JOVM celebrates “It Was a Good Day” Day.
Early James is a Birmingham, AL-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and frontman of the Birmingham-based act Early James and The Latest. Along with bandmates James Mullis and Adrian Marmolejo, the act seamlessly meshes roots rock, the blues, early rock and classic country. The band is Dan Auerbach’s latest singing to his Easy Eye Sound Records — and as the story goes, Auerbach decided he needed to produce James’ work after watching roughly two seconds of the Birmingham-based singer/songwriter and guitarist performing. “Every line has to mean something to him, personally. It’s not good enough to just write a good song, it needs to have a deeper meaning,” Auerbach says of working with James. “He’s unlike any person I’ve ever worked with. He’s not writing a song to be universal; he’s writing a song for him.”
Singing for My Supper, Early James’ full-length debut is slated for a March 13, 2020 release through Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch Records. Reportedly, the Dan Auberach and David “Fergie” Ferguson-produced debut features ten-wide ranging songs that span across blues, folk and old-timey pop crooning that are influenced by Fiona Apple, Tom Waits and the Southern Gothic poets — while being deeply personal, full of world weary wisdom and informed by lived-in experience.
Singing for My Supper’s second and latest single “It Doesn’t Matter Now” tells a tale of a bitter breakup of a dramatic and dysfunctional relationship with recriminations and accusations and deliberately hurtful actions coming from both sides. Musically, the song is centered around a cinematic and brooding Chris Issak “Wicked Game” meets Mississippi Delta Blues arrangement — reverb drenched guitars, gently padded drumming, a sinuous bass line and James’ incredible vocals, which express the heartbreak, bitterness, pride, longing and ambivalence at the core of the song.
Directed by Tim Hardman, the recently released video is a Southern Gothic-influenced visual that recalls Deliverance, A Time to Kill and others, as it stars James, his backing band and a collection of sideshow freaks and primarily set in and around a creepily beaten up cabin in the middle of nowhere. But the video’s protagonist are the sideshow freak couple, who inflict pain on each other — and gleefully enjoy it. “The subject matter for this song is pretty heavy. I felt there needed to be some aggression on screen but didn’t want it to play out like a typical break up,” Hardman told Billboard. “For some reason, Sideshow Bennie, whom I worked with several years ago, popped in my head. I looked him up and learned he was now working with a sidekick, Anna Fiametta. When I read how they met, I thought it was a funny story that would fit the song. The thought of them inflicting pain on each other, and the pleasure they receive from it, was intriguing. I pitched the idea to Early and I’m grateful he got it and trusted my vision for his song.”
Cherie and Renno are an emerging Tel Aviv, Israel-based indie rock act founded by its core duo Ran Shem Tov (vocals, viola) and Shiri Hadar (vocals, keys, bass), with Guy Ben Ami (drums). Interestingly, the rising Israeli act can trace its origins to when its core duo of Shem Tov and Hadar were members of acclaimed act Izabo — but with material centered around a wooden, electronic multi-synth viola that has been built from collected vintage parts.
“Be My Baby,” the Israeli act’s latest single is a strutting and self-assured track that possesses elements of indie rock, the blues and rockabilly paired with anthemic hooks — and the end result is a mischievously anachronistic sound that’s one part Odelay-era Beck, one part Sun Records, one 60s psych rock and 60s pop. Co-directed by Nissim Farin Shtamper, Lioh Sadeh and Eliran Peled, the recently released video for “Be My Baby” is fittingly anachronistic visual: shot in an old-timey black and white, the video features stock footage of stock footage of a 60s dance show split with footage of the members of the band performing the song and some low-budget, Twilight Zone-like imagery.
The members of Cherie and Renno have developed a reputation for their award-winning music production company, The Sound Makers Productions, which specializes in original compositions and scores for film, TV and commercials. They recently wrote the soundtrack for Uri Zohar Returns, a documentary on one of Israel’s biggest cultural figures, including “Summer Smile” based on the film’s theme song.
Formed last year, Activity is a New York-based avant/experimental act featuring Grooms’ Travis Johnson (vocals, sampler) and Steve Levine (drums), Field Mouse’s Zoe Browne (bass) and Russian Baths’ Jess Rees that discard the more weary connotations of indie rock through a natural, minimalist and intelligent use of modern implements paired with organic instrumentation.
Their Jeff Berner-produced full-length debut Unmask Whoever is slated for a March 27, 2020 release through Western Vinyl. The forthcoming album’s material reportedly sees its creators’ abilities gel with one another to reach new levels of interplay and fruitful cooperation while sonically forming a menacing and uneasy framework to touch upon lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws and the broader human capacity for growth when an ugly truth is laid bare. The album’s first single “Calls Your Name” is centered around an atmospheric, uneasy and menacing Geoff Barrow-like production featuring woozy and shimmering synth arpeggios, and a relentless stuttering beat paired with half-song half-spoken lyrics inspired by C.S. Lewis’ 1945 novel The Great Divorce. In the novel, characters stuck in a grey, joyless conception of hell repeatedly deny opportunities to be taken into heaven, instead making excuses as to why they should remain in their embittered purgatory states.
The recently released video captures this seemingly unending sensation of unease as it captures the band members in what seems to be their own personal purgatory.
Best known as the founding member, frontman and creative mastermind behind JOVM mainstays The Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers, Greg Dulli has a well-established reputation as a poet laureate of the bizarre whims and cruel tangents of desire and all things dark and brooding.
Although Dulli has been involved in a number of projects during his 30+ year recording career, his first solo full-length album under his own name Random Desire is slated for a February 21, 2020 release through Royal Cream/BMG. Random Desire can trace its origins to the aftermath of The Afghan Whigs’ most recent album, 2017’s critically applauded In Spades: Patrick Keeler was about to take a short sabbatical from the band to record and tour with his other band, The Raconteurs. Dulli’s longtime collaborator and bandmate John Curley went back to school. And the band’s longtime guitarist Dave Rosser tragically died after a battle with colon cancer.
So Dulli returned to his teenaged bedroom roots, finding inspiration through the model of legendary, one-man, multi-instrumentalist band visionaries like Prince and Todd Rundgren with the Hamilton, OH-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter writing and playing almost every part of the album — from piano and bass lines to drums. Much like he’s always done throughout his career, the music came first and the lyrics completed later. Written and recorded in several different locations including Dulli’s Silver Lake home; Crestline, CA, in the mountains above San Bernardino; and New Orleans — with the bulk of the album being done at Christopher Thorne’s Joshua Tree, CA-based studio. While Dulli handled most of the album’s instrumental duties, he managed to collaborate with an all-star cast of musicians including his Afghan Whigs bandmates Jon Skibic (guitar) and multi-instrumentalist Rick G. Nelson, his Twilight Singers bandmate Mathias Schneeberger, Dr. Stephen Patt (pedal steel and upright bass) and Queens of the Stone Age‘s and The Mars Volta‘s Jon Theodore (drums).
“Pantomina,” Random Desire‘s swaggering and self-assured first single is centered around layers of buzzing power chords, a handclap-led hook and lyrics that alternate between sardonic, desperately lonely, and triumphant — often within a turn of a phrase. Much like his acclaimed work with The Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers, the new single delves into the psyche and emotions of a deeply fucked up, dysfunctional narrator with fucked up, dysfunctional relationships — but there’s also a hard fought, world-weary wisdom at its core.
Directed by longtime Afghan Whigs visual collaborator Philip Harder, who stars as Bob Fosse, along with dancers, Paula Vasquez Alzate, Desare Cox, Elayana Waxse, Maggie Zepp, LaTanya Cannaday, Karen Yang, Mia Bird and Reyona Elkins, the recently released and gorgeously shot video for “Pantomina” captures the life behind-the-scenes and on-stage with an intimacy and familiarity of performer, before going to the frenetically shot performance and the collapse, then death of its hard-living, harder working choreographer protagonist. As Greg Dulli says in press notes. the video “is a homage to the movie All That Jazz. ‘Pantomina’ feels like a show tune to me.”
With the release of 2018’s full-length debut Youth Hunt, the Dokkum, The Netherlands-based trio The Homesick — Jaap van der Velde, Erik Woudwijk and Elias Elgersma — were quickly typecast as being resident tricksters, shrewdly courting spirituality under their own nonconformist whims. For outsiders, it was hard to tell whether the band was being ironic and taking the piss out of things — or genuinely unraveling themselves as starry-eyed romantics. Interestingly, even the album’s production values were quixotic and highly unusual: Elgersma and Van der Velde’s vocals were drenched in reverb and paired with warped synths and distorted guitars within hook-driven guitar pop.
Slated for a February 7, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, the Dutch trio’s forthcoming sophomore album The Big Exercise derives its title from a passage in acclaimed singer/songwriter Scott Walker’s biography Deep Shade Of Blue, the album reportedly is a concentrated effort by the trio to explore the physicality of their music in fresh ways. “When we were on tour in 2018, I bought Meredith Monk’s Dolmen Music in Switzerland,” Van der Velde says in press notes. “Elias and I have been completely immersed in her music ever since. But also the work of Joan La Barbara for example, who also did things with extended vocal techniques, that was also quite vital to us. We discovered that the human voice offers so many beautiful elements that can still feel very physical and intrusive.”
“That’s also a phenomenal aspect of the position we’re now in as a band,” Van der Velde adds. “I consider The Homesick a pop band first and foremost. If you’d introduce a late-era Scott Walker-record to a layman, it would likely fall on flat ears. But put it in the right scene of a good movie, and that person may finally understand its potential. The Homesick is allowed to play around in that pop framework, and the goal is to explore what’s possible within it. You can do super radical and weird things, and at the same time convey it all as straightforward pop music. With this album, I hope people will hear things anew after multiple listens.”
Additionally, the album finds the members of The Homesick second-guessing their long-held core chemistry as a live unit, adding baroque instrumentation like piano, acoustic guitar, percussion and clarinet to angular post-punk arrangements. “It’s the opposite of trying to translate recorded music to the stage,” the band’s Elias Elgersma says in press notes. “We were already playing these songs live for quite some time, so for this album, we wanted to unlock the potential of these songs further in the studio.”
Youth Hunt thematically touched upon a quest for belonging, roots and provenance; however, The Homesick’s sophomore album is centered around a headstrong wanderlust, which is fitting for a small-town Dutch band, anxious to take over the world while featuring meditations on family ties, alternate realities and commonplace encounters. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Male Bonding” is a galloping genre-defying track that possesses elements of angular, Gang of Four-like post-punk, 90s grunge, Devo-like New Wave and hints of psych folk placed within an expansive, breakneck arrangement that’s wildly eccentric yet mosh pit friendly.
Directed by Karlos Rene Ayala and featuring work by Skinner Illustration andMatt Brown 3D Animations, the recently released video is surreal sort of a Dada-esque nightmare that pulsates with the song’s chugging, motorik-like groove.
Led by its Brazilian-born founder Lau Ro (vocals, guitar), who spent time living in Italy and England, along with Isobel Jones (vocals, flute) and Toma Sapir (drums), the Brighton, UK-based psych rock act Wax Machine draws heavily from its founder’s international’s upbringing. With a handful of EPs under their collective belts, the band has developed a reputation for drawing from a number of disparate genres and styles. The Brighton-based act’s forthcoming Go Kurosawa-produced album Earthsong of Silence will further cement the Brighton-based act’s growing reputation for a genre-defying, anachronistic sound, as the album reportedly finds the band incorporating elements of spiritual jazz, krautrock. tropicalia and library music filtered through a psychedelic lens.
Slated for a March 20, 2020 release through Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records, Earthsong of Silence continues where “Mind Palace,” off their last EP, Mind Palace left them — exploring English psych folk but while also touching upon the sunny tranquility of West Coast psych. As the band’s Lau Ro says in press notes, the album thematically “is an exploration into paradoxes, meditation and magic, predicated on the underlying idea of becoming one with nature and in harmony with the environment.”
“Shade” Earthsong of Silence’s latest single is a lysergic and seamless synthesis of Nick Drake-like folk, Haight-Ashbury-era grooves and vibes, Brazilian tropicalia-like breeziness and free-flowing jazz-tinged improvisation that manages to sound decidedly anachronistic — as though it could have been released sometime between 1967-1969 or so. The song — to me, at least — manages to evoke an easygoing summer afternoon, observing nature under the influence of hallucinogens.
The recently released animated video for “Shade” is fittingly mind-altering: in the background the viewer will see leaves fluttering in the wind, the rippling of water. But superimposed over that are gorgeous line animations of the band performing the song, with equally hallucinogenic imagery.
Back in 2018, I spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based indie rock/post punk trio Moaning. Comprised of Sean Solomon (vocals, guitar), Pascal Stevenson (keys, bass) and Andrew MacKelvie (drums), the members of Moaning have been friends and collaborators in Los Angeles’ DIY scene for the better part of a decade through music and other creative pursuits in different media — Solomon is also a noted illustrator, art director and animator while Stevenson and MacKelvie have played in or produced and engineered acclaimed and rapidly rising acts like Cherry Glazerr, Sasami and Surf Curse.
With the release of 2018’s self-titled full-length debut, the Los Angeles-based trio received attention from a number of nationally and internationally known media outlets including The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine,Stereogum, and others for a moody and angular post-punk sound that seemed to recall Joy Division, Interpol and Preoccupations. Building upon the success of their self-titled debut, the trio’s long-awaited sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is slated for a March 20. 2020 release through Sub Pop Records. Interestingly, Moaning’s Alex Newport-produced and engineered sophomore album is a more collaborative effort that finds the members of the band brightening the claustrophobic and uneasy sound that first won them attention — mainly through trading guitars for synths and beats. Thematically, the album focuses on the everyday anxieties of being a somewhat function human in the madness that’s this current century — with the material touching upon the personal and universal. “We’ve known each other forever and we’re really comfortable trying to express where we’re at. A lot of bands aren’t so close,” the band’s Andrew MacKelvie says in press notes. Sean Solomon, who celebrated a year of sobriety during the Uneasy Laughter sessions adds “Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they’re wrong. But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I’ve made.”
Uneasy Laughter’s first single, the brooding “Ego” will further cement the trio’s long-held reputation for crafting moody material — and while featuring guitars during a blistering solo, the song is primarily centered around shimmering synths and a soaring hook. Although “Ego” finds the band’s sound boldly moving in the direction of say, 80s New Order, the song thematically finds its narrator desperately taking stock of himself and his relationships to others with an unflinching honesty. Interestingly, the initial demo was slower and was written in what the band’s Stevenson calls “a strange time signature,” which at the time stymied Solomon’s attempt to write vocal melodies. Borrowing a MacKelvie drumbeat from a demo of a different song, Stevenson found that it fit his original song perfectly. The track was fleshed out further in practices and through passing demos back and forth, with the result “perfectly capturing every idea we wanted to play with,” says MacKelvie. “I don’t think we would have been able to approach writing a song that way before,” adds Stevenson. “We purposely avoided the impulse to add guitars to everything, letting the melodies of the synth and vocals be the focus. We wanted to embrace the songs ability to slip between genre lines.
“The lyrics are about letting go of your own bullshit to help other people. Wanting to love yourself to love others. The ego can make you feel like you’re the greatest person in the world or the worst.” stated vocalist Sean Solomon. It makes you think your problems are abnormally different which is isolating and rarely true. The song is a reminder that listening to other perspectives is important and beneficial to both parties involved.”
Directed by Ambar Navarro, the recently released video for “Ego” features the members of the band in a variety of different costumes — but at its core, the video’s protagonist takes stock of himself, his life and how he relates to others.
Initially starting his music career under a deliberate and international cloak of mystery Kidepo, the Ugandan-born singer/songwriter Jonah Mutono stepped out into the spotlight under his own name with the release of his debut single “Shoulders,” an achingly intimate pop song that was one part diary entry of the painfully lonely and one part yearning daydream about suddenly stumbling upon long-lasting love that reminded me — a little bit– of Jef Barbara‘s “Song for the Loveshy” and Avalon-era Roxy Music.
Mutono begins the new year with the Lil Silva and Al Carlson co-produced “Circulation.” Centered around Mutono’s achingly tender vocals, skittering beats, chopped up vocal samples, layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths and atmospheric electronics, the song manages to be an anxious confession of love — the sort in which you may not be able to express, discuss or openly admit out of fear of rumor mongering, rejection and of bodily harm by others. And as a result, the song possesses an underlying tension that’s palpably uneasy.
Continuing an ongoing collaboration with director Isaac Eastgate, the recently released video for “Circulation” was filmed in a gorgeous, cinematic black and white in Mutono’s native Uganda. We follow two young men, walking silently through a small village. Interestingly enough, they’re walking completely in tune to the music before suddenly moving like zombies during the song’s hook. But throughout the video, there’s a sense of something deeply unspoken between the two — an intimacy and familiarity that’s expressed through a much more physical dance routine between the two.
“We filmed this video last year in Uganda, near a place that’s very important to me. The piece is about tension – physical and emotional – and in this particular case, political,” Mutono says in press notes. “There is little kindness and space given to queer stories in that corner of the world. It was astounding that we got to be there and capture this. All I can really draw from is my own experience and this is a big part of that story for me.
“Isaac [Eastgate, the director] and I wanted to create a scene that evoked something quite universal – that rudimentary magnetism and connection that we crave. The lyrics I wrote as a physical manifestation of this feeling, but I wanted to contrast the video to where they hardly touch at all.”
Coolum, Australia-based punk trio The Chats — Eamon Sandwith (vocals, bass), Josh Price (guitar, vocals) and Matt Boggis (drums) — can trace its origins back to when its members started the band in their friend’s bong shed back in 2016, when the band’s members were still in high school. 2017 saw the release of their debut EP, Get This In Ya, which the band recorded in four hours. The following year, the band quickly rose to national and international attention with the release of “Smoko” and its accompanying video. Dave Grohl loved the video for “Smoko” so much that he wound up showing it to Josh Homme, who then asked the Aussie punk trio to open for Queens of the Stone Age during their Australian tour that year.
The Chats also won the attention of the legendary Iggy Pop, who asked the band to open for him during his Australian tour last year. (Reportedly, he peppered the band with questions like “What’s a smoko?” and “What’s a dart?”) Adding to a momentous year, the band toured across Australia, the UK and their first Stateside shows — with their Los Angeles show being attended by Home, Grohl and Arctic Monkeys’ frontman Alex Turner. They closed out last year with a return UK tour, selling out London’s O2 Forum.
Understandably, the past couple of years have been a whirlwind for the rapidly rising Aussie punk trio: the band has spent that time balancing touring, writing songs and whenever their gigs took them to Victoria, stopping by engineer Billy Gardner’s Geelong-based studio to recording the material they had written. And as a result, it took the band 18 months to record their highly-anticipated full-length debut High Risk Behaviour, which is slated for a March 27, 2020 release through the band’s own Bargain Bin Records/Cooking Vinyl Australia. “If we’d just done a week and slogged it out we could have had an album before now but we just kept going in there and making newer and better songs so it’s hard to put a stop on it,” the band’s Sandwith says in press notes. “Some of the songs were first-take and we were like, ‘That’s good, whatever’ We’re really not perfectionists.” (Interestingly, although, the band found themselves in the middle of a bidding war between a couple of major labels, they were determined to continue to do everything their own way, steadfastly maintaining the DIY ethos they started with.)
The Aussie punk act’s full-length debut, derives its title from personal experience: the band’s Matt Boggis has routinely been hassled by local police for skating in places he shouldn’t be — and he’d frequently get tickets listening the offense as “High Risk Behaviour.” The album’s 14 songs clock in at a total of 28 minutes with about half of its songs not even reaching the two-minute mark. ““I don’t want to make the songs boring, so I just keep them short and sweet,” Sandwith says of their creative process. “We try not to think about it or complicate it too much. You don’t want to force it or the song’s going to turn out crap.” Reportedly, the end result features material that’s centered around a three-chords-is-probably-one-too-many approach, Sandwith’s partially spoken, partially sung vocals while displaying youthful exuberance and drunken rowdiness. (Yes, in some way, FIDLAR does come to mind — but Aussies are crazier.) “I think they’re good songs,” says Sandwith. “And at the end of the day, if I like it then fuck it, who cares if other people do?”
Clocking in at a little over two minutes, High Risk Behaviour’s latest single “The Clap” is a cretinous bit of punk rock, centered around scuzzy power chords, shouted call and response vocals and a mosh pit friendly hook that makes the band — and in turn, the song — sound indebted to to ’77 era punk, complete with a snotty, zero fucks given air. Featuring the band’s Josh Price taking on vocal duties, the song is a mosh pit friendly ripper that’s partially a cautionary tale about a sexual encounter gone very wrong and a sexually transmitted infection that’s painful and just doesn’t seem to leave.
Directed by Matt Weston, the recently released video for “The Clap” finds the band’s Price heading to the clinic in severe pain. Of course, while trying to get treatment, the doctors are completely disgusted by Price’s condition. But they find the time to treat him — in a way that seems painful, repulsive and absurd. Much like the song itself, the video is fucking hilarious.