Tag: Western Vinyl

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the rapidly rising New York-based experimental act Activity. The act — Grooms‘ Travis Johnson (vocals, sampler) and Steve Levine (drums), Field Mouse‘s Zoe Browne (bass) and Russian Baths‘ Jess Rees — have begun to receive attention across the blogosphere for a eerily minimalist sound centered around the use of modern production, electronic instrumentation and organic instruction.

The rapidly rising act’s Jeff Berner-produced full-length debut Unmask Whoever is slated for a March 27, 2020 release through Western Vinyl, and the album’s material reportedly sees its creators forming a menacing and uneasy framework with which they pair lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws and the broader human capacity for growth when an uneasy truth is laid bare. So far I’ve written about two of the album’s releases ingles — the atmospheric and uneasy, Geoff Barrow-like “Calls Your Name” and the slow-burning and achingly painful “Earth Angel.” “Nude Prince,” Unmask Whoever continues a run of minimalist singles — but may be the most krautrock-like as the song is centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, thumping house music-inspired drum patterns, blasts of squiggling and angular guitars. Interestingly, the song is a psychologically precise narrative about a rich, powerful man, whose misdeeds are publicized, leaving his family to wonder what their own futures hold after is ruinous exposure. And as a result, the song is tense and uneasy, as it evokes a fatalistic sense of doom.

 

Earlier this year, I wrote about the rapidly rising New York-based avant garde/experimental act Activity. Now, as you may recall, the act which features Grooms‘ Travis Johnson (vocals, sampler) and Steve Levine (drums), Field Mouse‘s Zoe Browne (bass) and Russian Baths‘ Jess Rees have received attention across the blogosphere for a natural, minimal and intelligent use of modern production paired with organic instrumentation.

Their Jeff Berner-produced full-length debut Unmask Whoever is slated for a March 27, 2020 release through Western Vinyl, and the album’s material reportedly sees its creators ability gel with one another to reach new levels of interplay and cooperation to form a menacing and uneasy framework — with which they pair lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws and the broader human capacity for growth when an ugly truth is laid bare. “Calls Your Name” was centered around an atmospheric, uneasy and menacing Geoff Barrow-like production featuring woozy and shimmering synth arpeggios, and a relentless stuttering beat paired with half-song half-spoken lyrics inspired by C.S. Lewis’ 1945 novel The Great Divorce.

“Earth Angel,” Unmask Whoever‘s latest single is slow-burning, minimal “Earth Angel.” Centered around twinkling synth arpeggios, blasts of feedback and distortion-effected pedals, the track features what may arguably be one of the most painful sounding vocals I’ve heard in some time, as vocalist Travis Johnson’s voice stars off as a whisper before turning into a vocal cord tearing shout.

It’s a song about the freedom of a lifelong love” vocalist Travis Johnson explains. “I think we were going for a very Talk Talk Laughing Stock vibe in general. The vocals at the end physically hurt to perform… I could taste blood.”

Activity has a handful of live dates, including two NYC area dates: February 27, 2020 at Union Pool and an April 2, 2020 release party show at Baby’s All Right. Check out the tour dates below.

Live Dates:
 
02/27: Brooklyn, NY – Union Pool
04/02: Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right (Release Party)
04/16: Washington, DC – Rhizome
04/17: Richmond, VA – Fuzzy Cactus
04/18: Philadelphia, PA – Ortlieb’s

Formed back in 2007, the electro pop act Mint Julep is comprised of multi-instrumentalist and composer Keith Kenniff, who has composed material for film and has written and recorded as Helios and Goldmund, and his singer-songwriter and ambient electronic music artist wife Hollie Kenniff.  The synth pop act can trace its origins as both a decided departure from Kenniff’s more ambient leaning work and as a trial run of their home studio. And with the release of their earliest material — 2008’s limited run Songs About Snow, 2010’s Adorn EP, 2011’s Save Your Season and 2014’s Broken Devotion EP — the duo firmly established their sound, a sound centered by Hollie Kenniff’s seductive vocals, soaring choruses, Keith Kenniff’s shimmering synth work, towering guitars and slick hooks.  “When Hollie and I set out to do something, I wanted to find some way to incorporate her vocals into a slightly different style, rather than just write similar material to my solo work and lay her vocals over top,” the duo’s Keith Kenniff says on the duo’s Facebook page. “I had the need to write something that had some distorted guitars, loud drums and was a little bolder than what I had previously done. We messed around with a track one night (which became ‘Stay’) and it was a fun process, so we just kept writing more songs so we could do a project together.”

“Hollie grew up listening to a lot of industrial music and we both listened to a lot of punk but also growing up a lot in the late ’70s and ‘80s we both have a lot of pop music from the time in our blood,” Keith Kenniff explains in press notes. “We both listen to a lot of IDM and electronic music as well so I feel like our music is a marriage of those different things, song elements from pop influences mixed with production from the more instrumental and experimental side of things.” 

Slated for a January 31, 2020 release through Western Vinyl, Mint Julep’s forthcoming album Stray Fantasies will further cement the Boston-based husband-and-wife synth pop duo’s long-held reputation for crafting shimmering, hook-driven pop confections seemingly indebted to 80s synth pop that thematically focusing on vulnerability, insecurity and other related issues to affairs of the heart.  Now, as you may recall, earlier this month, I wrote about album title track “Stray Fantasies,” a swooning and shimmering club friendly bop that sounded as thought it could have been part of Stranger Things soundtrack, while evoking the lingering wooziness of a new love. “Escape,” Stray Fantasies‘ latest single continues a run of shimmering synth pop but unlike it’s predecessor, it’s a slow-burning and atmospheric song with an expansive cinematic quality paired with heartbreakingly earnest songwriting. 

New Video: New York Indie All-Star Act Releases an Uneasy and Menacing Visual for Geoff Barrow-like “Calls Your Name”

Formed last year, Activity is a New York-based avant/experimental act featuring Grooms’ Travis Johnson (vocals, sampler) and Steve Levine (drums), Field Mouse’s Zoe Browne (bass) and Russian Baths’ Jess Rees that discard the more weary connotations of indie rock through a natural, minimalist and intelligent use of modern implements paired with organic instrumentation. 

Their Jeff Berner-produced full-length debut Unmask Whoever is slated for a March 27, 2020 release through Western Vinyl. The forthcoming album’s material reportedly sees its creators’ abilities gel with one another to reach new levels of interplay and fruitful cooperation while sonically forming a menacing and uneasy framework to touch upon lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws and the broader human capacity for growth when an ugly truth is laid bare. The album’s first single “Calls Your Name” is centered around an atmospheric, uneasy and menacing Geoff Barrow-like production featuring woozy and shimmering synth arpeggios, and a relentless stuttering beat paired with half-song half-spoken lyrics inspired by C.S. Lewis’ 1945 novel The Great Divorce. In the novel, characters stuck in a grey, joyless conception of hell repeatedly deny opportunities to be taken into heaven, instead making excuses as to why they should remain in their embittered purgatory states. 

The recently released video captures this seemingly unending sensation of unease as it captures the band members in what seems to be their own personal purgatory. 

Formed back in 2007, the electro pop act Mint Julep is comprised of multi-instrumentalist and composer Keith Kenniff, who has composed material for film and has written and recorded as Helios and Goldmund, and his singer-songwriter and ambient electronic music artist wife Hollie Kenniff.  The synth pop act can trace its origins as both a decided departure from Kenniff’s more ambient leaning work and as a trial run of their home studio. And with the release of their earliest material — 2008’s limited run Songs About Snow, 2010’s Adorn EP, 2011’s Save Your Season and 2014’s Broken Devotion EP — the duo firmly established their sound, a sound centered by Hollie Kenniff’s seductive vocals, soaring choruses, Keith Kenniff’s shimmering synth work, towering guitars and slick hooks.  “When Hollie and I set out to do something, I wanted to find some way to incorporate her vocals into a slightly different style, rather than just write similar material to my solo work and lay her vocals over top,” the duo’s Keith Kenniff says on the duo’s Facebook page. “I had the need to write something that had some distorted guitars, loud drums and was a little bolder than what I had previously done. We messed around with a track one night (which became ‘Stay’) and it was a fun process, so we just kept writing more songs so we could do a project together.”

“Hollie grew up listening to a lot of industrial music and we both listened to a lot of punk but also growing up a lot in the late ’70s and ‘80s we both have a lot of pop music from the time in our blood,” Keith Kenniff explains in press notes. “We both listen to a lot of IDM and electronic music as well so I feel like our music is a marriage of those different things, song elements from pop influences mixed with production from the more instrumental and experimental side of things.” 

Slated for a January 31, 2020 release through Western Vinyl, Mint Julep’s forthcoming album Stray Fantasies will further cement the Boston-based husband-and-wife synth pop duo’s long-held reputation for crafting shimmering, hook-driven pop confections seemingly indebted to 80s synth pop that thematically focusing on vulnerability, insecurity and other related issues to affairs of the heart.  Interestingly, album title track and latest single “Stray Fantasies” is a swooning and shimmering, club friendly bop centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, Hollie Kenniff’s ethereal vocals and a soaring hook. And while sounding as though it could be part of the Stranger Things soundtrack, the song evokes the lingering wooziness of a new love.