Tag: Green Man Festival

Interview: A Q&A with The Orielles

I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the rapidly rising and acclaimed Halifax, UK-based act The Orielles over the past couple of years. Founded by siblings Sidonie B. Hand-Halford (drums), Esmé Dee Hand-Halford (vocals, bass) and their best friend Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar, vocals), the JOVM mainstays built up a great deal of buzz, when Heavenly Recordings‘ head Jeff Barrett signed the band after catching them open for labelmates The Parrots in late 2016.

2017’s critically applauded, full-length debut Silver Dollar Moment found the band establishing a genre-defying sound that meshed elements of psych rock, pop and disco centered around surrealistic observations of everyday life. After the release of Silver Dollar Moment, the band’s founding trio recruited Alex Stephens (keys) as a full-time member of the band, expanding the band into a quartet. And with their newest member, they went into the studio to record material that included “Bobbi’s Second World” and a cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane).” Those two singles saw the band’s sound increasingly (and playfully) leaning towards Speaking in Tongues-era Talking HeadsESG and the like, while featuring rock-based instrumentation.

Released earlier this year, The Orielles’ sophomore album Disco Volador continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with producer Marta Salogni – and the album’s material finds the newly constituted quartet pushing their sound towards its outer limits. The end result is that the rapidly rising Halifax-based JOVM mainstays have sonically become astral travelers of sorts, creating mind-bending, trippy and progressive material that features elements of samba, ‘70s disco, boogie funk, 80s New Wave, dance floor grooves and ‘90s acid house. The material also draws from the work of Italian film score composers Sandro Brugnolini and Piero Umiliami, as well as contemporary acts like Khruangbin and Altin Gun. “All the influences we had when writing this record were present when we recorded it, so we completely understood what we wanted this album to feel like and could bring that to fruition,” the band’s Sidonie B. Hand-Halford says in press notes.

Deriving its name from a literal interpretation from Spanish that means flying disc, the band’s Esme Dee Halford says, “ . . . everyone experiences things differently. Disco Volador could be a frisbee, a UFO, an alien nightclub or how you feel when you fly; what happens when to your body physically or that euphoric buzz from a great party. But it’s an album of escape; if I went to space, I might not come back.”

The album also manages to capture the British indie quartet riding high off the success of their critically applauded debut, which included a lengthy and successful summer tour with festival stops Green Man and bluedot. Two official singles have been released off the album so far: the expansive, hook-driven and genre-defying “Come Down On Jupiter,” which features a slow-burning and brooding intro, before quickly morphing into a bit of breakneck guitar pop before ending with a psychedelic freakout – and “Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme),” a shimmering dance floor friendly boogie woogie with an lysergic air. And interestingly enough, the album’s first two singles are perfect examples of how versatile and dexterous the JOVM mainstays are – they’re pulling from a wild and eclectic array of sources, like a bunch of mad, crate-digging audiophiles and meshing them into something familiar yet completely novel.

The members of The Orielles are about to embark on their first North American tour. And as you may recall, the tour will include a handful of sets at the second annual  New Colossus Festival. Unfortunately, SXSW has been cancelled because of COVID 19 – but as of this writing, the band’s West Coast dates are still happening. You can check out those tour dates below.

For JOVM’s latest Q&A, I contacted the members of the British JOVM mainstay act. We discuss Halifax’s local sites of note, their impressive and expansive sophomore album, their cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane),” the gorgeous and cinematic video for “Come Down on Jupiter,” their upcoming Stateside debut and New Festival Colossus Festival sets and more.  Check it out, below.

TOUR DATES:

3/11/2020-3/15/2020 – New York, NY – New Colossus Festival

3/24/2020 – Los Angeles CA – Moroccan Lounge

3/25/2020 – San Francisco CA – Popscene at Rickshaw Stop

3/27/2020– Boise ID – Treefort Music Festival

3/28/2020 – Portland OR – Bunk Bar

3/29/2020 – Seattle WA – Vera Project

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Photo Credit: Holly Fernando

cover The Orielles - Disco Volador 

 

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WRH: If I’m traveling to Halifax and Northern England in general, what should I see and do that would give me a taste of local life? Why? 

The Orielles: In Halifax, we really recommend checking out Revo Records to stock up on some quality vinyl. Then head over to the Meandering Bear for a beer before finishing on a cocktail and The Lantern! Also, The Piece Hall is definitely worth a scoop!

WRH: Are there any bands from Halifax or from Northern England that should be getting love in the States that hasn’t yet – and should be? 

The Orielles: There are a few really sick bands coming out of Halifax and West Yorkshire right now. Most noteably The Lounge Society and Short Causeway. We have also just done a few shows with a great young band from the South of England called Drug Store Romeos. Well worth a listen, they’re gonna be biiiggg!

WRH: How did you get into music? 

 The Orielles:  We have all grown up listening to music and trawling through our parents record collections definitely helped influence our love and passion for music. We started playing music pretty much by chance. When we met each other, only Henry could actually play an instrument, but we decided to meet up and jam together the following day regardless. After that we realised our passion for playing music together was huge and we didn’t want to do anything else.

 WRH: Who are your influences? 

The Orielles: Our main influences include Stereolab, Air, ESG, The Pastels and YMO amongst others!

WRH: Who are you listening to right now? 

The Orielles: Right now, [we’ve] been listening to the new Jessica Pratt record a lot! Also, Big Thief and our faves, Altin Gün.

WRH: How would you describe your sound to someone completely unfamiliar to you? 

The Orielles: We like to describe our sound as post-punk funk.

 WRH: Before you went into the studio to your latest album Disco Volador, the band added keyboardist Alex Stephens. Has the addition of Stephens changed your creative process at all? And if so, how? 

The Orielles: He helped to develop our sound and his expanded knowledge on chords and harmony really worked well with our vision of what we wanted this record to be. The creative process stayed the same, we all still write together, and the recording process has always been very collective and shared. We never like it to be rigid in terms of what we play.

WRH: Sadly, it doesn’t appear on the new album, but I love your cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane).” How did that come about? 

The Orielles:  Thanks! We wanted to cover a song for a B-side and thought it’d be fun to rework something that wasn’t the genre of music that we make already.

We also love that song and listen to a lot of dance and electronic music so had the idea to try add our own personality to the cover.

WRH: Two of my favorite songs on the album are album opener “Come Down on Jupiter” and album closer “Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme).” Can you tell me a bit about what they’re about and what influenced them? 

The Orielles: “Jupiter” is about the idea of fate and being controlled by a potential higher force from outer space. “Space Samba” is a similar idea but more about boogie and having a disco in space!

We were influenced by bands such as Stereolab, Talking Heads, Arthur Russell, and John Coltrane.

WRH: I love Rose Hendry’s cinematic and hallucinogenic video treatment for “Come Down on Jupiter.” How did that collaboration come about? Can you talk a bit about how the treatment came about? 

The Orielles: We met Rose through a recommendation and as soon as we read her treatment we were in love with her creativity and her ability to be able to understand the lyrics and the ideas of the song on a deeper level.

We think she’s done a really great job of it and are very proud.

WRH: With the release of your debut, 2017’s Silver Dollar Moment, the band went from being one of the most exciting, emerging bands in Northern England to becoming an international blogosphere sensation, playing some of the biggest festivals of the UK touring circuit. How does it feel to be in the middle of that whirlwind of attention and activity?  

The Orielles: It’s really surreal! We definitely didn’t expect for our music to be so well received and for that we’re eternally grateful.

WRH: From what I understand, as you were touring to support Silver Dollar Moment, the members of the band wound up absorbing a wider and more eclectic array of music and sounds – in particular the film scores of Sandro Brugnolini and Piero Umilani, as well as the work of Khruangbin and Altin Gun (who I really dig, by the way). And sonically, the album does manage to reflect getting into a wider variety of things, throwing them into a big old pot and mixing them into something that’s sort of recognizable and sort of alien. So as a result, the material on Disco Volador seems like a bold and self-assured expansion of your sound. Was this intentional? And how much did Altin Gun influence the overall sound and aesthetic? 

The Orielles: I guess it was sorta intentional. We don’t really listen to a lot of western music and prefer exploring other styles and eras.  I think just expanding our musical palette meant that this progression came naturally.

We have been listening to Altin Gun for a while now after first seeing them play in Utrecht. We love the way that they can make traditional Turkish folk songs very danceable and fun and wanted to replicate that idea with guitar music.

WRH: There are brief hints at 80s New Wave – there’s a brief 30 second or so sequence on “Rapid I” that reminds me of Stop Making Sense-era Talking Heads before closing out with a house music-influenced freakout coda. How much did house music and New Wave influence the material? 

 The Orielles: Those genres inspire us a lot. We feel that they are often a lot more interesting than straight up guitar indie etc. We also really wanted to have a go at creating guitar music that people can have a boogie to.

WRH: Disco Volador finds the band returning to the same studio you recorded Silver Dollar Moment and continuing an ongoing collaboration with Marta Salogni. How has it been to work with her? 

The Orielles: Working with Marta is incredible! She’s such a great energy and has a really special and inspiring knowledge of musical production. She’s also a great storyteller and really hilarious!

WRH: You’re about to embark on a handful of sets at this year’s New Colossus Festival here in NYC, before heading down to Austin for SXSW. If I’m not mistaken, these sets will be your first Stateside shows. Are you excited? Nervous? What should Stateside audiences expect from your live show? 

The Orielles:  That’s right! It’ll be our first time playing there. We’re very excited! We are hugely inspired by the NYC late 70s/80s art and music scene and so playing out there will feel special to us.

WRH: Is there anything you’re looking forward to on your first Stateside tour? 

The Orielles:  We’re looking forward to living up to our collective nickname and being proper ‘thrift shop cowboys’. Also excited for hopefully a bit of Vitamin D in California lol.

WRH: Provided that you’ll have the chance to do so: Is there anyone you’re looking forward to catching at New Colossus? 

The Orielles: Looking forward to catching label mates, Stealing Sheep as well as a band from Bilbao, Belako.

WRH: After you play New Colossus and SXSW what’s next for you? Will there be more Stateside tour dates? 

The Orielles: Yes! After the festivals we do a short headline tour of the West Coast. Doing LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Treefort Festival in Boise.

 

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Rachel Huggins is an emerging London-based singer/songwriter, soul and R&B artist, who has had a lifelong passion for music. Although some of her earliest musical memories are of performing at school and at church, her roots in music may have even earlier origins: “My mother had a dream whilst she was pregnant with me,” Huggins explains in press notes, “and in it, she says that she remembers me being a baby, running across a large room to a white piano, where I started playing it. Perhaps this is why they wanted me to learn piano, who knows?”

Throughout her studies, the emerging London-based singer/songwriter, and soul and R&B artist performed across town, eventually founding a gospel choir. While studying music business and production and sociology at the University of Westminster, Huggins began to form her identity as a singer/songwriter and musician — and as a performer, with a stint as a backing vocalist for Billy Ocean and singing the National Anthem for Nelson Mandela.

Since then, Huggins has been extremely busy: she has been a two-time finalist in the BBC’s Gospel Choir of the Year competition, featured as a backing vocalist for DJ Vadim and Sola Rosa — and she has played at Glastonbury Festival, Green Man Festival, Kendal Calling and Secret Garden Party, while finishing up a Masters of Arts in Culture, Language and Identity in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Huggins’ forthcoming EP Keep Dreaming is slated for release later this year. Inspired by and grounded in gospel, soul and jazz, Huggins’ solo work is centered around tales of love and aspiration, with the hopes of lifting and inspiring listeners. The EP’s first single “Take Control” was written after she made the decision to leave a stressful and unfulfilling day job to pursue her dreams. “It’s about acquiring freedom to express without inhibition,” the emerging London-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Sometimes we care so much about the thoughts of others we lose ourselves and momentarily become what others want or expect whilst suppressing who we really are.  I choose to fight and encourage people along the way.”

Keep Dreaming‘s second and latest single “Feels so Good” is a sultry, mid-tempo ballad, centered around a classic soul-inspired arrangement that’s roomy enough to let Huggins’ easygoing yet self-assured and soulful vocals guide the song forward. At its core, the song is a sweet and swooning, old-fashioned love song that sounds as though it could have been released during Motown‘s heyday — or on Daptone Records. “‘Feels So Good’ is an old-fashioned love story,” the rising London-based artist explains in press notes. “It’s an expression of love similar to that which would have been once shared in a love letter. Sometimes we admire people from a distance, and the other person never really knows how valued they are to someone else. If someone makes you feel good, tell them!”

 

 

 

Natasha Khan is a Brighton, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project Bat For Lashes — and for being the vocalist for Sexwitch, a collaboration with the members of British psych rock act TOY and producer Dan Carey. Born to an English mother, Josie and Pakistani squash player Rehmat Khan, Natasha Khan traces some of the influences of her musical career to attending her father’s and her uncle’s Jahangir’s squash matches, which she felt inspired her creativity: “The roar of the crowd is intense; it is ceremonial, ritualistic. I feel like the banner got passed to me but I carried it on in a creative way. It is a similar thing, the need to thrive on heightened communal experience.” Her father left when she was 11, and she taught herself to play the piano, which quickly became an important channel to express things, to get them out.

Khan’s debut single “The Wizard” was released digitally through Drowned in Sound Records and on seven-inch vinyl through her own imprint, She Bear Records. By 2006, she caught the attention of Echo Label, a record label owned by Chrysalis Records that acted as an incubator for emerging artists and assisting their careers while moving them to major labels. Echo released her debut, 2006’s Fur and Gold. The following year, Khan and Echo signed an international licensing deal with Parlophone Records, who re-released Fur and Gold that year. The album reached #48 on the UK Albums Charts and since its release, it’s been certified gold. Building upon a growing profile, the British singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer played at Glastonbury Festival and toured across the States. The album was shortlisted for that year’s Mercury Prize, losing to Klaxons’ Myths of the Near Future, despite being critically applauded and named a heavy favorite to win. She won ASCAP’s Vanguard Award, which resulted in her performing at their “ASCAP Presents . .  .” SXSW showcase.

2008 continued an incredible run by the British singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist as she was notated for two Brit Awards — British Breakthrough Act and British Female Solo Artist. She opened handful of dates for Radiohead, and she released a cover of The Cure’s “A Forest,” which appeared on the Perfect as Cats charity album.

Khan’s sophomore album, 2009’s David Kosten and Khan-co-produced Two Suns was inspired by a trip she took to Joshua Tree, CA. The album focuses on her desert-born alter ego Pearl, whose personality she adopted while living in New York. Sonically, the material was inspired by the Brooklyn bands that had started to receive attention nationally and internationally at the time — in particular, TV on the Radio, MGMT, Gang Gang Dance and others. Interestingly, the album also found her collaborating with the members of Yeasayer, who contributed bass and beat programming. The album debuted at #5 on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified gold as a result of “Daniel,” which peaked at #36 on the UK Singles Chart. “Daniel” later won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song and was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year. Additionally, Khan received her second Mercury Prize nomination and a second BRIT Award nomination for British Female Solo Artist.

Summer 2009 saw her play at Glastonbury Festival, Somerset House and the iTunes Festival, which was followed by a special edition of Two Suns, which was released ahead of her October UK tour an included a cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody.”

Khan’s third Bat for Lashes album, 2012’s The Haunted Man debuted at #6 on the UK Albums Chart, her second consecutive Top 10 album, an effort that has since been certified silver. Khan was nominated for her third Best British Solo Female BRIT Award and was nominated for two Ivor Novello Awards — Best Song Musically and Best Song Lyrically for album single “Laura.” That year saw her play at Coachella Festival. She also opened for Blur and Depeche Mode.

During a surprise 2015 Green Man Festival set in Wales, Khan debuted her collaboration with Dan Carey and TOY — Sexwitch. That September, the project released its self-titled debut through Echo and BMG, which featured six covers of 1970s psych and folk from different parts of the world.

2016 saw the release of her fourth full-length album The Bride, an album that was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

Khan’s fifth album Lost Girls was released last fall through AWAL Recordings, and the album continues a run of concept albums: in this case, the material was centered around an off-kilter coming of age film, in which bands of marauding female biker gangs roam the streets — and teenagers make out on car hoods. The female characters throughout are parallel to the protagonists of her previously released albums — most notably, the street tough, darkness-driven Pearl from Two Suns. The album’s main character Nikki Pink, was one of the album’s central Lost Girls. And at its core, the album thematically is a loving and romantic homage to all things Los Angeles, being a child of the 80s and the films that influenced Khan. Sonically, the album found Khan mixing sounds she’s long loved — heavy bass lines, synth arpeggios, Iranian pop beats and cascading chorus which help evoke an achingly wistful air.

Khan recently released a four song live EP recorded at London-based venue EartH that features a stripped down versions of “Daniel,” “Desert Man” and “The Hunger” off Lost Girls featuring Khan accompanying herself on piano and organ. The EP’s first official single is a slow-burning,  stripped down, atmospheric cover of Don Henley‘s “The Boys of Summer” centered around twinkling keys and Khan’s expressive vocals.  Khan’s Bat for Lashes cover retains the song’s awareness of the passing of time, the end of youthful innocence — of a darker, more uncertain adult world just over the horizon.

Interestingly, the EP comes just before Khan embarks on a Winter North American tour — and it serves as a taste of what fans should expect: intimate renditions of the material off Lost Girls, as well as never performed songs and some surprises.

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays The Orielles Release a Trippy and Shimmering, Dance Floor Friendly Single

I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the rapidly rising Halifax, UK-based act The Orielles over the past couple of years. Founded by siblings Sidonie B. Hand-Halford (drums), Esmé Dee Hand-Halford (vocals, bass) and their best friend Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar, vocals), the JOVM mainstays built up a great deal of buzz, when Heavenly Recordings‘ head Jeff Barrett signed the band after catching them open for labelmates The Parrots in late 2016.

2017’s critically applauded, full-length debut Silver Dollar Moment found the band establishing a genre-defying sound that meshed elements of psych rock, pop and disco centered around  surrealistic observations of every day life. Interestingly, after Silver Dollar Moment, the band’s founding trio recruited Alex Stephens (keys) as a full-time member of the band, expanding the band into a quartet. And with their newest member, they went into the studio to record material that included “Bobbi’s Second World” and a cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane).” Those two singles saw the band’s sound increasingly (and playfully) leaning towards Speaking in Tongues-era Talking Heads, ESG and the like, while featuring rock-based instrumentation. 

Last year, the JOVM mainstays were busy working on their highly-anticipated sophomore album Disco Volador. “Its literal interpretation from Spanish means flying disc but everyone experiences things differently. Disco Volador could be a frisbee, a UFO, an alien nightclub or how you feel when you fly; what happens to your body physically or that euphoric buzz from a great party,” the band’s Esme Dee Halford suggests in press notes. “But it is an album of escape; if I went to space, I might not come back.”

Slated for a February 28, 2020 release, Disco Volador continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with producer Marta Salogni while reportedly finding the newly constituted quartet pushing their sound towards its outer limits with the band being astral travelers, creating progressive and trippy material that draws from samba, 70s disco, boogie funk, dance floor grooves and 90s acid house. And they do so while expanding their influences further to include the work of Italian film score composers Sandro Brugnolini and Piero Umiliami, as well as contemporary acts like Khruangbin and Altin Gun. “All the influences we had when writing this record were present when we recorded it, so we completely understood what we wanted this album to feel like and could bring that to fruition,” the band’s Sidonie B. Hand-Halford says in press notes.

Disco Volador also manages to capture the rapidly rising British indie act riding high off the success of their debut, which included a lengthy and successful summer tour with festival stops Green Man and bluedot. Late last year, I wrote about “Come Down On Jupiter,” Disco Volador’s first single further cemented the band’s genre-defying sound, as it was centered around an expansive song structure: starting with a slow-burning and brooding into, the song quickly morphed into a breakneck guitar pop with a psychedelic-tinged freak out. While retaining the razor sharp, infectious hooks that helped the British indie act win attention nationally and internationally, “Come Down On Jupiter” also managed to be an example of how versatile the British JOVM mainstays can be. “Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme),” the album’s latest single is a shimmering disco-tinged track, featuring propulsive polyrhythm led by four-on-the-floor drumming, layers of reverb-drenched, shimmering guitar, a sinuous bass line, Esmé Dee Hand-Halford’s ethereal vocals, arguably making it one of the most dance floor friendly and trippier songs they’ve released to date. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Orielles Release a Trippy Visual for Psych Freak Out “Down On Jupiter”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the rapidly rising Halifax, UK-based act The Orielles. And as you may recall, theca which was founded by Sidonie B. Hand-Halford (drums) her younger sister, Esmé Dee Hand-Halford and their best friend Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar, vocals) built up a great deal of buzz surrounding them, when Heavenly Recordings‘ head Jeff Barrett signed the band after catching them open for labelmates The Parrots in late 2016.

2017’s full-length debut Silver Dollar Moment found the band further establishing a genre-defying sound that meshed elements of psych rock, pop and disco centered around  surrealistic observations of every day life. After the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, the band expanded into a quartet when they recruited Alex Stephens (keys) — and with their newest member, they went into the studio to record  “Bobbi’s Second World” and a cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane)” that found the band’s sound playfully (and increasingly) leaning in the direction of early 80s Talking Heads, ESG and others while still being centered around rock-based instrumentation.

A year has passed since I’ve last written about the JOVM mainstays and as it turns out they were busy working on their highly-anticipated, forthcoming sophomore album Disco Volador. “Its literal interpretation from Spanish means flying disc but everyone experiences things differently. Disco Volador could be a frisbee, a UFO, an alien nightclub or how you feel when you fly; what happens to your body physically or that euphoric buzz from a great party,” the band’s Esme Dee Halford suggests in press notes. “But it is an album of escape; if I went to space, I might not come back.” Slated for a February 28, 2019 release, Disco Volador continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with producer Marta Salogni while reportedly finding the quartet pushing their sonic horizon to its outer limits, as astral travelers of sort, crating progressive and trippy tunes that sonically draws from and meshes cinematic samba, 70s disco, boogie funk, dance floor grooves and 90s acid house — and expanding the influences further to including the work of Italian film score composers Sandro Brugnolini and Piero Umiliami, as well as contemporary acts like Khruangbin and Altin Gun. “All the influences we had when writing this record were present when we recorded it, so we completely understood what we wanted this album to feel like and could bring that to fruition,” the band’s Sidonie B. Hand-Halford explains in press notes. 

The band’s highly-anticipated sophomore album also manages to capture the rapidly rising act in the moment of their post debut album success, which included a lengthy and successful summer tour that included festival stops at Green Man and bluedot. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Come Down On Jupiter” will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting seamless and expansive, genre-defying songs — in this case, you have a slow-burning and brooding intro that quickly morphs into breakneck guitar pop with a psychedelic disco freak out. And while retaining the razor sharp and infectious hooks that won the band attention nationally and internationally, the song is a further example of an insanely versatile band with incredibly dexterous musicianship. 

Directed by Rose Hendry, the recently and incredibly cinematic and hallucinogenic video for “Come Down On Jupiter” was filmed — yes, that’s right it was shot on Kodak film — at Arments Pie and Mash shop in Kensington, London. “When I first heard the track I was immediately transported into some sort of mystery melodrama from another era, with a strong dose of something psychedelic,” Rose Hendry says of the video. “This was my starting point, alongside an image by photographer, Ralph Gibson, of a cup of tea sitting on a beige table, bathed in warm sunlight with a plastic spoon resting against the lip. I enjoyed the idea of centering the video around an incident with a cup of tea — that felt dramatic to me — something “mundane” becoming something dramatic. I wanted to encapsulate the playful psychedelia in a psychological and structural way as opposed to the ‘pastiched to death’ VW campervan kind of way. Add to that toast and the rest developed from there.”

Throughout this site’s nine-plus year history, I’ve written about and championed a number of acts from across Northern Africa — in particular, Mali. During that same period of time,  Mali has been split apart by a bloody civil war between several different factions. In 2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azaward (MNLA) took control of Northern Mail; but shortly after, they were pushed out of the region by Ansar Dine, a jihadist group, which quickly imposed sharia law: cigarettes, alcohol and music were banned across the region. And as a result a large number of the country’s acclaimed musicians including Songhoy Blues’ founding trio Garba Toure, Aliou Toure and Oumar Toure (no relation, but all Songhoy people) were forced to relocate south to Bamako, the country’s capital.

As the members of Songhoy Blues have said, the band was formed “. . . to recreate that lost ambience of the North, and make all the refugees relive those Northern songs.”  The band recruited Nathanael Dembélé to compete their lineup, and began playing shows across the Bamako club circuit, attracting both Songhoy and Tuareg fans.  Interestingly, by September 2013, Africa Express, a collective of American and European musicians and producers led by Damon Albarn traveled to Bamako to collaborate with local musicians. The members of Songhoy Blues successfully auditioned and were introduced to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Nick Zinner, who produced and recorded “Soubour” (which translates into English as “patience”), which appeared on that year’s African Express compilation Maison Des Jeunes. 

Following the success of “Soubour,” the band returned to the studio with Zinner and co-producer Marc-Antoine Moreau to record their 2015 full-length debut Music in Exile, which was a commercial and critical success, receiving praise from The Guardian, NME and others, and as a result the band received nominations for “Best New Act” at the Q Awards and “Independent Breakthrough Act” at the AIM Awards.  The quartet has opened for Alabama Shakes, Julian Casablancas and Damon Albarn, and have played sets at Glastonbury Festival, Bonnaroo Festival, Latitude Festival, Roskilde Festival, Green Man Festival, Byron Bay Bluesfest, WOMADelaide and The Great Escape Festival.

Building upon a growing international profile, the band’s sophomore album, 2017’s Resistance was released to critical praise, with Rolling Stone naming it one of the best albums of that year. Since then, the act has been busy touring, including a stop at Union Pool‘s Summer Thunder last year — and the writing and recording of their forthcoming EP Meet Me in the City, which is slated for an October 18, 2019 release.

The effort finds the acclaimed Malian act collaborating with Will Oldham, Matt Sweeney, Junior Kimbrough and Femi Kuti. Interestingly, the EP’s first single, the Will Oldham, Matt Sweeney and Songhoy Blues co-written “Time To Go Home” may be the most electronic-leaning they’ve released to date, it still retains some dexterous and trippy guitar work and the hypnotic grooves of the Desert Blues. And interestingly enough, it finds the band ambitiously desiring to pass the messages at the heart of their material to a much larger, international audience. (There are two different version of the track. One mixed by Grammy-nominated producer Blake Mills and one mixed by David Ferguson.)

Songhoy Blues says, “We’re really happy to introduce this new EP and our English-language debut on the song ‘Time To Go Home.’ Please enjoy it and get ready for a heavy new album coming up very soon.”

Matt Sweeney adds, “I think it’s safe to say that the brave poets of Songhoy Blues have a different idea what a ‘bad day’ is than pretty much all other rock bands. Their music and singing are powerful beyond words. Making a new song with them was a humbling honor and an unforgettable joy.”

On PBS’ American Masters, Will Oldham spoke of working with Songhoy Blyes, saying, “They are a Malian band that’s really trying to make sense of what they’ve been witnessing, what they’ve been experiencing, and create or transmit a message to people about what they’re seeing and how they’re trying to understand it and make change…And to think, well I want them to know that I’m trying to listen and trying to understand, and if I can give voice to some of what they’re experiencing, that they might be emboldened by this musical connection.”

Songhoy Blues will be embarking on a month long Stateside tour that includes two NYC area dates — September 22, 2019 at The Great Green Wall at The United Nations and October 24, 2019 at Baby’s All Right. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates

09.21 – Franklin, TN – Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival 2019
09.22 – New York, NY – United Nations | Great Green Wall
09.23 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl
09.24 – Birmingham, AL – Saturn
09.26 – Oxford, MS – Proud Larry’s
09.27 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
09.28 – Austin, TX – Antone’s
10.01 – El Prado, NM – Taos Mesa Brewing
10.04 – Los Angeles, CA – Moroccan Lounge
10.05 – Berkeley, CA – Cornerstone Berkeley
10.06 – Petaluma, CA – Mystic Theatre
10.09 – Eugene, OR – WOW Hall
10.10 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
10.11 – Seattle, WA – Columbia City Theater
10.12 – Vancouver, BC, Canada – Rickshaw Theatre
10.15 – Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre
10.17 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club
10.19 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
10.22 – Toronto, ON, Canada – Great Hall
10.24 – Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right
10.25 – Easthampton, MA – New City Brewery
10.26 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall
10.27 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall

New Video: Bat For Lashes Release a Cinematic and Wistful Visual for “Kids in the Dark”

Natasha Khan is a Brighton, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project Bat For Lashes — and for being the vocalist for Sexwitch, a collaboration with the members of British psych rock act TOY and producer Dan Carey. Born to an English mother, Josie and Pakistani squash player Rehmat Khan, Natasha Khan traces some of the influences of her musical career to attending her father’s and her uncle’s Jahangir’s squash matches, which she felt inspired her creativity: “The roar of the crowd is intense; it is ceremonial, ritualistic, I feel like the banner got passed to me but I carried it on in a creative way. It is a similar thing, the need to thrive on heightened communal experience.” Her father left when she was 11, and she taught herself to play the piano, which quickly became an important channel to express things, to get them out.

Khan’s debut single “The Wizard” was released digitally through Drowned in Sound Records and on seven-inch vinyl through her own imprint, She Bear Records — and by 2006, she caught the attention of Echo Label, a record label owned by Chrysalis Records that acted as an incubator for emerging artists and assisting their careers while moving them to major labels. Echo released her debut, 2006’s Fur and Gold. The following year, Khan and Echo signed an international licensing deal with Parlophone Records, who re-released Fur and Gold that year. The album reached #48 on the UK Albums Charts and since its release, it’s been certified gold. Building upon a growing profile, the British singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer played at Glastonbury Festival and toured across the States. The album was shortlisted for that year’s Mercury Prize, losing to Klaxons’ Myths of the Near Future, despite being a named a heavy favorite to win — and being critically applauded. She won ASCAP’s Vanguard Award, which resulted in her performing at their “ASCAP Presents . .  .” SXSW showcase. 

2008 continued an incredible run by the British singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist as she was notated for two Brit Awards — British Breakthrough Act and British Female Solo Artist. She opened handful of dates for Radiohead, and she released a cover of The Cure’s “A Forest,” which appeared on the Perfect as Cats charity album. 

Khan’s sophomore album, 2009’s David Kosten and Khan-produced Two Suns was inspired by a trip she took to Joshua Tree, CA. The album focuses on her desert-born alter ego Pearl, whose personality she adopted while living in New York. Sonically, the material was inspired by the Brooklyn bands that had started to receive attention nationally and internationally at the time — in particularly, TV on the Radio, MGMT, Gang Gang Dance and others. Interestingly, the album also found her collaborating with the members of Yeasayer, who contributed bass and beat programming. The album debuted at #5 on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified gold as a result of “Daniel,” which peaked at #36 on the UK Singles Chart. “Daniel” later won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song and was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year. Additionally, Khan received her second Mercury Prize nomination and a second BRIT Award nomination for British Female Solo Artist. 

Summer 2009 saw her play at Glastonbury Festival, Somerset House and the iTunes Festival, which was followed by a special edition of Two Suns, which was released ahead of her October UK tour an included a cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody.” 

Khan’s third Bat for Lashes album, 2012’s The Haunted Man debuted at #6 on the UK Albums Chart, her second consecutive Top 10 album, an effort that has since been certified silver. Khan was nominated for her third Best British Solo Female BRIT Award and was nominated for two Ivor Novello Awards — Best Song Musically and Best Song Lyrically for album single “Laura.” That year saw her play at Coachella Festival. She also opened for Blur and Depeche Mode. 

During a surprise 2015 Green Man Festival set in Wales, Khan debuted her collaboration with Dan Carey and TOY — Sexwitch. That September, the project released its self-titled debut through Echo and BMG, which featured six covers of 1970s psych and folk from different parts of the world. 

2016 saw the release of her fourth full-length album The Bride, an album that was nominated for the Mercury Prize. 

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through AWAL Recordings, Khan’s forthcoming album Lost Girls continues a run of concept albums in which she creates an off-kilter coming of age film in which fans of marauding female biker gangs roam the streets — and teenagers make out on car hoods. The women characters are parallel to the protagonists of her previously released albums — particularly, the street tough, darkness-driven Pearl from Two Suns. In this case, the album’s main character is Nikki Pink, one of the album’s Lost Girls. Thematically, the album is a romantic album that pays homage to Los Angeles, being a child of the 80s, and to the films that touched and changed her life. 

Sonically, the album finds Khan mixing sounds she’s always loved — heavy bass line, synth arpeggios, Iranian pop beats and cascading choruses. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Kids in the Dark,” is a hazy bit of 80s inspired synth pop centered around shimmering synths, reverb-drenched blasts of guitar, a soaring hook, stuttering beats and Khan’s ethereal vocals, and interestingly enough, the track bears an uncanny resemblance to JOVM mainstay ACES, as it possesses an achingly wistful air. 

Directed by Natasha Khan, the recently released video for “Kids in the Dark” was shot against the Los Angeles hills with the eerie and gorgeous waning of dusk casting shadows — and it emphasizes the song’s wistful air, as it features the Lost Girls and two star-crossed lovers. The video hints at how its protagonist Nikki Pink became a Lost Girl. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Flamingods Release a Lysergic and Feverish Visual for “Olympia”

Over the better part of this year, I’ve written a bit about the acclaimed multi-continental-based psych rock act Flamingods, and as as you may recall, the band’s Bahraini-born founder and frontman, Kamal Rasool has traveled widely to collect rare and unique instruments from Tanzania, The Amazon and elsewhere. When Rasool relocated to London to study music, he recruited a few friends from Bahrain and London to start a band, including the members of the band’s current lineup — Karthik Poduval, Sam Rowe and Charles Prest. Their first live show together was a highly praised, attention-grabbing set during 2010’s ATP Festival, which quickly led to a national profile.

Building upon a growing profile, the members of Flamingods quickly released two EPs, 2010’s Sun and 2011’s Away. 2013’s full-length debut Sun was a reimagining of the material off the EP of the same name that featured “Quesso,” a collaboration with Ponytail‘s Dustin Wong on lead guitar. Around the time of Sun’s release, the British government enacted new visa laws, which forced Rasool to return to Bahrain after finishing school. He then moved to Dubai, where he worked for an independent magazine and coffee shop. And although at that point, the members of the band were rising on different continents and unable to play together, they managed to find a way to continue working on new material, which would eventually become their critically applauded sophomore album, Hyperborea, an album that established a globe-spanning take on psychedelia that the band has dubbed “Exotic Psychedelia.”

During the release of Hyperborea, Prest relocated to Dubai to work closely with Rasool. Shortly after Prest’s relocation, the band began working on their third full-length album, 2016’s Majesty, an album that was largely inspired by the likes of Les Baxter, Tito Puente, Arthur Lyman and others. The album was released to generally mixed reviews, but it was championed by BBC Radio 6‘s Gilles Peterson and Lauren Laverne, who both invited the band to record live sessions. With Rasool and Prest able to return to the UK, the band was finally able to extensively across the UK and the European Union to support the album, including sets at Green Man Festival, End of the Road Festival, and Fusion Festival.

In February 2017, the band signed with Moshi Moshi Records,who released that year’s Kewali EP. The band toured to support the effort, which included their SXSW debut. The band also released a remix album of  Majesty that featured remixes of album material by Ibibio Sound Machine, Meridian Brothers and Oasis‘ Andy Bell. They also released a Dan Carey-produced live version of “Hyperborea.”

The band’s fourth album Levitation was released earlier this year, and the album was largely inspired by the disco, funk and psychedelic sounds out of the Middle East and South Asia in the ’70s — but filtered through mysticism, positivity and sun-drenched imagery. More importantly, the Levitation recording sessions found the band living and working together on the same continent for the first time in about four years. And as a result. the album’s material may arguably be the most unified effort they’ve written and released to date. 

The album’s first single “Marigold” was a trippy bit of psych rock centered around a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths delivered with a Brit Pop-like swagger. Interestingly, the album’s second single, album opening track “Paradise Drive” continues in a fairly similar vein as its predecessor, complete with a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths — but the song may arguably bear the most uncanny resemblance to Evil Heat-era Primal Scream of the entire album.  Interestingly, the album’s latest single is the breezy, Sgt. Pepper-like “Olympia.” Centered around fluttering synths, fuzzy and distorted guitars, a propulsive rhythm section and Rasool’s dreamy vocals the track is a seamless and brightly colored synthesis of 60s psychedelia and Brit Pop. 

Directed by Andrea Mae, the recently released video for “Olympia” is a lysergic fever dream, featuring the members of the band having wild visions while in a sauna. “For this video, I was inspired by the ghosts that haunt each of us human beings. I chose to have one of these as a central character of the narrative and to give it a place filled with light, positivity, or perhaps a touch of humour,” Mae explains. “The sauna was an addition to this concept because it is purifying place, a room where you are in company and in a state of peace. I wanted something that looked like a modern day psychedelic cartoon, but mixed with some vintage, experimental footage to try and create a hybrid that looks part 60’s and part now.”​

New Video: Acclaimed Multi-Continental Pysch Rock Act Flamingods Release a Lysergic Animated Visual for Motorik Groove-Driven Single “Paradise Drive”

Growing up in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Kamal Rasool, the founding member of acclaimed multi-continental-based psych rock act Flamingods has traveled widely to collect rate and unique instruments from Tanzania, the Amazon and elsewhere. When Rasool relocated to London to study music, he recruited a few friends from Bahrain and London to start a band, including the members of the band’s current lineup — Karthik Poduval, Sam Rowe and Charles Prest.  Interestingly, their first live show together was an attention-grabbing show at the 2010 ATP Festival, which quickly led to a national profile.

Building upon a growing profile, the members of Flamingods quickly released two EPs, 2010’s Sun and 2011’s Away. 2013’s full-length debut Sun was a reimagining of the material off the EP of the same name that featured “Quesso,” a collaboration with Ponytail‘s Dustin Wong on lead guitar. Around the time of the album’s release, the British government enacted new visa laws which forced Rasool to return to Bahrain after he finished school. Rasool then moved to Dubai, where he worked for an independent magazine and coffee shop. And although at that point, the members of the band were residing on different continents and unable to play together, they continued to work on new material that eventually wound up becoming their critically applauded Hyperborea, an album that established a globe-spanning take on psychedelia that the band has dubbed “Exotic Psychedelia.”

During the release of Hyperborea, Prest relocated to Dubai to work closely with Rasool. And shortly after that, the members of Flamingods began working on their third full-length album, 2016’s Majesty, an album that was largely inspired by the likes of Les BaxterTito PuenteArthur Lyman and others. Although the album received mixed reviews, it was championed by BBC Radio 6‘s Gilles Peterson and Lauren Laverne, who both invited the band to record live sessions. With Rasool and Prest able to return to the UK, the band was finally able to extensively across the UK and the European Union to support the album, including sets at Green Man Festival, End of the Road Festival, and Fusion Festival.

In February 2017, the band signed with Moshi Moshi Records,who released that year’s Kewali EP and the band toured to support the album, including their SXSW debut. The band also released a remix album of Majesty that featured remixes of album material by Ibibio Sound MachineMeridian Brothers and Oasis‘ Andy Bell. And the band released a Dan Carey-produced live version of “Hyperborea.

Flamingods’ fourth, full-length album Levitation is slated for a May 3, 2019 release through Moshi Moshi Records, and the album is largely inspired by the disco, funk and psychedelic sounds out of the Middle East and South Asia in the ’70s but while channeled through mysticism, positivity and sun-drenched imagery. But perhaps much more important, the Levitation recording sessions found the band living and working on the same continent for the first time in about four years, and as a result, the album’s material may arguably be the most unified effort they’ve written and released in years. The album’s first single “Marigold” was a trippy bit of psych rock centered around a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths delivered with a Brit Pop-like swagger. Interestingly, the album’s second single, album opening track “Paradise Drive” continues in a fairly similar vein as its predecessor, complete with a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths — but the song may arguably bear the most uncanny resemblance to Evil Heat-era Primal Scream of the entire album with the song sounding like a disco-like “Autobahn 66” meets LCD Soundsystem, thanks to the copious use of cowbell.

Animated by Mien’s John Mark, the recently released video uses the incredibly trippy album artwork created by Indonesian artist Ardneks. “I wanted something that looked like a modern day psychedelic cartoon, but mixed with some vintage, experimental footage to try and create a hybrid that looks part 60’s and part now,” Marks says of the video.