Sunday, March 19, 2017

REMI: Lose Sleep + For Good + Ode To Ignorance + Livin'

 Sensible J + Remi (third member Dutch stepped out for a moment?)

REMI are an established name in their native Australia and have toured in the UK/continental Europe in the last few years, but the North American market has so far eluded rapper Remi Kolawole, Justin Smith aka Sensible J (drums/production/DJ) and Daniel 'Dutch' Siwes (beats/production). Founded in 2011 as the hip hop collective Run For Your Life, REMI are now part of The House of Beige, the small label started up by Smith and Remi in 2015.

For those in the U.S./Canada and anywhere else in the world who have not yet discovered this superb Melbourne trio, there is much to delve into. I highly recommend taking a couple of hours to listen to the entire two full-length albums 'Divas and Demons' (2016) 'Raw X Infinity' (2014) -  both are utterly outstanding, there is simply not a bad track in the bunch which is exceedingly rare for most albums.

Gigs: Lucky old and new fans in France will have the opportunity to experience REMI next week as well as in April and in June: they have two shows at Comedie Bastille in Paris March 25 + April 29 + June 22 as well as at Theatre de Jeanne in Nantes April 22 and 23.

Hopefully it won't be long before they'll be booked for a big North American tour. Spread the word, people!

I could have easily posted a string of excellent REMI videos, but narrowed it down to four stellar clips: two accompanying "Livin´" and "Ode to Ignorance" from 'Raw X Infinity' plus "Lose Sleep" and "For Good" from 'Divas and Demons'.  (Note: the director links are listed below.)  ("Lose Sleep" & "Ode to Ignorance" videos)    ("For Good" video)  ("Livin'" video)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hannah Epperson: Story (Amelia) + Shadowless

Hailing from Salt Lake City, singer/violinist Hannah Epperson is now based in Brooklyn. Her debut full-length 'Upsweep' dropped last fall and includes the stellar song "Story (Amelia)". She has also released titles via Bandcamp: the outstanding "Shadowless" can be found on the 2015 two-track EP 'Burn".

NOTE: The 'Upsweep' album is Volume I of a two-volume "exploration in bifurcated songwriting and production." Volume II will be out at the end of this year.

Tour: Epperson has two concerts scheduled in Brooklyn this month: March 9 and 15. Between May 26 and June 15 she will be performing a total of eight shows in Germany and Switzerland, a few of which are festival gigs.

The two excellent accompanying videos suit the intricate sound tapestry weaved by Epperson: "Story" was co-directed by the artist herself and NYC film maker Jake Saner; "Shadowless" was directed by Vancouver film maker Brianne Nord-Stewart.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Charlotte OC: Darkest Hour

Charlotte Mary O'Connor aka Charlotte OC has been poised for stardom for nearly a decade since the age of 18, but it has so far eluded her. Why some artists/bands blow up early in their career and others struggle for years to get wider recognition can seem like a mystery. A lot has to do with being in the right place at the right time, not to mention connecting with the right manager and label. A little luck doesn't hurt either.

After three EPs and a handful of singles, perhaps 2017 will be the year that the Malawian-Indian-Irish, Blackburn, Lancashire native enjoys her definitive breakthrough on the heels of the eleven-track debut full-length 'Careless People' release March 31 on Harvest Records. The acclaimed label dropped the three teaser songs/singles "Blackout" and "Darkest Hour" last year and "Medicine Man" last month.

While all tracks are excellent, a voice as powerful and emotive as that of Charlotte OC doesn't need a three-ring-circus presentation; a simple stage and a spotlight production approach is sufficient. Case in point: the highly polished studio recording of "Darkest Hour" heard in the official glossy video, versus the very simple and lovely clip capturing her raw, utterly fearless, tour de force live performance of the same song in front of a spell bound audience at a low key Sofar Sounds show in London last September.

At this point, the singer-songwriter has a few concert dates scheduled; hopefully she'll favor the aforementioned low key live setting when playing in Berlin March 21 and London April 19.  A summer festival gig has also been announced: (the last!) Secret Garden Party in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire July 20-23.

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, HÃ¥kan

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.