Tag: indie pop

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Live Concert Photography: Reebook Noisey Nights at Villain 7/10/19 feat. Easy Life and Jean Deaux

Live concert photography of Easy Life and Jean Deaux at Reebok Noisey Nights at Villain earlier this month.

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Julien Chang (pronounced Chong) is an up-and-coming Baltimore-born 19-year-old, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, producer and current university student, who surprised his peers when he began quietly releasing music during his senior year in high school. Interestingly, only thought of as a trombone player, Chang’s early material found him playing multiple instruments and meshing pop-leaning melodies, psych rock and jazz fusion experimentation and improvisation — with a sophistication that belies his relative youth.  Those early releases caught the attention of Transgressive Records, the label home of SOPHIE, Let’s Eat Grandma and JOVM mainstay Neon Indian, who will be releasing his forthcoming full-length debut.
Self-recorded and self-produced in his bedroom, “Of The Past,” Chang’s debut single is a sleek bit of early 80s-like synth-led funk that’s centered around carefully crafted pop melodicism, a sinuous bass line and plaintive vocals — but interestingly, the track reveals a dexterous songwriter and musician, who can effortlessly bounce and dart between funk, jazz and pop in a mesmerizing fashion.
Chang will be embarking on his first ever tour in October — and the tour begins with an October 15, 2019 stop at Baby’s All Right. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.
Tour Dates
10/15 – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right
10/28 – London, UK @ Bermondsey Social Club
10/29 – London, UK @ Servant Jazz Quarters
10/31 – Brussels, BE @ Botanique Witloof Bar
11/01 – Berlin, DE @ Musik & Frieden

New Video: Brooklyn’s Jonny Couch Releases a Delirious and Goofy Visual for “Vertigo”

Earlier this month, I wrote about the up-and-coming, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriterr Jonny Couch. Initially Couch started his career as a drummer, playing in a number of local punk bands before reinventing himself and his career as a solo artist with the release of 2016’s debut EP Animal Instinct, a soulful take on 80s synth pop that drew comparisons to Bryan Ferry — and received praise from Louder Than War and High Times. 

Building upon a growing profile, Couch’s highly-anticipated Peter Mavrogeorgis-produced full-length debut Mystery Man will reportedly further develop the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s reputation for crafting infectious material that’s seemingly descended from 70s and 80s power pop and New Wave. “My favorite bands are Cheap Trick and Buzzcocks,” Couch says in press notes, “but this is more of a personal record than a band effort, highly influenced by power pop solo artists like Nick Lowe.” But there’s also elements of Duran Duran and The Psychedelic Furs as well.

Coincidentally, Couch’s forthcoming full-length debut is also deeply influenced by the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s love of classic film noir — in particular, films like Body Heat and Body Double. In fact, the album is centered by deep film-noir metaphors, from the album’s title, its artwork and even song titles like ” Vertigo” “Framed” and others.

Now, as you might recall, album title track “Mystery Man” was a sleek , Roxy Music meets No Jacket Required-era Phil Collins -like track centered around atmospheric synths, shimmering and angular guitars, a motorik-like groove, a soaring hook and Couch’s plaintive vocals.  The album’s latest single “Vertigo” is a sleek yet anthemic bit of New Wave-inspired synth pop that recalls Cheap Trick and The Cars — and continuing in a similar vein as its predecessor, the song reveals an ambitious, arena rock meets Top 40 populist bit of songwriting underpinned by the dizzying sense of confusion that comes when you’ve maybe fallen for someone, yet aren’t quite sure what to do about it. 

Directed by Jordan Edwards, the recently released video for “Vertigo” brings to mind some of the glorhsouly goofy and slap-dash videos of early MTV — including cheesy 80s styled graphics and stock footage from the 30s and 30s. It continues a run of trippy and delirious visuals that reveal Couch’s good-natured, mischievous humor. 

New Video: Jonny Couch Releases Noir-ish and Mischievous Visual for “Mystery Man”

Initially starting his career as a drummer in a number of local punk rock bands, the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Jonny Couch reinvented himself and his career with the release of 2016’s debut EP Animal Instinct, a soulful take on 80s synth pop that drew comparisons to Bryan Ferry — and received praise from Louder Than War and High Times. 

Building upon a growing profile, Couch’s highly-anticipated Peter Mavrogeorgis-produced full-length debut Mystery Man will reportedly further develop the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s reputation for crafting infectious material that’s seemingly descended from 70s and 80s power pop and New Wave. “My favorite bands are Cheap Trick and Buzzcocks,” Couch says in press notes, “but this is more of a personal record than a band effort, highly influenced by power pop solo artists like Nick Lowe.” But there’s also elements of Duran Duran and The Psychedelic Furs as well.

Coincidentally, Couch’s forthcoming full-length debut is also deeply influenced by the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s love of classic film noir — in particular, films like Body Heat and Body Double. In fact, the album is centered by deep film-noir metaphors, from the album’s title, its artwork and even song titles like ” Vertigo” “Framed” and others. 

Mystery Man’s latest single, album title track “Mystery Man” is a sleek, Roxy Music meets No Jacket Required-era Phil Collins -like track centered around atmospheric synths, shimmering and angular guitars, a motorik-like groove, a soaring hook and Couch’s plaintive vocals. And while revealing an ambitious, arena rock-like populist bit of songwriting, the track is underpinned by an earnest sense of late night loneliness and longing. 

Directed by Art Boonparn, the recently released video stars Couch, Audrey Cover and Sara Nelson and begins in a dark Brooklyn bar during karaoke night. We first catch a band singing Journey’s smash hit “Don’t Stop Believing” — poorly.  Kovar and Nelson follow the man singing Couch’s “Mystery Man.” Couch is there the entire time, in the background, but as he leaves the bar, he turns into his alter-ego, a fedora wearing noir-like detective, collecting clues. We then see Couch, along with Kovar and Nelson perfuming the song in a house party full of hipsters and characters. It’s trippy but it reveals Couch’s good-natured, mischievous sense of humor. 

Over the past 18 months, the Mollymook, Australia-born, Sydney, Australia-based sibling duo Clews — Grace and Lily Richardson — have quickly emerged into their homeland’s national scene with the release of their first two singles “Museum” and “Crushed,” which displayed the sibling duo’s soaring vocal and guitar harmonies. As a result of the attention they’ve received for their first two singles, the Richardsons have opened for Portugal. The Man, Laurel, Albert Hammond, Jr. and Ocean Alley — and recently, they’ve headlined their own shows.

Building upon their growing national profile, the duo’s Nick DiDia-produced latest single “Hollywood” continues their collaboration with the Grammy Award-winning producer, who has worked with Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam. Sonically, the track is centered around shimmering and jangling guitars, the Richardson’s gorgeous harmonies and a soaring hook. And while the song subtly recalls the slick yet heartfelt pop of Lily & Madeleine, the song finds the sibling duo thematically focuses on the growing pains felt during the transition between youth and adulthood — and is rooted in autobiographical detail and the hard-won personal experience.

“‘Hollywood’ describes feeling so small that you end up making yourself invisible,” Clews’ Grace Richardson says in press notes. “It is full of self-fulfilling prophecies, and the common theme of feeling strongest when you’re alone. It’s a lot about what forces act on us to change our personalities.”

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Brooklyn Act Roofers Union Release a 80s Inspired CGI Visual for “Tortugas”

With the release of the critically applauded single “Karate,” the up-and-coming Brooklyn-based indie pop act Roofers Union have begun to receive attention across the blogosphere for meshing shimmering disco-tinged pop with material that thematically focuses on millennial ennui.

The band’s latest single “Tortugas” is a decidedly uptempo and breezy track, centered around shimmering synths and rapid-fire drumming, frontman T.C. Tyre’s plaintive falsetto and cascading bass and guitar that bears an uncanny resemblance to Kid A and Hail to the Thief-era Radiohead. Bubbling under the breezy, radio friendly exterior is a darker, almost menacing edge. “Everybody has some problem, some terribly flavored pathology to their life that they’ve never quite been able to shake,” the band says about their latest single. “Whether it’s addiction, anxiety, heartbreak, chronic jealousy, loneliness. ‘Tortugas’ isn’t so much about what the issue is as much as how tenacious it can be. These troubles will always be watching from a distance, creeping slowly toward you.”

The recently released video by Patrick Sluiter employs the sort of CGI graphics reminiscent of Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing,” as we follow a computer generated turtle and computer generated man frantically bop to the song in a sparsely furnished room. But underneath the mischievous charm is an equally menacing vibe that suggests that the characters are doomed to repeat the same thing for eternity — without any escape. 

 

New Audio: the bird and the bee’s Jazz-like Take on Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”

Last month, I wrote about the Los Angeles-based indie pop act the bird and the bee — singer/songwriter Inara George and seven time Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin, who has worked with the likes of Sia, Adele, Beck, Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney — and as you may recall, the act can trace their origins to when the duo met while working on George’s 2005 solo debut All Rise. Bonding over a mutual love of 80s pop and rock, the duo decided to continue to work together in a jazz-influenced electro pop project.

The Los Angeles indie pop duo’s debut EP Again and Again and Again and Again was released in late 2006. They quickly followed that up with their self-titled full-length debut in early 2007 — and with their earliest releases George and Kurstin quickly developed a reputation for bringing a breezy elegance to their work, which finds them putting their own idiosyncratic twist on time-bending indie pop.

Although serving as the long-awaited follow up to 2015’s Recreational Love, the bird and the bee’s fifth album, Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen actually closely follows 2010’s critically applauded Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Hall & Oates. And while Van Halen‘s most anthemic and beloved work may initially seem like an unlikely vessel for the Los Angeles-based duo’s sound and approach, George and Kurstin are both lifelong fans of David Lee Roth-era Van Halen. Back in 2007, George caught her first-ever Van Halen show — and it was the first tour to feature David Lee Roth as the band’s frontman since 1985. George was so charmed by Roth’s presence, that after that show, she approached Kurstin about writing a song for Roth. The end result was the swooning serenade “Diamond Dave,” which appeared on their 2008 sophomore album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future. “We asked him to be in the video, but instead he signed a picture and gave me the yellow top hat he’d worn at the show I saw, which I thought was very sweet,” George says in press notes. “When we were trying to figure out who to cover for the second volume of Interpreting the Masters, we were both a little bit like, ‘Oh my god, can we really do it?’ But then we just went for it.”

Slated for an August 2, 2019 release through No Expectations/Release Me Records, the duo’s fifth album features an impressive backing band of guest musicians including Justin Meldal Johnsen (bass), who has worked with Beck and Nine Inch Nails; Joey Waronker (drums), who has worked with R.E.M and Elliott Smith; and Omar Hakim (drums), who has worked with the David Bowieand Miles Davis assisting the duo in making familiar David Lee Roth-era Van Halen anthems completely their own, imbuing even the most over-the-top tracks with a slinky intimacy.

Interestingly, for Kurstin, an accomplished jazz pianist, who once studied with Jaki Byard, a pianist that once played in Charles Mingus‘ band, one of the greatest challenges he had translating Eddie Van Halen’s virtuoso guitar work into piano arrangements that kept some of the spirit and vibe of the original. “I know there’s a jazz influence with the Van Halen brothers, so I tried to channel some of the things that I felt might’ve influenced Eddie,” Kurstin notes. “In a way ‘Eruption’ is almost like a piece of classical music, so I mostly treated it that way as I interpreted it for piano,” he adds, referring to the iconic instrumental guitar solo from Van Halen’s self-titled debut. 

While creating arrangements around Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work will reveal the duo’s ingenuity and playfulness as interpreters and arrangers paired with a deeply nuanced reading of the material, which is influenced by their deep and profound emotional connection to the band.“I remember being 10-years-old and seeing their videos and feeling both excited and totally terrified—I responded to them in this very visceral way,” George says in press notes. Kurstin, who also is a lifelong fan, actually got a chance to work with Eddie Van Halen in the early 80s when the Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist was a 12 year-old member of Dweezil Zappa’s band. “I got to hang out with him in the studio and go backstage when Van Halen played The Forum, which was a really big moment for my younger self,” Kurstin recalls.

The album’s two singles found the members of the bird and the bee taking on Van Halen’s “Panama” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” The duo turned “Panama” from a power chord-based arena rock anthem into a sultry club banger, centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, bright blasts of twinkling piano and cowbell, a wobbling Bootsy Collins-like bass line and George’s sensual vocal delivery. Their cover of”Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” was a slinky and shimmering New Wave-like take that recalled New Order and It’s Blitz-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs while imbued with a feverish quality.  The album’s third latest single finds the band taking on “Hot For Teacher,” the last official single that band released with their original lineup.  Featuring drummer Omar Hakim, who has worked with David Bowie, Sting, Daft Punk, Weather Report, Madonna, Kate Bush and others and a spoken word cameo from Beck, the bird and the bee deliver a swinging bop jazz-inspired take that actually pulls, tugs and teases out the jazziness of the original — particularly within Eddie Van Halen’s dexterous guitar solo-ing. Interestingly, much like Easy Star All-Stars take on Dark Side of the Moon, the bird and the bee version of “Hot For Teacher” isn’t a purely straightforward cover — rather, it’s a subtle and mischievous modernization that retains the spirit and intent of the song in a thoughtful and loving way. 

Racket Man is an up-and-coming Cleveland, OH-based indie pop act, comprised of Tyler Ewing, Tommy Marx, Chris Seaman and Vince Sivestro. Influenced by Prefab Sprout and Mint Condition, the band describes their sound as falling somewhere between a Todd Rundgren inspired yacht rock quartet and 00s boy band. Unsurprisingly, the band’s most latest single “Front Seat” is a breezy and slow-burning track that’s a sleek synthesis of   silky smooth, Quiet Storm R&B, boy band pop and contemporary electro pop with a slick and infectious hook.

 

 

 

EP Stream: Zaia’s “Reset EP”

Zaia is an up-and-coming, 21-year-old Atlanta, GA-born and based singer/songwriter, who has received attention across the blogosphere including the likes of HillyDilly and ThisSongIsSick and others over the past couple of years for a bold, genre-bending sound that draws from hip-hop, R&B, neo-soul, soul and 70s funk — and has been compared to Kid Cudi and Childish Gambino. Building upon a growing profile, the up-and-coming Atlanta-born and-based artist released two critically applauded singles this year “Waste My Time” and “Blue,” which has amassed over 1,000,000 Spotify streams. He was also featured on the cover of Spotify’s Mellow Bars playlist. 

Zaia’s debut EP Reset, which features the aforementioned “My Time” and “Blue” was officially released today and the material thematically explores the vast, complex and frequently contradictory range of emotions that accompany a particularly bitter, emotional breakup with the aim of supporting others going through similar experiences. “I wrote Reset as a way to vent about the mental reset I had to go through after a long-term relationship. I went from feeling really happy to really depressed for a long period of time,” Zaia explains in press notes. “I think everyone goes through some sort of ‘reset’ after something deeply affects the way they feel and think about things. I tried to represent the moodiness of the emotions we experience with each different track, that’s why they all have different energies in the production.”  

“Counseling,” Reset’s slow-burning and brooding neo-soul inspired opening track is centered around an atmospheric arrangement of shimmering and arpeggiated Rhodes piano, a sinuous bass line and Zaia’s plaintive vocals expressing bitterness, denial and frustration — all of which he wants to desperately wants to escape from, but can’t. And while the song’s narrator briefly admits that he’s kind of fucked up — he’s selfish and a bit off, he says — he doesn’t think that therapy or counseling session with a judgmental professional will help him much. Nor does he seem to want to look very deeply into himself. Give me booze, give me drugs, let try to forget everything that’s ever happened, he seems to say.  Admittedly, sometimes that’s a pretty damn good option. “Blue,” the EP’s second track is a brooding and atmospheric track that’s one part shoegazing JOVM mainstays The Veldt, one part contemporary pop and one part old-school blues, as it captures a narrator, who can’t seem to get over and move on from the breakup — and in some way is haunted (and tortured) by the ghosts of that relationship. “Waste My Time,” is a track that owes a sonic debt to hip-hop and neo-soul as it’s centered around a sultry bass line, boom-bap-like drums while the Atlanta-based alternates between a sing-songy/rhyming and traditional vocal delivery. But unlike the other songs, it’s a sort of angry tell-off to a lover/love-interest. “On the Run” is a Quiet Storm-inspired bit of neo-soul that sounds like one-part sultry come-on, one-part reconciliation, one part desperate plea — but with an underlying tacit sense that the song’s narrator recognizes that going back to his lover may be a bit fucked up. “Grace,” the feverish psych soul meets hip-hop finale radiates an uneasy peace and acceptance with the narrator’s situation. 

While further establishing the Atlanta-based artist’s genre-bending sound, his debut EP also reveals an artist, who has an uncanny and downright unerring knack for pairing an infectious hook with earnest, lived-in songwriting that accurately captures the confusing and contradictory emotions and thoughts of an embittering breakup.

The recently released accompanying visual EP is set to specifically tell the story of the song’s narrator, his bitter breakup and gradual (and perhaps begrudging) acceptance of his plight.  “The reason I wanted to make the music video this way is because each song goes together to tell a story, or this rollercoaster of events. Visually we brought that to life, like a reenactment of the entire experience,” Zaia says.