Tag: Communion

Musings: A Decade of JOVM

I started this site 10 years ago today. . .

There aren’t many things in my life that I’ve done for every single day for a decade that I’ve loved as much as this very unique little corner of the blogosphere. When I started this site, I  didn’t — and couldn’t — imagine actually having readers, let alone readers across the US, Canada, the UK, the European Union, Australia and elsewhere. After all, this sort of work is deeply rewarding and yet strangely isolating.

I couldn’t have imagined the over 1,000 shows I’ve covered all across the New York Metropolitan area. I definitely couldn’t have imagined it being possible for be to cover shows for JOVM in Chicago while on a business trip for a day job; nor would I have dreamed of the possibility of covering M for Montreal last fall.

I couldn’t have imagined being a panelist on a Mondo.NYC Festival panel on PR and promotion for indie artists.

I couldn’t have imagined having a cameo in a JOVM mainstay’s video several years ago. (It’s a noticeable and prominent spot towards the end of the video, too. No one has called me up for acting gigs, so I may need more work on that. Or I need to stick to the writing and photography!)

I couldn’t have imagined photographing Patti LaBelle, Snoop Dogg, Charles Bradley  Sharon Jones, Nile Rodgers, Roky Erickson, Philip Bailey and so many others, as well as this site’s countless mainstays.

What will the next decade hold? I don’t know. If you asked me that question last November, I’d probably discuss my the very real possibility of repeated visits to Canada for festivals like Canadian Music Week, Montreal Jazz Fest and M for Montreal — with the hopes of building a deeper Canadian audience. I’d talk about my interest in music from across the African Diaspora. I’d spend time talking about my interest in covering acts outside the US. I’d also speak about my interest in wanting to cover more artists across the diverse LGQBTIA+ community  — particularly those of color. I’d probably also mention my deep and abiding interest in covering women artists and women led acts.

Live music won’t be a thing for quite some time to come. And whenever it does, the landscape will be different — and something we’ve yet to envision. So far, beloved venues have been forced to close because of economics. That will continue for the foreseeable future. What will happen to bands, who no longer have a place to play, where they can hone their sound and their live show? Who knows? After watching an industry-based panel, I don’t feel particularly optimistic about things in the short term. Some of us will figure out a way to adapt and survive; others sadly, won’t.

But in the meantime, JOVM will continue. It’s only the first decade, as far as I’m concerned!

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I also wanted to talk a bit about some of my favorite albums of the past decade. This is by no means a comprehensive list; but I think that they might give some insight into the inner world of JOVM. And

Montreal-based DJ, production and electronic music artist duo The Beat Escape — Addy Weitzman and Patrick A. Boivin — can trace the project’s origins back to a short film they collaborated on when they were both in college. “We made a short oddball work; a video piece that followed two characters through a psychedelic waking dream,” the Montreal-based said of their initial collaboration together in press notes. Interestingly, since that collaboration, Weitzman and Boivin have continued working together on a series of creative endeavors that have combined their interests in music and visual art, including a lengthy local DJ gig, which eventually led to the creation of The Beat Escape.

Released in early 2018, the Montreal-based duo’s full-length debut Life Is Short The Answer’s Long thematically and sonically found the duo returning to their origins — somnambulant, atmospheric art that feels like a half-remembered waking dream. Personally, the album’s material evokes a weird two-and-year period of international and domestic travel, in which I’d wake up in a hotel room and briefly wonder where I was, what time zone I was in and if I was even in the right place. Additionally, it evokes that weird sensation of everything being the fundamentally the same, yet different. If I’m in Grand Central Terminal, I think of Frankfurt-am-Main Hauptbahnhof and of Amsterdam Centraal Station. If I’m traveling underneath an elevated train, I’m reminded of the Chicago loop and so on.

I obsessively played Life Is Short The Answer’s Short through my time in Montreal. And now whenever I play it, I can picture specific locations, specific paths I took to get there, certain Metro stations with an uncanny precision.

Throughout the course of the site’s decade history, I’ve written quite a bit about Superhuman Happiness. The act has managed to survive through a number of different lineup changes and sonic departures necessitated by those lineup changes — and from the act’s core members following wherever their muses took them, Hands though is a joyous, mischievous yet deeply intelligent work that will make you shout and dance. Considering the bleakness of our world, this album may be much more needed than they ever anticipated.

Deriving their name from a Vladimir Nabokov short story about a traveler, who finds a place so beautiful that he wants to spend his life then but who cruelly  gets dragged back to brutal reality, the Dublin, Ireland-based act Cloud Castle Lake — currently Daniel McAuley (vocals, synths), Brendan William Jenkinson (guitar, piano), Rory O’Connor (bass), Brendan Doherty (drums), and a rotating cast of collaborators, friends and associates — received attention with 2014’s self-released debut EP Dandelion, an effort that firmly established the act’s uniquely sound: deeply influenced by and indebted to  Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders, the Irish act pairs McAuley’s tender and soaring falsetto with cinematic arrangements and expansive song structur es.

Released in 2018, the act’s Rob Kirwan-produced debut Malingerer is an ambitious, challenging and breathtakingly beautiful work that’s part film score and part cosmic meditation, full of aching yearning.

A couple of years ago, I caught the Irish act play at Rockwood Music Hall, as part of the Lower East Side venue’s monthly Communion showcase — and their set was met with awed and reverential silence.

Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan — Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar) — have one of the most unique and perhaps most 21st Century backstories of any band I’ve ever written about: four of the band’s five members emigrated to Sweden from South America with the remaining member being the band’s only native Swede. With the release of their debut album, 2015’s Caballo Negro, the members of Sudakistan received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for crafting material that draws from Latin-tinged garage punk rock with lyrics sung in English, Spanish and Swedish. Interestingly, the alum is arguably hardest and most mosh pit friendly of the band’s albums to date, the album’s material found the band expanding their sound through the incorporation of non-traditional punk rock instruments — seemingly inspired by the band’s desire to make each of their individual roles to be much more fluid. . “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” the band’s Michell Serrano explains in press notes. . “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”

Additionally, the album’s lyrical and thematic concerns draws from the band members’ everyday reality with each individual member contributing lyrical ideas. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.

The album’s material resonates in an age of divisiveness, xenophobia, fear mongering and strife because its an urgent and passionate reminder of what’s possible with cultural exchange, empathy and curiosity —  bold new ideas, new takes on the familiar, as well as equality for all with everyone’s story behind heard, understood and championed. One day that will happen but we will have to work our asses off to get there.

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New Video: Behind-the-Scenes with S.G. Goodman for “Old-Time Feeling”

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, I’ve managed to write a quite a bit about the rapidly rising Murray, KY-born and based singer/songwriter, S.G. Goodman. Born and raised near the Mississippi to a strict, church-going family of row crop farmers, Goodman went from singing and playing in church three times a week to becoming a prominent member of Murray’s DIY arts and music scene, as well as an impassioned voice and presence in the political and social movements she supports.

Initially slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Verve Forecast Records, Goodman’s im James-produced full-length debut Old Time Feeling has been rescheduled for a July 17, 2020 release as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Recorded at Louisville, KY-based La La Land Studio. which was specifically chosen by Goodman because it possessed her three favorite things — “a creek, a big porch and a kitchen” — the sessions were imbued with a familial and communal touch: Goodman cooked meals for the studio crew and her backing band, which includes lifelong friends Matthew David Rowan (guitar) and S. Knox Montgomery (drums).

Reportedly, the album’s material is a brutally honest, complex and deeply loving look at rural Southern life that debunks rural stereotypes while drawing from her own experiences as a gay woman and artist in a rural and deeply religious Southern community. Interestingly, the album also touches up on living with OCD, estrangement, reconciliation and loving your family and community although you might disagree with them on political and social issues.

Earlier this year, (which seems like a lifetime ago), I caught Goodman play her first New York Metropolitan area show at Communion at Rockwood Music Hall, and the set found Goodman and her band crafting a sound that meshed elements of old-school country, folk, Delta Blues and rockabilly centered around Goodman’s aching Kentuckian twang. Now, as you may recall I’ve written about the album’s two previously released singles. The slow-burning, country blues-like “The Way I Talk,” a brutally honest look at the plight and concerns of the rural farming community she has spent her life in. Much like every aspect of our daily lives, big business and their interests have acted in concert with politicians to exploit and destroy the lives, well-being and environment of everything and everyone within their path. And as a result, the song seethes with anger and defiant pride. The album’s second single was the sparse and atmospheric “Red Bird Morning,” a haunting song song that evokes tear-streaked and lonely drives across unending blacktop, torturing yourself by replaying the messiness of your life from 126 different angles. 

Old Time Feeling’s third and latest single, album title track “Old Time Feeling” is the album’s most rollicking and freewheeling track, as it draws from influences like rockabilly, early rock ‘n’ roll and Sun Records-era country. And while centered around an an anachronistic sound, the song seethes with the modern day frustration and desperation of the working (and barely getting by) poor. But it also subtly points out that we all live in a system that’s insane and sick — and has caused unnecessary hurt and poverty, just to keep a handful of people stay rich.    

Directed by Brandon Boyd, the recently released video for “Old Time Feeling” continues Goodman’s ongoing visual collaboration with the director. Featuring intimate, behind-the-scene footage of Goodman, her band, Jim James and the rest of the studio crew during the Old Time Feeling sessions, the video is an intimate look into the creative process — while reminding us that traditional recording and creation will be at a standstill until we can get a handle on COVID-19.                                                  

New Video: S.G. Goodman Releases a Brooding and Forlorn Visual for Haunting and Sparse “Red Bird Morning”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the rising Murray, KY-born and based singer/songwriter, S.G. Goodman. Born and raised in a strict, church-going family of row crop farmers, near the Mississippi River, Goodman went from singing and playing in church three times a week to becoming a prominent member of Murray’s DIY arts and music scene, as well as an impassioned voice and presence in the political and social movements she supports.

Slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Verve Forecast Records, Goodman’s Jim James-produced full-length debut Old Time Feeling was recorded at Feeling is slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Verve Forecast Records. Recorded at Louisville, KY-based La La Land Studio. which was specifically chosen by Goodman because it possessed her three favorite things — “a creek, a big porch and a kitchen.” The sessions were imbued with a familial and communal touch: Goodman cooked meals for the studio crew and her backing band, which includes lifelong friends Matthew David Rowan (guitar) and S. Knox Montgomery (drums). 

Reportedly, the album’s material is a brutally honest, loving and complex look at rural Southern life that debunks rural stereotypes while drawing from her own experiences as a gay woman and artist in a rural and deeply religious Southern community. Interestingly, the album also touches up on living with OCD, estrangement, reconciliation and loving your family and community although you might disagree with them on political and social issues. Now, as you may recall, I caught the rising Kentuckian play her first New York Metropolitan area set at Communion at Rockwood Music Hall, and the set revealed that album finds Goodman and her backing band crafting a sound that meshes elements of old-school country, folk, Delta blues and rockabilly paired with Goodman’s aching Patsy Cline-like vocals.

“The Way I Talk,” Old Time Feeling’s slow-burning, country-tinged blues-like first single subtly nodded at “Coal Miner’s Daughter” — in the sense that it’s a brutally honest look at the plight and concerns of the rural farming community she grew up in. Much like every aspect of our flies, big business interests have acted in concert with politicians to exploit and destroy the lives and well-being of everyone within their path, leaving the poor to fight the poor for limited resources and options. And as a result, the song seethes with anger and defiant pride. Centered around a sparse arrangement of strummed guitar, atmospheric electric guitar and Goodman’s aching vocals, “Red Bird Morning,” Old Time Feeling’s second and latest single is a haunting and forlorn song, full of regret, loneliness and of heartbreak fueled departures. The song evokes tear-streaked drives, endless blacktop and hours of your own thoughts, replaying everything that’s just happened from 126 different directions. 

Inspired by Goodman’s experience of volunteering at the Standing Rock protests, the song tells the story of her journey to the camp and the failed relationship she was leaving behind. “At a time when I was going through the wrong turns my failed relationship had taken, my mind was brought back to the roads that led me to Cannon Ball, North Dakota,” Goodman explains in press notes. “Through the imagery of that voyage, I was able to capture the feeling of a different forlorn journey. The Standing Rock Protest was a prayer protest, and upon arriving at the camp, my job was to help thaw out wood for the sacred fire. I remember being prayed over, and praying in my own way for the first time in years. The experience was transformative not only by joining others in a valid cause, but in what it sparked in my personal spiritual life.” 

The recently released video for “Red Bird Morning” was shot on an iPhone by Goodman and her friend Tim Johns, after the original shoot was canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Filmed a few days before stay at home orders were issued, the black and white video is shot in black and white and includes footage of bleak and empty landscapes, and in and around Goodman’s Kentucky home. And employ an interesting use of light and darkness, the video emphasizes the stark loneliness and aching regret at the core of the song. 

“It’s funny how the universe can have a heavy hand in making what was meant to be, happen,” Goodman says of the video. “In the same way the track itself, which is actually a demo, is bare and to the point, piecing together footage that fit the soundscape of the song became just another exercise of ‘less is often what is called for.’”                                                       

New Video: S.G. Goodman’s Intimate and Cinematic Look at Southern Rural Life

S.G. Goodman is a rising Murray, KY-born and based singer/songwriter. Born and raised in a strict, church-going family of row crop farmers, near the Mississippi River, Goodman went from singing and playing in church three times a week to becoming a prominent member of Murray’s DIY arts and music scene, as well as an impassioned voice and presence in the political and social movements she supports.

Her forthcoming Jim James-produced full-length debut Old Time Feeling is slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Verve Forecast Records. Recorded at Louisville, KY-based La La Land Studio. which was specifically chosen by Goodman because it possessed her three favorite things — “a creek, a big porch and a kitchen,” the Old Time Feeling sessions were imbued with a familial and community touch: the Murray-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist cooked meals for the studio crew and her backing band, which includes her lifelong friends Matthew David Rowan (guitar) and S. Knox Montgomery (drums). The album is reportedly a brutally honest, complex and loving look at rural Southern life that debunks rural stereotypes while while thematically drawing from her own personal experiences as a gay woman in a rural and deeply religious Southern community and touches upon living with OCD, estrangement, reconciliation and loving your family and community although you might disagree with them on political and social issues. And from her Rockwood Music Hall, Communion set last month, the album’s material is a slick and seamless synthesis of old-school country, Delta blues and rockabilly centered around Goodman’s aching Patsy Cline-like vocals.

Old Time Feeling’s first single “The Way I Talk” is a slow-burning and sultry country-tinged blues centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars, explosive peals of feedback, dramatic and forceful drumming and Goodman’s plaintive, Western Kentucky drawl. Much like “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which “The Way I Talk” subtly references, the song is brutally honest look at the plight of the rural working class — in particular, the rural farming community she grew up: indeed, much like every other aspect of our lives, big business in concert with politicians have managed to exploit and destroy the lives and well-being of everything within their path, leaving the poor to fight the poor for limited resources and options. And while, the song is seethes with anger, there’s also defiant pride — in the fruits of hard and honest labor, of owning a piece of land and being able to pass it down to family, and so on.

“The song is inspired by the plight of the farming community in Kentucky where I grew up, where big business and the laws that protect them have vast control over my community,” Goodman told The Fader. “It is a scary thing calling into question the very thing that put food on my table and is putting food on my niece’s table (she plays the little girl in the video). Isn’t that the case for every person working a factory line who is afraid to unionize? Or a fast food employee afraid to take sick leave to care for her kid? We are all expected to be thankful, not question, and shut our mouths.”

Directed by Brandon Boyd, the recently released video for “The Way I Talk” is a cinematic and intimate look at rural Southern life that follows Goodman and her family through a day in their lives: while they tend to the little ones, there’s a sense that the adults recognize that their way of life is rapidly becoming unsustainable and will disappear, no matter how hard they fight.

Comprised of brothers Martin (vocals, guitar) and Mads Rehof (bass), along with high school friends Jacob van Deurs Formann (guitar) and Frederik Lind Köppen (drums), the Copenhagen, Denmark-based quartet Communions can trace their origins to when the Rehof Brothers returned to their native Copenhagen after spending several years in Seattle. The Danish quartet initially received attention across the blogosphere, including the site where they’ve become mainstays, for crafting shimmering and plaintive guitar pop songs that sonically owed a debt to The Smiths; however, instead of the material possessing Morrissey’s bitterly ironic lyrics, the Danish quartet’s material possesses a swooning Romanticism — the sort evoke the urgency of first love.

The Copenhagen-based quartet’s much-anticipated full-length debut Blue is slated for a February 3, 2017 release through renowned indie label, Fat Possum Records and from the album’s latest single “It’s Like Air” reveals a band whose songwriting and sound has evolved, while retaining many of the elements that first won the band attention across the blogosphere as the band pairs the swaggering, enormous power chord and anthemic hook sound of 90s Brit Pop — i.e., The Verve, Blur, Oasis and others — with swooning and urgently Romantic lyrics. And although the song will further cement their reputation for writing material that evokes the fervent passions and confusion of youth, the heart and soul of the song, as well as the entire album is about the fact that both life and love are ultimately about taking a leap of faith, even when you may be scared out of your mind about the end result.