VIDEO REVIEW: Of Clocks and Clouds “What You Need”

of clocks and clouds

Brooklyn’s Of Clocks and Clouds just premiered a new music video for “What You Need,” and it’s hella captivating. The video opens with a girl waking up in a hotel room, appearing hungover, disheveled, and heartbroken – eye liner smeared. She showers, applies make up and classic black lingerie, and the curiosity sets in for the viewer. She looks stunning. The same cannot be said for her costar – a slimy looking man she meets in a hotel room down the hall. Oh yeah, she’s getting ready for a porn shoot. The song itself features elegantly placed vocals over dark, driving, electric guitar. Guitars and porn, it’s rock ‘n’ roll, but not for shock value. The video watches like a well-directed short story that does what the best art is meant to: raises questions and leaves you wanting more.

Listen to the track via Soundcloud here:

TRACK OF THE WEEK: Oracle Room “The Knot”

Oracle Room Alex Nelson

Oracle Room Alex Nelson

We’ve all had that friend that just can’t get over the past, no matter how seemingly small the trauma, that friend that wants to coddle her pain as though it were something precious rather than something that should be released. And, for better or worse, many of us have been that person who just can’t let go. That’s what makes “The Knot,” the debut single from Brooklyn band Oracle Room, so poignant. Lead singer Alex Nelson is all tough love and real talk, here to provide a good dose of therapy in sonic form – so much easier and less expensive than a trip to the psychiatrist.

Nelson’s voice alone has healing powers; at once lush and articulate, PJ Harvey and Cameron Mesirow of Glasser immediately spring to mind when searching for comparisons, though you get the sense that she’s be influenced by classical and pop vocalists alike. Even more startling are the gorgeous production flourishes; Nelson co-produced the track with Grammy-award winner Derik Lee and the pair made some beautiful choices. “[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][He] approached me a couple years ago and expressed wanting a passion project,” says Nelson of the collaboration. “He always had so much work, but he wasn’t working on a lot of music that he loved.” His admiration of Nelson’s songwriting comes through in their work together – when she sings you want to feel hollowed out, the vocal sounds hollow; airy harmonies shift and swirl in a warped, ghostly chorus, the aural equivalent of a knot tightening in the stomach. “We’ve spent the last two years working on properly recording and producing my work in his free time, which was very sparse,” says Nelson, adding that there are five tracks that will be released as singles before appearing physical EP.

Sinister synths burble through “The Knot” courtesy of Joe Phillips, while Zack Fisher’s roomy, organic drumbeats dissolve fizzily into the rest of the composition but keep things marching along at an insistent pace. Moody strings from Pamela Martinez soar here and there, but the focus is always on Nelson’s vocal, as it should be — she’s the emotional catalyst for its lyrical content, an unlikely cheerleader for getting through the tough stuff and moving on to bigger, better, brighter things. “I believe our planet and all of its inhabitants are going through a major transition right now,” Nelson explains. “It’s a really wonderful and powerful change. I usually write songs to encourage people to stay uplifted, to embrace love and express compassion and to really come into their highest being, as this is what will facilitate the transition we are all looking for. A lot of the songs have a darkness or heaviness to them sonically, but usually the lyrical message is quite positive.”

As a band, Oracle Room have recently undergone a similar transformation; formerly known as Andra, they dropped their old moniker because it infringed on a very famous Romanian pop singer. Their show at Glasslands on Tuesday was the first they’d played under the new name, and Oracle Room added Joe Sucato on keys, guitarist Justin Gonzales, and bassist Ian Milliken to the usual duo of Nelson and Fisher. But perhaps the most telling addition to the lineup was a mini-chorus who sang back-up on the first three songs of the set, helping bring to life the harmonic vision that Nelson and Lee played with in the studio. With ideas this big, won’t be long before Oracle Room becomes Brooklyn’s most buzzed about act, and “The Knot” is simply the first in what will hopefully be a long line of breath-taking singles for the breakout band.


LIVE REVIEW: Landlady @ Death By Audio


Landlady are more like the upstairs tenant making an excessive racket than the curmudgeonly old woman banging on the ceiling with a broom handle from downstairs that their name suggests. That being said, it would hardly be out of character for the Brooklyn-based band to incorporate the broom-banging technique into their already experimental percussion – in fact, it’s the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to songwriting that has garnered the band so much buzz of late. On the heels of releasing their much-praised sophomore record Upright Behavior and a grandiose appearance at Rough Trade last month that saw an additional 25 musicians added to an already effusive five-member lineup, Landlady kicked off the biggest tour they’ve yet undertaken last night at Death By Audio in Williamsburg.

The place wasn’t packed but it was profusely sweaty, prompting nearly half the band to remove their shirts after only a few numbers. Lead-singer Adam Schatz  was a bit more coy, promising to undo a shirt button for each tune played after beginning the set with “Under The Yard.” The song’s opening sing-along provided an almost religious call-to-arms; like the dimming of the house lights to signal the end of intermission, the harmonies were a clue that something major was about to happen. And that’s how Landlady approaches music-making: every moment of it is a life-altering event. They don’t shy away from anything, whether it’s a key-change or stylistic shift or unflinching lyrics. They just go with it.

Schatz appeared a bit jittery at first, his between-song banter more than a little self-conscious. But if the shout outs and introductions were a bit awkward, his vocal delivery was hardly that. “This is a song about what you’d do if your sex robot was malfunctioning,” Schatz sputtered, and the band launched into “Girl,” arguably one of Landlady’s most accessible jams. It’s as fidgety and anthemic as the rest of Upright Behavior, but manages to bottle up its mood swings and distill its movements in a more concise way than the record’s most sprawling efforts.

Landlady does extravagant very well, to be sure. There were very few moments during last night’s show that didn’t feel epic, and through the continuously shifting sonic motifs, “epic” was really the only constant.  There were lush harmonies, bouts of blues rock, funkified bass solos, hushed and folksy moments, dissonant breaks, even hints of post-punk here and there. If the band’s aim is to keep listeners on their toes with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it genre mish-mashing then they’re doing an excellent job, and there’s no idea they’re unable to tackle with gusto and talent. For some, that’s Landlady’s biggest asset.

For a listener with specific proclivities, though, the rapid-fire change-ups might not dovetail seamlessly. The someone who loves the watery reverb dripping through the pulsating, urgent percussion that propels “The Globe” might feel lost in that track’s meandering choruses – though “chorus” sometimes feels like too basic a term when talking about this band – wherein everything but Schatz’s eccentric vocals drop off, and further confused by the caterwauling build to the bridge. There’s something for everyone, yes, but at what point does it become an indecipherable melange that’s could be seen as pandering, banking on the fact that someone, somewhere, is going to like at least one part of any given song? Landlady are certainly more earnest and interested in their art for that to be the case, but either way it can be almost to exhausting to keep up with. If you’re not actively listening, you’ll lose the thread very quickly.

And it seems that active listening and audience participation truly are Landlady’s ultimate goals. Like someone nagging her tenants for rent, Schatz implored the scattered audience to move toward the stage, get close to one another, sweatiness be damned. He ramble-shouted about being thankful for the existence of Death By Audio, ruminating on the fine details that come together to run a DIY space in Brooklyn, thanking everyone from the in-house booking to the muralists who painted the walls. He asked the audience to interpret the room as a collective energy, and led everyone in a chant of “ALWAYS” as the band finished out the set with “Above My Ground” (at which point his now-unbuttoned shirt came flying off as promised). If felt more than a little schmaltzy, but Landlady isn’t a band to shy away from sentimentality. Like similarly sincere and self-aware band-of-the-moment Ought, Landlady ask their fans to exist with them in the very moment, eschewing the passive norm. Landlady give particularly powerhouse performances, and because their wide range of styles will appeal to pretty much everyone at least some of the time, their upcoming tour is not only their first, but likely their last before they start headlining huge venues and hitting the festival circuit.

Take a listen to “Above My Ground,” check out tour dates below and catch them while you can.

08/09/14 – Champaign, IL @ High Dive
08/10/14 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club
08/11/14 – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium
08/13/14 – Billings, MT @ The Railyard
08/14/14 – Spokane, WA @ The Barlett
08/15/14 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
08/16/14 – Portland, OR @ MusicfestNW – Tom McCall Waterfront Park
08/18/14 – San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
08/20/14 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
08/21/14 – San Luis Obispo, CA @ SLO Brewing Co.
08/22/14 – Visalia, CA @ The Cellar Door
08/23/14 – Los Angeles, CA @ Satellite
08/24/14 – Flagstaff, AZ @ The Green Room
08/26/14 – Austin, TX @ The Mohawk
08/27/14 – Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s Upstairs
08/28/14 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon
08/29/14 – New Orleans, LA @ Hi Ho Lounge
09/02/14 – Nashville, TN @ The Stone Fox
09/03/14 – Atlanta, GA @ 529
09/04/14 – Raleigh, NC @ Hopscotch Fest
09/05/14 – Richmond, VA @ Fall Line Fest
09/07/14 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
09/24/14 – Columbus, OH @ Double Happiness
09/25/14 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
09/26/14 – Cincinnati, OH @ MidPoint Music Fest
10/15/14 – Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
10/16/14 – Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
10/17/14 – Norman, OK @ The Opolis
10/19/14 – Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
10/20/14 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room
10/21/14 – Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
10/25/14 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
10/27/14 – Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar
10/28/14 – St. Louis, MO @ Old Rock House