Tag: women who kick ass

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Penelope Isles Release a Gorgeous and Heartbreaking Visual for “Sudoku”

Led by sibling duo and co-songwriters and co-vocalists Lily and Jack Wolter, the Brighton-based indie rock act Penelope Isles had a breakthrough 2019: their self-produced, full-length debut Until The Tide Creeps In was released to critical acclaimed globally. And to support the album, the band shared stages with The Flaming Lips and The Magic Numbers, playing over 100 shows — and they made three Stateside tours, including a stop at the inaugural New Colossus Festival.

The duo’s highly-anticipated Jack Wolters-produced sophomore album Which Way To Happy is slated for a November 5, 2021 release through Bella Union. The album’s material was forged during a period of emotional and professional upheaval for The Wolters and for Penelope Isles. The band spent much of 2019 touring across Europe and America with their bandmates. When the pandemic struck early last year, the band — understandably — felt as though everything was falling apart: much like countless other folks across the world, the members of Penelope Isles found their plans in an indefinite halt. Jack and Lily were dealing with their own respective romantic heartaches and the departure of two bands members, who were replaced with Henry Nicholson, Joe Taylor and Hannah Feenstra for the recording of the album. “A godsend after a low time,” Lily Wolters says. 

The Wolters along with Nicholson, Taylor and Feenstra holed into a small cottage in Cornwall to start work on the new album when lockdowns were instituted everywhere. Claustrophobia kicked in, existential anxiety over the pandemic permeated everything and emotions — naturally — ran very high. “We were there for about two or three months, untilately,” says Jack. “It was a tiny cottage and we all went a bit bonkers, and we drank far too much, and it spiralled a bit out of control. There were a lot of emotional evenings and realisations, which I think reflects in the songs. Writing and recording new music was a huge part of the recovery process for all of us.”

Finished away from the confines of the Cornwall-based cottage and further flushed out with acclaimed composer Fiona Brice, the band’s sophomore album finds the band further emphasizing the core traits that have won them acclaim globally: the bond between Jack and Lily, a desire to celebrate life in all of its facets and a sensitivity towards complex feelings. But interestingly, Which Way To Happy may arguably be their most ambitious effort to date: Sometimes, the album’s material swoons, sometimes it soars. Other times it bravely says “it’s OK to not be OK.” And this is while balancing a tight rope between expansive, cosmic pop and up-close, heart-felt intimate songwriting. 

So far, I’ve written about two of Which Way To Happy‘s singles:

  • The cinematic “Sailing Still.” Centered around a shimmering and brooding string arrangement, gently strummed guitar, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Lily Wolter’s achingly tender vocals, the heartbreakingly gorgeous track evokes a deep yet familiar yearning for peace in a mad, mad, mad world — while sonically bearing a resemblance to Lily Wolter’s collaboration with Lost Horizons
  • Iced Gems” is a gently undulating track featuring twinkling keys, fluttering and atmospheric electronics, thumping beats and Lily Wolters’ achingly plaintive vocals. And while being a decided sonic departure, the song is centered around somme deeply intimate lyricism and the duo’s unerring knack for crafting infectious, razor sharp hooks.

Which Way To Happy‘s third and latest single “Sudoku” is a slow-burning and lushly textured bit of dream pop/shoegaze centered around shimmering guitars, plaintive and expressive vocals, a soaring hook and a fuzzy power chord driven solo. Sonically, the track — to my ears, at least — brings back memories of classic Brit Pop.

“‘Sudoku’ is probably the oldest song on the album. We used to play it in our old band, Your Gold Teeth, back on the Isle of Man when Lily and I first started making music,” Penelope Isles’ Jack Wolters explains. “Dad loves a sudoku puzzle whilst he’s sat on the loo. So this one is for him! It’s a special song for us and we wanted to bring it back and play it with Penelope Isles.”

The recently released video for “Sudoku” is an intimate portrait of a middle aged gentleman. We follow the man as he gets up, brushes he teeth, makes himself a healthy breakfast and some tea before heading to his workspace to work on a model airplane. He stops to each lunch with his pet bird, water his plants and get a package delivered — and then back to work. When he finishes, he takes the plane out on a test flight; but it quickly proves to be a frustrating disaster with the plane flying a few feet before crashing.

The video ends with the band throwing the plane in the garbage and heading home to work on a model car.

New Video: Jess Chalker Releases a Charming, Classic Cinema Inspired Visual for “Stupid Trick”

Sydney-born, London-based singer/songwriter and producer, Jess Chalker began here career as the frontwoman of Aussie New Wave act We Are The Brave. Interestingly, since We Are The Brave’s breakup, Chalker has become a highly sought-after collaborator: She has worked with Sam FischerVintage Culture, IsamachineGold Kimono, and Passenger — and she was part of the Grammy Award-winning songwriting and production team that cowrote Lisa Loeb‘s lead single on the acclaimed artist’s kids record Feel What U Feel. Additionally, the Aussie-born, British-based artist wrote “Darkest Hour” for the Amazon Original series Panic, performed by Tate McRae.

Chalker finally steps out into the spotlight as a solo artist with her full-length debut Hemispheres. Slated for a November 5, 2021 release through her own imprint 528 Records, the album received funding from the Australia Council for the Arts. The album was completed under the massive weight of the pandemic, and as Chalker grappled with the loss of her day job and heartbreaking health issues.

Much like countless others across the globe, she found herself spiraling and turned to music for the creative outlet she needed. Collaborating with friends across Sydney, Los Angeles and London, including Dan Long, Josh Humphreys and Chalker’s former We Are The Brave bandmate Ox Why, Chalker wound up finishing what would turn out to be a deeply emotional album. And interestingly enough, she managed to find much longed-for freedom in the process: “Releasing this album is terrifying and thrilling to me,” the Aussie-born, British-based artist says in press notes. “I grew up in a religion that discouraged us from pursuing career success, where women weren’t allowed on stage to address an audience directly. I think it’s why I’ve always tried to avoid the spotlight but, after the year we’ve all had, my perspective on things has changed quite a lot. I’m not wasting any more time doubting myself.”

Sonically, the album reportedly finds Chalker and her collaborators crafting material featuring guitar-driven hooks and retro synths paired with the Aussie-born, British-based artist’s expressive vocals. Thematically, the album deals with themes that explore the dichotomy between depression and hopefulness, self-doubt and self-love and more. 

Last month, I wrote about album “Don’t Fight It.” Cowritten by Chalker, Grammy Award-winning collaborator Rich Jacques and Martjin Tinus Konijnenburg, “Don’t Fight It” was co-produced in a transcontinental fashion across Los Angeles and London by Chalker and Jacques. Centered around glistening synth arpeggios, reverb-drenched drums. Chalker’s expressive vocals, the track hints at Peter GabrielKate Bush and Prince, while full of the bittersweet longing and uncertainty of a narrator who’s physically and emotionally lost.

Hemispheres‘ latest single is the breezy and defiantly upbeat “Stupid Trick.” Centered around shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths, Chalker’s plaintive vocals, the song thematically focuses on the innocence and desperately intense feelings of teenaged love, before gradually learning what love really is and what it really means. And while bringing up memories of Pat Benetar‘s “Love is a Battlefield,Rod Stewart‘s “Young Turks” and others, the song continues a run of material driven by Chalker’s unerring knack for paring earnestly written material with a razor sharp hook.

“I’d been reading Gael Garcia Marquez novels and watching a lot ofJohn Hughes films at the time of writing it, which I think definitely helped shape the concept,” Jess Chalker says of the new single.

Directed by Marcelo de la Vega with cinematography by Shane Benson, the recently released and gorgeous video for “Stupid Trick” is based on a short film script written by Chalker. Shot in London’s Postman’s Park, the video makes loving visual references to Charlie Chaplin, the classic 1956 French film, The Red Balloon and Before Sunrise.

Pre-order the album now via Bandcamp (https://jesschalker.bandcamp.com)

New Video: Princess Century Releases a Yearning and Cinematically Shot Visual for “Desperate Love”

Acclaimed Canadian-born DJ, producer and songwriter Maya Postepski may be best known for her feature-length film scores, global DJ gigs and her work collaborating with AustraPeaches and JOVM mainstay TR/ST. Postepski is also the creative mastermind behind Princess Century, a recording project that thematically and sonically is committed to submersion rather than submission. 

s u r r e n d e r, Postepski’s long-anticipated sophomore Princess Century effort is slated for an October 1, 2021 release through Paper Bag Records. Reportedly, the album finds the acclaimed DJ, producer and songwriting breaking away from the purely instrumental sound and approach that initially won her international acclaim, by showcasing her own lyrics and vocal performances. The process, as Postepski readily admits has been at times nerve-wracking and uneasy: “It’s like opening up my diary and saying, ‘Have a look, there’s a lot of weird shit in there,’” she laughs. “I’ve always been hiding in the back behind a band or behind a singer,” she continues. “It’s my first step into a more vulnerable and exposed place, which I’m finally okay with for the first time in my adult life. I guess I stopped caring about being shy or being insecure, or hiding who I am. I don’t like to be in the limelight, but life is short and I guess I should share who I am eventually.”

The album’s material was written between Narva, an Eastern Estonia town, near the Russian border; a tent in the Moroccan portion of the Sahara Desert without internet; and Berlin, where she became a resident at Riverside Studios. Postepski recorded the album in her room at the studio while Brazilian artist Julia Borelli engineered the album in her own space at the studio. Inspired by Steve ReichRóisín Murphy and Jorja Chalmer, the forthcoming 12-song album is centered around a minimalist aesthetic that emphasizes the use of repetition. “It’s sort of this minimalistic, pattern-based music,” Postepski says. “I play drums and synths, so those are my worlds. I’m obsessed with finding these beautiful landscapes with synthesizers and drum machines.”

Interestingly, s u r r e n d e r‘s title doesn’t refer to a white flag or throwing in a white towel but a surrendering of the self to everything around it. Fueled by the philosophy of “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final,” the album’s 12 songs thematically sees Postepski guiding the listener to though a maze of pure, unbridled emotion: the end result is material that’s rich and visceral yet offers healing through dancing your pain away. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “Still The Same,” a dance floor friendly track punctuated with a desperately unfulfilled and swooning yearning, evoked through pulsating synth arpeggios, skittering beats and Postepski’s ethereal vocals. The song’s narrator repeatedly tells its love object “You’re still the same/But I need you now/I need you more again . . .” “‘Still the Same’ embodies the mix of emotions that arise at the end of a relationship,” the acclaimed acclaimed Canadian DJ, producer and songwriter explains. “The longing and frustration, hopelessness and desire fused into a confusing cocktail. The inescapable need to feel held and seen by the one you were closest to, but can no longer reach, then pretending it’s all ok by going out on the town in a desperate attempt for connection.” 

s u r r e n d e r‘s latest single “Desperate Love” continues a run of dance floor friendly material featuring skittering beats, glistening synth arpeggios paired with Postepski’s achingly yearning vocal delivery and an enormous hook. But underneath the club friendly thump, the song is fueled by the bitter awareness that a relationship is on the brink — and that it may be too late.

Directed by Finnish director, Laura Hypponen, the recently released video for “Desperate Love” was filmed in a gorgeous and lushly cinematic black and white in Amsterdam and stars Sofia Hoflack as a lonely and heartbroken woman longing for connection, intimacy and erotic passion.

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Release an Upbeat and Optimistic New Bop

London-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have managed to bounce between chilly and atmospheric pop and shimmering guitar-driven, desert noir through the release of five albums: 2012’s Creatures of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures, 2016’s Dead Blue, 2018’s Slow Air and last year’s The Last Exit.

The Last Exit continued where its predecessor left off with 11 songs centered around shimmering and carefully crafted arrangements featuring organic instrumentation paired with Tessa Murray’s smoky crooning. Thematically, the album took the listener through a hypnotic and mesmerizing journey filled with dilapidated and long-abandoned towns, mysterious shapes appearing on the horizon and long trips that blur the lines between what’s there and not there.

Understandably, the album’s material was brought into further focus as a result of last year’s pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. “There’s always something at the end of the road and for us it was this album. Our plans were put on hold – an album set for release, tours, video shoots, travel,” Tessa Murray explained in press notes for the album. “We’d been touring nonstop for years, but we were forced to pause everything. We thought the album was finished but with the crisis found new inspiration and started writing again.” Three of the album’s songs — “Crying,” “Static,” and “‘Till We Meet Again” were written during this period and they reflect upon the profound impact of isolation and the human need for social contact and intimacy. 

Serving as the immediate follow-up to The Last Exit, the duo’s latest single “Heavy Days” is a propulsive and uptempo bop featuring twinkling synth arpeggios, a chugging motorik-like groove, shimmering Western-tinged guitars and a soaring hook paired with Murray’s imitable smoky vocals. Sonically “Heavy Days” finds the duo retaining the beloved elements of their overall sound — but while seemingly drawing from 80s pop.

Interestingly, despite the literal weight of it’s title “Heavy Days” may be the most optimistic and sunny song of the JOVM mainstays’ growing catalog. “Sometimes it all feels like too much, there’s a lot to take in reading the news all the time,” Still Corners’ Tessa Murray says in press notes. “We wanted to write a reminder to put the phone down now and again and get out there and live life to the fullest while you can.”

New Video: Courtney Barnett Releases a Gorgeous and Surreal Visual for “Before You Gottta Go”

With the release of 2012’s I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Farris EP and 2013’s How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose, the  Melbourne-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Courtney Barnett quickly received critical acclaim from outlets across North America, the UK and Australia for work that featured witty and rambling conversational lyrics, often delivered with an ironic deadpan paired with enormous power chord-driven arrangements. And although her success may have seemed like it came about overnight, it wasn’t; Barnett carved out a long-held reputation for being one of Melbourne’s best guitarists: she had a stint in Dandy Warhols’ Brent DeBoer’s side project Immigrant Union and guested on Jen Cloher‘s third album, In Blood Memory.

Barnett’s full-length debut, 2016’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit, which featured “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party” and the T. Rex-like “Elevator Operator was released to critical acclaimed across the world. Back in 2017, Barnett collaborated with Kurt Vile on the highly acclaimed and commercially successful album Lotta Sea Lice, which landed at #5 on the Aussie charts, #11 on the British charts and #51 on the Stateside charts. The Aussie singer/songwriter and guitarist continued an enviable run of critical and commercial success with her third album, 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel, which featured the motork groove-driven “City Looks Pretty.” Barnett supported the album with a three month world tour that included some of her biggest Aussie tour stops. 

The acclaimed Aussie artist’s highly-anticipated third album, the Stella Mozgawa-co-produced Things Take Time, Take Time is slated for a November 12, 2021 release through Mom + Pop Music and Marathon Artists. Centered around intimately detailed songwriting, Things Take Time, Take Time reportedly finds the acclaimed Aussie artist pulling the curtain back to reveal an optimistic and serene side. “Sometimes I try to say everything in one song, or put my whole belief system into a vox pop, but you just can’t do that — it’s impossible,” Barnett says in press notes. The album represents the realization that ideology is represented through the way you treat others, not what you say in a song — that some things are more felt than said. And yet, the album is full of the strangeness, busyness and undeniable warmth of life. 

Things Take Time, Take Time‘s latest single, the lovely “Before You Gotta Go” features a sparse and atmospheric arrangement that begins with a warm drone, before gently adding layers of twangy guitar, Barnett’s tender vocals, synths, drums and percussion in a slow-burning crescendo. But at its core the song is a deceptively complex song that’s both a frustrated kiss-off and a gracious and thoughtful love song centered around a bittersweet yet very real sentiment: that if something bad were to happen that the last words between you and your lover not be unkind. 

Directed by Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore, the recently released video for “Before You Gotta Go” is fittingly both lovely and surreal. We see Barnett, as an idiosyncratic, suit wearing ethnographer, collecting field recordings of trees, dogs, horses, mushrooms, insects and enormous statues and even plants with her own face, pushing through the ground. “Making this clip was an interesting experience for me,” Sangiorgi Dalimore says in press notes. “I love how brilliantly simple Courtney’s idea was, it brought real joy shooting part of it together, just me, her and my DOP with the other part being two long days directing over zoom across the Tasman Sea. I watch it now and feel that sense of peace, that potent calm you can only get immersed in the beauty of nature.”

New Video: Rising Pop Artist Charlotte OC Releases a Sultry New Bop

In the lead up to the release of her highly anticipated album Here Comes Trouble, rising London-based singer/songwriter Charlotte OC has released four attention grabbing singles “Bad Bitch,” “Forest,” “Bad News” and “Centre of the Universe” that have set the overall tone and vibe of an album that’s reportedly one of the honest and vulnerable albums the rising British artist has written and recorded.

Thematically, the album captures a woman whose life has been ripped apart: reeling from a bitter breakup, the material’s heartbroken and grief-stricken narrator attempts to pick up the pieces while facing her own demons and dysfunctions. “In the space of 2 months, everything that had once been, was no longer. My heart had been broken in a way I could never have imagined,” Charlotte OC recalls. “This resulted in me partying too much, not sleeping , hardly eating and smoking like a chimney. Self destruct mode, activated. I felt totally lost in space and nobody could bring me back to earth. Through this dark time I was forced to acknowledge things about myself, and sometimes not in the most positive way. This is me self-deprecating, this is me standing up for myself , this is me madly in love , horrifically heartbroken, angry , this is me praying to a god i don’t believe in about a life I couldn’t lead, because I had nothing left to lose I could not have made this album without the love and support I received from my producer, Couros, and the small bunch of co-writers I collaborated with on some of these songs. They picked both me and this album from the depths of darkness and helped me expel the demons into my work.”

Here Comes Trouble‘s fifth and latest single “Mexico” is a slickly produced, sultry bop centered around a sinuous bass line, thumping beats, shimming bursts of bluesy guitars, atmospheric synths and a soaring hook. The song serves as a lush, Fleetwood Mac-inspired vehicle for the rising British artist’s pop star belter vocals, which manage to bewitchingly express desperate longing, loneliness and heartache within turn of a phrase. Thematically and narratively serving as a precursor to the previously released “Bad News,” “Mexico” is the moment that the album’s narrator realizes that her relationship is falling apart — and that there’s no turning back. “I wrote this song when my boyfriend at the time was away with work and we weren’t speaking much,” the rising British artist explains in press notes. “I missed him a lot and wasn’t getting much from him, so this song is what I wished he was saying to me, but in reality he wasn’t saying a lot.”

The recently released video follows Charlotte OC as she sits by herself in a bar, drinking and smoking cigarettes, and full of regret, longing for her lover, who’s far away from home.

New Video: Slow Crush Returns with a “120 Minutes” Era MTV-like Visual for “Swoon”

With the release of 2018’s full-length debut Aurora, Belgian shoegazers Slow Crush — currently Isa Holliday (vocals, bass), Jelle Harde Ronsmans (guitar), Jeroen Jullet (guitar) and Frederik Meeuwis (drums) — exploded into the international shoegaze scene. And between 2018 and early 2020, the Belgian outfit supported their debut with relentless touring across the world with acts like PelicanTorcheSoft Kill, and Gouge Away — and with festival stops at RoadburnArcTanGent2000Trees and Groezrock.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Slow Crush was forced to cancel two European tours and a Stateside tour at the last minute. Interestingly, for Slow Crush, the pandemic was a bit of a blessing and a curse: The time off from touring allowed the and to re-think and re-group. Aurora‘s unexpected success and the demands of heavy touring had taken a toll on everyone’s personal lives. And it was intensified with a massive lineup change that resulted in two members leavingHolliday and Ronsmans eventually recruited the band’s newest members Jullet and Meeuwis to complete the band’s newest lineup. Shortly after the band’s newest lineup was settled, their label Holy Roar Records collapsed, leaving the band without a home. 

Hush, Slow Crush’s sophomore album is slated for an October 22, 2021 release through Quiet Panic. Written in between tours and the unexpected downtime during pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, the album’s material is heavily influenced by turbulent times — both personal and global. While further cementing their sound, featuring abrasive and whirling layers of guitars, thunderous drumming paired with Holliday’s ethereal vocals, Hush reportedly finds the band growing as musicians and songwriters. Although the album was informed by and inspired by the dark and heavy times, the material isn’t all bleak; in fact, it’s filled with the hope for a bright, new day.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the brooding album title track “Hush.” Centered around an expansive song structure with alternating dreamy and stormy sections featuring towering layers of feedback and fuzz pedaled guitars, thunderous drumming and Holiday’s sensual yet ethereal cooing, “Hush” expresses an aching and unreciprocated longing.

“Swoon,” Hush‘s latest single is a breakneck ripper centered around fuzzy power chords, thunderous drumming, mosh pit friendly hooks. And while the song’s arrangement brings Finelines era My Vitriol and Lightfoils to mind, Isa Holiday’s ethereal vocals sing introspective and impressionistic lyrics. The song can be read in a number of different ways: it could be read as touching upon the loneliness, uncertainty and longing that comes about as a result of a seemingly bitter breakup. But it can also be read as a desire to escape a bleak world through connecting with someone equally as lonely as you are.

Directed by Jeroen Jullet, the recently released video for “Swoon” follows young doppelgängers for Slow Crush as they hit the road for their next show in a van paired with footage of the band’s Holiday walking through the woods in a frenetically edited, 120 Minutes MTV-like visual.