If you had been following JOVM over the course of 2015, you might recall coming across a couple of posts on the Athens, GA-based quartet Pinecones. And although at the time, they were a relatively […]
Over the last few years, Daptone Records has released a series of albums documenting the gospel and church-based music from the Mississippi River Delta region — in particular Como, Mississippi. The third album in the series, Panola County Spirit is the debut effort from The Walker Family Singers, who were originally discovered and featured on the Daptone Records compilation, The Voices of Panola County: Como Now.
Comprised of Raymond and Joella Walker, three of their four daughters, Alberta, Patricia and Delouse, and their two songs Robert and Bobby, the gospel quintet is well known throughout their hometown: the Walkers have a long history of preaching the gospel as the Walker men have been preachers for many generations and the entire family continues a long and proud musical tradition that goes back quite some time. In fact, this should tell you well regarded the Walkers are in Mississippi Delta region — back in the day, Raymond Walker was once recruited by Fred McDowell and the legendary Sam Cooke to back them on tour for what would have been a rather significant amount of money. And as the story goes, the Walker patriarch refused unless McDowell and Cooke did gospel instead of the blues. McDowell vehemently refused and the rest is pretty much history.
Although the deeply religious would consider the blues as the devil’s music, it shouldn’t be terribly surprising that the gospel and the blues from the region share so much deeply in common sonically, spiritually and aesthetically, and when you hear “Jesus Gave Me Water,” the first single off the album slated for a March 18 release, you’ll immediately feel as though you were taken back in time; perhaps to the days of Alan Lomax running around making field recordings of the blues musicians and gospel singers, who would become some of the towering and most influential names of contemporary music — in particular, think of Robert Johnson (who was murdered three weeks before Lomax arrived to record him), Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and countless others. Much like those classic and dusty recordings, the song possesses deceptive simplicity — led by Raymond Walker, the song features the vocalists singing acapella in a gorgeous and layered call and response harmony in a song that describes finding Jesus in a profound yet very simple fashion.
Comprised of founding member Hugh Matthews (guitar and vocals), Drew Schapper (drums and Johnny Moretti (guitar) Melbourne, Australia-based shoegaze trio Pretty City can trace their origins to when Matthew sent demos to Schapper and Moretti, who all knew each other from Melbourne’s music scene. And as the story goes, after two rehearsals the newly formed trio began playing shows around Australia and receiving attention for a sound that’s indebted to The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and The Smashing Pumpkins; in fact, their Heights EP was released in 2013 to critical praise from several national outlets including The Music.
Building upon the success of Heights, the band recently finished a tour of Australia’s East Coast to support the release of their critically applauded single “Mary Go Round” and to build buzz for the forthcoming release of their full-length debut effort, Colorize. The album’s latest single “Running Around” is an enormous, arena-friendly song with equally enormous and anthemic hooks paired with dense, fuzzy, feedback slathered power chords, thundering drumming and earnestly sung vocals in a song that channels classic Brit Pop and shoegaze — but with a modern sheen and earnestness that ensures that their sound and aesthetic isn’t derivative.
Mikey Wax is a New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose profile has exploded nationally and internationally as a number of his singles and albums have achieved commercial success and placement in a number of major TV series. After “In Case I Go Again,” off his debut effort Change Again won South Florida-based WRMF 97.9 FM‘s Unsigned Artist contest, the song was featured on CBS‘s Ghost Whisperer, NBC‘s 2012 Summer Olympics coverage and ABC Family‘s Pretty Little Liars — and the music video was featured as part of YouTube‘s Music Tuesday spotlight, which garnered over 500,000 views. Wax’s 2011 self-released sophomore effort Constant Motion landed at number 6 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Chart, number 47 on Billboard Heatseekers Chart, with album single “Counting On You” receiving major radio airplay on major Adult Top 40 stations across the country.
As as a result of his rapid success, Wax was selected by New Music SeminarNew as one of their “Artists on the Verge” and was featured by iHeartRadio as an “Artist To Watch” in 2012 — and “Counting On You” was featured during the elimination montage on every episode of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance that season. Additionally, the song was featured in the trailer for the major motion picture Playing for Keeps which lead to coverage from USA Today and Young Hollywood. “For Better Or Worse” was featured on Lifetime‘s Dance Moms while “So Crazy” appeared in a promo teaser for Brazilian TV network GNT, which led to the song charting on the Top 100 iTunes Pop Chart Brazil and a sub-publishing deal with Warner/Chappell South America.
The New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s self-titled, third full length effort was released in 2014 and featured “You Lift Me Up,” which debuted on iTunes US Top 200 Pop Charts and has since been placed on MTV‘s The Real World and The Challenge: The Battle of the Exes II, the season 10 promo for E! Entertainment‘s Keeping Up With The Kardashians and all Fox Sports NBA games throughout the second half of the 2015 season. Building on the success he’s received to date, Wax’s “Love Always Wins (#LoveWins)” was also featured on the promo for E! Entertainment’s I Am Cait and on the SoundHound app homepage.
I have to add that the New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has toured with the likes of Parachute, Andy Grammer, Jon McLaughlin, Matt Wertz, Rachel Platten, Howie Day, Tyler Ward, Ryan Cabrera, Tyler Hilton, Tony Lucca and others.
“Bottle of Jack,” Wax’s most recent single pairs Wax’s soulful vocals with a neo-soul-like arrangement of shimmering keyboard chords, loose and funky guitar chords, propulsive drumming, soaring synths and a sinuous bass line to craft an radio-friendly pop confection that has its narrator describing the sensation of being in love to drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels. And at points, it certainly can feel that way! In any case, Achtabahn released a house music remix of “Bottle of Jack” that pairs Wax’s effortlessly soulful vocals with a warm, Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk production consisting of a sinuous bass line, warm blasts of Nile Rodgers-like guitar shimmering neo-soul like keys, handclap-led percussion, swirling electronics, bleeps and bloops and wobbling, tweeter and woofer wobbling drops that makes the song dance floor friendly while retaining the radio-friendly pop confection spirit of the original.
With the release of “The Motions” featuring Chris Rivers, “The Road” produced by Sicknature of Snowgoons, Boston-based artist Rite Hook has received attention and praise as an emcee and as a vocalist. Building up on the buzz, he’s received Rite Hook has released a moody and spectral cover of Stone Temple Pilots‘ classic “Creep,” which has the Boston-based emcee and vocalist channeling Scott Weiland with an uncanny accuracy — as though he were possessed by the late vocalist’s spirit during the recording of the song.
Pairing The Arcitype’s production consisting of ominous atmospherics, layers of bluesy and buzzing guitars and propulsive drum programming with Rite Hook’s vocals, their rendition is a modern, Portishead-inspired cover that replaces the acoustic guitars of the original’s verses and electric guitars of the song’s chorus and hook while retaining the melancholy introspection of the original. Unfortunately, “Creep” will not appear on Rite Hook’s forthcoming full-length Modify — but from what I understand there are plans to official release it sometime this year.
Holy Monitor is an an Athens, Greece-based music collective, who over the course of two self-released digital EPs Aeolus and Golden Light have developed a reputation for blending space rock, shoegaze and ambient music with music that explores ancient Greek mythology and the macro structure of the universe. And as you’ll hear on “Bend The Trees” off Aeolus, their sound might remind some listeners of RIDE, Spaceman 3, TOY, and others — as undulating and ambient synths are paired with a tight motorik groove, rolling bass lines, buzzing guitars and cooed vocals that float over an equally trippy and ethereal mix.
Comprised of siblings Kyle Davis (drums) and Tyler Davis (guitar, vocals), who were actually share the same birthday, two years apart, along with Jota Ese (bass) and Ric Alessio (organ and vocals), Nashville, TN-based quartet Chrome Pony have developed a growing profile for a fuzzy and heavily indebted 60s psych and garage rock sound. And with the release of Illegal Smiles, You Are the Pisces, Lazy Bones and their latest effort Past Lives, the Nashville-based quartet have added themselves to a growing list of artists that includes contemporary artists like Cool Ghouls, Raccoon Fighter, The Black Angels, Elephant Stone, Sleepy Sun and others.
Past Lives’ latest single “Ragged Child” has the quartet pairing twisting and tumbling organ chords, a rolling bass line and shimmering and chiming guitar chords with propulsive drumming, a trippy guitar solo and anthemic hooks, and the result is a shuffling and shambling, seemingly jam-based song that subtly meshes elements of grunge rock with 60s psych rock.
Chrome Pony is currently on tour with Cage the Elephant across both the European Union and the UK, and when the quartet returns to the States in March, they’ll be playing a series of US dates including stops at Savannah Stopover Festival and the Sweetwater 420 Festival. Check out tour dates here: http://www.bandsintown.com/ChromePony?came_from=198&mc_cid=528c75bfcc&mc_eid=c74f701724
Denver-based post-metal, instrumental trio Cult of the Lost Cause have developed a reputation for compositions that eschew solos and jam-based songs and focuses on dynamic songs that balance a sense of beauty with a muscular insistence — and for songs that can stand up to the live concert experience as you’ll hear on the enormous, cinematic, power-chord driven “All Those Opposed” off the band’s soon to be released Contritions, which is slated for a February 26 release through Sailor Records. Sonically, the song manages to remind me quite a bit of Irata‘s self titled effort; however, without the psychedelic jazz leanings.
Over the last half of 2015 and the beginning of this year, you’d likely come across one of JOVM most recent mainstay artist, Raleigh, NC-based funk and soul artist Jamil Rashad and his solo recording project Boulevards. Describing his sound as “party funk jams for the heart and soul to make you move,” Rashad’s work caught my attention as it draws from the classic funk sounds of Earth, Wind and Fire, Prince, Rick James, Chic, the production work of Quincy Jones – most notably Off the Wall and Thriller-era Michael Jackson, as well as Talking Heads, Grace Jones, and Cameo among others. Unsurprisingly, those acts were the sounds that he listened to as a child — although his teenage interest in punk, hardcore and metal also influenced his own songwriting and production work. And with the release of his Boulevards EP, Rashad quickly put himself on the map as part of a growing neo-disco/neo-funk movement that includes several other JOVM mainstays including Dam-Funk, Escort, Rene Lopez, and several others.
April 1 will mark the highly-anticipated release of Rashad’s Boulevards full-length debut, the aptly titled Groove! Now you may recall that last month, I wrote about Groove!‘s first single “Cold Call,” an 80s synth R&B and pop-inspired single comprised of layers of wobbling and shimmering synth stabs paired with a sinuous bass line, Rashad’s seductive cooing, warm blasts of horn and an anthemic hook in a slow-burning jam that channels Cameo’s “Word Up!” and “Candy,” Oran “Juice” Jones‘ “The Rain” Adding to the period specific feel, are the brief interludes with Rashad seemingly flirting and coming on to the listener. The album’s second and latest single “Up On On Your Love” continues Rashad’s burgeoning reputation for dance party worthy, sensual funk as it pairs shimmering synths, propulsive drumming, shimmering Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar chords, handclaps around the infectious hook and Rashad’s sexy come ons — and although the song sonically manages to resemble The Jacksons “Can You Feel It?,” it may arguably be the sexiest single on the album to date. Like the rest of Rashad’s work it’s sexy yet incredibly danceable, especially around the percussive “Burn This Disco Out” like bridge.
John Carpenter is a director, screenwriter, producer, editor and composer most commonly known for working in some of the most beloved and influential, horror and science fiction films of the 70s and 80s, including Dark Star (1974), Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), Halloween (1978),The Fog (1980), Escape from New York (1981)The Thing (1982), Christine (1983), Starman (1984), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Prince of Darkness (1987), and They Live (1988) — with the Halloween theme being one of the most recognizable themes in movie history.
Last year, Carpenter released his first album of non-soundtrack based music, Lost Themes to critical praise from an impressive array of major media outlets including The Guardian, The New York Times, The Times, Uncut, The Wire, The Los Angeles Times, NPR, Pitchfork, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, Artforum, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone and others. Additionally, the album was one of the most commercially successful albums released in Sacred Bones Records history, as the album debuted on the Top 100 Charts in both the UK and US.
Unsurprisingly, the album, which was recorded with his son Cody Carpenter and the fameddirector, producer and composer’s godson Daniel Davies, the album confirms the fact that John Carpenter’s sound and aesthetic was not only ahead of its time but manages to be timeless and powerfully influential — with the work of artists like Red Traces, Umberto and others being deeply indebted to John Carpenter and his film scores. Now interestingly enough Carpenter closed out the last half of 2015 with the release of Lost Themes Remixed, an album that featured remixes from the likes of Zola Jesus, Silent Servant, Foetus‘ JG Thirwell, Skinny Puppy‘s ohGr, PAN Records‘ Bill Kouligas, and Uniform.
The incredibly prolific Carpenter will be releasing a sequel to Lost Themes, Lost Themes II which is slated for an April 15 release through Sacred Bones Records. The material on Lost Themes II is inspired by a change in the creative process with Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies and the acclaimed producer writing, working revising and recording in the same studio — and with all three collaborators working together, the result was a more focused effort, completed on a compressed schedule, in a similar fashion to Carpenter’s early films. Additionally, the material is much more nuanced and lush, as the trio of collaborators added acoustic and electric guitar to flesh out the material, as well as add texture.
Lost Themes II‘s first single “Distant Dream” pairs John Carpenter’s unmistakable minimalist synths with live drums, bursts of angular guitar and bass chords, and swirling electronics in a moody and tense composition that sounds as though it could be part of a taut, psychological thriller set in a dystopian future.