Tag: Tears for Fears

Michael Desmond is a Long Island, NY-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who first earned attention as the frontman of orchestral indie rock act Gabriel the Marine, an act that went on national tours with Taking Back Sunday, Glassjaw, Mew, Jack’s Mannequin and The Dear Hunter. After some significant changes in his personal life that included the death of his uncle, the end of a six-year relationship and graduation from college, Desmond was inspired to reinvent himself and his career by going solo. “The only way I was able to slow my mind down was to write. I look at this body of work as a time capsule, as it represents a snapshot of life during this period of time,” Desmond recalls.

Desmond’s solo recording project, Local Nomad derives its name from several dichotomies: “Local Nomad is the resistance of sedentary life. It’s about seeking the strange and embracing the unknown. Wondering. Wandering. Young and Old. Everywhere and Nowhere. As cliche as it may sound – when I pick up a guitar and sing it’s the only time I feel at home,” Desmond says. Sonically, the project’s sound features soulful vocals, enormous hooks, atmospheric synths and lustrous beats and draws influence from the likes of Tears for Fears, Elvis Costello, and Phil Collins.

Local Nomad’s self-titled, debut EP is slated for a June 19, 2020 release, and the EP’s material found extra inspiration from the Long Island-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist borrowing his friends’ gear to implement mellotron, DX and 808s to add further texture and muscle to his attention-grabbing, anthemic sound. The self-titled EP’s latest single “Young Vampires” further establishes his remarkably self-assured and anthemic take on synth pop. Centered around a classic, alternating quiet verse, loud chorus-based song structure, an enormous, power chord-driven, arena rock friendly hook with shimmering and arpeggiated synths and Desmond’s plaintive vocals, the song reveals some ambitious songwriting bringing JOVM mainstays St. Lucia and the aforementioned Tears for Fears, among others.

“This song is about becoming the ugliest version of yourself in a relationship. You’re not necessarily trying to hurt one another, but you end up forgetting the thing that once brought you together,” the Long Island-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist explains. “‘Young Vampires’ is kind of an oxymoron because based on various films, vampires tend to live forever. They feed off of humans to survive and ultimately live a pretty reclusive lifestyle, only going out at night and sleeping all day. I think it’s comparable to being in an unhealthy relationship.”

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New Video: JOVM Mainstay Howard Ivans Releases a Sultry and Funky New Single Paired with Hand Drawn Animated Visuals

Throughout the bulk of this site’s almost ten year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the prolific Portland, OR-based JOVM mainstay, singer/songwriter  Ivan Howard. Howard may be best known for stints fronting  The Rosebuds the acclaimed indie supergroup GAYNGS and De La Noche, which featured Howard’s longtime friends and Rosebuds bandmates Robert Rogan and Brian Weeks, and writing Kanye West and Bon Iver. He’s also received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere with his solo recording project and alter ego Howard Ivans. 

Yesterday, Ivan Howard released his sophomore Howard Ivans album Riviera. “It feels ridiculous to release music in this mayhem, but just maybe someone will enjoy it and forget about everything that is going on for a little while, like I do when I’m listening to music,” Ivan Howard wrote in a statement. “I had a blast making this record. The songs were written with some really great songwriters while i was living in LA a little while back. We’d meet on the spot, write and sing them in a few hours, then take them home to be finished up musically. Common practice in the LA songwriting world — and both exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. You never know how a session would wind up but luckily I think these set of songs ended up pretty great to my ears! Maybe you will dig Riviera too. I give a huge thank you to my co-conspirators: Wallis Allen, Alex & Alex, and Matthew Puckett.

Cowritten by Ivan Howard and Wallis Allen, Riviera’s latest single “It’s Too Late” is a slinky, 80s synth funk-inspired jam centered around a sinuous bass line reminiscent of Patrice Rushen’s “Forget Me Nots” and Cherelle’s “Saturday Love,” brief blasts of horn, four-on-the-floor-like drumming, atmospheric synths and a funky, two-step inducing hook and Howard’s achingly plaintive vocals. Sonically speaking, the song — to my ears — brings a few different things to mind: Phil Collins’ “Sussudio,” and Tears for Fears in particular, but with late night Quiet Storm-like yearning. It’s a slightly uptempo take on what has been Howard’s established sound and aesthetic. 

Kevin Moran and Ivan Howard created the accompanying hand-animated video for “It’s Never Too Late,” and the video is fittingly 80s-inspired: neon bright colors and explosive child-like energy. 

 

Picture One is the solo, synth pop recording project of Atlanta-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Thomas Barnwell. Slated for an April 3, 2020 release, Barnwell’s forthcoming self-produced, Picture One album Across The Depths of Seven Lakes is centered around self-aware 80s synth pop vibes and hook-driven analog synth melodies, chilly post-punk and New Wave soundscapes and Barnwell’s Ian Curtis-like vocals — but unlike his previously released material, the forthcoming album may arguably be the most pop-leaning and accessible he’s written to date. Thematically, Across The Depths of Seven Lakes navigates transcendence, resolve, magic and creativity and the turbulent waters of love and loss.

The album’s first single is the slow-burning, brooding and cinematic “Cycle of Belief.” Centered around, explosive, industrial-like beats, shimmering synth arpeggios and Barnwell’s detached baritone, “Cycle of Belief” simultaneously sounds inspired by early 80s Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears, and as though it could easily be on the Stranger Things soundtrack.

New Video: Salt Lake City’s Choir Boy Releases a Mischievous 80s Influenced Visual for Shimmering Pop Confection “Complainer”

Fronted by its Cleveland-born, Salt Lake City-based founder, frontman and creative mastermind, singer/songwriter Adam Klopp, the rising indie pop act Choir Boy derives its name from an insult that was given to Klopp in his early teens when he fronted some of his earliest bands. Given Klopp’s religious upbringing and angelic voice, the insult at the time, may have been both fair and fitting. 

After graduating high school, Klopp left Ohio for college in Utah. Although, his college career was short-lived, he left religion behind and quickly integrated into Provo’s and Salt Lake City’s underground music and art scenes, eventually starting Choir Boy. With the release of the project’s full-length debut, 2016’s Passive With Desire, Klopp’s work drew comparisons to Scott Walker, Kate Bush and Talk Talk.

Klopp’s Choir Boy debut won the attention of Dais Records, and building upon a growing profile, he released “Sunday Light” in 2018, which was followed by a reissue of Passive With Desire on vinyl and CD. Recently, Klopp has filled out the band with a permanent lineup: Chaz Costello (bass, sax), Jeff Kleinman (keys) and Michael Paulson (guitar). Each member has brought their unique influences to the table, helping to develop subtly more dynamic sound for the band — one in which, there’s a bit of post-punk grit and 80s-influenced swing to the mix. 

Slated for a May 8, 2020 release, Choir Boy’s sophomore album Gathering Swans is the first bit of recorded output with the band’s new lineup. And importantly, while seemingly drawing from Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry, The Cleaners from Venusand others, the material features Klopp’s achingly earnest and angelic falsetto, expressing those emotions that are particularly difficult to name. 

The album’s first single is the dance floor friendly  “Complainer.”  Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, some industrial-like drum machine and organic drumming, a looping and shimmering guitar line, an ehe enormous and rousingly anthemic hook and Klopp’s achingly tender falsetto, the song — to my ears, at least — seems like a synthesis between Meat Is Murder-era The Smiths, Tears for Fears and contemporaries like Washed Out. Interestingly, Klopp explains that the song “marked a shift in lyrical tone from previous releases. While many of our earlier songs serve as flowery lamentations of loss and grief, ‘Complainer’ snakily examines the self absorption of sadness. The opening line Oh my life was something I privately uttered while stewing over daily anxieties. It became comical to me that I would express my self pity like that, in earnest when my struggles seemed so relatively tame.  The song continues, It’s a phrase so funny when it’s spoken so sincere. But it’s not that bad, I’ve never really had it worse. I’m just a complainer. ‘Complainer’ multi-tasks as a pop song and a reminder to keep my privilege in check.”

Directed by the members of Choir Boy, edited by Choir Boy’s Adam Klopp and featuring an action cameo by Sam Rodriguez, the recently released video for “Complainer” is a decidedly lo-fi, fittingly 80s-inspired visual split between footage of the band playing the song in random locations while mischievously revealing the band’s involvement in a seedy, back alley, Fight Club-like fighting ring. 

New Video: Lower Dens Releases a Psychedelic Visual for “Hand of God”

Formed back in 2010, the acclaimed Baltimore-based dream pop act Lower Dens can trace its origins to when its primary songwriter and founding member Jana Hunter had grown tired of touring and decided to take a hiatus. For what was supposed to be their final tour as a solo artist, Hunter recruited a backing band which featured Geoff Graham, Abram Sanders and Will Adams. Finding that playing with a band was much more enjoyable to them than playing as a solo artist, helped Hunter form Lower Dens. “During that tour, I realized that it wasn’t the touring life that I hated, but more so that the kind of music I wrote as a solo artist wasn’t something I felt entirely comfortable sharing in performance setting. Lower Dens then was the eventual result of the decision to make music with the specific intention of sharing and enjoying it with others,” Hunter said at the time.

Lower Dens’ full-length debut, Twin Hand Movement was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who compared Hunter’s vocals to those of PJ Harvey and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Dusted Magazine, who praised the album’s lyrics for being “delivered without irony, yet self-aware enough to appreciate the obviousness.” While touring to support Twin Hand Movement, the band began writing on the road — but the limitations of writing on the road forced Hunter to work through a laptop and keyboard rather than a guitar, which lead to an increasing presence of synths on what would become their sophomore album Nootropics.

After they completed the tour to support Twin Hand Movement, the band chose to record their sophomore album at The Key Club Recording Company in Benton Harbor, MI.  Hunter cited the studio’s remote location as an imperative part of the writing and recording process. Geoff Graham added that the amount of time spent in the studio allowed them to add extra dimensions to the material to make it lusher and thicker. Largely influenced by Kraftwerk‘s Radioactivity, Fripp and Eno and David Bowie‘s production on Iggy Pop‘s The Idiot, Nootropics was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork. Rolling Stone and Spin. 

Building upon a growing profile, Lower Dens opened for Beach House and indie rock legends Yo La Tengo at the Baltimore stop of the legendary act’s  2013 Fade tour. The following month, they released “Non Grata” on a split 7″ with Baltimore-based band Horse Lords, an effort that was released as part of the Famous Class LAMC series, which benefited VH1’s Save The Music Foundation. 

2015 saw the release of the band’s third album Escape from Evil, which continued a run of critically applauded albums. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes — with the band now being a duo featuring its founding member and primary songwriter Jana Hunter and Nate Nelson. And during that period, the members of Lower Dens had been working on their highly-anticipated follow up to Escape from Evil, The Competition.

Released last September through their longtime label home Ribbon Music, the album is a pop album with an emotionally and politically urgent concept at its core. Competition, by design is the driving force of modern capitalism and the title is Hunnter’s term for a socio-psychological phenomenon that competition generates — a kind of psychosis that accelerates and amplifies our insecurities and anxieties to the point of overload. And as a result our intimacies, our communities and even our senses of self are corroded and distorted. “The issues that have shaped my life, for better or for worse, have to do with coming from a family and a culture that totally bought into this competitive mindset.  I was wild and in a lot of pain as a kid; home life was very bleak, and pop songs were a guaranteed escape to a mental space where beauty, wonder, and love were possible. I wanted to write songs that might have the potential to do that.”

Last year, the members of Lower Dens opened for hit-making act Of Monsters And Men, and they’ll begin this year with a headlining tour to support the album that starts on February 13, 2020 and includes a March 19, 2020 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. (You can check out the rest of the tour dates below.) In the meantime, the album’s latest single, the glistening and propulsive “Hand of God” is centered around Hunter’s achingly expressive vocals, shimmering synth arpeggios and four-on-the-floor drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. Sonically, the song bears a subtle resemblance to Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” and Songs from the Big Chair-era Tears for Fears — but centered around feelings of arrogance, humility and shame. 

“It’s like Cowboy Krautrock,” Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter says about the song in press notes.  “Imagine a wild west adventure, like City Slickers with the star, a wealthy white man. He’s devised a way to conquer God. He has some kind of vaguely dangerous journey, then comes upon God and declares victory. In his hubris, he goes to shake God’s hand, at which time he is psychedelically humbled, his little brain imploding.”

Directed by Aaron Brown and Robby Piantanida, the recently released video, manages to employ a decidedly DIY approach with a bright psychedelic colors — with Hunter seeing the hands of God. 

Led by its Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based creative mastermind, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist  Jordon Zadorozny, Blinker the Star initially began as solo recording project that eventually expanded into a trio that released two albums through A&M Records — 1995’s self-titled debut and 1996’s A Bourgeois Kitten. Throughout that period, the band toured steadily, building up a profile nationally and elsewhere.

In 1997, Zadorozny relocated from Montreal to Los Angeles, where he worked with Courtney Love, helping craft songs for Hole’s acclaimed Celebrity Skin. He also began soaking up new influences and became progressively fascinated with production. Signing with Dreamworks in 1999, the band, which featured Zadorozny, Failure’s Kelli Scott (drums), longtime bassist Pete Frolander and a collective of Southern California-based session musicians recorded and released their critically applauded August Everywhere. The band toured across North America with Our Lady Peace, Sloan, Failure and The Flaming Lips. 

Returning to Pembroke in 2002, Zadorozny built his first commercial recording studio and began working with Sam Roberts, producing and contributing drums on Roberts’ breakthrough debut EP The Inhuman Condition. The Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer also worked on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Chris Cornell, Lindsey Buckingham and others.

During the winter of 2013, Zadorozny wrote and recorded Still In Rome as a duo with Kelli Scott. Following a brief tour, he quickly settled into the production side, working on a number of collaborative projects including Digital Noise Academy, SheLoom, Abbey and The Angry Moon. He was also kept busy with production work with an eclectic array of artists.

We Draw Lines was the first Blinker The Star album that Zadorozny wrote and recorded as a solo project in quite some time. He followed We Draw Lines with Songs from Laniakea Beach, a one-off single “Future Fires” the 11235 EP and 2017’s 8 of Hearts. Continuing a run of recent prolificacy, Zodorozny’s latest Blinker The Star album Careful With Your Magic is slated for a September 20, 2019 release.

Careful With Your Magic‘s latest single is the  synth-driven and anthemic “Sweet Nothing.” Centered around a sinuous bass line, twinkling keys, atmospheric synths, blasts of shimmering guitars, a soaring hook and Zadorozny’s plaintive crooning, the song seems indebted to 80s synth pop — in particular Thompson Twins and Tears for Fears immediately come to mind. And while there’s a similar attention to craft, the song comes from a deeply personal and lived-in place, as the song’s narrator recognizes that they’re at a crossroads: do they grow up and take a chance on a relationship that could transform their life — or do they retreat back to single life? At some point, we all face this and the uncertainties of that decision.

“My new single ‘Sweet Nothing’ was written by myself and my good friend Bob Wilcox,” Jordon Zodorozny says in press notes. “The song started as an instrumental track that I completed where I was sort of aiming for a Thompson Twins vibe. Bob heard the music and immediately had melodic and lyrical ideas. Although Bob wrote all of the words, I feel he was tuning into some things that were happening in my life that made it quite easy for me to get behind when the time came to sing it.”

 

 

 

Throughout this site’s nine year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the ridiculously prolific, New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. And as you may recall, the New York-based JOVM mainstay has received attention from this site and elsewhere for funky, slinky produced and crowd-pleasing remixes and mashups of classic soul, funk. hip-hop and New Wave.

Over the past few months, Rhythm Scholar has released a kaleidoscopic remix of Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams‘ smash hit collaboration “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and a propulsive, house music-leaning remix of one of my favorite Tears for Fears tracks “Head Over Heels.” Interestingly, the New York-based mainstay’s latest remix finds him creating a swaggering and strutting 70s soul and funk-inspired mashup of Warren G.’s and Nate Dogg’s “Regulate” that features loving homages to Edwin Starr, The Blackbyrds, Kurtis Blow, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, some explosive scratching and an extensive nod at Stevie Wonder‘s “Superstition” — all while retaining the noir-ish feel of the original.

 

Crash Adams is a rather mysterious, up-and-coming indie electro pop act and their forthcoming album is inspired by the sounds that spoke to the bandmembers while growing up — but sonically speaking, they want their sound to be more of a feeling than a genre. Interestingly, their latest single “Astronauts”  is a shimmering bit of pop that recalls Tears for Fears, M83 and St. Lucia, as the track reveals an ambitious band that can craft an enormous, rousingly anthemic hook paired with arpeggiated synths and plaintive vocals. 

“There are so many ‘astronauts’ in the world, they may know it or not, but eventually they will achieve everything they’ve wanted out of their town on earth,” the band says in press notes. “It will be hard, and they will be considered different from those who aren’t astronauts. But in the end, the view of earth is greatest from outer space.”

 

New Audio: Rhythm Scholar Releases a Club Friendly Remix of Tears for Fears’ “Head Over Heels”

Throughout the course of this site’s nine year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink over the ridiculously prolific, New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. The New York-based JOVM mainstay has received attention from this site and elsewhere for funky and slickly produced, crowd-pleasing mashups of classic soul, funk, hip-hop and New Wave. 

Last month, Rhythm Scholar released a kaleidoscopic remix of Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams‘ smash hit collaboration “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Interestingly, the longtime JOVM mainstay returns with a propulsive, house music-influenced remix of one of my favorite Tears for Fears tracks “Head Over Heels.”The Rhythm Scholar remix pushes the tempo up towards the club friendly area, while still retaining the song’s familiar and beloved melody, and urgently swooning quality. Interestingly, the remix does two very important things: it reminds listeners that well-crafted and well-written songs manage to stand up to the test of time — and provides a unique and modern take on a smash hit that most of us intimately know.