Tag: Destroyer

Over the past few years, I’ve written a lot about the Toronto, ON-born, Los Angeles, CA-based JOVM mainstay and electronic music producer and electronic music artist Robert Alfons, best known for his acclaimed recording project TR/ST. So far Alfons has released two critically applauded and commercially successful albums — 2012’s self-titled debut and 2014’s sophomore effort, Joyland. But interestingly his first two albums found Alfons taking risks and playing with his sound and approach: his self-titled TR/ST debut was largely considered dark, kinky and defiantly queer electronica while Joyland was bright and upbeat electronic dance music.

Five years have passed since the release of Joyland and during that period, Alfons wrote and recorded material in a secluded farmhouse in Southern Ontario and in Los Angeles, where he has since relocated. The recording sessions, which eventually became his two album effort Destroyer 1 and Destroyer 2 finds Alfons collaborating former bandmate, electronic music producer and electronic music artist Maya Postepski, who co-wrote and co-produced six of the entire project’s songs. Lars Stalfors and Damien Taylor were also enlisted to further refine the album’s overall sound — at parts industrial, at parts intimate and ambient.

Interestingly, one of the key ingredients behind the Destroyer‘s material was patience. “The environment I work in has always guided me. But it took a long time to submit to the kind of patience these songs were asking of me. I was getting glimpses of what I wanted to achieve with the album,” he says. “But it wasn’t feeling cohesive; things weren’t aligning in a clear direction.” Alfons realized it was a question of patience and perseverance. “My first two records were put out so close to one another that I think of them as one,” he says, “They just poured out of me.” With Destroyer, the process was entirely different. “It was so much more careful. I found myself seeking spaces of absolute quiet; I needed them in order to hear what was going on inside.”

And while both parts of the project sound different from one another, there’s a central theme throughout — the deconstruction of shame, expressed in raging industrial and machine-like clang and clatter, atmospheric and eerie quiet paired with introspective lyricism. “I think the biggest reason it took five years to write and rework so much material, is that I finally had to confront these feelings of shame that I had somehow been able to push aside for so many years, which explains why the album is so tumultuous” Alfons explains in press notes.

Slated for a November 1, 2019 release, Destroyer 2 as I mentioned earlier is a decided sonic departure from both its immediate predecessor and from his previously released work as the material consists of delicate, earnest and shimmering pop songs. “I think I took so many more risks sonically and emotionally on Part 2 of this record, for that reason this release has much more importance to me. I’ve spent much of the past five years writing and re-working these songs to get them to the state they are in” Alfons says in press notes.

Centered around twinkling keys, atmospheric synths and electronics, thumping drum programming and Alfons’ plaintive vocals, Destroyer 2‘s first single “Destroyer” is an achingly tender and intimate song that’s one part introspective and soulful confession and one part hook-driven, slickly produced pop.

Alfons will be embarking on a lengthy tour throughout the fall — and each of these tour stops will find him playing in much bigger venues than before. The tour includes a November 15, 2019 stop at The Knockdown Center. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates

28 Sept Mexico City, MX – CMD_F

31 Oct San Diego, CA -The Observatory North Park

1 Nov Los Angeles, CA – The Novo

3 Nov Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall

4 Nov Santa Fe, NM – Meow Wolf

6 Nov San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger

8 Nov Houston,TX – White Oak Music Hall Downstairs

9 Nov Austin, TX – Levitation

11 Nov Atlanta, GA – Terminal West

12 Nov Durham, NC –  Motorco Music Hall

13 Nov Baltimore, MD – Ottobar

15 Nov Maspeth, NY – Knockdown Center

EUROPE

20 Nov London – Heaven

21 Nov Brussels – Botanique

23 Nov Bern – Saint Ghetto

24 Nov Paris – Le Trianon

26 Nov Amsterdam – Paradiso Noord

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New Audio: Black Mountain Releases a Motorik-Styled Ripper

Stephen McBean is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he became involved in the Victoria, British Columbia music scene, forming his first band Jerk Ward in 1981. In 1984, the band recorded a demo that was re-released in 2009 as Too Young to Thrash. Jerk Ward evolved into Mission of Christ (MOC), who recorded a split 7 inch in 1987 — but two years later, the band broke up and McBean relocated to Vancouver, where he started Gus, a band that released two singles, a split EP and a full-length album, 1995’s The Progressive Science Of Breeding Idiots For A Dumber Society, which lead to McBean’s first experience with extensive touring.

In 1996 McBean asked Radio Berlin’s Joshua Wells to join his new band Ex Dead Teenager. Much like his first band Jerk Ward, Ex Dead Teenager eventually morphed into Jerk With a Bomb. Signing with Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar, the band released three albums — 1999’s Death To False Metal, 2001’s The Old Noise and 2003’s Pyrokinesis, which featured Dream on Dreary’s Amber Webber contributing vocals.

While McBean and Wells were still writing, recording and performing as Jerk With a Bomb in 2003, McBean started to demo material that included “Black Mountain” and by the following year, the duo began working on demos under the name Black Mountain with contributions from Webber, Matt Camirand (bass) and Jeremy Schmidt (keys). Those early demos eventually led to their self-titled debut album and a split 7 inch with Destroyer that featured “Bicycle Man,” and was released by Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar Records.

Building upon a growing profile, Black Mountain toured across North America and Europe and by the following June, the band released the 12″ single “Druganuat”/”Buffalo Swan” in the US. In August 2005, the band opened for Coldplay during their Twisted Logic Tour.

2008 was a huge year for the band, their sophomore album In The Future was a finalist for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize, and the album received a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Additionally, “Stay Free” was featured on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack.

By 2010, McBean relocated to Los Angeles, where they wrote and recorded their Randall Dunn and Dave Sardy-co-produced third album, 2011’s Wilderness Heart, anJ album that was long listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize and appeared on !earshot’s Top 50 chart.

2016 saw the release of their fourth album, the aptly titled IV. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes and now features McBean along with Arjan Miranda, Rachel Fannan, Adam Bulgasem and Jermey Schmidt. Interestingly, during that same period McBean got his first proper driver’s license — and for him, it was as though he essentially became a teenager again, discovering a new sense of personal independence and freedom.

Now, as you may recall, the band’s forthcoming album Destroyer derives its name from the discontinued, single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, and reportedly the album is imbued with the wild freedom and newfound agency, anxiety and fear that comes from one’s first time behind the wheel. The serpentine, slow-burning, whiskey fueled, boogie strut “Boogie Lover” was meant to evoke cruising down the Sunset Strip late at night while drawing from space rock, doom metal and stoner rock simultaneously. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Licensed to Drive” evokes a sense of wild freedom  — of speeding down the highway with the music blaring at eardrum shattering levels while sonically drawing from krautrock, space rock, Black Sabbath and Ted Nugent, as the track is centered around a motorik pulse, shimmering synths, buzzing power chords and a razor sharp hook. Get in your car, play this one loud, man. 

New Video: Black Mountain’s Trippy Lo-Fi Visuals for Sultry “Boogie Lover”

Stephen McBean is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he became involved in the Victoria, British Columbia music scene, forming his first band Jerk Ward in 1981. In 1984, the band recorded a demo that was re-released in 2009 as Too Young to Thrash. Jerk Ward evolved into Mission of Christ (MOC), who recorded a split 7 inch in 1987 — but two years later, the band broke up and McBean relocated to Vancouver, where he started Gus, a band that released two singles, a split EP and a full-length album, 1995’s The Progressive Science Of Breeding Idiots For A Dumber Society, which lead to McBean’s first experience with extensive touring.

In 1996 McBean asked Radio Berlin’s Joshua Wells to join his new band Ex Dead Teenager. Much like his first band Jerk Ward, Ex Dead Teenager eventually morphed into Jerk With a Bomb. Signing with Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar, the band released three albums — 1999’s Death To False Metal, 2001’s The Old Noise and 2003’s Pyrokinesis, which featured Dream on Dreary’s Amber Webber contributing vocals.

While McBean and Wells were still writing, recording and performing as Jerk With a Bomb in 2003, McBean started to demo material that included “Black Mountain” and by the following year, the duo began working on demos under the name Black Mountain with contributions from Webber, Matt Camirand (bass) and Jeremy Schmidt (keys). Those early demos eventually led to their self-titled debut album and a split 7 inch with Destroyer that featured “Bicycle Man,” and was released by Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar Records.

Building upon a growing profile, Black Mountain toured across North America and Europe and by the following June, the band released the 12″ single “Druganuat”/”Buffalo Swan” in the US. In August 2005, the band opened for Coldplay during their Twisted Logic Tour.

2008 was a huge year for the band, their sophomore album In The Future was a finalist for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize, and the album received a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Additionally, “Stay Free” was featured on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack.

By 2010, McBean relocated to Los Angeles, where they wrote and recorded their Randall Dunn and Dave Sardy-co-produced third album, 2011’s Wilderness Heart, an album that was long listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize and appeared on !earshot’s Top 50 chart.

2016 saw the release of their fourth album, the aptly titled IV. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes and now features McBean along with Arjan Miranda, Rachel Fannan, Adam Bulgasem and Jermey Schmidt. Interestingly, during that same period McBean got his first proper driver’s license — and for him, it was as though he essentially became a teenager again, discovering a new sense of personal independence and freedom.

In fact, the band’s forthcoming album, Destroyer, which derives its name from the discontinued single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, reportedly is imbued with the wild freedom and newfound agency, anxiety and fear that comes from one’s first time behind the wheel. Interestingly, the album’s latest single is the serpentine, slow-burning, whiskey fueled- boogie strut “Boogie Lover,” a track meant to evoke cruising down the Sunset Strip. Clocking in at a little over 6 minutes and centered by wah wah pedaled guitar, thumping drumming, sizzling synths, the track manages to draw from space rock, doom metal and stoner rock simultaneously — all while being incredibly sultry and apocalyptic.

New Audio: Dan Mangan’s Spectral Cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”

Dan Mangan is a Smithers, British Columbia, Canada-born, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based multi-Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose music career started in earnest back in 2003 when he was 20 with the release of his debut EP All At Once. 500 copies were pressed and then sold or given away throughout the Vancouver area. Building upon the initial bit of buzz surrounding him, Mangan financially supported with a bank loan, recorded his Daniel Elemes and Simon Kelly co-produced full-length debut Postcards & Dreaming with the assistance of a small community of musicians, who offered cheap or free session work. Much like All At Once, Mangan initially released his full-length debut independently, selling the album online and at live shows; but by 2007, Vancouver-based indie label File Under: Music re-released the album with new artwork and a new, extra track “Ash Babe.”

August 2009 saw the release of Mangan’s sophomore full-length effort Nice, Nice, Very Nice. Deriving its name from a line Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, the John Critchley-produced album was recorded at Toronto’s Green Door Studios and featured an assortment of Canadian musicians include Veda Hille, Justin Rutledge, Mark Berube, Hannah Georgas, members of Said The Whale, Major Maker and Elliot Brood. The album’s first two singles “Robots” and “Road Regrets” received airplay on local Vancouver radio stations, as well as The Verge and CBC Radio 3 — with Magnan eventually winning Artist of the Year at that year’s Verge Music Awards. 

The following year, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was licensed and released by renowned, Toronto-based indie label Arts & Crafts in the States and in Europe through City Slang Records. Adding to growing critical acclaim surrounding the album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, named iTunes Album of the Year in the singer/songwriter category, won three Western Canadian Music Awards — Independent Album of the Year, Roots/Solo Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. And “Robots” was named Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards. 

Over the course of the next year, Mangan began collaborating with musicians from Vancouver’s experimental music scene, recruiting rummer Kenton Loewen (Mother Mother, Submission Hold and Gord Grdina Trio), bassist John Walsh (Brasstronaut) and guitarist Gord Grdina (Gord Grdina Trio, Haram, and East Van Strings) to be his backing band for the writing and recording sessions that eventually comprised 2011’s Colin Stewart-produced Oh Fortune. Loewen, Walsh and Grdina recruited a large, rotating cast of local musicians including trumpeter JP Carter (Fond of Tigers, Destroyer), violinist Jesse Zubot (Fond of Tigers, Hawksley Workman, Tanya Tagaq), pianist Tyson Naylor and cellist Peggy Lee (Mary Margaret O’Hara, Wayne Horvitz, Veda Hille). Additionally, Magnan enlisted Eyvind Kang to contribute orchestral arrangements. The album was a critical and commercial success with the album winning Juno Awards for New Artist of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year with nominations for Songwriter of the Year and Video of the year for the Jon Busby-produced video for “Rows of Houses.” The album won three Western Canadian Music Awards for “Rock Album of the Year,” Independent Album of the Year,” and “Songwriter of the Year.” Also, the album was long-listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize. Lastly, “Rows of Houses” won Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards, making Mangan the winningest artist in the award’s history — and the only artist to date that has won in the Best Song category multiple times. 

Credited to Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, 2015’s Club Meds found Magnan and his backing band of Grdina, Loewen, Walsh, Naylor, Carter and Zubot focusing on core band contributions — and while critically applauded, the album wasn’t as commercially successful as its predecessor. Since then, Mangan released the digitally released EP Unmake, which featured a cover of Robyn’s “Hang With Me,” stripped down versions of “Kitsch” and “Forgetery,” off Club Meds and an acoustic version of “Whistleblower,” re-worked from the original 6/8 time to 4/4 time and contributions from Tegan and Sara’s Tegan Quin, and drummer Loel Campbell (Wintersleep and Holy Fuck). Mangan has also done a few film and TV scores, including the CBC/AMC series Unspeakable, headed the Arts & Crafts Records imprint Madic Records, which released albums by Walrus and Astral Swans, who he has produced. During this exceedingly busy period, the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist took some time off and became a father before writing and releasing his latest album the Drew Brown-produced, More or Less, an album that Mangan claims “feels more like ‘me’ than ever.” 

The critically applauded Vancouver-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is currently in the middle of a lengthy tour to support his latest effort, and it includes a March 14, 2019 stop at Mercury Lounge. (You can check out the tour dates below.) And to celebrate the tour, and its inclusion in the trailer for Unspeakable, Mangan released a spectral, Peter Gabriel-like cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” that’s centered around a looped guitar line, twinkling jazz-like keys and Magnan’s plaintive vocals. Admittedly, while I’ve been a huge R.E.M. fan for most of my life, I’ve hated “Losing My Religion” for many years because it was played way to death and then some throughout 1991 and 1992; but Mangan’s cover reminds me of the original song’s mysterious quality and weary ache. “When I was a kid, R.E.M. was a staple in my household,” says Mangan. “I remember air guitaring to this song with my brother and sister. It was such a massive hit but also so unlikely a candidate to be so. The chorus isn’t really a chorus. It’s long. It’s repetitive. It’s like a hypnotic cyclical trance of words that stick with you even if you have no idea what they’re about. I really wanted to try and approach it from a new angle. There’s no point in attempting to sing like Michael Stipe — there is only one Michael Stipe. So I tried my best to let it live in a new light while paying homage to the original.”

New Video: The Mournful Sounds and Visuals of TR/ST’s “Destroyer”

The Toronto, ON-based JOVM mainstay Robert Alfons, best known for his industrial pop recording project TR/ST has released two critically and commercially successful, full-length albums — his self-titled debut received praise from Vice, Pitchfork and The Guardian, as well as a  Juno Award nomination. Joyland, Alfons’ sophomore effort was a major chance in sonic direction, with the material being much more pop orientated and radio friendly sound while possessing a club friendly, muscular thump. And as you may recall, after a lengthy world tour to support Joyland, Alfons managed to write and record a series of singles, including the menacing,  Snap!’s “Rhythm Is A Dancer”-like “Slug,” which I wrote about several years ago. 

Interestingly, the renowned Toronto-based producer and electronic music artist will be releasing his highly-anticipated third, full-length effort, which is slated for release sometime in 2018 and will feature the previously released single “Bicep.” His latest single finds the renowned Canadian producer pairing organic instrumentation — here being, piano, drums and horn (albeit, what sounds like a horn sample) with a slick and lush electronic production featuring thumping beats, samples and looping machines and a soaring hook over which Alfons contributes his mournful and aching baritone. 

Directed by Justin Tyler Close and famed choreographer Ryan Heffington, the recently released video for “Destroyer,” features Heffington in his first starring role, as an intense man, who’s barely holding it together as we’re introduced to him intently walking towards the camera and running elsewhere, before seeing him expressively dancing in a number of different locales in and around the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles. At one point, he runs into a man with motorcycle helmet, who he paralyzes with mere words — sticks and stones may break your bones, and words may kill you, too. Influenced by detailed conversations between each collaborator have influenced a rather symbolic set of visuals based around a desperate, last ditch effort to save a failing relationship. Heffington’s movement manage to express joy remembered, self-reflection, turmoil, ache and longing, further emphasizing the song’s overall vibe.  

Comprised of founding member, frontwoman and primary songwriter Devin Davis, along with Andy Hengl, Justin Geter and Mark Edwards, the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock/grunge rock quartet Ramonda Hammer derive their name from a woman, who was featured on the early 2000s reality TV show Cheaters.

The quartet’s self-released 2016 debut Whatever That Means was released to critical praise from Impose MagazineEarmilk, PureVolume, Fuse TV and elsewhere. Building upon the growing attention they’ve received, the quartet signed with New Professor Records and released “Zombie Sweater” to applause from Brooklyn Vegan, She Shreds Magazine, Blurred Culture and others; in fact, the band also was named one of “LA’s hardest-working bands of 2016” by Oh My Rockness and one of the “best LA emerging bands of 2017 by The Deli Magazine.

Interestingly, 2017 looks to be a big year for the up-and-coming Los Angeles-based quartet as they’ll be releasing their new EP, Destroyers on August 4, 2017 — and the EP’s latest single, EP title track “Destroyers” is a jagged and off-kilter track that channels The Breeders, Veruca Salt, The Mallard, Bleeding Rainbow, and others, complete with a rousingly anthemic hook before dissolving into a stormy yet cathartic coda; but at the heart of the song is an emotional ambivalence, as the song manages to be simultaneously feral yet bitterly ironic, triumphantly ass-kicking yet a little sad.