Tag: Geographer

New Video: San Francisco’s Split Screens Releases a Lysergic, Hand-Made Animated Visual for Shimmering “From The Start”

Jesse Cafiero is a San Francisco-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist and animator — and the creative mastermind behind the indie pop/indie rock recording project Split Screens. With the release of his Split Screens full-length debut, 2014’s Before The Storm, Cafiero quickly established a profile for crafting widescreen pop, as the album received praise from the likes of Impose, My Old Kentucky Blog, GoldFlakePaint and others.  

Unfortunately, about a year after the album promotion campaign for Before The Storm, the San Francisco-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist and animator began to experience severe burn-out. “My passion for why I started making music in the first place had started to dwindle,” Cafiero says of that time, “and while it’s never fun to put a project on an indefinite hiatus, that’s essentially what happened.”

In order to keep his creative juices flowing, Cafiero shifted his focus to making collage art and animating music videos for a number of Bay Area-based bands with some of his work being prominently featured on Vice. Unsurprisingly, his forays into visual art eventually led him back to writing music. “Approaching a new art-form really gave me the perspective and confidence I needed to fight back any self-doubt and dig deep into recording this EP,” Cafiero says of that period — and of his soon-to-be released six song EP,  Everyday Static. 

While being the long-awaited follow-up to his critically applauded Split Screens full-length debut, Everyday Static is both a reflection of the burn-out he experienced and the result of a prolonged, deeply personal personal journey as an artist and and as a person. With five years of life behind him, Everyday Static’s material is understandably more mature and focused as its imbued with an understanding and awareness of the passage of time — and of course, of one’s own mortality. Interestingly, the new EP continues Cafiero’s ongoing collaboration with producer and engineer Jeremy Black, who has worked with Langhorne Slim and JOVM mainstay Geographer, as well as Tycho’s Rory O’Connor, who contributes drums throughout the EP. 

Everyday Static’s latest single “From The Start” is a deliberately crafted, swooning bit of guitar pop that thematically and sonically nods at Wall of Sound Phil Spector-esque pop, The Smiths and Patsy Cline-era country, as the song features shimmering lap steel guitar, reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling keys, a soaring hook and Cafiero’s achingly plaintive vocals. Interestingly, the song manages to be unhurried yet an earnest and urgent expression of appreciation and devotion. 

The recently released video for “From The Start” is a fully analog video, painstakingly animated frame-by-frame with images found at library sales, Goodwill and a variety of other donation-based stores with the end result being a lysergic visual that nods at Monty Python and The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour.  “My favorite part about animating with paper collage are the limitations,” Cafiero says. “The imperfections of shooting frame-by-frame really gives the video a human touch, something that I think is missing in our current digital lives.”

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New Video: Rituals of Mine’s Queer “Space Jam” Themed Visuals for Sultry “Burst”

Initially formed in 2009 as Sister Crayon, the acclaimed Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo  Rituals of Mine, currently comprised of singer/songwriter Terra Lopez and percussionist Adam Pierce have received attention for a sound that draws from 90s trip hop, footwork and  downtempo R&B — and for years of relentless touring up and down the West Coast, playing house shows, DIY venues and basements with the likes of The Album Leaf, Built to Spill, Antemasque, Le Butcherettes, Maps & Atlases, Doomtree and others. Adding to a quickly growing profile, the Los Angeles-based duo’s first two albums — 2011’s Bellow and 2013’s Cynic — were released to critical acclaim. 

2015 was a profoundly harrowing and difficult year for Lopez: her father committed suicide and several moths later, her best friend Lucas Johnson tragically died in an accident. Reeling from the grief of inconsolable and unexpected loss, Lopez in a period of deep reflection felt the need to reassess her life and her work in Sister Crayon. She decided to put the Sister Crayon name to rest, moving forward with a new moniker  — Rituals of Mine. As Terra Lopez wrote at the time, “It was a mantra that I repeated under my breath on a daily basis when the loss I was experiencing felt too heavy at times. Music, the act of creating, performing, touring, writing, singing, experimenting – all the rituals we have created to get through life.”

After years of obscuring her own story and emotions through metaphorical lyrics, Lopez felt a sudden confidence to write much more directly about her experiences and life as a queer woman of color. Lopez began fleshing out the material on what would become her Rituals of Mine debut Devoted with her longtime collaborator and producer Wes Jones, who helped turn her heartfelt writing on her trauma and personal growth into urgent and pulsating electronic tracks. Lopez then enlisted Adam Pierce to play drums, knowing that their background in metal percussion would provide an intensity that could match her own.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you might recall that last year was a very busy year for Lopez and Pierce. They opened for a handful of dates for The Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill’s co-headliing tour, including a Chicago area stop last April. They also opened for Garbage during the multi-plantium Grammy Award-winning band’s US tour. They also went on their first UK tour with JOVM mainstay Geographer and The Seshen. 

Interestingly, the duo’s highly anticipated Wes jones and Neal Pogue co-produced follow-up to Devoted, Sleeper Hold EP is slated for an October 4, 2019 release through Carpark Records — and the EP will include the urgent anti-Trump anthem “No Time To Go Numb,” a track that forcefully reminded the listener that now isn’t the time to slink back from the horrors of a power mad, greedy and hateful administration; that we have to be fueled by righteous anger and fight like hell for the things that truly matter.  “Burst,” Sleeper Hold’s second and latest single is a glitchy and hyper-modern bit of electro R&B that’s centered around stuttering beats, tweeter and woofer rocking low end and Lopez’s sultry, self-assured vocals. And while the track may recall Timbaland’s forward-thinking work with Aaliyah and Missy Elliott, Rituals of Mine’s latest single is driven by Lopez’s commitment to unvarnished emotional honesty.  “I made a promise to myself that I’m no longer going to play small or hide behind metaphors, that I’m going to really lean into self-confidence, self-reliance and take up space,” Lopez says in a statement to Billboard. “‘Burst is the beginning of that.” 

Co-directed by Kris Esfandiari and Colette Levesque, the recently released video for “Burst” features Rituals of Mine’s Terra Lopez playing basketball against a team of evil and monstrous figures. At one point, her younger self appears and helps Lopez win the game. According to the statement Lopez wrote to Billboard, the recently released video represents overcoming past trauma to effectively move on in your life, with the young protagonist representing a younger version of herself. “The opponents all represent obstacles I’ve had to face being a queer woman of color in this industry … this video was a way for me to confront both my childhood traumas and adulthood obstacles through the activity that has always grounded me,” she says. “Also, I just really wanted to create our version of a Queer Space Jam for 2019.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Geographer Releases a Wistful Visual for Soaring and Plaintive “Summer of My Discontentment”

JOVM mainstay Mike Deni is a New Jersey-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electro pop artist and producer, best known for his solo recording project Geographer. As the story goes, Deni relocated to San Francisco while living in the aftermath of the sudden and tragic death of his sister — and then the equally unexpected death of his father. While sleeping on a floor of a friend’s Haight-Ashbury apartment, Deni serendipitously found a synthesizer on the street and began to channel his grief and optimism into the songs that would eventually comprise his full-length debut 2008’s Innocent Ghost. And through the release of two more full-length albums 2012’s Myth, 2015’s Ghost Modern and three EPs, 2010’s Animal Shapes EP, 2015’s Endless Motion EP and last year’s Alone Time EP, Deni has received attention across the blogosphere for his unique, textured and soulful blend of analog, electronic  and acoustic elements, a sound that he has described as “soulful music from outer space.” 

Building upon a growing profile, Deni has toured with the likes of K. Flay, The Flaming Lips, Young The Giant, Tycho, Ratatat, Betty Who and Tokyo Police Club, and he played sets at Outside Lands Festival and Firefly Festival. Interestingly, last year the JOVM mainstay gave up his San Francisco apartment and hopped between tours and friends churches for the next six months, including a month stay back in Jersey and a few weeks in Italy (where both sides of his family are from). And he did that before finally relocating to Los Angeles. During that period of shiftlessness in which he was in limbo between his old life and new life, Deni wound up writing the material, which would eventually comprise his recently released New Jersey EP. 

Many of the songs of the New Jersey EP began in his childhood home and were finished at a friend’s Los Angeles home while he was looking for an apartment; in fact, the EP’s first two singles “Love is Wasted in the Dark” and its latest single “Summer of My Discontentment” were part of the first batches of material written during that period. “Summer of My Discontentment” is a perfect example of the JOVM mainstay’s specialty — swooning and earnest 80s-inspired synth pop, centered around a twinkling and arpeggiated piano, thumping beats, a soaring hook and Deni’s plaintive and aching vocals; but unlike some of his previously released material, the song possesses a wistful air that comes from nostalgia for a long-gone, seemingly simpler time that you can’t have ever again — and the dreams your younger self may have given up for the compromises of adulthood. 

Directed by Patrick Mattes, the recently released accompanying video follows a group of young people, full of youthful hopes and dreams on a gloriously sunny day while Deni broodingly sings the song from a different vantage point, during sunset. In some way, the video implies that the action are the reflections and reminiscing of the video’s central character — from the perspective of a complicated adulthood. 

Initially formed back in 2009 as Sister Crayon, the acclaimed Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo  Rituals of Mine, comprised of  Terra Lopez and Dani Fernandez developed a national profile through years of relentless touring up and down the West Coast, playing house shows, DIY venues, basement rooms, followed by touring with the likes of The Album Leaf, Built to Spill, Antemasque, Le Butcherettes, Maps & Atlases, Doomtree and others. Adding to a quickly growing profile, the Los Angeles-based duo’s first two albums — 2011’s Bellow and 2013’s Cynic — were released to critical acclaim, while cementing a reputation for crafting cathartic material centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, soulful vocals and trip hop-inspired production.

2015’s Wes Jones-produced album Devoted continued their successful run of critical applause with the album landing on a number of indie “Top Ten Albums of 2015” lists; but despite the attention the album received, that year was a rather harrowing and difficult year for the duo’s Terra Lopez, as her father committed suicide and several months later, her best friend Lucas Johnson died in a tragic accident. Reeling from the grief of such profoundly unexpected loss, the duo felt the need to put the Sister Crayon name to rest, moving forward with their new mane Rituals of Mine. As Terra Lopez wrote at the time, “It was a mantra that I repeated under my breath on a daily basis when the loss I was experiencing felt too heavy at times. Music, the act of creating, performing, touring, writing, singing, experimenting – all the rituals we have created to get through life.”

2016 saw the re-issue of the Tom Coyne re-mastered Devoted through Warner Brothers Records and the re-issue featured some previous unreleased remixes and B-sides. And although some time has passed since I’ve personally written about the acclaimed Los Angeles-based pop duo, Lopez and Fernandez have been incredibly busy — earlier this year, they opened for a number of dates for The Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill’s co-headliing tour, and they’re currently opening for Garbage during the multi-plantium Grammy Award-winning band’s US tour. Additionally, the duo recently announced their first UK tour in November with Geographer and The Seshen. They’re also currently working on Devoted‘s follow up with longtime producer Wes Jones and Neal Pogue — and the first batch of new material from the duo is the righteously furious anti-Trump anthem “No Time To Go Numb.” Centered around a hyper modern production featuring stuttering and thumping beats, distorted vocal samples over which Lopez sings and spits fire, reminding the listener, that now isn’t the time to slink back from the horrors of a power mad and greedy administration; that it’s time to be fueled by righteous anger and fight like hell for the things that truly matter. As the duo’s Terra Lopez explains in press notes ” We started writing this song on Inauguration Day. It was a bleak time in the studio and we were feeling very hopeless, like most of the country. Two years later and the collective fear and disgust we all felt is still there, if not compounded, and that really inspired every lyric in this song. I wanted to address things that stay on my mind: the mediocrity of men and how our society treats womxn, the strength of the LGBTQ community and the resiliency of POC. I’m angry but also hopeful and ready to fight, to keep fighting. I’m so tired of seeing the same shit repeat itself – it’s time we set the bar higher. This song is an anthem for the LGBTQ community, to womxn and to people of color.

We carry so much on our shoulders, on our hearts. And this current administration continues to burden us and place us in danger, so we have to stick together. This is my way of showing up for us. “

Comprised of Los Angeles-based husband-and-wife duo Bridgette Moody and John Seasons, both of whom share songwriting duties, Haunted Summer have developed a reputation for crafting dreamily hypnotic and lush material complete with string arrangements and sultry electronic textures; in fact, their previous EP, Something in the Water paired their gorgeous sound with a material that lyrically focused on a nostalgic world of young love and long-forgotten memories. Adding to a growing profile, the Los Angeles, CA-based husband-and-wife duo have toured with Taken By Trees, Deafheaven, The Polyphonic Spree, Coeur de Pirate, Olafur Arnalds, Carla Morrison, Meiko, Basia Bulat, JOVM favorite Geographer, Bauhaus‘ David J and others.

Spirit Guides, the duo’s forthcoming full-length effort was written while the duo was touring and was recorded in several different studios including Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree, CA; Jim Henson Studios in Hollywood, CA; Comp-ny LA and studios owned by Eugene, OR-based Ninkasi Brewing and features guest spots from Eagles of Death Metal’s Dave Catching and Masters of Reality‘s Chris Goss. And the album’s latest single “Every Step” finds the band playing anthemic, 90s-inspired alt rock, complete with fuzzy power chords, a rousing hook and a gorgeous melody before a dreamy, Mazzy Star-like coda closes out a song that reminds me quite a bit of Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins, Silversun Pickups and others but with a swooning earnestness.

The duo will be embarking on a West Coast tour throughout July and August. Check out tour dates below.

 

TOUR DATES
07.29.17 – Los Angeles, CA @ Autry Museum
07.30.17 – Phoenix, AZ @ Trunk Space*
07.31.17 – Tucson, AZ @ Sky Bar*

08.01.17 – San Diego, CA @ Blonde Bar*
08.02.17 – Boulder City, NV @ The Tap*
08.03.17 – Redding, CA @ The Dip*
08.04.17 – Salem, OR @ The Space*
08.05.17 – Eugene, OR @ Whiteaker Bloc Party*
08.06.17 – Portland, OR @ Rontoms*
08.07.17 – Reno, NV @ Holland Project*
08.08.17 – San Francisco, CA @ Elbo Room*
08.09.17 – Merced, CA @ CASA*
* = w/Avi Buffalo

As I’ve said countless times on this site, more than enough ink has been spilled over the course of New Order‘s 35 year history, so delving into their background isn’t necessary; but what I will maintain is that throughout the band’s history they’ve managed to balance that rare and difficult tightrope of being both critically and commercially successful. And as a result they’ve also managed to be incredibly relevant, as a growing number of bands have cited them and their sound as a major influence.  Certainly, if you’re a child of the 80s as I am, Duran Duran, Guns ‘N Roses, Def Leppard, Run DMC, New Order and a lengthy list of others will likely hold a very dear place in your heart. So it wouldn’t be terribly surprising that a number of artists have covered New Order over the years — with an increasing frequency of late. . .

Now if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three or four weeks, you might recall that I’ve written about the San Francisco-based indie pop artist Mike Deni’s solo recording project Geographer. The project has developed a reputation for crafting a thoughtful and deliberate sound that meshes blossoming synths with precise orchestral arrangements. And with the release of his critically praised, third, full-length effort, Ghost Modern through Roll Call Records earlier this year, Deni has expanded his profile towards greater national attention.

Interestingly, while taking some time off to write new material over the summer, Deni had worked on a cover/reworking of Arthur Rusell‘s “This Is How We Walk On The Moon,” and the cover was so inspiring to the San Francisco-based electronic music artist that he decided that he should work on an entire effort of covers — and the result was he recently released Endless Motion EP, which features reworking and covers of songs by New Order, Kate BushPaul Simon and Felix Da Housecat.

The EP’s latest single is a cover of New Order’s “Age of Consent” that seems fairly straightforward as Deni has retained all the familiar elements of the song with an exacting verisimilitude; however, Deni’s vocals have a swooning and plaintive quality that pulls the song’s heartache and despair front and center. And although it’s an incredibly subtle and nuanced interpretation, the Geographer cover should remind listeners that New Order wrote a number of songs that wound up becoming remarkably timeless. Check out how it stands up to New Order’s original below.