Tag: Pittsburgh PA

New Audio: Los Angeles’ Bass Race Releases a Space-Age Take on Neo-Soul

Los Angeles-based indie pop act Bass Race — Steven Mertens and Laura Benack — features a highly accomplished duo: Mertens formed his first band Satan’s Rats when he was 13 with elementary school friends. That project led to two decades of tours and collaborations. After studying Studio Composition at SUNY Purchase, Mertens joined The Moldy Peaches in 2001 — and he eventually went on to direct videos for an eclectic array of artists including Regina Spektor, Lil Peep, Benee and Sheryl Crow. He has also collaborated with Blood Orange and Here We Go Magic. Benack, who started playing piano when she turned four comes from a deeply musical family: her grandfather was a bandleader, her mom is a vocalist and her father and brother are jazz musicians.

Mertens and Benack met in New York back in 2010. They started dating and immediately started a musical partnership, centered around their love of their craft — and of course, each other. With the help of friends and Benack’s brother on trumpet, they made a bunch of music videos, including for “Clowns Everywhere.” Determined to use every bit of their collective talents, they began combining their music with Mertens’ visual art in 2019 with Bass Race’s Instagram page, which fans have described as “magical” and “super amazing mega fantabulous.”

While the duo cites yacht rock, synth pop, jazz, funk and soul as influencing their sound and aesthetic, their latest single “Chasing the Sun” is a warm and easygoing retro-futuristic, neo-soul number featuring an infectious two-step inducing groove featuring twinkling Rhodes, shimming rhythm guitar, stuttering boom bap-like drumming, a sinuous bass line. Adding to the easy-going yet retro-futuristic vibes, Benack soulfully and suggestively sings lyrics full of playful space age double entendres and references.

“We were in Pittsburgh a couple years ago over Christmas to see my family and we visited our good friend Pete Mudge (Nice Rec) in his studio along with our friends Laura Herrmann and Blane Britt (GrandEar),” the duo recalls in press notes.”There was a snow storm, and it was freezing. Once we were inside, we started to warm up and Pete played us some beats he had been working on. When we heard the track that would soon become ‘Chasing the Sun,’ we all started smiling right away. The creativity started flowing and within a couple hours, I had recorded all the vocals and Steven laid down some guitars. The gray weather definitely inspired the song title, but the song lyrics detail the arduous process of overcoming writer’s block and chasing creative inspiration.”

The duo created a space-age visualizer that follows Benack and an amorphous, cosmic being traveling through space and time in a spaceship — and there’s the sense that our space traveling duo is grooving through the cosmos, as you might be while playing the song.

The duo’s latest album Tender Vittles is slated for a March 19, 2021 release.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay TOBACCO Returns with a Gauzy Pop Hook-Driven Single

Over the course of this site’s ten-plus year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Pittsburgh-born and based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Thomas Fec, best known as TOBACCO. During his two-plus decade music career, Fec has used analog synthesizers and tape machines to create a boundary-pushing sound that evokes a woozy and uneasy intertwining of tension, anxiety, bemusement, pleasure, and menace as the frontman and creative mastermind of JOVM mainstays Black Moth Super Rainbow, as a solo artist and through his production work with other like-minded artists.

Since the 2016 release of Fec’s fourth TOBACCO album Sweatbox Dynasty, the JOVM mainstay has been incredibly busy: Fec reconvened with the members of Black Moth Super Rainbow to write and record the gauzy fwhich was supported with tours with The Stargazer Lilies and Nine Inch Nails. Last year, Fec produced The Stargazer Lilies’ abrasive and trippy Occabot — and he collaborated with Aesop Rock in Malibu Ken, a project that released their critically applauded debut album. Additionally, TOBACCO penned the theme song to HBO’s Silicon Valley.

Earlier this year, the JOVM mainstay released his first batch of solo material since Sweatbox Dynasty, the “Hungry Eyes”/”Can’t Count On Her” 7 inch which featured Fec’s woozy and scuzzy take on Eric Carmen‘s Franke Previte and John DeNicola co-written smash hit “Hungry Eyes.” But as it turned out, the “Hungry Eyes”/”Can’t Count On Her” 7 inch may have been a bit of a preview of the JOVM mainstay’s forthcoming full-length Hot Wet & Sassy.

Slated for an October 30, 2020 release through Ghostly International, Hot Wet & Sassy reportedly oozes with anti-love, self-hate and disappointment in others — while further refining the pop impulses that have underpinned his unique sound — blown out, bass, fuzzy analog synths, drum machines and Fec’s analog gurgle and hiss. “I feel like it’s the most I’ve been able to refine what I’m doing,” says Fec. “For the past decade I’ve had this motherfxcker on my shoulder that makes me pick away at structure and melody. Purposely covering up moments because I can. That really came to a peak on Sweatbox. So I wanted the opposite this time. Write the songs without ripping them in half. I went from ‘what would the Butthole Surfers do?’ to ‘what would Cyndi Lauper do?’”

I’ve managed to write about two of the album’s first three singles so far: Hot Wet & Sassy’s second single, “Babysitter,” a collaboration with Nine Inch Nails’ mastermind and fellow Pennsylvanian Trent Reznor, which was a deranged and unsettling lurch between a menacingly saccharine bridge and what sounds like someone gleefully running a rusty manual lawnmower through someone’s carpet paired with laser hot hi-hats, thumping tumps, scorching synths, gurgling and bubbling hiss and distortion and the most accessible, pop-leaning hooks of Fec’s recorded output. The album’s third single “Jinmeknen,” was a slow-burning and atmospheric Quiet Storm-like ballad of sorts centered around glistening synth arpeggios, bouncy beats, Fec’s heavily vocoder’ed vocals and some of the most earnest songwriting of his lengthy — and often extremely weird — career.

“Headless to Headless,” Hot Wet & Sassy’s fourth and latest single clocks in at a little under three minutes and is centered around glistening synth arpeggios,. blown out stuttering beats, brief staccato bursts of forcefully buzzing guitar, Fec’s heavily vocoder’d vocals and some infectious hooks. And while arguably being one of the album’s more gauzier songs, it sounds a bit like a mm murky and downright swampy take on 80s R&B — the drumbeats at point remind me of Cherelle’s “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On” for some reason. Much like the previously released singles, the track sees the JOVM mainstay playfully refining his overall sound without scrubbing or altering the weird elements that have won him attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay TOBACCO Releases a Glistening Pop-Inspired Ballad (Of Sorts)

Best known as TOBACCO, Thomas Fec is a a Pittsburgh-born and based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, and throughout his two decade-plus music career, Fec has used analog synthesizers and tape machines to create a boundary-pushing sound that evokes a woozy and uneasy intertwining of tension, anxiety, bemusement and pleasure as the frontman and creative mastermind of Black Moth Super Rainbow, as a solo artist and through his production work.

Earlier this year, the JOVM mainstay released his first batch of solo material since Sweatbox Dynasty, the “Hungry Eyes”/”Can’t Count On Her” 7 inch which featured Fec’s woozy and scuzzy take on Eric Carmen‘s Franke Previte and John DeNicola co-written smash hit “Hungry Eyes.” But as it turned out, the “Hungry Eyes”/”Can’t Count On Her” 7 inch may have been a bit of a preview of the JOVM mainstay’s forthcoming full-length Hot Wet & Sassy.

Slated for an October 30, 2020 release through Ghostly International, Hot Wet & Sassy reportedly oozes with anti-love, self-hate and disappointment in others — while further refining the pop impulses that have underpinned his unique sound — blown out, bass, fuzzy analog synths, drum machines and Fec’s analog gurgle and hiss. “I feel like it’s the most I’ve been able to refine what I’m doing,” says Fec. “For the past decade I’ve had this motherfxcker on my shoulder that makes me pick away at structure and melody. Purposely covering up moments because I can. That really came to a peak on Sweatbox. So I wanted the opposite this time. Write the songs without ripping them in half. I went from ‘what would the Butthole Surfers do?’ to ‘what would Cyndi Lauper do?’”

Last month, I wrote about Hot Wet & Sassy’s second single, “Babysitter,” a collaboration with Nine Inch Nails’ mastermind and fellow Pennsylvanian Trent Reznor — and the song was a deranged and unsettling lurch between a menacingly saccharine bridge and what sounds like someone gleefully running a rusty manual lawnmower through someone’s carpet: hot hi-hats and thumping toms battle against scorching synths and gurgling and bubbling hiss and distortion paired with some of the most accessible, pop-leaning hooks of Fec’s career. “This was new for me, but I wanted to write a song that was everything I am and have been, and then like one notch further. Trent was the notch further,” adds Fec.

“Jinmenken,” Hot Wet & Sassy’s latest single is a slow-burning and atmospheric Quiet Storm-like ballad of sorts, featuring glistening and twinkling synth arpeggios, bouncy beats, and Fec’s vocoder’ed vocals. Somewhat downcast and woozy, the track is centered around what may arguably be some of the JOVM mainstay’s most earnest songwriting of his lengthy — and often very weird — career. To my ears, the track seems to mischievously nod at 80s synth pop ballads. “It’s me trying to write a Jets song,” Fec says.

The official visualizer is prototypical Tobacco: surreal, hilarious, creepy and dystopian — and in a way that feels familiar.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay TOBACCO and Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor Reimagine a Beloved 80s Character in Creepy Visual for “Babysitter”

Thomas Fec, a.k.a TOBACCO is a Pittsburgh-born and based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, and throughout his two decade-plus music career, Fec has used analog synthesizers and tape machines to create a boundary-pushing sound that evokes a woozy and uneasy intertwining of tension, anxiety, bemusement and pleasure as the frontman and creative mastermind of Black Moth Super Rainbow, as a solo artist and through his production work.

2016 saw the release of Fec’s fourth TOBACCO album Sweatbox Dynasty — and since then the JOVM mainstay has been incredibly busy. TOBACCO reconvened Black Moth Super Rainbow to write and record gauzy 2018’s Panic Blooms, which was supported with tours with The Stargazer Lilies and Nine Inch Nails. Last year saw the JOVM mainstay producing The Stargazer Lilies’ abrasive and trippy Occabot — and he collaborated with Aesop Rock in Malibu Ken, a project that released their critically applauded debut album. And additionally, TOBACCO penned the theme song to HBO’s Silicon Valley.

Earlier this year, the JOVM mainstay released his first batch of solo material since Sweatbox Dynasty, the “Hungry Eyes”/”Can’t Count On Her” 7 inch which featured the Pittsburgh-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s woozy and scuzzy take on Eric Carmen‘s Franke Previte and John DeNicola co-written smash hit “Hungry Eyes.” But as it turned out, the “Hungry Eyes”/”Can’t Count On Her” 7 inch may have been a bit of a preview of the JOVM mainstay’s forthcoming full-length Hot Wet & Sassy,

Slated for an October 30, 2020 release through Ghostly International, Hot Wet & Sassy reportedly oozes with anti-love, self-hate and disappointment in others — while further refining the pop impulses that have underpinned his unique sound — blown out, bass, fuzzy analog synths, drum machines and Fec’s analog gurgle and hiss. “I feel like it’s the most I’ve been able to refine what I’m doing,” says Fec. “For the past decade I’ve had this motherfxcker on my shoulder that makes me pick away at structure and melody. Purposely covering up moments because I can. That really came to a peak on Sweatbox. So I wanted the opposite this time. Write the songs without ripping them in half. I went from ‘what would the Butthole Surfers do?’ to ‘what would Cyndi Lauper do?’”

Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “Babysitter” finds Fec teaming up with Nine Inch Nails’ mastermind and fellow Pennsylvanian Trent Reznor— and the end result is a deranged and unsettling lurch between a menacingly saccharine bridge and what sounds like someone gleefully running a rusty manual lawnmower through someone’s carpet. In other words:  hot hi-hats, thumping toms battle against scorched synths and gurgling and bubbling hiss and distortion. And yet, the song strangely enough manages to have some of the most accessible, pop-leaning hooks of Fec’s career — while clocking in at a radio friendly 2:19. “This was new for me, but I wanted to write a song that was everything I am and have been, and then like one notch further. Trent was the notch further,” adds Fec.

Co-directed by the JOVM mainstay, along with the seven fields of aphelion, Eanna Holton and Max Almeida and featuring industrial design by Chris Grondi, the recently released video for “Babysitter” stars a beloved 80s movie character — The NeverEnding Story’s Falcor!  — in an unusual role: being a murky, late night creep outside of an extremely suburban home. He’s the babysitter, alright; the sort that would watch you as your sleep from just outside your window. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay TOBACCO Teams Up With Trent Reznor on the Menacing and Infectious “Babysitter”

Thomas Fec, a.k.a TOBACCO is a Pittsburgh-born and based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, and throughout his two decade-plus music career, Fec has used analog synthesizers and tape machines to create a boundary-pushing sound that evokes a woozy and uneasy intertwining of tension, anxiety, bemusement and pleasure as the frontman and creative mastermind of Black Moth Super Rainbow, as a solo artist and through his production work. 

2016 saw the release of Fec’s fourth TOBACCO album Sweatbox Dynasty — and since then the JOVM mainstay has been incredibly busy. TOBACCO reconvened Black Moth Super Rainbow to write and record 2018’s Panic Blooms, which was supported with tours with The Stargazer Lilies and Nine Inch Nails. Last year saw the JOVM mainstay producing The Stargazer Lilies’ abrasive and trippy Occabot — and he collaborated with Aesop Rock in Malibu Ken, a project that released their critically applauded debut album. And additionally, TOBACCO penned the theme song to HBO’s Silicon Valley.

Earlier this year, the JOVM mainstay released his first batch of solo material since Sweatbox Dynasty, the “Hungry Eyes”/”Can’t Count On Her” 7 inch which featured the Pittsburgh-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s woozy and scuzzy take on Eric Carmen’s Franke Previte and John DeNicola co-written smash hit “Hungry Eyes.” But as it turned out, the “Hungry Eyes”/”Can’t Count On Her” 7 inch may have been a bit of a preview of the JOVM mainstay’s forthcoming full-length Hot Wet & Sassy,

Slated for an October 30, 2020 release through Ghostly International, Hot Wet & Sassy reportedly oozes with anti-love, self-hate and disappointment in others — while further refining the pop impulses that have underpinned his unique sound — blown out, bass, fuzzy analog synths, drum machines and Fec’s analog gurgle and hiss. “I feel like it’s the most I’ve been able to refine what I’m doing,” says Fec. “For the past decade I’ve had this motherfxcker on my shoulder that makes me pick away at structure and melody. Purposely covering up moments because I can. That really came to a peak on Sweatbox. So I wanted the opposite this time. Write the songs without ripping them in half. I went from ‘what would the Butthole Surfers do?’ to ‘what would Cyndi Lauper do?’”

Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “Babysitter” finds Fec teaming up with Nine Inch Nails’ mastermind Trent Reznor — and the end result is a deranged and unsettling lurch between a menacingly saccharine bridge and what sounds like someone gleefully running a  rusty manual lawnmower through someone’s carpet. In other words:  hot hi-hats, thumping toms battle against scorched synths and gurgling and bubbling hiss and distortion. And yet, the song strangely enough manages to have some of the most accessible, pop-leaning hooks of Fec’s career. “This was new for me, but I wanted to write a song that was everything I am and have been, and then like one notch further. Trent was the notch further,” adds Fec.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay TOBACCO Releases a Woozy and Menacing Cover of a Beloved 80s Classic

Over the past two decades, the Pittsburgh-born and based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Thomas Fec, best known as TOBACCO has used analog synthesizers and tape machines as as the frontman and creative mastermind of Black Moth Super Rainbow and as solo artist to create a boundary-pushing sound that evokes a woozy and uneasy intertwining of tension, anxiety, bemusement and pleasure.  

2016 saw the release of TOBACCO’S fourth solo album, Sweatbox Dynasty — and since then the JOVM mainstay has been incredibly busy: TOBACCO and the members of his primary gig, Black Moth Super Rainbow reconvened to write and record 2018’s Panic Blooms, which was supported with tours with frequent tour mates The Stargazer Lilies and Nine Inch Nails. He went on to produce The Stargazers Lilies’ abrasive yet trippy Occabot and collaborated with Aesop Rock in Malibu Ken, a project that released a critically applauded album. Additionally, TOBACCO penned the theme song to HBO’s Silicon Valley. 

TOBACCO’s first batch of new, solo material is the “Hungry Eyes”/”Can’t Count On Her” 7 inch, which was recently released through Ghostly International. Unless you’ve lived in a cave for the past 35 years or you’re 17, you know that the Franke Previte and John DeNicola co-written “Hungry Eyes” performed by Eric Carmen appears in an important scene of the 80s classic Dirty Dancing. The Pittsburgh-based JOVM mainstay has been covering “Hungry Eyes” in recent live sets — but before that, it appeared in a Pokemon porn parody. 

Interestingly, TOBACCO’s take on the 80s pop hit retains the original’s beloved and familiar melody and structure intact but while fucking with its texture in his characteristically sludgy and woozy style, centered around blown out bass, scuzzy synth arpeggios, analog gurgle and hiss and Fec’s heavily vocoder’ed vocals. The end result is a cover that purposelessly smudges and obscures the original’s sentimentality in a way that’s uneasy and menacing. “I did ‘Hungry Eyes; because I just love it. It’s a perfect song,” Fec says in press notes. “I play it straightforward and stay mindful not to disrespect the original.”

New Video: Malibu Ken (Aesop Rock and TOBACCO) Releases a Nightmarish and Holiday-Themed Visual for “Tuesday”

Born Ian Matthais Bavitz in Syosset, NY, the Portland, OR-based emcee and producer Aesop Rock is best known for being at the forefront of a collection of underground and alternative hip-hop acts that emerged during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The bulk of his most boundary pushing work was released through El-P’s Definitive Jux Records. Additionally, the Syosset-born, Portland-based emcee has developed a reputation for being a highly-sought after collaborator, working in a number of projects including The Weathermen, Hail Mary Mallon with Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz, The Uncluded with Kimya Dawson and Two of Every Animal with Cage. Importantly, whether as as solo artist or part of a collaborative group, Aesop Rock is considered one of the genre’s more verbose emcees, known for a flow that feature dense and abstract wordplay and complex inner and out rhyme schemes. 

Over the past decade, the Pittsburgh-born and based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Thomas Fec, best known as TOBACCO has employed the use of analog synthesizers and tape machines to create material — as a solo artist and as the frontman and creative mastermind of Black Moth Super Rainbow — that rapidly alternates between absurdly bright beauty and the murderously sinister, while evoking a woozy and uneasy intertwining of tension, anxiety, bemusement and pleasure. 

Malibu Ken, the duo’s collaboration together can trace its origins back to when TOBACCO and Aesop Rock toured together over a decade ago. “I find his production to be something special, and always wanted to see what I could bring to it,” Aesop Rock says in press notes. ” We recently found time to record some songs, and Malibu Ken was born. I brought a few stories to the table, but also did my best to let the production dictate the subject matter throughout. We hope you like the soup.” Now, as you may recall, Rhymesayers Entertainment released the duo’s self-titled full-length debut earlier this year, and with album single “Acid King,” the duo quickly established themselves for crafting some of the most forward-thinking, strangest and boundary pushing hip hop I’ve heard in some time.  

Aptly released today, “Tuesday,” Malibu Ken’s latest single continues on a similar vein as its immediate predecessor as it’s centered around Aesop Rock’s dense and mind-bending bars full of absurdist imagery, pop culture references and ridiculous word play and TOBACCO’s woozy retro-futuristic production consisting of tweeter and woofer rocking beats, chopped up and vocodered vocals and distorted whirring synth arpeggios.  

Directed by longtime Aesop Rock collaborator Rob Shaw, the recently released video for “Tuesday” is centered around familiar holiday-related themes — food, family, obligation and duty but with a nightmarish, fever dream-like logic. 

New Video: Aesop Rock and TOBACCO Collaboration Malibu Ken Releases Trippy and Menacing “Acid King”

Born Ian Matthais Bavitz in Syosset, NY, the Portland, OR-based emcee and producer Aesop Rock was at the forefront of a collection of underground and alt hip-hop acts that emerged during the late 1990s and early 2000s with his most boundary pushing work being released through El-P’s Definitive Jux Records. Aesop Rock has also developed a reputation for being a go-to collaborator, as he is the member of a number of different musical projects including The Weathermen, Hail Mary Mallon with Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz, The Uncluded with Kimya Dawson and Two of Every Animal with Cage. Throughout his career, the Syosset-born, Portland-based emcee and producer has been largely considered one of the more verbose emcees, known for flow that’s centered by dense and abstract wordplay and rhyme schemes. 

Over the past decade, the Pittsburgh-born and based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter TOBACCO (born Thomas Fec) as a solo artist and as the frontman and primary songwriter of Black Moth Super Rainbow has used analog synths and tape machines to record material that rapidly alternates between absurdly bright beauty and the murderous sinister in a way that evokes a woozy and uneasy intertwining of tension, anxiety, bemusement and pleasure. 

The duo’s collaboration Malibu Ken can trace its origins back to when TOBACCO and Aesop Rock toured together over a decade ago. “I find his production to be something special, and always wanted to see what I could bring to it,” Aesop Rock says in press notes. ” We recently found time to record some songs, and Malibu Ken was born. I brought a few stories to the table, but also did my best to let the production dictate the subject matter throughout. We hope you like the soup.” Rhymesayers Entertainment will be releasing the duo’s self-titled, full-length debut on January 18, 2019, and the album’s first single “Acid King” may arguably be one of the most forward-thinking, strangest and boundary pushing hip-hop tracks I’ve heard in some time. Sonically, Aesop Rock spits a series of dense, heady bars full of absurd and gory imagery over an woozy, eerie and menacing retro-futuristic production centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths. 

Directed by long-time Aesop Rock collaborator Rob Shaw, the recently released animated music video is a fittingly fucked up, psychedelic nightmare centered around the decay and melting of its protagonist’s face — in real time.