Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hozier: Live On KCRW + Take Me To Church

24-year-old Irish singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Hozier-Byrne aka Hozier has arguable been the busiest man in show business this year, but despite his crazy schedule of performing, recording, and interviewing he seems remarkably unfazed by it all. His current tour continues until late March (with between Christmas and late January) and almost every date is sold out.

His relatively fast ascent to fame is in great part owing to the song "Take Me To Church" going viral on the Internet last year. However, unlike so many artists/bands who suddenly find themselves with a hit on their hands, the man is no one hit wonder as the 'Hozier' debut full-length amply proves. The 13-track album was released globally this month (an edition with two bonus tracks dropped in late July) and showcases Hozier's sublime vocals and outstanding guitar work.

His blues musician father exposed his son to American blues and soul music from an early age and the influence is of course obvious, but like his fellow Irish musical magician Van Morrison, Hozier has managed to create his own very personal sound that mixes Chicago-Delta Americana with the equally rich tradition of Irish music. It's a truly beautiful combo and one that will hopefully result in many more albums from this immensely gifted artist.

NOTE: His debut EP 'Take Me To Church' was released in 2013. The EP 'From Eden' followed earlier this year. The debut full-length 'Hozier' contains almost all of the tracks from the two EPs.

The stellar set at KCRW [the flagship public radio station in Santa Monica, California] and Morning Becomes Eclectic show host Jason Bentley's relaxed interview is well worth watching. Hozier proves that he can deliver the goods not just in recording studio, but also live, and it is thus safe to say that concert goers have much to look forward to this fall and winter.

The powerful video accompanying "Take Me To Church" that went viral in 2013 was created by the two-man Dublin based team of Feel Good Lost in close collaboration with the artist himself.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Mountain: Tame Yourself

In September of 2012 I blogged about L.A. project New Mountain and in October the same year did an interview with frontman Blake Runyon. This week Runyon dropped the six-track EP 'Dark Matters' which finds him collaborating with a different set of musicians than on the 2012 New Mountain debut full-length 'Under New Skies': among them are Annie Woodward, Alexa Melo and Christian James Hand; the latter also recorded, mixed and produced the new EP.

I chose to post Runyon's outstanding, downright funky track "Tame Yourself" because it shows a somewhat different musical facet of the very gifted singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist.  (NOTE: there is no video yet, but here's hoping there will be.)

For those of you in L.A.: you might catch him showcasing his songs on a Friday night at the weekly 'That Cool Music Thing' event at Full Circle at 305 Rose Avenue in Venice.

And for readers in NYC: on Saturday October 25 he will be playing bass with SiriusXM radio host Jason Ellis' rock/metal band Horse Force (not to be confused with the one-man dubstep project bearing the same name.)

If you missed the Q&A or the post on New Mountain two years ago:

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Agnes Obel: Fuel To Fire + Dorian

Born and raised in metropolitan Copenhagen but based in Berlin since 2006, singer-songwriter Agnes Obel dropped two editions of her second full-length 'Aventine' Oct. 1 and Oct. 6, respectively. The deluxe edition contains twenty-two tracks, including her haunting composition "Dorian" and a David Lynch remix of the beautiful song "Fuel to Fire"; here's hoping the director decides to feature her music on the newly announced nine-episode continuation of his Twin Peaks TV-series which will air on Showtime in early 2016.

Obel's current tour continues Sunday with a show in Berlin. Eleven North American dates are scheduled between October 30 and November 13. Finally, there will be three gigs in Australia November 25, 27 and 28.

The vintage black/white footage used to accompany the two album tracks suits them both to a tee: David Dean Burkhart edited "Fuel to Fire"; Obel's romantic and frequent creative partner Alex Bruel Flagtad edited "Dorian".


Monday, October 6, 2014

Röyksopp: Monument (Featuring Robyn)

Svein Berge and Thorbjørn Brundtland aka Röyksopp will continue to make music, but the aptly titled full-length 'The Inevitable End' (to be released November 10) will be the Norwegian duo's final album. Fortunately for their many fans, they went all out for their fifth and final big party, inviting Robyn, Susanne Sundfør, Jamie Irrepressible and Ryan James as musical guests on eleven out of seventeen tracks.

The masterpiece "Monument" is an utterly breathtaking creation, combining Robyn's stunning vocals with Berge's/Brundtland's sublime electronica, creating a soundscape simultaneously otherworldly and of this world.      

NOTE: "Monument" was included on 'Do It Again', the five-track Röyksopp & Robyn EP, released in May. (The EP title track will also be on 'The Inevitable End' album)          

The gorgeous, hypnotic clip accompanying the track was done by Swedish commerical/music video director Max Vitali.

Röyksopp will be performing at the Southbound Festival in Australia January 3-4, 2015. Also on the bill: Robyn, The Temper Trap, alt-J, Cold War Kids, and many more.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Troye Sivan: Happy Little Pill

Born in South Africa, but raised in Perth, Australia, 19-year-old singer/actor Troye Sivan released EPs on his own in 2007 ('Dare to Dream') and 2012 ('June Haverly') before signing to EMI Australia last year.

The major label debut EP 'TRXYE' dropped last month. On the stellar first single "Happy Little Pill" Sivan's gorgeous vocals provide the song with a strong mix of melancholia and a dreamy floating-on-a-cloud vibe.

He is currently working on his debut full-length.

The excellent video was directed by his fellow Australian, Melbourne based film maker/musican/graphic artist Jeremy Koren of Grey Ghost.  (director)

Friday, September 26, 2014

alt-J: Hunger Of The Pine

UK band alt-J dropped their second full-length 'This Is All Yours' this week. Like Interpol, they have gone from being a quartet to being a trio in between albums and are also currently on an extensive fall/winter tour: coming up next is a show in Dublin on Saturday.

NOTE: Songkick seems to have the most up to tour info, whereas the band's Facebook page is missing several concert dates.

The video for the track "Hunger of the Pine", based on a story concept by guitarist/lead vocalist Joe Newman, was shot by acclaimed Los Angeles based director/film maker/photographer Nabil Elderkin who has done stellar work for artists/bands such as Frank Ocean, Kanye West, Bon Iver, Little Dragon, Lana del Rey, FKA Twigs and many more.

The intense clip features superb cinematography and an outstanding physical performance by Ashley Holland, a pro practitioner of the holistic training discipline known as parkour founded by David Belle (born 1973) in Lisses in suburban Paris in the mid-1980s, based on his French-Vietnamese father Raymond Belle's training methods.

I highly recommend watching the excellent interview with David Belle, recently conducted in Lausanne, Switzerland by Ashley Holland's fellow parkour/free running team member Tim Shieff of London based Storm Freerun.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Interpol: Twice As Hard

A trio since completing their fourth self-titled album in 2010, New York band Interpol released a new collection of songs with the anagram title 'El Pintor' this month; the album features a guest appearance by Rob Moose of Bon Iver among others.

Their latest video was shot at a NY boxing gym by front man Paul Banks with the help of Director of Photography Carlos Veron. It's a very good example of how relatively mundane, no frills footage can be made near poetic with the right music, in this case the superb track "Twice as Hard", arguably one of the band's finest to date.

Several dates on the current extensive North America/Europe fall and winter tour have already sold out, including one of two shows at the Fox Theater in Pomona, CA this week. The string of gigs will end in Dublin February 10-12 with three shows, two of which have sold out.