Tag: Steely Dan

Over the course of 2017, I wrote quite a bit about the  San Francisco-born, Los Angeles-based sibling duo Cones, and as you may recall, the duo, which is comprised of Jonathan Rosen, an acclaimed, pop music influenced, hand-drawn animator, who has created music videos for the likes Toro y Moi, Eleanor Friedberger and Delicate Steve,  and played Johnny Thunders on the HBO series Vinyl; and Micheal Rosen, a classically trained pianist, commercial and film composer and experimental sound artist, can trace the origins of the band to when they began playing together as members of New York-based indie rock band Icewater, an act that eventually became the session and touring band for Eleanor Friedberger’s New View. As the story goes, while touring with Friedberger, the Rosens began to conceptualize what their new project would sound like, ultimately deciding that their project would fuse Jonathan’s pop sensibilities with Michael’s lush, atmospheric soundscapes and keyboard-based instrumentation.

After the New View tour ended, the Rosen Brothers along with a collection of friends, associates and collaborators wrote and recorded the material that would comprise their debut EP Whatever You’re Into, which featured the 70s AM radio-like “Echoes On,” and the breezy “Back In The Brain,” an ode to solitude. “Later,” was arguably one of their most dance floor friendly tracks but ironically, was about when someone has begun to find some semblance of peace after a breakup — but with some of the bitterness still hanging around. While “First Time,” found the band nodding towards breezy Pavo Pavo-like bubblegum pop.

Recently, the JOVM mainstays signed to Dangerbird Records and to celebrate that occasion and a Bootleg Theater residency, the sibling duo released their latest single, the shimmering, arpeggiated synth-led “Run the Risk,” a track that decidedly sounds as though it were inspired by Steely Dan and Billy Joel. In particular, “Movin’ Out,” which interestingly enough I mentioned in an earlier post, as well as “Peg” and “Ricky Don’t Lose That Number” come to mind. And while centered around slick production and thoughtful craft, the song continues a run of breezy and sincere material.

Check out their Bootleg Theater Residency dates below.

 

Live Dates

8/06: Bootleg Theater w/ Pavo Pavo, Wolcott’s Instant Pain Annihilator
8/13: Bootleg Theater w/ Lily McQueen, Palm Springsteen
8/16: Taix in the Champagne Room – Echo Park Rising
8/20: Bootleg Theater w/ Malcolm Oliver Perkins, Lisa Sonoda

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James Clifford is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, and creative mastermind of the recording project Primaveras, which was once known as Modern Howls. As the story goes, Clifford grew up in a rather musical family; in fact, Clifford began playing guitar in his early teens and throughout his high school years, he played in a number of garage bands. Foregoing a formal musical education, the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is largely self-taught with his passion for playing and writing stemming from a lifelong passion for everything music, as he’s been known to scour music stores for vintage guitars and synths or to stay up into the wee hours listening to records. Unsurprisingly, Clifford has cited the likes of David Bowie, Prince, The Clash, Funkadelic, Chic, Todd Rundgren, Roxy Music, Steely Dan, and The Beach Boys as some of his greatest music inspirations.  Thematically, Clifford and Primaveras draws influence from the stretch of the famed Pacific Coast Highway from Malibu to Santa Monica — warm breezes through cracked car windows, the soft sound of waves crashing and receding into the Pacific, and the silhouette of the Los Angeles skyline. For many it’s timeless and almost dreamlike; but those who haven’t stuck around long enough fail to notice the effects of salt air on the surroundings — in the form of rust and erosion. In some way, it evokes faded dreams and hopes of a paradise that never really was there in the first place, and in another sense, the faded surroundings evoke a lonely introspection. Clifford’s Primaveras debut Echoes in the Well of Being was written in a way to embody that dualism — with the album’s material generally being sunny psych pop yet possess an underlying longing and introspection.
Interestingly with Clifford’s previously released material and Echoes in the Well of Being‘s latest single, the shimmering and strutting “Better Off,” his sound has been compared favorably to the likes of Tame Impala and Phoenix — and while that is definitely fair, I also hear a subtle nod at Avalon-era Roxy Music as the song evokes bright neon lights, evening faces, Jack and Cokes, the buzz of a coke high and a desperate escape from one’s loneliness and regret. But interestingly enough, Clifford pays loving  homage to The Isley Brothers’Footsteps in the Dark, Parts 1 and 2” with the song’s intro drum break, which not only ties the song to classic R&B, but gives it a subtle sensuality.
As Clifford says of the song, “While most people will immediately interpret as a breakup song, I see the core sentiment as trying to grow up and move on from any sort of worn-out relationship.”
 

New Video: The Trippy 80s-Inspired Visuals for Park Hotel’s “Going West”

Centered on its founding and primary songwriting duo Tim Abbey and Rebeca Macros-Roca, the London, UK-based post-electronic dance act Park Hotel have developed a reputation for a sound that meshes neo-disco and dance punk with off-kilter, downtown art scene-based songwriting — and unsurprisingly, the duo’s sound has been favorably described as a joyfully communal face-off between LCD Soundsystem, Earth, Wind and Wire with flashes of Talking Heads and a sprinkle of Steely Dan. Along with that, they’ve developed a reputation for a live show in which the project expands to a sextet featuring three-way vocal harmonies, rhythm and lead guitar, drums and lots of cowbell.

Produced by Eliot James, mixed by Nathan Boddy and mastered at New York’s Sterling Sound, the act’s debut single “Gone as a Friend” was recorded after playing a number of critically applauded, buzz-worthy shows across London before officially releasing it earlier this year. And building upon their growing buzz, the act’s latest single “Going West,” is an off-kilter, dance floor-friendly track that sounds inspired by Tom Tom Club‘s “Genius of Love,” Talking Heads’ “Making Flippy Floppy,” Miami Horror‘s “Leila” and The Rapture‘s “House of Jealous Lovers” as the song possesses an infectious, ear-worm worthy, hook paired with boy-girl harmonizing, shimmering synths, a Nile Rodgers-like guitar line and an even funkier bass line, but they manage to do so in a fashion that feels like a fresh and mischievous take on a familiar, crowd pleasing fashion.

Collaborating with mononymic artist Henry, the recently released video for “Going West” manages to draw from two different eras  — 60s psych pop and early 80s pop and rock videos, as we follow the members of Park Hotel on a rooftop with neon bright backdrops featuring Basquiat-like art and expansive and trippy blue skies. 

Centered on its founding and primary songwriting duo Tim Abbey and Rebeca Macros-Roca, the London, UK-based post-electronic dance act Park Hotel have developed a reputation for a sound that meshes neo-disco and dance punk with off-kilter, downtown art scene-based songwriting — and unsurprisingly, the duo’s sound has been favorably described as a joyfully communal face-off between LCD Soundsystem, Earth, Wind and Wire with flashes of Talking Heads and a sprinkle of Steely Dan. Along with that, they’ve developed a reputation for a live show in which the project expands to a sextet featuring three-way vocal harmonies, rhythm and lead guitar, drums and lots of cowbell.

Produced by Eliot James, mixed by Nathan Boddy and mastered at New York’s Sterling Sound, the act’s debut single “Gone as a Friend” was recorded last year and after playing a number of critically applauded, buzz-worthy shows across London before officially releasing their debut single earlier this year. Building upon their growing profile, the act’s latest single “Going West,” is an off-kilter, dance floor-friendly track that sounds inspired by Tom Tom Club‘s “Genius of Love,” Talking Heads’ “Making Flippy Floppy,” Miami Horror‘s “Leila” and The Rapture‘s “House of Jealous Lovers” as the song possesses an infectious, ear-worm worthy, hook paired with boy-girl harmonizing, shimmering synths, a Nile Rodgers-like guitar line and an even funkier bass line, but they manage to do so in a fashion that feels like a fresh and mischievous take on a familiar, crowd pleasing fashion.

 

 

Julian Japser is a San Diego, CA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has publicly describes his own sound as being a 21st century Steely Dan or a lapsed Todd Rundgren after he had crossed paths with Ariel Pink — and although maybe to some that may be true, to my ears “2AM,  Chinatown” and “I Don’t Mind,” the first two singles off his forthcoming 2AM, Chinatown/I Don’t Mind EP remind me quite a bit of Oracular Spectacular-era MGMT, Tame Impala and Milagres as both singles possess soaring and infectious hooks, swaggering strutting vibes and a funky bass line; however, both singles thematically focus on a desperate and gnawing loneliness and isolation — in particular “2AM, Chinatown” has its narrator reminiscing over a lover he hasn’t seen or spoken to in some time, and as a result, the lonely narrator of the song is desperate to connect with that lover or with anyone really, as long as he felt some connection with someone, even if it were brief. “I Don’t Mind” possesses a funky, 70sAM rock feel that evokes a lazy morning with a lover — the sort in which limbs and sheets are hopelessly entangled and entwined, and you spend much of the day making love and chatting about all manner of things big and small. And as a result, it’s the sexiest song of the two; but underneath the surface there’s this sense of all things coming to its inevitable conclusion. All things lead to the same result — the endless search to not be as lonely as you were before, and both songs capture that with an uncanny verisimilitude.

 

 

Led by its founding member Toby Pazner, a member of Lee Fields and The Expressions and El Michels Affair; and featuring Dave Guy, a member of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon Band and The Dap-Kings; Leon Michels, a member of The Arcs, Lee Fields and The Expressions and El Michels Affair; Nicholas Movshon, a member of The Arcs, Lee Fields and The Expressions and El Michels Affair; Homer Steinweiss, a member of The Dap-Kings and The Arcs; Michael Leonheart, Steely Dan‘s musical director and a member of David Byrne‘s backing band; Neal Sugarman, a member of The Dap-Kings and The Sugarman 3; Aaron Johnson, a member of Antibalas and El Michels Affair; Evan Pazner, a member of Lee Fields and The Expressions, The Olympians are a Daptone Records All-Star band who can trace their origins to when founding member Toby Pazner recruited a bunch of New York’s finest soul musicians during the 2008 Summer Olympics to record material that would comprise the collective’s first 45, which was released through Truth and Soul Records.

However, as the story goes, it wasn’t until a few years later, when Pazner was touring Greece and the Greek Islands when his true vision for the project materialized. After playing the Acropolis and swimming in the Aegean Sea, Pazner had a series of recurring dreams in which he was visited by an ancient, toga-clad, curly-haired Greek man, who told him to return home and build a “Temple of Sound.” And in that temple, Pazner was to retell the tales of Ancient Greece through music. Of course, considering the strangeness of those dreams, Pazner initially ignored them but since they were recurring and so vividly forceful, Pazner began to feel a decided urgency. When Pazner finished the tour, he returned to New York with a singular focus on completing The Olympians’ full-length debut and he immediately went to work acquiring the best studio equipment he could get his hands on. He then promptly followed that up by recruiting his Daptone Records friends  to help him flesh out the material that would comprise the collective’s self-titled album, slated for an October 28, 2016 release.

The self-titled album’s latest single “Apollo’s Mood” is a smooth, old-school soul inspired composition featuring the Daptone horn players, some of the best, contemporary horn players in the entire world paired with a twinkling, twisting and turning organ chords, a slow-burning and sinuous bass line, and a steady back beat. And although contemporary — in the sense that the musicians who composed and recorded the song are contemporary — the song sounds and feels as though it could have been recorded in 1963.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year, you’d likely be familiar with Sunderland, UK-based indie electro pop act Field Music. Comprised of creative masterminds and primary members, sibling duo Peter and David Brewis and featuring contributions from Kev Dosdale, Andrew Lowther, Ian Black, Liz Corney, Andrew Moore, Damo Waters and a rotating cast of other musicians and friends, the British pop act have developed an internationally recognized profile for a sound that’s comprised of the siblings interwoven harmonies, off kilter chord progressions and a quirkily yet approachable sensibility wrapped with infectiously catchy hooks.

Earlier this year, the duo released Commontime, the first new bit of material from Field Music in several years, and the material was written and recorded over spontaneous bursts over a six month period in their Wearside, UK-based studio. And interestingly enough, the material which embraces a collaborative spirit thematically focused on the passing of time  — acquaintances coming and going, friendships drifting and diffusing over time, random snippets of the every day and real-life conversations between friends and acquaintances being endlessly replayed.

Since the release of Commontime, the duo have hosted a Spotify radio show Commontime Extra Time in which the duo celebrate the influences behind the album’s material. And during the latest episode of their show, the Brewis brothers shared a previously unreleased single “How We Gonna Get There Now,” that was recorded during the sessions for 2012’s Plumb because the duo felt it sounded a bit too much like Todd Rundgren — although to my ears, the song sounds as though the duo were nodding at Steely Dan‘s “Reeling In The Years,” and “Peg“as the song begins with gentle percussion, twinkling keys, strummed guitars and an arena rock-friendly hook an alternating loud and quiet sections — but at its core a deeply British irony. A bluesy guitar solo holds a carefully crafted yet off kilter bit of pop confection.