Tag: women who kick ass

New Video: Howless Shares a “120 Minutes” MTV-like Visual for Brooding “Rain and Ice”

Led by co-lead vocalists Dominique Sanchez and Mauricio Tinejro, the rising Mexico City, Mexico-based noise pop/shoegaze quartet Howless will be releasing their highly-anticipated full-length debut, To Repel Ghosts on February 18, 2022 through Static Blooms Records.

Reportedly, To Repel Ghosts will see the Mexican shoegaze outfit grappling with big themes, while hinting at nervous foreboding and striking different levels of consciousness throughout the album’s eight crafted and dynamic songs. Sonically, the album’s songs seamlessly transition into the next — and are performed with the self-assuredness and effortless aplomb of a group of old pros.

Late last year, I wrote about album single “Levels.” Lyrically inspired by William Garvey’s “Goodbye Horses,” “Levels” saw the members of Howless pairing old-fashioned pop craftmanship and textured soundscapes with an uncanny ability to write a razor sharp hook.

“Rain and Ice,” To Repel Ghosts‘ brooding, new single is a slick synthesis of Garlands era Cocteau Twins-like atmospherics and A Storm in Heaven-like, painterly textures with the song featuring a glistening synth intro, layers of chiming, reverb-drenched guitars and forceful chug and thunderous drumming paired with Sanchez’s and Tinejro’s languid and beguiling harmonies. Perhaps one of the Mexican outfit’s heaviest and darkest songs — both sonically and thematically — of their growing catalog, “Rain and Ice” further establishes the band’s ability to craft melodic and hook-driven material while evoking the sensation of a flop sweat inducing fever dream.

The recently released video for “Rain and Ice” was shot on a VHS camcorder — for that grainy, analog quality. And as a child of of the 80s and 90s, the video reminds me of 120 Minutes MTV alt rock, complete with the band members standing and/or moving in front of trippy projections.

New Video: Babeheaven and Navy Blue Share Lush and Yearning “Make Me Wanna”

Rising London-based quintet Babeheaven — led by Nancy Anderson (vocals) and Jamie Travis (instrumentation and co-production along with Simon Byrt) can trace their origins back to when Anderson and Travis struck up a friendship while working in shops located on the same street. With their critically applauded, full-length debut Home For Now, the British pop outfit established a sound and approach guided more by mood than message, while thematically reflecting the disengagement that comes from years of uncertainty, fits and stops and crushing disappointment.

Babeheaven’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Sink Into Me is slated for a March 18, 2022 release through Believe. And while the album continues the British pop outfit’s long-held reputation for crating music that is imbued with feelings of loneliness and disconnection, the album’s material is rooted in a central tension: there’s disillusionment sure; but there’s also a yearning for growth and evolution.

Informed by the death of two close family friends of Anderson’s within a year of each other, the album explores love and loss — and the very human desire for comfort and connection. Unlike its predecessor, the members of Babeheave were able to write songs together in the studio, along with Luca Mantero, Milo McGuire and Ned Smith. “It was more organic,” Babeheaven’s Jamie Travis says of Sink Into Me‘s songwriting process, which happened over the course of six months over the course of 2020. “It sounds ridiculous but we hadn’t been able to do that before.”

Reportedly Sink Into Me sees the members of Babehaven making a huge step forward: Sonically, the band sees the band distilling their influences and coming into their own distinct style. “It was a conscious decision to move away from being a trip-hop bedroom-pop band,” says the band’s Travis. “We did that on the last album; now it was time to try something different.” The trip-hop references are still there — but they no longer dominate; rather, the album reportedly finds the band crafting a decidedly widescreen sound that seamlessly meshes elements of pop, R&B, indie rock and electronica.

The end result is an album that sees the London-based act encapsulating the past few years while attempting to make something universal. “We’re not trying to write hits,” says Jamie. “We’re trying to write good songs that people can connect with.”

Sink Into Me‘s third and latest single, the lush “Make Me Wanna” is centered around a glistening production featuring buzzing and swelling synths, boom bap-like drums, shimmering guitars paired with Anderson’s gorgeous vocals expressing an aching and maddening yearning for connection. The song also features a thoughtful and longing response back to Anderson’s narrator from Brooklyn-based emcee Navy Blue. Subtly nodding at the classic soul duets and the hip-hop soul duets of the 90s, “Make Me Wanna” at its core is a sweet, and somewhat old-fashioned love song about missing that someone who may be an ocean away.

 “​​The verses and chorus from this song were taken from two really old demos,” Nancy Anderson explains in press notes. “Listening to it now I was obviously really heartbroken but I find it hard to be direct with my lyrics. The synth swells in this song really pull at my heartstrings and when we were writing the track for this it reminded me of those lyrics and how I felt at that time. I reached out to Navy to see if he wanted to be part of the album and he wrote a verse for this song it really feels like a direct and concise version of what I was trying to say in that moment.”

Directed by Noel Paul, the recently released video for “Make Me Wanna” features Babeheaven’s Anderson taking a seaside walk to presumably clear her head. As she’s walking a former lover/fling/love-interest nicknamed “do not answer” on her phone tries to reach her on her phone — first by Facetime, which she ignores. “do not answer,” turns out to be Navy Blue, who texts her in a rapid flurry the lines of his verses, confessing his thoughts. She eventually answers, listens to Navy Blue for a seconds and with a bitter smile, tosses her phone into the sea.

I’m not sure if I’d do that. But I think we all can get the sentiment — heartache, frustration, longing and exhaustion rolled into one confusing yet familiar ball.

New Video: Staten Island’s Elaine Kristal Teams up with Produkt and Herve Alexandre on an Earnest and Soulful New Bop

Elaine Kristal is an emerging Staten Island-born and-based singer/songwriter, who can trace the origins of her music career to her childhood: a young music-loving Elaine Kristal took part in school plays at her elementary school — and she sung in the hallways of her school, wearing a bandana and hoop earrings, inspired by Alicia Keys.

She started performing her own music with one of her best friends, Mikey Fuego at a local open mic. The young, Staten Island-born and-based singer/songwriter quickly began to realize that people were coming to see her perform — and were learning the lyrics to her songs. When the entire place started singing along, Kristal realized she needed to seriously pursue music. “It’s a high I will never forget, and one I want to have for the rest of my life,” she says.

Last year, R&B singer Tank launched the “Can We Talk Challenge” on Tik Tok. The challenge required participants to sing the hook to Tevin Campbell‘s 1993 hit single. Kristal, refused to sit on the sidelines, knowing she could contribute to the challenge while making one of her favorite vocalists proud. Her contribution quickly amassed over 40,000 views with the video being favorited over 400 times.

Naturally, the Staten Island-born and-based vocalist was ecstatic by the positive response she received. Then a Tik Tok user questioned the young, emerging artist’s talent and ability in the comments. She responded swiftly, singing the hook to “Can We Talk” a cappella while pounding her fist on a stage platform. “When I saw the comment my first reaction was “Oh word”, he really went there?” explained Elaine. “I take this VERY serious and my pride couldn’t let it go so I just walked over to this stage located in the studio complex I record in and just started pounding my fist while I sang a cappella.” Kristal continues, “Here I am with limited hours in a day trying to divide my time between recording new music, promoting recently released tracks, and preparing for the release of my new new single ‘Nasty In The Morning’ and now I’m replying to thousands of comments on my page.”

In the past year, the #CanWeTalkChallenge has become a viral sensation with thousands of entries across the world and over 20 million views of the hashtag. The Staten Island-based artist has 250,000 of those views, with over 3,000 comments, 48,000 likes — and has seen a 500% growth in followers on the platform. In fact, she’s in the Top 10 of the challenge, alongside X Factor USA season one winner Melanie Amaro and rapper Joyner Lucas while surpassing established artists like Lil Mama, Anthony Hamilton, 112‘s Q and Bobby Valentino. “2021 was hard for so many people including myself, but there were also many developments that made it tough to see last year end” Kristal says.

Elaine Kristal hopes to build upon the momentum of the #CanWeTalkChallenge. Her latest single “Love Over Living” is a slickly produced, radio and club friendly bop that features a soulful saxophone by Herve Alexandre, looping acoustic guitar and skittering, tweeter and woofer rocking trap beats. The Staten Island-based artist’s easy-going vocals effortlessly glide over a production that nods at Mary J. Blige and Alicia Keys-like hip-hop soul, contemporary pop and trap. Interestingly, underneath the contemporary production is a sweet, old-school love song in which the narrator expresses the age old “us against the world, baby” sentiment. Local emcee and labelmate Produkt contributes a couple of lovestruck verses describes how he feels about his “round-the-way girl,” who keeps it real — and is ride or die. It’s honestly, the sort of earnest love song that you don’t hear that you don’t hear too often these days.

As the emerging artist explains the song offers a simple yet profound message of how the power of love can get us through the darkest moments of our lives.

The recently released video for “Love Over Living” portrays the young Staten Island artist as a down-to-earth, round the way girl. We follow the two artists as they drive around town in a gorgeous, turquoise speedster — notably on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the FDR Drive and the West Side Highway. We also see them stop by a neighborhood bodega.

Live Footage: Laufey Performs “Like The Movies” on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

Laufey Lin is a rapidly rising, 21 year-old Chinese-Icelandic singer/songwriter, cellist and pianist, best known as Laufey. Spending much of her childhood in Reykjavik, Lin grew up influenced by classical music and jazz, and by the time she was 15, she performed with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Interestingly, despite her deep and abiding love of the music that has served as musical foundation, she yearned to express herself by creating music that blended her classical and jazz background with more modern and contemporary influences.

While attending Berklee College of Music, Lin began collaborating with some of her peers and recording her debut single “Street By Street,” a blend of jazz melodies with slow-burning R&B grooves. Making the best of the unexpected downtime as a result of the pandemic, Lin decided to release “Street By Street” through social media. The song, along with a collection of covers and originals quickly went viral. Eventually, “Street By Street” hit #1 on the Icelandic charts — and she began to amass a massive following that includes Billie EilishWillow Smithdodie, and others.

Adding to a breakthrough year, the Reykjavik-born artist landed her own music series on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Sounds. She won Best New Artist at the Icelandic Music Awards. Amazingly, those accomplishments took place before the release her acclaimed debut EP Typical of Me, which has amassed over 10 million streams across all digital streaming platforms.

Last week, the rising, young Icelandic artist made her late night, Stateside TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, where she performed Typical of Me track “Like The Movies.” The old-timey, jazz-standard-inspired song — and it’s gorgeous arrangement — continues a run of classic Hollywood-inspired ballads with modern sentiment: in the case of “Like The Movies,” the song’s narrator recognizes that the old movies she loves has distorted her ideas of what love is and can be. Besides that, the song reveals a songwriter and vocalist, who displays a maturity and sensibility beyond her relative youth.

New Video: Basement Revolver Shares Cathartic “Circles”

Formed back in 2016, Hamilton, Ontario-based dreamgaze outfit Basement Revolver — currently, Nimal Agalawatte (bass, keys), Chrisy Hurn (vocals, guitar), Jonathan Malström (guitar) and Levi Kertesz (drums) — can trace their origins back quite a bit earlier, to the longtime friendship between Hurn-Morrison and Agalawatte.

The band hit the ground running with the 2016 release of breakout single “Johnny Pt. 2,” which led to the band signing to British label Fear of Missing Out and later, Canadian label Sonic Unyon Records. The Canadian dreamgazers closed out that year with their self-titled EP. Over the next couple of years, Basement Revolver were remarkably prolific with the release of 2017’s Agatha EP, 2018’s full-length debut Heavy Eyes and 2019’s Wax and Digital EP. The band supported their recorded output with touring across Ontario, the States, the UK, and Germany.

2020 was a tumultuous year for much of the world — and unsurprisingly, it was tumultuous year for the Canadian quartet: They had written and recorded a bunch of songs. They had gone through a lineup change in which one member left and was replaced by another. But because of the pandemic and pandemic-related restrictions, they couldn’t rehearse or record in the way they had been long accustomed. And of course touring was completely off the table for much of 2020 and 2021.

The gap between their work and being alone, naturally resulted in serious introspection for the members of the band — including a reconsideration of who and what the band was. According to the band’s Agalawatte, the band had planned on making their sophomore album last year. But they wound up waiting and working out what to do, eventually making changes to what they had written. “The world was shifting around us – and there was some global trauma – with that, we decided we wanted to fully express ourselves. So far we had kind of held off sharing political views, but we were realizing that our silence was actually just violence. We realized that to be who we are fully and authentically, we needed to share our voice.”

For the band’s members, they felt the need to share things in public, that they had long held private: Agalawatte came out. Hurn came out. According to Hurn-Morrison, the pair came out against what she describes as homophobic and transphobic environments, much like Redeemer University, a private Calvinist university, which has been the birthplace of countless local acts.

Back in 2020, Redeemer University announced a policy that would discipline students for any sexual behavior outside heterosexual marriage. “While we were in the studio, the CBC released an article about Redeemer University, and their homophobic and transphobic policies. I realized then and there, I had to come out. I had to share my experience with being bi,” Hurn-Morrison explains.

Basment Revolver’s sophomore album Embody is slated for a February 18, 2022 release through Sonic Unyon Records. Thematically, the album sees the band wrestling with questions of identity, sexuality, faith and mental illness in an explicit, honest, and self-aware fashion. Sonically, the album’s material reveals a much deeper sound paired with a crisper production. And while arguably being the most personal album of their growing catalog to date, the album’s material is rooted in hope and hopeful waiting — to physically be with your friends, to tour and to engage with the world with this newfound understanding of yourself and your place within the world.

Embody‘s fourth and latest single “Circles” is a slow-burning and expansive bit of shoegazy dream pop featuring swirling layers of shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, atmospheric synths, Hurn’s achingly plaintive vocals and a driving rhythm section. And while sonically bearing a resemblance to A Storm in Heaven era The Verve and The Sundays, “Circles” is a deeply personal song in which it’s narrator openly struggles in the aftermath of being raped, and — sadly — informed by Hurn-Morrison’s personal experiences.

According to Chrisy Hurn, the song captures the feeling of “trying to do everything in your power to get better, but there is just that one thing that it always comes back to — knowing that it is a slow and long journey.

“As much as it is about this heavy, shitty thing that happened, I feel resilient. I feel a little bit stronger every time I hear it — a little bit more like I can stop hiding parts of myself.” Of course, while being cathartic for the band’s Hurn, she has the hope that it will help listeners, who may be going through similar experiences.

The recently released video is split between symbolic imagery of Hurn struggling with depression and anxiety — and seemingly gathering the courage to perform such a devastatingly honest song with her bandmates. The video’s color palette capture the brooding and serious nature of the song.

New Video: the bird and the bee Share a Gorgeous, Animated Visual for Expansive “Lifetimes”

Acclaimed Los Angeles-based indie pop act the bird and the bee — singer/songwriter Inara George and eight-time Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin — can trace their origins back to when they met while working on George’s 2005 solo debut All Rise.

Bonding over a mutual love of 80s pop and rock, the duo decided to continue collaborating together in a jazz-influenced electro pop-leaning project. With the release of 2006’s Again and Again and Again and Again EP and 2007’s self-titled, full-length debut, George and Kurstin quickly established a reputation for crafting pop songs with a breezy elegance.

Since the debut album, the bird and the bee have released three albums, as well as two volumes in their Interpreting the Masters series, in which they re-arranged and re-imagined the music of Hall & Oates and Van Halen in their playful and breezy style.

2020’s Christmas album Put Up the Lights was written and recorded remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Lifetimes,” is the first bit of new material since the release Put Up the Lights — and interestingly enough the song marks two big occasions for the the duo:

  • the first time they were able to work together at Kurstin’s Hollywood-based No Expectations Studio in years
  • and the duo celebrating the 15th anniversary of their self-titled debut, released through Blue Note Records

“It was really nice to be back in each other’s company and working on music together. No matter who you are, there’s always something unique that happens when you are able to collaborate with someone in the same space,” the bird and bee’s Inara George says in press notes. “Since the beginning of the bird and the bee, Greg and I have always had a very easy and fun time collaborating. I think it’s what keeps us playing music together. We have a kind of unspoken understanding and such a creative ease. Being back together inspired this song about our first musical collaboration.”

“Lifetimes” is centered around an expansive and elegant arrangement that starts with angular post-punk guitar that slowly builds up to include blown out beats, twinkling keys, fluttering synths, a dreamy Bossa nova and jazz-like bridge, and an anthemic coda. While telling the tale of the duo’s first collaboration together, the song is also a meditation on the passing of time, and a celebration of a deep and abiding friendship rooted in an unusual understanding of the other.

Directed by Simona Mehandzhieva and Norbert Garab, the recently released animated video for “Lifetimes” follows the song’s story as a swooning platonic love story and a sort of Vulcan mind-meld between two very different yet oddly similar people.

New Video: Stimmerman Shares a Trippy and Unsettling Visual for New Ripper “Geek”

Eva Lawitts is a New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, grizzled local scene veteran and JOVM mainstay: Lawitts began her varied and interesting career with a 14 year run with local, prog rock shredders Sister Helen. She has simultaneously developed a reputation as a go-to session and touring musician, working with Vagabon, and Princess Nokia.

Lawitts also co-runs Brooklyn-based recording studio, Wonderpark Studios, where she’s a producer and engineer. Adding to a busy schedule, the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer played bass on Oceanator‘s Things I Never Said.

Her recording project Stimmerman — which is simultaneously a band and a solo project — was founded back in 2017 after her previous band Sister Helen split up. “I wanted a project that was all mine and so I picked a family name long-changed for the purposes of assimilating into American Society (what a concept)- Stimmerman,” Lawitts explains in press notes.

Lawitts’ Stimmerman debut, 2019’s Goofballs was ” . . . more or less about loss and survivor’s guilt: it’s a meditation on a friend’s fatal overdose at a young age through that lens.” And if you were following JOVM back then, you might recall that Goofballs featured the Bleach-era Nirvana meets PJ Harvey-like “It Shows” and the expansive math rock meets shoegaze meets acid rock-like “Dentist vs. Pharmacist.

“Geek” is the first bit of original material from Lawitts since Goofballs. Clocking in at about 65 seconds, the new Stimmernan single manages to simultaneously be an expansive and yet breakneck ripper, featuring grungy power chords, thunderous drumming and fluttering synths and feedback paried with Stimmerman’s surrealistic yet visceral lyrics.

Directed and animated by Elenor Kopka, the recently released video features a series of amoeba-like humanoid faces that morph, bend, and melt throughout the video. Interestingly, each face seems marked by some unspoken fear or worry.

“Geek” will appear on Stimmerman’s sophomore album, which is slated for release later this year.

New Video: Lucky Lo Releases a Swooning and Euphoric Anthem to Queer Love

Lo Ersare is a Umeå, Sweden-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter, musician, and the creative mastermind behind the emerging indie pop project Lucky Lo. Ersare relocated to Copenhagen in 2014 and quickly made a name for herself as a busker and as an integral part of the city’s underground music scene, performing everything from folk to experimental jazz to improvisational vocal music. Along the way, her love for Japan and its music brought her to the island nation, where she has performed, grown a devoted fanbase and gathered inspiration, which has seeped into her music in various ways.

Ersare’s full-length debut, Supercarry is slated for a March 25, 2022 release through Tambourhinoceros Records. The album will feature previously released single “Heart Rhythm Synchronize,” which was about synching heartbreaks through love and song and album title track “Supercarry,” a sleek and seamless synthesis of Annie Lennox and Peter Gabriel, that thematically finds Ersare quickly establishing a major thematic concern in her work — the transformational power of radical love.

Supercarry’s latest single, “Ever” is a swooning and infectiously optimistic pop song centered around glistening synth arpeggios, a strutting disco-inspired bass line, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a rousingly anthemic hook and Ersare’s plaintive pop belter vocals. Arguably, the most dance floor friendly of the album’s released singles, “Ever!” brings Talking Heads, and Annie Lennox to mind paired with the euphoria of Sylvester‘s queer anthem “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).

Lyrically, the song’s narrator has found a way to transform the hardships of living in a cruel and judgmental world that won’t allow them to be themselves into a deep, sustaining hope and confidence; the sort of quiet confidence to be self-assured in whatever your truth may be. As Ersare explains the song is an anthem for queer love.

The inspiration for the song began deep inside a YouTube rabbit hole. Ersara was binging on Freddie Mercury videos one night. That eventually lead to her researching the AIDS epidemic of the 80s, and the blacklash of homophobia the gay community felt back then.

She came across a video of a gay man, who bravely announced to a reporter that no amount of homophobia could keep gay people from loving each other that struck her as timeless. Since the dawn of society, gay people have been — and will keep on — loving in secret, despite antagonism, until the world eventually accepts them.

This video resonated with the Umeå-born, Copenhagen-based artist, who was then inspired to make a song for “anybody, who feels they are living a truth in secret can listen to, dance to, and feel that they will be accepted. By repeating the motion, it’s going to change the world,” she says.

Animated by Isabelle Friberg, the recently released video is a life affirming love song: We follow the video’s protagonists, who have a meet cute at local bowling alley and fall madly in love. They represent the love that man in the 80s video clip talked about. And while we get a glimpse into their lives and their love, we see Ersare and her band performing the song, while looking like characters straight out of Jem. The video manages to be brightly colored, overwhelmingly positive and a sweet visual that emphasizes the song’s swooning euphoria.