Thursday, September 29, 2016
So Cal rockers the Lovely Bad Things' Official video for Teenage Grownups, the title track off their upcoming 3rd full length (via Burger Records) looks and feels like it could be off a VHS tape watched in the back of Empire Records. The tape rolls and static courtesy of director Allyson Hernandez's keen eye and decision to use vintage video tape cameras makes the time travel feel so real. While the band's 2013 The Late Great Whatever had a few punk allusions to Star Wars, Teenage Grownups pays homages to Superchunk and quite possibly Polaris.
Last word is that the album drops either late this year or early next. We hope it is sooner than later! Rock on.
The video premiered on the super awesome Brooklyn Vegan
(all w/ Diarrhea Planet)
11/10 Los Angeles, CA Echoplex
11/11 San Diego, CA Soda Bar
11/12 Santa Barbara, CA Velvet Jones
11/13 Las Vegas, NV Beauty Bar
11/16 Santa Cruz, CA Catalyst
11/17 San Francisco, CA Independent
11/18 Sacramento, CA Blue Lamp
11/19 Crystal Bay, NV Crystal Bay Crown Room
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Yeah Every Now And Then I Like To Babble Incessantly On Youtube - Album Review- Pixies - Head Carrier
Those who know me personally know that I do not feel all that comfortable speaking to an audience and speaking to a camera... not easy so all the more reason to do it. I wrote my written review for The Pixies - 7th album Head Carrier about two weeks ago. You can check that out here. By the way, I want to thank all the people who took the time to read it and share their thoughts about the album with me via messaging and email.
So see me stammer and babble and I hope you share your thoughts about the album with me.
Fatal Jamz - Coverboy Out September 30th Via Lolipop Records and Burger Records- Float In A Glitter Pop Universe
If Fatal Jamz were a solar system it's planets would surely be multicolored and bright and it's main life giving sun would be made of pure glitter. The center of this glam universe would be Marion Belle. The first time I heard his provocative vocals was on the the title track of 17 and Hung and I immediately flashed on a dozen things at once. Within the tropical proto punk sway you could feel dashes of Bowie and Marc Bolan and on the fringes of the sound I thought of Syd Barrett too. The song From The Cradle To The Grave tossed on other iconic textures in a kind of Cure and The Smiths way on top of it all. The songs on 17 and Hung were recorded over a long span from 2007 to 2015.
Fatal Jamz full length recorded over a 3 year span is do to drop via Lolipop Records and Burger Records (on cassette) on Friday (September 30th). Listen to the title track Coverboy a song on roller skates amidst beams of disco light and the wistful 70's-ish Euro pop toned Jean Paul Gaultier.
Friday, September 23, 2016
Britain (you may of guessed) is not sunny enough for healthy vitamin D levels so they have to supplement to get there. You know eat the right kinds of fish and eggs etc so Gana's video for their rather sunny track Vitamin D feels so appropriate. The video is spunky and funny as we see this sort of disgruntled chap having a frustrated time trying to have a good time on a mini holiday.
The track is equally spunky and funky and jammy. The song bends and weaves, feels dodgy with dramatic breaks. The groove is deep and the atmosphere fun but twisted in that Space sort of way.
Vitamin D is out through 25 Hour Convenience Store and all good digital outlets.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Album Review: Pixies "Head Carrier" - Repentance, Heartbreak, Perversion And A Whole Lot Of Tenderness
The title song is steeped in the story of the Christian martyr Saint Denis who while the Bishop of Paris was decapitated and as the mythology goes picked up his own head and walked six miles while preaching a sermon of repentance. The track is big, dirty and brash in the best Pixies way and sounds so incredibly potent without feeling over produced. In a direct effort to shake things up Black Francis and Joey Santiago decided to move away from the familiarity of famed Liverpool Producer Gil Norton who worked on 1991's Trompe Le Monde, 1989's Doolittle, 1990's Bossanova and 2014's Indie Cindy (and related EP1 and EP2) to another English producer Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Killing Joke, Opeth).
This desire to move out of their comfort zone, to step up as it were has resulted in a defining record full of songs that have that Pixies proto punk punch but also have a sense of playfulness and new beginnings. It feels like Black Francis and the crew has once again found that youthful exuberance. Take, for example, the track Classic Masher with the half time drum beat done in that "Be My Baby" Ronettes sort of way. It conjures up an almost 60's sock hop torture tone while feeling earnest in an Americana rock kind of way. I mean Bruce Springsteen could do this song and it wouldn't sound odd. I say this not in a derisive way, the song hooked me in immediately with the sweet non pretentious vibe and jubilant chorus.
Might As Well Be Gone also has a decidedly heartbroken sound tucked in the mid tempo heavy bass and beat, "We could meet tonight, but you're only a ghost... you might as well be gone." Don't get me wrong, the albums tone is not all hazy eyed and dreamy. In Baal's Back, a heavy full lean in rocker, Black Francis spews venom like only a wronged vengeful deity could do. The dude can still scream like no other. On the track Talent the Pixies jam and rip in and around this Stranglers inspired rocker. When you listen to a song like Tenement Song it has so many individual killer parts. Joey's guitar lines amidst all the fury is ridiculous, just fucking ridiculous as are the Lovering's drums and Paz's walking bass lines. Come to think of it, Joey's guitar work is so utterly creative and ferocious on this album that Baal's Back might just be about him in all his rock God glory.
My favorite song (at the time of this review ) is by far Bel Esprit. From the building intro with pretty guitar sounds that tweak and harmonize with each other to Black Francis and Paz's back and forth and then together vocals to Joey Santiago's cool guitar melodies and Lovering's solid drumming Bel Esprit is a beautiful swaying production. Apart from deciphering the code of the lyrics, plastic crucifix and all, there is something so uplifting here in the sound. This song is a big wide smile whether it is hiding something dark or not.
While Bel Esprit could not exist without Paz Lenchantin's vocal counterpoint it is the following track All I Think About Now that solidifies her entre into the Pixies. Washed in a nostalgic Surfer Rosa sound and written by Black Francis and Paz and sung solely by Paz it feels like a homage to the Pixies of years ago as well as a wide wet eyed look forward, "I try to think about tomorrow, but I always think about the past" and "Remember when we were happy? If I'm late can I thank you now?" The opening lead guitar evokes the lead lines of Where Is My Mind. Joey Santiago's stunningly simple B and E strings lead accompaniment was /is perfection and must be one of the most recognizable licks in rock history. Again that kind of perfect simplicity is an addictive hook in All I think About Now. I am not sure if this is a nod to the past but it makes for wonderfully wistful sound. Paz's vocal performance is smoothly somber and there is a touch of fatalism in her starry eyed approach. This song feels like Paz's girl scout oath into the Pixies club. She brings a ballsy sweetness to the band.
Black Francis sings, "I see her body swaying I hear her fingers playing... her parlor grand. Please I wanna be in your band" in the cagey and so catchy Oona. Love this track and am intrigued by it's story. It's got big guitars and creates an abstract dynamic atmosphere. A Pixies record would not be complete with a dip into the shallow (or deep if you prefer) distractions of life and so we have the exploration of rural roadside prostitution in Belgium and France in Um Chagga Lagga. The song seriously jams hard and I flash on Isla De Encanta from Come On Pilgrim hard with the free wheeling beserk sound of this track. I also am feeling that Stranglers vibe here (?).
Plaster Of Paris completes the circle of Christian martydom. "I can't dance but I don't wanna bore ya... last line from the cephalaphore (Saint Denis)" and while this song ties up loose ends thematically, it (for me) doesn't connect with me as much as the others. The last track All The Saints is so very dreamy (is that an organ or guitar?) and feels like a swan song of sorts. It has those eternal questions that really don't need answers, "Wondering why I'm still here... too many times I had fear trying to be near you."
Over the past few months the Pixies have released a few of these songs. Some I loved and some not so much. Hearing Head Carrier in it's totality and any reservations I had over this album have disappeared. Upon first listen I fell in love with it and with each listen (8 times in a row thus far) it gets better, bigger and deeper each and every time. Over the years the Pixies songs have become somewhat less lyrically abstract, and Head Carrier obviously has softer edges overall than the violent imagery of Surfer Rosa but there is still dysfunction, political and personal subversion and perversion residing in the lyrics. The sound on Head Carrier- the melodies and progressions have a tenderness and sweet vibe to them bending some of the inherent ordeals of life into something poignant. Head Carrier also feels like more than just an album, it feels like a stellar introduction to the newest Pixie and a farewell to a former Pixie who walked away. It feels like some kind of bright new beginning. The songs on Head Carrier are full of that furious stormy ocean that is and always will be the Pixies sound. This time around that tumultuous sea calms enough to be reflective.
Head Carrier drops September 30th, 2016
AP Essential tracks: Bel Esprit, Oona, Might As Well Be Gone, Tenement Song, All I Think About Now, Classic Masher, Head Carrier, All The Saints, Talent
You can hear the entire album on Youtube here.
My babbling review on Youtube
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Animal Lover EP and Video by Daisy Victoria - Pure Passion, Doses of Weirdness, Mysticism, Goth Rock and Baroque Pop
Holy Peace off of Daisy Victoria's latest EP Animal Lover has a deliciously dark sound. It is heavy with fingernails digging in deep in a post punk 80's jag veering into goth rock. Musically, tonally I actually thought of Billy Idol a bit and of The Cult and oddly (or maybe not) even Black Sabbath. Daisy puts out her own spin though and a stellar voice that evokes pure passion and doses of weirdness equally on the fringes of mysticism, psychedelic druggy tones and baroque pop.
The title, Animal Lover, track spun me around and I flashed on Kate Bush a bit as well as Garbage and Siouxsie and the Banshees and PJ Harvey. Daisy's aesthetic is refreshing in today's landscape. She reaches for a twisted kind of art while still writing strong (dare I say) pop hooks. The last track Dark Water feels like full blown stadium rock, trippy and anthemic. Guitars stalking and poised beautiful vox from Daisy as she massages out every once of drama. Flick on your cigarette lighter and hold it above your head.
Animal Lover was recorded with producer Dan Austin (Pixies) and co-written with her brother Sam.
As directed by visual artist Jonas Bjerre (who also fronts the Danish Alt/ Rock band MEW) Agnes Obel's video for her single Golden Green from the upcoming album Citizen Of Glass is a mesmerizing other worldly vision. Agnes Obel's evocative singing with her vocal chords resonating more like an instrument than a vehicle for speech pitches and stretches the words into amazing places making the lyrics almost sound like another language. This style only draws you in more to decipher the poetry.
Bjerre's fantastical imagining feels equally alien. You see what appears to be creatures made of light and alien worlds. Haunting yet gentle beings with almost mouse like heads. If this was a trailer for a movie, this is a movie I would WANT to see. Of the project Bjerre said,
"I was honored to take on the task of making a video for this beautiful song. The bells that emphasize the rhythm through the song, for some reason they made me think of blinking lights, and glass- glass being a recurring theme in Agnes's new songs. As she told me more about the song, I stared having ideas for some kind of internal world, maybe a world inside someone's head, where various thoughts and feelings are in opposition, depicted as animated versions of Agnes struggling to find harmony."
GOON ANNOUNCE "MYSTERY BOX EDITION" CASSETTE OF THEIR DEBUT EP DUSK OF PUNK
CASSETTE FEATURES THE "FIRST" DUAL COLORED CASSETTE, HIDDEN MESSAGES WITHIN ARTWORK, SECRET SONGS, AND MUCH MORE
LIMITED EDITON OF 50
DUSK OF PUNK OUT
DUSK OF PUNK EP
"(Green Peppers) A weird and charming new track that sums up what's exciting about Goon's pop-tinged grunge...Killer debut EP..."
"What's remarkable about the suitably titled 'Scab' is that the more you peel off, the more it reveals. Like a low-strung Pixies song or an early Wolf Alice number, stark beauty shares space with gloomy feedback. It's a fascinating introduction..."- DIY Mag
"(Dizzy) A sweetly warped love song...a gently lo-fi wall of warped, syrupy grunge riffs"- Spin
"One first impression (albeit, a very good one!) is not enough to make a clear assessment of where the band is headed, but to think they've already written such a tuneful song that connects on more than one level proves that they are onto something special."- Deli Magazine
"...something about the easy-going style reminded me of one of my all-time favorite bands, Pinback." - Indie Shuffle
Melodic lo-fi grunge rockers Goon have announced a special "Mystery Box Edition" cassette for their upcoming, debut EP Dusk of Punk.
Aside from releasing the record through the standard forums (digitally and on CD) the band really wanted to create a physical version that was something equally unique and interactive.
It seems like almost every band is trying to do "special" vinyl which of course has created a thing where "special" vinyl isn't that special any more. So, instead of going the vinyl route and doing some wacky colors or stuff like that (and of course for budgetary reasons) they started talking about cassettes.
The underground music scene has really gravitated towards cassettes. With the huge success of Burger Records and Lolipop Records, cassettes have almost become a fully accepted format again (hell even Lady Gaga released a cassette.)
But, again. EVERYONE does cassettes so the band started talking about how to make them unique.
Hence, Goon's Dusk of Punk "Mystery Box Edition" cassette.
A few highlights...
- Each cassette is hand made. The band ordered two colors of cassettes, yellow and red, used a tiny screwdriver, unscrewed them all to combine the colors therefore, creating the "first" dual colored cassette... at least from our research.
- The tapes also have hidden songs on each side. There are multiple variations of which secret songs will appear on the cassette. There are a total of 5 songs that people might receive. Some are even in reverse with different speeds so unless you have a player that can play the cassette in reverse or adjust the speed, you won't be able to know how it actually sounds.
- There are also hidden messages on the tapes j-card. For instance, if you put a red light to it, it will reveal hidden messages. Some secrets on the cassette might not even be revealed for another year or two!
There are a few other things hidden on / in the cassettes but we'll save that for people to figure out!
Pre-sale link and hear "Dizzy":
Goon is the project of LA-based musician and visual artist Kenny Becker. With a medical condition that periodically deadens his sense of smell and hearing, Becker began writing songs as a means of making the most of his life when those symptoms were absent. The results, Dusk of Punk, are a murky blend of smoldering guitars, melodic hooks, and batter-ram rhythms that serve as the musical translations of a mind that's routinely betrayed by its own body.
Their debut EP Dusk of Punk pushes the boundaries of standard "lo-fi" music with both it's diversity in songwriting and it's somehow incredibly layered composition. The production is lo-fi but incredibly full and lush sounding. Their songs are loud and fuzzed out but are anchored down by beautiful harmonies. Even acoustic based songs are rounded out by delicate synths, drum machines or the occasional radio sample. The end result is a diverse and incredibly complex record that evolves with each listen.
Dusk of Punk is out independently.
Monday, September 12, 2016
The Dusk of Punk EP by Goon set off so many bells and whistles off in the pleasure centers of my brain and as those synapses fire off there is a certain unmistakable giddiness in the sense that as good as these songs are they might hold the promise for a band who turns into one of those iconic things. Now all this happiness might be due to the fact that Goon does sound a bit like the ghosts of some great bands or to put it nicer that they just might be cut from the same iconic cloth. I mean when the lanquid mid-tempo almost drunken sway of Dizzy wraps around you full of bendy guitars and the rebound sound of a huge airplane hanger you can't help feel a Pixies vibe. That vibe is present in the razor blade gutteral screams and choppy stomp of Merchant Hall too. Gay Rage took me to a kind of Kinks "Tired Of Waiting" feel if it was done by Chad and the Meatbodies. Green Peppers has a bedroom recording feel. Apart from what sounds like an organ, it has a stoner around the camp fire psychedelic tone. I love it and it made me think just a little of MGMT blended with Kurt Vile as did Slab Roller which is so beautifully wistful.
Now, I apologize for bringing up so many other bands in this review. I usually don't and truthfully Goon doesn't sound like they are usurping anyone else's sound at all. It is me. They bring up a comfortable amazingly lovely reflection of some iconic sounds in my mind. Maybe the biggest surprise on this captivating EP is Scab. The upfront guitar licks washed over by a wall of vocals feels as beautiful and dreamy as a Northern California fog. The song is a constant slow build up with some static radio sounds that serves as hazy memories. It builds and builds and then ends. The end doesn't feel abrupt, it feels perfect and kind of sad.
Dusk of Punk by Goon comes out September 16th for download as well as a 50 only "Mystery Box Edition" cassette version featuring hidden messages, secret songs and more. Find out more here.
- Robb Donker
Saturday, September 10, 2016
Two of the songs on XURS's self titled album have the word "mass" in them. That makes absolute sense. Mass In Descent feature dissonant sounding chords half stepping around while lead vocalist Shane's wide eyed strident performance matches the tilt of the chords. His vocals feel more like the ramblings of that homeless man in the neighborhood who goes off from time to time, "I don't know when the wheels came off."
Giant Mass is even heavier, in fact, super heavy with that same kind of choppy descent into staccato driven chord strikes and stabs. The sound is full on experimental punkish rock. Think of Pere Ubu's 70's art rock blended in with the massive garage power of Metz and the discordant noisy jazz punk rock of The Flying Luttenbachers. The track Entitled is mad but exquisitely beautiful too in the way the guitar lines crazily dance with such headbanging rock precision. I'm Down feels like something a jazz fusion band would come up with after their minds were fried on something.
Often times this kind of cagey proto punkish free form style seems to be embraced by bands that keep the sound bright with some jazz tones too (like Zappa or Captain Beefheart or Rudy De Anda's incarnation Wild Pack of Canaries) but XURS for the most part uses the sledgehammer approach. Sure I'm Dumb is as furious as any Blag Flag song with progressions that change as quickly as a strobe light. The Order of Things also feels right at home in a dark and sweaty punk venue.
When I listened to I Don't Have To I imagined the Sharks and Jets in West Side Story (see below) in an angsty emotional breakdown. And maybe that is the crux of what XURS does. Their songs don't feel like songs as much as hyperbolic artistic explosions of anxiety and afterwards you feel calmer for having experienced all the vented rage.
Friday, September 9, 2016
Baby Baby Tease Their Semifamous Album with release of JEEZ and Krew Love PT II - OFFICIAL VIDEO (S)
Atlanta's Baby Baby released a two song homage to the 70's Show in celebration of their upcoming album Semifamous due out September 16th. The videos are more like one video each sharing different songs namely Jeez and Krew Love PT II. It is like watching a movie with alternate endings or, well.... alternate songs. Both songs have their signature blast of exuberant indie pop punk. If you haven't heard Baby Baby they have the raw kinetic energy of Japandroids meets Diarrhea Planet meets Andrew WK meets Block Party.
Frontman Fontez Brooks explains why the band chose to use the same imagery for two different songs:
“Partying is an art. And like art, its complexities encompass all aspects of life. Every soirée needs a soundtrack and that’s what we’ve provided. ‘Krew Love’ and ‘Jeez’ are the yin and yang to the party. ‘Krew Love’ is that perfect moment when life is good. When you’re partying with the people you love and you’re like 92% sure you’re going to get laid tonight, while ‘Jeez’ is 3 hours after that when you’re throwing chairs screaming ‘IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT?! HUH?! YOU WANTED CRAZY GUY?! WELL HERE HE IS!!!!’ In other words ‘Krew Love’ is Happy Drunk and ‘Jeez’ is sad drunk. When sad drunk takes control there’s that moment where you should just give up and go home, but what if you don’t? You’re agitated, sad, and so wasted; your emotions come pouring out of you in the most extreme way. Imagine having an outer body experience as you ruin your life and yet you can’t stop yourself. So when it came time to brainstorm video ideas for ‘Jeez’ we realized we already shot the video. Parties are awesome because getting drunk acts as a veil, hiding your deepest insecurities. Until the veil hardens creating a self-inflicted tomb. Then you’re just the drunk guy at the party laughing and crying at the same time. Decorating your deathbed.”
BABY BABY Fall Tour Dates
Sep 29 – Birmingham, AL – Syndicate
Sep 30 – Tuscaloosa, AL – Green Bar
Oct 20 – Nashville, TN – Basement
Oct 21 – Chattanooga, TN – JJ’s Bohemia
Oct 22 – Athens, GA – Caledonia Lounge
Oct 23 – Asheville, NC – Sol Bar
Oct 27 – Charleston, SC – Royal American
Oct 28 – Greenville, SC – Radio Room
Oct 29 – Knoxville, TN – Scruffy City Hall
Oct 30 – Raleigh, NC – Neptunes Parlour
Nov 02 – Annapolis, MD – Metropolitan Kitchen
Nov 04 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
Nov 05 – Philadelphia, PA : Milkboy
Nov 09 – Richmond, VA – The Camel
Nov 11 – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506
Nov 12 – Augusta, GA – Sky City
Nov 17 – Savannah, GA – The Jinx
Nov 18 – Columbia SC – New Brookland Tavern
Nov 19 – Macon, GA – Hummingbird
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Norway's Highasakite - Official Video for "Golden Ticket" from Camp Echo Sparkles (and current Tour Dates)
In the video for Golden Ticket from Highasakite's latest album "Camp Echo" as directed by Øystein Moe, Alexander Somma and Line Klungseth Johansen features Ingrid Helene Håvik framed in a lush atmosphere of fluorescent blue specks, gold paint and laser lights but it isn't the sparkle that pulls you into the imagery but instead it is Håvik's penetrating stare and artistic allure. And such is the case with the song itself, whether framed in lush indie pop or in a more stripped down performance (also see HAAK's NPR Tiny Desk session below) Ingrid's emotional vocal artistry is at Highasakite's core possessing this quality that captivates.
Highasakite's previous record, 2014’s‘Silent Treatment’ recently celebrated a massive two-year milestone in the Norwegian Top 40 Chart, and their latest album, ‘Camp Echo’ has hit over 10 million streams on Spotify despite it only being released in May.
HAAK had a hefty tour schedule this summer, including festival billings at The Great Escape, Latitude Festival, Roskilde Festival andØyafestivalen. Additionally, fresh from making their Glastonbury Festival debut, Highasakite will perform at the 23rd annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert on to honor this year’s Nobel Laureate (awarded ) and help spread the message of hope, courage and global peace. Amazing.
Go HERE for current Tour Dates.
Go HERE for current Tour Dates.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Brooklyn based Thick's new track Anymore with it's staccato lead lines blasting off around crashing drums and soft harmonies is an exercise in opposites. Abrasive and soft, straight forward and angular, carefully poised and chaotic. I really love the sound here. It is a direction and formula that feels like their own and (dare I say) a step up from some of their earlier stuff.
Anymore is also the first single off of the trio's self released EP called "It's Always Something" dropping 10/30/16. Awesome!
Pixies "Tenement Song" Weird Must See Video- Did I Just See Lou Reed, The Log Lady, and A Guy Screwing A Giant Rodent?
In the video for the Pixies song "Tenement Song" a slice of the upcoming "Head Carrier" album (due out Sept. 30) I think I saw Lou Reed ripping out his heart as well as Charles Manson and maybe even Black Francis. A guy who reminded me of Billy Corgan, a hint of the Log Lady, Twiggy maybe, maybe Bowie and a creepy guy screwing a giant gerbil. Or maybe I was just imagining it. It is all freaking nuts and super interesting and conceived by Krank! Collection (Neirin Best, Lianne Pierce and Xavier Burrow) and adds another layer to the song that comfortably sways mid tempo style as Black Francis tells his semi somber tale with a big chorus and scrunchy delicious lead and Paz's Kimchi backing vox.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Agnes Obel - "Citizen Of Glass" Blends and Bends Dark Folk, Classical, Experimental and More Into A Trippy Masterpiece
It is this utterly artistic and, to me, proto punkish (at heart) approach that started creeping under my skin as my curious nature lead me to You Tube to find more of her work. I quickly found Familiar also off of Obel's new album Citizen Of Glass and all the edgy confinement of my stressful day started falling off me. Familiar's sort of circular rhythmic cadence sometimes punctuated by a single note on the keyboard that gives way to a stunning wash of interweaving male and female vocals enticed me. Stoic Cellos pull you in too. This track feels like the most accessible, most commercial on the album.
Other songs like Stretch Your Eyes are something else entirely. The percussive bass line along with Obel's full low tones are so utterly engaging. The sultry cadence feels mischievous and has dashes of 1930's jazz / blues. The song shifts as you hear breaths and string sections bending uncomfortably creating this alluring uneasy tension. This is such trippy beautiful stuff. When the hurried pulse of the instrumental Red Virgin Soil starts I am reminded of the third stream classical experimentalism of Moondog, Condor Gruppe and of Philip Glass. Mysterious and slightly askew it is a kind of orchestral dance on a very, very cool groove.
My favorite song on the album is the masterful It's Happening Again. I have listened to this song at least 25 times and every single time I feel a hush of goosebumps skate across my arms. It happens at the very beginning. This song just gets to me. Obel's voice with it's rich low end and touch of grit is so incredibly beautiful and sad. Her emotions are fully coated on each sound, each consonant. I immediately flashed on Mai Yamane with The Seatbelts and their work with Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop) while listening to this song. Obel has taken what is ostensibly a beautiful piano ballad and turned it into a haunting affair with a wall of upfront vocals that are whispy and over modulated at the same time. The swelling music and almost mantric chorus wraps around you. Apart from the truly engaging melody, the frayed organic sounds (that feel like that are massaged through a synth blender) create an atmosphere that feels supernatural and off kilter. The combination of it all may make you shed a tear or make you feel like you are walking down a twisted yellow brick road. It is like the most beautiful pastoral scene as painted by David Lynch.
Stones with it's chamber music vibe is stripped down and moving. Trojan Horses is a trip. It feel part horror movie theme and part austere and as icy cold like viking ships in a medieval Icelandic wasteland. It grows into a vast fable. The title track Citizen of Glass with Obel's beautiful voice and piano combined has an almost "Mad World" vibe at first. It feels as dire a "the end of days" that she sings about. The very somber instrumental Grasshopper feels like dark wave-ish / dark folk as swirling strings circle the heavy handed piano notes like vultures. It is striking and sucks you into it's world. This track and the aforementioned Red Virgin Soil are amazing pieces of work as instrumentals that belong on a sound track to an equally amazing movie.
The last track on Obel's album is Mary. The runaway piano lines that chase themselves with a dark chill and Obel's more than dreamy vocals feel somewhere between a tortured ghost story or the gothic horror not of Frankenstein's castle but of life in high school and the drama that lies behind white picket fences:
"from my high school heart that nothing is over, from a touch it will begin, wide on the sky... In my house the silence rang so loud, under doorways, through the hallway down, waiting for the secret to grow out, oh what we do when no one is around"-
Agnes Obel's "Citizen Of Glass" due out October 21st is an emotionally and musically multilayered stunning piece of work full of surprises and musical turning points. Like any great piece of art it feels expansive, it make you feel better for having listened to it. For me it contains a masterpiece in It's Happening Again and for you it will undoubtedly contain others. I implore you to give it your full attention not when you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off but when you can immerse yourself in Obel's beautiful stories.
You can pre-order and connect with Agnes Obel here.
Monday, September 5, 2016
The Night Beats video for the track No Cop off of their 3rd studio album "Who Sold My Generation" as directed by Riley Blakeway involves a nefarious cop on the prowl for... well, your guess is as good as mine. The actor portraying the cop hits all the right notes in a performance that is complexly funny and a bit terrifying riding the dark comedic chops in between Danny McBride and Brian Cox. The victim hits the right notes as well as does the Night Beats whose blues / psych / garage rock tinged sound has that organic roots / proto punk heart of bands like the 60's MC-5. Looking forward to sharing my thoughts on the entire album but for not enjoy No Cop again and again.
No Cops is from Night Beats third studio album "Who Sold My Generation" out January 29th, 2016 via Heavenly Recordings / [PIAS] Recordings
Produced by Nic Jodoin in Echo Park, CA
co-produced by Robert Levon Been
Night Beats are: Danny Lee Blackwell (vocals & guitar), Jakob Bowden (bass & backing vocals) and James Traeger (drums)
Friday, September 2, 2016
BELL : "Losing My Religion" REM Interpretation Moves Emotional Mountains. Donates A Portion Of Proceeds to The National Center For Victims Of Crime
Her creative license is not surprising given her absolute success in writing for other artists like Natalie Imbruglia and The Script's Danny O'Donoghue. Her songs have been out there including in a Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial and TV shows like Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars. Originally from Tyler, Texas and now in LA she has collaborated with producer / songwriters like Giorgio Moroder (Daft Punk) and David Hodges (Kelly Clarkson, 5 Seconds of Summer). Bell has also volunteered at LA's Rock and Roll Camp for Girls at Awaken Arts teaching songwriting to at-risk youth. She extends that affinity for working and helping females at her live shows that feature all female musicians and her cover of REM's Losing My Religion was a collaborative effort with AG, a female producere known for the haunting rendition of Ciara's cover of "Paint it Black" featured in Billboard and Rolling Stone.
Bell shifts, changes Losing My Religion into a pile driver of emotion. She slows down the cadence. Her intimate vocal performance is bolstered by majestic drums and a dark gothic wall of sound. The introspection of Stipe's original intimate organic performance hinging on a subtext about unrequited love is traded in for a more tortured declaration of pain, of feeling life's hurt and reaching the other side as a survivor. The editing for the video was completed when the horrific shootings in Orlando were announced prompting Bell to donate a portion of the streaming proceeds to the National Center for Victims of Crime.