Tag: Built to Spill

New Video: Rituals of Mine’s Queer “Space Jam” Themed Visuals for Sultry “Burst”

Initially formed in 2009 as Sister Crayon, the acclaimed Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo  Rituals of Mine, currently comprised of singer/songwriter Terra Lopez and percussionist Adam Pierce have received attention for a sound that draws from 90s trip hop, footwork and  downtempo R&B — and for years of relentless touring up and down the West Coast, playing house shows, DIY venues and basements with the likes of The Album Leaf, Built to Spill, Antemasque, Le Butcherettes, Maps & Atlases, Doomtree and others. Adding to a quickly growing profile, the Los Angeles-based duo’s first two albums — 2011’s Bellow and 2013’s Cynic — were released to critical acclaim. 

2015 was a profoundly harrowing and difficult year for Lopez: her father committed suicide and several moths later, her best friend Lucas Johnson tragically died in an accident. Reeling from the grief of inconsolable and unexpected loss, Lopez in a period of deep reflection felt the need to reassess her life and her work in Sister Crayon. She decided to put the Sister Crayon name to rest, moving forward with a new moniker  — Rituals of Mine. As Terra Lopez wrote at the time, “It was a mantra that I repeated under my breath on a daily basis when the loss I was experiencing felt too heavy at times. Music, the act of creating, performing, touring, writing, singing, experimenting – all the rituals we have created to get through life.”

After years of obscuring her own story and emotions through metaphorical lyrics, Lopez felt a sudden confidence to write much more directly about her experiences and life as a queer woman of color. Lopez began fleshing out the material on what would become her Rituals of Mine debut Devoted with her longtime collaborator and producer Wes Jones, who helped turn her heartfelt writing on her trauma and personal growth into urgent and pulsating electronic tracks. Lopez then enlisted Adam Pierce to play drums, knowing that their background in metal percussion would provide an intensity that could match her own.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you might recall that last year was a very busy year for Lopez and Pierce. They opened for a handful of dates for The Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill’s co-headliing tour, including a Chicago area stop last April. They also opened for Garbage during the multi-plantium Grammy Award-winning band’s US tour. They also went on their first UK tour with JOVM mainstay Geographer and The Seshen. 

Interestingly, the duo’s highly anticipated Wes jones and Neal Pogue co-produced follow-up to Devoted, Sleeper Hold EP is slated for an October 4, 2019 release through Carpark Records — and the EP will include the urgent anti-Trump anthem “No Time To Go Numb,” a track that forcefully reminded the listener that now isn’t the time to slink back from the horrors of a power mad, greedy and hateful administration; that we have to be fueled by righteous anger and fight like hell for the things that truly matter.  “Burst,” Sleeper Hold’s second and latest single is a glitchy and hyper-modern bit of electro R&B that’s centered around stuttering beats, tweeter and woofer rocking low end and Lopez’s sultry, self-assured vocals. And while the track may recall Timbaland’s forward-thinking work with Aaliyah and Missy Elliott, Rituals of Mine’s latest single is driven by Lopez’s commitment to unvarnished emotional honesty.  “I made a promise to myself that I’m no longer going to play small or hide behind metaphors, that I’m going to really lean into self-confidence, self-reliance and take up space,” Lopez says in a statement to Billboard. “‘Burst is the beginning of that.” 

Co-directed by Kris Esfandiari and Colette Levesque, the recently released video for “Burst” features Rituals of Mine’s Terra Lopez playing basketball against a team of evil and monstrous figures. At one point, her younger self appears and helps Lopez win the game. According to the statement Lopez wrote to Billboard, the recently released video represents overcoming past trauma to effectively move on in your life, with the young protagonist representing a younger version of herself. “The opponents all represent obstacles I’ve had to face being a queer woman of color in this industry … this video was a way for me to confront both my childhood traumas and adulthood obstacles through the activity that has always grounded me,” she says. “Also, I just really wanted to create our version of a Queer Space Jam for 2019.”

New Audio: Columbus Ohio’s didi Releases Surreal Visuals for Ethereal Album Single “Beached”

Consisting of founding members Meg Zakany (vocals, guitar) and Sheena McGrath (drums) with Kevin Bilapka-Arbelaez (vocals, guitar) and Leslie Simizu (vocals, bass), the Columbus, OH-based indie rock quartet didi can trace their origins to when its founding duo of Zakany and McGrath met in college, and began jamming together as a way of exorcising life’s frustration. Bilapka-Arbelaez and Shimizu were local musicians that didi’s founding duo had admired from afar, and they were recruited to join the band shortly after its formation.  The members of the Columbus, OH-based indie rock band cite Sonic Youth and Built to Spill as influences on their sound and approach. However, the band’s songs find the band generally eschewing a single charismatic frontperson in favor of allowing all of the individual members the freedom and ability to write and sing.

Each member of the band proudly embraces their heritage and differing backgrounds, creative ambitions and songwriting styles, and while they seek to give context and bring personal depth to the music they write together, they firmly believe in music as a way to foster positive communication between people of underrepresented backgrounds as a means to grow a positive environment both within the band and outside of it. Interestingly, the band derives their name from Leslie Shimizu’s grandmother Dorothy Sugawara-Shimizu. Didi, as her grandchildren call her was born and raised in Seattle in the 1920s. And until recently, Didi Sugawara-Shimizu kept most of her personal history to herself, not wanting to burden anyone with the story. “I didn’t really think my story was that different from anyone else. Everyone has their story,” Sugawara-Shimizu would often say. However, Didi was taken from her home when she was 13 and placed in an internment camp for Japanese Americans in Idaho for the next two years of her life. 

One’s teenage years can be incredibly difficult but imagine being a teenager —  and being treated as though you were an illegal alien in your own homeland. As the band explains “but the reason we chose to honor her is not solely because of the struggle she face, but is [sic] so that her story and the story of every woman will be told. We want her to know that her life and her story matter, and that we will be telling it for as long as we can. We want her to know that her quiet strength has given us inspiration to be loud. And we need her to know that she will be remembered and immortalized in our music.” 

didi’s sophomore album like memory foam was released last week through Damnably Records and the album’s material thematically seek to explore the power of an ambiguous identity in terms of of race, gender, class and others to navigate difficult or guarded conversations; the pain of forgetting what once seemed to be an unforgettable love; the sing a woman is capable of in the face of an unchecked man socialized to underestimate her and so on. 

The album’s second single, the slow-burning yet gorgeous and atmospheric “Beached” is centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar chords and ethereal vocals. Sonically, the song recalls Mazzy Star and Sun June, as it possesses a similar delicate quality.  Shot by the members of didi and edited by Alex Bloch, the recently released video features the band’s members at the beach — some in the water or running into the water. At one point, the drummer hurls her drums into the water, while another member plays the cello as the waves lap on the shore. The visuals are a feverish and hallucinatory dream. 

Initially formed back in 2009 as Sister Crayon, the acclaimed Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo  Rituals of Mine, comprised of  Terra Lopez and Dani Fernandez developed a national profile through years of relentless touring up and down the West Coast, playing house shows, DIY venues, basement rooms, followed by touring with the likes of The Album Leaf, Built to Spill, Antemasque, Le Butcherettes, Maps & Atlases, Doomtree and others. Adding to a quickly growing profile, the Los Angeles-based duo’s first two albums — 2011’s Bellow and 2013’s Cynic — were released to critical acclaim, while cementing a reputation for crafting cathartic material centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, soulful vocals and trip hop-inspired production.

2015’s Wes Jones-produced album Devoted continued their successful run of critical applause with the album landing on a number of indie “Top Ten Albums of 2015” lists; but despite the attention the album received, that year was a rather harrowing and difficult year for the duo’s Terra Lopez, as her father committed suicide and several months later, her best friend Lucas Johnson died in a tragic accident. Reeling from the grief of such profoundly unexpected loss, the duo felt the need to put the Sister Crayon name to rest, moving forward with their new mane Rituals of Mine. As Terra Lopez wrote at the time, “It was a mantra that I repeated under my breath on a daily basis when the loss I was experiencing felt too heavy at times. Music, the act of creating, performing, touring, writing, singing, experimenting – all the rituals we have created to get through life.”

2016 saw the re-issue of the Tom Coyne re-mastered Devoted through Warner Brothers Records and the re-issue featured some previous unreleased remixes and B-sides. And although some time has passed since I’ve personally written about the acclaimed Los Angeles-based pop duo, Lopez and Fernandez have been incredibly busy — earlier this year, they opened for a number of dates for The Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill’s co-headliing tour, and they’re currently opening for Garbage during the multi-plantium Grammy Award-winning band’s US tour. Additionally, the duo recently announced their first UK tour in November with Geographer and The Seshen. They’re also currently working on Devoted‘s follow up with longtime producer Wes Jones and Neal Pogue — and the first batch of new material from the duo is the righteously furious anti-Trump anthem “No Time To Go Numb.” Centered around a hyper modern production featuring stuttering and thumping beats, distorted vocal samples over which Lopez sings and spits fire, reminding the listener, that now isn’t the time to slink back from the horrors of a power mad and greedy administration; that it’s time to be fueled by righteous anger and fight like hell for the things that truly matter. As the duo’s Terra Lopez explains in press notes ” We started writing this song on Inauguration Day. It was a bleak time in the studio and we were feeling very hopeless, like most of the country. Two years later and the collective fear and disgust we all felt is still there, if not compounded, and that really inspired every lyric in this song. I wanted to address things that stay on my mind: the mediocrity of men and how our society treats womxn, the strength of the LGBTQ community and the resiliency of POC. I’m angry but also hopeful and ready to fight, to keep fighting. I’m so tired of seeing the same shit repeat itself – it’s time we set the bar higher. This song is an anthem for the LGBTQ community, to womxn and to people of color.

We carry so much on our shoulders, on our hearts. And this current administration continues to burden us and place us in danger, so we have to stick together. This is my way of showing up for us. “

New Video: The Symbolic, Video Game-Styled Visuals for The Prids Shoegazer-like “Mangled Hearts”

Currently comprised of founding members Mistina La Fave and David Fredrickson, with Tim Yates and Gordon Nickel, the Portland, OR-based noise pop act The Prids can trace their origins back to 1995 when the founding duo met in La Fave’s hometown of Saint Joseph, MO — shortly after Frederickson had relocated from Southern California. As the story goes, La Fave and Fredrickson started a relationship, divorced not long after they got married, formed The Prids, relocated to Lincoln, NE before permanently settling in Portland in 1999. Despite going through several lineup changes, the band has released four full-length albums, a handful of EPs and toured across the world with acts like Built to Spill and others,  while developing a reputation for their tenacious adherence to remaining completely DIY for all the right reasons to remain DIY,  which has won them countless admirers and fans across the DIY scene. And along with being among the forefront of the Pacific Northwest’s DIY scene, they’re one of Portland’s longest-running active bands, surviving through illness, deaths of friends and loved ones, the aforementioned divorce and a near fatal van accident. 

In some way, it’s a miracle that the band’s album Do I Look Like I’m in Love exists, let alone be slated for a a  January 12, 2018  through their label, This-a-Way Records. La Fave suffered a brain hemorrhage the night before the band was scheduled to enter the studio to record new material. And as you can imagine, La Fave’s recovery was mentally, physically and emotionally taxing for her and for everyone in the band with La Fave considering herself being lucky to be alive — with playing and performing being icing on the proverbial cake.  Reportedly, the new album will further cement the band’s reputation for deliberate attention to songcraft and nuanced (and moody) soundscapes paired with keen lyrical observations. 

Do I Look Like I’m in Love’s latest single “Mangled Hearts” is a tender, shimmering, shoegazer-like track that features La Fave’s ethereal yet contemplative vocals, four-on-the-floor drumming and a gently soaring hook that evokes a swooning longing for something or someone just out of reach. 

The recently released video was animated by the band’s nonbinaary and androgyne keyboradist Tim Yates and is an 8-bit video game adventure reminiscent of Super Mario Brothers, Castlevania and others featuring a nameless and gender-neutral everyperson, who wears a shirt with a non-binary flag for most of their adventure. The video’s baddies behave in ways inspired by the struggles of the LGBTQ community — you’ll see one-eyed pyramid creatures meant to represent harmful and repressive religious doctrine, solid stone knights with scrolls symbolizing unjust and rigid legislation and so on. Throughout, the video, it’s protagonist employs non-violent and clever ways to defeat the bad guys they encounter. And while being mischievous and pretty fucking clever, the video reminds the viewer that for some of our dearest and beloved friends, family members, coworkers and neighbors, that there’s a continuing struggle for acceptance.  

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past 12-18 months or so, you’d likely see that I’ve written quite a bit about the Hamilton, ON-based singer/songwriter, guitar and newest JOVM mainstay Terra Lightfoot. And although she’s a member of Canadian country act Dinner Belles, Lightfoot, who personally has claimed Maybelle CarterSister Rosetta TharpeLead BellyLightnin’ HopkinsSam CookeOtis ReddingNina Simone and Billie Holiday, the Hamilton-based singer/songwriter and guitarist has developed a reputation as a solo artist, who crafts raw, slow-burning singer/songwriter guitar pop. Adding to a growing profile across her native Canada and elsewhere, Lightfoot opened for the likes of  Emmylou HarrisRon SexsmithGordon LightfootBlue RodeoRheostaticsGrace PotterThe BothBuilt to SpillSloanArkellsBasia BulatAlbert LeeJames BurtonThe SadiesSteve StrongmanMonster Truck and Daniel Lanois.

Lightfoot’s third full-length album New Mistakes is slated for an October 13, 2017 through Sonic Unyon Records, and as you may recall, the album’s first single “Paradise” found the Hamilton, ON-based JOVM mainstay thoroughly reinventing her sound while still retaining some of the essential elements that first caught the attention of this site and elsewhere — including Lightfoot’s personal and deeply heartfelt lyrics and booming, soulful vocals; however, “Paradise” may arguably be one of the most anthemic songs she’s released to date, as it’s rooted around the sort of bluesy shout and stomp reminiscent of T. Bone Burnett, The Black Keys and others. Of course, the song clearly pushes the Canadian JOVM mainstay’s sound towards a decided, blues rock direction — but it does so while revealing an artist, who has found her own, unique voice.

New Mistakes‘ latest single, the atmospheric  “Norma Gale” may arguably be Lightfoot’s most singer/songwriter-like songs, as it was inspired by her meeting and befriending Norma Gale, a country singer/songwriter, who developed a great following in Nashville and wound up playing with Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty during the 1970s. As Lightfoot explains in press notes, the song chronicles Gale’s life, as she’s trying to make a name for herself as a musician — while raising a young son as a single parent. “I kept in touch with Norma and her son, and let them know when I finally made it to Nashville to do some writing, but unfortunately, she had passed away two weeks earlier,” Lightfoot recalls.  Unsurprisingly, based on Lightfoot’s own work, I can see why she would be drawn to Gale and her story — and as a result, Lightfoot empathetically conveys the strength and resolve to achieve your dreams, even when things are at their most desperate. And as a musician, how can you not see yourself in the struggle of those before you, who have tried to make a name for themselves?

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