Portuguese DJ and production duo Bubba Brothers — Eliseo Correia and Justino Santos — formed back in 2015. Over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Portuguese JOVM mainstays, and during that period they have developed and maintained a reputation for being remarkably prolific, releasing a growing collection of club friendly bangers.
Building upon their growing reputation for being prolific, the duo released the Visions EP earlier this year. The EP featured “Black Beach,” a track that saw the duo pairing deep house with Balearic house and built around glistening synth arpeggio-driven melodies, skittering beats, twinkling percussion and euphoria-inducing hooks. The song as the duo explain was inspired by and written on Iceland’s famous Black Beach — but somehow manages to evoke swelling summer nights and sweaty clubs.
Visions EP‘s latest single “Bobby’s Dream” continues the duo’s remarkable run of club rocking, deep house bangers. Built around skittering tweeter and woofer rattling thump, a sampled Rastafarian meditation, glistening synths and enormous hooks, “Bobby’s Dream” is a woozy and dream-like banger.
The accompanying video continues for “Bobby’s Dream,” the Portuguese JOVM mainstays’ ongoing collaboration with Eduardo Raposo. Much like “Black Beach,” the video for “Bobby’s Dream” is shot in a cinematic and breathtakingly gorgeous black and white, and follows a young man attempting to fall asleep and having a surreal and incredibly vivid dream.
Los Angeles-based dream pop duo Mirrorball — singer/songwriter Alexandra Johnstone and multi-instrumentalist and composer Scott Watson — features two local indie scene veterans. Following a successful debut back in 2019 with two songs as part of a singles series released on Dangerbird Records, the duo caught the attention of acclaimed producer Chris Coady.
The duo would meet up with Coady at Sunset Sound to discuss and plan their next recording. And over the next few months, they wound up forging a special bond with the acclaimed producer, which resulted in the duo’s forthcoming EP which will showcase the band’s unique dreamy and nostalgic pop sound.
Mirrorball’s latest single “Red Hot Dust” is a gorgeous and brooding track built around twinkling keys, a subtle yet supple bass line and propulsive drumming paired with Johnstone’s gorgeous and expressive vocal. While sonically bringing a synthesis of Beach House, Scott Walker, and 70s AM rock, the song evokes a woozy yet familiar surviving through the perceived end of the world sensation that we’ve all lived through these last couple of years.
Mirrorball’s Alexandra Johnstone explains that “Red Hot Dust” was written “during difficult times as a way of forcing some light to the surface because I wanted to feel like I could go home again at a time when I could not physically go home.”
Acclaimed Newcastle-based outfit Lanterns on the Lake‘s recently released nine-song album Versions of Us is an existential meditation examining life’s possibilities; facing the hand we’ve been dealt and the question of whether we can change our individual and collective destinies. Ultimately, the album’s material may be the most hopeful of their growing catalog to date.
It shouldn’t be surprising that for the band’s frontperson Hazel Wilde, that motherhood has fundamentally shifted her perspective. “Writing songs requires a certain level of self-indulgence, and songwriters can be prone to dwelling on themselves,” Wilde says. “Motherhood made me aware of having a different stake in the world. I’ve got to believe that there’s a better way and an alternative future to the one we’ve been hurtling towards. I’ve also got to believe that I could be better as a person, too.”
Given some of the album’s themes, there’s a biting irony to the album’s creative process: An entire previous version of the album was scrapped. Mental health struggles and personal problems within the band impacted how the initial version of the album took shape. “Despite trying everything we could to make it work, we reached the point where we just had to stop,” Wilde explains. Ol Ketteringham (drums) left the band, something that Wilde says was “heartbreakingly difficult as we were and still are extremely close.”
The band scrapped nearly a year’s worth of work, regressing to song demos with just Wilde performing with a single instrument, as they began again with Radiohead‘s Philip Selway joining the album sessions on drums and percussion. “Philip brought an energy to the songs that reignited our belief in them,” Wilde says. “Within a few weeks we had a whole other version of the album and things felt very different,” the Lanterns on the Lake frontperson continues. “We had changed the destiny of the record.”
Version of Us‘ latest single “Rich Girls” is a big, heart-worn-on-sleeve anthem built around a relentlessly propulsive rhythm section, shoegazer-like guitar textures, buzzing synths, soaring violin passages paired with Wilde’s plaintive delivery and the band’s unerring knack for rousingly anthemic hooks and choruses. But underneath the brooding atmospherics is a narrator struggling to get past the unwieldy weight of life’s difficulties, and who expresses the desire to occasionally fake being happy, being sane or feeling competent and on on — if only for a few minutes.
The live footage of “Rich Girls” was recorded at the Old Church in Northumberland.
Kool Keith has a long-held reputation for being one of hip-hop’s most eccentric and unusual characters, as well as one of the genre’s most prolific artists, recording and releasing 33 albums as a solo artist and through a number of different collaborations, including the legendary Ultramagnetic MCs.
The Bronx-born emcee’s 34th album, Black Elvis 2 is the long-awaited sequel to 1999’s Black Elvis/Lost in Space. The album is slated for a June 16, 2023 release through Mello Music Group and features guest spots from Marc Live, Raaddrr Van, Dynamite, Agallah and Ice-T. Sonically, the album reportedly sees the legendary and eccentric Bronx-born emcee taking his information-age rhymes to a whole new label with a sound that’s equal parts street shit hip-hop and outer space.
Black Elvis 2′s latest single “The Formula” is a partial Analog Brothers reunion featuring Marc Live, a.k.a. Marc Moog and Ice T, a.k.a. Ice Oscillator alongside Kool Keith, a.k.a. Black Elvis and Keith Kong. Marc Live’s eerie street boom-bap meets outer space production built around shimmering and atmospheric synths and skittering boom bap beats that’s roomy enough for each emcee to spit swaggering bars full of pop culture references and mayhem with each emcee seemingly pushing each other. But by far, it’s probably the hardest and most menacing you’ve heard Ice-T in quite some time.
Over the past couple of years of this site’s 13 year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Antananarivo, Madagascar-based JOVM mainstays LohArano. Since their formation, the Malagasy metal outfit — Mahalia Ravoajanahary (vocals, guitar), Michael Raveloson (bass, vocals) and Natiana Randrianasoloson (drums, vocals) — have received attention both nationally and internationally for a unique, boundary pushing sound that features elements of popular and beloved Malagasy musical styles like Tsapiky and Salegy with heavy metal.
LohArano’s sound and approach represents a bold generation of Malagasy young people that still honor, reveres and respects the traditions and practices of their elders, but are also inspired by contemporary Western genres and styles.
Continuing upon their reputation for being one of the hardest working and prolific acts in the global scene, the Malagasy trio recently released their latest EP Bae Nosy, which translates into English as “beloved island.” Bae Nosy EP‘s latest single, EP title track “Bae Nosy” is a urgent, mosh pit friendly ripper built around rumbling down-tuned bass, thunderous drumming and Tom Morello-like guitar work paired with Mahalia Ravoajanahary furious roar. But at its core, the song evokes a very modern sense of nihilism and ennui with the song thematically suggesting that everything’s gone to shit, so we might as well have a little fun and enjoy our loved ones for a few minutes at least.
The Malagasy JOVM mainstays are currently on tour across the UK and France. Their French tour features opening slots for the legendary Fishbone. Adding to a growing national and international profile, “Bae Nosy” has received airplay from FERAROCK, which broadcasts across France, Switzerland, Belgium and Canada. The track has also received praise from Best Magazine. The EP’s previous single “Koitra,” landed on Spotify’s All New Metal and New Blood playlists, Deezer’s Metal Detector and Women of Metal playlists, Tidal’s New Metal playlist and over 250 other playlists. The track also has received airplay from over 50 radio stations globally. They’re taking over the world — and you’ve heard it from me first.
With the release of 2016’s full-length debut Abstract Figures in the Dark, the Brighton-based rock trio Tigercub — Jamie Hall (vocals, guitar), Jamies Allix (drums) and Jimi Wheelwright (bass) — exploded into the scene, with the band quickly earning praise for dynamic songwriting and a bruising sound influenced by a diverse range of influences including Led Zeppelin, Slipknot, Sonic Youth and Frédéric Chopin.
The Brighton-based trio’s acclaimed sophomore album, As Blue As Indigo saw the band broadening the massive sonic palette that won them attention while incorporating a deeply personal introspection with lyrics that thematically explored anxiety, depression, toxic masculinity, the death of Hall’s grandmother and the suicide of a close friend. As Blue As Indigo turned out to be the British outfit’s breakthrough: The album rose to #11 on the UK Albums Charts while receiving praise from the international media, including Guitar.com and Kerrang!
The band’s third album, the recently released The Perfume of Decay sees the band confidently embracing all the contradictions, counterpoints and catharsis of modern-day rock. “It’s all about opposites,” Tigercub’s Jamie Hall says. “Sweet-and-salty popcorn tends to taste better than regular popcorn, even though those are two opposing forces. I wanted to nail that concept with our heavy guitars, softer-sung vocals, Can-style grooves, and a bit of shoegaze. Counterpoints can come together and make a powerful connection. I’ve crossed the threshold from my 20s to my 30s, so I’m getting older, but I’m also entering my prime. This record is a reflection of that.”
The album sees Tigercub’s frontman drawing the curtains shut to embrace a moody, nocturnal sound. “The Perfume of Decay is set at night,” says Jamie Hall. “It was written at night, I recorded all the vocals at night, and it is at night when my thoughts race and uneasiness pours through me like running water. Under the glimmer of moonlight, my apprehension ebbs and flows like the tide and it doesn’t stop until the morning. Perfume is a diary of my emotional journey from dusk to dawn, an anxiety-fueled voyage through the storm. Lyrically, at points, it is almost a stream of consciousness. I sat up late and wrote the words down as they flashed before my eyes.
“I use my songwriting as a form of catharsis,” he adds, “a tool to examine my anxiety and insecurity about growing older and how those emotions seem to lead me towards turmoil. I pour those feelings into my lyrics and only then can I move on from them.”
The album’s latest single “Show Me My Maker” is a swaggering, arena rock banger built around enormous, overdrive-fueled, Soundgarden-like power chords, thunderous drumming paired with enormous hooks and a nihilistic refrain. Play it loud, it’s Friday, y’all — and it’s time to headbang.
“‘Show Me My Maker’ speaks for itself,” Pearl Jam’s and Loosegroove Records head Stone Gossard says. “This song has classic guts. The opening cobra strikes of a guitar riff… it’s seriously in the running for ‘mother of all riffs’ to the nihilistic exultation of the chorus refrain. I love it. Thank you Tigercub.”
Tigercub is about to embark on an international tour that includes a June 8, 2023 stop at Bowery Ballroom.
Jonatan K. Magnussen is a singer/songwriter and musician, best known for being the frontman of Copenhagen-based goth outfit The Love Coffin. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months, you might recall that Magnussen recently stepped into the spotlight as a solo artist with his side recording project Chopper. And with Chopper, the Danish artist specializes in what he has dubbed “shock pop,” a crowd-pleasing sound that draws from Eurodance, glam rock, industrial, disco and B horror movies.
Magnussen’s upcoming Chopper effort, the mini-album Shock Pop Vol. 1 is slated for a June 16, 2023 release through Pink Cotton Candy Records. The mini-album reportedly sees the Danish artist continuing to explore inherent dualities of the human condition while touching upon love, sexuality and carefree joy. Sonically, the album’s material is influenced by Pet Shop Boys, Skinny Puppy and Underworld — but placed in a modern context.
In the lead up to Shock Pop Vol. 1‘s release, I’ve written about two of the mini-album’s previously released singles:
“Springtime,” a sleazy, dance floor friendly banger built around Magnussen’s sultrily delivered cooing, shimmering guitars, industrial clang and clatter, glistening synths and enormous, crowd pleasing hooks. The end result is a song — that to my ears — brings Electronic, New Order and Ministry to mind, while rooted in sleek, hyper modern production and razor sharp hooks. But underneath the dance floor rocking grooves, is something far darker and menacing. Written during the pandemic winter, the song illuminates the feelings of longing and isolation — capturing the desire to be out among friends, to meet lovers, to just do things with anyone.
“Sugar and Spice” which begins with a brooding horn line, twinkling synths and percussion, a sinuous bass line and tweeter and woofer rattling thump paired with Magnussen’s and Glitchi‘s sultry deliveries and enormous Larry Levan-era house-like hooks. The end result is a sweaty and hedonistic banger that to my ears sounds like a slick synthesis of Ministry, The Sisters of Mercy and Electronic.
Shock Pop Vol. 1′s third and latest single “Touch,” which features vocalist Ama May continues a remarkable run of sleazy, dance floor friendly bangers. But unlike its immediate predecessors, “Touch” is a sleek, slickly produced synthesis of the Madchester sound, eurodance, Larry Levan-era house and French touch built around the Danish artist’s penchant for infectious groove and enormous hooks.
The accompanying video continues along in the sleazy, DIY-meets-public access TV aesthetic of its predecessors and includes the collaborators in a strobe and laser lit club, mutants and more.
RHYS is an acclaimed Texas-based producer, who has developed a reputation for a boundary pushing take on electronic music that features elements of deep house, melodic house, industrial house and ambient dub among others.
The Texan producer’s latest single “Venus” is a meticulous and seemingly effortlessly crafted banger built around a glistening synth melody that weaves its way through oscillating synths and a hypnotic groove paired with skittering and propulsive beats and an expansive song structure. The end result is a song that’s cinematic yet club friendly in a way that reminds me of Between Two Selves-era Octo Octa.
Montréal-based psych rock trio Population II — Pierre-Luc Gratton (vocals, drums), Tristan Lacombe (guitar, keys) and Sébastien Provençal (bass) — can trace their origin back a long way and are inextricably linked to their teenage memories. After years of jamming to the point of developing a unique sense of telepathy, the trio began recording independently released material that caught the attention of Castle Face Records head and The Oh Sees‘ frontman John Dwyer, who released the band’s full-length debut, 2020’s À la Ô Terre, an album that saw the band displaying their mastery of improvised madness and sophisticated composition. Their heavy take on psych rock is rooted in their restless and relentless work on refining their imposing and unpretentious and sound and approach which frequently infuses feverish funk rhythms, jazz philosophy, punk rock energy and a love of minor scales that recalls the roots of heavy metal.
The Montréal-based psych outfit then spent the better pat of the next two years touring to support their full-length debut, which included stops at SXSW, Pop Montréal, Toronto, NYC, and Quebec City.
This past winter, Population II signed with Bonsound‘s label, booking and publishing arms. The tastemaking Montréal-based label recently released “Beau baptême,” the first bit of new material from the rising French Canadian outfit since 2020’s À la Ô Terre. Built around a fairly traditional song structure — verse, chorus, verse, bridge — “Beau baptême” is roomy enough for buzzing power chord-driven riffs, mind-melting grooves paired with Gratton’s ethereal crooning. The end result is a song that sees the trio deftly balancing a jazz-like improvisational like sensibility with the tight restraint of a deliberately crafted composition.
“Beau baptême” explores the psychological journey around inspiration and focuses on the very genesis of ideas — namely how ideas are actually born and the opinions they generate. Throughout the song, the band’s Pierre-Luc Gratton sings about how writing can sometimes happen with ease and spontaneity and sometimes requires deep, long reflection. Fittingly, the song is rooted in a lived-in specificity.