Tag: indie rock

New Audio: French Artist MHUD Releases a Gritty and Brooding, Garage Rock-like Single

Initially beginning his creative career as a painter, the mysterious Strasbourg-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer professionally known as MHUD got into music as a creative outlet relatively recently. And within a very short period of time, the Strasbourg-born, Paris-based artist quickly established genre-defying work that thematically touches upon man’s spiritual, emotional and intellectually split from himself.

MHUD’s full-length debut was released last March, and as you may recall, the album featured the slickly produced, “Cheval de Bataille,” a track that meshed elements of trip hop, electroclash, electro pop and arena rock. The French artist’s latest single, the slow-burning and brooding “Il ne s’évapore pas” further cements his growing reputation for a genre-defying sound and approach — with the song finding MHUD adopting a fuzzy and distorted power chord driven garage rock sound. Unlike his previously released material, “Il ne s’évapore pas” possesses a raw, on-the-fly, improvised vibe, which gives the song a gritty air.

The Tell is a new collaborative project that features:

  • Noah Dickie: The Henderson, NV-based singer/songwriter co-founded Coastwest Unrest back in 2019 with his older brother Josh. The band released a series of albums through their own Reclaim Records with their last album, 2017’s The Crazed Ones found the band sonically creating an uneasy balance between roots Americana and stripped-down punk folk.
  • James McAllister: The much sought-after Los Angeles-based programmer and touring dummer, who has worked with The National, Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver. McAllister has worked with The National’s Aaron Dessner on Taylor Swift‘s last two critically acclaimed albums. He has collaborated with Stevens, Nico Muhly and Bryce Dessner on an album titled Planetarium, which was released through 4AD Records back in 2017. As as a solo artist, McAllister has released material through Justin Vernon’s and Dessner’s label 37d03d. And he has contributed to the soundtracks of a handful of Oscar-nominated films, including The Big Sick, The Two Popes and Call Me By Your Name.

Dickie and McAllister explain that the project’s name is a sort of double entendre, referring to poker players, who are easy to read and the sonic narrative of their musical work, an aural journey from borderline despair to well-being, using music — and of course, it’s creation — to try to heal psychic and physical wounds. The project pairs Dickie’s narrative songwriting and folk roots with McAllister’s buzzing soundscapes. Sonically and aesthetically, the duo manage to reflect live lived in a pandemic.

The duo who have individually worked on a number of critically applauded projects have been friends for many years — and their new collaboration together can trace its origins back to 2018 when they originally started working on a series of songs, which would eventually comprise their full-length debut, slated for release later this year. The duo finished the album this year, recording most of the album’s material themselves in their respective home studios, adding producer Luke Vander Pol for two tracks from his home studio in Burbank.

“Clap Clap” is the duo’s first single — and a bit of a taste of what we should expect from the forthcoming album. Prominently featuring Dickie’s Odelay-era Beck-like delivery, the song is centered around an atmospheric and buzzing soundscape that includes twinkling synths, looping guitars and boom bap-like drumming. What makes the song interesting to me is that it manages to simultaneously be trippy and upbeat. “Musically, James and I created this tension in the song’s verses and pre-chorus with the release coming in the chorus…There’s a way through the trap but we can never go back’… Only by letting go (‘going through the trap’) can we move on.” 

 

Clap Clap” was created specifically by Noah and James to curate a shifting, sonic world of metaphysics and magic that becomes increasingly urgent as it goes along. The lyrics start with a question and ignite a rhythmic journey for the listener. The two hope that the song will break through peoples’ insular cocoons to ultimately bring everyone closer together. Even though many people are still separated and at home in quarantine, they can all connect through music. The Tell strategically used the Zen sound of one hand clap-clapping throughout the new song to evoke music’s power to heal and transport audiences to new places. Noah shares, “It’s hard to describe…but after writing ‘Clap Clap’, especially lyrically, it felt like such a release. Something being let go of… There’s this feel like the song is in full-blown chaos…a darkness…pandemic, George Floyd, a rioting country, political and social upheaval. Describing these things, not in a generic way, but with a personal story to coincide with this underlying buzz of turmoil.

New Video: Saskatoon’s Slow Down Molasses Releases a Hilariously Absurd Visual for “120 Minutes”-like “Street Haunting”

Led by Tyson McShane, the Saskatoon-based indie rock act Slow Down Molasses have developed a reputation for a constantly evolving sound as a result of a series of lineup changes and for an anxious and frenetic live show, which they’ve taken around the world in support of 2016’s 100% Sunshine.

The band’s latest single “Street Haunting” is the first bit of new material from the band since the release of 100% Sunshine and the new single manages to further cement the band’s reputation for an ever-changing sound Featuring angular and propulsive rhythms, explosive power chords, tons of feedback and fuzz and a supple bass line, “Street Haunting” brings 120 Minutes-era MTV to mind — in particular, Pavement and Sonic Youth with some sprinklings of Gang of Four. And as a result, the song is underpinned by a throbbing anxious energy. “Musically, we were excited to capture some the anxious energy of our live show, while still keeping the song very focused,” the band’s Tyson McShane says. “It nicely rides a line between the concise garage pop that some of us love and the feedback drenched chaos that our live shows tend to dwell in.”

The song’s punchily delivered lyrics draw some inspiration from Virgnia Woolf’s essay of the same name. “Lyrically the song ruminates on the casual, but oft-underappreciated beauty of the urban environment and the predictability of a person’s daily tasks,” the band’s McShane explained. “Taking  some inspiration from Virginia Woolf’s essay of the same name and mixing that with the sense of isolated other-ness that comes from living in a city far from the world’s major cultural cities.  A place sometimes overflowing with creative energy, but where it often necessary to remind oneself of the casual brilliance of one’s peers and the places we typically tend to haunt.”

Directed by Aaron Scholz, the recently released video features the band’s members wearing raccoon masks while performing routine human activities, like going through their record collection and shaving and typical raccoon activities, like rooting through garbage, scratching at doors and exploring abandoned, suburban homes. They also manage to play music. The video makes the mundane seem absurd and ridiculous.

New Video: French Act Full Moon Little House Releases a Lysergic Visual for Atmospheric “GAIA”

After spending several years in a number of alternative rock and indie rock bands, French multi-instrumentalist and producer, Kévin Navizet steps out into the limelight as a solo artist, with his solo recording project Full Moon Little House, which specializes in what he describes as alternative indie rock/post rock.

Earlier this year, Navizet released the first part of his full-length debut, a five-song, mini digital album titled June — before releasing the full album later this year. Clocking in at a little over 5:50, Navizet’s sixth Full Moon Little House single “GAIA” is a slow-burning track feauring layers of jangling, shimmering and pedal effected guitars, towering feedback and rolling drumming that slowly builds up in intensity before gently fading out. The song’s patient, painterly quality reminds me quite a bit of Mogwai, Remember Remember and others while being remarkably cinematic.

Navizet’s gorgeous self-directed and self- made video features animation of translucent jellyfish seemingly dancing to the song in the deepest darks of the ocean. Through doubling and tripling the jellyfish, the video takes on a hallucinogenic and kaleidoscopic vibe.

New Video: Ben Rice Longs for The Old New York in “Everything Changes”

Ben Rice is an accomplished singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer and owner of Brooklyn-based DeGraw Sound. As a producer and session guitarist, Rice has worked with the likes of Norah Jones, Jonas Brothers, Valerie June, Fletcher and The Skins. As a guitarist, Rice has played in couple of indie rock projects that signed with Warner Music Group and toured internationally with Arctic Monkeys, Band of Skulls, The Bravery and Brendan Benson.

Rice’s self-produced, self-engineered and self-mixed, full-length debut Future Pretend was written and recorded at his DeGraw Studio during the terrifying and deadly first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sociopolitical upheaval of that year. The album which features contributions from the likes of producer Gian Stone, who has worked with Justin Bieber and Maroon 5; Norah Jones’ and Mavis Staples’ Pete Remm (keys); The Autumn Defense’s and Norah Jones’ Greg Wieczorek (drums); Raffaella’s and Leyla Blue’s Charlie Culbert (drums, production) and Eighty Ninety’s Abner James and Harper James is a personal and artistic reset for Rice, who saw Future Pretend’s creative process as an opportunity to process seismic life changes and connect with our tumultuous present. Featuring nine reflective songs that thematically finds Rice offering intimate and personal ruminations on culture, our society and personal evolution. Sonically, the album finds the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, producer and engineer embracing what he dubs “big city Americana,” which isn’t really about cowboy shirts, boots and twangy guitars but about yearning for a halcyon days.

Future Perfect’s latest single, the Damn the Torpedoes-era Tom Petty-like “Everything Changes” is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, twangy guitars an anthemic hook and the sort of Romantic yearning for the past that New Yorkers are known for. The song finds Rice’s narrator lamenting about the passing of time and the inevitability of aging while shouting out beloved places and a long lost innocence. Certainly, as a 40 something, who finds his city phasing him out while losing the places I loved, the song hits me in a deeply personal and familiar place. As James Murphy once sardonically yet wisely sung “New York, I love you but you’re bringing me down . . .”

“I wrote ‘Everything Changes’about watching the city I grew up in change and realIzing that every generation of New Yorkers has probably experienced something similar,” Rice explains. “The things that to me feel like authentic aspects of the city that are now slipping away might have felt like the strange and new things that ushered in change to previous generations.”

Directed by Abner James, the recently released video for “Everything Changes” is split between footage of Rice and his backing band performing the song in a backlit studio and James Spenser Saunders, who plays a young New Yorker, walking the streets of the Lower East Side and stopping at some of the places Rice references in the song. Shot during the pandemic, the video captures New York at its eeriest with beloved bars, clubs and eateries closed or barely opened. The video captures a city going through some incredibly unforeseen and unimaginable changes, the seemingly unending sense of unease and uncertainty of our world and a palpable loss of innocence.

New VIdeo: Paris’ Fleur bleu.e Releases a Lo-Fi and Trippy Visual for Shimmering “STOLT 89”

Deriving their name from a French expression that gently mocks sappy lovers, the Paris-based indie rock duo Fleur bleu.e — Delphine and Vladimir — features two accomplished musicians, who have been performing and writing music since they were both children: Vladimir was a guitarist in French garage rock band Brats, an act that recorded and released a Yarol Popouard-produced album that was supported with touring across France with BB Brunes. Delphine began playing cello in classical orchestras before learning guitar and playing at alternative festivals across Paris with her first band Le Studio Jaune.

When the duo met in 2019, they bonded over a mutual love of The Smiths, Beach House, Françoise Hardy and Elli et Jacno among others, and a desire to craft music that was emotionally ambiguous while being fueled by their teenage myths. Seemingly influenced by dramas and nightmares, their artistic vision is to go beyond the prism of the gender binary and call upon the listener to express their fragility, celebrating one’s inner world and the beauty in imperfections.

They released their critically applauded single “Horizon” late last year and building upon a buzz worthy profile in their native France, the duo released their Ben Etter-produced second single “STOLT 89” earlier this month. Centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive yet simple backbeat and Delphine’s gorgeous vocals, the song sonically — to my ears, at least — brings Bloom-era Beach House to mind while being an emotionally ambiguous feminist manifesto. 

The recently released video for “STOLT 89” employs a decidedly DIY aesthetic that features the duo goofing off in front of a green screen — and throughout, the video has a blown-out, fuzzy quality reminiscent of public access TV

New Video: Art d’Ecco Releases a Stylish and Noir-ish Visual for Anthemic “Desires”

The mysterious and enigmatic British Columbia-based singer/songwriter now known as Art d’Ecco is a grizzled Vancouver music scene vet, who once played in a band with acclaimed producer and ACTORS frontman Jason Corbett; but in 2018 he emerged as a dark bobbed hair wearing, androgynous and charismatic glam rocker with the release of that year’s critically applauded, full-length debut Trespasser. 

Since the release of Trespasser, the Canadian art rocker has played a live session for Seattle’s KEXP and played more than 75 clubs and music festivals across North America. Last spring, d’Ecco opened for acclaimed UK-based psych rock act Temples right before the pandemic struck. “Trespasser was the start of a two-year ride taking me to all sorts of places I’d never been to,” the acclaimed British Columbia-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Seeing how different cultures interact with entertainment was the genesis for In Standard Definition. A lot of this record was actually written on the road late at night in motel rooms – with the flickering light of a television in the background.”

Slated for an April 23, 2021 release through  Paper Bag Records, the Colin Stewart-produced In Standard Definition was recorded on two-inch tape with a handpicked, rotating cast of musicians that featured jazz and blues-trained horn players, Victoria Symphony Orchestra string players, soul singers and his backing band on a 50 year old console at The Hive. Sonically, the album will reportedly find the acclaimed Canadian art rocker further establishing a sound that some critics have described as neo-glam. But interestingly enough, the album’s overall sound and aesthetic pushes the boundaries of glam rock, as it draws draws from a diverse and eclectic array of influences including elements of 50s pop, psychedelia, Velvet Underground-like art rock, Grimes-inspired electronics, Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and Brian Eno among others. “I’m obsessed with tape, film, and sounds of yesteryear, so recording could only be analogue – in standard definition – the way entertainment was once created,” d’Ecco explains. “I wanted to go back in time, exist in a different era and breathe my creativity through it.”

Thematically, the album holds up a mirror to pop culture and explores our obsessions with entertainment and celebrity. “No matter where you live or what language you speak, there’s an entertainment god for you,” d’Ecco explains in press notes. “Whether on TV or writing the books you read, it’s an odd sense of purpose we allocate to these humans whose talent is in distracting us from the doldrums of daily life. We’re constantly searching for something… glued to our phones… consuming various forms of entertainment. We feel less close with each other, and closer to the strangers who make us feel good.”

So far, throughout the year I’ve written about three of In Standard Definition‘s previously released singles: 

“TV God,” a synthesis of ’77 punk, Ziggie Stardust-era Bowie and Pleasure Principle-era Gary Numan, centered around anthemic hooks, twinkling piano stabs, punchily delivered lyrics, soulful backing vocals, propulsive bass lines, a scorching guitar solo and squiggling synths. 
“Head Rush” an infectious boogie that owes a sonic debt to Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, complete with an enormous horn line and glistening synths. 
“I Am The Dance Floor,” a shimmering and strutting disco take on glam rock that may remind some of Bay City Rollers “Saturday Night,” Echoes-era The Rapture and In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy. 

In Standard Definition’s latest single “Desires” is a jangling, densely layered, glam rock anthem centered around rousingly anthemic hooks, blasts of twinkling synth arpeggios, soulful horn blasts, an angular bass line, strummed rhythm guitar and shimmering guitar solos and punchily delivered vocals. Sonically, the song is a slick synthesis of Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, Gary Numan and The Cars — all while being carefully crafted. “A tale born inside the dark underbelly of old Hollywood, then repackaged and reimagined as a rock and roll tragedy,” d’Ecco explains. “’Desires’ is about the entertainer at the end of their career — soon to be phased out by the next wave of rising talent, and shifting audience tastes. For the old guard, this spectre of change is a constant existential threat that will challenge their ability to keep up with the times and to remain relevant in this brutal industry of show business.”

Directed and edited by Brandon William Fletcher, the recently released video for “Desires” is a stylistically shot, noir-is black and white visual that features d’Ecco and his backing band performing the song — but underneath the stylish surface, there’s this sense of an artist fearful of being phased out by an indifferent and bored audience and industry. Certainly, as you get older in an industry that often values beauty and youth before wisdom and experience, those fears become increasingly real — and the desire to be relevant more desperate.

Deriving their name from a French expression that gently mocks sappy lovers, the Paris-based indie rock duo Fleur bleu.e — Delphine and Vladimir — features two accomplished musicians, who have been performing and writing music since they were both children: Vladimir was a guitarist in French garage rock band Brats, an act that recorded and released a Yarol Popouard-produced album that was supported with touring across France with BB Brunes. Delphine began playing cello in classical orchestras before learning guitar and playing at alternative festivals across Paris with her first band Le Studio Jaune.

When the duo met in 2019, they bonded over a mutual love of The Smiths, Beach House, Françoise Hardy and Elli et Jacno among others, and a desire to craft music that was emotionally ambiguous while being fueled by their teenage myths. Seemingly influenced by dramas and nightmares, their artistic vision is to go beyond the prism of the gender binary and call upon the listener to express their fragility, celebrating one’s inner world and the beauty in imperfections.

They released their critically applauded single “Horizon” late last year and building upon a buzz worthy profile in their native France, the duo released their Ben Etter-produced second single earlier this month. Centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive yet simple backbeat and Delphine’s gorgeous vocals, the song sonically — to my ears, at least — brings Bloom-era Beach House to mind while being an emotionally ambiguous feminist manifesto.

After stints in bands like Kite Flying Society, Saving Twilight, The Weak Ends and The Wonderers throughout the early 2000s, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Geannie Friedman initially founded Semihelix in Austin, back in 2012 as a solo recording project in which she used drum beats, keyboards for bass lines while accompanying her vocals with guitar. After several lineup changes, the band eventually settled on their current lineup: Friedman (vocals, guitar), Valdemar Barrrera (drums) and Kevin Martin (bass).

Influenced by My Bloody Valentine, The Kinks, Black Tambourine, Sebadoh, The Pixies and Sonic Youth, the Austin-based act have established and cemented a sound that’s one part dream pop, one part 90s psych fuzz and delay with melodic yet loud sounds. The trio’s latest single “New Destination” finds the band crafting a song that to my ears, sounds indebted to New Zealand jangle pop, Katy Goodman’s work with La Sera and acts like Seapony, complete with an infectious and rousingly anthemic hook. But just underneath the sunny vibes, the song tells a tale of a narrator discovering the resilience she’ll need for the slings and arrows of the rest of her life.

“The catalyst behind the idea for this song came from a place where I felt ostracized and bullied in my hometown,” Semihelix’s Geannie Friedman explains. “I wrote about how moving and starting new would help to heal from many experiences of feeling like an outsider.
 
“Also, having been in relationships with others that weren’t healthy, it was a time for me to learn how to be happy on my own without being dependent on a relationship for happiness. Although I wrote this song over a decade ago when I was in my 20s, it’s a song that I relate to for many stages in my life, where I’m leaving behind and shedding the old, and renewing into someone stronger and resilient.”

 

New Video: Montreal-based Duo Jitensha Release a Playful Visual for Breezy Yet Existential New Single

Deriving their name from the Japanese word for bicycle, the rising Montreal-based husband-wife indie rock/indie pop duo Jitensha — multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Erin Rose Hubbard and David Martinez — can trace their the origins of their romantic relationship and their creative collaboration to how the duo initially met: avid bicyclists, who were both studying Japanese at the time.  “Jitensha just really seemed to fit us and since then has served as our life motto … the direction you choose, and the energy you put in, determines where you end up,” the duo explain in press notes.”

The Montreal-based duo’s latest single “Sojourn” seemingly draws thematic influence from a famous Albert Einstein quote: “Each of us is here for a brief sojourn for what purpose, he knows not, though he sometimes senses it.” Centered around shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths, propulsive drumming, an infectious and summery groove and the duo’s dueling boy-girl harmonizing, “Sojourn” is deceptively infectious and breezy song that is part dream pop, part indie pop, part indie rock. The hook-driven song finds the duo lyrically asking the existential questions that have given many of us anxiety and countless sleepless nights: Why are we here? What’s the purpose of this? What gives any of this meaning? What if the universe is indifferent to us? What happens to us after we die? The song’s hook “Hey ça va bien aller” (It’s going to be okay) is a partially ironic and partially earnest play on the sunny slogan used in Montreal during the pandemic.

As the rising Montreal-based duo explain, the song is inspired by the tragic deaths of a newlywed couple that Hubbard and Martinez had been friends with: “Friends of ours, a newly wedded couple, died in a motorcycle accident. They had been so young and so in love, full of smiles, laughter and gumption. They both lived life to the fullest and we thought the best way to honour and remember them is to try and do the same.” The duo add “”This single is the beginning of a new sound for Jitensha. We are delving further into the contemplative, and into the misty space between optimism and realism, where things are often darker but can be clearer.”

Directed by Richard and Stephanie Bastarache, the recently released video for “Sojourn” features the married duo wearing all white playing with contrast, shadows and color, honing in on the juxtaposition between the song’s breezy arrangement and existential-leaning lyrics. Towards the end of the video, the duo have on bright, vibrantly colored clothing, which may suggest that things will wind up being okay.

The Montreal-based duo will be releasing new singles throughout the rest of the year, and are hoping to release an album sometime later on.