Tag: David Bowie

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Joe Wong Teams Up With Fred Armisen on a Lyrical and Trippy Visual for “Nite Creatures”

Throughout the course of this past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the rising Milwaukee-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer, Joe Wong. Wong has had a lengthy career as a drummer — but he has made a name for himself for his scores for a number of acclaimed TV series, including Master of None, Russian Doll, Ugly Delicious, Awkafina is Nora from Queens, and others — and for being the host of The Trap Set podcast.

Earlier this year Wong released his Mary Lattimore-produced full-length debut, Nite Creatures, and so far I’ve written about four of the album’s previously released singles — including: the Man Who Sold The World-era David Bowie-like “Dreams Wash Away,” the Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles-like “Nuclear Rainbow,” the Scott Walker-like “Minor,” and “Day After Day,” a sobering exploration of free will versus fate that doesn’t have easy answers. Continuing an incredible run of stunningly lush yet brooding material, the album’s latest single, album title track “Nite Creatures” is a slow-burning and deliberately crafted track focuses on existential dread with a rapturous and swooning psychedelia. If Wong wasn’t a contemporary artist, you might mistakenly think that “Nite Creatures” was released sometime between 1966-1970.

Directed by Fred Armisen, the recently released video follows a brooding Wong as he enters a vaguely Eastern-styled house. As he wanders through the house, we see some deeply kaleidoscopic and psychedelic effects happen to him and to his surroundings, suggesting that Wong was going through a deeply spiritual awakening of some sort. Much like the song itself, it’s a slow-burning and gorgeously shot fever dream — but with something dark and murky on the fringes.

Interestingly, the collaboration between the duo can trace some of its origins back to the 1990s: Armisen was the dummer for Trenchmouth and Wong was a high-school kid in a math rock band named after an extremely obscure Dune reference. Wong wound up reconnecting with Armisen in 2013: Wong was drumming for Marine Stern. A few years later, Armisen asked Wong to help produce his first comedy special Standup For Drummers.

“It was inspiring to witness how he’d evolved from the drummer I met over twenty years ago to the singular talent he is today,” Wong says. “When I decided to make a video for ‘Nite Creatures,’ I thought Fred would be the ideal person to direct. Because of his sense of narrative rhythm (we’re both drummers, after all), surrealist aesthetic, and ability to make creative decisions on the fly, he proved himself the perfect director, indeed.”

“I love Joe’s album,” Armisen adds, “so when he asked me to work on the video, I was like, ‘YES!’ The song is so sonically rich, I think it makes dreamy videos in everyone’s mind. I just wanted to try to match that feeling.”

With the release of Out in the Dark, the Israeli-born, Paris-based psych rock singer/songwriter and producer MAGON quickly established a unique sound, which he has described as urban rock on psychedelics. Over the course of this past year, I wrote about two of the album’s released singles — the incredibly self-aware and introspective,  The Strokes-like “My Reflection” and the David Bowie and T. Rex-like “Same House.

The Israeli-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter and producer’s latest single “Change” is the first bit of new material since the release of Out in the Dark, and the track is a shimmering and lo-fi bit of psych pop with a subtle nod at glam rock — with the song being centered around shimmering strummed guitar, narcotic drumming, MAGON’s droll, ironically detached vocals and trippy reverb and other fluttering percussion. But at its core, the song is a dreamy meditation on the passing of time, inspired by a year, which saw a number of sea changes in his personal life.

New Video: Haiku Hands Release a Defiantly Campy and Fierce Visual for “Fashion Model Art”

Last year saw Aussie electro pop act Haiku Hands — Claire Nakazawa, Beatrice Lewis and Mie Nakazawa — embarking on their first ever Stateside tour, which included a series of critically applauded, attention-grabbing sets at SXSW, opening slots for the likes of Japanese punk act CHAI, JOVM mainstays Tame Impala and Sofi Tukker, Chicago-based emcee CupcaKke and footwork producer DJ Taye.

Building upon a rapidly growing national and intentional profile, the Aussie trio’s highly-anticipated, self-titled full-length debut is slated for a September 10, 2020 release through Mad Decent. Recorded primarily in Melbourne with Joel Ma (a.k.a. Joelistics), the Aussie electro pop trio’s self-titled debut further cements the act’s reputation for being rebellious, experimental and wildly unconventional. While featuring collaborations with Sofi Tukker, Mad Zach, Machine Drum, Mirac, Hermitude‘s Elgusto and Lewis CanCut, the album thematically probes technology, relationships and the absurd — with incisive social commentary. “The record explores an attitude of empowerment, humour and positivity whilst also delving into darker themes and expressions,” the members of Haiku Hands explain. “We aimed to be original in our creative choices, we were influenced by multiple genres and artists but were aiming to create something that sounded new and different.” 

“Fashion Model Art,” the self-titled album’s latest single features a collaboration with Sofi Tukker. Centered around twinkling keys, stuttering beats and handclaps, layers of shimmering synths,  and chanted, non-sequiturs, “Fashion Model Art” is a euphoric and  decidedly 80s inspired house music banger that sounds like a brash and mischievous take on Madonna’s “Vogue” and David Bowie‘s “Fashion.”

“The chorus of ‘Fashion Model Art’ was created on the train coming home from the Sydney Biennale,” the Aussie electro pop act explain in press notes. “It was the moment we swapped from being our composed observant art critiques to our boisterous playful selves. We ended up having half the carriage chanting fashion fashion, model model, art art art art on the train.

“This song celebrates the fashion model art character within ourselves. We revel in the hilarious, tense, fun, ridiculous and utmost seriousness of these moments.

Sofi Tukker jumped on this song after we toured with them for a month in the US.

We ask ourselves, what should we do with our hands?”

“We met Haiku Hands on tour in Australia,” Sofi Tukker says in press notes. “After seeing them literally once live, we immediately asked them to go on tour with us. We’ve been good friends ever since. It was so fun working on this track with them. We love how they build in humor and choreography into their music. ”

Directed by Jasmin Tarasin, the recently released video for “Fashion, Model, Art” is a slick synthesis of high fashion, art and of course, fashion models in a way that’s fiercely and defiantly campy, mischievous, pro womxn and pro queer. “Haiku Hands are in fact a wonderful collide of Fashion, Model, Art in the very best way,” Jasmin Tarasin says. “It was so inspiring to be able to play and create with these women in collaboration with our combined creative community . I enjoyed the process so much and feel that the fun and beauty we found is seen on screen. We had the very best time.”

New Audio: Johnny Franco Releases a Classic Rock-Inspired Single

Johnny Franco is a Sao Paulo-born, Portland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist  who has developed a cult following in his adopted hometown for high-energy street performances and stylish music. Building upon a growing reputation, Franco caught the attention of Sterling Fox, a producer who signed the emerging singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist  to his label, Blanket Fort Records. 

Franco’s debut EP, the four track Experience Report #1, which featured debut single “Treated Like Glass” was released earlier this year. And since the release of Experience Report #1, the Brazilian-born, Portland-based artist has been busy: he recently released the “Stay Real”/”Shelter The Light” double single — and “Stay Real” is a decidedly classic rock-inspired track centered around shimmering and shuffling  guitars, a sinuous bass line and an infectious hook. And while bringing Springsteen, Bowie and Prince to mind, the song not only reveals a deliberate attention to craft, it possesses a simple yet profound message to stay positive during this uncertain, historical moment. 

Benedict · Warzone

Benedict is a rising Aussie singer/songwriter producer and multi-instrumentalist, who can trace the origins of her music career to growing up in a highly musical home: Benedict’s mother was a gifted singer/songwriter and musician, and as a child, the rising Aussie artist spent the bulk of childhood pursuing the mastery of multiple instruments. She started writing songs when she was five — and as she got older, she started to listening to Joan Baez, David Bowie, Janis Joplin, and Queen, all of which wound up heavily influencing her own songwriting and vocal stylings.

After spending many years writing, recording and performing with a number of different musical projects, as well as work behind the scenes, producing and collaborating with other artists, the rising Aussie singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist took time out in 2016, sequestering herself in a cabin in the woods, writing and then developing and honing a new sound — one that’s  seemingly inspired by Kate Bush and Prince. Additionally, the rising Aussie artist spent several years working as a prison guard, and drawing from her own personal experiences — especially seeing people in her community suffer at the hands of a system that doesn’t offer actual rehabilitation, her work thematically touches upon heartbreak, love and social justice. With this newfound purpose, Benedict strives to fight for those within her community, acting as a voice for those who are voiceless.

During her period of isolation, the rising Aussie artist wrote and produced over 50 songs including her debut single last year’s “Oh Fool,” which was released to praise from TONEDEAF, with the online magazine naming the track one of their 10 favorite releases of the year. Benedict’s latest single, the Dean Tuza produced “Warzone” pairs the Aussie artist’s ethereal and achingly plaintive vocals with a minimalist production centered around atmospheric electronics, stuttering beats, finger snaps and industrial clang and clatter.

And while sonically recalling both Kate Bush and Bjork, the track thematically is uplifting and touches upon the different relationships people have over time — from relationships with romantic partners, friendships and family with religion and even ourselves. And with each of those relationships, they can quickly turn from positive to negative and vice versa as you learn the paradigms within each of those relationships. In some cases, while you trust and love deeply, you may only receive narcissism, abuse and gaslighting.

“‘Warzone’ shares a story of the deepest of suffering through the worst experiences. But, when you feel you cannot go on and you are drowning in torment, there will ALWAYS be a light at the end of the tunnel,” Benedict says. “There will always be an end to the suffering. All you need to do is look at yourself, love yourself, and see your true worth. As your life is worth something and important. When you can see that even in the hard times, you will be ok. My warzone has been many different relationships with partners, friendships, family, religion, government, my childhood. I have been on my knees through many things I thought would break me, but I’m still standing!”

Blinker the Star · Cairo

Over the past handful of months, I’ve written quite a bit about Jordon Zadorozny, the Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind acclaimed indie rock recording project Blinker The Star. Now, as you may recall, Zadorozny initially started the project as a solo recording project that quickly expanded into a full-fledged band for their first two albums 1995’s self-titled debut and 1996’s A Bourgeois Kitten, which were released through A&M Records. And during those first few years, Zadorozny and company built up a national profile through steady touring.

Back in 1997, Zadorozny relocated from Montreal to Los Angeles, where he worked with Courtney Love, helping craft songs for Hole’s acclaimed and commercially successful album Celebrity Skin. While in Los Angeles, Zadorozny began soaking up new influences and became increasingly fascinated with production. Signing with Dreamworks in 1999, the band, which at the time featured Zadorozny, Failure’s Kelli Scott (drums), longtime bassist Pete Frolander and a rotating cast of Southern California-based session musicians recorded and released their critically applauded third album August Everywhere, which they supported with touring across North America with Our Lady Peace, Sloan, Failure and The Flaming Lips. 

Returning back to Pembroke in 2002, Zadorozny built his first commercial recording studio and began working with Sam Roberts, contributing drums and producing Roberts’ breakthrough debut EP The Inhuman Condition. Zadorozny also worked on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Chris Cornell, Lindsey Buckingham and others. During the Winter of 2003, Zadorozny wrote and recorded Blinker The Star’s fourth album Still In Rome as a duo with Kelli Scott. Following a brief tour to support the album, the Pembroke, Ontario-born multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter quickly settled into the production side of the things working with an electric array of artists, including collaborative projects like Digital Noise Academy, SheLoom,  The Angry Moon, and others.

2012’s fourth album, We Draw Lines was the first Blinker The Star album that Zadorozny wrote and recorded as a solo recording project since he started the project over a decade earlier.  And interestingly enough, We Draw Lines began a rather prolific period that included 2013’s Songs from Laniakea Beach, a one-off single “Future Fires,” 2015’s 11235 EP, 2017’s 8 of Hearts and last year’s Careful With Your Magic.

After completing a short run of shows last fall, Zadorozny began working working on new material at his Skylark Park Studio. The solitude of his environment helped inform his forthcoming Blinker The Star album Juvenile Universe, which is slated for release this summer. So far I’ve written about three of the album’s singles: the Station to Station-era David Bowie-like “Way Off Wave,” the jangling, 70s rock-like “Only To Run Wild,” and the 80s New Wave-like “Silent Types.” Juvenile Universe‘s fourth and latest single is the, anthemic  “Cairo.” Centered around jangling power chords, an enormous hook and a shimmering string arrangement and droning “Cairo” continues an incredible run of deliberate crafted yet ambitious material — but while arguably being the most psych leaning song of the Blinker the Star catalog.

Much like the rest of Juvenile Universe‘s material, the basic tracks were completed alone at Skylark Studio before they were sent to string arranger Chris Church. “I asked Chris if he’d ever heard any Egyptian orchestral music, like the kind you might hear in the back of a cab in Montreal at 4am. Quite virtuosic stuff. I was floored with what he came up with,” Zadorozny says in press notes. “‘Also present on the track via home studios are Bob Wilcox and The Posies‘ Ken Stringfellow on backing vocals, SheLoom bandmate Filippo Gaetani on Melotron, and Jarek Leskiewizc contributing ambient done guitar.

New Audio: Haiku Hands Team Up with JOVM Mainstays Sofi Tukker on a Club Banger

Last year saw  Aussie electro pop act Haiku Hands — Claire Nakazawa, Beatrice Lewis and Mie Nakazawa — embarking on their first ever Stateside tour, which included a series of critically applauded, attention-grabbing sets at SXSW, opening slots for the likes of Japanese punk act CHAI, JOVM mainstays Tame Impala and Sofi Tukker, Chicago-based emcee CupcaKke and footwork producer DJ Taye. 

Building upon aa rapidly growing national and intentional profile, the Aussie trio’s highly-anticipated, self-titled full-length debut is slated for a September 10, 2020 release through Mad Decent. Recorded primarily in Melbourne with Joel Ma (a.k.a. Joelistics), the Aussie electro pop trio’s self-titled debut further cements the act’s reputation for being rebellious, experimental and wildly unconventional. While featuring collaborations with Sofi Tukker, Mad Zach, Machine Drum, Mirac, Hermitude’s Elgusto and Lewis CanCut, the album thematically probes technology, relationships and the absurd — with incisive social commentary. “The record explores an attitude of empowerment, humour and positivity whilst also delving into darker themes and expressions,” the members of Haiku Hands explain. “We aimed to be original in our creative choices, we were influenced by multiple genres and artists but were aiming to create something that sounded new and different.” 

“Fashion Model Art,” the self-titled album’s latest single features a collaboration with Sofi Tukker. Centered around twinkling keys, stuttering beats and handclaps, layers of shimmering synths,  and chanted, non-sequiturs, “Fashion Model Art” is a euphoric and  decidedly 80s inspired house music banger that sounds like a brash and mischievous take on Madonna’s “Vogue” and David Bowie’s “Fashion.” 

“The chorus of ‘Fashion Model Art’ was created on the train coming home from the Sydney Biennale,” the Aussie electro pop act explain in press notes. “It was the moment we swapped from being our composed observant art critiques to our boisterous playful selves. We ended up having half the carriage chanting fashion fashion, model model, art art art art on the train.

“This song celebrates the fashion model art character within ourselves. We revel in the hilarious, tense, fun, ridiculous and utmost seriousness of these moments.

 Sofi Tukker jumped on this song after we toured with them for a month in the US.

 We ask ourselves, what should we do with our hands?”

“We met Haiku Hands on tour in Australia,” Sofi Tukker says in press notes. “After seeing them literally once live, we immediately asked them to go on tour with us. We’ve been good friends ever since. It was so fun working on this track with them. We love how they build in humor and choreography into their music. ”

New Audio: Joe Wong Releases a Lush Meditation on Free Will

Joe Wong is a Milwaukee-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer, who has created the scores for acclaimed TV series like Master of None, Russian Doll, Ugly Delicious, Awkafina is Nora from Queens, and others — and is the host of The Trap Set podcast.

Over the past few months Wong has released material off his Mary Lattimore-produced full-length debut, Nite Creatures, including the album’s three previously released singles: the Man Who Sold The World-era David Bowie-like “Dreams Wash Away,” the Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles-like “Nuclear Rainbow,” and the Scott Walker-like “Minor.” Continuing to build buzz for his full-length debut’s September 18, 2020 release through Decca Records, Nite Creatures’ fourth and latest single “Day After Day” further cements the Milwaukee-born, Los Angeles-based artist’s 60s psych-inspired sound — lush string and horn arrangements paired with shimmering guitars, enormous hooks and Wong’s mellifluous baritone. And while there’s a deliberate attention to craft that gives the material an anachronistic feel, the material is bolstered by earnest lyricism. In this case, “Day After Day,” is a sobering exploration of free will. 

“The lyric came to me after I read an article arguing that traumatic memories can be encoded in DNA and passed down from generation to generation,” Wong says. “Whether or not that’s true, I wanted to explore the notion that many of our personality traits and life choices that we attribute to free will may, in fact, be beyond our control. This track features an English Horn solo by Claire Brazeau (LA Chamber Orchestra), partly as homage to my ‘labelmate’ and hero Marianne Faithfull, who famously used oboe on her hit ‘As Tears Go By.’”

New Video: Video Age Releases a Playful Visual for Shimmering and Upbeat Anthem “Aerostar”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the New Orleans-based act Video Age, and with the release of their first two albums 2016’s full-length debut Living Alone and 2018’s sophomore album Pop Therapy, the band — founding members Ross Farbe and Ray Micarelli, along with Nick Corson and Duncan Troast — received attention for crafting hook-driven material with a decidedly 80s synth pop-inspired sound.

Following the release of Pop Therapy, the band’s songwriting partners and co-founders Farbe and Micarelli were eager to write new material and continue upon the momentum they had just started to build up. The band convened at Farbe’s home studio to work on the band’s highly anticipated third album, Pleasure Line, which is slated for an August 7, 2020 release through Winspear, who recently signed the band.

Inspired by a vast range of influences including Janet Jackson, David Bowie and Paul McCartney, Pleasure Line finds the band crafting neon-bright 80s pop-like melodies to create an optimistic sound — with the material taking on a rosy hue.  “I’m often trying to create a more idealized version of the world I’m in,” Video Age’s Ross Farbe says in press notes. “In fact, some of that optimism may come as a result of both Farbe and Micarelli getting married this year — just a few weeks apart from each other. “We’re feeling the love,” Farbe says.

Written as a salve that protects against cynicism. the album’s material is meant to help the listener see and feel a world full of romantic potential. But the album isn’t centered around one-dimensional puppy love — it’s the sort of fulfilling love that’s complicated, confusing and never easy; but ultimately worth it. So far, I’ve written about two of the album’s singles — the dance floor friendly,  Tom Tom Club-like “Shadow On The Wall” and the slow-burning, Quiet Storm meets Prince-like “Pleasure Line.” 

Pleasure Line’s third and latest single “Aerostar” is a decidedly upbeat New Wave-inspired, bop centered around shimmering and squiggling synth arpeggios, propulsive four-on-the-floor, a sinuous bass line, angular guitar blasts and an infectious, dance floor friendly hook. Sonically, the track may remind some listeners of The Cars, Talking Heads, and others — but with playful references to cars and hitting the road with your buddies, playing tunes. “This song looks at the bright side of being on the road. We did a lot of touring for the last album and it’s something that really brought us closer together as a band,” the members of Video Age say in press notes. 

Directed by Zack Shorrosh, the recently released video follows the band and their adventures in their ’95 Ford Aerostar, shot in front of a green screen: we see the members of the band and the van as they travel throughout various locations, including the Grand Canyon, the desert and even space — and naturally, the video looks and feels as though it could have been released in 1985. “Once we found a green screen studio big enough to fit our ’95 Ford Aerostar, we hopped in and let the story unfold,” the band says.