Tag: ATO Records

Live Footage: Neal Francis Performs “Can’t Stop The Rain” at Shirk Studios, Chicago

Born Neal Francis O’Hara, the Livingston, NJ-born, Chicago-based singer/songwriter and pianist known as Neal Francis can trace the origins of his sound and approach to his childhood: he was obsessed with boogie woogie piano and his father gifted him a dusty Dr. John album. O’Hara quickly became a piano prodigy, touring Europe with Muddy Waters‘ son and with other prominent bluesmen across the States when he was just 18. 

In 2012, Neal Francis joined the popular instrumental funk band The Heard. With the Livingston-born, Chicago-based singer/songwriter and pianist at the creative helm, The Heard quickly became a national touring act, making stops at New Orleans Jazz Fest and Bear Creek, and touring with The New Mastersounds and The Revivalists. As The Heard’s profile rose, Francis sunk deeply into addiction. By 2015, he had been fired from his band, evicted from his apartment and was inching perilously close to his own destruction. “When you get close to death like that you can feel it,” Francis recalls. An alcohol-induced seizure that year led to a broken femur, dislocated arm, and, finally, the realization that he needed to get clean. Although he identifies as not being religious, Francis took a music-ministry job at St. Peter’s UCC in 2017 at the suggestion of a friend. 

Francis’ solo debut, 2019’s Changes was released to critical acclaim with the album landing on Best-of-the-Year lists of KCRWKEXP and The Current while BBC Radio 6hailed him as “the reincarnation of Allen Toussaint.” Adding to a breakthrough year, Francis toured with Lee Fields and The Expressions and JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas. He shared a stage with members of the legendary The Meters at New Orleans Jazz Fest. And he did a live session on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic.

Despite having breakthrough success with his career, Francis broke up with his longtime girlfriend while on tour to support Changes. When the tour ended, he trend to Chicago and found himself with no place to stay. So, he ended to St. Peter’s and asked if he could move into the parsonage. “I thought I’d only stay a few months but it turned into over a year, and I knew I had to do something to take advantage of this miraculous gift of a situation,” he says. 

Francis began writing new material, a series of songs that’s both strangely enchanted and painfully self-aware, inspired by Greek myths, frenzied dreams and late night drives and a possibly haunted church. (More on that in a bit.) The end result is the Chicago-based artist’s highly-anticipated sophomore album In Plain Sight, an album that derives its title from the title of a song that wound up getting cut from the album. “It’s a song about my breakup and the circumstances that led to me living in the church, where I’m owning up to all my problems within my relationships and my sobriety,” says Francis, whose first full-length chronicles his struggles with addiction. “It felt like the right title for this record, since so much of it is about coming to the understanding that I continue to suffer because of those problems. It’s about acknowledging that and putting it out in the open in order to mitigate the suffering and try to work on it, instead of trying to hide everything.”

Continuing his ongoing collaboration with Changes producer Sergio Rios, a guitarist and engineer, who has worked with CeeLo Green and Alicia Keys, the album spotlights Francis’ reminded yet free-spirited piano playing. “From a very early age, I was playing late into the night in a very stream-of-consciousness kind of way,” he says, naming everything from ragtime to gospel soul to The Who among his formative influences. 

Recorded entirely on tape with his backing band, Kellen Boersma (guitar), Mike Starr (bass) and Collin O’Brien (drums), In Plain Sight is also fueled by Francis’ restless experimentation with a stash of analog synths lent by his friends during his early days living at the church “My sleep schedule flipped and I’d stay up all night working on songs in this very feverish way,” he says. “I just needed so badly to get completely lost in something.” 

By the end of his surreal and sometimes eerie experience of living at the church—“I’m convinced that the stairway leading to the choir loft where I used to practice is haunted,” he says—Francis had found his musicality undeniably elevated. “Because I was forced into this almost monastic existence and was alone so much of the time, I could play as often and as long as I wanted,” he says. “I ended up becoming such a better pianist, a better writer, a better reader of music.” Dedicated to a woman named Lil (the de facto leader of the St. Peter’s congregation), In Plain Sight ultimately reveals the possibility of redemption and transformation even as your world falls apart.

In Plain Sight‘s first single is the uplifting and shuffling boogie woogie “Can’t Stop the Rain.” Centered around a Southern rock arrangement reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Sweet Home Alabama,” complete with a soaring gospel-tinged chorus, Francis’ latest single also prominently features a smoldering slide guitar solo from Derek Trucks.Underlying the whole affair is Francis’ unerring knack for a crafting an infectious hook paired with lived-in, world weary yet hopeful lyrics expressing a profound yet simple sentiment — gratitude. “I wrote that with my buddy David Shaw, who came up with the refrain and this idea that even though life’s going to throw all this shit at you, there’s still so many things to be grateful for,” Francis says.

Recently Francis and his backing band stopped at Shirk Studios for a loose and jammy version of “Can’t Stop the Rain,” which I think is a good taste of what to expect from Francis and his band, when they start hitting club across the country. Francis is currently on a massive and extensive Stateside tour that included dates opening for The Black Pumas and stops at Americana FestShaky Knees, and Outside Lands, as well as several other stops on the national festival circuit. The tour also includes two NYC area dates: a sold-out Mercury Lounge show on September 20, 2021 and a Brooklyn Bowl show on 9/22/21. You can check out the rest of the tour dates below. Tickets and other information is available at nealfrancis.com

In Plain Sight is slated for a November 5, 2021 release through ATO Records.

New Video: Amyl and The Sniffers Release an Explosive New Ripper

Acclaimed Melbourne-based punk act and JOVM mainstays Amyl and The Sniffers — Amy Taylor (vocals), Gus Romer (bass), Bryce Wilson (drums) and Declan Martens (guitar) — formed back in 2016, and shortly after their formation, they wrote and self-recorded their debut EP Giddy Up. The following year, saw the release of the Big Attractions EP, which was packaged as a double 12 inch EP with Giddy Up released through Homeless Records in Australia and Damaged Goods in the UK.

The band exploded into the international scene with a set at The Great Escape Festival, a series of sold out London area shows and a Stateside tour opening for JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. They added to a busy year with a headlining tours across both the UK and US before signing to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Flightless Records for distribution across Australia and New Zealand and Rough Trade for the rest of the world. The year was capped off with a Q Awards nomination for Best New Act and won the $30,000 Levis Prize.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Aussie punk quartet took 2019’s SXSW by storm. And then the band promptly released their self-tiled, full-length debut to critical applause globally while further cementing a feral and anarchic take on ’77 era punk. Adding to a breakthrough year, Amyl and the Sniffers won an ARIA Award for Best Rock Album. 

Comfort To Me, the Aussie punk quartet’s highly-anticipated Don Luscombe-produced sophomore album is slated for a release this Friday through ATO Records.  Written during a long year of pandemic quarantining, in which the members of the band lived in the same house, the album’s material sonically draws from a heavier set of references and influences including AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Mötorhead,  Wendy O. Williams, Warthog, Power Trip, Coloured Balls and Cosmic Psychos. Taylor’s lyrics and delivery were also inspired by her long live of hip-hop and garage rock.

All four of us spent most of 2020 enclosed by pandemic authority in a 3-bedroom rental in our home city of Melbourne, Australia. We’re like a family: we love each other and feel nothing at the same time,” Amyl and the Sniffers’ Amy Taylor says in a lengthy statement on the album. “We had just come off two years of touring, being stuck in a van together eight hours a day, and then we’re trapped together for months in this house with sick green walls. It sucked but it was also nice. We spent heaps of time in the backyard listening to music, thrashing around in shorts, eating hot chips. The boys had a hard time being away from the pub and their mates, but it meant we had a lot of time to work on this record. Most of the songs were really intuitive. Main thing, we just wanted it to be us. In the small windows we had in between lockdowns, we went to our rehearsal space, which is a storage locker down the road at National Storage Northcote. We punched all the songs into shape at Nasho and for the first time ever we wrote more songs than we needed. We had the luxury of cutting out the songs that were shit and focusing on the ones we loved. 

We were all better musicians, as well, because that’s what happens when you go on tour for two years, you get really good at playing. We were a better band and we had heaps of songs, so we were just different. The nihilistic, live in the moment, positivity and panel beater rock-meets-shed show punk was still there, but it was better. The whole thing was less spontaneous and more darkly considered. The lyrics I wrote for the album are better too, I think. The amount of time and thought I put into the lyrics for this album is completely different from the EPs, and even the first record. Half of the lyrics were written during the Australian Bushfire season, when we were already wearing masks to protect ourselves from the smoke in the air. And then when the pandemic hit, our options were the same as everyone: go find a day job and work in intense conditions or sit at home and drown in introspection. I fell into the latter category. I had all this energy inside of me and nowhere to put it, because I couldn’t perform, and it had a hectic effect on my brain. 

My brain evolved and warped and my way of thinking about the world completely changed. Having to deal with a lot of authority during 2020 and realising my lack of power made me feel both more self destructive and more self disciplined, more nihilistic and more depressed and more resentful, which ultimately fuelled me with a kind of relentless motivation. I became a temporary monster. I partied more, but I also exercised heaps, read books and ate veggies. I was like an egg going into boiling water when this started, gooey and weak but with a hard surface. I came out even harder. I’m still soft on the inside, but in a different way. All of this time, I was working on the lyrics. I pushed myself heaps and heaps, because there were things that I needed to say. The lyrics draw a lot from rap phrasing, because that’s what I’m into. I just wanted to be a weird bitch and celebrate how weird life and humans are. 

“The whole thing is a fight between by my desire to evolve and the fact that somehow I always end up sounding like a dumb cunt. So anyway, that’s where this album comes from. People will use other bands as a sonic reference to make it more digestible and journalists will make it seem more pretentious and considered than it really is, but in the end this album is just us — raw self expression, defiant energy, unapologetic vulnerability. It was written by four self-taught musicians who are all just trying to get by and have a good time. 

“If you have to explain what this record is like, I reckon it’s like watching an episode of The Nanny but the setting is an Australian car show and the Nanny cares about social issues and she’s read a couple of books, and Mr Sheffield is drinking beer in the sun. It’s a Mitsubishi Lancer going slightly over the speed limit in a school zone. It’s realising how good it is to wear track pants in bed. It’s having someone who wants to cook you dinner when you’re really shattered. It’s me shadow-boxing on stage, covered in sweat, instead of sitting quietly in the corner.”

In the lead up to the album’s release, I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles:

“Guided by Angels,” a riotous, mosh pit friendly ripper centered around Taylor’s frenetic energy and punchily delivered vocals, buzzing power chords and a pub friendly, shout along with a raised beer in your hand hook. But underneath all of that, “Guided by Angels” is fueled by a defiant and unapologetic vulnerability and a rare, unshakeable faith in possibility and overall goodness; that there actually are good angels right over your shoulder to guide you and sustain you when you need them the most. 
“Security,” a Highway to Hell-era AC/DC-like anthem full of swaggering braggadocio, boozy power chords, thunderous drumming, shout along worthy hooks and Taylor’s feral delivery. Much like its immediate predecessor, the song is fueled by its narrator boldly and unapologetically declaring that they need and are looking for love — right now! ”

“Hertz” Comfort to Me’s third and latest single is a scorching AC/DC-inspired ripper fueled by the desperately frenetic energy of the bored, lonely and trapped within their heads desiring something different than the four walls of their apartment that they’ve grown sick of. It captures a feeling that many of us have struggled with during the pandemic with an urgency and vulnerability that’s devastating.

Continuing their ongoing collaboration with director John Angus Stewart, the recently released video places the frenetic nuclear bomb that’s Amy Taylor in a number of different set ups. At points, you can literally see Taylor being inspired by AC/DC’s Bon Scott and Angus Young and hip hop while capturing the urgent desire to just enjoy being here now with good people — to just go for a drive somewhere.

Along with the new single and video, the band announced that on October 5, 2021 they’ll premiere a filmed performance of Comfort to Me’s material played in full, in one take, on a slab of concrete in a suburban wasteland in the Melbourne area. You can purchase tickets for the livestream here: https://www.amylandthesniffers.com

New VIdeo: Amyl and The Sniffers Explosive and Life-Affirming “Guided by Angels”

Acclaimed Melbourne-based punk act Amyl and The Sniffers — Amy Taylor (vocals), Gus Romer (bass), Bryce Wilson (drums) and Declan Martens (guitar) — formed back in 2016 and shortly after their formation, they wrote and self-recorded their debut EP Giddy Up. The following year, saw the release of the Big Attractions EP, which was packed as a double 12 inch EP with Giddy Up released through Homeless Records in Australia and Damaged Goods in the UK.

The band exploded into the international scene with a set at The Great Escape Festival, a series of sold out London area shows and a Stateside tour opening for JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. They added to a busy year with a headlining tours across both the UK and US before signing to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Flightless Records for distribution across Australia and New Zealand and Rough Trade for the rest of the world. The year was capped off with a Q Awards nomination for Best New Act and won the $30,000 Levis Prize.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile took 2019’s SXSW by storm, and then promptly released their self-tiled, full-length debut to critical applause globally. The Aussie punk act’s debut further established — and cemented — a feral and anarchic take on ’77-era punk. And adding to a breakthrough year, the band won an ARIA Award for Best Rock Album.

The Aussie act’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Comfort To Me is slated for a September 10, 2021 release through ATO Records. The quartet wrote the album while quarantining in the same house together during the pandemic — and the writing process found the band spending more time refining the album’s material than they had previously. “The nihilistic, live in the moment, positivity and panel beater rock-meets-shed show punk was still there, but it was better,” Amyl and The Sniffers’ Amy Taylor says in press notes. “The whole thing was less spontaneous and more darkly considered.”

amount of time and thought I put into the lyrics for this album is completely different from the EPs, and even the first record,” Taylor continues. “Half of the lyrics were written during the Australian bushfire season, when we were already wearing masks to protect ourselves from the smoke in the air. And then when the pandemic hit, our options were the same as everyone: go find a day job and work in intense conditions or sit at home and drown in introspection. I fell into the latter category. I had all this energy inside of me and nowhere to put it, because I couldn’t perform, and it had a hectic effect on my brain. My brain evolved and warped and my way of thinking about the world completely changed. Having to deal with a lot of authority during 2020 and realising my lack of power made me feel both more self destructive and more self disciplined, more nihilistic and more depressed and more resentful, which ultimately fuelled me with a kind of relentless motivation. I became a temporary monster. I partied more, but I also exercised heaps, read books and ate veggies. I was like an egg going into boiling water when this started, gooey and weak but with a hard surface. I came out even harder. I’m still soft on the inside, but in a different way.”

y and aesthetically, Comfort To Me reportedly sees the band amping up their infectious and chaotic energy even higher. “People will use other bands as a sonic reference to make it more digestible and journalists will make it seem more pretentious and considered than it really is,” says Taylor, “but in the end this album is just us — raw self expression, defiant energy, unapologetic vulnerability.”

Comfort To Me’s first single “Guided by Angels” is a riotous, mosh pit friendly ripper centered around Taylor’s frenetic energy and punchily delivered vocals, buzzing power chords, a relentlessly chugging bass line, pummeling drumming and a shout-a-long-with-a-raised-beer-in-your-hands hook. But at its core, the song is fueled by a defiant and unapologetic vulnerability, and a rare, unshakeable faith in goodness and possibility; that there may be good angels, right over your shoulder when you need the most. When the shit has hit the fan, and all seems bleak and hopeless — as it all too often does — play this loud, yell along with Taylor while her bandmates rip and feel the small comfort of the blood flowing in your body, the roar of your own voice, and the hope that it usually does get a small bit better.

Directed by John Angus Stewart, the cinematically shot visual for “Guided by Angels” follows the band driving around their hometown, vamping and preening for what could be album art photo shoots in various abandoned parts of town. While her bandmates coolly drive their little sedan or stand around watching, Taylor is an atomic bomb of furious and frenetic energy, exploding across your screen.

Live Footage: Deep Sea Diver on NPR Tiny Desk (at Home)

Led by its accomplished, Los Angeles-born, Seattle-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and frontperson Jessica Dobson, the Seattle-based indie rock act Deep Sea Diver can trace its origins back to when Dobson was 19: Dobson, who has had stints  playing with a who’s who list of contemporary acts, including Beck, Conor Oberst, Spoon, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Shins signed with Atlantic Records. And while with Atlantic Records, Dobson wrote and recorded two albums that she wasn’t completely satisfied with — and Atlantic ultimately shelved the material and dropped her from the label.

After leaving Atlantic, Dobson wrote and recorded her official solo debut EP New Caves under the name Deep Sea Diver. The project expanded to a full-fledged band with the addition of John Raines (bass) Dobson’s spouse Peter Mansen (drums), Garrett Gue (bass), and Elliot Jackson (guitar, synth), who helped to flesh out the project’s sound. The band went on to release two albums and an EP — 2012’s self-released debut History Speaks, 2014’s Always Waiting EP and 2016’s acclaimed Secrets.

Last October saw the release of the band’s critically applauded third album Impossible Weight through High Beam Records/ATO Records, and the album followed after a busy year of touring with Wilco and Joseph. Sonically and thematically, the album stemmed from a period of sometimes brutal self-examination — a process that began for Dobson, not long after Deep Sea Diver finished touring to support Secrets. “We went into the studio pretty quickly after the tour ended, and I sort of hit a wall where I was feeling very detached from making music, and unable to find joy in it,” Dobson recalls in press notes. “I realized I had to try to rediscover my voice as a songwriter, and figure out the vocabulary for what I needed to say on this album.”

Stepping back from music and the studio, Dobson focused on dealing with the depression she had been struggling with, and soon started volunteering for Aurora Commons, a drop-in center for unhoused people, most whom are drug-dependent and frequently engage in street-survival-based sex work. “I spent a lot of time with the women who frequent the Commons, and it taught me a new depth of empathy,” she says. “They’re people who don’t have the luxury of going back to a home at the end of the day and hiding behind those four walls, so they’re sort of forced to be vulnerable with what their needs are. Talking with them and listening to them really freed me up to start writing about things I’d never written about before in my songs.”

Co-produced by Dobson and Andy D. Park and recorded at Seattle’s Studio X and The Hall of Justice, Impossible Weight finds Dobson and company digging far deeper emotionally than ever before — and pairing it with a bigger, more grandiose sound. While revealing Dobson’s dexterous and powerful guitar work, the album’s lush textures and mercurial arrangements allow room for Dobson to fully demonstrate her vocal range in a way that she hadn’t before. “’I’d never produced a record before and I started out with low expectations for myself, but at some point I realized, ‘I can do this,’” Dobson recalls. “I decided to completely trust my voice and make really bold decisions in all my production calls—just push everything to the absolute outer edges.”

Interestingly, for Dobson redefining the limits of her artistry goes hand-in-hand with deeper identity issues that came up while Dobson and her bandmates were working on the album. “I was adopted and just recently met my birth mother, and found out that I’m half-Mexican and half-Jewish,” Deep Sea Diver’s frontperson explains. “Discovering my heritage and learning things about myself that I never knew before really fed into that question of ‘Where do I belong?’” Simultaneously, Dobson rediscovered the sense of possibility, adventure and joy that she first felt when she started out as a 19 year-old.  “I think being signed at such a young age messed me up in terms of the expectations I put on myself,” she says. “Somewhere along the way I lost confidence in my own vision, but after making this record I feel a much larger freedom to go in whatever direction I want with my music.”

With Impossible Weight, Dobson hopes that others might reclaim a similar sense of freedom in their emotional lives. “Especially right now when the world is in disarray and there’s so much fear, I want this record to give people room to feel whatever they need to feel,” she says. “I hope it helps them recognize that it’s okay to fall apart, and that they’re meant to let others in instead of trying to work through everything on their own. Because the point is that the impossible weight isn’t yours to carry alone—that’s why it’s impossible.”

Now, if you were following this site last year — bless you for that, seriously — you may recall that I wrote about a couple of the album’s singles:

“Lights Out,”  a track that contained multitudes, as it was deviant and anthemic yet delicate. Centered around Dobson’s expressive guitar work, a thunderous rhythm section an enormous raise-your-beer-in-the-air-and-shout-along worthy hook and Dobson’s equally expressive vocals, the song featured a bold and fearlessly vulnerable, who seems to say to the listener “It’s okay to admit that you’re not okay and that you may need some help to get you out of life’s dark places.”
Album title track “Impossible Weight,” a track that’s one-part New Wave and one-part arena rock with enormous hooks, twinkling synths, Dobson’s expressive and explosive guitar work rooted in heart-fully-on-sleeve songwriting. And while revealing Dobson’s unerring knack for crafting an anthemic hook, the song captures a narrator on the emotional brink with an novelistic attention to psychological detail. A guest spot from Sharon Van Etten, managed to add an additional emotional punch.

Deep Sea Diver recently filmed a NPR Tiny Desk (at Home) Concert in a space that the band built to recreate the iconic Red Room in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.  “There were countless times this past year that I wanted to be transported out of my house and into a different world,” says frontwoman Jessica Dobson. “One of my favorite and most inspiring worlds is that of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, which was filmed very close to where I live in Washington.The band is joined by Joseph’s Natalie Schepman and Megan Closner, who contribute backing vocals for three songs of the live set — and there’s a guest appearance from Dobson’s adorable beagle Henry, “the one being that was happy we weren’t touring,” Dobson says.

The live set features joyous and heartfelt versions of the aforementioned “Lights Out” and “Impossible Weight,” as well as “Wishing” and the standalone single “Stop Pretending,” which was named one of NPR Music’s 100 Best Songs of 2020 — and evokes the despair and unease we’ve all felt over the past year or so.

New Video: The Murlocs Release a Feel-Good 80s Inspired Ode to Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s Mom

The Murlocs  — King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith and Cook Craig with Cal Shortal, Matt Mlach and Tim Karmouche — have released four albums of fuzzy and distorted psychedelic blues that the band has supported both as an opener for the likes of Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Wavves and of course, Kenny-Smith’s and Craig’s primary gig,. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and as a headliner.

The Aussie psych blues outfit’s fifth album. the Tim Dunn-produced Bittersweet Demons is slated for a June 25, 2021 release through their longtime label home ATO Records. Recorded at Button Pushers Studio, the 11-song album finds the band lovingly reflecting on the people, who have left a profound imprint on their lives, the saviors, the hell racists and other assorted mystifying characters. Arguably, the most personal and complex batch of material they’ve written to date, the album reportedly finds the band bouncing around and between sunny pop, blues punk and wide-eyed psychedelia informed by John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band and Harry Nilsson’s Lennon-produced Pussy Cats.

Bittersweet Demons first single “Francesca” was written by the band’s Tim Karmouche — and sonically, finds the band crafting a rousingly upbeat, hook-driven ripper that subtly adds a New Wave polish to the fuzzy psych rock barnburners that have won them national and international attention. To my ears, the members of The Murlocs have managed to write a road trip anthem that’s arena rock friendly. “The song is about my mother, and show she had been lost for love since the separation from my father, when I was, 10,” Kenny-Smith explains in press notes. “In the last year and a half or so, she’s found love again, with a very close family friend of ours, someone, who has always been a godfather and mentor to me in many ways. This has changed her spirit immensely for the better. You can really see the pop in her step as this enormous weight has been lifted off her shoulders.”

Kenny-Smith mentions that some of his favorite songs are odes to impressive women — i.e. Van Morrison’s “Gloria” — and says, “Francesca is my mother’s middle name and I’ve always loved it so much.” The Murlocs frontman adds “It’s probably the most positive, feel-good song we’ve ever done. It’s also the closest we’ve ever come to having an 80’s phase.”

Directed by Alex Mclaren, the recently released video for “Francesca” was shot last April. Melbourne was coming out of its first pandemic-related lockdown and restrictions were eased for a short period of time. The band and director quickly jumped on the opportunity to shoot while they had the chance, presumably recognizing that they may not get another chance. And for such an 80’s-like anthem, the video features the titular Francesca, Kenny-Smith and the band driving around in a convertible and rocking out, as well as 80’s computerized graphics and fade outs. The car footage was shot on Melbourne’s Ivanhoe Blvd., near where Kenny-Smith’s mom grew up. That part of the footage was informed by the video for Randy Newman’s “I Love LA.”

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Altin Gün Performs “Ordunun Dereleri” with Metropole Orkest

Amsterdam-based Turkish psych pop act and JOVM mainstays Altin Gün — founding member founding member Jasper Verhulst (bass) with Ben Rider (guitar), Erdinç Ecevit Yildiz (keys, saz, vocals), Gino Groneveld (percussion), Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Nic Mauskovic (drums) — can trace their origins to Japser Verhulst’s repeated tour stops to Istanbul with a previous band and a deep and abiding passion for ’60s and ’70s Turkish psych pop and folk, fueled by music discoveries Verhulst couldn’t find in his native Holland.

But as the story goes, Verhulst wasn’t just content to listen as an ardent fan, he had a vision of where he could potentially take the sound he loved. “We do have a weak spot for the music of the late ’60s and ’70s,” Verhulst admitted in press notes. “With all the instruments and effects that arrived then, it was an exciting time. Everything was new, and it still feels fresh. We’re not trying to copy it, but these are the sounds we like and we’re trying to make them our own.”

Altin Gün’s sophomore album, last year’s Grammy Award-nominated, critically applauded Gece further established the band’s reputation for re-imagining traditional Turkish folk through the lens of psych rock and pop. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months, you may recall that the Dutch JOVM mainstays’ highly-anticipated, soon-to-be released third album Yol will be teh third album from the band in three years. And much like its predecessors, the album continues their long-held reputation for drawing from the rich and diverse traditions of Turkish and Anatolian folk. But because of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, the members of Altin Gün were forced to write music in a new way for them: virtually — through trading demos and ideas built around Omnichord, 808 and other elements, including field recordings and New Age-like ideas by email.

“We were basically stuck at home for three months making home demos, with everybody adding their parts,” Altin Gün’s Merve Dasdemir says in press notes. “The transnational feeling maybe comes from that process of swapping demos over the internet, some of the music we did in the studio, but lockdown meant we had to follow a different approach.” As a result of the new approach, which featured Ommichord and 808 driven arrangements, the album finds the band crafting material that’s a bold, new sonic direction: sleek, synth-based, retro-futuristic Europop with a dreamy quality, seemingly informed by the enforced period of reflection. Additionally, the album finds the Dutch act working with Ghent, Belgium-based production duo Asa Moto — Oliver Geerts and Gilles Noë — to co-produce and mix the album, marking the first time that the band has collaborated with outsiders.

I’ve written about three of Yol‘s released singles:

“Ordunun Dereleri,” a mesmerizing re-imagining of an old folk standard and a fitting example of the act’s new sound: glistening synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor and motorik groove. While the song finds the acclaimed Dutch act taking their sound to the dance floor, there’s an underlying brooding and dreamy introspection to the song.
“Yüce Dağ Başında,” a coquettish, dance floor friendly strut featuring Nile Rodgers-like guitar, glistening synths, a sinuous bass line, bursts of mellotron, copious cowbell and percussive polyrhythm centered around lead vocals from frontwoman Merve Dasdemir. Sonically, the infectious new single — to my ears, at least — reminds me of Evelyn “Champagne” King’s “I’m In Love” and “Love Come Down,” and Patrice Rushen‘s “Forget Me Nots.”
“Kara Toprak,” a sleek reworking of a classic folk song by Turkey’s legendary and beloved, blind poet and musician Âşık Veysel featuring wah wah-pedaled funk guitar, sinuous disco-influenced bass lines, shimmering and atmospheric synth arpeggios, copious amount of cowbell serve as a lush bed over which Merve Dasdemir’s gorgeous and sultry lead vocals, ethereally float over. Much like its predecessors, the song is swooning and coquettish seduction — a gentle tug of the sleeve from a new, potential lover/a new situationship that says “Come on, let’s dance already! Show me what you’ve got!” But ironically enough, while it’s an infectious, dance floor friendly rework, the song is about life’s transience and the inevitability of death.

The Amsterdam-based JOVM mainstays have quickly established themselves as a must-see live act, selling out headlining shows across the US and the European Union, and playing sets across the major global festival circuit, including Coachella and Bonnaroo before the pandemic. Now, as you may recall Yol was officially released today through ATO Records/Cadence Music Group — and to celebrate the occasion, the band released a highly desired taste of a concert they recorded with the Grammy Award-winning Dutch jazz orchestra Metropole Orkest at Amsterdam’s Koninklijk Theater Carré last October.

So we have some live footage of the JOVM mainstays performing a gorgeous and incredibly cinematic rendition of album single “Ordunun Dereleri” — and the footage is very much a glimpse of a world that seems so far away.

Amsterdam-based Turkish psych pop act and JOVM mainstays Altin Gün — founding member founding member Jasper Verhulst (bass) with Ben Rider (guitar), Erdinç Ecevit Yildiz (keys, saz, vocals), Gino Groneveld (percussion), Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Nic Mauskovic (drums) — can trace their origins to Japser Verhulst’s repeated tour stops to Istanbul with a previous band and a deep and abiding passion for ’60s and ’70s Turkish psych pop and folk, fueled by music discoveries Verhulst couldn’t find in his native Holland.

But as the story goes, Verhulst wasn’t just content to listen as an ardent fan, he had a vision of where he could potentially take the sound he loved. “We do have a weak spot for the music of the late ’60s and ’70s,” Verhulst admitted in press notes. “With all the instruments and effects that arrived then, it was an exciting time. Everything was new, and it still feels fresh. We’re not trying to copy it, but these are the sounds we like and we’re trying to make them our own.”

Altin Gün’s sophomore album, last year’s Grammy Award-nominated, critically applauded Gece further established the band’s reputation for re-imagining traditional Turkish folk through the lens of psych rock and pop. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months, you may recall that the Dutch JOVM mainstays’ highly-anticipated, soon-to-be released third album Yol will be teh third album from the band in three years. And much like its predecessors, the album continues their long-held reputation for drawing from the rich and diverse traditions of Turkish and Anatolian folk. But because of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, the members of Altin Gün were forced to write music in a new way for them: virtually — through trading demos and ideas built around Omnichord808 and other elements, including field recordings and New Age-like ideas by email. 

“We were basically stuck at home for three months making home demos, with everybody adding their parts,” Altin Gün’s Merve Dasdemir says in press notes. “The transnational feeling maybe comes from that process of swapping demos over the internet, some of the music we did in the studio, but lockdown meant we had to follow a different approach.” As a result of the new approach, which featured Ommichord and 808 driven arrangements, the album finds the band crafting material that’s a bold, new sonic direction: sleek, synth-based, retro-futuristic Europop with a dreamy quality, seemingly informed by the enforced period of reflection. Additionally, the album finds the Dutch act working with Ghent, Belgium-based production duo Asa Moto — Oliver Geerts and Gilles Noë — to co-produce and mix the album, marking the first time that the band has collaborated with outsiders. 

I’ve written about two of Yol‘s released singles:

  • Ordunun Dereleri,” a mesmerizing re-imagining of an old folk standard and a fitting example of the act’s new sound: glistening synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor and motorik groove. While the song finds the acclaimed Dutch act taking their sound to the dance floor, there’s an underlying brooding and dreamy introspection to the song.
  • Yüce Dağ Başında,” a coquettish, dance floor friendly strut featuring Nile Rodgers-like guitar, glistening synths, a sinuous bass line, bursts of mellotron, copious cowbell and percussive polyrhythm centered around lead vocals from frontwoman Merve Dasdemir. Sonically, the infectious new single — to my ears, at least — reminds me of Evelyn “Champagne” King’s “I’m In Love” and “Love Come Down,” and Patrice Rushen‘s “Forget Me Nots.

Yol’s third and latest single “Kara Toprak” is a sleek reworking of a classic folk song by Turkey’s legendary and beloved, blind poet and musician Âşık Veysel featuring wah wah-pedaled funk guitar, sinuous disco-influenced bass lines, shimmering and atmospheric synth arpeggios, copious amount of cowbell service as a lush bed over which Merve Dasdemir’s gorgeous and sultry lead vocals, ethereally float over. Much like its predecessors, the song is swooning and coquettish seduction — a gentle tug of the sleeve from a new, potential lover/a new situationship that says “Come on, let’s dance already! Show me what you’ve got!”

Interestingly enough, the song’s title translates into English as “black soil” and the song is about life’s transience and the inevitability of death. And as a result, the Altin Gün take manages to be sensual and rapturous. And in a world, in which every one of our actions is seemingly imbued with death, it’s a hauntingly gorgeous reminder of the fact that our mortality is inescapable.

Yol is slated for a February 26, 2021 release through ATO Records/Cadence Music Group.

Live Footage: Amsterdam’s Altin Gün Performs “Ordunun Dereleri”

Deriving their name from the Turkish phase for “Golden Day,” the Amsterdam-based Turkish psych pop act Altin Gün — founding member founding member Jasper Verhulst (bass) with Ben Rider (guitar), Erdinç Ecevit Yildiz (keys, saz, vocals), Gino Groneveld (percussion), Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Nic Mauskovic (drums) — can trace their origins to Japser Verhulst’s deep and abiding passion for 60s and 70s Turkish psych pop and folk and to frequent tour stops in Istanbul with a previous band.

As a result of his tour stops in Istanbul, Verhulst wound up discovering a lot of music that wasn’t readily available in his homeland. But as the story goes, he wasn’t just content to listen as an ardent fan, he had a vision of where he could potentially take the sound he loved. “We do have a weak spot for the music of the late ’60s and ’70s,” Verhulst admitted in press notes. “With all the instruments and effects that arrived then, it was an exciting time. Everything was new, and it still feels fresh. We’re not trying to copy it, but these are the sounds we like and we’re trying to make them our own.” The Dutch act actively interpret and reimagine this beloved material through a contemporary 21st century lens. “Of course, since our singers are Turkish, they know many of these pieces. All this is part of the country’s musical past, their heritage, like ‘House of The Rising Sun’ is in America,‘” Verhulst explains.

The act’s sophomore album, last year’s Grammy Award-nominated, critically applauded Gece helped the Amsterdam-based act win further worldwide acclaim for their reimagining of traditional Turkish folk through the lens of psych rock and pop. The band’s highly-anticipated third album Yol, the third album from the Dutch act in three years, finds the act continuing to draw upon the rich and diverse traditions of Turkish and Anatolian folk music. But as a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, the members of the Dutch act was forced to write music in a new way: they traded demos and ideas built around Omnichord, 808 and other elements, including field recordings and New Age-like ideas by email.

“We were basically stuck at home for three months making home demos, with everybody adding their parts,” Altin Gün’s Merve Dasdemir says in press notes. “The transnational feeling maybe comes from that process of swapping demos over the internet, some of the music we did in the studio, but lockdown meant we had to follow a different approach.”

As a result of arrangements featuring Omnichord and 808 — and the new songwriting approach, the album finds the band crafting material that’s a bold, new sonic direction: a sleek, synth-based Europop sound with a dreamy quality that may have been informed by the enforced period of reflection. Additionally, Yol finds the members of Altin Gün enlisting Ghent, Belgium-based production duo Asa Moto — Oliver Geerts and Gilles Noë — to co-produce and mix the album, marking the first time that the band has collaborated with outsiders.

“Ordunun Dereleri,” Yol‘s mesmerizing first single finds the Dutch act pairing an old folk standard with an arrangement centered around atmospheric and glistening synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor drumming paired with Mediterranean-like polyrhythmic percussion, shimmering bursts of guitar, a sinuous, motorik groove and plaintive vocals. And while, being a sleek and futuristic push in a new sonic direction, the track finds the band balancing careful and deliberate attention to craft with a dreamy introspection.

The members of Altin Gün filmed a livestream concert for Dekmantel Connects that will air December 17, 2020 at 8:00PM Central European Time/2:00PM Eastern Standard Time/1:00PM Central Standard/12:00PM Mountain Standard Time and 11:00AM Pacific Standard Time. The livestream will feature a sneak peek at the band’s forthcoming album, including this gorgeously shot live footage of the aforementioned “Ordunun Dereleri” filmed in what looks like an abandoned factory.

Yol is slated for a February 26, 2021 release through ATO Records/Cadence Music Group.

New Video: Amsterdam’s Altin Gün Releases a Cinematic and Feverish Visual for “Ordunun Dereleri”

Deriving their name from the Turkish phase for “Golden Day,” the Amsterdam-based Turkish psych pop act Altin Gün — founding member founding member Jasper Verhulst (bass) with Ben Rider (guitar), Erdinç Ecevit Yildiz (keys, saz, vocals), Gino Groneveld (percussion), Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Nic Mauskovic (drums) — can trace their origins to Japser Verhulst’s deep and abiding passion for 60s and 70s Turkish psych pop and folk and to frequent tour stops in Istanbul with a previous band.

As a result of his tour stops in Istanbul, Verhulst wound up discovering a lot of music that wasn’t readily available in his homeland. But as the story goes, he wasn’t just content to listen as an ardent fan, he had a vision of where he could potentially take the sound he loved. “We do have a weak spot for the music of the late ’60s and ’70s,” Verhulst admitted in press notes. “With all the instruments and effects that arrived then, it was an exciting time. Everything was new, and it still feels fresh. We’re not trying to copy it, but these are the sounds we like and we’re trying to make them our own.” The Dutch act actively interpret and reimagine this beloved material through a contemporary 21st century lens. “Of course, since our singers are Turkish, they know many of these pieces. All this is part of the country’s musical past, their heritage, like ‘House of The Rising Sun’ is in America,‘” Verhulst explains.

The act’s sophomore album, last year’s Grammy Award-nominated, critically applauded Gece helped the Amsterdam-based act win further worldwide acclaim for their reimagining of traditional Turkish folk through the lens of psych rock and pop. The band’s highly-anticipated third album Yol, the third album from the Dutch act in three years, finds the act continuing to draw upon the rich and diverse traditions of Turkish and Anatolian folk music. But as a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, the members of the Dutch act was forced to write music in a new way: they traded demos and ideas built around Omnichord, 808 and other elements, including field recordings and New Age-like ideas by email.

“We were basically stuck at home for three months making home demos, with everybody adding their parts,” Altin Gün’s Merve Dasdemir says in press notes. “The transnational feeling maybe comes from that process of swapping demos over the internet, some of the music we did in the studio, but lockdown meant we had to follow a different approach.”

As a result of arrangements featuring Omnichord and 808 — and the new songwriting approach, the album finds the band crafting material that’s a bold, new sonic direction: a sleek, synth-based Europop sound with a dreamy quality that may have been informed by the enforced period of reflection. Additionally, Yol finds the members of Altin Gün enlisting Ghent, Belgium-based production duo Asa Moto — Oliver Geerts and Gilles Noë — to co-produce and mix the album, marking the first time that the band has collaborated with outsiders.

“Ordunun Dereleri,” Yol’s mesmerizing first single finds the Dutch act pairing an old folk standard with an arrangement centered around atmospheric and glistening synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor drumming paired with Mediterranean-like polyrhythmic percussion, shimmering bursts of guitar, a sinuous, motorik groove and plaintive vocals. And while, being a sleek and futuristic push in a new sonic direction, the track finds the band balancing careful and deliberate attention to craft with a dreamy introspection.

Directed by Bob Sizoo and Najim Jansen, the recently released visual for “Ordunun Dereleri” is an incredibly cinematic fever dream that follows the Dutch act’s Erdinç Ecevit Yildiz driving a white BMW through a sodium and fluorescent-lit cityscape and into an eerie forest where he encounters the rest of the band. Even stranger things occur.

Yol is slated for a February 26, 2021 release through ATO Records/Cadence Music Group.

New Audio: Temples Release a Dance Floor Friendly and Kaleidoscopic Sean Ono Lennon-Produced Single

Kettering, Northamptonshire, UK-based indie rock/psych rock act Temples — currently founding members James Bagshaw (vocals, guitar) and Tom Walmsley (bass) with Adam Smith — can trace their origins back to 2012 when its founding members started the band as home-baed studio project, featuring two musicians, who had known each other through their hometown’s scene. 

Bagshaw and Walmsley uploaded four self-produced tracks, which caught the attention of Heavenly Recordings founder and label head Jeff Barrett, who signed the band and agreed to release their debut single “Shelter Song” later that year. Shortly after signing to Heavenly Recordings, Bagshaw and Walmsley recruited Samuel Toms (drums) and Adam Smith to flesh out the band’s live sound — and to complete the band’s first lineup. Since then the band has released two critically applauded and commercially successful albums — 2014’s Sun Structures, which landed at #7 on the UK Charts and 2017’s Volcano.  Building upon a growing profile, the British psych rock act has made appearances across the UK, European Union and North American festival circuits. They’ve shared stages with the likes of Suede, Mystery Jets, Kasabian and The Vaccines among others — but over the past few years, they’ve transitioned into a headlining act that has also made Stateside national television appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

2018 saw a number of major changes for the band: Samuel Toms left the band to focus on his solo recording project Secret Fix, and later joined the equally acclaimed Fat White Family. Temples also left their longtime label home Heavenly Recordings and signed with ATO Records, who released last year’s Hot Motion, which they supported with a busy touring schedule that included a stop at the Desert Daze Festival. The members of Temples caught their labelmates The Claypool Lennon Delirium’s set and shortly after they found themselves chatting about music with them band’s frontman Sean Ono Lennon. 

Several months later, ATO Records asked the band about releasing a previously unreleased Hot Motion sessions track as a single, and they immediately thought of Lennon and asked him to produce the track. “We couldn’t think of any greater mind than his to create with on this track,” the band’s Tom Walmsley says.  “When I first heard the demo for ‘Paraphernalia’ I knew they had a great tune,” says Lennon, who enlisted Dave Fridmann to mix the track.  “Paraphernalia” is a slick and kaleidoscopic synthesis of psych pop and disco pop featuring a sinuous and propulsive, dance floor friendly groove, shimmering guitars, twinkling keys, soaring strings and an anthemic hook paired with Bagshaw’s plaintive vocals. Sonically, the track reminds me of Fantasm-era Starlight Girls  but as the band explains the song is about the disconnect between reality and the online world. “In an age of constant distraction, we all strive to find focus and a sense of calm. ’Paraphernalia’ questions the depth of ‘real’ connections in a digital world,” the band says.