New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Presets Return with a Trippy Live Concert-Based Video for “Martini”

Throughout this site’s eight year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Sydney, Australia-based electronic music production and artist act The Presets, and as you may recall, the Australian act, which is comprised of Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes can trace their origins back to when they met while studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Hamilton and Moyes quickly became recognized for crafting electronic dance music with a swaggering, arena rock energy and vibe, and unsurprisingly, the duo caught the attention of renowned Australian electro pop and dance music label Modular Recordings, who released their first two EPs and their 2005 debut, Beams.

2008 saw the release of the duo’s critically and commercially applauded sophomore effort Apocalypso, an effort that went Triple Platinum in their native Australia and featured four smash hits, including “My People,” one of their biggest songs. Adding to a massive and breakthrough year, Hamilton and Moyes won 5 ARIA Awards — including Album of the Year, 2 ARIA Artisan Awards, the J Award, the FBI SMAC Award for Album of the Year, and they shared the Songwriter of the Year at 2009’s APRA Awards.

The duo’s third, full-length effort, 2012’s award-nominated Pacifica featured Rolling Stone Australia‘s Song of the Year, “Ghosts,” and was nominated for an ARIA Award, shortlisted for the AMP Award, the J Award and was named the Herald Sun‘s Album of the Year, the Daily Telegraph‘s Album of the Year and the Sydney Morning Herald‘s Electronic Album of the Year. The members of the duo spent the next few years collaborating with a variety of contemporary artists — Hamilton cowrote Flume’s “Say It” and contributed tracks to albums by Flight Facilities, Steve Angello and Meek Mill, while Moyes produced an album by DMA’s  remixed tracks by The Drones and The Jezabels and started an underground techno label Here To Hell.

Late last year, I wrote about “Do What You Want,” the first single off Hi Viz, an album that was released earlier this year, and unsurprisingly, “Do What You Want” further cemented the duo’s reputation for festival bangers with enormous, crowd pleasing hooks and thumping beats — but with a looped glitchy sample that recalled Boys Noize’s “ICH R U,” Tweekend-era The Crystal Method and Come With Us-era The Chemical Brothers. The latest single off the album, “Martini” is swaggering, house music-based club and festival banger, centered around layers of arpeggiated synths and thumping, tweeter and woofr rocking beats; but underneath that swagger is a bit of desperate longing for someone, who’s out of the song narrator’s league — and in a way the song subtly nods at Phil Collins’ “Sussudio.” 

Interestingly, as Julian Hamilton enthusiastically explains in press notes, “Martini was a dancer I used to know. She was everything I wasn’t — cool, clear, strong and with a razor sharp edge I found impossible to resist. In the end, she left me completely undone; a crumbled wreck of a man. ‘But was it worth it?’ I hear you ask . . . Every second.

Each time we perform this song I think of her, so it made sense that Martini’s accompanying video is a film of us playing the song live, directed by our new favourite director and…. well hell I’ll just come out and say it… our new favourite person in the entire world SPOD.” And of course, it should give the viewer the sense of what a Presets live show is like. 

New Audio: Ancestors Release a Shoegazer Take on Doom Metal

Earlier this summer, I wrote about the Los Angeles-based metal/doom metal/psych rock/stoner rock quintet Ancestors, and as you may recall, the band which is currently comprised of founding duo Justin Maranga (guitar, vocals) and Nick Long (bass, vocals) along with Jason Watkins (organ, piano, electric piano, mellotron, vocals), Matt Barks (modular synthesizer, Moog synthesizer, guitar, vocals) and Daniel Pouliot can trace their origins back to 2006 when Maranga, Long, and Brandon Pierce began the band as a trio; Englishman Chico Foley, who had met Pierce shortly after relocating to Los Angeles joined the band. Jason Watkins joined to complete the band’s initial line up. Their full-length debut was released in 2008 through North Atlantic Sound Records in Europe and Tee Pee Records in the States — and the album featured artwork by Arik Roper, who has done artwork of the likes of Sleep, High on Fire, and Earth. Their 2009 sophomore Of Sound Mind was produced by the band and Pete Lyman and featured collaborations with Melvins‘, Unwound and Slug’s David Scott Stone, Black Math Horseman‘s Sera Timms and cellist Ramiro Zapata.

2010 saw the first of several lineup changes as Chico Foley left the band and was replaced by Matt Barks and with a new lineup, they went into the studio to write and record the Kenny Woods-produced Invisible White EP.  And despite, a series of lineup changes, the band’s sound generally draws from prog rock, psych rock, stoner rock and doom metal — but they’ve also at points increasingly incorporated elements of experimental rock and musique concrete among others.  The Los Angeles-based rock quintet’s forthcoming album Suspended In Reflections is slated for release later on this month through Pelagic Records, and from album single “Gone,” the  single and the album itself reportedly reflects a different take on their sound and approach as the single is a slow-burning dirge that manages to bridge shoegaze and doom metal as it features enormous power chords, played through tons of effects pedals, soaring and ethereal synths within an expansive yet moody song structure that nods a bit at prog rock.

“Through A Window,” Suspended In Reflections’ latest single is a slow-burning and brooding dirge centered around shimmering guitar chords, soaring hooks and dramatic drumming — and interestingly enough, the single finds the band leaning heavily towards a mediative and thoughtful shoegazer territory.

With the release of 2016’s debut effort Language, the Brooklyn-based indie rock quartet Hypoluxo, comprised of Samuel Jacob Cogen (vocals, guitar), Cameron Riordan (guitar), Eric Jaso (bass) and Marco Hector Ocampo (drums), have  received attention for a sound and songwriting approach that possesses elements of shoegaze, indie rock and dream pop — but with rapidly changing time signatures. Their sophomore album Running on a Fence is slated for a September 21, 2018 release through Broken Circles Records, and the album reportedly reveals a band that has expanded upon their sound while retaining the infectious hooks and shimmering yet anachronistic quality that has won them attention — and as you may recall, the album’s first single was The Smiths and The Psychedelic Furs like “Kentucky Smooth,” which possessed a wistful sense of regret at its core.

The album’s second and latest single “Huckleberry” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as its centered around shimmering guitar chords and propulsive drumming; however, the band’s latest single manages to draw from classic 80s New Wave, complete with pop-leaning hooks — but while avoiding soulless mimicry; in fact, emotionally speaking, the song expresses frustration, uncertainty and regret simultaneously.

 

New Video: Jenn Champion’s Whimsical Rival Crew Dance Off

Born Jennifer Hays, the Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jenn Champion grew up in Tucson, AZ, where in the mid 90s, she worked at a local pizza shop with future bandmates Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke. In 1997 the trio moved to Olympia, WA for about a year, before settling in Seattle and forming Hays’ first band Carissa’s Wierd. Although they only released three albums before splitting up in 2003, the band had a cult following that has resulted in the release of three compilation albums of their work, including 2010’s They’ll Only Miss You When You’re Gone: Songs 1996-2003, all of which have ben released through Hardly Art Records.

Since the breakup of Carissa’s Wierd, Champion has focused on several acclaimed solo projects including, the sparse, guitar and vocals-based pop project S. And with S she has released four albums, including 2010’s I’m Not As Good At It As You and 2014’s Chris Walla-produced Cool Choices. Critics and fans have applauded her open-hearted lyrics, technical skill and willingness to eschew conventions — and perhaps more important for writing sad songs meant to be cried to (or should I say be cried with?).  Interestingly, the B side of Champion’s last S album found her moving towards a more electronic-based sound; however, her single “No One” found Champion fully embracing electronics.  “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” Champion says in press notes. While she’d initially intended to follow Cool Choices with “a rock record – guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” plans changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.”

After the release of “No One,” Champion’s publishers partnered her with Brian Fennell, an electronic music artist, songwriter and producer best known as SYML and the pair co-wrote “Leave Like That,” which was featured on SYML‘s Hurt For Me EP. Champion and Fennell hit it off so well that after Champion had written the demos for her recently released full-length Single Rider, she enlisted Fennell as a producer. Fennell agreed and they spent the next five months working on and refining the material on Single Rider. As Champion recalls, “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been,” and as a result the material evolved into a slickly produced, anthemic dance floor friendly album; however, the new album reportedly finds Champion maintaining the earnest emotionality and vulnerability that has won her attention but this time, the album’s material finds the acclaimed Seattle-based singer/songwriter imploring the listener to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance heartache, outrage and disappointment away, for a little bit at least. And goddamn it, sometimes strobe light, thumping bass and shimmering synths are so absolutely necessary to your basic survival.

Single Rider‘s latest single “Time To Regulate” is a slickly produced, sultry and propulsive bit of dance pop centered around layers of shimmering, arpeggiated synths, cowbell-led percussion, thumping beats and an anthemic hook that reminds me of Soft Metals‘ Lenses, Cut Copy‘s In Ghost Colours, of 80s synth soul and Giorgio Moroder; but underneath the slick production, thumping beats and razor sharp hooks, there’s a desperate person trying to put on a brave face on a daily basis — with the acknowledgment that sometimes just being can be difficult in itself, and that adds a triumphant, “well, fuck man, keep it going  as best as you can” vibe to the shimmering proceedings.

Directed by  Rhea Bozzacchi, the recently released video for “Time to Regulate” is a whimsical and joyous back alley dance off battle royal between two rival crews, one headed by Jenn Champion of course — with the end result being that the two rivals dance together as one fun-loving unit. Underneath the whimsy though is a series of imagery in which a marginalized group bands together for camaraderie and empowerment. 

New Video: Phantastic Ferniture Release Whimsical Visuals for “Dark Corner Dance Floor”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Sydney, Australia-based band Phantasmic Ferniture, the garage rock/guitar pop side project (of sorts) of acclaimed singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin and two of her closest and dearest friends, Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan K. Brennan. And as the story goes, the band can trace their origins to a birthday gathering at a Sydney bar to celebrate Jacklin’s 24th birthday. At some point, a group hug had manifested itself with all ten of the group’s participants drunkenly promising to start a band together. “Only four of us remembered,” Hughes recalls. The band’s core and founding members bonded over a mutual love and appreciation for fern-related puns and leisurewear, and they would meet up whenever their individual schedules would allow, writing songs and playing smatterings of live dates to an increasingly devoted audience.

Eventually, Jacklin, Hughes and Brennan decided that Phantastic Ferniture wasn’t a side project, and they should focus on writing and recording an album together, centered around the fact that the band would be a lot more spontaneous and less technical than their individual pursuits. “That was the fun part,” Jacklin says in press notes. “Ryan never played drums in bands, Liz had never been a lead guitarist, Tom didn’t play bass and I’d never just sung before.” Hughes adds “We wanted a low level of expertise, because a lot of good music comes from people whose passion exceeds their skill.”

Now, as you may recall, the band’s self-titled full-length debut was released last month through Transgressive Records, and the album finds the band adopting their mantra of not overthinking and focusing on the urgency of the moment as the basis of the writing and recording sessions that produced it — but underpinned with a sense of whimsy. The album’s second single “Gap Year” was a 90s alt rock-inspired track that recalled  PJ Harvey while the album’s third single “Bad Timing” was a bit of rollocking indie rock with a cinematic sweep. The fourth and latest single off the Australian indie rock act’s debut “Dark Corner Dance Floor” is centered around a shuffling disco-like bass line, shimmering guitar chords and soaring, anthemic hooks making it one of the more danceable songs on the album although its underpinned by love, awe and disappointment. 
Co-directed by Nick Mckk and Phantasmic Ferniture, the recently released video for “Dark Corner Dance Floor” continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with Mckk while featuring the band’s Jacklin and Hughes dressed up and wandering the streets of Sydney in a way that nods at David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s “Dancing in the Street” — but with a charming goofiness. As Jaclkin and Hughes explain in press notes, ” When you’re a kid from out of the city you think Darling Harbour is the essence of Sydney. The aquarium, the Ferris wheel, the IMAX theatre. You imagine when you finally make it to the big smoke you’ll spend your weekends falling in love under the lights of the high rises. Turns out if you move to Sydney you’ll probably never go there. We wanted to capture that feeling we had when we were two starry eyed teens imagining a fake city life.”

New Video: The Lysergic Sounds and Visuals of Jesse and the Dandelions’ “Give Up The Gold”

Jesse and the Dandelions are an Edmonton, Alberta, Canada-based indie rock act comprised of Jesse Northey, Conner Ellinger, Daniel Sedmark, Travis Sargent and Dean Kheroufi, and “Give Up The Gold,” the album title track and latest single off their forthcoming album Give Up The Gold is a lysergic-tinged dream centered around distorted boom-bap-like breakbeats, shimmering guitar fed through delay and other effect pedals and arpeggiated Wurlitzer chords — and the result is a song that has the a retro-futrustic vibe that recalls JOVM mainstays Pavo Pavo and Drakkar Nowhere; but as the band’s frontman and songwriter Jesse Northey says in press notes, the song found him exercising an active restraint while including a few lyrical double entendres.  

Consisting of cinematography by Truthful Works Films’ Dylan Howard and glitch art by Parker Theissen, the recently released video features the band performing in an empty studio but at points, the screen goes into a the sort of glitchy feedback and noise you’d expect from warped and old VHS tape, which further adds to the psychedelic vibes.

New Video: Introducing the Atmospheric and Brooding Sounds of Stockholm’s Sweden

Mark Ephraim is a Detroit, MI-born, Stockholm, Sweden-based producer, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and the creative mastermind behind post-punk project BadSkum, a project that features Ephraim collaborating with a rotating cast of local musicians, which when asked, Ephraim says “I stopped keeping anyone in a band with me too long because they always end up dying or plotting to kick me out.” Interestingly enough, the project can trace its origins to Ephraim relocating to Sweden after spending 16 years in New York as a producer and artist, developing his sound.

Ephraim’s latest single “Super Moon” is a slow-burning and atmospheric track that recalls Forget Yourself, Uninvited, Like the Clouds and Untitled #23-era The Church, as its centered around looping, shimmering guitar chords, and a propulsive yet somewhat easygoing backbeat and Ephraim’s crooning vocals.

Shot, directed and edited by Stellan Von Reybekiel, the recently released video was shot on an old VHS camcorder using an old tape that had old Friends taped on it; in fact, you could see a brief glimpse of Ross a the end. As Ephraim says of the video, “style plays a big part in the visual aspect of BadSkum. Every video is a bit like a comment on my past travels of experiences.” For “Turnstile Lovers,” he wore a Sudanese high school uniform he picked up from a friend who lived in Khartoum, and a handmade leopard track suit from Amman Jordan for “Proud Mary.” In this video, the Detroit-born, Stockholm-based producer, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist wore a sale rack Century 21 suit he had purchased to attend the Grammys, after receiving a nod for this work on Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP. Throughout the video, we see Ephraim preening and getting himself together and brooding over grainy and shaky VHS tape — and it manages to add to the song’s eerie air. 

New Video: Baltimore’s Super City Releases Creepy Visuals for Bombastic Arena Rocker “Sanctuary”

Baltimore, MD-based alt rock/indie rock quintet Super City, which is comprised of Dan Ryan (lead vocals, guitar) Greg Wellham, (lead vocals guitar), Brian Brunsman (bass, vocals), Jon Birkholz (guitar, keys, vocals), and Ian Viera (drums, vocals) has developed a reputation for a hook-laden sound that draws from heavy rock and prog rock — but with a pop-leaning sensibility; in fact, “Sanctuary,” the album title track off their forthcoming Sanctuary recalls the arena rock bombast of Muse and Rush, as well as Milemarker as the track is centered around arpeggiated synths, explosive, power chords and an uncanny melodic sense.

Directed by Tyler W. Davis, the recently released video for “Sanctuary” draws a subtle influence from the legendary video for Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” as its shot in a similar murky light while focusing on the members of the Baltimore-based act performing in a room full of what appears to be cult members dressed in the same outfit. Adding to the video’s overall creepy vibe is the mathematical preciseness of the choreography throughout.

 

Mike Simonetti is a New Jersey-born and-based electronic music artist, producer, DJ and record label head, who’s perhaps known for a seven year stint as the owner of renowned indie electronic label Italians Do It Better Records — and that period may arguably have been one of the most prolific periods of his creative life, as his music was featured in several films, TV commercials and fashion shows, along with the release of an album or two. Since leaving Italians Do It Better, Simonetti has started another cult-favorite label 2MR and a critically acclaimed synth pop duo Pale Blue; however, his forthcoming album Solipsism (Collected Works 2006 – 2013), which is slated for a September 18, 2018 release through his own 2MR Records, finds the New Jersey-born and-based electronic music artist, producer and label head looking band on his work, which at the time was influenced by AC/DC, Judas Priest, Rockets, Supermax and underground Italian producer Piero Umiliani among others — although the album’s first single “Illusions” sounds as though it were influenced by John Carpenter soundtracks and Giorgio Moroder, complete with arpeggiated analog synths and moodily cinematic vibes.