Thursday, December 31, 2015

12 Fave Videos/Songs Posted On The Nightfly In 2015

2015 is coming to an end here in California, and so once again it's time for me to pick my favorite videos/songs among the many that I have posted on The Nightfly these past twelve months.

NOTE 1: As usual, I need to point out that this is not a "Best" list, but simply my personal favorites. It wasn't easy to only choose one dozen among the scores of great ones, but below are twelve videos/songs that I found to be truly outstanding on all counts: music, vocals, arrangement, concept, cinematography, direction.

NOTE 2: Some faves were left out because the videos were either: not published this year, live performance videos, lyric videos or not music videos per se. Finally, in the case of a few videos, I decided that the clip did not quite match the high quality of the song.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of my lovely readers out there in cyber space - thanks for "tuning in" to The Nightfly music blog - my advertisement free, labor of love, one-woman operation since February of 2008 - come back and visit often in 2016!!!

And without further ado, in random order, here are my twelve favorites (with links to my original posts below each video):

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Mystery Jets: Telomere

Together for a decade, London band Mystery Jets are still going strong. January 15 they drop their fifth full-length 'Curve of the Earth' and kick off a UK mini tour the day before (in between, they have a show in Dublin on February 12).

On the coming album's first track "Telomere" Blaine Harrison's voice is more gorgeous than ever. In the accompanying video he seems remarkably unfazed by his stint at a hellish mud bath spa; the clip was directed by James Copeman.!music-video/c3wz

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Rasmus Bjerg & Citybois: En Rigtig Drengejul

Photo by Lila Orshefsky, Long Beach

Sunday, a friend of mine was admitted to a hospital in Long Beach, California following a severe stroke. He has always had a great sense of humor, and once the difficult rehabilitation begins, I sincerely hope that he regains his ability to smile and laugh. And so, in that spirit, instead of posting a sad video, I chose a funny one that I know he would truly appreciate.

Acclaimed by critics and beloved by audiences in Denmark, actor Rasmus Bjerg excels at both drama and comedy. For this 2015 clip he invited Thor (left) and Anthon (right) of wildy popular Danish pop duo Citybois to a very special Christmas party. The catchy track and funny video is an instant classic: Wham-meets-Saturday Night Live.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Alex Vargas: Giving Up The Ghost

Nothing really gets you in the Christmas spirit like a music video combining ice skating and tween bullying...

33-year-old Iranian-Swedish director Milad Alami, a graduate of the National Film School of Denmark and now a Copenhagen resident, created the excellent clip accompanying "Giving Up the Ghost", the latest stellar single by Alex Vargas who at 27 still splits his time between his adopted hometown of London and greater Copenhagen where he grew up and lived until the age of 17.

Danish audiences and critics appear to have finally discovered the immense talent of native son Vargas, not least via his powerful and very distinctive voice which lends itself to both rock and electronica. On "Giving Up the Ghost" he effortlessly blends the two genres and has boldly focused on performing this new hybrid material in live settings around Europe this year, but also makes sure to include the crowd favorite "Solid Ground" off his 2014 EP 'Howl', released on Danish label Tiger Music.

On December 20 and 21 he's part of the line up at the Stille Nacht Festival in Eindhoven and Rotterdam, respectively.  His first gig in the new year is also in the Netherlands: the Eurosonic Noorderslag Festival, held January 13-16 in Groningen.

A new album will drop sometime in 2016 on Copenhagen Records.

NOTE: Be sure to check out my two previous posts on Vargas:  (iTunes Denmark)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Interview With Director Faraz Shariat of Jünglinge Film

In October I posted Part 1 and Part 2 of the music video series 'The Dichotomous Trilogy' which accompanies three stellar tracks by Australian producer Charles Murdoch (Part 3 dropped in November and has been added to that post.) The superb and immensely powerful trilogy, featuring an outstanding performance by veteran actor Bernhard Geffke, was directed by Faraz Shariat and produced by Paulina Lorenz who make up the film production company Jünglinge; both are 20 years old and students at the university in Hildesheim in Northern Germany. I look forward to seeing much more work from these two gifted film makers.

Watch the complete video trilogy in my October post:

Q: Are you self-taught or are you attending film school?
A: We do not go to film school. We got to know each other at university, studying cultural studies. There are some film classes you can take, but really, our university is not a very supportive institution when it comes to producing films. It's more theoretical. I also study theater and Paulina studies music as well.

Q: How long have you been making videos/films?
A: We started around two years ago.

Q: Did you grow up in Hildesheim?
A: Paulina grew up in Hamburg, Faraz in Cologne. We both moved to Hildesheim for university.

Q: What specifically inspired the trilogy?
A: There are certain gay scenes that are highly attracted to the codes of skin head culture. It fascinates me how culture processes stigmatized codes and relabels them. There is something about those two very contradictory identity-constructions (homosexual-skinhead) that seem to get along.

Q: Why did you choose the theme of repressed homosexuality?
A:  I know that tackling this issue may not seem very 2015, but since I decided to tell the story of a 65-year-old man who has not experienced the welfare and freedom that my generation has when it comes to homosexuality, it felt right to create a narrative that would not only raise questions about how accepted homosexuality really is nowadays, but also focuses on parts of our society where homosexuality is still an unspeakable concept of sexuality.

Q: Explain why you chose the title "The Dichotomous Trilogy".
A: To me 'dichotomy' means creating a unity with two differing, maybe even contrary things. Mother-Father or Life-Death are two examples that I find rather clear. I felt that the semantic error in the title 'The Dichotomous Trilogy' would would represent the content of our series without really telling what it is about.

Q: Did Charles Murdoch give you any input or did he leave the creative process entirely up to you?
A: He really let us do what we felt was right. At some points we discussed specifics about the edit and the ways we wanted the story to develop.

Q: How did the collaboration with Murdoch come about?
A: We shot the material for a music video series without having any musician to collaborate with. I mean, to be honest, we are nobodies in this huge field of music video production and this was our very first work in music video. We knew that we could not convince anybody by saying "Hey, we think we are good at creating narratives for promos - would you like us to do one for you?" So we shot the material, cut a trailer and sent it to Future Classic [the Australian record label]. Amazingly, they loved it and asked to collaborate.

Q: What and/or who inspire you creatively?
A: We have quite an obsession with Somesuch [the London based production company], they are great and create such powerful visuals. We also love everything M.I.A. does!

Q: Tell me about the amazing lead actor Bernhard Geffke.
A: Bernhard is one of the more experienced old school German actors. He went to the famous Ernst Busch Acting School in Berlin and has mostly done theater work. He was great fun to work with through all the cold outdoors settings, the delicate nude scenes and the tough fight training.

Q: What can you tell me about the crew you worked with?
A:  During the actual shoot we were a team of about 25 people. Some students from our university who are really into fashion did the costumes, two girls who study scenography built the amazing sets, and there were also some lighting and make up professionals. Our director of photography is Simon Vu, cinematography graduate student at the renowned film school in Berlin-Potsdam. He's a good friend and basically the third member of Jünglinge.

Q: What type of camera equipment did you use?
A: We got the opportunity to work with Russian anamorphic lenses from the 1950s so you'll see a lot of flares. We love the anamorphic look. Also, the aspect ratio is very special - it's super narrow. The camera we used was the Sony F5.

Q: Have you made other videos/films?
A: I've made a few fictional and documentary shorts. Paulina shot a documentary in Mexico this year and alsto works on sets a lot. But nothing this big!

Q: What other projects do you have lined up?
A: We do want to continue making music videos because we love their potential in being so stylish and so narrative at the same time! So there'll be something coming. But we are also both big fans of using documentary ways of telling stories and would love to do something longer.

Q: You work together as director and producer. Elaborate on your respective roles.
A: I write all of the stuff, we talk about it together, and Paulina tries to figure out realistic ways to make all the big ideas happen. I always have new visions and am very confident about what I want in terms of casting, cinematography and overall look. Paulina is head of communication with cast, crew and partners and tries to make everyone feel good.  We actually started being friends after working together so we appreciate each other a lot!

Q: Are you currently able to make a living from your creative output?
A: Not yet, but that's definitely the goal. We're starting out right now and are really excited to work on a lot of collaborations with other upcoming artists!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Flyte: Please Eloise + Closer Together

Sam, Will, Nick, Jon

They've just wrapped up a UK tour and there's no new record out, but I still wanted to blog about these guys, just 'cause I love their sound: London band Flyte.

Will Taylor (lead vocals, guitar), Nick Hill (bass, vocals), Sam Berridge (keys, guitar, vocals), and Jon Supran (drums, vocals) got together in 2013 and have so far released four excellent singles as well as two EPs.

Below are the fun, no-frills videos that were produced to go along three of the singles: "Please Eloise", "Close Together" and "Light Me Up".  (iTunes UK)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Findlay: Electric Bones

Earlier this year, 24-year-old Manchester native Natalie Rose Findlay aka Findlay dropped her debut EP 'Electric Bones' in the UK and continental Europe; it has yet to be released in the U.S.

In February a video was published to accompany the fantastic title track (also available as a single). Directed by Sasha Rainbow, the clip so happens to have been filmed on the streets of Paris. Although containing some slightly seedy elements, including a super creepy dude reaching out for Findlay, it also brilliantly captures the vibrant nightlife of the city.

On November 13, people were out enjoying themselves; among them were hundreds of music fans attending a concert who in a surreal, hellish moment in time fell victim to blind rage.  It is normal to want to retreat into fear and submission. It has been said by many already and is often stated post-terror; nevertheless, sometimes a cliche hits it on the nail: the best way to honor the innocent dead and injured is to continue living your life to the fullest.

The tragic news from Paris has a particular relevance for me: as a blogger since 2008, I am always encouraging my readers to go out and see amazing artists/bands who through their music make this a better world. I hope that you will all continue to attend shows and thereby help pay tribute to those who decided to spend a night out on the town with friends and/or their sweetie.

Findlay is currently touring Germany where she has ten shows lined up, starting tonight Tuesday in Heidelberg and finishing in Hannover December 7.   (Nov. & Dec. tour dates)  (iTunes Germany)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Spycc: Other Lover (Featuring High Høøps) + Wauvé Season EP

Spycc and High Høøps

Hailing from Auckland suburb Onehunga, Spycc [pronounced 'spike'] has released solo as well as collaborative work, including the 2011 EP 'Summer Madness' as half of Spycc & INF.

His 2012 solo debut EP 'Self Progression' was followed up in June of this year with the outstanding EP 'Wuavé Season' which features the stellar track "Other Lover" for which he teamed up with fellow Auckland surburbanite High Høøps. creating the perfect mix of flawless flow and disco-funk.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Jamie Woon: Message + Sharpness + Little Wonder

In the fall of 2010, London native Jamie Woon captivated music lovers around the world with the utterly sublime single "Night Air" and its accompanying gorgeous video, both of which had a mysterious, haunting quality to them. This unique opening track from his 2011 debut album 'Mirrorwriting'  gave him a solid fan base that was left hungry for more when the artist went on a semi-hiatus, following the cancellation of concerts in 2011 due to a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Now, five years after releasing "Night Air", the 32-year-old singer-songwriter has released the ten-song full-length 'Making Time' as well as superb live version videos of three of the album tracks. In the expertly filmed clips "Message", "Sharpness" and "Little Wonder" he channels D'Angelo and Stevie Wonder - two of his biggest influences - but in his own unique way. It's great to have him back; it was well worth the wait.

The outstanding musicians and vocalists featured are:
Guitar: Dave Okumu
Bass: Dan Gulino
Drums: Dan See
Percussion: Roxy Harris 
Keys: Charlie Platt
Piano: Gwilym Gold
Backing vocals: Meshach Broderick 
Backing vocals: Wilson Atie

NOTE: The live sessions were recorded at famed Konk Studios in North London, founded by legendary British band The Kinks in 1971. The impressive list of bands/artists who have recorded at Konk is certainly worth reading:!clients/c9q

Woon is currently doing a mini tour: tonight he performs in London and November 16, 18, 19 he'll be in Paris, Berlin and Köln, respectively. March 2 - 10 he has seven shows in the UK.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Son Little: Lay Down + O Mother

I blogged about Son Little (born Aaron Livingston)  almost a year ago after his stellar six-track debut EP 'Things I Forgot' dropped.  Now the Philadelphia based singer-songwriter-guitarist has released his self-titled debut full-length on ANTI Records.  Two outstanding tracks from the album are accompanied by excellent videos: "Lay Down" and "O Mother", both of which showcase the stunning vocals of this gifted artist.

Son Little has a string of shows lined up this fall: between November 2 - 29 he'll be performing around the U.S.; December 4 - 16 he has seven gigs in continental Europe and the UK.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Charles Murdoch: Frogs + Straws + Privacy

Brisbane producer Charles Murdoch drops his debut album 'Point' December 11 on Australian label Future Classic. Two superb singles have been released so far: "Straws" and "Frogs", the latter featuring stellar vocals by fellow Australians Ta-Ku and Wafia as well as Hak of Brooklyn hip hop group Ratking.

UPDATE November 18: Murdoch's equally superb third single "Privacy" has been released. It features the vocals of Melbourne producer/singer Oscar Key Sung.

Film maker team Jünglinge, consisting of director Faraz Shariat and producer Paulina Lorenz, both 20 years old and based in the historic city of Hildesheim in Northern Germany, created a three-part video series to accompany Murdoch's music. The powerful Part 1 and Part 2 were published in June and last week and feature an outstanding performance by Bernhard Geffke. Part 3 drops soon and will be added to this blog post.

UPDATE November 18: Part 3 has been published and completes the flawless trilogy by Jünglinge.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Good Boy: Transparency + Waste Days Or Ease Your Temper

Rian King (bass, vocals), Tom Lindeman (guitar) and Stu McKenzie (drums) make up Australian trio Good Boy. Their brand new 7" vinyl contain the outstanding singles "Transparency" and "Waste Days or Ease Your Temper" and can only be purchased at gigs at this point, but will also be available online in November.

An as of yet untitled EP will be out in the first half of 2016.

A video for "Transparency" was published Friday and is utterly irresistible despite the fairly blatant product placement of a popular Aussie beer as well as clear evidence of FUI (Football Under the Influence).

The band is currently on a mini tour and have two dates left: first up is a show at the Old Bar in Melbourne Monday October 19.  They wrap up at The Bearded Lady in their hometown of Brisbane Friday October 23. Here's hoping they'll also be touring outside Australia in the new year.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Steven A. Clark: Can't Have + Not Ready

Arkansas born/North Carolina raised Steven A. Clark has been based in Miami since 2006. He released his mostly self-produced debut nine-track EP 'Stripes' in 2011 and followed it up in early 2012 with the not so subtly titled full-length 'Fornication Under Consent of the King'.  He dropped his third full-length album 'The Lonely Roller' last month. (NOTE: 'The Lonely Roller' will be released in the UK and continental Europe November 13.)

While the (video) track "Can't Have" is quite good, the superb "Not Ready" from 'Fornication Under Consent of the King' is my personal favorite, especially owing to the sublime vocals. Unfortunately, since no video was ever produced to accompany 'Not Ready', the audio will have to suffice.

Tour: Clark will be at next week's CMJ Music Marathon in NYC, performing October 13 and 16. Between November 2 and 8 he has four shows in the UK and continental Europe. November 11-25 he has close to a dozen shows in North America, including two dates in Toronto and Montreal.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Make Suggestions For Roskilde Festival 2016

I normally don't promote any contests, but I decided to make an exception because, for the most part, it's a very cool one:

Register your artist/band wishes for Roskilde Festival 2016, share your five choices (max) on Facebook (sadly, no other social media qualify which truly sucks) and you may win two tickets.

My suggestions entered into the online form (see link below), were - in random order - five favorite artists/bands that I have blogged about this year and hope will be invited to perform next summer at Roskilde. It was difficult - nay, torturous - to choose only five, but here goes:

Wyles & Simpson (UK)
Silicon (US)
Daye Jack (US)
MINX (Australia)
Hannah Joy (Australia)

Here are the links to my posts on these fantastic artists:

NOTE: The contest must be entered before October 23!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Silicon: Burning Sugar

I try my best not to stick a fantasy hybrid label on any music when I blog, but there are times when it's impossible not to. Such is the case with the track "Burning Sugar" by Silicon. After hearing only a few notes I imagined Marvin Gaye meeting up with Kraftwerk in 1981 during his self-exile in Belgium, traveling to the band's Kling Klang studio in Dusseldorf to record an utterly sublime mutant masterpiece, the kind of brilliant pop confection that Pharrell Williams and Daft Punk might whip up when truly inspired.

The musical magician behind Silicon is Hawaiian-New Zealander composer/singer/multi-instrumentalist/producer Kody Nielson, younger brother of Ruban Nielson of Portland band Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Kody made significant contributions to UMO´s third album 'Multi-Love', released in May.) The two brothers were members of the experimental quartet Mint Chicks which recorded three albums before disbanding in 2010.

The Auckland-based artist named his ten-track debut album 'Personal Computer'; it was released the last week of August and is already generating buzz.

He opens for Chet Faker October 30 (Melbourne) + 31 (Brisbane) as well as November 6 + 7 (both dates in Sydney) and will also open for Tame Impala November 24 (Auckland) + 25 (Wellington.) He also has several gigs scheduled for February at the Laneway Festival; see more details in link below.

The video was co-directed by Nielson and Ralph Brown; additional animation by Natalia Stuyk. (Remember: just say no to drugs and cigarettes.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ryan Adams: 1989 (Album)

Ryan Adams is blessed with a voice so gorgeous he could sing tax regulations and make them sound like poetry. When he decided to cover Taylor Swift's 2014 release '1989' it was likely to the dismay of many of his die hard fans. Fortunately, that did not stop him from completing his project with the same degree of passion he brings to every one of his musical ventures.

Since dropping Monday, the Internet has been buzzing with rave reviews, even from those who thought the 40-year-old singer-songwriter was mad to cover just over a dozen pop songs by a female artist fifteen years his junior, yet the result shows how right his instincts were. Taking inspiration from Springsteen, Neil Young, and The Smiths as well as mining his personal 2014 Christmas blues, Adams deconstructs and reconstructs, thereby creating a collection of songs that adds up to being one of his best albums while at the same time being a beautiful tribute to his own idols and ultimately also to Swift, his fellow gifted songwriter. It was a bold initiative that in someone else's hands might have gone horribly wrong; instead it has turned out to be what may be the album of the year.

There is not a bad one in the bunch, but to me the stand out track is "Out of the Woods"; it takes my breath away, just as his celebrated cover of Oasis's "Wonderwall" did in 2004.

No videos have been published as of today, only audio, but for once, I don't mind: the music more than speaks for itself.

Adams has three shows scheduled for the fall so far. Two of them are benefit concerts for the Bridge School; they take place at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View in Northern California October 24 and 25. (on the impressive bill are Neil Young, Sheryl Crow, Dixie Chicks, Nils Lofgren, Gary Clark Jr., St. Vincent, and Spoon.) The third date is a November 21 show at the Corona Capital Festival in Mexico City (for ticket links, see the Facebook link below.)

NOTE: Now, wouldn't it be fun if Ryan Adams covered Bryan Adams, did a tour and brought his almost-namesake and semi-nemesis on stage for a duet?

Listen to Adam's '1989' on YouTube: (missing as of today for some mysterious reason is the last track on the album: "Clear", co-written by Swift and Imogen Heap.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Nils Frahm: Re + Interview With Director/Animator Balázs Simon

Balázs Simon

Nils Frahm

Usually an artist, a band or a label will commission a music clip from a director. In the case of the stunning instrumental piece "Re" by 32-year-old German musician/composer/producer Nils Frahm from his acclaimed 2012 album 'Screws', it was director/animator Balázs Simon who decided to approach Berlin-based Frahm and London label Erased Tapes with his idea for a video. Fortunately, he got the green light from both and went on to create a hauntingly beautiful work of art which I feel is reminiscent of two of my favorite films, Hayao Mizazaki's Spirited Away (2001) and Disney's original Bambi (1942), yet at the same time is utterly unique.

After stumbling across Simon's video by pure coincidence last week, I Googled his name and found an excellent interview (see link below), done at this year's SXSW festival where his video was screened three times. Still hungry for more information, I contacted the 24-year-old Budapest-based director/animator via his Vimeo page and he graciously agreed to do a Q&A by email.

Q:  I'm not sure how to interpret the video. Is it a metaphoric narrative about loss, fear and healing as some viwers on YouTube have suggested? Or is it a science fiction tale about our planet's disintegration? Or something entirely different? And what or who does the stag represent?
A:  I usually don't talk about that. Let's say it's inspired by personal experiences, but I tried to capture them in a more allegoric way. If it means loss or healing to some, great! Somebody said it's about different religions, another guy told me it's a reflection of the current social-political state in Hungary. It can mean different things; I kinda like that.

Q:  When did you first do computer animation?
A:   I started 3D animation before doing anything 2D, like using Photoshop. I was 16 if I remember correctly, and the learning curve was extremely steep. I had no real idea what I was doing, but I enjoyed it and the habit stayed with me. So after a few years I decided not to study engineering (my original goal), but to pursue animation. One of the best decisions I think.

Q:  Who or what inspires you?
A:   Real life events and people. I mean, I admire a lot of artists (like Roger Deakins or Alex Webb), but I always base my stories on personal experiences.

Q:  What was Nils Frahm's reaction to the video when it was finished?
A:   I was really happy: both he and his label really liked it!

Q:  Are there many animators in Hungary?
A:  Many animators, few original projects though. A lot of people work in international productions. But Hungarian animation has always been outstanding. I really recommend our short films repertoire.

Q:  Do you make a full-time living from your art?
A:  Yes, fortunately. Sometimes I feel like I don't have enough time for personal projects though, but that might change in the near future.

Q:  What projects are you currently working on?
A:   Most of the time I'm doing main title sequences and channel idents, but there are also a couple of personal films in the works. Don't expect them to be finished in the next few months though; they're still in pre-production.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Anya: Greet Me

25-year-old Danish-American singer Anya dropped her debut EP 'The Credit' September 4; the impressive live performance video for the stand out track "Greet Me" was published last December. Raised by her Baltimore native mother on a farm outside Næstved south of Copenhagen after the passing of her Danish father when Anya was three, she was until fairly recently a law student before deciding to focus on her music full time; fortunately for her and the rest of us her gutsy gamble has paid off.

Her creative partner on the EP is fellow Dane Carl Barsk of Århus music collective Hukaos. The busy producer-composer-musician has worked with Karl William, Lord Siva, Louis Rustum, and more.

A mini tour is scheduled for the fall; the September 30 show at Lille Vega in Copenhagen is already sold out, but a second date has been added on October 28. The remaining dates are as follows:

Oct. 1: Posten, Odense
Oct. 2: HeadQuarters, Århus
Oct. 3: Musikkens Hus, Ålborg  (iTunes Denmark)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Daye Jack: Save My Soul + Easy

Only nineteen years old, Nigerian-born/Atlanta-raised wunderkind Daye Jack is now based in New York City where he studies computer science at NYU when he is not busy creating intricately layered soundscapes that compliment his playful vocals.

In 2014 he dropped his musical calling card, the excellent mixtape 'Hello World'. Last week he published a new video to go with the stellar track "Save My Soul" from his sublime ten-song June 29 release 'Soul Glitch'; the artsy-but-not-fartsy clip is by L.A. based director David Gallardo. This comes on the heels of the breezy video published in late June by Chicago native Peter Collins Campbell that accompanies the superb track "Easy".

Los Angeles show: Daye Jack will be part of the bill at the popular Low End Theory event at Lincoln Heights venue The Airliner taking place between 9:30 pm Wednesday September 9 and 1:30 am Thursday September 10. (see link directly below)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Minx: Hold On (Featuring Hannah Joy)

Yesterday I came across what has quickly become a big favorite of mine: a collaboration between Australian DJ/producer Rachel Phillips aka MINX and her fellow Sydney based artist Hannah Joy, a classically trained musician-singer-songwriter whose song "Hold On" was discovered last year on Bandcamp by Phillip's EMI rep and wisely deemed to have great potential as a house track. Joy's stunning vocals + beautiful piano work + Phillip's (& her frequent musical partner Chris Arnott's) superb production is the perfect mix. If there were any fairness in the world this 2014 release would have been a global monster hit by now; shockingly, as of today, the video directed by Adam Callen has only been viewed a mere 22,754 times on YouTube since being published almost a full year ago. So please spread the word!  (iTunes Australia)  (director Adam Callen)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kentaur: The Arms Of The Infinite

Founded less than six months ago in Copenhagen as a trio, Kentaur are having a great year: in June they dropped the superb five-track EP 'Vertebra by Vertebra', they have opened for Rhye and Turboweekend and have two concerts scheduled for Tuesday November 10 and Wednesday November 11 at the prestigious venue Jazzhouse where fellow Danish bands such as Choir of Young Believers and Efterklang regularly perform (the Wednesday Nov. 11 show is already sold out.)

All recent graduates from the renowned RMC [Rhythmic Music Conservatory] in Copenhagen, exceptionally gifted singer Marc Roland Hansen along with formidable producers/co-composers Søren Stenager and Mikkel Juul Jensen create gorgeous soundscapes in the studio which are recreated organically on stage with the stellar help of a drummer, bassist and a violinist.

A stunning video was published in May to accompany the beautiful EP track "The Arms of the Infinite"; it was directed by Christina Amundsen who is part of the intriguing The Current short film short project (see link below.)

NOTE: Be sure to listen to the EP tracks "Matter & Stone" and "Collarbone" on the band's Soundcloud page. ("Matter & Stone" is the sublime song that generated the initial well-deserved buzz earlier this year.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Julia Holter: Feel You

L.A. artist Julia Holter drops her fourth full-length 'Have You in My Wilderness' September 25, but the video for the captivating track "Feel You" was published already in early July. The sweet clip was directed by Jose Wolff and features the singer/songwriter-producer herself as well as a adorable dog (hers?) whose name unfortunately is not listed in the credits.

Holter has an extensive continental Europe/UK fall tour scheduled between October 27 and November 19. (she also has show in Meredith, Australia on December 11)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Hippo Campus: Souls

St. Paul quartet Hippo Campus have one more summer festival gig (August 22 in Minneapolis) after which they travel to the UK for two shows (Leeds, August 28 + Reading, August 30) before kicking off a lengthy U.S. fall tour with a show in Philly September 6.

Their stellar six-track EP 'Bashful Creatures' was released in late February. An excellent video for the superb song "Souls" was published the same month; it was directed by Ethan A. Nelson.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Oh Wonder: Livewire

They have yet to play a gig or drop a record, but the strategy of releasing one utterly sublime track each month for the past year has clearly paid off in terms of buzz for Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht aka Oh Wonder. The classically trained London duo will gift their growing fan base with a self-titled debut full-length September 4; the final teaser track will be released September 1. (the album will contain a total of fifteen tracks.)

Concert dates have been been scheduled in the UK, continental Europe, the U.S. and Australia for the fall and the winter (Note: several shows are already sold out, including the four in L.A. and NYC October 5-8).

A poignant video for the superb song "Livewire" was published in May; it was directed by Mike Lee Thomas.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Internet: Girl

For my lucky readers in the Bay Area: L.A. band The Internet will be performing at 9 pm Friday August 7 at the three-day Jazz Summer Fest in downtown San Jose.  

This year's festival lineup also includes acclaimed saxophonist Kamasi Washington (playing with his two projects The Next Step (Sunday at noon) and The West Coast Get Down (Sunday 9 pm), local duo Astralogik (Sunday 2 pm) and last but not least, there will be a DJ set by Ali Shaheed Mohammad of A Tribe Called Quest (Saturday 10:30 pm).

The Internet released their third full-length 'Ego Death' June 26 ; a decidedly low-budget but nonetheless effective video for the outstanding song "Girl" was published three days earlier.  The track features 22-year-old Haitian-Canadian musician-producer-DJ Kaytranada.

NOTE: The band's Facebook page lists a show not mentioned on Songkick: the gig is scheduled for September 12 at Aaron's Amphitheatre in Atlanta; the lineup includes The Roots, Janelle Monae, Lauryn Hill, Wale, SZA and more.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

On An On: It's Not Over

Minneapolis trio On An On dropped their second full-length 'And The Wave Has Two Sides' this week. The dreamy pop gem "It's Not Over" is accompanied by a fun video by acclaimed director Carlos Lopez Estrada.

Ryne Estwing, Alissa Ricci and Nate Eiesland kick off an extensive U.S. tour August 20 in Milwaukee and wrap it up September 24 in Chicago. (Note: they have one gig in Toronto September 22.)

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Bohicas: Swarm

London quartet The Bohicas drop their debut full-length 'The Making Of' August 21. The excellent early single "Swarm" now has a video to go with it.

(Left to right:) Ady Acolatse (bass, vocals), Dominic McGuinness (guitar, lead vocals) Brendan Heaney (drums, vocals) and  Dominic John (guitar, vocals) are currently playing various summer festivals; next up July 26 is Fuji Rock in Niigata, Japan. October 2-30 they will be touring the UK and continental Europe.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Club Kuru: All The Days + Long Drive + Seesaw

In late April London based artist Club Kuru aka Laurie Erskine released his outstanding debut EP 'All The Days' containing the mesmerizing title track plus three additional stellar songs: "Loot", "Seesaw" and "Long Drive". (July 31 he drops the EP 'Long Drive' which will contain remixes of that track.)

Excellent videos were created to go with three out of four songs from the debut collection; the clips were directed by Erskine's fellow Brits Danny Sangra ("All The Days") and Thomas Bridgen ("Long Drive" and Seesaw")

There are no gigs scheduled at this point, but check his Facebook page for updates.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

LA Priest: Learning To Love

28-year-old Samuel Eastgate aka Sam Dust, formerly of UK band Late Of The Pier, released his debut full-length 'Inji' under the moniker LA Priest [pronounced laaaa priest] late last month. The ten-song album includes the stellar double track "Party Zute/Learning To Love"; a video for "Learning To Love" was published July 2. Directed by his brother Isaac Eastgate, it stars the mad sound scientist himself and a semi-fluffy white dog. What's not to love?

LA Priest has three festival dates scheduled at this point. Saturday, July 18 he'll be performing at the Dour Festival in Belgium. In the fall he has shows at Bestival on the Isle of Wight (September 10-13) and at Iceland Airwaves in Reykjavik (November 4-8).

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Gøspel: Ain't Gonna Let You In

Forming only last year, London trio Gøspel have just dropped their third single "Ain't Gonna Let You In".  It follows the release of "EMPR" in January and the debut single "Disasters Running Wild" in July of 2014. All three outstanding tracks are available on their Bandcamp page; "Ain't Gonna Let You In" is also available on iTunes UK.  

The stunning vocals are courtesy of Beth Anderton-Allen who together with Will Pennell and Chris Willsher have managed to create an utterly hypnotic sound. Here's hoping there are plans for both a debut full-length and substantial touring around and outside the UK.

The montage accompanying "Ain't Gonna Let You In" is a hot, glorious mess that somehow works as the perfect music video. It was directed/edited by The Stag aka Oliver.  (iTunes UK)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Josh Flowers & The Wild: I'm Gone + Jacques Cousteau

London quartet Josh Flowers & The Wild released their debut five-track EP 'Young Bones' in March of 2013 and will drop a full-length later this year.  Two outstanding teaser songs from the upcoming album have been uploaded to Soundcloud: "I'm Gone" and "Jacques Cousteau".

The band is currently doing a mini-tour at various venues around London: next up Thursday June 25 is a show at storied pub The KPH where Tom Jones once performed for 10 pounds in the early days of his career.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Nico & Vinz: When The Day Comes

I first wrote about Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz two years ago and posted the video for the stellar song "Am I Wrong" which has since then become a big hit worldwide, incl. in the U.S. The track is included on the full-length 'Black Star Elephant', released in October 2014. (Note: the two changed their name from Envy after signing with Warner Bros. in January 2014.)

Their latest video, a poignant tale accompanying the outstanding track "When the Day Comes", was published in September 2014. As with the excellent clip that was shot for "Am I Wrong", this one too was directed by fellow Norwegian Kavar Singh.

Having toured extensively in Europe and the U.S. throughout 2014, it must be nice to slow things down a little this year. So far there are only two dates scheduled for the summer:  Friday June 26 they have a show at the three-day Bråvalla Festival in Norrköping, Sweden. Friday July 3 they will be performing at the Superdome in New Orleans as part of the four-day Essence Festival.

My post from two years ago:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Melody Gardot: Preacherman (Posted In Tribute To Kalief Browder)

R.I.P. Kalief Browder May 25, 1993 - June 6, 2015

30-year-old Philadelphia singer-songwriter-musician Melody Gardot takes a bold new direction both musically and lyrically on her fourth full-length, released June 1.  Poignantly entitled 'The Currency of Man', its fifteen tracks explore themes of social justice, including racism and homelessness. The outstanding song "Preacherman" is a powerful eulogy for 14-year-old Emmet Till, murdered in the summer of 1955 in Mississippi.

It seems to me fitting to post the haunting video accompanying "Preacherman" as a tribute to 22-year-old Kalief Browder.  Held at the infamous Rikers Island prison in NYC without trial for three hellish years (2010-2013, nearly two of them spent in solitary confinement) for a crime he did not commit, his brief time as a free man came to an end this past Saturday June 6 when he hanged himself at home in the Bronx.

I urge you to read the full October, 2014 story written by Jennifer Gonnerman in the New Yorker as well as the June 7 obituary, also written by Gonnerman; see links below. Kalief's death may be classified as suicide by hanging, but in reality his death was caused by racism and gross miscarriage of justice. His tragic story boggles the mind, tears at the heart and scars the soul, just as Emmet Till's story continues to do, sixty years later.

Gardot kicks off her extensive summer and fall European tour schedule this week with a show Friday June 13 in Deauville, France.

"Preacherman" was directed by Calum MacDiarmid who splits his time between London and L.A. The video was shot in and around the Mississippi city of Canton, a popular filming location. The remarkable lead is Jackson, MS native Jeanna Dampier. A molecular biologist by day, this is her first major role. In the clip she carries her son Arthur; her husband Reggie Dampier plays the preacher. (Their daughter Elizabeth was the voice of young Tiana in the 2009 Disney feature 'The Princess and the Frog'.)