JOVM pays tribute to David Bowie on what would have been his 72nd birthday.
Fronted by Nigerian-born vocalist Eno Williams and featuring Alfred Kari Bannerman (guitar), Anselmo Netto (percussion), Jose Joyette (drums), Derrick McIntyre (bass), Tony Hayden (trombone, synth), Scott Baylis (trumpet, synth) and Max Grunhard (sax, synth), the London-based act Ibibio Sound Machine through the release of their first two albums 2014’s self-titled album and 2017’s Uyai has received attention both nationally and internationally for a sound that draws influence from golden era West African funk and disco, and contemporary post-punk and electro pop.
The London-based act’s third, full-length album Doko Mien is slated for a March 22, 2019 release through Merge Records, and the album which derives its name from the Ibibio phase that translates into English as “tell me,” reportedly finds the act crafting a sonic world of entrancing specificity and comforting universality, essentially blurring the lines separating cultures, between nature and technology, between joy and pain, between tradition and the future.
Doko Mien’s latest single, album title track “Doko Mien,” is centered around a glimmering and mind-bending production featuring 80s synth funk meets disco-like beats, arpeggiated synths, African polyrhythm, a sinuous bass line and pizzicato guitar and an explosive horn arrangement. Sonically, the song strikes me as a wild, genre-bending amalgamation of I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan, Prince, Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” Chicago house and Fela Kuti — and adding to the globalist vibes, Williams soulfully sings lyrics in both English and Ibibio, the Nigerian dialect from which the London-based act derives its name. Simply put, the track is a club banger with an infectious, jubilant hook.
Swindle is an acclaimed London-born and based-producer, who can trace the origins of his own musical career to when he built his first studio in his bedroom when he was 14. Excluded from school for having “way too much energy,” his blues guitarist father guided and mentored him by teaching him guitar. His father’s record collection, comprised of soul, funk, and jazz was vital inspiration for his full-length album Love Live The Jazz, which was released on Mala’s Deep Medi Musik back in 2013. His follow up, 2015’s Peace, Love & Music was written and recorded in studio sessions across the world and with an explosive live show, further cemented his growing reputation for being a singular artist, with a unique scope and ambition.
Since the release of his sophomore effort, Swindle has done production work for a number of artists including Kojey Radical, Joel Culpepper, D Double E, Mahalia, and others. And interestingly enough, his soon-to-be released third album No More Normal, the acclaimed British producer and guitarist working with an All-Star cast of some of the UK’s best emcees including the aforementioned Kojey Radical and D Double E, along with Ghetts and P Money; vocalists including Etta Bond, Eva Lazarus, Daley and Kiko Bun; and musicians including Yussef Dayes, Nubya Garcia and Riot Jazz in a wildly genre-defying fashion that draws from grime, dubstep, jazz, P-funk and others — sometimes incorporating all of that into one song. “No More Normal is the idea of us doing our thing, our way, with no rules or limitations,” Swindle explains in press notes. “It is jazz influenced as much as it is grime influenced. It’s London influenced as much as it is LA influenced. I can work with D Double E and Nubya Garcia, these records are my imagination brought to life in musical form.”
“Coming Home,” which features Kojey Radical is a perfect example of the British producer’s challenging yet paradoxically accessible approach as its centered around a production featuring shuffling beats, a regal and old-timey jazz horn arrangement, blasts of bluesy guitar and wobbling bass synth to create a sound that’s mischievously anachronistic, self-assured and unlike anything you’ll hear on mainstream hip-hop radio. Kojey Radical contributes some incredible and profound verses about gaining a new wisdom and perspective that puts you a world apart from your old friends and your old neighborhood –and that it’s necessary and should be celebrated. But it’s also a celebration of achieving hard-fought, hard-dreamt dreams against some incredible odds — and with a helluva lot of naysayers.
Directed by Olivia Rose, the recently released video seems to have been shot in a series of extended long takes. And while gorgeously shot and symbolic, the portrayal of black men within the video reveals both our beauty and complexity, showing us to be kings and poets, as well as entertainers.
Comprised of founding duo Jocke Åhlund and Frans Johansson along with Frans Johansson and Martin Ehrencrona, the Stockholm Sweden-based indie rock act Les Big Byrd features a collection of their hometown’s most accomplished indie musicians. Åhlund co-founded cult Teddybears with his brother Klas in 1991. Åhlund went on to play guitar in Caesars — and formed Smile, with Peter, Björn and John’s Björn Yttling. And in that insanely busy period, Åhlund managed to find time to write for and produce the legendary Giorgio Moroder and renowned Swedish pop artist Robyn. Johansson, meanwhile, was a bassist in Swedish Grammy Award-winning act Fireside since the early nineties and worked as a touring bassist with The Soundtrack of Our Lives.
As the story goes, by 2011 Åhlund and Johansson had become increasingly disillusioned with their primary gigs and they began to collaborate with each other, frequently bouncing musical ideas off one another; the band’s founding duo quickly recruited two fellow grizzled scene vets, keyboardist Martin ‘Konie’ Ehrencrona and Caesars drummer Nino Keller to finalize the band’s lineup.
The band’s debut, 2014’s Back to Bagarmossen EP was an atmospheric, guitar driven effort that found the quartet receiving attention from Swedish national TV. Interestingly, with a growing national profile. the members of Les Big Byrd ran into The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe at a local record store, and after hitting it off with him, the band headed to Newcombe’s Berlin-based studio to jam with him — and the end result was a handful of tracks which eventually appeared on their critically applauded Åhlund-produced full-length debut, They Worshipped Cats, an album that was a decided left turn into trippy space rock.
In the winter of 2015, 18 months after the release of They Worshipped Cats, Åhlund was looking forward to working on new material; however, unlike their debut, he was determined to bring in an outside producer to allow him to focus just on the songwriting and playing. With much of their material drawing heavily from psych rock and drone, while retaining a pop sensibility, the band recruited Spacemen 3‘s Sonic Boom (a.k.a.Pete Kember) to produce the album as the band loved his work on MGMT‘s 2010 sophomore album Congratulations. The initial sessions with Kember quickly went awry; Kember clashed with Newcombe, who also headed to Sweden to work on some ideas for the record with the band — and Åhlund eventually found himself taking up the production role, he didn’t want and wasn’t seeking.
Burned out by the experience, the band shelved the second album for a while. “I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed to get some distance from it,” Åhlund says in press notes. “It was only after a while that I was able to go back and realise that there was a really good album in there.” The members of Les Big Byrd spent the bulk of last year remaking and re-imaging the material in their own image — with Kember and Newcombe’s contributions being limited. Recorded between two Stockholm studios — Åhlund’s own and Ehrencrona’s Studio Cobra — the band’s sophomore album Iran Iraq IKEA derives its title from a slogan that Åhlund’s saw printed on a tie while in Berlin years earlier and wanted to use for years; in fact, Åhlund felt that it suited the album, “because it gave it all some kind of subtly poetic intrigue.” However, the album’s politics — if you really want to call it that — are rooted within the personal, As Åhlund says in press notes, “It’s about classic topics like love and failure. And about being older and feeling like you’ve pissed your life away, It’s about regrets and wishing you’d done things another way,”
The band’s Åhlund takes up production duties again, but with the admission that maybe it was something he never really wanted to give up — and sonically speaking, the band reportedly have reinvented themselves and their sound but while retaining elements of the sound and approach that first won them national and international attention. “I still love my krautrock, and space rock, and experimental, improvisational stuff” says Åhlund. “But I also have a strong love for psychedelic sixties pop music, and I love reverb-drenched guitar with a lot of tremolo on it. All of those things make it on to Iran Iraq IKEA, but the lines are blurred – there’s a lot of electronics, and you can’t always tell where each individual sound is coming from. Hopefully it’s suggestive, a little bit uncertain and unpredictable, at least that’s what I wanted.”
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’d recall that Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio Tapetown Studios in partnership with Sound of Aarhus have been inviting national, regional and internationally recognized touring bands to come into their studios for a live session, which they film and distribute through all of your favorite social media sites. So far they’ve inited British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek, Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey, the Bay Area-based JOVM mainstay Tim Cohen and his The Fresh & Onlys, renowned British psych rockers The Telescopes, Malmo, Sweden-based punk rock act Sista Bossen, Copenhagen, Denmark-based indie rock quartet ONBC, and up-and-coming, Los Angeles-based post punk rock act Moaning. Recently, the members of Les Big Byrd stopped by Tapetown Studios to perform the bittersweet lament “A Little More Numb.”
Over the past handful of years of this site’s almost nine-year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically acclaimed indie pop act Pavo Pavo. And as you may recall, the band, which derives […]
Lily & Madeleine are an Indianapolis, IN-based folk pop duo, consisting of siblings Lily and Madeline Jurkiewicz. Interestingly, the act can trace its origins to when the Jurkiewicz Sisters began singing together while in high school, uploading home videos of various cover songs to YouTube. Those videos catgut the attention of Bloomington, IN-based producer Paul Mahern, who invited the sisters into his studio to record what would become their debut EP, 2013’s The Weight of the Globe when their class schedule permitted. Kenny Childers (Gentleman Caller) assisted by co-writing the material off the EP with the sisters; but it was video of the sisters singing in Mahern’s studio reached the front page of news aggregator Reddit — and as a result, Sufjan Stevens signed the Jurkiewicz Sisters to his label Asthmatic Kitty Records.
Adding to a growing profile, John Mellencamp asked the Jurkiewicz Sisters to contribute guest vocals to the soundtrack of his musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. After playing some of their first sold out shows in their hometown, they made their national TV debut on CBS This Morning to promote their self-titled, full-length debut, which was released in February 2013. The album was praised from a number of major media outlets, including The New York Times, which praised the album for their extraordinary sibling vocal blend, “deep and seamless and relaxed.” Since then the Indianapolis-based sibling folk pop duo have released two more albums — 2014’s Fumes, which was released through Asthmatic Kitty and 2016’s Keep It Together, which was released through New West Records.
The Jerkiewicz Sisters kicked off this year with the inclusion of “Just Do It” on the first Spotify New Music Friday playlist of 2019 and the track, which was co-produced by Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuck, who worked on Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour pairs the Lily and Madeleine’s gorgeous and effortless harmonizing with a shimmering dance pop-like production centered around a sinuous bass line, twinkling keys, hand claps and fluttering electronics; but at its core, the song not only talks about taking chances, it talks of confidently coming of age as a woman — and demanding what you need and want from yourself and others.
With the release of their self-titled, full-length debut the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock act Warbly Jets, comprised of Samuel Shea, Julien O’neill, and Dan Gerbang quickly emerged into the national and international scene; in fact, their critically applauded effort found the band opening for Liam Gallagher and making three separate world tours to support it.
After a whirlwind year, the members of the Los Angeles-based indie rock trio returned to the studio to write and record the material that would eventually comprise their self-recorded, self-produced, recently released EP, Propaganda. As the band’s frontman Samuel Shea says about the EP in press notes, “On this new collection of songs, we made an effort to set no particular stylistic boundaries. I believe it’s extremely important to make drastic differences as you transition through phases. That was something that Julien [O’neill] and I talked about from the conception of this band. I hope you always hear what you’re not expecting when you listen to a new release from us.”
Thematically speaking, the material explores our modern, globalized, algorithm-ruled, data-based society, where the lines between what’s public and private are frequently blurred beyond recognization — and where the hive mind masquerades as marketable individualism with Big Brother being welcomed with open arms in the name of convenience. And as a result, we should constantly ask ourselves a few questions: what’s human connection? How easily are we (and our lives, ideas and souls) bought and sold? Can we cut through the noise and bullshit? Does anyone care? Does music fit into it at all? As the band’s multi-instrumentalist Julien O’neill adds “‘Propaganda’ is a term as much as it’s a cultural ethos that’s been widely accepted. Anything from advertisement to self-aggrandizement qualifies.From social media, push notifications, targeted ads—we’ve openly elected to carry around miniature billboards, playing our part under the promising guise of a sense of ‘connection.’ We feel empty without it.”
Building upon last year’s success, Propaganda’s latest single “Alive” was featured in the opening scene of Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4. But in terms of this site, the track finds the band drawing from classic rock, psych rock, and Brit Pop — or in other words: enormous power chords fed through distortion pedals, rousingly anthemic hooks and pummeling drums delivered with the swaggering self-assuredness of road-tested old pros. Directed by Steven Johnson, the recently released video employs a relatively simple concept — the band performing the song in the studio with some trippy special effects.
Nick van Hofwegen is a Southern Holland-born, London-based visual artist and electronic music artist and producer, best known as Young & Sick. Initially attempting the traditional route of art through design school, the Dutch-born van Hofwegen found its cookie-cutter leanings discouraging, and it led him to drop out after completing his first year. He began working at a car parts factory in rural Holland and quit his job, eventually moving to London. While in London, his friend Mark, the frontman of internationally recognized band Foster the People, introduced him to comedian Andy Dick, who came across some of his visual art and championed it. Additionally, Mark asked van Hofwegen to do the artwork for his band’s 2011 debut Torches.
Although the Southern Holland-born, London-based visual artist, electronic music artist and producer released a full-length album back in 2014, last year was a breakthrough year for him. Last January saw the release of his Ojai EP, an attention-grabbing effort that was a reintroduction to van Hofwegen’s sound and aesthetic. Adding to a growing profile, van Hofwegen was profiled in NYLON — and EP title track “Ojai” was featured in an ad campaign for Apple Watch. van Hofwegen followed Ojai EP with the release of the No Static EP, which received praise coverage from The Fader and Variety. Oh, and before I forget, van Hofwegen was chosen to cover Passion Pit’s “Sleepyhead” for Neon Gold Records‘ 10 Year Anniversary compilation.
Live the Dutch-born, London-based visual artist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer played a run of critically applauded SXSW sets, including Neon Gold’s Neon Golden showcase. He played his first Stateside headlining shows in over 4 years with a pair of Los Angeles and NYC dates that featured an interactive multimedia experience. As an artist, van Hofwegen had his first ever fine art gallery show last August, which featured a series of his original visual and sculptural pieces — and he designed the album art for Maroon 5‘s Overexposed, Mikky Ekko’s “Kids,” as well as for his work.
Building upon a breakthrough 2018, van Hofwegen will be releasing a new EP that’s slated for a spring release through Neon Gold Records/B3SCI Records. The EP’s first single “Bitter End” manages to sound indebted to Teddy Riley-era New Jack Swing, classic Chicago house and C+C Music Factory as the track is centered by a production that features tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, twinkling synths, soulful vocals and rousingly anthemic hooks. Simply put, it’s a club banger that manages radio friendly accessibility, complete with a “you got this, man” air. Interestingly, as van Hofwegen explains “‘Bitter End’ is a celebration of seeing things through completely. It’s looking back at a pretty wild year of countless obstacles and turbulent skies. Through the eyes of an unstoppable manic.”
van Hofwegen will be opening for The Knocks during their 2019 North American tour during the winter. The tour will include a February 23, 2019 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Check out the tour dates below. Also tickets are on sale here.
Jan 24 // Vancouver, CA @ Fortune Sound Club
Jan 25 // Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
Jan 29 // Chico, CA @ Senator Theatre
Jan 31 // Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
Feb 1 // San Luis Obispo, CA @ The Fremont Theatre
Feb 2 // Los Angeles, CA @ The Novo
Feb 5 // Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf
Feb 6 // Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
Feb 8 // Dallas, TX @ Dada Dallas
Feb 9 // Austin, TX @ Historic Scoot Inn
Feb 10 // Houston, TX @ Bronze Peacock Room
Feb 12 // St. Louis, MO @ The Ready Room
Feb 14 // Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall
Feb 15 // Columbus, OH @ A&R Music Bar
Feb 16 // Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
Feb 17 // Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Feb 20 // Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
Feb 21 // Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
Feb 23 // Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
With the release of “Blue” and “Arc” off his forthcoming EP try to be okay, slated for a February 15, 2019 release through Akira Records, the up-and-coming Brisbane, Australia-born singer/songwriter and producer Yoste (pronounced like ‘lost’) quickly received attention across the blogosphere for dreamy and minimalist electro pop. “Chihiro,” the Brisbane-born singer/songwriter and producer’s latest single will further cement his growing reputation for crafting dreamy, minimalist electro pop with the track being centered around shimmering synths, strummed acoustic guitar, shuffling and percussive beats — and a breezy hook. The track evokes a gentle and joyful reverie through nature; of being lost within your own sense of wonder.
“This was the first song I wrote for Yoste. It wasn’t all that long ago and yet it feels as if it was. I wanted to keep it very simple, almost bare,” the Brisbane-born singer/songwriter and producer explains. “The structure is unconventional. There is a single melody, only two verses and no real chorus. I wanted the vocals to be almost childlike in their melody and sound, which largely stemmed from the ethereal nature of the instrumentation. Thematically it was about trying to capture a feeling of wonder, of being lost in a good way. I wanted it to feel the way Hayao Miyazaki films feel, hence the name Chihiro.”
Over the past couple of years of this site’s almost nine-year history, i’ve written quite a bit about the Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Maarten Devoldere, best known as the frontman of two critically applauded, internationally recognized acts Balthazar and JOVM mainstays Warhaus. Now, as you may recall, Warhaus is a sonic departure from Devoldere’s work with Balthazar, as the project’s sound was an atmospheric, jazz-inspired art rock the brought to mind The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, and Leonard Cohen — all while paired with Devoldere’s urbane, decadent, novelistic lyrics.
While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a remote retreat in Kyrgyzstan, his Balthazar songwriting partner, co-frontman and longtime friend Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, holing himself in the studio, where he indulged his love of old-school R&B, eventually releasing a solo album as J. Bernardt. During Balthazar’s hiatus, the band’s songwriting duo found the ability to indulge their whims and follow their creative muses in different directions — while receiving boy commercial and critical success to be liberating. But it also created an undeniable urge between the two to write together again, propelled by a broader artistic horizon and their mutual respect for real other’s work.
When the members of Balthazar reconvened, they did so without any particular plan, just a desire to better their previously released work and to further the band’s story. Interestingly, the duo of Devoldere and Deprez agreed that the material should have an overall less serious, less melancholy feel, leaning towards a looser, refreshed sound — while retaining the hook driven quality that they’ve long been known for. And the end result is the band’s forthcoming full-length Fever, which is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Play It Again Sam Records. Interestingly, album title track and first single “Fever” was a slinky and sultry track, centered around a strutting bass riff, stomping percussion, a swooping string motif, a sinuous hook, a twinkling bridge and Devoldere’s plaintive baritone. Interestingly, the single finds the band crafting swaggering and infectious pop that’s accessible, carefree, and flirty. “Entertainment,” Fever‘s second single continued in a similar vein as its predecessor, as it was upbeat, playful and careful but centered around a swaggering and strutting vibe and an anthemic hook — and while while nodding at The Rolling Stones‘ “Sympathy for the Devil, the Jinte Deprez-led song features some Afro pop-like polyrhythmic percussion. “I’m Never Gonna Let You Down Again,” Fever‘s third and latest single is a slow-burning, synth-led Quiet Storm R&B-inspired song led by Jinte Deprez that sonically and thematically reminds me of Milagres’ “IDNYL” and classic Hall and Oates. As Deprez explains in press notes, “I’m Never Gonna Let You Down Again’ is a breakup song with a twist, a groovy soul ode with a synthesizer, a chorus with a Bee Gee touch. It’s shaking it off, wherever it stuck.” Admittedly, Balthazar’s forthcoming album is something I’m looking very forward to; but perhaps more important, from the album’s first three singles, the band reminds listeners familiar with their sound that they’ve always had an uncompromisingly intellectual band with an accessible approach — all while possessing one of the most unique aesthetics I’ve come across in some time.