JOVM celebrates Siouxsie Sioux’s 64th birthday.
Detroit scene vet Zach Pliska, has played drums in a number of local bands, which has given him valuable experience writing, recording and touring. Pliska founded his latest project VAZUM back in 2017, and over the course of six self-released albums that have found the band’s sound bouncing around and spanning across several different genres including post-punk and doom.
During most of the band’s history, the band has gone through a series of lineup changes but Pliska found a deep connection with Emily Sturm (vocals, bass), who joined the band in 2019. With a background in the visual arts, Sturm has helped give the band a new, uncompromising aesthetic edge, which has resulted in what Pliska and Strum have described as deathgaze, which combines the raw energy of deathrock with the sonic depth of shoegaze.
The duo’s seventh album V+ is slated for release this summer. The album’s latest single “Haunted House” is centered around cavernous drumming, wailing guitars played through reverb, delay and effect pedals, Sturm’s plaintive vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook; the end result is a song that — to my ears — sounds like a synthesis of Sioxuise and the Banshees, Sisters of Mercy and The Verve. Interestingly, the song is based on a real, life-changing experience that the band’s Emily Sturm had one winter night: She was awakened by a shrill, inhuman sound emanating from the distance. Startled, she went outside to investigate the sound, but it was silent. The following afternoon, Sturm’s neighbor’s porch was taped off as a crime scene: the woman and infant, who had lived next door were brutally murdered. Understandably, Sturm has been haunted by the event ever since, wondering if she could have done something to prevent the murderers. As the band notes, in Irish folklore, a banshee warns of dangers by wailing or shrieking. So naturally, Strum has wondered if those sounds were that of a banshee. But overall, the song is about domestic violence and the awful aftermath left in the wake.
The recently released video for “Haunted House” employs Edgar Allan Poe horror tropes: the beautiful yet very dead bride, who dances seductively and haunts an old-fashioned candlelit mansion.
Deriving their name from a nickname that was given to its frontwoman while she was in college, and now seen as the band’s motto representing their approach to life and music, the emerging Los Angeles-based indie rock act Mihi Nihil (pronounced Mee-Kee, Nee-Keel) — Mihi Vox (vocals), Benjamin Montoya (guitar), Nick Sternberg (bass) and Adam Alt (drums) — currently feature a former New York-based opera singer and three self-taught rock musicians. Interestingly, the band can trace their origins to a free-flowing batch of sessions that the longtime friends jokingly called “Whiskey Rehearsals,” which helped to quickly establish a sound that draws from an electric array of influences including early Radiohead, The Clash, Ennio Morricone, Sixousie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Neil Young and Pixies.
Eventually, those “Whiskey Rehearsals” between the four friends led to the material which would eventually comprise their Adam Lasus-produced full-length nine-song, self-titled debut album. Recorded and written by the band in one room, the album’s material captures their simpatico and collaborative working relationship.
In the lead-up to the album’s release, the band released four singles over the past few months: two of the singles have appeared in two major motion pictures, with all four appearing in a handful of media outlets across 15 countries, as well as on 45 playlists. Their self-titled album’s fifth and latest single “Gold” is a slow-burning desert rock-like dirge centered around Mihi Vox’s expressive vocals, rumbling bass lines and gently swirling guitars that slowly builds up until a rumbling roar with soaring hooks. And while possessing a patient, almost painterly quality, “Gold” evokes sand-swept blacktop that reminds me The Fire Tapes‘ Phantoms, PJ Harvey and Chelsea Wolfe among others.
Veteran indie producer Adam Lasus (Yo La Tengo, Helium, Madder Rose) captured the band’s live energy to tape, revealing an album imbued with a timeless, lush and layered sound that’s meant to be savored and slowly ingested. Like colorful rock formations, the music encompasses a myriad of subtle tints and bold textures. Recorded without a click track, MIHI NIHIL naturally expands and contracts, pushes and pulls, moving with ease. Whether it’s the cinematic echo of Ennio Morricone in “Verberation” or the ominous yearning for connection in the more soporific electro “Space Invader,” MIHI NIHIL shifts tonal presentations effortlessly with maximum emotional thrust.
Lauren Lakis is a Baltimore-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician, who specializes in a brooding and churning take on shoegaze paired with authentic and honest lyricism. So far her work has been praised by Earmilk, who said that her material are “a refreshing change from today’s polite rock . . .”
The Baltimore-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician and her backing band have toured the West Coast extensively, playing bills with Drowse, Coastland, Elizabeth Colour Wheel’s Emmet Palaima, Flor and Winnetka Bowling League. Lakis and her band have played in front of a sold-out Doug Fir Lounge and at Santa Cruz’s The Catalyst. Adding to a growing profile, Lakis has played two solo sets opening for Grammy Award-nominated rocker Tracy Bonham.
Much like countless other acts, Lakis and her backing band had plans for a momentum changing 2020: they were scheduled to play at this year’s cancelled SXSW and they had hopes of setting up further tour dates. However, they’ve remained busy, releasing new material, including their latest single “Sail Away.” Centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, dramatic drumming, a sinuous bass line, darkly Romantic vibes and Lakis’ plaintive yet ethereal vocals,” Sail Away” is a brooding track that reminds me — to my ears at least — of PJ Harvey, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Chelsea Wolfe.
Interestingly, the song is an uneasy and brooding examination of Lakis’ own dysfunctional and painful childhood and a desire to reconnect to a lost yet much-needed innocence. “Thematically, ‘Sail Away’ explores the idea of running away with my inner child, protecting and parenting her,” Lakis explains in press notes. “It’s me becoming my own mother, which was something I had to do at a young age.
“As the daughter of my mother, I had to learn how to take care of myself and grow up quickly. She struggled with addiction until I was almost 10 years old; I don’t have many memories of my childhood before that age. I’ve spent some years in Alanon, connecting to my inner child and learning how to ‘re-parent’ her as a way of healing those wounds,” Lakis continues. “The inner child is the part of us that is innocent, vulnerable, playful, full of wonder, freely trusting and loving. It hasn’t always been easy to connect with that side of myself.
“I didn’t feel like I had a voice as a kid, and I had no control over what was happening around me. In spite of, or perhaps because of this, I grew into an extremely strong, resilient, capable adult. This song explores my longing for having had an adult like me around, when I was a child…as well as the anger I’ve carried with me for having missed out. I’ve had to accept that no one can go back in time and fix that for me.”
The recently released video is a cinematic and equally brooding visual with a fever dream-like quality that finds Lakis is a lace full-body suit.
With the release of her first two albums — 2016’s Sirens and 2018’s Empty Sea — the rising 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. Additionally,. Carbone published a limited-edition book of photography, also named The Empty Sea.
Carbone and her backing band have opened for The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, developing a reputation for a self-assured and explosive live show, which she further cemented with a headlining tour across Europe last year. The Berlin-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and photographer then followed that up with a stop at SXSW Levitation Festival/Creem Magazine Showcase and a headlining North American tour with The Natvral that included a stop at Baby’s All Right.
Carbone and her backing band were slated to go into the studio in May to record her highly-anticipated third album — but as a result of pandemic-related restrictions, the rising Berlin-based artist’s plans were placed in an indefinite hiatus, much like countless other artists across the globe. Last year, the rising Berlin-based singer/songwriter and guitarist and her backing band performed on the famed German, live concert series Rockpalast — and for Carbone, who grew up in a small town in Southwestern Germany watching the show, appearing on the show was the accomplishment of a lifelong dream: Rockpalast has recorded and broadcasted a who’s who list of influential and important artists, playing some of their most memorable performances, 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 an amazing and very lengthy list of others.
As a result of pandemic-related shutdowns, an idea emerged with Carbone and her band: “What if Rockpalast would let us release that show as a live album?” Released yesterday, Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast is just that. Taken from her Rockpalast set at Harmonie Bonn last October, the live album features a career-spanning set, centered around her first two albums, and an unexpected cover, Hewing as closely as possible to their live sound, the album was mixed 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.
Last month, I wrote about the live album’s first single, “Who’s Gonna Save You.” The live rendition accurately captures Carbone and her band’s forceful live sound and Carbone’s irresistible stage presence, While the song itself finds the band balancing menace, power and sultriness, it should also serve as an introduction to an artist, who in my book is adding her name to a list of powerful rock goddesses.
To celebrate the release of the album, Carbone released the live album’s second single, “Cellophane Skin.” Performed as the first song of their encore, the live rendition finds the band taking the tension of the original and informing it with a feral and ferocious power, informed by dozens of shows across Europe and North America — and by the occasion. And as a result, the song finds its narrator — and perhaps the artist herself — turning into a seductive and vengeful force of nature, much like the sirens of the ancient myths. At its down core, the song finds its narrator forcefully tearing down the bonds of poisonous social norms that have imprisoned her while demanding that we — particularly men — examine ourselves. Of course, much like its immediate predecessor, the song captures a woman with mighty and fearsome roar.
Directed by Olga Dyer, the recently released video for “Cellophane Skin” is split between gorgeous and seductive footage of Carbone in a black gown being touched by a series of seemingly disembodied hands and black and white footage captured on stage.
“The feminine point of view has always been much more difficult to articulate,” Olga Dyer says in press notes. “And once articulated, alas, quite often it becomes a point of vulnerability, seen through the prism of sexual objectification, helpless stereotypes and indecency. It’s literally stripped of its actual meaning or even possible interpretations. To me, this is what ‘Cellophane Skin’ is about. People jump to conclusions, so quick to assume that they can see through someone. Personally it doesn’t offend me, I only find it banal and boring. I love creating beautiful and dark sequences, inspired by noir surrealism.”
With the release of her first two albums — 2016’s Sirens and 2018’s Empty Sea — the rising 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. Carbone also published and released a limited-edition book of photography, also named The Empty Sea.
Carbone and her backing band were slated to go into the studio in May to record her highly-anticipated third album — but as a result of pandemic-related restrictions, the rising Berlin-based artist’s plans were placed in an indefinite hiatus, much like countless other artists across the globe. Last year, Carbone and her backing band performed on the famed German live concert series Rockpalast — and for the Berlin-based artist, who grew up in a small town in Southwestern Germany, appearing on the show was the accomplishment of a lifelong dream: Rockpalast has recorded and broadcasted a who’s who list of influential and important artists, playing some of their most memorable performances, including Siouxsie and The Banshees, Radiohead, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith, Sinead O’Connor, David Bowie, R.E.M., Echo and the Bunnymen, Screaming Trees, Lynard Skynard, Bob Marley and the Wailers and an amazing and very lengthy list of others. And as a music mad teenager, Carbone often spent late Saturday nights watching the show, watching many of those artists play on national TV.
Interestingly, as a result of those pandemic-related shutdowns, an idea emerged with Carbone and her backing band: “What if Rockpalast would let us release that show as a live album?” Slated for a December 4, 2020 release, Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast is just that. Taken from her Rockpalast appearance, recorded at Harmonie Bonn last October, the live album features a career-spanning set featuring material off her first two albums with an unexpected cover. Hewing as closely as possible to their live sound, the album was mixed 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.
Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast’s first single “Who’s Gonna Save You” accurately captures the band’s dynamic live sound and Carbone’s sultry, self-assured presence — and in my book, the live rendition reveals that the Berlin-based artist is rock goddess you need right this very second. The live rendition finds Carbone and her band balancing menace with sultriness in a way that’s irresistible.
The recently released video for “Who’s Gonna Save You” is split between live footage shot in a gorgeous and broodingly cinematic black and white during last year’s Rockpalast and footage of the gorgeous Carbone in a equally gorgeous red dress wandering around Berlin’s Märchenbrunnen, or “Fairytale Fountain,” in Volkspark Friedrichshain shot by Underground Youth’s Olya Dyer. “To have this immaculate beauty yet melancholic aftertaste blended with the energy of the live performance is incredible. It’s a solitary present mixed with a crowded past.,” Dyer says of the footage he shot.
Over the past 15-18 months or so, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Asheville, NC-based goth/post-punk act and JOVM mainstays Secret Shame. Founded in 2016, the act — currently, Lena (vocals), Nathan (drums), Matthew (bass) and Billie (guitar) has been centered around its members desperate need to create, “If I couldn’t sing or play music, I would tear my skin off.” the band’s front person Lena explained in press notes. Shortly after their formation, the band released their self-titled debut EP, which helped established their dark and atmospheric sound — while the material thematically touched upon domestic rabuse, mental health, political and social dissatisfaction and frustration.
The Asheville-based JOVM mainstays’ full-length debut Dark Synthetics was released to critical acclaim last year — and the album find the band expanding upon their sound, crafting material that seemed indebted to both Siouxsie and the Banshees and 4AD Records. Building upon the growing momentum surrounding the band since the release of their debut, the members of Secret Shame have released a series of Dark Synthetics remixes as a teasers while they were returning to the studio to record new music.
Throughout their relatively short history together, they’ve developed a reputation for an ever-changing songwriting process centered around a collective songwriting approach. The end result is that it allows the band to not allow themselves to be pigeonholed into a single subgenere of goth or post-punk. Interestingly, Secret Shame’s latest single “Dissolve” finds the band turning towards a completely new sound while managing to evoke the same feeling and vibe of their previously released material. There’s clear nods to Joy Division, New Order, and Echo and the Bunnymen on this one — with a tiniest of nods to The Smiths here: the song features shimmering guitars, rapid-fire four-on-the-floor, enormous and rousingly anthemic hooks and Lena singing with a plaintive earnestness. It’s arguably their most gorgeous sounding song they’ve released to date, but underneath the shimmer, is a hardened bitterness and dark thematic concerns that have won the band attention. As the band’s Lena says of the song, “A cathartic break from a bad situation, but a gateway to something still destructive. What are the benefits of nobody knowing what’s on your mind? What are the drawbacks?”
Visually, the recently released video for “Dissolve” seemed indebted to 120 Minutes-era MTV with tape hiss and nods at Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Lips Like Sugar” and “The Killing Moon,” among others that immediately come to my mind.
“Dissolve” will appear on a self-released 7 inch that will be release don June 5, 2020.
Last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Asheville, NC-based goth/post-punk act Secret Shame over the past year. The act, which is currently comprised of Lena (vocals), Nathan (drums), Matthew (bass) and Billie (guitar), formed in 2016, and can trace its origins to the desperate need that its members felt to create. “If I couldn’t sing or play music, I would tear my skin off.” the band’s front person Lena explains in press notes. Shortly after their formation, the band released their self-titled debut EP, which quickly established the band’s dark and atmospheric sound paired with lyrics that thematically touch upon issues of domestic abuse, mental health, political and social dissatisfaction and frustration.
The band’s full-length debut Dark Synthetics was released last year to critical acclaim, while further establishing their sound an enormous, reverb heavy sound seemingly influenced by Siouxsie and the Banshees and 4AD Records. Building upon the growing momentum the band has received since the release of their full-length debut, the members of the band went on a short tour to support the album, which included an apt Friday the 13th stop at The Broadway and a Halloween set that featured Joy Division covers. Along with that, the rapidly rising post punk act recently announced a series of remixes of Dark Synthetics material they’ll be releasing while they return to the studio to record new music slated for release later this year.
Now, as you may recall I wrote about two of the singles in the growing remix series: XOR‘s icy, industrial take on the guitar-led “Calm,” which retained the song’s intensity, vulnerability and ache, along with Lena’s powerhouse vocals — and Skinquarter‘s early Depeche Mode-like remix of the Siouxsie and the Banshees-like “Haunter.” The latest remix of the series finds None of Your Concern turning the aforementioned “Haunter” into a propulsive club-banger centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats while retaining Lena’s vocals. Sonically, the remix — to my ears at least — reminds me a of a slickly produced synthesis of Kraftwerk, From Here to Eternity and From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder and of course, the aforementioned Siouxsie and the Banshees.
The members of Secret Shame will be hitting the road to support the vinyl release of Dark Synthetics. After a handful of North Carolina dates in February, Secret Shame will embark on an East Coast and Midwest run throughout March and April that will include an April 2, 2020 stop at Saint Vitus Bar. Check out the tour dates below.
I’ve written quite a bit about the Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Sofia Härdig throughout the course of this site’s nine-plus year history. Now, as you may recall, the Swedish jOVM mainstay’s career began in earnest at a very young age: she began playing in bands when she was nine. As a teen, she began touring, eventually playing a solo set at CBGB’s. As an adult, Härdig has been hailed as the rocktronica queen of experimental music, developing an uncompromising commitment to a truthful artistic approach. “I find beauty in flaws and that which is not perfect is what excites me, I love the unusual, the unexpected, untrained and unplanned… I hope my music portrays that in its sound,” Härdig says about her approach in press notes.
Härdig’s recently released, fourth album This Big Hush, finds the Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay moving away from the deliberate electronic-based sound of her previous work and towards a gritty and raw, old-school rock sound. “I recorded this album with the band in less than three days live in Tambourine Studios in Malmö,” Härdig says of the recording process for This Big Hush. “The vocals were all done in one day, a lot of them are even kept from the original live take. Part of the process is that my electronic demo making has become so thorough and time-consuming that they have been good enough to be released. Since they are out in the world and out of my system, I can break free and do something different with the band, and not the same thing all over again. We never play the same tempo, same length, they follow me where I lead them… this is THIS BIG HUSH”
“Infatuation,” This Big Hush‘s fist single was written to pay homage to post-punk pioneers like Siouxsie and the Banshees — but the decidedly riff driven song seemed to Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, Marc Bolan/T. Rex and Horses-era Patti Smith, complete with an enormous, arena rock friendly hook. “I built this song on a riff that I really loved, building up a groove and then adding backing vocals and playing percussion with whatever I found lying around in the studio and studio kitchen,” the Swedish-born JOVM mainstay said in press notes of the song’s creation. “I used film reels, a serving bowl from IKEA, egg, yar, a knife and fork, to creating an overall feeling of skating down Sunset Boulevard in a Mohikan with a ghetto blaster on your shoulder.”
“Radiant Star,” This Big Hush‘s second single was slow-burning and jangling bit of guitar pop that brings Pretenders and the aforementioned Patti Smith to mind. “It was made during many endless nights,” Härdig says in press notes, “on my own and in my studio and also with the band on some more hectic days. Then a lot of other endless days and nights in the studio producing it. My own take of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’; a song I learned as a 3-year old on the grand piano we inherited from my grandmother.”
“Silence,” This Big Hush‘s third single was a slow-burning, lush track that to my ears brought the emotional intensity and lyricism of Patti Smith and Nick Cave to mind — but with an enormous arrangement of jangling guitars, twinkling keys, dramatic drumming, a soaring hook, a gospel-style backing vocal section and arguably one of her most emotionally direct vocal performances.
Interestingly, the album’s fourth and latest single “Sucking the Flowers” is a decidedly anthemic grunge rocker of a track that seems indebted to PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, Liz Phairand others, as the song is centered around a chugging and propulsive rhythm, enormous power chords, a raucous hook, four-on-the-floor drumming and a defiant vocal performance. Ultimately, this song much like its predecessors reveals that Härdig is a towering force of nature to be reckoned with.
I’ve written a bit about the Asheville, NC-based goth/post-punk act Secret Shame over the past year. And as you may recall, the act — Lena (vocals), Nathan (drums), Nikki (guitar), Matthew (bass) and Billie (guitar) — formed in 2016, and can trace its origins to the desperate need that its members felt to create. “If I couldn’t sing or play music, I would tear my skin off.” the band’s front person Lena explains in press notes. Shortly after their formation, the band released their self-titled debut EP, which quickly established the band’s dark and atmospheric sound paired with lyrics that thematically touch upon issues of domestic abuse, mental health, political and social dissatisfaction and frustration.
The Asheville-based act released their full-length debut Dark Synthetics to critical acclaim earlier this year, while further establishing their sound — an enormous, reverb heavy sound seemingly influenced by Siouxsie and the Banshees and 4AD Records. Building upon the growing momentum the band has received since the release of their full-length debut, the members of the band went on a short tour to support the album, which included an apt Friday the 13th stop at The Broadway and a Halloween set that featured Joy Division covers. Along with that, the rapidly rising post punk act recently announced a series of remixes of Dark Synthetics material they’ll be releasing while they return to the studio to record new music slated for release next year.
The first remix of the series, found XOR turning the guitar-led “Calm” into an icy and industrial synth banger, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, stuttering beats while retaining the song’s intensity, vulnerability and ache, and Lena’s powerhouse vocals. The second and latest remix finds the Richmond, VA-based producer and engineer Ricky Olson, who writes, records and performs as Skinquarter turning the Siouxsie and the Banshees-like “Haunter” into a icy synth-driven club banger that’s one part early Depeche Mode and one part moody house music.