Tag: Prince

Throwback: Happy 63rd Birthday, Prince!

JOVM celebrates what would have been Prince’s 63rd birthday.

New Video: Rising Vancouver Duo IAMTHELIVING and Teon Gibbs Release a Hilarious VIsual for Two-Step Inducing Bop “Boxes”

Rian Peters is a rising London-born, Vancouver-based soul vocalist, best known in music circles as IAMTHELIVING. As a child Peters green up listening to the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince and Steve Wonder — all of which have influenced his work. Following his musical destiny, Peters relocated to Vancouver, where he’s developed and honed a distinct yet versatile sound.

Teon Gibbs is a rising Botswana-born, emcee and producer, who as a child spent time living in South Africa, Angola and the UK before eventually settling in Vancouver. As an artist and producer, Gibbs has developed and honed a sound and approach that blurs genre lines.

The duo met in their adoptive hometown and quickly started a successful collaboration that resulted in a handful of attention grabbing singles including “Puppa” and “Between The Groove” and “The Distance,” which quickly established the duo’s sound — a dance floor friendly mix of 90s R&B and 2000s British R&B. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the duo will be releasing their seven-song debut EP together JNGL. Slated for release in June 2, 2021 release through Tiny Kingdom Music, the EP reportedly finds the duo continuing to craft dance floor friendly pop based on a meeting of the minds between two artists from very different yet simultaneously very similar backgrounds.

“We wanted to create a project that embodies who we are, where we’re from, and shows what we can do. The word “JNGL” just seemed to capture it all. Being from Botswana, the word jungle has followed me around my entire life, and IAMTHELIVING is originally from South London, which is the concrete jungle – this project is those worlds meeting…” Gibbs explains in press notes. ” “The sounds on this project are big and diverse but at the same time we really took a grassroots approach to making it, I think that’s why even though the sound fills the room it can still resonate with the listener’s core.”

But along with making folks hit the dance floor, the duo collaboration is fueled by their desire to lead by example for other Black voices to connect in their city. “We really feel like we’ve created our own little lane and we can really shed light on how dope the Vancouver music scene is,” the duo say.

JNGL’s latest single, “Boxes” prominently pairs IAMTHELIVING’s silky smooth croon and Gibbs’ dexterous and dense wordplay and laid-back delivery over a vibey, two-step inducing production featuring a sinuous bass line, twinkling Rhodes, shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats and an infectious hook that may remind listeners of Montell Jordan’s “Get It On Tonite.”

Directed by Joseph Carney, the recently released video for “Boxes” is a gorgeously shot yet hilarious send-up of love, delusion (perhaps influenced by drugs and drink), longing, heartbreak and cruel rejection.

New Video: Sarah Walk Releases a Cinematic and Feverish Visual for Her Cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U”

Sarah Walk is a rising Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist who currently splits her time between Los Angeles and London. Walk’s full-length debut, 2017’s Steve Brown-produced Little Black Book found the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist crafting piano-based ballads.

Last year’s Leo Abrahams-produced sophomore album, Another Me was a radical change in sonic direction for the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist with the album’s material finding Walk going towards shimmering and contemplative synth pop centered around percussive arrangements and soaring melodies. Another Me was inspired by a period of immense challenge and transformation, and thematically, the album touched upon marginalization, survival, death, misogyny, vulnerability, reclamation of oneself, learning how to be bold and take up space and the unique challenges of being a queer woman.

The Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist follows up the release of Another Me with a slow-burning and spectral cover of Prince‘s “Nothing Compares 2 U” centered around atmospheric synths, twinkling keys, brief and subtle bursts of strummed guitar, Walk’s achingly tender vocals and supple and soulful bass lines. Featuring guest spots from Abe Rounds and the acclaimed singer/songwriter and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, Walk’s cover deconstructs the song’s melody but in doing so, pulls out the song’s bitter loneliness, yearning, confusion but imbuing the proceedings with a complete detail and inability to move forward.

Walk has wanted to cover Prince for some time — partially because she’s a Minneapolis native; but also because Rounds and Ndegeocello played at the Purple One’s Paisley Park studio in the past. “Truthfully, it had been a really long time since I heard ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’” Walk says in press notes,” and I thought that may work in my favour — I didn’t want to get too inside the other versions that already existed because I wanted to make sure I approached it my own way.

“I recorded the main wurly piano part first and sort of just improvised that ending build up – I liked the idea of repeating the title over and over, almost trance-like, with these ominous chords and angry guitar sounds building up behind it. I kept seeing this visual of me singing that repetitive lyric on stage, almost trying to convince myself I was okay… while the curtain opened up behind me without me knowing it, exposing all of the memories and anger and heartbreak I was really feeling but not able to accept or admit yet.”

“Sometimes I think Prince would want everyone to play his music and sometimes I think he’d want it to never be played again, but I knew Sarah was the kind of spirit who would make it her own and she does,” Meshell Ndgeocello adds.

Directed and edited by Daniel Smith Coleman, the recently released video for Walk’s cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U” is a slow-burning and cinematic fever dream of loneliness, regret and loss — all while nodding a bit at Memento with some of the video’s occurring in reverse.

Throwback: Black History Month: Death

Today is February 21, 2021. It’s the 21at day of Black History Month. And as I’ve mentioned throughout this series, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles — with the hopes that it’ll be a bit of a primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

etroit-based garage rock/punk rock act Death have one of the most interesting backstories I’ve come across in this site’s 10-plus year history, and it’s worth retelling: Formed by The Hackney Brothers — Bobby (bass, vocals), David (guitar) and Dannis (drums) — in 1971, the band began as an R&B and funk band. But the sibling trio’s lives were transformed after they caught The Who and Alice Cooper in concert. As the story goes, David, the youngest of the sibling trio pushed for a hard rock-like song unbeknownst to them managed to presage punk and post-punk by several years, Of course, a change in sonic direction necessitated a change in band name — to Death, As Bobby Hackney explained in 2010, David’s concept was spinning death from the negative to the positive. “It was a hard sell.”

In 1975, The Hackney Brothers recorded a handful of songs written by David and Bobby at Detroit’s United Sound Studios with engineer Jim Vitti. According to The Hackney Family, Clive Davis funded those recording sessions — but while doing so, repeatedly implored that the band change their name to something much more commercially palatable. The Hackneys refused. Davis pulled his financial support and as a result, the band was left with seven recorded songs instead of the planned for 12. By the following year, the band released an extremely limited release of 500 copies of the “Politicians In My Eyes”/”Keep On Knocking” single, followed by their full-length debut to little fanfare.

By 1977, The Hackneys ended Death and relocated to Burlington, VT where they released two albums of gospel rock as The 4 Movement in the late 70s and early 80s. In 1982, David returned to Detroit while Bobby and Dannis remained, eventually forming the reggae band Lambsbread. Sadly in 2000, David Hackney died of lung cancer. But reportedly before he died, David Hackney told his older siblings that although they were misunderstood and forgotten in their heyday, history would prove them and their work as Death as truly revolutionary and important — even if it was after his own death. In a serendipitous spin of fortune that seems too good to be true, several years after David’s death, Bobby’s sons stumbled upon the original Death masters hidden away in their parents’ attic. Bobby’s sons were so impressed and innpisred bay what they had heard, that they began covering Death’s material during their own sets — and that helped bring attention to their father’s and uncles’ work together.

Drag City Records, re-released Death’s original recordings in 2009, 35 years after its initial recording and release.The band’s sound which effortlessly meshed elements of reggae, garage rock, porto-punk and metal manages to presage the punk movement by three years — all while being an important musical bridge between Parliament Funkadelic and Bob Marley and Bad Brains, Fishbone, Living Colour, Lenny Kravitz, TV on the Radio, Prince and countless others.

Sine the re-release of their demos and full-length debut, the current Death lineup — surviving brothers Bobby (bass, vocals) and Dannis (drums) with Bobbie Duncan (guitar) — have gone on a number of national tours, including making stops across the national festival circuit, winning over new fans with their groundbreaking sound, while further cementing their rightful place in music history.

Punk rock is Black y’all. And being Black is punk as fuck.

Throwback: Black History Month: Chaka Khan

Today is day two of Black History Month. And throughout this month I’ll feature Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards understanding the Black experience. Throughout the month I hope that you’ll appreciate these facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
Black history is American history. The end.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

When I got up today, my mind was set on one thing: the legendary Chaka Khan, one of the greatest voices in R&B and pop. Her flirtatious and brash cover of Prince’s “I Feel For You” still slaps — and it was one of the first pop songs to prominently feature rap in any fashion, presaging much of what you’ve heard on the radio over the past 35 years. “I’m Every Woman” is a joyous feminist anthem. And she was down with the Black Panthers in their heyday. So fuck yes to all o that.

Throwback: Black History Month: Prince

Today is the first day of Black History Month. And throughout this month I’ll feature Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards understanding the Black experience. Throughout the month I hope that you’ll appreciate these facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Prince. I mean what the fuck can I say about Prince? I don’t think the guy was capable of writing a bad song, ever. So enjoy some of my personal favorites from the Purple One.

New Video: The Besnard Lakes Release a Lysergic and Feverish Visual for Shimmering and Slow-Burning “Feuds With Guns”

Deriving their name from Besnard Lake in North Central Saskatchewan, the acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated Montreal-based indie rock act The Besnard Lakes — currently, husband and wife duo Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys) and Olga Goreas (vocals, bass), along with Kevin Laing (drums), Richard White (guitar), Sheenah Ko (keys) and Robbie MacArthur (guitar) — formed back in 2003. And since their formation, the Montreal-based sextet have five albums of atmospheric and textured shoegaze that some critics have described as magisterial and cinematic.

After the release of their fifth album, 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, The Besnard Lakes and their longtime label home Jagjaguwar mutually decided that it was time to end their relationship and go their separate ways. And as a result, the members of the band began to question whether or not it made sense to even continue the band. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the acclaimed Canadian act settled in to write and record what may arguably be the most uncompromising effort of their catalog, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Unlike their previously released material, the members of the Montreal-based went with a much more patient creative approach, taking all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Some of the album’s songs are old, tracing their origins to resurrected demos left on the shelf years before. Other songs were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek and Goreas’ Riguard Ranch, with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound.

Thematically, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings finds the band contemplating the darkness of dying, the light on the other side, and coming back from the brink of annihilation. And while touching upon the band’s own story, the album also is a remembrance of dear loved ones, who are no longer with us — particularly Lasek’s father, who died last year. From what Lasek observed of his father’s death, being on one’s deathbed may be the most intense psychedelic trip of anyone’s life” at one point Lasek’s father surfaced from a morphine-induced dream, talking about how he saw a “window” on his blanket, with “a carpenter inside of it, making objects.” And as a result, the album’s material is imbued with a surreal and ethereal quality.

Earlier this year, I wrote about The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings’ first single “Raindrops,” a slow-burning shoegazer with a painterly attention to gradation and texture, centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook. Interestingly, the album’s second single is the slow-burning, dream pop-like “Feuds With Guns.” Centered around an atmospheric and spacious arrangement featuring thunderous drumming, anthemic power chord-based riffs, twinkling keys, plaintive vocals and a soaring hook, “Feuds With Guns” sonically speaking, is one part Prince, one part Beach House.

“‘Feuds With Guns’ is one of the first songs written from our upcoming LP. This one is a good slow-dancer!” The members of The Besnard Lakes explain to Under The Radar ” Written almost entirely in the Cabanon at The Rigaud Ranch, this one started out as an organ and drum idea that morphed into a little OMD-style pop song.”

Directed by Dr. Cool, the recently released animated video for “Feuds With Guns” is a lysergic fever dream that features divers taking a dive, flying airplanes, cars and vans in front of a bright yellow sun. “I rotoscoped a couple of the big dives from a video of an extreme high-diving contest that took place in the 80s. About a week after I had animated the first guy’s big jump, I returned to the video to check out some other usable clips,” Dr. Cool explains in press notes. “I realized I had never watched the full clip of the first jump — I had just stopped once he hit the water. I found out that after he lands in the water he floats back up unconscious and then gets taken away on a stretcher. So now what was I supposed to do? People in the comments were asking what had happened but no one knew the answer. After a bunch of snooping around the internet I found the guy’s Facebook and he’s TOTALLY alive. His name is Pat and he lives in Florida. I messaged him but he hasn’t answered.”

The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Fat Cat Records here in the States and through Flemish Eye in their native Canada.

Throwback: Happy 70th Birthday, Tom Petty!

One of the greatest thrills I’ve had as a music fan, was somehow getting last-minute tickets through a broker to see Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers with Steve Winwood at Madison Square Garden back in June 2008. Up until, catching Bob Dylan with Mavis Staples at The Beacon Theatre, that 2008 concert was the most I had ever spent for concert tickets — and I don’t regret it for a single second. God, hearing all of great songs live.

Petty would have turned 70. And much like Prince, I doubt Petty was capable of writing a terrible song. I wanted to celebrate Tom Petty’s birthday — and i think you should, too. I’ll be playing some of his music today, and will feel grateful for all of those songs. Happy 70th Tom. Happy birthday to you, wherever you are.

New Audio: Johnny Franco Releases a Classic Rock-Inspired Single

Johnny Franco is a Sao Paulo-born, Portland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist  who has developed a cult following in his adopted hometown for high-energy street performances and stylish music. Building upon a growing reputation, Franco caught the attention of Sterling Fox, a producer who signed the emerging singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist  to his label, Blanket Fort Records. 

Franco’s debut EP, the four track Experience Report #1, which featured debut single “Treated Like Glass” was released earlier this year. And since the release of Experience Report #1, the Brazilian-born, Portland-based artist has been busy: he recently released the “Stay Real”/”Shelter The Light” double single — and “Stay Real” is a decidedly classic rock-inspired track centered around shimmering and shuffling  guitars, a sinuous bass line and an infectious hook. And while bringing Springsteen, Bowie and Prince to mind, the song not only reveals a deliberate attention to craft, it possesses a simple yet profound message to stay positive during this uncertain, historical moment. 

New Video: Hippo Campus’ Jake Luppen Releases a Glistening 80s-Inspired Pop Confection

Jake Luppen hasa risen to prominence for being the frontman and guitarist of acclaimed St. Paul, MN-based indie rock act Hippo Campus. While touring between 2018 and 2019 to support Hippo Campus’ most recent album Bambi, Luppen started writing new material as a n escape from the grind of endless tour and as way to process major and stress life events — in particular, the discovery by CT scan of an abnormal mass on his brain, which left him with the immediate impression that he was dying. 

Interestingly, the material Luppen started to write during that Bambi tour didn’t quite fit with his primary gig — and the end result was Luppen’s solo recording project Lupin. Luppen’s solo, full-length debut as Lupin is slated for an October 9, 2020 release through Grand Jury Music,  and as the Hippo Campus frontman explains in press notes, the album’s songs feel like he was meeting himself for the first time.  “With this record I wanted to get to the point, and say how things were, as opposed to dancing around them.”

For the Hippo Campus frontman, the creative process being the album was one of self-discovery that led to a much deeper self-confidence, in which he learned who he could be — and always had been — as an artist and as a person. With his previously released work in Hippo Campus, Luppen took a much vaguer approach to his songwriting, frequently eschewing the personal in favor of broader, shared experiences of his bandmates. Striking out as a solo artist allowed (and perhaps, even forced) him to do the complete opposite. Instead of focusing on looser ideas and generalities, Luppen found the bravery to write about his life — including, the breakup of a long-tern relationship, the aforementioned health scare, sexual exploration and discovering his own personhood with incisiveness, earnestness and honesty. 

Co-produced by Luppen and BJ Burton, Luppen’s debut effort is centered around sobering thematic concerns — but is paired with a bright and infectious soundscape reportedly inspired by by Charli XCX’s Pop 2, Tears for Fears, 80s New Wave and Prince. Fueled by Luppen’s desire to make 80s music through modern technology — or should i say 80s music for the 2020s? — the album also features synth and programming contributions from Jim-E-Stack and Buddy Ross. The end result is a shimmering yet off-kilter pop sheen that Luppen has said was guided more by intuition and feeling than anything else. 

The learning curve of producing his own material, being singularly at the helm of his sound for the first time, as well as writing his most personal material to date was a deeply vulnerable experience. An experience, in which he reconciled that it was okay to be his true, weird and sensitive self, to make mistakes and to enjoy the parts of himself and his personality that he usually didn’t have an opportunity to indulge. “I spent a lot of time thinking I had to hide behind other people or other things, but I realized, ‘No, I’m fully capable of doing this myself, I’m fully capable of having this vision.” Luppen explains. “I didn’t think that I was but no, there was this whole other part of myself I’d been stowing away out of fear this entire time.”

“May,” the album’s first single is a shimmering, 80s synth pop banger, centered around glistening synth arpeggios, skittering and thumping beats, an infectious hook and Luppen’s achingly tender falsetto delivery. Sonically speaking, the song brings Prince, Gordon Voidwell and Cut Copy to mind as it’s a hook-driven, pop confection built around earnest (yet kaleidoscopic) songwriting. 

The recently released video for “May” is a rotoscoped, animated visual made by Adam Fuchs. While capturing and evoking the song’s shimmering, kaleidoscopic vibe, the video feels like a hallucinogenic fever dream.