Tag: The B52s

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

New Video: Mother Feather’s Ass-Kicking Death Match Visuals for “Red Hot Metal”

Comprised of Ann Courtney (vocals), Elizabeth Carena (vocals, keys), Chris Foley (guitar), Gunnar Olsen (drums), and the band’s newest member Seth Ondracek (bass), the Brooklyn-based rock/heavy metal act Mother Feather quickly emerged into the national spotlight with their 2016 self-titled, full-length debut. The Brooklyn-based metal quartet played 41 dates of that year’s Warped Tour, went on a series of sold-out UK dates, which featured a live session for BBC Radio 1 Rock Show, played sets at Rock On The Range and Carolina Rebellion — and they opened for The B52s.

Building upon a growing national and international profile, the Brooklyn-based metal quintet’s sophomore album Constellation Baby will be officially released on Friday through Metal Blade Records and Black Light Media. And interestingly enough, the album finds the band expanding upon their high-energy “pop cock rock” in an ambitious, kicking ass and taking names fashion while retaining the raw, playful and feminine energy that won them attention. Of course, upping the ante isn’t a small feat. As the band’s Ann Courtney says of the album and its writing sessions “All I knew was that I needed the new album to be awesome. ‘Mother Feather’ is such an empowered album, and when I began working on the new material, I was really struggling to feel that way. I knew this album needed to be even better than the first, and to capitalize on its momentum it had to happen quickly. It was a tremendous amount of pressure to put myself under, and it was a dragon I knew I wanted to slay alone – at least at the beginning.” So Courtney locked herself away to write, to face her depression and stare down some deeply uncomfortable feelings. “Truthfully, I went to some very dark and lonely places. But once I let myself go there, that’s when the album started to take shape. There’s a lot of fever and intimacy in those songs. I laid myself bare.”

With her bandmates assisting Courtney to fully-flesh out and realize the album’s material, the end result is reportedly a collection that’s cathartic and exuberant. We are diving way deeper into the question, ‘Who is Mother Feather?'” Courtney says, “and I think that the answer is extremely emotional. It’s eclectic, but it all sounds like Mother Feather. This album will definitely expand what that means.” Adds Courtney, “It definitely wasn’t a given that things would come together though. It was hard won, even back to the writing. Everyone in the band went way out of their way to make it happen because we wanted it to happen. Everyone had something to say. Ideas were pushed to the limit and the result is the collective combination of those forces of energy. We were extremely vigilant about working through ideas. Stuff got worked, and it got worked again. In spite of the challenges — personal, financial, artistic — we all tried really hard to work together and create the thing that everyone meant, collectively.”

Album single “Red Hot Metal” is centered around power chord-based riffs, thunderous drumming, enormous, raise-your -beer-to the-sky-and-shout-along, arena rock-friendly hook sand pop belter harmonies delivered by Courtney and Carena. Sonically, the song recalls Heart, Lita Ford and 80s hair metal, complete with the swaggering confidence of old pros, whose songs have a bigger purpose. 

Directed by Michael Thackray, the recently released video for “Red Hot Metal”  stars wrestlers Maria Manic and Matt “The Bulldozer” Tremont grappling in a sweaty and bloody death match. For a significant portion of the match, Manic looks as though she’ll lose — until she gets help from the members of Mother Feather. 

The Brooklyn-based metal quintet is playing a record release show later tonight at The Knitting Factory and it looks like it’ll be a helluva time. 

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.”

Comprised of Rachel Ratner (vocals, guitar), Dave Ramm (drum), who’s best known as a former member of The Intelligence, and Matt Nyce (bass), the Seattle, WA-based punk band Wimps formed back in 2012 — an with the release of 2013’s debut Repeat released through End of Time Records, a 7 inch record released on the micro-label Help Yourself Records, and 2015’s Super Me EP, the Seattle-based punk trio quickly developed a reputation as one of the area’s best punk bands; in fact, the were voted Best Punk Band of the year, in a Best of Seattle Reader Poll.

Wimps’ third full-length album Garbage People is slated for a July 13, 2018 release through Kill Rock Stars! Records, and the album reportedly finds the band expanding upon their sound with the material employing the use of saxophone, keyboard and cowbell. Also, the album finds the band tackling much more serious concerns — gender pay inequality, the decline of bee populations as a result of climate change, insomnia and wanting to steal a pizza . . . but only if it’s these and so on.  Interestingly enough while expanding upon their sound and lyrical concerns, the album’s latest single, album title track “Garbage People” finds the band drawing influence from DEVO, The B52s, The Breeders and others in a way that feels anachronistic, as it sounds and feels as though it could have been released in 1979, 1999, 2009 or 2018, completing with a sneering, tongue-in-cheek irony.

 

 

Live Concert Photography: The Goodnight Darlings with herMajesty at Mercury Lounge 2/28/18

Featuring core members Kat Auster (vocals); Wilson (guitar), who has had lengthy stints touring with in the backing bands of The Fugees and Wyclef Jean; and Jaramillo (drums), the New York-based indie act The Goodnight Darlings have received both local and national attention for a sultry, dance floor friendly sound that draws from 80s pop, hip-hop, Combat Rock-era The Clash, New Wave, post-punk and shoegaze. The local indie rock stalwarts headlined an early show at Mercury Lounge that featured JOVM mainstays herMajesty as the night’s opener. Check out photos from the show below.

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Over the years, I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based art rock/glam rock/indie rock act and JOVM herMajesty. And although the band has gone through a number of lineup changes, the band which is currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter  JP (vocals, samples, guitar), David (bass, lead guitar), Joan (bass) and Konrad (drums) has maintained a reputation for crafting lush, moody and contemplative material that’s heavily indebted to Roxy Music, David Bowie, U2 and others. Since the release of the My Body Your Mind EP and a series of standalone singles, which included gorgeous cover of Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot,” “One by One” and others, the band has developed a regional profile with the New York-based rock act opening for the likes of  The B52s, Tom Tom Club, Say Hi to Your Mom and The Boxer Rebellion — and have made frequent tour stops in Rochester, Providence, Philadelphia and Boston, as well as regular shows at Rockwood Music Hall and The Bowery Electric in the Lower East Side. Of course, their set included those singles and their latest single, the shimmering and disco-tinged “Weightless,” which you can check out below.

 
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For these photos and more, check out the Flickr set here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmgRTPnz

New Video: The Hazily Psychedelic Visuals for The Babe Rainbow’s “Monkey Disco”

Throughout the fall, I’ve written quite a bit about the up-and-coming Bryon Bay, Australia-based band The Babe Rainbow. And as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of Bryon Bay, Australia-born and-based founding members Jack “Cool-Breeze” and Angus Darling The Hothouse Flower with Venezuelan-born pianist Lu-Lu-Felix Domingo can trace their origins to when its founding duo started a songwriting partnership while in middle school; however The Babe Rainbow started in earnest in late 2015 when the founding duo met Venezuelan-born pianist Domingo while they were traveling in France.

The trio’s self-titled debut was produced by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Stu Mackenzie, and from album single “Johny Stays Cool,” the band specializes in lo-fi, off-kilter funk inspired by African Diaspora-like rhythms and breezy, Tropicalia-like melodies, while being reminiscent of The B52s. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Monkey Disco” finds the Australian band meshing sweaty, tribal house, Afropop, psych pop and lo-fi New Wave in a way that’s reminiscent of Fear of Music-era Talking Heads and Zonoscope-era Cut Copy, but while possessing an off-kilter, quirky quality. 

The recently released music video was written and directed by S.L.Kristofski and The Babe Rainbow in conjunction with the Y.P.S.M.C (Young People’s Society of Music for Chameleons) and features hazily lysergic imagery and vibrant colors — and much like the sounds that accompany it, it manages to be mischievously anachronistic.