Tag: Chicago IL

New Video: Up-and-Coming Aussie Electro Pop Act Haiku Hands Release a Cinematically Shot Visual for “Dare You Not To Dance”

Featuring a core trio comprised of Claire Nakazawa, Beatrice Lewis and Mie Nakazawa, the Australian indie electro pop act Haiku Hands is split between Melbourne and Sydney, and together the members of the act, who are influenced by hip-hop, pop, electro pop dance music and others, curate, perform and work as part of a larger collective that engages with and explores social norms with their lyrical, musical and visual content. Last year was a big year for the Aussie electro pop act as their previously released, high-energy bangers “Squat,” “Jupiter,” and “Not About You” amassed over 3.5 million streams — and as a result, each single landed spots on iTunes charts across the globe; in fact, “Jupiter” was included on Matt Wilkinson‘s Best Songs of 2018 So Far list, and received airplay on BBC Radio 1 and Radio X.

Earlier this year, the Aussie electro pop act went on a month-long North American tour with CHAI that featured stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and the Market Hotel, as well as an opening date for Cupcake in Chicago, along with appearances at a handful of SXSW showcases.

Building upon a rapidly growing national and international profile, the Aussie electro pop act are about to embark on a month-long tour of North America with CHAI that features stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and the Market Hotel, as well as an opening slot for Cupcake in Chicago, and along with that they had a busy SXSW, making appearances at a number of showcases, which have helped expand their profile internationally. But in the meantime, the act’s latest single is the brash and infectious “Dare You Not To Dance,” which will further cement their reputation for crafting club bangers that mesh elements of riot grrl punk, hip-hop, house music, drum ‘n’ bass, EDM and trap music with enormous, shout along worthy hooks in a way that brings M.I.A. and Gwen Stefani to mind.

Directed by Nathan Lewis, the recently released, incredibly cinematic video follows a collection of different young people, enthusiastically dancing in public — and in some cases while they’re supposed to be working or some other moment; and unlike the occasional passerby, these dancers are completely unguarded and free. 

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New Audio: Carlton Jumel Smith Releases a Swooning, Classic Soul-Inspired Declaration of Devotion

Last month, I wrote about Carlton Jumel Smith, a New York-based R&B/soul singer/songwriter, who emerged into the international soul scene with the release of his debut single “I Can’t Love You Anymore,” a 70s soul and R&B-inspired track that found him collaborating with the renowned Timmion Records production and house band team Cold Diamond & Mink. Building upon a rapidly growing profile within soul circles, Smith, who cites James Brown, Al Green, The Temptations, Sly Stone, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Womack and Tom Waits as influences on his own work will be releasing his full-length debut 1634 Lexington Avenue through Timmion Records and Daptone Records.

Slated for release later this week, 1634 Lexington Avenue reportedly finds Smith and the Timmion Records crew carrying on in the tradition and sounds of Curtom Records, the Chicago-based studio and label founded by Curtis Mayfield; Memphis soul; and of course, by default Motown for contemporary listeners.  Now, as you may recall, album single “This Is What Love Looks Like!” while centered around a shuffling, two-step groove, a sultry horn line and Smith’s soulful crooning thematically and sonically drew from the classic soul and pop songs of the late 60s and 70s with the song’s narrator expressing his devotion to his life with a sweetness and passion that you’ll rarely here in contemporary music. Continuing in a similar vein as its predecessor, 1634 Lexington Avenue’s latest single “Woman You Made Me” is triumphant declaration of the narrator’s appreciation of the woman in his life, complete with the tacit recognition that love is complicated and hard — and that finding that special someone is both lucky and rare. Sonically, the song seamlessly meshes the classic 60s Motown sound with Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield psych soul.

“I sing the type of R&B and soul that I grew up with and I present it in a fashion that is designed to make one thing of love and loyalty, which as DJ Rogers once said ‘are not for sale,'” Smith says in press notes. 

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. 

Born Tessa Violet Williams in Chicago, the up-and-coming, Nashville-based indie pop singer/songwriter and vlogger, Tessa Violet can trace the origins of her music career to a school project in which she began daily vlogging in 2007 for a school project with the screen name Meekakitty while working in Hong Kong and Thailand as a model; however, by 2009 Williams quit modeling and relocated to New York, to focus on her vlog, which primarily focused on storytelling, skits and music videos — particularly, fan-made music videos for popular artists like Reliant K, Family Force 5 and MIKA.

Wiliams gained national attention after winning $100,000 in a YouTube competition by receiving the most comments on her video entry.  In 2011, Williams was featured in fellow YouTube creator Nanalew’s fan-made “Sail,” which went viral and has amassed over 310 million views. In 2012, The Chicago-born, Nashville-based indie pop singer/songwriter followed her appearance in “Sail” by appearing in the video for Family Force 5’s “Cray Button,” and then directing the act’s video for “Chainsaw,” which featured Tedashii.

By 2013 Williams began to focus on writing, recording and releasing music and the focus on her YouTube channel shifted to her original music, eventually leading to her dropping the Meekakitty moniker and using her real name Tessa Violet across all of her online platforms.

So far the past year or so has been a breakthrough, whirlwind year for the up-and-coming Chicago-born, Nashville-based indie pop artist: she’s released two critically applauded singles “Crush” and “Bad Ideas” — “Crush” has amassed over 18 million Spotify streams and the video has received over 36 million views. “Bad Ideas” became a viral hit. As result of the success of those two singles, Williams toured with her first live, backing band, which featured Jess Bowen (drums) — and that tour included her first sold-out headline shows at Los AngelesThe Troubadour and the Mercury Lounge. 

Building upon an exploding profile, she just finished her first UK tour, which featured a sold out London show, and Billboard featured her as one of 10 new festival artists to look out for this year. She was also named the first YouTube Foundry Artist of 2019 — and she’ll be making her Lollapalooza debut this year. Her full-length album Bad Ideas will be released one song a month or so throughout the year, and the album’s third and latest single “I Like (The Idea of) You” recently premiered on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist and YouTube Music’s Pop Before It Breaks playlist. Centered around a disco meets New Wave-like bass line, the Chicago-born, Nashville-based pop artist’s latest single is a sultry and coquettish, late night strut that recalls DFA Records heyday.

“I was seeing this guy at the time, who I knew wasn’t into me. And even though I could see that, it was still so much fun to think and obsess about him,” Tessa Violet says of the song. “Replaying the way he said my name on the phone, imagining what I would wear or say the next time I saw him, thinking of things I could write about him. I remember that I could logically see it wasn’t going anywhere, so I thought maybe I should feel embarrassed about how much time I was spending on him. But it didn’t make me feel embarrassed, it made me feel sexy and powerful. So what if they’re not that into me? I like the idea of it and I’m going to enjoy that.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sophie Brochu is a Savannah, GA-born, Chicago, IL-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of her musical career to feeling frustrated with the constraints of her craft, after completing her masters in fiction writing. And as a result, she turned to music for its raw and immediate emotional release. Beginning her musical career as a member of Chicago-based bands Astrobrite and Videotape, the Savannah-born, Chicago-based singer/songwriter and guitarist also leads her own project, Fauvely.

Featuring Dale Price, Scott Cortez, and Dave Piscotti, the Chicago-based band led by Brochu have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for crafting deeply personal dream pop. The Chicago-based dream pop act’s debut, 2017’s EP Watch Me Overcomplicate This featured confessional material that ranged from delicately self-effacing to hauntingly sad; but its follow-up, last year’s Tides was inspired by Brochu’s birthplace and the effort found Brochu and company expanding their sound and approach, with bolder and brooding material that thematically focused on coming to terms with haunting and unsettling memories in a place revered for its beauty.

Slated for a May 17, 2019 release through Chicago-based indie label Diversion Records, Fauvely’s forthcoming This is What the Living Do EP derives its name from a collection of poetry by New York-based poet Marie Howe. The EP’s first single and title track, the brooding yet ethereal “This Is What the Living Do” is dedicated to her friend, who lost her mother to cancer. And while the sparsely arranged and hauntingly spectral track bears an uncanny resemblance to Mazzy Star, its centered by the grief and heartache of inconsolable, unfathomable loss.

 

New York-based R&B/soul singer/songwriter Carlton Jumel Smith emerged into the international soul scene with his debut single “I Can’t Love You Anymore,” a 70s soul and R&B-inspired track that found him collaborating with the renowned Timmion Records production and house band team Cold Diamond & Mink. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the New York-based soul, who cites the likes of James Brown, Al Green, The Temptations, Sly Stone, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Womack and Tom Waits as influences will be be releasing his full-length debut 1634 Lexington Avenue through Timmion Records and Daptone Records.

Slated for a May 10, 2019 release, 1634 Lexington Avenue reportedly finds Smith and the Timmion Records crew carrying on in the tradition and sounds of Curtom Records, the Chicago-based studio and label founded by Curtis Mayfield; Memphis soul; and of course, by default Motown for contemporary listeners.  Centered around a shuffling, two-step groove, a sultry horn line and Smith’s soulful crooning, 1634 Lexington Avenue‘s latest single “This Is What Love Looks Like!” draws from the classic love songs of the late 60s and 70s — and as a result, the song’s narrator expresses his devotion to his love with a swooning sweetness and passion devoid of the cynicism and selfishness of most contemporary pop.

“Here is a guy that woke up and realized what he had before it was too late and he is only too happy to share this with the world and he proclaims and declares his love for the world to hear,” Smith explains in press notes. “He is talking directly to his girl…but loud enough for everyone to hear because he is so proud of his involvement with her.”

New Video: Thievery Corporation Side Project The Archives Set to Release a Reggae Tribute to Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron was a singer/songwriter, poet and multi-instrumentalist, best known for his influential work between the late 1960s and early 80s, which meshed jazz, blues, soul and funk with spoken word and poetry. Lyrically, his work focused on the sociopolitical issues of the Black community, delivered in a style that sort of resembled rapping; in fact, much ink has been spilled on how Scott-Heron’s breakthrough works Pieces of a Man (particularly, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” ) and Winter in America, have had a momentous influence on contemporary music, particularly on hip-hop and neo soul. 

Sadly, during the last decade of his life, Scott-Heron battled drug addiction and as a result  had several stints in and out of prison; however, he managed to remain to be a remarkably prolific artist, writing and recording when he was able. Just before he died, the legendary and influential poet and musician released the critically praised album I’m New Here and finished work on a memoir, which was published posthumously. Interestingly, before he died, he went into the studio and recorded extremely stripped down versions of some of his best known and beloved material, accompanied on piano with no overdubbing or extra studio production that was largely unreleased and unheard until XL Recordings released the material as Nothing New on what would have been the legendary artist’s 65th birthday.  

Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton along with Darryl “Trane” Burke started The Archives as a quest to explore the roots of reggae music. The project’s 2012 self-titled debut was released to critical acclaim. Seven years have passed since their debut, but Burke and Hilton have teamed up to co-produce reggae tribute album celebrating the work of Gil Scott-Heron and his longtime collaborator Brian Jackson that will be released through Hilton’s new label Montserrat House. So what’s the connection between reggae and Gil Scott-Heron, you may be asking? Well, Scott-Heron’s father Gilbert was a famous Jamaican soccer player, who wound up being the first Black player in Scotland’s Celtic League, so the album in some way celebrates the influential poet’s Jamaican heritage, while highlighting his still relevant reflections and thoughts on social justice and chance. “Like Gil’s compositions, reggae contains elements of jazz and soul,“ says Hilton. “It’s the perfect backdrop to Gil’s revolutionary pan-Africanist lyrics.” The album also will feature contributions from Jamaican dub poet Mutabaruka; R&B soul singer Raheem DeVaughn; percussionist Larry McDonald, who was once a member of Scott-Heron’s backing band Amnesia Express; Addis Pablo, the son of reggae legend Augustus Pablo; Kenyatta Hill, the son of Culture’s Joseph Hill; and Brian Jackson, Scott-Heron’s longtime collaborator. 

Released on 1971’s Pieces of a Man, “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” may arguably be one of the most heartbreaking and chilling depictions of the hopelessness of life in the Black ghetto and the toll it takes on the song’s narrator and his neighbors. Centered around a brooding and strutting 70s singer/songwriter soul arrangement, the song fits in perfectly with its time, recalling What’s Going On-era Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Bill Withers — but with a restless bitterness and disillusionment that should feel unsettling to those who are sensitive to the plight of their fellow humans. Seeing its release on what would have been Scott-Heron’s 70th birthday, The Archives first Gil Scott-Heron tribute album single “Home Is Where The Hatred Is,” is a shuffling and brooding reggae version of Scott-Heron’s famous track, featuring Thievery Corporation’s St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands-born vocalist Puma Ptah. And while putting a subtle spin on a familiar and well-known song, The Archives manage to retain the song’s still-relevant emotional weight — it’s bitter, disillusionment and frustration. While many Americans — particularly, Whites — may think reggae is all good times and smiles by the beach, reggae has always been protest music, describing the deplorable conditions, frustrations, hopes and dreams of some of the world’s proudest yet poorest people. Let both versions remind you of the dashed hopes, expectations and dreams of those in the South Bronx; Jamaica, Queens; Baltimore; Chicago’s South Side; Gary, IN; Newark, NJ; Camden, NJ; Ferguson, MO; and countless similar places across the country. Isla

The recently released video is split between footage of Puma Ptah walking through the abandoned apartments and dirty alleyways of the hood, and Ptah with the members of The Archives recording the song in the studio and performing it. 

Ethan Snoreck is a 19-year-old, Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based electronic music artist, DJ and electronic music producer, best known as Whethan. Snoreck first made a name for himself as a SoundCloud producer, who gained attention from the likes of Skrillex and Flux Pavillion; but he hasn’t forgotten where he came from, as he continues to feed the SoundCloud producer community with bootlegs of artists like Clairo and Brockhampton, which have received attention from the artists — and have led to Hype Machine #1s.
Building upon a growing profile, Whethan has toured with the likes of The Chainsmokers  and made festival appearances at Lollapalooza, Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival and Coachella. The Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based electronic music producer, electronic music artist and DJ is set to play a few West coast dates with Zedd in April and will make a return appearance at Lollapalooza in the fall; but in the meantime, Whethan’s first single of the year, the starry-eyed club banger “Win You Over,” a collaboration with up-and-coming Norwegian artist Bearson and up-and-coming Irish aristocrat’s SOAK. Centered around SOAK’s sultry yet ethereal vocals floating over a disco  house production featuring thumping beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, chopped up vocals, and an enormously anthemic hook — and while slickly produced, the song captures the first swooning moments infatuation that border on obsession.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Ibibio Sound Machine Releases Vividly Colored Visuals for Funky Album Single “Wanna Come Down”

I’ve written quite a bit about this site’s newest mainstay, the London-based act Ibibio Sound Machine over the past few months, and the act, which is fronted by Nigerian-born vocalist Eno Williams and features Alfred Kari Bannerman (guitar), Anselmo Netto (percussion), Jose Joyette (drums), Derrick McIntyre (bass), Tony Hayden (trombone, synth), Scott Baylis (trumpet, synth) and Max Grunhard (sax, synth) over the course of their first two albums — 2014’s self-titled debut and 2017’s Uyai — have received attention both nationally and internationally for a sound that’s influenced by golden era West African funk and disco and contemporary post-punk and electro pop.

Now, as you may recall, the London-based act’s third, full-length album Doko Mien is slated for a March 22, 2019 release through Merge Records, and the album which derives its name from the Ibibio phase that translates into English as “tell me,” reportedly finds the act crafting a sonic world of entrancing specificity and comforting universality, essentially blurring the lines separating cultures, between nature and technology, between joy and pain, between tradition and the future. Album title track  and first official single, “Doko Mien,” was centered around a glimmering, hook-driven club banger  featuring 80s synth funk meets disco-like beats, arpeggiated synths, African polyrhythm, a sinuous bass line and pizzicato guitar and an explosive horn arrangement. Sonically, the song strikes me as a wild, genre-bending amalgamation of I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan, Prince, Michael Jackson‘s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin‘,” Chicago house and Fela Kuti — and adding to the globalist vibes, Williams soulfully sings lyrics in both English and Ibibio, the Nigerian dialect from which the London-based act derives its name.

Doko Mien‘s second and latest single “Wanna Come Down” continues in a similar, club-banging vein as its predecessor as its centered around a rubbery, Bootsy Collins meets Flea bass line, an explosive horn line, arpeggiated synths and propulsive beats and Williams powerhouse vocals singing lyrics in her native Ibibio and English. Sonically, the song is a wild and seamless synthesis of 80s synth funk, Afrobeat and JOVM mainstays Escort — all while feeling like a sultry come on. In line with the track’s beckoning title, the band’s frontwoman Eno Williams says, “The Ibibio lyrics of the track are about the healing power of the river and the chorus. ‘Wanna come down, get ready ‘coz we’re gonna go’ is inviting people to come, dance and get involved with what’s going on.”

The recently released video employs the use of a bold and vivid color palette that includes reds, blues, white, yellows, purples and an array of other pastels, as well as split screens that feature each of the band’s musicians performing the funky club banger; but the heart of the song and the video is the band’s commanding frontowman.