Tag: Minneapolis MN

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Atmosphere Release Surreal and Gritty Visuals for Bluesy Album Single “Jerome”

Now, throughout the bulk of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded and commercially successful Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act Atmosphere, and as you may recall the act initially formed over 20 years ago as a trio featuring Slug, Spawn D and Ant under the name Urban Atmosphere. And whether as a trio or a duo, the Minneapolis-based act have developed and maintained a long-held reputation for pushing the boundaries of what hip-hip should sound like and concern itself with thematically — especially as the members of the act find themselves inching to middle age, as well as for relentless touring. 

2016’s Fishing Blues continued a string of insightful, soulful and mature material reflecting men, who evolved from tortured hedonists into settled down family men, who have seen and experienced much more than they can put into words — and while settling down in a much-deserved and peaceful bliss of family and art seems ideal in almost every circumstance, the world has fundamentally changed in a frightening and uncertain fashion. Naturally, if you’re s sensitive and thoughtful person, you can’t help but recognize that while you may have a little paradise, that within a mad, mad, mad world, it won’t last; that “nothing lasts forever,” as a song says. Unsurprisingly, Atmosphere’s soon-to-be released seventh album Mi Vida Loca thematically finds the pair grappling with their own mortality and the anxiety and fear that comes with the painful acknowledgment that you’re powerless and that you can’t possibly protect yourself, let alone your loved ones from the dangers of our world. Thematically sobering, indeed; but the album much like the bulk of their creative output has long been centered around the duo’s deep and abiding friendship. “Virgo,” Mi Vida Loca’s eerie first single may arguably be the most intimate and urgent song they’ve ever written and recorded — and just because the song evokes (and focuses on) the anxieties and fears of our moment, it isn’t completely dark and hopeless. If anything, the song proudly and sincerely says that as a man, it’s okay to admit that you’re scared shitless and not know what the fuck to do about anything; that when you’re uncertain and afraid that there are friends and loved ones, and music, small joys and small victories, and sweet and tender moments that we need to cling to and cherish with every fiber of our beings.  Sonically, the song featured a bluesy production centered around strummed guitar, twinkling old-timey keys and eerily buzzing synths that nodded at Everlast’s Whitey Ford Sings the Blues but somehow starker. 

Album opening track “Jerome” is the album’s latest single and it continues in a similar vein — featuring a production consisting of a looped sample of boozy and woozy buzzing power chords, rumbling and thumping percussion, brief blasts of twinkling and shimmering synths. Throughout Slug rhymes about the weight of familial history, aging, death, the vapidity and insincerity of social media and a bevy of other things with an incredibly dexterous rhyme scheme but underneath the swaggering self-assuredness of Slug’s delivery is a vulnerability and aching, world weariness. 

Directed by Evidence, the recently released and incredibly cinematic  video for “Jerome” begins with Slug and a homey taking a short ride to house down the street to the home studio, where two tow-headed little ones play with a hill of Legos, while the duo write and record — but some point, Slug quickly realizes that he may be too old for this shit and leaves mid-stream. It’s surreal yet rooted in a gritty reality. 

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New Video: Renowned JOVM Mainstays Atmosphere Return with a Meditation on Life Family and Death in a Turbulent World

Throughout the bulk of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act Atmosphere, and as you’ll likely recall, the act formed as a trio featuring Slug, Spawn D and Ant over 20 years ago under the name Urban Atmosphere. Whether as a trio or a duo, the they’ve maintained a long-held reputation for relentless touring and for pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop should sound like and concern itself with thematically — especially as they inch closer to middle age. And they’ve managed to do so while being one of the more commercially successful indie acts. 

2016’s Fishing Blues continued a string of insightful, soulful and mature hip-hop reflecting men, who evolved from tortured hedonists into settled down men, who have seen and experienced more than they can put into words, raising families —  and while settling down in a much deserved peaceful bliss of art and family seems ideal in almost every circumstance, things seemed to have fundamentally changed in a frightening fashion.  Naturally, if you’re a thoughtful person, you begin to recognize that while your little space in the world is perfect, that within a mad world, it won’t last; that nothing lasts forever, as a song says. And unsurprisingly, Atmosphere’s forthcoming seventh album Mi Vida Loca thematically finds the pair grappling with their own mortality and the anxiety that comes with the painful recognition that you’re powerless and can’t protect yourself, let alone your loved ones from the dangers of this world. For such sobering thematic concerns, the album much like the bulk of their work is centered around the duo’s connection and friendship but as you’ll hear on the album’s eerie first single “Virgo,” the album may arguably be the most intimate and urgent they’ve ever written an recorded — but just because the song evokes the anxieties and fears of our moment, it doesn’t mean it’s completely hopeless. Hell, if anything, it says proudly and sincerely, that as a man, it’s okay to be scared shitless and to not know what the fuck to do; that when you’re uncertain and afraid that there are friends and loved ones, and music and small joys and tenderness that we need to cling to and cherish with ever fiber of our beings. 

Sonically speaking, the song features a bluesy production featuring strummed guitar, twinkling old-timey piano keys and eerily buzzing synths and in some way it nods at Everlast’s Whitey Ford Sings the Blues but somehow starker. Shot and edited by Jason Goldwatch, the recently released video appears to have been shot on a grainy, old Super 8 film and in some way evokes the sensation of being awakened from the American dream we’ve all been sold and coming to terms with the fact that it was a bad bill of goods that you can’t possibly return. 

New Video: Bad Bad Hats Release a Shimmering and Swooning Ode to the Pangs of First Love

Comprised of founding members, Birmingham, AL-born, Minneapolis, MN-based frontwoman and primary songwriter Kerry Alexander (vocals, guitar) and Minneapolis, MN-born and -based Chris Hoge (drums) with Noah Boswell (bass), the Minneapolis, MN-based indie rock trio Bad Bad Hats can trace their origins to when Alexander, Hoge and Boswell all met while attending Macalester College in nearby Saint Paul. Alexander and Hoge began writing songs together in 2010, recording a collection of demos that would eventually comprise their debut EP. Their friend Boswell was later recruited to solidify their lineup, and the band quickly caught the attention of local indie label Afternoon Records, a label that has released albums by Yellow Ostrich, Now Now, Haley Bonar, One for the Team and others, as well as the band’s debut EP and their incredibly self-assured Brett Buillion-produced full-length debut Psychic Reader. 

The band’s highly-anticipated and soon-to-be released sophomore album Lighting Round not only finds the band continuing their collaboration with producer Brett Bullion, who encouraged the band to record live to tape, which not only gives the material a you-were-there-in-the-room urgency and spontaneity, but emphasizes that living, breathing, vulnerable humans created, played and recorded the material; in fact, the spontaneous approach allows little room for the prototypical overthinking and perfectionism of modern recording,  and as result, there are some minor mistakes — some wrong notes being played, maybe someone being slightly off key and so on. Of course, that’s meant to add to material’s honesty and vulnerability, as thematically its centered on dependence and independence within relationships. “Nothing Gets Me High,” the album’s latest single finds the Minneapolis trio meshing shimmering hook-driven New Wave-like pop with jangling guitar pop — and while giving their sound a clean polish, the point remains the song’s swooning, emotional heft, as the song focuses on two ironically related sensations — the all-encompassing pangs of first (or new) love, and the desire to bring about that feeling for someone else. And much like new love, it’s initially a little uncertain and a little unsure before it becomes a palpable ache.

Directed by Dan Stewart, the recently released super stylistic video features the members of the band playing the song in a studio — but from the perspective of someone watching a music video someplace else with TVs with fucked up color controls, further emphasizing the song’s initial sense of uncertain yet desperate longing.

New Video: Evidence and Strong Arm Steady’s Krondon Team Up to Wander Around a Desolate Los Angeles in Visuals for Nottz-Produced “Bad Publicity”

I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer Evidence, and as you may recall, he’s best known as a member of the renowned hip-hop act Dilated Peoples with whom he has released four full-length albums — and as a producer, the emcee and producer born Michael Taylor Perretta has worked with Beastie Boys, Linkin Park, Swollen Members, Defari, Planet Asia and has a co-production credit on Kanye West’s Grammy-winning, full-length debut The College Dropout.

Perretta’s 2007 full-length full-length debut The Weatherman was released by ABB Records, the long-time label home of Dilated Peoples and featured tracks produced by Perretta,  The Alchemist, Sid Roams (the production team of Joey Chavez and Tavish “Bravo” Graham), Jake One, DJ Babu, and DJ Khalil, as well as collaborations with the Dilated Peoples crew. By 2009 Evidence signed with Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hip label Rhymesayers Entertainment, who released his 2011 sophomore effort Cats & Dogs, an album that wound up being among his most commercially successful as it landed at #64 on the Billboard 200. Perretta’s fourth album Weather or Not was released earlier this year, and the album is the first catch of new material from the Los Angeles-based emcee and producer since the 2014’s The Alchemist-produced Lord Steppington.

Weather or Not’s third single, the  DJ Premier-produced “10,000 Hours” was centered around a  swaggering and strutting West Coast hip-hop meets menacing, old school, boom bap, old school East Coast hip-hop production paired with one of contemporary hip-hop’s criminally unheralded emcees, rhyming about the time he has spent practicing, developing and honing his skills to become one of the very best — or in other words talent ain’t shit, if you don’t work very hard at it. The album’s fourth single “Powder Cocaine” continued Evidence’s ongoing collaboration with The Alchemist, who contributed an atmospheric yet soulful production consisting of boom bap beats, warm blasts of bluesy guitar, a chopped up choral vocal sample and a soaring hook and the production managed to be roomy enough to allow Evidence and Slug to trade bars full of diverse metaphors and descriptive symbolism.

The album’s fifth and latest single, the Nottz-produced “Bad Publicity” much in the vein of its predecessors as it’s golden era hip-hop inspired, tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap hip-hop, complete with some dexterous scratching — and the production manages to be roomy enough for Evidence and Strong Arm Steady’s gravelly-voiced Krondon to spit fiery, braggadocio-filled bars. Directed by Todd Angkauswan, the recently released video for “Bad Publicity” is shot in an deserted, almost post apocalyptic Los Angeles, featuring the city’s most prominent locations.

New Video: Evidence Teams Up with Atmosphere’s Slug and Catero on a Soulful and Earnest Single Paired with Gorgeous and Surreal Visuals

Born Michael Taylor Perretta, Evidence is a Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer, best known as a member of the renowned hip-hop act Dilated Peoples with whom he has released four full-length albums. As a producer, Perretta has collaborated with the likes of Beastie Boys, Linkin Park, Swollen Members, Defari, Planet Asia and a co-production credit on Kanye West’s Grammy-winning, full-length debut The College Dropout.

The Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer’s 2007 full-length debut, The Weatherman, which was released by ABB Records, the long-time label home of Dilated Peoples featured tracks produced by Perretta, The Alchemist, Sid Roams (the production team of Joey Chavez and Tavish “Bravo” Graham), Jake One, DJ Babu, and DJ Khalil, as well as collaborations with the Dilated Peoples crew. By 2009 Evidence signed with Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hip label Rhymesayers Entertainment, who released his 2011 sophomore effort Cats & Dogs, an album that wound up being among his most commercially successful as it landed at #64 on the Billboard 200.

Evidence’s four full-length album Weather or Not was released earlier this year through Rhymesayers, and the the album is the  first batch of new material since 2014’s The Alchemist-produced Lord Steppington, and as you may remember, the album’s third single “10,000 Hours” found the Los Angeles, CA-based producer and emcee further cementing his reputation as an incredibly dexterous and criminally unheralded emcee, who has ridiculous rhyme schemes — all while discussing ho much time he spent practicing, refining and developing his skills over a swaggering DJ Premier production featuring squiggly synths, boom bap beats, a forceful bass line, samples from Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and GURU that managed to be anamalgamation of strutting West Coast hip-hop and stomping, menacing, old school East Coast hip-hop.

Weather or Not’s latest single “Powder Cocaine” is a collaboration between Evidence and Atmosphere’s Slug that features an atmospheric The Alchemist production that consists of tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, a subtly chopped up choral vocal sample and warm blasts of bluesy guitar paired with a soaring hook sung by Catero that’s the emotional and metaphorical underpinning of the song. In fact, as the story goes, after enlisting Catero to write the song’s hook. the vocalist came back with a verse that ended with “but everything’s fine if I try to remain like powder cocaine . . .”  Understandably, the line stuck with both Rhymesayer labelmates, and it opened the doors for the duo to write rhymes full of diverse metaphors and descriptive symbolism. Yet, despite the song’s title, Evidence has never used the drug. “I’m like the only person in Los Angeles, who didn’t do cocaine, and Alchemist, too,” Evidence says in press notes. “We made a pact, you know, when friends are young and we actually stuck to it. The song is not a pro-cocaine song, but rather just using the saying as an expression of being all good.” 

Directed by Jason Goldwatch, the recently released video for “Powder Cocaine,” is actually influenced by Evidence, a passionate shutterbug — and as a result, the video is full of gorgeous and surreal visuals that employ a photographer’s sense of composition and framing to emphasize very specific things. 

Live Footage: Alice Merton Performs Viral Hit “No Roots” on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”

Alice Merton is a Canadian-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, who has lived a rather nomadic life, as she was raised in Canada, finished high school in Germany and then with the rest of her family, relocated to England. Of course, music was a major part of her life, no matter where on Earth she was; she started taking classical piano lessons when she was five and by the time she was nine, she was introduced to vocal training. As the story goes, after spending the better part of a decade being classically trained, Merton discovered contemporary songwriting during one of her high school courses in Germany. And from that point forward, she went on to study songwriting and began pursuing her dream of becoming a professional singer/songwriter.

Naturally, while in school Merton would up working with a number or producers on projects and as you can imagine, finding the right producer, who can both compliment and challenge a singer/songwriter as a true collaborator is a rarity. And when she met Berlin-based producer Nicolas Rebscher, Merton quickly recognized that she finally found her musical match; in fact, the duo have managed to specialize in an anachronistic  sound that features Merton’s soulful pop belter vocals over a slick production consisting of analog synths, classic soul music-inspired instrumentation paired with hook driven, contemporary songwriting. 

Merton’s swaggering and bluesy debut single “No Roots,” features Merton’s self-assured and soulful pop belter vocals paired with a Rebscher production that features enormous, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a sinuous bass line, brief blasts of funk guitar, squiggly blasts of synths and a rousingly anthemic hook that nods at Amy Winehouse, Lorde, Taylor Swift and others but while managing to feature a narrator that simultaneously expresses a wizened and resilient spirit; but just underneath there’s a visceral ache over a life frequently thrown in disarray with sudden moves before the narrator could get adjusted to a new place, and the realization that she’s never quite belonged. 

Already “No Roots” has won the up-and-coming Merton an immense amount of attention across the European Union, Stateside and elsewhere, as the song has already seen millions of streams on Spotify and YouTube, and has recently been added to the playlists of several Stateside Adult Alternative Album radio stations, including stations in Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, San Francisco, Minneapolis, the NYC area, as well as Sirius Alt Nation. Adding to a growing profile, thanks in part to the success of her debut single, Merton recently signed to renowned indie label Mom + Pop Music. Recently Merton, along with her backing band recently made their national television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where she performed her viral hit. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Strange Names Release Surreal and Mischievous Visuals for “UFO”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the Minneapolis, MN-born, New York-based trio Strange Names, and as you may recall the trio’s highly-anticipated effort Data is slated for release through Frenchkiss Records later this month. Now, while Data’s first single  “Into Me,” managed to further cement the New York-based trio’s reputation for crafting breezy, 80s inspired synth pop, “UFO,” the album’s second and latest single leans towards a funky, dance floor friendly direction with the song nodding at the likes of Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait,” Cherelle’s “Saturday Love” and “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On,” but with a post modern angst. 

Directed and shot by the band’s friend Pedro Lopez and then edited by the members of the band, the recently released video for “UFO” as the band’s frontman Liam Benzvi explains in press notes was heavily inspired by the Bauhaus school while generally encapsulating the overall stylistic message of the record. “The video should make you seize a little, giggle, stew in confusion and hopefully move around. I envision it in the background of Elizabeth Hurley’s hell nightclub in the early 00s Bedazzled remake.” Interestingly enough, while the video manages to be wild, unsettling and confusing  there are several sequences that remind me of videos I’ve seen sometime in the 80s — but with a mischievous, we’re going to fuck with your head for a few minutes vibe.