On much of her self-titled debut LP, singer-songwriter Sarah Negahdari–the front person for the band Happy Hollows who also records under the name Pisces–sounds something like an L.A.-ified reincarnation of Nick Drake, with the same delicate, dreamy take on folk music but sunny Laurel Canyon vibes taking the place of Drake’s very British gloom. The Pisces LP, featuring the hard-to-shake single “Being With You,” came out last week. You can stream it here or buy it on Bandcamp.
Tag: An EW Exclusive! (21-30 of 642)
Last year, erstwhile Two Wounded Birds front man Johnny Aries moved from London to New York in order to join up with his former tour mates The Drums. Along with playing on their most recent album, Encyclopedia, Aries has also written and recorded his first solo LP, Unbloomed, since his relocation.
Combining punchy pop with a bit of gothy postpunk edge, it’s like a trip back in time to the period in the ’80s where alternative youth culture was ruled by swooning, floppy-haired Smiths fans.
The video for its lead single, “This Grave Is My Bed Tonight,” underlines that aspect by slapping some vampiric makeup on Aries and friends and sending them out onto the streets of New York.
Last month Olympia, Washington weirdos Naomi Punk released Television Man, 10 tracks of jagged postpunk, Pacific Northwest grunge, and art-damaged sonic experimentation that’s as genuinely pleasurable as it is challenging. The title track is also maybe the album’s best, a hypnotic, mathy prog-punk anthem with touches of krautrock drive and almost New Age-y prismatic psychedelia.
The kaleidoscopic video for “Television Man” takes a slightly literal approach to visualizing the song with degraded videotape of flexing bodybuilders, but blasts the images into abstraction through repetition and reflection. “Basically,” writes director Robin Stein, “it came from an initial interest in using mirrors as an analog effect for manipulating video imagery. Beyond the initial visual treatment—inspired by imagery of 1970s body-building and the Philip Lorca Dicorcia photography series ‘Lucky 13′—I was looking at how the contours of extreme musculature could become an abstract and dark visual medium.”
In its original form, which you can hear on her River Queen EP, Sara Jackson-Holman’s “Haunt Me” is an airy piano ballad that shows off her knack for catchy melodies and interesting, unfussy arrangements, and is considerably cheerier than its title suggests.
In the hands of fellow Portlander Natasha Kmeto, whose dark but danceable electronic compositions might seem a world away from Jackson-Holman (but are actually strangely complementary), it becomes something much more, well, haunting. It should come in handy when you make your playlist of songs to get spookily down to this weekend.
Halifax indie-pop auteur Rich Aucoin‘s second album, Ephemeral, was heavily inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, and was in fact written specifically to sync up with the novella’s 1979 claymation film adaptation. For the video for the song “Want to Believe,” though, he seems to be tapping into a couple other beloved entertainment properties, pairing a ragtag gang of BMX-riding, adventure-seeking misfits with a burnt-out guy in a rumpled suit who has an obsession with exploring the unknown and a very familiar UFO poster on the wall. The wacky hijinks the group gets up to go nicely with the song’s fist-pumping, Andrew-W.K.-meets-The-Arcade-Fire positivity.
Singer-songwriter Niia Bertino–who goes by her first name, pronounced”Nye-a”–is crafting a singular career path for herself. A classically trained pianist with a pop-friendly voice, she got her first big break on Wyclef Jean’s “Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)” but has largely eschewed radio-friendly hits in favor of making subtle, intimate music that rewards careful listening. Her upcoming debut Generation Blue (out tomorrow on Something Local) was recorded with Danish musician Robin Hannibal, the producer behind the cultishly beloved groups Rhye and Quadron, and it deftly uses the template of contemporary minimalist electronic music to help bring vocal jazz into the here and now, a difficult mission that it pulls off with surprising ease.
The intriguingly spare “Breaking” is typical of the pair’s approach, even if it is atypical subject matter. “This song was one of the hardest songs to write on the EP,” Niia writes in an email. “Until I was really ready to admit my mistakes, the song felt unfinished. This is my first real apology song.”
Michael Quattlebaum Jr., better known as Mykki Blanco, is a singular presence in hip-hop, not just because he’s part of the first wave of openly queer rappers to gain traction with an audience outside the queer community but simply because there’s no other hip-hop artists who look, sound, or act like him. On his new mixtape Gay Dog Food he shows off some of the blunt-instrument flow that he built his reputation on, but spends far more time channeling Iggy Pop with an elastic sprechgesang that he uses to deliver hallucinatory lyrics about freaks, drugs, and kinky sex, wallowing in transgressive behavior with manic glee over beats engineered for maximum sonic filth. It’s one of the year’s most bracing rap records, and signals Mykki Blanco’s elevation from a new artist to keep an eye out for to an icon who demands attention. A few days before Gay Dog Food‘s release EW spoke to him by phone about where’s he’s been and where’ he’s heading.
Portland’s Pink Martini has made its name on recreating traditional American pop with a respect for tradition spiked with hint of the uncanny—which lends the enterprise a vaguely John Waters-esque vibe.
Recently band leader Thomas Lauderdale hooked up with Sofia, Melanie, Amanda, and August von Trapp, the great-grandchildren of the actual Captain and Maria von Trapp who inspired The Sound of Music, adding them to the group’s sprawling lineup for a new album, Dream a Little Dream, where they take on everything from the Rwandan national anthem to, yes, “Edelweiss.” For the titular track the collective teamed up with Portlandia producer David Cress and Tanya Selvaratnam for a video co-created by Melanie von Trapp and Alex Marashian that matches the song’s juxtaposition of cutesy old-timey aesthetics and dreamy surreality.
On Sunday night Boardwalk Empire will wrap up its five-season run. The following day the latest installment of the show’s soundtrack will hit iTunes, featuring songs by Norah Jones, Elvis Costello, JD McPherson, series favorite Loudon Wainwright III, and Regina Spektor, whose rendition of “Love Me or Leave Me” will appear in the final episode. EW has the exclusive first listen here.
Written by Songwriting Hall of Famers Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson (who also wrote “Makin’ Whoopee,” among other classics), it’s been recorded by everyone from Bing Crosby to Olivia Newton-John since it was first released in 1928. “We love Regina,” Boardwalk music supervisor Randall Poster writes in an email. “Her second appearance in Boardwalk Empire. While this song plays in the body of the show, it reinforces the happy fact that she would have been a singing sensation in any decade!”
At this point in the game, it feels a lot like the possibilities of the traditional drums-bass-guitar rock band setup have been exhausted, and that every different type of noise that can be made with that configuration have already been made. Avant-punk duo Teach Me Equals have solved that problem by composing and recording their new album Knives in the Hope Chest using nothing more than cello, guitar, violin, voice, and a few electronic flourishes like the beat on their single “Coelacanth” made from manipulated samples of the buzzing noise you get when you touch the end of a plugged-in guitar cable. Between the unconventional instrumentation and angular compositions their music sounds like musique concrète run through the ’90s Pacific Northwest experimental hardcore scene.
In the video for “Coelacanth,” Office Space‘s Greg Pitts (a.k.a. “Drew the O-Face Guy”) romances the titular lobe-finned fish, which was thought to have gone extinct 66 million years ago before they were discovered to be living in small populations around the globe. It’s a deeply weird scenario, but strangely tender as well.
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