Tag: Stereogum

Lyric Video: Nation of Language Returns with A Motorik Groove Driven Bop

Rising Brooklyn-based synth pop trio Nation of Language — — Ian Richard Devaney (vocals, guitars, percussion), Aidan Noell (synth, vocals) and Michael Sue-Poi (bass) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Devaney and Sue-Poi were members off The Static Joys, a band that became largely inactive after the release of that band’s sophomore album. And as the story goes, Devaney was inspired to start a new project after hearing OMD‘s “Electricity,” a song he had listened to quite a bit while in his father’s car.

erestingly, what initially started out as Devaney fooling around on a keyboard eventually evolved to Nation of Language with the addition of Noell and Sue-Poi. Between 2016-2019, the Brooklyn-based synth pop trio released a handful of singles that helped to build up a fanbase locally and the outside world.

ast year’s full-length debut, Introduction, Presence was released to critical praise, landing on the Best Albums of 2020 lists for Rough Trade, KEXP, Paste, Stereogum, Under The Radar and PopMatters. They capped off a massive 2020 with the A Different Kind of Light”/”Deliver Me From Wondering Why” 7 inch, which featured the A Flock of Seagulls and Simple Minds-like “Deliver Me From Wondering Why.”  The act’s latest single “Across That Fine Line” is the first official single off their highly-anticipated sophomore album A Way Forward slated for a November 5, 2021 release.

Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a relentless motorik groove, a rousingly anthemic yet dance floor friendly hook and Devaney’s plaintive vocals, “Across That Fine Line” continues a run of crowd pleasing and decidedly 80s inspired material; if you’re a child of the 80s A Flock of Seagulls and few others come to mind.

‘Across That Fine Line’ is a reflection on that moment when a non-romantic relationship flips into something different,” Nation of Language’s Devaney explains in press notes. “When the air in the room suddenly feels like it changes in an undefinable way. It’s a kind of celebration of that certain joyous panic, and the uncertainty that surfaces right after it.  

“Sonically, it’s meant to feel like running down a hill, just out of control. I had been listening to a lot of Thee Oh Sees at the time of writing it and admiring the way they supercharge krautrock rhythms and imbue them with a kind of mania, which felt like an appropriate vibe to work with and make our own.”

New VIdeo: Follow St. Vincent on a Gritty 70s Inspired Heist

Initially starting her professional career as a member of The Polyphonic Spree and as a touring member of Sufjan Stevens’ touring band, the Tulsa-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark stepped out into the limelight as a solo artist and frontperson with her acclaimed project St. Vincent. Since the release of 2007’s full-length debut Marry Me, Clark’s work has continued to grow in stature and complexity with her self-titled fourth album winning a 2014 Grammy for Best Alternative Album, making her only the second female artist to ever win in that category.

Along with her work as a solo artist, Clark has collaborated with the legendary David Byrne on 2012’s Love This Giant, performed with the living members of Nirvana at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and da 2019 Grammy Awards duet with Dua Lipa.

Clark collaborated with co-producer Jack Antonoff on 2017’s critically applauded, smash hit album MASSEDUCATION, an album that landed on both the US and UK Top 10 Charts while landing at #1 of the Best of 2017 list of The New York Times and The Guardian — and placing high on the Best of 2017 lists of The AV Club, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, Mashable, New York Daily News, NME, Paste, Pitchfork, Q, Stereogum, USA Today and a length list of others. 2018’s MassEducation found Clark collaborating with pianist Thomas Bartlett: Recorded over two nights in August 2017, the effort found Clark stripping back MASSEDUCATION’s material to its bare bones, revealing the vulnerable and earnest songwriting at their core.

MASSEDUCATION’s title track won a Grammy for Best Rock Song with the album winning another Grammy for Best Recording Package in 2019. As she was celebrating an enviable run of critical and commercial success, Clark’s father was released from prison. Clark began writing a new batch of materials which would become her soon-to-be released seventh album, Daddy’s Home. Daddy’s Home thematically closes the loop the loop on a journey that began with her father’s incarceration back in 2019 — and it ultimately led her back to the vinyl records her dad had introduced her when she was child — the gritty and sleazy rock records written and recorded in New York between 1971-1975.

Interestingly, Daddy’s Home’s latest single, “Down” is centered around a groove that’s simultaneously sultry and anxious with the track evoking images of the legendarily sleazy New York: in this case, a coke and booze fueled bender that starts at the local bar, features a stop at CBGB’s or Max’s Kansas City to see Blondie or Ramones before heading off to Studio 54. Warhol is somewhere in this picture, right? Now, while some critics have compared the album’s overall aesthetic and sound to Young Americans-era Bowie and Prince, “Down” to my ears reminds me more of Station to Station and Lodger-era Bowie. It’s far more anxious and murkier with a bit of menace seeping through.

Co-directed by Clark and Bill Benz, the recently released video features Clark in Candy Darling-like regalia through an anxious chase that’s one part French Connection and one part drug-fueled, paranoid fever dream. It fits the song’s careening and glitchy groove perfectly.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Thyla Releases a Shimmering Ode to Loneliness, Heartbreak, and Survival

Rising Brighton, UK-based indie rock band Thyla can trace its origins to when its founding trio — Millie Duthie (vocals), Danny Southwell (drums) and Dan Hole (bass) — met while attending college. Bonding over shared musical interests, the band’s founding trio started writing original material together, but with the addition of Mitch Duce (guitar) , the band began to reimagine their sound and aesthetic, centered around a distaste what they felt was the stale, boring and tired state of the British recording industry.

As they quickly became JOVM mainstays back in 2019, the Brighton-based act helped to cement their hometown’s growing reputation for a music scene that features some of England’s hottest emerging acts while playing shows with Dream Wife, Luxury Death, Matt Maltese, Yonaka, Husky Loops, Lazy Day, Sunflower Bean, INHEAVEN and Fickle Friends. Adding to a growing profile in their native England, the band was spotlighted alongside Pale Waves, Nilüfer Yanya, and Sorry in NME‘s 100 Essential Acts for 2018.

The act’s debut EP 2019’s What’s On Your Mind was released to critical applause from Pitchfork, Stereogum, NME, The Line of Best Fit and Dork — and it received airplay from BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6, Radio X and KCRW. Adding to a momentous year, which saw the band receive attention from outside the UK, the Brighton-based JOVM mainstays opened for Rolling Blackouts Costal Fever, played attention-grabbing sets at The Great Escape, Live At Leeds and Hit The North. They then followed all of that with their first national tour, which also included one of their biggest shows to date at London’s Electrowerkz.

Last year, Thyla released their sophomore EP Everything at Once, which featured the anthemic and boldly ambitious “Two Sense,”and the shimmering yet anthemic, coming-of-age story “Lennox Hill,” which was arguably the most personal song the band’s Millie Duthie had written to date. And although, last year had put everyone’s career plans and aspirations on hold, the Brighton-based JOVM mainstays had been busy working on their long-awaited and highly-anticipated full-length debut

The quartet’s latest single “Breathe” is their first single of 2021 — and is the first taste of their full-length debut, slated for release later this year. “Breathe” is an atmospheric yet dance floor friendly track featuring glistening synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, squiggling blasts of guitar, stuttering four-on-the-floor, Duthie’s ethereal yet plaintive vocals and an enormous hook. While the song sonically may remind some folks of When The Night-era St. Lucia, the song manages to be completely of this moment: Thematically, the song sees the band further exploring the idea that in a constantly connected world, we are paradoxically even more shut off from each other as individuals, evoking the profound and uneasy loneliness many of us have been struggling with. And unsurprisingly, the song captures our longing for the normalcy and real world interactions we can’t have right now while touching upon the fact that we will all get through this somehow. It may change us but we will get through.

“‘Breathe’ was written in the early hours of the morning. Eventually we chanced upon this really vibey atmospheric lick that you hear in the intro, and the whole song grew from there,” Thyla’s Millie Duthie recalls. “The song blossomed into a slightly melancholic dream-pop bop, it’s bittersweet and has a slightly inconclusive feeling to it; imagine a film where the main character never actually gets the happy ending you’ve been so long yearning for. The result of how the instrumental sounded no doubt manifested lyrics that held the same sentiment. The song is about loneliness, estrangement from family and close friends, yet despite this, feeling a sense of inner strength about the situation. It’s like recovering from a breakup and realising you’ve come out stronger, but a reflection of the scar tissue that resulted from the trauma.”

Directed by Joseph Daly, the recently released video for “Breathe” is a glittering yet intimate and hazy, 80s prom-inspired visual that captures the band in intimate and lonely moments, seemingly finding their own strength to continue onward — with the video turning into a sort of dance party for the lonely.

New Audio: Nation of Language Releases a Chilly ’80s Inspired Bop

Nation of Language is a Brooklyn-based synth pop trio — Ian Richard Devaney (vocals, guitars, percussion), Aidan Noell (synth, vocals) and Michael Sue-Poi (bass) — that can trace its origins back to 2016. At the time Devaney and Sue-Poi were members of The Static Joys, a band that became largely inactive after the release of their sophomore album. As the story goes, Devaney was inspired to start a new project after hearing OMD’s “Electricity,” a track he listened to in his childhood while in his father’s car.

What initially stated out as Devaney fooling around on a keyboard quickly evolved to Nation of Language with the addition of Noell and Sue-Poi. Between 2016 and 2019, the act released a handful of singles that helped them build up a fanbase locally and elsewhere. (Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site, you may recall that I caught them open for JOVM mainstays Still Corners a couple of years ago.)

The trio’s debut effort, last year’s Introduction, Presence was released to critical praise, landing on the Best Albums of 2020 lists for Rough Trade, KEXP, Paste, Stereogum, Under The Radar and PopMatters. Nation of Language capped off 2020 with a 7 inch single “A Different Kind of Light”/”Deliver Me From Wondering Why” — and to start off 2021, the rising Brooklyn-based synth pop trio recently released the 7 inch’s B side “Deliver Me From Wondering Why.”

“Deliver Me From Wonder Why” is chilly synth pop bop centered around repetitious and trance-inducing synth arpeggios and a persistent motorik groove that has a decidedly 80s vibe — in particular, you can’t help but think of A Flock of Seagulls, Simple Minds, and others. “‘Deliver Me From Wondering Why’ is a bit of an exploration, rooted in a desire for something repetitious and a bit spacey – something that would make you really want to zone out or go on a long drive on the highway,” Nation of Language’s Ian Richard Devaney says in press notes. “We worked with Nick Millhiser (Holy Ghost!) and it was just a really fun exercise in letting the track carry us wherever it was going to go. The backbone of the steady synth arpeggios and rhythms just leads endlessly forward and lets the mind wander around it.”

New Video: Pom Pom Squad Releases a David Lynch-like Cover of “Crimson + Clover”

Last year, I wrote a bit about the rising Brooklyn-based grunge rock/punk rock act Pom Pom Squad — Mia Berrin (vocals, guitar), Mari Ale Figeman (bass), Shelby Keller (drums) and Ethan Sass (guitar)  — and the act quickly became a local DIY scene staple for a modern take on the 90s grunge rock scene that find the band balancing solemnity and whimsy, old school punk aesthetics and emotional vulnerability in which they’ve dubbed Quiet Grrl punk. They’ve also developed and honed a raucous live show while sharing stages with the likes of Soccer Mommy, Adult Mom, Long Neck and others.

The Brooklyn-based act’s sophomore EP Ow was released last year to critical praised rom the likes of Stereogum, Paste, Under the Radar, Highsnobiety and Thrillist, and EP material received airplay on SiriusXM Alt Nation — and that shouldn’t be surprising: the band’s work is generally mosh pit friendly, power chord-driven rock paired with an unhinged, feral intensity reminiscent of Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

The band recently recorded a brooding and atmospheric,  David Lynch-like cover of Tommy James & The Shondells’ “Crimson + Clover” in honor of both Pride Month and to support Bandcamp’s Juneteenth fundraising campaign. “This year would have been my first Pride as an ‘out’ person,” Pom Pom Squad’s Mia Berrin explains in press notes. “It took me a long time to come to terms with my identity in a true and honest way, but I am proud to meet myself where I am now. This year, the idea of walking down a street proudly, in my queerness and in my brown skin, feels particularly difficult for a multitude of obvious reasons, but this song is my small celebration of the scary, complicated, empowering process of owning my black, queer identity.” Directed by Mia Berrin and Shelby Keller, the recently released video, much like the song was produced during quarantine is a sultry fever dream. 

Now. as you may recall Bandcamp donated their share of all sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Pom Pom Squad will be donating their share of all digital downloads to For the Gworls Medical Fund, a POC-led emergency medical relief medical fund that pays for black trans folks to travel to clinics and pharmacies during the pandemic, and provide co-pay assistance if needed, so that they can continue to receive necessary — and important — prescriptions. 

New Video: Tanners Releases a Disco-Inspired Visual for Glittering “Night Move”

Tanners is a somewhat mysterious and rising Brooklyn-based pop singer/songwriter and producer, who throughout her relatively young professional career has been driven by the urgent need to stand out from a crowded field of pop artists and really connect with listeners, by writing about mental health and other topics with a heartfelt earnestness. 

In the past year, the rising Brooklyn-based artist has played at Rough Trade and at The Playstation Theater for the annual TEDxTeen event — and she her music has been featured in a number of major media outlets. including NYLON, Earmilk, Stereogum, Rolling Stone France and a list of others. Building upon a growing profile, Tanners’ latest single, the dance floor friendly “Night Moves” is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, Nile Rodgers-like guitar, and a two-step including groove. And while seemingly indebted to 80s synth funk like Cherelle, Daft Punk and contemporaries like Rush Midnight, the track manages to have a dark underbelly: thematically, the song focuses on the feelings of regret and self-loathing that many people have had over the few months of quarantine for not being as productive as they should be. 

Employing a necessary DIY ethos as a result of of COVID, the recently released video stars Tanners as a character named Mother Disco, who performs the song inside a glittering disco ball, but adding to the 70s vibe are the some trippy kaleidoscopic effects in which we see three Tanners at a time.  “We threw ourselves into this music video with no prep, barely any gear, no storyboard or concept but we embraced the limitations and leaned into this kitschy, low-budget vibe,” said Tanners of the video inspired by The Cher Show. She continues, “For me, there’s nothing better than creating something that’s colorful and aesthetically pleasing and also makes you laugh at the same time.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Deal Casino Releases a Brooding Single Paired with Cinematically Shot Visuals

I’ve managed to spill a bit of virtual ink covering the Asbury Park, NJ-based indie rock band Deal Casino over the past couple of of years of this site’s almost ten year history. And as you may recall, the Southern New Jersey-based act — childhood friends Joe Parella (vocals), Jon Rodney (bass) and Joe Cowell (keys, guitar)  — formed back in 2013 and released a series of EPs before releasing 2017’s self-titled full-length debut to critical praise from Stereogum, New Noise and others. 

The members of Deal Casino released their sophomore album 2018’s LLC. And from album singles “Happy People,” and “Baby Teeth,” the JOVM mainstays managed to expand upon the sound, approach and thematic concerns that won them attention and praise across the blogosphere with the material walking a tight-rope between lo-fi bedroom recordings and studio polish while thematically focusing on living in a uncertain, horribly fucked up world.  Building upon a growing profile, the band has made appearances at Governor’s Ball, Firefly, Sea.Hear.Now., and The Front Bottoms’ Champagne Jam. Last year, they supported LLC through tours with The Wrecks, Badflower, The Happy Fits, The Parlor Mob and The Technicolors– and it included the band’s first European tour with the aforementioned Badflower. 

2020 began with the release of a cover of Frank Sinatra’s iconic “My Way,” a tour to build up buzz for their then-unreleased five song EP Woof and the release of the EP’s first single “Chicken Head.” Interestingly, while the single retains the hook-driven nature of the band’s previously released work, it reveals a decided change of sonic and thematic direction. Influenced by the members’ lifelong obsessions with Pixies and Radiohead, the material draws from the band’s experiences over the past two years. And as a result, the material may arguably be the most introspective they’ve written and released to date. Interestingly, “Chicken Head” is a slow-burning and brooding track centered around boom bap-like drums, buzzing guitars, atmospheric synths, Parella’s plaintive crooning and an enormous hook. In some way, the track — to me, at least — manages to evoke the uncertainty and unease of current moment, as well as the utter weirdness of being an artist at this juncture.

The recently released, cinematically shot video for “Chicken Head” features the members of the band in a classic, black convertible Oldsmobile with concert amps hooked up to the backseat, driving around suburban emptiness. At some point, we see the band goofing off and doing donuts in an empty parking lot. Of course, through the video, the members of the band look like the coolest dudes on the face of the earth.  

The band recently announced that they’ll be going on a Quarantour, in which they’ll team up with local bands to give fans a unique concert experience through Instagram Live. Of course, merch will be available to help support the bands in a difficult time — and there’ll be the option to donate to Feeding America. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Moaning Releases a Brooding and Introspective Single

Throughout the past handful of years of this site’s almost ten year history, I’ve managed to spill a lot of virtual ink covering rapidly rising Los Angeles-based post-punk trio and JOVM mainstays Moaning. Now, as you may recall the members of the band — ean Solomon (vocals, guitar), Pascal Stevenson (keys, bass) and Andrew MacKelvie (drums) — have been friends and collaborators in Los Angeles’ DIY scene for the better part of a decade through music and other creative pursuits in different media: Solomon is also a noted illustrator, art director and animator while Stevenson and MacKelvie have played in or produced and engineered acclaimed and rapidly rising acts like Cherry Glazerr, Sasami and Surf Curse.

With the release of 2018’s self-titled, full-length debut, the JOVM mainstays received attention from a number of nationally and internationally known media outlets including The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine, Stereogum, and others for a moody and angular post-punk sound that — to some ears — recalled the likes of Joy Division, Interpol and Preoccupations. The trio’s highly-anticipated Alex Newport-produced and  engineered sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is slated for release tomorrow through Sub Pop Records. Reportedly, the album is a much more collaborative effort than their self-titled debut, and the material find site band brightening the claustrophobic and uneasy sound of their debut a bit, by replacing guitars for synths and beats.

Thematically, the album focuses on the everyday anxieties of being a somewhat functioning human in the madness of our current century — with the material touching upon the deeply personal and the universal. “We’ve known each other forever and we’re really comfortable trying to express where we’re at. A lot of bands aren’t so close,” the band’s Andrew MacKelvie says in press notes. Sean Solomon, who celebrated a year of sobriety during the Uneasy Laughter sessions adds “Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they’re wrong. But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I’ve made.”

Over the past couple of months I’ve written about three of the album’s previously released singles: the brooding, 80s New Order-like single “Ego,” the cynical A Flock of Seagulls-like “Fall In Love,” and the bleak yet explosive, guitar-driven ripper “Make It Stop.” “Connect the Dots,” Uneasy Laughter’s fourth and latest single is a brooding and atmospheric track, centered around shimmering synths, a soaring hook, Solomon’s achingly plaintive vocals, squiggling blasts of guitar, and an angular and expressive guitar solo. And while continuing a run of New Wave-like material, “Connect the Dots” may arguably be the most personal and introspective songs of the album. “The song is about realizing you need help and being brave enough to ask for it. It’s a misconception that asking for help is a sign of weakness. In reality it’s one of the hardest things you can do,” the band’s Sean Solomon explains in press notes.

Directed by Campbell Logan, the recently released video for “Connect the Dots” uses some mind-bending computer animated graphics. “I created this video with the intention of inspiring self-forgiveness, something I think we should all practice,” Logan says. “Making it gave me the opportunity to practice an approach that I like to call Filmmaking Simulation, which is a process of doing film production using virtual cinematography, set design and performance. The result is photorealistic and mimics live action. We had an extremely quick turnaround on the video, but were able to complete it in a little over a month, and despite these hurdles I’m so proud of it!”