Tag: Shuggie Otis

Throughout the course of this site’s decade-plus history, I’ve spilled copious amounts of virtual ink covering JOVM mainstays HAERTS. Tracing their origins back to a budding high school romance in Munich, the acclaimed indie pop act have evolved as its founding (and core) duo — Nini Fabi (vocals) and Benny Gebert (keys, guitar) — have evolved: HAERTS was formed when the duo met their now-former bandmates while studying at Berklee College of Music. And upon graduation, the quintet relocated to Brooklyn, where they quickly built up a profile and released their major label, self-titled, Jean-Philip Grobler-produced. full-length debut. 

After a series of lineup changes, the JOVM mainstays settled to its current lineup — its founding and core duo — and relocated to the Upstate New York woods, where they wrote and recorded their sophomore album, 2018’s New Compassion. Since the release of New Compassion, Fabi and Gebert have fully embraced their multi-national roots by splitting time between Berlin and New York. Around the same time, the duo have found themselves fueled by a renewed spirit of collaboration with artists and visual artists they’ve long admired, including Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste and Julian Klincewicz, who they worked with on POWER/LAND

As you may recall, the duo’s third album Dream Nation is slated for a March 12, 2021 release, and reportedly the album’s material is marked by a sense of urgent intensity: Fabi and Gebert wrote the album over the course of about a month — and as soon as they finished, they recorded most of the album with their touring band during a week-long, live recording session in New York. Then they went to Los Angeles, where they put the finishing touches on the album and collaborated with Ed Droste on the album’s first single “For the Sky.”

Sonically, Dream Nation will continue to draw their long-held comparisons to Fleetwood Mac and First Aid Kit, but with subtle nods at Portishead and Lamb. “We went into the studio without setting limits or parameters other than that we wanted to make a record that moves you emotionally and physically,” Fabi and Gebert explain. “We wanted it to feel like an invitation into the strange and fantastical night time world, like the songs they play just before the lights come on, when the party is almost over, and the polish is gone.”

I’ve written about two of the album’s released singles:

  • The aforementioned “For the Sky.” Prominently featuring Fabi’s gorgeous vocals, shimmering guitars, persistent drumming, a soaring hook and a guest spot from Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste, “For the Sky” continues a run of carefully crafted pop centered around lived-in lyricism.
  • It’s Too Late” is a glistening, hook-driven pop confection that sonically — to my ears, at least — is a slick synthesis of Fleetwood Mac, Shuggie OtisAvalon-era Roxy Music.

“Shivering,” Dream Nation’s latest single is centered around an arpeggiated organ groove, stuttering four-on-the-floor, a shimmering guitar solo, jazz funk and disco vibes and Fabi’s gorgeous and plaintive vocals. But just under the sinuous, dance floor friendly surface, there’s something much darker — with the song subtly evoking the desperate attempt to get one’s quickly racing mind in check.

“The song came from this organ groove Benny came up with and the onomatopoeic quality of the word ‘Shivering’ itself,” HAERTS’ Fabi explains in press notes. “It’s about the obsession and attraction of the things which give us anxiety and disturb us. In a way it’s our soundtrack to a panic attack.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstay HAERTS Releases a Hazy and Feverish Visual for Glistening “it’s Too Late”

Tracing their origins back to a budding high school romance in Munich, the acclaimed indie pop act and JOVM mainstays HAERTS have evolved as its founding (and core) duo — Nini Fabi (vocals) and Benny Gebert (keys, guitar) — have evolved: the duo met their bandmates while studying at Berklee College of Music. Upon graduation, the then-quintet relocated to Brooklyn, where they quickly built up a profile and released their major label, self-titled, Jean-Philip Growler-produced. full-length debut.

After a series of lineup changes, the JOVM mainstays have settled on its founding and core duo, Fabi and Gebert relocated to the Upstate New York woods, where they wrote and recorded their sophomore album, 2018’s New Compassion. Interestingly, since the release of New Compassion, Fabi and Gebert have embraced their multi-national roots by splitting their time between Berlin and New York. During that same period, they’ve been fueled by a renewed spirit of collaboration with artists and visual artists they’ve long admired, including Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste and Julian Klincewicz, who they worked with on POWER/LAND.

The JOVM’s mainstays third, full-length album Dream Nation is slated for a March 12, 2021 release, and reportedly, the album’s material is marked by a sense of urgent intensity: Fabi and Gebert wrote the album over the course of about a month — and then they recorded most of the album with their touring band during a week-long, live recording session in New York. They then went to Los Angeles, where they put the finishing touches on the album and collaborated with Ed Droste on the album’s first single “For the Sky.” (More on that later.)

Sonically, Dream Nation finds the usual comparisons to Fleetwood Mac and First Aid Kit, making way for subtle nods at Portishead and Lamb. “We went into the studio without setting limits or parameters other than that we wanted to make a record that moves you emotionally and physically,” Fabi and Gebert explain. “We wanted it to feel like an invitation into the strange and fantastical night time world, like the songs they play just before the lights come on, when the party is almost over, and the polish is gone.”

Late last year, I wrote about “For the Sky.” Featuring Fabi’s ethereal and plaintive vocalists shimmering guitars, persistent drumming, a soaring hook and a guest spot from Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste, “For the Sky” continues a run of carefully crafted pop that references Fleetwood Mac centered around lyrics that come from lived-in experience.

“‘For the Sky’ came from a dream I had when I first found out that I was pregnant, which was the catalyst and beginning of writing the new music,” HAERTS explained in press notes. “When we finished the demo for the song I kept hearing Ed’s voice and just thought he would sound amazing on it. We didn’t know him at the time, but were such fans. When we reached out we honestly thought we’d never hear from him. But we did and we went into the studio in LA, and ended up recording it just singing together in a room. Now that feels like such a nostalgic notion. But even then it was special. It was that feeling you get when you sing with somebody and something just clicks. And it’s especially crazy when you sing with a vocal force as Ed. I wish everybody could sing together more and feel that.”

The album’s second and latest single “It’s Too Late” is a glistening, hook-driven pop confection that sonically — to my ears, at least — is a slick synthesis of Fleetwood Mac, Shuggie Otis, Avalon-era Roxy Music, and disco centered around Fabi’s gorgeous, plaintive vocals.

Directed by their frequent visual collaborator Julian Klincewicz, the recently released video for “It’s Too Late” is a lo-fi, hazy, fever dream through Los Angeles that follows HAERTS’ Fabi as she struts, walks and flirts with the camera. But as the band’s Gerbert explained to PAPER, the video captured both the sensual and dangerous energy of nighttime in Los Angeles: “We filmed the video with Julian during one of the craziest nights in LA. It was all about Nini walking through the empty streets of the city. We wanted it to be a journey through the night, both physically and emotionally, and also capture some of that night time energy of LA. At some point during the shoot I was in a parking lot with a friend, when someone came running towards us with a gun. Luckily, we were able to get away unharmed and we finished the video that night. It was definitely a huge shock. I guess we captured the night time in more ways than we set out to.”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Boulevards Releases a Soulful and Politically Charged Single

Jamil Rashad is a Raleigh, NC-based funk and soul artist and JOVM mainstay, who writes, records and performs under the name Boulevards. Rashad, who is the son of a renowned local radio DJ, grew up in musical household in which a passionate interest in music was fostered and encouraged: a young Rashad listened to a wide variety o music including soul, jazz, blues, R&B and funk.

When the Raleigh-based JOVM mainstay was a teenager, he became a self-confessed “scene kid,” getting involved in the city’s local punk, hardcore and metal scenes, which interestingly enough wound up influencing his own production work much later on. After attending art school and playing in a series of local bands, the Raleigh-based JOVM mainstay wound up returning to teh the sounds that first won his heart and imagination — funk and soul. And with Boulevards, Rashad began writing material that he once described as “party funk jams for the heart and soul to make you move,” eventually developing a national profile for a sound that some have compared to Dam-Funk, Escort, Mark Ronson, with the release of 2016’s Groove! and last year’s YADIG!

Rashad’s forthcoming effort, the Blake Rhein-produced Brother! EP is slated for a December 18, 2020 release through New West Records imprint Normaltown Records. The four song EP derives its title from the familiar greeting spoken among Black men. For Rashad, the word brother is a sort of spoken handshake, a verbal high five for the listener. “Growing up, I would see my father interacting with other African American men, using that word as a greeting. ‘What’s up, brother? Brother, let me talk to you.’ That’s what they said a lot in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but you don’t hear it as much now. It’s such a great word.” The EP’s material is the culmination of several years of writing, playing, touring and recording with the effort thematically touching upon race and America’s moral reckoning, heartbreak and self-inflicted suffering. And as a result, the four song EP is the most explicitly political batch of material of his growing catalog.

Perhaps because our current sociopolitical moment mirrors that of the late 60s and early 70s, the EP’s material, as you’ll hear on its second single, EP title track “Brother!” is indebted to the music he heard growing up: early Parliament Funkadelic, Sly and The Family Stone, Rick James, Curtis Mayfield, Shuggie Otis and a lengthy list of others.
“My dad put me on to that music, and I’ve always been attracted to those artists. That’s who I was inspired by, but I wanted to make it my own, make it Boulevards,” Rashad says. Centered around a soulful and slow-burning strut and some fuzzy, psychedelic and blues-tinged guitar work, “Brother!” is a cry of desperation about a society and world that seem determined to frustrate, humiliate and destroy you. And the only escape is through booze, drugs and sex.

“The song is about working and hustling every day and not being satisfied with the end result, whether it’s working for yourself or 9-5 corporations. Spending the hours, time, not getting a raise, losing a job, putting a smile on your face at a job you dislike, feeling stuck in life, making money and spending money to support bad habits,” Rashad says in press notes. “The only thing that makes you feel any kind of release is the bottom of the bottle.”

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay James Chatburn Performs “The Hurt” in Leipzig

With the release of his first two EPs and a string of critically applauded, commercially successful collaborations =- including Aussie hip-hop act Hilltop Hoods‘ certified Gold single “Higher,” Brookyln’s rum.gold, the Sydney-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter, producer and JOVM mainstay James Chatburn has quickly established himself as an in-demand songwriter and producer and as one of indie soul’s rising talents, developing and honing a sound that features elements of soul, blues, electro pop and neo-soul.

Chatburn’s split his highly-anticipated David Tobias co-produced full-length debut Faible into two parts — with the first part of the album released last week. Faible finds the rising Sydney-born, Berlin-based artist further cementing the warm, soulful sound that has won him international attention — but while pushing his sound towards a subtly psychedelic direction, influenced by Unknown Mortal Orchestra, D’Angelo, Donny Hathaway, and Shuggie Otis among others.

Failble’s material finds Chatburn exploring his own vulnerability. “For long as I can remember, before people spoke so openly about it, I had these issues with anxiety,” the Sydney-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter, producer and JOVM explains in press notes. “I kind of wanted to explore these ‘weaknesses’ that we all susceptible to. I mean, the way I am wired led me to be quite insular and creative especially when I was in my teens. I I now see how much of a strength it can be, it opened up my empathy and creativity and I think we all have these things we gotta talk through, if we talk about it we can band together and be stronger for it.”

Chatburn continues “David Tobias and I produced this album in his house. He is like this mad collector of vintage gear and his this incredible scope of music throughout the decades. I had this vision of soul meeting hip hop and modern psychedelic music I have been listening to. I could not have made it sound old but new without this genius dude backing me.”

Earlier this year I wrote about two of Faible’s singles:

“In My House,” a warm and vibey, two-step inducing bit of soul, centered around introspective, earnest songwriting, reverb-drenched guitars and thumping beats.
“Jewellery and Gold,” one of the album’s more tongue-in-cheek tracks, featuring a narrator looking forward to a future, where he’s flush with cash, and as a result, any of the major issues of his life being settled with that newfound cash — because dollar dollar bill y’all.

Recently, Chatburn performed an atmospheric version of the album’s third single “The Hurt,” which found him accompanying his achingly tender vocals with shimmering, gently picked guitar. At its core the song expresses longing and heartache in a way that reminds me quite a bit of fellow JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim.

James Chatburn · Jewellery And Gold

I’ve written a quite a bit about the Sydney-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and producer James Chatburn over the past five years or so. With the release of his first two EPs and a string of critically applauded, commercially successful collaborations — including Aussie hip-hop act Hilltop Hoods‘ certified Gold single “Higher,” Chatburn quickly established himself as an in-demand songwriter and producer, and one of indie soul’s rising talents, developing and honing a sound that features elements of soul, blues, electro pop and neo soul.

Chatburn’s highly-anticipated full-length debut, Faible is slated for release later this year, and the album reportedly finds the Sydney-born, Berlin-based artist further cementing the warm, soulful sound that has won him attention internationally  — but while pushing his sound in a subtly psychedelic direction: the album’s material sonically is influenced by Unknown Mortal Orchestra, D’Angelo, Donny Hathaway, and Shuggie Otis among others. Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “In My House,” a warm and vibey two-step inducing track centered around introspective songwriting. “Jewellery and Gold,” Faible‘s latest single continues a run of vibey and dusty neo-soul featuring twinkling, old-timey keys propulsive boom bap-like breakbeats, a sinuous bass line and Chatburn’s effortlessly soulful crooning.

Interestingly, the song may be among the funniest, most tongue-in-cheek leaning song he’s written, as the song finds him — er, his narrator — looking forward to a future where he’s flush with cash and all of his issues would just dissolve, because — well, money.  Those of us, who have worked hard to live check-to-check understand that one implicitly.

“It started off as a noughties Pharrell/Neptunesy kind of vibe, but then I replaced the original synth with a piano and I decided to go for this throwback soul feeling, coming back to this Neptunes vibe in part c,” Chatburn says of his latest single. “As an indie artist I don’t live off much money, but sometimes I think, damn it would be nice to have a little more, even if I know that’s not gonna solve anything.”

Live Footage: Nick Hakim Performs “QADIR” on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

I’ve written quite a bit about the Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, guitarist Nick Hakim over the past handful of years. Hakim’s critically applauded full-length debut, 2017’s Green Twins can trace its origins back to when he finished his two critically applauded EPs Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where We Will Go Part 2. Armed with the masters for those efforts, Hakim relocated from Boston, where he was then based to Brooklyn.

As soon as he got himself settled, he quickly went to work, spending his spare time writing and recording sketches using his phone’s voice memo app and a four-track cassette recorder, fleshing the material out whenever possible. He then took his new demo’d material to various studios in NYC, Philadelphia and London, where he built up the material with a number of engineers, including frequent collaborator Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the material intact as much as humanly possible.

Thematically, the album’s material focused on specific experiences, feeling and thoughts he had during the time he was writing and composing it, making the album feel like a series of different self-portraits. Much like Vincent Van Gogh’s famed self-portraits, the material sometimes captures its creator in broad strokes, with subtle gradations in mood, tone and feeling. Sonically, Green Twins drew from a broad array of influences including Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye, Shuggie Otis and My Bloody Valentine and others. “We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins,” Hakim said in press notes at the time.

Since the release of Green Twins, Hakim developed a reputation as a highly sought-after, go-to collaborator working with Lianna La Havas, Anderson .Paak, Onyx Collective, Sporting Life, IGBO, Nappy Nina, Ambrose Akinmusire, Slingbaum, FKA Twins and Oumou Sangare.

The JOVM mainstay released his highly-anticipated sophomore album WILL THIS MAKE ME SOUND GOOD earlier this year through ATO Records. Interestingly, the album’s material manages to be distinctly Hakim while being a tonal shift from its predecessor: his sophomore album reflects the ideas with which he grappled with while writing and recording the album. To prepare listeners for the experience, Hakim shared the following statement about the record:

“I feel the people simmering, on our way to the boiling point. There’s a lot of madness going on around us and this world can feel so cold. It can get hard to remember what makes it worth it. The people around me and the music I love helps.

For a while, I couldn’t write. I worked on new music but couldn’t find the right words. But that time was just a build-up to the three months of expression that led to this album. I hope this music will raise awareness about where we are right now. About how we are living on this planet. About how we treat our neighbors. About community. About depression. About what can heal us and what can’t. About overmedication, overstimulation and manipulation. About respecting and loving the people around us, because one day they won’t be here-or you won’t.

But it’s also true that I’m still trying to figure this record out. People have told me that it’s confusing or that it’s messy-that’s fine. There’s so much pressure on artists to commit to being one thing, or to restrict an album to exploring just one subject or sound. But my life isn’t like that, and so my music can’t be like that either. I’m not thinking about this music as a product to be bought and sold, or how I’ll buy your interest. This is my world; a lot of friends touched this record, and that makes me feel lucky and proud. These songs are glimpses into my community. I’m exploring, but I’m not alone. It’s a journey in progress; it’s an experiment, every day.”

“QADIR” is a slow-burning and atmospheric single, centered around a repetitive and hypnotic arrangement featuring shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar, a sinuous baseline fluttering flute, stuttering beats and Hakim’s expressive and  plaintive vocals — and as a result, the track is a fever dream full of ache and longing, partially written as an ode to a late friend and an urgent reminder to check in on your loved ones before it’s too late. ”If I really sink into a recording, I don’t want it to end,” Hakim says. “[‘QADIR’] is repetitive and hypnotizing, like a trance — that’s intentional. The song is my ode to him. It’s my attempt to relate to how he must have been feeling.”

Recently Hakim and his backing band performed a socially distant rendition of “QADIR” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which features Hakim singing the song on a cartoon-background that’s one part hood, one part Sesame Street. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Nick Hakim Releases a Gorgeous and Surreal Visual for Atmospheric “Bouncing”

I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded, Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay  Nick Hakim over the past handful of years. Hakim’s 2017 full-length debut, Green Twins was written after he had completed   Where Will We Go Part 1 EP and Where We Will Go Part 2 EP and relocated from Boston, where he was then based to Brooklyn. 

After getting himself settled in, he quickly went to work, spending his spare time writing and recording song sketches sing his phone’s voice memo app and a four-track cassette recorder. He fleshed out the sketches as much as possible and then took his demo’d material to various studios in New York, Philadelphia and London, where he built up the material with a number of engineers, including frequent collaborator Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the material intact as much as humanly possible.

Thematically, the album’s material focused one specific experiences, feelings and thoughts he had during the time he was writing and composting it, and as a result the album is a series of different self-portraits that generally captures its creator in broad strokes — but if you pay close attention, you pick up on subtle gradations of mood, tone and feeling. Sonically, Green Twins was drew from a broad and eclectic array of influences including Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye, Shuggie Otis and My Bloody Valentine and others. “We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins,” Hakim said in press at the time.

Since the release of Green Twins, Hakim has also developed a reputation as a highly sought-after, go-to collaborator working with Lianna La Havas, Anderson .Paak, Onyx Collective, Sporting Life, IGBO, Nappy Nina, Ambrose Akinmusire, Slingbaum, FKA Twins and Oumou Sangare. Now, as you may recall, Hakim’s highly-anticipated sophomore album WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD is slated for a May 15, 2020 release through ATO Records. 

Interestingly, WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD reportedly represents a tonal shift from its predecessor with the album’s material reflecting the ideas that he had grappled with while writing and recording it. 

“I feel the people simmering, on our way to the boiling point. There’s a lot of madness going on around us and this world can feel so cold. It can get hard to remember what makes it worth it. The people around me and the music I love helps.” Hakim writes in a statement on the album. 

“For a while, I couldn’t write. I worked on new music but couldn’t find the right words. But that time was just a build-up to the three months of expression that led to this album. I hope this music will raise awareness about where we are right now. About how we are living on this planet. About how we treat our neighbors. About community. About depression. About what can heal us and what can’t. About overmedication, overstimulation and manipulation. About respecting and loving the people around us, because one day they won’t be here — or you won’t.

But it’s also true that I’m still trying to figure this record out. People have told me that it’s confusing or that it’s messy-that’s fine. There’s so much pressure on artists to commit to being one thing, or to restrict an album to exploring just one subject or sound. But my life isn’t like that, and so my music can’t be like that either. I’m not thinking about this music as a product to be bought and sold, or how I’ll buy your interest. This is my world; a lot of friends touched this record, and that makes me feel lucky and proud. These songs are glimpses into my community. I’m exploring, but I’m not alone. It’s a journey in progress; it’s an experiment, every day.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the slow-burning and atmospheric “QADIR,” a fever dream of ache and longing that brings up psych pop, psych soul and 70s soul simultaneously.  “QADIR” was the first song that Hakim wrote for the album with the track being an ode to a late friend, and a urgent and plaintive reminder to check in on your loved ones before it’s too late. “BOUNCING,” WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD’s third and latest single is a delicate and atmospheric track centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar, blown out and distorted drums, gently swirling feedback paired with Hakim’s aching falsetto expressing a vulnerable yearning for companionship and warmth on a bitterly cold day — and knowing that it won’t come any time soon. “BOUNCING” is a sound bath where I wrote about one of the coldest days in New York I remember, while lying in my bed, restless by a radiator. It’s about feeling uneasy,” Hakim says in press notes. 

Directed by Nelson Nance, the recently released video for “BOUNCING” continues Hakim’s ongoing visual collaboration with the director while serving as a sequel to “QADIR.” The video follows Hakim and a small collection of attendees to a surreal event that becomes a spectacle that’s recorded by the attendees. But it asks much larger questions of the viewer: “”The ‘BOUNCING’ video asks the viewer to question our drive to find spectacles and how the pursuit of such can lead to becoming a spectacle,” Nelson explains in press notes. “There is nothing inherently wrong with viewing or being a spectacle but I think it’s healthy to question if our energy is being put in the right place when interfacing with what draws our attention.” 

James Chatburn is a rapidly rising Sydney-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and producer. With the release of his first two EPs -which he followed with  a string of critically applauded and commercially successful collaborations, including Aussie hip-hop act’s Hilltop Hoods‘ certified Gold single “Higher,” the Aussie-born, German-based singer/songwriter and producer quickly established himself as one of the contemporary soul’s hottest new talents, developing a sound that seamlessly meshes elements of soul, blues, contemporary electro pop and neo soul. Adding to growing profile, Chatburn has toured with Jordan Rakei and The Internet.

Chatburn’s highly-anticipated full-length debut, Fable is slated for release later this year, and the album reportedly finds the Sydney-born, Berlin-based artist further establishing the warm, soulful sound that has won him attention internationally in the contemporary soul scene — but while pushing his sound in a subtly psychedelic direction. The album sonically draws from Unknown Mortal Orchestra, D’angelo, Donny Hathaway and Shuggie Otis among others. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “In My House” is centered around a two-step inducing groove featuring sinuous bass lines, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars and thumping beats paired with Chatburn’s gravelly and effortlessly soulful vocals. While decidedly a warm and vibey neo-soul song, the song is centered around introspective and earnest songwriting.

“This piece asks the question of who we allow into our lives and why we do so, the ones which we allow close can leave so much behind when they dive into our being, so it is wise to be careful,” Chatburn explains in press notes. “The song came together quicker then any other song I have ever written, Ironically I used the chopped up recorded drums from another song which was supposed to be included on the upcoming Album Faible, a song I reformatted and re-wrote 4 times to be left discarded. All of the other instruments and vocals are the original recordings from the first day of writing.”

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Nick Hakim Releases a Lyrical Visual for Atmospheric and Slow-Burning Single “QADIR”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, guitarist Nick Hakim. And as you may recall, Hakim’s critically applauded full-length debut 2017’s Green Twins can trace its origins back to when he finished his two critically applauded EPs Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where We Will Go Part 2: armed with the masters for those efforts, Hakim relocated from Boston, where he was then based to Brooklyn. As soon as he got himself settled, he quickly went to work, spending his spare time writing and recording sketches using his phone’s voice memo app and a four-track cassette recorder, fleshing the material out whenever possible. He then took his new demo’d material to various studios in NYC, Philadelphia and London, where he built up the material with a number of engineers, including frequent collaborator Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the material intact as much as humanly possible.

Thematically, the album’s material focused on specific experiences, feeling and thoughts he had during the time he was writing and composing it. As a result, the album consists of a series of different self-portraits. And in a similar fashion to Vincent Van Gogh’s famed self-portraits, the material sometimes captures its creator in broad stokes — with subtle gradations of mood, tone and feeling. The overall aesthetic drew from a broad array of influences including Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye, Shuggie Otis and My Bloody Valentine and others. “We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins,” Hakim said in press at the time. 

Since the release of Green Twins, Hakim developed a reputation as a highly sought-after, go-to collaborator working with Lianna La Havas, Anderson .Paak, Onyx Collective, Sporting Life, IGBO, Nappy Nina, Ambrose Akinmusire, Slingbaum, FKA Twins and Oumou Sangare. Building upon a growing profile, Hakim will be releasing his highly-anticipated sophomore album WILL THIS MAKE ME SOUND GOOD. Slated for a May 15, 2020 release through ATO Records, the album while being distinctly Nick Hakim, reportedly represents a tonal shift from Green Twins, with the material reflecting the ideas with which he grappled while writing and recording the album. To prepare listeners for the experience, Hakim shares the following statement about the record:

“I feel the people simmering, on our way to the boiling point. There’s a lot of madness going on around us and this world can feel so cold. It can get hard to remember what makes it worth it. The people around me and the music I love helps.

For a while, I couldn’t write. I worked on new music but couldn’t find the right words. But that time was just a build-up to the three months of expression that led to this album. I hope this music will raise awareness about where we are right now. About how we are living on this planet. About how we treat our neighbors. About community. About depression. About what can heal us and what can’t. About overmedication, overstimulation and manipulation. About respecting and loving the people around us, because one day they won’t be here-or you won’t.

But it’s also true that I’m still trying to figure this record out. People have told me that it’s confusing or that it’s messy-that’s fine. There’s so much pressure on artists to commit to being one thing, or to restrict an album to exploring just one subject or sound. But my life isn’t like that, and so my music can’t be like that either. I’m not thinking about this music as a product to be bought and sold, or how I’ll buy your interest. This is my world; a lot of friends touched this record, and that makes me feel lucky and proud. These songs are glimpses into my community. I’m exploring, but I’m not alone. It’s a journey in progress; it’s an experiment, every day.”

WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD’s latest single is the slow-burning and atmospheric “QADIR.”  Centered around a repetitive and hypnotic arrangement featuring shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar, a sinuous baseline fluttering flute, stuttering beats and Hakim’s expressive and  plaintive vocals, “QADIR” is a fever dream full of ache and longing that recalls both 70s soul and neo-soul simultaneously. Interestingly, “QADIR” was the first song the JOVM mainstay wrote for the album — and the track was written as ode to a late friend and a reminder to check in on your loved ones before it’s too late.”If I really sink into a recording, I don’t want it to end,” Hakim says. “[‘QADIR’] is repetitive and hypnotizing, like a trance — that’s intentional. The song is my ode to him. It’s my attempt to relate to how he must have been feeling.”

Directed by Nelson Nance, the cinematic and lyrical visual for “QADIR” finds Hakim in moments of solitude in forest and in solidarity with his community of friends and associates. The Nance-directed visual suggests that it’s the people who love and support us, who give us strength and sustenance during our most difficult times. 

 

Over the first half of this year, I’ve written a bit about the Queens-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Matt Longo, the creative mastermind behind Thin Lear, a solo recording project largely inspired by the likes of Todd RundgrenShuggie Otis and Kate Bush.  Longo’s latest Thin Lear album Wooden Cave is slated for release later this year, and as you may recall, album singles “The Guesthouse,” and “Death in a Field” were deeply indebted to different styles of 70s rock.

Wooden Cave‘s third and latest single is the delicate and almost spectral “Your Family.” Centered around a folk-like arrangement of twinkling piano, strummed guitar and Longo’s plaintive falsetto, the song is imbued with an aching and inconsolable sense of loss. Much like its predecessors, the song reveals a heart-on-the-sleeve earnestness paired with a careful and deliberate craftsmanship that ends with a simple yet profound mantra of self-acceptance. “It’s an orchestral track that explores the aftermath of losing a partner, the ensuing self-imposed exile and the struggle to re-emerge whole again,” Longo says in press notes.