On White Bronco, Action Bronson’s 2018 release, he rapped “my next album’s only for dolphins,” and the principled MC is nothing if not true to his word. Today he announces his long-awaited new album and debut for Loma Vista Recordings, Only For Dolphins, to be released on September 25. Additionally, he has shared a new single, “Golden Eye.”
Only For Dolphins hums with Bronson’s voracious appetite for sounds encountered during his escapades circling the globe. Turkish psych, reggae, French film music, lovers rock, Russian funk. Joining Bronson is his long-running crew of producers including The Alchemist, Harry Fraud, Daringer, Budgie, DJ Muggs, Tommy Mas and Samiyam.
Listen to “Golden Eye” below, a slow-burn reggae send-up produced by Budgie with a title that, in typical fashion, name checks both the classic video game and the resort. He raps: “Twenty Kawasaki’s looking like wild horses on stampede / I look like a character that was drawn by Stan Lee / All around the world I’m known by different names / But never the real one, because motherf*in sh*t done changed.”
A Queens legend, celebrated for his idiosyncratic pen and vivid raps, Bronson is a decade into his career and still deepening his skillset. “The dolphin is one of the most intelligent creatures ever created on whatever planet we’re on,” he explains. “They have their own way of communicating. They have nuance and intangibles like we do.” In a perfectly unusual analogy, he likens the aquatic mammal to the storied “five-tool” baseball player—that is, the extraordinary class of player who combines all elements of the game. “The only people who understand me are those five-tool players, those higher beings who are on the same telepathic wave as me.”
Action Bronson painted the Only For Dolphins album artwork himself, like he did for both his 2018 White Bronco LP and 2019 Lamb Over Rice EP.
When Shooter and I decided to start making this album almost 2 years ago, we were both doing tours so we had to work around our schedules. Shooter and I had a shared love for Bowie’s era with Brian Eno. And I wasn’t afraid to try new things with him writing the music. He also helped me to be unafraid to try old things. As a producer he really pushed me to be both new and still true to what the core of Marilyn Manson is. His perspective added the trans-dimensional element that I was always looking to tap into.
When I listen to WE ARE CHAOS now, it seems like just yesterday or as if the world repeated itself, as it always does, making the title track and the stories seem as if we wrote them today.
This was recorded to its completion without anyone hearing it until it was finished. There is most definitely a side A and side B in the traditional sense. But just like an LP, it is a flat circle and it’s up to the listener to put the last piece of the puzzle into the picture of songs.
This concept album is the mirror Shooter and I built for the listener – it’s the one we won’t stare into. There are so many rooms, closets, safes and drawers. But in the soul or your museum of memories, the worst are always the mirrors. Shards and slivers of ghosts haunted my hands when I wrote most of these lyrics.
I explore ideas on the album, such as perfume. Something so beautiful, the scent can be remembered forever. But it is also flammable enough to burn down a house. It’s the fragile balance of power and the ones who hold the match or smell the loveliest. The paintings I did specifically to accompany the music…those are my reflections.
Making this record, I had to think to myself: ‘Tame your crazy, stitch your suit. And try to pretend that you are not an animal’ but I knew that mankind is the worst of them all. Making mercy is like making murder. Tears are the human body’s largest export.
Denzel Curry recently announced his new album and shared a new single, SPEEDBOAT. This album is called ZUU and arrives just 10 months after the release of his critically-acclaimed breakout album TA13OO in 2018. The new single, “SPEEDBOAT,” follows “RICKY” as the latest offering of new music from his forthcoming album, which finds Denzel returning to his South Florida roots both sonically and thematically. The track sees Denzel meditating on the consequences of living the fast life, masterfully bouncing between melodic moments and combative bars as he refuses to fall victim to the violence that plagued his childhood in Miami.
The new single coincides with Denzel also announcing a headlining European tour in December, with tickets going on sale this Friday. He recently played a homecoming set at Miami’s Rolling Loud to a raucous crowd, as he gets set to join Billie Eilish on tour across North America. Beginning May 29 in San Francisco and ending July 13 in San Diego, Denzel will be accompanying Billie across 18 dates with festival appearances at Lollapalooza, Osheaga and Outside Lands to follow in August. Denzel will then join the $uicideBoy$ on a North American tour run beginning July 27 in San Diego and concludes August 23 in Los Angeles.
Hear “SPEEDBOAT” above, find full tour routing and more album details below and stay tuned for more from Denzel Curry coming soon.
The Third Gleam was finished before a virus and its carnage swept through humankind in the spring of 2020. It was finished before the most recent injustices against black lives inspired outrage and a much-needed call for social reform and revolution. Through the fever pitch of fear over the pandemic, outcry in the wake of widely observable bigotry, and mourning over the death caused by both, we are united in conflict…put to task in the arenas of our fortitude, our morality, indeed the strength of our own souls, individually and collectively. It is a time of heightened experience; heightened response; heightened resolve. If you are reading or hearing this statement now, you are a part of it.
And yet, neither of these massive fundamental concerns are entirely new to us. Sickness…in body and in mind are old news for our species, and in truth have found us susceptible throughout our complex history. And so our plagues, biological, behavioral and systemic, are intrinsically a part of us. We navigate them poorly at times and heroically at others.
To the point of this writing, as it pertains to the announcement of a record release, it barely warrants mentioning that an 8-song collection is a whisper of an offering in a time of blaring considerations. As I mentioned before, Scott and I finished this album just before these two fundamental concerns overtook nearly the entire planet. Consequently, as the timeline goes, the songs were not informed specifically by the urgent and pivotal concepts which are now center stage. However, as these factors have been and will remain a part of us as a whole, independent of a specific moment in history, the songs of this particular piece do connect somehow to this particular time. Our personal perspectives and experiences are inherently the common thread, which is an element we have found to be imperative in our process of making art. Even so, there are themes which have made their way into this chapter of songs that are undeniably universal, and anchored in our current world…
Isolation, resilience, frustration, confusion, contemplation and hope are here, both in regards to our own lives and as a consideration of the human experience in general. There is humor and love, both for life itself and as it binds a pairing of people. We touch on historical prejudice, faith, economic disparity, gun violence, incarceration, redemption, and as is increasingly standard with our records, stark mortality. This is by no means a record defined by any specific social or cultural goal, nor is it informed by a singular challenge posed to humanity. It is merely the sound of my brother and I in a room, singing about what is on our minds and in our hearts at the time…sharing it now is about what sharing art is always about: another chance that we may partake in connecting with our brothers and sisters of this world, and hopefully joining you in noticing a speck of light gleaming in what appears to be a relatively long and dark night.
2. I Should’ve Spent The Day With My Family
3. Prison To Heaven
4. Back Into The Light
5. Women Like You
6. Untitled #4
7. I Go To My Heart
8. The Fire
Grammy Award-winning artist and producer Robert Glasper has released his new single today, “Better Than I Imagined” featuring H.E.R. and Meshell Ndegeocello, two of the most powerful female voices in contemporary music. 2020, with all its adversity, has also been a revelation in many ways and especially as a renaissance of Black expression and the appreciation and understanding for Black voices, stories, and art to be seen and heard more now than ever. While this is nothing new for Glasper, the world is finally catching up with the musical maestro and cultural figurehead. The song comes paired with a beautiful video animated by Gianni Lee, which paints a surreal and post-apocalyptic world where heroes come to heal the Black community through love.
“Better Than I Imagined” is an ardent dedication to the value and virtue of Black love. Robert explains the meaning behind the song, “No one wants a life without love, but we have generations of people in our community who haven’t had the tools to actually be in healthy relationships. It seems like people are finally ready to open their eyes to systemic racism in this country, and if we’re going to talk about it, we have to also talk about how it affects our relationships.”
Robert Glasper will be performing at the March on Washington taking place on August 28tth – exactly 57 years to-the-date from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s unforgettable “I Have a Dream” speech. He will be one of the only musical performers in attendance alongside frequent collaborator, bassist Derrick Hodge, live and in-person, and televised on MSNBC.
This new song comes off the back of the heralded new project Dinner Party, the musical supergroup of Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, and 9th Wonder. The four standalone geniuses came together as friends and peers, making music that fuses Jazz, R&B, Soul, and Hip-Hop, praised by New York Times, NPR, The FADER, Stereogum, Complex, Hypebeast, Essence, and more. Last year Glasper released his mixtape Fuck Yo Feelings, an organic creation with collaborations between Glasper and Yasiin Bey, Herbie Hancock, Yebba, Denzel Curry, Terrace Martin, YBN Cordae, SiR, Buddy, Rapsody, Andra Day, Baby Rose and more. He also held an unprecedented run of 56 shows in 28 only days at his second residence at the legendary Blue Note in New York.
Glasper boasts seven Grammy nominations and three wins for Best R&B Album, Best Traditional R&B Performance, and Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media, an Emmy nomination- work with Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu, Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Lalah Hathaway, Yasiin Bey and many more.
“Better Than I Imagined” is out now and is the first new music from the Black Radio 3 project, coming in 2021
Sitting in a Wisconsin deli in 2012, Amelia Meath told her new friend Nick Sanborn she wanted to start a pop band. She proposed a simple division of labor: She’d write and sing their emotionally multivalent songs, wrapped around seemingly effortless hooks. And he’d make the beats that drove them, slightly slippery instrumentals that winked at his abstract electronic inclinations. For a time, that was the premise of Sylvan Esso.
But during the last seven years, those responsibilities have morphed. Meath and Sanborn’s roles have become so intertwined that every moment of any new Sylvan Esso song feels rigorously conceptual but completely rapturous, their compelling central paradox. “Making music now looks like both of us sitting in a room together and having small arguments,” Meath quips. That dynamic thumps at the heart of Free Love, Sylvan Esso’s instantly endearing third album and a charming but provocative testament to the duo’s long-term tension.
“At the heart of Sylvan Esso is this really fun argument—Nick wants things to sound unsettling, but I want you to take your shirt off and dance. We’re trying to make pop songs that aren’t on the radio, because they’re too weird,” says Meath. “It’s a pop band, but we’re talking about complicated emotions.”
You could frame Free Love in a dozen different ways. You could, for instance, declare it their undeniable pop triumph, thanks to the summertime incandescence of “Ferris Wheel” or the handclap kinetics of “Train.” You might, on the other hand, call it their most delicate work yet, owing to Meath’s triptych of gently subversive anthems—“What If,” “Free,” and “Make It Easy”—that begin, end, and split the record into sides. You could label Free Love their modular synthesis album, since Sanborn’s explorations of those infinite systems shape so many of these daring songs. And you might even call it their marriage record, as it’s the first LP Meath and Sanborn have made since trading vows. But we’re not here to talk about that.
Instead, the thread that binds together every scintillating moment of Free Love may seem surprising for a duo that has already netted a Grammy nomination, made some of their generation’s sharpest pop daggers, and generally approached their work with an anything-goes esprit: Finding confidence. An album that implores us to consider that our assumptions about our world might be wrong, Free Love asks major questions about self-image, self-righteousness, friendship, romance, and environmental calamity with enough warmth, playfulness, and magnetism to make you consider an alternate reality. These are Sylvan Esso’s most nuanced and undeniable songs—bold enough to say how they feel, big enough to make you join in that feeling.
Sylvan Esso’s newfound self-assurance stems less from past successes than what they’ve done since their last record, 2017’s What Now. In the woods outside Durham, North Carolina, they built their own studio, a microcosm of and for their creations. That’s where they holed up for two weeks during the Fall of 2019 to rehearse for “WITH,” a brilliant year-end run as a 10-piece band that sold out the Walt Disney Concert Hall twice, the Beacon Theatre twice, and their hometown Durham Performing Arts Center twice. Free Love was half-finished then; those shows suggested new ways Sylvan Esso could and would evolve.
“Before we did WITH, I was concerned it would feel gimmicky. But once we did that, it still felt exactly like our band,” remembers Sanborn. “That changed the way we thought about making Free Love. If we make it, it will still feel like Sylvan Esso.”
You can sense this conviction in every word Meath sings here. Like the album title itself, these songs overflow with double entendre and striated meanings, each phrase daring you to listen a little closer. She begins by cooing a plea for us to reimagine our relationship to potential and power, then dives headlong into the propulsive “Ring”—a pointed treatise on the seesaw of risk and reward that defines any relationship and how it can become the game that redefines your life.
She renders “Frequency” as a melodic whisper but leads “Numb,” a daring call to push past apathy, with the cool conviction of some impassioned professor. The dizzying “Train” poses thorny questions about cultural disposability through an undeniable, indelible refrain—Meath seems to smile as she sings it, letting you in on a joke that doubles as a deep critique.
Confidence animates Sanborn’s slyly sophisticated production, too. For years, he hesitated to commit to the universe of modular synthesis—it required such an extreme commitment, a headlong dive into an unknown system. But he finally allowed himself to indulge, spending countless hours searching for new sounds in an endless array of knobs and wires. The ingenious results from Sanborn’s months of free play frame Free Love. The glitchy chime that serves as the wooing core of “What If” emerged from those experiments, as did the warped piano line that unfurls beneath the sweeping chorus of “Numb.” These sounds are subtle but intriguing—when you notice, you listen again, trying to tease out their alien origins.
And for “Free,” he broadcast the almost-finished song through an ad hoc FM signal he set up in their studio, a nod to a lifetime pondering the ways that radio stations interfere with one another in open spaces. The choice makes Meath’s reflection on stardom and artificial intimacy feel timeless, a spectral transmission spirited in from another era. Sanborn’s work here proclaims there’s no right way to build a song—these are just the ways he’s found right now.
Free Love thrives on collaborative frisson—two people pushing one another into new territories with the shared assurance of knowing they’re in good company, a sort of trust fall in reverse. Yes, these 10 songs are some of Sylvan Esso’s most direct. And most delicate. And most intricate. And most urgent. Free Love carries the confidence of two people delighted to be all those things, together, at once.
Out now on Loma Vista Recordings.
While the album follows the highest charting album of Iggy’s career, Free has virtually nothing in common sonically with its predecessor—or with any other Iggy Pop album.
On the process that led Iggy and principal players Leron Thomas and Noveller to create this uniquely somber and contemplative entry in the Iggy Pop canon, Iggy says:
“This is an album in which other artists speak for me, but I lend my voice…
By the end of the tours following Post Pop Depression, I felt sure that I had rid myself of the problem of chronic insecurity that had dogged my life and career for too long.
But I also felt drained. And I felt like I wanted to put on shades, turn my back, and walk away. I wanted to be free. I know that’s an illusion, and that freedom is only something you feel, but I have lived my life thus far in the belief that that feeling is all that is worth pursuing; all that you need – not happiness or love necessarily, but the feeling of being free.
So this album just kind of happened to me, and I let it happen.”
Full tracklisting for Free:
2. Loves Missing
4. James Bond
5. Dirty Sanchez
6. Glow In The Dark
8. We Are The People
9. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
10. The Dawn
For further information, stay tuned to Iggy’s site and socials.
LINKÖPING, SWEDEN – APRIL 13, 2018 – Grammy® Award-winning band Ghost today announced their fourth sacred psalm Prequelle (pronounced prē-KWELL) will be released on June 1, 2018 via Loma Vista Recordings. Prequelle is available for pre-order starting today HERE. Limited edition bundles featuring Colored Vinyl with 3D Lenticular Cover Art, 8-Track Cartridge, Cassette Tape, “Rats” die cut picturedisc, plague mask, musical eucharist case, pins, and more available exclusively in the Ghost Shop here HERE.
Fans have come along for the ride for years, not knowing for certain who was behind the anonymous band… that is, until Tobias Forge recently revealed himself as the man behind Ghost. Each album is more like a film release than a record release. In addition to serving as director, Forge conceives the role of every character, and oversees everything from the screenplay to video to wardrobe design to artwork to cinematography to soundtrack.
In an interesting twist in Ghost’s saga, Cardinal Copia has been appointed to take over vocal duties for the forthcoming psalm. Meet him HERE. Lyrically, Prequelle delves into the plague, the apocalypse, and dark ages. The entire body of work is also a snapshot of the world in which we live in on a daily basis, brought to life through an emotive, enlightening, and riveting body of songs.
Ghost today also shared Prequelle’s lead single “Rats” with an accompanying music video directed by Roboshobo. Watch the video HERE. “Rats” is available to stream and download now via iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, and Google Play. Fans who pre-order Prequelle will receive an instant download of the track.
Prequelle follows Ghost’s third studio album, Meliora, and its accompanying EP Popestar, which elevated the Swedish rock band into the pantheon of the greatest rock bands on earth and resulted in a Grammy® Award for ‘Best Metal Performance’. Meliora debuted at No. 1 at Independent Retail, No. 2 at Rock, and in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album Chart, selling over a quarter million copies globally. The band made their network television debut performing the album’s lead single “Cirice” on CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Popestar debuted at the No. 1 position on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums and Hard Rock Albums chart and produced an Active Rock chart topper with “Square Hammer”.
For Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy, color theory is a distillation of hard-won catharsis. The album confronts the ongoing mental health and familial trials that have plagued the 22-year-old artist since pre-pubescence, presenting listeners with an uncompromisingly honest self-portrait, and reminding us exactly why her critically-acclaimed debut, 2018’s Clean, made her a hero to many. Wise beyond her years, Allison is a songwriter capable of capturing the fleeting moments of bliss that make an embattled existence temporarily beautiful. With color theory, Allison’s fraught past becomes a lens through which we might begin to understand what it means to be resilient.
Clean demonstrated Allison’s nuanced approach to lyricism and her disinterest in reducing complex emotional worlds into easily-digestible sound bites. On it, she projected the image of a confused but exceedingly mature teenager — the type to offer up life-saving advice while cutting class under the bleachers. Clean led Soccer Mommy to sell out tour dates and play major music festivals around the world on top of opening for the likes of Kacey Musgraves, Vampire Weekend, and Paramore. A grueling touring schedule made it so that Allison had to get used to writing on the road, a challenge that exhilarated her. She wrote dozens of songs in hotels, green rooms, and in the backseat of the van. The ones that make up color theory were recorded in her hometown of Nashville at Alex The Great, a modest studio where the likes of Yo La Tengo have recorded, just two miles from her childhood home. Produced by Gabe Wax and engineered by Lars Stalfors (Mars Volta, HEALTH, St. Vincent), color theory’s sonic landscape is vast and dextrous, illustrating how much Allison has evolved as a musician and matured as a person over the past year. The melodies on color theory shimmer on the surface, but they reveal an unsettling darkness with each progressive listen.
“I wanted the experience of listening to color theory to feel like finding a dusty old cassette tape that has become messed up over time, because that’s what this album is: an expression of all the things that have slowly degraded me personally,” Allison says. “The production warps, the guitar solos occasionally glitch, the melodies can be poppy and deceptively cheerful. To me, it sounds like the music of my childhood distressed and, in some instances, decaying.” Allison used a sampling keyboard and string arrangements drawn from old floppy discs to lend color theory a timeworn aesthetic. She also opted to enlist her band in the recording process, which hadn’t been the case on any of her earlier releases. “At the base of every song on color theory is a live take done to tape. This album reflects our live performance, which I’ve grown really happy with,” she says.
color theory is thematically subdivided into three sections, each of which is named for a color that distills the mood Allison wanted to freeze in time. We begin with blue, a color that evokes a certain melancholy, and for Allison, illuminates depressive episodes and memories of inflicting self-harm. On “circle the drain,” she admits that “the days thin me out or just burn me straight through” over a swirling, guitar-driven arrangement that inspires a sense of ease in spite of the distressing lyrical content. The next section is represented by yellow, a color that points to illness, both mental and physical. “My mom has been terminally ill since I was a pre-teen, and I never really found a way to deal with it,” Allison says. “On ‘yellow is the color of her eyes,’ I sing about a period when I was on an international tour and kept feeling like my time with her was ticking away.” Lackadaisical from the outset, the song marries its relaxed arrangement with gutting lyrics that will ring true to anyone who has ever witnessed a loved one’s health decline.
The final section, represented by gray, addresses that fear of loss directly. “Watching my parents age and witnessing sickness take its toll made me think a lot about the cycle of life, and forced me to confront the paranoid sense that death is coming for me,” Allison says. On the color theory’s closer, “gray light,” she doesn’t shrink from the terrifying promise of death’s inevitability and instead gives herself over to it completely. Atop a faded, oceanic bed of instrumentation, she unflinchingly admits, “I see the noose/ It follows me closely whatever I do.” But it’s not all tragic, and moments of lightness appear on this album, too. Take lead single “lucy,” which navigates an all-consuming dread with cunning wit and showcases Allison’s deft songwriting prowess. Here, she pleads with a devilish character and succumbs to his cruelty just as easily as she delights in his attention. “That irks me — that I’m falling down/ From heaven through the Earth/ To hellfire to wear his crown,” she sings, the twinkling instrumentation taking on an eerie, unsettling bent as the song progresses.
color theory investigates a traumatic past in exacting detail; in doing so, Allison finds inroads for healing through self-acceptance, and occasionally, humor. (“I’m the princess of screwing up!” she declares at one point.) This isn’t a quest to uncover some long-since forgotten happiness so much as it is an effort to stare-down the turmoil of adolescence that can haunt a person well into adulthood. Allison is a gifted storyteller, one who is able to take personal experience and project it to universal scale. On color theory, she beckons in outsiders, rejects, and anyone who has ever felt desperately alone in this world, lending them a place to unburden themselves and be momentarily free.
“Twinkle Twinkle” is an anti-nostalgia anthem of sorts, about the polarization of becoming a more well-known artist, and the wild ride that was Margo Price’s last few years. It traces her trajectory: she gets by, gets high, racks up debt, can’t pay the rent, plays dives to stay alive. “If it don’t break you, it might just make you rich,” she sings, with heroic sass.
In fact, the song was inspired by a back-stage encounter with Marty Stuart and the Superlatives at a music festival that was otherwise pretty bleak. (Price has played with Superlatives guitarist Kenny Vaughan over the years.) After the show, in Stuart’s trailer, while he tuned his guitars, he said to Price, “So, you and the band have been on the road a lot lately, do you all hate each other yet?” As Price recalls it: “I said, ‘No, well, I mean, our marriages are falling apart and our health’s deteriorating. But other than that we’re great.’ And he looks at me, and he gets this gleam in his eye, and he says, ‘You wanted to be a star… Twinkle twinkle.’”
St. Vincent – aka Annie Clark – has announced her new album, ‘MASSEDUCTION,’ to be released October 13 on Loma Vista Recordings. Themes of power and sex, imperiled relationships and death slice through the album, Clark’s first since her 2014 breakout ‘St. Vincent.’ The thirteen tracks on ‘MASSEDUCTION’ swirl with guitar and piano, synths and strings, and drum beats that punch with purpose. The album was co-produced bySt. Vincent and Jack Antonoff at Electric Lady Studios in Manhattan, with additional recording at Rough Consumer Studio in Brooklyn, and Compound Fracture in Los Angeles.
“Every record I make has an archetype,” says Clark. “‘Strange Mercy’ was Housewives on Pills. ‘St. Vincent’ was Near-Future Cult Leader. ‘MASSEDUCTION’ is different, it’s pretty first person. You can’t fact-check it, but if you want to know about my life, listen to this record.”
‘MASSEDUCTION’ is the culmination of years of writing, with songs crafted from voice memos, text messages, and snippets of melodies that came to Clark while traveling the globe. Special guests on the album include Thomas Bartlett on piano, Kamasi Washington on saxophone, Jenny Lewis on vocals, and beat production from Sounwave. Greg Leisz and Rich Hinman add pedal steel, and Tuck and Patti Andress contribute guitar and vocals respectively on select tracks.
St. Vincent’s 2014 self-titled album was her best-reviewed and best-selling to date, topping many year-end lists and culminating in her first GRAMMY® nomination and win for Best Alternative Music Album in 2015. Shortly after the album’s release Clark performed with a re-formed Nirvana at the 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and on the 2014 season finale of Saturday Night Live. In 2015 Clark won the ASCAP Vanguard Award and she was 2017’s Record Store Day Ambassador.
‘MASSEDUCTION’ TRACK LIST:
1. Hang On Me
5. Los Ageless
6. Happy Birthday, Johnny
8. New York
9. Fear The Future
10. Young Lover
11. Dancing with a Ghost
12. Slow Disco
13. Smoking Section
Sam and Jerome work in a converted medical clinic near the intersection of Wilshire and Bonnie Brae. In the former examination room, drum machines and samplers rest on sawhorse tables. A black-and-white American flag hangs over a mixing desk made from gray block and plywood. Outside their window, the green concrete stairs are coated with scars. An immense stump supports a pile of deceased fronds and deserted wet mops. The pulse of MacArthur Park pushes through a tangle of bushes and barbed wire.
In January, 2015, the duo learned by phone that the building was being sold. A reaction was hammered out on keyboard. Simple chords, frustrated but motivated. Nothing was settled, nothing certain. Within two days, the piano loop became a complete demo for “You Don’t Have To Be Alone.” It set the tone for nine more. Together, those songs became Stand Up And Speak.
Inspired or not, they convened in the room five days each week. Locals nourished the music. The man who sings the title track works as a doorman at a downtown hotel. Live drums were recorded in the living room of a Filipinotown mansion. The city’s sounds were sewn into songs. A Korean church’s morning din.
Nighttime traffic headed west on the 10 Freeway. Sidewalkers passing the Body High studio without awareness of anything inside.
Beneath Sam and Jerome’s studio, a team of seamstresses makes dresses through the night. Next door, a community organizer counsels Salvadoran immigrants. To not disturb the religious services he holds in his cramped office, DJDS breaks on Sundays. The building has been sold, but no one has left. Together they wait for whatever change comes next.
Words by Sam Sweet
Skegss are an Australian power trio that combine surf, slacker, and garage elements to create their own dynamic sound
“Skegss deal in short garage-punk blasts of the kind that usually come replete with a skateboard, a spliff and a weary sigh from your Mum. But though Skegss tick many of the classic shambolic boxes, there’s something a little more self-aware going on in ‘My Own Mess’ than just a fug of drugs, booze and good times” – DIY
Shaving their heads, grabbing guitars, and pulling no punches, Overcoats etched a ten-song battle-cry on their second full-length album, The Fight [Loma Vista Recordings]. Their vision is not about picking up arms, but rather about picking oneself up. It’s the kind of record that might inspire you to quit your job, run a marathon, divorce your husband, change your life in the way you always wanted to, but needed an extra push for. This is the push…
As New York-natives Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell wrapped up touring behind their critically acclaimed 2017 debut YOUNG, it seemed as though the world was collapsing around them. There was no choice but to fight. “We lost friends to addiction and to gun violence, we were battling an extremely tough political climate, and feeling the weight of existential loneliness,” admits Hana, “We had to learn how to take care of ourselves and each other in a different way.” “There was a realization that we couldn’t wait for life to get easier,” adds JJ. “The idea you have to fight for who you are, what you want, and what you hope to see in the world became poignant for us. We realized the thing to do is not to wait for life to get easier, but to start fighting harder.”
So, they donned guitars in a shared New York city apartment and wrote the soundtrack to their fight. Hana and JJ personally assembled a team around themselves to help support their vision. Within a self-contained environment and under the watch of one London-based creative director, two LA-based producers, and, of course the two creators, the album came to life. They even self-produced a music video in which they shaved each other’s heads. Yes, that’s right. They shaved each other’s heads. They agree, “We decided it was time to take matters into our own hands and shock some people. We needed to become warriors to fight for the future we wish to see in the world.”
Inspired by everything from Young Marble Giants to The Violent Femmes to Iggy Pop, Overcoats rooted this next chapter in electric guitar and punk energy culled from nearly two years on the road. At the same time, they tempered the energy with a vulnerable vitality and irresistible catchiness. JJ explains, “The new music is a bit grittier and more rock-leaning, but there has always been and will always be a through-line of our voices singing in harmony.” “This album is going to break your heart, but also try to put it back together,” states Hana. “Allowing the guitar to dictate the sound, we tried to represent all of the stages of what this realization was. It’s not just depression, anger, and sadness; it’s the motivational stage too. It’s the pop song that helps to distract you from your sadness. It’s a call-to-arms to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and fight to stay alive.”
In early 2019, they committed this vision to tape alongside producer Justin Raisen [Angel Olson, Charli XCX, Santigold] and Yves Rothman [Courtney Love, Yves Tumor, Miya Folick]. “We’re always very D.I.Y.,” comments JJ. “We weren’t going to wait for some fancy producers and pop writers to pen us a record. We wrote it ourselves. We needed the right partners to record it. That’s Justin and his secret weapon, collaborator, Yves. They’re both as crazy as we are. They understood our vision: future-classic bangers.”
Finding a kindred creative spirit, Overcoats cranked out sticky sweet pop subversion tightened up to Swedish standards under a Seattle grunge haze – all initially born out garage band demos of guitar and voice, made in those apartments. Overcoats introduced this body of work with “The Fool.” Neon synths, disco beats, and a hummable bass bop glimmer between catchy confessions such as “Somedays, I’m a warrior. Somedays, I’m out of my mind.” It culminates on an immediately irresistible gang vocal chant upheld by glitchy distortion.
“We wrote it based on ‘The Fool’ tarot card,” says JJ. “It signifies taking a leap of faith and jumping into the unknown. Conceptually, it felt like the beginning of the project. We wiped the slate clean and decided to jump. That’s why the video includes the footage of us shaving our heads. We’re ‘The Fool’; we’re making our leap.” “It’s an empowering message,” continues Hana. “I don’t need to be defined by the opinions of others or go with the status quo; I can be myself.”
Rattling percussion and resounding keys underscore “Leave If You Wanna,” which builds towards a melancholically danceable bridge. JJ states, “It’s about stubbornness and ego that will get you in a lot of trouble in fights with your partner, family, or anyone. Perhaps, it’s the doubt that creeps in after you jump.”
“Keep The Faith” hinges on fuzzed-out nineties guitars and a hunkering drum roll as it transmits a stark valentine between the battle. “It’s a straight-up love song,” Hana goes on. “We decide to let our armor down, because you’ve got to keep the faith.”
“Fire & Fury” encapsulates many of the themes. JJ writes, “It’s a battle-cry against climate change and the myopic vision of those in power. It’s also an intimate look at a perpetual fight with your partner.” Hana responds, “Through the darkness, there is light. We have to have hope even as the world around us appears to crumble or go up in flames.” The track remains dark and brooding as well as hopeful and anthemic. An understatedly pop pre-chorus mounts in the background. Soon, a thunderous kick drops into a wall of guitars and synth bass as the duo scream, “There’s a fire, there’s a fury. Sky is falling, but we’ll get through it.”
At some point, all ten songs incorporate the word “Fight.” The title track sums up the vision as a whole. “It’s representative of what the story is,” explains Hana. “The word manifested itself in every lyric, but it goes back to our first call about the theme. Late one night, JJ called me and said, ‘I wrote something, I think it’s called ‘The Fight’. It applied to everything we felt. The more the shit hit the fan, the more it became so relevant.” When Hana heard the song she said, “‘The Fight,’ – that’s what this story is called.” And then, they both cried.
“ Each song on this record draws on the concept of fighting – whether it’s a fight with a significant other, a fight for rights and representation in politics, or a fight against inner demons,” says Hana.
Overcoats draw the same unfettered emotion from listeners. Since forming out of a Wesleyan dorm room in 2015, Hana and JJ quietly molded provocative pop into power. YOUNG stood out as “one of the Top 5 bestselling albums from a debut artist on an independent label in 2017,” bowed at #4 on the Alternative New Albums Chart, and landed at #12 on the Heatseekers Chart. Billboard touted YOUNG among “The Best Albums of 2017 – Critics Pick,” and NPR Music named it the “#4 Album of 2017” in addition to praise from New York Times, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, and more. Additionally, they toured alongside Mitski, Tennis, Rhye, Matt Corby, The Japanese House, and Joseph.
By crafting and recording The Fight, they continue their journey, encouraging listeners to fight alongside them. “I want people to feel revved up,” Hana leaves off. “I want them to feel like things they thought were futile are possible. I want them to feel excited for the future. We have to keep trying. In trying, I want people to feel powerful in who they are.”
These are heavy times. You can feel a deep anxiety about the future seeping into every genre of music. For a while, drugs or dancing or escapism could keep it at bay. That’s not enough anymore.
HEALTH has always pushed the edges of that aggression. From its twitchy 2007 debut, through its groundbreaking 2012 score for Rockstar Games’ “Max Payne 3” and 2015’s landmark LP “DEATH MAGIC,” the L.A. band snuck beauty and rigor into blinding noise. They draped moody violence over trap beats and warehouse raves alike.
Few artists were better prepared to confront the confusion of life in 2019. With its new album “VOL4::SLAVES OF FEAR,” the trio has not only made the heaviest, most genre-obliterating album of its career. They’ve documented just how frightening it feels to be alive right now.
“VOL4::SLAVES OF FEAR” will be the most ferocious album of 2019 across every genre it touches.
Over the last year, the band hinted at a new range and ambitiousness. Shows with black-metallers Deafheaven and R&B-savvy rockers The Neighbourhood led to single collaborations with indie heroes Purity Ring and Soccer Mommy, French techno brutalist Perturbator and L.A. industrial fiends Youth Code (with plenty more to come).
Meanwhile, the band covered New Order’s “Blue Monday” for the Charlize Theron-starring action film “Atomic Blonde,” while honing its radical new approach to contemporary heavy music.
From the sample-triggered thrash metal of “THE MESSAGE” and “GOD BOTHERER,” to the bone-scraping sub-bass of “FEEL NOTHING” and “BLACK STATIC,” this is HEALTH at its most lacerating yet. With longtime producer Lars Stalfors (Lil Peep, St. Vincent, Bob Moses), they’ve upended their sound palette for our post-everything era: “NC-17” feels like Arabic bass music dragged through hell; “RAT WARS” groans with derelict, slow-rolling L.A. funk.
“VOL4::SLAVES OF FEAR” uses every tool in contemporary production to make a terrifying, exhilarating LP. But beneath all of that, “VOL4::SLAVES OF FEAR” also has some of the most vulnerable and evocative songwriting of HEALTH’s career.
In the lyrics, singer Jake Duzsik confronts death, isolation and hopelessness with an uncommon candor and intimacy. Album closer “DECIMATION” is the most radical move in the band’s catalog to date: a gorgeous guitar ballad, a plea for purpose and meaning in a time that makes both feel impossible.
“VOL4::SLAVES OF FEAR” is out on Loma Vista Recordings on February 1,2019.
Andrew Bird confirms the release of his forthcoming album, My Finest Work Yet, due March 22 on Loma Vista Recordings. Preorder the album here. The record features ten songs including the new single, “Sisyphus,” which debuts today—watch/share here, stream/purchase here.
My Finest Work Yet finds Bird grappling with themes of current day dichotomies and how to identify a moral compass amidst such divisive times. “I’m interested in the idea that our enemies are what make us whole—there’s an intimacy one shares with their opponent when locked in such a struggle. If we were to just walk away would our enemies miss us? How did we get to this point and how can we, through awareness of it, maybe pull ourselves out of this death spiral,” says Bird.
He tackles these topics with a more direct songwriting approach than his previous releases, taking greater risks both lyrically and in recording. Bird and the band taped all the songs live without headphones or separation attempting to create a sound where all instruments bled into each other’s microphones. Of the new music, Bird reflects, “There is a certain optimism to this record…it’s pretty up musically though it doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the lyrics.” Produced by Paul Butler, My Finest Work Yet was recorded at Barefoot Recordings in Los Angeles, CA.
The new single, “Sisyphus,” is titled after the Greek king punished by Zeus for trying to outsmart the gods and cheat death. Bird shares that the track, “is about being addicted to your own suffering and the moral consequences of letting the rock roll.” His previous single, “Bloodless,” which debuted in November along with the track’s official music video (directed by Matthew Daniel Siskin), also appears on the new album—watch/share here. Written after the 2016 election, Bird states, “‘Bloodless’ has always been the template for the rest of the album,” furthering, “it took me a while to step back and say, ‘What can I say that’s going to be helpful?’ I feel like if I’m going to contribute to anything, it should be coming from some perspective that we haven’t yet thought about.”
Andrew Bird is an internationally acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, whistler and songwriter who picked up his first violin at the age of four and spent his formative years soaking up classical repertoire completely by ear.
MY FINEST WORK YET TRACK LIST
4. Cracking Codes
7. Proxy War
9. Don the Struggle
10. Bellevue Bridge Club
Arizona rap trio Injury Reserve has announced their debut album Injury Reserve
for May 17th via Loma Vista Recordings. The group, consisting of MCs Ritchie
With a T, Stepa J. Groggs and producer Parker Corey are the rap game Talking
Heads with a Mystery Science Theater-like commentary on art and culture.
Through the depths of the internet, they’ve always been ahead of the curve
musically and aesthetically amassing a devout fan base whose only grown with
the release of the first two singles/videos for “Jawbreaker” ft. Rico Nasty and
Proteens and “Jailbreak The Tesla” ft. Amine. “Jawbreaker” stirred up needed
conversation calling out some of fashion’s problematic figureheads. Pitchfork
pointed out that “Injury Reserve’s creativity is on display in both the song and
video and the collective continuing to push the culture’s hand on an increasingly
bold Ian Connor and its blatant disregard of abusers, is an added bonus.” The
weekend after “Jailbreak The Tesla” dropped, someone literally hacked a Tesla
Injury Reserve is art scene shit stirrers and with the release of each new video
we’re witnessing it in real time; just one of the many reasons influential A&R
Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua signed them to their new label home. The new single
and video for “Koruna & Lime” directed by IR member Parker Corey, who directs
all the groups videos, might be their most impressive visuals to date. Taken in
one shot, the M.C. Escher-esque cinematography explores impressive camera
use and angles solidifying Corey’s excellence as a director on top of being an
already admired producer. The song itself features additional scratching from A-
Trak that Corey interestingly explores through the camera lens.
Amends is the origin story of one of modern rock’s most recognizable voices and also a full circle moment among friends. The album is the fulfillment of a planned Grey Daze reunion that Chester had announced prior to his untimely passing. The remaining band members – Dowdell, Mace Beyers (bass) and Cristin Davis (guitar) – along with Talinda Bennington (Chester’s widow) and his parents, made it their mission to see the project through with assistance from Tom Whalley, the founder of Loma Vista Recordings and former Warner Bros. Records Chairman during Linkin Park’s tenure at the label. Dowdell, Beyers and Davis selected the tracks from the band’s mid-90s, but largely unknown, catalog and re-recorded the music in 2019 to accompany Chester’s re-mastered vocals. Produced by Jay Baumgardner, several musicians leant their time and talent to the album, including Korn’s Brian “Head” Welch and James “Munky” Shaffer, Page Hamilton (Helmet), Chris Traynor (Bush, Helmet, Orange 9MM), LP (Laura Pergolizzi), Jaime Bennington, Jasen Rauch (Breaking Benjamin), Marcos Curiel (P.O.D.) and Ryan Shuck (Orgy).
Amends is available in a variety of collectible formats with several iterations available exclusively via the band’s website. The CD comes as a 16-page case-bound book; a first pressing, ruby red vinyl variant exclusive to the band’s webstore; and a numbered deluxe edition featuring both a CD and LP, which includes the first ever disc tray designed for vinyl, a 60-page book with never-before-seen photos, 180g red and white splattered vinyl, and a collectible set of band memorabilia dubbed the “Grey Daze Archive.” Pre-orders include instant downloads of “What’s In The Eye,” “Sickness” and “Sometimes.”
A Black Mile to the Surface out July 21, 2017 via Loma Vista Recordings
Manchester Orchestra had always prided themselves on their approach. The Atlanta-based band, led by singer/lyricist Andy Hull with Robert McDowell (who is also Hull’s brother-in-law and lifelong friend), had spent their career challenging each other to build a poignant, exhilarating narrative with each new album and EP. The band had worked relentlessly to cultivate a passionate fan base the old-fashioned way: releasing music, making music videos, and touring (most recently with drummer Tim Very and bassist Andy Prince). Their previous long-player, 2014’s Cope, had even spawned a cover album of itself by its creators, an acoustic-reworking and reimagining of its songs with a heavily emotional bent that they called Hope. But now — thirty years old, stable, and a first-time father — Hull found himself facing a crisis of inspiration. Since the beginning, each subsequent Manchester Orchestra album had been a grand statement for that specific moment in their career, originated in a desire to push themselves forward creatively. The desire to achieve greatness is often followed by a need for that same desire to evolve. So, for a musician used to writing out of self-reflection, what do you sing about when life is good? For a band on record number five and seeking innovation, how do you untangle yourself from the past? How do you write songs about being happy?
It was becoming clear that they required a completely new approach from an entirely different sphere and set of faculties — and, lo and behold, just such a moment arrived when Hull and McDowell were offered the chance to score a movie.
In the midst of the Cope/Hope LP release cycle, the directing duo The Daniels — who had created a dense, theatrical music video for Manchester Orchestra’s “Simple Math” in 2011, winning Vimeo’s “Music Video of the Year” in the process — countered Hull and McDowell’s request for them to work on another video with the idea of scoring the directors’ in-the-works feature film debut, Swiss Army Man. They had never written a film score before, but the pair of musicians happily rose to the challenge. The Daniels’ immediate guideline was: “Cool, don’t use any instruments.” In the project, Hull and McDowell recognized an opportunity to leave their comfort zone and to push emotion to new heights.
“Cope was very much a record where we knew what we wanted and it was a goal in our heads we could chase; that was followed by the polar opposite in Hope. But once we started work on the soundtrack, we threw the textbook out and started approaching music against our instincts,” says McDowell. “I think the score kind of was like going back and getting a doctorate. Once we finished it, there was this whole new realm of situations and sounds that we could go down.”
Swiss Army Man was a weird — albeit cult — Sundance hit, and the film’s New York Times-lauded “marvelously melancholic music” earned rave reviews around the world. Riding that excitement, Hull and McDowell decamped to a cabin near Asheville, North Carolina, with bandmates Very and Prince to write a new record. Inspired by their experience creating the score, they seized the chance to rethink Manchester Orchestra’s typical methods of working.
“We’re a band that loves to use heavy, crunchy guitars,” says Hull. “We wondered how we could limit the use of that, so that when the guitars come in they can be creative and impactful. For Swiss Army Man we had to make seventy minutes of music with our hands tied behind our backs. When you’re creating all the sounds you need just from the human voice, it allows you to rethink what is possible, and determine what is really needed. We wanted to make an album in a ‘non-Manchester’ way if there is such a thing. So we started looking for people to help us do that.”
This process gave them new ideas of how to think about writing, how songs could flow, and how to layer melodies on top of one another to propel the tune into a new emotional arena. To manifest this vision, the band turned to producer Catherine Marks (Foals, PJ Harvey, The Killers, Interpol) and began working with her at Echo Mountain studio in Asheville. “She just got it immediately. Catherine looked at us and said, ‘I hear Twin Peaks: The Album here,’” says Hull. The band instantly connected to her unique sonic outlook for the record: Marks wanted each song to sound like a different room. “Like you could understand where you were in the room and identify where each particular sound was coming from, pick it out with your hands and pull it out,” Marks explains, adding, “Being able to utilize the sound of the rooms we recorded it in, whether it was at Echo Mountain, or literally standing in a bath and engaging with the reverberation and reflections that those rooms provided — as opposed to manufactured reverbs — was super exciting to me.”
In addition to mixing with Marks at her Assault & Battery studio in London, Manchester Orchestra also worked with John Congleton (St. Vincent, Explosions In The Sky, Angel Olsen, Cloud Nothings) in Los Angeles — gathering new sounds, adding to and widening the songs’ dimensions — as well as their longtime producer Dan Hannon, who offered an invaluable perspective that only an old friend could give. Encouraged to go against first instinct, each collaborator added their own touch to the music, pushing it to places no Manchester Orchestra record had ever gone before. As Marks says, “Throughout the entire process, the band fought for the unknown and the unquantifiable.” In thoughtfully deconstructing and rebuilding their songwriting process, the band pushed themselves to create their best album yet.
“It was a test—personally, emotionally, creatively—to see how far we could push ourselves without breaking,” says McDowell. “This record was intentionally un-compromised on every level. We made sure to explore all the options and that we were moving forward with the strongest approach for each song—strongest part, strongest melody, strongest lyric.”
Describing a rock record as “cinematic” usually implies a double-length, sprawling album with a full orchestra on every song; A Black Mile to the Surface is cinematic in that it conjures worlds. There’s magical surrealism at work, with songs about a boy with no ears (“The Alien”) and the father/sleeping child callback of “The Sunshine.” There’s a story to parse here — three brothers, an abandoned wife and child, a mysterious journey through the depths of a miles-deep mine, a narrative of twists and turns, recurring characters, alternating timelines — but the songs and melodies stand on their own.
The initial creative spark for Hull’s lyrics came from a photograph. “While we were writing the album in Asheville it was snowing heavily at the cabin. I was reminded of what it feels like to live in a place that is cyclically cold. No matter what happens you can’t escape it,” says Hull. “I had written a song with a character in South Dakota, so I started looking up pictures of ‘winter in South Dakota,’ and there it was.” What he found was a picture of a road with snow piled high forming walls on either side, maze-like; cars were frozen in time, the sky a white-nothing blur.
Hull began to write songs from the perspectives of different characters who might live in the scene, and found that as he was creating these fictional stories, it became much easier for him to talk about the things that were happening in his own life. In “The Gold,” a song about a woman missing her husband as he descends into the blackness of the mines, Hull saw his own wife left alone with their young child after yet another months-long tour. As he sang these characters’ concerns, he realized he was really singing his own.
A Black Mile to the Surface is a bold record of vision and purpose, inspired by and dwelling in a sensory and imaginative experience. It’s a reinvention of sorts, both musically and personally—a sort of cosmic worldview shift. But in the end, the record’s themes are universal. On the stunning final track, Hull sings, “Let me watch you as close as a memory/ Let me hold you above all the misery / Let me open my eyes and be glad that I got here.” Certainly, that’s a father speaking hope to his daughter, but it’s also a message to listeners. How do you write songs about being happy? With your eyes wide open, your loved ones in front of you, and the misery of the world waiting just outside the door.