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Chvrches @ College Street Music Hall (New Haven, CT) on December 2, 2021 [Photos & Show Review]

The house lights are on, and College Street Music Hall in New Haven, CT is alive and well for Chvrches’ highly anticipated return since the start of the pandemic. Jordyn Beschel delivers some darn dope coverage.

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The house lights are on, and College Street Music Hall in New Haven, CT is alive and well for Chvrches’ highly anticipated return since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Donna Missal had just finished her opening set, and the crowd was mingling about to prepare themselves for the headlining act. Though it went mostly unnoticed, an ominously melodic drone began to fill the air for several minutes. It was not until the fog started to pour from the sides of the stage that fans became aware that Chvrches was sending signs of their arrival.

Chvrches have always made slow, theatrical entrances that are met with bright, pulsating music, but this night was more of a gradual warning. Finally, the house lights went dark, and each member graced the stage and immediately kicked off with “He Said She Said,” one of the strongest songs off the latest full-length Screen Violence.

The current North American tour in support of the release of Screen Violence had been long awaited for fans, as this tour has been a milestone for Chvrches’ return to live music since the pandemic began. With so much time to make up for, the band did a great job of balancing showcasing new songs for the first time and bringing back hits from across their discography.

Fan favourites such as “Miracle,” “Bury It,” “Never Say Die,” and “Clearest Blue” and deep cuts like “Night Sky,” “Recover,” and “The Mother We Share” had fans new and old dancing and screaming every word (even with masks on, that’s dedication). Chvrches also performed some Screen Violence highlights such as “Good Girls,” “How Not to Drown,” “California,” and “Final Girl” that truly brought these songs to life.

Chvrches @ College Street Music Hall (New Haven, CT) on December 2, 2021

Vocalist Lauren Mayberry has always been easy to admire with her glittering stage makeup and flowy outfits, but Chvrches made great use of the pandemic by amping up their theatrics and shock factor for this tour. Never mind Mayberry’s multiple costume changes to match the vibe of each transition in their setlist, but the singer returned for the encore covered in (fake) blood for the melancholic “Asking for a Friend.”

Screen Violence has been exciting to watch develop over the pandemic as the band was very active on social media throughout its process. However, to see their cinematic theme in high definition on stage was mesmerizing as it is unlike anything they’ve done before. Though Chvrches have always put on a great and engaging show, this North American tour really proved their dedication to their craft and has shown what they’re capable of behind closed doors.

Chvrches is still on the road on our side of the globe until their final show on December 17th in Los Angeles, CA.

Dance/Electronic

Mieko Shimizu Premieres Music Video for “Unworldy” Single “My Tentacles”

Get stoked, cause radical multi-instrumentalist Mieko Shimizu premieres the video for the reworked single “My Tentacles.”

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Mieko Shimizu, photo by Ruta Zemmere
Mieko Shimizu, photo by Ruta Zemmere

Radical, nonconformist Japanese singer and multi-instrumentalist Mieko Shimizu recently re-released her offbeat, unworldly single “My Tentacles.”

The single is the offbeat, unworldly title track of Mikeo’s soon-to-be-released album. It is be-thronged by chimeric fusions, dysfunctional beats and startling mutations. The single is unaccompanied by an equally radical video created by diz_qo.

Speaking about the track, Mieko tells us:

“‘Emergence,’ the book by Steve Johnson, fascinated me; a colony of ants, a sprawling metropolis, and human brain cells, are all features of the unknown science of self-organisation. I wanted to cut down into society and sing a simple song about people as single cells.”

The multi-instrumentalist explains further:

“They interconnect with the multitude and conjure up a whole that is wiser together than we are individually. When my tentacles reach out and touch you, communicate with you then we become something else, something more than just an individual.”

For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Mieko has played at Sonar alongside Kraftwerk, as well as support for Goldfrapp and Massive Attack at their Melt Down Festival. She is currently an artist in residence for Wonky Plonky Electronk, an experimental, electronic live event which is touring the UK throughout 2024, the next show being on 28th March at The Cinema Room at All Is Joy in London.

Mieko has worked with an extensive range of artists, including Japan’s Mick Karn, Nitin Sawhney, Riz MC, David Cunningham, Robert Lippok and has also remixed the likes of Coldcut and Haruomi Hosono of Yellow Magic Orchestra.

For more information on diz_qo, check him out online here. To check out more of Mieko’s work or to pre-order the upcoming album, click here.

Mieko Shimizu ‘My Tentacles’ Album Artwork

Mieko Shimizu ‘My Tentacles’ Album Artwork

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Folk

Morning Bear Reveals Latest Single “A Simple Understanding”

John Runnels unveils the revival of his indie folk project, Morning Bear, with the release of new single, “A Simple Understanding”.

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Morning Bear

Denver raised and now Copenhagen based singer/songwriter John Runnels unveils the revival of his orchestral indie folk project, Morning Bear, with the release of a deeply personal and emotionally charged single, “A Simple Understanding.” Marking the band’s return after a six-year hiatus, Morning Bear’s latest offering provides an intimate glimpse into the mind of its creator, navigating through the profound challenges of loss, resilience, and self-discovery.

Characterised by highly dynamic compositions, Morning Bear’s music weaves together the calm and delicate stylings reminiscent of artists like Bon Iver and Jose Gonzalez, while embracing the complexity and depth akin to the Fleet Foxes and Sufjan Stevens. Featuring soaring vocals and unconventional arrangements, including cello, violin, piano, and more, Morning Bear crafts a textured landscape behind pop-influenced hooks.

The catalyst for Morning Bear’s resurgence lies in the transformative journey of band leader John Runnels, who, after facing a series of devastating events and losses, found solace and inspiration amid the chaos. The global pandemic, the loss of three close friends in separate tragedies, a severe injury, and battles with anxiety and depression marked a period of uncertainty for Runnels, but he emerged stronger and more resilient.

“A Simple Understanding”, a continuation of the first releases from Morning Bear after a long hiatus, showcases Runnels in an intimate and vulnerable performance, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. Released at the time of year where it is most difficult for mental health, John recorded this in a single, live take during a rainstorm in a small garage in a village outside of Andover, UK, and the song captures the raw emotion of Runnels’ struggles and experiences. The lyrics delve into themes of self-loathing and finding hope in the darkest moments of life.

He says “People are often their own worst critic. ‘A Simple Understanding’ speaks to the self-loathing you feel when you have hit rock bottom. How do we find something to hold onto when we’re in the darkest points of our lives?

Morning Bear invites audiences to join them, to embrace vulnerability and share the power of music to heal and connect. With echoes of early Bon Iver in its acoustic performance, ‘A Simple Understanding’ is a brutally honest and delicately executed piece of songwriting that is sure to resonate with listeners, John Runnels bears all in this captivating and emotionally charged offering that sticks.

Morning Bear "A Simple Understanding" single artwork

Morning Bear “A Simple Understanding” single artwork

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Album Review

Blind Channel – ‘Exit Emotions’ [Album Review]

While ‘Exit Emotions’ (Century Media Records) contains many of the tropes from the golden age of nu-metal, it still feels refreshing. Blind Channel continue to move from strength to strength.

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Blind Channel ‘Exit Emotions’ album artwork
Blind Channel ‘Exit Emotions’ album artwork

Cast your minds back to 2021; it was a dark time for humanity, with the entirety of the world still gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, countries going in and out of lockdowns, and the entertainment industry being brought to its knees. Yet, in the midst of all of this, mankind fought on, with some events managing to take place. One of these was Eurovision, which has delivered, over the years, some incredible winners and given lesser-known artists global recognition. 2021 saw Måneskin take the crown, but on their heels was Finland’s own Blind Channel in sixth place with their song “Dark Side.”

The Finnish nu-metalers already had a handful of records to their name but it was Lifestyles of the Sick and Dangerous that contained their aforementioned Eurovision entry and made the world really sit up and take notice. With its mix of metal, hip-hop, synth and a touch of glam, it was a breath of fresh air from the European region better known for its output of, let’s say, the (much) heavier side of metal.

With Exit Emotions, Blind Channel now have their eyes focused on bigger things. Whilst they have broken through to the mainstream beyond their borders, it’s not enough for the six-piece, as they explore what it means to truly be on the global stage.

Exit Emotions kicks in hard with “Where’s the Exit,” with its distorted nu-metal beat laced with some techno elements followed swiftly by distorted vocals mixing rap and metal styles seamlessly. Dual vocalists Joel Hokka and Niko Moilanen bounce off each other in a symbiotic way, indicating how in tune with each other these guys can be. “Where’s the Exit” feels like it throws everything the band can portray at the wall from their varying influences, and while, on paper, a mix of metal, rock, hip hop, techno, and synth, if difficult to get right, Blind Channel nail it with absolute precision. Several songs on this record follow this formula, like “Deadzone,” “Wolves of California,” and “XOXO” (amongst others), and if the entirety of the record kept to this, whilst fun to listen to, it would run the risk of becoming samey. Thankfully, Blind Channel does mix things up throughout.

Blind Channel, photo by Christian Ripkens

Blind Channel, photo by Christian Ripkens

Keeping it Surreal” maintains a relatively heavy approach but dials it back a tad to give the hip-hop elements more of a chance to shine and deliver a more emotional element with the band, highlighting the surrealness of their current position. This is followed by the extra-emotional “Die Another Day.” The tune opens with a piano melody and slows the entire pace of the record, and moves into ballad territory. Hokka and Moilanen are accompanied by RØRY, ensuring the sensitive lyrics portrayed are emphasized to the max. Despite the relative negativity of the lyrics, the trio somehow makes this extra melancholy tune drive forward positive feelings.

Exit Emotions is a great follow-up to Lifestyles of the Sick and Dangerous, and although it contains many of the tried and tested tropes of what was delivered in the golden age of nu-metal, it still feels refreshing. The band has gone from strength to strength since their respectable placement at 2021’s Eurovision, which demonstrates they have lots more to offer than just their hit song “Dark Side.”

Read our interview with Joel Hokka and Niko Moilanen at last year’s Download 20.

Exit Emotions Track Listing:

1. Where’s the Exit
2. Deadzone
W3. olves of California
4. XOXO
5. Keeping it Surreal
6. Die Another Day
7. Phobia
8. Happy Doomsday
9. Red Tail Lights
10. Not You Bro
11. Flatline
12. One Last Time… Again

Run Time: 35:15
Release Date: March 1, 2024
Record Label: Century Media Records

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