Tag: Jagjaguwar Records

New Audio: Lonnie Holley Teams Up with Michael Stipe on Atmospheric Meditation “Oh Me, Oh My”

Lonnie Holley is an acclaimed, Birmingham, AL-born and-based multi-disciplinary artist, art educator and musician. Holley has had a profoundly difficult life, which has been well-documented: He was taken away from his family as a child by a burlesque dancer, who ultimately left him in the care of the proprietors of a whiskey house on the state fairgrounds. He then lived in several foster homes, before spending time at the notorious juvenile facility the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children in Mount Meigs, where he suffered terrible abuse.

From the time he was a small boy — about five or so — Holley has managed to work a variety of jobs: He has picked up trash at drive-in movie theater, washed dishes, picked cotton, was a chef and was even a gravedigger.

Holley’s creative and artistic life began in earnest back in 1979: Heartbroken by the death of his sister’s two children, who tragically died in a house fire, he carved tombstones out of a soft sandstone-like byproduct of metal casting, which was discarded by a foundry near his sister’s house. He firmly believes that divine intervention led him to the material — and inspired his art.

He went on to make other carvings and began assembling them in his yard with various found objects. Locally, he began to occasionally be known as The Sand Man.

In 1981, Holley brought a few examples of his sandstone carvings to Birmingham Museum of Art director Richard Murray. Murray was so impressed that the museum displayed some of those pieces immediately.

Murray then introduced Holley to the organization of that year’s “More Than Land and Sky: Art from Appalachia” exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.This led to the Birmingham-based multi-disciplinary artist’s work being acquired by several institutions including New York’s American Folk Art MuseumAtlanta’High Museum of Art and others — and he has had his work displayed at The White House.

By the mid 1980s, Holley’s work had expanded to include paintings and recycled and found-object sculptures. His yard and the adjacent abandoned lots near his home became an immersive art environment, that was highly celebrated by the larger art world. Unfortunately, that art environment was frequently threatened by scrap metal scavengers. Tragically, his work was torn down as a result of the expansion of the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

Holley sued and eventually won a settlement in which the airport authority paid $165,700 to move his family and work to a larger property in Harpersville, AL. (It shouldn’t be surprising that the acclaimed artist is a primary subject of Unreformed, a new podcast from the folks at iHeartMedia.)

His first major retrospective Do We Think Too Much? I Don’t Think We Can Ever Stop” Lonnie Holley, A Twenty-Five Year Survey was organized by the Birmingham Museum of Art, and eventually travelled to the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, UK.

From 2003-2004, Holley created a sprawling, sculptural environment at the Birmingham Museum of Art’s lower sculpture garden as part of their “Perspective” series of site-specific installations. The creation of the installation was documented in Arthur Crenshaw’s film, The Sandman’s Garden and by photographer Alice Faye “Sister” Love.

He also installed sculptural work for the exhibition  Groundstory: Tales from the shade of the South at Agnes Scott College’s Dalton Gallery, which ran from September 28, 2012 to November 17, 2012.

2012 was a very busy year for Holley: He also released his full-length debut album Just Before Music. He followed that up with 2013’s Keeping a Record of It. His third album, 2018’s MITH, which was released by Jagjaguwar Records, saw Holley cementing a sound and approach informed and inspired by the blues, soul, avant-garde jazz and spirituals.

Holley’s fourth album, the Jackknife Lee-produced Oh Me, Oh My is slated for a March 10, 2023 release through Jagjaguwar. Oh Me, Oh My reportedly is a sharpening and refinement of the work contained on MITH, Stirring in one moment and a balm the next, Oh Me, Oh My details histories both global and personal. The album features an acclaimed collection of collaborators including Michael Stipe, Sharon Van Otten, Moor Mother, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Rokia Koné, who serve as choirs of angels and co-pilots, assisting in giving Holley’s message flight, while reaffirming the man as a galvanizing, iconoclastic force.

Holley’s creative work is much more about our place in the cosmos, than the cosmos itself. It’s often about how we overcome adversity and bitter heartache and pain with our dignity intact; about how we develop and maintain an affection for our fellow spacetime travelers about how we need to stop wishing for some “beyond” and start caring for the one life and the one rock we have. Oh Me. Oh My sees the refinement of Holley’s impressionistic, stream-of-consciousness lyrics. During each session Holley and Lee would discuss the essence of the song and distill the acclaimed multi-disciplinary artist’s word to their most immediate and earnest center. And as a result, the central message of his work may arguably be the most clear and concise on this album.

The album’s first single, album title track “Oh Me, Oh My” is a hauntingly gorgeous, spectral, piano-led meditation featuring Michael Stipe’s imitable plaintive wailing and Holley’s achingly soulful crooning. Sonically seeming to mesh elements of Brian Eno‘s ambient work and Gil Scott-Heron‘s Pieces of a Man and I’m New Here, “Oh Me, Oh My” deals with mutual human understanding with a earnest yet beguilingly Zen-like profundity.

“My art and my music are always closely tied to what is happening around me, and the last few years have given me a lot to thoughtsmith about,” Holley says. “When I listen back to these songs I can feel the times we were living through. I’m deeply appreciative of the collaborators, especially Jacknife, who helped the songs take shape and really inspired me to dig deeper within myself.”

Deriving their name from Besnard Lake, which is about 230 miles north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated, Montreal-based shoegazer outfit 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 MacArthur (guitar) — formed back in 2003. And since their formation, the Canadian shoegazers have released six albums of expansive, atmospheric and textured shoegaze that has been described as magisterial and cinematic by critics.

2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum saw the Montreal-based outfit saw the band attempting to craft shorter, less sprawling songs. But after the album’s release, The Besnard Lakes and their longtime label home Jagjaguwar decided to mutually go their separate ways. With that decision, the Canadian shoegazers faced several career and life-altering questions: Did it make sense to even continue the band? What use is a band with an instinct for crafting expansive songs that balanced muscular heft and ethereal grave that often clocked in at five, 10 or even 18 minutes long? How can they sell that in the age of short attention spans and streaming? Can it even be relevant?

After a period of contemplation, the band came to the realization that it didn’t fucking matter. So, fueled by their love for each other, and for creating and playing music together, the members of The Besnard Lakes found themselves creating what may arguably be their most uncompromising album to date, last year’s The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Unlike their previous five albums, the Canadian shoegazer outfit eschewed their long-held two or three year record release cycle, and went with a much more patient creative approach in which they took all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Some of the album’s songs are old and can trace their origins back to resurrected demos that the band had left on the shelf to be worked on, several years before The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings sessions. Other songs were woodshedded in the cabin behind Laske’s and Goreas’ Riguard Ranch with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound.

Thematically, the Montreal-based band’s sixth album found the band contemplating the darkness of dying, the light on the other side — and coming back from the brink of annihilation. While in many ways touching about the band’s own story, the album is also a remembrance of dear loved ones, who are no longer with us — in particular, Lasek’s father who died in 2020.

From Lasek’s observations of his father’s death, being on one’s deathbed may be the most intense and unshakable 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.” These observations helped to imbue the material with a fever dream-like quality.

The acclaimed Montreal shoegazers start off 2022 with “She’s an Icicle,” an outtake from The Besnard Lakes Are The Last Great Thunderstorm Warnings sessions. Clocking in at a little over six-and-half minutes, and having gone through a process of editing and reworking, the expansive “She’s an Icicle” is centered around three distinct sections:

  • a gentle and dreamy introduction featuring shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars
  • a driving middle section featuring distortion and reverb-drenched guitars, a chugging and propulsive bass line, glistening bursts of synths and four-on-the-four-like drumming
  • a dreamy and contemplative coda that repeats the motif started in the introductory section — but with fluttering feedback, forceful drumming and glistening synth bursts before fading out

Each of those three sections are held together by Jace Lasek’s achingly plaintive falsetto and some gorgeous harmonizing. And while being an ode to a lost love, “She’s an Icicle” the continues a remarkable run of expansive and exploratory material centered around gorgeous melodies and earnest lyricism.

New VIdeo: Montreal’s The Besnard Lakes Release a Surreal Visual for Enormous “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again”

oAs 2020 mercifully came to a close, I wound up writing a bit about the acclaimed acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated Montreal-based indie rock act The Besnard Lakes. The Canadian sextet — 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 MacArthur (guitar) — formed back in 2003, and since their formation, the band has released five albums of atmospheric and textured shoegaze that some critics have described as magisterial and cinematic.

After the release of 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, the members of the acclaimed Montreal-based act and their longtime label home Jagjaguwar mutually decided that it was time to end their relationship and go their separate ways. And although the move was amicable between both parties, the band began to question whether or not it made sense to even continue as a band. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the members of The Besnard Lakes settled in to write and record what may arguably be considered the most uncompromising effort of their catalog to date, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Unlike their previously released material, the members of the Montreal-based went with a much more patient creative approach, taking all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Interestingly, some of the album’s songs are old and can trace their origins back to resurrected demos that they had been left on the shelf years prior. Other songs were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek’s and Goreas’ Riguard Ranch, with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound.

Thematically, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings finds the band contemplating the darkness of dying, the light on the other side, and coming back from the brink of annihilation. And while touching upon the band’s own story, the album also is a remembrance of dear loved ones, who are no longer with us — particularly Lasek’s father, who died last year. From what Lasek observed of his father’s death, 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.” All of this manages to imbue the album’s material with an almost fever dream-like quality.

So far I’ve written about two of The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings’ singles:

“Raindrops,” a slow-burning shoegazer with a painterly attention to gradation and texture, centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook.
“Feuds With Guns,” a dream pop-like synthesis of Prince and Beach House featuring thunderous drumming, anthemic power chord-based riffs, twinkling keys and a soaring hook.

The Besnard Lakes begin 2021 with their forthcoming album’s third and latest single “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again.” Clocking in 6:39, the expansive song is centered around two alternating sections: a slow-burning and atmospheric section featuring ethereal female lead vocals, glistening and atmospheric synths that slowly build up in intensity with the addition of chugging power chords, thumping tribal-like drums and layered choral-like vocals. The end result is a song that’s a prog rock meets Beach Boys-like take on shoegaze that feels oceanic.

“The track started as an Oggy Film Song,” the band shares in press notes. “A skeletal version of the song had been in the Besnard vault for several years after we initially rejected it for a film soundtrack. It went through a couple drafts before we tore it apart, rejiggered some parts and resurrected it to its new form. The song is an ode to logic and intuition and being able to learn from the past.”

Directed by Dr. Cool, the recently released video for “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again” is an animated and lysergic fever dream that features divers projected onto city buildings, electrical outlets turn into signing houses moving across the horizon and a horse runs across the changing skyline. It’s a mind-bending and gorgeous visual.

The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Fat Cat Records here in the States and through Flemish Eye in their native Canada.

The Besnard Lakes have announced 3 livestream shows in support of the forthcoming album. Hosted by Noonchorus, the band’s live streams will be February 5, 2021; March 6, 2021; and April 3, 2021. The streams will go live at 7:00pm EST for each show and tickets are available here: https://noonchorus.com/the-besnard-lakes/

New Video: The Besnard Lakes Release a Lysergic and Feverish Visual for Shimmering and Slow-Burning “Feuds With Guns”

Deriving their name from 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 MacArthur (guitar) — formed back in 2003. And since their formation, the Montreal-based sextet have 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 Besnard Lakes and their longtime label home Jagjaguwar mutually decided that it was time to end their relationship and go their separate ways. And as a result, the members of the band began to question whether or not it made sense to even continue the band. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the acclaimed Canadian act settled in to write and record what may arguably be the most uncompromising effort of their catalog, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Unlike their previously released material, the members of the Montreal-based went with a much more patient creative approach, taking all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Some of the album’s songs are old, tracing their origins to resurrected demos left on the shelf years before. Other songs were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek and Goreas’ Riguard Ranch, with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound.

Thematically, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings finds the band contemplating the darkness of dying, the light on the other side, and coming back from the brink of annihilation. And while touching upon the band’s own story, the album also is a remembrance of dear loved ones, who are no longer with us — particularly Lasek’s father, who died last year. From what Lasek observed of his father’s death, 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.” And as a result, the album’s material is imbued with a surreal and ethereal quality.

Earlier this year, I wrote about The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings’ first single “Raindrops,” a slow-burning shoegazer with a painterly attention to gradation and texture, centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook. Interestingly, the album’s second single is the slow-burning, dream pop-like “Feuds With Guns.” Centered around an atmospheric and spacious arrangement featuring thunderous drumming, anthemic power chord-based riffs, twinkling keys, plaintive vocals and a soaring hook, “Feuds With Guns” sonically speaking, is one part Prince, one part Beach House.

“‘Feuds With Guns’ is one of the first songs written from our upcoming LP. This one is a good slow-dancer!” The members of The Besnard Lakes explain to Under The Radar ” Written almost entirely in the Cabanon at The Rigaud Ranch, this one started out as an organ and drum idea that morphed into a little OMD-style pop song.”

Directed by Dr. Cool, the recently released animated video for “Feuds With Guns” is a lysergic fever dream that features divers taking a dive, flying airplanes, cars and vans in front of a bright yellow sun. “I rotoscoped a couple of the big dives from a video of an extreme high-diving contest that took place in the 80s. About a week after I had animated the first guy’s big jump, I returned to the video to check out some other usable clips,” Dr. Cool explains in press notes. “I realized I had never watched the full clip of the first jump — I had just stopped once he hit the water. I found out that after he lands in the water he floats back up unconscious and then gets taken away on a stretcher. So now what was I supposed to do? People in the comments were asking what had happened but no one knew the answer. After a bunch of snooping around the internet I found the guy’s Facebook and he’s TOTALLY alive. His name is Pat and he lives in Florida. I messaged him but he hasn’t answered.”

The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Fat Cat Records here in the States and through Flemish Eye in their native Canada.

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: Black Mountain Takes on 8-Bit Video Games in New Visuals for “Licensed to Drive”

Stephen McBean is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he became involved in the Victoria, British Columbia music scene, forming his first band Jerk Ward in 1981. In 1984, the band recorded a demo that was re-released in 2009 as Too Young to Thrash. Jerk Ward evolved into Mission of Christ (MOC), who recorded a split 7 inch in 1987 — but two years later, the band broke up and McBean relocated to Vancouver, where he started Gus, a band that released two singles, a split EP and a full-length album, 1995’s The Progressive Science Of Breeding Idiots For A Dumber Society, which lead to McBean’s first experience with extensive touring.

In 1996 McBean asked Radio Berlin’s Joshua Wells to join his new band Ex Dead Teenager. Much like his first band Jerk Ward, Ex Dead Teenager eventually morphed into Jerk With a Bomb. Signing with Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar Records. the band released three albums — 1999’s Death To False Metal, 2001’s The Old Noise and 2003’s Pyrokinesis, which featured Dream on Dreary’s Amber Webber contributing vocals.

While McBean and Wells were still writing, recording and performing as Jerk With a Bomb in 2003, McBean started to demo material that included “Black Mountain” and by the following year, the duo began working on demos under the name Black Mountain with contributions from Webber, Matt Camirand (bass) and Jeremy Schmidt (keys). Those early demos eventually led to their self-titled debut album and a split 7 inch with Destroyer that featured “Bicycle Man,” and was released by Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar Records.

Building upon a growing profile, Black Mountain toured across North America and Europe and by the following June, the band released the 12″ single “Druganuat”/”Buffalo Swan” in the US. In August 2005, the band opened for Coldplay during their Twisted Logic Tour.

2008 was a huge year for the band, their sophomore album In The Future was a finalist for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize, and the album received a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Additionally, “Stay Free” was featured on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack.

By 2010, McBean relocated to Los Angeles, where they wrote and recorded their Randall Dunn and Dave Sardy-co-produced third album, 2011’s Wilderness Heart, an album that was long listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize and appeared on !earshot’s Top 50 chart.

2016 saw the release of their fourth album, the aptly titled IV. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes and now features McBean along with Arjan Miranda, Rachel Fannan, Adam Bulgasem and Jermey Schmidt. Interestingly, during that same period McBean got his first proper driver’s license — and for him, it was as though he essentially became a teenager again, discovering a new sense of personal independence and freedom.

Now, as you may recall, the band’s newest album Destroyer derives its name from the discontinued, single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, and reportedly the album is imbued with the wild freedom and newfound agency, anxiety and fear that comes from one’s first time behind the wheel. The serpentine, slow-burning, whiskey fueled, boogie strut “Boogie Lover” was meant to evoke cruising down the Sunset Strip late at night while drawing from space rock, doom metal and stoner rock simultaneously. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Licensed to Drive” evokes a sense of wild freedom  — of speeding down the highway with the music blaring at eardrum shattering levels while sonically drawing from krautrock, space rock, Black Sabbath and Ted Nugent, as the track is centered around a motorik pulse, shimmering synths, buzzing power chords and a razor sharp hook. Get in your car, play this one loud, man.

Directed by Zev Deans, the recently released video for “Licensed to Drive” is an extended riff on classic 8-bit video games and Mad Max, complete with leather and ax-wielding barbarians, a tricked out 1976 GMC Spirit, a guy playing trash can drums, and an enormous, mutant bat. And of course, while McBean and his buddy are playing the “Licensed to Drive” game, a cord is yanked out or something and they wind up having to watch a hilarious take on the classic Maxell Cassette tape commercial. For those of you who came of age in the 80s or grew up in the 80s, this video will bring back a lot of memories. 

New Video: Black Mountain’s Trippy Lo-Fi Visuals for Sultry “Boogie Lover”

Stephen McBean is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he became involved in the Victoria, British Columbia music scene, forming his first band Jerk Ward in 1981. In 1984, the band recorded a demo that was re-released in 2009 as Too Young to Thrash. Jerk Ward evolved into Mission of Christ (MOC), who recorded a split 7 inch in 1987 — but two years later, the band broke up and McBean relocated to Vancouver, where he started Gus, a band that released two singles, a split EP and a full-length album, 1995’s The Progressive Science Of Breeding Idiots For A Dumber Society, which lead to McBean’s first experience with extensive touring.

In 1996 McBean asked Radio Berlin’s Joshua Wells to join his new band Ex Dead Teenager. Much like his first band Jerk Ward, Ex Dead Teenager eventually morphed into Jerk With a Bomb. Signing with Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar, the band released three albums — 1999’s Death To False Metal, 2001’s The Old Noise and 2003’s Pyrokinesis, which featured Dream on Dreary’s Amber Webber contributing vocals.

While McBean and Wells were still writing, recording and performing as Jerk With a Bomb in 2003, McBean started to demo material that included “Black Mountain” and by the following year, the duo began working on demos under the name Black Mountain with contributions from Webber, Matt Camirand (bass) and Jeremy Schmidt (keys). Those early demos eventually led to their self-titled debut album and a split 7 inch with Destroyer that featured “Bicycle Man,” and was released by Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar Records.

Building upon a growing profile, Black Mountain toured across North America and Europe and by the following June, the band released the 12″ single “Druganuat”/”Buffalo Swan” in the US. In August 2005, the band opened for Coldplay during their Twisted Logic Tour.

2008 was a huge year for the band, their sophomore album In The Future was a finalist for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize, and the album received a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Additionally, “Stay Free” was featured on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack.

By 2010, McBean relocated to Los Angeles, where they wrote and recorded their Randall Dunn and Dave Sardy-co-produced third album, 2011’s Wilderness Heart, an album that was long listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize and appeared on !earshot’s Top 50 chart.

2016 saw the release of their fourth album, the aptly titled IV. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes and now features McBean along with Arjan Miranda, Rachel Fannan, Adam Bulgasem and Jermey Schmidt. Interestingly, during that same period McBean got his first proper driver’s license — and for him, it was as though he essentially became a teenager again, discovering a new sense of personal independence and freedom.

In fact, the band’s forthcoming album, Destroyer, which derives its name from the discontinued single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, reportedly is imbued with the wild freedom and newfound agency, anxiety and fear that comes from one’s first time behind the wheel. Interestingly, the album’s latest single is the serpentine, slow-burning, whiskey fueled- boogie strut “Boogie Lover,” a track meant to evoke cruising down the Sunset Strip. Clocking in at a little over 6 minutes and centered by wah wah pedaled guitar, thumping drumming, sizzling synths, the track manages to draw from space rock, doom metal and stoner rock simultaneously — all while being incredibly sultry and apocalyptic.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Preoccupations Release Stark and Gorgeously Cinematic Visuals for Album Closer “Compliance”

Over the past handful of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Canadian post-punk act and JOVM mainstays Preoccupations. And as you may recall, the band’s third full-length album New Material was released last year through Jagjaguwar Records, and the album further cements the band’s growing reputation or crafting dark and moody post-punk that touches upon themes of anxiety, uncertainty, creation, destruction and futility while being “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred,” the band’s Matt Flegel explained in press notes.

Much like their sophomore album, the band met without having much written or demoed beforehand — and according to the members of the band, it was arguably one of the most collaborative writing sessions they ever had as a band, with the sessions being extremely architectural in nature, as some ideas were  (proverbially speaking) being built up while others were torn down to the support beams. Initially they didn’t know what the songs were about or where they were going with them, they had resolved to let the material show and not explicitly not tell; however, the writing and recording sessions reportedly led to a reckoning for the band’s Flegel. “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized. I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong,” says Flegel. In fact, the murky and angular  Manchester/Joy Division-like first single “Espionage,” while being among the most danceable songs they’ve written and released, focuses on a narrator, who has finally become aware of a disturbing penchant for self-sabotage in every aspect of his life. “Antidote,” New Material‘s second single was centered around propulsive, industrial clang and clatter meant to convey a sweaty anxiety; however, the song is actually about how humans forget that they’re walking, talking, shitting animals — animals that have an infinite amount of knowledge within their fingertips but still manage to repeatedly making terrible choices. “Disarray,” the album’s third single was meditative and slow-burning single featuring shimmering guitar chords, an angular and propulsive bass line, organic drumming and boom bap-like drum machine work during the song’s bridge. And while superficially nodding at Turn On the Bright Lights-era Interpol, the song captures something much darker and uncertain — as it was centered around someone, who from their perspective, views everything they’ve ever known to be a lie. The album’s fourth single “Decompose” was an angular and propulsive track that featured twinkling synths, buzzing power chords and an eerie sense of melodicism that underlies the song’s danceable vibe. 

Album closer “Compliance” is a decided and stark sonic departure for the band as it’s a climatic wall of industrial clang, clatter and other noise — but two chiming tones peak up and rise upward, giving the instrumental track a yearning nature. Directed by Nicholas Brown and Evan Henderson, the recently released video for “Compliance” is set in a post-apocalyptic world, featuring an enigmatic forest spirit named “Mariah.”  As the band explains in press notes, “Mariah has awakened from eons of slumber to a world that has long been abandoned by humans and heavily mutated by their waste and consumption. As Mariah struggles to make sense of this new world, she grieves for the one she has lost forever. The Mariah creature was painstakingly designed and constructed by Brown, portrayed by Henderson, and captured by the haunting and beautiful cinematography of Adam Stewart. Compliance brings a close to this chapter of the band as we look towards the future and marvel at the new heights their [sic] music will take.”

 

Now, over the past handful of years of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Canadian post-punk act and JOVM mainstays Preoccupations. And as you may recall, the band which is comprised of Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar) initially formed under the name Viet Cong — and by the time their 2014 self-titled full-length debut was released, the members of the band found themselves in the middle of a firestorm centered around cultural appropriation and the usage of terms, names and symbols associated with historical groups and actions that evoke the horrors of war, despotism, authoritarianism, fascism, genocide and the like. Ultimately, the band decided to change their name before the release of their sophomore album — and to re-issue their self titled debut with another name.

Released earlier this year through  Jagjaguwar Records, Preoccpuations’ third album New Material further cements the bands growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post-punk that touches upon themes of anxiety, uncertainty, creation, destruction and futility while being “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred,” the band’s Matt Flegel said in press notes. Much like their sophomore album, the band met without having much written or demoed beforehand — and according to the members of the band, it was arguably one of the most collaborative writing sessions they ever had as a band, with the sessions being extremely architectural in nature, with some ideas (proverbially speaking) being built up while others were torn down to the support beams.

Initially they didn’t know what the songs were about or where they were going with them, they had resolved to let the material show and not explicitly not tell; however, the writing and recording sessions reportedly led to a reckoning for the band’s Flegel. “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized. I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong,” says Flegel. In fact, the murky and angular  Manchester/Joy Division-like first single “Espionage,” while being among the most danceable songs they’ve written and released, focuses on a narrator, who has finally become aware of a disturbing penchant for self-sabotage in every aspect of his life. “Antidote,” New Material‘s second single was centered around propulsive, industrial clang and clatter meant to convey a sweaty anxiety; however, the song is actually about how humans forget that they’re walking, talking, shitting animals — animals that have an infinite amount of knowledge within their fingertips but still manage to repeatedly make the worst possibly choices. “Disarray,” the album’s third single was meditative and slow-burning single featuring shimmering guitar chords, an angular and propulsive bass line, organic drumming and boom bap-like drum machine work during the song’s bridge. And while superficially nodding at Turn On the Bright Lights-era Interpol, the song captures something much darker and uncertain — as it was centered around someone, who from their perspective, views everything they’ve ever known to be a lie. The album’s fourth single “Decompose” was an angular and propulsive track that featured twinkling synths, buzzing power chords and an eerie sense of melodicism that underlies the song’s danceable vibe.

The JOVM mainstays will close out a busy 2018 with a co-headlining tour with long-time friends Protomartyr that will include a November 28, 2018 stop at Warsaw — and you can check out the rest of the tour dates below. And to celebrate the announcement of the tour, the bands have released a split 7 inch in which each band covers the other. The split 7 inch’s latest track is Preoccupations subtle reworking of Protomartyr‘s “Pontiac 87,” that features a slightly sped up tempo and a lush, studio sheen.

Tour Dates:
Fri. Nov. 23 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace *
Sat. Nov. 24 – Ottawa, ON @ 27 Club *
Mon. Nov. 26 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
Wed. Nov. 28 – Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw *
Thu. Nov. 29 – Washington, DC @ Union Stage *
Fri. Nov. 30 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Foundry *
Sat. Dec. 01 – Columbus, OH @ The Basement *
Mon. Dec. 03 – Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place *
Tue. Dec. 04 – Ann Arbor, MI @ Blind Pig *
Thu. Dec. 06 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall *
Fri. Dec. 07 – Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room *
Sat. Dec. 08 – Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar *
Mon. Dec. 10 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird *
Wed. Dec. 12 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall *
Thu. Dec. 13 – Boise, ID @ Olympic *
Fri. Dec. 14 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios *
Sat. Dec. 15 – Vancouver, BC @ Venue *
Sun. Dec. 16 – Seattle, WA @ Crocodile *
Tue. Dec. 18 – San Francisco, CA @ Independent *
Wed. Dec. 19 – Los Angeles, CA @ Regent *
* w/ Protomartyr