Tag: indie rock

New Video: James Wyatt Crosby Releases a Hazy, Nostalgia-Inducing Visual for Breezy “Shadow of a Ghost”

James Wyatt Crosby is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who’s currently based in the rural township of Tiny, Ontario Canada. (Yes, that’s a real place. Located in South Central Ontario, Tiny is — well, tiny, as it has a population of 11,787 or so.) Crosby’s full-length debut, 2017’s Twins featured “Deep In Yr Mind,” a track which amassed over 1.2 million Spotify streams, while landing on Nerdist’s 25 Best Underground Albums of 2017.

The following year, Crosby released the standalone single “Lemonade (No I Never),” which wound up being a surprise hit on Canadian college radio, at one point peaking at #1 on CFMU-FM. 2019’s Here We Are In Heaven EP wound up becoming a fan favorite, while seeing the Canadian singer/songwriter craft more addictive dream pop melodies.

Last year, the rising Canadian artist went on a forced recording and touring hiatus as a result of the pandemic; but 2021 has seen Crosby’s material appear on a handful of CBC and Netflix shows. Released earlier this month through Wavy Sun, Crosby’s latest single “Shadow of a Ghost” is a summary blast centered around layers of shimmering guitars, glistening synths, a sumptuous bass line, a simple backbeat and Crosby’s achingly plaintive and yearning vocals. The end result is an infectious and nostalgia-inducing bit of dream pop that sounds indebted to 120 Minutes MTV era alt rock.

“This song was written during a time when it seemed like the fabric of reality was coming apart at the seams right in front of me,” James Wyatt Crosby explains in press notes. “Life can be so beautiful but also so painful and disturbing and this song speaks about the way that loss and grief can change the way that you perceive yourself and the world around you. This song allowed me to move through some challenging times.”

Fittingly for such a nostalgia-inducing tune, the video is shot through a hazy filter, reminding us of summer days when things seemed far easier and far simpler.

Pierre Grech is a Toulon, France-based singer/songwriter, composer, producer and guitarist, who has long been influenced by folk, indie rock, hip hop, jazz, contemporary classical and electronica. Grech began writing songs as a child but he can trace the origins of his music career to the early 2000s: He was the frontman of experimental electronica act SLiDD — and around the same time, he co-wrote and arranged material on three Jen H. Ka albums. 

As a solo artist and bandleader, Grech has played shows across Paris and Southern France with re-arranged and re-imagined renditions of his material in several different iterations including electro rock, acoustic, cello-guitar duo, rock trio and more. But over the past few years, the French singer/songwriter, guitarist, composer, arranger and producer has been refining and honing his songwriting and compositional approach, as well as his guitar playing. The end result is Grech’s latest project _telemaque_,which finds the Toulon-based artist drawing from his long-held influences while crafting pop that’s energetic yet sensitive.

Grech released his _telemaque debut EP June earlier this year. And as you might recall, the EP featured EP title track “June,” gorgeous track that brought OK Computer-era Radiohead and JOVM mainstays Husky to mind while featuring shimmering acoustic guitar, Greech’s plaintive falsetto, propulsive drumming and a soaring hook paired with earnest and accessible songwriting.

Greech’s _telemaque_ debut album Silent Creatures is forthcoming — but in the meantime, the album’s first single “December Sun” is what Greech says is the most rock leaning song on the album: shimmering guitar chords are paired with an insistent, throbbing groove, propulsive beats and a scorching guitar solo are paired with Greech’s plaintive vocals. Sonically, the song sees the French singer/songwriter refining his sound and approach. While bearing a resemblance to Radiohead, the song features a subtle nod at kraturock and folk.

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New VIdeo: JOVM Mainstay Sam Fender Releases a Frenetic Visual for Anthemic Yet Intimate “Get You Down”

Over the course of the past couple of years, I’ve managed to spill copious amounts of virtual ink covering North Shields, UK-born, Newcastle-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Sam Fender. 2019 was a breakthrough year for Fender: His Bramwell Bronte-produced. full-length debut, Hypersonic Missiles was a commercially successful and critically applauded effort, which was supported with some relentless international touring that included two North American tours with a festival stop at Lollapalooza and sold-out shows in Los Angeles and NYC. Fender also made appearances Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. And Fender was featured on CBS This Morning Saturday in a segment in which CBS anchor Anthony Mason chatted with the British JOVM mainstay about his seemingly sudden rise in notoriety. 

Although 2019 was full of some momentous, life-changing achievements for the rising, young British singer/songwriter, the year unfortunately, ended on a frustrating and disappointing note: Fender had to postpone and then reschedule a handful of sold-out, end-of-the-year dates.

Before the pandemic struck, last year looked promising for the JOVM mainstay. Fender was hand-picked by  Elton John to play at his annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Party — and he received a BRIT Award nomination for Best New Artist. 

Much like countless other artists across the world, Sam Fender’s plans were put on an indefinite pause but he did manage to keep busy, writing and recording the standalone single, the anthemic 80s-inspired slow-burn “Hold Out,” and a bluesy cover of Amy Winehouse‘s “Back To Black,” which he performed on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge series. But along with that he also wrote and recorded his highly-anticipated sophomore album Seventeen Going Under

Released earlier this month through Interscope RecordsSeventeen Going Under is the most intensely personal album of Fender’s growing catalog with the material finding Fender turning the mirror on himself — particularly his adolescence and the trials and tribulations of growing up. As a result, the album is a relatable journey that careens through an often misspent youth, navigating tumultuous relationships with both friends and family and trying to figure out what comes next and how to get there. Naturally, his birthplace of North Shields serves as the setting for the album’s songs, which see him chronicling cherished memories, difficult encounters and the events that he can’t unsee. “The whole record is about growing up and the self-esteem issues that you carry into your adult life,” the acclaimed, British JOVM mainstay explains. 

Seventeen Going Under‘s third and latest single “Get You Down” is a big, breakneck Born in the USA era Bruce Springsteen-ilke song centered around Fender’s earnest delivery, a soulful horn solo, strummed guitar, a sprinkle of soaring strings. While being an unvarnished and honest look at himself and his life, revealing a man, who has desperately fought against the destructive patterns and cycles of his own upbringing and his battles with crippling self-bout, the new single centered around Fender’s unerring knack for crafting rousing arena rock anthems. “This song in particular is about how insecurity has affected my relationships. Definitely one of the more personal ones,” Fender notes. 

Directed by Hector Dockrill, the recently released video for “Get You Down” stars the British JOVM mainstay as the song’s narrator, desperately struggling with his self-doubt, his upbringing and with keeping a major romantic relationship together. Told through a kinetic yet gorgeously shot series of flashbacks, the video follows the car racing protagonist as he practices for a major race — and then gets into a near fatal car wreck during the race.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Palm Ghosts Release a True Crime-Inspired Visual for Dance Floor Friendly “Bloodlight”

Led by singer/songwriter, producer and Ice Queen Records founder Joseph Lekkas, the Nashville-based indie rock act Palm Ghosts can trace its origins to when Lekkas resided in Philadelphia. After spending a number of years playing in local bands like Grammar Debate! and Hilliard, Lekkas took a lengthy hiatus from writing, recording and performing music to book shows and festivals in and around the Philadelphia area. Lekkas initially started Palm Ghosts as a solo recording project — and as a creative outlet to cope with an incapacitating bout of depression and anxiety. 

During a long prototypically Northeastern winter, he recorded a batch of introspective songs that at the time, he dubbed “sun-damaged American music” that would eventually become the project’s full-length debut. After a short tour in 2013 to support the album, Lekkas packed up his belongings and relocated to Nashville, enticed by the city’s growing indie rock scene. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past handful of years, you may recall that Palm Ghosts’ third album, 2018’s Architecture was a change in sonic direction for the project with Lekkas writing material influenced by the sounds of the 80s — in particular, Cocteau TwinsPeter GabrielDead Can DanceNew Order,  The Cure, and others. 

Much like countless other acts across the world, Lekkas and his bandmates spent much of forced downtime of the pandemic, being as busy as humanly possible: The members of the JOVM mainstay act wrote a ton of new material. The past year or so of isolation of lockdowns and quarantines, socioeconomic and financial uncertainty and protests and demonstrations helped to fuel an immediacy to the material the band had been busily writing.

Earlier this year, the Nashville-based outfit released their fourth album Lifeboat Candidate, a fittingly dark, dystopian effort full of confusion, fear and dread, informed by the events and circumstances of last year. And while the world feels little changed since last year, the JOVM mainstay’s fifth album Lost Frequency is a much different album. Initially scheduled for release last year, Lifeboat Candidate harkens to the before, when things seemed normal — or at least less uneasy, less desperate. After a difficult 18 months of pandemic, 700,000+ deaths in the US alone, financial despair, political uncertainty and more, having some respite, some sort of escape is what most of us urgently need. In a loose sense, Lost Frequency feels almost celebratory — and perhaps a bit more nostalgic, than its immediate predecessor. But the material lyrically brings confrontation to the forefront, reminding the listener that at this juncture, normalcy is devastating. 

 Lost Frequency‘s first single “Bloodlight” continues a run of hook-driven material indebted to The Cure, Cocteau Twins, Peter Gabriel, Depeche Mode and the like with the song being centered around tweeter and woofer thumping beats, shimmering guitars, hypnotic, motorik grooves, atmospheric synths and an enormous hook. And while dance floor friendly, the song lyrically is a seething indictment of humanity and its treatment of Mother Earth. 

“‘Bloodlight,’ the album opener, is a dark dance track that compares the  climate crisis to a crime scene,.” Palm Ghosts’ Joseph Leekas explains in press notes. “Luminol is a chemical commonly used in  forensics for the detection of blood stains. Nothing vanishes without a trace  and particles of blood adhere to surfaces for years.  

“The same applies to what humans have done to the earth. The damage will remain long after we are gone.”  

Directed by Nick Hawl, the recently released video for “Bloodlight” stars Ben de la Cour, Jessica Bell, Charles Hager and Cole Morse in a dark and uneasy police procedural that follows two cowboy hat wearing detectives investigating a brutal and bloody double murder. But as the story slows unfurls, we see that something is dangerously wrong: one of the detectives was obsessed with the victim — and towards the end of the video, we see a vicious yet fairly obvious plot twist that hits upon the themes of the song.

New Video: Jess Chalker Returns With a Trippy Visual for Sultry “Cynical”

Sydney-born, London-based singer/songwriter and producer, Jess Chalker started her music career as the frontman of Aussie New Wave act We Are The Brave. And since We Are The Brave’s breakup, Chalker has become a highly sought-after collaborator: She has worked with Sam FischerVintage Culture, IsamachineGold Kimono, and Passenger — and she was part of the Grammy Award-winning songwriting and production team that cowrote Lisa Loeb‘s lead single on the acclaimed artist’s kids record Feel What U Feel. Additionally, the Aussie-born, British-based artist wrote “Darkest Hour” for the Amazon Original series Panic, performed by Tate McRae.

Chalker finally steps out into the spotlight as a solo artist with her full-length debut Hemispheres. Slated for a November 5, 2021 release through her own imprint 528 Records, the album was completed under the massive weight of the pandemic, and as Chalker grappled with the loss of her day job and heartbreaking health issues. 

Much like countless others across the globe, she found herself spiraling and turned to music for the creative outlet she needed. Collaborating with friends across Sydney, Los Angeles and London, including Dan Long, Josh Humphreys and Chalker’s former We Are The Brave bandmate Ox Why, Chalker wound up finishing what would turn out to be a deeply emotional album. And interestingly enough, she managed to find much longed-for freedom in the process: “Releasing this album is terrifying and thrilling to me,” the Aussie-born, British-based artist says in press notes. “I grew up in a religion that discouraged us from pursuing career success, where women weren’t allowed on stage to address an audience directly. I think it’s why I’ve always tried to avoid the spotlight but, after the year we’ve all had, my perspective on things has changed quite a lot. I’m not wasting any more time doubting myself.”

Sonically, the album reportedly finds Chalker and her collaborators crafting material featuring guitar-driven hooks and retro synths paired with the Aussie-born, British-based artist’s expressive vocals. Thematically, the album deals with themes that explore the dichotomy between depression and hopefulness, self-doubt and self-love and more. 

In the lead up to the album’s forthcoming release, I’ve managed to write about two of the album’s previously released singles:

  • The Chalker, Rich Jacques and Martjin Tinus Konijnenburg co-written “Don’t Fight It.” Centered around glistening synth arpeggios, reverb-drenched drums. Chalker’s expressive vocals, the track hints at Peter GabrielKate Bush and Prince, while full of the bittersweet longing and uncertainty of a narrator who’s physically and emotionally lost. 
  • The breezy and defiantly upbeat “Stupid Trick.”Centered around shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths, Chalker’s plaintive vocals, the song thematically focuses on the innocence and desperately intense feelings of teenaged love, before gradually learning what love really is and what it really means. And while bringing up memories of Pat Benetar‘s “Love is a Battlefield,” Rod Stewart‘s “Young Turks” and others, the song continued a run of material driven by Chalker’s unerring knack for paring earnestly written material with a razor sharp hook. 

“Cynical,” Hemisphere‘s latest single is a smoky pop song centered around Chalker’s achingly tender vocals, twinkling keys, atmospheric synths, a sinuous and propulsive bass line, and a bluesy guitar lines. But while being sultry and full of longing, “Cynical” possesses an underlying tension, tumult and tension that should feel familiar to anyone, who has been in a complicated, dramatic relationship full of fiery passion that will burn out or blow up in everyone’s faces,

“Musically this song feels quite drama-filled,” Chalker says, “There’s a tension in it that’s familiar, like the tumult of being in one of those relationships you know won’t go the distance but feels good in the moment.”

Directed by Thomas Calder, the recently released video for “Cynical” is part lyric video, part music video in which we see Chalker rendered in blown out, psychedelic colors,.

Pre-order the album now via Bandcamp (https://jesschalker.bandcamp.com)

Jake Ward is best known as one-half of Athens, GA-based indie rock act Eureka California. Ward recently took to his home studio and completed a solo album, Never Had A Touch To Lose, which finds him stepping out into the spotlight as solo artist. performing as Mild Mild Country.

Mild Mild Country is a decided sonic departure from Ward’s work with Eureka California: Never Had A Touch To Lose is a purely instrumental. mostly synth-based, 80s influenced affair, unlike the crunchy, literature indie-rock he’s best known for. The album’s material finds Ward composing the soundtrack to an imaginary detective movie, set in Los Angeles, where the album coincidentally was recorded.

While the album is mostly synth based, you’ll hear subtle nods to post-punk, the blues and some inspired guitar playing. The album is slated for an October 22, 2021 release through HHBTM Records. To build up buzz for the album, Ward and HHBTM Records recently released a digital only bonus track off the album, an indie rock leaning cover of Depeche Mode’s “Everything Counts” featuring a subtly different arrangement. While centered around heavily arpeggiated synths and industrial clang and clatter, the song also features buzzing guitars and a lengthy vocal coda. which pushes the song past the five minute mark.

Ward wrote a lengthy statement to me about Mild Mild Country’s sound and the new cover. I’ll let him speak for himself, below:

“I don’t know if it was a conscious decision to necessarily change my sound – I certainly didn’t think it was something that I had to do as much as it was that I wanted to try something new. There’s a quote by Warhol that I think about all the time – ‘Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.’ I think over the past year or so, I’ve really tried to adopt that mentality and to focus on making things (music, paintings, etc) that are interesting to me and then putting them out into the world. I’ve always enjoyed tons of different kinds of music and really the genesis for this new project was watching a documentary on Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and going ‘I want to try something like that.’ The only conscious aspect of it was that I didn’t want people to hear it and automatically go ‘oh, it’s a quarantine record.’ My thought was having it be an instrumental doesn’t really link it to a specific time than if I was singing about not going out, spending too much on GrubHub, etc. At the end of the day, I hope this isn’t my Hudson River Wind Meditations but that’s not really up to me.

I’m not going to sit here and say I’ve been a huge Depeche Mode fan for years and years. Honestly, before this year I maybe knew 3 or 4 songs and my biggest Depeche Mode memory was back in the winter of 2019 when my neighbors were blasting mariachi music for roughly 14 hours and the only break was at about hour 8 when they played ‘Policy of Truth,’ twice. And then on a random Thursday in August while I was doing some painting, everything changed. I put on a DM playlist because I wanted something with vocals but no guitars (sorry Aphex Twin), and put on the first song I knew, ‘World in my Eyes.’ But it was the second song, ‘Everything Counts,’ which was one I didn’t know that blew my shit wide open. It was so catchy, and intricate, creative, and clever in it’s arrangement. I’m writing this in October but I’m certain my Spotify wrapped is going to show this as my top played song of the year. And then every other song that followed just left me dumbfounded. I felt like I had stumbled upon a huge secret which is a hilariously sad thing to think about when hearing one of the most successful bands all of time. Still, where had this been all my life? What followed after this first listen was a blur. By Friday, I had listened to just about everything they’d released prior to Alan Wilder leaving and then on Saturday, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I spent the entire day learning and recording this cover. Ya know, for fun. And with that in mind, I hope when you listen to this you get a sense of the immediacy of someone discovering their new favorite band.”

Initially formed in Chicago back in 2019 and now currently based Portland, OR, the members of rising indie rock outfit Koalra quickly established a sound and songwriting approach indebted to 120 Minutes-era alt rock — in particular, The CureDinosaur Jr., WeenSonic YouthBoyracer, and The Thermals, as well as contemporaries like No Age, and Waaves

In the almost three years since their formation, the Portland-based outfit has been remarkably prolific: They’ve released three albums and a handful of EPs, including 2019’s self-titled debut, last year’s The Wakes and this year’s Into The Everything. Interestingly, Into The Everything, which featured “Water’s Push” found the rising indie rock act pushing their sound into decidedly New Wave territory. 

Koalra’s fourth album Love Songs To Remind Us That We Can’t Stand Each Other continues upon the band’s reputation for being prolific while being a collection of songs inspired by the disenchantment of our current sociopolitical climate, as well as a major lineup change — and their recent relocation to Portland.

Last month, I wrote about the  4AD Records-like “Sight Unseen,” a track centered around atmospheric synths, angular guitars, a driving, motorik-like groove, plaintive vocals and an enormous hook. Thematically, the song focused on some familiar and universal themes — in particular, nostalgia over a youthful yet major love that’s been long lost.

“When We Fall” is a melodic and yearning bit of post punk featuring shimmering and atmospheric synths, plaintive vocals, a driving 80s New Order-like groove, propulsive four-on-the-floor and a swooning hook. Much like its immediate predecessor, “When We Fall” is centered around a familiar nostalgia — of a time and place that you can’t quite get back.

Brighton-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Hanya — currently Heather Sheret (vocals, guitar), Benjamin Varnes (guitar), Jorge Bela (bass) and Jack Watkins (drums) — exploded into the national and international scenes with the release of their debut EP, I Used to Love You, Now I Don’t, an effort that saw the British outfit quickly and firmly establish a sound that featured elements of dream pop and shoegaze.

Much like countless acts across the globe, the Brighton-based JOVM mainstays had plans to build upon a rapidly growing profile both nationally and internationally: they released their acclaimed, sophomore EP Sea Shoes, which they supported with touring across the UK and their Stateside debut at that year’s New Colossus Festival. Since their New Colossus  set at The Bowery Electric last March, Hanya has been busy writing and releasing new material, including:  

  • Texas,” a shimmering bit of dream pop that nods at 70s AM rock, and focuses on the longing and excitement of a new crush/new love/new situationship
  • Monochrome,”a hazy and slow-burning ballad that celebrates the pleasures of life’s small things
  • Lydia,” a slow-burning and gorgeous track that continues upon their winning mix of 70s AM rock and Beach House-like dream pop. 

The British dream pop outfit will be releasing their highly anticipated third EP lates this year. Now, as you may recall, last month, I wrote about the forthcoming EP’s lead single, the slow-burning “Fortunes,” which featured  A Storm In Heaven like painterly textures, ethereal harmonies and deeply personal, lived-in lyricism.

Hanya’s latest single “Logan’s Run” continues a recent run of lush and painterly textured material featuring glistening guitars for the song’s dreamy verses, towering feedback and pedal effect driven soloing, a propulsive backbeat paired with Heather Sheret’s gorgeous and expressive vocals. Sonically, “Logan Run” strikes me as being a sort of slick synthesis of brooding atmospherics, 79s AM rock and A Storm in Heaven-like textures.

“We wrote this track as a homage to its namesake – the 1970’s sci-fi classic Logan’s Run, set in a seemingly perfect future full of staggeringly blissful ignorance,” Hanya’s Heather Sheret explains. “We can’t get enough of this film, and whilst we were endlessly ageing during this pandemic, this track felt like our own soundtrack to the dystopian present. The film addresses concerns of consumption, truth and escape, all whilst remaining timelessly beautiful, confusing, and trashy. Just like us.”
 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Money War Release an Intimate Visual for introspective “Blood”

Perth-based dream pop duo and JOVM mainstays The Money War — married duo Carmen and Dylan Ollivierre — can trace their origins to a road trip that the pair took across the States in 2015. During their trip, they were so inspired that they wrote and recorded a ton of iPhone demos. After a chance meeting with producers Thom Monahan and Arne Frager in a San Francisco dive bar, the duo were convinced of the value of their demos, and began to further flesh out their material, which eventually lead to their full-length debut, 2019’s Home

Since their formation, the duo have managed to attain a national and international profile: They’ve toured with acclaimed Aussie acts Meg MacDope LemonHoly Holy, and Neil Finn across their homeland, and they’ve received an Australian Music Prize nod for Home. They’ve made the rounds of the global festival circuit with stops at SXSW, BIGSOUND and others. And adding to a growing profile, they’ve received airplay on Double JTriple JBBC 6KCRWNPR — and they’ve cracked Stateside college radio charts. They’ve also been covered by Rolling Stone AustraliaTone DeafPile Rats, and theMusic.

The Olliverres have been rather busy over the past 18 months or so: They released their sophomore, full-length Morning People. They signed a global publishing deal with Mirror Music/BMG. They had a baby. And then they released two standalone singles, the Still Corners meets 80s Bruce Springsteen-like “Miles Away” and “Zoom.” Interestingly, during all of that, the Perth-based JOVM mainstays managed to write and record their forthcoming EP Blood, which is slated for a November 5, 2021 release.

The EP’s first single, title track “Blood” is a deliberately crafted, 70s AM rock and Nashville country inspired song prominently featuring Carmen Ollivierre’s achingly plaintive vocals, twinkling keys, gently layered harmonies, a twangy yet soulful electric guitar solo. But at its core the song is centered around the duo’s unerring knack for writing infectious hooks and introspective lyrics that come from deeply lived-in places and experiences. In”Blood,” the song finds its narrator reflecting on the complexities of familial relationships, bloodlines, genetics and dysfunctional patterns, with its narrator, a new parent wondering about the age old debate of nature vs. nature while worrying that they might screw their child up, the way they were screwed up.

“It’s written about the complexity of family relationships and bloodlines, and delves into the nature vs nurture debate I suppose,” The Money War’s Carmen Ollivierre explains in press notes. ” The character in the song has a very tricky relationship with their parents and they’re reflecting on whether they will become like them or learn from them. I think having a kid makes you think about things differently and we’ve been watching our song grow and change, with different characteristics starting to show through from both of us. It’s a topic that both of us have been thinking about a lot”

Continuing their ongoing collaboration with Dan Beard, the recently released video for “Blood” employs a simple concept: We get intimate footage of Carmen and Dylan Ollivierre performing the song with their backing band performing the song in studio.