Tag: Built to Spill

New Video: Night Dreamer’s Contemporary Take on New Wave and Goth

Deriving their name from a composition written and recorded by the legendary jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, Night Dreamer is a new collaborative project that combines the divergent talents and musical voices of Smashing Pumpkins’ Jeff Schroeder and Southern California-based classically trained, New Wave multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Mindy Song into one unified, artistic vision. Introduced to each other through mutual friends, the duo can trace the origins of their latest project back to early 2017 when they met up for an experimental session at Schroeder’s Chicago-based studio. . “I had no plan other than to just get together with Jeff and see where things might go,” Night Dreamer’s Mindy Song recalls in press notes. “But then once we got going, it was an immediate explosion of sound and inspiration.”

As the story goes. about an hour into their first time working together, Song and Schroeder came up with “Treasure,” the title track off their forthcoming debut EP, Treasure. Slated for an October 11, 2019 release, the EP was mainly recorded at The Cave Studio with Josiah Mazzaschi, a producer, mixer and engineer, who’s worked with The Jesus and Mary Chain and Built to Spill among others — and the EP’s material reportedly finds the band meshing elements of dream pop, noise, heavy metal, goth and New Wave among others. Interestingly, each individual track is imprinted with a singular sonic aesthetic that came about roughly halfway through the Treasure EP recording sessions.“At first we went down a more traditional route in the recording, with live drums and live bass, but then Mindy asked if she could mess around with those tracks and take it in a different direction,” Schroeder recalls.

Working on her own after Schroeder returned to Chicago for tour rehearsal, Song started to reshape the material through the use of drum machines and synths, which managed to amplify the intensity of Schroeder’s guitar playing. “Usually it’s difficult to blend guitar with electronic music in a way that works,” says Schroeder. “But what Mindy sent back to me was so much more exciting than what we’d done before, and put us on a completely different trajectory.”

Treasure’s first single is the shimmering and mesmerizing “Another Life.” Centered around buzzing guitars, tweeter and woofer rattling 808-like beats and Mindy Song’s expressive and plaintive vocals, the song feels like a subtle modernization of the work of New Wave/goth titans like Sixousie and the Banshees and The Cure — but instead of wallowing in the darkness, the song manages to have an upbeat message of rising above one’s currently shitty circumstances, that things do get better in time.

Directed by John Isberg, the recently released video finds the members of Night Dreamer performing the song in an abandoned loft. Shot in warm yet simultaneously soft light, the video finds the duo escaping into the emotion and message of the song.

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. “