Tag: Blur

New Audio: Celebrated Malian Afel Bocoum Releases a Breezy Genre-Defying Single

Afel Bocoum, a celebrated Niafunké, Mali-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist is among the last of a breakthrough generation of African artists, who have mixed their traditional music with the new sounds that arrived from all overthe world during the 20th and 21st centuries. But interestingly enough, despite the accolades that surround him, music hasn’t been an easy dream for the celebrated Niafunké-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist: Most aspiring musicians face stiff parental and societal opposition; however for Bocoum, the parental opposition he faced was deeply perplexing, given the fact that this father Abakina Ousmane Bocoum, a.k.a. Kodda was one of the most famous and beloved njarka players of the 20th century.

But Bocoum wasn’t deterred. Music was omnipresent: it was in the holey or spirit dances of Songhoy, in the melodies of the Fulani flue, in the gumbé drum sessions with their wild moonlit dancing, in the stories and poetry of the griots and in the hymn of the local Protestant Mission.  For a young Bocoum, music was more than just entertainment; it taught people about life and the right way to live it. It guaranteed social cohesion and the strength of the collective conscience, especially in a society that was at the time, largely illiterate and had no access to modern media. “There was no radio at the time, no TV, nothing. It was incredible,” Bocoum remembers. “When you saw someone with a guitar, you followed him everywhere.”

As a teenager, the legendary Ali Farka Touré exerted a powerful hold on the young Bocoum. When Bocoum first met Touré in the late 1960s, he was a barely a teenager and Touré was already considered one of the region’s most famous and greatest sons. Bocoum hung out with Touré as much as he could, eventually becoming a member of Asco, Touré’s backing band. And as a member of of Asco, Bocoum toured with the legendary singer/songwriter and guitarist throughout the 80s and 90s, appearing on Touré’s 1992 effort, The Source. 

Interestingly, the idea of releasing his own music arose  from a gentle curiosity, rather than any self-serving ambition or desire to upstage his beloved mentor. “Everybody seemed to be releasing albums all around me, so it was like, ‘why not?’” Bocoum says in press notes. Tourè hooked his mentee up with Nick Gold, artistic director of  World Circuit, which led to Bocoum’s 1999 full-length debut, Alkibar (The Messengers), an effort that established Bocoum as an international star in his own right.

As a result of Alkibar’s success, Bocoum was invited to work with Blur and Gorillaz frontman and creative mastermind Damon Albarn and Toumani Diabaté on the 2002 album Mali Music. From there, he became a regular contributor on the Africa Express compilation series, collaborating with a who’s who list of internationally acclaimed artists, including Béla Fleck, Habib Koité, Tarit Ensemble, Oliver Mutukudzi and others. “You have to collaborate, otherwise you’ll get nowhere in today’s world,” Bocoum says of his work with those artists. “All those collaborations were positive.”

Bocoum’s forthcoming album, the Damon Albarn and Nick Gold produced-Lindé is slated for a September 4, 2020 release through World Circuit Records. Deriving its name from a wild expanse near his hometown, the album which was recorded in Mail’s capital city of Bamako, reportedly finds the celebrated Malian singer/songwriter and guitarist drawing from the timeless sounds of the Niger River bend with a variety of styles across the globe,  through collaborations with a diverse and eclectic array of artists including eminent Malian artists like Madou Kouyaté, the late Hama Sankaré and Madou Sidiki, along with the recently departed, legendary Afrobeat pioneer and Fela Kuti collaborator Tony Allen, Bob Marley and Skatalites collaborator Vin Gordon (trombone) and Joan as Police Woman creative mastermind Joan Wasser on violin.

Throughout the album’s material, you’ll hear traditional African folk instruments like ngoni, njurkele, kora and calabash with guitars, percussion, horns and call-and-response vocals, and the end result is something timeless and mystical, yet modern.  At its core, the material possesses a deep and abiding message: in the face of an uncertain and turbulent world and a homeland struggling with jihad, poverty and tribal warfare, the album’s material urges the listener to have hope and to seek solidarity and unity. “We have to meet each other, talk to each other, look each other in the eye and tell the truth,” Bocoum says. “If we’re not united, I can see no solution. Our social security is music. That’s all we’ve got left. People love music, so we have to make use of that fact.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about Lindé‘s first single, the breezy and uplifting “Avion.”  Centered around the shimmering guitar work of Mamadou Kelly, Oumar Konaté and Lamine Soumano, call-and-response vocals, propulsive polyrhythm that is playful and optimistic ode to air travel, complete with the prerequisite safety announcement  — in French, of course —  that quickly takes off and soars upward. But it’s also a gentle yet urgent call for all people to band together around the most human of all things — music, love and dancing; that music can take us to the promised land of peace and equality among all.

Lindé’s  latest single “Bombolo Lindo” features Skatalites’ Vin Gordon (trumpet), Songhoy Blues’ Garba Touré (guitar) and Toumani Diabaté’s brother Madou Diabaté (kora) on a song that broadly draws from across the Pan Africa Diaspora: you’ll hear shuffling and uptempo reggae riddims, shimmering guitar and kora, an infectious and soaring hook and some sweeping trombone lines. And while seemingly possesses irie vibes, the songs’ lyrics attempt to realistically temper the dreams of African youths desperately attempting to escape to Europe — with the hopes that it’ll be some promised land of money and opportunity.  “The small percentage of people who manage to make it to Europe shouldn’t cry ‘victory!’ because there are still many problems left for them to overcome, including finding a place to live, a job to do and food to eat,” Bocoum explains. “They mustn’t forget that, from the moment they arrive, they’re subject to the laws of the receiving country. And then they have to learn how to communicate and deal with the climate. Add it all up and you’ll see that overall, there’s more loss than benefit, and finding that anticipated happiness is just a lottery. More often than not, you’re talking about a 1 in 100 chance of success.”

New Video: Celebrated Malian Musician Afel Bocoum Releases a Gorgeous Glimpse into Malian Life in Visual for “Avion”

Afel Bocoum, a celebrated Niafunké, Mali-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist is among the last of a breakthrough generation of African artists, who mixed their traditional music with the new sounds that arrived from all over the world during the 20th and 21st centuries. Interestingly, music hasn’t been an easy dream for the celebrated Niafunké-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist: While most aspiring musicians face stiff parental and societal opposition; however for Bocoum, the parental opposition he faced was deeply perplexing, given the fact that this father Abakina Ousmane Bocoum, a.k.a. Kodda was one of the most famous and beloved njarka players of the 20th century. 

But Bocoum wasn’t deterred. Music was omnipresent: it was in the holey or spirit dances of Songhoy, in the melodies of the Fulani flue, in the gumbé drum sessions with their wild moonlit dancing, in the stories and poetry of the griots and in the hymn of the local Protestant Mission.  For a young Bocoum, music was more than just entertainment; it taught people about life and the right way to live it. It guaranteed social cohesion and the strength of the collective conscience, especially in a society that was at the time, largely illiterate and had no access to modern media. “There was no radio at the time, no TV, nothing. It was incredible,” Bocoum remembers. “When you saw someone with a guitar, you followed him everywhere.”

As a teenager, the legendary Ali Farka Touré exerted a powerful hold on the young Bocoum. When Bocoum first met Touré in the late 1960s, he was a barely a teenager and Touré was already considered one of the region’s most famous and greatest son. Bocoum hung out with Touré as much  as he could, eventually becoming a member of Asco, Touré’s backing band — and as a member of of Asco, Bocoum toured with the legendary singer/songwriter and guitarist throughout the 80s and 90s, appearing on Touré’s 1992 effort, The Source. 

The idea of releasing his own music arose  from a gentle curiosity, rather than any self-serving ambition or desire to upstage his beloved mentor. “Everybody seemed to be releasing albums all around me, so it was like, ‘why not?’” Bocoum says in press notes. Tourè hooked his mentee up with Nick Gold, artistic director of  World Circuit, which led to Bocoum’s 1999 full-length debut, Alkibar (The Messengers), an effort that established Bocoum as an international star in his own right.  

Interestingly, as a result of Alkibar, Bocoum was invited to work with Blur and Gorillaz frontman and creative mastermind Damon Albarn and Toumani Diabaté on the 2002 album Mali Music. From there, he became a regular contributor on the Africa Express compilation series, collaborating with a who’s who list of internationally acclaimed artists, including Béla Fleck, Habib Koité, Tarit Ensemble, Oliver Mutukudzi and others. “You have to collaborate, otherwise you’ll get nowhere in today’s world,” Bocoum says of his work with those artists. “All those collaborations were positive.”

Bocoum’s forthcoming album, the Damon Albarn and Nick Gold produced-Lindé is slated for a September 4, 2020 release through World Circuit Records. Deriving its name from a wild expanse near his hometown, the album which was recorded in Mail’s capital city of Bamako, reportedly finds the celebrated Malian singer/songwriter and guitarist drawing from the timeless sounds of the Niger River bend with a variety of styles across the globe, as he collaborates with a diverse and eclectic array  of artists including eminent Malian artists like Madou Kouyaté, the late Hama Sankaré and Madou Sidiki, along with the recently departed, legendary Afrobeat pioneer and Fela Kuti collaborator Tony Allen, Bob Marley and Skatalites collaborator Vin Gordon (trombone) and Joan as Police Woman creative mastermind Joan Wasser on violin. 

You’ll hear traditional African folk instruments like ngoni, njurkele, kora and calabash with guitars, percussion and call-and-response vocals with the end result being something both timeless and mystical yet modern. But at its core, there’s a deep and abiding message: in the face of an uncertain and turbulent world and a homeland struggling with jihad, poverty and tribal warfare, the album’s material  urges the listener to hope, solidarity and unity. “We have to meet each other, talk to each other, look each other in the eye and tell the truth,” Bocoum says. “If we’re not united, I can see no solution. Our social security is music. That’s all we’ve got left. People love music, so we have to make use of that fact.”

“Avion,” Lindé’s first single is a uplifting and breezy track, centered around the shimmering guitar work of Mamadou Kelly, Oumar Konaté and Lamine Soumano, call-and-response vocals, propulsive polyrhythm that is playful and optimistic ode to air travel, complete with the prerequisite safety announcement  — in French, of course —  that quickly takes off and soars upward. But it’s also a gentle yet urgent call for all people to band together around the most human of all things — music, love and dancing; that music can take us to the promised land of peace and equality among all. Considering recent world events, we  need more uplifting calls for unity and love. 

The recently released video gives the video a gorgeous glimpse of daily life in Mali, as we see fisherman, goat herders, the nomadic and proud Taureg people riding horses and  camels, massive metropolitan areas and the like. It reveals a world that’s more diverse and interesting that what most Westerners would know or acknowledge with a gentle  and kind viewpoint. 

Natasha Khan is a Brighton, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project Bat For Lashes — and for being the vocalist for Sexwitch, a collaboration with the members of British psych rock act TOY and producer Dan Carey. Born to an English mother, Josie and Pakistani squash player Rehmat Khan, Natasha Khan traces some of the influences of her musical career to attending her father’s and her uncle’s Jahangir’s squash matches, which she felt inspired her creativity: “The roar of the crowd is intense; it is ceremonial, ritualistic. I feel like the banner got passed to me but I carried it on in a creative way. It is a similar thing, the need to thrive on heightened communal experience.” Her father left when she was 11, and she taught herself to play the piano, which quickly became an important channel to express things, to get them out.

Khan’s debut single “The Wizard” was released digitally through Drowned in Sound Records and on seven-inch vinyl through her own imprint, She Bear Records. By 2006, she caught the attention of Echo Label, a record label owned by Chrysalis Records that acted as an incubator for emerging artists and assisting their careers while moving them to major labels. Echo released her debut, 2006’s Fur and Gold. The following year, Khan and Echo signed an international licensing deal with Parlophone Records, who re-released Fur and Gold that year. The album reached #48 on the UK Albums Charts and since its release, it’s been certified gold. Building upon a growing profile, the British singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer played at Glastonbury Festival and toured across the States. The album was shortlisted for that year’s Mercury Prize, losing to Klaxons’ Myths of the Near Future, despite being critically applauded and named a heavy favorite to win. She won ASCAP’s Vanguard Award, which resulted in her performing at their “ASCAP Presents . .  .” SXSW showcase.

2008 continued an incredible run by the British singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist as she was notated for two Brit Awards — British Breakthrough Act and British Female Solo Artist. She opened handful of dates for Radiohead, and she released a cover of The Cure’s “A Forest,” which appeared on the Perfect as Cats charity album.

Khan’s sophomore album, 2009’s David Kosten and Khan-co-produced Two Suns was inspired by a trip she took to Joshua Tree, CA. The album focuses on her desert-born alter ego Pearl, whose personality she adopted while living in New York. Sonically, the material was inspired by the Brooklyn bands that had started to receive attention nationally and internationally at the time — in particular, TV on the Radio, MGMT, Gang Gang Dance and others. Interestingly, the album also found her collaborating with the members of Yeasayer, who contributed bass and beat programming. The album debuted at #5 on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified gold as a result of “Daniel,” which peaked at #36 on the UK Singles Chart. “Daniel” later won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song and was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year. Additionally, Khan received her second Mercury Prize nomination and a second BRIT Award nomination for British Female Solo Artist.

Summer 2009 saw her play at Glastonbury Festival, Somerset House and the iTunes Festival, which was followed by a special edition of Two Suns, which was released ahead of her October UK tour an included a cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody.”

Khan’s third Bat for Lashes album, 2012’s The Haunted Man debuted at #6 on the UK Albums Chart, her second consecutive Top 10 album, an effort that has since been certified silver. Khan was nominated for her third Best British Solo Female BRIT Award and was nominated for two Ivor Novello Awards — Best Song Musically and Best Song Lyrically for album single “Laura.” That year saw her play at Coachella Festival. She also opened for Blur and Depeche Mode.

During a surprise 2015 Green Man Festival set in Wales, Khan debuted her collaboration with Dan Carey and TOY — Sexwitch. That September, the project released its self-titled debut through Echo and BMG, which featured six covers of 1970s psych and folk from different parts of the world.

2016 saw the release of her fourth full-length album The Bride, an album that was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

Khan’s fifth album Lost Girls was released last fall through AWAL Recordings, and the album continues a run of concept albums: in this case, the material was centered around an off-kilter coming of age film, in which bands of marauding female biker gangs roam the streets — and teenagers make out on car hoods. The female characters throughout are parallel to the protagonists of her previously released albums — most notably, the street tough, darkness-driven Pearl from Two Suns. The album’s main character Nikki Pink, was one of the album’s central Lost Girls. And at its core, the album thematically is a loving and romantic homage to all things Los Angeles, being a child of the 80s and the films that influenced Khan. Sonically, the album found Khan mixing sounds she’s long loved — heavy bass lines, synth arpeggios, Iranian pop beats and cascading chorus which help evoke an achingly wistful air.

Khan recently released a four song live EP recorded at London-based venue EartH that features a stripped down versions of “Daniel,” “Desert Man” and “The Hunger” off Lost Girls featuring Khan accompanying herself on piano and organ. The EP’s first official single is a slow-burning,  stripped down, atmospheric cover of Don Henley‘s “The Boys of Summer” centered around twinkling keys and Khan’s expressive vocals.  Khan’s Bat for Lashes cover retains the song’s awareness of the passing of time, the end of youthful innocence — of a darker, more uncertain adult world just over the horizon.

Interestingly, the EP comes just before Khan embarks on a Winter North American tour — and it serves as a taste of what fans should expect: intimate renditions of the material off Lost Girls, as well as never performed songs and some surprises.

 

New Video: Bat For Lashes Release a Cinematic and Wistful Visual for “Kids in the Dark”

Natasha Khan is a Brighton, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project Bat For Lashes — and for being the vocalist for Sexwitch, a collaboration with the members of British psych rock act TOY and producer Dan Carey. Born to an English mother, Josie and Pakistani squash player Rehmat Khan, Natasha Khan traces some of the influences of her musical career to attending her father’s and her uncle’s Jahangir’s squash matches, which she felt inspired her creativity: “The roar of the crowd is intense; it is ceremonial, ritualistic, I feel like the banner got passed to me but I carried it on in a creative way. It is a similar thing, the need to thrive on heightened communal experience.” Her father left when she was 11, and she taught herself to play the piano, which quickly became an important channel to express things, to get them out.

Khan’s debut single “The Wizard” was released digitally through Drowned in Sound Records and on seven-inch vinyl through her own imprint, She Bear Records — and by 2006, she caught the attention of Echo Label, a record label owned by Chrysalis Records that acted as an incubator for emerging artists and assisting their careers while moving them to major labels. Echo released her debut, 2006’s Fur and Gold. The following year, Khan and Echo signed an international licensing deal with Parlophone Records, who re-released Fur and Gold that year. The album reached #48 on the UK Albums Charts and since its release, it’s been certified gold. Building upon a growing profile, the British singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer played at Glastonbury Festival and toured across the States. The album was shortlisted for that year’s Mercury Prize, losing to Klaxons’ Myths of the Near Future, despite being a named a heavy favorite to win — and being critically applauded. She won ASCAP’s Vanguard Award, which resulted in her performing at their “ASCAP Presents . .  .” SXSW showcase. 

2008 continued an incredible run by the British singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist as she was notated for two Brit Awards — British Breakthrough Act and British Female Solo Artist. She opened handful of dates for Radiohead, and she released a cover of The Cure’s “A Forest,” which appeared on the Perfect as Cats charity album. 

Khan’s sophomore album, 2009’s David Kosten and Khan-produced Two Suns was inspired by a trip she took to Joshua Tree, CA. The album focuses on her desert-born alter ego Pearl, whose personality she adopted while living in New York. Sonically, the material was inspired by the Brooklyn bands that had started to receive attention nationally and internationally at the time — in particularly, TV on the Radio, MGMT, Gang Gang Dance and others. Interestingly, the album also found her collaborating with the members of Yeasayer, who contributed bass and beat programming. The album debuted at #5 on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified gold as a result of “Daniel,” which peaked at #36 on the UK Singles Chart. “Daniel” later won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song and was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year. Additionally, Khan received her second Mercury Prize nomination and a second BRIT Award nomination for British Female Solo Artist. 

Summer 2009 saw her play at Glastonbury Festival, Somerset House and the iTunes Festival, which was followed by a special edition of Two Suns, which was released ahead of her October UK tour an included a cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody.” 

Khan’s third Bat for Lashes album, 2012’s The Haunted Man debuted at #6 on the UK Albums Chart, her second consecutive Top 10 album, an effort that has since been certified silver. Khan was nominated for her third Best British Solo Female BRIT Award and was nominated for two Ivor Novello Awards — Best Song Musically and Best Song Lyrically for album single “Laura.” That year saw her play at Coachella Festival. She also opened for Blur and Depeche Mode. 

During a surprise 2015 Green Man Festival set in Wales, Khan debuted her collaboration with Dan Carey and TOY — Sexwitch. That September, the project released its self-titled debut through Echo and BMG, which featured six covers of 1970s psych and folk from different parts of the world. 

2016 saw the release of her fourth full-length album The Bride, an album that was nominated for the Mercury Prize. 

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through AWAL Recordings, Khan’s forthcoming album Lost Girls continues a run of concept albums in which she creates an off-kilter coming of age film in which fans of marauding female biker gangs roam the streets — and teenagers make out on car hoods. The women characters are parallel to the protagonists of her previously released albums — particularly, the street tough, darkness-driven Pearl from Two Suns. In this case, the album’s main character is Nikki Pink, one of the album’s Lost Girls. Thematically, the album is a romantic album that pays homage to Los Angeles, being a child of the 80s, and to the films that touched and changed her life. 

Sonically, the album finds Khan mixing sounds she’s always loved — heavy bass line, synth arpeggios, Iranian pop beats and cascading choruses. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Kids in the Dark,” is a hazy bit of 80s inspired synth pop centered around shimmering synths, reverb-drenched blasts of guitar, a soaring hook, stuttering beats and Khan’s ethereal vocals, and interestingly enough, the track bears an uncanny resemblance to JOVM mainstay ACES, as it possesses an achingly wistful air. 

Directed by Natasha Khan, the recently released video for “Kids in the Dark” was shot against the Los Angeles hills with the eerie and gorgeous waning of dusk casting shadows — and it emphasizes the song’s wistful air, as it features the Lost Girls and two star-crossed lovers. The video hints at how its protagonist Nikki Pink became a Lost Girl. 

Lyric Video: Portland’s Hemmit Captures Youthful Passion in “Friends”

Keith Fleming is a Portland, OR-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer/songwriter, who as a drummer, has had stints touring and recording with The Jonny Cohen Love Machine, John Stabb’s Weatherhead and and others, and for being one-half of highly acclaimed indie rock duo Hemmit, with his longtime collaborator, producer, engineer, songwriter and highly sought-after guitarist Adam Rohosy. Interestingly, Hemmit has had their music featured on MTV, Surfline, Bike TV and have received radio airplay from a number of radio stations across the world; in fact, their fifth album Straight Outta Nowhere saw heavy college radio airplay and attention from critics and fans. 

With the six-song EP One Ultra, the long-awaited follow up to their buzz worthy fifth, full-length album, Hemmit has become a solo recording project featuring Keith Fleming, and the EP reportedly consists of indie rock and guitar pop that blends elements of lo-fi garage rock, power pop and 80s synth rock, largely influenced by Ty Segall, Best Coast, Guided by Voices and Sloan; however, the EP’s first single “Friends” sounds as though Fleming was drawing from 90s alt rock — in particular My Vitriol, Blur, Foo Fighters and others, as the song is centered around enormous power chords, a guitar pyrotechnic-fueled solo, thunderous drumming and a rousingly anthemic, arena rock friendly hook. And while swaggering and self-assured, the song is a breakneck, swooning, “you-were-there”-like recollection of youth and youthful passions 

The recently released lyric video for “Friends” is essentially a time capsule, featuring found footage of young people over the course of the past 30 years or so, being young and seemingly carefree. 

With last year’s release of their debut single “TrafficLightCyclopsDisco” and their self-titled debut EP, the Manchester, UK-based indie rock trio New Luna, comprised of Tommy Deedigan, Zack Bamber and Toby Duncan, have quickly developed a reputation as being a staple of their hometown’s indie rock/alternative scene while drawing comparisons to Radiohead, Bombay Bicycle Club and The Twilight Sad. Adding to a growing profile,  the Manchester-based trio have opened for the likes of Happiness, Bruising, PLAZA, Trudy and the Romance, as well as played sets at a DIY Magazine showcase, YNOT?, ArcTanGent, Truck and Great Escape Festivals. However, with their latest single, “Opinionated,” the British trio’s sound reminds me a bit of My Vitriol and Blur, thanks to layers of distortion-filled, buzzing power chords, thundering drumming and a rousingly anthemic, mosh-pit friendly hook within a quiet, loud, quiet song structure. And while clearly being inspired by 90s alt rock, the song possesses what may be the most direct social statement they’ve released to date — openly suggesting as the old adage says that opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one, and they’re usually shitty.

 

 

 

Comprised of Tom Barr (vocals, guitar), Lachlan Banner (drums), Matt Pownall (guitar, vocals) and Stanley Braddock (bass, vocals), the Leeds, UK-based quartet Party Hardy can trace their origins to when the band’s founder Tom Barr came up with the idea of the band at his house with his buddies Banner, Pownall and Braddock las year. And within their first year together as a band, the British quartet have quickly developed, refined and developed a sound that locals have dubbed as “Blur meets surf rock with a bit of Beach Boys shoved up its arse.” Along with that, the band has also developed a growing reputation for their live set, as they’ve opened for the likes of Trudy & The Romance, Mouses, Bruising, Diet Cig, Cowtown, INHEAVEN and The Magic Gang, among others.

2017 has been a big year for the band as they’ve released two attention grabbing singles “Friendly Feeling” and “Jobs,” which have quickly helped add the band to a growing list of Leeds-based bands receiving attention across the blogosphere, and with the release of their third and latest single of the year, “Mindchanger,” you’ll see why, as the band specializes in walking the tightrope between dreamy and shimmering guitar pop and explosive, power chord-based, anthemic rock, complete with a shout worthy, mosh pit friendly chorus.  Interestingly, as the band explains in press notes “‘Mindchanger’ is an ode to the experiences felt by the parents of the youth of yesterday, Played out through the perspective of a parent struggling with the difficult nature of an anxty (sic) teen, the song takes the listener through a journey of their own personal past, with a new meaning easily discovered upon each listen.”

 

 

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New Video: Gorillaz Collaborates with Peven Everett on Their Most House Music-Inspired Track in Years

Created by Blur frontman and founding member Damon Albarn and renowned comic book artist Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz is a virtual band, featuring animated characters 2D (vocals), Murdoc Niccals (bass), Noodle (guitar) and Russel Hobbs (guitar) that exploded into with the international scene with the 2001 release of their eponymous debut. The BRIT and Grammy Award-winnng act has since released three critically applauded and commercially successful albums — 2005’s Demon Days, 2010’s Plastic Beach and 2011’s The Fall and with each of their four previously released albums the act has topped charts around the world, receiving millions of streams, selling millions of copies and playing arenas, clubs and festivals from San Diego to Syria. Along with that the act has won the Jim Henson Creativity Honor and have been recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records as the planet’s Most Successful Virtual Act. 

Humanz, the virtual act’s fifth and latest album was released to critical applause last month and the album has continued the band’s incredible run of commercial successes with the album landing at number 1 and number 2 on the US and UK charts respectively, as well as topping the iTunes chart in over 60 different countries. Produced by Gorillaz, The Twilite Tone of D /\ P and Remi Kabaka, the album was recorded in studios in London, Paris, New York, Chicago and Jamaica and has the members of the virtual band — er, Damon Albarn and company — collaborating with an eclectic and accomplished array of contemporary artists including Savages’ Jehnny Beth, Danny Brown, Benjamin Clementine, De La Soul, D.R.A.M., Anthony Hamilton, Grace Jones (!!!), Zebra Katz, Mavis Staples (!!!), Vince Staples, Popcaan, Pusha T., Peven Everett and others. 

Humanz’s latest single “Strobelite” features the members of Gorillaz collaborating with Harvey, IL-born, Chicago, IL-based multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Peven Everett, an artist whose work has spanned across R&B, jazz, hip-hop and house music.  The Harvey, IL-born, Chicago-based artist received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music when he was 17 before leaving to collaborate with the likes of Betty Carter, Branford Marsalis and Wynton Marsalis. Since then Everett has contributed trumpet on a handful of jazz recordings, including Curtis Lundy’s Against All Odds while becoming a leading figure in Chicago’s house, soul and R&B communities, releasing seven solo albums. And perhaps unsurprisingly, Gorillaz collaboration with Everett is the most dance floor-friendly track they’ve released in several years — since, perhaps “Dare” off Demon Days, as the album’s  latest single features Everett’s soulful crooning singing uplifting lyrics over a club banging, Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles-era house music production featuring cosmic ray-like synths, twinkling keys and dance floor-friendly beats; it’s frankly the sort of song that’s so uplifting that you’d have to dance and smile — and if you didn’t there was something deeply wrong about you. 

Directed by Stoke, UK-native Raoul Skinbeck, the recently released video for “Strobelite” features Peven Everett with the members of Gorillaz and a multicultural cast of clubgoers tearing up a London nightclub and if there’s one thing that the video confirms in an increasingly unsettled and frightening world that it’s the things that remind us of our humanity that unite us — that music has the power to let us escape for a little bit, to have us fall in love, and to remind us of who and what we are; and that there’s freedom on the dance floor. 

With the release of the attention grabbing single “Rose Coloured Glasses” off their debut EP, Melbourne, Australia-based indie rock quintet Smoke Rings saw a rapidly growing national profile, thanks to airplay and praise from Triple J‘s Richard Kingsmill and Dom Alessio, along with airplay on Triple J’s sister station Double J and community radio stations. Adding to a growing profile, the band has played shows with a number of nationally recognized bands in their homeland including Northeast Party HouseMoses Gunn Collective, Green Buzzard, Jarrow and Good Boy — and they have upcoming tour dates with Siamese and Ali Barter throughout September and October.

 

Produced by Malcolm Besley, who has worked with City Calm Down and The Creases, the Aussie quintet’s latest single “Happiness” off their double A side 7 inch “Go To Hell” will further cement their reputation in Oz for crating anthemic, power chord-based, Brit Pop-inspired tunes, complete with the same sort of swaggering bombast and bitter irony.  And while being warmly familiar — the track will remind some folks of Blur, Oasis and others — the Melbourne-based quintet have a subtle yet unique take to it, as the song carries an earnest yearning within its core.