Tag: Philadelphia PA

The rising Lincoln, NE-based soul and funk act Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal — Josh Hoyer (vocals, keys), Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar) Harrison El Dorado (drums) — formed back in 2012, and since their formation, the act, which features some of the Lincoln area’s most acclaimed musicians, has received attention nationally and internationally for a boundary crossing sound inspired by the sounds of Stax Records, Motown Records, Muscle Shoals, New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The Lincoln-based quintet have developed a reputation for being of the area’s hardest working bands: releasing four, critically applauded albums, including last year’s Do It Now, the members of the rising soul act have played hundreds of shows and have made several tours across the Continental United States and two European tours, opening for the George Clinton,Charles Bradley, Booker T. Jones, and Muscle Shoals Soul Revue and others.

Further cementing their reputation as one of the Plain States’ hardest working bands, the members of the Lincoln-based soul act will be releasing their Eddie Roberts-produced fifth later later this year through Color Red Records. “Hustler,” the album’s cinematic, third and latest single is a strutting bit of soul, prominently featuring Hoyer’s soulful, Tom Jones-like vocals, a commanding horn arrangement, a sinuous bass line, shimmering organ arpeggios and an enormous and rousingly anthemic hook. While seemingly possessing elements of The Payback-era James Brown, 70s Motown, Muscle Shoals, Daptone and Memphis soul in a seamless yet period specific synthesis, the upbeat track manages to be one-part much-needed proverbial kick in the ass and one part much-needed rallying cry for our unprecedented and uncertain moment, centered around the assuring yet forceful line “When the world wants you to sink or swim, I ain’t goin’ under.”

Things may be bleak right now but keep fighting y’all. There’s much hard and necessary work to be done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Nick Hakim Releases a Gorgeous and Surreal Visual for Atmospheric “Bouncing”

I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded, Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay  Nick Hakim over the past handful of years. Hakim’s 2017 full-length debut, Green Twins was written after he had completed   Where Will We Go Part 1 EP and Where We Will Go Part 2 EP and relocated from Boston, where he was then based to Brooklyn. 

After getting himself settled in, he quickly went to work, spending his spare time writing and recording song sketches sing his phone’s voice memo app and a four-track cassette recorder. He fleshed out the sketches as much as possible and then took his demo’d material to various studios in New York, Philadelphia and London, where he built up the material with a number of engineers, including frequent collaborator Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the material intact as much as humanly possible.

Thematically, the album’s material focused one specific experiences, feelings and thoughts he had during the time he was writing and composting it, and as a result the album is a series of different self-portraits that generally captures its creator in broad strokes — but if you pay close attention, you pick up on subtle gradations of mood, tone and feeling. Sonically, Green Twins was drew from a broad and eclectic array of influences including Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye, Shuggie Otis and My Bloody Valentine and others. “We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins,” Hakim said in press at the time.

Since the release of Green Twins, Hakim has also developed a reputation as a highly sought-after, go-to collaborator working with Lianna La Havas, Anderson .Paak, Onyx Collective, Sporting Life, IGBO, Nappy Nina, Ambrose Akinmusire, Slingbaum, FKA Twins and Oumou Sangare. Now, as you may recall, Hakim’s highly-anticipated sophomore album WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD is slated for a May 15, 2020 release through ATO Records. 

Interestingly, WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD reportedly represents a tonal shift from its predecessor with the album’s material reflecting the ideas that he had grappled with while writing and recording it. 

“I feel the people simmering, on our way to the boiling point. There’s a lot of madness going on around us and this world can feel so cold. It can get hard to remember what makes it worth it. The people around me and the music I love helps.” Hakim writes in a statement on the album. 

“For a while, I couldn’t write. I worked on new music but couldn’t find the right words. But that time was just a build-up to the three months of expression that led to this album. I hope this music will raise awareness about where we are right now. About how we are living on this planet. About how we treat our neighbors. About community. About depression. About what can heal us and what can’t. About overmedication, overstimulation and manipulation. About respecting and loving the people around us, because one day they won’t be here — or you won’t.

But it’s also true that I’m still trying to figure this record out. People have told me that it’s confusing or that it’s messy-that’s fine. There’s so much pressure on artists to commit to being one thing, or to restrict an album to exploring just one subject or sound. But my life isn’t like that, and so my music can’t be like that either. I’m not thinking about this music as a product to be bought and sold, or how I’ll buy your interest. This is my world; a lot of friends touched this record, and that makes me feel lucky and proud. These songs are glimpses into my community. I’m exploring, but I’m not alone. It’s a journey in progress; it’s an experiment, every day.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the slow-burning and atmospheric “QADIR,” a fever dream of ache and longing that brings up psych pop, psych soul and 70s soul simultaneously.  “QADIR” was the first song that Hakim wrote for the album with the track being an ode to a late friend, and a urgent and plaintive reminder to check in on your loved ones before it’s too late. “BOUNCING,” WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD’s third and latest single is a delicate and atmospheric track centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar, blown out and distorted drums, gently swirling feedback paired with Hakim’s aching falsetto expressing a vulnerable yearning for companionship and warmth on a bitterly cold day — and knowing that it won’t come any time soon. “BOUNCING” is a sound bath where I wrote about one of the coldest days in New York I remember, while lying in my bed, restless by a radiator. It’s about feeling uneasy,” Hakim says in press notes. 

Directed by Nelson Nance, the recently released video for “BOUNCING” continues Hakim’s ongoing visual collaboration with the director while serving as a sequel to “QADIR.” The video follows Hakim and a small collection of attendees to a surreal event that becomes a spectacle that’s recorded by the attendees. But it asks much larger questions of the viewer: “”The ‘BOUNCING’ video asks the viewer to question our drive to find spectacles and how the pursuit of such can lead to becoming a spectacle,” Nelson explains in press notes. “There is nothing inherently wrong with viewing or being a spectacle but I think it’s healthy to question if our energy is being put in the right place when interfacing with what draws our attention.” 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Nick Hakim Releases a Lyrical Visual for Atmospheric and Slow-Burning Single “QADIR”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, guitarist Nick Hakim. And as you may recall, Hakim’s critically applauded full-length debut 2017’s Green Twins can trace its origins back to when he finished his two critically applauded EPs Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where We Will Go Part 2: armed with the masters for those efforts, Hakim relocated from Boston, where he was then based to Brooklyn. As soon as he got himself settled, he quickly went to work, spending his spare time writing and recording sketches using his phone’s voice memo app and a four-track cassette recorder, fleshing the material out whenever possible. He then took his new demo’d material to various studios in NYC, Philadelphia and London, where he built up the material with a number of engineers, including frequent collaborator Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the material intact as much as humanly possible.

Thematically, the album’s material focused on specific experiences, feeling and thoughts he had during the time he was writing and composing it. As a result, the album consists of a series of different self-portraits. And in a similar fashion to Vincent Van Gogh’s famed self-portraits, the material sometimes captures its creator in broad stokes — with subtle gradations of mood, tone and feeling. The overall aesthetic drew from a broad array of influences including Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye, Shuggie Otis and My Bloody Valentine and others. “We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins,” Hakim said in press at the time. 

Since the release of Green Twins, Hakim developed a reputation as a highly sought-after, go-to collaborator working with Lianna La Havas, Anderson .Paak, Onyx Collective, Sporting Life, IGBO, Nappy Nina, Ambrose Akinmusire, Slingbaum, FKA Twins and Oumou Sangare. Building upon a growing profile, Hakim will be releasing his highly-anticipated sophomore album WILL THIS MAKE ME SOUND GOOD. Slated for a May 15, 2020 release through ATO Records, the album while being distinctly Nick Hakim, reportedly represents a tonal shift from Green Twins, with the material reflecting the ideas with which he grappled while writing and recording the album. To prepare listeners for the experience, Hakim shares the following statement about the record:

“I feel the people simmering, on our way to the boiling point. There’s a lot of madness going on around us and this world can feel so cold. It can get hard to remember what makes it worth it. The people around me and the music I love helps.

For a while, I couldn’t write. I worked on new music but couldn’t find the right words. But that time was just a build-up to the three months of expression that led to this album. I hope this music will raise awareness about where we are right now. About how we are living on this planet. About how we treat our neighbors. About community. About depression. About what can heal us and what can’t. About overmedication, overstimulation and manipulation. About respecting and loving the people around us, because one day they won’t be here-or you won’t.

But it’s also true that I’m still trying to figure this record out. People have told me that it’s confusing or that it’s messy-that’s fine. There’s so much pressure on artists to commit to being one thing, or to restrict an album to exploring just one subject or sound. But my life isn’t like that, and so my music can’t be like that either. I’m not thinking about this music as a product to be bought and sold, or how I’ll buy your interest. This is my world; a lot of friends touched this record, and that makes me feel lucky and proud. These songs are glimpses into my community. I’m exploring, but I’m not alone. It’s a journey in progress; it’s an experiment, every day.”

WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD’s latest single is the slow-burning and atmospheric “QADIR.”  Centered around a repetitive and hypnotic arrangement featuring shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar, a sinuous baseline fluttering flute, stuttering beats and Hakim’s expressive and  plaintive vocals, “QADIR” is a fever dream full of ache and longing that recalls both 70s soul and neo-soul simultaneously. Interestingly, “QADIR” was the first song the JOVM mainstay wrote for the album — and the track was written as ode to a late friend and a reminder to check in on your loved ones before it’s too late.”If I really sink into a recording, I don’t want it to end,” Hakim says. “[‘QADIR’] is repetitive and hypnotizing, like a trance — that’s intentional. The song is my ode to him. It’s my attempt to relate to how he must have been feeling.”

Directed by Nelson Nance, the cinematic and lyrical visual for “QADIR” finds Hakim in moments of solitude in forest and in solidarity with his community of friends and associates. The Nance-directed visual suggests that it’s the people who love and support us, who give us strength and sustenance during our most difficult times. 

New Audio: Philly’s Control Top Releases the Anthemic Single We All Need Now

With the release of their full-length debut Covert Contracts, the Philadelphia-based post-punk trio Control Top — Ali Carter (vocals, bass), Al Creedon (guitar, sampler) and Alex Lichtenauer (drums) — exploded into the national scene: their debut landed on the Top Albums of 2019 lists of NPR, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Stereogum, Bandcamp Daily, Highsnobiety and others. and they were featured on Pitchfork Rising. 

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the band’s latest single — the first bit of new material from the band this year, “One Good Day” is an anthemic and decidedly pop-leaning take on post-punk that’s energetic and much more optimistic while retaining the explosive guitar work, propulsive bass lines and thunderous drumming of their previously released work. Sonically, the song is like a seamless synthesis of The Go-Gos and Gang of Four. And although the band couldn’t have anticipated, the song’s “we can get through this together” air is absolutely necessary right now. 

Control Top on “One Good Day”:

Alex Lichtenauer: “I’m grateful to be part of the growth of this project and see how it unfolds. Music should constantly evolve, and I think our progression as both musicians and people really shows in this song. We stepped out of our comfort zone and came up with a pop song that has more optimistic elements than our debut album. A band’s first album usually sets the tone for how they are going to sound, but that can get redundant. With this song, we stayed true to our punk background while also creating something new.”

Al Creedon: “‘One Good Day’ started as a rough sketch I made one day in the midst of cleaning our practice space. I brought it to the group and together we continued to evolve it well into the recording process. I had been listening to a lot of disco, particularly the Bee Gees. They are a band everyone claims to hate, so naturally the contrarian in me wanted to give them a chance. I got hooked immediately.

For ‘One Good Day’, I started with the idea of a back and forth between a syncopated verse in the vein of the Bee Gees’ ‘You Should Be Dancing’ and a driving chorus akin to some of our other songs. Guitar and bass weave in and out of each other, while the drums act as gravity holding the notes together. Ali wrote an ambitious pop vocal melody that really glued it all together. The three of us keep pushing ourselves to execute these types of ideas where all musical elements lean on each other for support. Take away one element and the song instantly loses all sense of cohesion.

I’ve started to incorporate my sampler more and more as we write our next record. On this song, I use it most prominently in the bridge to sample and effect both my guitar and Ali’s voice. I’m a big fan of the way Ichiro Agata from Melt Banana uses effects, and here I was able to apply my own take on his glitchy style. The sampler is also used subtly in the choruses. I sample myself during the verse and then run a small slice of that sample through pitch automation to create something that functions as a rhythm guitar part in the chorus.”

Ali Carter: “When Al showed us the beginnings of this song, I was instantly hooked by its upbeat feel. I set out to write a pop vocal melody with a positive message that didn’t sound trite, which is harder said than done. I ended up with ‘One Good Day,’ a song about about a few things: facing your flaws to become a better person for yourself and the people around you, getting outside of yourself to realize everyone has their own struggles and are doing the best they can, and above all trying to help each other even if what we do is imperfect.

Some problems we inherit, like mental health or substance abuse issues, and some problems stem from our environment, like home or working conditions. Some problems are individual and some problems are systemic, the product of entrenched social structures that favor one group over another. Whatever the cause, they are ours to deal with, and they will continue to disrupt our lives until we work through them. Problems are persistent and won’t let you ignore them for long. They can also be the greatest teachers. It is worthwhile to listen to them.

As frustrating as they can be, our problems–personal, local and global–bind us together. Many of us are facing very similar issues. We can’t solve all our problems alone. We depend on one another for support, but we can’t help each other if we can’t help ourselves. If we can show ourselves compassion, overcome shame and self-hate and allow ourselves to grow into the people we want to be, we can also develop empathy for one another. Cynicism is a coping mechanism of avoidance. It is difficult to be vulnerable, but it is the only way to access love.

This song feels especially relevant right now. We’re in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis with the coronavirus outbreak. Our lives have been completely suspended. We are forced to consider not only how we affect others but also how others affect us. In no uncertain terms, we see how much we depend on each other every day to survive. Workers in hospitals, pharmacies, groceries, waste management and more are working tirelessly to provide for their communities. The choice to self-quarantine is an act of self-protection as well as an act of kindness toward others who would be endangered by the disease.

People can’t go to work or leave their homes. All we can do is try to keep calm and make the best of this situation. What have we been missing due to the constant motion of our daily lives that we can return to in this period of stillness? Connection with friends and loved ones? Activities that make us happy? Deep spiritual reflection? How can we bring balance to this bleak landscape? Perhaps we take a cue from the people of Italy currently under lockdown, singing from their balconies to share a moment of joy in a moment of anxiety.

The fact is, we’re in this state of collective uncertainty and panic because our government has failed to act and communicate information in a timely and appropriate manner. It’s clear now more than ever that we need a president like Bernie Sanders who puts the needs of the American people above Wall Street bailouts, makes sure every single person gets quality healthcare and understands that our problems are not isolated or disconnected.”

Like countless touring bands across the world, most of the rising Philadelphia-based post-punk act’s upcoming dates are being rescheduled, but at the moment they’re still slated to play Calgary’s Sled Island Festival in June.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Hot Snakes Releases a Defiant Anti-Work Anthem

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite about the acclaimed — and downright legendary — punk act Hot Snakes, and as you may recall the act can trace its origins to when its then-San Diego, CA-based founder Swami John Reis founded the band in 1999: that year, Reis’ primary gig Rocket from the Crypt went on hiatus after longtime drummer Atom Willard left the band. Coincidentally, the band was also in between labels. And as the story goes, while searching for a new label and drummer for Rocket from the Crypt, Reis started his own label Swami Records and began experimenting with other musicians, which eventually led to the formation of two acclaimed side projects — Sultans and Hot Snakes. 

Interestingly, Hot Snakes began in earnest when Reis recorded a batch of material with Delta 72′s Jason Kourkounis. Reis then recruited his former Pitchfork and Drive Like Jehu bandmate and collaborator Rick Froberg to contribute vocals. Most of the material that they recorded wound up comprising their full-length debut Automatic Midnight. Although Reis and Froberg had collaborated together for years, Hot Snakes proved to be a logical challenge: Reis was in San Diego, Froberg had relocated in New York to start a career as a visual artist and illustrator, and Kourkounis was based in Philadelphia. As a result, the members of the band had sporadic and intense recording and touring schedules, which featured Beehive and the Barracudas’, Tanner’s and Fishwife’s Gar Wood on bass. 

And while Hot Snakes’ sonically and aesthetically bears some similarities to Reis’ and Froberg’s previous work, the band’s sound leaned towards a more primal, garage rock sound, influenced by Wipers, Suicide, and Michael Yonkers Band. Along with that, the band developed a now, long-held reputation for a completely DIY approach to recording, touring and merchandise — with the band releasing their earliest material through Reis’ Swami Records. (Unsurprisingly, Hot Snakes’ debut Automatic Midnight was the first release through Reis’ label.)

After the release of 2002’s Suicide Invoice and 2004’s Audit in Progress, the band split up in 2005. In 2011, they reunited for a world tour, which eventually set the stage for the band’s fourth album, 2018’s Jericho Sirens, which was coincidentally, their first album in over 14 years. Recorded in short bursts in San Diego and Philadelphia during 2017 and features Reis and Froberg collaborating with Wood and drummers Kourkounis and Rubalcaba — both of whom have been on prior Hot Snakes albums but never on the same one until now. And as Reis explained in press notes for the album, one of the most rewarding aspects was continuing his  collaboration and creative partnership with Froberg. “Our perspectives are similar. Our tastes are similar. He is my family. And what more is there to say? My favorite part of making this record was hearing him find his voice and direction for this record. I came hard,” Reis says.

Thematically, Jericho Sirens’ material commiserates with the frustration and apathy of our daily lives while pointing out that generally we haven’t had a fucking clue about anything. As the band’s Froberg said at the time, “Songs like ‘Death Camp Fantasy’ and ‘Jericho Sirens’ are about that. No matter where you look, there’re always people saying the world’s about to end. Every movie is a disaster movie. I’m super fascinated by it. It is hysterical, and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It snowballs, like feedback, or my balls on the windshield.” Sonically, the album found the band incorporating some of the most extreme fringes of their sound while staying true to their long standing influences. including AC/DC.

Late last year, the band released “Checkmate,” a decidedly AC/DC-like track, centered around booze-soaked power chords, howled lyrics and a chugging yet forceful rhythm section. Interestingly, while being the first bit of new material from the band after the release of Jericho Sirens, the track was the first of a series of four 7 inch singles that will lead up to the band’s highly-awaited fifth album; so each single is a seasonal release. Hot Snakes begins 2020 with their Spring 7 inch installment, the defiant anti-work/anti-working for the man anthem “I Shall Be Free.” Centered around slashing, face-melting power chords and chugging rhythms, the track continues a run of decidedly AC/DC-like singles with a boozy air. 

The recently released video features some trippy, line animation by Swami John Reis’ 13-year-old son Tiger Reis that morphs into stick figures, tanks, rockets, a skeleton and even airplanes that move and undulating to the accompanying music. 

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: JOVM Mainstays Hot Snakes Return with a Sly Commentary on the Proliferation of Tech and Screens in Our Daily Lives

The acclaimed punk act Hot Snakes can trace its origins to when its then- San Diego, CA-based Swami John Reis founded the band back in 1999. That year Reis’ primary gig Rocket from the Crypt had gone on hiatus after their longtime Atom Willard left the band — and coincidentally the band was in between labels. As the story goes. while searching for a new label and drummer for Rocket from the Crypt, Reis founded his own label Swami Records and began experimenting with other musicians, which eventually resulted in the formation of two side projects — Sultans and Hot Snakes, which began in earnest when Reis recorded a batch of material with Delta 72′s Jason Kourkounis. Reis then recruited his former bandmate and collaborator Froberg to contribute vocals — with most of the material they recorded, eventually comprising their full-length debut Automatic Midnight.

Although Reis and Froberg collaborated together in Pitchfork and Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes proved to be a logistical challenge: Reis was in San Diego, Froberg had relocated in New York to start a career as a visual artist and illustrator, and Kourkounis was based in Philadelphia. This resulted in sporadic and intense recording and touring schedules that frequently included bassist Gar Wood, best known for his work in Beehive and the Barracudas, Tanner and Fishwife. And while Hot Snakes shares some obvious musical similarities to Reis’ and Froberg’s previous projects, their sound was more primal, garage rock-based one, influenced by Wipers, Suicide, and Michael Yonkers Band — and for a completely DIY approach to recording, touring and merchandise with the band releasing material through Reis’ Swami Records. (Unsurprisingly, Hot Snakes’ debut Automatic Midnight was the first release through Reis’ label.)

After releasing two more full-length albums, 2002’s Suicide Invoice and 2004’s Audit in Progress, the band split up in 2005. But in 2011, they reunited for a world tour, which reportedly set the stage fr the band’s fourth, full-length album, last year’s Jericho Sirens, which was coincidentally the band’s first album in over 14 years.

Recorded in short bursts over the past year in San Diego and Philadelphia, the album features Reis and Froberg collaborating with Wood and drummers Kourkounis and Mario Rubalcaba — both of whom have been on prior Hot Snakes albums but never on the same one until now. And as Reis explained in press notes for the album, one of the most rewarding aspects was continuing his  collaboration and creative partnership with Froberg. “Our perspectives are similar. Our tastes are similar. He is my family. And what more is there to say? My favorite part of making this record was hearing him find his voice and direction for this record. I came hard,” Reis says.

The material thematically commiserates with the frustration and apathy of our daily lives while pointing out that generally we haven’t had a fucking clue. As the band’s Froberg said at the time, “Songs like ‘Death Camp Fantasy’ and ‘Jericho Sirens’ are about that. No matter where you look, there’re always people saying the world’s about to end. Every movie is a disaster movie. I’m super fascinated by it. It is hysterical, and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It snowballs, like feedback, or my balls on the windshield.” Sonically, the album reportedly finds the band incorporating some of the most extreme fringes of their sound while staying true to their long standing influences — but interestingly, some songs feature nods to AC/DC and others. As Reis says in press notes, “It sounds like panic and chaos. Restlessness and unease. That’s a sound that I would ask for. I want that record. The inspiration would be simple, maybe even kind of straightforward. Very early rock ‘n’ roll DNA with lots of rules. I would find some note or rhythm in it that captivated me and I dwelled on it and bent it. That’s where I found dissonance. Bending and rubbing against each other uncomfortably. Marinate and refine. A lot of the other Hot Snakes records always had tension and release, but this one is mainly just tension.”

Just before they were about to embark on a 12 dat UK and Ireland tour during December, the band released “Checkmate,” a blistering, AC/DC-like track centered around booze-soaked power chords, howled lyrics and a chugging yet forceful rhythm section. As the band’s Rick Froberg said in press notes, “‘Checkmate’ is big, fatty content freshly extruded from the Hot Snakes sausage machine. Same ingredients, new flav.” The single is available through all the digital service provides but it’ll also be available directly from the band as an extremely limited physical 7″ vinyl with the exclusive b-side “Not in Time.”

Co-directed by the band’s John Reis and the band’s longtime friend John Oliver, the recently released video follows digital representations of the band invading and infesting a house, making the video a sly and mischievous commentary on the proliferation of screens and digital content in our daily lives. (Essentially, you can’t take a leak without a screen popping up somewhere!) 

New Audio: Hot Snakes Return with a Classic Anthemic Ripper

The acclaimed punk act Hot Snakes can trace its origins to when its then- San Diego, CA-based Swami John Reis founded the band back in 1999. That year Reis’ primary gig Rocket from the Crypt had gone on hiatus after their longtime Atom Willard left the band — and coincidentally the band was in between labels. As the story goes. while searching for a new label and drummer for Rocket from the Crypt, Reis founded his own label Swami Records and began experimenting with other musicians, which eventually resulted in the formation of two side projects — Sultans and Hot Snakes, which began in earnest when Reis recorded a batch of material with Delta 72’s Jason Kourkounis. Reis then recruited his former bandmate and collaborator Froberg to contribute vocals — with most of the material they recorded, eventually comprising their full-length debut Automatic Midnight. 

Although Reis and Froberg collaborated together in Pitchfork and Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes proved to be a logistical challenge: Reis was in San Diego, Froberg had relocated in New York to start a career as a visual artist and illustrator, and Kourkounis was based in Philadelphia. This resulted in sporadic and intense recording and touring schedules that frequently included bassist Gar Wood, best known for his work in Beehive and the Barracudas, Tanner and Fishwife. And while Hot Snakes shares some obvious musical similarities to Reis’ and Froberg’s previous projects, their sound was more primal, garage rock-based one, influenced by Wipers, Suicide, and Michael Yonkers Band — and for a completely DIY approach to recording, touring and merchandise with the band releasing material through Reis’ Swami Records. (Unsurprisingly, Hot Snakes’ debut Automatic Midnight was the first release through Reis’ label.)

After releasing two more full-length albums, 2002’s Suicide Invoice and 2004’s Audit in Progress, the band split up in 2005. But in 2011, they reunited for a world tour, which reportedly set the stage fr the band’s fourth, full-length album, last year’s Jericho Sirens, which was coincidentally the band’s first album in over 14 years. 

Recorded in short bursts over the past year in San Diego and Philadelphia, the album features Reis and Froberg collaborating with Wood and drummers Kourkounis and Mario Rubalcaba — both of whom have been on prior Hot Snakes albums but never on the same one until now. And as Reis explained in press notes for the album, one of the most rewarding aspects was continuing his  collaboration and creative partnership with Froberg. “Our perspectives are similar. Our tastes are similar. He is my family. And what more is there to say? My favorite part of making this record was hearing him find his voice and direction for this record. I came hard,” Reis says.

The material thematically commiserates with the frustration and apathy of our daily lives while pointing out that generally we haven’t had a fucking clue. As the band’s Froberg said at the time, “Songs like ‘Death Camp Fantasy’ and ‘Jericho Sirens’ are about that. No matter where you look, there’re always people saying the world’s about to end. Every movie is a disaster movie. I’m super fascinated by it. It is hysterical, and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It snowballs, like feedback, or my balls on the windshield.” Sonically, the album reportedly finds the band incorporating some of the most extreme fringes of their sound while staying true to their long standing influences — but interestingly, some songs feature nods to AC/DC and others. As Reis says in press notes, “It sounds like panic and chaos. Restlessness and unease. That’s a sound that I would ask for. I want that record. The inspiration would be simple, maybe even kind of straightforward. Very early rock ‘n’ roll DNA with lots of rules. I would find some note or rhythm in it that captivated me and I dwelled on it and bent it. That’s where I found dissonance. Bending and rubbing against each other uncomfortably. Marinate and refine. A lot of the other Hot Snakes records always had tension and release, but this one is mainly just tension.”

Just a few weeks before they head off to a 12 date UK and Ireland tour during the month of December, the band released a new single “Checkmate,” a blistering AC/DC-like track centered around booze-soaked power chords, howled lyrics and a chugging rhythm section. As the band’s Rick Froberg says in press notes, “‘Checkmate’ is big, fatty content freshly extruded from the Hot Snakes sausage machine. Same ingredients, new flav.” The single is available through all the digital service provides but it’ll also be available directly from the band as an extremely limited physical 7″ vinyl with the exclusive b-side “Not in Time.”

New Video: French Shoegazers Dead Horse One Releases a Languid and Cinematic Visual for Shimmering “Saudade”

Valance, France-based shoegazers Dead Horse One, currently comprised of founding trio Oliver Debard, Ludovik Naud and Antoine Pinet, with Maxime Garcia and Ivan Tzibousky can trace their origins back to their formation in 2011. While recording their full-length debut, 2014’s Without Love We Perish, the members of the French shoegazer act reached out to RIDE’S Mark Gardener, who wound up taking up production duties. 

Following the release of their full-length debut, the band spent the next three years touring across the European Union, sharing stages with the likes of The Telescopes, The Wands and Sound Sweet Sound, and they made an appearance at Liverpool Psych Fest.

After a busy period of touring, the band went into the studio with Fleeting Joys’ John Loring, who produced the band’s sophomore album, 2017’s Season of Mist, which they supported with a tour that included a handful of opening dates with RIDE during the legendary shoegazer act’s European tour. And building upon the growing buzz surrounding the band, they shared the stage with The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Philadelphia-based band NOTHING. 

Since then, the band went back into the studio to work on their forthcoming third, full-length album The West Is The Best. Slated for a November 22, 2019 release through Requiem Pour Un Twister, the album finds the French shoegazers continuing their ongoing collaboration with John Loring — while marking a second time they’ve worked with Mark Gardener, who mixed the album. Thematically, the album as the band’s Oliver Debard explains is “a collection of thwarted love songs in the spirit of Sparklehorse and other such 90s bands.” 

“Saudade,” The West Is The Best’s first single is a slow-burning track, centered around layers of shimmering guitars and plaintive boy-girl harmonizing, which gives the song an aching yearning — while nodding heavily at classic late 80s and early 90s shoegaze. “This song is a special song for us because it was written by Rorika Loring, her husband John and ourselves,” the band told Northern Transmissions. “Rorika and John play in Fleeting Joys, which is none less than one of the best shoegaze bands of the second wave, post 2000. From another point of view, the song joined the title of the album since it is a French, English collaboration by the presence of Mark Gardener at the mix table, and American, the Loring family is from Sacramento.”

Directed and edited by Pedro Wilde, the recently released video was filmed in a gorgeously cinematic black and white on location in the Portuguese cities of Porto, Gaia and Aveiro and stars Carolina Marques. Languidly shot, the video evokes the old-world and old-fashioned charm of Europe as Marques wanders around with a lute — but there’s also a desire to be contemporary without losing that sense of connectedness to one’s roots.