Tag: Beck

New Video: Deep Sea Diver Teams Up with Sharon Van Etten on the Vulnerable and Anthemic “Impossible Weight”

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

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

The band’s third album Impossible Weight is slated for an October 16, 2020 release through High Beam Records/ATO Records, and the album follows a busy year of touring with Wilco and Joseph. The album’s sonic and emotional expanse reportedly stems from a period of sometimes brutal self-examination — a process that began for Dobson, not long after the Seattle-based indie quartet finished touring to support Secrets. “We went into the studio pretty quickly after the tour ended, and I sort of hit a wall where I was feeling very detached from making music, and unable to find joy in it,” Dobson recalls in press notes. “I realized I had to try to rediscover my voice as a songwriter, and figure out the vocabulary for what I needed to say on this album.”

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

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

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

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

Last month, I wrote about Impossible Weight’s third single “Lights Out,”  a track that managed to be defiant and anthemic, yet delicate and vulnerable, centered around a slick studio sheen, Dobson’s expressive guitar work, a thunderous and propulsive rhythm section, an enormous raise-your-beer-in-the-air-and-shout-along worthy hook paired with Dobson’s equally expressive vocals, which alternated between an achingly tender croon and a self-assured, courageous growl. And perhaps unlike many of the songs I’ve previously written about this year, the song features a bold and fearlessly vulnerable narrator, who seems to say “It’s perfectly okay to recognize and admit that you’re not okay and that you need help to climb out of dark places.” 

Impossible Weight’s fourth and latest single, album title track “Impossible Weight” continues a run of slickly polished material that nods at New Wave and arena rock with enormous hooks, twinkling synths, Dobson’s expressive and explosive guitar work paired with urgent, heart-fully-on-sleeve songwriting. While revealing Dobson’s unerring knack for crafting an anthemic hook, the song captures a narrator on the emotional brink with an uncanny psychological attention to detail. And the song features a guest spot from Sharon Van Etten, which gives the song an even bigger emotional punch. 

Co-directed by the band’s Jessica Dobson and Peter Hansen along with Tyler Kalberg, the cinematically shot visual for “Impossible Weight” features Dobson taking her light box, which is a big part of the band’s live shows to a variety of gorgeous and untraditional places — including the desert, the woods, a city rooftop, in front of a suburban house, as well as an empty concert venue. “For this video I thought, well… if we cant play shows right now then I’m going to take my light box (a prop we bring on tour that I stand on top of when I play guitar solos) and I’m going to bring it into a myriad of untraditional places,” Deep Sea Diver’s Jessica Dobson explains. “We wanted to create scenes of absolute beauty, of loneliness, of power—of the human spirit being fully alive, even in a time of sadness and uncertainty.”

“I chose The Neptune as the final shot because that is the venue in which I saw Sharon Van Etten play at the night before we recorded the song,” Dobson continues. “I’ve been a huge fan or hers for quite some time and I was deeply moved and inspired by that show. The next day, I literally said out loud as we were recording, “I wonder if Sharon would ever sing on this?” Having never met her, it was definitely a pipe dream question that somehow ended up working out and I’m eternally grateful for it. She brought so much to this song and brought it alive even more.”

Lyric Video: Seattle’s Deep Sea Diver Releases an Anthemic and Vulnerable New Single

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

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

Slated for an October 16, 2020 release through High Beam Records/ATO Records, Deep Sea Diver’s third album Impossible Dream follows a busy year of touring with Wilco and Joseph. The album’s sonic and emotional expanse reportedly stems from a period of sometimes brutal self-examination — a process that began for Dobson, not long after the Seattle-based indie quartet finished touring to support Secrets. “We went into the studio pretty quickly after the tour ended, and I sort of hit a wall where I was feeling very detached from making music, and unable to find joy in it,” Dobson recalls in press notes. “I realized I had to try to rediscover my voice as a songwriter, and figure out the vocabulary for what I needed to say on this album.”

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

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

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

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

Impossible Weight’s third and latest single “Lights Out” is a track that’s defiant and anthemic, yet delicate and vulnerable, centered around a slick production, Dobson’s expressive work, thunderous and propulsive rhythm section, enormous, raise-your-beer-in-the-air and shout along worthy hooks and Dobson’s equally expressive vocals alternating between an achingly tender croon and a self-assured defiant growl. And while reminding me a bit of Bad Bad Hats and Nicole Atkins, “Lights Out” features a narrator expresses her needs with a bold and fearless vulnerability. “‘Lights Out’ was written around the time I hit that wall when we first started working on the record; it’s about fumbling through the darkness and knowing I damn well need help getting out,” Dobson explains. 

The recently released lyric video was created by Dobson and features the guitar tablature for the song as the notes are being played. 

New Video: GUM Returns with a Trippy Animated Visual for “Airwalkin'”

Jay Watson is a Carnavon, Australia-born, Fremantle, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who creatively splits his time as a member of acclaimed psych rock acts and JOVM mainstays Tame Impala and POND — and with his acclaimed solo recording project GUM.

Watson’s fifth GUM album Out In The World, which was officially released today through Spinning Top Music, is the highly-anticipated follow-up to 2018’s critically applauded The Underdog. Written and recorded in between  his commitments with POND and Tame Impala at his Fremantle-based home studio and while on the road, Out In The World continues Watson’s long-held reputation for his voracious taste for styles, sounds and eras — paired with his ongoing quest to make sense of modern life.  Driven by untethered curiosity and the inherent anxiety of way too much awareness, the album is arguably, the most boundary pushing of his growing catalog. “This album is my attempt at making a record that combines my fascination of how other people live their lives, with my own internal desire to analyse mine and improve it,” Watson says of his latest album. “‘Out In The World’ was a phrase that conjured a lot of grandeur and ego, yet somehow felt really small and wholesome at the same time.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Don’t Let It Go Out,” Out In The World’s second single, a track that found Watson pushing his sound and songwriting in a bold new direction with its influences blurring into something distinctly Watson. “Airwalkin,” the album’s latest single is a swaggering, 80s synth pop inspired banger centered around boom bap-like beats, squiggling and shimmering synths, a soaring string sample, an enormous hook with vocodered vocals and Watson’s plaintive vocals. The  end result is a song that sounds as though it were indebted to J. Dilla. Odelay-era Beck and Future Shock-era Herbie Hancock and Kraftwerk. 

“This song is trying to capture the feeling of walking around my rural town with my Discman as a teenager, completely self-conscious about the way I look but completely feeling myself at the same time.” Watson says. “3 and a half minutes of Boombox Rock inspired by Stevie Wonder, Dilla and Beck.”

Directed  by Alex McClaren, the recently released video for “Airwalkin'” is a vividly colored visual that features a variety of characters —  three-eyed dog, a kid’s toy robot, a walking recycling bin and a walking boom box among others — walking through some trippy yet mischievous backdrops. “I wanted to do something with Alex McClaren again. He’d worked on the claymation video for ‘The Blue Marble’ off my last album, I love his stuff. I only had quite a vague idea that the clip could be a figure moving across a landscape in claymation, a vocoder robot-man initially, and Alex went next level with it’.”

New Video: Tel Aviv’s Cherie and Renno Release an Old-Timey Visual for Stomping and Strutting New Single “Be My Baby”

Cherie and Renno are an emerging Tel Aviv, Israel-based indie rock act founded by its core duo Ran Shem Tov (vocals, viola) and Shiri Hadar (vocals, keys, bass), with Guy Ben Ami (drums). Interestingly, the rising Israeli act can trace its origins to when its core duo of Shem Tov and Hadar were members of acclaimed act Izabo — but with material centered around a wooden, electronic multi-synth viola that has been built from collected vintage parts. 

“Be My Baby,” the Israeli act’s latest single is a strutting and self-assured track that possesses elements of indie rock, the blues and rockabilly paired with anthemic hooks — and the end result is a mischievously anachronistic sound that’s one part Odelay-era Beck, one part Sun Records, one 60s psych rock and 60s pop. Co-directed by Nissim Farin Shtamper, Lioh Sadeh and Eliran Peled, the recently released video for “Be My Baby” is  fittingly anachronistic visual: shot in an old-timey black and white, the video features stock footage of stock footage of a 60s dance show split with footage of the members of the band performing the song and some low-budget, Twilight Zone-like imagery.  

The members of Cherie and Renno have developed a reputation for their award-winning music production company, The Sound Makers Productions, which specializes in original compositions and scores for film, TV and commercials. They recently wrote the soundtrack for Uri Zohar Returns, a documentary on one of Israel’s biggest cultural figures, including “Summer Smile” based on the film’s theme song.  

New Video: Starcrawler Releases an Anthemic Country-Tinged Rocker

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the Los Angeles-based indie rock act Starcrawler, and as you may recall, the band quickly emerged with the release of last year’s critically applauded, self-titled debut album, an effort that established their sound, a heavily grunge rock-inspired sound, and for a feral live show. Since the release of their debut, the members of the band — Arrow de Wilde (vocals), Henri Cash (guitar), Austin Smith (drums) and Tim Franco (bass) — have had a busy touring schedule that has seen them play some of the world’s biggest music festivals, including Primavera Sound,Rock Am Ring, Download Festival, Voodoo Festival, FujiRock Festival, Reading Festival, Leeds Festival, SXSW and others.

Adding to a rapidly rising profile, the band was included as part of last year’s incredibly diverse crop of Vevo DSCVR — but they were only ones to have Garbage’s Shirley Manson praise the band and de Wilde in a video testimonial. They’ve opened for Foo Fighters, MC50  Morrissey, Beck, Cage The Elephant, Spoon and The Distillers. But 2019 may arguably be the biggest year of the young band’s history: “Hollywood Ending,” the first single from the band this year received praise from NPR and Rolling Stone, and as a result, the track spent several weeks at #1 on speciality radio charts. And the band’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Devour You is slated for an October 11, 2019 release through Rough Trade Records.

Produced by Nick Launay at Sunset Studios, the album finds the band capturing the aggression and essence of their unhinged live show and pairing it with a more elaborate, more nuanced yet harder-hitting sonic palette to create a sound that the band’s Arrow de Wilde says ““encapsulates all the blood, sweat, bruised knees, and broken fingers of a Starcrawler show.”  “Bet My Brains,” Devour You’s first official single, was a T. Rex-like boogie shake, centered around de Wilde’s feral vocals, a massive guitar riff and a cretinous and forceful stomp. Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “No More Pennies” is a mid-tempo, country rocker with an enormous hook that reveals an ambitious, young band growing more mature and adventurous with their songwriting and sound — while being reminiscent of Headbanger’s Ball-era metal and T. Rex. 

Directed by the band’s Arrow de Wilde and Jonathan King, the recently released video as the de Wilde explained in press notes, “.  . . started with an archive of 16mm film that Gilbert Trejo shot with us on tour and at home over the last year.” “I was editing it together with Jonathan and we were both drawn to a lot of the shots of us around Los Angeles. So we jumped in a car, and shot the video performances around town trying to capture the feeling we get when we’re all together back in the city. We had our friends with us – Gilbert, Annie Hardy (Giant Drag), Mary James, my uncle Jimmy and Jonathan’s chihuahua Earth Angel. It’s got a feeling that captures the dreaminess of the song.”