Tag: Baltimore MD

New Audio: Baltimore’s Native Sunz Releases an Atmospheric and Menacing New Single

    Native Sunz is a Baltimore-based production, engineering, licensing and sonic branding agency featuring Frank “R.E.I.G.N.” Reed (songwriting, production, engineering and graphic design), STIXX (production), Lipp J. Allen (writer/artist) Jimmy “Jimmy Proton” a.k.a. “Astronomix” […]

New Video: Lower Dens Releases a Psychedelic Visual for “Hand of God”

Formed back in 2010, the acclaimed Baltimore-based dream pop act Lower Dens can trace its origins to when its primary songwriter and founding member Jana Hunter had grown tired of touring and decided to take a hiatus. For what was supposed to be their final tour as a solo artist, Hunter recruited a backing band which featured Geoff Graham, Abram Sanders and Will Adams. Finding that playing with a band was much more enjoyable to them than playing as a solo artist, helped Hunter form Lower Dens. “During that tour, I realized that it wasn’t the touring life that I hated, but more so that the kind of music I wrote as a solo artist wasn’t something I felt entirely comfortable sharing in performance setting. Lower Dens then was the eventual result of the decision to make music with the specific intention of sharing and enjoying it with others,” Hunter said at the time.

Lower Dens’ full-length debut, Twin Hand Movement was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who compared Hunter’s vocals to those of PJ Harvey and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Dusted Magazine, who praised the album’s lyrics for being “delivered without irony, yet self-aware enough to appreciate the obviousness.” While touring to support Twin Hand Movement, the band began writing on the road — but the limitations of writing on the road forced Hunter to work through a laptop and keyboard rather than a guitar, which lead to an increasing presence of synths on what would become their sophomore album Nootropics.

After they completed the tour to support Twin Hand Movement, the band chose to record their sophomore album at The Key Club Recording Company in Benton Harbor, MI.  Hunter cited the studio’s remote location as an imperative part of the writing and recording process. Geoff Graham added that the amount of time spent in the studio allowed them to add extra dimensions to the material to make it lusher and thicker. Largely influenced by Kraftwerk‘s Radioactivity, Fripp and Eno and David Bowie‘s production on Iggy Pop‘s The Idiot, Nootropics was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork. Rolling Stone and Spin. 

Building upon a growing profile, Lower Dens opened for Beach House and indie rock legends Yo La Tengo at the Baltimore stop of the legendary act’s  2013 Fade tour. The following month, they released “Non Grata” on a split 7″ with Baltimore-based band Horse Lords, an effort that was released as part of the Famous Class LAMC series, which benefited VH1’s Save The Music Foundation. 

2015 saw the release of the band’s third album Escape from Evil, which continued a run of critically applauded albums. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes — with the band now being a duo featuring its founding member and primary songwriter Jana Hunter and Nate Nelson. And during that period, the members of Lower Dens had been working on their highly-anticipated follow up to Escape from Evil, The Competition.

Released last September through their longtime label home Ribbon Music, the album is a pop album with an emotionally and politically urgent concept at its core. Competition, by design is the driving force of modern capitalism and the title is Hunnter’s term for a socio-psychological phenomenon that competition generates — a kind of psychosis that accelerates and amplifies our insecurities and anxieties to the point of overload. And as a result our intimacies, our communities and even our senses of self are corroded and distorted. “The issues that have shaped my life, for better or for worse, have to do with coming from a family and a culture that totally bought into this competitive mindset.  I was wild and in a lot of pain as a kid; home life was very bleak, and pop songs were a guaranteed escape to a mental space where beauty, wonder, and love were possible. I wanted to write songs that might have the potential to do that.”

Last year, the members of Lower Dens opened for hit-making act Of Monsters And Men, and they’ll begin this year with a headlining tour to support the album that starts on February 13, 2020 and includes a March 19, 2020 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. (You can check out the rest of the tour dates below.) In the meantime, the album’s latest single, the glistening and propulsive “Hand of God” is centered around Hunter’s achingly expressive vocals, shimmering synth arpeggios and four-on-the-floor drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. Sonically, the song bears a subtle resemblance to Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” and Songs from the Big Chair-era Tears for Fears — but centered around feelings of arrogance, humility and shame. 

“It’s like Cowboy Krautrock,” Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter says about the song in press notes.  “Imagine a wild west adventure, like City Slickers with the star, a wealthy white man. He’s devised a way to conquer God. He has some kind of vaguely dangerous journey, then comes upon God and declares victory. In his hubris, he goes to shake God’s hand, at which time he is psychedelically humbled, his little brain imploding.”

Directed by Aaron Brown and Robby Piantanida, the recently released video, manages to employ a decidedly DIY approach with a bright psychedelic colors — with Hunter seeing the hands of God. 

New Video: Rapidly Rising Artist Julien Chang Releases a Lysergic Visual for “Memory Loss”

Over the past couple of moths, I’ve written a bit about the rapidly rising, 19-year-old Baltimore-born multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, producer and current university student Julien Chang (pronounced Chong). Chang surprised his peers when he quietly began releasing original music during his senior year in high school. Initially only thought of just as a trombone player, the Baltimore-born, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s earliest material found him playing multiple instruments while meshing pop-leaning melodicism, psych rock and jazz fusion-leaning experimentation and improvisation with a sophistication and self-assuredness that belied his relative youth.

Now as you may recall, those early releases caught the attention of Transgressive Records, the label home of SOPHIE, Let’s Eat Grandma and JOVM mainstay Neon Indian, and the label recently released Chang’s highly anticipated full-length debut Jules last Friday. So far I’ve written about the album’s two previously released singles  — “Of The Past,” a sleek, early 80s-like synth funk-based track centered around dexterous musicianship and pop melodicisim and the slow-burning, Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles-like “Butterflies from Monaco.” Interestingly, the album’s third and latest single “Memory Loss” is centered by syncopated blips and bloops, a sinuous bass line, shimmering synths and Chang’s plaintive falsetto and a yearning for an unreachable and halcyon-tinged past. And while seemingly influenced by 80s synth funk, the song continues a run of incredibly self-assured singles featuring some dazzling musicianship and big hooks.

“A worsening memory is something I’ve always been worried about,” Chang explains. “The song was made with a kind of structural rigidity in mind, and about memory’s natural lack of it when having trouble putting faces to names, for example. It’s easy to be frustrated by that feeling, but being left with a sudden emotional reaction sparked by some stimulus for an unclear reason can be as lovely as it is disorienting.”

Directed and shot by Haoyan of America, the recently released video for “Memory Loss” is shot through a disorientating and lysergic haze with a wistfully nostalgic air, as it’s centered around memories of a  lover, dreamy and easygoing summer days and trippy imagery. “The ‘Memory Loss’ video was shot by Haoyan of America. The vision was totally his, arrived at after spending some time talking to each other about the song,” Chang explains. “That’s what I wanted to do when we first started looking for video directors—find an artist that I trust and have them commit to their own path of inspiration. I think a lot of music videos require the visual artists to bend to the will of the musician. It was really exciting to see Haoyan work as an artist creating something that both augmented my song and stood on its own an independent and magnificent visual piece.” 

New Audio: Julien Chang Releases a Shimmering and Nostalgic Synth Funk-Driven Single

Over the past couple of moths, I’ve written a bit about the rapidly rising, 19-year-old Baltimore-born multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, producer and current university student Julien Chang (pronounced Chong). Chang surprised his peers when he quietly began releasing original music during his senior year in high school. Initially only thought of just as a trombone player, the Baltimore-born, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s earliest material found him playing multi-instruments while meshing pop-leaning melodicism, psych rock and jazz fusion-leaning experimentation and improvisation with a sophistication and self-assuredness that belied his relative youth. 

Now as you may recall, those early releases caught the attention of Transgressive Records, the label home of SOPHIE, Let’s Eat Grandma and JOVM mainstay Neon Indian, and the label will be releasing Chang’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Jules on October 11, 2019. So far I’ve written about the album’s first two singles — “Of The Past,” a sleek, early 80s-like synth funk-based track centered around dexterous musicianship and pop melodicisim and the slow-burning, Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles-like “Butterflies from Monaco.” Interestingly, the album’s third and latest single “Memory Loss” is centered by syncopated blips and bloops, a sinuous bass line, shimmering synths and Chang’s plaintive falsetto and a yearning for an unreachable and halcyon-tinged past. And while  seemingly influenced by 80s synth funk, the song continues a run of incredibly self-assured singles featuring some dazzling musicianship and big hooks. 

 “A worsening memory is something I’ve always been worried about,” Chang explains. “The song was made with a kind of structural rigidity in mind, and about memory’s natural lack of it when having trouble putting faces to names, for example. It’s easy to be frustrated by that feeling, but being left with a sudden emotional reaction sparked by some stimulus for an unclear reason can be as lovely as it is disorienting.”

Formed back in 2010, the acclaimed Baltimore-based dream pop act Lower Dens can trace its origins to when its primary songwriter and founding member Jana Hunter had grown tired of touring and decided to take a hiatus. For what was supposed to be their final tour as a solo artist, Hunter recruited a backing band which featured Geoff Graham, Abram Sanders and Will Adams. Finding that playing with a band was much more enjoyable to them than playing as a solo artist, helped Hunter form Lower Dens. “During that tour, I realized that it wasn’t the touring life that I hated, but more so that the kind of music I wrote as a solo artist wasn’t something I felt entirely comfortable sharing in performance setting. Lower Dens then was the eventual result of the decision to make music with the specific intention of sharing and enjoying it with others,” Hunter said at the time.

Lower Dens’ full-length debut, Twin Hand Movement was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who compared Hunter’s vocals to those of PJ Harvey and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Dusted Magazine, who praised the album’s lyrics for being “delivered without irony, yet self-aware enough to appreciate the obviousness.” While touring to support Twin Hand Movement, the band began writing on the road — but the limitations of writing on the road forced Hunter to work through a laptop and keyboard rather than a guitar, which lead to an increasing presence of synths on what would become their sophomore album Nootropics.

After they completed their tour, the band chose to record their sophomore album at The Key Club Recording Company in Benton Harbor, MI.  Hunter cited the studio’s remote location as an imperative part of the writing and recording process. Geoff Graham added that the amount of time spent in the studio allowed them to add extra dimensions to the material to make it lusher and thicker. Largely influenced by Kraftwerk‘s Radioactivity, Fripp and Eno and David Bowie‘s production on Iggy Pop‘s The IdiotNootropics was released to critical praise from the likes of PitchforkRolling Stone and Spin

Building upon a growing profile, Lower Dens opened for Beach House and indie rock legends Yo La Tengo at the Baltimore stop of the legendary act’s  2013 Fade tour. And the following month, they released “Non Grata” on a split 7″ with Baltimore-based band Horse Lords, an effort that was released as part of the Famous Class LAMC series, which benefited VH1’s Save The Music Foundation

2015 saw the release of the band’s third album Escape from Evil, which continued a run of critically applauded albums. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes — with the band now being a duo featuring its founding member and primary songwriter Jana Hunter and Nate Nelson. And during that period, the members of Lower Dens had been working on their highly-anticipated follow up to Escape from Evil, The Competition.

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through their longtime label home Ribbon Music, and the album is reportedly a pop album with an emotionally and politically urgent concept at its core. Competition, by design is the driving force of modern capitalism and the title is Hunnter’s term for a socio-psychological phenomenon that competition generates — a kind of psychosis that accelerates and amplifies our insecurities and anxieties to the point of overload. And as a result our intimacies, our communities and even our senses of self are corroded and distorted. “The issues that have shaped my life, for better or for worse, have to do with coming from a family and a culture that totally bought into this competitive mindset.  I was wild and in a lot of pain as a kid; home life was very bleak, and pop songs were a guaranteed escape to a mental space where beauty, wonder, and love were possible. I wanted to write songs that might have the potential to do that.”

Interestingly, The Competition‘s third and latest single is the atmospheric and slow-burning synth pop “Galapagos.” Centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a motorik-like groove, a soaring hook, four-on-the-floor drumming and Hunter’s achingly tender vocals, the song evokes an unfulfilled and plaintive longing while sonically recalling Kate Bush and Siouxsie and the Banshees. And it may arguably be one of the most cinematic-leaning songs the act has released to date.

The members of Lower Dens recently announced that they’ll be hitting the road to support their new album. They’ll be opening for Of Monsters And Men for most of the tour with the exception of a three special album releases shows in Los Angeles and Baltimore. The tour will include a September 5, 2019 stop at Radio City Music Hall. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

Tour dates – all dates opening for Of Monsters And Men except where noted:
08/31/19 Baltimore, MD @ Rituals *

09/01/19 Baltimore, MD @ Rituals *

09/04/19 Washington, DC @ The Anthem

09/05/19 New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall

09/08/19 Boston, MA @ Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion

09/10/19 Philadelphia, PA @ Metropolitan Opera House

09/11/19 Toronto, ON @ Budweiser Stage

09/13/19 Chicago, IL @ Aragon Ballroom

09/14/19 Minneapolis, MN @ Surly Brewing Festival Field

09/16/18 Denver, CO @ The Mission Ballroom

09/17/19 Ogden, UT @ Ogden Twilight

09/19/19 Santa Barbara, CA @ Santa Barbara Bowl

09/20/19 Los Angeles, CA @ Lodge Room *

09/22/19 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium

09/24/19 Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater

09/26/19 Seattle, WA @ WaMu Theater

09/27/19 Troutdale, OR @ McMenamins Edgefield

09/28/19 Vancouver, BC @ Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre

10/19/19 Maspeth, NY @ Pitchfork Octfest ^

11/01/19 Houston, TX @ Axelrad Beer Garden *

11/02/19 Mexico City, MX @ RadioBosque Festival ^

* Lower Dens headline show

^ without Of Monsters And Men

New Audio: Baltimore’s Up-and-Coming Julien Chang Releases a Slow-Burning and Lysergic New Single

Last month, I wrote about the up-and-coming, 19-year-old, Baltimore-born multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, producer and current university student Julien Chang (pronounced Chong). And as you may recall, Chang surprised his peers when he began quietly releasing music during his senior year in high school. Initially only thought of as just a trombone player, the Baltimore-born, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer’s early material found him playing multiple instruments and meshing pop-leaning melodicism, psych rock and jazz fusion-leaning experimentation and improvisation with a sophistication and self-assuredness that belies his relative youth. Those early releases caught the attention of Transgressive Records, the label home of SOPHIE, Let’s Eat Grandma and JOVM mainstay Neon Indian, who will be releasing his forthcoming full-length debut.

“Of The Past,” Chang’s debut single and the first official single off his debut EP was a sleek bit of early 80s-like synth-led funk that’s centered around carefully crafted pop melodicism, a sinuous bass line and plaintive vocals. But I think the most interesting aspect of the song was it revealed a dexterous songwriter and musician, who can effortlessly bounce between funk, jazz and pop within a single song — and in a mesmerizing fashion.  “Butterflies from Monaco,” the forthcoming EP’s second single is a a slow-burning track that finds the Baltimore-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer seamlessly meshing the blues, 50s rock, 60s psych rock and pop — but with a lysergic haze reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles. Interestingly, the song was inspired by the concept of the butterfly effect — and as a result, the song focuses on the interconnectedness of all things. 

Julien Chang (pronounced Chong) is an up-and-coming Baltimore-born 19-year-old, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, producer and current university student, who surprised his peers when he began quietly releasing music during his senior year in high school. Interestingly, only thought of as a trombone player, Chang’s early material found him playing multiple instruments and meshing pop-leaning melodies, psych rock and jazz fusion experimentation and improvisation — with a sophistication that belies his relative youth.  Those early releases caught the attention of Transgressive Records, the label home of SOPHIE, Let’s Eat Grandma and JOVM mainstay Neon Indian, who will be releasing his forthcoming full-length debut.
Self-recorded and self-produced in his bedroom, “Of The Past,” Chang’s debut single is a sleek bit of early 80s-like synth-led funk that’s centered around carefully crafted pop melodicism, a sinuous bass line and plaintive vocals — but interestingly, the track reveals a dexterous songwriter and musician, who can effortlessly bounce and dart between funk, jazz and pop in a mesmerizing fashion.
Chang will be embarking on his first ever tour in October — and the tour begins with an October 15, 2019 stop at Baby’s All Right. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.
Tour Dates
10/15 – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right
10/28 – London, UK @ Bermondsey Social Club
10/29 – London, UK @ Servant Jazz Quarters
10/31 – Brussels, BE @ Botanique Witloof Bar
11/01 – Berlin, DE @ Musik & Frieden

New Video: Thievery Corporation Side Project The Archives Set to Release a Reggae Tribute to Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron was a singer/songwriter, poet and multi-instrumentalist, best known for his influential work between the late 1960s and early 80s, which meshed jazz, blues, soul and funk with spoken word and poetry. Lyrically, his work focused on the sociopolitical issues of the Black community, delivered in a style that sort of resembled rapping; in fact, much ink has been spilled on how Scott-Heron’s breakthrough works Pieces of a Man (particularly, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” ) and Winter in America, have had a momentous influence on contemporary music, particularly on hip-hop and neo soul. 

Sadly, during the last decade of his life, Scott-Heron battled drug addiction and as a result  had several stints in and out of prison; however, he managed to remain to be a remarkably prolific artist, writing and recording when he was able. Just before he died, the legendary and influential poet and musician released the critically praised album I’m New Here and finished work on a memoir, which was published posthumously. Interestingly, before he died, he went into the studio and recorded extremely stripped down versions of some of his best known and beloved material, accompanied on piano with no overdubbing or extra studio production that was largely unreleased and unheard until XL Recordings released the material as Nothing New on what would have been the legendary artist’s 65th birthday.  

Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton along with Darryl “Trane” Burke started The Archives as a quest to explore the roots of reggae music. The project’s 2012 self-titled debut was released to critical acclaim. Seven years have passed since their debut, but Burke and Hilton have teamed up to co-produce reggae tribute album celebrating the work of Gil Scott-Heron and his longtime collaborator Brian Jackson that will be released through Hilton’s new label Montserrat House. So what’s the connection between reggae and Gil Scott-Heron, you may be asking? Well, Scott-Heron’s father Gilbert was a famous Jamaican soccer player, who wound up being the first Black player in Scotland’s Celtic League, so the album in some way celebrates the influential poet’s Jamaican heritage, while highlighting his still relevant reflections and thoughts on social justice and chance. “Like Gil’s compositions, reggae contains elements of jazz and soul,“ says Hilton. “It’s the perfect backdrop to Gil’s revolutionary pan-Africanist lyrics.” The album also will feature contributions from Jamaican dub poet Mutabaruka; R&B soul singer Raheem DeVaughn; percussionist Larry McDonald, who was once a member of Scott-Heron’s backing band Amnesia Express; Addis Pablo, the son of reggae legend Augustus Pablo; Kenyatta Hill, the son of Culture’s Joseph Hill; and Brian Jackson, Scott-Heron’s longtime collaborator. 

Released on 1971’s Pieces of a Man, “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” may arguably be one of the most heartbreaking and chilling depictions of the hopelessness of life in the Black ghetto and the toll it takes on the song’s narrator and his neighbors. Centered around a brooding and strutting 70s singer/songwriter soul arrangement, the song fits in perfectly with its time, recalling What’s Going On-era Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Bill Withers — but with a restless bitterness and disillusionment that should feel unsettling to those who are sensitive to the plight of their fellow humans. Seeing its release on what would have been Scott-Heron’s 70th birthday, The Archives first Gil Scott-Heron tribute album single “Home Is Where The Hatred Is,” is a shuffling and brooding reggae version of Scott-Heron’s famous track, featuring Thievery Corporation’s St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands-born vocalist Puma Ptah. And while putting a subtle spin on a familiar and well-known song, The Archives manage to retain the song’s still-relevant emotional weight — it’s bitter, disillusionment and frustration. While many Americans — particularly, Whites — may think reggae is all good times and smiles by the beach, reggae has always been protest music, describing the deplorable conditions, frustrations, hopes and dreams of some of the world’s proudest yet poorest people. Let both versions remind you of the dashed hopes, expectations and dreams of those in the South Bronx; Jamaica, Queens; Baltimore; Chicago’s South Side; Gary, IN; Newark, NJ; Camden, NJ; Ferguson, MO; and countless similar places across the country. Isla

The recently released video is split between footage of Puma Ptah walking through the abandoned apartments and dirty alleyways of the hood, and Ptah with the members of The Archives recording the song in the studio and performing it. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Beach House Releases an Anthemic and Mesmerizing Shoegazer-like Single

Over the course of the site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Baltimore-based JOVM mainstays  Beach House, and as you may recall, the dream pop act comprised of core duo Victoria Legrand (organ, vocals) and Alex Scally (guitar, vocals) have released a number of critically and commercially successful albums, including 2015’s Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, which were written and recorded within a two-and-a-half year period between 2012-2014. 7, the Baltimore-based indie rock’s seventh full-length album continued a run of critically applauded and commercially successful albums with its release earlier this year through Sub Pop Records in North America, Bella Union Records in Europe and Mistletone Records in Australia and New Zealand. 

The recording sessions for 7 found the band working with Spacemen 3‘s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Peter Kember) as a producer — but not in the traditional sense, as he helped the band in their attempts to start anew by shedding conventions and ensuring that the album’s material would be fresh, alive and protected from the tendency of overproduction and perfectionism. “Throughout the process of recording 7, our goal was rebirth and rejuvenation. We wanted to rethink old methods and shed some self-imposed limitations. In the past, we often limited our writing to parts that we could perform live,” Legrand and Scally explain. “On 7, we decided to follow whatever came naturally. As a result, there are some songs with no guitar, and some without keyboard. There are songs with layers and production that we could never recreate live, and that is exciting to us. Basically, we let our creative moods, instead of instrumentation, dictate the album’s feel.

“In the past, the economics of recording have dictated that we write for a year, go to the studio, and record the entire record as quickly as possible. We have always hated this because by the time the recording happens, a certain excitement about older songs has often been lost. This time, we built a ‘home’ studio, and began all of the songs there.  Whenever we had a group of 3-4 songs that we were excited about, we would go to a ‘proper’ recording studio and finish recording them there. This way, the amount of time between the original idea and the finished song was pretty short.”

As the act admits, the societal sense of instability, uncertainty and chaos was deeply influential on the album’s material. “Looking back, there is quite a bit of chaos happening in these songs, and a pervasive dark field that we had little control over. The discussions surrounding women’s issues were a constant source of inspiration and questioning. The energy, lyrics and moods of much of this record grew from ruminations on the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present.” They go on to say that in a general sense, “we are interested by the human mind’s (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny.”

I’ve written about a handful of singles off 7 — “Lemon Glow,” a jangling and atmospheric track centered around Legrand’s ethereal vocals; the shoegazer-like “Dive,” one of the most expansive and ambitious tracks they’ve released; “Dark Spring,” which continued in a similar vein as its predecessor, as it was a shoegazer-like single featuring woozy power chords, twinkling keys and a soaring hook;  “Black Car,” a synth-based track that found the duo pushing their sound away from their known and wining formula; and “Drunk in LA,”  a slow-burning and meditative track centered around arpeggiated synths and Legrand’s ethereal crooning. Interestingly enough, the band’s latest single the Sonic Boom, Jason Quever and Beach House-produced “Alien,” is an outtake from the 7 recording sessions and was originally released a B-side for a limited-edition tour-only 7 inch — and the track manages to bear a semblance to the previously released “Dive,” as it’s an anthemic bit of shoegaze centered around buzzing power chords, twinkling and arpeggiated synths and a rousing hook. While arguably being one of their most arena rock friendly tracks, it manages to possess a subtly mesmerizing quality. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Beach House Releases Trippy Visuals for Mediative Album Single “Drunk in LA”

Throughout a significant portion of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about Baltimore-based JOVM mainstays  Beach House, and as you may recall, the duo which is comprised of founding and primary members  Victoria Legrand (organ, vocals) and Alex Scally (guitar, vocals) have released a number of critically and commercially successful albums, including 2015’s Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, which were written and recorded within a two-and-a-half year period between 2012-2014.
7, the Baltimore-based indie rock’s seventh full-length album was released earlier this year through Sub Pop Records in North America, Bella Union Records in Europe and Mistletone Records in Australia and New Zealand, and the recording sessions found the band working with  Spacemen 3‘s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Peter Kember) as a producer — but not in the traditional sense, as he helped the band in their attempts to start anew by shedding conventions and ensuring that the album’s material would be fresh, alive and protected from the tendency of overproduction and perfectionism.  The album also features the band’s most recent live drummer James Barone, who as the duo say in press notes, helped “keep rhythm at the center of a lot of these songs.”

“Throughout the process of recording 7, our goal was rebirth and rejuvenation. We wanted to rethink old methods and shed some self-imposed limitations. In the past, we often limited our writing to parts that we could perform live,” Legrand and Scally explain. “On 7, we decided to follow whatever came naturally. As a result, there are some songs with no guitar, and some without keyboard. There are songs with layers and production that we could never recreate live, and that is exciting to us. Basically, we let our creative moods, instead of instrumentation, dictate the album’s feel.

“In the past, the economics of recording have dictated that we write for a year, go to the studio, and record the entire record as quickly as possible. We have always hated this because by the time the recording happens, a certain excitement about older songs has often been lost. This time, we built a ‘home’ studio, and began all of the songs there.  Whenever we had a group of 3-4 songs that we were excited about, we would go to a ‘proper’ recording studio and finish recording them there. This way, the amount of time between the original idea and the finished song was pretty short.”

As the act admits, the societal sense of instability, uncertainty and chaos was deeply influential on the album’s material. “Looking back, there is quite a bit of chaos happening in these songs, and a pervasive dark field that we had little control over. The discussions surrounding women’s issues were a constant source of inspiration and questioning. The energy, lyrics and moods of much of this record grew from ruminations on the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present.” They go on to say that in a general sense, “we are interested by the human mind’s (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny.”

So far, Beach House has released a handful of singles off the album — “Lemon Glow,” a jangling and atmospheric track centered around Legrand’s ethereal vocals; the shoegazer-like “Dive,” one of the most expansive and ambitious tracks they’ve released; “Dark Spring,” a shoegazer-like single featuring woozy power chords, twinkling keys and a soaring hook; and “Black Car,” which found the duo gently pushing their sound away from their known formula as it was centered around arpeggiated and atmospheric synths.  Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Drunk in LA” differs from the video version, as Kember remixed the song for the video, making the focus of the slow-burning and meditative poem-like song Legrand’s ethereal vocals and the arpeggiated synths, which as the duo says highlights the lonesome quality of the song — but it also evokes the sort of lonely regret that comes about late at night, when you’re left to contemplate the events of your life. 

As the duo say of the video treatment, “While mixing the record with Alan Moulder in London, we were out having dinner and Pete mentioned an idea for a video where the viewer is always looking up from the ground. This became the ‘Drunk in LA’ video. When he sent it to us, we complimented and commented on the trippy, dreamlike nature of the video and he wrote that it was essentially just a day in his life.”