Tag: The Guardian

New Video: Introducing the Moody Joy Division-like Synth Pop of Turkey’s Jakuzi

Istanbul, Turkey-based synth-wave duo Jakuzi, which is comprised of Kutay Soyocak and Taner Yücel can trace its origins to when Soyocak and Yücel started the act in 2015 as a way for them to move away from their previous punk rock-leaning projects. When they released their debut cassette in 2016 Fantezi Muzik  no one seriously expected it to leave their immediate circle of friends and associates; however, the tape caught the attention of City Slang Records, who re-released the debut with new tracks the following year — and the album began to receive praise from internationally recognized media outlets, including The Quietus and The Guardian, and the band played sold-out shows with their musical idol John Maus. 

Fantezi Muzik’s material found the band going against the grain of what’s  expected from a male-fronted Turkish act. While most male-fronted acts from the duo’s homeland aren’t typically known for being introspective, Soyocak and Yücel’s work, which has been centered by a gothic sensibility, addressed the personal and psychological issues they were facing. 

Ironically, despite achieving the sort of success that most indie bands would probably kill for, the duo found themselves dealing with a number of challenging issues. Being musicians in their homeland is extremely challenging economically and personally  — and because their songs are written and sung entirely in their native Turkish, the language that Soyocak feels he can best express himself, the opportunities are limited. Currently, there aren’t playlists for Turkish DYI dream pop/dark wave/synth wave acts, their songs aren’t played on traditional radio shows and there isn’t a mass market for attending punk rock shows.  And although they’ve been frustrated and even demoralized, they have refused to give in; in fact, their long-awaited and forthcoming sophomore album Hata Payi (which literally translates as “part of the mistake”) reportedly finds the band delving deeper and making further explorations into the feelings and thoughts they touched upon in their debut — namely, what it’s like to be a young adult in Istanbul, having success and then having to live up to expectations, being an artist in a country that doesn’t quite get or support your work, managing personal relationships as you get older and mental health; but with a refined, darker sound. “I think my melancholy comes partly from where I live,” the band’s Kutay Soyocak says in press notes. “This can be seen in the lyrics. I sometimes feel dark, lost and lonely as everyone. Here, the economy and politics make me feel hopeless sometimes. The future seems blurry but we try to keep our hopes high and continuing what we do. The audience is getting bigger every day and they support us and it is just pure love in our gigs.’’

Interestingly, “Toz,” the second and latest single off Hata Payi immediately brings Joy Division to mind, as the song is centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, stuttering beats, an angular and propulsive bass line, a big hook and Kutay Soyocak’s sonorous yet achingly sad baritone — and although the lyrics are completely in his native Turkish, the song evokes a loneliness that is deeply universal. 

Directed by Eli Kasavi, the recently released video for “Toz” stars a brooding and lonely Kutay Soyocak dancing alone in a room with flickering spotlight. As Kasavi explains in press notes. “It’s connected to the band’s previous video “Şüphe” where the main character watched a dancing couple with a feeling of doubt. That character has left that place now and is dancing by himself.”

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Comprised of duo Mickey and Jesse Pangburn, the Phoenix-based indie electro pop duo MRCH can trace their origins to when the duo met while studying in Prescott, AZ — and as the story, the duo approached a sparsely populated jazz focus from radically different tracks: Jesse came from a technical background and was a fan of the the dense sonic textures of prog rock and metal while Mickey married complex jazz theory with a deep knowledge of 80s TV and pop culture. Initially, the duo, who spent years in the Phoenix rock scene, built up a strong local profile and over he course of a few years, started to receive national attention with praise from major media outlets including CMJThe Guardian and Consequence of Sound, as well as placements on TV series like ShamelessVampire Diaries and Search Party among others.

2017’s full-length effort Reactions touched upon themes of life changes, love and the loss of innocence and found the duo pushing their sound towards much more brooding territory with lead single “My Mistake” being featured on 13 Reasons Why. As Mickey Pangburn explains in press notes, “Last year and 2017 were so hard, personally. Family health issues and things that I thought I would be older for when they happened . . . All of this amidst the political climate we are in. Circumstances haven’t changed, but our outlook has. I feel more optimistic than I have in a long time. These songs are coming from a fun lace — not in a poppy, light way, but in a brighter view of the light guiding our writing processes.”

Centered by shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, ethereal vocals, thumping polyrhythm and a soaring hook, the Phoenix duo’s latest single “Some Days” is a hopeful song; the sort of song that reflects narrators, who finally see a sunny day after some painful and dark days — and are actively trying to look forward towards the future. As Mickey Pangburn explains the song “is [a] step into the light. A reigning of some sense of anticipation.  A warm look back on where all our dreams came from and an honest, hopeful look forward. It could be interpreted as an airy love song . . . but it’s really about any deep love we have (be it [a] person, or as in our case — an idea).”

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Milagres Returns with Gorgeous and Plaintive “Are You Lonely”

With the release of 2014’s Violent Light, the Brooklyn-based indie band Milagres developed a reputation as a hard-working, up-and-coming act that had released work that had been critically praised by NPR, The Guardian, and the BBC, and had opened for the likes of Low and others. Shortly after playing a sold-out headlining show at Bowery Ballroom, a major career goal for the members of the band, the upward trajectory of the band stalled as their personal lives caught up with them. Two members of the band left to pursue outside creative endeavors, and around the same time the band’s founding member and primary songwriter Kyle Wilson was diagnosed with a rare skull base tumor, which revealed the cause of the slow onset of one-sided deafness he’d already been experiencing since the band’s inception. Unsure whether his tumor would threaten incapacitation or worse, Wilson’s writing slowed to a crawl. His health and the future of the band were uncertain at best. 

A difficult year passed and after being treated with Gamma Knife Surgery, a high-tech and relatively new radiation therapy, Wilson’s prognosis seemed a bit more clear — permanent one-sided deafness. So understandably, when he and his longtime bandmate and producer, Fraser McCulloch stumbled into a musty choir loft in a cavernous Brooklyn church, Wilson began celebrating a newfound appreciation for life by working on new music. Next to massive, dilated stained glass murals of gods, the duo immediately set to work — but with a radically different creative process. In the past where one had written and the other produced, they found their roles opening up and overlapped, inspiring a deeper collaboration between the two. 

Released earlier this year, through their long-time label home Kill Rock Stars, the duo’s third full-length album Ziggurat marks not just their album as a duo, it’s an evolution in their sound and approach, as the material is much brighter, more direct and focused on exploring present reality than the dark, surrealistic Violent Light. Although, if there’s one thing that’s consistent throughout their growing catalog is that they’ve long focused on melody, craft and razor sharp hooks; however, Ziggurat finds Wilson and McCulloch focusing on a pop-leaning accessibility.  Thematically, the album’s material focuses on the attempt to connect with others, who feel lost in what may arguably be one of the loneliest eras of human civilization.  

The album’s first single, the somewhat more up-tempo “Are You Lonely” manages to sound like a sunnier amalgamation of Glowing Mouth and Violent Light to me, as it’s centered around Wilson’s plaintive and yearning vocals, soaring synths,  a propulsive rhythm section and an infectious hook. There’s brief bursts of twinkling piano keys, and a buzzing, power chord-based guitar solo as well. But at the core of the song is a common desire that many of us have felt at some point, a desire to find and connect with someone who’s loneliness is the same as ours. 

Directed and edited by Grant Slater, the recently released, black and white video for “Are You Lonely” was shot at Rockaway Beach, Queens and stars the band’s Wilson and McCulloch, along with Shirel Kozak, Chris Frierson, Stanley Kozak manages to evoke the song’s cinematic nature while following a series of lonely people as they walk along the beach in their own thoughts. At times, the video which was shot at point using a drone, makes the individual drama and people seem very small yet universal. 

New Video: Follow British Actor Jeremy Irvine Dancing Through London for Friendly Fires Rapturous “Heaven Let Me In”

Comprised of Ed McFarlane, Jack Savidge and Edd Gibson, the St. Albans, Hertfordshire, UK-based electronic music act Friendly Fires can trace their origins back to when they met while attending St. Albans School. When they were all 13, the trio formed their first band, a post-hardcore act First Day Back, which covered Green Day and other rock acts.  First Day Back lasted until the trio attended university — and during that time Ed Macfarlane released music under his own name through Skam and Precinct Recordings. 

Upon graduation Macfarlane, Savidge and Gibson formed Friendly Fires, their critically applauded electronic music act which derives its name from the opening track of Section 25’s Always Now. Sonically, the trio has cited the German techno label Kompakt, Carl Craig and Prince as major influences on a sound that draws from dance music, lush, shoegaze melodies and classic pop songwriting. 

2007 was their breakthrough year, as “Paris” was named Single of the Week in The Guardian, received praise from NME and airplay on Zane Lowe’s BBC Radio 1 show — and they were the first unsigned act to appear on Channel 4’s Transmission.  Building upon a growing profile in their native England, the trio released their full-length, self-titled debut in 2008, an effort which featured album singles “On Board,” Jump in the Pool,” “Skeleton Boy,” and the aforementioned “Paris.” Their debut was a critical and commercial success. The album was certified double gold in the UK — and the trio was nominated for a Best Breakthrough Award at The South Bank Show Awards and for Best Dancefloor Filler at the NME Awards.  

Early 2009 saw the band touring on the Shockwaves NME Awards Tour with Glasvegas, White Lies, and Florence and the Machine. March of that year, Friendly Fires co-headlined with White Lies on the Stateside equivalent of the Shockwaves NME Awards tour, called NME Presents with The Soft Pack opening. Since then, the act has been nominated for a Mercury Music Prize, and two Brit Awards — one for Best British Group and British Breakthrough Act. 

In 2010, the duo released a split 12 inch single with Holy Ghost! in which they covered a single by the other, and included instrumental versions of both songs. They also contributed a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Strangelove” to the Frank Miller-directed commercial for Gucci’s Guilty. They ended the year with a compilation with London-based club promoters Bugged Out! called Bugged Out Presents Suck My Deck, which featured remixes of songs by The Phenomenal Handclap Band and Lindstrom and Christabelle handpicked by the trio and “Stay Here,” a collaboration between the members of Friendly Fires and Azari & III. 

2011 saw the release of their sophomore album Pala, which featured album singles “Live Those Days Tonight” and “Hawaiian Air.” It was arguably, their most pop-leaning effort; however, by the following year, the members of Friendly Fire had been working with producer Andrew Weatherall on some forward-thinking and psychedelic-leaning material. However, since then the trio have been on a lengthy hiatus that has found McFarlane and Gibson collaborating with The Advisory Circle’s Jon Brooks in a project called The Pattern Forms, which released their debut effort, 2016’s Peel Away the Ivy. 

Earlier this year, the trio released “Love Like Waves,” their first bit of new material since 2012. “Heaven Let Me In,” the acclaimed trio’s second single of this year, is a club-banger centered around a euphoric and chopped vocal loop and arpeggiated synths — and while nodding a bit at Daft Punk and Stardust’s classic “Music Feels Better With You,” the song which was co-produced with Disclosure evokes the ecstasy of dancing under strobe-lights and thunderous bass until the next morning. 

Directed by Bison, who has directed videos by Bonobo, London Grammar and Jon Hopkins, the video stars renowned British actor Jeremy Irvine, known for his roles in War Horse and Mama Mia dancing through the streets and landmarks of London’s Docklands, looking as though he just came out from the club — and wants the party to continue. 

 

Now, over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about Copenhagen, Denmark-based electro pop duo and JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, and the act, which features Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Caspar Hesselager can trace its origins to Coleman and Hesselager’s mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work in a number of different projects — and naturally, the duo were encouraged to collaborate together. 2015 saw the release of their debut single, but 2016 the duo saw critical praise from The Guardian, NME, The Line of Best Fit, and airplay from KCRWKEXPNorway’s P3, Denmark’s P6, as well as by BBC Radio personalities Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft with the release of the Medication EP and their full-length debut Waiting for the World to Turn.  Adding to a growing international profile, Coleman and Hesselager have a Hype Machine #1 single under their belts, have opened for Noel Gallagher, and have made appearances across the European festival circuit, including sets at Guy Garvey’s curated Meltdown FestivalRoskilde FestivalGreen Man FestivalSziget FestivalLatitude Festival and Secret Garden Party among others.

Nowadays, the Australian-Danish duo’s sophomore album was released earlier this year and from album singles “Empire,”  “Come Back (Left Behind),” “Baltimore,” and “Take Shelter,” their sophomore album reveals an act that has managed to expand upon their sound and songwriting approach in a subtle yet decided fashion as the material is centered around Coleman and Hasselager’s penchant for pairing at times breezy, melodic and downright radio friendly pop with dark and sobering thematic concerns — with Nowadays, their material focuses on the inevitable loss of innocence as one truly becomes an adult; the recognition of the fear, freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their life and destiny; the tough and sometimes embittering life lessons that get thrown in your way; as well as the inconsolable grief and confusion of loss. Interestingly, the Australian-Danish duo’s latest single “Acting Like Lovers” may arguably be one of the upbeat songs on the album as its centered by a production that manages to be simultaneously cinematic and intimate as it features strummed acoustic guitar, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a motorik-like groove and their uncanny ability to craft breezy, 70s AM rock-like melodies. The song hints at a sense of closure — but with the subtle recognition that in life there is no such thing as closure, that life inevitably shoves you forward while you make every attempt to pick up the pieces and have some semblance of normalcy.

The single features two covers — the duo’s breezy, Junip-like take on Elliott Smith’s “Christian Brothers,” that feels like a subtle departure from the original, and one of my favorite songs by The Cars, “Drive,'” which manages to maintain the song’s moody and contemplative air. As the duo’s Caspar Hesselager explains, Elliott is someone who has influenced both me and Carl profoundly, and for me personally (growing up mostly with classical music and jazz) he became the guy that got me into listening to songwriters. We’ve often jammed his songs in the studio for fun and our cover of his song ‘Christian Brothers’ has been a favourite encore of ours on many shows. It’s from his second album ‘Elliott Smith’ which along with the debut album is him at his most lo-fi and raw. It’s almost ‘anti-produced’ but as always you can’t keep those songs from burning right through all of that.” The duo’s Carl Coleman elaborates on their cover of The Cars’ “Drive,” “This was a song that always followed me around growing up in the 80s and 90s. I’m a sucker for sad pop songs. I’ve just always been attracted to melancholy stuff and this song has it all. All that drama and mystery plus a beautiful simple melody. Hell, we couldn’t help but have a crack at it.”

 

 

 

Live Footage: Moaning Performs “Artificial” at Tapetown Studios

Over the better part of this year, I’ve written a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based trio Moaning, and as you may recall, the band which is comprised of Sean Solomon, Pascal Stevenson and Andrew MacKelvie have spent the past few years crafting a moody and angular sound that draws from shoegaze, slacker rock and post-punk — and as a result, the Southern Californian trio has received attention both nationally and internationally from the likes of The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine, Stereogum, and others.

Moaning’s self-titled, full-length debut was released earlier this year through Sub Pop Records, and the album’s fourth single “Artificial” is centered around angular guitar and bass chords, thundering drumming and an anthemic hook — and while recalling Joy Division, Interpol, Preoccupations and others; but just under the surface, the song bristles with a tense an uneasy self-awareness of the narrator’s own artifice, superficiality and ugliness, as well as that of the larger world he lives in. 
Interestingly, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the 18 months or so, you’d also recall that Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio Tapetown Studios and Sound of Aarhus have been inviting national. regional and even internationally recognized touring bands to come into their studios for a live session, which they film and release through the interwebs. And during that time, they’ve invited British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek, Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey, the Bay Area-based JOVM mainstay Tim Cohen and his primary project The Fresh & Onlys, renowned British psych rockers The Telescopes,  Malmo, Sweden-based punk rock act Sista Bossen, Copenhagen, Denmark-based indie rock quartet ONBC and a growing list of others. The members of Moaning had stopped by Tapetown Studios during their second European Union tour, and performed an urgent rendition of the attention-grabbing “Artificial” as part of the Tapetown Studio sessions. Check it. 

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Palace Winter Return with an Enormous Yet Intimate Ballad on Mortality

Over the couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about Copenhagen, Denmark-based electro pop duo and JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, and the which is comprised of Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born, Copenhagen-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager can trace its origins to the Coleman and Hesselager’s mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work in a number of different projects, which eventually encouraged the duo to begin collaborating together. And while 2015 saw the release of their debut single, 2016 was a breakthrough year as their  EP Medication and their full-length debut Waiting for the World to Turn were released to critical praise from the likes of The Guardian, NME, The Line of Best Fit, and airplay from KCRW, KEXP, Norway’s P3, Denmark’s P6, as well as by BBC Radio personalities Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft. Adding to a growing profile, the duo have a Hype Machine #1 single under their belts, have opened for Noel Gallagher, and have made appearances across the European festival circuit, including sets at Guy Garvey’s curated Meltdown Festival, Roskilde Festival, Green Man Festival, Sziget Festival, Latitude Festival and Secret Garden Party among others.

Building upon a rapidly growing international profile, Coleman and Hesselager released their sophomore album together Nowadays earlier this year, and singles “Empire,”  “Come Back (Left Behind)” and “Baltimore,” the album reveals that the act has subtly expanded upon their sound and songwriting approach with Coleman and Hasselager pairing breezy, melodic and radio friendly pop with darker thematic concerns — in particular, the loss of innocence as one becomes an adult, with tough and often sobering life lessons; the recognition of the fear, the freedom and the power that comes as one takes control of their life and destiny. But along with that the material focuses on the grief of loss — after all, life is ultimately about accepting immense, inconsolable loss and somehow figuring out how to move forward, even if its fits and starts; and the confusing push and pull between love and lust and the resulting remorse, anxiety, and bitterness. 

“Take Shelter,” Nowadays’ latest single is centered by a dramatic and enormous piano riff, shimmering synths and a soaring hook — and interestingly, the song manages to accurately capture the dichotomy of intimately felt emotions and thoughts inspired by the enormity of life-altering situations; in fact, the song is a ballad about death and grief, and the emotional and mental shelters we make for ourselves as a way to cope with inconsolable loss. As the duo’s Carl Coleman says of the song  “It started with that beat and Caspar’s piano riff which felt kinda urban and like a place we hadn’t really explored yet. Then that droney vocal melody just kinda popped straight into my head. I felt the urgency immediately and knew it was a keeper. Some songs are like pulling teeth but this one was like a light-bulb moment.”

Coleman and Hasslelager, along with touring members Jacob Haubjerg (guitar) and Jens Bach Laursen (drums) went to The Village Recording to film an extensive life session of the entire band performing material off the album, and this version of “Take Shelter” is from that session — and each video has revealed that Coleman and Hasslelager have written earnest, swooning and heartfelt material that’s enormous yet intimate, and crafted in a way that brings 70s AM rock to mind.  

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Palace Winter Perform Moody Album Single “Baltimore” at The Village Recording

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the Copenhagen, Denmark-based electro pop duo and JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, and as you may recall the act, which is comprised of Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born, Copenhagen-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager can trace its origins to the individual members of the group having a mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work in a number of different projects. And as a result, the duo were encouraged to start collaborating together. 2015 saw the release of their debut single but the following year was their breakthrough year, as their debut EP Medication and their full-length debut Waiting for the World to Turn were released to critical praise from the likes of The Guardian, NME, The Line of Best Fit, and airplay from KCRW, KEXP, Norway’s P3, Denmark’s P6, as well as by BBC Radio personalities Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft. Adding to a growing profile, the duo have a Hype Machine #1, have opened for Noel Gallagher,and have made appearances across the European festival circuit, including sets at Guy Garvey’s curated Meltdown Festival, Roskilde Festival, Green Man Festival, Sziget Festival, Latitude Festival and Secret Garden Party among others.
Building upon a rapidly growing international profile, Coleman and Hesselager released their sophomore album together Nowadays last month, and album single “Empire” revealed a band that had been subtly expanding upon their sound and songwriting, as the single found the band pairing breezy, melodic, radio friendly pop with much darker thematic concerns — in particular, the loss of innocence and the tough, sobering life lessons of adulthood but also, the recognition of the freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their life. “Come Back (Left Behind)” was loosely inspiredly the major motion picture, The Witch while dealing with themes of grief and yearning. And as the band’s Carl Coleman adds, the song has the duo moving the focus away from the acoustic guitar and finds them employing the use of piano and 12 string electric — and while propulsive and danceable, the song managed to sound as though it were released in 1985. 

“Baltimore,” Nowadays’ latest single is a bit of a return to form for Coleman and Hesselager as the moody track is centered around strummed acoustic guitar, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, and propulsive rhythm section with Coleman’s plaintive vocals. Interestingly, the song delves into feelings of being suffocated by love, followed by remorse, frustration, bitterness and anxiety. 

Recently, the band along with touring members Jacob Haubjerg (guitar) and Jens Bach Laursen (drums) performed “Baltimore,” at The Village Recording, and visually, the live session further evokes the song’s moodiness and overall themes — while giving the viewer a sense of their live set. 

New Video: Moaning Releases Amorphous and Dada-esque Visuals for Slow-burning Album Single “Misheard”

Over the first couple of months of this year, I wrote about the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock trio Moaning, and as you may recall, the band comprised of Sean Solomon, Pascal Stevenson and Andrew MacKelvie have spent the past few years crafting  and refining a moody and angular post-punk sound that manages to draw influence equally from shoegaze and slacker rock. During that same period of time, the band has received attention both nationally and internationally from a number of major media outlets including The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine,Stereogum, and others.

The trio’s highly-anticipated, self-titled, full-length debut was released earlier this year through  Sub Pop Records, and album singles like the Joy Division/Interpol/Preoccupations-like “Artificial” and the moody and shimmering “Tired,” further cemented their reputation for moody post-punk with enormous, arena rock-like hooks. Unsurprisingly, the mid-tempo ballad “Misheard” continues in a similar vein, as it features angular guitar chords and enormous hooks but finds the band decidedly pushing their sound towards shoegaze and 120 Minutes MTV-era alt rock, centered around lyrics that vacillate between self-loathing, confusion and regret — all familiar emotions that are engendered in the aftermath of an equally confusing and embittering relationship.

Directed by Steve Smith, the recently released video for “Misheard” continues the band’s string of accompanying their songs with surreal visuals — this time with some amorphous, neon-colored imagery that’s like a Dada-esque nightmare.