Tag: Minneapolis MN

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. 

New Video: Evidence Takes You on a Gritty Tour of Los Angeles in Visuals for “10,000 Hours”

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. However, 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 soon-to-be released fourth, full-length album Weather or Not is slated for a January 26, 2018 release through Rhymesayers is the first batch of new material since 2014’s The Alchemist-produced Lord Steppington, and with the release of the album’s third single “10,000 Hours” Evidence further cements his reputation as an incredibly dexterous and criminally unheralded emcee with the rhyme scheme in this particular track being ridiculous — all while discussing about how he spent time developing his own unique flow. With Evidence spitting over a swaggering DJ Premier production featuring squiggly synths, boom bap beats, a forceful bass line, samples from Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and GURU, the track manages to be a amalgamation of strutting West Coast hip-hop and stomping, menacing, old school East Coast hip-hop. But just as important, as I’ve relentlessly reminded readers of this site, real hip-hop, and not that prepackaged bullshit on your multinational conglomerate propaganda and advertising radio, is still out there if you’re willing to look for it.

Filmed and directed by Stephen Vanasco, the recently released video for “10,000 Hours” is a lush and cinematically shot black and white video in a number of gritty and underground Los Angeles sights before meeting with the legendary DJ Preemo.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you may recall that last November, I wrote about the  Minneapolis, MN-born, New York-based trio Strange Names, whose highly-anticipated, sophomore, full-length effort Data is slated for a February 23, 2018 release through renowned, local indie label Frenchkiss Records. “Into Me,” the album’s first single managed to further cement their reputation for crafting breezy, 80s inspired synth pop — but underneath the song’s breezy nature is bratty yet flirtatious kiss off of sorts to someone, who the song’s narrator realizes is into him but for some perverse reason is busily pretending not to be. “UFO,” Data‘s second and latest single finds the duo still in the realms of 80s synth pop — but leaning more towards a funky, dance floor friendly angle, as though the duo were drawing from Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait,” Cherelle’s “Saturday Love” and “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On,” thanks in part to a incredibly sinuous bass line, some Nile Rodgers-like guitar, thumping beats, layers of arpeggiated synths and one of the sharpest pop hooks I’ve heard this year.

 

 

 

Darren Jackson, is a Bison, SD-born, Minneapolis, MN-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose solo recording project Kid Dakota partially derives its name as a loving homage to Jackson’s home state and a play on Kid Rock. In 1999, Jackson along with long-time friend and producer Alex Oana, wrote and recorded the five songs that would eventually comprise his 2000 self-released EP So Pretty before permanently relocating to Minneapolis.

Interestingly, Jackson’s debut EP caught the attention of Low‘s Alan Sparhawk, who offered to release the EP on his label Chairkickers’ Union under the condition that Jackson expand it to a full-length album — with the full-length version of So Pretty being released in 2002. Sparhawk’s label released Jackson’s sophomore effort, 2004’s The West is the Future, which continued the Bison, SD-born, Minneapolis, MN-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumetanlist’s collaboration with Oana while featuring Low’s Zak Sally. However, his last two albums — 2008’s A Winner’s Shadow and 2011’s Listen to the Crows as They Take Flight was released by Graveface Records.

Jackson’s fifth, full-length album Denervation can trace its origins to a brief summer vacation at his parents’ house in the Black Hills in 2014 that turned into an extended nine-month stay convalescing in a hospital bed, after fracturing his pelvis in a horrific bicycle accident. The blunt force trauma from the accident also caused severe nerve damage, which made it extremely questionable whether or not Jackson would ever be able to walk again without a brace. And naturally, he found himself in a rather dark place. To cope with crippling depression, Jackson began writing the material that would eventually comprise Denervation, which will be released by Graveface Records on February 9, 2018.

After making some rough demos, Jackson sent them to his longtime friend and producer John Kuker, with whom he has collaborated with on several Kid Dakota recordings. And as the story goes, Kuker recognized the material’s raw potential and suggested that the Bison, SD-born, Minneapolis-based artist record the album at famed Cannon Falls, MN-based studio Pachyderm, which Kuker had recently purchased and renovated. Along with that Kuker suggested that Jackson enlist Birthday Suits‘ Matthew Kazama to play drums on the album. Jackson agreed and flew out to Minneapolis in late 2014 to meet with Kazama — and the duo spent several weeks woodshedding the material before heading to the studio in early 2015. After three days of tracking, the duo planned to record the album at Kuker’s studio that spring. Tragically, however, Kuker died from a heart attack in early February 2015, and the album’s came to a standstill. And understandably the album’s material was linked both with Jackson attempting to come to terms with the trauma and aftermath of his bicycle accident and the death of one of his dear friends.

Interestingly, it was only after Jackson got married and returned to Minneapolis from a stint teaching music in rural South Dakota and his Ph.D. studies in philosophy and film at Virginia Tech that he began to find the fortitude to finally finish the album he had started with his dear friend two years prior. And when he went to the studio, he enlisted the help of an All-Star cast of friends and collaborators for the Denervation sessions including Martin Dosh, Andrew Broder, Alan Spearhawk, Johnny and Molly Solomon, Jeremy Ylvisaker, Jeremy Messersmith, Todd Trainer and Dave Simonett. And as you’ll hear on the album’s first single “The Convalescent” the material possesses a feeling of loss, as the material focuses on loss from similar although different perspectives. Whereas some of the album’s songs focus on the potential loss of the use of a limb and its subsequent sense of helplessness, this particular song focuses on the loss of someone close — and as a result, their lingering and inescapable presence. Sonically speaking, the song pairs precise, math rock-like, angular guitar chords and drumming with arpeggiated synths, and arena rock-like hooks, evoking an uneasy, tense vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the release of their 2015 debut effort, Use Your Time Wisely, the Minneapolis, MN-born, New York-based trio Strange Names — comprised of Liam Benzvi, Francis Ximenez, and Fletcher Aleckson — quickly received attention across the blogosphere for a crafting airy and danceable New Wave-inspired pop. And as a result of the buzz around them, the members of the New York pop trio opened for Azealia Banks before eventually signing with renowned, local indie label Frenchkiss Records.

The trio’s highly-anticipated, third, full-length effort is slated for release in early 2018, and the album’s first single “Into Me” will further cement their reputation for crafting breezy, 80s inspired synth pop — and while some have made comparisons to The B52s and Phoenix, the latest single to my ears seems to draw from XTC and Violens’ fantastic Amoral as the song features a soaring hook rooted around shimmering arpeggiated synths. But underneath the song’s breezy nature is a swooning and flirtatious kiss off of sorts to someone, who is into the song’s narrator but for some perverse reason is pretending not to be.

 

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 under classical training, Merton discovered songwriting through one of her high school courses while 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, during her studies Merton worked with a number of producers and finding the right producer who both compliments and challenges a singer/songwriter in the way that a true collaborator — and in turn, a great producer — should do, is a rarity, and when she met Berlin-based producer Nicolas Rebscher, Merton quickly recognized that she found her musical match; in fact, the collaborative duo have specialized in pairing vintage, analog synthesizers with organic arrangements based around propulsive drum and bass. Unsurprisingly then, on Merton’s swaggering and (somewhat) bluesy debut single “No Roots,” Merton’s self-assured and soulful pop belter vocals are 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. And in some way, the song is a slick meshing of both the familiar and the unfamiliar, as the song sonically nods (a little bit) at Amy Winehouse, Lorde, Taylor Swift and a lengthy list of major pop star contemporaries; however, the song has a visceral ache, as it based on her own personal experiences, recognizing that her life was frequently thrown in disarray, she’s never been able to claim one place as a home.

Already “No Roots” has won the up-and-coming Merton an immense amount of attention both across the European Union and the States 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. And as a result of the action the single has seen, merton recently signed with Mom + Pop Music; but along with that, I suspect that over the next few months that we’ll be hearing this single quite a bit, and more from Merton, who seems destined to be a pop star.

 

 

Merton has a series of live dates across Germany throughout the end of August and the fall, and is planning stops across North America and elsewhere so be on the lookout; in the meantime, European friends, check out the live dates below.
TOUR DATES:

 

08/25 Gamescon – Cologne, Germany

08/26 Laternenfest – Halle, Germany

09/9 Rennbahn Berlin Hoppegarten – Berlin, Germany

09/10 Lollapalooza Berlin – Berlin, Germany

09/14 SWR3 New Pop Festival – Baden Baden, Germany

09/15 NDR 2 Soundcheck Festival – Göttingen, Germany

9/20-23 Reeperbahn Festival – Hamburg, Germany

11/17 New Fall Festival – Düsseldorf, Germany