Tag: Mercury Lounge

Over the past two years or so, you’ve likely come across a number of posts featuring the London-based JOVM mainstays Ten Fe. Initially comprised of singer/songwriter duo Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan, the duo won national and international attention for pairing their distinct writing styles and voices into a unique sound.

Now, as you may recall Moorhouse and Duncan had played in a number of London area bands in which they individually felt as though there was pressure to fit into a particular scene, whether through a one way of playing or a certain way of looking, and it was something they felt unnatural and unnecessarily labored — and it was something that they deeply reviled. Interestingly enough, as the story goes, Moorhouse and Duncan met at a party and became busking partners in the London Underground. In those very early days, they enjoyed the very simple pleasures of playing music they loved — mostly early rock, early Beatles and the like — and earning cash while doing so. Coming from a place of pure joy, they noticed a profound simpatico, and they began to play their own original material. “We had a very clear idea of what we wanted. For things to be simple, based around songs that are unashamed in their directness, and that we love: The CureU2Springsteen and The Stones. We’d spend years playing through these on the tube, realising you don’t need to break the mould. Its best to ignore all the voices telling you that you need to for the sake of it, and go for something deeper,” the duo explained in press notes.  And with Ten Fe, Moorhouse and Duncan wanted to focus primarily on the song with style serving the song — and while being anthemic and downright arena rock friendly, their sound is difficult to describe and even more so to pigeonhole, as it possesses elements of the Manchester sound, Brit Pop, Americana, electro pop and contemporary indie rock. They manage to do this while balancing careful, deliberate attention to craft with soulful earnestness and bombast.

Moorhouse and Duncan then spent the next two years, writing, revising and recording in each other’s bedrooms, which included prolonged writing sessions at Duncan’s dad’s house in Walsall, UK, relentless busking, hustling and saving, and an impossibly lengthy list of band members and producers before they signed a publishing deal and briefly relocated to Berlin, where they recorded their Ewan Pearson-produced full-length debut effort Hit the Lights. “Its no coincidence that the name of this band means ‘have faith’” says Leo Duncan.

After spending the past 18 months touring to support their full-length debut effort Hit the Light, which included an incredible set at Mercury Lounge earlier this year, the project officially expanded into a full-fledged band with the permanent additions of touring members Rob Shipley (bass) and Johnny Drain (keys), who are two of Duncan’s oldest friends from Walsall, and Alex Hammond (drums). Returning back to England, the newly constituted quintet began writing material for their highly-anticiapted sophomore effort, and the first bit of recorded output as a quintet “Single, No Return” may be a bit of a taste of what we should expect from the new album, as it manages to capture the band’s live sound and energy, complete with a swaggering and jaunty stride. Interestingly, the band has referred to the song as being a descendant of Hank Williams‘ “Ramblin’ Man,” a song which the band’s founding members used to play while busking in the London Underground, and although they claim that when it came to the song’s arrangement they thought of The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young but with a bit of swing to the mix, to my ears it sounds a bit more like the Psychic Ills, filtered through Brit Pop; but no matter — the song manages to evoke life on the road and its seductive pull on one’s soul while further establishing their ability to craft effortlessly slick, hook-driven material.

JOVM mainstay Nicole Atkins is a Neptune, New Jersey-born, Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter, best known for a sound that draws influence from 50s crooner pop, 60s psych rock and psych pop, soul music and Brill Building pop; in fact, some critics have compared her sound favorably to the likes of Roy Orbison and others; in fact, Atkins has publicly cited the favorites of her parents’ record collection as being major influences on her, including The Ronettes, Johnny Cash, The Beach Boys, The SundaysHarriet Wheeler and Cass Elliot.

And as you may recall, Atkins started playing piano when she turned nine, and taught herself to play guitar at 13. By the time she was attending Belmar, NJ’s St. Rose High School, she was playing in pick-up bands and playing gigs at local coffeehouses. Upon graduating from high school, Atkins attended the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, where she studied illustration and ingrained herself within the city’s independent music scene. While in Charlotte, she began writing original songs and befriending a number of local musicians; at one point, she was a member of a local supergroup Nitehawk that, at one point had close to 30 members. She also joined Los Parasols and released an EP with them, The Summer of Love in 2002; however, later that year, she moved to Brooklyn, where she began to be influenced by the Rainbow Quartz Records roster, and began writing songs more along the lines of Wilco and Roy Orbison.

By early 2005, Atkins ran into keyboardist Dan Chen, who she had known from her days playing at The Sidewalk Cafe. And as the story goes, Chen approached her about forming a new band, a band which eventually became Nicole Atkins and The Sea. During a residency at Piano’s, the band won the attention of music industry attorney Gillian Bar and Atkins along with her backing band quickly found themselves in a bidding war between several record labels before signing with Columbia Records in early 2006. At the end of that year, Atkins and her backing band went to Sweden — Varispeed Studios in Kalegrup, Sweden and Gula Studion in Malmo — to record their Tore Johansson-produced debut effort Neptune City, which was released in October 2007 to accommodate re-mastering of the album. The album was a critical and commercial success, debuting at number 20 on Billboard‘s Top Heatseekers Chart and reached number 6 on the Heatseekers Middle Atlantic Chart.

2011 saw the release of her critically applauded, Phil Palazzolo-produced sophomore effort Mondo Amore. Recorded at Brooklyn’s Seaside Lounge Studio, Atkins’ new backing band The Black Sea featured Irina Yalkowsky (guitar), Mike Graham (drums) and Jermey Kay (bass). Atkins and her backing band played that year’s SXSW and were named by Spin Magazine as “the best live band of the festival,” and Mondo Amore received attention from the The New York Times and Rolling Stone.

During the winter of 2012 Atkins returned to Malmo, Sweden to record her third full-length effort Slow Phaser with Tore Johansson. Released in February 2014 to critical applause, the album landed at number 143 on the Billboard 200 based on the strength of singles “Girl You Look Amazing” and “Who Killed the Moonlight?” Adding to a big 2014 Atkins appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, where she performed a new rendition of “War Torn” off her Live from the Masonic Temple, Detroit album, an album which was recorded while she toured as the opener for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Recoded at Fort Worth, TX‘s Niles City Sound, with a production team featuring Austin Jenkins, Josh Block and Chris Vivion and mixed by the Alabama Shakes‘ Ben Tanner, Atkins’ fourth album Goodnight Rhonda Lee marks two different but important occasions in the renowned singer/songwriter’s career — it’s her first album in three years, and more important, it marks a sonic departure from her previously released work. As I mentioned earlier, Goodnight Rhonda Lee‘s first single “A Little Crazy,” a collaboration with Chris Issak was a delicate and soulful ballad that clearly nods to some of Atkins’ earliest influences — in particular, Roy Orbison with a hint of Patsy Cline. However, “Darkness Falls So Quiet,” the album’s second single was a stomping and soulful track that nodded at  Dusty Springfield — and much like Springfield’s legendary work, Atkins’  vocals, which manage to simultaneously express swaggering self-assuredness and aching loneliness are paired with a warm and soulful arrangement that features a gorgeous string section, twinkling keys and a Daptone Records-like horn section. Interestingly, the album’s third and latest single “Sleepwalking” continues the soulful vein of its predecessor; however, with a shuffling arrangement featuring guitar, bass, twinkling keys and bold blasts of horn the song manages to nod at early Motown Records — to my ear, I thought of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, and even Charles Bradley. 

Atkins will be touring throughout the summer and fall to support the new album, slated for release in a few weeks. The tour will include a September 9, 2017 stop at Mercury Lounge. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.
Tour Dates:

7/20 – Lexington, KY – The Burl
7/21 – Florence, AL – WC Handy Festival
7/23 – Nashville, TN – 3rd and Lindsley
7/25 – Annapolis, MD – Rams Head on Stage w/Robert Ellis
7/26 – Fairfield, CT – Stage One
7/29 – Freehold, NJ – Monmouth County Fair
7/30 – Newport, RI – Newport Folk Festival w/Steelism and Ruby Amanfu
8/7 – Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark
8/8 – Chicago, IL – Space
8/10 – Davenport, IA – The Raccoon Motel
8/11 – Iowa City, IA – The Mill
8/12 – Minneapolis, MN – Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
8/18 – Asheville, NC – Altamont Theatre
8/19 – Athens, GA – Wildwood Revival 2017
8/26 – Arlington, VA – Lockn’ Festival
9/8 – Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle
9/9 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
9/10 – Asbury Park, NJ – Shadow of the City Festival @ Stony Pony Summer Stage – Shadow of the City Festival

Nicole Atkins is a Neptune, New Jersey-born, Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter, arguably best known as one for her time in Asbury Park, NJ — and perhaps more important for a sound that draws influence from 50s crooner pop, 60s psych rock and psych pop, soul music and Brill Building pop; in fact, some critics have compared her and her sound favorably to the likes of Roy Orbison and others. This shouldn’t be surprising as Atkins has publicly cited the favorites of her parents’ record collection as being major influences on her, including The Ronettes, Johnny Cash, The Beach Boys, The SundaysHarriet Wheeler and Cass Elliot.
Atkins started playing piano when she turned nine and taught herself to play guitar at 13 and by the time she was attending Belmar, NJ’s St. Rose High School, she was playing in pick-up bands and playing gigs at local coffeehouses. Upon graduating from high school, Atkins attended the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, where she studied illustration and ingrained herself within the city’s independent music scene. And while in Charlotte, she began writing original songs and befriending a number of local musicians; in fact, at one point, she was a member of a local supergroup Nitehawk that, at one point had close to 30 members. She also joined Los Parasols and released an EP with them, The Summer of Love in 2002; however, later that year, she moved to Brooklyn, where she began to be influenced by the Rainbow Quartz Records roster, and began writing songs more along the lines of Wilco and Roy Orbison.

 

By early 2005, Atkins ran into keyboardist Dan Chen, who she had known from her days playing at The Sidewalk Cafe. Chen approached her about forming a new band, a band which eventually became Nicole Atkins and The Sea. During a residency at Piano’s, the band won the attention of music industry attorney Gillian Bar and quickly found herself in a bidding war between several record labels before signing with Columbia Records in early 2006. A the end of that year, Atkins and her backing band went to Sweden — Varispeed Studios in Kalegrup, Sweden and Gula Studion in Malmo — to record their Tore Johansson-produced debut effort Neptune City, which was released in October 2007 to accommodate re-mastering of the album. The album was a critical and commercial success, debuting at number 20 on Billboard‘s Top Heatseekers Chart and reached number 6 on the Heatseekers Middle Atlantic Chart.

2011 saw the release of her critically applauded, Phil Palazzolo-produced sophomore effort Mondo Amore. Recorded at Brooklyn’s Seaside Lounge Studio, Atkins’ new backing band The Black Sea featured Irina Yalkowsky (guitar), Mike Graham (drums) and Jermey Kay (bass). Atkins and her backing band played that year’s SXSW and were named by Spin Magazine as “the best live band of the festival,” and Mondo Amore received attention from the The New York Times and Rolling Stone.

During the winter of 2012 Atkins returned to Malmo, Sweden to record her third full-length effort Slow Phaser with Tore Johansson. Released in February 2014 to critical applause, the album landed at number 143 on the Billboard 200 based on the strength of singles “Girl You Look Amazing” and “Who Killed the Moonlight?” Adding to a big 2014 Atkins appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, where she performed a new rendition of “War Torn” off her Live from the Masonic Temple, Detroit album, an album which was recorded while she toured as the opener for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Recoded at Fort Worth, TX‘s Niles City Sound, with a production team featuring Austin Jenkins, Josh Block and Chris Vivion and mixed by the Alabama Shakes‘ Ben Tanner, Atkins’ fourth album Goodnight Rhonda Lee marks two different things — the first being her first album in three years, the second a marked sonic departure from her previous work. The album’s first single, co-written by Chris Issak, “A Little Crazy” was a delicate and soulful ballad that clearly nods to many of Atkins’ early influences — in particular, Roy Orbison with a hint of Patsy Cline. However, the album’s second and latest single “Darkness Falls So Quiet” is a stomping and soulful track that nods at Dusty Springfield — and much like Springfield’s legendary work, Atkins’ incredible vocals, which manage to simultaneously express swaggering self-assuredness and aching loneliness are paired with a warm and soulful arrangement that features a gorgeous string section, twinkling keys and a Daptone Records-like horn section. And if weren’t for the subtly modern production, you may have mistaken the song for being released in 1963.

Goodnight Rhonda Lee is slated for a July 21, 2017 release through Single Lock Records, and Atkins will be touring throughout the summer and fall to support the new album. The tour will include a September 9, 2017 stop at Mercury Lounge. Check out the rest of the tour dates below — and if she’s playing at a venue near you, go see her. She’s fantastic live.
Tour Dates:

7/20 – Lexington, KY – The Burl
7/21 – Florence, AL – WC Handy Festival
7/23 – Nashville, TN – 3rd and Lindsley
7/25 – Annapolis, MD – Rams Head on Stage w/Robert Ellis
7/26 – Fairfield, CT – Stage One
7/29 – Freehold, NJ – Monmouth County Fair
7/30 – Newport, RI – Newport Folk Festival w/Steelism and Ruby Amanfu
8/7 – Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark
8/8 – Chicago, IL – Space
8/10 – Davenport, IA – The Raccoon Motel
8/11 – Iowa City, IA – The Mill
8/12 – Minneapolis, MN – Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
8/18 – Asheville, NC – Altamont Theatre
8/19 – Athens, GA – Wildwood Revival 2017
8/26 – Arlington, VA – Lockn’ Festival
9/8 – Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle
9/9 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
9/10 – Asbury Park, NJ – Shadow of the City Festival @ Stony Pony Summer Stage – Shadow of the City Festival

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Veldt Return with Hallucinogenic Sounds and Visuals for “One Day Out of Life”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the past 12-18 months or so, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring the pioneering, Raleigh, NC/NYC-based sheogazer rock quintet The Veldt. Currently comprised of founding members, primary songwriters and identical twin brothers Daniel Chavis (vocals, guitar) and Danny Chavis (guitar) and Martin Levi (drums), along with along with Hayato Nakao (bass) and Frank Olsen (guitar), the band can trace their origins back to the Chapel Hill, NC music scene of the late 80s and early 90s — a scene that included Superchunk, arguably the most commercially successful and best known of the acts from that region, Polvo, Dillon Fence, and others.

With the band’s initial lineup featuring the Chavis Brothers and Levi, along with Joseph “Hue” Boyle (bass) and later David Burris, the members of The Veldt managed to be a rarity as a shoegazer rock band that prominently featured black men in a place and time, in which it was considered rather unusual, if not extremely uncommon — and they hailed from the South. Interestingly enough, the band quickly attained “must-see” status and with the 1992 release of their full-length debut Marigolds, the band saw a rapidly expanding national profile as the members of the band were profiled by MTV as a buzz-worthy act. And as a result, the then-Chapel Hill-based band earned a much more lucrative recording contact with Polygram Records, who in 1994 released their highly-acclaimed Ray Shulman produced sophomore effort Aphrodisiac. Thanks in part to being on a major label and to a pioneering sound that meshed elements of old-school soul, shoegaze, Brit Pop and early 90s alt rock, the band found themselves on the verge of international and commercial success opening for the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, Oasis, Cocteau Twins, Pixies, Fishbone, Corrosion of Conformity and others; however, the members of the shoegazer quintet experienced embittering difficulties and infighting with both their label and their management, who repeatedly told the band that they found them “too difficult to market.” And as a result, the band was dropped from Polygram and subsequently from two other labels.

While going through a series of lineup changes, the band released two albums, Universe Boat and Love At First Hate before officially going on a lengthy hiatus in 1998. Now, here’s where things get rather interesting: Several years later, the Chavis Brothers had resurfaced in New York with a new project Apollo Heights, which began to receive attention locally for a sound that effortlessly meshed soul, trip-hop and electronica with shoegazer rock — and for their Robin Guthrie (of Cocteau Twins)-produced debut effort, White Music for Black People, which featured the band collaborating with Guthrie, Mos Def, Deee- Lite‘s Lady Kier, TV on the Radio‘s Dave Sitek, and Mike Ladd. And although the members of The Veldt have toiled in varying amounts of relative obscurity over the past 20+ years, the Chavis Brothers’ and their bandmates’ work has managed to quietly reverberate, becoming much more influential than what its creators could have ever imagined as members of internationally renowned acts Bloc Party and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek have publicly claimed the band as influencing their own genre defying sound and aesthetic.

Last year may have been arguably one of the bigger years of the band’s history as the members of the recently reformed band released several singles off the first batch of new original material in almost 20 years, The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation Mixtape — in particular the swooning “Sanctified” and the sultry and moody “In A Quiet Room” which revealed a subtle yet noticeable meshing of the early shoegazer sound of The Veldt with the trip-hop and electronic-leaning sound of Apollo Heights. Building upon the buzz of those singles, the members of The Veldt went on several tours, including one in which they opened for The Brian Jonestown Massacre and others — and much like the resurgence of Detroit-based proto-punkers Death, the Chavis Brothers and company firmly reasserted their place within both Black musical history and within musical history in general, making a vital connection between The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cocteau Twins, The Verve, Fishbone, Marvin Gaye, Prince and TV on the Radio among others.

The Raleigh and New York-based band began 2017 with the “Symmetry”/”Slow Grind” 7 inch vinyl single, which North Carolina-based indie retail store and label Schoolkids Records will be releasing exclusively for Record Store Day. “Symmetry” was a slow-burning Quiet Storm soul meets shimmering and moody shoegaze single in which Daniel Chavis’ ethereal crooning placidly floats over a stormy mix of swirling electronics, stuttering beats, a propulsive bass line and shimmering guitar chords — and throughout the song there’s a urgent and plaintive yearning that’s forcefully visceral. “Slow Grind” was a swaggering yet dreamy and slow-burning bit of shoegaze featuring staccato bursts of stuttering beats, deep low end, swirling electronics, shimmering guitar chords and distorted vocals to create a sound that evokes the sensation of being submerged in a viscous substance — or being enveloped by sound. Building on the growing attention they’ve received, the band released their third single of 2017 and The Drake Equation Mixtape’s third single “One Day Out of Life” continues in a similar vein as its a atmospheric, slow-burning and soulful bit of shoegaze in which live instrumentation — namely effect pedaled guitar is paired with shimmering undulating synths and swirling electronics over which Daniel Chavis’ plaintive falsetto float over. And much like their previously released material since their reformation, their sound seamlessly meshes Quiet Storm-era R&B sentiment with moody shoegaze.

Produced and directed by Neoilluionsist artist Niilarty De Osu is an equally hallucinogenic day in the life of a woman, as she walks through a subway corridor — based on its length, it could be a few stops, 14th and 7th Avenue? 4th Avenue and 9th Street, Brooklyn? 42nd Street? It’s a haunting and trippy visual compliment to the song.