Tag: music

New Video: Rising Aussie Electro Pop Artist Alice Ivy Teams Up with Imbi the girl and BOI on a Feminist Anthem

Annika Schmarsel is a Melbourne-based singer/songwriter, electronic music producer and electronic music artist, best known as rising Aussie electro pop sensation Alice Ivy. Schmarsel is the daughter of West German immigrants, who settled in Geelong, Australia in the late 80s — and interestingly enough, the rising Aussie electro pop artist can trace the origins of her music career back to a trip her family took to the ancestral homeland when she was 12: during that trip her grandmother taught her some guitar chords and her uncle taught her how to play Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” 

As a high schooler, Schmarsel was a member of a 25 member soul big band and a musical project by the name of The Sweethearts. In 2014, Schmarsel relocated to Melbourne to study for a music industry degre, and was introduced to the music software, Ableton. She also learnt about influential electronic producers. including J. Dilla. 

In early 2015, Schmarsel released her debut single as Alice Ivy, “Charlie.” And over the next handful of months, Schmarsel released a handful of attention-grabbing singles, the which helped Geelong-born, Melbourne-based singer/songwriter, electronic music producer and electronic music artist win 2016’s Triple J Unearthed’s Listen Out competition. Building upon a growing national profile, Scharmsel release her full-length debut I’m Dreaming to critical applause in her native Australia and elsewhere. 

Schmarsel’s highly-anticipated Alice Ivy sophomore effort, Don’t Sleep is slated for a July 17, 2020 release through Last Gang Entertainment, and the album finds the rising Aussie producer cementing a reputation for simultaneously being a producer and tastemaker, who has proven to be equally adept at uncovering new dimensions to the sound and approach of established, household names and for helping to break new talent — in particular, female and non-binary producers and pop artists. The album finds her collaborating with a who’s who of up-and-coming Aussie talent, including Thelma Plum, Ecca Vandal, Ngaiire, Safia’s Benjamin Joseph, Odette, Bertie Blackman and Imbi the girl among others. 

Interestingly, Don’t Sleep’s second and latest single, is the swaggering album title track “Don’t Sleep,” which finds Scharmsel teaming up with Imbi the girl and BOI. Sonically, the track is a perfect taste of what the listener should expect from the album: a slick synthesis of dub, trap and alt pop, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, atmospheric electronics, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, reggae riddims, a soaring hook, tons of irie vibes and a decidedly feminist, girls and non-binary people to the front spirit.

“‘Don’t Sleep’ is one of those songs that came out of nowhere! Imbi, Boi and I were in the studio on the last day of a songwriting camp (shoutout Ricochet!) and at the start of the session we were all feeling pretty burnt out,” Alice Ivy explains. “But something special happened between us and I think it had a lot to do with how inspired we were feeling after a week at an all-female/non-binary camp. We came up with a super powerful song and it’s definitely one of my favourite collabs I’ve ever been a part of. The lyric, ‘Our bodies are ours so keep your hands away’  hits me every time I hear it.”

Directed by May Tusler, the recently released video for “Don’t Sleep” follows Schmarsel, Imbi and BOI dancing and rocking out to the song, while a collective of young Junior Motocross riders race and tear shit up. “It’s an empowering song… so obviously I had to recruit a bunch of junior motocross riders to tear it up in the video!” Schmarsel explains. 

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New Video: Seattle Punks, The Unfit Release a Furious Ripper

Formed back in 2012, the Seattle-based punk act The Unfit — longtime friends and grizzled Seattle scene veterans Jake Knuth, Michael Lee, T.J. Johnson and Tyler Johnson — have a history of sporadic recording sessions and scattered postings of tracks online. After almost a decade together, the members of the Seattle-based quartet will be releasing their self-titled, full-length debut on June 5, 2020 through Share It Music. 

Drawing from 80s and 90s punk, grunge and indie rock, The Unfit’s sound is forceful, loud as hell, at times sludgy and at times hardcore punk-leaning. Thematically, their full-length debut focuses on finding meaning, belonging and honesty in a bleak and unrelenting hellscape where those things are harder to find — and figuring out a way to cope with the lack thereof. Underlying the material is the sentiment that in our world, the survival of the fittest is titled towards those with the greatest capacity for dishonesty, shamelessness and zealous self-interest, one can perhaps take pride and finding belonging in being one of the proverbial unfit. 

Clocking in at a little over two minutes, the self-titled album’s first single, album opening track “Caged Rats and Hamster Wheels” is a feral and furious ripper, built around enormous power chords, thunderous drumming, a propulsive bass line, mosh pit friendly hooks and howled vocals that’s fueled by the desperate urgency of our moment. At it’s core is an incisive criticism of not just the capitalist rat race but of us that’s centered around the album’s central idea: the world is a bleak and uncertain hellscape of festering bullshit, greed and selfishness — and that bullshit, dishonesty, greed an selfishness may get us all killed. Worse yet, is deep down we all know this, even if we can’t immediately accept it. 

Directed by Ryan Taggart and the members of The Unfit, the recently released video for “Caged Rats and Hamster Wheels” is split between gorgeously shot and intimate footage of the band performing the song in a studio, which makes you feel as though you’re in the room — and stock footage of scientific experiments on lab rats. The rats gradually placed in situations in which the competition for food and survival is at its most primal and vicious. 

New Video: Vancouver’s SPECTRES Return with an Anthemic and Nostalgic Take on Post Punk

Over the past few months, I’ve written quite a bit about the Vancouver-based post-punk act SPECTRES. Since its formation back in 2005 by frontman Brian Gustavson, the band has been widely cited as being one of the acts responsible for kicking off Canada’s rented interest in the post-punk sound. Initially, inspired by the British anarcho-punk scene of the late 70s and early 80s, the Vancouver-based post punk outfit meshed that scene’s ethos with punk stylings and an unerring knack for crating hook-driven and anthemic material. Interestingly, over the past few years of their existence, the band’s sound as gradually evolved, as they increasingly incorporated elements of New Wave and punk. 

“The band started as a way to creatively explore 1980s British anarcho-punk and while creatively we have drifted in new directions, this core influence still holds a lot of inspiration for us,” the band’s Zach Batalden  (guitar) says in press notes. Bands like The Mob, Crisis, Crass and Zounds are all still very important for us. From there we took a deep interest in ’80s post-punk and new wave with bands like The Sound, The Chameleons, Theatre of Hate and Modern English, central to the way our sound has developed.”

Now, as you may recall, the Vancouver-based post-punk act’s Jason Corbett-produced album Nostalgia was released last month through Artoffact Records, and the album thematically touches upon the alienation of modern life and the search for hope in an increasingly terrifying world. “Deepening political partisanship, aging, and finding one’s own way through alienating times are common themes the on the Nostalgia LP,” says Batalden. Sonically, the material fnds the band continuing their ongoing exploration of a decidedly post-punk like sound with Gustavon’s plaintive and melodic vocals ethereally floating over chiming guitars and propulsive beats. “For the new album, Nostalgia, we were listening to a lot of Flying Nun bands like The Bats, The Verlaines and The Clean as well,” Batalden adds.

Last month, I wrote about album single “Years of Lead,” a decidedly New Order-like track centered around shimmering and jangling bursts of angular guitars, four-on-the-floor drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. Continuing a run of anthemic post-punk, the album’s latest single “When Possessed Pray” manages to sound as though it were a uncannily slick synthesis of Joy Division and early Echo and the Bunnymen, complete with rousingly anthemic hooks and deceptively anachronistic production that pulls the song’s aching nostalgia to the forefront.

The recently released video features glitchy and stuttering black and white footage of the band in their hometown and performing the song in a suburban looking house. And although they be cooler than you, there’s this sense that their band could very well have been the band you tried to start in high school.  

New Video: Charlotte’s The Mystery Plan’s Hallucinogenic and Shoegazer-like Tribute to Actor JC Quinn

In the decade since their formation, the Charlotte, NC-based indie act The Mystery Plan — Jason Herring, Amy Herring, Jeff Chester, Otis Hughes and Patty McLaughlin — have managed to be incredibly productive, releasing 10 EPs and full-length albums, including their John Fryer co-proded fourth album, 2017’s Queensland Ballroom, which featured “Electric Love.” 

The Charlotte-based quintet’s  recently released fifth album, the John Fryer and Jason Herring co-produced Zsa Zsa continues a remarkable and enviable run of prolificacy — and finds the band renewing their successive collaboration with Fryer. Recorded at Catalyst Recording and various local studios over a two-plus year stretch following a number of Southeastern US torus to promote Queensland Ballroom. Featuring guest spots from The Veldt’s and Apollo Heights’ Micah Guagh, Ian Masters, That Guy Smitty and Snap Nation, Zsa Zsa finds the band expanding upon the psych folk-leaning sound that has won them fans across the Southeast, with the material touching upon several different styles, including shoegaze, ambient, trip hop and electronica — sometimes simultaneously in a way that sounds as though the band were drawing influence from Portishead,Zero 7, and early 4AD Records. 

Zsa Zsa’s latest single “JC Quinn” is an shoegazer-like fever dream of song, centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar, propulsive drumming, twinkling synth arpeggios, ethereal vocals and an infectious hook — and while this particular single sounds as though it could have been released during 4AD Records’ golden era. 

The band’s Jason Herring explains in press notes, JC Quinn was a New York-based actor with a tons of film and television credits including Barfly, The Abyss, Visionquest and a lengthy list of others. In the late ’90s, Quinn moved to the Charlotte area to be closer to his grandchildren. And as the story goes, Herring met Quinn at a local bar Cafe 521, which was owned by Quinn’s longtime friend Peter Herrero, who like the actor had relocated to Charlotte. Interestingly, the bar became the go-to spot for actors whenever they were in town including Leonardo DiCaprio, Bernadette Peters and a list of others. 

“JC and I struck up a nice friendship. He was a fan of ours and would come to hosts and stand right up front so we could see him,” Herring fondly recalls. “A very lovely man, indeed. Sadly, JC died in Mexico while shooting a film a few years ago. I’ve always wanted to pay tribute to him, and we have finally done so with his song. The lyrics are a blend of what we would do with him now if he were still here and iconic lines from some of his films.” 

Shot by the band’s Jason Herring and edited by Jay Thomas, the recently released video for “JC Quinn” follows the members of the Charlotte-based indie act on a hallucinogenic night out in Charlotte that includes hanging out at a local bar, catching live music, listening to albums and all the things that the band wishes they could do with their dear friend. 

A Q&A with Holy Boy’s Helene Alexandra Jæger

Helene Alexandra Jæger is a Norwegian-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind the rising recording project Holy Boy. Recorded at Ben Hillier’s London-based Pool Studios, Jæger’s 2017 Holy Boy self-titled debut was released to widespread critical acclaim with EP single “The Blood Moon” receiving airplay on BBC Radio 1 while establishing her sound – a sound that takes cues from The Velvet Underground and Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden, Suicide, the dark side of the 60s, vintage girl bands and West Coast hip-hop and she has dubbed “neon gothic.” Thematically, the Norwegian-born, Los Angeles-based artist’s work focuses on “explorations in consciousness,” she explains in press notes.

Building upon a growing profile, Jæger performed sets at that year’s CMJ, NXNE and SXSW. She followed that up with the critically applauded single “Elegy,” which The Line of Best Fit described as being “at once eclectic and utterly immersive; smoky and classic, yet simultaneously futuristic.”

Much like the countless emerging artists I’ve covered on this site over the past decade, Jæger began the year with big plans to boost her profile and her career that included booked sets at this year’s SXSW, which would have corresponded with the release of the first single off her forthcoming 11 song, full-length debut, which is slated for release this summer. Of course, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, SXSW was cancelled while countless other festivals, tours and shows were postponed until later this year. Interestingly, the album’s first single was released last month – and it turns out to be an eerily fitting and timely cover of The Doors’ classic “Riders On The Storm.” Centered around layers of shimmering organs, including Hammond, Rhodes, Optigan and Vox Continental, vintage 70s drum machines and 80s Casio synths, along with Jæger’s dusky vocals drenched in gentle reverb, delay and other ethereal effects, the Norwegian-born, Los Angeles-based artist’s haunting and cinematic rendition retains the somber and brooding tone of the original while adding  that seemingly unending sense of dread and uncertainty that we’ve all felt in our lives over the past month or so.

The accompanying video is fittingly creepy and yet highly symbolic: it features a lo-fi, computer generated skeleton in space, walking up a never-ending staircase.

I recently exchanged emails with Jæger for this Q&A. Current events have impacted all of us – and they’ve found a way to bleed into our personal and professional lives in ways that will likely reverberate for some time to come. Because she had plans to play at SXSW until it was canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we chat briefly about how the pandemic has impacted her and her career. But the bulk of our conversation, we chat about her attention- grabbing cover of The Doors’ classic tune, and what we should expect from her forthcoming debut. Check it out below.

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WRH: Most parts of the country are enacting social distancing guidelines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in New York, we’ve been social distancing and in-quarantine for the better part of three weeks. It’s been tough – but it’s for the greater good. How are you holding up?

Helene Alexandra Jæger: I love New York, and it’s crazy what’s happening right now. I hope it turns around and that we all learn something from this that can save lives in the future and now. Here in L.A., we’ve been at home for three or four weeks — I can’t even remember — and most things have been shut since then. It’s been strict, but I’m grateful for that – better safe than sorry in this type of a situation.

I’m lucky as an introvert, I’m quite comfortable spending time on my own reading, exploring info online, creating and listening to music.

WRH: You were about to release new material at around the time that SXSW had to cancel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career at the moment? 

HAJ: The cancellation came so suddenly; the whole festival was shut down less than a week before I was headed there to showcase my album live for the first time. I feel the cancellation of SXSW was a turnaround, for the first time people started to realize how serious this outbreak might get…

Until that, most people I heard from thought the danger was exaggerated, and so I’m really glad the city of Austin made a firm decision, because I don’t know what the situation would have been like if 60,000 people had gathered for SXSW as planned, just a few weeks back.

Since this outbreak, I’ve been trying to manage the “Riders On The Storm” release that was too late to cancel — and somehow turned out to be more poignant right now than I’d ever expected.

I was planning to release my debut album this spring, was working on music video plans, and had live shows in the pipeline around the release, but that’s all on ice now. The good thing is, I get to create more and spend time making more music. I also have a poetry collection I’ve been working on for a while, and it’s given me time to focus on that and prepare for that release.


WRH: How would you describe your sound, for those unfamiliar to you and Holy Boy’s sound?

HAJ: This is always tricky. I feel like it’s a world where it’s dark, but there are neon lights on, and you can see the stars and the moon. There’s a dreamy quality to it, but it can also get gritty and sensual. I sometimes think of it as Moon in Scorpio, 5th house, that’s my placement. It’s a dark and deep place where there’s sometimes a feeling of being closer to space than earth. Musically, I call it Neon Gothic or LA noir, organ rock.


WRH: Who are your influences?

HAJ: I love all kinds of music, but for this coming album, I’ve been immersing myself in what felt like it resonated with the emotions in those songs. Songs like “No Quarter” by Led Zeppelin, David Bowie’s Blackstar album, “Nikes” by Frank Ocean, Suicide and songs by The Shangri-La’s, Johnny Jewel’s work . . .

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

HAJ: I’m really enjoying the Spotify Discover Weekly playlist where the algorithm presents you with music it thinks you’ll like, and I’ve been going on a deep dive based on doing research for a TV idea I’ve been working on… A beautiful and uplifting raw song I think everyone could benefit from right now is an old gospel type recording “Like A Ship” by Pastor T.L. Barrett and The Youth for Christ Choir… I think it’s a really inspiring song for this time.

I’ve also been listening to demos and outtakes from Bob Dylan’s “Blonde On Blonde” sessions and it’s been such a revelation to hear how incredibly different the other takes were… To see how fluid his process was, that a song like “Like A Rolling Stone” ended up the way we know it, when the other takes were so different… There’s a real magic to it. Like listening into an alternate reality.

WRH: You recently released an eerie and ominous cover of The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm.” I think if Jim Morrison was alive today, he would have really dug what you did with the song. What drew you to the song? Have the living members of The Doors heard the song? If they did, what did they think of it?

HAJ: That means a lot to me, thank you so much. I know he had an interest in the worlds beyond and the nature of life and death, which I personally resonate with, so it was a great experience to channel one of his/their songs . . .

One of the reasons I was drawn to making a cover of “Riders On The Storm”, besides being a huge fan of The Doors, is it feels like a seeker’s song, and it felt like a kindred spirit to the way I look at the world. A sense of not quite being at home and not quite belonging on earth.

From what I know, they haven’t heard it, but I really hope they would enjoy my version. I hope they are all safe and well, all four of them in this world and the other.

WRH: The recent video for “Riders on the Storm” features a computer-animated skeleton in space, walking up an infinite staircase. It’s fittingly ominous and as eerie. How did you come about this treatment – and what is it supposed to represent?

HAJ: When I saw Andrei/@dualvoidanimafff’s lofi retro futuristic animations online, I knew I wanted to work on something with him. For “Riders On The Storm”, I just saw this idea of a skeleton walking up a never-ending staircase in space… Like man’s ascension, our eternal human quest to become more or to rise out of the limitations of physical life, to reach this idea of heaven or perfection… It felt to me like a logical depiction of the song’s theme, “Riders On The Storm”… The impossibility of our pursuit, but also the beauty – that throughout history we’ve never stopped trying.

WRH: You have an album slated for a late August release. What should we expect from the album?

HAJ: My version of “Riders On The Storm” is definitely in the same world that the record takes place in. An otherworldly atmosphere built around Hammond/Rhodes/Optigan organs, Vox Continentals, vintage 70s drum machines and obscure 80s Casio synths. It’s definitely a nighttime record, it’s happening in the dark, songs that I hope can be cathartic in a time like this and what most likely lies ahead.

New Video: Acclaimed Norwegian Singer-Songwriter Ane Brun Releases a Gorgeous and Cinematic New Single

Over the past 15 years, the acclaimed Norwegian-born, Stockholm-based singer/songwriter Ane Brun has released 12 albums of gorgeous and cinematic folk and art pop through her own label Balloon Ranger Recordings that have included 2005’s sophomore album, A Temporary Dive, which led to a Norwegian Grammy Award win for Best Female Artist; 2008’s critically applauded Changing of the Seasons, which was praised by The New York Times; 2015’s When I’m Free, which NPR’s All Things Considered called “best record yet . . . her most sonically ambitious . . .;” and 2017’s Leave Me Breathless, a collection of covers and reinterpretations of hits by Radiohead, Joni Mitchell, Nick Cave, Bob Dylan, and others.

Brun’s forthcoming (and still untitled) full-length album is slated or a fall release through her own label, and the album’s latest single, the self-recorded and edited “Trust” is a hauntingly gorgeous and cinematic track centered around an atmospheric arrangement of strummed acoustic guitar, shimmering synths and Brun’s gorgeously expressive and plaintive vocals. “It’s a song about letting go of all doubt and just letting yourself fall into the hands of fate, and trust that it’s all going to be alright,” Brun explains in press notes. “It was first written as a romantic song, but as we’re in this state of uncertainty around the planet, I feel it has gained more meaning.” 

Before the single’s official release, Brun invited fans from around the world to join in for a pre-listening party and online chat. “Many of the people who participated were alone in their homes or with their cat or dog, a partner or their family. Some were in quarantine because they were infected with the coronavirus or because they work in healthcare,” Brun says. “What we had in common was that we were all affected by this difficult situation, and most of us were isolating from the outside world. We also felt a need to trust and meet other people. It was magical to come together like this.” The recently released video will resonate will many of us, who have been isolated and feeling alone and desperately wanting to be in touch with another person.

New Video: Deathlist Releases a Brooding Visual for Murky Album Single “You Won’t Be Here For Long”

Jenny Logan is a Portland, OR-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who has spent the past few years being very busy as a member of grunge pop trio Loveboys, post-punk act Miss Rayon, guitar pop act Sunbathe, and her solo recording project Deathlist. With her Deathlist, Logan has released a handful of material including 2017’s S/T debut, 2018’s attention-grabbing Fun. and last year’s A Canyon and Loved, which have helped established her sound — a sound that’s influenced by New Order, Suicide and The Jesus and Mary Chain. 

Logan’s fifth Deathlist album You Won’t Be Here for Long is slated for a May 29, 2020 release. Recorded and mixed by Victor Nash at Destination: Universe, the forthcoming album thematically explores loss, grief, survival and love. You Won’t Be Here for Long’s latest single, album title track “You Won’t Be Here For Long” is a slow-burning and murky dirge centered around droning synths, a sinuous bass line, Logan’s husky vocals and tweeter and woofer rocking beats. And while clearly being indebted to the pulsating minimalism of Suicide, the song as Logan explained to New Noise Magazine “is about the temporariness of everything and how stranger it is what we still exist at all.” Considering how dire everything in our world is at the moment, the song’s overall theme seems both prescient and fitting. 

Shot in Red Rock Canyon, outside of Las Vegas, the video is split between black and white home video recorder footage of Lewis hiking and wandering in the desert, and footage of her lying down in a bed of flowers. It emphasizes the eeriness of the song — while illustrating our smallness and fragility within a larger, indifferent universe. 

New Video: Acclaimed Norwegian Emcee Ivan Ave Teams Up with Joyce Wrice on a Soulful and Hilarious New Single

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about Eivind Øygarden, an acclaimed Telemark, Norway-born, Oslo-Norway-based emcee, best known as Ivan Ave. Øygarden, who grew up in an area surrounded by rugged, majestic mountains, best known for its hiking and hiking literature and for its folk music heritage is a rather unusual figure: a Norwegian-born and-based emcee, who rhymes in English. But despite that, he’s made a mark on the global, underground hip-hop scene. Interestingly, the acclaimed Norwegian emcee can trace much of his influences to his older sister’s R&B collection — in particular, The Fugees, Janet Jackson and Raphael Saadiq.

As a teenager Øygarden and his family relocated to Stavanger, where he gravitated to the city’s prominent hip-hop, breakdance, DJ and graffiti scene. Øygarden took all of those early influences with him when he relocated to New York for a self-imposed residency, in which, he spent time hanging out and collecting records A-1 Records. And through his love of hip-hop, the Norwegian emcee discovered 70s jazz and soul — and sampling as a way to create his own music and sound. 

When Øygarden returned to Oslo, he met his earliest collaborator Fredfades. The duo then founded Mutual Intentions, a collective of like-minded friends and a label that became a platform that hadn’t previously existed in Oslo — and it led to work with international producers. In 2014, Ivan Ave signed to Berlin-based Jakarta Records, who released his acclaimed debut, 2016’s Helping Hands and his sophomore album, 2017’s Every Eye.  

Now, as you may recall the Norwegian emcee’s third full-length Double Goodbyes is slated for an April 24, 2020 release through Playground Music/Mutual Intentions. And the album, which derives its title from a Seinfeld reference, finds the acclaimed emcee leaving the sample-heavy behind sound of his previously released work and moving towards a broader — and at times more soul influenced — sonic palette. The album also marks the first time that Øygarden took up production duties, producing the majority of the album’s material himself. 

Recorded last year in Los Angeles and Oslo, and featuring guest spots from Sasac, Bryon The Aquarius, Joyce Wright and others, the album was recorded during a period of personal struggle, where the work became both the focus and the therapy. “I needed to start from scratch in my life and rebuild it step by step, the music was part of the healing process.” Additionally, the aesthetics of the Home Shopping Network and late ’80s and early ’90s new age influence some of the album’s material. ‘“It’s easy to mock, due to some of its pompous cheesiness”says Ivan.“But as I’m getting older, experiencing life’s ups & downs, the essence of it feels genuine.” (In some way, it shouldn’t be surprising that Ali Shaheed Muhammad once described the acclaimed Norwegian emcee’s work as “deeply therapeutic” on his podcast.)

“Double Goodbyes is a product of just making music that moved me, in a phase of my life where I was building from scratch emotionally,” the acclaimed Norwegian emcee explains in press notes. “I found healing in producing and singing these songs, without necessarily putting my usual rappety-rap hat on. But as the album title suggests, a lot of times we find ourselves bumping into the exact things, people and habits that we thought we had left behind. So my hip-hop roots shine through once again, in this weird blend of RnB, AOR and synth sounds. Sasac was my main co-creator on the record, along with some dope music friends such as Kiefer, Mndsgn, Byron The Aquarius, Devin Morrison and more.”

So far, I’ve written about the first two singles off the album “Triple Double Love,” and “Phone Won’t Charge,” silky smooth and slick syntheses of 80s and 90s synth-led R&B and J. Dilla-era hip-hop while revealing a wizened, self-awareness with narrators, who have come to recognize that they’ve been unintentionally and unwittingly repeating patterns that have made them miserable — or have led to their lives largely being unfulfilled. Double Goodbye’s third and latest single “Guest List Etiquette” continues a run of shimmering Quiet Storm-like hip-hop. Featuring a soulful hook by Joyce Wrice, the Norwegian emcee tells a story of a romantic meet cute on the bus that turns into a hilarious and surreal tale of the countless people who ask him for guest list spots for his shows. And of course, he can never accommodate all the requests that come his way.

Directed by Ivan Ave himself, the recently released video follows Wrice and Øygarden wandering around Oslo, getting on a bus and heading to the studio to record and rehearse and then head to the show. The entire time, they have all kinds of people hitting them up about guest list spots for their next show — guest list spots they likely don’t have anyway. 

“We spent that weekend walking in parks, hiking, working in the studio, and ignoring the outside world. As you can see from the clip, everybody and their actual mother was trying to get on the list for her show,” Øygarden explains in press notes. “And the list only has so many spots. Plus Norway’s best rapper Mest Seff already had his whole entourage on there. So the struggle was real, trying to live a life while coordinating everybody’s wishes. Daniel Yul Kim filmed us during these trying times. I did all the editing, with some help from Jo Vemund Svendsen, and Mats Christian Rude Halvorsen, who made my video for ‘Nu Path.’ Hans Jørgen Wærner on the typography as per usual! I want to give a shout out to my ex-manager, who you can see at the end of the video basically dropping me as a client. The following weekend, she hit me up with a request to be put on the guest list for another party. So yeah, shout outs to her.”

New Video: Angela Muñoz Celebrates Young Love in Visuals for “In My Mind”

Over the past handful of months, I’ve written quite a bit about  The Midnight Hour, a 10 member ensemble founded and led by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammadand Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, producer and Linear Labs founder. Now, as you may recall, the project prominently features singer/songwriter and guitarist Jack Waterson, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Loren Oden — and , singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and 18 year old Los Angeles-born and-based phenom, Angela Muñoz.

The 10 member ensemble released their self-titled debut in 2018 — and the effort firmly established their sound: jazz and orchestral inspired soul and hip-hop heavily influenced by  David Axelrod, Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Barry White and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr. Since the release of their debut, Muhammad, Younge and the rest of the Linear Labs crew have been extremely busy: last year saw the release of Jack Waterson’s psych rock, solo debut Adrian Younge Presents Jack Waterson, and a lengthy tour that included a Brooklyn Bowl stop last September — and this year will see three releases from the collective and its members: the ensemble’s highly-anticipated sophomore album and solo efforts from Loren Oden and Angela Muñoz.

The young, Los Angeles-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and phenom has a beguiling voice and mature presence that belies her relative youth, who recalls that Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “Welcome to The Jungle” was the catalyst that sparked her desire to play music and become a star. As a girl, she learned to play guitar and piano — and with practice, she began to dominate singing competitions, leaving unexpected audiences in a trance.

Interestingly, a few years ago Muñoz’s brother Brandon introduced her to the Adrian Younge-produced Something About April. Muñoz was intrigued by the quality of the music, and as a result, she found herself thinking about how it would be interesting to create music that encompassed various perspectives — similar to how Younge does so with his analog recordings. Shortly after being introduced to Something About April, the Los Angeles-born and-based phenom serendipitously found herself working with The Midnight Hour, who recorded her song “Bitches Do Voodoo” on their full-length debut. They’ve since took Muñoz on tour, where she’s blown away audiences with her self-assured stage presence, her dexterous musicianship and her soulful vocals.

Earlier this month, I wrote about Muñoz’s neo-soul meets Quiet Storm-like debut single “I Don’t Care,” which featured her remarkably self-assured and effortlessly soulful vocals over an arrangement of twinkling keys and harp, soaring strings, a sinuous bass line, wah wah pedaled guitar and an enormous hook paired with an underlying youthful brashness. “In My Mind” the second single off full-length debut Introspection is a gorgeous and cinematic track centered around a pop standard-like arrangement featuring soaring and fluttering strings, a sinuous bass line, some expressive bursts of guitar, twinkling harp and Muñoz’s expressive vocal. Sonically, the song manages to recall George Gershwinand jazz ballads. From her first two singles, Muñoz is a certifiable star in the making.

“I wrote this song thinking about the journey of love,” Muñoz explains. “Despite my age, I have an awareness of what expressing love looks like. As I was writing this song, I wanted to challenge myself as a songwriter. This led me to imagine myself in the place of George Gershwin. If I could choose anyone to interpret this song it would be Sarah Vaughan. Ultimately, love can manifest itself in many ways.”

Directed by The Midnight Hour’s Adrian Younge and based on a story written by Angela Muñoz captures the swooning idealism and hope of young love in a way that proudly celebrates it. 

Muñoz’s full-length debut Introspection is slated for a May 19, 2020 release through Linear Labs.

New Video: French Emcee Flem Teams Up with Vieux Farka Touré on a Politically Charged Single — and Visual

Flem is a rising French emcee, who has developed a reputation for his fluid flow and conscious themes — and as a result, he has worked with an eclectic array of French artists includes Sages Poètes de la Rue’s DanyDan, Assassin’s DJ Duke, La MC Malcriado’s Izé Bosineau and Aethority’s Mattias Mimoun and a growing list of others. His forthcoming album Nomades, which is slated for an October 2020 release finds the rising French emcee collaborating with acclaimed Malian singer/songwriter Vieux Farka Touré — with the result meshing contemporary hip-hop and traditional African blues. 

Interestingly, the duo’s collaboration and friendship can be traced back over a decade — with Flem and Touré sharing stages at festivals at shows from Paris to Timbuktu. Some time ago, the pair were performing in Niafunké, Mali, a stronghold of the Touré family,. when Flem along with a small group of Westerners were quickly evacuated to Bamako, Mail, narrowly escaping an attack. This particular event managed to strengthen the pair’s friendship and reinforced the need for them to create a new project that was much more urgent, conscious and militant than they had done individually. 

Over the better part of the past decade, Mali has been split apart by a bloody civil war between different warring religious and ethnic factions, undermined by unbalanced international relationships, rampant corruption and terrorism. Nomades touches upon the historical and cultural link between Europe and Africa, the ethnic conflicts that have been used by foreign countries, who have economic interests across the continent, the emigration of African youth for a better way of life anywhere they can, monetary independence, freedom, love and hope and so on. 

Nomades’ first single is a perfect example of the album’s overall sound: Touré’s looping, shimmering and expressive guitar, gently padded percussion and Touré’s lilting voice are paired with an infectious hook and Flem’s fiery lyrics, which touch upon his love of Mali, its food and its people, while praying for an end to war, racism, colonial oppression and more. The song manages to bring the African blues sound to the modern day — while also reminding the listener that hip hop has become the sound and voice of resistance everywhere.

“I went to Mali for the first time in 2003 with my friend Moctar, at his family home. We stayed for a month and a half and travelled from Bamako to Timbuktu,” the rising French emcee writes in a lengthy statement. “This trip inland, which is no longer possible today, changed my life. Abdulaye, Moctar’s cousin, introduced me to Vieux Farka Touré in 2009. The artistic connection was instantaneous and after a jam at his house, Vieux invited me to the prestigious Festival au Desert stage in Essakane, in the north of Mali.

Three years later, while I was recording the arrangements for my debut album Passeport, war in the Sahel broke out at the end of my stay, in January 2012. I was staying at Vieux Farka’s, in the family home in Bamako. It was important for Vieux Farka to show me his village and invite me on stage, this time for a festival in honour of his father. It should be remembered here that the late Ali Farka Touré was first a truck driver, then an internationally renowned artist and Grammy Award winner, but also the mayor of his village: Niafunké. The day after the concert, the intelligence and security services in Mali, who were protecting the area at the time, warned us of an imminent attack on the village. The terrorists had seen on television that a few Westerners were there. They interpreted this presence as a provocation to Sharia law, which was beginning to be imposed in the north of the country. Vieux Farka woke me up in my room and said: ‘You’re leaving right now!; I wanted to go back with him, but it was too dangerous. I was evacuated by the Malian army via the river. He came back as we had come, in a 4×4. The boat trip was magnificent, I had always dreamed of doing it, but the conditions were particular. Later, the rest of the Touré family also left the village to take refuge at Vieux’s house in Bamako.

In October 2015, my first album was released. There was no tour in France, but there was a one-off concert with Vieux Farka Touré at La Boule Noire in Paris. February 2017: the Institut Français (French Institute) and the CCF (French Cultural Center) in Bamako invited me for the start of the literary season, which ended with a concert by Vieux Farka Touré and myself. I went there with the pianist Mattias Mimoun and the harpist Katell Boisneau. We had a lot of fun playing again all together.  I felt more than ready to prepare my second album.

In 2018, after the first night of recording with Ilan Sberro at the St-Ouen Auditorium, Vieux started listening to my lyrics and asked me: “Did you write a song for Mali?” I hadn’t, not intimately, not totally.  Maybe I didn’t feel legitimate to do it. I love this country; I’ve got friends there who I consider to be members of my family. And I’m welcomed there as family. This country has given me a lot of love and has taught me things that can’t be explained. I was born, I grew up and I live in France, but I’ve been going to Mali regularly for 17 years now. Here’s my song Mali on a music by Vieux Farka Touré, accompanied by the superb voice of singer Amy D.

Mali Nébifé, Mali I love you. Flem.”

Directed by Dominique Milherou, the recently released video is split between footage of daily life in Mail from kids riding bikes and kicking around a soccer ball, to women dancing in the streets — to intimately shot footage of Flem, Amy D and Touré in the studio  recording the song and performing the song. When the song hits sociopolitical commentary, we see footage of some of the Western leaders, who have helped to exploit and profit off the region’s people, resources and conflicts.