Tag: London UK

Currently comprised of founding trio Jack Lantern (vocals), James Burgess (guitar), and Tom Pitts (guitar) with new additions Victor Jakeman (bass), Tom Pitt (drums) and Sev Black (keys), the London-based punk act Claw Marks can trace their origins to when its founding trio were in Austin, TX for SXSW with different bands back in 2013 — Lantern and Pitts were members of Human Hair, while Burgess was a member of Boneyards. As the story goes, Lantern, Burgess and Pitts got lost waling down a highway in the Texan desert when they came to the realization that they wanted to make something much more aggressive, that would channel the likes of Swans and The Birthday Party, but while maintaining the pop sensibility that won Human Hair attention. Ultimately, they felt the need to prove that you can make records that could sound like The Jesus Lizard or The Pop Group — without taking yourself too seriously.

For several years, the band primarily existed as a live outfit, playing raucous, riotous shows across their native London — including a memorable 3am first gig at an abandoned pub. “It was my birthday, and intoxicants may have been involved,” the band’s Jack Lantern recalls. “The show cemented us as a band, because we were playing in the confines of a place that was so similar to the spine of what we were trying to put across. The place was dilapidated, the walls were falling down, and when we started playing, the ceiling started shaking, and dust was raining down on us. And then somebody let off a fire extinguisher halfway through the set, and we were covered in dust and foam.”

With the addition of Jakeman, Pitt and Black, the band continued to develop their overall aesthetic, balancing a chaotic live, stage presence with very specific ideas about lyrical imagery and content. “It’s abotu putting weird images to song,” Lantern, who is also a poet says in press notes. “Usually, they’re a bit disgusting – an armpit full of lice, for example. Or a crab covering your arsehole and stopping anybody from trying to climb in there. We’ve got one song about evil, silent cops staring us down while rubbing their truncheons in their mouths. You know, that kind of thing.”

However, their debut album together has taken five years to write and record — with some of the songs dating back to when the band first started. The members of the band kept returning to East London’s Sound Savers Studio, where they were afforded time and space by co-owner Henry Withers, who was a former bandmate of Lantern’s, to continually refine the material, and eventually their overall sound. In fact, every time they returned, the songs evolved in a rather unpredictable fashion. “I’ve been telling people that the album aged like a fine wine, because it took so long to come together,” Lantern says. “But actually, I’d liken it more now to a slab of rotten meat. We allowed it to fester, and every time we came back to it, there’d be more flies buzzing around it, and this new form of bacteria growing on the chords.”

Ultimately, Claw Marks long-anticipated full-length album Hee Hee reportedly is an unapologetically and nasty collection of punk rock songs that thematically speaking range from the absurd to the political — but much like Tom Waits, the songs having a fucked up, off-kilter, whiskey-fueled vibe. “Swallow U,” Hee Hee‘s latest single is noisy and furious punk rock centered around distortion bathed guitar chords, forceful drumming and howled lyrics and while sonically, the song brings to mind Rollins Band‘s Weight and Get Some Go Again but with an absurdist bent, as the song according to the band is literally about a man who walks down the street, eating everything in his path. What makes the track intriguing to me is the fact that it effortlessly meshes art rock with furious, mosh pit friendly punk.

 

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New Video: The Debaucherous and Absurd Visuals for Tempesst’s “A Little Bit of Trouble”

Initially based around Queensland, Australia-born, founding members and twin siblings Toma Banjamin (vocals, guitar) and Andy Banjamin (drums), the up-and-coming psych rock/psych pop quintet Tempesst completed their lineup when the Benjamin Brothers relocated to London, where they eventually recruited Eric Weber (guitar), Kane Reynolds (keys) and Blake Misipeka (bass) to fill out the band’s lineup.  The Australian/British quintet’s 2017 debut EP, Adult Wonderland was released to critical praise in the UK — and as result of the growing buzz surrounding them, they wound up opening of the likes of The Veils, Temper Trap, GUM, and Albert Hammond, Jr., and they played showcases at The Great Escape, the NME Awards and Live at Leeds, as well as sets at Bushstock, Southsea Fest, and Hackney Wonderland.

Slated for release later this month, the band’s Doomsday EP is slated for a July 27, 2018 release and the effort, which was tracked over the course of a breakneck 4 days earlier this year reportedly finds the band expanding upon both their songwriting and sound,  adding instruments and layers to the proverbial sonic palette.  While maintaining elements of the 60s and 70s sound that won them attention across the UK, the Australian/British outfit manages to subtly modernize it, with subtle nods to contemporary psych rock and psych pop, as well as folk and indie rock. Interestingly, the EP thematically finds the up-and-coming band dealing with an increasing awareness of their own mortality. As the band’s Toma Banjamin says in press notes, “I have been caught in a ‘meaning of life’ spiral, which I guess is pretty normal in your 20s. It’s the first time that I’ve felt so aware of my mortality and it probably doesn’t help that the Facebook and Netflix algorithms keep feeding me documentaries on the topic.” In some way, that sense of mortality shouldn’t be surprising in a world that seems to be inching towards annihilation.

The EP’s latest single “A Little Bit of Trouble” is a decidedly 70s AM rock-inspired song centered around a jangling and shimmering guitar line, a stunningly gorgeous string line that emphasizes a soaring hook, and an easy going yet shuffling groove, but underneath the breezy vibes is a song that’s deeply rooted in a sense of regret and shame. There’s the sense that the song’s narrator repeatedly finds himself in similar, ridiculous situations — and that he has the awareness that he’s only doing it to himself. And as a result, he’s resolved to clean up his life, stop the foolishness and grow up.  Interestingly, the song as the band’s Toma Banjamin explains was inspired by a real life incident, “The week we started writing the instrumentals for the track we had a bit of an incident at a pub in East London. Some guys were giving Andy a hard time about his jacket or hat or something and everyone was pretty drunk. The song was written to capture the memory for eternity.”

The recently released video follows a male exotic dancer as he confidently struts to the strip club, like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever but as the video progresses, it’s clear that the dancer’s confidence is a superficial facade, as he performs in front of a drunk and generally listless crowd, who are daring him to impress them — with something other than what he’s actually doing. Yes, it’s tongue in cheek but it manages to point out a larger absurdity that any performer should immediately recognize.

Deriving their name from a line in Jules Verne’s 2000 Leagues Under The Sea — “There’s a powerful agent, obedient, rapid, easy, which conforms to every use, and reigns supreme on board my ship. Everything is done by means of it. It lights it, it warms it, and is the soul of my mechanical vessel. This agent is electricity.” — the London-based synth pop act Everything by Electricity can trace its origins to when its founding member Yulia, who grew up in post-Soviet Siberia, loving music and desperately wanting to create music; in fact, a young Yulia was essentially blacklisted for having behavioral problems amongst peers involved in crime and hard drug use — for playing an electric guitar and wearing a Kurt Cobain hoodie. Initially, the project started as a solo, bedroom recording project until she recruited Daniel (bass guitar, synthesisers) and Manoela (drums, pads) to become a fully fleshed out band.

Unsurprisingly, the British synth pop trio’s material draws from its Siberian-born founder and primary songwriter’s experiences, particularly the alienation and loneliness of being misunderstood and singled out for being different from her peers. The band’s moody and cinematic new single “Place to Call My Own” focuses on a narrator, who escapes to find solace in London, where she could freely express herself through music. Sonically, the track finds the trio pairing Yulia’s achingly lonely and wistful vocals with swirling and shimmering synths and precise, mechanical drum programming; but at its core is a bittersweet realization that while she may be able to express herself as she’s always felt fit that on a certain level, she’s still as lonely and misunderstood.

Interestingly, as the band’s frontwoman and primary songwriter says of the song, “I wrote this song a long time in Siberia, before I moved to London. Initially, I didn’t intend for it to be a track I’d record and ultimately finish – it had just been sitting incomplete in an old lyric book for years. I recently came across the same book and found this unfinished song; it haunted me for days, I couldn’t take my mind off it, so dropped what I was currently working on and brought ‘Place To Call My Own’ to life.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Still Corners Release Gorgeously Cinematic Visuals for Shimmering and Brooding New Single

Over the course of their first three albums, 2012’s Creatures of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures and 2016’s Dead Blue, the London-based duo Still Corners, comprised of vocalist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes, have developed a reputation for crafting incredibly atmospheric and moody dream pop/synth pop centered around Murray’s smoky vocals and shimmering atmospherics.

Deriving its name from the sultry Texas summer days and nights and slated for an August 17, 2018 release through their own Wrecking Light label, the duo’s fourth album Slow Air was written in Austin, TX, and the album reportedly finds the band making a decided return to early form, as the band leans heavily towards arrangements that emphasize both eclectic and acoustic guitars, live drumming and a minimal use of synthesizers. Recorded in a new studio designed by Hughes, the recorded sessions inspired a minimalist and fluid approach in which they used a variety of old and new microphones while making sure that they didn’t overthink the process; in fact, they’ve managed to keep the inevitable mistakes on the album to remind the listener of the material’s emotionality — and the fact that living, breathing, feeling humans made it. Interestingly, the band recorded and mixed the album in three months, the fastest they’ve ever done, and as you’ll hear on the “Black Lagoon,” the song possesses a previously unheard urgency while retaining the shimmering and moody atmospherics that they’ve been known for. As Tessa Murray says of the album in press notes, “we wanted to hear beautiful guitar and drums and an otherworldliness, something about indefinable, along with a classic songwriting vibe. We’re always trying to get the sound we hear inside of ourselves, so we moved fast to avoid our brains getting in the way too much. The name Slow Air evokes the feel of the album to me, steady, eerie and beautiful.”

Directed and filmed by the members of Still Corners on a small handheld cinema camera, the recently released and stunningly cinematic video follows Murray and Hughes as they they travel across the deserts of Texas, Arizona and California to the ocean in a classic, white convertible Mustang.  And goddamn it, is it gorgeous.

New Video: Introducing the Genre Defying Globalist Sounds of Ekiti Sound

Leke a.k.a CHif is a Lagos -born, London-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer/songwriter, who has carefully honed his skills with a variety of artists and producers both in Europe and Africa, and briefly as a sound designer in Nollywood — and unsurprisingly, all of Leke’s experiences have influenced his solo recording project Ekiti Sound, a project that finds him adding his name to a growing list of genre-blurring artists that draw from an eclectic array of sources — while being undeniably Nigerian; in fact,  the slickly produced “Ife,” Leke’s latest single off his forthcoming Ekiti Sound debut Abe No Vex pairs thumping tweeter and woofer rocking Chicago house music, African polyrhythm, arpeggiated synths and an anthemic, club rocking hook with shouted traditional lyrics by frequent collaborator Prince G, creating a seamless (but incredibly subtle) synthesis across the African Diaspora. As Leke explains “Ife” in Yoruba means “the greatest love,” and the swaggering club banger manages to gently swoon a bit at its core, as it promotes the sort of love that should unify all creatures on this planet.

Directed by Sam Campbell, the recently released video for “Ife,” was shot on location in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos State and features three beautiful. traditional Nigerian dancers, who do some of the traditional dances of the Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa tribes with an infectious and life affirming energy.

 

New Video: French Electro Pop Duo Synapson Teams Up with Sengalese Singer/Songwriter Lass on a Breezy and Genre-Defying Single

Synapson is a French electronic music production and artist duo, comprised of Alexandre Chiere (keys, saxophone, beats, vocals) and Paul Cucuron (drums, turntables, production and mixing) and since their formation in 2009, the duo have been critically and commercially successful — they’ve sold over 150,000 physical copies and have amassed over 100 million streams; however, they may be best known for their remake/re-work of Burkinabe singer/songwriter and musician Victor Deme’s “Djon’maya,” which they renamed “Djon Maya Mai,” and their original track “All In You,” featuring Anna Kova. Both tracks were smash hits in the duo’s native France, as they charted at #12 and #10 respectively. 

The duo’s soon-to-be released album Super 8 will further cement their reputation for a sound that possesses elements of nu-disco, deep house but it finds them at their most ambitious, as they collaborate with a diverse, international cast including French act M83’s Mai-Lan,  Archive’s Holly, Kaleem Taylor, L. Marshall, Idyllwild’s Casey Abrams, Miami-born, Paris-based rapper Beat Assailant, Jamaica-born, London-based Taneisha lJackson, Tim Dup, Haute’s Tessa B. and Blasé, Sengalese singer/songwriter Lass and a list of others. 

Super 8’s latest single “Souba” synthesis of French electro pop, house music and Afropop as its centered around a slick yet soulful production featuring a looped, shimmering guitar line, a sinuous bass line, thumping beats and a club rocking and radio friendly hook. And unsurprisingly, the two step inducing track will remind the listener that electronic dance music translates language and culture, and that perhaps most important, it’s music that’s always a beneficial unifying force. Additionally, the track will establish the duo on a growing list of French electronic music acts that blur genre lines with a globe spanning bent. 

The recently released video employs a simple but endearing concept — we see Lass and the members of Synapson hanging out in and around a prototypical European car. At points the videos features the members of the trio brooding, but for the most part they’re hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. 

 

I’ll be pretty busy today, as I’ll be in Coney Island for an annual rite of summer here in New York City — The Mermaid Parade. I’m sure that there’ll be some Instagram posts until I actually get a chance to edit the photos — but in the meantime, let’s get to the business at hand, right? Now, over the past 18 months or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the Paris-born, London-based singer/songwriter Sophie Baudry, whose solo recording project Million Miles is the culmination of a life-long love affair with soul music.

After completing her studies at  Berklee College and a stint as a recording engineer and studio musician in New York, Baudry returned to London, where she felt an irresistible pull to write music inspired by Ray Charles and Bill Withers.  On an inspired whim, Baudry, took a trip to  Nashville, where she spent her first few days wandering, exploring and reaching out to strangers, as though she were saying “I ’m new here. I’m a songwriter and I’m looking for like-minded people to collaborate with.” As the story goes, Baudry wound up having chance meetings with local songwriters and producers Robin Eaton and Paul Eberson and within an hour or so of their meeting, they began writing material that eventually became the French-born, British-based singer/songwriter’s Million Miles debut EP, Berry Hill, which was recorded over the course of a year during multiple sessions at Robin Eaton’s Berry Hill home studio. And from EP singles “Can’t Get Around A Broken Heart” and “Love Like Yours,” Baudry quickly received attention across the blogosphere, as well as this site, for an easy-going yet deliberately crafted, Sunday afternoon, Soul Train-like soul that nodded equally at the aforementioned Bill Withers and Erykah Badu and Jill Scott.

Baudry’s latest single is the folksy and effortlessly soulful “If Only,” and while being a fitting vehicle for her equally effortless vocals, the hook-driven track is centered around a loose, jam-like arrangement of  funky, Bill Withers-ike strummed guitar, twinkling keys and gentle yet propulsive drumming and a funky bass line and while being an incredibly self-assured track that reveals an artist who is expanding upon her sound and approach, the song evokes the swooning pangs of meet-cute first love, but from the perspective of a narrator, who is over it and too busy to care — or so she tells herself. In some way, the song’s narrator takes on a tough veneer to protect herself from the inevitable. We’ve all been there at some point in our lives and as a result, the song manages to be warmly familiar sonically and thematically.

 

Perhaps best known as a founding member, primary songwriter and frontwoman of renowned indie rock act Howling Bells, along with Glenn Moule (drums), her brother Joel (lead guitar) and Gary Daines (bass guitar), the Sydney, Australia-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Juanita Stein has developed a reputation as a solo artist of note with the release of last year’s solo debut America, an album that thematically focused on the iconography and cultural landscapes of a country that had always fascinated her from afar.

Slated for an August 31, 2018 release through Nude Records, Stein’s sophomore album, Until The Lights Fade will further cement her long-held reputation for crafting twangy and old-timey country-tinged indie rock — but this time, the album thematically speaking is concerned with thoughts, feelings, stories and characters rooted far closer to home. “I feel like the two albums are different sides of the same coin,” Stein explain. “If America was the starting point of a journey — the musical equivalent of me spreading my wings, but also treading carefully, trying to figure myself out having come from such an intense period of camaraderie in the band; then this record is me starting to gain a bit more traction, feeling more confident in where I’m coming from and what is I’m doing.” When the opportunity arose last year to spend a week in Austin, TX with Stuart Sikes, who has worked with Cat Power, The White Stripes, Loretta Lynn, Stein grabbed it. “When you reach a certain point in life and moments like that appear, you have to go with it. Up ’til now, everything I’ve done has been planned and laboured over, but this album was very impromptu, very spur of the moment — a couple of the musicians I was working with, I had only met for the first time that week. It was like nothing I’d ever done before.” Naturally, that impromptu nature of the recording sessions wound up influencing the material’s overall sound — and with album single “Easy Street,” there’s a ramshackle and free-flowing vibe that underlies the material’s deliberate attention to craft that brings to mind 70s AM radio rock, thanks in part to the song’s anthemic hooks, twangy power chords. As Stein says of the song, “‘Easy Street’ was written very immediately. Everything about it felt intuitive and direct. Touring the songs off America for the last couple of years has given me some unique insight into people and their situations. You’re clocking up some good miles across various cities and countries, you see people getting by, doing what they can, being inventive with their realities. Hope/desperation isn’t limited to geography, everyone’s looking for an easy way out essentially. This song is about someone running from their reality and trying to find a better life for themselves.”

Adding to a growing profile as a solo artist, Stein had a recent run of dates opening for The Killers that included a SXSW stop — and since then she’s toured with renowned Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry, made some stops across the international touring circuit that included Latitude Festival, Green Man Festival, and Black Deer Festival. Building up buzz for her sophomore effort, Stein will be playing a number of dates across the UK. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates 
24th     June     Black Deer Festival, Tunbridge Wells
8th       July      TRNSMT Festival, Glasgow
14th     July      Latitude Festival, Southwold
20th     July      Spain, Benicassim Festival
24th     July      Finland, Helsinki Arena (with The Killers)
26th     July      Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Rockhal (with The Killers)
18th     August Green Man Festival, Crickhowell

Several years ago, I wrote about the London-based electro rock/industrial rock trio Blindness, an act that featured Beth Rettig (vocals, programming), Emma Quick (bass) and Debbie Smith (guitar), who also had stints in Curve, Echobelly and Snowpony. After Blindness split up, Rettig started tinkering around with new music and reworking some ideas that she had lying around without much of a plan. As Rettig told me in an email, “Recently, I decided it was probably time to do something with some of the new stuff.” Debbie Smith, her former Blindness bandmate contributed guitars, along with some programming on one of the two singles, Rettig has released with her new project Where We Sleep, a project that Rettig hopes will have her working with other musicians as well. Unsurprisingly, the project draws from some of Rettig’s lifelong influences — Curve, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Nine Inch Nails, PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, Massive Attack, and others.

“Veins,” the first Where We Sleep single finds Rettig collaborating with her former Blindness bandmate Debbie Smith, who contributes some thumping drum programming, arpeggiated synths and buzzing power chords in a sultry and anthemic New Wave-like song that sounds as though it were influenced by Sixousie and the Banshees and Depeche Mode. “Crawl” is a moody and atmospheric track centered around Rettig’s breathy vocals and industrial clang and clatter — and sonically speaking, the song may arguably be the most Depeche Mode-like that she’s released yet.

 

New Video: Goldfrapp Releases Gorgeous and Cinematic Visuals for the Reworked Version of “Ocean” featuring Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan

With the release of 2013’s Tales of Us, Goldfrapp, comprised of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, released one of their most hauntingly cinematic and gorgeous efforts they’ve ever released, as the album’s material found the duo pairing Goldfrapp’s arresting vocals with classical music-inspired arrangements centered around piano and strings, acoustic guitar and occasional electronic flourishes. However, last year’s critically applauded and commercially successful Silver Eye was a striking return to form — and as you may recall Anymore,” the album’s first single featured a slick yet abrasive sound featuring  enormous, thumping 808-like beats, layers of buzzing and undulating synths. Interestingly, “Anymore” much like the rest of the material on the album buzzed with a restless, creative energy and sense of experimentation that was partially the result of the acclaimed duo working with  Grammy-wining producer John Congleton, who has worked with St. Vincent, John Grant and Wild Beasts; as well as collaborations with electronic composer Bobby Krlic, best known as The Haxan Cloak and Leo Abrahams, a guitarist, who has collaborated with Brian Eno.

Album single “Ocean” continued in a similar vein as the song centered around an abrasive and minimalist-leaning production of arpeggiated synths, thunderous beats. As the duo explained to Billboard the song was created during a morning writing and recording session and was originally built from what Goldfrapp called a “a very small improvisation.” “I remember coming into the studio one morning and I think we just had a few drums going and it was really basic,” Goldfrapp recalled. “Will said ‘Do you fancy doing some vocals this morning?’ So I was like, ‘Alright then’ and slightly reluctantly, i went into the vocal both and the words just came out.” And as a result, the song manages to bristle with a furious sense of unpredictability.

July 6, 2016 will mark the release of Silver Eye: Deluxe Edition and while the deluxe edition will include the original album material, there will be a bonus disc of remixes and alternate versions, including a re-recording of “Ocean” that features Depeche Mode‘s Dave Gahan, as well a previously unreleased Will Gregory remix of “Anymore.” Naturally, turning the original song into a duet with Gahan’s and Goldfrapp’s imitable vocals gives the song a harder, darker, moodier, goth edge while still managing to be a straightforward rendition of the song. But perhaps, more important, if you’re a fan of both, it’s the most necessary and effortless collaboration that you needed to hear.

Directed by Alison Goldfrapp, the gorgeous and cinematically shot video for “Ocean” found her returning to Fuerteventura, where the videos for “Anymore” and “Everything Is Never Enough” were shot for her scenes, while she directed Dave Gahan in Madrid during a break in Depeche Mode’s current world tour. As a photographer, the video features some scenery and cinematography that has me jealous. As Alison Goldfrapp says of the video, “I had an amazing time directing Dave in the video for the track and we couldn’t be happier with the end result.”