Tag: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

New Video: The Murlocs Release a Surreal Visual for Melancholy “Bittersweet Demons”

With the release of their first four albums, The Murlocs  — King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith and Cook Craig with Cal Shortal, Matt Mlach and Tim Karmouche — have released four albums of fuzzy and distorted psychedelic blues. which they’ve supported as an opener for the likes of Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Wavves and of course, Kenny-Smith’s and Craig’s primary gig, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard — and as a headlining act, as well.

The Aussie psych blues outfit’s fifth album. the Tim Dunn-produced Bittersweet Demons is slated for a June 25, 2021 release through their longtime label home ATO Records. Recorded at Button Pushers Studio, the 11-song album finds the band lovingly reflecting on the people, who have left a profound imprint on their lives, the saviors, the hell raisers and other assorted mystifying and complex characters. Arguably, the most personal and complex batch of material they’ve written to date, the album reportedly finds the band bouncing around and between sunny pop, blues punk and wide-eyed psychedelia informed by John Lennon‘s Plastic Ono Band and Harry Nilsson‘s Lennon-produced Pussy Cats. 

In the buildup to the album’s release, I’ve managed to write about two of Bittersweet Demons’ singles:

The Tim Karmouche penned “Francesca,” a rousingly upbeat, hook-driven ripper with a subtle New Wave polish written for Kenny-Smith’s mother, who found a new lease on life through newfound love. 
“Eating At You,” a slow-burning and melancholic sing-a-long that subtly recalls “I Got Friends in Low Places,” with the song being an ode to those deeply troubled friends and erstwhile n’er-do-wells of life that you can’t help but love.

Bittersweet Demons’ third and latest single is the mid-tempo, piano-driven, jangling blues and album title track “Bittersweet Demons.” And unlike its immediate predecessor, the song is one of those melancholy, pour some of your booze out for the dead homies jam that becomes sadly all too common when you get older.

“I was messing around with the tune on the piano for a while but never knew where to take it lyrically,” The Murlocs’ Kenny-Smith recalls in press notes. “Over time the bones of the song sat away in the back of my mind waiting for the right time to come back out and be pieced together properly. Whilst we were on tour in America in 2019 one of my sweetest and dearest friends Keegan Walker passed away. His presence was unlike any other I have ever experienced. That kind of person that’s forever filling you up with joyous excitement. Someone that always took the time and effort to be in your life and support you through the thick and thin no matter what. Every time I came home from tour he was always the first to contact me and come by with some croissants and a handful of lavender that he’d pick from my front garden. Keegan was always there for his friends. A few days after the funeral I sat back down to play at the piano and the words started to come out and feel right. I reckon Keegan would’ve loved this song, he loved this kind of soppy stuff cause he’s a softie just like me.”

Directed and edited by Guy Tyzack, the recently released video for “Bittersweet Demons” was shot on grainy Super 8 Film and follows the adventures and memories of a lonely house that misses his human friends — and at one point is looking for a human to inhabit it.

New Video: The Murlocs Release a Slow-burning and Bluesy Ode to Troubled Friends

With the release of their first four albums, The Murlocs  — King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith and Cook Craig with Cal Shortal, Matt Mlach and Tim Karmouche — have released four albums of fuzzy and distorted psychedelic blues. which they’ve supported both as an opener for the likes of Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Wavves and of course, Kenny-Smith’s and Craig’s primary gig, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and as a headliner. 

The Aussie psych blues outfit’s fifth album. the Tim Dunn-produced Bittersweet Demons is slated for a June 25, 2021 release through their longtime label home ATO Records. Recorded at Button Pushers Studio, the 11-song album finds the band lovingly reflecting on the people, who have left a profound imprint on their lives, the saviors, the hell raisers and other assorted mystifying characters. Arguably, the most personal and complex batch of material they’ve written to date, the album reportedly finds the band bouncing around and between sunny pop, blues punk and wide-eyed psychedelia informed by John Lennon‘s Plastic Ono Band and Harry Nilsson‘s Lennon-produced Pussy Cats. 

Last month, I wrote about Bittersweet Demons first single, the Tim Karmouche penned “Francesca,” a rousingly upbeat, hook-driven ripper with a subtle New Wave polish written for Kenny-Smith’s mother, who found a new lease on life through newfound love. Bittersweet Demons’ second and latest single “Eating At You” is a slow-burning and melancholic sing-a-long centered around wailing harmonica, shuffling rhythms, some shimmering pedal steel, Kenny-Smith’s most plaintive and earnest delivery of his career. In some way, “Eating At You” is The Murlocs’ “I Got Friends in Low Places,” as a rousingly anthemic ode to those deeply troubled friends and erstwhile n’er-do-wells of life. “it’s an ode to all the lovable train wrecks out there that have gone off the rails and keep going back for more,” The Murlocs’ Ambrose Kenny-Smith explains. “The never-ending vortex cycle. Some seem to never learn their lesson even when it smacks them right in the face constantly. It’s important to address these issues before disaster strikes and it’s too late. Never give up on your loved ones when they’re in need of a helping hand.”

 Directed, edited and shot by John Angus Stewart, the recently released video for “Eating At You” begins with someone spray-painting “Eating At U” on Kenny-Smith’s orange sweatshirt. We then follow Kenny-Smith getting fucked up with a collection of homies in an abandoned and graffiti covered public bathroom but as the video continues we see the night slide into anarchic chaos and despair. And throughout, there’s something a bit menacing but off-kilter.

New Video: The Murlocs Release a Feel-Good 80s Inspired Ode to Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s Mom

The Murlocs  — King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith and Cook Craig with Cal Shortal, Matt Mlach and Tim Karmouche — have released four albums of fuzzy and distorted psychedelic blues that the band has supported both as an opener for the likes of Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Wavves and of course, Kenny-Smith’s and Craig’s primary gig,. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and as a headliner.

The Aussie psych blues outfit’s fifth album. the Tim Dunn-produced Bittersweet Demons is slated for a June 25, 2021 release through their longtime label home ATO Records. Recorded at Button Pushers Studio, the 11-song album finds the band lovingly reflecting on the people, who have left a profound imprint on their lives, the saviors, the hell racists and other assorted mystifying characters. Arguably, the most personal and complex batch of material they’ve written to date, the album reportedly finds the band bouncing around and between sunny pop, blues punk and wide-eyed psychedelia informed by John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band and Harry Nilsson’s Lennon-produced Pussy Cats.

Bittersweet Demons first single “Francesca” was written by the band’s Tim Karmouche — and sonically, finds the band crafting a rousingly upbeat, hook-driven ripper that subtly adds a New Wave polish to the fuzzy psych rock barnburners that have won them national and international attention. To my ears, the members of The Murlocs have managed to write a road trip anthem that’s arena rock friendly. “The song is about my mother, and show she had been lost for love since the separation from my father, when I was, 10,” Kenny-Smith explains in press notes. “In the last year and a half or so, she’s found love again, with a very close family friend of ours, someone, who has always been a godfather and mentor to me in many ways. This has changed her spirit immensely for the better. You can really see the pop in her step as this enormous weight has been lifted off her shoulders.”

Kenny-Smith mentions that some of his favorite songs are odes to impressive women — i.e. Van Morrison’s “Gloria” — and says, “Francesca is my mother’s middle name and I’ve always loved it so much.” The Murlocs frontman adds “It’s probably the most positive, feel-good song we’ve ever done. It’s also the closest we’ve ever come to having an 80’s phase.”

Directed by Alex Mclaren, the recently released video for “Francesca” was shot last April. Melbourne was coming out of its first pandemic-related lockdown and restrictions were eased for a short period of time. The band and director quickly jumped on the opportunity to shoot while they had the chance, presumably recognizing that they may not get another chance. And for such an 80’s-like anthem, the video features the titular Francesca, Kenny-Smith and the band driving around in a convertible and rocking out, as well as 80’s computerized graphics and fade outs. The car footage was shot on Melbourne’s Ivanhoe Blvd., near where Kenny-Smith’s mom grew up. That part of the footage was informed by the video for Randy Newman’s “I Love LA.”

New Video: Soccer Mommy Releases a Creepy and Dread-Fueled VIsual for “crawling in my skin”

Sophie Allison is a Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and creative mastermind behind the critically applauded indie rock project Soccer Mommy. Allison first picked up guitar when she was six — and as a teenager, she attended Nashville School of the Arts, where she studied guitar and played in the school’s swing band. In 2015, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began posting home-recorded sons as Soccer Mommy Bandcamp during the summer of 2015, just as she was about to head to New York University (my alma mater, no less!), where she studied music business at the University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

While she was in college, Allison played her first Soccer Mommy show at Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Silent Barn. She caught the attention of Fat Possum Records, who signed her to a record deal — and after spending two years at NYU, she returned to Nashville to pursue a full-time career in music. Upon her return to Nashville, the acclaimed Swiss-born artist wrote and released two Soccer Mommy albums — 2016’s For Young Hearts released through Orchid Tapes and 2017’s Collection released through Fat Possum. Allison’s proper, full-length debut 2018’s Clean was released to widespread critical acclaim, and as a result of a rapidly growing profile, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based artist has toured with Stephen Malkmus, Mitski, Kacey Musgraves, Jay Som, Slowdive, Frankie Cosmos, Liz Phair, Phoebe Bridgers, Paramore, Foster the People, Vampire Weekend, and Wilco.

Before the pandemic, Allison was gearing up for this year to be a massive year: she started off 2020 by playing at one of Bernie Sanders’ presidential rallies and joined a lengthy and eclectic list of artists, who endorsed his presidential campaign. Her highly-anticipated sophomore album color theory was released to critical praise earlier this year — and like countless artists across the globe, she was about to embark on a headlining tour with a number of dates sold-out months in advance that included a Glastonbury Festival set. And she was supposed to be make her late-night, national TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

With touring at an indefinite halt, Allison, like countless other artists recognized that this period offered a unique opportunity to get creative and experiment with new ideas and new ways to connect with fans. Combining her love of video games and performing, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based artist had a digital show on Club Penguin Rewritten with over 10,000 attendees, who all had to make their own penguin avatars to attend. The show was so popular, that the platform’s servers crashed, forcing a rescheduling of the event. Of course, Allison has also played a number of live-streamed sets, including ones hosted by NPR’s Tiny Desk At Home (which she kicked off) and Pitchfork‘s IG Live Series. She also released her own Zoom background images for her fans to proudly show off their Soccer Mommy fandom.

Earlier this year, Aliison and her backing band embarked on a Bella Clark-directed 8 bit, virtual music video tour that had the act playing some of the cities she had been scheduled to play if the pandemic didn’t happen — Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Toronto, and Austin. And instead of having the virtual shows at at a common tourist spot or a traditional music venue, the members of the band were mischievously placed in rather unusual locations: an abandoned Toronto subway station, a haunted Chicago hotel, a bat-filled Austin bridge. Of course, the video tour featured color theory single “crawling in my skin,” a song centered around looping and shimming guitars, a sinuous bass line, shuffling drumming, subtly shifting tempos and an infectious hook.

Allison recently released an Adam Kolodny-directed, fittingly Halloween-themed visual for “crawling in my skin” that’s full of creeping and slow-burning dread that reminds me of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe movies with Vincent Price. “I’m excited to put out this video for crawling in my skin right at the end of spooky season. I hope everyone enjoys this video and their Halloween! 🎃“ Allison says.

New Video: The Murlocs Strutting Glam Rock-like Take on Psych Blues

Led by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith and featuring Kenny-Smith’s bandmate Cook Craig, as well as Cal Shortal, Matt Blach and Tim Karmouche, The Murlocs specialize in a fuzzy and distorted psych blues. In their native Australia, they’ve played across their homeland’s festival circuit and have opened for the likes of internationally acclaimed acts like Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Wavves and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. 

Building upon a growing profile, the Aussie quintet’s forthcoming Stu Mackenzie-produced third full-length effort, Manic Candid Episode is slated for a March 22, 2019 release through Flightless Records. The album’s second and latest single “Withstand” is a swaggering and strutting blues ripper that nods at classic glam rock, complete with rousingly anthemic, shout-along worthy hooks, explosive blasts of harmonica and big, distortion-filled power chords. Sonically, the track — to my ears, at least — brings T. Rex, Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and King Bee-era Muddy Waters to my mind but with a lysergic haze. Fittingly, the Alex McLaren-created video for the song draws from classic 60s and 70s rock promotional videos, as it features the members of The Murlocs performing the song in front of a psychedelic backdrop. 

Comprised of Idaho Falls, ID-born and currently Portland, OR-based Aaron Chapman and Idaho Falls, ID-born and currently Los Angeles, CA-based John Bowers, the synth pop duo Nurses have developed a reputation for a creative restlessness with the project seeing several different iterations rooted in making the strange seem familiar and the familiar seem strange; but interestingly, that restlessness seems inspired by the restlessness that the duo bonded over in the first place. After leaving their isolated and predominantly Mormon hometown, the duo have spent time on a rural California fan, a van in Chicago and an attic in Portland before the members of the duo relocated to Portland and Los Angeles respectively. And naturally,  as a result the duo find themselves collaborating at a distance and through the internet.

Interestingly with the release of the critically applauded albums Apple’s Acre and Dracula saw the band receiving a growing national profile, as they toured with the likes of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, The Mountain Goats, The Tallest Man on Earth and others; but they also received attention after the A$AP Mob freestyled over the beatfreestyled over the beat from “You Lookin’ Twice” for Pitchfork’s Selector.

Since then the duo has developed a reputation for being reclusive; however, Naughtland which is slated for an October 7, 2017 release will be the first bit of recorded output the duo have released in over six years with the album’s titled being derived from a series of conversations the duo had during the writing and recording process about the origins of ideas and inspiration, and whether were generated internally or plucked like fruit from the street of some independent non-place. Reportedly, the material on the forthcoming Naughtland will further cement the duo’s reputation for plumbing the stranger depths of the human condition as the material thematically focuses on ephemerality and materiality, life and death, love and terror, the struggle for self in the duality of contemporary identity and so on, essentially admitting that life is confusing and complicated array of paradoxes and uncertainties — and that hell, that’s okay.

The album’s first single, album opener “In The Mirror” is arguably one of the strangest yet most accessible songs I’ve personally heard this year as the duo craft a sound and production that pairs swaggering, twitter and woofer rocking beats, twisting and turning synth chords, a lysergic-fueled guitar solo, R&B-like falsetto crooning and a soaring and anthemic hook that can be seen as celebrating the impermanence of life or celebrating nihilism. Sonically the song has been accurately described as a Dr. Dre-like production set in a David Lynchian nightmare — and that shouldn’t be surprising as the song possesses a feverish vibe.

New Video: Renowned Riot Grrrl Act Sleater-Kinney to Release a Blistering, Live Album from Paris

Currently comprised of founding members Corin Tucker (vocals, guitar), Carrie Brownstein (guitar, vocals) and Janet Weiss (drums), the Olympia, WA-based indie rock trio Sleater-Kinney was initially formed as a side project from its founding members then-primary projects — Tucker was a member of renowned and influential riot grrl act Heavens to Betsy while Brownstein was a member of Excuse 17. And when Tucker and Brownstein’s primary projects broke up, Sleater-Kinney quickly became its founding duo’s new focus. And through the release of their first seven full-length efforts, 1995’s self-titled debut, 1996’s Call the Doctor, 1997’s Dig Me Out, 1999’s The Hot Rock, 2000’s Hands on the Bad One, 2002’s One Beat and 2005’s The Woods the band developed a reputation for material based around feminist and left-leaning politics — and for being among one of the more influential and beloved acts of their era. Interestingly enough, I can still remember at least reading at least one music journalist, who wrote an article expressing her devastation upon hearing about Sleater -Kinney’s largely unexpected split up back in 2006.

And upon Sleater-Kinney’s breakup, the members of the trio went on to pursue a number of creative pursuits. Weiss, who is also a member of Quasi, joined her bandmate Joanna Bolme for a stint in Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, recording two albums with the band 2008’s Emotional Trash and 2011’s Mirror Traffic. Tucker wrote and released two solo albums, 2010’s 1,000 Years and 2012’s Kill My Blues, which featured Unwound’s Sara Lund and Golden Bears’ and Circus Lupus’ Seth Lorinczi as her backing band. Brownstein formed Wild Flag, which featured her Sleater-Kinney bandmate Weiss along with The Minders’ Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole, a project that released a critically applauded debut effort before splitting up in 2014. And adding to a busy and prolific period of creativity for each of the band’s members, Brownstein along with co-creator and co-star Fred Armisen created the critically applauded IFC series Portlandia, which will start its seventh season on Thursday.

In October 2014, Tucker, Brownstein and Weiss announced that they had reconvened after several years pursuing a variety of projects to write and record their most recent studio album, 2015’s No Cities to Love, which was released to great fanfare and then followed by a tour across North America and Western Europe. Along with the release of the Start Together box set, the Pacific Northwest-based trio confidently reminded critics, fans and others of their importance, relevance and influence on a a number of contemporary band and artists.

Speaking of 2015’s North American and Western European tour, Sub Pop Records will be releasing a live album, Live in Paris on January 27, 2017 and the album consists of a live set recorded at La Cigale on March 20, 2015 — and the first single from the live album is a blistering, furious and incredibly passionate rendition of “Surface Envy,” which is accompanied by live footage lovingly shot by fans over the years. And from the live footage one thing is obvious, these ladies take names and kick serious ass.

New Video: Introducing the Noisy, Alt-Rock-Inspired Sounds of Amsterdam’s Canshaker Pi

With the release of the “Shaniqua” and “Looking For Love On Ibiza” 7 inch single and their Boomslang and For Ed EPs, the Amsterdam-based indie rock quartet Canshaker Pi — comprised of Willem Smit (vocals, guitar), Boris de Klerk (vocals, guitars), Ruben van Weegberg (bass) and Nick Bolland (drums) — have received a reputation across the Netherlands and elsewhere fro a frenzied live show consisting of swaggering and noisy rock that mischievously draws from a variety of sources. Their For Ed EP is a tongue in cheek references to survival-expert Ed Stafford, while “Shaniqua” references a line in Outkast’s smash-hit single “Hey Ya!” — and as a result of their rapidly growing profile, the Dutch quartet caught the attention of Pavement’s and Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks’ Steven Malkmus, who co-produced the Dutch’s quartet soon-to-be-releaed full-length debut Naked Flowers.

Naked Flowers’ latest single “Bonox” finds the band pairing anthemic hooks with shimmering yet tense and angular guitar chords, four-on-the-floor-like drumming, a propulsive bass line and Smit’s ironically detached vocals to craft a song that manages to sound as though it were indebted to 90s alt rock, post-punk and Brit Pop simultaneously — but with a mischievousness at its core.

The recently released music video features time-lapse footage of a painter creating a painting to the song — including brief moments to smoke cigarettes and daydream, a lot of precise mixing of pigments and actual painting and making sure that every little detail was precise to how he had initially envisioned and what he envisioned what it was supposed to be.