Tag: The New York Times

New Video: Juana Molina Releases a Vibrantly Colored Animated Visual for Exuberant and Playful “Paraguaya Punk”

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the  Buenos Aires-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and actress Juana Molina. Born to renowned tango vocalist Horacio Molina and actress Chunchuna Villafane, a young Juana Molina grew up in an intensely musical home: her father taught her guitar when she was 5 and her mother introduced Molina to the family’s extensive record collection. As a result of 1976’s military coup, the Molina family fled Argentina and lived in exile in Paris for several years, and during that time, the teenaged Molina’s musical tastes were vastly expanded by regularly listening to a number of French radio stations known for programs that spun music from all over the globe. 

When Molina was in her early 20s, her and her family returned to Argentina. As a young woman, Molina was determined to be independent and pursue a musical career – and like many young people, her initial aspirations were to earn some decent money for a few hours of work a day while having enough time to write songs, record and play live shows. She had a talent for imitations and looking for a decent gig, she auditioned for a local TV program. Based on the strength of her impressions and imitations, she got hired on the spot. 

Molina quickly became one of her country’s most popular and beloved comedic actors. Within three years of that initial addition, Molina starred in her own show Juana y sus hermanas, a Carol Burnett-like show in which she had created a number of characters. The syndicated show was wildly popular in Argentina and in its neighboring countries. After about four years on the air, Molina became pregnant and the show went on hiatus. On maternity leave with a lot of free time on her hands, Molina found herself reflecting on her rapid rise to stardom. At the time, despite having a wildly popular TV show, she couldn’t help but think “this isn’t quite what I wanted to do.” So Molina quit acting to focus on her lifelong passion — being a musician. 

Her decision to quit her popular show was one that many Argentines bitterly held against for a number of years. Her full-length debut, 1996’s Rara was critically panned by journalists, who resented her career change. Fans of her TV show would show up to her live shows, expecting to see her pay homage to her TV work but instead they found they couldn’t understand this new “folk singer character” that sung strange songs without any obvious jokes. Feeling dejected by the criticism and feeling misunderstood but wanting to continue onward with music, the Buenos Aires-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. producer and actress relocated Los Angeles, where her work as much better received and began familiarizing herself with and experimenting with electronics.  

After spending time licking her metaphorical wounds and honing her songwriting and sound, Molina returned to Buenos Aries, where she wrote, recorded and produced her sophomore effort Segundo, which began a run of material that found her meshing organic arrangements with electronic production — typically layered and sampled loops of acoustic sounds with beats and synths. Interestingly, Molina’s third album, the breakthrough Tres Cosas was championed by David Byrne, Will Oldham, and others and landed on The New York Times’ Top Ten Records list. 

Halo Molina’s seventh album further cemented the Argentine artist’s long-held reparation for being a restless and mysterious master of sophisticated, experimental pop  — but her soon to be released 4 song Forfun EP is a decided and exuberant sonic left turn. Derived from a set in which Molina and her band had to improvise, when they found themselves on the stage of a major festival without all of their instruments, the material is imbued with a DIY ethos and spirit that’s indebted to punk rock and garage rock. Interestingly,  the EP’s latest single “Paraguaya Punk” reveals the underpinning fierce playfulness and grit of Molina’s work in a stripped down and forceful fashion. 

The Forfun EP is slated for release on Friday through Crammed Discs.

The recently released video for “Paraguaya Punk” features the animated and vibrantly colored, child-like line drawings of Dante Zaballa. It’s a seemingly simplistic explosion of colors and lines but it manages to capture the exuberant and mischievous air of the accompanying song. 

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New Video: Meg Myers Releases a Colorful and Childlike Visual for Her Dramatic Cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”

Born in Nashville, the acclaimed, Los Angeles-based indie pop artist Meg Myersspent her formative years in a devoted Jehovah’s Witness household, in which a young Myers dealt with strict restrictions on what she was allowed to listen to. After her parents divorced, her mother married a comic book artist, who moved the family to Ohio, where her mother and stepfather ran a cleaning business. When she was 12, her family moved to Florida, where she spent the bulk of her teen years — and during that period, Myers began singing and writing songs on keyboard, eventually teaching herself guitar. She also played bass in a band that she started with her brother, Feeling Numb.

A few days shy of her 20th birthday, Myers moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music. Living in a studio apartment with her then-boyfriend, the Nashville-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist worked as a waitress at a Hollywood coffee shop and played show whenever she could land them. Although her romantic relationship ended, Myers met Doctor Rosen Rosen, who signed her to his production company. Rosen and Myers began writing songs together, including the material that comprised her first two EPs Daughter in the Choir and Make a Shadow and her 2015 full-length debut Sorry, which featured a number of Top 15 and Top 20 alternative radio hits.

Building up on a rapidly growing profile, Myers’ sophomore album, last year’s Take Me To The Disco debuted at #5 on the Current Alternative Charts and received praise from a number of media outlets including The New York Times, the Associated Press, NPR Music, Stereogum, Billboard and a lengthy list of others.  The acclaimed Nashville-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter played an NPR Tiny Desk session earlier this year that included a fairly straightforward and intense cover of Kate Bush‘s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” that brings the song to 21st Century listeners, who may have been previously unfamiliar with one of the great, dramatic pop songs of the 80s.

“Growing up, I was never really interested in covering other artist’s music.” Meg explains, “I always wanted to write my own songs because I knew I could only sing music and lyrics that were truly authentic, from my heart (and also would have to make sense with my deep voice). Well, then I discovered Kate Bush’s ‘Running up that Hill,’ which for years has resonated with my soul like nothing ever before. What if we could experience role reversal? What would it be like living in each other’s shoes? I think we would find a lot more compassion for one another and a passion for kindness and truth. This song to me, represents an opening of our hearts and a possibility of acceptance for all. And to me, this is an important message for the world we are living in right now.​​​​​​​”

Directed by Jo Roy, the recently released animated video for Meg Myers’ cover of “Running Up That Hill” features hand-drawn artwork from 2,130 children from around the country, including many at the Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) school — a non-profit that gives underserved children an equal chance to succeed through a comprehensive array of after-school academic, arts, athletics and wellness programs. As part of their partnership with HOLA, Myers and Roy taught animation classes to elementary school students. The frames they made during the classes were then composited together and used in the video — with the result being a visual that’s brightly colored, childlike, symbolic and ethereal. “The production process for ‘Running Up That Hill’ began with a demanding green screen shoot in which Meg climbed monkey bars, hung upside down, flew using a harness and wires, and performed her first piece of choreography!” Roy says of the video’s production process. “In post, we erased all the rigging, added animation components that were moved around using visual effects (including wings), and put every frame through a photoshop filter to define the ‘coloring book’ lines. Then, the frames were printed off into individual coloring pages which were distributed to 10 schools and various organizations in Los Angeles and Canada for children to color with real crayons also provided. Finally, the colored frames were collected and re-scanned to create one colorful final video made by literally thousands of people!”

New Video: The 80s Inspired Visuals for Swooning Phil Spector-like “Can’t Help The Way I Feel”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Indianapolis, IN-based folk pop duo Lily & Madeleine, And as you may recall, the act, which consists of siblings Lily and Madeline Jurkiewicz can trace its origins to when the Jurkiewicz Sisters began singing together while attending high school, uploading home videos of various covers to YouTube. Those videos caught the attention of Bloomington, IN-based producer Paul Mahern, who invited the sisters into his studio to record what would become their debut EP, 2013’s The Weight of the Globe when their class schedule permitted. Kenny Childers (Gentleman Caller) assisted by co-writing the material off the EP with the sisters; but it was video of the sisters singing in Mahern’s studio reached the front page of news aggregator Reddit — and as a result, Sufjan Stevens signed the Jurkiewicz Sisters to his label Asthmatic Kitty Records.

Adding to a growing profile, John Mellencamp asked the Jurkiewicz Sisters to contribute guest vocals to the soundtrack of his musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. After playing some of their first sold out shows in their hometown, they made their national TV debut on CBS This Morning to promote their self-titled, full-length debut, which was released in February 2013. The album was praised from a number of major media outlets, including The New York Times, which praised the album for their extraordinary sibling vocal blend, “deep and seamless and relaxed.” Since then the Indianapolis-based sibling folk pop duo have released two more albums — 2014’s Fumes, which was released through Asthmatic Kitty and 2016’s Keep It Together, which was released through New West Records.

Now, as you may recall, the Jurkiewicz Sisters kicked off this year with the inclusion of “Just Do It” on the first Spotify New Music Friday playlist of 2019 and the track, which was co-produced by Grammy Award-winning production team Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuck, who worked on Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour pairs the Lily and Madeleine’s gorgeous and effortless harmonizing with a shimmering dance pop-like production centered around a sinuous bass line, twinkling keys, hand claps and fluttering electronics; but at its core, the song not only talks about taking chances, it talks of confidently coming of age as a woman — and demanding what you need and want from yourself and others.

Canterbury Girls, the Jurkiewicz Sisters’ the fourth full-length album is slated for a February 22, 2019 release through New West Records and interestingly, the Phil Spector-like “Can’t Help The Way I Feel” is centered by what may arguably be the tightest and funkiest groove on the entire album, with a razor sharp and infectious hook, handclaps, twinkling keys and the Jurkiewicz Sisters easygoing yet gorgeous harmonizing. At its core, the song’s narrator is proud and defiant, openly saying that while her friends may disapprove of her love interest, she simply can’t help how she feels — even if the relationship isn’t good for her. Somehow, I suspect that many of us can relate.

Directed by Horatio Baltz, the recently released video for “Can’t Help The Way I Feel” features the Jurkiewicz Sisters are swooning and lovestruck 80s teens. Owing a visual debt to John Hughes films, the video features some slick split screens and some dreamy glamor sequences.

New Audio: No Joy’s Jasamine White-Gluz and Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom Team Up for an Atmospheric and Eerie Single off Collaborative EP

Over the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Montreal, Quebec, Canada-based shogeaze duo No Joy. Interestingly, the duo, which is comprised of primary songwriter Jasamine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd can trace their origins to when White-Gluz, who was then living in Los Angeles began collaborating with the Montreal-based Lloyd via email — and their collaboration eventually lead to White-Gluz returning to Montreal, so that they could play their first show, with Husker Du’s Grant Hart. As the story goes, after that show, White and Gluz continued collaborating, playing a number of shows locally, including with Best Coast, who’s frontwoman Bethany Cosentino became an early champion of the duo.
Building upon the growing buzz surround the Montreal-based duo, White-Gluz and Lloyd signed to renowned indie label Mexican Summer, who released their debut 7 inch single “No Summer”/”No Joy,” an effort that allowed them to book their own national headlining tour with Katy Goodman’s, La Sera. The 7 inch quickly sold out, and by November 2010, the duo released their full-length debut Ghost Blonde to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, AllMusic.com, The New York Times, Brooklyn Vegan, The Guardian and others. No Joy followed that with the British release of the “Hawaii” 7 in, a release that featured a remix of “Indigo Child,” by Stereolab‘s Tim Gane, which they supported with a UK tour with  Surfer Blood, an opening spot in London for Wire, and an appearance at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival.
The  members of No Joy spent the better part of 2011 touring across North America — and it included a busy SXSW schedule, a tour with Vivian Girls, and a co-headling tour with Marnie Stern with whom they released a split single, which featured No Joy’s cover of the Shangri-La’s “He Cried.” Since then, the band has released 2012’s Negaverse EP and Wait to Pleasure, 2013’s Pastel and Pass Out EP, 2015’s More Faithful, 2016’s Drool Sucker, the first of a planned series of EPs and last year’s Creep, which was released through the band’s new label Grey Market Records.

Interestingly, this year finds No Joy’s White-Gluz collaborating with Spacemen 3’s and E.A.R.’s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Pete Kember), and although the collaborators can’t accurately remember how they met or when they met, but what they do clearly recall is that the idea of collaborating together was brought up in an email exchange back in 2015. At the time, No Joy had finishing touring to support their third album More Faithful, an album that the duo has considered one of their most difficult and demanding efforts they’ve worked on together, and White-Gluz was eager to try new ideas and do something different. “No Joy functioned as a four-piece ‘rock band’ for so long,” White-Gluz explains in press notes. “I wanted to pursue something solo where I collaborated with someone else who could help me approach my songs from a completely different angle. Pete is a legend and someone I’ve admired for a long time. Being able to work with him on this was incredible.”

Initially, the collaboration began as a bit of exploration between two friends, who admired each other’s work with each one passing songs back and and forth with White-Gluz writing and producing songs in her hometown of Montreal and Kember writing, arranging and producing in Portugal. The end result was their collaborative EP together — four tracks that reportedly walk the tightrope between electronica, trip hop and experimental noise.  As White-Gluz says in press notes, “I wrote some songs that were intended for a full band and handed them off to Pete, who helped transform them. I barely knew how to use MIDI so I was just throwing him these experiments I was working on and he fine-tuned my ideas. There are barely any guitars on this album, because I was focused on trying to find new ways to create sounds.”

Now, as you may recall, the EP’s first single “Obsession” featured a Giorgio Moroder meets Evil Heat-era Primal Scream-like production featuring shimmering and undulating club friendly synths and a mesmerizing, trance-like groove. “Slorb,” the EP’s latest single is a slow-burning and atmospheric track which features a minimalist production consisting of wobbling synths and electronics, brief bursts of guitar, and skittering beats within a highly unusual song structure — and interestingly enough, the song finds the collaborators nodding at experimental pop, ambient electronica and noise pop simultaneously. 

New Video: Introducing the Hypnotic Grooves and Visuals of Niamey, Niger’s Tal National

Currently composed of Almeida (guitar), Babaye (guitar), Tafa (guitar), Massaoudo (vocals), Souleymane (vocals), Maloumba (vocals), Seidou (vocals), Dalik (vocals), Yac Tal (bass), Essa (bass), Omar (drums), Souleymane (drums), Aboullay (drums), Sgt. Maty (drums, vocals), the Niamey, Niger-based collective Tal National features a rotating cast of collaborators that represents their homeland’s diverse array of cultures with members from their homeland’s Songhai, Fulani, Hausa and Tuareg populations. Interestingly, the collective have developed a reputation for joyous and hypnotic, West African guitar music that draws from the diverse musical cultures of Niger as their work possesses elements of highlife, Afrobeat, kora, Tuareg blues, Malian griot, Hausa rolling 12/8 rhythms and so on, as well as American psych rock delivered with virtuoso precision and unrelenting energy.

The band’s 2013 debut effort was released through FatCat Records to critical acclaim from the likes of The New York Times, The Guardian, The Independent, Mojo, Vice and The Wire, with frenetic live sessions on NPR, KEXP and WBEZ. Building upon a growing international profile, the band received praise from the likes of Pitchfork, Afropop Worldwide, The Fader, The Quietus, The Boston Globe and NPR.

Released last Friday, Tantabara, Tal National’s third album continues their ongoing collaboration with Chicago, IL-based engineer Jamie Carter on production and engineering duties, and the album which was recorded in the collective’s hometown of Niamey, Niger. Unsurprisingly, the album find the collective furthering their expressed mission of making a global audience dance to their hypnotic grooves, all while focusing on capturing the energy and vibe of their live sound to tape. Much like their counterparts, the collective have managed to create a huge sound of extremely limited resources, which frequently means that the members of the collective record in a remote, recording rid in a dusty, makeshift studio, working with minimal recording equipment and instruments on the verge of disrepair. Interestingly, the collective credits their songwriting and recording process to adding to their overall communal spirit, with opening their home up as a studio as a way for everyone within the group to be involved; in fact, Tantabara’s 8 tracks features 8 different vocalists — 7 of whom are full-time members.
 
Additionally, the album finds the collective looking back on a busy and influential period of time spent honing their live and recorded sound drawing from a number of Stateside tours, live sets at WOMAD Festival and Roskilde Festival and their legendary 5 hour plus live shows at their Niamey nightclub.
 
Tantabara’s latest single “Akokas,” much like the bulk of their work is centered around a tight danceable yet trance-like groove, some blistering and virtuoso guitar work and complex polyrhythm but at its core is much-needed celebration of diversity, acceptance and tolerance — and along with that, two larger, universal messages: that music is a powerful, unifying force and that there’s love, freedom, acceptance on the dance floor, if you let go of your preconceived notions and let the moment.
 
The recently released video for “Akokas” features wild and psychedelic visuals of the band’s members performing the song, capturing the band’s ebullient and euphoric spirit and the song’s trippy grooves.

New Video: The Dark and Sultry Visuals for K. Flay’s Anthemic “Blood in the Cut”

Born Kristine Meredith Flaherty, the Wilmette, IL-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter K. Flay emerged into the national and international scene with 2014’s Life as a Dog, an album that peaked on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart at #2 and Billboard’s Rap Albums chart at #14. She then signed with Interscope Records last year, as the first artist signed to Dan Reynolds’ Night Street Records, who released her latest effort,  the Grammy nominated album Every Where Is Some Where — receiving nods for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical with album single “Blood in the Cut” was nominated for Best Rock Song. Adding to a growing profile, Flaherty has made national televised appearances on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, TBS’ Conan, and has received praise from The New York Times and Pitchfork for material that features socio-political commentary and detailed lyrics, while reportedly being one of the most deliberate and dynamic effort to date, an effort that manages to capture the anxieties and uncertainties of today’s world. 

As for the Grammy nominated “Blood in the Cut,” the song has been a smash hit as it has amassed over 250,000 track equivalent units in the US according to Nielsen Music, spending more than 6 months on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, peaking at #4, and was certified Gold in Canada, reaching #1 on the Canadian Alternative charts. And when you heard the song, you’ll see why it’s been an attention grabbing, smash hit: the incredibly self-assured song features Flaherty’s sultry cooing over a sleek production featuring bluesy guitar chords, propulsive drumming, swirling electronics and an anthemic hook reminiscent of Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill, The Black Keys, Garbage and others, essentially balancing a careful tightrope between the blues, electronic rock and arena rock. 

JOVM mainstay Nicole Atkins is a Neptune, New Jersey-born, Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter, best known for a sound that draws influence from 50s crooner pop, 60s psych rock and psych pop, soul music and Brill Building pop; in fact, some critics have compared her sound favorably to the likes of Roy Orbison and others; in fact, Atkins has publicly cited the favorites of her parents’ record collection as being major influences on her, including The Ronettes, Johnny Cash, The Beach Boys, The SundaysHarriet Wheeler and Cass Elliot.

And as you may recall, Atkins started playing piano when she turned nine, and taught herself to play guitar at 13. By the time she was attending Belmar, NJ’s St. Rose High School, she was playing in pick-up bands and playing gigs at local coffeehouses. Upon graduating from high school, Atkins attended the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, where she studied illustration and ingrained herself within the city’s independent music scene. While in Charlotte, she began writing original songs and befriending a number of local musicians; at one point, she was a member of a local supergroup Nitehawk that, at one point had close to 30 members. She also joined Los Parasols and released an EP with them, The Summer of Love in 2002; however, later that year, she moved to Brooklyn, where she began to be influenced by the Rainbow Quartz Records roster, and began writing songs more along the lines of Wilco and Roy Orbison.

By early 2005, Atkins ran into keyboardist Dan Chen, who she had known from her days playing at The Sidewalk Cafe. And as the story goes, Chen approached her about forming a new band, a band which eventually became Nicole Atkins and The Sea. During a residency at Piano’s, the band won the attention of music industry attorney Gillian Bar and Atkins along with her backing band quickly found themselves in a bidding war between several record labels before signing with Columbia Records in early 2006. At the end of that year, Atkins and her backing band went to Sweden — Varispeed Studios in Kalegrup, Sweden and Gula Studion in Malmo — to record their Tore Johansson-produced debut effort Neptune City, which was released in October 2007 to accommodate re-mastering of the album. The album was a critical and commercial success, debuting at number 20 on Billboard‘s Top Heatseekers Chart and reached number 6 on the Heatseekers Middle Atlantic Chart.

2011 saw the release of her critically applauded, Phil Palazzolo-produced sophomore effort Mondo Amore. Recorded at Brooklyn’s Seaside Lounge Studio, Atkins’ new backing band The Black Sea featured Irina Yalkowsky (guitar), Mike Graham (drums) and Jermey Kay (bass). Atkins and her backing band played that year’s SXSW and were named by Spin Magazine as “the best live band of the festival,” and Mondo Amore received attention from the The New York Times and Rolling Stone.

During the winter of 2012 Atkins returned to Malmo, Sweden to record her third full-length effort Slow Phaser with Tore Johansson. Released in February 2014 to critical applause, the album landed at number 143 on the Billboard 200 based on the strength of singles “Girl You Look Amazing” and “Who Killed the Moonlight?” Adding to a big 2014 Atkins appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, where she performed a new rendition of “War Torn” off her Live from the Masonic Temple, Detroit album, an album which was recorded while she toured as the opener for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Recoded at Fort Worth, TX‘s Niles City Sound, with a production team featuring Austin Jenkins, Josh Block and Chris Vivion and mixed by the Alabama Shakes‘ Ben Tanner, Atkins’ fourth album Goodnight Rhonda Lee marks two different but important occasions in the renowned singer/songwriter’s career — it’s her first album in three years, and more important, it marks a sonic departure from her previously released work. As I mentioned earlier, Goodnight Rhonda Lee‘s first single “A Little Crazy,” a collaboration with Chris Issak was a delicate and soulful ballad that clearly nods to some of Atkins’ earliest influences — in particular, Roy Orbison with a hint of Patsy Cline. However, “Darkness Falls So Quiet,” the album’s second single was a stomping and soulful track that nodded at  Dusty Springfield — and much like Springfield’s legendary work, Atkins’  vocals, which manage to simultaneously express swaggering self-assuredness and aching loneliness are paired with a warm and soulful arrangement that features a gorgeous string section, twinkling keys and a Daptone Records-like horn section. Interestingly, the album’s third and latest single “Sleepwalking” continues the soulful vein of its predecessor; however, with a shuffling arrangement featuring guitar, bass, twinkling keys and bold blasts of horn the song manages to nod at early Motown Records — to my ear, I thought of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, and even Charles Bradley. 

Atkins will be touring throughout the summer and fall to support the new album, slated for release in a few weeks. The tour will include a September 9, 2017 stop at Mercury Lounge. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.
Tour Dates:

7/20 – Lexington, KY – The Burl
7/21 – Florence, AL – WC Handy Festival
7/23 – Nashville, TN – 3rd and Lindsley
7/25 – Annapolis, MD – Rams Head on Stage w/Robert Ellis
7/26 – Fairfield, CT – Stage One
7/29 – Freehold, NJ – Monmouth County Fair
7/30 – Newport, RI – Newport Folk Festival w/Steelism and Ruby Amanfu
8/7 – Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark
8/8 – Chicago, IL – Space
8/10 – Davenport, IA – The Raccoon Motel
8/11 – Iowa City, IA – The Mill
8/12 – Minneapolis, MN – Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
8/18 – Asheville, NC – Altamont Theatre
8/19 – Athens, GA – Wildwood Revival 2017
8/26 – Arlington, VA – Lockn’ Festival
9/8 – Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle
9/9 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
9/10 – Asbury Park, NJ – Shadow of the City Festival @ Stony Pony Summer Stage – Shadow of the City Festival