Tag: grunge

New Audio: Foo Fighters Release a Socially Conscious Anthem

Early last year, Foo Fighters — Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, and Rami Jaffee — finished work on what would eventually become their tenth full-length album, the Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters co-produced Medicine at Midnight. At the time, Grohl and company intended for the album’s release to coincide with a massive world tour that the applauded act was about to embark on to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. But like countless other acts around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a monkey wrench into their plans.

Because of the uncertainty of the situation, the members of the band waited for a while, trying to figure out what their next steps were, but eventually they all came to the realization that music is meant to be heard, no matter“whether it’s in a festival field with 50,000 of our coolest friends or alone in your living room or on a Saturday night with a stiff cocktail,” the band’s Dave Grohl wrote in an letter accompanying press notes.

Now, as you may recall, Foo Fighters’ tenth album Medicine at Midnight is slated for a February 5, 2021 release through Roswell Records/RCA Records — and they managed to start off the New Year with the enormous arena rock friendly ripper “No Son of Mine,” a track that nods at Ace of Spades-era Mötorhead, Kill ’em All-era Metallica and Queen‘s “Stone Cold Crazy, complete with anthemic, raise-your-beer-in-the-air and shout along worthy hooks.

Medicine at Midnight’s third and latest single “Waiting On A War” continues a remarkable run of arena rock anthems — but in this case, the new single manages to pull from several different Foo Fighters eras — The Colour and the Shape, There Is Nothing Left to Lose and One By One in particular come to mind as a result of its song structure: Beginning with acoustic guitar and string arrangement driven verses and an enormous, rousingly anthemic hook, the song slowly builds up in intensity until the 3:15 mark or so, when the song turns into a cathartic explosion of power chords and thunderous drumming. Lyrically, the song manages to recall ’80s anthems like Nena’s “99 Luftballons,” Sting’s “Russians” and others, and it seems to suggest, much like the old saying, “the more things change, the more things remain the same.” Decades have changed, and we still seem to be on brink of our own annihilation . . .

Interestingly, as Dave Grohl explains in press notes, the song is inspired by personal events — and may be among the more personal songs in the band’s extensive catalog:

“Last fall, as I was driving my daughter to school, she turned to me and asked, ‘Daddy, is there going to be a war?’ My heart sank as I realized that she was now living under the same dark cloud that I had felt 40 years ago,” Grohl recalls.

I wrote ‘Waiting on a War’ that day.

Everyday waiting for the sky to fall. Is there more to this than that? Is there more to this than just waiting on a war? Because I need more. We all do.

This song was written for my daughter, Harper, who deserves a future, just as every child does. “

New Audio: Foo Fighters Release an Enormous, Arena Rock Ripper

Early last year, Foo Fighters — Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, and Rami Jaffee — finished work on what would eventually become their tenth full-length album, the Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters co-produced Medicine at Midnight. Grohl and company originally intended for the album’s release to coincide with a massive world tour that the applauded act was about to embark on to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. Of course, much like countless acts and artists around the world, their plans were put on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The members of the band waited for a while before coming to the realization that music is mean to be heard, no matter what the environment actually was, “whether it’s in a festival field with 50,000 of our coolest friends or alone in your living room or on a Saturday night with a stiff cocktail,” the band’s Dave Grohl writes in a statement. So, they start off the New Year with the the explosive ripper “No Son of Mine.” Centered around chugging arena rock friendly riffs that nod at Ace of Spades-era Mötorhead, Kill ’em All-era Metallica and Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy,” a propulsive rhythm section with thunderous drumming and mosh pit friendly hooks, “No Son of Mine” is the sort of song meant to be played at ear-splitting volumes, while dreaming of the day that we can be in arena or festival ground chugging beers and rocking out with each other.

“This is the kind of song that just resides in all of us and if it makes sense at the time, we let it out,” Dave Grohl explains, adding, “Lyrically it’s meant to poke at the hypocrisy of self righteous leaders, people that are guilty of committing the crimes they’re supposedly against…”

Just imagine how cathartic, how joyous, how fucking urgent that moment will be when the lights come on and your favorite artist/band gets on that stage, and it’s felt like you’ve waited a lifetime to be in that room or on the festival ground, Although I know that day won’t be for a while, I’ve been dreaming of a moment that I’ve missed and longed for with a mad desperation. But it’s getting me through. And I can’t wait to be there with all of y’all.

In the meantime, Medicine at Midnight is slated for a February 5, 2021 release through Roswell Records/RCA Records.

Live Footage: Montreal’s Prieur & Landry Perform New Ripper “Surreal Memories”

Montreal-based duo Prieur & Landry — Gab Prieur and Elliot Landry — have developed and honed a sludgy power chord riff driven rock sound that draws from ’90s grunge rock and ’00s blues rock. But more than mere mimicry, the duo’s sound and approach thrives on a careful balance of intensity and nuance with their live set finding the duo expanding upon riffs and songs structures — at will.

Prieur & Landry recently released a live session shot in a bare, wood shed in Saguenay-Lac- St-Jean, Québec that featured the bluesy “For Once I Breathe in Control” and their latest single “Surreal Memories.” Centered around sludgy power chord driven riffs, thunderous drumming and howled Kurt Cobain-like vocals, “Surreal Memories” finds the Montreal-based duo crafting a mosh pit friendly ripper that will bring memories of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Tool to mind.

Nashville-based melodic, heavy duo Friendship Commanders — Buick Audra (vocals, guitar) and Jerry Roe (drums, bass) — have released two albums and an EP so far, 2016’s Dave, 2018’s Steve Albini-produced Bill and the Hold On To Yourself EP, which was released earlier this year.

Recorded with mix engineer Kurt Ballou, Hold On To Yourself EP finds the band crafting their heaviest batch of material to date while being a sonic and stylistic departure — with the EP’s material introducing a layered, studio polish instead of the raw, mostly lived-tracked approach of their previously released material. Thematically, the EP found the band examining the world around them, including their part in the world’s massive problems and potential solutions, and challenging the patriarchy while also delving deep and discussing being an adult, who has survived childhood trauma. Interestingly, enough the EP’s title essentially summarizes Audra’s message to other survivors — and has been a personal mantra for the Friendship Commanders’ frontperson; she has a habit of writing the phrase “hold on to yourself” every morning as a reminder. “This has been especially true during times of dealing with unsafe family members, abusers, or unwell people,” Audra says in press notes. “With a past of self-abandonment, holding on to myself has to be a focus in everything I do. It’s a good reminder and I always need it. It just seemed like the right set of words for this record.”

“Stonechild”/”Your Reign Is Over” is the first bit of new material since the release of Hod On To Yourself and continues their ongoing collaboration with the mixing and engineering team of Kurt Bailou and Brad Boatright. And although there is a sort of sonic through-line between HOTY and the new singles — with all of the material centered around sludgy power chords, thunderous drumming and rousingly anthemic, mosh pit friendly hooks. However, the new singles find the band moving into new emotional and thematic territory while tackling even tougher subjects. “Stonechild” manages to the outrage over injustice and the ache of unjust loss while “Your Reign Is Over” expresses frustration and a desire to get out there, snatch control from the old bastards fucking things up and making it a better world — right now.

“Stonechild” was written about the circumstances of Stonechild Cheifstick’s death last July 3rd. Chiefstci was a 39 year-old, Chippewa Cree man, who was part of the Suqamish Tribal community and father of five, who was killed by a white police officer. “Through a friend of mine who lives on the Port Madison Reservation, I connected to articles in local publications about his death, all of which I read with horror,” Audra says in press notes. “My brain kept going back to facts of the story: He was murdered by a white police officer . . . At the location where the community was gathered to enjoy the 3rd of July fireworks, at a waterfront park . . . Families with kids were everywhere and witnessed his death . . . And they still held the fireworks after he died. The song was written to acknowledge a life, question a death, and stand in solidarity with a community that has lost someone. We, alongside the people who knew him, demand justice for Stonechild. With this song, I am also asking questions to all of us about how we’re actually moving through this world, injustice all around us, systemic racism normalized and ignored. Are we helping, or are we hurting?”

“Stonechild” also features s spoken word section txʷəlšucid, co-written by Casey Fowler, who is a member of the Suquamish people; Zalmai Zahir ʔəswəli, who is part of the Puyallup; and Chris Duenas, who’s also part of the Puyallap people. Fowler recites the section in Lushootseed, and does on on behalf of Chiefstick’s family.

“Your Reign Is Over” encapsulates the general frustration and despair most of has have felt so deep this past year. We’ve had a pandemic that has rampaged communities, economies and entire industries with millions here in the States out of work and in danger of losing their homes. There’s the continued struggle for racial justice and gender equality, which have been on the forefront of the country’s consciousness during a summer of protest and unrest. There has been continued environmental calamities — and we’re in the middle of arguably the most consequential presidential election in the past 150 years. We’ve seen the destruction of people and the environment; the hatred and strife. If you’re like me — or like the band — you’re exhausted and fed up. And as a result the song calls out the greedy, the selfish, the destruction, demanding that they get out of the way for new voices, new ways of doing things, new thinking and new systems.

On June 19, 2020, the Tennessee legislate voted to pass the most restrictive abortion ban in the country. The vote took place in the middle of night — without the public knowing. As it turns out, Buick was in the state capitol building for the vote. “As an activist who advocates for bodily autonomy, the fact that our largely white and male Republican super-majority legislature took the extra steps to hinder the rights of so many – the middle of such a vulnerable time – really blew my last fuse,” Buick says. “There’s no way to dress that action up as anything but deliberately harmful. Such action is rooted in racism, classism, and sexism There’s some junk science in there, too. I haven’t written much this year, but I have written this work to say that this chapter is over. We can no longer allow any of the above to go on. This election needs to flip the state of Tennessee, and also the presidency.”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the acclaimed Bristol, UK-based soul singer/songwriter and JOVM mainstay Hannah Williams. Williams can trace some of the origins of her music career to growing up in an extremely musical household: her father  was a musician and  minister. Interestingly, the acclaimed British singer/songwriter and soul artist  learned how to read music before she could read words —  and as the story goes, when she was a young girl, her mother introduced her to  Motown and Bill Withers, which wound up transforming her life. As the story goes, Williams’ mother quickly recognized that Williams had a natural gift and encouraged her to join the church choir.

With  “Work It Out,” off 2012’s full-length debut Hill of Feathers, Williams and her first backing band The Tastemakers, emerged into national and international soul circles with the track receiving attention across the blogosphere and airplay on radio stations across the States, Australia and the European Union. At one point “Work It Out” was one of the most downloaded songs in Greece with the video amassing over 1.5 million streams on YouTube.

Building upon a growing profile, Williams played sets across the European festival circuit, including stops at Shambala Festival, Valley Fest, Wilderness Festival, Cambridge Jazz Festival and Larmer Tree Festival, as well as some of Europe’s most renowned clubs, including Hamburg, Germany‘s Mojo; Manchester, UK’s Band on the Wall; and Camden, UK‘s Jazz Cafe with the likes of JOVM mainstays  Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, and Charles Bradley, as well as Cat Power.

Williams’ 2016 Michael Cotto-produced sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak was the first recorded output with her current backing band, the Bristol-based soul outfit, The Affirmations — currently, James Graham (organ, piano and Wurlitzer), Adam Holgate (guitar), Adam Newton (bass), Jai Widdowson-Jones (drums), Nicholas Malcolm (trumper), Liam Treasure (trombone), Victoria Klewin (baritone saxophone) and Hannah Nicholson (backing vocals) — and the album further established Williams’ growing profile across the international soul scene.

Over the course of the following year, Hannah Williams and The Affirmations received even greater international attention, after smash hit-making producer  NO I.D. sampled the heart aching hook of  “Late Nights and Heartbreak” for Jay-Z‘s “4:44.” “It was an incredible catalyst,” Williams says in press notes, “as a change in our collective career, and getting a global audience. Suddenly, there were millions of predominantly American hip-hop fans listening to my voice, going ‘Is this from the ’60s? Is she dead?’” Unsurprisingly, as a  result of the attention they received from “4:44,” the rising soul act spent the better part of 2018 on the most extensive touring schedule of their collective careers, including stops at SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, Brooklyn Bowl, the Toronto Jazz Festival and across the European Union, where they expanded their fanbase.

With even more attention on them, Williams and company were determined to make the record of their lives. The end result was their Shawn Lee produced effort, last year’s  50 Foot Woman. The album finds the band accurately capturing the visceral power of their live show on wax — white further establishing a sound that generally draws from classic soul, psych soul and funk, with a subtly modern take.

Much like countless other bands across the world, Williams and her Affirmations have been enjoying connecting with their fans and followers in a whole new way during the past few months of COVID-19 imposed quarantines and lockdowns. Putting some of their musical direction in the hands of their loyal following for the first time, the band put a cover song choice to a vote — and the result was the challenge of covering Nirvana’s classic, smash-hit “Heart-Shaped Box.”

Naturally, because the acclaimed JOVM mainstays operate in a completely different genre and style than Nirvana, they craft a slow-burning, horn-driven take on the grunge rock classic that retains the brooding and uneasy quality of the original — while putting the song into a contemporary context. Of course, what the Hannah Williams and The Affirmations cover should remind the listener of a fundamental fact: great compositions and great songs can translate across different genres and styles if embraced and adapted with care, so that the intent and purpose of the original isn’t messed with or altered too much.

Through countless back and forth with their mixing engineer and rapid advancements to each of their home recording setups, the band managed to record and sculpt the song despite lockdown restrictions. And it was done in a way that sounds as though the band were all in the studio together.

“This release is an ode to the world and its struggles” the band says, “a nod to the past but also a move into the future, and most of all a tribute to all the amazing people who continue to not only support our band but also all the important messaging and movements we try to encourage through our art and influence.”
 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Mark Lanegan Releases a Shimmering and Brooding New Single

Over the past handful of years, I’ve managed to spill a fair share of virtual ink covering acclaimed, JOVM mainstay Mark Lanegan over the years on this site. And as you may recall, the Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s 11th full-length solo album Somebody’s Knocking continued an incredible run of critically applauded releases but the album’s material found the JOVM mainstay turning to some of his most formative musical influences and profound loves — electronic music.  “I’ve always been into electronic music since I was a kid,” Lanegan said in press notes at the time. “I think the reason those elements have become more obvious in my music is that my tastes have changed as I’ve grown older. The bulk of what I listen to now is electronic. Alain Johannes and I had actually written “Penthouse High” for Gargoyle but then it didn’t really fit on that record. I have been a huge fan of New Order and Depeche Mode forever and have wanted to do a song along those lines for a long time – a blatantly catchy, old-school dance-type song.”

2020 will be a busy year for Lanegan: his memoir Sing Backwards and Weep will be published by Da Capo Press on April 28, 2020 — and his 12th solo album Straight Songs Of Sorrow will be released through Heavenly Recordings on May 8, 2020. Featuring guest appearances from his longtime  Greg Dulli, Warren Ellis, the legendary John Paul Jones, Ed Harcourt and countless others, Straight Songs Of Sorrow is inspired by his own life story, as documented in his memoir.

Reportedly, Sing Backwards and Weep is a brutal, nerve-shredding read, centered around Lanegan’s recounting his journey from troubled youth in Eastern Washington, through his days as a drug-fueled member of Seattle’s grunge rock scene to today with Lanegan finding peace and salvation within himself with unsparing and unadulterated candor. While the book documents his lifelong struggle to find peace within himself, his forthcoming 12th album emphasizes the extent to which he realized that music is his life.

“Writing the book, I didn’t get catharsis,” Lanegan says. “All I got was a Pandora’s box full of pain and misery. I went way in, and remembered shit I’d put away 20 years ago. But I started writing these songs the minute I was done, and I realized there was a depth of emotion because they were all linked to memories from this book. It was a relief to suddenly go back to music. Then I realized that was the gift of the book: these songs. I’m really proud of this record.”  Interestingly, in press notes, Lanegan affirms that each of Straight Songs Of Sorrow‘s 15 songs references a specific episode or person in the book — albeit, some more explicitly than others.

Whereas the previous two Mark Lanegan Band albums, 2017’s Gargoyle and the aforementioned Somebody’s Knocking found Lanegan pairing his lyrics to music written by collaborators, most of Straight Songs Of Sorrow was written by Lanegan — with the exception being the collaborations with Mark Morton. Two other songs have shared credits — and those two songs were cowritten by Lanegan’s wife Shelley Brien. But much like the book that inspired it, the album ends  with its hero overcoming adversity and struggle and turning, battered and beat up, but cleansed, towards a bright new day

So far, I’ve written about the album’s first two singles — the slow-burning, part bluesy lament, part tale of survival and redemption “Skeleton Key.” and the uptempo yet vulnerable “Bleed All Over.” The album’s third and latest single “Stockholm City Blues” is a brooding and spectral song, centered around twangy and looped guitar, a shimmering string arrangement and an achingly plaintive vocal from Lanegan. Evoking the gnawing loneliness of being a foreigner in a foreign land that you can barely understand, and of a man wandering around narrow European streets with his own thoughts and regrets, the song may arguably be one of the most sorrowful of released to date.