Mad Hawkes is a Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, who dubs her sound and aesthetic as “babe rock,” citing Karen O. and Amy Winehouse as influences on her and her work. Interestingly, Hawkes can trace the origins of her music career to an internship at Parts + Labor Records: As the story goes, label head and producer Jimmy Messer, who has worked with AWOLNATION, Kygo, Kelly Clarkson and others encouraged Hawkes to write with an emotional honesty — and as a result. the music she has written since then touches upon angst, heartache, confusion and so on while paired with breezy and upbeat melodies; in fact, Hawkes latest single “Face Pinch” sounds as though it were influenced by JOVM mainstays Rubblebucket, Sylvan Esso and Dirty Ghosts but with a restless energy and thumping beats.
Last month, I wrote about Taleen Kali, an up-and-coming Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician, who’s best known for being a member of TÜLIPS, and as you may recall, after the band broke up, Kali decided go to solo — and within a relatively short period of time, she developed a reputation for being one of her hometown’s next big artists, as she’s opened for the likes of Madame Gandhi and Kimya Dawson, and has played sets at Echo Park Rising Festival, Mothership Festival and Women Fuck Shit Up Fest.
“Half Lie,” the first single off her soon-to-be released Kristin Kontrol-produced EP Soul Songs, has received to attention from the likes of Stereogum and others, and it shouldn’t be surprising as it’s a decidedly New Wave-like take on noise rock that will remind some listeners of Gothic Tropic,Dum Dum Girls, Dirty Ghosts — but while interestingly enough nodding at Go-Gos and others, complete with an infectious, arena rock hook. And much like “Lost & Bound,” “Half Lie” reveals an artist, who can effortlessly walk a tightrope between a slick studio sheen and a scuzzy punk rock air — without feeling contrived or ridiculous.
Centered around a concept devised by its director Leila Jarman, the recently released video is all about bright, springtime colors and as Kali told The Grey Estates, “The video for ‘Half Lie’ is all about floral femme with a punk rock edge…it expands on the theme of the song, which is about half truths we hear from others, and the lies we tell ourselves. In the video, we celebrate the journey into new truths, turning them into ceremonies. The visuals depict lush rituals performed by some of my favorite L.A. artists, Madison René Knapp and Kayla Tange, who lead us up into the grand spiritual unveiling at the end.”
Perhaps best known as a member of Los Angeles-based band TÜLIPS, the singer/songwriter and musician Taleen Kali decided to go solo after the band broke up — and in a relatively short period of time, Kali has developed a reputation as one of her hometown’s up-and-coming talents, as she has opened forthe likes of Madame Gandhi and Kimya Dawson, and has played sets at Echo Park Rising Festival, Mothership Festival and Women Fuck Shit Up Fest. And with the release of “Half Life,” the first single off her forthcoming Kristin Kontrol-produced EP Soul Songs, Kali has begun to receive attention from the likes of Stereogum and others, quickly developing a reputation for a New Wave take on noise rock and punk reminiscent of Gothic Tropic, Dum Dum Girls, Dirty Ghosts and others.
Building upon the growing buzz surrounding her, Kali recently released the EP’s latest single, the anthemic, hook-laden, dance floor friendly “Lost & Bound,” and that the single reveals an artist, who can effortlessly walk a tightrope between a slick studio sheen and a scuzzy punk rock air — without feeling contrived or ridiculous. Interestingly, there’s a subtle hint of triumph over something deeply daunting that adds to the song’s danceable vibe and anthemic hooks; in fact, as Kali explains in press notes, “‘Lost & Bound’ is about finding yourself again after being lost. I wanted to write a song that was really dark but also danceable, so I wrote a dirge dedicated to a ‘lost self,’ and I added a disco beat to add this sense of movement, of celebration, of making it to the other side.”
Kali is playing a handful of live shows in the Los Angeles area over the next few weeks. If you’re in the area, check them out, below.
05.20 – Los Angeles, CA @ Hi Hat (Dum Dum Zine Kickoff Party For L.A. Zine Week)
05.27 – Pasadena, CA @ Pasadena Convention Center (LA Zine Fest)
06.26 – Los Angeles, CA @ Resident (Record Release show)
The Portland, OR-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Jenny Logan may arguably be one of her hometown’s quietly kept and most talented secrets as Logan is a member of grunge of pop trio Loveboys, post-punk act Miss Rayon and guitar pop act Sunbathe, who I recently saw open for Typhoon at Music Hall of Williamsburg (more on that later). Along with that, Logan had a stint playing bass for Summer Cannibals and keyboards for a Seattle-based Rolling Stones cover band. Amazingly, the incredibly busy Logan managed to squeeze in the time to pursue her own singular musical vision with her solo recording project Deathlist, releasing her attention grabbing Deathlist debut last year, an effort which found Logan playing almost every instrument.
Slated for a March 9, 2018 release, Fun, the follow up to her Deathlist debut was written and recorded in the aftermath of the death of her best friend, and as a result, the material focuses on the grief and despair of a seemingly solitary mourner, with its narrator finding herself contending with a harrowing and impossible to answer question: how does one continue a conversation with someone, who will never be there again? And while the ironically titled Fun may feature some of the most achingly personal material that Logan may have arguably ever released, it points to one of the most universal experiences any of us will ever know: someone we love, respect and cherish will die, and we’ll brokenheartedly fumble through some portion of our lives, desperately trying to find some larger meaning to all the lingering ghosts of our pasts — or some convenient closure, when there never really is. Yet, we find a way to push on, to find some beauty and occasionally even acceptance within chaos.
Unsurprisingly with the material focusing on death and loss, Logan’s cites Christian Death, Sisters of Mercy and Suicide as inspiring aspects of the album’s sound, and while you’ll hear hints of that on album single “Charm School,” as Logan pairs buzzing and slashing guitars with throbbing, propulsive bass, forceful, industrial-like drum machines and razor sharp hooks; but I also hear hints of Sixousie and the Banshees, The Cure and Dirty Ghosts as the song manages to channel confusion, sorrow and anger — simultaneously and within a turn of a phrase.
With the release of their first three EPs, Gold, Better Off, and Broken Machine, and their full length debut Palace of Industrial Hope, the San Francisco, CA-based indie rock quintet The New Up — comprised of ES Pitcher (vocals, guitar), Noah Reid (guitar, vocals), Hawk West (automation), Nick Massaro (bass) and Art McConnell (drums) –developed a reputation for genre defying sound that possesses elements of garage rock and electro pop paired with lyrics that focus on philosophical concerns. And while the band has drawn comparisons to Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Kills, their sound reminds me of Dirty Ghosts.
As the story goes, when it came time to start working on the material that would comprise the San Francisco-based quintet’s forthcoming, sophomore effort Tiny Mirrors, the members of the band launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to obtain the necessary funds to create and build their own recording studio, which the band felt was necessary to realize their creative vision for the album — with label or studio interference. Then they covered a secluded Mendocino County, CA barn into a state-of-the-art recording facility and enlisted Jack Frost who has worked with Antartica and BlackRock to produce the recording sessions and Sean Beresford, who has worked with Chuck Prophet, The Donnas and Vanessa Carlton to mix the album.
Now, if you had been frequenting this site towards the end of last year, you may recall that I wrote about album single “Black Swan,” a slinky and slickly produced track in which shimmering and atmospheric electronics, slashing and angular guitar chords and a sinuous bass line are paired with ES Pitcher’s sensual vocals — singing lyrics that reveal the narrator’s urgent, carnal need, the need (and desire) to lose one’s self, if even for a little bit, her increasing frustration with people and human relationships and empty, soulless hookups. But at the core of the song is the sort of loneliness and dissatisfaction that being in a large city frequently inspires within people. The album’s latest single “No Fly Zone” continues on a similar vein as its preceding single as shimmering synths and processed beats are paired with Pitcher’s cooing, shimmering guitar chords in a moody and sensual song that sonically and structurally reminds me of Antics-era Interpol.
Give Up On Your Health’s second and latest single “Turn Turn Turn” much like its predecessor is inspired by a painful breakup — and lyrically, the song is full of the bitter regret, uncertainty, self-deception and gradual acceptance that occurs in the aftermath of a breakup, while sonically speaking, the song draws from 80s New Wave, synth pop and the DFA Records roster. Or in other words, undulating and propulsive synths are paired with cowbell-led percussion, angular guitar chords in a sensual and slinky arrangement, along with an infectious, dance-floor friendly hook. And somehow, every time I’ve heard it I’m reminded of Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll.”
The recently released video for the song turns the simple act of eating into something surreal, disgusting and detached and mechanical — and perhaps in some way, the video’s actors are deluding themselves into this being normal.
The album’s latest single “Black Swan” is a slinky and slickly produced track in which shimmering and atmospheric electronics, slashing and angular guitar chords and a sinuous bass line are paired with ES Pitcher’s sensual vocals — singing lyrics that reveal the narrator’s urgent, carnal need, the need (and desire) to lose one’s self, if even for a little bit, her increasing frustration with people and human relationships and empty, soulless hookups. And at the core of the song is the growing loneliness that being in a large city can inspire in all of us.
Directed by Hassan Said, the recently released, sensual video for the song was shot in one continuous take and is inspired by a true (and very fucked up) story — and it features a couple of incredibly cinematic sequences including the video’s incredibly drunk protagonist stumbling around a bar and club while on the verge of vomiting and being followed by an (presumably) obsessed and deranged woman, who fakes being attacked to bring the object of her obsession closer to her.
Earlier this summer, I wrote about the Melbourne, Australia-based indie rock quartet Teeth and Tongue With the 2014 release of Grids, the band comprised of New Zealand-born, Melbourne, Australia-based Jess Cornelius (guitar, vocals), Marc Regueiro-McKelvie (guitar), Damian Sullivan (bass) and James Harvey (drums) received attention across Australia for an ambient-leaning sound that paired textured and layered vocals with lyrics that thematically focused on the intricacies of romantic relationships with an unvarnished honesty. And as a result of the attention they’ve received across Australia, they’ve managed to tour with internationally recognized indie rock sensation and fellow Australian Courtney Barnett, which has helped raised their profile internationally.
“Dianne,” the first single off Teeth and Tongue’s recently released album Give Up On Your Health revealed a band that has gone through a change in sonic direction and songwriting approach, with the band taking up an angular, dance floor friendly New Wave/post-punk sound reminiscent of Blondie, Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ It’s Blitz! and Dirty Ghosts. Give Up On Your Health’s latest single “Turn, Turn, Turn” much like its predecessor is inspired by a painful breakup — in particular, the song lyrically is full of the bitter regret, uncertainty, self-deception and eventual acceptance that occurs in the aftermath of a breakup. Sonically speaking, the song sounds as though it draws from 80s New Wave, synth pop and DFA Records as you’ll hear undulating and propulsive synths, cowbell-led percussion, angular guitar chords in a sensual and slinky arrangement, along with an infectious, dance-floor friendly hook. Somehow, every time I’ve heard it I’m reminded of Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll.”
“Dianne,” the first single off the Melbourne-based quartet’s forthcoming album Give Up On Your Health reveals a band that has gone through a change in sonic direction — with the band taking up an angular, dance floor friendly New Wave/post-punk sound reminiscent of Blondie, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ It’s Blitz! and Dirty Ghosts as the Australian band pairs angular guitar chords, ambient synths, a propulsive rhythm section and anthemic hook with Cornelius’ sultry vocals. Lyrically, the song describes a character that went through something traumatic when she was small, and it’s an event that not only lingers but finds ways to reverberate in every aspect of her life — and Cornelius does so with a novelist’s attention to psychological detail and rapidly changing mental states of a troubled teen/young woman.
The recently released music video features the members of the band playing and goofing off in what clearly appears to be a young woman’s bedroom and it evokes both a playfulness and a brooding darkness that’s just starting to brew.