Earlier this month, I wrote about the up-and-coming, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriterr Jonny Couch. Initially Couch started his career as a drummer, playing in a number of local punk bands before reinventing himself and his career as a solo artist with the release of 2016’s debut EP Animal Instinct, a soulful take on 80s synth pop that drew comparisons to Bryan Ferry — and received praise from Louder Than War and High Times.
Building upon a growing profile, Couch’s highly-anticipated Peter Mavrogeorgis-produced full-length debut Mystery Man will reportedly further develop the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s reputation for crafting infectious material that’s seemingly descended from 70s and 80s power pop and New Wave. “My favorite bands are Cheap Trick and Buzzcocks,” Couch says in press notes, “but this is more of a personal record than a band effort, highly influenced by power pop solo artists like Nick Lowe.” But there’s also elements of Duran Duran and The Psychedelic Furs as well.
Coincidentally, Couch’s forthcoming full-length debut is also deeply influenced by the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s love of classic film noir — in particular, films like Body Heat and Body Double. In fact, the album is centered by deep film-noir metaphors, from the album’s title, its artwork and even song titles like ” Vertigo” “Framed” and others.
Now, as you might recall, album title track “Mystery Man” was a sleek , Roxy Music meets No Jacket Required-era Phil Collins -like track centered around atmospheric synths, shimmering and angular guitars, a motorik-like groove, a soaring hook and Couch’s plaintive vocals. The album’s latest single “Vertigo” is a sleek yet anthemic bit of New Wave-inspired synth pop that recalls Cheap Trick and The Cars — and continuing in a similar vein as its predecessor, the song reveals an ambitious, arena rock meets Top 40 populist bit of songwriting underpinned by the dizzying sense of confusion that comes when you’ve maybe fallen for someone, yet aren’t quite sure what to do about it.
Directed by Jordan Edwards, the recently released video for “Vertigo” brings to mind some of the glorhsouly goofy and slap-dash videos of early MTV — including cheesy 80s styled graphics and stock footage from the 30s and 30s. It continues a run of trippy and delirious visuals that reveal Couch’s good-natured, mischievous humor.
Last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Brooklyn-based shoegaze duo Parrot Dream. And as you may recall, the act which is comprised of Santiago, Chile-born, Brooklyn-based Christina Hansen Appel (vocals, keys) and Gonzalo Guererro (guitar) was formed back in 2013 — and after relocating to Brooklyn, the duo developed a reputation for crafting sprawling and shimmering and hazy soundscapes that have amassed more than 500,000 Spotify streams.
Good Eye Records released the Chilean-born, Brooklyn-based duo’s full-length debut, Light Goes last year. Written and recorded over a two year period, the material on the duo’s full-length debut touched upon themes of connection, love, memory and clarity. “Woven,” the first bit of new material from the band since the release of their full-length debut was originally written and recorded during the Light Goes sessions but was cut from the album. However, it’ll be included on the album’s follow-up effort, Light Goes: B-Sides EP. Centered around shimmering synths, towering layers of reverb-drenched guitar, propulsive drumming, Hansen Appel’s plaintive and longing vocals and an enormous hook, the towering, classic shoegaze-inspired track finds the band writing some of their most ambitious material of their growing catalog. Thematically, the song is a love song full of aching longing that simultaneously finds the band asking some of life’s larger questions.
Born Damone Gervais Walker in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, Jamaica,the up-and-coming emcee, songwriter and dancehall artist, best known as DeeWunn can trace the origins of his music career to roughly 2006 when he had his first child while working as Medical Records Clerk at Kingston Public Hospital. Never one to be satisfied with the mundanity of the 9-5 life, he found himself creatively bursting at the seams. Feeling as though he lacked the freedom he needed to truly required to attain his dreams, the up-and-coming Jamaican dance hall artist made a leap of faith by quitting his day job to start a music career. At one point, he was an in-house writer for GeeJam Studios, writing songs for Mystic Davis, Charly B., A-Game, Nailah Blackman, Nordia Baker, Lily Allen and others.
Dancehall act Ward 21 scooped up Walker as a songwriter and vocalist in 2010 — and while as a member of Ward 21, he spent time penning songs for labelmates like Timberlee, Natalie Storm and others. In 2013, Walker’s Kunley McCarthy-produced “Mek It Bunx Up” featuring Marcy Chin became an unexpected smash-hit that received attention internationally from the likes of Diplo, BBC 1Xtra’s Seani B, ZJ Johnny Kool, Hot 97′s Massive B and others. Adding to a growing profile, “Mek It Bunx Up” received spins in some of the world’s hottest nightclubs.
Interestingly, in 2015 “Mek It Bunx Up” sparked a viral dance craze after Parris Goebel recorded an impromptu performance to the single alongside students from her Urban Dance Camp class, which she later uploaded to YouTube. Since Goebel’s upload, there have been a countless numbers of independently made videos from dancers all over the world — all of those videos have amassed several million views. Additionally, the track landed at #30 on the Bulgarian Top 40 Radio Charts and reached #95 on Shazam’s World Charts.
Since then, DeeWunn has released his full-length debut debut Bunx Up — The Official Street LP, toured across Europe twice and collaborated with Parris Goebel on “Dynamite,” which appeared on her full-length debut Vicious. He’s also collaborated with renowned producer TJ Records for “Tun Suh.” And earlier this year, his single Back It Up, Drop It” was featured in an ad campaign for the Samsung S10.
Building upon the momentum of “Back It Up, Drop It,” DeeWunn’s latest single is the dance floor bop “Jaw Jump,” a track centered around Walker’s rapid-fire hip-hop influenced flow, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling synths and an infectious hook. Simply put, it’s an irresistible track that will set dance floors around the world on fire.
Throughout this site’s nine year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the ridiculously prolific, New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. And as you may recall, the New York-based JOVM mainstay has received attention from this site and elsewhere for funky, slinky produced and crowd-pleasing remixes and mashups of classic soul, funk. hip-hop and New Wave.
Over the past few months, Rhythm Scholar has released a kaleidoscopic remix of Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams‘ smash hit collaboration “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and a propulsive, house music-leaning remix of one of my favorite Tears for Fears tracks “Head Over Heels.” Interestingly, the New York-based mainstay’s latest remix finds him creating a swaggering and strutting 70s soul and funk-inspired mashup of Warren G.’s and Nate Dogg’s “Regulate” that features loving homages to Edwin Starr, The Blackbyrds, Kurtis Blow, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, some explosive scratching and an extensive nod at Stevie Wonder‘s “Superstition” — all while retaining the noir-ish feel of the original.
Initially formed back in 2008 as a duo featuring Julie Lynn (vocals, bass, keys) and Geoffrey Scott (vocals, guitar, keys), the San Francisco- based shoegazer rock/space rock/dream pop act Slowness has released two albums and an EP — 2011’s Hopeless but Otherwise EP, 2013’s For Those Who Wish to See The Glass Half Full and 2014’s How to Keep From Falling Off a Mountain — before officially expanding to a trio with the addition of Christy Scott (drums), who has performed with a wide variety of artists over her 30+ year career, including Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz, avant-garde artist Rebecca Moore and political activist Reverend Billy among others.
Released earlier this year through Schoolkids Records, Berths is Slowness’ third full-length album — and the first album from the San Francisco-based shoe gazers in five years. The follow-up to 2014’s How to Keep From Falling off a Mountain continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with their longtime producer and engineer Monte Vallier — but unlike their previously recorded output, Side A was engineered by Dave Voight at his Beyond Notes studio here in Brooklyn, while Side B was done with Vallier at Ruminator Audio in San Francisco. With the release of album singles “Rose” and “Berlin,” the newly constituted trio have further cemented their reputation for a unique take on shoegaze and dream pop, that possesses elements of slowcore, psych rock, Krautrock and drone.
Berths’ third and latest single “Sand & Stone” is a brooding and slow-burning track centered around jangling guitars, achingly plaintive vocals and a gorgeous Cure-like guitar solo — and while evoking a narrator that’s lost in a very dark and very lonely place, the track isn’t completely devoid of light. In fact, there’s a subtle sense of hope that things do get a bit better in due time.
“We had the whole of ‘Sand & Stone’ recorded for months with no lyrics. I thought I’d get away for a long weekend and isolate myself so I could get some writing done.Through an old friend, I found a cabin in Half Moon Bay, CA. It was late May, cold and foggy. Jules (Julie Lynn) and I had broken up about three months prior and I hadn’t yet begun to process it. Instead of the solitude I was hoping for, I went into a dark and lonely place,” the band’s Geoffrey Scott explains in press notes. “Thankfully, I had cell reception so I began reaching out everywhere. I even called Jules and we talked extensively about what we were both going through. After a few days, I still couldn’t write, so I called my friend Dom P, from the band Like Herding Cats, in New York. I told him what I was going through and how I felt paralyzed, both emotionally and creatively. He encouraged me to go out to the beach and write about the environment I was in, combined with what I was going through. So that’s what I did, and in the end, Dom’s advice proved incredibly helpful, because it not only gave me the lyrics to the song, but it helped me begin to see the light. The sun actually broke through the fog while I was in the midst of writing, and it all came very quickly.”
“‘Sand & Stone,” Scott continues “is about being able to recognize that while you might be going through a difficult time, the planet keeps revealing. The sun will come up, and there will be light all around you, despite any maligned notions that tells you otherwise.”
Directed by Oliver Ousterhout, the recently released video for “Sand & Stone” was shot in Half Moon Bay, CA and stars the band’s Geoffrey Scott and Julie Lynn in bunny masks walking on the beach — and the setting and the characters actions give the whole proceeding a very David Lynch-like air. “One of our rotation bass players, Greg Dubrow, introduced us to Oliver Ousterhout,” the band’s Julie Lynn explains in press notes. Ousterhoust was interested in making a film for “Sand & Stone,” and “once he saw the astonishing natural beauty of the cove that inspired the lyrics, he had concept unfold of filming us moving the environment backward — but played as if we were in forward motion, so that we could seemingly be surrounded by an ocean in retreat and by footsteps that left no trace.”
“We loved the idea. Our day working with him on-site was cold and magical and a dreamlike experience itself! We spent a lot of time walking backwards in the sand, soaked and cold and trying to pull off something that was far more challenging than expected,” Lynn and Scott say of working with Ousterhout. “Perhaps it remained an absolute pleasure throughout because the very process of trying to move with grace kept us very closely connected to the theme of the song! Walking itself became denaturalized, and there was an ever present fear of losing balance, not being able to keep a steady direction, or being hit by waves we couldn’t see coming, but knew were inevitable. But every step made it easier, and by the end of the day, we could start to gaze outward towards the sea or to the mountains as we strode instead of focusing on fear and discomfort.”
With the release of a series of critically applauded singles, an incendiary live show, and three packed Glastonbury Festival sets, the up-and-coming disco post-punk, disco funk act Squid — Ollie Judge (vocals, drums), Lous Borlase (guitar, vocals), Arthur Leadbetter (keys, strings), Laurie Nankivell (bass, drums) and Anton Pearson (guitar, vocals) — have quickly developed a growing national profile.
Building upon that momentum, the act which splits its time between Brighton, where it initially formed and London will be releasing the Dan Carey-produced EP Town Centre through Carey’s Speedy Wunderground Records digitally on September 6, 2019 — with a physical release on November 15, 2019. Clocking in at seven and a half minutes, the EP’s new single “The Cleaner” will likely remind listeners of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo-era Devo, Talking Heads, Entertainment!-era Gang of Four and LCD Soundystem as the track is centered around a slinky, disco funk bass line, explosive blasts of squiggly synths, cowbell led drumming, angular guitar lines, explosive feedback and shouted lyrics within an expansive song structure that’s one part post-punk, one part art punk, one part No Wave freak out. And as a result, the song manages to evoke the uncontrolled, neurotic frustration of someone who’s at the end of their rope.
“‘The Cleaner’ is a lost acquaintance, one that we’ve spent the past year trying to get to know . . . tirelessly working and turning up whenever needed,” the band says about their latest single. “We work for the money to spend out time doing other things. ‘The Cleaner’ imagines the divided work and play structure and thinks about breaking from it.”
Over the past 12-15 months or so, I’ve managed to write quite a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Justin Phillips, best known for his solo recording project Crywolf. When Phillips started writing and releasing his own music. he was practically homeless, living in a room roughly the size of a closet and subsiding on food stamps. Since then, Philips has developed a growing profile that has included amassing several million streams across all of the various streaming platforms, a headlining slot on the second largest stage at Electric Forest and praise across both the blogosphere and the major media outlets, including Consequence of Sound, Alternative Press, Billboard, Nylon, Complex, as well as this site.
Now, if you’ve been following this site over that same 12-14 month period, you’d recall that Phillips sophomore album widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. 1]. Interestingly, Phillips recently started a new series, THE OBLIVION [Reimagined], which will feature reworked versions of tracks off widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. 1]. The first single in the series found the Chicago-based producer Mielo tackling “DRIP” — and Mielo’s take is a arpeggiated synth-driven, New Wave-inspired remix that’s cinematic and buoyant, recalling A-Ha’s “Take on Me” and Depeche Mode while retaining the urgency and frenetic feel of the original. The series’ latest single finds Seattle-based producer Levit∆te, known for a sound that meshes dubstep, left-field bass and hip-hop taking on Crywolf’s “ULTRAVIOLENT Pt. II [she sang to me in a language strange].” The original is a slow-burning and atmospheric take on industrial electronica centered around stuttering beats, industrial clang and clatter and Phillips’ plaintive vocals. Levit∆te’s reworking features a glitchy production that features harder hitting beats that gives the song a murky futuristic air — while retaining Philips plaintive vocals. “When I heard ‘ULTRAVIOLENT Pt. II’ it immediately resonated with me,: Levit∆te says in press notes. “Carrying notes of wave music, slight witch house influences and intimate vocals, teh song really resembled a lot of my own music. I really did my best to retain the original message and feeling the song gave me, but refine it through my own filter.”