Tag: PJ Harvey

New Video: Phantastic Ferniture Returns with Mischievous Visuals for Soaring Album Single “Bad Timing”

Although I’ve suffered a number of frustrating technological setbacks, you may recall that last month, I wrote about Phantasmic Furniture, the  garage rock/guitar pop side project (of sorts) of acclaimed singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin and a collection of some of her closest and dearest friends, Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan K. Brennan. And as the story goes, the band can trace their origins to a birthday gathering in a Sydney, Australia-based bar to celebrate Jacklin’s 24th birthday. At some point, a group hug had manifested itself with all ten of the group’s hug participants, drunkenly promising to start a band together. “Only four of us remembered,” Hughes recalls. The band’s core and founding members bonded over a mutual love and appreciation for fern-related puns and leisurewear, and they would meet up whenever their individual schedules would allow, writing songs and playing smatterings of live dates to an increasingly devoted audience.

Eventually, Jacklin, Hughes and Brennan decided that Phantastic Ferniture wasn’t a side project, and they should focus on writing and recording an album together, centered around the fact that the band would be a lot more spontaneous and less technical than their individual pursuits. “That was the fun part,” Jacklin says in press notes. “Ryan never played drums in bands, Liz had never been a lead guitarist, Tom didn’t play bass and I’d never just sung before.” Hughes adds “We wanted a low level of expertise, because a lot of good music comes from people whose passion exceeds their skill.”

Slated for a July 27, 2018 release through Transgressive Records, Phantastic Ferniture’s self-titled debut finds the band adopting a mantra of not overthinking — of focusing on the urgency of the moment, while being whimsical. “Gap Year,” the second single off the band’s full-length debut is a 90s alt rock-like track that struck me as owning and spiritual debut to PJ Harvey. “Bad Timing,” the third and latest single of the single continues on a somewhat similar vein as its immediate predecessor — rollicking indie rock with a cinematic sweep centered around a propulsive rhythm section, psych rock-like guitar pyrotechnics and a soaring hook. 

The recently released video for “Bad Timing” continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with director Nick Mckk and the video finds the band mischievously employing the use of fern imagery — with some friends holding potted ferns in front of the band members. At one point, you even see them put a fern-related puzzle together — because, of course! As the band’s Jacklin says in press notes, “We have to really thank all of our friends who came and made this clip with us. It turned out to be quite a painful process but probably good for our dwindling musician specific fitness levels. I think all our arms were aching for about a week after. I think anyone who is already on the fence in regards to our use of fern imagery is going to really hate us after watching this. We had also just got back our puzzle that features on the cover of our record and were putting it together while we waited for each shot to be set up.”

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New Video: The Cinematic Yet Whimsical Visuals for Phantastic Ferniture’s “Gap Year”

Phantastic Ferniture is the garage rock/guitar pop side project (of sorts) of acclaimed singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin and the band features some of her closest friends, Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan K. Brennan can trace their origins to a birthday gathering in a Sydney, Australia-based bar to celebrate Jacklin’s 24th birthday. At some point a group hug manifested itself amid pinball participants with all ten of the group hug’s participants drunkenly promising to form a band together. “Only four of us remembered,” Hughes recalls. The band’s core and founding members bonded over a mutual love and appreciation for fern-related puns and leisurewear, and they would meet up whenever their individual schedules would allow, writing songs and playing smatterings of live dates to an increasingly devoted audience.

Eventually, Jacklin, Hughes and Brennan decided that Phantastic Ferniture wasn’t a side project, and they should focus on writing and recording an album together, centered around the fact that the band would be a lot more spontaneous and less technical than their individual. “That was the fun part,” Jacklin says in press notes. “Ryan never played drums in bands, Liz had never been a lead guitarist, Tom didn’t play bass and I’d never just sung before.” Hughes adds “We wanted a low level of expertise, because a lot of good music comes from people whose passion exceeds their skill.”

Slated for a July 27, 2018 release through Transgressive Records, Phantastic Ferniture’s self-titled debut finds the band adopting a mantra of not overthinking — of focusing on the urgency of the moment, while being whimsical. “Gap Year,” the second single off the band’s full-length debut is a 90s alt rock-like track that to my ears reminds me a little bit of early PJ Harvey as the rollicking and expansive track is centered around buzzing power chords, a propulsive rhythm section and a soaring hook — and in some way, the track may inspire some listeners to loosen up and venture off someplace to experience and see things, and to discover themselves. But as the band’s Elizabeth Hughes says about the song, “This song is about just doing what you need to do, with no expectation of any kind of return. It’s about trusting your instincts and not seeking validation …Julia and I are performing our hearts out to absolutely no one at one …The lack of audience doesn’t dull our enthusiasm, and we know our companionship and community will be enough of a reward. It’s poignant because we grew up in the mountains, both desperate for a stage.”

Directed by Nick Mckk and Phantastic Ferniture, the recently released and incredibly cinematic visuals for the song features the band’s Jacklin and Hughes performing an dancing and while not seeming desperate for an audience and for a stage, the viewer will immediately pick up on the isolation of their surroundings, and the companionship that the duo has.
 

New Video: Acclaimed Singer/Songwriter Eliza Shaddad Releases 120 Minutes-like Visuals for Mesmerizing New Album Single

With the release of her first two EPs Run and Waters, the London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Eliza Shaddad quickly rose to international prominence as she received praise from a number of major media outlets including The Fader, Nylon, Stereogum, The Line of Best Fit, The Independent, Clash, The 405, as well as airplay from BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 1Xtra, Beats 1 Radio and countless others for a sound that some have compared to PJ Harvey, Cat Power and others. (Not bad company to be a part of, if you ask me!) Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you may recall that I’ve written about the acclaimed British singer/songwriter, and as you may recall that Shaddad has arguably one of the more interesting backstories I’ve come across in quite some time. As the story goes, she’s the daughter of Sudanese and Scottish parents — and on her mother’s side, she’s the descendant of a long and very proud line of artists and poets that can be traced back to the 1800s; in fact, her great, great grandfather James Paterson, was a member of the Glasgow Boys, a group of extremely forward-thinking artists, best known for challenging the style and subjects of Victorian Scottish painting. She’s also spent time living in seven different countries and as a result, she speaks four languages. Along with that she’s earned a Masters in Philosophy and graduated from the Guildhall School with a degree in Jazz. Considering that background, it should be unsurprising that Shaddad’s work centers around constantly shifting and widening perspectives.

Additionally Shaddad has developed a reputation for pairing her creative work with significant causes. Along with fellow musician Samantha Lindo, she co-founded Girls Girls Girls, a female arts collective that has worked to empower women within the arts through special cross-disciplinary events across the UK. She has also raised awareness and funding for the anti-female genital mutilation charity Orchid Project.

The extremely busy Shaddad’s highly anticipated full-length debut Future is slated for release this fall, and the album, which will continue her ongoing (and longtime) collaboration with Chris Bond is slated for release later this year. The album’s second and latest single “My Body” is moody and hook-driven track centered around shoegazer-like atmospherics — in other words, shimmering guitar chords paired with Shaddad’s gorgeous vocals —  and trip hop’s dark and seductive grooves. The song evokes a plaintive  yet kind of uncertain need. Interestingly, as Shaddad explains in press notes, the song is about “Being betrayed by your body.  Knowing full well that you need to be alone, but doubting it every night.”

Directed by Joe McCrae, the recently released video was shot with several different cameras and employs the use of animation to show the transition between one’s conscious and subconscious while capturing the song’s — and in turn, its narrator’s — restlessness.

 

New Video: Introducing the Swaggering Sultry and Bluesy Sounds of Germany’s Sky Blue Skin

Comprised of founding member and creative mastermind Olivia Solner (vocals, electric slide guitar), Vincent Kusche (drums) and their newest member, Jakob Heeren (keys), the German indie rock trio Sky Blue Skin derives their name from the title of an unreleased Jeff Buckley demo that Solner was obsessed with. Initially, the project began as a solo project that began to receive a bit of attention for a series of live shows, before Solner recruited Vinzent Kusche. Jakob Heeren is a recent recruit, who makes his debut with the band on their recently released debut EP.

“Mirror Mirror,” the EP’s latest single is a scuzzy and swaggering blues rock with enormous, arena rock friendly hooks and power chord riffs that immediately brings The Kills, The Black Keys and PJ Harvey to mind. As Solner told me in an email, “Mirror Mirror” and the rest of the EP is the culmination of a difficult and emotionally intense period which resulted in the realization that nothing and nobody is what it seems — and that resulting disillusion is a good thing. Edited by the band’s Olivia Solner, the recently released video is a surreal and hallucinogenic mash up of found footage and old movies.

Several years ago, I wrote about the London-based electro rock/industrial rock trio Blindness, an act that featured Beth Rettig (vocals, programming), Emma Quick (bass) and Debbie Smith (guitar), who also had stints in Curve, Echobelly and Snowpony. After Blindness split up, Rettig started tinkering around with new music and reworking some ideas that she had lying around without much of a plan. As Rettig told me in an email, “Recently, I decided it was probably time to do something with some of the new stuff.” Debbie Smith, her former Blindness bandmate contributed guitars, along with some programming on one of the two singles, Rettig has released with her new project Where We Sleep, a project that Rettig hopes will have her working with other musicians as well. Unsurprisingly, the project draws from some of Rettig’s lifelong influences — Curve, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Nine Inch Nails, PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, Massive Attack, and others.

“Veins,” the first Where We Sleep single finds Rettig collaborating with her former Blindness bandmate Debbie Smith, who contributes some thumping drum programming, arpeggiated synths and buzzing power chords in a sultry and anthemic New Wave-like song that sounds as though it were influenced by Sixousie and the Banshees and Depeche Mode. “Crawl” is a moody and atmospheric track centered around Rettig’s breathy vocals and industrial clang and clatter — and sonically speaking, the song may arguably be the most Depeche Mode-like that she’s released yet.

 

 

Born into a family of artists and musicians, the Denton, TX-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Claire Morales began to play music and make visual art at a very young age. Family gatherings were frequently interrupted by a three year-old Morales insisting on singing a mix of Beatles and Disney songs on a makeshift, fireplace stage. The Denton, TX-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began playing her first solo shows as a middle school at local coffee shops, armed with her father’s 1960s Gibson and an arresting voice that has had many well-meaning people throughout  at her life would deal “more powerful than I thought it would be, looking you.”

Morales’ 2015 full-length debut Amaranthine saw her work translation from folksy and rootsy solo singer/songwriter to fully fleshed out band with at sound that many have described as melodic, hazy, 70s inspired rock centered around a nostalgic meditation on childhood — from the perspective of someone, in the early throes of adulthood. However, All That Wanting, Morales’ sophomore effort, is the much-anticipated follow-up to her debut, and the album, which is slated for a June 29, 2018 release reportedly explores the vast freedom, possibility and existential terror of young, adult life; in fact, the album revolves around the human tendency to endlessly crave more, asking how we can stave off and tame that feeling and instead take in the beauty before you. Desire is ultimately viewed as a mythic force capable of compelling one forward or consuming one wholly.

Recorded by Matt Pence and Jeremy Buller at the Denton-based Echo Lab, Morales and her backing band of Alex Hastings, Ryan Williams and Russ Connell spent six days recording the album’s ten tracks mostly live together in the studio’s cavernous main room, which gives the album and its material the raw energy of a group of musicians who have collaborated together for a long time, and hinges on mutual respect and open communication between everyone involved. The album finds Morales and company fearlessly and fluidly passing through a vast sonic palette including intense dramatic moments, shoegazer-like psychedelia, profound introspection, rumbling unease and cathartic release.

All That Wanting‘s latests ingle, the album title track “All That Wanting” centers around fuzzy, pedal effected guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section, a soaring, arena rock friendly hook, Morales’ powerhouse vocals and a trembling, unfulfilled longing that sonically and thematically reminds me quite a bit of PJ Harvey and Shana Falana, complete with a distinctly feminine strength and resiliency.

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Tancred Releases an Anthemic Yet Intimate New Single

Starting her career as a member of renowned indie act Now, Now, the Maine-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Jess Abbott is the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed recording project Tancred, which she’s released three critically applauded albums — 2011’s Capes, 2013’s self-titled sophomore album and 2016’s Out of the Garden. Adding to a growing profile, Abbot has toured with Foxing, Julien Baker, Weaves, Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas, and she’s played at Riot Fest.
Abbott’s fourth album, the Lewis Pesacov-produced Nightstand is slated for a June 1, 2018 release through Polyvinyl Records, and as Abbott explains in press notes, the album was born out of a rather unexpected revelation she experienced after becoming much more confident with the release of 2016’s Out of the Garden.  “After I became comfortable in this new skin, in truly being myself, I was immediately hit with loneliness,” Abbott recalled in press notes. “I realized that human connection is really important to me.” And as a result, Abbott began a journey of personal exploration that involved connecting with others, as much as connecting with herself. “I was reading a lot of books, learning a lot of new hobbies, meeting so many new people — just taking in as much information as possible to try and figure out what it really meant to me to be alive,” she recalled.  Interestingly, as Abbott told NPR Music, the new album “takes a step back form the energy of my last album to bring in a little more vulnerability.”

Interestingly, the creative process for Nightstand began in a way that its predecessors began with Abbott alone in a her room with a guitar, strumming chords and singing words until songs gradually coalesced; however, unlike its predecessors, Abbott made a concerted effort to devote three days a week for an entire year to only playing and writing music. When the recording process began at Lewis Pesacov’s Los Angeles-based home studio, the focus was less on finishing songs and more on perfecting them — and along with that, Pesacov offered new approaches and gear that afforded Abbott new avenues of exploration that were incorporated into the production and tone on every song of the album. “My favorite part of each day was sitting down to decide which guitar we needed to use for the song we were recording,” Abbott recalls of the recording process. “It sounds so simple and I know most records are made this way, but it was my first time actually being able to do that and I loved it.” But while being an expansion of her sound, the album thematically and lyrically will further her reputation for songs centered around her own experience as a queer woman — which in our current sociopolitical moment can be dizzying, alienating, and isolating. But as Abbott emphasizes in press notes, there can be comfort in such times: “Ultimately, we are all feeling these things together, and that can be enough to feel less alone. There’s a hopefulness in the loneliness.”

Nightstand’s first single, “Reviews” is a propulsive and chugging, PJ Harvey-like track centered around Abbott’s plaintive vocals which evoke a quiet, resiliency, vulnerability and an aching self-doubt, and a rousingly anthemic hook, and as a result the song manages to carefully walk a tightrope between an intimate, confessional nature and an arena rock friendliness.   

New Video: The Tender and Gorgeous Visuals for Xylouris White’s “Daphne”

Over the past 12-18 months or so, I’ve written a bit about the genre-defying, world music duo Xylouris White, comprised of Melbourne, Australia-born, New York-based drummer Jim White, who’s best known for being member of the internationally acclaimed instrumental rock act Dirty Three and for collaborating with a number of equally renowned artists including PJ Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Cat Power, Bill Callahan a.k.a. Smog and others; and beloved Crete-born vocalist and lute player Giorgos Xylouris, the son of renowned vocalist and lyra player Psarantonis Xylouris, who is best known best known for leading the Xylouris Ensemble.

Strangely enough, although White and Xylouris had been friends and collaborators for more than 20 years, it wasn’t until 2013 that they decided that they should directly collaborate together, a process that was accelerated when the duo played together at a Nick Cave curated  All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. The duo’s long-held admiration of each other’s work and their friendship have naturally found a way to influence everything about their creative process, revealing a mischievous and deep simpatico in which each musician intuitively knows when it’s time to lead, when to follow backwards and in heels, as the old saying goes. when to coax more from each other or when to hold back– but underneath there’s a jazz-like sense of unfettered and effortless improvisation of two old masters at their craft.

Unsurprisingly, Goats their debut effort together was indebted to their unique creative approach, which Giorgos Xylouris has poetically described in press notes as being “Like goats walking in the mountain. They may not know the place, but they can walk easily and take risks and feel comfortable. Really, the goats inspired us.” The duo’s sophomore effort, Black Peak continued the goat analogy, although the album’s title was derived from one of Crete’s most famous and beautiful mountains; however, the album, which was produced by Fugazi‘s Guy Picciotto and was “recorded everywhere,” as Xylouris joked in press notes, found the duo expanding upon their sound as the material possesses a subtly modern take on traditional sounds and motifs — at points sounding as though it nodded heavily at classic rock, punk rock and jazz, as you’d hear on album singles “Black Peak,” and “Forging,” both of which are two of my favorite songs off that album.

The duo’s third, full-length effort together, Mother was released earlier this year, and as Xylouris said in press note about the duo’s new album “Mother is the extension of Goats and Black Peak. Three things, all part of a whole. Goats are mothers, Zeus was raised on Amaltheia’s milk, Black Peak is Mother Earth . . . Mother Earth is the mother of everything.” As Xylouris adds “a theme of the album is the significance of simplicity and a child-like approach. So, we connect mother and child and play instruments as toys. Xylouris White is still gestating.”

Mother‘s first single “Only Love” was a rollicking and passionate stomp that consisted of White’s propulsive and forceful drumming, Xylouris’ dexterous and heavy metal guitar god-like lute playing and an infectious hook paired with Xylouris’ sonorous baritone. And while possessing a rare mix of urgency and a deceptive simplicity, the song further reveals the duo’s unique chemistry, as it features a playfulness as its core. The album’s latest single “Daphne” is a gorgeous yet meditative song that while building up to a explosive climax, manages to be a swooning declaration of love — a love that may be unrequited, but interestingly enough, as Xylouris explained to Stereogum, the song actually goes back to his time with Xylouris Ensemble — or roughly sometime in the early 90s when they first met. And as Xylouris admits, the duo had discussed recording a version of the song featuring their arrangement — lute and drums. The lyrics were written by Mitsoo Stavrakakis and are translated into English below:

It’s a song following us a lifetime
It’s a love song and the lyrics say

I’ve got your love roots in my heart,
And your blossom in my mind

I float in your scent
Because your scent is beautiful

The recently released video features White’s and Xylouris’ mothers dancing to the song in their homelands of Australia and Crete, Greece respectively. As White explained both in press and to Brooklyn Vegan, “For this clip they are dancing separately but both connecting with their sons’ music through dance. They are also relating to the ground they are dancing on, one in Australia and one in Crete.” The visuals convey and emphasize a remarkable tenderness — and well, it should make you think of your own mother.