Rising Hull, UK-based post-punk act Low Hummer — Daniel, Aimee, Steph, Jack, John and Joe — can trace their origins through the individual members’ connections to their hometown’s DIY scene. After meeting and bonding over mutual interests, the sextet quickly established a regular rehearsal home at the DIY venue The New Adelphi Club, where they were able to develop and hone their own danceable take on post-punk that thematically focuses on their lives in East Yorkshire, their place in a consumerist world and bad news stories sold as gospel.
September 2019 saw the release of the their debut single “Don’t You Ever Sleep” through Leeds-based label Dance To The Radio. The members of Low Hummer quickly followed that up with their second single “I Choose Live News” that October. Both singles were released to praise from the likes of Clash, Dork, Gigwise and BBC 6 Music Recommends — with airplay on BBC 6. Building upon a rapidly growing national profile their subsequent singles “The Real Thing,” “Picture Bliss” and “Sometimes I Wish (I Was A Different Person) received praise from NME, Gigwise and Under The Radar Magazine and were championed by BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders and Huw Stephens, BBC 6’s Steve Lamacq, Marc Riley, and Tom Robinson.
The Hull-based act’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Modern Tricks For Living is slated for a September release through Dance To The Radio, and the album’s first single “The People, This Place” is an angular post punk anthem that’s danceable yet full of seething disgust and frustration that makes the song a spiritual mix of The Clash and Wire– while voicing, the sort of frustration felt when you live in a dead-end town, with dead-end people and no real options or opportunities.
Deriving their name from a nickname that was given to its frontwoman while she was in college, and now seen as the band’s motto representing their approach to life and music, the emerging Los Angeles-based indie rock act Mihi Nihil (pronounced Mee-Kee, Nee-Keel) — Mihi Vox (vocals), Benjamin Montoya (guitar), Nick Sternberg (bass) and Adam Alt (drums) — currently feature a former New York-based opera singer and three self-taught rock musicians. Interestingly, the band can trace their origins to a free-flowing batch of sessions that the longtime friends jokingly called “Whiskey Rehearsals,” which helped to quickly establish a sound that draws from an electric array of influences including early Radiohead, The Clash, Ennio Morricone, Sixousie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Neil Young and Pixies.
Eventually, those “Whiskey Rehearsals” between the four friends led to the material which would eventually comprise their Adam Lasus-produced full-length nine-song, self-titled debut album. Recorded and written by the band in one room, the album’s material captures their simpatico and collaborative working relationship.
In the lead-up to the album’s release, the band released four singles over the past few months: two of the singles have appeared in two major motion pictures, with all four appearing in a handful of media outlets across 15 countries, as well as on 45 playlists. Their self-titled album’s fifth and latest single “Gold” is a slow-burning desert rock-like dirge centered around Mihi Vox’s expressive vocals, rumbling bass lines and gently swirling guitars that slowly builds up until a rumbling roar with soaring hooks. And while possessing a patient, almost painterly quality, “Gold” evokes sand-swept blacktop that reminds me The Fire Tapes‘ Phantoms, PJ Harvey and Chelsea Wolfe among others.
Veteran indie producer Adam Lasus (Yo La Tengo, Helium, Madder Rose) captured the band’s live energy to tape, revealing an album imbued with a timeless, lush and layered sound that’s meant to be savored and slowly ingested. Like colorful rock formations, the music encompasses a myriad of subtle tints and bold textures. Recorded without a click track, MIHI NIHIL naturally expands and contracts, pushes and pulls, moving with ease. Whether it’s the cinematic echo of Ennio Morricone in “Verberation” or the ominous yearning for connection in the more soporific electro “Space Invader,” MIHI NIHIL shifts tonal presentations effortlessly with maximum emotional thrust.
Since their formation back in 2010, the Seattle-based indie electro pop act Jupe Jupe — My Young (vocals, synths), Bryan Manzo (guitar, bass, sax), Patrick Partington (guitar), and Jarrod Arbini (drums, percussion) — have released four albums Invaders, Reduction in Drag, Crooked Kisses,and Lonely Creatures, which have helped to firmly establish the act’s sound: dance floor, synth-led, post-punk informed by synth pop and Americana.
Jupe Jupe’s Matt Bayles-produced Nightfall EP was released earlier, and the EP continues their ongoing collaboration with Bayles, who also produced and engineered their last full-length album. Meticulously written over the course of the preceeding year, the five song EP finds the band adding soulful saxophone to material that thematically focuses on yearning and desire.
Over the course of this past year, I’ve written about two of the EP’s singles:
The New Order-like “Leave You Lonely.” The accompanying video meshed three different visual styles – line animation, live footage shot in high contrast negative and a lyric video in a way that draws comparisons to a-ha’s “Take On Me” to mind.
The bring Avalon-era Roxy Music-like ‘How Could We Both Be In Love.” Directed by Dirty Sidewalks‘ Erik Foster, the accompanying moody visual seems to draw from French nouvelle vague and 80s MTV.
Earlier this year, I set up an interview with the members of Jupe Jupe to discuss their Nightfall EP, their influences, the videos for the aforementioned “Leave You Lonely” and “How Could Be In Love,” and how they were all getting along during the pandemic in a rather prototypical JOVM Q&A session. I received the band’s responses a few days after George Floyd’s tragic murder at the hands of Minneapolis police. Understandably, as a Black man, Floyd’s death hit close to home. With police brutaliy, police reform, the Black Lives Matter movement and protests brewing up in major cities across the world, I initially wanted to ask the band a handful of questions related to those particular topics. Unfortunately, those follow-up questions never came up and the Q&A languished in my email inbox for months – without explanation to anyone.
2020 has been difficult. But with Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’ Election Day victory over Donald Trump has given me some hope. We have an incoming administration that will be competent, caring and will do everything in their power to make things right through policy and action.
In the meantime, check out the EP and the interview below:
WRH: Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, festivals have been postponed or cancelled outright, artists of all stripes have postponed, rescheduled or cancelled tour dates – and there are a number of artists, who have rescheduled releases of new material. You released a new EP shortly before the pandemic. How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?
Jupe Jupe: Like so many other bands, we’ve had to cancel quite a few shows following the COVID outbreak. We luckily had our Nightfall EP release show before the lockdowns began, but the only “live” performance we’ve done since February was a live-stream benefit show to help support out-of-work employees at a local club. It was a blast playing again, though we look forward to in-person audiences! We wonder if live streaming will be the norm for bands until next year at least.
Despite the pandemic situation, the EP still received quite a bit of college-station airplay and press coverage, which we’re happy about. Given the scary times everyone is going through, we’re not sweating the lack of live performances. We’ll just ride it out like everyone else. We also hope that the smaller music venues can survive this—that’s something we’re definitely concerned about.
WRH: How have you been holding up? What have you been doing to keep busy? Binge watching anything?
Jarrod Arbini: It varies from day to day, but I’ve finally gotten around to doing some of those home improvements. After 14 years, the refrigerator ice and water dispenser hookup has finally been accomplished. And I’ve discovered a new love for video games!
So before COVID, say that I decided to fly into Seattle. Where would I go to eat and drink, if I wanted to meet and be around locals?
Bryan Manzo: Seattle is a really fun place to visit. It kind of depends on what you’re into or what you’re looking for. When people visit me I tend to offer lots of restaurants, bars, or clubs, but the thing that people seem the most into is just being outside. It’s really remarkable how green the city is. We have mountains to the east and west. Water, water everywhere and forests so thick they’re dark during the day. It’s like Endor. Honestly, I can’t even believe I’m writing this because I’m not really into that. So for me, I guess I’d say the weed stores.
What’s your favorite venue to see shows in Seattle? Why?
PP: I think my favorite venue for larger shows is The Showbox. It fits around 1100 people, the sound is terrific, and pretty much everywhere you stand is a great spot—whether you want to be right up front or in back watching from one of the venue’s bars, which I usually opt for.
JA: Yeah, The Showbox for sure.
How did you get into music?
PP: My older brothers were music-heads, and they turned me on to The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, The Monkees, Led Zeppelin, and lots of 70’s progressive stuff when I was a little kid. Through my teenage years, I was addicted to a small AM station in Seattle called KJET. That’s how I discovered bands like The Cure, XTC, Psychedelic Furs, The Smiths, and tons of other bands you couldn’t hear on regular FM radio in Seattle. When I first learned guitar at 14, I wanted to be like Pete Townshend—windmilling and leaping around.
My Young: My father is a guitarist and came from a family of musicians. He used to play and sing 60’s folk songs and other old hits like “Ghost Riders in the Sky” to us when we were little kids. When I was 12, I started a punk/new-wave band with my pals in Denver called the Bloody Ear Muffs. I’ve been in various bands since then.
JA: There was always music in our house and from an early age, the drums were fascinating to me. Once I was able to join the 5th grade symphonic band, I was hooked. I bought my first drum kit in the 7th grade and found being in a band and sharing my passion for music with like-minded individuals to be so satisfying.
PP: I gravitate toward a lot of British bands from the 80’s—OMD, New Order, and The Cure. Plus hooky 60’s music.
MY: In addition to the obvious synthpop and post-punk influences, I get inspiration from a larger bag of artists like Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, the 90’s WARP catalog, 70’s glam, and 60’s artists like The Kinks, Pink Floyd, Roy Orbison, and The Zombies. And of course, James Bond themes.
JA: Anything with a hook and I’m in!
WRH: Who are you listening to right now?
PP: I’ve been listening to Gorillaz, The Clash, and early Who lately. Wham! and Erasure when I want to be in a good mood quickly. Usually I just shuffle playlists so that I’m surprised. I also listen to First Wave on SiriusXM Radio—I’ve heard all of it, but it’s comforting in these uncertain times.
JA: During COVID, I’ve been trying to run more, and for my run mix I’ve recently added The Magic Group, lots of Kaiser Chiefs, The Goldbergs, and some Tame Impala. To take the edge off some of my ongoing periods of anxiety, I’ve actually been turning toward smooth 60’s Motown stuff with the likes of The Temptations and The Four Tops, among others.
WRH: Are there any acts from Seattle that the outside world should know now and doesn’t? Why?
BM: Yes. There’s a band called The NitWitz. They’re 11 and 12 year olds. One of the members is my kid. Another one of the members is My’s kid. Someone please discover them and get them OUT OF MY GARAGE BECAUSE IT’S SO LOUD! Also, they’re kind of funny.
WRH: How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with Jupe Jupe?
Jupe Jupe: We describe our music as dark yet danceable—a “noir cocktail” of crooning vocals over pulsing beats, with guitars and sax that cut across washes of synth.
PP: When people ask me personally what we’re like, I say we try to sound like an updated version of our 80’s new-wave influences.
JA: Definitely a more current take on an 80’s-type vibe. Quite a mixed bag really, but it works!
WRH: Your latest EP, Nightfall continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with Matt Bayles. How has it been to work with him?
Jupe Jupe: Matt’s done an amazing job recording and mixing our last two albums, Nightfall and Lonely Creatures. Though he’s produced many harder bands (Mastadon, He Whose OX Is Gored, Murder City Devils, etc.), he gets our sound completely and we generally don’t have to give him much input, especially when it comes to how he mixes the songs. We bring the tunes in fully written, so that we can get straight into recording. He’s a serious, no-nonsense guy in the studio—and he definitely doesn’t put up with less-than-stellar performances!
WRH: The EP’s material thematically focuses on yearning and desire. How much of the material comes from personal experience – or that from someone you know?
Jupe Jupe: We usually write the lyrics as a group. Though it takes longer this way than it would with one person doing all the heavy lifting, we feel like we end up with stronger material. Everyone’s input is probably based on their own experiences, but we usually don’t go into it with an individual’s specific story in mind (“Hey, this thing happened to me—let’s write a song about it”). We might offer anecdotes that lend themselves to a song, but after the music is written, we pick subject matter that we think will work best with the vibe. For this batch of songs, “yearning and desire” seemed to fit really well!
While much of the EP’s material continues the synth-based, hook-driven sound that has won you attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere, EP single “How Could We Both Be in Love” features the addition of saxophone. It may arguably be the most Avalon-era Roxy Music track of the EP – and it’s one of my favorite off the entire EP. How much did Roxy Music influence it? What’s the song about?
MY: Bryan and I started playing music together in an Austin prog band called Maximum Coherence During Flying, in which Bryan played both guitar and sax. We always wanted to bring it back into our songs, but kept forgetting to do it. For the Nightfall EP, Bryan proposed how it would add a new element to the direction we were already heading in. We’re both huge Roxy Music fans (especially their first four records), and it was exciting and inspiring to bring it back into the mix.
PP: Essentially, that song is about being in a relationship with a narcissist.
How did the videos for “How Could We Both Be in Love” and “Leave You Lonely” come about?
Jupe Jupe: For “How Could We Both Be in Love,” we teamed up with our friend Erik Foster of the great Seattle band, Dirty Sidewalks. He directed our last two videos and he’s always done a spectacular job. We usually start by sending him a rough mix and the lyrics, then discussing some broad ideas over beers. For this video, we really didn’t have to offer any guidance. He’s extremely creative and talented at matching the vibe of the video to the song. He did some great stop-motion and visual effects—he always surprises us. It’s an awesome partnership.
”Leave You Lonely” was created by two of our band members, Bryan and Jarrod, using a combination of hand drawings, still photos, lyric text, and shifting color palettes to capture the movement and feel of the song.
WRH: The band has been together for a decade now, which is an eternity in contemporary music. What do you ascribe to your longevity? What advice, if any do you have for bands trying to make a name for themselves?
PP: We’re all best friends and we’ve worked together in various bands over the past 20 years, so we know each other’s strengths and idiosyncrasies really well. Plus, with that type of history, it’s easier to be honest—as opposed to walking on eggshells with someone you don’t know well. Apart from music, we just like hanging out!
As far as advice for bands trying to make a name, I’d say figure out your sound, and continue to evolve it! Don’t worry about what’s popular or the next trend. Hopefully you can break through the clutter by sticking to your convictions and continuing to improve as a band. Also, it helps to share band duties—rather than one person doing all the writing, promo, booking, etc. It makes it much more fun and keeps everyone invested. And when you play live, be sure to promote the hell out of every show and make sure the other bands on the bill do too.
JA: I think our longevity is due to the lack of inter-band drama and a shared love of music and playing live. It also helps that everyone brings a different expertise and perspective to the group —outside of the actual music. This really helps us to get through all the less-than-glamorous band duties that come along with being a musician.
What’s next for you?
Jupe Jupe: Bryan and My are currently working on new song ideas individually, and we check in with each other for a “virtual” band happy hour once a week. We’re really just playing things by ear during the pandemic—it’s difficult to make concrete plans right now, but we know for sure we’ll be releasing new music eventually!
Currently featuring founding members Cynthia Sley (vocals), Pat Place (guitar) and Dee Pop (drums) along with newest recruit Val Opielski, the New York-based act Bush Tetras can trace their origins back to when Sley, Place, Pop and Laura Kennedy (bass) formed the band back in 1979. Interestingly, their full-length debut Too Many Creeps was considered one of their scene’s defining moments as it accurately captured the vibe, feel and ethos of that scene’s particular moment.
Building upon a growing profile, the members of Bush Tetras were an opening act during The Clash’s legendary, spring 1981 17 show run at Bond International Casino. After the release of their Topper Headon-produced Rituals EP, which featured the chart-placing “Can’t Be Funky,” Laura Kennedy and Dee Pop left the band and were replaced by Bob Albertson (bass) and Don Christensen (drums); however, the band broke up.
For the better part of the next three decades, the members of the band were fairly elusive, although interestingly enough, the band’s original lineup reunited on a couple of occasions — in 1995, which resulted in 1997’s Beauty Lies and recording sessions the following year, which resulted in a Don Fleming-produced album that was shelved when Mercury Records was sold. That album was finally released in 2012.
In 2005, Julia Murphy replaced Kennedy and they resumed playing and touring across New York. The band toured across Europe the following year. Sadly, Laura Kennedy died in 2011 after a long battle with liver disease. In 2013, Cindy Rickmond, a former member of Cheap Perfume, Grayson Hugh, Church of Betty and Unknown Gender briefly replaced Murphy. And in 2016, Val Opielski, a former member of Krakatoa, Walking Hellos, PSXO and 1000 Yard Stare joined the band.
Last year saw the release of Take The Fall EP through Wharf Cat Records, the first batch of new music from the band in over 10 years. Over the winter, Third Man Records cleared their Cass Corridor showroom floor, invited the band down to Detroit — and enlisted the help of Third Man Mastering’s Bill Skibbe and Warren Defever to record their recently released “There is a Hum”/”Seven Years” 7 inch. A side single “There is a Hum” is a slashing bit of post punk, reminiscent of Entertainment-era Gang of Four and Sonic Youth — but seething with a neurotic anxiousness. B side single “Seven Years” manages to be a mischievously anachronistic track that sounds as though it could have been released at any point within the past 30 years. The glitchy and spastic track features some blistering and energetic guitar work centered around cowbell-led percussion and a sinuous bass line. Both tracks find the legendary post punk/No Wave act boldly reminding the listener that although it’s been a while, they play with a fury, passion and purpose that many younger acts lack.
Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the renowned, Oxford, UK-based alt rock/shoegazer act Swervedriver, and as you may recall, the act which is primarily centered around their founding duo Adam Franklin (vocals, guitar) and Jimmy Hartridge (guitar, vocals) along with Mikey Jones (drums, vibes) and revolving bassists Mick Quinn and Ben Ellis can trace their origins back to 1989. During their initial run from their founding until 1998, the band released four full-length albums — 1991’s Raise, 1993’s Mezcal Head, 1995’s Ejector Seat Reservation and 1998’s 99th Dream — while going through a number of lineup changes, management changes and different labels.
By 1993, Franklin and Hartridge teamed up with Jef Hindmarsh (drums) and Steve George (bass) and with that lineup, they developed a reputation for a heavier rock sound than their shoegazer counterparts — but over their last five years together, their sound slowly evolved to include elements of psych rock, pop and indie rock. And although Franklin, Hartdige, Hindmarsh and George were the longest tenured lineup in the band’s history, they went on a lengthy hiatus in 1998, in which the individual members went on to pursue a variety of professional and creative pursuits. Franklin embarked on a solo career that would rival Swervedriver’s creative output, including a stint fronting the experimental electro pop/electro folk act Toshack Highway, whose releases ranged from sextet ensemble works to four-track bedroom recordings and then with the more traditionally guitar rock-driven Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody. Hartridge founded a distribution company. Hindmarsh founded Badearth Management, a music management company that eventually managed Scottish rock act Terra Diablo and others.
In early 2005, Franklin, Hartrdige, Hindmarsh and George reconvened to collaborate with Castle Music to choose songs on what would be a two disc anthology Juggernaut Rides ’89-’98, a compilation that included 33 tracks remastered from the originals DATs. Half of those tracks were non-album tracks, along with four previously unreleased tracks — including the last recordings the band worked on in 1998, “Just Sometimes” and “Neon Lights Glow.” Released to critical applause, Juggernaut Rides ’89 – ’98 helped build up growing interest in the shoegazer pioneers’ work.
2006 was a rather busy year for the members of the band’s longest tenured lineup. Franklin began collaborating with Interpol‘s Sam Fogarino in Magnetic Morning. Hindmarsh went on to publish Rider, which chronicled his experiences and observations on the road touring with the band between 1992 and 1998. Somewhat inspired by the wildly successful 2004 reunion tour of the Pixies, the band reunited for a world tour in 2008 that garnered the attention and acclaim that largely evaded them a decade earlier.
2015’s I Wasn’t Born to Lose You was the first album of new, original material from the band in 17 years, and although they’ve managed to be consistent in their second run, they’ve gone through a series of lineup changes between the 2008 reunion tour and the release of I Wasn’t Born to Lose You.
Now, as you may recall, the band’s second reunion-era album and their sixth altogether, Future Ruins was released earlier this year through Dangerbird Records. Future Ruins’ predecessor, was written and recorded immediately after an Australian tour and inspired by the results, the members of the pioneering shoegazer act decided to repeat the process after a lengthy Stateside tour in which they played Raise and Mezcal Head in their entirety. “That’s a good way to record,” Franklin says in press notes, “because you’ve literally just seen the whites of the audience’s eyes and you’re thinking, ‘If that audience from last night were here now…’ You can’t get too mellow. We came home with 30 different songs.” 10 more days of vocals and overdubs at Brighton UK‘s Seaside Studios with Grammy Award-winning engineer TJ Doherty quickly followed.
The material on Future Ruins finds the band retaining the escapist vibes that they’ve long been known for — but while generally being inspired by the uneasy tension and anxiety of our ongoing sociopolitical moment. Interestingly, the album’s second single “Drone Lover” actually predates the I Wasn’t Born recording sessions. As the band’s Adam Franklin explained in press notes, at the time, ““I have no recollection of where this tune came from. It’s a song that’s been knocking around for a few years, but for some reason had never been presented to anyone until we were in the studio this time and I clicked play on the demo while searching for something else. TJ and Mikey both went ‘what’s this?’ and then ‘so why aren’t we recording it?’ – and so we recorded it. The lyric mentions love but it’s really about war – remote war and killing from a distance whilst chomping on last night’s leftover pizza or something.” The album’s third single, was the shimmering and wistful “The Lonely Crowd Fades In The Air.” As Franklin admits, the band was thinking of The Clash, “even though it doesn’t sound anything like them, but it’s like a punch on the nose from a velvet glove.” Oddly, as I have a day left of my 30s, the song seems to hit me in a personal way, as the song’s narrator thinks about all the directions his life may have taken, if he made different decisions at key points in his life.
The members of Swervedriver are currently on a co-headlining tour with Failure that includes a Friday night stop at Warsaw. You can check out the remaining tour dates below — but I thought I should talk about the album’s first single, album opener “Mary Winter.” Arguably, the darkest single of the three they’ve released, the song is centered around fuzzy and jangling power chords, thunderous drumming and an anthemic hook — and despite the fact that the song sounds as though it could have been released in 1994, the song evokes an uneasy sense of foreboding while lyrically the song sounds indebted to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” as the song’s narrator is a space traveler, hurtling away from the world. Whether the narrator is escaping willfully or not, is left for us to decide. In the meantime, everything is fucked up — and while it may seem hopeless, we can’t just escape the planet. So maybe we should start asking ourselves, “What can we do to make it right?” Fittingly, the video employs the use of old space imagery, helping to emphasize a sense of weightlessness and helplessness.
Primarily centered around founding and core members Adam Franklin (vocals, guitar) and Jimmy Hartridge (guitar, vocals) and currently featuring Mikey Jones (drums, vibes) and revolving bassists Mick Quinn and Ben Ellis, the renowned Oxford, UK-based alt rock/shoegazer act Swervedriver formed back in 1989. And during their initial run between 1989 and 1998, the band released four full-length albums — 1991’s Raise, 1993’s Mezcal Head, 1995’s Ejector Seat Reservation and 1998’s 99th Dream — while going through a number of lineup changes, management changes and different labels.
Interestingly by 1993, the band’s lineup settled to include Franklin, Hartridge, Jez Hindmarsh (drums) and Steve George (bass), and with that lineup they developed a reputation for having a much heavier sound than their shoegazer contemporaries — although over the last five years of the band’s initial run, their sound eventually evolved to include elements of psychedelia, pop and indie rock.
The members of Swervedriver’s longest tenured lineup went on a lengthy hiatus in 1998 in which the individual members went on to pursue a variety of professional and creative pursuits. Franklin embarked on a solo career that would rival Swervedriver’s creative output, first fronting he experimental electro pop/electro folk act Toshack Highway, whose releases ranged from sextet ensemble works to four-track bedroom recordings and then with the more traditionally guitar rock-driven Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody. Hartridge founded a distribution company. Hindmarsh founded Badearth Management, eventually managing Scottish rock act Terra Diablo and others. Interestingly, in early 2005, Franklin, Hartridge, Hindmarsh and George reconvened to collaborate with Castle Music to choose songs on what would be a two disc anthology Juggernaut Rides ’89-’98, which featured 33 tracks remastered from the original DATs. Half of those tracks were non-album tracks along with four previously unreleased tracks — Shake Appeal’s “Son of Mustang Ford” demo and the remainder of Swervedriver’s recordings during 1998, which included “Just Sometimes” and “Neon Lights Glow.” The compilation was critically applauded and in some way, it helped to build up interest in the shoegaze pioneers’ work.
2006 was a busy year for the members of Swervedriver — Franklin began collaborating with Interpol‘s Sam Fogarino in Magnetic Morning. Hindmarsh went on to publish Rider, which chronicled his experiences and observations on the road touring with the band between 1992 and 1998. Somewhat inspired by the successful 2004 reunion of the Pixies, Franklin, Hartridge and Hindmarsh went on an international reunion tour in 2008, garnering the attention and acclaim that evaded them a decade earlier. 2015’s I Wasn’t Born To Lose You was the first album of original material from the band in 17 years — although they managed to remain consistent, as they went through another series of lineup changes between the reunion tour and Born.
Swervedriver’s sixth full-length album and second of their reunion, Future Ruins is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Dangerbird Records. Having written and recorded I Wasn’t Born To Lose You immediately after their
Australian tour, the band decided to repeat the process after a lengthy Stateside tour, playing Raise and Mezcal Head in their entirety. “That’s a good way to record,” Franklin says in press notes, “because you’ve literally just seen the whites of the audience’s eyes and you’re thinking, ‘If that audience from last night were here now…’ You can’t get too mellow. We came home with 30 different songs.” 10 more days of vocals and overdubs at Brighton UK‘s Seaside Studios with Grammy Award-winning engineer TJ Doherty quickly followed.
The album’s 10 tracks were mixed earlier this year, as the band was touring across Europe. And while the material finds the band retaining the escapist vibes that they’ve been long known for, the album’s material is centered around an uneasy tension, inspired by our current sociopolitical moment. Now, as you may recall, Future Ruins second single “Drone Lover,” actually predated the Future Ruins sessions. Although interestingly enough, as the band’s Adam Franklin explained in press notes, “I have no recollection of where this tune came from. It’s a song that’s been knocking around for a few years, but for some reason had never been presented to anyone until we were in the studio this time and I clicked play on the demo while searching for something else. TJ and Mikey both went “what’s this?” and then “so why aren’t we recording it?” – and so we recorded it. The lyric mentions love but it’s really about war – remote war and killing from a distance whilst chomping on last night’s leftover pizza or something.” Obviously, it’s an incisive commentary on the depersonalized nature of 21st Century techno-warfare — including some hellish and fucked up imagery of bombs falling from the air, and neighborhoods in flames; but centered around buzzing power chords, a steady and propulsive backbeat and an infectious hook that brings an updated take on the beloved 120Minutes alt rock sound.
Future Ruins‘ latest single is the shimmering “The Lonely Crowd Fades In The Air,” a track that Franklin admits found the band thinking of The Clash, “even though it doesn’t sound anything like them, but it’s like a punch on the nose from a velvet glove.” Franklin goes on to say that “the title came from a misheard Supremes lyric and the words came out of that.” Centered around shimmering and fuzzy power chords, the track may arguably be the most nostalgic and wistful track on the album, with the song’s narrator thinking about all the directions his life may have taken, if he made a different decision at some key point in his life. Continuing the album’s overall vibe and feel, there are references to weapons — of one “choosing their weapons wisely” — and a begrudging acceptance of the world being fucked up and broken, it’s a heartbroken sigh.
Dedicated to Buzzcocks‘ Pete Shelley, the recently released video is a mix of footage shot on glitchy VHS camera, and archival footage, which emphasizes the heartache at the core of the song.
Earlier this year, I wrote about Numb.er, the brainchild of Los Angeles, CA-based mastermind and primary songwriter, photographer and visual artist Jeff Fribourg, who’s probably best known as a founding member of psych rock/kraut rock band Froth. Now, as you may recall, Fribourg can trace the origins of his love affair with synthesizers to when he was leading Froth, and with his latest project, Fribourg fully explores both his deep love of synthesizers and his wildly eclectic influences and inclinations; in fact with Numb.er Fribourg’s work meshes elements of punk rock, post-punk, noise rock and shoegaze.
Goodbye, Fribourg’s latest Numb.er album was released earlier this year through renowned post punk label Felte Records, and the album’s first single “Numerical Depression” featured elements of 77-era punk, post-punk and noise punk in a way that sonically brought the likes of Wire, Nirvana, The Clash, Bauhaus, without resorting to mimicry and cliches. Interestingly, Goodbye’s latest single finds Fribourg seamlessly meshing 60s psych pop with synth-led New Wave and four-on-the-four drumming in a way that brings British psych rockers TOY to mind, but murkier and more foreboding while retaining Fribourg’s uncanny ability to craft an infectious hook.
Directed by Matt Creed and edited by Chris Rice, the recently released video for “A Memory Stained” employs the use of creepy yet trippy found footage that emphasizes the lysergic quality of the song and its foreboding vibes.
James Clifford is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, and creative mastermind of the recording project Primaveras, which was once known as Modern Howls. As the story goes, Clifford grew up in a rather musical family; in fact, Clifford began playing guitar in his early teens and throughout his high school years, he played in a number of garage bands. Foregoing a formal musical education, the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is largely self-taught with his passion for playing and writing stemming from a lifelong passion for everything music, as he’s been known to scour music stores for vintage guitars and synths or to stay up into the wee hours listening to records. Unsurprisingly, Clifford has cited the likes of David Bowie, Prince,The Clash, Funkadelic,Chic,Todd Rundgren, Roxy Music, Steely Dan, and The Beach Boys as some of his greatest music inspirations. Thematically, Clifford and Primaveras draws influence from the stretch of the famed Pacific Coast Highway from Malibu to Santa Monica — warm breezes through cracked car windows, the soft sound of waves crashing and receding into the Pacific, and the silhouette of the Los Angeles skyline. For many it’s timeless and almost dreamlike; but those who haven’t stuck around long enough fail to notice the effects of salt air on the surroundings — in the form of rust and erosion. In some way, it evokes faded dreams and hopes of a paradise that never really was there in the first place, and in another sense, the faded surroundings evoke a lonely introspection. Clifford’s Primaveras debut Echoes in the Well of Being was written in a way to embody that dualism — with the album’s material generally being sunny psych pop yet possess an underlying longing and introspection.
Interestingly with Clifford’s previously released material and Echoes in the Well of Being‘s latest single, the shimmering and strutting “Better Off,” his sound has been compared favorably to the likes of Tame Impala and Phoenix — and while that is definitely fair, I also hear a subtle nod at Avalon-era Roxy Music as the song evokes bright neon lights, evening faces, Jack and Cokes, the buzz of a coke high and a desperate escape from one’s loneliness and regret. But interestingly enough, Clifford pays loving homage to The Isley Brothers’ “Footsteps in the Dark, Parts 1 and 2” with the song’s intro drum break, which not only ties the song to classic R&B, but gives it a subtle sensuality.
As Clifford says of the song, “While most people will immediately interpret as a breakup song, I see the core sentiment as trying to grow up and move on from any sort of worn-out relationship.”
Numb.er is the brainchild of its Los Angeles, CA-based mastermind and primary songwriter, photographer and visual artist Jeff Fribourg, who’s probably best known as a founding member of psych rock/kraut rock band Froth. Thanks to a background in graphic design and visual art, Fribourg has developed a reputation for his work being imbued with a sense of architectural composition with angular guitar riffs and analog synths being layered over throbbing drums and propulsive bass lines. And although Fribourg can trace the origins of his love of synthesizers to when he was in Froth, Numb.er finds the Los Angeles-based songwriter, photographer and visual artist fully exploring his eclectic influences and inclinations with the project meshing elements of punk rock, shoegaze, post-punk and noise rock — without committing to a singular worldview and without sounding overly ironic or forced.
Goodbye, Numb.er’s latest effort is slated for release at the end of the week through Felte Records, and the album’s latest single “Numerical Depression” will further cement Fribourg’s reputation for genre-defying sound as you’ll hear elements of classic ’77-era punk, post-punk and noise punk as the song is centered around a propulsive bass line, power chord-based guitar lines played through copious guitar effect pedals and rolling drums — and while sonically the song brings to mind Wire, Nirvana, The Clash, Bauhaus, and others, complete with a similar urgency, and yet the song doesn’t find the band resorting to clueless, self-obsessed mimicry and cliches.