Tag: The Flaming Lips

New Video: Rising London-based Act Tempesst Releases a Brit Pop Take on Psych Rock

Growing up in a musical family, Noosa, Australia-born, London-based twin siblings Toma and Andy Benjamin joined the church band when they were 14. Coincidentally, the church band was where the Banjamins met their future Tempesst bandmates Kane Reynolds and Blake Mispeka. 

The Banjamin Brothers eventually left home and discovered a whole new world of music, ideas and ways of living that weren’t part of their previous purview: after a short stint in the UK, the Banjamins wound up in Williamsburg, where they soaked up the DIY ethos of the  late 2000s Williamsburg scene, while developing their own ideas and starting home recording projects inspired by Joni Mitchell, Al Green, Wings, Electric Light Orchestra and others. 

After a year in Brooklyn, an expiring visa forced the Banjamins to relocate to Hackney, where they hunkered down and got serious about writing and recording material. They recruited Swiss-American Eric Weber (guitar) and reconnected with their fellow Aussies Reynolds and Mispeka. And at that point, the rising London-based indie act Tempesst started. 

Unsurprisingly, the need to practice, write and record in a city like London helped facilitate the creation of their own studio. “We started out with a basic production studio that Tom kept at his house but one of the biggest challenges in London is that you can’t make noise,” the band’s Andy Banjamin recalls. “So we began looking for a rehearsal space and came across this warehouse, which was way bigger than anything we were looking for but got us wondering about what it would actually take to set up a proper studio.” 

Naming the space Pony Studios, the band started to convert the warehouse into multiple studio rooms and practice spaces. Simultaneously, the band started Pony Recordings, which helped changed the way the band had approached their work.  “These days artists are expected to do so much themselves and we have always been slight control freaks anyway,” Andy Banjamin says in press notes. “DIY is part of everything that we do, so that extends to our label, the studio, the videos, all of it and really it’s just how the indie music scene has evolved.” Toma Banjamin adds ““With the studio, we have time to work on all the key things that have become quintessential to our sound but also experiment and add an element of surprise, whether that is a weird synth solo or a key change. It’s those little departures that keep the listener on their toes.”

After releasing a handful of critically applauded, buzz worthy singles and EPs, the Aussie-born, British-based members of Tempesst will be releasing their highly anticipated full-length debut, the Eliot Heinrich co-produced Must Be a Dream. Slated for a September 30, 2020 release through the band’s own Pony Recordings, Tempesst’s full-length debut reportedly finds the band boldly taking a step forward with their songwriting and their sound. Generally leaning towards folk-tinged psychedelia, the album’s material nods at Spiritualized, The Flaming Lips, and The Beach Boys — but with a modern melodic sensibility. 

Sonically, the material is deceptive: complex musical ideas are centered around seemingly simple melodies.  Seemingly sun-kissed, the album thematically explores themes of longing, love, loss, substance abuse, the death of loved ones — and yet remembering the beauty just underneath all of it. “This record is the first time that I feel like I’ve had the uninterrupted ability to create and have full control at our own pace,” Toma Banjamin says in press notes. “With this LP, we’ve created something we’re really proud of that truly cements our identity as a group. The joy of taking these songs live is something that we’re really excited about.”

Must Be A Dream’s first single “On The Run” is a decidedly Brit Pop-take on 60s and 70s psych rock centered around shimmering and reverb drenched guitars, layered vocal harmonies, an enormous hook and Toma Benjamin’s serpentine-like vocals. And while superficially being a sun-kissed, summery anthem, the song is actually much darker, as the song thematically focuses on substance abuse, death and the loss of innocence — that feels haunted by the weight of heartache. “it’s about a close friend who disappeared for a decade and returned as someone completely different, and it’s an ongoing trauma,” Toma Banjamin explains. “When I connected the music to the lyrics to try and finish the song, it felt like it had a rolling rhythm, so the chorus fell into place from there. For me, this song carries a lot more emotional weight.”

Directed by Andrea Banjanin, the recently released video is centered around cinematically shot footage of the band performing the song in a studio space with symbolic imagery placed in quick cuts — and that imagery focuses on the songs overall themes of mortality, loss of innocence and the complications of adult life. 

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Closing Eyes · You Can Have Everything

Oslo’s Closing Eyes — Eirik Asker Pettersen, Magnus Asker Pettersen, Emilie Lium Vordal, Anders Emil Rønning and Jørgen Bjella — are a rising indie act, who has developed a sound and approach that’s inspired by an eclectic array of influences including Yo La Tengo, Stereolab, Spiritualized, The Velvet Underground, The Electric Prunes, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Gilberto Gil, The Magnetic Fields, and The Soft Bulletin-era The Flaming Lips. 

With the release of 2014’s debut EP Melodies for the Contemporary Mind, which led to them opening for Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier — and their full-length debut, 2018’s Soft Years, the act started to receive quite a bit of attention from the Norwegian press. Adding to a growing profile, the act played several showcases in their native Norway and they opened for The Brian Jonestown Massacre. They ended a big 2018 with the the 12-inch effort Reworked, which featured remixes from Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas, Young Dreams and Serena Maneesh.

The members of the rising Norwegian indie act spent last year writing and recording their recently released Emil Nikolaisen-produced sophomore album Eternal Fidelity.  The album highlights a band that has grown more confident while crafting material that’s nostalgic yet modern, centered around big chords and sentimental melodies.  “Sometimes I try very hard to hold on to something but it just feels like it’s slipping through my fingers. Ideals, dreams, identities or friendships are all things that live so strongly and easily when we’re young but often seem to lose footing as we grow older,” the band’s Eirik Asker Pettersen says of the album’s overall vibe and themes. “Convictions that seem so solid can suddenly dissolve and become unresolved issues. I don’t think we’re too good at dealing with that. Mostly, Eternal Fidelity is about those feelings. It’s about trying to hold on, let go and make sense of it all. It’s about clinging to what’s important even though it might not be easy all the time.”  

Eternal Fidelity‘s latest single is the woozy “You Can Have Everything.” Centered around shimming and arpeggiated blocks of keys, boom bap-like drums, fuzzy power chords and an rousingly anthemic hook, the song manages to a woozy and achingly nostalgic song that evokes the rapid passing of time, as well as the constantly changing priorities and responsibilities of adult life. Life changes you after all; it does that very well.

 

 

New Video: Phoebe Ryan’s Lysergic and Animated Visual for Shimmering Pop Confection “Reality”

Phoebe Ryan is an acclaimed Texas-born, New Jersey-based singer/songwriter andNYU Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music grad. Upon graduation, Ryan headed out to Los Angeles, where she landed work as a songwriter, writing songs for a number of artists, eventually writing Britney Spears’ “Man on the Moon.” 

With the release of sultry and attention-grabbing  mashup of R. Kelly’s “Ignition” and Miguel’s “Do You Like,” the Texas-born, New Jersey-based singer/songwriter exploded into the national scene, eventually signing with Columbia Records, who her first two EPs — 2015’s Mine and 2017’s James. Ultimately, Ryan felt at her best, guiding her own creative vision and returned to independent status, so that she could do things her way.

Last year, Ryan released two singles “ICIMY (In Case I Miss You)” and “Ring,” and opened for with pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen. And continuing on that momentum, Ryan will be releasing her long-awaited full-length debut How It Used to Feel on June 26, 2020. The album’s third and latest single is the woozy and kaleidoscopic, pop confection “Fantasy.” Inspired by the production on The Flaming Lips’ 2006 effort At War With The Mystics, the track which features shimmering and twinkling synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking low end and shuffling beats, will remind the listener of Ryan’s unerring ability to craft an infectious, radio friendly hook. But underneath the slick, modern production is some earnest songwriting. “‘Reality’ is about a time in my life where I was very dishonest with myself, trusting people who shouldn’t be trusted, and basically just living a lie because it was far less painful than the truth. I love the lyrics, they’re all straight from my dumb little heart, but I think the production of the song is what really hits me. It’s so upbeat and psychedelic, anthemic, bright, yet sorrowful.”

Directed and animated by Richie Brown, the recently released video for “Reality” is a wild, technicolor video is a lysergic journey through a cartoon Phoebe Ryan’s fantasies of bulging and pulsating bodies, fortune tellers and intergalactic travel — seen from the perspective of her pet parrot, who at times seems kind of confused at everything going on. “This is one of the most exciting videos we’ve gotten together for the album,” the Texas-born, New Jersey-based artist explains in press notes. “It’s exotic. It’s erotic. It’s everything I see in my head when I go to sleep at night. Collaborating with Richie Brown was such a fun experience, not only because I’ve been a fan of his work for years (the first video I saw of his was Brick + Mortar’s “Old Boy” in 2014), but because it’s honestly hilarious being able to text someone so open to the weirdest ideas at all hours of the day and night. Crocs? Obama? BDSM? He’s a genius. I love his wild visions.”

 

Blinker the Star · Silent Types

I’ve written quite a bit about Jordon Zadorozny, the Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind acclaimed indie rock recording project Blinker The Star over the past few months. Zadorozny initially started the project as a solo project but by the time the  act signed to A&M Records, the project expanded into a full-fledged band for their first two albums — 1995’s self-titled debut and 1996’s A Bourgeois Kitten. During those early years, the band built up a profile nationally and elsewhere through steady touring.

In 1997, Zadorozny relocated from Montreal to Los Angeles, where he worked with Courtney Love, helping craft songs for Hole’s acclaimed and commercially successful album Celebrity Skin. While in Los Angeles, Zadorozny began soaking up new influences and became increasingly fascinated with production. Signing with Dreamworks in 1999, the band, which at the time featured Zadorozny, Failure’s Kelli Scott (drums), longtime bassist Pete Frolander and a rotating cast of Southern California-based session musicians recorded and released their critically applauded third album August Everywhere, which they supported with touring across North America with Our Lady Peace, Sloan, Failure and The Flaming Lips. 

Returning back to Pembroke in 2002, Zadorozny built his first commercial recording studio and began working with Sam Roberts, contributing drums and producing Roberts’ breakthrough debut EP The Inhuman Condition. Zadorozny also worked on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Chris Cornell, Lindsey Buckingham and others.

During the Winter of 2003, Zadorozny wrote and recorded Blinker The Star’s fourth album Still In Rome as a duo with Kelli Scott. Following a brief tour to support the album, the Pembroke, Ontario-born multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter quickly settled into the production side of the things working with an electric array of artists, including collaborative projects like Digital Noise Academy, SheLoom,  The Angry Moon, and others.

2012’s fourth album, We Draw Lines was the first Blinker The Star album that Zadorozny wrote and recorded as a solo recording project since he started the project over a decade earlier.  Interestingly, We Draw Lines began a rather prolific period that included 2013’s Songs from Laniakea Beach, a one-off single “Future Fires,” 2015’s 11235 EP, 2017’s 8 of Hearts and last year’s Careful With Your Magic.

After completing a short run of shows last fall, Zodorozny began working working on new material at his Skylark Park Studio. The solitude of his environment helped inform his forthcoming Blinker The Star album Juvenile Universe, which is slated for release this summer. So far, I’ve written about two of the album’s singles — the Station to Station-era David Bowie-like “Way Off Wave,” and the jangling, 70s rock-like “Only To Run Wild.” The album’s third and latest single, “Silent Type” is a decidedly 80s New Wave-inspired track, featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, glistening and angular guitars, a propulsive bass line and an enormous hook that reminds me a little bit of  Yes‘ “Owner of Lonely Heart.” But under the slick radio friendly production, the track continues a run of ambitious and deliberately crafted material.

 

 

New Video: Blinker The Star’s Glitchy and Trippy Visual for Anthemic “Only To Ruin Wild”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written about the Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind acclaimed indie rock recording project Blinker The Star, Jordon Zadorozny. Initially started as a solo project. Zadorozny’s Blinker The Star expanded into a trio by the time they signed to A&M Records, who released the band’s first two albums — 1995’s self-titled debut and 1996’s A Bourgeois Kitten. During those early years, the band built up a profile nationally and elsewhere through steady touring. 

In 1997, Zadorozny relocated from Montreal to Los Angeles, where he worked with Courtney Love, helping craft songs for Hole’s acclaimed and commercially successful Celebrity Skin. While in Los Angeles, Zadorozny began soaking up new influences and became increasingly fascinated with production. Signing with Dreamworks in 1999, the band, which at the time featured Zadorozny, Failure’s Kelli Scott (drums), longtime bassist Pete Frolander and a rotating cast of Southern California-based session musicians recorded and released their critically applauded third album August Everywhere, which they supported with touring across North America with Our Lady Peace, Sloan, Failure and The Flaming Lips. 

Returning back to Pembroke in 2002, Zadorozny built his first commercial recording studio and began working with Sam Roberts, contributing drums and producing Roberts’ breakthrough debut EP The Inhuman Condition. Zadorozny also worked on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Chris Cornell, Lindsey Buckingham and others.

During the Winter of 2003, Zadorozny wrote and recorded Blinker The Star’s fourth album Still In Rome as a duo with Kelli Scott. Following a brief tour to support the album, the Pembroke, Ontario-born multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter quickly settled into the production side of the things working with an electric array of artists, including collaborative projects like Digital Noise Academy, SheLoom,  The Angry Moon, and others. 

2012’s fourth album, We Draw Lines was the first Blinker The Star album that Zadorozny wrote and recorded as a solo recording project since he started the it. We Draw Lines began a rather prolific period that included 2013’s Songs from Laniakea Beach, a one-off single “Future Fires” 2015’s 11235 EP, 2017’s 8 of Hearts and last year’s Careful With Your Magic.

After completing a short run of shows last fall, Zodorozny began working working on new material at his Skylark Park Studio. The solitude of his environment helped inform his forthcoming Blinker The Star album Juvenile Universe, which is slated for release this summer. Now, as you may recall, last month I wrote about the album’s first single “Way Off Wave,” a Station to Station-era David Bowie-like track with an enormous, arena rock friendly hook that according to Zodorozny “touches upon the things we do and think to ourselves after a period of great change: our impulse to seek out new external realities, while internally returning to stuck patterns and thoughts which inhibit growth and acceptance. It is almost a dreamlike state we find ourselves in trying to move forward while mentally sloshing about in the past, looking for new answers that will never appear.”

“Only To Run Wild” Juvenile Universe’s second and latest single continues a run of seemingly 70s rock inspired singles, centered around a jangling guitars, a shimmering and expressive guitar solo, a soaring hook and an unerring melodicism. But interestingly enough, it may be the most boldly ambitious Blinker The Star song I’ve heard. 

“There was a moment after New Year’s when the studio suddenly fell silent for the first time in weeks. I found myself pacing mindlessly so I sat down at my 1972 Heinzman upright piano and the first 4 chords that fell out are the first chords you hear in this song,” Zodorozny explains in press notes. “It is a paean to those who must live free and roam this earth alone, perhaps not fearlessly but with a stubbornness of will and imagination, all chips on the table, never to be caught in limbo or treading water. To flow like an eternal spring.”

The recently released video is centered around digitally massaged and trippy visuals by Victor Malang. 

Initially created as a solo project by its Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based creative mastermind, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Jordon Zadorozny, Blinker The Star eventually expanded into a trio by the time they signed to A&M Records, who released the project’s first two albums — 1995’s self-titled debut and 1996’s A Bourgeois Kitten. During that period, the band toured steadily, building a profile nationally and elsewhere.

In 1997, Zadorozny relocated from Montreal to Los Angeles, where he worked with Courtney Love, helping craft songs for Hole’s acclaimed Celebrity Skin. While in Los Angeles, Zadorozny began soaking up new influences and became increasingly fascinated with production. Signing with Dreamworks in 1999, the band, which at the time featured Zadorozny, Failure’s Kelli Scott (drums), longtime bassist Pete Frolander and a rotating cast of Southern California-based session musicians recorded and released their critically applauded third album August Everywhere, which they supported with touring across North America with Our Lady Peace, Sloan, Failure and The Flaming Lips. 

Returning back to Pembroke in 2002, Zadorozny built his first commercial recording studio and began working with Sam Roberts, contributing drums and producing Roberts’ breakthrough debut EP The Inhuman Condition. Zadorozny also worked on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Chris Cornell, Lindsey Buckingham and others.

During the Winter of 2003, Zadorozny wrote and recorded Blinker the Sky’s fourth album Still In Rome as a duo with Kelli Scott. Following a brief tour to support the album, the Pembroke, Ontario-born multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter quickly settled into the production side of the things working with an electric array of artists, including collaborative projects like Digital Noise Academy, SheLoom, and Abbey and The Angry Moon.

2012’s fourth album, We Draw Lines was the first Blinker The Star album that Zadorozny wrote and recorded since he started the project — and it began a rather prolific period that included 2013’s Songs from Laniakea Beach, a one-off single “Future Fires” 2015’s 11235 EP, 2017’s 8 of Hearts and last year’s  Careful With Your Magic. Interestingly, after completing a short run of shows last fall, Zodorozny began working on new music at his Skylark Park Studio. The solitude of his environment helped informed his forthcoming Blinker The Star album Juvenile Universe, which is slated for release this summer.

Juvenile Universe‘s first single “Way Off Wave.” Centered around a dense arrangement of shimmering guitars, sinuous bass lines, a blazing, distortion pedal-fueled guitar solo, atmospheric and droning synths and an enormous, arena rock friendly hook “Way Off Wave” brings Station to Station-era David Bowie to mind. “The song touches on the things we do and think to ourselves after a period of great change: our impulse to seek out new external realities, while internationally returning to stuck patterns and thoughts, which inhibit growth and acceptance,” as the Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer/songwriter explains in press notes. “It is almost a dreamlike state we find ourselves in trying to move forward while mentally sloshing about in the past, looking for new answers that will never appear.”

 

 

Led by its Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based creative mastermind, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist  Jordon Zadorozny, Blinker the Star initially began as solo recording project that eventually expanded into a trio that released two albums through A&M Records — 1995’s self-titled debut and 1996’s A Bourgeois Kitten. Throughout that period, the band toured steadily, building up a profile nationally and elsewhere.

In 1997, Zadorozny relocated from Montreal to Los Angeles, where he worked with Courtney Love, helping craft songs for Hole’s acclaimed Celebrity Skin. He also began soaking up new influences and became progressively fascinated with production. Signing with Dreamworks in 1999, the band, which featured Zadorozny, Failure’s Kelli Scott (drums), longtime bassist Pete Frolander and a collective of Southern California-based session musicians recorded and released their critically applauded August Everywhere. The band toured across North America with Our Lady Peace, Sloan, Failure and The Flaming Lips. 

Returning to Pembroke in 2002, Zadorozny built his first commercial recording studio and began working with Sam Roberts, producing and contributing drums on Roberts’ breakthrough debut EP The Inhuman Condition. The Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer also worked on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Chris Cornell, Lindsey Buckingham and others.

During the winter of 2013, Zadorozny wrote and recorded Still In Rome as a duo with Kelli Scott. Following a brief tour, he quickly settled into the production side, working on a number of collaborative projects including Digital Noise Academy, SheLoom, Abbey and The Angry Moon. He was also kept busy with production work with an eclectic array of artists.

We Draw Lines was the first Blinker The Star album that Zadorozny wrote and recorded as a solo project in quite some time. He followed We Draw Lines with Songs from Laniakea Beach, a one-off single “Future Fires” the 11235 EP and 2017’s 8 of Hearts. Continuing a run of recent prolificacy, Zodorozny’s latest Blinker The Star album Careful With Your Magic is slated for a September 20, 2019 release.

Careful With Your Magic‘s latest single is the  synth-driven and anthemic “Sweet Nothing.” Centered around a sinuous bass line, twinkling keys, atmospheric synths, blasts of shimmering guitars, a soaring hook and Zadorozny’s plaintive crooning, the song seems indebted to 80s synth pop — in particular Thompson Twins and Tears for Fears immediately come to mind. And while there’s a similar attention to craft, the song comes from a deeply personal and lived-in place, as the song’s narrator recognizes that they’re at a crossroads: do they grow up and take a chance on a relationship that could transform their life — or do they retreat back to single life? At some point, we all face this and the uncertainties of that decision.

“My new single ‘Sweet Nothing’ was written by myself and my good friend Bob Wilcox,” Jordon Zodorozny says in press notes. “The song started as an instrumental track that I completed where I was sort of aiming for a Thompson Twins vibe. Bob heard the music and immediately had melodic and lyrical ideas. Although Bob wrote all of the words, I feel he was tuning into some things that were happening in my life that made it quite easy for me to get behind when the time came to sing it.”

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Geographer Releases a Wistful Visual for Soaring and Plaintive “Summer of My Discontentment”

JOVM mainstay Mike Deni is a New Jersey-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electro pop artist and producer, best known for his solo recording project Geographer. As the story goes, Deni relocated to San Francisco while living in the aftermath of the sudden and tragic death of his sister — and then the equally unexpected death of his father. While sleeping on a floor of a friend’s Haight-Ashbury apartment, Deni serendipitously found a synthesizer on the street and began to channel his grief and optimism into the songs that would eventually comprise his full-length debut 2008’s Innocent Ghost. And through the release of two more full-length albums 2012’s Myth, 2015’s Ghost Modern and three EPs, 2010’s Animal Shapes EP, 2015’s Endless Motion EP and last year’s Alone Time EP, Deni has received attention across the blogosphere for his unique, textured and soulful blend of analog, electronic  and acoustic elements, a sound that he has described as “soulful music from outer space.” 

Building upon a growing profile, Deni has toured with the likes of K. Flay, The Flaming Lips, Young The Giant, Tycho, Ratatat, Betty Who and Tokyo Police Club, and he played sets at Outside Lands Festival and Firefly Festival. Interestingly, last year the JOVM mainstay gave up his San Francisco apartment and hopped between tours and friends churches for the next six months, including a month stay back in Jersey and a few weeks in Italy (where both sides of his family are from). And he did that before finally relocating to Los Angeles. During that period of shiftlessness in which he was in limbo between his old life and new life, Deni wound up writing the material, which would eventually comprise his recently released New Jersey EP. 

Many of the songs of the New Jersey EP began in his childhood home and were finished at a friend’s Los Angeles home while he was looking for an apartment; in fact, the EP’s first two singles “Love is Wasted in the Dark” and its latest single “Summer of My Discontentment” were part of the first batches of material written during that period. “Summer of My Discontentment” is a perfect example of the JOVM mainstay’s specialty — swooning and earnest 80s-inspired synth pop, centered around a twinkling and arpeggiated piano, thumping beats, a soaring hook and Deni’s plaintive and aching vocals; but unlike some of his previously released material, the song possesses a wistful air that comes from nostalgia for a long-gone, seemingly simpler time that you can’t have ever again — and the dreams your younger self may have given up for the compromises of adulthood. 

Directed by Patrick Mattes, the recently released accompanying video follows a group of young people, full of youthful hopes and dreams on a gloriously sunny day while Deni broodingly sings the song from a different vantage point, during sunset. In some way, the video implies that the action are the reflections and reminiscing of the video’s central character — from the perspective of a complicated adulthood.