Small Planets is a Los Angeles-based post punk act, comprised of founding trio Jeff Love (guitars), Josh Spincic (bass) and Phil Drazic (drums) with Jessica Hernandez (vocals) and Ryan Silo (guitar) that can trace its origins to when its founding trio caught Slowdive play a show at The Ace Theater back in 2015. After an exhaustive two year search, the band added Jessica Hernandez and Ryan Silo to complete their lineup — and with their lineup finalized, they developed a sound that has been described as Interpol meets Joy Division and The Cure.

Last year, the band went into the studio with Joshua Mazzachi to record their recently released self-titled full-length debut, an album that finds the band writing a love letter to the classic and beloved post-punk sound. “Tonight,” their self-titled debut’s single is a perfect example of the band’s sound: centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, an angular, a propulsive bass line, dramatic drumming, Hernandez’s ethereal yet plaintive vocals. And while indebted to 4AD Records, the aforementioned The Cure and Joy Division and others, the track is imbued with a subtly modern and loving touch.

 

 

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Initially formed as an ambitious octet that played at the London Jazz Festival and other venues across London featuring founding member and creative mastermind Leo Appleyard (guitar, music), Agne Motie (vocals, lyrics), Duncan Eagles (soprano sax), Piers Green (alto sax), Hoagy Plastow (tenor sax), Paul Jordanous (keys) Holley Grey (bass) and Chris Nickolls (drums), the London-based act Urchin has evolved to become the solo recording project of its founding member and creative mastermind. 
Last year, Appleyard took a break from his life as a gigging musician and relocated to Melbourne, Australia, where he took in the city’s renowned music scene — in particular house, disco and modern jazz from the Fitzroy and Brunswick districts. Unsurprisingly, his most recent EP, Take Time, which was released earlier this year is a reflection of the time he spent in Melbourne, soaking up a new scene while drawing from the likes of acclaimed British acts like Bonobo, Maribou State and The Cinematic Orchestra. The EP’s latest single “Night Light” is a breezy and up-tempo dance floor friendly track centered around strutting Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a soaring and infectious hook, thumping beats and atmospheric electronics. Sonically, the song bears a resemblance to When the Night-era St. Lucia, as it’s indebted to 80s synth pop — but with a clean, modern sheen.

 

 

Melbourne, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Harmony Byrne grew up in a Mormon family, the third of seven children. Early on, she was instilled with a love for church hymns and rock ‘n’ roll, both of which would heavily inform her own life and later, her own music. After enrolling into Melbourne’s Waldorf School of the Arts, Byrne devoted her time to learning guitar and piano, eventually developing her own original material.

Slated for a Spring 2020 release, the Melbourne-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s Jim Eno-produced, 10 song full length debut Heavy Doors reportedly features material that evokes the work of Jeff Buckley, Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin. Although to my ears, the album’s latest single, the incredibly cathartic  “Come Down vs. Calm Down” manages to bring John Lee Hooker, The Black Keys, PJ Harvey and Heartless BastardsErika Wennerstrom to mind, as the track is centered around a looping and shimmering 12 bars blues guitar line, simple yet forceful percussion and Harmony’s expressive and searing wailing, which effortlessly evokes heartache and triumph within the turn of a phrase. It’s a song that comes from lived-in experience, so the hurt and the catharsis at its core are familiar and real.

“In essence it’s a song about mental health,” Harmony says of the track. “It started as a cathartic vocal improvisation, allowing whatever came to mind to be sung. Through this process, words that kept reoccurring later became lyric. I feel there is darkness hidden in our minds that often engulfs us, which although hard to talk about, is important to express. 

“I wanted to convey this in the song and for it to feel like a victorious roar of will, showing that through really digging in and knowing who we are and how we deserve to be treated, that we can overcome our monkey minds. It may seem like it’s an angry break up song, but really it’s about the different voices in our heads that we battle with every day.”

New Audio: Magic Sword Releases an Epic Funky New Single off Their Soon-to-Be Released Sophomore EP

Magic Sword is a multimedia project heavily indebted to 70s and 80s fantasy and sci-fi: featuring three masked and cloaked members, only known as The Keeper, The Seer and The Weaver, who are also collectively known as The Three Immortals. Their ageless story of their role in the battle between good and evil is told through graphic novels and occasionally online by a character known as The Harbinger. Magic Sword’s musical output is the soundtrack to their graphic novel — and unsurprisingly, their debut EP Legend was the first chapter of The Three Immortals quest to find the chosen one. 

Slated for release this Friday through Joyful Noise Recordings, Awakening EP is the highly-awaited follow up to Legend. As the second chapter, the material continues the ongoing story of The Three Immortals’ quest to find the chosen one, the only one who has the ability to wield the power of the Magic Sword and defeat the Dark One. Now, earlier this year I wrote about the EP’s first single, the epic retro-futuristic John Carpenter-inspired soundtrack meets 1984-era Van Halen-like title track “Awakening.” The EP’s latest single “Lady of Light” may be the funkiest track on the EP, as it’s centered around a funky and strutting bass line, layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, reminiscent of Daft Punk — and much like its immediate predecessor, the track finds the act balancing slick production with a decidedly retro-futuristic soundtrack vibe. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Orielles Release a Trippy Visual for Psych Freak Out “Down On Jupiter”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the rapidly rising Halifax, UK-based act The Orielles. And as you may recall, theca which was founded by Sidonie B. Hand-Halford (drums) her younger sister, Esmé Dee Hand-Halford and their best friend Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar, vocals) built up a great deal of buzz surrounding them, when Heavenly Recordings‘ head Jeff Barrett signed the band after catching them open for labelmates The Parrots in late 2016.

2017’s full-length debut Silver Dollar Moment found the band further establishing a genre-defying sound that meshed elements of psych rock, pop and disco centered around  surrealistic observations of every day life. After the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, the band expanded into a quartet when they recruited Alex Stephens (keys) — and with their newest member, they went into the studio to record  “Bobbi’s Second World” and a cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane)” that found the band’s sound playfully (and increasingly) leaning in the direction of early 80s Talking Heads, ESG and others while still being centered around rock-based instrumentation.

A year has passed since I’ve last written about the JOVM mainstays and as it turns out they were busy working on their highly-anticipated, forthcoming sophomore album Disco Volador. “Its literal interpretation from Spanish means flying disc but everyone experiences things differently. Disco Volador could be a frisbee, a UFO, an alien nightclub or how you feel when you fly; what happens to your body physically or that euphoric buzz from a great party,” the band’s Esme Dee Halford suggests in press notes. “But it is an album of escape; if I went to space, I might not come back.” Slated for a February 28, 2019 release, Disco Volador continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with producer Marta Salogni while reportedly finding the quartet pushing their sonic horizon to its outer limits, as astral travelers of sort, crating progressive and trippy tunes that sonically draws from and meshes cinematic samba, 70s disco, boogie funk, dance floor grooves and 90s acid house — and expanding the influences further to including the work of Italian film score composers Sandro Brugnolini and Piero Umiliami, as well as contemporary acts like Khruangbin and Altin Gun. “All the influences we had when writing this record were present when we recorded it, so we completely understood what we wanted this album to feel like and could bring that to fruition,” the band’s Sidonie B. Hand-Halford explains in press notes. 

The band’s highly-anticipated sophomore album also manages to capture the rapidly rising act in the moment of their post debut album success, which included a lengthy and successful summer tour that included festival stops at Green Man and bluedot. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Come Down On Jupiter” will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting seamless and expansive, genre-defying songs — in this case, you have a slow-burning and brooding intro that quickly morphs into breakneck guitar pop with a psychedelic disco freak out. And while retaining the razor sharp and infectious hooks that won the band attention nationally and internationally, the song is a further example of an insanely versatile band with incredibly dexterous musicianship. 

Directed by Rose Hendry, the recently and incredibly cinematic and hallucinogenic video for “Come Down On Jupiter” was filmed — yes, that’s right it was shot on Kodak film — at Arments Pie and Mash shop in Kensington, London. “When I first heard the track I was immediately transported into some sort of mystery melodrama from another era, with a strong dose of something psychedelic,” Rose Hendry says of the video. “This was my starting point, alongside an image by photographer, Ralph Gibson, of a cup of tea sitting on a beige table, bathed in warm sunlight with a plastic spoon resting against the lip. I enjoyed the idea of centering the video around an incident with a cup of tea — that felt dramatic to me — something “mundane” becoming something dramatic. I wanted to encapsulate the playful psychedelia in a psychological and structural way as opposed to the ‘pastiched to death’ VW campervan kind of way. Add to that toast and the rest developed from there.”

With the release of his debut effort Shivers, the Manchester, UK-based electronic music producer MindMassage quickly emerged into the national and international electronic music scenes: Shivers featured material that landed on Spotify’s USA Viral 50, Canada’s Viral 50 and R&B UK playlist. Building upon a growing profile, the rapidly rising British electronic music producer will be releasing his sophomore album Emotion later this year, and the album will reportedly further establish his ethos of opening himself to new concepts, as well position himself as a unique artist on the contemporary electronic music scene.

“Indecisive,” Emotion‘s latest single is a breezy and vibrant, pop-leaning, club anthem, centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering reverb-drenched synth arpeggios, soulful horn blasts and ethereal yet soulful vocal contributions from Rx and Joshua Benjamin. And while sonically managing to recall Off the Wall-era Michael Jackson and Octo Octa‘s Between Two Sides, the song is essentially an alluring and flirty, late night come on.

 

 

 

Beiju is an up-and-coming French-American musician, who splits her time between New York and Paris. And as you may recall, earlier this year, I wrote about the Bells Atlas and Hiatus Kaiyote-like Lost at the Beach,” a nostalgia-tinged track that was inspired by a weekend trip to the Rockaway with friends. Her latest single “Let’s Go Home” further establishes the emerging pop artist’s unique sound and approach: much like it’s predecessor, the track features Beiju’s alluring vocals floating over a glitchy production featuring stuttering beats, wobbling low end, synth laser blasts — but interestingly enough the song is a straightforward and coquettish come hither, about meeting someone you like at a party and wanting to go back home with them.

 

 

 

 

 

With the release of her debut EP Everything I Know, an effort that has amassed over 500,000 streams, the San Francisco-based pop artist ZOLA quickly emerged into both the local and national scene for a sound and approach that meshes genres, styles and languages. Building upon a growing profile, the emerging San Francisco-based artist’s latest single, the Tim Vickers-produced “Crystal Floors” is a genre–blurring David Lynch-like fever dream as the track is centered around a breezy, Bossa nova rhythms, shimmering synths, a sinuous hook, and Zola’s alluring jazz-inspired vocals singing lyrics in English and French.

 

 

 

New Video: Netherlands Releases a Stark Visual Full of Existential Dread

Formed by its creative mastermind, Timo Ellis, a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has collaborated with Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto, John Zorn, Melvins, Gibby Haynes, Ween, Joan As Police Woman, Spacehog, White Hills and others back in 2010, the New York-based act NETHERLANDS currently features Chealsea “Thee Chuq” Wierbonski, John Musto and Damien Moffitt. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past handful of years, you may recall that the New York-based band has developed a reputation for adhering to a sound and approach that actively rejects restraint for ambitious maximalism featuring pummeling drumming, dexterous guitar shredding, rapid fire tone, tempo and time signature changes — while being remarkably hook-driven in a way that sort of recalls Melvins, Torche, Mastodon and Jane’s Addiction.  

Building upon a growing profile, the members of NETHERLANDS have played with a number of renowned and acclaimed acts across a diverse and eclectic array of genres and styles including Napalm Death, Melt Banana, Mutoid Man, Yob, Black Flag, EYEHATEGOD, Candiria, Valient Thorr, Child Abuse, Mutilation Rites, Primitive Weapons, Freshkills, Vaz, Naam, Martin Rev, The Giraffes, The Death Set, BANGLADEAFY! DN’T, Unstoppable Death Machines, Mouth of the Architect, White Hills, Gull, Godmaker, Spacehog, The Austerity Program, No Way, Moon Tooth and Radkey.

Recalling an industrial-leaning take on King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Murder of the Universe, Netherlands’ latest single “Zombie Techno” retains the pummeling sound and sludgy power chords that has won them attention but while arguably being one of the most danceable — yes, really danceable — songs they’ve released to date.  “The theme of his song, as well as our entire new wave of material, is a comment on the illusion of community and civic participation that’s become the currency of all the new media platforms,” the band’s Timo Ellis explains. “Virtually everyone is constantly feeding overlapping algorithms that are sustained by a near-constant supply of curated narcissism, which while outwardly appearing to be ‘issue driven,’ much more often than not, don’t actually reflect any kind of real world action or real coalition-building or organization, whatsoever.”

Directed and designed by Kenny Curwood, the recently released video for “Zombie Techno” is centered around incredibly stark New Yorker cartoon-like animation, which shows human history and the human condition but through the lens of psychedelic, existential dread. Ultimately, the visual features an indifferent universe that sarcastically smirks and mocks humanity’s attempt to make meaning of their lives, as well as putting existence to a danceable rhythm.  

New Audio: Midnight Hour Releases a Quiet Storm-Inspired New Single

Led by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, arranger and producer, the team behind the score for the acclaimed Netflix series Luke Cage, the 10 member ensemble The Midnight Hour also features multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Loren Oden and Angela Munoz and guitarist Jack Waterson. Last year, the ensemble released their self-titled debut, which established their sound: jazz and orchestral inspired soul and hip-hop heavily inspired by David Axelrod, Quincy Jones and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr.

Since the release of their full-length debut, the ensemble has been rather busy: Linear Labs has released Jack Waterson’s psych rock solo album Adrian Younge Presents Jack Waterson earlier this year with full-lengths from the ensemble’s Oden and Munoz slated for release in the coming months. And as you may recall, the ensemble’s long-awaited sophomore album is also slated for release early next year. 

Midnight Hour 2’s first single is a mesmerizing and gorgeous, Quiet Storm meets neo-like bit of soul, centered around an enormous sounding Barry White/Curtis Mayfield-era arrangement, complete with shimmering strings and the like. And yet, the star of the show is Oden’s plaintive vocals, which express an aching vulnerability and yearning — the sort that comes from being madly and passionately in love. As Muhammad and Younge note, the song “is a song for those that have felt a special spark of love, in the moment.”