Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Tribute To Skateboarding: Brett Novak & Kilian Martin

I've long been a fan of skateboarding and surfing, both of which are such a huge part of the unique Southern California culture and vibe. Thus it was a thrill to come across an outstanding video on YouTube featuring renowned Madrid-born-and-raised skater Kilian Martin, directed by established Los Angeles based filmmaker Brett Novak, also a skater himself.

Altered Route was shot at the defunct Lake Dolores Waterpark in the Mojave Desert in 2012 and makes great use of the location. Not surprisingly, the place has been a favorite haunt of vandals and thieves since the permanent closing of the park in 2004; still, it retains a strange, surreal beauty.

Novak has directed several Kilian Martin videos and every one of them is as stunning and poetic as Altered Route: my favorites are Searching Sirocco (2015) and India Within (2013).

Note: Be sure to check out Novak's YouTube channel for his other stellar skater films.

The music chosen for the three clips fits perfectly with the images:

Altered Route: Patrick Watson
Searching Sirocco: also Patrick Watson
India Within: Other Lives

Friday, September 16, 2016

Coldplay: Midnight (Dedicated to India)

India, March 7, 2006 - September 15, 2016   R.I.P.

My brother and his family north of Copenhagen said goodbye to their beloved dog India yesterday. An extraordinarily beautiful and sweet tempered tricolor Cavalier King Charles spaniel, she was loved, treasured and enjoyed a very good life.

Man's best friend indeed, a dog is truly a most remarkable animal, giving back ten-fold the love it receives. If you have the time and affection a dog richly deserves, the years spent with a canine companion will be some of the best of your life.

I chose "Midnight" by Coldplay for this post simply because it's a hauntingly beautiful song that is matched by the superb video created by filmmaker Mary Wigmore.  The track is from the band's 2014 album "Ghost Stories".

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sekuoia: Brace (Featuring Marc Roland)

After releasing three acclaimed EPs in five years, Copenhagen producer Patrick Alexander Beck-Madsen aka Sekuoia is ready to drop his debut full-length 'Flac' on September 16. For the superb track "Brace" he recruited Marc Roland of Danish band Kentaur: the collaboration proves to be a match made in heaven, with Roland's extraordinary vocals blending so perfectly into the intoxicating soundscape that one wishes for an entire Sekuoia/Roland album.

Sekuoia has two dozen shows lined up this fall: he kicks off the tour in Denmark September 29 (Århus) and also wraps it up in Denmark November 26 (Esbjerg.)  In between those two dates he'll be performing in numerous cities around continental Europe, including in Norway and Finland.  There is also a single gig in London (October 8).

Marc Roland is given a supporting role in the accompanying video which stars the wonderful German actor Stephan Koch. The stellar clip was directed by Faraz Shariat and produced by Paulina Lorenz of Hildesheim based filmmaker team Jünglinge. Director Shariat has once again created a work of art that is in fact more a short film with music, rather than a standard music video. In his beautiful films, devoid of sentimentality, the lead characters are always treated with great compassion, never with pity. Expertly helped by luminous acting performance, the viewer is treated to a 3-4 minute magical and dignified glimpse into the life of a human being, something that far too many feature film makers fail to accomplish over the course of 90 or 120 minutes.

Speaking of feature films: The Jünglinge team are currently writing the script for their first feature film, a coming of age story and are in the process of casting as well as finding co-producers and sponsors.

Read my December 2015 interview with Faraz Shariat here:

And be sure to watch more exceptional work by Jünglinge. (Note: their video "Frogs" won 3rd Place in the Best Narrative category at the Berlin Music Video Awards in May. )

Monday, September 5, 2016

Jones: Melt + Hoops + Indulge

Exactly two years ago Cherie Jones aka JONES uploaded the track "Deep" to SoundCloud, in May of last year the debut EP 'Indulge' came out, and on October 7 she drops the 12-track debut full-length 'New Skin'. The attention enjoyed so far is well-deserved and hopefully JONES' smooth-as-honey voice and excellent songwriting will gain her as many fans as Lykke Li and Little Dragon, two of her contemporaries and - according to the artist herself - biggest inspirations.

JONES has been busy playing festivals this summer and there are three fall festivals performances in Amsterdam, Hamburg and Paris coming up. First up however is a gig on September 9 in Melbourne.  And between October 12 and 18 she has five UK shows scheduled.

The outstanding tracks "Melt", "Hoops" and "Indulge" are all included on the upcoming album. 

Note: Make sure to listen to the stellar acoustic versions of her songs on SoundCloud.

The playful videos for "Melt" and "Hoops" were shot by London based director David Silis. The sensual black/white clip that accompanies" Indulge" was made by Norwegian director Jon Olav Stokke, also London based.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Kenton Slash Demon: Peace

Copenhagen duo Kenton Slash Demon are signed to prestigious Australian label Future Classic which released their latest single, the superb track "Peace" in June.

KSD is a side project-turned-full time-project for Jonas Kenton and Silas Moldenhawer of acclaimed Danish band When Saints Go Machine. The friends have been making music since their early teens and in fact dropped two house EPs as early as 2006 and 2007, the latter being the year WSGM was founded.

The two are currently touring and are part of the line up at the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles tonight after which they head to Club Vinyl in Denver for Saturday night show. Between August 29 and September 7 they have eight US East Coast gigs opening for their Future Classic label mate Flume. The duo also has several European festival/headliner appearances scheduled for the rest of September, plus a show in Stavanger, Norway on October 1.

The stellar black/white video that accompanies "Peace" was created by Copenhagen based director/editor Jenna Mangulad.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Jerome Holloway: Whole Of Me

I find myself increasingly turning to Sofar Sounds to discover all types of new artists/bands. The ongoing concert series hosted in intimate indoor or outdoor venues with only a handful, attentive guests attending, is a simple but brilliant concept with a clever acronym (SOngs From A Room), and has spread to many cities around the world.

It was while browsing SoFar Los Angeles on YouTube that I came across singer-songwriter Jerome Holloway.  I listened to his earlier versions of "Whole of Me", and while they are excellent, it was this Sofar live performance that completely blew me away.

Filmed in Malibu on April 23 by Nancy Cardenas, Nate MacNabb, Sam Silver and Mateo Barragan (audio), Holloway's light-as-air flawless vocals and guitar playing perfectly complement the sunny setting. His voice on this particular occasion calls to mind two of his biggest inspirations Marvin Gaye and Damien Rice, yet he very much adds something special to the mix that gives the whole scene a Laurel Canyon sound and vibe. It's easy to picture Holloway hanging out with Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills & Nash and the Mamas & the Papas in the late 1960s. And I can just as easily imagine him on stage at Woodstock in August of 1969, singing to half a million peaceful souls.

Born and raised in the Kalamazoo, Michigan area, he moved to Chicago just over a decade ago and began performing on a regular basis before relocating to Los Angeles around 2012, soon playing small, well-known venues around the city as well as other West Coast cities, including Portland.

The seven-track debut EP 'Matters of the Heart' was released in 2008 and was followed up in 2011 with the EP 'Sunday Morning Night Music', also containing seven tracks.  The studio version of "Whole of Me" is found alongside "Troubling Times" on the single by the same name; it dropped in 2014. More recently, a collection of five superb live-in-the-studio performances (including "Whole of Me") was released by Audiotree Music in the summer of 2015.

Holloway is currently working on presenting a live musical piece entitled The Ballad of Lucky St. Clair for which he has written and recorded the score. A live performance of the first movement as well as the release of the score will take place in November in L.A.

As far as regular upcoming gigs, he'll be part of the line up at the one-day Taste of Soul Festival in Atlanta Saturday, September 10.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Mount Saint: Excuses

I was watching the first season of the American show Flaked on Netflix a few days ago. Starring Will Arnett, it takes place in Venice and is shot on location. It's a pretty good show actually; a second season will premiere in 2017. (my favorite character is 'Cooler' played by George Basil who manages to give his character just the perfect amount of Southern California "dudeness".)

But what really got my attention was the music: wonderful little snippets provide the show with that unique laid back, sunny, Southern California vibe. The excellent soundtrack is a mix of known and lesser known artists/bands (search for it on YouTube where several users have uploaded the songs that are featured on the soundtrack). One track in the first episode was quite different than the rest, and my curiosity about the song set me on an obsessive Google search.

What is already well-known: for a couple of years, Brittany Tolman did keys/backing vocals for Imagine Dragons, co-founded by her drummer husband Andrew Tolman. They both left ID in 2011; by all accounts, it was an amicable split. Andrew joined The Moth & The Flame that same year.

What is not common knowledge: Brittany co-founded L.A. based quartet Mount Saint in 2013 with brothers Clint Holgate and Calvin Riley Holgate plus Drew Beck.; Andrew Tolman played drums in the studio.

The band released their four-track self-titled debut EP in January 2015, they played shows, they gave a few interviews, they made announcements on social media. And then POOF! Mount Saint seemingly disappeared into thin air.

The members themselves are alive and well - Brittany apparently lives in Portland, Oregon as we speak - but the Twitter/Facebook Mount Saint accounts went dormant last year, and no news from 2016 are to be found on the web. Fortunately, this year, someone had the brilliant idea to place their song "Excuses" in Flaked. Whether the placement will generate a renewed interest in Mount Saint remains to be seen; it greatly depends on the success of the show's first season (eight episodes.)

With this blog entry I hope to help spread the word on the band-that-came-and-went. The entire EP is superb, but "Excuses" is the track that continues to give me chills, and is the kind of song that should have been a monster hit last year. Perhaps it's not too late?  (make sure to listen to all four EP tracks)