Thursday, February 23, 2017

Maggie Rogers: On+Off + Dog Years + Alaska

2017 is looking like a banner year for Maggie Rogers with the release of her stellar five-track debut major label EP 'Now That the Light Is Fading' February 17 and a busy tour schedule kicking off tonight in Brussels.

It's been quite a crazy time for the singer-songwriter from rural Maryland since her participation in Pharrell Williams' master class at NYU last March went viral in early summer, but she has handled her overnight fame with grace, not to mention a maturity beyond her almost 23 years. Having written tunes since the age of thirteen and dropping three EPs plus one single between 2012 and 2014 on Bandcamp very likely helped prepare her for the life of a music industry pro.

Tour: Most of the UK/continental Europe and North America February/March/April dates have already sold out, but tickets are still available for her summer festival gigs in the U.S, continental Europe, the UK and Japan.

Something about Roger's personality, music and videos reminds me of Feist, another exceptional artist. The playful clips accompanying the outstanding songs "Alaska", "Dog Years" and "Off + On" were all directed by American film maker Zia Anger.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Little Dragon: High

Frederik, Yukimi, Erik, Håkan

The many fans of Little Dragon were finally able to satisfy their mad hunger for new music this week when the Swedish quartet dropped the impossibly delicious single "High". The band's first release since 2014 is accompanied by a very trippy, colorful and dreamlike video directed by fellow Gothenburg creative Ossian Melin.

No official word yet on whether a new studio album is in the works, but here's hoping.

Little Dragon will be touring the U.S. in April and will be playing in Toronto May 4. Coachella (April 14 + 21) and Red Rocks (July 26) are among the scheduled festival gigs.

NOTE: My 2009 interview with Yukimi Nagano continues to be one of the most popular entries here on The Nightfly blog. If you missed it, go to:

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Elbow: Gentle Storm

Drummer Richard Jupp departed UK band Elbow early last year, long before the seventh full-length 'Little Fictions' was completed. Released February 3, the album thankfully proves that Guy Garvey, Pete Turner, Mark Potter and Craig Potter are doing just fine post-Jupp.

The third single "Gentle Storm" is a master class in the less-is-more approach; spare yet hypnotic percussion plus Garvey's golden voice were the only ingredients needed to create this superb song.

The accompanying black/white video uses the post-production process of cross-fading: the male and female faces seamlessly blend into one another, creating a haunting and eerie effect that perfectly matches the music. The clip features the four band members as well as actor Benedict Cumberbatch (among others) and was directed by Kevin Godley who used the same film technique for Godley & Creme's 1985 "Cry" video.

Elbow has a string of shows scheduled this winter in Ireland (late February) and the UK (March); most are already sold out. In June they'll be part of the sixteenth Forest Live gigs which will include a performance in the Sherwood Forest Sunday June 25 (here's hoping Robin Hood and his merry men turn up.) In July and August the quartet are playing summer festivals in continental Europe and in the UK.  (scroll down for tour schedule)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Lyves: Darkest Hour + No Love + The Weather + Free

London-based Italian-Australian artist Francesca Bergami aka Lyves spent five months writing and recording her just-released flawless four-track debut EP 'Like Water' in an attic in the picturesque town of Ostra in Italy where her father and grandmother live. Her haunting vocals combined with the gorgeous, intricately layered production make for a soundscape that invites the listener into a world of pitch darkness and blinding the many lovely nuances in between.

It's a mood that is reflected in the videos that accompany "Darkest Hour" and "No Love". The first clip presents beautiful portraits of extraordinary-ordinary women and was directed by Nathanael T. Williams; the second visual features Lyves herself as she moves around the city by night.

The two remaining EP tracks, the superb "The Weather" and the outstanding "Free" are equally deserving of videos. In fact, the music of Lyves seems made for film.

No wonder then that London editing collective Homespun last year invited film makers to create a short inspired by "Darkest Hour". Thomas Ralph was one of four whose project was funded; his powerful winning entry as well as the other three stellar clips are well worth watching. (see link # 6 below)

The singer-songwriter-producer has two shows scheduled for this month: Sunday February 5 she is one of several performers on the bill at Studio Cherie in Berlin; Monday February 20 she has a show at Servant Jazz Quarters in London.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Bernhoft: Visceral + Falter

This week Norwegian singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jarle Bernhoft aka Bernhoft dropped his second stellar EP in less than a year. The six-track 'Stop/Shutup/Shout It Out' was released in May 2016; the brand new collection 'The Morning Comes' contains five songs.

I generally don't post lyric videos, but last year's Alex Vargas-meets-Justin Timberlake track "Falter" is so good, I had to include it.

And speaking of lyrics: pay close attention to the powerful words penned by Bernhoft for his outstanding song "Visceral" which sadly couldn't be more topical in light of the increasing amount of xenophobia and racism shamelessly expressed on social media or in person by politicians and non-politicians. The excellent video was created by Swedish director August Segerholm and features his fellow Swede, acclaimed dancer-choreographer Fredrik Quiñones whose parents are Chilean.

As of now, only a few performance dates have been announced for 2017: two shows in Switzerland this weekend plus one concert in Oslo March 2. An additional gig in Norway is scheduled for summertime: August 18 in Harstad. (The light touring schedule is no doubt due to the fact that the 40-year-old artist and his wife are expecting their second child next month.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

SOHN: Hard Liquor

London born producer/singer-songwriter Christopher Taylor aka SOHN ["son" in German"] lived in Vienna for half a decade before relocating to L.A. in 2015 and replacing his generic hooded sweatshirt with a dapper hat.  The City of Angels however proved to be too distracting a place for the artist in which to focus on a his second full-length; 'Rennen' ["to run" in German"] therefore was both written and recorded at a friend's rural wine country ranch in Sonoma, Northern California. Since arriving in the U.S. he has also married and become a father. Big changes all 'round.

The brand new album's superb opening track "Hard Liquor" was co-written together with his pal, acclaimed singer/songwriter Sam Dew of Chicago. 

The stunning video accompanying the song was shot in Belgrade by New York-based Serbian director-photographer Jovan Todorovic and features a haunting performance by Bosnian-Herzegovinian actor Dado Cosic.

SOHN has a busy tour schedule starting next month:
Continental Europe/Scandinavia February 13 - 27
London March 1
U.S/Canada March 19 - April 21  (incl. two performances at Coachella April 14 & 21)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Frights: Afraid Of The Dark + Kids

Marc Finn, Richard Dotson, Mikey Carnevale

Founded in San Diego by three high school grads in 2012 primarily as a joke, The Frights soon grew into a bona fide band when they were signed to local label Postmark Records which released the two EPs 'Dead Beach' plus 'Fur Sure' as well as a self-titled debut full-length in 2013. The split EP 'DeathFrights' came out in 2014. In 2015 the trio signed with Dangerbird Records and last year the label dropped the second studio full-length entitled 'You Are Going to Hate This'; by then original drummer Adam Lomnitzer had been replaced with Marc Finn. Produced by Zac Carber of FIDLAR, the ten superb songs on the album combine the best of Beach Boys and The Ramones into a beautiful sound which the members themselves astutely describe as "surf-punk, dirty doo wop."

Marc Finn, Richard Dotson and Mikey Carnevale have six dates scheduled for next month in Southern and Northern California; the February 14 show at the El Rey is already sold out.

The videos accompanying the two album tracks "Afraid of the Dark" and "Kids" were published last year. (The first spooky clip was co-directed by Richard Dotson together with Peter Novoa. No notes are provided by Dangerbird Records on YouTube on who created the second very funny clip.)