Combining elements of Bjork and Massive Attack, the artist known as Hezen has created something magical and haunting with her latest track “Oil Fire” whose video recalls elements of Bjork’s “All is Full of Love”. Shot on an iPhone if you can believe it (I still can’t!) the video presents some unforgettable images that work well with her haunting vocals. Check it out, below.
Beloved band also playing the Noise Pop festival this week in SF.
San Francisco popsters 20 Minute Loop celebrate 20 years as a band this week with their first new album in eight years. Feb. 24 brings the release of Songs Praising the Mutant Race, and we are honored to premiere a delightfully twisted video for the track “Mercury Vapor” for the ever-erudite BLURT readership. Check it out:
“The video for ‘Mercury Vapor’ was a fun project that I put together using found royalty-free footage from a fire safety video from the early 70s,” says Atkins. “It was fun to imagine the fire in the video as a petulant child singing ‘I don’t care if I die, if I wind up dead!’, one of the lyrics in the song’s chorus.”
The band appears this week—tomorrow, in fact, Feb. 21—at hometown music fest Noise Pop and will no doubt be showcasing a ton of new material (eight years is a long time) from the album, their sixth. But it may sound uniquely familiar at the same time: the album offers up stripped down and reinvented versions of ten favorites from the 20 Minute Loop catalog, one cover song, and one never-before-released tune.
The group was formed in 1997 by Greg Giles (vocals, guitar) and Kelly Atkins (vocals, keys, flute). Fans may have thought they’d gone away for good in recent years, something the band attributes to “impossible scheduling, newborn children, and brain-rotting graduate studies.” (We can identify with all of the above, indeed.)
Inspired by the reactions of longtime fans at a series of intimate house concerts that 20 Minute Loop performed upon initially reforming in 2014, Songs Praising The Mutant Race finds the group recording as a trio in very similar circumstances: live in the room at Ninth Street Opus studios in Berkeley. Here we have the songs and singers laid bare, accompanied by overdubs from mostly acoustic instruments, including viola, trumpet, flute, accordion, wineglass organ, and more. And its one of those longtime fans who has become a co-conspirator: Kevin Seal – “I like Radiohead more than 20 Minute Loop, and that’s basically it,” he jokes – sat in on piano and vocals for the living room shows, and has now joined in on the reinvention of these tunes in the studio. They also brought in Caitlin Tabancay Austin for a third harmony on “Mercury Vapor.”
“I don’t know why this song has a country hop to it,” Giles says, of the reimagined tune, “but let’s just say 20 Minute Loop has always enjoyed mixing jubilant music with lyrical fatalism. I guess we’re syncopating tones, sweet and sour, joy and loneliness, truck axles and eiderdown.”
Incidentally, all us vinyl-loving BLURT folks will be stoked to learn that Songs Praising The Mutant Race to be its first album issued on vinyl, and they are doing it with style. In addition to the usual formats, fans can purchase a beautiful vinyl edition of the album with a jacket illustrated by Sara Lautman.
More details online (hint: don’t go to 20minuteloop.com unless you are needing financial advice – instead, go here): http://www.20minloop.com/
Songwriters’ songwriter joined by a cast bursting at the seams with talent.
By Blurt Staff
The hugely respected songwriter Bill Scorzari is about to release his sophomore album Through These Waves, on March 10th. Produced by Jonah Tolchin (Yep Roc) and engineered, mixed, and mastered by Billy Bennett, the album of all original material was recorded over twelve days at the famed Bomb Shelter in East Nashville through the studio’s 1970’s MCI console and mixed to tape. In a recent interview with No Depression, Tolchin calls Bill Scorzari, “one of the greatest songwriters I’ve ever heard.”
The album features other notable musicians including Joachim Cooder (drums, percussion), Laur Joamets (electric guitar, slide guitar), Chris Scruggs (steel guitar), Will Kimbrough (mandolin, piano), Eamon McLoughlin (fiddle, viola, cello), Jon Estes (upright bass, guitar, organ), Kim Richey (vocals), Brent Burke (Dobro) and more. “The experience was surreal… transformative… unifying… effortless… and profound. In fact, this record captures every magical moment in a journal of the sound, time, friendship and passion which we all created and now share,” Scorzari noted, in a statement. “I am forever grateful to Jonah, Billy B., and equally for everyone who participated in, and made this experience and recording possible and real.”
First new album in nearly eight years from the talented songbird.
By Blurt Staff
Here name is Leslie Mendelson, and her previous album, Swan Feathers, not only caught music critics’ attention, it captured the imagination of the music industry and the public at large, earning comparisons to Rickie Lee Jones and notching her a Grammy nomination. But a combination of business and personal factors temporarily derailed her career—among them, losing a record and management deal, followed by the passing of her producer Joel Dorn was producing her.
She has since fought her way back with a new record, Love & Murder, which drops April 14 via Royal Potato Family. The label notes that it “reflects both the darkness and light she encountered in the ensuing eight years.” Produced by Mark Howard and co-written by Steve McEwen (whose writing credits run from James Blake to Roger Daltrey), it also includes covers of Bob Dylan, Jimmy Newman and Roy Orbison (the latter’s “Blue Bayou” was done as a duet with none other than Bob Weir, who had heard her do the Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” and was duly smitten).
“This collection is just about the songs and my voice,” she noted, in a statement. “That’s what people can connect with. It shows where I am right now as an artist and where I want to go.”
You can check out an acoustic performance of the song “Jericho” below. Meanwhile, keep track of her at her official website. (Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews)
Frank Zappa would be proud of this multitasking musician—who also has new album from one of his other projects.
By Blurt Staff
“Some old buggers playing a stinky club on Cape Cod”: that would be Boston area rocker (and Incredible Casuals legend) Chandler Travis and his band The Catbirds. They belie that “old” tag, however, with a powerhouse style of punk/garage/indie that’s equal parts Crazy Horse and Husker Du. These beer swillers know of what they rawk, as anyone who’s ever seen ‘em live (or glommed onto the numerous videos, both live and staged, that can be found at the Chandler Travis website).
The latest one is “I Want It,” filmed by Cave Cod Wave magazine at the Wellfleet Beachcomber on Aug 12, 2016, so check it out:
In other Travis news, his “big band,” fittingly called the Chandler Travis Philharmonic, released Waving Kissyhead, Vol. 2 & 1 on February 10th via the musician’s own Iddy Biddy label. It’s described as “full of Travis’ trademark homespun quirky pop work that places him squarely in the company of folks like mid-period Kinks, XTC and Smiley Smile-era Brian Wilson.” It’s the band’s first full-length since Blows and was mostly recorded by Ducky Carlisle at Dimension in Jamaica Plain.
The band is also marking its silver twentieth anniversary with the album release. Notes Travis, “I’m borderline proud of the fact that many bands with our commercial potential would’ve given up years ago, but not us!”
Back to fist city: Group has a highly anticipated new album set for release this month.
By Jonathan Levitt
Beijing-based alternative rock band Twinkle Star, whom we at BLURT covered last year in a special interview with the band, are set to release their latest record entitled Full Of Hope on the 23rd of this month.
Until then, the band have kindly offered us the exclusive premiere of their two new videos “Wasting Life Together” and “Release Yourself” – the latter was shot in Hong Kong. Check them out, below.
The band will be touring outside Beijing and will then return to killer rock venue, Yugong Yishan, for a homecoming concert set for May 6th. Rumor has it Uncle Blurt might make it out here for the show, if he can find his dentures and Depends, cuz that flight is a killer. [Jonathan, I can barely hold it in during my daily cross-city bus ride to Biff’s Pub & Grille —don’t even ask about the return trip— so I doubt the airline will let me have a carry-on large enough to pack all that soft, absorbent goodness. Maybe you could videotape part of the show for me and the gang? – U.B.]
Just in case you don’t recognize the name Derrick Anderson, consider where you might have actually seen him: playing bass for the Bangles starting in 2008, and more recently with the Kinks’ Dave Davies. (Or maybe even earlier on the L.A. club scene circa 1995-2004 with The Andersons.) The virtuoso musician is now prepping a solo album, A World of My Own for an April 1 release via Omnivore, and we are quite chuffed to be able to unveil a video for the track “Happiness.” Check it out:
If you listened closely, you might have spotted some guitar licks from none of than Matthew Sweet. Meanwhile, also guesting on this gorgeous collection of pop and rock gems are Vicki Peterson, Debbi Peterson and Susanna Hoffs, as well as Kim Shattuck and a Cowsills trio of Bob, John and Susan Cowsill.
Commenting on the album sessions, Anderson notes, “I have to say, it’s a beautiful thing to have such talented friends orbiting in my musical universe that I could call on once I started making this album. It was a long time coming, waiting for folks to ‘turn in their homework’ as it were, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Vicki Peterson(Bangles) listened to the record in its entirety and called it ‘timeless’ which was such a fantastic compliment, especially coming from her!”
Go HERE to view the official album trailer from Omnivore. Find Anderson on the web at his Facebook page.
Not exactly a distaff Metallica axe-wielder with a Flying V, either…
Everybody loving that new Riverdale yet? Yeah, me neither. And this clip from the CW’s take on Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, Moose (where the fuck is Moose?), et al, isn’t exactly going to make you rush out to buy the inevitable soundtrack CD either, particularly if you have long memories of the REAL (abeit, toon) Josie & the Pussycats. Not to mention the Archies, who should have sued (albeit, in toon court) Inner Circle (feat. Flo Rida) for that dumbass version of “Sugar Sugar” many moons ago. What’s next, Rihanna giving them advice on how to stuff their bras? Bleh. Incidentally, I take no responsibility for the Flying V photo above. Were there even any actual guitars being played in the clip? Girlfriend is playing the keys from what I can see….
L.A. rockers submit second full length in July but step up with limited vinyl single right now.
By Blurt Staff
You could call the BLURT braintrust massive fans of Adam Bones and Rikki Styxx,, aka Los Angeles duo The Two Tens—a couple of years ago we turned you, the gentle readers of this fine publication, on to their kickass video “Watching Me” (from the fourth installment of their 2015 EP series), then again in February of 2016 with the track “Dreams,” one of the key tunes from their debut longplayer Volume. Now, with The Two Tens prepping a July release of their as-yet-untitled sophomore album, they have a stopgap single dropping, and a vinyl one at that. The A side is “Keeping Hope Alive” (the flip is an ace cover of Little Richard’s “Bama Lama Bama Loo”) and you get to preview it right here, prior to the 45’s Feb. 10 street date. Adam and Rikki’s instincts for video treatments continue to serve them well, without a doubt. Check it out:
Rikki spills the beans on the clip, explaining, “We wanted the video to just be a representation of the ridiculous amount of fun we have as a band. Running around being complete nerds together. It was actually shot at The Federal Bar which was the venue where we played our very first show. Even though the song is a love song (which I’ll leave that to Adam to explain), we didn’t want to portray that in the video. The song is a bit different from the songs on the first album because it’s the poppiest of them all. We were fortunate enough to work with producer John Fields in Minneapolis and we decided to go with a little different production approach than we have in the past.”
Adam, indeed, explains further: “’Keeping Hope Alive’ is a song about a hopeful hopeless romantic. I think that’s what I am when it all comes down to it. It’s based on a personal experience. And it’s a positive love song, for a change. Recording it with John Fields was a great experience. I really liked his pace in the studio. It was fun to watch how fast he worked. It was interesting to see his process and I learned a lot.”
Seriously cool. If you ain’t hooked on these cats by this point, c’mon—unhook that respirator and get out once in awhile, or at least by July 14, because you need to be in line that day at your local indie store. The band signed with Man Della Records and they recorded in Minneapolis with producer John Fields (Dollyrots, Andrew WK, Pink), subsequently heading back home to Los Angeles and finishing the album with the Volume team of producer Bruce Duff (also their manager, and we are advised this is now “making him an Andrew Oldham-style control freak” which ain’t such a bad thing if you think about it), engineer Paul Roessler (punk demigod/L.A. studio maven) and mastering engineer Jim Diamond (Dirtbombs, Sonics, White Stripes, the entire garage rock universe, etc.).
Acclaimed contestant on the first season of “The Voice of Israel” in 2012 pays tribute to her late mother and preps for album later this year.
By Blurt Staff
Although Maytal Michaeli has already notched a notable profile for herself via “The Voice of Israel” and subsequent performances that have earned her comparisons to everyone from Joni Mitchell and Norah Jones to Leonard Cohen and Bon Iver, she’s earnestly bearing down on a new album for 2017. The project, which she calls, not so coincidentally, I Am Project, was, in her words, “born on a balcony in Tel Aviv. It started to build up as a concept, before the songs were even written. I was in that period of time before a romantic break up, when you know it’s the right thing to do, but it is still very difficult to actually make a move and leave. I have a tattoo on my neck- “I AM”. These are the initials of my parents’ names. I put it there ‘because they always watched my back and always saved my neck, and I really needed something to save my neck and get me out of that situation. Music has the ability to be my secret special key in and out of where I am. ”
There’s a sad twist, however: Michaeli’s mother passed away suddenly during the singer’s recording and album preparations; there was no opportunity for a formal goodbye. So she felt no choice but to work through the loss and craft a posthumous farewell with this video titled “Heart”:
Offers Michaeli, “’Heart’ is a song that was written about the passing of my mother. The last time I spent time with her was my 29th birthday, as a birthday present she gave me a hand-written notebook with all her recipes. On the first page she wrote a few personal words and signed: “With love, Mom.”- in Hebrew.
“I decided to get a tattoo of these words in her hand writing. The director of the video clip spent the whole day with me, documenting. This was a very emotional and very important experience for me. ‘Heart’ came straight from my heart, in a very difficult moment of grief. It is a sad song but it is also filled with love. You can feel that secure, loving, supportive place I had, and I still have it inside of me, even though she is not here anymore. Together, the video and the song, tell a story about the important aspects of life—loving, longing, missing, needing, having, cherishing and losing.”
There’s a rare beauty contained herein that we hope the BLURT readership will appreciate, and by all means share. Maytal, we hope to see you touring these shores on the near future!