Throughout the course of this site’s almost nine year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink on the ridiculously prolific New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. Now, as you may recall, the New York-based JOVM mainstay has received attention from this site and elsewhere for a slickly produced, funky, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, soul, hip-hop and New Wave. Interestingly, over the past year or so, Rhythm Scholar has enlisted a backing band featuring frequent collaborators Jason Spillman (bass) and Marcus Horndt (Rhodes) and Big Once (turntables), all of whom have helped the JOVM mainstay move towards an increasingly organic take on his work.

Rhythm Scholar’s latest remix finds him taking on Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams‘ smash hit collaboration “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” And while retaining Snoop’s imitable and effortlessly smooth flow, the JOVM’s mainstay’s kaleidoscopic remix recalls both Dr. Dre-inspired G Funk-era production and cinematic 70s soul, as the track feature samples from four classic blaxploitation films, 1973’s The Mack, 1973’s Magnum Force, 1975’s Rollerball and 1976’s Car Wash and is centered around twinkling Rhodes, a propulsive, disco-like bass line, fluttering electronics, congos and some much-needed, old school turntablism. Simply put, it’s a lysergic yet funky strutting take on a beloved banger.

 

 

 

New Video: Don Vail’s Lo-Fi Classic MTV-Inspired Visual for Anthemic “On The Wire”

Mitch Bowden is the founder of Mechanical Noise Studio, a recording studio that reportedly sits at the en dog a quiet, winding country road in Dunnville, Ontario, Canada; the sort of road frequently hared with foxes, windmills and little else. He’s also the founding member and creative mastermind behind indie rock act Don Vail — and over the past decade, all of those different identities have blurred into something synonymous for him. 

Bowden emerged into the Canadian indie rock scene with the release of his 2009 Jordon Zadorozny-produced, self-titled debut, an effort that deftly paired harmonic warmth and dispassionate math rock riffs. And instead of serving as a launching pad for Bowden’s career and rising profile, he spent the better part of close to a decade, releasing eight songs and playing two shows.  2016’s self-recorded, self-performed effort Fades managed to be a carefully crafted effort that on a certain level revealed the effect that isolation can have on an artist — way too much personal control, mastery of their craft countered by crippling perfectionism and a lack of urgency. 

Interestingly, during the spring of 2017, Bowden (and in turn, Don Vail) received a rather fortuitous invitation as a result of the previous year’s Fades — an invitation to record material at Grouse Lodge Studios in Ireland. Of course, there was a major catch: the window to show up and record wasn’t open indefinitely; in fact, Bowden only had a matter of a few weeks to turn sketches and pieces of ideas into fully fleshed songs. And at the time, Bowden realized that the band needed to be more than just him. So he enlisted the assistance of longtime drummer Victor Malang, guitarist Matthew Fleming and keyboardist/vocalist Kori Pop for the recording sessions for the act’s forthcoming third full-length album That Stand of Tide. 

The newly-constituted quartet wrote and rehearsed material together — and they all treated the experience at Grouse Lodge as an opportunity not to be wasted. And although the album was finished back at Mechanical Noise Studios in a similar fashion to his previously released material, the trip to Ireland pushed Bowden to get his shit together and finish the album. Reportedly, the album’s 13 songs at points recall Guided by Voices, Jon Biron and Figure 8-era Elliott Smith. While that may be arguable, the album’s latest single “On The Wire is an anthemic bit of fuzzy power pop centered around big and seemingly effortless hooks, and a palpable anxiety and uncertainty; but at its core is an intentionally heartfelt earnestness. 

Directed by Mitch Barnes and the band’s Victor Malang, the recently released video for “On The Wire” follows a painfully awkward and incredibly sad sack man, desperately trying to figure himself out and forge his own identity. And as he does so, he fails miserably — at everything. If there’s one thing that he’s good at, it’s his own nerdy awkwardness. Interestingly, the visuals are purposefully lo-fi, and bring to mind classic MTV with a mischievous aplomb. 

Micheal Lane is a German-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who was raised in the States. As the story goes, he began singing at a very young age, using music as an escape from the troubles he was going through at any point during his life. After spending six years in the Army with three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lane realized that his life was going in a very different direction from the dreams he had. And in 2012, Lane left the States and returned to Germany, where his mother’s family still resides.

Lane participated in the second season of The Voice of Germany, eventually finishing third. His cover of Sarah McLachlan‘s “Angel” and his own original song “Mrs. Lawless” both placed in the Top 50 of the German Music Charts — and with a growing national profile, the Berlin-based singer/songwriter wound up playing at some of Germany’s largest, best known venues. Since then, Lane has released three albums and toured across Europe with his work amassing over 2 million Spotify streams and 1 million YouTube views to date.

 

Slated for release this fall, his self-produced, fourth album Traveling Son thematically finds Lane sharing intimate moments about both his childhood and his adulthood — while sonically, the material is subtly influenced by jazz. Traveling Son‘s latest single “Believe” is a carefully crated, beguiling pop song centered around Lane’s crystalline and plaintive vocals, strummed, acoustic guitar, blasts of shimmering electric guitar, and a huge, anthemic hook. And throughout, the song encourages and dares the listener to stop sitting on the sidelines and go for their dreams.

 

New Audio: Koncept Teams up with Royce da 5’9″ and Wrist.the.Greatest on an Uplifting Banger

Born Keith Michael Whitehead, Koncept is an acclaimed Queens-born emcee, who has led a remarkable life: while working at Fat Beats Records, he co-founded The Brown Bag AllStars with co-founders Soul Khan, Cold Codeine, J57 and The Audible Doctor in 2007. The collective’s 2009 debut mixtape The Brown Tape was released through Coalmine Records while the members of the act were working at Fat Beats — and they followed that up with an attention-grabbing appearance at that year’s Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival.

Building on a growing profile, the members of The Brown Bag All Stars released two EPs in 2010 — The Traveller and The Down Under Remixes. Adding to a busy year, Koncept released his debut EP Playing Life. 2011 saw the release of the first of their annual end-of-year A Year In Review compilations and Brown Bag Season Vol. 1, which featured guest spots from DJ Brace and Marco Polo. While the collective was beginning to receive a larger profile, Koncept’s 2012 full-length debut Awaken, which featured guest appearances from Soul Khan, JOVM mainstay Homeboy Sandman, Royce da 5’9″ and Sene with production from J57 and Marco Polo established the Queens-born emcee as a solo artist in his own right; in fact, as a result of the attention from his debut, Koncept received an endorsement by Red Bull that financed his 2015 critically acclaimed J57-produced The Fuel EP.

After the release of The Fuel, Koncept went to Seoul, South Korea for a two-week tour sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft and Jameson — and those performances developing into more shows and bookings, and eventually a partnership with Sony Music Asia, who released his sophomore effort 14 Hours Ahead, an effort that thematically centered around envisioning your future and dreams, growing and believing in yourself every step of the way, and manifesting them into reality. So far, adding to a growing profile, the Queens-born emcee has also collaborated with the likes of Rick Ross, Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign, Macklemore, Wiz Khalifa, The Roots, Joey Bada$$, Green Day, A$AP Mob, Ghostface Killah and Joell Ortiz.

Earlier this year, the Queens-born JOVM mainstay released a one-off Ray Hill produced single “Countdown,” which found him effortlessly changing his flow and cadences several times throughout an eerie production consisting of chiming synths and stuttering, boom bap beats. And while employing some mischievous wordplay and rhyme scenes, the song finds the emcee and his narrator being both reflective and introspective, as he recalls his missteps, those who counted him out and his desire to keep moving towards the bigger and better things he’s just beginning to see at the end of the proverbial tunnel. The song serves as a reminder that achieving your dreams requires you to sacrifice, bust your ass and believe in yourself even when things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped. And perhaps more important, there’s no such thing as overnight success.

Slated for release later this summer, the Queens-based emcee’s forthcoming Champagne Konny comes after spending two years on the road — with the bulk of it in Asia, including a sold-out tour with Scoop Deville. And while on the road, Koncept discovered a new perspective on his life and his career, which have deeply influenced his work. Interestingly, “Watch the Sky Fall,” which featured Royce da 5’9″ was the lead single off Koncept’s debut album Awaken and it’s remix, “Watch The Sky Fall 2” is a bold remix, inspired by tapping into where it all started — but with a zest and desire for a new life; in fact, the track features a new verse from Koncept, Royce da 5’9″‘s imitable flow paired with a thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking production by Wrist.the.Greatest and Keitel, Jr. reminiscent of Too Short. Throughout, the song features a defiantly positive message: when your life seems to be falling apart, and you’re feeling broken and about to go down for the count, hold on, get up and push forward. 

 

Titus Calderbank is an up-and-coming Vancouver, British Columbia-based singer/songwriter and musician, who according to his Facebook fan page is “determined to create songs that inspire and motivate.” Calderbank’s latest single “Mistakes” is an sparsely arranged yet heartfelt and anthemic ballad, centered around twinkling piano, soaring organ, strummed guitar and the Vancouver-based singer/songwriter’s soulful and aching Sam Fender-like vocals.

Recorded at Vancouver’s Echoplant Sound Studio with Ryan Worsley, the song as Calderbank explains in press notes “is a song about failure and regret. A song about missing the mark. It’s also a song of redemption and asking for forgiveness. Humans often fail short. At the end of the day, we have to a accept that we’re tall trying our best.” Calderbank adds, “What I hope to communicate through this song is that mercy and forgiveness are always an option. We can either be slaves to our past mistakes or make peace with them and move on. We can grace our enemies with forgiveness or we can die with bitter hearts.”

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Beverly Kills Release an 80s Rom Com-Inspired Visual for Swooning and Anthemic “In This Dim Light”

Over the past year or so, I’ve written a bit about the Gothenburg, Sweden-based indie rock quartet Beverly Kills, and as you may recall with the release of singles like “Fourteen,” “Melodrama,” and “Dreamless” the band quickly received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a shimmering, anthemic hook-based 4AD Records era take on dream pop. In fact, last year was a huge year for the rising Swedish dream pop quartet: they were named one of the Best Swedish Indie Debuts of 2018” by HYMN, received a Gaffa Awards nomination for Breakthrough of the Year, and played a Viva Sounds Festival showcase in their hometown.

Building upon a growing profile, the band played several by:Larm Festival sets opening for Agent bla, Moaning and Vasterbron earlier this year — and they signed to Australian indie label Hell Beach and Swedish label Welfare Sounds, both of whom released “Revellers” earlier this year. The Gothenburg-based dream pop quartet and JOVM mainstays have been rather busy this year as they promptly followed the release of “Revellers” with the limited edition double single vinyl “In This Dim Light”/”Melodrama,” which was released last month. “In This Dim Light” continues a run of shimmering and anthemic singles — but unlike their predecessors, the song conveys the tumultuous and desperately urgent quality of young love. 

Directed by Jakob Ekvall, the recently released video features the band playing at a high school prom in front of a rom full of young people, who are trying to navigate the turbulence of being a teenager — and that of being in a relationship. Most of the video focuses on a prototypical nervous and anxious nerd, who shoots his shot and eventually wins the attention of the prom queen. With the heavy use of pastels and some clearly 80s-like outfits, the video seems indebted to John Hughes films and other classic 80s films. 

Taylor Knox is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who can trace the origins of his musical career to over a decade ago, when he was recruited to play drums for The Golden Dogs, an act that was considered one of Canada’s criminally under-appreciated bands — and coincidentally, one of Knox’s favorite bands, too.

During his stint with The Golden Dogs, Knox forged friendships with several other bandmembers, who all go on to form Zeus. As a result of Zeus, Knox was a frequent presence at the band’s Toronto studio Ill Eagle, which naturally offered him the perfect environment and the opportunity to begin experimenting with his own original material. Interestingly, Knox and his then-newly formed Zeus were tapped by Jason Collett to be his regular backing band — and it brought him into contact with an even wider circle of musicians, including Luke Doucet, whom he joined on Doucet’s tour to support his acclaimed Steel City Traveler. He also joined Hayden for the Us Alone recording sessions and subsequent tour. He also played with acclaimed Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Rich Aucoin.

With the release of the Lines EP and his full-length debut Love, Knox stepped out into the spotlight, crafting anthemic power pop that has drawn comparisons to acclaimed and highly influential Canadian power pop act Sloan and others. Slated for a June 7, 2019 release, Knox’s sophomore album Here Tonight thematically focuses on the mystery, stillness and artistic inspiration of the night; in fact, Knox’s tendency to be a night owl was a major influence on the album. And when he started writing the material that would eventually comprise his forthcoming sophomore album, he focused on precisely what he was thinking about — and what he wanted to do and say with it. He didn’t want to waste the insight that nighttime has always given him.“I really try to make sure the songs I write come from a place of not something I want to write but something I kind of have to get out. What I’m feeling below what I’m thinking,” Knox says in press notes.

Sonically speaking, the album, which sees Knox working with Josh Korody reportedly sees Knox continuing with the power pop that has won him attention — fuzzy and /or crunchy power chords, forceful drumming and rousingly anthemic hooks; but he sought guidance and inspiration from much more contemporary artists like The Weeknd, SZA and Prince in terms of production and songwriting, as well as the legendary Joni Mitchell. In fact, Korody’s production helped to add new textures to his overall sound, thanks to the incorporation of synths and keyboards to create glistening gutter tones. Knox also worked with Rob Schnapf in Los Angeles, who helped make one song reportedly to sound like one of the best Oasis songs to never appear on an Oasis album.

Interestingly, what sets the Toronto-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s sophomore album apart from this previously released work is a free flowing spontaneity that was encouraged by Korody and Schnapf — and that left room for unrestrained creativity. Doing this, he says, “leaves a little bit of room for discovery with the collaborator and room for their influence. I’ve always tried to do that but I did it more this time because I have confidence that I’ll be able to come up with it on the spot.” Adding to that, Knox brought in a number of Toronto’s finest musicians to collaborator for the sessions including July Talks‘ Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay and Tokyo Police Club‘s Dave Monks.

Here Tonight‘s latest single is the rousingly anthemic, Live It Up.” Centered around fuzzy power chords, forceful drumming, a big arena rock friendly hook and an ethereal falsetto, the track recalls 120 Minutes alt rock — in particular, The Posies, The Breeders, Smashing Pumpkins and even more contemporary acts like Silversun Pickups but with the free-flowing air of a bunch of guys jamming and coming up with something incredibly cool and full of furious passion.