Music video

Norwegian female trio, I See Rivers, releases latest single: “DA RAM”

Th gals, Eline Brun, Gøril Nilsen, and Lill Scheie, call their newfound genre, ‘float pop.’ You’ll understand it when you hear it. Genre appropriately named, their newes single, “DA RAM”, is loaded with fantastic harmonies and glittering instrumentals that most certainly give their music a ‘floating’ sound. The video is a piece of eye candy, similary equipped with glitter, bounce, and an overwhelming sense of peace at it’s end. Check it out:

 

 

I See Rivers is releasing their first EP, Standing Barefoot, next month (April), keep your ears peeled and in the mean time follow them on Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Album Review: “Rock and Roll Bye Bye” by SKATERS

As a listener, you don’t really know what to expect when the opening track begins. It’s soft, simple, echoes in the back of your mind. Then it explodes, and blasts full speed ahead. You know you’re in for a wild ride on SKATERS’ sophomore full length, Rock and Roll Bye Bye. The trio is based in NYC and recently parted ways with Warner Brothers record label to take full control of their musical product. The new LP which is due out March 24th is going to be released on the band’s own label, Yonks Records.

 The opening cut, “Just Like Your Mother”, bleeds into the hippy dippy psych-rock track, “Northern Soul.” The track rides like a smooth wave, swaying the listener back and forth, eyes closed. But, at the same time it maintains a raw quality, a bit of an edge, gritty guitar and sandy vocals, smoothed over by psychedelic strings and fading out hand claps at the end.

“Head on to Nowhere” has a bit more of a grunge feel and retro rock tune, “Song 19 (Revisited)” is short and sweet, highlighting the true diversity in sound on Rock and Roll Bye Bye. Slower tracks like “Restless Babe” and “I’m Not a Punk” offer clever lyricism to make up for the lack in speed. “I’m Not a Punk” is a sweet little ballad where the band pleads, “Come on man, I’m not a punk! I’m a punk rocker,” as these two characters really are different.

My personal favorite on the album is “Respect the Hustle.” The track has a lighthearted darkness (yes this is possible) to it, and pushes the bands focus to a more electronic feel. They sing:

 

New York, New York, New York, New York

Is the city of dreams.

Some come from far and wide to see what that means.

It’ll take your heart out just to see how you bleed.

New York, New York, New York,

It’s a heartbreak machine.

 

Deep, gravely vocals, sliding electronic beeps and boops, and interesting chord progressions make the track a unique listen.

The record rounds out with the penultimate title track, perhaps paying homage to the infamous chamber choir vocals of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones and finishes with the single, “In Your Head.” The accompanying music video follows a young teenage girl who wanders through a rainy town, dancing, kicking and stomping in frustration but at moments expressing pure bliss and resolution. The video captures the complicated innerworkings of the human mind:

 

 

 

The LP leaves you feeling satisfied and refreshed, not bored or exhausted from listening to the same genre for 12 tracks. The full spectrum of rock-related genres is visited and at the start of each track, you don’t really know what you’re in for. Give SKATERS’ upcoming LP a chance because, they’re not punks! They’re punk rockers! Rock and Roll Bye Bye is due out March 24th on Yonks Records and you can pre-order on iTunes now.

Interview: Trapdoor Social

Trapdoor Social found its way into my inbox via their powerful music video for the track, “Never Stop Listening”, featuring incredible footage from Standing Rock. Before I go on, check it out:

 

 

I was stunned when I read their bio. This has to be one of the most community-oriented, generous group of fellows who also make music, that I’ve heard of! They’re always seeking out opportunities to give back to their community, to music and other groups that need support. I asked the band about their music, generous endeavors and their stunning footage from Standing Rock. The band is Merritt Graves, Skylar Funk, Louie Gonzalez, Patrick Griffen and Ben Ebert. Skylar Funk represents the band and their answers below:

 

MFL: The philanthropic nature of your band is incredible. How do you find time to support so many environmental, and other, causes while also maintaining a healthy touring and songwriting schedule?

Skylar Funk of Trapdoor Social (SF): Thank you. We try to leverage our existing endeavors – for example, pre-selling the Science Of Love EP to fundraise for Homeboy Industries, or using festival revenue from Sunstock to help Kids Cancer Connection. There can be a lot of energy generated in the entertainment world… if we can use some of that to affect change, we can do it sustainably and still take care of ourselves.

 

MFL: Tell me the story of how you ended up at Standing Rock. Who from TDS was there to represent the band?

SF: The struggle at Standing Rock got our attention in the fall and especially after the election, feeling the need for direct action, we decided to go for the first week of December, when the Army Corps first threatened to remove protesters. Patrick, Louie and I went, along with a handful of other friends. We took the TDS tour rig with the solar trailer to charge devices for people and otherwise support the camp with our electricity.

 

MFL: What were the steps you took after visiting Standing Rock to create the stunning video for “Never Stop Listening” and why was this song fitting for the footage?

SF: Mexican filmmaker Alexandra Velasco was one of our crew, and upon arrival she applied for a press pass to shoot this project. She explored the camp, striking up conversations, helping with chores, and asking permission to take video portraits. I think you can feel the warmth of her connections in those portraits, and her scenery work is beautiful as well.

The song is about fighting for what you believe in, even when it hurts. It’s inspired by the burnout sensation you get when there’s so much bad news… As an environmentalist, personally, I’ve found it crushing at times to take in what’s happening to the world around me (especially since last November…) but I believe that we must stay engaged, informed, on the front lines.

I don’t think I need to explain much more… it felt like an obvious fit when we were planning the trip north and didn’t have a video yet for NSL.

 

MFL: What did you learn from your time at Standing Rock as musicians and as humans?

SF: It was incredible to learn more about native american culture and follow their leadership. There were plenty of other people there to help – folks who had dropped what they were doing to come from all over the world to help as well… Fantastic, generous, super interesting people everywhere.

Really the only kind of music in the camp was indigenous. There was a PA by the sacred fire where folks spoke and sang from the crack of dawn until late every night. We heard some beautiful vocals and flutes… definitely a kind of music I didn’t have much exposure to before.

 

MFL: How did TDS go from being a duo to a 5-piece and what has that transition been like?

SF: We have grown and changed shape since Merritt and I started the band in 2011. Mostly a process of changing members for better compatibility of vision and more belief in what we’re doing. I mean, what are the chances you have all the right guys from the very beginning? Growing can be painful but as a result everything gets better and better.

 

MFL: If possible, tell me how each of you found yourself living the life of a musician and reflect on one of your first memories of music.

SF: It was fun hearing from the guys on this.

Patrick talked about his first band in 8th grade being “horrible” and playing for an audience that was “either laughing or looking appalled at what they were enduring”… yet he had the time of his life, and knew in that moment he wanted to do it forever. He says music “is how I make sense of the world and how I deal with pain.”

Louie said “As a child, every time I found myself playing some sort of musical instrument, I found a certain peace within myself that I couldn’t find with any other thing. As I grew older and took playing music more seriously I knew it was something that I had to do for a living.”

For me, it was always a hobby – musical theater, jazz and marching band, a cappella and a funk jam band in college, songwriting here and there – until after college. I started working desk jobs with my degree, but I was watching some friends get into the LA music scene professionally and decided to go for it myself.

 

MFL: Are there any musicians out there today that inspire the sound and/or style of TDS?

SF: Death Cab For Cutie has long been an influence of Merritt and mine, and in fact their drummer Jason McGerr recorded drums on our first couple EPs… such an honor. Other influences include Muse, Radiohead, Tame Impala, alt-J, etc., etc.

 

MFL: Discuss a couple highlights of your current tour and name a couple destinations your looking forward to.

SF: We played the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, one of our long-time favorite venues anywhere, on the booker’s birthday. We had a great time with him and a beautiful crowd. We also had extremely warm welcomes to our first shows in Chattanooga and Knoxville… so Tennessee is definitely a new high-priority stop on future tours. We’re really looking forward to a solar festival in Gainesville, FL, and a run up through the Pacific Northwest (my homeland) later this spring.

 

MFL: SXSW! Have you ever been? If so, how was your experience? If not, what are you anticipating most about this venue?

SF: Yeah, Merritt and I played it a few years ago when there wasn’t really much of a core band beside the two of us. It was pretty crazy… a million shows going on at once. Looking forward to being there but not 100% what to expect – we’ll set up the solar stage if we get a chance. Either way it’s an awesome town and I’m sure we’ll have a great time.

 

MFL: Finally, once your tour is up in March, what’s next?

SF: Touring off and on all spring, probably through the summer too. See, we really want to get back to LA for a while to get started on another album, but that’s when the weather gets really good for solar shows… So I imagine we’ll be on the road a lot this year.

 

Thank you to Jessica Mora for connecting me with the band and for Skylar for answering my questions and gathering the band to answer some of my questions as well. You can catch the band touring this month:

March 7th, Charleston, SC, The Royal American
March 8th, Awendaw, SC, Barn Jam
March 11th, St. Augustine, FL, Genungs Fish Camp
March 14th, Austin, TX, SXSW
March 15th, Austin, TX, SXSW
March 16th, Austin, TX, SXSW
March 17th, Austin, TX, SXSW
March 18th, Austin, TX, SXSW
March 19th, Huston, TX, Super Happy Funland
March 20th, Dallas, TX, The Door
March 22nd, Wichita, KS, Mead’s Corner
March 23rd, Omaha, NE, Down Under Lounge
March 24th, Iowa City, IA, Yacht Club
March 25th, Chicago, IL, Moe’s Tavern
March 27th, Milwaukee, WI, Cactus Club

March 29th, Minneapolis, MN, Nomad World Pub

 

 

Interview: Husband and wife pop duo, New Portals

Ruth and Mike Aicken met at a concert when they were teenagers and their common passion for music has stitched them together for life. Both grew up playing folk music so their instinct was to write folk music which manifested as The Jepettos. To challenge themselves, the duo took on the electro/pop world and brought to life the project, New Portals. Check out their recent music video/single, “Stereo”, and read below to get the full interview with Ruth Aicken.
MFL: How have you two been able to balance writing, recording and performing music while also raising two children? Incredible!
Ruth Aicken of New Portals (RA) : Hey there, Ruth here – thanks for having me! Writing songs was always part of our lifestyle. We have gone through periods of writing lots and then periods of taking months off but for the most part we have always been writing amidst the background of everyday life; it’s just who we’ve grown into- individually and as a partnership. Now that our kids are older 11yrs & 9 we are able to do music at a pace we that we weren’t really able to before and we have made life choices recently to do music at this faster pace. We are loving it.  
 
MFL: What do your kids think of your music and are they showing interest in music or music-related activities? 
RA: Our eldest girl is really keen and anything ‘performance art’ comes really naturally to her. She comes up with some really great tunes and I call upon her when I’m stuck for ideas.  Excitingly, we have a first cowrite with Freiah-Beth coming at some point soon… Our youngest is bombarded with music 24/7 and for now at least, she has rebelled against it! 
 
MFL: What decade of music inspires you two the most?
RA: I’m honestly really inspired by this wave of indie electronica- so from 2015- present day. Also 90’s R&B  the fast and snappy vocal melodies always blew my mind.
 
MFL: How did you two meet and how was music part of your relationship?
RA: Unsurprisingly we met at a gig when we were teens. Singing was a massive part of my life. He whipped out the guitar on the 1st date. I remember being really impressed. We’ve pretty much inhaled music together from that point on.
 
MFL: The Stereo EP release is just around the corner! Any finishing touches that need to be addressed?
RA: We are just finalising the artwork but we are happy to share the finished tracks with you very soon!
 
MFL: Is the project, The Jepettos, still alive or has New Portals taken over? What is different between the two?
RA: Oh The Jepettos project still very much alive. I just wish there were more hours in the day so we can work on them both. We do keep releasing material as The Jepettos, so go check it out on Spotify if you haven’t already! Most of our time is spent on New Portals currently because we felt we needed a change and had been doing Alt Folk for a few years.  We grew up playing folk and it’s in our bloodstream so felt we needed another challenge. We had to learn new instruments and rejig our songwriting style a little for New Portals. But we believe that if a song is any good it will have legs if it is performed in any genre.
 
MFL: Where do you two draw inspiration for writing material?
RA: Interesting.. we love to write with a theme. So GrooveBoy is about a  cheating partner and the innocent party catching on that the cheating party is behaving differently, overcompensating and making more of an effort in the relationship and that’s how the affair is revealed. Yea, even though our songs are chirpy they mostly have a pretty dark edge. ‘Cage’ is about Human Trafficking. ‘Sunshine’ is about dissatisfaction with a ‘normal’ life, and a jealousy over people who have given up on their childhood dream and moved on to just enjoying what they have in front of them. ‘Fill me up’ is about addiction,  ‘Move so Slow’ is about how difficult this music industry is and how slowly things lumber on- waiting for labels to scrutinise our work, waiting for music videos to be edited, waiting for mixes to come in, waiting for release dates – one line in the song is ‘these things move so slow, it’s hard not to lose control’.  ‘Stay here tonight’ is about chemotherapy!  Ha! we are pretty dark writers but try not to be too literal with our themes. We balanced out that last one by getting two comedians to perform the music video.
 
MFL: Is a tour in the works for Stereo? Along those lines, what are some of your favorite places to play both local and non-local?
NP: We are heading to SXSW next month and I’m sure we will work on a plan for a tour ASAP but for now we are working on SXSW and summer festivals. We did a SOFAR sounds tour in NYC in November which we totally adored! We played in Madrid last year too. The Spanish have great taste and I’d definitely love to tour Spain ASAP- we just need an agent out there and we can make it happen. According to Spotify, our biggest fanbase is in Manhattan, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Brooklyn – for New Portals and The Jepettos – so we need to figure out how to get a tour organised over there too.
Thank you to Theresa Montgomery of 24West for setting this up and Ruth for taking the time to answer my questions! Follow New Portals and The Jepettos on Facebook and don’t forget to look for their new EP, Stereo, this March 10th.

New music video from duo, LACEI: “Sufferer”

A few months back, I got to talk music with Jessica Lombardozzi and Viktor Ahlgren the duo better known as, LACEI. The two met in a music business class during college and hit it off musically and now have released their first EP, 11:11, which you can find on iTunes now. Recently, they showcased another level of their artistic capabilities by releasing their debut music video for their track, “Sufferer.” LACEI together with video director, Andrew Choi, created a colorful and honest visual representation of the song, and the meaning behind it. About the song, vocalist Jessica Lombardozzi says:

“The song came from the idea that when you’re hurt or feel guilty about something, you make yourself suffer intentionally as a means of punishment and coping.”

LACEI and Choi  focused on utilizing wild visuals and colors overlayed on the two of them in their element (playing music) and interpretive dance. Check it out:

 

 

Follow LACEI on Facebook and Soundcloud.

YouTube Playlist: Sites and Sounds of 2017

I’ll be honest, the first video on this playlist (“Man’s Man” by SWIMM….whom I’ve covered extensively on MFL and is playing in Provo, UT February 18th if you’re near) is from 2016…but everything else is fresh 2017 goodness!

 

Colorful video from Secret Company: “Alive”

Secret Company is a dynamic pop foursome originally from Chelmsford. The group is set to release their debut record, The World Lit Up and Filled With Colour, March 10th of this year. In advance of their record release, they’ve shared a gorgeous single and video titled, “Alive”, filled with heart thumping drums, soaring vocals and a colorful video to match.

 

 

Follow the group on Facebook and pre-order their debut record on iTunes now.