Tag: David Byrne

New Video: Juana Molina Releases a Vibrantly Colored Animated Visual for Exuberant and Playful “Paraguaya Punk”

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. 

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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 RossJimmy 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.

Clocking in at 6 minutes, the album’s first single  “Hungry Child” is centered around glistening synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, finger snaps, plaintive vocals, an anthemic hook and a motorik-like groove — and while clearly being indebted to classic house and sultry French electronica, the track also subtly recalls JOVM mainstay Beacon. And as a result, it has a bittersweet air; the sort that comes from the recognition that joy is often paired with pain.
2019 will also see the members of Hot Chip embarking on what may arguably be the biggest tour of their entire history with a number of club shows during the Spring across Europe and North America, including a sold out April 29, 2019 stop at Elsewhere — before making stops across the European festival circuit. They return to New York in the fall with two dates — September 3, 2019 and September 4, 2019 at Brooklyn Steel. Check out the tour dates below.
Tour Dates
4/4 – London @ Village Underground SOLD OUT
4/5 – Brighton @ Concorde 2 SOLD OUT
4/6 – Bristol @ Trinity SOLD OUT
4/8 – Paris @ Trabendo SOLD OUT
4/9 – Brussels @ Botanique Orangerie SOLD OUT
4/11 – Cologne @ Luxor SOLD OUT
4/12 – Hamburg @ Mojo SOLD OUT
4/13 – Berlin @ Columbia Theatre SOLD OUT
4/14 – Amsterdam @ Paradiso Noord SOLD OUT
4/29 – Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere SOLD OUT
5/1 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre SOLD OUT
5/2 – Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy and Harriet’s SOLD OUT
5/4 –  San Francisco, CA @ August Hall SOLD OUT
5/24 – London @ All Points East Festival
6/1 – Egeskov Castle, Denmark @ Heartland Festival
6/8 – Helsinki, Finland @ Sideways Festival
6/14 – 6/18 – Mannheim, Germany @ Maifeld Derby Festival
6/28 – 6/30 – Somerset @ Glastonbury Festival
6/4 – Catalonia Spain @ Vida Festival
6/5 – Six-Fours-les-Plages, France @ Pointu Festival
6/11 – Lisbon, Portugal @ NOS Alive Festival
6/11 – 6/13 – Bilbao, Spain @ Bilbao Live Festival
6/19 – 6/21 – Jodrell Bank, Macclesfield @ Bluedot Festival
6/19 – 6/21 – Biarritz, France @ Biarritz en été Festival
6/26 – Aulnoye-Aimeries, France @ Les Nuits Secrètes Festival
8/2 – 8/4 – Waterford, Ireland @ All Together Now Festival
8/4 – Glasgow @ Playground of Sound Festival
8/16 – St Malo, France @ La Route du Rock Festival
8/16 – 8/18 – Hasselt, Belgium @ Pukkelpop Festival
8/30 – Vlieland, Netherlands @ Into The Great Wide Open Festival
Autumn 2019 headline tour
9/3 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
9/4 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel,
9/7 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
9/8 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
9/9 – Boston, MA @ Royale
9/10 – Montreal, QC @ MTELUS
9/12 – Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
9/13 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
9/14 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
9/17 – Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre
9/18 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
9/19 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
9/20 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater,
9/24 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
9/25 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
9/27 – Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Auditorium
10/17 – Dublin @ Olympia
10/18 – Birmingham @ O2 Institute 1
10/21 – Bristol @ O2 Academy
10/22 – Nottingham @ Rock City
10/24 – Norwich @ LCR
11/30 – Milan @ Alcatraz
12/2 – Amsterdam @ Melkweg
12/3 – Berlin @ Columbiahalle
12/4 – Luxembourg @ den Atelier
12/5 – Lausanne @ Les Docks
12/7 – Paris, @ Elysée Montmartre
12/11- Hamburg @ Docks
12/14 – Stockholm @ Vasateatern
12/15 – Oslo @ Rockefeller

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.

 

 

New Video: Marfa, Texas’ Wilderman Releases Trippy, Random Generated Visuals for Polyrhythmic, Hook Driven New Single

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. 

Throughout the bulk of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brooklyn-based JOVM post-punk mainstays NØMADS. And as you’d recall, the act which is primarily comprised of Nathan Lithow  (vocals, synths, bass) and Garth Macaleavey (drums) spent the better part of last year writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise PHØBIAC, a concept album in which each song focuses on a different phobia, approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion. Naturally, the material captures and evokes the innermost thoughts and anxieties of someone in the grips of a deeply crippling fear; but at its core, is a cautionary message for our heightened and uncertain times — that whenever we succumb to the irrationality of our fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the result.

Throughout the course of 2017, the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstays have released a new single from the album every month, adding the band to a growing list of artists, who have experimented with how an album is packaged, arranged, marketed, publicized and sold in the blogosphere age. Interestingly enough, during the summer, the duo announced that they’d be splitting the full-length album into two separate EPs — the organic, punk rock-like PHØBIAC Part 1, which features Lithow collaborating with his bandmate Macaleavy and the synth-driven, prog rock-like PHØBIAC Part 2, which features Lithow collaborating with acclaimed drummer Brian Wolf, who has worked with David Byrne, St. Vincent and the legendary Dap Kings.

“Xenophøbia,” the jagged and tense, Entertainment!-era Gang of Four/Pink Flag-era Wire-like new single from NØMADS focuses on an all-too familiar fear that has dominated the news and the attention of the world — xenophobia, the fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners, as well as anything that is considered strange or foreign. Featuring the band’s original duo of Lithow and Macaleavy, the single’s lyrical perspective is that of an aging, tyrannical dictator, pounding his fists behind a podium and riling the fears and hatreds of a fervent, frothing mob while being a meditation on what it means to be an outsider — whether racially, religiously or culturally — in the internet age. But along with that, the song points at the chilling and increasingly fascistic turn our culture and government have taken since Trump has taken office, suggesting that we should be fearful of what could happen next and resist with every fiber of our beings.

 

Live Footage: Brooklyn-based JOVM Mainstays NØMADS Release Buzzing Synth-based Mediation on the Fear of Loneliness

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstay act NØMADS. And if you’ve been frequenting this site you’d recall that the duo, primarily comprised of Nathan Lithow  (vocals, synths, bass) and Garth Macaleavey (drums) spent the better part of last year writing writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their sophomore album PHØBIAC, a concept album in which each song focuses on a different phobia, approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion. Naturally, the material captures and evokes the innermost thoughts and anxieties of someone in the grips of a deeply crippling fear; but at its core, is a cautionary message for our heightened and uncertain times — that whenever we succumb to the irrationality of our fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the result.  

Throughout the course of the year, the duo have released new singles off PHØBIAC every month but recently the duo announced that they’d be splitting the album into two separate EPs — the organic instrumentation-driven PHØBIAC Part 1 and the synth-driven PHØBIAC Part 2. Last month’s single “Phasmophøbia” featured drummer Brian Wolf, who’s best known for his work with David Byrne, St. Vincent and the legendary Dap Kings, and focuses on the fear of the paranormal and of ghosts — both literal and figurative. Recorded live in Pittsburgh in the murky shadows of an abandoned Catholic school’s furnace room in one full take with no edits, “Phasmophøbia”  consists of a fast and loose, improvised jam-like arrangement featuring swirling and twisting synth chords paired with boom-bap hip-hop-inspired drumming which evoke a sweaty, nauseating paranoia. That shouldn’t be surprising as the song focuses on an ex-lover, who perpetually haunts the street of the paranoid narrator’s daily world; and in fact, the song’s narrator recognizes that his past is sickeningly inescapable.

PHØBIAC Part 2’s latest single “Autophøbia” focuses on what may arguably be the most prevalent and shared fear of all clinical phobias — the fear of being alone or isolated, as though you may be the last person on earth or being so misunderstood that you can’t find any common ground with anyone. Certainly, the fear of being alone influences our behavioral patterns, our relationships and our concept of what constitutes a happy, organized, successful life. Continuing the group’s ongoing collaboration with Brian Wolf, the track features twisting and turning synths paired with rolling and propulsive drumming while lyrically, the song’s young narrator gazes into the future through a picture of himself a lonely old man, who knows that death is imminent and unavoidable and while tinged with an underlying sense of regret, there the creeping realization that his worst nightmare will come true — that he’ll die alone, forgotten and obsolete. 

Much like the previous single, “Autophøbia” was recorded live and in one full-take with no edits within the murky shadows of an abandoned Pittsburgh area Catholic school furnace. 

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays NØMADS Returns with a Tense and Paranoid New Single

Comprised of Nathan Lithow  (vocals, synths, bass) and Garth Macaleavey (drums), the JOVM mainstay act NØMADS have a rather accomplished history both separately and together, and with the release of 2014’s full-length debut, the duo received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that drew and/or nodded at Nirvana, Fugazi and Girls Against Boys while also nodding at Zack de la Rocha’s post-Rage Against the Machine project, One Day As A Lion  and Japandroids.

After a year-long hiatus from touring and writing, the Brooklyn-based duo spent 2016 writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their sophomore album PHØBIAC, a concept album in which each song focuses on a different phobia, approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion. The result is that the material captures the innermost thoughts and anxieties of someone in the grips of crippling fear; but at its core, is a cautionary message for our heightened and uncertain times — that whenever we succumb to the irrationality of our fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the result.  And throughout the course of the year, the duo have released material off PHØBIAC every month but recently, the duo have announced that they’ll be splitting the album into two separate albums — the organic instrumentation-driven PHØBIAC Part 1 and the synth-driven PHØBIAC part 2. 

This month’s latest single “Phasmophøbia” focuses on the fear of the paranormal and of ghosts — both literal and figurative. Recorded live in Pittsburgh in the murky shadows of an abandoned Catholic school’s furnace room in one full take with no edits, “Phasmophøbia”  consists of a fast and loose, improvised jam-like arrangement featuring swirling and twisting synth chords paired with boom-bap hip-hop-inspired drumming which evoke a sweaty, nauseating paranoia, which shouldn’t be surprising as the song focuses on an ex-lover, who perpetually haunts the street of the paranoid narrator’s daily world; and in fact, the song’s narrator recognizes that his past is sickeningly inescapable.