Tag: Los Angeles CA

New Video: Sarah Walk Explores Crippling Insecurity Self-Doubt and Uncertainty in Soaring “What Do I Want”

Sarah Walk is a Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter, and Berklee College of Music grad, who currently splits her time between Los Angeles and London. 2017’s Steve Brown-produced debut Little Black Book found the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist crafting piano-based ballads. 

Walk’s forthcoming Leo Abrahams-produced sophomore album Another Me is reportedly a radical change in sonic direction for the Berklee College of Music grad with the album’s material moving towards shimmering and contemplative synth pop featuring soaring melodies and percussive arrangements. Thematically, the album’s material may be the most introspective she has ever written with the material inspired by a period of immense challenge and transformation, touching upon marginalization, survival, death, misogyny, vulnerability, reclamation of oneself and learning how to take up space. Additionally, the album sees Walk directly tackling the challenges of being a queer woman. “A lot of things had been untapped in my writing until now, many of which deal with burdens that I’ve carried or felt responsible for, which I believe has a lot to do with being a woman and being queer” Walk says in press notes. 

“What Do I Want,” Another Me’s latest single is an atmospheric bit of synth pop, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, detailed syncopated percussion paired with Walk’s achingly plaintive vocals. And while bearing a resemblance to Kate Bush, the track reveals Walk’s knack for crafting a hook that’s both melodic and soaring. But despite its seeming tranquility, the song’s narrator attempts to work through anxiety, procrastination and paralyzing indecision in every aspect of her life. “Sometimes it’s easier to be so overwhelmed by what to do that you don’t do anything until someone else makes a decision for you,” the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist explains. “I think part of that comes from being a woman; we’ve been conditioned to doubt our capability; afraid of confidence coming off as arrogant. Writing this song was a way of holding myself accountable so I can transcend societal structures and avoid falling into the same patterns of paralyzed anxiety.”

Another Me is slated for an August 28, 2020 release through One Little Indian Records. In the meantime, the recently released video for “What Do I Want” features Walk personifying the anxiousness and uncertainty within the song, as she seems plagued by crippling indecision. 
 

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New Video: Phoebe Ryan’s Lysergic and Animated Visual for Shimmering Pop Confection “Reality”

Phoebe Ryan is an acclaimed Texas-born, New Jersey-based singer/songwriter andNYU Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music grad. Upon graduation, Ryan headed out to Los Angeles, where she landed work as a songwriter, writing songs for a number of artists, eventually writing Britney Spears’ “Man on the Moon.” 

With the release of sultry and attention-grabbing  mashup of R. Kelly’s “Ignition” and Miguel’s “Do You Like,” the Texas-born, New Jersey-based singer/songwriter exploded into the national scene, eventually signing with Columbia Records, who her first two EPs — 2015’s Mine and 2017’s James. Ultimately, Ryan felt at her best, guiding her own creative vision and returned to independent status, so that she could do things her way.

Last year, Ryan released two singles “ICIMY (In Case I Miss You)” and “Ring,” and opened for with pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen. And continuing on that momentum, Ryan will be releasing her long-awaited full-length debut How It Used to Feel on June 26, 2020. The album’s third and latest single is the woozy and kaleidoscopic, pop confection “Fantasy.” Inspired by the production on The Flaming Lips’ 2006 effort At War With The Mystics, the track which features shimmering and twinkling synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking low end and shuffling beats, will remind the listener of Ryan’s unerring ability to craft an infectious, radio friendly hook. But underneath the slick, modern production is some earnest songwriting. “‘Reality’ is about a time in my life where I was very dishonest with myself, trusting people who shouldn’t be trusted, and basically just living a lie because it was far less painful than the truth. I love the lyrics, they’re all straight from my dumb little heart, but I think the production of the song is what really hits me. It’s so upbeat and psychedelic, anthemic, bright, yet sorrowful.”

Directed and animated by Richie Brown, the recently released video for “Reality” is a wild, technicolor video is a lysergic journey through a cartoon Phoebe Ryan’s fantasies of bulging and pulsating bodies, fortune tellers and intergalactic travel — seen from the perspective of her pet parrot, who at times seems kind of confused at everything going on. “This is one of the most exciting videos we’ve gotten together for the album,” the Texas-born, New Jersey-based artist explains in press notes. “It’s exotic. It’s erotic. It’s everything I see in my head when I go to sleep at night. Collaborating with Richie Brown was such a fun experience, not only because I’ve been a fan of his work for years (the first video I saw of his was Brick + Mortar’s “Old Boy” in 2014), but because it’s honestly hilarious being able to text someone so open to the weirdest ideas at all hours of the day and night. Crocs? Obama? BDSM? He’s a genius. I love his wild visions.”

New Audio: Sports Releases a Slinky New Single

Currently split between Los Angeles and Norman, OK, the acclaimed indie electro pop act Sports — Cale Chronister and Christian Theriot — can trace their origins back to when the duo met in grade school. Throughout their history together, they’ve honed and refined  their unique take on slinky and funky electro pop, with their first two albums, 2015’s Naked All The Time and 2016’s Can’t Stop Chillin, which featured a handful of critically applauded singles including “You Are the Right One,” “Panama,” “Whatever You Want:” and “Someone  You’d Rather Be Dating.” 

Building upon a growing profile, 2018’s Everyone’s Invited was released to critical praise from Pitchfork, Pigeons and Planes and Ones to Watch. The album also received airplay on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic and was playlisted on Spotify’s New Indie Mix playlist. 

The breezy yet slinky  “Tell You Something,” is the first bit of new material from the duo since Everyone’s Invited. Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous and propulsive bass line, copious amounts of cowbell-led percussion, an infectious hook and Chronister’s breathy vocals, the song finds the band blurring the lines between synth pop, funk, psych rock and Quiet Storm R&B in a way that reminds me of Currents-era Tame Impala. “It’s an anthem of uncertainty. I was taught how to socialize by television, and never learned how to verbalize my feelings,” Sports’ Cale Chronister explains in press notes. “I’m learning to say what’s on my mind, even when it’s uncomfortable . . . I’m celebrating the most ridiculously small feat just by admitting this.

There is still something dark, uncertain in the song, which is left intentionally unknown, and I guess it reflects the lingering anxiety the person on the other side of this conversation could be feeling – still waiting to hear what I have to say.”

 

Blinker the Star · Silent Types

I’ve written quite a bit about Jordon Zadorozny, the Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind acclaimed indie rock recording project Blinker The Star over the past few months. Zadorozny initially started the project as a solo project but by the time the  act signed to A&M Records, the project expanded into a full-fledged band for their first two albums — 1995’s self-titled debut and 1996’s A Bourgeois Kitten. During those early years, the band built up a profile nationally and elsewhere through steady touring.

In 1997, Zadorozny relocated from Montreal to Los Angeles, where he worked with Courtney Love, helping craft songs for Hole’s acclaimed and commercially successful album Celebrity Skin. While in Los Angeles, Zadorozny began soaking up new influences and became increasingly fascinated with production. Signing with Dreamworks in 1999, the band, which at the time featured Zadorozny, Failure’s Kelli Scott (drums), longtime bassist Pete Frolander and a rotating cast of Southern California-based session musicians recorded and released their critically applauded third album August Everywhere, which they supported with touring across North America with Our Lady Peace, Sloan, Failure and The Flaming Lips. 

Returning back to Pembroke in 2002, Zadorozny built his first commercial recording studio and began working with Sam Roberts, contributing drums and producing Roberts’ breakthrough debut EP The Inhuman Condition. Zadorozny also worked on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Chris Cornell, Lindsey Buckingham and others.

During the Winter of 2003, Zadorozny wrote and recorded Blinker The Star’s fourth album Still In Rome as a duo with Kelli Scott. Following a brief tour to support the album, the Pembroke, Ontario-born multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter quickly settled into the production side of the things working with an electric array of artists, including collaborative projects like Digital Noise Academy, SheLoom,  The Angry Moon, and others.

2012’s fourth album, We Draw Lines was the first Blinker The Star album that Zadorozny wrote and recorded as a solo recording project since he started the project over a decade earlier.  Interestingly, We Draw Lines began a rather prolific period that included 2013’s Songs from Laniakea Beach, a one-off single “Future Fires,” 2015’s 11235 EP, 2017’s 8 of Hearts and last year’s Careful With Your Magic.

After completing a short run of shows last fall, Zodorozny began working working on new material at his Skylark Park Studio. The solitude of his environment helped inform his forthcoming Blinker The Star album Juvenile Universe, which is slated for release this summer. So far, I’ve written about two of the album’s singles — the Station to Station-era David Bowie-like “Way Off Wave,” and the jangling, 70s rock-like “Only To Run Wild.” The album’s third and latest single, “Silent Type” is a decidedly 80s New Wave-inspired track, featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, glistening and angular guitars, a propulsive bass line and an enormous hook that reminds me a little bit of  Yes‘ “Owner of Lonely Heart.” But under the slick radio friendly production, the track continues a run of ambitious and deliberately crafted material.

 

 

Suicide Squeeze Records · Death Valley Girls – Breakthrough

Throughout the bulk of this site’s ten year history, I’ve spilled copious amounts of virtual ink writing about the Los Angeles-based garage rock/psych rock act Death Valley Girls — founding duo Larry Schemel (guitar) and Bonnie Bloomgarden (vocals, guitar) and a rotating cast of collaborators that includes Alana Amram (bass), Laura Harris (drums), Shannon Lay, members of The Make Up, The Shivas and Moaning, as well as The Flytraps‘ Laura Kelsey — can trace their origins back well over a decade ago, when they were formed by Schemel, Bloomgarden, Rachel Orosco (bass) and Hole‘s Patty Schemel (drums). Although they’ve gone through a series of lineup changes throughout their history, the JOVM’s sound and aesthetic for much of their history was influenced by The Manson Family and B movie theatrics while thematically focusing on the occult.

Slated for a June 12, 2020 release through their longtime home, Suicide Squeeze Records, the band’s two-song seven-inch EP Breakthrough finds the JOVM mainstays covering two songs that have a deep and profound connection to the band — both in their spirit and aural alignment: The EP’s first single is a cover of Atomic Rooster‘s “Breakthrough,” a song discovered through an even more obscure cover by Nigerian act The Funkees.  Centered around grimy power chords, fire-and-brimstone organ chords and an in-your-face, combative chorus, the Death Valley Girls cover, leans more towards The Funkees’ cover and although all three versions manage to hew closely to their long-held aesthetic, the song also manages to be remarkably contemporary, as it evokes an age-old desire to be free from all kinds of prisons, both real and mental.

The band was drawn to something far deeper than its melody and sound. “It spoke to me because of the lyrics about breaking free from an invisible prison… we all have invisible or visible prisons we are trapped in,” the band’s Bonnie Bloomgarden explains in press notes. Interestingly, the song’s discovery coincided with the band’s interest in The West Memphis Three’s Damien Echols and his ability to endure his lengthy imprisonment by learning to astral project through meditation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Oakland’s Houses of Heaven Releases a Shadowy and Symbolic Visual for “Dissolve The Floor”

With the release of their debut EP Remnant, the Oakland-based electronic act, Houses of Heaven — Kevin Tecon, Adam Beck and Nick Ott — quickly established their sound, a sound centered around layers of synths, guitar, electronic percussion and drums, the act meshes early industrial and techno rhythms with shoegaze melodicism and dub-influenced effects.

The Bay Area-based trio’s highly-anticiated Matia Simovich-produced, full-debut Silence Places was released digitally earlier this month through Felte Records and will see a vinyl release on Friday.  The album’s material was written against a harsh contemporary backdrop: Northern California’s wildfires, expanding tent cities through Los Angeles, rampant greed and gentrification in San Francisco, rapidly changing the city’s character and soul with empty, luxury high-rises. Thematically, the album touches upon and explores the intimate experiences that transpire within the chaotic and uncertain confines of everyday, modern life. 

“Dissolve The Floor,” Silent Places first single may arguably be the album’s most dance floor friendly song. Centered around a pulsing synth arpeggios, industrial clang and clatter, muscular techno beats, woozy tape delay, an enormous hook and  emotionally detached vocals, “Dissolve The Floor” recalls early Depeche Mode, Factory Floor and others — but with a shadowy sense of menace and unease.

Directed by Cloaking, the recently released video is an appropriate shadowy visual that features the members of the band playing in front of projected geometric shapes and strobe light to create an eerie and surreal effect of the band being separated and pieced back together again. “The visible economic and social disparities in San Francisco create the illusion of parallel worlds, which gives living in the city a painfully surreal quality,” the band’s Kevin Tecon says in press notes. “‘Dissolve the Floor’ depicts a moment in two people’s lives when the false veil of separation is lifted and their worlds suddenly become one. By combining projected and three-dimensional images, the video takes the idea of parallel existence into abstract territory inspired by classic sci-fi and horror films.”

Los Angeles-based psych pop act Amo Amo can trace their origins to mid-2017 when a group of dear friends — Lovelle Femme, Omar Velasco, Justin Flint, Shane Mckillop and Alex Siegel — got together for an impromptu jam session in Los Angeles with My Morning Jacket‘s Jim James.  As the story goes, the individual members of the quintet had premonitions that they all shared a deep psychic bond, which would lead to a revelation creatively and through sound. Five months later, the band emerged with their Jim James-produced, self-titled, full-length debut, an effort that featured their viral hit “Closer To You,” a track that has amassed over 3 million streams, appeared in an Apple ad campaign and has received airplay on KCRW and KCSN.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the band opened for Poolside, Jonathan Wilson, Hailu Mergia, Os Mutantes and for My Morning Jacket at Red Rocks. The members of the Los Angeles-based quotient were also the backing band for Karen O‘s and Danger Mouse‘s latest project Lux Prima. And adding to a breakthrough year, they collaborated with Poolside on “Around The Sun,” which was hailed as a “Song You Need to Know” by Rolling Stone.

Earlier this year, the members of Amo Amo signed to Poolside’s Pacific Standard Records.  Last month, the band released “Canta,” a mesmerizing and breezy track that sonically seemed indebted to JOVM mainstays Pavo Pavo with a healthy dash of Tropicalia and trip hop, complete with a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars, stuttering beats, ethereal vocals and a rousing hook.  Centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, shuffling beats, reverb-tinged guitars, a sinuous bass line, ethereal vocals and an infectious hook, the band’s latest single “Missed Connections” continues on a similar path as its predecessor —  and while the song seems to nod at early 80s Stevie Nicks, it expresses a longing that feels all too familiar.

“‘Missed Connection’ explores themes of isolation and the absence of human connection within our technology-obsessed culture — a message which feels especially resonant in the current climate of pandemic and social distancing,” the members of Amo Amo explain. “The song expresses a deeply felt yearning for reconnection, not only with one another but with all forms of life and with Earth itself.

Canta EP, which will feature “Canta” and “Missed Connection” is slated for a June 19, 2020 release and its scheduled to coincide with the Summer Solstice.

DJ Williams is a Plainfield, NJ-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, composer. producer, guitarist and bandleader, who grew up in Richmond, VA. Throughout his nearly two decade career, Williams has developed and maintained a reputation for being both incredibly prolific and for being a highly sought-after collaborator: the Plainfield-born, Los Angeles-based artist is the founder of the Richmond-based and DJ Williams Projekt; the hip-hop/R&B act The Breaks; the acoustic duo Williams & Jones; and he’s probably best known for playing in the critically acclaimed, San Diego-based funk/jam-band act Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

Unsurprisingly, as a result of his various creative projects. Williams has toured around the planet, playing in clubs of all sizes, as well as the international festival circuit, playing the largest and most prestigious festivals across the US, Canada and Europe — and he’s shared stages with the likes of John Legend, Dave Matthews Band, John Oates, Warren Haynes, Ivan Neville, Big Daddy Kane, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Soulive, Levon Helm, Slightly Stoopid, Robert Randolph, Slick Rick and a growing list of others.

As a singer/songwriter, composer and bandleader, Williams’ work  boasts compelling melody, an eclectic musical palette and deliberate and careful songwriting, revealing his desire to push new sonic and stylistic boundaries. His latest project, DJ Williams’ Shots Fired features members of Dave Matthews Band, Lenny Kravitz‘s backing band, Slightly Stooped, Trey Anastasio Band, Lyrics Born, Soulive, Greyboy Allstars and others — including the likes of Dan Africano (bass), Kowan Turner (drums), Joe Tatton (electric organ), Scott Flynn (trombone), Nick Gerlach (sax) and André Mali (trumpet) and a rotating cast of collaborators and associates.

DJ Williams’ Shots Fired’s debut single “She’s No Good” quickly earned regular airplay on SiriusXM during the spring of 2018 and as a result, the band was named as a “heat-seeker” and “an artist to watch.” Building upon a growing profile, the act’s newest album, a concept album conceived as the four-part soundtrack for an imaginary movie is slated for an August 2020 release through Color Red Records. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Iron Fist” depicts a character known as “The Samurai,” represented through Williams’ slashing guitar work. Centered around a looping 12 bar blues like structure, the song features a chugging two-step inducing groove, twinkling and arpeggiated organ blasts, shuffling drumming and an enormous horn line, the track is as swaggering and expansive composition that meshes elements of psych rock, jam band rock, arena rock and funk that feels as though it captures the band’s live show and energy with an uncanny and unerring accuracy.

 

 

 

 

New Video: Savages’ Jehnny Beth Releases a DIY visual for Sultry and Slinky “Heroine”

Camille Berthomier is a Poitiers, Vienne, France-born, London-based singer/songwriter, actress, author and musician, professionally known as Jehnny Beth — and as the frontwoman of the Mercury Prize-nominated, critically applauded act Savages. With Savages, the Poitiers-born, London-based singer/songwriter and multi-disciplinary artist has developed a reputation for a unique lyrical perspective and a powerful stage presence that has captivated audiences across the world over the past 15 years.

Beth’s solo debut, To Love Is To Live was originally slated for release  last week through Caroline Records — but the album was pushed back to June 12, 2020, as a result of Beth’s desire to support local, independent record stores by ensuring that the physical album could come out at the same time. “Record stores are where I found myself as a teenager, digging through albums that ultimately shaped who I have become,” Beth says in press notes. “To release my first ever solo album in a way that would leave them out felt wrong to me; luckily, we were able to find a date that would allow us to release the physical and digital album at the same time.”

Recorded in Los Angeles, London and Paris, To Love Is To Live finds the longtime Savages frontwoman boldly stepping into and claiming the spotlight as a solo artist, and collaborating with an eclectic array of producers and artists including Flood, Atticus Ross, longtime collaborator and Savages bandmate Johnny Hostile, Adam “Cecil” Bartlett, The xx’s Romy Madley Croft, IDLES’ Joe Talbot and Golden Globe-winning actor Cilian Murphy. Thematically, the album sees Beth tapping into and accessing the darkest and least comfortable parts of herself to craft material that’s cathartic, abrasive, fearlessly honest and vulnerable, making the material a dark and cinematic meditation on the very strangeness of being alive.

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s singles: the brooding and atmospheric “Flower,” a track that was reportedly written about a pole dancer at Los Angeles’ Jumbo’s Clown Room and seethes with a feverish and obsessive lust  — and “Innocence,” a dark ad sultry track that evokes the uneasy feelings of isolation, loneliness while ironically living in a big city surrounded by seemingly endless people. “Heroine,” the album’s fourth and latest single is centered around a similar, slinky off-kilter motorik groove as its immediate predecessor, rapid-fire four-on-the-floor, shimmering synth arpeggios, brief blasts of horn, twinkling keys and an achingly vulnerable vocal performance from Beth, the track probes deeply into the dark recesses of her psyche with a fearless abandon.

“When I think of this song, I think of Romy from the xx strangling my neck with her hands in the studio,” Beth recalls in press notes. “She was trying to get me out of my shell lyrically, and there was so much resistance in me she lost her patience. The song was originally called Heroism, but I wasn’t happy because it was too generic. Flood was the first one to suggest to say Heroine instead of Heroism. Then I remember Johnny Hostile late at night in my hotel room in London saying ‘I don’t understand who you are singing about. Who is the Heroine? You ARE the Heroine’. The next morning, I arrived early in the studio and recorded my vocals adding ‘to be’ to the chorus line: ‘all I want is TO BE a heroine.’ Flood entered the studio at that moment and jumped in the air giving me the thumbs up through the window. I guess I’m telling this story because sometimes we look around for role models, and examples to follow, without realising that the answer can be hidden inside of us. I was afraid to be the Heroine of the song, but it took all the people around me to get me there.”

The recently released video is split between footage that the Savages frontwoman and Johnny Hostile shot and edited  — including footage of her walking and vamping in a London tube station, of Beth glistening with droplets of water and in a murky pool, as well as footage of Beth as a little girl, shot by her family, which creates an eerie and intimate look into the artist and her psyche. The DIY nature of the video manages to bring the songs message of self-belief and resilience into a deeper clarity. “We couldn’t plan that the current worldwide circumstances would push us to make this video entirely ourselves at home but sometimes working with constraints is the best fuel, and it fits perfectly with the positive message of self-belief and resilience of the song, pursuing childhood dreams and destiny,” Beth explains in press notes. 

New Audio: Introducing the Shimmering and Dance Floor Friendly Sound of Human Love

Formed in 2010, the New York-based act The Dig — Emilie Mosseri (vocals, bass), David Baldwin (vocals, guitar), Erick Elsner (keys, guitar) and Mark Demiglio (drums) released two albums and two EPs — 2010’s full-length debut Electric Toys, 2012’s Midnight Flowers and 2013’s Tired Hearts EP and You & I EP. Last year, the members of the quartet relocated to Los Angeles. The move sparked a major period of transformations with the band members pursued their own projects, most notably Mosseri, who established himself as a film composer, who earned widespread acclaim for crafting the score for A24 Films’ critically applauded Last Black Man in San Francisco, as well as the scores for the TV series Homecoming, which currently stars Janelle Monae and Kajillionaire, which will star Miranda July. 

Ironically enough, working separately proved to have a unifying effect on the band’s individual members — they were emboldened to take new risks, which resulted in a completely new musical project for its longtime collaborators — the newly named Human Love. Black Void EP, Human Love’s Sonny DiPerri-co-produced, four song debut EP is slated for a July 10, 2020 release, and the effort sees the longtime collaborators completely altering the creative process they were used to through their run as The Dig. “In the past, one person would bring in an idea and we’d build everything from there, but now the process is so much more collaborative, with everyone bringing in their specific perspective to everything we make,” the band’s David Baldwin says in press notes. “I think there’s something beautiful about us going in different directions and then coming back together like this,”EmilIe Mosseri adds “We’re taking what we’d explored on our own and feeding it back into this music, and pushing everything forward to create something completely new.”

Sonically, reportedly sees the band crafting material that meshes a cinematic quality with psychedelic and pulsating, dance floor friendly energy — while revealing the most idiosyncratic impulses of each individual musician. “Goldmine,” the EP’s first single is centered around a sinuous and strutting, disco-influenced groove, four-on-the-floor, shimmering and atmospheric synth arpeggios, an infectious, head bopping-inducing hook paired with Badlwin’s and Mosseri’s ethereal vocals singing surrealistic lyrics. The track finds the new project specializing in a sound that hints at This Is Happening-era LCD Soundsystem– but interestingly enough, the track explodes with a mischievous and adventurous sense of seemingly infinite possibility.

“‘Goldmine’  is the song that inspired us to start Human Love,” the members of the band explain in press notes. “When the four of us are together, one of our favorite things to do is jam on one riff endlessly.  To us this song conjures up a feeling of transition.  When we first started writing it we were still in our previous band together, and by the time we finished it we had decided to start something new.  It has a feeling of leaving something behind.  Deciding to move away from what’s comfortable and familiar, and embrace the unknown.”