Tag: folk

New Video: The Mischievous and Illustrated Visuals for JOVM Mainstays’ Xylouris White’s “Only Love”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the genre-defying, world music duo Xylouris White, comprised of Melbourne, Australia-born, New York-based drummer Jim White, who’s best known as a member of the internationally acclaimed instrumental rock act Dirty Three and for collaborating with a number of equally renowned artists including PJ Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Cat Power, Bill Callahan a.k.a. Smog and others; and beloved Crete-born vocalist and laouto player Giorgos Xylouris, the son of renowned vocalist and lyra player Psarantonis Xylouris, and who is best known best known for leading the Xylouris Ensemble.
Now, as you may recall the duo can actually trace their origins to when the renowned Cretan and his ensemble was touring Melbourne in the early 1990s. And as the story goes, White was a member of locally-based avant-garde rock band Venom P. Stinger, when he had met and befriended Xylouris, who would later collaborate with White’s then future band, Dirty Three whenever Xylouris and his Ensemble were touring Australia. Unsurprisingly the collaboration between the members of the Xylouris Ensemble and Dirty Three became a rather fruitful collaboration based on a healthy, mutual admiration, as well as the influence of Xylouris’ father Psaratonis and Xylouris’ work and sound had on Dirty Three’s own sound and compositional approach. 

Strangely enough, although White and Xylouris had been friends and collaborators for more than 20 years, it wasn’t until 2013 that they decided that they should directly collaborate together, a process that was accelerated when the duo played together at a Nick Cave curated  All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. The duo’s long-held admiration and friendship constantly influences how they write, record and perform together — with their compositions frequently sounding as though they were dancing, as though at any given point, one instrument leading with the other one following and quickly shifting in a wildly fluid fashion. Goats, Xylouris White’s debut was  largely inspired by their creative approach, an approach that Xylouris poetically described as being “Like goats walking in the mountain. They may not know the place, but they can walk easily and take risks and feel comfortable. Really, the goats inspired us.”

Black Peak, Xylouris White’s sophomore album furthers the goat analogy, with the album’s title being derived from one of Crete’s most famous mountains; however, the album, which was “recorded everywhere,” as Xylouris jokes in press notes and produced by Fugazi‘s Guy Picciotto, found the duo expanding upon their sound as the material possesses a subtly modern take on traditional sounds and motifs — at points sounding as though it drew from classic rock, as you’d hear on album singles “Black Peak,” and “Forging.”

Mother, the duo’s third, full-length effort together is slated for release through Bella Union Records next week, and as Giorgos Xylouris explains in press notes, the album was named to denote “new life.” “Mother is the extension of Goats and Black Peak,” Xylouris adds. “Three things, all part of a whole. Goats are mothers, Zeus was raised on Amaltheia’s milk, Black Peak is Mother Earth . . . Mother Earth is the mother of everything.” Reportedly, the duo will further cement their reputation for having a fluid and mischievous chemistry in which they intuitively known exactly when to listen, when to accommodate, when to lead and get out of the way, and to find something completely new together. “A theme of the album is the significance of simplicity and a child-like approach,” Xylouris explains. “So, we connect mother and child and play instruments as toys. Xylouris White is still gestating.”

Mother’s first single “Only Love” is a rollicking and furiously passionate song featuring a roomy yet simultaneously dense arrangement consisting White’s propulsive rock ‘n’ roll-like drumming paired with Xylouris’ dexterous, power chord, heavy metal-like lout playing, accompanied by Xylouris’ sonorous and plaintive baritone. And in some way, the song evokes a swooning urgency of the pangs of first love, while revealing the duo’s mischievous and improvisational-like compositional approach. 

Directed by  Lucy Dyson, the recently released video for “Only Love” is a animated video featuring cartoon collages of Xylouris and White running to meet each other, riding enormous goats and chasing after anthropomorphic version of their instruments, that also ride goats. At various points, they’re all chased by skulls. It’s colorful, wild and downright mischievous. 


Rosie Carney is an up-and-coming, 20 year-old, Hampshire, UK-born, Downings, County Donegal, Ireland-based singer/songwriter, who has started to receive international attention for pairing mature beyond her years songwriting with vivid lyricism paired with minimalist arrangements and her effortlessly gorgeous vocals. Recently, the British-born, Irish-based singer/songwriter released a hauntingly spectral cover of Cigarettes After Sex‘s “K,” which features gently strummed guitar, swirling feedback and Carney’s gorgeous vocals singing an equally gorgeous melody — and although her cover is a bit more straightforward, sonically it bears a resemblance to Mazzy Star and Widowspeak.

As Carney explains of her decision to cover “K,” “I wanted to record a song that was released by one of my favorite artists this year. I chose ‘K’ by Cigarettes After Sex because, firstly I’m a huge fan of this band and their music and aesthetic, and secondly because this song definitely resonated with me the most from their new record. It’s such an honest song and I just love the message it carries. I love how relaxing and transcending the melody is. It’s one of those songs that I wish were mine.”


Founded in 2007 by its Athens, Greece-based founding member and primary songwriter, Katerina Papachristou, the indie folk/indie pop act Tango with Lions initially began with Papachristou collaborating with rotating cast of collaborators before eventually settling on its permanent lineup featuring Papachristou (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano), Yannos Paramithiotis (electric guitar, vocals), Nikos Vergetis (drums, percussion, vocals), Jim Staridas (trombone, vocals) and Thodoris Zefkilis (bass, vocals). And with the release of their first two albums, 2010’s Verba Time, which featured “In A Bar,” one of the most streamed songs by a contemporary Greek artist ever on YouTube; and 2013’s A Long Walk, the band quickly received both critical and commercial success across Greece and elsewhere.  

After a five year hiatus, the band’s highly anticipated follow up to their critically acclaimed sophomore album, The Light is slated for a January 19, 2018 through Inner Ear Records, and the album reportedly finds Papachristou writing 9 deeply introspective songs that touch upon separation, pleasure, nihilism and excessive optimism, as well as music’s dual nature of encouraging both light and dark. “Proof of Desire,” The Light‘s latest single will further cement Papachristou and company’s reputation for crafting contemplative material while being simultaneously sparse, lush and moody in a way that reminds me quite a bit of JOVM mainstays Husky but with a subtly anxious, tenseness — while nodding at psych rock. As Papachristou explains in press notes, “When you are emotionally drained, being involved with someone new seems to conceal so many  unconscious parameters of emotional endangerment that you eventually shut down. This song is about the cruel realisation that you don’t really know how much or if you can give yourself to a new love story. I was very consciously aware of the rules of this game and of how this knowledge was disabling any feelings of hope or freedom I would formerly experience. In other words, overwhelming skepticism was filling in for innocence.”

Throughout the past year or so, I’ve written a bit about the genre-defying, world music duo Xylouris White, comprised of Melbourne, Australia-born, New York-based drummer Jim White, who’s best known for being member of the internationally acclaimed instrumental rock act Dirty Three and for collaborating with a number of equally renowned artists including PJ HarveyNina NastasiaCat PowerBill Callahan a.k.a. Smog and others; and beloved Crete-born vocalist and lute player Giorgos Xylouris, the son of renowned vocalist and lyra player Psarantonis Xylouris, who is best known best known for leading the Xylouris Ensemble.

Interestingly, the duo can actually trace their origins to when the renowned Cretan and his ensemble were touring Melbourne in the early 1990s. At the time, White was a member of avant rock band Venom P. Stinger, when he had met Giorgos Xylouris, who would later collaborate with the Dirty There whenever he and his Ensemble were touring Australia. Unsurprisingly, the collaboration with Xylouris and the members of the Dirty Three was based on a healthy, mutual admiration of the elder Xylouris and his son’s work, which managed to influence the Dirty Three’s sound and compositional approach.

Strangely enough, although White and Xylouris had been friends and collaborators for more than 20 years, it wasn’t until 2013 that they decided that they should directly collaborate together, a process that was accelerated when the duo played together at a Nick Cave curated  All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. The duo’s long-held admiration of each other’s work and their friendship have naturally found a way to influence everything about their creative process, revealing a mischievous and deep simpatico in which each musician intiutively knows when it’s time to lead, when to follow backwards and in heels, as the old saying goes. when to coax more from each other or when to hold back– but underneath there’s a jazz-like sense of unfettered and effortless improvisation of two old masters at their craft.

Unsurprisingly, Goats their debut effort together was indebted to their unique creative approach, which Giorgos Xylouris has poetically described in press notes as being ““Like goats walking in the mountain. They may not know the place, but they can walk easily and take risks and feel comfortable. Really, the goats inspired us.” The duo’s sophomore effort, Black Peak continued the goat analogy, although the album’s title was derived from one of Crete’s most famous and beautiful mountains; however, the album, which was produced by Fugazi‘s Guy Picciotto and was “recorded everywhere,” as Xylouris joked in press notes, found the duo expanding upon their sound as the material possesses a subtly modern take on traditional sounds and motifs — at points sounding as though it nodded heavily at classic rock, punk rock and jazz, as you’d hear on album singles “Black Peak,” and “Forging,” both of which are two of my favorite songs off that album.

Now, as you may recall, the duo’s highly-anticipated third, full-length album Mother is slated for a January 19, 2017 release through Bella Union Records, and as Xylouris said in press note about the duo’s new album “Mother is the extension of Goats and Black Peak. Three things, all part of a whole. Goats are mothers, Zeus was raised on Amaltheia’s milk, Black Peak is Mother Earth . . . Mother Earth is the mother of everything.” As Xylouris adds “a theme of the album is the significance of simplicity and a child-like approach. So, we connect mother and child and play instruments as toys. Xylouris White is still gestating.”

Mother‘s first single “Only Love” was a rollicking and passionate stomp that consisted of White’s propulsive and forceful drumming, Xylouris’ dexterous and heavy metal guitar god-like lute playing and an infectious hook paired with Xylouris’ sonorous baritone. And while possessing a rare mix of urgency and a deceptive simplicity, the song further reveals the duo’s unique chemistry, as it features a playfulness as its core. The album’s latest single “Daphne” is a gorgeous yet meditative song that while building up to a explosive climax, manages to be a swooning declaration of love — a love that may be unrequited, but interestingly enough, as Xylouris explained to Stereogum, the song actually goes back to his time with Xylouris Ensemble — or roughly sometime in the early 90s when they first met. And as Xylouris admits, the duo had discussed recording a version of the song featuring their arrangement — lute and drums. The lyrics were written by Mitsoo Stavrakakis and are translated into English below:

It’s a song following us a lifetime
It’s a love song and the lyrics say

I’ve got your love roots in my heart,
And your blossom in my mind

I float in your scent
Because your scent is beautiful

The duo will be embarking on a series of Stateside tour dates to support the new album, and it included a February 28, 2018 stop at Murmrr Ballroom. Check out the rest of the dates below and if they’re in your town, I’d suggest catching these two old masters.
Tour Dates
Feb 23 – Portland, ME – Space Gallery
Feb 24 – Portsmouth, NH – as3
Feb 25 – Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre
Feb 26 – New Haven, CT – Cafe Nine  
Feb 28 – Brooklyn, NY – Mrmurr Ballroom
Mar 1 – Baltimore, MD – Creative Alliance at The Patterson
Mar 2 – Harrisburg, PA – The Cathedral Room
Mar 5, 12, 19, 26 – Los Angeles, CA – Residency at Zebulon
Mar 15 – Portland, OR – Holocene
Apr 3 to 8 – Iowa City, IA – Mission Creek Festival 


Esther Artois and Fatou Jans, are an up-and-coming Leuven, Belgium folk/dream pop duo   known as Esther & Fatou, and their incredibly self-assured debut single “At Night” features the duo’s beguiling harmonizing paired with sparse yet dramatic instrumentation that includes soaring woodwinds, tribal-like drumming, strummed acoustic guitar, twinkling percussion and subtly swirling electronics meant to evoke (in my mind, at least) wandering around a particularly European city during a winter night, with deep and lingering existential thoughts. As the duo explain in press notes” It’s a song about the way everything is seen in a different light at night. The track was inspired by a nighttime walk through the city, when we began to wonder about ourselves and other people. In a very organized society in which everyone is expected to make a distinct contribution, there comes the night: full of chaos, everyone is left with their thoughts, insecurities and secrets. The nighttime raises more questions about existence and faith. By morning, they all seem to disappear.”




Earlier this year, I wrote about the Portland, OR-based indie folk/psych rock/indie rock act The Parson Red Heads, and as you may recall the band, currently comprised of husband and wife duo Evan Way and Brette Marie Way, along with Sam Fowles, Robbie Auspurger and a rotating cast of collaborators and friends can trace their origins to when its founding core members met in Eugene OR in 2004, where they all were attending college and studying for degrees that as the band’s frontman Evan Way jokes in the band’s official bio “never used or even completed.” “We  would rehearse in the living room of my house for hours and hours until my roommates would be driven crazy — writing songs and playing them over and over again, and generally having as much fun as a group of people can have,” Way recalls. “We weren’t sure if we were very good, but we were sure that there was a special bond growing between us, a chemistry that you didn’t find often.”

The following year, the band’s founding members relocated to Los Angeles, where they hoped that they would take music much more seriously and become a real band, with the members of the band eventually moving into and sharing a 1 bedroom apartment in West Lost Angeles. “Eventually the population of our 1 bedroom ballooned to 7 — all folks who played in our band at that point, too,” Way says. And while in Los Angeles, the members of the band quickly became stalwarts of a growing 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene based primarily in the artsy Silverlake and Echo Park sections. “We played every show we could lay our collective hands on, which turned out to be a lot of shows. We must have played 300+ shows in our first two years in L.A.  . . . . We practiced non-stop and wrote a ton of songs, and eventually recorded our debut album King Giraffe at a nice little studio in Sunland, with the help of our friends Zack and Jason,” Way reminisces.

After the release of King Giraffe, the band spent the next three years writing, and touring, and during that three year period they released an EP and their sophomore effort Yearling, which was partially recorded at Red Rockets Glare with Raymond Richards, who had then joined the band to play pedal steel and in North Carolina at Fidelitorium with The dB’s Chris Stamey. Once they had finished the album, the members of the band decided to quit their day jobs and their apartments and go on a lengthy tour with their friends in Cotton Jones before relocating to Portland. Interestingly around the same time, The Parson Red Heads had developed a reputation for an uninhibited live show, as they could easily morph from earnest rock to ass-kicking rock mode, which shouldn’t be terribly surprising as the band cites The ByrdsTeenage FanclubBig StarCrosby, Nash, Stills and Young and Jackson Browne as major influences on their sound. Unsurprisingly, with their third full-length album Orb Weaver, the band actively wanted to capture the energy and sound.  “We’re always made records that were more thought-out,” says Way. “When we play live, we play more like a rock band. We wanted to show that more aggressive side of us, the more rock-oriented side.”
Blurred Harmony, The Parson Red Heads’ fourth album was released earlier this year through renowned Portland-based label Fluff and Gravy, and as Way explained, the band intended to do things differently than they did before — with the band recording and tracking themselves, frequently setting up drums and amps, and furiously recording after everyone had put their kids to sleep, and trying to finish that day’s sessions before it got too late. And as a result, Way says  “the record is more a true part of us than any record we have made before — we put ourselves into it, made ourselves fully responsible for it. Even the themes of the songs are more personal than ever — it’s an album dealing with everything that has come before. It’s an album about nostalgia, about time, change, about the hilarious, wonderful, bittersweet, sometimes sad, always incredible experience of living. Sometimes it is about regret or the possibility of regret. These are big topics, and to us, it is a big album, yet somehow still intimate and honest.”
December 8, 2017 will mark the release of the Expanded Edition of Blurred Harmony and it’ll feature two bonus tracks, which were originally recorded during the initial recording sessions and didn’t make the final cut, including the band’s latest single “TV Surprise.” As Way explains in press notes “‘TV Surprise’ is a song that’s been around for probably 10 years at least, maybe one. It’s got a real Felt/The Feelies vibe to it that I really like — those are two bands that we were just starting to get into around the time I wrote the song, so it’s no surprise that was coming through. The abstract feel of the lyrics is the thing that ended up making it not a perfect fit for inclusion on the Blurred Harmony album sequence, but Danny (O’Hanlon, who mixed the record) did a really great job creatively mixing the song — he added a lot of the textures that make this recording of the song have such a cool atmosphere and mood.”Sonically speaking, the song sounds as though the band were drawing from Fleetwood Mac, Southern rock and psych rock, as the song possesses the easy-going, self-assuredness of a bunch of old pros getting the old band together and jamming and while it sounds as though it would have been a perfect fit for the album, I agree with Way in the sense that the song doesn’t feel as personal as previous single “Coming Down” — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the song captures the band exploring a theme from a slightly different angle, and managing to get a similar yet distinctly different result.


New Video: The 80s and 90s Inspired DIY Visuals for Jordan Klassen’s 60s Psych Pop-like “Dominika”

Jordan Klassen is a Vancouver, British Columbia-based chamber folk singer/songwriter, who over the past decade or so has developed a reputation for crafting critically applauded material that’s been considered “unsentimentally sincere” and “whimsically hopeful” — while focusing on his own life experiences; in fact, the Curses EP was a collection of brooding pop that explored mental illness and vulnerability, continuing themes he explored and wrote about on 2016’s Javelin.

Interestingly, Klassen’s recently released full-length effort, Big Intruder thematically explores growing up and making adult decisions, addressing the doubt and caution that become excuses to avoid any sort of actual commitment and unsurprisingly, the album not only finds Klassen increasingly moving away from the whimsical soundscapes that first won him attention — with Klassen embracing a more band-like approach than ever before; in fact, album single “Dominika” finds Klassen’s sound taking on a decided 60s psych pop and 70s AM rock sound.  

The recently released video is a gloriously low-budget, DIY affair. And as Klassen explains of the video, “For the ‘Dominika’ video I wanted to make something that was playful like the song; silly in an honest way. We were inspired by a lot of late 80s/early 90s music videos where it felt like the artist just shot a bunch of footage of them hanging around and lip syncing.”

Rue Snider is a Brooklyn-based folk singer/songwriter, who since his debut in 2012 has developed a reputation for writing material with an unvarnished honesty, a relentless touring schedule of more than 100 shows a year, opening for the likes of Lydia Loveless, Squirrel Nut Zippers‘ Tom Maxwell, Superhuman Happiness, Benjamin Scheuer, Blue Healer, Donna Missal and The Silos‘ Walter Salas-Humara, and for collaborating with the likes of Jon Estes, who’s played with Ruby Amanfu and Steelism, Rubblebucket‘s David Cole, Derrek C. Philips and others. Adding to a growing profile, “Speak My Mind,” the EP title track of his most recent Andrija Tokic-produced EP, Speak My Mind was featured as song 80 of the politically charged, 1,000 Days, 1,000 Songs project.

Interestingly, Snider was impressed by Brooklyn-based producer and electronic music artist Brothertiger‘s re-imainging of Tears for FearsSongs from the Big Chair and asked  him to remix the EP’s sole love song, “Moving Me,” and Brothertiger turns the sparsely arranged, singer/songwriter ballad into a decidedly 80s synth pop-inspired track featuring shimmering arpeggiated synths and big, gated reverb-based beats over which Snider’s plaintive vocals float ethereally — and while further cementing the Brooklyn-based producer’s reputation for a sound that’s reminiscent of JOVM mainstays Washed Out and Moonbabies, Brothertigter retains the song’s swooning Romanticism and honesty.






The new single releasing November 3 is called “Moving Me (Brothertiger Remix).” The original version was part of a very political EP. We took the one love song from that package and had Brothertiger give it a chill wave makeover. Brothertiger’s reimagining of “Songs From the Big Chair” by Tears for Fears is what made us want to work with him.






Live Footage: The Dream Eaters “Neanderthals” in Studio

If you were frequenting this site earlier this year, you may recall a couple of posts I wrote about New York-based dream pop duo The Dream Eaters. Comprised of  Boston, MA-born, New York-based composer and songwriter Jake Zavracky and Vancouver Island, BC-born, New York-based vocalist and musician Elizabeth LeBaron, the New York-based dream pop duo can trace their origins together back to 2015. After playing and touring in obscurity both in his hometown and New York, Zavaracky had decided to give up music and for a period of time he was working in a Brooklyn dive bar, where he met LeBaron, a fellow bartender and musician, who had recently relocated to New York. When they both discovered that they were musicians, they found an instant connection and began collaborating together — although the initial arrangement was that Zavaracky had written songs for LeBaron. However, when they realized that their harmonies helped create a truly unique sound, they recognized that the best thing would be to write, record, and perform together. 

Initially writing and performing as Jake and Elizabeth, the duo saw a rapidly growing profile; however, as they began to further refine their sound, they felt that it was necessary to rebrand themselves, eventually taking up the name The Dream Eaters. And as The Dream Eaters, Zavracky and LeBaron released their self-produced debut EP Five Little Pills, an effort which has proven to be the precursor of the bare-bone production and sparse yet hauntingly gorgeous sound of their full-length debut, We Are A Curse and its first single “Dead On The Inside.” Sonically speaking, the duo pairs LeBaron’s lilting and effortless vocals with gently strummed folk-like guitar and chiming percussion with a soaring hook which displays the duo’s stunning harmonizing. And while bearing a resemblance to Moonbabies’ Wizards on the Beach, the song manages to sound as though it nods at Nick Drake and Crosby, Stills, and Nash-era folk. Thematically speaking, the song as the duo explained focuses on becoming unmoored and getting lost, and walking around with the realization that you’re living in a murky, anxious and unforgiving dream, evoking what many of us feel living in this surreal political climate; and while being a gorgeous and understated protest song, there’s an underlying sense of resolve and determination to survive and overcome the dark days ahead.

Interestingly, “Neanderthals,” We Are A Curse‘s second and latest single wasn’t originally meant to be on the album — and according to Zavracky is a revised and altered version of a song that he had originally written towards the end of the Bush Administration. After the 2016 presidential election the song seemed sadly relevant again, and ultimately came together very quickly. As Zavracky explains the song starts with a very pessimistic us vs. them mentality but takes on an optimistic, sort of “Don’t let the bastards grind you down” type of sentiment. “It’s mean to be more inspirational than negative by the end,” Jake Zavracky says. Elizabeth LeBaron adds that over the past couple of months, the song has grown and developed a much deeper meaning, even after they had finished it. “When we decided to record this song, the Women’s March was breaking records all over the world and this song felt like an anthem. ‘They won’t make us crawl / They’re all neanderthals’ are words that I think will resonate with anyone who is against the ‘archaic’ ideologies being pushed by the new administration,” LeBaron says. Sonically,   the duo pairs shuffling, trip hop-inspired beats with their gorgeous harmonies, twinkling keys and a soaring, anthemic hook to craft what may be the most strident and forcefully political song they’ve released to date.

With the assistance of their PR firm, Behind the Curtains Media, the New York-based dream pop duo recently released live footage, performing “Neanderthals” in the studio. Check it out.