Tag: Sub Pop Records

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Shabazz Palaces Return with a Lysergic and Hypnotic Visuals for Futuristic “Chocolate Soufflé

Since the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, 2011’s Black Up, the Seattle-based act Shabazz Palaces — emcee and producer Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire — have managed to continue Butler’s relentless desire to reimagine what hip hop should and could sound like while boldly proving that they’re the heirs to the astral imaginations of Sun Ra, George Clinton, Octavia Butler and Alice Coltrane. Interestingly, as a result, Butler has collaborated with an eclectic collection of like-minded, critically applauded and forward-thinking experimentalist including Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Battles, Animal Collective, Clipping. and others — and he has toured with the likes of Radiohead and Lauryn Hill.

Now. as you may recall, the act’s forthcoming Don of Diamond Dreams is slated for an April 17, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, and the album is reportedly a sort of futuristic manifestation of ancient myth, featuring robotic and vocodered vocals, warped auto-tune and alien-like synthesizers while drums speak the universal language. The end result is material that meshes and blurs the lines between hip-hop, dub, soul, funk, Afro-pop, experimental and ambient music and even pop. And although their forthcoming album continues a prolific run of meticulously constructed albums, its creation and creative process was centered around improvisation and instinct, balancing the cerebral with the automatic: Butler would jot down phrases and ideas on his phone and eventually started to shape them into amorphous, abstract and expressionistic verses. 

Some of the album’s material is shaped by Butler’s reflection on being a parent and watching his son Jazz receive international renown as the rapidly rising artist Lil Tracy. There’s  interplay between father and son, with Butler absorbing the sound of today but filtered through his own unique, fractured lens, freestyling with the wisdom and experience of age — and the passion of someone, who believes (and knows) that he still has something to prove to those youngins. And while as self-assured and as confident as ever, the album captures an act boldly attempting something new.

Earlier this month, I wrote about “Fast Learner,” the album’s glittering and thumping first single. Featuring a prominent guest spot from Purple Tape Nate, the track was centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling and tumbling bass lines and heavily vocodered and reverb-drenched vocals, the track is a lysergic-tinged and semi-retrofuturistic take on trap that’s continues the duo’s forward-thinking 37th century hanging out around Juptier’s rings in a badass spaceship take on hip-hop. “Chocolate Soufflé,” Don of Diamond Dreams’ second and latest single is another lysergic and 37th century take on synth funk and trap centered around shuffling beats, glistening and wobbling synths paired with Butler’s wildly inventive and complex wordplay. 

Directed by David Shields and James Nugent, the equally lysergic and retro-futuristic visuals for “Chocolate Soufflé” features a series of trippy video collages created by David Shields, James Nugent and Ishmael Butler, Snapchat and Instagram-filtered footage of Butler. Much like the accompanying track, the visuals take you into a different universe — one full of wild possibilities. 

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Corridor on KEXP

Over the past year or so, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the acclaimed and rising Montreal-based indie rock act Corridor. The French-Canadian JOVM mainstay act, which currently features longtime friends and collaborators Dominic Berthiaume (vocals/bass) and Jonathan Robert (vocals/guitar/synths) along with Julian Perreault (guitar), Julien Bakvis (drums) and the band’s newest member Samuel Gougoux exploded across the Francophone world and elsewhere with 2017’s sophomore album Supermercado, which received glowing praise from from NPR and Vice, who referred to the album as “the best French record of 2017, 2018, 2018, 2019, 2020 2021 and even 2022 .  . . ”

Building upon a growing profile, the band signed to Sub Pop Records, who released their third album, last year’s excellent Junior, making the band the first Francophone act ever on the world renowned label. Continuing their ongoing and highly successful collaboration with their friend, producer (and occasional roommate) Emmanuel Ethier, the album found the band jettisoning the languorous creative process of its predecessors — out of inspired necessity.  Although the members of the band had only just signed to their new label home at the time, they had firmly committed themselves to releasing a new album worth of material every two years. And the band fully intended on fulfilling their long-held commitment. Naturally, when the folks at Sub Pop were informed of this, they gently warned the band that if they wanted to release new material that fall, they needed to send the label a completed album by early May.

With the ink barely dried on the finalized record contract, the band rushed into the studio and recorded Junior in an inspired and breakneck blitz, finishing the album in mid-April: Six of the album’s 10 songs were conceived in a single weekend — with the album closer “Bang” being written the night before they were to start recording sessions. Reportedly, Corridor’s Jonathan Robert wrote that song’s lyrics while panicking over the possibility of not being able to properly finished what they started.

Because of the quickened nature of the Junior sessions, the material features fewer expansive jams and less reliance on overdubs. Even the album’s artwork managed to come about in the nick of time. In spite of other more meticulous and gorgeous artwork they received as potential album art, Robert’s “shitty last minute” collage of an egg saying hello was the one his bandmates wound up approving.  “Part of the beauty of the thing is that we didn’t have time to think about it,” the band’s Berthiaume says of the Junior recording sessions.

Album tracks like Topographe,” “Pow,” album title track “Junior” “Goldie” and Domino” manage to reveal a wide range of influences: a bit of post-punk here, a little bit of XTC over there, a little bit of The Beatles, a dash of The Beach Boys here and so on. And with some deft craftsmanship and musicianship, they manage to whimsically and mischievously create something novel out of the familiar.

Late last year, the Montreal-based JOVM mainstays went on a West Coast tour, and during their tour they made a stop at Seattle’s KEXP where they performed songs off Junior in one of the better live sessions I’ve seen in some time — and it the session included “Agent Double,” the gorgeous krautrock-like album title track “Junior’ (one of my favorite tracks on the album), the brooding “Grand Cheval” and the explosive and jam-based “Domino.” Of course, like most of the KEXP sessions, there’s a playful  interview with the band, in which they reveal that the album and its title is a loving homage to their guitarist and friend Julien Perreault. They also talk a bit about the band’s formation and their creative process — while touching upon how they came about their unique sound. It’s a fascinating look into a band that personally has stolen my heart quite a bit. 

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 Video: Shabazz Palaces’ Gorgeous and Hallucinogenic Visual for “Fast Learner”

Since the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, 2011’s Black Up, the Seattle-based act Shabazz Palaces — emcee and producer Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire — have managed to boldly continue Butler’s relentless desire to reimagine hip-hop and to boldly expand the possibilities of sound while proving that they’re the heirs to the astral imaginations of Sun Ra, George Clinton, Octavia Butler and Alice Coltrane. As a result Butler has collaborated with like-minded, critically applauded experimentalists including Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Battles, Animal Collective, Clipping and others — and he has toured with the likes of Radiohead and Lauryn Hill.

Slated for an April 17, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, Shabazz Palaces’ forthcoming album Don of Diamond Dreams is reportedly a sort of futuristic manifestation of ancient myth, featuring robotic and vocodered vocals, warped auto-tune, alien-like synthesizers — but with drums speaking a universal language, as the material’s overall sound meshes and blurs the lines between hip-hop, dub, soul, funk, African, experimental and occasionally even pop.

Although their fifth album continues a prolific run of meticulously constructed albums, its creation was centered around instinct and improvisation, being both cerebral and automatic with Butler jotting down phrases and ideas in his phone and eventually shaping them into amorphous, abstract and expressionistic verses. Interestingly, some of the material is shaped by Butler’s reflections on being a parent and watching his son, Jazz become internationally renowned as the rapidly rising artist Lil Tracy. There’s interplay between father as son, with Butler absorbing the sounds of today’s youth, but filtering it through his own fractured lens, spitting complex rhyme schemes with wild cadences and wordplay, freestyling with the wisdom and experience of age and the passion of someone, who believes that he has something to prove. And while as self-assured and as confident as ever, the album captures an act boldly attempting something new.

Don of Diamond Dreams‘ first single is the glittering and thumping “Fast Learner.” Featuring a prominent guest spot from Purple Tape Nate, the track is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling and tumbling bass lines and heavily vocodered and reverb-drenched vocals, the track is a lysergic-tinged and semi-retrofuturistic take on trap that’s one-part slow-burning and atmospheric R&B, one-part surrealistic, art pop, one part golden era hip-hop. And while sounding unlike anything else in their growing catalog, the song does manage to further cement the duo’s forward-thinking, 37th century hanging out around Jupiter’s rings in a badass spaceship take on hip-hop.

Directed by Stephan Gray, the recently released video for “Fast Leaner” is a gorgeously shot, hallucinogenic-fueled take on the prototypical hip-hop video that’s one part Italian art film, one part trap shit, one part street shit, shot at dusk and at night in various locations, including the desert, the studio, the streets, artist-like lofts. If this the sound and look  of our soon-to-be dystopian future in which our society collapses, the poor get sick and the rich get richer, then it fucking slaps. 

New Video: Corridor’s Surreal and Psychedelic, Chad VanGaalen-Animated Visuals for “Grand cheval”

Over the better part of the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the rapidly rising Montreal-based indie rock act Corridor. And as you may recall, the French Canadian act, which currently features longtime friends and collaborators Dominic Berthiaume (vocals/bass) and Jonathan Robert (vocals/guitar/synths) along with Julian Perreault (guitar), Julien Bakvis (drums) and the band’s newest member Samuel Gougoux first received attention across the Francophone world and elsewhere with 2017’s sophomore album Supermercado, which glowing received praise from NPR and Vice, who referred to the album as “the best French record of 2017, 2018, 2018, 2019, 2020 2021 and even 2022 .  . . ”

Corridor spent the following year touring across Europe with stops at London Calling Festival and La Villete Sonique Festival, and the States with appearances at SXSW and Northside Festival. They followed that up by touring with Crumb on a sold-out Stateside tour.

Building upon a growing profile, the band signed to Sub Pop Records, who released their third album, last year’s Junior, making the band the first Francophone act ever on the world renowned label. While continuing their ongoing and highly successful collaboration with their friend, producer (and occasional roommate) Emmanuel Ethier, the album found the band jettisoning the languorous creative process of its predecessors — out of inspired necessity.  Although the members of the band had only just signed to their new label home at the time, they had firmly committed themselves to releasing a new album worth of material every two years. And the band fully intended on fulfilling their long-held commitment. Naturally, when the folks at Sub Pop were informed of this, they gently warned the band that if they wanted to release new material that fall, they needed to send the label a completed album by early May.

With the ink barely dried on the finalized record contract, the band rushed into the studio and recorded Junior in an inspired and breakneck blitz, finishing the album in mid-April: Six of the album’s 10 songs were conceived in a single weekend — with the album closer “Bang” being written the night before they were to start recording sessions. Reportedly, Corridor’s Jonathan Robert wrote that song’s lyrics while panicking over the possibility of not being able to properly finished what they started.

Because of the quickened nature of the Junior sessions, the material features fewer expansive jams and less reliance on overdubs. Even the album’s artwork managed to come about in the nick of time. In spite of other more meticulous and gorgeous artwork they received as potential album art, Robert’s “shitty last minute” collage of an egg saying hello was the one his bandmates wound up approving.  “Part of the beauty of the thing is that we didn’t have time to think about it,” the band’s Berthiaume says of the Junior recording sessions.

Album tracks like Topographe,” “Pow,” album title track “Junior” “Goldie” and Domino” manage to reveal a wide range of influences: a bit of post-punk here, a little bit of XTC over there, a little bit of The Beatles, a dash of The Beach Boys here and so on. And with some deft craftsmanship and musicianship, they manage to whimsically and mischievously create something novel out of the familiar.

Last year, I caught was luckily to catch the band live twice — a Union Pool set shortly after the release of Junior and a headlining M for Montreal set at Montreal’s Le National that was in my opinion one of the best live sets I caught that year. The band is creating up for a headlining, Stateside tour that begins with a show at Rough Trade tomorrow night, as well as appearances at this year’s SXSW and their first ever shows in Florida.  The band recently extended its international tour to support their critically applauded third album, with an extensive series of UK and French dates. (You can check out the tour dates below.)  

In the meantime, Junior’s latest single is the slow-burning “Grand cheval.” Centered around shimmering guitars, a propulsive and steady bass line and drumbeat, the band’s gorgeous harmonizing and atmospheric synths, “Grand cheval.” may arguably be the prettiest song on the album — and the most bittersweet. “The song is inspired by a grumpy old man, who came to bother us in a park once,” Corridor’s Jonathan Robert says in press notes. “He talked about mediocre poetry and philosophies of life, while asking us for cigarettes and beers.  When we asked him to leave us alone, he became angry, climbed on his high horse (grand cheval) and became this  old demagogue belittling the youth.” 

Directed by and featuring animation by Chad VanGaalen, the recently released video is a surrealistic and hallucinogenic fever dream set on a brightly colored alien world with rising snow, where we follow a lonely alien gatherer.  “I sewed a jacket, pants, and hat to rotoscope myself as this alien gatherer,” Chad VanGaalen explains in press notes. “Everything was drawn onto a malfunctioning 15-year old Cintiq. You can buy them for $20 on eBay, although I wouldn’t recommend it. The music made the snow fall up and not down. No matter what I did on Final Cut, it would always fall up. I filled my body and mind with many ingredients in order to go from monocular to trinocular, now my vision is blurry but my tailored clothing feels amazing. I can’t believe it is finished.”

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!”

Since the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, 2011’s Black Up, the Seattle-based act Shabazz Palaces — emcee and producer Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire — have managed to boldly continue Butler’s relentless desire to reimagine hip-hop and to boldly expand the possibilities of sound while proving that they’re the heirs to the astral imaginations of Sun Ra, George Clinton, Octavia Butler and Alice Coltrane. As a result Butler has collaborated with like-minded, critically applauded experimentalists including Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Battles, Animal Collective, Clipping and others — and he has toured with the likes of Radiohead and Lauryn Hill.

Slated for an April 17, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, Shabazz Palaces’ forthcoming album Don of Diamond Dreams is reportedly a sort of futuristic manifestation of ancient myth, featuring robotic and vocodered vocals, warped auto-tune, alien-like synthesizers — but with drums speaking a universal language, as the material’s overall sound meshes and blurs the lines between hip-hop, dub, soul, funk, African, experimental and occasionally even pop.

Although their fifth album continues a prolific run of meticulously constructed albums, its creation was centered around instinct and improvisation, being both cerebral and automatic with Butler jotting down phrases and ideas in his phone and eventually shaping them into amorphous, abstract and expressionistic verses. Interestingly, some of the material is shaped by Butler’s reflections on being a parent and watching his son, Jazz become internationally renowned as the rapidly rising artist Lil Tracy. There’s interplay between father as son, with Butler absorbing the sounds of today’s youth, but filtering it through his own fractured lens, spitting complex rhyme schemes with wild cadences and wordplay, freestyling with the wisdom and experience of age and the passion of someone, who believes that he has something to prove. And while as self-assured and as confident as ever, the album captures an act boldly attempting something new.

Don of Diamond Dreams‘ first single is the glittering and thumping “Fast Learner.” Featuring a prominent guest spot from Purple Tape Nate, the track is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling and tumbling bass lines and heavily vocodered and reverb-drenched vocals, the track is a lysergic-tinged and semi-retrofuturistic take on trap that’s one-part slow-burning and atmospheric R&B, one-part surrealistic, art pop, one part golden era hip-hop. And while sounding unlike anything else in their growing catalog, the song does manage to further cement the duo’s forward-thinking, 37th century hanging out around Jupiter’s rings in a badass spaceship take on hip-hop.