Tag: Pavement

With the release of their first two EPs, which have received airplay on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6, the Belfast, Northern Ireland-based indie act Junk Drawer — Stevie Lennox (guitar, synth, vocals), Jake Lennox (guitar, synths ass, drums, vocals), Brian Coney (guitar, bass) and Rory Dee (drums, bass, guitar, synths, piano, backing vocals) —  have firmly established a unique sound that draws from Krautrock, post-punk and psych rock while earning quite a bit of acclaim in their native Northern Ireland: they’re the first DIY act to ever win a Northern Ireland Music Prize for Best Single with last year’s critically applauded “Year of the Sofa.” They’re also responsible for spearheading the independent Northern Irish music community with the acclaimed Litany of Failures compilations, which have become something of an institution. And adding to a growing national and regional profile, the act have toured across the UK and Ireland, opening for the likes of Mclusky, Built to Spill, Jeffrey Lewis and And So I Watch You From Afar.

The Belfast-based quartet’s highly-anticipated Chris Ryan-produced full-length debut Ready For The House is slated for an April 24, 2020 release through Art for the Blind Records reportedly finds the rising act channeling Pavement, Silver Jews and Beak> with the album’s material veering between slacker rock, post-punk, kraurock and psych across seven songs that thematically touch upon malaise, self-worth, the transience of mental illness and the fragmented and distorted narrative that it brings with it.

The album’s first single “Temporary Day” is a decidedly krautrock-inspired track, centered around an off-kilter and propulsive motorik groove, droning synths, blasts of fuzzy guitars and Jake Lennox’s ironically detached vocals. And while nodding at Pavement, the song chronicles a struggle with sexual identity and eating disorders and the string of the constant internalization of these issues on mental health. “‘Temporary Day’ is about having a temporary day of relief from all the horrible feelings I usually have.” the band’s Jake Lennox says in press notes. “The fog ascends briefly & I can think clearly for a time. Also about my face not being puffy from burst blood vessels because I hadn’t thrown up in a day or two.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter: @yankee32879 @williamhelms3rd

Instagram: william_ruben_helms

 

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

 

 

New Audio: L.A.’s Film School Releases a Brooding and Atmospheric Single

Earlier this year, I wrote about the acclaimed  Los Angeles-based shoegazer act Film School, and as you may recall, the act which is currently comprised of founding member Greg Bertens (vocals, guitar) along with Jason Ruck (keys), Nyles Lannon (guitar), Justin Labo (bass) and Adam Wade (drums) can trace its origins to when Bertens founded the band as a solo project in which he worked with members of Fuck and Pavement for the recording of the band’s full-length debut, 2001’s Brilliant Career. Ruck, Lannon, Labo and Ben Montesano (drums) were all recruited to compete the band’s first permanent lineup later that year.

2003 saw the release of the Alwaysnever EP, an effort that was recorded in Lannon’s bedroom and shortly after the release of the EP, the band went through a series of lineup changes — with the first being Donny Newenhouse replacing Montesano on drums. 2006 saw the release of their self-titled sophomore album, their first through renowned indie label Beggars Banquet. They also provided the music for a series of short films by Demetri Martin, known collectively as “Clearification,” which was used for an ad campaign for Windows Vista.

The band went through another a massive lineup change that featured Lorelei Plotczyk replacing Labo on bass, Dave Dupuis replacing Lannon on guitar, and James Smith replaced Newenhouse on drums and then relocated to Los Angeles before releasing their third full-length album 2007’s Hideout, which was primarily written by Bertens and recorded with Dan Long.

The band’s fourth full-length album Fission, which found the band exploring new sonic territory was released to mixed reviews by fans and critics in 2010. The band played what was considered their last official show the following year and went on an indefinite hiatus for several years before the band’s self-titled era lineup reunited for a one-off show at San Francisco‘s Bottom of the Hillto celebrate Newenhouse’s 40th birthday that focused on early material. Interestingly, the reunion eventually resulted in 2016’s June EP, which found the reunited band returning to their signature spacious sound.

Film School’s fifth, full-length album, last year’s Bright to Deathwas written and recorded as a labor of love, with tempered expectations, since it was the band’s first album in eight years. Recorded over an eight day period in November 2018 on the outskirts of Joshua Tree, CA, the album’s title is derived from text on a piece of art that Bertens had seen as part of an exhibit by Chinese students on the topic of global warming. As they were recording in the sun-blistered environs of Joshua Tree, the phrase “Bright to death” popped into Bertens’ head and it stuck.

Featuring four members of the band’s original lineup and Shudder to Think and Jawbox’s Adam Wade contributing on several songs, the album’s sessions came about almost by accident. As the story goes, Bertens was at a Fourth of July get-together and was grumbling to Justin Labo about a recent bout with writer’s block. In the ensuing months after recording the June EP, work and family responsibilities had seemingly zapped Bertens of his creativity. At the time Bertens joked “The only way, I could write is if I were out in the desert for a week.” A few hours later, Bertens received a phone call from Labo: Labo had the go-ahead from his wife and kids to go to the desert to write and record. Greg’s offhanded remark had awakened “a pent-up lust to make music the way we wanted to,” in Justin’s words. It wasn’t long before Nyles Lannon (guitar/backing vocals, also a dad) and Jason Ruck (synths) were on board, too.

As for the sessions themselves — after Bertens returned from his dawn run, the members of the band would hunker down in a small outbuilding that functioned as a simple studio. “It was perfect,” the band’s Labo said “We set up our laptops and fashioned a makeshift DIY recording setup. It brought us back to [2003] when we recorded the Alwaysnever EP in Nyles’s bedroom.” They would spend all day and most of the night working, taking breaks only to eat and to catch a few hours of sleep. “At some points we had two recording setups going simultaneously,” Labo recalls. “Greg and Nyles might be working on an arrangement or vocals, while me and Jason would be tracking keyboards and bass for another idea. We recorded for eight days straight, right up until the very last moment.”

Influencer,” the first single off the band’s forthcoming EP slated for release this summer was centered around four-on-the-floor drumming, buzzing and arpeggiated synths, shimmering, pedal effected guitars and anthemic hook — but delivered with an ambivalent and ironic detachment. “Go (But Not Too Far),” the forthcoming EP’s brooding, Turn on the Bright Lights-era Interpol-like latest single — and while being an atmospheric track centered around shimmering, pedal effected guitars, a motorik groove and a sinuous hook, the song possesses a bittersweet and wistful air.

Last month, I wrote about the up-and-coming Tel Aviv, Israel-based indie rock quartet Document, and as you may recall, the band, which is comprised of Nir Ben Jacob (vocals, guitar), Yanniv Brenner (Guitar), Amit David (Bass) and Amir Reich (Drums) can trace their origins to 2008. Once Jacob and finished college, he moved back to Tel Aviv and began hanging out with his cousin and a couple of his friends. And as bored 20-somethings, who were the only ones among their peers listening to Wire, The Fall, Fugazi, Dinosaur, Jr. and others, they decided to start a band and to write and play music together. In their native Israel, the indie rock quartet have developed a reputation for writing material that focuses on our obsessions with technology and our increasing disconnection with others, dealing with soulless bureaucracy and corruption, the seemingly endless banality of modern life, and the constant oscillating anxiety, outrage, hope and joy that many of us feel on a regular basis.

Hustle” off the band’s soon-to-be released album The Void Repeats focuses on the sort of digital addiction that removes you from connecting with others or from being in that particular moment; where a screen is an extension of one’s self and one’s life. Some time ago, I was sitting in a Center City, Philadelphia bar, chatting with a couple of very lovely locals but at some point the conversation stopped as they began to focus on Snapchatting into the internet void. As the band’s Nir Ben Jacob said of the song at the time, “Phones are the roots that allow us to be connected to everything else. We‘ve rooted ourselves in our modernity. Our identities can change online. We project what we want others to see. The screen has become a mirror. The phone takes away the ability to be intimate, and you are left alone with a distortion of reality. There’s the addiction of immediate gratification, the online approvals are ‘pseudo-pleasure’. This has all led to pointless compulsive behavior.”  Sonically speaking, the song is a scuzzy and angular post-punk single that’s clearly influenced by the likes of Wire and Gang of Four but it bristles with an ironic and incredibly post modern awareness while possessing incredibly tight, infectious hooks and a cool, self-assuredness beyond their relative youth.
The up-and-coming Israeli band’s latest and last single “Red Tape” as the band’s Jacob explains “refers to dealing with bureaucracy — specifically government agencies that are meant to serve the people, when in fact, they have made things so extremely complicated that you are lost and get screwed over if you’re not careful.” Sonically, while the song finds the band drawing from the hook-laden anthemic, garage rock and guitar rock of Pavement and others; but underneath the surface the song bristles with the bitter frustration of recognizing that you’re getting fucked over, and that no one who’s supposed to help you will help.

 

Live Footage: Ulrika Spacek Performs “Mimi Pretend” at Tapetown Studios

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for bit, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring Ulrika Spacek, and as you may recall the act, which is comprised of long-time friends and collaborators Rhys Edwards and Rhys Williams can trace their origins to a night in Berlin, when the duo conceptualized the project’s sound and aesthetic around their mutual love for Television, Pavement, Sonic Youth and krautrock. When the duo returned to their hometown of Homerton, they began working on their full-length debut, The Album Paranoia, which featured the 120 Minutes-era  MTV-like single “She’s A Cult,” and the shoegazer-like “Strawberry Glue.”

While on a tour across the European Union, the members of the band stopped by Aarhus, Denmark-based Tapetown Studios to participate in the Live at Tapetown Series, in which Sound of Aarhus and the recording studio invite touring bands to come in and do a live session; but along with the touring bands during their downtime would get a unique taste of Aarhus beyond the typical touring routines of load-ins, sound checks, tear downs, pack ups and van rides.

Last month, Sound of Aarhus released footage of the JOVM mainstays performing their  A Storm in Heaven and  A Northern Soul-era The Verve and The Bends-era Radiohead-like single “Everything, All The Time.” The second video from the live session is the shimmering and jangling shoegazer track “Mimi Pretend,” and much like its predecessor from the sessions, the video will further cement their reputation for crafting 90s alt rock/shoegazer songs but with a subtly modern sheen. 

Live Footage: Ulrika Spacek at Tapetown Studios Aarhus Denmark

Comprised of long-time friends and collaborators Rhys Edwards and Rhys Williams, the indie rock act  Ulrika Spacek can trace their origins to a night in Berlin, when the duo conceptualized the project based around their mutual passions and influences — namely, Television, Pavement, Sonic Youth and krautrock. And as the story goes, upon their return to Homerton, the duo began working on the material that would eventually comprise their full-length debut The Album Paranoia, an album which featured the 120 Minutes-era  MTV-like single “She’s A Cult,” and the shoegazer-like Strawberry Glue.”
Now, it’s been some time since I’ve personally written about them; however, the members of the project has been pretty busy writing and recording new material and touring — with their latest single “Everything, All The Time” managing to sound as though it nods at A Storm in Heaven and  A Northern Soul-era The Verve and The Bends-era Radiohead, thanks in part to jangling and distorted power chords, a propulsive rhythm section and an anthemic hook. And while among the most 90s alt rock-inspired songs they’ve released to date, the song reveals a subtle yet decidedly contemporary production sheen, along with a blistering urgency. 

While on a European Union tour, the members of the band stopped by Aarhus, Denmark-based Tapetown Studios to participate in the Live at Tapetown Series, in which Sound of Aarhus and the recording studio invite touring bands during their downtime to get a taste of the city beyond the routines of load-ins, sound checks, shows, tear downs and van rides — and it’ll include a live session in their studio. 

Jersey City, NJ-based shoegaze trio Overlake officially formed in 2012 and can trace its origins to when its founding duo, Thomas Bareett (vocals, guitar) and Lysa Opfer (vocals, bass) were bandmates in another, local hard rock band. Offer and Barrett began to bond over their mutual love of shoegaze and 80s-90s alt rock. After practices and rehearsals, the duo would spend time jamming together, and after about a year of jamming and songwriting, the duo recruited Nick D’Amore (drums) and recorded their 2014 full-length debut Sighs, which was praised for a sound that drew from My Bloody ValentinePavement and Sonic Youth among others.

Up until recently, it had been some time since I had written about the trio, but as it turns out the Jersey City-based shoegazers have been extremely busy as they’ve spent the past couple of years extensively touring across the US to support Sighs and the “Travelogue”/”Winter is Why” 7 inch and writing and recording their sophomore Fall, which is slated for a May 12, 2017 release through Bar/None Records. Reportedly, the material on the new album builds upon the massive and enveloping sound of their debut — while adding subtle yet gorgeous flourishes, including contributions from Claudia Chopek, who has worked with Norah Jones, TV on the Radio, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger and others, contributing piano and violin on a couple of songs. From the album’s first single “Winter Is Why,” the band has managed to subtly expand upon their sound — and while retaining the dreamy, enveloping quality that first caught attention, the song possesses a rousing, arena rock friendly, anthemic hook paired with Opfer and Barrett’s harmonies and some gorgeous guitar work that reminded me of A Northern Soul and Urban Hymns-era The Verve.

Fall‘s second and latest single “Gardener’s Bell” will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting dreamy bit of shoegaze featuring Opfer and Barrett’s ethereal and swooning harmonies, paired with shimmering and swirling guitar work, propulsive drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. And while continuing to be warmly, enveloping the song manages to be most 120 Minutes-era alt rock sounding song they’ve released in some time.

 

 

Comprised of its founding duo Thomas Barrett (vocals, guitar) and Lysa Opfer (vocals bass) along with Nick D’Amore (drums), who joined the band in 2015,  the Jersey City, NJ-based shoegazer trio Overlake officially formed in 2012 and can trace its origins to when its founding duo were bandmates in a local hard rock band.  Opfer and Barrett began to bond over their mutual love of shoegaze and 80s and 90s alt rock and after practices and rehearsals, the duo would spend time jamming together — and after about a year of jamming and songwriting, the duo recorded their 2014 full-length debut Sighs, which was praised for a sound that drew from My Bloody ValentinePavement and Sonic Youth among others.

Now, in terms of the JOVM universe, it’s been some time since I’ve written about the trio but as it turns out the New Jersey-based shoegazers have been pretty busy as they’ve spent the past couple of years extensively touring the US in support of Sighs and the “Travelogue”/”Winter is Why” 7 inch and writing and recording their sophomore Fall, which is slated for a May 12, 2017 release through Bar/None Records. Reportedly, the new album will build upon the massive and enveloping sound of their debut while adding some subtle flourishes as Claudia Chopek, who has worked with Norah Jones, TV on the Radio, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger and others, contributes piano and violin on a couple of songs. And from the album’s first single “Winter Is Why”  the band has continued to subtly expand upon their sound — while retaining a dreamy and enveloping quality to the moody proceedings, the song posses a m  a rousing, arena rock-friendly, anthemic hook and Opfer and Barrett harmonized choruses paired with some gorgeous guitar work that conveys a muscular and forceful insistence that reminds me a bit of A Northern Soul and Urban Hymns-era The Verve.