Tag: The Guardian

Throughout this site’s nine-plus year history, I’ve written about and championed a number of acts from across Northern Africa — in particular, Mali. During that same period of time,  Mali has been split apart by a bloody civil war between several different factions. In 2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azaward (MNLA) took control of Northern Mail; but shortly after, they were pushed out of the region by Ansar Dine, a jihadist group, which quickly imposed sharia law: cigarettes, alcohol and music were banned across the region. And as a result a large number of the country’s acclaimed musicians including Songhoy Blues’ founding trio Garba Toure, Aliou Toure and Oumar Toure (no relation, but all Songhoy people) were forced to relocate south to Bamako, the country’s capital.

As the members of Songhoy Blues have said, the band was formed “. . . to recreate that lost ambience of the North, and make all the refugees relive those Northern songs.”  The band recruited Nathanael Dembélé to compete their lineup, and began playing shows across the Bamako club circuit, attracting both Songhoy and Tuareg fans.  Interestingly, by September 2013, Africa Express, a collective of American and European musicians and producers led by Damon Albarn traveled to Bamako to collaborate with local musicians. The members of Songhoy Blues successfully auditioned and were introduced to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Nick Zinner, who produced and recorded “Soubour” (which translates into English as “patience”), which appeared on that year’s African Express compilation Maison Des Jeunes. 

Following the success of “Soubour,” the band returned to the studio with Zinner and co-producer Marc-Antoine Moreau to record their 2015 full-length debut Music in Exile, which was a commercial and critical success, receiving praise from The Guardian, NME and others, and as a result the band received nominations for “Best New Act” at the Q Awards and “Independent Breakthrough Act” at the AIM Awards.  The quartet has opened for Alabama Shakes, Julian Casablancas and Damon Albarn, and have played sets at Glastonbury Festival, Bonnaroo Festival, Latitude Festival, Roskilde Festival, Green Man Festival, Byron Bay Bluesfest, WOMADelaide and The Great Escape Festival.

Building upon a growing international profile, the band’s sophomore album, 2017’s Resistance was released to critical praise, with Rolling Stone naming it one of the best albums of that year. Since then, the act has been busy touring, including a stop at Union Pool‘s Summer Thunder last year — and the writing and recording of their forthcoming EP Meet Me in the City, which is slated for an October 18, 2019 release.

The effort finds the acclaimed Malian act collaborating with Will Oldham, Matt Sweeney, Junior Kimbrough and Femi Kuti. Interestingly, the EP’s first single, the Will Oldham, Matt Sweeney and Songhoy Blues co-written “Time To Go Home” may be the most electronic-leaning they’ve released to date, it still retains some dexterous and trippy guitar work and the hypnotic grooves of the Desert Blues. And interestingly enough, it finds the band ambitiously desiring to pass the messages at the heart of their material to a much larger, international audience. (There are two different version of the track. One mixed by Grammy-nominated producer Blake Mills and one mixed by David Ferguson.)

Songhoy Blues says, “We’re really happy to introduce this new EP and our English-language debut on the song ‘Time To Go Home.’ Please enjoy it and get ready for a heavy new album coming up very soon.”

Matt Sweeney adds, “I think it’s safe to say that the brave poets of Songhoy Blues have a different idea what a ‘bad day’ is than pretty much all other rock bands. Their music and singing are powerful beyond words. Making a new song with them was a humbling honor and an unforgettable joy.”

On PBS’ American Masters, Will Oldham spoke of working with Songhoy Blyes, saying, “They are a Malian band that’s really trying to make sense of what they’ve been witnessing, what they’ve been experiencing, and create or transmit a message to people about what they’re seeing and how they’re trying to understand it and make change…And to think, well I want them to know that I’m trying to listen and trying to understand, and if I can give voice to some of what they’re experiencing, that they might be emboldened by this musical connection.”

Songhoy Blues will be embarking on a month long Stateside tour that includes two NYC area dates — September 22, 2019 at The Great Green Wall at The United Nations and October 24, 2019 at Baby’s All Right. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates

09.21 – Franklin, TN – Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival 2019
09.22 – New York, NY – United Nations | Great Green Wall
09.23 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl
09.24 – Birmingham, AL – Saturn
09.26 – Oxford, MS – Proud Larry’s
09.27 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
09.28 – Austin, TX – Antone’s
10.01 – El Prado, NM – Taos Mesa Brewing
10.04 – Los Angeles, CA – Moroccan Lounge
10.05 – Berkeley, CA – Cornerstone Berkeley
10.06 – Petaluma, CA – Mystic Theatre
10.09 – Eugene, OR – WOW Hall
10.10 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
10.11 – Seattle, WA – Columbia City Theater
10.12 – Vancouver, BC, Canada – Rickshaw Theatre
10.15 – Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre
10.17 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club
10.19 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
10.22 – Toronto, ON, Canada – Great Hall
10.24 – Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right
10.25 – Easthampton, MA – New City Brewery
10.26 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall
10.27 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall

Live Footage: Acclaimed Singer/Songwriter Dylan LeBlanc Performs “Renegade” at FAME Studios

Dylan LeBlanc is Shreveport, LA-born and based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who grew up in a very musical home. LeBlanc’s father was a country singer/songwriter. who performed in various bars and clubs across the region. At a very young age, LeBlanc acquired a unique musical education, in which he frequently spent late nights watching his father and other musicians record at the studios, where his father play as a studio musician. Naturally, the Shreveport-born and-based singer/songwriter and musician was intrigued and became a musician himself, eventually playing in his first band, an alternative rock band by the name of Jimmy Sad Eyes Blue with another local musician Daniel Goodwill. 

As the story goes, Goodwill inspired LeBlanc to begin writing his own music. After spending a few years with Jimmy Sad Eyes Blues, LeBlanc was forced to attend rehab. Following rehab, LeBlanc decided to pursue music full-time instead of returning to high school. He joined Muscle Shoals Punk Rock band, replacing its lead singer, who left the band to join Sons of Roswell — and as a member of the band, Dylan toured throughout the region. A few years later, he co-founded the band Abraham, a band that also featured Alabama Shakes’ Ben Tanner, who at the time was also the house engineer at FAME Studios. 

When LeBlanc turned 19, he left Abraham to pursue a solo career. He signed with Rough Trade Records, who released his full-length debut, 2010’s Paupers Field, which featured “If The Creek Don’t Rise,” a collaboration with Emmylou Harris. To support the album, the Shreveport-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist opened for the likes of Lucinda Harris, The Civil Wars, Laura Marling, George Ezra and Calexico. Building upon a growing profile, LeBlanc’s sophomore album 2012’s Cast the Same Old Shadow was released to critical praise, with The Guardian calling the album’s songs “as beautiful as they are bleak,” and the album itself, “eerie rather than unsettling.” That year, LeBlanc opened for Bruce Springsteen, First Aid Kit, The Drive By Truckers and Alabama Shakes. 

Dylan LeBlanc’s third full-length album, the John Paul White-produced 2016’s Cautionary Tale featured Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard and was praised by the likes of NPR and No Depression. Supporting that album, he wound up touring with the likes of Anderson East, The Wood Brothers and others. 

Interestingly, LeBlanc’s fourth album, the recently released Dave Cobb-produced Renegade finds the Shreveport-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist and his backing band attempting to write the sort of songs that matched the atmosphere that they were bringing live. “So, I started with ‘Renegade,’ which was fitting since I felt myself going in a new, more intense direction with this record. In the studio, I let go almost absolutely and let Dave Cobb do his work. It was a different experience for me-how focused Cobb was and how quickly we would get live takes down, mostly in one or two takes and never more than three. It left me spinning at how quickly it all came together. Over the course of ten days Renegade was complete and ready for mastering. And I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you.”

“Renegade” the album title track and first single off the recently released album is a shuffling and atmospheric, minor key rocker, centered around an atmospheric hook, shimmering, pedal effected guitars and LeBlanc’s lilting falsetto, and while clearly being indebted to Damn the Torpedoes-era Tom Petty, the carefully crafted reveals a novelistic attention to psychological depth, as it tells the story of two star-crossed lovers — one, who seems desperate to leave, the other, who is desperate to stay. 

Directed by Alysse Gafkjen, the recently released video was filmed at Muscle Shoals’ legendary FAME Studios. Interestingly, the live session was a sort of homecoming for LeBlanc, who who began working at the studio when he was 16 — and where he later began recording his own music. “It was surreal and brought me back to a time and place that I had almost forgotten,” LeBlanc says of the sessions. “The only place where time always seems to stand still.” 

 

Hannah Scott is an Ipswich, UK-born, London, UK-based singer/songwriter, whose work is heavily influenced by a year spent working on an olive press in rural Tuscany, Italy in her late teens.

Several years later, Scott met her collaborator, Italian-born multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Stefano Della Casa when they were both in London, but interestingly enough, they both recognized that they may have encountered each other years earlier, when she used to regularly pass through the train station that Della Casa worked in. When the duo began collaborating, they quickly recognized that they had an incredible 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 happy childhood — although as an adult, Scott was diagnosed with a form of arthritis, which causes severe joint pain and fatigue.

Both artists firmly believe that their musical collaboration has provided an outlet to support each other through difficult times, and the duo have received quite a bit of buzz over the past couple of years: they’ve been featured 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.

Last year’s  Pieces of the Night quickly established Scott as one of her country’s emerging singer/songwriters with the album pairing emotive and heartfelt songwriting with a warm and effortless production that meshed organic instrumentation — primarily acoustic guitar, cello and vocals — with atmospheric electronics. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, both Scott and her collaborator Della Casa have signed publishing deals with Ultra Music Publishing and Chelsea Music Publishing respectively.

Scott kicks off 2019 with the gorgeous, Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head-era Coldplay-like “Walk a Wire.” Centered around Scott’s plaintive vocals, a soaring hook and spectral arrangement of acoustic guitar and atmospheric electronics, the song is inspired by a friend of Scott’s, who had a disability and out of fear of rejection and heartbreak, closed herself away. And as a result, the song is a plea to the listener to take a chance and open up to life and possibility.

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

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.