Tag: singer/songwriter

New Video: Neon Jesus’ Sultry and Bluesy Banger “Red Lips”

Rising Canadian-born and-based singer/songwriter Neon Jesus can trace the origins of his genre-defying sound — a sound that pairs blues-inspired guitar with pulsing electronic dance music — to when he lived in New York.

While in New York, the rising Canadian artist frequently caught live music, and he noticed a significant and very telling difference in terms of reaction: “I’d be out at a rock show and while people were attentive and taking everything in, the crowd’s reaction was rather lackluster, even amid great artists before them,” Neon Jesus recalls. ““But then I’d head to a rave in Brooklyn and it struck me that people there were uninhibited and just generally more invested in what they were listening to. That was when I started to wonder what would happen if someone were to bring the two genres together.”

Electronic music was uncharted territory for the rising Canadian artist. But rather than mindlessly following the short-lived trends of generic dance music, Neon Jesus invested time to understand the foundations of electronic music and began to create his own beats to accompany his own guitar playing. That approach to production caught the attention of New York-based dance music production Abe Duque, a pioneer of deep house.

Mentored by Duque, Neon Jesus was exposed to underground dance music. Together, they created a live sound featuring synths and drum machines while the Canadian artist played guitar that saw the pair playing off one-another in an improvised manner familiar to the blues and jazz. The pair took their live sound to Berlin, where Neon Jesus became the first artist to play electric guitar at the renowned Berlin-based techno club Berghain.

Interestingly, those performances laid the foundation for Neon Jesus’ forthcoming full-length debut Tabula Rosa. Tabula Rosa‘s first single, the slickly produced and sultry “Red Lips” is centered around a thumping kick drum, glistening and pulsating synths, the Canadian artist’s plaintive wailing and scorching guitar lines reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, Prince and the like. And while pairing bluesy, power chord-driven rock with pulsating electronic dance music, “Red Lips” sonically and thematically reminds me a bit of INXS‘ “Need You Tonight” as the song is about desperate, maddening, obsessive desire — but with a sinister and uneasy undertone. “When you look back at artists like Prince or Jimi Hendrix, the blues was at the heart of their sound,” he declares. For some, this may seem a bit odd. The blues label doesn’t easily stick to them. Rather than mimic what came before them, they took the soul of blues and roots music and grew their own branches from the same tree. That’s the impetus behind my exploration of mixing blues and rock guitar with electronic music. I’m growing my personal branch on that tree.”

The recently released video was shot on grainy Super 8 film and is split between footage of the Canadian artist rocking out in a dark club, a beautiful blonde in knee high boots strutting around NYC. “With the video, we were trying to capture the sensation where love slips into obsession followed by a sudden darkness, where only the Lord can save you from its clutches,” Neon Jesus says.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay MAGON Returns with a Brooding and Introspective Single

Over the past 18 months or so, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering Israeli-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay MAGON. With the release of Out in the Dark, the Israeli-born, Paris-based artist quickly established a sound that at the time, he dubbed as “urban rock on psychedelics.”  

Late last year, the Israeli-French artist released his critically applauded sophomore album Hour After Hour, which featured “Change,” a dreamy meditation on the passing of time, “Aerodynamic,” a decidedly glam rock-inspired take on psych rock and the No Wave meets post-punk like album title track “Hour After Hour.” Sonically, the album’s material was a decided change in direction with the material being ” “somewhere between Ty SegallAllah-Las and The Velvet Underground” according to the JOVM mainstay.

The Israeli-French artist’s third album In The Blue officially dropped today and the album sees MAGON drawing from two different sets of influences — 70s rock like Lou Reed and Led Zeppelin and contemporary influences like Mac DeMarco and Devendra Banhart. Written around the birth of the artist’s daughter, the album is centered around what may arguably be some of the most introspective songwriting of his growing catalog — paired with a bit more assertive delivery.

In the lead-up to In The Blue‘s release, I wrote about two of the album’s singles:

  • The Willow,” an introspective bit of 70s-inspired art rock, that follows its characters on a trip to Egypt, where its primary narrator sees the titular willow. But interestingly, the trip serves as a larger and deeper metaphor for its characters, who are all desperately trying to find something — perhaps themselves or a deeper, hidden truth?
  • Egyptian Music,” a slow-burning vibey ballad of sorts, centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars paired with impressionistic yet introspective songwriting — with the song equally evoking nostalgia and regret. 

“Forever,” In The Blue‘s third and latest single, is a vibey-mid tempo song that’s one part AM rock, one part-post punk centered around impressionistic lyrics touching upon regret, forgiveness, time and its inevitable passing, and love. But interestingly, the song’s narrator — to me, at least — seems a bit worn out and exhausted by — well, everything.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Genesis Owusu Releases a Trippy Visual for “Waitin’ For Ya (Remix)”

With the release of his debut EP, 2017’s Cardrive, the acclaimed and rising Ghanian-born, Canberra, Australia-based, artist Genesis Owusu — born Kofi Owusu-Anash — quickly established a reputation for being a restless, genre-blurring chameleon with an ability to conjure powerful and deeply personal storytelling.

The EP eventually garnered an ARIA Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Release and praise from Sir Elton John (!), NMEi-Dmixmag and others. Owusu supported the EP by opening for Dead PrezCol3traneSampa The GreatCosmo’s MidnightNonameAniméRuel and others in Australia.

Last year, Owusu-Anash released a couple of highly-celebrated singles — the fiery street shit meets mosh pit ripper “Whip Cracker” and the ARIA Award-nominated smash hit “Don’t Need You,” which quickly became the #1 most played song on triple J radio and eventually international airplay on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 and here in the States on KCRWKUTXThe Current and Alt98

Owusu-Anash’s critically applauded full-length debut Smiling With No Teeth was released earlier this year. The album as the acclaimed Ghanian-Aussie artist explains is essentially about “performing what the world wants to see, even if you don’t have the capacity to do so honestly. Slathering honey on your demons to make them palatable to people, who only want to know if you’re okay, if the answer is yes. That’s the idea, turned into beautiful, youthful, ugly, timeless and strange music.

Each of the album’s 15 tracks can trace their origins back to studio jam sessions with a backing band that features Kirin J. CallinanTouch Sensitive’s Michael DiFrancesco, World Champion‘s Julian Sudek and the album’s producer Andrew Klippel. 

In the lead-up to the album’s release, I wound up writing about three of Smiling With No Teeth‘s singles:

  • The Other Black Dog,” a mind-bending production that meshed alternative hip-hop, industrial clang, clatter, rattle and stomp, off-kilter stuttering beats and wobbling synth arpeggios that was roomy enough for Owusu-Anash’s breathless, rapid-fire and dense flow. Managing to balance club friendliness with sweaty, mosh pit energy, the song is a full-throttled nosedive into madness that reminds me of the drug and booze fueled chaos of ODB, and the menace of DMX.
  • Gold Chains,” a brooding yet seamless synthesis of old school soul, G Funk and Massive Attack-like trip hop centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, stuttering boom bap beats, squiggling blasts of guitar and the rising Ghanian-born, Canberra-based artist’s Mos Def/Yasiin Bey-like delivery, alternating between spitting dense and dexterous bars and crooning with an achingly tender falsetto. “‘Gold Chains’ got me thinking about the flaws of being in a profession where, more and more, you have to be the product, rather than just the provider of the product, and public misconceptions about how luxurious that is,” Owusu-Anash explains in press notes. “Lyrically, it set the tone for the rest of the album.” 
  • Same Thing,” a jolting and uneasy future funk banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, bursts of Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a propulsive bass line and infectious hook serving as a silky bed for Owusu’s alternating dexterous and densely worded bars and soulful crooning. But at its core is an unflinchingly honest — and necessary — view of mental health struggles. 

In July, the Ghanian-Aussie JOVM mainstay released the Missing Molars EP, a five-track accompaniment to his full-length debut. Recorded during the Smiling With No Teeth sessions, the Missing Molars EP material didn’t make the album — but further continue the soul-baring narrative of the album. “Missing Molars is an extension of Smiling With No Teeth,” Owusu-Anash explains. “A small collection of tracks from the SWNT sessions that take the already established world-building groundwork of the album, and expand that universe into new and unexplored places. These are all tracks that I felt were special in their own right and needed to be shared. This is music without boundaries.” 

In the lead up to Missing Molars‘ release, I wrote about “The Fall,” a slick and pulsing synthesis of industrial house, hip-hop and future soul centered around Owusu-Anash’s silky falsetto that manages to convey a restless and uneasy energy while being a banger.

Originally commissioned to be part of a global ad campaign, Jagwar Ma’s Jono Ma gave album track “Waitin’ On Ya,” the remix treatment. The original was sultry bit of neo-soul centered around shimmering and arpeggiated Rhodes, a sinuous bass line and Owusu’s silky smooth delivery. The Jono Ma remix retains the acclaimed JOVM mainstay’s silky smooth delivery but pairs it with skittering drum ‘n’ bass-like beats and glistening synths and buoyant horns, turning the song into a trippy yet club friendly bop.

The “Waitin’ On Ya (Remix)” caps off a wildly successful year for the Ghanian-Aussie JOVM mainstay: Owusu-Anash has firmly secured himself atop international “emerging artists to watch in 2021.” Smiling With No Teeth has received critical acclaim internationally from NPR Music, i-D, Paste Magazine, Hypebeast and countless others. The album has also received over 50 million streamed globally while landing on a number of Spotify and Apple Music playlists.

The video for the “Waiting On Ya (Remix)” was directed by Riley Blakeway, who directed the award-winning video for “The Other Black Dog.” The video continues the narrative developed from “The Other Black Dog” but through a fever dream-like prism that features that visual’s main character running a complex and crazy scam that seems him travel to all kinds of paradisal locations — but while appearing and being a menacing and uneasy look at someone, who might be slowly going mad.

New Audio: Italy’s IC2 Releases a Brooding Yet Dance Floor Friendly Single

IC2 is the darkwave/post-punk solo recording project of a rather mysterious Villa Latina, Italy-based producer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. The emerging Italian artist’s latest single, the brooding yet dance floor friendly “Falling Down” is centered around glistening synth arpeggios, thumping electronic drums, wiry bursts of distorted guitars, crooned vocals and an enormous hook. Sonically, “Falling Down” may remind some listeners of post-punk heavyweights like Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure and Joy Division — as well as contemporaries like ACTORS, Bootblacks and others.

New Video: Montreal’s Hélène Barbier Releases a Childlike Visual for Trippy “Lightly”

Montreal-based singer/songwriter and musician Hélène Barbier has developed a reputation for crafting off-kilter yet beautiful pop centered around imbalance through juxtaposition: four simple notes become evocative alongside four disorienting, different notes — and that simplistic rule has become a basis for complex material.

The Montreal-based musician then recruits musicians who are willing to break from tired chords, worn fills and needless flourish — expertise aside. Barbier switches between English and French atop aggressively uncomplicated yet avant-garde pop melodies, while keeping pretension and contrived professionalism far away.

Deriving its name from the brightest stars, seen in the constellation Leo, Barbier’s sophomore album Regulus was released earlier this year. For the Regulus sessions, Barbier brought together dissident players and ideas high and low to create space pop that’s equally unnerving and comforting.

“Lightly,” Regulus‘ latest single is a woozy and mischievous pop song centered around layers of droning guitars, wobbling and shimmering synths, a steady but propulsive backbeat and Barbier’s seemingly detached vocals paired with a razor sharp hook. Sonically, “Lightly” sounds as though it could have been released in the distant future — perhaps the year 3578 — but with a contemporary irony.

Barbier explains that the song is about letting go of things you can’t control. The childlike, animated visual by Gart Darley follows a girl and a sun-like star flying across the world, past oceans, cities, enormous mountain ranges and the like. “Home movies meets Super Mario World in this high-flying video,” Darley says.

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With the release of his full-length debut, 2019’s CounterglowMontreal-based singer/songwriter and pop artist Reno McCarthy quickly received attention for his remarkably self-assured songwriting. The Montreal-based artist also received praise for his debonair stage presence — and for having a backing band that plays a groove-heavy live set. 

Following the loss of his father last year, McCarthy wound up writing and recording a moving and deeply moving EP, Angels Watching Us Down, which found the Montreal-based artist crafting much more stripped down and strikingly sensitive material.

Late last month, McCarthy released his sophomore album, RUN UP RIVER, which features the introspective yet upbeat “Sundown,” and the slickly produced, St. Lucia-like ode to hesitation and indecisiveness, “For A Moment.” The album’s latest single, the atmospheric “Nothing Less, Nothing More” is a slow-burning song featuring shimmering and reverb drenched guitars, skittering beats with a trippy Tame Impala-like coda with glistening synth arpeggios, held together with McCarthy’s delicate croon. The song manages to evoke the uneasy swoon of a new relationship with both sides entering uncharted waters with themselves and each other.

Centered around introspective, lived-in lyrics, the song as McCarthy explains “offers an honest look at the unstable nature of early relationships. It’s about accepting both ourselves and our loved ones for who we are.”

 

New Video: French Artist Haya The Hellcat Takes Viewers on a Tour of Paris in Trippy Visual for Punchy “Histoire De Se Revoir”

Haya The Hellcat is a Nancy, France-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who writes and records out of a basement studio of an artists’ house called AXLV — All Exclusive. The Nancy-based artist grew up spitting his time between Reunion Island and France, where he studied music and began writing instrumentals when he turned 14. When he turned 26, the emerging French singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist began writing his own lyrics — and recording material singing his own lyrics.

The Nancy- based artist’s debut EP Quarante-Six Kilomètres Dans Les Sable was released earlier this month, and the EP touches upon several themes including travel, emotions and others. The EP’s latest single “Histoire De Se Revoir” is a decidedly post-punk influenced tune centered around a punchy and propulsive bass line, shimmering guitars, plaintive vocals and a razor sharp hook. Interestingly, the song sees the French artist deftly balancing wistful nostalgia with a breezy, radio friendly accessibility.

The recently released, gorgeously shot black and white visual for “Histoire De Se Revoir” follows Haya The Hellcat through Paris — sometimes forward, sometimes backward.

Live Footage: JAWNY Performs “Take It Back” on Vevo DSCVR

Initially known as Johnny Utah, the rising Bay Area-born, Los Angeles-based self-taught bedroom pop producer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist JAWNY has begun to win over the blogosphere through restless reinvention: Since the release of “Honeypie,” JAWNY has released material, in which at one moment, he might be playing a funky pop banger and in another, a distortion-fueled ripper born of an instinct-driven creative process he describes as “very scatterbrained and manic and all-over-the-place,” that’s equally inspired by Luther Vandross and STRFKR.

Vevo, one of the world’s biggest music video networks recently released their complete list for their DSCVR Artists to Watch 2022 campaign: Vevo received over 500 submissions from a variety of acts across the globe — and Vevo selected 21 of them, who the video network believes will break through into the mainstream. Those 21 acts will film two performances in visually unique settings. Appearing on the Artists to Watch list help the artists and bands on it receive critical exposure and promotion that help propel their careers to the next step: All 21 ATW artists and bands will be marketed and featured on Vevo’s expertly curated music video programming — through playlists and editorial features across Vevo’s network. including YouTube and connected TV platforms like Pluto TVSamsung TV Plus, and Apple TV. Rapidly rising Isle of Man-based duo Wet Leg was one of those 21 acts selected for Vevo’s DSCVR Artists to Watch 2022 campaign.

The latest artist on that list is the aforementioned Bay Area-born, Los Angeles-based multi-hyphenate artist. And for his live session, JAWNY performs the Local H-like “Take It Back.” Centered around a classic grunge rock song structure — quiet-ish verses, rousingly anthemic, power chord-driven choruses, thunderous drumming, “Take It Back” is a mosh pit friendly ripper, featuring a fed-up, lovelorn narrator tired of being played around. We’ve all been there and the song’s universality will likely lead to countless kids shouting along to the chorus in sweaty mosh pits around the country.

“Since taking the internet by storm with ‘Honeypie,’ JAWNY has held our attention by propelling himself into project after project where in one instance, he may be grooving through a funky pop banger and in another he’s shredding on a distortion-heavy, lovelorn track,” James Mecker, Vevo’s Manger/Music Programming, shares. “It’s hard not to be reminded of Beck’s constant reinventions, this time through the voice of a 25-year-old who has experienced global events and personal heartbreak in the span of two tumultuous years. With his first tour since the pandemic currently underway, we’re excited to watch the next chapter of the artist formerly known as Johnny Utah get written in front of our very own eyes.”