Tag: singles

New Audio: Allegories Releases a Left Field Banger

Allegories was a long-dormant experimental noise duo that reappeared in 2014 as an electro pop unit that experimented with genre, meshing eclectic soundscapes with pop inclinations. Gathering further, inspiration from DJ’ing house and hip-hop nights, the act began to create electronic music that often shifts between the mainstream and underground spectrum.

The duo’s latest single “Pray” is a feverish left field take on dance music, centered around `shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, euphoria-inducing hooks and pitch shifted vocals that sonically is a slick synthesis of Evil Heat era Primal Scream and Sound of Silver era LCD Soundsystem. Or in other words, it’s a bizarre yet winning mix of menace, irony and sincerity within a club banger.

“‘Pray’ feels like a tree grown out of a seed of house music, but its leaves are wild and varied,” the mysterious duo explain. “Sometimes you let gravity take over a composition; you start one way but over time music evolves naturally. At the same time, “Pray” doesn’t function in an uncomplicated fashion. It was written and recorded over many years and each new iteration added conflicting emotional layers. A menagerie of feelings. Owing as much to the overtly sincere as it does the misleading insincere. “

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.”

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spilled a copious amount of virtual ink covering the multi-Grammy Award-nominated Austin, TX-based soul act and JOVM mainstays, Black Pumas. Led by Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada and San Fernando Valley-born singer/songwriter and guitarist Eric Burton, the acclaimed act can trace their origins back to 2017.

Burton, who grew up singing in church and in musical theater, started busking at the Santa Monica pier, where he brought in a few hundred dollars and day and honing his performance skills. He then traveled through the Western states before deciding to settle down in Austin, setting up a busking spot on 6th Street and Congress, a prime location in the city’s downtown neighborhood for maximum exposure.Meanwhile, Quesada was looking to collaborate with someone new. He reached out to friends in Los Angeles and London — but nothing seemed to fit. Serendipitously, a mutual friend recommended Burton to Quesada, telling the Grammy Award-winning songwriter, guitarist and producer that Burton was the best singer he had ever heard. The two musicians connected but Burton took a while to respond. “My friends were like ‘Dude, you’re a mad man, you need to hit that guy back!’” Burton recalls. When Burton did call Quesada, he sang to him over the phone. “I loved his energy, his vibe, and I knew it would be incredible on record,” Quesada says. “From the moment I heard him on the phone, I was all about it.”

Back in 2019, the duo along with a talented cast of collaborators recorded and released their breakthrough full-length debut, which was supported with a relentless touring schedule across both North America and Europe that included three different stops in town: The Knitting Factory, in May 2019Mercury Lounge, in July 2019; and Brooklyn Bowl in September 2019. Additionally, the JOVM mainstays began to make the rounds of the nationally televised talk show circuit, playing  Jimmy Kimmel LiveThe Ellen Show and a lengthy list of others.

Last year, the acclaimed JOVM mainstays released a deluxe version of their breakthrough debut which features new artwork, previously unpublished in-studio and live performance photos, a bonus 7 inch featuring three previously unreleased originals, live, in-studio versions of “Colors,” “October 33,” and “Confines;” a live version of “Know You Better,” recorded at C-Boys Heart & Soul, the Austin club, where the band first made a name for themselves;the band’s attention-grabbing covers of The Beatles‘ “Eleanor Rigby,” Death’s “Politicians in My Eyes,” Bobby “Blue” Bland‘s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City,” and Tracy Chapman‘s “Fast Car.”

Black Pumas are currently touring Europe. And after a couple of weeks off, the JOVM mainstays will embark on a West Coast tour to end the year. 2022 sees the band playing Nashville and a couple of North American festivals. They make stops in South America before returning to the states for Boston Calling next March. Next June and July, the band returns to Europe. As always those tour dates are below — and if they’re in a town near you, I’d suggest you get a ticket and catch Black Pumas.

Initially only available as part of Spotify Holiday Singles, the Austin-based JOVM mainstays’ cover of Lou Rawls‘ “Christmas Will Really Be Christmas” is finally available everywhere for the first time.

Buried on the B-side of Rawls’ 1967 Christmas-themed album Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho!, “Christmas Will Really Be Christmas” was written by James Alexander, whose credits include Sam Cooke’s “Lost and Lookin’,” the R&B standard “I Like It Like That” recorded by everyone from Ray Charles to Van Morrison, Ben Raleigh’s “Laughing on the Outside,” “Faith Can Move Mountains,” “Tell Laura I Love Her” and “Wonderful, Wonderful,” a string of tunes for Lesley Gore, Rawls’ own “Dead End Street” and “Love Is a Hurtin’ Thing,” jazz standard “Midnight Mood” and incredibly the theme song for Scooby Doo, “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?” The original is a slow-burning, minor-key funky bit of soul with profound and much-needed message: Christmas can’t be Christmas without peace, love and happiness for all.

The Black Pumas cover speeds the tempo up a bit and features a series of subtle changes — Burton keeps to his slightly higher register, the horns are replaced with the band’s incredible backing singles, the keys are a bit punchier and placed a bit more forward in the mix. The end result is a cover that the JOVM mainstays make their own while being faithful to the original’s spirit, feel and time period. It’s a difficult balance that the band has made seemingly effortless.

“We were really attracted to the message, the lyrics, the arrangement, the feeling,” Black Pumas’ frontman Eric Burton explains. “It’s a message that needs to be heard right now. I was a little nervous about singing in Lou Rawls’ low register, so I sang it an octave higher and it was nice to arrange vocals with the ladies [backup singers Lauren Cervantes and Angela Miller] as well to put our own spin on it.”

Producer/bandleader Adrian Quesada adds, “A Christmas song isn’t exactly something that we set out to do, but this Lou Rawls song is amazing. It was produced by one of my favorite arrangers and producers, David Axelrod. On that side of it I was drawn to it initially and I confirmed with Eric. I think we were both attracted to the message too, it touches on a message that I think is poignant to today’s times, that Christmas isn’t really Christmas until everyone has peace and happiness.”

Tour Dates

11/16/21 – Lille, France @ Aérone SOLD OUT

11/17/21 – Nantes, Pays de la Loire @ Stéréolux SOLD OUT

11/18/21 – Paris, France @ L’Olympia

11/20/21 – Madrid, Spain @ La Riviera SOLD OUT

12/4/21 – Key West, FL @ Coast is Clear Music & Arts Fest

12/8/21 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater

12/9/21 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater

12/10/21 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre

12/12/21 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot

12/15/21 – San Francisco, CA @ The Masonic

12/16/21 – San Francisco, CA @ The Masonic

12/17/21 – Los Angeles, CA @ YouTube Theater

12/18/21 – Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues Las Vegas

2/4/22 – Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium SOLD OUT

2/5/22 – Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium

2/26/22 – 2/27/22 – Tempe, AZ @ Innings Festival

3/2/22 – 3/5/22 – Cancún, Mexico @ My Morning Jacket’s One Big Holiday

3/19/22 – 3/20/22 – Mexico City, CDMX @ Vive Latino

3/25/22 – 3/27/22 – São Paulo, SP @ Lollapalooza Brasil

3/25/22 – 3/27/22 – Bogotá, Colombia @ Estereo Picnic

3/27/22 – 3/29/22 – Boston, MA @ Boston Calling

6/18/22 – Oslo, Norway @ Rockefeller Music Hall

6/19/22 – Stockholm, Sweden @ Berns  

6/21/22 – Hamburg, Germany @ Fabrik

6/22/22 – Dortmund, DE @ FZW

6/29/22 – Roskilde, Denmark @ Roskilde Festival

6/30/22 – Barcelona, Spain @ Vida Festival

7/8/22 – 7/10/22 – Trenčín, Slovakia @ Pohoda Festival

7/8/22 – Madrid, Spain @ Mad Cool Festival

Rising Toronto-based singer/songwriter Oliver James Brooks can trace the origins of his music career to fiddling with his father’s old acoustic guitar while growing up in a small Ontario town. About five years ago, Brooks began turning those early fiddlings into fleshed out songs. And since then, the Canadian singer/songwriter and musician has begun to build a national profile: He has received airplay on CBC and has been compared to Kurt Vile and Elliott Smith by Divide & Conquer and Gordon Lightfoot by XS Noize. He has also played at IndieWeek back in 2019.

Brooks’ recently released third album Storm Chasing was recored on an old Tascam 388 8-track tape machine, at Gavin Gardiner’s All Day Coconut Studios with the exception of some overdubs here and there. Written over the course of the past five years, some of Storm Chasing‘s material was written while Brooks lived in Brooklyn. The album thematically and lyrically touches on childhood memories, sadness, love and optimism among others.

In the lead up to the album’s release last week, three of its singles were released to critical applause from Americana UK, Indie88 and The Young Folks. The album’s fourth and latest single, the breakneck shuffle “Ya Ya No” is centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a steady backbeat, Brooks easy-going vocals and an infectious hook within a song that sonically brings Tom Petty and JOVM mainstay Steve Wynn to mind.

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 critical praise for a sound that has frequently drawn comparisons to PJ HarveyShana FalanaChelsea WolfeSt. Vincent and others. 

If you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you may recall that Carbone and her band were scheduled to go into the studio last May to record what would be he highly-anticipated third album. But unfortunately, as a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, Carbone’s plans were indefinitely shelved, much like countless other artists and bands across the world at the time.

While she was touring across the European Union to support her first two albums, Carbone and her band appeared on the beloved German live concert series Rockpalast. For Carbone, who grew up in a small, southwestern German town watching Rockpaalst, appearing on the show was the achievement of a lifelong dream: A who’s who list of artists and bands have appeared on the show including Siouxsie and The BansheesRadiohead, Sonic YouthPatti SmithSinead O’ConnorDavid BowieR.E.M., Echo and the BunnymenScreaming TreesLynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Charles Bradley and a very lengthy list of others. 

Inspired by the lockdowns, Carbone and her band came up with an idea: “What if Rockpalast would let us release that show as a live album?” Taken from her October 2019 Rockpalast set at Harmonie Bonn, the Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast is a career-spanning set featuring material from her first two albums.

I had written about three of the live singles:

  • Who’s Gonna Save You,” which found Carbone and her band deftly balancing menace and sultriness, while introducing a rock goddess, you need to know — right now.
  • Cellophane Skin” which found 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 ourselves.
  • “Nightride,” 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.

Each video from the live session continued Carbone’s ongoing visual collaboration wit Olya Dyer — but the visual for “Nightride” also featured  The Underground Youth‘s Carig Dyer as a dark and handsome stranger, who picks up Carbone.

Carbone and The Underground Youth have collaborated on the recently released In Dreams EP, an effort that sees them tackling four Roy Orbison songs, which chart the age-old and universal narrative of falling in and out o love, and the deep yearning for romance and connection we all feel — even if we don’t want to always admit it. (As a personal note, I fucking love Roy Orbison.)

The In Dreams EP shines with its bittersweet blend of a reserved musical background that leaves space for Craig’s earthy voice and Laura’s soaring, ethereal vocals to connect, embrace and unravel again. Centered around sparse and atmospheric arrangements, the EP’s material is roomy enough for Craig Dyer’s earthy baritone and Carbone’s yearning and ethereal vocals to seemingly connect, embrace and unravel throughout.

In Dreams‘ latest single “Crying” finds Dyer and Carbone slowing the tempo down and stripping the song down to its barest elements — shimmering guitar. Dyer’s baritone and Carbone’s achingly tender vocals. Turning the song into a duet, subtly changes the song into a conversation between a couple, who both realize — with some aching bitterness — that their relationship has come to an end, and that there’s nothing much they could do to resolve it. At some point, all of us have been there, and the song’s universality and familiarity is what makes it powerfully transcendent.

Toronto-based indie outfit Dilettante can trace their origins back to 2016. During the spring, mutual dog lovers Natalie Panacci and Julia Wittman started a band so their dogs could hang out more. Along with The Black Cats’ Zachary Stuckey; Said the Whale’s, Iskwe’s, The Recklaws’ and Scott Helman’s Bradley Connor; and Candice Ng, they formed as For Jane, a “dog’ rock pop band with a Kate Bush meets Sinead O’Connor sensibility that prominently featured Panacci’s and Wittman’s contrasting vocals and mesmerizing harmonies.

As For Jane, the Canadian indie act released their debut EP, 2018’s Married with Dogs, which featured “Car,” a track featured on CBC Music and The Edge. Earlier this year, the act announced a change in name, seemingly influenced by a massive lineup change that has left Panacci and Wittman as its creative core, as well as a decided shift in sonic direction.

The Toronto-based act’s self-titled, full-length debut is slated for a Spring 2022 release — but they’ve also recently released the album’s first single, “Bonnie,” an 80s New Wave inspired, synth pop confection featuring glistening synth arpeggios, wiry post-punk guitars fed through a bit of reverb, an angular bass line and the duo’s achingly plaintive and mesmerizing vocals. The end result is a song that to my ears reminds me a bit of Til Tuesday‘s “Voices Carry” but with a sultry, coquettish air.

Post punk outfit Sei Still — Sebastián Rojas (organ, synths), Mateo Sánchez Galán (guitar), Jerónimo Martín (drums, percussion) and Lucas Martín (vocals, guitar) — can trace its origins to when the members of the band decided to take a random trip to some desolate woodlands outside of Mexico City to work on a couple of songs. Those sessions were so productive that it led to the quartet starting the band in earnest. 

With just a couple of singles under their collective belts — 2017’s “Oto” and 2019’s “Tacticas de Guerrilla Urbana” — the band quickly earned a rapidly growing profile in their native Mexico, sharing stages with StereolabKikagaku MoyoInstitute, and Lorelle Meets The Obsolete. As a result of the growing buzz surrounding them, the Mexican post-punk outfit signed to London-based label Fuzz Club Records, who released their self-titled full-length debut last year. The album quickly solidified a new European fanbase for the Mexican post punk outfit, while selling out its initial vinyl pressing. 

The band’s highly-anticipated sophomore album El Refugio is slated for a November 26, 2021 release through Fuzz Club Records, and the album marks a number of major changes for the Mexican post-punk quartet: The band relocated to Berlin, where they wrote and recorded El Refugio. And sonically, the album represents an evolution in the now-Berlin-based band’s sound. Whereas their self-titled debut was heavily indebted to the Krautrock sounds of Can and Neu!El Refugio reportedly sees the band eschewing the expansive and hypnotic tendencies of their previously released work for a wiry, post-punk inspired sound, that’s still centered around a motorik pulse. Additionally, the songs are shorter and unapologetically to the point, while bristling with tension and anguish.

“The biggest influence on this record was the fact that our personal lives had a radical change and we felt the need to do something different, to dig deeper into the possibilities of what the band was about,” the members of Sei Still explain. “We never wanted to make the same record twice.” Understandably, the move from Mexico to Germany would normally be a massive upheaval culturally, emotionally and personally — but the band managed to move a few weeks before COVID-19 struck across the world and forced shutdowns and lockdowns. And as a result, the material possesses a visceral unease,

More expressionist than psychedelic, the and explains that El Refugio thematically  “alludes to childhood, dreams, desire, loneliness, paranoia and hope. A longing for a different reality that breaks the monotony of daily life. It’s more about sensations than something you can describe in words. I think what makes music great is that it has to be experienced so we try to part from a specific mood or emotion, which is something very abstract that people can interpret in their own way.”

Last month, I wrote about “Extraradio,”a brooding,  Joy Division-like take on post-punk centered around Lucas Martín’s dry sprechgesang delivery in Spanish, an angular bass line, bursts of wiry, delay pedaled guitar and an insistent motorik pulse. The song to me managed to evoke the profound loneliness of being an Other in a foreign land and surrounded by a culture and language you can’t speak or understand.

El Refugio‘s latest single “Exilo” is a taut and brooding bit of post-punk centered around a relentless motorik pulse, wiry bursts of guitar, glistening synths, mathematically precise electronic drum paired with forceful kick drum paired with Martín’s dry vocal delivery. Reportedly indebted to Spanish New Wave, “Exilo” personally reminds me of endlessly gray, German skies, damp rainy nights in Frankfurt’s Romer and Haupwatche sections with the seemingly permanent costume of foreigner, of man from far away.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Palm Ghosts Releases a Brooding yet Dance Floor Friendly Bop

Led by singer/songwriter, producer and Ice Queen Records founder Joseph Lekkas, the Nashville-based indie rock act Palm Ghosts can trace its origins to when Lekkas resided in Philadelphia. After spending a number of years playing in local bands like Grammar Debate! and Hilliard, Lekkas took a lengthy hiatus from writing, recording and performing music to book shows and festivals in and around the Philadelphia area. Lekkas initially started Palm Ghosts as a solo recording project — and as a creative outlet to cope with an incapacitating bout of depression and anxiety. 

During a long prototypically Northeastern winter, he recorded a batch of introspective songs that at the time, he dubbed “sun-damaged American music” that would eventually become the project’s full-length debut. After a short tour in 2013 to support the album, Lekkas packed up his belongings and relocated to Nashville, enticed by the city’s growing indie rock scene. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past handful of years, you may recall that Palm Ghosts’ third album, 2018’s Architecture was a change in sonic direction for the project with Lekkas writing material influenced by the sounds of the 80s — in particular, Cocteau TwinsPeter GabrielDead Can DanceNew Order,  The Cure, and others. 

Much like countless other acts across the world, Lekkas and his bandmates spent much of forced downtime of the pandemic, being as busy as humanly possible: The members of the JOVM mainstay act wrote a ton of new material. The past year or so of isolation of lockdowns and quarantines, socioeconomic and financial uncertainty and protests and demonstrations helped to fuel an immediacy to the material the band had been busily writing. 

Earlier this year, the Nashville-based outfit released their fourth album Lifeboat Candidate, a fittingly dark, dystopian effort full of confusion, fear and dread, informed by the events and circumstances of last year. And while the world feels little changed since last year, the JOVM mainstay’s fifth album Lost Frequency is a much different album. Initially scheduled for release last year, Lifeboat Candidate harkens to the before, when things seemed normal — or at least less uneasy, less desperate. After a difficult 18 months of pandemic, 700,000+ deaths in the US alone, financial despair, political uncertainty and more, having some respite, some sort of escape is what most of u s feel what we urgently need. And in a very loose sense, Lost Frequency feels almost celebratory — and perhaps a bit more nostalgic, than its immediate predecessor. But the material lyrically brings confrontation to the forefront, reminding the listener that at this juncture, nothing is normal, that normalcy and the desire to return to it is destructive.

Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “Bloodlight,” a hook-driven synth pop number centered around tweeter and woofer thumping beats, shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths and a hypnotic motorik groove that sonically seems indebted to the likes of Peter Gabriel and Depeche Mode — while being a seething indictment on humanity and its treatment of Mother Earth. Album single “The Painful Truth” is another dance floor friendly single.

Featuring a throbbing and arpeggiated bass synth, shimmering melodic synths and a motorik groove paired with Lekkas’ unusually icy delivery, “The Painful Truth” brings A Flock of Seagulls to mind. But despite its upbeat sound, the song lyrically and thematically is much darker, much more bleak.

“‘The Painful Truth’ is an 80s inspired dance track with a thrumming, arpeggiated bass line and a simple, bright lead line. In contrast to its sound, the song’s lyrical content lives in a much darker and less optimistic place,” Palm Ghosts Joseph Lekkas explains. “Focusing on the flooding, wildfires and intolerable heat indexes we’ve grown accustomed to, ‘The Painful Truth is a mirror into a bleak future.”

Moscow-based instrumental funk outfit The Diasonics — Anton Moskvin (drums), Maxim Brusov (bass guitar), Anton Katyrin (percussions), Daniil Lutsenko (guitar) and Kamil Gzizov (keys) — formed back in 2019 and in a relatively short period of time, the Russian quintet quickly amassed a cult following, honing what they’ve dubbed “hussar funk,” a blend of hip-hop rhythms, 60s and 70s psychedelia, Eastern European flavor within cinematic arrangements.

Since their formation, The Diasonics have released ten highly celebrated singles and various in-demand 45 vinyl records through funk labels like Funk Night Records and Mocambo Records. The Russian funk outfit’s highly-anticipated full-length debut, Origins of Forms is slated for a January 28, 2022 release through Italian funk and soul purveyors Record Kicks. Recorded on an Otari MX-5050 MK III at Moscow’s Magnetone Studio and mixed by The Cactus Channel‘s and Karate Boogaloo‘s Henry Jenkins in Melbourne, the album’s overall aesthetic is firmly rooted in the early 60s and 70s.

“Gurami,” Origins of Forms‘ first single is a slow-burning and soulful strut, centered around shimmering wah wah pedaled guitar that sounds inspired by Turkish psychedelia, boom bap breakbeats, soaring keys, and at trippy groove rooted in a sinuous bass line. While we all know the composition was written and recorded by a contemporary act, “Gurami” sounds as though it could have been part of the soundtrack of a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western or an deep instrumental soul obscurity sampled by the RZA and then later played by El Michels Affair.


 

There are few artists I’ve written about as much as the ridiculously prolific, New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and longtime JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. During this site’s 11+ year history, Rhythm Scholar has firmly cemented a reputation for crafting slickly produced, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, hip-hop, New Wave and others.

Rhythm Scholar’s remix sees him tackling Slick Rick‘s beloved 80s classic “Children’s Story.” The remix pairs Slick Rick’s cautionary tale of a young boy, who gets seduced into the street life and its inevitable and tragic ending with seemingly Issac Hayes-inspired production featuring twinkling Rhodes, dramatic strings, a psychedelic guitar solo and playful nods at Rob Base and DJ Easy Rock’s “It Takes Two,” LL Cool J and several others. The end result is a gritty, 70s true crime story air — as though Slick Rick had spent his time watching The French Connection, Serpico and others.