Tag: Talking Heads

New Video: Seattle’s Moon Palace Releases a Contemplative Visual for Shimmering and Dance Floor Friendly “Bold”

Last month, I wrote about the Seattle-based indie rock act Moon Palace. The act which is led by twin sisters Cat (guitar, vocals) and Carrie Biell (bass, vocals) and joined by Jude Miqueli (drums) and Darcey Zoller (cello, synth) can trace some of their origins back to the unique musical bond the Biell Sisters cultivated as the children of deaf parents. And with the release of 2017’s self-titled full-length debut, the band drew comparisons to JOVM mainstays to Beach House and Warpaint, as they crafted hook-driven material centered around sometimes discordant guitars and gorgeous dual harmonies. Along with receiving praise from the likes of City Arts Magazine and KEXP, Moon Palace has shared stages with Thunderpussy, Y La Bamba and Sera Cahoone among others.

Thematically, the Seattle-based quartet’s recently released sophomore album Shadowcast finds a balance between light and dark. “Shadow self and trying to be positive through interactions with people you love,” the members of the band elaborate in press notes. “Outer world to the innermost personal world. Balancing the sun sign and moon sign. Knowing your inner personal self within the context of the universe.” Throughout the recording sessions, band members would text each other songs by Sonic Youth, Talking Heads, Duran Duran and Big Thief, all of which inspired and shaped the album’s sound and overall aesthetic.

Now, as you may recall I wrote about the shimmering, Beach House-like “Who You Are,” a track found the band effortlessly balancing intimate emotions within an atmospheric and cinematic song. At its core, the song focused on navigating difficult and uneasy relationships and questioning whether the other is showing their true self or not. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Bold” is a dance-floor friendly take on shoegaze, centered around a propulsive, disco-like bass line, shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths ethereal vocals and a soaring hook — but as the band’s Cat Biell explains the song harkens back to that “nostalgic feeling to a time when you felt more care free.” And as a result, the song is imbued with a bittersweet air. 

The recently released video by Elope Productions stars Loren Othón  and Georgia Maxine, who contribute expressive and contemplative dance movements in a variety of different settings including a verdant field, urban rooftops and parking lots, which also helps to emphasize the nostalgia within the song.

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Dancing Tongues is a Los Angeles-based indie rock act, comprised of Alex Lavayen and Kevin Modry that can trace their origins to when their previous band broke up.  Shortly after that they relocated to Los Angeles, where they began to write songs inspired by late 70s and early 80s post-punk — in particular The Gun Club, The Cure and Talking Heads. However, their latest single, the brooding and shimmering “Shotgun” finds the band channeling Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here-era Echo and the Bunnymen and Starfish-era The Church, complete with shimmering guitars, plaintive vocals and big hooks.

“Relationships and creative endeavors are mercurial journeys that often refuse to acknowledge or cater to the needs of one another,” the duo says in press notes. “‘Shotgun’ is a song about the collision between one’s personal life and their shared life. The story describes the balancing act of keeping a relationship intact while fully committing oneself to creative pursuits.”

 

 

Led by twin sisters Cat (guitar, vocals) and  Carrie Biell (bass, vocals) and joined by Jude Miqueli (drums) and Darcey Zoller (cello, synth), the Seattle-based indie rock act Moon Palace can trace some of its origins back to the unique musical bond the Biell Sisters cultivated as the children of Deaf parents. Interestingly, with release of 2017’s self-titled, full-length debut, the members of the Seattle-based band drew comparisons to Beach House and Warpaint, as they crafted hook-driven material centered around sometimes discordant guitars and gorgeous dual harmonies. Along with receiving praise from the likes of City Arts Magazine and KEXP, Moon Palace has shared stages with Thunderpussy, Y La Bamba and Sera Cahoone among others.

Slated for an August 23, 2019 release, the band’s soon-to-be released album Shadowcast thematically finds a balance between light and dark. “Shadow self and trying to be positive through interactions with people you love,” the members of the band elaborate in press notes. “Outer world to the innermost personal world. Balancing the sun sign and moon sign. Knowing your inner personal self within the context of the universe.” Throughout the recording sessions, band members would text each other songs by Sonic Youth, Talking Heads, Duran Duran and Big Thief, all of which inspired and shaped the album’s sound and overall aesthetic.

Interestingly, Shadowcast‘s second and latest single “Who You Are” is a shimmering and contemplative song that finds the band effortlessly balancing intimate emotions within an atmospheric and cinematic sound featuring shimmering and slashing guitars, gorgeously ethereal vocals, a soaring hook and driving rhythm section. And while bearing a resemblance to Beach House, the song possesses an uncertain and uneasy air, as it focuses on navigating difficult relationships and questioning whether the other person is showing their true self or not.

 

 

 

New Audio: Up-and-Coming British Post-Punk Act Squid Releases an Explosive and Expansive New Single

With the release of a series of critically applauded singles, an incendiary live show, and three packed Glastonbury Festival sets, the up-and-coming disco post-punk, disco funk act Squid — Ollie Judge (vocals, drums), Lous Borlase (guitar, vocals), Arthur Leadbetter (keys, strings), Laurie Nankivell (bass, drums) and Anton Pearson (guitar, vocals) — have quickly developed a growing national profile. 

Building upon that momentum, the act which splits its time between Brighton, where it initially formed and London will be releasing the Dan Carey-produced EP Town Centre through Carey’s Speedy Wunderground Records digitally on September 6, 2019 — with a physical release on November 15, 2019. Clocking in at seven and a half minutes, the EP’s  new single “The Cleaner” will likely remind listeners of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo-era Devo, Talking Heads, Entertainment!-era Gang of Four and LCD Soundystem  as the track is centered around a slinky, disco funk bass line, explosive blasts of squiggly synths, cowbell led drumming, angular guitar lines, explosive feedback and shouted lyrics within an expansive song structure that’s one part post-punk, one part art punk, one part No Wave freak out. And as a result, the song manages to evoke the uncontrolled, neurotic frustration of someone who’s at the end of their rope. 

“‘The Cleaner’ is a lost acquaintance, one that we’ve spent the past year trying to get to know . . . tirelessly working and turning up whenever needed,” the band says about their latest single. “We work for the money to spend out time doing other things. ‘The Cleaner’ imagines the divided work and play structure and thinks about breaking from it.” 

New Video: Acclaimed Indie Electro Pop Act Miami Horror Releases a Sepia-Toned Visual for “Restless”

Initially formed in 2007, as the solo recording project of Melbourne, Australia-based DJ and producer Benjamin Plant, Miami Horror eventually expanded into a full-fledged band with the addition Josh Moriarty (vocals, guitar), Daniel Whitechurch (bass, keys, guitar) and Kosta Theodosis (drums) — and with the release of 2008’s Bravado EP, 2010’s full-length debut Illumination and 2015’s All Possible Futures, the band established a sound that drew from Prince, New Order, Todd Rundgren and Pink Floyd, combined with contemporary electronic production techniques, including house and electro pop. Interestingly, the act’s most recent recorded output, 2017’s The Shapes EP was a decided change in sonic direction with the band’s sound being indebted to 80s pop and New Wave — in particular, Talking Heads, Blondie and the like. 

Two years have passed since the acclaimed Australian indie electro pop act has released material and the act’s latest single, “Restless” finds the project returning to its collaborative and production-based roots. Plant champions this return to his roots as Miami Horror’s new incarnation. “The Shapes was always meant to be a one-off conceptual project, so once that was complete I began moving back towards the original creative process that Miami Horror started with; a simpler approach to production and a continued emphasize on outside vocalists.” Plant says. “For me, music has always been about completing a vision and trying to make something stand out. Allowing outside collaboration really opens me up to complete that vision without being restricted to my own skill set.”

Interestingly, “Restless” is a breezy and summery track centered around shimmering synths, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, hi-hat led drumming and a plaintive and sultry vocal contribution from Kevin Lavitt. And while retaining the slick, dance floor-friendly electronic production that has won Plant international acclaim, the song sounds indebted to 80s Quiet Storm R&B — in particular Cherelle’s “Saturday Love,” and Mtume’s “Juicy Love” immediately come to my mind, as the song has a similar sophisticated sexiness to it. “I love putting two people in a room that wouldn’t normally work together and seeing what comes of it,” Plant says of his collaboration with Lavitt. 

Directed by Keenan Wetzel, the recently released sepia-toned video for “Restless” features an assortment of quirky characters coming together for tennis training and some meet-cute lust — before ending with a menacing and suggestive air. “When I heard ‘Restless’ I was struck with a nostalgic feeling of starting out a relationship; those first feelings of anxiety coupled with the uncertainty whether or not the attraction is mutual,” Keenan Wetzel says of his video treatment. “I wanted to take these familiar feelings and add Miami Horror’s style to create a bright but strange world for these young people to find each other. I have always been interested in 1970’s culture and how people turned to communities, often ritual-based, to find a sense of belonging. So the idea for the ‘Restless’ music video was to put a pair of young people into a tennis playing community where they were looking for meaning. Only, instead of finding purpose in this community, they find each other, which leads to both love and realization that the nature of the community was not going to give them any more sense of belonging.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Ron Gallo Releases a Surreal and Feverish Video for Anthemic “Love Supreme (Work Together!)”

Throughout the past couple of years, I’ve written a quite a bit about Ron Gallo, a  Philadelphia-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist and JOVM mainstay, whose musical career began in earnest with an eight year stint as the frontman of the Philadelphia-based indie act Toy Soldiers. Now, as you recall Gallo was in a long-term romantic relationship with a deeply trouble woman — and once that relationship ended, Gallo relocated to Nashville, where he wrote and recorded material that eventually became his acclaimed 2016 full-length debut HEAVY META. Thematically, the album touched upon a number of themes within his own life, including his own personal ideology of abstaining from drugs and alcohol, self-empowerment, domestication, dead and unhappy love, not truly knowing yourself and the things that could happen to you when you don’t, mental illness from the perspective of both sufferer and close observer, and a burning, misanthropic frustration with humanity and civilization. And yet, there was some level of optimism — that music can wake someone up and get them to change what they were doing. As Gallo said in press notes at the time, “this record comes from my frustration with humanity and myself, and from my wanting to shake us all. At my core, I’m compassionate for humanity and the sickness that we all live with, and from that comes something more constructive.”

HEAVY META’s follow-up Really Nice Guys EP was released earlier this year, and the EP was a concept EP largely inspired by the previous year in Gallo’s life in which he was busy touring and promoting his full-length debut — and the EP’s material wound up being a satirical sendup of the contemporary music industry with the EP featuring songs about rough mixes, broken into three parts — iPhone demo, live band demo and overproduced, autotuned, overproduced to death studio recording; the painfully weird inability for those within the music industry to honestly admit that someone is just an awful musician, so everyone winds up saying “well, they’re really nice guys . . . ,” the number of friends, who will ask to be put on the guestlist so that you can never actually make any money off a show, and more.

Gallo’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Stardust Birthday Party is slated for an October 5, 2018 release and the material is inspired by a life-altering, seismic shift in Gallo’s life. Remember the woman who inspired much of the material on Gallo’s critically applauded debut? Well, as the story goes, she had taken a trip to South America, found a healer and miraculously got herself and her life together. Understandably, when Gallo heard the news, his interest was piqued, and he began reading and searching fora  more inward path for his own mental and spiritual development.  Earlier this year, on a whim, the Philadelphia-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist booked a trip to California for a silent meditation retreat. Despite his initial discomfort, Gallo reportedly experienced a profound experience that quickly became the answer for his existential searching — and the thematic core of the album: how inner transformation impacts both the outside world and your perception of it.

Or, as Ron Gallo says in a lengthy written statement about the album:

“Stardust Birthday Party is about human evolution. Specifically, one human’s evolution: mine, Ron Gallo.  That’s the name my parents gave me. Hi.

At one point, I was a very lost mid-twenties person living in Philadelphia, in a relationship with someone struggling with mental health issues and crippling heroin addiction. I was asleep. I didn’t know how to handle my life. I was also writing songs for HEAVY META – my “frustrated with humanity” album. I laugh about it all now, but at the time it all felt like an absolute nightmare. It was the perfect doorway to look inside the place I’d been avoiding forever: myself.

Stardust Birthday Party is about what is happening underneath all of this life stuff. My path inward. The details of my path are pointless because everyone’s path is different. It is about me sitting with myself for the first time and confronting the big question “WHAT AM I, REALLY?” It’s about the love and compassion for all things that enters when you find out you are nothing and everything. I think at one point I wanted to change the world, but now I know I can only change myself, or rather just strip away everything that is not me to reveal the only thing that’s ever been there. And that’s what this album is about, it’s me dancing while destroying the person I thought I was, and hopefully forever.

In the liner notes of John Coltrane’s album A Love Supreme (which we pay tribute to on this album) he wrote: ‘During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music.’

That’s it.  That is the pure essence of creativity. Someone embodying what they have realized about themselves and the world that surrounds them. That is why this album exists. ”

Stardust Birthday Party’s first single “It’s All Gonna Be Okay,” was an angular ripper centered around two disparate things — the first a relishing of life’s ironies with a bemused yet accepting smile that points out that there’s a larger connection to everyone and everything; and that the only way we can actually change the world is if every individual on this planet began to take a serious and sobering look at their own fucked up shit and then do the opposite. Until then, we’re speeding our way down to hell with explosives and lit matches in the backseat.

The album’s second single “Always Elsewhere” continues in a similar vein of its predecessor, an angular and furious ripper that evokes our age of perpetual and unending fear and anxiety that has most of us running around like the White Rabbit, looking at our watches in panic and saying “There’s not enough time! There’s not enough time!” As Gallo says in press notes, “Most of the time we perceive the world, ourselves and others as ideas we have about them rather than what they really are. All our fear and anxiety stems from speculation about what COULD happen, not what is actually happening here and now. I’ve done this most of my life and still do, and the best way I’ve found is to become aware that you are not being aware or present, and suddenly you become present, that’s what this song is for — a frantic representation of modern life and our inability to live in the moment.”

“Do You Love Your Company,” Stardust Birthday Party‘s third  single was a tense and anxious New Wave and post-punk take on garage rock, centered around angular blasts of guitar, a steady backbeat and an enormous, shout-worthy hook but underneath the rousingly anthemic nature of the song is something much deeper, more urgent — the very modern anxiousness and uncertainty that comes about whenever we’re left to ourselves. As Gallo says the song is “about self-inquiry. I think a lot of people struggle with being truly alone or fear silence because it forces them to look inward, but ultimately, i think it’s one of the most important things we can do to understand ourselves and others.”

Stardust Birthday Party‘s latest single “Love Supreme (Work Together!)” is an angular, New Wave-like track that at points sounds indebted to Fear of Music and More Songs About Buildings and Food-era Talking Heads — but centered around a profound observation. As Gallo explains in press notes, “I wrote this song on GarageBand on my phone on an airplane. I was listening to A Love Supreme by John Coltrane, eating my really adorable but terrible tasting airplane meal of bowtie pasta (originally the first verse was about that) and looking down at the earth from the sky where you see no separation between people or things, there is just one thing. The chorus goes ‘God loves it when we work together.’ The God I am talking about is not a specific one, but everything, the one thing that is everything, the common thread in all existence, life, whatever you want to call it. In my head this is the soundtrack to a party in the streets where there is no line between shape, color, size, gender, sexuality, beliefs, anything, none of that shit exists.  Just anyone and everyone dancing kissing hugging laughing at the absurdity that we couldn’t always see that our core we are all the same. Nice!”

Directed by Joshua Shoemaker, the recently released video for “Love Supreme (Work Together!)” is a surrealistic fever dream set in a fully realized and self-contained world and shot in one incredibly long take. “This video is a total mind fuck, and I really love the colors,” says Gallo. “The level of genius and work it took Joshua and his partner Albert to conceptualize it and build the world it takes place in from zero, and then find a way to shoot it all in one shot is beyond me. Iwas just happy to be apart of it. Shoemaker told me he was in a long bout of depression and making this video pulled him out of it and that’s really what the song is all about – making people happy and helping each other out as humans.” 

New Video: Miles Francis Releases a Cinematic and Surreal Video for EP Single “I Could Use Your Love”

Throughout the course of this site’s almost nine history, I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Miles Francis, who has had stints as a member of JOVM mainstays Superhuman Happiness and Antibalas, and as the frontman of Afrobeat/Afropop-inspired collective EMEFE. The 26 year-old, New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter has also collaborated with an impressive and diverse array of artists including Arcade Fire,  Mark Ronson, Sharon Jones, Amber Mark, Angelique Kidjo, Allen Toussaint, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Arcade Fire’s Will Butler and others — all before stepping out on his own as a solo artist. 

Now, as you may recall, Miles Francis’ debut EP Swimmers was released last year, and the album which was written in the back of tour vans and hotel rooms while on the road. Eventually recorded in his basement studio, the EP’s material thematically captures the mood and vibe of someone in their early to mid-20s, attempting to figure out themselves and the extremely complicated and ambivalent world they’ll continually confront as an adult; how they fit into that world; and the struggle to figure out the purpose and meaning of their own lives. Interestingly, Swimmers put the New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist on the local and national map for crafting hook-driven, left field pop inspired by Bowie, Sly Stone, J. Dilla, Talking Heads, D’Angelo, Paul McCartney, Fela Kuti and Prince among others. 

Self-recorded with Francis recording each instrumental part in an organic, old school-inspired fashion in his basement studio and released last week, Miles Francis’ sophomore solo EP Doves finds him continuing to craft hook-driven, left field pop — but with a wider emotional palette. And while each song on the EP has its own unique sound, they manage to fall under an overall thematic and creative umbrella of sorts. The EP’s latest single, “I Could Use Your Love” is centered around a breezy and infectious hook, twinkling blasts of guitar, buzzing bass synths, stuttering beats and Francis’ plaintive and sultry vocals. Sonically, the song sounds like a slick and seamless synthesis of late period Beatles, Talking Heads, Prince and Afropop, but with a post-modern sensibility. Much  like the rest of the EP is based around the inner dialogue that we all have on a daily basis that brings up and down — in this case, evoking the desperation and longing inspired by profound loneliness. 

Directed by long-time collaborator Charles Bidet, the recently released video for “I Could Use Your Love” continues a run of cinematically shot and surreal treatments — with Francis surrounded by shadowy figures, who perform with him in a gorgeous performance space. In one way, the shadowy figures can be seen as a representation of the protagonist’s neurotic fears, doubts and loneliness. 

New Video: Mexican-Panamanian Singer Songwriter and Multi-instrumentalist Michelle Blades Releases a Topical Post Punk Anthem

Michelle Blades is a Mexican-Panamanian singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, who grew up in a family of salsa musicians — and as a result, a young Blades soaked up notions of her heritage, studio life and production. When Blades was seven, her family fled Panama as a result of the vestiges of violence and unrest left by Manuel Noriega, eventually relocating to Miami, where they all learned English and lived in different recording studios and apartments. 

Ironically, music was all but forbidden at home and many of Blades’ artistic aspirations were halted by the family patriarch until she moved out when she turned 16. She then spent time juggling a number of different jobs including — being a journalist for the local CBS affiliate, producing a biweekly show, Focus on South Florida, selling smoothes, working for MIA Skatepark, and pursuing a passion for film and video by producing skate videos for her website 2TEN AM Productions. Interestingly, this love of film would wind up being important for her aspirations and her career, as it paved the way for her to direct and produce music videos for several artists. 

After buying a ukulele with her first paycheck, Blades relocated to Arizona, where she immersed herself in Phoenix’s and Tempe’s DIY scenes, learning guitar, drums, synths and bass, eventually recording and releases EPs under her own name and with the noise punk trio North Dakota. Along the way, Camaraderie Limited Records, a small Paris-based label invited Blades to go on a month-long tour of house shows and while discovering Europe for the first time, she also made friends, who would change her life. As the story goes, during her third tour of France, Blades befriended the team at Midnight Special Records — and it prompted a move to Paris, where she created the bulk of her work to date, collaborating with the label and artists in a familial sort of collective of like-minded souls. 

Since relocating to Paris, Blades has been rather prolific as she has released 2015’s Ataraxia, 2016’s Polylust EP, and 2017’s Premature Love Songs EP, written music and arrangements for Laure Briard, played bass in Fishbach, put together a Transatlantic band Michelle Blades y Los Machetes, and directed videos for Clea Vincent’s “Retiens mon desir” and “Chateau Perdu” among a list of others. 

Slated for a March 29, 2019 release, Blades’ forthcoming album Visitor continues the Mexican-Panamanian multi-disciplinary artist, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s ongoing collaboration with Midnight Special Records. The forthcoming album’s third and latest single “Politic” is a remarkably topical song that to my ears sounds like a seamless synthesis of campy B52s-like garage rock/garage pop, angular and neurotic More Songs About Food and Buildings era Talking Heads-like post punk and Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs as the song is centered around arpeggiated synths, looping garage rock guitar lines, a propulsive groove, an infectious hook and lyrics delivered in wild yelps, squeals and howls. At its core, the song expresses an anxious, existential frustration — with everything. The recently released video is centered around live footage of Blades and her backing band performing the song shot with trippy filters and colors and strobe lights galore.