Tag: U2

New Video: Danger Mouse and Black Thought Team Up for a Banger

Born Brian Burton, Danger Mouse is arguably one of the most versatile and prolific artists and producers in music right now: As an artist he’s one-half of Broken Bells and Gnarls Barkley and has recorded collaborative albums with Yeah Yeah YeahsKaren O and the late, legendary MF DOOM. As a producer, he’s worked with Adele, U2, The Black Keys, Gorillaz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Michael Kiwanuka, Parquet Courts and a lengthy list of others.

Born Tariq Trotter, Black Thought is a co-founder and frontman of The Roots. Trotter is an accomplished solo artist who has released a critically applauded album and two EPs: 2020’s Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Abel and 2018’s Streams of Thought Vol. 1 EP and Streams of Thought Vol. 2 EP. While considered by the cognoscenti as one of the dopest emcees to ever do it, Trotter has also acted in film and theater. And has producer and writing credits.

Their long-awaited joint album together Cheat Codes is slated for an August 12, 2022 release through BMG. While Cheat Codes marks Danger Mouse’s first hip-hop album since 2005’s DANGERDOOM with MF and the follow-up to Black Thoughts’ solo trilogy Streams of Thought, their collaboration can be traced back almost almost 20 years: Trotter and Burton first met back in 2005. They started working on material — but time went on, life happened, other projects and obligations came up.

Following 2004’s The Grey Album, Burton became one of the most in-demand and prolific producers of the day, helming several commercially and critically successful projects, which led to a bevy of accolades and awards. He also developed collaborations with a unique and eclectic array of artists while expanding upon and honing his own musicianship, production and writing.

During that same period of time, The Roots released some critically applauded albums and became the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon then The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Trotter released his aforementioned, critically applauded solo trilogy Streams of Thought. He collaborated with the likes of Eminem, John Legend, Pusha T., Griselda, and a list of others. He wrote, composed and starred in the widely-praised off Broadway show Black No More. And adding to a lengthy list of accomplishments, he co-produced a TV series with his Roots bandmate Questlove.

Each mistakenly thought that the other had moved on and their collaboration just died, but as it turned out neither ever stopped wanting to work together. Burton felt an instinctive pull to go back to his roots and make a timeless hip-hop album. He knew that Trotter was the only emcee capable of fulfilling that vision. Simultaneously, Trotter was seeking a space, where he could express himself musically and creatively beyond the confines and structures of his own band.

This time, Burton was a far more seasoned songwriter and producer, Trotter an even more extraordinary emcee.  So, setting aside all distractions, Burton played Trotter some new music he had had. The ideas and words quickly flowed — and the experience was liberating.

Meticulously built over a period of several years, Cheat Codes reportedly finds Burton pushing widescreen, soul-infused hip-hop soundscapes to new directions paired with Trotter’s commanding presence, incisive lyricism and dexterous wordplay. Unlike the typical producer-meets-rapper/side project, Cheat Codes is an effort between two like-minded collaborators, who raise each other’s games to new heights.

The album also features an equally acclaimed cast of guests including A$AP Rocky, Run The Jewels, MF DOOM, Michael Kiwanuka, Joey Bada$$, Russ, Raekwon, and Conway the Machine.

Cheat Codes‘ first single “No Gold Teeth” is centered around a warm and dusty old school, psychedelic soul production that to my ears is a slick synthesis of RZA, Pete Rock, and DJ Premier. The production serves as a lush bed for Black Thought’s rapid fire, lyrical deluge. This is that real hip-hop: dope emcees spitting flames over dope beats.

Directed by UNCANNY, the UK-based creative duo of George Muncey and Elliot Elder, the accompanying video is a hypnotic and mind-bending collage of machine learning-created images superimposed over Black Thought’s head.

New Video: French Duo MD ONE Releases a Moving VIsual for Rousingly Anthemic “Espérance”

MD ONE — Marc Vindret (multi-instrumentalist, production) and David Bernard (lyrics, vocalist) — is a French indie electro pop/electro rock duo, who derive their name from the names of the project’s individual members — M for Marc Vindret, D for David Bernard and ONE for the unity between the duo. The duo’s full-length debut Twelve Stars is slated for a June 11, 2021 — and the album finds them quickly establishing their sound and songwriting approach Vindret aims for simplicity and strength through chord changes while Bernard’s lyrics thematically find him reflecting on his personal quest for serenity and spirituality while reflecting on his past and present emotions, his relationship to life and love.

Twelve Stars’ three previously released singles have amassed over 800,000 views on YouTube and continuing upon that momentum, MD ONE recently released the album’s fourth and latest single, the arena rock-like anthem “Espérance.” Deriving its title from the name of an Australian fishing port named Espérance,” the song is centered around rousingly anthemic hooks, buzzing power chords, twinkling keys and four-on-the-floor, Vindret’s plaintive vocals and a relentless motorik groove that makes the song sound — to my ears, at least — like a slick synthesis of early New Order and Violator-era Depeche Mode. But thematically, the song is ardent and politically charged in a way that may remind some of early U2 — with the song’s narrator delivering a call of arms to the listener to fight inequality and unfairness — and to make the world a better place.

The recently released Kevin Adler-directed video for “Espérance” can trace its origins to MD ONEs Bernard being moved by a news report on Miracles Foundation and their mission to reunite houseless Americans with their often long-lost families and friends. At its core, the video aims to remind the viewer of the dignity of all people — and that there’s hope even in the most desperate of times.

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Born to an English father and Italian mother,  Paris-born and-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer and electronic music artist, Frank Woodbridge grew up in a passionate, musical household: at an early age, the Woodbridge family spent their evening listening to their vinyl record collection in front of their huge stereo. “My father loved The KinksThe BeatlesThe Bee Gees and Al Jarreau. My mother introduced me to Stan Getz, Carole King and the romantic refrains of the crooners that reminded her of her childhood,” Woodbridge recalls fondly in press notes. “From the age of ten, I was already deep into The CureDepeche ModeU2. My teenage neighbor had decided to perfect my musical education. And then, Bernard Lenoir on Inter, the many weekends in London . . . I was an indie kid, that was my life.”

After spending many years in rock and electro pop groups as a singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Woodbridge has spent the past few years focusing on composing for films, the web, TV, as well as  sound design for events and stage music for theater. Currently, Woodbridge works with Andre Manoukian on his daily chronicle for the Daphne Burki-hosted TV show, Je T’aime, ETC — and he wrote a comic book Inversion, which follows its composer protagonist.

2020 has been a busy year for the French artist: companies like Kenzo Parfums and Oris Watches commissioned him to compose music for web campaigns and for a series of 10 films. He also composed the soundtrack for Florie Martin and Melissa Theuriau’s documentary  Seine Saint Denis Style, which aired on French station C8 earlier this year. Woodbridge also released an album of original compositions LOLA LIFE DEATH ETC earlier this year.  

I’ve written about two of LOLA LIFE DEATH ETC’s singles so far:

  • Lola dans le bus” a melancholic and cinematic M83-like track specially composed to drive to or daydream along with, inspired by personal experience: Woodbridge ran into an ex-girlfriend he had lost contact with. He saw her on a bus and waved at her but unfortunately, she didn’t see her. And as a result, the song is punctuated with a profound sadness over a missed connection, as well as nostalgia for something you can’t ever really get back.
  • To The End” is an optimistic, motorik-groove driven track, reminiscent of  New Order and From Here to Eternity and From Here to Eternity . . . and Back-era Giorgio Moroder As Woodbridge said at the time “It is music driven with an urge, a dream for something else, a lot of energy and yet peacefulness coming from inner strength and will, I composed it thinking of movies I love, where people are at a turning point of their lives knowing it or not, and heading for their future. Although slightly melancholic, it has a positive light and effect.”

LOLA LIFE DEATH ETC‘s lats single “Je me souviens de tout,” (which translates into English as I remember it all)” is a dreamy, downtempo track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios and thumping beats paired with a a heartfelt mantra as its main lyric, a lyric that simply says ” Love, in the end, is just love.” Interestingly, the track is one of the few off the album with lyrics — and was specifically written as a way to “escape gravy and access an inner light” as Woodbridge explains in press notes.

With the release of their debut EP, 2016’s More Escher and Random Notes, the rising Helsinki, Finland-based indie act The Holy — Eetu Henrik Iivari (vocals, guitar), Pyry Peltonen (guitar), Laura Kangasniemi (bass), Mikko Maijala (drums) and Eero Jääskeläinen (drums) quickly emerged into the Nordic music scene, quickly developing a reputation for an enormous and rousingly anthemic sound that has drawn comparisons to Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel with Krautrock influences.

Initially cutting their teeth in Helsinki’s small venue circuit, the members of The Holy have taken an explosive and passionate live show to their homeland’s national festival circuit, playing sets at Flow FestivalRuisrockProvinssirock, Iloasarirock and Lost In Music among others. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the members of the Helsinki-based quintet released their full-length debut Daughter last year. The album, which thematically touched upon how the 1990s Finnish economic recession impacted this current generation of its young people was a game-charger for the band, as it the album received praise across both Finland and Europe, eventually garnering a Finnish Grammy (EMMA) Critics’ Choice nomination.

The Holy supported the album with a busy touring schedule across Sweden and the Europe that included the continent’s festival circuit with stops at Eurosonic NooderslagIceland AirwavesReeperbahn Festival, Where Is The Music, JaJaJa Music LondonBerlin, and Vienna. Additionally, while they were touring, German/French TV Arte filmed the band’s set at last year’s Flow Festival in cooperation with Finland’s YLE — and KEXP filmed their Iceland Airwaves set.

Originally scheduled for release this spring and now slated for a November 6, 2020 release through Playground Music, the rising Finnish act’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Mono Freedom is a semi-utopian sci-fi tale, inspired by Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, which explores a number of scenarios of what would happen to Earth if humans were to suddenly disappear. Set in the somewhat distant future on a dying Earth, the planet’s last humans decide to gather their things, build a rocket and travel to the nearest black hole. They know that there is probably nothing out there but it’s one of humanity’s last desperate ideas and last hopes. In the realm of this world, this is generally seen as a positive, not as an absurdly hopeless, dystopian vision.

“During our Daughter tour, I read the science book, The World Without Usby Alan Weisman, and I got inspired and sad at the same time. It seems that humans just took a leap in the evolution progress a million years ago and have been fucking things up since,” The Holy’s Eetu Henrik Iivari explains in press notes. “I started to play with an idea of a space odyssey of the last people on earth, eventually building a rocket and flying into the nearest black hole. And they just don’t make it. They are too dumb to make it. And that’s it. And after a few hundred years, Mother Earth doesn’t even remember it was once occupied by humans.

“And this eventually got me thinking about the Western way of life and the idea of freedom. How one-way, single-minded and boxed-in it is. When you wake up in a modern western city — there is almost nothing you can do that doesn’t rip somebody. It’s late modern capitalism, a jail built on the grounds of believing that you have a choice. And that you make a choice. But most of it is already aimed towards consumerism. We just like to think that we find things by ourselves, but most of it is given. And it’s just so frustrating. To do the right thing from one day to another and navigate in the middle of all this evil around us. 

[But even though the theme is not the lightest in the world, I wanted the album to mirror hope and to be empowering. A friend for people having similar thoughts.”

Earlier this year, the rising Finnish act released a double single, “No Trial In The Dark” and “Twilight Of The Idiots.” “Twilight of the Idiots” is a rousingly anthemic song that immediately brings s A Rush of Blood to the Head-era Coldplay, Peter Gabriel and The Unforgettable Fire  U2 to mind through a combination of earnest emotionality and ambitious songwriting. “No Trial In The Dark” continues in a similar vein but while being much more percussive and cinematic. “I wrote ‘Twilight Of The Idiots,’ ‘Swim,’ ‘The Rocket Song’ and ‘No Trial In The Dark’ very close to each other and we recorded those songs in the same sessions,” Iivari recalls in press notes. “After that I knew what other songs should be on this album and the narrative started to be clear. We followed that path and never turned back.” 

“I Don’t Know,'” Mono Freedom‘s third and latest single continues a run of rousingly anthemic and arena friendly material, centered around deeply earnest songwriting and breakneck yet passionate playing. While sonically, the track brings early U2 to mind — particularly Boy and October — thanks to angular, reverb-drenched guitar chords, forceful and dramatic drumming and Ivari’s plaintive vocals, the song comes from a deeply personal and lived-in place:

“This song is basically about being bipolar. At least on some level. I have no diagnosis and I might not be the right person to talk about it, ” Ivari says “but I’ve been struggling the most part of my life with heavy mania vs. depression and it has taken a huge toll on a lot of things. I have found a way to live with it and function in society nowadays, but it still takes a lot of work every day. It also gives a lot though, being in the deep end of mania is like a drug from the future and I do get a lot of things done. But it’s also super hard to keep that level and it brings you down really really low when you just can’t. 

“I learned from a silly love themed tv show that it’s good to talk about it. To give the people around you some knowledge about it and tools to work with you. So I ended up writing this song and tried to open it slowly. The tune is pretty uplifting and I wanted it to be light and kind of funny, because the last thing I want is to add a shadow of darkness and depression over the matter and keep repeating the pattern of adding shame on this kind of stuff. That it is some mystic dark depressive thing etc. It is just a thing. We all have our things.”

FRANK WOODBRIDGE · To The End

Born to an English father and Italian mother,  Paris-born and-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer and electronic music artist, Frank Woodbridge grew up in a passionate, musical household: at an early age, the Woodbridge family spent their evening listening to their vinyl record collection in front of their huge stereo. “My father loved The Kinks, The Beatles, The Bee Gees and Al Jarreau. My mother introduced me to Stan Getz, Carole King and the romantic refrains of the crooners that reminded her of her childhood,” Woodbridge recalls fondly in press notes. “From the age of ten, I was already deep into The Cure, Depeche Mode, U2. My teenage neighbor had decided to perfect my musical education. And then, Bernard Lenoir on Inter, the many weekends in London . . . I was an indie kid, that was my life.”

After spending many years in rock and electro pop groups as a singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Woodbridge has spent the past few years focusing on composing for films, the web, TV, as well as  sound design for events and stage music for theater. Currently, Woodbridge works with Andre Manoukian on his daily chronicle for the Daphne Burki-hosted TV show, Je T’aime, ETC — and he wrote a comic book Inversion, which follows its composer protagonist.

2020 has been a busy year for the French artist: a companies like Kenzo Parfums and Oris Watches commissioned him to compose music for web campaigns and for series of 10 films. He also composed the soundtrack for Florie Martin and Melissa Theuriau’s documentary  Seine Saint Denis Style, which aired on French station C8 earlier this year.  Additionally, Woodbridge’s latest album of original compositions LOLA LIFE DEATH ETC was released earlier this month.

Now, if you had been frequenting this site earlier this year, you may recall that I wrote about, the Uppermost and M83-like “Lola dans le bus,” a melancholic yet cinematic track specifically composed to drive or daydream along with that was actually inspired by personal experience: Woodbridge ran into an ex-girlfriend he had lost contact with. He saw her on the bus and waved at her but unfortunately, she didn’t see him. So as the result the song is punctuated with the sadness of a missed connection, nostalgia for old times and of unfinished business. LOLA LIFE DEATH ETC‘s latest single “To The End” is a motorik-groove driven track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios and thumping beats and a fairly optimistic air.  Sonically speaking, the track sounds like a slick synthesis of New Order and From Here to Eternity and From Here to Eternity . . . and Back-era Giorgio Moroder.

“It is music driven with an urge, a dream for something else, a lot of energy and yet peacefulness coming from inner strength and will,” Woodbridge says of his latest single. “I composed it thinking of movies I love, where people are at a turning point of their lives knowing it or not, and heading for their future. Although slightly melancholic, it has a positive light and effect.”

 

 

 

 

Rising New York-based post-punk act Bootblacks — Panther Almqvist (vocals), Alli Gorman (guitar), Barrett Hiatt (synths) and Larry Gorman (drums) — derive their name from novelist William Burroughs’ description of the dark underbelly of New York. Unsurprisingly, the band’s surroundings have deeply influenced their work both sonically and thematically. “It’s an energetic city and people have all the reasons in the world not to give you the time of day,” the band’s Panther Almqvist says in press notes. “I think our music has been shaped by that in many ways.”

In 2012, the New York-based post-punk released their Jim Sclavunos-produced debut EP Narrowed. 2016 saw the release of their full-length debut Veins, which they supported with extensive touring. Interestingly, 2017’s sophomore effort Fragments found the band expanding their sound with the material becoming more synth-based, more atmospheric and much bigger than its immediate predecessors. And as a result, Fragments received quite a bit of attention, which helped the band earn slots on a number of post-punk/New Wave/goth festivals including Cold Waves, Terminus, Absolution, Wave Gotik Treffen and A Murder of Crows — and the album landed on a lot of year-end lists.

The members of Bootblacks have played at every significant venue in the New York Metropolitan area, sharing stages with Clan of Xymox, Light Asylum, HEALTH and VOWWS. Along the way, they’ve managed to tour across North America and Europe. Of course, like countless acts across the world, the members of the rising New York-based post-punk act had plans — and hopes — for a big 2020, pre COVID-19 pandemic quarantines and lockdowns: they were handpicked to open for Modern English during their North American tour this year. Unfortunately, that tour has been postponed. But in the meantime, the band’s highly anticipated Jason Corbett-produced third album Thin Skies will be released through Artoffact Records and the album reportedly finds the band zooming forward where Fragments left off — with its nine songs meshing dance floor pulse and melodic, brooding post-punk with anthemic hooks. The album’s material also features backing vocals from ACTORS‘ Shannon Hemmett, SRSQ‘s and Them Are Us Too‘s Kennedy Ashyln.

Thin Skies continues the band’s long-held thematic concerns: the loneliness of city life. “Most of the lyrics on the album are about loneliness,” says Almqvist. “Looking back on the lyric writing process there seems to be some connective feeling of isolation and distance present in all of the songs… I’m always hoping that a listener personalizes the song, that’s why the songs never have a narrative but try to embody a feeling.”

Earlier this month, I wrote about Thin Skies‘ first single “Traveling Light,” a brooding yet dance floor friendly track with reverb-drenched guitars that recall The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree-era U2, shimmering synth arpeggios and relentless motorik groove that made the track evoke sweaty nights on the dance floor and coming across someone who captures your attention and dreams.  The album’s second and latest single, “The Jealous Star” continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor — but centered around jittery percussion, atmospheric synths and motorik pulse, meant to evoke the anxious and unsettled yearning of a confused, vagabond heart.

“I was fascinated with this tradition of the wanderer’s poem, like ‘Ozymandias,'” Bootblacks’ Panther Almqvist says in press notes. “I wanted to contribute my own version to this theme, the eternal traveler, the rolling stone. In the last couple of years I experienced that dichotomy, alone on the road, anxious at home. So ‘The Jealous Star’ is about the disorientation of travel. How it forces you to live outside of yourself and makes you appreciate the places and people you leave.”

Rising New York-based post-punk act Bootblacks — Panther Almqvist (vocals), Alli Gorman (guitar), Barrett Hiatt (synths) and Larry Gorman (drums) — derive their name from novelist William Burroughs’ description of the dark underbelly of New York. And it shouldn’t be surprising that the band’s surroundings have influenced their work both sonically and thematically. “It’s an energetic city and people have all the reasons in the world not to give you the time of day,” the band’s Panther Almqvist says in press notes. “I think our music has been shaped by that in many ways.”

In 2012, the New York-based post-punk released their Jim Sclavunos-produced debut EP Narrowed. 2016 saw the release of their full-length debut Veins, which they supported with extensive touring. Interestingly, 2017’s sophomore effort Fragments found the band expanding their sound with the material becoming more synth-based, more atmospheric and much bigger than its immediate predecessors. Fragments received quite a bit of attention, which helped the band earn slots on a number of post-punk/New Wave/goth festivals including Cold Waves, Terminus, Absolution, Wave Gotik Treffen and A Murder of Crows — and the album landed on a lot of year-end lists.

The members of Bootblacks have played at every significant venue in the New York Metropolitan area, sharing stages with Clan of Xymox, Light Asylum, HEALTH and VOWWS. And along the way, they’ve managed to tour across North America and Europe. Of course, much like countless bands across the world, the rising New York-based post-punk act had hopes for a big 2020 pre COVID-19 quarantines: they were recently handpicked to open for Modern English during their North American tour this year. Unfortunately, that tour has been postponed.

But in the meantime, the band’s highly anticipated Jason Corbett-produced third album Thin Skies will be released through Artoffact Records and the album reportedly finds the band zooming forward where Fragments left off — with its nine songs meshing dance floor pulse and melodic, brooding post-punk with anthemic hooks. The album’s material also features backing vocals from ACTORS‘ Shannon Hemmett, SRSQ‘s and Them Are Us Too‘s Kennedy Ashyln.

Unsurprisingly, the album continues the band’s long-held thematic concerns: the loneliness of city life. “Most of the lyrics on the album are about loneliness,” says Almqvist. “Looking back on the lyric writing process there seems to be some connective feeling of isolation and distance present in all of the songs… I’m always hoping that a listener personalizes the song, that’s why the songs never have a narrative but try to embody a feeling.”

Centered around reverb-drenched guitars that recall The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree-era U2, shimmering synth arpeggios, a relentless motorik groove, an enormous and Almqvist’s plaintive vocals, Thin Skies‘ first single “Traveling Light” may arguably be among the most dance floor friendly yet brooding songs Bootblacks has ever released, as it evokes sweaty nights on the dance floor, meeting some one who captures your attention and dreams — and eventually heading home alone to obsess over what you should have done.