Tag: Talking Heads

 

Throughout the past couple of years of this site’s almost nine-year history, I’ve written a quite a bit about Ron Gallo, a  Philadelphia-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist and JOVM mainstay, whose was a once the frontman of the Philadelphia-based indie act Toy Soldiers. As the story goes, at one point, Gallo was in a long-term, romantic relationship with a deeply troubled woman — and once that relationship ended, Gallo relocated to Nashville, where he embarked on a solo career, writing and recording material that eventually became his acclaimed 2016 full-length debut HEAVY META. 

Thematically, HEAVY META 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 early last year, and the EP was largely inspired by the previous year in Gallo’s life in which he was busy touring and promoting his full-length debut — and as a result, 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 sophomore album Stardust Birthday Party was released last October, and the material was inspired by a life-altering, seismic shift in his 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 for a more inward path for his own mental and spiritual development.  Early last year, Gallo booked a trip to a silent meditation retreat in California. Despite his initial reservations and discomfort, the Philadelphia-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter reportedly experienced a profound experience that quickly became the answer for his existential searching — and in turn, 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 complete opposite. Until then, we’re speeding our way down to hell with explosives and lit matches in the backseat.

Always Elsewhere,” Stardust Birthday Party‘s second single continued in a similar vein as its predecessor as it was an angular and furious ripper that evoked our age of perpetual and unending fear and anxiety that 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!” As Gallo later says of the track,“‘Love Supreme’ is my attempt to write a genuinely positive song, maybe even a song people can dance to (ideally people that normally don’t dance together in large quantities in weird places and pay tribute to John Coltrane on top of that) I wrote this one on my phone on a plane.”

Recently, Claudius Mittendorfer remixed “Love Supreme (Work Together)” and interestingly his remix gives the song a dance floor friendly thump, reminiscent of The B52s.  “We incorporated some new sounds we never messed with before. I feel like I never could’ve written something like this even two years ago but sometimes it feels good to lay down the exhausting, intense, critical outlook and just celebrate life and people and what we all have in common right now, everywhere,” Gallo says. “Thank you to Claudius Mittendorfer (Parquet Courts, Johnny Marr, Weezer) who did this remix, he really brought the song to where it always wanted to go.”

Ron Gallo will be returning to the road this winter on a co-headlining tour with Post Animal. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:
January 30th – Iowa City, IA – Blue Moose Tap House
January 31st – Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon
February 1st – Minneapolis, MN -Fine Line
February 2nd – Kansas City, MO – Recordbar
February 5th – Denver, CO – The Globe
February 6th – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
February 8th – Vancouver, BC – Wise Hall
February 9th – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
February 10th – Portland, OR – Doug Fir
February 12th – Sacramento, CA – Harlow’s
February 13th – Santa Cruz, CA – Catalyst Atrium
February 14th – San Francisco, CA – Chapel
February 15th -Fresno, CA – Strummers
February 16th – Los Angeles, CA – Teragram Ballroom
February 17th – San Diego, CA – The Casbah
February 19th – Phoenix, AZ – Rebel Lounge
February 21st – Dallas, TX – Deep Ellum Art Co.
February 22nd – Austin, TX – Barracuda
February 23rd – San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger
February 25th – New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa
February 26th – Birmingham, AL – Saturn
February 27th – Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre
February 28th – Asheville, NC – The Mothlight
March 1st – Charlottesville, VA – The Southern
March 2nd – Columbus, OH – Skully’s
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Comprised of longtime friends Pat Mahoney, best known as a co-founding member of LCD Soundsystem, and an accomplished drummer, DJ and producer; and electronic music producer Dennis McNany, best known as Jay Dee, Museum of Love is a side project that began over the duo’s shared love of music and museums, a similar sensibility and a shared vocabulary for interpreting their surroundings — with McNany writing most of the music and Mahoney most of the words.Interestingly, “Marching Orders” is the first bit of new material from the duo since the release of their full-length debut in 2014, and as the duo says in press notes of their new single, “Obviously a labor of love. We worked whenever we could for the past three years, 2 weeks on 6 months off, between Pat’s busy tour schedule with LCD and Dennis’ working on film scores and new Jee Day releases.
We had a bunch of unfinished material from the 1st record and were working on new material whenever we could. We worked in home studios; we built our our own recording studio in Dumbo to write and track new material; and, when we were kicked out of that, we snuck into DFA studios as the building was about to be gutted and finished an album’s worth of new material with all the limited time and resources we had. This single is the first product of all our efforts.”

Thematically, the single focuses on moving and moving forward, “an exercise in slapping ourselves in the face, taking stock of this moment we’re in and then out of. To explore the elephantine sadness that plagues us as we find ourselves complicit in our extinction,” the duo says in press notes. “Why do we love? Who do we love? For what do we fight? When faced with displacement, how do you keep moving and whistling on your way?” Sonically, the song is a heady (and perhaps neurotic) and percussive take on house music that recalls Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem and others — and as a result, the song is centered around an infectious groove that suggests to the listener, “Welp, while everything is burning, might as well dance, dance, dance and forget it for a little while.”

New Video: Marfa, Texas’ Wilderman Releases Trippy, Random Generated Visuals for Polyrhythmic, Hook Driven New Single

Marfa, Texas is a small and extremely remote Western Texas town, a short distance from the American-Mexican border, and unsurprisingly the town is about as far as one can get  — both metaphorically and literally — from the costal tech capitals. Singer/songwriter Rob Gugnor and his partner Simone Rubi relocated to Marfa in 2013, where the y started a decidedly lo-fi cafe Do Your Thing, where the patient customer will reportedly be rewarded with some of the finest coffee in the Southwest; but perhaps more important to this site, Gugnor is known as the creative mastermind of the Marfa-based recording project Wilderman. 

Ironically, despite Gugnor’s  geographical and physical remove from the major tech capitals, his recently released Wilderman album Artifice deals with the increasing and confusing rift between lived experience and its digital approximation. As Gugnor explains at length in press notes:

“I started this record 5 years ago, seeking to explore the impact of technology on our psyche and the new human experience. Since beginning this process, I’ve found more value in the time away from screens, but I’m starting to view it as a luxury. Screen time is unavoidable now. Social media numbers are important. We can’t opt out of the game. In this time span, we’ve seen how information can be manipulated for our feeds. Digital perception has relativized everything to the point of insanity. Empathy is nearly impossible. K*vanaugh, Tr*mp, Milo Whatever His Name Was, digital bullying, flat-earthers. Life is now lived in the digital space. Identity and truth are shapeshifting and amorphous.

I would like to say that I found some hope in digging deep into the digital, but I’ve actually become complacent, and I think we all have. I was hoping to be a whistleblower, but it will mostly fall on deaf ears. We are in a stadium full of people, screaming to be heard. And yet everyone has headphones on and screens up, filtering through the noise to only consume the content they curate for themselves. Art is content. Tragedy is content.

But I still dream that we can remember ourselves, empathy, the human touch – it’s in the songs.

I hope that this album will somehow lead the listener back to a version of themselves that’s in the here and now, without comparison to others, without self-judgment.

It’s a mirror that can also be a gateway to another reality, the one we used to live in.”

Gungor and a backing band featuring some of Marfa’s best musicians — Wye Oak’s Andy Stack, The Brilliance’s John Arndt, Gungor’s Grammy-nominated brother Michael, Midlake’s McKenzie Smith Jeremy Harris, and Andrew McGuire, along with engineer Hugo Nicholson, who has worked with Radiohead, Father John Misty and Primal Scream decamped to Sonic Ranch, a studio in the Chihuahuan Desert, just outside the border town of Tornillo, to start the jam sessions that would eventually turn into the material on Artifice. Chosen in part, because important records by Animal Collective, Beach House, The Mountain Goats, Swans and others were recorded on their premises, the album sonically is influenced by the work of David Byrne and Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Paul Simon’s Graceland and Donald Judd’s permanently installed works. Unsurprisingly, Remain in Light and Graceland were used as a blueprint with live improvised material being recorded with the idea that Gugnor would later recombine and rearrange these sounds into fleshed out songs. It’s a decided and radical change in sound and songwriting approach from his 2013 Wilderman debut Learn to Feel, which was recorded completely in an analog fashion.  

The album’s latest single “Cog” is a funky, polyrhythmic, sinuous hook-driven jam centered around a looped, shimmering guitar line, a buoyant bass line, shimmering and sharply arpeggiated synths — and while recalling Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel 3, Security and So-era Peter Gabriel, the song is rooted in the current sociopolitical moment, suggesting that technology has caused us to lose our humanity to the point that we’re cogs in a larger, economically driven machine that will destroy us all. But throughout the song’s narrator is demanding that we resist it, that we remember and honor the individual moving to the beat of their own drum.

The accompanying visuals are the result of a new training methodology for generative adversarial networks — in this case, a random number generator came up with imaginary celebrities that look like real ones. What’s real and what’s digitally generated? Is it your memory or a distortion? It’s trippy and disconcerting. 

New Video: Maria Del Pilar’s Groove-Driven Call for Empathy for DREAMers

Maria Del Pilar is a Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician, whose family immigrated to the States when she was a child. After developing roots in her adoptive hometown, Del Pilar became an integral part of the city’s music scene as the frontwoman of the critically acclaimed local act, Los Abandoned. Pilar’s solo debut Songs + Canciones I was released to critical praise for Del Pilar’s ability to craft infectious pop hooks that possess a rock ‘n’ roll grit that recalled her Riot Grrl roots. Interestingly, Songs + Canciones I‘s lead single “En El Dancefloor” skyrocketed to the top of the Mexican radio charts and led to shows at Vive Latino and Mexico City’s prestigious The Zocalo.

Songs + Canciones II, the highly-anticipated follow-up to Del Pilar’s solo debut is slated for a November 2, 2018 release, and while finishing up the album, Del Pilar has managed to collaborate with a diverse array of renowned artists including Chicano Batman, Francisca Valenzuela, and Tegan & Sara; in fact, the album features collaborations with a virtual who’s who of the Los Angeles music scene, including members of Chicano Batman, No Doubt, Las Cafeteras, Fitz + The Tantrums and others. But in the meantime, the Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has also performed as a backing singer  during tUnE yArDs’ most recent appearance on Conan. Adding to a growing profile, “Se Me Hace Mas” was recently  featured on the new Starz drama Vida.

“Original Dreamer,” Songs + Canciones II’s latest single is of our current sociopolitical moment, as it was written while the Trump Administration and the Republican led house was busily repealing DACA, which struck a chord both personally and politically. After the introduction and approval of 2001’s DREAM Act, millions of undocumented minors were granted legal residency in the States along with their parents and guardians. Del Pilar’s mother and father were among the first DREAMers — but sadly, her mother died when she was 12.  The stories reminded me of what I saw my parents go through when I was a kid immigrating from Chile to the US,” Del Pilar says in press notes. “I had a chance to thank my father for these sacrifices but never got a chance to thank my mom. This song gives me that chance.”

Produced by Poolside‘s Flip Nikolic, the song features looping, psych rock-inspired guitar lines from Chicano Batman’s Carlos Arevalo — and while centered around a fiercely held belief that no one is an illegal alien, the percussive, deep groove-driven song manages to bring Fear of Music-era Talking Heads to mind; but with a bold, distinctly Latin flavor and vibe, along with some infectious hooks. Of course, at its core is a deep (and much-needed) empathy and understanding of the plight of society’s most vulnerable, reminded the listener that a great deal of Americans are descendants of those who have taken great risks and had enormous dreams.

Directed by Maria del Pilar and Guillermo Moreno, the recently released lyric video begins with a number of DREAMers telling the stories of the sacrifices and risks that their parents’ and loved ones’ took to get to the States, the big hopes and even bigger dreams they had for their children — and the deep seated sense of appreciation these DREAMers have for their parents. Photos of some of these DREAMers with their parents at various ages, ending with these young people graduating from school — and everyone is beaming with pride and hope for bright futures. The lyric video will further emphasize the song’s call for empathy (which we need more of in a deeply cynical world). 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Ron Gallo Returns with a New Wave-like Meditation on Unity

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 […]

 

Maria Del Pilar is a Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician, whose family immigrated to the States when she was a child. After developing roots in her adoptive hometown, Del Pilar became an integral part of the city’s music scene as the frontwoman of the critically acclaimed local act, Los Abandoned. Pilar’s solo debut Songs + Canciones I was released to critical praise for Del Pilar’s ability to craft infectious pop hooks that possess a rock ‘n’ roll grit that recalled her Riot Grrl roots. Interestingly, Songs + Canciones I‘s lead single “En El Dancefloor” skyrocketed to the top of the Mexican radio charts and led to shows at Vive Latino and Mexico City’s prestigious The Zocalo.

Songs + Canciones II, the highly-anticipated follow-up to Del Pilar’s solo debut is slated for a November 2, 2018 release, and while finishing up the album, Del Pilar has managed to collaborate with a diverse array of renowned artists including Chicano Batman, Francisca Valenzuela, and Tegan & Sara; in fact, the album features collaborations with a virtual who’s who of the Los Angeles music scene, including members of Chicano Batman, No Doubt, Las Cafeteras, Fitz + The Tantrums and others. But in the meantime, the Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has also performed as a backing singer  during tUnE yArDs’ most recent appearance on Conan. Adding to a growing profile, “Se Me Hace Mas” was recently  featured on the new Starz drama Vida.

“Original Dreamer,” Songs + Canciones II’s latest single is of our current sociopolitical moment, as it was written while the Trump Administration and the Republican led house was busily repealing DACA, which struck a chord both personally and politically. After the introduction and approval of 2001’s DREAM Act, millions of undocumented minors were granted legal residency in the States along with their parents and guardians. Del Pilar’s mother and father were among the first DREAMers — but sadly, her mother died when she was 12.  The stories reminded me of what I saw my parents go through when I was a kid immigrating from Chile to the US,” Del Pilar says in press notes. “I had a chance to thank my father for these sacrifices but never got a chance to thank my mom. This song gives me that chance.”

Produced by Poolside‘s Flip Nikolic, the song features looping, psych rock-inspired guitar lines from Chicano Batman’s Carlos Arevalo — and while centered around a fiercely held belief that no one is an illegal alien, the percussive, deep groove-driven song manages to bring Fear of Music-era Talking Heads to mind; but with a bold, distinctly Latin flavor and vibe, along with some infectious hooks. Of course, at its core is a deep (and much-needed) empathy and understanding of the plight of society’s most vulnerable, reminded the listener that a great deal of Americans are descendants of those who have taken great risks and had enormous dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pollens is a New York-based art pop/dance pop duo, Jeff and Elizabeth, and the act can trace its origins to when Jeff and Elizabeth met while working on a short, anachronistic opera-like project. Shortly after, they worked on a song cycle focused on the specifics of being human, social anxiety and social media — i.e. receiving Facebook birthday reminders from dead people, and so on. Since their formation they’ve released two EPs’ 83 and Mister Manufacture, and as the duo explains in press notes, the material is about being around people, checking your phone, being high in the city, Googling conspiracies and conspiracy theories and making summer mistakes among other things; but from the perspective of newcomers to New York, who are equally in awe of their surroundings, terrified and absolutely confused by — well, everything around them.

Apart from that, their sound, as you’ll hear on their latest single “$$$_PSA” is centered around layers of percussion, arpeggiated synths, electronic noise, chopped up samples, bright and ethereal melodies, and shouted non-sequiturs. It’s unique and pretty fucking weird while being simultaneously dance floor friendly in a way that brings to mind The B52s, DEVO, Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem, but  with a neurotic energy that feels as though its creators were bouncing off the wall. As the duo’s Jeff Aaron Bryant admits, “Our songs aren’t about anything . . . that’s a promise. For this one, ‘$$$_PSA, we’ve got a few flavors of moneyed people — their entitlement, the space they’re taking up on the train, their shoes and conversations, and every so often, we hear someone else making an announcement. Really, that’s it . . .”

When asked to explain more about the song, Bryant instead talks about his obsession with announcements. “I love announcements- anything anyone says over an intercom or public address system. I love how announcements are always inescapably loud or barely audible. And I love how announcements have their own music that’s specific to the information that’s being announced- like on an airplane, no one ever says “be careful opening the overhead bins” they always say “do use caution while opening the overhead storage compartments”. The word ‘Do’ is extra and weird sounding but always pitched higher than the rest of the sentence even though ‘caution’ is the important part. And whatever, an announcement is just some regular person reading from a script, but for a few moments, the microphone literally elevates their voice and they join with the authority, the public interest, the rules and safety… sales become sales events, customers become following guests, clerks become the next available customer service representative.”