Tag: San Francisco CA

New Audio: The Gorgeous and Soaring Sounds of Dublin’s Cloud Castle Lake

Currently comprised of Daniel McAuley (vocals, synths), Brendan William Jenkinson (guitar, piano), Rory O’Connor (bass) and Brendan Doherty (drums), along with a rotating cast of collaborators and friends, the Dublin, Ireland-based act Cloud Castle Lake derive their name from a Vladimir Nabokov short story about a voyager, who finds a place so beautiful that he wants to spend the rest of his life there, but is cruelly dragged back to reality. And with their 2014 self-released debut EP, Dandelion, the Irish act received attention for a sound that routinely juxtaposes dark and despairing lyrics with a euphoric catharsis that increasingly draws from the work of Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders while being equal parts pastoral folk and soaring post-rock crescendos. And adding to a growing profile, the band has opened for touring acts such as Glasser, Lisa Hanningan and Ultraisa. 

Cloud Castle Lake had recently re-surfaced with the release of “Twins,” their first single in quite some time and building upon the buzz of that single, the Irish quartet released the stunning and breathtakingly gorgeous, Amnesiac-era Radiohead-like single “Bonfire,” which features twinkling, arpeggiated keys, and jazz-infected drumming and a tender yet soaring melody. As the band’s Daniel McAuley explained in press notes, “Bonfire is based around a pretty simple melody I came up with a few years ago. I kept being drawn back to it periodically and steadily adding and expanding it until it grew out into a full song. Writing it felt like a meditative task – what I’d imagine knitting a scarf is like. The choir parts were performed by our pals Tonnta, a contemporary choral group from Dublin. The giddiest day of recording for me was probably the first day they came in and sang through their parts. Getting to hear such talented musicians turn all that midi data and notation into music feels like magic. The lyrics have to do with doubt and denial and keeping secrets. They’re very loosely based on an old Irish/Welsh myth about rival tribes trying to find out the secret name of the other’s god in order to defeat them.”

Next month, the members of the Irish quartet will be embarking on a 5 date North American tour with stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and a February 6, 2018 stop at Rockwood Music Hall. These tour dates will serve as a bold re-introduction to the band, as well as building up buzz for the band’s Rob Kirwan-produced debut, slated for a Spring 2018 release. 

New Video: The Breezily Nostalgic Visuals and Sounds of JOVM Mainstays Cones’ Latest Single “First Time”

Throughout this past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the San Francisco-born, Los Angeles-based sibling duo Cones — and as you’d recall, the duo comprised of Jonathan Rosen, a pop music influenced, acclaimed hand-drawn animator,  who has created music videos Toro y Moi, Eleanor Friedberger and Delicate Steve, and who played Johnny Thunders for the HBO series Vinyl; and Michael Rosen, a classically trained pianist, commercial/film composer and experimental sound artist can trace the origins of their collaborative project together to when they began playing together as members of NYC-based indie rock Icewater. Eventually,  the members of Icewater began playing as the session and touring band for Eleanor Friedberger’s New View, and while touring with Friedberger, the Rosens began to conceptualize what their new project would sound like, ultimately deciding that their project would fuse Jonathan’s pop sensibilities with Michael’s lush, atmospheric soundscapes and keyboard-based instrumentation. 

Shortly after the tour to support Friedberger’s New View, the Rosens along with a bunch of friends, associations and collaborators wrote and recorded the material that would comprise their debut EP, Whatever You’re Into, which featured single “Echoes On,” a single that paired Jonathan’s dreamy falsetto with a twangy, psych country-like arrangement with a breeziness reminiscent of 70s AM radio. The EP’s follow up single, “Back In The Brain” further cemented their growing reputation for crafting breezy and ethereal synth pop with soaring hooks — but with that song, there was a darker undertone, as it was an ode to solitude.

“Later,” which the band released a few months ago found the duo retaining the shimmering and atmospheric, synth-led arrangements that first caught the attention of this site and the rest of the blogosphere — but interestingly enough, it may arguably be one of the most dance floor friendly singles they’ve released, as the song pairs lush atmospherics with a funky, two-step inducing bridge. But underneath the joyous vibes, the song as Jonathan Rosen explained was much more ambivalent than what the listener should actually expect. “I wrote ‘Later’ a few years ago when I was moving back home to California from New York. I finished it on Highway 1. It captures that moment in a breakup when you finally start to find peace, but some of that bitterness is still hanging around. It was originally a bit somber, but Michael and I realized it worked pretty well as a dance track, so we went for it,” as Jonathan Rosen explains in press notes.

“First Time,” the JOVM mainstays latest single is a breezy bubblegum pop-inspired track that manages to nod at early Beach Boys and contemporaries like Pavo Pavo and others while featuring fluttering synths, ethereal vocals and propulsive, four-on-the-floor drumming. As a result, the song has a sincere and wistful nostalgia over a profound universal experience — falling in love for the very first time with an expected naivety. 

The recently released video features Jonathan Rosen’s hand drawn animations with live 8mm footage, specifically chosen to evoke the nostalgic feeling within the song.

If you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of the year, you’ve likely come across a few posts featuring San Francisco-born, Los Angeles-based sibling duo Cones, and as you may recall, the duo comprised of Jonathan Rosen, a pop music influenced, acclaimed hand-drawn animator,  who has created music videos Toro y Moi, Eleanor Friedberger and Delicate Steve, whose own rock ‘n’ roll dream started in earnest when he played Johnny Thunders for the HBO series Vinyl; and Michael Rosen, a classically trained pianist, commercial/film composer and experimental sound artist can trace the origins of their collaborative project together to when they began playing together as members of NYC-based indie rock Icewater. Eventually. the members of Icewater began playing as the session and touring band for Eleanor Friedberger’s New View.

While touring with Friedberger, the Rosens began to conceptualize what their new project would sound like, and ultimately, they decided that the project should fuse Jonathan’s pop sensibilities with Michael’s lush, atmospheric soundscapes and keyboard-based instrumentation. Shortly after the tour to support New View, the Rosen Brothers along with a bunch of friends, associates and collaborators wrote and then recorded the material that comprised their debut EP Whatever You’re Into, which featured single “Echoes On,” a single that paired Jonathan’s dreamy falsetto with a twangy, psych country-like arrangement with a breeziness reminiscent of 70s AM radio. “Back In The Brain” further cemented their growing reputation for crafting breezy and ethereal synth pop with soaring hooks — but with that song, there was a darker undertone, as it was an ode to solitude.

The duo’s latest single “Later” while retaining the shimmering and atmospheric synth-led arrangements that first caught the attention of this site and the rest of the blogosphere, may arguably be one of their most dance floor friendly with the duo subtly nodding to disco and electro pop thanks to a two-step inducing bridge, which gives the song a playful, funky air; however, as the band’s Jonathan Rosen explains, the song is much more ambivalent than what you’d expect, “I wrote ‘Later’ a few years ago when I was moving back home to California from New York. I finished it on Highway 1. It captures that moment in a breakup when you finally start to find peace, but some of that bitterness is still hanging around. It was originally a bit somber, but Michael and I realized it worked pretty well as a dance track, so we went for it.”

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Shana Falana Releases Vivid and Surreal Visuals for “Cool Kids” That Focus on Acceptance and Inclusion

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for the better part of the past year or so, you’d be familiar with JOVM mainstay Shana Falana, and as you may recall, Falana is a California-born, Upstate New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of her musical career to  San Francisco‘s D.I.Y. scene, as well as a stint in a local, Bulgarian women’s choir. By 2006, Falana had been in New York for some time and was struggling through drug addiction and financial woes, when she lost part of an index finger in a work-related accident. And under most normal circumstances, the accident for most people would be considered either extremely unlucky and perhaps even tragic; however, the settlement money she received provided a much-needed period of financial stability and a desperately-needed period in which she could get sober and find a new focus in her life and music. You’ll also recall that, her sophomore effort, Here Comes the Wave, which was one of my favorite albums released last year, was conceptualized and written during two different parts of Falana’s life — while she was struggling with drug addiction and trying to get sober, and in the subsequent years that have followed in sobriety. Naturally, the material at points was rewritten, revised and refined with the growing sense of perspective and awareness that comes when you’ve gotten older and hopefully much wiser than what you were. As a result, the material winds up being centered around a universal duality — in this case, how its creator once thought, felt and once was and how its creator now thinks, feels and is. But along with that, the material focuses on transformation as a result of emotional turmoil, the inner strength and resolve to overcome difficulties, the acceptance of time-passing, aging and one’s own impending mortality., as well as the death of her father. 

Falana’s sophomore effort found her continuing her collaborating with producer D. James Goodwin, best known for his work with Bob Weir, Whitney and Kevin Morby and with her long-time partner, collaborator and drummer Mike Amari, with Goodwin and Amari playing much larger roles on the album, as the trio of collaborators boldly went for much more audacious sounds, more heightened moments and an emotional vulnerability — while remaining relentlessly and infectiously upbeat and positive. And in a subtle fashion, the material suggests as TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe said during last month’s Meadows Festival, “Everything turns out okay in the end. If it isn’t okay now, well clearly, it isn’t the end yet.” 

Waves’ latest single “Cool Kids” while being decidedly among the album’s most shoegazer-inspired tracks manages to be simultaneously meditative and anthemic, as it possesses some enormous and rousing hooks, propulsive drumming and a shit ton of distortion with looped vocals and unsurprisingly, the song has an overwhelming positive message. As Falana explains in press notes, “The song, which I wrote last year, is about embracing yourself and letting go of judgements against others.” As she adds, “Like most of my work, it meditates on one tone, one note, attempting to create a space where people can relax, and dream.”

Interestingly, the recently released Bon Jane-produced video is a mischievous mix of 70s hair product commercials and workout video, as it features a diverse array of people blow-drying their hair in slow motion while on stationary bikes. There’s also a lot of rainbow flag waiving — and of course, Falana herself is seen sporting felt hearts, the same ones that she’s been sewing onto people’s clothing and passing out at her shows. “I’ve been sewing felt hearts onto people’s clothing and asking them to make a pledge to be more vulnerable, empathetic, and to actively take care of others in their communities,” Falana says in press notes. (Of course, the video makes me wish I still had hair; but that’s another issue.) 

In terms of the video, Falana says “This is about as political as I get. This year has forced so many of us to re-proclaim the basics of human rights and decency. It’s been heartbreaking to see so many friends in my local community, who have been under attack and marginalized further, and so how could that not be on my mind when making a video for ‘Cool Kids’?

“When Bon Jane, who brilliantly shot and directed this, and I got together, we both loved the idea of presenting that dreamy, meditative state through people blow drying their hair in slow motion. This video is about re-affirming my belief in the future. During the shoot, we kept calling the group o people on bikes an ‘Army of Love,’ because that’s what we’re doing. Going to war for love.” 

Earlier this year, I wrote about  San Francisco-born, Los Angeles-based sibling duo Cones  and as you may recall the sibling duo comprised of Jonathan Rosen, a pop music influenced, acclaimed hand-drawn animator,  who has created music videos for a number of renowned artists including Toro y Moi, Eleanor Friedberger and Delicate Steve, whose rock ‘n’ roll dream started in earnest when he played Johnny Thunders for the HBO series Vinyl; and Michael Rosen, who is a classically trained pianist, commercial/film composer and experimental sound artist can trace the origins of their band to when they began playing together as members of the NYC-based indie rock act Icewater. Eventually, the members of Icewater began playing as the session and backing band for Furnaces’ Eleanor Friedberger, helping to write, record her latest album New View.

And as the story, while touring with Friedberger, the Rosens began to conceptualize what Cones would sound like, and ultimately they decided that the project’s overall sound would fuse Jonathan’s pop sensibilities with Michael’s lush, atmospheric soundscapes and keyboard-based instrumentation.  Shortly after the tour, the Rosens with a bunch of friends, associates and collaborators to write and record the material that would eventually comprise their debut EP Whatever You’re Into, which featured single “Echoes On,” a single that paired Jonathan’s dreamy falsetto with a twangy, psych country-like arrangement with a breeziness reminiscent of 70s AM radio.

Their latest single “Back In The Brain” will further cement the sibling duo’s reputation for crafting breezy and wistful synth pop with a motorik-like groove and soaring hooks but underneath the breeziness is a song is an aching loneliness. As Jonathan Rosen explains “A friend of mine once described living alone as a sensation of being constantly inside of your own brain — your house is your head. After a while I realized I would often think the phrase ‘back in the brain’ upon returning home from being out, so we turned it into a song. It’s my ode to solitude.

“The animation, drawn and colored by hand, brings this idea to life. Through the yes of Bob the Hippie — an extremely groove dude, who lives inside of a lava lamp, we witness the magical confusion of seclusion.”

Alice Merton is a Canadian-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, who has lived a rather nomadic life, as she was raised in Canada, finished high school in Germany and then with the rest of her family, relocated to England. Of course, music was a major part of her life, no matter where on earth she was — she started taking classical piano lessons when she was five and by the time she was nine, she was introduced to vocal training. As the story goes, after spending the better part of a decade under classical training, Merton discovered songwriting through one of her high school courses while in Germany. And from that point forward, she went on to study songwriting and began pursuing her dream of becoming a professional singer/songwriter.

Naturally, during her studies Merton worked with a number of producers and finding the right producer who both compliments and challenges a singer/songwriter in the way that a true collaborator — and in turn, a great producer — should do, is a rarity, and when she met Berlin-based producer Nicolas Rebscher, Merton quickly recognized that she found her musical match; in fact, the collaborative duo have specialized in pairing vintage, analog synthesizers with organic arrangements based around propulsive drum and bass. Unsurprisingly then, on Merton’s swaggering and (somewhat) bluesy debut single “No Roots,” Merton’s self-assured and soulful pop belter vocals are paired with a Rebscher production that features enormous, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a sinuous bass line, brief blasts of funk guitar, squiggly blasts of synths and a rousingly anthemic hook. And in some way, the song is a slick meshing of both the familiar and the unfamiliar, as the song sonically nods (a little bit) at Amy Winehouse, Lorde, Taylor Swift and a lengthy list of major pop star contemporaries; however, the song has a visceral ache, as it based on her own personal experiences, recognizing that her life was frequently thrown in disarray, she’s never been able to claim one place as a home.

Already “No Roots” has won the up-and-coming Merton an immense amount of attention both across the European Union and the States and elsewhere, as the song has already seen millions of streams on Spotify and YouTube, and has recently been added to the playlists of several Stateside Adult Alternative Album radio stations, including stations in Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, San Francisco, Minneapolis, the NYC area, as well as Sirius Alt Nation. And as a result of the action the single has seen, merton recently signed with Mom + Pop Music; but along with that, I suspect that over the next few months that we’ll be hearing this single quite a bit, and more from Merton, who seems destined to be a pop star.

 

 

Merton has a series of live dates across Germany throughout the end of August and the fall, and is planning stops across North America and elsewhere so be on the lookout; in the meantime, European friends, check out the live dates below.
TOUR DATES:

 

08/25 Gamescon – Cologne, Germany

08/26 Laternenfest – Halle, Germany

09/9 Rennbahn Berlin Hoppegarten – Berlin, Germany

09/10 Lollapalooza Berlin – Berlin, Germany

09/14 SWR3 New Pop Festival – Baden Baden, Germany

09/15 NDR 2 Soundcheck Festival – Göttingen, Germany

9/20-23 Reeperbahn Festival – Hamburg, Germany

11/17 New Fall Festival – Düsseldorf, Germany

 

 

With the release of “Blue Hell,” the lead single and album opener off their full-length debut effort, Uncontrollable Salvation, the San Francisco, CA-based punk rock/indie rock quartet Pardoner quickly received attention for angst-filled, power chord-based, mosh pit-friendly rock. And unsurprisingly, Uncontrollable Salvation‘s second and latest single, album title track “Uncontrollable Salvation” will further cement their reputation for crafting 90s, inspired slacker rock full of buzzing power chords and rousingly anthemic hooks, and while the song has garnered comparisons to Polvo and Dinosaur, Jr., which are fair, I also hear elements of the beloved, Seattle grunge sound.

The Jack Shirley-produced Uncontrollable Salvation is slated for a September 8, 2017 release through Father/Daughter Records. And to build up buzz for the album, the band has two Bay Area shows in August. Check out live dates below.

Live Dates

August 5 – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe du Nord (w/ Alex Napping)
August 30 – Oakland, CA @ Starline Social Club (w/ Froth)