Tag: indie rock

New Video: Acclaimed Canadian Indie Act Besnard Lakes Release a Surreal and Feverish Video for Slow-Burning “Raindrops”

Deriving their name Besnard Lake in North Central Saskatchewan, the acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated Montreal-based indie rock act The Besnard Lakes — currently, husband and wife duo Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys) and Olga Goreas (vocals, bass), along with Kevin Laing (drums), Richard White (guitar), Sheenah Ko (keys) and Robbie MacArthuer (guitar) — formed back in 2003. And since their formation, the Canadian indie rock sextet have released five albums of atmospheric and textured shoegaze that some critics have described as magisterial and cinematic.

After the release of their fifth album, 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, the members of The Besnard Lakes and Jagjaguwar, their longtime label home, decided it was time to part and go their separate ways. Naturally, that lead to the band to question whether or not it made sense to even continue together. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the members of acclaimed Montreal-based act wound up writing and recording what may arguably be their most uncompromising album of their catalog, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Dispensing with a timeline, the members of The Besnard Lakes took all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Interestingly, some of the songs are old, tracing their origins back to resurrected demos left on the shelf years ago. Others were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek and Goreas Riguad Ranch — with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound. Thematically, the album finds the band contemplating the darkness of dying , the light on the other side, and coming back from the brink: while it touches upon the band’s own story, it’s also remembrance of dear loved ones — particularly Lasek’s father, who died last year. (On vinyl, the album will be a four-side double LP: Side 1 is titled “Near Death.” Side 2 is titled “Death.” Side 3 is titled “After Death.” and Side 4 is titled “Life.”)

From what Lasek observed of his father’s experience, being on one’s deathbed may be the most intense psychedelic trip of anyone’s life: at one point, Lasek’s father surfaced from a morphine-induced dream, talking about how he saw a “window” on his blanket, with “a carpenter inside of it, making objects.” Interestingly, as I read that, I thought of what were Steve Jobs’ last words before dying — him looking past his loved ones and simply saying repeatedly “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” And as a result that surreal and ethereal quality pervades the album’s sound and aesthetic.

“Raindrops,” the album’s first single is a slow-burning song and patient song with a painterly-like attention to graduation and texture, centered around shimmering reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook. Along with the release of The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warning’s cinematic first single, the band announced that the album is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Fat Cat Records here in the States and through Flemish Eye in their native Canada. Additionally, they released a surreal, fever-dream of a video directed by Joseph Yarrmush.

“This song and video details a psychedelic flight through the mind while deep in an altered state,” The Besnard Lakes explain. “The song lyrically references the death of Mark Hollis from Talk Talk (‘Garden of Eden spirited’) and also describes the idea of evolution determining the story of the Garden of Eden.

New Video: Brazil’s WRY Releases a Trippy Visual for Anthemic Album Single “Travel”

With the release of five full-length albums, 1998’s Direct, 2000’s Heart Experience, 2007’s Flames in the Head, 2009’s She Science and 2018’s Indie Rock Hits, the Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil-based rock quartet WRY — Mario Bross (vocals, guitar). Luciano Marcello (guitar), Ítalo Ribero (drums) and William Leonotti (bass) — have developed a sound that’s heavily influenced by Brit Pop. shoegaze and post-punk, paired with lyrics written and sung in English and Portuguese.

The members of the Sorocaba, São Paulo-based quartet also happen to be integral members of Brazil’s indie rock scene: at home, they own a popular rock club, which has frequently hosted internationally acclaimed Brazilian psych rock act, labelmates and JOVM mainstays Boogarins — and as a band, they spent several years in London, successful touring across the UK and Continental Europe, eventually making their rounds on the European festival circuit, with stops at the likes of Barcelona’s Primavera Sound.

Slated for an October 30, 2020 release through OAR, the aforementioned label home of Boogarins, WRY’s 10-song, sixth album Noites Infinitas explores themes of anxiety, despair and unconventional paths towards hope while living in our increasingly divisive world.

WRY has released three singles off their soon-to-be released sixth album, including the album’s first single, “Travel.” Centered around enormous, feedback and pedal effected guitar riffs, thunderous and propulsive drumming, a sinuous bass line and rousingly anthemic hooks “Travel” is a breakneck and energetic burst that’s one part shoegaze, one part Brit pop. Fittingly, the energetic song is paired with an upbeat and positive message about accepting yourself completely, having the strength to face the obstacles thrown in your path — and having the bravery to go on your own, unusual path.

Directed by Ricardo Camargo, the recently released video for “Travel” features WRY’s frontman in front of a series of psychedelic and kaleidoscopic backdrops, and a weird yet trippy ring light/shower head-like contraption and a plastic covering. Adding to the trippy nature of the video, is that it features series of rapid-fire cuts and edits.

New Video: Montreal’s Sébastien Lacombe’s Surreal Quest to Find His Old Hoopty

Sebastien Lacombe is a Montreal-born and-based bilingual singer/songwriter. And over the past decade, Lamcome has released four critically applauded solo albums, which he has supported with extensive touring across Canada, the States and Europe. 2005’s debut album Comme au Cinéma began a run of remarkable commercial and critical success — with the album being released to praise, while featuring three top 10 BDS radio hits.

The following year, Lacombe was selected as one of seven top French-Canadian artists to appear on CBC’s Sacré Talent. Building upon a growing profile, Lacombe’s sophomore album Impressions Humaines featured his fourth top-ten hit, which led to sets at a number of the province’s most prestos festivals, including Les Francofoiles de Montreal — and to a bevy of award nominations.

2011 proved to be a definitive and transformative turning point for the Montreal-born and-based singer/songwriter both personally and artistically: he spent the year living in Senegal, discovering and immersing himself in a new cultural landscape. He was touched by the people he met and their stories — and inspired by the griots he would catch perform. By the time, he returned back to Montreal, Lacombe had a different way of seeing music and life, which wound up inspiring his third album, 2012’s Territoires. The album’s material showcased a new sound and approach through the incorporation of traditional African instruments like the xalam paired with lap steel and acoustic guitar. Additionally, the album featured a guest spot from Dakar, Senegal’s Oumar Sall.

Territoires was released to critical praise and was supported with touring across Quebec, France, Switzerland and a stop in Africa for 2012’s Sommet de la Francophonie. The album’s material also received airplay from French CBC. Capping off a big year, the album received a Critic’s Choice nod from La Presse — and from Le Devoir for his set at 2013’s Francofoiles de Montreal.

Coincidentally, Lacombe was in the middle of a French tour when the shocking and appalling terrorist attacks across Paris and Saint Denis, which also included the infamous attack at The Bataclan in which 90 concertgoers were killed. Lacombe returned home with the desire to write new songs that communicated what he believed was a much-needed message of resilience and unity. And as a result, his fourth album, 2016’s Nous serons des milliers is a response to the increasing violence and divineness that he believed was destroying humanity.

Having grown up in an anglophone neighborhood with francophone parents, Lacombe was naturally drawn to writing and singing in French and English — and while he was initially releasing material in French, he was quietly working on material in English. Interestingly, that same year, he was cast as Pink in the musical The Wall Live Extravaganza. After spending two years in the role, performing in over 100 shows across Canada and the States, Lacombe was at a crossroads both personally and professionally, which led to the beginninig of a collaboration with Erik West Millette, who has worked with West Trainz and Dr. John.

Lacombe and Millette worked together on the writing of Lacombe’s fifth album FLY, which was recorded at Studio B-12 in Valcourt, QC and Montreal’s Lobster Tank Studios and released earlier this year. The album’s material thematically focuses on the universal ideal of freedom: the freedom to truly be your entire self, the freedom to try to achieve your wildest dreams — while overcoming the sturm und drang and sorrows of our lives to the best of your abilities and lastly, of renewal and hope once you’ve gone through the wringer. The album’s material also touches upon love, longing and the desire for independence.

“My Thousand Dollar Car,” FLY’s second and latest single is an anthemic track, centered around jangling electric guitar, strummed acoustic guitar, shimmering lap steel, a propulsive rhythm and an alternating quiet-loud-quiet song structure. But much like Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” “My Thousand Dollar Car” is imbued with the aching nostalgia of a seemingly simple past that you can never get back. In the case of “My Thousand Dollar Car,” Lacombe’s narrator tells a tale of trying to find his first car, a beat up ol’ hoopty that brought him a sense of freedom, joy — and memorable experiences.

Directed by Alejandro Cadilla Alvares, who has worked on CBC’s Offkilter and ARTE’s Disportrait, the recently released video was shot in the Montreal area over this past summer. The video follows Lacombe on a lengthy and surrealistic quest across town to find his shitty, beat up ol’ rust bucket. And when he does, it’s like having reunion with a dear old friend.

Gaspard Eden is a restlessly creative, emerging Quebec City-based singer/songwriter and musician. Eden’s full-length debut Soft Power is slated for release later this year through Coyote Records, and the album’s material reportedly finds the emerging Quebec-based singer/songwriter and musician pushing his sound in a completely new direction from his previously released work while evoking a wide ranger of emotions through melodic soundscapes and poetic lyricism. 

So far, I’ve written about two of Soft Power‘s singles: the brooding, jangle pop track “Pancakes,” a track centered around Eden’s plaintive falsetto and an achingly wistful nostalgia for a seemingly simpler past — and the ethereal, Soft to the touch-era Jef Barbara-like “Automatic Dreams,” which featured Eden’s longtime friend, singer/songwriter Gabrielle Shonk

“Baby Black Hole,” the album’s third and latest single is a slow-burning, Quiet Storm-like R&B take on shimmering indie rock, centered around Eden’s achingly tender vocals that’s a dorky come-on to an object of desire, full of goofy science fiction references. There’s also a bit of mournful clarinet, which adds to the song’s mischievous yet sultry vibe.

Nashville-based melodic, heavy duo Friendship Commanders — Buick Audra (vocals, guitar) and Jerry Roe (drums, bass) — have released two albums and an EP so far, 2016’s Dave, 2018’s Steve Albini-produced Bill and the Hold On To Yourself EP, which was released earlier this year.

Recorded with mix engineer Kurt Ballou, Hold On To Yourself EP finds the band crafting their heaviest batch of material to date while being a sonic and stylistic departure — with the EP’s material introducing a layered, studio polish instead of the raw, mostly lived-tracked approach of their previously released material. Thematically, the EP found the band examining the world around them, including their part in the world’s massive problems and potential solutions, and challenging the patriarchy while also delving deep and discussing being an adult, who has survived childhood trauma. Interestingly, enough the EP’s title essentially summarizes Audra’s message to other survivors — and has been a personal mantra for the Friendship Commanders’ frontperson; she has a habit of writing the phrase “hold on to yourself” every morning as a reminder. “This has been especially true during times of dealing with unsafe family members, abusers, or unwell people,” Audra says in press notes. “With a past of self-abandonment, holding on to myself has to be a focus in everything I do. It’s a good reminder and I always need it. It just seemed like the right set of words for this record.”

“Stonechild”/”Your Reign Is Over” is the first bit of new material since the release of Hod On To Yourself and continues their ongoing collaboration with the mixing and engineering team of Kurt Bailou and Brad Boatright. And although there is a sort of sonic through-line between HOTY and the new singles — with all of the material centered around sludgy power chords, thunderous drumming and rousingly anthemic, mosh pit friendly hooks. However, the new singles find the band moving into new emotional and thematic territory while tackling even tougher subjects. “Stonechild” manages to the outrage over injustice and the ache of unjust loss while “Your Reign Is Over” expresses frustration and a desire to get out there, snatch control from the old bastards fucking things up and making it a better world — right now.

“Stonechild” was written about the circumstances of Stonechild Cheifstick’s death last July 3rd. Chiefstci was a 39 year-old, Chippewa Cree man, who was part of the Suqamish Tribal community and father of five, who was killed by a white police officer. “Through a friend of mine who lives on the Port Madison Reservation, I connected to articles in local publications about his death, all of which I read with horror,” Audra says in press notes. “My brain kept going back to facts of the story: He was murdered by a white police officer . . . At the location where the community was gathered to enjoy the 3rd of July fireworks, at a waterfront park . . . Families with kids were everywhere and witnessed his death . . . And they still held the fireworks after he died. The song was written to acknowledge a life, question a death, and stand in solidarity with a community that has lost someone. We, alongside the people who knew him, demand justice for Stonechild. With this song, I am also asking questions to all of us about how we’re actually moving through this world, injustice all around us, systemic racism normalized and ignored. Are we helping, or are we hurting?”

“Stonechild” also features s spoken word section txʷəlšucid, co-written by Casey Fowler, who is a member of the Suquamish people; Zalmai Zahir ʔəswəli, who is part of the Puyallup; and Chris Duenas, who’s also part of the Puyallap people. Fowler recites the section in Lushootseed, and does on on behalf of Chiefstick’s family.

“Your Reign Is Over” encapsulates the general frustration and despair most of has have felt so deep this past year. We’ve had a pandemic that has rampaged communities, economies and entire industries with millions here in the States out of work and in danger of losing their homes. There’s the continued struggle for racial justice and gender equality, which have been on the forefront of the country’s consciousness during a summer of protest and unrest. There has been continued environmental calamities — and we’re in the middle of arguably the most consequential presidential election in the past 150 years. We’ve seen the destruction of people and the environment; the hatred and strife. If you’re like me — or like the band — you’re exhausted and fed up. And as a result the song calls out the greedy, the selfish, the destruction, demanding that they get out of the way for new voices, new ways of doing things, new thinking and new systems.

On June 19, 2020, the Tennessee legislate voted to pass the most restrictive abortion ban in the country. The vote took place in the middle of night — without the public knowing. As it turns out, Buick was in the state capitol building for the vote. “As an activist who advocates for bodily autonomy, the fact that our largely white and male Republican super-majority legislature took the extra steps to hinder the rights of so many – the middle of such a vulnerable time – really blew my last fuse,” Buick says. “There’s no way to dress that action up as anything but deliberately harmful. Such action is rooted in racism, classism, and sexism There’s some junk science in there, too. I haven’t written much this year, but I have written this work to say that this chapter is over. We can no longer allow any of the above to go on. This election needs to flip the state of Tennessee, and also the presidency.”

With the release of their debut EP, 2016’s More Escher and Random Notes, the rising Helsinki, Finland-based indie act The Holy — Eetu Henrik Iivari (vocals, guitar), Pyry Peltonen (guitar), Laura Kangasniemi (bass), Mikko Maijala (drums) and Eero Jääskeläinen (drums) quickly emerged into the Nordic music scene, quickly developing a reputation for an enormous and rousingly anthemic sound that has drawn comparisons to Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel with Krautrock influences.

Initially cutting their teeth in Helsinki’s small venue circuit, the members of The Holy have taken an explosive and passionate live show to their homeland’s national festival circuit, playing sets at Flow FestivalRuisrockProvinssirock, Iloasarirock and Lost In Music among others. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the members of the Helsinki-based quintet released their full-length debut Daughter last year. The album, which thematically touched upon how the 1990s Finnish economic recession impacted this current generation of its young people was a game-charger for the band, as it the album received praise across both Finland and Europe, eventually garnering a Finnish Grammy (EMMA) Critics’ Choice nomination.

The Holy supported the album with a busy touring schedule across Sweden and the Europe that included the continent’s festival circuit with stops at Eurosonic NooderslagIceland AirwavesReeperbahn Festival, Where Is The Music, JaJaJa Music LondonBerlin, and Vienna. Additionally, while they were touring, German/French TV Arte filmed the band’s set at last year’s Flow Festival in cooperation with Finland’s YLE — and KEXP filmed their Iceland Airwaves set.

Originally scheduled for release this spring and now slated for a November 6, 2020 release through Playground Music, the rising Finnish act’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Mono Freedom is a semi-utopian sci-fi tale, inspired by Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, which explores a number of scenarios of what would happen to Earth if humans were to suddenly disappear. Set in the somewhat distant future on a dying Earth, the planet’s last humans decide to gather their things, build a rocket and travel to the nearest black hole. They know that there is probably nothing out there but it’s one of humanity’s last desperate ideas and last hopes. In the realm of this world, this is generally seen as a positive, not as an absurdly hopeless, dystopian vision.

“During our Daughter tour, I read the science book, The World Without Usby Alan Weisman, and I got inspired and sad at the same time. It seems that humans just took a leap in the evolution progress a million years ago and have been fucking things up since,” The Holy’s Eetu Henrik Iivari explains in press notes. “I started to play with an idea of a space odyssey of the last people on earth, eventually building a rocket and flying into the nearest black hole. And they just don’t make it. They are too dumb to make it. And that’s it. And after a few hundred years, Mother Earth doesn’t even remember it was once occupied by humans.

“And this eventually got me thinking about the Western way of life and the idea of freedom. How one-way, single-minded and boxed-in it is. When you wake up in a modern western city — there is almost nothing you can do that doesn’t rip somebody. It’s late modern capitalism, a jail built on the grounds of believing that you have a choice. And that you make a choice. But most of it is already aimed towards consumerism. We just like to think that we find things by ourselves, but most of it is given. And it’s just so frustrating. To do the right thing from one day to another and navigate in the middle of all this evil around us. 

[But even though the theme is not the lightest in the world, I wanted the album to mirror hope and to be empowering. A friend for people having similar thoughts.”

Earlier this year, the rising Finnish act released a double single, “No Trial In The Dark” and “Twilight Of The Idiots.” “Twilight of the Idiots” is a rousingly anthemic song that immediately brings s A Rush of Blood to the Head-era Coldplay, Peter Gabriel and The Unforgettable Fire  U2 to mind through a combination of earnest emotionality and ambitious songwriting. “No Trial In The Dark” continues in a similar vein but while being much more percussive and cinematic. “I wrote ‘Twilight Of The Idiots,’ ‘Swim,’ ‘The Rocket Song’ and ‘No Trial In The Dark’ very close to each other and we recorded those songs in the same sessions,” Iivari recalls in press notes. “After that I knew what other songs should be on this album and the narrative started to be clear. We followed that path and never turned back.” 

“I Don’t Know,'” Mono Freedom‘s third and latest single continues a run of rousingly anthemic and arena friendly material, centered around deeply earnest songwriting and breakneck yet passionate playing. While sonically, the track brings early U2 to mind — particularly Boy and October — thanks to angular, reverb-drenched guitar chords, forceful and dramatic drumming and Ivari’s plaintive vocals, the song comes from a deeply personal and lived-in place:

“This song is basically about being bipolar. At least on some level. I have no diagnosis and I might not be the right person to talk about it, ” Ivari says “but I’ve been struggling the most part of my life with heavy mania vs. depression and it has taken a huge toll on a lot of things. I have found a way to live with it and function in society nowadays, but it still takes a lot of work every day. It also gives a lot though, being in the deep end of mania is like a drug from the future and I do get a lot of things done. But it’s also super hard to keep that level and it brings you down really really low when you just can’t. 

“I learned from a silly love themed tv show that it’s good to talk about it. To give the people around you some knowledge about it and tools to work with you. So I ended up writing this song and tried to open it slowly. The tune is pretty uplifting and I wanted it to be light and kind of funny, because the last thing I want is to add a shadow of darkness and depression over the matter and keep repeating the pattern of adding shame on this kind of stuff. That it is some mystic dark depressive thing etc. It is just a thing. We all have our things.”

New Video: Rising Aussie Act Telescreen Releases a Bold and Striking Visual for Anthemic “Moving On”

Last year was a breakthrough year for the rising, Melbourne, Australia-based indie rock act Telescreen — Nic Schwarz, Dan Carolan, Ali Ward, Matt Martin and Ollie McIntyre — with EP title track “Growing Pains” getting regular rotation on Triple J Unearthed and community radio across the country. “Growing Pains” was featured on British blog Scientists of Sound before landing at #1 on the global Hype Machine charts. And as a result, the track garnered 15,000 SoundCloud streams within a few days. The rising Aussie act also released their first music video for EP track “In Mind,” which received airplay on rage, a national music video show — and was featured on popular music site ClippedTV.

Adding to a growing profile, the band opened for for the likes of Mosquito Coast, STUMPS, DIET., Francesca Gonzales, Creature Fear and The Attics, before eventually selling out their biggest headlining shows. And they played some of their first festival sets in the history. Interestingly, with the band’s rapidly growing profile, the band’s frontman Nic Schwarz left his full-time job to pursue music full-time. Schwarz has spent most of this past year cowriting with producers and artists across Australia through video conferencing during pandemic-related shutdowns and in-person when he could.

Of course, much like countless other bands across the globe, the members of Telescreen had hopes of making big moves this year, but they all managed to buckle down to write new material, including their latest single “Moving On.” Officially, serving as the follow-up to their attention grabbing debut EP, “Moving On” is centered around a rousingly anthemic, shout-along worthy hook, angular guitar blasts, staccato hi-hat and a slick, radio friendly production. However, under the studio polish, the song expresses the anger, frustration, shock and dismay over a disconnected and failing social order — but through the prism of a romantic relationship gone wrong.

“We, as a group, felt as though there was this real disconnect between the actions of Australia’s leaders and the true needs of those affected by the fires,” the band’s frontman Nic Schwarz says in press notes. “‘Moving On’ addresses our politicians’ disregard for public opinion, along with their seemingly growing inaction and detachment from issues in order to protect their self-interests.”

Earlier this year, the members of Telescreen put together a benefit show with fellow rising Melbourne acts Feelds and El Tee to raise much-needed funds for bushfire relief. And although, the year has been a loss, they did receive some incredibly good news: they won this year’s Triple J Unearthed NIDA Competition, in which the winner would be provided an opportunity to work with a team of students from the National Institute of Dramatic Art to create a music video. (Full credits are below, if you’re curious. Plus, we should try to always shout out talented young people, right?)

Shot with pandemic-related restrictions and limitations, the entire creative team came up with a bold and striking visual featuring a diverse cast of models/actors at a photoshoot. Initially forced to conform through wearing all black outfits. But as the video progresses, the actors strike back out of frustration and annoyance, eventually letting their freak flags — and their true selves proudly fly.

Born to Welsh and Polish parents in Stoke-On-Trent, the rising British singer/songwriter and guitarist Benjamin Belinska relocated to Newcastle when he turned 17. He didn’t settle in Newcastle for very long; eventually he drifted around Europe, spending stints in Glasgow, Berlin, and Paris, supporting himself through a series of menial jobs, ranging from museum cleaner to estate gardener. During that period. he wrote music on borrowed guitars and stolen notebooks, garnering praise from the French press and the BBC along the way.

While in Paris, Belinska met E.A.R. and the duo started the band Paris, Texas, which released two Kramer-produced albums before deciding to relocate to Newcastle together. Two things happened to Belinksa, which may have altered the course of his life:

“Rushing to get a connection, I left a suitcase in York station. It was never recovered. Most of the early songs disappeared,” Belinska says in press notes. “Some months later, I was walking from home work and was randomly assaulted by a gang of four in broad daylight. During the recovery, I decided to stop drifting once and for all. As a first gesture, I would record a new album.”

The new album Belinska recorded, his solo, full-length debut Lost Illusions was released earlier this year, and the album’s first single, the Palace Winter-like “Young in Baltimore” reveals a songwriter, who can pair breezy and shimmering radio friendly soft rock, earnest, lived-in songwriting and an unerring knack for crafting an infectious, pop-leaning hook. But underneath the song’s breezy radio friendliness, is an achingly bittersweet lament evoking the inevitable and unstoppable passage of time, of nostalgia for seemingly simpler times, the uneasy compromises that every adult has to make and live with, the forced upon conformity to make a living and survive.

“The song is about regret, nostalgia and conformity,” Belinska said in an email. “It was inspired by Robert Frank’s photo-book The Americans and The Magnetic Fields. I played and recorded it myself and it was mixed and mastered by Giles Barrett and Simon Trought at Soup Studio, London.

With the release of 2018’s sophomore album Nowadays, the Copenhagen, Denmark-based pop duo and JOVM mainstays  Palace Winter — Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born, Copenhagen-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager — built upon a rapidly growing profile regionally and internationally, with the album’s material finding the duo expanding upon the sound and songwriting approach that won them praise: breezy and melodic, radio friendly pop with heavy thematic concerns. The album’s material touched upon adulthood and the loss of innocence; the accompanying tough and sobering lessons of life as you get older; the freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their life and destiny and so on. But it was also unpinned by profound grief of loss. Life, after all is about recognizing that immense heartbreak and devastating loss are part of the price of admission, and that somehow you have to figure out a way to move forward.

Palace Winter’s highly anticipated, third album . . . Keep Dreaming, Buddy is slated for an October 23, 2020 release through Tambourhinoceros Records, and unlike their previously released material, . . .Keep Dreaming, Buddy‘s material was written through a long distance correspondence as the band’s Coleman was residing in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. “Caspar was sending me these synth hooks and drum loops from Denmark, so I started coming up with melodies and lyrical ideas to record into my phone,” Coleman says of the writing sessions. While Coleman’s lyrics were inspired by Tenerife’s unique landscape, they also draw metaphorical parallels between Mt. Teide, a dormant volcano, which also is one of Spain’s tallest peaks, and the looming fear of a relationship disintegrating, Hesselager’s instrumental parts were inspired by Copenhagen’s landscape. And as a result, the album’s material is literally a tale of two cities and two completely different emotional states.

Over the past handful of months, I’ve written about three of the album’s previously released singles:

  • Top of the Hill,” was a great example of the album’s overall tale of two cities and two completely different emotional states. Featuring shimmering and icy synths, thumping beats and an enormous, arena rock friendly hook paired with Coleman’s volcanic imagery-based lyrics, the song captures the bubbling dissatisfaction, boredom, frustration and distrust of a relationship about to boil over and explode.
  • Won’t Be Long,” . . . .Keep Dreaming Buddy‘s second single was an expansive song that featured elements of arena rock, glam rock and synth pop, complete with a rousingly anthemic hook, a crunchy power chord-driven riff, shimmering synth arpeggios and strummed guitar. But interestingly enough, the song is actually deceptively and ironically upbeat as it tackles the anxiety of anticipatory grief, as it focuses on a narrator, who is preparing for the inevitable loss of a dear, loved one. Loss and despair are always around the corner, indeed.
  • Deeper End,” the album’s third single was a decidedly genre-defying affair that found the duo pushing their sound in a new direction without changing the essentially elements of the sound that has won them attention internationally. Featuring an infectious hook, shimmering synth arpeggios and strummed guitar, the breezy song is one part synth pop. one part 70s AM rock, one part country — but while centered around an unusual juxtaposition: the song as the band’s Carl Coleman explains is “a story about a bad trip at a weird house party I went to with my sister.” Granddaddy’Jason Lytle contributes a guest verse to the song, a verse in which his character dispenses harsh yet very trippy truths to the song’s hallucinating and anxious narrator.

“Richard (Says Yes)” . . . .Keep Dreaming Buddy‘s fourth and latest single is a bit of a playful, thematic left turn that finds the duo simply wanting to write a big, upbeat, party anthem centered around an expansive song structure, featuring alternating breakneck loud sections and quieter, completive section. While continuing a run of singles that find the band pushing their sound in a new direction — in this case, a sort of proggy take on their breezy yet melancholy pop — the new single further cements their unerring knack for crafting rousingly anthemic hooks. Much like the album’s previously released singles, “Richard (Says Yes) finds the members of Palace Winter collaborating with Penny Police‘s Marie Fjeldsted and saxophonist Ned Ferm.

Interestingly, the song was inspired by a documentary on Jimi Hendrix, which featured the equally legendary and outrageous Little Richard (whom Hendrix, once played for in the early days of his career). “Little Richard came on and we were both just floored by how f***in’ alive and funny and inspiring he was. So, he kind of became this little team mascot for us. Like, just do it ALL! ‘Put some sugar on it, man! MORE!’ So this song is exactly that. Richard says yes to f***in’ EVERYTHING!” Palace Winter’s Carl Coleman says. It’s a “big colourful banger to fill the canvas.”

Richard (Says Yes)’ has this really extroverted, larger-than-life feeling about it. You can’t bring it down. It’s just a machine that runs over everything. I get these almost synesthesia-like moments when listening to it,” adds the band’s Caspar Hesselager.

New Audio: Lost Horizons Teams Up with John Grant on a Slow-Burning and Brooding Meditation of Time and Loss

With the release of their full-length debut 2017’s Ojaiá, (Spanish for “hopefully” or “God willing”) to critical praise, the members of Lost Horizons — Cocteau Twins’ and Bella Union Records label head Simon Raymonde (bass. guitar, keys, production) and Dif Juz’s Richie Thomas (drums, keys, guitar) — ended a 20+ year hiatus from creating music. “These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world,” Thomas said in press notes at the time. “And this album has given me a lot of hope. To reconnect with music . . . And the hope for another Lost Horizons record!”

The world has gotten even worse. And the possibility of a better world seems — at this moment, at least — increasingly dim. Our political, economic and social systems are in the middle of a slow-burning collapse while entire sections of the world have burned down However, one small portion of Thomas’ hopes have been fulfilled: Raymonde and Thomas will be releasing a new album, In Quiet Moments. Adding to overall sense of doom, fear, heartache and tragedy, as Raymonde and Thomas were about to buckle down and craft the largely improvised instrumental bedrock of the new album’s material, Raymonde’s mother died.

Raymonde threw himself into his work as a way to channel his grief. “The way improvisation works,” he says, “it’s just what’s going on with your body at the time, to let it out.” The duo forged ahead crafting 16 instrumental tracks that they eventually sent to an eclectic array of guest vocalists including Ural Thomas, Penelope Isles’ Jack Wolter, The Hempolics Nubiya Brandon, Tim Smith, Gemma Dunleavy, the innocence mission’s Karen Petts, Horse Thief’s Cameron Neal, Marissa Nadler, Porridge Radio’s Dana Margolin, John Grant, Ballet School’s Rosie Blair, Penelope Isles’ Lily Wolter (as her solo recording project KookieLou) and an impressive list of others. When they sent the instrumental tracks to their then-prospective guest vocalists, Raymonde suggested a guiding theme for their lyrics: “Death and rebirth. Of loved ones, of ideals, at an age when many artists that have inspired us are also dead, and the planet isn’t far behind. But I also said, ‘The most important part is to just do your own thing, and have fun.”

During the writing and recording process, COVID-19 paralyzed and frightened the entire world. And while about half of the album’s lyrics were written in the middle of pandemic-related lockdowns, Raymonde in particular, saw a silver lining: people were slowing down and taking stock of their lives. Having heard a lyric written by the aforementioned Ural Thomas, Raymonde singled out one phrase “in quiet moments” and thought it would be the perfect album title. “It just made sense,” he says. “This moment of contemplation in life is really beautiful.”

While generally centered around loss, the album’s material is more specifically tied to hope — and as a result, the album is more about rebirth than death. “I think it’s more joyous than Ojalá,” Thomas says. “But both albums have a great energy about them.” That shouldn’t be surprising as both Lost Horizons albums find the duo and their various collaborators undulating across a dizzying array of moods and voices. In Quiet Moments’ latest single, the lush “Cordelia.” Centered around atmospheric synths, some gorgeous steel pedal guitar from David Rothon, elegant strings from Fiona Brice, paired with John Grant’s layered and brooding vocals, the song is a painterly (and brooding) meditation on the passing of time, the changing of seasons and of loss — but with the tacit understanding and acceptance of the fact that all things are transient.

“This was one of the last tracks recorded for the album, though it came from the ashes of one the first improv sessions Richie (Thomas) and I had,” Raymonde explains in press notes. “Listening back to what we started with, I jettisoned the drums and most of the guitars but salvaged a small part of it and turned it into something brand new. Then I had the amazing David Rothon, who I had seen play live with Marissa Nadler a few nights before — and long-time collaborator Fiona Brice add pedal steel and strings respectively. Sitting quietly in the studio with our spacey slice of instrumental swirl, I closed my eyes to imagine a voice. While much of his recent work involves synths and crunchy beats, how he magnificently handles cinematic melancholy in his own work, and specifically in the Scott Walker Prom for the BBC, I knew my dear friend John Grant would nail this. I hoped he might enjoy the freedom of creating some melodic magic alongside elegant emotional lyrics. I sent him the piece, aware that he is always so incredibly busy, and tried to keep my expectations low, in case he had to turn it down, but to my utter and continuing delight he said yes and I’ll have to admit to shedding a tear or two when he sent me back the completed vocal a few weeks later.”

John Grant adds, “I really loved doing this track with Simon. I’d had the idea for this song for a long time and when he sent me the instrumental, I immediately thought: ‘CORDELIA’ – so happy to have found such a beautiful home for this track!”

In Quiet Moments is slated for for a two part release through Bella Union. The first part will be released on December 4, 2020. The second part will be released on February 26, 2021 with the physical release of the entire album.