L.A. Witch is a Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock trio that has started to receive attention for a ragged, scuzzy, reverb-filled garage rock/punk rock sound that some have compared favorably to the likes of The Black Angels and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and if Kim Deal were inspired by Nirvana among others —  although as you’ll hear on their boozy, bluesy-leaning “Ain’t Comin’ Home,” the band’s sound reminds me more of JOVM mainstay artists The Coathangers, Sharkmuffin and Death Valley Girls; but with a dingy, honky took vibe that subtly nods towards 60s psychedelia. Interestingly, this version was recorded live during their Levitation Festival a couple of years ago, but I think it’ll give the listener a good sense of their live sound, as they will be road testing their new material throughout the rest of the year — and the tour will include two NYC dates, more on that below.

Tour Dates

04.21.17 – Detroit, MI @ UFO Factory

04.22.17 – London, ON @ Call the Office

04.23.17 – Montreal, QB @ L’Esco

04.25.17 – Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory

04.26.17 – New York, NY @ Berlin

05.01.17 – Las Vegas, NV @ Beauty Bar

05.02.17 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Vague Space

05.03.17 – Denver, CO @ Hi Dive

05.04.17 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sister Bar

05.05.17 – Norman, OK @ Opolis

05.06.17 – Austin, TX @ Levitation Presents at Hotel Vegas

05.07.17 – Dallas, TX @ Transit Bike Company

05.09.17 – Indianapolis, IN @ Pioneer

05.10.17 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas

05.11.17 – Iowa City, IA @ Gabe’s

05.12.17 – Milwaukee, WI @ Milwaukee Psych Fest

05.13.17 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar

05.14.17 – Springfield, IL @ Alter Fest

05.16.17 – Amarillo, TX @ Golden Light

05.17.17 – Taos, NM @ Mesa Brewing

05.18.17 – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar

05.19.17 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar

06.02.17 – Nelsonville, OH @ Nelsonville Fest

06.24.17 – Pomona, CA @ Glass House

New Video: JOVM Mainstays and Shoegaze Pioneers The Veldt Return with a Lush Seductive and Moody Record Store Day 7 inch

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the past 12-18 months, you’ve likely come across at least one of a handful of posts featuring the pioneering, Raleigh, NC/NYC-based sheogazer rock quintet The Veldt. Currently comprised of founding members, primary songwriters and identical twin brothers Daniel Chavis (vocals, guitar) and Danny Chavis (guitar) and Martin Levi (drums), along with along with Hayato Nakao (bass) and Frank Olsen (guitar), the band can trace their origins back to the Chapel Hill, NC music scene of the late 80s and early 90s — a scene that included Superchunk, arguably the most commercially successful and best known of the acts from that region, Polvo, Dillon Fence, and others.

With the band’s initial lineup featuring the Chavis Brothers and Levi, along with Joseph “Hue” Boyle (bass) and later David Burris, the members of The Veldt managed to be a rarity as a shoegazer rock band that prominently featured black men in a place and time, in which it was considered rather unusual, if not extremely uncommon — and they hailed from the South. Interestingly enough, the band quickly attained “must-see” status and with the 1992 release of their full-length debut Marigolds, the band saw a rapidly expanding national profile as the members of the band were profiled by MTV as a buzz-worthy act. And as a result, the then-Chapel Hill-based band earned a much more lucrative recording contact with Polygram Records, who in 1994 released their highly-acclaimed Ray Shulman produced sophomore effort Aphrodisiac. Thanks in part to being on a major label and to a pioneering sound that meshed elements of old-school soul, shoegaze, Brit Pop and early 90s alt rock, the band found themselves on the verge of international and commercial success opening for the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, Oasis, Cocteau Twins, Pixies, Fishbone, Corrosion of Conformity and others; however, the members of the shoegazer quintet experienced embittering difficulties and infighting with both their label and their management, who repeatedly told the band that they found them “too difficult to market.” And as a result, the band was dropped from Polygram and subsequently from two other labels.

While going through a series of lineup changes, the band released two albums, Universe Boat and Love At First Hate before officially going on a lengthy hiatus in 1998. Now, here’s where things get rather interesting: Several years later, the Chavis Brothers had resurfaced in New York with a new project Apollo Heights, which began to receive attention locally for a sound that effortlessly meshed soul, trip-hop and electronica with shoegazer rock — and for their Robin Guthrie (of Cocteau Twins)-produced debut effort, White Music for Black People, which featured the band collaborating with Guthrie, Mos Def, Deee- Lite‘s Lady Kier, TV on the Radio‘s Dave Sitek, and Mike Ladd. (Around that time, I remember reading a profile about the Chavis Brothers in the long-defunct New York Press, a publication that a few years later, I wound up briefly writing for, before their demise. )

And although the members of The Veldt have toiled in varying amounts of relative obscurity over the past 20+ years, the Chavis Brothers’ and their bandmates’ work has managed to quietly reverberate, becoming much more influential than what its creators could have ever imagined as members of internationally renowned acts Bloc Party and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek have publicly claimed the band as influencing their own genre defying sound and aesthetic.

Last year may have been arguably one of the bigger years of the band’s history as the members of the recently reformed band released the first batch of new material in almost 20 years, The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation Mixtape, an effort, which revealed a subtle yet noticeable meshing of the early shoegazer sound of The Veldt with the trip-hop and electronic-leaning sound of Apollo Heights as you’d hear on the swooning “Sanctified” and the sultry and moody “In A Quiet Room.” Building upon the buzz of those singles and the EP, The Veldt went on several tours, opening for the likes of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and others, and much like the resurgence of Detroit-based proto-punkers Death, the Chavis Brothers and company firmly reasserted their place within Black musical history and within musical history in general, making a a vital connection between The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cocteau Twins, The Verve, Fishbone, Marvin Gaye, Prince and TV on the Radio among others.

The Raleigh and New York-based band begin 2017 with the “Symmetry”/”Slow Grind” 7 inch vinyl single, which North Carolina-based indie retail store and label Schoolkids Records will be releasing exclusively for Record Store Day. “Symmetry” is a slow-burning Quiet Storm soul meets shimmering and moody shoegaze single in which Danny Chavis’ ethereal crooning placidly floats over a stormy mix of swirling electronics, stuttering beats, a propulsive bass line and shimmering guitar chords — and throughout the song there’s a urgent and plaintive yearning that’s forcefully visceral. The recently released video pairs stock footage from the 1920s, featuring a brooding Flapper-type looking at a mirror and lying down before jelly fish gently undulating in lava lamp-like water take over the screen. We then see two women swimming in perfect symmetry before returning to the video’s initial imagery. And as a result, the video possesses a dream-like logic and vibe.

“Slow Grind” is a swaggering yet dreamy and slow-burning bit of shoegaze featuring staccato bursts of stuttering beats, deep low end, swirling electronics, shimmering guitar chords and distorted vocals to create a sound that evokes the sensation of being submerged in a viscous substance — or being enveloped by sound. The recently released video features a young woman seductively grinding in front of superimposed images of manta rays leaping out of the water and bright, explosions of colors. Certainly with these two releases, and growing attention on the band, I’m looking forward to seeing what else the band will be releasing over the course of this year and onward.

Comprised of Shane Hunter (vocals, guitar), Robin Deione (guitar), Tom Gregory (bass), Mark Rochman (drums) and Charlie Addison (keys), the Leeds, UK-based shoegazer quintet Colour of Spring quickly received praise from the likes of NME and The Line of Best Fit for a sound that has been compared favorably to Wild Nothing and Beach Fossils — although the band’s latest single, the slow-burning and moody “Echoes” off the Leeds-based quintet’s soon-to-be released,  self-titled EP nods at The Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth and others, as well as 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock, thanks in part to its quiet, loud, quiet song structure, and swirling guitar work punctuated with an rousingly anthemic hook. But just underneath the surface is a bittersweet nostalgia that frequently comes about as you get older — and further away from your seemingly simple youth. As the band’s Tom Gregory explains in press notes, “‘Echoes’ is about losing the innocence of youth. As you enter your teenage years, you’re told to grow up and take responsibility and some of the beauty of childhood is gone. We probably spend a lot of time as adults trying to regain that side  just act we lose. ‘Echoes’ is about how deal with this in our funny way.”

 

 

 

 

New Video: The Cinematic and Mournful Visuals for Mark Lanegan Band’s “Beehive”

Mark Lanegan is a Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as the frontman, and founding member of Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees, and for collaborating with an incredibly diverse array of artists and bands throughout his lengthy career including Nirvana‘s Kurt Cobain on an unreleased Lead Belly cover/tribute album recorded before the release of Nevermind. The Ellensburg-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter was also a member of renowned grunge rock All-Star supergroup/side project Mad Season with Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam‘s Mike McCready. After Screaming Trees broke up in 2000, Lanegan joined Queens of the Stone Age and is featured on the band’s last five albums — 2000’s Rated R, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, 2007’s Era Vulgaris and 2013’s . . . Like Clockwork. He’s also collaborated with The Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins and has collaborated with former Belle and Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell on three albums. Additionally, he has contributed or guested on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley-Bird, Creature with the Atom Brain, Moby, Bomb the Bass, Soulsavers, Greg Dulli’s The Twilight Singers, UNKLE and others. And although he’s managed to be rather busy throughout the years, Lanegan has also developed a low-key solo career in which he’s released nine studio albums that have been critically applauded and have seen a fair amount of commercial success.

Lanegan’s 10th full-length effort Gargoyle is slated for release next week through Heavenly Recordings and interestingly enough, Lanegan can trace the origins of the album’s material and sound back to early 2016. At the time, the renowned grunge rocker and singer/songwriter was working on some ideas for material, which could possibly be a new, solo album, when he received an email from a friend and collaborator, the British based musician Rob Marshall, who he had first met several years before when Marshall’s former band Exit Calm had supported Soulsavers, a band that Lanegan had been fronting. The email thanked Lanegan for his participation on an album that Marshall had recorded with his newest project, Humanist while offering to write music for Lanegan to return a favor to the grunge pioneer. As Lanegan recalls in press notes, his response was along the lines of “Hey man, I’m getting ready to make a record, if you’ve got anything? Three days later he sent me 10 things… !”

Early on in the writing process, Lanegan had written “Blue Blue Sea,” a rippling mood peice that he thought and felt would be more fruitful direction for the songs on the album. “It’s almost always how my records start,” the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter explains in press notes. “I let the first couple of songs tell me what the next couple should sound like, and it’s really the same process when I’m writing words. Whatever my first couple of lines are, tell me what the next couple should be. I’ve always built things like that, sort of like making a sculpture I guess.” Within about an hour, Lanegan and written words and recorded vocals for two of the instrumental tracks Marshall had written and recorded at Mount Sion Studios in Kent UK. Interestingly, the music Marshall had written had managed to fit perfectly with the direction Lanegan had been thinking of for some time — an expansion of the Krautrock-inspired electronic sounds and textures of his previous two albums Blues Funeral and Phantom Radio. Eventually Marshall wound up co-writing six of the album’s 10 songs with the remainder of the album being written and produced by Lanegan’s longtime collaborator Alain Johannes at 11AD Studios in West Hollywood.

As the story goes, everything was polished and finished within a month, which has been unusually fast by Lanegan’s recent standards. “I definitely feel like I’m a better songwriter than I was 15 years ago,” Lanegan stays in press notes. “I don’t know if I’m just kidding myself or what, but it’s definitely easier now to make something that is satisfying to me. Maybe I’m just easier on myself these days, but it’s definitely not as painful a process, and therefore I feel I’m better at it now. But part of the way that I stay interested in making music is by collaborating with other people. When I see things through somebody else’s perspective it’s more exciting than if I’m left to my own devices.”

Gargoyle‘s second and latest single “Beehive” pairs Lanegan’s imitable boozy, growling baritone vocals with a bluesy and swaggering production featuring shimmering guitar chords and enormous tweeter and woofer rattling beats, essentially pushing Lanegan’s recent forays into the blues into the 21st Century; but in a way that feels both warmly familiar and yet new.

Directed by Zhang + Kang and produced by Agile Flims, the recently released video for “Beehive” follows two young lovers — two vampires, actually, who are desperately trying to kick their craving for blood. Before presumably deciding to kill themselves, they spend a sad yet beautiful romantic night together — and at the core of the video is a heavy, world-weary and fatalistic ache.

New Audio: The Afghan Whigs Return with a Tribal and Darkly Seductive New Single

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you’d likely be familiar with the Cincinnati, OH-based indie rock act, The Afghan Whigs. Currently comprised of founding members Greg Dulli (guitar, vocals) and John Curley (bass) along with Dave Rosser (guitar), Jon Skibic (guitar), multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson and Patrick Keeler (drums), the Cincinnati-based outfit can trace its origins to when its founding members — Dulli, Curley and Steve Earle (drums) founded the back in 1986, after the breakup of Dulli’s previous band The Black Republicans. As the story goes, Curley introduced Dulli to Rick McCollum (guitar), a frequent jam partner of Curley’s, who had developed a reputation within the Cincinnati scene for his use of effects pedals. With their initial lineup complete, the band went on to write material that Dulli has publicly described as being a cross between a cross between The Band, The Temptations and Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

Although the band has since gone through several lineup changes, a lengthy breakup and a recent and very fruitful reunion, the Cincinnati-based band has the distinction of being within the first batch of bands that Sub Pop Records ever signed outside of the Pacific Northwest, and one of the more highly-regarded and critically applauded bands of the early 90s with 1993’s Gentlemen landing at number 17 on The Village Voice‘s Pazz and Jop critics list and 1996’s Black Love, arguably their most commercially successful effort landed at number 79 on the Billboard Top 200. Interestingly, while being their most commercially successful effort, Black Love was praised for sound that reportedly drew from 1970s Rolling Stones while setting themselves apart from the rock music being released that year.

After their breakup in 2001, the members of the band went on towards other creative pursuits — with Dulli frequently and famously collaborating with Mark Lanegan and others; but after reuniting for a series of festival tours, the band released 2014’s Do To The Beast, which marked both the band’s first proper release in over 16 years and the band’s return to Sub Pop Records. And while being one of that year’s most forceful and seductive albums, the album continued Dulli’s long-held reputation for writing angst and bile-filled lyrics, focusing on bitter, lingering memories of relationships gone sour and on his own long-held obsessions with drug addiction, sexual deviancy, suicidal ideation and bleak, gallows humor. And because most of the lyrics are written and sun from the first person, it gives the material a disturbing and deeply personal air, as though the song’s narrators are confession their darkest, most fucked up secrets, desires and fantasies.

In Spades, the band’s forthcoming album is slated for a May 5, 2017 release through Sub Pop Records and the album, which was produced by the band’s Greg Dulli reportedly finds the band at their most soulful and urgent and while being darkly seductive, emphasizing a pop leaning sensibility. And much like their previously recorded work, the material manages to be veiled. “It’s a spooky record,” notes Dulli. “I like that it’s veiled. It’s not a concept album per se, but as I began to assemble it, I saw an arc and followed it. To me, it’s about memory — in particular, how quickly life and memory can blur together.” Last month, I wrote about In Spades’ first single “Demon In Profile,” a single that evoked life’s uneasily lingering ghosts — the electric tough of a lover’s skin, their smell, their very physical presence, and the sense of loss and confusion that permeates everything once that person is no longer in your life; that hurt and ache are inescapable parts of our lives that makes the necessary process of letting go and moving forward seem ridiculous and impossible; and that worse yet, even when you’ve moved forward, you can’t possibly forget. Drawing more directly from soul — thanks in part to a horn section — the song manages to be evoke Quiet Storm soul-like sexiness with a bold, arena rock friendliness. In Spades’ second and latest single “Arabian Nights” is an enormous, arena rock-friendly song that indirectly nods at Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy and The Who’s Who’s Next and Who Are You — thanks in part to Keeler’s swaggering, tribal-like stomp drum work, propulsive synths and blistering guitar work; but just underneath the stormy and swaggering surface is a vulnerability and sensuality that Dulli evokes through crooned vocals.

 

Perhaps best known as a member of the internationally renowned, Brooklyn based indie rock trio and JOVM mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers, the New Zealand-born, Brooklyn-based bassist Dion Lunadon has had a lengthy music career that traces its origins back to when he was a member of New Zealand-based band, The D4. During a short break in APTBS’ touring schedule, Lunadon had a sudden rush of inspiration that resulted in what he has described as a neurotic impulse to write and record a bunch of songs right there and then — and the end result was his solo debut EP, Com/Broke, an effort, which reportedly drew from the bands that inspired him in his youth, including  Toy LoveThe Gun Club, Gestalt and Supercar.

Lunadon’s highly-anticipated, self-titled, full-length debut is slated for a June 9, 2017 through Agitated Records. And if you had been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that I wrote about the album’s first single “Fire,” a primal and furiously roaring single that draws psych rock and garage rock, revealing that while its creator is approaching middle age, he’s refusing to go quietly into that good night.  The album’s second and latest single “Howl,” continues in a similar vein, meshing punk rock, psych rock and garage punk with a feral howl reminiscent of The Stooges — i.e. “1969” “No Fun” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog” — complete with a forceful, Neanderthal stomp. Certainly in a day and age in which most contemporary music is somewhat safe and packaged for convenient consumption, Lunadon’s solo work is a powerful reminder that rock should be dangerous, rebellious, loud, primal; it should inspire your most base, animal instincts — to howl, stomp, fight, fuck and repeat.