Tag: Cleveland OH

New Video: Salt Lake City’s Choir Boy Releases a Mischievous 80s Influenced Visual for Shimmering Pop Confection “Complainer”

Fronted by its Cleveland-born, Salt Lake City-based founder, frontman and creative mastermind, singer/songwriter Adam Klopp, the rising indie pop act Choir Boy derives its name from an insult that was given to Klopp in his early teens when he fronted some of his earliest bands. Given Klopp’s religious upbringing and angelic voice, the insult at the time, may have been both fair and fitting. 

After graduating high school, Klopp left Ohio for college in Utah. Although, his college career was short-lived, he left religion behind and quickly integrated into Provo’s and Salt Lake City’s underground music and art scenes, eventually starting Choir Boy. With the release of the project’s full-length debut, 2016’s Passive With Desire, Klopp’s work drew comparisons to Scott Walker, Kate Bush and Talk Talk.

Klopp’s Choir Boy debut won the attention of Dais Records, and building upon a growing profile, he released “Sunday Light” in 2018, which was followed by a reissue of Passive With Desire on vinyl and CD. Recently, Klopp has filled out the band with a permanent lineup: Chaz Costello (bass, sax), Jeff Kleinman (keys) and Michael Paulson (guitar). Each member has brought their unique influences to the table, helping to develop subtly more dynamic sound for the band — one in which, there’s a bit of post-punk grit and 80s-influenced swing to the mix. 

Slated for a May 8, 2020 release, Choir Boy’s sophomore album Gathering Swans is the first bit of recorded output with the band’s new lineup. And importantly, while seemingly drawing from Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry, The Cleaners from Venusand others, the material features Klopp’s achingly earnest and angelic falsetto, expressing those emotions that are particularly difficult to name. 

The album’s first single is the dance floor friendly  “Complainer.”  Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, some industrial-like drum machine and organic drumming, a looping and shimmering guitar line, an ehe enormous and rousingly anthemic hook and Klopp’s achingly tender falsetto, the song — to my ears, at least — seems like a synthesis between Meat Is Murder-era The Smiths, Tears for Fears and contemporaries like Washed Out. Interestingly, Klopp explains that the song “marked a shift in lyrical tone from previous releases. While many of our earlier songs serve as flowery lamentations of loss and grief, ‘Complainer’ snakily examines the self absorption of sadness. The opening line Oh my life was something I privately uttered while stewing over daily anxieties. It became comical to me that I would express my self pity like that, in earnest when my struggles seemed so relatively tame.  The song continues, It’s a phrase so funny when it’s spoken so sincere. But it’s not that bad, I’ve never really had it worse. I’m just a complainer. ‘Complainer’ multi-tasks as a pop song and a reminder to keep my privilege in check.”

Directed by the members of Choir Boy, edited by Choir Boy’s Adam Klopp and featuring an action cameo by Sam Rodriguez, the recently released video for “Complainer” is a decidedly lo-fi, fittingly 80s-inspired visual split between footage of the band playing the song in random locations while mischievously revealing the band’s involvement in a seedy, back alley, Fight Club-like fighting ring. 

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Racket Man is an up-and-coming Cleveland, OH-based indie pop act, comprised of Tyler Ewing, Tommy Marx, Chris Seaman and Vince Sivestro. Influenced by Prefab Sprout and Mint Condition, the band describes their sound as falling somewhere between a Todd Rundgren inspired yacht rock quartet and 00s boy band. Unsurprisingly, the band’s most latest single “Front Seat” is a breezy and slow-burning track that’s a sleek synthesis of   silky smooth, Quiet Storm R&B, boy band pop and contemporary electro pop with a slick and infectious hook.

 

 

 

New Audio: Combo Chimbita’s Propulsive and Psychedelic New Single

Throughout JOVM’s eight-plus year history, I’ve covered Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP)’s annual conference in some fashion or another. As a national service, advocacy and membership organization for those within the performing arts — particularly within dance and theater, APAP over the years has developed a reputation for their role in assisting musicians and groups, who specialize in “world music.” Along with the annual conference, which features discussion panels, lectures, networking sessions and the like for artists producing, recording and creating artwork in our extremely complicated and confusing political landscape, there are a number of carefully curated showcases hosted and/or sponsored by this city’s best known “world music” venues.  Now, as you may recall, the Lower East Side world music venue DROM hosts Barbes’ and Electric Cowbell’s annual Secret Planet APAP showcase — and earlier this year, their wildly eclectic showcase featured the New York-based Colombian folk collective Bulla en el Barrio; the Brooklyn-based act Drunken Foreigner, which specializes in a sprawling, psych rock-like iteration of the Akha and Lam Lao musics of Thailand and Laos; the Cleveland, OH-based Afro-futuristic soul act Mourning [A] BLKSTAR; the New York-based Afro-futuristic-inspired, psychedelic cumbia act Combo Chimbita; the New York-based Ethiopian funk and jazz-inspired septet Anabessa Orchestra; and the New York-based act Hearing Things which specializes in a sound that draws from Middle Eastern music, surf rock, and 60s soul and R&B.

Featuring Bulla en el Barrio’s Carolina Oliveros (vocals) along with Prince of Queens (synths and bass), Niño Lento (guitar) and Dilemastronauta (drums), Combo Chimbita began experimenting with different traditional music styles during their late night residencies at Barbes — much of this experimentation included explorations between visual identity and improvisational long-form trips that eventually lead to their thunderous 2016 self-recorded debut, El Corridor del Jaguar. Interestingly, much like Mourning [A] BLKSTR, the New York-based act is deeply inspired by Sun Ra’s Afro-futurism — while championing their own take on it, which they’ve dubbed Tropical Futurism. As the band says “the idea that the future doesn’t necessarily have to be this super white Western high-tech Star Wars stuff; that the indigenous ideas and culture of people of color, people of Latin America, can also represent a magical and substantial future. It’s a vision that maybe a lot of people don’t necessarily think about often. The old and deep knowledge that indigenous people have of the land has been neglected for many years as part of capitalism and colonization.”

Their Lily Wen-produced sophomore full-length album Abya Yala was released through Figure & Ground Records was released back in 2016, and the album further established the band’s unique futuristic take on cumbia. And along with an incredible live show, led by Oliveros powerhouse vocals and commanding stage presence, the New York-based act has begun to receive quite a bit of buzz. In fact, renowned Los Angeles-based label ANTI- Records, a label known for having a roster of wildly eclectic array of artists that includes the legendary Mavis Staples, recently signed the band. As the band’s Prince of Queens says in press notes, “ANTI- is a special label. It is crazy to be part of such a diverse pool of artists, feels extra special being an immigrant band singing in Spanish. I grew up in Bogota listening to a lot of bands on Epitaph and not understanding a word they were singing but it made me want to be in a band and learn music. It feels like full circle working with [Epitaph’s sister label] ANTI-.”

The members of Combo Chimbita will be closing out a big year with a series of live shows the include sets at Lincoln Center and Philadelphia’s PhilaMOCA before joining Parquet Courts for the Midwestern leg of the indie rock’s current tour. You can check out the tour dates below. But before that, the band has released a trippy new single “Testigo,” a track centered by a looping Afro pop-like guitar line, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, rolling and propulsive percussion, a sinuous bass line and Oliveros’ powerhouse vocals. Sonically speaking, their sound serves as a power reminder of how much contemporary music — particularly Latin American music — draws from Africa, as much as it does from their own native traditions, and they do so in a wildly anachronistic yet dance floor friendly fashion. 

JUICEBOXXX s a Milwaukee, WI-based emcee, who has developed a reputation within underground circles for a sound that draws from rock, punk rock, hip-hop and a disparate array of other influences that frequently finds him attempting to walk a difficult tightrope between appealing to the avant garde-leaning artist fringe and a pop sensibility.

Unsurprisingly, the Cleveland, OH-based punk band The Pagans were a major influence on the Milwaukee-based rapper’s work. “I rarely do covers, but The Pagans classic ‘Dead End America’ always seemed like a great fit, and a good b-side for my coming ‘Freaked Out American Loser’ single,” JUICEBOXXX explains in press notes. “It was recorded last summer in LA with my backing band (The Thunder Zone Band — Rocker Mike and Willy D) and Aaron Espinoza. I had a blast going crazy in the studio and trying to remember why I do this shit in the first place. ”

“I was saddened to hear about the passing of Pagans singer Mike Hudson,” JUICEBOXXX says in press notes “Coming from the Midwest, I can’t help but think of this thread of punk rock as heartland music, born in rustbelt basements and dive bars out of desperation and boredom. Freaking out to stay alive.” And although it’s a fairly straightforward and loving JUICEBOXXX’s cover manages to evoke the same sort of furious and desperate urgency of the original — while suggesting that throughout the years kids everywhere are practically the same.

 

Ted Feighan is a Cleveland, OH-born and-based multi-instrumentalist, producer, electronic music artist and visual artist, whose solo recording project Monster Rally is inspired by vintage exotica and tropical imagery — and with Monster Rally, Feighan has developed a reputation for a sound centered around collaged samples collected from his vast vinyl archives.

Flowering Jungle, Feighan’s forthcoming Monster Rally album is slated for a December 15, 2017 release through Gold Robot Records, and the album is reportedly inspired by the sounds, visuals and animals of roughly half a century’s with of travel and nature documentaries, and reportedly the album was written as a sort of companion piece to exploring new and exotic landscapes, wildlife and communities. And the album’s artwork, devised by Feighan, who specializes in found paper collages will also reportedly mirror the concept by featuring portraits of jungle birds in flower-adorned “nests” superimposed over the abstracted flag of the “flowering jungle.”  But more importantly for this site, the album’s first single “Sunny Sloth” is a breezy yet slickly produced song centered around a series of looped, lush and shimmering guitar chords, stuttering boom-bap drum programming and trippy psych rock-like hooks. And while subtly kaleidoscopic, the song lushness evokes rainwater hitting against verdant greenery and the incredible array of colorful animals you’d come across.

 

New Video: The Eerie Character Study-based Visuals for Fallow Land’s “Faux”

Formed in 2015 and comprised of Whitaker “Whit” Finberg (guitar, vocals) and Evan Veasey (guitar, vocals), the Ann Arbor, MI-based experimental pop/math rock duo Fallow Land can trace their origins back to a particularly trying period in Whit Fineberg’s life. After relocating to Chicago, the death of a dear friend, the breakup of a previous band and the end of a relationship, Fineberg found himself proverbially speaking on fallow land — and while he may have felt directionless, he also felt more inspired than he had in years. Fineberg spent his free time recording song ideas in his apartment and making frequent visits back home in Ann Arbor to visit family and jam with friends. And as the story goes, Fineberg crossed paths with Evan Veasey, a local musician, who he had heard of and had been familiar with by reputation; but who he hadn’t played with. When they met, Fineberg was impressed by Veasay’s guitar playing — and their unique simpatico as they began to write material pairing off-kilter meter and polyrhythm with conventional song structures to create a sound and songs that are experimental and prog rock-leaning while being accessible.

Caelin Amin (bass, vocals) and Armand Terrell (drums, vocals) join the duo of Fineberg and Veasey for live shows and the band has in a relatively short period of time built up a regional reputation, playing shows in Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland and Toronto and sharing bills with The Bronzed Chorus, Shipley Hollow, All is Well, Amateur Eyes, We Love You and Growing Fins among others. And with the June 30, 2017 release of the duo’s forthcoming Chris Bathgate-produced EP Pinscher, Fineberg and Veasay hope to expand their profile. Interestingly enough, Bathgate, who once shared a bill with a previous band Fineberg had been in, was chosen to helm the controls of the EP because of his keen understanding of songwriting and attention to craft; in fact, as the duo mentions in press notes, after listening to their material, Bathgate helped push the duo and their material to new directions, simply by asking them “What does this song mean to the world?” and “What’s the most important part of the song?”

The EP’s latest single “Faux” will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for an unusual songwriting approach as the band pairs complex and shuffling polyrhythm, a propulsive bass line, shimmering and atmospheric-leaning guitar work and what sounds like either buzzing synths or buzzing feedback with a soaring and anthemic hook. And while possessing a heady intellectualism, the song captures the innermost world of its narrator with an uncanny attention to psychological detail, capturing the narrator’s desire to destroy his ego and all that comes with it; but just under the surface is a twinge of heartache and confusion.

Directed by Stephen Levy and Jordan Anstatt, the recently released videos for “Faux” is a slow-burning, incredibly patient character study of a romantic couple on the verge of a complete breakdown while traveling together. And while driving, the male half of the couple inexplicably pulls over, gets out of the car and disappears. I won’t give away the ending but it’s a startling and eerie twist that leads to several different interpretations.

 

Formed in 2015 and comprised of Whitaker “Whit” Finberg (guitar, vocals) and Evan Veasey (guitar, vocals), the Ann Arbor, MI-based experimental pop/math rock duo Fallow Land can trace their origins back to a particularly trying period in Whit Fineberg’s life. After relocating to Chicago, the death of a dear friend, the breakup of a previous band and the end of a relationship, Fineberg found himself proverbially speaking on fallow land — and while he may have felt directionless, he also felt more inspired than he had in years. Fineberg spent his free time recording song ideas in his apartment and making frequent visits back home in Ann Arbor to visit family and jam with friends. And as the story goes, Fineberg crossed paths with Evan Veasey, a local musician, who he had heard of and had been familiar with by reputation; but who he hadn’t played with. When they met, Fineberg was impressed by Veasay’s guitar playing — and their unique simpatico as they began to write material pairing off-kilter meter and polyrhythm with conventional song structures to create a sound and songs that are experimental and prog rock-leaning while being accessible.

Caelin Amin (bass, vocals) and Armand Terrell (drums, vocals) join the duo of Fineberg and Veasey for live shows and the band has in a relatively short period of time built up a regional reputation, playing shows in Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland and Toronto and sharing bills with The Bronzed Chorus, Shipley Hollow, All is Well, Amateur Eyes, We Love You and Growing Fins among others. And with the June 30, 2017 release of the duo’s forthcoming Chris Bathgate-produced EP Pinscher, Fineberg and Veasay hope to expand their profile. Interestingly enough, Bathgate, who once shared a bill with a previous band Fineberg had been in, was chosen to helm the controls of the EP because of his keen understanding of songwriting and attention to craft; in fact, as the duo mentions in press notes, after listening to their material, Bathgate helped push the duo and their material to new directions, simply by asking them “What does this song mean to the world?” and “What’s the most important part of the song?”

The EP’s latest single “Faux” will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for an unusual songwriting approach as the band pairs complex and shuffling polyrhythm, a propulsive bass line, shimmering and atmospheric-leaning guitar work and what sounds like either buzzing synths or buzzing feedback with a soaring and anthemic hook. And while possessing a heady intellectualism, the song captures the innermost world of its narrator with an uncanny attention to psychological detail, capturing the narrator’s desire to destroy his ego; but just under the surface is a twinge of heartache.

 

 

 

 

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New Video: The Psychedelic and Sensual Visuals for Dubmatrix’s Chilled Out Remix of Charleston Okafor’s “Rama Rama”

Born in Ogidi, a small village in Eastern Nigeria, as the youngest of 10 sons in a traditional Igbo family, Charleston Okafor moved to the US in 1985 with the intention of becoming a doctor and enrolled as a pre-med student at Western Kentucky University — although he had long dreamt of pursuing a musical career. In fact, some of his earliest memories involved longing to be involved in the traditional church naming and death ceremonies that his mother, Christina Akuadi Okafor led as a musical director of the woman’s acapella church group. As Okafor fondly recounts in press notes “As was the case in those days, and still is with the youths in my village today, young boys like me longed for the days when we could participate in our own masquerade or nkpokiti dance groups.”

While studying at Western Kentucky University, Okafor had two experiences that altered the course of his adult life — he discovered MTV and began two, deeply influential and lifelong musical friendships with bassist Bryan House, who has worked with Robert Plant’s backing band Band of Joy, Emmylou Harris, Sam Bush and Dolly Parton and engineer Bill Bitner, the first engineer to work with Okafor. The Nigerian-born singer/songwriter’s friendships with House and Bitner helped him begin his pursuit of a musical career — and interestingly enough paved the road for Okafor to eventually collaborate with renowned producers like Ticlah, who has worked with Easy Star All-Stars, Antibalas and Amy Winehouse and DJ Spooky, both of whom have also remixed some of Okafor’s work.

Some 11 years after moving to the States, Okafar began his musical career in earnest as the frontperson and musical director of the Cleveland, OH-based collective Asante Groove, a project that featured a rotating cast of friends and collaborators that received attention locally and regionally for a sound that possessed elements of dancehall reggae and smooth jazz. He’s also received attention for his WCSB radio program African Abstract, which started in 1992 and is one of Cleveland’s longest running radio shows, as well as a staple of WCSB’s Sunday afternoon programming. Interestingly, Asante Groove along with Okafor’s current backing band Hybrid Shakedown have opened for many of the acts he’s played on his radio program including The Meditations, Chaka Demus and Pliers, Black Uhuru’s Michael Rose, Oliver Mtukudzi and others. Oh and I must add that Okafor is also a high-school math teacher, which may arguably make him both the coolest math teacher you’ve ever heard of, as well as an extremely busy man.

Adding to the Nigerian-born, Cleveland-based singer/songwriter’s unusual background and career trajectory, instead of going about the prototypical music industry route of following a release of original material with a remix album, he recently released the remix EP in advance of his second album America, an album that thematically focuses on power and oppression, love and partnership while looking at his adopted homeland with a sense of promise and hope — even in light of one of the bitterest and most divisive election cycles in recent memory.

For the remix album, Okafor turned to some old friends — Dub Trio founder Joe Tomino, who Okafar has known since the late 90s; Dubmatrix, who Okafor has long supported on his radio show and was a dear friend of Okafor’s producer Ecodek; and Ray Lugo and Kokolo Afrobeat Orchestra’s Jake Fader, who recently started their own project together Los Terrificos. The album’s first single is Dubmatrix’s skittering and subtly psychedelic yet dance-floor friendly remix of “Rama Rama.”

The recently released music video for the Dubmatrix remix manages to be both psychedelic and flirtatious — all while capturing the infectious joy that Okafor seems to spread far and wide. Lord knows, in this world, we definitely need it.