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New Video: The Besnard Lakes Release a Lysergic and Feverish Visual for Shimmering and Slow-Burning “Feuds With Guns”

Deriving their name from Besnard Lake in North Central Saskatchewan, the acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated Montreal-based indie rock act The Besnard Lakes — currently, husband and wife duo Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys) and Olga Goreas (vocals, bass), along with Kevin Laing (drums), Richard White (guitar), Sheenah Ko (keys) and Robbie MacArthur (guitar) — formed back in 2003. And since their formation, the Montreal-based sextet have five albums of atmospheric and textured shoegaze that some critics have described as magisterial and cinematic.

After the release of their fifth album, 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, The Besnard Lakes and their longtime label home Jagjaguwar mutually decided that it was time to end their relationship and go their separate ways. And as a result, the members of the band began to question whether or not it made sense to even continue the band. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the acclaimed Canadian act settled in to write and record what may arguably be the most uncompromising effort of their catalog, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Unlike their previously released material, the members of the Montreal-based went with a much more patient creative approach, taking all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Some of the album’s songs are old, tracing their origins to resurrected demos left on the shelf years before. Other songs were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek and Goreas’ Riguard Ranch, with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound.

Thematically, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings finds the band contemplating the darkness of dying, the light on the other side, and coming back from the brink of annihilation. And while touching upon the band’s own story, the album also is a remembrance of dear loved ones, who are no longer with us — particularly Lasek’s father, who died last year. From what Lasek observed of his father’s death, being on one’s deathbed may be the most intense psychedelic trip of anyone’s life” at one point Lasek’s father surfaced from a morphine-induced dream, talking about how he saw a “window” on his blanket, with “a carpenter inside of it, making objects.” And as a result, the album’s material is imbued with a surreal and ethereal quality.

Earlier this year, I wrote about The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings’ first single “Raindrops,” a slow-burning shoegazer with a painterly attention to gradation and texture, centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook. Interestingly, the album’s second single is the slow-burning, dream pop-like “Feuds With Guns.” Centered around an atmospheric and spacious arrangement featuring thunderous drumming, anthemic power chord-based riffs, twinkling keys, plaintive vocals and a soaring hook, “Feuds With Guns” sonically speaking, is one part Prince, one part Beach House.

“‘Feuds With Guns’ is one of the first songs written from our upcoming LP. This one is a good slow-dancer!” The members of The Besnard Lakes explain to Under The Radar ” Written almost entirely in the Cabanon at The Rigaud Ranch, this one started out as an organ and drum idea that morphed into a little OMD-style pop song.”

Directed by Dr. Cool, the recently released animated video for “Feuds With Guns” is a lysergic fever dream that features divers taking a dive, flying airplanes, cars and vans in front of a bright yellow sun. “I rotoscoped a couple of the big dives from a video of an extreme high-diving contest that took place in the 80s. About a week after I had animated the first guy’s big jump, I returned to the video to check out some other usable clips,” Dr. Cool explains in press notes. “I realized I had never watched the full clip of the first jump — I had just stopped once he hit the water. I found out that after he lands in the water he floats back up unconscious and then gets taken away on a stretcher. So now what was I supposed to do? People in the comments were asking what had happened but no one knew the answer. After a bunch of snooping around the internet I found the guy’s Facebook and he’s TOTALLY alive. His name is Pat and he lives in Florida. I messaged him but he hasn’t answered.”

The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Fat Cat Records here in the States and through Flemish Eye in their native Canada.

JOVM celebrated its tenth anniversary earlier this year. And maybe I’m biased here — this is my site after all — but I feel as though I’ve managed to carve out a unique space in the blogosphere. JOVM is one of the few places, where readers can get eclectic and personal curation and coverage of local, national and international music scenes.

For the overwhelming bulk of this site’s history, I’ve run this site as a (mostly) one-man labor of love, run out of my Corona, Queens, NYC apartment while working full time in the editorial departments of three different book publishers as an Editorial Assistant and Acquisitions Editor. As you can imagine, I often felt that I had an unusual dual life: during the the day, I was a mild-mannered and somewhat sleep-deprived, Clark Kent. And when the business day ended, I would find some place to change out of my office clothes to street clothes, transforming into professional music journalist, blogger and photographer, covering shows at venues across the Metropolitan area. I’d return home in the wee hours, upload photos or work on a blog post, if i was able to manage it — and then I’d try to get a little bit of sleep and repeat. I generally survived on four hours of sleep a night and way too much coffee.

It’s often been hard work. But as a result of this site, I’ve done things I’ve never expected or thought would have ever happened. I’ve met some of my heroes. I’ve photographed icons and beloved legends. I’ve covered some amazing talented artists from all over the world. I’ve seen some memorable shows. I’ve been able to travel internationally to cover music. And I’ve met some of the nicest, kindest and most open people in the entire world  — and these people  have welcomed me to their hometowns, taken me to their best spots, introduced me to their favorite people and so on.

This sort of work should — and needs — to be continued and championed as much as possible. Music is the emotional center of our lives. More than ever in this profoundly unusual and unsettling time, we have to take comfort in music, art, literature and all the other things that make us human and connect us with others. Hopefully my work here has — and will continue — to bring some joy, some escape from the bleakness of our current situation or it inspires you to do something.

Of course running a site like this isn’t easy. And unfortunately, it does cost money. To that end, I started a Patreon page last year as a way to help support my creative endeavors and this site. Check out the page for more information:

https://www.patreon.com/TheJoyofViolentMovement

You can also buy merch from the Joy of Violent Movement shop:

You can also become a fan of this site on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/TheJoyofViolentMovement

Because of the uncertainty of the past few months, I understand that for there will be a portion of people who unable to contribute or buy merch. I get it. Trust me, I really get it. So don’t feel bad about it. There are other non-monetary ways to show love and support that really matters and are really helpful. So, if you really dig my work and JOVM, you can do the following:

  • Keep reading — and if you can read more! Seriously, something that small adds up.
  • Share posts you dig on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere.
  • Pass the word on to friends who may dig this site and my work. The more eyeballs on this site at any given time does count and is beyond helpful. Seriously.
  • Pass the word on about the Patreon page to those that may be able to support.

As, I promised on my Patreon page, I also wanted to give a shoutout to this site’s kind patrons:

Sash

Alice Northover

Bella Fox

Jenny MacRostie

Thank y’all so much for your support and love. It keeps me — and this site going.

Musings: On Hot 97 Yusuf Hawkins and Racism in Media 

 

I have to interrupt some of my previous editorial plans for the day. I need to get a few things off my chest. I applied to a really cool job at a major magazine. This is a job that I felt I could do with my left-hand tied behind my back. I have 15 years under my belt as a freelancer and blogger, covering an insanely eclectic array of music — and I’ve done this while spending 15 years or so working at three different publishing houses, moving up from being an Editorial Assistant to being an Acquisitions Editor.

I’m extremely nocturnal. “Sleep all day. Up all night,” as a song once said. I woke up at noon today. My mom was talking to me about some news item of the day. I was barely awake and I needed coffee. Before I even had my coffee and while I was still in bed, I started to check my email accounts. Technology is wonderful sometimes, ain’t it? So as I typically do, I went through my blog account. And then I checked my personal email. I received the impersonal form letter rejection from that major magazine. Most of the time, I don’t take it personally. I shrug it off and move on. But this one, it felt like a bit like finding out your partner has been sleeping with your best friend or a relative. And yet, somehow, I wasn’t surprised.

I then went on to Facebook. One Facebook friend is posting infuriatingly dumb things and has been doing so for the past month or two. I ignored her and scrolled down a bit. Then I came across an article an elementary school classmate posted it on his page: https://hiphopdx.com/news/id.57484/title.longtime-hot-97-executive-paddy-duke-fired-for-involvement-in-yusef-hawkins-murder?fbclid=IwAR0AfP1_IS_OEGXvRE_I6QgJFsJGtQi6MQ5BiSFd36Kn5Oidt8ypP9f6zqo.

After reading the article, I immediately felt anger, despair and hopelessness. I’ve mentioned this on Facebook as a response to the events of the article and I think it’s important for y’all to read and think about: Two things likely happened with Paddy Duke  — but one of them is probably more likely than the other in my mind:

  • Raucci lied (and an omission is a lie here, too) and went through his life with the desperate an insane hope that no one would find. But every minute and every hour of the past 31 years, he had to live with the fact that he was involved in a heinous crime and with the fear that someone would find out, that someone would out him, that the walls would come crumbling down.
  • Rauuci was connected to someone, who gave him a shot above all the other talented people of color, who have been busting their ass for a shot, then protected him and allowed him to move up the ranks.

 

People have lied about their qualifications for jobs for generations. It was difficult for your employer to find out — and generally no one really bothered to delve that deeply, if you were embellishing a bit and not saying something flat out ridiculous. Over the past 20 years, employers have been following up on jobseekers’ claims: they’ll look Google you and look at your LinkedIn profile; they’ll call your references and ask detailed questions about you and your work. And if somehow, you’re one of the few lucky ones, who may have gotten away with it, it doesn’t last long. Companies have fired people once they’ve find out. (Remember the Notre Dame football coach, who lied about his background? By the following week, the school rescinded their offer.)

So for argument’s say, let’s say that Raucci lied. Maybe in 1994 he might have gotten away with that for a year or two, maybe even five years. But by the time he became a radio personality,  his involvement in a heinous racial crime wasn’t outed by someone? Milli Vanilli and Vanilla Ice were outed as phonies — before the Internet. Pusha T shouted out  that Drake had a secret baby on a fucking diss track. And you’re telling me that Hot 97 and its corporate office didn’t have a clue that Raucci was one of Yusuf Hawkins’ attackers? Raucci didn’t get outed as he moved up the stations ranks, earning a position of power and authority at the station? How did that continue for over 25 years? You mean no one was curious about the guy and said “Let’s look into him?” Seriously, how does that even happen?

Of course, that leads me to something insidious — and seemingly more likely to have happened to me: Raucci is connected to someone, and that someone not only gave Raucci a shot to redeem himself, that someone allowed the former Hot 97 exec to move up the corporate ranks. There wasn’t some equally qualified person or color without a criminal record that couldn’t have gotten a shot? Who does Raucci know?

There’s no way that Hot 97’s corporate office didn’t have an idea. Out of due diligence, the filmmaker who made the Yusuf Hawkins documentary did their research and confirmed their claims before leaving that in the final cut. Hot 97 and their corporate ownership is full of shit on that.

I’ve freelanced for a nubmer of publications and websites. I started this site over a decade ago while working full-time. The past 15 years I’ve slept very little, worked full-time and then worked hard on making moves. I’ve done JOVM, completely on my own terms. I’m proud of that fact. I’ve obsessed with music since I was a toddler. I’ve played a little bit, too. And when I turned 14, I knew that the only thing that made sense for me was to write. But I have to admit something: lately, I’ve been feeling deeply discouraged.

Sure, being a writer — or any other creative — means enduring through some degree of failure or feeling as though you’re a failure. But when you add unfair, incredibly racist shit to the mix, it just hits differently and on a deeply personal level. I often suspect that some mediocre white person, who’s connected to the right people will get some of these jobs that I’ve long coveted despite my education and my background. I’ve edited fucking  books. Don’t tell me that I can’t edit other music journalists — or that I can’t contribute to a publication.

Look at the staff at some of these websites and publications. If you’re lucky you may see maybe one or two black people on their staff. It makes me wonder how that’s possible. And I dozen wonder if some mediocre white person is getting that key gig, because they know the right people — and not because they’re truly talented or knowledgeable. There have been only a handful of days recently where I felt like everything I did felt profoundly stupid: George Floyd’s death and the protests immediately after and after reading that HipHopDX article today.

My folks gave me the talk when I was about 7. But I’m also not a stupid or naive man either. I’ve lived in the world and been around enough to know that life is really unfair. So I really loathe when organizations and people actively try to insult my intelligence. Don’t bullshit me about how you’re diverse and are down for the cause of Black Lives Matter if you don’t have executives of color or members of the LGBTQIA+ community in real positions of authority.

This story about Raucci and Hot 97 is a constant reminder of how insidious racism is — especially in media and other creative fields. At the end of the day, a lot of these companies are frankly full of shit. Either we’re willing to be better or we’re not. It’s that simple.

 

If any of you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you’d know that a few months ago I recently joined Spotify — and interestingly enough I’ve been using it in some way to build a sort of retrospective/end of the month playlist for old and new followers alike. Sadly, in some cases some songs don’t appear because they’re not currently available on Spotify; however, this particular playlist is the start of a much more detailed playlist — a playlist that mentions not not the songs I’ve written about over the month, but the songs I’ve referenced throughout the month.

As I’ve mentioned before on the site, I’m usually up to all kinds of experimentation and I’m curious as to what you think of the monthly playlist as a regularly recurring feature. Let me know, folks.