Tag: New Order

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Mark Lanegan Releases a Slow-burning and Atmospheric Blues

Over the past few years, I’ve spilled a fair share of virtual ink covering Mark Lanegan, the Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, known as the frontman and founding member of Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees, and an acclaimed solo artist, who has collaborated with an eclectic array of artists and bands — including  Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain on an unreleased Lead Belly cover/tribute album recorded before the release of Nevermind; as a member of the renowned grunge All-Star supergroup/side project Mad Season with Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready; as a member of  Queens of the Stone Age featured on five of the band’s albums — 2000’s Rated R, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, 2007’s Era Vulgaris and 2013’s . . . Like Clockwork; with The Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins; as well as former Belle and Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell on three albums. Additionally, Lanegan has contributed or guested on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley-Bird, Creature with the Atom Brain, Moby, Bomb the Bass, Soulsavers, Greg Dulli’s The Twilight Singers, UNKLE and others.

Last year, Lanegan released his 11th album Somebody’s Knocking. And while continuing an amazing run of critically applauded releases, the album’s material found the JOVM mainstay and grunge legend turning to some of his most formative musical influences and profound loves — electronic music.  “I’ve always been into electronic music since I was a kid,” Lanegan said in press notes at the time. “I think the reason those elements have become more obvious in my music is that my tastes have changed as I’ve grown older. The bulk of what I listen to now is electronic. Alain Johannes and I had actually written “Penthouse High” for Gargoyle but then it didn’t really fit on that record. I have been a huge fan of New Order and Depeche Mode forever and have wanted to do a song along those lines for a long time – a blatantly catchy, old-school dance-type song.”

Although Somebody’s Knocking came together during an 11 day session in Los Angeles, much of the album’s deepest musical influences are decidedly European, including the album’s two other writing partners Martin Jenkins, who records as Pye Corner Audio and the aforementioned Rob Marshall, who contribute some newer, murkier forms. Reportedly, Lanegan approached working with each of the album’s writing partners from the perspective and lens of a fan, vocalist, and interpreter.

2020 will be a momentous year for the JOVM mainstay and grunge rock legend: Lanegan’s memoir Sing Backwards and Weep will be published by Da Capo Press on April 28, 2020 — and his 12th solo album Straight Songs Of Sorrow will be released through Heavenly Recordings on May 8, 2020. Featuring guest appearances from his longtime Gutter Twin collaborator Greg Dulli, Warren Ellis, the legendary John Paul Jones, Ed Harcourtand countless others, Straight Songs Of Sorrow is inspired by his own life story, a documented in his memoir. 

Sing Backwards and Weep reportedly is a brutal, nerve-shredding read, centered around Lanegan’s unsparing and unadulterated candor recounting his journey from troubled youth in Eastern Washington, through his days as a drug-fueled member of Seattle’s grunge rock scene to today with Lanegan finding peace and salvation within himself. While the book documents his lifelong struggle to find peace within himself, his forthcoming 12th album emphasizes the extent to which he realized that music is his life. 

“Writing the book, I didn’t get catharsis,” he chuckles. “All I got was a Pandora’s box full of pain and misery. I went way in, and remembered shit I’d put away 20 years ago. But I started writing these songs the minute I was done, and I realised there was a depth of emotion because they were all linked to memories from this book. It was a relief to suddenly go back to music. Then I realized that was the gift of the book: these songs. I’m really proud of this record.”  In press notes, Lanegan affirms that each of Straight Songs Of Sorrow’s 15 songs references a specific episode or person in the book — albeit, some more explicitly than others. 

Whereas the previous two Mark Lanegan Band albums, 2017’s Gargoyle and the aforementioned Somebody’s Knocking found Lanegan pairing his lyrics to music written by collaborators, most of Straight Songs Of Sorrow was written by Lanegan — with the exception being the collaborations with Mark Morton. Two other songs have shared credits — and those two songs were cowritten by Lanegan’s wife Shelley Brien. And much like the book, the album ends with its hero overcoming adversity and struggle and turning, battered and beat up, but cleansed, towards a bright new day. 

Centered around atmospheric synths, strummed acoustic guitar, Straight Songs Of Sorrow is a slow-burning track that’s one part bluesy lament, one part tale of survival and redemption from life’s battered and beaten up. Interestingly, as Lanegan gets older, his vocal range inches closer to Howlin’ Wolf — a gravelly rumble that manages to convey aching despair and hard-fought and harder-won wisdom, that comes from living a messy life, full of dissolution and fuck ups. And as a result, the song may arguably the most personal song the JOVM mainstay and grunge legend had released in some time time. 

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New Video: Moaning Releases a Psychedelic, ’80s Inspired, Valentine’s Day Themed, Animated Visual for “Fall In Love”

A couple of years ago, I managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based indie rock/post punk trio Moaning.  The members of the band —  Sean Solomon (vocals, guitar), Pascal Stevenson (keys, bass) and Andrew MacKelvie (drums) — have been friends and collaborators in Los Angeles’ DIY scene for the better part of a decade through music and other creative pursuits in different media — Solomon is also a noted illustrator, art director and animator while Stevenson and MacKelvie have played in or produced and engineered acclaimed and rapidly rising acts like Cherry Glazerr, Sasami and Surf Curse.

Now, as you may recall, with the release of 2018’s self-titled, full-length debut, the members of Moaning received attention from a number of nationally and internationally known media outlets including  The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine,Stereogum, and others for a moody and angular post-punk sound that seemed to recall Joy Division, Interpol and Preoccupations. Slated for a March 20, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, the Los Angeles-based trio’s highly-anticipated Alex Newport-produced and engineered sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is a much more collaborative effort than its predecessor, an effort that finds the band actively brightening the claustrophobic and uneasy sound that won them attention by trading guitars for synths and beats. 

Thematically, the album focuses on the everyday anxieties of being a somewhat functioning human in the madness of our current century — with the material touching upon the personal and universal. “We’ve known each other forever and we’re really comfortable trying to express where we’re at. A lot of bands aren’t so close,” the band’s Andrew MacKelvie says in press notes. Sean Solomon, who celebrated a year of sobriety during the Uneasy Laughter sessions adds “Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they’re wrong. But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I’ve made.”

Last month, I wrote about Uneasy Laughter’s first single, the brooding “Ego.” Centered around shimmering synth, a soaring hook and a blistering guitar solo, the song found the band’s sound boldly and confidently moving in the direction of early 80s New Order. Thematically speaking, the song’s narrator desperately takes stock of himself and his relationships to others with a brutally unflinching honesty. The album’s second and latest single “Fall In Love” is centered around propulsive and forceful drumming, shimmering synth arpeggios, Solomon’s ironically detached vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Flock of Seagulls, the aforementioned New Order and others, the track is a skeptical — if not overtly cynical — take on love and romantic relationships, while featuring a narrator, who has a distorted and self-loathing view of themselves. 

“People my age are skeptical of love because we see how many previous generations got divorced or went through painful experiences,” the band’s Sean Solomon says in press notes. “The song is about being afraid to fall in love because of expecting heartbreak. it’s about hating yourself too much to open yourself up to someone else. It’s a bummer of a song lyrically, but it’s pretty fun to dance to!”

Directed by the band’s Sean Solomon with additional animation by Sarah Schmidt, the recently released video is a psychedelic and fever dream-like depiction of a romance between two young people that seems doomed to fail. “I made the music video in my bedroom a couple of weeks ago,” Solomon recalls in press notes. “It’s a psychedelic depiction of an imaginary romance. It’s inspired by early experimental animations like Belladonna of Sadness and Heavy Metal. Both the song and the video are perfect for everyone feeling like shit this Valentine’s Day.” 

New Video: Moaning Release’s a Surreal and Uneasy Visual for “Ego”

Back in 2018, I spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based indie rock/post punk trio Moaning.  Comprised of Sean Solomon (vocals, guitar), Pascal Stevenson (keys, bass) and Andrew MacKelvie (drums), the members of Moaning have been friends and collaborators in Los Angeles’ DIY scene for the better part of a decade through music and other creative pursuits in different media — Solomon is also a noted illustrator, art director and animator while Stevenson and MacKelvie have played in or produced and engineered acclaimed and rapidly rising acts like Cherry Glazerr, Sasami and Surf Curse.

With the release of 2018’s self-titled full-length debut, the Los Angeles-based trio received attention from a number of nationally and internationally known media outlets including  The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine,Stereogum, and others for a moody and angular post-punk sound that seemed to recall Joy Division, Interpol and Preoccupations. Building upon the success of their self-titled debut, the trio’s long-awaited sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is slated for a March 20. 2020 release through Sub Pop Records. Interestingly, Moaning’s Alex Newport-produced and engineered sophomore album is a more collaborative effort that finds the members of the band brightening the claustrophobic and uneasy sound that first won them attention — mainly through trading guitars for synths and beats. Thematically, the album focuses on the everyday anxieties of being a somewhat function human in the madness that’s this current century — with the material touching upon the personal and universal. “We’ve known each other forever and we’re really comfortable trying to express where we’re at. A lot of bands aren’t so close,” the band’s Andrew MacKelvie says in press notes. Sean Solomon, who celebrated a year of sobriety during the Uneasy Laughter sessions adds “Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they’re wrong. But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I’ve made.” 

Uneasy Laughter’s first single, the brooding “Ego” will further cement the trio’s long-held reputation for crafting moody material — and while featuring guitars during a blistering solo, the song is primarily centered around shimmering synths and a soaring hook. Although “Ego” finds the band’s sound boldly moving in the direction of say, 80s New Order, the song thematically finds its narrator desperately taking stock of himself and his relationships to others with an unflinching honesty. Interestingly, the initial demo was slower and was written in what the band’s Stevenson calls “a strange time signature,” which at the time stymied Solomon’s attempt to write vocal melodies. Borrowing a MacKelvie drumbeat from a demo of a different song, Stevenson found that it fit his original song perfectly. The track was fleshed out further in practices and through passing demos back and forth, with the result “perfectly capturing every idea we wanted to play with,” says MacKelvie. “I don’t think we would have been able to approach writing a song that way before,” adds Stevenson. “We purposely avoided the impulse to add guitars to everything, letting the melodies of the synth and vocals be the focus. We wanted to embrace the songs ability to slip between genre lines.

“The lyrics are about letting go of your own bullshit to help other people. Wanting to love yourself to love others. The ego can make you feel like you’re the greatest person in the world or the worst.” stated vocalist Sean Solomon. It makes you think your problems are abnormally different which is isolating and rarely true. The song is a reminder that listening to other perspectives is important and beneficial to both parties involved.”

Directed by Ambar Navarro, the recently released video for “Ego” features the members of the band in a variety of different costumes — but at its core, the video’s protagonist takes stock of himself, his life and how he relates to others. 

Led by songwriter/producer and founder of Ice Queen Records and founding member Joseph Lekkas, the Nashville-based indie rock act Palm Ghosts can trace its origins back
to when Lekkas lived in Philadelphia. After spending a number of years playing in local bands like Grammar Debate! and Hilliard, Lekkas took a lengthy hiatus from writing and performing music to book shows and festivals in and around the Philadelphia area. When he started Palm Ghosts, the project initially began as a solo recording project and creative way for Lekkas to deal with a rather incapacitating blunt of depression and anxiety. Lekkas then spend a long Philadelphia/Northeastern winter recording a batch of introspective songs that he dubbed “sun-damaged American music” that would eventually become the Palm Ghost debut album.
After a short tour in 2013 to support the Palm Ghost debut album, Lekkas packed up his belongings and relocated to Nashville, enticed by the city’s growing indie rock scene. Once he settled in to his new hometown, Lekkas set up a small home studio in the guest bedroom of a rental house on Greenland Avenue in East Nashville, where he eventually wrote and recorded the sophomore Palm Ghosts album, 2017’s Greenland, an album that
featured elements of electro pop, folk and indie rock, influenced by his adopted hometown’s long-held “song-is-king” culture. 2018’s Architecture found Lekkas further influenced by the sounds of the 80s — in particular, Cocteau Twins, Peter Gabriel, Dead Can Dance, New Order and The Cure among others — although the album’s first single “Turn the Knife” to my ears, managed to bring New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen to mind but with male/female harmonies.
Palm Ghosts’ latest single “Wide Awake and Waiting” continues a run of material that’s deeply inspired by and indebted to 80s post-punk: this time, the new single brings Joy Division and New Order’s “Ceremony” to mind. And at its core, the song is centered around a similar aching longing, shimmering synth arpeggios and an angular and propulsive bass line.

 

 

Gabriel Bødker Johnson is a Danish multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known as the creative mastermind behind the emerging solo, pop recording project thirdcurl. Interestingly, Johnson’s latest thirdcurl single “with you,” a collaboration with fellow multi-instrumentalist and producer Casper Iskov can trace some of its origins to when a 14 year old Johnson met Iskov, who was a local music legend at the time. Much like Johnson, Iskov began his music career when he was 12.

Around the same time, Johnson was honing his skills with DJ equipment and FL Studio.  Pioneer released a YouTube ad featuring new DJ equipment, which featured a deadmau5 remix of Daft Punk captured Johnson’s interest — and it began a lifelong obsession with deadmau5. Sometime later, the acclaimed electronic music producer and DJ hosted live streams sharing his creative process, and a young Johnson watched as many of those streams as possible. There’s a reason I mention Johnson’s obsession with deadmau5: you see, the first song that Johnson wrote back in 2011 was a version of his latest single “with you,” which at the time as the Danish multi-instrumentalist and producer explains “was a complete copy of a traditional deadmau5 track. I put it on YouTube because I was simply so proud to have made my own electronic track.”

As for the track “with you” is a radio friendly pop confection, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, Iskov’s plaintive vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook — and as a result, the single manages to sonically nod a bit at New Order and Tame Impala.  “With You” got a brand new life, when Iskov heard an early mix of  the track, loved what he heard and contributed lyrics to the new version — and of course, it marks the first collaboration between the two.

“Casper and I moved in together in an old house outside of Copenhagen together with Emil Kiltsgaard, who helped me to do the cover for the track, and Andreas Frandsen, who plays bass with me on stage,” Johnson says in press notes. “During this time, Casper and I sat down and finally managed to finish the track in 2018. 7 years it took to finish “with you.” We’re very proud of the track, as it features the same lyrics he wrote back then and because it still features the main elements of what I’d made so many years ago. But above all “with you” played a part of us becoming friends.”

 

 

 

New Video: Brisbane’s Confidence Man Releases an Occult Themed Visual for 90s House-Inspired “Does It Make You Feel Good?”

With the release of last year’s full-length debut, Confident Music for Confident People, which featured a handful of breakthrough singles, the Brisbane, Australia-based dance pop act Confidence Man — led by Janet Planet and Sugar Bones and featuring Clarence McGuffie and Reggie Goodchild — received attention nationally and internationally for a crowd-pleasing, club friendly sound seemingly inspired by Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder and Deeee-Lite-era house music. 

Adding to a growing profile and busy summer, the rapidly rising Aussie dance pop played across the international festival circuit, including a stop at Glastonbury Festival — and amazingly earning an opening slot for the legendary New Order. Interestingly, Confidence Man’s latest single, the shimmering, club anthem “Does It Make You Feel Good” continues on the momentum of the past year. Centered around a slick production featuring  a thumping and propulsive beat, shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line and a rousing hook, the song manages to be heavily indebted to late 80s and early 90s house and Club MTV-era MTV — i.e., Black Box, C+C Music Factory, the aforementioned Deeee-Lite and others. But instead of ascribing to soulless mimicry, the song reveals an act with a careful  and deliberate attention to craft. 

Directed by the Aussie dance pop act’s longtime visual collaborators Schall and Schanbel, the recently released visual is s striking fever dream that’s reminds me quite a bit of the work of Dario Argento — but with an extensive dance sequence in between the gore, ecstatic occult rituals and laser shooting boobies and cute animals. 

Interview: A Q&A with M for Montreal’s Program Director Mikey Rishwain Bernard

M for Montreal (French – M pour Montreal) is an annual music festival and conference, which takes place during four days in late November. Since its founding 14 years ago, the music festival and conference has rapidly expanded to feature over 100 local and international buzzworthy and breakout bands in showcases across 15 of Montreal’s top venues.

300 music industry movers and shakers, heavyweights and tastemakers from over 20 different countries make the trek to Montreal to seek out new, emerging artists and new business opportunities – while hopefully eating a ton of smoked meat sandwiches and poutine. I have the distinct pleasure and honor of being one of those music industry folks, who will be in Montreal tomorrow. As you can imagine, I’m looking very forward to poutine and smoked meat sandwiches, as well as a wildly eclectic array of music that includes the rapidly rising hometown-based Francophone indie rock act Corridor; acclaimed London, Ontario-based DIY rock collective WHOOP-Szo; British Columbia-based psych folk act Loving; hometown-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Ada Lea; hometown-based shoegazers Bodywash; Vancouver-based dance punk act NOV3L; Cameroonian-French pop artist Blick Bassy; and New York-based dance punk act Operator Music Band;  as well as a showcase featuring Icelandic artists and a two showcases featuring locally-based and Canadian-based hip-hop among a lengthy list of others.

Before heading out to Montreal, I chatted with the festival’s program director Mikey Rishwain Bernard about a wide range of topics including Montreal and Montreal’s music scene, what music fans, music industry professionals and journalists should expect from the city and the festival and more. Check it out below.

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WRH: While JOVM does have readers in Canada, most of my readers are based in the United States. Can you tell me and my readers a couple of things about Montreal and its music scene that we probably wouldn’t know but should know?

Mikey Rishwain Bernard: Most people will identify Montreal with Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and that’s cool as shit. After that Arcade Fire movement, it felt like many creative Canadian musicians started flocking to Montreal for the cheap schools, cheap rent, vast music scene and live venues. All that hype brought a new generation of artists like Grimes, Mac DeMarco, BRAIDS and more. All this to say is that Montreal is one heck of a place for creative space, freedom and affordable rent. Aside all that, there’s an entire francophone music scene that’s considered mainstream and not to forget the top shelf beatmakers and producers, most notably Kaytranada, Kid Koala, and A-Trak. There’s a lot of government funding dedicated in arts and culture and that’s a huge factor.

WRH: This is the 14th edition of M for Montreal. What was the inspiration behind its creation?

MRB: First and foremost, M was created on a whim. It was set up as a showcase to introduce 6 Montreal bands to 12 festival buyers and media from the UK, who happened to be in Montreal, while on their way to NY for CMJ. It helped artists like Patrick Watson and The Besnard Lakes get some action. In short, M is a networking platform for Canadian artists and industry to mingle with international tastemakers. We now recruit over 100 international delegates from 15 different countries to attend in hopes to export these acts into their respective markets. Another inspiration behind M is Martin Elbourne.  He’s our co-founder. A legendary British programmer who books for Glastonbury and co-founded The Great Escape festival in Brighton. He also worked with The Smiths and New Order, and has always had been involved with new wave’s in the making. He saw Montreal as a “sexy city” and wanted to contribute to this festival to help bring Montreal acts to Europe. Since then, M for Montreal has grown into not only a platform for Canadians, but we also make a little room for international acts.

 WRH: What does a program director of a festival do? 

MRB: I curate the music and conference. Lots of listening, making offers, negotiating and waiting. On repeat.

WRH: In your mind, what makes a successful festival? 

MRB: Aside from the talent, it’s the experience. The people you meet and the memories you make. I sound like Hallmark card, eh?

WRH: This is my first time in Montreal – and it’s my first time covering the M for Montreal festival. Besides the cold weather and maybe a little snow, what should I expect as a journalist? What would other music industry professionals expect from the festival?

MRB: You’re gonna feel welcome and our locals treat our guests/delegates with a lot of respect. Quebecers are very welcoming and charming, and they’ll all share their opinions on where to go, who to meet and what to eat. Everyone is going to ask you to try poutine. Just do it, once or twice. Try it sober at least once if you get the chance. Aside from that, don’t be surprised if some women kiss you on both face cheeks.

WRH: As a music fan, why should I check out Montreal? Why M for Montreal?

MRB: Like previously mentioned, the rich music history. It’s always good to see where Leonard Cohen slept & where Win Butler got his coffee, but it’s also a privilege to discover and experience the culture and new music cooking in French Canada.

WRH: I was doing some research and checking out the artists playing this year’s festival. Admittedly, I was very impressed – the bill manages to be very local centric but while being an eclectic and diverse sampling of a number of different styles and genres. There’s also a fair number of Canadian acts from other provinces, at least one American band and so on. How much work went into that? And how do you and the other organizers choose the artists on the bill?

MRB: It’s a mixture of things. We work with a lot of new kids on the block, Canadian export partners and local industry. We book bands and work with people who wanna play ball. Not for the money, but for a chance to play for some interesting people from all over the world. So, like the programming, it’s all over the place.

WRH: So once the festival ends on Saturday night, what happens next for you and the rest of the team?

MRB: The team will close out the festival and close the 2019 file. The week after M, I’m attending a conference in Saskatoon called Very Prairie… From there, I go directly into hibernation, back home, in Stockton/Lodi California (home of Pavement and Chris Isaak). I will start the new year booking another festival taking place in May called Santa Teresa. And the beat goes on.

While in Montreal, I’ll be busy with my social media accounts, live tweeting and Instagramming as much as I can. Keep on the lookout here:

Twitter: @yankee32879 @williamhelms3rd

Instagram: william_ruben_helms

 

For more information on the festival, check out their homepage: https://mpourmontreal.com/en/

 

 

Youth Sector is a rapidly rising Brighton-based art rock act, comprised of Nick Tompkins (guitar, vocals), Josh Doyle (bass), Brad Moore (guitar), Harvey Dent (synth) and Karl Tomlin (drums) that has received critical praise from a number of British press outlets, including DIY Magazine, The Line of Best Fit, Dork Magazine, Gigwise and So Young Magazine, and airplay from BBC Radio 1 personalities Huw Stephens and Abbie McCarthy, as well as BBC 6 Music‘s Tom Robinson.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the up-and-coming British indie quintet’s latest single, the Theo Verney-produced “Tonight” continues a run of decidedly 80s New Wave-inspired tracks, complete shimmering synth arpeggios and rousingly anthemic hooks — but with a more introspective and somber tone. And while reportedly drawing a bit from early New Order, the track manages to equally recall The Cars but with a punk rock sneer.

“This song aims to shed light on the contagious quality of apathy in society, and how we favour small distractions in order to avoid confronting some of our toughest challenges,” the band’s Nick Tompkins explains in press notes. ” We’re seeing this constantly in the way the world deals with the climate crisis, where it only seems to be an urgent issue to those willing to make sacrifices while others are happy living in denial.”

Look for new material from the band in 2020.