Tag: Sixousie and the Banshees

New Video: Sarah P. Returns with a Surreal and Symbolic Video for Disco-Influenced “Maenads”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Athens, Greece-based artist and activist Sarah P. and as you may recall, although she’s perhaps best known as a former member of international acclaimed electronic music production and electronic music duo Keep Shelly in Athens, Sarah P has developed a reputation as a solo artist and collaborator who released her critically applauded full-length debut Who Am I back in 2017 — and she has worked with the likes of Sasha, Mmoths, The New Division, Plastic Flowers, Holly, Hiras, The Bilinda Butchers and a lengthy list of others. 

Sarah’s P’s much-anticipated follow-up to Who Am I, the Maenads EP is a collection of songs celebrating both feminine power (particularly its magic, strength and imperfect perfection) and the artist’s Greek heritage. “Lotus Eaters,” a moody and atmospheric track with four-on-the-floor drumming, shimmering synths, a propulsive and sinuous bass line and Sarah P’s ethereal crooning — and sonically speaking, the track immediately brought to mind Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Kate Bush and the early 80s 4AD Records roster while arguably being the most sensual song I’ve come across within the early part of this year.

Maenads’ latest single, title track “Maenads” is a propulsive, disco-influenced track built around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a funky bass line and thumping beats — and unlike its predecessor, the song manages to remind me a bit of Niki & the Dove and several others. Interestingly, the song as Sarah P explains in press note is about nights that are empty of feelings. 

Shot in Berlin, the video is a surreal fever dream that stars Sarah P. and Sabina Smith-Moreland as a bird that meat to symbolize mental illness. The video shows the importance of coming to terms with own struggles while not letting them overtake one’s life. “I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety for a long time, but I’m convinced that it’s possible to control one’s mental health, rather than living a life controlled by mental illness,” Sarah shares.

“Mental illness never truly goes away, but learning more about it can help understand what’s going on inside your body and mind and therefore, control it better.

“For the last part of the Maenads trilogy, I decided to film in Berlin – where it all started for me. This video is perhaps my least “ethereal” work-to-date – with “ethereal” being a word that’s often used to describe my work. Berlin isn’t ethereal – it’s boxy and well structured in its chaos. Berlin’s light is very different compared to the light in Athens; in Berlin, the light is moody and arrogant – especially during the winter, where it makes rare appearances. Maenads was filmed at Theaterhaus Berlin – a space that felt homely and brought me closer to my drama school years. I had the pleasure to work with photographer and visual artist Colette Pomerleau and dancer Sabina Smith-Moreland. For the coloring of the video, I worked once again with David Hofmann who previously colored the other two parts of the Maenadstrilogy. Although the concept and set are meant to symbolize my life in Berlin, my “Greek Maenads” (Clio “Lil Cli” Arvaniti, Dora Pantazopoulou, Rania Ainiti, Marianna Pagrakioti) make a special appearance on Maenads TV. The additional visuals were filmed & edited by George Geranios, on a rooftop in Athens – the concrete jungle. Lastly, Apostolia Gogara is responsible for the fantastic hair and makeup of the additional visuals.”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Wax Idol Release an Anthemic Power Ballad

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the  Oakland, CA-based indie rock act Wax Idols, and as you may recall that after 2013’s critically applauded album Discipline + Desire, the band went on hiatus as the band’s founding member, primary songwriter and frontperson Hether Fortune joined the equally acclaimed punk rock band and JOVM mainstays  White Lung. That was followed by a heartbreaking and life-altering divorce, which informed much of the material on the band’s critically applauded, third album, 2016’s American Tragic.

Informed by the one of the saddest and most difficult experiences of Fortune’s life, as Fortune explained that American Tragic wasn’t “. . .a sad album.The whole spectrum of grief is represented here — shock, pain, anger, loneliness, and then finding a way to work through all of that, and not only survive, and thrive. That’s what I was going through. I was kind of trying to save myself.” Fortune wrote and recorded every note and every single chord on the album, and as a result, it gives the album a deeply personal vision and point of view in which the heartbreak and grief at the core of the album is visceral and haunting — especially if you’ve ever experienced the dissolution of a long-term romantic relationship, as it evokes the lingering ghosts and resentments, the push and pull of longing, confusion and hatred towards that person, who may well never be in your life again; but it’s all underpinned by the recognition that if you’ve known love, you may know it again and again and again, and that somehow you’ll pick up most of the pieces and move forward. And while thematically being among the most soberING and thoughtful material Fortune has written, the material sonically is reminiscent of Too True-era Dum Dum Girls, Concrete Blonde, Siouxsie and the Banshees and others.

Slated for a May 16, 2018 release through Etruscan Gold Records, Wax Idols long-anticipated forth Monte Vallier-produced album Happy Ending finds the band heading towards new thematic territory as the album finds the band exploring the abstraction and finality of death from philosophical, political and personal perspectives, continuing on the deeply personal tone and vibe of their critically applauded American Tragic. Additionally, the album finds the band continuing onward after a series of lineup changes with the band’s founding member and primary songwriter Fortune backed by Peter Lightning (guitar, bass, organ, piano), Rachel Travers (drums) and Marisa Prieto (bass, backing vocals) and The Mallard’s Greer McGettrick joining the band after the album was recorded. 

Now, as you may recall Happy Ending’s first single “Scream” was a rousingly anthemic, 80s-inspired post punk track with with a deeply personal, idiosyncratic vision, complete with some impressive guitar pyrotechnics that make the song seem as though the band drawing influence from Boy and October-era U2.  As Fortune told NPR, “Finding inspiration in one of my favorite poems, ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ by Dylan Thomas, I used this song as a vehicle to meditate on the concept of free will & how one could choose to exercise it even at the brink of death.” She adds, “The protagonist is someone who is young, madly in love AND desperately wants to live — though they know that they will not. They have chosen to use their final seconds, the only breath in their lungs, to scream out the name of the one that they love.” Interestingly, the album’s latest single  the mid tempo power ballad, “Crashing” continues on a similar vein as its predecessor as it’s a swooning and urgent ballad centered around twinkling piano, propulsive drumming and an anthemic hook with some gorgeous guitar work. Much like Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” and others, “Crashing” is the sort of song you can envision earnestly shouting along with a beer held aloft, with the knowledge of life’s fleeting nature.

Currently comprised of founding trio Brandon Pierce, a founding member of prog rock act Ancestors, who has had stints with Buried at Sea, Deth Crux, Night Horse and Portland,OR’s Soft Kill; Brandon’s wife Rachael Pierce, an accomplished vocalist, who spent years demoing pop songs for major labels; and Cameron Carlin, who also is a member of Black Mare, the Los Angeles, CA-based post punk trio GLAARE initially formed back in 2012 and since their formation, the band has received attention for featuring some of Southern California’s most accomplished musicians, as well as for a sound that possesses elements of darkwave, dream pop and goth-rock while revealing a meticulous songwriting approach through the release of 2014’s The Universe Is Machine, which featured former member Jason Watkins (keys), a 2015 split 7 inch with electronic duo Intimachine and a self-titled cassette EP last year.
To Deaf and Day, the up-and-coming Los Angeles-based post-punk trio’s full-length debut was released earlier this year through Dune Altar/Funeral Party Records, and from the album’s latest single “Desiree,” the members of GLAARE will further cement their growing local and regional reputation for a sound that’s deeply indebted to 4AD Records heyday, The Cure, Sixousie and the Banshees and others but with a subtly modern sheen.

Initially members of Swedish melodic punk/dark pop collective Vånna Inget, Karolina Engdahl (vocals/bass) and Tommy Tift (guitar) can trace their latest musical project, the Malmo, Sweden-based post-punk quartet True Moon to a mounting frustration with what they felt was an increasingly sanitized and homogeneous Scandinavian music scene. “Karolina and I are bored with the Swedish music scene at the moment,” Tift explains in press notes. “It feels like everyone has the same blueprint, like there’s an industry rulebook now for how bands must sound. We wanted to do something different. With the last Vånna Inget (2013’s critically acclaimed, Swedish Grammy-nominated Ingen Botten) we got more and more into dark wave and new wave, so we felt we wanted to explore than more.”

“We were listening to artists such as Joy Division, Killing Joke, Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and early Cure,” Tift notes. “There is a purity and honesty and integrity to that music that’s missing from the current scene. Those bands weren’t making music to be pop stars or rock stars, it is pure expression and pure art, and that’s the aesthetic we were pursuing.” Once the duo settled on the band’s overall aesthetic, they recruited  Frederik Orevad (drums) and Linus Segerstedt (guitar) to complete the band’s lineup.
The Malmo, Sweden-based quartet’s self-titled full-length debut was recorded by producer Jari Haapalainen, known for his work with Ed Harcourt and The (International) Noise Conspiracy live to analog tape at Tift’s Studio Motion with the producer and band actively aiming for a raw, unpolished feel and sound reminiscent of Martin Hannet’s legendary work with Joy Division — and in a similar fashion to those legendary recordings, the members of True Moon recorded their debut album’s material in single takes, which gives the album’s material a forceful immediacy; in fact, Engdahl completed the vocals for the album in about 90 minutes.
Slated for an April 28, 2017 release through Lovely Records, the band and their label recently released the album’s first single “Sugar,” and while sonically speaking the song — to my ears, at least — sounds like what would happen if Siouxsie and the Banshees had covered Joy Division, complete with a roaring and rousingly anthemic hook, and an undeniably forceful, almost primal and explosive “you-were-there” immediacy that sets them apart from they countrymen and from their counterparts internationally.

 

 

 

Samuel Joseph Kim is a Canadian-born, San Francisco, CA-based singer/songwriter producer and multi-instrumentliast, arguably best known as a member of San Francisco-based band Museums and for a solo recording experimental side project, Mount Vermont. He also works as a freelance soundtrack composer, who has clients like Canon, Deloitte, TED, and others. Kim also recently released material under his own birth name — and that music as he describes on his website “is an evolving blend of organic guitars and electronic experimentation. Whatever the instrumentation or approach, it retains its melodic and emotive nature: haunting, intimate and sincere.”

“Gone” the EP opening single off Kim’s 2016 effort Lost/Found EP is a hazy post-punk-inspired song featuring a sinuous bass line, lush, swirling layers of shimmering synths and precise drum programming paired with Kim’s crooning vocals. Sonically speaking, the song nods at The Harrow, the 4AD Records sound, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division and others and while possessing a similar swooning and urgent Romanticism — and much like its (presumed) influences, the song focuses on visceral and profound heartache and confusion that has enveloped its narrator.