Tag: covers

Memory Keepers is the Austin, TX-based electro-punk side project of The Sour Notes‘ Jared Boulanger and Amarah Ulghani.  The duo’s latest single is a propulsive, synth and vocoder-led cover of Brian Eno‘s “Uncle Third” that retains the original’s motorik groove — and in many ways, the original feels like pre-Autobahn-era Kraftwerk while the Memory Keepers cover feels like The Man-Machine

 

 

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Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the acclaimed Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer Charlotte Day Wilson. And as you may recall, Wilson’s musical career started in earnest with a stint as the frontwoman of the equally acclaimed jazz, funk and soul act The Wayo; but with the release of her debut single “After All,” the Canadian singer/songwriter, producer and guitarist quickly emerged as an up-and-coming solo talent within her hometown’s scene, eventually beginning ongoing collaborations with BADBADNOTGOOD and River Tiber.

2016’s CDW featured critically acclaimed singles “Work” “Find You,” and the aforementioned “After All,” and unsurprisingly, the album found Wilson further establishing herself as an artist, who crafted deeply personal songs with an wisdom, insight and honesty that betrayed her relatives youth — paired with sleek, minimalist, electronic production. Interestingly, this past year may arguably be one of biggest years of her career: Stone Woman, Wilson’s sophomore effort is a decided and self-assured change in sonic direction in which Wilson paired her effortlessly soulful vocals with neo-soul, soul and jazz-leaning production in which organic arrangements are meshed with subtle electronic production.  Since its releasee earlier this year, Stone Woman has amassed over 30 million streams across all screaming platforms. Wilson was nominated for a Polaris Music Prize — and the video for “Work” was awarded a Prism Prize for best Canadian music video. Wilson and the video’s directed Fantavious Frtiz used the prize money to create the Work Film Grant, a fund that awarded $10,000 to emerging female and non-binary directors. 

Additionally, Wilson toured with longtime collaborators BADBADNOTGOOD, which included an incredible BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell stop back in August. The acclaimed Canadian artist  ends a big 2018 with two Spotify singles recorded at Toronto’s HOB Studios– “Doubt,” the first single off Stone Woman is a slow-burning and soulful ballad featuring a production that recalls BilalErykah Badu and others; but more important, the song is centered around a heartbreaking emotional honesty in which, the song’s narrator expresses a deep, crippling uncertainty over her own worthiness. The Spotify singles version possesses a “you-were-there-in-the-room” immediacy that gives the song’s an emotional punch. 

The second track is Wilson’s cover Dolly Parton‘s “Here You Come Again” centered around a sparse arrangement featuring the Canadian singer/songwriter, producer and guitarist’s soulful vocals, shimmering guitars, twinkling keys — and although Wilson’s version is a slow-burning and atmospheric take, the track maintains the song’s ache, reminding contemporary listeners of what an under appreciated songwriter Parton is. 

 

 

 

Now, over the past handful of years of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Canadian post-punk act and JOVM mainstays Preoccupations. And as you may recall, the band which is comprised of Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar) initially formed under the name Viet Cong — and by the time their 2014 self-titled full-length debut was released, the members of the band found themselves in the middle of a firestorm centered around cultural appropriation and the usage of terms, names and symbols associated with historical groups and actions that evoke the horrors of war, despotism, authoritarianism, fascism, genocide and the like. Ultimately, the band decided to change their name before the release of their sophomore album — and to re-issue their self titled debut with another name.

Released earlier this year through  Jagjaguwar Records, Preoccpuations’ third album New Material further cements the bands growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post-punk that touches upon themes of anxiety, uncertainty, creation, destruction and futility while being “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred,” the band’s Matt Flegel said in press notes. Much like their sophomore album, the band met without having much written or demoed beforehand — and according to the members of the band, it was arguably one of the most collaborative writing sessions they ever had as a band, with the sessions being extremely architectural in nature, with some ideas (proverbially speaking) being built up while others were torn down to the support beams.

Initially they didn’t know what the songs were about or where they were going with them, they had resolved to let the material show and not explicitly not tell; however, the writing and recording sessions reportedly led to a reckoning for the band’s Flegel. “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized. I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong,” says Flegel. In fact, the murky and angular  Manchester/Joy Division-like first single “Espionage,” while being among the most danceable songs they’ve written and released, focuses on a narrator, who has finally become aware of a disturbing penchant for self-sabotage in every aspect of his life. “Antidote,” New Material‘s second single was centered around propulsive, industrial clang and clatter meant to convey a sweaty anxiety; however, the song is actually about how humans forget that they’re walking, talking, shitting animals — animals that have an infinite amount of knowledge within their fingertips but still manage to repeatedly make the worst possibly choices. “Disarray,” the album’s third single was meditative and slow-burning single featuring shimmering guitar chords, an angular and propulsive bass line, organic drumming and boom bap-like drum machine work during the song’s bridge. And while superficially nodding at Turn On the Bright Lights-era Interpol, the song captures something much darker and uncertain — as it was centered around someone, who from their perspective, views everything they’ve ever known to be a lie. The album’s fourth single “Decompose” was an angular and propulsive track that featured twinkling synths, buzzing power chords and an eerie sense of melodicism that underlies the song’s danceable vibe.

The JOVM mainstays will close out a busy 2018 with a co-headlining tour with long-time friends Protomartyr that will include a November 28, 2018 stop at Warsaw — and you can check out the rest of the tour dates below. And to celebrate the announcement of the tour, the bands have released a split 7 inch in which each band covers the other. The split 7 inch’s latest track is Preoccupations subtle reworking of Protomartyr‘s “Pontiac 87,” that features a slightly sped up tempo and a lush, studio sheen.

Tour Dates:
Fri. Nov. 23 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace *
Sat. Nov. 24 – Ottawa, ON @ 27 Club *
Mon. Nov. 26 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
Wed. Nov. 28 – Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw *
Thu. Nov. 29 – Washington, DC @ Union Stage *
Fri. Nov. 30 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Foundry *
Sat. Dec. 01 – Columbus, OH @ The Basement *
Mon. Dec. 03 – Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place *
Tue. Dec. 04 – Ann Arbor, MI @ Blind Pig *
Thu. Dec. 06 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall *
Fri. Dec. 07 – Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room *
Sat. Dec. 08 – Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar *
Mon. Dec. 10 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird *
Wed. Dec. 12 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall *
Thu. Dec. 13 – Boise, ID @ Olympic *
Fri. Dec. 14 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios *
Sat. Dec. 15 – Vancouver, BC @ Venue *
Sun. Dec. 16 – Seattle, WA @ Crocodile *
Tue. Dec. 18 – San Francisco, CA @ Independent *
Wed. Dec. 19 – Los Angeles, CA @ Regent *
* w/ Protomartyr

New Audio: Acclaimed Indie Act Lucius Release a Hauntingly Gorgeous Rendition of a Christmastime Classic for Charity

Richard Swift was a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist (best known as a guitarist) producer, and owner of National Freedom Studio, who was largely considered a musician’s musician as he quietly built up an acclaimed career as a member of The Shins, The Black Keys and The Arcs; Swift also developed a reputation as a go-to collaborator and producer, who worked with Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats, The Pretenders, Kevin Morby, Sharon Van Etten, Valerie June, Damien Jurado, David Bazan, Foxygen, Jessie Baylin, Lonnie Holley, The Mynabirds, Wake Owl, Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, Gardens & Villa, Cayucas, Guster, Lucius and others. He was also a solo artist, who had released seven full-length albums through Secretly Canadian Records during his life — with his posthumously released eighth album The Hex being released earlier this year. 

Back in June, Pitchfork reported that Swift had been hospitalized in Tacoma, WA, recovering from a then-undisclosed life threatening condition and that a GoFundMe had been set up to help cover his medical expenses. Sadly, this isn’t surprising as musicians work as independent contractors, who have to pay the bills you need to get by, pay for studio time, and pay for medical expenses and insurance out of pocket.  If you’re a struggling working musician, you make the bulk of your living from touring or from being a session musician — and if you’re too sick to tour or get to the studio, it makes things increasingly difficult. A few weeks later, Swift died and about a week after his death, his family released a statement confirming that he had suffered from alcohol addition throughout his life, and that his death was ultimately caused by complications from hepatitis, as well as liver and kidney distress. 

Understandably for those within the larger music community, who worked with him, Swift’s death was devastating. As Luicus’ Jess Wolfe recalls in press notes, “We were on tour in Europe when we lost Richard. We didn’t get to say goodbye face to face. We didn’t get to go to the memorial service. I didn’t get a chance to hear his voice. I only talked to him while he slept, hoping somehow, in his dreams, he was hearing us. We sang to him. We sang to him and it was the worst and best gift we’d ever received. Somehow, pouring out something for someone who has done so much for your musical life, is the only way to cope. This loss really messed us up, as I know it did all of us in the musical community, and we felt the need, the urgency, to make sure to do something about that.” 

What initially started off as a small way that the members of the acclaimed Los Angeles-based act Lucius could personally and actively bring awareness to the impact of drug and alcohol addiction within the music community has grown into a much larger concept that they’ve dubbed THE FUG YEP SOUNDATION. Derived from a phrase that Swift coined, the idea is a 7″ record series with each release featuring 2 songs by many of Swift’s closest friends and collaborators. All artist proceeds and profits from the 7″ record series will give financial aid to the Swift family, as well as MusiCares, the charitable wing of the Recording Academy, who had Swift with many of his medical bills — and Music Support UK, who do similar work for British musicians. 

“Richard would have probably hated this attention,” Wolfe continued. “But we all wanted to do more for him, we all wanted to be a part of a better way, to be helpful. I think we can all agree, the best way we can do this moving forward is awareness. What a gift that we’re able to offer what we love in honor of those we love. What better way to feature his art, and his imprint on all of us, then to share it with you.” Pure Bathing Culture’s Sarah Versprille adds “Each over features Swift’s original artwork. He was a prolific and persistent visual artist. He made work all the time and his studio was just as much a place for creating visual art as it was for making music. Shealynn (Richard’s wife) has helped us curate a collection of his pieces for each cover of this series that provide a window into this side of his genius, humor and creativity.”

The first release of the series is slated for a December 7, 2018 release through Mom + Pop Music and will feature two singles written and recorded by Lucius at Swift’s National Freedom Studios last April — the A-side “Christmas Time Is Here” and the B-side “Keep Me Hanging On.” The A-side single is a atmospheric rendition of “Christmas Time Is Here” that sounds as though it could have been released sometime between 1956 – 1965 as it pairs a lush arrangement of shimmering keys, reverb-heavy guitars and gently padded drumming paired with Wolfe and Laessig’s stunningly gorgeous harmonizing. While being a holiday staple, the Lucius version possess a weary heartache — the sort that comes with the passing of time and the gnawing reminders that loved ones aren’t around to celebrate another holiday, and the passing of another year. 

Now, over the past 12-18 months or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the up-and-coming, attention-grabbing Halifax, UK-based act The Orielles. The act which features founding members  Sidonie B. Hand-Halford (drums); her younger sister,  Esmé Dee Hand-Halford (bass, vocals); and their best friend, Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar, vocals) had a great deal of buzz surrounding them in their native UK when Heavenly Recordings‘ head Jeff Barrett signed the band after catching them open for labelmates The Parrots in late 2016 and immediately signed them to the renowned indie label.

Last year saw the members of The Orielles releasing a series of attention-grabbing singles, including The Mallard‘s Finding Meaning in Deference-like “Sugar Taste Like Salt,” the psych rock-like “I Only Bought It For The Bottle,” and the funky, almost dance floor friendly freakout of “Let Your Dogtooth Grow.” Building upon a growing national and international profile, the band released their highly-anticipated full-length debut Silver Dollar Moment earlier this year, and from the likes of album single “Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist),” the album found the band continuing in a similar vein as it immediate predecessor as it found the band mischievously meshing elements of psych rock, pop and disco — in particular, as the band notes, Luther Davis Group’s “You Can Be A Star” and Rita Lee’s “Chega Mais,” while centered around an anecdote of someone spotting an unaccompanied blue suitcase on a train platform. Naturally, this was followed by allegorical discussions and theories about what was in the suitcase and why it was left behind.

Interestingly, since the release of Silver Dollar Moment the band’s founding trio recruited their newest member Alex Stephens on keyboards and with their newest member, they went into the studio to record two new tracks “Bobbi’s Second World” and a cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane)” — and both songs finds the band’s sounding leaning increasingly in the direction of dance floor-friendly New Wave, recalling early 80s Talking Heads, ESG and others while still being centered around rock-based instrumentation. With their releases, the members of The Orielles have revealed themselves to be restlessly expanding, playing with and experimenting with their sound and as a result, I’m excited to see which direction they wind up going next.

As the band writes in press notes, “‘Bobbi’s Second World’ written with the addition of a new member on keys, exhibits an explosion of new sounds and ideas that came to fruition after a long summer of playing festivals and taking inspiration from music that made us dance. It centres around the story of a cat named Bobbi who, in order to become a lady, has to experience the extremities of two complex and differing realities- situated in her front and back gardens respectively. The eccentric instrumentation, influenced by northern soul, post-punk and funk music, matches the quirkiness of the lyrics to create a song that concerns a young cats maturity whilst displaying a certain maturity in the music itself. After noticing a passion for songs that make us emotional; want to dance and quite literally ‘forget’, we decided to cover one of Peggy Gou‘s latest floor fillers, ‘Itgehane aka It Makes You Forget’ hoping that we could evoke the aforementioned qualities of music within other listeners!”

New Audio: Tame Impala and Theophilus London Team Up on Two Synth Funk Bangers

Led by singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and creative mastermind Kevin Parker, the Melbourne, Australia-based psych pop act Tame Impala received international attention with the release of their first two albums, 2011’s Innerspeaker and 2012’s Lonerism. Interestingly, 2015’s Currents was centered around some of the most emotionally direct material he had written to date while expanding upon the sound that first caught attention with the material sonically drawing from synth pop, prog rock, R&B and psych pop to create a nuanced, textured and difficult to pigeonhole sound. 

Theophilus London is a Trinidad and Tobago-born, Brooklyn-based emcee, singer/songwriter and producer, who first emerged into the national and international scene with his 2011 debut EP Lovers Holiday, which found the Brooklyn-based emcee/singer/songwriter and producer collaborating with TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, Tegan and Sara’s Sara Quin, Glasser and Solange Knowles and his full-length debut 2011’s Timez are Weird These Days. Both of those early efforts quickly established London’s crowd-pleasing, genre-mashing sound and approach, which draws from soul, pop, post-punk, electro-pop, electro R&B, hip-hop and R&B — and that shouldn’t be surprising as London has publicly cited Michael Jackson, Prince, Kraftwerk and The Smiths as influences on his work.  2013’s sophomore effort VIBES found London collaborating with Jesse Boykins III and Kanye West, who was the album’s executive producer — and from album single “Tribe,” the album’s material further cemented London’s reputation for club-banging, synth pop-influenced hip-hop. 

So in some way, it shouldn’t be surprising that both genre-defying artists have collaborated together in a project informally dubbed Theo Impala, which has already released two singles — the first single, the swaggering “Whiplash” is a thorough and seamless amalgamation of their sound and approach, as it features London spitting fiery bars over layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and Parker’s ethereal backing vocals singing a sugary pop-meets-soul melody. In some way, the song recalls 80s hip-hop, 80s synth soul, Crime Cutz-era Holy Ghost! and Dam-Funk among others. The second track is a cover Steve Monite’s Nigerian boogie hit “Only You” and while their cover is somewhat straightforward, it manages to possess a contemporary production sheen that gives the song a retro-futuristic thump. 

 

Matthew Messore, is an Orlando, FL-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist — and as the story goes, after spending a period of time traveling across the country, Messore returned to his hometown to work on music, with his solo, bedroom recording project Cathedral Bells. So far, the project’s material thematically focuses on the disquiet and isolation that comes after leaving your hometown for a while and finding yourself returning to the life you thought you left. Interestingly enough Messore’s latest single is a cover of Teen Beams’ “Cemetery Surf,” that manages to retains the lo-fi, home recorded vibes and ethereal melodies of the original, while pushing the tempo up to an almost dance floor friendly level with an emphasis on jangling guitars — and while being a subtle yet unique take on the original, it reveals the song’s infectious hooks.

 

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Now, over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about Copenhagen, Denmark-based electro pop duo and JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, and the act, which features Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Caspar Hesselager can trace its origins to Coleman and Hesselager’s mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work in a number of different projects — and naturally, the duo were encouraged to collaborate together. 2015 saw the release of their debut single, but 2016 the duo saw critical praise from The Guardian, NME, The Line of Best Fit, and airplay from KCRWKEXPNorway’s P3, Denmark’s P6, as well as by BBC Radio personalities Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft with the release of the Medication EP and their full-length debut Waiting for the World to Turn.  Adding to a growing international profile, Coleman and Hesselager have a Hype Machine #1 single under their belts, have opened for Noel Gallagher, and have made appearances across the European festival circuit, including sets at Guy Garvey’s curated Meltdown FestivalRoskilde FestivalGreen Man FestivalSziget FestivalLatitude Festival and Secret Garden Party among others.

Nowadays, the Australian-Danish duo’s sophomore album was released earlier this year and from album singles “Empire,”  “Come Back (Left Behind),” “Baltimore,” and “Take Shelter,” their sophomore album reveals an act that has managed to expand upon their sound and songwriting approach in a subtle yet decided fashion as the material is centered around Coleman and Hasselager’s penchant for pairing at times breezy, melodic and downright radio friendly pop with dark and sobering thematic concerns — with Nowadays, their material focuses on the inevitable loss of innocence as one truly becomes an adult; the recognition of the fear, freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their life and destiny; the tough and sometimes embittering life lessons that get thrown in your way; as well as the inconsolable grief and confusion of loss. Interestingly, the Australian-Danish duo’s latest single “Acting Like Lovers” may arguably be one of the upbeat songs on the album as its centered by a production that manages to be simultaneously cinematic and intimate as it features strummed acoustic guitar, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a motorik-like groove and their uncanny ability to craft breezy, 70s AM rock-like melodies. The song hints at a sense of closure — but with the subtle recognition that in life there is no such thing as closure, that life inevitably shoves you forward while you make every attempt to pick up the pieces and have some semblance of normalcy.

The single features two covers — the duo’s breezy, Junip-like take on Elliott Smith’s “Christian Brothers,” that feels like a subtle departure from the original, and one of my favorite songs by The Cars, “Drive,'” which manages to maintain the song’s moody and contemplative air. As the duo’s Caspar Hesselager explains, Elliott is someone who has influenced both me and Carl profoundly, and for me personally (growing up mostly with classical music and jazz) he became the guy that got me into listening to songwriters. We’ve often jammed his songs in the studio for fun and our cover of his song ‘Christian Brothers’ has been a favourite encore of ours on many shows. It’s from his second album ‘Elliott Smith’ which along with the debut album is him at his most lo-fi and raw. It’s almost ‘anti-produced’ but as always you can’t keep those songs from burning right through all of that.” The duo’s Carl Coleman elaborates on their cover of The Cars’ “Drive,” “This was a song that always followed me around growing up in the 80s and 90s. I’m a sucker for sad pop songs. I’ve just always been attracted to melancholy stuff and this song has it all. All that drama and mystery plus a beautiful simple melody. Hell, we couldn’t help but have a crack at it.”

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Boys Noize Teams Up With Steven A. Clark on an Industrial Take on Adamski and Seal’s Classic “Killer”

Throughout the course of this site’s eight year history, I’ve written quite a bit about Berlin, Germany-based JOVM mainstay producer, electronic music artist, DJ and Boys Noize Records label head Alex Ridha, best known as Boys Noize. Now it’s been a while since I’ve personally written about Ridha, but he’s been remarkably busy as he’s released 2016’s Mayday and has spent the past couple of years collaborating with a diverse and impressive array of artists including Lady Gaga, 03 Greedo, A$AP Rocky, RL Grime and Steven A. Clark.

Interestingly enough, while working with Clark on his recently released Where Neon Goes to Die, Clark and Ridha bonded over a mutual love and appreciation of Seal and Adamski’s “Killer,” an acid house anthem that dominated European charts in 1989, appeared on Seal’s eponymous 1990 self-titled debut and covered by George Michael in 1993. Clark’s and Ridha’s cover hews closely to the original but with a punchier and harsher, industrial take on the house music classic. It’s subtly 

As Ridha says of the cover, “Being a 90’s kid, I kind of grew up with this song which later became one of these tunes I’d play out at the end of the night. When I met Steven and heard his voice for the first time I immediately thought of that track and the idea of doing a cover version was born. It was initially just for fun, but it turned banging and lit the dancefloors wherever I’d drop it – so here I am sharing my industrial KILLER.”

Directed by long-time collaborator LIL INTERNET, the recently released video is a remake of the original video, shot at Berlin’s c-base, known for being “the mother of all hackspaces,” with the bulk of the video shot in a space referred to the “airlock,” with the members of the c-space crew referring to themselves as a Space Station.