Tag: Music Hall of Williamsburg

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Yola Releases an Uplifting Tune for Young Black Women

With the release of her critically applauded, Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut, last year’s Walk Through Fire, the Bristol, UK-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola had a highlight-filled, breakthrough year. Some of those major highlights included:

playing a breakout performance at SXSW
making her New York debut at Rockwood Music Hall
playing a live session for YouTube at YouTube Space New York
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas.
making her late night national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
releasing a soulful cover of Elton John‘s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” that’s not only a staple of her live sets — but caught the attention of Sir Elton John himself, who praised the rapidly rising artist and her cover.

The British-born JOVM mainstay had hopes to build upon the incredibly momentum of 2019 with a handful of opportunities that many artists across the world would probably kill someone for: Earlier this year, it was announced that she was preparing to play blues and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama Elvis alongside Austin Butler in the title role, Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Presley’s mother. Unfortunately, the film wound up being delayed as a result of pandemic-related shutdowns- and infamously, Tom Hanks contracting COVID-19 while filming in Australia.

The Bristol-born, Nashville-based JOVM mainstay finished her first Stateside headlining tour, which included a Music Hall of Williamsburg show in February, right before pandemic-related shutdowns put the entire known world on pause. In between filming, she was supposed to play a series of dates opening for country superstar Chris Stapleton and Grammy Award-winning acts The Black Keys and Brandi Carlile — with one of those shows being at Madison Square Garden. The best laid plans of mice and men, indeed.

In the meantime, Yola has made her rounds across the domestic, late night television show circuit: Earlier this year she performed, album bonus track “I Don’t Want to Lie” on The Late Late Show with James Corden — and recently, Yola was on Late Night with Seth Meyers with a soulful, gospel-tinged cover of Nina Simone‘s classic and beloved “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” filmed at The Ryman Auditorium.

Her latest single, the Dave Cobb-produced “Hold On” is the first bit of original material from the JOVM mainstay since the release of Walk Through Fire and the track features an All-Star cast backing her including The Highwomen bandmates Brandi Carlile (backing vocals) and Natalie Hemby (backing vocals), Sheryl Crow (piano) and Jason Isbell (guitar). The Yola penned song was recorded during The Highwomen self-titled debut sessions at RCA Studio A — and the track is an uplifting, gospel-tinged track with a warm yet spacious country soul arrangement and that incredibly soulful powerhouse vocal range. The sister can flat out sang, as they say. And along with the aforementioned cover of “To Be Young Gifted and Black,” “Hold On” comes from a rather personal, lived in place.

Inspired by many of the conversations and lessons Yola’s mother gave her about the racism, colorism and systemic unconscious bias she would later experience as a woman, the song finds its narrator imploring the listener — young, Black women, in particular — to be brash and bold, to stand up and take up place, and to to show the entire world that being young, gifted and black is where it’s at, as Nina once sang. Fuck yes, to all of this — and all the goddamn time, too.

“‘Hold On’ is a conversation between me and the next generation of young black girls,” Yola explains. “My mother’s advice would always stress caution, that all that glitters isn’t gold, and that my black female role models on TV are probably having a hard time. She warned me that I should rethink my calling to be a writer and a singer…. but to me that was all the more reason I should take up this space. ‘Hold On’ is asking the next gen to take up space, to be visible and to show what it looks to be young, gifted and black.”

A proportion of the profiles from sales of the track will be donated to MusicCares and National Bailout Collective. She also launched an accompanying line of merch with a proportion of proceeds from those sales also benefiting the same organizations. Check out the following:

https://www,iamyola.com/store

Live Footage: Aussie Punk Rockers Amyl and The Sniffers Perform “Control” at The Croxton

Acclaimed Melbourne, Australia-based punk act Amyl and The Sniffers — Amy Taylor (vocals), Gus Romer (bass), Bryce Wilson (drums) and Declan Martens (guitar) — formed back in 2016. During that first year together, they wrote and self-recorded their debut EP Giddy EP. The Aussie quartet then released 2017’s Big Attractions EP, which they released as a double 12 inch EP with Giddy Up through Homeless Records in Australia and Damaged Goods in the UK.

Amyl and The Sniffers made their international touring debut with an appearance at The Great Escape Festival, a series of sold out London area shows and  a Stateside tour opening for JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. The ended a busy 2017-2018 with triumphant return tours to the UK and US — and signing with  Flightless Records for distribution across Australia and New Zealand and Rough Trade for the rest of the world. They also received a Q Awards nomination for Best New Act and won the $30,000 Levis Prize. 

Building upon a growing international profile, the Aussie punk rock outfit took SXSW by storm and released their critically applauded, self-titled, full-length debut, which established their frenetic and feral take on ’77 era punk and won an ARIA Award for Best  Rock Album. Slated for a May 1, 2020 release, the Melbourne-based punk act will be releasing a live 7 inch, Live At The Croxton, which features dynamic live version of three of their most crowd-pleasing tracks — “Control,” “Gacked On Anger” and “Shake Ya” recorded at the band’s favorite club, in their hometown. 

Live At The Croxton’s first single is a live version “Control” which manages to recall Highway to Hell-era AC/DC, compete with a feral and booze-fueled intensity, centered by Taylor’s howling and some explosive, Headbanger’s Ball-like riffage. The recently released video is centered around live footage of the band performing the song — and it should serve as prefect example of what to expect from their live show: Taylor howling and stomping about the stage while the band rips and roars. 

New Video: S.G. Goodman’s Intimate and Cinematic Look at Southern Rural Life

S.G. Goodman is a rising Murray, KY-born and based singer/songwriter. Born and raised in a strict, church-going family of row crop farmers, near the Mississippi River, Goodman went from singing and playing in church three times a week to becoming a prominent member of Murray’s DIY arts and music scene, as well as an impassioned voice and presence in the political and social movements she supports.

Her forthcoming Jim James-produced full-length debut Old Time Feeling is slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Verve Forecast Records. Recorded at Louisville, KY-based La La Land Studio. which was specifically chosen by Goodman because it possessed her three favorite things — “a creek, a big porch and a kitchen,” the Old Time Feeling sessions were imbued with a familial and community touch: the Murray-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist cooked meals for the studio crew and her backing band, which includes her lifelong friends Matthew David Rowan (guitar) and S. Knox Montgomery (drums). The album is reportedly a brutally honest, complex and loving look at rural Southern life that debunks rural stereotypes while while thematically drawing from her own personal experiences as a gay woman in a rural and deeply religious Southern community and touches upon living with OCD, estrangement, reconciliation and loving your family and community although you might disagree with them on political and social issues. And from her Rockwood Music Hall, Communion set last month, the album’s material is a slick and seamless synthesis of old-school country, Delta blues and rockabilly centered around Goodman’s aching Patsy Cline-like vocals.

Old Time Feeling’s first single “The Way I Talk” is a slow-burning and sultry country-tinged blues centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars, explosive peals of feedback, dramatic and forceful drumming and Goodman’s plaintive, Western Kentucky drawl. Much like “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which “The Way I Talk” subtly references, the song is brutally honest look at the plight of the rural working class — in particular, the rural farming community she grew up: indeed, much like every other aspect of our lives, big business in concert with politicians have managed to exploit and destroy the lives and well-being of everything within their path, leaving the poor to fight the poor for limited resources and options. And while, the song is seethes with anger, there’s also defiant pride — in the fruits of hard and honest labor, of owning a piece of land and being able to pass it down to family, and so on.

“The song is inspired by the plight of the farming community in Kentucky where I grew up, where big business and the laws that protect them have vast control over my community,” Goodman told The Fader. “It is a scary thing calling into question the very thing that put food on my table and is putting food on my niece’s table (she plays the little girl in the video). Isn’t that the case for every person working a factory line who is afraid to unionize? Or a fast food employee afraid to take sick leave to care for her kid? We are all expected to be thankful, not question, and shut our mouths.”

Directed by Brandon Boyd, the recently released video for “The Way I Talk” is a cinematic and intimate look at rural Southern life that follows Goodman and her family through a day in their lives: while they tend to the little ones, there’s a sense that the adults recognize that their way of life is rapidly becoming unsustainable and will disappear, no matter how hard they fight.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Warish Returns with a Furious, Mosh Pit Friendly Ripper

Over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Southern California-based punk trio Warish. Formed back in 2018, the act which features  founding duo Riley Hawk (guitar, vocals) and Bruce McDonnell (drums) can trace their origins back to Hawk’s and McDonnell’s mutual desire to try their hand at something a bit more distinct than what they had previously done: “We wanted to do simpler riffs and a fun live show,” the band’s Riley Hawk explains in press notes. “A little more punk, a little bit grunge . . . a little evil-ish.” And as you may recall, with the release of their first two EPs, the band quickly established a reputation for crafting mosh pit friendly rippers with an aggressively sleazy Troma Films-inspired vibe.  In fact, sonically, the band’s sound draws from early Butthole Surfers, Scratch Acid, Incesticide-era Nirvana, Static Age-era Misfits and others,

Warish released their full-length debut Down In Flames last year, which featured one of my favorite singles of the year, the menacing, mosh pit friendly ripper “Healter Skelter.” And since the album’s release, the band has been busy touring to support the album — including a tour with Acid King during the last half of last year. Interestingly, the JOVM mainstays start off 2020 with a North American tour with Black Lips that includes a February 24, 2020 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg — and with their latest single “Bleed  Me Free,” which continues a run of furious early Nirvana-styled mosh pit rippers. 

New Video: Lower Dens Releases a Psychedelic Visual for “Hand of God”

Formed back in 2010, the acclaimed Baltimore-based dream pop act Lower Dens can trace its origins to when its primary songwriter and founding member Jana Hunter had grown tired of touring and decided to take a hiatus. For what was supposed to be their final tour as a solo artist, Hunter recruited a backing band which featured Geoff Graham, Abram Sanders and Will Adams. Finding that playing with a band was much more enjoyable to them than playing as a solo artist, helped Hunter form Lower Dens. “During that tour, I realized that it wasn’t the touring life that I hated, but more so that the kind of music I wrote as a solo artist wasn’t something I felt entirely comfortable sharing in performance setting. Lower Dens then was the eventual result of the decision to make music with the specific intention of sharing and enjoying it with others,” Hunter said at the time.

Lower Dens’ full-length debut, Twin Hand Movement was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who compared Hunter’s vocals to those of PJ Harvey and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Dusted Magazine, who praised the album’s lyrics for being “delivered without irony, yet self-aware enough to appreciate the obviousness.” While touring to support Twin Hand Movement, the band began writing on the road — but the limitations of writing on the road forced Hunter to work through a laptop and keyboard rather than a guitar, which lead to an increasing presence of synths on what would become their sophomore album Nootropics.

After they completed the tour to support Twin Hand Movement, the band chose to record their sophomore album at The Key Club Recording Company in Benton Harbor, MI.  Hunter cited the studio’s remote location as an imperative part of the writing and recording process. Geoff Graham added that the amount of time spent in the studio allowed them to add extra dimensions to the material to make it lusher and thicker. Largely influenced by Kraftwerk‘s Radioactivity, Fripp and Eno and David Bowie‘s production on Iggy Pop‘s The Idiot, Nootropics was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork. Rolling Stone and Spin. 

Building upon a growing profile, Lower Dens opened for Beach House and indie rock legends Yo La Tengo at the Baltimore stop of the legendary act’s  2013 Fade tour. The following month, they released “Non Grata” on a split 7″ with Baltimore-based band Horse Lords, an effort that was released as part of the Famous Class LAMC series, which benefited VH1’s Save The Music Foundation. 

2015 saw the release of the band’s third album Escape from Evil, which continued a run of critically applauded albums. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes — with the band now being a duo featuring its founding member and primary songwriter Jana Hunter and Nate Nelson. And during that period, the members of Lower Dens had been working on their highly-anticipated follow up to Escape from Evil, The Competition.

Released last September through their longtime label home Ribbon Music, the album is a pop album with an emotionally and politically urgent concept at its core. Competition, by design is the driving force of modern capitalism and the title is Hunnter’s term for a socio-psychological phenomenon that competition generates — a kind of psychosis that accelerates and amplifies our insecurities and anxieties to the point of overload. And as a result our intimacies, our communities and even our senses of self are corroded and distorted. “The issues that have shaped my life, for better or for worse, have to do with coming from a family and a culture that totally bought into this competitive mindset.  I was wild and in a lot of pain as a kid; home life was very bleak, and pop songs were a guaranteed escape to a mental space where beauty, wonder, and love were possible. I wanted to write songs that might have the potential to do that.”

Last year, the members of Lower Dens opened for hit-making act Of Monsters And Men, and they’ll begin this year with a headlining tour to support the album that starts on February 13, 2020 and includes a March 19, 2020 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. (You can check out the rest of the tour dates below.) In the meantime, the album’s latest single, the glistening and propulsive “Hand of God” is centered around Hunter’s achingly expressive vocals, shimmering synth arpeggios and four-on-the-floor drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. Sonically, the song bears a subtle resemblance to Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” and Songs from the Big Chair-era Tears for Fears — but centered around feelings of arrogance, humility and shame. 

“It’s like Cowboy Krautrock,” Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter says about the song in press notes.  “Imagine a wild west adventure, like City Slickers with the star, a wealthy white man. He’s devised a way to conquer God. He has some kind of vaguely dangerous journey, then comes upon God and declares victory. In his hubris, he goes to shake God’s hand, at which time he is psychedelically humbled, his little brain imploding.”

Directed by Aaron Brown and Robby Piantanida, the recently released video, manages to employ a decidedly DIY approach with a bright psychedelic colors — with Hunter seeing the hands of God. 

New Video: DRAMA Releases a Surreal and Otherworldly Visual for “Years”

Tracing their origins back to a chance meeting between its core duo back in 2014, the Chicago-based pop duo DRAMA — producer and DJ Na’el Shehade and vocalist Via Rosa — have managed to bootstrap a subtle yet rapid rise with a proudly DIY ethos, releasing several EPs of material that blurs the lines between R&B, dance pop, heartbreak and bliss, centered around a sound that meshes Shehade’s Chicago house-infused production and Rosa’s soulful delivery, inspired by jazz, hip-hop and Bossa nova. 

Now, as you may recall, the Chicago-based pop act’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Dance Without Me is slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Ghostly International. The album’s material reportedly finds the duo recasting romantic tragedy as moonlit self-acceptance. Instead of wallowing alone in their blues and heartache, the material features characters who sashay and strut, knowing their self-worth while being vulnerable. This album is dedicated to the people watching their friend’s love-lives grow and happen around them, and not having anyone,” Rosa says in press notes.

I’ve written about two of the album’s releases singles so far: “Gimme Gimme,” a sultry synthesis of Between Two Selves-era Octo Octa and classic, Larry Levan-era house — and “Nine One One,” a slow-burning, cinematic bit of Quiet Storm-like soul pop. “Years,” Dance Without Me’s fourth and latest single is a decidedly R&B-tinged affair that nods at What’s the 411-era Mary J. Blige and Robin S.; however, at its core, the song is full of uneasy conflict and bitter uncertainty : the song’s narrator recognizes that they’re deeply devoted to someone, who isn’t right for them. “This track is a bittersweet song about the conflict of wanting to let go but still hold onto someone you love, but you know they’re not right for you,” DRAMA’s Via Rosa says in press notes. “It’s about knowing you should walk away but also wanting to confess your unconditional and eternal love.”

Directed by Adam Chiayat, the recently released video features the members of DRAMA performing through a series of surreal and otherworldly transitioning spaces. “Filmed practically, we set out to create a series of otherworldly, constantly transitioning spaces for DRAMA to perform through,” the video’s director says in press notes. “Emotions can feel like they take us on a ride, floating us forward and bringing us towards things we need to tackle in our lives. The floating and the spaces seek to represent the themes of the song – speaking to your own heart, confronting your past and opening yourself back up to vulnerability.”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Magic Sword Releases a Meditative and Cinematic New Single

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about Magic Sword, a multimedia project heavily indebted to 70s and 80s fantasy and sci-fi that features three masked and cloaked members known as The Keeper, The Seer and The Weaver, who are collectively called The Three Immortals. Their ageless story of their particular role in the endless battle between good and evil is told through gravel novels and occasionally online by a character known as The Harbinger. The project’s musical output serves as the soundtrack to the graphic novel series with their debut EP Legend being part of the first chapter of the The Three Immortals’ quest to find the chosen one. 

Released late last year, the Awakening EP was the highly-awaited follow up to Legend. And as the ongoing story’s second chapter, the material continues the ongoing story of The Three Immortals’ quest to find the chosen one, the only one who has the ability to wield the power of the Magic Sword and defeat the Dark One.

The trio have received quite a bit of attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for their material and their live show. Building upon a growing profile, the members of The Magic Sword will be releasing their sophomore album Endless through Joyful Noise Recordings on March 27, 2020. The 11 song album’s first single is the cinematic and meditative “Depths of Power.” Centered around layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, dramatic and propulsive drumming and a sizzling guitar solo, the track manages to be a retro futuristic track that nods at John Carpenter and 80s dystopian movies but with a clean, modern studio sheen.