Tag: Irving Plaza

Lyric Video: White Lies Returns with an Anthemic Arena Rock Friendly Single to Close Out 2019

Over the past 12-15 months or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the London-based post-punk act White Lies, and as you may recall the act, which is primarily centered around its core and founding trio — Harry McVeigh (vocals, guitar), Charles Cave (bass, vocals) and Jack Lawrence-Brown (drums) — can trace their origins to a band they started while in high school, called Fear of Flying. Although Charles Cave has publicly described Fear of Flying as a “weekend project,” and one of many bands each of the individual members were involved in at the time, Fear of Flying released two Stephen Street-produced double A-side singles released through Young and Lost Club Records.

Building upon the initial buzz surrounding them, Fear of Flying earned opening slots for nationally acclaimed acts like The Maccabees, Jamie T, and Laura Marling. Along with completing one UK tour as an opener, they also played the inaugural Underage Festival. Two weeks before the trio were to start college, they decided that they would take a second gap year and perform new material, which the trio felt didn’t suit their current project. “I felt as though i couldn’t write about anything personal, so I would make up semi-comical stories that weren’t really important to anyone, not even me,” Charles Cave reflected on that period. Fear of Flying broke up in 2007 with a MySpace status that read “Fear of Flying is DEAD . . . White Lies is alive!,” before introducing a new name that the trio felt better represented their newfound maturity — and a much darker sound.

Officially forming in October 2007, the members of the then-newly formed White Lies delayed their first live shows for five months to build up media hype. And as the story goes, a few days after their live debut, the band signed with Fiction Records, who released the band’s first two singles — “Unfinished Business” and “Death,” which quickly drew comparisons to Joy Division, Editors, The Killers and Interpol. And as a result of the attention their first two White Lies singles earned, the trio wound up touring across the UK and North America, including a headlining BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend Festival set, a slot on 2009’s NME Awards tour, as well as a number of appearances across the international festival circuit.

2009 saw the release of the act’s breakthrough, full-length debut To Lose My Life, which was released on the heels of being prominently featured in multiple “ones to watch” polls for that year, including BBC’s Sound of 2009 poll and the BRIT Critics’ Choice Award. Interestingly, the album earned them the distinction of being the first British act that year to land a nubmer one album on the British Charts — and the first album to debut at number one that year. 

The band’s third album, 2013’s well-received and commercially successful, Ed Bueller-produced Big TV, an album that debuted at #4 on the UK Charts. Interestingly, the album thematically follows a couple, who leave a provincial area for a big city while touching upon the theme of equality within a romanic relationship. Album single “Getting Even” managed to land at #1 on the Polish Singles Charts. 

FIVE, the London-based post-punk trio’s aptly titled with album was released earlier this year through [PIAS] Recordings, and the album manages to find the band deftly balancing an ambitious arena rock friendly sound with enormous hooks and bombast for days with intimate, singer/songwriter pop lyricism that’s earnest and comes from a deeply familiar, lived-in place. Album singles “Time to Give,” “Tokyo” “Jo” and “Believe It” all describe longtime relationships on the brink of collapse or suffering through one or both parties’ dysfunction, complete with the ambivalence, uncertainty and confusion that relationships often entail — paired with some of the biggest, anthemic hooks I’ve heard all year. The album continued a run of commercially successful albums from the band, as it landed on the Top Fifteen of the UK Charts. 

White Lies has been busy touring throughout 2019 to support FIVE, including a stop at Irving Plaza earlier this year. During a hiatus from touring, the trio along with producer Andrew Wells went into the studio to record new material, including their latest single “Hurt My Heart.” Interestingly, the track sounds as though it could have been recorded during the FIVE sessions as it prominently features enormous arena rock friendly hooks, thunderous drumming, an earnest vocal performance from the band’s Harry McVeigh. and a blistering guitar solo. But unlike the material off FIVE, the new single focuses on the emotional aftermath of a breakup. 

“For ten years we have stayed loyal to the album format – only sitting down to write and then record when it was time for a new complete work,” the band’s primary lyricist and bassist Charles Cave explains in press notes. “Whilst there is a lot of love about that process, it is something of an endurance exercise. We decided it was about time to see what happened if we just wrote a few things with the idea to release music disconnected from an LP; something that could sit within the same universe as Five.”

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Interview: A Q&A with VALLEY’s Michael Brandolino

The members up-and-coming, Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based indie rock/indie pop act VALLEY Rob Laska (vocals), Karah James (drums), Michael Brandolino (guitar) and Alex DiMauro (bass) played in a number of various bands, initially playing in high school bands covering some of their favorite artists before getting serious enough to write their own material.  Interestingly enough, the members of the up-and-coming Canadian act can trace their origins to when the members’ previous projects were accidentally (and perhaps serendipitously) had their recording sessions double-booked at a local recording studio. The studio encouraged the band to try playing together — and as the story goes, instead of looking a gift horse in the mouth, each individual person decided to work together, eventually developing their self-produced and acclaimed debut EP, 2016’s This Room Is White, that amassed 10 million streams, partially as a result of the EP’s smash hit track “Swim,” which received airplay internationally and garnered placements on a number of TV shows. 

Last year, the members of VALLEY released the Maybe Side A EP, which featured “There’s Still A Light In The House,” a track that amassed over 1 million Spotify streams and received airplay on US College Radio. Building upon a growing profile, the up-and-coming Toronto-based indie quartet will be releasing their full-length debut Maybe through Universal Music Group later this year, and the album’s Andy Seltzer co-written and co-produced first single “Closer To The Picture”  thematically deals with the vacillating and inherent cycle of anxiety and self-reflection in the deafening digital noise of 21st century living.

VALLEY’s latest single, “A Phone Call In Amsterdam is a slickly produced bit of anthemic, radio friendly pop featuring shimmering synths, a rousing hook and a tight groove that sonically reminds me Plain White T‘s “Hey There, Delilah” and St. Lucia — while thematically focusing on an experience that should be familiar to most of us — that moment when you realize that you have feelings for a dear friend, who you desperately want to tell; but you’re afraid of rejection and ruining a good relationship.

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The up-and-coming Canadian band is currently touring with up and coming singer/songwriter and fellow Canadian Lennon Stella to support their most recent EP and new single, and the tour includes a stop tomorrow night at Irving Plaza, arguably their biggest area show to date. I recently spoke with the band’s Michael Brandolino via email about their new single, their tour, their influences and more. Check out the tour dates below, and the interview below the jump.

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MON 25 MARCH
Theater of the Living Arts Philadelphia, PA, US
TUE 26 MARCH
Irving Plaza New York, NY, US
THU 28 MARCH
Metro Chicago, IL, US
FRI 29 MARCH
The Rave/Eagles Club Milwaukee, WI, US
SAT 30 MARCH
Fine Line Minneapolis, MN, US
MON 1 APRIL
Bluebird Theater Denver, CO, US
WED 3 APRIL
Fonda Theatre Hollywood, CA, US
THU 4 APRIL
Fonda Theatre Hollywood, CA, US
FRI 5 APRIL
August Hal lSan Francisco, CA, US
SUN 7 APRIL
Wonder Ballroom Portland, OR, US
MON 8 APRIL
Neptune Theatre Seattle, WA, US
WED 10 APRIL
Vogue Theatre Vancouver, BC, Canada
THU 11 APRIL
Vogue Theatre Vancouver, BC, Canada
TUE 16 APRIL
Top Cats Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH, US
WED 17 APRIL
The Auricle Canton, OH, US
THU 18 APRIL
Cobra Lounge Chicago, IL, US
FRI 19 APRIL
Fubar St Louis, MO, US
SAT 20 APRIL
The Kio House Memphis, TN, US
MON 22 APRIL
The End Nashville, TN, US
FRI 14 JUNE
– SAT 15 JUNE
Liquid Arts Festival 2019 Hamilton, ON, Canada

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WRH: As the story goes, the members of the band met when a recording studio accidentally double- booked sessions and encouraged y’all to play together. Curiously, how does your previous project(s) differ from Valley? And when did you recognize that you had a musical and creative chemistry that couldn’t and shouldn’t be denied?

Michael Brandolino: The projects we worked on before Valley were kind of the stepping stones we needed to find our sound I’d say. We spent the years before Valley covering our favourite bands in high school and collecting our favourite sounds for the future.

WRH: How would you describe your sound?

MB: I’d say it’s very much a combination of our parents records and records that we discovered in the most formative years of our life. We’re always thinking about the overall story and how to tell it in the most honest way. We believe a lot in honesty and a freeing dynamic, while blending a lot of different sonic textures. For example, on this record we did a lot of acoustic guitar panning that sit quiet and create pads that sit under blanket under the song, which is something we learned from Coldplay but then we contrast that with a ton of drum machine samples from the 80s and 90s that glue these two different worlds together. We’re always thinking about bringing stuff like that into one headspace. It’s really important to us when shaping a record.

WRH: Who are you influenced by?

MB: We definitely have a very diverse list of influences ranging anywhere from John Mayer to Coldplay to Bon Iver and Ariana Grande. All those artists have put out records that have marked really important periods of growth for us as a band and personally. Super thankful to be living in an age where they exist.

WRH: Who are you listening to now?

MB: Currently really into Lorde’s latest record, love Bon Iver, Still Woozy, Lennon Stella of course, The Japanese House record, Fleetwood Mac, Ariana Grande! We’re all over right now. So many great albums have been put out this year.

WRH: Is there anyone in the Toronto scene, who we haven’t heard about in the States that we all should be hearing about?

MB: Hands down this band called Babygirl. They’re good friends of ours and we look up to them so much. Incredible story tellers and songwriters. We have a feeling you’ll be hearing about them soon…

Recommended first listens: “Overbored,” “Soft,” “Wish I Never Met You.”

 

WRH: You’re currently on tour with Lennon Stella. How has the tour gone so far?

 MB: This tour has been absolutely incredible. We feel so lucky and fortunate to be on this run with Lennon. It’s our first major U.S run and we’ve been learning a ton. Watching Lennon every night and seriously has one of the most beautiful voices out there right now. Her songwriting is way beyond her years in so many ways and cannot wait to see her career unfold. So lucky to be a part of her humble beginnings.

WRH: Speaking of your tour, it includes a March 26 stop at Irving Plaza. Is it your first-time playing NYC? And what should NYC music fans expect from your set and from the show?

MB: We’ve played Rough Trade in Brooklyn before, but this is definitely our first time playing the Plaza right in the heart of the city. New York is so damn special to us. We wrote a lot of Maybein the city and lots of lyrical and production soundscapes take place throughout the album. It’s gonna be a special night, we can feel it.

WRH: Your self-produced, acclaimed EP, 2016’s This Room Is White amassed over 10 million streams – perhaps a result of “Swim,” receiving placements on radio and TV. Building upon rapidly growing buzz around you, your full-length debut is slated for release later this year. So far, the album’s first single “Closer to the Picture,” which was co-written and co-produced by the band and Andy Seltzer has received over a million streams and US College radio airplay. How does it feel to attain that kind of attention in such a relatively short period of time?

MB: It’s a pretty cool feeling, although we always feel like we could do better. We’ve been pleasantly surprised that every release does better than the last. Closer to the picture now one of the smaller songs on MAYBE according to Spotify analytics. Our most recent single “A Phone Call In Amsterdam” has performed the best, and we’re brainstorming ideas on how to exceed that number with our next single titled “Park Bench.” We feel blessed with any success we’ve had but always are looking to do better. There’s always room to grow!!

WRH: Your latest single “A Phone Call in Amsterdam” reminds me a bit of Plain White T’s and St. Lucia. What influenced the song? And what’s the song about? 

MB: “A Phone Call in Amsterdam” was one of the earliest songs that we wrote for Maybe. I remember the initial idea was conceived around July/August of 2017 around the same time we also wrote “There’s Still A Light In The House.”

“A Phone Call in Amsterdam” in terms of concept came later. This one we really wanted words and feelings to flow freely in its early conception. Subconsciously the meaning came out of nowhere which kinda made me go “oh that’s what I’m writing about I know exactly where this is coming from in my life.”

It’s very much a love story set in a time and place from the perspective of a dear friend of ours. Though it’s wrapped up in distance, both physically and emotionally. The paradox of wanting someone in your life and being scared to tell them how you really feel but also not wanting to ruin something that is already good the way it is, by saying the wrong thing.

Your most current tour has you on the road for the better part of the next month, before a big festival date. After you’ve completed the tour, what’s next?

We’re planned to release another single, two music videos, and then the second half of our record MAYBE. We’ll be doing another hometown album release show in Toronto, date to be announced! We have some festivals lined up but we are also very eager to start writing and demoing again so will probably run away for a month in the summer and write.

Now, as you recall, earlier this month I wrote about  Lifestyles‘ breakneck, pummeling and grungy “Wail,” which is one-half of a split 7 inch that Chicago-based label No Trend Records! will be releasing later the month. The second half of that split 7 inch features another Chicago punk rock act, Meat Wave. Interestingly, the act which features Chris Sutter, Joe Gac and Ryan Wizniak has developed a reputation for crafting brooding and bruising punk; however, their contribution to the split 7 inch “That’s Alright” is the only song in their growing catalog that has any semblance of positivity or light, as it’s an ode to love within the frequently evil, near apocalyptic world we currently inhabit.

Centered around pummeling and forcefully urgent groove and layers of distorted guitars, the track will further cement the trio’s reputation for bruising punk and while being mosh pit friendly, the song features a rousingly anthemic hook. Certainly, the song is a brief reminder that there are brief and sometimes fleeting moments of light in our dark and fucked up world, and that we need to hold on to them desperately — with every fiber of our beings.

The members of Meat Wave are currently on tour, opening for Cursive through mid-November and it includes a November 7, 2018 stop at Irving Plaza. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:
10/25 – Ybor City, FL – Pre-Fest
10/27 – Gainesville, FL – The Fest 17
10/28 – Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbits*
10/30 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade*
10/31 – Charlotte, NC – The Underground*
11/01 – Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle*
11/02 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club*
11/03 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer*
11/04 – Asbury Park, NJ – Stone Pony*
11/06 –  Long Island, NY – Amityville Music Hall*
11/07 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza *
11/08 – Boston, MA – Paradise*
11/09 – Hamden, CT –  Space Ballroom*
11/10 – Buffalo, NY – Tralf Music Hall*
11/11 – Pittsburgh, PA – Rex Theater*
11/12 – Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups*
11/13 – Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop*
11/14 – Detroit, MI – El Club*
11/15 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall*
11/16 – Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon*
11/17 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club*
11/18 – Omaha, NE – Waiting Room*
* w/ Cursive & Campdogzz

Live Footage: The Coathangers Perform “Gettin’ Mad and Pumpin’ Iron” at Alex’s Bar — Long Beach, CA

Over the bulk of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Atlanta, GA punk rock/garage rock band and JOVM mainstays The Coathangers, and as you may recall, the band, which is currently comprised of Julia Kugel (vocals and guitar), Meredith Franco (bass), and Stephanie Luke (drums) have released a handful of singles, three EPs and five full-length albums during 12 years together. And with each album has found the band carefully refining their sound and songwriting approach, while retaining a brash, raw and spontaneous simplicity balanced with a feral urgency and biting urgency — although with their last full-length album 2016’s Nosebleed Weekend and 2017’s Parasite EP found the band writing some of the most rousingly anthemic hooks they’ve ever written. 

I’ve had the pleasure of catching the Atlanta, GA-based JOVM mainstays twice over the years, and live their set is frenetic and furious, and there’s a palpable sense of love, loyalty and intimacy between the bandmembers that makes their sets feel like an enormous punk rock love fest — and now, the members of The Coathangers have put their live sound to wax, with the forthcoming release of their first live album, aptly titled Live. 

Slated for a June 1, 2018 release through their longtime label home Suicide Squeeze Records, Live was recorded during a two night stay at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, CA, and the album’s opening track and first single “Gettin’ Mad and Pumpin’ Iron” off 2009’s Scramble, and the single is a feral and blistering mosh pit friendly barn-burner that clocks in at 91 seconds. Interestingly, along with the recording, the band has released live footage from that show, which accurately captures the energy of their sets. 

New Audio: Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 Team Up with The Legendary Carlos Santana on a Funky and Powerful New Single

Lagos, Nigeria-born and-raised multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and singer/songwriter Seun Kuti is the youngest son of the legendary and controversial Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. And as the story goes when Seun was nine, he expressed a desire to perform with his father — and within a short time, Seun started performing with his father’s backing band Egypt 80. Much like his older brother, Femi, Seun Kuti has followed the political and social ethos of his late father, continuing to push their father’s pro-Black, pan-African/pan-African Diaspora, anti-colonialist, sociopolitical messages to wider, international audiences. Oddly enough, during Fela’s life, he was in many ways the bane of the Nigerian political establishment, as he bravely called out the hypocrisy, inequality, inequity, corruption and brutality that they and their fellow countrymen faced on a daily basis — while pointing out that corruption and brutality is always the same.

However, with increasing international attention on both Fela and his sons over the past 20 years, the Kutis have managed to walk a careful tightrope of siding with the little guy and courageous speaking truth to power at all costs, including risk of life and limb while also becoming unofficial ambassadors to Nigeria, their proud and beautiful people and their culture. Around the time, I started this site, I caught Femi Kuti and Positive Force at Irving Plaza and there was a proud contingency of Nigerians, who spoke of Femi and his father with proud, reverential terms, at one point referring to Femi as “Professor!” “Speak Professor, Speak!” They would exclaim whenever Femi would say something that resonated with them. In some way, I was reminded of how older Jamaicans speak of Bob Marley.

Fela died in 1997 when Femi was 35 and Seun was just 14. Almost immediately upon his father’s death, Seun took over the frontperson duties of his father’s legendary backing band, a band that features members of his father’s backing bands Afrika ’70 and Egypt 80 — many of whom were with Fela, when he was speaking out about the Nigerian government at a time, when doing so could mean risking jail, brutal beatings an/or death. And interestingly enough, Seun’s 2008 debut effort Many Things was produced by Martin Meissonnier, who produced two of Fela’s albums.

Now, as you may know live, Seun Kuti has developed a reputation for sets being a fair mix of his own original material, along with covers of his father’s material, and because his father rarely (if ever) performed songs he recorded in the studio live, Seun covering his father’s material is often seen as an opportunity for fans to hear songs like “Water Get No Enemy,” “Shuffering and Shmiling,” “Colonial Mentality” and “Army Arrangement” live — and with a dynamism that rivals that of his late father.

Seun Kuti’s fourth album with Egypt 80, Black Times is slated for a March 2, 2018 release through British label Strut Records, and the new album reportedly finds Seun and company honoring the revolutionaries who have come and gone before while being a much needed rallying cry for the torchbearers to come. And to further emphasize that theme, the album finds Seun and the legendary Egypt 80 collaborating with a list of acclaimed musicians and artists, including Carlos Santana and Robert Glasper, among others. As Seun Kuti explains in press notes, “Black Times is a true reflection of my political and social beliefs. It is an album for anybody who believes in change and understands the duty we have to rise up and come together. The elites always try to divide the working class and the poor people of the world. The same oppression felt by workers in Flint, Michigan is felt by workers in Lagos and Johannesburg.”

The funky yet blistering album title track and first single “Black Times” features the imitable guitar work of Carlos Santana in a song that’s meant to shine a black light on society, exposing its rot, immorality and hypocrisy while pointing out the need for Black folk all over the world to band together and demand justice and inequality for all people. But beyond that it suggests that everyone needs to take a serious look at themselves and their world in order to truly begin to change it — and while it may be hard work, it’s necessary work to make the world better.

New Video: The Dark and Sultry Visuals for K. Flay’s Anthemic “Blood in the Cut”

Born Kristine Meredith Flaherty, the Wilmette, IL-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter K. Flay emerged into the national and international scene with 2014’s Life as a Dog, an album that peaked on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart at #2 and Billboard’s Rap Albums chart at #14. She then signed with Interscope Records last year, as the first artist signed to Dan Reynolds’ Night Street Records, who released her latest effort,  the Grammy nominated album Every Where Is Some Where — receiving nods for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical with album single “Blood in the Cut” was nominated for Best Rock Song. Adding to a growing profile, Flaherty has made national televised appearances on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, TBS’ Conan, and has received praise from The New York Times and Pitchfork for material that features socio-political commentary and detailed lyrics, while reportedly being one of the most deliberate and dynamic effort to date, an effort that manages to capture the anxieties and uncertainties of today’s world. 

As for the Grammy nominated “Blood in the Cut,” the song has been a smash hit as it has amassed over 250,000 track equivalent units in the US according to Nielsen Music, spending more than 6 months on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, peaking at #4, and was certified Gold in Canada, reaching #1 on the Canadian Alternative charts. And when you heard the song, you’ll see why it’s been an attention grabbing, smash hit: the incredibly self-assured song features Flaherty’s sultry cooing over a sleek production featuring bluesy guitar chords, propulsive drumming, swirling electronics and an anthemic hook reminiscent of Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill, The Black Keys, Garbage and others, essentially balancing a careful tightrope between the blues, electronic rock and arena rock.