Tag: The Afghan Whigs

New Video: Mark Lanegan Releases a Hallucinogenic Visual for “Night Flight to Kabul”

Over the past few years, I’ve spilled a fair share of virtual ink covering Mark Lanegan, the Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, known as the frontman and founding member of Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees, and an acclaimed solo artist, who has collaborated with an eclectic array of artists and bands — including  Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain on an unreleased Lead Belly cover/tribute album recorded before the release of Nevermind; as a member of the renowned grunge All-Star supergroup/side project Mad Season with Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready; as a member of  Queens of the Stone Age featured on five of the band’s albums — 2000’s Rated R, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, 2007’s Era Vulgaris and 2013’s . . . Like Clockwork; with The Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins; as well as former Belle and Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell on three albums. Additionally, Lanegan has contributed or guested on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley-Bird, Creature with the Atom Brain, Moby, Bomb the Bass, Soulsavers, Greg Dulli’s The Twilight Singers, UNKLE and others.

As a solo artist, Lanegan has released 10 critically applauded albums that have seen a fair amount of commercial success. (Ironically, his solo work has seen much more commercial success than his work with Screaming Trees.) The Ellensburg-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay’s tenth solo album Gargoyle was a collaboration between him, British-born and-based musician Rob Marshall and longtime collaborator, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Alain Johannes. That album’s material was both an expansion and refinement of the Krautrock-tinged blues of his two preceding albums  2012’s Blues Funeral and 2014’s Phantom Radio.

Somebody’s Knocking, Lanegan’s 11th full-length solo album is slated for an October 18, 2019 release through Heavenly Recordings, and the album’s material finds the acclaimed singer/songwriter turning to some of his most formative musical influences and loves — electronic music. “I’ve always been into electronic music since I was a kid,” Lanegan says in press notes. “I think the reason those elements have become more obvious in my music is that my tastes have changed as I’ve grown older. The bulk of what I listen to now is electronic. Alain Johannes and I had actually written “Penthouse High” for Gargoyle but then it didn’t really fit on that record. I have been a huge fan of New Order and Depeche Mode forever and have wanted to do a song along those lines for a long time – a blatantly catchy, old-school dance-type song.”

Although Somebody’s Knocking came together during an 11 day session in Los Angeles, much of the album’s deepest musical influences are decidedly European, including the album’s two other writing partners Martin Jenkins, who records as Pye Corner Audio and the aforementioned Rob Marshall, who contribute some newer, murkier forms. Reportedly, Lanegan approached working with each of the album’s writing partners from the perspective and lens of a fan and interpreter. 

Lyrically speaking, the album purportedly sets the listener down multiple rabbit holes, as Lanegan paints psychedelic pictures inspired by the music. “I feel like I write lyrics instinctively. I let the melody come first and then it tells me what the words are going to be and I write whatever feels appropriate,” Lanegan says in press notes. “That said, I’m also influenced by everything I’m into. I don’t usually like to talk about what a song means to me; I prefer that the people who connect with a song do so with their own interpretation. It never crossed my mind what Neil Young meant by After The Gold Rush, only the personal movie it created in my head. My entire life, all the music that I’ve connected to has drawn me in like that. Joy Division, Nick Drake, Son House, The 13th Floor Elevators, The Gun Club… all the music that meant the most to me, the music that saved my life was the music that told my own story back to me.”

Naturally, some aspects of the real world can’t help but seep their way into the album’s material. “It seems to me that the entire world is in a weird, precarious place right now,” the Ellensburg-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “I try to not be someone in a constant state of worry and alarm but watching the massive divide that is taking place and the political situations, especially in the US and UK makes me think, ‘what the fuck are these idiots thinking?’ The hatred, racism and all this other fear-driven shit, these ‘adults’ that continually drive the machine that perpetuates this ignorance to their own ends should all be in the prison cells instead of the non-violent drug “offenders” in them now. I can’t specifically say how any of this effects my writing but I know that most of the things that occupy my thoughts have a way of coming back out in a song.”

Now, as you may recall, I wrote about the bluesy-Heaven Up Here-era Echo and the Bunnymen-like “Letter Never Sent.” The album’s latest single “Night Flight to Kabul” may arguably one of  be the album’s more dance floor friendly tracks, as it’s centered around thumping, four-on-the-floor drumming, rumbling bass lines, shimmering and skronky guitars, a tight motorik groove and Lanegan’s imitable croon. In some way, the song will likely remind listeners a bit of a bluesy take on the likes of Gary Numan and New Order. But lyrically, the song evokes a hallucinatory and surrealist fever dream, in which things aren’t quite what they seem. 

Directed by Dean Karr, the recently released video for “Night Flight to Kabul” is a hallucinogenic and feverish dream. ‘“The artistry and genius of Dean Karr is what made this video happen,” Mark Lanegan says in press notes. “5,000 still photographs taken in eight hours were painstakingly put together to give the appearance of a strange wraithlike figure moving weirdly through the desolate landscape of the Salton Sea. My third video with Dean in three different decades and I have to say this was the best. The most artistically challenging and satisfying.”

“We had been talking about doing this video for ‘Night Flight to Kabul’ for a month or two and my only concern was how could I pull this off with such a challenging budget for my friend?” The video’s director, Dean Karr adds in press notes. “Being a photographer before I was ever a director, I decided to use my Nikon D810 still camera for the entire music video and turn it into animation throughout the entire clip. What a simple solution! There’s lots of post work involved, which was done by editor and FX artist Joel Nathaniel Smith. There’s alot to be said for the simplicity of working WITHOUT a crew, it was just Mark, myself and a fan of Mark’s (Jason Hall) who drove 3 hours out of his way to meet us at the The Salton Sea, CA to help us shoot a beyond unique video! I think this is one of the freshest looking things out there today and love the ‘melty’ moments, which remind me of doing hallucinogenics back in the day!”

New Audio: Carriers Returns with a Deeply Personal, New Single

Curt Kiser is a Cincinnati-based singer/songwriter, who skipped college and spent the past few years playing in a number of nationally touring bands, and during that same period of time, Kiser has been meticulously crafting his proper debut as a songwriter and solo artist — in step with his own personal development. Kiser started his latest project Carriers back in 2014 and the project found him working with a collection of friends and associates including The National‘s Bryan Devendorf and The Afghan Whigs‘ John Curley, who have helped him bring his sound and vision to life. 

Kiser’s Carriers full-length debut  Now Is The Time For Loving Me, Yourself & Everyone Else is slated for an August 23, 2019 release through Good Eye Records, and the album thematically speaking finds Kiser taking stock of life, death and his relationships — while being grateful for being around another day. “Overall it’s about what we have and remaining present, while still being able to have an honest perspective of the past and our future,” Kiser explains in press notes. “I’ve personally found a lot of peace in just working hard and staying focused on what I’ve got going on, trusting, rather than being consumed with striving. This record process has taught me a lot about patience. Life will continue to teach me to have more. I’m just trying to accept what happens and handle it the best I can. Patience is forever.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about album track “Patience” an anthemic and brooding track that sonically brought Springsteen and JOVM mainstays Caveman, while focusing on finding peace and calm in trusting the natural rhythms of life, rather than being consumed with relentless striving; of focusing on the fact that things sometimes happen within their own time and pace. Now Is The Time For Loving Me, Yourself & Everyone Else’s latest single, the Dire Straights-like “Another Guy” is a shimmering and brooding bit of pop centered around an uptempo arrangement, a soaring hook and deeply personal, confessional songwriting. 

“When you’re writing a song and in the midst of capturing what is inspiring it, you usually don’t think about anything else but just staying focused on that moment and letting the song appear and become realized. At least, that’s how it happens for me,” Curt Kiser says in a lengthy statement. 

“‘Another Guy’ is a song that I knew I needed to write but I never knew if anyone else would really hear it beyond some close friends and family. It’s a song about a dream I had that holds a lot of weight and significance for me. While trying to tell the story of this one, I’ve had trouble coming up with the right words to do so. How do you explain a spiritual encounter and fully convey what it meant for you?

“I was lifted into the air, saw a statue of Jesus break apart, come to life and we had a conversation. It was pretty weird. I think I’m okay with letting this song speak for itself. It was a dream. It was extremely vivid. It changed my life & my overall outlook of myself and the depths of the supernatural realm. It opened me up to new possibilities and something I had never been shown before while also confirming some things I’ve held as truth.

I know what it means for me and when people hear this song, I hope that you can feel something similar to what I felt while having the encounter and that it changes the atmosphere wherever you are.” 

“All the drum parts were worked out in a series of rehearsals with Curt in an old crumbling factory over the course of one winter,” Bryan Devendorf says of the song’s creation. “I didn’t know it at the time but we were a couple buildings up from a locally important studio where we would eventually record the drums for Carriers the next summer. 

“My first drum teacher, Steve Earle (not the singer-songwriter), had recorded at Ultrasuede many years before with the Afghan Whigs. I was fortunate to get in there too before it closed. Shag carpet, parquet floor, and cedar paneling defined the live room whose centerpiece was the studio’s original name — QCA STUDIOS — emblazoned on wall-mounted shag. Nice, warm, and low lit. 

“Adding to the cosmic ‘circularness’ of the situation, the bassist on the Carriers sessions John Curley, bassist in the Afghan Whigs. It was pretty wild for me there, setting up drums while John set up mics, me thinking back to my early days, seeing Whigs shows and practicing drums in my parent’s basement and suddenly there I was…. 

“‘Another Guy’ like all the Carriers tracks I worked on was a really fun challenge — I really had to work hard to get all the forms down, half bars, etc. Curt, why do you need half bars?!!! 

“The demo version of “Another Guy” was recorded in the control room at Ultrasuede in July of 2015.,” John Curley adds. “It was just Curt playing acoustic guitar and singing. The demo is slower than the version on the record and it has an almost melancholy vibe to it.

“As I remember it, the song began to grow into its current form when we recorded it with Bryan. It became more of a pop song. The tempo picked up and we changed the arrangement somewhat. The bass part I was hearing in my head came together for me when we played it with drums. I really like the tight snare fills that he throws in.

“It was cool to see how the songs on this record evolved from the early demos into what you hear on the record. Curt encouraged everyone involved to contribute something unique and gave us the space to do that.”

New Video: Rituals of Mine’s Queer “Space Jam” Themed Visuals for Sultry “Burst”

Initially formed in 2009 as Sister Crayon, the acclaimed Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo  Rituals of Mine, currently comprised of singer/songwriter Terra Lopez and percussionist Adam Pierce have received attention for a sound that draws from 90s trip hop, footwork and  downtempo R&B — and for years of relentless touring up and down the West Coast, playing house shows, DIY venues and basements with the likes of The Album Leaf, Built to Spill, Antemasque, Le Butcherettes, Maps & Atlases, Doomtree and others. Adding to a quickly growing profile, the Los Angeles-based duo’s first two albums — 2011’s Bellow and 2013’s Cynic — were released to critical acclaim. 

2015 was a profoundly harrowing and difficult year for Lopez: her father committed suicide and several moths later, her best friend Lucas Johnson tragically died in an accident. Reeling from the grief of inconsolable and unexpected loss, Lopez in a period of deep reflection felt the need to reassess her life and her work in Sister Crayon. She decided to put the Sister Crayon name to rest, moving forward with a new moniker  — Rituals of Mine. As Terra Lopez wrote at the time, “It was a mantra that I repeated under my breath on a daily basis when the loss I was experiencing felt too heavy at times. Music, the act of creating, performing, touring, writing, singing, experimenting – all the rituals we have created to get through life.”

After years of obscuring her own story and emotions through metaphorical lyrics, Lopez felt a sudden confidence to write much more directly about her experiences and life as a queer woman of color. Lopez began fleshing out the material on what would become her Rituals of Mine debut Devoted with her longtime collaborator and producer Wes Jones, who helped turn her heartfelt writing on her trauma and personal growth into urgent and pulsating electronic tracks. Lopez then enlisted Adam Pierce to play drums, knowing that their background in metal percussion would provide an intensity that could match her own.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you might recall that last year was a very busy year for Lopez and Pierce. They opened for a handful of dates for The Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill’s co-headliing tour, including a Chicago area stop last April. They also opened for Garbage during the multi-plantium Grammy Award-winning band’s US tour. They also went on their first UK tour with JOVM mainstay Geographer and The Seshen. 

Interestingly, the duo’s highly anticipated Wes jones and Neal Pogue co-produced follow-up to Devoted, Sleeper Hold EP is slated for an October 4, 2019 release through Carpark Records — and the EP will include the urgent anti-Trump anthem “No Time To Go Numb,” a track that forcefully reminded the listener that now isn’t the time to slink back from the horrors of a power mad, greedy and hateful administration; that we have to be fueled by righteous anger and fight like hell for the things that truly matter.  “Burst,” Sleeper Hold’s second and latest single is a glitchy and hyper-modern bit of electro R&B that’s centered around stuttering beats, tweeter and woofer rocking low end and Lopez’s sultry, self-assured vocals. And while the track may recall Timbaland’s forward-thinking work with Aaliyah and Missy Elliott, Rituals of Mine’s latest single is driven by Lopez’s commitment to unvarnished emotional honesty.  “I made a promise to myself that I’m no longer going to play small or hide behind metaphors, that I’m going to really lean into self-confidence, self-reliance and take up space,” Lopez says in a statement to Billboard. “‘Burst is the beginning of that.” 

Co-directed by Kris Esfandiari and Colette Levesque, the recently released video for “Burst” features Rituals of Mine’s Terra Lopez playing basketball against a team of evil and monstrous figures. At one point, her younger self appears and helps Lopez win the game. According to the statement Lopez wrote to Billboard, the recently released video represents overcoming past trauma to effectively move on in your life, with the young protagonist representing a younger version of herself. “The opponents all represent obstacles I’ve had to face being a queer woman of color in this industry … this video was a way for me to confront both my childhood traumas and adulthood obstacles through the activity that has always grounded me,” she says. “Also, I just really wanted to create our version of a Queer Space Jam for 2019.”

 

I’ve spilled my fair share of virtual ink, covering Mark Lanegan, the Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who known as the frontman, and founding member of  Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees, and an acclaimed solo artist, who has collaborated with an eclectic array of artists and bands — including  Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain on an unreleased Lead Belly cover/tribute album recorded before the release of Nevermind; as a member of the renowned grunge All-Star supergroup/side project Mad Season with Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam’Mike McCready; as a member of  Queens of the Stone Age featured on five of the band’s albums — 2000’s Rated R, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, 2007’s Era Vulgaris and 2013’s . . . Like Clockwork; with The Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins; as well as former Belle and Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell on three albums. Additionally, Lanegan has contributed or guested on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley-BirdCreature with the Atom BrainMobyBomb the BassSoulsavers, Greg Dulli’s The Twilight SingersUNKLE and others.

Lanegan’s solo career has seen him release ten, critically applauded albums that have seen a fair amount of commercial success. (Ironically,. his solo work has actually seen more commercial success than any of his work with Screaming Trees.) The Ellensburg-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s tenth solo album Gargoyle found him collaborating with British-born and-based musician Rob Marshall, who’s best known for stints with  Exit Calm and Humanist and his longtime collaborator, multi-instrumentalist and producer Alain Johannes. Interestingly, the album’s material was both an expansion and refinement of the Krautrock-tinged blues of his two previously released albums 2012’s Blues Funeral and 2014’s Phantom Radio.

Now, as you may recall, Lanegan’s 11th full-length album Somebody’s Knocking is slated for an October 18, 2019 release though Heavenly Recordings, and the album reportedly less the tale of a brooding rock veteran and more that of someone consumed by a lifelong love affair with music and words. Interestingly, much of the album’s material finds Lanegan turning to some of his most formative musical influences and loves — electronic music.

“I’ve always been into electronic music since I was a kid,” Lanegan says in press notes. “I think the reason those elements have become more obvious in my music is that my tastes have changed as I’ve grown older. The bulk of what I listen to now is electronic. Alain Johannes and I had actually written “Penthouse High” for Gargoyle but then it didn’t really fit on that record. I have been a huge fan of New Order and Depeche Mode forever and have wanted to do a song along those lines for a long time – a blatantly catchy, old-school dance-type song.”

Although Lanegan’s forthcoming 11th album came together during an eleven day session in Los Angeles, many of the album’s deepest musical influences are decidedly European, including some newer, murkier forms provided by Martin Jenkins. who records as Pye Corner Audio or Rob Marshall, a collaborator on Gargoyle and on his own, forthcoming debut album as Humanist. In each case, Lanegan approached working with each of the writers from the perspective of a fan.

Lyrically speaking, the album purportedly sets the listener down multiple rabbit holes, as Lanegan paints psychedelic pictures inspired by the music. “I feel like I write lyrics instinctively. I let the melody come first and then it tells me what the words are going to be and I write whatever feels appropriate,” Lanegan says in press notes. “That said, I’m also influenced by everything I’m into. I don’t usually like to talk about what a song means to me; I prefer that the people who connect with a song do so with their own interpretation. It never crossed my mind what Neil Young meant by After The Gold Rush, only the personal movie it created in my head. My entire life, all the music that I’ve connected to has drawn me in like that. Joy Division, Nick Drake, Son House, The 13th Floor Elevators, The Gun Club… all the music that meant the most to me, the music that saved my life was the music that told my own story back to me.”

Naturally, some aspects of the real world can’t help but seep their way into the album’s material. “It seems to me that the entire world is in a weird, precarious place right now,” the Ellensburg-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “I try to not be someone in a constant state of worry and alarm but watching the massive divide that is taking place and the political situations, especially in the US and UK makes me think, ‘what the fuck are these idiots thinking?’ The hatred, racism and all this other fear-driven shit, these “adults” that continually drive the machine that perpetuates this ignorance to their own ends should all be in the prison cells instead of the non-violent drug “offenders” in them now. I can’t specifically say how any of this effects my writing but I know that most of the things that occupy my thoughts have a way of coming back out in a song.”

Centered around a motorik groove, shimmering guitar lines and a tight hook, “Letter Never Sent,” the album’s latest single manages to bear an uncanny resemblance to Heaven Up Here-era Echo and the Bunnymen but imbued with a bluesy tinge.

 

Cincinnati-based singer/songwriter Curt Kiser skipped college and has spent the past few years playing in a number of bands that have toured across the US — and during that time, Kiser has been meticulously crafting his proper debut as a songwriter in step with his own personal development. In 2014, Kiser started his latest project Carriers, which found him working with a collective of friends and associates including The National‘s Bryan Devendorf and The Afghan Whigs‘ John Curley to bring his sound and vision to life.

Slated for an August 23, 2019 release through Good Eye Records, Kiser’s Carriers’ full-length debut Now Is The Time For Loving Me, Yourself & Everyone Else thematically finds Kiser taking stock of life, death, his relationships — while being grateful for being another day. “Overall it’s about what we have and remaining present, while still being able to have an honest perspective of the past and our future,” Kiser explains in press notes. “I’ve personally found a lot of peace in just working hard and staying focused on what I’ve got going on, trusting, rather than being consumed with striving. This record process has taught me a lot about patience. Life will continue to teach me to have more. I’m just trying to accept what happens and handle it the best I can. Patience is forever.”

“Patience,” Now Is The Time For Loving Me, Yourself & Everyone Else‘s latest single is an anthemic and brooding track, centered around shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths, a propulsive bass line and some mesmerizing percussion — and while to my ears, bearing a resemblance to Springsteen and JOVM mainstays Caveman, the reflective track focuses on finding peace and calm in trusting the natural rhythms of life, rather than being consumed with striving; things take their own time — with the recognition that sometimes that’s best.

 

 

 

Initially formed back in 2009 as Sister Crayon, the acclaimed Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo  Rituals of Mine, comprised of  Terra Lopez and Dani Fernandez developed a national profile through years of relentless touring up and down the West Coast, playing house shows, DIY venues, basement rooms, followed by touring with the likes of The Album Leaf, Built to Spill, Antemasque, Le Butcherettes, Maps & Atlases, Doomtree and others. Adding to a quickly growing profile, the Los Angeles-based duo’s first two albums — 2011’s Bellow and 2013’s Cynic — were released to critical acclaim, while cementing a reputation for crafting cathartic material centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, soulful vocals and trip hop-inspired production.

2015’s Wes Jones-produced album Devoted continued their successful run of critical applause with the album landing on a number of indie “Top Ten Albums of 2015” lists; but despite the attention the album received, that year was a rather harrowing and difficult year for the duo’s Terra Lopez, as her father committed suicide and several months later, her best friend Lucas Johnson died in a tragic accident. Reeling from the grief of such profoundly unexpected loss, the duo felt the need to put the Sister Crayon name to rest, moving forward with their new mane Rituals of Mine. As Terra Lopez wrote at the time, “It was a mantra that I repeated under my breath on a daily basis when the loss I was experiencing felt too heavy at times. Music, the act of creating, performing, touring, writing, singing, experimenting – all the rituals we have created to get through life.”

2016 saw the re-issue of the Tom Coyne re-mastered Devoted through Warner Brothers Records and the re-issue featured some previous unreleased remixes and B-sides. And although some time has passed since I’ve personally written about the acclaimed Los Angeles-based pop duo, Lopez and Fernandez have been incredibly busy — earlier this year, they opened for a number of dates for The Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill’s co-headliing tour, and they’re currently opening for Garbage during the multi-plantium Grammy Award-winning band’s US tour. Additionally, the duo recently announced their first UK tour in November with Geographer and The Seshen. They’re also currently working on Devoted‘s follow up with longtime producer Wes Jones and Neal Pogue — and the first batch of new material from the duo is the righteously furious anti-Trump anthem “No Time To Go Numb.” Centered around a hyper modern production featuring stuttering and thumping beats, distorted vocal samples over which Lopez sings and spits fire, reminding the listener, that now isn’t the time to slink back from the horrors of a power mad and greedy administration; that it’s time to be fueled by righteous anger and fight like hell for the things that truly matter. As the duo’s Terra Lopez explains in press notes ” We started writing this song on Inauguration Day. It was a bleak time in the studio and we were feeling very hopeless, like most of the country. Two years later and the collective fear and disgust we all felt is still there, if not compounded, and that really inspired every lyric in this song. I wanted to address things that stay on my mind: the mediocrity of men and how our society treats womxn, the strength of the LGBTQ community and the resiliency of POC. I’m angry but also hopeful and ready to fight, to keep fighting. I’m so tired of seeing the same shit repeat itself – it’s time we set the bar higher. This song is an anthem for the LGBTQ community, to womxn and to people of color.

We carry so much on our shoulders, on our hearts. And this current administration continues to burden us and place us in danger, so we have to stick together. This is my way of showing up for us. “