Tag: Hamburg Germany

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.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Hannah Williams and The Affirmations Release a Slow-Burning Power Ballad

I’ve written a bit about Bristol, UK-based singer/songwriter and soul artist Hannah Williams over the past couple of years. The Bristol-based JOVM mainstay can trace some of the originals of her musical career to growing up in an extremely musical household — her father was a musician and minister. And as you may recall, Williams learned how to read music before she could read words — and as 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. Interestingly, Williams’ mother quickly recognized that a young Williams had talent and encouraged her to join the church choir. 

With the release of “Work It Out,” off 2012’s full-length debut Hill of Feathers, Williams and her first backing band The Tastemakers, quickly 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. Interestingly, at one point “Work It Out” was one of the most downloaded songs in Greece and the video has amassed 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; Camden, UK‘s Jazz Cafe and others 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 comprised of 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). The album continued to build upon Williams’ growing profile in soul music circles, thanks in part to the Dusty Springfield-like torch song “Tame in the Water” and the psychedelic soul-tinged edition of “Dazed and Confused.” In fact, the album was one of my personal favorites that year.  

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 growing attention on them, the members of the rising soul act were determined to make the record of their lives. And in order to do so, they recruited Shawn Lee, an acclaimed funk/soul artist and producer to work on Williams’ third album 50 Foot Woman. Slated for release this Friday through Record Kicks Records, the album reportedly finds the members of the band accurately capturing the visceral power of their live show on wax — all while further establishing a sound that equally draws from classic soul, psych soul and funk, with a subtly modern take.

“50 Foot Woman,” the album’s title track and first single was a strutting and explosive stomp that sonically was one part Ike and Tina Turner-era classic soul and one part fed-up tell-off to haters, naysayers and others and one part Daptone Records-like soul — with a fed-up narrator, who has finally had enough with the bullshit and games. But at its core, the song is a contemporary feminist anthem of a strong woman being done wrong and who figures out a way to survive and then thrive. The album’s second and latest single “I Feel It” is a primarily a slow-burning ballad, centered around Williams’ expressive powerhouse vocals, twinkling keys, a sinuous bass line, a horn section that can compete with the Dap Kings and a production that’s effortlessly old-timey without resorting to soulless mimicry or homage. But more important, Williams is superstar in the making — she can pair soulful vocals with gut-punching earnestness in a way that’s rare in this age.

Directed and filmed by BD, the recently released video for “I Feel It” is an incredibly stylized and cinematic shot visual featuring the band performing the song in a 60s-like studio space, complete with some brooding close ups of the members of the band. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Lake Jons Release a Feverish Yet Gorgeous and Aching Visual for “Simone”

Formed back in 2014, the Helsinki, Finland-based JOVM mainstays Lake Jons, comprised of Jooel Jons and Mikko Pennanen, have developed a reputation for walking a fine line between production tandem and full-fledged band, while crafting delicate, electro folk-tinged dream pop. Last year’s self-titled debut, which was primarily written and recorded in an isolated cabin deep in the Finnish forest thematically and sonically aimed to examine, capture and represent whatever tenuous connection still exists between the natural world and the human world. The album won attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere — including this site — with JaJaJa showcasing the band in London, Berlin and Hamburg. 

The rising Finnish duo’s sophomore album The Coast finds the duo further reconnecting with their roots and delving even deeper into the Towars Forest. Thematically, The Coast is the duo’s endeavor to dismantle life, space and time. And sonically, the album finds the JOVM mainstays radically re-inventing their sound — the songs are centered around rough instrumental parts, layered with harmony-driven toplines with the material seemingly assembling again in a seamless fashion. Now, as you may recall, last month I wrote about “It’s Too Bright.” Built around a sparse production featuring twinkling keys, hi-hat led boom-bap-like percussion, a driving bass line and an ethereal and plaintive falsetto floating over the mix, the song sonically displayed elements of R&B, electro pop, jazz, folk and experimental pop — and while being forward thinking, the material retained the hook-driven nature that won them attention across the blogosphere. 

The Coast’s latest single “Simone” will further cement the Finnish duo’s unusual and forward-thinking approach to pop music: the track is centered around a hazy and dusty production featuring strummed guitar, fluttering and arpeggiated synths, wobbling low end and stuttering beats with Jons’ plaintive vocals ethereally floating over the mix. And much like their previously released work, thee song is imbued with a sense of loss and longing simultaneously. In press notes, the band’s Jooel Jons explains that the central concept of the song is how connections can sometimes transcend physical loss. “You know the feeling someone close to you has moved on to another time and space? You’re still feeling these sensations of their presence and wonder if all is not lost after all,” Jons says in press notes. “Maybe you’re in denial. But you’ll only know if you stop and try reaching out to something that only you sense. From feelings arise experience; that is vital to our feeling of existence.”

Directed by Petra Lumioksa, the recently released video for “Simone” and stars Minna Karttunen and Maria Autio expressively dancing in a sun-dappled and extremely suburban apartment. Through most of the video, the dancers rarely see one or connect with one another — just barely out of sight, just barely out of touch and yet feeling each other’s presence. And as a result, the visual further emphasizes the song’s palpable sense of longing. 

New Video: Hannah Williams’ Stomping Feminist Anthem

I’ve written a bit about Bristol, UK-based singer/songwriter and soul artist Hannah Williams over the past couple of years, and as you may recall Williams can trace some of the origins of her musical career to growing up in a extremely musical household — her father was a musician and minister. Williams learned how to read music before she could actually read words, and as the story goes, when she was a young girl, her mother introduced her to Motown and Bill Withers, which transformed her life. Along with that, Williams’ mother encouraged her to join the church choir when she recognized that her daughter had talent. 

 With the release of “Work It Out,” off 2012’s full-length debut Hill of Feathers, Williams and her first backing band The Tastemakers, quickly 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. Interestingly, at one point “Work It Out” was one of the most downloaded songs in Greece and the video has amassed 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; Camden, UK‘s Jazz Cafe and others 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 backing band, the Bristol-based soul outfit, The Affirmations, which is currently comprised of 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 which featured the Dusty Springfield-like torch song “Tame in the Water” and the psychedelic soul-tinged edition of “Dazed and Confused” was one of my favorite albums that year. 

The following year, Hannah Williams and The Affirmations received 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 growing attention on them, the members of the rising soul act were determined to make the record of their lives. And in order to do so, they recruited Shawn Lee, an acclaimed funk/soul artist and producer to work on Williams’ third album 50 Foot Woman. Slated for an October 18, 2019 release through Record Kicks Records, the album reportedly finds the members of the band accurately capturing the visceral power of their live show on wax — all while further establishing a sound that equally draws from classic soul, psych soul and funk, with a subtly modern take. 

“50 Foot Woman,” the album’s title track and first single is a strutting and explosive stomp stomp that sonically is one part Ike and Tina Turner classic soul and one part fed-up tell-off to haters, naysayers and others, in which its narrator has finally had enough with the bullshit, and one part Daptone Records-like soul. But unlike their previously released material, the song has a loose, jam-like vibe, centered around Williams’ crooning and shouting with a take-no-prisoners, take-no-shit attitude. 

Directed and filmed by Nick Donnelly, the recently released video is set in a decidedly English pub, where we see Williams and her bandmates hanging out and chatting over a few pints. Nearby an older lady is dancing her ass off and having herself a good time, much to Williams delight. Interestingly, the video makes a point of reminding the viewer that “50 Foot Woman” is a contemporary, feminist anthem.