MERCH’s (aka Joe Medina) new LP, Amour Bohemian, is an immense project that features contributions from 65 different artists, including the 30-piece Prague FILMharmonic—one of Europe’s most sought-after recording orchestras that has previously worked with Werner Herzog, Ridley Scott, Arcade Fire and Joanna Newsom.
A densely layered, wildly ambitious record rooted in Medina’s love of vintage film soundtracks, Scott Walker and Lee Hazlewood, Amour Bohemian’s cinematic sound is a brilliant fusion of classic pop, psych and garage that’s peppered with reverent nods to the old-school crooners, Mexican ranchero, French chanson and ’30s big-band jazz. Medina shrieks and howls like a descendant of The Mothers of Invention and croons like Leonard Cohen, evoking a serendipitous combination of love and estrangement.
Members of The Growlers and The Blank Tapes are also featured on the album, which John Dwyer of Oh Sees is already calling, a “masterpiece.”
MERCH’s new single “Two Hearts” channels the orchestration and cinematic scope of Ennio Morricone, paired with dramatic melodies that call to mind Leonard Cohen’s Death of a Ladies’ Man. The accompanying visuals were filmed by Jason Shamai, with additional footage shot by Charlotte Linden Ercoli Coe, who has directed videos for Ariel Pink, Weyes Blood, and co-wrote some of the tracks on Ariel’s latest album, Dedicated To Bobby Jameson. The video plays with nearly tactile memories of Medina’s, creating a uniquely personal and poignant visual to accompany the track.
This is what Shamai had to say about the video:
“Joe is a real fan of Charlotte’s work in all the fields she has her hands in. They got together and shot some stuff. My interpretation of the footage she took of Joe was that she wanted to capture an unromantic, chintzy version of the rock star persona. But then Joe asked me to help incorporate what she shot into an even larger framework.
“The video we ended up with was largely a response to the available footage and available location — the trailers where Joe was staying at the time in Hollywood. Most of my footage was captured on the fly, of people we’d met at the location. I scattered the shiny objects and toys around, hoping the kids would play with them, and they did. I even wanted the little boy to put on those heels but I didn’t know if I should ask his parents—but then the kid ran right for them and did all that strutting on his own. At some point, the video became more clearly about childhood visions of the future—how those visions fall short, but also how those visions can look in retrospect. Sometimes flimsy or tawdry, but sometimes just a pure as you remember. Charlotte’s footage kind of served to represent that middle ground you end up finding, a compromised image of yourself that still retains a little innocence and optimism.”