Tag: Beach House

New Video: Meggie Lennon Releases a Feverish Visual for Shimmering “Night Shift”

Meggie Lennon is a Montreal-based singer/songwriter, who started her career as the frontperson of acclaimed indie pop/indie rock outfit Abrdeen, an act that received an  Alternative Independent Music Gala of Quebec (GAMIQ) nomination for 2017’s Endless Dreams and Dreamlike Mornings EP.

Abrdeen supported their material touring with a number of indie acts including Good Morning, JOVM mainstays Elephant Stone, The Dears, Julie Doiron, Sugar Candy Mountain and Laura Sauvage. And the band made the rounds of the provincial festival circuit with stops at POP Montreal, M for Montreal and FME. Additionally, Lennon developed a reputation as a go-to collaborator, lending her vocals to material by Debbie Tebbs, Lucill and Super Plage.

Lennon fully steps out into the spotlight as a solo artist with the July 9, 2021 release of her Samuel Gemme-produced full-length debut Sounds From Your Lips through Mothland. Featuring guest sports from Elephant Stone’s Gabriel Lambert and her longtime friend and collaborator, Super Plage’s Jules Henry, the album finds Lennon and her collaborators crafting a sound that meshes late 60s and early 70s psych, The Byrds, T.Rex, Melody’s Echo Chamber, MGMT, and Beach House into something that Lennon describes as “make-out dream-pop” with a glowing and infectious sense of optimism.

Sounds From Your Lips’ first single, album opening track “Night Shift” is heavily indebted to Scott Walker psych pop as the track features a gorgeous arrangement of soaring strings, twinkling Wurlitzer and a sultry yet propulsive groove paired with Lennon’s breathy vocals and fuzzy guitars within an alternating quiet, loud, quiet song structure, a trippy break. And as a result, the song manages to capture the intimate thoughts of late night trips home — but with a cinematic grandeur.

“The first part of the song came to me while cycling home back from L’Esco after a wild night. I was on a Box and the streets were completely empty,” Lennon explains. “I was riding fast through the night and it felt both meditative and exhilarating – this feeling is reflected in the dreamy verses and then heavier guitar crescendo at the end. When we got in the studio, I laid the lead track on the Wurli and it all came naturally. The second part, ‘take a glimpse outside,’ came while doodling on the synth. We were in the studio without windows but we both went outside and the sun blinded us, the lyrics were inspired by this.”

Directed by Marielle Normandin Pageau, the recently released visual for “Night Shift” is a gorgeous visual featuring sequences shot during golden hour, with others shot through dreamy filters to evoke the a feverish and hallucinogenic vibe.

Portland-based indie act CHAD  — founding members Sarah Lane and  Trevor Greely along with Zach Whiton and Alex Widner — can trace its origins to the split up of its founding members’ previous band. And since the release of their debut single, the  Cameron Spies-produced “I Got Time,” the Portland-based quartet have released an EP which established a lush  Beach House-like sound centered around shimmering synths and Lane’s gorgeous vocals.

The rising Portland-based act’s first single of the year — and the follow-up to last year’s Good Talk EP is “Days of Chunder.” Recorded at Rainer, WA– based STackSound Studio with Stephen Berkley Tack, “Days of Chunder” is a lush, synth-driven bit of dream pop, indebted to 80s New Wave featuring dramatic and propulsive drumming paired with Lane’s achingly plaintive vocals and a sinuous bass line. Interestingly, the single, much like their previously released material is inspired by and is reflective of the time we’ve lived in: As the band explains, the song thematically is about how it can feel to have your energy drained by people, who don’t have your best interests at heart.

New VIdeo: Paris’ Fleur bleu.e Releases a Lo-Fi and Trippy Visual for Shimmering “STOLT 89”

Deriving their name from a French expression that gently mocks sappy lovers, the Paris-based indie rock duo Fleur bleu.e — Delphine and Vladimir — features two accomplished musicians, who have been performing and writing music since they were both children: Vladimir was a guitarist in French garage rock band Brats, an act that recorded and released a Yarol Popouard-produced album that was supported with touring across France with BB Brunes. Delphine began playing cello in classical orchestras before learning guitar and playing at alternative festivals across Paris with her first band Le Studio Jaune.

When the duo met in 2019, they bonded over a mutual love of The Smiths, Beach House, Françoise Hardy and Elli et Jacno among others, and a desire to craft music that was emotionally ambiguous while being fueled by their teenage myths. Seemingly influenced by dramas and nightmares, their artistic vision is to go beyond the prism of the gender binary and call upon the listener to express their fragility, celebrating one’s inner world and the beauty in imperfections.

They released their critically applauded single “Horizon” late last year and building upon a buzz worthy profile in their native France, the duo released their Ben Etter-produced second single “STOLT 89” earlier this month. Centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive yet simple backbeat and Delphine’s gorgeous vocals, the song sonically — to my ears, at least — brings Bloom-era Beach House to mind while being an emotionally ambiguous feminist manifesto. 

The recently released video for “STOLT 89” employs a decidedly DIY aesthetic that features the duo goofing off in front of a green screen — and throughout, the video has a blown-out, fuzzy quality reminiscent of public access TV

Deriving their name from a French expression that gently mocks sappy lovers, the Paris-based indie rock duo Fleur bleu.e — Delphine and Vladimir — features two accomplished musicians, who have been performing and writing music since they were both children: Vladimir was a guitarist in French garage rock band Brats, an act that recorded and released a Yarol Popouard-produced album that was supported with touring across France with BB Brunes. Delphine began playing cello in classical orchestras before learning guitar and playing at alternative festivals across Paris with her first band Le Studio Jaune.

When the duo met in 2019, they bonded over a mutual love of The Smiths, Beach House, Françoise Hardy and Elli et Jacno among others, and a desire to craft music that was emotionally ambiguous while being fueled by their teenage myths. Seemingly influenced by dramas and nightmares, their artistic vision is to go beyond the prism of the gender binary and call upon the listener to express their fragility, celebrating one’s inner world and the beauty in imperfections.

They released their critically applauded single “Horizon” late last year and building upon a buzz worthy profile in their native France, the duo released their Ben Etter-produced second single earlier this month. Centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive yet simple backbeat and Delphine’s gorgeous vocals, the song sonically — to my ears, at least — brings Bloom-era Beach House to mind while being an emotionally ambiguous feminist manifesto.

Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays Junaco — Shahanna Jaffer and Joey LaRosa — derive their name for a term that they say generally means rolling with the pace of life and enjoying the present; living and working with intention, and not just running on autopilot. Much like the term that inspired their name, the duo have developed and honed a deliberate creative approach, decided to eschew the commonly-held attempts to placate the blogosphere’s short attention span with constant releases of varying quality.

Over the past few months, the duo have been busy releasing material including two singles, which I’ve written about:

  • In Between (Reprise) ” an even more ethereal and softer take on their Omar Yakar-produced Awry EP single “In Between” that retained the confusing sensations of uncertainty and progress.
  • Blue Room” a gorgeous bit of hook driven indie rock that’s both a sigh of contentedness and frustration that thematically touches upon a familiar concept to all of us — that home can be a place of safety, security, peace and love, as well as a place full of stifling boredom and uncertainty.

The Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays’ latest single “Weight Of The World” is a slow-burning bit of jangling dream pop that to my ears brings Beach House to mind, as Jaffer’s achingly soulful vocals are paired with an arrangement that features lush and swirling layers of shimmering and jangling guitars drenched with reverb, atmospheric synths, a chugging rhythm section and a soaring hook. And much like the rest of their gorgeous and heartfelt work, “Weight Of The World” dives headfirst into the experience of slowing down to look around and dig what’s around you.

“When we were writing the new tunes, we were listening to a lot of Amo Amo, Big Thief, Rodrigo Amarante, Sam Evian, Broncho & Hannah Cohen,” the JOVM mainstays explain. “The writing style of ‘Weight of the World’ was inspired a lot by Mike Viola‘s record The American Egypt. His songs are so visual and visceral, he really puts you there with him. It feels like all your senses are activated when listening. When writing this song, we felt like we had a strong message to convey — being overwhelmed with the constant change and forward motion & evolution towards what feels like being less human. We were heavily inspired by this podcast, The Time Sensitive podcast episode with Jesse Kamm, where she talks about the quality of life and level of happiness when communities are full of creation & purpose, something we may have lost when big corporations began to seep into our everyday lives. 

“It was a lot of fun to work on this song with producer James McAlister and our great friend and collaborator Tejas Leier Heyden. It was actually written as a somber piano ballad and we had no idea what we wanted it to be when we went into the studio, so it was a lot of fun experimenting with the possibilities.” 

The new track is a part of a much bigger project, a 360 degree music and art project coming together as a forthcoming EP.

Oakland-based dream pop trio There’s Talk — Olivia Lee, Kellen Balla and Young Lee — have developed and honed a sound that balances elements of experimental electro pop and reverb-drenched shoegaze in a way that has drawn comparisons to JOVM mainstays Beach House and M83.

Thematically, the tiro’s work draws from Olivia Lee’s Chinese heritage and queer identity, while specifically touching upon family, both biological and chosen — and divine coincidence. But interestingly enough, their sophomore EP, last year’s Great Falls focuses on mourning, grief, memories and longing inspired by the loss of someone very dear to the band’s frontperson. “Grief does not cease,” Olivia Lee writes on the band’s website, “It becomes a sort of friend to hold, and a reminder that we are alive to honor, to remember, to be present, to have a future and to live it as fully as you could ever dream.”

Great Falls‘ latest single “Ascension” is a hazy and slow-burning track centered around twinkling keys, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, Olivia Lee’s plaintive and ethereal vocals and a soaring hook. Bearing a resemblance to Bloom and Thank Your Lucky Stars/Depression Cherry-era Beach House and SoftSpot’s Clearing, “Ascension” feels like a half-remembered yet vivid dream fueled by longing and life’s sad lack of closure in anything.

New Video: The Besnard Lakes Release a Lysergic and Feverish Visual for Shimmering and Slow-Burning “Feuds With Guns”

Deriving their name from Besnard Lake in North Central Saskatchewan, the acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated Montreal-based indie rock act The Besnard Lakes — currently, husband and wife duo Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys) and Olga Goreas (vocals, bass), along with Kevin Laing (drums), Richard White (guitar), Sheenah Ko (keys) and Robbie MacArthur (guitar) — formed back in 2003. And since their formation, the Montreal-based sextet have five albums of atmospheric and textured shoegaze that some critics have described as magisterial and cinematic.

After the release of their fifth album, 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, The Besnard Lakes and their longtime label home Jagjaguwar mutually decided that it was time to end their relationship and go their separate ways. And as a result, the members of the band began to question whether or not it made sense to even continue the band. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the acclaimed Canadian act settled in to write and record what may arguably be the most uncompromising effort of their catalog, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Unlike their previously released material, the members of the Montreal-based went with a much more patient creative approach, taking all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Some of the album’s songs are old, tracing their origins to resurrected demos left on the shelf years before. Other songs were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek and Goreas’ Riguard Ranch, with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound.

Thematically, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings finds the band contemplating the darkness of dying, the light on the other side, and coming back from the brink of annihilation. And while touching upon the band’s own story, the album also is a remembrance of dear loved ones, who are no longer with us — particularly Lasek’s father, who died last year. From what Lasek observed of his father’s death, being on one’s deathbed may be the most intense psychedelic trip of anyone’s life” at one point Lasek’s father surfaced from a morphine-induced dream, talking about how he saw a “window” on his blanket, with “a carpenter inside of it, making objects.” And as a result, the album’s material is imbued with a surreal and ethereal quality.

Earlier this year, I wrote about The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings’ first single “Raindrops,” a slow-burning shoegazer with a painterly attention to gradation and texture, centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook. Interestingly, the album’s second single is the slow-burning, dream pop-like “Feuds With Guns.” Centered around an atmospheric and spacious arrangement featuring thunderous drumming, anthemic power chord-based riffs, twinkling keys, plaintive vocals and a soaring hook, “Feuds With Guns” sonically speaking, is one part Prince, one part Beach House.

“‘Feuds With Guns’ is one of the first songs written from our upcoming LP. This one is a good slow-dancer!” The members of The Besnard Lakes explain to Under The Radar ” Written almost entirely in the Cabanon at The Rigaud Ranch, this one started out as an organ and drum idea that morphed into a little OMD-style pop song.”

Directed by Dr. Cool, the recently released animated video for “Feuds With Guns” is a lysergic fever dream that features divers taking a dive, flying airplanes, cars and vans in front of a bright yellow sun. “I rotoscoped a couple of the big dives from a video of an extreme high-diving contest that took place in the 80s. About a week after I had animated the first guy’s big jump, I returned to the video to check out some other usable clips,” Dr. Cool explains in press notes. “I realized I had never watched the full clip of the first jump — I had just stopped once he hit the water. I found out that after he lands in the water he floats back up unconscious and then gets taken away on a stretcher. So now what was I supposed to do? People in the comments were asking what had happened but no one knew the answer. After a bunch of snooping around the internet I found the guy’s Facebook and he’s TOTALLY alive. His name is Pat and he lives in Florida. I messaged him but he hasn’t answered.”

The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Fat Cat Records here in the States and through Flemish Eye in their native Canada.

Musings: A Decade of JOVM

I started this site 10 years ago today. . .

There aren’t many things in my life that I’ve done for every single day for a decade that I’ve loved as much as this very unique little corner of the blogosphere. When I started this site, I  didn’t — and couldn’t — imagine actually having readers, let alone readers across the US, Canada, the UK, the European Union, Australia and elsewhere. After all, this sort of work is deeply rewarding and yet strangely isolating.

I couldn’t have imagined the over 1,000 shows I’ve covered all across the New York Metropolitan area. I definitely couldn’t have imagined it being possible for be to cover shows for JOVM in Chicago while on a business trip for a day job; nor would I have dreamed of the possibility of covering M for Montreal last fall.

I couldn’t have imagined being a panelist on a Mondo.NYC Festival panel on PR and promotion for indie artists.

I couldn’t have imagined having a cameo in a JOVM mainstay’s video several years ago. (It’s a noticeable and prominent spot towards the end of the video, too. No one has called me up for acting gigs, so I may need more work on that. Or I need to stick to the writing and photography!)

I couldn’t have imagined photographing Patti LaBelle, Snoop Dogg, Charles Bradley  Sharon Jones, Nile Rodgers, Roky Erickson, Philip Bailey and so many others, as well as this site’s countless mainstays.

What will the next decade hold? I don’t know. If you asked me that question last November, I’d probably discuss my the very real possibility of repeated visits to Canada for festivals like Canadian Music Week, Montreal Jazz Fest and M for Montreal — with the hopes of building a deeper Canadian audience. I’d talk about my interest in music from across the African Diaspora. I’d spend time talking about my interest in covering acts outside the US. I’d also speak about my interest in wanting to cover more artists across the diverse LGQBTIA+ community  — particularly those of color. I’d probably also mention my deep and abiding interest in covering women artists and women led acts.

Live music won’t be a thing for quite some time to come. And whenever it does, the landscape will be different — and something we’ve yet to envision. So far, beloved venues have been forced to close because of economics. That will continue for the foreseeable future. What will happen to bands, who no longer have a place to play, where they can hone their sound and their live show? Who knows? After watching an industry-based panel, I don’t feel particularly optimistic about things in the short term. Some of us will figure out a way to adapt and survive; others sadly, won’t.

But in the meantime, JOVM will continue. It’s only the first decade, as far as I’m concerned!

**

I also wanted to talk a bit about some of my favorite albums of the past decade. This is by no means a comprehensive list; but I think that they might give some insight into the inner world of JOVM. And

Montreal-based DJ, production and electronic music artist duo The Beat Escape — Addy Weitzman and Patrick A. Boivin — can trace the project’s origins back to a short film they collaborated on when they were both in college. “We made a short oddball work; a video piece that followed two characters through a psychedelic waking dream,” the Montreal-based said of their initial collaboration together in press notes. Interestingly, since that collaboration, Weitzman and Boivin have continued working together on a series of creative endeavors that have combined their interests in music and visual art, including a lengthy local DJ gig, which eventually led to the creation of The Beat Escape.

Released in early 2018, the Montreal-based duo’s full-length debut Life Is Short The Answer’s Long thematically and sonically found the duo returning to their origins — somnambulant, atmospheric art that feels like a half-remembered waking dream. Personally, the album’s material evokes a weird two-and-year period of international and domestic travel, in which I’d wake up in a hotel room and briefly wonder where I was, what time zone I was in and if I was even in the right place. Additionally, it evokes that weird sensation of everything being the fundamentally the same, yet different. If I’m in Grand Central Terminal, I think of Frankfurt-am-Main Hauptbahnhof and of Amsterdam Centraal Station. If I’m traveling underneath an elevated train, I’m reminded of the Chicago loop and so on.

I obsessively played Life Is Short The Answer’s Short through my time in Montreal. And now whenever I play it, I can picture specific locations, specific paths I took to get there, certain Metro stations with an uncanny precision.

Throughout the course of the site’s decade history, I’ve written quite a bit about Superhuman Happiness. The act has managed to survive through a number of different lineup changes and sonic departures necessitated by those lineup changes — and from the act’s core members following wherever their muses took them, Hands though is a joyous, mischievous yet deeply intelligent work that will make you shout and dance. Considering the bleakness of our world, this album may be much more needed than they ever anticipated.

Deriving their name from a Vladimir Nabokov short story about a traveler, who finds a place so beautiful that he wants to spend his life then but who cruelly  gets dragged back to brutal reality, the Dublin, Ireland-based act Cloud Castle Lake — currently Daniel McAuley (vocals, synths), Brendan William Jenkinson (guitar, piano), Rory O’Connor (bass), Brendan Doherty (drums), and a rotating cast of collaborators, friends and associates — received attention with 2014’s self-released debut EP Dandelion, an effort that firmly established the act’s uniquely sound: deeply influenced by and indebted to  Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders, the Irish act pairs McAuley’s tender and soaring falsetto with cinematic arrangements and expansive song structur es.

Released in 2018, the act’s Rob Kirwan-produced debut Malingerer is an ambitious, challenging and breathtakingly beautiful work that’s part film score and part cosmic meditation, full of aching yearning.

A couple of years ago, I caught the Irish act play at Rockwood Music Hall, as part of the Lower East Side venue’s monthly Communion showcase — and their set was met with awed and reverential silence.

Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan — Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar) — have one of the most unique and perhaps most 21st Century backstories of any band I’ve ever written about: four of the band’s five members emigrated to Sweden from South America with the remaining member being the band’s only native Swede. With the release of their debut album, 2015’s Caballo Negro, the members of Sudakistan received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for crafting material that draws from Latin-tinged garage punk rock with lyrics sung in English, Spanish and Swedish. Interestingly, the alum is arguably hardest and most mosh pit friendly of the band’s albums to date, the album’s material found the band expanding their sound through the incorporation of non-traditional punk rock instruments — seemingly inspired by the band’s desire to make each of their individual roles to be much more fluid. . “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” the band’s Michell Serrano explains in press notes. . “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”

Additionally, the album’s lyrical and thematic concerns draws from the band members’ everyday reality with each individual member contributing lyrical ideas. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.

The album’s material resonates in an age of divisiveness, xenophobia, fear mongering and strife because its an urgent and passionate reminder of what’s possible with cultural exchange, empathy and curiosity —  bold new ideas, new takes on the familiar, as well as equality for all with everyone’s story behind heard, understood and championed. One day that will happen but we will have to work our asses off to get there.