JOVM’s William Ruben Helms celebrates David Byrne’s 71st birthday.
JOVM’s William Ruben Helms celebrates David Byrne’s 70th birthday.
JOVM celebrates David Byrne’s 69th birthday.
Initially starting her professional career as a member of The Polyphonic Spree and as a touring member of Sufjan Stevens’ touring band, the Tulsa-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark stepped out into the limelight as a solo artist and frontperson with her acclaimed project St. Vincent. Since the release of 2007’s full-length debut Marry Me, Clark’s work has continued to grow in stature and complexity with her self-titled fourth album winning a 2014 Grammy for Best Alternative Album, making her only the second female artist to ever win in that category.
Along with her work as a solo artist, Clark has collaborated with the legendary David Byrne on 2012’s Love This Giant, performed with the living members of Nirvana at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and da 2019 Grammy Awards duet with Dua Lipa.
Clark collaborated with co-producer Jack Antonoff on 2017’s critically applauded, smash hit album MASSEDUCATION, an album that landed on both the US and UK Top 10 Charts while landing at #1 of the Best of 2017 list of The New York Times and The Guardian — and placing high on the Best of 2017 lists of The AV Club, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, Mashable, New York Daily News, NME, Paste, Pitchfork, Q, Stereogum, USA Today and a length list of others. 2018’s MassEducation found Clark collaborating with pianist Thomas Bartlett: Recorded over two nights in August 2017, the effort found Clark stripping back MASSEDUCATION’s material to its bare bones, revealing the vulnerable and earnest songwriting at their core.
MASSEDUCATION’s title track won a Grammy for Best Rock Song with the album winning another Grammy for Best Recording Package in 2019. As she was celebrating an enviable run of critical and commercial success, Clark’s father was released from prison. Clark began writing a new batch of materials which would become her soon-to-be released seventh album, Daddy’s Home. Daddy’s Home thematically closes the loop the loop on a journey that began with her father’s incarceration back in 2019 — and it ultimately led her back to the vinyl records her dad had introduced her when she was child — the gritty and sleazy rock records written and recorded in New York between 1971-1975.
Interestingly, Daddy’s Home’s latest single, “Down” is centered around a groove that’s simultaneously sultry and anxious with the track evoking images of the legendarily sleazy New York: in this case, a coke and booze fueled bender that starts at the local bar, features a stop at CBGB’s or Max’s Kansas City to see Blondie or Ramones before heading off to Studio 54. Warhol is somewhere in this picture, right? Now, while some critics have compared the album’s overall aesthetic and sound to Young Americans-era Bowie and Prince, “Down” to my ears reminds me more of Station to Station and Lodger-era Bowie. It’s far more anxious and murkier with a bit of menace seeping through.
Co-directed by Clark and Bill Benz, the recently released video features Clark in Candy Darling-like regalia through an anxious chase that’s one part French Connection and one part drug-fueled, paranoid fever dream. It fits the song’s careening and glitchy groove perfectly.
Throughout the course of this site’s 10-plus year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Buenos Aires-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actress and JOVM mainstay Juana Molina. Molina, who is the daughter of acclaimed of tango vocalist Horacio Molina and beloved actress Chunchuna Villafane, has led a rather interesting couple of lives. Much of her music career can be traced back to growing up in a intensely musical home: when she was five, her father taught her guitar and her mother introduced a young Molina to the family’s extensive record collection.
After the military coup of 1976, Molina’s family fled Argentina and lived in exile in Paris for several years. During her time in France, Molina’s musical tastes were vastly expanded by regularly listening to a number of French radio stations known for programs that spun music from all over the globe. Her family returned to Argentina, when she was in her early 20s. Much like countless young women across the globe, Molina was determined to be financially independent. Her initial aspirations were to earn some decent money for a few hours of work a day,. while allowing her enough time to write songs, record them and even play live shows.
Molina had a talent for imitations and impressions and while looking for a gig, she auditioned for a local TV program. She impressed the casting director with her talent, and she got hired on the spot. The Buenos Aires-born and-based JOVM mainstay quickly became one of Argentina’s most popular comedic actors. Within a few years of that early addiction, Molina starred in her own smash-hit show, Juana y sus hermanas, a Carol Burnett-like variety show, in which she created a number of beloved characters. (The show was so successful that it was syndicated across the region.) When Molina was pregnant, her show was on hiatus and with a lot of free time on her hands, she found herself reflecting on her life and her rapid rise to stardom. Despite the success she attained, Molina had the nagging thought that she really wasn’t doing what she really wanted to do. So she quit acting and started to focus on music.
Her decision to quit her successful and wildly popular show was one that many Argentines bitterly held against her for a number of years. True story here: her full-length debut 1996’s Rara was critically panned by a number of journalists, who openly resented her career change. Initially fans of Juana y sus hermanas would show up to her gigs, expecting her to pay homage to the show but they couldn’t quite understand her new “folk singer character” that sung very strange songs without obvious jokes. Feeling dejected and misunderstood by the criticism and demands on her, but still wanting to continue with music, Molina relocated to Los Angeles. Not only was her work much better received, while in L.A., she began experimenting and familiarizing herself with electronics and electronic sounds. 2002’s Tres Cosas was the Argentine artist’s international breakthrough: the album was championed by David Byrne, Will Oldham, and others and landed on The New York Times‘ Top Ten Records list.
2017’s Halo continued Molina’s long-held reputation for restless experimentation — and for being one of South America’s most innovative and uncompromising artists. But interestingly enough, last year’s Forfun EP was an exuberant and decided sonic change in direction, inspired by desperate necessity: the JOVM mainstay and her backing band were forced to play a set at a major festival without most of their electronic gear — because their airline lost their luggage. The EP’s material is centered around a wild, punk rock-like ethos and spirit.
Much like countless artists around the world, Molina was actually in the middle of a tour, playing festival dates when the pandemic stopped everything in its tracks. Interestingly enough, one of Molina’s last tour dates was festival set at Mexico’s NRML Festival. That set, which featured rearranged and re-imagined renditions of material off Halo, Wed 21, Un día and Forfun EP was recorded — and will be released as a live album ANRML, which Crammed Discs will put out on October 23, 2020.
Obviously, the live album will serve as a powerful reminder of what life was before the pandemic — but there’s also the hope of what will come out on the other side. We must continue to have hope that we’ll be able to enjoy each other like we once were; that we’ll be able to go to concerts to sing, dance, sweat and escape our worlds for a little bit; that we’ll have the bliss and freedom of strobe light and dance floors; of welcoming smiles from locals when you’re a stranger in a strange land; of new love and of so much more. We must continue to have hope that on the other side of this, we’ll make a better world for all of us.
The live album’s first single is a kicking and stomping version of one of my favorite Juana Molina songs “Eras.” And from the live recording, you can envision yourself dancing and howling with joy with a bunch of newfound friends. There are few things in our morally bankrupt world as transcendent as seeing someone’s face light up when their favorite artist in the entire universe plays their favorite song. I miss that in ways that I can’t even begin to describe. One day, I hope. One day.
Throughout the site’s almost ten year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of ink covering the Buenos Aires-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actress and JOVM mainstay Juana Molina. Her father was renowned tango vocalist Horacio Molina and her mother was beloved actress Chunchuna Villafane, and as a child, Molina grew up in a intensely musical home: when she was five, her father taught her guitar and her mother introduced a young Molina to the family’s extensive record collection.
After the military coup of 1976, Molina’s family fled Argentina and lived in exile in Paris for several years — and during her time in France, Molina’s musical tastes were vastly expanded by regularly listening to a number of French radio stations known for programs that spun music from all over the globe. When she was in her early 20s, her family returned to Argentina. Naturally, as a young woman, Molina was determined to be independent and pursue a musical career — and like many young people, her initial aspirations were to earn some decent money for a few hours of work a day while having enough time to write songs, record them and play live shows. The Buenos Aires-based JOVM mainstay had a talent for imitations and impressions and while looking for a gig, she auditioned for a local TV program. Based on the strength of her impressions and imitations, she got hired on the spot.
Molina quickly became one of her country’s most popular comedic actors, and within a few years of that initial auction, she had starred in her own show, Juana y sus hermanas, a Carol Burnett-like variety show, in which she created a number of beloved characters. Her show, which was syndicated across Argentina and its neighboring countries was wildly popular. While pregnant, the Buenos Aires-based JOVM mainstay’s show was on hiatus and with a lot of free time of her hands, she found herself reflecting on her rise to stardom. Despite the massive success she attained, Molina couldn’t help but think that she wasn’t doing what she really wanted to do. So Molina quit acting to focus on her lifelong passion — music.
Her decision to quit her popular show was one that many Argentines bitterly held against for a number of years. Her full-length debut, 1996’s Rara was critically panned by journalists, who resented her career change. Fans of her TV show would show up to her live shows, expecting to see her pay homage to her TV work but instead they found they couldn’t understand this new “folk singer character” that sung strange songs without any obvious jokes. Feeling dejected by the criticism and feeling misunderstood but wanting to continue onward with music, the Buenos Aires-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and actress relocated Los Angeles, where her work as much better received. And while in Los Angeles, she began experimenting and familiarizing herself with electronics.
After spending time licking her metaphorical wounds and honing her songwriting and sound, Molina returned to Buenos Aries, where she wrote, recorded and produced her sophomore effort Segundo, which started a critically applauded run of material in which she meshed organic, rock-based arrangements with electronic production — typically layered and sampled loops of acoustic sounds with beats and synths. Her breakthrough, third album, Tres Cosas was championed by David Byrne, Will Oldham, and others and landed on The New York Times‘ Top Ten Records list.
Halo, Molins’s seventh album further established the Buenos Aires-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. producer and actor’s long-held reputation for being restlessly experimental — and arguably one of South America’s most innovative artists. Interestingly, last year’s Forfun EP is an exuberant and decided sonic left turn, inspired by when they were forced to play a set of material at a major festival without some of their gear, because their airline lost their luggage. And as a result, the material is imbued with a punk rock and garage rock-like DIY ethos and spirit.
Recently, Molina released a new rendition of Halo album track “Cara de Espejo,” which was recorded and filmed at Molina’s home studio near Buenos Aires. Similarly to the material on the Forfun EP, the new rendition of “Cara de Espejo” features a decidedly post-punk arrangement and air, centered around later of squiggly synths, shimmering synths and a driving motorik groove. Filmed by New York-based multidisciplinary arts platform Kabinett, the live session is intimate, playful and mysterious, as it features the band playing in murky shadows.
Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the Buenos Aires-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and actress Juana Molina. Born to renowned tango vocalist Horacio Molina and actress Chunchuna Villafane, a young Juana Molina grew up in an intensely musical home: her father taught her guitar when she was 5 and her mother introduced Molina to the family’s extensive record collection. As a result of 1976’s military coup, the Molina family fled Argentina and lived in exile in Paris for several years, and during that time, the teenaged Molina’s musical tastes were vastly expanded by regularly listening to a number of French radio stations known for programs that spun music from all over the globe.
When Molina was in her early 20s, her and her family returned to Argentina. As a young woman, Molina was determined to be independent and pursue a musical career – and like many young people, her initial aspirations were to earn some decent money for a few hours of work a day while having enough time to write songs, record and play live shows. She had a talent for imitations and looking for a decent gig, she auditioned for a local TV program. Based on the strength of her impressions and imitations, she got hired on the spot.
Molina quickly became one of her country’s most popular and beloved comedic actors. Within three years of that initial addition, Molina starred in her own show Juana y sus hermanas, a Carol Burnett-like show in which she had created a number of characters. The syndicated show was wildly popular in Argentina and in its neighboring countries. After about four years on the air, Molina became pregnant and the show went on hiatus. On maternity leave with a lot of free time on her hands, Molina found herself reflecting on her rapid rise to stardom. At the time, despite having a wildly popular TV show, she couldn’t help but think “this isn’t quite what I wanted to do.” So Molina quit acting to focus on her lifelong passion — being a musician.
Her decision to quit her popular show was one that many Argentines bitterly held against for a number of years. Her full-length debut, 1996’s Rara was critically panned by journalists, who resented her career change. Fans of her TV show would show up to her live shows, expecting to see her pay homage to her TV work but instead they found they couldn’t understand this new “folk singer character” that sung strange songs without any obvious jokes. Feeling dejected by the criticism and feeling misunderstood but wanting to continue onward with music, the Buenos Aires-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. producer and actress relocated Los Angeles, where her work as much better received and began familiarizing herself with and experimenting with electronics.
After spending time licking her metaphorical wounds and honing her songwriting and sound, Molina returned to Buenos Aries, where she wrote, recorded and produced her sophomore effort Segundo, which began a run of material that found her meshing organic arrangements with electronic production — typically layered and sampled loops of acoustic sounds with beats and synths. Interestingly, Molina’s third album, the breakthrough Tres Cosas was championed by David Byrne, Will Oldham, and others and landed on The New York Times’ Top Ten Records list.
Halo Molina’s seventh album further cemented the Argentine artist’s long-held reparation for being a restless and mysterious master of sophisticated, experimental pop — but her soon to be released 4 song Forfun EP is a decided and exuberant sonic left turn. Derived from a set in which Molina and her band had to improvise, when they found themselves on the stage of a major festival without all of their instruments, the material is imbued with a DIY ethos and spirit that’s indebted to punk rock and garage rock. Interestingly, the EP’s latest single “Paraguaya Punk” reveals the underpinning fierce playfulness and grit of Molina’s work in a stripped down and forceful fashion.
The Forfun EP is slated for release on Friday through Crammed Discs.
The recently released video for “Paraguaya Punk” features the animated and vibrantly colored, child-like line drawings of Dante Zaballa. It’s a seemingly simplistic explosion of colors and lines but it manages to capture the exuberant and mischievous air of the accompanying song.
Currently comprised of founding members Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard, along with Owen Clarke, Al Doyle, and Felix Martin, the critically applauded, Grammy Award-nominated, London-based electro pop act Hot Chip can trace its origins back to when its founding duo of Taylor and Goddard met while studying at Elliot School, Putney. Bonding over a shared love of R&B and house music, Hot Chip’s founding duo started collaborating together musically as early as 1998.
After releasing 2001’s Mexico EP, 2002’s San Frandisco EP and a handful of other material through small labels and independently, the act caught the attention of Moshi Moshi Records, who signed the band in 2003 and subsequently released their full-length debut, 2004’s Coming on Strong. Interestingly around this time, the project expanded to a full-fledged band with the additions of Owen Clarke, Felix Martin and Al Doyle. And with their new lineup, the act began working on their sophomore album The Warning while signing a UK and US record deal with DFA Records and EMI Records, which resulted in Astralwerks releasing their full-length debut in the States in 2005.
Released in 2006, The Warning earned the band a more mainstream following while being critically applauded — the album featured two UK Top 40 singles “Over and Over” and “Boy from School,” before eventually being shortlisted for that year’s Mercury Prize and Mixmag‘s Album of the Year. Adding to a growing national profile. “Over and Over” was named the best single of that year by NME.
The acclaimed London-based electro pop act’s third, full-length album, 2008’s Made in the Dark featured “Ready for the Floor,” which peaked at #6 on the UK charts. Building upon the buzz the single received, the band made appearances on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Last Call with Carson Daly — with the song receiving a Grammy nod for “Best Dance Recording,” eventually losing out to Daft Punk’s “Harder Better, Faster, Stronger (Alive 2007).”
After completing a lengthy world tour to support Made in the Dark, the members of Hot Chip returned to London and began writing and recording their fourth full-length album, 2010’s disco and early house music influenced One Life Stand, which found the band collaborating with This Heat‘s and Camberwell Now’s Charles Hayward, The Invisible’s Leo Taylor and Trinidadian steel panist Fimber Bravo.
Since then the band released two more albums: their fifth album, 2012’s In Our Heads, an album that the band’s Alexis Taylor said was written and recorded in a speedier fashion with less pressure and more fun — and 2015’s Why Make Sense, which featured album single “Huarache Lights.”
Hot Chip’s seventh full-length album A Bath Full of Ecstasy is slated for a June 21, 2019 release through Domino Records — and while being their third album for Domino, the album reportedly finds the band firmly cementing the sound they’ve been celebrated for — bringing euphoria and melancholy with breezy and colorful melodies, plaintive vocals and propulsive beats. Interestingly, the album which was recorded in Paris and London finds the act opening themselves up to a more adventurous and collaborative songwriting process, choosing to work with outside producers for the first time in their history —Cassius‘ Philippe Zdar, who has worked with Phoenix and Rodaidh McDonald, who has worked with the likes of The xx, David Byrne, Sampha and others.
Raymond James Mason is a Long Island, NY-born, Brooklyn-born trombonist and singer/songwriter. As the story goes, Mason picked up the trombone at a very young age, and as a teenager, he studied classical performance and jazz studies at my alma mater NYU, where he studied with Brian Lynch, Lenny Pickett, Alan Ferber and Elliot Mason. Upon graduating, Mason quickly became an in-demand musician, playing across a wide variety of genres; but he’s best known for being a member of renowned local Afrobeat act Antibalas, which eventually led to him becoming a member of the Daptone Records/Dunham Records in-house band, playing with the likes of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street Band, Lee Fields and the The Expressions and many others. Additionally, Mason has performed and or recorded with the likes of Alicia Keys, David Byrne, Randy Newman, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Arcade Fire, Ed Sheeran, Janelle Monae, Lukas Graham, Nile Rodgers, Tame Impala, Maren Morris, Earth Wind and Fire, Mark Ronson and and more. Unsurprisingly, he very busy Mason learned from these artists while honing his own compositional and vocal skills, patiently waiting for his moment to step out in the spotlight.
Back in October 2016, Mason reached out to Daptone Records house band member, longtime friend and Dala Records founder Billy Aukstik to set up at a casual recording session. At the time, Aukstik was recording out of an old East Village brownstone basement, equipped with only a Tascam 388 8-track tape recorder and a few old ribbon microphones. Aukstik and Mason assembled an all-star squad of local soul musicians, including Alex Chakour, who has played with Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones; Freddy DeBoe, who has played with Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones; Joe Harrison, who has played with Nick Hakim and Charles Bradley; and Morgan Price, who has played with Antibalas to record a couple of Mason’s compositions — two of which wound up becoming the A and B sides of Mason’s solo debut, “Back When”/”No Clue.”
A side single “Back When” is a strutting and swaggering bit of a soul pop centered around an arrangement of Arp Omni bass synth, fuzzy guitar lines and a steady backbeat — and while thematically the song is a universal tale of lost opportunity and what could have beens, it’s a decidedly contemporary take on the Dala Records sound, as it nods at contemporary soul, hip-hop and psych pop in a way that brings Tame Impala, Nick Hakim and others to mind. “No Clue,” the B side single is centered around fuzzy power chords and a garage rock vibe, while thematically the song focuses on a dysfunctional and confusing relationship. Both singles reveal an an up-and-coming artist, who’s actively and earnestly pushing the sonic boundaries of soul.
Marfa, Texas is a small and extremely remote Western Texas town, a short distance from the American-Mexican border, and unsurprisingly the town is about as far as one can get — both metaphorically and literally — from the costal tech capitals. Singer/songwriter Rob Gugnor and his partner Simone Rubi relocated to Marfa in 2013, where the y started a decidedly lo-fi cafe Do Your Thing, where the patient customer will reportedly be rewarded with some of the finest coffee in the Southwest; but perhaps more important to this site, Gugnor is known as the creative mastermind of the Marfa-based recording project Wilderman.
Ironically, despite Gugnor’s geographical and physical remove from the major tech capitals, his recently released Wilderman album Artifice deals with the increasing and confusing rift between lived experience and its digital approximation. As Gugnor explains at length in press notes:
“I started this record 5 years ago, seeking to explore the impact of technology on our psyche and the new human experience. Since beginning this process, I’ve found more value in the time away from screens, but I’m starting to view it as a luxury. Screen time is unavoidable now. Social media numbers are important. We can’t opt out of the game. In this time span, we’ve seen how information can be manipulated for our feeds. Digital perception has relativized everything to the point of insanity. Empathy is nearly impossible. K*vanaugh, Tr*mp, Milo Whatever His Name Was, digital bullying, flat-earthers. Life is now lived in the digital space. Identity and truth are shapeshifting and amorphous.
I would like to say that I found some hope in digging deep into the digital, but I’ve actually become complacent, and I think we all have. I was hoping to be a whistleblower, but it will mostly fall on deaf ears. We are in a stadium full of people, screaming to be heard. And yet everyone has headphones on and screens up, filtering through the noise to only consume the content they curate for themselves. Art is content. Tragedy is content.
But I still dream that we can remember ourselves, empathy, the human touch – it’s in the songs.
I hope that this album will somehow lead the listener back to a version of themselves that’s in the here and now, without comparison to others, without self-judgment.
It’s a mirror that can also be a gateway to another reality, the one we used to live in.”
Gungor and a backing band featuring some of Marfa’s best musicians — Wye Oak’s Andy Stack, The Brilliance’s John Arndt, Gungor’s Grammy-nominated brother Michael, Midlake’s McKenzie Smith Jeremy Harris, and Andrew McGuire, along with engineer Hugo Nicholson, who has worked with Radiohead, Father John Misty and Primal Scream decamped to Sonic Ranch, a studio in the Chihuahuan Desert, just outside the border town of Tornillo, to start the jam sessions that would eventually turn into the material on Artifice. Chosen in part, because important records by Animal Collective, Beach House, The Mountain Goats, Swans and others were recorded on their premises, the album sonically is influenced by the work of David Byrne and Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Paul Simon’s Graceland and Donald Judd’s permanently installed works. Unsurprisingly, Remain in Light and Graceland were used as a blueprint with live improvised material being recorded with the idea that Gugnor would later recombine and rearrange these sounds into fleshed out songs. It’s a decided and radical change in sound and songwriting approach from his 2013 Wilderman debut Learn to Feel, which was recorded completely in an analog fashion.
The album’s latest single “Cog” is a funky, polyrhythmic, sinuous hook-driven jam centered around a looped, shimmering guitar line, a buoyant bass line, shimmering and sharply arpeggiated synths — and while recalling Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel 3, Security and So-era Peter Gabriel, the song is rooted in the current sociopolitical moment, suggesting that technology has caused us to lose our humanity to the point that we’re cogs in a larger, economically driven machine that will destroy us all. But throughout the song’s narrator is demanding that we resist it, that we remember and honor the individual moving to the beat of their own drum.
The accompanying visuals are the result of a new training methodology for generative adversarial networks — in this case, a random number generator came up with imaginary celebrities that look like real ones. What’s real and what’s digitally generated? Is it your memory or a distortion? It’s trippy and disconcerting.