Tag: indie rock

New Video: Peel Dream Magazine Releases a Trippy Anachronistic Bit of Dreamy Psych

Joe Stevens is a New York-based singer/songwriter and musician and the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed psych rock project Peel Dream Magazine. Deriving its name from the legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, one of England’s preeminent tastemakers, the band’s name is meant to evoke a certain strain of independent music. “I wanted to create an outlet for subcultural wanderers. Something you can subscribe to,” Stevens explains. 

Earlier this year, the New York-based psych pop act released their critically applauded sophomore album Agitprop Alterna, an album which draws from a wide set of post-punk, shoegaze and indie pop influences while possessing a self-assured and unique sound. Building upon the attention and momentum they’ve earned earlier this year, Peel Dream Magazine recently released the Moral Panics EP, a companion effort that features previously unreleased songs from the Agitprop Alterna sessions. Far from outtakes, the EP’s material are songs that can stand on their own — while functioning as a sort of corollary to their sophomore effort. 

The EP’s title is derived from Stanley Cohen’s Folk Devils and Moral Panics, a pivotal study of the media treatment of the mod movement and the political, societal and cultural fault lines that the media panic embodied. Unsurprisingly, the EP’s material continues Stevens’  and Peel Dream Magazine’s investigations into those frought and areas where art, culture and commerce meet. 

“Verfremdungseffekt,” Moral Panics’ latest single is a fuzzy, half-remembered dream centered around layers of arpeggiated and droning keys, a chugging bass line, shimmering, atmospheric guitars and ethereal vocals — with the end result being a mod-like take on psych rock that superficially sounds as though it could have been released in 1965, 1995, 2015 or — well, yesterday. 

Centered around footage of Stevens and Company performing at Chicago’sSleeping Village and Ottawa’s Cinqhole just before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the video is an eerie reminder of the things we all miss and can’t have right now — shows, bars, hanging out and bullshitting with friends. 

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New Video: Acclaimed Aussie Artist Peter Bibby Releases a Fiery Examination of Rural Australian Life

Peter Bibby is a rising and critically applauded Fremantle, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, whose career started in earnest when he turned 19: he quit the unfulfilling job he was working at the time to busk, eventually landing a few paying gigs. Sometime later, Bibby landed a high paying job that he wound he losing because he would show up hungover from the gigs he’d play the night before. So, he wound up playing even more gigs with a series of different backing bands including Frozen Ocean, Fucking Teeth and Bottles of Confidence while developing a unique, rough and tumble sound and approach — one that many have described as being like Shane McGowan screaming at bleeding laudanum and typhoid hallucinations while his guitar playing has been described as being like a dog drunk on rum.

With the release of his first two albums 2014’s Butcher/Hairstylist/Beautician and 2018’s Grand Champion, Bibby has been championed for being an inherently working class and wholeheartedly independent artist, further documented in greater detail in the 2018 film Chasing Palm Springs, which followed Bibby on a cross-country trip from Perth to Melbourne in a  temperamental van. Since then, the Fremantle-based artist has begun to build a growing profile and reputation as a must see act, as a result of a rowdy and raucous live set —  and through headlining shows and international festival circuit stops at Laneway, Falls and SXSW.

Earlier this year, Bibby released “Oceans,”  the first bit of new material since the release of Grand Champion. Featuring his latest backing band Dog Act — “Strawberry Pete” Gower (bass) and “Dirty Dave” Taylor (drums) — “Oceans” is disorderly, boozy and wobbly take on garage roc that’s full of spittle, fury and howled inventive, fuzzy and lurching power chords, thunderous drumming and drunken, shout worthy choruses that reminded me a bit of Johnny Thunders‘ “Born to Lose,”and John Cale‘s “Pablo Picasso”  — but much more unhinged. 

“Oceans” will be included on Bibby’s  forthcoming third album, Marge. Slated for a September 18, 2020 through Spinning Top Records, the album features Dog Act as his backing band. Reportedly, Marge, which derives its name from Dave Taylor’s grandmother Marge, and is an album of splintered, volatile Australiana written as a sort of soundtrack to a surf movie from hell — the sort where there’s blood in water; a dirt road leading to a dirt end; and everything is covered in diesel fumes and dust. “The Dog Act and I recorded this album in a week off in Perth between two Australian tours. We were match fit and full of beans,” Bibby says of the album. “It features a selection of songs, some fun, some completely bloody miserable. It was made better by the involvement of the fourth Dog, Mitch McDonald, who engineered the record and offered endless energy and ideas. I love this record.” 

The titular Marge is prominently featured on the album’s cover art,  smoking a cigarette on a beach in Darwin, Australia, seemingly watching her corner of the world go by.  “I felt there was no better image than a smoking nanna to be the face of this album,” Bibby says. 

“Whyalla,” Marge’s second single derives its name from name of a South Australian steel town that had been in decline for years. Centered around churning  power chords, thunderous drumming and an unhinged spittle and invective delivered vocal and a classic grunge rock song structure, the track is simultaneously a love letter and a fiery condemnation of rural Australia, pointing out the hopelessness, small-minded thinking and boredom of rural life in a way that feels full of the sort of lived-in hate, despair and abiding love you’d feel for a dysfunctional and fucked-up family member. The song’s spoken word bridge features Bibby telling some tall tales about some of Whyalla’s notable legends — but drenched with irony. 

“I wrote this song a few years back after my mate Racoo asked me to write a song for a road trip compilation she was putting together. I don’t think it saw the light of day. I had a lot of help from Wikipedia,” says Bibby of the track. 

Directed by Brendan Hutchens, the video is sort of a hitchhiker’s guide to nowhere in particular; the sort of nowhere in particular that somehow feels, well — American. We see Bibby getting up from camp, walking alongside a deserted road, hitchhiking until two guys — the members of his band — pick him up, They pull over to the side of the road to play and pay homage to Whyalla’s legends. Much like the video for “Oceans,” the accompanying video for “Whyalla” feels like a slow-burning fever dream. 

“We shot this thing out in Glen Eagle’s Rest, due to COVID 19 we couldn’t shoot it in Whyalla,” Bibby says in press notes. “It came together nicely with the help of great friends, a great crew and a weird toilet cleaner who hung around telling us strange and creepy facts about the location. He said he was disappointed that we weren’t shooting a porno.”

New Video: Quebec’s Gaspard Eden Releases a Surreal Claymation Video for Shimmering “Pancakes”

Gaspard Eden is a restlessly creative, emerging Quebec City-based singer/songwriter and musician. Coyote Records, will be releasing Eden’s full-length debut Soft Power late this year, and the album reportedly finds the Quebec City-based singer/songwriter and musician pushing his sound in a completely new direction while evoking a wide range of emotions through melodic landscapes and poetic lyricism.

Soft Power’s first single “Pancakes” is a slow-burning and brooding bit of jangle pop centered around an enormous hook, glistening and jangling guitars, Eden’s plaintive falsetto and an aching nostalgia for a seemingly simpler past that you can never get back — but while expressing the need and desire to have family around you. 

Directed by tattoo artist Phil Berge, the recently claymation video for “Pancakes” was created during COVID-19 related lockdowns and quarantines — and it draws from 90s claymation cartoons like Wallace and Gromit, Pingu and Soupe Opera among others. The video follows three characters — two men and a women — as they prepare various items for breakfast, including the namesake pancakes. Surreal things that could only happen in a claymation cartoon happen — figures morph into different things at will, as the characters make their breakfast. “There is certainly a romantic and nostalgic aspect to the idea behind this video, because all those who worked on this project grew up in the 90s, accompanied in their childhood by number of shows by television featuring animations of clay figures,” Eden says in press notes.

Additionally, the video is also influenced by Eden’s memories of browsing through his father’s collection of Beta cassettes, which featured episodes of The California Raisins. As a boy, the emerging Quebec-based artist was fascinated by the colors and textures. “By digging a little deeper into the history of the medium, we found artists like Bruce Bickford as a reference and we fell in love with [the] aesthetics,” Eden explains. “Phil Berge took me by surprise with an instinctive and creative script that perfectly complements my song,” the Quebec-based artist says. “He made this video a true work of art!” 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Mayflower Madame Release a Gorgeous and Trippy Visual for Menacing “Sacred Core”

Mayflower Madame — Trond Fagernes (vocals, guitar, bass), Havard Haga (guitar) and Ola J. Kyrkjeeide (drums) — is a rising Oslo Norway-based psych rock/post-punk act that can trace its origins back to 2011. The band’s hazy and smoky sound was conceived in and inspired by the band’s gritty surroundings: their first rehearsal space was a desolate, industrial building, which they shared with a local carwash company. After their formation, they quickly recorded a four-track demo. which led to the band being named “Unsigned Band of the Week” on one of Norway’s biggest radio stations. 

Shortly after their four-track demo, the band then spent the next few years touring and playing shows across Scandinavia, carefully honing their sound along the way. The band’s full-length debut, 2016’s eight track Observed in a Dream was brooding and icy psych rock with a dark romanticism. Based on the success of their full-length debut, the Oslo-based psych rock band toured across North America and Europe to support the album. The band followed Observed in a Dream with 2018’s Premonition EP,  four songs of apocalyptic love songs. 

Building upon a growing profile. Mayflower Madame supported Premonition EP with more touring, including the European festival circuit with stops in France, Germany, the UK and Eastern Europe. And as a result of the band’s touring schedule, they’ve shared stages with an impressive and growing list of artists including Killing Joke, Moon Duo, Night Beats, Psychic Ills, Froth, The Underground Youth, Crocodiles, Cosmonauts and La Femme. 

Released earlier this year through a collaboration between French label Only Lovers Records, Portland‘s Little Cloud Records and Parisian label Icy Cold Records, Prepared for a Nightmare, the Norwegian psych rock JOVM mainstays’ latest album finds them further developing their unique blend of psych-noir and post punk with elements of shoegaze and noise rock. So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles — the shoegazer yet menacing “Vultures” and “Swallow” — and while both tracks may bring The Black Angels, My Gold Mask, and Chain of Flowers to mind, they also evoke the dread and despair of our horrible sociopolitical moment. 

“Sacred Core,” Prepared for a Nightmare’s third and latest single continues a run of brooding and menacing psych rock, centered around swirling, shimmering and hypnotic guitars and a propulsive and muscular beat. Unlike its immediate predecessors, which were subtly shoegazer-leaning, “Sacred Core” is even more menacing, recalling The Black Angels’ Directions to See a Ghost while still being atmospheric. “‘Sacred Core’ is a song about getting lost, drifting away and trying to find the way back to your safe haven — guided by swirling, hypnotic guitars and an insistent heavy beat,” the band’s Trond Fagernes says in press notes. 

Continuing their ongoing collaboration with director Astrid Serck, the recently released video for “Sacred Core,” is centered around motion and stillness — and as a result, there’s gorgeous black and white footage of beaches and churches, movement in and around an old house, blinding sunbeams and footage of the band playing shows in Oslo and San Diego. “To me, the song is like an open landscape – it’s grounded, but at the same time moving. I wanted to capture that feeling visually with footage from windmill fields and beaches, where there’s constant movement — like a rhythm, as opposed to the solid ground. A contrast between motion and stillness. Something to hold on to as well as something loose and vibrating,” Astrid Serck says in press notes. 

“The core is what you hold on to. The motion is what you can let go. The sunbeams are blinding you, like a sacred light. The ceiling of a church is another symbol for sanctity. The moon is dancing, in disturbing ways, on the screen. In the video there is also an abandoned house, left with the door open. It´s a metaphor for the feeling of something that is lost, you can go back there, but only the memories are left. In addition there’s live footage of the band filmed from shows in Oslo and San Diego.”

New Audio: Corridor’s Jonathan Robert Releases a Shimmering New Single with Solo Project Jonathan Personne

Jonathan Robert is a Montreal-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known for being the co-founder of the internationally acclaimed JOVM mainstay act Corridor — and for his work as an animator and visual artist. With his solo recording project Jonathan Personne, Robert released his full-length debut, last year’s Histoire Naturelle, which was  thematically  inspired by the potential end of the world and drew from desert dream pop, Western spaghetti rock and jangle pop. 

Robert’s Jonathan Personne sophomore album, Disparitions is slated for an August 28, 2020 release through Michel Records and the album reportedly finds Robert continuing with intimate and sensitive songwriting — but this time inspired by a moment when music became a source of disgust for him: “I spent a lot of time touring away from home. Towards the end I felt like I was reluctantly going to do something that I had longed wished for,” Robert says in press notes. 

Subtly recalling his work with Corridor, “Springsteen,” Disparitions’ first single sees Robert boldly drawing  from and then meshing several different eras of rock music: glistening  psych rock through the use of a looping and shimmering 12 string guitar line, 70s AOR/radio rock through the use of bluesy guitar soloing, glam rock-like four-on-the-floor and a soaring hook paired with Robert’s plaintive falsetto. And much like his full-length debut, “Springsteen” is centered around observations and feelings about the seemingly inevitable end of the world as we know it. 

New Audio: Joe Wong Returns with a Lush and Orchestral New Single

Joe Wong is a Milwaukee-born, Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, who has created the scores for acclaimed TV series like Master of None, Russian Doll, Ugly Delicious, Awkafina is Nora from Queens, and others — and for being host of The Trap Set podcast.

Over the past few months Wong has released material off his Mary Lattimore-produced full-length debut, Nite Creatures, which is slated for a September 18, 2020 release, including two singles I’ve written about so far: the Man Who Sold The World-era David Bowie-like “Dreams Wash Away” and the a Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles-like “Nuclear Rainbow.” “Minor,” Nite Creatures’ third and latest single continues a run of incredibly lush material, but it’s arguably the most orchestral of the album’s singles, and as a result it reminds me a bit of the late, great Scott Walker’s work — brooding, achingly lonely and breathtakingly gorgeous. 

New Video: AMAARA Releases Two Gorgeous and Dreamy Videos

Kaelen Ohm is a British Columbia-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, musician, actor and award-winning filmmaker. As an actor, Ohm is known for roles in AMC’s Hell on Wheels, NBC’s Taken, MGM’s Condor, Lifetime Network’s Flint and several others. In 2018, Ohm appeared in Charles Wahl’s short film Little Grey Bubbles, which premiered at ten Oscar qualifying festivals worldwide, including SXSW. The film was featured as a Staff Pick on Vimeo, earned best actress and best short film award nominations and received widespread praise from critics and blogs across the globe. 

Ohm is also the creative mastermind behind the the multimedia project AMAARA. Upon getting the news that she was cast a series regular in the new Netflix original series Hit and Run, Ohm left Calgary with six songs off her forthcoming album Heartspeak completed. Hit and Run was filmed in New York last fall and was filming in Israel and  was put on pause, four weeks out from wrapping up their first season as a result of COVID-19 quarantines and social distancing guidelines. 

Heartspeak, which continues her ongoing collaboration with Reuben and the Dark’s Brock Geier, is the result of ten days of stream-of-consciousness songwriting, recording and production in Geiger’s bedroom studio. Written completely by Ohm, the material can trace its origins to the British Columbia-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, musician, actor and filmmaker sitting at the piano or with a guitar first thing each morning until a song was found — with the two collaborating on production and instrumental work, spending each day laying down tracks. Written as a culmination of a life-changing heartbreak and the end of a marriage, the album’s material is a meditation on love, grief, freedom and self-evaluation. 

Slated for an August 14, 2020 release through Lady Moon Records, Ohm and Geier have released two singles from the album. “Awake,” a slow-burning and brooding single centered around shimmering guitar, twinkling keys, a soaring hook and Ohm’s plaintive vocals — and “Gone,” a decidedly shoegazey track featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats. And while respectively bringing Mazzy Star and Lightfoils to mind, both tracks come from a place of lived-in grief and heartache, accepting them as a natural part of life that one experiences and learns to live with — and through. 

The accompanying videos were directed and by Ohm. “Gone” employs a simple concept of Ohm performing the song by herself in the desert — but the video features a cinematic sweep that makes its creator seem tiny. “Awake,” features Ohm traveling a surreal and unusually empty New York. And while capturing the experience of wandering New York during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a commentary of on how the jarring experience of realizing one’s own illusion of perfection can be an awakening experience. 

New Video: Video Age Releases a Playful Visual for Shimmering and Upbeat Anthem “Aerostar”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the New Orleans-based act Video Age, and with the release of their first two albums 2016’s full-length debut Living Alone and 2018’s sophomore album Pop Therapy, the band — founding members Ross Farbe and Ray Micarelli, along with Nick Corson and Duncan Troast — received attention for crafting hook-driven material with a decidedly 80s synth pop-inspired sound.

Following the release of Pop Therapy, the band’s songwriting partners and co-founders Farbe and Micarelli were eager to write new material and continue upon the momentum they had just started to build up. The band convened at Farbe’s home studio to work on the band’s highly anticipated third album, Pleasure Line, which is slated for an August 7, 2020 release through Winspear, who recently signed the band.

Inspired by a vast range of influences including Janet Jackson, David Bowie and Paul McCartney, Pleasure Line finds the band crafting neon-bright 80s pop-like melodies to create an optimistic sound — with the material taking on a rosy hue.  “I’m often trying to create a more idealized version of the world I’m in,” Video Age’s Ross Farbe says in press notes. “In fact, some of that optimism may come as a result of both Farbe and Micarelli getting married this year — just a few weeks apart from each other. “We’re feeling the love,” Farbe says.

Written as a salve that protects against cynicism. the album’s material is meant to help the listener see and feel a world full of romantic potential. But the album isn’t centered around one-dimensional puppy love — it’s the sort of fulfilling love that’s complicated, confusing and never easy; but ultimately worth it. So far, I’ve written about two of the album’s singles — the dance floor friendly,  Tom Tom Club-like “Shadow On The Wall” and the slow-burning, Quiet Storm meets Prince-like “Pleasure Line.” 

Pleasure Line’s third and latest single “Aerostar” is a decidedly upbeat New Wave-inspired, bop centered around shimmering and squiggling synth arpeggios, propulsive four-on-the-floor, a sinuous bass line, angular guitar blasts and an infectious, dance floor friendly hook. Sonically, the track may remind some listeners of The Cars, Talking Heads, and others — but with playful references to cars and hitting the road with your buddies, playing tunes. “This song looks at the bright side of being on the road. We did a lot of touring for the last album and it’s something that really brought us closer together as a band,” the members of Video Age say in press notes. 

Directed by Zack Shorrosh, the recently released video follows the band and their adventures in their ’95 Ford Aerostar, shot in front of a green screen: we see the members of the band and the van as they travel throughout various locations, including the Grand Canyon, the desert and even space — and naturally, the video looks and feels as though it could have been released in 1985. “Once we found a green screen studio big enough to fit our ’95 Ford Aerostar, we hopped in and let the story unfold,” the band says.