Tag: New Video

Live Footage: Nick Hakim Performs “QADIR” on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

I’ve written quite a bit about the Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, guitarist Nick Hakim over the past handful of years. Hakim’s critically applauded full-length debut, 2017’s Green Twins can trace its origins back to when he finished his two critically applauded EPs Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where We Will Go Part 2. Armed with the masters for those efforts, Hakim relocated from Boston, where he was then based to Brooklyn.

As soon as he got himself settled, he quickly went to work, spending his spare time writing and recording sketches using his phone’s voice memo app and a four-track cassette recorder, fleshing the material out whenever possible. He then took his new demo’d material to various studios in NYC, Philadelphia and London, where he built up the material with a number of engineers, including frequent collaborator Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the material intact as much as humanly possible.

Thematically, the album’s material focused on specific experiences, feeling and thoughts he had during the time he was writing and composing it, making the album feel like a series of different self-portraits. Much like Vincent Van Gogh’s famed self-portraits, the material sometimes captures its creator in broad strokes, with subtle gradations in mood, tone and feeling. Sonically, Green Twins drew from a broad array of influences including Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye, Shuggie Otis and My Bloody Valentine and others. “We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins,” Hakim said in press notes at the time.

Since the release of Green Twins, Hakim developed a reputation as a highly sought-after, go-to collaborator working with Lianna La Havas, Anderson .Paak, Onyx Collective, Sporting Life, IGBO, Nappy Nina, Ambrose Akinmusire, Slingbaum, FKA Twins and Oumou Sangare.

The JOVM mainstay released his highly-anticipated sophomore album WILL THIS MAKE ME SOUND GOOD earlier this year through ATO Records. Interestingly, the album’s material manages to be distinctly Hakim while being a tonal shift from its predecessor: his sophomore album reflects the ideas with which he grappled with while writing and recording the album. To prepare listeners for the experience, Hakim shared the following statement about the record:

“I feel the people simmering, on our way to the boiling point. There’s a lot of madness going on around us and this world can feel so cold. It can get hard to remember what makes it worth it. The people around me and the music I love helps.

For a while, I couldn’t write. I worked on new music but couldn’t find the right words. But that time was just a build-up to the three months of expression that led to this album. I hope this music will raise awareness about where we are right now. About how we are living on this planet. About how we treat our neighbors. About community. About depression. About what can heal us and what can’t. About overmedication, overstimulation and manipulation. About respecting and loving the people around us, because one day they won’t be here-or you won’t.

But it’s also true that I’m still trying to figure this record out. People have told me that it’s confusing or that it’s messy-that’s fine. There’s so much pressure on artists to commit to being one thing, or to restrict an album to exploring just one subject or sound. But my life isn’t like that, and so my music can’t be like that either. I’m not thinking about this music as a product to be bought and sold, or how I’ll buy your interest. This is my world; a lot of friends touched this record, and that makes me feel lucky and proud. These songs are glimpses into my community. I’m exploring, but I’m not alone. It’s a journey in progress; it’s an experiment, every day.”

“QADIR” is a slow-burning and atmospheric single, centered around a repetitive and hypnotic arrangement featuring shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar, a sinuous baseline fluttering flute, stuttering beats and Hakim’s expressive and  plaintive vocals — and as a result, the track is a fever dream full of ache and longing, partially written as an ode to a late friend and an urgent reminder to check in on your loved ones before it’s too late. ”If I really sink into a recording, I don’t want it to end,” Hakim says. “[‘QADIR’] is repetitive and hypnotizing, like a trance — that’s intentional. The song is my ode to him. It’s my attempt to relate to how he must have been feeling.”

Recently Hakim and his backing band performed a socially distant rendition of “QADIR” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which features Hakim singing the song on a cartoon-background that’s one part hood, one part Sesame Street. 

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New Video: Acclaimed Scandinavian Artist Ane Brun Releases a Shimmering, Wistful, and Infectious Pop Banger

Throughout her 15+ year recording career, the acclaimed Norwegian-born, Stockholm-based singer/songwriter Ane Brun has been rather busy:  she has released 12 albums of gorgeous and cinematic folk and art pop through her own label Balloon Ranger Recordings, including her sophomore album 2005’s 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.

Now, as you may recall Brun’s forthcoming — and still untitled — 13th full-length album is slated for a fall release through her own label. So far I’ve written about two of the album’s singles, the cinematic “Trust,” which featured an atmospheric arrangement of strummed acoustic guitar shimmering synths and Brun’s expressive and plaintive vocals — and the ethereal and hazy “Feeling Like I Wanna Cry,” a song that expresses a deeply heartbreaking sorrow and sense of despair, centered around an uncannily prescient awareness of the dire and uncertain times we’re currently facing.  Interestingly, while Brun’s latest single “Honey” continues a run of ethereal synth-based pop, it may arguably be the most straightforward and dance floor friendly songs she has released from the album to date. Centered around shimmering synths, skittering beats, a sinuous bass line, an infectious hook and one of the more sultry vocal performances of Brun’s career, the song is full of wistful nostalgia and love for a past — and perhaps more innocent and naive — version of one’s self. 

Brun explains that “Honey” was inspired by a cassette tape she found of her 18-year-old self talking. “Her energy struck me, and I was was filled with love for this young, and in many ways innocent version of myself — this girl talking non-stop in a boundless flow of words and emotions.” 

Directed by Stefan Ekström, the recently released video for “Honey” is split between footage of Brun listening to music on her headphones and dancing to music through the streets of Stockholm and two dance crews of young women, who battle each other to the same music, being played on an old school boombox, back in the 90s. Although there’s a sweet and loving  juxtaposition between the young women and the adult woman, you can see the girl in the woman and the women within the girls. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Brothertiger Releases an Achingly Sad Visual for Shimmering “Livin'”

John Jagos is an Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed, JOVM mainstay act Brothertiger. Since he started the act as a sophomore at  Ohio State University, Jagos has released a handful of EPs including his critically applauded debut Vision Tunnels EP and  Out of Touch, which featured  “Out of Touch” and “Beyond The Infinite,” and last year’s A Chain of Islands EP, as well as three full-length albums 2012’s Golden Years, 2013’s Future Splendors and 2015’s Out of Touch. Each of those efforts helped to establish Jagos sound — a sound influenced by Tears for Fears,  St. Lucia, Washed Out and In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy.

Jagos has also released a Tears for Fears cover album, 2017’s Brothertiger Plays: Tears for Fears’ Songs from The Big Chair and a collection of instrumental material, Fundamentals, Vol. 1. Slated for a September 11, 2020 release, Jagos forthcoming Brothertiger effort Paradise is his first full-length album of original material in five years. “This record was, for me, the culmination of a lot of time and development,” Jagos says in press notes. “Since my last album was released 5 years ago, I had been building on top of that sound, trying to make it even more dynamic and distinct. This record is also my most personal, and I think that shows not only in the subject matter, but in the choice of sounds as well. I find that in electronic music, you can capture an emotion honestly with synthesized sound, not just with lyrics.”

Sonically, Paradise Lost reportedly finds Jagos expanding upon the sound that has won him critical applause with the material ranging from hook-driven indie pop to club-thumping electronica centered around the JOVM mainstay’s plaintive vocals singing lyrics that thematically touch upon aging, longing for purpose and celebrating life’s simple pleasures among others. Paradise Lost’s first single is the the ethereal and atmospheric “Livin’.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, a soaring hook and Jagos plaintive vocals, “Livin'” manages to recall Within and Without and Paracosm-era Washed Out — but at its core, the song expresses a familiar crisis to many of us: confronting the weirdness and uncertainty of life as you get older. 

Directed by Trevor Naud and made during COVID-19 quarantines, the recently released video employs digital and analog technologies as it follows a planetary rover as it lands on a planet teeming with life. Adding to the trippy vibes of the video, we follow things from the prospective of the rover: dispassionate yet curious until the rover has a major malfunction and essentially dies. 

“What if a planetary rover–destined to land on a dead planet–accidentally lands on a planet teeming with life?” Naud says of the video’s concept. “I wanted to keep everything very tight and almost impressionistic, where we see what’s happening inside of the rover’s “brain” interspersed with what it’s recording, and then juxtaposed with very high-definition nature show footage. Maintaining a jarring contrast between those worlds. Then, eventually, there’s a malfunction and the magnetic tape comes unwound.

We used all kinds of crazy filming techniques–from VHS to Cinema-grade digital, a semi-functional 1977 Commodore computer, a weirdo rig that allowed us to film with a lens rolling across the ground, and we snuck onto a closed freeway for the final shot.

What I like is that there’s an implied sadness to the rover. By the end of the video, you may feel something for it.”

New Video: Quebec’s Gaspard Eden Releases a Surreal Claymation Video for Shimmering “Pancakes”

Gaspard Eden is a restlessly creative, emerging Quebec City-based singer/songwriter and musician. Coyote Records, will be releasing Eden’s full-length debut Soft Power late this year, and the album reportedly finds the Quebec City-based singer/songwriter and musician pushing his sound in a completely new direction while evoking a wide range of emotions through melodic landscapes and poetic lyricism.

Soft Power’s first single “Pancakes” is a slow-burning and brooding bit of jangle pop centered around an enormous hook, glistening and jangling guitars, Eden’s plaintive falsetto and an aching nostalgia for a seemingly simpler past that you can never get back — but while expressing the need and desire to have family around you. 

Directed by tattoo artist Phil Berge, the recently claymation video for “Pancakes” was created during COVID-19 related lockdowns and quarantines — and it draws from 90s claymation cartoons like Wallace and Gromit, Pingu and Soupe Opera among others. The video follows three characters — two men and a women — as they prepare various items for breakfast, including the namesake pancakes. Surreal things that could only happen in a claymation cartoon happen — figures morph into different things at will, as the characters make their breakfast. “There is certainly a romantic and nostalgic aspect to the idea behind this video, because all those who worked on this project grew up in the 90s, accompanied in their childhood by number of shows by television featuring animations of clay figures,” Eden says in press notes.

Additionally, the video is also influenced by Eden’s memories of browsing through his father’s collection of Beta cassettes, which featured episodes of The California Raisins. As a boy, the emerging Quebec-based artist was fascinated by the colors and textures. “By digging a little deeper into the history of the medium, we found artists like Bruce Bickford as a reference and we fell in love with [the] aesthetics,” Eden explains. “Phil Berge took me by surprise with an instinctive and creative script that perfectly complements my song,” the Quebec-based artist says. “He made this video a true work of art!” 

New Video: LOO & MONETTI Release a Trippy Visual for Brooding “Talk to me”

Initially starting his music career in the 1990s as the frontman and drummer of French alt rock act STICKBUZZ, French-born and-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, drummer and vocalist Christophe Menassier has composed scores for TV, commercials, movies and online features since 2001. And as a result of his work, he has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious and well-regarded brands, including Louis Vuitton, Jaeger-Lecoultre, Bulgari, Yves Saint Laurent and others. 

Over the past two decades, Menassier has been prolific: In 2003, he founded COLLECTIF K, a ten member band, which released one album, Resurrection. The following year, he released his solo debut, Marseille Marseille, a ten song album featuring compositions that were written to evoke life in the French Mediterranean city. 2008’s Picture Shop, a collaboration with Quentin Leroux that was inspired by American movies and it further established Menassier’s sound and aesthetic.

Back in 2011, Menassier and his spouse Ann Wisely founded LOO & MONETTI, an electro pop act that has released two albums:  2012’s Marla’s song and last year’s Broken Inside, as well as a handful of EPs and one-off singles. As a band, Menassier writes the music, using synths, keyboards and drums while Wisley writes lyrics and vocal melodies and contributes vocals — and although they have wildly varying tastes, their collaboration finds the duo effortlessly meshing their various tastes and interests. The French duo’s latest single “Talk to me” is centered around twinkling and arpeggiated keys, atmospheric electronics, thumping beats and Wisley’s plaintive vocals — and while being a brooding track, it may arguably be the most trip-hop like track in their catalog, with the track bringing Portishead to mind. 

The recently released video features old home movies and footage of people dancing and rocking out at shows. In many ways, the video is an eerie of the small joys we can’t have at the moment. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Mayflower Madame Release a Gorgeous and Trippy Visual for Menacing “Sacred Core”

Mayflower Madame — Trond Fagernes (vocals, guitar, bass), Havard Haga (guitar) and Ola J. Kyrkjeeide (drums) — is a rising Oslo Norway-based psych rock/post-punk act that can trace its origins back to 2011. The band’s hazy and smoky sound was conceived in and inspired by the band’s gritty surroundings: their first rehearsal space was a desolate, industrial building, which they shared with a local carwash company. After their formation, they quickly recorded a four-track demo. which led to the band being named “Unsigned Band of the Week” on one of Norway’s biggest radio stations. 

Shortly after their four-track demo, the band then spent the next few years touring and playing shows across Scandinavia, carefully honing their sound along the way. The band’s full-length debut, 2016’s eight track Observed in a Dream was brooding and icy psych rock with a dark romanticism. Based on the success of their full-length debut, the Oslo-based psych rock band toured across North America and Europe to support the album. The band followed Observed in a Dream with 2018’s Premonition EP,  four songs of apocalyptic love songs. 

Building upon a growing profile. Mayflower Madame supported Premonition EP with more touring, including the European festival circuit with stops in France, Germany, the UK and Eastern Europe. And as a result of the band’s touring schedule, they’ve shared stages with an impressive and growing list of artists including Killing Joke, Moon Duo, Night Beats, Psychic Ills, Froth, The Underground Youth, Crocodiles, Cosmonauts and La Femme. 

Released earlier this year through a collaboration between French label Only Lovers Records, Portland‘s Little Cloud Records and Parisian label Icy Cold Records, Prepared for a Nightmare, the Norwegian psych rock JOVM mainstays’ latest album finds them further developing their unique blend of psych-noir and post punk with elements of shoegaze and noise rock. So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles — the shoegazer yet menacing “Vultures” and “Swallow” — and while both tracks may bring The Black Angels, My Gold Mask, and Chain of Flowers to mind, they also evoke the dread and despair of our horrible sociopolitical moment. 

“Sacred Core,” Prepared for a Nightmare’s third and latest single continues a run of brooding and menacing psych rock, centered around swirling, shimmering and hypnotic guitars and a propulsive and muscular beat. Unlike its immediate predecessors, which were subtly shoegazer-leaning, “Sacred Core” is even more menacing, recalling The Black Angels’ Directions to See a Ghost while still being atmospheric. “‘Sacred Core’ is a song about getting lost, drifting away and trying to find the way back to your safe haven — guided by swirling, hypnotic guitars and an insistent heavy beat,” the band’s Trond Fagernes says in press notes. 

Continuing their ongoing collaboration with director Astrid Serck, the recently released video for “Sacred Core,” is centered around motion and stillness — and as a result, there’s gorgeous black and white footage of beaches and churches, movement in and around an old house, blinding sunbeams and footage of the band playing shows in Oslo and San Diego. “To me, the song is like an open landscape – it’s grounded, but at the same time moving. I wanted to capture that feeling visually with footage from windmill fields and beaches, where there’s constant movement — like a rhythm, as opposed to the solid ground. A contrast between motion and stillness. Something to hold on to as well as something loose and vibrating,” Astrid Serck says in press notes. 

“The core is what you hold on to. The motion is what you can let go. The sunbeams are blinding you, like a sacred light. The ceiling of a church is another symbol for sanctity. The moon is dancing, in disturbing ways, on the screen. In the video there is also an abandoned house, left with the door open. It´s a metaphor for the feeling of something that is lost, you can go back there, but only the memories are left. In addition there’s live footage of the band filmed from shows in Oslo and San Diego.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Palace Winter Release a Lysergic Visual for Anthemic New Single “Top of the Hill”

I’ve written quite a bit about the  Copenhagen, Denmark-based pop duo Palace Winter — Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born, Copenhagen-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager — over the past few years. The act can trace its origins to the duo’s mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work throughout a number of different projects. Naturally, that mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work, led to the duo working together. 

Coleman and Hesselager released their Palace Winter debut single in 2015 — but the following year was a breakthrough year for the Copenhagen-based duo: they released their EP Meditation and full-length debut Waiting for the World to Turn to critical praise from The Guardian, NME, The Line of Best Fit, and airplay from KCRW, KEXP, Norway’s P3, Denmark’s P6, as well as by BBC Radio personalities Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft. Adding to a growing profile, the duo have a Hype Machine #1 single under their belts, have opened for Noel Gallagher, and have made appearances across the European festival circuit, including sets at Guy Garvey’s curated Meltdown Festival, Roskilde Festival, Green Man Festival, Sziget Festival, Latitude Festival and Secret Garden Party among others.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Coleman and Hesselager released their sophomore album, 2018’s Nowadays. Arguably one of my favorite albums of the year, the album’s material found the duo expanding upon the sound and songwriting approach that won them praise, as they paired breezy, melodic, radio friendly pop with dark thematic concerns — in particular, the loss of innocence as one becomes an adult, with its accompanying tough and sobering lessons; the freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their live and destiny. But this was all underpinned by the inconsolable grief of profound loss. The album suggests a couple of things that I’ve learned about life in my 41 years : Life is ultimately about accepting immense, inconsolable loss as part of the price of admission, and somehow you have to figure out some way to move forwards, even its in fits and starts. And that a significant portion of our lives will be spent maneuvering the confusing push and pull between love and lust, with the prerequisite remote, anxiety, bitterness and loathing. Life is never easy and there’s never easy solutions. 

Palace Winter’s highly anticipated, third album . . . Keep Dreaming, Buddy is slated for an October 23, 2020 release through Tambourhinoceros Records — and unlike their preceding albums, . . .Keep Dreaming, Buddy’s material was written through a long distance correspondence as the band’s Coleman was residing in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain:“Caspar was sending me these synth hooks and drum loops from Denmark, so I started coming up with melodies and lyrical ideas to record into my phone,” Coleman says of the writing sessions. While Coleman’s lyrics were inspired by Tenerife’s unique landscape, drawing parallels between Mt. Teide, a dormant volcano, which also is one of Spain’s tallest peaks and the looming fear of a relationship disintegrating, Hesselager’s instrumental parts were inspired by Copenhagen’s landscape. And as a result, the album’s material is literally a tale of two cities.

“Top of the Hill,” which features a guest spot from Lowly is a perfect example of the album’s literal tale of two cities: shimmering and icy synths and thumping beats and an enormous, arena rock hook are paired with Coleman’s lyrics, which feature volcanic imagery to describe the broiling and bubbling feelings of dissatisfaction, frustration, deceit and distrust that come up in a failing relationship. And yet, throughout there’s the dim chance it could survive — even if it shouldn’t. 

Starring Carla Viola Thurøe, the recently released video follows the actor on a lysergic-tinged walk around Copenhagen’s parks and streets — and we see Thurøe’s attentive gaze shift from crystal balls to flowers, with the Danish actor carefully examining them and their texture. In many ways, the video mirrors Hesselager and Coleman’s writing process with Hesselager walking around Copenhagen figuring out the unfinished instrumentation and beats ins head and how they fit with Coleman’s phone recordings. 

New Video: AMAARA Releases Two Gorgeous and Dreamy Videos

Kaelen Ohm is a British Columbia-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, musician, actor and award-winning filmmaker. As an actor, Ohm is known for roles in AMC’s Hell on Wheels, NBC’s Taken, MGM’s Condor, Lifetime Network’s Flint and several others. In 2018, Ohm appeared in Charles Wahl’s short film Little Grey Bubbles, which premiered at ten Oscar qualifying festivals worldwide, including SXSW. The film was featured as a Staff Pick on Vimeo, earned best actress and best short film award nominations and received widespread praise from critics and blogs across the globe. 

Ohm is also the creative mastermind behind the the multimedia project AMAARA. Upon getting the news that she was cast a series regular in the new Netflix original series Hit and Run, Ohm left Calgary with six songs off her forthcoming album Heartspeak completed. Hit and Run was filmed in New York last fall and was filming in Israel and  was put on pause, four weeks out from wrapping up their first season as a result of COVID-19 quarantines and social distancing guidelines. 

Heartspeak, which continues her ongoing collaboration with Reuben and the Dark’s Brock Geier, is the result of ten days of stream-of-consciousness songwriting, recording and production in Geiger’s bedroom studio. Written completely by Ohm, the material can trace its origins to the British Columbia-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, musician, actor and filmmaker sitting at the piano or with a guitar first thing each morning until a song was found — with the two collaborating on production and instrumental work, spending each day laying down tracks. Written as a culmination of a life-changing heartbreak and the end of a marriage, the album’s material is a meditation on love, grief, freedom and self-evaluation. 

Slated for an August 14, 2020 release through Lady Moon Records, Ohm and Geier have released two singles from the album. “Awake,” a slow-burning and brooding single centered around shimmering guitar, twinkling keys, a soaring hook and Ohm’s plaintive vocals — and “Gone,” a decidedly shoegazey track featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats. And while respectively bringing Mazzy Star and Lightfoils to mind, both tracks come from a place of lived-in grief and heartache, accepting them as a natural part of life that one experiences and learns to live with — and through. 

The accompanying videos were directed and by Ohm. “Gone” employs a simple concept of Ohm performing the song by herself in the desert — but the video features a cinematic sweep that makes its creator seem tiny. “Awake,” features Ohm traveling a surreal and unusually empty New York. And while capturing the experience of wandering New York during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a commentary of on how the jarring experience of realizing one’s own illusion of perfection can be an awakening experience. 

New Video: Video Age Releases a Playful Visual for Shimmering and Upbeat Anthem “Aerostar”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the New Orleans-based act Video Age, and with the release of their first two albums 2016’s full-length debut Living Alone and 2018’s sophomore album Pop Therapy, the band — founding members Ross Farbe and Ray Micarelli, along with Nick Corson and Duncan Troast — received attention for crafting hook-driven material with a decidedly 80s synth pop-inspired sound.

Following the release of Pop Therapy, the band’s songwriting partners and co-founders Farbe and Micarelli were eager to write new material and continue upon the momentum they had just started to build up. The band convened at Farbe’s home studio to work on the band’s highly anticipated third album, Pleasure Line, which is slated for an August 7, 2020 release through Winspear, who recently signed the band.

Inspired by a vast range of influences including Janet Jackson, David Bowie and Paul McCartney, Pleasure Line finds the band crafting neon-bright 80s pop-like melodies to create an optimistic sound — with the material taking on a rosy hue.  “I’m often trying to create a more idealized version of the world I’m in,” Video Age’s Ross Farbe says in press notes. “In fact, some of that optimism may come as a result of both Farbe and Micarelli getting married this year — just a few weeks apart from each other. “We’re feeling the love,” Farbe says.

Written as a salve that protects against cynicism. the album’s material is meant to help the listener see and feel a world full of romantic potential. But the album isn’t centered around one-dimensional puppy love — it’s the sort of fulfilling love that’s complicated, confusing and never easy; but ultimately worth it. So far, I’ve written about two of the album’s singles — the dance floor friendly,  Tom Tom Club-like “Shadow On The Wall” and the slow-burning, Quiet Storm meets Prince-like “Pleasure Line.” 

Pleasure Line’s third and latest single “Aerostar” is a decidedly upbeat New Wave-inspired, bop centered around shimmering and squiggling synth arpeggios, propulsive four-on-the-floor, a sinuous bass line, angular guitar blasts and an infectious, dance floor friendly hook. Sonically, the track may remind some listeners of The Cars, Talking Heads, and others — but with playful references to cars and hitting the road with your buddies, playing tunes. “This song looks at the bright side of being on the road. We did a lot of touring for the last album and it’s something that really brought us closer together as a band,” the members of Video Age say in press notes. 

Directed by Zack Shorrosh, the recently released video follows the band and their adventures in their ’95 Ford Aerostar, shot in front of a green screen: we see the members of the band and the van as they travel throughout various locations, including the Grand Canyon, the desert and even space — and naturally, the video looks and feels as though it could have been released in 1985. “Once we found a green screen studio big enough to fit our ’95 Ford Aerostar, we hopped in and let the story unfold,” the band says. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Ganser Returns with a Contemplative Visual for Brooding Single “Emergency Equipment and Exits”

I’ve managed to write quite a bit about the Chicago-based post-punk outfit and JOVM mainstays Ganser over the past couple of years — and as you may recall, the act can trace its origins back to when its founding members Nadia Garofalo (keys, vocals) and Alicia Gaines (bass, vocals) met while attending art school. Bonding over a mutual love of The Residents, outsider communities and the work of John Waters and and David Lynch, t he duo developed a hands-on DIY craftsmanship that eventually carried over into their band — with the band’s members, which also features Brian Cundiff (drums) and Charlie Landsman (guitar) sharing writing duties and closely collaborating one all of their music videos and album art, as well as crafting visuals to accompany their live show. 

With the release of 2018’s full-length debut, Odd Talk, the Chicago-based post-punk outfit developed a national profile with the album receiving widespread praise for sound that some critics have compared favorable to Sonic Youth and Magazine paired with incisive lyrics critiquing larger social issues. Odd Talk thematically focused on communication breakdowns, the difficult of being understood, intimacy and avoidance. 

Building upon a growing profile, Ganser’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Just Look at That Sky is slated for a July 31, 2020 release through Felte Records. Thematically, the album finds the band probing the futility of striving for self-growth during chaos. The  songs evoke an all too familiar maniac worry  and dread and a generalized and overwhelming sense of doom with a sardonic specificity. The world as we know it is breathing  its last gasps and we haven’t a clue as to what will be beyond this.  The songs also acknowledge that we’re online all the time and that any given moment we’re inundated with too much  information about other people and other situations. We’re all generally a tweet, a status update or an Instagram post away from truly knowing what our followers and others really think about us. Shrug and laugh — even if it’s completely mirthless. And then admit that you’re emotionally and mentally drained. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about Just Look at That Sky’s first single, the tense and explosive album opening track “Lucky.” One part, Midwest noise-rock, one part post punk and one part art rock centered around rumbling low end, discordant blasts of angular guitar, thunderous drumming and Garofalo’s desperate howling, “Lucky” may arguably be the most urgent and uneasy songs they’ve released to date.  Interestingly, “Emergency Equipment and Exits” may arguably be the most atmospheric and brooding song they’ve released, as its centered around incessant and breakneck, four-on-the-floor, atmospheric synths, explosive blasts of angular and distorted guitars, a gorgeously plaintive melody and an enormous hook. 

Directed by the band’s Alicia Gaines, the recently released video follows Gaines as she just gives up and walks as far away she could from it all. We see Gaines as she walks out of Chicago and to the country — with her thoughts as company.While the video explores the possibility of finding greater clarity beyond our immediate reality — it also asks the viewer: What if you gave into that urge to walk away? What would happen?  “Sometimes everything gets too close, even when things are good, and you get this screaming desire to run away,” the band’s Alicia Gaines. “The song and video are both about feeling estranged from reality and choosing nothing over too much– the floor drops out, and you only have yourself to deal with.”

“It was very strange to be focused on not only the video direction, but also safety precautions during this time.”