Tag: Video Review

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Return with Film Noir-Influenced Visuals for Moody Album Single “The Message”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written about the  London-based duo and JOVM mainstays Still Corners, and as you may recall, the British duo comprised of vocalist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes have developed a reputation for crafting incredibly atmospheric and moody dream pop/synth pop centered around Murray’s smoky vocals and shimmering atmospherics.

The band’s fourth album Slow Air is slated for release later this week through the duo’s Wrecking Light label, and the album derives its name from the sultry summer days and nights they experienced during their time in Austin, TX, where they had written the album. Reportedly, Slow Air is a bit of a return to early form for Murray and Hughes, as the material learn towards arrangements that emphasize electric and acoustic guitars, live drumming and a minimal use of synthesizers.

Recorded in a new studio designed by Hughes, the recorded sessions inspired a minimalist and fluid approach in which they used a variety of old and new microphones while making sure that they didn’t overthink the entire process as is the tendency of modern recording; in fact, they managed to keep the mistakes they recorded on the album, so as to remind the listener of the fact that living, breathing, feeling and imperfect humans made it,  while also ensuring that the important thing was the material’s emotionality.

Murray and Hughes recorded and mixed the album in three months, the fastest they’ve ever done so far, and from albums single “Black Lagoon,” and “The Photograph,” the duo managed to retain the shimmering and moody atmospherics they’ve long been known for but paired with a previously unheard urgency. As Tessa Murray says of the album in press notes, “we wanted to hear beautiful guitar and drums and an otherworldliness, something about indefinable, along with a classic songwriting vibe. We’re always trying to get the sound we hear inside of ourselves, so we moved fast to avoid our brains getting in the way too much. The name Slow Air evokes the feel of the album to me, steady, eerie and beautiful.”

The album’s latest single “The Message” possess a film noir-ish vibe while drawing a bit from classic Sun Records recordings and 50s and 60s country as the song is centered around Murray’s ethereal vocals, a simple but propulsive backbeat and clean, shimmering guitars — and while meant to evoke late night, lonely highways the song as the duo explains is about “leaving someone and telling them on voicemail.”

Filmed and directed by the duo, the recently released video for “The Message” continues a run of incredibly cinematic visuals off the new album — with the visuals focusing on the lonely image of clouds drifting over a mountain range. At one point, there’s a brief superimposing of Murray’s hand calling the love interest at the center of the song and telling them that she’s leaving them, and as a result the visuals while being fittingly moody also evoke an underlying sense of liberation.

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New Video: Kind of Rider’s Elegiac and Atmospheric Ode to Loss and Hope

Initially formed in  Tulsa, OK, the indie act No Kind of Rider, which is comprised of  Sam Alexander, Wes Johnson, Jeremy Louis, Joe Page and Jon Van Patten has developed a reputation for a genre-defying sound that draws from indie rock, shoegaze, R&B, indie rock and electro pop. Currently, the band has members split between Portland, OR and Brooklyn but before that the members of the band spent several years writing, playing an hustling hard, hoping for a moment. “Working like that can break your heart,” the band’s frontman Sam Alexander says in a lengthy statement written by him and his bandmates.

Interestingly, the Portland and Brooklyn-based act’s recently released full-length debut Savage Coast draws from several years of difficult, life-altering experiences. As the band says, “there are things we have been during to say, and this record is a release emotionally for us. Both musically and lyrically we focus on ‘change’ a lot in this record.We use as many synthesizers and electronic samples as we do guitars and drums.  We want the listener to both feel comfortable and continuously be surprised.”  In fact, that sense of change throughout the album was inspired by the life altering transitions within the individual band member’s personal lives: Joe Page’s father suddenly died two years before the band entered the studio to write and record the material that would eventually comprise their full-length debut. And as Sam Alexander notes, the year that Page’s father died, was the same year he had gotten married. This was followed by the sudden death of Wes Johnson’s father, Jon Van Patten’s relocation to Brooklyn and Alexander’s own father suffering a stroke. “There’s been so may times in the last few years where I got stuck in my head: ‘Do other artists go through all this while making a record? Is this some kind of curse?’ For a long time I used to think of music as my path out of a difficult reality. I don’t anymore. Now, writing music is what keeps me rooted in my reality, it’s what lets me live with more presence and attention,” Alexander says.

“This isn’t a concept album,” Alexander and his bandmates continues. “But it does tell a story. We want the listener to uncover that story for themselves. However, a part of it is our story. Our loves, our friendships, our triumph, our losses. The story wouldn’t have happened without our move from Oklahoma to Oregon. We slept on friends floors and rehearsed in basements. I have over 300 hours of voice memos from our rehearsals down there!  Even though we recorded at incredible studios with talented friends, when I listen: I somehow still hear us in that moldy basement. I still hear the first time we pulled over on hwy 101 and saw the jagged wounds of the Pacific coastline.  Creatively, Joe actually drove out to Haystack Rock on the coast with a tape recorded – he designed new sounds and he embedded them into the tracks, so some of that is the actual article.  Most of it is just in the way that the music feels to me.” Unsurprisingly, the album thematically deals with loss, frustration and resiliency through love, friendship and music and of holding on to hope in the most difficult of times. Certainly, while deeply personal, the album will resonate on a universal and personal level to the listener, especially through the transitions that come about as we get older, and in these increasingly desperate and frightening times. From personal experience, I’ve learned that sometimes when things are so unmooring, so painfully difficult, so utterly confusing and uncertain that all anyone can cling to is the small things, the tiny and fleeting joys of life — a kind word or a smile shared among friends, the touch of a lover, the simple presence of a beloved family member, your favorite album, the thin soup of hope that sustains you for another few moments or a few days.

Last month, I wrote about “Sophia,” a song that Alexander noted was recored with the quintet facing each other and playing in the same room, and much like The Verve‘s Urban Hymns, there’s a vital and urgent “you-are-there-in-the-room” feel to the song while sonically the song — to my ears at least — brought JOVM mainstays TV on the Radio and The Veldt to mind. The album’s latest single “Autumn” is an elegiac and atmospheric track centered around a production featuring fuzzily distorted boom bap-like beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, equally shimmering guitar chords and Alexander’s plaintive vocals — all of which evoke the ache of loss, the recognition of its permanence, and the hope that there’s something better beyond this mortal realm. 

Directed by Parker Hill, the recently released video for the song is a cinematic and hallucinogenic fever dream full of the familiar lingering ghosts of regret, of things unsaid that should have been said, of time’s endless passing as it follows the band’s lead singer dealing with the loss of a loved one as he returns to a familiar place without him — and throughout there’s the palpable sense that one can never really return home. As the video’s director says in a statement:

“When I first heard Autumn, I immediately felt the song’s sense of complex loss and the possibility of renewal.  We wanted the video to reflect a person’s experiences before they let themselves begin grieving.

It was a dream to shoot with No Kind of Rider in their home city of Portland, OR because I knew the vast and almost eerie pacific northwest setting would help communicate much of the story we wanted to tell.

We crafted the video to be about Sam’s (lead singer) journey of saying goodbye to a loved one as he returns to a familiar place, alone for the first time.

Shooting on the foggy roads leading out to the coast, flanked by looming evergreen trees, we captured Sam amidst a cathartic release as he arrives at the monumental Canon Beach.  The sheer magnitude of nature that he is set against only further reveals the size of his loss.”

New Video: The Artfully Surreal Visuals for Tolliver’s “Emmanuel”

Born to a Baptist pastor father and a gospel singing mother, Tolliver is a Chicago, IL-born, Los Angeles, CA-based electro R&B artist, who played in a number of Stax Records-inspired acts, including Black Diet, an act that received best new band nods from a number of publications and filmed a nationally syndicated PBS special at the end of 2014. Since then, the Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based pop artist has been supporting himself by editing Mormon gay porn while his solo work — notably his solo debut EP Rave Deep received attention for focusing on late night partying, getting high and anonymous sex; however, his forthcoming EP Rites reportedly focuses on the sacred and the profane, capturing who had a deeply religious childhood and now is living in a sin-filled, ungodly present, and is tormented by his guilt.

Now, as you might recall earlier this year, I wrote about “I Gotchu,” an atmospheric and moody track that draw from gospel, neo-soul and jazz and centered around an aching expressing of guilt, shame and vulnerability that felt all too human and familiar. The EP’s latest single “Emmanuel” is centered around an atmospheric production featuring fluttering, arpeggiated synths and Tolliver’s aching falsetto soaring over the production — and in some way, the song expresses and evokes a longing for someone and something just out of reach and perhaps in some way forbidden.

Much like the visuals for “I Gotchu.” the Kellen Malloy-directed video for the song employs the contrasts between light and dark, as it features Tolliver sitting alone in an empty studio — except for the cameraperson — as he puts on a bright jacket, preens in front of a mirror and distractedly cuts an onion, and spends the rest of the video in front of a flashlight. And while possessing a feverish and surreal logic, the video evokes a man trapped in a vacillating cycle of loathing and guilt.

New Video: A Rollicking Look at a Woman Gone Wild in Visuals for Lola Kirke’s “Supposed To”

Over the course the past year, I’ve written a bit about the British-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, musician and actress Lola Kirke, and as you may recall while she may be best known for starting roles in Noah Bambauch’s Mistress America and the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle, and a supporting role in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Kirke is the daughter of drummer Simon Kirke, who’s had stints in 70s hit-making bands Bad Company and Free and Lorraine Kirke, the owner of Geminola, a vintage boutique known for supplying outfits for Sex and the City.

Downtown Records released Kirke’s Wyndham Garnett-produced full-length debut Heart Head West today, and the album which was tracked live to tape is a deeply personal album that the British-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, musician and actress says is “about basically everything I thought about in 2017 — time, loss, social injustice, sex, drinking, longing — essentially everything I’d talk about with a close friend for 40 minutes.” Last month, I wrote about “Sexy Song,” a slow-burning and meditative bit of honky tonk that recalls Chris Issak and Roy Orbison, but with a feminine and self-assured sultriness at its core. The album’s preceding single “Supposed To” is a rollicking and stomping country centered around an armament that features a chugging bass line, organ lines, a propulsive backbeat, and some bluesy power chords, and in some way the song recalls 50s early Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Patsy Cline and the like but as Kirke explains the song “is really about the intense pressure I feel to be what other people think I should be and what I think I should be. How rebellious would you feel if you had spent your life just doing things that you felt that you were supposed to do? That society told you to do?”

Directed by the Lola Kirke, the video is a rollicking and boisterous look at an older woman gone wild, a woman who drinks too much, smokes too much, misbehaves, seduces younger men to rob from them and so on, essentially doing all things she isn’t supposed to — and not giving a damn one way or the other. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Presets Return with a Trippy Live Concert-Based Video for “Martini”

Throughout this site’s eight year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Sydney, Australia-based electronic music production and artist act The Presets, and as you may recall, the Australian act, which is comprised of Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes can trace their origins back to when they met while studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Hamilton and Moyes quickly became recognized for crafting electronic dance music with a swaggering, arena rock energy and vibe, and unsurprisingly, the duo caught the attention of renowned Australian electro pop and dance music label Modular Recordings, who released their first two EPs and their 2005 debut, Beams.

2008 saw the release of the duo’s critically and commercially applauded sophomore effort Apocalypso, an effort that went Triple Platinum in their native Australia and featured four smash hits, including “My People,” one of their biggest songs. Adding to a massive and breakthrough year, Hamilton and Moyes won 5 ARIA Awards — including Album of the Year, 2 ARIA Artisan Awards, the J Award, the FBI SMAC Award for Album of the Year, and they shared the Songwriter of the Year at 2009’s APRA Awards.

The duo’s third, full-length effort, 2012’s award-nominated Pacifica featured Rolling Stone Australia‘s Song of the Year, “Ghosts,” and was nominated for an ARIA Award, shortlisted for the AMP Award, the J Award and was named the Herald Sun‘s Album of the Year, the Daily Telegraph‘s Album of the Year and the Sydney Morning Herald‘s Electronic Album of the Year. The members of the duo spent the next few years collaborating with a variety of contemporary artists — Hamilton cowrote Flume’s “Say It” and contributed tracks to albums by Flight Facilities, Steve Angello and Meek Mill, while Moyes produced an album by DMA’s  remixed tracks by The Drones and The Jezabels and started an underground techno label Here To Hell.

Late last year, I wrote about “Do What You Want,” the first single off Hi Viz, an album that was released earlier this year, and unsurprisingly, “Do What You Want” further cemented the duo’s reputation for festival bangers with enormous, crowd pleasing hooks and thumping beats — but with a looped glitchy sample that recalled Boys Noize’s “ICH R U,” Tweekend-era The Crystal Method and Come With Us-era The Chemical Brothers. The latest single off the album, “Martini” is swaggering, house music-based club and festival banger, centered around layers of arpeggiated synths and thumping, tweeter and woofr rocking beats; but underneath that swagger is a bit of desperate longing for someone, who’s out of the song narrator’s league — and in a way the song subtly nods at Phil Collins’ “Sussudio.” 

Interestingly, as Julian Hamilton enthusiastically explains in press notes, “Martini was a dancer I used to know. She was everything I wasn’t — cool, clear, strong and with a razor sharp edge I found impossible to resist. In the end, she left me completely undone; a crumbled wreck of a man. ‘But was it worth it?’ I hear you ask . . . Every second.

Each time we perform this song I think of her, so it made sense that Martini’s accompanying video is a film of us playing the song live, directed by our new favourite director and…. well hell I’ll just come out and say it… our new favourite person in the entire world SPOD.” And of course, it should give the viewer the sense of what a Presets live show is like. 

New Video: Jenn Champion’s Whimsical Rival Crew Dance Off

Born Jennifer Hays, the Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jenn Champion grew up in Tucson, AZ, where in the mid 90s, she worked at a local pizza shop with future bandmates Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke. In 1997 the trio moved to Olympia, WA for about a year, before settling in Seattle and forming Hays’ first band Carissa’s Wierd. Although they only released three albums before splitting up in 2003, the band had a cult following that has resulted in the release of three compilation albums of their work, including 2010’s They’ll Only Miss You When You’re Gone: Songs 1996-2003, all of which have ben released through Hardly Art Records.

Since the breakup of Carissa’s Wierd, Champion has focused on several acclaimed solo projects including, the sparse, guitar and vocals-based pop project S. And with S she has released four albums, including 2010’s I’m Not As Good At It As You and 2014’s Chris Walla-produced Cool Choices. Critics and fans have applauded her open-hearted lyrics, technical skill and willingness to eschew conventions — and perhaps more important for writing sad songs meant to be cried to (or should I say be cried with?).  Interestingly, the B side of Champion’s last S album found her moving towards a more electronic-based sound; however, her single “No One” found Champion fully embracing electronics.  “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” Champion says in press notes. While she’d initially intended to follow Cool Choices with “a rock record – guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” plans changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.”

After the release of “No One,” Champion’s publishers partnered her with Brian Fennell, an electronic music artist, songwriter and producer best known as SYML and the pair co-wrote “Leave Like That,” which was featured on SYML‘s Hurt For Me EP. Champion and Fennell hit it off so well that after Champion had written the demos for her recently released full-length Single Rider, she enlisted Fennell as a producer. Fennell agreed and they spent the next five months working on and refining the material on Single Rider. As Champion recalls, “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been,” and as a result the material evolved into a slickly produced, anthemic dance floor friendly album; however, the new album reportedly finds Champion maintaining the earnest emotionality and vulnerability that has won her attention but this time, the album’s material finds the acclaimed Seattle-based singer/songwriter imploring the listener to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance heartache, outrage and disappointment away, for a little bit at least. And goddamn it, sometimes strobe light, thumping bass and shimmering synths are so absolutely necessary to your basic survival.

Single Rider‘s latest single “Time To Regulate” is a slickly produced, sultry and propulsive bit of dance pop centered around layers of shimmering, arpeggiated synths, cowbell-led percussion, thumping beats and an anthemic hook that reminds me of Soft Metals‘ Lenses, Cut Copy‘s In Ghost Colours, of 80s synth soul and Giorgio Moroder; but underneath the slick production, thumping beats and razor sharp hooks, there’s a desperate person trying to put on a brave face on a daily basis — with the acknowledgment that sometimes just being can be difficult in itself, and that adds a triumphant, “well, fuck man, keep it going  as best as you can” vibe to the shimmering proceedings.

Directed by  Rhea Bozzacchi, the recently released video for “Time to Regulate” is a whimsical and joyous back alley dance off battle royal between two rival crews, one headed by Jenn Champion of course — with the end result being that the two rivals dance together as one fun-loving unit. Underneath the whimsy though is a series of imagery in which a marginalized group bands together for camaraderie and empowerment. 

New Video: Phantastic Ferniture Release Whimsical Visuals for “Dark Corner Dance Floor”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Sydney, Australia-based band Phantasmic Ferniture, the garage rock/guitar pop side project (of sorts) of acclaimed singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin and two of her closest and dearest friends, Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan K. Brennan. And as the story goes, the band can trace their origins to a birthday gathering at a Sydney bar to celebrate Jacklin’s 24th birthday. At some point, a group hug had manifested itself with all ten of the group’s participants drunkenly promising to start a band together. “Only four of us remembered,” Hughes recalls. The band’s core and founding members bonded over a mutual love and appreciation for fern-related puns and leisurewear, and they would meet up whenever their individual schedules would allow, writing songs and playing smatterings of live dates to an increasingly devoted audience.

Eventually, Jacklin, Hughes and Brennan decided that Phantastic Ferniture wasn’t a side project, and they should focus on writing and recording an album together, centered around the fact that the band would be a lot more spontaneous and less technical than their individual pursuits. “That was the fun part,” Jacklin says in press notes. “Ryan never played drums in bands, Liz had never been a lead guitarist, Tom didn’t play bass and I’d never just sung before.” Hughes adds “We wanted a low level of expertise, because a lot of good music comes from people whose passion exceeds their skill.”

Now, as you may recall, the band’s self-titled full-length debut was released last month through Transgressive Records, and the album finds the band adopting their mantra of not overthinking and focusing on the urgency of the moment as the basis of the writing and recording sessions that produced it — but underpinned with a sense of whimsy. The album’s second single “Gap Year” was a 90s alt rock-inspired track that recalled  PJ Harvey while the album’s third single “Bad Timing” was a bit of rollocking indie rock with a cinematic sweep. The fourth and latest single off the Australian indie rock act’s debut “Dark Corner Dance Floor” is centered around a shuffling disco-like bass line, shimmering guitar chords and soaring, anthemic hooks making it one of the more danceable songs on the album although its underpinned by love, awe and disappointment. 
Co-directed by Nick Mckk and Phantasmic Ferniture, the recently released video for “Dark Corner Dance Floor” continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with Mckk while featuring the band’s Jacklin and Hughes dressed up and wandering the streets of Sydney in a way that nods at David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s “Dancing in the Street” — but with a charming goofiness. As Jaclkin and Hughes explain in press notes, ” When you’re a kid from out of the city you think Darling Harbour is the essence of Sydney. The aquarium, the Ferris wheel, the IMAX theatre. You imagine when you finally make it to the big smoke you’ll spend your weekends falling in love under the lights of the high rises. Turns out if you move to Sydney you’ll probably never go there. We wanted to capture that feeling we had when we were two starry eyed teens imagining a fake city life.”

New Video: The Lysergic Sounds and Visuals of Jesse and the Dandelions’ “Give Up The Gold”

Jesse and the Dandelions are an Edmonton, Alberta, Canada-based indie rock act comprised of Jesse Northey, Conner Ellinger, Daniel Sedmark, Travis Sargent and Dean Kheroufi, and “Give Up The Gold,” the album title track and latest single off their forthcoming album Give Up The Gold is a lysergic-tinged dream centered around distorted boom-bap-like breakbeats, shimmering guitar fed through delay and other effect pedals and arpeggiated Wurlitzer chords — and the result is a song that has the a retro-futrustic vibe that recalls JOVM mainstays Pavo Pavo and Drakkar Nowhere; but as the band’s frontman and songwriter Jesse Northey says in press notes, the song found him exercising an active restraint while including a few lyrical double entendres.  

Consisting of cinematography by Truthful Works Films’ Dylan Howard and glitch art by Parker Theissen, the recently released video features the band performing in an empty studio but at points, the screen goes into a the sort of glitchy feedback and noise you’d expect from warped and old VHS tape, which further adds to the psychedelic vibes.

New Video: Introducing the Atmospheric and Brooding Sounds of Stockholm’s Sweden

Mark Ephraim is a Detroit, MI-born, Stockholm, Sweden-based producer, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and the creative mastermind behind post-punk project BadSkum, a project that features Ephraim collaborating with a rotating cast of local musicians, which when asked, Ephraim says “I stopped keeping anyone in a band with me too long because they always end up dying or plotting to kick me out.” Interestingly enough, the project can trace its origins to Ephraim relocating to Sweden after spending 16 years in New York as a producer and artist, developing his sound.

Ephraim’s latest single “Super Moon” is a slow-burning and atmospheric track that recalls Forget Yourself, Uninvited, Like the Clouds and Untitled #23-era The Church, as its centered around looping, shimmering guitar chords, and a propulsive yet somewhat easygoing backbeat and Ephraim’s crooning vocals.

Shot, directed and edited by Stellan Von Reybekiel, the recently released video was shot on an old VHS camcorder using an old tape that had old Friends taped on it; in fact, you could see a brief glimpse of Ross a the end. As Ephraim says of the video, “style plays a big part in the visual aspect of BadSkum. Every video is a bit like a comment on my past travels of experiences.” For “Turnstile Lovers,” he wore a Sudanese high school uniform he picked up from a friend who lived in Khartoum, and a handmade leopard track suit from Amman Jordan for “Proud Mary.” In this video, the Detroit-born, Stockholm-based producer, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist wore a sale rack Century 21 suit he had purchased to attend the Grammys, after receiving a nod for this work on Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP. Throughout the video, we see Ephraim preening and getting himself together and brooding over grainy and shaky VHS tape — and it manages to add to the song’s eerie air. 

New Video: Baltimore’s Super City Releases Creepy Visuals for Bombastic Arena Rocker “Sanctuary”

Baltimore, MD-based alt rock/indie rock quintet Super City, which is comprised of Dan Ryan (lead vocals, guitar) Greg Wellham, (lead vocals guitar), Brian Brunsman (bass, vocals), Jon Birkholz (guitar, keys, vocals), and Ian Viera (drums, vocals) has developed a reputation for a hook-laden sound that draws from heavy rock and prog rock — but with a pop-leaning sensibility; in fact, “Sanctuary,” the album title track off their forthcoming Sanctuary recalls the arena rock bombast of Muse and Rush, as well as Milemarker as the track is centered around arpeggiated synths, explosive, power chords and an uncanny melodic sense.

Directed by Tyler W. Davis, the recently released video for “Sanctuary” draws a subtle influence from the legendary video for Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” as its shot in a similar murky light while focusing on the members of the Baltimore-based act performing in a room full of what appears to be cult members dressed in the same outfit. Adding to the video’s overall creepy vibe is the mathematical preciseness of the choreography throughout.