Tag: New Audio

Led by twin sisters Cat (guitar, vocals) and  Carrie Biell (bass, vocals) and joined by Jude Miqueli (drums) and Darcey Zoller (cello, synth), the Seattle-based indie rock act Moon Palace can trace some of its origins back to the unique musical bond the Biell Sisters cultivated as the children of Deaf parents. Interestingly, with release of 2017’s self-titled, full-length debut, the members of the Seattle-based band drew comparisons to Beach House and Warpaint, as they crafted hook-driven material centered around sometimes discordant guitars and gorgeous dual harmonies. Along with receiving praise from the likes of City Arts Magazine and KEXP, Moon Palace has shared stages with Thunderpussy, Y La Bamba and Sera Cahoone among others.

Slated for an August 23, 2019 release, the band’s soon-to-be released album Shadowcast thematically finds a balance between light and dark. “Shadow self and trying to be positive through interactions with people you love,” the members of the band elaborate in press notes. “Outer world to the innermost personal world. Balancing the sun sign and moon sign. Knowing your inner personal self within the context of the universe.” Throughout the recording sessions, band members would text each other songs by Sonic Youth, Talking Heads, Duran Duran and Big Thief, all of which inspired and shaped the album’s sound and overall aesthetic.

Interestingly, Shadowcast‘s second and latest single “Who You Are” is a shimmering and contemplative song that finds the band effortlessly balancing intimate emotions within an atmospheric and cinematic sound featuring shimmering and slashing guitars, gorgeously ethereal vocals, a soaring hook and driving rhythm section. And while bearing a resemblance to Beach House, the song possesses an uncertain and uneasy air, as it focuses on navigating difficult relationships and questioning whether the other person is showing their true self or not.

 

 

 

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Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about Ivan Howard a prolific singer/songwriter,who has spent extensive stints writing, recording and touring with The Rosebuds, fronting the acclaimed indie supergroup GAYNGS, releasing material with his alter-ego Howard Ivans — and writing for Kanye West and Bon Iver. Late last year, Howard wound up in his Portland home with an unusual quiet patch in his schedule. However, as the story goes, that quiet patch didn’t last very long.

Howard found himself reconnecting with longtime friends Robert Rogan and Brian Weeks. “We met my freshman year of college. Brian heard I could sing, and cornered me in a stairway til I sang “Let Love Rule.” We ended up in our first band together, and he helped me realize that life wasn’t all basketball. I might be ok at music, too.” Howard recalls in press notes. Weeks introduced Howard to Rogan, and the three became close, with Weeks eventually joining Ivans in The Rosebuds as a touring musician, in between stints in Wilmington indie bands with Rogan. Coincidentally, around the same time that Howard reconnected with his old friends, Rogan and Weeks had begun working on a new project together. “We recorded 11 songs with scratch vocal tracks, but neither Robert nor I were completely comfortable singing on them,” Brian Weeks says in press notes. Rogan and Weeks decided to send the tracks they worked on to Howard — with the hopes of getting his take on the material.

“When they asked me to sing on ‘Run,’ I originally said ‘You don’t need me, just get Robert,’ admits Howard. “I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes and I liked Robert’s voice. But they kept pushing and I figured, it’s just one song.” Of course, it’s rarely just one song.  Once Robert heard Ivan’s take, he insisted he sing them all. “It was like somebody said ‘Here’s a CD of Greatest Hits of this genre of music without vocals that no one’s ever heard,” Howard explains. “Surprise! You get to sing them!’” The end result is the trio’s latest collaborative project together De La Noche.

De La Noche can trace its origins to Rogan and Weeks’ adopted hometown of Wilmington,  NC. During the middle of 2015 Rogan found himself rudderless. He had gone through a divorce and found that he had a lot of time on his hands — with few distractions. He began playing around and writing material. Feeling isolated, Rogan contacted his pal Weeks to collaborate on material that they wanted to feel closer to the 80s synth pop they’d grown up adoring than the guitar-driven indie rock bands they’ve long played in. Unsurprisingly, Howard, whose solo work also draws from 80s synth pop and soul, found it easy to slip his imitable vocals into the material Rogan and Weeks had been working on. “I tried to let the music dictate the sentiment of each song and just created a character that could fill all these melodic parts,” Howard explains in press notes. 

When asked about how De La Noche differs from his other projects, Howard says that ‘with most of my other projects, I’m the one that usually starts the song, travels with it the long road, and grinds it out ’till it’s finished. By the end, even though I love the songs, I still get tired of them — or they take on a different meaning from the struggles I was going through at the time. With the De La Noche, I just came in 2/3 of the way there. The songs were already written, and Matt Douglas of The Mountain Goats fame had already played his guest sax licks all over it. All I did was just sing them with my slant.” That slight bit of emotional distance from the material reportedly allowed Howard to take a far more adventurous approach in his vocal delivery. 

The project’s full-length debut Blue Days, Black Nights is slated for an August 23, 2019 release through Get Loud Recordings, and as you may recall, last month I wrote about the album’s slinky opener and first single “Avenues,” a track that to my ears was one part Quiet Storm R&B and one part Manifesto and Avalon-era Roxy Music. “Dreams,” Blue Days, Black Nights‘ latest single continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor — slinky and sultry Quiet Storm R&B-inspired pop  centered by shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths, twinkling keys, thumping beats and Howard’s plaintive vocals. And the addition of vocoder effected vocals on the song’s hook completes the retro vibes.

Interestingly, the song may arguably be the most emotionally ambivalent of the album’s singles so far — while seemingly upbeat, there’s an undercurrent of uncertainty, bitterness and loneliness that gives the song a razor sharp edge. “This song was written during the darkest period of my life,” De La Noche’s Robert Rogan recalls. “It was like someone muted the sun out just over top of me. Like, ‘Fuck you, Robert.’ The only time that was really bearable was when I was unconscious and dreaming. I hated waking up. The fact that the song sounds upbeat and optimistic is intentionally ironic. Which in turn actually turned the song into something more positive in the end. Maybe I was subconsciously telling myself to hold on? Actually now I look forward to getting up every day. I just went back to daydreaming now like I used to do before that long winter.”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Blackwater Holylight Release a Trippy Headbanger

The acclaimed Portland, OR-based heavy psych act Blackwater Holylight was formed by founding member Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass) after her previous band broke up, as a way to begin experimenting with what her own version of “heavy” should and could be both sonically and emotionally — while celebrating vulnerability in all of its form. In fact, the primary idea for the project was to have vulnerability be in the driver’s seat when it came to the creative process. Throughout most of her musical career, Faris was often the only female in many of her bands and she desperately wanted to see how it was to work exclusively with women. 

The band released their critically applauded self-titled full-length debut last year. And after extensive touring to support the album, the members of the JOVM mainstay act honed their sound and identity, with their live set being about the slow build, as their sound has evolved a bit 

The band released their critically applauded self-titled full-length debut last year and after extensive touring to support the album, they’ve honed their sound and identity — with their live set being about the slow build, as their sound has evolved a bit. In fact, as a heavy band they do something unique: their songs aren’t anchored to riffs, but rather riffs come in and go in rippling waves that surface throughout material that’s generally meditative and entrancing. But they also focus on building tension and intrigue throughout the song. 

Slated for an October 11, 2019 release through RidingEasy Records, Blackwater Holylight’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Veils of Winter finds the band with a different lineup — Faris (bass, vocals), Laura Hopkins (guitar/vocals) and Sarah McKenna (synths) along with the band’s newest members Mikayla Mayhew (guitar) Eliese Dorsay (drums). And perhaps a result of the new lineup, the band’s sound and writing process have changed quite a bit. “The process of this album was vastly different from our first record,” says Faris. “One, because we recorded it over the course of a few weeks, whereas the first record was over the course of about a year. And two, this album was a true collaboration between the five of us. Each of us had extremely equal parts in writing and producing, we all bounced ideas off each together, and we all had a say in what was going on during every part of the process.”

“One of our favorite things about this album is that because it was so collaborative, we didn’t compartmentalize ourselves into one vibe.” She continues. “It’s heavy, psychedelic, pop, shoegaze, doom, grunge, melodic and more. The whole process was extremely organic and natural for us, we were just being ourselves.”

 “Motorcycle” Veils of Winter’s finds the band balancing fuzzy, power chords, gorgeous melodicism and a motorik groove to create a unique take on heavy music that’s one part doom metal, one part shoegaze that manages to reveal subtle nuances on multiple listeners while being headbang worthy. 

I’ve written a bit about the indie electro pop act DGTL CLR over the past few years and as you may recall, the project, which initially began as a the music project of a mysterious Southern California-based electronic music production and artist duo; however, the cloak of mystery has been gently pulled off, revealing its creative mastermind, the San Diego-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Devereaux Jennings.

Since I’ve last written about Jennings and DGTL CTL, the act has developed a reputation for specializing in a relatively new subgenre of electro pop  next wave, which generally features a mix of vaporwave synths, electronic dance beats and organic instrumentation — i,e. guitars, saxophone and the like; but Jennings’ take finds him meshing elements of house music and indie rock to the mix, essentially adding a live aspect to the club. Interestingly, his latest single, the swaggering and glitchy banger “Carry On” is centered around a speak-sing vocal delivery reminiscent of Butthole Surfers, Cake, and Soul Coughing, industrial clang and clatter, tweeter and woofer rocking beats to create a sound that’s one part industrial electro pop, one part hip-hop and one part spoken word — all while focusing on an uplifting message to the listener. And while being a bold, new sonic direction for the JOVM mainstay, the new single manages to retain his uncanny ability to mesh avant-garde sounds within radio friendly pop bangers.

“‘Carry On’ is a blend of electronic, and indie. Taking that butthole surfer vibe and mixing it with some low dance bass,” Devereaux Jennings explained in an email to me. “The lyrics just plopped out, seeing as I did them on one take as improv about some shit I was going through. I have always felt like this outsider trying to do what I love and be who I feel I am, but always feeling like I am failing or just a lost cause. But we fail, we lose, we fuck up sometimes and we have to carry on. You are the only person that has the power to make something happen, no matter what holes or hills you face. The moment you give up, is the moment your dream dies. Don’t question your failures, learn from them and grow. Carry On…”

Formed back in 2005, the New York-based rock/punk act Baby Shakes — Mary  (lead vocals), Judy (guitar, vocals), Claudia (bass, vocals) and Ryan (drums) have released a handful of one-off singles, a singles compilation, a 10 inch heart-shaped EP and three full-length albums that have firmly established their sound — melodic vocals paired with fuzzy power cords that generally draws from the likes of Ramones, Chuck Berry, 60s Motown-era girl groups.

The members of the band have toured across the US, Japan, China, Ireland, the UK and the European Union and shared stages with the likes of The Romantics, The Boys, The Shadows of Knight, The Undertones, The Barracudas, Protex, Black Lips, Paul Collin’s Beat, Iggy Pop and a growing list of others. Interestingly, the New York-based punk act’s forthcoming album Cause a Scene is slated for a September 20, 2019 release, and the album is reportedly indebted to the original wave of punk — in particular, The Nerves, The Kids, early Bangles and The Go-Gos, The Runaways, as well as the Ramones.

Clocking in at exactly two minutes, “Nowhere Fast,” Cause a Scene‘s lead single is a breakneck bit of fuzzy, old-school punk with an infectious, power pop-like hook — and while clearly indebted to Ramones, Go-Gos and the like, the song is one part snotty and in your face, one part sweet, and one part cynical scowl, delivered with the self-assuredness of old pros.

 

New Audio: Long Beard Releases a Slow-Burning Mazzy Star-like Single

Earlier this month, I wrote about Leslie Bear, a New Brunswick, NJ-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who writes, records and performs as Long Beard. With the release of her full-length debut, 2015’s Sleepwalker, Bear received national attention for crafting shimmering and thoughtful dream pop, and for an album that thematically explored what constitutes home — particularly, how it can extend beyond the physical quality of its roof and four walls, to the comfort and familiarity of the people in it. And how all of that can influence one’s sense of self, stability and security. 

Four years have passed sine the release of Bear’s Long Beard debut. And that period marked a significant, transitional time for her: a career move lead her to return to her hometown, long after most of her friends and peers have moved away. And as a result, the feelings of stasis, nostalgia and confusion have deeply influenced the material on her forthcoming Craig Hendrix-produced sophomore album Means to Me. Slated for a September 13, 2019 release through Double Double Whammy Records, the album reportedly will mark both a major bit of artistic growth and maturation in her overall sound, aesthetic and approach with the material nodding at jangle pop, dream pop and shoegaze paired with her ethereal vocals.

“Sweetheart,” Means to Me’s lead single, was a shimmering bit of 4AD-era jangle pop paired with a soaring hook, delivered with a growing self-assuredness — but the song is underpinned by a wistful and bittersweet nostalgia over a lost relationship that lingers in your present. The album’s latest single, album title track “Means to Me” is a slow-burning and spectral track that’s one part Mazzy Star, one part 4AD-era jangle pop as the song is centered around shimmering guitars, a soaring hook and Bear’s achingly tender, ethereal vocals. And much like its immediate predecessor, the track continues a run of material that evokes the lingering ghosts of nostalgia and regret. 

Live Footage: Influential Post Punk Act Returns with a Reworked and Remixed Version of a Live Favorite

Minimal Compact, comprised of Berry Sakharof (guitar, keys, vocals), Malka Spiegel (bass, keys, vocals), Samy Birnbach, a.k.a. DJ Morpheus (vocals), Rami Fortis (guitar, vocals) and Max Franken (drums), initially formed in Amsterdam back in 1980. The band were part of the original post-punk explosion — and interestingly enough, they have long been considered one of the genre’s most unique. The members of Minimal Compact developed a sound centered around propulsive rhythms, spacious bass lines, lush keys, mesmerizing guitar lines and vocal melodies with a Middle Eastern inflection through the release of a couple of ground-breaking and influential albums, including 1984’s Deadly Weapons, which featured the club hit “Next One Is Real” and their most commercially successful album, 1985’s Raging Souls. 

In their short time together, the members of Minimal Compact toured around the world, from Poland to Japan, gaining a reputation for energetic, unpredictable and intense live shows. However, their studio recordings seldom captured their live sound and energy. The band broke up in 1988 with each of its individual members continuing onwards with a variety of creative projects including releasing solo efforts, hosting radio shows, having  art exhibitions, collaborating with a number of artists, DJ’ing, running record labels, hosting TV shows and the like. But during the next 20 years, their influence began to grow exponentially. In fact, by the time the band reunited for a handful of shows in 2004, they had begun to be recognized as influential originators. Since 2004, the members of the band have reunited for live shows just a handful of times — but each and every time, the individual members of the band recognize an undeniable magical quality between them. 

Recently, the members of Minimal Compact reconvened and went into the studio with their longtime producer and collaborator Colin Newman to finally capture their live sound with several of their signature songs being re-recorded using a mix of live recordings and studio-tooled performances — with the end result being the band’s forthcoming album Creation is Perfect. 

Slated for an October 25, 2019 release through the band’s own Minimal Compact label, the album will reportedly be a timely reminder of how essential and forward-thinking the band has been — and still is. Interestingly, Creation is Perfect’s first single is a reworked version of a live favorite, “Statik Dancin,” that captures the feel of their live set while retains the original’s spastic and fidgeting energy, angular hooks and dance floor friendly groove. But the new version also features a slick, studio polish reminiscent of Gang of Four’s Return the Gift. 

“We still play “Statik Dancin’” like we always did: driving, minimal, a bit moronic but still catchy,” the band’s Malka Spiegel says in press notes. “This version has a combination of the energy of the live version plus a fresh sounding production”.

Caroline Kingsbury is an up-and-coming, 23 year-old,. Florida-born, Los Angeles-based pop artist, best known as KingsburyAnd with her latest single “U Take It Back,” the up-and-coming pop artist’s sound has evolved to an atmospheric, hook-driven 80s synth pop-like sound that recalls Kate Bush, which perfectly complements Kingsbury’s big, earnest vocal s and shimmering guitar work.

Kingsbury will be touring with Alex Lahey throughout August and the tour will include an August 23, 2019 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates
8/13 – Los Angeles, CA – The Troubador
8/14 – Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar
8/16 – Austin, TX – Antones
8/17 – Dallas, TX – Deep Ellum Art Co.
8/19 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl
8/20 – Nashville, TN – Exit/In
8/22 – Washington D.C. – U Street Music Hall
8/23 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall Of Williamsburg
8/24 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brendas
8/25 – Allston, MA – Great Scott
8/27 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
8/28 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club
9/1 – Vancouver, B.C. – Biltmore Cabaret
9/3 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir

 

 

Currently featuring founding members Cynthia Sley (vocals), Pat Place (guitar) and Dee Pop (drums) along with newest recruit Val Opielski, the New York-based act Bush Tetras can trace their origins back to when Sley, Place, Pop and Laura Kennedy (bass) formed the band back in 1979.  Interestingly, their full-length debut Too Many Creeps was considered one of their scene’s defining moments as it accurately captured the vibe, feel and ethos of that scene’s particular moment.

Building upon a growing profile, the members of Bush Tetras were an opening act during The Clash’s legendary, spring 1981 17 show run at Bond International Casino. After the release of their Topper Headon-produced Rituals EP, which featured the chart-placing “Can’t Be Funky,” Laura Kennedy and Dee Pop left the band and were replaced by Bob Albertson (bass) and Don Christensen (drums); however, the band broke up.

For the better part of the next three decades, the members of the band were fairly elusive, although interestingly enough, the band’s original lineup reunited on a couple of occasions — in 1995, which resulted in 1997’s Beauty Lies and recording sessions the following year, which resulted in a Don Fleming-produced album that was shelved when Mercury Records was sold. That album was finally released in 2012.

In 2005, Julia Murphy replaced Kennedy and they resumed playing and touring across New York. The band toured across Europe the following year. Sadly, Laura Kennedy died in 2011 after a long battle with liver disease. In 2013, Cindy Rickmond, a former member of Cheap Perfume, Grayson Hugh, Church of Betty and Unknown Gender briefly replaced Murphy. And in 2016, Val Opielski, a former member of Krakatoa, Walking Hellos, PSXO and 1000 Yard Stare joined the band.

Last year saw the release of Take The Fall EP through Wharf Cat Records, the first batch of new music from the band in over 10 years. Over the winter, Third Man Records cleared their Cass Corridor showroom floor, invited the band down to Detroit — and enlisted the help of Third Man Mastering’s Bill Skibbe and Warren Defever to record their recently released “There is a Hum”/”Seven Years” 7 inch. A side single “There is a Hum” is a slashing bit of post punk, reminiscent of Entertainment-era Gang of Four and Sonic Youth — but seething with a neurotic anxiousness. B side single “Seven Years” manages to be a mischievously anachronistic track that sounds as though it could have been released at any point within the past 30 years. The glitchy and spastic track features some blistering and energetic guitar work centered around cowbell-led percussion and a sinuous bass line. Both tracks find the legendary post punk/No Wave act boldly reminding the listener that although it’s been a while, they play with a fury, passion and purpose that many younger acts lack.