Tag: Video Review

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Nicola Returns with Lush Yet Stripped Down Single

Born in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Nicola Vasquez, a multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter who performs under the moniker Nicola grew up in low-income projects, sharing toys with her baby brother. Her father was a mechanic and her mother a nurse, and while neither was musically inclined, they shared their appreciation and love for all types of music with their children. “Music was always playing in our house . . . we grew up with the sounds of Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles,” Vasquez recalls. When she turned 7, Vasquez started to learn the guitar; by the time she was 11, the piano, and by the time she was a teen, she attended the The Fiorello LaGuardia School of Art and Music and the Performing Arts, famously known as the school Fame was based on. She was classically trained at the Manhattan School of Music and Queens College, while studying dance and acting on the side. Shortly after graduating, Vasquez landed roles in the Broadway and National Road Companies of Les Miserables. 

Leaving the theater to embark on a music career based around her own original material, Vasquez started her own record label Hot Cherry Records in 2002 and over the following few years,  spent time living and performing in Europe and South America, and touring across the US refining her sound, which can be best described as a sultry mix of pop, rock, soul and Latin music. With a the release of five independently released albums, the New York-born and -based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has seen her work chart on over 200 national radio stations, been featured on ABC, CBS and NBC News, Oxygen’s Bad Girls Club, MTV, VHI, Women Who Rock Magazine, Songwriter Universe Magazine, National Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, Songcircle Music and twice in Billboard Magazine’s Underground section, opened for the likes of Eve 6 and Edwin McCain and has even shared stages with Ricky Martin and Living Colour’s Muzz Skillings. 

Over the past decade, Vasquez has simultaneously been a professional busker and musician, performing as part of the MTA’s Music Under New York program, where she’s managed to get crowds of busy New Yorkers to stop what they’re doing and listen to her perform. Yes, seriously. Now, it’s been some time since I’ve written about her — over the past couple of years, she’s been busy on the development and performance teams writing several original prospective Broadway-bound musicals; however, her latest single “Back in Pieces” will further cement her reputation for writing thoughtful, lush and anthemic pop but interestingly enough, it finds the JOVM mainstay with a much more stripped down approach and sound, reflecting the song’s deeply introspective and ambivalent nature. After all, the song ends with an open-ended question of what happens once you pick up the smashed pieces of a life, after heartbreak or some other traumatic experience and what it does to you. 

The music video is split between some highly symbolic imagery including broken glass, Nicola walking on the beach and the like, cut with footage of Nicola performing the song on the beach and in a park. 

New Video: The Symbolic, Video Game-Styled Visuals for The Prids Shoegazer-like “Mangled Hearts”

Currently comprised of founding members Mistina La Fave and David Fredrickson, with Tim Yates and Gordon Nickel, the Portland, OR-based noise pop act The Prids can trace their origins back to 1995 when the founding duo met in La Fave’s hometown of Saint Joseph, MO — shortly after Frederickson had relocated from Southern California. As the story goes, La Fave and Fredrickson started a relationship, divorced not long after they got married, formed The Prids, relocated to Lincoln, NE before permanently settling in Portland in 1999. Despite going through several lineup changes, the band has released four full-length albums, a handful of EPs and toured across the world with acts like Built to Spill and others,  while developing a reputation for their tenacious adherence to remaining completely DIY for all the right reasons to remain DIY,  which has won them countless admirers and fans across the DIY scene. And along with being among the forefront of the Pacific Northwest’s DIY scene, they’re one of Portland’s longest-running active bands, surviving through illness, deaths of friends and loved ones, the aforementioned divorce and a near fatal van accident. 

In some way, it’s a miracle that the band’s album Do I Look Like I’m in Love exists, let alone be slated for a a  January 12, 2018  through their label, This-a-Way Records. La Fave suffered a brain hemorrhage the night before the band was scheduled to enter the studio to record new material. And as you can imagine, La Fave’s recovery was mentally, physically and emotionally taxing for her and for everyone in the band with La Fave considering herself being lucky to be alive — with playing and performing being icing on the proverbial cake.  Reportedly, the new album will further cement the band’s reputation for deliberate attention to songcraft and nuanced (and moody) soundscapes paired with keen lyrical observations. 

Do I Look Like I’m in Love’s latest single “Mangled Hearts” is a tender, shimmering, shoegazer-like track that features La Fave’s ethereal yet contemplative vocals, four-on-the-floor drumming and a gently soaring hook that evokes a swooning longing for something or someone just out of reach. 

The recently released video was animated by the band’s nonbinaary and androgyne keyboradist Tim Yates and is an 8-bit video game adventure reminiscent of Super Mario Brothers, Castlevania and others featuring a nameless and gender-neutral everyperson, who wears a shirt with a non-binary flag for most of their adventure. The video’s baddies behave in ways inspired by the struggles of the LGBTQ community — you’ll see one-eyed pyramid creatures meant to represent harmful and repressive religious doctrine, solid stone knights with scrolls symbolizing unjust and rigid legislation and so on. Throughout, the video, it’s protagonist employs non-violent and clever ways to defeat the bad guys they encounter. And while being mischievous and pretty fucking clever, the video reminds the viewer that for some of our dearest and beloved friends, family members, coworkers and neighbors, that there’s a continuing struggle for acceptance.  

New Video: The 80s Inspired Sounds and Visuals of Up-and-Coming Boston-based Duo Modesta

Comprised of Arjun Viswanathan and Kostas Papadopoulous, the up and-coming, Boston-based duo Modesta specialize in a retro-futuristic synth pop sound that will remind most listeners of John Carpenter soundtracks and 80s synth funk, as well as contemporaries like Umberto and others — although interestingly enough, the duo cites Roosevelt, The Shins and Unknown Mortal Orchestra as major influences while saying that their own own sound and aesthetic is rooted in diversity and experimentation.

Since their formation, the duo have accrued almost half a million streams on Spotify with over 15,000 monthly listeners, and along with that the duo have built a home recording studio from the ground up, while learning new ways to improve their craft and experiment with their sound and songwriting process. Their debut EP VHS is slated for a January 12, 2018 release and reportedly the EP will find the duo meshing contemporary, electronic production, analog synthesizers, and organic instrumentation while further cementing their reputation for crafting material that’s indebted to 80s synth pop; in fact, as you’ll hear on EP title track and first single “VHS,” Viswanathan and Papadopoulous as the duo pair shimmering layers of arpeggiated, analog synths, thumping beats, a sinuous bass line, ethereal vocals and a slick hook. But underneath the moody iciness of the song is a swooning devotion of love. 

The recently released music video further emphasizes the retro-futuristc theme and vibe of the song as it features VHS player noises, grainy footage shot on VHS tape and incredibly 80s-like graphics and special effects. 

New Video: The Soaring 80s Inspired Pop Sounds and Visuals of Husband and Wife Duo DEGA

Comprised of husband wife duo Aslyn and Kalen Nash, the Joshua Tree, CA-based synth pop duo DEGA features two accomplished, veteran musicians: Ashlyn had released two solo albums — Lemon Love through Capitol Records and The Dandelion Sessions through Lemonade Records, as well as spending some time as a touring keyboardist and backing vocalist for Grammy nominated artist Kesha. Karen Nash was guitarist and vocalist for Athens, GA-based indie rock act Ponderosa, a band that released their critically applauded, Joe Chiccarelli-produced album Midnight Revival, which was released through renowned indie rock/roots rock label New West Records. Interestingly, the origins of the Nashes latest project can be traced back to 2008 when they first met — and although they got married in 2011, they were so busy with their own projects that they hadn’t really considered working together. Eventually, the loneliness of the road led the Nashes to consider a different path. “I remember a phone call when I was out with Kesha and Kalen was on tour with Ponderosa,” recalls Aslyn. “We were a country apart and hadn’t seen each other in months. I told him that we needed to start collaborating so, at the very least, we could see each other more often.”

The Nashes then formed DEGA with the idea that they could shed any of their preconceived notions about their previous work and freely explore new sounds — in this case, anthemic, synth-based indie pop in which they merged their talents and ideas into a unique sound and approach. Their forthcoming self-titled debut is slated for a February 23, 2018 release through Lemonade Records and the album reportedly is one of the most personal works either have released to date, as it focuses on their highs and the lows, as well as the love they have for each other; in fact, album single “Phoenix” focuses on Aslyn’s pregnancy and miscarriage during the recording sessions. With both Aslyn and Kalen touring, the duo would record whenever they were in the same city and had free time and although the album took two years to complete with sessions helmed by Justin Loucks and Jon Ashley at various studios across the States. 

The self-titled album’s latest single “Don’t Call It” is a an ethereal, 80s inspired synth pop confection reminiscent of Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back,” St. Lucia, Washed Out and In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy as layers of shimmering synths are paired with a sinuous bass line line, propulsive yet African-inspired percussion and a soaring hook. And while being slickly produced, the song possesses an urgent and swooning romanticism that belies a careful attention to craft. 

Directed by Scott Lansing, the recently released video for “Don’t Call It” consists of a fairly simple premise — the duo performing the song in a darkened room, in front of bright, lysergic lighting effects. 

New Video: Lion Babe’s Glamorous and Sultry Ode to Ballroom Culture

With the release of their full-length debut Begin, which featured guest spots from Pharrell Williams and Childish Gambino and album singles “Treat Me Like Fire” and “Jump Hi,” and the Sun Joint Mixtape the New York-based electro pop/neo-soul duo Lion Babe, comprised of Jillian Hervey (vocals) and Lucas “Astro Raw” Goodman (production), quickly established themselves for a swaggering and contemporary house music take on neo-soul.

“Rockets,” the duo’s latest single, a collaboration with Moe Moks will further cement the duo’s reputation for their swaggering take on neo-soul as the song features a minimalist production consisting of a sinuous yet jazz-like bass line, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, twinkling vibraphone and a ridiculous infectious hook that has the duo’s sound nodding at Erykah Badu and Jill Scott — but with a subtle, cosmic glow. As the duo told Noisey, the song is about creating “good times in a crazy world.” Certainly, when everything seems to be completely falling to shit, you have to find a way to make the best of things.

Directed by Chalalai Fischbach and Jett Cain, the recently released video for “Rockets” is an ode to classic ballroom culture that effortlessly meshes grit, glamour and sultry seductiveness in a way that nods at the 20s and house music, as everyone has elaborate costumes; however, the video’s last two and a half minutes or so showcases Hervey’s and Goodman’s own creative direction as it features a sparkly dance routine over DJ Moma and Guy Furious’ uptempo remix of the original song. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Pop Artist Alice Merton Pairs Her Swaggering Anthemic and Soulful Debut Single with Slick and Symbolic Visuals

Alice Merton is a Canadian-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, who has lived a rather nomadic life, as she was raised in Canada, finished high school in Germany and then with the rest of her family, relocated to England. Of course, music was a major part of her life, no matter where on Earth she was; she started taking classical piano lessons when she was five and by the time she was nine, she was introduced to vocal training. As the story goes, after spending the better part of a decade being classically trained, Merton discovered contemporary songwriting during one of her high school courses in Germany. And from that point forward, she went on to study songwriting and began pursuing her dream of becoming a professional singer/songwriter.

Naturally, while in school Merton would up working with a number or producers on projects and as you can imagine, finding the right producer, who can both compliment and challenge a singer/songwriter as a true collaborator is a rarity. And when she met Berlin-based producer Nicolas Rebscher, Merton quickly recognized that she finally found her musical match; in fact, the duo have managed to specialize in an anachronistic sound in which they’ve paired Merton’s soulful, pop belter vocals with slick production featuring analog synthesizers, classic soul music-inspired instrumentation while being rooted in hook driven, contemporary songwriting.  

Merton’s swaggering and bluesy debut single “No Roots,” features Merton’s self-assured and soulful pop belter vocals paired with a Rebscher production that features enormous, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a sinuous bass line, brief blasts of funk guitar, squiggly blasts of synths and a rousingly anthemic hook that nods at Amy Winehouse, Lorde, Taylor Swift and others but while managing to be emotionally ambivalent as the song’s narrator simultaneously expresses a wizened and resilient spirit, there’s an underlying and visceral ache based on personal experiences in which the narrator has never belonged to one place and had a life frequently thrown in disarray. 

Already “No Roots” has won the up-and-coming Merton an immense amount of attention both across the European Union and the States and elsewhere, as the song has already seen millions of streams on Spotify and YouTube, and has recently been added to the playlists of several Stateside Adult Alternative Album radio stations, including stations in Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, San Francisco, Minneapolis, the NYC area, as well as Sirius Alt Nation. Based on the incredible response the single has received, along with her recent signing to Mom + Pop Music, I suspect that we’ll be hearing more from the up-and-coming artist in 2018. 

Directed by Stolarow, the recently released video for “No Roots” is a slickly shot video focusing on a pensive yet proud Merton as she struts and sings the song in modern yet somewhat chilly apartment that looks decidedly European to me — at some point, you’ll see a man grab her and snatch her away, much like how she felt as a child, moving from one place to another. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Singer/Songwriter Malia Releases Ode to Enjoying Life’s Simple Things

Malia is a up-and-coming Seattle, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who at a young age was drawn to music. Although she was extremely shy, she loved to signing and always participated in choir while in school; but because she frequently suffered from crippling insecurity and self-doubt, she initially didn’t pursue her lifelong passion. “For some reason I didn’t allow myself to dream musically, I always told myself that being a singer was too far-fetched and I wasn’t good enough anyway,” the Seattle-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter explains.

Putting her passion aside, Malia upon graduation from high school, decided to move to California, where she attended college and ultimately graduate with honors, obtaining a BA in Political Science. “I just went through the motions, I never did anything with music throughout those years, I just told myself I would continue on through the education system.” As the story goes, several years later, while working and enduring through several short-term, unfitting and unfulfilling jobs, she found herself in an existential crisis, in which she realized that everything in her life had to change.

“That’s when I sat down and had the first, honest conversation I’d had with myself in years. I asked myself ‘What makes you truly happy, fears aside?’ . . . and I knew that answer was and always had been music. I had been running from my happiness for years, in fear of what people may say, reaffirming on the regular that my musical skills were not good enough to make it,” Malia recalls. And from that point on, she started to focus on pursuing music. She bought out guitar and taught herself how to play.  “I sought out people to jam with and learn from, and fell into a very fitting situation hanging out at a studio in Hollywood. Every day, I worked on my guitar skills and eventually began to play some small shows. I was able to record my first EP at the studio with the help of friends.”
 
After a West Coast tour with Syd, Malia decided to surprise fans with the early release of the Late Bloomer EP, which features singles “Simple Things” and “Dirty Laundry,” a collaboration with her recent tourmate Syd.  Reportedly, the EP reveals an artist with a newfound confidence and self-assuredness, and from the aforementioned EP single “Simple Things,” Malia specializes in an easy-going, thoughtfully crafted soul that simultaneously nods at Bill Withers, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and others while being an ode to slowing down, taking a breath and enjoying the simple things in life and with others. But interestingly enough, the song also suggests that by simplifying one’s life that it leads to a deeper sincerity and happiness in one’s life and relationships; after all, modern life can be complicated enough. 
 
Co-directed by Mali and Quentin Lamont and shot and edited by Dana Rice, the recently released video for the song captures the easygoing, summer afternoon vibe of the song while featuring the young artist hanging out, writing and goofing off — with an enormous, endearing smile. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Swedish Duo White Birches Release a Politically Charged Primer On Resistance In Our Fraught Times

Comprised of Jenny Gabrielsson Mare and Fredrik Jonasson, the Swedish synth pop/dark wave duo White Birches formed back in 2013 and with the 2014’s debut EP Stands of White Birches and 2015’s full-length debut Dark Waters, the Swedish duo quickly received attention across Scandinavia for a sound that has been compared to Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins and The Sisters of Mercy, as the up-and-coming duo craft moody songs based around piano, angular guitar chords, analog synths, eerie yet pop-leaning melodies and dark lyrical content; in fact, their debut effort received a Best Synth nomination at the Swedish Indie Grammy Awards, Manifestgalan. 

Gabrielsson Mare and Jonasson signed with Progress Productions, who will be releasing their sophomore effort When The Street Calls on February 9, 2017, and the album’s latest single “Howl” will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for crafting moody synth-based goth-inspired dark wave, as the duo pair layers of soaring synths with propulsive drum programming, angular guitar chords and a rousingly anthemic hook — and while sounding as though it could have been released during 4AD Records heyday, the song possesses a punk rock urgency.

The recently released video for “Howl” features animation by Jenny Gabrielsson Mare that not only is politically charged but serves as a call to arms for anyone, who wants to resist the cruel realties of racism, inequality, war and so on — while also serving as a primer on how to survive and thrive in our incredibly tense times. 

New Video: Uni Rocks Out Until the Bomb Drops in Visuals for “Mushroom Cloud”

Founded by the Atlanta, GA-born, New York-based model, singer/songwriter and musician Kemp Muhl, who’s best known as one-half of The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, with Sean Lennon and featuring David Strange (guitar) and Nico Fuzz (vocals, guitar), the New York-based trio Uni specializes in an slick, anthemic, power chord-based rock that’s indebted to 70s glam rock and power pop as you’ll hear on the act’s latest single “Mushroom Crowd,” which will be part of their forthcoming 7 inch, slated for a March 23, 2018 release through Chimera Music. And the single manages to slyly evoke the current sociopolitical climate, in which we’re all afraid of what seems to be an impending nuclear holocaust by asking the listener “what you do if you get the news that the nuclear missiles are coming and you have maybe 3 minutes left?”

Directed and animated by Rich Ragsdale, the recently released video features the high-heeled and bell-bottomed members of Uni playing an ass-kicking concert at the end of life as we know it — but at its core, the video suggests that the threat of nuclear annihilation is essentially a bunch of dick waving that could kill us all. And of course, the band plays until their faces melt off. Whoa. 

New Video: POND Releases a Lysergic Ode to the Holiday Season

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you’ve come across a handful of posts featuring POND, the recording project created by Perth, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jay Watson — and that the project features Watson collaborating with a rotating cast of local musicians, including Kevin Parker, the multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer behind the acclaimed psych pop project, Tame Impala. And with through the release of his first three albums — 2009’s Psychedelic Mango, 2010’s Frond and his 2012 breakthrough effort Beard, Wives, Denim — the Perth-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer found his sound moving from straightforward psych rock to a decidedly pop-leaning sound. Coincidentally, Watson’s breakthrough album was released around the time that Parker released his own breakthrough effort, Innerspeaker and with growing buzz around Australia’s psych pop and dance pop scenes, Watson and his touring band had found themselves on a busy international touring schedule that included an appearance at that year’s SXSW and a one-off show with CAN‘s Damo Suzuki, a major influence on Watson and his sound.

The Weather, which was released earlier this year continues Watson’s ongoing collaboration with Parker, and as you would have heard on album single “Colder Than Ice,” Watson’s sultry falsetto was paired with a production consisting onsisting of icy and shimmering synths, stuttering beats and a motorik groove in what may arguably be one of the more dance floor friendly tracks they’ve released in some time. Interestingly enough, the album’s material finds Watson managing to balance being deeply engaged with our tumultuous world while offering a much-welcomed respite and escape from it — and the album’s latest single “All I Want For Christmas (Is a Tascam 388) is a mischievous and hazily lysergic ode to the season that features Watson’s dreamy falsetto paired with tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, layers upon layers of synths that’s then given an easy-going dub-like sheen. 

The recently released and appropriately kaleidoscopic video was directed by the band’s Jamie Terry and features band member “Shiny Joe Ryan” hanging out in Fremantle, Australia in a Santa suit and sunscreen, drinking beer, driving around and breakdancing until he arrives at the studio to see his new Tascam 388, which he can’t wait to play with.