Tag: The Cure

New Video: Chicago’s Koalra Releases a 120 Minutes-Inspired Single and Visual

Formed in 2019, the Chicago-based indie rock quartet Koalra have quickly established a sound and songwriting approach that’s heavily indebted to 120 Minutes-era alt rock — i.e. The Cure, Dinosaur Jr., Ween, Sonic Youth, Boyracer, and The Thermals, as well as contemporaries like No Age, and Waaves.

Since their formation, the members of the Chicago-based quartet have been remarkably prolific: they’ve released two albums — 2019’s self-titled debut, last year’s Surprise Lights EP and The Wakes. Adding to their growing reputation for being prolific, the act will be releasing their third full-length album Into the Waves this year.

Koalra begin 2021 with their latest single off Into the Waves, “Water’s Push.” Centered around layers of shimmering guitars, a propulsive rhythm section centered around an angular bass line and rousingly anthemic hook, the breakneck “Water’s Push” finds the act firmly cementing the 120 Minutes-era sound that has begun to win them attention while expanding upon it with a subtle hazy, shoegazer quality.

Shot in hazy, security camera footage, the recently released video for “Water’s Push” follows a young boy as he drags a plastic skeleton around a variety of situations — and interestingly enough, the video is fittingly period specific.

Virak is a rapidly rising house DJ and producer. Since 2006, Virak has spun in some of the world’s most prestigious and important bars and clubs, frequently sharing bills with Sven Vath, Marco Carola, Richy Ahmed, and others:

As a producer, he has released a handful of singles through a number of different labels, including the attention-grabbing “Sugar,” which was released through Adesso Music.

Born Vito Lucente, the Italian-Belgian house music and producer and DJ, best known as Junior Jack has had a lengthy career that traces back to the 90s: Lucente’s earliest days features collaborations with Eric Imhauser crafting Eurodance and with synth pop/hip-hop act Benny B.

By 1995, Lucente abandoned Eurodance and began experimenting with house music under the moniker Mr. Jack, which would morph into Junior Jack. Lucente had quickly amassed enviable success with a handful of UK Top 40 singles that included “My Feeling,” “Thrill Me (Such A Thrill),” “E Samba,” “Dare Me (Stupidisco) and “Da Hype,” which featured guest vocals from The Cure‘s Robert Smith. Lucente’s Junior Jack debut Trust It was released to critical acclaim.

While developing a reputation for crafting smash hits, Lucente simultaneously developed a reputation as a remixer, reworking songs by Whitney Houston, Moby, Bob Sinclar and Utada among others.

Lucente’s fifth release on his Adesso Music label finds the Italian-Belgian house music producer and DJ reworking Virak’s “Sugar.” Centered around skittering beats and percussion, shimmering synth arpeggios, a motorik groove and soulful vocals and a euphoric hook, the Junior Jack rework of “Sugar” is a sultry, deep house take on the original — with a crowd pleasing accessibility.

New Video: Los Angeles’ Sleep Still Releases an Enchanting Visual for Slow-burning “The Panoramic”

Los Angeles based dream pop act Sleep Still, led by Mariam McCarthy (vocals, keys) and Scotty Whelan (vocals, guitar) and featuring Kelly Ehrenberg (bass), Chris Kellogg (guitar) and Jeff Darcy (drums, production) can trace their origins to the two separate paths its leaders began before they met:

McCarthy led Detroit-based Silent Violet, an act that shared bills with Yo La Tengo and Bittersweet, contributed three songs to the Rosie O’Donnell-produced film America. received praise from NPR and landed a spot on the West LA Digital Mixtape.
Whelan was a member of alternative rock act Haste The Day, an act that toured nationally along some of the genre’s top artists while working a day job as a music therapist.

McCarthy and Whelan met in 2017, bonding over a mutual love of Explosions in the Sky, Slowdive, The Cure, The War on Drugs and other acts. The duo started writing and recording material under Sleep Still. “With the fast-paced nature of modern culture, we rarely have a moment to breathe, reflect or recharge,'” Sleep Still’s Mariam McCarthy explains. “With Scotty being a music therapist, I was fascinated by this concept. So rest became a central theme for us.”

McCarthy recruited the Detroit’s Kelly Ehrenberg to join while Whelan recruited Chris Kellogg and Jeff Darcy to complete the band’s lineup. Playing around Los Angeles, the members of Sleep Still quickly developed a natural chemistry.

The Los Angeles-based dream pop quintet’s latest single “The Panoramic” originally played over the end credits off Amazon Prime’s The Protestants, a film for which McCarthy was interviewed on-screen. “The Panoramic” is a slow-burning and cinematic track centered around a lush arrangement of shimmering synths, reverb washed guitars, dramatic drumming that sounds as though it were inspired by Slowdive, paired with McCarthy’s vocals, which are imbued with an aching vulnerability and strength. But at its core, the song is a contented sigh of a narrator, who has achieved a brief but necessary moment of stillness and connectedness.

“I took a short trip to Palm Springs [CA] and stayed at a hotel where the view was so panoramic, I felt swallowed by it,” McCarthy recalls. “I was holding my baby daughter on my hip, and I felt so at rest. All of my muscles relaxed. I wrote the song and brought it to Scotty. It’s about feeling honest and at ease. It’s also about understanding what we can handle and what we can’t handle, being okay with it, and knowing you need someone beside you in those moments.” McCarthy adds, “It’s ok to take time to drop everything. It’s ok to not need validation on social media. It’s ok to not feel like you have to accomplish some ambitious goal. You can take a minute to rest and be okay with whatever’s happening in the present.”

Directed by JWH, the recently released visual, features dancer and choreographer Xin Ying, who came up with enchanting and expressionistic moves to accompany the song. And much like the song, Ying’s movements are fluid, delicate, graceful and haunting.

Interview: A Q&A with Seattle’s Jupe Jupe

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: 

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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?

Patrick Partington: I’ve been holding up OK—lucky to still be working from home. I try limit my newsfeed time during the day—though it’s been difficult lately, of course. As far as binge-watching, I’ve finished Ozark, which I love, and now I’ve moved on to a crime documentary series called Trial by Media. When I need some levity, I go with comedies (series and movies)—Hot Tub Time Machine, Superbad, Stripes, Vice Principals, The Righteous Gemstones, etc.

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.

 Who are your influences?

Jupe Jupe:  Our sound tends to be influenced by New Order, Roxy Music, Echo and the Bunnymen, Cut Copy, and a bit of Roy Orbison.

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.

MY: I’ve been listening to the new Angel Olsen record a lot. I also really like Temples, Tame Impala, Idles, and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

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!

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Born to an English father and Italian mother,  Paris-born and-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer and electronic music artist, Frank Woodbridge grew up in a passionate, musical household: at an early age, the Woodbridge family spent their evening listening to their vinyl record collection in front of their huge stereo. “My father loved The KinksThe BeatlesThe Bee Gees and Al Jarreau. My mother introduced me to Stan Getz, Carole King and the romantic refrains of the crooners that reminded her of her childhood,” Woodbridge recalls fondly in press notes. “From the age of ten, I was already deep into The CureDepeche ModeU2. My teenage neighbor had decided to perfect my musical education. And then, Bernard Lenoir on Inter, the many weekends in London . . . I was an indie kid, that was my life.”

After spending many years in rock and electro pop groups as a singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Woodbridge has spent the past few years focusing on composing for films, the web, TV, as well as  sound design for events and stage music for theater. Currently, Woodbridge works with Andre Manoukian on his daily chronicle for the Daphne Burki-hosted TV show, Je T’aime, ETC — and he wrote a comic book Inversion, which follows its composer protagonist.

2020 has been a busy year for the French artist: companies like Kenzo Parfums and Oris Watches commissioned him to compose music for web campaigns and for a series of 10 films. He also composed the soundtrack for Florie Martin and Melissa Theuriau’s documentary  Seine Saint Denis Style, which aired on French station C8 earlier this year. Woodbridge also released an album of original compositions LOLA LIFE DEATH ETC earlier this year.  

I’ve written about two of LOLA LIFE DEATH ETC’s singles so far:

  • Lola dans le bus” a melancholic and cinematic M83-like track specially composed to drive to or daydream along with, inspired by personal experience: Woodbridge ran into an ex-girlfriend he had lost contact with. He saw her on a bus and waved at her but unfortunately, she didn’t see her. And as a result, the song is punctuated with a profound sadness over a missed connection, as well as nostalgia for something you can’t ever really get back.
  • To The End” is an optimistic, motorik-groove driven track, reminiscent of  New Order and From Here to Eternity and From Here to Eternity . . . and Back-era Giorgio Moroder As Woodbridge said at the time “It is music driven with an urge, a dream for something else, a lot of energy and yet peacefulness coming from inner strength and will, I composed it thinking of movies I love, where people are at a turning point of their lives knowing it or not, and heading for their future. Although slightly melancholic, it has a positive light and effect.”

LOLA LIFE DEATH ETC‘s lats single “Je me souviens de tout,” (which translates into English as I remember it all)” is a dreamy, downtempo track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios and thumping beats paired with a a heartfelt mantra as its main lyric, a lyric that simply says ” Love, in the end, is just love.” Interestingly, the track is one of the few off the album with lyrics — and was specifically written as a way to “escape gravy and access an inner light” as Woodbridge explains in press notes.

FRANK WOODBRIDGE · To The End

Born to an English father and Italian mother,  Paris-born and-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer and electronic music artist, Frank Woodbridge grew up in a passionate, musical household: at an early age, the Woodbridge family spent their evening listening to their vinyl record collection in front of their huge stereo. “My father loved The Kinks, The Beatles, The Bee Gees and Al Jarreau. My mother introduced me to Stan Getz, Carole King and the romantic refrains of the crooners that reminded her of her childhood,” Woodbridge recalls fondly in press notes. “From the age of ten, I was already deep into The Cure, Depeche Mode, U2. My teenage neighbor had decided to perfect my musical education. And then, Bernard Lenoir on Inter, the many weekends in London . . . I was an indie kid, that was my life.”

After spending many years in rock and electro pop groups as a singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Woodbridge has spent the past few years focusing on composing for films, the web, TV, as well as  sound design for events and stage music for theater. Currently, Woodbridge works with Andre Manoukian on his daily chronicle for the Daphne Burki-hosted TV show, Je T’aime, ETC — and he wrote a comic book Inversion, which follows its composer protagonist.

2020 has been a busy year for the French artist: a companies like Kenzo Parfums and Oris Watches commissioned him to compose music for web campaigns and for series of 10 films. He also composed the soundtrack for Florie Martin and Melissa Theuriau’s documentary  Seine Saint Denis Style, which aired on French station C8 earlier this year.  Additionally, Woodbridge’s latest album of original compositions LOLA LIFE DEATH ETC was released earlier this month.

Now, if you had been frequenting this site earlier this year, you may recall that I wrote about, the Uppermost and M83-like “Lola dans le bus,” a melancholic yet cinematic track specifically composed to drive or daydream along with that was actually inspired by personal experience: Woodbridge ran into an ex-girlfriend he had lost contact with. He saw her on the bus and waved at her but unfortunately, she didn’t see him. So as the result the song is punctuated with the sadness of a missed connection, nostalgia for old times and of unfinished business. LOLA LIFE DEATH ETC‘s latest single “To The End” is a motorik-groove driven track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios and thumping beats and a fairly optimistic air.  Sonically speaking, the track sounds like a slick synthesis of New Order and From Here to Eternity and From Here to Eternity . . . and Back-era Giorgio Moroder.

“It is music driven with an urge, a dream for something else, a lot of energy and yet peacefulness coming from inner strength and will,” Woodbridge says of his latest single. “I composed it thinking of movies I love, where people are at a turning point of their lives knowing it or not, and heading for their future. Although slightly melancholic, it has a positive light and effect.”

 

 

 

 

New Video: Canadian Duo FORCES Releases a Bombastic Yet Intimate New Single

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the rising synth-based act FORCES. Although it’s a relatively new project, it’s centered round the 20+ year collaborative and romantic relationship between its creative masterminds — Jess and Dave — who may be best known in their native Canada for their previous project, The Golden Dogs. And with Golden Dogs, FORCES’ creative duo wound up working with a virtual who’s who of contemporary, Canadian indie rock including the then-future members of Zeus, Wax Atlantic and Brave Shores, along with Taylor Knox and Stew Heyduk — while opening for Sloan, Feist, Bloc Party, The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, Thurston Moore and Roky Erickson.

In 2017, Jess and Dave went into the studio and began working on what they thought would be the next Golden Dogs album — although in some way, deep down they both realized that they kind of knew that it wasn’t. What they started working on was a decided and radical sonic departure from the driving rock sound they’ve long specialized in and were known for. At the time, they found that they were increasingly drawn to a number of a different production styles including The Dead Pets, Liquid Liquid, New Order, The Cure‘s Close to Me and Timbaland. Interestingly, as a result, the duo, which currently splits its time between Montreal and Toronto began to openly experiment with synths, beatmaking and funky rhythms.

As they began changing their sound and approach, Jess boldly stepped up into the role of frontperson, taking on a sultry vocal approach paired with layered, punchy female-led harmonies while Dave began to focus on guitar textures and melodies. The material that they started to write during this new phase was centered around metronomic loops and electronics rather than the drum-bass guitar arrangements they had long relied on. Now. as you may recall, I’ve written about the projects first two singles: the glittering, club banging “Stay On Me,” and the early 80s Madonna-like “Step In A Sway.”  Building upon a buzzworthy profile, the Canadian duo’s latest single is the bombastic, grunge rock-influenced “Say It Now.” Starting with dissonant chords, boom bap-like drumming, the track is centered around a quiet-loud-quiet grunge rock song structure featuring a rousingly anthemic chorus and achingly intimate lyrics. And while sonically the song will bring Beck and Dirty Ghosts to mind, the track is an urgent call to the listener that seems rather fitting considering the state of our world right now — simply put, if you have feelings for someone, it’s best if you say it not and shoot your shot, because you may not have a chance later.

Directed by the band, the recently released video for “Say It Now” was shot on an iPhone and features the duo (mostly headless) performing the song in their video — with playful and mischievous nods, including subtitles in different languages, and footage superimposed on their amps. 

“What do you do when in you’re in coronavirus isolation?” the band asks. “Make a video! May this track to bust out of your speakers, and then pull you in nice n close. We hope it can be a reminder – to us and others – that in any loving relationship, growth and change are inevitable. Keeping the lines of communication open – don’t hold anything in. But, be kind, be honest and speak without ego.” 

New Video: Birmingham AL’s Wray Releases a Brooding Visual for Shimmering and Cinematic “Jogging/Neon Forming”

Wray is a critically applauded Birmingham, AL-based indie trio — David Bown (bass, vocals), David Swatzell (guitar, vocals) and Blake Wimberly (drums)  — that can trace its origins to its members’ shared decade-plus history in Birmingham’s indie and underground scenes. Interestingly, with the act’s first two albums — 2014’s self-titled debut and 2016’s Lynn Bridges and Wray co-produced sophomore album Hypatia, the Birmingham-based trio received praise from the likes of The New York Times and Mojo for their adventurous, genre-defying sound and approach. Adding to a growing profile, they’ve also made appearances on MTVu and Daytrotter. 

Slated for a June 5, 2020 release through their longtime label home Communicating Vessels Records, the band’s long-awaited, self-produced dual record Stream of Youth/Blank World thematically is an exploration of personal dichotomies: hope and pessimism, wildness and composure, joy and pain. Recorded at Communicating Vessels Birmingham area studio, the band experimented, wrote, revised and recorded the material at their own pace. Sonically, the material further establishes the band’s reputation for crafting a shimmering New Wave-like take on shoegaze that seems indebted to NEU!, Faust, Can, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, and even The Cure. 

“Jogging/Neon Forming,” Stream of Youth/Blank World’s brooding and cinematic latest single is a perfect example of the sound that has won them acclaim: centered around a motorik groove, shimmering synth arpeggios, plaintive vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook, the song feels like an ethereal yet lingering fever dream. At its core is an achingly wistful nostalgia for a past that we simply can’t get back — and considering the current state of the world, the song’s overall feel and vibe feels powerfully relevant. 

Created by Barbara Baron, the recently released video for “Jogging/Neon Forming” was hot on a grainy VHS-like tape and features a lonely woman in a laundromat and briefly in a park — and throughout there’s a sense of loss. 

 

New Video: FORCES Returns with Another Dance Floor Friendly Bop

FORCES is a rising synth-based act, comprised of romantic couple and collaborative duo Jess and Dave. Although their latest project is a relatively new project, it’s centered around the 20+ year relationship and collaboration between its creative masterminds, who may be best known in their native Canada for their previous project, The Golden Dogs. With Golden Dogs, Jess and Dave wound up working with a virtual who’s who of contemporary, Canadian indie rock. including including the then-future members of Zeus, Wax Atlantic and Brave Shores, along with Taylor Knox and Stew Heyduk — while opening for Sloan, Feist, Bloc Party, The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, Thurston Moore and Roky Erickson.

Back in 2017, Jess and Dave went into the studio and began working on what they thought would be the next Golden Dogs album — although in some way, deep down they both realized that they kind of knew that it wasn’t. What they started working on was a decided and radical sonic departure from the driving rock sound they’ve long specialized in and were known for. In fact, they were increasingly drawn to the a number of different production styles — in particular, The Dead Pets, Liquid Liquid, New Order, The Cure‘s Close to Me and Timbaland. And as a result, the duo. which currently splits its time between Montreal and Toronto began to experiment with synths, beatmaking and funky rhythms.

At the same time Jess stepped up into the role of frontperson, taking on a sultry vocal approach paired with layered, punchy female-led harmonies. Simultaneously, Dave began to focus on guitar textures and melodies. Along with that, the material they started to write was primarily based around metronomic loop and electronics — instead of the drums-bass-guitar arrangements they had long relied on. Now, if you were frequenting this site late last year, you may recall I wrote about the FORCES’ debut single, the glittering dance floor friendly bop, “Stay On Me,” which was centered around a funky Nile Rodgers-inspired guitar riff, layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, a propulsive club-rocking groove and Jess’ sultry vocals that builds up to a cathartic sense of release.

The Canadian duo’s second single “Step In A Sway” is ironically enough the first they recorded as FORCES, and the single finds them openly embracing straightforward pop. Much like its predecessor, “Step In A Sway” features a sinuous bass line, Nile Rodgers-like guitar work, twinkling synths and fluttering electronics but it manages to sound as though it were indebted to early 80s Madonna  — in particular “Everybody.”  “The song is an ode to all of those who are first on the dance floor giving the rest of us wallflowers the courage and inspiration to do the same,” the Canadian duo say. 

“The song was inspired by a simple drum lesson we gave to a good friend,” the member of FORCES explain. “As she struggled to stay in the groove, the goal was to get her out of her head and into a rhythm where her body danced with the music. Later, as we were writing  it, we realized her journey through that lesson — the struggle to get from panic to flow (or ‘sway’ as we call it here) — is a universal one, and it became an exploration of that them in both words and music.” 

The recently released video follows FORCES’ Jess playing out the song’s central theme, as we see her walking through the city with her headphones — literally being in her head — and finding that “sway” in the forest scenes, where she finds her inhibitions dissolving, moving along with the thumping beat. 

Born to an English father and Italian mother, the emerging Paris-born and-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer and electronic music artist, Frank Woodbridge grew up in a passionate, musical household: at an early age, the Woodbridge family spent their evening listening to their vinyl record collection in front of their huge stereo. “My father loved The Kinks, The Beatles, The Bee Gees and Al Jarreau. My mother introduced me to Stan Getz, Carole King and the romantic refrains of the crooners that reminded her of her childhood,” Woodbridge recalls fondly in press notes. “From the age of ten, I was already deep into The Cure, Depeche Mode, U2. My teenage neighbor had decided to perfect my musical education. And then, Bernard Lenoir on Inter, the many weekends in London . . . I was an indie kid, that was my life.”

After spending many years in rock and electro pop groups as a singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Woodbridge has spent the past few years focusing on composing and composition for films, the web, TV games, sound design for events and stage music for theater. Currently, the French composer, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer and electronic music producer works with Andre Manoukian on his daily chronicle for the Daphne Burki-hosted TV show,. Je T’aime, ETC — and he wrote a comic book Inversion, which follows its composer protagonist.

Centered around layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, Woodbridge’s latest single, the cinematic “Lola dans le bus” recalls JOVM  mainstays Uppermost and M83— but with a dreamy yet melancholy air. Woodbridge explains that the track is an electronic track he composed to drive or daydream along with. He adds that the song is  about running into an ex-girlfriend he lost contact with: he saw her on a bus and waved at her but she didn’t see him. So as a result the song has the sensibility of a missed connection that you’ll never get back — and of unfinished business.