Tag: Vampire Weekend

Sophie Allison is a Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded indie rock project Soccer Mommy.  Allison first picked up guitar when she was six — and as a teenager, she attended Nashville School of the Arts, where she studied guitar and played in the school’s swing band. By 2015, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began posting home-recorded songs as Soccer Mommy to Bandcamp during the summer of 2015, just as she was about head off to New York University, where she studied music business at the University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

While she was in college, Allison played her first Soccer Mommy show at Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Silent Barn. The Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist caught the attention of Fat Possum Records, who signed her to a record deal. After spending two years studying at NYU, Allison returned to Nashville to pursue a full-time career in music.

Upon her return to Nashville, the acclaimed Swiss-born artist wrote and released two Soccer Mommy albums — 2016’s For Young Hearts through Orchid Tapes and 2017’s Collection through Fat Possum Records. Her proper, full-length debut, 2018’s Clean was released to widespread critical acclaim, and as a result of a rapidly growing profile, Alison has wound up touring with Stephen Malkmus, Mitski, Kacey Musgraves, Jay Som, Slowdive, Frankie Cosmos, Liz Phair, Phoebe Bridgers, Paramore, Foster the People, Vampire Weekend, and Wilco.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was gearing up to be a massive year for the young and rising singer/songwriter and guitarist: she began the year by playing at one of Bernie Sanders’ presidential rallies and had joined a list of contemporary artists, who endorsed his presidential campaign. Allison’s highly-anticipated sophomore album color theory was released to critical applause — and building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Nashville-based artist had been gearing up for a massive year: she was about to embark one a headlining tour with a number of dates sold-out months in advance, along with that, she had lined up appearances across the global festival circuit that included a stop at Glastonbury. Additionally, she was supposed to make her late-night, nationally televised debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

With touring being on an indefinite half for the music industry, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist recognized that this was a unique opportunity to get creative and experiment with new ideas. Combining her love of video games and performing, Allison held a digital concert on the online gaming platform Club Penguin Rewritten with over 10,000 attendees, who all had to make their own penguin avatars to attend it. The concert was so popular, that her fans crashed the platform’s servers, forcing a rescheduling of the event. Allison has also performed a number of live streams events, including  NPR’s Tiny Desk At Home (which she kicked off) and Pitchfork‘s IG Live Series. And she also recently released her own Zoom background images.

Recently, Allison and company embarked on a an Bella Clark-directed 8-bit virtual, music video tour in which the band plays some of the cities she was meant to be passing through — Minneapolis, Chicago,Seattle, Toronto, and Austin. Instead of virtually playing at the more common tourist locations or a traditional music venue, the members of the band are mischievously placed in unusual locations: an abandoned Toronto area subway station, a haunted Chicago hotel, a bat-filled Austin bridge and more.performing album track “crawling in my skin.”

Continuing some wildly creative ways to maintain the momentum of her full-length debut, Allison recently launched a singles series, Soccer Mommy & Friends that sees some of her most accomplished friends and associates covering her work — and Allison covering their work. The singles series will see contributions from MGMT‘s Andrew VanWyngarden, Beabadoobee, Beach Bunny, Jay Som and a list others — with releases dropping every two weeks. The singles series first release finds the acclaimed Oakland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Melina Duterte, the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed indie rock act Jay Som covering Soccer Mommy’s “Lucy.”

Interestingly, Jay Som’s take on “lucy” turns the jangling guitar pop anthem into a shimmering and brooding track, centered around atmospheric synths, thumping beats and ethereal vocals that to my ears reminds me quite a bit of Air’s ethereal remix of Beck’s “Heaven Hammer.” “I had an extremely fun time recording the ‘lucy’ cover,” Duterte says in press notes. “Sophie has such a special way of entwining catchy melodies and sometimes dark chord progressions. I feel very lucky to be a part of this comp!”

All net profits from Bandcamp sales from the series will be donated to Oxfam‘s COVID-19 relief fun. Oxfam is working with partners to reach more than 14 million people in nearly 50 countries and the US to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 in vulnerable communities and support people’s basic food needs and livelihoods. As we’re all aware women and girls usually bear a disproportionate burden of care in a crises like COVID-19, and Oxfam has a proven record of helping women cope during and recover after these crises in ways that allow them to be safer and stronger than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Acclaimed Indie Artist Soccer Mommy Goes on a Virtual 8-Bit Tour

Sophie Allison is a Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded indie rock project Soccer Mommy.  Allison first picked up guitar when she was six — and as a teenager, she attended Nashville School of the Arts, where she studied guitar and played in the school’s swing band. By 2015, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began posting home-recorded songs as Soccer Mommy to Bandcamp during the summer of 2015, just as she was about head off to New York University, where she studied music business at the University’sSteinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. 

While she was in college, Allison played her first Soccer Mommy show at Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Silent Barn. She caught the attention of Fat Possum Records, who signed her to a record deal — and after spending two years at NYU, she returned to Nashville to pursue a full-time career in music. Upon her return to Nashville, the acclaimed Swiss-born artist wrote and released two Soccer Mommy albums — 2016’s For Young Hearts through Orchid Tapes and 2017’s Collection through Fat Possum Records. Her proper, full-length debut, 2018’s Clean was released to widespread critical acclaim, and as a result of a rapidly growing profile, Alison has wound up touring with Stephen Malkmus, Mitski, Kacey Musgraves, Jay Som, Slowdive, Frankie Cosmos, Liz Phair, Phoebe Bridgers, Paramore, Foster the People, Vampire Weekend, and Wilco.  

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was gearing up to be a massive year for the young and rising singer/songwriter and guitarist: she began the year by playing at one of Bernie Sanders’ presidential rallies and had joined a list of contemporary artists, who endorsed his presidential campaign. Allison’s highly-anticipated sophomore album color theory was released to critical applause — and building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Nashville-based artist had been gearing up for a massive year: she was about to embark one a headlining tour with a number of dates sold-out months in advance, along with that, she had lined up appearances across the global festival circuit that included a stop at Glastonbury. Additionally, she was supposed to make her late-night, nationally televised debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

With touring being on an indefinite half for the music industry, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist recognized that this was a unique opportunity to get creative and experiment with new ideas. Combining her love of video games and performing, Allison held a digital concert on the online gaming platform Club Penguin Rewritten with over 10,000 attendees, who all had to make their own penguin avatars to attend it. The concert was so popular, that her fans crashed the platform’s servers, forcing a rescheduling of the event. Allison has also performed a number of live streams events, including  NPR’s Tiny Desk At Home (which she kicked off) and Pitchfork’s IG Live Series. And she also recently released her own Zoom background images. 

Recently, Allison and company embarked on a an Bella Clark-directed 8-bit virtual, music video tour in which the band plays some of the cities she was meant to be passing through — Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Toronto, and Austin. Instead of virtually playing at the more common tourist locations or a traditional music venue, the members of the band are mischievously placed in unusual locations: an abandoned Toronto area subway station, a haunted Chicago hotel, a bat-filled Austin bridge and more. Interestingly, the video four features the virtual band playing the album’s latest single “crawling in my skin.” Centered around looping and shimmering guitars, a sinuous bass line, shuffling drumming and subtly shifting tempos, the track reveals a remarkably self-assured young songwriter, who has an unerring knack for pairing earnest songwriting with an infectious hook. (Oh, and you’ll see the band adhering to social distancing rules while virtually performing!)  

“It’s really hard having our tour be postponed because I was really excited to play all of the songs on color theory for everyone, ‘crawling in my skin’ in particular,” Allison says. “I hope this little 8-bit performance can hold everyone over until the tour can happen.”

New Video: Follow Acclaimed JOVM Mainstays Tinariwen on a Cinematically Shot Journey in the Desert

I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally acclaimed Algerian Tuareg pioneers of Desert Blues and JOVM mainstays Tinariwen over the past handful of years. And as you can recall, the act can trace its origins back to the late 1970s when the band’s founding member, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib (guitar) joined a small group of Tuareg rebels living in refugee camps in Libya and Algeria. The rebels Ag Alhabib hooked up with had been influenced by radical chaabi protest music of groups like Nass El Ghiwane and Jil Jilala, Algerian pop rai, and western artists like Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, Dire Straits, Jimi Hendrix, Boney M, and Bob Marley  — and they started writing music that meshed the traditional folk music of their people with Western rock, reggae and blues-leaning arrangements.

Despite a series of lineup changes since their formation, the act has toured regularly across the European Union, North American, Japan and Australia, playing some fo the biggest festivals of the international touring circuit — and at some of the world’s biggest clubs and music venues. But one thing has been consistent: they’ve firmly established a sound that evokes the harsh and surreal beauty of their desert homeland, centered around the poetry and wisdom of a rough and tumble, proud and rebellious people, whose old-fashioned way of life is rapidly disappearing as a result of increasingly technology and encroaching Westernization and globalization. And while 2017’s Elwan (which translates into English as “The Elephants”) thematically touches upon on the impact that Westernization and technology has had on the lives of their people, their exile from their homeland as  result of religious and ethnic infighting, the uncertain future of their homeland and their longing to be back in their homeland — with the tacit understanding that many within the band may never see their homeland ever again.

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through Anti- Records, the acclaimed JOVM mainstays’ forthcoming album Amadjar reportedly is as close as listeners can get to the proverbial soul of the band as it was recorded in a natural setting. Accompanied by their French production team, who arrived in an old camper can that has been converted into a makeshift studio, the Saharan Africa JOVM mainstays’ journey to the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott takes about 12 days or so. Every evening, the caravan stopped to set up camp and the band went to work under the stars to prepare for the recording sessions, talking through things, and letting their guitar motifs, thoughts and long buried songs come. Then, during a final two-week camp in the desert around Nouakchott, the band, joined by The Mauritanian griot  Noura Mint Seymali and her guitarist husband, Jeiche Ould Chigaly, recorded their songs under large tent in a few live takes, without headphones or effects.

Once recorded, a host of Western musicians added additional instrumentation including the Bad Seeds’ Warren Ellis, who contributed violin; Micah Nelson, the son of the legendary Willie Nelson and a member of Neil Young‘s backing band, contributed mandolin and charango; Sunn O)))‘s Stephen O’Malley contributes guitar; Cass McCombs, who contributes guitar; and Rodophe Burger.

Lyrically and thematically, the album explores the continuing political, social, humanitarian and environmental problems faced in their home country of Mali and continues Tinariwen’s pursuit to highlight the plight and issues of their people through their music. The album continues the band’s ongoing work of highlighting the plight of the Tuareg community — from the collapse of infrastructure and public services, climate change and the ongoing political and military conflicts that have plagued their homeland since it gained independence in 1960.

Interestingly, “Kel Tinariwen” Amadjar’s latest single continues in a similar path of its predecessors as its centered around shimmering and looping acoustic guitar, call and response vocals, handclaps and drums and while the addition of a sinuous electric bass line  helps to modernize the song, the song feels as though it’s an effortless synthesis of the ancient and the modern. Thematically, the song touches upon two ancient things: the treacherousness of those power mad and greedy sorts, who will sell out their people — and a triumph of the righteous over them. Cass McCombs contributes some trippy vocals towards the song’s coda and his guitar work. 

Directed by Celidja Pornon, the recently released video for “Kel Tinariwen” is a cinematic and intimate shot visual that follows the band and their crew as they travel through the desert with their makeshift recording studio. We see tons of earthy browns and oranges, eerily beautiful landscapes, enormous and seemingly endless skies, and Van Gogh-like suns. Over the course of their journey, they stop for the night, set up camp, play dominoes, joke and chat and at night, they jam and write songs — the songs that represent the struggles and concerns of their people and of their homeland. We also get glimpses of the band performing for an ecstatic group of Tuaregs, who cheer them up and record every moment. 

New Audio: Tinariwen Releases a Gorgeous and Brooding Collaboration with Warren Ellis, Noura Mint Seymali and Jeiche Ould Chighaly

I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally acclaimed Algerian Tuareg pioneers of the Desert Blues and JOVM mainstays Tinariwen over the past couple of years. And as you may recall, the act can trace its origins back to the late 1970s when the band’s founding member, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib (guitar) joined a small group of Tuareg rebels living in refugee camps in Libya and Algeria. The rebels Ag Alhabib hooked up with had been influenced by radical chaabi protest music of groups like Nass El Ghiwane and Jil Jilala, Algerian pop rai, and western artists like Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, Dire Straits, Jimi Hendrix, Boney M, and Bob Marley  — and they started writing music that meshed the traditional folk music of their people with Western rock, reggae and blues-leaning arrangements.

Upon relocating to Tamanrasset, Algeria, Ag Alhabib started a band with Alhassane Ag Touhami and brothers Inteyeden Ag Ablil and Liya Ag Ablil that had played traditional Taureg music at various weddings, parties and other occasions across both Algeria and Libya. As the story goes, when the quartet had started, they didn’t have a name; but people across the region, who had seen them play had begun calling them Kel Tinariwen, which in the Tamashek language (the tongue of the Taureg people) translates roughly as “The People of the Deserts” or “The Desert Boys.”

In 1980, Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi issued a decree inviting all young Tuareg men, who were living illegally in Libya to receive full military training, as part of his dream of forming a Saharan regiment, comprised of the best young Tuareg fighters to further his territorial ambitions in Chad, Niger, and elsewhere across Northern Africa. Al Alhabib and his bandmates answered the call and received military training. Whether or not the founding members of the band truly believed in Gaddafi’s military ambitions would be difficult to say — but on a practical level, a steady paycheck to support yourself and your family certainly is an enticement. Five years later, Ag Alhabib, Ag Touhami and the Ag Ablil brothers answered a similar call by leaders of the Libyan Tuareg movement, who desired an autonomous homeland for their people, and wound up meeting fellow musicians Keddou Ag Ossade, Mohammed Ag Itlale (a.k.a “Japonais”), Sweiloum Ag Alhousseyni, Abouhadid Ag Alhousseyni, and Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni — all who had sang and played guitar. At this point, the initial lineup was completed and the members of the collective began writing songs about the issues and concerns of their people.

Then the members of the band built a makeshift studio, vowing to to record and distribute music for free to anyone, who supplied them a blank cassette tape. Within a short period of time, the band’s cassette tapes were highly sought-after and were popularly traded throughout Saharan Africa.

In 1989 the collective had left Libya and relocated to Ag Alhabib’s birthplace of Tessalit, Mali; but by the next year, Mail’s Tuareg population revolted against the Malian government — with some members of the collective participating as rebel fighters in that conflict. After the Tamanrasset Accords were reached and agreed upon in early 1991, the members of Tinariwen, who had fought in the conflict had left the military and devoted themselves to their music full-time. In R1992, some of the members of the band went to Abidjan, Ivory Coast to record a cassette at JBZ Studios, which they followed up with extensive gigs for their fellow Tuaregs across Saharan Africa, which helped furthered the reputation they had developed primarily by word-of-mouth.

A collaboration with renowned French, world music ensemble Lo’Jo helped expand the band’s profile outside Saharan Africa. They also played a live set at Africa Oye, one of the UK’s largest African music/African Diaspora festival. Building on the increasing buzz, the band released their full-length debut The Radio Tisdas Sessions, which was their first recorded effort to be released outside of Saharan Africa. Interestingly, since their formation back in the late 70s, the collective have gone through a series of lineup changes, gradually incorporating younger generations of Tuareg musicians, many who haven’t seen the military conflicts that their elders have, including bassist Eyadou Ag Leche, percussionist Said Ag Ayad, guitarist Elaga Ag Hamid, guitarist Abdallah Ag Lamida, and vocalists Wonou Walet Sidati and the Walet Oumar sisters.

Despite their lineup changes, Tinariwen has become internationally known, as a result of regular touring across the European Union, North America, Japan and Australia, frequently playing some of the world’s biggest festivals and biggest music venues and clubs. But one thing has been consistent throughout — they’ve continued with a sound that evokes the harsh and surreal beauty of their homeland, centered around the poetry and wisdom of a rough and tumble, proud and rebellious people, whose old-fashioned way of life is rapidly disappearing as a result of technology and encroaching Westernization.

Additionally, a contentious and bloody series of infighting and wars between the various religious and ethnic groups across the region have splintered several nations throughout the region — including most recently Mali and Libya, where members of Tinariwen have proudly called home at various points of the band’s history. Unsurprisingly, the band’s last full-length effort, 2017’s Elwan (which translates into English as “The Elephants”) thematically focuses on the impact of Westernization and technology has had on their people and their way of life, their exile as a result of the religious and ethnic infighting that has destroyed their homeland, their longing for their ancestral homeland, the uncertain future of their homeland — and the tacit understanding that some of the band members may never see their homeland ever again.

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through Anti- Records, the acclaimed JOVM mainstays’ forthcoming album Amadjar, reportedly is as close as listeners can get to the proverbial soul of the band as it was recorded in a natural setting. 

Accompanied by their French production team, who arrive in an old camper can that has been converted into a makeshift studio, the Saharan Africa JOVM mainstays’ journey to the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott takes about 12 days or so. Every evening, the caravan stopped to set up camp and the band went to work under the stars to prepare for the recording sessions, talking through things, and letting their guitar motifs, thoughts and long buried songs come. Then, during a final two-week camp in the desert around Nouakchott, the band, joined by The Mauritanian griotte Noura Mint Seymali and her guitarist husband, Jeiche Ould Chigaly, recorded their songs under large tent in a few live takes, without headphones or effects.

Once recorded, a host of Western musicians added additional instrumentation including the Bad Seeds’ Warren Ellis, who contributed violin; Micah Nelson, the son of the legendary Willie Nelson and a member of Neil Young‘s backing band, contributed mandolin and charango; Sunn O)))‘s Stephen O’Malley contributes guitar; Cass McCombs, who contributes guitar; and Rodophe Burger.

Lyrically and thematically, the album explores the continuing political, social, humanitarian and environmental problems faced in their home country of Mali and continues Tinariwen’s pursuit to highlight the plight and issues of their people through their music. The album continues the band’s ongoing work of highlighting the plight of the Tuareg community — from the collapse of infrastructure and public services, climate change and the ongoing political and military conflicts that have plagued their homeland since it gained independence in 1960.

Amadjar’s latest single is a gorgeous yet brooding track centered around looping and shimmering acoustic guitar, explosive blasts of pedal effected electric guitar, handclap led-percussion and bursts of soaring violin. And much like its predecessor, “Taqkal Tarha,” the song is an effortless synthesis of something far more ancient and seemingly older than time with a subtly contemporary feel. I’ve seen a translated version of song’s incredibly poetic lyrics — and in translation, they indirectly evoke Revelations, The Upanishads and other religious texts, as it paints a picture of the end of the world. And yet, the song’s narrator finds himself confronted by the fact that he’s got his trusty camel and the endless road ahead. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Tinariwen Team Up with Micah Nelson on a a Gorgeous and Meditative New Single

Over the past couple of years of this site’s nine year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally renowned Algerian Tuareg pioneers of Desert Blues and JOVM mainstays Tinariwen. The act can trace its origins back to the late 1970s when the band’s founding member, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib (guitar) joined a small group of Tuareg rebels living in refugee camps in Libya and Algeria. The rebels Ag Alhabib hooked up with had been influenced by radical chaabi protest music of groups like Nass El Ghiwane and Jil Jilala, Algerian pop rai, and western artists like Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, Dire Straits, Jimi Hendrix, Boney M, and Bob Marley  — and they started writing music that meshed the traditional folk music of their people with Western rock, reggae and blues-leaning arrangements.

Upon relocating to Tamanrasset, Algeria, Ag Alhabib started a band with Alhassane Ag Touhami and brothers Inteyeden Ag Ablil and Liya Ag Ablil that had played traditional Taureg music at various weddings, parties and other occasions across both Algeria and Libya. As the story goes, when the quartet had started, they didn’t have a name; but people across the region, who had seen them play had begun calling them Kel Tinariwen, which in the Tamashek language (the tongue of the Taureg people) translates roughly as “The People of the Deserts” or “The Desert Boys.”

In 1980, Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi issued a decree inviting all young Tuareg men, who were living illegally in Libya to receive full military training, as part of his dream of forming a Saharan regiment, comprised of the best young Tuareg fighters to further his territorial ambitions in Chad, Niger, and elsewhere across Northern Africa. Al Alhabib and his bandmates answered the call and received military training. Whether or not the founding members of the band truly believed in Gaddafi’s military ambitions would be difficult to say — but on a practical level, a steady paycheck to support yourself and your family certainly is an enticement. Five years later, Ag Alhabib, Ag Touhami and the Ag Ablil brothers answered a similar call by leaders of the Libyan Tuareg movement, who desired an autonomous homeland for their people, and wound up meeting fellow musicians Keddou Ag Ossade, Mohammed Ag Itlale (a.k.a “Japonais”), Sweiloum Ag Alhousseyni, Abouhadid Ag Alhousseyni, and Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni — all who had sang and played guitar. At this point, the initial lineup was completed and the members of the collective began writing songs about the issues and concerns of their people.

Then the members of the band built a makeshift studio, vowing to to record and distribute music for free to anyone, who supplied them a blank cassette tape. Within a short period of time, the band’s cassette tapes were highly sought-after and were popularly traded throughout Saharan Africa. 

In 1989 the collective had left Libya and relocated to Ag Alhabib’s birthplace of Tessalit, Mali; but by the next year, Mail’s Tuareg population revolted against the Malian government — with some members of the collective participating as rebel fighters in that conflict. After the Tamanrasset Accords were reached and agreed upon in early 1991, the members of Tinariwen, who had fought in the conflict had left the military and devoted themselves to their music full-time. In R1992, some of the members of the band went to Abidjan, Ivory Coast to record a cassette at JBZ Studios, which they followed up with extensive gigs for their fellow Tuaregs across Saharan Africa, which helped furthered the reputation they had developed primarily by word-of-mouth.

A collaboration with renowned French, world music ensemble Lo’Jo helped expand the band’s profile outside Saharan Africa. They also played a live set at Africa Oye, one of the UK’s largest African music/African Diaspora festival. Building on the increasing buzz, the band released their full-length debut The Radio Tisdas Sessions, which was their first recorded effort to be released outside of Saharan Africa. Interestingly, since their formation back in the late 70s, the collective have gone through a series of lineup changes, gradually incorporating younger generations of Tuareg musicians, many who haven’t seen the military conflicts that their elders have, including bassist Eyadou Ag Leche, percussionist Said Ag Ayad, guitarist Elaga Ag Hamid, guitarist Abdallah Ag Lamida, and vocalists Wonou Walet Sidati and the Walet Oumar sisters.

Despite their lineup changes, Tinariwen has become internationally known, as a result of regular touring across the European Union, North America, Japan and Australia, frequently playing some of the world’s biggest festivals and biggest music venues and clubs. But one thing has been consistent throughout — they’ve continued with a sound that evokes the harsh and surreal beauty of their homeland, centered around the poetry and wisdom of a rough and tumble, proud and rebellious people, whose old-fashioned way of life is rapidly disappearing as a result of technology and encroaching Westernization. 

Additionally, a contentious and bloody series of infighting and wars between the various religious and ethnic groups across the region have splintered several nations throughout the region — including most recently Mali and Libya, where members of Tinariwen have proudly called home at various points of the band’s history. Unsurprisingly, the band’s last full-length effort, 2017’s Elwan (which translates into English as “The Elephants”) thematically focuses on the impact of Westernization and technology has had on their people and their way of life, their exile as a result of the religious and ethnic infighting that has destroyed their homeland, their longing for their ancestral homeland, the uncertain future of their homeland — and the tacit understanding that some of the band members may never see their homeland ever again. 

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through Anti- Records, the acclaimed JOVM mainstays’ forthcoming album Amadjar reportedly is as close as listeners can get to the proverbial soul of the band as it was recorded in a natural setting. Accompanied by their French production team, who arrive in an old camper can that has been converted into a makeshift studio, the Saharan Africa JOVM mainstays’ journey to the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott takes about 12 days or so. Every evening, the caravan stopped to set up camp and the band went to work under the stars to prepare for the recording sessions, talking through things, and letting their guitar motifs, thoughts and long buried songs come. Then, during a final two-week camp in the desert around Nouakchott, the band, joined by The Mauritanian griotte Noura Mint Seymali and her guitarist husband, Jeiche Ould Chigaly, recorded their songs under large tent in a few live takes, without headphones or effects.

Once recorded, a host of Western musicians added additional instrumentation including the Bad Seeds’ Warren Ellis, who contributed violin; Micah Nelson, the son of the legendary Willie Nelson and a member of Neil Young’s backing band, contributed mandolin and charango; Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley contributes guitar; Cass McCombs, who contributes guitar; and Rodophe Burger. 

Lyrically and thematically, the album explores the continuing political, social, humanitarian and environmental problems faced in their home country of Mali and continues Tinariwen’s pursuit to highlight the plight and issues of their people through their music. The album continues the band’s ongoing work of highlighting the plight of the Tuareg community — from the collapse of infrastructure and public services, climate change and the ongoing political and military conflicts that have plagued their homeland since it gained independence in 1960. 

Interestingly, Amadjar’s latest single is the gorgeous, acoustic track “Taqkal Tarha.” Centered around a shimmering and looping acoustic guitar line, a propulsive bass line, percussion that evokes a galloping horse and call and response vocals paired with Micah Nelson’s playing, the song manages to be an effortless synthesis of an ancient sound — one that’s older than time itself, with something far more contemporary (albeit subtly so). 

Over the past few years I’ve written a bit about acclaimed Stockholm, Sweden-based indie rock act  Honeymilk, and as you may recall the act which was formed as a quartet featuring founding members Marcus Admund (vocals) and Albin Wesley (bass), along with Nikki Nyberg (guitar) and Erik Fritz (drums), could trace their origins to the formation and breakup of an earlier band Urmas Planet, which also featured several members of the band’s initial lineup.

With the release of the Linus Larsson-produced single  “It Might Be,” the band quickly received both praise across the blogosphere and radio airplay on several radio stations including Amazing Radio and Oxford College Radio. However, after “It Might Be,” the members of Honeymilk decided to go the DIY route, recording their critically applauded full-length debut effort Lean on the Sun. After the release of their Brit Pop meets classic psych rock-like “A Scene in Between,” and subsequent releases, the band went through a massive lineup change that resulted in the band becoming a duo featuring co-founder Admund and Nyberg. As a result of the lineup change, the band experienced a radical and perhaps necessary change in sonic direction, as you’d hear on the breezy,  Vampire Weekend-like synth-based single “Time Will Kill You,” which received attention across the blogosphere and amassed over 140,000 streams on Spotify.

Admund and Nyberg released I Want You To Be Very Happy, the highly-anticipated follow up to Lean on the Sun. The album which featured album singles “The Nothing New,” “Time Will Kill You,” and “Trip” managed to receive praise from a number of major media outlets including Clash Magazine, BBC Fresh On The Net and Jajaja Music as well as airplay on Sweden’s P3, Amazing Radio, Germany’s Flux FM, Norway’s NRK P13 and Finland’s YLE Soumi.

Interestingly, the band’s latest single “It’s All In My Hands” was written and recorded during the I Want You To Be Very Happy sessions but wasn’t finished and was subsequently cut from the album. Sonically speaking, the song will further cement the Swedish act’s reputation for crafting material that effortlessly meshes psych rock and Brit pop with rousingly anthemic hooks; but with subtle elements of 70s disco. As the band mentions in press notes, the song is actually one of their first politically charged songs. “We wanted to take ourselves seriously and write about the tiresome right-wing, life-coach cliché that everything is possible just as long as you give everything,” the  members of Honeymilk say in press notes. “Basically leaving them with no other responsibility for people’s lives except cashing their cheques. To take down the cynism a bit we added some disco-feel to it. It’s recorded a couple of years ago in our former studio at Odenplan,  Stockholm, from which we got kicked out threatened to be sued for 100 000 kronor. We never got to release ‘It’s All In My Hands.’ We forgot about [it]. And now – we happened to fall in love with it again.”

 

 

 

 

With the release of recent singles “Holding On” and “Let’s Go Outside” receiving attention across the blogosphere, opening slots with Her’s, Indoor Pets, and whenyoung, and a forthcoming set this month’s Leeds Festival, the up-and-coming Leeds, UK-based trio Far Caspian, comprised of Irish-born, Leeds-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Joel Johnson, Leeds-born and-based drummer and backing vocalist Jof Cabedeo and Leeds-born and-based bassist and backing vocalist Alessio Scozarro have developed a reputation for crafting material centered around Johnson’s transition to life in a new country and the upheavals that ensue paired with their unique take on atmospheric pop, influenced by Real Estate, Grizzly Bear and Band of Horses.

“The Place” off the up-and-coming Leeds-based trio’s forthcoming debut EP slated for release this fall through Dance To The Radio is a jangling and atmospheric track, rooted to percussive and angular drumming, shimmering guitar chords and sinuous hooks — and in some way, the song sounds as though it draws from Vampire Weekend and others but with a breezier, summertime vibe. As the band says in press notes, “We wanted to have a track on the EP that was based more on intricate rhythms but instead we went for a pretty stripped back arrangement so it made sense alongside our other tracks. The song itself is about overthinking things in social situations and feeling like you aren’t contributing enough to conversation because you’re feeling awkward.”

Currently comprised of founding member Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion), Matt Geravis, Charity Rose Thielen (violin, guitar, vocals), Chris Zasche (bass), Kenny Hensley (keys) and Tyler Williams (drums), the Seattle, WA-based indie folk/indie rock act The Head and the Heart can trace their origins to a series of open mic nights at Ballard, WA-based Conor Byrne Pub back in 2009. At the time Russell, who had relocated from Richmond, VA and the band’s other founding member Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion), who had relocated from Southern California were relatively recent transplants. Russell and Johnson met Hensley, who also was a relatively recent transplant, who had relocated the previous year to pursue film score writing. Thielen, was the next member to join, and she had recently returned from a year abroad studying in Paris. Williams had been a member of Richmond, VA-based band Prabir and The Substitutes, but after Russell sent him a demo of “Down In The Valley,” Williams quickly relocated to Seattle to join the new band. The last member of the original line, Zasche was a bartender at the Conor Byrne and was member of Seattle-based bands The Maldives and Grand Hallway. Interestingly enough, as Johnson explained the band’s name came from an relatable situation in which “Your head is telling you to be stable and find a good job, you know in your heart that this [the band] is what you’re supposed to do, even if it’s crazy.”

Since their formation the band has released three full-length albums — 2010’s self-titled and initially self-released debut (which later caught the attention of Sub Pop Records, who re-issued it), 2013’s Let’s Be Still and 2016’s major label debut, Signs of Light with each record seeing greater attention and the band building a growing profile; they’ve opened for Vampire Weekend, The Walkmen, Dr. Dog, Dave Matthews, The Decemberists, Iron & Wine, My Morning Jacket, Death Cab for Cutie and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers among a lengthening list of acclaimed acts. Along with that, the band has seen quite a bit of critical and commercial success — their self-tiled debut reached #110 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 10 weeks with  Let’s Be Still landed at #10 on the Billboard 200 and each album has been well received, to boot.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the summer, you may recall that I mentioned that this year may arguably be one of the bigger years in the band’s history, as they’ve played the historic Newport Folk Festival and Coachella, and are in the middle of an extensive tour that includes stops at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, Lollapalooza and Central Park SummerStage last night.

Tonight the band is taking part in an Audience Network Concert Special, which will air at 9:00 ET/PT on DIRECTV (Channel 239) and U-verse (Channel 1114) and DIRECTV Now, and  to build up buzz for the special, as well as to celebrate what has been a successful tour so far, the band has just released a gorgeous and fairly straightforward cover of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” one of my favorite Crowded House songs, and arguably one of the best songs of the 1980s; of course, there are subtle differences — The Head and the Heart rendition has a slightly folky twang, Charity Rose Thielen sings the song’s second verse, which adds a slightly different perspective; and the organ solo at the song’s bridge is truncated by a number of measures; but considering the band’s history, covering Crowded House’s breakthrough hit here in the States is fitting, as the song focuses on persisting in the face of all odds. More important, their cover should remind everyone that Neil Finn is an exceptionally gifted songwriter, who has written a handful of songs that have held up 30+ years after their initial release.

As I mentioned the band is in the middle of a lengthy tour, check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:
9.22.17 – The Fillmore – Philadelphia, PA *
9.23.17 – Thompson’s Point – Portland, ME *
9.24.17 – Green at Shelburne Museum – South Burlington, VT *
9.26.17 – Massey Hall – Toronto, ON *
9.28.17 – Iroquois Amphitheater – Louisville, KY *
9.29.17 – Ascend Amphitheater – Nashville, TN *~
9.30.17 – Thomas Wolfe Auditorium – Asheville, NC *
10.1.17 – The National – Richmond, VA *
10.2.17 – Red Hat Amphitheater – Raleigh, NC *
10.4.17 – Alabama Theatre – Birmingham, AL *
10.5.17 – Coca Cola Roxy Theatre – Atlanta, GA *
10.8.17 – Austin City Limits – Austin, TX
10.10.17 – Cain’s Ballroom – Tulsa, OK *
10.11.17 – Orpheum Theatre – Memphis, TN *
10.12.17 – The Pageant – St. Louis, MO *
10.13.17 – The Blue Note Outdoors – Columbia, MO *
10.15.17 – Austin City Limits – Austin, TX
10.27.17 – The Anthem – Washington, D.C. *+
10.27 – 10.29.17 – Voodoo Music + Arts Experience – New Orleans, LA
1.31 – 2.4.18 – Hard Rock Hotel – Riviera Maya, MX

 

*w/ The Shelters
^w/ The Lone Bellow
~w/ Dr. Dog
+w/Phosphorescent

New Video: An Intimate Portrait of Life on the Road with The Head and the Heart in New Visuals for “City of Angels”

Currently comprised of founding member Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion), Matt Geravis, Charity Rose Thielen (violin, guitar, vocals), Chris Zasche (bass), Kenny Hensley (keys) and Tyler Williams (drums), the Seattle, WA-based indie folk/indie rock act The Head and the Heart can trace their origins to a series of open mic nights at Conor Byrne Pub back in 2009. At the time Russell, who had relocated from Richmond, VA and the band’s other founding member Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion), who had relocated from Southern California were relatively recent transplants. Russell and Johnson met Hensley, who also was a relatively recent transplant, who had relocated the previous year to pursue film score writing. Thielen, was the next member to join, and she had recently returned from a year abroad studying in Paris. Williams had been a member of Richmond, VA-based band Prabir and The Substitutes, but after Russell sent him a demo of “Down In The Valley,” Williams quickly relocated to Seattle to join the new band. The last member of the original line, Zasche was a bartender at the Conor Byrne and was member of Seattle-based bands The Maldives and Grand Hallway. Interestingly enough, as Johnson explained the band’s name came from an relatable situation in which “Your head is telling you to be stable and find a good job, you know in your heart that this [the band] is what you’re supposed to do, even if it’s crazy.” 

Since their formation the band has released three full-length albums — 2010’s self-titled and initially self-released debut (which later caught the attention of Sub Pop Records, who re-issued it), 2013’s Let’s Be Still and 2016’s major label debut, Signs of Light with each record seeing greater attention and the band building a growing profile; they’ve opened for Vampire Weekend, The Walkmen, Dr. Dog, Dave Matthews, The Decemberists, Iron & Wine, My Morning Jacket, Death Cab for Cutie and Tom Petty and Heartbreakers among a lengthening list of acclaimed acts. Along with that, the band has seen quite a bit of critical and commercial success — their self-tiled debut reached #110 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 10 weeks with  Let’s Be Still landed at #10 on the Billboard 200 and each album has been well received to boot. 

2017 may be arguably be one of the bigger years in the band’s history as they’ve played the historic Newport Folk Festival and Coachella, and are in the middle of an extensive tour that includes stops at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, Lollapalooza and a bunch of other stops. (Check out the tour dates below.)  In the meantime, the band’s latest single “City of Angels” will further cement the band’s growing reputation for a sound that  simultaneously nods at 70s era Fleetwood Mac, 60s psych folk and pop, arena rock and contemporary indie rock, but with a swooning earnestness; after all, their latest single like all of the preceding singles is written from a sincere place; in this case, a bittersweet longing for a home you’ve left some time ago — but underneath there’s a growing sense that you may never be able to come home again. 

The recently released video was directed by Claire Marie Vogel, and its an charming and  intimate, fly-on-the-wall like portrait of the band that captures them in a variety of moments both big and small. As the director says in press notes, “When The Head And The Heart asked me to join them on the road to make a video for ‘City of Angels,’ there were many moments, big and small, that made it a trip of a lifetime. Record store shopping in a thunderstorm, backstage birthday parties, a summer ski lift through Catskills mountains, all night bonfires on a California beach, surprise songs in a Charlottesville bar, mini golf beside a river. It was a thrill to be a welcomed fly on the wall and treated as one of the gang. I knew ending the trip at the Monterey Pop Festival would be special, but when we found ourselves in a charmingly odd practice room – the band rehearsing with Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and Lou Adler, a founder of the festival throwing his two cents in on their arrangement — it felt utterly surreal.”