Perhaps best known as a founding member, primary songwriter and frontwoman of renowned indie rock act Howling Bells, along with Glenn Moule (drums), her brother Joel (lead guitar) and Gary Daines (bass guitar), the Sydney, Australia-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Juanita Stein has developed a reputation as a solo artist of note with the release of last year’s solo debut America, an album that thematically focused on the iconography and cultural landscapes of a country that had always fascinated her from afar.

Slated for an August 31, 2018 release through Nude Records, Stein’s sophomore album, Until The Lights Fade will further cement her long-held reputation for crafting twangy and old-timey country-tinged indie rock — but this time, the album thematically speaking is concerned with thoughts, feelings, stories and characters rooted far closer to home. “I feel like the two albums are different sides of the same coin,” Stein explain. “If America was the starting point of a journey — the musical equivalent of me spreading my wings, but also treading carefully, trying to figure myself out having come from such an intense period of camaraderie in the band; then this record is me starting to gain a bit more traction, feeling more confident in where I’m coming from and what is I’m doing.” When the opportunity arose last year to spend a week in Austin, TX with Stuart Sikes, who has worked with Cat Power, The White Stripes, Loretta Lynn, Stein grabbed it. “When you reach a certain point in life and moments like that appear, you have to go with it. Up ’til now, everything I’ve done has been planned and laboured over, but this album was very impromptu, very spur of the moment — a couple of the musicians I was working with, I had only met for the first time that week. It was like nothing I’d ever done before.” Naturally, that impromptu nature of the recording sessions wound up influencing the material’s overall sound — and with album single “Easy Street,” there’s a ramshackle and free-flowing vibe that underlies the material’s deliberate attention to craft that brings to mind 70s AM radio rock, thanks in part to the song’s anthemic hooks, twangy power chords. As Stein says of the song, “‘Easy Street’ was written very immediately. Everything about it felt intuitive and direct. Touring the songs off America for the last couple of years has given me some unique insight into people and their situations. You’re clocking up some good miles across various cities and countries, you see people getting by, doing what they can, being inventive with their realities. Hope/desperation isn’t limited to geography, everyone’s looking for an easy way out essentially. This song is about someone running from their reality and trying to find a better life for themselves.”

Adding to a growing profile as a solo artist, Stein had a recent run of dates opening for The Killers that included a SXSW stop — and since then she’s toured with renowned Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry, made some stops across the international touring circuit that included Latitude Festival, Green Man Festival, and Black Deer Festival. Building up buzz for her sophomore effort, Stein will be playing a number of dates across the UK. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates 
24th     June     Black Deer Festival, Tunbridge Wells
8th       July      TRNSMT Festival, Glasgow
14th     July      Latitude Festival, Southwold
20th     July      Spain, Benicassim Festival
24th     July      Finland, Helsinki Arena (with The Killers)
26th     July      Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Rockhal (with The Killers)
18th     August Green Man Festival, Crickhowell
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Massage is a Los Angeles-based indie rock act comprised id of Alex Naidus (guitar, vocals), who was once a member of Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Michael Felix (drums), Andrew Romano (guitar, vocals), David Rager (bass) and Gabrielle Ferrer (keys, vocals), and in a relatively short period of time, the band has received attention for crafting a jangling guitar pop sound that as the band’s Andrew Romano says in press notes was “inspired by a new generation of Australian bands like Twerps and Boomgates and Dick Driver, who are ostensibly doing a very retrograde thing — I mean they’re mostly white guys playing guitar rock — but somehow finding a sweet spot that Americans, who tend towards the muscular and melodramatic, always seem to miss: messier and more casual, but also catchier somehow.”

The band’s full-length debut Oh Boy is slated for a July 27, 2018 release through Tear Jerk Records, and the album’s latest single, album title track “Oh Boy,” will further cement their growing reputation for writing shimmering guitar pop and gorgeous melodies — but with a loose, ramshackle vibe. As the band’s Romano says of the song “‘Oh Boy’ is our California version of that ramshackle vibe. When I wrote it, I was listening to a lot of 16 Lovers Lane-era Go-Betweens — ground zero for today’s Aussie scene — and I think that their influence may have come through in all the droning chords and the domestic imagery. The last lines of the song were dummy lyrics that suck. I realized what they were about — how honest they were about things I hadn’t even realized I was feeling; about family and fatherhood and settling down and ambition — and the rest of the words were written in response. Sometimes a song tells you what it wants to be.”

New Video: Introducing the Swaggering Sultry and Bluesy Sounds of Germany’s Sky Blue Skin

Comprised of founding member and creative mastermind Olivia Solner (vocals, electric slide guitar), Vincent Kusche (drums) and their newest member, Jakob Heeren (keys), the German indie rock trio Sky Blue Skin derives their name from the title of an unreleased Jeff Buckley demo that Solner was obsessed with. Initially, the project began as a solo project that began to receive a bit of attention for a series of live shows, before Solner recruited Vinzent Kusche. Jakob Heeren is a recent recruit, who makes his debut with the band on their recently released debut EP.

“Mirror Mirror,” the EP’s latest single is a scuzzy and swaggering blues rock with enormous, arena rock friendly hooks and power chord riffs that immediately brings The Kills, The Black Keys and PJ Harvey to mind. As Solner told me in an email, “Mirror Mirror” and the rest of the EP is the culmination of a difficult and emotionally intense period which resulted in the realization that nothing and nobody is what it seems — and that resulting disillusion is a good thing. Edited by the band’s Olivia Solner, the recently released video is a surreal and hallucinogenic mash up of found footage and old movies.

Several years ago, I wrote about the London-based electro rock/industrial rock trio Blindness, an act that featured Beth Rettig (vocals, programming), Emma Quick (bass) and Debbie Smith (guitar), who also had stints in Curve, Echobelly and Snowpony. After Blindness split up, Rettig started tinkering around with new music and reworking some ideas that she had lying around without much of a plan. As Rettig told me in an email, “Recently, I decided it was probably time to do something with some of the new stuff.” Debbie Smith, her former Blindness bandmate contributed guitars, along with some programming on one of the two singles, Rettig has released with her new project Where We Sleep, a project that Rettig hopes will have her working with other musicians as well. Unsurprisingly, the project draws from some of Rettig’s lifelong influences — Curve, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Nine Inch Nails, PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, Massive Attack, and others.

“Veins,” the first Where We Sleep single finds Rettig collaborating with her former Blindness bandmate Debbie Smith, who contributes some thumping drum programming, arpeggiated synths and buzzing power chords in a sultry and anthemic New Wave-like song that sounds as though it were influenced by Sixousie and the Banshees and Depeche Mode. “Crawl” is a moody and atmospheric track centered around Rettig’s breathy vocals and industrial clang and clatter — and sonically speaking, the song may arguably be the most Depeche Mode-like that she’s released yet.

 

New Video: Nana Adjoa Returns with the Mesmerizing and Intimate Sounds and Visuals for “Three”

Over the past few months I’ve written quite a bit about  Nana Adjoa, an up-and-coming Dutch-Ghanian singer/songwriter, who began to receive attention across the European Union and elsewhere with the release of her debut Down at the Root, Part 1, and as you may recall Adjoa was accepted at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she would study jazz  — electric bass and double bass; however, she found the experience to not be what she had always imagined it would.  “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.” Interestingly, around the same time, the Amsterdam-born and-based singer/songwriter began to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while outside of the school environment. Adjoa quickly began to realize that pursing a solo career was the direction she needed to take, and so she formed a band and record her original songs, which has resulted in the attention grabbing Down At The Root Part 1 and the soon-to-be released Down At The Root Part 2.

“Honestly,” Down at the Root Part 2‘s first single was an effortless and breezy affair that seemed indebted to Simply Bill-era Bill Withers, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and others, driven by an infectious hook and a lush melody. The EP’s second single, “Part Of It,” much like its predecessor was centered around a lush and plaintive melody, a sinuous and propulsive bass line, and arguably the most straightforward and honest lyrics of the entire EP, with the song focusing on the desire to fit in when you’re an outsider. “Three,” the EP’s aptly titled third single is a stripped down and intimate song in which Adjoa’s lovely and tender vocals are accompanied by simply strummed guitar and some fluttering electronics, which will further the Dutch-Ghaniaan singer/songwriter’s reputation for writing mesmerizing and effortlessly soulful, and thoughtful pop. 

 

Deriving their name from a British English word that means to be an avant-gardist — one who emphasizes, practices and celebrates experimental and unorthodox methods and techniques and incorporates them into a craft, Avantist is a South Side, Chicago-based post-punk act, comprised of the Arias Brothers, Luis (drums), David (guitar), Erick (bass) and Fernando (vocals). And over the past decade, the sibling band members have dedicated their lives to making avant made music, centered around their shared personal philosophy that art is, should and must be progressive, dynamic and unconventional, and that creativity is something to incorporate in every single aspect of one’s life. 
The band’s soon-to-be released EP Terasaoma finds the band stepping out of their comfort zone by forcing themselves to write, record, mix and master the EP’s material within  month, instead of the two years it took for their debut effort; however, Terasoma will reportedly further cement the band’s reputation locally and regionally for raucous and infectious post punk while finding the band pushing their sound and songwriting in completely different directions — with the material running the gamut from angular and furious post-punk to more R&B-like.  Of course, the EP’s latest single is the thrashing and angular post-punk ripper “this_could_be_it,” which finds Fernando Arias alternating lyrics in Spanish and English. And in some way, the song should remind listeners that being proudly,  boldly and fearlessly of color — and of Latin descent in particular — in these dark and infuriating days may truly be punk as fuck.
The Chicago-based sibling quartet will be playing a bunch of shows to support their EP, including an EP release show at The Empty Bottle on June 20, 2018. Check out the tour dates below.
Tour Dates
6/20 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle (EP Release Show)
6/22 – Chicago, IL – PRF BBQ Fest @ Illuminated Brewery
6/23 – Alton, IL – Bottle & Barrel
6/24 – Tulsa, OK – Soundpony (w/ The Danner Party, Carlton Hesston)
6/25 – Austin, TX – Beerland (w/ The Boleys, Desilu, Black Basements)
6/26 – Spring, TX – The Blue Giraffe (w/ Brainstorm fir Tuesday, Kaleidescope Project, and Zzyzx)
6/28 – Birmingham, AL – Firehouse (w/ False Jasmine, Bible Belt, Mike Hombre)
6/29 – Nashville, TN – Betty’s Grill
6/30 – Louisville, KY – Lydia House (w/ Wax Astro, Legs Akimbo)
7/01 – Champaign, IL – Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (w/ Arboris, Parachute Day

Patrick Phillips is a Portland, OR-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, DJ and multi-instrumentalist, and creative mastermind behind the dream pop/indie pop/psych pop recording project Water Slice. In some way, the project can trace its origins back to when Philips realized that his life in Portland was beginning to closely resemble an unending Portlandia sketch as he worked at a hip gastropub, played packed local gigs and DJ’ed obscure African music. With that realization, Phillips decide it was time to leave Portland, eventually relocating to Los Angeles. In 2014, he moved into an idyllic artist house located in the hills of the Echo Park section — and as the story goes, Phillips would spend a great deal of time on the house’s rooftop, overlooking the city’s landscape in the shade of a  giant rubber tree, contemplating life and writing songs, partially influenced by his surroundings.

During his first month in town, Phillips met James Supercave‘s Joaquin Pastor and spent the next 2 years as that band’s bassist. After leaving James Supercave, the Portland-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist had time to process his past life in Portland and to dive back into his record collection of power-pop, post-punk and world psychedelia — and this period was for him, the definitive spark that led him to write his own material under the moniker Water Slice. Of course, the material he had begun to write drew deeply from his own personal experience — particularly, a lengthy romantic relationship that dissolved and friendships that fell by the wayside (as many do), and the lingering ache and confusion of a past that’s continually just out of reach and the acceptance of a present that barely makes sense.

With the release of “This Way,” the first single off his forthcoming self-titled debut EP, slated for an August 10, 2018 release, Philips quickly received attention for a sound that pairs buoyant and breezy grooves with dark lyrical content. As Philips told Ones to Watch, “Many of my favorite tunes, whether post-punk, power-pop, or reggae, are stories of suffering, while staying undeniably groovy. I love this contrast of heavy lyrics with otherwise sunny music, and I kept this tradition in mind when writing ‘This Way.’ At the time I was stuck deep in a rut, ‘This Way’ is about accepting my flaws and pushing into the future with the people I love.” Interestingly, the EP’s second and latest single “Please Remember” is the only track produced by Gus Seyffert, best known for his work with Roger Waters, Beck, The Black Keys, Dr. Dog and James Supercave, and while the single will further cement Philips’ growing reputation for crafting breezy and buoyant pop with a wistful and nostalgic air; but there’s also an underlying acceptance and celebration of how life seems to constantly shift around you, forcing you to shift lanes, change direction  or stop whatever it was you were doing In the first place. After all, no one really has an answer to anything and nothing really works the way it’s supposed to — and yet, we usually find a way.

 

 

 

 

New Video: The Floral and Femme Punk-Inspired Visuals for Taleen Kali’s “Half Lie”

Last month, I wrote about Taleen Kali, an up-and-coming Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician, who’s best known for being a member of TÜLIPS, and as  you may recall, after the band broke up, Kali decided go to solo — and within a relatively short period of time, she developed a reputation for being one of her hometown’s next big artists, as she’s opened for the likes of Madame Gandhi and Kimya Dawson, and has played sets at Echo Park Rising Festival, Mothership Festival and Women Fuck Shit Up Fest.

“Half Lie,” the first single off her soon-to-be released Kristin Kontrol-produced EP Soul Songs, has received to attention from the likes of Stereogum and others, and it shouldn’t be surprising as it’s a decidedly New Wave-like take on noise rock that will remind some listeners of Gothic Tropic,Dum Dum Girls, Dirty Ghosts — but while interestingly enough nodding at Go-Gos and others, complete with an infectious, arena rock hook. And much like “Lost & Bound,” “Half Lie” reveals an artist, who can effortlessly walk a tightrope between a slick studio sheen and a scuzzy punk rock air — without feeling contrived or ridiculous.

Centered around a concept devised by its director Leila Jarman, the recently released video is all about bright, springtime colors and as Kali told The Grey Estates,  “The video for ‘Half Lie’ is all about floral femme with a punk rock edge…it expands on the theme of the song, which is about half truths we hear from others, and the lies we tell ourselves. In the video, we celebrate the journey into new truths, turning them into ceremonies. The visuals depict lush rituals performed by some of my favorite L.A. artists, Madison René Knapp and Kayla Tange, who lead us up into the grand spiritual unveiling at the end.”