Live footage of Steve’n’Seagulls performing “Thunderstruck” at The Knitting Factory on 9/18/19.
SadGirl is a Los Angeles-based garage rock trio who specializes in a vintage sound — and interestingly, their latest album, Water, which Suicide Squeeze Records released earlier this year, finds the trio tapping into the romantic and nostalgic spirit of their hometown while exuding an authenticity that suggests that they’ve peeked at the scuzzy underside of the manicured lawns, glitzy boulevards and relentless sunshine.
“If you want to learn about water, go to the desert,” the Los Angeles-based garage trio’s recording engineer and friend Max Garland has sagely said in press notes, and unsurprisingly that statement made a huge impact on the band’s Misha Lindes (guitar, vocals). “Here we are in Los Angeles, a desert ping-ponging between drought and El Nino. This record is just an attempt to share a very small portion of my experience growing up and living here,” Lindes says of the album. “It’s basically just about the fluidity of water and its power and importance.” And while seemingly post-apocalyptic, the album is a collection of old-school tinged pop songs, recorded with vintage recording techniques with the album being pieced together from a series of recording session over the past two years that employed a variety of tape machines in different setups — from living rooms to professional studios.
Water‘s later single is the slow-burning, Roy Orbison-like ballad “Miss Me.” And while rooted in a traditional of bittersweet and aching love songs written from the perspective of the tortured and heartbroken lover, yearning for that love interest, who has cruelly spurned them — for another or for no particular reason. But underneath that bitter sentiment is a heartbroken tell-off to that lover, to “miss me with that bullshit” before walking away from them for good with your sanity and dignity. “This song is about realizing someone close to you isn’t the person you thought you knew, and coming to terms with the fact that they may never share the same values as you,” SadGirl’s Lindes says of the song. “Getting to that point where you decide that it’s no longer worth the effort and it’s better to walk away with what’s important to you still intact.”
Directed, produced and edited by Nathan Castiel, the recently released video for “Miss Me” is a slick and stylistically shot visual that’s split between the band perfuming the song in a sparsely furnished studio and some goofy footage of people drinking “Water” branded water. “This song really hits close to the heart,” the band’s Misha Lindes say sin press notes, “so it was awesome to have so many friends involved and making cameos. It’s also the first time that we’ve ever done a non “narrative” video, so it was a totally new experience for me. We love collaborating and working with friends on projects, so getting so many homies involved was awesome. I feel like the video perfectly captures that thin corny smile that sometimes disguises someone’s true intentions.”
I’ve written quite a bit about the Southern California-based punk trio Warish over the past 18 months or so and the act, which features founding members Riley Hawk (guitar, vocals) and Bruce McDonnell (drums) formed last year when its founding duo wanted to try their hand at something a bit more distinct than what they had previous done.“We wanted to do simpler riffs and a fun live show,” Hawk explains in press notes. “A little more punk, a little bit of grunge… a little evil-ish.” Their sound reportedly draws from a variety of things — early Butthole Surfers, Scratch Acid, Incesticide-era Nirvana, Static Age-era Misfits and others, and with the release of their first two EPs, the band quickly established themselves for crafting scuzzy, mosh pit friendly rippers with an aggressively sleazy Troma Films-inspired vibe.
Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the members of Warish will be releasing their highly-anticipated full-length debut, Down In Flames through RidingEasy Records on September 13, 2019. Down In Flames’ first single “Healter Skelter” isn’t a Beatles cover. but rather the title refers to the Manson Family’s misspelled blood scrawl at the site of the group’s second murder in 1969. Centered around thunderous drumming, scuzzy power chords and howled vocals — and while clearly recalling Bleach and Incesticde-era Nirvana, the song may arguably be among the most menacing of their growing catalog of mosh pit friendly rippers.
Black Pumas are a rising Austin, TX-based soul act, comprised of Grammy-winning producer and guitarist Adrian Quesada and 27-year-old singer/songwriter Eric Burton and a cast of collaborators. Interestingly, Burton was a street performer for several years, who busked his way from Los Angeles to Austin, where he met Quesada.
In a relatively short time, the band has received praise for their live shows from Pigeons and Planes and the Austin American-Statesman, eventually winning Best New Band and Song of the Year for “Black Moon Rising” at this year’s Austin Music Awards. Building upon the rapidly growing buzz surrounding them, the act will be releasing their self-titled full-length debut through ATO Records on June 21. The album’s latest single “Colors” is old-school singer/songwriter soul centered around a gospel and blues-inspired arrangement featuring soaring organs, a looped 12 blues guitar line, a supple bass line, and twinkling Rhodes — but by far, the star of the show is Burton’s soulful vocals and incredible range, which evoke hurt, yearning and pride.
The band is making their NYC debut next Wednesday with a set at The Knitting Factory.
Andrew Carter is a Richmond, VA-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has spent the past few years writing and recording music by himself in various bedrooms and basements with his solo recording project Minor Poet. His full-length debut, 2017’s And How combined Carter’s love of carefully crafted pop with a loose, fun, off-the-cuff production that eventually received press from American Songwriter, Magnet, The Wild Honey Pie, Impose and others, while helping Carter develop a small but devoted fanbase. Naturally, this has allowed Minor Poet to grow from a labor of love into a nationally touring band.
Carter’s sophomore Minor Poet album The Good News is slated for a May 17, 2019 release through Sub Pop Records, and the album, which was recorded over the course of four days at Montrose Recording, reportedly finds Carter expanding the boundaries of the project’s sound over the course of six songs. While previous Minor Poet releases featured Carter playing all the instruments and handling production duties, the material on The Good News was written with the understanding that the Richmond, VA-born and -based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist had to reach outside himself to do justice to the songs. “I couldn’t capture the sounds I heard in my head,” Carter explains. “I wanted something that was vast and expansive but that at the same time could hit you immediately in the gut.”
Paying homage to the classic “wall of sound: techniques made famous by Brian Wilson and Phil Spector, Carter and co-producer, Adrian Olsen overdubbed layer after layer of Carter playing an array of guitars, pianos, organs, synths, and percussion, as well as Carter singing harmonies. The members of the touring band were brought in to perform the core rhythm section parts with handpicked local musicians stopping by to add crucial flourishes to the material. Interestingly, at the center of the album’s material is Carter’s vocals, singing lyrics that mix allusions to religion, mythology, art and philosophy, as each song’s narrator questions himself, his place in the world around him, what he owes to his relationships, and in turn, what he needs to ask others to stay healthy.
“Tropic of Cancer,” The Good News‘ infectious latest single is centered by layers of shimmering and tropicalia-inspired arpeggiated synth lines, shuffling guitar lines, a soaring hook and a lysergic-tinged guitar solo. And while the deliberate crafted track bears a subtle resemblance to Elvis Costello‘s early work, the song manages to be deceptively breezy as the song’s narrator describes a constant and repetitive struggle with depression, delivered with an unvarnished emotional honesty and a tongue-in-cheek awareness.
Over the almost nine year’s of this site’s history, I’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink on Seattle, WA-based emcee, synth player and producer Ishmael Butler, who’s best known as a co-founding of two, critically applauded, groundbreaking hip-hop acts — JOVM mainstays Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces. Just about a decade ago, Butler was preparing to publicly emerge from several years of near-complete creative silence, and in the summer of 2009, Shabazz Palaces quietly self-released a pair of EPs that quickly established the act’s unique sound and aesthetic: Butler’s hyper-literate verses full of complex inner and out rhyme scheme paired with psychedelic sonic textures and refracted rhythms. Initially, confidentiality was essential as Butler desperately wanted Shabazz Palaces to stand on its own strength and not on his long-held reputation, so he adopted a pseudonym for himself.
As Shabazz Palaces’ profile and network expanded, Butler recognized that he needed new monikers for his various creative pursuits and collaborations. Knife Knights, was the name that he devised for his work with the then-Seattle based engineer, producer, songwriter and film composer Erik Blood, who has also been a vital and important collaborator in the Shabazz Palaces Universe. Interestingly, Blood and Butler can trace their collaboration and their friendship back to when they were introduced to each other at a Spiritualized show in 2003 through a mutual friend, whom Butler was about to record with. As the story goes, Blood was a diehard and obsessive Digable Planets fan, and as an obsessive fan, he passed along a bootleg copy Blowout Comb for the mutual friend to have Butler sign — and Butler dutifully did so.
Over the next few years, Blood and Butler would have chance encounters and sometimes during those encounters, they’d talk about possibly working together. Several years later, when Butler finally sent Blood a few songs to mix, their creative chemistry was obvious and immediate. That shouldn’t be surprising — Blood, as a huge hip-hop fan, has a always been an obsessive music listener and fan with eclectic tastes while Butler, a lifelong hip hop fan, began listening to and absorbing shoegaze and ambient soundscapes. Interestingly, every Shabazz Palaces album has featured a Blood and Butler collaboration, a collaboration that finds the duo specifically focused on and delighting at the intersection of shoegaze, ambient electronica and hip hop, actively and restlessly pushing hip hop towards new psychedelic textures. “He [Blood] takes my ideas and clarifies and pronounces them, helps me realize them,” explains Butler in press notes. “He helps me get to the essence.”
Knife Knight’s debut effort, 2018’s 1 Time Mirage came about after almost a decade of collaboration and the development of a very rich and dear friendship, and the album finds the duo and a cast of collaborators and friends creating a unique sound that meshes soul, shoegaze, hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, noise and chaos recorded over three separate sessions, interrupted by Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets tour schedules and Blood’s recording projects. Each of those three sessions were treated as a free space for unfettered and radical exploration that resulted in album single “Low Key,” a track centered around a hazy production featuring tribal house-inspired beats and shimmering beats, over which Butler delivers his lyrics like a shamanic incantation.
I Time Mirage’s latest single “My Dreams Never Sleep” is centered round an equally hallucinogenic production featuring shimmering synths, a looping bass line, stuttering beats and dreamily delivered vocals. Interestingly, the recently released video for the new single was directed and animated by Joe Garber, and the accompanying visuals are a slow-burning, lyrical and lysergic meditation on love, longing, loss and letting go within both the mortal and spiritual planes.
Over the past few years, I’ve written a lot about JOVM Mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned Malmo, Sweden-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic producer and electronic music artist, best known for his solo electro pop/dream pop recording project Summer Heart. Now, as you may recall, the Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic producer and electronic music artist has released a batch of singles in a single-of-the-month series that he has dubbed 12 Songs of Summer. According to Alexander, the series allows him to “show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case if you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”
Just as Alexander is about to embark on a 16 date East Coast tour with New York-based electronic music artist and producer Brothertiger, the acclaimed Swedish artist released the last track of the series, the woozy and percussive “Buckle Up.” Centered around an ethereal melody, thumping beats, lush vocal harmonies and a sinuous groove, the track evokes swooning and youthful and somewhat uncertain love.
I was working with my friend Chris in his bedroom in Greenpoint, Brooklyn at that point. We had bought smoothies from Brooklyn Standard and were just fooling around” Alexander says of the song’s creation. “I’m normally a Logic Pro guy, but we started this new track in Ableton Live and called it ‘Groovie,’ wanting to make it exactly what the name suggests. I just couldn’t make it happen in Ableton but we wrote the track and bounced a rough demo of it anyway. I had it on repeat in my headphones for quite a while before I knew where I wanted to take it. I put all the stems we had recorded into Logic and started messing around with them. The track changed quite drastically and became a bit more up-tempo. The lyrics are about falling in love with someone that doesn’t fit your criteria – someone you didn’t expect to fall in love with.”
As for the tour, it begins tomorrow night at The Knitting Factory. For the rest of the dates, check them out below.
L I V E
(East Coast of America with Brothertiger)
Feb 21 Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory
Feb 22 Washington DC – Songbyrd Vinyl Lounge
Feb 23 Norfolk, VA – Charlie’s American Café
Feb 24 Greenville, SC – Radio Room
Feb 26 Atlanta, GA – 529 bar
Feb 27 New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa
Feb 28 Houston, TX – Continental Club
March 1 Austin, TX – Barracuda
March 2 Dallas, TX – RBC
March 3 Tulsa, OK – Chimera Lounge
March 5 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room
March 6 Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen
March 7 Bloomington, IN – The Bishop
March 8 Columbus, OH – Spacebar
March 9 Pittsburgh, PA – Cattivo
March 10 Philadelphia, PA – PhilaMOCA