Tag: London UK

Inspired by Squid, Fiona Apple, and MGMT among others, rising London-based experimental act Pushpin have developed and established a sound that features elements of post punk, synth-driven psych rock and chamber pop. So far the band has been featured on BBC Radio London, BBC Music Introducing, and Soho Radio. Adding to a growing reputation for crafting forward-thinking and adventurous sound, the members of the band have written and produced theatrical soundtracks at the Camden People’s Theatre — and they’ve provided original compositions for XR London.

The rising British act begins 2021 with the self-produced, self-recorded, self-mixed and self-mastered “Folds.” Featuring thumping, tribal-like toms, snarling and scuzzy guitar lines and fuzzy synths, the breakneck “Folds” is centered around alternating quiet sections with explosive, rousingly anthemic choruses. While thematically the song explores the elusiveness of self-love and affirmation in our world. it manages to simultaneously capture a narrator, who seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown, employing mantras as an attempt to calm himself.

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Release a Hauntingly Gorgeous and Brooding New Single

London-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have managed to bounce between chilly and atmospheric pop and shimmering guitar-driven, desert noir through the release of four albums: 2012’s Creature of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures, 2016’s Dead Blue and 2018’s Slow Air.

The London-based JOVM mainstays’ fifth album The Last Exit is slated for release next Friday through the duo’s Wrecking Light Records. Sonically, the album reportedly continues where its predecessor Slow Air left off — 11 songs centered around shimmering and carefully crafted arrangements of organic instrumentation paired with Tessa Murray’s smoky crooning. Thematically, the album takes the listener of a hypnotic and mesmerizing journey filled with dilapidated and long-abandoned towns, mysterious shapes on the horizon and long trips that blur the lines between what’s there and not there. “We found something out there in the desert – something in the vast landscapes that went on forever,” Greg Hughes says in press notes.

Unsurprisingly, the album’s material was brought into further focus as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. “There’s always something at the end of the road and for us it was this album. Our plans were put on hold – an album set for release, tours, video shoots, travel,” Tessa Murray explains. “We’d been touring nonstop for years, but we were forced to pause everything. We thought the album was finished but with the crisis found new inspiration and started writing again.” Three of the album’s songs — “Crying,” “Static,” and “‘Till We Meet Again” were written during this period and they reflect upon the profound impact of isolation and the human need for social contact and intimacy.

Last year, I wrote about two of the album’s previously released singles:

“The Last Exit,” a cinematic track that sounds like it could have been part of the Slow Air sessions while nodding at Ennio Morricone soundtracks as it evokes large and indifferent skies and dusty, two-lane blacktop baking in the sun.
“Crying,” which was written during pandemic-related shutdowns and quarantines and captures the uncertainty, boredom, loneliness, heartache and regrets of not having much to do or anyplace to go — and obsessively neurotic self-examination inspired by those endless, lonely hours. And while continuing in the vein of Slow Air, the track also nods at Strange Pleasures.

“White Sands,” The Last Exit’s third and latest single is a classic, ghost story of a phantom who roams the dunes and desert highways for eternity, frightening travelers and drifters, who pass her. The track is a fittingly cinematic track centered around glistening atmospherics, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a rapid-fire beat paired with Murray’s wistful and achingly melancholy crooning. Much like the material on Slow Air, “White Sands” is a brooding yet breathtakingly gorgeous song that evokes long and silent drives through nothing much but your own thoughts and regrets.

The JOVM mainstays released a gorgeous and cinematic lyric video for “White Sands” shot in the desert, with Murray superimposed as a spectral vision just over the horizon. The visual also feature the song’s lyrics in English and translated in Spanish.

LIve Footage: Brazil’s WRY at Febre Festival 2020

With the release of their first five albums, 1998’s Direct, 2000’s Heart Experience, 2007’s Flames in the Head, 2009’s She Science and 2018’s National Indie Hits, the Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil-based psych rock quartet WRY — Mario Bross (vocals, guitar), Luciano Marcello (guitar), Ítalo Ribero (drums) and William Leonotti (bass) — have been at the forefront of Brazil’s contemporary rock scene while developing a sound indebted to Brit Pop, shoegaze and post-punk.

The members of WRY have also spent several years living and working in London, and as a result of a growing internationally recognized profile, they went on several tours across the UK and Continental Europe, eventually making their rounds of the European festival circuit with a notable stop at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound. Additionally, along with their recorded output and profile, the members of the Brazilian psych rock act own a popular club, which has frequently hosted their internationally acclaimed countrymen, JOVM mainstays Boogarins.

The Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil-based psych rock act released their sixth album Noites Infinitas earlier this year, and the album’s material touches upon themes of anxiety, despair and unconventional paths towards hope, while living in our fractious and divisive world. The band released a handful of singles off the album, including two singles I’ve personally written about:

“Travel:” Brit Pop-like single centered around a motorik groove and a rousingly anthemic hook.
“I feel invisible:” a shimmering New Wave meets shoegaze-like track featuring shimmering guitars fed through reverb and delay pedals that captures a narrator, who’s been oppressed and hemmed in by a society that won’t allow him to live his life in a truthful fashion.

Recently, the members of WRY played a career-spanning live-streamed set for Febre Festival that featured my two favorite songs off their recently released album, as well as some other material. Check it out.

Jim Casanova is a Paris-based experimental pop singer/songwriter, producer and mixing engineer. Casanova has been rather busy over the past year or so: he released his solo debut single “GTI” through London-based label Femme Culture. He has released a series of singles with Casanova Kidd, his collaboration with Raph Kidd — including “Guatemala,” which he recently remixed.

Casanova capped off a busy year with the release of his debut EP Canimorsus. The EP’s latest single “Le Vieux Monde,” feat. Serujío features lyrics and spoken word portions in Portuguese, French and English paired with a mid-tempo, hook-driven trap meets Caribbean production: shimmering synths, skittering beats and clang and clatter. Interestingly, the song is a slick balance of deliberate craft and inspired improvisation.

remove2020 – Casanova Kidd’s “Guatemala” remix https://open.spotify.com/track/7uKJyWqE1grGAo2lu6smbP?si=3Ii-BEnGTwaQXzcqozEzSQ 2019 – Latest single “GTI” released on UK based label Femme Culture. https://open.spotify.com/track/22K92gLoUya4LR1leq1yZP?si=bGg64nsjS6Wf6HINB3j4xQ

New Audio: Elephant Tree’s Scorching Live Version of “Aphotic Blues” off “Day of Doom” Live Album

London-based doom metal/stoner rock quartet Elephant Tree — currently founding members Jack Townley (bass, guitar) and Sam Hart (drums) with Peter Holland (bass, vocals) and John Slattery (guitar, synths) – can trace its origins back to 2013: Townley and Hart would meet every week at a rehearsal space nestled behind the now demolished 12 Bar Club, where they actually started cobbling the first notes of what would eventually become their debut single “Attack of the Altacia.”

Townley and Slattery had a random encounter with Peter Holland, who had an almost mythical status in the scene at a local bar. After talking for a few hours, they all agreed that they should get together to jam. The idea was further cemented after the trio caught OM play at The Village Underground — with Holland taking bass duties, allowing Townley to switch to guitar. As a newly constituted trio, the members of Elephant Tree began polishing “Attack of the Altacia”‘s rough edges before progressing onto newer riffs and melodic ideas paired with Holland’s vocals. And yet, the trio felt something was missing from their sound — until they met Canadian-born Riley MacIntyre (guitar, sitar, vocals), who competed the band’s first lineup.

In 2015, Elephant Tree was handpicked by Magnetic Eye Records from an early demo submission that featured a unique blend of stoner rock, doom metal and sludge centered around a warm, syrupy fuzz and soaring vocal harmonies. Their debut effort Theia and 2016 self-titled effort wound up becoming two of the most popular records of the Magnetic Eye Records’ catalog.

Although the band has gone through a series of lineup changes, their third album, this year’s critically applauded Habits finds the band’s sound and stylistic range expanding to include elements of post-metal and acoustic folk paired with unconventional songwriting.

Last year, Magnetic Eye Records celebrated their first decade with the Day of Doom Showcase at Saint Vitus Bar, which featured nine of the label’s acts including the Swedish doom metal act DOMKRAFT and Elephant Tree. Much like DOMKRAFT’s Day of Doom set, the British quartet’s set was recored by Deafheaven‘s and Summoner’s Chris Johnson as part of a set of four exclusive live albums. Elephant Tree’s Day of Doom set is a career-spanning set of what Metal Injection describes as “gloomy atmosphere with head-bobbing grooves.”

“Aphotic Blues,” is the first single off Elephant Tree’s live album and the single is centered around syrupy and sludgy power chords, thunderous drumming, Alice in Chains-like harmonizing within an expansive song structure. And its all delivered with a snarling forcefulness.

New Video: Follow Mera Bhai on a Surreal Day-in-the-Life Journey

Karthik Poduval is a London-born, Indian-British DJ and producer, and founder of the acclaimed tropical psych rock/psych pop act Flamingods. Poduval’s solo recording project Mera Bhai derives its name from the affectionate Hindi greeting, which translates into “my brother.” The project is informed by Poduval’s experiences as a global citizen: he has lived in Italy, Albania, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Nigeria and of course, the UK — and naturally, that has deeply informed his own globe-trotting, border-crossing, genre-defying take on dance music, which incorporates elements of Indian Carnatic, Arabic Rai, 70s disco, acid house, Detroit echo and Tropicalila. “Having grown up all over the world, I was surrounded by a wealth of different sounds — I’m just trying to weave the cultural through line that I hear in music,” Poduval says.

Poduval’s Mera Bhai debut Futureproofing EP was released earlier this year through Moshi Moshi Records, and if you’ve been frequenting this site this year, you may recall that I’ve written about two of the EP’s singles:

A bootleg remix of Ahmed Fakroun‘s “Jama El F’na,” which retained the shimming instrumentation of the original and Fakroun’s vocals while pairing them with a Tour de France-era Kraftwerk/Primal Scream/Kasabian-like production, featuring layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats and industrial clatter. The original is a club banger — but the remix manages to sound as thought it comes from some mixtape that someone brought back from 2038.
“Mañana Groove,” a summery, club anthem centered around an expansive and mind-bending structure that featured shimmering synth arpeggios, hot hi-hat flashes, stuttering tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with vocodered vocals and samples from a Mr. Bongo Records reissue of Cissé Abdoulaye’s “A Son Magni.” And while to my ears, the song sounds as though it one part Kraftwerk, one part Evil Heat-era Primal Scream and one part deep house, the song as Poduval explains was inspired by Todd Terje‘s “Inspector Norse” while also nodding at 808 State’s “Pacific State,” one of Poduval’s favorite anthems, “which frames summertime feels for me.” And as a result of its summery air, the track at its core, possesses a carefree “let’s worry about it all tomorrow” vibe.

The EP’s latest single, is EP title track “Futureproofing.” The track is a hypnotic, club anthem centered around an insistent, motorik-groove, stuttering four on the floor, shimmering synth arpeggios and trippy instrumental breaks featuring fluttering flute and twinkling sitar. Sonically, the track further establishes Poduval’s hypnotic, globalist and multicultural take on dance music — all while pushing electronic dance music towards a bright and inclusive future.

\“In spirit, the track is about trying to find a balance between the push and pull of life’s responsibilities,” Poduval explains. “I wrote it when I was in India on my escape from the UK and trying to balance constantly being on tour, my relationships, my job and my mental health, and still very much in the process of grieving lost family members. Fortunately, all aspects of my life have been incredibly forgiving to me, but this track feels like an apt representation of the push and pull of things.“

Directed by frequent Fat White Family visual collaborator Niall Trask, the recently released video for “Futureproofing” is fictional and surreal day-in-the-life affair shot on grainy videotape that follows Poduval on a series of adventures as a celebrity chef/influencer that features cameos by My Panda Shall Fly’s Suren Seneviratne and Wear by Local’s Saudi Rahman. Interestingly, while Poduval is busy with Flamingods and Mera Bhai, he has a day job as a chef — and as a result, the video is a bit of a tongue-in-check play on the duality of having a serious day job and being an artist. Along with that, the video is an extended joke on the delusions of grandeur and inflated ego that can come about if you happen to be a remotely successful artist.

“Mera Bhai contacted my agent Desmond Wolf with an idea for a cooking show which I initially refused. After 7 months of no work because of coronavirus I decided I might as well, Niall Trask explains. “As an artist I’m really interested in exploring difficult issues through my work. This piece allowed me to explore subjects such as toxic masculinity, environmental issues, fracking and body dysmorphia. Rather than through the mise-en-scène, I was able to tackle these issues once I was asked by press for a quote and realised I had nothing to say because my brain is empty, so I thought I would appropriate these subjects like everyone else in the world of music videos does.”

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Black Pumas on Tiny Desk (at Home)

Over the past year or so, I’ve spilled a ton of virtual ink covering the Grammy Award-nominated Austin, TX-based soul act and JOVM mainstays, Black Pumas over the past year. Led by Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada and San Fernando Valley-born singer/songwriter and guitarist Eric Burton, the acclaimed act can trace their origins back to 2017.

Burton, who grew up singing in church and in musical theater, started busking at the Santa Monica pier, where he brought in a few hundred dollars a day while developing the stage presence, that would later win attention both nationally and internationally. He then traveled across the Western US, eventually relocating to Austin, where he set up a busking spot on 6th Street and Congress, a prime location in the city’s busy downtown neighborhood for maximum exposure.

Meanwhile Quesada was looking to collaborate with someone new. He had been reaching out to friends in Los Angeles and London but nothing seemed to fit. Serendipitously, a mutual friend recommended Burton to Quesada, with that friend telling Quesada that Bruton was the best vocalist he had ever heard. As the story goes, Quesada had reached out to Burton, but it took the San Fernando Valley-born, Austin-based singer/songwriter a while to respond. “My friends were like ‘Dude, you’re a mad man, you need to hit that guy back!’” Burton recalls. When Burton did call Quesada, he sang to him over the phone. “I loved his energy, his vibe, and I knew it would be incredible on record,” Quesada says. “From the moment I heard him on the phone, I was all about it.”

Last year, the duo along with a talented cast of collaborators released their breakthrough full-length debut. And since the self-titled debut’s release, the album has sold 155,000+ album equivalents worldwide, with smash hit “Colors” hitting #1 on Adult Album Alternative (AAA) radio and has been streamed over 60 million times. They also maintained a relentless tour schedule across North America that brought their uplifting and powerful live show to New York three times: The Knitting Factory, last May; Mercury Lounge, last July; and Brooklyn Bowl last September. Additionally, the band began to make stops across the nationally televised, talk show circuit, playing Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Ellen Show and others.

And adding to a breakthrough year, Black Pumas earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist along with fellow JOVM mainstay Yola — with both acts anti-climatically losing out to Billie Eilish.

This year has seen the release of a deluxe version of their breakthrough self-titled album — and it features new artwork, previously unpublished in-studio and live performance photographs and a bonus 7 inch featuring three previously unreleased originals, live in-studio versions of popular album singles “Colors,” “October 33,” and “Confines;” a live version of “Know You Better,” recorded at C-Boys Heart & Soul, the Austin club, where the band first made a name for themselves, as well as attention-grabbing covers of The Beatles‘ “Eleanor Rigby,” (a staple of their live shows), Death’s “Politicians in My Eyes,” Bobby “Blue” Bland‘s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City,” and Tracy Chapman‘s “Fast Car,” which they premiered on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Continuing upon an enviable run of success, Black Pumas recently received three nominations for the 2021 Grammys — Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best American Roots Performance for “Colors.” And they’ve capped off the year with an NPR Tiny Desk (At Home) session that featured album singles “Fire,” “Oct 33,” and “Colors,” as well as set opener “Red Rover.” And although they’re performing in an empty studio — it’s a pandemic after all — the NPR set is fueled by the same passionate and soulful spirit of their live sets.

New Video: Hilang Child Releases a Hallucinogenic Visual for Shimmering “King Quail”

Ed Riman is a half-Welsh, half-Indonesian, London-based singer/songwriter, soundscape artist and creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project Hilang Child, which derives its name from the Malay word for “missing.” Initially starting his recording career as a drummer, the acclaimed London-based singer/songwriter and soundscape artist’s early solo work caught the attention of Cocteau Twins’, Lost Horizons’ and Bella Union Records head Simon Raymonde, who championed Riman — and then invited him to collaborate on Lost Horizon’s debut effort Ojalá.

Largely influenced by Imogen Heap, Bat for Lashes, Steve Reich, Paul Thomas Saunders, Hundred Waters, Nobuo Uematsu and The Beach Boys’ Smile, Riman’s early work drew comparisons to Fleet Foxes and Sigur Rós — with the London-based singer/songwriter and soundscape artist’s sound displaying a similar ethereal spaciousness paired with yearning vocals. Riman’s Hilang Child debut, 2018’s Years was a leap forward with the material featuring multi-tracked harmonies while featuring a loose overacting theme of embracing adulthood. At the time, Riman strongly believed that in order to achieve the sound he wanted, he had to produce his debut himself, despite having little knowledge of production.

Although Years continued an impressive run of material released to lavish praise from the likes of BBC’s Lauren Laverne, Q Magazine, MOJO and a long list of others, Riman found the album’s creative process to be isolating. Feeling pressured and alone in the aftermath of Years, Riman found himself rapping with self-esteem issues and anxiety, amplified by social media’s “fulfillment narratives.”With his highly-anticipated, JMAC co-produced sophomore album Every Mover, Riman changed things up radically. Thematically, Every Mover reportedly sees Riman navigating and overcoming these mindsets while drawing deeply on his own insecurities and those he recognized in others.

Inspired and informed by his experience creating Years, Riman’s sophomore album finds the London-based artist hungry to find new ways to create, write and record music, collaborating with an eclectic array of equally acclaimed artists. “The greatest thing about being a musician is experiencing it with other people,” Riman says. “Whether that’s playing with others, creating together, sharing a vision, whatever, I just think in all aspects it’s a totally elevated experience when you’re not alone.”

As Riman says of Every Mover, “I wanted it to sound a bit gutsier than the first album. Heavier and closer to the kind of stuff that hits me when I go to shows or blast music in the car. I started out in music as a drummer playing for pop or beat-driven artists and grew up listening to louder stuff, but a lot of the music I’ve made as Hilang Child has been more ethereal. I wanted to bring it back to a place that feels more ‘me’ and make more of a thing of having big hypnotic drums, aggressive bass, ripping distorted instruments and a general energy to it.”

“King Quail,” Every Mover’s fifth and latest single is a glittering, motorik groove-driven bit of spacey shoegaze centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, Riman’s self-assured yet plaintive and ethereal vocals, twinkling and an enormous Brit Pop-like hook paired with deeply introspective lyrics.

“King Quail’ is about taking a step back and realizing the absurdity of modelling one’s life and appearance around what you think others want to see, rather than living for yourself,” Riman explains in press notes. “It’s about learning to be comfortable the way you are, breaking away from that fear of rejection and the feeling that we have to exaggerate ourselves into some showpiece to gain the validation of others. The song started one night in Wyldest frontwoman Zoe Mead’s basement studio in Greenwich. I had this OP-1 loop and a motorik 808 beat, which I’d been messing around with for a while. We spent the night jamming over it and shaping it into a psychedelic, krautrocky pop-song with Zoe adding spacey guitar and myself reworking the drums, allowing the groove to loosen up. We ended up using a large chunk of the demo in the final version with my co- producer JMAC (Troye Sivan, Haux, Lucy Rose) adding some finishing touches to hone the song.”

Directed by Riman and filmed by Elliot Tatler, the recently released video or “King Quail” features a spectral Riman on a rocky, very English beach. Rapidly switching between a shirtless Riman, Riman wearing a blue shirt and Riman in a blue shirt and headdress-like covering, we see the rising British artist moving as though he were performing an ancient ritual through the influence of hallucinogens.

Every Mover is slated for a January 8, 2021 release through Bella Union.