Tag: Angelique Kidjo

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.

Advertisements

New Video: New JOVM Mainstay Miles Francis Returns with a Tender Meditation on Love

Last week, Miles Francis, released his highly anticipated debut EP, Swimmers and as you may know, the EP finds the 26 year-old, New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who has had stints as a member of Superhuman Happiness, and Antibalas, fronting Afrobeat/Afropop collective EMEFE, as well as collaborating with an impressive array of artists including Mark Ronson, Sharon Jones, Amber Mark, Angelique Kidjo, Allen Toussaint, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Arcade Fire’s Will Butler and others, stepping out on his own. 

Written in the back of our vans and various hotel rooms while on the road and then recorded in his basement studio, the material reportedly captures the mood and vibe of someone in their early to mid 20s figuring out themselves, the extremely complicated and ambivalent world they’re confronting as an adult, how they fit into that world, their purpose and the meaning of their own lives. As Miles Francis explains in press notes, “These five songs captured a raw time for me, when life seemed to be coming to a head. I made an effort not to touch or edit them too much once I had recorded them. I wanted to keep that intimacy in there,” he says. Interestingly, the EP’s first official single “Take It” featured a swaggering and self-assured arrangement featuring arpeggiated synths, a sinuous, funky bass line, boom bap-like drumming and an incredibly infectious hook; but despite that, the song’s narrator seemingly finds himself fighting through crippling self-doubt and uncertainty, which gave the song a tense and conflicted vibe. The EP’s second official single “Complex” featured a slowly strutting groove, undulating synths, a sinuous bass line, boom bap-like beats and a slow-burning, unexpected sultry hook — and that single will further cement the young artist’s growing reputation for crafting danceable, left field pop. 

“Deserve Your Love” is an emotionally ambivalent track — and it someway that shouldn’t be surprising as Miles Francis explains that the song “deals with the complexities and risks in a new romance. Where there’s overconfidence, there’s deep insecurity; where there’s a sweet exterior, there’s evil brewing underneath — all within one person. It’s sung from the perspective of either a self-conscious, wounded lover or an unemotional jerk.” And if there’s one rare thing in our lives that’s certain it’s the fact that love is a strange thing that can bring out both the very best of us and the very worst of us — simultaneously and without warning or comprehension. Despite the song’s emotional ambivalence, it’s a swooning and intimate song, a confession of sorts of one’s sense of worth or lack thereof in which the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter sings the songs’ lyrics with a tender falsetto before the song’s soaring hook. Throughout, he’s accompanied by gently billowing guitar chords and metronomic-like drum programming, which gives the song it’s achingly lonely vibe; but oddly enough, the song is arguably one of the more Beatles-like songs he’s released to date. 

The recently released video continues Miles Francis’ ongiong collaboration with director and filmmaker Charles Billot and as the New York-based pop artist explains, the video’s protagonist is depicted as an unemotional jerk, who has a terrible night. The threesome he enters ends unexpectedly with a slap in the face. And as he’s driving back to his place, the video switches between shots of Miles and an older man (who turns out to be Miles’ father). Perhaps the older man is an older manifestation of the young protagonist, full of his own regrets and mistakes? In any case, Miles stops suddenly when he sees a body in the middle of the road, and he gets roughed up by a gang and has his car stolen. The video ends with the protagonist stopping for an ice cream cone, and returning home seemingly unfazed over everything that’s just happened to him. 

New Video: Miles Francis Returns with Hypnotic and Sultry Visuals for New Single “Complex”

Miles Francis is a 26 year-old, New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who may be one of the city’s most best kept and accomplished secrets; he’s best known for stints as a member of JOVM mainstays Superhuman Happiness, and Antibalas , as the frontman for sadly defunct, local Afrobeat/Afropop collective EMEFE, and as a working musician, he has collaborated and performed with an impressive array of artists including Mark Ronson, Sharon Jones, Amber Mark, Angelique Kidjo, Allen Toussaint, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Arcade Fire’s Will Butler and others. 
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year, you’d recall that the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter released his glitchy and jerky debut single “You’re a Star,” which featured  propulsive polyrhythm and, 8 bit Nintendo-like synths wrapped around cooed vocals. And while the track finds Miles’ sound still drawing from the Afropop and Afrobeat that has been at the core of most of his work. but while nodding at Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads.

Building upon a growing profile as a solo artist, Miles Francis debut EP Swimmers is slated for a February 2, 2018 release. Written in the back of our vans and various hotel rooms while on the road and then recorded in his basement studio, the material reportedly captures the mood and vibe of someone in their early to mid 20s figuring out themselves, the extremely complicated and ambivalent world they’re confronting as adults, how they fit into that world, their purpose and the meaning of their own lives. As Miles Francis explains in press notes, “These five songs captured a raw time for me, when life seemed to be coming to a head. I made an effort not to touch or edit them too much once I had recorded them. I wanted to keep that intimacy in there,” he says. Interestingly, the EP’s first official single “Take It” featured a swaggering and self-assured arrangement featuring arpeggiated synths, a sinuous, funky bass line, boom bap-like drumming and an incredibly infectious hook; but despite that, the song’s narrator seemingly finds himself fighting through crippling self-doubt and uncertainty, which give step song a tense and conflicted vibe. 

The EP’s second and latest single “Complex” features a slowly strutting grove, gently undulating synths, a sinuous bass line, boom bap-like beats and a slow-burning, unexpected sultry hook — and much like his preceding singles, “Complex” will further cement the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter’s growing reputation for crafting thoughtful, out of left field pop. 

The recently released video for “Complex” continues Miles Francis’ ongoing collaboration with director  Charles Billot features the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter submerged underwater as plumes of colored smoke gently drift over him and the water, before he slowly pulls his head above water. Interestingly, the visuals manage to be dream-like while further emphasizing the song’s sultry and hypnotic quality. 

New Video: Miles Francis Returns with Slick Visuals for His Sinuous and Funky New Single

Miles Francis is a 26 year-old, New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who may be one of the city’s most best kept and accomplished secrets as best known as being a member of JOVM mainstays Superhuman Happiness, Antibalas and EMEFE, and as a working musician he has collaborated and performed with an impressive array of artists including Mark Ronson, Sharon Jones, Amber Mark, Angelique Kidjo, Allen Toussaint, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Arcade Fire’s Will Butler and others. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the past year or so, you’d recall that the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter released his debut single “You’re a Star,” which featured mischievously complex and propulsive polyrhythm, bursts of jerky and twinkling, 8 bit Nintendo-like synths around a breezily infectious hook wrapped around hushed vocals. But interestingly, his debut single is a bit of departure from his previously released work — while clearly drawing from Afropop and Afrobeat, the song also seemed to nod at Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads.

Building upon a growing profile as a solo artist, Miles Francis debut EP Swimmers is slated for a February 2, 2018 release. Written in the back of our vans and various hotel rooms while on the road and then recorded in his basement studio, the material reportedly captures the mood and vibe of someone in their early to mid 20s figuring out themselves, the extremely complicated and ambivalent world they’re confronting as adults, how they fit into that world, their purpose and the meaning of their own lives. As Miles Francis explains in press notes, “These five songs captured a raw time for me, when life seemed to be coming to a head. I made an effort not to touch or edit them too much once I had recorded them. I wanted to keep that intimacy in there,” he says. Interestingly, the EP’s first official single “Take It” manages to pair a swaggering and self-assured arrangement featuring arpeggiated synths, a sinuous, funky bass line, boom bap-like drumming with one of the most infectious hooks I’ve heard so far; but ironically, the song’s narrator finds himself fighting through crippling self-doubt and uncertainty, which creates a tense, deeply conflicted vibe to the song. 

Directed by Charles Billot and shot at Brooklyn venue C’Mon Everybody, the recently released video was choreographed by Blake Krapels and features the New York-based singer/songwriter along with dancer Lukasz Zieba, whose movements evoke the song’s tense and conflicted nature — while being stunningly beautiful to look at. 

If you’ve been frequenting this site for the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across a  handful of posts about renowned violinist, vocalist, composer and producer K. Ishibashi and his solo recording project Kishi Bashi. And with the release of two critically applauded full-length efforts  — 151a and Lighght — Ishibashi has developed a reputation for decidedly crafted and swooning orchestral pop in which he employed the use of samplers, looping machines and other electronics for a lush and densely layered sound. Ishibashi’s third, full length effort Sonderlust was produced by Grizzly Bear‘s Chris Taylor, engineered by Pat Dillet, who has worked with Angelique Kidjo and David Byrne, and features the contributions of drummer Matt Chamberlain, who has been in the backing bands of Morrissey and Fiona Apple, as well as having a stint in of Montreal, and the album is a radical sonic departure from the sound that first caught the attention of the blogosphere as the material leans heavily towards hook-laden, electro pop as you would have heard on Sonderlust‘s earliest released single “Say Yeah.” Interestingly, this massive change in sonic direction came about from two different sources — the first being that Sonderlust‘s material didn’t come immediately or through his usual creative processes.  “As I sat down to write songs last summer, I went to all my usual conduits of creation: violin loops, guitar, piano and I came up with the musical equivalent of fumes,” Ishibashi explained in press notes. “I tried to create orchestral pop recordings that I assume were my forte, and in turn, I found myself standing in front of a creative wall of frightening heights.” Second was that along with a period of creative uncertainty, Ishibashi also faced faced significant changes in his personal life, the sort of changes that had him questioning everything he thought he knew about being in love, loving another and desiring another. And as a result, the album’s material focuses on heartbreak, the difficult struggle to move forward and the how that heartache influences every subsequent relationship.

The album’s latest single “Can’t Let Go, Juno,” is comprised of shimmering and cascading layers of synths, a gorgeous and soaring string arrangement, Ishibashi’s aching and plaintive vocals, propulsive, four-on-the-floor like drums in what may arguably be some of Ishibashi’s most danceable, seemingly straightforward and hook-laden pop-leaning material he’s released to date. However, lyrically speaking, “Can’t Let Go, Juno” focuses on the lingering ghosts of a past relationship that has haunted the song’s narrator, a narrator who recognizes that he’s had a difficult time letting go and moving forward — and as a result, the song possesses a bittersweet sense of unfinished business, all while sounding as though it drew from New Order and Cut Copy.

You can catch Kish Bashi on a lengthy North American tour this fall, and it includes an October 2, 2016 stop at Webster Hall. Check out tour dates and ticket information below.

Tour Dates
9/27: Athens, GA @ Georgia Theatre (tickets)*
9/28: Charlotte, NC @ Visulite (tickets)*
9/30: Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle (tickets)*
10/1: Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore – Silver Spring (tickets)*
10/2: New York, NY @ Webster Hall (tickets)*
10/3: Boston, MA @ Royale (tickets)*
10/4: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer (tickets)*
10/6: Toronto, ON @ MOD Club (tickets)*
10/8: Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom & Tavern (tickets)*
10/9: Pontiac, MI @ Crofoot Ballroom (tickets)*
10/10: Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre (tickets)*
10/11: St. Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall (tickets)*
10/12: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue Mainroom (tickets)*
10/14: Omaha, NE @ Slowdown (tickets)^
10/15: Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre (tickets)^ 
10/16: Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge (tickets)^
10/18: Seattle, WA @ The Showbox (tickets)^
10/19: Vancouver, BC @ The Fox Cabaret (tickets)^
10/20: Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom (tickets)^
10/21: San Francisco, CA @ The Masonic (tickets)^
10/22: Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst Atrium (tickets)^
10/23: San Diego, CA @ Irenic (tickets)^ 
10/24: Los Angeles, CA @ The Belasco Theater (tickets)^ 
10/26: Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress (tickets)+
10/28: San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger (tickets)+
10/29: Austin, TX @ Mohawk (tickets)+ 
10/30: Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall (tickets)+
11/1: New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks (tickets)+
11/2: Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse (tickets)+
*  w/ Twain
^  w/ Busman’s Holiday
+  w/ Laura Gibson

Initially beginning his recording career as a member of Regina Spektor‘s and Sondre Lerche‘s backing bands, as well as a co-producer and full-time member of critically acclaimed indie act of Montreal, violinist, vocalist, composer, and producer K. Ishibashi through the release of critically applauded two full-length efforts — 151a and Lighght — with his solo recording project Kishi Bashi has developed a reputation for decidedly crafted and swooning orchestral pop with a subtly modern take, as K. Ishibashi would frequently use looping machines and samplers for a lush, layered sound.

Produced by Grizzly Bear‘s Chris Taylor and engineered by Pat Dillet, who has worked with Angelique Kidjo and David Byrne, and drummer Matt Chamberlain, who has been a member of Morrissey‘s and Fiona Apple‘s backing band, as well as being a member of Montreal, Ishibashi’s third full-lenght effort Sonderlust reportedly finds the renowned composer and vocalist expanding upon the sound that first captured the attention of the blogosphere. Interestingly, Ishibashi has publicly mentioned that Sonderlust‘s material didn’t come immediately or through his usual creative process. “As I sat down to write songs last summer, I went to all my usual conduits of creation: violin loops, guitar, piano and I came up with the musical equivalent of fumes,” Ishibashi explains. “I tried to create orchestral pop recordings that I assume were my forte, and in turn, I found myself standing in front of a creative wall of frightening heights.” This period of creative uncertainly, along with significant changes in his personal life, led the composer, violinist, vocalist and producer to experiment with a new musical direction. “I questioned everything about what it means to love and desire…the difference between loving someone and being in love,” Ishibashi explained.

The album’s first single “Say Yeah” has Ishibashi pairing twinkling and shimmering synths, lush string and wind arrangements, propulsive drum programming, an incredibly infectious hook and the renowned violinist, vocalist and producer’s tender and aching falsetto in a swooning yet dance-floor friendly song that interestingly enough sounds as though it were indebted to disco and both 80s and contemporary electro pop — all while still possessing a swooning Romanticism. Lyrically, the song is a plaintive and urgent plea to a lover to stay and try to make it work because the narrator can’t just bear to be without his love.

You can catch Kish Bashi on a lengthy North American tour this fall, and it includes an October 2, 2016 stop at Webster Hall. Check out tour dates and ticket information below.

Tour Dates:
9/27: Athens, GA @ Georgia Theatre (tickets)
9/28: Charlotte, NC @ Visulite (tickets)
9/30: Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle (tickets)
10/1: Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore – Silver Spring (tickets)
10/2: New York, NY @ Webster Hall (tickets)
10/3: Boston, MA @ Royale (tickets)
10/4: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer (tickets)
10/6: Toronto, ON @ MOD Club (tickets)
10/8: Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom & Tavern (tickets)
10/9: Pontiac, MI @ Crofoot Ballroom (tickets)
10/10: Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre (tickets)
10/11: St. Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall (tickets)
10/12: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue Mainroom (tickets)
10/14: Omaha, NE @ Slowdown (tickets)
10/15: Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre (tickets)
10/16: Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge (tickets)
10/18: Seattle, WA @ The Showbox (tickets)
10/19: Vancouver, BC @ The Fox Cabaret (tickets)
10/20: Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom (tickets)
10/21: San Francisco, CA @ The Masonic (tickets)
10/22: Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst Atrium (tickets)
10/23: San Diego, CA @ Irenic (tickets)
10/24: Los Angeles, CA @ The Belasco Theater (tickets)
10/26: Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress (tickets)
10/28: San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger (tickets)
10/29: Austin, TX @ Mohawk (tickets)
10/30: Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall (tickets)
11/1: New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks (tickets)
11/2: Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse (tickets)