Tag: Michael Jackson

Like countless other musicians, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Knox White relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a music career — and to support himself, White began working as a bartender. In a serendipitous turn of fate, Lionel Ritchie was one of his regulars, and after some time, Ritchie became a kind of mentor to the aspiring musician, giving advice and sharing stories about being on the road. The one thing that struck a deep chord with White was when Ritchie told him “Don’t sell your soul to the devil to get success in the music business. Stay humble and treat everyone like they are your friend.” On another night, Paul McCartney stopped by, and McCartney told him stories about The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Towards the end of the night, McCartney told him that a musician with an incredible live show is a musician with super powers, and the legendary Beatle told him, “Get amazing first, and everything else will fall into place.”

Eventually, White relocated to New Orleans, arguably one of the country’s richest musical environments — and unsurprisingly, he immersed himself in the city’s music scene, playing everything from gospel to jazz; in fact, as the story goes, White was immediately hired to play guitar at the Household of Faith Church, playing alongside some incredibly accomplished musicians, who took him under his wing, introduced him to other musicians, which lead to ton of gigs.  He found himself playing at clubs across the city playing and mastering gospel, blues, calypso, jazz and contemporary fare until the early morning. And naturally, while exhausting, White felt reinvigorated, returned to Los Angeles, where he began collaborating with producer Josh Legg, best known as Goldroom, and began writing fusing the skills and knowledge he gained while in the Crescent City and his influences — Prince, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix and Tame Impala.

White’s self-titled, debut EP is slated for release in July, and the EP’s first single “You’ve Been My Girl” is a sleek and slickly produced track that owes a tremendous debt to 80s synth funk  (i.e., Oran “Juice” Jones‘ “The Rain,” Cherelle’s “Saturday Love” and others) and Prince, thanks to some impressive guitar pyrotechnics throughout; but interestingly the song finds the narrator calling out a love interest for being indecisive and playing with his emotions. Certainly, we’ve all been there before.

 

New Video: Miami Horrors’ Joshua Moriarty Releases Surreal and Dream-like Visuals for “R.T.F.L.”

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the years, you’ve come across a few posts featuring the Melbourne, Australia-based, internationally renowned, indie electro pop act Miami Horror, and as you may recall, the act, which initially formed as a quartet comprised of founding member Benjamin Plant (production), along with Joshua Moriarty (vocals, guitar), Aaron Shanahan (guitar, vocals and production) and Daniel Whitchurch (bass, keys, guitar) released two critically praised albums — their 2010 full-length debut Illumination, which was praised for a sound that drew from Cut Copy, New Order, Prince, Michael Jackson, E.L.O., and their 2013 sophomore effort All Possible Futures, a breezy and summery club banger, inspired by the time the quartet spent in Southern California.

After touring to support All Possible Futures, the band went on an informal hiatus with the band’s Benjamin Plant becoming an in-demand songwriting, co-writing tracks for Client Liaison and Roland Tings, among others. And somehow, the exceptionally busy Plant managed to also find time to write new Miami Horror material — material that would eventually comprise their conceptional EP, The Shapes, an effort that found the newly constituted trio’s sound drawing from Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads, Caribbean funk and African percussion while retaining elements of the sound that won them international attention, as you’d hear on the hook-heavy single “Lelia.”

Interestingly, although he’s best known as the vocal behind Miami Horror, Joshua Moriarty has stepped out from behind the band with the release of his solo debut album, War Is Over and while the album’s second single “All I Want Is You” leans much more towards the his work with Miami Horror with nods to Giorgio Moroder-era disco and Tame Impala-like psych pop, the album’s first single “R.T.F.L.” is a decided change in sonic direction with the song leaning towards contemporary electro pop and electro soul — and while there is a plaintive and carnal sensuality within the song that feels expected, the song also manages to possess a thoughtful earnest, based on actual, lived-in, personal experience.

Directed by Thomas Russell and filmed by David McKinner, and starring Joshua Moriarty and Morgan Rayner, the recently released video is  a surreal and feverish dream that undulates with a carnal vulnerability and need. 

New Video: The Surreal and Chaotic Visuals for FACIAL’S “Black Noise”

FACIAL is a Los Angeles, CA-based post-punk band, who have described their sound on their Facebook Fan Page as “the noise that cuts like a chainsaw through the thick buildup of residue in your mind, left behind by years of dealing with the dull banality of life. They take the dead parts of your brain killed by mundane reputation and blast it away with a pressure hose, while the low end rattles all the barnacles off your body and pounds you the way you are always afraid to ask for. Sweet melodies interchange with primal screaming as you fluctuate between comfort and discomfort, horror and jubilation, familiarity and utter confusion.” 

With their sophomore album Facade slated for release on Friday through Chain Letter Collective, the Los Angeles-based post-punk trio reportedly finds the band blowing away the facades and exposing the ugly truths underneath whether it’s their hometown, their country or within themselves. As a result, the material burrows down into the uncomfortable realities that we’ve long tried to push aside such as primal urges, anger, hate, selfishness, envy, jealousy rather than the superficial and alternate reality we show to the world that we are happy, cooperative, peaceful, benevolent members of a kind, cooperative society. And interestingly enough, album single “Black Noise” is a darkly moody, tense and angular track that nods at Echo and the Bunnymen’s Heaven Up Here and others but with a menacing and muscular tone, as though capturing the murky depths of the id.

Directed by Jack Mikesell and co-produced by Jared Robbins and Matt Macnelly, the recently released visuals for “Black Noise” employ a chaotic, dream-like logic with the video beginning with the members of the trio walking through a model town like gods, before quickly cutting to an interpretive dance sequence reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” — that is until a group of young women come by to kick the band’s ass and smash everything in their sights, which in some way seems to evoke our own destructive urges going absolutely wild. Towards the end of the video, the young women join in on the interpretive dance. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its seven-year history, you’ve likely come across a few posts featuring the internationally renowned Melbourne, Australia-based indie electro pop act Miami Horror. Initially formed as a quartet, comprised of founding member Benjamin Plant (production), along with Joshua Moriarty (vocals, guitar), Aaron Shanahan (guitar, vocals and production) and Daniel Whitchurch (bass, keys, guitar), the Aussie pop act exploded into the international scene with the release of 2010’s Illumination, an effort that was praised for a sound that drew from fellow countrymen Cut Copy, as well as New OrderPrinceMichael JacksonE.L.O. and others. The members of the quartet then spent the next three years shuttling back and forth between their hometown, Los Angeles and Paris writing and recording the material that would comprise 2013’s critically praised sophomore effort All Possible Futures, a breezy and summery, dance floor-friendly effort that was deeply inspired by the time the band spent writing and recording in Southern California — and while continuing to draw from 80s synth pop, the material hinted at 60s surf pop.

After touring to support All Possible Futures, the band had been on an informal hiatus as the band’s Benjamin Plant spent time as a go-to songwriter, co-writing tracks for fellow Aussie pop acts Client Liaison and Roland Tings. Somehow, the exceptionally busy Plant found time to write new material — material that would eventually comprise their conceptual EP The Shapes, which was released earlier this year.  Before the recording sessions for The Shapes, the band went through a lineup change as they went from a quartet to a trio; but perhaps more important, The Shapes found the newly constituted trio expanding upon their sound with the EP’s material drawing from  Talking Heads, Caribbean funk and African percussion while retaining elements of the sound that won them international attention; in fact, the EP’s dance floor friendly first single “Lelia” nodded at Tom Tom Club, Remain in Light-era Talking Heads, but with a soaring and rousing hook, shimmering synths and a ridiculously funky bass line, which Moriarty’s plaintive vocals float over.

Although he’s best known as the voice behind Miami Horror, the act’s Joshua Moriarty has stepped out from behind the band with the release of his solo debut album War Is Over. And interestingly enough, War Is Over‘s first single “R.T.F.L.” was a decided departure from his primary gig’s sound as the single leaned heavily towards contemporary electro pop and electro soul. The album’s second and latest single “All I Want Is You” manages to lean much more towards his work with Miami Horror, with the slickly produced song drawing from Giorgio Moroder-era disco and Tame Impala-like psych pop, complete with rousingly anthemic hooks and a sinuous dance floor — but the main difference to me is that Moriarty’s solo work possesses a plaintive and carnal sensuality.

 

New Video: Britney Spears, Boy George, and Nicki Minaj in Auditioning for a Gig in New Visuals for Hook Laden, New Track by Up-and-Coming Leeds-based Electro Pop Duo Krrum

Earlier this year, I wrote about the up-an-coming Leeds, UK-based, indie electro pop production and artist duo KRRUM. Comprised of Derbyshire, UK-born Leeds, UK-based producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alex, who grew up on punk rock and ska and Leeds-born and-based singer/songwriter Harrison, who’s largely influenced by Bon Iver, Radiohead and Thom Yorke. And as you may recall, the duo can trace they their origins to when they met while studying at Leeds School of Music. Within a relatively short period of time, the duo has seen both commercial and critical success — the duo has  had singles land at number 1 on Spotify’s Viral Chart, Hype Machine and Shazam, received regular airplay on BBC Radio 1 and Beats 1, collaborated with with salute and Lao Ra, and have performed at last year’s Pitchfork Paris Festival.

“Moon,” the Leeds-based duo’s first single of the year, found the duo pairing a club banging production featuring enormous, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, stuttering and glitchy electronics, a soaring hook, chopped up and distorted vocal samples with Harrison’s plaintive and soulful vocals giving the song a thoughtful, fatalistic sort of introspection; that shouldn’t be surprising as the song “deals with the ritual of wanting to pursue a relationship withs someone, but not wanting to jump the gun and ruin it. It’s an uncomfortable place to be because you have no control and you’re probably gonna mess it all up, like you always do.” 

Interestingly enough, the duo’s first single “Evil Twin” was their first single and although it caught on virally, the duo reworked and fleshed out the song in a way that makes them feel as though the song is finally completed; in fact, the song features a production consisting of a cinematic, looped horn arrangement, a chopped up, soulful, house music-like vocal sample, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and Harrison’s vocal taking on a gravelly ache. And while the song is rooted upon a  swaggering hook, it possesses an underlying aching uncertainty — the sort of uncertainty of someone who’s swaying between a good life, and a life of sin and vice. Sonically, the track manages to further cement their reputation for crafting hook-laden pop but while gently pushing their sound in an avant-garde leaning direction while remaining playfully accessible. 
As the band’s Alex explains of the song, the song toys “with the duality of wanting to be healthy, productive and find some long-term stability, but wanting to throw all of that away and indulge your vices. Individually, they are comforting but they are always competing with each other to come out.”

Directed by Camille Summers-Valli, the video as the duo’s Alex notes is a strange realization of the competition between one’s good, healthy side and one’s vice-loving, trouble-seeking side, as it stars Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, Boy George and Michael Jackson lookalikes auditioning for a gig for Krrum’s lead producer and co-vocalist Alex, who appears both unimpressed and confused. Interestingly, the visuals give these world famous superstars a desperate and ridiculous humanity, as they’re auditioning for a role they don’t fit for. 
 

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past 12-15 months or so, you’ve likely come across a couple of posts on the Brampton, ON-born, Toronto, ON-based DJ, violinist, singer/songwriter and indie pop artist Maya Killtron. And as you may recall, Killtron first came to attention both nationally and Stateside with the 2012 release of her debut EP Hipster/Gangsta, and as a result of the attention she received, Killtron wound up making the rounds across the North American festival circuit with stops Miami’s Winter Music ConferencePride TorontoThe Halifax Jazz Festival and CMJ. And adding to a growing profile, her collaboration with NYC-based production duo Love Taps “Back For More” received attention from the likes of Stereogum and Huffington Post for a sound that meshed moomba and R&B – and for visuals that showcased a sadly bygone NYC. Additionally, Smalltown DJs, The Slow WavesEyes Everywhere, Brothers In Arms and City Kid Soul have all have remixed “Back For More” — with the City Kid Soul remix being named in the Top 5 at Toronto’s Bestival.

Bad Decisions,” which I wrote about while in Amsterdam, The Netherlands earlier this year, was a written as a review of some of Killton’s best and worst decisions when it came to affairs of the heart paired with a sound that nodded at 80s synth funk and early 80s disco in a fashion reminiscent of JOVM mainstay act Escort; in fact, that shouldn’t be surprising as Killtron explained in an email to me,  “With ‘Bad Decisions,’ as well as my first single ‘Never Dance Alone,’ I wanted to pay tribute to; but not copy my heroes — Teena Marie, Prince, and The Gap Band.”

“Whiplash,” the third and latest single off Killtron’s Never Dance Alone EP is influenced by a childhood memory of a young Killtron listening to Michael Jackson‘s “PYT‘ for the very first time. “It was my driveway one July and my dad let me take our little radio outside while I washed the car, ” the Brampton-born, Toronto, ON-based pop artist explains. “‘PYT’ jumped out of the speakers and pretty much changed my ears forever. I never listened to the music the same way again.” Sonically, Killtron describes the song as having touches of elastic funk, roller rink dance, New Jack Swing and candy-coated pop paired with modern electronic production — and while that may be true, the song reminds me of Morris Day and The Time‘s “Jungle Love,” The Gap Band’s “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” Cherelle‘s “Saturday Love,” Chaka Khan‘s “I Feel For You” and others as it features a sinuous bass line and a stomping groove; however, Killton’s latest single is at a much faster BPM than the sources that inspired it. Of course, much like the preceding singles, “Whiplash” is a love song — this time focusing on the sort of swooning love that comes about suddenly and feels so right, even if it’s just for the moment.

 

 

 

New Video: The Fittingly 80s-Inspired Visuals for Count Vaseline’s “Russia”

Stefan Murphy is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and the creative mastermind behind the mostly Berlin, Germany-based New Wave and post-punk-inspired recording project Count Vaseline. Interestingly, Murphy started the project during a creative spell — and after a handful of live shows, Murphy went to the U.S. to write and record his Count Vaseline debut Yo No Soy Marinero, a deeply personal effort that focuses on what may have been one of the more difficult times of his own life — and as a result, the album is kind of a debaucherous romp that celebrates both his trials and tribulations and creativity while in Berlin.

Of course, Murphy’s decision to decision to stay in the US was followed by an earth-shattering Presidential election that still has countless people reeling, and his recently released sophomore effort Cascade thematically focuses on the depressingly cyclical patterns of both world history and world politics and the overall sense of pervasive doom; however, the album’s latest single “Russia” is an account of two lovers desperately trying to break free from the constraints and horrors of the modern world. And while deliberately performed at 117 beats per minute — the same beats per minute as Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” — the song manages to sound like what would happen if Duran Duran had covered Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Bring on the Dancing Horses” but with a young Ian McCulloch taking up vocal duties.

Directed by Kevin Brannigan and David Thomas Smith, the recently released video for “Russia” is decidedly an 80s-inspired video — in particular seemingly drawing influence from the music videos for Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Lips Like Sugar,” and “The Killing Moon,” and others, as it features a brooding, Slavic-looking woman vamping and strutting in front of a screen showing images of everyday Russian life while cutting to stock footage of warfare in Russia and elsewhere and of Russian gymnasts.

Stefan Murphy is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and the creative mastermind behind the mostly Berlin, Germany-based New Wave and post-punk-inspired recording project Count Vaseline. Interestingly, Murphy started the project during a creative spell — and after a handful of live shows, Murphy went to the U.S. to write and record his Count Vaseline debut Yo No Soy Marinero, a deeply personal effort that focuses on what may have been one of the more difficult times of his own life — and as a result, the album is kind of a debaucherous romp that celebrates both his trials and tribulations and creativity while in Berlin.

Of course, Murphy’s decision to decision to stay in the US was followed by an earth-shattering Presidential election that still has countless people reeling, and his recently released sophomore effort Cascade thematically focuses on the depressingly cyclical patterns of both world history and world politics and the overall sense of pervasive doom; however, the album’s latest single “Russia” is an account of two lovers desperately trying to break free from the constraints and horrors of the modern world. And while deliberately performed at 117 beats per minute — the same beats per minute as Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean” — the song manages to sound like what would happen if Duran Duran had covered Echo and the Bunnymen’s Bring on the Dancing Horses” but with a young Ian McCulloch taking up vocal duties.

 

 

 

 

 

Currently comprised of its Riga, Latvia-born, Brooklyn, NY-base founding duo Kerry Kaleja and Eric Jayk and recent recruits Rebecca Silber (bass) and Luca Bertalgia (drums), the Brooklyn-based glam rock act Astra the 22s can trace their origins back to 2011 when Kaleja and Jayk first met. As the story goes, Kaleja was looking for guitar lessons and stumbled onto Jayk’s Craigslist ad. Interestingly, at the time Jayk was a touring member of Wildstreet.

Three years later, Kaleja and Jayk started collaborating full-time, writing and recording music that drew from an eclectic set of influences including The Kills, Michael Jackson, Nine Inch Nails and Blondie among others. And with the release of their 2014 debut EP Blue Venom, the duo received attention across the Baltic region, playing at Vilnius Music Week, the Gaizin Kalns Festival and the KLANG! Rock Festival, and performed at the Gold Microphone Awards, one of Latvia’s biggest music award shows. Although both Kaleja and Jayk relocated to Williamsburg last year, where they recruited the band’s newest members their debut EP Blue Venom and their forthcoming sophomore EP Paris Love were primarily written while the band’s founding duo were living apart with one member in Riga and the other in Brooklyn; however, the band’s newest material may be the most self-assured and arena rock friendly work they’ve completed to date while the material thematically explores sex, narcissism love, art and war on a personal and global level.

The EP’s latest single, EP title track “Paris Love” is a sensual and swaggering song featuring an enormous, arena rock friendly sound — power chords upon power chords, propulsive and forceful drumming, sultry vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook. Structurally, the song manages to draw from radio friendly, 90s grunge and electro rock — think of Garbage, Nine Inch Nails and others –as quiet verses lead the way for the aforementioned anthemic hooks but with a sleek yet unfussy, contemporary sheen.