Tag: Tears for Fears

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. 

Advertisements

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. 

New Video: Synth Pop Act Body of Light Pair a Decidedly 80s-Influenced Single with Slick Cinematic Visuals

Comprised of sibling duo Andrew and Alexander Jarson, the Arizona-based synth pop act Body of Light can trace their origins to Jarsons involvement in the acclaims Ascetic House collective. Initially, what began as a vehicle for the duo to explore noise and sound during their early teens has evolved into an established electronic production and artist unit that specializes in music that draws from the Jarson’s individual and shared experiences and possesses elements of New Wave, freestyle, goth and techno. 

Slated for a July 26, 2019 release through Dais Records, Body of LIght’s forthcoming, third album Time to Kill finds the Arizona-based duo refining their sound with a bolder sonic palette while thematically  weaving stories of love and obsession in an era of technological bondage and increasingly fleeting exhilaration. Interestingly, Time to Kill’s latest single, album title track “Time to Kill” is centered around a broodingly cinematic and dance floor friendly production consisting of relentless, tweeter and woofer thumping beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and a soaring hook paired with plaintive vocals. And while the decidedly 80s goth/synth pop track recalls early Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears, Power, Corruption and Lies-era New Order and Upstairs at Eric’s-era Yaz, the song possesses a modern, studio sheen — without polishing away the swooning Romanticism at the core of the song.

Directed by Travis Waddell, the gorgeously shot, recently released video for “Time to Kill” is split between slow-motion, live footage of the duo performing in s small, sweaty basement club in front of ecstatic fans — and footage of the duo brooding in a studio in front of moody lighting. 

New Video: Humble Fire’s Dream-like Take on an 80s Classic

Currently comprised of founding members Dave Epley (guitar) and Nefra Faltas (vocals) with Xaq Rothman (bass) and Jason Arrol (drums), the Washington, DC-based dream pop quintet Humble Fire can trace their origins to when its founding duo met through another project that was formed through a Craigslist ad — although Humble Fire started in earnest around 2011 when Epley and Faltas recruited Rothman, who responded to Dave’s Craigslist ad seeking a bassist with a memorable manifesto. And although Arrol is the newest member of the band, joining in 2016, he’s a long-time friend and DC area DIY mainstay. Interestingly, the band’s current lineup finds the band celebrating the individual influences that each member draws from, including bluegrass, classical, punk. hip-hop and pop through a propulsive rhythm section, plaintive and vulnerable vocals, shimmering, pedal effected guitars and big hooks.

The DC-based dream pop quintet’s critically appalled sophomore album Builder thematically touched upon physical and emotional experiences around loss and reconstruction, including the deaths of loved ones, failed romances and the shocks and stresses navigated as a band. Through all of those experiences, the members of the DC-based dream pop act have come to appreciate that reconstruction isn’t something that you can tackle on your own; it frequently requires a team. And in some way, Builder is as much about the process of putting the pieces back to gather, as it is about the relationships that can either help or hinder that process. Additionally, the album found the band thematically asking questions about changing identities — particularly, “Who am I now, in this world without my parents in it?” and “How can I take care of others without losing myself?”

Interestingly, the band follows the release of their critically applauded sophomore album with a shimmering, dream pop take on Tears for Fears‘ classic “Mad World,” that retains the brooding dread, anxiousness and horror of the original; however, the Humble Fire take is a decidedly political take, meant to explore the outrage and despair felt by people, who want to make a positive change when everything has become a Kafkaesque nightmare. In fact, the band sees the lyrics as proof the the personal is always personal, with the song reflecting how systems of oppression can destroy the soul and humanity of individuals and communities. And although Tears for Fears wrote “Mad World” almost 40 years ago, it should be a reminder that a timeless song always finds a way to resonate while subtly changing for a new time and generation

Directed by Jen Meller and edited by Raul Zahir De Leon, the recently released, dream-like video follows the band’s Nefra Faltas wandering through a maze, struggling to find and reconnect with her bandmates. Through her journey, she encounters some surreal and disturbingly symbolic imagery, including her own death.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays White Lies Release Anthemic New Single Paired with Gorgeous and Cinematic Visuals

London-based indie trio White Lies’s aptly titled, fifth, full-length album Five is slated for a February 1, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings, and while marking the trio’s tenth anniversary together, the album reportedly finds the British pop trio pushing their sound in new and adventurous directions paired with arguably some of the most deeply personal and intimate lyrics of the band’s entire catalog. Unlike its predecessors, the writing and recording process was Transatlantic, and included a trip to Los Angeles, where they worked on new material with Ed Bueller, who produced the band’s chart-topping debut To Lose My Life and their third album Big TV. Throughout the process, the band enlisted past associates and collaborators to assist on the proceedings including engineer James Brown, who has worked with Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters; the renowned producer Flood, who contributes synths and keys on a couple of tracks; and Grammy Award-winning Alan Moulder, who has worked with Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and The Killers to mix the album.

Now, as you may recall, the Snow Patrol-like album single “Time to Give,” was an ambitious song that clocked in at a little over 7 and a half minutes, and was centered around a lush yet moody arrangement of shimmering synths, a propulsive motorik groove, Harry McVeigh’s sonorous baritone and an arena rock-friendly hook — but underneath the enormous hooks was a song that focuses on a dysfunctional and abusive relationship from a real and lived-in place. In fact, the song feels so lived-in that it bristles with the bitterness and hurt that comes from being in a relationship in which you’ve left broken, fucked up and confused. “Believe It,” continued in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor as it’s full of enormous, arena rock friendly hooks while bearing a resemblance to Pet Shop Boys, Tears for Fears, Jef Barbara and Joy Division/New Order.

“Tokyo,” Five’s latest single continues a run of rousingly anthemic singles centered around enormous hooks, arpeggiated synths, razor sharp grooves and McVeigh’s inimitable vocals. And while the song reminds me of Tears For Fears’ “Shout,” “Change” and “Everybody Wants to Rule The World,” the song will remind the listener, that the British trio have an unerring and uncanny ability to write a triumphant, arena rock-like song. 

The recently released, gorgeously shot video for “Tokyo” was directed by long-time visual collaborator David Pablos and was shot back-to-back with the video for previously released single “Believe It,” in Tijuana, Mexico late last year. As the band explains in press notes “Once again we were lucky to work with David in Tijuana to create what is our best video since ‘Death’. His unique knowledge of the area affording us access into some of the city’s most stunning and bizarre locations helps bring to life his vision of stories of love and loss. Where in the world would you be able to film a scene of the band sat on a 4-story high nude woman? Tijuana, that’s where apparently and resulted in our favourite collaboration with him yet.”

Pablos adds  “As soon as I heard the song I knew I wanted to shoot the video during night time. Everything starts with us seeing scenes of life through windows from the outside, but once we go inside we discover nothing is exactly what it looks like or what it appears to be. Each window is a metaphor; more than a real space it is a representation of a mental state. But more than portraying the city, what was important was the human face and to capture the personalities of each one of the characters.”