Week in Pop: Hellogoodbye, Picastro, Spotlight Kid

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With exclusives and support from Dead Fame, Liphemra, Sombear, Split Screens & more.

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Sjimon Gompers | March 7, 2014

week in pop

On the road with Hellogoodbye's Forrest Kline. (photo courtesy of the artist, The Spotlight Kid's Katty Heath caught in the spotlight by Ralph Barklam, cover courtesy of Forrest Kline)

As Impose and the Imposition heads closer toward SxSW, joining the armies of artists, fellow publications, publicists, promoters, chancers, hopefuls, overachievers and underachievers of great promise; Impose's Week in Pop brings you this week's top exclusives, interviews, and headline observances. We had Lily Allen versus feminism, then Thurston Moore versus Jezebel, the Moz revealed the title of his new album to be, World Peace is None of Your Business, Pussy Riot's Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were attacked with paint and garbage at a McDonald's in Nizhny Novgorod, Ke$ha is feeling “healthier,” the world is losing their minds over this Future Islands performance on Letterman, Ozzy's Buckinghamshire estate allegedly got massive damaged by area floods, but the Imposition rides on, and the SxSW showcase journey lives on. So to keep the celebration carrying through the endless queues, wrist band hustles, and credential flouting seas of laminates; we give you exclusive inside views and premieres from Hellogoodbye, Sombear, Spotlight Kid, Picastro, Dead Fame, Liphemra, Split Screens, and more — in no particular order.

With their national tour beginning April 15 over at Chicago's famed Lincoln Hall, Hellogoodbye prepares a co-headlining tour with Vacationer and proudly premieres the the buzzed out and glitzed up Sombear remix of the title track, “(Everything is) Debatable”. Originally off Hellogoodbye's recent album of the same name, Hellogoodbye remixed by Sombear Frontman Forrest Kline's knack for bringing conversation pieces into the format of festival circuit pleasers popped through PA systems gets a heightened lift from Sombear, aka Bradley Haley.

Kline's dance of dialogues, discussions and arguments are in the wise hands of Haley who again proves that he is worthy of remixing any artist of any style, of any sort, and of any variety. Like Sombear has shown in past solo work like, “Incredibly Still” and remix of Antwon's “Dark Denim“, Bradley again creates a synth-synchronicity with the hyper-balladry of Forrest's debates. The chorus becomes orchestrated like a crowd jumping, fist pumping field jumper, while the personalities and moody mutations of the synths melt and drip in digital diagrams like a pouring fountain of viscous candle wax.

The awesome and honorable Forrest Kline was kind enough to reach out to us in the whirlwind of Hellogoodbye's touring schedule. So somewhere in Singapore, Kline discusses the new album, Everything is Debatable, the Sombear remix of the title track, and more.

(Hellogoodbye's Forrest & Michael landing in Singapore)

When you look back on how Hellogoodbye has progressed from Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!, Would It Kill You?, to the recently released Everything is Debatable? Also with the song and the album title, was it a kind of homage to Einstein's theory of relativity, or was it like one of those pleads for the relevance of and for the sake of argumentation?

We live in a time when there's more knowledge floating around out there in the collective mind of the world than any one of us could ever conceive individually. to quote late 80’s ska punk band Operation Ivy; 'all I know is that I don’t know nothin.' That’s at the core of this record, that any strongly held belief I have is based on limited information and that there’s always a deeper understanding to be obtained or a contrary piece of evidence to be examined. gotta keep an open mind.

Colloquial exclamations from the humorous to the kind of serious are a big part of your titling process. Why do you feel that is?

Serious topics go down a little easier with a little goof’n and spoof’n.

If Hellogoodbye didn't already have such a pop sound monopoly on the game already, our buddy Sombear really steps that club beat up a few notches on the remix. Your thoughts and observations on Bradley Hale's reworking of your new single?

I love everything Brad does. He’s able to tackle most things with a cool perspective.

What are you the most excited about with your forthcoming Spring tour with Vacationer?

I love vacationer. such sunshiny California dream pop, its hard to reconcile they’re from Philly. It’s gonna be a very nicely-vibed evening with them and heavenly beat. We’re also really pumped to go out playing, more properly, stuff from everything is debatable. We’ve played some shows with the songs and opened some tours with them sprinkled in, but to really be able to put together more of a set is gonna feel really good.

Notes on what's next in store from Hellogoodbye?

The vacationer tour in the US and then I think we’ll visit a few other spots. with any luck we’ll rinse and repeat that once or twice. Also, I’m gonna be building a new studio in the next few months so as soon as I’ve got that all put together I’m already antsy to start demo-ing out some new songs.

Everthing is Debatable is available now from Old Friends Records. Catch Hellogoodbye on the following dates with Vacationer indicated by asterisk [*]:

April
15 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall*
16 – Pontiac, MI – Pike Room* Bowery Ballroom
17 – Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace*
18 – Buffalo, NY – Waiting Room*
19 – Harrisburg, PA – Fed Live*
20 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall*
22 – Hamden, CT – The Space*
23 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom*
24 – Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts*
25 – Baltimore, MD – The Ottobar*
28 – Atlanta, GA – Vinyl*
29 – Nashville, TN – 12th & Porter*
30 – Cincinnati, OH – 20th Century Theatre*

May
02 – Columbus, OH – Skulky’s Music Diner*
04 – Akron, OH – Musica*
06 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave*
07 – Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theater*
08 – Des Moines, IA – Wooly’s*
09 – Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room*
10 – St. Louis, MO – The Firebird*
12 – Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room*
13 – Denver, CO – Marquis Theatre*
14 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge*
16 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile Cafe*
17 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theater*
19 – Reno, NV – Knitting Factory*
20 – Sacramento, CA – Assembly*
21 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall*
22 – Los Angeles, CA – The Troubadour*
23 – Pamona, CA – Glasshouse*

To chase away whatever sun has been creeping through the overcasted skies, Picastro presents the listen to their new album, You, available March 11 from Static Clang. The force of a militant funeral processional begins the album with the cliffside carvings, etchings, and solemn sculping on the opener, “Mountain Relief”. There are so many surprises that abound, there are no catch-alls to convey what Liz Hysen, Brandon Valdivia and Nick Storring create with the sonic foundry that slides between the strings of their instruments connected harmony and head swimming acoustic hums. “Two Women” expresses how Picastro's trinity of sound works in real time, where “Endlessly” takes you to back to those places of idly listening to Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention found in the dollar bin stacks.

From the broken glass window that frame's Liz's face on the cover of You; there are some heavy weights that await with caution. “Vampires” imbibes of fragments of new keyboard technologies before that similar progression from “Mountain Relief” takes you into the tornado wind chamber in an attitude of bravery with air raid blaring sirens wave screams of warning. The strings and vagrant chimes take detours into the detoxifying pauses like the witches song of, “That's It” to the ever widening and eternal sinkhole/k-hole void stirred and shaken on, “Temur”. Parodies of patriarchal failed dreams make for opportunities of Picastro to present some of the technical chops of the their creative prowess, on the serious but tongue-in-cheek lampoon, “State Man”. The adventure continues through the gopher hole string-stitched suspense and searching steps on, “Baron in the Trees”. The Biblical allusory title conjuring of Zacchaeus keeps on giving to the last supper lysergic spells of, “Judas Claim”. Closing You's cycle that runs through the listings and notes of their own musical alchemy, “February” pulls the curtain on winter with misgivings and an occultic singing of tongues to translate a suffering described in the chorus as; “the burden of sound.” So place You upon your mantle, and take on one of the most wildest recordings from Picastro to date.

Liz Hysen from Picastro took the time to about compiling the affections of friends through distillations of emotions put to songs.

Your new album You is a gorgeous naturally stitched cycle of folk art beauty. What can you tell us about the beginning process of drafting and composing the string parts, lyrics, and concepts for You?

I didn't really have a concept this time but it became pretty clear by the end it was a compilation of all my friends, family and people around me who had affected me. The string arrangements all came about through mountains of rehearsals and the lyrics are all based on distillations of recurring emotions that I think affect everyone at some point in time.

“Mountain / Relief” and “Two Woman” dovetail next to each other like two complimenting sculptures, that straddle the areas of traditional and sonic arrangements, made by the virtues of acoustic strings. How do you describe this continuum of exploration that three of you take part in?

They were written somewhat close together so it makes sense that they sound conjoined like that. Sometimes it depends on where we're all at but those two came pretty easily and by the time I heard the contributions by “Big Blood” on Two Women, I knew it was just what the song needed. The spacing of the instrumentation is essential when you have that much going on.

What accounts for much of the funereal vibe that shadows much of the more melancholy aspects of your sound, like on “Vampires”, “That's It I Mean It”, “February”, “Judas Claim”, etc?

“That's It I Mean It” is about something very dark and disturbing, nothing that happened to me or anything but how I try and imagine being born into an environment where you have to fight to survive everyday. February is sort of the same, ill-fated innocent people just going through prison-like passages and “Vampires” is about memories acting as little life suckers which they are sometimes, you can't live with memories sometimes in a healthy way. It's all intertwined. Judas Claim is more mood, I don't think its about anything more than escapism.

What are you thoughts on folk outsiders like the much revered Death in June folks, and the current wave of cantors like King Dude, Chelsea Wolfe enchanters of the various dimensions and evoked degrees of evening night fall, and fog chambers of sound?

I have to admit, I don't keep up on a lot of new music. I did hear Chelesa Wolfe and I liked how gothy it sounded. It's good there is a wave of this moodier stuff, I don't feel like a lot of music that gets written about is very challenging but there is certainly enough of it out there with some exploration.

“Baron in the Trees” is a trippy-synth-see-saw into an odyssey of pagan-Biblical like proportions. How did this seven and a half minute wonder come about?

That song took a long time, many rehearsals and tweaking. I had some idea of string arrangements and vocal melody, but that's it. That came about through a great collaboration, I really love that song!

“State Man” is like meditation indie rock for pagan altars or something, is this one of Picastro's sticking it to the man numbers that flies it's own flag and testament of the self?

It's about working for the man for sure! It seemed pretty obvious to me that a lot of people just slot themselves somewhere and do it without thinking, living vicariously through something else. That type of man just seemed so pervasive and banal to me. I guess you need paper pushers everywhere.

Latest reports from the Toronto scene?

Toronto is pretty great! Lots of amazing music actually. Getting a little tired of the looping stuff but that seems to be happening everywhere. It's just too easy to do it badly.

Tours in the works, and release party plans for You?

We have a Chicago show March 13, NY on April 3 and a tour with Finnish musician Islaja in the U.K. May 1-4. She has albums out on Fonal and this new one is out on Monika.

Picastro's new album, You will be available March 11 from Static Clang.

(Spotlight Kid's Katty Heath, photographed by Ralph Barklam)

Nottingham's Spotlight Kid are readying their new album, Ten Thousand Hours for release this Tuesday, March 11 through Saint Marie Records. Following up the video from their previous single, “Budge Up“, take a look at the grainy filmscope performance piece in the following premiere of, “I'll Do Anything”. Strap yourself in for what might be called of Nottingham, UK's indie pop moment where the Spotlight set of Katty Heath, Chris Davis, Matt Holt, Karl Skivington, Chris Moore, and Rob McCleary take their smile shining hooks into color light performances and nature hikes.

Karl, Chris and Rob's guitars lead us into the video's forests with passages and clearings strewn of leaves. With Katty's confessions of “steal a car for you”, highlights the video's accidental runaways taking off into the autumn with a catchy constant guitar riff that only increases in magnitude on account of an overdubbed presence, loops, pedals, and tricks. The outdoor outing is given equal time to Spotlight Kid laying it all out on the line in the arty stage lit sequences. The compelling repetition of power chords pull you in with the ADHD ready and seizure surging light flashes, soft focuses and quick-cut film editing, as Katty's following economized aphorism keeps the lyrical charm in a perpetual state of movement: “And my heart, it stands on trial, every time I see your smile”

Spotlight Kid's Katty Heath talked with us about their new video, their new album Ten Thousand Hours, notes from Nottingham, and more.

What was different recording your third album, Ten Thousand Hours than the previous discs?

We recorded the album in a very fragmented way, with bits of recordings scattered across various studios with different people doing different things at different times. We were only ever in the same studio all together during the recording of Budge Up. It wasn’t until Todd Howe, who mixed the album, got his hands on it did it start to resemble a cohesive set of tracks. The previous album was recorded live in one room all playing together and it took three days to record.

What is the Spotlight Kid method for the developing those dreamy hooks in your music?

You always have to imagine that you are listening to the music for the first time. When I hear a band I want to be drawn in. If you don’t believe the music you make, every beat, note , chord then don’t expect anyone else to buy it. I always here great things about the Nottingham scene, what do you all enjoy about it out there?

The bands in the area are given loads of opportunities to play and there is a great local BBC show that does it’s best to push new bands and artists. There’s a few cool venues as well that you can wonder into on a Friday night and see something exciting and often truly bad!

Other Nottingham artists you dig?

All our friends are in bands so I’ll give them a plug.

I Am Lono
April Towers
Kagoule
Grey Hairs

What are you all listening to on your stereos and iPods these days?

Toy
Joanna Gruesome
Cheetahs
Evian Christ
Young Husband
Daniel Avery
The Soft Moon
Temples

Release plans and parties in the works for Ten Thousand Hours?

We have a run of gigs coming up in the UKbut we are also doing a little secret surprise show at the end of the tour which we can’t announce until the week before. That night will be carnage in the name of Ten Thousand Hours

Tell us about the Super 8 video translation of, “I'll Do Anything”. It takes off with this really timeless testament to the pursuit of happiness.

It was originally a completely different concept but as filming went on it morphed into something else, which was a lot darker. Almost like a murder victim retracing their steps after the event. Did I just ruin it for everyone…

Spotlight Kid's new album Ten Thousand Hours will be available March 11 from Saint Marie Records.

Meet Richmond, Virginia's Dead Fame who are following up their Frontiers EP on April 8 with the album, Vicious Design. Debuting the celebrity cult of obsessive glamor, idolatry and tabloid worship of, “Joan Crawford”; KC Byrnes, Eric Klemen, Sadie Powers, Michael Means, and Christopher DeNitto join us after the premiere a roundtable discussion and survey on these aforementioned topics. Fresh from a hometown show in Richmond with Weekend, and Nothing; Dead Fame spell it all out on this following single with the chill-thrill seeking refrain of, “because nothing makes you feel more alive than when you're terrified.”

On “Joan Crawford”, the vintage Hollywood glamor and mansion madness is conveyed in peculiar synthesizer patterns around bi-polar verses and chorus bridges. The balance of “ecstacy and madness” is thrown into the scolding orders of “discipline” buried in the bubbling electronic floral arrangements. The more forward pointed keys keep “Crawford” on a strict and structured routine and course in a Mommie Dearest histrionic display that pits iconography and mythologized modern personality cults, against the pain/pleasure lesson principles of corporal punishment.

We got the whole Dead Fame crew to talk about everything pertaining to the cult of Joan Crawford, and the even stranger and weirder cults of celebrity mausoleums.

What were the chain of events that lead to the genesis of Dead Fame?

Michael Means, vocals: Chris [DeNitto, synths] and KC [Byrnes, guitar] knew each other, had previously played together, and wanted to start something new–something bigger and fuller than their previous projects. KC and Sadie had also played in together, in a different project. Eric [Klemen, drums] found KC and Chris. I knew Eric, who kept mentioning the need of a singer for his new band, as all the previous prospects just weren't right. I took some early tracks, before the band had a name, sent over some lyrics and vocals, and that was that.

The name of your pop vehicle echoes a kind of buried cult of celebrity, what do you feel is the sort of iconographic worship of the dead, the Dead Fame if you will?

Sadie Powers, bass: Death can be a really great makeover. Your image becomes static, and after time, the image becomes molded into a sort of ideal. The most enduring image of Freddie Mercury is of Live Aid, not “These Are the Days of Our Lives.” The humanity is replaced by the icon.

Is it better to burn out or fade away? That’s the age-old question, isn’t it? The answer is neither. It’s far better to spontaneously combust and have people run in to grab at smoke. And ideally, according to Mishima and confirmed by, well, everyone, you should do it when you’re still young and beautiful. Then it's not so much a worship of what existed than a mourning for the idealization of what could have been. “They were so young, imagine what they could have done.' Words like 'potential' are thrown around. But the flip side of that is, 'imagine how much more they could have given us to consume.'

Means: People like icons, and they give the icons power, and for various reasons. Icons can be incorporated into your life for meaning and understanding, just for fun, or more significantly for identity or for re-mediating experience. It's impressive just how much power long gone figures still have today — James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Billie Holiday, for example. But also people, or rather constructs, like St. Sebastian, Cleopatra, or Caligula. I would love to have society today take me in and remix the idea of me, culturally, for decades and generations.

What's your own relationship and fascination with the specters of celebrity past, and that thin little line between immortalization and humanism that also encompasses mortality in that?

Powers: I don’t really understand celebrity in the covered-in-candy-and-latex sort of way, in the way of big movie stars and pop icons. I consider Tilda Swinton and Blixa Bargeld to be my celebrities, so my perspective might be a bit skewed.

I think it’s interesting that people can form very real connections with people whom they’ve never met, experienced in a very controlled environment, and how those bonds create an artificial feeling of knowing and intimacy. And in the case of movies and theater, they’re forming an opinion of someone else's personality based on that actor being someone other than him or herself.

Means: People love a good story. And while many stories can be lived, once you’re gone, those stories, particularly in regards to celebrity figures or prominent cultural figures, are no longer tethered to an actual being. I think this makes them, the stories surrounding an individual including personality traits, looks, memorable events and the like, available for greater social and cultural manipulation. In that way, immortalization is less about the person gone, the past, and more about the living, the present.

So let's talk about “Joan Crawford”, the song and the celebrity. How did her movies and or maybe allegedly frightening role as a mother via Mommie Dearest inspire this song?

Means: I think Joan is a fantastic case in point in regards to the previous questions of iconography, celebrity, and immortalization. As a star during the Golden Era, she was idolized and used as a model for feminine virtue, and even motherhood (hardworking mother who still maintains a proper home). But when she died, her image was up for grabs, even more so than when she was living. All the 'stories' of Joan, including her constructed Hollywood image and the roles she played, could converge and morph, ultimately leading to Mommie Dearest, which I see as the brilliant model of iconographic culture-making. I feel that when you say the name “Joan Crawford,” what immediately comes to most people's minds is actually the depiction of Joan by Faye Dunaway–“Joan” has taken on another life in death, and I think that is just fine.

The use of Joan in our song, evoking the post-Mommie-Dearest cultural construct of her, is really about the relationship between caring and abuse, and how sometimes–or most of the time that line is blurred. It's also about doing what you think you need to in order to get what you want, and hoping others might do the same–push yourself, feel something, even if it hurts.

Powers: I am a huge Bette Davis fan, so admittedly I was hesitant about naming the song after her arch nemesis. But when you hear the name Joan Crawford, you automatically think about Mommie Dearest, because that image with the wire hanger has been ingrained in our consciousness. I thought what Michael did with his lyrics, by juxtaposing that milieu with the idea of deriving pleasure from pain, was really cheeky.

Favorite Joan Crawford movie?

Means: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? A twisted, beautiful mess — such is fame.

Powers: Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? The disdain and venom that Bette Davis and Joan Crawford felt toward each other in reality is stuff of legend, and its manifestation on film is frightening and claustrophobic, farcical and campy. I read somewhere that their hatred stemmed from Joan Crawford wanting to sleep with Bette Davis and being constantly rebuffed. I hope this is true. We'll probably never know for certain, but I really, really hope this is true.

Worst Mommie Dearest nightmare?

Means: Having all my bendable and useful, yet ubiquitous, wire hangers taken away.

Powers: I think if someone called me ‘Mommie Dearest’ during sex, that would bum me out a bit.

Tell us about the grand design that was in mind for the creation of the upcoming Vicious Design album.

Means: I think we were most interested in pushing ourselves closer to our ideal sound, which is ultimately a constant endeavor, but that's how you grow as an artist–how you live as an artist: never being quite satisfied. This EP is definitely more of a merging of the dark and moody with the more playful and carnal. Dead Fame: we like juxtaposition.

What too has been in the key in writing ballads for those pumped up hooks and electro-pop-production diamond­­­ adornments, and the like?

Eric Klemen, drums: Often we start with a single sound someone brings to the table — a synth sound, a bass or guitar riff, or a drum trigger. Then each person contributes; adding layer by layer. The result is always a good mix of our musical influences. We also enjoy creating tension by including poppy, danceable rhythms with a moody or dark underbelly.

Means: I think that we are really good at swinging both ways: even if we slow it down, there is a deep pulse, a certain underlying quake; when we speed it up, at least for me, the point seems to try and reach a point where you feel spent but just can't stop. As far as vocals and lyrics, all that gets channeled into the vocal melody, delivery, and the words. That's also why I don't like to have lyrics pre-written; they should be shaped and help shape what is going on in the entire song.

Dead Fame's album Vicious Design will be available April 8.

Having made us a recent Valentine's Day playlist, collaborating with MED on “Bloodwork“, and performing on Nocando's “Little Green Monsters“, and more; Liphemra gives us another listen to her forthcoming mixtape with the tough attitude and tougher heart on “bandaid”. Catching news of her upcoming mixtape for Lolipop Records, the character of Liphemra's music breaks through the constrictive barriers of all the old rules used to contain the conventions and properties that comprise the criteria many use to define style. We are convinced that Liphemra can create, and emulate anything by herself or in any configuration of collaborative environments.

On the spoken opening of “bandaid”, Liphemra gives the call to bring the pain. “Go ahead, rip me like a band-aid, get it over with.” A gifted drummer, her skills on the kits are applied to the measuring arts of programming her own beats on digital and electronic platforms to provide a new kind of blues and rhythm. In accordance with Liphemra's multi-suites and tiers of music writing and construction, “bandaid” takes a detour into the frantic trembling repitions of, “everything we have is gone.” Keeping in toe with the timing of the beat, the entire songs returns to the, “rip me like a band-aid” chorus that handles the heart with the power and will to move ahead in any desired direction of Liphemra's choosing.

Keeping up with one of LA's rising and shiniest stars; we give you our latest discussion with Liphemra.

Tell us about the story of toughing out the pain like on “bandaid”, where you are invite the aches and numbness with lyrics like, “rip me like a bandaid, its okay, cuz you're a heavy weight, and I can't feel much else anyway.”

Wishing heartbreak and the lose of someone you love was as simple as ripping off a band-aid. You anticipate the pain without realizing it could all be over in a split second…its just a matter of when you rip that band-aid off…when are you ready to experience that pain? And maybe the thought of it is worse than it will actually end up feeling…maybe it won't be that bad after all. I know as a child there were many times where someone had to rip the band-aid off for me…it would be on for much longer than it needed to be…it would be dirty and worn. Whatever was underneath it had been long healed. My mom had to grab me and rip it off without me even realizing it. Maybe sometimes we need another person to do it for us? Maybe the anticipation and fear of what it feels like is too great to rip it off yourself?

What have the writing and recording sessions been like for your upcoming mixtape?

Just me and my computer in my bedroom.

As someone who has a been a drummer for forever, how do you feel that this sense of percussion and rhythmic has contributed to your songs, composition, and your overall sound?

I think it is the basic foundation for everything I create. At first it was hard for me to sit down at the computer and play 'fake' drums. There was a long time where I would refuse to have anything but real drums on my tracks. I'm not sure why… Maybe I felt like I would be betraying my instrument? But after awhile it didn't make sense because of the things I loved to listen to and was drawn too.. and with my band I'm still able to play & record acoustic drums. There are certain things I refused to do while making the mixtape though…no quantizing…no clicks…barely stayed on a grid. All the drums on the tape are played live…even if it was done with my index fingers the keyboard.

You have been collaborating with Hellfyre Club's king Nocando for his upcoming Jimmy The Burnout album and others. What other collaborations are in the works?

Yeah… I'm going to be working with a lot more rappers. I've been singing on their tracks and been producing for them too… which is really recent and interesting for me. Also going to be releasing live recordings with my band later this year. Most of the mixtape songs we adapted for live shows.

And like LA's current moment of indie uprising from boutique labels, and happenings at The Echo, and everywhere; what are your thoughts and hopes for this current resurgence?

I think its great… My tape is coming out on Lolipop Records. Its such a cool little record shop that a bunch of my friends opened up less than a year ago in Echo Park. They haven't released any hip hop tapes yet..so this release will be their first. The vibe is special there… The music community in Echo Park is really unique, and specific to what's happening with music in LA now. It feels like home… anywhere you go, you're bound to see someone you know and have played music with.

Liphemra's mixtape will be available soon from LA's indie imprint, Lolipop Records.

Within the past few hours, we just got our first listen to Split Screens' A-side, “The Sinner”, available March 18 from Name Drop Swamp Records. The folk traveling vehicle of Jesse Cafiero and friends, he strums his guitars like the gentle foliage drops of fall, reciting; “and the leaves are falling down”. With an upcoming release party for their single March 22 at their local San Francisco digs at Bottom of the Hill, check out the electric expressions of raining chords on “The Sinner”.

With a sound of the roads well traveled from Pine Plains, NY by SF, Jesse makes music for all seasons with lyrics that explore those paths of change. Like any great troubadour, the guitar textures and solos carry Cafiero's thoughts from summers of love to the semesters that alter everything we hold dear. The tones and characters of the progressions provide picture books of emotion, the train tracks that lie behind as well in the routes that wait ahead. Split Screens are San Francisco's newest singer-songwriting class to keep a keen ear and eye on.

We now bring you a closer look into the world of Split Screens in our exclusive interview with frontman, Jesse Cafiero.

Jesse, give us the narrative on how your music was affected between Pine Plains, NY and SF.

I've played music in some form since the age of five so there's been quite a bit of change over the years since growing up in my home town of Pine Plains. I would say the big difference would be that when I was living on the east coast I went to college for music and was a serious jazz bass player, playing more of a sideman role with band leaders and singer songwriters. Moving to San Francisco four years ago certainly marked a major shift for me creatively, I became more serious about writing music and getting into singing and playing guitar and lap steel.

What do you like in particular about the SF scenes and sounds these days? What brought you into the power folk, Americana arts?

San Francisco in general has always been a home for a very creative type of person and I think that still exists today even with all the negative (and exhausting) media coverage about the raising rent prices and tech boom going on in the city. There's just a ton of bands out here in the Bay Area and you'll find certain scenes intersecting with each other which I always find really interesting. When I started playing the bass at age 13 was when my influences began to take hold. I've been into classic rock since then and artists like Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix have been huge in shaping my perception of music. On the folk side I've been more of a late bloomer but I've been blown away time and time again from songwriters like Paul Simon and Neil Young that carry such individuality and lyrical potency to their music.

What's the story behind, “The Sinner”?

Coming up with The Sinner started with the opening lyric, 'You're just a sinner, waiting for the saints to lie,' and it kind of took off from there. That first line and the kind of upbeat finger-picking style just made me think of this loner cowboy character, once I had that idea I had a good direction to take the song. I don't usually write lyrics in the second person so it was fun to see where the words went!

How do you and Split Screens go about arranging your guitar parts and solos, with those organ touches? Those chords and notes are striking, in those lonely drifter kind of ways.

I'm glad you noticed the organ parts I love those! My buddy Rory played those parts, he's a really uniquely talented musician who also played drums on the first EP and upcoming record. He's one of those musicians that you can just let him try some ideas out for a few takes and you'll have some great material, I didn't direct him at all and it was very effortless in the studio. Our guitar player Phil contributed the lead guitar part to the chorus, I think we were just messing around in rehearsal when he came up with it, I love that line too!

We're excited about your 7″ release party for The Sinner March 22 at Bottom of the Hill in SF. What other things do you have going on that we ought to know about or should be listening for?

I'm prepping to release our debut full length Before The Storm, that should be out in June which I'm really excited about. It's definitely an evolution from our debut self-titled EP and it's been a year in the making so it'll be great to finally share it! Also, I'm currently working on a DIY stop motion-collage music video that will be coming out with the LP release. The nature of stop-motion is a bit tedious, but I'm going head on into it and it's becoming quite a passion project! I'm using a lot of old photos from vintage magazines, along with some very archaic animation techniques. I think it's going to have a great look and will definitely reinforce the art-rock side of Split Screens!

Listen to more Split Screens via Bandcamp, and join them in SF at Bottom of the Hill on March 22 for the release of The Sinner 7″.

Dutch E Germ, the project from Gang Gang Dance's original drummer Tim DeWit dropped the album, IN.RAK.DUST on his site via a release from UNO NYC. The opener, “IntroXXXWar”, sets the tone with atmospheric keys and the crackle of flames on kindling that dissolves into the vocal edit chaos, that throws you into the “Black Sea”. As the modern games of warfare heat up, “Nami Nami” provides a moment of zen like pause and reflection like gazing over a newly made lake water basin made by a crasher meteor after an intergalactic battle and storm. The title track has fun with loops, that keeps everything oscillating around you and tripping up conventional sense of time. An experimental odyssey to entrance the mind from the institutions of GGD and UNO NYC.

Still fresh from the fame of Forever; Stefanie of Sleep ∞ Over remixes TRUST's “Lost Souls/Eelings”, from the new album, Joyland, available now from Arts & Crafts. From the muffled vocal edits, cuts, and splices; “Lost Souls/Eelings” are given new digital rhythms, new souls, and new feelings.

Lucius dropped their Mimi Cave video for “Turn It Around”, as they have an appearance on Conan scheduled for March 25 with upcoming SXSW dates and a tour with Tegan and Sara. Switch around the cycles with Lucius now.

L'Orange dropped the wavy and retro grooved cut, “Need You” ft. Blu off the upcoming movement, The Orchid Days, available April 8 on digital and April 15 on CD from Mello Music Group.

From Ghetto Ghouls self-titled, available in April from Monofonus Press; join in on the joys that is living alone that keep its loud, snotty, ambivalent, neat, sweet, and under a minute and a half.

Mimicking Birds trains the long, and epic trails of the synth paint streaked single, “Bloodlines”, an epic song in three shimmering parts. Find this on the upcoming EONS album available may 13 from Glacial Pace.

Taking on the Stones and Coasters classic, “Poison Ivy”, get up and excited for this cover from The Ukiah Drag who just played a handful of dates with The Men. Find this stage-stand shredder and the A-side on the Dirt Trip 7″ available now from Wharf Cat Records.

The Faint asks you kindly with scathing synths to, “Salt My Doom”, from their upcoming album, Doom Abuse, available April 8 from SQE Music.

Taken from the deathbeDreams EP, peep Slick Talk of the League of Extraordinary Gz giving love for his home digs of Austin, TX in the video for, “That Lower (Southside),” with those Eric Dingus ambient beats.

Then we weren't looking, Warm Soda gave us and the rest of the world an advance listen to their forthcoming LP, Young Reckless Hearts available March 11 from Castle Face. Stay young and reckless at heart with the eternal Fuzz City sound.

We got your 'Big Gulp' listen to Gulp's single, “Vast Space” ahead of their steam train chugging album, Season Sun, available June 24 from Everloving. Go where ever these organ laced roads take you, even if it is beyond the pale horizon.

Enter the gorgeous world of Yumi Zouma and enjoy of afternoon of care-free delights in the Eugene Kotlyarenko video for “The Brae”. The NYC x Paris x Christchurch group's perfect single is taken into the complications of a triangle of friends and could be lovers as they enjoy the city lights and the night's sky from a perch on the roof, with the cigarette lit. The Yumi Zouma EP is available now from Cascine. Read our coverage here.

Archie Bronson Outfit's people sent along this listen to the water-wah-wah skronk and rock of, “Two Doves On a Lake” off their upcoming first album in like four years, Wild Crush, available May 20 from Domino.

With SxSW gigs in the works on March 10 & 11, check out the lyrically noted video for Falls', “Home”, that takes you all the way there and back again courtesy of the Sydney duo's album, Into The Fire.

Bringing their respective backgrounds from Hong Kong, Honolulu, Maryland, to the proving pop grounds of LA; check out The Mercy Beat's new single, “Sweet”. Keeping a smooth and sweet synth ride in play, some interesting moments of inner glimpses shine to the audio projections of the track's production. “There are no words to keep us, only hands to hold us, and nothing left between us but silence.”

Aussie thrash and trash purveyors DZ Deathrays dropped by their SxSW schedule and times, followed by a listen to the awesome sauce, heart attack hotel of, “Gina Works At Hearts”.

Sunday March 9:
10:30pm – Empire Control Room (IHEARTCOMIX)

Monday March 10:
12:00am – Hotel Vegas Patio (Do512)

Thursday March 13:
01:20pm – Blackheart Bar (And Publishing, Hidden Track Music)
04:00pm – BD Riley's (Sounds Australia)
12:45am – The Liberty (Liberation, Inflated, Gold Robot)

Friday March 14:
02:05pm – Hole in the Wall (Exploding in Sound)

Saturday March 15:
12:00pm – Wonderland (I Oh You, Kissability)
02:20pm – Empire Control Room (IHEARTCOMIX)
05:35pm – Maggie Mae's (Aussie BBQ)
12:00am – Bar 96 (Official SXSW Showcase

Off their I'll Eat You Last EP debut, we bring you C.J. Brion video for LA duo Intimatchine's “Are You Rich?” Should you need more of their sexed up and sensual swinging sounds; read their Valentine's Day feature and interview here. Keep tabs on these two.

Our buddies Japanther dropped the video for, “Do It (Don't Try)”, featuring lots of tagged USPS stickers, ahead of their new LP, Instant Money Magic, available April 15 from Seayou Records. Find them hitting up SxSW and playing through April 1 with select dates with Tiny Moving Parts. Peep the tour date deets via their Facebook.

White Lung's dropped a listen to their upcoming 7″ single, “Drown With The Monster” available April 29 from Domino. Shred with the Lung in the following, light flashing video from Steven Andrew Garcia.

I feel like Tom Fec warned me about this release, circa our discussion during the last BMSR album. So here it is, TOBACCO, new single, “Eruption” (Gonna Get My Hair Cut At The End Of The Summer), from Ultima II Massage, available May 13 from Ghostly International / The TOBACCO Store.

Xiu Xiu offers up two video pieces for “Lawrence Liquors” off the recent album, Angel Guts: Red Classroom available from Polyvinyl. This is the stuff urban nightmares of redemption are made of.

Now, enjoy Xiu Xiu second video for, “Lawrence Liquors”. Catch them playing LA April 23.

Alias dropped the Indiiggo EP and title cut with digital atmospheric avatars ahead of the forthcoming album, Pitch Black Prism, available May 27 from Anticon.

Maigret Jnr & Misfit Mod are about to take you deep into the new wave kicks of The Motels' classic, “Total Control”, that confirms why we continue to love that neon made decade. So listen as Sarah's gorgeous keys and dearest vocals mix with Maigret's rich delivery. This combination of eras has confirmed that 2014 is officially the new 1984, and we couldn't be any happier about the matter. Maigret Jnr's upcoming Man Behind Joy EP will be available soon via Bandcamp.

Galactic glamor and BERENIK chic awaits in the Thomas Gibbons and Julia Thompson video for TEEN's single, “Not For Long”, off their upcoming,The Way and Color available April 22 from Carpark Records.

Check out Cold Blood Club's big single, “Down”, as they prepare to play The Knitting Factory, March 20 with Von Bondies-bro, Jason Stollsteimer's new band, The Hounds Below.

From Stockholm with synthesizers and lots of love, get popped up and out with Cape Lion's new cut, “Called You Mine”, off their upcoming EP slated for spring. These are the sounds that remind you why Sweden retains the radio pop rights to shift and shape the popular music constructs of some of the most notable shifts and movements in the sounds you adore today.

With Dude York's debut album Dehumanize available now from Help Yourself Records, and we got the Christopher Harrell video streaming here for the carniverous cool pop antics of, “Cannibal”. Follow all of our Dude York coverage here.

Parquet Courts dropped the following sheet music (no joke here) for their new single, “Sunbathing Animal,” the A-side to their Record Store Day 7″, b/w “Pilgrims To Nowhere”. Catch them playing SxSW on Thursday, March 13 at Bar 96 for the Filter/Dr Martens Showcase, and Saturday, March 15 at their official Parquet Courts curated party (Location & Time TBA).

Taking you between the boom and the bap, get a listen to Slakah the Beatchild's “Stompthaflo” ft. Spek Won ahead of Slakah's Soul Movement 2 album. This is the sound of a million sunny days, filled with nothing but the sickest flows.

Little Racer dropped their self-made b/w video for, “Vanessa”, ahead of their Modern Accent EP available April 8 from Paper Cup Music. Catch the Racers playing Baby's All Right with Cheatahs March 4, but right now you are welcome to dive into those “I Wanna Be Adored” bass lines and chord cadences.

Earl Boykins dropped the track, “Leggy Blondes”, ahead of their upcoming album, FRIENDS, available March 25. Catch the release show at Brooklyn's Shea Stadium on March 27 with Dead Waves and Flagland.

So did you hear about the Bernard Butler, Jackie McKeown, Paul Borchers, and Igor Volk supergroup Trans? Well you did now, so enjoy the following screen test film that introduce the band with, “Thinking About a Friend”, “The Prince”, “Lights”, and “Tangerine” off the limited edition 12″ available March 25 from Rough Trade.

Walking Shapes put a tiger in our tanks with, “Woah Tiger”, that runs on something more powerful than Exxon fuels. Find this on their upcoming album, Taka Come On, available April 8.

Haley Bonar dropped the track,”No Sensitive Man”, ahead of her album, Last War available May 20 from Graveface. Haley drops the nice gal schtick, and goes for jugular with a real righteous garage pop rebellion.

The Singles bust out the big boxes of pop tones with, “(She's Got) A Heart Of Stone,” off their upcoming album, Look How Fast A Heart Can Break available April 1.

Stepsisters Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse are Skating Polly, who have just released their Fuzz Steilacoom album, and share the sweet squall and squeals from the fuzzed out and distorted up jammer, “Ugly”. Listen for that trippy breath effect at the end.

Listen to Skating Polly's “Ugly” here.

With SXSW dates swerving around March 13-15, peep the video for Lizzo's “Faded” that features Har Mar and Mac Culkin (sans pizza paraphernalia). Peep the toast to twenty-somethings living it up for that twenty-something.

From his Playboy album, Clyde Carson dropped the b/w video directed by Bryant Robinson for, “No Sleep”, with that old time/fun time production from the Bay's Shonuff.

Pagiins dished us up a fired up helping of, “Yeti Spaghetti”, with a SxSW gig on March 12 and a tour with Sleeper/Agent and Holychild.

Sharon Van Etten gave us some swirling sea sails on, “Taking Chances”, off her upcoming album, Are We There, available May 27 from Jagjaguawar.

Incan Abraham dropped the track, “Concorde”, ahead of their upcoming debut album, Tolerance, available April 8 from White Iris Records. Listen to their lush sound get even bigger and brighter. Find them on tour. Find them March 11-14 hitting up SxSW showcases with an appearance at Phoenix, Arizona's The Western on March 20.

We got new remixes of Yip Deceiver, and news of their SxSW schedules with shows Thursday March 13 at the New West Records Day Party, 1pm, later at the New West Records Official Showcase happening at The Velveeta Room at 1am, and then Friday. March 14 for the Aerobic International & Friends Showcase at Half Step, 10:15pm. Check out the Willy Joy remix of “Lover” that gets weird and snazzy in the middle.

Keeping this Yip Deceiver party going for a few more minutes, check out the Loose Shus remix of, “Lover”.

Be one of the first on your block to hear the new Mac DeMarco single, “Brother”, full of all that AM radio radness that you have always loved Mac for. Find this off his upcoming album, Salad Days, available April 1 from Captured Tracks. This could be the next best thing since 2, or Rock and Roll Nightclub.

Coming March 11, check out the 14 second trailer for BANKS' upcoming album BRAIN.

R. Pollard and his Guided By Voices dropped an early listen to the fresh and poppy cut, “Bad Love Is Easy to Do”, off the upcoming album, Cool Planet LP available May 13 from Guided By Voices Inc. Stateside and May 19 from Fire Records for EU/UK.

Check out the new honest and sentimental song from EELS with, “Mistakes of My Youth”, off the upcoming album, The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, available April 22. Let Everett speak to you with lyrics like, “I keep defeating my own self, and keep repeating yesterday, I can't keep defeating myself, I can't keep repeating those days of my youth…but it's not too late to turn around.”

Shit Robot’s second album, We Got A Love, will be available March 18 from DFA, and you can get the dance party started with the visuals for, “Do That Dance” that features Nancy Whang.

Beginning Saturday, March 8 in Nashville Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood; r∆chel and Paco Tapes bring 11 bands over for three days of fun. We're talking Team Spirit, Fat History Month, empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate), EX-CULT, Foxing, Cheap Time, Bent Denim, Meth Dad, Donovan Wolfington, Priests, Woozy, Tiny Moving Parts, Marmalakes, The Lonely Biscuits and more. For more details, peep the above flyer or check here for further details.

Also from the neuhau5 family and Paco Tapes imprint; look for the releases Four EPs From Mama Would Be Proud and Woozy's Through The Attic To The Stars — both available March 8 via Paco Tapes.

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