Author: William Ruben Helms

 

With the release of their self-titled full-length debut, the Welsh quintet Chain of Flowers have quickly established a growing national and international reputation for a dense, noisy and punishing shoegazer-like sound that’s been compared favorably to The Smiths, Joy Division, Eagulls, Iceage, Ceremony and The Cure — and as a result, the band has received extensive airplay on BBC Radio 6 and KEXP and have toured across the UK with The Fall, The Chameleons, Ceremony,  JOVM mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers, Nothing, Eagulls and others. Building upon 2016’s massive buzz, the members of the band will be releasing a 7″ through Blackest Ever Black Records sometime this month and next month, will be in Austin, TX playing a number of SXSW showcases celebrating and promoting both British and Welsh artists. In the meantime, “Crisis,” off their self-titled debut is a murky and pummeling shoegazer track in which thunderous and propulsive drumming is paired with towering layers of shimmering and swirling guitars fed through delay and reverb pedal and submerged, distorted vocals. Indeed, much like The Jesus and Mary Chain, the aforementioned A Place to Bury Strangers, Slowdive and even Grave Babies, the Welsh band’s sound is muscular yet enveloping, murky yet stunningly beautiful — and evokes a contemporary anxiousness and powerlessness.

 

 

 

Comprised of the Ann Arbor, MI-born, Los Angeles, CA-based soul singer/songwriter Mayer Hawthorne, arguably one of the most unheralded vocalists and singer/songwriters of the past decade; and Jake One, a Seattle, WA-born and based, Grammy nominated producer and artist, who was best known as part of the G-Unit, production team The Money Management Group, for collaborating with Brother Ali, Young Buck, De La Soul, M.O.P., Freeway, M.F. Doom, Atmosphere‘s Slug, Keak da Sneak and others, and for contributing tracks to the soundtracks of major motion pictures such as Get Rich or Die Tryin,’ The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Gone Baby Gone, the electro funk act Tuxedo can trace its origins to around 2006 when Hawthorne and Jake One began exchanging mixtapes, which revealed that they had a mutual appreciation and love of classic funk and soul.  The duo quickly worked on and released three singles while both were working on separate solo projects — and those singles wound up on the duo’s 2015 self-titled debut, an effort, which I think was one of that year’s best party records.

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve last written about them — and that shouldn’t be surprising, as Hawthrone released his fourth, full-length effort Man About Town last year and opened for Hall and Oates during the duo’s U.S. tour and Jake One released the #prayerhandsemoji mixtape; but speaking for myself, I’m always in the need of some funk in my life and thankfully, the duo have returned with a three song EP, titled Fux with the Tux.. “Fux with the Tux,” the EP’s title track and opening track pairs Hawthrone’s vocals with a late 70s and early 80s synth funk production featuring squiggly arpeggio synth blasts, propulsive drum programming, a wobbling and tumbling low bass line, a chant-worthy and anthemic hook and a brief braggadocio-filled guest spot from Snoop Dogg. And while sounding as though it drew a some influence from Heatwave‘s “The Groove Line” – 12″ Disco Version,  Cherelle‘s “Saturday Love” feat. Alexander O’Neal and others. “Special” clearly continues on a similar vein as it’s incredibly dance floor friendly, while being a sultry come on. It’s the sort of song you’d want to play while dancing with that pretty young thing, you’ve wanted to get with for an entire summer or however long it’s been for you. Completing the three song set, “July” is a slow-burning and silky smooth, Quiet Storm-like track about unexpectedly, stupidly and desperately in love and that love changing the narrator’s life for the better — and of course, its underpinned by Hawthorne expressing a vulnerable, urgent and plaintive need that gives the song an irresistible sensuality.

 

 

If there’s one thing that listeners will instantly gleam from this new EP is that Hawthorne and Jake One have further cemented their reputation for crafting dance floor friendly, two-step, 80s-inspired synth funk and sexy, slow-burning ballads with a subtly modern take.

 

 

 

 

Live Footage: Fufanu Live on KEXP

Over the past couple of months here, I’ve written quite a bit about the Reykjavik, Iceland-based indie rock/post-punk trio Fufanu. The trio, which is currently comprised of founding members Kaktus Einarsson (vocals, guitar), whose father Einar, was a member of The Sugarcaubes and Guðlaugur “Gulli” Einarsson (guitar, programming) (no relation, by the way) along with Erling Bang (drums) can trace their origins to when the band’s founding members met while at school. According to the band’s founding duo, Katkus had glanced at Gulli’s iTunes and noticed that they had listened to a lot of the same techno and electronic music. And after quickly bonding over mutual interests, the duo went into a studio and began writing and recording electronic music under the name Captain Fufanu. Within a month of their formation, Kaktus Einarsson and Gulli Einarsson had started playing shows in and around Reykjavik.

Building on a growing local profile, the duo went into the studio to record what would be their full-length debut as Captain Fufanu; but in a strange twist of fate, the studio where Kaktus Einarsson and Gulli Einarsson had recorded the album was burgled. And as a result, the album was presumed lost. Instead of trying to recall the material they initially wrote from memory, Kaktus Einarsson and Gulli Einarsson decided that the moment was a perfect time for them to completely reinvent their sound. Interestingly, as that happened, Katkus was in London working on Damon Albarn’s Everyday Robots and touring with Bobby Womack when he began writing lyrics. Simultaneously Gulli had started to create a revised sound, which according to Kaktus Einarsson managed to coney exactly what he had been thinking. The duo then added guitars and drums, along with Kaktus’ brooding and detached vocals — and with their revised sound, renamed themselves Fufanu.

Their first live set with their new sound and aesthetic was at Iceland Airwaves and they quickly became one of the most talked about bands of the entire festival. Building upon the buzz they had received, they went into the studio their full-length debut A Few More Days To Go. And with the release of their debut, the duo received a rapidly growing national and international profile as they toured with a number of internationally renowned acts including The Vaccines and have played at JaJaJa Festival. With their recently released sophomore effort Sports, Kaktus and Gulli recruited Erling “Elli” Bang (drums) to further flesh out their sound as they expanded upon it and its thematic direction.

Now, you may recall that I’ve written about the first two singles off the Icelandic trio’s recently released sophomore effort Sports — the album’s title track “Sports,” which retained the synth-driven sound that first captured national and international attention while pairing it with a tight, motorik-like groove reminiscent of Can, Neu! Joy Division and early ’80s Peter Gabriel (in particular, think of Peter Gabriel 3 and Security) along with live instrumentation, which gives the material both an organic feel and a forcefulness — and “Liability,” which while continuing in a similar vein was a bit more slow-burning. Both singles possessed a murky and enigmatic air, they point at the soul-crushing mundanity and drudgery of daily life but just under the surface there’s the broiling frustration and resentment of someone who’s desperate to break free — and not sure how to do so without some recrimination.

Last year, the members of the band were on KEXP and the set included live versions of “Circus Life” and “Now” off their full-length debut Few More Days to Go along with “Sports” and then-unreleased single “Bad Rockets” off the recently released Sports. And while being fairly straightforward renditions of the material, the KEXP set will give you a sense of their intense and live set, a live set that frequently includes Kaktus Einarsson storming, strutting and stomping about the stage, alternating between being menacing and playful and so on. During this set, Kaktus throws his monitor headphones off his head and on to the floor, to headbang and stomp about as Gulli plays a furious and blistering solo. Just from this particular footage, I’m hoping that the Icelandic act will play a set or two here in NYC.

Over the past couple of years, the New York-based, Grammy-nomiated electro pop duo Sofi Tukker have become JOVM mainstay artists while simultaneously seeing both critical and astronomical, commercial success with the release of the duo’s debut EP, Soft Animals. After a quick break, to make what the duo hopes will be the first of many Grammy appearances, the duo is currently on the road and with two Australian shows under their belts, the duo of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern; but they managed to find a bit of time to write and record what may be their most politically charged song to take — an incendiary take down of Donald Trump and his cohorts on  “Greed,” a furious stomp that suggests a punk rock sensibility meshed with club-banging house music. 

Starting next month, the duo will be embarking on a lengthy North American tour, which will include two NYC area dates — a sold out, April 1, 2017 show at Music Hall of Williamsburg, and a June, 29, 2017 set at this year’s Panorama Festival. Check out tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates*:
*More dates TBA
Mar 10 – Toronto, ON @ The Drake Hotel Underground (SOLD OUT)
Mar 11 – Toronto, ON @ The Drake Hotel Underground (SOLD OUT)
Mar 12 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas (TICKETS)
 March 14 – 17 – Austin, TX @ SXSW
Mar 18 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall (Upstairs) (TICKETS)
Mar 19 – New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa (TICKETS)
Mar 22 – Atlanta, GA @ Aisle 5 (TICKETS)
Mar 23 – Raleigh, NC @ Kings (TICKETS)
Mar 24 – Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall (TICKETS)
Mar 25 – Rockland, ME @ The Farnsworth Museum (TICKETS)
Mar 29 – Boston, MA @ Middle East (Upstairs) (SOLD OUT)
Mar 30 – Hamden, CT @ The Ballroom (TICKETS)
Mar 31 – Providence, RI @ Aurora (TICKETS)
Apr 1 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (SOLD OUT)
Apr 13 – Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy & Harriet’s w/ Little Dragon (TICKETS)
Apr 16 – Indio, CA @ Coachella
Apr 23 – Indio, CA @ Coachella
Jun 15 – Dover, DE @ Firefly Festival
Jun 16 – Dufur, OR @ What The Festival
Jul 29 – New York, NY @ Panorama Festival

 

Rodes Rollins is  Boulder, CO-born pop artist, who has spent time living abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina and now currently splits her time between New York and Los Angeles. Rollins first emerged into the national spotlight with “Young & Thriving,” the first single off her recently released debut EP Young Adult, a single that possessed a wistful sense of nostalgia, along with acceptance and wonder over the circumstances and people that initially seem random and serendipitous, but wind up influencing and dictating the course of your life paired with a sultry, subtly Spaghetti Western-tinged psych pop production.  With the attention “Young & Thriving” received, Rollins followed with the EP’s second single “Wes Come Back,” a single about the artist’s first love, a man who endured hardship throughout his life while reportedly drawing inspiration from Broken Bells and Ennio Morricone.

The EPs their single “Feedback” much like the EP’s previous singles draws from Rollins’ most formative experiences of her youth, told in a sort of nostalgic flashback — with the perspective of someone who now sees how the various decisions, foibles, and events of her life have influenced where she is at this moment. In the case of “Feedback,” the song’s narrator looks back towards a confusing and heartbreaking love affair/fling she had when she was young — and in one way, the song suggests that the narrator’s trust was profoundly shaken, while also hinting that that the experience had shaped how the narrator proceeds in her relationships for better or for worse.

Sonically, the song balances moody atmospherics with a soaring and anthemic hook that gives the song a dramatic ebb and flow, while being roomy enough for Rollins’ sultry and smoky vocals while revealing that the up-and-coming artist can write an infectious hook.

 

 

 

Comprised of Rick Hornby and Jen Devereaux, the Manchester, UK-born, London, UK-based electro pop duo TenFiveSixty have received attention across the blogosphere for a melancholy and urgent sound that to my ears reminds me a bit of New Order, Cocteau Twins and others, as you’ll hear on the duo’s latest single “You Say” — but with subtly bluesy and shimmering guitar lines and a sultry hook that evokes an urgent, plaintive need and vulnerability while being remarkably dance floor friendly.

 

 

With the release of “Golden,” the London, UK-based indie pop trio Mt. Wolf, currently comprised of Sebastian “Bassi” Fox, Stevie “Red” McMinn, and Al Mitchell, received both national and international attention across both major media outlets and the blogosphere. With the growing attention the band has received, they’ve played sold-out shows across Europe and the US; but adding to a rather eventful year, the band has gone through a brief hiatus and a lineup change, before recovering to write and record new material, with producer Ken Thomas, who has worked with M83, Sigur Ros and Daughter.

“The Electric” is the oceanic first single off the band’s still untitled, forthcoming EP finds the trio pairing moody atmospherics with a towering and soaring, arena rock-friendly anthemic nature as the slow-burning song that ebbs and swells as it builds up in intensity; but interestingly within that slow ebb and flow there’s an unresolved tension that never quite gets released. And as a result, it gives the song a certain ambivalence and uncertainty that is familiar — it evokes the ambivalence, uncertainty and confusion of our own lives and relationships and the hope that somehow we find a way to figure it out to the best of our abilities.

 

 

Comprised of David Fairweather and Daniella Kleovoulou, the London, UK-based electro pop duo The Glass Children have developed a reputation for crafting moody yet upbeat, 80s synth pop-inspired electro pop featuring lush production and etheral production as you would have heard on  the uptempo single “Undone,” which was remixed by JOVM mainstays Moonbabies. Now it’s been some time since I’ve written about the London-based electro pop duo but their latest single “Anything Else” will further cement their reptuation as the single consiss of a sparse, miminalist production featuring stuttering drum programming, ambient and shimmering synths paired with Kleovoulou’s etheral vocals floating over a Portishead/Goldfrapp-inspired mix.