Tag: Pet Shop Boys

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Holy Ghost! Release an Intimate Behind the Scenes Visual on the Making of a Vinyl Record

I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based electro funk/neo-disco production and artist and longtime JOVM mainstays Holy Ghost! over the years, and as you may recall, l, with the release of the their first three full-length albums — 2011’s self-titled debut, 2013’s Dynamics and 2014’s remix album Work For Hire — the duo, which is comprised of Alex Frankel and Nicholas Millhiser received attention nationally and internationally. Building upon a growing profile, the duo have remixed the work of Katy Perry, LCD Soundsystem, Moby and a lengthy list of others; made national TV appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show with David Letterman; toured with the legendary New Order; and played sets at some of this country’s and the world’s biggest festivals including Coachella, Outside Lands, Primavera Sound and Bonnaroo.

Work, the duo’s first batch of new, original material in over five years reportedly finds Frankel and Millhiser attempting to revisit the freedom of expectations that was suffered through their earliest recorded output — and interestingly, the proverbial return to form partially stemmed from circumstances: the duo dismantled their basement Brooklyn studio and relocated to a small room that a few musician friends of theirs were renting about a doctor’s office (coincidentally, the same address where they mixed their full-length debut). Because of the room’s limited space, they pared their extensive gear collection down to two synths — a Yamaha CS-80 and a Mini Moog. “Not necessarily the bare necessities, but what would make for the most interesting limited palette,” says Millhiser. “David Bowiedidn’t have every fucking synthesizer on earth to make Low. He had two. And that’s one of my favorite synth records of all time.”

Slated for a Friday release through West End Records, the forthcoming album’s material will continue the duo’s long-held reputation for crafting each sound from scratch with an unapologetic, exacting precision — and it’s their analog approach to electronic music that heavily informs the songwriting, production and sound of the album. Interestingly, album single “Escape From Los Angeles” was centered by shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a motorik groove, ethereal crooning, thumping beats and a sinuous yet infectious hook — while seemingly indebted to From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk. Interestingly, Work‘s latest single “Do This” is another straightforward club banger that meshes early hip-hop, house music and disco in a way that recalls Sugarhill Gang, Nile Rodgers and Pet Shop Boys— thanks in part to arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, a two-step inducing hook and plaintive vocals.

Directed by the duo, the recently released video for “Do This” was shot on 16mm film by Jesse Cain and follows the entire process of recording and making a vinyl album, from the recording sessions at James Murphy’s Plantain Studios, to mastering at Heba Kadry’s Brooklyn-based mastering suite, to cutting the master disk with Bob Weston in Chicago, to pressing and packaging at RTI Pressing and finally to Amoeba Records in Los Angeles. It’s a behind the scenes look at the entire process revealing the professionalism and dedication of dozens of hard-working people that’s actually inspired by the famous Sesame Street “Making Crayons” segment. Originally aired in the early 80s, the clip made a deep impression on the members of Holy Ghost! “We wanted to document the ancient and very special process of making vinyl, from recording and mixing all the way to packaging and store delivery,” Frankel explains.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Holy Ghost! Releases a Funky Two-Step Inducing Single

I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based electro funk/neo-disco production and artist and longtime JOVM mainstays Holy Ghost! over the years, and as you may recall, l, with the release of the their first three full-length albums — 2011’s self-titled debut, 2013’s Dynamics and 2014’s remix album Work For Hire — the duo, which is comprised of Alex Frankel and Nicholas Millhiser received attention nationally and internationally. Building upon a growing profile, the duo have remixed the work of Katy Perry, LCD Soundsystem, Moby and a lengthy list of others; made national TV appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show with David Letterman; toured with the legendary New Order; and played sets at some of this country’s and the world’s biggest festivals including Coachella, Outside Lands, Primavera Sound and Bonnaroo.

Work, the duo’s first batch of new, original material in over five years reportedly finds Frankel and Millhiser attempting to revisit the freedom of expectations that was suffered through their earliest recorded output — and interestingly, the proverbial return to form partially stemmed from circumstances: the duo dismantled their basement Brooklyn studio and relocated to a small room that a few musician friends of theirs were renting about a doctor’s office (coincidentally, the same address where they mixed their full-length debut). Because of the room’s limited space, they pared their extensive gear collection down to two synths — a Yamaha CS-80 and a Mini Moog. “Not necessarily the bare necessities, but what would make for the most interesting limited palette,” says Millhiser. “David Bowie didn’t have every fucking synthesizer on earth to make Low. He had two. And that’s one of my favorite synth records of all time.”

Slated for a June 21, 2019 release through West End Records, the forthcoming album’s material will continue the duo’s long-held reputation for crafting each sound from scratch with an unapologetic, exacting precision — and it’s their analog approach to electronic music that heavily informs the songwriting, production and sound of the album. Interestingly, album single “Los Angeles” was centered by shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a motorik groove, ethereal crooning, thumping beats and a sinuous yet infectious hook — while seemingly indebted to From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk. Interestingly, Work’s latest single “Do This” is another straightforward club banger that meshes early hip-hop, house music and disco in a way that recalls Sugarhill Gang, Nile Rodgers and Pet Shop Boys– thanks in part to arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, a two-step inducing hook and plaintive vocals.  

New Video: JOVM Mainstays White Lies Release Anthemic New Single Paired with Gorgeous and Cinematic Visuals

London-based indie trio White Lies’s aptly titled, fifth, full-length album Five is slated for a February 1, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings, and while marking the trio’s tenth anniversary together, the album reportedly finds the British pop trio pushing their sound in new and adventurous directions paired with arguably some of the most deeply personal and intimate lyrics of the band’s entire catalog. Unlike its predecessors, the writing and recording process was Transatlantic, and included a trip to Los Angeles, where they worked on new material with Ed Bueller, who produced the band’s chart-topping debut To Lose My Life and their third album Big TV. Throughout the process, the band enlisted past associates and collaborators to assist on the proceedings including engineer James Brown, who has worked with Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters; the renowned producer Flood, who contributes synths and keys on a couple of tracks; and Grammy Award-winning Alan Moulder, who has worked with Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and The Killers to mix the album.

Now, as you may recall, the Snow Patrol-like album single “Time to Give,” was an ambitious song that clocked in at a little over 7 and a half minutes, and was centered around a lush yet moody arrangement of shimmering synths, a propulsive motorik groove, Harry McVeigh’s sonorous baritone and an arena rock-friendly hook — but underneath the enormous hooks was a song that focuses on a dysfunctional and abusive relationship from a real and lived-in place. In fact, the song feels so lived-in that it bristles with the bitterness and hurt that comes from being in a relationship in which you’ve left broken, fucked up and confused. “Believe It,” continued in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor as it’s full of enormous, arena rock friendly hooks while bearing a resemblance to Pet Shop Boys, Tears for Fears, Jef Barbara and Joy Division/New Order.

“Tokyo,” Five’s latest single continues a run of rousingly anthemic singles centered around enormous hooks, arpeggiated synths, razor sharp grooves and McVeigh’s inimitable vocals. And while the song reminds me of Tears For Fears’ “Shout,” “Change” and “Everybody Wants to Rule The World,” the song will remind the listener, that the British trio have an unerring and uncanny ability to write a triumphant, arena rock-like song. 

The recently released, gorgeously shot video for “Tokyo” was directed by long-time visual collaborator David Pablos and was shot back-to-back with the video for previously released single “Believe It,” in Tijuana, Mexico late last year. As the band explains in press notes “Once again we were lucky to work with David in Tijuana to create what is our best video since ‘Death’. His unique knowledge of the area affording us access into some of the city’s most stunning and bizarre locations helps bring to life his vision of stories of love and loss. Where in the world would you be able to film a scene of the band sat on a 4-story high nude woman? Tijuana, that’s where apparently and resulted in our favourite collaboration with him yet.”

Pablos adds  “As soon as I heard the song I knew I wanted to shoot the video during night time. Everything starts with us seeing scenes of life through windows from the outside, but once we go inside we discover nothing is exactly what it looks like or what it appears to be. Each window is a metaphor; more than a real space it is a representation of a mental state. But more than portraying the city, what was important was the human face and to capture the personalities of each one of the characters.”

New Audio: Acclaimed British Act White Lines Release an Earnest Power Ballad

Five, the acclaimed London-based indie trio White Lies’s forthcoming, fifth full-length album is slated for a February 1, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings, and the album marks their tenth anniversary together — and instead of resting on their laurels, the members of the trio decided that it was the perfect time to push their sound and aesthetic in new and adventurous directions. Along with that, the trio’s bassist and primary lyricist Charles Cave wrote what may arguably be the most deeply personal and intimate lyrics of the band’s entire catalog. 

Unlike its predecessors, the writing and recording process was Transatlantic, and included a trip to Los Angeles, where they worked on new material with Ed Bueller, who produced the band’s chart-topping debut To Lose My Life and their third album Big TV. Throughout the process, the band enlisted past associates and collaborators to assist on the proceedings including engineer James Brown, who has worked with Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters; the renowned producer Flood, who contributes synths and keys on a couple of tracks; and Grammy Award-winning Alan Moulder, who has worked with Smashing PumpkinsNine Inch Nails and The Killers to mix the album.

Now, as you may recall, the Snow Patrol-like album single “Time to Give,” was an ambitious song that clocked in at a little over 7 and a half minutes, and was centered around a lush yet moody arrangement of shimmering synths, a propulsive motorik groove, Harry McVeigh’s sonorous baritone and an arena rock-friendly hook — but underneath the enormous hooks was a song that focuses on a dysfunctional and abusive relationship from a real and lived-in place; so real, that the song bristles with the bitterness, confusion and hurt that comes from being in a relationship that leaves you fucked up and broken. Believe It” continued in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor  — full of the enormous, arena rock friendly hooks that have won them acclaim; but sonically speaking, it manages to bear a resemblance to Pet Shop Boys, Tears for FearsJef Barbara and Joy Division/New Order, as the song is centered around big power chords, shimmering and twinkling synths, a forcefully propulsive rhythm section and McVeigh’s baritone.

“Finish Line,” Five‘s latest single is a slow-burning, power ballad featuring an ambitious and expansive song structure with the song moving from Roxy Music-like atmospherics to big power ballad and arena rock-friendly hooks bolstered by powerfully earnest sentiment. But at its core, the song is about a young couple’s breakup negotiations, complete with bitter accusations and recriminations, regret, heartache and uncertainty. Interestingly, the song is a band favorite and as the band’s Charles Cave mentions in press notes. We are all hugely attached to this song, and really excited to share it prior to the album being released. Much like album-opener ‘Time To Give’, the track has an ambitious structure – one emanating from our love of Prog. At its heart, it’s a simple song about a young couple’s break-up negotiations, I like to hope the music itself takes the listener through the emotional ups and downs. It’s up there as one our best songs and we hope our fans think so too

New Audio: London’s White Lies Returns with a Rousingly Anthemic Single from Their Forthcoming New Album

Five, the acclaimed London-based indie trio White Lies’s forthcoming, fifth full-length album is slated for a February 1, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings, and the album marks the band’s tenth anniversary while finding them pushing their sound and aesthetic in new and adventurous directions, paired with deeply personal and intimate lyrics written by the trio’s Charles Cave. Unlike its predecessors, the writing and recording process was Transatlantic, and included a trip to Los Angeles, where they worked on new material with Ed Bueller, who produced the band’s chart-topping debut To Lose My Life and their third album Big TV. Throughout the process, the band enlisted past associates and collaborators to assist on the proceedings including engineer James Brown, who has worked with Arctic Monkeysand Foo Fighters; the renowned producer Flood, who contributes synths and keys on a couple of tracks; and Grammy Award-winning Alan Moulder, who has worked with Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and The Killers to mix the album.

Now, as you may recall, the Snow Patrol-like album single “Time to Give,” was an ambitious song that clocked in at a little over 7 and a half minutes, and was centered around a lush yet moody arrangement of shimmering synths, a propulsive motorik groove, Harry McVeigh’s sonorous baritone and an arena rock-friendly hook — but underneath the enormous hooks was a song that focuses on a dysfunctional and abusive relationship from a real and lived-in place; so real, that the song bristles with the bitterness, confusion and hurt that comes from being in a relationship that leaves you fucked up and broken. Five’s latest single “Believe It” continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor as it’s full of enormous, arena rock friendly hooks — but it manages to bear a resemblance to Pet Shop Boys, Tears for Fears, Jef Barbara and Joy Division/New Order, as the song is centered around big power chords, shimmering and twinkling synths, a forcefully propulsive rhythm section and McVeigh’s baritone. 

Interestingly, as the band explains, the song is “about types of therapy, seen from a shifting perceptive of those passionate towards it, those skeptical of it, and those out to make money from it. We wrote it mid-way through the sessions and it became an instant favourite of ours. It’s a four-minute ‘no-nonsense’ singalong with lots of ingredients we’ve used before so we hope our fans will love it.” 

Live Footage: Acclaimed and Up-and-Coming Austrian Artist Inner Tongue Performs “2 Seconds”

Inner Tongue is the (mostly) solo recording project of a rather mysterious Vienna, Austria-based singer/songwriter, composer and musician, who grew upon an intensely musical home — his father is a saxophonist, who constantly wrote songs, so musical instruments were always lying around and his parents frequently shared their favorite albums with him; in fact, Inner Tongue formed his first band when he was 6. “We started out using one of my dad’s synths to play a pre-programmed beat,” he recalls. “I’d sing something that sounded to us like English.” Unsurprisingly, the Austrian artist, who cites Bjork, Moby, Portishead, Micheal Jackson, Sonic Youth, Radiohead, Pet Shop Boys, Aphex Twin, and The Cure’s The Cure In Orange as influences — although those influences don’t quite correspond to his own sound and songwriting approach continued playing and writing music, playing in a small number of bands, including one that had briefly worked with Duran Duran and David Bowie’s producer before getting dropped by their label. 

Interestingly, with the release of some of his earliest solo work, the Austrian artist quickly garnered comparisons to James Blake, Childish Gambino, Frank Ocean, Death Cab for Cutie, Sohn, and Chet Faker/Nick Murphy. His quietly released yet critically applauded 2015 debut EP Tz Ka allowed him to open for the likes of Ghostpoet, Everything Everything and others. The Vienna, Austria-based singer/songwriter, composer, and musician’s full-length debut Favours was released earlier this year, and interestingly, the album’s overall sound and thematic concern is inspired by a deeply personal yet remarkable story. Back in 2013, Inner Tongue was diagnosed with a rare vocal-cord disorder that was so severe that only a handful of specialists throughout the entire world were capable of treating it; but eventually his condition required surgery, which left him, for a time unable to talk. Understandably, the months that followed the surgery were emotionally and physically shattering but he began composing music again.  At the time, singing was out of the question and as the Austrian singer/songwriter, composer and musician says in press notes, “I decided to modify my musical focus temporarily by writing songs which could produce a melodic tension without vocals, but which featured the traits of forward-looking pop music. It was as if someone had pressed a resent button on the musical identity I had of myself.” Adds Inner Tongue, “I used to layer many sounds and melodies before, and felt like I hid the core of any idea behind that technique.”

Some of the Austrian artist’s full-length debut was made at home with most recorded in a friend’s stood in Vienna. Foals’ John Catlin, who collaborated with him on his 2015 debut EP assisted once again although his involvement varied throughout; however, as Inner Tongue says, Catlin “was continually involved as a producer and friend,” who also mixed the album with some further overdubbing where necessary. As the Austrian artist readily admits, the entire experience of writing and recording his full-length debut provoked ” “a lot of soul searching, trying to become a better mixing engineer and producer. I’m somewhat controlling when it comes to my music, and I need to get the little details right.”

However, unlike his debut EP, Favours was more of a collaborative effort, as he shared his ideas with a collective of very dear and close friends. “All contributions are built on a vision I initially had and then gain shape during the process,” Inner Thought says. His live backing band contributed much of the music with his father playing sax on “New York.” The live version of “2 Seconds,” Favours’ latest single features a sparse yet soulful arrangement centered around twinkling Rhodes piano keys and Inner Thought’s achingly tender vocals, which manage to express a plaintive, vulnerable need. It’s a delicate, sensitive yet incredibly sexy song that balances earnest emotion with deliberate attention to craft. 

Live Footage: Xiu Xiu Covers ZZ Top on AV Club “Undercover”

I’ve long been a fan of The Onion AV Club, as I think they’ve consistently offered some of most incisive and hilarious criticism of movies, movies and pop culture, written by some of the country’s smartest critics and writers. And it shouldn’t be surprising that for a long time I longed to write for them. Now, since moving exclusively to the interwebs, the folks at The Onion AV Club created the Undercover video series.  The concept behind the video series is pretty interesting — every season, the website’s writers and editors devise a list of songs that they would love to hear some contemporary artist or band cover.

The website’s staff then invites artists and bands over to their Chicago studio, where the invited band chooses a song from the AV Club’s list for that particular session — and then the band or artist records it in a live session. Here’s where things get truly interesting: Once a song is chosen and then covered, it’s crossed off their list, reducing the number of songs anyone else can cover that season, so if an artist or band is invited later on in their season, their choices may be much more limited than a band that was invited earlier. By doing that, it prevents having several invited artists or bands from covering the same sets of songs over and and over and over again.

And while revealing the influences and tastes of many contemporary acts, it also forces artists out of their confront zones, sometimes to a gloriously weird result — such as  They Might Be Giants’ boisterous  cover of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and Screaming Females‘ feral, punk rock cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Gwar’s thrash punk covers of Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams (And Into My Car),”  and  Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” which are so fucking awesome, that you need to check them out below) or to the “oh shit, I never thought that artist could pull that song,” like  Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater’s collaborative cover of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” And as you can imagine, sometimes the covers are straightforward — and other times, the band or artist brings a unique, never thought of take. Adding to the unpredictability of the series, they’ve had Shearwater cover Bowie’s Lodger in its entirety.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of this very strange year, you may recall that to start off the eighth season of Undercover, The A.V. Club invited the Seattle, WA-based indie rock blogosphere darlings Minus the Bear to their newly redesigned Chicago studio, where they played a forceful and lovingly straightforward cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.” Adding to a pretty interesting season of covers, The A.V. Club invited renowned and incredibly prolific experimental indie rock act Xiu Xiu into the studio, where they contributed a tense, manic, almost Devo “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”-like cover of ZZ Top’s smash hit “Sharp Dressed Man,” complete with a wild drum accompaniment that brings new life to an oft covered song. 

Along with their John Congleton-produced 11th full-length effort FORGET, which was released earlier this year, the members of Xiu Xiu will be releasing a split 7 inch with Italian band (r) and it’ll feature both bands covering ZZ Top. 

As Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart explains in press notes, “It took me a long time to come around to ZZ Top. When I was a kid i thought they were a joke band and their beards and campy sexuality freaked me out. Later on Xiu Xiu tours we would and still do always listen to the Black Flag tour diary Get In The Van wherein Henry Rollins mentions playing ZZ Top to all the punks in England, telling them it was the new Exploited record and watching them cry. 

This was funny and I thought hmmm .  . .

Then after watching a long jag of music documentaries, Billy Gibbons, of ZZ Top, time and time again was a commentator. He was always incredibly smart, clearly deeply devoted to the history of music and insane looking.  

We were asked by the AV Club cover’s series to play a song from a list they had chosen. Everything on the list was a bunch of 90s RnB that I was never into or lame-o indie rock EXCEPT for ‘Sharp Dressed Man.’

The stars had aligned. I had no idea what a radical guitar part it was and what a pleasure it was to learn, by the end of the song I had to have 4 different fuzz and distortion pedals on to make it as zonked out as it needs to be. 

Walking down the streets of Torino on tour and talking with dear friend and long time collaborator Fabrizio Palumbo of (r) and his husband Paul Beauchamp. I mentioned we were covering the song. They said very matter of factly, “‘Xiu Xiu as ZZ Top and (r) as ZZ Bottom. Let’s do a split 7 inch.’”

He sent in his perfect minimal, experimental, goth, cabaret version of ‘Gimme All Your Lovin.’ A perversion made in heaven was born. “

Live Footage: Minus the Bear Covers Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” on A.V. Undercover

Going back to their print days, I’ve long been a fan of  The Onion AV Club, as they’ve consistently offered some of the smartest, most incisive, funniest criticism of movies, music and pop culture around. Since moving exclusively to the web, the folks behind The Onion AV Club created the Undercover video series.  The concept behind the video series is pretty interesting — every season, the website’s writers and editors devise a list of songs that they would love to have contemporary artists cover. The website’s staff then invites a bunch of artists and bands to stop by their Chicago studio, where they have the invited band choose a song from the AV Club’s list for that season — and then they record it in a live session. Now, here’s where things get really interesting: Once a song is chosen and then covered, it’s crossed off their list, reducing the number of songs anyone else can cover that season, so if an artist or band is invited later on in their season, their choices may be much more limited than a band that was invited earlier. By doing that, it prevents having several invited artists or bands from covering the same sets of songs over and and over and over again. And while revealing the influences and tastes of many contemporary acts, it also forces artists out of their confront zones, sometimes to a gloriously weird result — such as  They Might Be Giants’ boisterous  cover of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and Screaming Females’ feral, punk rock cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Gwar’s thrash punk covers of Billy Ocean’s “Get Out of My Dreams (And Into My Car),”  and  Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” which are so fucking awesome, that you need to check them out below) or to the “oh shit, I never thought that artist could pull that song,” like  Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater’s collaborative cover of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” And as you can imagine, sometimes the covers are straightforward — and other times, the band or artist brings a unique, never thought of take. Adding to the unpredictability of the series, they’ve had Shearwater cover Bowie’s Lodger. 

To start off the eighth season of Undercover, the A.V. Club invited the Seattle, WA-based indie rock blogosphere darlings Minus the Bear to their newly redesigned Chicago studio, where they played a forceful and lovingly straightforward cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.”