Tag: The Guardian

New Video: I Break Horses Releases a Brooding and Lonely Visual for “Depression Tourist”

Led by frontwoman Maria Linden and featuring Fredrik Balak, the Stockholm-based indie act I Break Horses have released two critically applauded albums: 2011’s full-length debut Hearts received praise from Pitchfork, The Guardian, NME, The Independent and others for material that possessed a luxurious grandeur and 2014’s Chiaroscuro, which found Linden crafting ambitious material with a cool, self-assuredness. Building upon a growing profile, Linden and Balak toured with M83 and Sigur Ros— and U2 played “Winter Beats” before their stage entrance during 2018’s Experience + Innocence tour.

Released yesterday through Bella Union, I Break Horses’ long-awaited third album Warnings was centered around Linden’s desire to take the time to make something entirely different — crafting martial with a strong emphasis on instrumental, cinematic music.  Much of the album’s material can trace its origins back to Linden watching a collection of her favorite films on her computer with the sound muted. As she did so, she began to make her own soundtrack sketches — and those initial sketches gradually evolved int songs. “It wasn’t until I felt an urge to add vocals and lyrics,” Linden says, “that I realized I was making a new I Break Horses album.

Sonically, the album’s material consists of lush and sumptuously layered soundscapes featuring dreamy mellotrons, haunting loops, analog synths and layered vocals meant to create an immersive, dramatic tension on multiple levels. “It’s not a political album,” says Lindén, “though it relates to the alarmist times we live in. Each song is a subtle warning of something not being quite right.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the album’s creative process was also centered around several different dramas of its own:  “It has been some time in the making. About six years, involving several studios, collaborations that didn’t work out, a crashed hard drive with about two years of work, writing new material again instead of trying to repair it. New studio recordings, erasing everything, then recording most of the album myself at home…” Linden says in press notes.

Warnings also finds Linden collaborating with producer and mixing engineer Chris Coady, who has worked with the likes of Beach House and TV on the Radio. But his experience and expertise with dense and cinematic sound wasn’t the only reason Linden recruited him to mix the album. “Before reaching out to Chris I read an interview where he said, ‘I like to slow things down. Almost every time I love the sound of something slowed down by half, but sometimes 500% you can get interesting shapes and textures.’ And I just knew he’d be the right person for this album.”

“Nowadays, the attention span equals nothing when it comes to how most people consume music,” Lindén adds. “And it feels like songs are getting shorter, more ‘efficient.’ I felt an urge to go against that and create an album journey from start to finish that takes time and patience to listen to. Like, slow the fuck down!”

Now, as you may recall, I wrote about “Neon Lights,” Warnings third single, a lush and cinematic track that managed to recall Trans Europe Express-era Kraftwerk and the Stranger Things soundtrack with a much-needed we-re-all-in-this-together air.  “Depression Tourist,” Warnings’ latest single is an eerie and atmospheric track, centered around a sparse arrangement of shimmering and ethereal synths and Linden’s voice fed through vocoder and other effects. And as a result, the song feels intimate and lonely, yet otherworldly. 

“I wanted this song to sound as if it was broadcasted from space, the loneliest place I could imagine,” Linden explains. “As I obviously couldn’t perform it up there I filmed this version in the loneliest field I could find in Malta.” Shot in black and white, the recently released live session features Linden and a synthesizer in the middle of a windswept corn field. The concept my be simple but it’s gorgeous and evocative. 

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BonFire Records · Wolf & Moon – A Tape Called Life

With last year’s full-length debut Before It Gets Dark, which was released through German label AdP Records in Europe and BonFire Records in North America,  the Berlin-based pop duo Wolf & Moon received attention across Germany and elsewhere for a sound that they described on their Facebook fan page as “somewhere between the folky sound of Angus and Julia Stone and the electronic influences of The xx . . ..” Adding to a big year, they played sets at SXSW and Reeperbahn Festival, where they received a Best Newcomer Award nomination at the festival’s VIA Indie Awards. Adding to a growing profile, they received airplay on Dutch radio stations 3FM-FX, ZuidWestFM, BredaNu, A-FM and Indie XL, Chicago’s WGN, and German radio stations Sputnik, DETEKTOR FM and SWR3 — and they’ve been featured in  The Guardian.

The duo — Dennis and Stef — have also developed and maintained a reputation for relentless touring with a minimal live set up — generally,  a travel guitar, electronic drum machine, a mini Casio keyboard and their voices. Late last year, the Berlin-based duo were approached for an export grant from the Dutch Music Exchange, which helped the duo record and produce their highly-anticipated sophomore album slated for release in September.

“A Tape Called Life,” the second single off the duo’s sophomore album is a carefully crafted bit of dream pop featuring shimmering guitars, rapid fire beats, the duo’s hushed boy-girl harmonies and an infectious hook, continuing a run of material that will likely draw comparisons to JOVM mainstays Geowulf and Moonbabies. Interestingly, the track is deceptively breezy; thematically, the track explores the difficulties of aging and growing older. The duo asks the listener to look back upon their youth with rose colored glasses — but while acknowledging that in doing so, that the present may not seem as beautiful or perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve written a bit about the Ipswich, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Hannah Scott over the past couple of years. And as you may recall much of her work is influenced by her own personal experiences, including  a year she spent working on an olive press in rural Tuscany, Italy in her late teens, her diagnosis with a form of arthritis, which causes severe joint pain and fatigue, as well as the experiences of the people in her life.

Several years later, Scott met her collaborator, Italian-born multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Stefano Della Casa when they were both in London. But as the story goes, they both recognized that they may have encountered each other years earlier, when Scott used to pass through the train station that Della Casa worked in at the time. Interestingly, when Scott and Della Casa began working together, they also quickly recognized that they had a deep and abiding creative connection despite coming from vastly different backgrounds: Della Casa had a difficult upbringing and troubled early adulthood while Scott had been lucky to have a supportive family and relatively happy childhood.

Both artists firmly believe that their musical collaboration has provided an outlet to support each other through difficult times and in a relatively short time, they’ve built up a profile both nationally and internationally with write-ups in MOJO, Songwriting Magazine , Clash Magazine and in The Guardian as a “New Band of The Day.” They’ve also received airplay on  Bob Harris’ and Dermot O’Leary’BBC Radio 2 shows and have been on  BBC Introducing’s “Track of the Week” three times. They’ve opened for  Seth Lakeman and 10cc , and played at Mondo.NYC Festival a couple of years ago.

Since I caught her at Mondo.NYC, Scott has been pretty busy releasing new material including 2018’s full-length Pieces of the Night which firmly established Scott’s sound and approach: emotive and heartfelt songwriting paired with a cinematic production featuring organic instrumentation — acoustic guitar, cello and vocals — with atmospheric electronics. Last year, she released the gorgeous Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head-era Coldplay-like “Walk a Wire,” which managed to be one of the Ipswich-born, London-based singer/songwriter’s most urgent songs, as it’s a plea to the listener to take a chance to open up to life and possibility before it’s too late.

The Della Casa co-written and produced “Shape” is the latest single from the JOVM mainstay and it’s also the latest single off her forthcoming full-length album. Centered around a cinematic production featuring twinkling keys, atmospheric synths, Scott’s emotive vocals and an enormous hook the song further cements the sound and approach that has won Scott attention across the blogosphere. Much like “Walk a Wire,” the song showcases her narrative-based songwriting, with the song recounting the story of how her maternal grandmother refused to accept her mother’s engagement to her father, threatening to never speak to her mother again if they got married. Her grandmother kept her word for over 20 years. As a result, the song expresses an overwhelming sense of regret and loss, as well as the sense of time rushing by and missing the small yet very important things — the birth of one’s grandchild, Christmases and the like.

 

 

Lyric Video: Stockholm’s I Break Horses Releases a Shimmering and Cinematic New Single

Led by frontwoman Maria Linden and featuring Fredrik Balak, the Stockholm-based indie act I Break Horses have released two critically applauded albums: 2011’s full-length debut Hearts received praise from Pitchfork, The Guardian, NME, The Independent and others for material that possessed luxurious grandeur and 2014’s Chiaroscuro, which found Linden crafting ambitious material with a cool, self-assuredness. Building upon a growing profile, Linden wound up touring with M83 and Sigur Ros– and U2 played “Winter Beats” before their stage entrance during 2018’s Experience + Innocence tour. 

Slated for a May 8, 2020 release through Bella Union, I Break Horses’ long-awaited third album Warnings is reportedly centered around Linden’s desire to take the time to make something different — by crafting material with an emphasis on instrumental, cinematic music. As she watched a collection of her favorite films on her computer with the sound mute, she began to make her own soundtrack sketches, with those sketches gradually evolving into songs. “It wasn’t until I felt an urge to add vocals and lyrics,” says Lindén, “that I realized I was making a new I Break Horses album.”

Sonically, the album’s material is centered around lush and sumptuous soundscapes — dreamy mellotrons, haunting loops, analog synths and layered lyrics paired together to create an immersive, dramatic tension on multiple levels. “It’s not a political album,” says Lindén, “though it relates to the alarmist times we live in. Each song is a subtle warning of something not being quite right.”  Interestingly, the album’s creative process involved several different dramas on its own right: “It has been some time in the making. About six years, involving several studios, collaborations that didn’t work out, a crashed hard drive with about two years of work, writing new material again instead of trying to repair it. New studio recordings, erasing everything, then recording most of the album myself at home…” Linden says in press notes.

Warnings also finds Linden collaborating with producer and mixing engineer Chris Coady, who has worked with the likes of Beach House and TV on the Radio. But his experience and expertise with dense and cinematic sound wasn’t the only reason Linden recruited him to mix the album. “Before reaching out to Chris I read an interview where he said, ‘I like to slow things down. Almost every time I love the sound of something slowed down by half, but sometimes 500% you can get interesting shapes and textures.’ And I just knew he’d be the right person for this album.”

Adds Linden, “Nowadays, the attention span equals nothing when it comes to how most people consume music,” Lindén says. “And it feels like songs are getting shorter, more ‘efficient’. I felt an urge to go against that and create an album journey from start to finish that takes time and patience to listen to. Like, slow the fuck down!”

“Neon Lights,” Warnings’  third and latest single is a lush and cinematic track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a motorik groove, thumping beats, a rousingly anthemic hook and Linden’s plaintive and expressive vocals. And while recalling Trans Europe Express-era Kraftwerk and the Stranger Things soundtrack, the song has a much-needed we’re-in-this-together air. The track as Linden explains is “anthem for all of us who have ever felt like we didn’t fit in. It is trying to give a glimpse of hope to all outsiders who feel like they can’t find their way and to show the world that being a ‘misfit’ is a beautiful thing, not something to be pushed aside.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Moaning Releases a Brooding and Introspective Single

Throughout the past handful of years of this site’s almost ten year history, I’ve managed to spill a lot of virtual ink covering rapidly rising Los Angeles-based post-punk trio and JOVM mainstays Moaning. Now, as you may recall the members of the band — ean Solomon (vocals, guitar), Pascal Stevenson (keys, bass) and Andrew MacKelvie (drums) — have been friends and collaborators in Los Angeles’ DIY scene for the better part of a decade through music and other creative pursuits in different media: Solomon is also a noted illustrator, art director and animator while Stevenson and MacKelvie have played in or produced and engineered acclaimed and rapidly rising acts like Cherry Glazerr, Sasami and Surf Curse.

With the release of 2018’s self-titled, full-length debut, the JOVM mainstays received attention from a number of nationally and internationally known media outlets including The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine, Stereogum, and others for a moody and angular post-punk sound that — to some ears — recalled the likes of Joy Division, Interpol and Preoccupations. The trio’s highly-anticipated Alex Newport-produced and  engineered sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is slated for release tomorrow through Sub Pop Records. Reportedly, the album is a much more collaborative effort than their self-titled debut, and the material find site band brightening the claustrophobic and uneasy sound of their debut a bit, by replacing guitars for synths and beats.

Thematically, the album focuses on the everyday anxieties of being a somewhat functioning human in the madness of our current century — with the material touching upon the deeply personal and the universal. “We’ve known each other forever and we’re really comfortable trying to express where we’re at. A lot of bands aren’t so close,” the band’s Andrew MacKelvie says in press notes. Sean Solomon, who celebrated a year of sobriety during the Uneasy Laughter sessions adds “Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they’re wrong. But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I’ve made.”

Over the past couple of months I’ve written about three of the album’s previously released singles: the brooding, 80s New Order-like single “Ego,” the cynical A Flock of Seagulls-like “Fall In Love,” and the bleak yet explosive, guitar-driven ripper “Make It Stop.” “Connect the Dots,” Uneasy Laughter’s fourth and latest single is a brooding and atmospheric track, centered around shimmering synths, a soaring hook, Solomon’s achingly plaintive vocals, squiggling blasts of guitar, and an angular and expressive guitar solo. And while continuing a run of New Wave-like material, “Connect the Dots” may arguably be the most personal and introspective songs of the album. “The song is about realizing you need help and being brave enough to ask for it. It’s a misconception that asking for help is a sign of weakness. In reality it’s one of the hardest things you can do,” the band’s Sean Solomon explains in press notes.

Directed by Campbell Logan, the recently released video for “Connect the Dots” uses some mind-bending computer animated graphics. “I created this video with the intention of inspiring self-forgiveness, something I think we should all practice,” Logan says. “Making it gave me the opportunity to practice an approach that I like to call Filmmaking Simulation, which is a process of doing film production using virtual cinematography, set design and performance. The result is photorealistic and mimics live action. We had an extremely quick turnaround on the video, but were able to complete it in a little over a month, and despite these hurdles I’m so proud of it!”

Lyric Video: Moaning Releases an Angular and Uneasy Ripper

Over the past couple of years of this site’s almost ten year history — yeah, 10 years, y’all! — I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the rapidly rising Los Angeles-based post-punk trio Moaning.  The members of the band —  Sean Solomon (vocals, guitar), Pascal Stevenson (keys, bass) and Andrew MacKelvie (drums) — have been friends and collaborators in Los Angeles’ DIY scene for the better part of a decade through music and other creative pursuits in different media: Solomon is also a noted illustrator, art director and animator while Stevenson and MacKelvie have played in or produced and engineered acclaimed and rapidly rising acts like Cherry Glazerr, Sasami and Surf Curse.

With the release of 2018’s self-titled, full-length debut, the members of Moaning received attention from a number of nationally and internationally known media outlets including The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine, Stereogum, and others for a moody and angular post-punk sound that — to some ears — recalled the likes of Joy Division, Interpol and Preoccupations. Now, as you may recall, the trio’s highly-anticipated Alex Newport-produced and  engineered sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is slated for a March 20, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records. The album is reportedly a much more collaborative effort than its immediate predecessor, that finds the band actively brightening the claustrophobia and uneasy sound of their debut, with the band trading guitars for synths and beats. 

Thematically, the album focuses on the everyday anxieties of being a somewhat functioning human in the madness of our current century — with the material touching upon the deeply personal and the universal. “We’ve known each other forever and we’re really comfortable trying to express where we’re at. A lot of bands aren’t so close,” the band’s Andrew MacKelvie says in press notes. Sean Solomon, who celebrated a year of sobriety during the Uneasy Laughter sessions adds “Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they’re wrong. But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I’ve made.”

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s released singles: the brooding, 80s New Order-like single “Ego,” which featured a desperate narrator taking stock of himself and his relationships to others with a brutally unflinching honesty — and the cynical  A Flock of Seagulls-like “Fall In Love,” which featured a dysfunctional narrator, who’s ruled by distortions, self-loathing and the expectations of failure. Interestingly, Uneasy Laughter’s third and latest single is the explosive, guitar-driven ripper “Make It Stop.”  Centered around angular and distorted power chords, an enormous hook and propulsive drumming, the track features a depressed narrator, who’s stuck within his own obsessive compulsive thoughts and can’t seem to find a way out from himself and his own worst instincts.  Certainly, if  you’ve ever been in the throes of depression, the song would feel eerily familiar, evoking the dark and fucked up places your mind can go when things seem bleak. 

“The song is about questioning negative thoughts, but struggling to find a solution. Being stuck in your head,” Moaning’s Sean Solomon says in press notes about the song. “There was a period of time where I thought everyone hated me and was out to get me. Now, I realize no one actually is putting that much energy into thinking about me at all. Depression can be extremely narcissistic. I encourage people, who relate to this song to call someone and ask for help.” 

Directed by the band, the recently released video features an enormous collage the band made. “The whole band made a collage for the video. It was really fun piecing different elements together,” Solomon explains in press notes. “We’ve also added  some extra surprises. The dimensions of the collage are 1920 by 40,000 pixels. It’s a big ass thing!”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays KOKOKO! Release a Cinematically Shot and Feverish Visual for Brooding Album Single “Zala Mayele”

Led by Makara Biano and prolific French producer débruit, the pioneering Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo-based DIY electronic collective KOKOKO! is inspired by a growing spirit of protest and unrest among their hometown’s young people. Much like young people everywhere, Kinshasa’s young people have begun to openly question centuries-old norms and taboos, and have openly begun to denounce a society they perceive as being paralyzed by fear — namely, the fear of inclusiveness and much-needed change. The collective and their counterparts have done this with a fearless, in-your-face, punk-rock sort of attitude and ethos. That shouldn’t be surprising as the rapidly rising collective’s name literally means KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK! — with the collective viewing themselves as the sound and voice of a bold, new generation defiantly and urgently banging on the doors and walls, and yelling “OUR TIME IS NOW!” 

Speaking of DIY, the collective’s members operate in a wildly inventive DIY fashion, creating self-designed and self-made instruments from recycled flotsam and jetsam and recovered junk. They even built a recording studio out of old mattresses, reclaimed wood and an old ping-pong table. Unsurprisingly, the act’s creative processes is centered round the notion that poverty and the desperately urgent need to survive often fuels creativity. Now,  as you may recall the Congolese collective exploded into the national scene with their debut EP 2017’s Tokoliana, a forward-thinking, urgent effort featuring a difficult to pigeonhole sound with elements of disco, post-punk, hip-hop, reggae, retro-futuristic funk, Afro-futurism and the region’s traditional music that seemed to come from an alien yet familiar near dystopian future in which the ghetto and the club are intertwined. 

Tokoliana’s follow-up TONGOS’A EP further explored themes of survival within the desperate and uneasy sociopolitical climate of their homeland, in which the average person may be forced on absolute certainties — the small, deeply human pleasures we, in the First World sometimes take for granted. 

Last year’s full-length debut Fongola was released to critical acclaim from the likes of NPR, The Guardian, Mixmag, Mojo, Dazed and i-D Magazine. The Congolese collective made their live, Stateside debut with a tour stop here in NYC, as well as an NPR Tiny Desk Concert, which helped them gain a following here in the States.  

Building upon their rapidly growing profile, the Kinshasa-based collective start off their 2020 with the latest single off their critically applauded full-length debut, the percussive “Zala Mayele.” Centered around layers of thumping polyrhythm, a propulsive bass line, a looping sample of a gorgeous string section and distorted vocals, the track may arguably be the most brooding and atmospheric tracks on the entire album — while still being remarkably dance floor friendly. 

“‘Zala Mayele’s lyrics are about the dangers in Kinshasa’s streets (thieves, sorcerers, gangs, and more) and the importance of distinguishing what is what, what is hidden under what shape, in disguise and around the corner, in the shadows.” The cinematically shot video for “Zala Mayele” follows a young boy — Issa — as he wanders the streets of his hometown on his own. During his journey, he encounters and is threatened by a variety of dangers booth real and imagined that blind, titillate and confuse him. These dangers “little by little, he will be able to notice and take control with a trip on the other side of the mirror,” the band says in press notes. 

New Video: Moaning Releases a Psychedelic, ’80s Inspired, Valentine’s Day Themed, Animated Visual for “Fall In Love”

A couple of years ago, I managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based indie rock/post punk trio Moaning.  The members of the band —  Sean Solomon (vocals, guitar), Pascal Stevenson (keys, bass) and Andrew MacKelvie (drums) — have been friends and collaborators in Los Angeles’ DIY scene for the better part of a decade through music and other creative pursuits in different media — Solomon is also a noted illustrator, art director and animator while Stevenson and MacKelvie have played in or produced and engineered acclaimed and rapidly rising acts like Cherry Glazerr, Sasami and Surf Curse.

Now, as you may recall, with the release of 2018’s self-titled, full-length debut, the members of Moaning received attention from a number of nationally and internationally known media outlets including  The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine,Stereogum, and others for a moody and angular post-punk sound that seemed to recall Joy Division, Interpol and Preoccupations. Slated for a March 20, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, the Los Angeles-based trio’s highly-anticipated Alex Newport-produced and engineered sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is a much more collaborative effort than its predecessor, an effort that finds the band actively brightening the claustrophobic and uneasy sound that won them attention by trading guitars for synths and beats. 

Thematically, the album focuses on the everyday anxieties of being a somewhat functioning human in the madness of our current century — with the material touching upon the personal and universal. “We’ve known each other forever and we’re really comfortable trying to express where we’re at. A lot of bands aren’t so close,” the band’s Andrew MacKelvie says in press notes. Sean Solomon, who celebrated a year of sobriety during the Uneasy Laughter sessions adds “Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they’re wrong. But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I’ve made.”

Last month, I wrote about Uneasy Laughter’s first single, the brooding “Ego.” Centered around shimmering synth, a soaring hook and a blistering guitar solo, the song found the band’s sound boldly and confidently moving in the direction of early 80s New Order. Thematically speaking, the song’s narrator desperately takes stock of himself and his relationships to others with a brutally unflinching honesty. The album’s second and latest single “Fall In Love” is centered around propulsive and forceful drumming, shimmering synth arpeggios, Solomon’s ironically detached vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Flock of Seagulls, the aforementioned New Order and others, the track is a skeptical — if not overtly cynical — take on love and romantic relationships, while featuring a narrator, who has a distorted and self-loathing view of themselves. 

“People my age are skeptical of love because we see how many previous generations got divorced or went through painful experiences,” the band’s Sean Solomon says in press notes. “The song is about being afraid to fall in love because of expecting heartbreak. it’s about hating yourself too much to open yourself up to someone else. It’s a bummer of a song lyrically, but it’s pretty fun to dance to!”

Directed by the band’s Sean Solomon with additional animation by Sarah Schmidt, the recently released video is a psychedelic and fever dream-like depiction of a romance between two young people that seems doomed to fail. “I made the music video in my bedroom a couple of weeks ago,” Solomon recalls in press notes. “It’s a psychedelic depiction of an imaginary romance. It’s inspired by early experimental animations like Belladonna of Sadness and Heavy Metal. Both the song and the video are perfect for everyone feeling like shit this Valentine’s Day.” 

New Video: Moaning Release’s a Surreal and Uneasy Visual for “Ego”

Back in 2018, I spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based indie rock/post punk trio Moaning.  Comprised of Sean Solomon (vocals, guitar), Pascal Stevenson (keys, bass) and Andrew MacKelvie (drums), the members of Moaning have been friends and collaborators in Los Angeles’ DIY scene for the better part of a decade through music and other creative pursuits in different media — Solomon is also a noted illustrator, art director and animator while Stevenson and MacKelvie have played in or produced and engineered acclaimed and rapidly rising acts like Cherry Glazerr, Sasami and Surf Curse.

With the release of 2018’s self-titled full-length debut, the Los Angeles-based trio received attention from a number of nationally and internationally known media outlets including  The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine,Stereogum, and others for a moody and angular post-punk sound that seemed to recall Joy Division, Interpol and Preoccupations. Building upon the success of their self-titled debut, the trio’s long-awaited sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is slated for a March 20. 2020 release through Sub Pop Records. Interestingly, Moaning’s Alex Newport-produced and engineered sophomore album is a more collaborative effort that finds the members of the band brightening the claustrophobic and uneasy sound that first won them attention — mainly through trading guitars for synths and beats. Thematically, the album focuses on the everyday anxieties of being a somewhat function human in the madness that’s this current century — with the material touching upon the personal and universal. “We’ve known each other forever and we’re really comfortable trying to express where we’re at. A lot of bands aren’t so close,” the band’s Andrew MacKelvie says in press notes. Sean Solomon, who celebrated a year of sobriety during the Uneasy Laughter sessions adds “Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they’re wrong. But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I’ve made.” 

Uneasy Laughter’s first single, the brooding “Ego” will further cement the trio’s long-held reputation for crafting moody material — and while featuring guitars during a blistering solo, the song is primarily centered around shimmering synths and a soaring hook. Although “Ego” finds the band’s sound boldly moving in the direction of say, 80s New Order, the song thematically finds its narrator desperately taking stock of himself and his relationships to others with an unflinching honesty. Interestingly, the initial demo was slower and was written in what the band’s Stevenson calls “a strange time signature,” which at the time stymied Solomon’s attempt to write vocal melodies. Borrowing a MacKelvie drumbeat from a demo of a different song, Stevenson found that it fit his original song perfectly. The track was fleshed out further in practices and through passing demos back and forth, with the result “perfectly capturing every idea we wanted to play with,” says MacKelvie. “I don’t think we would have been able to approach writing a song that way before,” adds Stevenson. “We purposely avoided the impulse to add guitars to everything, letting the melodies of the synth and vocals be the focus. We wanted to embrace the songs ability to slip between genre lines.

“The lyrics are about letting go of your own bullshit to help other people. Wanting to love yourself to love others. The ego can make you feel like you’re the greatest person in the world or the worst.” stated vocalist Sean Solomon. It makes you think your problems are abnormally different which is isolating and rarely true. The song is a reminder that listening to other perspectives is important and beneficial to both parties involved.”

Directed by Ambar Navarro, the recently released video for “Ego” features the members of the band in a variety of different costumes — but at its core, the video’s protagonist takes stock of himself, his life and how he relates to others.