KID DAD is an emerging Paderborn, Germany quartet — Marius Vieth (vocals, guitar), Maximillian Alexander Zdunek (bass, backing vocals), Michael Reihle (drums) and Joshua Meinert (guitar) — that’s heavily influenced by Radiohead, Placebo, Elliott Smith, Joy Division and Pixies. During their history, the band has toured across the European Union with Taking Back Sunday, Marmozets and Fatherson among others.
Building upon a growing national and international profile, the band’s full-lengths debut In A Box is slated for an August 21, 2020 release through Long Branch Records. Thematically addressing feelings of isolation and entrapment, In A Box was cowritten over a prolonged period of time — and was inspired by songwriting trips to England, China, Switzerland and Berlin. “I really enjoyed working with so many different setups. You absorb everything when you’re young – I want to take advantage of that,” KID DAD’s Marius Vieth says in press notes.
“Limbo,” In A Box’s latest single was cowritten by acclaimed Welsh-born singer/songwriter Sarah Howells, a.k.a. Bryde during a trip that the band’s Marius Vieth took to London. Centered around an alternating quiet-loud-quiet song structure, with an enormous power-chord based hook reminiscent of Silversun Pickups paired with Vieth’s plaintive vocals. But at its core, the song deals with feeling unsafe, hassled and being abused, particularly if you’re powerless and lack agency — and desperately searching for something to hope for.
The recently released video for “Limbo” follows a teenaged boy, as he hurriedly puts on sneakers and desperately tries to escape what’s an untenable situation for him. But at some point, the video seems to suggest that the boy quickly recognizes that he has nowhere to go and nowhere to help him. Although the video employs a relatively simple concept — thanks in part the COVID-19 based quarantine restrictions, the video reflects an all too common fear, with a surge of domestic abuse cases worldwide. Home can be hell for those who are being abused by loved ones.
I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual covering the Gold Coast, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Emily Hamilton, the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed and rising indie rock act San Mei over the years. Beginning as a synth pop-leaning bedroom recording project, Hamilton’s earliest material received attention from this site and major media outlets like NME,Indie Shuffle, NYLONand Triple J. Her debut EP Necessary found the Aussie singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay moving towards a much more organic, guitar-led sound inspired by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cat Power,Feist and others.
A couple of years ago, Hamilton met acclaimed producer and musician Oscar Dawson at BIGSOUND, and the pair immediately hit it off. According to Hamilton, taking Dawson on as a producer and collaborator found the duo refining ideas, exploring different soundscapes and laying down the foundation for her — and in turn, San Mei’s — sonic progression. As Hamilton explains in press notes “[Dawson and I] hit it off straight away and it seemed like he understood where I was coming from, even if I had trouble conveying certain ideas in the demos I made at home.” Hamilton’s Dawson-produced sophomore EP Heaven was a decidedly shoegazer-like affair, featuring arena rock friendly hooks, big power chords and shimmering synths that continued a run of critically applauded, blogosphere dominating material. Adding to a growing profile, last year Hamilton opened for the likes of G. Flip, K. Fly,Ali Barter and Jack River in her native Australia, went on an extensive national headlining tour and played nine shows across six days at SXSW.
Released a few weeks ago through Sydney-based etcetc Records, Hamilton’s third San Mei EP Cry continues her ongoing collaboration with Oscar Dawson – and interestingly, the four song EP finds the Aussie JOVM mainstay simultaneously drawing from the harder guitar-driven work of The Kills,Metric, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the synth-driven pop like Grimes and Lykke Li. Now, as you may recall, I recently wrote about EP title track “Cry,” a track which establishes the EP’s overall tone and tone – a hook-driven, shimmering take on dream pop centered around atmospheric synths, reverb-drenched guitars and what may arguably be her most direct and personal songwriting to date. And perhaps unlike her previously released material, the EP reveals an incredibly self-assured songwriting, crafting earnest and ambitious songwriting – all while building a larger international profile.
Earlier this week, I exchanged emails with the Gold Coast-based JOVM mainstay for this Q&A. Of course, current events have a way of bleeding into every aspect of our professional and professional lives – and naturally, I had to ask Hamilton how COVID-19 was impacting her and her career. But we also talk about her hometown (which is considered one of the more beautiful locales in the entire world), and its growing music scene, the new EP and more in a revealing chat. Check it out below.
WRH: Here in New York, we’ve been social distancing and in quarantine for the past three weeks or so. How are things in Australia? How are you holding up?
Emily Hamilton: Firstly, I’m really sorry to see what’s happening in New York right now – my heart really goes out to everyone effected. I was actually in the USA around 2 weeks ago when lockdowns starting happening there. I managed to get home earlier than planned (straight into 14 days mandatory quarantine!), and Australia started following suit with social distancing, travel bans, closing non-essential business etc. pretty much as soon as I got back. I’ve got 2 days left of quarantine which is exciting — to be able to be out in the open air is gonna feel good! We have pretty strict social distancing rules here though, so I’ll still be playing it safe and spending most of my time at home once my quarantine is over.
WRH: How has COVID-19 impacted the Australian music scene? Has the pandemic affected you and your career? And if so, how?
EH: It’s hard having shows cancel and seeing venues having to close their doors. I had some shows lined up over the next couple of months that had to be cancelled, and prospects of touring in the near future don’t seem likely. I had a massive year of touring last year, so coming to terms with the fact that this year is probably going to look different is kinda hard. I know everyone in the Australian music scene is feeling the same way – and that we’re feeling the same things in music scenes around the globe. But it’s been inspiring to see so many artists pick themselves up, be innovative and find creative ways to make the best of the situation.
WRH: Most of my readers are based in the United States. As you can imagine, most Americans know very little about Australia, let alone your hometown. I think if you ask most Americans, they’ll tell you that it’s far (which is very true), they’ll mention the Sydney Opera House, kangaroos, koala bears and Steve Irwin. So as an American, what is Gold Coast known for? Where would I go to get a taste of how the locals live?
EH: It’s true, we’re so far away! I think that’s why Australians travel so much, because otherwise we’re just so isolated. I love my hometown; to me, it’s the perfect mix of city and surf town vibes – for someone who travels a lot for music, it’s nice to be based somewhere with a more chilled pace and open spaces. The Gold Coast is known mostly for its beautiful beaches, but we also have amazing rainforests with swimming holes and a beautiful hinterland. There has also been huge growth in hospitality, and there are so many amazing bars/restaurants/cafes popping up all over the place. So for anyone visiting I’d recommend checking out all the best nature spots and the best places to get a drink/feed.
WRH: Are there any Gold Coast-based artists that should be getting attention from the larger world that aren’t – and should be?
EH: The music scene on the Gold Coast has definitely grown over the last few years and there are a lot of exciting bands coming up. Eliza & The Delusionals are an amazing emerging band – they’ve actually just finished up a US tour supporting Silversun Pickups. They’re definitely on the rise and I think they’ll soon be getting that attention! Lastlings, Peach Fur, Ivey,Hollow Coves are just a few that are kicking goals and I’d love to see continue to grow in and outside of Australia.
WRH: For a country of about 27 million or so, how is it possible that so many Aussie artists, who make it to the States and elsewhere so damn good?
EH: I think being so far away can actually work in our favour in some ways! We have to be really, really good if we want our music to get out there in the world and have the means or opportunities to tour outside of our own country. I reckon that has created the kind of drive and work ethic for a lot of Aussie artists to keeping pushing and being the best we can be at our craft, to be able to break through the noise.
WRH: How did you get into music?
EH: I learnt classical piano when I was little (much to my dismay at the time!), which I’m really grateful for now as it’s such a good foundation for music. But I didn’t really get into writing songs or pursuing music until after high school when I met a group of friends who were musicians, and I just found myself getting caught up in it. It turned out I had a bit of a knack for songwriting and I’ve been focusing on getting better and better at it since!
WRH: I’ve written about you quite a bit over the years. When you started out, San Mei was bedroom synth pop project. But after meeting songwriter, producer and musician Oscar Dawson at BIGSOUND, you – and in turn, San Mei – went through a decided change in sonic direction, which is reflected on both the Heaven EP and your recently released Cry EP. How has it been working with Dawson? How influential has he been on the project’s sonic development?
EH: I’ve always so appreciated your support! It means the world to an emerging artist like me to have that consistent engagement and encouragement from someone! Working with Oscar has been amazing, and I’ve learned a lot from him. I’ve always come to him with fully realised songs/demos. I usually write and track all the guide parts at home first. But Oscar has a way of bringing out the best in my songs and just making them sound better haha… so he has never really been pushy or opinionated in shaping my sound, but I’ve learned a lot from him in terms of refining things and making smart decisions in both the songwriting and production process.
WRH: With San Mei leaning more towards a guitar-based sound, how has your songwriting process changed?
EH: Even as my sound became a little more guitar-driven, I continued to stick with my usual writing process – open up Logic, find a simple drum groove, play along ‘til I find a good riff or chord progression… but lately I’ve been trying to challenge myself in writing songs start to finish on just an acoustic guitar. I want my songs to be able to stack up when they’re played on just a guitar or piano without relying on any production. I’ve been finding that the production falls into place a lot more easily when I write this way, because the songwriting itself has to be strong, and helps lead the way in what should be built around it. I won’t be limiting myself to this process only, but finding new ways to create has been really cool.
WRH: While possessing the big and rousingly anthemic hooks that we heard on Heaven EP, your latest EP features the guitar-led, arena rock anthem “Hard to Face,” the shimmering, New Wavey-like “Cherry Days” “Cry” and “Love in the Dark.” As much as I hear Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Kills, Grimes, Lykke Li and others, I also hear a bit of Prince in there, too. What inspired this new sonic direction? Was it intentional?
EH: That’s really interesting! Admittedly I haven’t listened to a lot of Prince (I probably just haven’t put in the time to become a fan!), but it’s cool to hear that reference. I couldn’t tell you a specific influence for where my sound has been heading, but I have been focusing on strengthening my identity as an artist, and recognising what my strengths are in my writing, and just making sure I write whatever comes out of me naturally and not try to sound like anything in particular. I’m still a work in progress with that, but I think that’s what has been shaping my sound.
WRH: “Hard to Find” is one of my favorite songs on the EP. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
EH: Cool! I really love this song. I called it my bratty moment. At the time of writing it, I was in a bit of a rut mentally with my music, career, future… I kept looking around at what everyone else was doing and thinking they were all kicking goals and I wasn’t. So, I just needed to let out my frustration and have a good whine in form of a song. It’s also a good reminder of me to not be that person, because we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to others, and having gratitude for the present is so important in having a healthy mind.
WRH: How did the video treatment for “Cry” come about?
EH: The song theme itself is a little melancholy to me – it’s about longing for more in life or for a better day, of always wanting to get to that next stage in life or achieving that next goal. It’s good to have drive, but for me I often get caught up in the future and sometimes I worry that I’ll wish my youth and time away instead of enjoying the present. But I wanted the video to feel light, wistful and more like a daydream, and to focus on the freedom we can find by enjoying the present and finding joy in everyday moments. I think Dom the director did a great job of capturing that feeling.
WRH: What’s next for you?
EH: I’m definitely not going to be slowing down – I’ve got lots of more music to release, and as soon as we’re allowed to play shows again, I’ll be playing as many as physically possible. Stay tuned! 😀
Dallas, TX-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Bryce Avary is the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed, solo indie rock/indie pop recording project The Rocket Summer. With The Rocket Summer, Avary has released six albums and a couple of EPs, including 2010’s Of Men and Angels, which landed at #1 on the Top Album spot on iTunes and 2012’s Life Will Write the Words, which landed at #58 on the Billboard 200 and #12 on the Billboard Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums Chart, as well as #12 on the Top Independent Albums Charts.
Avary’s soon-to-be released seventh album Sweet Shivers is slated for an August 2, 2019 and as you may recall, the album’s third single “Peace Signs” was one part ardent plea for peace and one part ironically detached sire. centered around a breezy, summery groove an enormous Silversun Pickups-like hook. “Blankets,” Sweet Shivers latest single continues a run of singles featuring enormous, arena friendly hooks paired with motorik-like grooves, shimmering synths and Avary’s plaintive vocals. And while infectious, the track thematically focuses on surrendering a bit to the flotsam and jetsam that life will inevitably toss in your path — and finding whatever silver linings we can. Along with that, the song suggests that the cliche is true: there is strength in numbers. And that more important, that if you’re struggling, you’re not alone; we’ve all been there at some point.
“I wrote the song in the middle of the night watching fuzzy TV in a cabin in rural Texas, long before I tracked it, but I’ll never forget what it was like having to cut this vocal in the studio only 2 hours after catching wind that my childhood friend had taken her life,” Avary says of the song’s creation. “While only parts of the song point to that type of narrative, I think it will forever resonate with me as a lyric that just simply needs to be sung. ”
“Sweet Shivers (which comes from a lyric in ‘Blankets’) is referring to an emotion: a feeling of excitement and joy in the unknown, even if the unknown itself is more dressed up in less than ideal feelings of uncertainty,” Avary continues. “A letting go of sorts; beauty in the free fall. Sonically, to me, the melancholic yet contrastingly hopeful spirit within the journey of the free fall is what this song sounds like.
Directed by Dillon Slack and Ben Busch, the recently released video for “Blankets” stars Brianna Brill and Nick Morbitt, who travel through literal blankets to find one another. At its core, the video tells the story of two people, who come to terms with life and its chaotic moments — through the comfort of another.
Bryce Avary is a Dallas, TX-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer, who’s the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo indie rock/indie pop project The Rocket Summer. His growing catalog includes six previously released full-length albums and a couple of EPs — including 2010’s Of Men and Angels, which landed at #1 on the Top Album spot on iTunes and 2012’s Life Will Write the Words, which landed at #58 on the Billboard 200 and #12 on the Billboard Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums Chart, as well as #12 on the Top Independent Albums Charts.
Avary’s forthcoming Rocket Summer album Sweet Shivers is slated for an August 2, 2019 release and the album’s third and latest single is the anthemic “Peace Signs.” Centered around a breezy and summery groove, and an enormous Silversun Pickups-like hook, the song is one part ardent plea for peace and one part ironically detached satire, meant to play loudly while cruising in your car.
Directed by Dillon Slack and Ben Busch, the recently released, slickly shot video follows Avary in a white convertible, wearing oversized, burnt-orange sunglasses, hair blowing in the wind and driving towards the beach — with two masked figures as passengers, who represent contrasting emotions.
Taylor Knox is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who can trace the origins of his musical career to over a decade ago, when he was recruited to play drums for The Golden Dogs, an act that was considered one of Canada’s criminally under-appreciated bands — and coincidentally, one of Knox’s favorite bands, too.
During his stint with The Golden Dogs, Knox forged friendships with several other bandmembers, who all go on to form Zeus. As a result of Zeus, Knox was a frequent presence at the band’s Toronto studio Ill Eagle, which naturally offered him the perfect environment and the opportunity to begin experimenting with his own original material. Interestingly, Knox and his then-newly formed Zeus were tapped by Jason Collett to be his regular backing band — and it brought him into contact with an even wider circle of musicians, including Luke Doucet, whom he joined on Doucet’s tour to support his acclaimed Steel City Traveler. He also joined Hayden for the Us Alone recording sessions and subsequent tour. He also played with acclaimed Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Rich Aucoin.
With the release of the Lines EP and his full-length debut Love, Knox stepped out into the spotlight, crafting anthemic power pop that has drawn comparisons to acclaimed and highly influential Canadian power pop act Sloan and others. Slated for a June 7, 2019 release, Knox’s sophomore album Here Tonight thematically focuses on the mystery, stillness and artistic inspiration of the night; in fact, Knox’s tendency to be a night owl was a major influence on the album. And when he started writing the material that would eventually comprise his forthcoming sophomore album, he focused on precisely what he was thinking about — and what he wanted to do and say with it. He didn’t want to waste the insight that nighttime has always given him.“I really try to make sure the songs I write come from a place of not something I want to write but something I kind of have to get out. What I’m feeling below what I’m thinking,” Knox says in press notes.
Sonically speaking, the album, which sees Knox working with Josh Korody reportedly sees Knox continuing with the power pop that has won him attention — fuzzy and /or crunchy power chords, forceful drumming and rousingly anthemic hooks; but he sought guidance and inspiration from much more contemporary artists like The Weeknd, SZA and Prince in terms of production and songwriting, as well as the legendary Joni Mitchell. In fact, Korody’s production helped to add new textures to his overall sound, thanks to the incorporation of synths and keyboards to create glistening gutter tones. Knox also worked with Rob Schnapf in Los Angeles, who helped make one song reportedly to sound like one of the best Oasis songs to never appear on an Oasis album.
Interestingly, what sets the Toronto-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s sophomore album apart from this previously released work is a free flowing spontaneity that was encouraged by Korody and Schnapf — and that left room for unrestrained creativity. Doing this, he says, “leaves a little bit of room for discovery with the collaborator and room for their influence. I’ve always tried to do that but I did it more this time because I have confidence that I’ll be able to come up with it on the spot.” Adding to that, Knox brought in a number of Toronto’s finest musicians to collaborator for the sessions including July Talks‘ Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay and Tokyo Police Club‘s Dave Monks.
Here Tonight‘s latest single is the rousingly anthemic, Live It Up.” Centered around fuzzy power chords, forceful drumming, a big arena rock friendly hook and an ethereal falsetto, the track recalls120 Minutes alt rock — in particular, The Posies, The Breeders,Smashing Pumpkins and even more contemporary acts like Silversun Pickups but with the free-flowing air of a bunch of guys jamming and coming up with something incredibly cool and full of furious passion.
Comprised of Duncan Rich (drums), Justin Forrest (bass) and Will Benoit (guitar, synth, vocals), the post-metal shoegaze trio SOM may arguably be one of the most accomplished bands in the contemporary post-metal and shoegaze scenes, as the band features founding members of Boston space rock act Constants, and former touring members and full-time members of acts like Adai, Junius, Rosetta, and Caspian. Interestingly, the members of SOM along with engineer Daryl Rabidoux, who has worked with Doomsday Student and Drowningman recorded their forthcoming full-length debut The Fall on November 9. 2018 and the album’s first single “Open Wounds” is centered by thunderous drumming, w all of sound, fuzzy and distortion pedal-fed guitars, Benoit’s plaintive and yearning vocals and arena rock friendly hooks — and they do so in a way that recalls Silversun Pickups, Thrice and others but with an aching and bitter lament at its core.
Consisting of Olly Dean (vocals, guitar), Jonny Wright (bass) and Chris Kidd (drums), the British rock trio Dopamine formed back in early 2015 and since their formation they’ve developed a reputation for a boozy, power chord-based, arena rock friendly sound heavily influenced by the likes of Royal Blood, Kings of Leon, Foo Fighters, Band of Skulls, Silversun Pickups and Nirvana — but while incorporating elements of the blues and country. And as the trio mentioned by email, they’ve just finished their debut EP, which features the anthemic, Ten and Vs. era Pearl Jam and early Soundgarden-like bruiser “Remedy,” a track that the band says is about a familiar situation to some at least — the end of a toxic relationship that in some small and nagging way feels as though it was kind of good.
With the release of their first two EPs, Gloomy Tunes and Crushed, the Portland, ME-based indie rock trio Weakened Friends, comprised of Sonia Sturino (vocals, guitar), Annie Hoffman (bass), and Cam Jones began receiving quite a bit of buzz for a sound that clearly draws from power pop and 90s grunge rock. And in fact, over the past year or so the band has seen a growing profile as they played this year’s SXSW and have shared stages with the likes of CHVRCHES, Silversun Pickups, Beach Slang and Juliana Hatfield, essentially adding themselves to a growing list of contemporary fuzzy guitar pop-leaning acts that include JOVM mainstays Dead Stars and others.
“Hate Mail,” the trio’s latest single is a rousingly anthemic, mosh pit friendly “fuck off/don’t you come back here/you were the worst thing that ever happened to me/good riddance” song, perfect for anyone who’s gotten out of a miserable and toxic relationship — with some semblance of their dignity and sanity intact, and the sentiment is complimented (and emphasized) with a fuzzy power chords, thunderous drumming and howled, distorted vocals. While the song will further cement their growing reputation for crafting 90s grunge rock-inspired power pop, the song features the Maine-based trio collaborating with Dinosaur Jr.‘s J. Mascis, who contributes his imitable guitar sound to the proceedings.
Going back to their print days, I’ve long been a fan of The Onion AV Club, as they’ve consistently offered some of the smartest, most incisive, funniest criticism of movies, music and pop culture around. Since moving exclusively to the web, the folks behind The Onion AV Club created the Undercover video series. The concept behind the video series is pretty interesting — every season, the website’s writers and editors devise a list of songs that they would love to have contemporary artists cover. The website’s staff then invites a bunch of artists and bands to stop by their Chicago studio, where they have the invited band choose a song from the AV Club’s list for that season — and then they record it in a live session. Now, here’s where things get really interesting: Once a song is chosen and then covered, it’s crossed off their list, reducing the number of songs anyone else can cover that season, so if an artist or band is invited later on in their season, their choices may be much more limited than a band that was invited earlier. By doing that, it prevents having several invited artists or bands from covering the same sets of songs over and and over and over again. And while revealing the influences and tastes of many contemporary acts, it also forces artists out of their confront zones, sometimes to a gloriously weird result — such as They Might Be Giants’ boisterous cover of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and Screaming Females’ feral, punk rock cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Gwar’s thrash punk covers of Billy Ocean’s “Get Out of My Dreams (And Into My Car),” and Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” which are so fucking awesome, that you need to check them out below) or to the “oh shit, I never thought that artist could pull that song,” like Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater’s collaborative cover of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” And as you can imagine, sometimes the covers are straightforward — and other times, the band or artist brings a unique, never thought of take. Adding to the unpredictability of the series, they’ve had Shearwater cover Bowie’s Lodger.
To start off the eighth season of Undercover, the A.V. Club invited the Seattle, WA-based indie rock blogosphere darlings Minus the Bear to their newly redesigned Chicago studio, where they played a forceful and lovingly straightforward cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.”