Videos

New Audio: Los Angeles’ VOWWS Releases an Anthemic Hook-Laden Single

With the release of 2015’s debut effort, The Great Sun, which was recorded with longtime friend, mentor and renowned engineer Kevin S. McMahon, the post-punk duo VOWWS, comprised of Sydney, Australia-born, Los Angeles-based duo of Rizz and Matt quickly received attention for a sound that drew upon a diverse array of influences including classic Western, electronica, surf rock, metal, film soundtracks, post-punk and industrial rock; however, the duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort, Under the World, which continues their ongoing collaboration with Kevin S. McMahon, finds the duo reportedly eschewing the familiar post-punk and industrial tropes to allow much more hook for razor sharp hooks, direct vocals and richer, nuanced textures.

And with Under the World’s latest single “Forget Your Finery,” the duo pair angular guitar and bass chords played through layers of fuzz and other distortion pedals with thumping and propulsive drumming — but throughout the song there’s a deliberate attention to melodicism and crafting an infectious, arena rock friendly hook in what may be one of the more anthemic songs I’ve come across so far this year.

New Audio: Up-and-Coming Portland, OR-based Act Blackwater Holylight Specializes in a 120 Minutes-era Alt Rock Sound

Comprised of founding member, Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass), Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth), the Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight began as an experiment of what Faris’ own version of what should feel heavy both sonically and emotionally. “I also wanted a band in which vulnerability of any form could be celebrated.” But interestingly, as Faris explains in press notes, her current band can trace its origins to when Faris’ longtime band split up. “In my last band, I was the only female in a group of 6, so I wanted to see how my songwriting and vulnerability could glow taking the drivers seat and working with women.” 

As you’ll hear on “Sunrise,” off the band’s self-titled debut effort, the band’s sound meshes elements of Breeders-era alt rock and garage, swirling and towering shoegaze, psych rock and moody post punk with soaring hooks — and although the song manages to be reminiscent  of classic, 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock, the song structurally walks a tightrope between moody, slow-burning dirge, anthemic power pop within a fluid song structure that eschews the familiar verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus of the past. 

New Video: The Lush and Meditative Visuals for Rich Aucoin’s “Release”

Rich Aucoin is a Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based electronic music artist and indie rock artist, known as a collaborator and guest musician of his older brother Paul Aucoin’s band Hylozoists and as an solo artist. His debut effort, 2007’s Personal Publication EP was conceptualized as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas and he supported the release by going on a cross-Canada tour entirely by bicycle to raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada. When he was finished with his solo tour, he joined Hylozoists on a tour, but after a sudden shift from regular exercise to visually no exercise at all, Aucoin suffered with an iron deficiency; however, after recuperating, he went on a solo tour, running partial marathons between stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. 

During both of his early solo tours, the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based musician recorded the material, which would comprise his 2011 full-length effort, We’re All Dying to Live, an album that featured over 500 guest musicians, including Sloan’s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party’s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band’s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. The album was long-listed as a nominee for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize, with the music video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” winning a Prism Prize in 2013. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Aucoin released his critically applauded, 2014 effort Ephemeral. 

Slated for a March 16, 2018 release, Hold EP is Aucoin’s first batch of new, recorded material in over 4 years, and the EP’s first single “Release” which, features live drumming from Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff is a sprawling yet propulsive, club banger centered around layers of arpeggiated synths and thumping beats. Interestingly, the track finds Aucoin drawing from house music, and boom bap-era hip-hop in a way that’s reminiscent of The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method and others — but underneath the club banging swagger, there’s a zen-like tranquility.

Directed by Dave Hung, who may arguably be best known for his work on Kanye West’s “Famous,” the recently released video for “Release,” was filmed on four separate occasions off the coast of Nova Scotia, and features a suit-wearing Aucoin laying in the water, repeating the mantra of there being no shark attacks in Nova Scotia — while the video crew flew drones overhead, safely on shore. Primarily based around one, long and deeply meditative, photographic shot, the video manages to posses a creepy air as it forces to viewer to wonder if the video’s protagonist was at peace — or if he were dead. 

New Audio: JOVM Sylvan Esso Return with a Sinuous and Propulsive Dance Floor Friendly Single

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you’ve come across a handful of posts featuring JOVM mainstays and blogosphere darlings Sylvan Esso. And as you may recall, the duo of Mountain Man’s Amelia Heath (vocals, synths)  and Megafaun’s Nick Sanborn (synths, programming, production) have received attention for  a slick, minimalist yet propulsive and thumping pop sound that’s a radical departure from the duo’s previous, individual projects.

Continuing their ongoing run of critically applauded and commercially successful releases, the duo’s Grammy-nominated, sophomore effort What Now featured the duo crafting material that inched towards a self-assured and coquettish, dance floor and radio friendly sound as you would have heard on album singles like “Radio,” “Jump Kick Start,” and “Die Young.” Thematically, the material on What Now focused on a critical and deeply sobering question” where we do go now as a culture, when it feels as though everyone and everything is standing at a precipice?  And as result, What Now’s material was imbued with the urgency of our contemporary political moment. 

“PARAD(w/m)e,” the duo’s first single of 2018 — and the follow up to their critically and commercially successful sophomore effort, will further cement their reputation for coquettish yet forward looking electro pop as Heath’s come hither cooing is paired with a slick and glittering production featuring shimmering arpeggiated synths, hand clap-led percussion, thumping beats and a sinuous hook.  And while sonically being upbeat, lyrically the song continues in a similar vein as their sophomore effort, as it manages to be deceptively ambivalent — is a celebration of love or a celebration of survival at all costs? Considering the contemporary political moment, perhaps ambivalence at all things is par for the course. 

New Video: The Trippy Visuals for Trummor & Orgel’s Trippy “Metropolis”

Since their formation, the Uppsala, Sweden-based sibling duo Trummor & Orgel, comprised of Anders Ljunggren (organ) and Staffan Ljunggreen (drums) have developed a reputation for being one of their homeland’s in-demand instrumental duos, as they’ve collaborated with The Soundtrack of Our Lives’ Ebbot Lundberg, Weeping Willows’ Magnus Carlson and Peter, Bjorn, and John’s Peter Moren among others. Adding to a growing profile, the duo have played hundreds of gigs across the European Union, and they’ve had their music featured on a number of TV shows and movies.

“Metropolis,” the first single off duo’s forthcoming album Indivisibility finds the duo driven by the desire to create something completely original within the limitations of their instrumental setup of drums and organ. In press notes, the duo acknowledge that creatively speaking, freedom and limitation are “two sides of the same coin; music can become incomprehensible without a frame, but without freedom, it becomes fixed. Or if you want to, Yin needs Yang for unity. This has been the leading principle when working with the new album, to find the balance between the organic and the electronic, the dynamic and predictable, now and then; the balance between man and machine.”

Sonically, “Metropolis” finds the duo taking on a cinematic and retro-futuristic sound while nodding at jazz, jazz fusion and funk — but within an arrangement that has the duo walking a tightrope between the immediacy and looseness of two guys jamming in the studio and the deliberate nature of playing a written composition without betraying either. And interestingly enough, the composition also manages to evoke the movements of crowds of humanity rushing to and fro in a busy city. 

The recently released video features this duo performing the song underneath a heavily graffitied up highway underpass, as well as footage of ghostly figures suddenly appearing across the screen and footage of everyday pedestrians walking about a decidedly European city — all of which emphasizes the duo’s trippy sound.

New Audio: Meshell Ndegeocello Releases a Folksy Cover of Force MD’s “Tender Love”

Born Michelle Lynn Johnson to US Army Sergeant Major Jacques Johnson, a saxophonist and Helen Johnson, a health care work, the Berlin, Germany-born, American-based singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello was raised in Washington, DC where she attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Oxon Hill High School. When she turned 17, she adopted the name Meshell Ndegeocello, with the surname, as she has explained meaning “free like a bird in Swahili.”

In the late 80s, Ndedgeocello gigged around DC’s go-go circuit, playing with bands like Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence before unsuccessfully trying out for Living Colour’s bassist spot, after Muzz Skillings left the band. Deciding to go solo, Ndegeocello, has the distinction of being Madonna’s Maverick Records first signings and while achieving a fair amount of commercial success. Her collaborative cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp peaked at #3 on the Billboard Charts in 1994 and “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” peaked at #73 later that year. Adding to a rapidly rising profile, she collaborated with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a track for Red Hot Organization’s AIDS awareness, tribute compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which was named Time Magazine’s “Album of the Year.”  Her cover of Bill Withers’ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)” was a #1 Dance Hit in 1996 and was briefly featured in the major motion picture Jerry Maguire, and she landed Dance Top 20 hits with “Earth,” “Leviticus: Faggot,” and “Stay.” Along with that she collaborated with Madonna, playing bass on “I’d Rather Be Your Lover,” and contributing a verse at the last minute, after Tupac Shakur had criminal charges filed against him. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping “Never Miss the Water,” a single that landed #1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Charts and peaked at #36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with the likes of Basement Jaxx, Indigo Girls, Scritti Politti, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissette and Zap Mama.
Ndeogecello has also had her music featured in the soundtracks of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Lost & Delirious, Batman & Robin, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Talk to Me, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, The Best Man, Higher Learning, Down in the Delta, The Hurricane, Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom and Soul Men.

Interestingly, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feat of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromisingly, iconoclastic and unique artists of the past 25 years — and she’s been credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul movement, thanks in part to a genre defying and difficult to pigeonhole sound that draws from hip-hop, classic soul, rock, reggae, jazz and singer/songwriter pop. Adding to that iconoclastic nature, Ndegeocello has written and composed a musical influenced by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, titled Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin and she released a gorgeous tribute album to Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others.

The renowned bassist, singer/songwriter and rapper’s latest album Ventriloquism is slated for a March 16, 2018 release and the album will feature covers of songs by TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, all of which have been influential to Ndeogeocello’s work — but with a unique take. The album’s first single, her cover of Force MD’s smash hit “Tender Love,” finds Ndegeocello turning the slow-burning 80s piano ballad classic into a folksy, Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac track, complete with shuffling drumming, twinkling Fender Rhodes and harmonica. In my mind, what makes Ndegeocello’s cover truly fascinating is that she manages to completely eschew the 80s pop ballad cheesiness of the song, which makes it endearing 30 years after its release but without doing away with the song’s earnestness — while pointing out that the song manages to possess something that listeners far removed from the song’s initial release can grasp and connect to on a very visceral level. That’s what separates the great, timeless songs from the countless songs that will be forgotten 6 months or more after they’ve been released.  And on another level, the song will continue the renowned and iconoclastic Ndegeocello’s commentary on society’s narrow expectations of what black music should sound and be like.

New Video: Evidence Takes You on a Gritty Tour of Los Angeles in Visuals for “10,000 Hours”

Born Michael Taylor Perretta, Evidence is a Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer, best known as a member of the renowned hip-hop act Dilated Peoples with whom he has released four full-length albums. As a producer, Perretta has collaborated with the likes of Beastie Boys, Linkin Park, Swollen Members, Defari, Planet Asia and a co-production credit on Kanye West’s Grammy-winning, full-length debut The College Dropout.

The Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer’s 2007 full-length debut, The Weatherman, which was released by ABB Records, the long-time label home of Dilated Peoples featured tracks produced by Perretta, The Alchemist, Sid Roams (the production team of Joey Chavez and Tavish “Bravo” Graham), Jake One, DJ Babu, and DJ Khalil, as well as collaborations with the Dilated Peoples crew. However, by 2009 Evidence signed with Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hip label Rhymesayers Entertainment, who released his 2011 sophomore effort Cats & Dogs, an album that wound up being among his most commercially successful as it landed at #64 on the Billboard 200.

Evidence’s soon-to-be released fourth, full-length album Weather or Not is slated for a January 26, 2018 release through Rhymesayers is the first batch of new material since 2014’s The Alchemist-produced Lord Steppington, and with the release of the album’s third single “10,000 Hours” Evidence further cements his reputation as an incredibly dexterous and criminally unheralded emcee with the rhyme scheme in this particular track being ridiculous — all while discussing about how he spent time developing his own unique flow. With Evidence spitting over a swaggering DJ Premier production featuring squiggly synths, boom bap beats, a forceful bass line, samples from Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and GURU, the track manages to be a amalgamation of strutting West Coast hip-hop and stomping, menacing, old school East Coast hip-hop. But just as important, as I’ve relentlessly reminded readers of this site, real hip-hop, and not that prepackaged bullshit on your multinational conglomerate propaganda and advertising radio, is still out there if you’re willing to look for it.

Filmed and directed by Stephen Vanasco, the recently released video for “10,000 Hours” is a lush and cinematically shot black and white video in a number of gritty and underground Los Angeles sights before meeting with the legendary DJ Preemo.

New Audio: Jay Som Releases Previously Unreleased Single from Her Critically Applauded Debut

Melina Duterte is an Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, whose solo recording project Jay Som received national and international attention last year from the likes of NPR Music, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Stereogum, Paste, Consequence of Sound, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Spin, Newsweek, Exclaim!, Under the Radar and a number of others elsewhere.

Building upon a growing profile, Duterte, recently announced the release of two previously unreleased songs that were recorded during the Everybody Works sessions as a 7 inch single titled “Pirouette”/”OK Meet Me Underwater,” that will be officially released both on vinyl and digitally on January 26, 2018 through Polyvinyl Records. Both of these tracks were made during the spring of 2016 – the first demo stages  for Everybody Works. They were fun to write and record but felt out of place on the track list during the finalization of the album. These tracks remain close to my heart and I’m really grateful they’re finally out in the world,” Duterte explains press notes about her soon-to-be released 7 inch single. And as you’ll hear on A side single “Pirouette,” Duterte specializes in a jangling, hook driven, 90s alt rock inspired sound, reminiscent of The Breeders but with an incredibly bold yet breezy self-assuredness.  

New Video: The Mischievous and Illustrated Visuals for JOVM Mainstays’ Xylouris White’s “Only Love”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the genre-defying, world music duo Xylouris White, comprised of Melbourne, Australia-born, New York-based drummer Jim White, who’s best known as a member of the internationally acclaimed instrumental rock act Dirty Three and for collaborating with a number of equally renowned artists including PJ Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Cat Power, Bill Callahan a.k.a. Smog and others; and beloved Crete-born vocalist and laouto player Giorgos Xylouris, the son of renowned vocalist and lyra player Psarantonis Xylouris, and who is best known best known for leading the Xylouris Ensemble.
Now, as you may recall the duo can actually trace their origins to when the renowned Cretan and his ensemble was touring Melbourne in the early 1990s. And as the story goes, White was a member of locally-based avant-garde rock band Venom P. Stinger, when he had met and befriended Xylouris, who would later collaborate with White’s then future band, Dirty Three whenever Xylouris and his Ensemble were touring Australia. Unsurprisingly the collaboration between the members of the Xylouris Ensemble and Dirty Three became a rather fruitful collaboration based on a healthy, mutual admiration, as well as the influence of Xylouris’ father Psaratonis and Xylouris’ work and sound had on Dirty Three’s own sound and compositional approach. 

Strangely enough, although White and Xylouris had been friends and collaborators for more than 20 years, it wasn’t until 2013 that they decided that they should directly collaborate together, a process that was accelerated when the duo played together at a Nick Cave curated  All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. The duo’s long-held admiration and friendship constantly influences how they write, record and perform together — with their compositions frequently sounding as though they were dancing, as though at any given point, one instrument leading with the other one following and quickly shifting in a wildly fluid fashion. Goats, Xylouris White’s debut was  largely inspired by their creative approach, an approach that Xylouris poetically described as being “Like goats walking in the mountain. They may not know the place, but they can walk easily and take risks and feel comfortable. Really, the goats inspired us.”

Black Peak, Xylouris White’s sophomore album furthers the goat analogy, with the album’s title being derived from one of Crete’s most famous mountains; however, the album, which was “recorded everywhere,” as Xylouris jokes in press notes and produced by Fugazi‘s Guy Picciotto, found the duo expanding upon their sound as the material possesses a subtly modern take on traditional sounds and motifs — at points sounding as though it drew from classic rock, as you’d hear on album singles “Black Peak,” and “Forging.”

Mother, the duo’s third, full-length effort together is slated for release through Bella Union Records next week, and as Giorgos Xylouris explains in press notes, the album was named to denote “new life.” “Mother is the extension of Goats and Black Peak,” Xylouris adds. “Three things, all part of a whole. Goats are mothers, Zeus was raised on Amaltheia’s milk, Black Peak is Mother Earth . . . Mother Earth is the mother of everything.” Reportedly, the duo will further cement their reputation for having a fluid and mischievous chemistry in which they intuitively known exactly when to listen, when to accommodate, when to lead and get out of the way, and to find something completely new together. “A theme of the album is the significance of simplicity and a child-like approach,” Xylouris explains. “So, we connect mother and child and play instruments as toys. Xylouris White is still gestating.”

Mother’s first single “Only Love” is a rollicking and furiously passionate song featuring a roomy yet simultaneously dense arrangement consisting White’s propulsive rock ‘n’ roll-like drumming paired with Xylouris’ dexterous, power chord, heavy metal-like lout playing, accompanied by Xylouris’ sonorous and plaintive baritone. And in some way, the song evokes a swooning urgency of the pangs of first love, while revealing the duo’s mischievous and improvisational-like compositional approach. 

Directed by  Lucy Dyson, the recently released video for “Only Love” is a animated video featuring cartoon collages of Xylouris and White running to meet each other, riding enormous goats and chasing after anthropomorphic version of their instruments, that also ride goats. At various points, they’re all chased by skulls. It’s colorful, wild and downright mischievous. 

New Video: Miles Francis Returns with Slick Visuals for His Sinuous and Funky New Single

Miles Francis is a 26 year-old, New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who may be one of the city’s most best kept and accomplished secrets as best known as being a member of JOVM mainstays Superhuman Happiness, Antibalas and EMEFE, and as a working musician he has collaborated and performed with an impressive array of artists including Mark Ronson, Sharon Jones, Amber Mark, Angelique Kidjo, Allen Toussaint, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Arcade Fire’s Will Butler and others. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the past year or so, you’d recall that the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter released his debut single “You’re a Star,” which featured mischievously complex and propulsive polyrhythm, bursts of jerky and twinkling, 8 bit Nintendo-like synths around a breezily infectious hook wrapped around hushed vocals. But interestingly, his debut single is a bit of departure from his previously released work — while clearly drawing from Afropop and Afrobeat, the song also seemed to nod at Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads.

Building upon a growing profile as a solo artist, Miles Francis debut EP Swimmers is slated for a February 2, 2018 release. Written in the back of our vans and various hotel rooms while on the road and then recorded in his basement studio, the material reportedly captures the mood and vibe of someone in their early to mid 20s figuring out themselves, the extremely complicated and ambivalent world they’re confronting as adults, how they fit into that world, their purpose and the meaning of their own lives. As Miles Francis explains in press notes, “These five songs captured a raw time for me, when life seemed to be coming to a head. I made an effort not to touch or edit them too much once I had recorded them. I wanted to keep that intimacy in there,” he says. Interestingly, the EP’s first official single “Take It” manages to pair a swaggering and self-assured arrangement featuring arpeggiated synths, a sinuous, funky bass line, boom bap-like drumming with one of the most infectious hooks I’ve heard so far; but ironically, the song’s narrator finds himself fighting through crippling self-doubt and uncertainty, which creates a tense, deeply conflicted vibe to the song. 

Directed by Charles Billot and shot at Brooklyn venue C’Mon Everybody, the recently released video was choreographed by Blake Krapels and features the New York-based singer/songwriter along with dancer Lukasz Zieba, whose movements evoke the song’s tense and conflicted nature — while being stunningly beautiful to look at.