Tag: Still Corners

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Release an Upbeat and Optimistic New Bop

London-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have managed to bounce between chilly and atmospheric pop and shimmering guitar-driven, desert noir through the release of five albums: 2012’s Creatures of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures, 2016’s Dead Blue, 2018’s Slow Air and last year’s The Last Exit.

The Last Exit continued where its predecessor left off with 11 songs centered around shimmering and carefully crafted arrangements featuring organic instrumentation paired with Tessa Murray’s smoky crooning. Thematically, the album took the listener through a hypnotic and mesmerizing journey filled with dilapidated and long-abandoned towns, mysterious shapes appearing on the horizon and long trips that blur the lines between what’s there and not there.

Understandably, the album’s material was brought into further focus as a result of last year’s pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. “There’s always something at the end of the road and for us it was this album. Our plans were put on hold – an album set for release, tours, video shoots, travel,” Tessa Murray explained in press notes for the album. “We’d been touring nonstop for years, but we were forced to pause everything. We thought the album was finished but with the crisis found new inspiration and started writing again.” Three of the album’s songs — “Crying,” “Static,” and “‘Till We Meet Again” were written during this period and they reflect upon the profound impact of isolation and the human need for social contact and intimacy. 

Serving as the immediate follow-up to The Last Exit, the duo’s latest single “Heavy Days” is a propulsive and uptempo bop featuring twinkling synth arpeggios, a chugging motorik-like groove, shimmering Western-tinged guitars and a soaring hook paired with Murray’s imitable smoky vocals. Sonically “Heavy Days” finds the duo retaining the beloved elements of their overall sound — but while seemingly drawing from 80s pop.

Interestingly, despite the literal weight of it’s title “Heavy Days” may be the most optimistic and sunny song of the JOVM mainstays’ growing catalog. “Sometimes it all feels like too much, there’s a lot to take in reading the news all the time,” Still Corners’ Tessa Murray says in press notes. “We wanted to write a reminder to put the phone down now and again and get out there and live life to the fullest while you can.”

Formed back in 2018, the emerging Bangalore, India-based synth pop duo Us and I — Bidisha Kesh (vocals) and Guarav Govilkar (production) — features members who come from very different backgrounds, who bonded over the fact that they share similar musical sensibilities: As the story goes, when they started to work together, Kesh and Govlikar quickly realized that they shared a unique way of crafting songs with deeply personal lyrics paired with the melancholia of the orange and yellow colors leaking from the sounds of their synthesizers.

The duo spent the next two years developing and honing a sound that they believe will act as a bridge between the synth-driven work of Chromatics and the slow-burning, dream pop of Beach House — with subtle nods to darkwave and post-punk. Thematically, the duo’s material generally draws from everyday life and the relationships around them.

As a result of the pandemic, the Bangalore-based duo played a few online, live-at-home livestream sessions. which helped the band gain attention for their debut EP Loveless, which is slated for release later this month. Thematically, the EP’s material focuses on love — in particular a past love and how the nostalgia and grief of that love hits us like waves.

Loveless‘ fist single, “Fragile” is a perfect example of what listeners should expect from the Indian duo’s debut EP: deliberately crafted, textured pop centered around glistening synth arpeggios, sinuous bass lines, thumping beats and Kesh’s gorgeous vocals paired with the duo’s uncanny ability to craft a razor sharp hook. And while the duo claim Beach House and Chromatics as influences, “Fragile” sonically — to my ears, at least — reminds me of a bit of Dead Blue-era Still Corners. That shouldn’t be surprising as the material possess a similar aching nostalgia.

“While searching for a notebook one  afternoon, you suddenly chanced upon  that piece of memory you once shared  with the love of your life. The  erstwhile bittersweet memory which  you had comfortably kept away all  these years rushed back like a huge surf  wave. Curled in a world of fragility,  you hold on to it, reliving what is gone,” the duo say of the song and themes in press notes.

 

Lyric Video: Cincinnati’s Sungaze Releases a Lush and Anthemic New Single

Cincinnati-based dreamgaze married duo Sungaze — Ian Hilvert and Ivory Snow — can trace its origins back to rather humble origins as Hilvert’s solo recording project: After leaving his long-time gig in a metal band, Hilvert wanted to try his hand at writing more dreamy and introspective material. Snow initially joined the band as a temporary keyboardist, but as the act began to play more shows, her influence on the band grew, helping lead to stronger and more confident songwriting — and eventually to the couple writing much more collaboratively and sharing vocal duties. The end result is a unique sound and songwriting approach that mixes each individual member’s artistic influences and passions. Interestingly, their sound features elements of shoegaze, psych rock, dream pop and a tinge of twang.

Generally, their material is written from personal experience and thematically focuses on human nature, while occasionally touching upon the metaphysical and spiritual. But much of their inspiration comes from a sense of place and a desire to capture the landscapes and spaces they both find enchanting.

The Cincinnati-based duo’s full-length debut, 2019’s Light In All Of It was released to praise from The 405, Austin Town Hall, Cincinnati CityBeat and others. The album eventually landed at #91 on the North American College and Community Radio Charts (NACC), remaining on the charts for more than six consecutive weeks. Building upon a growing profile, Sungaze’s sophomore album This Dream is slated for an August 13, 2021 release.

This Dream’s second and latest single “Body In The Mirror” finds the duo further establishing their sound. Centered around lush layers of shimmering and jangling guitars, a rousingly anthemic hook and Snow’s breathy cooing, “Body In The Mirror” is a seamless synthesis of Slowdive-like shoegaze and Mazzy Star/Still Corners-like dream pop — but while lyrically and thematically focusing on the hard self-reckoning that many of us battled with during the height of the pandemic.

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.”

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Release a Hauntingly Gorgeous and Brooding New Single

London-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have managed to bounce between chilly and atmospheric pop and shimmering guitar-driven, desert noir through the release of four albums: 2012’s Creature of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures, 2016’s Dead Blue and 2018’s Slow Air.

The London-based JOVM mainstays’ fifth album The Last Exit is slated for release next Friday through the duo’s Wrecking Light Records. Sonically, the album reportedly continues where its predecessor Slow Air left off — 11 songs centered around shimmering and carefully crafted arrangements of organic instrumentation paired with Tessa Murray’s smoky crooning. Thematically, the album takes the listener of a hypnotic and mesmerizing journey filled with dilapidated and long-abandoned towns, mysterious shapes on the horizon and long trips that blur the lines between what’s there and not there. “We found something out there in the desert – something in the vast landscapes that went on forever,” Greg Hughes says in press notes.

Unsurprisingly, the album’s material was brought into further focus as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. “There’s always something at the end of the road and for us it was this album. Our plans were put on hold – an album set for release, tours, video shoots, travel,” Tessa Murray explains. “We’d been touring nonstop for years, but we were forced to pause everything. We thought the album was finished but with the crisis found new inspiration and started writing again.” Three of the album’s songs — “Crying,” “Static,” and “‘Till We Meet Again” were written during this period and they reflect upon the profound impact of isolation and the human need for social contact and intimacy.

Last year, I wrote about two of the album’s previously released singles:

“The Last Exit,” a cinematic track that sounds like it could have been part of the Slow Air sessions while nodding at Ennio Morricone soundtracks as it evokes large and indifferent skies and dusty, two-lane blacktop baking in the sun.
“Crying,” which was written during pandemic-related shutdowns and quarantines and captures the uncertainty, boredom, loneliness, heartache and regrets of not having much to do or anyplace to go — and obsessively neurotic self-examination inspired by those endless, lonely hours. And while continuing in the vein of Slow Air, the track also nods at Strange Pleasures.

“White Sands,” The Last Exit’s third and latest single is a classic, ghost story of a phantom who roams the dunes and desert highways for eternity, frightening travelers and drifters, who pass her. The track is a fittingly cinematic track centered around glistening atmospherics, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a rapid-fire beat paired with Murray’s wistful and achingly melancholy crooning. Much like the material on Slow Air, “White Sands” is a brooding yet breathtakingly gorgeous song that evokes long and silent drives through nothing much but your own thoughts and regrets.

The JOVM mainstays released a gorgeous and cinematic lyric video for “White Sands” shot in the desert, with Murray superimposed as a spectral vision just over the horizon. The visual also feature the song’s lyrics in English and translated in Spanish.

New Video: Austin’s Sun June Releases a Gorgeous Visual for Atmospheric New Single

Austin, TX-based indie rock act Sun June — founding members Laura Colwell and Stephen Salisbury with Michael Bain (guitar), Sarah Schultz (drums) and Justin Harris (bass) — can trace their origins to when its founding members started the band while they working long hours in director Terrence Malick’s editing rooms, and they would practice whenever Malick was out of town.

Sometime in 2017, they worked with Cross Record’s and Loma’s Dan Duszynski and fellow Malick album and Sleep Good’s Will Paterson on their first set of demos before eventually settling on their current lineup. While working on their Evan Kaspar-produced full-length debut, 2018’s Years at Estuary Recording Facility, the members of the band caught the attention of Keeled Scales Records‘ label head Tony Presley, who lived above the studio and signed the band.

Recorded live to tape without overdubs or any other processing, Years as the band explained in press notes was a “we’ve-been-a-broken-up-a-long-time” album with the material exploring how loss — of friends, family members and even partners — evolves over time, and how one deals with it, but while not being too heavy or serious.

Sun June’s sophomore album Somewhere reportedly showcases a gentle but pronounced maturation of the band’s sound, while featuring 11 songs that bristle with love and longing. The album’s third and latest single, “Bad Girl” is slow-burning and cinematic bit of dream pop centered around shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths and Colwell’s tender vocals. While sonically bringing Slow Air-era Still Corners and others to mind, the song longingly looks back on the freedom and carefree nature of youth with a simultaneous sepia-tinged nostalgia and the perspective gained from getting older.

“Bad Girl is about a deep manic drive to regress into the person I used to be — back when being bad was cool and being cool was everything,” Sun June’s Laura Colwell explains. “I was given a lot of freedom as a teenager and always took advantage of it. After I lost a good friend in high school, my fear of death was overwhelming. The song reflects on how that fear combined with my own thrill-seeking affected my decisions since. It cycles through self-destructive choices I’ve made in relationships to avoid responsibility, and how my fear of loss has lead me down some dumb paths. The tone is sad and resigned, but also self-righteous somehow.

“There’s something pushing and pulling between the lyrics and the beat, so we thought a dance video might draw out some internal tension,” adds Colwell, about the recently released video. “We filmed around Lockhart, TX, where we recorded the album, because there are so many farms and fields out there that are unchanged despite the area’s growth. We took some inspiration from films like Blood Simple and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, which were also shot in rural towns just outside of Austin. Basically, we tried to channel Frances McDormand, Willie Nelson, and Haim (if Haim were an only child).

Somewhere is slated for a February 5, 2021 through Run For Cover and Keeled Scales.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Release Eerie and Cinematic Visual for Shimmering “The Last Exit”

Through the release of 2012’s Creature of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures, 2016’s Dead Blue and 2018’s Slow Air, the London-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have sonically bounced between chilly and atmospheric synth pop and shimmering guitar-driven desert noir.

Slated for a January 22, 2021 release through Wrecking Ball Records, the London-based JOVM mainstays’ fifth album The Last Exit sonically continues where its predecessor Slow Air left off — 11 songs centered around shimmering and carefully crafted arrangements of organic instrumentation and Tessa Murray’s smoky crooning. Thematically, The Last Exit takes the listener on a hypnotic journey filled with dilapidated and abandoned towns, mysterious shapes on the horizon and long trips that blur the line between what’s there and not there. “We found something out there in the desert – something in the vast landscapes that went on forever,” Greg Hughes says in press notes.

Interestingly, the album was brought into further focus as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. “There’s always something at the end of the road and for us it was this album. Our plans were put on hold – an album set for release, tours, video shoots, travel,” Tessa Murray explains. “We’d been touring nonstop for years, but we were forced to pause everything. We thought the album was finished but with the crisis found new inspiration and started writing again.” Three of the album’s songs — “Crying,” “Static,” and “‘Till We Meet Again” were written during this period and they reflect upon the profound impact of isolation and the human need for social contact and intimacy.

The Last Exit’s first single, album title track “The Last Exit” is centered around a cinematic arrangement that evokes large, indifferent skies, dusty two-laned blacktop — twinkling keys, subtle blasts of shimmering steel pedal and harmonica, jangling guitar and a galloping beat paired with Murray’s gorgeous vocals and a soaring hook. And while sounding as though it could have been part of the Slow Air sessions, “The Last Exit,” manages to find the duo subtly pushing their sound towards the direction of an Ennio Morricone soundtrack.

Thematically, the song makes a subtle nod to classic Delta Blues, as its exhausted narrator inexplicably feels compelled to inexplicably get in her car and hit the road — without any particular destination in mind. And while written as a sort of love letter to the lover, she’s left behind, the song can also be read as a slow-burning, journey into purgatory.

Directed by the band’s Greg Hughes. the recently released video for “The Last Exit” is the last portion of the duo’s Road Trilogy, following the videos for “The Trip” and “The Message.” Inspired by the 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock, the video begins with Murray abandoning her stalled car and being pulled into the mysterious rocks of Joshua Tree. “In a world where everyone thinks all the corners of the map are filled in we like to suggest there’s something beyond that, something eternal in the landscape and in our psyche,” Tessa Murray explains. “Maybe you don’t see it every day but it’s there and that’s what we are trying to connect to.”

Sam Valdez · Clean

Sam Valdez is a rising,  Nevada-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who specializes in an immersive and cinematic sound that draws from elements of shoegaze, Americana, indie rock and pop that’s largely informed by her childhood growing up in the Nevada desert and her formative musical experiences as a child violinist: her work is generally centered around atmospheric and dreamy textures, abstract yet deeply emotive lyrics and classical-inspired arrangements.

So far Valdez’s work has received praise from the likes of Clash Magazine, Consequence of Sound and Earmilk— and she has received regular rotation from KCRW. Adding to a growing profile,  Valdez has opened for Stella Donnelly, Cayucas and Giant Rocks among others.

“Clean,” Valdez’s latest single is a slow-burning, brooding and atmospheric track centered around reverb-drenched guitar, gently padded guitars, a soaring hook and Valdez’s achingly plaintive vocals. And while bearing a resemblance to Slow Air-era Still Corners, the track is a subtle twist on the prototypical love song. “‘Clean is a love song in a way but it’s more about being drawn to self-destruction,” Valdez says. “It’s about finding comfort in uncertainty and appreciating the darker qualities in someone as well as the good.”

 

 

New Video: Rising Aussie Indie Act Poppongene Returns with a Stop-Motion Animated Visual for Tense and Jagged “Don’t Even Know”

Over the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the rapidly rising  Bryon Bay, Australia-born, Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter and multi-disciplinary artist and JOVM mainstay Sophie Treloar, best known as the creative mastermind behind Poppongene, an Aussie dream pop project that finds Treloar performing both as a solo artist and as a full-fledged band featuring Skube Burnell, Gemma Helms, Justin Kuchel and Deanna Ramsey. Between 2016 and 2017, Treloar released three critically applauded singles in her native  Australia “Do It, Girl,” “Belgravey,” and “Esky” — and as a result of the growing buzz surrounding the project, Treloar and company opened for a handful internationally acclaimed acts during their Aussie tours, including  Lucy Dacus, Weyes Blood and Slow Dancer.

Now, as you may recall, Treloar’s Tim Harvey-produced EP Futures Unsure, which is slated for a July 3, 2020 release through Our Golden Friend reportedly marks a distinct step forward in the rising Aussie singer/songwriter’s artistic, musical and personal development: the material generally represents Treloar closing a difficult but rewarding chapter in her personal life, in which she comes to terms and embraces her identity as a queer woman. So far I’ve written about two of the EP’s latest singles, the shimmering and slow-burning, Still Corners-like “Not Wrong” and the ironic and jangling guitar pop ode to doing complacence and effortless hook ups, “Eternally Alone.” The EP’s fourth and latest single “Don’t Even Know” is centered around jagged guitar stabs, a propulsive rhythm section, Treloar’s plaintive yet punchily delivered lyrics, and a razor sharp hook. Although the single may be the most anxious and uneasy single the rising Aussie JOVM mainstay has released to date, it’s inspired by deeply personal experience: “‘Don’t Even Know’ was written in the midst of a relationship breakdown,” Treloar explains in press notes. “It follows the subtle observations of change and disconnection. It’s punchy and direct, both lyrically and tonally. I distinctly remember feeling particularly irked when I wrote this song, a feeling which translates suitably. It feels like a small step away from the usual dreamy nature of my music which is a refreshing change.”

Directed and animated by Carolyn Hawkins, the recently released video for “Don’t Even Know” features painstaking stop-motion animation using handcrafted from materials in Hawkins’ own home, and filmed  over many hours during Quarantine isolation. Throughout the video, evokes several different tensions happening simultaneously — human relationships, the relationship between the country and the city and how they shift and morph seemingly at will. “Being quite a labour-intensive technique, it was the perfect all-consuming iso project… The materials I used to create my hand cut elements came from sources I already had around the house, such as coloured card, wrapping paper, and an old book entitled The Earth and Its History,” the video’s director explains in press notes. “[Poppongene] and I spent a bit of time brainstorming and coming up with some imagery that related to the song, centering around the tensions between nature and the city, geological shifts, and how these things can act as visual metaphors for the changing nature of relationships.”

Starlight Girls · Teenage Crime

Brooklyn-based indie rock act Starlight Girls can trace their origins back to 2011, when Christina Bernard (vocals), an Ohio-born megachurch chorister turned rocker and Shaw Walters (guitar), a San Francisco-born, guitar savant and tech wizard met and decided to start a band. Bernard and Walters found their bandmates — Sara Mundy (keys) and Isabel Alvarez (backing vocals), two Long Island-born theater junkies, Tysen Arveson (bass), a Seattle-born, Hawaii-raised art freak and Josh Davis (drums), a University of Michigan educated jazz drummer through Craigslist.

The band initially emerged into the public eye through a wildly successful April Fool’s prank: they recorded an impression of acclaimed artist Joanna Newsom covering one of their songs and a handful of blogs took the bait, covering the song with rapturous praise. Unsurprisingly, as a result, Starlight Girls quickly became a buzz worthy band, eventually releasing an EP that they supported with a handful of national tours — including an opening slot for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Building upon a growing profile, the Brooklyn-based at played one of Europe’s biggest festivals, and they followed that up with their noisy and attention-grabbing Jamie Stewart-produced 7 x 3 EP.

2016 saw the release of their enigmatic and cinematic, full-length debut Fantasm, which they supported through tours with an eclectic array of artists including Kate Nash, St. Lucia, Tilly and the Wall, Nick Waterhouse, Total Slacker, Crystal Fighters and Lucius. Since then, the members of the band have ventured outside of music and outside of Brooklyn in a variety of different creative projects: Christina Bernard has delved into film and directing, directing a self-penned short film shot in California, which will be released later this year. Shaw Walters has become a rising star in the tech world, traveling around the world creating holographic augmented reality projects for performers and artists, including a mixed-reality collaboration with acclaimed artist Marina AbramovićThe Life, which has become a lightning rod for alt-right conspiracy theorists. The rest of the band has continued to solider on as musicians, during what may be the most difficult time for artists and creatives in recent memory.

Interestingly the band’s Christina Bernard-produced EP Entitled was recorded at Upstate New York-based Marcata Recording— and the material is a dark yet upbeat come-on to an unknowable future while evoking a sexy freak-out from the edge of oblivion. That sounds and feels familiar, doesn’t it? Last month, I wrote about Entitled‘s expansive first single “Get Right,” a kaleidoscopic and cinematic track that possesses elements of shoegaze, art rock, goth rock, psych rock and 70s AM rock — all while being one of the sexiest songs they’ve released to date.

“Teenage Crime,” Entitled‘s second and latest single is a slow-burning and atmospheric single centered around reverb and pedal effected guitars, twinkling keys and a soaring hook — and while reminding me a bit of Slow Air-era Still Corners and Stevie Nicks, the track’s lyrical themes, as the band’s Christina Bernard explains touches upon spiritual exploration, hope for the future and reconciling the past.

“As far as songwriting goes, most of the music came together spontaneously during rehearsals,” Bernard says of the EP’s creative process. “There was a lot of change happening for us around the time we wrote it—a lot of times when we played we didn’t know when our next time playing together might be. So the energy was insane every time we played.

“We’d gotten really in sync as a band through playing live so much, so someone would pull a riff out of the air in rehearsal and we’d just run with it full speed for four minutes and that would be the song. I’d always record rehearsals in case magic happened, and it did a lot. Then I would write lyrics (if I hadn’t already written them on the spot) and later we’d recreate what we’d played.

The only song that didn’t happen that way was Teenage Crime, which I wrote one night in my room. The guys in the band hated it at first because it’s like the slowest thing we do. But when we played it live all the ladies started swaying and I think that’s when everyone changed their minds.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our influences are hard to pin down. We all listen to really different music and I can’t remember what we were each into while recording. I personally was out dancing a lot to some pretty out there international drum circles. I was getting into the idea of music as a ceremonial thing—repetitive and rhythmic and visceral—so I was influenced by that, and how those ideas would translate to rock.