Tag: lyric video

Lyric Video: Mama Zu (Those Darlins’ Jessi Zazu and Linwood Regensburg) Share Anthemic and Sarcastic Kiss-Off

Nashville music scene darlings Those Darlings — Jessi Zazu, Nikki Kvarnes and Kelley Anderson — could trace their origins back to 2006, when they all met at the Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp. The trio quickly gained an underground following for a raucous take on alt-country that was equally indebted to the likes of The Carter Family as it was the Ramones.

2009’s self-titled debut was released to critical praise from the likes of AllMusic, Consequence and a list of others. Their longtime drummer Linwood Regensburg, who has contributed to Low Cut Connie’s Art Dealers and Tristen’s Sneaker Waves joined the band as a full-time member for the writing and recording of their sophomore album 2011’s critically applauded Screws Get Loose.

The Nashville-based outfit’s third album 2013’s Blur the Line continued a run of critically applauded material with eh album receiving praise from Rolling Stone, Paste and others.

By 2016, the band spent a decade touring and recording together, and each of its members felt it was time for something new. During the middle of New York’s biggest blizzards con record, Those Darlins found themselves stranded in Brooklyn, trying in vain to finish their farewell tour.

Back in 2016, in the middle of New York’s biggest blizzards on record, the members of Those Darlings found themselves stranded in Brooklyn, trying in vain to finish their farewell tour. As the snow blanketed New York and the rest of the East Coast, Zazu and Regensburg thought about their own blank slate ahead of them. They devised a plan: Take a month off. Get some much-needed rest after a grueling run of gigs. Then they would get back to work on a new album.

With Zazu, the blank page never stayed blank for very long; she was always relentlessly doing, bursting with ideas, whether she was painting or writing, mentoring young musicians in her community or leading grassroots activism initiatives. For Zazu, there were always more songs to be writing and sung, more notes to be played, more issues to shine a light on and advocate for. Sadly, just as Zazu and Regensburg were set to begin working on their next project together, Zazu was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and things understandably were put on hold.

Work on their album started in early 2017 and was done in fits and spurts. “I don’t know if she felt the same way or not,” Regensburg says, “but watching this situation play out in my head, it was like I was equating it to some kind of hero journey. This person, who I believe to be invincible, overcomes a dire circumstance and the writing and recording of the music is all just part of the legendary comeback story. But that’s not what ended up happening, unfortunately.” Tragically, though, they weren’t able to finish the album: Zazu died at the all too young age of 28.

Understandably, the unfinished album was put on the shelf. . “After she died, I didn’t want to touch it,” Regensburg says. “I didn’t want to play the songs or listen to the songs, let alone finish them. It just seemed like such a daunting task with a lot of layers—there was a lot of work left to do, but then there was also this exhausting underlying emotional component that pops in and hangs around the moment I’d open a session.”

Years passed and distance grew. By 2020, Regensburg felt ready to finish what they had started, he says “both for her sake, and for my own sanity level. I was the only person left with this project. Working on those songs again was therapeutic, even if doing so brought on a new set of challenges as he polished nearly-finished tracks and rebuilt songs out of disparate parts, from the drum track on an older, alternate recording to a simple phone demo. “It was a way of spending time with her, and kind of the only capacity in which I could,” he said. “But then, I was also left with a lot of creative choices without her. Even though I had played most of the instruments, it had still been a totally collaborative thing; if there was a part I played that she didn’t like, she was clear about that. If someone’s gone, you can still talk to them, but you can only assume what their feedback might be. So I was stuck with a lot of musical choices that I’d be working under the context of, I hope you like what I did here.” 

But on February 23, 2024, the world will hear the duo’s last project together Mama Zu — and what they had been working on with the 11-song Quilt Floor. The album sees the duo stitching a sonic tapestry of punchy songs that defiantly resist categorizing or pigeonholing in any specific genre. The material deftly flits from shimmering shoegaze to hooky power pop, riot grrl-tinged punk to 60s psych rock. Working without parakeets and without outside expectations led the duo to create an album that lives up to its mixtape moniker: 11 distinct tracks that are their own entire, separate universes while never feeling disjointed. The songs seamlessly form a robust whole, a representation of someone, who has a wildly eclectic, seemingly limitless record collection.

Ultimately, Mama Zu is simultaneously a continuation of the groundwork that Zazu and Regensburg laid with Those Darlings — and sadly, a final chapter. Importantly, it’s a snapshot of an artist in her prime, who was taken too soon, but while being stubbornly upbeat, defiant and fearless.

Regensburg shares Quilt Floor‘s first single “Lip.” Built around fuzzy guitars, a relentless and propulsive backbeat paired with Zaza’s sneering delivery, “Lip” is a kiss-off with a sarcastic smirk. The song’s subject is one that should be pitied — and perhaps laughed at — than scored. “The beauty of a ‘fuck you’ song (of which there might happen to be several on this album) is that you could simultaneously find yourself singing along while also being the oblivious target,” Linwood says. “Granted I never asked Jessi what this song was actually about and it’s also quite possible I might be an unreliable narrator here. Nevertheless, in the meantime, whether you’re in the mood to raise a middle finger or perhaps deserved of one, this song’s for you.”

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Jessi Zazu, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to continuing Jessi’s work in the arts & humanities, social justice, and women’s health.

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Elephant Stone Shares Ethereal Yet Politically Charged “History Repeating”

Brossard, Québec-born, Montréal-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rishi Dhir is a grizzled indie rock and psych rock veteran , who has played in a number of bands, including The Datsons and The High Dials. He is also an in-demand sitarist and bassist, who has collaborated with BeckThe Brian Jonestown MassacreThe Black AngelsThe Soundtrack of Our LivesThe Dream Syndicate, psych rock supergroup MIEN and countless others. 

Dhir founded the acclaimed psych rock outfit and JOVM mainstays Elephant Stone back in 2009. Along with collaborators and bandmates Miles Duper (drums), Gab Lambert (guitar), Robbie MacArthur (guitar) and Jason Kent (keys, guitar), the Montréal-based band has released six albums, including 2013’s self-titled album and 2020’s acclaimed Hollow. They’ve also released a handful of EPs including last year’s Francophone Le Voyage de M. Lonely dans la Lune. Each of those efforts has seen them develop, refine and firmly cement a sound that frequently incorporates elements of traditional Indian classical music with Western psych rock paired with introspective lyrics rooted in Dihr’s personal experiences. 

Dihr’s own journey in music frequently found him tryin to find a place that fit him, until he decided that what he made was worth sharing in the space that he had created for himself. “I only write about what I know and think I understand. As long as there’s Rishi, there’s going to be Elephant Stone,” Dhir says in press notes. 

2023 has been a busy year for the Canadian psych rock outfit: Earlier this year they released Dawn, Day, Dusk, which featured “Godstar,” and “The Imajinary, Nameless Everybody In The World.” Those two tracks saw the band continuing their narrative journey through crating material that deftly balanced human complexity with introspective themes paired with an evolving sound.

They followed that up with “Lost In A Dream,” a song built around a Tame Impala-like groove, while continuing their long-held reputation for dexterous guitar work, catchy hooks and introspective lyrics. “Creating ‘Lost In A Dream’ has been a thrilling journey for us, one where the fascination with dreams and their mysterious ties to reality took center stage,” the band’s Rishi Dhir says. “While there are subtle hints of inspirations like The Nazz’s ‘Open My Eyes‘ and Echo and the Bunnymen‘s ‘Killing Moon,’ this song is really about charting our own musical course. We’ve woven an auditory landscape that we hope allows listeners to dive into their thoughts and dreams. It’s all about losing yourself in the music, in the narrative it spins, and finding a resonance within your own life.”

Elephant Stone’s highly-anticipated seven album, Back Into the Dream is slated for a February 23, 2024 release. The album will reportedly feature a harmonious blend of introspective lyrics and entrancing melodies that represent the latest culmination of their musical evolution. Thematically, the album explores the mysteries of dreams, capturing the cycle of sleep and wakefulness. As the band’s Dhir puts it, “Our music aims to bridge the gap between the known and the unknown.” Previously released tracks “Godstar” and “The Imajinary, Nameless Everybody in the World,” draw from the themes of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, delving into the intricacies of human existence, creation, life and death while “Lost In A Dream,” is an exploration of dream-like states and blurred realities. 

Last month, I wrote about Back into the Dream single “The Spark,” a breezy power pop-meets-jangle-pop take on psych pop built around soaring electric guitar, strummed acoustic guitar and Dihr’s earnest, plaintive falsetto paired with the band’s unerring knack for crafting enormous, remarkably catchy hooks and choruses.

“Crafting a song is like tapping into a kind of magic that exists beyond the realm of the ordinary. I’m in perpetual pursuit of that elusive sensation—the spark that turns fleeting thoughts into something immortal,” the band’s Rishi Dhir admits. “’The Spark’ is my love letter to the art of songwriting, a tribute to the creative process itself. It’s about that serendipitous moment when time and space align, allowing you to capture lightning in a bottle.”

Back into the Dream‘s third and latest single “History Repeating” sees the band blending their dreamy, 60s psych sound with slick, modern and hi-fi flourishes: The track is built around an arrangement of swirling and washed out tambourines, jangling, reverb-soaked guitar, twinkling keys, glistening synths paired with Dihr’s plaintive delivery. But despite the song’s ethereal nature, the song lyrically is centered around Canadian indigenous history, serving as a plea for reparations owed to the country’s First Nations people.

“History has a haunting tendency to repeat itself, from the scars of colonialism to the rise of authoritarian regimes,” says frontman and songwriter Rishi Dhir. “It’s as if we’re trapped in a loop, forever replaying the same tragedies. ‘History Repeating’ is my way of confronting these harsh realities, particularly as they relate to my home country of Canada, which was built on the deeply troubling foundations of genocide and ethnic cleansing targeted at Indigenous peoples. In recent years, thanks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the appalling truths about our past have been laid bare…This song serves as an urgent plea: let’s break the cycle. Let’s learn from the darkest chapters of our history to create a more just and compassionate future.”

Lyric Video: Deap Vally Tackles a Classic Stones Tune with Swaggering Aplomb

Acclaimed Los Angeles-based rock duo Deap Vally — Julie Edwards (drums, vocals) and Lindsey Troy (guitar, vocals) — can trace their origins to the duo’s chance meeting in a knitting class over a decade ago. The Los Angeles-based duo’s debut single, 2012’s “Gonna Make My Own Money,” was released through tiny British indie label Ark Recordings.

Since then, Edwards and Troy went on to release three albums of roaring, idiosyncratic maximalist minimalist rock — 2013’s SISTRONIX, 2016’s Nick Zinner-produced FEMEJISM and 2021’s MARRIAGE. They’ve shared stages with BlondieGarbageRed Hot Chili PeppersQueens of the Stone Age and a lengthy list of renowned acts. Along with that, they participated in a series of groundbreaking collaborations with an eclectic array of artists including PeachesKT TunstallJamie HinceSoko, and The Flaming Lips, with whom they recorded a joint album, 2020’s DEAP LIPS.

Although the band has been received critical applause and won fans across the globe, maneuvering the contemporary music industry has become increasingly difficult. And if you add the challenges of the pandemic and raising families, the duo increasingly found themselves struggling to fit into the recording, promotion and touring cycle. “That model isn’t compatible with our current lives,” Lindsey Troy says. “We found we just can’t function as a traditional band anymore,” Julie Edwards adds. “It’s time for both of us to explore motherhood and other avenues of our lives properly, rather than squeezing them into our artist’s hustle.”

“I’m so proud of all our records, and Julie and I have an uncanny creative relationship,” Troy says. “It’s hard to ever picture having that with someone else. After all that, ya never know what could happen! We need to find the balance where we can focus on the fun stuff, but have the freedom to make the music we love. We just felt it would be fitting to go out with a bang, not a whimper. I felt marking this occasion should be a cathartic process: healing deep wounds, reconnecting with old friends and collaborators – and falling in love with Deap Vally all over again.” 

So while Deap Vally is calling an end to their decade-plus long run together, they’ve decided to go out with a bang — and not with a whimper. They’re releasing a re-recorded version of their full-length debut, SISTRONIX 2.0, which is slated for a February 1, 2024 release through their own Deap Vally Records. The double LP will also include demos, previously unreleased covers, re-recordings of limited release B-sides and rarities, and much more. Pre-order vinyl, exclusive bundles and the digital LP here.  

They’ll be supporting SISTRONIX 2.0 with a final tour, which will see them celebrating SISTRONIX‘s 10th anniversary by playing SISTRONIX in its entirety. The tour begins with West Coast dates during November. And a Midwest and East Coast run in early 2024. The east coast run includes a February 17, 2024 stop at Le Poisson Rouge

More information on the tour can be found hereL.A. Witch, JOVM mainstays Death Valley GirlsSloppy Jane, and Spoon Benders will be opening for the band in select markets. A handful of new tour dates have been added and from what I understand there may be more added, so be on the lookout.

Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “Baby I Call Hell (Deap Vally’s Version),” a swaggering and towering ripper built around buzzing power chords, thunderous drumming and soulful vocals that capture the quintessential Deap Vally sound and energy but with a completely different, new context: The duo is a bit older and wiser. Kids are around — and that forces you to rethink everything about your life and career. But they do so lovingly and wistfully with a sense of admiration and awe as though the pair is saying to each other: “Holy shit! We did actually did THAT!” 

SISTRIONIX is just classic Deap Vally. It’s so pure and raw,” Troy continues. “It really encapsulates an era — an era of dank, yeasty backstage rooms across the UK, of the endorphin rush of that first wave of success, of youthful drunken, wild nights, of the worldly adventures and the newness of it all.”  

“We’re just going to go to play as many places as we can and say farewell to everyone,” Julie Edwards says. “Though the band is playing live for the last time, the door is open to us to collaborate. Now we’re all about re-establishing a workflow and connection around our friendship, after all we’ve shared together along the way.” 

“‘Baby I Call Hell’ is quintessential Deap Vally,” Lindsey Troy says. “It was the first song we ever wrote as a band, so it’s very meaningful to our story. Re-recording that song was a lot of fun, but also a lot of pressure because we wanted to make sure the recording captured the magic of the song again.” 

SISTRONIX 2.0‘s latest single is a previously unreleased swampy and sultry cover of The Rolling Stones‘ “Ventilator Blues” that captures the vibe and feel of the original while being defiantly feminist.

“Covering ‘Ventilator Blues’ was a special privilege to pay homage to one of the greatest and most seminal bands in the history of rock’n’roll,” Deap Vally’s Lindsey Troy says. “We recorded this song in 2014 and it has been in the vaults ever since, so I’m really glad it’s finally seeing the light of day!”

 “‘Ventilator Blues,’ one of our favorite Rolling Stones songs, is a song about the inevitable end we are all hurtling towards, and we felt it was a perfect way to soundtrack the final chapter of Deap Vally,” the band’s Julie Edwards adds.”To assemble this video, I sifted through archival footage from twelve years of heavy riffs, sweat, and dream-fulfillment.  This was a very cathartic exercise and I recommend it for anyone confronting the end of a project that meant everything to them.  This video would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of videographer and director Anthony Ferrara, who filmed some of our earliest shows, and has continued to bear digital witness to us up until the present day.”

Lyric Video: Ghostly Kisses Shares Swooning, Ethereal “Golden Eyes”

Québec City-based singer/songwriter Margaux Sauvé is the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed Canadian electro pop project Ghostly Kisses. The project derives its name from William Faulkner’s “Une ballade des dames perdues,” which seemed to her like the perfect reflection of her ethereal voice.

Sauvé has received attention both nationally and international for crafting hauntingly gorgeous and spectral electro pop that pairs her ethereal vocal with moody productions featuring gently swirling and ambient electronics, twinkling keys and propulsive drumming.

Now it’s been a handful of years since I’ve written about Sauvé and Ghostly Kisses. But her latest single, the swooning “Golden Eyes” sees her channeling Goldfrapp and Portishead with the song pairing skittering, UK garage beats, atmospheric house-inspired synths with her ethereal yet achingly yearning delivery.

Sauvé explains the track is “about being in love with your best friend and how gauche it feels to finally admit it. The lyrics were inspired by a revelation from a fan we met on tour, about how hard and vertiginous it can be to express our true feelings to someone that we really love.” While party about Sauvé’s own experience falling in love with her songwriting partner Louis-Étienne Santais, the song is also inspired by Ghostly Kisses’ ‘Box of Secrets’ project, where fans submitted anonymous stories to the band.

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Friendship Commanders Share Earnest and Rousingly Anthemic “We Were Here”

Released this past Friday, JOVM mainstays Friendship Commanders‘ Kurt Ballou and Friendship Commanders co-produced third album MASS is a concept album that thematically is about time, memory and frontperson Buick Audra’s personal experiences of leaving Massachusetts, a place she left because she no longer felt comfortable or welcome. 

In the lead-up to the album’s release, I managed to write about five of the album’s singles:

  • Fail,” a grunge-inspired ripper built around fuzzy power chords, thunderous drumming and enormous mosh pit friendly hooks and choruses paired with Buick Audra’s expressive, Ann Wilson-like delivery. “Fail” manages to simultaneously evoke a cry for help and a desperate attempt to connect with another that just seems to fall a bit short. The duo explained that the song was written to honor the memory of Spore‘s and Sunburned Hand of the Man‘s Marc Orleans, who committed suicide in June 2020. “We chose to make the song energetic, dissonant, and big, just as he would like it. Bit of a departure for us from our usual doomy vibe, but it’s still the same band, we think,” the band says. 
  • High Sun,” a 120 Minutes-era MTV alt-rock/shoegazey-like single that’s a a bit of a departure from the doom-influenced heaviness that they’re best known for. “When I moved away from Boston, I hauled an enormous amount of shame along with me. I had experienced these weird, high-impact moments that were not only troubling on their own, but the aftermath saw me painted as an outcast in my former social groups,” Friendship Commanders’ Buick Audra explains. “And I was young enough to believe that I was the problem. I had been in one controlling relationship in which being different was treated as disobedient, and I was punished for it—publicly. Being a person who was wired to take on blame, I absorbed it. But now when I look at the story, I see the manipulation, the dynamics that repeated themselves. They were experts at making people feel like outsiders, experts at deflecting responsibility. I wanted to drag it all out into the daylight with this big, fuzzy song. I’ve been waiting a long time to say this.”
  • Vampires,” an earnest, arena rock-like anthems — with the new single being built around fuzzy power chords, thunderous drumming, enormous shout-along worthy hooks. Much like its predecessors, “Vampires” is informed by and fueled by deeply embittering and at times humiliating personal experience. And as a result, the hurt and disdain at the core of the song is visceral. “There was a season at the end of my time in Boston where I was being turned into ‘The Problem’ by someone who wanted to control me and couldn’t; it was a moment where I could have played small and gone along with what she wanted, as I had once done,” Audra explains in press notes. “But I didn’t. I played big. I kept what was mine instead of giving it away—which included parts of my identity. And while the result was a scorched earth reality that impacts my sense of self to this day, it also ended the whole thing. I learned a valuable lesson in that season: don’t fuel the narcissists. Keep your power for yourself. It’s what they hate. And if they’re going to drag your character out in front of everyone you know, you might as well burn it all down for the warmth.”
  • Still Life,” a stormy and forceful ripper built around Jerry Roe‘s thunderous drumming, Audra’s towering walls of guitar and her powerhouse vocal, which in this song express hurt, confusion, simmering anger, defiance and pride within the turn of a phrase. The band explains that the song outlines a series of interactions in which one person is told to be quiet about their injuries, to essentially “walk them off,” even when those injuries might be life-threatening. 

MASS’ sixth and latest single, “We Were Here” continues a run of earnest, heart proudly worn on sleeve anthems built around Roe’s thunderous and forceful drumming, Audra’s roaring guitar work and powerhouse delivery paired with the duo’s unerring knack for enormous, arena rock friendly hooks and choruses.

The duo explains that the song look back to a time spent in a city, where you felt like a different person. And as a result, the song is fueled by a sense of loathing, shame and discomfort — but from a deeply universal position: If I had known then what I know now.

Lyric Video: Norway’s Beharie Shares Bouyant and Flirty “Desire”

Rising Norwegian singer/songwriter and pop artist Beharie has been busy over the past handful of years. Since 2019, he has released three EPs:

Each of those efforts have seen the rising Norwegian artist constantly expanding upon his sound, artistry and message, while refining his focus towards what’s to come.

Beharie’s highly-anticipated full-length debut, the 12-song Are You There Boy? is slated for an October 20, 2023 release. The album reportedly meets the artist where he is right now and invites listeners into a carefully curated sonic world that features vibrant melodies and delicate, smooth vocals. Thematically, the album sees the rising Norwegian exploring theme so love, self-doubt, desire, longing and pain with his heart worn proudly on his sleeve — and with a remarkable sense of nuance. The album follows a multi-faceted, fully-fleshed out character, who seeks meaningful connections, follows his curiosity where it takes him and ultimately discovers himself. As a result, the album sees its creator and its main narrator exploring the ever-changing, versatile aspects of his own humanity and identity, showcasing his growth, insecurities, passions and complexities.

“This album has given me the opportunity to delve into various aspects of my own identity, and in the process, I have explored the complexity inherent in my personality and expression,” Beharie explains. “We have nurtured different characters and played with their distinct expressions. These characters have been assigned unique names: Washed-out jeans boy, float in space boy, constant fear boy, make believe boy, and lost in thought boy.” Fittingly, each of those characters represents fragments of Beharie’s soul, personality and essence — all in search of a sense of belonging.

The album also features collaborations with two rising singer/songwriters — Dublin‘s Uly and The Netherlands’ Judy Blank.

Are You There Boy?‘s latest single, the flirty and playful “Desire” is built around a buoyant melodic groove, skittering boom bap serving as an ethereal and silky bed for Beharie’s tender and yearning delivery. The song’s narrator sweetly wants to prove to a prospective love interest, that he’s the right one for them — and for the rest of their lives. Behave explains that “Desire” is a confident love song about “insisting on being the right one for someone you like and telling them without any doubt, and being willing to do anything to make it happen.” 

Ultimately, “Desire” to me reveals a songwriter, who is able to effortlessly craft a catchy pop tune rooted in earnest, heartfelt lyricism while eschewing cliches and formulas.

Lyric Video: Jenn Champion Shares Meditative “Famous”

Born Jennifer Hays, the Tucson, AZ-born, Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jenn Champion can trace the origins of her music career to when she met her then-future Carissa’s Wierd bandmates Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke at the local pizza shop, where they all worked at the time. In 1997, the trio moved to Olympia, WA for about a year, before settling in Seattle, where the trio formed Carissa’s Wierd.

The trio released three albums before splitting up in 2003 — but interestingly, the trio cultivated a rabid cult following, which has resulted in the release of three compilation albums of their work, including 2010’s They’ll Only Miss You When You’re Gone: Songs 1996-2003, which was released through Hardly Art Records.

Since Carissa’s Wierd’s breakup, Champion has moved forward with several acclaimed solo projects including the guitar and vocal-based pop project S, with which she has released four albums, including 2010’s I’m Not As Good At It As You and 2014’s Chris Walla-produced Cool Choices. While critics and fans have raved over her open-hearted and willingness to eschew conventions while crating sad songs meant to be cried to and with.

The last half of Champion’s last S album found her moving towards an electronic-based sound with album track “No One”  being a complete embrace of electronics. “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” Champion said at the time. And although she intended to follow up Cool Choices with “a rock record — guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” her plans had changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.”

After the release of “No One,” Champion’s music publisher partnered her with Brian Fennell, an electronic music artist, songwriter and producer best known as  SYML and the pair co-wrote “Leave Like That,” which was featured on SYML‘s Hurt For Me EP.

Champion and Fennell hit it off so well that after Champion had written the demos for 2018’s Silent Rider, she enlisted Fennell as a producer. Fennell agreed and then they spent the next five months working on and refining the album’s material. “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been,” Champion recalls, and as a result the material evolved into a slickly produced collection of dance floor friendly anthems. But the album saw Champion maintaining the earnestness and vulnerable that has won her critical praise — all while imploring the listener to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance their heartache, outrage and disappointments away for a little bit.

Champion’s long-awaited third album The Last Night of Sadness is slated for an October 13, 2023 release through Gay Forever. The self-produced and self-recorded The Last Night of Sadness will remind the listener of her technical skill as a musician, but more important, it places her production process front and center. “I’ve always been able to be vulnerable in my music but with these songs and what I was feeling I wanted to keep this album pure. I was afraid that if I let it go outside of me, I’d dilute it,” Champion explains. “Sadness is in the title but this is the most confident record I’ve ever made. I took away all the places I could hide.”

When asked what it was she wanted to express with the album as a whole, Champion says “Suffering. And what a miracle it is to be heavy.” So yes, the album is heavy. But it’s also open and vulnerable the way you can only be when grieving. The album’s material sees the Seattle-based artist grappling with morality — of others, of herself and of the world in general. And yet it isn’t hopeless or joyless. There are moments of reprieve, in which you’re reminded that life is ultimately about the small joys and small victories.

The Last Night of Sadness‘ first single “Famous” is an 80s synth pop-inspired mid-tempo ballad built around glistening synth arpeggios, a poppy drum machine-driven groove paired with an incredibly catchy hook and Champion’s earnest, heartbroken delivery. At its core, is a wizened, self-aware narrator, who is coming to terms with their life — and they do so with an unvarnished, vulnerable honesty as she reflects on a rebellious youth and the gradual compromises and adjustments of adulthood. But the song is rooted in an existential dread and uncertainty that comes as you get older.

“I wanted to make a song about coming to terms with fame versus success and what it feels like to realize I have what I want,” the Seattle-based artist says. She continues, “As an artist sometimes it feels like fame and success are used interchangeably and over the course of my career in music I’ve seen how fame can bring with it all this money and opportunity but is also a gilded cage. This song is one that just came to me on a run one morning as I looked out over the city and I had to pull out my phone and start writing. I’ve gone through a reset of my priorities in the last few years and this song and this album are about the journey through existential dread that has me where I am now.”

Lyric Video: SANDS Shares Buoyant and Energetic “Transmission”

Andrew Sands is a London-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind rising shoegaze project SANDS. Influenced by Neil Young, David Bowie, The Smiths, David Lynch, Talk Talk, Echo and the Bunnymen and a long list of others, Sands’ own music sees him seamlessly blending rock, psych rock and elements of pop.

Since starting the project back in 2017, the London-based artist has released a handful of EPs and singles, including 2017’s S/T EP and “Let’s Run”/”Echoes,” 2018’s Waves Calling EP and “Tomorrow’s Gone”/”Burning Man” and 2019’s Nothing Can Go Wrong EP.

Sands’ highly-anticipated full-length debut, The World’s So Cruel is slated for an October 13, 2023. The album’s first single “Transmission” was written and produced at several London studio locations, including Hackney, South Bermondsey and his apartment. Built around glistening synths, buzzing guitar riffs, a relentlessly propulsive rhythm, a rousingly anthemic series of hooks and choruses paired with Sands’ plaintive delivery, the high energy “Transmission” manages to bring The Stone Roses and the Madchester sound to mind — but with a subtly modern take.

“Transmission” is inspired by the busy and eclectic Northeast London neighborhood that Sands once lived in. The lyrics capture the restless energy and activity of the neighborhood in a way that feels very familiar to me as a native New Yorker. And it does so in a way that feels a bit like a contented sigh of being home, and of awe of everything going on around you.

The lyric video is shot at a Northeast London market and captures some of that thrumming activity from a seemingly endless array of people coming and going, of money and goods changing hands.

Lyric Video: The Library is on Fire Teams Up with Mike Watt on a Tense and Uneasy Ripper

Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and musician Steve Five took his name from a poem by French wartime poet René Char, while working at Strand Bookstore. He also had weekly meetings over coffee with Television‘s Tom Verlaine. Five started The Library is on Fire back in 2007, and the band quickly established a sound that combined the melodies of Guided by Voices and the wall of sound guitar riffage of Dinosaur, Jr. and others.

The Library is on Fire quickly became a NYC scene mainstay and developed a reputation for playing chaotic live shows at Glasslands and Death by Audio. After several releases including 2010’s Magic Windows, Magic Nights, the band went on hiatus on 2014 with members going on to play in a number of other notable projects including Oberhofer, Public Access TV and more.

After a nearly lengthy hiatus, the members of The Library is on Fire have released new material, which will appear on their first album in almost a decade. The album will feature “Back Pocket,” a a sludgy, shoegazer-like ripper that brought A Place to Bury Strangers and others to mind.

The album’s second and latest single “Hotel Jugoslavija” features the legendary Mike Watt on a track built around relentless military styled drumming paired with sludgy angular bursts of guitar and lyrics that use a spy games metaphor to describe a relationship full of love, loss, deceit and heartbreak. The result is a song that possesses a math rock-meets-prog rock vibe while being tense and uneasy.

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstay Mariaa Siga Teams up with FissBassBeats on a Banger

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Senegalese-born and-based singer/songwriter, musician and JOVM mainstay Mariaa Siga.

So far this year, she has released two singles which I’ve written about:

  • Le murmure des anges,” a track that saw her collaborating with Artikal Band, who contribute a shuffling and buoyant reggae riddim paired with a slow-burning and soulful guitar solo and the Senegalese-born and-based artist’s expressive delivery. “Le murmure des angels” is a song that does two things — give thanks to the enteral while reminding listeners that they should listen to the little voice inside of us, which arms us with much-needed confidence; that voice that frequently says “You know, you got this. You know you’re dope.” 
  • Ni Mama,” which in her native Diola means “I’m Leaving” sees the JOVM mainstay continuing her ongoing collaboration with Artikal Band, who contribute a shuffling and breezily upbeat reggae riddim paired with wah wah pedalled guitar, shimmering keys serving as a supple bed for the Senegalese artist’s effortlessly soulful and earnest vocal. “Ni Mama” features lyrics in both her native Diola and in French that discuss a familiar sensation for many of us — the need to escape things when daily pressure and stress becomes overwhelming.

The JOVM mainstay’s latest single “Daaray Dunya,” was produced by FissBassBeats and sees the Senegalese artist singing and rhyming about the difficulties young people, who struggle to get by in a mad, mad, mad world, and yet continue to believe that they have a bright future. FissBassBeats contributes a tweeter and woofer rattling drill production featuring looped guitar, skittering beats and deep low end. While “Daaray Dunya” is a bit of a sonic departure from her previously released singles, it continues the Senegalese artist’s unique meshing of the ancient and the modern.