Tag: Los Angeles CA

Steven Colyer is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, the Los Angeles-based artist is the creative mastermind behind the emerging and eponymous solo recording project Colyer.

Colyer’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut is slated for release this fall and the album sonically finds the emerging Los Angeles-based artist adopting a nothing is off limits approach with the album’s material drawing from 60s soul, shoegaze and everything else while thematically, the album finds the emerging artist being vulnerable and approachable.

The forthcoming album’s latest single “Pet Names” is slow-burning and brooding bit of late night, vibey, Nick Hakim-like soul with the song featuring reverb-drenched guitars, shimmering synths and a steady backbeat. The arrangement serves as a silky bed for Colyer’s sultry and vulnerable vocals, crooning lyrics longing for someone’s touch. In light of the isolation and loneliness of the past year of quarantines, this song will strike close to home for most of us.

“This song wrote itself, basically visceral vomit,” Colyer explains. “I had come out of a four year relationship wanting to focus on myself. Still, cooped up in my tiny Hollywood apartment, I missed the intimacy and company of someone else. Anyone else.”

The Tell is a new collaborative project that features:

  • Noah Dickie: The Henderson, NV-based singer/songwriter co-founded Coastwest Unrest back in 2019 with his older brother Josh. The band released a series of albums through their own Reclaim Records with their last album, 2017’s The Crazed Ones found the band sonically creating an uneasy balance between roots Americana and stripped-down punk folk.
  • James McAllister: The much sought-after Los Angeles-based programmer and touring dummer, who has worked with The National, Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver. McAllister has worked with The National’s Aaron Dessner on Taylor Swift‘s last two critically acclaimed albums. He has collaborated with Stevens, Nico Muhly and Bryce Dessner on an album titled Planetarium, which was released through 4AD Records back in 2017. As as a solo artist, McAllister has released material through Justin Vernon’s and Dessner’s label 37d03d. And he has contributed to the soundtracks of a handful of Oscar-nominated films, including The Big Sick, The Two Popes and Call Me By Your Name.

Dickie and McAllister explain that the project’s name is a sort of double entendre, referring to poker players, who are easy to read and the sonic narrative of their musical work, an aural journey from borderline despair to well-being, using music — and of course, it’s creation — to try to heal psychic and physical wounds. The project pairs Dickie’s narrative songwriting and folk roots with McAllister’s buzzing soundscapes. Sonically and aesthetically, the duo manage to reflect live lived in a pandemic.

The duo who have individually worked on a number of critically applauded projects have been friends for many years — and their new collaboration together can trace its origins back to 2018 when they originally started working on a series of songs, which would eventually comprise their full-length debut, slated for release later this year. The duo finished the album this year, recording most of the album’s material themselves in their respective home studios, adding producer Luke Vander Pol for two tracks from his home studio in Burbank.

“Clap Clap” is the duo’s first single — and a bit of a taste of what we should expect from the forthcoming album. Prominently featuring Dickie’s Odelay-era Beck-like delivery, the song is centered around an atmospheric and buzzing soundscape that includes twinkling synths, looping guitars and boom bap-like drumming. What makes the song interesting to me is that it manages to simultaneously be trippy and upbeat. “Musically, James and I created this tension in the song’s verses and pre-chorus with the release coming in the chorus…There’s a way through the trap but we can never go back’… Only by letting go (‘going through the trap’) can we move on.” 

 

Clap Clap” was created specifically by Noah and James to curate a shifting, sonic world of metaphysics and magic that becomes increasingly urgent as it goes along. The lyrics start with a question and ignite a rhythmic journey for the listener. The two hope that the song will break through peoples’ insular cocoons to ultimately bring everyone closer together. Even though many people are still separated and at home in quarantine, they can all connect through music. The Tell strategically used the Zen sound of one hand clap-clapping throughout the new song to evoke music’s power to heal and transport audiences to new places. Noah shares, “It’s hard to describe…but after writing ‘Clap Clap’, especially lyrically, it felt like such a release. Something being let go of… There’s this feel like the song is in full-blown chaos…a darkness…pandemic, George Floyd, a rioting country, political and social upheaval. Describing these things, not in a generic way, but with a personal story to coincide with this underlying buzz of turmoil.

New Audio: J. Period Teams Up with Dave Chappelle, Black Thought, and Tiffany Gouché on a Soulful Banger

jJ. Period is a Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ best known for working with the likes of Q-Tip, John Legend, Nas, Big Daddy Kane, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, The Isley Brothers and Mary J. Blige on official mixtapes — and for developing an “audio-biography” style that incorporates interviews with these artists into his “Best Of” complications. He has also made original productions and remixes for film trailers for American Gangster and Street Kings. In late 2008, the Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ became the first DJ/producer ever commissioned by Activision to score and producer an entire video game soundtrack for Tony Hawk’s Motion for Nintendo DS. And before I forget, he worked on The Hamilton Mixtape — while serving as Music Supervisor for the Brooklyn Nets.

The Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ’s debut album Story to Tell is a trail-blazing musical journey in three acts — with the first installment, Chapter One slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Truelements Music/RBC Records. Narrated by Dave Chappelle, Story To Tell (Chapter One) is a collaborative endeavor that blurs the lines between song and story; between hip-hop, R&B, jazz, reggae and salsa. Collaborating with an All-Star cast of Grammy-winning writers and musicians, Story To Tell reportedly will create a vibrant world of connections — between artists, songs, stories, genres, cultures and generations in the acclaimed production’s genre and convention defying style.

Story To Tell (Chapter One)’s first single “All In Your Head” plays with the classic audio storybook format with Dave Chapelle serving as a mischievous tour guide, explaining the set up to the proceedings, quickly followed by a slick yet soulful production centered around tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, glitchy vocal samples and shimmering Rhodes serving as a warm bed for an inspiring manifesto to overcoming self-doubt and being fearless featuring Tiffany Gouché’s silky crooning and Black Thought spitting red hot bars. Sonically speaking, “All In Your Head” effortlessly blurs the lines between neo-soul, R&B and hip-hop in a crowd-pleasing fashion.

New Video: Violent Vickie Releases a Dark and Seductive Visual for Club Friendly “CIrcle Square”

Rising Los Angeles-based coldwave/darkwave/dark synth-riot act Violent Vickie — Vickie (vocals, production) and E (guitar, production) — have released material through Crunch Pod, Emerald & Doreen Recordings, Riot Grrl Berlin and LoveCraft Bar, which the act has supported with tours with Atari Teenage Riot’s Hanin Elias, The Vanishing’s Jessie Evans, Trans X, Them Are Us Too, Aimon & The Missing Persons. Additionally, the Los Angeles-based duo has played sets across the Stateside and European Festival circuits with stops at Insted Fest, Solidarity Fest, Shoutback Fest and Gay Prides and Ladyfests.

“The Wolf” was featured in a National Organization for Women film and she was interviewed for the documentary GRRL as part of the museum exhibit Alien She. And adding to a growing profile, Monster Alley was voted best album by KALX. Violent Vickie’s latest album Division was released last September through Crunch Pod.

Division’s latest single “Circle Square” is a dark, brooding, dance floor friendly bit of coldwave/goth-inspired techno centered around industrial clang and clatter, a relentless motorik groove, arpeggiated synths and Vickie’s achingly forlorn vocals ethereally floating over the murky mix. Sonically drawing from the dark techno songs that Vickie used to party to in Oakland warehouse parties, the track as the duo explains thematically and conceptually “is an exploration of the illusion of not belonging.”

Directed by Ex Corpse Art Collective’s AJ Strout, the recently released video for “Circle Square” was shot with the PhotoBooth app on Vickie’s computer during pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions. And while being made around a decidedly DIY ethos, the video employs the murky and trippy aesthetic that Strout has presented at goth clubs across Los Angeles.

Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays Junaco — Shahanna Jaffer and Joey LaRosa — derive their name for a term that they say generally means rolling with the pace of life and enjoying the present; living and working with intention, and not just running on autopilot. Much like the term that inspired their name, the duo have developed and honed a deliberate creative approach, decided to eschew the commonly-held attempts to placate the blogosphere’s short attention span with constant releases of varying quality.

Over the past few months, the duo have been busy releasing material including two singles, which I’ve written about:

  • In Between (Reprise) ” an even more ethereal and softer take on their Omar Yakar-produced Awry EP single “In Between” that retained the confusing sensations of uncertainty and progress.
  • Blue Room” a gorgeous bit of hook driven indie rock that’s both a sigh of contentedness and frustration that thematically touches upon a familiar concept to all of us — that home can be a place of safety, security, peace and love, as well as a place full of stifling boredom and uncertainty.

The Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays’ latest single “Weight Of The World” is a slow-burning bit of jangling dream pop that to my ears brings Beach House to mind, as Jaffer’s achingly soulful vocals are paired with an arrangement that features lush and swirling layers of shimmering and jangling guitars drenched with reverb, atmospheric synths, a chugging rhythm section and a soaring hook. And much like the rest of their gorgeous and heartfelt work, “Weight Of The World” dives headfirst into the experience of slowing down to look around and dig what’s around you.

“When we were writing the new tunes, we were listening to a lot of Amo Amo, Big Thief, Rodrigo Amarante, Sam Evian, Broncho & Hannah Cohen,” the JOVM mainstays explain. “The writing style of ‘Weight of the World’ was inspired a lot by Mike Viola‘s record The American Egypt. His songs are so visual and visceral, he really puts you there with him. It feels like all your senses are activated when listening. When writing this song, we felt like we had a strong message to convey — being overwhelmed with the constant change and forward motion & evolution towards what feels like being less human. We were heavily inspired by this podcast, The Time Sensitive podcast episode with Jesse Kamm, where she talks about the quality of life and level of happiness when communities are full of creation & purpose, something we may have lost when big corporations began to seep into our everyday lives. 

“It was a lot of fun to work on this song with producer James McAlister and our great friend and collaborator Tejas Leier Heyden. It was actually written as a somber piano ballad and we had no idea what we wanted it to be when we went into the studio, so it was a lot of fun experimenting with the possibilities.” 

The new track is a part of a much bigger project, a 360 degree music and art project coming together as a forthcoming EP.

New Video: Sarah Walk Releases a Cinematic and Feverish Visual for Her Cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U”

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

Last year’s Leo Abrahams-produced sophomore album, Another Me was a radical change in sonic direction for the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist with the album’s material finding Walk going towards shimmering and contemplative synth pop centered around percussive arrangements and soaring melodies. Another Me was inspired by a period of immense challenge and transformation, and thematically, the album touched upon marginalization, survival, death, misogyny, vulnerability, reclamation of oneself, learning how to be bold and take up space and the unique challenges of being a queer woman.

The Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist follows up the release of Another Me with a slow-burning and spectral cover of Prince‘s “Nothing Compares 2 U” centered around atmospheric synths, twinkling keys, brief and subtle bursts of strummed guitar, Walk’s achingly tender vocals and supple and soulful bass lines. Featuring guest spots from Abe Rounds and the acclaimed singer/songwriter and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, Walk’s cover deconstructs the song’s melody but in doing so, pulls out the song’s bitter loneliness, yearning, confusion but imbuing the proceedings with a complete detail and inability to move forward.

Walk has wanted to cover Prince for some time — partially because she’s a Minneapolis native; but also because Rounds and Ndegeocello played at the Purple One’s Paisley Park studio in the past. “Truthfully, it had been a really long time since I heard ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’” Walk says in press notes,” and I thought that may work in my favour — I didn’t want to get too inside the other versions that already existed because I wanted to make sure I approached it my own way.

“I recorded the main wurly piano part first and sort of just improvised that ending build up – I liked the idea of repeating the title over and over, almost trance-like, with these ominous chords and angry guitar sounds building up behind it. I kept seeing this visual of me singing that repetitive lyric on stage, almost trying to convince myself I was okay… while the curtain opened up behind me without me knowing it, exposing all of the memories and anger and heartbreak I was really feeling but not able to accept or admit yet.”

“Sometimes I think Prince would want everyone to play his music and sometimes I think he’d want it to never be played again, but I knew Sarah was the kind of spirit who would make it her own and she does,” Meshell Ndgeocello adds.

Directed and edited by Daniel Smith Coleman, the recently released video for Walk’s cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U” is a slow-burning and cinematic fever dream of loneliness, regret and loss — all while nodding a bit at Memento with some of the video’s occurring in reverse.

Featuring an accomplished array of players including former and current members of Antibalas, The Easy Star All-Stars, The Skatalies, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaries, The Far East and others, the New York-based collective Combo Lulo initially was conceived a studio project that convened to record a handful of cuts for New York-based label Names You Can Trust (NYCT), including their debut single, released in May 2018. That single, which featured a hybrid of cumbia and reggae helped to quickly establish their sound — a sound that effortlessly draws from and bounces around the Caribbean, finding common threads between cumbia, rocksteady and dub.

Their debut single sold out in a few months, through good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Adding to the growing buzz surrounding the collective, the B-Side single “Canto Del Sol” was featured on NPR’s Marketplace in 2019. 2019 also saw the release of their second single, “The Sieve & The Sand,” which found the members of Combo Lulo incorporating elements of Ethiojazz and Afrobeat while maintaining a spacey, Roots Radics sort of groove.

The collective then teamed up with Panamanian soul singer Ralph Weeks for rocksteady ballad-like re-work of his 1969 slow jam “Algo Muy Profundo/Something Deep Inside” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original’s release. Much like their debut single, their collaboration with Ralph Weeks quickly sold out — while becoming a stable of DJ sets in clubs across Paris, Mexico City, and Los Angeles.

Building upon their rapidly growing profile, Combo Lulo will be releasing their highly-anticipated full-length debut Neotropic Dream on May 8, 2021. The forthcoming album’s latest single “Culebra Mentirosa” features a collaboration with Alba and The Mighty Lions’ Alba Ponce De Leon is a slick and soulful synthesis of dub, dancehall and cumbia centered around infectious and shuffling riddims.

“‘Culebra Menitrosa’ came about because we’re huge fans of Alba Ponce De Leon and her group, the Mighty Lions (also on NYCT),” Combo Lulo bandleader Michael Sarason says in press notes.”She’s got such a classy and nuanced sound as a singer, I thought it would work really well with our music. We invited her to come to the studio and after listening through some tracks, we spoke about the idea of writing a song in the form of a parable and using the animal kingdom as a device to tell that story. The concept came together quickly and Alba developed her lyrics and melodies on the spot. When we were mixing it, we tried to imagine what it might sound like if the classic Colombian Cumbia singer Leonor Gonzalez Mina had flown to Jamaican to have King Tubby mix her album. As I listen back now, I can hear all of that in the final version.

New Audio: Los Angeles’ Bass Race Releases a Space-Age Take on Neo-Soul

Los Angeles-based indie pop act Bass Race — Steven Mertens and Laura Benack — features a highly accomplished duo: Mertens formed his first band Satan’s Rats when he was 13 with elementary school friends. That project led to two decades of tours and collaborations. After studying Studio Composition at SUNY Purchase, Mertens joined The Moldy Peaches in 2001 — and he eventually went on to direct videos for an eclectic array of artists including Regina Spektor, Lil Peep, Benee and Sheryl Crow. He has also collaborated with Blood Orange and Here We Go Magic. Benack, who started playing piano when she turned four comes from a deeply musical family: her grandfather was a bandleader, her mom is a vocalist and her father and brother are jazz musicians.

Mertens and Benack met in New York back in 2010. They started dating and immediately started a musical partnership, centered around their love of their craft — and of course, each other. With the help of friends and Benack’s brother on trumpet, they made a bunch of music videos, including for “Clowns Everywhere.” Determined to use every bit of their collective talents, they began combining their music with Mertens’ visual art in 2019 with Bass Race’s Instagram page, which fans have described as “magical” and “super amazing mega fantabulous.”

While the duo cites yacht rock, synth pop, jazz, funk and soul as influencing their sound and aesthetic, their latest single “Chasing the Sun” is a warm and easygoing retro-futuristic, neo-soul number featuring an infectious two-step inducing groove featuring twinkling Rhodes, shimming rhythm guitar, stuttering boom bap-like drumming, a sinuous bass line. Adding to the easy-going yet retro-futuristic vibes, Benack soulfully and suggestively sings lyrics full of playful space age double entendres and references.

“We were in Pittsburgh a couple years ago over Christmas to see my family and we visited our good friend Pete Mudge (Nice Rec) in his studio along with our friends Laura Herrmann and Blane Britt (GrandEar),” the duo recalls in press notes.”There was a snow storm, and it was freezing. Once we were inside, we started to warm up and Pete played us some beats he had been working on. When we heard the track that would soon become ‘Chasing the Sun,’ we all started smiling right away. The creativity started flowing and within a couple hours, I had recorded all the vocals and Steven laid down some guitars. The gray weather definitely inspired the song title, but the song lyrics detail the arduous process of overcoming writer’s block and chasing creative inspiration.”

The duo created a space-age visualizer that follows Benack and an amorphous, cosmic being traveling through space and time in a spaceship — and there’s the sense that our space traveling duo is grooving through the cosmos, as you might be while playing the song.

The duo’s latest album Tender Vittles is slated for a March 19, 2021 release.

Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays Junaco — Shahanna Jaffer and Joey LaRosa — derive their name for a term that they say generally means rolling with the pace of life and enjoying the present; living and working with intention, and not just running on autopilot. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you may recall that the band can trace its origins back to the duo having a mutual desire to make music for music’s sake and to write honest songs that meant something for them — and for listeners, as well. Interestingly enough, much like the term that inspired their name, the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays have developed a rather deliberate creative approach, deciding to eschew the commonly-held attempts to placate the blogosphere’s short attention span with constant releases of varying quality.

2019’s Omar Yakar-produced EP Awry last year, an effort that featured the lovelorn “Willow,” and the 70s AM Rock meets Maazy Star-like “In Between.” Last year, the duo released a reworking of “In Between,” “In Between (Reprise) ” which was an even more ethereal and softer take on the original, while evoking the confusing sensations of change, uncertainty and progress. The duo’s latest single is their first single of 2021, “Blue Room,” continues a run of gorgeous hook driven indie rock, centered around shimmering guitars and Jaffer’s ethereal vocals. But unlike their previously released material, “Blue Room” is simultaneously a contented sigh and a sigh of frustration, evoked by the fact that home can be a place of safety, security and love, as much as it can be a place of stifling boredom.

“We were coming off a high of recording, playing, working, performing, running, running – running like the rest of the world,” the JOVM mainstays explain. “We knew we wanted our next project to be upbeat and fun and we didn’t yet sink into the reality of the shitiness quickly approaching. We were sitting on this large gray couch, overlooking the hills, beginning to write this song. The cool tones from the gloominess brought the blue into the room. Throughout all of this, a reflection – don’t forget the ground below your feet. A similar, universal feeling everyone was beginning to realize – that there are so many important things we miss when we are running. So many simple things. I think this whole record reflects on that; focusing on the beauty in the simplicity of life.”


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

Last year’s Leo Abrahams-produced sophomore album, Another Me was a radical change in sonic direction for the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist with the album’s material finding Walk going towards shimmering and contemplative synth pop centered around percussive arrangements and soaring melodies. Another Me was inspired by a period of immense challenge and transformation, and thematically, the album touched upon marginalization, survival, death, misogyny, vulnerability, reclamation of oneself, learning how to be bold and take up space and the unique challenges of being a queer woman.

The Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist follows up the release of Another Me with a slow-burning and spectral cover of Prince‘s “Nothing Compares 2 U” centered around atmospheric synths, twinkling keys, brief and subtle bursts of strummed guitar, Walk’s achingly tender vocals and supple and soulful bass lines. Featuring guest spots from Abe Rounds and the acclaimed singer/songwriter and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, Walk’s cover deconstructs the song’s melody but in doing so, pulls out the song’s bitter loneliness, yearning, confusion but imbuing the proceedings with a complete detail and inability to move forward.

Walk has wanted to cover Prince for some time — partially because she’s a Minneapolis native; but also because Rounds and Ndegeocello played at the Purple One’s Paisley Park studio in the past. “Truthfully, it had been a really long time since I heard ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’” Walk says in press notes,” and I thought that may work in my favour — I didn’t want to get too inside the other versions that already existed because I wanted to make sure I approached it my own way. 
 
“I recorded the main wurly piano part first and sort of just improvised that ending build up – I liked the idea of repeating the title over and over, almost trance-like, with these ominous chords and angry guitar sounds building up behind it. I kept seeing this visual of me singing that repetitive lyric on stage, almost trying to convince myself I was okay… while the curtain opened up behind me without me knowing it, exposing all of the memories and anger and heartbreak I was really feeling but not able to accept or admit yet.”
 
“Sometimes I think Prince would want everyone to play his music and sometimes I think he’d want it to never be played again, but I knew Sarah was the kind of spirit who would make it her own and she does,” Meshell Ndgeocello adds.