Comprised of Nigerian-born, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada-based singer/songwriter Deelo and Canadian-born, Ottawa-based producer and director Julian Strangelove, the up-and-coming electro pop duo Garçons can trace their origins back to when the duo initially met back in […]
Polo & Pan are a Paris-based electronic music production and DJ duo, comprised of Paul Armand “Polocorp” Delille, and Alexandre “Peter Pan” Grynszpan, both of whom are acclaimed artists in their own right. Grynszpan has developed a reputation for being an insatiable crate digger, who has been known to collect a wide and diverse array of records from musical gems of the early 20th century to contemporary electronica and electro pop to 70s Nepalese psych rock and so on. Unsurprisingly Grynszpan is one of the founders of Radiooooo, an online encyclopedic radio station that was launched back in 2013. Delille is best known for his work with MAD Agency creating workspaces for artists in industrial warehouses but also as a renowned DJ; in fact, both Grynszpan and Delille were resident DJs at Le Baron, and when they met, they discovered a common musical interest — creating a genre- and time-defying sound that manages to be dance floor friendly.
The duo’s first release Rivolta found the duo meshing 30s Italian standards with 70s Giorgio Moroder-inspired disco, and their full-length debut Caravelle, which was released earlier this year will further cement the duo’s meshing of genres and time periods to create their difficult to pigeonhole yet wildly crowd pleasing sound. The album’s material draws from the sounds of South America, Tajikistan, China, Congo Africa and elsewhere — and the album’s latest single “Canopee” is a breezy and sultry song that draws from French chanteuse-styled pop, flamenco, thumping Italian disco and African percussion with an effortlessly seamless and slick yet soulful production.
Animated and directed by Bleu Garou, a.k.a. Chiara Luber, the recently released animated video is an exotic and vividly colorful visual that immediately brings The Jungle Book, The Little Prince and Babar to mind as it evokes a mischievous and childlike sense of wonder and awe, while being centered around an old-fashioned love story.
Initially formed back in 2010 as a trio, Cincinnati, OH-based punk rock act Vacation quickly released a slew of tapes, singles and albums through a number of DIY labels while playing pop-inspired punk shows throughout the Midwest and the rest of the country. Since their formation, the band has expanded into a quartet while managing to balance prolificacy with a relentless touring schedule that has had the Cincinnati-based punk rockers opening for the likes of The Breeders, JOVM mainstays Screaming Females, The Black Lips, and others.
Back in 2016 Vacation recorded a two-part album Southern Grass: The Continuation of Rock ‘n’ Roll, a miscellaneous collection of basement punk ephemera, and by the time of the album’s release that July, the members of the band had returned to the studio to write and record their latest album Mouth Sounds #2699 slated for a release through Bloomington, IN-based Let’s Pretend Records later this week. Engineered by The Afghan Whigs‘ John Curley at Ultraseude Studio, Mouth Sounds #2699 reportedly finds the band at their most experimental with songs that nod at Tom Petty, krautrock and punk rock; in fact, the album’s latest single “Deflector Head” is a prime example of what the band specializes in — ragged, gritty and rousingly anthemic punk with decidedly Cheap Trick-like power pop leanings. It’s the sort of song that you should raise your beer as high as possible and shout along lustily to the hook — as rock ‘n’ roll should make you do.
The Rah’s are an up-and-coming Prestonpans, East Lothian, Scotland-based quintet, comprised of founding members Jack McLeod, Jordan McIntyre, Neale Gray and Andrew McLeod, along with newest member Lee Brown, who have cited Jimi Hendrix, Arctic Monkeys, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones — and while regionally, they’ve developed a reputation for an energetic live show, over the past few years they’ve been experimenting with their sound and songwriting approach with the result being their anthemic, 90s Brit Pop “Survival,” a massive power chord-based single that sounds inspired by the likes of Kasabian, The Hives, and Foo Fighters.
Filmed and edited by Carousel Films, the recently released video for “Survival” features the band performing over superimposed stock footage of political and social unrest, war, climate change and destruction — all of which echo our current world in an uncanny fashion.
The Los Angeles-based, the dream pop duo United Ghosts, comprised of Sha Shabi, who came to Southern California after stints in New York and San Francisco; and German-born Axel Ray, who spent a 12 year stint in London before relocating to the States — although on some level, it’s a bit of a misnomer, as they’ve received attention for a classic 4AD Records-like sound centered around boy-girl harmonizing and draws from dream pop, psych rock, shoegaze and krautrock.
The duo’s 2013 full-length, self-titled debut and its follow up, Dear Electric Sun EP received airplay from BBC’s Steve Lamacq and Lauren Laverne, KCSN’s Nic Harcourt, KLOS’ Mark Sovel and XFM’s John Kennedy and a number of others. And after three successful UK and European Union tours, a number of Stateside dates that included CMJ and SXSW, followed by an L.A. residency, the duo of Shabi returned to the studio to work on their Mark Rains and Axel Ray co-produced sophomore album, Saturn Days, an album that thematically and lyrically explores modern life, love and disconnect in a world that’s equally dystopian and beautiful, in which hope is laced with paranoia and where dreaming your way out might be the only chance to survive.
Saturn Days’ latest single “Waves,” will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting material 4AD Records-era dream pop, the prerequisite shimmering guitar chords, motorik grooves, enormous power chord-based soloing and dreamy boy-girl harmonies — but with a subtly modern touch,.
The recently released video for “Saturn Days” is comprised of performance footage of the members of United Ghosts with their live band shot by Arian Soheli with superimposed drone footage by Steve Payne, underwater footage by Alex V. and images of Saturn courtesy of NASA and the Saturn Cassini mission.
Comprised of childhood friends Chris, TJ and Daniel, the London-based trio The Leo Star Electric Band have developed a reputation for raucous live sets, including an infamous one where they destroyed the stage, and were accused of ruining Christmas by Stevie Wonder‘s manager, Keith Harris — and for doing whatever they need to, to make a gig, including using forged passports to get into Paris to play a show. And perhaps as a result, they’ve managed to open for the likes of Melt Banana and Dev Hynes‘ The Red In Sophia Loren.
Thankfully, they’ve yet to be arrested for any of that; but sonically speaking, the band says their mission is to create fucked up pop songs for the masses, and as you’ll hear from the band’s debut single “Soft & Gentle,” they specialize in a scuzzy power chord-based sound that brings 90s grunge rock immediately to mind, complete with the familiar (and beloved) loud, quiet, loud structure, rousingly anthemic hooks, pounding drums and angst-driven harmonizing; but underneath the angst, the song reveals the bleeding and sensitive heart of its creators, as the song was written as an ode to a number of people the bandmembers have have loved and lost.
Although I’ve suffered a number of frustrating technological setbacks, you may recall that last month, I wrote about Phantasmic Furniture, the garage rock/guitar pop side project (of sorts) of acclaimed singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin and a collection of some of her closest and dearest friends, Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan K. Brennan. And as the story goes, the band can trace their origins to a birthday gathering in a Sydney, Australia-based bar to celebrate Jacklin’s 24th birthday. At some point, a group hug had manifested itself with all ten of the group’s hug participants, drunkenly promising to start a band together. “Only four of us remembered,” Hughes recalls. The band’s core and founding members bonded over a mutual love and appreciation for fern-related puns and leisurewear, and they would meet up whenever their individual schedules would allow, writing songs and playing smatterings of live dates to an increasingly devoted audience.
Eventually, Jacklin, Hughes and Brennan decided that Phantastic Ferniture wasn’t a side project, and they should focus on writing and recording an album together, centered around the fact that the band would be a lot more spontaneous and less technical than their individual pursuits. “That was the fun part,” Jacklin says in press notes. “Ryan never played drums in bands, Liz had never been a lead guitarist, Tom didn’t play bass and I’d never just sung before.” Hughes adds “We wanted a low level of expertise, because a lot of good music comes from people whose passion exceeds their skill.”
Slated for a July 27, 2018 release through Transgressive Records, Phantastic Ferniture’s self-titled debut finds the band adopting a mantra of not overthinking — of focusing on the urgency of the moment, while being whimsical. “Gap Year,” the second single off the band’s full-length debut is a 90s alt rock-like track that struck me as owning and spiritual debut to PJ Harvey. “Bad Timing,” the third and latest single of the single continues on a somewhat similar vein as its immediate predecessor — rollicking indie rock with a cinematic sweep centered around a propulsive rhythm section, psych rock-like guitar pyrotechnics and a soaring hook.
The recently released video for “Bad Timing” continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with director Nick Mckk and the video finds the band mischievously employing the use of fern imagery — with some friends holding potted ferns in front of the band members. At one point, you even see them put a fern-related puzzle together — because, of course! As the band’s Jacklin says in press notes, “We have to really thank all of our friends who came and made this clip with us. It turned out to be quite a painful process but probably good for our dwindling musician specific fitness levels. I think all our arms were aching for about a week after. I think anyone who is already on the fence in regards to our use of fern imagery is going to really hate us after watching this. We had also just got back our puzzle that features on the cover of our record and were putting it together while we waited for each shot to be set up.”
Throughout the course of this site’s eight year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brooklyn dance pop act and JOVM mainstays Rubblebucket. Although the band has gone through a number of lineup changes and iterations, there’s one thing that’s been consistent — founding duo and primary songwriters Alex Toth (trumpet, vocals, percussion) and Kalmia Traver (lead vocals, tenor sax and baritone sax). Toth and Traver can trace the origins of their collaboration to when they met while playing in Burlington, VT-based Latin jazz act. Quickly bonding over being horn players, a love of Afrobeat and Afro pop, and their preternatural connection, the duo relocated to Boston in 2006, where they did fairly respectable things to survive — Traver spent time as a nude model for art classes, while Toth spent time hustling $50 a performance marching band gigs. And while being completely broke in Boston, the duo began Rubblebucket.
Relocating to Brooklyn some years later, Toth and Traver, along with a fully-fleshed out band emerged on to the national scene with the release of 2011’s critically applauded sophomore album Omega La La, and an already established reputation for a relentless touring schedule full of ecstatic, energetic and mischievous, dance party-like live sets. Since Omega La La, Rubblebucket’s recorded output has revealed a band that has graduated crafted, then cemented a signature sound — and with their most recent releases, subtly expanding upon it. Simultaneously, Traver fully stepped into the role of the band’s frontperson with a growing self-assuredness.
Slated for an August 24, 2018 release through Grand Jury Music, Sun Machine, Rubblebucket’s fifth full-length album may arguably be among the most personal that Traver and Toth have ever written as the album’s material is largely inspired by the end of the duo’s longterm romantic relationship and the duo’s deep and lasting connection both personally and creatively but the album also draws from a number of major life-changing events over the past few years — namely Kalmia Traver’s diagnosis with ovarian cancer back in 2013, followed by rounds of surges and chemotherapy treatments; Alex Toth’s decision to get sober after a long struggle with alcoholism; and the couple’s three-year-long attempt at maintaining an open relationship. Reportedly, the end result is something strange, complex and beautiful in its own right, as the material still finds the duo crafting ebullient party jams rooted in a radical mindfulness while also an aching breakup album, imbued not with bitterness and accusation, but with a palpable love, making it the rare album with a truly kind and adult sensibility. Musically and sonically speaking, the album reportedly finds Rubblebucket’s duo tapping back into their jazz training with many moments throughout the album completely driven by improvisation. “There’s a lot of moments on this album that happened from us being in a trance-like zone, and coming up with weird sounds in the middle of recording, sometimes by accident,” Alex Toth says in press notes. But at its core, the duo hope that the album will encourage listeners and fans to see the possibility of transformation in painful experiences. ” When I got cancer and Alex quit drinking, that was the beginning of a huge journey for both of us,” Kalmia Traver says. “So much of that journey has been about giving myself the freedom to exist on my own terms, believing in my ideas instead of self-editing. I think this album represents both of us allowing ourselves that freedom in a totally new way, and hopefully it’ll give people inspiration to be creative in their own lives, and to just soften up a bit too.”
The album’s second single “Lemonade,” was written by Toth, who notes, “As the lyrics came together I realized I was kind of writing the song from Kal’s perspective, singing to me. I didn’t know what project the song was for (my solo record, a friend’s band, a pop star?) but when Kal and I realized Rubblebucket wasn’t ending with our breakup, but gaining new life, this song made perfect sense.” As a result, the song manages to convey a confusing array of emotions — wistful and bittersweet reminiscing over what once was and will never be again; the joy of knowing rare, sweet, frustrating and profound love and always having that connection with someone, even if they may have been an asshole at some point; the realization that the closure that everyone talks about is utterly impossible in this life; and the hope of maybe one day stumbling upon that sort of love again. Sonically, the song meshes swinging jazz, thumping and breezy pop with an aching, old school ballad in a way that’s vivacious and life affirming in a necessary way. We all know that life can be wondrous and heartbreaking — sometimes simultaneously, sometimes independently; but love and music make it all easier in the end.
Traver and Toth are in the middle of a tour to build up buzz, and then to support their new album. Check out the remaining tour dates below.
7/5: Burlington, VT @ Battery Park (The Point Summer Series)
7/7: Portland, ME @ Thompson’s Point^
7/13: Canandaigua NY @ Lincoln Hill Farms#
8/1: Troy, NY @ WEQX Riverfront Event+
8/2: Dennis, MA @ Cape Cinema+
8/3: Westerly, RI @ Paddy’s Beach Club
8/4: Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes+
9/8: Holyoke, MA @ Gateway City Arts
10/6: Arrington, VA @ The Festy
10/25: Fairfield, CT @ Warehouse
10/26: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
10/27: Washington, DC @ Black Cat
10/29: Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle
10/30: Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge
10/31: Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
11/2: Burnett, TX @ Utopia Fest
11/4: Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
11/6: Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
11/7: San Francisco, CA @ August Hall
11/9: Seattle, WA @ Neumos
11/10: Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
11/12: Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
11/13: Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
11/14: Denver, CO @ Gothic Theatre
11/17: Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
^ w/ Lake Street Dive
# Star Rover supports
+ And the Kids supports
Currently cloaked in a bit of mystery, the reclusive members of the up-and-coming indie rock act ilu split their time writing, recording and residing in Tallinn, Estonia and rural Wales, and from their first official single “Graffiti Hen Ewrop,” the Estonian-Welsh band specialize in a sound that draws from krautrock and shoegaze as the song is centered around a motorik groove, swirling feedback, shimmering keys, ethereal vocals, angular bass chords and a soaring hook — but underneath the song’s anthemic nature, is an aching and wistful longing.
As the band notes, the song’s lyrics came in a rather organic fashion, as they were driving around a snowy Tallinn on Christmas Day, full of deep grief and sadness. “I had just lost my father a few months before moving to Tallinn and I was dealing with my grief and my own confusion that was crippling at the time. The album was written and recorded there in a small flat in Merivälja looking across the harbour over at the old medieval town, it is very much a journey back into the light”.