Tag: Black Flag

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Ibeyi Teams up with BERWYN on a Swaggering and Impassioned Re-Imagining of Black Flag Anthem

Deriving their name from the Yoruba word for twins ibeji, the acclaimed French-Cuban, London-based twin sibling duo and JOVM mainstays Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee) — Lisa-Kainde Diaz and Naomi Diaz — can trace the origins of their music career to growing up in a deeply musical home: their father, Anga Diaz, was best known for his work as a member of the intentionally acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club and for collaborating with Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez and Compay Segundo. Anga died when the twins turned 11.

After their father’s death, Lisa-Kainde and Naomi began studying Yoruba folk songs and the cajon, an Afro-Caribbean drum that the twins’ father played throughout most of his career. Interestingly, although Yoruba is primarily spoken in Nigeria and Benin, the African language has been spoken in some form in Cuba since the 1700s, when the slave trade brought Africans en masse to the Caribbean. So when the twins started studying their late father’s musical and culture heritage, they had a deeper understanding of their father and of their ancestral history.

Ibeyi’s 2015 self-titled debut was released to widespread, international critical applause. Thematically, the album dealt with the weight of the past — in particular, their father’s life and death, their relationship with each other, their origins and their connection with their roots. Sonically, the album saw the Diaz Sisters quickly establishing a unique sound with elements of electro pop, hip-hop, jazz, the blues and Yoruba folk music.

The French-Cuban JOVM mainstays’ sophomore album 2017’s Ash saw them writing songs firmly rooted in Afro-Cuban culture and history — but while arguably being among the most visceral, politically charged material of their catalog to date, with the album’s material thematically touching upon race, gender and sexual identity. 

Slated for a May 6, 2022 release through XL RecordingsSpell 31, Ibeyi’s third album derives its title from “Spell 31” in The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, which interestingly enough became the premise of the album’s first single “Made of Gold,” a lushly textured song featuring atmospheric synths, buzzing bass synths, skittering tweeter and woofer rattling beats, the twins’ gorgeous and dreamy harmonizing and a guest spot from Gambian-British emcee Pa Salieu.

When the twins returned to the studio to write and record new material, they had felt a sense of chaos, informed by the chaotic state of the world surrounding them. As they got to work, they set out to invoke the age-old teachings of their ancestors to remobilize the power of their birth-given destiny as Ibeyi. 

The album reportedly sees the twins on a path to restoration in pursuit of true harmony, healing and magic — all of which, we desperately need right now. The JOVM mainstays commissioned activist and storyteller Janaya Future Khan to write an essay for them, after meeting the activist and storyteller. Khan explains “Ibeyi’s Spell 31 is their boldest offering yet, an antidote to apathy in a divided world.” They explain further, “Spell 31 casts with conviction, transmuting nihilism into sangoma, binaries into endless dualites, moral austerity into abundance. A subversive and halcyonic manifesto from queens of a sovereign land, Ibeyi occupies the liminal, the space between life and death, past and present, right and wrong, and calls for the interior revelations that create the systemic revolutions we long for.”

Continuing their successful collaboration with their long-time producer Richard Russell, Spell 31‘s 10 songs were written, produced and recorded by the duo and features appearances from Jorja SmithBERYWN, the twins’ father and mother, and the aforementioned Pa Salieu. The album also features a reimagining of Black Flag‘s “Rise Above.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about album track “Sister 2 Sister.” Centered around a hyper-modern production featuring wobbling bass synths, skittering beats, glistening synths and the twins’ uncanny and gorgeous harmonizing, “Sister 2 Sister” is inspired by their Afro-Latin roots and their sisterhood: The song sees the twins recalling a fond memory of singing along to Shakira in the mirror. But they also talk of the knowledge that despite the times they might be at odds with other, they know they can always depend on and rely on each other.

Spell 31‘s latest single sees the JOVM mainstays re-imaging Black Flag‘s 1981 anthem “Rise Above” that features a guest spot from London-based artist BERWYN. Having never heard the song before, Lisa-Kainde and Naomi were presented the song’s lyrics by their producer Richard Russell. They quickly got to work, looping an old sample of their father drums, improvising a completely new sonic take for a song originally written back in the 80s, that still resonate now.

Centered around stuttering, reverb-drenched beats, buzzing bass synths, the Diaz Sisters soulful and impassioned delivery, the Ibeyi take on “Rise Above” still calls out the rich and powerful, who control us — and young people’s desire to stand up and make a new, fairer world. BERWYN delivers a fiery guest verse in which he says “if the revolution is now, I’m the first to join in the fight!” The collaboration between the JOVM mainstays and BERWYN manages to make a vital connection between punk rock, hip-hop and Black Lives Matter — reminding the listener that the struggles of punks in the 80s are the pretty much the same as BLM today.

“We read the lyrics and we immediately felt their relevance to how we felt about the world in its current state,” Lisa-Kainde Diaz explain sin press notes. “We got to work on the melody and had the full song done in 5 minutes. Jorja Smith heard the track and told us we had to get BERWYN on the song. We had him by the studio to listen to the full album. I left to make tea, upon returning to the studio BERWYN had already written his verse for “Rise Above,” before he had even finished listening to the album. We knew we had something special, what a gift!”

New Video: Pink Mountaintops Cover Black Flag

Founded by British Columbia-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Black Mountain frontman Stephen McBean in 2004, Pink Mountaintops has always supplied him an outlet for his more arcane fascinations and obsessions.

The 12-song Peacock Pools, the first batch of new material from Pink Mountaintops in over eight years, is sparked from his self-described magpie-like curiosity for a diverse and wild array of pop culture: the sci-fi boy horror of David Cronenberg, Disney Read-Along Records from the 1970s, early Pink Floyd, mid-career Gary Numan, John Carpenter movies, Ornette Coleman live videos, a 1991 essay on the cult of bodybuilding by postmodern feminist writer and thinker Camille Paglia, and more.

Featuring contributions from Redd Kross‘ Steven McDonald, Melvins‘ Dale Crover recorded live in the studio, the Peacock Pools‘ material took shape from a bath of songs McBean first pieced together during the pandemic’s early days: “I’d moved into this cool little ’50s rancher house outside L.A. and was just mucking about in my bedroom studio, and pretty soon I started reaching out to some friends who were also shacked up and craving broadband sonic collaboration,” Black Mountain and Pink Mountaintops’ Stephen McBean recalls.

Over the next few months, McBean began working remotely with an All-Star lineup of indie rock, psych rock and garage rock players that included Destroyer and Black Mountains’ Joshua Wells (drums, piano); Feels and Death Valley Girls‘ Leana Myers-Ionita (violin, vocals); Ryley Walker and Steve Gunn‘s Ryan Jewell (drums); Ty Segall‘s and Emily Rose & The Rounders’ Emily Rose Epstein (vocals); and Black Mountain’s and Sinoia Caves‘ Jeremey Schmidt (keys).

Produced by McBean and mixed in Vancouver by Dave “Rave” Oglivie, Pink Mountaintops‘ fifth album may arguably be the most eclectic, strangest and unpredictable batch of songs to date.

Peacock Pools‘ second and latest single sees McBean and company crafting a piano-laced and bluesy, garage psych take on Black Flag‘s pent-up and wiry “Nervous Breakdown” that unspools with a cool, surfer dude on shrooms-like insouciance.

“Steven McDonald used to always play a disco version of that bassline to annoy [Black Flag co-founder] Keith Morris when they were sound-checking for OFF!, and it ended up fitting perfectly with the demo I’d made,” McBean reveals, referring to McDonald and Morris’s hardcore supergroup. Speaking of Morris, he emphatically approves of the Pink Mountaintops cover, sharing the following: “Great job taking a song that’s been beaten to death by numerous punker dunkers and turning it into your own song! BRAVO!!!!”

McBean created a mischievous accompanying visual for “Nervous Breakdown” that features found footage and appearances from McBean, Red Kross’ Steven McDonald, Feels and Death Valley Girls’ Leana Myers-Ionita, Destroyer and Black Mountain’s Joshua Wells and Ryley Walker’s and Steve Gunn’s Ryan Jewell rocking out in their respective homes.

Peacock Pools is slated for a May 6, 2022 release through ATO Records and Cadence Music Group.

New Video: Netherlands Releases a Stark Visual Full of Existential Dread

Formed by its creative mastermind, Timo Ellis, a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has collaborated with Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto, John Zorn, Melvins, Gibby Haynes, Ween, Joan As Police Woman, Spacehog, White Hills and others back in 2010, the New York-based act NETHERLANDS currently features Chealsea “Thee Chuq” Wierbonski, John Musto and Damien Moffitt. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past handful of years, you may recall that the New York-based band has developed a reputation for adhering to a sound and approach that actively rejects restraint for ambitious maximalism featuring pummeling drumming, dexterous guitar shredding, rapid fire tone, tempo and time signature changes — while being remarkably hook-driven in a way that sort of recalls Melvins, Torche, Mastodon and Jane’s Addiction.  

Building upon a growing profile, the members of NETHERLANDS have played with a number of renowned and acclaimed acts across a diverse and eclectic array of genres and styles including Napalm Death, Melt Banana, Mutoid Man, Yob, Black Flag, EYEHATEGOD, Candiria, Valient Thorr, Child Abuse, Mutilation Rites, Primitive Weapons, Freshkills, Vaz, Naam, Martin Rev, The Giraffes, The Death Set, BANGLADEAFY! DN’T, Unstoppable Death Machines, Mouth of the Architect, White Hills, Gull, Godmaker, Spacehog, The Austerity Program, No Way, Moon Tooth and Radkey.

Recalling an industrial-leaning take on King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Murder of the Universe, Netherlands’ latest single “Zombie Techno” retains the pummeling sound and sludgy power chords that has won them attention but while arguably being one of the most danceable — yes, really danceable — songs they’ve released to date.  “The theme of his song, as well as our entire new wave of material, is a comment on the illusion of community and civic participation that’s become the currency of all the new media platforms,” the band’s Timo Ellis explains. “Virtually everyone is constantly feeding overlapping algorithms that are sustained by a near-constant supply of curated narcissism, which while outwardly appearing to be ‘issue driven,’ much more often than not, don’t actually reflect any kind of real world action or real coalition-building or organization, whatsoever.”

Directed and designed by Kenny Curwood, the recently released video for “Zombie Techno” is centered around incredibly stark New Yorker cartoon-like animation, which shows human history and the human condition but through the lens of psychedelic, existential dread. Ultimately, the visual features an indifferent universe that sarcastically smirks and mocks humanity’s attempt to make meaning of their lives, as well as putting existence to a danceable rhythm.  

New Video: Two from Grunge Legends L7

Currently comprised of founding members Donita Sparks (vocals, guitar) and Suzi Gardner (guitar, vocals) along with Jennifer Finch (bass) and Demetra Plakas (drums), the acclaimed and pioneering, Los Angeles-based grunge act L7 can trace their origins back to 1985, a full year after Gardner had contributed backing vocals to Black Flag’s “Slip It In.”

Once Sparks and Gardner formed the band, they were added by Finch and Roy Koutsky (drums). Koutsky left shortly after and was briefly replaced by Anne Anderson (drums) in 1988. After Anderson left the band, Plakas became the band’s permanent drummer. Although they formed Rock for Choice, a pro-choice women’s rights group that was supported by the likes of Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, and Rage Against the Machine, they’re best known for their third album, 1992’s Butch Vig-produced Bricks Are Heavy, which featured their seminal track (and smash hit) “Pretend We’re Dead.” “Pretend We’re Dead” spent 13 weeks on the US Alternative Charts, peaking at #8 and reached #21 on the UK Singles Chart.

After the release of 1994’s Hungry for Stink, which was supported by that year’s Lollapalooza tour with Smashing Pumpkins and The Breeders, the band went through a number of lineup changes: Finch left the band during the recording of 1997’s The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum, an album that featured bass playing by Sparks and Greta Brinkman; however, Belly’s Gail Greenwood joined the band.

1999’s Slap-Happy didn’t chart on either side of the Atlantic, and sometime after the release of that album, the Los Angeles-based grunge band went through yet another lineup changes with Greenwood leaving the band to be replaced by Stone Fox’s Janis Tanaka, who later played bass in Pink’s and Bif Naked’s backing bands.

By 2001, the members of L7 weren’t touring and were on an indefinite hiatus. During that time Sparks formed a new band, Donita Sparks and The Stellar Moments while Finch was a member of punk rock act The Shocker. Simultaneously during that period, Sparks was working on a documentary on the band, which was rumored to have a 2014 release date. And interestingly enough, by the end of 2014 the band announced that they would reuniting featuring the lineup with which they achieved their biggest success — Sparks, Gardner, Finch and Plakas.

The reunited L7 toured Europe and North America with a number of stops across the international circuit in 2015 including Germany’s Rock am Ring, Riot Fest stops in Denver and Chicago, and Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Festival.  The Sarah Price-directed L7 documentary, L7: Pretend We’re Dead was released in 2016 while the band was on a busy tour schedule throughout both 2016 and 2017.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding the reunited band, the members of the Los Angeles-based grunge outfit released “Dispatch from Mar-a-Lago,” their first new song in almost 18 years in September 2017. They followed that up with “I Came Back to Bitch,” which was released in February 2018. The band’s recently released seventh album Scatter the Rats is the first album from the Los Angeles-based grunge outfit in 20 years and from album singles “Burn Baby” and “Stadium West,” the new album is sort of a return to form: scuzzy and distorted power chords, thunderous drumming, snarled lyrics and rousingly anthemic hooks. And interestingly enough, both singles reveal that the members of L7 have had a massive influence on contemporary indie rock — you can hear L7’s influence in the work of JOVM mainstays The Coathangers, Sharkmuffin, Dream Wife and others. 

Comprised of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Timo Ellis, who has recorded and played with the likes of Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto, John Zorn, Melvins, Gibby Haynes, Ween, Joan As Police Woman, Spacehog, White Hills and others, and has released over 25 wildly varied solo albums as TE and other pseudonyms; Ava Farber (synthbass), Joel “Moon Daddy” Willis (drums) and Chealsea “Thee Chuq” Wierbonski (synthbass) the New York-based act NETHERLANDS since their formation back in 2008 have developed a firmly-held reputation for a maximalist approach that follows Ellis’ personal mission statement of making music that can be equally light-hearted, brutal and ecstatic centered around power chord led shredding, pummeling drumming, soaring vocals and madding hooks.

And while generally possessing a difficult to describe sound, the band which draws from heavy metal, arena rock, post-hardcore and math rock, the members of the New York-based act have played with a number of renowned acts across a variety of genres and styles including Napalm Death, Melt Banana, Mutoid Man, Yob, Black Flag, EYEHATEGOD, Candiria, Valient Thorr, Child Abuse, Mutilation Rites, Primitive Weapons, Freshkills, Vaz, Naam, Martin Rev, The Giraffes, The Death Set, BANGLADEAFY! DN’T, Unstoppable Death Machines, Mouth of the Architect, White Hills, Gull, Godmaker, Spacehog, The Austerity Program, No Way, Moon Tooth and Radkey.

​The New York-based act’s Black Gaia is slated for release this Friday through Records and Tapes Records, and from the album’s latest single “Army!,” the album will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting pummeling and furious material centered around equally enormous power chords and arena rock friendly hooks, distorted synthbass and Ellis’s shouting politically charged lyrics, lambasting rampant commercialism and greed — all while drawing from math rock, psych rock and thrash metal in a way that reminds me of Cinemechanica. Arguably, this song may be one for the most explosive and forceful rippers I’ve heard all year, and it’s so fucking necessary.

NETHERLANDS will be touring with Mastodon and Dinosaur Jr. throughout September. Check out the tour dates below.

Mastodon, Dinosaur Jr, Netherlands – 2018 tour:
Sep 1 – Edmonton, AB @ Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Sep 2 – Calgary, AB @ Grey Eagle Resort & Casino
Sep 4 – Saskatoon, SK @ O’Brian’s Event Centre
Sep 6 – Winnipeg, MB @ Burton Cummings Theatre
Sep 7 – Duluth, MN @ Duluth Heritage Center
Sep 8 – Sioux City, IA @ Anthem @ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Sep 11 – Milwaukee, WI @ Eagles Ballroom
Sep 12 – Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre
Sep 14 – Fort Wayne, IN @ Clyde Theatre
Sep 15 – Grand Rapids, MI @ 20 Monroe Live
Sep 16 – London, ON @ London Concert Theatre
Sep 17 – Kitchener, ON @ Elements
Sep 19 – Hamilton, ON @ FirstOntario Concert Hall
Sep 20 – Port Chester, NY @ Capitol Theatre
Sep 21 – Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore

Comprised of Jay Sillence (vocals), Max Watt (guitar, vocals), Dani Barge (bass) and Dom Smith (drums), the up-and-coming York, UK-based hardcore metal act SEEP AWAY cite Black Flag, Cancer Bats, Bongripper, Turnstile, God Damn, Soulfly and Marilyn Manson as influences on their sound and approach. And in a relatively short period of time, the York-based quartet have begun to develop a reputation for being one of the region’s hardest working bands — and for a sound that may remind many listeners to Follow the Leader-era Korn and others.

Building on a growing profile, the band’s debut effort, The Blackened Carnival of Societal Ineptitude is slated for an early 2018 release, and the album’s first single is an explosive and feral cover of what may arguably be one of the greatest songs in the history of hip-hop — Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.” And I suspect that it would make ODB very proud while being mosh pit worthy.

 

 

 

 

 

Live Footage: Xiu Xiu Covers ZZ Top on AV Club “Undercover”

I’ve long been a fan of The Onion AV Club, as I think they’ve consistently offered some of most incisive and hilarious criticism of movies, movies and pop culture, written by some of the country’s smartest critics and writers. And it shouldn’t be surprising that for a long time I longed to write for them. Now, since moving exclusively to the interwebs, the folks at The Onion AV Club created the Undercover video series.  The concept behind the video series is pretty interesting — every season, the website’s writers and editors devise a list of songs that they would love to hear some contemporary artist or band cover.

The website’s staff then invites artists and bands over to their Chicago studio, where the invited band chooses a song from the AV Club’s list for that particular session — and then the band or artist records it in a live session. Here’s where things get truly interesting: Once a song is chosen and then covered, it’s crossed off their list, reducing the number of songs anyone else can cover that season, so if an artist or band is invited later on in their season, their choices may be much more limited than a band that was invited earlier. By doing that, it prevents having several invited artists or bands from covering the same sets of songs over and and over and over again.

And while revealing the influences and tastes of many contemporary acts, it also forces artists out of their confront zones, sometimes to a gloriously weird result — such as  They Might Be Giants’ boisterous  cover of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and Screaming Females‘ feral, punk rock cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Gwar’s thrash punk covers of Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams (And Into My Car),”  and  Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” which are so fucking awesome, that you need to check them out below) or to the “oh shit, I never thought that artist could pull that song,” like  Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater’s collaborative cover of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” And as you can imagine, sometimes the covers are straightforward — and other times, the band or artist brings a unique, never thought of take. Adding to the unpredictability of the series, they’ve had Shearwater cover Bowie’s Lodger in its entirety.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of this very strange year, you may recall that to start off the eighth season of Undercover, The A.V. Club invited the Seattle, WA-based indie rock blogosphere darlings Minus the Bear to their newly redesigned Chicago studio, where they played a forceful and lovingly straightforward cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.” Adding to a pretty interesting season of covers, The A.V. Club invited renowned and incredibly prolific experimental indie rock act Xiu Xiu into the studio, where they contributed a tense, manic, almost Devo “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”-like cover of ZZ Top’s smash hit “Sharp Dressed Man,” complete with a wild drum accompaniment that brings new life to an oft covered song. 

Along with their John Congleton-produced 11th full-length effort FORGET, which was released earlier this year, the members of Xiu Xiu will be releasing a split 7 inch with Italian band (r) and it’ll feature both bands covering ZZ Top. 

As Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart explains in press notes, “It took me a long time to come around to ZZ Top. When I was a kid i thought they were a joke band and their beards and campy sexuality freaked me out. Later on Xiu Xiu tours we would and still do always listen to the Black Flag tour diary Get In The Van wherein Henry Rollins mentions playing ZZ Top to all the punks in England, telling them it was the new Exploited record and watching them cry. 

This was funny and I thought hmmm .  . .

Then after watching a long jag of music documentaries, Billy Gibbons, of ZZ Top, time and time again was a commentator. He was always incredibly smart, clearly deeply devoted to the history of music and insane looking.  

We were asked by the AV Club cover’s series to play a song from a list they had chosen. Everything on the list was a bunch of 90s RnB that I was never into or lame-o indie rock EXCEPT for ‘Sharp Dressed Man.’

The stars had aligned. I had no idea what a radical guitar part it was and what a pleasure it was to learn, by the end of the song I had to have 4 different fuzz and distortion pedals on to make it as zonked out as it needs to be. 

Walking down the streets of Torino on tour and talking with dear friend and long time collaborator Fabrizio Palumbo of (r) and his husband Paul Beauchamp. I mentioned we were covering the song. They said very matter of factly, “‘Xiu Xiu as ZZ Top and (r) as ZZ Bottom. Let’s do a split 7 inch.’”

He sent in his perfect minimal, experimental, goth, cabaret version of ‘Gimme All Your Lovin.’ A perversion made in heaven was born. “