New Video: French Genre-Defying Act Jahlover Releases a Summery Club Banger

Jahlover is a unique and emerging French that boldly and defiant defies genre and sonic boundaries — and although they’re primarily a reggae act, their sound features elements of several different genres and styles including zouk, salsa, hip-hop, Afrobeat, rumba, rock and pop. Interestingly, as a result of their globe-spanning sound, the act’s lyrics are written and sung in several different languages. While being commercially accessible, the act’s overall objective is to use their music for just and righteous causes — to promote justice and equality for all, preserving and protecting Mother Earth and of course, to be anti-racist. So overall their goal is to spread positive messages of love, peace, understanding and kindness to all. 

The French act’s latest single “Do You Feel (Ressens Tu) is a breezy and summery banger centered around a sinuous bass line, twinkling percussion, stuttering beats and sultry vocals singing lyrics in English and French, plus an old-school spoken word section delivered in a baritone reminiscent of Boyz 2 Men — and as a result, the song manages to further cement their globalist, Pan African sound while being remarkably upbeat. 

Initially starting as a bedroom, solo recording project of its Melbourne, Australia-based founding member and frontman Dan Whitfield and expanding into a full-fledge band with Tim Hoey (guitar), Mitchell Scott (drums) and Ben Browning (bass), the acclaimed indie electro pop act Cut Copy have been one of their homeland’s most successful and well-regarded acts over their nearly 20 years together. 2008’s In Ghost Colours, which featured standout singles “Lights & Music” and “Hearts on Fire,” received nominations for ARIA’s Best Dance/Electronic Album and Album of the Year at the J Awards. 2011’s Zonoscope topped the ARIA charts, was nominated for a Best Dance/Electronic Album at that year’s Grammy Awards and won a Best Dance Release ARIA Award. Adding to an enormous, internationally known profile, the members of Cut Copy have gone on a number of successful national and international tours, and have made appearances on the late night TV circuit, including stops on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Cut Copy’s sixth full-length album Freeze, Melt is slated for an August 21, 2020 release through Cutters Records/The Orchard — and the album reportedly finds the band expanding and refining the sound that has won them national and international acclaim. Written during an especially cold European winter, the album sees the band pulling the emotional leanings of their work into the foreground with the material thematically exploring love in strange and perilous times.

So far two singles have been released off the album, “Cold Water” and the slow-burning, intimate and atmospheric “Love Is All We Share,” which I wrote about earlier this year. Melt, Freeze‘s third and latest single, “Like Breaking Glass” may arguably be the most dance floor friendly single. Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, stuttering beats, a soaring hook, some subtle industrial clang and clatter, and Whitfield’s plaintive vocals, “Like Breaking Glass” is a bit of a return to form for the Aussie act, as it sounds as though it could have possibly been part of the In Ghost Colours sessions. But at its core, the song is emotionally ambivalent, evoking the confecting emotions of a relationship on the verge of a breakup — especially

Dan Whitford says of the single: “In the beginning ‘Like Breaking Glass’ started out as a completely different track. Before one weekend I was mucking around in the studio with just a drum beat and an acid bassline. I never managed to finish it, but when I came back to it the next week there was something about that beat that felt compelling, so I started writing a song over the top of it. It is about the conflicted feelings of a relationship that has begun to unravel. Where sometimes against all logic, you discover that affections run deep just as a break up becomes inevitable. It was also one of my favourite songs working in the studio with the band when we crafted the middle section of the song comprising of weird delay effects, off-beat drum hits and metallic clangs where Mitchell was throwing a box of metal objects around the room, and we stood there recording him.”

Throughout this site’s decade history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the rising New York-based post-punk act Bootblacks. Now, as you may recall, the post-punk JOVM mainstays — Panther Almqvist (vocals), Alli Gorman (guitar), Barrett Hiatt (synths) and Larry Gorman (drums) — derive their name from novelist William Burroughs’ description of the dark underbelly of New York. Unsurprisingly, the band’s surroundings have deeply influenced their work both sonically and thematically. “It’s an energetic city and people have all the reasons in the world not to give you the time of day,” the band’s Panther Almqvist says in press notes. “I think our music has been shaped by that in many ways.”

In 2012, the New York-based post-punk released their Jim Sclavunos-produced debut EP Narrowed. 2016 saw the release of their full-length debut Veins, which they supported with extensive touring. Interestingly, 2017’s sophomore effort Fragments found the band expanding their sound with the material becoming more synth-based, more atmospheric and much bigger than its immediate predecessors. And as a result, Fragments received quite a bit of attention, which helped the band earn slots on a number of post-punk/New Wave/goth festivals including Cold Waves, Terminus, Absolution, Wave Gotik Treffen and A Murder of Crows — and the album landed on a lot of year-end lists.

The members of Bootblacks have played at every significant venue in the New York Metropolitan area, sharing stages with Clan of Xymox, Light Asylum, HEALTH and VOWWS. Along the way, they’ve managed to tour across North America and Europe. Of course, like countless acts across the world, the members of the rising New York-based post-punk act had plans — and hopes — for a big 2020, pre COVID-19 pandemic quarantines and lockdowns: they were handpicked to open for Modern English during their North American tour this year. Unfortunately, that tour has been postponed. But in the meantime, the band’s highly anticipated Jason Corbett-produced third album Thin Skies will be released through Artoffact Records and the album reportedly finds the band zooming forward where Fragments left off — with its nine songs meshing dance floor pulse and melodic, brooding post-punk with anthemic hooks. The album’s material also features backing vocals from ACTORS‘ Shannon Hemmett, SRSQ‘s and Them Are Us Too‘s Kennedy Ashyln.

Thin Skies continues the band’s long-held thematic concerns: the loneliness of city life. “Most of the lyrics on the album are about loneliness,” says Almqvist. “Looking back on the lyric writing process there seems to be some connective feeling of isolation and distance present in all of the songs… I’m always hoping that a listener personalizes the song, that’s why the songs never have a narrative but try to embody a feeling.”

So far I’ve written about Thin Skies‘ first two singles — the brooding yet dance floor friendly and motorik groove driven “Traveling Light,” and the jittery and anxious “The Jealous Star,” which managed to evoke the anxious and unsettled yearning of a confused. vagabond heart. The album’s third and latest single is the cinematic album title track “Thin Skies.” Centered around thunderous drumming, shimmering blasts of guitars, atmospheric electronics, skittering beats and Almqvist’s brooding vocals, the album title track evokes a very post-modern sense of alienation and despair while simultaneously sounding as though it could part of a soundtrack to a Tarantino-like film noir.

“The story of the road, empty spaces, hours of endless driving across barren landscapes, is not only romantic and fascinating, but something near to every musician’s heart,” Bootblacks’ Almqvist says. “The touring component of music attracts wandering spirits. ‘Thin Skies’ is a tribute to that feeling and to all the lore of independence, loneliness, and mystery that life on the road encompasses.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Tame Impala Releases a Lysergic Visual for “Is It True”

Over the course of this site’s 10 year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Perth, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Kevin Parker, the creative mastermind behind the critically acclaimed and commercially successful psych pop/synth pop project Tame Impala.

Parker’s third Tame Impala album, 2015’s Currents was a critical and commercial breakthrough: released to wide-ranging critical applause across the blogosphere and elsewhere the album was a RIAA Gold-Certified, Grammy-nominated effort that revealed a decided change in direction for Parker’s songwriting and sound, as it featured some of his most emotionally direct lyrics paired with a nuanced and textured sound that drew from and meshed elements of psych rock, psych pop, prog rock, synth pop and R&B.

Released earlier this year, Parker’s fourth Tame Impala effort The Slow Rush continued an impressive and enviable run of critically applauded and commercially material, but unlike its immediate predecessor, the album thematically focuses on the rapid passing of time and life’s infinite cycles of creation and destruction — with the material conjuring the feeling of a lifetime in a lightning bolt, of major milestones and events whizzing by you while you’re staring at your phone. “A lot of the songs carry this idea of time passing, of seeing your life flash before your eyes, being able to see clearly your life from this point onwards. I’m being swept by this notion of time passing. There’s something really intoxicating about it,” Parker told the New York Times.

I’ve managed to write about four of the album’s previous release singles — the upbeat “Patience,” a single which seamlessly bridged ’90s house and ’70s funk while being a meditation on the cycles and phrases of life; “Borderline,” a hook-driven, blissed out track with house music flourishes; It Might Be Time,”a swaggering prog rock meets psych pop anthem featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats and an enormous hook; and “Lost in Yesterday,” a woozy and lysergic, disco-tinged banger that explored time’s distorting effect on perspective and memories that suggested that given enough time, nostalgia gives even the most embittering times in your life, a rosy tinge and a sense of purpose and meaning that may not have actually existed.

The Slow Rush’s fifth and latest single “Is It True” continues a run of swooning yet dance floor friendly material featuring handclap led percussion, synth arpeggios, Parker’s plaintive falsetto an enormous hook and a shimmering and dreamy bridge held together by a sinuous bass line. And while dance floor friendly, the track focuses on the seeming impermanence and confusion of love, and the countless paths our lives can take with just one single decision. In the song’s case, the decision is whether or not its narrator tells an object of affection how he feels for her — with the understanding that whatever happens will be life altering.

The recently released video for “Is It True” features Parker on a TV screen singing the song and rocking out to it — in front of flashing and rapidly morphing background and trippy lighting effects. At one point we see Parker laying in grassy, technicolor field, adding to the overall lysergic feel. 

Live Footage: Black Pumas Performs “Fire” on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”

I’ve spilled quit a bit of virtual ink covering the Grammy Award-nominated Austin, TX-based soul act and JOVM mainstays, Black Pumas over the past year. Led by Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada and San Fernando Valley-born singer/songwriter and guitarist Eric Burton, the acclaimed act can trace their origins back to 2017. Burton, who grew up singing in church and in musical theater, started busking at the Santa Monica pier, where he brought in a few hundred dollars and day and honing his performance skills. He then traveled through the Western states before deciding to settle down in Austin, setting up a busking spot on 6th Street and Congress, a prime location in the city’s downtown neighborhood for maximum exposure.  

Meanwhile, Quesada was looking to collaborate with someone new. He reached out to friends in Los Angeles and London — but nothing seemed to fit. Serendipitously, a mutual friend recommended Burton to Quesada, telling the Grammy Award-winning songwriter, guitarist and producer that Burton was the best singer he had ever heard. The two musicians connected but Burton took a while to respond. “My friends were like ‘Dude, you’re a mad man, you need to hit that guy back!’” Burton recalls. When Burton did call Quesada, he sang to him over the phone. “I loved his energy, his vibe, and I knew it would be incredible on record,” Quesada says. “From the moment I heard him on the phone, I was all about it.”

Last year, the duo along with a talented cast of collaborators released their breakthrough full-length debut. Along with that, the band had gone on a relentless tour schedule that brought their uplifting live show across North America and the European Union, including three separate stops in the New York area: The Knitting Factory, last May; Mercury Lounge, last July; and Brooklyn Bowl last September. Additionally, during that same period of time the band has made begun to make the rounds across the nationally televised talk show circuit, playing  Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Ellen Show and others.

Since the self-titled debut’s release, the album has sold 155,000+ album equivalents worldwide, with smash hit “Colors” hitting #1 on Adult Album Alternative (AAA) radio and has been streamed over 60 million times. And as I mentioned earlier, the band was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy along with fellow JOVM mainstay Yola — losing out to Billie Eilish.

Black Pumas will be releasing a deluxe version of their breakthrough self-titled album, which will feature new artwork, previously unpublished in-studio and live performance photographs, as well as a bonus 7 inch featuring three previously unreleased originals, live-in studio versions of “Colors,” “October 33,” and “Confines;” a live version of “Know You Better,” recorded at C-Boys Heart & Soul, the Austin club, where the band first made a name for themselves; the band’s attention-grabbing covers of The Beatles‘ “Eleanor Rigby,” Death’s “Politicians in My Eyes,” Bobby “Blue” Bland‘s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City,” and Tracy Chapman‘s “Fast Car,” which they premiered on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last month.

Building upon their rapidly growing profile, the act was recently on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where they performed one of my favorite songs off their self-titled album, the Muscle Shoals-like shuffle “Fire.”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay TOBACCO Teams Up With Trent Reznor on the Menacing and Infectious “Babysitter”

Thomas Fec, a.k.a TOBACCO is a Pittsburgh-born and based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, and throughout his two decade-plus music career, Fec has used analog synthesizers and tape machines to create a boundary-pushing sound that evokes a woozy and uneasy intertwining of tension, anxiety, bemusement and pleasure as the frontman and creative mastermind of Black Moth Super Rainbow, as a solo artist and through his production work. 

2016 saw the release of Fec’s fourth TOBACCO album Sweatbox Dynasty — and since then the JOVM mainstay has been incredibly busy. TOBACCO reconvened Black Moth Super Rainbow to write and record 2018’s Panic Blooms, which was supported with tours with The Stargazer Lilies and Nine Inch Nails. Last year saw the JOVM mainstay producing The Stargazer Lilies’ abrasive and trippy Occabot — and he collaborated with Aesop Rock in Malibu Ken, a project that released their critically applauded debut album. And additionally, TOBACCO penned the theme song to HBO’s Silicon Valley.

Earlier this year, the JOVM mainstay released his first batch of solo material since Sweatbox Dynasty, the “Hungry Eyes”/”Can’t Count On Her” 7 inch which featured the Pittsburgh-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s woozy and scuzzy take on Eric Carmen’s Franke Previte and John DeNicola co-written smash hit “Hungry Eyes.” But as it turned out, the “Hungry Eyes”/”Can’t Count On Her” 7 inch may have been a bit of a preview of the JOVM mainstay’s forthcoming full-length Hot Wet & Sassy,

Slated for an October 30, 2020 release through Ghostly International, Hot Wet & Sassy reportedly oozes with anti-love, self-hate and disappointment in others — while further refining the pop impulses that have underpinned his unique sound — blown out, bass, fuzzy analog synths, drum machines and Fec’s analog gurgle and hiss. “I feel like it’s the most I’ve been able to refine what I’m doing,” says Fec. “For the past decade I’ve had this motherfxcker on my shoulder that makes me pick away at structure and melody. Purposely covering up moments because I can. That really came to a peak on Sweatbox. So I wanted the opposite this time. Write the songs without ripping them in half. I went from ‘what would the Butthole Surfers do?’ to ‘what would Cyndi Lauper do?’”

Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “Babysitter” finds Fec teaming up with Nine Inch Nails’ mastermind Trent Reznor — and the end result is a deranged and unsettling lurch between a menacingly saccharine bridge and what sounds like someone gleefully running a  rusty manual lawnmower through someone’s carpet. In other words:  hot hi-hats, thumping toms battle against scorched synths and gurgling and bubbling hiss and distortion. And yet, the song strangely enough manages to have some of the most accessible, pop-leaning hooks of Fec’s career. “This was new for me, but I wanted to write a song that was everything I am and have been, and then like one notch further. Trent was the notch further,” adds Fec.

New Audio: Funk Legend Steve Arrington Gives Us Advice on Getting Through These Dark Times

Steve Arrington is a Dayton, OH-born and-based singer/songwriter and drummer, who got his start with the acclaimed Dayton-based funk and soul act Slave in the 70s, eventually becoming best known for being the lead singer on the act’s smash hits “Watching You,” and “Just a Touch of Love.” Continuing an incredible run of success, Arrington went solo, releasing a handful of albums before leaving the secular music world in 1991 to focus on spiritual and ministerial work. 

An impressive and eclectic array of artists have drawn influence from Arrington’s with artists like Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, N.W.A. and a lengthy list of others sampling his work in Slave and as a solo artist. 

Arrington returned to secular music in 2009 with the release of that year’s Pure Thang, which he followed up with 2013’s collaborative album with Dam-Funk, Higher, released through Stones Throw Records. Additionally during the past decade, the Dayton-born and-based has had a number of attention-grabbing  guest spots with the aforementioned Snoop Dogg, Kool Moe Dee, George Clinton, and Thundercat. 

Slated for a September 18, 2020 release through Stones Throw Records, Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions is the funk legend’s first solo album in 11 years — and the album reportedly sees Arrington finding peace with himself and God while casting an easygoing but still razor-sharp critical eye on the world around him. The album’s second and latest single “Soulful I Need That In My Life” is a slow-burning, Quiet Storm-like pimp strut centered around twinkling and gurgling synths, a sinuous bass line, plucked bursts of guitar, and Arrington’s imitable crooning. While bearing a resemblance to Arrington’s famous work in Slave, the song offers prescriptive advice for listeners in at time of uncertainty, stress and despair — “downshift,” and slow it down. “Some nice, soulful music is going to bring some peace to this time of trouble and stress,” the funk legend says in press notes. And you know what? I suspect he’s right. 

Created by Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf and Jamma D, “Soulful I Need That In My Life” the song can trace its origins to when the song’s producer Jamma D ran into Wolf at the label’s Gold Line Bar during the early states of the album. Wolf invited Jamma D to share some beats. And after sending a bunch of beats over, Jamma was surprised to hear that the funk legend wanted to use a beat for the album.“A few months after that I was behind the board in a studio watching Steve in the booth write, record, and ad-lib the entire jam in about 3 hours.” Jamma D says. “It was the pleasure of a lifetime to bear witness to the funk in its purest undiluted form, the INVADE is upon you!”

Formed back in 201t6, the Brooklyn-based act No Swoon — Tasha Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt (synths) — have received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that meshes elements of dream pop, shoegaze, post-punk and ethereal wave. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year, you may recall that the JOVM mainstays have added their names to a growing list of acts like BLACKSTONE RNGRS, Lightfoils that have been pushing the sonic and aesthetic boundaries of shoegaze and dream pop as far as they possibly could.

2018’s EP 1 was written in Los Angeles during a self-imposed exile from the East Coast. For Abbott, a native of Ontario, CA, the idea was to get back to her geographic and musical roots: she spent a great deal of time driving around the suburbs listening to the goth and New Wave that her mom played in the car when Abbott was a little girl  (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, New Order) and the indie rock and punk rock of her teenage years (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes). Last year’s s Jorge Elbrecht-produced, self-titled full-length debut firmly established their sound. And while being ambitious and urgent, the material thematically touched upon the confusion, frustration and uncertainty of our zeitgeist with narrators seeking answers to questions that may never be easily resolved.

Of course, much like countless acts across the world, the Brooklyn-based shoegazers had plans for a national tour to support their self-titled debut — but because of COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions, those plans have been indefinitely scrapped. In the meantime, the band will be releasing a digital zine Cancelled Tour The Zine, which will highlight the bands and artists No Swoon would have toured with during their Spring 2020 tour.

Along with that, they released “Otherside (Demo).” Written, recorded and produced through social distancing guidelines, the track is the first bit of new song that the band since the release of their full-length debut — and it’s part of a batch of material that the band has been working on. Featuring Mitski’s touring drummer Jonathan Smith, “Otherside” is a slow-burning track centered around shimmering guitars, Abbot’s ethereal crooning, fuzzy synths and a soaring hook. But at its core is a yearning and unquenchable desire for something just out of reach, whether it be the small things that make us all so very much human like touch, sex, companionship — or the end to this period of pandemic disease, death, economic ruin and uncertainty.

100% of the proceeds from the single and the Canceled Tour The Zine electronic zine will go to National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), a collection of the country’s over 1,300 independent music venues fighting to survive through this period of historic uncertainty. Music is arguably one of America’s greatest exports — and perhaps even more importantly on a local level, your local music venue gives back in many more ways economically than what you may be aware. Livelihoods are on the line, here.