Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for the better part of the past year or so, you’d be familiar with JOVM mainstay Shana Falana, and as you may recall, Falana is a California-born, Upstate New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of her musical career to San Francisco‘s D.I.Y. scene, as well as a stint in a local, Bulgarian women’s choir. By 2006, Falana had been in New York for some time and was struggling through drug addiction and financial woes, when she lost part of an index finger in a work-related accident. And under most normal circumstances, the accident for most people would be considered either extremely unlucky and perhaps even tragic; however, the settlement money she received provided a much-needed period of financial stability and a desperately-needed period in which she could get sober and find a new focus in her life and music. You’ll also recall that, her sophomore effort, Here Comes the Wave, which was one of my favorite albums released last year, was conceptualized and written during two different parts of Falana’s life — while she was struggling with drug addiction and trying to get sober, and in the subsequent years that have followed in sobriety. Naturally, the material at points was rewritten, revised and refined with the growing sense of perspective and awareness that comes when you’ve gotten older and hopefully much wiser than what you were. As a result, the material winds up being centered around a universal duality — in this case, how its creator once thought, felt and once was and how its creator now thinks, feels and is. But along with that, the material focuses on transformation as a result of emotional turmoil, the inner strength and resolve to overcome difficulties, the acceptance of time-passing, aging and one’s own impending mortality., as well as the death of her father.
Falana’s sophomore effort found her continuing her collaborating with producer D. James Goodwin, best known for his work with Bob Weir, Whitney and Kevin Morby and with her long-time partner, collaborator and drummer Mike Amari, with Goodwin and Amari playing much larger roles on the album, as the trio of collaborators boldly went for much more audacious sounds, more heightened moments and an emotional vulnerability — while remaining relentlessly and infectiously upbeat and positive. And in a subtle fashion, the material suggests as TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe said during last month’s Meadows Festival, “Everything turns out okay in the end. If it isn’t okay now, well clearly, it isn’t the end yet.”
Waves’ latest single “Cool Kids” while being decidedly among the album’s most shoegazer-inspired tracks manages to be simultaneously meditative and anthemic, as it possesses some enormous and rousing hooks, propulsive drumming and a shit ton of distortion with looped vocals and unsurprisingly, the song has an overwhelming positive message. As Falana explains in press notes, “The song, which I wrote last year, is about embracing yourself and letting go of judgements against others.” As she adds, “Like most of my work, it meditates on one tone, one note, attempting to create a space where people can relax, and dream.”
Interestingly, the recently released Bon Jane-produced video is a mischievous mix of 70s hair product commercials and workout video, as it features a diverse array of people blow-drying their hair in slow motion while on stationary bikes. There’s also a lot of rainbow flag waiving — and of course, Falana herself is seen sporting felt hearts, the same ones that she’s been sewing onto people’s clothing and passing out at her shows. “I’ve been sewing felt hearts onto people’s clothing and asking them to make a pledge to be more vulnerable, empathetic, and to actively take care of others in their communities,” Falana says in press notes. (Of course, the video makes me wish I still had hair; but that’s another issue.)
In terms of the video, Falana says “This is about as political as I get. This year has forced so many of us to re-proclaim the basics of human rights and decency. It’s been heartbreaking to see so many friends in my local community, who have been under attack and marginalized further, and so how could that not be on my mind when making a video for ‘Cool Kids’?
“When Bon Jane, who brilliantly shot and directed this, and I got together, we both loved the idea of presenting that dreamy, meditative state through people blow drying their hair in slow motion. This video is about re-affirming my belief in the future. During the shoot, we kept calling the group o people on bikes an ‘Army of Love,’ because that’s what we’re doing. Going to war for love.”