New ones from Warbly Jets, Guy Blakeslee, Michelle Obama’s fav Tayla Parx and new French-Malian star Aya Nakamura among the press releases from November.
Warbly Jets – ‘Nasa’: With a ‘90s Beastie Boys look, the Warbly Jets are back with a powerful and muscular rock song hitting hard between the Gallagher brothers and the Dandy Warhols. The song, that comes with a sexy video, is their first release since 2019’s Propaganda EP and their first single since stripping the Los Angeles-based band down to the original duo of Samuel Shea and Julien O’neill. With power chords and layers of horn samples, this is a very dynamic return, that mixes genres and influences with visuals referencing Stanley Kubrick and ’90s music video director Hype Williams. For the indie band, who has been hit particularly hard by 2020 socio-economic realities due to the impossibility of touring, the song represents survival. ‘It’s no secret that nowadays artists, especially independent artists like us, rely almost exclusively on income from live shows to make a living,’ explains Shea. ‘For the last eight months, we’ve all had to rely on streaming. In January 2019 Spotify reported that on average it pays between $0.00331 and $0.00437 in royalty to artists PER STREAM! Let’s break that down. 302 streams to make $1. We’ve gotten so used to eating the crumbs that we forgot we used to be sitting at the table.’ ‘Before 2020 it felt like the music world was figuring out how to be highly sustainable for the first time since the millennium,’ explains O’neill. ‘The streaming wars were decided, digital spaces were being monetized, festivals were global. Now there’s a big lull and no one knows where to turn to.’ ‘It’s too soon to say who/what will be left standing at the end of all of this,’ explains Shea. ‘It’s a scary thing to think that while profits for artists from live music are gone until further notice, master recordings are generating more money than ever for record labels. This is really the time for artists to fight for their worth. And when this is over, hopefully, that growth is represented on both sides of the table in a way that’s actually fair to artists.’ Hoping for a post-COVID renaissance, Shea and O’neill are determined to lead the charge. ‘There’s bound to be many who are just going to call it a day,’ explains O’neill. ‘But there are also a lot of us who are making our best material right now and can’t wait to get back in it! That’s where we feel like we’re at. Anyone with a Youtube channel or TikTok has an outlet for instant notoriety.’ ‘COVID is cracking open opportunities for anyone who is willing to get creative and stir the pot,’ adds Shea. ‘The people that have been able to shake off the negativity of the year, put their head down and get to work have been able to succeed. Creative people are finding solutions in places no-one else is looking.’
Kikagaku Moyo – ‘Smoke and Mirrors’: This is part of a brand-new live series, Live at LEVITATION launched by The Reverberation Appreciation Society and recorded over the history of the world-renowned event. The series captures key moments in psychedelic rock history, live music in Austin, Texas, and showcases artists chosen from over a decade of recordings. The first LP in this series features Japanese psych heavyweights Kikagaku Moyo exploring psychedelic music from some delicate folk moments to tempestuous heavy head-banging parts. It showcases one of the band’s very first US shows in 2014 on the A-side, and their triumphant return in 2019 on the B-side with them firing on all cylinders amid a sold-out US tour. ‘Playing Austin Psych Fest / Levitation was always a goal from our earliest days of the band – to join the psychedelic community for a weekend of music and present our live performance. This show in 2014 was a landmark for us. To return years later in 2019 and find the same welcome, the dream was still very much alive and well,’ declared Kikagaku Moyo. The record will be released on January 15, 2021.
Patriarchy – Hell Was Full – Bon Harris (Nitzer Ebb) Remix: A horror goth-rock show heavily lying on electronics, satanic, and gore references. With sinister beats and a middle eastern dancefloor, the video mixes debauchery and sacrifice, while the female eerie vocals are in full contrast with the scene. This is the first single off an upcoming remix album of the 2019 debut ‘Asking For It’ LP, by gothy-electro duo Patriarchy, which consists of Huizenga and Andrew Means. The full tracklist has not been revealed but includes remixes by Nitzer Ebb, Drab Majesty, Front Line Assembly, and Geneva Jacuzzi. Each remix will come with a new video as well that both play off the song’s original video but pays tribute to the remixer. ‘This bundle of precious-gem-remixes is my own fantasy-reality gathered up like a treasure in the backyard,’ Huizenga declared to Brooklyn Vegan.
SIX60 – ‘Fade Away’: A powerhouse breezy pop song influenced by R&B with interesting layered harmonies and an undeniable cinematic flair. This is the brand new track of award-winning New Zealand-based SIX60, and it arrives with the world premiere of their film ‘SIX60: Till the Lights Go Out,’ which will air on a dedicated flight from Aukland to Dunedin where attendees will get the chance to rub shoulders with the band, also traveling on the service. I know that New Zealand did very well with the COVID-19 crisis and can do these happy experiments. As a matter of fact, tickets sold out within just 6 hours of going on sale! Meanwhile, the movie, which tells the story of the band, revealing their untold story of ambition and creative vulnerability, will hit theaters across Australia and New Zealand on November 26. Watch the trailer for the film HERE.
Anna Akana – ‘pink’: A classic piano-driven melancholic pop song about gay love, with the obligatory soaring part, clacking beats, and an echoing guitar illustrated by an animated video. This is a song from Anna Akana’s upcoming EP ‘No Longer Yours,’ a follow-up to her debut album, 2019’s ‘Casualty.’ ‘This EP is about the process of assembling the broken pieces and stitching them back together,’ Akana said. ‘It’s about the moment you finally see the person who used to make you nauseous and realize it doesn’t sting so much anymore. I had so much clarity about the things that weren’t working for me, what I had to let go of, and how I wanted to shape my life moving forward with more self-awareness about what was within my grasp to change.’
Aaron Taos – ‘Summer’s Gone’ ft. Alice Gray: A light-hearted pop song executed with humor and bouncing beats. It’s a late summer jam with a funny video that can make you regret we are already close to winter. ‘Summer is my favorite season. Hands down. BBQs, fishing, pick-up soccer, block parties,’ Taos said. ‘Unfortunately, this 2020 season was not one for sharing these experiences with friends and family on a large scale. When I shared this theme and song with directors Pierce Pyrzenski and Mike Curry, they independently both came up with the same exact concept: A man is who is sadly holding on to every bit of sunshine, even when the party’s over. I was 100% in. Even though the video is a goofy representation of this concept, we all can relate to holding on to sunshine and warmth a little longer given the uncertainly of what this winter is going to bring. I for one am missing those carefree days of summers past right now.’ The track, that features Alice Gray on vocals, will appear on the deluxe reissue of Taos’ debut album, ‘Birthday Boy,’ which is set for release on November 20.
Guy Blakeslee – ‘Postcards From The Edge’: A dramatic track driven by Blakeslee’s vivid and trembling vocals, while the busy and intriguing soundscape powerfully oscillates between light and shadows, perfectly illustrated by the self-directed and eerie video. This is the title track of his new solo album recorded in New Orleans at the house studio of Preservation Hall Jazz Band and produced by Enrique Tena Padilla. It will be out on February 5, 2021, via his own Entrance Records. If you are a fan like me, you have probably noticed that the title may have been borrowed from a certain princess Leia’s book: ‘I don’t remember trying to write this song. It just emerged fully formed, though the title had been kicking around in my mind since I was really young thanks to Carrie Fisher,’ notes Blakeslee. ‘It was born from the chaos that’s created when a traveler lingers too long in one place while those who really live there are trying to make sense of their stationary lives. Strange triangulations occur, boundaries are tested and technology warps the illusion of keeping in touch. If you don’t belong anywhere, then you can belong everywhere. Distance and closeness might be more psychic than physical.’ As for the overall album, the Entrance Band’s frontman had this to say to describe it: ‘What if Rimbaud met Roy Orbison, on acid in a room full of synthesizers, after a late-night wander through the haunted streets of New Orleans? Is getting lost the only way to ever be found? At what point does the hero’s journey become a fool’s errand?’
Tayla Parx – Fixerupper: An all percussive and harmonies uplifting pop song with Parx’s beautiful and emotional voice carrying the playful melody and transforming the song into a delightful pleasure. The new track, that will appear on the Grammy-nominated artist forthcoming album ‘Coping Mechanisms’, was co-written by Parx, Ali Tamposi, Nija Charles, Tommy Brown, and Tushar Apte, produced by Tommy Brown (p/k/a TBHits) and Tushar Apte and is accompanied by a video. Back in May, Parx released her lead single ‘Dance Alone’ to widespread critical praise, with a current 1.2 million Spotify streams, and a spot on Michelle Obama’s #BlackGirlMagic playlist.
Liza Owens – ‘Starry Eyed’: With this howl and this look – she is half Cambodian, half English – Liza Owens sounds like a wild beauty spinning the pop scene upside down with a furious passion. The video follows her on a disheveled and defiant motorbike ride while she explains: ‘’Starry Eyed’ was born at around 3 am after staying up for 3 days straight at a writing trip with my crew ASL,’ Owens says. ‘It is a song about realizing that the dream is not as glamorous as people think it is and neither is the road to get there. A lot of messed-up things have happened to some of our icons but somehow we still want to be like them.’ While it certainly has a huge hook and an unapologetic grit, the song has the potential to become some infectious anthem, soon climbing the charts. Originally breaking into the business writing songs for the likes of Selena Gomez and BTS, this summer she has quietly been putting her very own inimitable stamp on music, first with her fiery debut single ‘Why Aren’t We Having Sex?’ in the summer, and then with her second single ‘Getting Good,’ a grungy, ’90s tinged rock beast which explored the lengths we go to lead ourselves down the wrong paths.
Aya Nakamura – ‘Tchop’: A track off multi-platinum, Malian-born French artist Aya Nakamura’s new album ‘AYA,’ released via Rec. 118/Warner Music. Described as ‘one of the most important acts in Europe, musically and socially’ by the New York Times, the track is an urban Afropop banger filled with percussive beats and Aya’s commanding altered vocals. Aya’s last album, 2018’s NAKAMURA, has surpassed one million album sales worldwide and 3.5 billion streams globally, bridging Europe, Africa, and Latin America. She developed her unique style of lyrics that blends the use of Parisian argot, Arabic and Bambara, the Malian language of her parents, as well as bringing a fresh take on Afrobeat, Pop, R&B, and the Caribbean dance sounds of Zouk. An act to follow.
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Creem, at this point, seemed to be looking for new feeding hands to bite.
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a potential top album of the year.
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Refreshingly honest and considerate
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can they survive an entire album?
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Fleet Foxes are at the Belasco on Wednesday
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highlighting hair metal bands simply to make fun of them was more amusing than profitable
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On his way to save the day… and the night
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How is Vividseats able to get around this technical problem?
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