Tag: Los Angeles CA

Over the past 12-15 months or so, I’ve managed to write quite a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Justin Phillips, best known for his solo recording project Crywolf. When Phillips started writing and releasing his own music. he was practically homeless, living in a room roughly the size of a closet and subsiding on food stamps. Since then, Philips has developed a growing profile that has included amassing several million streams across all of the various streaming platforms, a headlining slot on the second largest stage at Electric Forest and praise across both the blogosphere and the major media outlets, including Consequence of Sound, Alternative PressBillboardNylon, Complexas well as this site.

Now, if you’ve been following this site over that same 12-14 month period, you’d recall that Phillips sophomore album widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. 1]. Interestingly, Phillips recently started a new series, THE OBLIVION [Reimagined], which will feature reworked versions of tracks off widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. 1]. The first single in the series found the Chicago-based producer Mielo tackling “DRIP” — and Mielo’s take is a arpeggiated synth-driven, New Wave-inspired remix that’s cinematic and buoyant, recalling A-Ha’s “Take on Me” and Depeche Mode while retaining the urgency and frenetic feel of the original. The series’ latest single finds Seattle-based producer Levit∆te, known for a sound that meshes dubstep, left-field bass and hip-hop taking on Crywolf’s “ULTRAVIOLENT Pt. II [she sang to me in a language strange].” The original is a slow-burning and atmospheric take on industrial electronica centered around stuttering beats, industrial clang and clatter and Phillips’ plaintive vocals. Levit∆te’s reworking features a glitchy production that features harder hitting beats that gives the song a murky futuristic air — while retaining Philips plaintive vocals. “When I heard ‘ULTRAVIOLENT Pt. II’ it immediately resonated with me,: Levit∆te says in press notes. “Carrying notes of wave music, slight witch house influences and intimate vocals, teh song really resembled a lot of my own music. I really did my best to retain the original message and feeling the song gave me, but refine it through my own filter.”

 

New Video: Surf Curse Releases a Cinematic “Midnight Cowboy” Inspired Visual for Their Latest Single

Comprised of Reno, NV-born, Los Angeles-based duo Nick Rattigan (vocals, drums) and Jacob Rubeck (guitar) the Los Angeles-based indie rock act Surf Curse formed back in 2013 when its core duo started the band in Reno. Since relocating to Los Angeles the band emerged from their adopted hometown’s local DIY, all-ages, punk scene, developing a reputation as one of the region’s best contemporary live acts, amassing a fervent, die-hard following — at first locally and now internationally.

The duo’s forthcoming Jarvis Tavaneire-produced third full-length album Heaven Surrounds You is slated for a September 13, 2019 release through Danger Collective Records and the album is a coming of age epic, inspired by the cult films the duo cherished while growing up in Reno. Sonically, the album reportedly is a bold and decided step forward for the band.  Last month, I wrote about the album’s first single, the swooning and lush “Disco” — and while nodding at The Smiths and others, the song is an urgent love song, evoking the throes and passions of first love with an uncanny accuracy.  

The album’s latest single “Midnight Cowboy” continues on a similar vein as its predecessor: shimmering, hook-driven Smiths-like guitar pop, centered around the narrator’s unfulfilled longing for a different life than the one he currently has — a life of hustling and grifting out of desperate necessity. Written and directed by the band’s Jacob Rubeck, the recently released video for “Midnight Cowboy” was shot by the band’s Nick Rattigan, Julien Kelly and Melissa Ramirez and stars Rubeck and Jamie Simone. Influenced by the 1969 movie of the same name, Rubeck moves to the big city and becomes a prostitute. We follow Rubeck’s character as he meets his various johns — and rationalizes what he does; but we also see him full of regret and self-loathing throughout. 

New Audio: Up-and-Coming British Indie Rock Act Penelope Isles Release a Sludgy and Slow-Burning New Single

Throughout the course of this year, I’ve written a bit about the Brighton, UK-based indie rock quartet Penelope Isles. And as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of Devon, UK-born, Brighton-based sibling songwriting duo Jack Wolter and Lily Wolter, along with Jack Sowton and Becky Redford is centered by the bond between the Wolters, a bond that ironically was strengthened when Jack, who’s six years older moved out of the family home to study art when he was 19. “By the time I moved home, Lil was not so much of an annoying younger sister anymore and had grown up and started playing in bands and writing songs. We soon become very close. I had written some songs, so we started a band called Your Gold Teeth. We toured a bit and then Lily left for Brighton to study songwriting.”

When Lily Wolter studied in Brighton, she met Jack Sowton and Becky Redford, with whom she formed a band. And as the story goes, when Lily Wolter returned home to the Isle of Man for the holidays, the idea of forming a new band rapidly developed. Although Jack and Lily have long written separately, they chucked their disparate songs into a shared song pot, their new band was fueled by a passion for DIY alt rock/indie rock — and are influenced by the likes of Deerhunter, Pixies, Tame Impala, Radioheadand The Thrills among others.

The up-and-coming Brighton-based indie rock act’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Until the Tide Creeps In will officially drop on Friday through renowned indie label Bella Union Records, and the album thematically is informed by the Wolters’ shared experience — in particular leaving home, moving away, dealing with the various transitions in life and growing up. “We are six years apart, so we had a different experience of some of this, but we share a similar inspiration when writing writing music. Family, leaving home, disconnection and connection all ring bells!”  The Wolters explain in press notes. 

“Chlorine,” Until the Tide Creeps In’s Sleepy Sun-like album opener was centered around an arrangement that subtly bridges shimmering dream pop, shoegaze and fuzz pop — and while buoyant and seemingly ethereal, the song possessed a bracing quality, much like stepping into a cold shower. Interestingly, the song has an underlying emotional push and pull; the sort of complexity brought about by obligation and duty and the need to go out on your own. “Round,” the album’s second single found the band meshing 70s AM rock with shoegaze while evoking the ebb and flow of the complicated and ambivalent emotions of adulthood.”

Centered around a quiet-loud-quiet song structure, complete with a slow-burning and sludgy groove, shuffling drumming and an anthemic hook, the album’s fourth and latest single “Cut Your Hair” manages to subtly recall 120 Minutes-era alt rock. “One of my favourite songs to play live. The slow sludgy groove always feels like a refreshing moment in the set. I wrote it in our old garage on the Isle of Man whilst in uncertainty of whether or not to move away to pursue a career in music or not,” the band’s Jack Wolters says of the album’s latest single. “I had a small studio set up and it started with the drum groove and the rest happened really quickly. I guess it’s a fixtinal tale and concept of what could have been me if I didn’t have a go at doing ‘the band thing’. A don’t give up on your dreams kinda thing.”

New Audio: the bird and the bee’s Jazz-like Take on Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”

Last month, I wrote about the Los Angeles-based indie pop act the bird and the bee — singer/songwriter Inara George and seven time Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin, who has worked with the likes of Sia, Adele, Beck, Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney — and as you may recall, the act can trace their origins to when the duo met while working on George’s 2005 solo debut All Rise. Bonding over a mutual love of 80s pop and rock, the duo decided to continue to work together in a jazz-influenced electro pop project.

The Los Angeles indie pop duo’s debut EP Again and Again and Again and Again was released in late 2006. They quickly followed that up with their self-titled full-length debut in early 2007 — and with their earliest releases George and Kurstin quickly developed a reputation for bringing a breezy elegance to their work, which finds them putting their own idiosyncratic twist on time-bending indie pop.

Although serving as the long-awaited follow up to 2015’s Recreational Love, the bird and the bee’s fifth album, Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen actually closely follows 2010’s critically applauded Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Hall & Oates. And while Van Halen‘s most anthemic and beloved work may initially seem like an unlikely vessel for the Los Angeles-based duo’s sound and approach, George and Kurstin are both lifelong fans of David Lee Roth-era Van Halen. Back in 2007, George caught her first-ever Van Halen show — and it was the first tour to feature David Lee Roth as the band’s frontman since 1985. George was so charmed by Roth’s presence, that after that show, she approached Kurstin about writing a song for Roth. The end result was the swooning serenade “Diamond Dave,” which appeared on their 2008 sophomore album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future. “We asked him to be in the video, but instead he signed a picture and gave me the yellow top hat he’d worn at the show I saw, which I thought was very sweet,” George says in press notes. “When we were trying to figure out who to cover for the second volume of Interpreting the Masters, we were both a little bit like, ‘Oh my god, can we really do it?’ But then we just went for it.”

Slated for an August 2, 2019 release through No Expectations/Release Me Records, the duo’s fifth album features an impressive backing band of guest musicians including Justin Meldal Johnsen (bass), who has worked with Beck and Nine Inch Nails; Joey Waronker (drums), who has worked with R.E.M and Elliott Smith; and Omar Hakim (drums), who has worked with the David Bowieand Miles Davis assisting the duo in making familiar David Lee Roth-era Van Halen anthems completely their own, imbuing even the most over-the-top tracks with a slinky intimacy.

Interestingly, for Kurstin, an accomplished jazz pianist, who once studied with Jaki Byard, a pianist that once played in Charles Mingus‘ band, one of the greatest challenges he had translating Eddie Van Halen’s virtuoso guitar work into piano arrangements that kept some of the spirit and vibe of the original. “I know there’s a jazz influence with the Van Halen brothers, so I tried to channel some of the things that I felt might’ve influenced Eddie,” Kurstin notes. “In a way ‘Eruption’ is almost like a piece of classical music, so I mostly treated it that way as I interpreted it for piano,” he adds, referring to the iconic instrumental guitar solo from Van Halen’s self-titled debut. 

While creating arrangements around Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work will reveal the duo’s ingenuity and playfulness as interpreters and arrangers paired with a deeply nuanced reading of the material, which is influenced by their deep and profound emotional connection to the band.“I remember being 10-years-old and seeing their videos and feeling both excited and totally terrified—I responded to them in this very visceral way,” George says in press notes. Kurstin, who also is a lifelong fan, actually got a chance to work with Eddie Van Halen in the early 80s when the Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist was a 12 year-old member of Dweezil Zappa’s band. “I got to hang out with him in the studio and go backstage when Van Halen played The Forum, which was a really big moment for my younger self,” Kurstin recalls.

The album’s two singles found the members of the bird and the bee taking on Van Halen’s “Panama” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” The duo turned “Panama” from a power chord-based arena rock anthem into a sultry club banger, centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, bright blasts of twinkling piano and cowbell, a wobbling Bootsy Collins-like bass line and George’s sensual vocal delivery. Their cover of”Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” was a slinky and shimmering New Wave-like take that recalled New Order and It’s Blitz-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs while imbued with a feverish quality.  The album’s third latest single finds the band taking on “Hot For Teacher,” the last official single that band released with their original lineup.  Featuring drummer Omar Hakim, who has worked with David Bowie, Sting, Daft Punk, Weather Report, Madonna, Kate Bush and others and a spoken word cameo from Beck, the bird and the bee deliver a swinging bop jazz-inspired take that actually pulls, tugs and teases out the jazziness of the original — particularly within Eddie Van Halen’s dexterous guitar solo-ing. Interestingly, much like Easy Star All-Stars take on Dark Side of the Moon, the bird and the bee version of “Hot For Teacher” isn’t a purely straightforward cover — rather, it’s a subtle and mischievous modernization that retains the spirit and intent of the song in a thoughtful and loving way. 

 

Up-and-coming Toronto-based indie electro pop sibling duo SWANES — Michael and Stefan Bildy — have released a handful of tracks through French indie electro pop tastemaker label Kitsune Records that have caught thee attention of Warp Records and Future Classic, as well as a key nod from CBC’s Radio 1 Toronto. Adding to a growing profile, the sibling duo have been featured on Bandcamp Daily and COLORS, and they’ve landed tracks on several extremely popular Spotify playlists — in particular, the Indie All Stars and Fresh Finds among others.

The duo will be playing dates with Los Angeles-based artist Harriet Brown — but before that they released a new single, the silky smooth “The Hard Way.” Centered around shimming guitar, stuttering beats and a sultry vocal delivery, the slickly produced track nods at Quiet Storm R&B, Hall and Oates-era blue-eyed soul and breezy pop — and sonically, the track reminds me a bit Rush Midnight and others. Interestingly, the track was inspired by a trip the Bildy Brothers took to their great uncle Bruce Beach’s bomb shelter, The Ark Two — the largest nuclear fallout shelter in their native Canada. And as a result, the track possesses a subtle yet palpable apocalyptic air.

New Video: Black Pumas Release a Darkly Sensual and Psychedelic Visual for “Black Moon Rising”

Black Pumas are a rising Austin, TX-based soul act, comprised of Grammy-winning producer, songwriter, composer, and guitarist Adrian Quesada,  27-year-old Los Angeles-born, Austin-based vocalist Eric Burton and a cast of collaborators and associates. And in a relatively short period of time, the band has received praise for their live shows from the likes of Pigeons and Planes and the Austin American-Statesman. 

The duo’s highly anticipated full-length debut was released last month through ATO Records and the album’s latest single is “Black Moon Rising,” a track that helped the band win Best New Band and Song of the Year at this year’s Austin Music Awards — and once you hear the track, you’ll immediately see why: Burton’s effortless, classic soul-like vocals glide over a gorgeous, Isaac Hayes-like production and arrangement — twinkling Rhodes piano, boom bap-like drumming, soaring strings and bluesy guitar licks, making it a slick synthesis of classic soul and contemporary hip-hop-inspired production. 

Written and directed by Amos David McKay, the recently released video for “Black Moon Rising” is one part Blaxploitation and one part Quentin Tarantino as it follows Burton and Quesada as they’re leaving a hotel and hitting the road in a gorgeous, classic car — at night. Of course, the night brings about dark psychedelic images and situations, creating a balance of sultry and murky. 

Live Footage: Up-and-Coming Danish Duo Mavoureen Performs “Bliss” at Tapetown Studios’ Spot Festival Special

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio Tapetown Studios and their longtime partnership with Sound of Aarhus. Together, the studio and the website have invited national, regional and internationally recognized touring bands to stop by Tapetown for a live session, which they film and then distribute to all of your favorite social media and streaming sites. During the live series’ history, they’ve invited British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek, Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey, the Bay Area-based JOVM mainstay Tim Cohen and his The Fresh & Onlys, renowned British psych rockers The Telescopes,  Malmo, Sweden-based punk rock act Sista Bossen, Copenhagen, Denmark-based indie rock quartet ONBC, up-and-coming, Los Angeles-based post punk rock act Moaning, Oslo, Norway-based punk trio  Dark Times

Tapetown Studios recently teamed up with Drowned in Sound and the folks at Spot Festival for another series of live sessions in which three internationally touring acts were invited to Tapetown to perform. The second act invited to Tapetown was the mysterious Danish post-punk duo Mavoureen. The act is putting the finishing touches on their forthcoming full-length debut, an effort recorded at Echo Canyon Studios with Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley contributing drums. Interestingly, the act performed the blistering, Nirvana-like “Bliss,” a song that frenetic and furious track that features fuzzy power chords, howled vocals, thunderous drumming and a mosh pit friendly hook. Much like its predecessor, play this one as loudly as humanly possible. 

Live Footage: Oslo’s Dark Times Performs “Give” at Tapetown Sessions’ Spot Festival Special

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio Tapetown Studios and their longtime partnership with Sound of Aarhus. Together, the studio and the website have invited national, regional and internationally recognized touring bands to stop by Tapetown for a live session, which they film and then distribute to all of your favorite social media and streaming sites. During the live series’ history, they’ve invited British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek, Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey, the Bay Area-based JOVM mainstay Tim Cohen and his The Fresh & Onlys, renowned British psych rockers The Telescopes,  Malmo, Sweden-based punk rock act Sista Bossen, Copenhagen, Denmark-based indie rock quartet ONBC, up-and-coming, Los Angeles-based post punk rock act Moaning and Stockholm, Sweden’s Les Big Byrd among a growing list of others.  

Tapetown Studios recently teamed up with Drowned in Sound and the folks at Spot Festival for another series of live sessions in which three internationally touring acts were invited to Tapetown to perform. One of the invited acts was the Oslo, Norway-based trio Dark Times. Comprised of Ann Kristen Traaen (guitar, vocals), Sebastian Rusten (baritone guitar) and Rikke Fjell Jørgensen (drums), the Norwegian act quickly amassed a profile within their hometown’s underground scene for crafting a unique blend of punk, noise rock and fuzzy guitar pop. Since their formation, the band has been praised by the likes of NME and BrooklynVegan for their live shows — and interestingly, they became the first Norwegian act to be profiled in Maximum Rocknroll. 

Building upon a growing profile the act’s 2014 full-length debut Give, which was released through Sheep Chase Records was nominated for a Norwegian Grammy (Spellemannprisen). They also played SXSW back in 2017 and released their sophomore full-length album in 2018. 

The members of the acclaimed Norwegian indie act played a 10 song, 30 minute set — but the recently released video for the sessions is the feral and blistering “Give.” Centered around fuzzy power chords, thunderous drumming and howled vocals, the song will remind some listeners of Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs and classic 90s grunge. Play this one as loud as possible. 

 

Over the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Justin Phillips, best known for his solo recording project Crywolf. As the story goes, when Philips started releasing music, he was practically homeless, living in a room the size of roughly a closet and subsiding on food stamps. Interestingly, since then Philips has developed a growing profile that has included amassing several million streams across all of the various streaming platforms, a headlining slot on the second largest stage at Electric Forest and praise across both the blogosphere and the major media outlets, including Consequence of Sound, Alternative PressBillboardNylon, Complexas well as this site.

Philips sophomore Crywolf album widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. 1] was released earlier this year,  and the album’s first single was the urgent, frantic and trippy “DRIP.”  Centered around a swooning and wobbling production thumping beats, a cacophony of industrial clang and clatter, a looped vocal samples, and plaintive vocal delivery and atmospheric synths, the song managed to be a dramatic push into a radical new sonic direction. And at its core, the song evoked a narrator, whose mind and sanity have begun to rapidly fray at the seems — and we hear his thoughts, observations and feelings ping-ponging back and forth. As Philips wrote about the new single and of his sophomore album, “one of the themes of this album is the exploration of the shadow – the darker, more difficult aspects of the human psyche. People often think they have one unified ‘personality,’ but the truth is that we are made up of up to a dozen different personalities that are only loosely tied together. We feel like we have so much control over our actions and personality characteristics, but often when we pay close attention and are honest with ourselves, we can see that we can’t actually control or even explain large parts of who we are. ‘DRIP’ is the my process of staring into my brain and being brutally honest about some of the really difficult aspects of what I see there. It might not be, but it’s uncomfortably real.”

Philips recently started a new series, which he titled THE OBLIVION [Reimagined], which will feature reworked versions of tracks off widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. 1]. The first single in the series finds the Chicago-based producer Mielo tackling “DRIP” — and Mielo’s take is a arpeggiated synth-driven, New Wave-inspired remix that’s cinematic and buoyant, recalling A-Ha’s “Take on Me” and Depeche Mode while retaining the urgency and frenetic feel of the original.