Tag: music

New Video: Acclaimed Singer/Songwriter Gerald Toto Releases a Cinematic and Symbolic Visual for “Away Alive”

Last year, I wrote about the acclaimed trio of Toto Bona Lokua, comprised of French-Antillean singer/songwriter Gerald Toto, Cameroonian jazz musician Richard Bona and Congolese singer/songwriter Lokua Kanza, and as you might recall, with the release of  2004’s, critically applauded sophomore effort Totobonalokua, the pan-African act received attention across world music circles for a sound and aesthetic that effortlessly blended several different traditions, cultures and languages; in fact, the album was a commercial success in France, despite very little promotion and no touring.

Since the release of Totobonalokua, the members of the trio have pursued a series of diverse solo projects, which kept them incredibly busy. Of course, because of the success of their sophomore album, the individual members of the trio would frequently be asked by fans and the press if they would be reuniting to write and record new material — or if they had any plans to tentatively do so. Although the individual member of the trio’s paths seldom crossed, they managed to stay in touch, and as the story goes Gerald Toto suggested that it might be time to reconvene the trio and try to write new material. Bona and Kanza quickly agreed and while it took some time to synchronize the schedules of three extremely prolific and busy artists, they found time to write and record their third full-length album Bondeko, which was released earlier this year through French record label Nø Førmat. (By the way, the album’s title is derived from the Lingala word for  “friendship” or “fraternity.”)

This year has been a very busy one for Gerald Toto, as he followed the release of Toto Bona Lokua’s third album with his latest solo album Sway, and from the album’s first single “Away Alive,” Toto will further cement his reputation for crafting infectious and breezy pop that’s mischievously difficult to categorize. In fact, “Away Alive” is centered around a languid and tropical groove, featuring gently strummed guitar, brief bursts of arpeggiated synths and an infectious hook paired with Toto’s yearning falsetto. Sonically the song hints at Tropicalia, Bossa nova, 70s soul, Afro pop, French pop and folk while not being one thing in particular; but perhaps more important, the song encouragers the listener to slow down and pay close attention to gentle sway of life’s rhythms every now and then. 

Produced by Paris-baed company La Sucrerie and directed by R&D, the recently released — and incredibly cinematic — video follows Toto as he wanders about the desert. Speaking about the video, Toto says “The desert is an allegorical dream. An inner space where one seems initially lost, without reference or bearings, before finding, within, an anchor point from which to walk. With a heart open to all encounters.”

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New Video: Perth Australia’s The Money War Release an Intimate, Behind the Scenes, Life on the Road-like Video for “Hey Now”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Perth, Australia-based dream pop/indie pop/indie rock duo The Money War, and as you may recall, the act which is comprised of Rainy Day Women’s Dylan Ollivierre and  Warning Birds’ Carmen Pepper can trace its origins to a road trip that the pair took across the US in late 2015. Inspired by the trip, they recorded a ton of iPhone demos. And as the story goes, after a chance meeting with producers Thom Monahan and Arne Frager in a San Francisco dive bar, the duo were convinced of the value of their demos together, and began working on an album.

Last year saw the release of their debut EP and to support the effort, they spent the better part of that year touring with Holy Holy and Meg Mac, and then went on a headlining national tour during December. EP single “Recall,” was the fifth most played song on Triple J Radio, and as result they had received a growing national profile in their homeland; but interestingly enough, they also received attention Stateside with airplay on SiriusXM, KEXP, CJAM FM, KXRN, WLKK and college radio. The duo’s highly-anticipated full-length debut is slated for release early next year, and the album’s first single was the Still Corners-like “Hollywood,” was a moody and cinematic track inspired by a difficult year the duo had in which someone close to each individual had died. “There’s a hospital in Perth called Hollywood, and I was pondered its ironic name,” Olliviere says in press notes. “We were in LA when I got the news that a family member was passing away, and the lyrics started forming from there. We wanted the song to sound like a moving and we took production cues from that idea.”

“Hey Now,” the second and latest single off the up-and-coming Australian duo’s debut album is a breezy and cinematic track that recalls 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock — but with an infectiously anthemic hook that makes the song sound as though it would be the perfect addition to anyone’s road trip playlist. And while further cementing their reputation for crafting breezy, hook driven indie rock, the song has an underlying bittersweet quality.  As the band’s Dylan Olliviere explains “is about making a commitment to someone and being ecstatic about it but also realising that you’re in a very different position to where you thought you’d be when you reached that milestone. Life usually takes a different course than you anticipated and doesn’t always match the set of ideals you once held. I like how the line ‘time is coming for us baby’ can be interpreted in different ways depending on how you look at it. It’s kind of a romantic yet bittersweet sentiment.” 

Shot and edited by the members of The Money War, the recently released video for “Hey Now” is an an intimate “life on the road of a touring band” styled video that’s split between the band playing in front of audiences in Los Angeles, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, goofing off and traveling around the world with stops that include a bridge crossing at Tasmania’s Cataract Gorge, beach huts in Fremantle, Australian Rules Football on a Perth beach, and riding in a van, crossing the American West. 

New Video: Gothic Tropic Releases Sci Fi Inspired Visuals for Swooning “Your Soul”

Los Angeles, CA-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Cecila Della Peruti is the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed indie rock project Gothic Tropic, and as you may recall, Peruti has also spent stints as member of the touring bands for Beck, Charli XCX, Børns, Poppy and others. With the release of last year’s full-length debut Fast or Feast, Peruti received attention for crafting hook-driven, New Wave-inspired tracks like  “Stronger,” and the lush and atmospheric “How Life Goes” which explored themes of empowerment, strength in vulnerability, moving forward from the breakup of romantic relationships and the difficulties of getting older and growing up. 

Interestingly, “Your Soul,” Fast or Feast’s fourth single manages to further cement Peruti’s growing reputation for crafting a hook driven songs, centered by punchy guitar chords, swirling synths and a propulsive rhythm section within an urgent and swooning song detailing a relationship that’s inching towards an awkward yet inevitable end that the song’s narrator doesn’t want to see happen. 

Directed and written by Peruti, the gorgeously cinematic and trippy visuals for “Your Soul” is set set during the impending death of the sun, just as it’s about to envelope the entire planet — and it follows a young boy, who discovers that his purpose is to be one of the “Children of the Sun,” the last of a supernatural lineage of gifted children, whose presence sedates morals for a more blissful end. As Peruti explains in press notes, “I’m a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic, so as I was putting this elaborate idea together knowing full well my budget and logistics, it was challenging to rely completely on Matisse and practical effects and circumstances to get the concept across. Everyone who worked on the video are my friends and collaborators, and I’m so lucky to have found young Matisse and his family. This VIP alien-angel character needed to be reverent without pride or ego, which I think Matisse completely owned. This was my first set, and I’m excited to keep going writing and directing, it’s been a fixation for a while.”
After working in the studio with Daniele Luppi, who has worked with Danger Mouse, Parquet Courts and Red Hot Chili Peppers; Alex Goose, who has worked with Weezer; and Carlos de la Garza, who has worked with Cherry Glazerr, Paramore and The Naked and the Famous, Peruti is expecting to release new material sometime next year. We’ll be on the lookout for it. 

New Video: Balthazar Returns with a Breezy and Anthemic New Single

Over the past couple of years of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written a bit about Maarten Devoldere, a Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, known for being the frontman of the internationally acclaimed acts Balthazar and JOVM mainstays Warhaus. Warhaus was a bit of a sonic departure from Devoldere’s work with Balthazar, as the project’s sound was atmospheric, jazz-inspired art rock the brought to mind The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, and Leonard Cohen — all while paired with Devoldere’s urbane, decadent, novelistic lyrics.

Unsurprisingly, Warhaus’ debut We Fucked a Flame Into Being derived its title from a line in DH Lawerence’s seminal, erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover — and the album’s material thematically focused on lust, desire and the inscrutably of random encounters with a deeply personal almost confessional nature. However, Warhaus’ self-titled, sophomore album found the material thematically moving away from sin, lust and decadence and towards sincere, honest, hard-fought and harder-won love, as much of the material was inspired by Devoldere’s romantic relationship with backing vocalist Sylvie Kreusch. Reportedly, the recording sessions for the self-titled album were also a much more spontaneous affair, heavily influenced by  Dr. John‘s The Night Tripper period — with the material leaning even more towards jazz while hinting at voodoo rhythms.

While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a remote retreat in  Kyrgyzstan, his Balthazar songwriting partner, co-frontman and longtime friend Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, holing himself in the studio, where he indulged his love of old-school R&B, eventually releasing a solo album as J. Bernardt. During Balthazar’s hiatus, the band’s songwriting duo found the ability to indulge their whims and follow their creative muses in different directions — while receiving boy commercial and critical success to be liberating. But it also created an undeniable urge between the two to write together again, propelled by a broader artistic horizon and their mutual respect for real other’s work. 

When the members of Balthazar reconvened, they did so without any particular plan, just a desire to better their previously released work and to further the band’s story. Interestingly, the duo of Devoldere and Deprez agreed that the material should have an overall less serious, less melancholy feel, leaning towards a looser, refreshed sound — while retaining the hook driven quality that they’ve long been known for. And the end result is the band’s forthcoming full-length Fever, which is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Play It Again Sam Records. Now, as you may recall, the album’s first single, album title track “Fever” was a slinky and sultry track, centered around a strutting bass riff, stomping percussion, a swooping string motif, a sinuous hook, a twinkling bridge and Devoldere’s plaintive baritone. Interestingly, the single finds the band crafting swaggering and infectious pop that’s accessible, carefree, and flirty. 

Fever’s second and latest single “Entertainment” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as its remarkably upbeat and downright playful but centered around a swaggering and strutting vibe and an anthemic hook — and while sonically the song at points nods at The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” as the Jinte Deprez-led song features Afro pop-like polyrhythmic percussion, a buoyant bass line and a strutting guitar line while Devoldere contributes equally playful harmonies. As the band explains “‘Entertainment’ was written at the end of the album recordings as one of the last songs, functioning as the loose, uplifting tune, celebrating a carefree take in the entertainment business. We wrote an ambitious album but tried not to take ourselves too seriously, sure it’s an outspoken singalong chorus, but there’s a rambling playfulness to it which we love.” And much like its predecessor, the new single is a razor sharp take on how much the entertainment business manages to influence every aspect of our lives — and how so many people get into the entertainment business to get laid. And much like its predecessor, the song reveals an incredibly smart band crafting a truly unique sound and aesthetic. 

Directed by Wouter Bouvijn, the recently released video captures the band jamming in their performance — and having a helluva time doing so further emphasizing the song’s breezy and playful nature. Interestingly, the video features the band’s newest member Tijs Delbeke, who joins as a replacement for Patricia Vanneste, who left the band. 

Live Footage: Charlotte Lawrence Performs “Sleep Talking” on Vevo DSCVR

Charlotte Lawrence is an up-and-coming, 18 year-old, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and model who quickly rose to national prominence with the release of her debut single last year, which amassed over 16 million streams. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Lawrence released her debut EP Young which she followed up with a tour with Lauv, viral hit collaborations with Nina Nesbitt and Sasha Sloan.

Now, as you may recall Vevo DSCVR is Vevo’s emerging artist platform that curates the best up-and-coming artists — acts that the site believes will have a significant impact on the future — to perform their best material. Vevo has a lengthy history of promoting emerging artists and helping them break through to new and wider audiences; in fact, past alumni of the Vevo DSCVR series has included Jack Garratt,James Bay, Years & Years, Wolf Alice, Sam Smith, Jorja Smith, Maggie Rogers, Alessia Cara and Ella Eyre among others. This past year has seen Vevo DSCVR inviting up-and-coming pop artists Billie Eilish, Bülow and Donna Missal — and continuing with a big year, they recently invited Charlotte Lawrence, who performed “Sleep Talking,” a mid-tempo pop song in which its narrator discovers that her lover has been messing around on her — by talking in his sleep. At the core of the song is a bitter sense of heartache and betrayal, wrapped around a slick and infectious hook. 

New Video: Deal Casino’s Quirky and Playful Visuals for the Bitterly Ironic “Happy People”

Comprised of Joe Parella, Jon Rodney, Joe Cowell and Chris Donofrio, the Asbury Park, NJ-based indie rock band Deal Casino formed back in 2013. The band cites Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, The Band and Led Zeppelin as some of their influences but more importantly, since their release the band has released a series of EPs before releasing their self-titled, full-length debut last year to praise from Stereogum, New Noise and others. LLC, the Asbury Park-based quartet’s sophomore album is slated for release later this month and its latest single “Happy People” is centered around jangling guitar chords, a chugging and propulsive rhythm section and wobbling and droning synths.  Infused with a Wes Anderson soundtrack quirkiness, the song is actually bitterly ironic, as its narrator openly questions how people can be happy with themselves and the world around them when so much is dreadfully wrong — and although these happy people may seem superficially content, the song’s narrator points out that he’d rather not put on the happy mask that erases reality; even if it’s absurd and painful.

Directed by Anthony Yerba, the recently released video is centered by an ironic juxtaposition. Shot with a fish eye lens,  the members of the band goofing off and being playful during rehearsals and practices. Initially bearing fake smiles, the smiles frequently become real smiles or wild bursts of laughter as the camera zooms up for extreme close-ups, capturing the band within their own natural habit — all while pointing out the irony within the song. 

New Video: Perth Australia’s Methyl Ethel Releases Their Most Pop-Leaning and Accessible Track to Date

Jake Webb is a Perth, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for his acclaimed solo recording project Methyl Ethel, which features backing touring bandmembers Thom Stewart, Chris Wright, Lyndon Blue and Jacob Diamond.  Over the past few years Webb has seen tremendous commercial and critical success. “Ubu,” became an ARIA Accredited Gold single earlier this year, after landing at #4 on Triple J’s 2017 Hottest 100. They’ve amassed over 25 million Spotify streams — and all of their tour dates across Australia and the UK have been sold out since 2016. Although Webb and company have achieved such success in a relatively short period of time, the project began as a personal challenge as Webb explains in press notes.  “I wanted to see if I could write, record and release some music before the band I was in at the time finished doing the same. I did and subsequently withdrew from some close friends. Relationships were severed. I severed some even closer ones. This was all played out in such a public away, as it invariably does, so I withdrew more. My first album Oh Inhuman Spectacle became the ‘why me?/fuck you/sorry’ album that I wrote as a confused coping mechanism. It helped and I enjoyed it. I continued the introspective journaling with the follow-up, Everything is Forgotten. For me, that album said ‘who cares? all your emotions are irrational and meaningless anyway.’ 

“This year, I found myself in the same city, alone in a room tasked with writing an album to be heard, not as an outlet for personal grievances. I decided to find closure with Triage. The question this time around is ‘what is important? What requires attention?’ I think It’s about living with secrets. Secrets cause the problems. They call them white lies, little things used to manipulate people for the greater good. It’s a triage of truths to maintain an artifice. A poem by T.S Elliot that I referenced on the first EP I recorded says it best:

“To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”

Everyone is older, people have moved on. I receive text messages from old friends looking to reconnect. I have a masochistic social complex in so far as I enjoy the company of others, but self-imposed solitude and exile are exciting and useful to me. Its like method acting, which isn’t too far removed from the emotional memory I see people drawing upon every day. I challenge the idea of friendship and trust. I think because I am untrustworthy. At least I’m honest about that.” As a result, Webb’s forthcoming, third full-length album Triage which is slated for a February 15, 2019 release through 4AD Records — and the album, which comes after his 30th birthday, is reportedly a much more reflective album, thematically focusing on time and its passing, of getting older and only sometimes becoming more mature, of the lies we have to keep to keep on getting by and so on.

“Real Tight,” Triage’s latest single is a bit of a departure from Webb’s previously released work as it’s arguably the most pop-leaning and the most emotionally-direct he’s ever written, thanks to swelling and soaring hooks, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, chiming reverb-heavy guitars and a propulsive groove and while nodding at 80s pop like Prince and others, the song’s narrator finds himself making an urgent and desperate plea to someone he cherishes; but emotionally, the song is jumble of guilt, devotion, fear and uncertainty.

Directed by Matt Sav, the recently released video riffs a bit off the video for Janet Jackson’s “The Pleasure Principle,” as a boom box carrying Webb walks into an empty studio to sing and dance along to the music he decides to play but it’s interspersed with psychedelic visuals that emphasize the song’s ambivalence and plaintive need.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Holy Wars Release a Socially Conscious, Horror Film Inspired Visual for “Born Dark”

Last year, I had written quite a bit about Holy Wars, led by Connecticut-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter Kat Leon, and as you may recall, Leon initially developed a reputation for writing material that focused largely on her obsessions with death and the occult as one-half the of the Los Angeles-based electro pop act Sad Robot. Leon’s critically applauded Holy Wars debut Mother Father was influenced by some of the darkest days of her life — when she was reeling from the sudden losses of her mother and father, who both died within months of each other. Building upon the attention she received here and elsewhere with Mother Father, Leon’s latest Holy Wars single “Born Dark” was produced by AFI’s Hunter Burgan, and while arguably being among the slickest produced singles she’s released, the arena rock friendly, hook-driven track is centered by propulsive tribal drumming, buzzing power chords and Leon’s pop star-like powerhouse vocals — and sonically the song manages to nod at Nine Inch Nails, Garbage and Siouxsie and the Banshees in a self-assured and ambitious fashion.

The track reportedly finds Leon going back to her roots — literally — as she explores the very moment of her birth, with the possibility that she may have been a bit of a bad seed, if not devilish, complete with a “don’t give a single fuck” swagger. Interestingly, the recently released video, directed by Kat Leon and Mel Hummel stars Leon as a murderous femme fatale/Barbie doll-type, pointing at the unrealistic representations of what women are supposed to be, act and look.

As Leon explains in press notes, “Growing up, little girls were given fashion dolls to play with as an expectation of what ‘women’ were supposed to look like and act like. It was an unrealistic representation of what we actually are and early on there were no variety to these dolls. There were no gothic or ‘darker’ dolls for years, or gender bending or anything other than what that skinny, blonde bubbly doll represented… the subtle brainwashing of our society. ‘Born Dark’ starts with the original pageant beauty queen doll but this doll carries a dark secret… she is a seductive killer with a thirst for blood. It all starts where the crown is given to another doll and our Born Dark Beauty grabs her first kill for the crown. The journey continues with each character introduced furthering the story of just how dark this doll is. Playing on the dark nature of the song, we decided to go with an overall moody, edgy and vintage vibe for the video starting with the French foreign film introduction to the song. The music video blends the reality between doll vs. human with foreshadowing and FX where the audience is left to question what is real and who is the true ‘character’ in this thriller. The murders are shown in a way where you aren’t sure of just who exactly the true killer is. Is the doll a figment of Kat’s imagination or the other way around?”

New Video: Acclaimed Belgian Act Balthazar Releases Cinematic Visuals for Their Breeziest and Most Accessible Single to Date

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about Maarten Devoldere, a Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, known for being the frontman of the internationally acclaimed acts Balthazar and JOVM mainstays Warhaus. And as you may recall, Warhaus isa bit of a sonic departure from Devoldere’s work with Balthazar, as it was atmospheric jazz-leaning art rock that managed to recall  The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, Leonard Cohen and the poetry of William Blake — all while paired with Devoldere’s urbane, decadent, novelistic lyrics.

Unsurprisingly, Warhaus’ debut We Fucked a Flame Into Being derived its title from a line in DH Lawerence’s seminal, erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover — and the album’s material thematically focused on lust, desire and the inscrutably of random encounters with a deeply personal almost confessional nature. Warhaus’ self-titled, sophomore album found the material moving away from sin, lust an decadence and towards sincere, honest, hard-fought and harder-won love, as much of the material was inspired by Devoldere’s romantic relationship with backing vocalist Sylvie Kreusch. Reportedly, the recording sessions for the self-titled album was a much more spontaneous affair, heavily influenced by  Dr. John‘s The Night Tripper period — with the material leaning even more towards jazz while hinting at voodoo rhythms. 

While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a retreat in  Kyrgyzstan his Balthazar songwriting partner, co-frontman and longtime friend Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, holing himself in the studio, where he indulged his love of old-school R&B, eventually releasing a solo album as J. Bernardt. During their primary project’s hiatus, Devoldere and Deprez found the ability to indulge their whims and follow their creative muses while receiving commercial and critical success to be liberating; but it also led to the urge for the duo to write together again, propelled by a broader artistic horizon and their mutual respect for each other’s work.

Interestingly, when the members of the band reconvened, they had no particular plans, just a desire to better their previously released material and further the band’s story. As the band’s primary songwriters Both Devoldere and Deprez agreed on an overall less serious, less melancholy feel, leaning towards a looser, refreshed sound — while retaining their ability to sharp hook. The end result is Balthazar’s forthcoming album Fever, which is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Play It Again Sam Records.  Album title track “Fever” is a slinky and sultry sunset jam, centered around a strutting bass riff, stomping percussion, a swooping string motif, a sinuous hook, a bridge featuring twinkling keys and Devoldere’s plaintive baritone. The new single finds the band crafting swaggering and infectious pop that’s accessible, carefree, and flirty while being smart and unlike anything else written or recorded by a contemporary artist. 

Directed by Athos Burez, the recently released and incredibly cinematic video stars the songwriting duo of Devoldere and Deprez driving around and goofing off in a decidedly foreign and mountainous land. Shot between declining sunset and nighttime, the video is a woozy and feverish dream — the sort that as a photographer, makes me feel envy — centered around two old pals, and their easygoing chemistry. 

New Audio: Up-and-Coming Melbourne Pop Act Huntly Releases a Slick and Glossy Video for Club-Banging Single “Wiggle”

Comprised of Elspeth Scrine, Charlie Teitelbaum and Andrew McEwan, the Melbourne, Australia-based trio Huntly have received attention across their homeland and elsewhere for a minimalist take on electro pop. The trio’s latest single “Wiggle” may arguably be the most dance floor friendly track they’ve released to date as the track is centered around a wobbling bass line, a percussive Afropop-like groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and a sinuous hook. Scrine’s sultry lead vocal celebrates  space and freedom, of knowing when its time for a relationship to end while Teitelbuam, acting as a second vocalist offers a murkier, moodier counterpoint to the proceedings. Interestingly enough, the song recalls classic house anthems — with a clean, hyper modern sheen. The trio is working on a full-length debut that’s reportedly slated to be released some time in 2019 and as Scrine says in press notes, “‘Wiggle is the poolside-banger track of the record.” As the story goes, Scrine took an early demo of the song to McEwan, who immediately said “let’s make a luxe banger you could drink an aperol spritz to.”

Scrine adds “Musically, it is a homage to all the incredible women making clean, evocative dance music right now like Yaeji, Tirzah and Smerz. Production-wise, this meant an exercise in absolute minimalism.”  – 

Directed by Gianna Mazzeo and shot by Amy Dellar, the recently released video is a slick, glossy and neon-colored fever dream that immediately brings fashion photo shoots and 90s house music videos to mind.