Tag: Echo and the Bunnymen

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Secret Shame Releases a “120 Minutes” MTV-Inspired Visual for Anthemic and Shimmering New Single

Over the past 15-18 months or so, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Asheville, NC-based goth/post-punk act and JOVM mainstays Secret Shame. Founded in 2016, the act — currently, Lena (vocals), Nathan (drums), Matthew (bass) and Billie (guitar) has been centered around its members desperate need to create, “If I couldn’t sing or play music, I would tear my skin off.” the band’s front person Lena explained in press notes. Shortly after their formation, the band released their self-titled debut EP, which helped established their dark and atmospheric sound — while the material thematically touched upon domestic rabuse, mental health, political and social dissatisfaction and frustration.

The Asheville-based JOVM mainstays’ full-length debut Dark Synthetics was released to critical acclaim last year — and the album find the band expanding upon their sound, crafting material that seemed indebted to both Siouxsie and the Banshees and 4AD Records. Building upon the growing momentum surrounding the band since the release of their debut, the members of Secret Shame have released a series of Dark Synthetics remixes as a teasers while they were returning to the studio to record new music. 

Throughout their relatively short history together, they’ve developed a reputation for an ever-changing songwriting process centered around a collective songwriting approach. The end result is that it allows the band to not allow themselves to be pigeonholed into a single subgenere of goth or post-punk. Interestingly, Secret Shame’s latest single “Dissolve” finds the band turning towards a completely new sound while managing to evoke the same feeling and vibe of their previously released material. There’s clear nods to Joy Division, New Order, and Echo and the Bunnymen on this one — with a tiniest of nods to The Smiths here: the song features shimmering guitars, rapid-fire four-on-the-floor, enormous and rousingly anthemic hooks and Lena singing with a plaintive earnestness. It’s arguably their most gorgeous sounding song they’ve released to date, but underneath the shimmer, is a hardened bitterness and dark thematic concerns that have won the band attention. As the band’s Lena says of the song, “A cathartic break from a bad situation, but a gateway to something still destructive. What are the benefits of nobody knowing what’s on your mind? What are the drawbacks?”

Visually, the recently released video for “Dissolve” seemed indebted to 120 Minutes-era MTV with tape hiss and nods at Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Lips Like Sugar” and “The Killing Moon,” among others that immediately come to my mind. 

“Dissolve” will appear on a self-released 7 inch that will be release don June 5, 2020. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Other Lives Release an Intimate and Gorgeous Tribute to a Lost Friend

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the acclaimed Portland, OR-based indie rock act and JOVM mainstays Other Lives. Initially formed in Stillwater, OK in 2004, the band wrote, recorded and released an album under the name Kunek but a decided change in sonic direction and songwriting approach necessitated a re-branding.  Since the band renamed themselves, they’ve released their critically applauded sophomore album, 2015’s Rituals, which helped establish their sound — a lushly cinematic and orchestral sound that frequently draws comparisons to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The National and Ocean Rain-era Echo and the Bunnymen among others.

Now, as you may recall, the JOVM mainstays’ highly-anticipated, self-produced, third full-length album For Their Lives is slated fro an April 24, 2020 release through ATO Records. Deriving its title from one of the earlier songs the band wrote for the album, Other Lives’ third album reportedly finds the members of the band reconnecting with the rural life they had known as children. Before the writing and recording of For Their Lives, the band’s frontman Jesse Tabish and his wife Kim Tabish left Portland and rented a friend’s A-frame home in Oregon’s Cooper Mountain region, surrounded by towering trees — and no neighbors in site. “Something about the title feels both inclusive and also of a larger scene,” explains Other Lives’ primary songwriter and frontman Jesse Tabish. “The song also embodied the direction we wanted to take.”

Naturally, the bucolic setting wound up heavily inspiring the album. “My wife, Kim, and I moving to this house and making a new life and music together was a huge part of this record,” Jesse Tabish says in press notes. “I found there was too much distraction in Portland, but here we could dedicate ourselves to work. I found that I returned to my music vocabulary in a natural way, using certain types of chords or keys, and also the way I sing. Living with roommates in Portland, I was too shy to sing in front of them. But here, I felt free.” Interestingly, that sense of freedom and togetherness carried over to the way the album was written and recorded: the album is arguably the most collaborative effort they trio has written to date — and it includes contributions from drummer Danny Reisch, who appeared on Rituals and backing vocals from Jesse Tabish’s wife Kim. “We really set out to make a band record,” Tabish says.

As the album’s material came together, they went towards a much different creative approach than its immediate predecessor: the band avoided re-working and refining tracks, instead choosing to record different arrangements of songs “to capture the vibe of something more instant,” Tabish explains. “We were adamant that For Their Love would have no tricks and nothing to hide behind, which we’d been doing psychologically, as well as as musically. We wanted ten songs that held up by themselves.” This was partially inspired by Jesse Tabish’s personal efforts to emerge from “hiding” and re-engaging with the outside world by “getting real with myself.” as he puts it. Before and during the writing and recording sessions, the band — who are also lifelong friends — had a number of ongoing conversations about the current state of our world. And as a result, the album’s material thematically questions, observes, laments and hopefully finds the slightest hope in the individual and ourselves. “Characters sometimes venture into spiritual, religious or institutionalized endeavors — though I’ve personally found that self-worth is more important than any teachings or preaching,” Tabish says.

Last month, I wrote about the rousingly anthemic album single “Hey Hey I.” Arguably one of the most politically charged songs of their growing catalog, the song is a forceful commentary on our contemporary world: at the core is the realization that the American Dream that so many hard-working Joes and Janes have bought and sold for generations is a lie. For Their Love’s latest single “We Wait” continues a remarkable run of cinematic material, but centered around a fearlessly unadulterated intimacy. It’s one of many songs in which Tabish digs deep and gets uncomfortably real, with the song finding Tabish publicly confronting one of the darkest corners of his life for the first time. 

“When I was 15, I formed the All American Rejects. This was my high school band,” Other Lives’ Jesse Tabish writes in an statement on the song’s backstory. “Always there in our everyday life were Tommy and Jennifer, a member’s older sister and brother-in-law. Tommy was the older brother I never had. Kind and wise, he was my mentor and family to me. 

Tommy was shot and killed at the age of 25, on the morning of 30th November. Jennifer, his wife, had hired his murderer.

This event completely devastated and shattered my reality. I quit the Rejects and was very lost. I soon found the piano and started moving towards a deeper place inside, artistically, which has shaped me to this day. For many years, I had avoided this trauma and couldn’t touch the subject. I pushed it out, only for it to haunt me more recently.

Writing this song is the way for me to heal and remember my old pal, Tommy.” 

Much like Reliant Tom’s “Never Mind the Garbage,” “We Wait” manages to be more prescient in a way that its creators could never have imagined. These are dark and very dire times. Many of us are aware of the fact that the end result of the COVID-19 pandemic will be a new and terrifying reality of profound and inescapable loss, economic destruction and hopelessness that will force us to look deep within ourselves. 

New Video: Vancouver’s SPECTRES Return with an Anthemic and Nostalgic Take on Post Punk

Over the past few months, I’ve written quite a bit about the Vancouver-based post-punk act SPECTRES. Since its formation back in 2005 by frontman Brian Gustavson, the band has been widely cited as being one of the acts responsible for kicking off Canada’s rented interest in the post-punk sound. Initially, inspired by the British anarcho-punk scene of the late 70s and early 80s, the Vancouver-based post punk outfit meshed that scene’s ethos with punk stylings and an unerring knack for crating hook-driven and anthemic material. Interestingly, over the past few years of their existence, the band’s sound as gradually evolved, as they increasingly incorporated elements of New Wave and punk. 

“The band started as a way to creatively explore 1980s British anarcho-punk and while creatively we have drifted in new directions, this core influence still holds a lot of inspiration for us,” the band’s Zach Batalden  (guitar) says in press notes. Bands like The Mob, Crisis, Crass and Zounds are all still very important for us. From there we took a deep interest in ’80s post-punk and new wave with bands like The Sound, The Chameleons, Theatre of Hate and Modern English, central to the way our sound has developed.”

Now, as you may recall, the Vancouver-based post-punk act’s Jason Corbett-produced album Nostalgia was released last month through Artoffact Records, and the album thematically touches upon the alienation of modern life and the search for hope in an increasingly terrifying world. “Deepening political partisanship, aging, and finding one’s own way through alienating times are common themes the on the Nostalgia LP,” says Batalden. Sonically, the material fnds the band continuing their ongoing exploration of a decidedly post-punk like sound with Gustavon’s plaintive and melodic vocals ethereally floating over chiming guitars and propulsive beats. “For the new album, Nostalgia, we were listening to a lot of Flying Nun bands like The Bats, The Verlaines and The Clean as well,” Batalden adds.

Last month, I wrote about album single “Years of Lead,” a decidedly New Order-like track centered around shimmering and jangling bursts of angular guitars, four-on-the-floor drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. Continuing a run of anthemic post-punk, the album’s latest single “When Possessed Pray” manages to sound as though it were a uncannily slick synthesis of Joy Division and early Echo and the Bunnymen, complete with rousingly anthemic hooks and deceptively anachronistic production that pulls the song’s aching nostalgia to the forefront.

The recently released video features glitchy and stuttering black and white footage of the band in their hometown and performing the song in a suburban looking house. And although they be cooler than you, there’s this sense that their band could very well have been the band you tried to start in high school.  

Back in 1990, the mysterious San Diego-based act The Cry quietly released Beautiful Reasons. Several songs off Beautiful Reasons were included in the H-Street Skateboards’ video Hokus Pokus, which was also released that year. The band started to increasingly attention and were being courted by a major label — and then they did something completely unexpected: they disappeared without much of a trace.

Although at the time, Beautiful Reasons only had a limited cassette release, the album has  grown in stature among their original fans while attracting new fans. Centered around heartfelt vocals, jangling and shimmying guitars, upbeat drumming and propulsive bass lines, the album has become a cult favorite among jangle pop and indie rock circles. Interestingly, over the years Hokus Pokus has become regarded as arguably one of the most iconic skateboard videos ever made — with its soundtrack highly praised.

Beautiful Reasons was recently uploaded onto the digital streaming platforms — and naturally that has brought increased attention back to the album and to the band. Encouraged and empowered by their fans and supporters, the members of The Cry quietly reunited in 2017. And since their reunion, the band has released a string of new material that has cemented their-long held reputation for crafting upbeat, earnest, hook-driven material — but with a heightened self-assuredness and confidence. 30 years after the release of their seminal album, the band will be releasing a string of singles and are currently working on a full-length album that’s tentatively slated for release later this year.

In the meantime, the San Diego-based act’s latest single “This Hazy Morning” is a anthemic hook-driven bit of jangle pop centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, mellifluous, earnestly yearning vocals and a propulsive rhythm section, the song manages to bring Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here-era Echo and the Bunnymen — and with a similar, swaggering self-assuredness.

 

 

 

 

New Video: Watch the Members of Rising Aussie Indie Act RVG Star in a Troma Films-like Horror Film

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about Adelaide, Australia-born Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter Romy Vager and her rapidly rising band RVG. Now, as you may recall Vager was a teenaged goth kid runaway who left her hometown of Adelaide and headed to Melbourne. Upon her arrival in her new city, Vager joined her first band Sooky La La, a project that crafter material centered around anger and discordance — and as a result, the band was largely misunderstood, routinely cleared rooms and never found much of a following. Eventually, the band split up. But it resulted in Vager committing herself to write songs that people would actually listen and listen to by attempting to do what countless other aspiring songwriters try (and hope to) do: match feelings of alienation, loneliness, heartbreak and feeling misunderstood with introspection, melody and rousing and soul-stirring hooks and refrains. 

For a while, Vager wound up living at The Bank, an erstwhile recording, rehearsal and performance space that took over an old bank building in Preston, Australia, a suburb about six miles from Melbourne. The Bank was a scene unto itself, featuring a handful of bands that would soon become acclaimed, including Jalala, Gregor and Hearing, who at the time, all played, practiced and lived there. Living in such a space, surrounded by musicians, who were constantly working and honing their work was profoundly inspiring to Vager. 

In September 2015, Vager launched a tape of solo material that hadn’t actually been pressed and landed her first solo show at The Bank’s downstairs performance space. For her live solo debut, Vager recruited Drug Sweat’s and The Galaxy Folk’s Angus Bell, her Bank neighbor, Gregor’s and Hearing’s Reuben Bloxham and Rayon Moon’s Marc Nolte to be a one-off backing band. But once they began playing together, they all realized — without ever having to say it aloud — that they needed to continue as a band. Shortly after that show, they initially formed as Romy Vager Group before shortening it to RVG.

RVG’s 2017 full-length debut A Quality of Mercy was recorded live off the floor at Melbourne’s beloved and iconic rock ‘n’ roll pub, The Tote Hotel. Initially released to little fanfare — no press releases, no music videos, no press photos of the band or any significant press push, the album’s material was heavily inspired by The Go-Betweens, The Soft Boys and The Smiths and prominently featured Vager’s passionate and achingly vulnerable vocals. Much to the band’s surprise, their full-length debut received attention and praise across their native Australia and elsewhere. The album caught the attention of Fat Possum Records, who signed the band and re-issued A Quality of Mercy, which led to a much larger profile internationally.

Building upon a growing profile, the band then went on world tours with Shame and Kurt Vile. Late last year, the band released the Victor Van Vugt-produced single “Alexandria.” Written as a response to the immediate aftermath of Brexit and Trump, the song is appropriately urgent and ardent. Featuring jangling guitars, pummeling drums, a rousingly anthemic hook and Vager’s earnestly plaintive and gravely howl, the song finds the band gaining a subtle studio sheen but without scrubbing the grit and honesty that has won them attention.

COVID-19 pandemic has put the entire known world on an uneasy and indefinite hiatus but the band still hopes that this year will be a momentous year for them: earlier this year, they signed to Fire Records, who will be releasing their highly-anticipated sophomore album Feral on April 24, 2020 throughout the world — excluding Australia and New Zealand, where the album will be released through their longtime label home Our Golden Friend. Immediately after signing to Fire Records, the band released Feral’s second single, the devastatingly earnest and heartbreaking ballad “I Used to Love You.” Centered around a universal tale of suffering in the aftermath of an embittering breakup, the song’s proud and defiant narrator reclaims herself and her life — but while acknowledging that something important to her and her life story had to come to an end. 

Feral’s second and latest single “Christian Neurosurgeon” is a decidedly New Wave-like song centered around shimmering and jangling guitars, enormous and rousingly anthem hooks and Vager’s guttural growl — and while sonically recalling Heaven Up Here-era Echo and the Bunnymen, the song as Vager explains in press notes is “a very simple song about cognitive dissonance. It’s not just a song about bagging Christianity, it’s more about how we have to hold onto certain ideas to be able to survive, even if they’re not true.” 

Directed by Lazy Susan Productions’ Caity Moloney and Tom Mannion, the recently released video for “Christian Neurosurgeon” is a twisted Troma Films-like nightmare that features each of the band’s members: Romy Vager playing a brain that refuses to die, Marc Nolte as a demented and mad scientist and Reubean Bloxham and Isabele Wallace as his faithful and unquestioning assistants. 

“The video was very fun to make for us and hopefully the band too — even though we put them in some pretty weird situations,” Lazy Productions’ Caity Moloney and Tom Mannion recall in press notes. “We just embraced the song and went full surgical horror, using hand developed black and white 16mm film so the video feels almost as lo fi as the medical operation RVG are running in it. It was shot by our DOP Jesse Gohier-Fleet, who did an amazing job making every frame as spooky as possible. We’ve watched the video a lot and still laugh every time so thanks to RVG for bringing the comedy gold!”

New Video: Other Lives Release a Cinematic Visual for Anthemic and Politically Charged Single “Hey Hey I”

Initially formed in Stillwater, OK in 2004, the acclaimed Portland, OR-based indie rock act Other Lives wrote, recorded and released an album under the Kunek, but a decidedly change in sonic direction and songwriting approach necessitated a re-branding. And since renaming themselves Other Lives, the band has released critically applauded material, including their sophomore album 2015’s Rituals, which further cemented their sound, a lush, cinematic and orchestrated sound that would likely draw comparisons to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The National and Ocean Rain-era Echo and the Bunnymen among others. 

Other Lives’ highly-anticipated, self-produced, third full-length album For Their Lives is slated for an April 24, 2020 release through ATO Records. Deriving its title from one of the earlier songs the band wrote for the album, the Portland area-based band’s third album reportedly finds the members of the band reconnecting with the rural life they had grown up. Before the writing and recording of For Their Lives, the band’s frontman Jesse Tabish and his wife Kim Tabish left Portland and rented a friend’s A-frame home in Oregon’s Cooper Mountain region, surrounded by towering trees — and no neighbors in site. “Something about the title feels both inclusive and also of a larger scene,” explains Other Lives’ primary songwriter and frontman Jesse Tabish. “The song also embodied the direction we wanted to take.”

Naturally, the bucolic setting wound up heavily inspiring the album. “My wife, Kim, and I moving to this house and making a new life and music together was a huge part of this record,” Jesse Tabish says in press notes. “I found there was too much distraction in Portland, but here we could dedicate ourselves to work. I found that I returned to my music vocabulary in a natural way, using certain types of chords or keys, and also the way I sing. Living with roommates in Portland, I was too shy to sing in front of them. But here, I felt free.” Interestingly, that sense of freedom and togetherness carried over to the way the album was written and recorded: the album is arguably the most collaborative effort they trio has written to date — and it includes contributions from drummer Danny Reisch, who appeared on Rituals and backing vocals from Jesse Tabish’s wife Kim. “We really set out to make a band record,” Tabish says. 

As the album’s material came together, they went towards a much different creative approach than its immediate predecessor: the band avoided re-working and refining tracks, instead choosing to record different arrangements of songs “to capture the vibe of something more instant,” Tabish explains. “We were adamant that For Their Love would have no tricks and nothing to hide behind, which we’d been doing psychologically, as well as as musically. We wanted ten songs that held up by themselves.” This was partially inspired by Jesse Tabish’s personal efforts to emerge from “hiding” and re-engaging with the outside world by “getting real with myself.” as he puts it. Before and during the writing and recording sessions, the band — who are also a lifelong friends — had a number of ongoing conversations about the current state of our world. And as a result, the album’s material thematically “question, observe, lament and hopefully find the slightest hope in the individual and ourselves. Characters sometimes venture into spiritual, religious or institutionalized endeavors — though I’ve personally found that self-worth is more important than any teachings or preaching,” Tabish says. 

For Their Lives’ latest single is the anthemic “Hey Hey I.” Centered around a cinematic arrangement featuring enormous sing and shout along worthy hooks, strummed guitar, shimmering and soaring strings, twinkling keys and xylophone and choir-like backing vocals, the song manages to be the most direct and forceful they’ve written to date, while retaining the cinematic quality that has won them attention. But while being anthemic, the song lyrically addresses the paradigm of the downtrodden and broken working class. At the song’s core, there’s the realization that the American Dream that hard-working Joes and Janes have been sold and bought is a lie. Certainly, with the impact of COVID-10 on countless people we know and love, that realization is coming in with a starkly dire focus. 

The recently released video for “Hey Hey I” is a gorgeously cinematic black-and-white visual shot at the A-frame studio in the Cooper Mountains, where the band recorded the album. “The video is a reflection of the recording process of the album, that took place in the A-frame in the woods,” says frontman Jesse Tabish. “We wanted to portray this process in a natural, organic way, without telling a story but rather showing glimpses of us working together as well as coming together with friends.” 

New Audio: British Indie Act Beat Hotel Releases a Shimmering 80s New Wave-Inspired Single

Split between Brighton, UK and Plymouth, UK, the rising British indie rock act Beat Hotel, which features current and former members of The June Brides, The Loft, The Weather Prophets, Distractions, Mudlow, Mojo Fins and Lolita Storm can trace its origins to when its founding members — The June Brides’, The Distractions’ and The Granite Shore’s Arash Torabi and Paul Pascoe met after a 1988 The Jasmine Minks show.  (Interestingly, many years later, the first Beat Hotel single featured a guest vocal spot from The Jasmine Minks’ frontman Jim Shepherd.) 

Developing a strong live presence in their local scene, the act managed to record a number of demos,  but they didn’t officially release anything until 2013 — the “Best of Our Years”/”The Fire,” double A-side 7 inch, which featured The Loft’s and The Weather Prophets’ Dave Morgan (drums), who then became a permanent member of the band. 

Slated for a January 31, 2020 release through Occultation Records, the band’s long-awaited self-titled EP was recorded at Hove, UK’s Church Road Studios by the band’s Paul Pascoe and features five originals written by Pascoe and a cover of The Wishing Stones’ “Beat Girl.” The EP features guest spots from The June Brides’ Frank Sweeney, who contributes strings and piano and former Mojo Fins member Stephen Brett (guitar), who releases material as a solo artist under the moniker SJ Brett. “Every now and again, we produce something that’s very special to us. These forays into the physical world are usually inspired by a collaboration,” Beat Hotel’s Paul Pascoe says in press notes about the band’s self-titled EP. “This time it was driven by an unexpected creative surge due to the sudden and shocking end of a relationship. I felt like I had to relearn everything about how to be in the world and look seriously at who I actually am. I found comfort in the music that had given me a sense of belonging the first time around. The Jesus & Mary Chain, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Weather Prophets…these songs and songwriters, so familiar to my psyche, were there again to drag me to safety.”

“This collection of songs is about love and near-death and confronting the very worst aspects of ourselves, facing down those inner demons, the fears that haunt us and our deepest, darkest secrets,” Pascoe says of the EP’s material. “And… with one of the tracks beginning its recording journey in 1997 and getting its final guitar overdub and mix in 2019 (in all its 3 minutes 14 seconds of rock’n’roll glory), this record is also a tribute to the awesome power of getting shit done.”

The EP’s latest single “Bury It Deep” is a propulsive and upbeat, hook-driven song centered around layers of shimmering guitars that immediately brings Starfish-era The Church, early-to-mid 80s Echo and the Bunnymen (i.e., Crocodiles, Heaven Up Here and Ocean Rain), The Dream Syndicate and others, as it hints at radio psych rock, New Wave and post-punk in an uncanny period specific fashion. But the song isn’t just another  soulless homage to a classic and beloved sound we’ve grown up with; at its core, the song finds it narrator trying to maneuver a confusing and uncertain world while facing their own demons.

New Video: Mark Lanegan Releases a Hallucinogenic Visual for “Night Flight to Kabul”

Over the past few years, I’ve spilled a fair share of virtual ink covering Mark Lanegan, the Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, known as the frontman and founding member of Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees, and an acclaimed solo artist, who has collaborated with an eclectic array of artists and bands — including  Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain on an unreleased Lead Belly cover/tribute album recorded before the release of Nevermind; as a member of the renowned grunge All-Star supergroup/side project Mad Season with Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready; as a member of  Queens of the Stone Age featured on five of the band’s albums — 2000’s Rated R, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, 2007’s Era Vulgaris and 2013’s . . . Like Clockwork; with The Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins; as well as former Belle and Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell on three albums. Additionally, Lanegan has contributed or guested on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley-Bird, Creature with the Atom Brain, Moby, Bomb the Bass, Soulsavers, Greg Dulli’s The Twilight Singers, UNKLE and others.

As a solo artist, Lanegan has released 10 critically applauded albums that have seen a fair amount of commercial success. (Ironically, his solo work has seen much more commercial success than his work with Screaming Trees.) The Ellensburg-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay’s tenth solo album Gargoyle was a collaboration between him, British-born and-based musician Rob Marshall and longtime collaborator, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Alain Johannes. That album’s material was both an expansion and refinement of the Krautrock-tinged blues of his two preceding albums  2012’s Blues Funeral and 2014’s Phantom Radio.

Somebody’s Knocking, Lanegan’s 11th full-length solo album is slated for an October 18, 2019 release through Heavenly Recordings, and the album’s material finds the acclaimed singer/songwriter turning to some of his most formative musical influences and loves — electronic music. “I’ve always been into electronic music since I was a kid,” Lanegan says in press notes. “I think the reason those elements have become more obvious in my music is that my tastes have changed as I’ve grown older. The bulk of what I listen to now is electronic. Alain Johannes and I had actually written “Penthouse High” for Gargoyle but then it didn’t really fit on that record. I have been a huge fan of New Order and Depeche Mode forever and have wanted to do a song along those lines for a long time – a blatantly catchy, old-school dance-type song.”

Although Somebody’s Knocking came together during an 11 day session in Los Angeles, much of the album’s deepest musical influences are decidedly European, including the album’s two other writing partners Martin Jenkins, who records as Pye Corner Audio and the aforementioned Rob Marshall, who contribute some newer, murkier forms. Reportedly, Lanegan approached working with each of the album’s writing partners from the perspective and lens of a fan and interpreter. 

Lyrically speaking, the album purportedly sets the listener down multiple rabbit holes, as Lanegan paints psychedelic pictures inspired by the music. “I feel like I write lyrics instinctively. I let the melody come first and then it tells me what the words are going to be and I write whatever feels appropriate,” Lanegan says in press notes. “That said, I’m also influenced by everything I’m into. I don’t usually like to talk about what a song means to me; I prefer that the people who connect with a song do so with their own interpretation. It never crossed my mind what Neil Young meant by After The Gold Rush, only the personal movie it created in my head. My entire life, all the music that I’ve connected to has drawn me in like that. Joy Division, Nick Drake, Son House, The 13th Floor Elevators, The Gun Club… all the music that meant the most to me, the music that saved my life was the music that told my own story back to me.”

Naturally, some aspects of the real world can’t help but seep their way into the album’s material. “It seems to me that the entire world is in a weird, precarious place right now,” the Ellensburg-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “I try to not be someone in a constant state of worry and alarm but watching the massive divide that is taking place and the political situations, especially in the US and UK makes me think, ‘what the fuck are these idiots thinking?’ The hatred, racism and all this other fear-driven shit, these ‘adults’ that continually drive the machine that perpetuates this ignorance to their own ends should all be in the prison cells instead of the non-violent drug “offenders” in them now. I can’t specifically say how any of this effects my writing but I know that most of the things that occupy my thoughts have a way of coming back out in a song.”

Now, as you may recall, I wrote about the bluesy-Heaven Up Here-era Echo and the Bunnymen-like “Letter Never Sent.” The album’s latest single “Night Flight to Kabul” may arguably one of  be the album’s more dance floor friendly tracks, as it’s centered around thumping, four-on-the-floor drumming, rumbling bass lines, shimmering and skronky guitars, a tight motorik groove and Lanegan’s imitable croon. In some way, the song will likely remind listeners a bit of a bluesy take on the likes of Gary Numan and New Order. But lyrically, the song evokes a hallucinatory and surrealist fever dream, in which things aren’t quite what they seem. 

Directed by Dean Karr, the recently released video for “Night Flight to Kabul” is a hallucinogenic and feverish dream. ‘“The artistry and genius of Dean Karr is what made this video happen,” Mark Lanegan says in press notes. “5,000 still photographs taken in eight hours were painstakingly put together to give the appearance of a strange wraithlike figure moving weirdly through the desolate landscape of the Salton Sea. My third video with Dean in three different decades and I have to say this was the best. The most artistically challenging and satisfying.”

“We had been talking about doing this video for ‘Night Flight to Kabul’ for a month or two and my only concern was how could I pull this off with such a challenging budget for my friend?” The video’s director, Dean Karr adds in press notes. “Being a photographer before I was ever a director, I decided to use my Nikon D810 still camera for the entire music video and turn it into animation throughout the entire clip. What a simple solution! There’s lots of post work involved, which was done by editor and FX artist Joel Nathaniel Smith. There’s alot to be said for the simplicity of working WITHOUT a crew, it was just Mark, myself and a fan of Mark’s (Jason Hall) who drove 3 hours out of his way to meet us at the The Salton Sea, CA to help us shoot a beyond unique video! I think this is one of the freshest looking things out there today and love the ‘melty’ moments, which remind me of doing hallucinogenics back in the day!”