Tag: rough trade

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Preoccupations Release Surreal Visuals for Haunting New Single “Disarray”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Canadian post-punk act Preoccupations, and as you may recall the band which features Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar), initially formed under the highly controversial name Viet Cong, which put the band in the middle of a furious and tumultuous debate centered around the appropriation of terms, names and symbols associated with historical groups and actions that evoke the horrors of despotism, fascism, genocide and so on. Ultimately, the band decided it was best to change their name before the release of their highly-anticipated sophomore album, an album that that found the individual members of the band in an unsteady and uncertain positions: at the time, each  member and relocated to different cities across North America, which made their long-established writing process of writing and testing material while on the road both extremely difficult, if not highly impractical. Along with that, several members of the band were reeling from having serious, long-term relationships end, around the time they were preparing to enter the studio. And unlike their previously recorded efforts, the band went into the writing sessions without having a central idea or theme to consider or help guide them along, essentially making the recording sessions akin to collectively blind leap of faith. Eventually the album’s material wound up drawing from something specific and very familiar — the anxiety, despair and regret that causes sleepless nights.  

Building upon a growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post-punk centered around themes of anxiety, uncertainty, creation, destruction and futility will be releasing their third album New Material is slated for release on Friday through Jagjaguwar Records, and the album, which finds the band recording and producing themselves is as the band’s Matt Flegel said in press notes, “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” Interestingly, much like their sophomore album, the band met without having much written or demoed beforehand — and according to the members of the band, it was arguably one of the most collaborative writing sessions they ever had as a band, with the sessions being extremely architectural in nature, with some ideas (proverbially speaking) being built up while others were torn down to the support beams. And although they didn’t initially know what the songs were about or where they were going with them, they had resolved to let the material show and not explicitly not tell. 

However, the writing and recording sessions reportedly led to a reckoning for the band’s Flegel. “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized. I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong,” says Flegel. In fact, the murky and angular  Manchester/Joy Division-like first single “Espionage,” while being among the most danceable songs they’ve written and released, focuses on a narrator, who has finally become aware of a disturbing penchant for self-sabotage in every aspect of his life. “Antidote,” New Material’s second single was centered around propulsive, industrial clang and clatter based rhythm meant to convey a sweaty anxiety, while being about how people forget that we’re all talking, walking, shitting animals, who have an infinite amount of knowledge within their fingertips but still manage to repeatedly make the wrong choices. 

“Disarray,” New Material’s third single is a meditative and slow-burning single featuring shimmering guitar chords, an angular and propulsive bass line, organic drumming and boom bap-like drum machine work during the song’s bridge. And while superficially nodding at Turn On the Bright Lights-era Interpol, the song captures something much darker and uncertain — as it’s centered around someone, who from their perspective, views everything they’ve ever known to be a lie. As the band’s Flegal recalls, When I was writing ‘Disarray,’ it started off with an image of a mother combing her daughters hair that came into my mind, I liked the metaphor of splitting the braids and combing through the tangles, and wrote the rest of the lyrics around that image. This song sat untouched for close to 6 months as a recording with just bass and drums before we came back to it and wrote and recorded the guitar line while out of our minds one night in the early AM.” 

Directed by Ruff Mercy, the recently released video pairs animation and live footage of the band’s Flegel walking on a deserted beach while singing the song’s lyrics, shot with a grainy, almost Instagram-like filter. At points, animated and cartoonish figures and lines burst into the proceedings and superimposed over Flegel’s face to convey deep, inner turmoil and chaos. 


New Video: Imarhan Releases Hallucinogenic Visuals for the Funky Disco Groove-based single “Ehad Wa Dagh”

Comprised of Iyad Moussa “Sadam” Ben Abderahmane, Tahar Khaldi, Hicham Bouhasse, Abdelkader Ourzig and Haiballah Akhamouk, the Tamanrasset, Algeria-based quintet Imarhan formed back in 2008 and are among a newer generation of Tuareg musicians that haven’t fought in the armed conflicts that have devastated Saharan Africa over the past 3 or 4 decades. Unsurprisingly, the members of Imarhan have been mentored by members of the internationally renowned Tuareg collective Tinariwen, while developing their own reputation across both the Tuareg world and elsewhere for pairing the ancestral tamashek poetry and rhythms of their elders with the contemporary sounds that reflect their urban upbringings, listening to a wide variety of music from across the globe.
With the 2016 release of the Algerian quintet’s critically applauded, self-titled debut album, they quickly became a buzz-worthy act with a growing internationally recognized profile which found them opening for a number internationally renowned touring acts including Kurt Vile, the aforementioned Tinariwen, Songhoy Blues and Mdou Moctor at venues across the US, the European Union and China. Imarhan’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Temet officially drops today and the Patrick Votan and Eyadou Ag Leche-produced album derives its name from the Tamashek word for “connections,” — and interestingly enough, the album reportedly is meant as an urgent wake up call to the listener, reminding them (and us, of course) that we are all deeply connected and without unity and understanding, we will never solve the world’s most urgent and pressing problems — i.e., environmental destruction, inequality, racism, growing strife and conflict, etc. As the band’s Ben Abderahmane said in press notes some time ago, “People should love each other. They need to know each other, we need to know each other, everyone should get to know their neighbor. We need to have the same approach as our elders,” he continues. “You will stumble across an old man who knows the world and will hand down his knowledge to his children.”
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that the album’s first single “Azzaman” was a meditative, hypnotic yet subtly contemporary take on the region’s desert blues sound that nods at psych rock — while thematically the song focuses on the passing of time and the handing over of a heritage and traditions by each successive generation, and the importance of leaving the right legacy. But along with that, the song makes a point of connecting different cultures of mixing the old and the new in a sensible way. Temet‘s second single “Tamudre” consists of a hypnotic and downright propulsive groove, punctuated with layers of percussion (both drumming and handclaps), call and response vocals and some impressive guitar work. Naturally, the song manages to remind me quite a bit of Tinariwen’s “Sustanaqqam” and “Adounia Ti Chidjret” but with a loose, bluesy vibe.
Temet’s latest single “Ehad Wa Dagh” features a stomping, dance floor-friendly, trance inducing, disco-like groove paired with some incredibly dexterous guitar pyrotechnics, making the song a funky and bold modernization of the desert blues that finds the band retaining familiar elements — the call and response vocals and the propulsive rhythms.
Directed by Visions Particulières, the recently released neon colored video focuses on Tamanrasset’s nightlife with members of the band arriving at a local nightclub to play a show — throughout it’s an explosion of colors, lights, and superimposed footage of the band members playing over an overhead of Tamanrasset. It’s a fitting psychedelic stomp.

Initially formed under the highly controversial name, Viet Cong, the members of the band now known as Preoccupations — Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar) —unknowingly and unwittingly found themselves in the middle of furious and tumultuous debate around cultural association and the association with historical groups and actions that would immediately evoke the horrors of despotism, war and genocide. And as an understandable result of that controversy, the members of the Canadian post-punk act made the difficult decision to change their name before releasing their highly-anticipated sophomore album.

When the members of the band reconvened to write the material that would comprise their self-titled effort as Preoccupations, each individual member of the band was in a rather unsteady and uncertain position: the members of the band had all relocated to different cities across North America, which made their long-established creative process of writing material while on the road extremely difficult. Along with that, as it turned out several members of the band were dealing with the heartache of having long-term relationships end, just as they were set to write. Adding to a growing sense of uncertainty, their sophomore effort found the band going into the writing session without having a central idea or theme to consider or guide them, making the sessions a collective and blind, leap of faith.

The end result was an album that drew from very specific things — the anxiety, despair and regret that has most people up at night. In fact, album singles like  “Anxiety,” focused on the natural and forced change placed upon the members of the band, and more generally on people while simultaneously capturing the confusing push and pull of human relationships, while “Degraded” one the album’s most straightforward and hook-laden songs was full of bilious accusation and recrimination. The album’s expansive, third single “Memory” as comprised of three distinct and very different movements held together by the song’s central narrative, which focused on the weight of one’s memory and the past has on every relationship and aspect of our lives.

Building upon a growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post punk, centered around themes of creation, destruction, futility, the Canadian post-punk band’s third, full-length album New Material is slated for March 23, 2018 release through Jagjaguwar Records, and the album, which finds the band recording the album themselves and enlisting the assistance of Justin Meldal-Johnson on mixing duties is as the band’s frontman Matt Flegel says in press notes, “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” Much like their previous album, the band went into the process without much written or demoed — and it was arguably the most collaborative writing sessions that they’ve ever had. While, writing New Material may have been extremely architectural with the band building ideas up, tearing others down to the support beams without quite knowing what exactly they were about, and as they were writing they had resolved for it all to show, not tell.

But reportedly, the writing and recording sessions led to a reckoning for Flegel.  “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized. I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong,” says Flegel. To that end, it’s interesting that “Espionage,” the murky and angular Manchester/Joy Division-like single is the first single off New Material — and in some way, the song evokes a narrator, who has finally become aware of his disturbing penchant for self-sabotage in every aspect of his life but despite the dark theme of the song, it finds the members of the JOVM mainstays crafting some of the most infectious, danceable material they’ve written to date.

Preoccupations will be embarking on a lengthy tour to support the album that begins in Toronto and includes two NYC area dates — April 19, 2018 at Rough Trade with Freak Heat Waves as an opener and April 20, 2018 at Elsewhere’s Zone One with Odonis Odonis as an opener. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.


4/14/18 Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
4/18/18 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
4/19/18  Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade *
4/20/18 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere (Zone One) ^
4/23/18  Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts *
4/24/18  Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel *
4/26/18  Columbus, OH @ The A&R Music Bar *
4/27/18  Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle *
4/29/18  Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry *
5/1/18  Winnipeg, MB @ Pyramid Cabaret *
5/3/18  Edmonton, AB @ Starlite *
5/4/18  Calgary, AB @ Palomino *
5/5/18  Calgary, AB @ Palomino
5/9/18  Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
5/11/18 Seattle, WA @ Barboza #
5/12/18  Portland, OR @ Star Theater #
5/14/18  San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop #
5/18/18  Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo #
5/19/18  Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar #
5/22/18 Austin, TX @ Barracuda
5/23/18  Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
5/24/18  St. Louis, MO @ Firebird
6/5/18 London, UK @ London Underground
6/7 Berlin, D @ Musik & Frieden
6/10/18 Hilvarenbeek, NL @ Best Kept Secret Festival
6/11/18 Paris, France @ Maroquinerie
6/12/18 Ramsgate, UK @ RMH
6/13/18 Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
7/3/18 Amsterdam @ Sugarfactory
7/4/18 Hamburg @Molotow
^ w/ Odonis Odonis
* w/ Freak Heat Waves
# w/ Moaning

New Video: Dream Wife’s Dystopian Anime-Influenced Visuals for Anthemic New Single “Hey! Heartbreaker”

Deriving their name as a commentary on society’s objectification of women, the London-based punk rock trio Dream Wife, comprised of Icelandic-born, London-based Rakel Mjöll (vocals), Alice Go (guitar, vocals) and Bella Podapec (bass, vocals) met while the trio were attending art school in Brighton, UK — with Mjöll, Go and Podapec forming the band in 2015 as part of an art project conceptualized around the  idea of a band born out of one girl’s memories of growing up in Canada during the 1990s.  And since their formation, the trio quickly developed a national profile, as they’ve received critical praise for their earliest releases and their live shows from the likes of NPR, DIY, Stereogum, Nylon, Entertainment Weekly and others. Adding to a growing profile, the trio have toured across the European Union, opened for Sleigh Bells and The Kills during their respective US tours, and have played a number of the world’s biggest festivals, including SXSW.

Dream Wife’s highly anticipated self-titled debut is slated for a January 26, 2018 release through Lucky Number Music and from the album’s latest single “Hey! Heartbreaker,” the British based punk trio’s sound features stomp and shout in the mosh pit worthy hooks, fuzzy and angular guitar chords and a steady backbeat in a fashion that’s reminiscent of Is Is and Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Elastica, complete with a brassy, kick ass and take names self-assuredness and bratty mischievousness at its core. 

Animated by Joe Prytherch, a former art director of Boiler Room, best known as Mason London, the recently released video envisions a dystopian yet familiar future inspired by anime, Akira, Josie and the Pussycats and Jem, in which the members of the band are depicted as robot performers held in a sleazy bar against their will, where they perform in front of bored customers. But when we catch them in the world of the video, the trio violently escape and lead the police through a breakneck escape from the city. 

As the members of the band said in press notes about the video and its concept, “We were super excited to work with Mason London to bring the world of ‘Hey! Heartbreaker’ to life. Collaboration is integral in our approach to Dream Wife, and we encourage different creative ideas and paths to mix with our own vision.

“It’s uncanny to watch these mechanical, parallel versions of ourselves rock out and then break out. We like to think that in another reality our robot versions are continuing their adventures; perhaps in the forest, perhaps plotting for a robot revolution, perhaps playing wild, secret rock shows to other robos.”

Karl Blau is an Anacortes, WA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who over the course of his 20+ year career as a musician has developed a now, long-held reputation for an eclectic, genre-defying approach as his sound routinely incorporates elements of folk, dub, R&B, Bossa nova, grunge, hip-hop, drone and worldbeat among others, as well as being a member of the Knw-Yr-Own/K Records collective. Along with that Blau has played in a number of bands including D+, Brothers Blau, Captain Fathom and Your Heart Breaks, and has collaborated with a number of Washington-based musicians including The MicrophonesPhil Elverum, Mount Eerie, LAKE, Earth and Laura Veirs. And additionally, Blau has released material through his Kelp Lunacy Advanced Plagiarism Society monthly subscription service.

And although Blau has writing, recording and releasing albums for over 20 years, he hadn’t received European distribution until 2015 when renowned indie label Bella Union Records released Introducing Karl Blau, which was considered by many — including album producer Tucker Martine, as shining a light on “one of the great hidden treasures of music.” Interestingly, Introducing featured gorgeous, lush covers of Nashville country/soul; however, his latest effort Out Her Space continues an ongoing collaboration with Spacebomb Records‘ founder Matthew E. White that goes back to 2009.


As the story goes, Spacebomb Records’ Matthew E. White had asked Blau to helm the recording sessions for his band Great White Jenkins. When White started Spacebomb Records in 2012, he envisioned the label as having a house band in the style of old school Stax Records and Motown Records. After White started the label, he called Blau to collaborate once again on an album — the critically applauded Big Inner. As the story goes, after hearing the Out Her Space demos, White suggested that the Spacebomb Records house band, centered Cameron Ralston (bass), who’s now a member of Fleet Foxes; Pinson Chanselle (drums) and White (guitar, synth), along with Megafaun’s Phil Cook (piano) and a cast of collaborators, who contributed horns, viola and backing vocals — with the album material being something of a cousin to its predecessor.

The album thematically speaking plays with humanitarian themes, against a backdrop of self-immolating American politics; in fact, as Blau explains in press notes, the album’s title was inspired by an “overwhelming feeling to point out that men, in general, need to listen, to stop being so assertive and get out of her space, let her balance again. Chill out dudes, rather than lead us over the cliff.” Sonically speaking, the material, as you’ll hear on album single “Beckon” is a languid and shimmering track that draws from 70s AM rock, classic soul, funk and Afropop with a slick, carefully crafted hook.

Blau has an upcoming NYC area show 1/11/18 at Rough Trade to promote the album.  [TICKETS/INFO]