Tag: Hamburg Germany

new Video: German Dream Pop Act Seasurfer Release a Gauzy Cocteau Twins-like Mix of “Drifting”

Hamburg-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Dirk Knight is one of that city’s grizzled scene vets, who can trace his career back to the 90s: his previous band Dark Orange was a pioneering act in the Heavenly Voices scene — and as a result, he collaborated with Cocteau Twins‘ Robin Guthrie.

amburg-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist started his current project  Seasurfer back in 2013, and interestingly enough, the project finds Knight eschewing the traditional rock band set up and collaborating with a rotating cat of vocalists and musicians. His first two critically applauded Seasurfer albums saw Knight work with members of acts like Trespassers William, Whimsical, Jaguwar and Last Leaf Down. 

Seasurfer’s third album Zombies was released last year through Reptile Music. The album saw Knight simultaneously refining and expanding upon the sound that has won him and his collaborators attention internationally. While still retaining shoegazer textures, there’s a much larger focus on cold wave and dark wave influences with the material employing an increasing use of synths, motorik grooves and beats to create what Knight has dubbed “electrogaze for dancers and dreamers alike.”

ritten and recorded during pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, Zombies thematically paints a picture of a society on the brink of annihilation. As a result of the pandemic, Zombies is the first album that features Knight playing and recording all of the material’s instrumentation and even contributing some vocals. The first part of the album features vocals from singer/songwriter Apolonia.

As the story goes, as the pair were finishing the album, they had the distinct impression of living in a world that was completely losing its mind: Naturally, there is constant fear and uncertainty inspired by the pandemic; but there’s also the increasing numbers of self-serving political leaders hellbent on power, greed, corruption and lust. And let’s not forget the looming global climate catastrophe that will likely occur within our lifetimes. It shouldn’t be surprising that the pair frequently felt as though they were like zombies struggling through a lost and dead world.

Shortly after the vinyl and CD releases of Zombies, the Hamburg-based act reworked album single “Drifting.” “Drifting” is a fan favorite on the album and as a result, Knight and Apolonia came up with an alternate mix of the song. Interestingly, the alternate mix is centered around gauzier textures while retaining the glistening synths and brooding air of the original. In some way, the alternate mix manages to gently push the song towards a Cocteau Twins-like sound.

For me ‘Drifting’ is the song with the coolest bass of the whole album Zombies,” Seasurfer’s Dirk Knight explains. ” For the first time I recorded all the basses by myself and learned to love playing this instrument. Basses are extremely important to us and determine the harmonies and melodies, similar to how Simon Gallup (The Cure), Peter Hook (Joy Division, New Order) and Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins) are doing it. For the single and the extended mix we let the drums run straight through to make the song even more mesmerizing.”

The recently released video is a trippy mix of nostalgia-inducing Super 8 shot footage of a young child going on a cruise on the open sea, projected over Apolonia’s face, as she sings the song’s lyrics.

“Drifting (Single Mix)” appears on Seasurfer’s recently released Drifting EP, which features a 12 minute, extended single mix, the previously unreleased track “Ghost Children” and remixes of “Drifting” by Spanish dreamwave duo STEREOSKOP, Russian shoegazers Life on Venus and French electronic artist GIIRLS.

Live Footage: Laura Carbone Performs “Cellophane Skin” at Rockpalast

With the release of her first two albums — 2016’s Sirens and 2018’s Empty Sea — the rising Berlin-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and photographer Laura Carbone received attention across the European Union and elsewhere for a sound and approach that frequently draws comparisons to PJ Harvey, Shana Falana, Chelsea Wolfe, St. Vincent and others. Additionally,. Carbone published a limited-edition book of photography, also named The Empty Sea.

Carbone and her backing band have opened for The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, developing a reputation for a self-assured and explosive live show, which she further cemented with a headlining tour across Europe last year. The Berlin-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and photographer then followed that up with a stop at SXSW Levitation Festival/Creem Magazine Showcase and a headlining North American tour with The Natvral that included a stop at Baby’s All Right.

Carbone and her backing band were slated to go into the studio in May to record her highly-anticipated third album — but as a result of pandemic-related restrictions, the rising Berlin-based artist’s plans were placed in an indefinite hiatus, much like countless other artists across the globe. Last year, the rising Berlin-based singer/songwriter and guitarist and her backing band performed on the famed German, live concert series Rockpalast — and for Carbone, who grew up in a small town in Southwestern Germany watching the show, appearing on the show was the accomplishment of a lifelong dream: Rockpalast has recorded and broadcasted a who’s who list of influential and important artists, playing some of their most memorable performances, including Siouxsie and The Banshees, Radiohead, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith, Sinead O’Connor, David Bowie, R.E.M., Echo and the Bunnymen, Screaming Trees, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Marley and the Wailers and an amazing and very lengthy list of others.

As a result of pandemic-related shutdowns, an idea emerged with Carbone and her band: “What if Rockpalast would let us release that show as a live album?” Released yesterday, Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast is just that. Taken from her Rockpalast set at Harmonie Bonn last October, the live album features a career-spanning set, centered around her first two albums, and an unexpected cover, Hewing as closely as possible to their live sound, the album was mixed in Los Angeles by The Jesus and Mary Chain‘s Scott Van Ryper and mastered by Philipp Welsing at Hamburg‘s Original Mastering with no overdubs.

Last month, I wrote about the live album’s first single, “Who’s Gonna Save You.” The live rendition accurately captures Carbone and her band’s forceful live sound and Carbone’s irresistible stage presence, While the song itself finds the band balancing menace, power and sultriness, it should also serve as an introduction to an artist, who in my book is adding her name to a list of powerful rock goddesses.

To celebrate the release of the album, Carbone released the live album’s second single, “Cellophane Skin.” Performed as the first song of their encore, the live rendition finds the band taking the tension of the original and informing it with a feral and ferocious power, informed by dozens of shows across Europe and North America — and by the occasion. And as a result, the song finds its narrator — and perhaps the artist herself — turning into a seductive and vengeful force of nature, much like the sirens of the ancient myths. At its down core, the song finds its narrator forcefully tearing down the bonds of poisonous social norms that have imprisoned her while demanding that we — particularly men — examine ourselves. Of course, much like its immediate predecessor, the song captures a woman with mighty and fearsome roar.

Directed by Olga Dyer, the recently released video for “Cellophane Skin” is split between gorgeous and seductive footage of Carbone in a black gown being touched by a series of seemingly disembodied hands and black and white footage captured on stage.
“The feminine point of view has always been much more difficult to articulate,” Olga Dyer says in press notes. “And once articulated, alas, quite often it becomes a point of vulnerability, seen through the prism of sexual objectification, helpless stereotypes and indecency. It’s literally stripped of its actual meaning or even possible interpretations. To me, this is what ‘Cellophane Skin’ is about. People jump to conclusions, so quick to assume that they can see through someone. Personally it doesn’t offend me, I only find it banal and boring. I love creating beautiful and dark sequences, inspired by noir surrealism.”

New VIdeo: Hamburg’s Seasurfer Releases a Surreal and Brooding Visual for “SOS”

Dirk Knight is a Hamburg-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and grizzled scene vet. Knight’s musical career began back in the 90s: his previous band Dark Orange was a pioneering act in the Heavenly Voices scene — and as a result, he collaborated with Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie. With his latest recording project Seasurfer, which he started in 2013, the Hamburg-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist eschews the traditional rock band set up and collaborates with a rotating cast of vocalists and musicians, who help flesh out the project’s sound. Through his first two critically applauded Seasurfer albums, Knight has worked with members of Trespassers William, Whimsical, Jaguwar and Last Leaf Down.

Knight’s third Seasurfer album Zombies was released last month through Reptile Music and the album finds the Hamburg-based act refining the sound that has won them fans internationally: while still retaining the fuzziness and layers of reverb, the German, there has been an increased focus on drawing from cold wave and dark wave influences — with the material employing the use of synths, motorik-like grooves, and synthetic beats in what the act has dubbed “electrogaze for dancers and dreamers alike.”

Written and recorded during tight pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, Zombies thematically crafts a dark and murky portrait of a society on the brink of annihilation. Interestingly, the album is the first Seasurfer album that features Knight playing and recording all of the instrumentation and contributing some vocals. The first part of the album finds Knight collaborating with singer/songwriter Apolonia. As the duo were putting the finishing touches on Zombies, they both had the distinct impression of the world completely losing its mind: Of course, there’s the fear and uncertainty of COVID-19; but there’s also self-serving political leaders ruled by greed, corruption and lust, as well as the largely ignored, yet unavoidable global climate catastrophe. And the entire ordeal made the duo feel as though they were zombies stumbling through a lost world.

Zombies also will feature a digital only eight track mini album release, The Dreampop Days, which finds Knight collaborating with Kirilan Camera’s Elena Alice Fossi. But in the meantime, Zombies’ latest single, is the dark and brooding “SOS.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, motorik grooves, thumping and skittering beats and industrial clink, clang and clatter, paired with Apolonia’s ethereal cooing. Arguably one of the act’s more dance floor friendly and seductive songs, “SOS” immediately brings 80s post punk and goth to mind — but while reminding me a little bit of No Swoon, Lightfoils, BLACKSTONE RNGRS and the rest of St. Marie Records roster.

The recently released video by JH Rochereuil.is spilt between gorgeously shot footage in black and white, stock footage, psychedelic imagery, digital fuzz, ubiquitous COVID-19 virus and color footage of a political protest/uprising. And it manages to further emphasizes the bleakness of its accompanying audio.

Live Footage: Laura Carbone Performs “Who’s Gonna Save You” at Rockpalast

With the release of her first two albums — 2016’s Sirens and 2018’s Empty Sea — the rising Berlin-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and photographer Laura Carbone received attention across the European Union and elsewhere for a sound and approach that frequently draws comparisons to PJ Harvey, Shana Falana, Chelsea Wolfe, St. Vincent and others. Carbone also published and released a limited-edition book of photography, also named The Empty Sea.

Carbone and her backing band were slated to go into the studio in May to record her highly-anticipated third album — but as a result of pandemic-related restrictions, the rising Berlin-based artist’s plans were placed in an indefinite hiatus, much like countless other artists across the globe. Last year, Carbone and her backing band performed on the famed German live concert series Rockpalast — and for the Berlin-based artist, who grew up in a small town in Southwestern Germany, appearing on the show was the accomplishment of a lifelong dream: Rockpalast has recorded and broadcasted a who’s who list of influential and important artists, playing some of their most memorable performances, including Siouxsie and The Banshees, Radiohead, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith, Sinead O’Connor, David Bowie, R.E.M., Echo and the Bunnymen, Screaming Trees, Lynard Skynard, Bob Marley and the Wailers and an amazing and very lengthy list of others. And as a music mad teenager, Carbone often spent late Saturday nights watching the show, watching many of those artists play on national TV.

Interestingly, as a result of those pandemic-related shutdowns, an idea emerged with Carbone and her backing band: “What if Rockpalast would let us release that show as a live album?” Slated for a December 4, 2020 release, Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast is just that. Taken from her Rockpalast appearance, recorded at Harmonie Bonn last October, the live album features a career-spanning set featuring material off her first two albums with an unexpected cover. Hewing as closely as possible to their live sound, the album was mixed in Los Angeles by The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Scott Van Ryper and mastered by Philipp Welsing at Hamburg’s Original Mastering with no overdubs.

Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast’s first single “Who’s Gonna Save You” accurately captures the band’s dynamic live sound and Carbone’s sultry, self-assured presence — and in my book, the live rendition reveals that the Berlin-based artist is rock goddess you need right this very second. The live rendition finds Carbone and her band balancing menace with sultriness in a way that’s irresistible.

The recently released video for “Who’s Gonna Save You” is split between live footage shot in a gorgeous and broodingly cinematic black and white during last year’s Rockpalast and footage of the gorgeous Carbone in a equally gorgeous red dress wandering around Berlin’s Märchenbrunnen, or “Fairytale Fountain,” in Volkspark Friedrichshain shot by Underground Youth’s Olya Dyer. “To have this immaculate beauty yet melancholic aftertaste blended with the energy of the live performance is incredible. It’s a solitary present mixed with a crowded past.,” Dyer says of the footage he shot.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Hannah Williams and The Affirmations Defiantly Embrace Suffering and Autonomy

During the past four years or so, I’ve managed to spill copious amounts of virtual ink covering acclaimed Bristol, UK-based soul singer/songwriter and JOVM mainstay Hannah Williams.

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.
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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. 50 Foot Woman’s fourth and latest single “The Only Way Out Is Through” is a defiantly strutting song about resilience, self-determination, self-reliance, embracing suffering as part of growth and finding strength and power within yourself, centered around Williams’ powerhouse vocal, a shimmering psych soul groove and forceful horn section.

“I was going through a really tough break up and struggling with the idea of being alone when Hannah said to me ‘All you need now is you,'” the song’s writer Victoria Klewin explains in press notes. “That stuck in my head and the rest of the lyrics followed. The pain of that situation was hugely transformative for me, so I wanted to write a song about actively embracing emotional suffering in order to grow and also finding strength in your own autonomy.”

So there a couple of things you should know — if you were previously unaware:

Hannah Williams can sang. And I think she should be the most famous soul singer in the entire world — right this very second.
The Affirmations can give the Daptone crew a run for their money. They’re one of the best contemporary soul acts in the world. And if you don’t believe me, check out “Still In My Head” off Late Nights and Heartbreak and tell me that I’m wrong. That’s a hill, I’m willing to die on.
The song’s writer, Victoria Klewin couldn’t have imagined how relevant to this year and this particular period of history as she wrote it. We’re going to go through a horrible patch — and there’s no choice but to dig down deep and go through it as bravely as we can. The only way out is through.l.
Williams sings some feminist anthems, y’all.

Shot, edited and directed by Dawn Kelly, Will Nash and Bird Lime Media, the recently released video for “The Only Way Out Is Through” uses some deft video editing and effects as we see three different Hannah Williamses — one, who’s in the throes of heartache, a second, who’s defiant and proud, and the third, coolly drives the car. The video manages to evoke our innermost battle with ourselves and our psyche.

The Bland is a rising Swedish indie pop/folk act that can trace its origins back to when its five members met serendipitously while traveling through New Zealand as teenagers. Feeling an instant musical simpatico, the members of the band promised to keep in touch and reunite when they returned home. Upon their return to Sweden, the band’s frontman Axel Öberg rented a big house, so that the members of the band could live and work together. That living space had an ad-hoc rehearsal space — the basement.

Although they didn’t initially have big career plans, they wrote a number of songs, which they returned in their home studio, Röda Paradise, a red wooden hut in Southern Stockholm — and for money, they tagged along with a friend’s band, selling milkshakes at music festivals. In between sets they played music to entertain themselves. But little did they know, their folk pop sound caught the attention of a small, local production company, a company that managed to run one of their homeland’s music festivals.

With the release of last year’s Beautiful Distance, the members of the Swedish folk pop project started to built up a growing international profile with captivating and critically applauded live shows across Scandinavia and Europe that included stops at Hamburg‘s Reeperbahn Festival and others across the international festival circuit. Building upon a profile, the members of The Bland are currently working on their forthcoming album, La Hata Vitoye, a concept album that tells a Romantic tale of an imaginary bar and town by the name of La Hata Vitoye. The band created a detailed historical background for the town that goes back to the 1300s, then created characters and situations and wrote detailed stories, which they then wrote accompanying music to them.

The album’s concept story begins at La Hata Vitoye, a tiny bar, located by the coast. As the band explains, the bar and its town, is the sort of place where caravans and traveling entertainers take refuge after long periods of touring and traveling. It’s the sort of place that returning travelings tell stories about — stories that seem way too good to exist in real life. But every character within this world brings something new to the story. As the world begins to hear more about the town, it starts to grow — and dramatic events occur to develop the town’s destiny. The album’s latest single, album title track “La Hata Vitoye” is an exuberant, breezy and mischievous track that draws equally from Tropicalia, Afro pop and Latin music, centered around a euphoric hook. While sonically recalling a deliriously upbeat Graceland-era Paul Simon, that exuberance is actually a bit deceptive in light of the pandemic. In many ways, the song evokes the chance encounters, the late nights in some sweaty and dark club, dancing to a band or a DJ that has the room rocking, the friends and regulars you’d encounter at your bar, your favorite club or what have you and so on.

.“When we were on tour in Germany last February, we heard about the first Corona cases,” The Bland’s frontman Axel Öberg explains. “Over the next few months, as a practicing doctor in Sweden, I saw how social isolation harmed people. With ‘La Hata Vitoye’ we want to try to look at life differently again, to come together and share a positive attitude towards life. This place called La Hata Vitoye, which we are talking about, will become a real actual place at our own festivals next summer. And we can’t wait to meet as many as possible there. If the situation permits.”

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 Video: Berlin’s Mighty Oaks Release a Hazy and Nostalgic-Tinged Visual for Contemplative “Lost Again”

Mighty Oaks is a Berlin-based indie folk/folk rock act comprised of American-born Ian Hooper (vocals, acoustic/electric guitar, mandolin and ukulele), Italian-born Claudio Donzelli (vocals, acoustic/electric guitar), piano, mandolin, banjo) and British-born Craig Saunders (vocals, bass, mandolin).  The act can trace its origins back to early 2010.  As the story goes, after completing college, Ian Hooper relocated to Hamburg,  where he had begun working on material as a solo artist. While in Hamburg, Hooper met and befriended Craig Saunders, who was also working on material as a solo artist. Several months later, Hooper and Saunders met Claudio Donzelli at a small, acoustic music festival and the trio managed to keep in touch, bonding over a mutual interest in indie rock and folk rock. 

The members of Mighty Oaks wrote, recorded, produced and self-released their 2011 self-titled, debut EP. Recorded in Donzelli’s apartment, the EP eventually amassed several hundred thousand hits on SoundCloud.  Building upon a growing profile, the trio self-released their first studio recorded EP, 2012’s Just One Day, which was distributed by Rough Trade Records. The band supported the EP with a busy touring schedule that included — a European tour, opening for Shout Out Louds; opening for Kings of Leon at the Waldbuhne in Berlin; and joining acts like CHVRCHES on Intro Magazine’s “Introducing!” tour of Germany. By the all of 2013, Mighty Oaks played a sold-out, headlining tour of Switzerland, Austria and Germany. 

Early 2014 saw the release of their full-length debut Howl through Universal Records in Europe. The album was a critical and commercial success with the album peaking at #10 on the German and Swiss charts. The album also landed on the charts of several other countries. Additionally, several singles off the album charted. The band also made the rounds across the international festival circuit, playing sets at Melt! Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Latitude Festival, Way Out West Festival, Exit Festival and Valkhof Festival. 

The band closed out 2014 with  the release of the Brother EP in the States, as well as a headlining European tour. And by the beginning of 2015, Howl was released in the States. The members of Mighty Oaks went on to play SXSW — and then followed that up with a Stateside tour with Milky Chance. 

After spending almost two years of uninterrupted touring, the members of the band took the bulk of 2016 off, with each individual member temporarily returning to their home countries. They eventually reconvened at Ryan Hadlock’s Washington State-based studio to write and record their sophomore album, 2017’s Dreamers. The band supported Dreamers with a sold-out European tour during that spring, a fall North American tour and a follow-up, sold-out winter European tour. Interestingly, just before their winter European tour, the band self-released the four song Storm EP. 

2018 was rather busy for the band: that summer, they played a number of major European festivals including Hurricane Festival, Southside Festival, Traumzeit Festival, Zermatt Unplugged and Milky Chance and Friends Open Air. They closed out the year by returning to the studio to write and record their third full-length album, All Things Go, which is slated for a February 2, 2020 release through BMG. 

Last year saw the release of two album singles — album title track “All Things Go” and “Forget Tomorrow,” and building up buzz for the album, the band’s third and latest single is the contemplative  “Lost Again.” Centered around gently strummed acoustic guitar, swirling and atmospheric electronics, Hooper’s plaintive vocal delivery and a gorgeous bit of harmonizing that recalls Crosby Stills and Nash, the song focuses on a narrator, desperate to turn back back the clock a bit and iron out the wrinkles, mistakes and bad decisions he made when he was younger. “If I had known then, what I know now,” the song’s narrator seems to say in a moment of reflection. At the same time, the song and its narrator seem to acknowledge that he wouldn’t be the person he is right now, if it wasn’t for those mistakes and missteps. Things happen for a reason. And hopefully you learn from it and move forward with some wisdom. 

The recently released video by Andrew Saunderson and no.odds features the members of Mighty Oaks performing the song, but superimposed over them are images of their past — mainly places they’ve seen and been, along with some beautiful shots of nature, which help create a sense of time flashing by. It’s as contemplative as the song while adding a hazy sense of nostalgia to the proceedings. 

Since their formation in 2014, the Helsinki, Finland-based JOVM mainstays Lake Jons, comprised of Jooel Jons and Mikko Pennanen have managed to walk a fine line between production tandem and full-fledged band, while crafting delicate, electro folk-leaning dream pop. Last year’s self-titled debut, which was released to praise across Scandinavia and elsewhere was written and recorded in an isolated cabin, deep within the Finnish forest thematically and sonically aimed to examine, capture, and represent the tenuous connection that still exists between the natural world and the human world. Building upon a growing profile, JaJaJa showcased the band in London, Berlin and Hamburg.

Lake Jons’ recently released sophomore album The Coast finds the  duo further reconnecting with their roots and delving even deeper into the Towars Forest. Thematically, the album is the duo’s endeavor  to dismantle life, space and time while sonically, the material finds the Finnish JOVM mainstays radically re-inventing their sound: The album’s songs are generally centered around very rough instrumental parts, then layered with harmony-driven toplines, creating the sense that the songs are assembling themselves in a seamless fashion.

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles — “It’s Too Bright” and “Simone.” Both of those singles further cemented the duo’s unusual and forward-thinking approach to  contemporary pop. “It’s Too Bright,” which was built around a sparse production  of twinkling keys, shimmering hi-hats, boom-bap like beats, a driving bass line and Jooel Jons’ plaintive falsetto was a seamless meshing of elements of R&B, electro pop,  jazz, folk and experimental pop while retaining the infectious hooks that won them attention across the blogosphere. “Simone” was centered around a hazy and dusty production of strummed guitar,  fluttering and arpeggiated synths, wobbling low end and stuttering beats. And while continuing  to be a perfect vehicle for Jons’ plaintive falsetto, the song was imbued with a sense of loss, longing and the acknowledgement that there are some connections that seem to transcend physical space and time itself.

“Human,” The Coast‘s latest single is a haunting and lingering fever dream, centered around a dusty and ancient-sounding production featuring strummed acoustic guitar, fluttering synths, thumping drums and Jons’ plaintive and expressive vocals.  Unlike the album’s previously released singles, “Human” finds the Finnish JOVM mainstays walking a fine line between careful and deliberate craft and stream of consciousness — as it evokes a late fall stroll, lost in thoughts and reminiscences.

“I’m fond of lyrics that tare more like thoughts rather than stories,” Jooel Jons says about The Coast‘s latest single. “This one feels like a stroll in the forest for me. Almost a story but not quite. ‘I wanna turn around’ resembles the idea of turning back from the road we once started as humans. Honouring nature more and more. For me it also means dancing in the forest among the trees and animals like a hippie cliché. This song has evolved from two different songs that I felt were at a dead end. Combining them left some good parts unused but made one whole.”