Tag: Oakland CA

New Video: Violent Vickie Releases a Dark and Seductive Visual for Club Friendly “CIrcle Square”

Rising Los Angeles-based coldwave/darkwave/dark synth-riot act Violent Vickie — Vickie (vocals, production) and E (guitar, production) — have released material through Crunch Pod, Emerald & Doreen Recordings, Riot Grrl Berlin and LoveCraft Bar, which the act has supported with tours with Atari Teenage Riot’s Hanin Elias, The Vanishing’s Jessie Evans, Trans X, Them Are Us Too, Aimon & The Missing Persons. Additionally, the Los Angeles-based duo has played sets across the Stateside and European Festival circuits with stops at Insted Fest, Solidarity Fest, Shoutback Fest and Gay Prides and Ladyfests.

“The Wolf” was featured in a National Organization for Women film and she was interviewed for the documentary GRRL as part of the museum exhibit Alien She. And adding to a growing profile, Monster Alley was voted best album by KALX. Violent Vickie’s latest album Division was released last September through Crunch Pod.

Division’s latest single “Circle Square” is a dark, brooding, dance floor friendly bit of coldwave/goth-inspired techno centered around industrial clang and clatter, a relentless motorik groove, arpeggiated synths and Vickie’s achingly forlorn vocals ethereally floating over the murky mix. Sonically drawing from the dark techno songs that Vickie used to party to in Oakland warehouse parties, the track as the duo explains thematically and conceptually “is an exploration of the illusion of not belonging.”

Directed by Ex Corpse Art Collective’s AJ Strout, the recently released video for “Circle Square” was shot with the PhotoBooth app on Vickie’s computer during pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions. And while being made around a decidedly DIY ethos, the video employs the murky and trippy aesthetic that Strout has presented at goth clubs across Los Angeles.

New Audio: mxmtoon Releases an Atmospheric Cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”

Maia is an Oakland-born and-New York-based singer/songwriter, YouTuber, gamer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project mxmtoon. The 20-something artist, who’s Chinese-American on her mother’s side and German and Scottish on her father’s side — but culturally, she grew up Chinese-American. The Oakland-born, New York-based artist became interested in music at a very young age: her brother took violin lessons and while in first grade, Maia joined him. A few years later, she began playing classical cello and trumpet.

When Maia was in fifth grade, she auditioned for her school rock band. Expecting to audition to cello, she was asked to sing Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and wound up joining as a vocalist, eventually singing Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.” The following year, her father taught to play guitar. The Oakland-born, New York-based first used the name mxmtoon on her Instagram account, where she drew cartoon sketches for her followers.

While in junior high school things got interesting: she started her YouTube channel and began playing the ukulele. She wrote her first song when she was 13, eventually recording her original material in her parents’ guest bedroom, creating percussion tracks with hair straighteners and GarageBand. In 2017, she began releasing her songs on YouTube as mxmtoon. After somewhat unsuccessfully attempting to write comedy songs, she started to write sincere martial that embodied her emotions and feelings.

Although she initially released material secretly to the public, Maia was compelled to tell her friends and family after her work started to go viral. Singles like “feelings are fatal,” “Falling For U,” a collaboration with Japanese producer Peachy have amassed over 55 million and 40 million Spotify streams respectively since their release. Maia released her mxmtoon debut 2018’Ss Plum Blossom EP to critical applause from the likes of Earmilk, i-D and Hypebeast — with the EP eventually amassing over 100 million Spotify streams by the following year.

After graduating from high school, the acclaimed Oakland-born, New York-based artist took a gap year to focus on music and on touring: Her first tour, which was initially scheduled for five US shows with fellow Californian Khai Dream wound up being extended to a full-fledged tours of North America and Europe, including opening for fellowYouTuber Cavetown in the UK. Last year continued an enviable run of success for the 20 something artist: she released her full-length debut the masquerade and its follow-up dawn and dusk EP to critical applause while singles like “prom dress,” “bon river” and “fever dream” were certified Gold by the RIAA.

So far, the 20-something artist has amassed over 500 million steams and more than 4 million followers including 1.4 million on TikTok, 846,000 on YouTube, 1.2 million on Spotify and 207,00 on Twitch, where she battled Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez in a live-streamed game of Among Us, which wound up being the first largest Twitch stream in its history. Interestingly, the past year has also seen Maia relocate to New York — and she made her NPR Tiny Desk debut, filming her set on the world’s largest desk.

Adding to a rather busy period, the 20-something artist and avid gamer announced her involvement in the next installment of the highly-anticipated Deck Night Games created, Square Enix published gaming series, Life Is Strange, titled Life Is Strange: True Colors. Maia will provide the singing voice for the game’s central character Alex Chen and provides musical backdrop for the game. Additionally, she contributes to the Life Is Strange soundtrack with a hauntingly cover of Radiohead’s beloved smash hit “Creep,” that replaces then guitars of the original with atmospheric electronics while retaining the song’s familiar melody. The end result is a cover that finds the 20-something artist grabbing hold of and pulling out the song’s desperate isolation, longing and self-deprecation in an eerie direction.

“Really excited to share my cover of ‘Creep’ by Radiohead!” mxmtoon says in press notes. “It’s nerve-wracking to make your own version of such an iconic and established song, but ‘Creep’ is a classic and i had so much fun being able to put my own spin on it. Hopefully other people can be inspired to make versions of their own favorite songs and put them out in the world to share as well.”

Oakland-based dream pop trio There’s Talk — Olivia Lee, Kellen Balla and Young Lee — have developed and honed a sound that balances elements of experimental electro pop and reverb-drenched shoegaze in a way that has drawn comparisons to JOVM mainstays Beach House and M83.

Thematically, the tiro’s work draws from Olivia Lee’s Chinese heritage and queer identity, while specifically touching upon family, both biological and chosen — and divine coincidence. But interestingly enough, their sophomore EP, last year’s Great Falls focuses on mourning, grief, memories and longing inspired by the loss of someone very dear to the band’s frontperson. “Grief does not cease,” Olivia Lee writes on the band’s website, “It becomes a sort of friend to hold, and a reminder that we are alive to honor, to remember, to be present, to have a future and to live it as fully as you could ever dream.”

Great Falls‘ latest single “Ascension” is a hazy and slow-burning track centered around twinkling keys, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, Olivia Lee’s plaintive and ethereal vocals and a soaring hook. Bearing a resemblance to Bloom and Thank Your Lucky Stars/Depression Cherry-era Beach House and SoftSpot’s Clearing, “Ascension” feels like a half-remembered yet vivid dream fueled by longing and life’s sad lack of closure in anything.

Currently based in Oakland, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lauren Hulbert has had a rather nomadic life, spending time living on both the East Coast and West Coast, as well as Thailand and Ecuador, among other places. Interestingly, Hulbert’s career has revealed an artists who has specialized in genre-defying diversity: as a child, the Oakland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was a classically trained pianist, who competed in Bach and classical festivals. As she got older, she taught herself guitar, eventually becoming a folk/pop artist, whose work sonically features elements of folk, alternative, country rock and pop — and thematically explores the human experience, while drawing from her own experiences. As a result, Hulbert’s work is deeply personal yet accessible, and reveals an article, who has her feet planted in the classical training of her youth and the folk and pop of her adulthood, while centered around her dreamy and soulful vocals.

Superbloom, the Oakland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s forthcoming EP is slated for an October 30, 2020 release, and some of the EP’s sound and approach was inspired by Hulbert figuratively blooming back to life: Hulbert suffered a serious foot injury while on a surfing trip in Indonesia. For the next six months, she was immobile and it was unclear if she would ever be able to walk again. Understandably, it was a very dark period for her — life as she had knew it, had seemingly ending and whatever artistic and creative momentum was quelled as a result. Fortunately, over a year later, Hulbert has healed and she credits the experience as terrifying but ultimately beneficial, as it forced her to reassess her life and align herself with what’s really important. Additionally, the experience has also made her much more grateful for her health and the opportunity to write, perform, and share her music again.

Superbloom EP’s latest single is the Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea-era PJ Harvey-like “Gone in One.” is centered around jangling guitars, propulsive and shuffling drumming, subtle Flamenco handicapping and Hulbert’s expressive vocals within an alternating quiet, loud, quiet song structure. Sonically and thematically, the song is meant to evoke the sensation of being pushed away and pulled back in a romantic relationship that’s dysfunctional and unhealthy — but while featuring a narrator, who develops the strength to run as fast as she could from it.

“This song is a vulnerable, personal account of unknowingly losing oneself in someone else, which is lonely, confusing, and scary,” Hulbert explains in press notes. “It was like being stuck in a fog not knowing how to get out, looking to others to show me the way but just becoming more lost. I was constantly running internally, but getting nowhere, until I was exhausted into total indifference and I felt like the real me had been erased. Eventually, I realized I was the only one that could really save myself, so I dug really deep and found the strength to get out, which was incredibly hard. I didn’t know when or how I’d heal, but I knew I was on the right path.”

Led by founding member multi-instrumentalist Candace Lazarou and currently featuring Noah Adams (bass), Silver Shadows’ Chase Kamp (drums), Jascha Ephraim (lead guitar) and Mel Weikart (keyboard), Oakland-based punk act Body Double can trace its origins to a period of intense grief and transition for its founding member: Lazarou’s previous band, underground noise rock act Mansion went through a acrimonious breakup in 2016, months before the tragic Ghost Ship warehouse fire. Simultaneously, Lazarou began rethinking and then disentangling herself from longtime personal relationships and with drugs.

Lazarou withdrew into her bedroom, creating material about intimacy and consent in the style of a drag mass attended by Brian Eno and Al Jourgensen. After being confined to vocal duties in Mansion, Lazarou desired and savored creative control, indulging in dramatic arrangement and hooks — and then she found a collaborator with Noah Adams, the band’s bassist and cowriter.

Slated for a September 18, 2020 release through Zum Records, the Oakland punk quintet’s produced full-length debut Milk Fed can trace its origins back to sessions with co-producer Jason Kick at Tunnel Vision beginning around 2017. Lazarou played most of the instruments on the album with Silver Shadows‘ Chase Kamp and Mansion’s Jeff Cook sharing drum duties. Last year, the band began playing live shows and expanded to its current lineup.

“The Floating Hand,” Milk Fed’s first single (and coincidentally, the band’s debut) is an angular No Wave-like take on post punk that seethes and bristles with the unease of someone, who has long been a square peg that has never quite fit in anywhere, ever. And while reminding me a bit of The Mallard‘s Finding Meaning in Deference, the track is fueled by lived-in personal experience.

“‘The Floating Hand’ is generally about competition, and your options for reacting to it,” Candace Lazarou explains in press notes. “I grew up in a few different countries because my dad was a Marine, and each move felt interplanetary: the language changed, what was good and bad changed, even the bugs crawling on the ground changed.  I felt at odds with conservative military culture and run-of-the-mill high school viciousness, and fantasized about one day finding a safe haven in punk and underground music.  It turns out that even amongst weirdos you’ll still see people undercut each other, and you might be a maladjusted alien regardless of scenery.  I wrote this song about a musician I thought was particularly nasty, and it ended up being about myself, which is what happens whenever I try to write a dis track.”

Oakland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jason Hendardy is the creative mastermind behind the post-punk/alternative rock/noise rock project Permanent Collection.  Since Hendardy started the project back in 2010, Permanent Collection has gone through a series of different iteration: the project’s debut EP, 2011’s Delirium was a collection of home solo recordings, which he supported with a number of solo shows and tours.

With the release of 2012’s full-length debut Newly Wed, Nearly Dead the project expanded into a full-fledged band with the addition of Megan Dabkowski (bass), Brendan Nerfa (guitar), Mike Stillman (drums), who were in the band for close to two years. By the end of 2013, the band’s lineup became more fluid as the band featured a rotation cast of collaborators that included Terry Malts and Business of Dreams‘ Corey Cunningham (guitar). The project’s 2013 EP No Void was written and recorded as a trio and after a series of touring to support it, Permanent Collection went on a hiatus with Hendardy focusing on writing music for other bands and several different creative projects, as well as work in video and sound design.

Late last night, Hendardy started to focus his efforts on writing new Permanent Collection material, and the end result is his soon-to-be-released and highly anticipated album Nothing Good Is Normal. All June digital sales of the new record, Nothing Good Is Normal, are going to the Anti Police Terror Project.

Clocking in at just under 2 minutes,  album single “Breakaway” is a mosh pit friendly ripper full of the scuzzy power chords, thunderous drumming, howled vocals and enormous hooks that brings JOVM mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers and The Jesus and Mary Chain to mind. Play loudly and mosh the fuck out. 

 

Sophie Allison is a Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded indie rock project Soccer Mommy.  Allison first picked up guitar when she was six — and as a teenager, she attended Nashville School of the Arts, where she studied guitar and played in the school’s swing band. By 2015, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began posting home-recorded songs as Soccer Mommy to Bandcamp during the summer of 2015, just as she was about head off to New York University, where she studied music business at the University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

While she was in college, Allison played her first Soccer Mommy show at Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Silent Barn. The Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist caught the attention of Fat Possum Records, who signed her to a record deal. After spending two years studying at NYU, Allison returned to Nashville to pursue a full-time career in music.

Upon her return to Nashville, the acclaimed Swiss-born artist wrote and released two Soccer Mommy albums — 2016’s For Young Hearts through Orchid Tapes and 2017’s Collection through Fat Possum Records. Her proper, full-length debut, 2018’s Clean was released to widespread critical acclaim, and as a result of a rapidly growing profile, Alison has wound up touring with Stephen Malkmus, Mitski, Kacey Musgraves, Jay Som, Slowdive, Frankie Cosmos, Liz Phair, Phoebe Bridgers, Paramore, Foster the People, Vampire Weekend, and Wilco.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was gearing up to be a massive year for the young and rising singer/songwriter and guitarist: she began the year by playing at one of Bernie Sanders’ presidential rallies and had joined a list of contemporary artists, who endorsed his presidential campaign. Allison’s highly-anticipated sophomore album color theory was released to critical applause — and building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Nashville-based artist had been gearing up for a massive year: she was about to embark one a headlining tour with a number of dates sold-out months in advance, along with that, she had lined up appearances across the global festival circuit that included a stop at Glastonbury. Additionally, she was supposed to make her late-night, nationally televised debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

With touring being on an indefinite half for the music industry, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist recognized that this was a unique opportunity to get creative and experiment with new ideas. Combining her love of video games and performing, Allison held a digital concert on the online gaming platform Club Penguin Rewritten with over 10,000 attendees, who all had to make their own penguin avatars to attend it. The concert was so popular, that her fans crashed the platform’s servers, forcing a rescheduling of the event. Allison has also performed a number of live streams events, including  NPR’s Tiny Desk At Home (which she kicked off) and Pitchfork‘s IG Live Series. And she also recently released her own Zoom background images.

Recently, Allison and company embarked on a an Bella Clark-directed 8-bit virtual, music video tour in which the band plays some of the cities she was meant to be passing through — Minneapolis, Chicago,Seattle, Toronto, and Austin. Instead of virtually playing at the more common tourist locations or a traditional music venue, the members of the band are mischievously placed in unusual locations: an abandoned Toronto area subway station, a haunted Chicago hotel, a bat-filled Austin bridge and more.performing album track “crawling in my skin.”

Continuing some wildly creative ways to maintain the momentum of her full-length debut, Allison recently launched a singles series, Soccer Mommy & Friends that sees some of her most accomplished friends and associates covering her work — and Allison covering their work. The singles series will see contributions from MGMT‘s Andrew VanWyngarden, Beabadoobee, Beach Bunny, Jay Som and a list others — with releases dropping every two weeks. The singles series first release finds the acclaimed Oakland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Melina Duterte, the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed indie rock act Jay Som covering Soccer Mommy’s “Lucy.”

Interestingly, Jay Som’s take on “lucy” turns the jangling guitar pop anthem into a shimmering and brooding track, centered around atmospheric synths, thumping beats and ethereal vocals that to my ears reminds me quite a bit of Air’s ethereal remix of Beck’s “Heaven Hammer.” “I had an extremely fun time recording the ‘lucy’ cover,” Duterte says in press notes. “Sophie has such a special way of entwining catchy melodies and sometimes dark chord progressions. I feel very lucky to be a part of this comp!”

All net profits from Bandcamp sales from the series will be donated to Oxfam‘s COVID-19 relief fun. Oxfam is working with partners to reach more than 14 million people in nearly 50 countries and the US to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 in vulnerable communities and support people’s basic food needs and livelihoods. As we’re all aware women and girls usually bear a disproportionate burden of care in a crises like COVID-19, and Oxfam has a proven record of helping women cope during and recover after these crises in ways that allow them to be safer and stronger than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

felte · Houses of Heaven – Dissolve The Floor

With the release of their debut EP Remnant, the Oakland-based electronic act, Houses of Heaven — Kevin Tecon, Adam Beck and Nick Ott — quickly established their sound: centered around layers of synths, guitar, electronic percussion and drums, the act meshes early industrial and techno rhythms with shoegaze melodicism and dub-influenced effects.

Building upon a growing profile, the Bay Area-based trio’s highly-anticipated full-length debut, the Matia Simovich-produced Silent Places is slated for a digital release through Felte Records on Friday and a vinyl release on May 22, 2020. The album’s material was written against the backdrop of the Northern California wildfires, expanding tent cities, the rampant greed and gentrification in San Francisco that has resulted in empty, luxury high-rises — and thematically, the album explores the intimate experiences that transpire within the chaotic and uncertain confines of everyday modern life.

“Dissolve The Floor,”Silent Places first single is the arguably the album’s most dance floor friendly song. Centered around a pulsing synth arpeggios, industrial clang and clatter, muscular techno beats, woozy tape delay, an enormous hook and  emotionally detached vocals, “Dissolve The Floor” recalls early Depeche Mode, Factory Floor and others — but with an underlying  and shadowy sense of menace and unease.