Tag: Play It Again Sam

Live Footage: Balthazar Performs “I Want You” for HolyShit Sessions

A couple of years ago, the acclaimed Belgian indie rock act and JOVM mainstays Balthazar –songwriting duo Maarten Devoldere and Jinte Deprez, along with Simon Casier, Michiel Balcaen and Tijs Delbeke — went on a hiatus that allowed the band’s songwriting duo to pursue their own critically applauded, solo projects: Devoldere’s brooding and hyper literature Warhaus and Deprez’s old school R&B-inspired J. Bernardt. While Devoldere and Deprez found the ability to pursue their own individual whims and muses liberating, they found the time apart from each other and the band sparking an undeniable urge to work together, propelled by a greater mutual respect for each other’s individual work — and a desire for a much broader artistic vision for the band. 

When Balthazar reconvened to work on 2019’s Fever, they did so without any particular plan. But they had hoped that would improve upon their previously released work, show deeper artistic growth and further the band’s story. As they started to work, Devoldere and Deprez also mutually agreed that the album’s material should have a less serious, less melancholy tone. The end result is what may arguably be some of the loosest and most playful material of their career. 

Balthazar supported Fever with a relentless touring schedule that included a stop at Baby’s All Right. Feeling invigorated from playing Fever on tour, Devoldere and Deprez started working on new material, which eventually became their fifth and latest album, Sand. Released earlier this year, the album finds the acclaimed JOVM mainstays fully embracing a soulful alt pop and R&B leaning sound while being what they believe may be the most cohesive effort of their growing catalog to date. “There’s a theme running through these tracks, waiting, restlessness, not being able to live in the moment or putting your trust into the future,” Balthazar’s Deprez and Devoldere explain in press notes. “We’re at a point in our lives when we have to consider these aspects of life, that’s why the album is called Sand – after the sand in an hourglass.”

“The idea was always to drop another album as soon as possible after Fever. It was fun and we wanted to build on that,” Jinte Deprez says in press notes. “We did a lot of things that we haven’t done previously – we’ve never used as many drum samples or used bass synths before. So that was an exciting step for us. It was a very modern way of making an album, due to the constraints of the pandemic and we had to work remotely and converse electronically rather than in a studio.” “I can’t wait to play this album live because on the Fever tour we pushed the groove element further,” Maarten Devoldere adds.

In the lead up to the album’s release, I’ve written about four of Sand‘s singles: 

  • Halfway,” a shimmering, blue-eyed soul-like take on the Quiet Storm sound.
  • Losers,” a slinky, disco-like song centered around Devoldere’s sultry baritone, shimmering synth arpeggios and an infectious hook. But at its core, the song captures and evokes the anxious uncertainty of our lives over the past 15-19 months or so. 
  • You Won’t Come Around,” a slow-burning and cinematic, bit of 70s inspired R&B featuring shimmering strings, strummed acoustic guitar, skittering beats. And over that gorgeous arraignment, Devoldore expresses a confusing yet familiar series of emotions: regret and heartache that a romantic relationship has ended, relief that the relationship has ended and guilt that maybe they’ve moved on a bit too quickly; or in other words, the gnawing sense that you might be a selfish, uncaring asshole.
  • On A Roll,” a strutting yet seamless synthesis of their pre-Fever sound with their recent R&B-influenced material centered around Deprez’s crooning falsetto. 

After pandemic-related lockdowns, the members of the JOVM mainstay act got together for the first time in close to a year for the Heleen Declerq-directed and filmed documentary and concert film Sand Castle Tapes. Co-produced with HolyShit Sessions, the film captures the band staying at a beautiful old castle near Brussels as they got together to interpret and play Sand‘s material for the first time together. Declerq manages to capture the atmosphere of the castle and the music while giving an intimate look at the band. “You get to fully understand an album when you start playing it together, the relaxed circumstances lead to a whole other way of interpreting the songs,” the band says of Sand Castle Tapes

In the lead up to Sand Castle Tapes EP‘s release, I’ve managed to write about two of its singles:

  • A loose and jammy rendition of “Moment,” that found the band joyously expanding upon the song’s groove. Throughout the intimate and gorgeously shot footage, it’s made obvious that the band and their collaborators are just thrilled to be together and playing music together. 
  • A stripped down and intimate version of “On a Roll” centered around piano and mournful horns by Rob Banken, Peter Delannoye and Thomas Mayade. And over that slow-burning and gorgeous arrangement, Deprez takes up lead vocal duties while backed by Devoldere and some backing vocals by Judith Okon, Stefy Rika and Sarah Devos. The live rendition pulls out the confusion, heartache and longing of the original in a new direction.

The EP’s third and latest single is fairly straightforward rendition of “I Want You” with a subtle re-arranging for a live setting that replaces synths with piano while retaining the sultry, late night yearning at the core of the song. The live footage features the band playing in a gorgeous, old hotel room with a strobe light, meant to mimic a brewing storm outside.

Sand is out now. But the band will be releasing The Sand Castle Tapes EP digitally through Play It Again Sam on September 24, 2021. The EP will feature 10 songs from the Sand Castle Tapes film — 8 reworked songs off Sand and two jams. You can pre-order the EP here.

Live Footage: HolyShit Sessions: Balthazar Performs a Stripped Down Version of “On a Roll”

A couple of years ago, the acclaimed Belgian indie rock act and JOVM mainstays Balthazar –songwriting duo Maarten Devoldere and Jinte Deprez, along with Simon Casier, Michiel Balcaen and Tijs Delbeke — went on a hiatus that allowed the band’s songwriting duo to pursue their own critically applauded, solo projects: Devoldere’s brooding and hyper literature Warhaus and Deprez’s old school R&B-inspired J. Bernardt. While Devoldere and Deprez found the ability to pursue their own individual whims and muses liberating, they found the time apart from each other and the band sparking an undeniable urge to work together, propelled by a greater mutual respect for each other’s individual work — and a desire for a much broader artistic vision for the band. 

When Balthazar reconvened to work on 2019’s Fever, they did so without any particular plan. But they had hoped that would improve upon their previously released work, show deeper artistic growth and further the band’s story. As they started to work, Devoldere and Deprez also mutually agreed that the album’s material should have a less serious, less melancholy tone. The end result is what may arguably be some of the loosest and most playful material of their career.

Balthazar supported Fever with a relentless touring schedule that included a stop at Baby’s All Right. Feeling invigorated from playing Fever on tour, Devoldere and Deprez started working on new material, which eventually became their fifth and latest album, Sand. Released earlier this year, the album finds the acclaimed JOVM mainstays fully embracing a soulful alt pop and R&B leaning sound while being what they believe may be the most cohesive effort of their growing catalog to date. “There’s a theme running through these tracks, waiting, restlessness, not being able to live in the moment or putting your trust into the future,” Balthazar’s Deprez and Devoldere explain in press notes. “We’re at a point in our lives when we have to consider these aspects of life, that’s why the album is called Sand – after the sand in an hourglass.”

The idea was always to drop another album as soon as possible after Fever. It was fun and we wanted to build on that,” Jinte Deprez says in press notes. “We did a lot of things that we haven’t done previously – we’ve never used as many drum samples or used bass synths before. So that was an exciting step for us. It was a very modern way of making an album, due to the constraints of the pandemic and we had to work remotely and converse electronically rather than in a studio.” “I can’t wait to play this album live because on the Fever tour we pushed the groove element further,” Maarten Devoldere adds.

In the lead up to the album’s release, I’ve written about four of Sand’s singles:

“Halfway,” a shimmering, blue-eyed soul-like take on the Quiet Storm sound.
Losers,” a slinky, disco-like song centered around Devoldere’s sultry baritone, shimmering synth arpeggios and an infectious hook. But at its core, the song captures and evokes the anxious uncertainty of our lives over the past 15-19 months or so.
“You Won’t Come Around,” a slow-burning and cinematic, bit of 70s inspired R&B featuring shimmering strings, strummed acoustic guitar, skittering beats. And over that gorgeous arraignment, Devoldore expresses a confusing yet familiar series of emotions: regret and heartache that a romantic relationship has ended, relief that the relationship has ended and guilt that maybe they’ve moved on a bit too quickly; or in other words, the gnawing sense that you might be a selfish, uncaring asshole.
“On A Roll,” a strutting yet seamless synthesis of their pre-Fever sound with their recent R&B-influenced material centered around Deprez’s crooning falsetto. 

After pandemic-related lockdowns, the members of the JOVM mainstay act got together for the first time in close to a year for the Heleen Declerq-directed and filmed documentary and concert film Sand Castle Tapes. Co-produced with HolyShit Sessions, the film captures the band staying at a beautiful old castle near Brussels as they got together to interpret and play Sand‘s material for the first time together. Declerq manages to capture the atmosphere of the castle and the music while giving an intimate look at the band. “You get to fully understand an album when you start playing it together, the relaxed circumstances lead to a whole other way of interpreting the songs,” the band says of Sand Castle Tapes. 

Earlier this year, the Belgian JOVM mainstays released a a loose and jammy rendition of “Moment,” that found the band joyously expanding upon the song’s groove. Throughout the intimate and gorgeously shot footage, it’s made obvious that the band and their collaborators are just thrilled to be together and playing music together.

The second video from Sand Castle Tapes is a stripped down and intimate version of “On a Roll” centered around piano and mournful horns by Rob Banken, Peter Delannoye and Thomas Mayade. And over that slow-burning and gorgeous arrangement, Deprez takes up lead vocal duties while backed by Devoldere and some backing vocals by Judith Okon, Stefy Rika and Sarah Devos. The live rendition pulls out the confusion, heartache and longing of the original in a new direction.

Sand is out now. But the band will be releasing The Sand Castle Tapes EP digitally through Play It Again Sam on September 24, 2021. The EP will feature 10 songs from the Sand Castle Tapes film — 8 reworked songs off Sand and two jams. You can pre-order the EP here.

New Video: Follow Balthazar on A Stylish Trip to a “Groundhog’s Day”-like Hell

Acclaimed Belgian indie rock act and JOVM mainstays Balthazar led by songwriting partners Maarten Devoldere and Jinte Deprez went on a hiatus several years ago that allowed for the duo to pursue their own, critically applauded solo effects — Devoldere’s brooding, hyper literature Warhaus.and Deprez’s old school R&B-inspired J. Bernardt. And while Devoldere and Deprez found the ability to pursue their own individual whims and muses liberating, they also found the time apart sparking an undeniable urge to work together again, propelled a greater mutual respect for each other’s individual work and a much broader artistic vision.

When the members of Balthazar reconvened to work on 2019’s Fever, they did so without any particular plan. Their hope was to improve upon their previously released work, show deeper artistic growth, and to further the band’s story. Interestingly, when the band’s primary writing team began to write Fever’s material, they mutually agreed that the album would have a less serious, less melancholy tone. And as a result, the album’s material may arguably be among the loosest and most playful of their careers while maintaining the deliberate craftsmanship and razor sharp hooks that have won them national and international attention.

Balthazar supported Fever with a relentless touring schedule that included a stop at Baby’s All Right. Feeling invigorated from playing Fever on tour, Devoldere and Deprez started working on a new batch material that included the sultry, Quiet Storm-like “Halfway,” a track that found the band continuing where their last album left off — but while pushing the overall sound and aesthetic in an even more accessible, pop-leaning direction.

Interestingly, the JOVM mainstays’ fifth album Sand reportedly finds the band fully embracing the soulful alt pop/R&B sound of “Halfway” while crafting what the band believes is the most cohesive album of their careers to date. “There’s a theme running through these tracks, waiting, restlessness, not being able to live in the moment or putting your trust into the future,” Balthazar’s Deprez and Devoldere explain in press notes. “We’re at a point in our lives when we have to consider these aspects of life, that’s why the album is called Sand – after the sand in an hourglass.”

“The idea was always to drop another album as soon as possible after Fever. It was fun and we wanted to build on that,” Jinte Deprez says in press notes. “We did a lot of things that we haven’t done previously – we’ve never used as many drum samples or used bass synths before. So that was an exciting step for us. It was a very modern way of making an album, due to the constraints of the pandemic and we had to work remotely and converse electronically rather than in a studio.” “I can’t wait to play this album live because on the Fever tour we pushed the groove element further,” Maarten Devoldere adds.

So far I’ve written about two of Sand’s official singles:

“Losers,” a slinky, disco-tinged yet sophisticated track centered around Devoldere’s sultry baritone, shimmering synth arpeggios and an infectious hook, but at its core, the song captures the anxious uncertainty of our moment, a moment in which most of us feel as though our personal and professional lives have been in an indefinite stasis.
“You Won’t Come Around,” a slow-burning and cinematic, R&B-inspired track featuring shimmering strings, strummed acoustic guitar, skittering beats and Devoldore expressing a confusing yet familiar series of emotions: regret and heartache that a romantic relationship has ended, relief that the relationship has ended and guilt that maybe they’ve moved on a bit too quickly; or in other words, the gnawing sense that you might be a selfish, uncaring asshole.

Clocking in at a little under four minutes, “On A Roll,” Sand’s latest single finds the JOVM mainstays crafting a strutting and seamless synthesis of their pre-Fever sound with their recent R&B-influenced leanings with the track featuring buzzing bass synths, slinky guitar lines, glistening synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, a mournful horn arrangement and skittering beats, Deprez’s soulful crooning and falsetto.

Directed by Pieter De Cnudde, the recently released and incredibly cinematic video for “On A Roll” was shot at the NH Hotel in Bruges, Belgium, and follows Balthazar’s songwriting duo in a Groundhog’s Day-like hell.”The song and video is about the repetitive lack of control you have on situations, your life, your own ways,” Deprez explains in press notes. “Even for a moment when you think you can escape your own loop, you find yourself right back at the start again, finding out the changes didn’t change the outcome, or you.”

Sand is slated for a February 26, 2020 release though Play It Again Sam.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Balthazar Go on a “French Connection” Styled Adventure

Throughout the last couple of years, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering Belgian-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Maarten Devoldere, Delvodere is best known for being the frontman of two internationally recognized, critically applauded, JOVM mainstay acts Balthazar and Warhaus.

While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a remote retreat in Kyrgyzstan, his longtime friend, songwriting partner and Balthazar bandmate Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, focusing on his old school R&B inspired solo project J. Bernardt. During Balthazar’s hiatus, the band’s songwriting duo enjoyed the ability to indulge their individual whims and creative muses, crafting commercially successful and critically applauded work — and Deprez and Devoldere found it liberating. The duo found that the time apart with their own creative endeavors created an undeniable urge to work together again, propelled by a much broader artistic horizon and an even greater mutual respect for each other’s individual work.

When the members of Balthazar reconvened to work on last year’s Fever, they did so without any particular plan beyond just desiring to improve upon their previously released work and to further the band’s story. Interestingly, as Deprez and Devoldere started to write Fever’s material, they mutually agreed that the album would have a less serious, less melancholy — and while arguably finding the band at their loosest and most playful, the album retained the deliberate craftsmanship and razor sharp hooks that have won them national and international attention.

Last year also saw the band on a relentless touring schedule to support Fever that included a stop at Baby’s All Right in May. Feeling invigorated from the material and touring, the act wrote a batch of new material that began with the sultry-old school R&B-like “Halfway,” which found the band continuing the sound and aesthetic of Fever but while pushing it in an accessible, pop-leaning direction.

Interestingly, Sand, the JOVM mainstays’ forthcoming album reportedly finds the band fully embracing soulful alt pop — and crafting what may arguably be their most cohesive album of the careers. “There’s a theme running through these tracks, waiting, restlessness, not being able to live in the moment or putting your trust into the future,” Deprez and Devoldere explain. “We’re at a point in our lives when we have to consider these aspects of life, that’s why the album is called Sand – after the sand in an hourglass.”

“The idea was always to drop another album as soon as possible after Fever. It was fun and we wanted to build on that,” Jinte Deprez says in press notes. “We did a lot of things that we haven’t done previously – we’ve never used as many drum samples or used bass synths before. So that was an exciting step for us. It was a very modern way of making an album, due to the constraints of the pandemic and we had to work remotely and converse electronically rather than in a studio.” “I can’t wait to play this album live because on the Fever tour we pushed the groove element further,” Maarten Devoldere adds.

Sand’s latest single is the slinky, late night jam “Losers.” Centered around Devoldere’s sultry baritone, falsetto backing vocals, funk polyrhythm, shimmering synth arpeggios and an infectious hook, “Losers” may arguably be the slinkiest and most disco-influenced songs of their growing catalog, but while retaining a cool, seemingly European sophistication. But at its core the song captures the anxious uncertain of this particular moment: most of us feel like our professional and personal lives are in indefinite stasis without any idea of what’s next — hell, if there’s anything beyond this.

Directed by Pieter De Cnudde, the recently released video for “Losers” was filmed in the band’s native Belgium and follows the band in various guises on a French Connection-like crime story that depicts most of the song’s narrative in a literal fashion.

Sand is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Play It Again Sam.

New Audio: Westerman’s Atmospheric Meditation on Moral Relativism

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

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

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

New Video: Acclaimed Belgian Act Balthazar Releases Cinematic Visuals for Their Breeziest and Most Accessible Single to Date

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about Maarten Devoldere, a Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, known for being the frontman of the internationally acclaimed acts Balthazar and JOVM mainstays Warhaus. And as you may recall, Warhaus isa bit of a sonic departure from Devoldere’s work with Balthazar, as it was atmospheric jazz-leaning art rock that managed to recall  The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, Leonard Cohen and the poetry of William Blake — all while paired with Devoldere’s urbane, decadent, novelistic lyrics.

Unsurprisingly, Warhaus’ debut We Fucked a Flame Into Being derived its title from a line in DH Lawerence’s seminal, erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover — and the album’s material thematically focused on lust, desire and the inscrutably of random encounters with a deeply personal almost confessional nature. Warhaus’ self-titled, sophomore album found the material moving away from sin, lust an decadence and towards sincere, honest, hard-fought and harder-won love, as much of the material was inspired by Devoldere’s romantic relationship with backing vocalist Sylvie Kreusch. Reportedly, the recording sessions for the self-titled album was a much more spontaneous affair, heavily influenced by  Dr. John‘s The Night Tripper period — with the material leaning even more towards jazz while hinting at voodoo rhythms. 

While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a retreat in  Kyrgyzstan his Balthazar songwriting partner, co-frontman and longtime friend Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, holing himself in the studio, where he indulged his love of old-school R&B, eventually releasing a solo album as J. Bernardt. During their primary project’s hiatus, Devoldere and Deprez found the ability to indulge their whims and follow their creative muses while receiving commercial and critical success to be liberating; but it also led to the urge for the duo to write together again, propelled by a broader artistic horizon and their mutual respect for each other’s work.

Interestingly, when the members of the band reconvened, they had no particular plans, just a desire to better their previously released material and further the band’s story. As the band’s primary songwriters Both Devoldere and Deprez agreed on an overall less serious, less melancholy feel, leaning towards a looser, refreshed sound — while retaining their ability to sharp hook. The end result is Balthazar’s forthcoming album Fever, which is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Play It Again Sam Records.  Album title track “Fever” is a slinky and sultry sunset jam, centered around a strutting bass riff, stomping percussion, a swooping string motif, a sinuous hook, a bridge featuring twinkling keys and Devoldere’s plaintive baritone. The new single finds the band crafting swaggering and infectious pop that’s accessible, carefree, and flirty while being smart and unlike anything else written or recorded by a contemporary artist. 

Directed by Athos Burez, the recently released and incredibly cinematic video stars the songwriting duo of Devoldere and Deprez driving around and goofing off in a decidedly foreign and mountainous land. Shot between declining sunset and nighttime, the video is a woozy and feverish dream — the sort that as a photographer, makes me feel envy — centered around two old pals, and their easygoing chemistry. 

Comprised of an American, an Englishman and two Swedes, the members of FEWS relocated from London to Malmo, Sweden, where they unearthed its creative underbelly while internalizing the impact and influence of their new surroundings — and they immediately began working on the much-anticipated follow up to 2016’s full-length debut Means.  Interestingly, the band’s latest single “Business Man,” which will be released by Play It Again Sam, follows a self-imposed hiatus of sorts, one that had seen them writing and demoing new material, using the local studio of producer and friend Joakim Lindberg, while quietly returning to the UK to play a handful of well-received shows in London and Brighton. 

Sonically speaking, the explosive song is centered around twinkling Wurtlizer, slashing guitar and bass chords, feedback and distortion, thundering rhythms that fall and tumble around the mix and punchily delivered vocals — and while clearly drawing from Gang of Four, Wire, and Disappears, the song captures the modern day frustration of being caught up in the unending rat race, pointlessly striving for money to buy more shit that you really don’t want, and yet you can’t figure out how to get out the trap. Interestingly, as the band explains, the song “. . . is about people who realise they nee to shape up, get a haircut and suit, and work their asses off trying to please the boss. After a few years, burnout and the realization that the system is completely screwed, sees them lose their shit during the weekends before returning to the conveyor belt of conformity, trudging through the same bullshit week after week . . .”