Tag: Mazzy Star

New Video: AMAARA Releases a Cinematic and Expressive Visual for “Desert Storm”

Kaelen Ohm is a British Columbia-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, musician, actor and award-winning filmmaker. As an actor, Ohm is known for roles in AMC’s Hell on Wheels, NBC’s Taken, MGM’s Condor, Lifetime Network’s Flint and several others. Ohm is also the creative mastermind behind the the multimedia project AMAARA. Interestingly, upon receiving the news that she was cast as a series regular in the Netflix original series Hit and Run, Ohm left Calgary with six songs off her forthcoming album Heartspeak completed. (Of course, much like everything else Hit and Run was impacted by COVID-19: the series’ first season was filmed in NYC last fall and they were filming in Israel when pandemic-related quarantines put this on hiatus, four weeks out from wrapping up thee season.)

Officially released today through Lady Moon Records, Heartspeak continues her ongoing collaboration with Reuben and the Dark‘s Brock Geier, and the album is the result of ten days of stream-of-consciousness-based songwriting, recording and production in Geiger’s bedroom studio. The material can trace its origins to the British Columbia-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, musician, actor and filmmaker sitting at the piano or with a guitar first thing each morning until a song was found — with the two collaborating on production and instrumental work, spending each day laying down tracks. But at its core, the album’s material was written as the culmination of life-changing heartbreak and the end of a marriage, and was a result is a deeply lived-in meditation on love, grief and self-evaluation. 

I’ve written about two of the album’s singles so far: the slow-burning and brooding “Awake” and the shoegazy Mazzy Star and Lightfoils-like “Gone,” both of which came from a place of lived-in grief and heartache, in which each narrator learns to accept them as a natural part of life that have to be lived with and through. “Desert Storm,”  the album’s third single is an brooding track that has two clearly delineated sections: a sparsely arranged introduction with twinkling keys, that slowly builds up into a brooding and cinematic bit of synth pop with thumping beats, fluttering synths; but the song is held together by atmospheric electronics and Ohm’s achingly plaintive vocals.  Much like the previously released material, “Desert Storm” is informed by heartache — in particular, life altering moments that wound up deeply changing us and the paths our lives will take. And while in the middle immeasurable pain, we don’t see that what we’re going through at that moment is profoundly important. 

Directed, produced and edited by Ohm, the incredibly cinematic visual is shot in the middle of the desert and features the Canadian-born artist expressively dancing with a collective of acclaimed dancers including Denzel Chisolm, Sohey Sugihara, Alekz Samone, Sarah Francis Jones dancing an expressive, hip-hop tinged moves choreographed by Tatiana Parker. Each and every moment from the dancers feels like a cathartic release of something previously pent up. 

New Video: AMAARA Releases Two Gorgeous and Dreamy Videos

Kaelen Ohm is a British Columbia-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, musician, actor and award-winning filmmaker. As an actor, Ohm is known for roles in AMC’s Hell on Wheels, NBC’s Taken, MGM’s Condor, Lifetime Network’s Flint and several others. In 2018, Ohm appeared in Charles Wahl’s short film Little Grey Bubbles, which premiered at ten Oscar qualifying festivals worldwide, including SXSW. The film was featured as a Staff Pick on Vimeo, earned best actress and best short film award nominations and received widespread praise from critics and blogs across the globe. 

Ohm is also the creative mastermind behind the the multimedia project AMAARA. Upon getting the news that she was cast a series regular in the new Netflix original series Hit and Run, Ohm left Calgary with six songs off her forthcoming album Heartspeak completed. Hit and Run was filmed in New York last fall and was filming in Israel and  was put on pause, four weeks out from wrapping up their first season as a result of COVID-19 quarantines and social distancing guidelines. 

Heartspeak, which continues her ongoing collaboration with Reuben and the Dark’s Brock Geier, is the result of ten days of stream-of-consciousness songwriting, recording and production in Geiger’s bedroom studio. Written completely by Ohm, the material can trace its origins to the British Columbia-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, musician, actor and filmmaker sitting at the piano or with a guitar first thing each morning until a song was found — with the two collaborating on production and instrumental work, spending each day laying down tracks. Written as a culmination of a life-changing heartbreak and the end of a marriage, the album’s material is a meditation on love, grief, freedom and self-evaluation. 

Slated for an August 14, 2020 release through Lady Moon Records, Ohm and Geier have released two singles from the album. “Awake,” a slow-burning and brooding single centered around shimmering guitar, twinkling keys, a soaring hook and Ohm’s plaintive vocals — and “Gone,” a decidedly shoegazey track featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats. And while respectively bringing Mazzy Star and Lightfoils to mind, both tracks come from a place of lived-in grief and heartache, accepting them as a natural part of life that one experiences and learns to live with — and through. 

The accompanying videos were directed and by Ohm. “Gone” employs a simple concept of Ohm performing the song by herself in the desert — but the video features a cinematic sweep that makes its creator seem tiny. “Awake,” features Ohm traveling a surreal and unusually empty New York. And while capturing the experience of wandering New York during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a commentary of on how the jarring experience of realizing one’s own illusion of perfection can be an awakening experience. 

New Video: Polish Shoegeazers Waterville Releases a Cinematic Visual for Atmospheric New Single

Founded in one of Poland’s more remote, peaceful and natural environments, the emerging Polish shoegaze trio Waterville — Hiacynta Szulc (vocals, bass),  Marcin Adamczuk (guitar) and Bartosz Niedzwiecki (drums) — craft material informed by concerns about climate change and its impact on the planet’s ecology, human relationships and those things that are truly important to humanity. 

Coincidentally, the band’s recently released debut EP Shades and Whispers is their label Shore Dive Records’ 50th release, and to commemorate the occasion, the EP’s latest single “Shadows”  is a slow-burning and atmospheric track centered around strummed guitar chords, Szulc’s ethereal vocals, dramatic drumming and a soaring hook. Sonically, the track draws comparisons to Slowdive and Mazzy Star. 

The recently released, cinematic video begins with a car driving down a foggy and late night, two-laned highway. When the car gets to its destination, we follow a young couple on a lengthy walk through the fields — but as the video progresses, it appears that the couple is lost and helpless in a cold and indifferent world. 

New Audio: Two Posthumously Released Covers featuring The Psychic Ills’ Tres Warren

Centered around core duo Tres Warren (vocals, guitar) and Elizabeth Hart (bass), the acclaimed New York-based psych rock act Psychic Ills over the past decade or so have developed a reputation for following wherever their muses and instincts have taken them, frequently experimenting and changing up their sound and songwriting approach — seemingly at will.

The band’s fifth album, 2016’s Inner Journey Out was the culmination of three years of touring, writing and recording that found the band expanding upon the sound and aesthetic that won the attention of the blogosphere with the material incorporating subtle bits of honky tonk country, blues, gospel and jazz to their 60s psych rock-inspired sound. Whereas much of their previous material found Warren overdubbing his guitar to create a massive sound, the album’s material focused on Warren’s and Hart’s collaborations with a who’s who list of acclaimed artists including Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions and Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, their touring keyboardist Brent Cordero, Chris Millstein, Endless Boogie’s Harry Druzd, The Entrance Band’s Derek James, Charles Burst and a host of friends and associates, who also provide pedal steel guitar, horns, strings and backing vocals.

Thematically, Inner Journey Out may arguably be the most introspective of their catalog, as the material explored the interior and exterior lives of its narrators, and the difficult and uneasy pathways that unite them. Much of the material is centered around a lonely and plaintive ache for connection to something or something — but with the underlying recognition that moments of true connection are not just extremely rare, but fleeting and impermanent.

Earlier this month, Psychic Ills’ Tres Warren tragically died at the age of 41. Before his death, Warren had been busy writing new material and along with Hart and a cast of collaborators was gearing up to head to the studio to record what was supposed to be their sixth album, slated for release later this year. Sadly, that material was never recorded; however, the band did record two covers — a cover of The Beach Boys’ “Never Learn to Not Love” and  a cover of Charles Manson’s “Cease to Exist,” which Sacred Bones Records will release both digitally and on vinyl.

Originally appearing on The Beach Boys’ 1969 album 20/20, credited to Dennis Wilson and with changes to the arrangement and lyrics, “Never Learn Not To Love,” was originally written as “Cease to Exist” by a then-unknown singer/songwriter named Charles Manson. The following year, Manson’s version would appear his album Live: The Love and Terror Cult — and by that time, he was already incarcerated for the Tate-LaBlanca murders.

How the members of The Beach Boys came across the song and then have a version of it appear on an album is equal parts apocryphal and legendary — and Manson’s disappointment with the lyrical and structural changes to the song have been well documented. Considering The Beach Boys’ place in American culture, their simultaneous adherence to and departure from the original has long been a point of fascination for many music buffs, but for Warren, it was something less tangible that kept him coming back to both songs through the years. “The soulfulness is what has always spoken to me in those songs,” Warren explained, “I gravitate towards that(soul) in music, and both of these songs have it in spades. I almost shed a tear every time I hear Dennis Wilson sing.”

The Psychic Ills’ version of “Never Learn Not To Love” finds the band echoing the arrangement and feel of the The Beach Boys recording but the female gospel-like backing vocalists nod at Phil Spector and Motown. “We wanted to honor the originals, but we didn’t want to cover them note for note,” Warren said in press notes. “We wanted to bring them to where we are.” Interestingly, the end result is a cover that sounds as though it could have appeared on Inner Journey Out. 

The Psychic Ills version of “Cease to Exist” is centered around an intimate and seemingly improvised performance with very few takes. It begins with Warren asking engineer Iván Díaz Mathè, “Ivi is it rolling?” And Warren starts playing, the band falls behind him, adhering to their own intuitive cues and those of the collective whole. Reportedly, this version which brings the performance directly to the listener, is similar in fashion to the Manson original. Yes, these covers are the last bit of material Warren recorded — and as a result, they’ve taken on an eerie and spectral quality while remaining hauntingly beautiful.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Noosa, Australia-born, London-based indie pop duo and JOVM mainstays Geowulf. The act, which is comprised of longtime friends Star Kendrick and Toma Benjamin have known each other since they were teenagers; however, their musical collaboration is a much more recent development that can be traced to when Kendrick enlisted the assistance of her old friend Benjamin, to flesh out some of her early demos.

The duo then released a string of highly successful, critically applauded singles that began with “Saltwater,” which received over 1 million Spotify streams and reached Hype Machine‘s Top Ten and landed at #4 on Spotify’s US Viral Charts, continued with the Mazzy Star meets Fleetwood Mac-like “Don’t Talk About You,” the  Phil Spector meets Still Corners “Drink Too Much” and  the jangling, 60s girls group pop-inspired single “Hideaway,;” and The Smiths-like “Sunday,” before the release of their Duncan Mills-produced full-length debut, last year’s Great Big Blue.

Building upon their rapidly growing international profile. the duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore album My Resignation is slated for an October 25, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings. The album reportedly finds Geowulf’s Kendrick writing arguably some of the most brutally honest lyrics of the band’s growing catalog to date. Written from the perspective and lens of a 20-something women trying to maneuver the weight of expectations put upon by others and herself, the album touches upon heartbreak and loneliness — in particular, leaning how to accept and love the space and much-needed self-awareness it can provide. As a result, the album and its material finds the duo maturing and attempting to maneuver the complexities and uncertainties of adulthood with their dignity and sanity intact. And if that feels familiar to you, it should. We’ve all been there at some point or another, and we’re still struggling through it all.

My Resignation‘s fifth and latest single, album title track, the deliberately crafted pop confection “My Resignation” is centered around a Phil Spector Wall of Sound-like production consisting of shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths, a propulsive rhythm section, a soaring hook and Kendrick’s gorgeous vocals expressing regret, weariness and hope for a new start simultaneously. “‘My Resignation’ inspired the name and the theme of the album,” the band’s Star Kendrick explains in press notes. It summed up a lot of the years before — resigning from old habits and relationships. Creating space for new things and learning to let go. Toma and I feel proud of the song and had a lot of fun writing and finessing it. I originally wrote the demo on holiday in Sweden, so it came back to London with me, where Toma and I worked on it some more.”

Geowulf will be returning to North America to embark on a handful of tour dates throughout November. The tour will include a November 11, 2019 stop at Mercury Lounge. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

NORTH AMERICAN DATES:
11/7/2019 – Chicago, IL – Schubas
11/8/2019 – Toronto, ON – Drake
11/11/2019 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
11/13/2019 – Los Angeles, CA -Moroccan Lounge
11/14/2019 – San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
11/15/2019 – Seattle, WA – Barboza

New Video: Up-and-Coming Swedish-born Singer Songwriter BERG Releases Haunting Visuals for Shimmering and Brooding “What If”

Born in Stockholm to a Swedish father and American mother, the London-based Swedish-American singer/songwriterAlexandra Berglöf, a.k.a BERG grew up on a houseboat on the Swedish island of Djurgården. When Berglöf turned five, she began intensive piano lessons under the strict supervision of a Romanian concert pianist. And by the time she was 13, Berglöf was performing all over Stockholm. While studying to join a piano conservatory, she was simultaneously scouted by pop producers for her vocals; however, after a family tragedy, Berglöf left Sweden and music behind for some time. 

As an adult,. Berglöf relocated to London, where she used music as both a form of escape and as a coping mechanism. She also met her producer and collaborator The Horrors’ Faris Badwan. And with Badwan’s help Berglöf began to explore the disguises and facades we wear and the various sides of ourselves that we die from ourselves and others. Starting off as internal dialogue, BERG’s lyrics are rooted in honest moments of self-reflection. Through her music she hopes to create a world and soundscape that invites listeners to unlock and face the stories that they’ve buried. 

Berglöf’s BERG debut album Fake Love was released earlier this year, and the album pairs Padwans’ ethereal and dream-like production with Berglöf’s gorgeous vocals. Thematically the album’s material explores our international conversations and the constant battles and crises we have within ourselves. “I tend to only show my light to others. I hide my flaws, mistakes and falls, then beat myself up about it,” Berglöf says in press notes. “Maybe by exposing some of those truths, I can stop others from feeling so alone in their darkness.”

Interestingly, “What If,” BERG’s debut single and the album’s first is a sparsely arranged  , Mazzy Star-like track centered around shimmering guitars, gently padded drums and Berglöf’s gorgeous and ethereal vocals. But at the core of the song is a sense of regret over missed chances from cowardice, stupidity, self-doubt and bad timing — including unspoken love. And in some way the song asks the listener an important question: what if you weren’t bound by fear and could reveal how you really feel, would you be where you are right now? How would your life be different?  

Directed by Connor Carver-Carter, the recently released video follows a couple frozen in time at various points in their history together with each particular scene referencing a painting. Each person within the relationship are suffering through an internal struggle, which impacts themselves and their relationships — and throughout you can see the unease, uncertainty and despair as seen through their lack of contact and communication. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Geowulf Releases a Shimmering and Self-Assured Pop Gem

I’ve written quite a bit about Geowulf over the past few years. Comprised of Noosa, Australia-born friends and collaborators, Star Kendrick and Toma Benjamin, have known each other since they were teenagers; however, their musical collaboration is a relatively recent development that can be traced to when Kendrick enlisted the assistance of her old friend to flesh out some of her early demos. 

The duo released a string of highly successful, critically applaud singles that included “Saltwater,” which received over 1 million Spotify streams and reached Hype Machine‘s Top Ten and landed at #4 on Spotify’s US Viral Charts; the Mazzy Star meets  Fleetwood Mac-like “Don’t Talk About You;” the  Phil Spector meets Still Corners “Drink Too Much;”  the jangling, 60s girls group pop-inspired single “Hideaway,;” and The Smiths-like “Sunday,” the JOVM mainstays released their Duncan Mills-produced, full-length debut, Great Big Blue last year.

Building on the growing profile, the duo’s highly anticipated sophomore album My Resignation is slated for an October 25, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings, and the album finds the Aussie JOVM mainstays collaborating with acclaimed songwriter and producer Justin Parker on a number of tracks. Reportedly, the album finds Kendrick writing arguably some of the most brutally honest lyrics of the duo’s growing catalog to date. In fact, the material thematically focuses on loneliness — in particular, learning how to accept it and love the space and self-awareness it can provide. But naturally, the material is written through the lens of a 20-something woman trying to maneuver the weight of the expectations put upon by others and herself. Along with that, the album also deals with heartbreak. Of course that all should sound familiar and it should because all of us have been there at some point or another. In other words, the album finds the duo maturing and attempting to maneuver the complexities and uncertainties of adulthood with their sanity and dignity intact. 

My Resignation’s fourth and latest single “Lonely” is an incredibly self-assured bit of radio friendly and sugary pop, centered around jangling guitars, atmospheric synths, thumping drumming and Kendrick’s sultry crooning, but the song finds its narrator coming to a profound realization — that it’s better to be lonely and find yourself than to be lost and lonely with someone else. The song’s narrator also seems to be growing more confident within herself and within her own skin. It’s arguably one of the most mature and adult sentiments the duo have put to wax so far. 

“In a way, ‘Lonely’ epitomizes a lot of what this album means to me . . .” Geowulf’s Star Kendrick explains in press notes. “A bold and welcomed acceptance of myself and my own company. Feeling less and less like I need the approval of others. That’s one of the many nice things about getting a bit older.” 

The recently released video was shot on grainy Super 8mm film and it features Kendrick is a sparsely arranged room, wearing a gorgeous red, satin gown with matching veil. As she sings the song to herself, she takes off the gown and completes the song in just a plain bra and pair of panties. Essentially, the video finds Kendrick disposing of superficialities to get to the heart of the matter — her growing comfort with herself. 

New Audio: Acclaimed Dream Pop Act Cigarettes After Sex Release a Hauntingly Spectral Single

Currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Greg Gonzalez (vocals, guitar) with Jacob Tomsky (drums) and Randy Miller (bass), the acclaimed Brooklyn-based dream pop act Cigarettes After Sex can trace their origins back to when Gonzalez formed the band in El Paso. TX back in 2008. Their debut EP, 2012’s I received some attention when “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” became a sleeper hit of sorts, after it was licensed for use in commercials.

With the release of 2017’s self-titled debut, Cigarettes After Sex quickly became international sensations. Since its release the album as sold over 550,000 records to date, amassed over 360 million Spotify streams, 2.2 million monthly listeners and 350 million YouTube streams. They’ve been featured in a number of major media outlets including Vice Noisey, V Magazine, Interview, NPR’s Tiny Desk — and their music has appeared in The Handmaid’s Tale, Killing Eve and in a Ralph Lauren ad campaign. Additionally, Taylor Swift, Kylie Jenner, Lana Del Rey, Françoise Hardy, Lily Allen, Busy Phillips and a long list of others have claimed to be fans of the band’s work. 

During the week of their full-length debut’s release, the members of the Cigarettes After Sex traveled to Mallorca, Spain. And naturally, each of the band’s individual members consciously let the striking location guide what was to become the initial sessions for their forthcoming sophomore album Cry. “The sound of this record is completely tied to the location for me,” Greg Gonzalez explains in press notes. “Ultimately, I view this record as a film. It was shot in this stunning, exotic location, and it stitches all these different characters and scenes together, but in the end is really about romance, beauty and sexuality. It’s a very personal telling of what those things mean to me.” 

While the instrumentation came about quickly — often improvised on the spot — it would be another two years before Gonzalez would attempt to complete the material’s accompanying lyrics. Slated for an October 25, 2019 release through Partisan Records, Cigarettes After Sex’s highly-anticipated sophomore album is influenced by a new, burgeoning romantic relationship, the films of Eric Rohmer and the work of Selena and Shania Twain. Thematically, the material is a cinematic and brooding meditation on the many complex facets of love — meeting, wanting, needing and losing .  . . sometimes simultaneously. But interestingly enough, Cry will find the band blending the carnal subtly of its predecessor with a warmer sonic palette. 

Cry’s first single is the spectral yet lush “Heavenly.” Centered around Gonzalez’s achingly tender and vulnerable falsetto, hushed and shuffling drumming, shimmering guitar, a sinuous bass line and a soaring hook, the song sonically reminds me a bit of Mazzy Star’s smash hit “Fade Into You.” And much like  “Fade Into You,” “Heavenly” is a feverish, narcoleptic dream that expresses a wild, desperate, swooning longing — the sort that mixes devotion, obsession, love and lust into a confusing and wonderful blur.  Of course, the song finds the band managing to craft material that’s as intimate as whispered, sweet  nothings to a lover while possessing a cinematic (and larger than life) quality.  As the band’s Greg Gonzalez explains, the song was “inspired by the overwhelming beauty I felt watching an endless sunset on a secluded beach in Latvia one summer night…”