Tag: Peter Gabriel

New Audio: Westerman’s Atmospheric Meditation on Moral Relativism

With the release of his critically acclaimed Bullion-produced debut EP, Ark, the London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Will Westerman, best known as Westerman, received national and international attention for writing material that thematically grapes with societal confines and other issues over a shapeshifting electronic backdrops. Building upon a growing profile, Westerman’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Your Hero Is Not Dead is slated for a June 5, 2020 release through Play It Again Sam and Partisan Records, across North America.

Continuing his ongoing collaboration with Bullion (a.k.a. Nathan Jenkins), Your Hero Is Not Dead was recorded in Southern Portugal and finished in London. Thematically, the album is about empathy and compassion, struggle and release, and all the ways we contradict and battle within ourselves on a daily basis — and as a result, the material is centered around moral, political and ethical gray areas with narrators, who attempt to resolve larger external issues by looking inward. Your Hero Is Not Dead’s fifth and latest single, “The Line” is brooding and atmospheric track featuring gentle layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, strummed guitar, the rising London-based artist’s expressive falsetto and a soaring hook. And while bearing a subtle resemblance to Peter Gabriel’s Security and Peter Gabriel 3, the song as Westerman explains was inspired by this thoughts on moral relativism.

“I was thinking about moral relativism when I wrote this,” Westerman says in press notes. “The ever-shifting parameters of what is and isn’t acceptable. This applies to many things – gender, human rights, parenting, politics. I don’t believe that this means there’s no right and wrong, but normative values are constantly in flux – hopefully as we continue to be more compassionate.” 

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New Video: Caroline Mason’s Surreal and Minimalist Visual for Brooding “If You Want Me To”

Caroline Mason is an emerging, Portland, OR-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and experimental electronic music artist, who from an early age has been drawn to find a connection between the depths of human emotion and how must has the ability to take us to those places within ourselves. 

Mason’s latest single “If You Want Me To” is a brooding yet atmospheric song centered around a sinuous bass line, reverb and delay pedaled guitar, gently accumulating layers of wobbling, arpeggiated synths, Mason’s plaintive vocals and an infectious, ear worm of a hook. Sonically recalling Us-era Peter Gabriel, the song thematically touches upon honestly facing oneself and pushing away old habits, old fears and old selves for a bold new future. 

Directed by filmmaker and stylist Christal Angelique, the recently released video was inspired by English fashion designer Gareth Pugh and finds Mason dressed up in a custom, futuristic piece made by Portland-based designer Kate Towers. And in the video we see Mason in the desert, accompanied by a marching army of her doppelgängers. Angelique wanted the piece to be relatable for anyone facing fears and parts of themselves that needed to go. “It is about overcoming the battles within so one can move into their stronger, future self,” Mason says of the song.  

 

With the release of their debut EP, 2016’s More Escher and Random Notes, the rapidly rising Helsinki, Finland-based indie act The Holy — Eetu Henrik Iivari (vocals, guitar), Pyry Peltonen (guitar), Laura Kangasniemi (bass), Mikko Maijala (drums) and Eero Jääskeläinen (drums) quickly emerged into the Nordic music scene, quickly developing a reputation for an enormous and rousingly anthemic sound that has drawn comparisons to Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel with Krautrock influences — and for an explosive live show. 

Cutting their teeth in their hometown’s small venues, the members of The Holy have built up a national profile, playing sets across the Finnish festival circuit, including Flow Festival, Ruisrock, Provinssirock, Iloasarirock and Lost In Music. But last year, was a momentum changing year for the band: The band’s full-length debut Daughter, which thematically touched upon  the 1990s Finnish economic recession and its reflection on the youth of its time received praise across Europe and Finland, resulting in an EMMA Nomination for Critics’ Choice.

Building upon a growing profile, the band has supported their recorded output with tours across Sweden and the European Union with festival circuit stops in Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Austria, playing sets at Eurosonic Nooderslag, Iceland Airwaves, Reeperbahn Festival, Where Is The Music, JaJaJa Music London, Berlin, and Vienna. Last year, the German/French TV channel Arte filmed the band’s set at last year’s Flow Festival in cooperation with Finland’s YLE — and KEXP filmed their Iceland Airwaves set, which will be published on their YouTube channel in the near future.

Slated for an April 17, 2020 release, the rising Finnish act’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Mono Freedom is a semi-utopian sci-fi tale, inspired by Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, which explores a number of scenarios of what would happen to Earth if humans were to suddenly disappear. Set in the somewhat distant future on a dying Earth, the planet’s last humans decide to gather their things, build a rocket and travel to the nearest black hole. They know that there is probably nothing out there but it’s one humanity’s last ideas and last hopes. All of this is seen as positive, not as a dark, hopeless dystopian vision.  

During our Daughter tour, I read the science book, The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, and I got inspired and sad at the same time. It seems that humans just took a leap in the evolution progress a million years ago and have been fucking things up since,” The Holy’s Eetu Henrik Iivari explains in press notes. “I started to play with an idea of a space odyssey of the last people on earth, eventually building a rocket and flying into the nearest black hole. And they just don’t make it. They are too dumb to make it. And that’s it. And after a few hundred years, Mother Earth doesn’t even remember it was once occupied by humans.

“And this eventually got me thinking about the Western way of life and the idea of freedom. How one-way, single-minded and boxed-in it is. When you wake up in a modern western city — there is almost nothing you can do that doesn’t rip somebody. It’s late modern capitalism, a jail built on the grounds of believing that you have a choice. And that you make a choice. But most of it is already aimed towards consumerism. We just like to think that we find things by ourselves, but most of it is given. And it’s just so frustrating. To do the right thing from one day to another and navigate in the middle of all this evil around us. 

But even though the theme is not the lightest in the world, I wanted the album to mirror hope and to be empowering. A friend for people having similar thoughts.”

Interestingly, instead of releasing a one-off single, The Holy have specifically released a double single “No Trial In The Dark” and “Twilight Of The Idiots.” “Twilight Of The Idiots,” the first single is an atmospheric yet enormous, arena rock friendly song centered around shimmering guitars, twinkling keys,  rousingly anthemic hooks and Iivari’s plaintive vocals, the song sonically brings A Rush of Blood to the Head-era Coldplay, Peter Gabriel and The Unforgettable Fire U2. And as result, the song finds the rising Finnish act balancing intimate observations with earnest emotions and ambitious songwriting. “No Trial In The Dark” continues in a smilier vein — and while being the most percussive and dramatic of the pair, it may also be the most cinematic of the pair.

“I wrote ‘Twilight Of The Idiots,’ ‘Swim,’ ‘The Rocket Song’ and ‘No Trial In The Dark’ very close to each other and we recorded those songs in the same sessions,” Iivari recalls in press notes. After that I knew what other songs should be on this album and the narrative started to be clear. We followed that path and never turned back 

“I feel that No Trial In The Dark and Twilight Of The Idiots do set the stage for the album. The first conflict and the hopeless overview of the modern times. I always wanted them to go out at the same time and they do follow each other on the album for a reason. They open the window to The Holy’s inner world of 2020 – way deeper than just releasing a regular one-off.”

 

 

 

 

Led by songwriter/producer and founder of Ice Queen Records and founding member Joseph Lekkas, the Nashville-based indie rock act Palm Ghosts can trace its origins back
to when Lekkas lived in Philadelphia. After spending a number of years playing in local bands like Grammar Debate! and Hilliard, Lekkas took a lengthy hiatus from writing and performing music to book shows and festivals in and around the Philadelphia area. When he started Palm Ghosts, the project initially began as a solo recording project and creative way for Lekkas to deal with a rather incapacitating blunt of depression and anxiety. Lekkas then spend a long Philadelphia/Northeastern winter recording a batch of introspective songs that he dubbed “sun-damaged American music” that would eventually become the Palm Ghost debut album.
After a short tour in 2013 to support the Palm Ghost debut album, Lekkas packed up his belongings and relocated to Nashville, enticed by the city’s growing indie rock scene. Once he settled in to his new hometown, Lekkas set up a small home studio in the guest bedroom of a rental house on Greenland Avenue in East Nashville, where he eventually wrote and recorded the sophomore Palm Ghosts album, 2017’s Greenland, an album that
featured elements of electro pop, folk and indie rock, influenced by his adopted hometown’s long-held “song-is-king” culture. 2018’s Architecture found Lekkas further influenced by the sounds of the 80s — in particular, Cocteau Twins, Peter Gabriel, Dead Can Dance, New Order and The Cure among others — although the album’s first single “Turn the Knife” to my ears, managed to bring New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen to mind but with male/female harmonies.
Palm Ghosts’ latest single “Wide Awake and Waiting” continues a run of material that’s deeply inspired by and indebted to 80s post-punk: this time, the new single brings Joy Division and New Order’s “Ceremony” to mind. And at its core, the song is centered around a similar aching longing, shimmering synth arpeggios and an angular and propulsive bass line.

 

 

New Video: Introducing the Dark and Atmospheric Sounds and Visuals of Brooklyn’s Linda Gardens

Linda Gardens is an up-and-coming, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and indie electro pop artist, who has started to receive attention across the blogosphere for an ethereal sound that meshes elements of dream pop electronica, psych rock and goth rock. Garden’s forthcoming EP Real Time is slated for release this summer through Liquorice Tapes. The EP’s single “Tubular Steel” is centered around an atmospheric production featuring shimmering synths and industrial-like drum programming paired with an infectious, razor sharp hook and Gardens’ etheral vocals — and in some way, the single feels and sounds like an uncanny synthesis of classic 4AD Records-era dream pop, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, and Kate Bush. 

Directed by Dan Foley, the recently released video for “Tubular Steel” is a moody yet feverish and lysergic dream that stars Gardens walking through a dark and smoke-filled room, lit in neon. At points, the visuals become kaleidoscopic with the visuals exploding into bursts of wild colors — while moving to the industrial-like beats.

New Video: The Gorgeously Cinematic and Symbolic Visuals for Blick Bassy’s “Ngwa”

Blick Bassy is a Cameroonian-born, French-based singer/songwriter, who released a number of award-winning albums with his backing band Macase, which culminated with the release of 2015’s Akö, an album that included “Kiki,” a track that was used to launch the iPhone 6. Bassy’s forthcoming album La Cigale is his first album in over four years, and it will be released through Nø Førmat Records.

La Cigale’s first single is the atmospheric and mournful “Ngwa,” which translates into English as “my friend.” Centered by a gorgeous horn arrangement, glitchy electronics and Bassy’s achingly tender vocals, singing in his ancestral Bassa language, the track sounds as though it were inspired by Peter Gabriel and Rubblebucket; but it evokes both a sense of profound and inconsolable loss and a mournful sense of missed opportunity from that loss that wonders “what could have happened if . . .?” The song is Bassy’s tribute to the heroes who fought and died for the independence of Bassy’s native Cameroon — in particular, Ruben Um Nyobe, the anti-colonialist leader of the Popular Union of Cameroon (UPC), who was murdered by French troops on September 13, 1958, just two years before the country became independent. Speaking of what drove him to write the song, Bassy says “Ngwa, I wanted to pay tribute to your fight, our fight, but also to your philosophy, where the values of equality, antiracism, anti xenophobia, serve emancipation and fulfilment for every human being.”

The UPC had been campaigning for independence for fifteen years, during which many people died — facts that had been subtly erased from the country’s history books by the French and Cameroon until recently.  Bassy wants to shed light on Um Nyobe’s story, saying in press notes,  “In school we studied the French version of what happened. The way I learned it in the books was that they were agitators, troublemakers. Which is wrong. Um Nyobé was in this movement hidden in the mountains, organising the Cameroonian People’s Union, and the truth about what happened has never been out.” 

Directed by up-and-coming South African director Tebogo Malope, the incredibly cinematic visuals for “Ngwa” was shot in Lesotho, and is a slow-burning meditation on the relationship between present-day Cameroon and its former French colonizers with Bassy embodying the spirit of Um Nyobe and the Cameroonian people. 
Speaking about the video – across which Bassy’s character is hunted down by French soldiers Malope says, “The narrative of Ruben Um Nyobé is one that resonates throughout the continent, one that is still grappling with the legacy of colonialism and attempts to redress the consequences thereof. This is echoed in the video’s initial scenes which reference renowned Kenyan renowned Author Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s book Matigari, where a freedom fighter lays down his arms for a supposed prosperous future where bloodshed shall be no more. Will he regret the decision? Another representation at the video’s end spawns from the images of a lifeless freedom fighter turning into a tree, reminiscent of South African political icon Solomon Mahlangu, who was killed by the Apartheid government. His last words before his death were ‘My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom.'” 

New Audio: Dan Mangan’s Spectral Cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”

Dan Mangan is a Smithers, British Columbia, Canada-born, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based multi-Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose music career started in earnest back in 2003 when he was 20 with the release of his debut EP All At Once. 500 copies were pressed and then sold or given away throughout the Vancouver area. Building upon the initial bit of buzz surrounding him, Mangan financially supported with a bank loan, recorded his Daniel Elemes and Simon Kelly co-produced full-length debut Postcards & Dreaming with the assistance of a small community of musicians, who offered cheap or free session work. Much like All At Once, Mangan initially released his full-length debut independently, selling the album online and at live shows; but by 2007, Vancouver-based indie label File Under: Music re-released the album with new artwork and a new, extra track “Ash Babe.”

August 2009 saw the release of Mangan’s sophomore full-length effort Nice, Nice, Very Nice. Deriving its name from a line Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, the John Critchley-produced album was recorded at Toronto’s Green Door Studios and featured an assortment of Canadian musicians include Veda Hille, Justin Rutledge, Mark Berube, Hannah Georgas, members of Said The Whale, Major Maker and Elliot Brood. The album’s first two singles “Robots” and “Road Regrets” received airplay on local Vancouver radio stations, as well as The Verge and CBC Radio 3 — with Magnan eventually winning Artist of the Year at that year’s Verge Music Awards. 

The following year, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was licensed and released by renowned, Toronto-based indie label Arts & Crafts in the States and in Europe through City Slang Records. Adding to growing critical acclaim surrounding the album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, named iTunes Album of the Year in the singer/songwriter category, won three Western Canadian Music Awards — Independent Album of the Year, Roots/Solo Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. And “Robots” was named Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards. 

Over the course of the next year, Mangan began collaborating with musicians from Vancouver’s experimental music scene, recruiting rummer Kenton Loewen (Mother Mother, Submission Hold and Gord Grdina Trio), bassist John Walsh (Brasstronaut) and guitarist Gord Grdina (Gord Grdina Trio, Haram, and East Van Strings) to be his backing band for the writing and recording sessions that eventually comprised 2011’s Colin Stewart-produced Oh Fortune. Loewen, Walsh and Grdina recruited a large, rotating cast of local musicians including trumpeter JP Carter (Fond of Tigers, Destroyer), violinist Jesse Zubot (Fond of Tigers, Hawksley Workman, Tanya Tagaq), pianist Tyson Naylor and cellist Peggy Lee (Mary Margaret O’Hara, Wayne Horvitz, Veda Hille). Additionally, Magnan enlisted Eyvind Kang to contribute orchestral arrangements. The album was a critical and commercial success with the album winning Juno Awards for New Artist of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year with nominations for Songwriter of the Year and Video of the year for the Jon Busby-produced video for “Rows of Houses.” The album won three Western Canadian Music Awards for “Rock Album of the Year,” Independent Album of the Year,” and “Songwriter of the Year.” Also, the album was long-listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize. Lastly, “Rows of Houses” won Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards, making Mangan the winningest artist in the award’s history — and the only artist to date that has won in the Best Song category multiple times. 

Credited to Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, 2015’s Club Meds found Magnan and his backing band of Grdina, Loewen, Walsh, Naylor, Carter and Zubot focusing on core band contributions — and while critically applauded, the album wasn’t as commercially successful as its predecessor. Since then, Mangan released the digitally released EP Unmake, which featured a cover of Robyn’s “Hang With Me,” stripped down versions of “Kitsch” and “Forgetery,” off Club Meds and an acoustic version of “Whistleblower,” re-worked from the original 6/8 time to 4/4 time and contributions from Tegan and Sara’s Tegan Quin, and drummer Loel Campbell (Wintersleep and Holy Fuck). Mangan has also done a few film and TV scores, including the CBC/AMC series Unspeakable, headed the Arts & Crafts Records imprint Madic Records, which released albums by Walrus and Astral Swans, who he has produced. During this exceedingly busy period, the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist took some time off and became a father before writing and releasing his latest album the Drew Brown-produced, More or Less, an album that Mangan claims “feels more like ‘me’ than ever.” 

The critically applauded Vancouver-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is currently in the middle of a lengthy tour to support his latest effort, and it includes a March 14, 2019 stop at Mercury Lounge. (You can check out the tour dates below.) And to celebrate the tour, and its inclusion in the trailer for Unspeakable, Mangan released a spectral, Peter Gabriel-like cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” that’s centered around a looped guitar line, twinkling jazz-like keys and Magnan’s plaintive vocals. Admittedly, while I’ve been a huge R.E.M. fan for most of my life, I’ve hated “Losing My Religion” for many years because it was played way to death and then some throughout 1991 and 1992; but Mangan’s cover reminds me of the original song’s mysterious quality and weary ache. “When I was a kid, R.E.M. was a staple in my household,” says Mangan. “I remember air guitaring to this song with my brother and sister. It was such a massive hit but also so unlikely a candidate to be so. The chorus isn’t really a chorus. It’s long. It’s repetitive. It’s like a hypnotic cyclical trance of words that stick with you even if you have no idea what they’re about. I really wanted to try and approach it from a new angle. There’s no point in attempting to sing like Michael Stipe — there is only one Michael Stipe. So I tried my best to let it live in a new light while paying homage to the original.”

New Video: Visuals for Rocky Dawuni’s “Let’s Go” Offer a Small Slice of Daily Ghanian Life

Rocky Dawuni is an acclaimed Grammy Award-nominated, Ghanian singer/songwriter and guitarist, humanitarian and activist, who was once  named one of Africa’s Top 10 Global Stars by CNN and a UN Ambassador. As a singer/songwriter and guitarist, Dawuni’s specializes in a crowd pleasing sound and songwriting approach that features elements of roots reggae, soul, pop, Afropop and Afrobeat in a warmly familiar yet unique fashion. And naturally, Dawuni’s sound has proven to be immensely popular; in fact, he’s performed with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Bono, Janelle Monae, Jason Mraz, John Legend, and a lengthy list of others.

Although, it’s been several years since I’ve personally written about him, Dawuni has been rather busy. His forthcoming and highly-anticipated seventh full-length album Beats of Zion is slated for a March 8, 2019 release through Six Degrees Distribution, and the album reportedly finds Dawuni expanding upon his self-dubbed Afro Roots sound to include the diversity of the contemporary Ghanian music scene, as well as a deeper global perspective inspired by his travels around the world. “Beats of Zion was born out of my desire to use my diverse global musical influences and exposure to various traditions to paint a multi-cultural musical vision of the world that I perceive,” Dawuni says in press notes. “The beginning of the year saw me visit Ethiopia and India. In Ethiopia, I visited Lalibela, witnessing ancient Christian rites and my journeys in India also exposed me to its diverse spiritual culture and the shared similarities I saw to Africa.” He adds, “The title Beats of Zion is inspired by a vision of the drumbeat of awareness and elevation of consciousness; a musical call to arms for my audience to be proactive in this day and age as to each person’s responsibility to be an active instrument for positive change.”

Written and recorded over a two year span in various studios in Accra, Ghana, Nairobi, Kenya and Los Angeles. Several songs being recorded at Village Studios, where Bob Dylan, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, John Lennon and Fleetwood Mac recorded albums — with Dawuni recording in the same room that Fleetwood Mac once used. As he was working on the album, Dawuni found out that Fleetwood Mac was among a group of American rock bands that visited Ghana in the 70s, making the experience much more special to him. 

Beats of Zion’s latest single is the breezy and uplifting “Let’s Go.” And while clearly sounding as though it were inspired by Bob Marley  (“Three Little Birds” and “One Love”  immediately come to mind), it focuses on a small yet wonderful pleasure — riding a bike with a friend and having the wind blow through your hair. The recently released 360º video finds Dawuni teaming up with Cadbury Bicycle Factory to celebrate a decade of turning long walks to school into shorter bike riders — and unsurprisingly, the video which is set in Ghanian countryside follows local students riding from home to school. From watching the video, it should serve as a reminder that kids everywhere are essentially the same; in fact the video reminds me of seeing kids riding bikes to school in Dordrecht and Amsterdam, as well as kids in my own neighborhood.