism while meshing Abbey Road era Beatles, krautrock, 70s yacht rock and space rock into a seamless and trippy freakout.

Discussing the meaning behind the song, Galkin says, “‘Everlasting Moor’ begins with ‘See a man, he’s popping and locking in a parkette gazebo.’ I saw a dude one afternoon doing just that, at a small parkette close to my house, where I bring my daughter to play. He brought a boombox and was just breakdancing by himself in this little gazebo, with no one around. For whatever reason that sparked a stream of consciousness song that was about finding our place in the world, and if unable to, creating a world in your mind you feel at home in. I’ve always wanted to write a song about my own immigrant experience, and after the first line, the words just spilled out.”  

New Video: Calgary’s Sunglaciers Release A Feverish Visual for Breakneck Ripper “Avoidance”

Calgary-based post-punk outfit Sunglaciers can trace its origins back to 2017 as a collaboration between its founding — and core — members: multi-instrumentalist Matthieu Blanchard and lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Evan Resnik. When they started the project, Blanchard had completed his studies in medicine, working in family medicine and addition and Resnik had returned from a trip hitchhiking through France. Since the project’s formation, the Calgary-based act has released a couple of EPs and their full-length debut, 2019’s Foreign Bodies, which saw them crafting a sound that blurred the lines between dazzling indie rock melodicism and icy, post-punk experimentation, centered around a maximalist approach.

During that same five year period, the members of the Canadian post-punk outfit have seen a steadily rising profile, as they’ve shared stages with the likes of JOVM mainstays Preoccupations, Omni and Daniel Romano while topping the charts of college radio stations across Western Canada. Understandably, when the pandemic put their touring plans on a then-indefinite pause, the band quickly shifted their focus to writing material, dedicating 40-plus hour weeks to music during the early months of 2020.

Those writing sessions wound up becoming the Calgary-based outfit’s sophomore album Subterranea, slated for a March 25, 2022 release through Montreal-based psychedelic purveyors Mothland. Continuing an ongoing collaboration with Chad VanGaalen, who co-produced the album, Subterranea reportedly sees the band eschewing the maximalist approach of their previous releases and crafting material with a decided laser focus. The end result is a frenetic, breakneck album of material with songs that never overstay their welcome. “We tried to write vertically instead of horizontally,” Sunglaciers’ Matthieu Blanchard explains. “Our last album Foreign Bodies and the EPs that came before it had lots of long songs with different parts drifting back and forth. For this album, we decided to strip our songs down to two or three minutes with only a few ideas in each of them.”

“The bulk of this album came together during the pandemic and the changing of gears that we had to do,” Sunglaciers’ Evan Resnik says. “I was out of work and Mathieu was working half as much as usual, so we had lots of time on our hands. We flipped a switch and started playing music everyday. It’s a good indicator of how we were writing at the time while we wrapped our heads around some new gear and saw what came out of it. Essentially, we took all of our favourite musical tendencies and put them together. We were listening to a lot of McCartney II at the time and loved how eclectic it was, which led to us mirroring that vibe.”

With an extended timeframe to write and record, the album, which was recorded at Bruce Crews’ voiceover studio On Air Studios allowed the members the opportunity to learn skills in engineering and for the opportunity to swap the instruments that each member typically played, a strategy that was employed during the writing and recording of Portishead‘s Third and David Bowie‘s “Boys Keep Swinging.” The album also features contributions from the aforementioned Chad VanGaalen, Hermitess‘ Jennifer Crighton and Roman66′s Louis Cza The Black Greek God. The end result may arguably be Sunglaciers most urgent and cohesive batch of material, an effort that draws from the likes of Deerhunter, Total Control, and BEAK> among others,.

Subterranea‘s latest single is “Avoidance,” a woozy and uneasy ripper full of guilt and recrimination delivered with a breakneck freneticism and featuring a nagging and persistent synth line-driven groove, angular guitar attack, driving four-on-the-four, dryly delivered vocals and screams by Louis Cza. Sounding a bit like JOVM mainstays Plague Vendor and Atsuko Chiba, “Avoidance” lyrically touches upon themes of alienation, abandonment and guilt in a way that should feel familiar to most of us during this unusual moment of our lives.

Directed by the band’s Evan Resnik and Ryan Kostel, the video is a paranoid and uneasy fever dream in which the video’s protagonist is tormented by figures that he thinks are his friends — but prove to be in his own head.

“The video depicts a nightmare scenario with the protagonist in a panic as he is tormented by figures he thought were his friends, ultimately coming face-to-face with himself,” Sunglaciers’ Evan Resnik explains. “The fogged-out rooms, varied lighting, and overlaid shots pull the viewer inside this dreamscape and accentuate the anxiety and trepidation we explore in the song.”

“When filming ‘Avoidance’ I really wanted to mimic the anxious, unsettled mind,” Ryan Kostel adds. “Constantly shifting angles, I used long fluid shots and shifts in time to create an unbalanced sensation. Rapid fluctuations of light and color layered over kinetic and sometimes violent imagery help to convey the subject’s mental unease.”

Stella Mar is a Seattle-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, who makes music that’s inspired by and informed by the challenges and hurdles she’s cleared throughout her life; or as she puts it “pop bangers for the languidly queer.”

As the story goes, when she was 13, Mar was told by professionals that she’d never be a good singer with her vocal tone and range, and that she should give up her lifelong dream of being a performer. She could have been discouraged and quit; but instead, she pushed harder to make her dream come true. Eventually Mar started to play shows in Portland and Seattle.

Mar’s full-length debut, last year’s White Noise was a concept album that featured a blend of electronic production and acoustic guitar — and the album received praise from local and regional press with outlets and podcasts describing the Seattle-based artist and her voice as “part-Jeff Buckley, part-Arlo Parks.

Building upon a growing profile, Mar worked with Seattle music industry veterans Matthew Wolk and Nic Casey on “The Way” and “Mean to You,” the follow-up to her full-length debut. The Nicholas KZ-produced “The Way” is a crafted pop banger centered around glistening synth arpeggios, thumping beats, a rousingly anthemic, shout-along worthy chorus paired with Mar’s achingly plaintive vocals, which simultaneously drip with heartache and bitter spite. The song calls out, a fuckboi and wannabe player, who’s playing games with the song’s earnest and devoted narrator.

In the song’s chorus, Mar’s narrator begs this person to “show her the way” to their heart. But as the song suggests, the narrator begins to catch on that he’s duplicitous, manipulative, scheming and flat out toxic. As Mar explains, the song is for anyone, who has ever been played and might have given in to the temptation of a toxic personality. The song’s universality paired with its accessibly is part of its charm: if you’ve been there, the song speaks to you deeply and personally, as it’s a much-needed, cathartic tell off.

New Video: Japan’s Boris Shares a Mesmerizing Ode to Hiroshima

Formed back in 1992, the influential, Japanese, experimental heavy rock outfit Boris ((ボリス, Borisu) — Takeshi (vocals, bass, guitar), Wata (vocals, guitar, keys, accordion and echo) and Atsuo (vocals, drums, percussion and electronics) — settled on their current lineup in 1996. Since then, the members of Boris have tirelessly explored their own genre-defying take on heavy music.

In an effort to sublimate the negative energy surrounding everyone in 2020, Boris wrote and recorded NO, one of the most extreme albums of their widely celebrated and lengthy career. The band self-released the album during the heigh of pandemic-related lockdowns, desiring to get the album out as quickly as possible. But interestingly enough, they intentionally titled NO‘s closing track “Interlude,” while planning the album’s follow-up.

Slated for a Friday release, W is the acclaimed Japanese outfit’s debut effort through their new label, Sacred Bones Records. Stylistically, the album’s material ranges from noise to New Age, continuing the band’s long-held reputation for crafting dynamic and sonically adventurous work. But the material is held together by a melodic deliberation through each song that helps the band accomplish their ultimate goal — eliciting deep sensation.

NO and W were conceived to weave together to form NOW, a pair of releases that respond to each other: The band follows their hardest album with an effort that’s sensuous, lush and thundering. The result is a continuous circle of harshness and healing that seems more relevant — and necessary — now than ever.

W‘s latest single the expansive “Beyond Good and Evil” begins with a lush, placid and lengthy introduction centered around Wata’s breathy delivery, strummed, reverb-drenched guitar and gently padded drums. About half way into the song, the song quickly morphs into a swirling and painterly textured shoegaze-like arrangement that builds up into an explosion of feedback and drums. The song ends with a gentle fadeout into silence.

“Beyond Good and Evil” draws much of its inspiration from the history of Wata’s hometown of Hiroshima. “There is a vast magnitude in a huge mushroom cloud and in decaying ruins. We feel both the sadness and beauty of these things at the same time; that is who we are,” the band explains.

The cinematically shot video for “Beyond Good and Evil” features the band’s Wata wandering through the abandoned ruins of what was one a gorgeous compound. Wata moves through gradations of shade and light through the property but we eventually pan out to the exterior, seeing it overrun by nature before panning up further heavenward. “This video was made from the perspective of a mushroom cloud,” the band says.

New Audio: Emerging French Artist Valery Rodriguez Tackles Eurythmics’ Smash-Hit “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”

Valery Rodriguez is a Paris-based singer/songwriter, actor, and video director. As an actor, Rodriguez played Banzai in the first Parisian production of The Lion King. He also staged a show based on Afro-American history, titled The Black Legends Show.

Rodriguez steps out into the limelight as an artist and as a director with his cover of Eurythmics‘ smash-hit “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” According to the Paris-based artist, the video is forthcoming — but in the meantime, I can talk about the single: Rodriguez’s cover slows the tempo down for the song’s first half, which creates a brooding and uneasy air within a stark atmospheric production that slowly builds up into an up-tempo, club banger with glistening synth arpeggios, soulful, gospel meets Broadway-like harmonizing, thumping percussion and a gorgeous string arrangement before a gentle fadeout.

The French artist explains that Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” held a personal meaning for him: the song gave him the strength he needed to be resilient during the toughest moments of the pandemic. And as a result, the song feels as though it evokes clearing skies after a particularly turbulent period.

New Video: Belgian Artist Solstice Releases a Coquettish Visual For Latin-Tinged “Amis”

Solstice is an emerging 24 year-old, Brussels-born and-based singer/songwriter, pianist and composer. The emerging Belgian artist can trace the origins of her career to her childhood: Solstice took piano lessons throughout her life — and she eventually attended the Dalcroze Institute before spending couple of years. She also wrote her own poetry. Gradually, she began pairing the poetry in her notebooks with original compositions. Interestingly, her work has been deeply inspired by her mother and her mother’s record collection, which included classical music, psych rock, French chanson, swing and several others — and all of those influences find their way into her music.

In 2015, the Belgian artist joined Zones À Défendre, a French environmentalist group, where she met a collection of poets, activists, thinkers, assorted radicals — and producer/musician Guy Waku.

Waku went on to produce the Belgian artist’s debut ep Amis venez à moi. Released last November, the EP features the Roland Devresse co-written “Amis.” Featuring a lush vocal arrangement for three part harmony, delivered in a coquettish French “Amis” is a slickly pop song that’s centered around a looping, tango-inspired production.

Directed by Gilet Jaune Guillemette Dur, the recently released video for “Amis” sees the emerging Belgian artist meet up at a local club and leads the entire club to a night of Latin-influenced dancing.