Niina Soleil, Nick Leng, The Mortal Prophets, ELPENTHE, Hien, Automatic, and Tunnel are the artists among these press releases for June.
Niina Soleil – “Make It Summer”: A languid driving ballad with a melancholic vibe and a surprising explosive chorus hoping for a dreamy summer escape. The brand new single and its accompanying music video, embody the very season the song mentions thanks to Nina Shallman’s airy vocal stylings and a synth-driven melody. Speaking on the new track and accompanying music video, Nina wrote: “‘Make it Summer’ is ultimately about escape. Maybe your escape takes the form of a car or a weekend getaway; maybe it’s a vivid daydream or fantasy. But my song celebrates all Summer escapes— the spirit of adventure, the impulse to break free from whatever holds you back. Working with Carla Dauden was an absolute dream. She was able to bring out performances and choreograph shots to make a video that perfectly captures the soul of my song: the dreamy, exhilarating feeling of freedom that summer brings.” Speaking on the video, director Carla Dauden continued: “This was such a special project in so many ways. At one point, as we were rolling on an empty PCH during an epic sunset. Nina was nailing the performance, the camera was just where it had to be, and the world felt a bit surreal. I looked at the crew and you could just sense the thrill all around. It was such a high, such a beautiful shoot in so many ways. The visuals of a song don’t always come easy, but with this one, it was crystal clear to me. Such a joy to get to work with a talent like Nina. The technical aspects were pretty challenging, but that was also what made it all so fun.” More new music from Niina Soleil is expected this year.
Nick Leng – “My Mind is a Mess in the Morning”: An exhilarating song with many moods, going from the poignant keys to the fully orchestrated and intoxicating explosion which follows and works like a transportive musical experience. The classically-trained pianist-turned producer, songwriter, and artist has released a video for the song that he has described: “written while I was living in Topanga in a trailer park which, subsequently, (and arguably hilariously) became rat-infested prompting a hasty departure.” “My Mind is a Mess in the Morning” is part of Nick’s double-single featuring A-Side, “Morning / Midnight.” Both tracks come off his forthcoming second LP, “Spirals,” out July 22 via SOTA Records. The video, directed by Drey Jordan Singer, was filmed on location at silent film actress Gloria Talbott’s original home, La Tuna Ranch in Sun Valley, CA. The music is a mix of genres, catchy and anthemic, evocative of many feelings but not firmly planted in any. Last fall, Leng, who describes his music by referring to color, shared a new live LP, “LEMONS – Live From Drive In OC.” The live LP followed Leng’s successful 2020 debut album “LEMONS.”
The Mortal Prophets – “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”: A gothic, vaguely bluesy strangeness, mixing genres and haunted by the ghost of Iggy Pop or David Bowie. This is the second single off The Mortal Prophets’ debut EP, “Stomp the Devil,” due July 8. John Beckmann and his evolving band of genre-bending roustabouts dig deep into America’s primal scream. Beckmann channels pre-war blues legends such as Lead Belly, Blind Willie Johnson, Charley Patton, and Robert Johnson, via the experimental ethos of German Electronica, groups such as Neu!, Cluster, Harmonia, Brian Eno, David Bowie, and Suicide. Beckmann said of the forthcoming EP: “My goal with the first EP ‘Stomp The Devil’ was to combine two strong influences of mine, very early pre-war blues with experimental electronica, groups like Can, NEU!, Harmonia and Cluster, and even Suicide, in a new way. You can think about it in this way: In the introduction, The Raw and the Cooked (1964) French anthropologist Lévi-Strauss writes of his confidence that ‘certain categorical opposites are drawn from everyday experience with the most basic sorts of things — e.g. ‘raw’ and ‘cooked,’ ‘fresh’ and ‘rotten,’ ‘moist’ and ‘parched,’ and others — can serve a people as conceptual tools for the formation of abstract notions and for combining these into propositions, or as the surrealist André Breton discovered the singular phrase that became foundational to the surrealist doctrine of objective chance: ‘as beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table.’” The band’s forthcoming debut EP was produced by David Sisko and features collaborations with Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart).
ELPENTHE – “What We Got Away With (ft. Half Wolf)”: A charming, wide-eyed electro-pop song turning into an anthemic fever dream of triumph. This is the second single off the forthcoming debut EP, “Elpenthe I, “ by Venice-based electronic-dance artist ELPENTHE — the musical project of Elliott Beenk. “There are lessons to be learned in the life cycle of every song,” ELPENTHE says of the track. “‘What We Got Away With’ started with Half Wolf’s inimitable storytelling as a folk song on the piano. When writing the song, Wolf reminisced, ‘I was thrown in the back of a cop car half-naked with my best friend and a boy we met at the gas station earlier that day’ — I was instantly drawn to the tales of teenage triumph.” ELPENTHE, aka Elliott Beenk, began his musical explorations in Iowa after coming across a promotion on the lid of a Pizza Hut box. After collecting enough tokens, he traded them in for a mix CD that included the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The nine-year-old was hooked. Over the next fifteen years, he wove his guitar playing through a number of bands, and earned a master’s degree in environmental engineering, eventually fusing his passions into a solar-powered bike tour with one of his bands. At the core of “Elpenthe I” is a desire to construct a communal spirit, which is on full display when considering the individuals involved in the project’s creation. ELPENTHE tapped Ben Darwish (Shawn Mendes, BANKS, Mike Posner) to add additional keys on “Mistakes.” He brought in TK Kayembe (Lizzo, Kehlani, Kid LAROI) for additional production on “What We Got Away With.” 2022 Grammy-nominated Kevin Smith (Harry Styles, Phoebe Bridgers, Frank Ocean) mixed the songs, and Stuart Hawkes (Amy Winehouse, Lorde, Charli XCX) mastered the EP. Through its inspired lyricism and mesmerizing production, Elpenthe I is an experience grounded in a deep love of connections that actively chases away today’s worries, with a musical release that can be played on repeat long after today’s tomorrow.
Hien – “Family”: An electronic dance track delivered on a morose and unapologetic rap tone, and beautifully served by a music video that captures Hien’s creative journey of rebuilding her identity as an artist and navigating life as a millennial Vietnamese immigrant, who moved from Hungary to the US for a new beginning. The music video for “Family” introduces the Vietnamese Hungarian community, pays homage to their heritage, and extends the concept of the family beyond the sense in which the term is used traditionally. “The scenes were inspired by my childhood memories from the ‘90s in Budapest,” Hien shares. “The events that brought our family (and our community) together on a regular basis. Extended families in our community were not made of our blood relatives, but the families of our parents’ friends, who they immigrated together with from Vietnam to Hungary with hopes for a better life. I think out of all the stories of immigrant communities, the historic immigration of Vietnamese to Hungary after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1980s has not really been talked about globally. I’m happy that I can share a small piece of our stories from a very personal perspective.” Hien is a Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter/producer. Ethereal vocals meshing with lush textures and minimal beats – her eclectic sonic identity has been influenced by a wide variation of sounds, from electronica to soul and traditional Eastern styles. The Vietnamese-Hungarian artist started her singer career at the age of 15. She has released two pop albums, played the leading role of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon, and has performed in various cities across Europe, Asia, and the United States. Hien’s career has included accolades such as Glamour’s “Woman of the Year” and the Viva Comet award.
Automatic – “Skyscraper”: A robotic monotonous delivery over a soundscape of synths and steady beats with a hooky chorus. “Skyscraper” is taken from “Excess,” Automatic’s second album for Stones Throw. The album rides the imaginary edge where the ‘70s underground met the corporate culture of the ‘80s – “That fleeting moment when what was once cool quickly turned and became mainstream all for the sake of consumerism.” This becomes the starting point for an exploration into the consequences of such excess – namely, the fact that Gen Z will inherit the world at the eleventh hour before they’re even old enough to drink. Combining its urgent message with catchy pop hooks and the trademark of the L.A. trio (L-R: Lola Dompé on drums & vocals, Izzy Glaudini on synths & lead vocals, Halle Saxon-Gaines on bass & vocals) and icy atmospheres, “Excess” is tight and punchy: danceable music for the end of days. The new video for “Skyscraper” directed by Alex Thurmond casts Automatic as dead-eyed office workers climbing the ladder, in a Severance-style comment on the banal evil of American corporate culture. On “Skyscraper”, Automatic imagines a Patrick Bateman type who can ignore “the miserable people outside” as he luxuriates in his office on the 100th floor “where the sun has a beautiful shine.” The video takes direct inspiration from the lyrics. Thurmond explains: “’The pitfalls of capitalism and corporate life can be easy to fall into. American Psycho and Office Space were both points of reference, the glorification of monotonous tasks and success measured by climbing the corporate ladder. Those movies have such an over-the-top, satirical quality that really matches the tone of the song, and it was fun to play that up.” Automatic will return to LA to play a special “Excess” release show at The Regent on Saturday, August 6. The event will be supported by Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), with Freedom Singers, a collective of musicians from the Skid Row community, opening and their resident visual artist Natosha Smith contributing to stage design. A portion of profits from the show will go directly to LACAN.
Tunnel – “Lemonhead”: A feminine anger that starts with sweet vocals and a bass line but soon explodes into a more buoyant and fuzzy song with “Liz Phair’s snarl, even a smear of Juliana Hatfield’s whiplash and Bilinda Butcher’s dream states.” The moody song is taken from “Vanilla,” Tunnel’s new EP, too. Natasha Janfaza and her band are big on the idea of not giving a shit. Don’t roll your eyes so quickly: this doesn’t mean they’re into spray-painting the anarchy symbol on their bedroom doors or flicking off the camera at a press shoot for the sake of being shocking – they’re more dauntless, more daring, more unafraid of doing or saying something that might make them look a little corny. That too-muchness is a terrifying thing, but it’s at the core of Janfaza’s spirit, and it’s bled all the way out onto the new EP. But being an emotional exhibitionist means that Janfaza is many-sided. Even million-sided. Her experiences sometimes feel like multiple people because she is multiple people – we all are – but there’s a drive inside it that wants it to stay that way – to stay ragged and intimate and cringey, because that’s what’s true. Her work’s queer in its variety and possibility, in how much energy it expends on being flexible and contending with conflicting ideas. This is what makes the chaos of living meaningful. All of this emotional wayfaring comes from the fact that Janfaza is so disciplined by trade. She’s a classically trained violinist – sharpening her blade at Georgetown University – but shifted neatly into the Washington, D.C. punk scene with her three-piece bands and noise show acts – spaces where she really polished her pedigree. (D.C.’s inside her through and through – there’s hardcore in her blood, and on the album: Fugazi’s Brendan Canty is on the drums.) So her forensic detail to attention, her yen for unusually cinematic lyrics, her addiction to giving all of her facets their due instead of robbing herself of any emotion – it’s the runoff of a mind that’s working through loosening its grip on impositions and plunging headlong into more unafraid-to-go-there modes. Watch the video for “Lemonhead.”
There is just a lot to love
the sound seemed to erupt from every side of the room
still on top
“danceable music for the end of days”
contracts its world in Nashisms
let’s take what we are offered
It’s the music, stupid
a restless and fearless freak show