Tag: Fugazi

Toronto-based electronic act Holy Fuck — Brian Borcherdt, Graham Walsh, Matt McQuaid and Matt Schultz — have a long-held reputation for playing by their own rules, never being overly concerned about chasing the limelight or after genre-based trends. They’re also known for employing the use of instruments and non-instruments including a 35mm film synchronizer, toy keyboards and toy phaser guns to achieve electronic-sounding effects without the use of laptops, programmed backing tracks, splicing and so on.
Last year, I wrote about two singles off acclaimed electronic act’s soon-to-be released fifth album, Deleter:  “Luxe,” which managed to be both the first bit of new material from the act since the release of 2017’s Bird Brains EP. Clocking in a little over six minutes, the song can trace its origins back to a spontaneous encore jam at Luxembourg, Belgium. As the story goes, once they had the early elements of the track worked on in the studio, they sent it to to their good friend and casual musical mentor Kieran Hebden, best known as Four Tet, who picked the early version of “Luxe” as a standout. The Canadian quartet then invited Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor to contribute vocals. Taylor not only jumped at the opportunity but went to Jack White‘s Third Man Studio in Nashville to record his vocals on White’s 1947 Voice-O-Graph.

“Among more literal translations, ‘Luxe’ is the short form of Luxembourg – the city in which the nexus of the song was created,” the members of Holy Fuck explain in an extensive statement. “On this particular night, during soundcheck, we had a pulsing minimal synth loop we’d been tinkering around with. (We were listening to lots of TRAX Records stuff on that tour.) We decided that if the crowd demanded an encore we’d go for it. ‘Luxe’ was the result. Or – as it was then called on the live recorded MP3 – ‘Luxembourg Encore’. Once home from tour we took all the live demos back to the drawing board. We shared everything with our friend Kieran Hedben aka Four Tet. His always-intuitive advice was that he heard a great club track in his ‘very favorite thing here’: ‘Luxembourg Encore’”.
The next moment of discovery came when Graham suggested the band scrap Brian’s vocals and give it to Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. When we presented Alexis with the concept our reference notes to him, based around Brian’s temporary vocals, were ‘like an old sample you’d dig up off an old folk record… and approached more like a classic house track’. He responded, ‘We could try to record the vocal in a Voice O Graph booth (an obsolete 1940s coin operated phonograph booth) if we can access one…’. As far as we’re aware, there are only two in the world – one in Liverpool (that apparently doesn’t work anymore) and the other at Jack White’s Third Man studio in Nashville. And that is where Alexis sang ‘I’d like to scrap all of this and start over again.’ Fittingly, it was New Year’s Eve.”
Interestingly, “Luxe” serves as the first official single off the band’s soon-to-be released fifth album Deleter. Slated for release this Friday, the album’s material finds the Canadian electronic act pushing their sound in a very different direction — polyrhythmic and pleasure focused, the members of Holy Fuck mesh elements of krautrock and deep house with motorik percussion. Thematically, the album reportedly explores what happens when humanity and technology coalesce into one big, semi-organic celebration of the joys of spontaneity, repetition and individuality. As the band puts it, “the robots are smarter than ever, and the algorithm knows more and more what we like as individuals, but we have to remind ourselves that there is music in the margins that can go missing and that that music is more important than ever.”
Deleter‘s second single, the expansive, roughly six an da half minute “Free Gloss” was centered around a glistening synth-like arpeggio and atmospheric feedback, a sinuous bass line, a motorik groove, and plaintive and ethereal vocals from POND‘s Nicholas Albrook. And much like its predecessor, the album’s second single wound up being a seamless synthesis of hypnotic and driving pulsation, ethereal atmospherics and dance floor friendly thump. “Deleters,” the album’s third single and sort of album title track continues a run of motorik groove-led, euphoric club bangers centered around thumping four-on-the-floor, retro-futuristic-like sounds, a propulsive bass line and guest spot from Liars’ Angus Andrew, who contributes backing vocals.  “The song ‘Deleters,’” write Holy Fuck, “started at a party in the woods of rural Quebec. Set up on the forest floor, literally over moss covered tree roots we decided to make up a new hour-long improvised set in front of a crowd of people dancing amongst the trees. From that session two songs emerged and found their way onto the new record. This is the first time we selected a song from the record to also be a title track — but there really isn’t a reason for it other than we thought it sounded cool, like a modern version of Fugazi‘s Repeater or Depeche Mode‘s Violator (or even KissDestroyer, though in name only). Our friend Angus from Liars doubles Brian’s vocals giving the track a nice punch.”
The act will be embarking on a roughly two month North American, UK and European Union tour to support Deleter. The band recently added a handful of East Coast and Canadian tour dates. The added tour dates include a June 12, 2020 stop at Elsewhere Hall.
Check out the tour dates below.
Tour Dates:
Holy Fuck Tour Dates:
03/23/20 – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
02/24/20 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah
03/25/20 – Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room
03/27/20 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
03/28/20 – San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
03/30/20 – Portland, OR @ Lola’s Room
03/31/20 – Seattle, WA @ Nuemos
04/01/20 – Vancouver, BC @ Fortune Sound Club
04/03/20 – Calgary, AB @ Broken City
04/04/20 – Saskatoon, SK @ Amigo’s Cantina
04/06/20 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
04/07/20 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
04/24/20 – Antwerp, BE @ Trix
04/25/20 – Luxembourg @ Out of The Crowd Festival
04/27/20 – Birmingham, UK @ The Hare & Hounds
04/28/20 – Brighton, UK @ Chalk
04/29/20 – Cardiff, UK @ Clwb lfor Bach
04/30/20 – Manchester, UK @ Yes (basement)
05/03/20 – Glasgow, UK @ Slag & Dagger Festival
05/05/20 – Barcelona, ES @ La Nau
05/06/20 – Oviedo, ES @ La Lata de Zinc
05/07/20 – Vigo, ES @ Radar Estudios
05/09/20 – Valencia, ES @ La Pérgola
05/23/20 – London, UK @ All Points East
06/09/20 – Washington, DC @ Rock and Roll Hotel
06/10/20 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
06/12/20 – Brooklyn, NY @ ELSEWHERE: Hall
06/13/20 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
06/15/20 – Montréal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz PDB
06/17/20 – Ottawa, ON @ Bronson Centre
06/19/20 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace

 

Comprised of founding members Wes Salton (guitar, vocals) and Jason Chiarella (bass, synths) with Adam Reeve (drums, vocals) and Jack Faulkner (guitar, synths), the Nashville, TN-based post-punk quartet Telefones can trace their origins to when its founding members started the band while they were both high schoolers in Atlanta. Later, Salton and Chiarella relocated to Nashville, where they met Faulker and Reeve, who joined the band to flesh out its sound and complete its lineup.  Sonically, the band draws influence from the likes of Fugazi, The Modern Lovers and Buzzcocks — and from “Castle Factory,” the A-side single off their forthcoming “Castle Factory”/”Vitamins”  7 inch, the band specializes in a blistering and raw, garage punk that would make John Dwyer proud while recalling The Stooges and others.

 

 

 

 

New Video: The Tender and Gorgeous Visuals for Xylouris White’s “Daphne”

Over the past 12-18 months 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 Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Cat Power, Bill 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.

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 intuitively 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.

The duo’s third, full-length effort together, Mother was released earlier this year, 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 recently released video features White’s and Xylouris’ mothers dancing to the song in their homelands of Australia and Crete, Greece respectively. As White explained both in press and to Brooklyn Vegan, “For this clip they are dancing separately but both connecting with their sons’ music through dance. They are also relating to the ground they are dancing on, one in Australia and one in Crete.” The visuals convey and emphasize a remarkable tenderness — and well, it should make you think of your own mother. 

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 

Last month, I wrote about the up-and-coming Tel Aviv, Israel-based indie rock quartet Document, and as you may recall, the band, which is comprised of Nir Ben Jacob (vocals, guitar), Yanniv Brenner (Guitar), Amit David (Bass) and Amir Reich (Drums) can trace their origins to 2008. Once Jacob and finished college, he moved back to Tel Aviv and began hanging out with his cousin and a couple of his friends. And as bored 20-somethings, who were the only ones among their peers listening to Wire, The Fall, Fugazi, Dinosaur, Jr. and others, they decided to start a band and to write and play music together. In their native Israel, the indie rock quartet have developed a reputation for writing material that focuses on our obsessions with technology and our increasing disconnection with others, dealing with soulless bureaucracy and corruption, the seemingly endless banality of modern life, and the constant oscillating anxiety, outrage, hope and joy that many of us feel on a regular basis.

Hustle” off the band’s soon-to-be released album The Void Repeats focuses on the sort of digital addiction that removes you from connecting with others or from being in that particular moment; where a screen is an extension of one’s self and one’s life. Some time ago, I was sitting in a Center City, Philadelphia bar, chatting with a couple of very lovely locals but at some point the conversation stopped as they began to focus on Snapchatting into the internet void. As the band’s Nir Ben Jacob said of the song at the time, “Phones are the roots that allow us to be connected to everything else. We‘ve rooted ourselves in our modernity. Our identities can change online. We project what we want others to see. The screen has become a mirror. The phone takes away the ability to be intimate, and you are left alone with a distortion of reality. There’s the addiction of immediate gratification, the online approvals are ‘pseudo-pleasure’. This has all led to pointless compulsive behavior.”  Sonically speaking, the song is a scuzzy and angular post-punk single that’s clearly influenced by the likes of Wire and Gang of Four but it bristles with an ironic and incredibly post modern awareness while possessing incredibly tight, infectious hooks and a cool, self-assuredness beyond their relative youth.
The up-and-coming Israeli band’s latest and last single “Red Tape” as the band’s Jacob explains “refers to dealing with bureaucracy — specifically government agencies that are meant to serve the people, when in fact, they have made things so extremely complicated that you are lost and get screwed over if you’re not careful.” Sonically, while the song finds the band drawing from the hook-laden anthemic, garage rock and guitar rock of Pavement and others; but underneath the surface the song bristles with the bitter frustration of recognizing that you’re getting fucked over, and that no one who’s supposed to help you will help.

 

Live Footage: Xiu Xiu Covers ZZ Top on AV Club “Undercover”

I’ve long been a fan of The Onion AV Club, as I think they’ve consistently offered some of most incisive and hilarious criticism of movies, movies and pop culture, written by some of the country’s smartest critics and writers. And it shouldn’t be surprising that for a long time I longed to write for them. Now, since moving exclusively to the interwebs, the folks at The Onion AV Club created the Undercover video series.  The concept behind the video series is pretty interesting — every season, the website’s writers and editors devise a list of songs that they would love to hear some contemporary artist or band cover.

The website’s staff then invites artists and bands over to their Chicago studio, where the invited band chooses a song from the AV Club’s list for that particular session — and then the band or artist records it in a live session. Here’s where things get truly interesting: Once a song is chosen and then covered, it’s crossed off their list, reducing the number of songs anyone else can cover that season, so if an artist or band is invited later on in their season, their choices may be much more limited than a band that was invited earlier. By doing that, it prevents having several invited artists or bands from covering the same sets of songs over and and over and over again.

And while revealing the influences and tastes of many contemporary acts, it also forces artists out of their confront zones, sometimes to a gloriously weird result — such as  They Might Be Giants’ boisterous  cover of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and Screaming Females‘ feral, punk rock cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Gwar’s thrash punk covers of Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams (And Into My Car),”  and  Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” which are so fucking awesome, that you need to check them out below) or to the “oh shit, I never thought that artist could pull that song,” like  Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater’s collaborative cover of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” And as you can imagine, sometimes the covers are straightforward — and other times, the band or artist brings a unique, never thought of take. Adding to the unpredictability of the series, they’ve had Shearwater cover Bowie’s Lodger in its entirety.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of this very strange year, you may recall that to start off the eighth season of Undercover, The A.V. Club invited the Seattle, WA-based indie rock blogosphere darlings Minus the Bear to their newly redesigned Chicago studio, where they played a forceful and lovingly straightforward cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.” Adding to a pretty interesting season of covers, The A.V. Club invited renowned and incredibly prolific experimental indie rock act Xiu Xiu into the studio, where they contributed a tense, manic, almost Devo “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”-like cover of ZZ Top’s smash hit “Sharp Dressed Man,” complete with a wild drum accompaniment that brings new life to an oft covered song. 

Along with their John Congleton-produced 11th full-length effort FORGET, which was released earlier this year, the members of Xiu Xiu will be releasing a split 7 inch with Italian band (r) and it’ll feature both bands covering ZZ Top. 

As Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart explains in press notes, “It took me a long time to come around to ZZ Top. When I was a kid i thought they were a joke band and their beards and campy sexuality freaked me out. Later on Xiu Xiu tours we would and still do always listen to the Black Flag tour diary Get In The Van wherein Henry Rollins mentions playing ZZ Top to all the punks in England, telling them it was the new Exploited record and watching them cry. 

This was funny and I thought hmmm .  . .

Then after watching a long jag of music documentaries, Billy Gibbons, of ZZ Top, time and time again was a commentator. He was always incredibly smart, clearly deeply devoted to the history of music and insane looking.  

We were asked by the AV Club cover’s series to play a song from a list they had chosen. Everything on the list was a bunch of 90s RnB that I was never into or lame-o indie rock EXCEPT for ‘Sharp Dressed Man.’

The stars had aligned. I had no idea what a radical guitar part it was and what a pleasure it was to learn, by the end of the song I had to have 4 different fuzz and distortion pedals on to make it as zonked out as it needs to be. 

Walking down the streets of Torino on tour and talking with dear friend and long time collaborator Fabrizio Palumbo of (r) and his husband Paul Beauchamp. I mentioned we were covering the song. They said very matter of factly, “‘Xiu Xiu as ZZ Top and (r) as ZZ Bottom. Let’s do a split 7 inch.’”

He sent in his perfect minimal, experimental, goth, cabaret version of ‘Gimme All Your Lovin.’ A perversion made in heaven was born. “

Comprised of Ben Nir Jacob (vocals, guitar), Yanniv Brenner (Guitar), Amit David (Bass) and Amir Reich (Drums), the up-and-coming Tel Aviv, Israel-based indie rock quartet Document can trace their origins back to 2008. As the story goes, once Jacob had finished college, he moved back to Tel Aviv and began hanging out with his cousin and couple of his friends, and as bored 20-somethings, who were the only ones in their age group listening to Wire, The Fall, Fugazi, Dinosaur, Jr. and others, they decided to start a band and to write and play music together. In their native Israel the indie rock quartet have developed a reputation for writing material that focuses on our obsessions with technology and our increasing disconnection with others, dealing with soulless bureaucracy and corruption, the seemingly endless banality of modern life, and the constant oscillating anxiety, outrage, hope and joy that many of us feel on a regular basis.
The Israeli band’s latest single “Hustle” off their forthcoming album The Void Repeats 
will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting material that focuses on modern, daily life — in this case, the sort of digital addiction that removes you from connecting with others or from being in the very moment; where a screen is an extension of one’s life. Interestingly enough, I couldn’t help but think of how I was sitting in a Center City, Philadelphia bar, chatting with two locals, who eventually stopped talking to me to Snapchat endlessly. As the band’s Nir Ben Jacob says of the song, “Phones are the roots that allow us to be connected to everything else. We‘ve rooted ourselves in our modernity. Our identities can change online. We project what we want others to see. The screen has become a mirror. The phone takes away the ability to be intimate, and you are left alone with a distortion of reality. There’s the addiction of immediate gratification, the online approvals are ‘pseudo-pleasure’. This has all led to pointless compulsive behaviour.”
Sonically speaking, the song is a scuzzy and angular post-punk single that’s clearly influenced by the likes of Wire and Gang of Four but it bristles with an ironic and incredibly post modern awareness while possessing incredibly tight, infectious hooks and a cool, self-assuredness beyond their relative youth.

 

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays NØMADS Returns with a Tense and Paranoid New Single

Comprised of Nathan Lithow  (vocals, synths, bass) and Garth Macaleavey (drums), the JOVM mainstay act NØMADS have a rather accomplished history both separately and together, and with the release of 2014’s full-length debut, the duo received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that drew and/or nodded at Nirvana, Fugazi and Girls Against Boys while also nodding at Zack de la Rocha’s post-Rage Against the Machine project, One Day As A Lion  and Japandroids.

After a year-long hiatus from touring and writing, the Brooklyn-based duo spent 2016 writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their sophomore album PHØBIAC, a concept album in which each song focuses on a different phobia, approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion. The result is that the material captures the innermost thoughts and anxieties of someone in the grips of crippling fear; but at its core, is a cautionary message for our heightened and uncertain times — that whenever we succumb to the irrationality of our fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the result.  And throughout the course of the year, the duo have released material off PHØBIAC every month but recently, the duo have announced that they’ll be splitting the album into two separate albums — the organic instrumentation-driven PHØBIAC Part 1 and the synth-driven PHØBIAC part 2. 

This month’s latest single “Phasmophøbia” focuses on the fear of the paranormal and of ghosts — both literal and figurative. Recorded live in Pittsburgh in the murky shadows of an abandoned Catholic school’s furnace room in one full take with no edits, “Phasmophøbia”  consists of a fast and loose, improvised jam-like arrangement featuring swirling and twisting synth chords paired with boom-bap hip-hop-inspired drumming which evoke a sweaty, nauseating paranoia, which shouldn’t be surprising as the song focuses on an ex-lover, who perpetually haunts the street of the paranoid narrator’s daily world; and in fact, the song’s narrator recognizes that his past is sickeningly inescapable. 

Live Footage: Minus the Bear Covers Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” on A.V. Undercover

Going back to their print days, I’ve long been a fan of  The Onion AV Club, as they’ve consistently offered some of the smartest, most incisive, funniest criticism of movies, music and pop culture around. Since moving exclusively to the web, the folks behind The Onion AV Club created the Undercover video series.  The concept behind the video series is pretty interesting — every season, the website’s writers and editors devise a list of songs that they would love to have contemporary artists cover. The website’s staff then invites a bunch of artists and bands to stop by their Chicago studio, where they have the invited band choose a song from the AV Club’s list for that season — and then they record it in a live session. Now, here’s where things get really interesting: Once a song is chosen and then covered, it’s crossed off their list, reducing the number of songs anyone else can cover that season, so if an artist or band is invited later on in their season, their choices may be much more limited than a band that was invited earlier. By doing that, it prevents having several invited artists or bands from covering the same sets of songs over and and over and over again. And while revealing the influences and tastes of many contemporary acts, it also forces artists out of their confront zones, sometimes to a gloriously weird result — such as  They Might Be Giants’ boisterous  cover of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and Screaming Females’ feral, punk rock cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Gwar’s thrash punk covers of Billy Ocean’s “Get Out of My Dreams (And Into My Car),”  and  Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” which are so fucking awesome, that you need to check them out below) or to the “oh shit, I never thought that artist could pull that song,” like  Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater’s collaborative cover of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” And as you can imagine, sometimes the covers are straightforward — and other times, the band or artist brings a unique, never thought of take. Adding to the unpredictability of the series, they’ve had Shearwater cover Bowie’s Lodger. 

To start off the eighth season of Undercover, the A.V. Club invited the Seattle, WA-based indie rock blogosphere darlings Minus the Bear to their newly redesigned Chicago studio, where they played a forceful and lovingly straightforward cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.”