Tag: Oakland CA

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Wax Idol Release an Anthemic Power Ballad

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the  Oakland, CA-based indie rock act Wax Idols, and as you may recall that after 2013’s critically applauded album Discipline + Desire, the band went on hiatus as the band’s founding member, primary songwriter and frontperson Hether Fortune joined the equally acclaimed punk rock band and JOVM mainstays  White Lung. That was followed by a heartbreaking and life-altering divorce, which informed much of the material on the band’s critically applauded, third album, 2016’s American Tragic.

Informed by the one of the saddest and most difficult experiences of Fortune’s life, as Fortune explained that American Tragic wasn’t “. . .a sad album.The whole spectrum of grief is represented here — shock, pain, anger, loneliness, and then finding a way to work through all of that, and not only survive, and thrive. That’s what I was going through. I was kind of trying to save myself.” Fortune wrote and recorded every note and every single chord on the album, and as a result, it gives the album a deeply personal vision and point of view in which the heartbreak and grief at the core of the album is visceral and haunting — especially if you’ve ever experienced the dissolution of a long-term romantic relationship, as it evokes the lingering ghosts and resentments, the push and pull of longing, confusion and hatred towards that person, who may well never be in your life again; but it’s all underpinned by the recognition that if you’ve known love, you may know it again and again and again, and that somehow you’ll pick up most of the pieces and move forward. And while thematically being among the most soberING and thoughtful material Fortune has written, the material sonically is reminiscent of Too True-era Dum Dum Girls, Concrete Blonde, Siouxsie and the Banshees and others.

Slated for a May 16, 2018 release through Etruscan Gold Records, Wax Idols long-anticipated forth Monte Vallier-produced album Happy Ending finds the band heading towards new thematic territory as the album finds the band exploring the abstraction and finality of death from philosophical, political and personal perspectives, continuing on the deeply personal tone and vibe of their critically applauded American Tragic. Additionally, the album finds the band continuing onward after a series of lineup changes with the band’s founding member and primary songwriter Fortune backed by Peter Lightning (guitar, bass, organ, piano), Rachel Travers (drums) and Marisa Prieto (bass, backing vocals) and The Mallard’s Greer McGettrick joining the band after the album was recorded. 

Now, as you may recall Happy Ending’s first single “Scream” was a rousingly anthemic, 80s-inspired post punk track with with a deeply personal, idiosyncratic vision, complete with some impressive guitar pyrotechnics that make the song seem as though the band drawing influence from Boy and October-era U2.  As Fortune told NPR, “Finding inspiration in one of my favorite poems, ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ by Dylan Thomas, I used this song as a vehicle to meditate on the concept of free will & how one could choose to exercise it even at the brink of death.” She adds, “The protagonist is someone who is young, madly in love AND desperately wants to live — though they know that they will not. They have chosen to use their final seconds, the only breath in their lungs, to scream out the name of the one that they love.” Interestingly, the album’s latest single  the mid tempo power ballad, “Crashing” continues on a similar vein as its predecessor as it’s a swooning and urgent ballad centered around twinkling piano, propulsive drumming and an anthemic hook with some gorgeous guitar work. Much like Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” and others, “Crashing” is the sort of song you can envision earnestly shouting along with a beer held aloft, with the knowledge of life’s fleeting nature.

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New Video: The Stark Sounds and Visuals of The Soft Moon’s “Give Something”

Luis Vasquez is an Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind the critically applauded industrial/dark wave/post-punk recording project The Soft Moon. Vasquez’s latest Soft Moon album, the recently released Criminal is reportedly one of his most confessional albums he has released to date, as the material is written through a stark lens of shame and guilt, in which the material thematically focuses on a man at war with himself, battling with self-hatred, insecurity, self-entitlement paired with the fear of those things transforming him into the type of person he normally despises.

Criminal’s latest single is the broodingly stark and atmospheric “Give Something,” a track that pairs his falsetto with thumping beats, razor sharp synths and industrial clang and clatter. Interestingly, as Vasquez explains in press notes, the track focuses on his inability to reciprocate love and tenderness to another person. “Having no control over the constant urge to sabotage all things that are good for me, there is irony and frustration in knowing that in the end, the impossibility of love is what ultimately will save me from my myself.” It’s a plaintive and gut wrenchingly urgent call for help from a deeply troubled, emotionally damaged yet incredibly self-aware person.

Directed by Kelsey Henderson and featuring video effects and color by Victoria Keddie, the recently released video for “Give Something” focuses on a split screen throughout — one the left, a topless woman with her back to the screen and a couple seemingly in the middle of intense coitus, with the same woman from the left hand side grabbing and scratching the back of her lover with a desperate, painful grip that leaves marks. At points the visuals go through stuttering visual effects that on one level makes it look as though the woman may be abusing herself  — or her lover — out of selfish motivations.

New Video: The Vivid and Surreal Visuals for Del the Funky Homosapien’s and Amp Live’s Swaggering and Mind-bending Collaboration

Born Teren Delvon Jones, Del the Funky Homosapien is an acclaimed Bay Area-born and -based emcee and producer, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he wrote lyrics for his cousin Ice Cube‘s group Da Lench Mob, which initially included the legendary West Coast emcee, filmmaker, screenwriter and movie star before they broke off into a distinct group of its own.

With the assistance of his cousin Ice Cube, Del released his 1991 solo debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here, an album that was a commercial successful largely due to the popularity of album single “Mistadobalina.” Del wasn’t pleased with the limited musical range of the album and severed his production-artist relationship with Ice Cube for his sophomore album No Need for Alarm, an album that introduced the Oakland hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics, which featured Souls of Mischief, Casual, Pep Love, Del and producer Domino while bringing the Oakland sound to a larger audience. Interestingly, the album is also considered instrumental for expanding what would become the freestyle-based golden era of hip-hop.

Although Del didn’t produce another solo album for about five years, he collaborated on the Hieroglyphics crew’s 1998 debut 3rd Eye Vision; however, by the time he was about to release his third solo album Future Development, his label Elektra Recordsterminated his contract. Initially, the album was only available as a cassette through the Hieroglyphics website before being re-releassd through the Hieroglyphics Imperium label in 2002; but before that, he collaborated with Dan the Automator and Kid Koalain hip-hop supergroup Deltron 3030 and their critically applauded, 2000 self-titled debut and along with his Deltron 3030 collaborators on two singles on Gorillaz‘s eponymous, smash hit 2001 self-titled debut — “Clint Eastwood” and “Rock the House.” He followed that up with his fourth solo album Both Sides of the Brain, and Hieroglyphics 2003 sophomore effort Full Circle. 

Since then Del has managed to be incredibly prolific releasing albums both through tradition labels, as free downloads and with pay-as-you-wish efforts with specific incentives for those who pay certain prices for the album, including a chance to collaborate with Del in the studio and so on.

Amp Live is a Texas-born, California-based producer and DJ, who is known as one of half to the hip-hop duo Zion I, and for critically applauded remixes of material by Radiohead, Tokyo Police Club and Jamie Lidell. And as a solo artist, he’s released two albums and an EP — 2010’s Murder at the Discotech, 2014’s Headphone Concerto and 2017’s Atmosphere EP and 2011’s Therapy at 3, a collaborative effort with Eligh.

Interestingly, Del and Amp Live will be teaming up on the forthcoming album Gate 13, an album that sonically draws from and mixes hip-hop, funk and electronica while finding two of hip-hop’s most inventive artists collaborating with Goapele, Eligh, Simi, Zyme, Adult Karate, Mr. Micro and James Melo, essentially creating a “portal into something progressive, futuristic, and fun,” as the duo says in press notes. Interestingly, the album finds the renowned emcee evolving his imitable style, as he studied both comedy and battle rap, with Del making a concerted effort towards conciseness. “I told Amp about it, and he kind of showed me what his interpretation of what that would be,” Del says in press notes. “When I heard it, I thought it was tight. I didn’t even know he was going to do it.” Amp Live adds “Del has been talking about doing more straightforward, aggressive writing. Everything that I was messing with kind of had the same theme,” the producer says of the album’s tracks. “Even when I flipped them after, I tried to stay true to the original feeling.”
“Wheel of Fortune,” Gate 13‘s first single begins with a thumping, boom-bap beats and arpeggiated synths and Del’s imitable flow, complete with some of the most ridiculous word play, complex rhyme schemes and insanely funny punch lines you’ll hear in some time, as he throws massive haymakers at any and all who dare to battle him. About halfway through the track Amp Live drops a dub reggae break, which he follows with a manic tempo — and throughout Del effortlessly and dexterously handles it in a free flowing, almost mischievous fashion. Dope emcees being challenged by dope producers is what all hip-hop should aspire to, no matter what the era.

Shot and edited by Spencer Groshong at Ineffable Music Group, the video employs neon bright visuals and the sort of special effects reminiscent of a wildly psychedelic Sesame Street and 3,2,1 Contact.

 

Born Teren Delvon Jones, Del the Funky Homosapien is an acclaimed Bay Area-born and -based emcee and producer, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he wrote lyrics for his cousin Ice Cube‘s group Da Lench Mob, which initially included the legendary West Coast emcee, filmmaker, screenwriter and movie star before they broke off into a distinct group of its own.

With the assistance of his cousin Ice Cube, Del released his 1991 solo debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here, an album that was a commercial successful largely due to the popularity of album single “Mistadobalina.” Del wasn’t pleased with the limited musical range of the album and severed his production-artist relationship with Ice Cube for his sophomore album No Need for Alarm, an album that introduced the Oakland hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics, which featured Souls of Mischief, Casual, Pep Love, Del and producer Domino while bringing the Oakland sound to a larger audience. Interestingly, the album is also considered instrumental for expanding what would become the freestyle-based golden era of hip-hop.

Although Del didn’t produce another solo album for about five years, he collaborated on the Hieroglyphics crew’s 1998 debut 3rd Eye Vision; however, by the time he was about to release his third solo album Future Development, his label Elektra Records terminated his contract. Initially, the album was only available as a cassette through the Hieroglyphics website before being re-releassd through the Hieroglyphics Imperium label in 2002; but before that, he collaborated with Dan the Automator and Kid Koala in hip-hop supergroup Deltron 3030 and their critically applauded, 2000 self-titled debut and along with his Deltron 3030 collaborators on two singles on Gorillaz‘s eponymous, smash hit 2001 self-titled debut — “Clint Eastwood” and “Rock the House.” He followed that up with his fourth solo album Both Sides of the Brain, and Hieroglyphics 2003 sophomore effort Full Circle. 

Since then Del has managed to be incredibly prolific releasing albums both through tradition labels, as free downloads and with pay-as-you-wish efforts with specific incentives for those who pay certain prices for the album, including a chance to collaborate with Del in the studio and so on.

Amp Live is a Texas-born, California-based producer and DJ, who is known as one of half to the hip-hop duo Zion I, and for critically applauded remixes of material by Radiohead, Tokyo Police Club and Jamie Lidell. And as a solo artist, he’s released two albums and an EP — 2010’s Murder at the Discotech, 2014’s Headphone Concerto and 2017’s Atmosphere EP and 2011’s Therapy at 3, a collaborative effort with Eligh.

 

Interestingly, Del and Amp Live will be teaming up on the forthcoming album Gate 13, an album that sonically draws from and mixes hip-hop, funk and electronica while finding two of hip-hop’s most inventive artists collaborating with Goapele, Eligh, Simi, Zyme, Adult Karate, Mr. Micro and James Melo, essentially creating a “portal into something progressive, futuristic, and fun,” as the duo says in press notes. Interestingly, the album finds the renowned emcee evolving his imitable style, as he studied both comedy and battle rap, with Del making a concerted effort towards conciseness. “I told Amp about it, and he kind of showed me what his interpretation of what that would be,” Del says in press notes. “When I heard it, I thought it was tight. I didn’t even know he was going to do it.” Amp Live adds “Del has been talking about doing more straightforward, aggressive writing. Everything that I was messing with kind of had the same theme,” the producer says of the album’s tracks. “Even when I flipped them after, I tried to stay true to the original feeling.”

“Wheel of Fortune,” Gate 13‘s first single begins with a thumping, boom-bap beats and arpeggiated synths and Del’s imitable flow, complete with some of the most ridiculous word play, complex rhyme schemes and insanely funny punch lines you’ll hear in some time, as he throws massive haymakers at any and all who dare to battle him. About halfway through the track Amp Live drops a dub reggae break, which he follows with a manic tempo — and throughout Del effortlessly and dexterously handles it in a free flowing, almost mischievous fashion. Dope emcees being challenged by dope producers is what all hip-hop should aspire to, no matter what the era.

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Sugar Candy Mountain Return with a Slow-burning and Contemplative Ode to Escaping an Anxious and Uncertain World

Currently comprised of founding member Will Halsey (vocals, drums), Ash Reiter (vocals, guitar), Sean Olmsted (guitar, synth) and Jeff Moller (bass), the Oakland, CA-based psych rock act and JOVM mainstays Sugar Candy Mountain can trace its origins to when Halsey, who had had stints drumming in several different Bay Area-based bands including The Blank Tapes, fpodbpod and Ash Reiter‘s backing band began the project as a bedroom recording project in which he initially wrote songs in the vein of of Montreal and The Beach Boys. Shortly after Halsey began the project, he recruited Ash Reiter, and the duo began writings songs together — with the duo writing decidedly psychedelic material, inspired by Reiter’s obsessive collecting of various effects pedals. Now, up until recently some time had passed since I had personally written about the act, and in that time, there has been a series of lineup changes with the band adding its newest members Olmsted and Moller, allowing Halsey to return to drums.
 
Slated for a May 4, 2018 release, Sugar Candy Mountain’s newest album Do Right is deeply inspired by our current, anxious and uncertain sociopolitical moment and is written as part travelogue and part response, while attempting to offer a much needed balm; in fact, the band has noted that nature is often where the band goes to re-calibrate their moral compass when it’s been frequently upended by the infuriating and demoralizing daily news cycle.
 
Sonically speaking the material on Do Right finds the band retaining the 60s and 70s rock inspired sound that first captured the attention of the blogosphere, centered around Reiter’s ethereal vocals; however, the new album finds them adding synths, which while subtly modernizing their sound, also manages to add an increasingly ethereal quality, similar to the likes of Pavo Pavo and Drakkar Nowhere — but dustier, and as though the gears have slowed to a grinding halt. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Split in Two” is a mesmerizing, hazy and slow-burning track that has the band inviting the listener to join them, and head to a quiet, beautiful place to escape the world as we know it. Perhaps on the other side, there’s something much better than this.
 
The recently released video by TG Eaton features the members of Sugar Candy Mountain playing the song in front of appropriately psychedelic projections, further emphasizing the trippy yet contemplative nature of the song.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Wax Idols Return with an Anthemic Single from Forthcoming New Album Inspired by Dylan Thomas’ Famed Poem

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the  Oakland, CA-based indie rock act Wax Idols, and as you may recall that after 2013’s critically applauded album Discipline + Desire, the band went on hiatus as the band’s founding member, primary songwriter and frontperson Hether Fortune joined the equally acclaimed punk rock band and JOVM mainstays  White Lung. That was followed by a heartbreaking and life-altering divorce, which informed much of the material on the band’s critically applauded, third album, 2016’s American Tragic.

Informed by the one of the saddest and most difficult experiences of Fortune’s life, as Fortune explained that American Tragic wasn’t “. . .a sad album.The whole spectrum of grief is represented here — shock, pain, anger, loneliness, and then finding a way to work through all of that, and not only survive, and thrive. That’s what I was going through. I was kind of trying to save myself.” 

Fortune wrote and recorded every note and every single chord on the album, and as a result, it gives the album a deeply personal vision and point of view in which the heartbreak and grief at the core of the album is visceral and haunting — especially if you’ve ever experienced the dissolution of a long-term romantic relationship, as it evokes the lingering ghosts and resentments, the push and pull of longing, confusion and hatred towards that person, who may well never be in your life again; but it’s all underpinned by the recognition that if you’ve known love, you may know it again and again and again, and that somehow you’ll pick up most of the pieces and move forward. And while thematically being among the most sober and thoughtful material Fortune has written, the material sonically is reminiscent of Too True-era Dum Dum Girls, Concrete Blonde, Siouxsie and the Banshees and others.

Slated for a May 16, 2018 release through Etruscan Gold Records, Wax Idols long-anticipated forth Monte Vallier-produced album Happy Ending finds the band charting new territory thematically with band exploring the abstraction and finality of death from philosophical, political and personal perspectives, in some way, continuing on the deeply personal tone and vibe American Tragic. Along with that, the album finds the band continuing onward after a series of lineup changes with Fortune being backed by Peter Lightning (guitar, bass, organ, piano), Rachel Travers (drums) and Marisa Prieto (bass, backing vocals) — although Greer McGettrick, best known for being in The Mallard as the band’s newest member, joining the band after the material was finished. 

Despite the lineup changes, the Happy Ending’s first single “Scream” is an incredibly urgent track that will further the band’s reputation for crafting rousingly anthemic. 
80s-inspired post-punk  with a deeply personal, idiosyncratic vision, complete with some impressive guitar pyrotechnics that make the song seem as though the band were gently nodding at Boy and October-era U2.  As Fortune told NPR, “Finding inspiration in one of my favorite poems, ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ by Dylan Thomas, I used this song as a vehicle to meditate on the concept of free will & how one could choose to exercise it even at the brink of death.” She adds, “The protagonist is someone who is young, madly in love AND desperately wants to live — though they know that they will not. They have chosen to use their final seconds, the only breath in their lungs, to scream out the name of the one that they love.”

New Audio: Jay Som Releases Previously Unreleased Single from Her Critically Applauded Debut

Melina Duterte is an Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, whose solo recording project Jay Som received national and international attention last year from the likes of NPR Music, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Stereogum, Paste, Consequence of Sound, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Spin, Newsweek, Exclaim!, Under the Radar and a number of others elsewhere.

Building upon a growing profile, Duterte, recently announced the release of two previously unreleased songs that were recorded during the Everybody Works sessions as a 7 inch single titled “Pirouette”/”OK Meet Me Underwater,” that will be officially released both on vinyl and digitally on January 26, 2018 through Polyvinyl Records. Both of these tracks were made during the spring of 2016 – the first demo stages  for Everybody Works. They were fun to write and record but felt out of place on the track list during the finalization of the album. These tracks remain close to my heart and I’m really grateful they’re finally out in the world,” Duterte explains press notes about her soon-to-be released 7 inch single. And as you’ll hear on A side single “Pirouette,” Duterte specializes in a jangling, hook driven, 90s alt rock inspired sound, reminiscent of The Breeders but with an incredibly bold yet breezy self-assuredness.  

New Video: Soto Voce Returns with a Sensual and Anthemic bit of Industrial Electronica Paired with Feverish Visuals

Late last year, I wrote about the Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo Soto Voce. Comprised of Oakland, CA-born, Los Angeles-based vocalist Miguel De Vivo, now known as Mia De Vivo and Colombia-born, Los Angles-based producer Kenny Soto, the electro pop duo can trace its origins to a mutual love of electronic much and industrial music, and to the duo having similar experiences as outsiders — De Vivo, who was born male, grew up gender non-conforming and was relentlessly teased and beaten up “for being like a girl,” and who recently transitioned. Soto on the other hand, fled his native Colombia with his family as a teenager in the 90s, after his port official father refused to collaborate with Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel. When he and his family arrived in the US, they were extremely poor.

Now, as you may recall the duo’s debut single “Better” was quietly released but within a few weeks of is release, the track grabbed the attention of the blogosphere for a brooding, cinematic and difficult to pigeonhole sound that some described with Sade-fronting Radiohead comparison; however, in my opinion that song possessed a deeply personal and aching plea for acceptance both within and without paired with a club-banging yet atmospheric production. And the video specifically focused on the tensions around the Black Lives Matter, Trans Rights Matter and LGBTQ rights movements, how politically and socially things are much more fearful and uncertain for many minority groups across the world.

The duo’s latest single “Pop” will further cement their reputation for crafting propulsive and forceful industrial-leaning electro pop that manages to be sensual yet rousingly anthemic and club-banging. But arguably it may be the darkest, most unhinged and urgent track they’ve released to date.

Directed by Jon Danovic, the recently released music video for “Pop” possesses a surreal, feverish, dream-like logic.

Chris Prythm is a producer, beatmaker and emcee, who’s best known as a member of ILL-Literacy, a hip-hop, spoken word and art collective with members, who split time between Oakland, Sacramento and Brooklyn. Prythm’s latest instrumental/beat-driven track “Gimme My Cash” is a swaggering, J. Dilla and Oddisee-inspired production consisting of hard-hitting, boom bap beats, a looped twinkling piano sample and a looped vocal sample that comprises the song’s infectious hook. And from listening to the track, it’s the sort of song that could easily get you in the mood to get your grind on and take over an industry or two.