Tag: Dire Straits

New Video: Follow Acclaimed JOVM Mainstays Tinariwen on a Cinematically Shot Journey in the Desert

I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally acclaimed Algerian Tuareg pioneers of Desert Blues and JOVM mainstays Tinariwen over the past handful of years. And as you can recall, the act can trace its origins back to the late 1970s when the band’s founding member, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib (guitar) joined a small group of Tuareg rebels living in refugee camps in Libya and Algeria. The rebels Ag Alhabib hooked up with had been influenced by radical chaabi protest music of groups like Nass El Ghiwane and Jil Jilala, Algerian pop rai, and western artists like Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, Dire Straits, Jimi Hendrix, Boney M, and Bob Marley  — and they started writing music that meshed the traditional folk music of their people with Western rock, reggae and blues-leaning arrangements.

Despite a series of lineup changes since their formation, the act has toured regularly across the European Union, North American, Japan and Australia, playing some fo the biggest festivals of the international touring circuit — and at some of the world’s biggest clubs and music venues. But one thing has been consistent: they’ve firmly established a sound that evokes the harsh and surreal beauty of their desert homeland, centered around the poetry and wisdom of a rough and tumble, proud and rebellious people, whose old-fashioned way of life is rapidly disappearing as a result of increasingly technology and encroaching Westernization and globalization. And while 2017’s Elwan (which translates into English as “The Elephants”) thematically touches upon on the impact that Westernization and technology has had on the lives of their people, their exile from their homeland as  result of religious and ethnic infighting, the uncertain future of their homeland and their longing to be back in their homeland — with the tacit understanding that many within the band may never see their homeland ever again.

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through Anti- Records, the acclaimed JOVM mainstays’ forthcoming album Amadjar reportedly is as close as listeners can get to the proverbial soul of the band as it was recorded in a natural setting. Accompanied by their French production team, who arrived in an old camper can that has been converted into a makeshift studio, the Saharan Africa JOVM mainstays’ journey to the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott takes about 12 days or so. Every evening, the caravan stopped to set up camp and the band went to work under the stars to prepare for the recording sessions, talking through things, and letting their guitar motifs, thoughts and long buried songs come. Then, during a final two-week camp in the desert around Nouakchott, the band, joined by The Mauritanian griot  Noura Mint Seymali and her guitarist husband, Jeiche Ould Chigaly, recorded their songs under large tent in a few live takes, without headphones or effects.

Once recorded, a host of Western musicians added additional instrumentation including the Bad Seeds’ Warren Ellis, who contributed violin; Micah Nelson, the son of the legendary Willie Nelson and a member of Neil Young‘s backing band, contributed mandolin and charango; Sunn O)))‘s Stephen O’Malley contributes guitar; Cass McCombs, who contributes guitar; and Rodophe Burger.

Lyrically and thematically, the album explores the continuing political, social, humanitarian and environmental problems faced in their home country of Mali and continues Tinariwen’s pursuit to highlight the plight and issues of their people through their music. The album continues the band’s ongoing work of highlighting the plight of the Tuareg community — from the collapse of infrastructure and public services, climate change and the ongoing political and military conflicts that have plagued their homeland since it gained independence in 1960.

Interestingly, “Kel Tinariwen” Amadjar’s latest single continues in a similar path of its predecessors as its centered around shimmering and looping acoustic guitar, call and response vocals, handclaps and drums and while the addition of a sinuous electric bass line  helps to modernize the song, the song feels as though it’s an effortless synthesis of the ancient and the modern. Thematically, the song touches upon two ancient things: the treacherousness of those power mad and greedy sorts, who will sell out their people — and a triumph of the righteous over them. Cass McCombs contributes some trippy vocals towards the song’s coda and his guitar work. 

Directed by Celidja Pornon, the recently released video for “Kel Tinariwen” is a cinematic and intimate shot visual that follows the band and their crew as they travel through the desert with their makeshift recording studio. We see tons of earthy browns and oranges, eerily beautiful landscapes, enormous and seemingly endless skies, and Van Gogh-like suns. Over the course of their journey, they stop for the night, set up camp, play dominoes, joke and chat and at night, they jam and write songs — the songs that represent the struggles and concerns of their people and of their homeland. We also get glimpses of the band performing for an ecstatic group of Tuaregs, who cheer them up and record every moment. 

New Audio: Carriers Returns with a Deeply Personal, New Single

Curt Kiser is a Cincinnati-based singer/songwriter, who skipped college and spent the past few years playing in a number of nationally touring bands, and during that same period of time, Kiser has been meticulously crafting his proper debut as a songwriter and solo artist — in step with his own personal development. Kiser started his latest project Carriers back in 2014 and the project found him working with a collection of friends and associates including The National‘s Bryan Devendorf and The Afghan Whigs‘ John Curley, who have helped him bring his sound and vision to life. 

Kiser’s Carriers full-length debut  Now Is The Time For Loving Me, Yourself & Everyone Else is slated for an August 23, 2019 release through Good Eye Records, and the album thematically speaking finds Kiser taking stock of life, death and his relationships — while being grateful for being around another day. “Overall it’s about what we have and remaining present, while still being able to have an honest perspective of the past and our future,” Kiser explains in press notes. “I’ve personally found a lot of peace in just working hard and staying focused on what I’ve got going on, trusting, rather than being consumed with striving. This record process has taught me a lot about patience. Life will continue to teach me to have more. I’m just trying to accept what happens and handle it the best I can. Patience is forever.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about album track “Patience” an anthemic and brooding track that sonically brought Springsteen and JOVM mainstays Caveman, while focusing on finding peace and calm in trusting the natural rhythms of life, rather than being consumed with relentless striving; of focusing on the fact that things sometimes happen within their own time and pace. Now Is The Time For Loving Me, Yourself & Everyone Else’s latest single, the Dire Straights-like “Another Guy” is a shimmering and brooding bit of pop centered around an uptempo arrangement, a soaring hook and deeply personal, confessional songwriting. 

“When you’re writing a song and in the midst of capturing what is inspiring it, you usually don’t think about anything else but just staying focused on that moment and letting the song appear and become realized. At least, that’s how it happens for me,” Curt Kiser says in a lengthy statement. 

“‘Another Guy’ is a song that I knew I needed to write but I never knew if anyone else would really hear it beyond some close friends and family. It’s a song about a dream I had that holds a lot of weight and significance for me. While trying to tell the story of this one, I’ve had trouble coming up with the right words to do so. How do you explain a spiritual encounter and fully convey what it meant for you?

“I was lifted into the air, saw a statue of Jesus break apart, come to life and we had a conversation. It was pretty weird. I think I’m okay with letting this song speak for itself. It was a dream. It was extremely vivid. It changed my life & my overall outlook of myself and the depths of the supernatural realm. It opened me up to new possibilities and something I had never been shown before while also confirming some things I’ve held as truth.

I know what it means for me and when people hear this song, I hope that you can feel something similar to what I felt while having the encounter and that it changes the atmosphere wherever you are.” 

“All the drum parts were worked out in a series of rehearsals with Curt in an old crumbling factory over the course of one winter,” Bryan Devendorf says of the song’s creation. “I didn’t know it at the time but we were a couple buildings up from a locally important studio where we would eventually record the drums for Carriers the next summer. 

“My first drum teacher, Steve Earle (not the singer-songwriter), had recorded at Ultrasuede many years before with the Afghan Whigs. I was fortunate to get in there too before it closed. Shag carpet, parquet floor, and cedar paneling defined the live room whose centerpiece was the studio’s original name — QCA STUDIOS — emblazoned on wall-mounted shag. Nice, warm, and low lit. 

“Adding to the cosmic ‘circularness’ of the situation, the bassist on the Carriers sessions John Curley, bassist in the Afghan Whigs. It was pretty wild for me there, setting up drums while John set up mics, me thinking back to my early days, seeing Whigs shows and practicing drums in my parent’s basement and suddenly there I was…. 

“‘Another Guy’ like all the Carriers tracks I worked on was a really fun challenge — I really had to work hard to get all the forms down, half bars, etc. Curt, why do you need half bars?!!! 

“The demo version of “Another Guy” was recorded in the control room at Ultrasuede in July of 2015.,” John Curley adds. “It was just Curt playing acoustic guitar and singing. The demo is slower than the version on the record and it has an almost melancholy vibe to it.

“As I remember it, the song began to grow into its current form when we recorded it with Bryan. It became more of a pop song. The tempo picked up and we changed the arrangement somewhat. The bass part I was hearing in my head came together for me when we played it with drums. I really like the tight snare fills that he throws in.

“It was cool to see how the songs on this record evolved from the early demos into what you hear on the record. Curt encouraged everyone involved to contribute something unique and gave us the space to do that.”

New Audio: Tinariwen Releases a Gorgeous and Brooding Collaboration with Warren Ellis, Noura Mint Seymali and Jeiche Ould Chighaly

I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally acclaimed Algerian Tuareg pioneers of the Desert Blues and JOVM mainstays Tinariwen over the past couple of years. And as you may recall, the act can trace its origins back to the late 1970s when the band’s founding member, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib (guitar) joined a small group of Tuareg rebels living in refugee camps in Libya and Algeria. The rebels Ag Alhabib hooked up with had been influenced by radical chaabi protest music of groups like Nass El Ghiwane and Jil Jilala, Algerian pop rai, and western artists like Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, Dire Straits, Jimi Hendrix, Boney M, and Bob Marley  — and they started writing music that meshed the traditional folk music of their people with Western rock, reggae and blues-leaning arrangements.

Upon relocating to Tamanrasset, Algeria, Ag Alhabib started a band with Alhassane Ag Touhami and brothers Inteyeden Ag Ablil and Liya Ag Ablil that had played traditional Taureg music at various weddings, parties and other occasions across both Algeria and Libya. As the story goes, when the quartet had started, they didn’t have a name; but people across the region, who had seen them play had begun calling them Kel Tinariwen, which in the Tamashek language (the tongue of the Taureg people) translates roughly as “The People of the Deserts” or “The Desert Boys.”

In 1980, Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi issued a decree inviting all young Tuareg men, who were living illegally in Libya to receive full military training, as part of his dream of forming a Saharan regiment, comprised of the best young Tuareg fighters to further his territorial ambitions in Chad, Niger, and elsewhere across Northern Africa. Al Alhabib and his bandmates answered the call and received military training. Whether or not the founding members of the band truly believed in Gaddafi’s military ambitions would be difficult to say — but on a practical level, a steady paycheck to support yourself and your family certainly is an enticement. Five years later, Ag Alhabib, Ag Touhami and the Ag Ablil brothers answered a similar call by leaders of the Libyan Tuareg movement, who desired an autonomous homeland for their people, and wound up meeting fellow musicians Keddou Ag Ossade, Mohammed Ag Itlale (a.k.a “Japonais”), Sweiloum Ag Alhousseyni, Abouhadid Ag Alhousseyni, and Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni — all who had sang and played guitar. At this point, the initial lineup was completed and the members of the collective began writing songs about the issues and concerns of their people.

Then the members of the band built a makeshift studio, vowing to to record and distribute music for free to anyone, who supplied them a blank cassette tape. Within a short period of time, the band’s cassette tapes were highly sought-after and were popularly traded throughout Saharan Africa.

In 1989 the collective had left Libya and relocated to Ag Alhabib’s birthplace of Tessalit, Mali; but by the next year, Mail’s Tuareg population revolted against the Malian government — with some members of the collective participating as rebel fighters in that conflict. After the Tamanrasset Accords were reached and agreed upon in early 1991, the members of Tinariwen, who had fought in the conflict had left the military and devoted themselves to their music full-time. In R1992, some of the members of the band went to Abidjan, Ivory Coast to record a cassette at JBZ Studios, which they followed up with extensive gigs for their fellow Tuaregs across Saharan Africa, which helped furthered the reputation they had developed primarily by word-of-mouth.

A collaboration with renowned French, world music ensemble Lo’Jo helped expand the band’s profile outside Saharan Africa. They also played a live set at Africa Oye, one of the UK’s largest African music/African Diaspora festival. Building on the increasing buzz, the band released their full-length debut The Radio Tisdas Sessions, which was their first recorded effort to be released outside of Saharan Africa. Interestingly, since their formation back in the late 70s, the collective have gone through a series of lineup changes, gradually incorporating younger generations of Tuareg musicians, many who haven’t seen the military conflicts that their elders have, including bassist Eyadou Ag Leche, percussionist Said Ag Ayad, guitarist Elaga Ag Hamid, guitarist Abdallah Ag Lamida, and vocalists Wonou Walet Sidati and the Walet Oumar sisters.

Despite their lineup changes, Tinariwen has become internationally known, as a result of regular touring across the European Union, North America, Japan and Australia, frequently playing some of the world’s biggest festivals and biggest music venues and clubs. But one thing has been consistent throughout — they’ve continued with a sound that evokes the harsh and surreal beauty of their homeland, centered around the poetry and wisdom of a rough and tumble, proud and rebellious people, whose old-fashioned way of life is rapidly disappearing as a result of technology and encroaching Westernization.

Additionally, a contentious and bloody series of infighting and wars between the various religious and ethnic groups across the region have splintered several nations throughout the region — including most recently Mali and Libya, where members of Tinariwen have proudly called home at various points of the band’s history. Unsurprisingly, the band’s last full-length effort, 2017’s Elwan (which translates into English as “The Elephants”) thematically focuses on the impact of Westernization and technology has had on their people and their way of life, their exile as a result of the religious and ethnic infighting that has destroyed their homeland, their longing for their ancestral homeland, the uncertain future of their homeland — and the tacit understanding that some of the band members may never see their homeland ever again.

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through Anti- Records, the acclaimed JOVM mainstays’ forthcoming album Amadjar, reportedly is as close as listeners can get to the proverbial soul of the band as it was recorded in a natural setting. 

Accompanied by their French production team, who arrive in an old camper can that has been converted into a makeshift studio, the Saharan Africa JOVM mainstays’ journey to the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott takes about 12 days or so. Every evening, the caravan stopped to set up camp and the band went to work under the stars to prepare for the recording sessions, talking through things, and letting their guitar motifs, thoughts and long buried songs come. Then, during a final two-week camp in the desert around Nouakchott, the band, joined by The Mauritanian griotte Noura Mint Seymali and her guitarist husband, Jeiche Ould Chigaly, recorded their songs under large tent in a few live takes, without headphones or effects.

Once recorded, a host of Western musicians added additional instrumentation including the Bad Seeds’ Warren Ellis, who contributed violin; Micah Nelson, the son of the legendary Willie Nelson and a member of Neil Young‘s backing band, contributed mandolin and charango; Sunn O)))‘s Stephen O’Malley contributes guitar; Cass McCombs, who contributes guitar; and Rodophe Burger.

Lyrically and thematically, the album explores the continuing political, social, humanitarian and environmental problems faced in their home country of Mali and continues Tinariwen’s pursuit to highlight the plight and issues of their people through their music. The album continues the band’s ongoing work of highlighting the plight of the Tuareg community — from the collapse of infrastructure and public services, climate change and the ongoing political and military conflicts that have plagued their homeland since it gained independence in 1960.

Amadjar’s latest single is a gorgeous yet brooding track centered around looping and shimmering acoustic guitar, explosive blasts of pedal effected electric guitar, handclap led-percussion and bursts of soaring violin. And much like its predecessor, “Taqkal Tarha,” the song is an effortless synthesis of something far more ancient and seemingly older than time with a subtly contemporary feel. I’ve seen a translated version of song’s incredibly poetic lyrics — and in translation, they indirectly evoke Revelations, The Upanishads and other religious texts, as it paints a picture of the end of the world. And yet, the song’s narrator finds himself confronted by the fact that he’s got his trusty camel and the endless road ahead. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Brooklyn Act Roofers Union Release a 80s Inspired CGI Visual for “Tortugas”

With the release of the critically applauded single “Karate,” the up-and-coming Brooklyn-based indie pop act Roofers Union have begun to receive attention across the blogosphere for meshing shimmering disco-tinged pop with material that thematically focuses on millennial ennui.

The band’s latest single “Tortugas” is a decidedly uptempo and breezy track, centered around shimmering synths and rapid-fire drumming, frontman T.C. Tyre’s plaintive falsetto and cascading bass and guitar that bears an uncanny resemblance to Kid A and Hail to the Thief-era Radiohead. Bubbling under the breezy, radio friendly exterior is a darker, almost menacing edge. “Everybody has some problem, some terribly flavored pathology to their life that they’ve never quite been able to shake,” the band says about their latest single. “Whether it’s addiction, anxiety, heartbreak, chronic jealousy, loneliness. ‘Tortugas’ isn’t so much about what the issue is as much as how tenacious it can be. These troubles will always be watching from a distance, creeping slowly toward you.”

The recently released video by Patrick Sluiter employs the sort of CGI graphics reminiscent of Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing,” as we follow a computer generated turtle and computer generated man frantically bop to the song in a sparsely furnished room. But underneath the mischievous charm is an equally menacing vibe that suggests that the characters are doomed to repeat the same thing for eternity — without any escape. 

 

Country Line Runner is the solo recording project of singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Day — and with the release of the Bill Ryder-Jones-produced single “Hard to Find,” Day has received attention across the blogosphere for his unique songwriting approach. Interestingly, Day’s latest single is the incredibly cinematic “Wide Eyes,” which manages to nod at Joy Division and Brothers in Arms-era Dire Straits, complete with a carefully crafted and anthemic hook that reveals an ambitious songwriter with hopes to take over the world.

New Audio: Introducing the Breezy Synth Funk of Switzerland’s Klaus Johan Grobe

With the release of their Basel Prize-winning Spagat der Liebe, the Swiss electro pop duo Klaus Johann Grobe, comprised of Sevi Landolt and Dani Bachmann quickly received national and international attention for a difficult to pigeonhole, genre-defying sound that meshes elements of electro pop, electronic dance music, komische and others while centered around slinky jazz fusion-like grooves. Adding to a growing profile, the duo with their live backing band have toured with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, The Growers and Temples, and have made festival stops in the US, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Spain and their native Switzerland. 

Interestingly, the Swiss duo’s forthcoming album Du Bist So Symmetrisch is slated for an October 26, 2018 release through  Chicago-based Trouble in Mind Records — and the album reportedly continues in a similar vein as its predecessor. The album’s second and latest single “Discodanken” is a breezy arpeggiated synth-led track centered around a sinuous motorik groove and metronomic beats to create a hypnotic, dance floor friendly yet lysergic feel that brings to mind Vinyl Williams, Kraftwerk, Air and Phoenix; but with a retro-futuristic quality. 

The recently released video by Jonas Baumann is equally retro-futuristic, featuring visuals that remind me quite a bit of the classic computer animated video for Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing,” but while also appearing like cells growing and attacking it other. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Tinariwen Return with a Mournful Meditation on Time, Friendship, and the Tuareg Way of Life in Visuals for Album Single “Nannuflay”

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally renowned Algerian Tuareg pioneers of the Desert Blues, Tinariwen, and as you may recall the act can trace their origins back to the late 1970s when the band’s founding member, guitarist Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, joined a small group of Tuareg rebels living in refugee camps in Libya and Algeria. The group of rebels Ag Alhabib hooked up with had been influenced by radical chaabi protest music of Moroccan groups like Nass El Ghiwane and Jil Jilala, Algerian pop rai, and western artists like Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, Dire Straits, Jimi Hendrix, Boney M, and Bob Marley  — and they started writing music that meshed the traditional folk music of their people with Western rock, reggae and blues-leaning arrangements. Upon relocating to Tamanrasset, Algeria, Ag Alhabib started a band with Alhassane Ag Touhami and brothers Inteyeden Ag Ablil and Liya Ag Ablil that had played traditional Taureg music at various weddings, parties and other occasions across both Algeria and Libya. Interestingly, as the story goes, when the quartet had started, they didn’t have a name; but people across the region, who had seen them play had begun calling them Kel Tinariwen, which in the Tamashek language (the tongue of the Taureg people) translates roughly as “The People of the Deserts” or “The Desert Boys.”

In 1980, Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi issued a decree inviting all young Tuareg men, who were living illegally in Libya to receive full military training, as part of his dream of forming a Saharan regiment, comprised of the best young Tuareg fighters to further his territorial ambitions in Chad, Niger, and elsewhere across Northern Africa. Al Alhabib and his bandmates answered the call and received military training. Whether or not the founding members of the band truly believed in Gaddafi’s military ambitions would be difficult to say — but on a practical level, a steady paycheck to support yourself and your family certainly is an enticement. Five years later, Ag Alhabib, Ag Touhami and the Ag Ablil brothers answered a similar call by leaders of the Libyan Tuareg movement, who desired an autonomous homeland for their people, and wound up meeting fellow musicians Keddou Ag Ossade, Mohammed Ag Itlale (a.k.a “Japonais”), Sweiloum Ag Alhousseyni, Abouhadid Ag Alhousseyni, and Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni — all who had sang and played guitar. At this point, the lineup of Tinariwen was completed and the members of the collective began writing songs about the issues and concerns of their people.

The members of the band built a makeshift studio and then vowed to record and distribute music for free for anyone who supplied them a blank cassette tape. And within a short period of time, their cassettes were a highly sought-after item, and were traded throughout Saharan Africa.

In 1989 the collective had left Libya and relocated to Ag Alhabib’s birthplace of Tessalit, Mali; but by the next year, Mail’s Tuareg population revolted against the Malian government — with some members of the collective participating as rebel fighters in that conflict. After the Tamanrasset Accords were reached and agreed upon in early 1991, the members of Tinariwen, who had fought in the conflict had left the military and devoted themselves to their music full-time. By 1992, some of the members of the band went to Abidjan, Ivory Coast to record a cassette at JBZ Studios, which they followed up with extensive gigs for their fellow Tuaregs across Saharan Africa, which helped furthered the reputation they had developed primarily by word-of-mouth.

A collaboration with renowned French, world music ensemble Lo’Jo helped the members of Tinariwen receive a growing international profile, which included their a live set at  Africa Oye, one of the UK’s largest African music/African Diaspora festival. Building on the increasing buzz, the band released their full-length debut The Radio Tisdas Sessions, which was their first recorded effort to be released outside of Saharan Africa. Since their formation, the collective has gone through a series of lineup changes, incorporating a younger generation of Tuareg musicians, who haven’t fought during the military conflicts of the elders, including bassist Eyadou Ag Leche, percussionist Said Ag Ayad, guitarist Elaga Ag Hamid, guitarist Abdallah Ag Lamida, and vocalists Wonou Walet Sidati and the Walet Oumar sisters.

Despite their lineup changes, Tinariwen has received international acclaim, particularly over the past decade, as they’ve regularly toured across the European Union, North America, Japan and Australia, frequently playing sets at some of the world’s biggest music festivals — including Glastonbury, Coachella, Roskilde, Les Vieilles Charrues, WOMAD, FMM Sines,  Printemps de Bourges and others, as well as some of the world’s best known music venues, as they continued with a sound that evokes the harsh and surreal beauty of their homeland, centered around the poetry and wisdom of a rough and tumble, proud and rebellious people, whose old-fashioned way of life is rapidly disappearing as a result of technology and encroaching Westernization. Along with that, a bloody and contentious series of religious and ethnic wars have splintered several nations across the region — including most recently Mali and Libya, where members of Tinariwen have proudly called home at various points of the band’s existence.  Unsurprisingly, Tinariwen’s latest album Elwan (which translates into English as The Elephants) thematically focuses on the impact of Westernization and technology has had on their people, the band’s life of forced exile, and their longing for their ancestral homeland.

Elwan’s latest single “Nannuflay” is an atmospheric and shuffling blues centered around a hypnotic groove and a gorgeous, looping guitar line that features the renowned pioneers of the Desert Blues collaborating with guitar god Kurt Vile and the imitable, grunge rock pioneer Mark Lanegan, that manages to be a powerful connection between Saharan Africa and the West, and a mournful longing for a past that the song’s narrator knows he cannot have back; but along with that, there’s a tacit acknowledgement that time is passing by — sometimes faster than anyone wants to admit.

Directed by Axel Digoix, the animated video for “Nannuflay” follows an older Tuareg man, who returns to the camp where he grew up for a party. The man remembers both the joys and torments of the nomadic life, he once lived with a friend, who has since died, including childhood memories of life in the sand dunes, the adventures they had as teenagers, the fights, dramas and responsibilities of their adult lives. Throughout the video, the two men’s friendship details the lives of the Tauregs and the duty and obligation they feel towards each other and to passing along as much of the old traditions as humanly possible.

Comprised of Rob Withem (guitar, vocals), Greg Markov (bass) and Thom Walsh (drums), the Phoenix, AZ-based indie rock trio Fine China can trace their origins back to 1997. And soon after their formation, the trio released their first two EPs and a 7 inch through the Southern California-based indie label Velvet Blue Music. The Phoenix-based indie rock act went on to release three more full-length efforts, including 2005’s critically applauded The Jaws of Life, which also had material featured in several TV shows.

Late 2016 saw the 12′ vinyl re-issue of their critically acclaimed The Jaws of Lifewhich interestingly enough saw the release of a bonus track to coincide with a 10 year reunion show; in fact, the bonus was met with critical applause and as a result, the vinyl re-issue quickly sold out. Building upon the growing buzz that surrounded the band again, the band’s first release in 12 years Not Thrilled finds the band returning to their original label home, Velvet Blue Music, who released their debut effort over 20 years ago. Slated for a February 23, 2018 release, the material on their forthcoming album was recorded in Rob Withem’s home studio and mixed by Bob Hoag, their longtime producer and engineer at Flying Blanket Recording in Mesa, AZ.

“Anyone Else,” the first official single off the new album will further cement the band’s long-held reputation for crafting a warmly familiar, shimmering, 120 Minutes-era guitar pop sound with an anthemic hook — and although the band’s Withem says in press notes that “I wanted a sound that harkened back to singles from the mid to late 80s that I heard on the radio as a kid — stuff like Don Henley and Dire Straights. But root it in an elegant guitar pop sound, like XTC or Crowded House,” the song (to my ears, at least) reminds me quite a bit more of The Smiths, which isn’t a bad thing to go for.