"What appeals to me is the potency in the image -- the object itself, or the mysterious atmosphere it holds. A truly beautiful image has the power open up this whole inner world; it's like a visual "key" that unlocks and fires up your imagination."...

Woman's Hour - Conversations LP
Listeners first encounter Conversations, the debut record by United Kingdom musicians Woman's Hour, through striking monochrome visual imagery. Black and white can be seen in everything from their album artwork and press photos to their music videos, serving not only to unify the band's music, but to incorporate their underlying interests and philosophies as well. Responsible for their visual branding is Frank and Jane, a collaboration between Woman's Hour frontwoman Fiona Jane Burgess and artist Oliver Chanarin. This article features a Q&A with Burgess and all-encompassing look at the visual collateral connected to the record, to demonstrate how the experience Woman's Hour is crafting is truly an interdisciplinary and thoughtful one.
Woman's Hour - Conversations Music Video

 

Jeffertitti's Nile - No One Music Video Jeffertitti's Nile - No One Music Video
There's much that is stereotypically psychedelic about director Johnny Maroney's music video for "No One by Jeffertitti's Nile, but as with the band itself, there's much more than meets the eye. As the music video explodes from its geometric black and white beginnings into more colorful chaotic realms, every triangular prism that first catches a viewer's attention becomes supplemented by increasingly more fascinating subleties. Amidst the swirling chaos, a shamanic figure symbolically sends frontman Jeff Ramuno to his death as he levitates -- and when the madness breaks into blue-skied clarity, former band member Alyson Kennon's shadow turns from her own into that of a ballerina, recalling Disney's Salvador Dali-inspired animation, Destino. In the compare and contrast Q&A session below, director Johnny Maroney and frontman Jeff Ramuno discuss how life is surrealism, the ways in which existence flows in and out of itself eternally, and their history of psychic collaboration. They're so artistically close they even swap spit on the physical plane.Jeffertitti's Nile - No One Music VideoJeffertitti's Nile - No One Music Video

Sunbathing Animal, for everyone who went mental over Light Up Gold: it doesn't cohere as well as its predecessor, in which all the songs flowed naturally and felt of a piece. Parquet Courts have been touring endlessly, and Sunbathing Animal often gives off the feel that the band has made songwriting less of a priority, and/or they had more than a few also-rans from the Light Up Gold sessions. Their 2013 EP, Tally All the Things That You Broke, was a mixed bag as well, but it had two of the most memorable songs of their career: "You've Got Me Wonderin' Now" and "The More It Works." If they'd been patient and held off until Sunbathing Animal's release to show those tracks the light of day, we might have a stronger album. The rave-up songs, seemingly inspired by the punk energy of their live shows, don't have as much personality as Light Up Gold, and hearken back to the lack of definition on their debut LP, American Specialties. Of the fast songs, "Vienna II" shows the most promise, taut and swaggering like Pink Flag-era Wire. It's also only a blink-and-you'll-miss-it length, at 1:02. Similarly, the instrumental "Up All Night" posits an alternate-universe Parquet Courts that grew up on Love Tractor and mid-period Feelies instead of early Pavement and 1970s downtown touchstones.

Folklorists like to romanticize blues music as being a pure expression of culture, but recorded blues music was carefully marketed to its intended audience from its very beginning. As early as the 1920s, music aimed at African-Americans was labeled as "race music", and the best way to advertise it was in the pages of African-American newspapers. These newspapers had a wide circulation among urban African-Americans and even in parts of the South, where they were treated as contraband and discretely shared. While living in Arkansas, the singer Big Bill Broonzy recalled furtively reading the most famous of these newspapers, The Chicago Defender, and he made the move to Chicago in part because of what he had learned in the newspaper. Broonzy said that Black readers of the Defender were seen as brave, as it was a newspaper that promoted Black migration to the North, criticized racism in the South, and pushed for social change.1

Dub Thompson - No Time Music Video Dub Thompson - No Time Music Video
Drawing obvious inspiration from timelessness and less obvious inspiration from Aleister Crowley's Thoth tarot deck, director Vinyl Williams takes Dub Thompson's "No Time" and turns it into a multi-level philosophical exercise. Williams explores the slippery nature of existence by using both HD and analog techniques, which ebb, flow, and spin within a mad cycle, in such a way where beginnings and ends are indiscernable from one another. Timelessness, indeed. Read on as he speaks to his process and collaborating with the band.
Dub Thompson - No Time Music Video Dub Thompson - No Time Music Video

Orcas - Yearling Album Review
Yearling, the second album from Orcas -- the collaboration of Thomas Meluch, better known as Benoît Pioulard, and Rafael Anton Irissari, who also makes graceful ambient shoegaze under the name The Sight Below -- seems very intent on a time and a place. In this case, a summer in Germany, where most of these songs were written. To shift between subject and setting, Yearling switches between ambient drift and yearning ambient pop, with plaintive vocals courtesy of Pioulard. This can be seen most evidently in the one-two punch of album openers "Petrichor" and "Infinite Stillness", the former being a glowing nimbus of field recordings and swelling organs that sound like the backlit tree on the album cover, and "Infinite Stillness" being a piece of epic now wave splendour, with solid, stately drum machines and a plodding bassline and the first appearance of Pioulard's angelic vocals, that brings to mind the best era of The Cure. With a couple exceptions, this more song-oriented approach is a new feature of Orcas', whose self-titled debut was more focused on improvisation and ambiance. Most of Yearling was already written in the summer of 2012, and having a backbone to work off allows the music to be both loose and organic while still being tight, controlled, and ultimately, more human and more personal than any of the participants' solo careers.

Here is a quick summary of GOAT, and the story is meant to be taken with as many grains of salt as possible. GOAT originally hail from Korpilombo, Sweden, from a community that has a history of voodoo worship. At various times, the incarnation of GOAT has lived on for 30 or 40 years amongst members of this village, and now, the current incarnation of GOAT contains three members from Korpilombo, augmented by a few folks from Gothenburg. All bands need good stories, and GOAT’s is one of the better ones. A quick Google search of Korpilombo and voodoo yields nothing but GOAT-related results. Combine this wonky backstory with the fact that live, the members of GOAT all wear cloaks and masks and operate in a shroud of mystery, and it is enough to be almost too much of a schtick. But what makes the tradition of GOAT work is that the band doesn’t let this aura undermine the music.

On their newest LP, Electric Balloon, New York's Ava Luna offer a solid rock and R&B framework infused with the pulse of experimental music. The result is something they call "nervous soul" -- experimental rock that is as texturally interesting as it is emotionally invigorating. As soon as Electric Balloon begins, its simple grouping of rock instruments offers a cool, open, and vintage-inspired sound. With heavy power chords, musical interlude-tracing guitar licks, funky bass lines that make you want to dance, and a percussion section featuring everything from cymbals and tambourines to maracas and woodblocks, Ava Luna tap into many of the classic and modern rock instrumental mainstays that would be right at home on a Black Keys album and which (at least for me) cannot fail to please. Add to this awesome, soulful, R&B-reminiscent vocals by Carlos Hernandez and light, edgy female vocals that dart in and out of the album's gritty backing instrumentation, and you've already got a soundscape that is engaging all on its own.

Linda Perhacs - The Soul of All Natural Things
I spent a long time thinking about how to write this album review of Linda Perhacs' new album, The Soul of All Natural Things, the follow-up to Perhacs' 1970 album Paralellograms and her first new record in 44 years. Paralellograms is a cult classic, and cult classics capture the imagination in part because they stand alone. After approaching the new album warily, I am relieved to say that my image of Perhacs is still intact. Perhacs has slowly reemerged in the music scene as of late, due in part to fans such as Devendra Banhart and Chris Price, and has been working with a number of contemporary collaborators, including Julia Holter, Ramona Gonzalez of Nite Jewel, and Fernando Perdomo. Ramona Gonzalez's voice sounds great next to Perhacs's and accounts for the hymnal quality of some of these songs, particularly on "River of God", and I suspect that Julia Holter brought the electronic noise into this album as well.