As winter begins to set in and the holidays draw a little nearer —Impose’s Week in Pop brings you a week of exlusives, artistic insights—and an obligatory headline run-through. Big news this week, as one of the web’s biggest music streamers, YouTube starts YouTube Music Key subscription key; The Knife played their supposed “last show” at the Iceland Airwaves festival in Reykjavík; a new David Bowie single; Nicki Minaj’s questionably fascist lyric video for “Only”; Kim Kardashian’s ‘so-called breaking the internet‘; we heard about unfortunate Eminem rhymes; Azealia Banks versus Disclosure, The Stone Roses, & more; a Daft Punk live box set in time for the holidays; Dave Grohl wants his own festival; and we mourn the loss of Sugarhill Gang’s Big Bank Hank.
Moving forward, it is our honor and privilege to introduce breaking world exclusives from Jónó Mí Ló, Le Man Avec Les Lunettes, ScotDrakula, Sporting Life, The Tulips, American Dream, Her Habits, L.A. Girlfriend, Burning Palms, Gosh Pith, Venus and the Moon, Glass Gang, City Society, co-curated by Ex Cops, and more—in no particular order.
JONO MI LO
Jónó Mí Ló, inventive artist of the digital age has graced the world with his project Daytime Television, label Afternoons Modeling and entertaining the waves of vapors that have informed the ‘chill’ movements, and health goth fixations of late. With his upcoming Untitled cassette expected later this year from the Japanese imprint, Wasabi Tapes, following up the the ambitious Lavender Plates I & II (Ringtones for Eco Thot Smoothies) — Jónó works to redefine the relationships between mediums, modes, modules, and our surrounding components. Working with artist Michael Green—who made the Jeff Koons balloon dog GIF—on an upcoming video, Jónó’s focuses are fixed on drawing the aesthetic arenas of both the digital and tangible artifices closer together. And though digitized worlds of CGI, sports, and computer game playing fields are often in the mix; there is also an edification of natural environments as seen in the Elina Malkin (from the VIA video art/New Media collective Dad Prank) untitled video excerpt that depicts the tranquil, Colorado country side.
Available soon from Wasabi Tapes, Jónó Mí Ló’s lends previews of the sparsely titled album, Untitled, sharing previews of “#3”, and “#9” that depicts the sound of synthetic-organic breathing exercises, designed for idiosyncratic stretching, and yoga routines.
Also in an excerpt from “Untitled #12”, Jónó Mí Ló pours on a series of MIDI keys like rain drops falling from murmuring, electronic sky of cascading/descending notes that resound like the shake and rattle of built-in appliance speakers.
In the following listen to Lavender Plates I & II (Ringtones for Eco Thot Smoothies); modern day thoughts, feeling, experiences, and stimuli are flung into the postmodern free play of sounds, signs, and signifiers. The opener, “Organic エコ悲しいトレント” sends out a cluster of ambient chopped stems that combine semantic recitations of automated-computer toned vocals, followed by the environmental creating and subsequent collapse under heavy weights of electronic decay that define, “Poetry 大天使スムージー”. The semantics get chopped into what buzzwords and ad jargon must sound like to alien creatures on “Alaskan 私の最も暗い時間での口」、「”, while “Adrian 16 睡眠薬の空瓶” begins the base of what sounds like the inhabited realm of a MMPRPG computer game, while “Data 死ん内側デモの波 Endangered” takes those digital dream tropes and throws them further into the an organic collection of mellow, but chirpy melodics that take cues from a variety of East Asian chords of enlightenment. The modern game of symbols is also nicely played on tracks like, “#✌ ☢ ✌฿€₳₡元✚”, right before the dizzying loops of synth heroics that make up, “Titan 倒れたDJ”, or the newest in new chillout tracks that have yet to be embelished with a two-syllable/two-bit tagline like the masterful, “Rapper たくさんのように見える”.
The constructs of everything you experience in real life get met with the global digital village that transforms these constructs into mere nouns with an applied ‘post’ prefix. Take the piano meditation music of “Office チョップ” that gets caught in the sax loop, time scales and steps on “One hour ウェブデモ”, the real new future of vapor music trends on “私はカーキ色のり”, as Jónó knocks down the traditional drum and bass for something spacier and swifter on “Pre.ciou.s”, the brain flipping voice colage-cloud that sounds like an Adderall trip/subversive/subliminal commercial on “Ringtone グリッチのデモ”, to the new fidelity of high and lows that make up the cool grinning, “End ミームシーンの”. More experiments in blended synth experiments brings presents on “Gifts ベトナム”, before embracing the game-play mode of medieval mayhem that makes up, “Revelation エリージャン·フィールズ”, the big boss creepy dungeon showdown of, “T.en Typhus Esc.ape”, the digital vacation holiday treat of ” Yellowstone National Park Google画像検索のスクリーンショット”, followed by some praise for sparse minimalism on “Minimal ここでも私たちは舞台茎”, before you are left with the ambient fan spinning drone on the closing, “Condos for Daft Punk”, that could have been the sound from the vent ducts that circulate the heat for the Franco duo in their luxury lofts. Join us after the listen for a discussion with Jónó about the future of music, and more.
How is it working this multiple study approach with your take on avant-garde contemporary electronic music through newer forms of software based technologies as opposed to being hardware based?
With enough research/studying you can find just about any resource you need in order to produce electronic music.For me,it’s easier to host then say having a studio full of hardware in order to work.
As an artist who has worked in so many new forms of music over the years, from the label-lauded and applied tags of ‘vapor wave’ and every other ‘waves’; where have you found the effects and learned influences from those experiences seeping into the synthesization of URL to IRL type of creative compounds?
I’ve learned a lot from just trying to express myself online but not necessarily being or having a voice that’s leading the dialogue.
When it comes to IRL/URL creation I feel that again a lot of artist recently have seen the easy in expressing themselves in the same way and found it easy to host all in one space.
What are your thoughts on the post-internet effect on music, communities, the artists, the fans, and everyone else in between?
I can’t speak for the entire post-internet arts community. I can however speak as a fan and enthusiast. For the most part I don’t really listen that much music anymore that I would call ‘post-internet” simply because, it’s music made to listen while online/surfing/browsing etc but the process isn’t entirely made by e-digging for the most part if it is, it’s a very small amount.
Working in these new audio-tek platforms, what have been your findings on how they can enhance the the potential of everything from screw sounds, textual poetic speech stems, glitchy loops, generative minimalism, sound-collages (like on “Gifts ベトナム”), ecojams, etc?
Personally, I’ve just been enjoying allowing the algorithmic software and tools to communicate with themselves and curating afterwards my favorite moments/ideas/best takes etc. My work has always been about experimenting and stream of consciousness in practice.
Describe the recording period between Winter 2013 through Spring 2014, and how these recordings were made, sourced, etc.
Lavender Plates started while I had finally left Portland,OR and had come back to the midwest (Detroit,MI). I just kept hunting and looking at forums for algorithmic and generative art and music and saying to myself, ‘This isn’t really represented in any way in the internet art community as something that should be popularized…I wonder why.’ The source material comes from incidental music in video games and older generative software from the mid aughts, and like I had mentioned earlier, allowing them to speak to one another.
Like the use of Japanese characters, there are hints of that sparkling Eastern leaning pop mixed with ambient, like on “Rapper たくさんのように見える”, to the health-goth collages of “Organic エコ悲しいトレント”, “Alaskan 私の最も暗い時間での口」、「”, to the mighty loop heroics of “Titan 倒れたDJ”, etc. With so many of the major and indie league players taking so many cues from the both J-Pop and K-Pop trends and media; where do you find your own creative attachment to these aesthetics in how they have spoken to your own crafts?
While I’m not a very big K-Pop or J-Pop fan but again, I’m a huge fan of vocaloid music and I feel like that was definitely a big influence on the aesthetic of Lavender Plates. The characters and names of the tracks sort of came about in the same fashion as the album. They were all created generatively [sic]. I just did my best to showcase what I thought was the best of all of the sessions. Lavender Plates is definitely the opposite of anyone trying to appropriate and aspects of pop music.
How did your partnership with Japanese imprint, Wasabi Tapes begin?
I’m fan of their blog Hi Hi Whoopee. Djwww had release a soundfile which sampled my friends Magic Fades on their Bandcamp and I had seen the mention on Twitter a few months again, and decided to email them, since the soundfile/release I had done for Bootleg Tapes earlier this year I felt was in the same vein.
I had told them a little about the concept for “Untitled” but not much outside of it was a generative/ambient album of incidental music from new age and environmental samples and they were beyond excited so I just got to work.
Tell us a bit too about the making of the Elina Malkin, VIA video art/New Media Dad Pranks collective.
Lauren, one of the main curators and driving forces of VIA, had talked to me about there being a Undervolt & Co. video showcase for the festival this year and had suggested I work with Elina to make something new. The two of them are a part of this awesome new media/video art collective so the collaboration went pretty well/was pretty seamless. I met with Elina and she showed me the desert footage and I was all about it. She’s an amazing filmmaker.
Future on a follow up to Daytime Television, etc?
Daytime Television is dead, long live Daytime Televison, ha ha.
As discussed in previous roundtables about the world of wrestling, WWE, ECW, and the like; in what ways do you feel that the wrestling world continues to have, if any, an impact on your own creative art work in media and terms of audio, visual, body, and mind? I saw that recent video game/ CGI “Survivor Series” cut-up you did that was super awesome, and weird.
There’s a few aspects of pro wrestling that I’m really into. I look at it as a combination of theater, post modern dance and stunt work rolled into a live broadcast. When people usually ask me about it, I love saying, “it’s Americanized performance art.” I plan on highlighting some of those aspects in a music video or short film. I’ve been looking for collaborators for the project and have sent out some messages about it to plan a shoot during the next year, to create a narrative around the more ‘underground’ and ‘ultra violent’ aspects of the genre,which are profoundly compelling to me as an artist.
I once heard someone say that it’s just as hard to break into the pro wrestling business as it is to break through as a musician. I find a sense of solidarity in this whether or not it’s entirely true.Knowing that a craft drives others to become something other then just ‘famous’ or ‘popular’ in a chosen career path I see personally as a sign of endurance.
The CGI/Lyric video for “Tears Flow Endlessly” was made as a tribute to and sort of a salute to my good friend Palmtrees (Violence) and our shared love of the sport. The track itself was taken down so it could be used for the Hoko Sounds release “End Of Light” that should be coming out soon.
Untitled will be available soon from Wasabi Tapes.
LE MAN AVEC LES LUNETTES
The Italian indie label/collective-musician-friend-network We Were Never Being Boring (often abbreviated to WWNBB) has had our attention with recent releases from Le Man Avec Les Lunettes and Be Forest who combine powers in the following music video premiere for the alternate version of, “Summer Summer”.
Le Man Avec Les Lunettes’ single from Alessandro Paderno and Fabio Benni are met with additional duet vocals provided by Costanza Delle Rose of Be Forest, with swimming visual sentiments arranged courtesy of Erica Terenzi’s (also of Be Forest) MUTE project. Those already familiar with the song found off the LMALL album, Make It Happen will be rewarded to a new version of one of the album’s warm, standout selections. An album that praises the progression from youth to responsible adulthood, a life worth living is exalted as the greatest thing anyone could ever desire. “Summer Summer” brings to life with strings and voices the season that no one wants to let go. Like the lyric, “letting go has not really been something that I’ve been good at,” the new version of the album song paints a summer to last for all year, and perhaps for all time. Costanza’s voice takes us to a sunny lakeside vacation holiday, where we watch swim stroke demonstrations, and artistic image overlays of watery sink basins, to the ebb and flow of the foaming tide kissing the Italian shores. Following a vintage swimsuit sporting model from the morning awakening, and then back to sleep; swim practices and quiet moments by the water will bring about memories from the greatest of summers.
Fabio Benni of Le Man Avec Les Lunettes and Be Forest’s Costanza Delle Rose, and director Erica Terenzi joined us for the following roundtable on the alternate version of “Summer Summer”, and making of the beautiful video.
Fabio (Le Man Avec Les Lunettes)
After recording an album you are not supposed to listen to it anymore; this is the rule–or better, this is how it should be. But then you end up playing it after a while, and you start fantasizing about how that song would have turned out if you arranged it differently, maybe with some of the ideas you had during the recordings. Re-opening the project-file of a song after a year or two, will inevitably make you hated by the sound engineer who spent hours to make that song sound “exactly how you want”. You should be aware of that, we should be aware of that…But that’s exactly what we did. “And the summer finally came” has a whole new outfit!
Erica (Be Forest / MUTE)
The idea for the video comes from the challenge of visually recreating the song’s playful but at the same time melancholic colors. In the lyrics there’s a specific line – “…and the summer finally came / and I really want to swim…” – that was an enlightening revelation. That line was the starting point for MUTE to develop a simple and linear subject, inspired by Monteiro’s “A comédia de Deus”, but transposed in the carefree world of Olive in “Little Miss Sunshine”.
Costanza (Be Forest)
We were in the studio working on some new Be Forest’s tunes with Alessandro Paderno (Le Man Avec Les Lunettes) and our sound engineer Lorenzo Caperchi. During a break from the recordings Alessandro told me about the idea of re-working on “Summer Summer”. He asked me to sing on it and I was very excited about it. It was super fast, I did the first thing that came to me, something really smooth and natural.
With nearly three years since the release of their first album Singles, we are excited and privileged to premiere the latest single and video from San Francisco’s Sporting Life, with the rushing storm of, “Tsunami”. Welcome back the city’s sons of Keith Brasel, Andrew Gomez, Ryan McGee, and Terry Yerves as they lament what SF has become while sending out dove to help toward a hopeful future of what it could still be.
Through the corridors of Amtrak freights parallel to the nearby lines of freighters are the catacombs called home in the video for “Tsunami”. The pains of loving too strong while the world forces you into the foxholes of priced out hide-aways are sung like the wary and weary aftermath of being washed of earthly comforts. Shots of train paths and tunnels are set to melodic guitar solos that blend into the material of vocals and instrumental mix that help to simulate the feeling of riding the rails while exploring the underground trails at the same time. The symbols of trains have a certain symbol of the wandering figure that floats from station to station, town to town to satisfy a curiosity or keep ahead of some pursuing authoritative power. Sporting Life maintain a somber tone that laments an overpowering love, while planted roots weather the cyclones, and storms that test what a person is made of. But the “tomorrow come what may” leaves a light on at the end of the tunnel, while the worlds beneath the commuter rails offer opportunities of survival and intrigues for a better, and possibly beautiful future. We caught up with Sporting Life’s Keith Brasel about the new recordings, the new video, the transitions of San Francisco, and more, following the video premiere of “Tsunami”.
Great hearing a new recording from you guys with “Tsunami” following up your previous album, Singles. How have the three years in between this album affected you all creatively and personally?
For most of that time we were playing a host of shows in and around SF. We had the opportunity to open for Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, British Sea Power, and Imagine Dragons in that time. But after playing show after show for so long, we decided that it was time to focus more on recording since our recorded output at that point was pretty meager.
We went through many, many drafts of all these songs in our practice space. We used Ableton Live and the UA Apollo interface to maximize audio quality. We were on a steep learning curve, and the process took just a little over a year to really master. At this point tho, I think, we’ve never felt so empowered with respect to creating our own sound — I mean, we were able to dial in everything as we wanted it — guitar and synth tones, drum patterns, layered vocals. We got to mix with Phil Manley, which was awesome and something we’re definitely going to do again. But if this record was made in a conventional studio under a time constraint, it wouldn’t be what it is now.
The “loved too strong” refrain is so powerful on “Tsunami”, where did the idea to mix this feeling of having your hometown practically wiped-out-by-tidal-wave with a train motif video that has an incredible, beautiful, and at times hypnotic effect?
Thanks for saying that. The “I loved too strong” idea really came from a general sense of ‘what happens when you invest in something with all your heart and then it’s wiped out?’ It could apply to anything — a music scene, another person, a project — it’s that left over feeling of you have of, ‘if only I cared less, I wouldn’t be so hurt right now.’
The video we made works in that it brings home the economic cataclysm that created all this homelessness in New York. (And homelessness is a very familiar problem here in SF). The man living in his hatch beneath the amtrak line was such a picture of survival to us, — he was so resourceful — it really resonated with the theme of the song.
Thoughts on what has happened to the SF scene that you once enjoyed back in 2010 versus the one now?
It’s been a sea change. Thee Oh Sees, the Fresh and Only’s, Wooden Shijps, et al are now long gone, having moved down to greener pastures in Portland or in LA’s Silverlake district. Venues have shut down. Neighborhoods are changing. I mean, SF is turning into Manhattan and is quickly becoming unlivable. We were born here, so it’s not like we’re bailing anytime soon, but we’re still holding the torch for those bygone days.
I was in my mid-twenties when the first “dot-com” bubble happened. South of Market became a new tech hotspot, and lots of artists collectives were booted out. When that bubble burst, artists were able to move back. But I don’t think the art scene is going to rebound after this bubble. Tech is too mainstream and established now — the bastards.
Solutions to return and revive the revolution and independent spirit to our beloved foggy city of mist and mystic?
Here’s a few: vote Ed Lee out, roll back those tax breaks for Twitter and Air BnB, and encourage all those richie riches who made millions in tech to relocate to San Jose where they belong, and bring everybody that had to move to Oakland back to the city.
Okay, tell us more about the new recordings you all have in the works.
Sure. We have half of the next album done already. We’re working on about 6-7 more songs to round out the 5 we have completed. In terms of instrumentation and vocals, this follow up record will be consistent with the first, but will have a different theme and flow to it.
Other San Francisco, Oakland, Bay Area artists that you all are all really enjoying right now?
Deerhoof is still based here. Michael Cronin is pretty much based here now. The Wooden Shijps, up until they moved to Portland a bit ago, The Spyrals – a friend’s band (Jeff Lewis) who we used to share a rehearsal space with… Life Coach, with one Phillip Manley. Terry Malts, but they’re gone too now… jeez, now I’m realizing just how many bands have made the exodus.
Future releases from Sporting Life we can look forward to?
Most definitely – we’ve got more singles and videos to roll out before the album release in February. Keep an eye out for “Spoil Yr Party” and “Two Coreys”, a couple singles that will likely follow Tsunami. A new album in 2015, and another spate of local shows.
Holiday plans, and hopes for 2015?
My wife and I had a kid 10 months ago, so we’ll be enjoying our boy’s first Christmas together.
Hopes for 2015: health, more time in the band room, and more shows up and down the west coast.
Sporting Life’s new album will be available soon, watch their Bandcamp.
ScotDrakula have just released their self-titled via Bandcamp, that brings some of the best sounds around between the trio’s respective homes of Melbourne, Australia and Canada. The three-pack punch from bassist Dove Bailey, guitarist/vocalist Matt Neumann, and Evianne Camille’s percussion combine a volatile DIY combination of combustible sounds.
It is also our privilege to present the premiere the Lizzy Bailey video for ScotDrakula’s “Kill What You Love”. And contrary to the title, the video is full of the band doing pragmatic things. From bathing, shaving, teeth brushing, beard coming, exercise bike aerobics, phone calls, fan and hair-dryer heroics, to eating; “Kill What You Love” is presented in depictions of doing constructive activities. Lizzy’s video captures Dove, Evi, and Matt going through the daily cycle of itemized actions and scheduled arrangements of everything business, to personal grooming, and hygiene procedures.
The fun of the self-titled takes off as soon as you press play with the head nodding sway of, “O’Clock”, the kill-your-darlings coolness of “Kill What You Love”, the “getting high in the backseat” thrills of endearing attitude of, “Shazon”, the indie go-go party on, “Wendigo”, and grungy commerce-caper, “Booth At The Mall”. Ducking the rent-a-cop security figures, “Pig Eyes” cuts through the pork with Dove’s bass lead, and the apnea-euphoria of “I Ain’t Going To Sleep”, humanist lessons on “Starter Humanism”, the neck-breaking/butt-busting “Idlewild” (that doesn’t even reach the two minute mark), leaving you with the recent slow chugging train of their recent Fleeting Youth Records single; “Break Me Up”. For those that have appreciated the louder, rougher, rawer, and wilder sounds that abound beneath the mainstream between Canada and Australia—ScotDrakula’s self-titled debut was made for me and you. Dove Bailey talked with us about the new album and more, in an interview that follows this listen:
How did this whole ScotDrakula outfit come about? How did you all meet up, and what Dracula movies, books, games, and what have you inspire the name?
Drinking. We all met each other through drinking in bars. None of us have any interest in Dracula what-so-ever really, but Matt is more interested in Scott Bakula of Quantum Leap. I did once see a sex scene on True Blood where pink light exploded from their genitals.
Speaking of Scot Bakula; Quantum Leap. Great show? One of the greatest shows? And what is the best Scott Bakula sci-fi cult classic in all of your opinions?
I haven’t actually watched Quantum Leap, Matt is the only one who’s really into it! The best Scott Bakula film thought, would have to be Transformers 4. That film is nuts.
Have you all heard about them uncovering the tomb for the original inspiration for the Dracula story, Vlad the Impaler? That’s kinda rad, I guess.
I haven’t heard about that! That is pretty rad, in an RPG kind of way. I hope they got some sick loot.
Folks are pretty hyped about the self-titled album, can you let us in on how you all brought the garage rawness to the tape?
We rehearsed non stop in a garage in Dove’s backyard. The studio wasn’t fully built so we recorded in a lounge room filled with lots of random gear that was just laying around. We were going to use our sound engineer, Nick Hoare’s tape machine but it broke on the first day of recording! So we just recorded everything digitally.
Are we talking one take performances here? Give us some cut for cut plays!
We tracked our instruments all together live, which is a first for us as we’ve never considered ourselves the tightest band. But it worked! We then over dubbed vocals, keys, percussion, crazy synth noise etc.
Talk to us about making the video for “Kill What You Love”.
Making the video was super fun, we got to eat a lot and watch our friend Jack carve a chicken!
Between Australia and Canada, who do you all think are some of the greatest things to come out of both places?
Canada produced Matt. I love Matt. Australia produced Evi. I love Evi too. We’re also glad that Canada produced Mac DeMarco, he’s nice. In terms of music for Australia, probably Kylie Minogue and Brendan Huntley.
What can we expect from you all this winter, and later in 2015?
Honestly. I have no idea! I was thinking of going traveling. I would say we will play gigs and work on a new recording.
Parting wisdom, and or the mantra of ScotDrakula?
ScotDraukula’s self-titled album is available now via Bandcamp.
Founded in LA’s MacArthur Park area, meet The Tulips who debut a listen to the starlit smoke riser, “Scorpio Moon”. Originally starting out in the folk vein of composition, the ensemble of Dana Rogge and Jared Robert Petrich, along with friends Corey James Gash, Adam Halferty, Nick Price, and Jonathan Synder work toward moving the ethereal and the rustic folk holistic approaches closer together.
The haunted West Coast mansion organ ghost presence begins and floats throughout the hallways and rooms of The Tulips’ “Scorpio Moon”. Dana describes the bonds and points between friends, lovers, couples, cold shoulders, and the curses that sometimes are lodged between the most privileged of pairs. The subdued weeping chords move like a lonesome caravan, or a wandering, wounded wolf looking for a new shelter to call home while wondering about how the world went wrong. Beyond the metaphors, the emotional pangs of these breakaways from the best of hearts and souls stirs a sort of pain that time, distance, and constructive arts only can remedy. Get yourself introduced further to The Tulips, in an interview following the premiere of “Scorpio Moon”.
How did The Tulips first come into blossom and bloom between you all, circa LA’s MacArthur Park?
We started off as a folk recording project just to have some fun and write. The band’s sound really started growing when we picked up this old organ which broke down quite a bit at first. The organ tone was just so beautiful to us we couldn’t let it go. Those keys are what really started pulling us away from the folk stuff we started off with; that, Lou Reed, and California’s relaxed perspective on grass was just kind of the perfect ingredients for the band to blossom. I think the reason the MacArthur Park area called to us and a lot of our musician friends is because it’s known for being a little dangerous which deters a lot of folks and opens it up for those who want to make some noise peacefully. A perk of living around here is that it’s really rich in history, culture, and it’s got some beautiful old hotels from the 20s that turned into apartments. They’re big, old, and gorgeous and perfect if you like David Lynch films.
What kind of heavy hearts and souls inspired the song, “Scorpio Moon”?
The story was a blend of real life and imagination. A while ago I became great friends with this beautiful couple. The song was kind of based on them and what they were going through. We all were really close but then things kind of got out of hand. I’ll always love them but there was a little falling out or I guess I ended up needing a little space, the whole thing was really intense. By chance a month after things went a little south this girl was doing my horoscope/birth chart and she told me I had a Scorpio moon and I was convinced that must have been my connection to that scene and it all made perfect sense. I ended up writing the song and a week later the girl that read my chart called me up and told me that she made a mistake and I didn’t have a Scorpio moon after all, but I suppose during that time it did feel like we had a Scorpio moon hanging over our heads.
I have heard you all talk before about how you all work to combine folk songs toward more ethereal realms. For The Tulips, how do you bridge this divide between holistic songs from the sea, mountains, deserts, trees, to the ethereal-ephemeral sonic current that runs through your music?
The bridge of folk and ethereal realms I think is actually pretty close in distance. A lot of times the band will go out to the mountains or the desert to do some writing just to hear the peace and the hum of nature. That’s always been super important for us and we try and take that feeling and amplify it in a bigger way in whatever we do. Basically if you strip our tunes down most of the time they’ll feel like a folk song you can play on your acoustic anywhere.
What else are you all recording right now, releases in the works?
We are working on a few things right now. This cool cat from Cleopatra Records was at one of our shows recently and they have commissioned us to record a version of “Stairway To Heaven” for their Led Zeppelin psychedelic tribute album. That song has been a helluva beast to tame, and we may have had to give it a few tranquilizers but the tunes came out great. We’re also working on a single called “I Get Too High” based on mostly fiction of course. Both songs should be coming out sometime next year.
Holiday plans for The Tulips?
Just playing a bunch of shows, shooting a video for our next single “Winter Winds”. We’re also getting ready to release the new record Echo Blue that’s coming out in January.
Who else should we be listening to from the LA area that rest of the world is just now catching on to?
There’s a lot of great bands here right now. We just played this show with a band we can’t get enough of called Tall Tales and The Silver Lining, they are fantastic, great songs and a beautiful vibe. Another great melody maker and original voice from around here is American Tomahawk. We play and hang out with those guys a lot, really lovely people and they’re writing some fantastic stuff. Also got Jimmy Welsh, beautiful singer and he just keeps writing these incredible folk songs. I feel like right now LA is having a little bit of an artistic awakening and there are a lot of bands and artists that are tapping into something special. A lot of folks coming together and having a great time.
Listen to more from The Tulips via Soundcloud.
Taking on heartbreak by making the big win is the new L.A. Girlfriend EP, Varsity, that follows up Sydney Banta’s previous album, Viva. The shattering of a fleeting spring through summer love inspires a boldness of anthemic autonomy where she channels the self-invested belief and wild at heart determination of an entire league.
Conveying the impact and force of a storybook romance ripped from what could be the collective experience that much of the world can probably relate to in many ways. The entire play-by-play of encounters and enchantment are carried out like an after-school special soap opera with high stakes of prime time programming. The choked up—yet strong character strikes to the heart with the repeated clench fist flourish of, “I sang your anthem 17 times, after the last, final goodbye.” Lettering in her own name to a letter-men jacket of her own design and choosing, Sydney moves her Love Story in Three Parts to the second movement “84” that counts the longevity length, and stress tests of relationships in a maelstrom of electric bursts of the angered variety. The track meet sprint of “Runners” takes off with true to the self volition and some shared memories that are still kept special. The day dream of paired personalities running toward common goals together are exalted in lines lines like, “we’re two kids looking for a fight.” And as the brief EP comes to a close, an earnest pop tale of love and loss reconnects an alliance of the self with a champion’s drive and will to dash toward the next tournament. Following the listen, check out our conversation with L.A. Girlfriend’s own, Sydney Banta.
What experience first prompted the immediate creation of L.A. Girlfriend as a musical endeavor for you?
The project started when I finally got a grasp on what kind of music I wanted to make. I’ve been experimenting with music my whole life — playing various instruments, joining middle school band, and singing with an acoustic guitar at open mic nights in high school. Throughout college, I tried my hand at making more electronic based music through a couple different solo projects. In retrospect, it’s been a trial and error in finding my sound, but once I did find it, that’s when L.A. Girlfriend was born.
The making of your 2013 album, Viva, and then the emotional/personal-victory-as catharsis pop creativity on Varsity: A Love Story in Three Parts—what were the differences like behind these two releases for you?
For me, Viva is a collection of ideas, thoughts, day dreams and fantasies with a little bit of life experience in there. It was written and presented like a play, starting with an overture-esque intro, then a flurry of action into an intermission piece, finally moving to an upbeat and hopeful finale. Varsity is a personal diary specifically addressing an emotionally charged moment in my life. There’s more of an immediate, personal attachment to it. Not to say I don’t feel what I put in to every LP or EP I write, but with Varsity, I definitely felt more of those heavier emotions when writing.
I love the perfectly pointed aggressive and assertive ethic and focus that runs through the three songs of “Varsity”, “84”, and “Runner”; like a track-team tryout that flashes forward in an arc from the beginning to the checkered-flag finish line. How did these competitive sports become the choice of motif and metaphor for much of the expressionistic exterior here?
Thinking about it now, it might have been a subconscious choice, stemming from my dad. As a kid, he introduced me to boxing and taught me how to have the spirit of a fighter. Whenever I’m in a low moment or feel distraught, he always takes the coachapproach and says “don’t go down Rocky, the bell hasn’t rung yet.” Dealing with the after-shock of my breakup, I was definitely looking for a way to rise up and out of the pit. Centering Varsity around an athletic motif was my way of restoring faith in myself. It’s taking the ramifications of an experience, growing from it, and becoming a better person because of it…like trying-out time after time and then finally making the team I’ve always wanted to be on.
I was also struck about “84”, and wondered what pertinence the number/and/or year had for you? Is it something like on the first album with “New Years 1983”?
The number is symbolic of quantity rather than a reference to a particular year or place in time. Where “New Year’s Eve 1983” is about nostalgia, the song “84” is about being stuck. 84 of anything is quite a lot. Relating that to a relationship context led me to ask questions like, ‘how many times should you let something off the hook?’ or, ‘how many times is suitable to put up with something?’ The decision to use the number “84” was based on a lyric in the song — “You’ll turn me into 85 ghosts. It’s the last number before, what is perceived as, ‘the end.”
Winter break plans for L.A. Girlfriend? 2015 projections?
Most important winter break plan is to improve upon my baking skills. The art of frying a good donut has become an elusive quest. On the music side of things, I’ll be shooting videos for Varsity, writing demos, and expanding the Neon Grey video series I started at the beginning of my L.A. Girlfriend career. In 2015, I look forward to touring, releasing my second LP, and having a brilliant year.
L.A. Girlfriend’s Varsity EP is available now via Bandcamp.
VENUS AND THE MOON
Venus & The Moon are the combined forces of Frally Hynes and Rain Phoenix (sister of Joaquin Phoenix), who brought their single “Hungry Ghost” hovering thoughtfully about the atmosphere. With the single out now from Manimal Group, and currently touring with Cat Power; their music haunts the corners of histories that the sun and moon only know for certain. “Hungry Ghost” goes through the drawers of old collected photos and discovers old acquaintances, ancient letters left behind, and triggered reckonings brought from the bent, and turned back nostalgic pages of the mind’s photo scrapbook of emotive memories. We had the pleasure of talking to Rain Phoenix in our featured interview following this listen:
How did the two of you first strike up a creative bond?
We met at a birthday party — people were playing different songs — I sang a Neil Young cover and we struck up a conversation about potentially writing together. Amazingly, when we did, it just felt right!
The name Venus and the Moon beams with the light of a strong, cosmic, feminine force of galactic, and earthy natures. What inspired the name for you both?
We both are novice stargazers — we both also happened to take a photo of Venus and the Moon on the same night (in different towns) and posted it on Instagram at the moment we were looking for a band name. Frally told me she noticed we’d both posted within minutes of each other… I said that’s perfect!
Can you enlighten us on what brought about the famished, beautiful haunting of, “Hungry Ghost”?
“Hungry Ghost” is a song that explores that moment when you decide you’re not going to do something anymore, ever. That’s an extreme moment…in this context it’s about a person and although there is truth in that being what the song is about, it can also relate to any kind of addictive behaviors. Of course when you put focus on not doing something you inadvertently focus on the very thing you’ve decided not to fixate on…I like the irony of that. It also touches on what the Tibetans call the Bardo realm…which is the insatiable appetite of the world of the disconnected consciousness.
What has the process been like for you both in composing these singles for Manimal, and how do the two of you describe your own synergistic connection and writing/recording/arrangement styles?
It felt like we evoked the planets by calling ourselves Venus and the Moon…we really just try to keep our creative channel open… Not to sound too simplistic, but aside from sharing a similar aesthetic and noticing our voices sound good together — we aim to have the rest just ‘happen.’
Our hope is that our music will create more positivity in the world.
What are you two the most excited about for your tour with Cat Power?
Having the opportunity to play with one of the greatest female vocalists of our generation for starters! And touring performing in Europe has been something we’ve wanted to do since we started writing together.
Favorite Cat Power song, album, moment, etc?
Fav songs “Nude as the News” and “The Greatest” — best moment was sharing the stage at Union chapel! Granted that’s the first show we played with her and we are about to play our second — so guessing there will be more good times ahead.
Other artists you two have recently discovered?
Thanks to Chan Marshall I recently discovered Vorhees who I love. Enjoying Moses Sumney as well.
Making the move from Brooklyn to East Nashville, meet American Dream duo of Corinne Callen and Tommy Furar who have just signed to Semi-Pro Records, and give us a debut listen to their single “Something To Be”. The charm and dreams of Brooklyn sugar pop is provided with a sound that reflects the bandstands of the Southern sections that revere the pursuit of perfecting modernist song constructions and pop conventions. Recording with Gregory Lattimer, Callen and Furar bring their darling shared deam to a larger stage and audience.
“Something To Be” is written like a love letter passed from class, and rediscovered years later as sung in the saccharine sweetness by Callen; “All I wanted was something to be, all my life you gave that to me, now you’ll always be in my head, I’ll always be with you.” Together Callen and Furar create the sound of the most coveted endearing, and enduring relationship that reflects on the years with clear memories that bring the immediacy of midnight hour romanticism. Borrowing liberally from 60s studio pop and the 70s/80s power pop movements —”Something To Be” is an idyllic love song that will warm even the coldest hearts of pop music hating cynics. Following the listen, read our interview with Corinne and Tommy.
How did the two of you first strike up a bond that became a creative connection?
We met sharing a bill together on the lower east side NYC at 11th St. Bar. Corinne was playing with her solo band at the time. We started chatting about our music influences following the show and found that we shared a love for 60s/70s soft rock.
Corinne: “I am usually cautious to write upon someone else’s songs but it just felt natural from day one to collaborate. We started when I took one of Tommy’s old country songs and added a chorus and bridge… I guess you could say that it was my way of flirting, ha! I just loved playing his songs and I wanted to be a part of them.Then we started influencing each other’s songs and writing new ones together. It just feels like we are never short of material. We could probably finish 2 full length albums tomorrow…”
Tell us about making the move from Brooklyn to East Nashville, the differences in environments, and how it’s treated the both of you.
New York City will always feel like our home. We crave the energy and the inspiration from the history and the diverse culture of its inhabitants, but we felt like East Nashville has the spirit of community and creativity that we needed to really get our band off the ground. We wanted a new adventure after witnessing a few changes in our beloved city that we didn’t care for. We wanted to get back to a raw artist lifestyle that was becoming increasingly more difficult for us to do in NYC. East Nashville has provided more opportunities for us to pursue our dream.
What was the making of the modern pop jangle of “Something To Be” and “Tell Me” like with producer Gregory Lattimer?
We met with Greg at his home studio in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Greg had worked on one of our faves Albert Hammond Jr’s “Yours To Keep”. When we got to his place he looked retro slick, with full-on tie and vest, and slicked backed hair. His producer chair was covered with a beat up old T-shirt that read “I’m a fucking genius”. We knew we were in good hands.
What other recordings are you two working on?
Well, we actually have another whole batch of songs, mostly ones we’ve written since moving to East Nashville last summer, that we have already started recording with our buddy Rudyard Lee Cullers. I feel they have a bit more of a reverbed out western feel, but they are still retro-inspired, so I wouldn’t say it’s a total departure. Driving across the country a few times and recording on a Virginia farm certainly influenced the vibe of these new songs, and we’ve met some great bandmates here in East Nashville that have influenced the sound as well.
Artists and bands in East Nashville that you both have discovered that are of our interest?
Some of our favorite local bands that we’ve seen here are Nikki Lane, Those Darlins, Repeat Repeat, Stone Jack Jones, Russell Thompson, Fly Golden Eagle, and Majestico.
Tommy: We dig the underground rock n roll side of Nashville. There are a lot of cool bands here that aren’t what the mainstream thinks of when they think of Nashville, and I feel that that lends itself to a kind of camaraderie, especially on the east side of town. Like, it gives rock and roll, surfy, punk rock, garagey type bands a little edge here, like an old guard to rebel against… like we’re all just doing our own thing on our own side of town.
Corinne: Yeah, what he said.
With their self-titled recently released via Lolipop Records, Burning Palms dropped the Nika Kaiser video for “Thorn”, equipped with snakes, gold charms, stones, crystals, symbols, and more. Julia DeConcini and Simone Stopford perform what looks like a pastiche of ancient Egyptian rituals, pagan superstition, and an alchemy blend of psuedo-science from the Burning Palms sound that combines all these allusive components together. Simone joins us after the video to discusss all things Burning Palms.
First tell us about what it was like recording, writing, and creating your recent self-titled for Lolipop.
The creation of the album was a wild ride. We actually recorded the album then went back 2 weeks later and re-recorded the whole thing cause we knew we could do better. We laid the entire album down for under $200 with our hero Matt Rendon from The Resonars. He records to A-Dat and is a phenomenal dude to work with.
Newer recordings or collabs in the works you can share?
We’re recording demos that are mostly unlistenable noise right now. Also working on film scores and ‘Life Soundtracks’ (a concept that involves us creating tailor-made music for special moments in your existence, like: Having sex for the first time? Call 1800 – BURNINGPALMS to order yours today).
How has your current tour been?
Tour’s been ludicrous moment upon moment stacked sky high. Highlights have been the new friends and family we’ve gathered, all-time low moment was our van going to heaven in Minneapolis. We replaced it and managed to be back on the road within 12 hrs though thanks to a huge outpour of generosity and support. People are nice.
Tell us about the Nika Kaiser video that mixes screen poses with stop action collage work of symbols, charms, and the like.
We feel really blessed to have worked with Nika Kaiser on our video for Thorns. She had a very distinct vision that involved wet, fake hair being dragged across our faces and lying in ants and glass in the desert. Nika’s a total visual wizard and we want to eat her and take on her artsy powers.
Holiday plans for Burning Palms?
The holiday season will be about writing and recording for the Burning Palms clan. We have a bunch of AZ shows planned so anyone that wants to experience mid-winter in shorts amongst cacti should come visit us.
Burning Palms’ self-titled is available now from Lolipop Records.
Toronto’s Joanie Wolkoff has dubbed herself, Her Habits, who has all slipping into the great seas of the far away bliss and beauty on the single, “Slip Away”. Arriving toward the end of the year’s cumulative stresses, Joanie brings something to comfort the confidence for those starting over from situations and slipping away into something new, wonderful, and exciting. More thrilling still is that as Wolkoff assures the listener, joys, suffering, sadness, and happiness feel almost shared, and given a new breath through the sustained air of synths that permeate the entire track. After the following listen, enjoy our lively interview with Joanie.
Tell us how you went from recording under your own name, Joanie Wolkoff to Her Habits, and how was the moniker inspired?
It’s not a very glamorous story, but anyone who’s ever started a band will appreciate this. The naming of Her Habits is a perfect example of how art likes to pass through a few sets of hands before it’s ready to surface. I had my sights set on a different title, but a Google search revealed that I’d be pinching a band name from some West Coast rockers who probably love their handle very much, and I figured there were plenty of others to go around. So began a time of brainstorming. Sanford’s business partner (who has a taste for object pronouns and even went on to baptize a production company Maybe Not Him) suggested using Her Habits, in view of themes taken up in the tracks he’d heard. And get this- the idea of simply using the name ‘Habits’ also made the rounds. Lucky we did end up throwing in that feminine pronoun for good measure, considering the explosive success of Tove Lo’s turn-up anthem which dropped shortly after our choice was made! So essentially, the designation “Her Habits” was a gift from a friend. We agreed that it embodied an important motif throughout this body of work, and it stuck.
As for the name I record under, it’s still Joanie Wolkoff. I may have to change my artist name to WOLKOFF before someone else snags it… has a nice warlike Slavic ring to it, right?
Give us the story on how you made the head drifting, world slipping, altered spheres of “Slip Away”.
All nighter pulled. Bath filled. Lights killed. Limbs plunged. Breath held. Brain activated.
In the case of ‘Slip Away,’ Sanford had already shared the instrumentation with me and asked me to outfit it with a vocal melody and lyrics. Listening to the track gave me a dual sense of peace and disconnect. I wanted to craft a vocal melody to alternate between impressions of groundedness and yearning. From there, I wrote the lyrics about quiet, liminal experiences in urban settings that provide us with a fleeting window of opportunity to heal and be free.
Can you give us any other hints on new recordings in process, what they sound like, upcoming releases, etc?
In terms of recording new material, I’ve been fielding a surge of ideas and capturing them all to the best of my technical abilities. The Her Habits EP will release on January 27th, but until then, there are singles waiting to make their debut. All I can tell you is that they’ll be surprising, addictive and delicious.
How has Toronto inspired you personally, in a place where it seems like there is such a vast pool of talented everybodies?
Have you ever noticed that when people live outside of their country of origin for long enough, they start to see themselves less as a product of their hometown and more as a product of their nationality? In Canada, I’m Torontonian. Globally, I fit the billing of ‘Canuck.’ Not a molecule of my being isn’t Canadian. I’m excessively polite and believe that carton-contained homo milk (by that, we of the North mean homogenized) should be abolished and replaced with transparent rectangular bags. I say process (first syllable rhymes with the American ‘bro’). I think that everyone should read Robert Service’s poems about Klondike Goldrush-era Yukon at least once, and you cannot pry me away from the National Film Board of Canada’s website. I was raised on a First Nations’ legend about the Ookpik, a furry owl that dances on waterfalls. Don’t tell me Ookpik ain’t real.
Favorite Toronto artists/bands that the world does not know about yet?
The world does not yet know Toronto’s The Native Smokes.
Joanie, appreciate your music, and taking the time to talk!
Any time, it was really no Impose-ition!
Big news from the Great Valley camp, as Peter Nichols, Jo Miller-Gamble, and Danny Bissette are transitioning into becoming the new entity, Grape Room. In an excerpt from our most recent conversation, Peter explained it to me like this:
Great Valley recently entered it’s second incarnation, shedding the name Great Valley more or less, and showing off our new skin as “Grape Room.” Grape Room is the 3 members of Great Valley (me, Jo Miller-Gamble, and Danny Bissette) working behind a purple curtain. We just unveiled the first Grape Room EP for free on bandcamp, its four songs called Wonka Space 9. Channeling some smooth 70s movie-theme vibes and some Vangelis-style new age synth excess, plus one Dwight Twilley cover.
And so ladies and gentlemen here it is, Grape Room’s Wonka Space 9, a whimsical EP to get your weekend started right, weird, and rad. “Gold Frame” is dipped in the Great Valley aesthetic, while “Out in the Rain” inspired some of that dancing in the rain rock and roll nighclub-boogie, before you ride the Roald Dahl psychedelic great glass elevator instrumental/spoken word weirdness of the title track, “Wonka Space 9”, before you are left with your own floating, stoney oasis in the sky that is, “Island Earth”.
San Francisco dreamers Balms released their self-titled EP this past week, and we revisit the band-described “dreamare” world that rides off the silk linens spilt forth from the celestial skies. “Golden Hair” is a Rapunzel sort of story that takes off on it’s own romantic flight before “Head in a Safe” traverses across those historical topographies in search of sanctuary, the identity earth and sea of “Aboriginal”. Balms embrace the new era of west coast dreamsters and DIY schemesters on the supernova sparkle of “Siren”, before “See You” absolutely engulfs everything into what the Balms all-encompassing sound is all about, before the big finale that they strategically saved for last with the extremely catchy, and unforgettable thunderous crash of smartly stitched sound on the inexhaustible majesty of, “In The Dark”. Following the listen, join us as we continue our discussions with Jared and John.
Describe that kind of self-described ‘dreamare’ sonic sound that permeates throughout the EP. It really is something beautiful.
Jared: It’s funny because genre tags and all of that have always been weird for us in this project, and felt a little forced. When we put out our first single, “Grave”, the internet seemed to like it and called it “lo-fi shoegaze” — after we released “All Right”, “slacker rock”, and then for the single for this EP, “Golden Hair”, “dreampop”. I think the experience of our music/live show mixes all of these sounds a bit, which aren’t that different to begin with in the scheme of things, so our music has always felt more like a gradient to me. In terms of ‘dreamare’, I have to give credit where credit’s due: our friends that book out in Oakland (Slime City/Shred Forever) did a show with us and on the Facebook event page they gave all the bands semi-ridiculous genre tags, and next to Balms they wrote, “shoegazey dreamare pop from San Francisco”. Something about that stuck, I guess because a lot of our music dances between the light/heavy — both sonically and conceptually. When we play live, there’s a lot of energy and we get crazy, and in the music there’s that kind of bi-polar element where we swing from the highs to the lows intensely and suddenly. To me, “dreampop” songs have a very sort of warm, extremely pristine clean sound. We have quite a bit of grit and noise to our music, especially live, so that mixed with the bi-polar element really makes “dreamare pop” feel cool. For now.
Anecdotes on recording this past EP?
Jared: It was a lot of work, and it’s also the first time that I have truly collaboratively mixed music with someone. I think John can say the same. We recorded and mixed the whole EP ourselves in Johns basement/house over the course of several months. It can be a hard thing to do without outside perspective, and John and I have that sort of constant creative argument/antagonism about what we do as a band. Most of the time that lends itself to better work, but a lot of times it can just be frustrating and unproductive. So I think we have experienced both sides of that through making this EP and it was a great learning experience.
Thoughts on the new developments of dreampop in 2014/2015?
Jared: I dont really have a lot of thoughts about it, other than that I think shoegaze/dreampop (which often are lumped together) has really been making yet another revival in the underground and its seeping into the mainstream more. I think that the idea of ‘dreampop’ is already starting to fade away more and more and just lend itself to general pop music. We are seeing that with a bunch of bands in every genre from electronic to rock to r&b, which to me are genres that a lot of bands are blending together now as well (I think of James Blake, Animal Collective, Caribou, Bon Iver…).
What have you all been listening to lately?
Jared: Real Estate’s “Atlas”, Modest Mouse’s “Building Something Out Of Nothing”, Caribou’s “Our Love”, Baths’ “Obsidian”, Washed Out’s “Paracosm”.
John: The Growlers, Parquet Courts, The Doors, Kendrick Lamar.
Now that the Balms EP is done, what focuses are filling all of your times?
Jared: Up until the EP release, we were playing a lot of shows. Over the summer we were playing once or twice a week locally in the bay area and then doing a few trips down to LA, on top of doing short tours up to Portland/Seattle… Since I do all the booking myself it takes up a lot of my time and energy. So now that we have released the EP, we decided it’s time to take the focus away from shows for a while and spend time on the integral band stuff — writing new music, improving our set, saving up and buying new gear, and just hanging out.
John: I’m finally going to be able to buy some new drum gear — which is good because I’ve been playing with extremely trashed cymbals since we finished recording. We also have a lot of cool lighting/projection ideas that we want to invest in to bring the experience of our shows to the next level.
Holiday plans for Balms?
Jared: Working, chilling, and writing new tunes for next year.
Balms’ self-titled EP is available now via Bandcamp.
With their mixtape Lower available now, Glass Gang continues their campaign and elusive reign with the Julian Muller video for “Still”, featuring the acting talents Ackime Snow. Any bit of media from Glass Gang makes the maximum most out of the most minimalist of settings and set-ups, where Ackime walks up from a subway staircase, hails a cab under the ominous zoom-in of a closed circuit security camera that synchronizes itself with the mood stirring synths on, “Still”. But the real drama is what plays out as the camera sits fixed on Ackime in the cab, where his expressions, subtle gesticulations provide some intense outward entrances into a complicated interior expressed in the song’s intense illustrations.
Following up 2013’s self-titled album (remember “Riot Bloom“?), New York’s City Society prepares the upcoming Canyons EP for November 20, with a listen to the sensory rich, “Intensity Of a Star”. Refining the sketches from his previous album, Richard Cupolo carefully keeps the conjunction of bass, guitar, pianos and vocal melody parts flowing water in a streaming brook that reflect the brightest constellations that gently burn into the night’s dense ceiling. After the following listen, check out our interview with Richard on the world of City Society.
How did the project of City Society first begin for you?
As a fun thought — to sing and structure lyrics in a genre different from what I had worked with for years was a challenge I wanted to take up. It’s not the first time I’ve taken a new chance in recording.
What was the creative developmental jump like for you from the self-titled that came out during summer 2013 versus the album, Canyons?
The songs on Canyons are more raw and less produced; they were written and recorded mostly during the summers of the last two years when I was doing alot of surfing. Some of the most productive recording sessions came after a day out in the water.
What kind of intense feelings and experiences contributed to the beautiful piano-laden ballad of, “Intensity”?
The song is a metaphor, like most in this project. It became clearer as I went along that I wanted to create an aura of being on the open ocean at night and have it relate to relationships. The visuals of the song remind me of old Smashing Pumpkins videos.
The latest from the New York scenes?
Glasslands and Death By Audio shutting down are a bummer. But I’m excited to see what happens with more DIY type spaces; the proliferation of solo and duo based electronic music has made it so much easier to host a great show, from a technical standpoint.
Indie/underground artists that you feel need more shout outs and love in the press?
Anything on the Percussion Lab site is usually a solid choice.
How has New York affected your own music, and informed your art?
It’s a place that demands efficiency, I’m sure it influenced the decision to be so self-contained but also effective with what I wanted to accomplish.
Winter plans for City Society?
Nothing to turn into future recordings at the moment, but three years ago a project like this hadn’t even crossed my mind, so we’ll see what comes next.
As the modernist pop revival (or renovation, if you will) continues, Streight Angular continues their never ending party pop jamboree, debuting their latest single, “Boys And Girls”. Commanded by their wild, enigmatic and eclectic ringleader Al Polk, establishing the Boston indie imprint Polk Records, and recently heard and seen doing some riotous covers of DIIV, and Coldplay. Al and the gang break down the song composition of lyric and hook down to the dumbest denominator, creating the most catchy birds and bees pop poetics put together with a series of clever arrangement quick changes and detours that continue keep this Boston group on our radar. Or according to Al himself:
“Boys and Girls” is super catchy, with sweet interludes and break downs. You’ll be toe-tapping it all day in your cubicle, at a coffee shop, or in a board meeting
Detroit-based duo Gosh Pith dropped the cut “Smoke Billow”, on what we are told was made with borrowed instruments, gear, and recorded in spots that count the vehicles from friends and other vacated premises. While the vibe coasts high on some smoke entrancing hazy beats, this cut is also well-suited for your next abandoned, post-Halloween haunted house vibe mix. The twosome of Josh Smith and Josh Freed wrote us the following about the new single in the following insightful exclusive:
That night wasn’t too out of the ordinary, a Detroit rave depends a lot on how you decide to loose yourself in the space around you. It was a cavernous warehouse hanger, with 2 sub woofers and some of our friends and favorites spinning, if you dance in certain parts of the room you can feel like the place is packed to capacity with no room to breathe, in other parts you can hang out on the wall with lots of free space around you. The best part of those types of parties, and Detroit, is the space, you can go from feeling like you are dancing in a full elevator or bedroom and then take a few steps away from the pockets of kids and feel like you are in the middle of a flat farm field on the side of the road that you pass while driving at night in the mid-west. There were a bunch of people from Bruiser Brigade there, one of our favorite rappers, Dopehead, graced the stage with a quick set in the middle of the night around 4AM I know. It went pretty late.
After those parties, a lot of adrenaline is left over, Seeing the outside world, the steaming sewers, and the brightness of morning can be a little jarring, but also comforting after these nights. It is that paradox that the song is exploring, or attempting to justify living in it. I wanted to “rob a bank” because then I could pay rent, pay for some food to take my girl out to eat, pay for some clothes and have health or dental insurance haha. But at the same time, after that party, seeing so many people forced to work so hard right now, just to be able to be safe and happy later in life, really struck me. It was like, I could rob a bank and not have to worry about all of these instruments I am expected to use, like a day-job, insurance, a relationship, computers, clothes, and everything else that has become so ‘natural.’ On the other hand, I have a lot of reverence and I am intrigued by people who renounce those systems and worries, like monks and artists. If I wasn’t expected to, and didn’t expect myself to live in a certain ‘normal’ way, then I wouldn’t need to worry about coming up with any money or day dream about hitting a lick. Smoke Bellow was an affirmation to me, that even under all of the layers of social responsibility and molding, and bills, and grey streets of Detroit, there is a tomb inside our hearts making it impossible to mellow out, or abandoned our desire to live free, finding some place in middle of those two sides.
After talking with Ben from Field Guides the other day, we got hipped to Wilder Maker’s upcoming EP, Everyday Crimes Against Objects of Desire, Vol I. available November 18, and an advance listen you can enjoy here. Gabriel Birnbaum builds a piece of roaming beauty, placing the alluring enticement of “Hope Springs” in the beginning, the half-eyed bleary sleepiness of “White Knucked On the Wheel”, the evocative, gorgeous, funereal closer, “Love = War”; built around the richness of the centerpiece song, “Zion”. A song that runs nearly seven minutes in length, Gabriel and the band entertain a notion of desirable places, objects, and the anchors and weights of reality that stand in the way of celestial dreams, sacred realms, and notions.
Still flying all fancy and free off having talked to Silk Rhodes just a few weeks ago, we bring back some of those locomotive-music for mobile lifestyles with the here and now of, “Realtime”. This ain’t no regular facetime, this is not a hyper extended avatar of yourself conversing with whoever may lurk behind that other net avatar—this is the in person experienced, and relaxed relay of right-now feelings. Silk Rhodes’ self-titled will be available December 2 from Stones Throw Records.
From the SE Industrial District of Portland, check out the Lydia Berndt and Andrew Sadowski who are are Fang Moon, releasing the James Wilson video that zaps you into the zone of synths, and electric fueled fun. Taken off their album, The March for the Future, the Northwest synth pulse keeps us all alive and warm through the howling cold and quiet of winter.
San Francisco producer, singer-songwriter, everything man, Brogan Bentley released the dark atmospheric, Matthew Ching video for, “The Difference”. Taken from his LEAVING / Stones Throw album, The Snake Brogan materializes within neon plume spouting void where a game of smoke and mirrors are combined with the dazzling horn drone simmer and dazzle of rolling electric rainbow bursts. Sensuous nude dances bring an NSFW edge, an album cover that jumps from the static state to life.
With European dates running from November 21 through December 12 with select dates featuring Mac DeMarco and TOPS; enjoy the Matthew Volz video of railroad track riding / day picnicking sentiments for Juan Wauters’ heart strumming, “Nena”.
In more Captured Tracks news, check out Medicine’s blistering and distorted visuals of bewildering video definition & dissonance from Vinyl Williams for, “Move Along – Down the Road”, off their recently released album, Home Everywhere. These are the reimagined palaces of the ancients inspired by way of the Lisa Frank, hologram-sticker paint palette.
Brooklyn’s Low Fat Getting High just dropped their self-titled debut Money Fire Records, and we got the track “Hate Them All” that lets all the anger bleed on out. It takes all the scenerios of everything and everyone that drives you up the wall and lets out a constructive working class bellow against the elitist, overlord schmucks.
Adam Gil of YAWN will release his first solo album, So Long, Leisure on November 18, that shares some of the down home comforts on, “Home Again”. The mix swirls around the listener and Gila himself, where you are enveloped in a world that is the sound of being caught in the spaced out production while feeling freer than the air that you breathe. We at Impose would like to drop Dam some love for his spaced out, Plastic Ono Band-looking LP cover, featured below.
Keeping the Halloween vibe rolling, take a look at the Aaron Gum video for Orenda Fink’s “This Is A Part Of Something Greater”, off her album Blue Dream available now from Saddle Creek. Drawing from suspense classics like Blue Velvet, Poltergeist, Psycho, The Shining, Videodrome, and more; the thrills, and chills become recreated in ways that feel seemless, translating the mashup of fiction, fantasy, and real life.
As Carl Creighton continues to count down the days to the release of his December 17 scheduled album, The World is a Beautiful Place, get ready to have a laugh as Carl and his brother Craig have more minimalist video fun with the freakout dance fun for, “You’re Alright (Doing Fine)”. As Carl boogies down in front of the well lit, “Welcome to Downtown Prior Lake” (a city in Minnesota) sign; you get to enjoy his latest acoustic hymn strummed in the key of life. Or as Carl explained it to us:
So this past summer, my brother and I filmed a lot of me dancing to Howth’s “Secret Goldmine”. But his computer sucks and my computer sucks, so all this footage has been on a hard drive waiting to be turned into something brilliant.
Jozef van Wissem dropped the Jacqueline Castel video for “Love Destroys All Evil” off the upcoming album, It’s Time for You To Return available December 2 from Crammed Discs. Gnostic superstitions mix against trad elements with a mix of old chapels, ancient liturgy, chants, mantras, and artful depictions of churches in various framed light and shutter speeds.
Morgan Nusbaum and Jason Potter are Bruiser Queen, who recently released Sweet Static from the St. Louis label, Boxing Clever Records, dropping the loud garage pop with the Darrick Hays and Brian Cummings video for “On the Radio”. The dynamic duo packs Morgan’s punch that punches against Jimmy’s drums that keeps up with the rhythm that turns like a boxing tornado that tears up all nearby semblances of peace and order.
Per Nordmark from Swedish electronic three-piece Kriget and musician-auteur Marko Bandobranski are BANDOBRANSKI/NORDMARK. Lending the first moody single, “My Head My Ruin,” the vocals of The Field, Taragana Pyjarama, ex-Masquer, and Lykke Li back up singer, Kicki Halmos travel throughout the bubbling and hesitating synths that traverse the digital sequence like Roman-esque ruins. Look for this single with a a remix from The Field on November 19.
LA six piece Minnows released their Trembles & Temperance album this week on Anchor Eighty Four Records, bringing a trove of prose songs. The opener brings disparate bodies and feelings closer together on the multifaceted “This Love Is A Bridge”, before swimming through the melodic-but murky lakes of “Dark Matter Daughter”, the galloping run of “Coyoyte (Goodnight)”, more water met motifs on “Red River”, the therapeutic “Spineless Love”, sun thrill bursts on “Indian Summer”, the synthetic-realism of “Plastic Plant Blues”, before going off in the blaze of glory that is the longview pointed span of the closing number, “Nature Drive”. Trembles & Temperances was designed to keep you warm this winter.
Peniel, North Wales artist R. Seiliog dropped the living, beat organism cut that is “Mt. Essa” off his upcoming album, In Hz available December 2 from Turnstile. The beat begins like rising sunrises in elapsed time where everyone and everything wakes up, arises, goes about their day, achieves monumental tasks, and then retires promptly for the evening, only to repeat the same ritual on the following day. This is an electronic-bio hybrid existing in it’s own created ecosystem.
Deerhoof’s new album La Isla Bonita is available now from Polyvinyl Records, and we got the Dalton Blanco that features Michael Shannon of Boardwalk Empire infamy and your friendly indie gang of Ed Rodriguez Greg Saunier John Dieterich Satomi Matsuzaki.
Melbourne, Australia three piece ScotDracula bring some cheap beer suds to a Transylvanian-ish dive via the new single, “Stupid Everything”, one of our favorite tracks from their flawless album, Burner, set to release on cassette along with their Break Me Up EP on December 9 via Fleeting Youth Records.
EX COPS’ WEEK IN POP
Ex Cops, aka Amalie Bruun and Brian Harding, released their album, Daggers this past week on Downtown Records, and Brian was kind enough to co-curate the following Week in Pop selections:
Skip Spence, “Weighted Down”
Last year I felt like I was having a nervous breakdown and I bought this at a used record store because I sensed his insanity. It’s all I listened to for weeks and still play it a lot when touring. I like it better than his stuff he did with Moby Grape. He is completely exposed here.
Dean Ween, “Guitar Moves”
Dean Ween is one of my favorite personalities. He masters the art of prankster sincerity; earnest but apathetic without being gross. And I love that this is in a shanty.
Church of Misery, “BTK (Dennis Rader)”
Nasty Japanese doom metal. Most of their songs are about American serial killers and I wonder how they differently interpret this phenomenon. Plus BTK is so fucking scary.
The Osmonds, “Crazy Horses”
If I had to make a top 5 videos ever on YouTube this wouldn’t be far off from number 1. There is so much insanity going on here it’s hard to talk about one thing other than just surrendering and watching it. And Donny!
Daniel Johnston, “Fake Records of Rock n Roll”
I play in Daniel’s band sometimes and we usually always do this song live. It teeters on too rock n rolly for my taste, but he makes it weird enough to be twisted. It is so much fun to play on guitar.
Tim and Eric, “Bedtime Stories”
I have loved Tim and Eric since Tom Goes to the Mayor, and they only get better. They are the Beatles of current comedy. They never look back and aren’t afraid to totally blaspheme the standard, and that makes them iconoclasts. “Roomate” is the best one of these.
Inutili, “Fry Your Brain”
I usually only want to listen to droned out “songs” that pass the 20 minute mark; especially on tour, and this satisfies immensely. Italian modern psych. Super dirty and druggy.
I hope the guys who created this get a Google Alert for this because it only has like 300 views, but this has become one of my favorite shows. It was on for 1 season on MTV in 1998 I think. The humor was completely ahead of its time and it was competing with Undressed probably. The whole season is pretty much all up on YouTube.
Whenever I feel stressed I listen to this interview.
Follow Ex Cops on Twitter.