New Video: JOVM Mainstay Evidence Releases Kaleidoscopic and Psychedelic Visuals for “The Factory”

Throughout the past few months, I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer Evidence. Now, as you may recall, the emcee and producer, who was born Michael Taylor Perretta is best known as member of renowned hip-hop act Dilated Peoples with whom he has released four full-length albums — and as a producer, Perretta has worked with Beastie Boys, Linkin Park, Swollen Members, Defari, Planet Asia, and has a co-production credit on on Kanye West’s Grammy-winning, full-length debut The College Dropout.

Perretta’s fourth album Weather or Not was released earlier this year, and the album is the first batch of new material from the Los Angeles-based emcee and producer since the 2014’s The Alchemist-produced Lord Steppingstone. Interestingly a number of singles from the album have been released, including the DJ Premier-produced third single “10,000 Hours,” which featured a swaggering and strutting West Coast gangsta hip-hop meets East Coast boom bap production paired with a criminally unheralded emcee rhyming about the dedication and time he has spent practicing, developing and honing his skills to become one of the very best. The album’s fourth single “Powder Cocaine” continued Evidence’s ongoing collaboration with The Alchemist, who contributed an atmospheric yet soulful production consisting of boom bap beats, warm blasts of bluesy guitar, a chopped up choral vocal sample and a soaring hook, and yet the production managed to be roomy enough to allow Evidence and Slug to trade bars full of diverse metaphors and descriptive symbolism. “Bad Publicity,” Weather or Not’s Nottz-produced fifth single continued in a similar vein as its predecessors as it was centered around a golden era hip-hop production that was roomy enough for  Evidence and Strong Arm Steady‘s gravelly-voiced Krondon to spit fiery, braggadocio-filled bars. 

The album’s latest single is the Twiz the Beat Pro-produced “The Factory,” a track centered around a kaleidoscopic and somewhat ambient production consisting of explosive blasts of scratching, twinkling strings, tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats — and much like its predecessor, the production manages to be roomy enough for one of contemporary hip-hop’s most dexterous emcees displaying an uncanny ability to craft complex rhymes with witty and hilarious punchlines. 

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Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Palace Winter Perform Moody Album Single “Baltimore” at The Village Recording

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the Copenhagen, Denmark-based electro pop duo and JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, and as you may recall the act, which is comprised of Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born, Copenhagen-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager can trace its origins to the individual members of the group having a mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work in a number of different projects. And as a result, the duo were encouraged to start collaborating together. 2015 saw the release of their debut single but the following year was their breakthrough year, as their debut EP Medication and their full-length debut Waiting for the World to Turn were released to critical praise from the likes of The Guardian, NME, The Line of Best Fit, and airplay from KCRW, KEXP, Norway’s P3, Denmark’s P6, as well as by BBC Radio personalities Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft. Adding to a growing profile, the duo have a Hype Machine #1, have opened for Noel Gallagher,and have made appearances across the European festival circuit, including sets at Guy Garvey’s curated Meltdown Festival, Roskilde Festival, Green Man Festival, Sziget Festival, Latitude Festival and Secret Garden Party among others.
Building upon a rapidly growing international profile, Coleman and Hesselager released their sophomore album together Nowadays last month, and album single “Empire” revealed a band that had been subtly expanding upon their sound and songwriting, as the single found the band pairing breezy, melodic, radio friendly pop with much darker thematic concerns — in particular, the loss of innocence and the tough, sobering life lessons of adulthood but also, the recognition of the freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their life. “Come Back (Left Behind)” was loosely inspiredly the major motion picture, The Witch while dealing with themes of grief and yearning. And as the band’s Carl Coleman adds, the song has the duo moving the focus away from the acoustic guitar and finds them employing the use of piano and 12 string electric — and while propulsive and danceable, the song managed to sound as though it were released in 1985. 

“Baltimore,” Nowadays’ latest single is a bit of a return to form for Coleman and Hesselager as the moody track is centered around strummed acoustic guitar, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, and propulsive rhythm section with Coleman’s plaintive vocals. Interestingly, the song delves into feelings of being suffocated by love, followed by remorse, frustration, bitterness and anxiety. 

Recently, the band along with touring members Jacob Haubjerg (guitar) and Jens Bach Laursen (drums) performed “Baltimore,” at The Village Recording, and visually, the live session further evokes the song’s moodiness and overall themes — while giving the viewer a sense of their live set. 

New Video: Wild Moccasins Release Symbolic Performance-based Visuals for Aching New Single “Longtime Listener”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Houston, TX-based indie rock/indie pop act Wild Moccasins, and as you may recall, the act which is led by its founding duo Zahira Gutierrez (vocals, keys) and Cody Swann (guitar, vocals), and features Avery Davis (drums) Nicholas Cody (bass) can trace their origins back to 2007 when its founding duo started writing songs together, about a year into their romantic relationship. And although Wild Moccasins has gone through a number of lineup changes throughout its history, the band initially wrote and recorded indie rock-inspired work centered around dance pop-like guitar lines and tight vocal harmonies; however, with the release of 88 92, the Houston-based quartet had begun to increasingly incorporate synths and other New Wave influences into their work — and that has continued with their recently released Ben H. Allen-produced Look Together.

As the members of the band note, Allen inspired a much different approach to their writing and recording process, and the result is an album that finds the band blending the guitar driven elements of their early work with 80s and 90s synth pop and New Wave; but unlike their previously recorded material, the album thematically, lyrically and emotionally is centered around the the volatility, heartache and confusion of the dissolution of a longtime romantic relationship — in the case, the romantic relationship between Gutierrez and Swann. But along with that, the album focuses on the difficulties of repairing a relationship after a breakup, of fresh starts and shedding past insecurities.

As both Gutierrez and Swann note, the breakup of their romantic relationship and its immediate aftermath were extremely difficult as it occurred as the band was in the middle of a lengthy tour. They would spend the countless hours driving from city to city in the tour van in silence; on stage they’d painfully stare each other down; and they’d exchange exaggerated and embittered he-said-she-saids through songs. Although countless bands with a romantic couple at their center have split up, the former lovers decided to choose a way to reconcile their differences by working towards a common musical goal. Songwriting has been engrained within Gutierrez and Swann’s relationship and while being emotionally vulnerable with a former romantic partner was initially difficult, they also found that it helped clear the air between them. “I think we look back on that time and take some comfort in knowing that we went through that together,” says Swann. “It needed to happen in order for us to have this resolve.”“Yeah, it needed to happen,” Gutierrez adds. “Now, when I sing the songs, I find myself breathing a sigh of relief.”

“No Muse,” Look Together’s second single was a slickly produced, shimmering New Wave-like song with an infectious, arena friendly hook — but underneath the self-assuredness of its performance, the song bristles with the bitter and aching hurt of someone who realizes that they’ve been used, and that they’ve had enough of it all. As Gutierrez explains “‘No Muse’ is about feeling like men use women as muses in the wrong context. A lot of women have had the experience of being taken advantage of or had men in power try to take control of what they do, so this song encourages women to be their own muses. Because of what the song represents to me, I decided it was best for me to direct the video and sought out a female cinematographer (Rachel Bays) to shoot it in order to remove any sort of male gaze. I felt it was important to see the video through the eyes of a woman.”

“Longtime Listener,” Look Together’s latest single while being a mid-tempo ballad continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as its centered around a simmering New Wave-like arrangement and soaring hooks; however, emotionally the song focuses on the overwhelming and confusing push and pull of emotions in the immediate aftermath of a longtime breakup, as well as the lingering ghosts of memories, smells and so on. But much like Fleetwood Mac’s “You Can Go Your Own Way,” the song is a bit of a kiss off — in which the song’s narrator is busy putting on a brave face. And while being an aching ballad on what once was and can’t be again, and a bit of a kiss off, there’s the subtle reminder that there was this amazing connection that the narrator once had that’s become part of a messy but well-lived life — and perhaps just as important, that she will move forward and love again.

Directed by the band’s Zahira Gutierrez and Cody Swann, the video begins with Gutierrez sitting impatiently by the phone before answering it. Her bandmates continually hand her phones that she picks up, answers and hangs up and at her most overwhelmed,  Gutierrez and her similarly dressed bandmates go off to perform the song. It’s surreal but it captures the song’s ache and bitterness.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay San Mei Releases Surreal Performance-Based Visuals for Anthemic New Single “Wonder”

Throughout the course of this site’s history, I’ve written a quite a bit about the Gold Coast, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Emily Hamilton and San Mei, which began as a bedroom recording project but quickly received attention from this site and a number of major media outlets including NME, Indie Shuffle, NYLON and Triple J. Interestingly, Hamilton’s debut EP Necessary found Hamilton incorporating more organic instrumentation, reportedly drawing a bit from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cat Power, and Feist. Essentially, the EP’s material saw Hamilton moving away from the bedroom recorded synth pop that first captured the attention of the blogosphere towards fuzzy yet incredibly self-assured, power chord-based dream pop,

Hamilton met songwriter, producer and musical phenom Oscar Dawson, who has worked with Holy Holy, Alex Lahey, Ali Barter, British India, Robbie Millerand Joyride at BIGSOUND last year, and the pair immediately hit it off. According to Hamilton, taking Dawson on as a producer and collaborator found the duo refining ideas, exploring different soundscapes and laying down the foundation for her — and in turn, San Mei’s — sonic progression. As Hamilton explains in press notes “[Dawson and I] hit it off straight away and it seemed like he understood where I was coming from, even if I had trouble conveying certain ideas in the demos I made at home.”

“Wonder” is the first single since the release of Necessary, and while the single continues along a somewhat similar vein as the EP, it also manages to be a subtle refinement of her sound and songwriting that finds Hamilton creating an anthemic track, centered around a razor sharp, radio friendly hook, fuzzy shoegazer rock-like power chords and propulsive drumming — but interestingly, the song is arguably one of her most earnest songs, as it evokes the swooning, butterflies in the stomach sensation when someone who’s unknown to you captures your attention and you can’t quite pin down why. That unknown person becomes part of a mysterious daydream to you, in which you begin to wonder everything about them — and yet, there’s a part of you that isn’t certain if you want them to become more than just some brief, intoxicating illusion.

Directed by Jennifer Embelton, the recently released video for “Wonder” is centered on performance footage shot in an empty studio with a red background: the video begins with Hamilton getting up from the floor, and strumming the introductory chords before slowly pulling out to reveal Hamilton and her backing band. The video ends with the backing band packing up to go home while Hamilton remains in the studio, alone and in her dreams. 

Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan is a rather unique band — with a unique backstory. Comprised of Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar), the band features one native Swede — Sjöö — while the the other members relocated from South America. And with the release of their furious and incendiary full-length debut Caballo Negro, the Stockholm-based quintet quickly received attention for a signature sound that meshes elements of Latin music, in particular, Latin rhythm, percussion and groove that would have been part of musical and cultural heritage of Serrano, Gonzalez, Amigo and Espiondola while pairing it with the blistering guitar punk of Thee Oh Sees, At the Drive-In and Death from Above 1979.

Slated for a September 7, 2018 release the Stockholm, Sweden-based punk rock act’s highly-anticipated Daniel Bengtson-produced sophomore album Swedish Cobra finds the band capturing their raw and raucous live sound on record — with all five of the band recording live to tape at Bengtson’s Studio Rymden, and with minimal takes and overdubs. As the band’s Michell Serrano says in press notes, “You can hear that on the album. it’s quite raw and very intense.” And while reportedly being the most blistering effort the band has released to date, it’s also interestingly enough the most experimental one as well, as the members of the band’s roles became much more fluid. Additionally, the album finds the Swedish punk rock band expanding their sound through the use of different instrumentation to the usual punk rock arraignments. “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” Serrano explains. “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”

Additionally, the album lyrically reportedly is the most personal while not being the most overly political as it deals with the bandmembers’ everyday reality — and unsurprisingly, each individual member contributed lyrical ideas to the whole. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.

To build up buzz for the new album, Sudakistan has released two singles from Swedish Cobra. First is the furious, jangling and swirling psych punk/surf punk “Whiplash” which is centered around Serrano’s howls, pedal effected guitars and tons of feedback, thunderous drumming, subtle bits of Latin percussion — and in some way, the song reminds me a bit of The Black Angels, complete with a swaggering sense of menace and an expansive song structure. Second is the mid-tempo ballad “Two Steps Back” a track that finds the band employing a 90s grunge rock song structure — alternating quiet, loud, quiet sections with a raise-your-beer-in-the-air-and-shout-along worthy hook, blistering power chords and Latin percussion. And while passionate and urgent, there’s something sobering about the material in a heightened age of nationalism, racism, xenophobia and sexism. Cultural exchange and openness has brought about new takes on the familiar, new modes of thinking, new foods, new words and perhaps more important empathy and understanding. Goddamn it, before we completely head off the rails, we need quite a bit more of that these days.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Rich Aucoin Returns with an Ode to Resilience in Our Dark Times

Throughout the better part of this year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based electronic music artist and indie rock artist Rich Aucoin, and as you’d likely recall, Aucoin has spent time as collaborator and guest musician in his older brother Paul’s band Hylozoists before quickly developing a reputation an an attention grabbing solo artist. In fact, Aucoin’s 2007 debut EP Personal Publication was a concept album conceived and written as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas — and he supported the effort with a cross-Canada tour made entirely by bicycle to raise money for  Childhood Cancer Canada.

After completing the tour to support Personal Publication EP, Aucoin joined his brother’s band and toured with them; but as the story goes, because of a sudden shift from regular and extremely strenuous exercise to virtually no exercise, Aucoin eventually suffered through a debilitating iron deficiency. Once he recuperated, Aucoin went on yet another solo tour in which he ran partial marathons between stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. During both of those early solo tours, Aucoin spent time writing 2011’s full-length debut We’re All Dying to Live, an album that featured over 500 guest musicians, including Sloan‘s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party‘s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band‘s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. Aucoin’s debut was long-listed as a nominee for 2012’s Polaris Music Prize — and the video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” won a Prism Prize in 2013. Building up on a growing profile, the Nova Scotian producer and electronic music artist released his critically applauded Ephemeral back in 2014.

Released earlier this year, Hold EP is Aucoin’s first batch of new, recorded material in about four years, and EP singles like the sprawling and propulsive “Release”, the swooning M83-like “The Middle”  and the jangling guitar pop meets synth pop  “The Fear.” further cement Aucoin’s reputation for crafting infectious and anthemic yet thoughtful pop. The EP’s latest single “The Dream” is a slow-burning and wistful track that pairs the Canadian producer and electronic music artist’s tender falsetto over a production centered around twinkling and plinking keys, bursts of handclaps,  and a propulsive and strutting bass line. And yet, the song manages to evoke something the narrator longs for the deep down, he recognizes he might not be able to fully achieve it; that sometimes you get what you need and not what you want. But there’s a hopefulness that suggests that sometimes just having a dream is necessary to survival. As Aucoin explained in press notes, “‘The Dream’ is a song about the contentment we can feel at an individual level when daydreaming or imagining a different world. It’s not about the achieving of making that world come to reality but looks at the various therapeutic benefits from such an endeavour. Whether it be imagining a time where you are not heartbroken, in an estrangement, or in conflict with the changes in your life, that power to picture yourself beyond the given moment is a useful tool for accepting the way things are and getting to that new spot, ‘The Dream.’”
Directed by Mike Bromley, the recently released video for “The Dream” was filmed in Los Angeles and it follows Aucoin, who plays an aspiring actor, and although he does suffer through some early rejection, he continues to be persistent — and with a smile, no less as he strives for the dream he wants to achieve. 

New Video: Brooklyn’s I Am The Polish Army Releases Symbolic Visuals for the Cathartic Single “Throat”

Currently comprised of founding member Emma DeCorsey (vocals, guitar), Turner Stough (bass) and Eric Kuby (drums), the Brooklyn-based indie rock trio I Am The Polish Army can trace its origins to back to the when DeCorsey first considered the strength of her voice and the purpose behind the music floating around in her head back in 2005. And between those early moments in which DeCorsey was trying to figure out what she should be doing musically and when the band finished its full-length debut My Old Man, the band had gone through several different iterations that failed, her home studio equipment was stolen and she scrapped the original ideas and material for what would be their debut and rewrote the bulk of it. But when she befriended Stough and Kuby, the direction of her life seemed permanently altered.

As the story goes, within three months of their first rehearsal together, the trio was in the studio with acclaimed engineer Charles Burst, who has worked with the likes of Neko Case, Psychic Ills and Crystal Stilts were working on the material that would comprise My Old Man. Driven by a desire to reinvent the material that DeCorsey wrote, the members of the band broke down each song to its essential elements and reshaped them in the mold of bands like Veruca Salt and The Breeders — bands that were heroes to a teenaged DeCorsey. 

Thematically and sonically, its material is meant to walk a careful tightrope between an enormous emotional weight and a redemptive catharsis, and unsurprisingly, the album which features songs that growl, punch, tear and ache draws from some of the harrowing, life-shattering experiences of its creator; in fact, My Old Man’s latest single”Throat” while being a 90s alt rock-inspired power chord ripper, draws from a deeply troubling and unexpected physical violation from someone the narrator trusted and cared about very deeply, focusing on the surreal moment when you’ve recognized that the person you’ve cared about wants to kill you — and that you may have to kill them to survive. Naturally, that particular violation will destroy your sense of security and trust in yourself — after all, you trusted and cared about someone, who tried to do you killed you — and in others. And for the rest of your, you find yourself much more deliberate and careful in your involvements and attachments to others; the fears and uncertainties linger. The song is steeped in the adrenaline, the fear and the weird recollections — in particular, the feel of snow on the narrator’s skin. 

As the band’s Emma DeCorsey writes in a personal statement on the song “‘Throat’ takes place on the early morning of December 21, 2008. I was crazy about a guy who refused to have a physical relationship with me, only over text. We’re having a text/sext moment at about 1:00am and I’m about to call it and go to sleep. At the same exact another sometime rock star I’d been vaguely involved with decides to show up in my life again and insists on coming to visit me in Sunset Park, a neighborhood in Brooklyn that’s pretty far away from the main scene. It was 3:00am and I couldn’t say no, something it took me years to be able to do. Turns out he likes to strangle women. It was snowing. I get frostbite easily. I’m not sure how I got rid of him.” 

Directed by Bon Jane, the recently released video for “Throat” is split between footage of DeCorsey walking around and commuting across the Lower East Side and Williamsburg in a ballroom gown, full of both determined and furious intent and desperation and multiple hands that touch her face and neck in a sensual fashion before getting a bit more aggressive. After watching the video multiple times, it struck me that throughout that DeCorsey was desperately escaping the camera, who was stalking her. 

New Video: Bells Atlas Releases Gorgeously Cinematic Yet Surreal Visuals for “Be Brave”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the Oakland, CA-based soul pop quintet Bells Atlas, and as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of Derek Barber (guitar) Geneva Harrison (drums, percussion, keys) Sandra Lawson-Ndu (vocals, percussion, keys) and Doug Stuart (bass, vocals, keys) specializes in a forward-thinking, kaleidoscopic, lush and difficult to pigeonhole sound that frequently incorporates elements of indie rock, R&B, Afro pop, Afrofuturism, jazz, electro pop and experimental pop. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the Oakland-based act has opened for the likes of Hiatus Kaiyote, Badbadnotgood, Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, W. Kamau Bell, Angelique Kidjo and others, as well as Bermuda Triangle. the side project of Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard. Along with that, they spent 2016 as the touring band for NPR’s Snap Judgement.
“Be Brave” is the first bit of new material from the band in about a year, and  the track reveals a band that has further experimented and expanded upon their sound and songwriting. Centered around incredibly dexterous and percolating bass lines, driving percussion and Lawson-Ndu’s sultry cooing, the track shifts and morphs between time signatures and tone in a sinuous and fluid fashion. And yet the song is underpinned by a resilient, life affirming spirit that seems to say, “When the shit hits the fan, be like a shark. Keep on swimming.” As the band’s Lawson-Ndu explains in press notes, “This song, in a way, is a chant and reminder that we have our own set of super powers and a pool of instincts to lean on. I’ve had instances of loss or fear in my life that hold the kind of weight that, in those exact moments, have felt impossible to navigate out of. At times I’ve felt it’s luck that eventually pulls me out, and in other cases I’ve realized that I’m actually rarely helpless; that just by actively moving through life, I’ve collected survival tools along with a growing sense that I’m not alone. It’s often a wonder to have felt something so strongly, but to eventually make it to the other side and know that you’re ok.”

Directed by San Francisco-based filmmaker Dominic Mercurio, the recently released and cinematic visuals for “Be Brave” follows the band’s Sandra Lawson-Ndu alone in a desert landscape and out of water. After finally succumbing to extreme dehydration, she is abducted and revived by strange, fuzzy Jim Henson-like creatures that perform a ritual to revive her — with a major consequence. And while surreal and almost dreamlike, the video thematically focuses on empathy, sacrifice and communal exchange, reminding the viewer that while things seem incredibly bleak that its those deeply human traits that will win out in the end; they always do.