Minneapolis-based dream pop/shoegaze outfit Lumari — twin siblings Dave West (drums) and Dan West (guitar, bass), Margo Pearson (vocals, keys) and Robert Caple (guitar, bass) — can trace their origins back to the relationship between the West Brothers: Dave West and Dan West have played together in a number of different national and internationally touring projects over the course of several decades.
As the story goes, the West Brothers had the fortune of finding Pearson and Caple, who gamely completed Lumari’s lineup. Along with award-winning producer/engineer Eric Olsen, the Minneapolis-based sheogazers wrote and recorded an album’s worth of material that sets the groundwork for the band’s sound and approach.
The quartet’s debut single, and presumably, their album’s first single, “Neon Mirror” is centered around reverb-drenched, swirling guitar textures, thunderous and propulsive drumming, a supple bass line and enormous choruses paired with Pearson’s ethereal vocals. Sonically. the song strikes me a slick synthesis of Meat is Murder-era The Smiths,Cocteau Twins, Slowdive and RIDE — with a modern production sheen.
Co-directed by Sara Fox and the members of Lumari, the accompanying video was shot in the Catskills and follows Leslie Cuyjet wandering through the hilly forests, when she discovers an ornate, old fashioned mirror in the moss. We see the woman twirling through the forest pathways with her mirror before shifting to an ornate house. In one way, the video can be red as a modern day extrapolation of the old Greek myth of Narcissus — but while going through a lysergic and nightmarish funhouse mirror.
Sarah Pray is Madison, WI-based singer/songwriter and musician, who can trace much of the origins of her music career to growing up in a musical household: Pray’s father taught her piano and by the time she turned five, she was learning jazz chords and music theory.
As a teenager, Pray interned at recording studios in Madison and Minneapolis — and then she started writing her own original music. Pray started her career as as solo artist, releasing her first few releases under her name. She then made a name for herself as one-half of folk duo Kivi & Pray with her ex-husband Thomas Kivi, an act that toured across much of Europe and the States.
During both the pandemic and divorce, Pray wanted to experiment — and return to her roots. “I am a big fan of female artists like Bjork, Angel Olsen, Fiona Apple, and PJ Harvey, who constantly evolve. I feel more in touch with myself more than ever since the divorce.” Pray’s latest project Carrellee sees the Wisconsin-born singer/songwriter and musician working with Brett Bullion to fine tune her songs, giving them a sleek, modern air.
Pray’s Carrellee debut, Scale of Dreams is slated for a November 18, 2022 release through Negative Gain Productions. Thematically, the album is heavily informed by Pray’s divorce with the album evoking the heartache, longing, frustration, regret and bitterness of a major relationship’s end. Sonically, the material draws from Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush and a wide variety of Italo disco and synthwave with each instrument being processed through crumped and fried analog tape.
Scale of Dreams‘ first single “Morning Sun” is a dark and seductive synthesis of Giorgio Moroder-like Italo disco, industrial electronic and pop featuring thumping and skittering beats, glistening synth arpeggios paired with razor sharp hooks and Pray’s sultry delivery expressing aching longing — and the song’s narrator’s realization that their relationship has irrevocably changed.
“Morning Sun” came to Pray during a dream she had as she was getting divorced. The next morning, she quickly transcribed it from her home studio, and shared the demo video on Facebook, where it has amassed over 370,000 views.
The accompanying video features Pray wearing different wigs in superimposed or directly in neon light and explosive bursts of light in a variety of sexually-charged scenarios.
Ranelle Labiche is a classically trained, Minneapolis-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and frotntperson of Los Angeles-based indie outfit Elle PF. Labiche can trace the origins of her music career back to when she had turned five and started to play piano and violin. By the time she was in her late teens, she was playing in local punk bands. The Minneapolis-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist earned degrees in music and psychology. And as an adult, she splits her time between her full-time job as a board certified music therapist, who works in mental health treatment centers in the Los Angeles area. Between her full-time work and her creative work, Labiche has continued to find a way to fuse music and creative expression as a tool to help herself and others to process and analyze events and emotions.
With Elle PF, Labiche and her bandmates — Jessica LaSota (bass, backing vocals), John Acarregui (drums), Doc (guitar) — specialize in a lush, widescreen sound that features elements of indie rock, haunting harmonies and electronic production within symphonic-like movements , inspired by an eclectic array of artists including Bjork, St. Vincent, Amanda Palmer, and God Speed You! Black Emperor.
Elle PF”s full-length debut, 2018’s She Wrote It was recorded and produced by the band’s Labiche. The 12-song album touched upon themes of social frustration, loss, melancholy, existential apathy paired with incisive political commentary — all while firmly establishing their lush, widescreen sound.
During the pandemic, the members of the Los Angeles-based indie outfit went into the studio to write and record their sophomore album I Woke Up Today Laughing. The album’s first single is the the slow-burning and brooding “Ultimatum.” Centered around a lush production featuring glistening synths, shimmering guitars, Labiche’s sultry cooing, dramatic drumming and a soaring hook, “Ultimatum” sonically — to my ears, at least — brings the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees and contemporaries like Jennie Vee to mind.
Directed by musician and director, Jimmy Whispers, the recently released video for “Ultimatum” is inspired by Labche’s love for motorcycles: on her free time, the Minneapolis-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist rides with local motorcycle crews like Queers on Gears, Women SoCal Rides and The Litas. The video follows Labiche getting on her beloved bike and riding through the Los Angeles area — through suburban sprawl, the Sunset Strip at night and windy canyon roads. The video makes it apparent that its protagonist is struggling with a difficult and challenging past and present, and the desire to freely move forward on a new path.
MMYYKK (pronounced “Mike”) is a rising Inland Empire, CA-born, Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. 2019’s highly praised Electro Soul EP found the Inland Empire-born, Minneapolis-based multi-hyphenate artist further establishing a difficult to pigeonhole sound and approach that draws from soul, future funk, R&B, hip-hop, jazz and fusion — and seems equally indebted to Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Herbie Hancock, and Stevie Wonder.
MMYYKK is also an accomplished ambient artist: Last year’s Mellow Moods and Meditations was released to praise. Earlier this year, he produced PASSAGE, a Black mental health and wellness initiative done in collaboration with the folks at Okayplayer. Building upon a busy year, the Inland Empire-born, Minneapolis-based artist will be releasing the Science EP through London-based label Rhythm Section INTL in September.
Science EP‘s first single is the slinky “Divine.” Centered around MMYYKK’s sultry falsetto, glistening synth arpeggios and a strutting bass line, the flirtatious “Divine” sonically will draw comparisons to D’Angelo and Thundercat, as the crafted manages to be effortless yet carefully crafted. Interestingly, underneath the funky grooves, the song is a much-needed and loving ode to Black women. “Black women taught me how to love. Women literally save the world every day. This track was a way for me to express appreciation and sing praises to the women in my life,” MMYYKK explains in press notes.
Rising Minneapolis-based indie rock band Bad Bad Hats — currently founding members Kery Alexander (vocals, guitar) and Chris Hoge (bass) along with newest member Con Davidson (drums) — can trace its origins back to when Alexander and Hoge met while attending Saint Paul-based Macalester College: the band’s founding duo had admired each other’s music on MySpace and the pair began writing songs together in 2010, eventually recording a collection of demos that would eventually comprise their debut EP.
Alexander and Hoge recruited their friend Noah Boswell (bass) to solidify their initial lineup and flesh out their sound. After playing in and around the Minneapolis area, the trio caught the attention of Afternoon Records, who signed the band and released their debut EP and their Brett Buillion-produced full-length debut, 2015’s Psychic Reader and 2018’s sophomore album Lightning Round.
hanges. Noah Boswell left the band and was replaced by Con Davidson — and as a result, some duties have been reshuffled: Hoge, who initially played drums is now playing bass. The Minneapolis-based trio recently signed to Don Giovanni Records, who will be releasing their highly anticipated third album, Walkman on September 17, 2021.
lkman’s first single “Detroit Basketball” derives its name from the call-and-response chant Pistons fans routinely fill Little Caesar’s Arena with during game night. The phrase stuck in Alexander’s head, and she later drew on it for inspiration. “Detroit Basketball” finds the rising Midwestern trio further refining their sound: sonically, the track is a breezy mix of power pop, 120 Minutes MTV-era alt rock and 00s pop punk centered around Alexander’s deeply personal songwriting, a rousingly anthemic, sing-along worthy chorus and an infectious hook. But underneath the song’s breezy infectiousness, the song balances bittersweet and sour as it’s one- part tell off to a lover that jilted its narrator, one-part feminist anthem in which its narrator boldly tells the world what she deserves and one-part tale of heartbreak by a cold and indifferent former lover — with a sort of winking acknowledgment of the whole ordeal’s shittiness.
The recently released video for “Detroit Basketball” is a playful and absurd romp: The video begins with the band disappearing off the face of the earth, and a devoted fan attempting to find them. We see that each of the members have started new, very weird careers — presumably as a result of the pandemic: Hoge has become devoted to placing miniature chip bags in bottles. Davidson has become a competitive puzzler. Alexander has become a motivational speaker for a rip off TED-like series. They each get summoned to reunite. Of course, there’s a workout montage. (I mean there has to be a workout montage) And then the band’s triumphant return — at a backyard birthday party in front of that devoted fan.
Sarah Walk is a rising Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist who currently splits her time between Los Angeles and London. Walk’s full-length debut, 2017’s Steve Brown-produced Little Black Book found the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist crafting piano-based ballads.
Last year’s Leo Abrahams-produced sophomore album, Another Me was a radical change in sonic direction for the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist with the album’s material finding Walk going towards shimmering and contemplative synth pop centered around percussive arrangements and soaring melodies. Another Me was inspired by a period of immense challenge and transformation, and thematically, the album touched upon marginalization, survival, death, misogyny, vulnerability, reclamation of oneself, learning how to be bold and take up space and the unique challenges of being a queer woman.
The Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist follows up the release of Another Me with a slow-burning and spectral cover of Prince‘s “Nothing Compares 2 U” centered around atmospheric synths, twinkling keys, brief and subtle bursts of strummed guitar, Walk’s achingly tender vocals and supple and soulful bass lines. Featuring guest spots from Abe Rounds and the acclaimed singer/songwriter and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, Walk’s cover deconstructs the song’s melody but in doing so, pulls out the song’s bitter loneliness, yearning, confusion but imbuing the proceedings with a complete detail and inability to move forward.
Walk has wanted to cover Prince for some time — partially because she’s a Minneapolis native; but also because Rounds and Ndegeocello played at the Purple One’s Paisley Park studio in the past. “Truthfully, it had been a really long time since I heard ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’” Walk says in press notes,” and I thought that may work in my favour — I didn’t want to get too inside the other versions that already existed because I wanted to make sure I approached it my own way.
“I recorded the main wurly piano part first and sort of just improvised that ending build up – I liked the idea of repeating the title over and over, almost trance-like, with these ominous chords and angry guitar sounds building up behind it. I kept seeing this visual of me singing that repetitive lyric on stage, almost trying to convince myself I was okay… while the curtain opened up behind me without me knowing it, exposing all of the memories and anger and heartbreak I was really feeling but not able to accept or admit yet.”
“Sometimes I think Prince would want everyone to play his music and sometimes I think he’d want it to never be played again, but I knew Sarah was the kind of spirit who would make it her own and she does,” Meshell Ndgeocello adds.
Directed and edited by Daniel Smith Coleman, the recently released video for Walk’s cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U” is a slow-burning and cinematic fever dream of loneliness, regret and loss — all while nodding a bit at Memento with some of the video’s occurring in reverse.
Since their formation back in 2010, the Seattle-based indie electro pop act Jupe Jupe — My Young (vocals, synths), Bryan Manzo (guitar, bass, sax), Patrick Partington (guitar), and Jarrod Arbini (drums, percussion) — have released four albums Invaders, Reduction in Drag, Crooked Kisses,and Lonely Creatures, which have helped to firmly establish the act’s sound: dance floor, synth-led, post-punk informed by synth pop and Americana.
Jupe Jupe’s Matt Bayles-produced Nightfall EP was released earlier, and the EP continues their ongoing collaboration with Bayles, who also produced and engineered their last full-length album. Meticulously written over the course of the preceeding year, the five song EP finds the band adding soulful saxophone to material that thematically focuses on yearning and desire.
Over the course of this past year, I’ve written about two of the EP’s singles:
The New Order-like “Leave You Lonely.” The accompanying video meshed three different visual styles – line animation, live footage shot in high contrast negative and a lyric video in a way that draws comparisons to a-ha’s “Take On Me” to mind.
The bring Avalon-era Roxy Music-like ‘How Could We Both Be In Love.” Directed by Dirty Sidewalks‘ Erik Foster, the accompanying moody visual seems to draw from French nouvelle vague and 80s MTV.
Earlier this year, I set up an interview with the members of Jupe Jupe to discuss their Nightfall EP, their influences, the videos for the aforementioned “Leave You Lonely” and “How Could Be In Love,” and how they were all getting along during the pandemic in a rather prototypical JOVM Q&A session. I received the band’s responses a few days after George Floyd’s tragic murder at the hands of Minneapolis police. Understandably, as a Black man, Floyd’s death hit close to home. With police brutaliy, police reform, the Black Lives Matter movement and protests brewing up in major cities across the world, I initially wanted to ask the band a handful of questions related to those particular topics. Unfortunately, those follow-up questions never came up and the Q&A languished in my email inbox for months – without explanation to anyone.
2020 has been difficult. But with Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’ Election Day victory over Donald Trump has given me some hope. We have an incoming administration that will be competent, caring and will do everything in their power to make things right through policy and action.
In the meantime, check out the EP and the interview below:
WRH: Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, festivals have been postponed or cancelled outright, artists of all stripes have postponed, rescheduled or cancelled tour dates – and there are a number of artists, who have rescheduled releases of new material. You released a new EP shortly before the pandemic. How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?
Jupe Jupe: Like so many other bands, we’ve had to cancel quite a few shows following the COVID outbreak. We luckily had our Nightfall EP release show before the lockdowns began, but the only “live” performance we’ve done since February was a live-stream benefit show to help support out-of-work employees at a local club. It was a blast playing again, though we look forward to in-person audiences! We wonder if live streaming will be the norm for bands until next year at least.
Despite the pandemic situation, the EP still received quite a bit of college-station airplay and press coverage, which we’re happy about. Given the scary times everyone is going through, we’re not sweating the lack of live performances. We’ll just ride it out like everyone else. We also hope that the smaller music venues can survive this—that’s something we’re definitely concerned about.
WRH: How have you been holding up? What have you been doing to keep busy? Binge watching anything?
Jarrod Arbini: It varies from day to day, but I’ve finally gotten around to doing some of those home improvements. After 14 years, the refrigerator ice and water dispenser hookup has finally been accomplished. And I’ve discovered a new love for video games!
So before COVID, say that I decided to fly into Seattle. Where would I go to eat and drink, if I wanted to meet and be around locals?
Bryan Manzo: Seattle is a really fun place to visit. It kind of depends on what you’re into or what you’re looking for. When people visit me I tend to offer lots of restaurants, bars, or clubs, but the thing that people seem the most into is just being outside. It’s really remarkable how green the city is. We have mountains to the east and west. Water, water everywhere and forests so thick they’re dark during the day. It’s like Endor. Honestly, I can’t even believe I’m writing this because I’m not really into that. So for me, I guess I’d say the weed stores.
What’s your favorite venue to see shows in Seattle? Why?
PP: I think my favorite venue for larger shows is The Showbox. It fits around 1100 people, the sound is terrific, and pretty much everywhere you stand is a great spot—whether you want to be right up front or in back watching from one of the venue’s bars, which I usually opt for.
JA: Yeah, The Showbox for sure.
How did you get into music?
PP: My older brothers were music-heads, and they turned me on to The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, The Monkees, Led Zeppelin, and lots of 70’s progressive stuff when I was a little kid. Through my teenage years, I was addicted to a small AM station in Seattle called KJET. That’s how I discovered bands like The Cure, XTC, Psychedelic Furs, The Smiths, and tons of other bands you couldn’t hear on regular FM radio in Seattle. When I first learned guitar at 14, I wanted to be like Pete Townshend—windmilling and leaping around.
My Young: My father is a guitarist and came from a family of musicians. He used to play and sing 60’s folk songs and other old hits like “Ghost Riders in the Sky” to us when we were little kids. When I was 12, I started a punk/new-wave band with my pals in Denver called the Bloody Ear Muffs. I’ve been in various bands since then.
JA: There was always music in our house and from an early age, the drums were fascinating to me. Once I was able to join the 5th grade symphonic band, I was hooked. I bought my first drum kit in the 7th grade and found being in a band and sharing my passion for music with like-minded individuals to be so satisfying.
PP: I gravitate toward a lot of British bands from the 80’s—OMD, New Order, and The Cure. Plus hooky 60’s music.
MY: In addition to the obvious synthpop and post-punk influences, I get inspiration from a larger bag of artists like Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, the 90’s WARP catalog, 70’s glam, and 60’s artists like The Kinks, Pink Floyd, Roy Orbison, and The Zombies. And of course, James Bond themes.
JA: Anything with a hook and I’m in!
WRH: Who are you listening to right now?
PP: I’ve been listening to Gorillaz, The Clash, and early Who lately. Wham! and Erasure when I want to be in a good mood quickly. Usually I just shuffle playlists so that I’m surprised. I also listen to First Wave on SiriusXM Radio—I’ve heard all of it, but it’s comforting in these uncertain times.
JA: During COVID, I’ve been trying to run more, and for my run mix I’ve recently added The Magic Group, lots of Kaiser Chiefs, The Goldbergs, and some Tame Impala. To take the edge off some of my ongoing periods of anxiety, I’ve actually been turning toward smooth 60’s Motown stuff with the likes of The Temptations and The Four Tops, among others.
WRH: Are there any acts from Seattle that the outside world should know now and doesn’t? Why?
BM: Yes. There’s a band called The NitWitz. They’re 11 and 12 year olds. One of the members is my kid. Another one of the members is My’s kid. Someone please discover them and get them OUT OF MY GARAGE BECAUSE IT’S SO LOUD! Also, they’re kind of funny.
WRH: How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with Jupe Jupe?
Jupe Jupe: We describe our music as dark yet danceable—a “noir cocktail” of crooning vocals over pulsing beats, with guitars and sax that cut across washes of synth.
PP: When people ask me personally what we’re like, I say we try to sound like an updated version of our 80’s new-wave influences.
JA: Definitely a more current take on an 80’s-type vibe. Quite a mixed bag really, but it works!
WRH: Your latest EP, Nightfall continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with Matt Bayles. How has it been to work with him?
Jupe Jupe: Matt’s done an amazing job recording and mixing our last two albums, Nightfall and Lonely Creatures. Though he’s produced many harder bands (Mastadon, He Whose OX Is Gored, Murder City Devils, etc.), he gets our sound completely and we generally don’t have to give him much input, especially when it comes to how he mixes the songs. We bring the tunes in fully written, so that we can get straight into recording. He’s a serious, no-nonsense guy in the studio—and he definitely doesn’t put up with less-than-stellar performances!
WRH: The EP’s material thematically focuses on yearning and desire. How much of the material comes from personal experience – or that from someone you know?
Jupe Jupe: We usually write the lyrics as a group. Though it takes longer this way than it would with one person doing all the heavy lifting, we feel like we end up with stronger material. Everyone’s input is probably based on their own experiences, but we usually don’t go into it with an individual’s specific story in mind (“Hey, this thing happened to me—let’s write a song about it”). We might offer anecdotes that lend themselves to a song, but after the music is written, we pick subject matter that we think will work best with the vibe. For this batch of songs, “yearning and desire” seemed to fit really well!
While much of the EP’s material continues the synth-based, hook-driven sound that has won you attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere, EP single “How Could We Both Be in Love” features the addition of saxophone. It may arguably be the most Avalon-era Roxy Music track of the EP – and it’s one of my favorite off the entire EP. How much did Roxy Music influence it? What’s the song about?
MY: Bryan and I started playing music together in an Austin prog band called Maximum Coherence During Flying, in which Bryan played both guitar and sax. We always wanted to bring it back into our songs, but kept forgetting to do it. For the Nightfall EP, Bryan proposed how it would add a new element to the direction we were already heading in. We’re both huge Roxy Music fans (especially their first four records), and it was exciting and inspiring to bring it back into the mix.
PP: Essentially, that song is about being in a relationship with a narcissist.
How did the videos for “How Could We Both Be in Love” and “Leave You Lonely” come about?
Jupe Jupe: For “How Could We Both Be in Love,” we teamed up with our friend Erik Foster of the great Seattle band, Dirty Sidewalks. He directed our last two videos and he’s always done a spectacular job. We usually start by sending him a rough mix and the lyrics, then discussing some broad ideas over beers. For this video, we really didn’t have to offer any guidance. He’s extremely creative and talented at matching the vibe of the video to the song. He did some great stop-motion and visual effects—he always surprises us. It’s an awesome partnership.
”Leave You Lonely” was created by two of our band members, Bryan and Jarrod, using a combination of hand drawings, still photos, lyric text, and shifting color palettes to capture the movement and feel of the song.
WRH: The band has been together for a decade now, which is an eternity in contemporary music. What do you ascribe to your longevity? What advice, if any do you have for bands trying to make a name for themselves?
PP: We’re all best friends and we’ve worked together in various bands over the past 20 years, so we know each other’s strengths and idiosyncrasies really well. Plus, with that type of history, it’s easier to be honest—as opposed to walking on eggshells with someone you don’t know well. Apart from music, we just like hanging out!
As far as advice for bands trying to make a name, I’d say figure out your sound, and continue to evolve it! Don’t worry about what’s popular or the next trend. Hopefully you can break through the clutter by sticking to your convictions and continuing to improve as a band. Also, it helps to share band duties—rather than one person doing all the writing, promo, booking, etc. It makes it much more fun and keeps everyone invested. And when you play live, be sure to promote the hell out of every show and make sure the other bands on the bill do too.
JA: I think our longevity is due to the lack of inter-band drama and a shared love of music and playing live. It also helps that everyone brings a different expertise and perspective to the group —outside of the actual music. This really helps us to get through all the less-than-glamorous band duties that come along with being a musician.
What’s next for you?
Jupe Jupe: Bryan and My are currently working on new song ideas individually, and we check in with each other for a “virtual” band happy hour once a week. We’re really just playing things by ear during the pandemic—it’s difficult to make concrete plans right now, but we know for sure we’ll be releasing new music eventually!
Led by Eli Hansen, the Minneapolis-based indie rock act Real Numbers will be releasing the highly-anticipated follow-up to 2016’s Wordless Wonder and 2017’s “Frank Infatuation” with their forthcoming EP Brighter Then. Slated for a January 22. 2020 release through Slumberland Records, Brighter Then, which was recorded during the winter of 2019/2020 is the first bit of recorded material with the band’s newest — and fifth — member, Sophie Durbin on keys.
Reportedly, finding the band delving deep into the classic, late 80s indie pop sound, Brighter Then lyrically finds the band’s Hansen taking a much more personal and introspective tack — with the material revolving around relationships, shifting perspectives and memories. Adult life is accepting the fact that things are complicated and endlessly shifting, sometimes in ways you can’t quite understand.
“Brighter Then,'” the EP’s title track and latest single is a deceptively breezy jangle pop confection featuring ethereal and gently reverb-drenched vocals, shimmering and jangling guitars, atmospheric synths, a propulsive rhythm section and an infectious, radio friendly hook. While continuing the band’s long-held reputation for crafting decidedly 80s New Zealand jangle pop-inspired work, the new single, which was slowly crafted over the last few years is centered around aching nostalgia just under its surface: “Brighter Then” focuses on the evolving friendships — the losses, gains and acceptance of the present. And at its core is the tacit understanding that we can’t get the past back; things are what they are.
“It all started at our old rehearsal space, the basement of the now defunct DIY venue Coming Soon,” Real Numbers’ Eli Hansen says of “Brighter Then.” “It was late 2016 and we had finished recording Wordless Wonder and were having these very sporadic, unfocused practices, so I just started playing this riff over and over. The jam didn’t really go anywhere, but I knew this riff was special and deserved attention. Over the course of the following year I came up with an intro/outro and a vocal melody, culminating as a barely passable live version at a basement show in December 2017. After I finished the lyrics, Ian recorded a demo version of it in 2018 that sounded great, but also exposed some weak spots—like the key we’d been playing it in. We even made a couple changes to the bass and synth arrangements while recording this, the final version—and I tell ya, I think it’s perfect.”
The recently released video by Carolyn Hawkin features construction paper-based, stop motion animation and hand drawn imagery. And while possessing a child-like nature, the DIY video seems to evoking the cyclical nature of everything and the passing of time.
Sophie Allison is a Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and creative mastermind behind the critically applauded indie rock project Soccer Mommy. Allison first picked up guitar when she was six — and as a teenager, she attended Nashville School of the Arts, where she studied guitar and played in the school’s swing band. In 2015, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began posting home-recorded sons as Soccer Mommy Bandcamp during the summer of 2015, just as she was about to head to New York University (my alma mater, no less!), where she studied music business at the University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.
While she was in college, Allison played her first Soccer Mommy show at Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Silent Barn. She caught the attention of Fat Possum Records, who signed her to a record deal — and after spending two years at NYU, she returned to Nashville to pursue a full-time career in music. Upon her return to Nashville, the acclaimed Swiss-born artist wrote and released two Soccer Mommy albums — 2016’s For Young Hearts released through Orchid Tapes and 2017’s Collection released through Fat Possum. Allison’s proper, full-length debut 2018’s Clean was released to widespread critical acclaim, and as a result of a rapidly growing profile, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based artist has toured with Stephen Malkmus, Mitski, Kacey Musgraves, Jay Som, Slowdive, Frankie Cosmos, Liz Phair, Phoebe Bridgers, Paramore, Foster the People, Vampire Weekend, and Wilco.
Before the pandemic, Allison was gearing up for this year to be a massive year: she started off 2020 by playing at one of Bernie Sanders’ presidential rallies and joined a lengthy and eclectic list of artists, who endorsed his presidential campaign. Her highly-anticipated sophomore album color theory was released to critical praise earlier this year — and like countless artists across the globe, she was about to embark on a headlining tour with a number of dates sold-out months in advance that included a Glastonbury Festival set. And she was supposed to be make her late-night, national TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
With touring at an indefinite halt, Allison, like countless other artists recognized that this period offered a unique opportunity to get creative and experiment with new ideas and new ways to connect with fans. Combining her love of video games and performing, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based artist had a digital show on Club Penguin Rewritten with over 10,000 attendees, who all had to make their own penguin avatars to attend. The show was so popular, that the platform’s servers crashed, forcing a rescheduling of the event. Of course, Allison has also played a number of live-streamed sets, including ones hosted by NPR’s Tiny Desk At Home (which she kicked off) and Pitchfork‘s IG Live Series. She also released her own Zoom background images for her fans to proudly show off their Soccer Mommy fandom.
Earlier this year, Aliison and her backing band embarked on a Bella Clark-directed 8 bit, virtual music video tour that had the act playing some of the cities she had been scheduled to play if the pandemic didn’t happen — Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Toronto, and Austin. And instead of having the virtual shows at at a common tourist spot or a traditional music venue, the members of the band were mischievously placed in rather unusual locations: an abandoned Toronto subway station, a haunted Chicago hotel, a bat-filled Austin bridge. Of course, the video tour featured color theory single “crawling in my skin,” a song centered around looping and shimming guitars, a sinuous bass line, shuffling drumming, subtly shifting tempos and an infectious hook.
Allison recently released an Adam Kolodny-directed, fittingly Halloween-themed visual for “crawling in my skin” that’s full of creeping and slow-burning dread that reminds me of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe movies with Vincent Price. “I’m excited to put out this video for crawling in my skin right at the end of spooky season. I hope everyone enjoys this video and their Halloween! 🎃“ Allison says.
Sarah Walk is a Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter, and Berklee College of Music grad, who currently splits her time between Los Angeles and London. 2017’s Steve Brown-produced debut Little Black Book found the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist crafting piano-based ballads.
Walk’s forthcoming Leo Abrahams-produced sophomore album Another Me is reportedly a radical change in sonic direction for the Berklee College of Music grad with the album’s material moving towards shimmering and contemplative synth pop featuring soaring melodies and percussive arrangements. Thematically, the album’s material may be the most introspective she has ever written with the material inspired by a period of immense challenge and transformation, touching upon marginalization, survival, death, misogyny, vulnerability, reclamation of oneself and learning how to take up space. Additionally, the album sees Walk directly tackling the challenges of being a queer woman. “A lot of things had been untapped in my writing until now, many of which deal with burdens that I’ve carried or felt responsible for, which I believe has a lot to do with being a woman and being queer” Walk says in press notes.
“What Do I Want,” Another Me’s latest single is an atmospheric bit of synth pop, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, detailed syncopated percussion paired with Walk’s achingly plaintive vocals. And while bearing a resemblance to Kate Bush, the track reveals Walk’s knack for crafting a hook that’s both melodic and soaring. But despite its seeming tranquility, the song’s narrator attempts to work through anxiety, procrastination and paralyzing indecision in every aspect of her life. “Sometimes it’s easier to be so overwhelmed by what to do that you don’t do anything until someone else makes a decision for you,” the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist explains. “I think part of that comes from being a woman; we’ve been conditioned to doubt our capability; afraid of confidence coming off as arrogant. Writing this song was a way of holding myself accountable so I can transcend societal structures and avoid falling into the same patterns of paralyzed anxiety.”
Another Me is slated for an August 28, 2020 release through One Little Indian Records. In the meantime, the recently released video for “What Do I Want” features Walk personifying the anxiousness and uncertainty within the song, as she seems plagued by crippling indecision.