Week in Pop: Crown Plaza, The Fourth Wall, Konig, Pangs, Pleasers

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MacGillivray, Midnight Plus One, Letter Yellow, United Ghosts, London O’Connor guest selections.

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Sjimon Gompers | June 26, 2015

Catching up with Nima Kazerouni and Crown Plaza.

Providing visions, inspirations, and comforts throughout the chaos of this summer; Impose’s Week in Pop brings you a few of our favorite rising stars with an obligatory glance at some of this week’s top stories. First up, this Friday morning saw the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide; and in the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina shootings, Killer Mike logically tore down the Confederate flag with some stern words and a rousing, “Long live the South, and quickly die the Confederacy;” Google Play Music offered a free version replete with advertisements; a new song from The Libertines was debuted onstage at the Netherlands’ Best Kept Secret Festival; wild and wacky times presented in behind the scenes Cherry Bomb tour footage from Tyler, the Creator; Purity Ring announced fall world tour; major collaboration between The Chemical Brothers x St. Vincent; Apple will also pay artists and labels during the 90-day free trial of the Apple Music service, and also signed a deal with global independent networks from Beggars Group and beyond; Janet Jackson releases first song in years; Four Tet dropped Morning/Evening; Canadian politicians sporting t-shirts with Nine Inch Nails logo; get ready for the David Bowie box sets to begin dropping on September 5 via Parlophone; Ariel Pink and The Black Lips to tour together this fall; Azealia Banks canceled her Glastonbury performance; original drummer Jimmy Chamberlain is joining Smashing Pumpkins for their summer tour; Damon Albarn dropped a trailer for his wonder.land musical; following up his recent pot bust, Rick Ross got arrested for kidnapping, assault, and battery; Donald Trump versus Neil Young; Thurston Moore collaborated with Katie Couric; Skrillex collaborated with Katie Couric; and good ol’ Morrissey performed “Kiss Me a Lot” on The Tonight Show.

Looking forward toward a brighter future, we bring you the latest breaking exclusives and insights from Crown Plaza, The Fourth Wall, Konig, Pangs, Pleasers, MacGillivray, Midnight Plus One, The Letter Yellow, United Ghosts, Henry Canyons, Kissing Party, Snow in Mexico, featuring guest selections by London O’Connor, and more —in no particular order.

Crown Plaza

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Turning back the clocks to the summer of 2012, Nima Kazerouni introduced us to what was at the time a humble solo side project called Crown Plaza that was born out of recordings made in an LAX office. At the time his band So Many Wizards had just released the lauded album Warm Nothing full of transcendent testaments whereas Crown Plaza provided an even closer intimate portrayal of Kazerouni’s own experiences, ruminations, migrations, discontinuity of relationships and more through lo-fi tapes recorded straight from the heart. Fast forward ahead from the Chem Waves Volume 1 EP, and a smattering of demos; Crown Plaza has become a full band where Nima is joined by Martin Tomemitsu Roark, Christina Gaillard, and James Roehl that continues forth in the spirit of those initial recordings of observing the arrivals and departures of people and places in the multifaceted terminals of life.

Which brings us to the world premiere of Crown Plaza’s Christophe Smith made video for “LGO (Life Goes On)”, where pondered thoughts on the circles of life are brought to animated art forms that bridge sea and sky with the motion of shapes, colors, designs, and more that paints together metaphors and mythologies that pertain to the origins and cycles of life. Christophe—a good friend of Nima’s—mixes media of video that captures the ripple of waves and clouds while mixing mediums of inks, paints, pencil, and a continuously spinning plate. Matching in time to the personal reflections made on “LGO” about family, love, and recognizing the temporal nature of the moment; Smith’s visuals involve swirls of human figures, to enchanted creatures, polka dot rain fall, life in utero, to moving mandalas that portray the secret lives of plants, and the budding of a bouquet’s worth of flowers. Just as everything in “LGO” is centered around the cycles of experiences where the past and future are what they are and the experiences of being present in the here and now take on an eternal, crystallized quality heard in Nima’s refrain of “it’s so unreal…” Crown Plaza’s audio dynamics on “LGO” rattle and hum in a “Tomorrow Never Knows” mystery tour where the understanding of time, place, and pertinence is cast into a metaphysical-like notion where the greatest importance is paced on the ineffable magic of the moments that are next to impossible to return after time itself sets sail. Following the video debut of “LGO”, read our recent interview with Crown Plaza frontman Nima Kazerouni.

Looking back at the humble Crown Plaza beginnings (holed up in an LAX office recordings, recordings in transitions between homes, and such)—from being a
So Many Wizards side, to a full on phenomenon that now has it’s own share of side projects, and while you have been hopping around through more bands & endeavors than we can count. What are your own thoughts on the span of time, and changes that have been witnessed from the beginning of Crown Plaza’s inception to now?

Man time is so fleeting. Starting Crown Plaza in that LAX office seems like only yesterday but it’s been 3 years. Bouncing back and forth from Tucson to LA while transitioning into the amazing world of fatherhood and continuing the crazy life of music with all the different new projects could have a persons head spinning. Thankfully I’ve learned to keep the center constant and trust in my core passions. I have so much love for everyone since the Crown Plaza one-man-show who’s come to partake in this crazy world of mine. Thank you all for letting me be me.

Feels like “LGO (Life Goes On) is your own George Harrison All Things Must Pass kinda moment, especially with lyrics like this:

cause life goes on
life goes all around you
life goes on
with or without you…

Even your band So Many Wizards has had these motifs rolling about lately like the single “Everybody Goes Away”. What is it about these cycles of transitions that continue to teach us so much creatively, personally, etc?

It’s such a humbling experience to go through life’s transitions with people constantly coming and going. Life really does continue no matter what the situation. Learning to love this and embrace it is the the only way to go. Portraying anger and frustration with songs like “everybody goes away.” is also super necessary. It’s all part of the process of acceptance and “LGO” is also on that spectrum albeit coming from the other side.

crown plaza week in pop 2

The “LGO (Life Goes On)” video from Christophe Smith of an animated turning circle of evolving designs, & drawings super imposed over backgrounds of slowly ripping water translates the song’s intimate reflections and hushed tones. Kinda feel like there is a whole visual ancient Mesopotamian creation myth interpretation at work that provides a beautiful overlay to lyrics like:

While I lay in bed
I imagine looking back
to when I’m old and grey
to this very day
to Nico sleeping next to me
to Vera laughing as Bree makes a face.

Thoughts on what the video means to you about “LGO”?

Christophe is such an amazing artist and visual human being. I’ve known him since I was an adolescent skateboarding doing hood rat stuff together and he’s always blown my mind with his art. The dude really gets me and he really did do the song justice. I absolutely loved how he portrayed those transformations while super imposing all the different mediums together. The images line up with the lyrics perfectly. Definitely moved me the first time I saw it. Everyone should check out his other art at christophesmithgallery.com.

What else are you and Martin Tomemitsu Roark cooking up next?

Martin and I are actually putting the finishing touches on the Crown Plaza debut full length that we recorded at the Converse Rubber Tracks studio in DTLA. This will be the first Crown Plaza full band recordings with Christina Gaillard on drums / backup vocals and James Roehl on lead guitar. Can’t wait for this…before this comes out, there’s a split 7” that will come out with our dear friends Winter on Danger Collective Records.

Christina Gaillard contributing Crown Plaza vocals, with Martin Tomemitsu at the audio controls.

Christina Gaillard contributing Crown Plaza vocals, with Martin Tomemitsu at the audio controls.

The unreleased Crown Plaza demos you have played for me and sent over are incredible. Will they too see the light of day?

There’s just so many demos…What do I do with all of them? They definitely need to see the light of day and I promise they will somehow.

Give us updates from all the bands, and projects you’re apart of right now:
Nectarine is finishing the first proper studio EP recordings. Can’t wait for this.
Human Touch will be going on tour in August and will be releasing more singles soon and an album early next year. So Many Wizards plays the amazing Lolipalooza Festival Saturday June 28 and will have the sophomore follow up album, Heavy Vision out in the fall.

What are you most excited about in Echo Park and the LA scenes, and elsewhere right now?

Lolipop Records is killing it right now and continues to grow and extend their reach far and beyond. So excited to be part of that community. Nicest and most humble people ever. So refreshing to see.

Can you leave us with some parting words of wisdom?

One day when I was sitting on the bed in Tucson with Bree, Vera (my newly born daughter), and my dog Nico (rest in paradise), I had this overwhelming realization that moments like this were fleeting and they would soon be just a faint memory. To appreciate the moment 10 fold, I pretended silently that the moment I was experiencing was actually a gift that someone in the future gave to me by allowing me to travel back in time to that very day. I pretended as if I hadn’t seen my dog or that room for decades and it made me feel that moment so much more intensely with even more appreciation than I even thought I ever could. That’s the way we need to see our everyday. Life is passing us by so fast with or without our attention and most people are asleep at the wheel —”LGO”.

Pleasers

Pleasers from left; Ben, Matthew, and Julian.

Pleasers from left; Ben, Matthew, and Julian.

The following artist who has continued to grace the pages and servers of Impose now for years hardly needs an introduction. You know him from his sounds that mark the dusty southwest trails from Oakland to Austin, Bare Wires, Warm Soda, Fuzzy City Recordings, and the proliferation of his solo work — Matthew Melton presents his newest side project Pleasers, along with the premiere of “Reject Teen” that commands the the breadth of a Fast Times at Ridgemont High tale of youth in rebellion distilled into a two and a half minute catchy, peppy, and poppy single. Like the Fuzz City sanctified school of scuzz and all analog everything; Melton does not disappoint and gives you an alternate cult universe rawer and stranger than his current and past projects available later this summer on the debut 7″ from Southpaw Records.

Pleasers’ “Reject Teen” takes us back to the tough years of school daze where rebelling against the authoritative powers is the order of the day. Matthew spits his tale of youthful ne’er-do-wells underscored by the choppy guitar rhythms, backed by Ben on bass, and Julian on drums. The vintage garage sound of power pop and anarchic punk ethics are put in full form, where Melton makes an ode to the rejected rebels without cause or pause who look to others discarded by society and the school system to find each other only to ultimately own up to their own individuality. Melton relishes in the problem child paradigm in a meta-narrative of skipping class to smoke grass in the bathroom, discreet under the desk handies, blowouts with parents, and other failed relationships add up to the climax that finds the prep school engulfed in the flames by the end that carries out the attitude of “School’s Out For Summer” in a more succinct, sleazier, and scuzzier manner. Following the hi-jinx, bad behavior, and leather jacket bravado on the debut of “Reject Teen”; be sure to check out our following latest interview with the great Matthew Melton.

What pleasing events brought about the dawning of Pleasers?

When I moved to Austin, it only made sense to team up with my old buddy Ben Tipton and start a punk band. He is also the guy who could be held responsible for inspiring me to move to Austin in the first place ! A true rock-n-roller, proud to know the guy.

What sounds for you have been pleasing to your ears?

Kill City.

What pleased you the most about the making of the this EP, and with this side project?

Well Julian didn’t mess up as much as we thought he was going to, so that was cool. I have always recorded everything myself so it was really chill, we just got some tacos and Bud Lights and did it at my house.

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As someone with such a distinct ear for these analogous sounds, how do you know when a sound is ready with the Matthew Melton / Fuzz City Studios sound?

If you have to ask you’ll never know! Seriously though, its pretty easy, I just kind of mic everything up and try to get a good vibe going in the room and then add slap back on everything.

Tell us about what other cool projects you’re working on right now, you’re always up to something cool!

Well I have written the new Warm Soda album and its going to be a bit more psychedelic than the first three I think, but you never know how its going to come out. I’m also starting a group with my wife Doris that is going to be really cool and different. I have a new solo album that’s in the works as well that is coming out on Southpaw Records that is going to be interesting as well!

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Thoughts on the future of real, raw, pure, independent rock and roll?

Rock and roll is here to stay. I try to stay living in the present as much as possible. If you worry too much about what everything is building up to it might stunt your intentions and that’s way less mystical than human beings actually should be. Punks just aren’t psychedelic enough nowadays. It seems we have lost touch with our instincts and keep trying to create this new future world when what we really need to do is just go with the flow and stop trying to be like everyone else.

Pleasers’ debut 7″ will be available later this summer from Southpaw Records.

Pangs

Introducing Pangs; photograph by Hunter Dixon.

Introducing Pangs; photograph by Hunter Dixon.

We premiered Nudity’s “Supernatty” a while back because the Nashville group made one of most instantaneous songs one could ever hope or wish for. The economic DIY use of available electronic instruments and direct hit of hooks create unusual ear worms that wriggle themselves deep within the places in the psyche that archive and chronicle sound sequences heard in the past and their corresponding responses, associative feelings, etc. And now today we are pleased to welcome back Michelle and the gang under the moniker of Pangs, who just released their debut single “Already Dead”, and a cover of Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World”. And like the aforementioned execution precision found with Nudity, Pangs sets out to be the literal pang that occurs on a near physiological level from within the being of the listener that experiences a host of reactions caused via audio ingestion.

Pangs hits the ground running on “Already Dead” that is versed in the greatest of pop singles that have ever ran the three minute mile model. The life and death continuum conventions are discarded for the existential cosmic paths of connections, conceptions of the self and others that are all star-crossed in perpendicular maneuvers across an astral plane graph. “You and me are make-believe, all in your head, already dead…space is the place, not the land of the living.” The weirdness that flows between people is put to big stage stomping rhythm keys, hyped up percussion mechanics, an aura where every note carries an alluring appeal, expertly handled by Michelle’s bold and beautiful delivery, and Nick Bennett’s production. “Whole Wide World” takes the 1977 original and spruces up the mod pep patches with Pangs pop twists that turns everything into a plugged-in/switched-on affair where every chord and progression couplet is conveyed through the swiftest possible vehicle of audio abilities. Following the listen to the new single, check out our interview with Michelle from Pangs / Nudity.

From Nudity to Pangs, what sorts of visionary pop pangs came into play for the creation of this solo outlet?

Pangs is just another outlet for us. Beginnings are always fun. There’s no history. So let’s just see!

“Already Dead” is a real existential electrified jam, what sorts of life and death like scenarios informed it?

I try to write the type of songs I like to listen to and lyrically those can be veiled; enough to trigger whatever creative response from the listener. That’s heavy, where somebody hears your words and gets to build something personally significant from them. It’s a deep connection if you can make it. All the same we like really literal songs too.

“Already Dead” is just one of those phrases that you can start off with and it kind of writes the rest. We dug in from there.

Tell us too about the universally seeking modes that informed “Whole Wide World”.

That’s a song you wish you could write. It’s by Wreckless Eric; one of the first things he did for Stiff Records as a single in 1977. I think his was produced by Nick Lowe who played bass on it too. It’s just two chords and a fuck-off perfect melody all in a snarling jangly three minutes. It’s also funny, poignant, naïve and wise all at once. Unbeatable. But you try anyway.

Michelle from Pangs / Nudity; photographed by Sarah Plotkin.

Michelle from Pangs / Nudity; photographed by Sarah Plotkin.

Latest cool things and happenings in Nashville right now?

Nashville is growing and changing faster than I can ever remember. We’re drawn to most anyone doing genuine work here because it feels immune to any current identity upheaval. And that feels like our old Nashville. There’s long been a sort of unapologetic anti-pretension here that the best elements just innately adhere to. These are the resilient street-level kids, heads down doing good work; civic issues, art, all of it. Sometimes I wonder if I’d recognize Nashville without them. I hope I don’t find out.

So far as music goes here lately, check out the electronic/”experimental” — whatever that means — scene: Hobbledions, Sugar Sk*_*lls and Coupler are a few. There’s a rapper called Mike Floss (formerly Openmic) who’s doing damn good work with producer Ducko McFli. We’re glad this stuff is happening alongside Nashville’s thriving rock and punk scenes, if not getting quite the attention.

Other releases in the works from Pangs, EPs, LPs, collaborations, and the like?

Yeah more songs are coming. They might be way different than this set. It’s not deliberate but each time we get in the studio with a new song it dictates its own style and we just get out of the way to make it happen. So there might be some grimy punk shit and then some really pop stuff and who knows what else. I think that somehow in 2015 that still fucks with some people’s perceptions and scenes. We’re not trying to but, if that’s the result, so be it. We just want to stay busy and be fearless.

We would love to collaborate. There’s so much room to get outside your own head with music. It’s always an attractive prospect especially after writing and recording something all by yourself. Each process has its allure so the ideal is having connections and collaborations when you want them and plenty of solo work to do when that’s where you are. Yeah we’d love to work with people, hit us up!

Top five most exciting things you have heard lately?

Colleen Green, “Pay Attention”

QT, “Hey QT”

Part Time, “Pussy Of My Dreams”

Holly Waxwing, Peach Winks

Fielded, “REIGN”

Pangs’ debut single “Already Dead” b/w “Whole Wide World” is available now via Bandcamp.

Konig

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Checking in with Toronto’s ever prolific independent scenes, we found the work of Nadia Pacey, otherwise known as Konig who debuts the meloncholy flicker and glow of “Candle”. On the heels of her recent single, “How I Feel” also from her upcoming album Puberty available TBD from Yellow K Records; Nadia confesses cares in a frame of mind that brings to the surface the latent feelings held over from the awkward times of adolescence that impact the time, events, and episodes that span from that time to the present. A film degree graduate from Ryerson University class of 2014 who works at a theater, known to draft prose, and song—Pacey conveys the bottled up reflections left over from relationships passed, and finds a way to collect the chaos from the troubled teenage years in a musical order designed like the thematic music modeled for a movie heroine’s presence heard throughout the film’s soundtrack.

“Candle” burns from the wick in an evocative synth array between sparse notes set at the foreground of a deep amber key-sustained canvas. Nadia reveals reserved heart wound connections to a former lover that plays out like a candid moment of emotional solace observed like a wallflower at prom walking and dancing by herself while gazing into the windows of the gymnasium, “watching all the dances done…and always doing none.” Konig displays vulnerabilities on her sleeve in a slow dance that imagines herself like a candle who burns brighter on account of the lighter who stokes the fire through synergistic synthesis of chemical bonds. Pacey keeps her light twinkling in a sad, wistful way that mulls through the losses of the past while slowly swaying solo toward a keyboard sparkling passage of her own creation. Konig, aka Nadia Pacey joined us for a an insightful conversation featured right after the following debut of “Candle”.

When did Konig begin as a solo musical vehicle for you?

I started writing music as Konig the summer of 2013. I’d made an album’s worth of shitty songs with Garageband on an iPad before my boyfriend at the time introduced me to Logic and midi controllers – a total eye opener. That month I visited my family in Kingston, Ontario, for the first time in quite a while and spent the bulk of my stay by myself. During the visit I almost exclusively listened to Crystal Castles’ first two albums and Unbroken by Demi Lovato. One morning I went out for a run by myself and was shocked at how eerie my neighborhood was at 6am. I ran home and wrote my first proper song in Logic, but didn’t release anything until about a year later — I was super shy. I’d only written music on the guitar and piano, and for a band, up until that point.

How did this coming of age focus approach inform the album Puberty?

Well, I didn’t really think of it as a ‘coming-of-age’-type project until I’d finished a bunch of songs already. I’ve been in a weird place for the past couple of months where I feel like a melodramatic teenager. I’m basically in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. It is almost total garbage. A lot of things happened during the production to help solidify that: I went through a massive break up; moved back to my hometown; became best friends with my mom; rekindled friendships from high school. On occasion I’ll have strange moments with high school crushes that I used to worship… I spend a lot of time being embarrassing about 16-year-old Nadia. Also being embarrassed about 23-year-old Nadia, let’s be real.

Those garbage feelings really informed the music in a huge way since they’re pretty much all I write about, so thematically the songs just fit together. Also, after I did realize that I was going through a period of “growth,” it allowed me to give myself leave to be as juvenile and dark as my heart desired. I may never stop, as it is pretty freeing.

What for was the process like of making the personal, “Candle”?

There was a period of a few weeks when I was sleeping on my friend Graham’s couch (Graham is, as a result, a featured personality on the album) and didn’t have a computer to write music with. At one point my ex let me borrow his laptop (he is a great guy). I used the laptop keyboard instead of a midi-controller for the music, and the vocal was recorded on the Macbook microphone. Whether or not I was hungover is open to debate, but I was definitely sad at the time. There was a little while during the editing stage where I got into a habit of crying every time I’d get to the end of the song. Have I driven the point home that I was a mess? I was a mess.

How would you describe your own musical steps of progression in a behind-the-music documentary sort of way?

It depends on the day. I tend go for a walk for a bit, then usually a short poem pops into my head, usually the length of a verse. That comes with a melody, so I type the verse up on my phone, then record an a cappella version while I walk around. I go home, make a beat. I match the aforementioned lyrics with the music I made if they feel right together. Often times they don’t, so I’ll use other lyrics I’ve recently written if I like the music, or I just do something new. I’ll have a complete song in about seven to ten hours, plus or minus some time based on whether or not my surrounding environment is noisy, somebody speaks to me, dinner happens, or if the number of smoke and pee breaks are many. I come back to the music over the course of subsequent weeks to do needed additions or edits — this tends to happen between three to six times.

Toronto always has so many cool artists and movements happening, was wondering what you are really excited about right now in your local vicinity?

I have spent a lot of time in my various rooms lately, I’ll say that now, but I get really, really excited whenever my friends do stuff. I know a lot of super talented people. Everyone should listen to Nicole Dollanganger and LUKA, and any music touched by Steven Foster. The man is a talent. Also, The Laser Blast Film Society is great – this week at the Royal Cinema in Toronto they’re doing an event called What The Film Festival. The guys who do Laser Blast really know how to program an evening. They don’t make bad choices, and screen VHS gold on the regular.

Other thoughts on what has been informing your recent sounds as of late?

Graham would constantly play great music in his living room while I stayed there. I listened to some stuff I’d never really listened to before. Most of it was old jazz, but Graham is actually a music library containing a vast knowledge that he’s super modest about. Music for weeks, literally. (In response, I tried to convert him to Kanye. Graham wasn’t having it but he had some great insights about the screams in “I Am A God”.) That and I’ve been having very real, in-depth conversations with people, and sometimes I like to write down their quotes. A friend of mine on his ex: ‘If both of us knew each other now, one of us would have to die.’ A cab driver of his wife who he hates: ‘She’s acting like a king-lady.’

Other artists you are really fascinated by right now?

Well, the extent of my fascination with artists themselves doesn’t extend much beyond their Wikipedia pages, YouTube interviews and music videos. I feel like I don’t delve into their personalities, just their albums (but are these one and the same? Whoooooa.) and the way those albums are constructed. Lately I’ve been listening to Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave, Sufjan Stevens’s Carrie & Lowell, Kanye West’s Yeezus, Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die, a collection of Otis Redding’s greatest hits (I’ve been meaning to sit down with a proper album) and Taylor Swift’s 1989. Last week I discovered Spazzkid through a Buzzfeed video and bought Desire 願う. I recommend going to a Tim Horton’s and listening to 40 Winks while watching the slow motion food ads they play on their menu. You can really lose yourself.

Next moves for Konig?

Next moves, not necessarily in this order: I’m signing with Yellow K Records for Puberty’s release! We’ll be putting it out on cassette together. I did a job interview at Value Village on Saturday, but I don’t think I got it (currently Konig daylights as a jobless bum who lives with her parents), and I’ve applied to Starbucks. I just read Streetcar Named Desire. I plan to go to a used book store to find Cat On A Hot Tin Roof or The Glass Menagerie, and also Meals In Minutes by Jamie Oliver.

Konig’s Puberty will be available TBD from Yellow K Records.

United Ghosts

United Ghosts, photographed by Dyland Gordon.

United Ghosts, photographed by Dyland Gordon.

Re-envisioning their Dear Electric Sun EP, LA’s United Ghosts have been tinkering with their musical chemistry to hear and see what other new possibilities exist. The duo Sha Sabi and Axel Ray Steuerwald have recently had their song “Shine And Let Shine” revamped by the UK’s Wildbeliever, and now Axel Ray under his alter-ego moniker The Black Windmill introduces the premiere of the Black Windmill Dub Mix of their single, “Out Of Love”, with Sha Sabi at the video trip control command center. In our interview with the pair following the debut, Axel hinted at the forthcoming new remix in this series will most likely be from Chris Seligman from Canada’s Stars, with insights into a Black Windmill EP made with Michael Deragon.

The Black Windmill Dub Mix and video for “Out of Love” blends visuals found from the original’s video spliced with effects, and vintage film snippets that feature the supernatural, and magical. Mystical doorways to heaven emerge with the burn of lightbulbs in the foreground, as images of the band walking, performing, singing, and posing are encrusted with images of diamonds surrounded by a world of paper-cut stars. Images of vessels crashing against brick walls, and earthly possessions and items of iolatry are both sucked into the celestial portal, as a stripped down echo dubbed rhythm collects Sabi and Axel’s looping and spiralling vocal stems that get caught in quicksand buzz of sink-or-strut guitars. Just like the words that spell out “COME” from the behind the gateway to the mystery dimensions, United Ghosts via Black Windmill invite you into their own universe where they continue to experiment with the evolutionary genome code of their own synergy. Immediately following The Black Windmill Dub Mix and video for “Out of Love” world premiere; read our interview with United Ghosts’ Axel and Sabi.

How did United Ghosts move from the studio into a full band and then back to a two-piece?

Axel: I guess the two of us have a strange way of working, a slightly surreal bubble we get into, isolated from the world. The initial studio phase was us creating our first songs in a Garage as a two-piece. Then we got a couple more people involved for the first album and turned into a full 4-piece band, but after a long European tour in late 2013 it became apparent that we wanted to change direction and go back to the original way of working. Back into our bubble, if you will. So, we cut it back to the original two-piece to write the Dear Electric Sun EP and the next album, which we’re working on now.

Sha: We use a lot of vintage synthesizers, various textures and beats that we’re able to layer into the live set as loops that we bring in and out. For live shows we also play with a drummer though– the electronic beats are a big part of the signature and pulse of the sound, but playing a show just isn’t quite as much fun without the energy of live drums.

In what ways has the hazy, murky, electric night-pulse of LA informed the sound of the group?

Axel: In a big way! LA has its own rhythm, the light grid, people and traffic, always moving, the way it flickers on and off all the time, especially at night. That definitely inspired our recent venture into more electronic beats and the synth-pulse underneath the guitars. Plus the multitude of scenes of electronic and experimental music is reflected in this series of remixes we’re now doing. Watch out for the next one by the way, by our pal Chris Seligman from the band Stars.

Take us through the leaps made from 2013’s self-titled album to the Dear Electric Sun EP.

Sha: The big leap was to go back to the two piece writing core, strip things down and work the way we did when we started. Where the album was more sprawling and epic with the full band, I think this felt more focused and sharper. Each sound and texture has it’s own space in the spectrum, whereas sometimes with the larger setup things can get swept into a wash of sound. And we’re using a lot more synths, electronic elements, beats and instruments that aren’t part of the usual guitar band set-up.

How did the The Black Windmill alter ego come about, Axel?

Axel: The Black Windmill is just this open thing, something I came up with as a platform to play around with outside of United Ghosts. It can be just me, or a loose collective involving other musicians. Right now I’m working on what might become a Black Windmill EP with muscian/artist Michael Deragon.

Sha, how did you go about creating a ‘remix/mashup’ video for the “Out of Love” remix?

Sha: I had been experimenting with the idea of ‘painting with light’ by using long exposures, and when we worked with director Arian Soheili on the original “Out of Love” video, we used a super slow motion camera to capture the detailed trails of vintage lightbulbs swinging (and crashing!)…some of those shots appear in the original video, but given the BPM of the original song, there was a lot of really cool slow motion footage still sitting on a hard drive. When I heard the slower, trippier dub grooves of the Black Windmill remix, I started playing around with that footage and it worked deliciously with the track…I also had this vision of a woman running down a hallway…then through a doorway into nothing but starlight, outer space…you try to follow her and the door closes, she’s always just out of reach…I was originally going to shoot that, but found a few vintage footage gems for those shots that brought a new level of irony to the song and a bit of surrealism. I like to composite imagery from different sources to add layers of depth and context to the visuals, and sometimes stumble upon another dimension in the process.

A few favorite obscure LA artists you all dig?

Axel/Sha: That’s tough, there are so many acts here, new bands crop up every day, it’s hard to keep up. LA Witch is cool, we’ve known them for a long time and it’s great to see them getting some well-deserved recognition. At our last residency we also invited Tennis System, Nightmare Air, Flaamingoes, Spaceships, I’m sure I’m forgetting a few here. Big Black Delta was a great show when we played together, really powerful sound and setup.

United Ghosts’ Dear Electric Sun is available now via Bandcamp.

MacGillivray

macgillivary week in pop

Enter the land of fables, poems, and songs from Northern Britain, courtesy of MacGillivray who premieres the haunted windy gusts of noir tales of “Dirty Knife” from her upcoming album, Once Upon a Dirty Ear available July 6 from Hundred Acre Recordings. The Scotland artist descends from her perch in the Highlands for her fifth proper album, MacGillivray cloaks her vocal recitations with sections that excerpt choral cathedral choir backup that are intertwined with an echo of voices that traces across the hills, and lowly valleys where the muted baroque instrumentation is imbricated with bellowing breezes and blown breath of wind.

Haunted memories and creative artistic license set the stage for MacGillivray’s “Dirty Knife”, where dirty smocks and dirty hearts are met in a kind a mix of supernatural wonders that defy the polarities of the conventionally thought life and death continuum. The sensory of being lost in the Highlands is stirred by the atmospheric digital ambiance that plagues a folk song about cursed and damned entities that intertwine the angelic dimensions with earthly forces. The mysteries that lie at the subtext of MacGillivray’s delivery are found in the rumbling murmurs heard from James Young’s production and Eric Random’s understated and evocative rhythm section that together wrap environments of both the worldly and other-worldly at the same time and occurring on the same high altitude planes of existence. After the following premiere listen to “Dirty Knife”, read our interview session with MacGillivray.

Tell us about the real life events that informed and inspired the narrative and production of “Dirty Knife”.

Working in a dissection room with angels. I know of somebody who translated Samurai sword play into playing the guitar with a knife. The real situation is embedded deep in a childhood outhouse with braces of birds, a knife sticking a letter to a door and an overwhelming sense of fear. Production is the fine work of James Young (John Cale, Nico) and Eric Random (Cabaret Voltaire) for a kind of splayed drum n bass.

Give us some insights into your own creative approaches in making this kind of evocative music.

Confessionally speaking, this is a real handkerchief drawer of an album that is suspended around an early recording with Young’s watery, evocative piano on the track “Watergaw”. Now, the word watergaw is Scots for a broken shaft of rainbow — and I’m referring to Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid’s seminal poem “The Watergate” in this piece as an inspiration. The rest adhered itself to this sonic space in allusion to early 4AD sound. I am very fortunate in that Tim Noble at Hundred Acre Recordings and musician with The Lowland Hundred had a finely tuned and sympathetic ear and has been enormously supportive through the evolution of the album.

The latest from Scotland?

Well the apparition of hope is upon us, quietly sitting watching. Even just to be performing in Edinburgh and Glasgow right now, I have those conversations — usually in cabs — about a kind of living history that’s punctuated with a political and cultural hope that happens rarely. You just hope that kind of hope isn’t dangerous.

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How did the environments and worlds of Scotland inform your album, Once Upon a Dirty Ear?

This is a hybrid of presences — like most MacGillivray records — interspersed between soundscapes — and so I suppose in that sense it draws together my ongoing obsession with cinema in that I see the record as a water-drenched landscape inhabited by Moondog, Lillian Gish, Old Testament Daniel and Annie Oakley…but the Oakley of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in Glasgow during the 1890s. Water-drenched landscapes and soundscapes are intrinsically Scottish though usually saturated with whiskey or tears.

What influential items have you been enjoying as of late?

I’m working on my next album In My End is My Beginning which is to set Mary Queen of Scots’ poetry to music using the rare Scottish instrument, the dulcitone. For me, as a dynamic personality Mary is more rock than anything else but she wrote in her first language, French, which has been translated — most often by men. So I started to look again at Chanson and have been feeding on Jacques Brel, Juliette Greco, Serge Gainsbourg and actually an early figure within the tradition of Chanson; Ronsard who was a lifelong friend and poetry tutor to Mary. The fact that Chanson as a genre is preoccupied with the lyrical quality of the poetry first and foremost and the music latterly might provide the right kind of setting for her words and there again exists the code of the troubadour and the sacrosanct eros of courtly love which ties in beautifully with the tragic figure of Rizzio, Mary’s hunchbacked secretary, guitar teacher and friend who was stabbed to death in front of her over fifty times. I’ve been recording the air at Fotheringhay and the creak of the stairs at the Talbot Inn, Oundel, which were the last she descended before her execution. It’s said, as with many decapitations, that her lips moved for fifteen minutes after her head was clumsily severed and so I’ve taken that as a temporal and poetic structure to navigate the next record. This you can add to Banjo Paterson, who I’ve been soaking up before going to Australia to perform in August as part of the Sydney and Melbourne Writers Festivals with a three string whiskey tin guitar.

Local artists that you would like to recognize?

The Black Diamond Express for Brechtian Blues and Ben Chatwin/Talvihorros for his startling new dulcitone album The Sleeper Awakes, released May 2015.

MacGillivray’s new album Once Upon a Dirty Ear will be available July 6 from Hundred Ace Recordings.

The Fourth Wall

The Fourth Wall's Paul Brittain, Stephen Agustin, Max Lilien & Kasey Shun; photographed by Paul Laxer.

The Fourth Wall’s Paul Brittain, Stephen Agustin, Max Lilien & Kasey Shun; photographed by Paul Laxer.

Having made the jump to Portland from their home digs of Hawaii, meet The Fourth Wall, with an introduction to their bliss wave crashing monstrous waters of sound with the debut of their single “The Dying Lights”. Taken from their forthcoming album Lovely Violence available July 31 through Tender Loving Empire’s sibling imprint Bug Hunt; the quartet of Stephen Agustin, Kasey Shun, Paul Brittain, and Max Lilien harbor together a sound that sets the stage for surf videos of boards busting in front of overexposed orange rays of sundowns.

Following up the cosmic ocean swell from “Cosmos In The Water“, the second chances / second life serenade swan song “Live Again“; “The Dying Lights” goes big from the very get-go like the blazing rise of sun that finds a lull of beach-like tranquility that picks it up again for the song’s final third with more gear grinding grit and girth choruses of guitars. The sun and sea streaked sounds from The Fourth Wall set out with confident chords that will naturally find you straightening your posture, lifting your head highers as the quartet combine sounds from beach to shining beach that are created through the squelch and squall of electric effects that both emulate and illuminate like the life lessons and events experienced along the sunrise and sunset cycles.

The Fourth Wall’s Stephen Agustin shared with us his thoughts on how the journey from Hawaii to Portland affected the band, and the impact that those experiences have had on the making of Lovely Violence:

It was definitely difficult, both emotionally and logistically, to move away from Hawaii to Portland, but I think we’ve finally come to a point where we can say we feel good about that decision. Hawaii was (and is) an incredibly beautiful place to live out your childhood, but there are a few features to Hawaii (it’s geographical isolation, for one) that make it difficult to make any sort of occupation out of music.

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Moving was a terrifying process, but it also forced us to really zero in on what we wanted to achieve artistically. I think there was something to the dizziness of the transitional period, and the fact of being in a new city, that allowed us this freedom to be more honest with ourselves musically. That also meant that we had to work harder than ever before to craft a piece of music that made us happy. But after more than a year and a half of writing and recording Lovely Violence, we can say that this is the record we’ve always wanted to make.

The Fourth Wall’s Lovely Violence will be available July 31 from Bug Hunt.

The Letter Yellow

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From their upcoming second album Watercolor Overcast available in July, we bring you the premiere of “Summer in the City” from Brooklyn’s The Letter Yellow. The trio of Randy Bergida, Mike Thies, Abraham Pollack recently enjoyed a vinyl release / preview performance at the Cameo Gallery and now present us with a slice of the idyllic glow of the best holiday in the sun imaginable. No matter how crummy of a day you might be having, or how fickle the weather might be in NYC; The Letter Yellow revert it all around some genuine charm that bottles and serves that summer feeling that makes it a contender for it’s place in the great library of songs that page homage to this most-desired of all the seasons.

With easy grooving chords, three part harmonies of untouched vocals and mellow moods; Abraham, Mike, and Randy transform the metropolitan concrete castle grids of NYC into one big sandy beach party. Friends are invited to join and sing along, where the skyscraper lights play about the skies in the extended twilight like fireflies. “Summer In The City” feels like a sandstorm has taken over the traffic congested streets, where keyboard vibes and gentle stress reducing notes dance like the never ending summer solace you spend the rest of the seasons thinking about and yearning for. Right after the following debut, read our interview The Letter Yellow after the jump.

Describe the sorts of paint medium metaphors, and similes that inspired the sky dreaming album Watercolor Overcast.

Our rehearsal studio was located on a very majestic corner where Greenpoint and Williamsburg meet (now we are one block away on N14th). The building is an odd corner building like a miniature flat iron building.

We were at a rehearsal working out some of the arrangements for the record and we took a much needed break to get some fresh air as our 9×9 space didn’t allow for much air circulation and often times the ac didn’t work. We walked out and amidst gasping for oxygen we beheld an absolutely gorgeous sky dripping in beautiful pastels. The name instantly came to me and I had the wisdom to write it down immediately and given the band was all there, I didn’t even need to propose it. It felt perfect to us all.

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Moments and memories of times in NYC and elsewhere that inspired the duet of “Summer In The City”?

You’ll find that throughout the record there are many seasons and this is due in part that in NYC the seasons are quite extreme. We have super cold winters and hence “cold cold night” and super hot summers that after a cold winter of dark and snow, a song like Summer in the City is just waiting to pour out. I can’t remember if “Summer in the City” was written before or after we had a rehearsal out in Coney Island, but certainly that imagery was popping into my head as the endorphins were running wild when spring/summer of 2014 hit. Lyrically it just felt natural to sing this as a duet. I remember Mike (drummer) suggesting we get Denitia from Denitia and Sene to sing this as a duet as our engineer and co-producer Nolan Thies was good friends with her and they work together often. Fortunately she really liked the song and agreed to do it. It was pretty impromptu. Denitia came into the studio and only had a few minutes to learn the tune and she’s just really cool and has a real nice vibe and it worked.

Summer plans for The Letter Yellow?

We’re releasing our vinyl on June 18 and having the official digital release July 24. We’ll soon be releasing the video for “Anytime of Day” which is soon to be announced. We’re planning on doing a residency through the summer at a venue to be announced soon to support the record release. We are also busy at work on our new album having most of it written which is good news as getting an album to the final stage takes a lot of time and I think we are simply on schedule though it may feel like we are ahead. Keep your eye on our website as we are always full of surprises!

Midnight Plus One

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Taken from Midnight Plus One’s Negative Fun cassette Unlearn Everything; get ready to be swept off your perch as Casey Cook gets dragged across the world, meets a cyclops and more in the video premiere of “On The Mend”. Casey along with fellow Chapel Hill brass John Bowman, and Nick Senese adapt their midnight scary movie matinee sound into a cult feature short of their own where Cook is being carried throughout the various corners of the globes courtesy of a green screen and aggressive energy.

The video for “On The Mend” all begins with Casey being pursued by a strange cyclops creature while driving around the orchard in a tractor. The monoptic monster takes Casey on a journey around the earth, initiates a full band performance, that inspires a an intergalactic dance party, a soaring ride through the friendly skies, leaving our heroine Casey embraced by the oceanic tides. The metaphoric journeys of mending a broken heart are shown through fractured recollections of places been, travels enjoyed, through the upset feelings and fragility during the personal rebuilding process. Here the one-eyed antagonist made from a muscle suit takes on the complicated enigma of both friend, foe, a force who opens up whole new worlds, demands a private Midnight Plus One show, only to leave our protagonist out in the abandoned waters. We discuss all this and more in our interview with Casey Cook featured right after the following video debut of “On The Mend”.

What sort of mending and amends inspired “On The Mend”?

Heartbreak. Gut wrenching heartbreak, the kind where you want to erase the other person in the end. This could really apply to any demon, any thing you just can’t quit, that you find yourself newly on the mend from, when you start to rebuild while still feeling fragile.

Tell us about what the visual adaption was like that involved lots of physical dragging, green screens, and other effects.

I was thinking about the image of my body being dragged through various landscapes and thought it worked well with this song. I wanted to be dragged around the world. I like how a song/ work of art can take you on a ride. The cyclops adds humor, an antagonist that becomes a friend or confidant, the same way getting over a heartbreak takes you somewhere new, seems so trivial when time passes. You may even become friends with, or grateful for, the thing you once wanted to erase.

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Going forward, what should we expect next as a follow-up to Unlearn Everything?

We’re recording our next record right now. I want to call it Some Animal, but we’ll see. We practice in a tiny room where mold grows on the guitar cases. I want to make our practice room look like Rosie’s bar from the TV show MASH. Our as yet titled new record has a song called Tiger Dream Deception about the scariest dream I’ve ever had and how sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re awake or asleep. I also wrote a song called La Bump in which I took the lyrics directly from my seven year old muse.

The Chapel Hill, NC report? There seems to be always something cool shaking around there.

The Cat’s Cradle opened a smaller sized venue on site called The Back Room. We like playing at The Cradle and supporting locally owned businesses. Lately in town I’ve seen mixed drinks with moonshine, bands with interchangeable players and late night fence hopping in search of open swimming pools.

Midnight Plus One’s album Unlearn Everything is available now on Negative Fun Records.

Kissing Party

Kissing Party, photographed by by Blaine Ewig — at The Track House in Olympia, WA.

Kissing Party, photographed by by Blaine Ewig — at The Track House in Olympia, WA.

From Denver, CO, meet Kissing Party with a listen to the fatalist-whimsical thrills and sentimental chill of “Trash” from their forthcoming album Looking back it was romantic but at the time i was suffocating available June 30 from Fleeting Youth Records. The courses of C86 schooled handbooks are adhered to as quick as they are upset by pronounced sections of delightful interruption of fuzzy guitar bursts.

Also check out Kissing Party’s “Justine” that presents earnest music about getting lost from home in the fog and crushing out on the girl of your dreams set to a jangle-pop mode of expression.

Also from Looking back it was romantic but at the time i was suffocating; hear Kissing Party’s “New Glue” that switches up the twee-esque model to power pop aspiring that relishes in the prospect of new things while being brutally honest over obsessions over ticky-tack imperfections.

We also had a chance to catch up with Kissing Party’s Gregg Dolan in the following interview session:

What sort of inciting events and episodes lead up to the creation of Kissing Party?

Drinking, thinking, dreaming, magazine clippings, seeing other bands and hating other bands, but what led to the actual creation of Kissing Party was lying to a promoter about having a band and booking a show without having a band, forcing myself to form a band to play the show.

The title of Looking back it was romantic but at the time i was suffocating is possibly one of the most striking and remarkable album titles. What sort of mixed emotion glances back inspired this title?

The title was literally taken from a text sent from an ex-girlfriend. It wasn’t about me or us but pretty much sums up my life life in one sentence.

“Trash” has such wistful qualities to the hair strum maelstrom of guitars, coupled with lyrics like “we’re drinking holes into our guts”. Trashy snapshots and lifestyle choices that may or may not have contributed to this song?

Two of our heroes, Suede & New York Dolls, have song’s called “Trash” so i always wanted to have a song called that. If i had to sum up what it means, it’s not being able to live more than 5 secs into the future and not being able to do anything about it either.

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The latest on the local scenes from Denver?

Well, we’ve been embraced by the Denver music scene like the plague so i don’t really know. Kissing Party doesn’t have the ‘Denver Sound’ nor do we want it, it’s hard when you don’t have a “ReverbNation” mindset and you’re too embarrassed to write a band bio let alone hire a manager. That being said, Denver is the same as Portland as Seattle as Boise as ____, there’s a handful of great bands who get no recognition who play to no one and a boat full of crap bands who play to everyone who shouldn’t be allowed to play to anyone.

What are you all most excited about right now local, or non-local right now?

Locally Bleak Plaza and American Culture to name a couple. Nationally I don’t actively seek out new music because i don’t want to be influenced by anyone else; The last album I listened to was In Utero.

Kissing Party’s album Looking back it was romantic but at the time i was suffocating will be available June 30 from Fleeting Youth Records.

Henry Canyons

Henry Canyons kicking it in Cuba, photographed by Michael Singer.

Henry Canyons kicking it in Cuba, photographed by Michael Singer.

Henry Canyons released Canyonland recently, sharing a view into a world of his imagination that reflects on his Franco-Jewish identity, and the vistas observe as Brooklynite living in LA. The artist enlists Freddy Jay for the freshest cuts, Keor Meteor on production featuring Zoe Rose, Open Mike Eagle, Matt Bowen, Jon Ramm, and Blax One ILL, and more as part of the discussion through prosody and verse.

The journey into Canyonland begins with “Unconditional” that gives you some deep dish for thought, flowing into thought stream of “Music Man”, more discourses on the human condition and current states of things with Open Mike Eagle guesting while Zoe Rose frames the era with a timeless r n’ b luxury lounge delivery. Linguistic dips into his French tongue alongside Matt Bowen deliver the romantic minded bars on “Dis Moi”, and more expressions of internal thoughts that ride through the closing cut “Jade” that features Desi Valentine to reinforce Canyonland as an Americana theme park made up of Henry Canyon and friends’ trails of thoughts put to poetic rhymes. Read our interview with Mr. Canyons featured right after the jump.

From making the jump from Brooklyn to LA, how have these different environments affected and impacted your perspectives and creative paths?

I moved to LA five and a half years ago, but I’ve been out of Brooklyn for ten years. Many aspects of my writing and style of delivery come from influences growing up in Brooklyn. I listened to a lot of Nas, Jay Z, Black Star, KRS-One, and I feel that shaped my cadence and how I flow over different beats. Back when I was in NY, hip-hop and rapping were very social and explorative parts of my life. I was absorbing a new culture with its own history and tradition and also learning a lot about myself. It all started in freestyle cyphers, that was the ultimate playground. It was where I gathered my skills, first associated hip-hop in a social setting, and participated in the exchange. It set the bar.

I didn’t really have a particular reason for leaving New York other than I wanted a change. I didn’t express any strong negativity towards Brooklyn, I just wanted to see to other things. Los Angeles provided me with experiences to write about. I feel as any artist, there is a constant development and honing of one’s style, but by the time I arrived in LA, I had a very sense of what that was. I wanted to push myself and take the style I had and refine it, especially through song writing. I was living on my own in a new place and faced a lot of change. In contrast to New York where you confront the landscape, the weather, the people and the city’s energy on a surface level, in LA everything is more subtle. Meaning, that New York is exposed and it communicates its personality directly. LA operates below the surface, its personality and style are not upfront; you have to discover them for yourself. For me, LA allows for a lot of personal reflection, and that experience played an integral part in the creation of Canyonland.

How did the art and act of trying to assimilate somewhere give birth to the mythical world of Canyonland?

LA is one of those places where it takes time to understand its pace. It’s not a hustle- bustle and constant push. The days feel long, but the weeks fly by. Everyone is busy, but there is an enormous free-lance industry and everyone is always ‘around.’ I never acknowledged making a conscious effort to assimilate to LA. It was more about finding the circles of people I wanted to be around and learn from. Even though I’ve been here for 5 years, I still feel like I’m getting used to it. I still observe as if I’ve just arrived. Canyonland is my journey through LA. It’s not a mythical or unworldly place. It is my navigation of the subtleties LA has to offer and trying to make sense of them. It is a very personal ride, and similarly to how in time you discover LA, I discovered a lot about myself within the context of LA. I think the song “Jade” does a nice job expressing the realizations I made and what that process of assimilation was actually like.

Describe what the making of the album was like for you creatively, personally, and working with talents like Open Mike Eagle, Zoe Rose, Blax One ILL, Freddy Jay, etc? How did they assist your own visions here?

There was a lot of time alone at home writing. At first, I didn’t know this was going to be an album. I have to give my producer Keor Meteor some well deserved credit. We linked up online and he sent me a few beats, which I wrote to pretty quickly and then sent back. We just kept that going back and forth until we had 5 songs done. At that point I started thinking about what I wanted to add, what was missing and the kinds of concepts I wanted to cover. I really wanted to concentrate on my song writing, not only the rhymes, but the structure of the songs. I didn’t want just 16 bar verses and hooks. I wanted bridges, A hooks, B hooks, codas and other dimensions to give the songs texture, but also to help in telling more of a melodic story. I’m super proud of this album.

I’m extremely grateful for having Zoe Rose. A mutual friend connected us and I knew I wanted some female vocals on my record, but after working on Dis Moi, which was our first collaboration, I kept thinking of parts for Zoe. Working with her in the studio is relaxed, but we get down to work. The power of her voice and her ear for harmonies are amazing. One of my favorite parts of working with her is listening to her layer her harmonies a cappella. They’re beautiful.

As for the rap features, I was very lucky to have Open Mike Eagle hop on the record. We met at The Project Blowed, but really got acquainted a few years ago at SXSW kicking it with billy woods. I kept seeing Mike around LA, and it just happened organically. I knew he would be dope on “Post Modern Man,” so I sent it his way, and he killed it.

I met Blax One ILL like eight years ago when we were both living in Portland, OR. We randomly got reconnected and I’m glad because that dude is of my close friends in LA. We did a song together on my mixtape Vignettes, called “Coastin’” that crushes when we do it live. He came over one day, and we just went through some Keor beats, and we put it together on the spot and it was a lot of fun. He has a really commanding and captivating vocal tone, which is special because it isn’t forced. It’s naturally butter.

I have to give a huge shout out to my man Freddy Jay out in Paris. He is the definition of a turntablist. Those are his instruments, and watching him DJ a party is awesome. We met back in 2009 when I was living in France, and we’ve been homies ever since. I’m lucky to have a DJ with such dope chops at my disposal.

As for the project as a whole, I really wanted to bring a lot of other talent to the table and let them do their thing. I had Desi Valentine listen to “Jade” and a few days later he had his part written. It was super easy and the amount of soul his voice has gave that joint the perfect amount of gusto. The features on the album are from people I know, and they’re my friends. It felt great to have them be a part of it because it fits so well into the story in Canyonland.

Next moves for Henry Canyons?

I’m planning a tour for the fall. I would love to do a run on the East coast and West coast. Performing is my favorite part about making music. Recording and honing songs in the studio is an interesting and super fulfilling process, but nothing beats performing. My goal is to get on stage as much as I can and make sure all parties involved are having fun. I’m currently working on project with my man Matt Bowen that I’m really excited about. He’s a beast of a producer. It’s gonna be great record.

The latest and greatest folks in LA that deserve some shout-outs and the like?

For my LA fam and supporters, I first want to thank everyone who is supporting the album, coming to my shows, and overall just behind me. You push me forward, and I just want to say thank you! I must shoutout my man Spliff Hemingway, always holding me down and such a smart and talented artist. He dropped his album #Water earlier this week, y’all should go check it out. Much love to my man Blax One ILL, and his crew ROUGH CITY. I can’t forget Ezus, Pistol McFly, Dusty Crates, Alwayz Prolific, Swingy Records, Chaotic Logic, Choize Maku, Empyr, DJ Test, SP Noza, Rhys Langston, and everyone from the Project Blowed who shows me love as well. These characters make up my LA family, so I am extremely grateful to be a part of such motley crew of talent. Though not in LA, I can’t go without mentioning my label Backwoodz Studioz and its label head billy woods. His belief in my work is a huge reinforcement and it’s an honor to be a member of Backwoodz Studioz. Much love to Matt Bowen & Willie Green, they make my music sound the way it does. Thanks for having me, it’s been a pleasure.

Canyonland is available now via Canyonland.

Also check out the Kyle Sauer video for Henry Canyons’ “Dis Moi” ft. Zoe Rose.

Snow In Mexico

Snow in Mexico's Andrea Novelli and Massimiliano Cruciani; photographed by Tommaso Ausili from ROAM.Photography.

Snow in Mexico’s Andrea Novelli and Massimiliano Cruciani; photographed by Tommaso Ausili from ROAM.Photography.

Available today from Saint Marie Records, we present you with Snow in Mexico, the Italo duo of Andrea Novelli and Massimiliano Cruciani who share the title track video for their new EP “Juno Beach” that juxtaposes disco-ball mirror squares with the sites of the sea, sand, and surf. Made by Saint Marie label boss Wyatt Parkins, SIM’s season spinning sound is met by a blend of CGI designs, natural wonders, discotheque light show etiquette, to the ocean’s wave that give way to the lapping thirst for holidays that summer brings.

Andrea and Massimiliano got poetic and shared some summer reflections on the making of Juno Beach, and their own attachment to the season of sun:

summer
sun shining without heating
time lapses
future memories
close stars
digital seascape from another world
waiting for love

Juno Beach is a desert seascape on another world. The waves sound as if
they are from a vintage Juno synth. The castaway astronaut boy is singing
to the strange moon for a girl left back on his home planet, that he never
will see again.

From Blood Moon, the latest project of the multi-talented Jesse Brickel returns with more ever-endearing chords and keys that intertwine like DNA helices that twist together in parallel designs.

Swedish artist Andreas Szego, aka AfterParty just released his new EP titled Synthesizer Night Hits Vol. 1 and we bring you a listen to the jubilant audio jungles synthesized from overdubs of voices in revelry in full. Nods to the tropical styles and dance pop sensibilities are spelled out in sound and lyrical doting on “South America” that opens up the capillaries of the EP into a state of euphoria. The dance party of after hours takes a time warp to the Knight Rider-esque alternate universe of “Retro”, as the music continues to push into new episodes and segments like an ever-unfolding night without a dawn on “Leaving Town”. Having featured the visual component for “Apocalyptica” months back, the track pushes the Euro pop tropics of AfterParty’s own creative trademarks, followed by the dream dwelling wishes on “Crystal Clear”, while “You” coasts in the grand finale like the climactic end of your favorite heart-throb hero wins all film of choice.

The shining, and twinkling digital stars shine like a hundred and one diamond-sky-filled nights on Stereodyssey’s “Blissful Thinking”, off the upcoming Anomalies EP available as a free digital download in late June on Stereodyssey’s own label, New Ancient. The worlds of ebbs, and tide flows from elongated distant shores converge like ambient loops met with the new quick tricks of current era production.

Liverpool band Canvas began 2015 with their first recording “Growing Up” and now present their self-made video to accompany the single. The “I’m tired of thinking about my future” lamentations from Canvas as portrayed through a series of home movies that follow the band about during gigs, burger breaks, and ceasing the indulgent happiness that exists in every moment if we only choose to acknowledge them. These new Liverpool heralding lads remind us through sound and vision to embrace the attitude of carpe diem in conjunction with the pains and pangs of having to grow up proper.

As this is the video for our debut track, we wanted it to be personal and honest – so we made it ourselves. We shot it on an old handycam because the footage has quite a nostalgic feel to it and reminds of us old family home-movies and also of when we used to film each other skateboarding when we were younger. The video was mostly shot in one-day, so I guess it’s sort of like a day in the life of us as a band!

From the good people at the highly influence beko disques imprint, we caught the gorgeous jaw dropping/heart melt pop from Snowy Nasdaq & Snowy Life’s “Same Mistakes”. The genius simplicity of the chorus is the center hook of which all is tethered too in the catchy ear worm patterns preset on the lines,”I don’t know what I’d do without you, I don’t know what I do, I’d probably make the same mistakes that I did with you, if I’d known what I know now then, I’d probably make the same mistakes all over again.” Some of the world’s most genius DIY pop awaits your every earnest cell and sense from the whole of your entire being.

It is with great pleasure to announce that Press Color, the influential 1979 debut album from Franco no-wave artist, Lizzy Mercier Descloux will be reissued August 14 via Light In The Attic and we have forever favorite (and heard & scene recently at various Goldmine Sacks after-party VJ sessions) “Fire” featured replete with Serge Gainsbourg cameos. The artist made the jump to NYC post-punk scene that embodied the sound of the avante-anti-wavers that cared not for labels, or press niceties that took to their own autonomy of art, individual and artist in measures that today we are still only beginning to decipher in full realized form.

We had the honor and pleasure debuting the title cut, “Disconnected” from Nerve Leak (aka Sam Friedman) and now we are thrilled to give you a listen to the just released EP. The opener “Alone” is the stunning scene setter that swarms and swamps all senses, as the aforementioned cut “Disconnected” brings a human compassion component to the connective arts, as contrasts take sonic proportions on “Snow / Sun” experimental ambient canvas, careening into the wound healer track of untold atmospheres where Sam’s vocals seek to amend like gauze wound with care around the affected point of inflection. For everyone that enjoys the nu-expanding arts of emotions wrapped tight to electronic tapestries, Disconnected is an utter fascination that marks some compelling terrains and digital earth broken by Friedman’s experiments.

From Santiago, Chile’s prolific tapestries of holy drug couples, and föllakzoid-like pedigree of noise arts; we give you Maff’s self-titled EP that saw release this week. “Act 1” draws the curtains in a mighty fashion of girth and passion, before the dead become re-animated on the loiter-bug blare on “Linger Around”. Then like that Marff show that they can’t be pigeonholed into any neat micro-genre box as they give it everything they have in the power chord songbook with the roar and rattle hymn, “Walking On Fire”, that sets the tone of maintaining a clearer and crisper big pop standard. Long, sludgey, wistful passages appear on six minute numbers like “Someday” to laying down all offerings at the alternate of all things alt. rock with “You”, kicking it down the wind tunnel formation of “Planet Wave”, leaving you to set sail on their energetic sound of surf sun, and fun via the finale “Blue Seas”. Maff are something like Santiago’s answer to Weekend, while the band keeps their sound-sites set on the bold chord pop found on much of the SideOneDummy roster. Santiago will forever have our ears fixated.


Seen playing Canadian Music Week in Toronto, and performing recent NYC gigs with Shura, Father, Young Fathers, and more; Glass Gang re-emerges with more b/w visuals and dark cloaked productions with their Brendan Burdzinski video for “Believe”. Choreographed svelte ninja-clad dancers join in a courtyard for coordinated motions in time to the percolating drum and delivery sequences. All of the steps from the dancers (Nicola Collie, Laura Bartczak, Lulu Soni, Tara Nicolas, Elizabeth Doughty, Kathleen Dycaico, & Abra Cohen) are overseen by an austere matriarchal queen bee played by Yordanos Teshager. The group recently cut a new single with Sonny DiPerri to arrive TBD.

For those that missed it last March, we arrive fashionably late to NYC’s dreampop party with Malka’s debut EP The Constant State. The quartet take the gaze-ier roads less traveled with fascinating results like the opening “A Flock Of Crows”, to the mind dripping epic of “For Now We Live”, slipping through the Spanish slip-stream of “Mientras Se Respira”, dabbling in the witchcraft of “Wolves And Sheep”, noise outings on “Diamond Girl”, to the blood dipped heart of “Corazon Sin Sangre”, finishing with the planet crashing cut, “Swoon”. Keep an ear out for more from Malka in the coming days, and months.

Also from our hero Matthew Melton, watch the new vintage VHS video for “Cryin’ For A Love” off the upcoming Warm Soda from his new Castle Face album, Symbolic Dream. Filmed at KVRX Studios by Robert Williams in ATX, the soda poppers play up their analog aesthetics in full audio and vision where televised performances are done up like old whistle tests, and bandstands full of future memories.

TÊTE, the LA four of Jacqueline Cingolani, Kimi Record, Amberlie Bankoff, and Paige Stark released their new single “Newblood” that indulges in the love of Los Angeles’s dream journey adventurers that blend earthy-ethereal elements of an ephemeral nature with slick studio tones. Following up their single “Wires”, TÊTE (French for head) takes the SoCal glamor scenes down the avenues of understated dream pop reminiscent of yesteryear anachronisms, and styles associated by the act of staring intently at one’s own trainers.

Dam-Funk’s Invite the Light will be available September 4 via Stones Throw (his first solo album in six years time), lending the smoothest and silkiest yet with the onward and upward, “We Continue”.

Bringing a globe trotting beat and mode of rhythm, check out Illa J’s “Universe” single released fresh from Bastard Jazz.

Enola Fall’s new album Heliotropic will be available August 7, and we have big bright lit single “Stab On” from Tasmania’s bunch that combine the coolness of Melbourne and Hobart into a radio ready synthesis of their own making.

Telegraph Canyon dropped a listen to “Why Let It Go” off their new 7″ released ahead of the forthcoming You From Before album available July 31 from Velvet Blue Music. The codependent battles and stratosphere flights take-off together into smooth autopilot cruise of attatched aggravations.

Continuing to keep up with the King Pizza Records crew, we got The Rizzo’s new album, Worse Things “Get Weird”, request responses in honest on “Give Me An Answer”, running at a hedonistic pace on “Blackout”, conversational moments and invitations on “Tell Me”, gnarling up the night with “Gnarly”, smooching and barfing on “Vomit Kiss”, taking over the controls with “Anything I Want You To”, getting weird with rock songs made for DIY garage dance proms.

LA DIY-derelict Vinny Vaguess — or just Vaguess if you please — dropped the track “Danny’s Park” that continues where his cassette Back Off Warchild left off with the upcoming remaster of the Bodhi Collection a double album compilation available August 7 from Sinderlyn. Its the gritty, skate video steez, with a southern no-fi quality that is nearly guaranteed to win hearts of garage rock truest believers. Find Vinny & friends on tour July 17 at Harold’s Place in San Pedro, CA with Buffalo Tooth; July 30 at Thee Parkside in San Francisco, CA with Andy Human & The Reptoids, Scraper, and Rays; August 1 at a clandestine Warehouse Show in Oakland, CA with Useless Eaters and Kill Helmet; August 29 at Way Strange Fest in Upland, CA with PANGEA, Tomorrow’s Tulips, and more cool cats.

From Silicon we bring you “Burning Sugar” that burns through the calories with a cavalcade of flashing animated images courtesy of Natalia Stuyk, and incandescent pop flickers with an electro step off the ucpoming album, Personal Computer available August 28 from Weird World. Frontman Kody Nielson, sibling of UMO’s Ruban Nielson and also of their band The Mint Chicks attempts to make sense of PC/laptop/tablet/smart phone/smart watch connection through advancements made in technology that just might tell us more about our own organic make-up.

Hear Niagara’s “Vanillacola” that delivers digital pop and fizz of bubbly soda sensations taken from the forthcoming Vanillacola Re-Bottled single available July 31 from Monotreme Records. The sound surrounds and encompasses your heard space in the way that drinking too much caffeinated-sugary beverages provides that crazy glucose rush and subsequent crash.

Introducing Fractures, the project of Mark Zito who released the sleek attractive electro crooner, “Reactor”, that radiates with all the big bright attractive buzz from his forthcoming album debut available in early 2016.

Watch Chelsea Wolfe’s b/w video she made with Ben Chisholm for “Carrion Flowers” as heard in the Dark Places trailer and further found on Wolfe’s forthcoming Abyss LP available August 7 from Sargent House. Natural orders of pagan balance become disrupted by fiery elements that go heywire like gnostic texts misinterpreted, or met by hands of malicious intent. Chelsea’s upcoming tour begins August 27.

Hazel Rose present an intimate session of her warm Bay breeze track “Waiting” filmed by Korise Big Tunes Jubert and Mickey Melrose found on the Bay artist’s recent album The Seed. Read our interview feature here where Hazel further explores local inspirations and elements of creative importance.

Following up last year’s Yung Archetype EP; we bring you namesake from Flint, MI’s Tune Olaniran off the forthcoming Transgressor available August 7 from Quite Scientific that keeps the narrative empowering, edifying the identity of the individual with some dance tricks, and ramped up r n b machines.

From TT The Artist, get down with the Schwarz produced bass & beat bouncer, “Gimme Yo Love” off the upcoming EP that also features re-works and beat twerks from Mighty Mark, Kilbourne, 33 Boyz, and more fun.

Enter the doomed dimension on Heaters’ “Kamikaze” from their forthcoming album Holy Water Pool available September 25 from Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records.

Alex Gruenburg and the gang are on their Best Behavior, kicking out the higher-than-the-Himalayas jam “Buried On A Mountain” from their forthcoming debut LP, Good Luck Bad Karma available August 14 on Money Fire Records.

Gothic Tropic’s much-awaited album FASTorFEAST will be available in 2016 from Old Flame, and we have “Puppet Master” that pulls all the strings, chords, in all the right places full of gothy-surfy-cataclysms for days.

Jeen, (short for Jeen O’Brien) gave us a full advance stream of Tourist (Deluxe Edition) available June 30.Banding out on her own after playing with Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning, and playing in Cooking Duster; O’Brien ventures out into the outlaw rock galleries as the driver, captain, and pilot of her own navigational safari vehicle.

Jersey City’s Sean Kiely is readying his new album Your Logo, My Logo recorded in Brooklyn, Manhattan, mixed by John Agnello, and available July 24. Personal trajectories take on an acoustic whim with the potent string binding bender, “My Logo”, to the opening track “Your Logo” that blends sparse modern strings with a classicist’s heart.

San Francisco’s Alexi Glickman has toured with Little Wings’ band and fronts Sandy’s whose Prom EP will be available July 24 through Alexi’s own imprint, SANDYAMS. Check out the first single “Consolidated Identity” that is the beautiful, conscious strumming sound of all compartmentalized displacement of feelings and self becoming codified together as one. The romantic summer days of Bay Area sun and fog can also be heard in the cascading chords, and the subtly applied echo that keeps everything lingering throughout the senses with a satisfied notion of longing.

This week saw London O’Connor release the anticipated album O∆, and we give you the following stream followed by London’s own Week in Pop guest selections. The album opens into the single “Oatmeal” that flirst with pop perfection through breakfast cereal narratives, synthetic sentiments sung and told about real neighborhood stories about sterile environments on “Natural”, to the hook thieving brilliance of “Steal”. “Nobody Hangs Out Anymore” is an anthem for our time, as “Guts” spills some real feeling in fun and epic arrangements, synth and choral odysseys on “Coordinates 00 36” that continue the ‘captain’s log’ motif that keeps pushing forward throughout O∆. Romantic fondness, suspicions, and questions circle about in projections on “Love Song”, moving the coordinates to the toy xylophone instrumental “09 87 (Where Is Your Home)” before “Survive” closes out the album in what is possibly the most massive production heard yet from Mr. O’Connor. More from the artist after the jump.

London O’Connor’s Week in Pop

london oconnor week in pop 1

This is uhh your Captain speaking. I’m gonna be your humble leader for this Week in Pop. To start off I should just say that I don’t listen to a lot of pop but in my head this is all stuff that I really love that has meant a lot to me at one period of time or another. Being loved is better than being popular, right?

XTC, “Making Plans for Nigel”

Fucking jam.

The Mothers of Invention, “What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?”

I got fired from a job once for playing this over the loudspeaker. That job did not provide a lot of exciting career opportunities.

Girlpool, “Chinatown” (Damsal Sessions, with The Cure in it for four seconds)

I love Girlpool. I love everything they do. My friend Allyssa shot a video for them recently that was really cool and I was torn between showing you that or this. But I picked this because there’s something special about them doing it live in the back of a boat and also because they play 4 seconds of The Cure in the beginning of the video and thus this is like a sneaky 2 for 1. Also Girlpool if you’re out there I wanna collab. I can draw pictures and you all can write songs about the pictures or y’all can draw pictures and I can write songs about them.

At home with London O'Connor; photographed by Olivia Bee.

At home with London O’Connor; photographed by Olivia Bee.

The Strokes, “Hard to Explain”

I get a text message once a week like, ‘hey I saw you skating by (insert street) and I shouted but you couldn’t hear me. You had headphones on.’ Its usually this song. Sometimes it’s Queen tho but usually it’s this song.

冨田勲 「月の光」 Isao Tomita, “Clair de Lune”

This is this dude Isao Tomita playing Debussy but with synthesizers. This is very precious to me ha ha, so don’t judge. But I think this is what it would feel like to be in space.

Jon Brion, “Row”

Okay, part of me feels weird actually showing this to that many people. For a long time this was my favorite recording of all time. When me and my ex girlfriend kind of stopped working out I had a breakdown and played this on a loop in Ableton until I could see colors again. This is one of the most beautiful things I think I have heard. And its short. But that’s okay.

Tobias Jesso Jr., “True Love”

Keep it simple. No walls. Thank you Tobias.

The Creation, “Making Time”

Second Chorale Choir Master, Bombardment Society Founder, Kung Fu Club Yellow Belt.

Moving Units, “Between Us and Them” via Leo Romero’s That’s Life

This is one of my favorite skate videos of all time (next to “Girl Yeah Right” and a few others but that’s for another time). Skate videos were pretty much how I learned about music when I was a kid. This song by the Moving Units was my jam growing up. And Leo Romero was a trooper for sticking it out after racking himself. Getting racked sucks. I remember getting racked on this seventh rail and the handrail was square and not round and I was pretty sure I was bleeding but I had pants on and couldn’t tell so I just kinda writhed in the bushes of this apartment complex with my hands in my pants checking for blood. But I wasn’t bleeding so it was like and all’s well that ends well kind of situation.

C418, “Wet Hands”

You’ve arrived home from a long journey. An old friend greets you. This is playing.

Follow London O’Connor on Twitter.

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