Tag: experimental pop

New Video: New York Indie All-Star Act Releases an Uneasy and Menacing Visual for Geoff Barrow-like “Calls Your Name”

Formed last year, Activity is a New York-based avant/experimental act featuring Grooms’ Travis Johnson (vocals, sampler) and Steve Levine (drums), Field Mouse’s Zoe Browne (bass) and Russian Baths’ Jess Rees that discard the more weary connotations of indie rock through a natural, minimalist and intelligent use of modern implements paired with organic instrumentation. 

Their Jeff Berner-produced full-length debut Unmask Whoever is slated for a March 27, 2020 release through Western Vinyl. The forthcoming album’s material reportedly sees its creators’ abilities gel with one another to reach new levels of interplay and fruitful cooperation while sonically forming a menacing and uneasy framework to touch upon lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws and the broader human capacity for growth when an ugly truth is laid bare. The album’s first single “Calls Your Name” is centered around an atmospheric, uneasy and menacing Geoff Barrow-like production featuring woozy and shimmering synth arpeggios, and a relentless stuttering beat paired with half-song half-spoken lyrics inspired by C.S. Lewis’ 1945 novel The Great Divorce. In the novel, characters stuck in a grey, joyless conception of hell repeatedly deny opportunities to be taken into heaven, instead making excuses as to why they should remain in their embittered purgatory states. 

The recently released video captures this seemingly unending sensation of unease as it captures the band members in what seems to be their own personal purgatory. 

Advertisements

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Lake Jons Releases a Cinematic and Brooding Meditation on Life

Since their formation in 2014, the Helsinki, Finland-based JOVM mainstays Lake Jons, comprised of Jooel Jons and Mikko Pennanen have managed to walk a fine line between production tandem and full-fledged band, while crafting delicate, electro folk-leaning dream pop. Last year’s self-titled debut, which was released to praise across Scandinavia and elsewhere was written and recorded in an isolated cabin, deep within the Finnish forest. Thematically and sonically, their self-titled debut found the duo aiming to examine, capture, and represent the tenuous connection that still exists between the natural world and the human world.

Lake Jons’ sophomore album The Coast was released earlier this year, and the album finds the duo further reconnecting with their roots and delving even deeper into the Towars Forest. The album thematically is the duo’s attempting to dismantle life, space and time; but sonically, the Finnish JOVM mainstays radically reinventing their sound: the material is generally centered around rough instrumental parts, then layered with harmony-driven toplines, with the songs seemingly assembling themselves in seamless fashion. 

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written about three of the album’s previously released singles — “It’s Too Bright,” “Simone,” and “Human.” All of these tracks have managed to further cemented the duo’s unusual and forward-thinking approach to contemporary pop. “It’s Too Bright,” which was built around a sparse production  of twinkling keys, shimmering hi-hats, boom-bap like beats, a driving bass line and Jooel Jons’ plaintive falsetto was a seamless meshing of elements of R&B, electro pop,  jazz, folk and experimental pop while retaining the infectious hooks that won them attention across the blogosphere. “Simone” was centered around a hazy and dusty production of strummed guitar,  fluttering and arpeggiated synths, wobbling low end and stuttering beats. And while continuing  to be a perfect vehicle for Jons’ plaintive falsetto, the song was imbued with a sense of loss, longing and the acknowledgement that there are some connections that seem to transcend physical space and time itself. “Human” was a haunting and lingering fever dream, that found the JOVM mainstays walking a fine line between careful and deliberate craft and stream of consciousness-like improvisation. 

The album’s fourth and final single is the hushed  and haunting “Circle.” Centered around a sparse arrangement of strummed guitar, thumping beats, atmospheric electronics and Jons’ achingly tender vocals. But unlike its predecessors, the song is a brooding mediation on existence and its delicacy. “Circle is such a complete shape,” Jons says in press notes. “The essence of existence is so full of intricacies, both delicate and powerful, and the circle of life is among them. It’s something that is maintained, even through humanity’s efforts to break everything. The song tells a small story about a boy, who lived by the waters of Lake Jons, and one day decided to leave the words. It’s a letter to a  dear friend: life is a mysterious circle.” 

“Directed by Raimo Saba, the video does a great job of portraying the theme of the song,” Jons says of the recently released video for “Circle.” “I have my uncle Pekka, who is an actor, featured which makes this video a little more personal to me. Seeing the finished version for the first time, it almost allowed me to gain a new perspective and experience of the song. Raimo has managed to capture and convey the emotions interwoven in the song.”

The video’s director Raimo Saba adds,  “Thinking about freedom in itself brings with it subconscious limitations. I think the concept of freedom is more valuable than one can even understand. It is not just an external concept. It is bound to be a state of yourself and where outside factors have no effect on your state of being.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Crywolf Releases a Haunting and Eerie Visual for “Adah [Fawn]”

If you’ve been frequenting this site for the past couple of years of its nine-plus year history, you’ve probably come across a post featuring  the Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumetnalist and producer Justin Taylor Phillips — and his acclaimed solo recording project Crywolf. 

Phillips’ latest Crywolf album widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. II] was released earlier this year to critical praise from the likes of The FADER, Alternative Press and idobi Radio. widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. II] finds the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer further cementing his growing reputation for pushing boundaries in every aspect of his art. The album’s latest single “Adah [Fawn]” is a haunting and gorgeous track, centered around a sparse arrangement featuring strummed acoustic guitar, Philips’ achingly plaintive and tender vocals. 

The recently released video for “Adah [Fawn]” continues the “WIDOW” short film series. The three part video series is built around a central narrative, the series’ videos have been released out of order, perhaps a way to reflect the chaotic, turbulent nature of the short film’s world — and they do so while also being surreal and gorgeously shot visual compliments to their accompanying song. “The series tells the story of a man’s descent into madness,” Phillips writes in a statement. “He loses his mind and, thinking he is being directed by an angelic force, ends up killing the very thing he loves most. When he realizes what he has done, he’s devastated and jumps off a pier to escape. It turns out [in the third video that has yet to be released] that he can’t die, and he is still haunted by the memory of his lover.”

“It’s a metaphor for my own struggle with mental illness, and the tumultuous realities of life as an artist,” Phillips continues. “Pursuing these ethereal and magnificent concepts is so captivating, but can sometimes drive you to the edge of your sanity, and can cause you to hurt the things you love most… whether that is people around you, or parts of yourself. But, as the third act shows, those things are never really gone. They live on and won’t leave until they are accepted and integrated.”

Since their formation in 2014, the Helsinki, Finland-based JOVM mainstays Lake Jons, comprised of Jooel Jons and Mikko Pennanen have managed to walk a fine line between production tandem and full-fledged band, while crafting delicate, electro folk-leaning dream pop. Last year’s self-titled debut, which was released to praise across Scandinavia and elsewhere was written and recorded in an isolated cabin, deep within the Finnish forest thematically and sonically aimed to examine, capture, and represent the tenuous connection that still exists between the natural world and the human world. Building upon a growing profile, JaJaJa showcased the band in London, Berlin and Hamburg.

Lake Jons’ recently released sophomore album The Coast finds the  duo further reconnecting with their roots and delving even deeper into the Towars Forest. Thematically, the album is the duo’s endeavor  to dismantle life, space and time while sonically, the material finds the Finnish JOVM mainstays radically re-inventing their sound: The album’s songs are generally centered around very rough instrumental parts, then layered with harmony-driven toplines, creating the sense that the songs are assembling themselves in a seamless fashion.

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles — “It’s Too Bright” and “Simone.” Both of those singles further cemented the duo’s unusual and forward-thinking approach to  contemporary pop. “It’s Too Bright,” which was built around a sparse production  of twinkling keys, shimmering hi-hats, boom-bap like beats, a driving bass line and Jooel Jons’ plaintive falsetto was a seamless meshing of elements of R&B, electro pop,  jazz, folk and experimental pop while retaining the infectious hooks that won them attention across the blogosphere. “Simone” was centered around a hazy and dusty production of strummed guitar,  fluttering and arpeggiated synths, wobbling low end and stuttering beats. And while continuing  to be a perfect vehicle for Jons’ plaintive falsetto, the song was imbued with a sense of loss, longing and the acknowledgement that there are some connections that seem to transcend physical space and time itself.

“Human,” The Coast‘s latest single is a haunting and lingering fever dream, centered around a dusty and ancient-sounding production featuring strummed acoustic guitar, fluttering synths, thumping drums and Jons’ plaintive and expressive vocals.  Unlike the album’s previously released singles, “Human” finds the Finnish JOVM mainstays walking a fine line between careful and deliberate craft and stream of consciousness — as it evokes a late fall stroll, lost in thoughts and reminiscences.

“I’m fond of lyrics that tare more like thoughts rather than stories,” Jooel Jons says about The Coast‘s latest single. “This one feels like a stroll in the forest for me. Almost a story but not quite. ‘I wanna turn around’ resembles the idea of turning back from the road we once started as humans. Honouring nature more and more. For me it also means dancing in the forest among the trees and animals like a hippie cliché. This song has evolved from two different songs that I felt were at a dead end. Combining them left some good parts unused but made one whole.”

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

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the  Buenos Aires-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and actress Juana Molina. Born to renowned tango vocalist Horacio Molina and actress Chunchuna Villafane, a young Juana Molina grew up in an intensely musical home: her father taught her guitar when she was 5 and her mother introduced Molina to the family’s extensive record collection. As a result of 1976’s military coup, the Molina family fled Argentina and lived in exile in Paris for several years, and during that time, the teenaged Molina’s musical tastes were vastly expanded by regularly listening to a number of French radio stations known for programs that spun music from all over the globe. 

When Molina was in her early 20s, her and her family returned to Argentina. As a young woman, Molina was determined to be independent and pursue a musical career – and like many young people, her initial aspirations were to earn some decent money for a few hours of work a day while having enough time to write songs, record and play live shows. She had a talent for imitations and looking for a decent gig, she auditioned for a local TV program. Based on the strength of her impressions and imitations, she got hired on the spot. 

Molina quickly became one of her country’s most popular and beloved comedic actors. Within three years of that initial addition, Molina starred in her own show Juana y sus hermanas, a Carol Burnett-like show in which she had created a number of characters. The syndicated show was wildly popular in Argentina and in its neighboring countries. After about four years on the air, Molina became pregnant and the show went on hiatus. On maternity leave with a lot of free time on her hands, Molina found herself reflecting on her rapid rise to stardom. At the time, despite having a wildly popular TV show, she couldn’t help but think “this isn’t quite what I wanted to do.” So Molina quit acting to focus on her lifelong passion — being a musician. 

Her decision to quit her popular show was one that many Argentines bitterly held against for a number of years. Her full-length debut, 1996’s Rara was critically panned by journalists, who resented her career change. Fans of her TV show would show up to her live shows, expecting to see her pay homage to her TV work but instead they found they couldn’t understand this new “folk singer character” that sung strange songs without any obvious jokes. Feeling dejected by the criticism and feeling misunderstood but wanting to continue onward with music, the Buenos Aires-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. producer and actress relocated Los Angeles, where her work as much better received and began familiarizing herself with and experimenting with electronics.  

After spending time licking her metaphorical wounds and honing her songwriting and sound, Molina returned to Buenos Aries, where she wrote, recorded and produced her sophomore effort Segundo, which began a run of material that found her meshing organic arrangements with electronic production — typically layered and sampled loops of acoustic sounds with beats and synths. Interestingly, Molina’s third album, the breakthrough Tres Cosas was championed by David Byrne, Will Oldham, and others and landed on The New York Times’ Top Ten Records list. 

Halo Molina’s seventh album further cemented the Argentine artist’s long-held reparation for being a restless and mysterious master of sophisticated, experimental pop  — but her soon to be released 4 song Forfun EP is a decided and exuberant sonic left turn. Derived from a set in which Molina and her band had to improvise, when they found themselves on the stage of a major festival without all of their instruments, the material is imbued with a DIY ethos and spirit that’s indebted to punk rock and garage rock. Interestingly,  the EP’s latest single “Paraguaya Punk” reveals the underpinning fierce playfulness and grit of Molina’s work in a stripped down and forceful fashion. 

The Forfun EP is slated for release on Friday through Crammed Discs.

The recently released video for “Paraguaya Punk” features the animated and vibrantly colored, child-like line drawings of Dante Zaballa. It’s a seemingly simplistic explosion of colors and lines but it manages to capture the exuberant and mischievous air of the accompanying song. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Lake Jons Release a Feverish Yet Gorgeous and Aching Visual for “Simone”

Formed back in 2014, the Helsinki, Finland-based JOVM mainstays Lake Jons, comprised of Jooel Jons and Mikko Pennanen, have developed a reputation for walking a fine line between production tandem and full-fledged band, while crafting delicate, electro folk-tinged dream pop. Last year’s self-titled debut, which was primarily written and recorded in an isolated cabin deep in the Finnish forest thematically and sonically aimed to examine, capture and represent whatever tenuous connection still exists between the natural world and the human world. The album won attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere — including this site — with JaJaJa showcasing the band in London, Berlin and Hamburg. 

The rising Finnish duo’s sophomore album The Coast finds the duo further reconnecting with their roots and delving even deeper into the Towars Forest. Thematically, The Coast is the duo’s endeavor to dismantle life, space and time. And sonically, the album finds the JOVM mainstays radically re-inventing their sound — the songs are centered around rough instrumental parts, layered with harmony-driven toplines with the material seemingly assembling again in a seamless fashion. Now, as you may recall, last month I wrote about “It’s Too Bright.” Built around a sparse production featuring twinkling keys, hi-hat led boom-bap-like percussion, a driving bass line and an ethereal and plaintive falsetto floating over the mix, the song sonically displayed elements of R&B, electro pop, jazz, folk and experimental pop — and while being forward thinking, the material retained the hook-driven nature that won them attention across the blogosphere. 

The Coast’s latest single “Simone” will further cement the Finnish duo’s unusual and forward-thinking approach to pop music: the track is centered around a hazy and dusty production featuring strummed guitar, fluttering and arpeggiated synths, wobbling low end and stuttering beats with Jons’ plaintive vocals ethereally floating over the mix. And much like their previously released work, thee song is imbued with a sense of loss and longing simultaneously. In press notes, the band’s Jooel Jons explains that the central concept of the song is how connections can sometimes transcend physical loss. “You know the feeling someone close to you has moved on to another time and space? You’re still feeling these sensations of their presence and wonder if all is not lost after all,” Jons says in press notes. “Maybe you’re in denial. But you’ll only know if you stop and try reaching out to something that only you sense. From feelings arise experience; that is vital to our feeling of existence.”

Directed by Petra Lumioksa, the recently released video for “Simone” and stars Minna Karttunen and Maria Autio expressively dancing in a sun-dappled and extremely suburban apartment. Through most of the video, the dancers rarely see one or connect with one another — just barely out of sight, just barely out of touch and yet feeling each other’s presence. And as a result, the visual further emphasizes the song’s palpable sense of longing. 

Oslo, Norway-based singer/songwriter, composer and keyboardist Arthur Kay has been a prominent member of his hometown’s music scene for the better part of a decade, as the frontman of the galactic jazz act Dr. Kay and His Interstellar Tone Scientists and collaborating and touring with Norwegian rapper Ivan Ave.

Kay’s self-titled, solo debut is slated for an October 11, 2019 and the EP’s material, which draws from several disparate influences and channels Thundercat, James Blake, and Sun Ra Arkestra also reportedly finds the Norwegian singer/songwriter, composer and keyboardist stepping further into the spotlight as a solo artist. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year, I wrote about “Holiday Pay,” a workers anthem and decidedly house music influenced track with glistening and twinkling synths, cowbell-led percussion and an infectious hook that manages to celebrate the fact that Norwegian employers are required by law to pay employees a certain percentage of the previous year’s wages to be used for the employee’s summer vacation time.

Interestingly, the EP’s latest single “Higher Ground” is a slow-burning track that’s one part dream pop, one part hallucinogenic dirge and one part shoegaze centered around a sparse arrangement of twinkling keys, atmospheric synths, Kay’s dreamy crooning and narcoleptic drumming — and while arguably the most peaceful song off the EP that’s been released so far, the song   possesses an underlying sweaty desperation. “Lyrically, it is about the silence and calmness that comes after a big emotional and chaotic event,” Arthur Kay says in press notes. “Those days or weeks where you feel that if you just put everything in your life on hold, to make it through the next hour without remembering or engaging in those memories, you’ll just barely make it through.”

“‘Higher Ground’ was sort of a tribute to Balearic House,” Kay adds. “It was one of the first times musically that I had something that was just for me. A lot of the work you do as a professional musician is taking small pieces of yourself and giving them away to other people’s dreams and visions.” 

 

New Video: Acclaimed Singer/Songwriter Jonathan Bree Releases a Striking Visual for “Waiting On The Moment”

Jonathan Bree is a New Zealand-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and producer, who can trace the origins of his musical career to when he was a child: he began writing his own songs when he was nine and performed as a drummer in his cousin’s band until he was 13. This was interrupted for some time, as he was sent to Australia to live with his father, who was an aspiring cult leader. Bree subsequently left home and navigated his teenage years independently. 

When Bree returned to New Zealand, he formed The Brunettes, an indie rock act that released material through Sub Pop Records and his own label, Lil’ Chief Records. The band managed to tour across the world to support their material — but the frustrations of taking the traditional route to success found Bree taking a long hiatus from releasing his own music. During that hiatus though, Bree produced Princess Chelsea’s “The Cigarette Duet” and directed its accompanying music video, which has amassed over 47 million views. 

Bree’s solo debut, 2013’s The Primrose Path was initially released to little fanfare and an unusual bit of promotion — an accompanying album-length video of himself watching TV on his laptop in bed with his girlfriend and cat. His sophomore album, 2015’s A Little Night Music saw the New Zealand-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer embrace a cinematic and classically influenced sound, centered around strong melodies, tight hooks and his brooding baritone crooning lyrics focusing on modern life and love. During the campaign for A Little Night Music, Bree introduced his period piece masked band with the video or “Weird Hardcore” featuring his backing band appearing as though they were in a skewed timeline that some have described as Amadeus meets classic BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Since then, Bree has amassed a cult following around the world for his unique live show which features masked band members in pioneering clothing, set against a backdrop of cinematic projections specifically created for each song. Two dancers also perform other-worldly choreographed routines along with the music.

Bree’s third album, 2018’s Sleepwalking continued a run of material drawing from orchestral pop with the material centered around string and horn arrangements, celeste (a smaller, keyboard operated instrument that kind of sounds like a glockenspiel) and soprano vocals — and while sounding as though it came from a bygone era, the material touches upon avant-garde in a way that’s very modern. Album single “You’re So Cool” and its accompanying video went viral, amassing over 12 million YouTube views, while further cementing his reputation for crafting gorgeous yet brooding pop. 

Centered around a soaring and swooning string arrangement, a sinuous bass line, propulsive drumming, chiming celeste, arpeggiated synths, a remarkably tight hook and Bree’s brooding baritone, “Waiting On The Moment,” his latest single manages to be both carefully crafted and danceable pop that manages to be an uncannily anachronistic synthesis of 60s and 80s pop — with a subtly modern filter. At its core, the song is a breakup song about the lingering ghosts of a past relationship — primarily, the places that you and your former lover once went that had significance between you. Apparently in the song’s case, it’s a karaoke bar that its narrator once went. 

Rather than being a tearjerker ballad full of bitterness, heartache and recrimination, the song revisits the past relationship at its center with a sense of a joy that it all happened and a sense of optimism. As a songwriter once wisely wrong “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” And they’ll be new loves, new places to hold significance and new heartache — but all of it is worth it. 

Directed by Jonathan Bree, the recently released video for “Waiting On The Moment” features Bree, his backing band and dancers performing the song in a sparse studio appearing in the wardrobe they do on stage — with each member covered head-to-toe in white zentai suits, wigs and monochromatic clothing.

Formed back in 2014, the Helsinki, Finland-based JOVM mainstays Lake Jons, comprised of Jooel Jons and Mikko Pennanen, have developed a reputation for walking a fine line between production tandem and full-fledged band, while crafting delicate, electro folk-tinged dream pop. Last year’s self-titled debut, which was primarily written and recorded in an isolated cabin deep in the Finnish forest thematically and sonically aimed to examine, capture and represent whatever tenuous connection still exists between the natural world and the human world. The album won attention across across Scandinavia and elsewhere with JaJaJa showcasing the band in London, Berlin and Hamburg. 

Slated for a September 29, 2019 release, the rising Finnish duo’s forthcoming, sophomore album The Coast finds them further reconnecting with their roots and delving deeper into their band name’s moniker, the Towars forest. Thematically, the album is their endeavor to dismantle life, space and time. Sonically, the album finds the duo re-inventing their sound — songs are centered around rough instrumental parts, layered with harmony-driven toplines, and yet the material seems to seamlessly assemble again. Interestingly, The Coast‘s latest single “It’s Too Bright” is built around a sparse production featuring twinkling keys, hi-hat led boom-bap-like percussion, a driving bass line, and an ethereal and plaintive falsetto floating over the mix. Sonically the song displays elements of R&B, electro pop, jazz, folk and experimental pop in a forward-thinking yet subtle fashion while retaining the hook-driven nature that won them attention here and elsewhere.

“There are all kinds of emotional releases when roaming in the nature far from civilisation,” the band’s Jooel Jons says in a short essay on their new album. “In a way The Coast is an emotional perspective. There are times when you are simply stuck in that gateway. Looking forward to the oceans or backward to the mountains, you choose. Time is irrelevant as long as you’re moving and evolving. I believe that’s the essence.” He goes on to talk about the album’s latest single, saying “It’s a nice thing when you realise life moves on and you move with it. The bassline here is my idea of how time and life move. It jumps here and there but holds no regard to whether one cares or not. I believe we can smoothly move with it only if we are true to ourselves no matter our faults. So as time moves, we can just try doing our best and evolve with it. “

“It’s pretty simple instrumentation but almost everything is pretty spontaneously played and recorded. Like the piano “fill” track: I asked Mikko to play around something nice, maybe the first time he really heard this song but somehow his fingers moved perfectly with the song and no other take was needed.”