Tag: KEXP

Lyric Video: Nation of Language Returns with A Motorik Groove Driven Bop

Rising Brooklyn-based synth pop trio Nation of Language — — Ian Richard Devaney (vocals, guitars, percussion), Aidan Noell (synth, vocals) and Michael Sue-Poi (bass) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Devaney and Sue-Poi were members off The Static Joys, a band that became largely inactive after the release of that band’s sophomore album. And as the story goes, Devaney was inspired to start a new project after hearing OMD‘s “Electricity,” a song he had listened to quite a bit while in his father’s car.

erestingly, what initially started out as Devaney fooling around on a keyboard eventually evolved to Nation of Language with the addition of Noell and Sue-Poi. Between 2016-2019, the Brooklyn-based synth pop trio released a handful of singles that helped to build up a fanbase locally and the outside world.

ast year’s full-length debut, Introduction, Presence was released to critical praise, landing on the Best Albums of 2020 lists for Rough Trade, KEXP, Paste, Stereogum, Under The Radar and PopMatters. They capped off a massive 2020 with the A Different Kind of Light”/”Deliver Me From Wondering Why” 7 inch, which featured the A Flock of Seagulls and Simple Minds-like “Deliver Me From Wondering Why.”  The act’s latest single “Across That Fine Line” is the first official single off their highly-anticipated sophomore album A Way Forward slated for a November 5, 2021 release.

Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a relentless motorik groove, a rousingly anthemic yet dance floor friendly hook and Devaney’s plaintive vocals, “Across That Fine Line” continues a run of crowd pleasing and decidedly 80s inspired material; if you’re a child of the 80s A Flock of Seagulls and few others come to mind.

‘Across That Fine Line’ is a reflection on that moment when a non-romantic relationship flips into something different,” Nation of Language’s Devaney explains in press notes. “When the air in the room suddenly feels like it changes in an undefinable way. It’s a kind of celebration of that certain joyous panic, and the uncertainty that surfaces right after it.  

“Sonically, it’s meant to feel like running down a hill, just out of control. I had been listening to a lot of Thee Oh Sees at the time of writing it and admiring the way they supercharge krautrock rhythms and imbue them with a kind of mania, which felt like an appropriate vibe to work with and make our own.”
 

New Audio: Venice, Italy’s New Candys Release a Dark and Brooding Single

Formed back in 2008, the Venice-based post punk/shoegazer act New Candys — currently Fernando Nuti (vocals, guitar), Andrea Volpato (guitar, vocals), Alessandro Boschiero (bass) and Dario Lucchesi (drums, sample) — developed a sound that they’ve dubbed dark, modern rock ‘n’ roll as it combines noisy, brooding sounds with distinct melodies. Additionally, they’ve managed to display a dynamic and symbiotic connection between their music and their visual aesthetic.

2012 saw the release of the Italian post punk/shoegazer outfit’s full-length debut, Stars Reach The Abyss, which they supported with a tour of the UK and Italy. Adding to a rapidly growing international profile, album single “Meltdown Corp.” was included on that year’s The Reverb Conspiracy compilation released by Fuzz Club and The Reverberation Appreciation Society. Their sophomore album 2015’s As Medicine was released through Picture In My Ear and Fuzz Club — and distributed by The Committee To Keep Music Evil. Over the next two years, the members of New Candys toured across Europe three times, playing at Secret Garden Party and Liverpool Psych Fest.

Their third album, 2017’s Bleeding Magenta was released by Fuzz Club and re-pressed in the US by Little Cloud Records. The Italian act supported the album with a European tour and a stop at SpaceFest in Gdańsk, Poland. 2018 began an extremely busy period for the band: they toured Australia, headlining Sydney Psych Fest, now and Melbourne Psych Fest now known as Bad Vibrations, as well as a set at Adelaide Fringe Festival. Then they went on a US-Mexico tour, which included a stop at Seattle’s KEXP for a live session. In 2018 they went on and completed a back-to-back tour of 50 shows across Europe, the US and Canada with stops at Desert Stars Festival, Milwaukee Psych Fest, Los Angeles’ The Echo, Austin, TX’s Hotel Vegas and The Mercury Lounge. And they ended the year with a full European tour with The Warlocks and The Dandy Warhols that also included a stop at Levitation France. And just before the pandemic wrecked havoc across the world, New Candys went on their first tour of the Balkans.Adding to a growing international profile, New Candys have had songs appear on several episodes of Showtime’s Shameless.

The band’s fourth and latest album Vyvyd officially dropped today through Little Cloud Records and Dischi Sotterranei with a exclusive vinyl edition through Fuzz Club — and the album, which was recorded at Venice’s Fox Studio by the band’s Andrea Volpato is the first recorded output with their current lineup. Thematically, the album finds the band exploring and toying with the idea of duality throughout its ten songs. And to celebrate the release of the album, the and released two singles, including “Factice.” Centered around a densely layered and sculpted soundscape featuring thunderous drumming, shimmering guitars, crunchy bass lines within an expansive song structure, the song sonically bears a resemblance to My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins and the like, while detailing its narrator’s desperate attempts to escape a slow-burning descent into madness.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Art d’Ecco Releases an Incisive and Withering Look at Online Dating

Art d’Ecco is an enigmatic British Columbia-based singer/songwriter and grizzled Vancouver music scene vet, who once played in a band with acclaimed producer and ACTORS frontman Jason Corbett. In 2018, he emerged as dark bobbed hair wearing, androgynous and charismatic glam rock with the release off his full-length debut Trespasser.

Since Trespasser, the British Columbia-based art rocker has been busy: he played a live session for Seattle’s KEXP and played more than 75 clubs and music festivals across North America. Continuing a busy period, d’Ecco opened for acclaimed British 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.”

Released yesterday 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 finds d’Ecco further establishing a sound that some critics have described as neo-glam. But interestingly, the album’s overall sound and aesthetic sees d’Ecco and his backing band pushing the sonic boundaries of glam rock as far as they can, as the material draws from a diverse and eclectic array of influences including 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.”

In the buildup to the album’s release, I wrote about four 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. 
“Desires,” a jangling and densely layered glam anthem that sonically is a slick synthesis of Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, Gary Numan and The Cars. “A tale born inside the dark underbelly of old Hollywood, then repackaged and reimagined as a rock and roll tragedy,” d’Ecco said of the song in press notes.. “’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.”

In Standard Definition’s fifth and latest single “Good Looks” is a shimmering and slickly produced synthesis of classic rock, New Wave and glam influences — i.e., think Queen, David Bowie, Gary Numan and The Cars — with the song being centered around an angular and propulsive bass line, four-on-the floor, crystalline synths arena rock friendly hooks and punchily delivered lyrics, But underneath the rousingly anthemic hooks, the song is a withering look at the artificiality and superficiality of online dating: The song specially points out that while we’re swiping left and right, we’re not actively taking part in the world.

New Video: Art d’Ecco Releases a “Saturday Night Fever” Inspired Visual for Dance floor Banger “I Am The Dance Floor”

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 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.”

The forthcoming, 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 two 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 Man That Sold The World and Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, complete with an enormous horn line and glistening synths.

“I Am The Dance Floor,” In Standard Definition’s latest single is a shimmering and strutting disco take on glam rock centered around a rapid-fire four-on-the-floor, fluttering synth arpeggios, a funky and propulsive, dance floor friendly grooves, a regal horn sample and an enormous hook that may remind some of Bay City Rollers “Saturday Night,” Echoes-era The Rapture and In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy.

Directed by Wai Sun Cheng, the recently released video for “I Am the Dance Floor” features d’Ecco and his backing band under a glittering disco ball and on a giant, patchwork light up floor, made famous in Saturday Night Fever, beckoning the viewer — and of course, the listener — on to the dance floor, where there’s true liberation, if only for a three-minute song.

“I was picturing this alt version of Saturday Night Fever where the lead is this aging loner obsessed with dance, who every weekend shows up at different clubs around town and just murders the dance floor, and then disappears out the back door,” d’Ecco says. “There is a person from my home town who sort of fits this description quite well. I think every scene has their own version of Random Dancing Dude.”

In Standard Definition is slated for an April 23, 2021 release through Paper Bag Records.

New Video: Art d’Ecco Releases a Strutting Glam-Inspired Ode to Nostalgia

Although he’s a grizzled Vancouver music scene vet, who once played in a band with acclaimed producer and ACTORS frontman Jason Corbett, the mysterious and enigmatic British Columbia-based singer/songwriter now known as Art d’Ecco emerged as a dark bobbed hair wearing, androgynous and charismatic glam and art rock-inspired presence with the release of 2018’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 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.”

Sonically, the forthcoming, Colin Stewart-produced In Standard Definition was recorded on 2-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 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.”

Last month, I wrote about “TV God,” a shimmering and strutting 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. In Standard Definition’s second single “Head Rush” is a shimmering and strutting boogie that owes a sonic debt to Man That Sold The World and Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, complete with an enormous horn line and glistening synths. Directed by Avi Glanzer, the recently released video for “Head Rush” features the Canadian art rocker in a sleek leather jumpsuit and acoustic guitar in a stylish, slick and trippy visual.

“It’s a song about the head rush of our youth – nostalgia is a powerful drug, it distorts and reframes the past, often reconciling our memories into one place for easy access and to better suit our current disposition or state of mind,” d’Ecco explains. “I wanted all the hallmarks of a classic rock song – the kind of music that used to blast from the kitchen radio at the summer jobs I’d worked at as a teen. Guitar solo? Check. Drum solo? Check. Big horns and sparkly synths? Check.”

In Standard Definition is slated for an April 23, 2021 release through Paper Bag Records.

New Audio: Nation of Language Releases a Chilly ’80s Inspired Bop

Nation of Language is a Brooklyn-based synth pop trio — Ian Richard Devaney (vocals, guitars, percussion), Aidan Noell (synth, vocals) and Michael Sue-Poi (bass) — that can trace its origins back to 2016. At the time Devaney and Sue-Poi were members of The Static Joys, a band that became largely inactive after the release of their sophomore album. As the story goes, Devaney was inspired to start a new project after hearing OMD’s “Electricity,” a track he listened to in his childhood while in his father’s car.

What initially stated out as Devaney fooling around on a keyboard quickly evolved to Nation of Language with the addition of Noell and Sue-Poi. Between 2016 and 2019, the act released a handful of singles that helped them build up a fanbase locally and elsewhere. (Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site, you may recall that I caught them open for JOVM mainstays Still Corners a couple of years ago.)

The trio’s debut effort, last year’s Introduction, Presence was released to critical praise, landing on the Best Albums of 2020 lists for Rough Trade, KEXP, Paste, Stereogum, Under The Radar and PopMatters. Nation of Language capped off 2020 with a 7 inch single “A Different Kind of Light”/”Deliver Me From Wondering Why” — and to start off 2021, the rising Brooklyn-based synth pop trio recently released the 7 inch’s B side “Deliver Me From Wondering Why.”

“Deliver Me From Wonder Why” is chilly synth pop bop centered around repetitious and trance-inducing synth arpeggios and a persistent motorik groove that has a decidedly 80s vibe — in particular, you can’t help but think of A Flock of Seagulls, Simple Minds, and others. “‘Deliver Me From Wondering Why’ is a bit of an exploration, rooted in a desire for something repetitious and a bit spacey – something that would make you really want to zone out or go on a long drive on the highway,” Nation of Language’s Ian Richard Devaney says in press notes. “We worked with Nick Millhiser (Holy Ghost!) and it was just a really fun exercise in letting the track carry us wherever it was going to go. The backbone of the steady synth arpeggios and rhythms just leads endlessly forward and lets the mind wander around it.”

Live Footage: METZ Live on KEXP — At Home

With the release of their first three albums, the Toronto-based punk trio and JOVM mainstays METZ developed a reputation for thriving on an abrasive restlessness. However, before they set to work on their fourth and latest album, last year’s Atlas Vending, the Canadian punk rockers — Alex Edkins (guitar, vocals). Chris Slorach (bass) and Hayden Menzies (drums) — set a goal for themselves and the album: they intended to make a much more patient and honest album, an album that invited repeated listens rather than a few exhilarating, most-pit friendly bludgeonings.

Co-produced by Uniform’s Ben Greenberg and mastered by Seth Manchester at Pawtucket’s Machines with Magnets, Atlas Vending sees the band attempting to craft music for the long haul, and with the hopes that their work could serve as a constant, as they — and of course, the listener — navigated through life’s trails and tribulations. The end result is an album’s worth of material that retains the massive sound that has won them attention and hearts across the world, but while arguably being among their most articulate, earnest and dynamic of their catalog and careers.

Thematically, the album covers disparate yet very adult themes: paternity, crushing social anxiety, addiction, isolation, media-induced paranoia and the restless urge to just say “Fuck this!” and leave it all behind. Interestingly enough, much like its immediate predecessor, Atlas Vending offers a snapshot of the modern condition as the band sees it; but unlike any of their previously released work, the album’s 10 songs were specifically written to form a musical and narrative arc with the album’s songs and sequencing following a cradle-to-grave trajectory.

As a result of the album’s cradle-to-grave narrative arc, the album’s material runs through a gamut of moods and emotional states, starting off with the most rudimentary and simplistic sensations of childhood, all the way to the increasingly nuanced and turbulent peaks and valleys of adulthood. There’s also a bit of subtext to the proceedings: getting older in an industry seemingly suspended in perpetual youth. “Change is inevitable if you’re lucky,” METZ’s Alex Eadkins says of the band’s fourth album Atlas Vending. “Our goal is to remain in flux, to grow in a natural and gradual way. We’ve always been wary to not overthink or intellectualize the music we love but also not satisfied until we’ve accomplished something that pushes us forward.”

Over the course of last year, I wrote about six off the album’s released singles:

Album closing track “A Boat to Drown In,” which may be the most expansive and oceanic tracks of their entire catalog.
“Hail Taxi,” an explosive and deceptively prototypical METZ track that’s centered a narrator, who desperately attempts to reconcile who they once were with what they’ve become.
“Blind Industrial Park,” a rapturous and euphoric ripper that’s an ode to the naivete of youth and the blissful freedom of being unburdened by the world surrounding you.
“Parasite,” a frenetic and pummeling ripper that they filmed at The Opera House in Toronto.
“Pulse,” a furious roar, full of the anxious and uncertain dread that was familiar to daily life during the Trump Administration.
“Framed by the Comet’s Tail,” Atlas Vending’s most punk-like song, centered around the bitter recrimination and heartache of betrayal and the desperate desire to just say “Fuck all of this!” and start over.

The JOVM mainstays closed out 2020 with an explosive live session for KEXP that they recorded at Palace Sound, which features a handful of the album’s singles performed live. KEXP recently released the video — and it makes me miss live shows immensely. I suspect it’ll make you miss live shows, too.

New Video: Aluna Teams Up with Kaytranada and Rema on a Sultry Club Banger

London-born and -based singer/songwriter Aluna Francis a.k.a. Aluna, is best known as one-half of the critically acclaimed and commercially successful electronic music duo AlunaGeorge. The past year/year-and-half or so have seen momentous changes for the London-based singer/songwriter: last year, Francis gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Amaya — and earlier this year, the acclaimed singer/songwriter announced that she would be releasing material as a solo material, building up buzz for her solo debut, Renaissance, which was released by Mad Decent back in August.

2020 has been a momentous year for Francis: singles off Renaissance have amassed over 30 million streams globally and radio airplay in over 30 countries, including BBC Radio 1, Triple J, KCRW, KEXP, Sirius XM’s BPM and Capital’s Capital Dance. Those singles have been playlisted on Spotify’s New Music Friday in over 20 counties — and she was placed on the cover of their Mint and Massive Dance Hits playlists. She also has been featured on Amazon Music’s Nectar and Apple Music’s New Music Daily playlists.

Back in June, Francis penned an open letter to the global dance community, demanding that the community re-assess platforms and positioning of Black creators within the dance world. “When I started looking at all the challenges I face being a black woman making dance I realized I wanted to do more than just create a space for myself – I want all black people to know that the genre of dance is their heritage and they should feel included and encouraged to create under that banner by expanding the genre to be culturally and racially inclusive,” the acclaimed British artist wrote.

And adding to busy year. Francis launched her own personally curated all Black, POC& F and women-led virtual electronic music festival, ALUNA & FRIENDS: RODEO RAVE, which featured DJ sets from BAMBII, GuiltyBeatz, UNIIQU3, Lady Bee, Kiddy Smile, Austin Millz and a live set from Francis, live streamed on Twitch from the Compton Cowboys Ranch in Los Angeles.

“Originally, putting together my dream festival line up (Black, POC and women DJs who play dope dance music) was an incredible goal, a chance to show exactly how I see the future of mainstream dance festivals.” Francis explains. “Then we found out the Compton Cowboys we’re down to help us put the festival on and all of a sudden you have this parallel of two black people in totally different worlds doing the same thing — re-invigorating the inclusion of black people in a space where we had been erased. Getting to connect like this is really what music should always be about — bringing people together. This is gonna be an epic cultural moment for myself and anyone who is looking forward to the future of dance music.”

Continuing upon that incredibly momentum, Renaissance’s latest single “The Recipe” finds the acclaimed London-based artist teaming up with equally acclaimed producer KAYTRANADA and Nigerian singer/songwriter Rema on a sultry and slinky Afropop and reggae- inspired banger, featuring glistening synth arpeggios, clinking percussion and an infectious hook. And at its core, the song is a feminist anthem, centered around an unvarnished and honest admission of what the song’s narrator — and in turn, creator — needs two make a relationship successful.

“It’s quite a girl power track,” Aluna exclaims in press notes. “As someone who has an inferiority complex and difficulty feeling confident, I’m introducing myself as a new person. I decided, ‘Be honest. Don’t pretend you’re a chill, low-key, and low-maintenance person, because you’re simply not. You’re an absolute basket case, and you need it all, or the relationship won’t work’.”

Directed by Reggie, the duo of Clay Dirske and Jake Herman, the recently released video for “The Recipe” draws from an eclectic array of sources visually and thematically — in particular, Renaissance-era France, Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, the Elizabethan era and others but with gorgeous Black people in the frilly finery. I’m fucking here for it, y’all. “I wanted to play with the way history has been dictated to us. Growing up in England you are constantly exposed to glamorous white history of period dramas without a black person in sight,” the acclaimed British artist explains in press notes. “I feel that since the British Empire was so heavily funded by slavery that history is ours too, we’ve just never been pictured in the finery…and I wanted to see what that would look like.”

The director team of Reggie adds, “This video brings together a lot of elements that you wouldn’t necessarily find in one place, but when combined create something magical. We drew inspiration from Aluna’s album name, Renaissance, the Elizabethan era, dancehall, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Busby Berkely, The Wiz and more. We were very fortunate to collaborate with an incredible cast and crew. Our choreographer Chris Emile, captured the energy of the song and the idea perfectly.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Palace Winter Release a Lysergic Visual for Anthemic New Single “Top of the Hill”

I’ve written quite a bit about the  Copenhagen, Denmark-based pop duo Palace Winter — Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born, Copenhagen-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager — over the past few years. The act can trace its origins to the duo’s mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work throughout a number of different projects. Naturally, that mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work, led to the duo working together. 

Coleman and Hesselager released their Palace Winter debut single in 2015 — but the following year was a breakthrough year for the Copenhagen-based duo: they released their EP Meditation and full-length debut Waiting for the World to Turn to critical praise from The Guardian, NME, The Line of Best Fit, and airplay from KCRW, KEXP, Norway’s P3, Denmark’s P6, as well as by BBC Radio personalities Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft. Adding to a growing profile, the duo have a Hype Machine #1 single under their belts, have opened for Noel Gallagher, and have made appearances across the European festival circuit, including sets at Guy Garvey’s curated Meltdown Festival, Roskilde Festival, Green Man Festival, Sziget Festival, Latitude Festival and Secret Garden Party among others.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Coleman and Hesselager released their sophomore album, 2018’s Nowadays. Arguably one of my favorite albums of the year, the album’s material found the duo expanding upon the sound and songwriting approach that won them praise, as they paired breezy, melodic, radio friendly pop with dark thematic concerns — in particular, the loss of innocence as one becomes an adult, with its accompanying tough and sobering lessons; the freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their live and destiny. But this was all underpinned by the inconsolable grief of profound loss. The album suggests a couple of things that I’ve learned about life in my 41 years : Life is ultimately about accepting immense, inconsolable loss as part of the price of admission, and somehow you have to figure out some way to move forwards, even its in fits and starts. And that a significant portion of our lives will be spent maneuvering the confusing push and pull between love and lust, with the prerequisite remote, anxiety, bitterness and loathing. Life is never easy and there’s never easy solutions. 

Palace Winter’s highly anticipated, third album . . . Keep Dreaming, Buddy is slated for an October 23, 2020 release through Tambourhinoceros Records — and unlike their preceding albums, . . .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, drawing 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.

“Top of the Hill,” which features a guest spot from Lowly is a perfect example of the album’s literal tale of two cities: shimmering and icy synths and thumping beats and an enormous, arena rock hook are paired with Coleman’s lyrics, which feature volcanic imagery to describe the broiling and bubbling feelings of dissatisfaction, frustration, deceit and distrust that come up in a failing relationship. And yet, throughout there’s the dim chance it could survive — even if it shouldn’t. 

Starring Carla Viola Thurøe, the recently released video follows the actor on a lysergic-tinged walk around Copenhagen’s parks and streets — and we see Thurøe’s attentive gaze shift from crystal balls to flowers, with the Danish actor carefully examining them and their texture. In many ways, the video mirrors Hesselager and Coleman’s writing process with Hesselager walking around Copenhagen figuring out the unfinished instrumentation and beats ins head and how they fit with Coleman’s phone recordings.