Tag: Best Coast

A Q&A with San Mei’s Emily Hamilton

I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual covering the Gold Coast, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Emily Hamilton, the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed and rising indie rock act San Mei over the years. Beginning as a synth pop-leaning bedroom recording project, Hamilton’s earliest material received attention from this site and major media outlets like NME, Indie ShuffleNYLON and Triple J. Her debut EP Necessary found the Aussie singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay moving towards a much more organic, guitar-led sound inspired by Black Rebel Motorcycle ClubCat Power, Feist and others.

A couple of years ago, Hamilton met acclaimed producer and musician Oscar Dawson at BIGSOUND, and the pair immediately hit it off.  According to Hamilton, taking Dawson on as a producer and collaborator found the duo refining ideas, exploring different soundscapes and laying down the foundation for her — and in turn, San Mei’s — sonic progression. As Hamilton explains in press notes “[Dawson and I] hit it off straight away and it seemed like he understood where I was coming from, even if I had trouble conveying certain ideas in the demos I made at home.” Hamilton’s Dawson-produced sophomore EP Heaven was a decidedly shoegazer-like affair, featuring arena rock friendly hooks, big power chords and shimmering synths that continued a run of critically applauded, blogosphere dominating material. Adding to a growing profile, last year Hamilton opened for the likes of G. FlipK. Fly, Ali Barter and Jack River in her native Australia, went on an extensive national headlining tour and played nine shows across six days at SXSW.

Released a few weeks ago through Sydney-based etcetc Records, Hamilton’s third San Mei EP Cry continues her ongoing collaboration with Oscar Dawson – and interestingly, the four song EP finds the Aussie JOVM mainstay simultaneously drawing from the harder guitar-driven work of  The Kills, Metric, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the synth-driven pop like Grimes and Lykke Li. Now, as you may recall, I recently wrote about EP title track “Cry,” a track which establishes the EP’s overall tone and tone – a hook-driven, shimmering take on dream pop centered around atmospheric synths, reverb-drenched guitars and what may arguably be her most direct and personal songwriting to date. And perhaps unlike her previously released material, the EP reveals an incredibly self-assured songwriting, crafting earnest and ambitious songwriting – all while building a larger international profile.

Earlier this week, I exchanged emails with the Gold Coast-based JOVM mainstay for this Q&A. Of course, current events have a way of bleeding into every aspect of our professional and professional lives – and naturally, I had to ask Hamilton how COVID-19 was impacting her and her career. But we also talk about her hometown (which is considered one of the more beautiful locales in the entire world), and its growing music scene, the new EP and more in a revealing chat. Check it out below.

SanMeibyMorganHamilton
Photo Credit: Morgan Hamilton

San Mei - Cry EP_packshot

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WRH: Here in New York, we’ve been social distancing and in quarantine for the past three weeks or so. How are things in Australia? How are you holding up?

Emily Hamilton: Firstly, I’m really sorry to see what’s happening in New York right now – my heart really goes out to everyone effected. I was actually in the USA around 2 weeks ago when lockdowns starting happening there. I managed to get home earlier than planned (straight into 14 days mandatory quarantine!), and Australia started following suit with social distancing, travel bans, closing non-essential business etc. pretty much as soon as I got back. I’ve got 2 days left of quarantine which is exciting — to be able to be out in the open air is gonna feel good! We have pretty strict social distancing rules here though, so I’ll still be playing it safe and spending most of my time at home once my quarantine is over.

WRH: How has COVID-19 impacted the Australian music scene? Has the pandemic affected you and your career? And if so, how?

EH: It’s hard having shows cancel and seeing venues having to close their doors. I had some shows lined up over the next couple of months that had to be cancelled, and prospects of touring in the near future don’t seem likely. I had a massive year of touring last year, so coming to terms with the fact that this year is probably going to look different is kinda hard. I know everyone in the Australian music scene is feeling the same way – and that we’re feeling the same things in music scenes around the globe. But it’s been inspiring to see so many artists pick themselves up, be innovative and find creative ways to make the best of the situation.
 

WRH: Most of my readers are based in the United States. As you can imagine, most Americans know very little about Australia, let alone your hometown. I think if you ask most Americans, they’ll tell you that it’s far (which is very true), they’ll mention the Sydney Opera House, kangaroos, koala bears and Steve Irwin. So as an American, what is Gold Coast known for? Where would I go to get a taste of how the locals live?

EH: It’s true, we’re so far away! I think that’s why Australians travel so much, because otherwise we’re just so isolated. I love my hometown; to me, it’s the perfect mix of city and surf town vibes – for someone who travels a lot for music, it’s nice to be based somewhere with a more chilled pace and open spaces. The Gold Coast is known mostly for its beautiful beaches, but we also have amazing rainforests with swimming holes and a beautiful hinterland. There has also been huge growth in hospitality, and there are so many amazing bars/restaurants/cafes popping up all over the place. So for anyone visiting I’d recommend checking out all the best nature spots and the best places to get a drink/feed.

WRH: Are there any Gold Coast-based artists that should be getting attention from the larger world that aren’t – and should be?

EH: The music scene on the Gold Coast has definitely grown over the last few years and there are a lot of exciting bands coming up. Eliza & The Delusionals are an amazing emerging band – they’ve actually just finished up a US tour supporting Silversun Pickups. They’re definitely on the rise and I think they’ll soon be getting that attention! Lastlings, Peach Fur, Ivey, Hollow Coves are just a few that are kicking goals and I’d love to see continue to grow in and outside of Australia.

WRH: For a country of about 27 million or so, how is it possible that so many Aussie artists, who make it to the States and elsewhere so damn good?

EH: I think being so far away can actually work in our favour in some ways! We have to be really, really good if we want our music to get out there in the world and have the means or opportunities to tour outside of our own country. I reckon that has created the kind of drive and work ethic for a lot of Aussie artists to keeping pushing and being the best we can be at our craft, to be able to break through the noise.

WRH: How did you get into music?

EH: I learnt classical piano when I was little (much to my dismay at the time!), which I’m really grateful for now as it’s such a good foundation for music. But I didn’t really get into writing songs or pursuing music until after high school when I met a group of friends who were musicians, and I just found myself getting caught up in it. It turned out I had a bit of a knack for songwriting and I’ve been focusing on getting better and better at it since!

WRH: Who are your influences?

EH: So many – but a few who come to mind are My Bloody Valentine, The Kills, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, [The] Jesus and Mary Chain, Warpaint, The Cranberries, Grimes, Lykke Li. . .  They’re all pretty diverse but I think I’m influenced by lots of different aspects of other artists’ songwriting/sound.

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

EH: I’m loving Cherry Glazerr, Best Coast, Connan Mockasin, Kacey Musgraves, Tame Impala, Moon Duo. . . so many more but these guys are on high rotation at the moment.

WRH: I’ve written about you quite a bit over the years. When you started out, San Mei was bedroom synth pop project. But after meeting songwriter, producer and musician Oscar Dawson at BIGSOUND, you – and in turn, San Mei – went through a decided change in sonic direction, which is reflected on both the Heaven EP and your recently released Cry EP. How has it been working with Dawson? How influential has he been on the project’s sonic development?

EH: I’ve always so appreciated your support! It means the world to an emerging artist like me to have that consistent engagement and encouragement from someone! Working with Oscar has been amazing, and I’ve learned a lot from him. I’ve always come to him with fully realised songs/demos. I usually write and track all the guide parts at home first. But Oscar has a way of bringing out the best in my songs and just making them sound better haha… so he has never really been pushy or opinionated in shaping my sound, but I’ve learned a lot from him in terms of refining things and making smart decisions in both the songwriting and production process.

WRH:  With San Mei leaning more towards a guitar-based sound, how has your songwriting process changed?

EH: Even as my sound became a little more guitar-driven, I continued to stick with my usual writing process – open up Logic, find a simple drum groove, play along ‘til I find a good riff or chord progression… but lately I’ve been trying to challenge myself in writing songs start to finish on just an acoustic guitar. I want my songs to be able to stack up when they’re played on just a guitar or piano without relying on any production. I’ve been finding that the production falls into place a lot more easily when I write this way, because the songwriting itself has to be strong, and helps lead the way in what should be built around it. I won’t be limiting myself to this process only, but finding new ways to create has been really cool.

WRH: While possessing the big and rousingly anthemic hooks that we heard on Heaven EP, your latest EP features the guitar-led, arena rock anthem “Hard to Face,” the shimmering, New Wavey-like “Cherry Days” “Cry” and “Love in the Dark.” As much as I hear Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Kills, Grimes, Lykke Li and others, I also hear a bit of Prince in there, too. What inspired this new sonic direction? Was it intentional?

EH: That’s really interesting! Admittedly I haven’t listened to a lot of Prince (I probably just haven’t put in the time to become a fan!), but it’s cool to hear that reference. I couldn’t tell you a specific influence for where my sound has been heading, but I have been focusing on strengthening my identity as an artist, and recognising what my strengths are in my writing, and just making sure I write whatever comes out of me naturally and not try to sound like anything in particular. I’m still a work in progress with that, but I think that’s what has been shaping my sound.

WRH: “Hard to Find” is one of my favorite songs on the EP. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

EH: Cool! I really love this song. I called it my bratty moment. At the time of writing it, I was in a bit of a rut mentally with my music, career, future… I kept looking around at what everyone else was doing and thinking they were all kicking goals and I wasn’t. So, I just needed to let out my frustration and have a good whine in form of a song. It’s also a good reminder of me to not be that person, because we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to others, and having gratitude for the present is so important in having a healthy mind.

WRH: How did the video treatment for “Cry” come about?

EH: The song theme itself is a little melancholy to me – it’s about longing for more in life or for a better day, of always wanting to get to that next stage in life or achieving that next goal. It’s good to have drive, but for me I often get caught up in the future and sometimes I worry that I’ll wish my youth and time away instead of enjoying the present. But I wanted the video to feel light, wistful and more like a daydream, and to focus on the freedom we can find by enjoying the present and finding joy in everyday moments. I think Dom the director did a great job of capturing that feeling.

WRH: What’s next for you?

EH: I’m definitely not going to be slowing down – I’ve got lots of more music to release, and as soon as we’re allowed to play shows again, I’ll be playing as many as physically possible. Stay tuned! 😀

New Video: Acclaimed Indie Rock Act Vivian Girls Reunite for a Kaleidoscopic and Trippy Visual for “Something To Do”

Formed back in 2007 by founding members Katy Goodman (bass, drums, vocals),  Cassie Ramone (vocals, guitar) and Frankie Rose (drums, bass, vocals), the acclaimed indie rock act Vivian Girls, derive their name from the title of outside author Henry Darger’s The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. And although they went through a series of drummers in their run together, they developed a reputation for being a band for outsiders, for playing warehouses, house parties, DIY spots and small clubs. Sonically, they bounced back and forth between heart-on-their sleeves romantics and feedback-driven sheogazers. 

After their third album, 2011’s Share the Joy, the band split up and went their own ways. Katy Goodman and the band’s third drummer Ali Koehler relocated to Los Angeles, where they continued with different musical pursuits — Goodman with her acclaimed act La Sera and Ali Koehler with Best Coast and Upset while starting families. Ramone continued to make art, released two solo albums and two albums with Kevin Morby in their band The Babies. Interestingly, Ramone relocated to Los Angeles after a phone call with Goodman sparked the possibility of a reunion. 

Last spring, the trio began jamming together, keeping their practices a secret  while enjoying the simple act of playing together again. By the fall, the trio had written an album’s worth of material and entered the studio to record their Rob Barbarto-produced fourth album Memory, the first batch of original material from the band in over eight years. 

Slated for a September 20, 2019 release through Polyvinyl Records, Memory’s title may conjure the concept of its band members waxing nostalgic over halcyon days — but actually, the material may be the darkest of their catalog. Fueled by their own experiences as individuals and as a band, the album thematically touches upon their personal reflections on toxic relationships, the false promise of new love, mental health struggles and finding ways to accept oneself amidst it all. Sonically, the album reportedly evokes desperation and longing while having a newfound sense of intensity and direction. 

Interestingly, Memory’s second and latest single “Something To Do” is a shoegazey-like song centered around layers of buzzing guitars, a propulsive groove and ethereal vocals bubbling up from the murky mix — and while sonically nodding a a bit at their past, the song is a bold push forward, imbued with a dark, murky quality of a dysfunctional and fucked up relationship. 

Directed by Jason Lester, the recently released feverish video for “Something to Do” was shot on what appears to be 8mm film in the Los Angeles area and features the band members running toward themselves playing in an abandoned structure — presumably, the band running to a new future together. 

New Video: Night School’s Shimmering New Single Paired with Proudly Feminist Visuals

Currently comprised of founding member Alexandra Morte (guitar, vocals), Cara LP (drums) and Cheyenne Avant (bass), the Oakland-based indie rock trio Night School can trace its origins to the close friendship of its founders Morte and Baylie Jiminez (drums, vocals). With Morte and Jiminez, the band recorded a split EP with their Graveface Records labelmates, Scotland’s Dott, Carousel. and their debut EP Heartbeat back in 2014. After the recording of the Heartbeat EP, Cheyenne Avant joined the band to complete what would become the band’s first lineup. The following year, the Oakland-based trio toured with the likes of Best Coast, Whirr and Creepoid.

The band’s long-awaited full-length debut Disappear Here was written and recorded over the course of the past two years with Nick Bassett. and the album reportedly finds the band moving away from the doo-wop and 60s girl pop influences of their earliest releases and towards a cleaner, more refined sound, as the band explains in press notes. Along with that such a decided change in sonic direction, the band went through a major lineup change with its co-founder Baylie Jiminez leaving the band during the recording sessions. Jiminez was replaced by Cara LP. And perhaps as a result of both the lineup change and their new sound, Disappear Here‘s features material written by Morte and Avant.

“Marigold,” Disappear Here‘s latest single is a self-assured and shimmering bit of guitar pop, centered around some gorgeous harmonizing and the sort of big, swooning hooks reminiscent of Dum Dum Girls. The recently released video follows the band’s songwriting duo as they go on a pleasant afternoon stroll near the California coast. Interestingly, during their stroll they encounter a beautiful pagan priestess, who quickly disappears when the ladies get near. After touching her left behind chalice, they encounter a bizarre ritual, which frightens them immensely; but they quickly receive acceptance from the priestess and her other followers, who let them join the group. While being mischievous, the video is decidedly feminist.

Currently comprised of founding member and frtonwoman Natalie Carol (vocals, guitar) and Shawn Morones (guitar, vocals), along with newest members Neil Wogensen (bass, vocals) and Mike DeLuccia (drums), the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock band Valley Queen can trace their origins back to their formation in 2014. With the release of a handful of singles, the band’s profile rapidly rose — and it resulted in a relentless touring schedule with an increasing amount of time spent on the road. Although the band found their groove, the stress was way too much and the band went through the first of many lineup changes that found Carol continuing onward with a series of session musicians.

Despite the lineup changes, the band eventually found themselves becoming buzz worthy, playing bigger clubs; however, for the Valley Queen’s founder and frontwoman, the chemistry that she had felt and began to depend on to create and perform was missing. They landed a record deal — a dream that countless bands desperately wish to achieve; but as Carol began to recognize, the band was much more than her concentrating on writing lyrics while session musicians were being paid to play and record the material as directed. What she had long desired was for the band to be what it originally was about — the chemistry and relationships between the members of the band, all of which helped the band land their record deal in the first place.

As the story goes, before writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their Lewis Pesacov-produced, soon-to-be released full-length debut Supergiant, Carol called Doot, who couldn’t re-join the band; however, Mike DeLuccia joined. Then Carol called Shawn Morones, who after a series of lengthy conversations, before decided that re-joining the band would be worth the risks involved.

Interestingly, Pesacov, who has worked with Best CoastFool’s GoldNikki Lane, FIDLAR and JOVM mainstays The Orielles, continues to cement his reputation for raw production that focus on the urgency of the album’s material and the musicians’ performances. And for the members of Valley Queen, the experience writing and recording was ultimately about the collective exploring and creating together. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year I wrote about album title track “Supergiant,” and the album’s latest single “Chasing the Muse” continues in a similar vein — 70s AM rock inspired indie rock with an earnest emotional heft that comes from living a full and messy life, complete with its frustrations, crushing defeats and small victories. Ultimately, both tracks are centered around Carol’s powerhouse Linda Ronstadt-like vocals, a deliberate attention to craft and some exceptional and passionate musicianship.

Valley Queen will be touring to support their new effort and the initial batch of tour dates are below.

VALLEY QUEEN TOUR DATES

July 5-8 Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival

July 28 Los Angeles, CA – The Moroccan Lounge
August 01 San Francisco, CA – Cafe du Nord
August 02 Davis, CA – Sophia’s Thai Kitchen
August 03-05 Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon
August 07 Seattle, WA – Sunset Tavern
August 08 Spokane, WA – The Bartlett
August 09 Missoula, MT – Top Hat Lounge
August 11 Denver, CO – Lost Lake Lounge
August 12 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
August 15 San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brew

Live Footage: Sunflower Bean Perform “Memoria” for Audiotree’s Far Out

Now, over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brooklyn-based psych rock/indie rock trio  Sunflower Bean, and as you can recall, the band comprised of founding members Nick Kivlen (guitar, vocals) and Jacob Faber (drums), along with Julia Cumming (bass, vocals) can trace their origins to when Kivlen and Faber were both members of Turnip King. At the time Kivlen and Faber had been spending a great deal of time away from their then-primary project jamming together, before deciding that that they should start their own project. Kivlen, who knew Cumming through mutual friends was recruited to join the band — although Cumming was a member of Supercute! with Rachel Trachtenberg.

The band quickly became a buzz-worthy act with a run of attention grabbing, critically applauded sets during 2014’s CMJ Festival, which they promptly followed up that year’s Rock & Roll Heathen EP AND 2015’s Show Me Your Seven Secrets EP —  and thanks to the success of singles like “Tame Impala” and “2013,” the band quickly rose to national and international prominence. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the trio toured across the US and the UK as a headliner, and as an opener for Wolf Alice, Best Coast and The Vaccines, before 2016’s Matthew Molnar-produced, full-length debut Human Ceremony. After spending the better part of that year with a roughly 200 date world tour, the members of the band initially planned to take a well-earned, extended break; however, by December, the trio wound up in Faber’s Long Island basement with song ideas that eventually became their Jacob Portrait and Matt Molnar co-produecd sophomore album Twentytwo in Blue, which was released earlier this year through Mom + Pop Records. Since its release, the album has been a commercial and critical success — the album debut in the Top 40 in the UK, hit #5 on Billboard’s Top New Artists chart, and earned praise from Paste, NME and others.

Coincidentally, the album’s release was 22 months after the release of their full-length debut, while marking when each of the members turn 22. The album’s first single “I Was A Fool,” revealed a radical change in sonic direction with the band leaning heavily towards 70s AM rock — in particular, Fleetwood Mac. The album’s first official single and second overall, the stomping and anthemic “Crisis Fest,” was arguably the most politically charged single the band has ever written and recorded, as it focuses on the uncertain and politically volatile period it was written, with the song being an urgent call to action to young people to get out there, get involved and make the world right once and for all. And goddamn it, it’s necessary.  “Twentytwo,” the album’s third single was a breezy feminist anthem, focused on fighting against society’s expectations and demands upon women as well as the abuses of powerful men.

Since their sophomore album’s release, the members of Sunflower Bean have been busy extensively touring and playing sold out dates both internationally and nationally, along with a run of appearances across the national festival circuit that will include stops at Voodoo Festival, Pickathon, SummerStage, XPoNential, before returning to the EU, the UK and Asia. The fall will see Sunflower Bean the band opening for Interpol; but in the meantime, the folks at Audiotree invited the members of Sunflower Bean to to perform the mesmerizing, Heart-like “Memoria,” a track that finds the band balancing a swaggering, self-assuredness with a wistful ache.

New Video: Valley Queen Releases Thoughtful and Cinematic Visuals for “Supergiant”

Currently comprised of founding member Natalie Carol (vocals, guitar) and early lineup member Shawn Morones (guitar, vocals), along with newest members Neil Wogensen (bass, vocals) and Mike DeLuccia (drums), the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock band Valley Queen can trace their origins back to their formation in 2014. With a handful of singles under their belts, the band quickly saw a growing profile, which resulted in a relentless touring schedule and an increasing amount of time away from home — and although the band found their own magical pocket musically, the strain was too much for original lineup members Morones and Doot, who left the band.

Carol continued onward with a series of session musicians and ringers, and while the band continued to play bigger clubs, the chemistry that Carol had felt and began to depend on was missing, With growing buzz surrounding her and her bandmates, the members of Valley Queen landed a record deal — a dream that many bands desperately wish to achiever; however, Carol recognized that the band was much more than her concentrating on lyrics with session musicians being paid to play and record the material as directed; in fact, Carol wanted the band to be about the chemistry and relationships between the members of the band, all of which helped the band land their record deal in the first place.  So before writing and recording the material, which would eventually comprise their Lewis Pesacov-produced full-length debut Supergiant, Carol called Doot, who couldn’t re-join the band; however, Mike DeLuccia joined. Then Carol called Morones, who after a series of lengthy conversations, before decided that re-joining the band would be worth the risks involved.

Interestingly, Pesacov, who has worked with Best Coast, Fool’s Gold, Nikki Lane, FIDLAR and JOVM mainstays The Orielles, continues to cement his reputation for raw production while focusing on the urgency of the album’s material and the musicians performances — and for the band, the album was about the collective whole exploring and creating together. As for the album’s lead single and opening track, Carol says, derive their names from the most massive, luminous, and yet the fastest burning known stars in the universe. “The song ‘Supergiant’ is about how we’re all made up of the same stuff as stars, and I liked the idea of tying the whole album together with that metaphor,” says  Carol. “It takes all the drama you hear on the record-the aggressive, chaotic moments, and the more beautiful or quieter moments-and puts it all into a more galactic perspective.” As a result, “Supergiant” has a noticeably cinematic air while possessing elements of 80s New Wave and 70s AM rock in a way that will bring to mind the likes of Heart and Linda Ronstadt, if they were covering Concrete Blonde, or Heartless Bastards covering — well, just about anyone, as the seemingly anachronistic single is centered around Carol’s soulful belting, well-crafted songs and exceptional musicianship.

Directed by Matt Bizer, the incredibly cinematic video for “Supergiant” follows a contemplative Natalie Carol, as she starts her day and meets up with her bandmates, who drive around town while listening to the radio, capturing people with nothing much to really do and nowhere to really go that are longing for something — although they don’t quite know what it is. 

 

Currently comprised of founding member Natalie Carol (vocals, guitar) and early lineup member Shawn Morones (guitar, vocals), along with newest members Neil Wogensen (bass, vocals) and Mike DeLuccia (drums), the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock band Valley Queen can trace their origins back to their formation in 2014. With a handful of singles under their belts, the band quickly saw a growing profile, which resulted in a relentless touring schedule and an increasing amount of time away from home — and although the band found their own magical pocket musically, the strain was too much for original lineup members Morones and Doot, who left the band.

Carol continued onward with a series of session musicians and ringers, and while the band continued to play bigger clubs, the chemistry that Carol had felt and began to depend on was missing, With growing buzz surrounding her and her bandmates, the members of Valley Queen landed a record deal — a dream that many bands desperately wish to achiever; however, Carol recognized that the band was much more than her concentrating on lyrics with session musicians being paid to play and record the material as directed; in fact, Carol wanted the band to be about the chemistry and relationships between the members of the band, all of which helped the band land their record deal in the first place.  So before writing and recording the material, which would eventually comprise their Lewis Pesacov-produced full-length debut Supergiant, Carol called Doot, who couldn’t re-join the band; however, Mike DeLuccia joined. Then Carol called Morones, who after a series of lengthy conversations, before decided that re-joining the band would be worth the risks involved.

Interestingly, Pesacov, who has worked with Best Coast, Fool’s Gold, Nikki Lane, FIDLAR and JOVM mainstays The Orielles, continues to cement his reputation for raw production while focusing on the urgency of the album’s material and the musicians performances — and for the band, the album was about the collective whole exploring and creating together. As for the album’s lead single and opening track, Carol says, derive their names from the most massive, luminous, and yet the fastest burning known stars in the universe. “The song ‘Supergiant’ is about how we’re all made up of the same stuff as stars, and I liked the idea of tying the whole album together with that metaphor,” says  Carol. “It takes all the drama you hear on the record-the aggressive, chaotic moments, and the more beautiful or quieter moments-and puts it all into a more galactic perspective.” As a result, “Supergiant” has a noticeably cinematic air while possessing elements of 80s New Wave and 70s AM rock in a way that will bring to mind the likes of Heart and Linda Ronstadt, if they were covering Concrete Blonde, or Heartless Bastards covering — well, just about anyone, as the seemingly anachronistic single is centered around Carol’s soulful belting, well-crafted songs and exceptional musicianship.

Valley Queen will be touring to support their new effort and the initial batch of tour dates are below.

VALLEY QUEEN TOUR DATES
July 5-8 Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival
July 28 Los Angeles, CA – The Moroccan Lounge
August 01 San Francisco, CA – Cafe du Nord
August 02 Davis, CA – Sophia’s Thai Kitchen
August 03-05 Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon
August 07 Seattle, WA – Sunset Tavern
August 08 Spokane, WA – The Bartlett
August 09 Missoula, MT – Top Hat Lounge
August 11 Denver, CO – Lost Lake Lounge
August 12 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
August 15 San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brew

Currently comprised of founding members  and primary songwriters Chuck Cleaver (vocals, guitar), known for being a member of Ass Ponys  and Lisa Walker (vocals, guitar), along with Mark Messerly (bass, keys), John Erhardt (pedal steel, guitar), and Joe Klug (drums), the Cincinnati, OH-based shoegaze quintet Wussy can trace their origins back to 2001 when its founding duo began playing together as a dare during a brief run of solo Cleaver shows. The first show they played together while being largely unplanned went without incident, so they agreed that they should continue as a fully fleshed band. Cleaver and Walker recruited Dawn Burman (drums) and Messerly in 2002 And as a quartet, Wussy released three full-length albums and a critically applauded EP that received praise from a number of major media outlets including Rolling StoneSPINVillage VoiceNPRThe Washington PostUncut and the legendary Robert Christgau, who placed the Cincinnati act’s first two efforts Funeral Dress and Left for Dead on his best of the decade list, and their third, self-titled release on his best of 2009 list.

After receiving critical success, the band went through a series of lineup changes, as Burman left the band and was replaced with Cincinnati music scene vet Joe Klug, who joined the band for Attica! and Forever Sounds. The band’s newest member John Erhardt has helped evolve the band’s sound, adding a twangy psychedelic vibe as they’ve expanded their profile with recorded sessions for BBC 6 Music and KEXP, appearances at SXSW and CMJ, touring with the likes of The Afghan Whigs, and have shared stages with Yo La TengoThe BreedersBest CoastMudhoneyOkkervil RiverThe MekonsCOMEWreckless Eric and Jeffrey Lewis.

The Cincinnati-based indie rock act’s seventh studio album What Heaven Is Like is slated for release later this month through Damnably Records in Europe and Shake It! Records in the States, and as you may recall, earlier this year, I wrote about “Gloria,” a song that was reportedly inspired by the protagonist of Fargo‘s Season 3, Gloria Burgle, played by Carrie Coon — but in a much larger sense, the song is meant to paint a portrait of an inscrutable everywoman, who dares to stand up to an omnipresent, almost supernatural, villain. The album’s latest single “Cake,” while continuing in a similar, cinematic yet 90s inspired vein of its predecessor is arguably one of the album’s bleaker songs, evoking the sort of existential dread and anxiety that feels inescapable and pervasive. Shit has gone bad and quickly, and it’s time to start hunkering down because it’s about to get much worse.

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays No Joy with Sonic Boom Release Surreal and Experimental Visuals for Their Most Unusual Song To Date

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you would have seen that I’ve written quite a bit about Montreal, Quebec, Canada-based shogeaze duo No Joy, and as you may recall, the duo, which is comprised of primary songwriter Jasamine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd can trace their origins to when White-Gluz, who was then living in Los Angeles began collaborating with the Montreal-based Lloyd via email — and their collaboration eventually lead to White-Gluz returning to Montreal, so that they could play their first show, with Husker Du’s Grant Hart. As the story goes, after that show, White and Gluz continued collaborating, playing a number of shows locally, including with Best Coast, whose frontwoman Bethany Cosentino became an early champion of the act. 

Building upon the growing buzz surround the Montreal-based duo, White-Gluz and Lloyd signed to renowned indie label Mexican Summer, who released their debut 7 inch single “No Summer”/”No Joy,” an effort that allowed them to book their own national headlining tour with Katy Goodman’s, La Sera. The 7 inch quickly sold out, and by November 2010, the duo released their full-length debut Ghost Blonde to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, AllMusic.com, The New York Times, Brooklyn Vegan, The Guardian and others. No Joy followed that with the British release of the “Hawaii” 7 in, a release that featured a remix of “Indigo Child,” by Stereolab‘s Tim Gane, which they supported with a UK tour with  Surfer Blood, an opening spot in London for Wire, and an appearance at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival.

The  members of No Joy spent the better part of 2011 touring across North America — and it included a busy SXSW schedule, a tour with Vivian Girls, and a co-headling tour with Marnie Stern with whom they released a split single, which featured No Joy’s cover of the Shangri-La’s “He Cried.” Since then, the band has released 2012’s Negaverse EP and Wait to Pleasure, 2013’s Pastel and Pass Out EP, 2015’s More Faithful, 2016’s Drool Sucker, the first of a planned series of EPs and last year’s Creep, which was released through the band’s new label Grey Market Records.

Interestingly, this year finds No Joy’s White-Gluz collaborating with Spacemen 3‘s and E.A.R.’s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Peter Kember), and although the collaborators can’t accurately remember how they met or when they met, what they do clearly remember is that the idea of collaborating together was brought up in an email exchange back in 2015. At the time, No Joy had finishing touring to support their third album More Faithful, an album that the duo has considered one of their most difficult and demanding efforts they’ve worked on together, and White-Gluz was eager to try new ideas and do something different. “No Joy functioned as a four-piece ‘rock band’ for so long,” White-Gluz explains in press notes. “I wanted to pursue something solo where I collaborated with someone else who could help me approach my songs from a completely different angle. Pete is a legend and someone I’ve admired for a long time. Being able to work with him on this was incredible.”

Initially, the collaboration began as a bit of exploration between two friends, who admired each other’s work with each one passing songs back and and forth with White-Gluz writing and producing songs in her hometown of Montreal and Kember writing, arranging, and producing in Portugal. The end result was their collaborative EP together — four tracks that reportedly walk the tightrope between electronica, trip hop and experimental noise.  As White-Gluz says in press notes, “I wrote some songs that were intended for a full band and handed them off to Pete, who helped transform them. I barely knew how to use MIDI so I was just throwing him these experiments I was working on and he fine-tuned my ideas. There are barely any guitars on this album, because I was focused on trying to find new ways to create sounds.”

The EP’s latest single “Triangle Probably,” continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor “Slorb,” as it features a minimalist production featuring swirling wobbling electronics, twinkling and droning synths and industrial clang and clatter paired with  Gluz-White’s ethereal crooning, which make the song one of the most experimental songs not the EP, as it finds the duo nodding at Amnesiac and Kid A-era Radiohead — but with murky feel. 

Created by Jacob Cooper and Ride or Cry, the recently released video for “Triangle Probably,” features live screen grabs from independent, open source and free Unity/3D simulators and the hodgepodge nature further emphasizes the experimental tone and vibe of the song.

New Audio: No Joy’s Jasamine White-Gluz and Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom Team Up for an Atmospheric and Eerie Single off Collaborative EP

Over the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Montreal, Quebec, Canada-based shogeaze duo No Joy. Interestingly, the duo, which is comprised of primary songwriter Jasamine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd can trace their origins to when White-Gluz, who was then living in Los Angeles began collaborating with the Montreal-based Lloyd via email — and their collaboration eventually lead to White-Gluz returning to Montreal, so that they could play their first show, with Husker Du’s Grant Hart. As the story goes, after that show, White and Gluz continued collaborating, playing a number of shows locally, including with Best Coast, who’s frontwoman Bethany Cosentino became an early champion of the duo.
Building upon the growing buzz surround the Montreal-based duo, White-Gluz and Lloyd signed to renowned indie label Mexican Summer, who released their debut 7 inch single “No Summer”/”No Joy,” an effort that allowed them to book their own national headlining tour with Katy Goodman’s, La Sera. The 7 inch quickly sold out, and by November 2010, the duo released their full-length debut Ghost Blonde to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, AllMusic.com, The New York Times, Brooklyn Vegan, The Guardian and others. No Joy followed that with the British release of the “Hawaii” 7 in, a release that featured a remix of “Indigo Child,” by Stereolab‘s Tim Gane, which they supported with a UK tour with  Surfer Blood, an opening spot in London for Wire, and an appearance at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival.
The  members of No Joy spent the better part of 2011 touring across North America — and it included a busy SXSW schedule, a tour with Vivian Girls, and a co-headling tour with Marnie Stern with whom they released a split single, which featured No Joy’s cover of the Shangri-La’s “He Cried.” Since then, the band has released 2012’s Negaverse EP and Wait to Pleasure, 2013’s Pastel and Pass Out EP, 2015’s More Faithful, 2016’s Drool Sucker, the first of a planned series of EPs and last year’s Creep, which was released through the band’s new label Grey Market Records.

Interestingly, this year finds No Joy’s White-Gluz collaborating with Spacemen 3’s and E.A.R.’s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Pete Kember), and although the collaborators can’t accurately remember how they met or when they met, but what they do clearly recall is that the idea of collaborating together was brought up in an email exchange back in 2015. At the time, No Joy had finishing touring to support their third album More Faithful, an album that the duo has considered one of their most difficult and demanding efforts they’ve worked on together, and White-Gluz was eager to try new ideas and do something different. “No Joy functioned as a four-piece ‘rock band’ for so long,” White-Gluz explains in press notes. “I wanted to pursue something solo where I collaborated with someone else who could help me approach my songs from a completely different angle. Pete is a legend and someone I’ve admired for a long time. Being able to work with him on this was incredible.”

Initially, the collaboration began as a bit of exploration between two friends, who admired each other’s work with each one passing songs back and and forth with White-Gluz writing and producing songs in her hometown of Montreal and Kember writing, arranging and producing in Portugal. The end result was their collaborative EP together — four tracks that reportedly walk the tightrope between electronica, trip hop and experimental noise.  As White-Gluz says in press notes, “I wrote some songs that were intended for a full band and handed them off to Pete, who helped transform them. I barely knew how to use MIDI so I was just throwing him these experiments I was working on and he fine-tuned my ideas. There are barely any guitars on this album, because I was focused on trying to find new ways to create sounds.”

Now, as you may recall, the EP’s first single “Obsession” featured a Giorgio Moroder meets Evil Heat-era Primal Scream-like production featuring shimmering and undulating club friendly synths and a mesmerizing, trance-like groove. “Slorb,” the EP’s latest single is a slow-burning and atmospheric track which features a minimalist production consisting of wobbling synths and electronics, brief bursts of guitar, and skittering beats within a highly unusual song structure — and interestingly enough, the song finds the collaborators nodding at experimental pop, ambient electronica and noise pop simultaneously.