Tag: singer/songwriter

Rising Los Angeles-based coldwave/darkwave/dark synth-riot act Violent Vickie — Vickie (vocals, production) and E (guitar, production) — have released material through a handful of labels including  Crunch PodEmerald & Doreen RecordingsRiot Grrl Berlin and LoveCraft Bar, which the act has supported with tours with Atari Teenage Riot‘s Hanin EliasThe Vanishing‘s Jessie Evans, Trans XThem Are Us Too, Aimon & The Missing Persons and others. The duo have also played sets across the US and European festival circuits with stops at Insted FestSolidarity FestShoutback Fest and Gay Prides and Ladyfests. 

Their single “The Wolf” was featured in a National Organization for Women film. Violent Vickie’s Vickie was also interviewed for the documentary GRRL as part of the museum exhibit Alien She. Adding to the band’s growing profile, their album Monster Alley was voted best album by KALX. And if you’ve been frequenting this site, you may recall that their latest album Division, which featured the dark yet dance floor friendly “Circle Square” was released last September.

Since the release of Division, the band has been busy writing and recording material, including their latest single, a Mazzy Star-like take on Johnny Cash‘s “Ring of Fire” centered around a sparse arrangement of strummed guitar and Vickie’s plaintive vocals fed through gentle amounts of reverb. Sonically, the track is a marked departure from the chilly, dark and aggressive coldwave and New Wave-inspired tracks they’re known for, while retaining the longing of the original.

MMYYKK (pronounced “Mike”) is a rising Inland Empire, CA-born, Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. 2019’s highly praised Electro Soul EP found the Inland Empire-born, Minneapolis-based multi-hyphenate artist further establishing a difficult to pigeonhole sound and approach that draws from soul, future funk, R&B, hip-hop, jazz and fusion — and seems equally indebted to Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Herbie Hancock, and Stevie Wonder.

MMYYKK is also an accomplished ambient artist: Last year’s Mellow Moods and Meditations was released to praise. Earlier this year, he produced PASSAGE, a Black mental health and wellness initiative done in collaboration with the folks at Okayplayer. Building upon a busy year, the Inland Empire-born, Minneapolis-based artist will be releasing the Science EP through London-based label Rhythm Section INTL in September.

Science EP‘s first single is the slinky “Divine.” Centered around MMYYKK’s sultry falsetto, glistening synth arpeggios and a strutting bass line, the flirtatious “Divine” sonically will draw comparisons to D’Angelo and Thundercat, as the crafted manages to be effortless yet carefully crafted. Interestingly, underneath the funky grooves, the song is a much-needed and loving ode to Black women. “Black women taught me how to love. Women literally save the world every day. This track was a way for me to express appreciation and sing praises to the women in my life,” MMYYKK explains in press notes.



New Video: Rising Artist Alewya Releases a Club Friendly Banger

Dubbed “this decade’s triple threat” by Love Magazine, Alewya is a rapidly rising London-based singer/songwriter, producer and visual artist. Born in Saudi Arabia to an Egyptian-Sudanese father and an Ethiopian mother, Alewya has spent her life surrounded and nurtured by diaspora immigrant communities: she grew up in West London and after spending several years in New York. she returned to London. Upon returning home, the rising British artist developed and honed her ear for music through the sounds of the Ethiopian and Arabic music of her parents and the ambient alternative rock albums pop her brother.

lation of the Saudi-born, Ethiopian-Sudanese, British-based artist’s name from Arabic to English into “most high” or “the highest,” and interestingly enough, her work generally is thematically concerned with transcendence. She sees her music as an accessible space for her and her listeners to connect on a deeply spiritual level — with her work challenge the listener to remember the last time that they felt truly connected to themselves and their emotions. “I want to move people to themselves. I want them to feel the same way that I felt when I had a taste of a higher power and felt there was a presence over me,” Alewya says. “I want people to feel that.” 

nking Timbaland-like mesh of trap, reggae and electro pop. Since, the release of “Sweating,” the rising British artist has been busy releasing a handful of equally self-assured singles, including her latest single “Spirit_X.” Featuring around skittering, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, arpeggiated synths paired with Alewya’s punchy delivery in which she alternates between fiery bars and sultry crooning. The new single sonically is indebted to the relentless energy of classic drum ‘n’ bass music, and manages to evoke the sensation of getting lost in thumping beats and strobe light.

“I know that the rave can be utilized as ritual and ceremony to transform, uplift and energize a person,” Alewya explains. “I love giving visceral experiences. I love drum and bass for that specific reason. ‘Spirit_X’ encompasses all of the above in my way.”

Directed by the artist and Simon Lane, the recently released video for “Spirit_X” follows Alewya as she wanders a subterranean maze of abandoned tunnels before encountering an underground and extremely communal rave from a dystopian future that seems very familiar — and defiantly pro-Black. Visually, the video references The Prodigy’s “Firestarter.”

New Video: Rising Los Angeles-based Act Mini Trees Releases a Surreal Visual for Infectious “Carrying On”

Rising Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lexi Vega is the daughter of a Cuban-born father and Japanese-American mother. The uniqueness of her identity has been an ever-present and constant tension within her life: Vega never quite fit in within the predominantly white, suburban Southern California communities of her childhood. And she had few around her, outside of her immediate family to understand the generational scars caused by internment and exile.

When Vega was just five, her father, a professional drummer himself, committed suicide. Understandably all of those traumas set in motion, questioning of Vega’s own self-identity throughout the course of her own her life. As an adult, the rising Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist played drums in a number of projects for several years before starting to write and record material with her solo recording project Mini Trees in 2018.

person and as an artist, fully in control of her vision — while providing her an opportunity to process, persevere and grow. Over the next two years, the Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist wrote, recorded and released two EPs: 2019’s debut Steady Me and last year’s Slip Away.

Understandably, with ample time to work on music as a result of the pandemic, Vega found herself ready to progress creatively while challenging many of her own long-held beliefs and notions about her identity. Originally envisioned to be her third EP, her forthcoming full-length debut Always In Motion features relatable and crafted indie pop songs that acknowledge collective anxiety about life’s seeming improbability while pointing out that life always keeps pushing you forward — for better or for worse.

centered around dense layers of shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a rousingly anthemic hook, Vega’s achingly plaintive vocals and propulsive four-on-the-floor. “Carrying On” can trace its origins to a trip to the desert, where Vega struggled to reconcile her sense of the world with the actual reality in front of her, especially during a time when everything felt unbelievable and surreal. And while sonically — to my ears — bearing a resemblance to JOVM mainstay San Mei, the new single features a narrator, who’s struggling with the inability to carry on, because she’s absolutely certain that somehow, someway the other shoe will drop no matter what she may try to do.

motions of everyday life — from getting up out bed, brushing her teeth, eating, working and even playing music. But at some point, the video’s protagonist recognizes that something isn’t quite right and tries to escape.

“I wrote ‘Carrying On’ in the middle of 2020 when I was out in the desert escaping the city and reflecting on the unsettling new way of life we all had to adopt during the pandemic,” Vega recalls. “Despite how in some ways life had begun to feel mundane again, there was a constant underlying fear that everything could unravel at any moment. In a sarcastic tone, the song questions my ability to hold it all together. We tried to capture this sentiment with the music video, displaying a character who is being led through the motions of day-to-day life, but beginning to recognize that something isn’t quite right.”

Always In Motion is slated for a September 17, 2021 release through Run For Cover Records.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay DG Solaris Teams Up with Jeremy Tuplin on the Dream-like “Ocean/Are You weird Enough?”

London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Danny Green may be best known for being the frontman of acclaimed British folk pop act Laish. With Laish, Green wrote and recorded four critically applauded albums released through French indie label Tailres, which he and his bandmates supported with extensive touring across the UK, the European Union and the States.

In 2019 Green went through a number of major life changes: That March, he met Leanna “LG” Green — and by December they got married. For their honeymoon, Leanna and Danny Green decided to spend six months across South America with a simple recording setup that they carried with them in a backpack. During their trip, the couple wound up writing and recording demos that would become the earliest material of their recording project together DG Solaris.  “In between swimming with sea-lions, exploring sacred plant medicines and climbing mountains, we had been searching for beautiful spaces to set up our backpack studio,” the Greens explained in press notes. “All of our recordings feature the sounds of birds, cicadas and crickets.”

en’s latest single, “Ocean/Are You Weird Enough?,” a collaboration with fellow London-based singer/songwriter Jeremy Tuplin can trace its origins back to some rather unusual circumstances: Although Green and Tuplin have been writing and recording albums during the past decade, they’ve only been vaguely aware of each other’s existence. One night in Peru, following an intense shamanic ceremony, Green had a vivid dream that he and Tuplin were floating high above the ocean. The next morning, Green contacted Tuplin to share his strange astral encounter — and the pair began a correspondence.

Of course, the end result is the dream-like “Ocean/Are You Weird Enough?” Written and recorded during the middle of a pandemic — which created its own challenges — “Ocean/Are You Weird Enough?” is centered around a sparse yet haunting arrangement of acoustic guitar, atmospheric synths, shuffling drums serving as a gentle and ethereal bed for a gorgeous melody — and some equally gorgeous harmonies. And while sounding a bit like a cross between The Church and Nick Drake, the song as Green explains thematically explores the oneness and weirdness of people within a collective whole.

The recently released video by Danny Tuplin features some gorgeous drone footage at the sea, meant to evoke the sensation of floating above the ocean and looking at life going on below interspersed with footage of jellyfish and endless plastic floating down to the seafloor, VHS fuzz, a retro-futuristic-like beach house. It’s an oddly gentle, dystopian and hallucinogenic dream.

New Video: Sissysocks’ Yearning and Ethereal “Augsburg”

Sissysocks is a Melbourne-based singer/songwriter and producer, who crafts ambient and atmospheric synth pop. The Melbourne-based artist’s forthcoming James Cecil-produced album Slink Away is slated for a September 3, 2021 release.

Slink Away’s latest single “Augsburg,” continues a run of atmospheric synth pop centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched synth arpeggios, thumping and skittering beats serving as a silkly bed for the Melbourne-based artist’s achingly tender and yearning vocals. “The song is about looking for things in the wrong places, and making the game mistakes again,” Sissysocks explains. “It was written after spending a short time in Augsburg, outside of Munich.”

dream full of longing and nostalgia: we follow a presumably undead woman through a lonely few days in which she longs to see her favorite artist live again. Walking through town to the club, passerby look at the woman with disgust, loathing and disbelief — but when she gets to the club, she shares a deeply intimate connection with the artist.

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay Yola Performs “Stand For Myself” on “Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

With the release of 2019’s Walk Through Fire, her critically applauded Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut, the the Bristol, UK-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola had a breakthrough year, which included:

making her New York debut at Rockwood Music Hall
playing a buzz-worthy, breakout performance at that year’s SXSW
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors
playing a YouTube session at YouTube Space New York
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas
making her late night national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! 
releasing a soulful cover of Elton John‘s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, ”that not only quickly became a staple of her live sets — but caught the attention of Sir Elton John, who praised her and her cover

year, the JOVM mainstay had a massive year ahead of her. Early in the year, it was announced that she was cast to play gospel, blues and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama Elvis alongside Austin Butler in the title role, Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Presley’s mother. Much like everyone else, the pandemic threw an enormous monkey wrench in her plans: Tom Hanks wound contracting COVID-19 while filming in Australia. Pandemic-related lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions added further delays to the filming schedule.

or country superstar Chris Stapleton (at Madison Square Garden!) and for Grammy Award-winning acts  The Black Keys and Brandi Carlile. Those dates were eventually postponed with some dates rescheduled for later this year. (As always, tour dates will be below.)

Luckily, the Bristol-born, Nashville-based JOVM mainstay was able to finish her first Stateside headlining tour, a tour that included a Music Hall of Williamsburg a few weeks before the pandemic wrecked havoc across the globe. With the pandemic putting everything on pause, Yola managed to remain busy: She made virtual stops across the domestic, late night television circuit, which included playing album bonus track “I Don’t Want to Lie” on The Late Late Show with James Corden and a gospel-tinged cover Nina Simone‘s classic and beloved “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” filmed at The Ryman Auditorium for Late Night with Seth Meyers.

With the unexpected gift of time and space, Yola founded herself physically and mentally as she began to write the material that would eventually become her soon-to-be released sophomore album Stand For Myself. Interestingly, some of the album’s material was written several years perviously and was inspired by some deeply personal moments, like her mother’s funeral. Other songs were written during pandemic quarantine and isolation, and as a result, they reflect on personal and collective moments of longing and awakening, inspired and informed by Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements. Album tracks were cowritten with an incredibly diverse array of collaborators including Ruby Amanfu, John Bettis, Pat McLaughlin, Natalie Hemby, Joy Oladokun, Paul Overstreet, Liz Rose, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Hannah Vasanth and Bobby Wood.

Thematically, Stand For Myself’s material will make a connection with anyone who has ever experienced the feeling as though they were an “other,” while urging the listener to challenge the biases and assumptions that fuel bigotry, inequality and tokenism — all of which have impacted Yola’s personal life and career in some way or another.

thinking and paradigm shift at their core.” Yola says in press note, adding, “It is an album not blindly positive and it does not simply plead for everyone to come together. It instead explores ways that we need to stand for ourselves throughout our lives, what limits our connection as humans and declares that real change will come when we challenge our thinking and acknowledge our true complexity.” Ultimately, the JOVM mainstay’s hope is that the album will encourage both empathy and self actualization, all while returning to where she started, to the real Yola. “I kind of got talked out of being me, and now I’m here. This is who I’ve always been in music and in life. There was a little hiatus where I got brainwashed out of my own majesty, but a bitch is back.”

ngside Aaron Frazier (drums), a rising solo artist in his own right, the album is sonically is a noticeable shift from her debut, inspired by the seminal albums she discovered through her mother’s record collection, as well as the eclectic mixtapes featuring neo-soul, R&B, Brit Pop and others that she created as a young person listening to British radio. Aesthetically, the album frequently is a mesh of symphonic soul and classic pop that occasionally hints at the country soul of her breakthrough debut.

For Myself” is a bold feminist anthem written from the perspective of a survivor, who boldly asserts her desire to thrive and to be wholly herself — in her own terms and at all costs. While reflecting on the JOVM mainstay’s belief in the possibility of paradigm shift beyond the noxious mental programming that creates tokenism and bigotry, the song is centered around a rousingly anthemic, shout-along worthy chorus, Yola’s soulful, powerhouse vocals paired with a clean, modern Nashville meets symphonic pop sound.

“The song’s protagonist ‘token,’ has been shrinking themselves to fit into the narrative of another’s making, but it becomes clear that shrinking is pointless,” Yola explains. She adds “This song is about a celebration of being awake from the nightmare supremacist paradigm. Truly alive, awake and eyes finally wide open and trained on your path to self actualisation. You are thinking freely and working on undoing the mental programming that has made you live in fear. It is about standing for ourselves throughout our lives and real change coming when we challenge our thinking. This is who I’ve always been in music and in life.”

Last night, the JOVM mainstay performed a subtly stripped down version of “Stand For Myself” accompanied by a guest spot from Jon Batiste that managed to retain the song’s anthemic nature and powerfully necessary message.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay MUNYA Releases a Gorgeous and Dreamy Visual for Shimmering “Pour Toi”

During the course of 2018 and 2019, I’ve managed to write quite a bit about Québec-born and-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Josie Boivin, the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded recording project and JOVM mainstay act MUNYA.

When Boivin was asked to play at 2017’s Pop Montreal, she had only written one song. Ironically, at the time, Boivin never intended to pursue music full-time; but after playing at the festival, she quickly realized that music was what she was meant to do. So, Boivin quit her day job, moved in with her sister and turned their kitchen into a home recording studio, where she wrote every day. Those recordings would become part of an EP trilogy with each individual EP named after a significant place in Boivin’s life: Her debut North Hatley EP derived its name from one of Boivin’s favorite little Québecois villages. Her second EP, the critically applauded Delmano EP derived its name from Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based bar Hotel Delmano. The third and final EP of the trilogy, Blue Pine derived its name from the Blue Pine Mountains in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.

Washed Out-like “Pour Toi” is centered around an aching and unfulfilled longing: The song as Boivin explains is about speaking to a loved one from a distance.

Co-directed by MUNYA and Josh Aldecoa, the recently released, gorgeously shot and surreal dream of a video for “Pour Toi” was shot in Williamsburg, a beautiful, sun-filled apartment and elsewhere. We see the acclaimed Québecois artist chatting on an old red dial tone phone in a variety of places , which manages to emphasize the longing at the center of the song.

New Video: Laura Carbone Performs “Nightride” at Rockpalast

With the release of her first two albums — 2016’s Sirens and 2018’s Empty Sea — Berlin-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and photographer  Laura Carbone received attention across the European Union and elsewhere for a sound and approach that frequently draws comparisons to PJ Harvey, Shana Falana, Chelsea Wolfe, St. Vincent and others.

While opening for The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Carbone and her backing band quickly established a reputation for a powerful live show, which she further cemented with a headlining tours across the European Union and North America. (If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you might recall that I caught Carbone when she played Baby’s All Right back in 2019. A lifetime ago, it seems.)

s the story goes, Carbone and her backing band were slated to go into the studio last May to record what would be her highly-anticipated, third album. But as a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, Carbone’s plans were indefinitely shelved at the time, much like countless other artists across the globe. While she was touring across the European Union, Carbone and her band made an appearance on the beloved German live concert series Rockpalast. For Carbone, who grew up in a small, southwestern German town watching Rockpaalst as a music obsessed youth, appearing on the show was the achievement of a lifelong dream: Rockpalast has recorded and broadcasted a who’s who list of influential and important artists, including Siouxsie and The Banshees, Radiohead, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith, Sinead O’Connor, David Bowie, R.E.M., Echo and the Bunnymen, Screaming Trees, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Marley and the Wailers and a very lengthy list of others.

Because of pandemic-related shutdowns, Carbone and her band came up with an interesting idea: “What if Rockpalast would let us release that show as a live album?” Released last fall across Europe and today across North America,  Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast is just that. Taken from her October 2019 Rockpalast set at Harmonie Bonn, the live album is a centered around a career-spanning set featuring material from her first two albums and a rather unexpected cover. Hewing as closely as humanly possible to their live sound, the album was mixed by  in Los Angeles by The Jesus and Mary Chain‘s Scott Van Ryper and mastered by Philipp Welsing at Hamburg‘s Original Mastering with no overdubs.

Because of pandemic-related shutdowns, Carbone and her band came up with an interesting idea: “What if Rockpalast would let us release that show as a live album?” Released last fall across Europe and today across North America,  Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast is just that. Taken from her October 2019 Rockpalast set at Harmonie Bonn, the live album is a centered around a career-spanning set featuring material from her first two albums and a rather unexpected cover. Hewing as closely as humanly possible to their live sound, the album was mixed by  in Los Angeles by The Jesus and Mary Chain‘s Scott Van Ryper and mastered by Philipp Welsing at Hamburg‘s Original Mastering with no overdubs.

So far I’ve written about two of Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast’s singles:

“Who’s Gonna Save You,” which captures Catrbone and her band’s forceful live sound and the Berlin-based artist’s irresistible stage presence. And while the song finds the band deftly balancing menace and sultriness, the song should serve as an introduction to an artist, who has quickly added her name to a growing list of rock goddesses.
“Cellophane Skin:” Performed as the first song of the set’s encore, the live rendition finds Carbone and company taking the tension of the original and informing with a feral intensity developed while touring. And as a result, the song finds its narrator — and perhaps, even the artist herself — turning into a seductive, yet vengeful force of nature tearing down the bonds of poisonous social norms that have imprisoned her, while demanding that we — men particularly so — examine and check ourselves.

Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast’s third and latest single “Nightride” is a slow-burning and brooding bit of psychedelia-tinged post punk that sonically and lyrically nods at The Doors “The End” as though covered by PJ Harvey. Full of dark and uneasy imagery including a full moon on a clear night, a dark yet irresistible stranger, a road trip through the forest, sporadically lit by the moonlight and headlights, the song thematically is an existential journey — to the dark and murky depths of a human soul, to something and/or someone.