JOVM celebrates MTV’s 40th birthday.
Will Goodchild is a Marlow, Buckingham, UK-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer, and the creative mastermind behind the emerging solo recording project Asset Music. As Goodchild explains, Asset Music was created as a creative outlet, when it became difficult to get a real band together to play. So, he took to his mini studio — a MacBook Pro with Logic X — and started writing and recording music inspired by Brit Pop and alt rock that he wanted to hear. Although, Goodchild aims to take the project wherever his muses take him, with the project being firmly rooted in the ‘if it sounds good, it must be” ethos.
In the meantime, Asset Music’s latest single “Shine On” is a decidedly 120 Minutes MTV-era alt rock single featuring fuzzy power chords, cavernous drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. Sonically, the track brings Gentlemen-era Afghan Whigs to mind; but as Goodchild explains in press notes, the song reflects on the past year of the pandemic but with an optimistic view of things getting back to some level of normal. Live music may actually be a fucking thing again in New York, so how about that?
The recently released video by Studio 4×2 follows a black clad traveling guitarist. The guitarist travels about, playing music in various locations throughout a long day and night. And while the cities are quiet, things aren’t completely hopeless. You do see people embarking on their daily errands — and the sight of a wandering musician gives a small bit of hope for normalcy on the horizon.
Jeen O’Brien is a Canadian singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has written songs for a lengthy list of recording artists, and as a solo artist, performing under the mononym Jeen, O’Brien has written songs used in ad campaigns for Google, Panasonic, Estée Lauder, Kraft, BlackBerry, KIA, Rogers, Mastercard and Molson, as well as TV shows like Republic of Doyle, Instant Star, Ruby Gloom, Degrassi, Hockey Wives, Killjoys, Workin’ Moms, Catfish, Are You the One and the major motion picture Cook Off. In addition to her solo work, O’Brien is a member of Cookie Duster with Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning.
O’Brien’s newest full-length album, the Ian Blurton co-produced Dog Bite is slated for an October 2021 release — and along with the album announcement, the Canadian singer/songwriter and producer released a double single, “Better Drugs”/”Fair to Move On.” Because of time considerations on my end, I’m choosing to write about one single: “Better Drugs,” a grungy bit of power pop centered around crunchy guitar lines, O’Brien’s Liz Phair-lke delivery and a rousingly anthemic hook. Although sonically bringing 90s alt rock and 120 Minutes-era MTV to mind, the song as the Canadian artist explains explores our desire to constantly seek something better while being directly influenced by the events of 2020 — both socially and personally: “I wrote ‘Better Drugs’ eight months after watching the world burn, with everything so exposed and gross. Like we had all lost too many pieces of ourselves to put back together or something…I wondered how fundamental it was, like how broken are we, you know? On top of that, I had a very sudden death in the family 48 hours before we went into the studio to record.
“This kind of raw disconnect leads to all the problems especially if you’ve lost connection with yourself…so with all that fell away last year, I found myself pathetically grateful for the few people I still had around me.”
Berlin-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Saskia Hahn started her music career in the mid 2000s as a member of the power pop/rock act Sweet Machine, a band widely hailed in her hometown for their distinctive style — and for Hahn’s stage presence. Hahn and her band caught the attention of acclaimed electro-clash artist and gender-equality activist Peaches, who recruited Hahn and the members of Sweet Machine as a her touring band for a two-and-a-half run, which ended with a live recording session with Dave Catching and Edmund Monsef at Rancho De La Luna Studio in Joshua Tree, CA.
After five years of the rock ‘n’ roll life, Hahn took time off from music and devoted herself to mixed media visual art — painting, screen printing and installations. Her work was exhibited in galleries in Berlin, NYC, Sydney, London, and Zurich — and interestingly enough, that period found Hahn rediscovered her love of music, as well as a new approach. Inspired, she decided to not only write the songs but to produce them herself. Leading her new band The Heartways, she released the band’s debut single “Maybe” last year.
The Heartways full-length debut album Damaged Goods will be released later this year. The album’s second single “By Your Side” is an a decidedly 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock-like track centered around Hahn’s expressive yet ethereal vocals, a motorik groove and a rousingly anthemic hook. And while the song — to my ears, at least — brings PJ Harvey to mind, the song is a love song that superficially seems address to a person but is actually a swooning and awe-inspired love letter to a particular place — Joshua Tree National Park. “I tried to capture the moment of falling in love with this amazing place,” Hahn says in press notes. “I’d heard so much about it but never quite understood the deep feelings my ‘desert family’ had for that particular patch of land―until it stole my heart too! I was walking through the desert on an off-day during the “I Feel Cream” world tour with Peaches. We’d just played at Pappy & Harriet’s the night before, and it suddenly struck me. I realized the desert’s incredible beauty and fell totally in awe with it. It was such a powerful and magical moment that I can never forget and will always be thankful for.”
Of course, because of pandemic-related restrictions, Hahn couldn’t be in the desert for the filming of the video; however, the video employs gorgeous Joshua Tree footage filmed by filmmaker Will Stockwell superimposed in the background. Robin Thomson, the video’s Director of Photography and Editor contributes a dreamy and trippy feel to the overall proceedings.
With the release of their 2019 full-length debut, Down In Flames, the San Diego-based noise punk trio Warish — currently founding member Riley Hawk (guitar, vocals), Alex Bassaj (bass) and Justin de la Vega (drums) — quickly established a reputation for crafting mosh pit friendly, bludgeoning rippers, that bring early Butthole Surfers, Scratch Acid, Incesticide-era Nirvana, Static Age-era Misfits and others to mind.
The San Diego-based JOVM mainstays’ sophomore album, the 13-song Next To Pay reportedly finds the noise punk trio at their darkest and most vicious. “Next To Pay is about a sense of imminent doom, everyone is going to die,” Warish’s Riley Hawk says in press notes. “It’s not the happiest record, I guess.” The album’s material sonically finds the band continuing to draw from the same influences as its predecessor, but while pushing their sound in a much more forceful — and in turn, nastier — direction, heavily influenced by the guitar work of Greg Ginn and Buzz Osborne — wiry contortions drenched in various chorus effect pedals. “This album is more of an evolution, it’s a little more punk-heavy,” Hawk adds. “We figured out what our sound was.”
Along with that evolution, the band went through a massive lineup change. The band’s original drummer Nick “Broose” McDonnell plays on roughly half the album’s songs while their newest drummer Justin de la Vega played on the more recently written and recorded tracks. Bassaj joined the band after their debut was recorded, so Next To Pay marks his official Warish debut.
So far I’ve written about two of the album’s released singles:
“Seeing Red,” a breakneck, Bleach-era Nirvana like ripper centered around Hawk’s howled vocals, scuzzy power chords, a forceful and chugging bass line paired with pummeling drumming that continues a run of mosh pit friendly material — but with a feral snarl.
“S.H.M. (Second Hand Misery)” another breakneck ripper that sonically reminded me of a gritty synthesis of Nirvana and Melvins — but full of bile and evil intentions.
“Scars,” Next to Pay’s third and latest single continues a remarkable run of piss and bile fueled rippers — but with this one managing to sound a bit like a synthesis of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings” and Ride the Lightning-era Metallica. Fittingly, the recently released video brings 120 Minutes-era MTV to mind, as it features the band performing the song in a studio in front of various colored background.
The JOVM mainstays’ sophomore album Next To Pay is slated for an April 30, 2021 release through RidingEasy Records.
Rising Hong Kong-based indie outfit Lucid Express — Kim (vocals, synths), Andy (guitar), Sky (guitar), and siblings Samuel (bass) and Wai (drums) — can trace their origins back to 2014: the then-teenagers formed the band in the turbulent weeks just prior to the Umbrella Movement, the most recent in a series of tense pro-democracy protests against increasingly brutal state-led suppression in their home region. Amidst the constantly scenery of tear-gassed, bloodied and beaten protestors, politically-targeted arrests and death threats from government officials, the five Hong Kong-based musicians met in a small practice space sun the remote, industrial Kwai Hing neighborhood.
Despite the ugliness of their sociopolitical moment, the band manages to specialize in an ethereal and shimmering blend of indie pop, dream pop and shoegaze with their practice space being someplace where they could escape their world. “At that time, it felt like we have [sic] a need to hold on to something more beautiful than before. Like close friendships, the band, our creation,” the band’s Kim says in press notes.
The band’s name can be seen as a relatively modest mission statement describing the band’s intent: their use of the word lucid is in the poetic sense of something bright and radiant. Essentially, Lucid Express operates as the service to take the listener on a journey through their lush, blissful and dreamy sounds. Unsurprisingly, their material manages to carry the mood of their inception: with the band’s members working late-night shifts, their rehearsal and recording schedules found the band playing, writing and recording material between midnight and 4:00AM, and then crashing for a few hours in the studio before going back to work.
The end result is the band’s highly-anticipated, full-length debut. the 10-song album thematically touches upon being young, being in love and maneuvering through heartache in difficult times. Of course while writing and recording together served as a unifying and soothing presence for the members of the band, their music fell victim to their complicated circumstances: The pervasive uncertainty over Hong Kong’s sociopolitical future created an overwhelming feeling of depression that found its way into the local music scene. Shows were cancelled and releases delayed. And for a time, it just didn’t feel relevant to promote music.
While there’s much to be fought for at home, the members of the rising indie rock act have recently begun to feel a fresh hope in their work. They’ve felt as though they’ve reached an understanding of their music’s place amongst the world it inhabits — and they’ve decide to release their full-length debut through Kanine Records on July 16, 2021.
So far, the act has received glowing praise from Time Out for their “dreamy live performances” and their debut single “Lime” was praised by Drowned In Sound, NME and others. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the Hong Kong shoegazers latest single “Wellwave” is a sculptured and lush soundscape centered around Kim’s ethereal vocals, glistening synths, skittering four-on-the floor and a motorik groove. Sonically, the track may remind listeners of the likes of Lightfoils, Palm Haze and Cocteau Twins but while feeling like a lucid fever dream.
The recently released video will bring 120 Minutes-era MTV to mind with the band playing in a room full of old, cathode ray TVs, footage shot with a grainy VHS-like quality, split with footage of the band walking around in an equally surreal backdrop of flying fish. It’s appropriately trippy and dream-like.
Acclaimed French electro pop act Yelle — Julie “Yelle” Budet (vocals) and Jean-François “GrandMarnier” Perrier (production, percussion) can trace their collaboration back to around 2000 when Budet and Perrier first met and became friends. But the duo didn’t start working on music together until 2005. Initially formed under the name YEL, an acronym for the phrase “You Enjoy Life,” the duo learned of a Belgian band with the same name, and were forced to change their name, eventually feminizing their original name to “Yelle.”
The duo quickly received attention when they posted a song they originally titled “Short Dick Cuizi,” which originally was a written as a mock diss track that referred to Cuiziner of acclaimed French hip-hop act TTC. The song eventually became “Je veux te voir,” which charted at #4 in their native France, and as a result of the buzz surrounding them, they caught the attention of Source Etc Records, who then signed the act. Interestingly, around the same time that the duo had started working on their full-length Perrier met the band’s now-former third member Destable, who at the time was working full-time as a journalist. As the story went, Baudet and Perrier were desperate for a touring keyboardist to flesh out their live sound, and they somehow managed to rope Destable into joining the band.
2007’s full-length debut Pop Up was released to widespread critical acclaim and was a commercial success as a result of “A cause des garçons,” which landed at #11 on the French Singles Chart and “Parle a ma main,” a collaboration with Fatal Bazooka that landed at number 1. Building upon a growing international profile, Baudet, Perrier and Destable spent a three year period between 2006-2009 touring to support Pop Up — with the band being named as MTV‘s Artist of the Week during the last week of March, 2008.
After taking a few months off, the members of Yelle returned to the studio to began work on their sophomore album, and by February 2010 they started their own label Recreation Center, headed by Perrier. Yelle’s sophomore album, 2011’s Safari Disco Club found the act focusing on harmonies, melodies and Budet’s vocals, and was released to generally positive reviews — including The Independent, who wrote that the album was “essential for anyone, who appreciates dancefloor-friendly European synth pop.” The album caught the attention of Katy Perry, who invited the act to open for her during the British leg of her California Dreams tour. After they completed that tour, they went on a European tour and went on a Stateside tour that fall.
The French electro pop act’s third album, 2014’s Completement fou was co-produced by Dr. Luke and a team of producers that included Kojak, AC, Billboard Mat, Oliver, Cirkut, Mike and Madmax. Dr. Luke learned about Yelle through their remix of Katy Perry’s “Hot n Cold” — and after catching them live, he signed them to his label. The album was supported by extensive international touring, which included their third stop at Coachella, an extremely rare feat for a Francophone act, as well as tours across Europe, South American and China.
The acclaimed French act’s fourth album L’Ère du Verseau (The Age of Aquarius) was released last September — and much like countless acts across the globe, Baudet and Perrier were gearing up for extensive touring to support the album, and to celebrate their 15th year together. In lieu of touring, the band released incredible visuals for album singles “Je t’aime encore” and “Vue d’en Face,” a breezy yet melancholy track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, finger snaps, stuttering beats and Budet’s ethereal and achingly plaintive vocals.
L’Ere du Verseau’s latest single “Noir” is a dance floor friendly bop centered around thumping beats, shimmering synth arpeggios, funky bass line and Baudet’s sassy delivery. Interestingly, the song is meant to inspire the listener to strut like they’re on the catwalk, serving fools looks — hard.
Directed by Giant, the recently released video for “Noir” is a campy and fierce as fuck take on haute couture that features beautiful people serving up looks with fierceness while looking like behind the scenes footage of a photo shoot.
Willy Mason is a White Plains-born, West Tilbury, MA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has released three full-length albums — 2004’s Where The Humans Eat, 2007’s If The Ocean Gets Rough and 2012’s Carry On.
Slated for an August 6, 2021 release through Cooking Vinyl, Already Dead is the White Plains-born, West Wilbury-based singer/songwriter’s fourth album — and the first batch of full-length material from Mason in over nine years. Thematically, the album reportedly explores honesty, deception, anonymity in the digital age, good intentions with unexpected consequences, freedom, colonialism, love, God and purpose. “Already Dead is a spiritual state to aspire to; it is freedom from the trappings and inhibitions of one’s ego, culture, and mythology. It is freedom and love and freedom to love in the face of death,” Mason explains. “It’s about the necessary destruction of one’s mythology; mythology of species, sex, race, nation, self. It’s about the pain and tragedy that comes with such destruction, but also about the freedom, possibility and opportunity for reconciliation; reconciliation with the natural world and with each other.”
Reportedly one of the harder songs in his growing catalog, Already Dead’s latest single “Youth On A Spit” is a 120 Minutes MTV-era alt rock-like anthem centered around scuzzy power chords, propulsive drumming, and Mason’s ironically delivered lyrics, which are both a bold declaration of insouciance and invincibility and an incisive commentary on post-modern life. And because of its relatable yet rousingly anthemic hook, the song may remind some listeners of 90s era Beck.
“‘Youth On A Spit’ is about the struggle for freedom and identity that comes from growing up in an advertising based culture. The refrain ‘you can’t kill me I’m already dead’ is about the liberation that comes with disillusionment,” Mason explains.
Director by Noel Heroux is a lo-fi and lysergic romp that’s partially a journey through boring suburbia and a partially a journey through hell, competed with Mason being practically in the hellfire.
With the release of their critically applauded self-titled debut, 2016’s self-titled debut, Toronto-based Jiants — former professional skateboarder Jesse Landen (vocals, guitar), Adam Kesek (bass), John Sirdevan (drums) and the band’s newest member Joe Delfin (lead guitar) quickly established a sound that meshes 90s alt rock with sensibilities. 2018’s Taylor Knox co-produced follow-up Odd Trouble found the band meshing infectious rifts, melodic keyboard lines and Landen’s vocals to create a sound that managed to be nostalgia-inducing yet wholly theirs.
Earlier this year, the Toronto-based indie act released their latest EP, Wait Here and the EP’s latest single “Some Kind of Loser” is a decidedly Brit Pop-inspired anthem, featuring a gorgeous and cinematic string arrangement by Drew Jurecka, layers of shimmering guitars and rousingly anthemic and dryly ironic chorus paired with Landen’s plaintive and sun-cracked vocals. Sonically, the track — to my ears, least — reminds me quite a bit of Urban Hymns-era The Verve, Love Is Here-era Starsailor and Oasis. But as the Landen and company admit in press notes. “Some Kind of Loser” “is about charting your own path. These lyrics reflect on how it would ultimately be beneficial learning to work together and respect each other’s paths.”
The song was “born out of a rough day in the studio that was followed by some upcoming shows falling apart in advance,” Jiants’ Jesse Landen continues. “I was half-hoking around thinking about much time and energy I was spending obsessing over music stuff and feeling like a bit of a dork. I think everyone can relate to that in some way. But that’s when it dawned one me that sometimes you might have to just learn to enjoy the rollercoaster because I know that I was going to continue making and sharing music, regardless of the results.”
Directed by Hart Dylan Webster, the recently released visual for “Some Kind of Loser” is a cinematic ode to 120 Minutes-era MTV.
With the release of their full-length debut, 2019’s ten-song Kenny Jones-recorded and produced Blind Reflection the Metz, France-based act OSTED quickly established a sound that blues the lines between indie rock and post punk with an expansive sonic palette.
Although they weren’t able to tour as a result of pandemic related lockdowns and quarantines, the emerging French act managed to have a rather auspicious 2020: they returned to the Jones’ London-based Alchemy Studio to record the follow-up to their debut, the forthcoming Collecting Memories EP. And they signed with Endless Night Records at the end of last year.
The EP’s latest single “Sarajevo” is a brooding song centered around an angular and propulsive bass line, shimmering guitars, thunderous drumming, rousingly anthemic hooks and dry yet achingly plaintive vocals within an expansive song structure. Interestingly, the song is a perfect example of their sound: a subtle mix of Joy Division post-punk, shoegaze and 120 Minutes-era MTV all rock with seemingly lived-in lyrics.
Look for Conflicted Memories EP on April 30, 2021.