Tag: blues rock

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Kills Releases a Sultry and Gritty Blues

Throughout the course of this site’s 10+ year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of ink covering the critically applauded and commercially successful duo The Kills. And with the release of albums like 2003’s Keep on Your Mean Side, 2005’s No Wow, 2008’s Midnight Boom, 2011’s Blood Pressures and 2016’s Ash & Ice, the duo — Alison Mosshart (vocals) and Jamie Hince (guitar, production) — have firmly cemented a reputation for crafting a scuzzy and swaggering power chord-based blues and garage rock sound and approach.

Since the release of Ash & Ice, the duo have been busy with their own, individual creative projects: Mosshart published a book of poetry and photography and released some solo material while Hince has been busy with production work. But the duo close out 2020 with the release of Little Bastards, a career-spanning compilation of B-sides and rarities.

The album derives its name from the affectionate nickname that the pair gave to the drum machine they used in their early days and a wry comment on the tracks eventual fate: in many cases, the tracks were crafted on to fill bonus-track space on CD singles, they effectively vanished with the release format that necessitated their creation. The material dates back from the duo’s first batches of 7 inch singles released between 2002 and 2009.

Newly remastered for release on CD, digital and on vinyl LP, it also marks the first ever vinyl pressing for some of the tracks. A significant portion of the compilation features covers — including their feral and sensuous cover of the oft-cover Screamin’ Jay Hawkins‘ “I Put A Spell On You.” Continuing in a similar vein the compilation’s latest single is the serpentine blues number “Weed Killer.” Centered around slashing bursts of distorted guitar and Mosshart’s sultry delivery, the song is everything I love about The Kills: gritty, dirty blues rock delivered with an ass-kicking, name-taking swagger.

The recently released Sally Walker Hudecki-directed video features footage from a Kills show in New York back in 2012. It’s an accurate representation of the duo’s live show and a reminder of what many of us miss so dearly.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Kills Cover Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You”

Throughout the course of this site’s 10+ year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of ink covering the critically applauded and commercially successful duo The Kills. And with the release of albums like 2003’s Keep on Your Mean Side, 2005’s No Wow, 2008’s Midnight Boom, 2011’s Blood Pressures and 2016’s Ash & Ice, the duo — Alison Mosshart (vocals) and Jamie Hince (guitar, production) — have cemented a reputation for crafting a scuzzy and swaggering power chord-based blues and garage rock sound and approach.

Some time has passed since I’ve come across new material from the JOVM mainstays. Individually, the members of The Kills have been busy with their own creative projects — Mosshart published a book of poetry and photography and released solo material while Hince has been busy with production work. But interestingly enough, earlier this month the acclaimed duo announced that they would be releasing a career-spanning B-side and rarity compilation titled Little Bastards.

Slated for a December 11, 2020 release through Domino Recording Company, Little Bastards consists of material that date back from the band’s first batches of 7 inch singles released in 2002 up until 2009. The material has been newly remastered for release on CD, digitally and on LP — and it makes the first ever vinyl pressings for some of the tracks. A great deal of the compilation features covers — including the album’s second and latest single, a somewhat straightforward cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ oft-covered Halloween classic “I Put A Spell On You” that bristles with a feral sensuality.

Edited by the band’s Mosshart, the recently released video for “I Put A Spell On You” features live footage from shows in Portland, OR; Pomona, CA; and San Francisco. While capturing the duo’s live energy, the video makes me miss live music so very much. Sigh.

New Video: Heartless Bastards Release a Surreal and Urgent Visual for Politically-Charged and Uplifting “Revolution”

Deriving their name from a hilariously incorrect answer on a multiple-choice trivia game (the question was: “What is the name of Tom Petty’s backing band), the acclaimed indie rock act Heartless Bastards was founded in Cincinnati by Dayton, OH-born singer/songwriter and guitarist Erika Wennerstrom back in 2003 in Cincinnati. Starting out as a solo recording project,. Heartless Bastards evolved into a live band with a revolving cast of musicians that regularly played throughout the Midwest.

The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney caught the band and was so impressed by what he had heard, that he passed along a copy of their demo to their label at the time — Fat Possum Records, who signed the band and released their first three albums: 2005’s Stairs and Elevators, 2006’s All This Time and 2009’s The Mountain. In between the writing and recording of All This Time and The Mountain, Wennerstrom relocated to Austin, TX. Around the time that Wennenrstrom relocated to Austin, the band’s touring lineup featured David Colvin (drums) and Jesse Ebaugh (bass), who both played on the Heartless Bastard demos recorded six years prior. The band expanded into a quartet with the 2009 addition of Mark Nathan (guitar).

The band signed to Partisan Records, who released the band’s last two critically applauded albums — 2012’s Arrow and 2015’s Restless Ones. And after 15 years of fronting the band, Wennnerstrom released her solo debut, 2018’s Sweet Unknown. “It was a deeply personal album and it just felt fitting to use my name,” Wennerstrom says of her solo debut. “It kind of forced me to allow myself to be a little more exposed, and stand on my own two feet. I feel like I’ve grown so much creatively and personally through this process.”

Recently, the band returned to the studio to work on their long-awaited Kevin Ratterman-produced fifth album. The album reportedly will find the band continuing the late night, bluesy rock vibes that have won them praise and attention. The band’s latest single “Revolution” is their first bit of original material as a band in five years. The track was initially released on Bandcamp with proceeds donated to the ALCU — with the track no being available on all DSPs.

“Revolution” begins with a slow-burning and atmospheric ballad introduction that slowly builds up in intensity before turning into an anthemic, bluesy rocker around the three minute mark. Centered around Wennerstorm’s bluesy wail and some dexterous guitar work, including a blazing solo, the track is an incisive and urgent message that says we need to get our shit straight and make the world a better place before it’s too late. “’Revolution’ is about self love,” Wennerstrom explains in press notes. “I think if people loved themselves more there wouldn’t be racism, bigotry, and classism. Some people are so worried that there is not enough pie to go around, and that lifting up others limits their own opportunity. There is mass misinformation and manipulation to peddle this narrative. Money, materialism, privileged access to better education are things people constantly measure themselves with. The need to feel better than someone in order to feel good about oneself is an age old insecurity. The planet really can’t sustain everyone having more. Everything is made to fall apart, like cars and $1100 cell phones. I think humanity needs to learn how to have less, and not play into the commercialism that constantly sends the message we lack things that we don’t really need.

“Revolution is a mantra, and reminder to myself to avoid playing the game as much as I can. I don’t need this, and I don’t need that. I don’t need to compare myself to others. This marathon everybody is running is exhausting. There is so much true suffering in this world with a lack of food, shelter, and basic running water. The more man attempts to look at the world from another man’s perspective it becomes apparent how connected we all really are. I think giving and receiving love is really what we need the most. All the rest is just a bunch of noise.”

Directed by Sam Wainwright Douglas and David Hartstein, the recently released, incredibly surreal video features an elegantly dressed Wennerstrom sitting crossed legged in the salt flats of Utah watching advertisements and imagery that people to be blindly greedy, selfish consumers and brutally racist.But during the song’s anthemic second half, we see nature overcoming all, and eventually Wennerstrom coolly floating through space.

“I wanted to release ‘Revolution’ before the election, to serve as a reminder of what’s important in life: love and compassion for yourself and your fellow man,” Wennerstrom says of the video’s release. “We have to fight fear with love. I think there’s a lot of bullshit out there that is peddled to sway people one way or the other. I feel people know what’s right in their hearts. It’s a call to not look the other way.

“For the video, I had an idea of having a surreal living room image in the salt flats,” Wennerstrom adds. “It’s a statement on how our excess commercial culture and system create a competitive climb to the top. We all struggle to get ahead so we don’t get left far behind. Very little life can live in the salt flats and I thought it helped symbolize the direction of environment if we don’t come together and wake up. I couldn’t get to the salt flats and the idea of a green screen came to mind. Sam Douglas and David Hartstein took this idea to a whole other level. The green screen went from what was initially just being unable to get to the salt flats to far beyond what I’d imagined. It really captured the song so much more.

There is so much beauty in this world, and in each other. Sometimes it is underneath the surface, but it’s always there. Let’s lift each other up.”

New Video: Alison Mosshart’s Self-Directed and Edited Visual for Ominous Solo Debut “Rise”

Alison Mosshart is a Vero Beach, FL-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter a best known as one-half of the acclaimed indie rock act JOVM mainstays The Kills and for being the frontwoman of the indie rock/blues punk supergroup The Dead Weather. Interestingly, over the past decade or so, Mosshart has developed a reputation for being restlessly creative: she has had paintings shown in galleries across the world and she recently published her first book CAR MA, a collection of her art, photography and writing that serves as a love letter to all things automobile. Additionally, Mosshart has developed a reputation for being a go-to collaborator for that added dash of badassery, working with her Dead Weather bandmate Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Primal Scream, Gang of Four, Cage The Elephant, Foo Fighters, James Williamson and Mini Mansions in a rapidly growing list. 

2020 will continue a period of remarkably creative prolificacy for Mosshart: Currently, Mosshart and her bandmate Jamie Hince are working on the next Kills record, which they hope to be able to bring to the road — pandemic willing, of course. Interestingly, this year also see Mosshart stepping out into the spotlight as a solo artist, releasing material under her name for the first time in her career. And although for Mosshart, releasing music under her own name is a new and thrilling experience, it’s a process that can be traced back more than a decade with Mosshart compiling a trove of unreleased material. Her debut single, the Lawrence Rothman-produced “Rise” can trace its origins back to 2013 when she first wrote the initial sketch of the song.  The end result is a slow-burning and searing blues with brooding and ominous undertones centered around thumping beats, fuzzy power chords, Mosshart’s imitable vocals and a soaring hook. 

“I didn’t ever forget it,” Mosshart recalls. “I remember right where I was when I wrote it, sitting at my desk in London, missing someone badly. Interestingly, when the Sacred Lies team reached out to the Kills and Dead Weather frontwoman about doing a signature song for the song, she knew “Rise” had the right sort of vibe for the show. Interestingly, “Rise” is prominently featured in the final episode of  the FacebookWatch drama Sacred Lies with the song serving as a major plot point within the series’ story. 

Much like everyone else across the world, Mosshart is hunkered down in her Nashville home and she’s used this period of social distancing and quarantine to teach herself video editing. Shot, edited and directed by Mosshart, the recently released video for “Rise” is comprised of footage from a recent trip she took to Los Angeles with most of it centered around capturing lowrider culture. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Blue Stones Return with an Explosive and Anthemic Single

JOVM mainstays The Blue Stones — longtime friends Tarek Jafer (vocals, guitar) and Justin Tessier (drums, percussion, backing vocals) — can trace their origins to when the duo met while in college, and decided to start a band together. As the story, the duo then spent the next seven years honing and perfecting their sound and approach — with the result ending with their self-released debut EP. 

2017 saw the release of their highly-anticipated full-length debut Black Holes, an effort that featured “Rolling With The Punches,” which received placements on USA Network‘s Suits, Showtime‘s Shameless and ESPN‘s Monday Night Football, lead single and album title track “Black Holes (Solid Ground), which amassed 8 million streams, and “Be My Fire,” a track that brought The Black Keys, Jimi Hendrix, and North Mississippi All Stars to mind — although the song was actually an urgent and plaintive yearning for someone just out of reach. Interestingly, as confident and self-assured as Black Holes’ material was, the album in its own way, was also very much about the duo finding themselves both musically and personally — with the members of hte band deciding to pursue their lifelong dream of music but jumping into the unknown rather than a more ordinary life. 

“Shaking Off the Rust” is the first bit of original material since the release of  Black Holes and while continuing in the same incredibly confident and self-assured, arena rock friendly vein — but while expanding a bit upon the sound that has won them attention across the blogosphere. The song possesses a much more nuanced and textured take on their sound with the band employing a grunge rock song structure — quiet, loud, quiet, along with the addition of strummed acoustic guitar, which sets up the song’s explosive hook and 808 like beats. In fact, the song finds the band actively moving away from the “just another blues rock duo” off their previously released material. 

“There were times along the way where I felt I wasn’t good enough, “ the band’s Tarek Jafar explains, “or that I didn’t deserve any happiness or success. This song is about battling those thoughts in your head that make you doubt yourself, and coming through with the confidence to make something great.”

Directed by James Villeneuve, the recently released video rehearsing and then playing for a live crowd in virtual reality — including fitting with fans. Is it a view into our increasingly disconnected digital world?