Tag: San Francisco CA

The Mighty Orchid King · Swirling

Throughout its history, the St. Albans, UK-based psych rock collective The Mighty Orchid King — currently, Jonny Bennett (vocals, drums), co-found er Martin van Herdeer (12 string guitar), Matt Snowden (guitar), Marcelo Cervone (bass, sax) and Will Stephen, a.k.a June Logue (synths and production) — have been in a constant flux since its founding, with 20 members rotating in and out of its sphere at nay given time. And as a result, the project has simultaneously been a 60s psych rock jam inspired collective and a bedroom project focused on polyrhythmic exploration.

The band’s forthcoming full-length debut The Doctrine of Infinite Kindness was recorded at June Logue’s home studio, DIY bedroom vocal booths and Tom Hill’s London-based Bookhouse Studio — and the album reportedly finds the act weaving the various aspects of the band’s complex history together: the album’s more jam inspired material drift and sharpe into more meticulously developed solo work. Thematically, the album thematically concerns itself with eco-anxiety with the album’s lyrics at points being like Kerouac-inspired spontaneous prose with direct protest songs about the destruction of Earth. While sonically, the album sees the band drawing from 60s psych rock, samba, jazz and house music with arrangements that feature fuzzy guitars and synths.

“Swirling,” the first single off The Doctrine of Infinite Kindness‘ first single is an an expansive and decidedly 60s psych rock inspired track centered around fuzzy power chords and enormous harmony driven hooks. Sonically, the song brings San Francisco‘s  Cool Ghouls to mind — while bristling with an infectious energy of a bunch of friends jamming and creating something cool. But at its core is a desire to escape one’s current circumstances and the world itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Video: Starlight Girls Release a Woozy and Trippy Visual for “Get Right”

Brooklyn-based indie rock act Starlight Girls can trace their origins back to 2011, when Christina Bernard (vocals), an Ohio-born megachurch chorister turned rocker; Shaw Walters (guitar), a San Francisco-born, guitar savant and tech wizard met and decided to start a band. They find their bandmates Sara Mundy (keys) and Isabel Alvarez (backing vocals), two Long Island-born theater junkies, Tysen Arveson (bass), a Seattle-born, Hawaii-raised art freak and Josh Davis (drums), a University of Michigan educated jazz drummer through Craigslist. 

The band initially emerged into the public eye through a wildly successful April Fool’s prank: they record an impression of acclaimed artist Joanna Newsom covering one of their songs and a handful of blogs take the bait, covering the song with rapturous praise. As a result, they quickly became a buzz worthy band, eventually releasing an EP that they support with a handful of national tours — even opening for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Building upon a growing profile, the Brooklyn-based at played one of Europe’s biggest festivals, which they followed up with their noisy and attention-grabbing Jamie Stewart-produced 7 x 3 EP. 

2016 saw the release of their enigmatic and cinematic, full-length debut Fantasm, which they supported through tours with an eclectic array of artists including Kate Nash, St. Lucia, Tilly and the Wall, Nick Waterhouse, Total Slacker, Crystal Fighters and Lucius. Since then, the members of the band have ventured outside of music and outside of Brooklyn in a variety of different creative projects: Christina Bernard has delved into film and directing, directing a self-penned short film shot in California, which will be released later this year. Shaw Walters has become a rising star in the tech world, traveling around the world creating holographic augmented reality projects for performers and artists, including a mixed-reality collaboration with acclaimed artist Marina Abramović, The Life, which has become a lightning rod for alt-right conspiracy theorists. The rest of the band has continued to solider on as musicians, during what may be the most difficult time for artists and creatives in recent memory. 

Interestingly the band’s Christina Bernard-produced EP Entitled was recorded at Upstate New York-based Marcata Recording– and the material reportedly is a dark yet upbeat come-on to an unknowable future while evoking a sexy freak-out from the edge of oblivion. That sounds and feels familiar, doesn’t it?  Hinting at Ennio Morricone film scores, shoegaze, art rock, goth rock, psych rock and Fleetwood Mac, the EP’s expansive first single “Get Right” further establishes the band’s cinematic and kaleidoscopic sound — but while arguably being the sexiest song they’ve released to date. 

Directed by the band’s Christina Bernard, the recently released video for “Get Right” was shot on a commune in rural North Carolina and is a feverishly surreal and psychedelic spoof on 90s karaoke videos that seems — to me, at least — to nod at Dario Argento films, as it’s part lysergic freak out, and part sensual slow dance into the dark recesses of the psyche. 

The rising Lincoln, NE-based soul and funk act Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal — Josh Hoyer (vocals, keys), Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar) Harrison El Dorado (drums) — formed back in 2012, and since their formation, the act, which features some of the Lincoln area’s most acclaimed musicians, has received attention nationally and internationally for a boundary crossing sound inspired by the sounds of Stax Records, Motown Records, Muscle Shoals, New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The Lincoln-based quintet have developed a reputation for being of the area’s hardest working bands: releasing four, critically applauded albums, including last year’s Do It Now, the members of the rising soul act have played hundreds of shows and have made several tours across the Continental United States and two European tours, opening for the George Clinton,Charles Bradley, Booker T. Jones, and Muscle Shoals Soul Revue and others.

Further cementing their reputation as one of the Plain States’ hardest working bands, the members of the Lincoln-based soul act will be releasing their Eddie Roberts-produced fifth later later this year through Color Red Records. “Hustler,” the album’s cinematic, third and latest single is a strutting bit of soul, prominently featuring Hoyer’s soulful, Tom Jones-like vocals, a commanding horn arrangement, a sinuous bass line, shimmering organ arpeggios and an enormous and rousingly anthemic hook. While seemingly possessing elements of The Payback-era James Brown, 70s Motown, Muscle Shoals, Daptone and Memphis soul in a seamless yet period specific synthesis, the upbeat track manages to be one-part much-needed proverbial kick in the ass and one part much-needed rallying cry for our unprecedented and uncertain moment, centered around the assuring yet forceful line “When the world wants you to sink or swim, I ain’t goin’ under.”

Things may be bleak right now but keep fighting y’all. There’s much hard and necessary work to be done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the release of last year’s full-length debut Grass Stains and Novocaine, the San Francisco-based shoegazers Seablite — currently featuring Lauren, Galine, Jen and Andy — quickly received national attention: the album placed highly on a number of that year’s Best-Of Lists, including landing at #36 on Good Morning America‘s Top 50 Albums of the Year list.

Building upon a growing profile, the band will be releasing Grass Stains and Novocaine‘s highly-anticipated follow-up, the 4 song 10 inch EP High Rise Mannequins. Recorded by Alicia Vanden Heuvel in San Francisco, the new batch of material slated for a February 21, 2020 release through Emotional Response Records reportedly captures the band growing as songwriters and musicians. 

“Pretend” the EP’s first single finds the Bay Area-based quartet’s sound drawing equally from fuzz pop, jangle pop, shoegaze and 60s bubblegum pop in a way that recalls The Smiths, La Sera and Phil Spector-era girl groups but with a bit of garage rock grit and grime, and a huge, anthemic hook.

‘”Pretend’ is one of our oldest songs from our first EP and we wanted to renew it with our current lineup,” the band says in an emailed statement. “We recorded it as part of a 4-song EP in July of 2019 with Alicia Vanden Heuvel at her very own Speakeasy Studios in San Francisco. Most folks are familiar with Alicia from her work in The Aislers Set and Poundsign, but she’s also been producing bands such as The Mantles, Personal and the Pizzas, and countless others in her studio for years. She uses a giant 2” tape machine that was originally used to record all of the sounds on the movie The Abyss, so there’s some vibes in that thing for sure.  Alicia has a very special ear and production style, it was amazing to collaborate with and bounce ideas off of her. Every time we finished a mix, we’d go out to Alicia’s car and blast the songs while sitting in her driveway, then run up into her house and crank the songs on her stereo and AB it. The EP recording experience felt natural, more like a hangout session where we happened to also be working on a record.”

The Los Angeles-based post-punk act Dancing Tongues, featuring core duo Alex Lavayen and Kevin Modry, can trace its origins to the breakup of the duo’s previous band. In the aftermath, the pair relocated to Los Angeles, where they began writing material inspired by the post punk of the late 1970s and 1980s — i.e., The Gun Club, The Cure and Talking Heads.

In 2016, Lavayen and Modry formally started the band, and bay the end of the year, they released their debt EP Positions late that year. Over the next two years, the band played shows in and around San Francisco, Los Angeles and Orange County while slowing building a community of fans and fellow artists. During that same period, the duo who had long held legitimate day jobs in music and art decided that it was time to channel all of their creative energy into the band. And as a result, they furiously wrote the material that would comprise their Jonny Bell-produced full-length debut Hypnotic Tales of Sex and Distress. Reportedly, the album thematically addresses the dissatisfaction, confusion and distractions we all experience as we desperately attempt to navigate through an overabundance of information. Each individual track on the album is meant to mark a chapter in a hypnotic journey that specifically deals with a different story — from the inherent anxieties of creative pursuits, commitment, identity, responsibility, love and romance, and escapement.

The album’s latest single “Body Language” will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting hook-driven material that’s deeply indebted to Joy Division and the like; but the slick production, stubbly pushes the song’s sound into the New Wave direction, making the song subtly nod at Billy Idol.  In some way, the new song finds the band at their most ambitious — but without steering too far from what’s won them attention so far. As the band explain in press notes, the song is about the odd (and yet inherent) push and pull sensation of almost every romantic relationship in which there are periods in which you feel so deeply connected to that person, that it’s like nothing can pull you apart,  and the moments in which you somehow feel disconnected and incomplete. And in those moments, you try your best to maneuver something that’s confusing and complicated — with all the bullshit and baggage of your own life.

 

 

 

New Video: Lunar Twin Releases a Brooding Late Night Visual for Trip Hop-like “Leaves”

Deriving their name from a scientific theory that suggests that Earth may have had a second moon, a twin moon that was destroyed in a massive collision during the earliest moments of our solar system, Lunar Twin, which is comprised of vocalist Bryce Boudreau and multi-instrumentalist and producer Chris Murphy can trace their origins back to 2011’s Denver Underground Music Festival when Boudreau joined Murphy’s goth band Nightsweats as a guest vocalist. And by 2013, the duo started collaborating together full-time.

With the release of their debut, 2014’s self-titled EP and 2017’s Night Tides EP, the duo which is currently split between Hawaii and Salt Lake City have developed a unique take on chill wave/dark wave that draws from and possesses elements of synth pop, shoegaze, dream pop and others. A couple of years have passed since I’ve written about Lunar Twin — and as it turns out, the duo’s Chris Murphy has been busy sharing the stages with a growing list of acclaimed and renowned artists including Grimes, Bonnie Prince Billy and Peaches through other projects he’s worked in. But the duo have also been working on their long-awaited third EP Ghost Moon Ritual, which is slated for a February 16, 2020 release through  the band’s own imprint, Tropical Depression/Desert Heat. 

Ghost Moon Ritual reportedly finds the duo expanding upon the sound that caught the attention of this site and elsewhere with some of the material nodding at psych folk and desert noir-themed late night moon music. The EP’s latest single, the moody and atmospheric “Leaves” is centered around Boudreau’s sonorous, Mark Lanegan-like baritone, layers of buzzing and shimmering synths and thumping beats. And while simultaneously nodding at trip hop and dream pop, the song evokes — for me, at least — a a specific late night loneliness I’ve known — wandering a new town, a new country on your own, as a stranger, a man from far away. 

Directed by San Francisco-based Zoey Nyguen, the recently released video is set in a raw, late night, neon cityscape — her neighborhood of Russian Hill. ” I wanted to embody the song with visuals from my within my neighborhood and local surroundings and to include basically a collage of clips from different time periods and eras of the City,” Nyguen says in press notes. “I made the video as a simple Creative Commons project and then approached the group about a possible collaboration and then filmed them performing to add to the story I had built around their song into something more” 

“Collaboration with a new person is always a surprise creatively and I thought her vibrant and imaginative approach visualizing the song to be just right .. to curate this version of this songs story,” Bryce Boudreau says of the video. “Her choice of imagery really melds with the track. I’m very happy with the way the video develops and encapsulates everything we are trying to express musically” Chris Murphy adds in press notes. 

New Audio: Rising Aussie Electro Pop Trio Haiku Hands Release a Thumping, Old School Hip Hop Inspired Banger

Splitting their time between Melbourne and Sydney. the Aussie indie electro pop act Haiku Hands, which features a core trio of Claire Nakazawa, Beatrice Lewis and Mie Nakazawa have received attention both nationally and internationally for a sound that draws from hip-hop, electro pop, dance music and house music. Interestingly, the trio is part of a larger collective that engages with and explores social norms with their lyrical, musical and visual content. 

Now, as you may recall last year was a breakthrough year for the Aussie electro pop trio: their high energy club bangers “Squat,” “Jupiter,” and “Not About You” amassed over 3.5 million streams — and as a result, each single landed spots on iTunes charts across the globe. Adding to an enormous year, “Jupiter” was included on Matt Wilkinson‘s Best Songs of 2018 So Far list, and received airplay on BBC Radio 1 and Radio X. Continuing on  the momentum, the members of Haiku Hands went on a month-long North American tour with CHAI that featured stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and the Market Hotel, an opening date for Cupcake in Chicago, and appearances at a handful of SXSW showcases. 

The Aussie indie electro pop trio’s highly-anticipated full-length debut is slated for release next year through Mad Decent and Spinning Top in Australia and New Zealand. In the meantime, the trio’s latest single, the Mad Zach-produced “Onset” is a brash and infectious banger centered around a glitchy and thumping 808-based, old school hip-hop production reminiscent of Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force’s “Renegades of Funk” and Missy Elliott paired with the trio delivering equally brash and dexterously flows that nod at Khia’s “My Neck, My Back (Lick It),” schoolyard rhymes and chants. As a child of the 80s, this song brings boom boxes, shell toe Adidas and B Boys breaking — but with a modern touch. 

With the release of her debut EP Everything I Know, an effort that has amassed over 500,000 streams, the San Francisco-based pop artist ZOLA quickly emerged into both the local and national scene for a sound and approach that meshes genres, styles and languages. Building upon a growing profile, the emerging San Francisco-based artist’s latest single, the Tim Vickers-produced “Crystal Floors” is a genre–blurring David Lynch-like fever dream as the track is centered around a breezy, Bossa nova rhythms, shimmering synths, a sinuous hook, and Zola’s alluring jazz-inspired vocals singing lyrics in English and French.

 

 

 

New Video: San Francisco’s Split Screens Releases a Lysergic, Hand-Made Animated Visual for Shimmering “From The Start”

Jesse Cafiero is a San Francisco-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist and animator — and the creative mastermind behind the indie pop/indie rock recording project Split Screens. With the release of his Split Screens full-length debut, 2014’s Before The Storm, Cafiero quickly established a profile for crafting widescreen pop, as the album received praise from the likes of Impose, My Old Kentucky Blog, GoldFlakePaint and others.  

Unfortunately, about a year after the album promotion campaign for Before The Storm, the San Francisco-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist and animator began to experience severe burn-out. “My passion for why I started making music in the first place had started to dwindle,” Cafiero says of that time, “and while it’s never fun to put a project on an indefinite hiatus, that’s essentially what happened.”

In order to keep his creative juices flowing, Cafiero shifted his focus to making collage art and animating music videos for a number of Bay Area-based bands with some of his work being prominently featured on Vice. Unsurprisingly, his forays into visual art eventually led him back to writing music. “Approaching a new art-form really gave me the perspective and confidence I needed to fight back any self-doubt and dig deep into recording this EP,” Cafiero says of that period — and of his soon-to-be released six song EP,  Everyday Static. 

While being the long-awaited follow-up to his critically applauded Split Screens full-length debut, Everyday Static is both a reflection of the burn-out he experienced and the result of a prolonged, deeply personal personal journey as an artist and and as a person. With five years of life behind him, Everyday Static’s material is understandably more mature and focused as its imbued with an understanding and awareness of the passage of time — and of course, of one’s own mortality. Interestingly, the new EP continues Cafiero’s ongoing collaboration with producer and engineer Jeremy Black, who has worked with Langhorne Slim and JOVM mainstay Geographer, as well as Tycho’s Rory O’Connor, who contributes drums throughout the EP. 

Everyday Static’s latest single “From The Start” is a deliberately crafted, swooning bit of guitar pop that thematically and sonically nods at Wall of Sound Phil Spector-esque pop, The Smiths and Patsy Cline-era country, as the song features shimmering lap steel guitar, reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling keys, a soaring hook and Cafiero’s achingly plaintive vocals. Interestingly, the song manages to be unhurried yet an earnest and urgent expression of appreciation and devotion. 

The recently released video for “From The Start” is a fully analog video, painstakingly animated frame-by-frame with images found at library sales, Goodwill and a variety of other donation-based stores with the end result being a lysergic visual that nods at Monty Python and The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour.  “My favorite part about animating with paper collage are the limitations,” Cafiero says. “The imperfections of shooting frame-by-frame really gives the video a human touch, something that I think is missing in our current digital lives.”

New Audio: Electronic Music Pioneer Patrick Cowley’s Posthumously Released, Early Experimental and Psychedelic-Tinged Electronica

Born in Buffalo, NY, the highly influential and forward-thinking electronic music producer and artist Patrick Cowley relocated to San Francisco in 1971 to study electronic music at the City College of San Francisco. By the late 70s, Cowley’s synthesizer and production techniques landed him a gig writing and producing songs for legendary, gender-bending disco superstar Sylvester, including the sultry and propulsive, smash hit “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” 

Around the same time, Cowley managed to create his own brand of party music, known as Hi-NRG, which was also dubbed “The San Francisco Sound” and by 1981, he had released a string of 12″ singles as a solo artist, including “Menergy” and “Megatron Man.” Interestingly, 1981 was an incredibly busy year for the legendary electronic music producer and artist: he co-founded Megatone Records, which released his debut album Megatron Man. 

During that same year, Cowley as hospitalized and diagnosed with an unknown illness. which would later become known as AIDS. Recovering for a brief spell he went on to produce Sylvester’s smash hit “Do You Want to Funk” and Paul Parker’s “Right on Target,” as well as his sophomore album Mind Warp. Tragically. Cowley died two weeks after his 32nd birthday from an AIDS-related illness.  Since his death, Patrick Cowley has become one of electronic music’s most influential and forward-thinking artists and producers.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, his previously released work has seen posthumous re-issues, including a re-issue of Mind Warp a few years ago. 

With growing attention on the late electronic music pioneer’s work, a collection of previously unreleased material written between 1973-1980 was recently discovered. Dubbed Mechanical Fantasy Box, the 13 previous unreleased songs will be released in tandem with Cowley’s homoerotic journal of the same name, and the compilation is a collection of Cowley’s work from the years preceding his meteoric rise as a pioneer of Hi-NRG dance music. Interestingly, these songs were written and recorded  before drum machines and programmable, polyphonic digital synthesis with the material being highly experimental. Sonically, the material flows from funk to kraut to psychedelic, ambient electronics inspired by Tomita and Kraftwerk. 

Some songs were mixed from 4-track stems by Joe Tarantino and all of the compilation’s 13 songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA. The vinyl edition comes housed in a black and white gatefold jacket Gwenaël Rattke featuring a photograph by Susan Middleton, liner notes by bandmate Maurice Tani and an 8.5×11 insert with notes. But more important, proceeds from the compilation will be donated to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has been committed to ending the pandemic and human suffering caused by HIV sine 1982. 

Clocking in at just a smidge under 11:30, Mechanical Fantasy Box’s first single “Lumberjacks in Heat” manages to be a trippy synthesis of John Carpenter soundtracks krautrock-inspired prog rock and psychedelia as the composition is centered by layers of shimmering and fluttering bursts of synths and some propulsive and forceful drumming.   Interestingly, much like Kraftwerk’s legendary and influential work, this previously unreleased single manages to simultaneously be of its time and remarkably contemporary — as though it could have been part of the retro-futuristic wave.