Tag: Stereogum

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!”

New Audio: Philly’s Control Top Releases the Anthemic Single We All Need Now

With the release of their full-length debut Covert Contracts, the Philadelphia-based post-punk trio Control Top — Ali Carter (vocals, bass), Al Creedon (guitar, sampler) and Alex Lichtenauer (drums) — exploded into the national scene: their debut landed on the Top Albums of 2019 lists of NPR, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Stereogum, Bandcamp Daily, Highsnobiety and others. and they were featured on Pitchfork Rising. 

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the band’s latest single — the first bit of new material from the band this year, “One Good Day” is an anthemic and decidedly pop-leaning take on post-punk that’s energetic and much more optimistic while retaining the explosive guitar work, propulsive bass lines and thunderous drumming of their previously released work. Sonically, the song is like a seamless synthesis of The Go-Gos and Gang of Four. And although the band couldn’t have anticipated, the song’s “we can get through this together” air is absolutely necessary right now. 

Control Top on “One Good Day”:

Alex Lichtenauer: “I’m grateful to be part of the growth of this project and see how it unfolds. Music should constantly evolve, and I think our progression as both musicians and people really shows in this song. We stepped out of our comfort zone and came up with a pop song that has more optimistic elements than our debut album. A band’s first album usually sets the tone for how they are going to sound, but that can get redundant. With this song, we stayed true to our punk background while also creating something new.”

Al Creedon: “‘One Good Day’ started as a rough sketch I made one day in the midst of cleaning our practice space. I brought it to the group and together we continued to evolve it well into the recording process. I had been listening to a lot of disco, particularly the Bee Gees. They are a band everyone claims to hate, so naturally the contrarian in me wanted to give them a chance. I got hooked immediately.

For ‘One Good Day’, I started with the idea of a back and forth between a syncopated verse in the vein of the Bee Gees’ ‘You Should Be Dancing’ and a driving chorus akin to some of our other songs. Guitar and bass weave in and out of each other, while the drums act as gravity holding the notes together. Ali wrote an ambitious pop vocal melody that really glued it all together. The three of us keep pushing ourselves to execute these types of ideas where all musical elements lean on each other for support. Take away one element and the song instantly loses all sense of cohesion.

I’ve started to incorporate my sampler more and more as we write our next record. On this song, I use it most prominently in the bridge to sample and effect both my guitar and Ali’s voice. I’m a big fan of the way Ichiro Agata from Melt Banana uses effects, and here I was able to apply my own take on his glitchy style. The sampler is also used subtly in the choruses. I sample myself during the verse and then run a small slice of that sample through pitch automation to create something that functions as a rhythm guitar part in the chorus.”

Ali Carter: “When Al showed us the beginnings of this song, I was instantly hooked by its upbeat feel. I set out to write a pop vocal melody with a positive message that didn’t sound trite, which is harder said than done. I ended up with ‘One Good Day,’ a song about about a few things: facing your flaws to become a better person for yourself and the people around you, getting outside of yourself to realize everyone has their own struggles and are doing the best they can, and above all trying to help each other even if what we do is imperfect.

Some problems we inherit, like mental health or substance abuse issues, and some problems stem from our environment, like home or working conditions. Some problems are individual and some problems are systemic, the product of entrenched social structures that favor one group over another. Whatever the cause, they are ours to deal with, and they will continue to disrupt our lives until we work through them. Problems are persistent and won’t let you ignore them for long. They can also be the greatest teachers. It is worthwhile to listen to them.

As frustrating as they can be, our problems–personal, local and global–bind us together. Many of us are facing very similar issues. We can’t solve all our problems alone. We depend on one another for support, but we can’t help each other if we can’t help ourselves. If we can show ourselves compassion, overcome shame and self-hate and allow ourselves to grow into the people we want to be, we can also develop empathy for one another. Cynicism is a coping mechanism of avoidance. It is difficult to be vulnerable, but it is the only way to access love.

This song feels especially relevant right now. We’re in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis with the coronavirus outbreak. Our lives have been completely suspended. We are forced to consider not only how we affect others but also how others affect us. In no uncertain terms, we see how much we depend on each other every day to survive. Workers in hospitals, pharmacies, groceries, waste management and more are working tirelessly to provide for their communities. The choice to self-quarantine is an act of self-protection as well as an act of kindness toward others who would be endangered by the disease.

People can’t go to work or leave their homes. All we can do is try to keep calm and make the best of this situation. What have we been missing due to the constant motion of our daily lives that we can return to in this period of stillness? Connection with friends and loved ones? Activities that make us happy? Deep spiritual reflection? How can we bring balance to this bleak landscape? Perhaps we take a cue from the people of Italy currently under lockdown, singing from their balconies to share a moment of joy in a moment of anxiety.

The fact is, we’re in this state of collective uncertainty and panic because our government has failed to act and communicate information in a timely and appropriate manner. It’s clear now more than ever that we need a president like Bernie Sanders who puts the needs of the American people above Wall Street bailouts, makes sure every single person gets quality healthcare and understands that our problems are not isolated or disconnected.”

Like countless touring bands across the world, most of the rising Philadelphia-based post-punk act’s upcoming dates are being rescheduled, but at the moment they’re still slated to play Calgary’s Sled Island Festival in June.

Lyric Video: Moaning Releases an Angular and Uneasy Ripper

Over the past couple of years of this site’s almost ten year history — yeah, 10 years, y’all! — I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the rapidly rising Los Angeles-based post-punk trio Moaning.  The members of the band —  Sean 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 members of Moaning 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. Now, as you may recall, the trio’s highly-anticipated Alex Newport-produced and  engineered sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is slated for a March 20, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records. The album is reportedly a much more collaborative effort than its immediate predecessor, that finds the band actively brightening the claustrophobia and uneasy sound of their debut, with the band trading 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.”

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s released singles: the brooding, 80s New Order-like single “Ego,” which featured a desperate narrator taking stock of himself and his relationships to others with a brutally unflinching honesty — and the cynical  A Flock of Seagulls-like “Fall In Love,” which featured a dysfunctional narrator, who’s ruled by distortions, self-loathing and the expectations of failure. Interestingly, Uneasy Laughter’s third and latest single is the explosive, guitar-driven ripper “Make It Stop.”  Centered around angular and distorted power chords, an enormous hook and propulsive drumming, the track features a depressed narrator, who’s stuck within his own obsessive compulsive thoughts and can’t seem to find a way out from himself and his own worst instincts.  Certainly, if  you’ve ever been in the throes of depression, the song would feel eerily familiar, evoking the dark and fucked up places your mind can go when things seem bleak. 

“The song is about questioning negative thoughts, but struggling to find a solution. Being stuck in your head,” Moaning’s Sean Solomon says in press notes about the song. “There was a period of time where I thought everyone hated me and was out to get me. Now, I realize no one actually is putting that much energy into thinking about me at all. Depression can be extremely narcissistic. I encourage people, who relate to this song to call someone and ask for help.” 

Directed by the band, the recently released video features an enormous collage the band made. “The whole band made a collage for the video. It was really fun piecing different elements together,” Solomon explains in press notes. “We’ve also added  some extra surprises. The dimensions of the collage are 1920 by 40,000 pixels. It’s a big ass thing!”

New Video: Moaning Releases a Psychedelic, ’80s Inspired, Valentine’s Day Themed, Animated Visual for “Fall In Love”

A couple of years ago, I managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based indie rock/post punk trio Moaning.  The members of the band —  Sean 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.

Now, as you may recall, with the release of 2018’s self-titled, full-length debut, the members of Moaning 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 seemed to recall Joy Division, Interpol and Preoccupations. Slated for a March 20, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, the Los Angeles-based trio’s highly-anticipated Alex Newport-produced and engineered sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is a much more collaborative effort than its predecessor, an effort that finds the band actively brightening the claustrophobic and uneasy sound that won them attention by trading 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 personal and 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.”

Last month, I wrote about Uneasy Laughter’s first single, the brooding “Ego.” Centered around shimmering synth, a soaring hook and a blistering guitar solo, the song found the band’s sound boldly and confidently moving in the direction of early 80s New Order. Thematically speaking, the song’s narrator desperately takes stock of himself and his relationships to others with a brutally unflinching honesty. The album’s second and latest single “Fall In Love” is centered around propulsive and forceful drumming, shimmering synth arpeggios, Solomon’s ironically detached vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Flock of Seagulls, the aforementioned New Order and others, the track is a skeptical — if not overtly cynical — take on love and romantic relationships, while featuring a narrator, who has a distorted and self-loathing view of themselves. 

“People my age are skeptical of love because we see how many previous generations got divorced or went through painful experiences,” the band’s Sean Solomon says in press notes. “The song is about being afraid to fall in love because of expecting heartbreak. it’s about hating yourself too much to open yourself up to someone else. It’s a bummer of a song lyrically, but it’s pretty fun to dance to!”

Directed by the band’s Sean Solomon with additional animation by Sarah Schmidt, the recently released video is a psychedelic and fever dream-like depiction of a romance between two young people that seems doomed to fail. “I made the music video in my bedroom a couple of weeks ago,” Solomon recalls in press notes. “It’s a psychedelic depiction of an imaginary romance. It’s inspired by early experimental animations like Belladonna of Sadness and Heavy Metal. Both the song and the video are perfect for everyone feeling like shit this Valentine’s Day.” 

New Video: Moaning Release’s a Surreal and Uneasy Visual for “Ego”

Back in 2018, I spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based indie rock/post punk trio Moaning.  Comprised of Sean Solomon (vocals, guitar), Pascal Stevenson (keys, bass) and Andrew MacKelvie (drums), the members of Moaning 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 Los Angeles-based trio 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 seemed to recall Joy Division, Interpol and Preoccupations. Building upon the success of their self-titled debut, the trio’s long-awaited sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is slated for a March 20. 2020 release through Sub Pop Records. Interestingly, Moaning’s Alex Newport-produced and engineered sophomore album is a more collaborative effort that finds the members of the band brightening the claustrophobic and uneasy sound that first won them attention — mainly through trading guitars for synths and beats. Thematically, the album focuses on the everyday anxieties of being a somewhat function human in the madness that’s this current century — with the material touching upon the personal and 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.” 

Uneasy Laughter’s first single, the brooding “Ego” will further cement the trio’s long-held reputation for crafting moody material — and while featuring guitars during a blistering solo, the song is primarily centered around shimmering synths and a soaring hook. Although “Ego” finds the band’s sound boldly moving in the direction of say, 80s New Order, the song thematically finds its narrator desperately taking stock of himself and his relationships to others with an unflinching honesty. Interestingly, the initial demo was slower and was written in what the band’s Stevenson calls “a strange time signature,” which at the time stymied Solomon’s attempt to write vocal melodies. Borrowing a MacKelvie drumbeat from a demo of a different song, Stevenson found that it fit his original song perfectly. The track was fleshed out further in practices and through passing demos back and forth, with the result “perfectly capturing every idea we wanted to play with,” says MacKelvie. “I don’t think we would have been able to approach writing a song that way before,” adds Stevenson. “We purposely avoided the impulse to add guitars to everything, letting the melodies of the synth and vocals be the focus. We wanted to embrace the songs ability to slip between genre lines.

“The lyrics are about letting go of your own bullshit to help other people. Wanting to love yourself to love others. The ego can make you feel like you’re the greatest person in the world or the worst.” stated vocalist Sean Solomon. It makes you think your problems are abnormally different which is isolating and rarely true. The song is a reminder that listening to other perspectives is important and beneficial to both parties involved.”

Directed by Ambar Navarro, the recently released video for “Ego” features the members of the band in a variety of different costumes — but at its core, the video’s protagonist takes stock of himself, his life and how he relates to others.