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INsiders Guide: Fake Fake, Hablot Brown, Sam Louis And More… By OLC!

Following their genre-bending debut in May 2019 with single “Goodnightmare”, Victoria (Canada) based R&B duo Fake Fake return with their sophomore release “PRETTY BLACK BALLOONS”. A darker contrast to the energetic romp of their debut, “PRETTY BLACK BALLOONS” introduces the tender, more cinematic side of the duo’s songwriting. With a track length of just 2 minutes and 22 seconds, producer Charlotte Hynds and vocalist Justin Campbell leave no pause and let nothing repeat, prompting listeners to revisit each second on their own terms.

“The vocal idea that initially inspired “PRETTY BLACK BALLOONS” was only ever a single verse and chorus, and stayed in that format for a long time. When we started approaching the song as a duo and began to expand and lengthen parts, it never quite held the same magic of that first demo. The lyrical content is heavily steeped in themes of self discovery and acceptance, so it felt right completing the song using that initial form and feel.”

“Ultimately the song became like a short story or film, where everything that is purposefully left out has
equal importance to what is kept in. We wanted it to possess those key elements that make listeners
crave revisiting a song, and engaging with it more intimately after the first listen. The same way we often
return as listeners to a certain hook, tone, or one-time sound that is never repeated again in the same
way throughout some of our favourite pieces.”

As massive fans of artists that attempt to meet their audience somewhere beyond slick production and hooks alone, “PRETTY BLACK BALLOONS” is us reaching out.

On Thursday, October 3, 2019, Hablot Brown released a brand new single, “Ain’t No Secret” independently released. This track is the first offering from the trio ahead of their third EP set to release in late November.

“Ain’t No Secret” is a lustrous groove that is as smooth as it is soulful. Contrasting their previous slow-burners, Hablot Brown take the tempo up a notch with “Ain’t No Secret”—a tune best characterized by its funky guitar licks and modernized soul bass-lines. It’s a fresh neo-soul/R&B song that follows the genre-bending and sought-after creative production that Hablot Brown have been able to impart since their inception. Per usual, on the vocals, Linus Lester-Hodges proves he could melt butter by just talking to it.

Hablot Brown is comprised of twin brothers Austin Brown (production, keys, bass, guitar) and John Brown (drums, co-writing), who hail from Franklin, MA, and Linus Lester-Hodges (vocals, songwriting) who grew up in Singapore. The trio first met at a 5-week summer program at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Upon connecting, it was evident their chemistry was undeniable. Lester-Hodges’ voice and songwriting prowess found a perfect match with the high vibes and wide-ranging rhythms created by the Brown brothers. Bringing an interesting blend of vastly contrasting genres, the band borrows from musical influences such as Nick Hakim and J.Dilla creating their own unique sound that is difficult not to fall in love with.

Hablot Brown is fresh off a 12-stop spring North American tour with HONNE that wrapped up in May of this year. In 2018, they extensively toured with jazz-infused English pop purveyor Tom Misch (12 stops) and Kiwi multi-instrumentalist Jordan Rakei (5 stops).

In their first 12 months Hablot Brown was streamed collectively over 5.5 million times, as well as being featured on Spotify playlists like Global Viral 50, Sweet Soul Sunday, Alternative R&B, Butter.

The band’s sophomore EP, Soulection Black Label: Hablot Brown was Joe Kay’s introduction to the world of the Black Label Series, which is focused on highlighting rising vocalists/rappers in the Soulection.

Stream “Ain’t No Secret” below, and be on the look out for the next single off their upcoming EP!

““This Love” talks about holding on to what you got if you believe in it. Even if it keeps breaking you down, keep fighting for it, because that love is all we got. My new single was inspired by a past relationship that was inconsistent and broken. It’s almost a cry for help; even though the relationship is constantly falling apart, the one thing that remains is the subconscious love they both share. “This Love” was produced by Los Angeles-based producer Shayan Amiri. Working alongside him was daunting yet inspirational. He kept wanting to push me outside of my comfort zone – taking me to a more emotional and vulnerable place than my previous tracks. After working on this one idea for more than half of the session, about three hours in, Shayan changed the key of the song for the better. I scrapped every melody and lyrical idea that I had. I went into the vocal booth to sing, and the lyrics and melody for “This Love” poured out of me. This song goes out to the leftover lovers, the broken heros of a relationship. The ones who keep fighting for not only their person, but for themselves.

This Love” is about recognizing the beauty and rarity of love, and realizing its value.

Thank you for listening. Stay tuned – more new music is on its way”.—Sam Louis

6’3″, 260 pounds, former center for Purdue football… sounds like a likely candidate for a tender musician, no? Well, looks can be deceiving, and despite an eclectic background, Midnight Divide frontman Austen Moret has been obsessed with songwriting since the days his two-year-old self was smashing the keys of a Casio keyboard or his grandmother’s piano. Weird right? He has… layers. After brief stints in indie/alternative bands, Moret finally decided the only path forward was to forge his own. Thus, via the depths of Craigslist musician ads, Midnight Divide was born. With Jace McPartland on bass, Dan Beltran on lead guitar and Bryan King on drums, the Los Angeles based band deliver cinematic alt-rock with a magnetically fierce sound that’s been electrifying audiences across the nation. 

New EP Weapons Grade Amnesia covers themes such as self-destruction, self-awareness and yearning for a better future with hope in overcoming the odds. Moret confides, “I think I’ve found over the years that music is really the best way I’m able to cope and express myself in a way that feels honest and real. Somehow you always find the best things to say way after the fact…” The emotion driven EP features ‘Who Do You Think That You Are?’, a track which was deeply inspired by past poor decisions. Showcasing throbbing baselines, fiery vocals and determined melodies, the song radiates tenacity. Then there is ‘Inherent Vice’ an ethereal alt-rock anthem and ‘Say You Believe’ a confident single, oozing with bold instrumentation and impassioned lyrics. Both songs narrate the hope of overcoming faults and becoming the person you want to be.

Sonically Moret’s music melds a variety of sounds, always real alt-rock drums and guitars on every record, layered with synths and pop production, topped with raw emotional vocals, heaped on a cinematic plate. The music is best consumed raw and loud, emitting an essence of Queens Of The Stone Age. Moret shares, “I hope this music inspires someone to feel ok about feeling conflicted. That emotions don’t play by the rules and aren’t limited to one at a time, and that’s ok. You’re able to work through that and be a little fucked up about it”. 

Midnight Divide has seen solid success, with songs ‘Fireline’ and ‘Let It Be Known’ synced on Showtime’s critically acclaimed Shameless, and ‘Torn’ and ‘Animal Eyes’ placed on TNT’s Animal Kingdom. ‘Inherent Vice’ is out now and ‘Say You Believe’ is slated for release October 2019.

(Photo Credit: Victoria-McEwan)

MONOWHALES don’t care about living up to your expectations with their new single “RWLYD (Really Wanna Let You Down)”. Their most recent offering since the release of 2018’s Control Freak sees the band traversing new sonic territory, combining heavy bass guitar, pounding drums, and shimmering synths to create a backdrop for the song’s infectious hooks. This slick and distinctly modern sound was cultivated by producer Ryan Worsley (Dear Rouge, Brave Shores), marking a departure from the back-to-basics approach MONOWHALES took to the recording of their last EP. Says guitarist Zach Zanardo on the recording process, “Ryan Worsley flew in from Vancouver to produce ‘RWLYD’. We wanted him to experience the frigid Toronto winter that is embodied by the cold synth sounds of the track. Recording was quick and easy, with lots of inspiration. Zero beer this time, but tons of toys to layer into the arrangement.”

While “RWLYD” could just as easily find itself spinning at a house party or as part of your favourite work-out playlist, the lyrics explore darker themes. After a difficult year where each band member faced deep personal struggles, “RWLYD” represents a release from the ever-present crush of outside expectations. “As an indie band we don’t exemplify the cliche of happy-go-lucky artists pressured to fit a mold by the big bad cigar-chomping record executive,” explains drummer Jordan Circosta when asked about the song’s meaning, “Instead we struggle with the constant push and pull of external and internal expectations that we feel the need to live up to, where sometimes the hardest ones to contend with are those we place on ourselves. This song is about feeling beaten down by those forces and the release that comes with the decision to let go of those expectations.”

“RWLYD” was conceived just before leaving on the tour that supported the release of Control Freak, a time that saw many members of MONOWHALES struggling with their mental health and questioning their future as a band. Creating what they felt was their best work at the time breathed new life into the band and “RWLYD” was seen as a glimmer of hope in a dark time, becoming one of their favourites to perform live. “Jordan and Zach brought this song into rehearsal one day and as soon as they played it, I felt connected to it,” says singer Sally Shaar, “I loved the fresh electronic sounds and how they blended in with that thick guitar tone. The first verse was gold, it was both lyrically and melodically catchy. I immediately felt inspired to write the second verse on the spot and thought the song needed something that would get the fans engaged in our live shows. This is where the ooo’s in the post chorus come in. We jammed it that day and I was just improvising having a laugh and ended up singing the post-chorus melody. It stuck! Once that was in there, the song felt so damn breezy and fun to play. I think we were able to capture the attitude instrumentally and it really encompasses the playfulness of the lyrical and melodic content. Short story long, RWLYD bounces but it also bites.”

MONOWHALES are showing no signs of slowing down, with a tour and more recording on the horizon. When asked about the band’s future, Circosta had this to say – “We’re about to head out on tour across the country in October, landing us in BC where we’ll be finishing up the record with Ryan [Worsley]. We’ll be back in Ontario for a few more dates in November after that. The rest of the plans are kind of a secret right now but we’ll let you know what’s up when the time is right”.

Michael K. has dropped her third single “Haircut”. Based on the biblical story of Samson and Delilah, “Haircut” describes a toxic relationship in which both sides betray each other. Like the story, Michael K. uses hair to symbolize strength and stability. She repeats the question, “did you cut my hair because I cut yours?” each instance reiterating the pain that the couple consistently causes one another. Written when Michael K. studied for a semester in England, she used the song as a way to reflect on a relationship she left behind in the U.S. Produced by British electro-R&B artist, ONUR, the track is a unique mix of vivid storytelling coupled with an avant garde electronic edge.

Consistently using allusions to literature as a basis for her storytelling, she creates left-of-center music which she considers to be Folktronica. Her first single, “Dorian Gray,” has nearly 250,000 streams on Spotify. Along with her music, she also runs an artist discovery and development platform to support and grow her artist community, posting about new releases, producing concerts, and creating video content. To Michael K., creating and supporting music as an artform is her true passion.

Critically acclaimed dark/pop songstress Cloe Wilder released her heart-stopping music video for her new single, “Save Me.”. “Save Me.”  produced by Grammy-award-winning Jayme David Silverstein and The Trust is filled with highly vulnerable shots that work to enhance the riveting melodies. The music video features moody dark scenes, highlighting how no one can save Wilder from her own inner battles. The video also features social media stars Bryce Xavier, Mikey Tua, and Diego Martir.

War Twins are an art rock grunge pop duo based in Los Angeles. Known for their dynamic live set, full of passionate energy, rock n’ roll soul and deep electronics, the band have grown from their small hometowns on the east coast, to a string of successful nationwide tours. The duo was founded by singer/songwriter Gaetana and drummer/producer James Grey. Beginning in early 2013, the band built a bed in the back of a ‘98 Plymouth Voyager and promoted their first demo on a tour that took them to over 80 cities. Since then they’ve performed close to 500 shows across the country to date.

War Twins are now releasing their new record American Kids. Produced by Grammy Award-winning producer, Sylvia Massy (TOOL, Prince, Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty), the release includes the single ‘Right or Wrong,’ out via 6Tetra4 Records. Showcasing haunting melodies, gritty guitars, stomping percussion and passionate vocals, the music narrates a message of empowerment, expressing that anyone can do what they want, even if they had been through hell. Gaetana confides, “To be honest, this project was a way for me to heal. When I began writing for War Twins, I felt a strong desire to give a message of brutal honesty, empowerment and strength. I didn’t know at the time that this was because it was what I needed myself. I am a survivor of rape, domestic violence and abuse, so for me this project has been about reclaiming who I am in a powerful way, even when it makes me uncomfortable”. The visuals for ‘Right or Wrong’ emphasizes the ideology of female empowerment, with Gaetana dressed in glamorous costumes, she takes vengeance, poisoning her victim, creating an eerie and eccentric vision.

American Kids is comprised of a variety of unique songs, ranging from grungy 90s-esque, to atmospheric, folky, electronic, and dark, heavy hitters. The release covers themes of sexuality and Gaetana’s story of being in the closet in high school as a pansexual woman, poking fun at her obsession with romance and true love stories and rom-com movies. She shouts about her frustration with parts of western culture and expresses questions and sadness around seeing females, LGBTQ and other beautiful communities oppressed by popular culture and social confines. War Twins succeed in bringing in an element to the forefront of their music that allows audiences to feel connected to something big and mysterious, something magical, mystical or spiritual. Inspired by the likes of The Runaways, Joan Jett, St Vincent, as well as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Smashing Pumpkins, the duo have created a fresh sound which bursts with energy and leaves a powerful imprint with listeners.
War Twins have supported international acts such as Wolf Alice, Alien Ant Farm and Filter, with additional performances at SXSW, Catskill Chill, Slingshot and other Festivals. ‘Right or Wrong’ is out now.

Daniel Ellsworth + The Great Lakes is the sound life makes when it becomes ecstasy. It is the noise childhood makes when it surrenders to itself and becomes an ecstatic life. It is somehow simultaneously sweetness, energy, softness, and seduction. A strange alchemy that comes about in a town like Nashville — where they formed in 2010. It’s a place of internal Peter Pans. But there are a rare few who can be born from Nashville’s island of youth, insanity, and silliness only to survive and age into a continent of thirty-something honesty and humanity. DE+TGL is one of those rare few. Wise Lost Boys with a conscience, but still a thirsty, boyish spark. That is Daniel Ellsworth (lead vox, keys), Timon Lance (guitar), and Marshall Skinner (bass). A silky, organic monster made from the remnants of pop swagger, sunglasses, self-aware grown-up realism, road trips, anxiety, and just plain, pounding fun.

Their first full-length album, 2011’s Civilized Man, was recorded and co-produced with Mark Nevers (Andrew Bird, Yo La Tengo, Silver Jews). Here they showed the beginnings of that stylized magic, combining intricate rhythms and challenging melodies yet never straying from pop pleasantness. Civilized Man went on to be listed in the top 100 albums of 2011 by Amazon. The single “Shoe Fits” debuted at number seven on Amazon’s top 100 songs of 2011. DE+TGL was named one of the 15 Bands to Watch by Esquire Magazine in 2014. In March of that year their sophomore album, Kid Tiger, was recorded at Sputnik Sound by Vance Powell (Jack White, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs). Bemidji, a companion EP also recorded by Vance Powell, was released in March 2016.

Amidst some band changes, life changes and a bit of chaos – their critically acclaimed album, Fashion, released August 24th, 2018. It was released in three parts – Chapter One in winter 2018, Chapter Two in spring 2018, and the full album followed — reflecting the process by which is was crafted. It was recorded over the course of a year at Elephant Lady Studios in Nashville, Tennessee – engineered, co-produced, and mixed by indie-pop-mastermind-and-wizard-like Kyle Andrews. DE+TGL was already no stranger to building big sounds, but this album took that tendency even further. The scope, the sweep, and the height of the sonic space they could reach being stretched more and more – as if it were a scientific experiment in how captivating, euphoric, and pounding pop can be.

As budding and impressionable young artists, brothers Dillon and Dean D’Antuono were heavily influenced by the musical icons from their home state of NJ. They learned the work ethic from the greats: play live, be merciless in learning your craft and play it loud. That spirit is expressed perfectly in their new EP, “Don’t Let Me Go”. Dean’s powerful and soaring voice played over the driving drum, bass, and guitars, The REVEL is a band that proves that rock ‘n roll is alive and well.

These brothers are known for their commanding live performances having opened up for many of their musical heroes including Bon Jovi, Buckcherry, Blue Oyster Cult and Jimmy Gnecco/OURS.  Jimmy is not only a mentor but also has produced and written songs for this instant ear candy EP.

THE REVEL is coming for you.

Angst-pop powerhouse Girl Wilde is revealing her debut EP, Probably Crying, out on all streaming platforms today. The EP features three previously released singles, “Probably Crying,” “WeT” and “I Don’t Wanna Die,” as well as two brand new tracks, “BATSHiT” and “Killing Time.”

Probably Crying captures the good, the bad, and the ugly of the human experience. Through her lyrics, Girl Wilde approaches the oft-taboo topics of depression, anxiety, and female sex positivity with a radiant confidence. Her musicality is equally as rebellious, blurring genre  boundaries with bombastic punk-inspired riffs, electro-pop melodies, and 90s indie-rock nostalgia. The Probably Crying EP sees Girl Wilde emerging through a therapeutic journey of self-discovery, which she explains in the following statement: “For many years I felt like my voice had been stifled and I can proudly say that this EP is my first step towards freedom. I am excited to finally speak my truth and unapologetically be myself.

Girl Wilde has a sonic physicality that is unrestricted by genre, expectations, and trends. With vocal chops that could rival Gwen Stefani, the LA-based artist taps into a 90s alt-rock nostalgia, fusing it with shimmery pop melodies. Since the project’s debut in late 2018, Girl Wilde’s uninhibited angst-fueled pop has quickly caught fire, already gaining the attention of tastemakers such as Ones To Watch, Alternative Press, INSIDER, and Spotify’s ‘Fresh Finds’ playlist.

Girl Wilde will be celebrating the EP release with a free show on October 14th at Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles. The show kicks off at 8pm and will include guest performances from Girl Wilde, gnash, and Mia Mora.

Pallas Athene Is an ethereal altpop project created by Breanna Johnston. [PEC,ON]

After spending nearly a decade playing in various rock and folk bands, in 2014 she injured her hands in a construction mishap and had to take an extended break from guitar in order to heal, a hiatus which led to an adventure in making electronic music.

In 2016 Pallas Athene recorded her first single “What I Want” which was selected as a demo feature for FatCat Records UK, and was released on a vinyl compilation by the same label in July, 2019. [“Brought to Light Vol.1”]

Pallas Athene’s debut self-titled EP is an ethereal dark pop record, exploring the theme of man vs machine. With lo-fi dream vocals and minimalistic beats, the songs have an ethereal and contemplative quality

Ultimately, Pallas Athene is the result of introspection, isolation, and rehabilitation.

What do you think?

Written by Neill Frazer

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