Tag: Beacon The Ways We Separate

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!

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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.

New Video: Up-and-Coming Canadian Duo Always Never Releases Dark and Seductive Visuals for “Wylin'”

Always Never is an up-and-coming Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based electro pop production and artist duo, comprised of Patrick Kirschner (vocals) and Dean Guilbault (production) — and with the release of “Millions,” “No Good,” “Morgan Freeman” and “Dangerous,” off their recently released self-titled debut, the Canadian duo have been compared to the likes of Majid Jordan, Miguel and The Weeknd among others — although with the attention grabbing single “Wylin,” the duo’s sound strikes me as bearing a closer resemblance to For Now and The Ways We Separate-era Beacon, as Kirschner’s soulful yet tender vocals are paired with gauzy, atmospheric and yet super modern productions featuring stuttering beats, tweeter and woofer rocking low end and infectious hooks; in fact, much like Beacon, the duo’s sound possesses a pensive, late night vibe, full of regret, confusion and longing.

Directed by Kid Studio, best known for his work on videos for The Weeknd, Big Sean and 6LACK, the recently released video is dark, murky, and dramatic — and features illicit drug use, overdosing, late night seduction and murder, but centered around a trippy and mind-altering series of flashbacks that further evoke the song’s regret, confusion and longing. 

Always Never is an up-and-coming Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based electro pop production and artist duo, comprised of Patrick Kirschner (vocals) and Dean Guilbault (production) — and with the release of “Millions,” “No Good,” “Morgan Freeman” and “Dangerous,” off their recently released self-titled debut, the Canadian duo have been compared to the likes of Majid Jordan, Miguel and The Weeknd among others — although with the attention grabbing single “Wylin,” the duo’s sound strikes me as bearing a closer resemblance to For Now and The Ways We Separate-era Beacon, as Kirschner’s soulful yet tender vocals are paired with gauzy, atmospheric and yet super modern productions featuring stuttering beats, tweeter and woofer rocking low end and infectious hooks; in fact, much like Beacon, the duo’s sound possesses a pensive, late night vibe, full of regret, confusion and longing.

 

 

 

New Audio: Black Summer’s Subtle Yet Moody Remix of Australian-born Viral Sensation Xavier Dunn

Xavier Dunn is an up-and-coming, Sydney, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter, producer and electronic artist, who first came to international prominence with a series of acoustic covers that included 3 Hype Machine #1s, a Spotify Global Viral Charts #2, a Spotify US Viral Charts #1, a Spotify Australia Viral Chart #1 and over 22 million Spotify streams to date. Last month, Dunn released the critically applauded “Isic Tutor,” an ethereal bit of neo soul that features Dunn’s tender and aching falsetto paired with a ambient production consisting of thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and gently swirling synths and electronics within a song that immediately brought to mind Beacon’s For Now EP and The Ways We Separate — but centered around the ebbs and flows of a rather tumultuous relationship and in part the strange wisdom of Isic, an AI character from the video game Battleborn.

Recently, one of Australia’s most exciting up-and-coming producers — and perhaps one of their youngest to reach national attention, Black Summer, a 14 year old EDM producer, who was first discovered by Triple J when he was 11, remixed Dunn’s ambient “Isic Tutor,” and while retaining the aching and tender falsetto vocals of the original and some of the ethereal and ambient electronics of the original, adds skittering drum programming and a live drum sample, which manages to gently speed up the tempo while remaining unhurried and moody. 

Comprised of Irish-born, Los Angeles-based producer Mike Slott and New York-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and composer Diane Badie, the electro pop duo Lesser Pieces can trace their origins to when the duo began collaborating together on writing sessions for their own individual solo efforts while they were both in Brooklyn. Their first track together “Nightingale” caught the attention of renowned producer Paul Epworth, who’s worked with the likes of Adele and FKA Twigs, and who would not only work with Slott and Badie on another project, he would also introduce them to their future producer and collaborator Patrick Ford.

Slott’s and Badie’s latest single, the slow-burning and atmospheric “Texas” finds the duo pairing Badie’s ethereal, siren-like vocals with a slick and contemporary production consisting of arpeggiated synths, stuttering boom bap-like beats and a soaring hook. And while being reminiscent of For Now and The Ways We Separate-era Beacon and ACES, the track as the duo explains sums up the feeling of “future/past promises and the wish for something eternal” — that most likely may never be possible. And as a result, the song possesses an enigmatic and ambivalent nature; in some way it’s chilly yet comes from a deeply personal place. Interestingly enough, as the duo note, the song was inspired by a close friend, who had contacted them with some tough and heartbreaking news. As the duo says in press notes, what was happening in her life “just felt so incredibly heavy ad also strangely bittersweet that it naturally came out in our music.”

 

 

 

 

Comprised of  Amber Lane-Mcivor, Jake Blythe and Oliver Lamb, the Manchester, UK-based electro pop trio Ambiere have received attention from the blogosphere and BBC Introducing over the past year for a sound that’s drawn comparisons to the likes of Portishead and The xx among others. Building upon a breakthrough year and a growing profile, the Manchester-based electro pop act’s latest single “I See Faces” finds the act pairing strummed, electric guitar and Lane-Mcivor’s gorgeous and soulful vocals with a lush and effortlessly slick production consisting of arpeggiated and shimmering synths, propulsive yet stuttering beats and a soaring hook. And while their latest single manages to simultaneously be both radio and club friendly, their sound — to my ears at least — reminds me of Ways We Separate and Escapements-era Beacon, as the British trio manages to evoke similar, lingering ghosts.

 

 

New Video: King Artur, One-Third of Finnish, Electro Pop Act Beverly Girl Releases Atmospheric, Solo, Single

King Artur is a singer/songwriter and steel guitarist, who splits time between his Helsinki, Finland and New York, and is best known as being a member of renowned Finnish electro pop/electro funk act Beverly Girl — although he has collaborated with the likes of Bill Laswell, James Chance, Defunkt’s Joseph Bowie and The Campbell Brothers and others, as well as played at SummerStage, Flow Festival and Pride Helsinki; however, as a solo artist, King Artur’s work finds him pairing his steel guitar with unorthodox synth and electronica-leaning soundscapes as you’ll hear on his atmospheric, solo debut “Talk My Shadow,” a single, which interestingly enough reminds me of Beacon’s For Now EP and The Ways We Separate as swirling synths are paired with finger snaps, thumping beats and King Arthur’s breathy cooing to create a song that’s darkly seductive. 

Directed by renowned Finnish director Jarno Marjamäki, the slick, hyper modern video features King Arthur and Finnish dancer Sanna Hoang in a series of artsy yet surreal scenarios. 

New Video: The Melancholy Sounds and Visuals of Amsterdam’s Nambyar

Nambyar is a half-Fijian, half-Dutch, Amsterdam, The Netherlands based alt R&B/electro pop singer/songwriter, whose music career was initially centered around guitar-driven melodies and band-leaning projects; however, the Amsterdam-based singer/songwriter can trace the origins of his solo recording career to when he began writing songs on an PolySix and Prophet analog studios in his own studio — and interestingly enough, the solitary time resulted in his uninhibited and bracingly honest, new single “Once More,” a bold statement of an artist and a man, finally letting go of his past and moving forward to a new and uncertain future, alone. In fact, as the Dutch-born singer/songwriter explains “Alone for the firs time, I didn’t need to listen to others and was able to focus on what I wanted to tell,The stripped-down production was layered with three synths, while the high-pitched vocal samples are taken from an old Italian singer, which I pitched to create the grid of the whole song.” 

Sonically speaking, Nambyar’s latest single reminds me quite a bit of Beacon’s initial releases — namely For Now EP and The Ways We Separate, as his achingly tender vocals singing deeply confessional, viscerally honest lyrics are paired with a sparse, ambient-leaning production to create an overall aesthetic that’s eerily spectral and mournful; it’s the sound of someone, who’s lead a full and messy life, reflecting back on it and being haunted by the ghosts of it; of someone who’s readily recognized that we often are drawn to people and situations for reasons we can never really explain; of someone, who recognizes that the relationship at the center of the song is heading towards an inevitable finality; but underneath the surface is a narrator, who’s desperate to free himself and live the life he feels fit — at all costs. 

Directed by Theo Captein, the recently released video for “Once More,” is based around a fairly simple concept that Nambyar came up with, as the video features the Amsterdam-based singer/songwriter earnestly brooding in a stark, white room but shot with slow-motion techniques, shallow depth of field, a shattered mirror and an animated bleeding-heart — all of which further emphasize the melancholy  nature of the song. 

Emmit Fenn is Berkeley, CA-based indie electro pop artist, who describes his sound and aesthetic as being at the intersection of Flume and James Blake — and as you’ll hear on his latest single “Woman,” Fenn pairs his tender and aching crooned volcano with a minimalist production consisting of propulsive, boom-bap like drumming and gently swirling electronics and shimmering synths to create a sound that reminds me quite a bit of The Ways We Separate-era Beacon but with a plaintive sensuality at its core.

New Video: The Futuristic Visuals and Genre Mashing Sounds of BASECAMP’s “The Hunter”

Now, if you had frequented this site back in 2015, you would have come across a handful of posts featuring the Nashville, TN-based electro pop trio BASECAMP. Comprised of producers and songwriters Aaron Miller, Aaron C. Harmon and Jordan Reyes, the electro pop trio can trace their origins to when the trio started to collaborate together to write. Quickly realized that they had a strong creative chemistry, the trio founded BASECAMP and with the release of their 2013 debut EP, which featured standout tracks “Emmanuel” and “Smoke Filled Lungs,” the Nashville-based trio received attention both locally and nationally for a genre-mashing sound featuring R&B-like melodies, thumping bass lines, percussive beats, unpredictable tempo changes paired with glitchy electronics and organic instrumentation. And as a result of the attention they had begun to receive, the members of BASECAMP toured across the States with CHVRCHES and Phantogram before signing to Skrillex’s boutique label OWSLA, which released their impressive 2015 sophomore effort Greater Than EP, which featured one of my favorite singles of that year “Watch My Back.”

Since the release of Greater Than, the Nashville-based electro pop trio have been rather busy, working on and releasing two stand-alone collaborations “Comfort Zone’ with Jamie Lidell and “In My Veins” with Del The Funky Homosapien, and the In Stone EP, an effort which further cemented the trio’s reputation for a genre mashing sound and tempo changes; but arguably with a greater sense of sonic and thematic cohesion, while revealing much more introspective songwriting. After successful tours across Europe and North America — with shows at TEDx, Colors Berlin and Summit At Sea — the trio released “The Hunter” Remix package, which features remixes from the trio’s friends and frequent collaborators — Jamie Lidell, Yeo and Deebs.

In the meantime though, “The Hunter” is a refinement of their imitable sound and production as the song finds the trio pairing earnest and soulful vocals with stuttering and glitchy beats, swirling electronics — and in some way, the song reminds me of Timbaland’s revolutionary collaborations with Missy Elliot and Justin Timberlake in the 90s and 00s and of Beacon’s The Ways We Separate and Escapements, thanks in part to a swooning, uneasiness that the song’s narrator expresses in describing a relationship that seems to heighten his own self-doubts and has him wondering if he is hunter or prey — or perhaps both simultaneously. It also captures the odd sense in almost every romantic relationship in which neither party could tell what their relationship actually is or what their intentions are; but both are fearful of the perceived inevitable heartache they expect.

Directed, by BLAWKNO, from the GLO.Digital collective, the recently released video uses 3D scans of each member and fuses CG with live-action video as a play on the concept of perception vs. reality while giving the proceedings a hyper futuristic and alien sensibility.