JOVM celebrates Jimi Hendrix’s 78th birthday.
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’s 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.
Lucias Tadini is an Italian-Brazilian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based in Los Angeles, where’s he best known for his solo recording project Tadini. The Italian-Brazilian singer/songwriter and musician, studied at Boston‘s Berklee College of Music— and after completing his studies, he wound up playing in a number of bands and projects, which have allowed him to hone his skills as a singer, keyboardist and guitarist, as well as producer and arranger.
Upon graduation, Tadini relocated to Los Angeles, where he started crafting arrangements centered around guitar, a collection of Moog synths, a Mellotron or two and a theremin that drew from Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the rhythms and melodies of his native Brazil in a genre-blurring fashion. That material wound up becoming the Brazilian-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s forthcoming, full-length debut Collective Delusion.
Last month, I wrote about “The Arsonist,” Collective Delusion‘s first single. Centered around explosive power chords, thunderous drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook, the song is full of arena rock friendly bombast and swagger paired with an incredibly self-assured performance that belies his relative youth. Written as he was relocating from Boston to Los Angeles. the song is a message about accepting and embracing change as a universal part of life. Continuing upon a similar vein as its immediate predecessor, Collective Delusion‘s second and latest single “Welcome Back to Freedom” is a slow-burning, bluesy dirge, centered around an enormous, power chord-driven hook, thunderous drumming and some explosive guitar soloing. Sonically, the song will likely draw comparisons to The Blue Stones, Reignwolf and several others.
“‘Welcome Back to Freedom’ is a song about surpassing your inner struggles (mental health) to win back your freedom, and the message is delivered through electrifying guitar riffs, a wall of synths and an arena ready catchy chorus, ” the emerging Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist explains in press notes.
Over this site’s 10 year history — 10! — Brown Acid, Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records’ ongoing collaborative proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations from the 1960s and 1970s have become a regularly occurring biannual feature. Now, as you may recall, each individual edition of the series is based around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down songs’ creators. Most often, those bands haven’t written, played or recorded together in more than 30 years — but they encourage the bands to take part in the compilation process. “All of (these songs) could’ve been hits given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten,” Lance Barresi explained in press notes for the previous editions of the compilation. “However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.”
Of course, having the original artists participate as much as possible in the compilation process can give the artists and their songs a real second chance at the attention they missed all of those years ago. And for critics and fans, the songs on the Brown Acid compilation series can often fill in the gaps within the larger picture of what was going on in and around both regional and national underground scenes at the time. Unfortunately, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the release of Brown Acid: The Tenth Trip had to be rescheduled to its new release date of June 26, 2020.
Much like its predecessors, the tenth edition finds the duo of Barresi and Hall digging even deeper into the well of material sadly reduced to obscurity. Earlier this year, I wrote about “Mr. Sun,” a song by a band that was previously featured on Brown Acid: The Third Trip — the Central Texas-based act First State Bank. Led by Randy Nunnally (vocals, guitar), First State Bank only released three singles during their six year history — 1970-1976 — with “Mr. Sun,” being a lysergic, power chord-driven, boogie woogie synthesis of Jimi Hendrix, Grand Funk Railroad and T. Rex.
Interestingly, not much is known about The Brood — or their grimy psych blues ode to broke-ass weed consumption “The Roach.” Originally released on the It’s A Lemon imprint, the track is centered around wailing guitar solos, screeching and arpeggiated organ blasts, howled vocals and enormous hook. And yeah, it’ll remind you of a weird little synthesis of the Rolling Stones and Steppenwolf — but with a raw, rock ‘n’ roll dirtiness that’s sorely missed.
JOVM pays tribute to the late and legendary Little Richard.
Spencer Kilpatrick is a Big Water, UT-based blues guitarist and singer/songwriter, who has built a profile regionally for playing Stax Records-infused soul and blues with a smoky, aching croon. Kilpatrick has sporadically released material online for some time now, including his latest four song EP, four big water bluses, which he wrote and recorded after losing weekly gigs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Spending the bulk of his 20s in garage rock bands, Kilpatrick’s latest effort finds him returning to some of his earliest musical influences — the blues — as a conscious step outside of the comfort zone he had developed for himself. The EP’s third track “the one where you wait for vocals to come in” really caught my ear. Centered around shimmering and expressive guitar work, the track is a slow-burning classic blues-inspired song that the emerging Utah-bass artist says was inspired by Mdou Moctar, Jimi Hendrix‘s instrumental version of “Born Under A Bad Sign” and Funkadelic‘s “Maggot Brain” — with a subtly lysergic air.
Brown Acid, Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records‘ collaboration on their ongoing series of proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations from the 60s and 70s have become a regularly occurring biannual feature throughout this site’s almost decade history. Each individual edition of the series is based around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down songs’ creators, most often bands that haven’t written, played or recorded together in 30+ years or more, and then encouraging them to take part in the compilation process. As Permanent Records’ Barresi has explained in press notes for previous editions of the compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been hits given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.”
Having the original artists participate as much as possible in the compilation can give the artists and their songs, a real second chance at the attention and success that they missed so long ago. Plus, these songs can help fill in the gaps within the larger picture of what was going on in and around regional and national underground music scenes during the 60s and 70s. Continuing the critical and commercial success of its first nine editions of the, RidingEasy Records and Permanent Records will be releasing Brown Acid: The Tenth Trip on April 20, 2020. (4/20 y’all!) And much like its predecessors, the tenth edition finds the duo of Barresi and Hall digging even deeper into the well of material sadly reduced to obscurity for a variety
Continuing upon the critical and commercial success of its first eight editions of the Brown Acid compilation, RidingEasy Records and Permanent will be releasing Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip on Halloween. And much like the preceding eight editions, the ninth edition finds Barressi and Hall digging even deeper into the well of obscure material written, recorded and released during the 60s and 70s. Interestingly, Brown Acid: The Tenth Trip’s latest single “Mr. Sun” is by a band that was previously featured on Brown Acid: The Third Edition — the Central Texas-based band First State Bank. Led by guitarist/vocalist Randy Nunnally, First State Bank only released three singles during 1970-1976, the first one being “Before You Leave.” “Mr. Sun” is the power chord-driven boogie woogie B-side to “Coming Home to You.” Sonically, the track sounds like a synthesis of Jimi Hendrix, Grand Funk Railroad and T. Rex –on acid.
Interview: A Q&A with Rising Swedish Pop Duo Vargas & Lagola
Choosing the band name Vargas & Lagola because they thought the names sounded like characters in a Quentin Tarantino movie, the Swedish songwriting, production and pop artist act comprised of Swedish Grammy-winning duo Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare features two of their homeland’s most accomplished contemporary songwriters and producers: the pair have had successful solo careers before teaming up to write hits for a who’s who list of electro pop and pop that includes Madonna, Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, Katy Perry, Ghost, and Sia.
Founded back in 2017, the duo’s collaboration is a decided change in sonic direction from their previous output as the project finds the Swedish songwriters and producers experimenting with their own unique take on melodic alt-pop, which meshes elements of 70s Americana and Nordic melancholia. Coincidentally, as they started their own attention-grabbing project, the duo received accolades for co-writing Avicii’s “Without You” and “Waiting for Love,” which led to a Swedish Grammy Award win for Composer of the Year. Adding to a growing profile across the international electro pop scene, Al Fakir and Pontare performed their co-written hit “More Than You Know” with Axwell /\ Ingrosso at Coachella — and they played a key role in finishing Avicci’s posthumously released album TIM, contributing on three of the album’s songs.
Last year, I wrote about “Forgot To Be Your Lover,” a carefully crafted pop song that balanced easygoing AM rock, yacht rock breeziness and achingly melancholic nostalgia while sonically the track was centered around atmospheric synths, lush layers of shimmering and twangy, country-styled guitar lines. In some way, the song – to my ears at least – reminded me of Danish JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, but with an ambitious, arena rock feel.
The acclaimed and commercially successful Swedish pop duo’s highly anticipated full-length debut is slated for release at the end of the month. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the duo’s latest single “Someone That Understands Me” continues a run of ambitious, arena rock-like pop. Centered around shimmering acoustic guitar, achingly plaintive vocals, enormous hooks, thunderous drumming and a scorching, Purple Rain-era Prince-like guitar solo from Ludwig Goransson, the song is the contented sigh of a world-weary person, who has stumbled upon one of life’s rare gifts – finding someone like-minded, who truly understands and accepts you for you.
I recently spoke to the duo via email about the new single, which officially drops today, their soon-to-be released album and more. Check out new single and the Q&A below.
WRH: How did you get into music?
Vincent Pontare: My father is a singer, so I got my first guitar from him when I was seven years- old.
Salem Al Fakir: I started to play violin and piano when I was three.
WRH: Who are your influences?
VP and SAF: We love all types of music! We have our roots in hip-hop/reggae/70s/60s but get most of the inspiration for VARGAS & LAGOLA from 70s Americana.
WRH: How would you describe your sound to someone completely unfamiliar with you and your work?
WRH: Who are you currently listening to?
WRH: Can you name a couple of Swedish acts that should be getting love outside of Sweden but haven’t yet? And why should we know about them?
VP and SAF: VARGAS & LAGOLA. We feel that our type music is unrepresented out in the world at the moment.
WRH: The band is comprised of two, highly accomplished and incredibly successful solo songwriters and producers. What brought the two of you together to collaborate? And how has working together changed your creative process?
VP and SAF: We had met before through mutual friends and had the same booking agency and later on we shared the same studio for a month and then one day we said: we should try to write a song together!?
And the rest is history. . .
It’s a blessing to be two and in the same boat! When the other one is out of ideas or need a break the other one jumps in
WRH: Both of you have managed to write material for an impressive list of globally known pop artists. Has that work influenced or changed your creative process?
VP and SAF: I think success affects [sic] your compass for what works or not in a good way, you trust your gut feel[ing] and that’s the most important tool we have.
WRH: Your latest single “Somebody That Understands Me” features a guest spot from Ludwig Goransson. How did that come about?
VP and SAF: You might think we already knew him cause we all are Swedes, but we didn’t’! We just fanboyed him up on Instagram and said, “Would you be up for trying a guitar solo on our upcoming single?” And he said “Yes.”
WRH: Speaking of “Somebody That Understands Me,” the track is one of those big, arena rock-friendly sentimental pop tunes with the sort of hook that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. In some way, the song kind of reminds me of Purple Rain and 1999-era Prince. So who and what influenced the song? Is it influenced by personal experience?
VP and SAF: We both have a soft spot for 90s arena rock, so we wanted to please ourselves for a second. Who doesn’t love a 12-string guitar riff!???
The song is about the beauty in finding like-minded people and a homage to thinking outside of the box in life in general. All types of music or genres we’ve been obsessed of comes from an underdog or rebellious perspective. So we wanted to get a little bit of that feeling into the lyrics and the production
WRH: Your highly anticipated full-length debut is slated for release at the end of the month. What should we expect from the album?
VP and SAF: We want to give our fans a more nuanced palette of our musical landscape, so The Butterfly Effect is a piece in that puzzle.
WRH: What’s next for you?
VP and SAF: Promotion, touring and writing more music.
JOVM mainstays The Blue Stones — longtime friends Tarek Jafer (vocals, guitar) and Justin Tessier (drums, percussion, backing vocals) — can trace their origins to when the duo met while in college, and decided to start a band together. As the story, the duo then spent the next seven years honing and perfecting their sound and approach — with the result ending with their self-released debut EP.
2017 saw the release of their highly-anticipated full-length debut Black Holes, an effort that featured “Rolling With The Punches,” which received placements on USA Network‘s Suits, Showtime‘s Shameless and ESPN‘s Monday Night Football, lead single and album title track “Black Holes (Solid Ground), which amassed 8 million streams, and “Be My Fire,” a track that brought The Black Keys, Jimi Hendrix, and North Mississippi All Stars to mind — although the song was actually an urgent and plaintive yearning for someone just out of reach. Interestingly, as confident and self-assured as Black Holes’ material was, the album in its own way, was also very much about the duo finding themselves both musically and personally — with the members of hte band deciding to pursue their lifelong dream of music but jumping into the unknown rather than a more ordinary life.
“Shaking Off the Rust” is the first bit of original material since the release of Black Holes and while continuing in the same incredibly confident and self-assured, arena rock friendly vein — but while expanding a bit upon the sound that has won them attention across the blogosphere. The song possesses a much more nuanced and textured take on their sound with the band employing a grunge rock song structure — quiet, loud, quiet, along with the addition of strummed acoustic guitar, which sets up the song’s explosive hook and 808 like beats. In fact, the song finds the band actively moving away from the “just another blues rock duo” off their previously released material.
“There were times along the way where I felt I wasn’t good enough, “ the band’s Tarek Jafar explains, “or that I didn’t deserve any happiness or success. This song is about battling those thoughts in your head that make you doubt yourself, and coming through with the confidence to make something great.”
Directed by James Villeneuve, the recently released video rehearsing and then playing for a live crowd in virtual reality — including fitting with fans. Is it a view into our increasingly disconnected digital world?
Ollie Trevers is an emerging London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who started writing and performing music when he was 14. Like countless other young people, Trevers harbored artistic aspirations from the very beginning.
While studying at Leeds College of Music, Trevers joined a band then known as The Doldrums — they’re now known as Velvit — as the band’s lead singer and rhythm guitarist. The band wound up playing gigs in and around the Leeds area but while earning a masters at ICMP, Trevers decided it was time to spent out into the limelight as a solo artist, writing and recording his solo debut, last year’s Saucy Naughty Rubbish EP, an effort that found the London-based singer/songwriter crafting a sound that drew equally from classic rock and post-punk.
Around the same time, Trevers started to receive film industry work, eventually writing period specific songs for the feature film Funny Cow and publishing music to be used in the feature film Burning Men. Since then he was commissioned to write the score and the soundtrack album for the upcoming feature film Cordelia. And after completing his masters, Trevers has begun to refocus his efforts into his solo career, including recruiting a backing band, which has started to play gigs in and around London.
Trevers’ recently released, five song EP Cordelia finds the emerging British singer/songwriter and guitarist expanding upon the sound of his debut, with the new EP’s material inspired by Led Zeppelin, Ella Fitzgerald, Edith Piaf, Tim Buckley, Jeff Buckley, Pink Floyd, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell and David Bowie among others. And as a result, the material’s overall sound touches upon punk, alt rock, prog, blues, folk and psych rock. Thematically, the material touches upon heartache, melancholia, catharsis and emotional claustrophobia — and the feelings which often transcend our ability to accurately describe them. Additionally, the material finds the emerging British singer/songwriter and guitarist exploring unrequited love and its causes and effects — depression, addiction, disillusionment and longing.
The EP’s latest single is the oceanic “Can’t Make It Up.” Centered around fuzzy power chords, Trevers plaintive and expressive vocals and an enormous, arena rock friendly hook, the expansive song sonically nods at alt rock, the blues, psych rock, folk and Brit Pop in a way that reminds me of Love Is Here-era Starsailor and The Verve. “‘Can’t Make It Up’ was written as a result of a rather turbulent period in my life,” Trevers says in press notes. “I think a lot of people have expressed a similar despondency, and I’m really happy that I managed to find a way to share that in my music . . . especially as I sometimes find it too hard to write about things that are personal.”