Tag: PIAS Recordings

New Audio: Two from Acclaimed Belgian Post Punk Act Whispering Sons

Initially started in 2013 as a hobby for its then Leuven, Belgium-based founding members Kobe Linjen (guitar), Sander Hermans (synths), Lander Paesan (bass) and Sander Pelsmaekers (drums), the rising Brussels-based post punk act Whispering Sons have evolved a great deal. As the story goes, in search of a singer they recruited Fenne Kuppens, who at that point had been uploading covers of bands like Slowdive to Soundcloud. Already fostering deep ambition, she rigorously prepared. “I’d always wanted to sing in a band, but I never had friends who made music, they weren’t in my surroundings,” Kuppens recalls in press notes. “They were talking about this post-punk thing that I’d never heard of before, so I had to read into it. I could see myself in it, I felt the music.”

Leuven is a quiet, European university town and its mainstream-leaning music scene didn’t connect with Kuppens. But after a year studying abroad in Prague, where she immersed herself in the city’s DIY scene, Kuppens was galvanized — and inspired. “I made friends there who did things with their lives! There was a guy who had a DIY record label and who made music, all from his bedroom. I thought, if they can do this, why can’t we at least try?” Kuppens recalls. As soon as she returned, she relocated to Brussels. The remaining members of the band — Linjin, Hermans, Pelsmaekers and Paesan — later joined her. And immediately, the band quickly began honing their live show and sound.

Inspired by Xiu Xiu and Chinawoman, Kuppens distinctive, low register vocal style emerged early. “I started to feel more comfortable on stage, to express myself more rather than just singing a song,” she says. “I started feeling the music more, identifying more with the sounds and what I was doing.” Kuppens stage presence became known for being transfixing and trancelike, defined by compulsive and movements. “People have said it looks like I’m fighting my demons onstage, I guess there’s some truth in that,” she says.

During the summer of 2015, the band went into the studio to record material. “Fenne was really pushing us saying ‘We have to go for it, not just make another demo,” Whispering Sons’ Kobe Linjen recalls in press notes. The result was their goth-inspired debut EP, 2015’s Endless Party EP. Just a few months after its initial release through Wool-E-Tapes, the Brussels-based post-punk act won Humo’s Rock Rally, one of Belgium’s most prestigious music competitions. With the increased attention and accolades came bigger shows, bigger tours across Europe and larger crowds. “People started to expect things from us. We had to adapt quickly,” Linjen adds.

With the demands of a growing profile, the band began setting new, more ambitions targets for themselves. While writing new material for the increasingly longer sets their increased status required, they began to grow tired of the limits of post-punk and eagerly sought ways to push past them as much as possible. “We wanted to evolve, we wanted to attract larger audiences and not just play in one scene,” Kobe continues.

The Belgian post-punk quintet released two 7 inches, 2016’s “Performance”/”Strange Identities” and 2017’s “White Noise” — while going through a lineup change: the band’s friend Tuur Vanderborne replaced Paesan on bass. The band’s Micha Volders and Bert Vliegen-produced 2018 full-length debut Image was released through Cleopatra Records here in the States and Smile Records throughout the rest of the world. Recorded over a ten day period at Waimes, Belgium’s GAM Studios, Image found the band crafting a dark, brooding blend of experimental and frenetic post-punk that expressed the alienation, loneliness and anxiety that each individual member felt when they relocated to Brussels, Belgium’s largest city.

Image garnered praise from music press across the globe — and it amassed millions of streams across digital service providers. Before pandemic-related quarantines, lockdowns and restrictions, the Brussels-based post punk quintet was establishing themselves for a ferocious, must-see live show while sharing stages with the likes of The Murder Capital, Patti Smith, The Soft Moon, Croatian Armor and Editors. “We were very happy with Image, and at that point it was the best thing we could have made,” Fenne Kuppens says. “But from the moment we finished it we started to look at it in a critical way. ‘This is something we should do again. This is something we don’t like.’ So very quickly we found the direction we wanted to go in for the next album.”

Last summer, the members of Whispering Sons retreated to the Ardennes to work on new material. And in those writing sessions, the band took what they believed were the strongest part of their earliest work and refined them even further, with a focus on their greatest strength — sheer, unpretentious intensity. “We tried to create an album that’s more direct and more dynamic. More in your face,” Kuppens says.

Interestingly, Kuppens can trace the origins of the lyrics for the band’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Several Others from one sentence she’d scribbled in a notebook “Always be someone else instead of yourself.” “It’s terrible advice,” Kuppens says in press notes. “But it resonated with me and my personal ambitions.” She stared writing about her uncompromising perfectionism that although was partly responsible for the band’s initial success, was becoming stifling and overwhelming. “I was at a stage where it was becoming unhealthy. You always think things have to be better, that you can always do more.”

Recently, the band released two companion singles “Satantango” and “Surgery” off the forthcoming single. Both tracks see the band ambitiously pushing the ferocious and dirvintensity that helped win them international attention to the limits — while somehow delicately balancing fragility and vulnerability. Centered around anxious and propulsive instrumentation, both songs evokes unease of someone hopelessly trapped in stasis, possibly of their own making — and the slow-burning, creeping unease of someone struggling with their own role with their misery. Hell is often other people; but hell can be your own mind, too.

Along with the record, which is slated for a June 18, 2021 release through [PIAS] Recordings, the band will be releasing each single with a corresponding live session to be compiled and released as a live film.

New Video: Amsterdam’s Someone Releases a Low-Budget Horror Film Inspired Commentary on Social Media

Over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink writing about the Amsterdam-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and multidisciplinary artist Tessa Rose Jackson, the creative mastermind behind the rising indie recording project Someone. With the release of her debut EP Chain Reaction, Jackson quickly received attention for pairing her music with an accompanying short film.

The Dutch singer/songwriter, producer and multidisciplinary artist’s sophomore EP Orbit found Jackson exploring the intensity with which art and music can be fused and how they can be more fully enhanced. Thematically the material was an incisive commentary on our overstimulated digital age that suggests that we spend so much time staring into our phones and on social media, endlessly exposing ourselves to external distractions to the point that we’re essentially orbiting each other. And as a result, we rarely touch, rest or even focus long enough to connect to anyone or any particular thing. Orbit received praise from The Line of Best Fit, DIY Magazine, The 405 and NME — with NME picking her set as a highlight of last year’s Eurosonic.  

2020 looks to be a breakthrough year for the Dutch-based Jackson: her highly-anticipated Someone full-length debut, Orbit II is slated for a June 20, 2020 release through [PIAS] Recordings. And already, the album’s first single “Forget Forgive” was recently featured in a pivotal scene of the acclaimed Netflix series Dear White People. Building upon the momentum of the past year or so, Orbit II’s latest single “You Live In My Phone” is a sultry and decided change in sonic direction for the Amsterdam-based artist. Centered around a shimmering synth and key arpeggios, stuttering beats, Jackson’s breathy vocal delivery the song sonically sounds like a slick synthesis of neo soul and Daft Punk. Thematically, the song continues the Dutch artist’s focus on technology and social media on us and our relationships. 

“It isn’t meant as a personal diary log for me to vent my feelings and that’s that. I’d like it to be more of a bolstering experience, a conversation starter for people that recognise themselves in these songs,” Jackson says of Orbit II’s material. “The music is optimistic, even if the lyrics sometimes wade into some pretty harsh waters and this balance -to me -helps to bring perspective, positivity and a little humour into the mix.”

Created by Someone’s Tessa Rose Jackson and directed by David Spearing, the recently released video for “You Live In My Phone” is indebted to 50s and 80s low-budget sci-fi and horror films. We follow the life story of its protagonist, Joe who has spent his entire childhood immersed with his smartphone, to the exclusion of life around him. One night, the grown Joe falls asleep with his trust phony during a thunderstorm, and when he wakes up he finds his phone gone — and his head replaced by a giant emoji. It’s a decidedly absurd tragicomedy that finds our now emoji-headed protagonist desperately alone and misunderstood. Every time that he tries to reach out to another, he’s completely ignored by people on their phones. The only time anyone does connect with him, they spend time taking picture of him for their social media feeds. And in anger, he turns those who have tormented him into emoji-heads. 

Orbit II will be releasing alongside an app that allows listeners to experience the record’s artwork in augmented reality. ” “To me, playfulness is a big part of what I do. I hope to invite people to explore and experience new music (and art) actively, instead of passively. Hands on,” Jackson explains. “This is why the visually interactive element of ORBIT II is so essential.”
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New Video: Rapidly Rising Birmingham-based Act Chartreuse Releases a Brooding Visual for Atmospheric “Woman, I’m Crazy”

With the release of the previously released, acclaimed tracks “Three Days” and “Midnight Oil,” the Birmingham, UK-based alt jazz/dark pop act Chartreuse — comprised of founding members Harriet Wilson (vocals, piano) and Micheal Wagstaff (vocals, guitar, piano) with Perry Lovering (bass) and Rory Wagstaff (drums) — quickly emerged into the British national scene and elsewhere. 

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Birmingham-based quartet will be releasing their highly-anticipated debut EP Even Money Doesn’t Get Me Out of Bed through [PIAS] Recordings on Friday. Interestingly, the EP’s latest single, the atmospheric and expansive “Woman I’m Crazy” finds the British upstairs channeling Wish You Were Here-era Pink Floyd, complete with a languid jazz-like piano-led opening  before closing off with an explosive and cathartic coda. Interestingly the track is the first track off the soon-to-be released EP with Harriet Wilson taking on lead vocal duties — and as a result the song is imbued with a haunting melancholy. 

“I wrote ‘Woman, I’m Crazy’ a few years ago when I was thinking negatively about myself,” the band’s Harriet Wilson says in press notes. “It changes from ‘you’ to ‘I’ throughout the track as I’m speaking to myself as though I was someone else and reassuring my other self that everything will be fine. I am asking my other self if they can feel how I’m feeling as though we’re sat opposite each other having a conversation.” 

Directed by Dylan Hayes, the recently released video features the members of the band performing the song in a dimly lit and moody house and an empty club. Centered around intimately shot close ups, the video captures an incredibly self-assured young band seemingly taking stock of themselves and their lives. 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Noosa, Australia-born, London-based indie pop duo and JOVM mainstays Geowulf. The act, which is comprised of longtime friends Star Kendrick and Toma Benjamin have known each other since they were teenagers; however, their musical collaboration is a much more recent development that can be traced to when Kendrick enlisted the assistance of her old friend Benjamin, to flesh out some of her early demos.

The duo then released a string of highly successful, critically applauded singles that began with “Saltwater,” which received over 1 million Spotify streams and reached Hype Machine‘s Top Ten and landed at #4 on Spotify’s US Viral Charts, continued with the Mazzy Star meets Fleetwood Mac-like “Don’t Talk About You,” the  Phil Spector meets Still Corners “Drink Too Much” and  the jangling, 60s girls group pop-inspired single “Hideaway,;” and The Smiths-like “Sunday,” before the release of their Duncan Mills-produced full-length debut, last year’s Great Big Blue.

Building upon their rapidly growing international profile. the duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore album My Resignation is slated for an October 25, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings. The album reportedly finds Geowulf’s Kendrick writing arguably some of the most brutally honest lyrics of the band’s growing catalog to date. Written from the perspective and lens of a 20-something women trying to maneuver the weight of expectations put upon by others and herself, the album touches upon heartbreak and loneliness — in particular, leaning how to accept and love the space and much-needed self-awareness it can provide. As a result, the album and its material finds the duo maturing and attempting to maneuver the complexities and uncertainties of adulthood with their dignity and sanity intact. And if that feels familiar to you, it should. We’ve all been there at some point or another, and we’re still struggling through it all.

My Resignation‘s fifth and latest single, album title track, the deliberately crafted pop confection “My Resignation” is centered around a Phil Spector Wall of Sound-like production consisting of shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths, a propulsive rhythm section, a soaring hook and Kendrick’s gorgeous vocals expressing regret, weariness and hope for a new start simultaneously. “‘My Resignation’ inspired the name and the theme of the album,” the band’s Star Kendrick explains in press notes. It summed up a lot of the years before — resigning from old habits and relationships. Creating space for new things and learning to let go. Toma and I feel proud of the song and had a lot of fun writing and finessing it. I originally wrote the demo on holiday in Sweden, so it came back to London with me, where Toma and I worked on it some more.”

Geowulf will be returning to North America to embark on a handful of tour dates throughout November. The tour will include a November 11, 2019 stop at Mercury Lounge. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

NORTH AMERICAN DATES:
11/7/2019 – Chicago, IL – Schubas
11/8/2019 – Toronto, ON – Drake
11/11/2019 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
11/13/2019 – Los Angeles, CA -Moroccan Lounge
11/14/2019 – San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
11/15/2019 – Seattle, WA – Barboza

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Geowulf Releases a Shimmering and Self-Assured Pop Gem

I’ve written quite a bit about Geowulf over the past few years. Comprised of Noosa, Australia-born friends and collaborators, Star Kendrick and Toma Benjamin, have known each other since they were teenagers; however, their musical collaboration is a relatively recent development that can be traced to when Kendrick enlisted the assistance of her old friend to flesh out some of her early demos. 

The duo released a string of highly successful, critically applaud singles that included “Saltwater,” which received over 1 million Spotify streams and reached Hype Machine‘s Top Ten and landed at #4 on Spotify’s US Viral Charts; the Mazzy Star meets  Fleetwood Mac-like “Don’t Talk About You;” the  Phil Spector meets Still Corners “Drink Too Much;”  the jangling, 60s girls group pop-inspired single “Hideaway,;” and The Smiths-like “Sunday,” the JOVM mainstays released their Duncan Mills-produced, full-length debut, Great Big Blue last year.

Building on the growing profile, the duo’s highly anticipated sophomore album My Resignation is slated for an October 25, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings, and the album finds the Aussie JOVM mainstays collaborating with acclaimed songwriter and producer Justin Parker on a number of tracks. Reportedly, the album finds Kendrick writing arguably some of the most brutally honest lyrics of the duo’s growing catalog to date. In fact, the material thematically focuses on loneliness — in particular, learning how to accept it and love the space and self-awareness it can provide. But naturally, the material is written through the lens of a 20-something woman trying to maneuver the weight of the expectations put upon by others and herself. Along with that, the album also deals with heartbreak. Of course that all should sound familiar and it should because all of us have been there at some point or another. In other words, the album finds the duo maturing and attempting to maneuver the complexities and uncertainties of adulthood with their sanity and dignity intact. 

My Resignation’s fourth and latest single “Lonely” is an incredibly self-assured bit of radio friendly and sugary pop, centered around jangling guitars, atmospheric synths, thumping drumming and Kendrick’s sultry crooning, but the song finds its narrator coming to a profound realization — that it’s better to be lonely and find yourself than to be lost and lonely with someone else. The song’s narrator also seems to be growing more confident within herself and within her own skin. It’s arguably one of the most mature and adult sentiments the duo have put to wax so far. 

“In a way, ‘Lonely’ epitomizes a lot of what this album means to me . . .” Geowulf’s Star Kendrick explains in press notes. “A bold and welcomed acceptance of myself and my own company. Feeling less and less like I need the approval of others. That’s one of the many nice things about getting a bit older.” 

The recently released video was shot on grainy Super 8mm film and it features Kendrick is a sparsely arranged room, wearing a gorgeous red, satin gown with matching veil. As she sings the song to herself, she takes off the gown and completes the song in just a plain bra and pair of panties. Essentially, the video finds Kendrick disposing of superficialities to get to the heart of the matter — her growing comfort with herself. 

New Audio: Aussie JOVM Mainstays Geowulf Release a Warmly Atmospheric and Deceptive Pop Confection

I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstays Geowulf over the past couple of years, and as you may recall, the act which is comprised of Noosa, Australia-born friends and collaborators, Star Kendrick and Toma Benjamin have known each other since they were both teenagers. However, their musical collaboration began when Kendrick, who grew up in a rather musical home started to seriously pursue music a few years ago. Kendrick enlisted the help of her old friend to help flesh out some of her early demos.

After a string of successful, critically applauded singles that included “Saltwater,” which received over 1 million Spotify streams and reached Hype Machine‘s Top Ten and landed at #4 on Spotify’s US Viral Charts; the Mazzy Star meets  Fleetwood Mac-like “Don’t Talk About You;” the  Phil Spector meets Still Corners “Drink Too Much;”  the jangling, 60s girls group pop-inspired single “Hideaway,;” and The Smiths-like “Sunday,” the JOVM mainstays released their Duncan Mills-produced, full-length debut, Great Big Blue last year.

Building on the growing profile, the duo’s highly anticipated sophomore album My Resignation is slated for an October 25, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings, and the album finds the Aussie JOVM mainstays collaborating with acclaimed songwriter and producer Justin Parker on a number of tracks.Reportedly, the album finds Kendrick writing what may arguably be the most brutally honest to date with the album touching about loneliness — in particularly, learning to accept it and to love the space it provides; but viewed through the lens of a 20 something trying to maneuver the weight of the expectations put upon by others and upon themselves. The album also touches upon heartbreak, growth and self-actualization. In fact, in some way, the material finds the duo maturing and trying to maneuver the difficulties and complexities of adulthood.

“I See Red,” My Resignation‘s first single was a subtle expansion of the sound that first caught the attention of this site and elsewhere across the blogosphere. While employing the use of shimmering synths, the track is primarily centered around jangling guitar lines, a propulsive rhythm section, a soaring hook and Kendrick’s crooning — and while sounding incredibly self-assured, the song comes from a deeply personal and lived-in place. “‘I See Red’ was written after an argument with my sister,” the duo’s Star Kendrick explains in press notes. “The song was a realization that you are only ever your most raw, horrible self when you’re with the people you love to death and who love you.

I have been very proactive over many years in going to therapy, talking openly about mental health and have constantly taken steps to control emotions, moods and even my temper – having a family history of mental illness, this is something my siblings and I have had a lot of awareness about.This song is about that process and what I’ve learnt. The ebbs and flows of trying to be the best version of yourself.”

My Resignation’s latest single “Round and Round” continues a run of sugary  pop confections, centered around warmly atmospheric synths, shimmering acoustic guitar, Kendrick’s imitable crooning and a soaring hook — and while bearing a resemblance to the material off their debut with a subtle nod to Slow Air-era Still Corners, the track was actually written in an extremely negative headspace and environment as it seethes with frustration over the narrator’s repetitive patterns. “I was frustrated with maybe a lack of self-control and an inability to break patterns in my life… In a few areas,” Geowulf’s Star Kendrick explains in press notes. “This song is my way to poking holes in how I handled that. The rest of the album follows a similar, emotional narrative, and is all about exploring those old things & how I’ve tried to leave them behind.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Amsterdam, The Netherlands-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and multi-disciplinary artist, Tessa Rose Jackson, who’s perhaps best known for her solo recording project Someone. Now, as you may recall, her debut EP Chain Reaction was an ambitious and creative undertaking that involved an accompanying short film. Unsurprisingly, the Amsterdam-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and multi-disciplinary artist’s forthcoming sophomore EP, Orbit may arguably be her most ambitious undertaking yet:  the material finds Jackson exploring the intensity with which art and music can be fused and how they can fully enhanced.

Thematically, the material incisively comments on our overstimulated digital age, suggesting that we spend so much time on our phones and on social media being exposed to external distractions that we’re essentially orbiting  around each other and our passions, rarely touching, resting or even focusing long enough to truly connect to anything or anyone.  Jackson also created an interactive augmented reality exhibition that combines her music with cutting edge technology and hypnotic art, which employs elements reminiscent of space and planets, with the exhibition being presented in gallery spaces in Amsterdam, London, Berlin, and Paris.

When viewed through a tablet or a smartphone, the artwork comes to life, and the song linked to that particular piece will be played through the viewer’s headphones. The artworks each react differently and react to the music, dynamically building as the songs progress. They will also react to touch from the viewer on their tablet screens, allowing full interaction and immersion. Trippy, huh?

Orbit‘s first single, the dreamy and ethereal “Get It Together” was centered by shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, buzzing power chords and a soaring hook that in some way brought Tame Impala and Air to mind. Centered around an infectious groove, shimmering guitars, four-on-the-floor like beats, the EP’s latest single “I Can’t Remember How To Talk To You” will further Jackson’s growing reputation for crafting breezy and buoyant hooks.

Orbit EP will see a May 1, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings.