JOVM celebrates Louis Armstrong’s 120th birthday.
Throughout the course of this site’s 11 year history, I’ve spilled copious amount of virtual ink covering Toronto-based punk trio and JOVM mainstays METZ. The JOVM mainstays’ fourth album, last year’s Atlas Vending found the band setting a goal for themselves and for the album before they set to work on it: they wanted to make a much more patient and honest album, an album that invited repeated listens rather than a few exhilarating mosh-pit friendly bludgeonings. Co-produced by Uniform’s Ben Greenberg and mastered by Seth Manchester at Pawtucket’s Machines with Magnets, the album sees the band attempting to intentionally craft music for the long haul, with the hopes that their work could serve as a constant as they — and their fans — navigated through life’s trials, tribulations and victories.
Sonically, Atlas Vending sees the band retaining the massive sound that has won them attention and fans across the world — but while arguably being their most articulate, earnest and dynamic of their growing catalog. Thematically, the album touches upon disparate yet very adult themes: paternity, crushing social anxiety, addiction, isolation, media-inducing paranoia and the restless urge to stop everything and just say “Fuck this!” and leave it all behind. Much like its immediate predecessor, Altas Vending offers a snapshot of the the modern condition as they see it. However, what makes Atlas Vending different is that each of its ten songs were written to form musical and narrative whole with the album’s songs following a cradle-to-grave trajectory.
As a result, the album’s material emotionally runs through a gamut of emotions — from the most rudimentary and simple of adulthood to the increasingly nuanced and turbulent peaks and valleys of adulthood. So in some way, the album finds the band tackling what’s inevitable for all of us: getting older, especially in an industry suspended in perpetual youth. “Change is inevitable if you’re lucky,” METZ’s Alex Eadkins says of the band’s fourth album Atlas Vending. “Our goal is to remain in flux, to grow in a natural and gradual way. We’ve always been wary to not overthink or intellectualize the music we love but also not satisfied until we’ve accomplished something that pushes us forward.”
METZ have developed and furthered a reputation as purveyors of abrasive melodicism and one of the planet’s most bombastic, contemporary live acts through relentless touring across the globe throughout both this site’s history and their history. Determined to connect with their fans and to find a way within the confines of the pandemic to create a live experience as dynamic as Atlas Vending, the members of the Canadian JOVM mainstays took the stage at Toronto’s Opera House in October 2020 to livestream their latest album in its entirety. Today, the band announced the official release of the live show, Live at the Opera House recorded by longtime collaborator Graham Walsh and mixed by Seth Manchester through all the digital service providers with bundles at Bandcamp and Sub Pop’s Mega Mart that include the full concert film, directed by the band’s longtime video collaborator Scott Cudmore.
There’s also a pre-order for a limited 1,000 piece vinyl pressing on tricolor (Black/White/Oxblood), which also includes a download of the full concert film. The LP can be ordered through megamart.subpop.com, METZ’s merch store, and Bandcamp, and will be available November 5th in select independent retailers in North America.
Now, as may remember I wrote about Live at the Opera House single “A Boat to Drown In,” which was also coincidentally, Atlas Vending’s first official single. While continuing the band’s long-held reputation for crafting enormous, aural assaults centered around layers of distortion pedaled power chords, thunderous drumming mosh pit friendly hooks and chorus, and Eadkins’ howled vocals, “A Boat to Drown In” also finds the trio subtly moving away from their grunge influences with the song possessing an oceanic heft.
“Pulse” is a seething and furious roar, full of the anxious and uncertain dread and that has become a part of our daily lives since the Trump Administration — and has continued through a deadly pandemic that has put most of our lives in disarray. The live footage finds the band delivering a blistering and forceful performance that’s shot with an intimate yet cinematic aplomb.
Rapidly rising Los Angeles-based punk act Kills Birds — currently founding members Nina Ljeti (vocals) and Jacob Loeb (guitar) with Fielder Thomas (bass) — was founded back in 2017 as a sort of secret musical side project for the band’s Ljeti and Loeb. The project evolved into a full-fledged band with the addition of Thomas. And since then, the members of Kills Birds have received attention locally and elsewhere for crafting material centered around jagged, post punk-like guitar driven melodies, slow-buying dynamics, and Ljeti’s urgent lyrics and delivery.
Kills Birds’ 2019 self-tiled full-debut, which featured the feral and uneasy “Volcano” was released to praise from the likes of NPR, Nylon, The Fader, The New York Times, Paste Magazine, Chicago Tribune. And they’ve been championed by the likes of Kim Gordon, Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, who invited the band to record their forthcoming sophomore album at this Studio 606 — and to join Foo Fighters for their November 10 Mexico City show. (I’m jumping ahead here but the tour also includes a December 14, 2021 stop at Elsewhere’s Zone One. You can check out the rest of those tour dates further below. They’ll also open for Sleigh Bells during their October national tour.)
Since I mentioned it earlier, Kills Birds’ sophomore album Married is slated for a November 12, 2021 release through Royal Mountain Records/KRO Records. Recorded at Dave Grohl’s Studio 606, the album is a brutal, intense and deeply personal account of an abusive romantic relationship fueled by struggles with power dynamics. While being deeply personal and cathartic, the album sonically oscillates between quiet and loud dynamics in a way that’s beautiful, aggressive and devastating.
“Rabbit,” Married’s first single is centered around alternating explosively loud sections featuring chugging power chords and thunderous drumming, Ljeti’s howled vocals and quieter sections centered around Ljeti’s hushed whispers. Sonically and thematically, the song evokes the shock, awe, revulsion and shame of a narrator in the middle of a dysfunctional and abusive relationship that has her questioning herself and self-worth. Plus, the recognition that this particular relationship is a defining moment of her life — one of which, every relationship of her life will compare in some way or another. The entire affair is devastating honest and unsettling.
“Lyrically, ‘Rabbit’ is about the experience of being in an abusive relationship with a powerful person,” Kills Birds’ Nina Ljeti explains. “To be with someone who was praised by the public, but hurt you (and others) in private really eviscerates your self-worth. There’s nowhere to turn for help. Like many people who share this experience, this particular relationship defined the majority of my young adulthood, and I’m still dealing with the emotional consequences of it.”
The band’s Jacob Loeb continues, “‘Rabbit” was the first song written for the new album. Despite being one of the harder-hitting songs on the record, it was originally written on an acoustic guitar at Nina’s house. The goal was for the chorus to have an almost disorienting quiet/loud dynamic which really came to life when we plugged in and all practiced it for the first time. We tried to make the chorus start so quietly that the listener feels like something went wrong with their speaker and has to kind of lean in to hear Nina singing before the repetition of “how could I?” abruptly and violently re-enters, startling them and making the emotion visceral.”
een film crew filming the band during a rehearsal take, which also includes someone oqccaiosnally pulling out a light meter. Intimately shot, the visual captures the band’s feral live energy — with Ljeti being an explosive and furious presence. Lteji, who’s an award-winning filmmaker herself says “It’s interesting to be on the other side of the camera for “Rabbit”, especially since the concept of the video involves an unseen crew doing a rehearsal take of our performance. though i had no problem relinquishing control as a performer for Susie (the director) it’s not something i’m really used to anymore. so it’s an exciting challenge.” The entire band adds “For ‘Rabbit’ we wanted to depart from the lo-fi aesthetic of our first record and come back with something that was super vivid, bold and direct. The idea was to capture the raw energy of our live performance, particularly from Nina, in the sterile and stilted setting of a film set, with the camera itself becoming this kind of ominous force that manipulates and distorts what it captures.”
French musical collective Monsieur MÂLÂ — Balthazar Naturel (sax), Robin Antunes (violin/mandolin), Nicholas Vella (keys), Swaéli Mbappé (bass) and Mathieu Edward (drums) —features musicians, who have played with a who’s who list of internationally acclaimed artists including De La Soul, Mayra Andrade, CHASSOL, Ibrahim Maalouf, China Moses and a lengthy list of others.
Last year, the act released their tropical and summery debut single “Misemo,” a genre-blurring composition centered around a sinuous bass line, soulful horns, twinkling strings and stuttering polyrhythm within an expansive composition. And as the band explained, their debut single encouraged the listener, whoever they may be, that sometimes you just need to dance, and it all go for a little while, at least.
Since then, the act has released a handful singles including “Lunitudine,” “Cor Anglais in E Minor (Op. 3)” that have received attention and airplay from Jazz FM, WorldWide FM, Music is My Sanctuary, Soho Radio, TSF and Le GriGri Radio. Building upon a growing profile, the French collective’s latest single “Koss 5” further establishes their genre blurring sound and approach. Centered around plucked strings, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, skittering drums, the slinky and expansive “Koss 5” features elements of funk, jazz fusion with some Makosa rhythms. As the collective explains the composition is an emotional tribute to Manu Dibango, who some of the band members have played with in the past.
Directed by Stan Amsellem, the recently released video for “Koss 5” features a collection of actors of various age groups playing as the members of the band as kids, as adults and as older adults. In some way, the visual plays to the power of music and creativity, suggesting that as long as one is creative, they’re forever young.
JOVM belatedly celebrates Chuck D’s 61st birthday.
JOVM celebrates MTV’s 40th birthday.
Rising Milan-based act The Gluts — Claudia Cesana (bass/vocals), Bruno Bassi (drums) and Nicolò Campana (vocals, synths) and Marco Campana (guitar) — derive their name from a term used to denote unsold goods and symbolically expresses a surplus of energy like the one that drives their work. Since their formation, the rising Italian quartet have established and honed an explosive psychedelic-take on noise through the release of their first three albums, 2014’s Warsaw, 2017’s Estasi and 2019’s Dengue Fever Hypnotic Trip.
The Gluts’ Bob de Wit-produced fourth album Ungrateful Heart is slated for an October 8, 2021 released through Fuzz Club and the album reportedly finds the Italian psych rockers making a decided sonic departure from with the material being rooted in a sound indebted to 70s punk, 80s hardcore and post punk — in particular, Fugazi, Gang of Four, Sex Pistols, Public Image, Ltd. and the Campana brothers’ obsessive with Italian and American hardcore punk. Recorded over a tireless week in which the band and their producer essentially lived and worked side-by-side in the studio around the clock, the Ungrateful Heart sessions were fueled by a forceful intensity and uncompromising fierceness. “Bob’s contribution to this album was essential. He pushed us beyond our limits. It was difficult, we can’t hide it, but it really was worth it,” the members of The Gluts say in press notes.
Ungrateful Heart’s latest single “Love Me Do Again” offers listeners a real taste of what to expect from the album: slashing and angular attack paired with scorching feedback, atmospheric synths, four-on-the-floor that builds up to a frenzied intensity paired with a snarled, old school punk rock vocal delivery and an enormous hook. The new single is a slick and uncanny mesh of Never Mind the Bollocks-era Sex Pistols and Mission of Burma — rooted in unadulterated hedonism. Written by the band’s Bruno Bassi while in lockdown, “Love Me Do Again” was “inspired by the different versions of the myth of Dionysus (the Greek god of wine, pleasure, madness and frenzied ecstasy) and an unexpected excitement caused by imagining how great it would be to be all together again. At the end of the song our fascination for The Sex Pistols can be felt, since Nico screams like Johnny Rotten.”
Directed by Brace Beltempo, the recently released and gorgeously cinematic visual for “Love Me Do Again” is set in ancient Roman times — but while nodding at Caligula and the anachronistic-style of Sofia Coppola, with characters wearing roller skates. Bassi explains ” “In the video Nico plays the role of Dionysus and Claudia a maenad. Dionysus is the God associated with irrationality and the excess(es) of life and that’s what is behind our own name . . . ”
The Milan-based act will be touring to support the new album with stops across mainland Europe throughout October.
JOVM celebrates Buddy Guy’s 85th birthday.
Currently split between Los Angeles and London, the acclaimed electronic music duo Mount Kimbie — Brighton-born, Los Angeles-based Dom Maker and Cornwall-born, London-based Kai Campos — burst into the international scene with their first three critically applauded full-length albums: 2010’s Crooks & Lovers, 2013’s Cold Spring Fault Less Youth and 2017’s Love What Survives.
Since the release of Love What Survives, the members of Mount Kimbie have been rather busy: they’ve produced tracks by an eclectic array of acclaimed artists including James Blake, Travis Scott, Slowthai, Jay-Z, King Krule and a growing list of others. In the past year, Mount Kimbie have produced and featured on tracks on Slowthai’s #1 album Tryon, and have designed and cerated music for Undercurrent, an immersive, interactive multimedia installation that address the climate crisis, that also features contributions from Grimes, Bon Iver and The 1975. They also provided production work on Dave’s critically acclaimed We’re All Alone In This Together and James Blake’s “Say What You Will.” Additionally, Mount Kimbie’s Dom Maker has contributed to the soundtrack of Oscar-winning short film Two Distant Stangers, co-producing with James Blake, the closing track, which features Travis Scott and Westside Gunn.
The acclaimed duo mark the fourth anniversary of the release of Love What Survives with the release of two previously unreleased and unheard tracks from the Love What Survives sessions — “Black Stone” and “Blue Liquid” as a free download by signing up through email and for pre-order on white label 12 inch vinyl. “Black Stone,” is an instrumental track centered around layers of reverb-drenched, twinkling synth arpeggios and a chugging post punk influenced groove.
Frank Lebon, a longtime Mount Kimbie friend, collaborator and art director recruited up-and-coming artist Peter Eason Daniels to direct, the recently released video for “Black Stone.” Shot in a grainy, security footage-like black and white in London, the video captures people waiting for trains or buses, getting on trains or buses and waiting on a train or bus. “The video is about waiting, moving and stopping. Collective moments of solitude experienced between one place and another,” Daniels says.
Deriving their name from a mid-century avant-garde photography movement, Seattle-based post punk outfit Fotoform — longtime collaborators and married couple Kim House (bass, vocals, synths) and Geoffrey Cox (guitar), along with newest member, former Death Cab for Cutie and The Long Winters member Michael Schorr (drums) — can trace their origins back to the formation of a previous project, the dark, goth-adjacent dream pop act C’est la Mort shortly after House and Cox married.
Specializing in what they dubbed “pointy-shoegaze,” C’est la Mort released their full-length debut through their own Dismal Nitch label, as well as various compilation tracks, including a limited split 7 inch with Stars for American Laundromat’s The Smiths’ tribute Please Please Please. After a series of lineup changes, House and Cox re-emerged as Fotoform in late 2016.
ouse and Cox released their Fotoform self-titled debut in 2017. Supported with tours of the West Coast and Europe, the album received airplay and praise both locally and nationally: Album single “I Know You’re Charming” was featured as a KEXP Song of The Day. The self-titled album was voted as one of KEXP Listeners’ Top 90.3 Albums of 2017 and it landed on several year-end lists, including The Big Takeover and Part-Time Punks. Building upon a growing profile, the band followed up with 2018’s Part-Time Punks EP, which was selected as one of The Big Takeover’s EPs of 2018.
Blue,” which was recored for voter outreach and the Christmas-themed “They Say It’s Always Lonely” to benefit local food banks. Both singles found the trio expanding upon their sound with the addition of synths. The trio went into the studio with Evan Foster to record the material for their forthcoming sophomore album Horizons in early 2020. And as a result of pandemic-related quarantines and restrictions, the Horizons sessions resumed a year later with Foster — and with Matt Bayles recording drum parts.
Slated for an October 15, 2021 release, Horizons reportedly finds the band pivoting even further from the towering wall of guitars-based sound of its predecessors towards a much more nuanced sound drawing equally from shoegaze, dream pop and post-punk: Pairing synths with layers of guitars and driving bass, the band’s sound seems indebted to the likes of The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Chameleons, Cocteau Twins, Slowdive and others.
Horizons’ latest single, the brooding “Running” serves as a taste of what listeners should expect from the new album: atmospheric synths, swirling layers of guitars, driving bass lines, thunderous drumming and soaring hooks paired with House’s ethereal vocals. Essentially, the new single sees the band pairing patient, painterly textures with forceful motorik pulse in a way that makes the song feel — and sound — like a slick mesh of Garlands-era Cocteau Twins and Souvlaki-era Slowdive.
“‘Running’ was the first song we wrote with the new lineup (myself, Geoff, Michael), almost a statement of purpose as we rethought how we approached our sound and writing,” Fotoform’s Kim house recalls in press notes. “With one less guitar we had more space to play with and fill- or intentionally not fill. It was inspiring, and in some ways freeing, to reconstruct and re-envision everything. I’d just started playing around with a drum machine and 16-track at home, and this one was a result of really stripping back everything to the bass and vocals and then building it up from there.
“At its core ‘Running’ is about peeling back the layers to connect with your innermost self. Summoning the courage, patience and stillness to distill it down and uncover what truly matters, to listen to our hearts and tap into the subconscious,” House says. “It’s about facing fears and insecurities and having the courage to go after what will truly make you happy (or “make your heart happy” as my dad would say), which oftentimes might be in the opposite direction of what we’re running toward, whether in relationships, life paths and choices, etc. The hardest thing sometimes is to look deep within and listen to ourselves, to follow our instincts and face what we may know is true but are too afraid to admit for fear of change, risk, loss, disappointment, or failure.”
House adds, “On a personal level, ‘Running’ was written in the midst of a period of significant change and reflection. I had just left my role as Footwear Design Director at Nordstrom. It was a whirlwind of a job I held for many years – one which required lots of travel in the US and Europe, intense long hours, and barely enough room for other passions or pursuits. It was rewarding, but almost all encompassing.”
The recently released video for “Running” manages to emphasize the brooding and trippy late night vibes of its accompanying song — all while being gorgeously shot and slickly edited.
Besides the new album, the trio — much like the rest of us — is looking forward to getting back to live shows and touring. They’ve also been writing and working on new material, including a split 7 inch with Savage Republic.