Tag: No Swoon

New VIdeo: Hamburg’s Seasurfer Releases a Surreal and Brooding Visual for “SOS”

Dirk Knight is a Hamburg-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and grizzled scene vet. Knight’s musical career began back in the 90s: his previous band Dark Orange was a pioneering act in the Heavenly Voices scene — and as a result, he collaborated with Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie. With his latest recording project Seasurfer, which he started in 2013, the Hamburg-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist eschews the traditional rock band set up and collaborates with a rotating cast of vocalists and musicians, who help flesh out the project’s sound. Through his first two critically applauded Seasurfer albums, Knight has worked with members of Trespassers William, Whimsical, Jaguwar and Last Leaf Down.

Knight’s third Seasurfer album Zombies was released last month through Reptile Music and the album finds the Hamburg-based act refining the sound that has won them fans internationally: while still retaining the fuzziness and layers of reverb, the German, there has been an increased focus on drawing from cold wave and dark wave influences — with the material employing the use of synths, motorik-like grooves, and synthetic beats in what the act has dubbed “electrogaze for dancers and dreamers alike.”

Written and recorded during tight pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, Zombies thematically crafts a dark and murky portrait of a society on the brink of annihilation. Interestingly, the album is the first Seasurfer album that features Knight playing and recording all of the instrumentation and contributing some vocals. The first part of the album finds Knight collaborating with singer/songwriter Apolonia. As the duo were putting the finishing touches on Zombies, they both had the distinct impression of the world completely losing its mind: Of course, there’s the fear and uncertainty of COVID-19; but there’s also self-serving political leaders ruled by greed, corruption and lust, as well as the largely ignored, yet unavoidable global climate catastrophe. And the entire ordeal made the duo feel as though they were zombies stumbling through a lost world.

Zombies also will feature a digital only eight track mini album release, The Dreampop Days, which finds Knight collaborating with Kirilan Camera’s Elena Alice Fossi. But in the meantime, Zombies’ latest single, is the dark and brooding “SOS.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, motorik grooves, thumping and skittering beats and industrial clink, clang and clatter, paired with Apolonia’s ethereal cooing. Arguably one of the act’s more dance floor friendly and seductive songs, “SOS” immediately brings 80s post punk and goth to mind — but while reminding me a little bit of No Swoon, Lightfoils, BLACKSTONE RNGRS and the rest of St. Marie Records roster.

The recently released video by JH Rochereuil.is spilt between gorgeously shot footage in black and white, stock footage, psychedelic imagery, digital fuzz, ubiquitous COVID-19 virus and color footage of a political protest/uprising. And it manages to further emphasizes the bleakness of its accompanying audio.

New Video: Jorge Elbrecht and Geneva Jacuzzi Take Viewers on a Journey to a Dystopian Future

Throughout his career, visual artist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Jorge Elbrecht has been a prolific, restlessly creative and inventive presence: As a member of the Lansing-Dreiden collective, Elbrecht developed attention grabbing interdisciplinary work. As the creative mastermind behind Violens, Elbrecht received attention for crafting slick and anthemic 80s-inspired New Wave and synth pop. And since Violens’ demise, Elbrecht has been busy as a go-to collaborator cowriting, backing and/or producing a diverse and eclectic array of artists including Ariel Pink, Tamaryn, No Joy, Ice Choir, Kirin J. Callinan, Frankie Rose, Gang Gang Dance and No Swoon among others.

Back in 2018, Elbrecht released a wildly ambitious concept album, which contained roughly and EP’s worth of songs from four very different projects sonically and aesthetically: the shimmering and sunny pop of Presentable Corpse; 90s hi-fi ballads with REMYNYSl; the icy, full-frequency pulse of Gloss Coma; and the choral-driven, thrash metal blasts and gasps of Coral Cross. And while each project was wildly different, the entire album is held together by a subtle yet noticeable through-line. Since then Coral Cross and Gloss Coma full-lengths have been released, as well as an EP Happiness.

Elbrecht’s recent prolific period has a complicated and strange backstory, which I’ll briefly summarize: According to press notes, much of the material that’s been released since 2018 was written over a roughly decade period. At some point. Elbrecht suffered a psychotic break with reality in which he became an increasingly reclusive, barely coherent, aged husk of what he once was. During that period, the acclaimed visual artist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer still managed to prolifically write and record material with a diverse array of collaborators — but he didn’t see much of a reason at the time.

The press notes suggest that as a result of this psychotic break Elbrecht suffered, his family, friends and supporters have settled upon one unified intention — “to continue playing Elbrecht’s music, keeping his tenacity, imagination and recorded daydreams alive.” From what I understand, more material will be released as Elbrecht has a substantial catalog of material to disseminate.

Elbrecht’s latest single “Perish” is a brooding yet campy 80s-inspired industrial/goth pop banger, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios and tweeter and woofer rocking beats, alternating boy-girl vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook within an expansive song structure. And much like all of Elbrecht’s work, the song should serve as a reminder to the listener: Elbrecht has an unerring ability to craft an infectious, razor sharp hook — while evoking a large sense of existential dread. Interestingly, the song is the second time that Elbrecht has collaborated with Geneva Jacuzzi — the first being “Guillotine,” which appeared on the aforementioned Here Lies.

Directed by Zev Deans, the recently released video for “Perish” is a campy and absolutely batshit visual placing the viewer in a dystopian future with its own weird and unsettling practices and mythology. : “Upon hearing ‘Perish’ and then reading the lyrics, I felt like I was tapping into something at once ancient and futuristic,” Deans says. “There are themes of existential dread at times, while the song maintains a very campy atmosphere. The gonzo sci-fi fantasy film Zardoz came to mind, and I re-contextualized the film’s aesthetic as a backdrop to Elbrecht’s own lore and imagery. A dozen or so sci-fi films from the mid 70s seemed to deal with enclosed utopian societies in the distant future, that all have uniquely bizarre relationships with death and immortality. The aesthetic of these films seem to almost always be delightfully horrendous. John Boorman’s Zardoz is, to me, the single-most thoughtful incarnation of this trend, while boasting an absolutely batshit aesthetic that few other movies can touch.”

Formed back in 201t6, the Brooklyn-based act No Swoon — Tasha Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt (synths) — have received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that meshes elements of dream pop, shoegaze, post-punk and ethereal wave. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year, you may recall that the JOVM mainstays have added their names to a growing list of acts like BLACKSTONE RNGRS, Lightfoils that have been pushing the sonic and aesthetic boundaries of shoegaze and dream pop as far as they possibly could.

2018’s EP 1 was written in Los Angeles during a self-imposed exile from the East Coast. For Abbott, a native of Ontario, CA, the idea was to get back to her geographic and musical roots: she spent a great deal of time driving around the suburbs listening to the goth and New Wave that her mom played in the car when Abbott was a little girl  (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, New Order) and the indie rock and punk rock of her teenage years (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes). Last year’s s Jorge Elbrecht-produced, self-titled full-length debut firmly established their sound. And while being ambitious and urgent, the material thematically touched upon the confusion, frustration and uncertainty of our zeitgeist with narrators seeking answers to questions that may never be easily resolved.

Of course, much like countless acts across the world, the Brooklyn-based shoegazers had plans for a national tour to support their self-titled debut — but because of COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions, those plans have been indefinitely scrapped. In the meantime, the band will be releasing a digital zine Cancelled Tour The Zine, which will highlight the bands and artists No Swoon would have toured with during their Spring 2020 tour.

Along with that, they released “Otherside (Demo).” Written, recorded and produced through social distancing guidelines, the track is the first bit of new song that the band since the release of their full-length debut — and it’s part of a batch of material that the band has been working on. Featuring Mitski’s touring drummer Jonathan Smith, “Otherside” is a slow-burning track centered around shimmering guitars, Abbot’s ethereal crooning, fuzzy synths and a soaring hook. But at its core is a yearning and unquenchable desire for something just out of reach, whether it be the small things that make us all so very much human like touch, sex, companionship — or the end to this period of pandemic disease, death, economic ruin and uncertainty.

100% of the proceeds from the single and the Canceled Tour The Zine electronic zine will go to National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), a collection of the country’s over 1,300 independent music venues fighting to survive through this period of historic uncertainty. Music is arguably one of America’s greatest exports — and perhaps even more importantly on a local level, your local music venue gives back in many more ways economically than what you may be aware. Livelihoods are on the line, here.

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Brooklyn Shoegazers No Swoon Releases a Slow-Burning Meditation on Alienation

Since their formation in 2016, the Brooklyn-based indie act No Swoon — the core duo of Tasha Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt (synths) — have received attention locally and nationally for a sound that meshes elements of dream pop, shoegaze, post-punk and ethereal wave. And interestingly, much like BLACKSTONE RNGRS, Lightfoils and others, the Brooklyn-based act have added their name to a growing list of acts that have actively pushed the sonic and aesthetic boundaries of shoegaze and dream pop.

Last year’s critically applauded EP 1 was written in Los Angeles during a self-imposed exile from the East Coast. For Abbott, a native of Ontario, CA, the idea was to get back to her geographic and musical roots with a great deal of time spent driving around the suburbs listening to the goth and new wave that her mom played in the car when Abbott was a little girl (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, New Order) and the indie rock and punk rock of her teenage years (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes).

Now, as you may recall, the duo’s forthcoming Jorge Elbrecht-produced, self-titled debut is slated for a November 1, 2019 release through Substitute Scene Records, and the album reportedly is an ambiguous and urgent affair that thematically touches upon the confusion, frustration and uncertainty of our zeitgeist. Naturally, the result is material that is at times searingly critical, frustrated and despondent everything from misogyny to global power imbalance and inequality with each of the song’s narrators seeking answers to questions that may never be resolved. The album also finds the duo collaborating with Robi Gonzalez, best known for his work with A Place to Bury Strangers and This Will Destroy You, contributing drums.

“Don’t Wake Up, Wake Up,” their self-titled debut’s first single and opening track was a Joy Division-like take on shoegaze, centered around layers of fuzzy and distorted power chords, a motorik-like chugging groove, an enormous arena rock-like hook. But at its core, Abbott expresses confusion, unease and frustration while asking uncomfortably familiar, large questions: has the world gone crazier or is it me? Is this real or is this some horrifying and unending nightmare? “Forward,” the album’s second single was a lush, synth-driven track featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Abbot’s ethereal cooing. And while being their most dance floor-like single of their growing catalog, the song expresses frustration about how we haven’t made progress on racism, sexism. homophobia, inequality and so on. “Faces,” the self-titled album’s third and latest single continues in the same lush vein of its predecessor — but it’s a shimmering and slow burning and meditative song that evokes a sense of alienation and disconnectedness that feels and sounds familiar.  

“Faces is the oldest song on the record and worked for us as a kind of pivot from the sound of the EP to the sound of the record,” the band explains in press notes. “We brought in a sampled synth and had more intricate parts and arrangements. Lyrically the song is about floating through a crowded city feeling disassociated from the people you see around and how specifically we begin to internalize that alienation. A day living in a city puts us in proximity to an insane number of people. And that number increases ten fold when you add what we see on social media. Yet so many of our friends are struggling with loneliness. It’s hard to build and sustain a close community. And in many ways, how we are forced to live in this city specifically makes connecting to folks difficult. The generally cramped apartments we share make it hard to have people over, and the struggle to pay rent make it hard to have income to go out. And this is beyond the general exhaustion so much of us feel from hustling.”

New Audio: Brooklyn Shoegazers No Swoon Releases a Shimmering and Lush, Synth-Driven Single

Since their formation in 2016, the Brooklyn-based indie act No Swoon, currently comprised of Tasha Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt (synths) have received attention locally and elsewhere for a sound that features elements of dream pop, shoegaze, post-punk and ethereal wave. Interestingly, much like BLACKSTONE RNGRS, Lightfoils and others, the Brooklyn-based act have added their name to a growing list of acts that have actively pushed the sonic and aesthetic boundaries of shoegaze and dream pop.

Last year’s critically applauded EP 1 was written in Los Angeles during a self-imposed exile from the East Coast. For Abbott, a native of Ontario, CA, the idea was to get back to her geographic and musical roots with a great deal of time spent driving around the suburbs listening to the goth and new wave that her mom played in the car when Abbott was a little girl (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, New Order) and the indie rock and punk rock of her teenage years (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes).

Now, as you may recall, the duo’s forthcoming Jorge Elbrecht-produced, self-titled debut is slated for a November 1, 2019 release through Substitute Scene Records, and the album reportedly is an ambiguous and urgent affair that thematically touches upon the confusion, frustration and uncertainty of our zeitgeist. And naturally, as a result, the material is at times searingly critical, frustrated and despondent over everything from misogyny to global power imbalance and inequality with each of the song’s narrators seeking answers to questions that may never be resolved. The album also finds the duo collaborating with Robi Gonzalez, best known for his work with A Place to Bury Strangers and This Will Destroy You, contributing drums.

“Don’t Wake Up, Wake Up,” their self-titled debut’s first single and opening track was a Joy Division-like take on shoegaze, centered around layers of fuzzy and distorted power chords, a motorik-like chugging groove, an enormous arena rock-like hook. But at its core, Abbott expresses confusion, unease and frustration while asking uncomfortably familiar, large questions: has the world gone crazier or is it me? Is this real or is this some horrifying and unending nightmare? “Forward,” No Swoon’s second and latest single off their forthcoming full-length debut is a lush, synth-driven track featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Abbot’s ethereal cooing. And while being their most dance floor-like single of their growing catalog, the song expresses frustration about how we haven’t made progress on racism, sexism. homophobia, inequality and so on. 

“You know when you’re talking to someone about how fucked the world is (in many ways) right now and they say ‘but it’s better than it used to be, we’ve come so far!’  I hate that, ‘we’ve come so far,’ it’s such a cop-out,” the band says in a statement. “Sure we’ve made progress, some things are better than before and some things aren’t. It doesn’t mean that racism, sexism, homophobia, abuse (the list goes on), doesn’t exist today or that climate change isn’t a real threat to the world. And if that all still exists, we still have work to do. And that’s what this song, ‘Forward’ stems from. That cop-out of an idea that things are better and great. ‘Are the clouds really breaking, or merely moving over?’ Meaning are we really making progress or is whatever problem just shifting, either to someone else, or in a different form.” 

Interview: A Q&A with Mike Bell Co-Founder of New Colossus Festival

Co-founded by three New York music industry vets and longtime friends, Lorimer Beacon‘s founder and head Mike Bell, Kanine Records‘ founder and label head Lio Kanine and Kepler Events and Piano’s Steven Matrick, the inaugural New Colossus Festival, which will take place March 7, 2019 – March 10, 2019, will feature more than 100 handpicked, emerging indie bands and artists from the US, Canada, the UK and the European Union. Interestingly, the new festival takes place the week before SXSW, and that was by design: the festival’s co-founders view the inaugural run of their festival as a stopover that will give these emerging acts an opportunity to play at curated showcases at 6 different venues across Manhattan’s Lower East Side and East Village (Berlin Under A, Coney Island Baby, Pianos, The Bowery Electric, Arlene’s Grocery, and The Delancey for fans and industry professionals alike.

Additionally, the festival will feature a Kick Off Party at Piano’s that features local shoegazers No Swoon, a full kick off day that features afternoon industry panels and an opening happy hour.

As co-founder Steven Matrick told BrooklynVegan last December, the festival’s co-founders are aiming for a CMJ-like vibe. “CMJ left such a vacuum, not only for independent music venues, but for bands all over the world that used it as a way to play New York City every year,” Matrick told BrooklynVegan. “We chose a very convenient weekend to try to bring back that opportunity. We’d also been discussing a way for these venues to work together again and resurrect the collaborative aspect of Manhattan’s music scene.”

I recently got in touch with New Colossus co-founder Mike Bell by email to chat about the  festival, its timing, what makes it different than SXSW and other festivals and more. Check out a playlist featuring the festival’s artists — and then the interview, below.

 

 

 

BIG

 

 

 

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WRH: You’re one of the founders of NYC’s newest festival The New Colossus Festival, which begins its inaugural run next week. The timing is interesting because it’s a week before SXSW in Austin. What inspired you and your team to do The New Colossus Festival? How is it different from SXSW or from the countless other festivals that will take place over the course of the calendar year?

Mike Bell: The timing is no accident. I’ve been pretty connected with the international music community for over a decade and felt that NYC could be more “available” to artists as they pass through and head to Austin. Putting international bands together with some great local acts in a showcase set-up seemed to be the best way to be more impactful for the artists vs. booking a show on their own.

The entire idea behind The New Colossus Festival is to present great new music in a live setting. That’s really it. We don’t have brands doing activities or headliners who don’t need to be “discovered”.

WRH: What will the average concertgoer get from the New Colossus Festival and its showcases?

MB: This festival has been fully curated in-house and we truly feel the quality of the handpicked line-ups will speak for themselves.

WRH: From the flyer, there looks to be about 100 bands playing showcases during the festival’s three days.  A lot of those bands are American or Canadian but there’s a fair amount of international representation. How were the participating bands chosen?

MB: We have a lot of Canadian acts! Speaking of which, we are doing an event Thursday night at Coney Island Baby featuring an all Canadian line-up headlined by Dusted (Brian of Holy Fuck).

Mostly, the booking decisions were based on bands we like and had relationships with their teams.

WRH: Everyone who has gotten into music is a fan of someone. As a fan, is there anyone that you’re looking forward to see at New Colossus? Are there any dream bands you’d love to have play the festival, if you had unlimited money, etc. etc.?

MB: There are some bands I’m absolutely planning on catching. In the spirit of creating a level playing field for all the bands who are performing, I’d really rather not call any out by name publicly. Come find me and I’ll tell you who I’m going to see. 🙂

WRH: There are also a number of interesting panels during the afternoon, covering a number of topics including the importance of an indie label, finding your own formula in changing landscape, obtaining a visa to work  and play gigs in the States, and mental health in music. How did you and your fellow founders find the speakers?

MB: We decided to do the panels as a way to offer the bands something more than just a stage to play on. This is for them to learn, network, and grow. The topics were chosen based on input from the industry and the panelists are mostly all friends of ours

WRH: There are a lot of moving parts in a festival, especially one that features as many bands as yours. How long did it take for you and the team to plan, book and promote it? When will you begin work on the 2020 festival?

MB: I teamed up with Lio [Kanine] and Steven [Matrick] fall of 2017 to do a TNC day party at Pianos which happened almost exactly a year ago. This was more or less a soft launch. The event we put together went very well and so we decided to go all in for this year. Planning for 2019 began pretty soon after our 2018 event ended in March. 2020 planning has already begun.

WRH: Venues like Piano’s, Arlene’s Grocery, Berlin Under A and others will be hosting showcases. How did they get involved? With the Sidewalk Café closing, is there an even bigger impetus for keeping the festival in the Lower East Side? Do you foresee participating venues in Brooklyn or elsewhere, like what eventually happened with CMJ?

MB: We started with Pianos and went to venues who were nearby with the idea that we wanted to present great new music from around the world. We do not plan to expand beyond a walkable distance and plan to keep everything as tight as possible.

The idea with doing this on the Lower East Side made the most sense to us. It’s the most music friendly neighborhood in the city even though venue closings have been happening. Historically, this is where many people from around the world came to and lived when starting out the US. There are so many creatives who got their start there from the mid-19th century on the Bowery to today.

WRH: Where do you see the festival going in the 3-5 years?

MB: Hopefully still going! We want to grow and are looking at ways of expanding in ways that make sense while maintaining our goal of putting the music first.

WRH: What’s next for you and your colleagues?

MB: A little rest a little reflection… then onto 2020 planning\

 

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If you’re a rabidly voracious music fan, who wants to brag about catching acts before anyone else heard of them, New Colossus may be for you — festival badges are for the entire 4 day and 3 night run are $50. You can buy a badge here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-new-colossus-festival-tickets-53519054934

I’ll be covering the inaugural New Colossus Festival. Check out the following social media outlets for my coverage, photos and more.

Twitter: @yankee32879

Twitter: @williamhelms3rd

Instagram: @william_ruben_helms