Tag: Conan

New Video: Maria Del Pilar’s Groove-Driven Call for Empathy for DREAMers

Maria Del Pilar is a Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician, whose family immigrated to the States when she was a child. After developing roots in her adoptive hometown, Del Pilar became an integral part of the city’s music scene as the frontwoman of the critically acclaimed local act, Los Abandoned. Pilar’s solo debut Songs + Canciones I was released to critical praise for Del Pilar’s ability to craft infectious pop hooks that possess a rock ‘n’ roll grit that recalled her Riot Grrl roots. Interestingly, Songs + Canciones I‘s lead single “En El Dancefloor” skyrocketed to the top of the Mexican radio charts and led to shows at Vive Latino and Mexico City’s prestigious The Zocalo.

Songs + Canciones II, the highly-anticipated follow-up to Del Pilar’s solo debut is slated for a November 2, 2018 release, and while finishing up the album, Del Pilar has managed to collaborate with a diverse array of renowned artists including Chicano Batman, Francisca Valenzuela, and Tegan & Sara; in fact, the album features collaborations with a virtual who’s who of the Los Angeles music scene, including members of Chicano Batman, No Doubt, Las Cafeteras, Fitz + The Tantrums and others. But in the meantime, the Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has also performed as a backing singer  during tUnE yArDs’ most recent appearance on Conan. Adding to a growing profile, “Se Me Hace Mas” was recently  featured on the new Starz drama Vida.

“Original Dreamer,” Songs + Canciones II’s latest single is of our current sociopolitical moment, as it was written while the Trump Administration and the Republican led house was busily repealing DACA, which struck a chord both personally and politically. After the introduction and approval of 2001’s DREAM Act, millions of undocumented minors were granted legal residency in the States along with their parents and guardians. Del Pilar’s mother and father were among the first DREAMers — but sadly, her mother died when she was 12.  The stories reminded me of what I saw my parents go through when I was a kid immigrating from Chile to the US,” Del Pilar says in press notes. “I had a chance to thank my father for these sacrifices but never got a chance to thank my mom. This song gives me that chance.”

Produced by Poolside‘s Flip Nikolic, the song features looping, psych rock-inspired guitar lines from Chicano Batman’s Carlos Arevalo — and while centered around a fiercely held belief that no one is an illegal alien, the percussive, deep groove-driven song manages to bring Fear of Music-era Talking Heads to mind; but with a bold, distinctly Latin flavor and vibe, along with some infectious hooks. Of course, at its core is a deep (and much-needed) empathy and understanding of the plight of society’s most vulnerable, reminded the listener that a great deal of Americans are descendants of those who have taken great risks and had enormous dreams.

Directed by Maria del Pilar and Guillermo Moreno, the recently released lyric video begins with a number of DREAMers telling the stories of the sacrifices and risks that their parents’ and loved ones’ took to get to the States, the big hopes and even bigger dreams they had for their children — and the deep seated sense of appreciation these DREAMers have for their parents. Photos of some of these DREAMers with their parents at various ages, ending with these young people graduating from school — and everyone is beaming with pride and hope for bright futures. The lyric video will further emphasize the song’s call for empathy (which we need more of in a deeply cynical world). 

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Maria Del Pilar is a Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician, whose family immigrated to the States when she was a child. After developing roots in her adoptive hometown, Del Pilar became an integral part of the city’s music scene as the frontwoman of the critically acclaimed local act, Los Abandoned. Pilar’s solo debut Songs + Canciones I was released to critical praise for Del Pilar’s ability to craft infectious pop hooks that possess a rock ‘n’ roll grit that recalled her Riot Grrl roots. Interestingly, Songs + Canciones I‘s lead single “En El Dancefloor” skyrocketed to the top of the Mexican radio charts and led to shows at Vive Latino and Mexico City’s prestigious The Zocalo.

Songs + Canciones II, the highly-anticipated follow-up to Del Pilar’s solo debut is slated for a November 2, 2018 release, and while finishing up the album, Del Pilar has managed to collaborate with a diverse array of renowned artists including Chicano Batman, Francisca Valenzuela, and Tegan & Sara; in fact, the album features collaborations with a virtual who’s who of the Los Angeles music scene, including members of Chicano Batman, No Doubt, Las Cafeteras, Fitz + The Tantrums and others. But in the meantime, the Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has also performed as a backing singer  during tUnE yArDs’ most recent appearance on Conan. Adding to a growing profile, “Se Me Hace Mas” was recently  featured on the new Starz drama Vida.

“Original Dreamer,” Songs + Canciones II’s latest single is of our current sociopolitical moment, as it was written while the Trump Administration and the Republican led house was busily repealing DACA, which struck a chord both personally and politically. After the introduction and approval of 2001’s DREAM Act, millions of undocumented minors were granted legal residency in the States along with their parents and guardians. Del Pilar’s mother and father were among the first DREAMers — but sadly, her mother died when she was 12.  The stories reminded me of what I saw my parents go through when I was a kid immigrating from Chile to the US,” Del Pilar says in press notes. “I had a chance to thank my father for these sacrifices but never got a chance to thank my mom. This song gives me that chance.”

Produced by Poolside‘s Flip Nikolic, the song features looping, psych rock-inspired guitar lines from Chicano Batman’s Carlos Arevalo — and while centered around a fiercely held belief that no one is an illegal alien, the percussive, deep groove-driven song manages to bring Fear of Music-era Talking Heads to mind; but with a bold, distinctly Latin flavor and vibe, along with some infectious hooks. Of course, at its core is a deep (and much-needed) empathy and understanding of the plight of society’s most vulnerable, reminded the listener that a great deal of Americans are descendants of those who have taken great risks and had enormous dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Sofi Tukker Releases Stylish and Glittering Visuals

I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed, New York-based electro pop duo Sofi Tukker over the past handful of years, and as you may recall with the release of their debut EP Soft Animals and a lengthy list of blogosphere dominating singles, including “Awoo,” a mischievous collaboration with vocalist Betta Lemme; as well as recently released singles “Energia,” “Fuck They,” international smash hit “Best Friend,” which received a Grammy nomination and was featured in an ad campaign for the iPhone X; and “Baby I’m a Queen,” which they performed on Conan. 

Building on a growing internationally recognized profile, the duo comprised of  Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern will be releasing their highly-anticipated full-length debut, Treehouse next week, and interestingly the album’s latest single “Batshit” finds Halpern taking up lead vocal duties within a swaggering house music production, which features tweeter and woofer rocking beats, blasts of disco-tinged guitar, subtle hints of tribal percussion and heavily arpeggiated synths — and while the song is a sinuous and seductive, it furthers the duo’s reputation for mischievous club bangers; but at the same time, the track finds Halpern introducing himself to the world as being absolutely out of his gourd. 

Directed by their now frequent collaborator, Mac Boucher, the recently released video for “Batshit” features Hawley-Weld and Halpern in bold, bright colors, injecting color and energy into the desolate surroundings of the desert. At one point, Hawley-Weld wields a hatchet and chases Halpern, who’s wearing multi-colored (and very large) platform shoes through the desert; at other points, Hawley-Weld sports a red sequined jumpsuit while playing the song’s funky guitar riff. Interestingly, the video not only further emphasizes the song’s mischievous vibe — while being incredibly stylish and shimmering. 

Live Footage: Royal Blood Performing “I Only Lie When I Love You” on “Conan”

Comprised of Worthing, UK-born, West Sussex, UK-based Mike Kerr (vocals, bass) and Rustington, UK-born, West Sussex, UK-based Ben Thatcher (drums), the British rock duo Royal Blood first met when the duo were briefly members of a local rock band, Flavour Country, in which Keer played keys and keytar; however, their collaboration together can officially traced back to a sabbatical Kerr spent in Australia, where he had started Royal Blood with Matt Swan on drums. And as the story goes, when Kerr eventually returned to his native England, his former bandmate Thatcher had picked up from the airport, and they immediately decided that they should start a band together. According to Kerr, the British iteration of Royal blood initially had a difficult time landing gigs and they wound up playing a lot of open-mic nights with acoustic singer/songwriters. 

After further developing their sound at Brighton Electric Studios, the band was signed to Warner/Chappell Music and the same management company that managed blogosphere darlings Arctic Monkeys, the duo began to receive a steady amount of buzz before the release of their first official single. Now, as you may recall, the duo released their sophomore effort How Did We Get So Dark? earlier this year to critical praise from USA Today, Rolling Stone, NME, Entertainment Weekly, and Forbes. Unsurprisingly, the album has also been a commercial success — it debuted at #1 on the UK Charts, as well as garnered over 30 million streams across Spotify and Apple Music and has sold over 250,000 copies. Adding to a breakthrough year for the British duo, they played at this year’s Outside Lands Festival and are finishing up a string of opening dates for Queens of the Stone Age throughout 2017 and 2018. (You can check out those remaining dates below.)
You may also recall that the swaggering, power chord-based arena rock friendly, album single “Lights Out”  reached #1 on the Rock Radio Charts as the #1 Gainer, marking the second time the band has reached #1 in their relatively young careers together. The duo were recently on Conan where they played the bluesy and scuzzy, power chord-based, ZZ Top-like “I Only Lie When I Love You,” which will further cement their reputation for crafting bombastic arena rock. 

New Video: The Dark and Sultry Visuals for K. Flay’s Anthemic “Blood in the Cut”

Born Kristine Meredith Flaherty, the Wilmette, IL-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter K. Flay emerged into the national and international scene with 2014’s Life as a Dog, an album that peaked on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart at #2 and Billboard’s Rap Albums chart at #14. She then signed with Interscope Records last year, as the first artist signed to Dan Reynolds’ Night Street Records, who released her latest effort,  the Grammy nominated album Every Where Is Some Where — receiving nods for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical with album single “Blood in the Cut” was nominated for Best Rock Song. Adding to a growing profile, Flaherty has made national televised appearances on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, TBS’ Conan, and has received praise from The New York Times and Pitchfork for material that features socio-political commentary and detailed lyrics, while reportedly being one of the most deliberate and dynamic effort to date, an effort that manages to capture the anxieties and uncertainties of today’s world. 

As for the Grammy nominated “Blood in the Cut,” the song has been a smash hit as it has amassed over 250,000 track equivalent units in the US according to Nielsen Music, spending more than 6 months on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, peaking at #4, and was certified Gold in Canada, reaching #1 on the Canadian Alternative charts. And when you heard the song, you’ll see why it’s been an attention grabbing, smash hit: the incredibly self-assured song features Flaherty’s sultry cooing over a sleek production featuring bluesy guitar chords, propulsive drumming, swirling electronics and an anthemic hook reminiscent of Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill, The Black Keys, Garbage and others, essentially balancing a careful tightrope between the blues, electronic rock and arena rock. 

New Video: In The Valley Below Releases the Surreal Yet Symbolic Visuals for Rousingly Anthemic, New Single “Bloodhands (Oh My Fever)”

With the release of their full-length debut The Belt, which spawned the viral hit single “Peaches,” In The Valley Below,  the husband and wife duo Angela Gail and Jeffrey Jacob first received international attention — including “Peaches” debut on BBC Radio 1, as well as commercial success in Germany and France, with the song topping the French Alternative Charts. A year or so after the release of The Belt, Gail and Jacob received national attention with “Peaches” becoming a staple of American alternative radio, which lead to appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and Conan. Adding to a growing profile, the duo went on a relentless touring schedule across both the European Union and the US that included sets at Reading Festival, Leeds Festival, Austin City Limits, Rock En Seine and others, which has resulted in a growing international fan base that has been clamoring for new material from the duo. Considering that the duo effortlessly meshes elements of art rock, synth pop, the blues, arena rock and more in a way that’s reminiscent of JOVM mainstays Smoke Season, it shouldn’t be surprising that Gail and Jacob have seen such rapid critical and commercial success.

The husband and wife duo’s latest EP, Elephant was released last month, and the effort was recorded in the basement studio of the 93-year old home the couple purchased upon relocating from Los Angeles to Grand Rapids, MI. Interestingly enough, the EP reportedly consists of some of the duo’s most personal, ambitious and politically-charged material they’ve written do date; in fact, Elephant’s first single “Bloodhands (Oh My Fever)” was inspired by the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO and its immediate aftermath. “All the uprising happening in Ferguson was powerful,” the duo explain. “Sad, angry and feeling helpless, we sang about it. It’s our way of keeping the issue alive. Racism is real, we don’t know how to stop it, but we can make people think about it.” And while being a rousingly, anthemic and ambitious song — a song that feels and sounds both arena rock and radio friendly — its an earnest plea to the listener that there’s much work to be done to make our a world a fairer place, where all lives, whether Black, Asian, Latino, First Nation, Trans, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Gender Nonconforming, etc. will actually matter. The song’s coda, which features a local gospel choir led by Debra L. Perry, adds to the song’s enormous sound, while adding a deeper emotional wallop to the proceedings. 

Directed by the band’s Angela Gail and Chris Johnson, the recently released visuals for “Bloodhands (Oh My Fever)” possess a nightmarish, fever dream-like quality that symbolically touches upon race, sexuality, religion while reminding the viewer that ultimately our fates and the fate of the world as we know it will lie solely in the hands of our children. 

Live Footage: Chicano Batman Perform “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm)” on Conan

Comprised of Eduardo Arenas (bass, vocals), Carlos Arévalo (guitar), Bardo Martinez (vocals, organ, guitar) and Gabriel Villa (drums, percussion), the Los Angeles, CA-based quartet Chicano Batman have developed a reputation for specializing in a sound that draws from Brazilian tropicalia, psychedelia and classic soul — and for a growing national profile, as they’ve opened for Jack White, Alabama Shakes, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Gogol Bordello and others. Adding to that, the band has played at several of the country’s biggest music festivals, including Coachella and Bonnaroo among others.

Interestingly, the band’s latest album Freedom Is Free finds the band leaning heavily towards a classic soul and classic R&B-leaning sound. And in order to achieve that goal, the band enlisted the assistance of Leon Michels, who is best known for specializing in that classic soul sound with his work with El Michels Affair, The Arcs, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, The Black Keys and The Menahan Street Band. Additionally, Michels has had his work sampled in songs by Jay-Z and Ghostface Killah.

“Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm)” is the latest single off Freedom Is Free and as you’ll hear the song draws from slow-burning, classic soul and R&B while nodding at the sound of The Who Sings My Generation and A Quick One-era The Who and The Kinks — but if they added an organist and a handful of backing vocalist. And as a result, the song consists of a soulful, old-school, shuffling two step and a deceptively simple nature, as the song lyrically and thematically speaks of the complex and complicated nature of friendship. Throughout the song, the narrator openly recognizes that while human relationships are absolutely pleasurable and necessary if they forge a deep understanding and companionship; but they can also be frequently fraught with misunderstanding, bitterness, heartache and betrayal.

Recently, the members of Chicano Batman made their national television debut with an appearance on Conan, where they played a loose and fiery version of “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm) off their latest full-length effort.

Live Footage: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard Perform a Wild, Psych Rock Freakout on Conan

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Melbourne, Australia-based psych rock sextet King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard. Comprised of Stu Mackenzie (vocals, guitar, and flute), Ambrose Kenny Smith (synths, harmonica), Cook Craig (guitar), Joey Walker (guitar), Lucas Skinner (bass), Eric Moore (drums) and Michael Cavanagh (drums), the Australian psych rock sextet have developed a reputation for incredibly energetic live shows and for being incredibly prolific, as they’ve released 10 full-length, studio albums since 2012 — and with each album, the band has revealed themselves to have a relentlessly experimental song and songwriting approach; in fact, their earliest releases blended elements of 60s surf rock, garage rock and psych rock and their later work featuring elements of film scores, prog rock, folk, soul, Krautrock, heavy metal and proto-metal.

Released earlier this year, the band’s tenth studio album Flying Microtonal Banana found the band delving deeper into trance-inducing done, non-Western musical scales and metronomic rhythms — and in fact, the sound on that album is so profoundly unique and evolved, that it required the members of the band to reinvent their own instruments after they began experimenting with a custom microtonal guitar, made for the band’s frontman Stu Mackenzie. As the band mentioned in press notes on Flying Microtonal Banana they found particular inspiration from the movable frets of a Turkish instrument, the bağlama, a classical lute — and three guitars and a bass were customized for the band to explore wildly different scales and a new set of musical notes not normally heard in Western music. They then customized a keyboard and a mouth organ. Additionally, the material on the album finds the and incorporating the use of a Turkish horn called a zurna, which looks a bit like a clarinet but because it’s a double-reeded instrument, the possess a wobbly sound that Mackenzie says “blends perfectly with the secret notes on the guitar.”

Album single “Rattlesnake” paired a chugging, motorik-like groove and anthemic, chant-worthy hook; but while clearly drawing from prog rock, Krautrock, psych rock, heavy psych, stoner rock and even space rock, the song finds the band putting a familiar Western sound into a decidedly Eastern context — and as a result, it’s not only a wild, mind-altering spin on something familiar and seemingly done to death and then some, while possessing a familiar acid-tinged yet alien, otherworldly sound.

Unsurprisingly, the Melbourne-based psych rockers will follow up on one of the trippiest and more unique sounding albums I’ve heard this year with Murder Of The Universe, a concept album meant to end all concept albums, as the material thematically concerns itself with the downfall of man and the death of the planet — and it evokes the greater sense of fear that we’re foolishly inching closer to our own destruction. As the band’s Stu Mackenzie explains “We’re living in dystopian times that are pretty scary and it’s hard not to reflect that in our music. It’s almost unavoidable. Some scientists predict that the downfall of humanity is just as likely to come at the hands of Artificial Intelligence, as it is war or viruses or climate change. But these are fascinating times too. Human beings are visual creatures – vision is our primary instinct, and this is very much a visual, descriptive, bleak record. While the tone is definitely apocalyptic, it is not necessarily purely a mirror of the current state of humanity. It’s about new non-linear narratives.”

Structurally, Murder of the Universe’s tracks are separated into three chapters and the album’s first single “Chapter 3: Han-Tyumi and the Murder of the Universe” is an epic, 13 minute, shape-shifting, face-melting prog rock song that evokes Biblical visions of the apocalypse — enormous mushroom clouds, pools of fire and blood, death and unceasing war, poverty and misery, featuring a cyborg, who desperately longs to be alive, to simply be.

The Melbourne, Australia-based psych rock band was recently on Conan to perform “Lord of Lightning” is a trippy track that meshes 60s heavy psych rock and prog rock, featuring some blistering guitar work — and it manages to feel like a wild, hallucinogenic freak out while maintaining their reputation to be defiantly, joyously difficult to pigeonhole.