Tag: Los Angeles CA

New Video: The Midnight Hour Releases a Late Night Lounge-Inspired Visual for Shimmering Ballad “Harmony”

Led by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, arranger and producer, the team behind the score for the acclaimed Netflix series Luke Cage, the 10 member ensemble The Midnight Hour also features multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Loren Oden and Angela Munoz and guitarist Jack Waterson.

Last year, the ensemble released their self-titled debut, which established their sound: jazz and orchestral inspired soul and hip-hop heavily inspired by David Axelrod, Quincy Jones and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr. Since the release of their full-length debut, the ensemble has been rather busy: Linear Labs released Jack Waterson’s psych rock solo album Adrian Younge Presents Jack Waterson earlier this year with full-lengths from the ensemble’s Oden and Munoz slated for release in the coming months. And The Midnight Hour’s highly-anticipated — and long-awaited — sophomore album is slated for release early next year. 

Midnight Hour 2‘s first single “Harmony” is a gorgeous and mesmerizing song that’s one part classic, Quiet Storm-era soul, one part neo-soul and one part J. Dilla and Flying Louts breakbeats, centered around a lush Barry White/Curtis Mayfield-era arrangement, featuring twinkling keys, shimmering and soaring strings, a sinuous bass line and propulsive drumming. But by far, the superstar of the show is Loren Oden’s soulful and plaintive vocals, which express an aching vulnerability and yearning — the sort that comes from being madly, desperately, passionately in love. As Muhammad and Younge explain in press notes, the song “is a song for those that have felt a special spark of love, in the moment.”

Directed by Adrian Younge and filmed at his Highland Park-based Linear Labs studio, the recently released video evokes the late night lounge vibes of the single — while reminding the viewer and listener that it’s possible to fall in love in just one night. “The video represents the spirit of The Midnight Hour: A visceral feeling of expression in those late night moments that is difficult to define, but impossible to deny,” Adrian Younge says in press notes. 

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I’ve written quite a bit about the  Los Angeles, CA-based indie pop project and JOVM mainstays Oddnesse over the past couple of years — and as you may recall, the act, which features core duo, singer/songwriter Rebeca Arango and producer Grey Goon has received attention from this site and elsewhere for crafting infectious, hook-driven material centered around dark and heavy grooves. But with each successive single, the do has managed to subtly expand upon the sound that captured this site and the rest of the blogosphere.

Interestingly, the duo’s latest single “Lover’s Calling” continues a run of hooky, synth-driven tracks, centered around atmospheric synth arpeggios, blasts of shimmering guitars, Arango’s plaintive vocals and a chugging rhythm — and while seemingly drawing from 80s New Wave and pop, the song is actually about a deeply personal yet universal, lived-in experience. “I was restless when I wrote this song,” Rebeca Arango says in press notes. “Change was inevitable, but I was afraid to act. I imagined all sorts of destructive consequences—hurt feelings, loss of status, judgement, stability—none of them real. In avoidance, I went numb for a while. Then one night came a full moon, a new experience, a new flirtation. It was just enough of a taste, of a fuller, deeper, mountaintop connection, to remind me that I still had life in me and something better was waiting. So I stopped clinging and let the cards fall. Because no one wants to be on their death bed wondering “what if?”

 

 

 

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays clipping and Shabazz Palaces Team Up on a Trippy and Swaggering New Single

I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio Clipping over the past few years of this site’s nine-plus year history. And as you may recall, the act — production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson and frontperson Daveed Diggs — initially released material without the expectation of receiving commercial or critical success: their earliest releases were built around Snipes’ and Hutson’s sparse and abrasive productions featuring industrial clang, clink and clatter and samples of field recordings paired with Diggs’ rapid-fire narrative driven flow, which is full of surrealistically brutal and violent imagery and swaggering braggadocio.

Sub Pop Records signed the Los Angeles-based trio and released 2014’s clpping. an effort that received attention across the blogosphere, including here. When Diggs went on to star in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit musical Hamilton, winning a Tony Award for his dual roles of Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette, the act was on an informal hiatus. But during that time, the members of the acclaimed JOVM mainstays reconvened to write and record 2016’s critically applauded effort Splendor & Misery, a Sci-Fi dystopian concept album that is futuristic and yet describes our increasingly frightening and bizarre present.

Clipping’s latest full-length, There Existed an Addiction to Blood was released last month, and the album which features guest spots from Ed Balloon, La Chat, Counterfeit Madison and Pedestrian Deposit and a list of others interpreting horrorcore, a purposefully absurdist and significant sub-genre of hip hop pioneered by Brotha Lynch Hung, Gravediggaz, which featured The RZA and featured seminal releases from Geto Boys, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and pretty much most of Memphis cassette tape rap during the mid 1990s. And while drawing from the horrorcore movement of the mid 90s, the album is also partially inspired by Ganja & Hess, the 1973 vampire cult classic, regarded as one of the highlights of the Blaxploitation era — the title is derived from the film and the members of the acclaimed JOVM mainstays sampled part of the score on the album.

Interestingly, back in 2017 clipping was commissioned to create a song for a This American Life episode about Afrofuturism. The end result was “The Deep,” a dark sci-fi tale about the underwater-dwelling descendants of African women thrown off slave ships, based on the mythology created by Detroit-based electronic group Drexciya. The song earned the JOVM mainstays a Hugo Award nomination last year — and they constructed a sound installation based on the single at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Sub Pop will be releasing “The Deep” on vinyl and as a digital download globally on November 29. Both the vinyl and digital versions include two previously unreleased tracks “Drownt” and “Aquacode Databreaks,” a collaboration with fellow JOVM mainstays Shabazz Palaces. Centered around an abrasive, industrial-leaning production featuring clang and clatter and glistening synth arpeggios, the track features two of hip-hop’s most dexterous and dense lyricists creating a fantastical world full of blinged out mermaids flossing. dancing — and most importantly being defiantly, boldly black as fuck. 

Interestingly, the 12″ single comes on the heels of the release of The Deep, a novella by two-time Astounding Award-nominated author Rivers Solomon with clipping credited as co-authors,. inspired by the title track and published by Saga Press. 

New Audio: Rising Aussie Electro Pop Trio Haiku Hands Release a Thumping, Old School Hip Hop Inspired Banger

Splitting their time between Melbourne and Sydney. the Aussie indie electro pop act Haiku Hands, which features a core trio of Claire Nakazawa, Beatrice Lewis and Mie Nakazawa have received attention both nationally and internationally for a sound that draws from hip-hop, electro pop, dance music and house music. Interestingly, the trio is part of a larger collective that engages with and explores social norms with their lyrical, musical and visual content. 

Now, as you may recall last year was a breakthrough year for the Aussie electro pop trio: their high energy club bangers “Squat,” “Jupiter,” and “Not About You” amassed over 3.5 million streams — and as a result, each single landed spots on iTunes charts across the globe. Adding to an enormous year, “Jupiter” was included on Matt Wilkinson‘s Best Songs of 2018 So Far list, and received airplay on BBC Radio 1 and Radio X. Continuing on  the momentum, the members of Haiku Hands went on a month-long North American tour with CHAI that featured stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and the Market Hotel, an opening date for Cupcake in Chicago, and appearances at a handful of SXSW showcases. 

The Aussie indie electro pop trio’s highly-anticipated full-length debut is slated for release next year through Mad Decent and Spinning Top in Australia and New Zealand. In the meantime, the trio’s latest single, the Mad Zach-produced “Onset” is a brash and infectious banger centered around a glitchy and thumping 808-based, old school hip-hop production reminiscent of Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force’s “Renegades of Funk” and Missy Elliott paired with the trio delivering equally brash and dexterously flows that nod at Khia’s “My Neck, My Back (Lick It),” schoolyard rhymes and chants. As a child of the 80s, this song brings boom boxes, shell toe Adidas and B Boys breaking — but with a modern touch. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Death Valley Girls Release a Creepy Halloween-Themed Visual for “Wear Black”

I’ve managed to write a bit about the Los Angeles-based garage rock/psych rock act Death Valley Girls over the past few years, and as you may recall the act which is currently comprised of 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 to when they were formed by Schemel, Bloomgarden, Rachel Orosco (bass) and Hole‘s Patty Schemel (drums). Despite the series of lineup changes throughout the band’s history, the JOVM mainstays’ sound and aesthetic has primarily been influenced by The Manson Family and B movie theatrics while thematically focusing on the occult.

Interestingly, last year’s Darkness Rains might arguably be the darkest and most menacing batch of material of their growing catalog. Sonically, the album found the band crafting  a feral mixture of proto punk, proto metal and stoner rock  with a healthy dosage of mysticism. “Wear Black,” the album’s latest single features a hallucinogenic and sweaty arrangement of thunderous and propulsive drumming, glistening organ arpeggios, fuzzy power chords, enormous hooks and soaring vocals. Much like the rest of the album’s material, the song manages to evoke occult-inspired sacrificial rituals while sonically recalling The Black Angels, Roky Erickson and others.

Just in time for the holiday season, the members of Death Valley Girls released a Brandon McKnight-made video for “Wear Black” that’s split between live footage of the band performing at Saint Vitus Bar — occasionally through kaleidoscopic filters,  edited stock footage, old horror movies featuring hellish and unnatural medical procedures and people behaving as though they were possessed, as well as footage of masked figures performing bizarre and occult-like rituals. It’s appropriately creepy — and absolutely perfect for today.

Jeff Crosby is a critically acclaimed Northern Idaho-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, whose work generally bounces around the boundaries of folk, rock and Americana. Dropping out of school when he was 17 to purse a music career with a touring West Coast-based band, Crosby has spent a significant period of his life on the road — playing night after night, show after show, from load-in until the last drink is poured and the house lights are turned on.

Crosby’s material draws from the rare beauty found in his travels and the unconventional stories of the people and places he has encountered along the way, giving his work the feel of being like a page ripped out of an intimately personal diary of someone who has loved, lost and has relentlessly kept on the move. While his work has been compared by some to the work of legendary and beloved singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle — and as a result, the Northern Idaho-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter has shared stages with a diverse array of artists including Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Charley Crockett, Widespread Panic, American Aquarium, Niki Lane and a list of others.

For a five year period, Crosby resided in a small apartment off Los Angeles‘ Sunset Boulevard. Giving up coffee so that he could pay rent, Crosby played with The Homeless and the Dreamers — and while struggling get to get by, he found a way to thrive and make poignant music. Through a chance encounter, he met and befriended a music editor for the critically applauded TV series Sons of Anarchy and wound up with two of his songs being featured the show. During that same period, Crosby split his time touring with his band and later with Widespread Panic’s Jerry Joseph, which found Crosby traveling abroad to tour the UK, Iceland, Mexico, Colombia and Nicaragua. His experiences in each of those countries helped influence the material off his Gregg Williams and Geoff Piller co-produced album Postcards from Magdalena, an effort that received praise internationally

Crosby’s latest single , the Geoff Piller-produced”Laramie” is a carefully and deliberately crafted tune that sounds as though it draws from 70s AM rock, 80s Tom Petty and Americana as it’s centered around an arrangement of shimmering acoustic and electric guitars, a soaring hook and incredibly thoughtful, earnest songwriting that seemingly comes from lived-in personal experience. In the case of “Laramie,” the song’s narrator reminisces about an old and very fond memory of a relationship that quickly went wrong. Haunted by the ghosts of that relationship, the song finds its narrator questioning his role in what went wrong  — and wondering if there was anything he could have done to prevent it. Certainly, if you’ve had a particularly bitter and heart-wrenching breakup at some point in your life, the song captures something both personal and universal.

Crosby is currently working on a full-length, which is slated for release in 2020. Be on the lookout for more.

 

 

 

New Audio: Brooklyn Shoegazers No Swoon Releases a Slow-Burning Meditation on Alienation

Since their formation in 2016, the Brooklyn-based indie act No Swoon — the core duo of Tasha Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt (synths) — have received attention locally and nationally for a sound that meshes elements of dream pop, shoegaze, post-punk and ethereal wave. And interestingly, much like BLACKSTONE RNGRS, Lightfoils and others, the Brooklyn-based act have added their name to a growing list of acts that have actively pushed the sonic and aesthetic boundaries of shoegaze and dream pop.

Last year’s critically applauded EP 1 was written in Los Angeles during a self-imposed exile from the East Coast. For Abbott, a native of Ontario, CA, the idea was to get back to her geographic and musical roots with a great deal of time spent driving around the suburbs listening to the goth and new wave that her mom played in the car when Abbott was a little girl (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, New Order) and the indie rock and punk rock of her teenage years (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes).

Now, as you may recall, the duo’s forthcoming Jorge Elbrecht-produced, self-titled debut is slated for a November 1, 2019 release through Substitute Scene Records, and the album reportedly is an ambiguous and urgent affair that thematically touches upon the confusion, frustration and uncertainty of our zeitgeist. Naturally, the result is material that is at times searingly critical, frustrated and despondent everything from misogyny to global power imbalance and inequality with each of the song’s narrators seeking answers to questions that may never be resolved. The album also finds the duo collaborating with Robi Gonzalez, best known for his work with A Place to Bury Strangers and This Will Destroy You, contributing drums.

“Don’t Wake Up, Wake Up,” their self-titled debut’s first single and opening track was a Joy Division-like take on shoegaze, centered around layers of fuzzy and distorted power chords, a motorik-like chugging groove, an enormous arena rock-like hook. But at its core, Abbott expresses confusion, unease and frustration while asking uncomfortably familiar, large questions: has the world gone crazier or is it me? Is this real or is this some horrifying and unending nightmare? “Forward,” the album’s second single was a lush, synth-driven track featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Abbot’s ethereal cooing. And while being their most dance floor-like single of their growing catalog, the song expresses frustration about how we haven’t made progress on racism, sexism. homophobia, inequality and so on. “Faces,” the self-titled album’s third and latest single continues in the same lush vein of its predecessor — but it’s a shimmering and slow burning and meditative song that evokes a sense of alienation and disconnectedness that feels and sounds familiar.  

“Faces is the oldest song on the record and worked for us as a kind of pivot from the sound of the EP to the sound of the record,” the band explains in press notes. “We brought in a sampled synth and had more intricate parts and arrangements. Lyrically the song is about floating through a crowded city feeling disassociated from the people you see around and how specifically we begin to internalize that alienation. A day living in a city puts us in proximity to an insane number of people. And that number increases ten fold when you add what we see on social media. Yet so many of our friends are struggling with loneliness. It’s hard to build and sustain a close community. And in many ways, how we are forced to live in this city specifically makes connecting to folks difficult. The generally cramped apartments we share make it hard to have people over, and the struggle to pay rent make it hard to have income to go out. And this is beyond the general exhaustion so much of us feel from hustling.”

New Video: Juana Molina Releases a Vibrantly Colored Animated Visual for Exuberant and Playful “Paraguaya Punk”

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the  Buenos Aires-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and actress Juana Molina. Born to renowned tango vocalist Horacio Molina and actress Chunchuna Villafane, a young Juana Molina grew up in an intensely musical home: her father taught her guitar when she was 5 and her mother introduced Molina to the family’s extensive record collection. As a result of 1976’s military coup, the Molina family fled Argentina and lived in exile in Paris for several years, and during that time, the teenaged Molina’s musical tastes were vastly expanded by regularly listening to a number of French radio stations known for programs that spun music from all over the globe. 

When Molina was in her early 20s, her and her family returned to Argentina. As a young woman, Molina was determined to be independent and pursue a musical career – and like many young people, her initial aspirations were to earn some decent money for a few hours of work a day while having enough time to write songs, record and play live shows. She had a talent for imitations and looking for a decent gig, she auditioned for a local TV program. Based on the strength of her impressions and imitations, she got hired on the spot. 

Molina quickly became one of her country’s most popular and beloved comedic actors. Within three years of that initial addition, Molina starred in her own show Juana y sus hermanas, a Carol Burnett-like show in which she had created a number of characters. The syndicated show was wildly popular in Argentina and in its neighboring countries. After about four years on the air, Molina became pregnant and the show went on hiatus. On maternity leave with a lot of free time on her hands, Molina found herself reflecting on her rapid rise to stardom. At the time, despite having a wildly popular TV show, she couldn’t help but think “this isn’t quite what I wanted to do.” So Molina quit acting to focus on her lifelong passion — being a musician. 

Her decision to quit her popular show was one that many Argentines bitterly held against for a number of years. Her full-length debut, 1996’s Rara was critically panned by journalists, who resented her career change. Fans of her TV show would show up to her live shows, expecting to see her pay homage to her TV work but instead they found they couldn’t understand this new “folk singer character” that sung strange songs without any obvious jokes. Feeling dejected by the criticism and feeling misunderstood but wanting to continue onward with music, the Buenos Aires-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. producer and actress relocated Los Angeles, where her work as much better received and began familiarizing herself with and experimenting with electronics.  

After spending time licking her metaphorical wounds and honing her songwriting and sound, Molina returned to Buenos Aries, where she wrote, recorded and produced her sophomore effort Segundo, which began a run of material that found her meshing organic arrangements with electronic production — typically layered and sampled loops of acoustic sounds with beats and synths. Interestingly, Molina’s third album, the breakthrough Tres Cosas was championed by David Byrne, Will Oldham, and others and landed on The New York Times’ Top Ten Records list. 

Halo Molina’s seventh album further cemented the Argentine artist’s long-held reparation for being a restless and mysterious master of sophisticated, experimental pop  — but her soon to be released 4 song Forfun EP is a decided and exuberant sonic left turn. Derived from a set in which Molina and her band had to improvise, when they found themselves on the stage of a major festival without all of their instruments, the material is imbued with a DIY ethos and spirit that’s indebted to punk rock and garage rock. Interestingly,  the EP’s latest single “Paraguaya Punk” reveals the underpinning fierce playfulness and grit of Molina’s work in a stripped down and forceful fashion. 

The Forfun EP is slated for release on Friday through Crammed Discs.

The recently released video for “Paraguaya Punk” features the animated and vibrantly colored, child-like line drawings of Dante Zaballa. It’s a seemingly simplistic explosion of colors and lines but it manages to capture the exuberant and mischievous air of the accompanying song. 

 

Small Planets is a Los Angeles-based post punk act, comprised of founding trio Jeff Love (guitars), Josh Spincic (bass) and Phil Drazic (drums) with Jessica Hernandez (vocals) and Ryan Silo (guitar) that can trace its origins to when its founding trio caught Slowdive play a show at The Ace Theater back in 2015. After an exhaustive two year search, the band added Jessica Hernandez and Ryan Silo to complete their lineup — and with their lineup finalized, they developed a sound that has been described as Interpol meets Joy Division and The Cure.

Last year, the band went into the studio with Joshua Mazzachi to record their recently released self-titled full-length debut, an album that finds the band writing a love letter to the classic and beloved post-punk sound. “Tonight,” their self-titled debut’s single is a perfect example of the band’s sound: centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, an angular, a propulsive bass line, dramatic drumming, Hernandez’s ethereal yet plaintive vocals. And while indebted to 4AD Records, the aforementioned The Cure and Joy Division and others, the track is imbued with a subtly modern and loving touch.

 

 

New Audio: Midnight Hour Releases a Quiet Storm-Inspired New Single

Led by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, arranger and producer, the team behind the score for the acclaimed Netflix series Luke Cage, the 10 member ensemble The Midnight Hour also features multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Loren Oden and Angela Munoz and guitarist Jack Waterson. Last year, the ensemble released their self-titled debut, which established their sound: jazz and orchestral inspired soul and hip-hop heavily inspired by David Axelrod, Quincy Jones and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr.

Since the release of their full-length debut, the ensemble has been rather busy: Linear Labs has released Jack Waterson’s psych rock solo album Adrian Younge Presents Jack Waterson earlier this year with full-lengths from the ensemble’s Oden and Munoz slated for release in the coming months. And as you may recall, the ensemble’s long-awaited sophomore album is also slated for release early next year. 

Midnight Hour 2’s first single is a mesmerizing and gorgeous, Quiet Storm meets neo-like bit of soul, centered around an enormous sounding Barry White/Curtis Mayfield-era arrangement, complete with shimmering strings and the like. And yet, the star of the show is Oden’s plaintive vocals, which express an aching vulnerability and yearning — the sort that comes from being madly and passionately in love. As Muhammad and Younge note, the song “is a song for those that have felt a special spark of love, in the moment.”