Tag: Beacon

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Beacon Share Brooding and Uneasy “Harm”

Longtime JOVM mainstays Beacon released their highly-anticipated and long-awaited fourth album  Along the Lethe today through their own imprint, Apparent Movement. The pandemic forced the duo to change their creative approach again but reportedly, the end result is a gorgeous and brooding album meant to make the listener stop and reflect. 

The duo wrote, recorded and produced the album during a period of extreme uncertainty in the pandemic, with the band’s Thomas Mullarney III explaining: “I was haunted by this feeling of history intruding on our reality as lockdown descended on NYC, I was reading a book called The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth about the apocalyptic aftermath of the Norman Invasion of England in 1066, written in a ‘shadow tongue’ combining old and modern english. This uncanniness followed me through the pandemic.” Thematically, Along the Lethe is as much about the allure of forgetting tragedy as it is the need to maintain our connections to the past. But Lethe it may arguably be the most eclectic, expansive album of their growing catalog to date. As the band’s Jacob Gossett says, “It feels like a record without restraints.” 

So far I’ve written about four of the album’s singles:

  • Until Next Time,” the first bit of new material from the duo in over two years. The single revealed a fresh, new aesthetic rooted in contrasts: Rumbling electronic feedback and noise gives way to a swirling and twinkling piano-led melody paired with Mullarney’s achingly delicate falsetto, trembling metronomic beats and swirling static, which rises and crashes into Mullarney’s vocals. 
  • Can’t Turn Back,” a stunning and seemingly effortless mesh of electronic music genres, timbres and moods centered around UK garage-like rhythms, twinkling synth arpeggios, skittering beats and atmospheric pads while Mullarney III sings of losing himself “in the constant dark” with achingly delicate vocals. As part of an album largely written during pandemic-related quarantines, the specter of hopelessness, uncertainty and struggle looms large — and yet, the song attempts to keep the existential doom at bay, while looking upward. 
  • “Ostrich” is a mesmerizing piano-driven song featuring contributions from multi-instrumentalist Colin Stetson, who contributes fluttering and mournful horns and woodwinds into the song’s gently swelling electronic noise. Inspired by a tuning technique used by The Velvet Underground’s Lou Reed and John Cale, “Ostrich” required all strings of every stringed instrument to be tuned to the same note. And with that foundation, Gossett and Mullarney III improvised on the synths and instruments in their studio, which gives the song a hypnotic and dreamy atmosphere. 
  • “Pay My Debts,” a track that saw the pair effortlessly meshing genres with skittering trap beats, glistening synth-driven hooks paired with syrupy R&B-like grooves and Mullarney III’s achingly plaintive vocals. “Pay My Debts” manages to convey a core theme of the album, as the song lyrically reckons with the weight of guilt and absolution. 

“The title of our new album, Along the Lethe, came from lyrics in the song ‘Pay My Debts.’ The Lethe is one of the five rivers of the underworld in Greek mythology, and souls who drank from it lost all memory of their lives on earth. Forgetting can be seductive, and the Lethe offers a kind of absolution—not in the form of forgiveness, but erasure. The desire to transform the collective trauma of the last two years into a collective amnesia is one of the themes of our new record. The chorus in ‘Pay My Debts;’ alludes to an impending ecological disaster that’s followed the narrator even into Hades: ‘Something in the sky turns black, start another fire, I guess.’ Despite the allure of forgetting, and the Lethe’s metaphysical power to do so, the spectre of the last two years is inescapable.”

“Harm,” Along the Lethe‘s fifth and latest single is a slow-burning roller that’s one-half slinky UK garage and ambient synth pop featuring skittering and clattering beats, atmospheric synths and twinkling bursts of piano paired with Mullarney III’s achingly plaintive vocals singing lyrics wondering about the uncertainty and unease of life during the pandemic — and how disease invades the body and mind. And as a result, the song evokes a creeping anxious sort of dread that should feel familiar to all of us.

“During the pandemic, ecology was an invading force and ‘Harm’ is a manifestation of this psychology,” Beacon’s Mullarney III says of the song’s themes. “The influence of disease on human civilization is eternal, but nothing has been more impactful than Malaria. It is estimated that half of all humankind—everyone who has lived—has died of the parasite whose name translates to “bad air.”

Directed by Dalena Tran, the accompanying video for “Harm” features a burst of flickering, dreamlike computer-generated images. From a lone mosquito to a fisherman to the wider public at large, the video presents a seamless trail of communicable disease that’s poetic, unsettling — and uncomfortably familiar. The video ends with a seemingly idyllic lakeside view with undulating and flickering colors and geometry while a grim and rigid piano melody fills the air with the tension of a known but unseen danger.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Beacon Share a Surreal Animated Visual for Brooding “Pay My Debts”

Over the course of this site’s 12 year history, I’ve managed to spill a copious amount of virtual ink covering New York-based electronic music duo and JOVM mainstays Beacon. Their third album, 2018’s Gravity Pairs saw the duo — Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gossett (production, keys, synths) — radically changing their creative process and writing material that was a sonic left turn from their previously released work. 

Mullarney III and Gussett embarked on open-ended writing sessions, in which they adopted a more linear songwriting style instead of the loop and texture-driven method they had developed and honed during the creation of their first two albums. The initial demos they wrote were built around piano chords and guitar phrases paired with vocal melodies, which they then edited into a number of different iterations. Doing so allowed the duo to look at each individual version from a multitude of angles and directions. 

As they continued through Gravity Pairs‘ creative process, they expanded upon some songs and pared others back. Much like the bending of light through a prism, the abstract, patient and deeply painterly process eventually turned the material they had been working on into a space in which wildly different colors, tones and textures — in the album’s case, minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals and driving dance tunes — can coexist simultaneously and at different speeds. 

Interestingly, with each iteration they created, the JOVM mainstays quickly discovered that they could easily expand upon how they presented Gravity Pairs‘ material in a live setting: They could play the album’s material in a straightforward fashion — or they could play that material in a very different fashion that added or subtracted color and shading, depending on the circumstances, their moods and their desires. 

While Gravity Pairs found Beacon boldly pushing their sound and approach in adventurous, new directions, the material remained imbued with the vulnerability and yearning that they’ve long been known for. 

A couple of years have passed since the release of Gravity Pairs, but the JOVM mainstays have been busy: Back in 2019, they opened for acclaimed Aussie electro pop artist Nick Murphy during his North American tour, which included a stop at Brooklyn Steel. The duo shared a series of stripped down, live studio sessions — and they released a remix album, which featured remixes and edits by ElkkaHelios, and CRi. 

2020 saw the release, of a meditative, piano-led take on the Pixies‘ “Wave of Mutilation” inspired by the slower tempo and phrasing of the UK Surf B-side, which showcased the song’s mutability. Just before the pandemic struck, the members of Beacon embarked on a headlining European tour. 

Beacon capped off 2020 with the release of “Feel Something,” which saw Mullarney III and Gussett continuing to prioritize the creative process behind Gravity Pairs while painting a surrealistic and disturbing vision of desire, longing and control that feels like a lived-in perspective of a codependent and dysfunctional relationship — with a person or a situation. 

Last month, the longtime JOVM mainstays announced that their highly-anticipated and long-awaited fourth album, Along the Lethe will be released on September 9, 2022 through their own imprint, Apparent Movement. The pandemic forced the duo to change their creative approach again but reportedly, the end result is a gorgeous and brooding album meant to make the listener stop and reflect. 

The duo wrote, recorded and produced the album during a period of extreme uncertainty in the pandemic, with the band’s Thomas Mullarney III explaining: “I was haunted by this feeling of history intruding on our reality as lockdown descended on NYC, I was reading a book called The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth about the apocalyptic aftermath of the Norman Invasion of England in 1066, written in a ‘shadow tongue’ combining old and modern english. This uncanniness followed me through the pandemic.” Thematically, Along the Lethe is as much about the allure of forgetting tragedy as it is the need to maintain our connections to the past. But interestingly, it may arguably be the most eclectic, expansive album of their growing catalog to date. As the band’s Jacob Gossett says, “It feels like a record without restraints.”

So far I’ve written about three of the album’s singles:

  • Until Next Time,” the first bit of new material from the duo in over two years. The single revealed a fresh, new aesthetic rooted in contrasts: Rumbling electronic feedback and noise gives way to a swirling and twinkling piano-led melody paired with Mullarney’s achingly delicate falsetto, trembling metronomic beats and swirling static, which rises and crashes into Mullarney’s vocals. 
  • “Can’t Turn Back,” a stunning and seemingly effortless mesh of electronic music genres, timbres and moods centered around UK garage-like rhythms, twinkling synth arpeggios, skittering beats and atmospheric pads while Mullarney III sings of losing himself “in the constant dark” with achingly delicate vocals. As part of an album largely written during pandemic-related quarantines, the specter of hopelessness, uncertainty and struggle looms large — and yet, the song attempts to keep the existential doom at bay, while looking upward. 
  • “Ostrich” is a mesmerizing piano-driven song featuring contributions from multi-instrumentalist Colin Stetson, who contributes fluttering and mournful horns and woodwinds into the song’s gently swelling electronic noise. Inspired by a tuning technique used by The Velvet Underground’s Lou Reed and John Cale, “Ostrich” required all strings of every stringed instrument to be tuned to the same note. And with that foundation, Gossett and Mullarney III improvised on the synths and instruments in their studio, which gives the song a hypnotic and dreamy atmosphere. 

“Pay My Debts,” Along the Lethe‘s fourth and latest single sees the duo effortlessly meshing genres as you’ll hear skittering trap beats, glistening synth-driven hooks paired with syrupy R&B-like grooves and Mullarney III’s achingly plaintive vocals. “Pay My Debts” manages to convey a core theme of the album, as the song lyrically reckons with the weight of guilt and absolution.

“The title of our new album, Along the Lethe, came from lyrics in the song ‘Pay My Debts.’ The Lethe is one of the five rivers of the underworld in Greek mythology, and souls who drank from it lost all memory of their lives on earth. Forgetting can be seductive, and the Lethe offers a kind of absolution—not in the form of forgiveness, but erasure. The desire to transform the collective trauma of the last two years into a collective amnesia is one of the themes of our new record. The chorus in ‘Pay My Debts;’ alludes to an impending ecological disaster that’s followed the narrator even into Hades: ‘Something in the sky turns black, start another fire, I guess.’ Despite the allure of forgetting, and the Lethe’s metaphysical power to do so, the spectre of the last two years is inescapable.”

Directed by Boy Tillekens, the accompanying surreal, animated video follows a faceless, purple humanoid on a journey from the idyllic, Holland-like banks of a motionless river towards a billowing plume of black smoke across the horizon. “I was picturing a Thomas Hart Benton painting coming to life,” Tillekens says in press notes. “Kind of treating the landscapes as if it’s a character itself — quite surreal, a bit Lynchian.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Beacon Shares Cinematic “Until Next Time”

JOVM turns 12 later this month and over the course of it history, I’ve spilled a copious amount of virtual ink covering New York-based electronic music duo and JOVM mainstays Beacon. Their third album, 2018’s Gravity Pairs saw the JOVM mainstays — Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gussett (production, keys, synths) — writing material that was a sonic left turn from their previously released work. 

Gravity Paris‘ creative process saw Mullarney III and Gussett embarking on open-ended writing sessions, in which they adopted a more linear songwriting style instead of the loop and textured-driven method they had developed and honed through the early part of their career. The initial demos the duo wrote were built around piano chords and guitar phrases paired with vocal melodies, which they then edited into a number of iterations. That allowed the JOVM mainstays to look at each individual version from a multitude of angles and directions.

As they continued through their creative process, they expanded upon song songs and pared others back. Much like the bending of light through a prism, the abstract, patient and deeply painterly process eventually turned the material they had been working on into a space in which wildly different colors, tones and textures — in the album’s case, minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals and driving dance tunes — can coexist simultaneously and at different speeds.

Interestingly, with each iteration they created, the JOVM mainstays quickly discovered that they could easily expand upon how they presented Gravity Pairs‘ material in a live setting: They could play the album’s material in a straightforward fashion — or they could play that material in a very different fashion that added or subtracted color and shading, depending on the circumstances, their moods and their desires.

While Gravity Pairs found Beacon boldly pushing their sound and approach in adventurous, new directions, the material remained imbued with the vulnerability and yearning that they’ve long been known for.

A couple of years have passed since the release of Gravity Pairs, the JOVM mainstays have been busy: Back in 2019, they opened for acclaimed Aussie electro pop artist Nick Murphy during his North American tour, which included a stop at Brooklyn Steel. The duo shared a series of stripped down, live studio sessions — and they released a remix album, which featured remixes and edits by ElkkaHelios, and CRi. 

2020 saw the release, of a meditative, piano-led take on the Pixies‘ “Wave of Mutilation” inspired by the slower tempo and phrasing of the UK Surf B-side, which managed to showcase the song’s mutability. Before, the pandemic struck and put the world on an indefinite hold for the next 15 months or so, the duo went on a headlining European tour, which featured a stop in one of my favorite cities, the charming city of canals Amsterdam.

Beacon capped off 2020 with the release of “Feel Something,” which saw Mullarney III and Gussett continuing to prioritize the creative process behind Gravity Pairs while painting a surrealistic and disturbing vision of desire, longing and control that feels like a lived-in perspective of a codependent and dysfunctional relationship — with a person or a situation.

“Until Next Time,” is the first bit of new material from the duo in about two years, and the single reveals a fresh aesthetic rooted in contrasts: Rumbling electronic feedback and noise gives way to a swirling and twinkling piano-led melody paired with Mullarney’s achingly delicate falsetto, trembling metronomic beats and swirling static, which rises and crashes into Mullarney’s vocals.

“Until Next Time” is the start of a new chapter for the dup with more music to be released throughout the year. “It really captures some key dynamics of our new work,” Beacon’s Gussett reveals. “Shifts between rich, delicate piano and intense electronic noise are defining characteristics of this genre-bending, soft-loud direction.”

Directed by Beacon’s Gussett, the accompanying visual is a cinematically shot fever dream, inspired by a key line in the song “With my face to the glass, both sides of the tether . . .” The video features Mullarney with an uncanny doppelgänger, whose actions frequently mirror, fracture and distort his own throughout. It opens with them feverishly running towards one another,” Gussett explains, “drawn to this inevitable collision. Two characters so intertwined as to be almost one, their journey from connection to rupture.”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays New Bleach Team up with Ariane Roy on an Atmospheric and Brooding New Single

Quebec City-based indie pop act and JOVM mainstays New Bleach features a duo known throughout Quebec for their work in acclaimed Francophone indie rock act Caravane — — Dominic Pelletier and Raphaël Potvin. And with the release of New Bleach’s first four singles, Pelletier and Potvin’s newest project proved to be a marked sonic departure from their work in Caravane: 

“Awake,” the duo’s debut as New Bleach was an Oracular Spectacular-era MGMT-like single centered around a profound philosophical question: “What if death was just a dream?”
“Silver Lining,” a Quiet Storm R&B meets Beacon-like track that’s one part old-school love song and one part plea for hope in a seemingly hopeless and bleak world. 
“High.” Kraftwerk meets 80s New Wave-like track centered around the age-old desire to get into the car for a road trip — and maybe pull over to do some hallucinogens and daydream. 
“You,” a slow-burning and atmospheric track full of the aching longing and regret of one’s lingering ghosts that featured Ghostly Kisses‘ Margaux Sauvé. 

The JOVM mainstays started 2021 with a gorgeously cinematic live session filmed in the Le Massif de Charlevoix, Quebec. Filmed in a mountainous forest cleaning, just off the coast of the St. Lawrence River, with a morning fog gently lifting, the sessions take place over the course of a day and night with the duo performing behind a futuristic lighting rig. The session features three singles I’ve written about previously — “Awake,” Silver Lining,” and “High.” The setting is breathtakingly gorgeous — in a way that only could be Quebec. 

Building upon a growing profile, the Quebec City-based duo’s debut EP Impressions was released last Friday through Coyote Records. And just before the EP’s release, the Quebec City JOVM mainstays released “Stranger,” a breezy and vaporous synth pop number centered around delicate and shimmering synth arpeggios, ethereal vocals, skittering polyrhythm and a sinuous bass line that sonically brought 80s synth soul and pop like Billy Ocean to mind. But at its core, the song asked thematically big, existential questions — namely, if true happiness is actually possible.

Interestingly, the EP’s latest single is the slow-burning and atmospheric “Night.” Centered around an achingly tender vocal melody and boy-girl harmonizing between New Bleach’s Dominic Pelletier and Ariane Roy, twinkling synths, a propulsive bass line, the song evokes brooding, late night/early morning solitude while slowly unfolding into a rousingly anthemic coda. Written in a single night of solitude, the song invites the listener to meditate on the simple things that keep life worth living — and keep us alive.

FORM is a mysterious, enigmatic and emerging French electro pop trio featuring Aksel, Adrien and Hausmane. The trio’s latest single, the slow-burning and atmospheric “Equation” is a sleek synthesis of Quiet Storm-like R&B and alt pop centered around plaintive yet soulful vocals, twinkling and shimmering synth arpeggios and industrial clang and clatter. Sonically, the track reminds me — to my ears at least — of JOVM mainstays Beacon and Kid A-era Radiohead.

The trio explain the song’s creative process was focused on one goal — to retain their stripped down and sincere essence as much as possible. Interestingly, the song finds the trio comparing social conventions to equations: “We mathematically react to things in our lives depending on our values, principles, education, culture . . . This song is very dear to our hearts because it perfectly draws how the future is gonna look like for us, musically.”

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays New Bleach Live from Le Massif Charlevoix

Quebec City-based indie pop act and JOVM mainstays New Bleach features a duo known about Quebec for their work in acclaimed Francophone indie rock act Caravane — — Dominic Pelletier and Raphaël Potvin. Through the release of four singles last year, New Bleach proved to be a decided sonic departure from Pelletier’s and Potvin’s previous work:

“Awake,” the duo’s New Bleach debut was an Oracular Spectacular-era MGMT-like single centered around a profound philosophical question: “What if death was just a dream?”
“Silver Lining,” a Quiet Storm R&B meets Beacon-like track that’s one part old-school love song and one part plea for hope in a seemingly hopeless and bleak world.
“High.” Kraftwerk meets 80s New Wave-like track centered around the age-old desire to get into the car for a road trip — and maybe pull over to do some hallucinogens and daydream.
“You,” a slow-burning and atmospheric track full of the aching longing and regret of one’s lingering ghosts that featured Ghostly Kisses‘ Margaux Sauvé.

The JOVM mainstays start 2021 with a gorgeously cinematic live session filmed in the Le Massif de Charlevoix, Quebec. Filmed in a mountainous forest cleaning, just off the coast of the St. Lawrence River, with a morning fog gently lifting, the sessions take place over the course of a day and night with the duo performing behind a futuristic lighting rig. The session features three singles I’ve written about previously — “Awake,” Silver Lining,” and “High.” The setting is breathtakingly gorgeous — in a way that only could be Quebec.

“We wanted to bring our songs to life in a setting that would do justice to the beauty of the landscapes of our native Quebec,” Pelletier and Potvin explain. “We thank Le Massif de Charlevoix from the bottom of our hearts for allowing us to fulfill our slightly crazy dreams.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays New Bleach Teams Up with Ghostly Kisses’ Margaux Sauvé on an Atmospheric and Dreamy New Single

Throughout the course of this year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Quebec City-based indie pop act and latest JOVM mainstays New Bleach. New Bleach — Dominic Pelletier and Raphaël Potvin — features a duo known across Quebec for their work in acclaimed Francophone indie rock act Caravane.

2020 has been a rather busy year for the duo of Pelletier and Potvin. They’ve released three attention-grabbing singles that have been decided sonic departures from their work with Caravane:

Their debut single as New Bleach, the Oracular Spectacular-era MGMT-like single “Awake,” a track centered around the philosophical question: “What if death was just a dream?”
The atmospheric Quiet Storm R&B meets Beacon-like “Silver Lining,” a track that’s part old-school love song and part plea for hope in a seemingly hopeless and bleak world.
The Kraftwerk and 80s New Wave-like “High.” which expressed the age-old desire to get in your car for a road trip — and maybe pull over to do some hallucinogens and daydream.

New Bleach’s fourth single of this year is the slow-burning and atmospheric “You.” Centered around alternating ethereal and tender vocals from New Bleach’s Pelletier and Ghostly Kisses’ Margaux Sauvé paired with glistening synths, skittering beats and a sinuous bass line, “You” is full of the desperately aching longing that only seems to come from the lingering ghosts of one’s past.

Co-directed by Maxyme Gagné and the members of New Bleach, the recently released video for “You” is an equally slow-burning fever dream mostly shot in the snowy Quebec woods and employs the use of reflections through refracted and busted mirrors, distorted imagery and more. Somehow, the video seems to emphasize the bitter chill;l of late fall in Quebec — and the bitterness of longing when you can’t quite have what you want or need.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Beacon Release a Driving New Meditation on Desire

Throughout this site’s 10 year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering New York-based electronic music duo and JOVM mainstays Beacon. Now,. as you may recall, the act’s third album, 2018’s Gravity Pairs found the duo — Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gussett (production, keys, synths) — writing material that was a sonic left turn from their previously released work.

As they continued, they expanded upon some songs and pared others band. Much like the bending of light through a prism, the abstract, patient and almost painterly creative process of Gravity Pairs eventually turned the material they wrote into a space in which wildly different colors, tones and textures — in this case, minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals and driving dance tunes — can coexist simultaneously and at different speeds. With each iteration, the duo discovered they could easily expand upon how they presented the material within a live setting: they could play the same material in a straightforward fashion — or they could play the same material in a different fashion that added or subtracted color and shading, depending on the circumstances, their moods and their desires. And while Gravity Pairs pushed the JOVM mainstays sound and songwriting approach in an adventurous new direction, the album’s material remained imbued with a vulnerability and aching yearning.

Since the release of Gravity Pairs, the members of Beacon have been extremely busy: Last year they opened for Nick Murphy. during his North America tour, which included a stop at Brooklyn Steel. They shared a series of stripped back, live studio sessions and they released a remix album, which featured edits by Elkka, Helios, and CRi. They began 2020 with a meditative, piano-led take on the Pixies‘ “Wave of Mutilation.” Inspired by the slower tempo and phrasing of the UK Surf B-side, which showcased the original’s mutability — and then they went off on a headlining European tour, which stopped in my second favorite city in the entire world, Amsterdam.

“Feel Something” is the first bit of new, original material from the JOVM mainstays since Gravity Pairs and the track finds the duo continuing to prioritize discovery and experimentation in their songwriting approach. Centered around blown out boom-bap beats, a sinuous bass line, atmospheric yet menacing electronics, jagged synth arpeggios, shimmering guitar lines, a motorik-like groove and Mullanary’s plaintive falsetto, the song’s lyrics paint a surrealistic and disturbing vision of desire and control. offering an almost lived-in perspective of a codependent and dysfunctional relationship.

Beacon have released an accompanying visual featuring a kaleidoscopic and undulating array of colors, moving along to the song’s motorik-like grooves. Without touring on the horizon as a result of the pandemic, Mullarney and Gussett teamed up with their friends at inlet.tv to create a 24/7 steaming channel featuring live visuals from the band’s extensive and lengthy touring history, which you can check out on their website — https://www.beaconband.tv. The channel is also syndicated on YouTube, where users can engage in an active chat.

Each week through the duration of the pandemic, the members of the JOVM mainstays will be releasing a new live visualizer from their archives to the channel and will utilize it going forward to broadcast studio sessions, Q&As and premiers, leading up to new music in 2021.

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.

Lyric Video: French Electro Pop Duo Ninety’s Story Returns with an Atmospheric, R&B Inspired Single

Tracing their origins back to when its members — Guillaume Adamo and Florian Deyz — met in grade school, the Nice, France-based indie pop duo Ninety’s Story have developed a warm, sophisticated and sensual music inspired by the French Riviera and the likes of Phoenix, Daft Punk and Air. The duo released their debut single “KIKUKYU” and their debut EP through Kitsuné Musique in 2017. Adding to a growing profile, the Nice-based duo have opened for Archive, Morcheeba, Pale Waves and Puggy among others.

Additionally, the duo wrote the music for Citroën C4 Aircross ad campaign that aired in China —  with the band representing the company at the Paris and Hangzhou Motor Shows. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site, you may recall that I wrote about the rising French duo’s acoustic rendition of the breezy yet anthemic “APO.” The French electronic duo return with the sultry R&B-influenced “Home.” Centered around skittering trap and boom bap beats, atmospheric synths, expressive and bluesy bursts of guitar, fuzzy bass synth, plaintive vocals, a soaring hook and an enormous drop “Home” may remind some listeners of JOVM mainstays Beacon, as well as Montreal’s Seoul and Detroit-based JOVM mainstays Gosh Pith. “The song was composed, produced and recorded in Brussels during the quarantine period,” the rising French duo explain. “Everything was quiet outside and put us into a very inspiring [sic] mood, different than usual.”

Directed by Victor Rahman, the recently released, cinematically shot lyric video features the rising French duo rocking out to the song during a gorgeous purple-red sunset. “For the video, we drove across Belgium and just stop [sic] in a  spot were [sic] the sunset and the sea were beautiful. We just put the music [on] very loud and enjoyed the vibe in front of the camera,” the duo says.