Tag: Xiu Xiu

Live Footage: Xiu Xiu Covers ZZ Top on AV Club “Undercover”

I’ve long been a fan of The Onion AV Club, as I think they’ve consistently offered some of most incisive and hilarious criticism of movies, movies and pop culture, written by some of the country’s smartest critics and writers. And it shouldn’t be surprising that for a long time I longed to write for them. Now, since moving exclusively to the interwebs, the folks at The Onion AV Club created the Undercover video series.  The concept behind the video series is pretty interesting — every season, the website’s writers and editors devise a list of songs that they would love to hear some contemporary artist or band cover.

The website’s staff then invites artists and bands over to their Chicago studio, where the invited band chooses a song from the AV Club’s list for that particular session — and then the band or artist records it in a live session. Here’s where things get truly interesting: Once a song is chosen and then covered, it’s crossed off their list, reducing the number of songs anyone else can cover that season, so if an artist or band is invited later on in their season, their choices may be much more limited than a band that was invited earlier. By doing that, it prevents having several invited artists or bands from covering the same sets of songs over and and over and over again.

And while revealing the influences and tastes of many contemporary acts, it also forces artists out of their confront zones, sometimes to a gloriously weird result — such as  They Might Be Giants’ boisterous  cover of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and Screaming Females‘ feral, punk rock cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Gwar’s thrash punk covers of Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams (And Into My Car),”  and  Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” which are so fucking awesome, that you need to check them out below) or to the “oh shit, I never thought that artist could pull that song,” like  Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater’s collaborative cover of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” And as you can imagine, sometimes the covers are straightforward — and other times, the band or artist brings a unique, never thought of take. Adding to the unpredictability of the series, they’ve had Shearwater cover Bowie’s Lodger in its entirety.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of this very strange year, you may recall that to start off the eighth season of Undercover, The A.V. Club invited the Seattle, WA-based indie rock blogosphere darlings Minus the Bear to their newly redesigned Chicago studio, where they played a forceful and lovingly straightforward cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.” Adding to a pretty interesting season of covers, The A.V. Club invited renowned and incredibly prolific experimental indie rock act Xiu Xiu into the studio, where they contributed a tense, manic, almost Devo “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”-like cover of ZZ Top’s smash hit “Sharp Dressed Man,” complete with a wild drum accompaniment that brings new life to an oft covered song. 

Along with their John Congleton-produced 11th full-length effort FORGET, which was released earlier this year, the members of Xiu Xiu will be releasing a split 7 inch with Italian band (r) and it’ll feature both bands covering ZZ Top. 

As Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart explains in press notes, “It took me a long time to come around to ZZ Top. When I was a kid i thought they were a joke band and their beards and campy sexuality freaked me out. Later on Xiu Xiu tours we would and still do always listen to the Black Flag tour diary Get In The Van wherein Henry Rollins mentions playing ZZ Top to all the punks in England, telling them it was the new Exploited record and watching them cry. 

This was funny and I thought hmmm .  . .

Then after watching a long jag of music documentaries, Billy Gibbons, of ZZ Top, time and time again was a commentator. He was always incredibly smart, clearly deeply devoted to the history of music and insane looking.  

We were asked by the AV Club cover’s series to play a song from a list they had chosen. Everything on the list was a bunch of 90s RnB that I was never into or lame-o indie rock EXCEPT for ‘Sharp Dressed Man.’

The stars had aligned. I had no idea what a radical guitar part it was and what a pleasure it was to learn, by the end of the song I had to have 4 different fuzz and distortion pedals on to make it as zonked out as it needs to be. 

Walking down the streets of Torino on tour and talking with dear friend and long time collaborator Fabrizio Palumbo of (r) and his husband Paul Beauchamp. I mentioned we were covering the song. They said very matter of factly, “‘Xiu Xiu as ZZ Top and (r) as ZZ Bottom. Let’s do a split 7 inch.’”

He sent in his perfect minimal, experimental, goth, cabaret version of ‘Gimme All Your Lovin.’ A perversion made in heaven was born. “

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New Video: The Brooding Visuals for Beliefs’ Buzzing and Abrasive, Industrial-Leaning Single “Comb”

Currently comprised of founding members and primary songwriters Jesse Crowe and Josh Korody, the Toronto, ON-based indie rock duo Beliefs have released two well-regarded full-length albums over the course of their seven years together — 2013’s self-titled debut and 2015’s Leaper. And although the band has gone through a series of lineup changes throughout their history, the band can trace its origins to a shared love of late 80s and early 90s noise pop and shoegaze. However, the recently constituted duo’s forthcoming, third full-length album Habitat, which is slated for a September 22, 2017 release through Hand Drawn Dracula Records. The album, which was engineered by the duo’s Josh Korody and mixed by Holy Fuck’s Graham Walsh features guest spots from Leon Tahenny, who’s played with Austra, Death From Above 1979 and Owen Pallet on drums and reportedly finds the band completely destructing, remaking and remodeling their self-conscious shoegazer-based sound to pursue an uncompromising new sound and vision, a a way for the band to find their own unique voice and sound. And interestingly enough, the period in which a band finds their own sound and voice may arguably be one of the most exciting and pivotal periods for any band. “I hope that’s the case,” says Crowe. “That’s always how I feel about bands, too – when you listen to something and it seems like it’s leading to a whole other element of a band, when you feel like you’re in the hallway about to open the door to a whole other space that this band is creating. And I hope that that’s what happens with us. We have no real plans at this point. We don’t want to be a ‘shoegaze’ band anymore.”

Interestingly, Habitat was the first time that the band’s founding duo had written an album together, and as Crowe continues, “we wrote 80% of it in a room in four days wth no previous material. It’s as spontaneous as can possibly be” — with material being derived from extensive jam sessions. Adding to the spontaneous nature of the material, the album was recorded and tracked in 16 days and was recorded with no grand design or plan at play; however, interestingly enough the material manages to be influenced by each individual member’s unique interests and obsessions while gravitating towards unfamiliar instruments and instrumentation. Lately, Korody has had an increasing interest in modular synths and avant industrial  sounds, partially influenced by his solo recording project Nailbiter while Crowe had been listening to a great deal of 90s hip-hop — in particular, Portishead‘s Third.  “It’s a dark record, for sure,”  Crowe says of their new album. “I feel like we were drawing a lot more from, like, me being a Goth teenager and Josh only wanting to listen to Aphex Twin and me only wanting to listen to Portishead’s Third for the last year and stuff like that. But also it was time to embody the elements of being a ‘wall-of-sound’ band with some space and the idea of being able to be quiet when you should be quiet, and you can’t do that with three guitars. There’s no space. It just becomes all push and no pull.”

Now, as you may recall I wrote about album single “1994,” a sleek and atmospheric Xiu Xiu, Antics-era Interpol-leaning single that was reportedly a sort of sequel  Leaper‘s “1992,” thanks in part to a song that eschews a traditional song structure; in fact, much like Antics, the song is focused on creating and sustaining a particular mood than whether a chorus should be placed in a particular part of the song or not. “Comb,” Habitat’s latest single is a noisy and abrasive, industrial and mosh pit worthy track consisting of layers of buzzing synths paired with forceful and propulsive drumming and shout worthy, nihilistic lyrics. And while nodding at Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, the song has an almost dance floor friendly stomp at its core. 

Directed by Andrew Matthews and Ivy Lovell, the recently released video for “Comb” features Crowe and Korody with the members of their touring band performing the song  at Toronto-based music venue Baby G under shadowy lighting and strobe lights. 

New Video: Beliefs Dark and Moody Cabaret-Inspired Visuals for “1994”

Although they’ve gone through a series of lineup changes and are currently constituted as a duo featuring its founding members and primary songwriters Jesse Crowe and Josh Korody, the Toronto, ON-based indie rock duo Beliefs have released two well-regarded full-length albums over the course of their seven years together — 2013’s self-titled debut and 2015’s Leaper; but the band can trace their origins to a shared love of late 80s and early 90s noise pop and shoegaze. Interestingly, the Canadian duo’s forthcoming third full, length effort Habitat was produced and engineered by the band’s Josh Korody and mixed by Holy Fuck’s Graham Walsh, who’s also mixed albums by Preoccupations, Alvvays and METZ, and features Leon Tahenny, who’s played with Austra, Death From Above 1979 and Owen Pallet on drums, finds the band completely destructing, remaking and remodeling their self-conscious shoegazer-like origins in pursuit of an uncompromising new sound in which the duo has stopped being defined by the sum of its influences and finds their own unique voice and sound — and that period can often be one of most exciting and pivotal periods for a band. “I hope that’s the case,” says Crowe. “That’s always how I feel about bands, too – when you listen to something and it seems like it’s leading to a whole other element of a band, when you feel like you’re in the hallway about to open the door to a whole other space that this band is creating. And I hope that that’s what happens with us. We have no real plans at this point. We don’t want to be a ‘shoegaze’ band anymore.”

Interestingly, Habitat was the first time that the band’s founding duo had written an album together, and as Crowe continues, “and we wrote 80% of it in a room in four days wth no previous material. It’s as spontaneous as can possibly be” — with material being derived from extensive jam sessions. Adding to the spontaneous nature of the material, the album was recorded and tracked in 16 days and was recorded with no grand design or plan at play; however, interestingly enough the material manages to be influenced by each individual member’s unique interests and obsessions while gravitating towards unfamiliar instruments and instrumentation. Lately, Korody has had an increasing interest in modular synths and avant industrial  sounds, partially influenced by his solo recording project Nailbiter while Crowe had been listening to a great deal of 90s hip-hop — in particular, Portishead’s Third.  “It’s a dark record, for sure,”  Crowe says of their new album. “I feel like we were drawing a lot more from, like, me being a Goth teenager and Josh only wanting to listen to Aphex Twin and me only wanting to listen to Portishead’s Third for the last year and stuff like that. But also it was time to embody the elements of being a ‘wall-of-sound’ band with some space and the idea of being able to be quiet when you should be quiet, and you can’t do that with three guitars. There’s no space. It just becomes all push and no pull.”

Habitat, the band’s third full-length effort is slated for a September 22, 2017 release through Hand Drawn Dracula Records and Outside Music and the album’s latest single “1994” is reportedly a sort of sequel to Leaper’s “1992” and is a sleek and atmospheric track featuring ominously cascading synths, shimmering and angular guitar chords and propulsive drumming — and while allowing enough room for Crowe’s husky vocals to float and dart around the mix, the track sonically reminds me of Xiu Xiu, Antics-era Interpol, and others but with an eerily spectral vibe; as though the track was possessed by the lingering ghosts of one’s life. And they manage to do so within a song that eschews discernible or traditional song structures; in fact, much like Antics, the song is focused on creating and sustaining a particular mood than whether a chorus should be placed in a particular part of the song or not. 

Produced and edited by Christopher Mills, the video features Crowe and Korody performing in a dark room cabaret style –but the video manages to bear the appearance of old VHS tape, as it possesses a grainy quality in between cuts, nodding at the quality of the video for “1992.”

Perhaps best known as one-half of acclaimed Brooklyn-based noise rock duo Talk Normal, an act that released two critically applauded albums, Sugarland and Sunshine and opened for the likes of Sonic Youth, Wire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Zola Jesus among others, Andyra Ambro (vocals, drums) saw the breakup of the band, as marking a major shift in her own creative process and an opportunity to start something completely new with her solo recording project Gold Dime, which has been performing live as a trio — with  Jessica Ackerley and Ian Douglas-Moore — since 2014. Interestingly Ambro’s Gold Dime has received some attention nationally as the live trio have opened for Lower Dens, U.S. Girls and Xiu Xiu. And after several years of touring, writing and recording material, Ambro’s long-awaited Gold Dime debut Nerves is slated for a June 2, 2017 release through Fire Talk Records.

Self-produced by Ambro, recorded by PC Worship’s Justin Frey, mixed by Jonny Schenke and mixed by Ambro’s former Talk Normal partner Sarah Register, the album is a result in marked shift in Ambro’s creative process with the material reportedly consisting of much more exploratory and experimental compositions, and as you’ll hear on “Shut Up,” Nerves’ second single, Ambro’s sound manages to effortlessly alternate between swirling, hypnotic drone and wild and abrasive dissonance while held together by a propulsive motorik groove. Ambro’s ironically (and somewhat detached) deadpan vocals float over the mix. And while clearly possessing an almost neurotic and anxious tension, “Shut Up” in particular focuses on the challenges of confronting the struggles to continue creating meaningful, interesting art when there seem to be larger forces against you — and those forces push, shove and taunt you in every possible way.

Seemingly drawing from New York’s early 80s No Wave, art rock, noise rock and post-punk the song — and in turn, Ambro’s latest work — manages to do in a way that’s uncompromisingly, defiantly and joyously weird.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While currently comprised of founder and primary member Jamie Stewart, Angela Seo and Shayna Dunkelman, indie rock trio Xiu Xiu have throughout the course of their history developed a reputation for restless experimentation and lately for a period of extraordinary diverse prolificacy — earlier this year, they released their critically applauded album Plays the Music of Twin Peaks, collaborated with renowned indie pop artist Mitski on a song that will appear on a forthcoming John Cameron Mitchell film, collaborated with Merzbow on an album, composed music for several art installations by renowned artist Danh Vo, wrote the score for an experimental reworking of Mozart’s The Magic Flute — and then they found time to write and record the material that comprises their forthcoming 11th full-length effort FORGET, which Polyvinyl Records will release on February 24, 2017.

Co-produced by John Congleton, who has worked with Blondie and Sigur Ros; Deerhoof‘s Greg Saunier and Xiu Xiu’s Angela Seo, the album features guest appearances by minimalist composer Charlemagne Palestine, Los Angeles Banjee Ball commentator Enyce Smith, Swans‘ Kristof Hahn and renowned drag artist Vaginal Davis. And as the band’s Jamie Stewart explains of both of the album’s title and its overarching theme, “To forget uncontrollably embraces the duality of human frailty. It is a rebirth in blanked out renewal but it also drowns and mutilates our attempt to hold on to what is dear.” FORGET is both the palliative fade out of a traumatic past but also the trampling pain of a beautiful one’s decay.”

“Wondering,” FORGET’s first single is a propulsive  dance floor-friendly single in which the band pairs layers of scuzzy, angular guitar chords with undulating synths, stuttering and skittering beats, brief bursts of twinkling keys and Stewart’s plaintive crooning with a swooning and anthemic hook — and while the equally shimmering and murky single sonically nods at Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back” and others, the song possesses and underlying tension between the known and unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tour Dates

Mar. 16th – Los Angeles, CA – Union

Mar. 17th – Escondido, CA – A Ship in The Woods

Mar. 19th – San Francisco, CA – The Chapel

Mar. 21st – Seattle, WA – Kremwork

Mar. 22nd – Portland, OR – Holocene

Mar 23rd – 26th – Knoxville, TN – Big Ears Festival

Mar. 30th – Detroit, MI – El Club

Mar. 31st – Chicago, IL – The Empty Bottle

Apr. 1st – Jacksonville, FL – The Sleeping Giant Film Festival

Apr. 6th – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bazaar

Apr. 7th – Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle

Apr. 8th – Harrisburg, PA – Cathedral Room at Der Maennerchor

Apr. 9th – Baltimore, MD – The Wind-Up Space

Apr. 11th – Jersey City, NJ – Monty Hall

Apr.12th – New Haven, CT – Bar

Apr. 13th – Providence, RI – Colombus Theatre

Apr. 14th – Portsmouth, NH – 3SArtspace

Apr. 15th – Boston, MA – Cambridge Elks Lodge / Hardcore Stadium

Now, if you’ve been frequenting JOVM for some time — especially over the past few months, you may be familiar with the Brooklyn-based sextet Starlight Girls. Over the last five years or so, the band have developed a reputation for a unique brand of  “noir-ish indie pop.” After releasing a well-received, self-produced EP, the band was opening for a diverse array of acts including Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Kate Nash, La Sera, Lucius, Tilly and the Wall, St. Lucia and Crystal Fighters, which expanded their profile nationally. Building on a growing profile, the band followed that up with a 7 inch single “7 x 3” which was produced by Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart. Interestingly, that particular single was something of a sonic left turn, as that single bore a resemblance to Sneaker Pimps and Portishead.

Produced by band members, Christina B and Shaw Walters, Starlight Girls long-awaited full-length debut, Fantasm was released last week. Much like the album’s previous single “Lodestar,” the album’s latest single “Fancy” is a shimmering and dance-floor leaning track consisting of what sounds like a horn sample, angular guitar chords, shimmering synths, four-on-the-floor drums to create a moody and seductive song that sounds as though it draws from Siouxsie and the Banshees and Blondie

New Audio: Starlight Girls Slinkily Seductive, Western Leaning, New Single “Hero”

Since their formation back in 2010, the Brooklyn-based sextet, Starlight Girls have developed a reputation for a unique brand of “noir-ish indie pop” and a live set that employs the use of video projections. After releasing a well-received, self-produced […]

New Audio: Starlight Girls Newest Single “Intrigue” Channels Siouxsie and the Banshees

Comprised of founder, keyboardist and vocalist, Christina B, Shaw Walters (guitar),Sara Mundy (backing vocals, keyboards), Tysen Arveson (bass) Josh Davis (drums) and Isabel Alvarez (backing vocals, keyboards), the Brooklyn-based sextet of Starlight Girls have developed a reputation for […]