Tag: Sonic Youth

New Audio: Columbus Ohio’s didi Releases Surreal Visuals for Ethereal Album Single “Beached”

Consisting of founding members Meg Zakany (vocals, guitar) and Sheena McGrath (drums) with Kevin Bilapka-Arbelaez (vocals, guitar) and Leslie Simizu (vocals, bass), the Columbus, OH-based indie rock quartet didi can trace their origins to when its founding duo of Zakany and McGrath met in college, and began jamming together as a way of exorcising life’s frustration. Bilapka-Arbelaez and Shimizu were local musicians that didi’s founding duo had admired from afar, and they were recruited to join the band shortly after its formation.  The members of the Columbus, OH-based indie rock band cite Sonic Youth and Built to Spill as influences on their sound and approach. However, the band’s songs find the band generally eschewing a single charismatic frontperson in favor of allowing all of the individual members the freedom and ability to write and sing.

Each member of the band proudly embraces their heritage and differing backgrounds, creative ambitions and songwriting styles, and while they seek to give context and bring personal depth to the music they write together, they firmly believe in music as a way to foster positive communication between people of underrepresented backgrounds as a means to grow a positive environment both within the band and outside of it. Interestingly, the band derives their name from Leslie Shimizu’s grandmother Dorothy Sugawara-Shimizu. Didi, as her grandchildren call her was born and raised in Seattle in the 1920s. And until recently, Didi Sugawara-Shimizu kept most of her personal history to herself, not wanting to burden anyone with the story. “I didn’t really think my story was that different from anyone else. Everyone has their story,” Sugawara-Shimizu would often say. However, Didi was taken from her home when she was 13 and placed in an internment camp for Japanese Americans in Idaho for the next two years of her life. 

One’s teenage years can be incredibly difficult but imagine being a teenager —  and being treated as though you were an illegal alien in your own homeland. As the band explains “but the reason we chose to honor her is not solely because of the struggle she face, but is [sic] so that her story and the story of every woman will be told. We want her to know that her life and her story matter, and that we will be telling it for as long as we can. We want her to know that her quiet strength has given us inspiration to be loud. And we need her to know that she will be remembered and immortalized in our music.” 

didi’s sophomore album like memory foam was released last week through Damnably Records and the album’s material thematically seek to explore the power of an ambiguous identity in terms of of race, gender, class and others to navigate difficult or guarded conversations; the pain of forgetting what once seemed to be an unforgettable love; the sing a woman is capable of in the face of an unchecked man socialized to underestimate her and so on. 

The album’s second single, the slow-burning yet gorgeous and atmospheric “Beached” is centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar chords and ethereal vocals. Sonically, the song recalls Mazzy Star and Sun June, as it possesses a similar delicate quality.  Shot by the members of didi and edited by Alex Bloch, the recently released video features the band’s members at the beach — some in the water or running into the water. At one point, the drummer hurls her drums into the water, while another member plays the cello as the waves lap on the shore. The visuals are a feverish and hallucinatory dream. 

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Initially formed back in 2015 in Thessaloniki, Greece as a duo featuring founding member and creative mastermind Jimmy Polioudis, a.k.a. Zimmy Lips (guitar, vocals) and Konstantinos Iosifidis, a.k.a. Lostinthe (drums, vocals), Vagina Lips released a self-titled cassette, which they followed up with a 5 song mini-album Youth in Chaos, which was released through MO.MI Records. Interestingly around the same time, Polioudis appeared on a popular Greek TV show — and coupled with the project’s unique name, Polioudis along with Vagina Lips became much more widely known in Greece; however, after Konstantinos’ departure in 2016, Vagina Lips has become a solo project — with Konstantinos producing the band’s Athanasia, an album that was listed on several Greek blogs as one of the best albums of that year.

Interestingly, since the release of Athanasia Polioudis has been remarkably prolific releasing two EPs, a mini album and three full-length albums — 2016’s Decadent Life EP, 2017’s Elixirthe Vernorexia mini album, and Of Our Lives. Inner Ear Records release Athanasia on limited edition vinyl earlier this year. Building upon a growing profile. Polioudis has played at some of Greece’s bigger festivals, including PS2020, Plissken Festival, Westside Festival and Saristra Festival among others. His latest album Generation Y was recorded over the summer, and while the album is primarily influenced by Stereolab, Sonic Youth, and Car Seat Headrest, album single “This Is A Good Life” seems to draw from post-punk — particularly from the likes of Suicide, as the song is centered around rapid-fire, four-on-the-floor drum machine, arpeggiated synths, an angular and propulsive bass line and an anthemic, shout along worthy hook; but the song is underpinned with a bitter irony, as it points out the fact that the “perfect life” is usually extremely phony, if not damn well impossible.

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Ganser Return with a Tense and Incisive Song on Our Social Media Mad World

Throughout the year, I’ve written quite a bit about the  Chicago, IL-based post-punk act Ganser. And as you may recall the act which is comprised of founding members Alicia Gaines (bass, vocals) and Nadia Garofalo (keys, vocals) with Brian Cundiff (drums) and Charlie Landsman (guitar) formed in 2014 and since the band’s formation, they’ve managed to build a profile both locally and nationally for a sound that was largely influenced by  Sonic Youth and Magazine paired with lyrical content that thematically was concerned with larger social concerns. In fact, the Chicago-based quartet’s critically applauded full-length debut Odd Talk focused on communication breakdowns  with the song’s narrators desperately seeking meaning in hopeless confusion and messiness — and throughout the album, each song’s narrator seems as though they were literally sorting though syllables and signals in an attempt to find the right words to say what they wanted or needed to say. 

Building upon a growing profile and an attention-grabbing year, the Chicago-based quartet’s latest single “Pastel” will further cement their reputation for crafting neurotic, tense post-punk centered around slashing guitar chords, a rolling and propulsive bass line, four-on-the-floor like drumming and punchily delivered, stream of consciousness-based lyrics and while clearly indebted to Gang of Four and Wire, the song concerns itself with incredibly contemporary issues — particularly, the nagging and unshakeable sense that no one is watching you shout desperately into the void to get anyone at all to pay attention. Everything is happening all the time and everyone is a performing all the time — and it’s all superficial and hateful. And as a result, the song evokes a creeping sense of existential panic that we all quietly feel and never really acknowledge. 

The recently released video was edited and produced by the band and features stock footage self-consciously performing in front of the camera — and paired with the tense and uneasy song, it heightens the self-consciousness of the video’s subject. 

Throughout this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based act Dead Waves. The band has gone through a series of lineup changes and in that same period — but one thing has been consistent, the band’s primary songwriting and founding duo, brothers Teddy and Nick Panopoulos. Interestingly, the band’s sixth, full-length album, the Martin Bisi-produced God of the Wild finds the duo making a decided change in sonic direction and songwriting approach, moving away from the power chord-based garage rock/grunge rock of their early releases — including, the Steve Albini-produced “Oracles of the Grave”/”Promise” 7″ — towards a more experimental, minimalist  and free-flowing approach with the material focusing on bare-boned arrangements of guitar, synths, vocals without any percussion; in fact, God of the Wild‘s dark yet hauntingly lush and minimalist first single “Astrapi” is centered around towering layers of looping and droning guitar chords, burst of feedback and howled vocals.

While still retaining an element of the heaviness that first captured the attention of this site and the rest of the blogosphere, the new material finds the New York-based duo’s sound seemingly drawing from Directions to See a Ghost-era Black Angels, Sonic Youth and Swans — but with a patient, painterly vibe, as each layer is carefully and deliberated placed atop another. As the band’s Teddy Panopolous explained to CVLT Nation, For this album we really wanted to go clean slate. Not listening to anything while creating, just delving into our feelings and blanking everything out. Feelings of loneliness, happiness, sadness. How this concept of time, in what we perceive as reality, goes by so quick. Loved ones passing away, ourselves getting older. Just trying to enjoy the now, the feeling of just being and trying to enjoy, but all the while with that certain lingering sadness.”

 

 

Live Footage: Acclaimed and Up-and-Coming Austrian Artist Inner Tongue Performs “2 Seconds”

Inner Tongue is the (mostly) solo recording project of a rather mysterious Vienna, Austria-based singer/songwriter, composer and musician, who grew upon an intensely musical home — his father is a saxophonist, who constantly wrote songs, so musical instruments were always lying around and his parents frequently shared their favorite albums with him; in fact, Inner Tongue formed his first band when he was 6. “We started out using one of my dad’s synths to play a pre-programmed beat,” he recalls. “I’d sing something that sounded to us like English.” Unsurprisingly, the Austrian artist, who cites Bjork, Moby, Portishead, Micheal Jackson, Sonic Youth, Radiohead, Pet Shop Boys, Aphex Twin, and The Cure’s The Cure In Orange as influences — although those influences don’t quite correspond to his own sound and songwriting approach continued playing and writing music, playing in a small number of bands, including one that had briefly worked with Duran Duran and David Bowie’s producer before getting dropped by their label. 

Interestingly, with the release of some of his earliest solo work, the Austrian artist quickly garnered comparisons to James Blake, Childish Gambino, Frank Ocean, Death Cab for Cutie, Sohn, and Chet Faker/Nick Murphy. His quietly released yet critically applauded 2015 debut EP Tz Ka allowed him to open for the likes of Ghostpoet, Everything Everything and others. The Vienna, Austria-based singer/songwriter, composer, and musician’s full-length debut Favours was released earlier this year, and interestingly, the album’s overall sound and thematic concern is inspired by a deeply personal yet remarkable story. Back in 2013, Inner Tongue was diagnosed with a rare vocal-cord disorder that was so severe that only a handful of specialists throughout the entire world were capable of treating it; but eventually his condition required surgery, which left him, for a time unable to talk. Understandably, the months that followed the surgery were emotionally and physically shattering but he began composing music again.  At the time, singing was out of the question and as the Austrian singer/songwriter, composer and musician says in press notes, “I decided to modify my musical focus temporarily by writing songs which could produce a melodic tension without vocals, but which featured the traits of forward-looking pop music. It was as if someone had pressed a resent button on the musical identity I had of myself.” Adds Inner Tongue, “I used to layer many sounds and melodies before, and felt like I hid the core of any idea behind that technique.”

Some of the Austrian artist’s full-length debut was made at home with most recorded in a friend’s stood in Vienna. Foals’ John Catlin, who collaborated with him on his 2015 debut EP assisted once again although his involvement varied throughout; however, as Inner Tongue says, Catlin “was continually involved as a producer and friend,” who also mixed the album with some further overdubbing where necessary. As the Austrian artist readily admits, the entire experience of writing and recording his full-length debut provoked ” “a lot of soul searching, trying to become a better mixing engineer and producer. I’m somewhat controlling when it comes to my music, and I need to get the little details right.”

However, unlike his debut EP, Favours was more of a collaborative effort, as he shared his ideas with a collective of very dear and close friends. “All contributions are built on a vision I initially had and then gain shape during the process,” Inner Thought says. His live backing band contributed much of the music with his father playing sax on “New York.” The live version of “2 Seconds,” Favours’ latest single features a sparse yet soulful arrangement centered around twinkling Rhodes piano keys and Inner Thought’s achingly tender vocals, which manage to express a plaintive, vulnerable need. It’s a delicate, sensitive yet incredibly sexy song that balances earnest emotion with deliberate attention to craft. 

New Video: The Scuzzy Guitar Pop of Atlanta’s Subsonics

Over the course of their two decades together, the Atlanta, GA-based trio Subsonics, comprised of Clay Reed (vocals, guitar), Buffi Aguero (drums) and Man or Astro Man?’s Rob Del Bueno (bass) have over the course of eight full-length albums have developed a reputation for pairing Reed’s frequently wry and surreal lyrics with a propulsive yet minimalist rhythm section within material that’s sonically indebted to 60s garage rock and bubblegum pop, as well as the noisy experimentalism of Sonic Youth.

Released earlier this year, the band’s eighth full-length album Flesh Colored Paint draws from several decades of pop culture, with the band openly citing Chuck Berry, Little Richard, David Johansen, Mad Magazine, kung-fu movies, commercial jingles and the The Bible as sources of inspiration — and unsurprisingly, their overall aesthetic is a mischievous yet seamless meshing of the trashy and the highbrow in a way that rock ‘n’ roll has long been great at, as you’ll hear on the album’s latest single “You Got Eyes.”

Compiled of old stock footage from the 60s, superimposed with kaleidoscopic and psychedelic imagery. As the band’s Clay Reed calls the video, “Lasik surgery for the surveillance generation.”