Tag: Billboard

New VIdeo: Follow St. Vincent on a Gritty 70s Inspired Heist

Initially starting her professional career as a member of The Polyphonic Spree and as a touring member of Sufjan Stevens’ touring band, the Tulsa-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark stepped out into the limelight as a solo artist and frontperson with her acclaimed project St. Vincent. Since the release of 2007’s full-length debut Marry Me, Clark’s work has continued to grow in stature and complexity with her self-titled fourth album winning a 2014 Grammy for Best Alternative Album, making her only the second female artist to ever win in that category.

Along with her work as a solo artist, Clark has collaborated with the legendary David Byrne on 2012’s Love This Giant, performed with the living members of Nirvana at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and da 2019 Grammy Awards duet with Dua Lipa.

Clark collaborated with co-producer Jack Antonoff on 2017’s critically applauded, smash hit album MASSEDUCATION, an album that landed on both the US and UK Top 10 Charts while landing at #1 of the Best of 2017 list of The New York Times and The Guardian — and placing high on the Best of 2017 lists of The AV Club, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, Mashable, New York Daily News, NME, Paste, Pitchfork, Q, Stereogum, USA Today and a length list of others. 2018’s MassEducation found Clark collaborating with pianist Thomas Bartlett: Recorded over two nights in August 2017, the effort found Clark stripping back MASSEDUCATION’s material to its bare bones, revealing the vulnerable and earnest songwriting at their core.

MASSEDUCATION’s title track won a Grammy for Best Rock Song with the album winning another Grammy for Best Recording Package in 2019. As she was celebrating an enviable run of critical and commercial success, Clark’s father was released from prison. Clark began writing a new batch of materials which would become her soon-to-be released seventh album, Daddy’s Home. Daddy’s Home thematically closes the loop the loop on a journey that began with her father’s incarceration back in 2019 — and it ultimately led her back to the vinyl records her dad had introduced her when she was child — the gritty and sleazy rock records written and recorded in New York between 1971-1975.

Interestingly, Daddy’s Home’s latest single, “Down” is centered around a groove that’s simultaneously sultry and anxious with the track evoking images of the legendarily sleazy New York: in this case, a coke and booze fueled bender that starts at the local bar, features a stop at CBGB’s or Max’s Kansas City to see Blondie or Ramones before heading off to Studio 54. Warhol is somewhere in this picture, right? Now, while some critics have compared the album’s overall aesthetic and sound to Young Americans-era Bowie and Prince, “Down” to my ears reminds me more of Station to Station and Lodger-era Bowie. It’s far more anxious and murkier with a bit of menace seeping through.

Co-directed by Clark and Bill Benz, the recently released video features Clark in Candy Darling-like regalia through an anxious chase that’s one part French Connection and one part drug-fueled, paranoid fever dream. It fits the song’s careening and glitchy groove perfectly.

Snohomish, Washington-based Americana act FretlandHillary Grace Fretland, Jake Haber and Luke Martin — released their self-titled full-length debut to critical praise from Billboard, American Songwriter, The Boot, Gimme Country, Americana Highways and No Depression, who wrote that “this talented Americana band … has a bright future ahead of it.” Their shimmering and aching ballads, which feature elements of alt-country and indie rock have managed to amass over a million streams across the globe.

Much like countless acts across the globe, the rising Pacific Northwest-based trio embarked on a successful West Coast tour in early 2020 but subsequent tours across the US and Europe were put on indefinite hold as a result of the pandemic. However, during that time the band wrote and recorded their highly-anticipated sophomore Nich Wilbur-produced sophomore album Could Have Loved You. Slated for a March 26, 2021 release through Soundly Music, Could Have Loved You reportedly finds the band crafting material that sonically is equal parts Nashville country, Pacific Northwest indie rock and dream pop. Thematically, the nine-song sophomore album finds the band telling stories of lost love and hard-won yet necessary lessons learned.

Could Have Loved You‘s third and latest single “Too Much” is a shimmering honky tonk that’s a proudly defiant yet a bit tongue-in-cheek anthem for those who have honestly stopped giving a damn about what people think — and attempted to just live their own lives. Interestingly, the song is inspired and informed by personal experience:

“There was indeed a wedding in Capitol Hill where I drank too much, danced too much, smoked too much, regretted too much, and punished myself too damn much,” the band’s Hilary Face Fretland explains in press notes. “A trait I am still trying to remedy. The only inconsistency in the song is that sometimes you can be ‘too serious’ or ‘not serious enough.’ That was deliberate. At the end of the day, if you’re feeling too much of anything you’re just being too hard on yourself. And I personally can “feel” too serious and not serious enough in a matter of hours.”  

Kevin Rodrigues is a Paris-born and-based electronic music artist, producer and DJ, best known in electronic music circles as Worakls. Rodrigues, who grew up in a musical family, started to learn the piano when he had turned three. After studying in a conservatory, he started to dedicate his time to electronic music and composition.

After receiving acclaim for his remixes and his earliest solo releases, Rodrigues along with his friends N’to and Joachim Pastor founded Hungry Music in 2014. Since the formation of Hungry Records, Rodrigues has been praised by Billboard, who referred to him as a “rising French DJ” and described his tracks as “serious techno with a light touch,” full of focused, nervous energy.”

In 2019, the rising French electronic music artist, DJ and producer released his full-length debut Orchestra. The label went on a brief hiatus — and they returned with a slew of releases including a series of remixes to celebrate the second anniversary of Orchestra‘s initial release.

Recently, Patrice Bäumel, an acclaimed East German-born, Amsterdam-based electronic music artist, DJ and producer remixed Orchestra album track “Detached Motion.” The remix finds Bäumel retaining the arpeggiated and gently morphing synths of the original, the East German-born, Dutch-based producer’s take feels cinematic and expansive, with the track slowly and continuously building up energy and tension paired with a muscular and insistent thump and euphoric hooks. Sonically, the song — to my ears, at least — is a seamless synthesis of Tour de France-era Kraftwerk and deep house, imbued with a cosmic sheen.

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BLAZAR · Tomorrow

 

Jerad Finck is and artist and producer and the creative mastermind behind the rising indie electro pop act BLAZAR. The project was formed last year, after he released the breakthrough single “Criminal” which sold 57,000 copies an independent and charting on the Billboard charts and caught the attention of AntiFragile Music‘s Tom Sarig, who signed him to a recording contract.

Finck’s idea behind BLAZAR was to create music in an old school fashion, bar by bar by bar, with some of the talented producers, artists and vocalists he had been working with throughout the last few years — but in something entirely new, where there was complete creative control.  Finck’s BLAZAR full-length debut will find Finck collaborating with producer/songwriter Steven Solomon, Denny White, Anthony Resta, Troy Welstad, Jay Condiotti, Hans DeKline, Jake Newton, and David Felice among others. The album’s latest single, the infectious, summertime anthem “Tomorrow” is a collaboration with DAXSEN that’s centered around shimmering analog synths, copious modulations and other effects and thumping beats.  Interestingly, underneath the slick production, is a deliberate attention to craft, as the song reveals an unerring ability to craft, as the song reveals an unerring ability to craft an infectious, crowd pleasing hook.

 

 

New Video: Cutting Crew Revisit and Re-work Their 80s Smash Hit

Tracing their origins back to when its founding members Nick Van Eede (guitar, vocals) and Canadian-born Kevin MacMichael toured Canada as members of The Drivers and Fast Forward respectively, the Grammy-nominated, Sussex, UK-based rock act Cutting Crew was formed in London in 1985. Within a few months of their formation, the band — then a duo — signed with Siren Records/Virgin on the strength of their demos. 

By 1986, the band expanded into a quartet and went into the studio to record their breakthrough full-length debut Broadcast, which featured their smash-hit single “(I Just) Died in Your Arms.” The song was a multi-format hit in the States, hitting number 1 on the Top 40, number 4 on Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, number 24 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and an extended remix version landed at number 37 on the Hot Dance/Club Play chart. The song also landed on the top of the Canadian and Norwegian Charts while hitting in the top 10 of the singles charts in the UK, Switzerland, South African, Sweden, Ireland and Austria. Undoubtably, the act’s biggest song, it’s arguably one of the more memorable songs of the 80s — and as a result, you’ll hear the song in Hot Tub Time Machine, Stranger Things, Ash Vs. Evil Dead, and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. 

Broadcast also featured “I’ve Been in Love Before” and “One for the Mockingbird,” both of which also received massive commercial success with the songs reaching the Billboard Top 10 and Top 20 Charts respectively. As a result of their success the band wound up opening for the likes of The Bangles, Jefferson Starship and Huey Lewis & The News, eventually playing their own sold-out headlining shows. 

The band went on to write and record two more albums — 1989’s sophomore effort The Scattering and 1992’s third album Compus Mentus. After Kevin MacMichael’s death, the band went on an extended hiatus but after about a decade, van Eede chose to revive the band with a new lineup. And with the new lineup, the band recorded their fourth album 2006’s Grinning Souls in MacMichael’s hometown in Nova Scotia. The band then went on to release 2015’s Add to Favourites. Since the band’s reunion, they’ve toured across Mexico, Canada, Australia and Japan. 

The band’s latest album Ransomed Healed Restored Forgiven was released earlier this year, and the album’s latest single finds the band re-working “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” with a string arrangement while retaining the song’s familiar and beloved elements — including that rapturous chorus. Certainly, as a child of the 80s listening to the original and the reworked version bring back a lot of memories — but while subtly making the song more contemporary. 

New Video: Rising Los Angeles-based Indie Act Polartropica Releases a Swooning, Queer Meet Cute

Led by its Taiwanese-born, Los Angeles-based creative mastermind Ihui (pronounced as Eeway) Cherise Wu and featuring Andrew Lessman, Graham Chapman and Alexander Noice, the Los Angeles-based indie act Polartropica has received attention locally and elsewhere for an ethereal and spacey taken dream pop that’s centered around organic and synthetic instrumentation, quickly pop melodies and classical string arrangements. Musically, Wu aims to allow listeners to let their imaginations run wild, with the hopes that her work is a little escape from the harshness of reality — if even just for a little bit. “I wanted to create a healing, inspiring and empowering space with just the right amount of disco-party,” Wu says. 

Last year, Wu and company were named LA Weekly’s Best Indie Pop Band of 2019 and received praise from Billboard, LADYGUNN and others. Polartropica’s recently released, full-length debut Dreams Comes True further cements the band’s attention grabbing sound while building upon a rapidly growing profile. Thematically, the album draws from stories of people she knows, world news and Wu’s experiences as a queer Asian-American living in California, which imbues the material with a deeply personal air. “In Another Life,” Dreams Come True’s latest single is a perfect example of the band’s genre-mashing, difficult to pigeonhole sound and approach. Centered around a sinuous and strutting, disco-styled bass line, shimmering and atmospheric synths, four-on-the-floor drumming, Wu’s ethereal vocals and an infectious hook, the song is a swooning and dreamy yet dance floor friendly take on dream pop. Thematically, the song focuses on karmic love, and the heart falling into your stomach feeling when meeting someone for the first time and yet it feels like you’ve known them forever. 

Written by Wu and directed by Stephanie Kim, the recently released video for “In Another Life” is the first part of a video trilogy — and it’s a boldly queer fever dream that plays on Grease and James Dean movies, complete with an adorable meet cute between the video’s protagonists. 

New Video: Rapidly Rising Early James Releases a Southern Gothic-Influenced Visual for Brooding “It Doesn’t Matter Now”

Early James is a Birmingham, AL-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and frontman of the Birmingham-based act Early James and The Latest. Along with bandmates James Mullis and Adrian Marmolejo, the act seamlessly meshes roots rock, the blues, early rock and classic country.  The band is Dan Auerbach’s latest singing to his Easy Eye Sound Records — and as the story goes, Auerbach decided he needed to produce James’ work after watching roughly two seconds of the Birmingham-based singer/songwriter and guitarist performing. “Every line has to mean something to him, personally. It’s not good enough to just write a good song, it needs to have a deeper meaning,” Auerbach says of working with James. “He’s unlike any person I’ve ever worked with. He’s not writing a song to be universal; he’s writing a song for him.”

Singing for My Supper, Early James’ full-length debut is slated for a March 13, 2020 release through Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch Records.  Reportedly, the Dan Auberach and David “Fergie” Ferguson-produced debut features ten-wide ranging songs that span across blues, folk and old-timey pop crooning that are influenced by Fiona Apple, Tom Waits and the Southern Gothic poets — while being deeply personal, full of world weary wisdom and informed by lived-in experience.  

Singing for My Supper’s second and latest single “It Doesn’t Matter Now” tells a tale of a bitter breakup of a dramatic and dysfunctional relationship with recriminations and accusations and deliberately hurtful actions coming from both sides. Musically, the song is centered around a cinematic and brooding Chris Issak “Wicked Game” meets Mississippi Delta Blues arrangement — reverb drenched guitars, gently padded drumming, a sinuous bass line and James’ incredible vocals, which express the heartbreak, bitterness, pride, longing and ambivalence at the core of the song. 

Directed by Tim Hardman, the recently released video is a Southern Gothic-influenced visual that recalls Deliverance, A Time to Kill and others, as it stars James, his backing band and a collection of sideshow freaks and primarily set in and around a creepily beaten up cabin in the middle of nowhere. But the video’s protagonist are the sideshow freak couple, who inflict pain on each other — and gleefully enjoy it. “The subject matter for this song is pretty heavy. I felt there needed to be some aggression on screen but didn’t want it to play out like a typical break up,” Hardman told Billboard. “For some reason, Sideshow Bennie, whom I worked with several years ago, popped in my head. I looked him up and learned he was now working with a sidekick, Anna Fiametta. When I read how they met, I thought it was a funny story that would fit the song. The thought of them inflicting pain on each other, and the pleasure they receive from it, was intriguing. I pitched the idea to Early and I’m grateful he got it and trusted my vision for his song.”

Last year, I wrote a bit about the rapidly rising Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, Luna Shadows.  The Los Angeles-based pop artist began her career as a touring member of the acclaimed New Zealand-based synth pop act The Naked and Famous— but Shadows went solo, because she felt she had a voice that demanded to be heard on its own terms.

Since leaving The Naked and famous, Luna Shadows has developed a reputation for a staunchly DIY approach frequently writing, performing, producing, engineering and editing every single note of her work — and for crafting sultry, melancholy pop that Billboard has called “. . . refreshingly soulful and haunting .  .  . ,” and compared by some critics as Lana Del Rey taking Lorde to the beach. Adding to a growing national profile, the Los Angeles-based artist’s work  has amassed well over 35 million Spotify streams with tracks landing on tastemaker playlists like New Music Friday, Indie Pop, Weekend Beats and Weekly Buzz and landing as high as #7 on the US Charts and #18 on the Global Viral Charts.  She’s also received airplay on a number of radio stations  globally including KROQ, BBC Radio 1 and Beats 1 — all without the support of a label.

Last year saw Luna Shadow begin an ongoing collaboration with Now Now‘s Brad Hale and The Naked and Famous‘ Thom Powers to help shoulder the production and editing load — and she signed to +1 Records, who released three attention grabbing attention: “lowercase,” a track imbued with the bitterness, heartache and confusion of a dysfunctional relationship full of power plays, recriminations and accusations paired with a sleek and hyper-modern, trap-leaning production, “god.drugs.u” which continued in a similar vein as “lowercase” while possessing a plaintive and unfulfilled yearning and lastly. “practice,” a rumination on love and loss featuring Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back“-like synth arpeggios and Shadow’s plaintive vocals.

Shadows begins 2020 building up to the release of her highly-anticipated sophomore album with the release of her latest single “millennia,” which was cowritten with Chelsea Jade and continues her ongoing collaboration with Brady Hale and Thomas Powers. Centered around a pulsating and thumping beats, shimmering synth arpeggios and the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays achingly plaintive vocals, the track seethes with an irritable frustration, as it captures a narrator who’s worn out by the passive aggression and mixed messages of a love interest. She’s tired of being left in the dark and being confused as to what’s going on, and as a result the song captures a particular sensation that’s familiar to all of us: being left in the dark by someone we care about.

Shadows elaborates, “”millennia’ is essentially about different styles of dispute and communication. There are some people who prefer to confront things right away and talk until resolution is reached; conversely, there are others who run in the opposite direction and avoid confrontation all together. I personally find that the silent treatment tends to be more painful than confrontation.”

 

 

 

 

 

Born in Beirut, Lebanon to an Irish-American father and a British mother, who was of Arabic and Italian origin, singer/songwriter and actor Michael Malarkey grew up in Yellow Springs, OH. He  eventually relocated to London, where he studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. As the story goes, while studying acting and drama, Malarkey began to immerse himself in music and songwriting, which he found to be a form of poetic journalism and an endless journey of self-discovery.  Interestingly, although Malarkey may be best known for playing Enzo in CW‘s The Vampire Diaries and Captain Michael Quinn in the History Channel‘s Robert Zemeckis-executive produced Project Blue Bookhe has managed to simultaneously carve out a separate career as a singer/songwriter.

Malarkey’s full-length debut 2017’s Mongrels was released through Cap on Cat Records to critical applause from MetroBillboard, Classic Rock, and The Guardian. The album’s material thematically explored the duality of his nature and that of human nature in general. Recorded by Malarkey along with Tom Tapley and Brandon Bush in Atlanta, and from album title track “Mongrel,” the material possesses a subtle old-school Nashville/country vibe that further emphasizes the introspective nature of the song and of the album’s material.

Malarkey’s sophomore full-length album Graveracer is slated for a February 10, 2020 release through Cap on Cat Records/Kartel Music Group.  The album’s material was written in 2018 in Puerto Rico and Vancouver while the singer/songwriter and actor was working on the 50 Cent-produced crime drama The Oath and Project Blue Booth. That period was one of a physical and emotional turbulence: Malarkey, along with the cast and crew were evacuated from Puerto Rico during the build up of Hurricane Maria. And understandably, that experience has reportedly bled into the material’s lyrical imagery. “During the time I was working on the record, I escaped two hurricanes – as well as a third, I suppose, my own personal one. This record is my Odyssey in a way. It’s the journey back home after being ravaged in the seas of your own mind and finding the strength to carry on after the storm. I was left with a feeling of freedom and I found it through these songs,” the singer/songwriter and actor says in press notes.

Recorded at Sheffield, UK-based Tesla Studios and co-produced by Michael Malarkey and singer/songwriter A.A. WilliamsGraveracer is reportedly centered around a straightforward, heartfelt honesty in its songwriting and tone with the material being reflective without leaning on nostalgia and forward-thinking without being urgent; in fact, it’s rooted in the present, as a portrait of one complex and flawed person, as a work in progress — as we all are.

“Shake the Shiver,” Graveracer‘s latest single is a sparse and brooding single, centered around Malarkey’s sonorous baritone,  atmospheric synths, a simple yet propulsive backbeat, a sinuous bass line, strummed guitar and a razor sharp hook. And while recalling Daughn Gibson and Jace Everett, the track manages to be seductive yet full of a dark and creeping, existential dread.