With the release of their debut single “Icon” and the Leda EP, the Amsterdam, The Netherlands-based indie rock quartet Dakota, comprised of Lisa Brammer, Lana Kooper, Annemarie van den Born and Tessa Radian quickly received international critical applause from Noisey, Nylon and elsewhere for a dreamy yet forceful sound that seemingly meshes elements of Southern California surf rock, garage rock and dream pop. 2017 sees the Amsterdam-based band building upon a growing national and international profile as they’ve played some of the bigger festivals in Europe, including Great Escape — and along with that, the quartet’s new single “Silver Tongue” may arguably be a low-key and mid-tempo feminist anthem. As the band explains, the song is an ode to coping with that person (or people) in your life, who actively try to knock your dreams and goals and piss on your parade at every opportunity; however, the song’s message is to keep your head held high, your eyes on the prize and keep busting your ass to achieve what’s important to you — and never, ever give in to those naysayers.
Sonically, the Dutch quartet’s latest single will further cement their growing reputation for carefully crafted guitar pop played with a cool, self-assuredness that belies the band’s relative youth — and for being both hazy and remarkably anthemic.
Directed by Max Westendorp, the recently released visuals for “Silver Tongue switches between footage of the band broodingly lounging about. Occasionally one of the young women smiles — with a mix of self consciousness and genuine mirth, as though they may have heard a really good joke or are just happy to be around their best friends before cutting to footage of the members of the band jumping and dancing about to the song — while in a biology lab or a morgue of some sort.
With the release of last year’s Language EP, Hypoluxo, a Brooklyn-based indie rock quartet currently comprised of Samuel Cogen, Marco Ocampo, Cameron Riordan, and Eric Jasso quickly received attention for crafting lush melodies with clever, somewhat cynical and perhaps at points coy humor; however, the band’s latest effort, Taste Buds finds the band stripping their sound down quite a bit, with the focus and guiding point being Cogen’s moody Matt Beringer-like baritone — and with their latest single “Nevada,” Cogen and company manage to sound as though they were slyly drawing from High Violet-era The National, complete with jangling guitars but while retaining the sly humor that first caught the attention of the blogosphere and elsewhere. And interestingly enough the song will further the band’s growing reputation for a sound and aesthetic that’s difficult to pinpoint, let alone pigeonhole as it’s not quite dream pop, nor is it twee and a bit too humorous to be typical indie rock while drawing from each one.
Arguably best known as one half of Los Angeles, CA-based indie electro pop act Sad Robot, with Long Beach, CA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist Nick Perez, Connecticut-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter Kat Leon developed a reputation for material that focused on her obsessions with death and the occult. With both of her parents suddenly dying within months of one another, Leon was plunged into a period of profound and heartbreaking grief. And after taking some necessary time to grieve, Leon began her latest, solo recording project Holy Wars, influenced by what may have been some of the darkest days of her life to date; in fact, the project in many ways to her is a way to extrapolate the tumultuous feelings and thoughts she had felt and thought during that period — with the result being her Holy Wars debut, double EP Mother, which will released at the end of this month and Father, which is slated for release later on this summer. Of course, both EPs are dedicated to her respective parents and while being dark and at points foreboding, the material isn’t completely nihilistic; in fact, Mother‘s first single “I Can’t Feel A Thing” is a cathartic release, rooted around an anthemic arena rock-like sound reminiscent of Paramore —but with profoundly adult angst, from the recognition that death is a permanent and inconsolable loss, a wound that can never really be healed, and that the only thing anyone can do is figure out a way to move forward.
Mother‘s second single “Orphan” is a slower burning, mid-tempo track that focuses on what may be the darkest, saddest and yet most true aspect of life: that everyone you ever know and love will one day die, and the survivors reeling from inconsolable loss have to piece together their lives, and with her backing band, Leon pairs that sentiment with a stormy and forceful arrangement within a 90s alt rock structure — quiet verses, stormy and loud choruses; however, much like “I Can’t Feel A Thing,” the song isn’t completely negative. Yes, it’s a weary acceptance but within that acceptance is a paradoxical vulnerability and strength.
Louise Lemón is an up-and-coming Uppsala, Sweden-based pop artist, who has developed a reputation in her homeland and elsewhere for a dramatic, moody and dark sound that some have compared favorably to PJ Harvey, Lana Del Rey and others. Interestingly, her debut EP Purge was recorded in a reportedly haunted cabin with Randal Dunn, who has worked with Sunn O))) and Thurston Moore — and it shouldn’t be surprising that the spectral and eerie feel within the studio has influenced the EP’s material; in fact, “Appalacherna,” Purge’s latest single pairs Lemón’s soulful and expressive vocals with a sparse and equally moody arrangement featuring swirling feedback, brief and explosive bursts of drum and piano. And just under the brooding and mysterious surface is a desperate and aching longing — the sort of longing that will ultimately be unfulfilled, as the song’s narrator recognizes the inherent difficulties of a relationship with an equally broken and dysfunctional person.
Directed by Edward John Drake, who has directed the videos for Yolanda Be Cool, DCUP and Rodriguez’s “Sugarman” and Flora Cash’s “California,” and starring Louise Lemón and Sien Gay, the recently released visuals are cinematically shot but brooding and nightmarishly matter of fact about the brutality of its central character. The story begins with Lemón playing with a crystal necklace while daydreaming about a lover, who has hurt her after playing a successful show. A bodyguard type comes in after her show, and informs her “we’ve found him” and the video quickly becomes set in the California desert, where Lemón encounters the “him” they found — and the ending is as disturbing as any scene in Goodfellas. As Lemón explains “’Appalacherna’ was recorded in the Californian desert with the theme: An artist kills her past to save her future. This really made making this video a cleansing process. The necklace with the crystal plays an important role in the video and it turned out to play an even greater role to me. I was really happy to bring it back home with me as a memory so I tucked it away safely, but back from the shoot it was gone, I was liberated from the past and wasn’t supposed to bring anything with me from it.”
Initially formed in Bryon Bay, Australia the members of up-and-coming synth funk/dance pop act Parcels, comprised of Patrick Hetherington, Louie Swain, Noah Hill, Jules Crommelin, and Anatole Serret relocated to Berlin, Germany after they all graduated from high school to seriously pursue music and to hone their sound in one of the most culturally thriving and diverse cities of Europe. As soon as they relocated, the quintet quickly developed a reputation for a sound that paired slick studio production with deliberate attention to live performance, and as a result the act caught the attention of renowned Parisian electronic label Kitsune Records and the members of world famous electronic music production and artist duo Daft Punk, who caught the band play a set in Paris, and was so impressed by the Australian-born, German-based act that they decided to mentor the up-and-coming act.
Earlier this year, the members of Parcels along with the members of Daft Punk wrote and recorded their latest single “Overnight” in a secret location in Paris, and the single is a breezy, easygoing, summertime anthem that subtly reveals a careful attention to craft, as the band pairs infectious, razor sharp hooks with a sinuous bass line, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar and shimmering arpeggio synths — and while clearly nodding at Daft Punk’s “Get Ready,” the song possesses a mischievously sensual swagger.
The Bryon Bay-born, Berlin-based members of the band are touring throughout the European Union and the UK during the year and the tour will include two Glastonbury Festival sets this weekend.
Comprised of TV on the Radio‘s Kyp Malone, Samiam‘s Sean Kennerly, Fuckemos‘ and Surfbort’s Sean Powell, Midnight Masses‘ Giselle Reiber, Wild Yaks‘ Dan Scinta and B.A. Miele, no-wave, noise-punk act Ice Balloons features an who’s who of contemporary indie rock. Although it’s a side project from each of their full-time gigs, the project find each member bringing sometimes disparate elements from their pasts into their songwriting process and as you’ll hear on “Calypso Heartworm,” the latest single off the band’s forthcoming full-length debut Fiesta, the band specializes in a fuzzy and washed out dissonance paired with a difficult to discern song structure. There are hints at familiar elements though — there’s something like a bridge and there’s even something like a hook and even verses — and it’s held together by a propulsive and angular bass line, buzzing guitar chords and washed out sounds. And while possessing a trippy and kaleidoscopic vibe underneath the cacophony of noise, it’s a song that manages to feel simultaneously chaotic, slack and anxious.
It’s been 11 years since J. Dilla‘s tragic and untimely death due to complications from Lupus and over that period of time, the prolific, Detroit-born producer and beatmaker’s reputation has grown — to the point that he has become arguably one of hip-hop’s most beloved and influential artists and producers; in fact, much of his work possesses a timelessness and vitality that few contemporary producers of any genre can manage. Interestingly enough, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the prolific Detroit-born producer and beatmaker’s untimely passing, his emcee debut The Diary was posthumously released, although it was released with quite a bit of controversy surrounding it. Dilla died before he could finish the album and much of the material was unfinished, leaving producers the unenviable task of piecing and stitching together incomplete ideas and filling in musical gaps in a way that would hew as closely as possible to its creator’s original intentions and ambitions. Naturally, in the event of an artist dying as they were finishing their work, it leaves questions about the nature of art, its creation, whether an outside editor or a producer can really flesh out the original creator’s ideas in a fashion that they would appreciate, whether its ethical to mine a deceased creator’s incomplete works to make money for the creator’s survivors or for their estate and countless others. In fact, it should be unsurprising that Dilla’s surviving family and the executors publicly battled over every aspect of the posthumously released The Diary; nor should it be surprising that J. Dilla’s mother, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, who has worked tirelessly to further her son’s legacy while being incredibly protective over it.
Mrs. Yancey was instrumental in the release of Motor City, a new collection of rare and unreleased Dilla instrumentals inspired by the producer’s hometown. Conceived as a letter to her son and originally released this for this year’s Record Store Day, the vinyl release quickly sold out; however, the vinyl has been re-pressed in limited quantities and is available for purchase for purchase at Dillatronic while supplies last. But it also marks the long-awaited digital release of the album. And to celebrate both occasions, Mrs. Yancey released “Motor City J Rocc Blend #4,” an exclusive promotional mix by Dilla’s close friend and equally renowned DJ and producer J. Rocc, which features one of Motor City‘s previously unreleased instrumental tracks.
J. Rocc’s mix is an inventive and boldly vivid take on J. Dilla’s production that builds upon Dilla’s souful production in a swaggering yet organic fashion as the production features a looped string section paired with tweeter and woofer rocking beats, some DJ scratching and a sinuous bass line paired with some incredibly fiery spitting from Common.
Comprised of Ella Thompson and Graeme Pogson, GL is a Melbourne, Australia-based electronic music production and artist duo, who with the release of 2013’s Love Hexagon EP and their full-length debut Touch developed a reputation for specializing in a sound that’s very much a contemporary take on disco, funk, boogie, soul and house music, and as a result the Australian electronic music duo quickly earned international attention from The Guardian, i-D, The FADER, V Magazine, XLR8R and others, as well as played sets at New Zealand’s St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival and Splore Festival while nationally they’ve opened for Nick Murphy fka Chet Faker and played a successful headlining national tour to support their full-length debut.
Building upon a growing national and international profile, which resulted in a busy touring schedule, the duo locked themselves away in the studio to write and record the double A-sided single “Destiny”/”Reflect,” and as the duo explain “‘Reflect’ is an extended jam we made at TFS Studio in North Fitzroy, Melbourne. We wanted to try a long form exploration piece. Listen out for the delightful keyboard solo by Harvey Sutherland! Lyrically, it’s about searching inward, when the outside gets a bit much.” Interestingly enough, the song while being decidedly introspective manages to be joyous, suggesting that searching inward can be a profound solace in a cruel world or as George Clinton once wisely sung “The kingdom of heaven is within.” Of course, sonically, the song will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting a sound that draws so much from 80s and 90s house music and 80s synth soul that it brings to mind The Whispers “It’s A Love Thing,” “And The Beat Goes On,” and “Rock Steady,” Evelyn “Champagne” King’s “Love Come Down” and Cherelle‘s “Saturday Love” as Pogson pairs a production featuring layers of shimmering and cascading synths, a sinuous bass line, tribal drumming, bursts of shimmering keys and a soaring hook with Thompson’s self-assured vocals. Simply put, it’s arguably one of the most DJ-leaning, club rocking tracks I’ve written about in several months; in fact, if I were DJ’ing, I’d make sure to fit this one into a set.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three years or so, you may have come across a handful of posts featuring Emily Hamilton, a Gold Coast, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist and producer, whose solo project San Mei began humbly as a bedroom recording project; however, during that aforementioned three year period, Hamilton has seen a growing national and international profile as Hamilton has seen attention and praise from major media outlets, including NME, Indie Shuffle, NYLON and Triple J, as well as this site.
Produced by Konstantin Kersting, who has worked with The Belligerents, WAAX, and Tia Gostelow, Hamilton’s first single of 2017 “Until You Feel Good” is a mid-tempo single that is a change of sonic direction for Hamilton, as her lilting and coquettish vocals are paired with a much more organic arrangement of fuzzy Brit Pop and shoegazer rock-like power chords and a propulsive groove, along with a soaring hook and a subtly moody vibe. And while being radio friendly, the song manages to evoke a complex array of emotions — desire and longing, frustration and the sense of something being unresolved, along with some self-assured and ambitious songwriting.
Filmed and directed by Brisbane, Australia-based filmmaker Jennifer Embelton, who has produced videos for Babaganouj, Huntly, Good Boy and Jeremy Neale, the video is follows a young woman’s time-bending journey across the present, the past, the future, the real and her own dreams when she encounters a boy from her past, who suddenly returns to her life. And as soon as he appears, he’s gone. The harder she tries to find the boy, the quicker he slips away. Is he a ghost of her past, haunting her at an inopportune time? That remains to be seen; but it further emphasizes the sense of things being unresolved within the song.
Comprised of the Gjøvik, Norway-born and-based singer/songwriter and musician Anna Lotterud and New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based producer Brady Daniell-Smith, the Norwegian/New Zealand-Australian indie electro pop duo Anna of the North can trace its origin back to 2012. As the story goes, Lotterud was working in a shop in her small town near Oslo, and was settling down with her first love, anticipating a life of routine, normality and banality when a customer came in and changed her life. Polite and well groomed, this stranger began making daily visits, browsing for hours but never buy-in anything. One afternoon, the woman suddenly approached Lotterud and implored her to abandoned the traditional life she had planned out, and go and expand her horizons. The plea jolted something in Lotterud and in an act of rather uncharacteristic spontaneity, she booked a flight to Australia, leaving her life and her partner behind.
The time Lotterud spent in Australia was personally fulfilling but also incredibly turbulent. She fell in love again, only to have her heart broken as suddenly and inexplicably as her decision to leave Norway in the first place. Around that time, she met her future producer and collaborator Brady Daniell-Smith. At the time, Smith who was also struggling with his own complicated relationships, was performing as an acoustic singer/songwriter in Melbourne, and in a serendipitous moment, Lotterud had caught Smith performing while she was friends. Interestingly, Lotterud and Smith then quickly became friends, with Smith encouraging his new friend to find solace in songwriting — and that by making music they could exorcise the ghosts of their past love lives. The project’s name actually came from a joke — Smith jokingly referred to Lotterud as “Anna of the North” and the name stuck.
The release of their debut single “Sway” three years ago began an incredible run of attention grabbing singles that have received over 60 million streams across every streaming service, multiple number 1 spots on Hype Machine’s charts and rotation on BBC Radio 1, Triple J and Beats 1 — and in many ways that shouldn’t be surprising as the duo’s sound pairs brooding, icy minimalism with bright, buoyant and radio friendly/dance floor friendly production.
The duo’s highly-anticipated full length effort Lovers is slated for release on September 8, 2017 and reportedly the album’s material focuses on a subject familiar to the duo and to countless others — heartbreak. And through the album’s ten tracks, the album goes through the various emotional stages people typically feel after a relationship ends, including turmoil, grief, confusion, and the tentative joy in letting yourself start moving forward. Of course, along with that there’s the recognition that knowing love, including its inevitable heartbreak is necessary and wonderful because it opens up the possibility to know love once more.
Interestingly, the album’s latest single, album title track “Lovers” pairs a production featuring layers of shimmering synths, buoyant almost rubbery beats and a soaring hook with Lotterud’s tender and aching vocals, expressing a desperate an urgent longing that’s frustrated and can’t be fulfilled.
The recently released visuals for “Lovers” features Lotterud at a party by herself surrounded by couples — and in some way she’s haunted by the fact her relationship has fallen apart. As the duo explains “On a literal level, the video is about being lost at a house party and surrounded by couples when your own relationship has fallen apart. Digging deeper, it’s set in the same place as the song, that point when you feel so alone and you’re reaching out but they’re not reaching back. It’s desperate”