Category: Electro Pop

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned, Swedish singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, whose solo dream pop/electro pop project Summer Heart has received attention for a sound that draws from 80s synth pop in a way that’s been compared favorably to CaribouWashed OutIn Ghost Colours-era Cut CopyPainted Palms and others, and for being considered among the first wave of Sweden’s renowned contemporary electro pop and dream pop movement, which also includes MoonbabiesThe Land BelowHey ElbowBlind Lake and Emerald Park.

Alexander with his 12 Songs of Summer has added his name to an increasing list of artists, who have adopted a single of the month series, and as you can imagine doing so, manages to make a helluva lot of sense creatively, financially and marketing-wise in the blogosphere age. Creatively, the artist isn’t constrained by having to write material with a cohesive style or theme in mind, as they would be required to do in terms of writing for a full-length album; however, in order for the concept to work, they are required to come up with songs within strict and regularly occurring deadlines. Interestingly enough, the monthly song series manages to capture the emotional highs and lows of a year of the artist’s life in a way that can feel like an audio journal. Financially, artists who are struggling to find ways to fund their efforts recording and touring can split their costs over the course of a year, while stretching the recording process to a few days over the course of a year. And in the fickle blogosphere age, releasing a single every month can assure in some fashion that the blogosphere will pay attention to you and your work over the course of a year. As Alexander explains in press notes, “The idea behind this project is to show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case when you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”

“Yeah You” is the second single of the 12 Songs of Summer series, and it finds Alexander leaning towards a thumping house meets In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy-like production featuring arpeggiated synths, woofer and tweeter rocking beats and anthemic hook — and while being a rousing, crowd pleasing track that features Alexander’s ethereal vocals floating over the mix; but while being a club banger, the song possesses a plaintive ache over a dysfunctional and somewhat unrequited love affair while accepting it as an unchangeable part of the past that the song’s narrator will eventually move forward from. As Alexander says of the song, it’s “about feeling alive and having no regrets! It’s about trying to ignore the past since you can’t change. But most of all, it’s about having fun, living in the present.”

 

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New Video: Two Renowned Barcelona-based Electronic Music Scene Vets Release Ominous Visuals for Murky and Industrial Debut Single “Tell Them”

Semiotics Department of Heteronyms (SDH) is the new recording project of two key figures in Barcelona‘s synth wave/industrial scene — Andrea P. Latorre and Sergi Algiz, who are co-founders of renowned Spanish label  C¯njunt¯ Vac̯, as well as members of post-punk act Wind Atlas; however, SDH finds Latorre and Algiz heading towards a decidedly pop-leaning direction sonically while thematically, the duo’s latest project is centered on fiction, make believe and feigned personalities — namely: how fiction is embodied, what fiction really is, and so on.

Interestingly, the Spanish duo’s latest single “Tell Them,” off their recently released digital-release only EP Tell Them while superficially being synth pop finds the duo nodding at cold wave, post-punk, and early house and techno as they pair shimmering yet chilly arpeggiated synths, propulsive, industrial-like drum programming, razor sharp and rousing hooks with Latorre’s sultry and soulful vocals in what may arguably be the most sensual and dance floor friendly single they’ve released to date. Unsurprisingly, with the release of their two previously released singles, the members of SDH have built up quite a bit of buzz as they’ve already opened for artists like Marie Davidson and Merchandise and have played at the Swedish darkwave festival Kalabalik PÂ Tyrolen.

Fittingly shot on grainy VHS tape, the recently released video for “Tell Them” features the duo broodingly walking down dim, late night European streets, emphasizing the song’s murky and ominous air. 

Rachel K. Collier is a Swansea, Wales, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter, producer and electronic music artist, who achieved both commercial and critical success across the UK relatively early in her career; in fact, Collier is credited as a co-writer or producer or several chart-topping, smash hits including Ray Foxx‘s “Boom Boom (Heartbeat),” which peaked at number 12 on the UK Singles chart back in 2013; Mat Zo‘s Grammy-nominated album Damage Control, which peaked at number 1 on the iTunes Dance Album charts; and on pioneering garage producer Wookie‘s comeback single “2 Us.” As a solo artist, she recorded a cover of Jimmy Cliff’s Hard Road to Travel,” which landed at number 79 on the UK Singles chart, and her debut original single “Predictions” was named Sarah Jane Crawford’s “Smash of the Week” on the radio personality’s BBC Radio 1Xtra show. Collier has also received airplay and praise from the likes of Annie NightingaleCapitol XtraTiësto and Oliver Heldens, which has added to the growing buzz surrounding her in electronic music circles.

Building upon a growing national profile, Collier released her self-produced, debut EP Words You Never Heard through Love and Other Records in late 2015 and followed that up with “Ships,” a single she released during the last few months of 2016. Now, as you may recall, last year I wrote about Collier’s “Paper Tiger,” a slick yet un-fussy club banger, which she followed up with extensive touring playing sets at clubs and festivals across the European Union and unsurprisingly, with the release of her latest single “Darkshade,” her experiences touring throughout 2017 have influenced her creative process and her sound, as the new single finds Collier pairing what arguably may be the most emotionally direct lyrics she’s written with a sound that manages to be simultaneously radio and club friendly — all while further cementing her reputation for crafting rousingly anthemic hook.

“I’ve been heavily inspired from playing live at clubs and festivals throughout 2017 -playing my synths on stage at full volume is so satisfying and fulfilling that I’ve been incorporating synth solos and counter melodies way more into my actual production rather than just doing it on stage for fun!” Collier explains in press notes. “Darkshade feels like a song I needed to get off my chest — many of us will go through life hiding, disguising or playing down a physical/emotional element that we have but we don’t like. This song is about that and how I deal with it.”

This year may be a breakthrough year for the Swansea-born, London-based singer/songwriter, producer and electronic music artist as her full-length debut is slated for a September release.

 

 

New Audio: New JOVM Mainstay Rich Aucoin Releases a Dreamy, New Single

Now, over the first few months of the year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based electronic music artist and indie rock artist Rich Aucoin. And as you may recall, Aucoin has spent time as a collaborator and guest musician in older brother Paul Aucoin’s band Hylozoists before developing a reputation as an attention grabbing solo artist. Aucoin’s 2007 debut EP Personal Publication was a concept album conceived and written as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Canadian artist supported that effort with a cross-Canada tour entirely by bicycle to raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada. Upon completing his solo tour, Aucoin joined his brother’s band and toured with them; but because of a sudden shift from regular and extremely strenuous exercise to virtually no exercise, Aucoin eventually suffered through a debilitating iron deficiency. Once he recuperated though, he went on another solo tour, running partial marathons between stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

During both of his early solo tours, Aucoin spent time writing and recording the material, which would comprise his 2011 full-length effort, We’re All Dying to Live, an album that featured over 500 guest musicians, including Sloan‘s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party‘s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band‘s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. We’re All Dying to Live was long-listed as a nominee for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize — and the video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” won a Prism Prize in 2013. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Canadian electronic music artist released his 2014, critically applaud album Ephemeral. 

Released today, Hold EP is Aucoin’s first batch of new, recorded material in over 4 years, and the EP features the sprawling and propulsive club banger “Release”, the swooning M83-like “The Middle”  and the jangling, club banging electro pop and indie rock amalgamation, “The Fear.” The EP’s latest single “The Dream” is a slow-burning track in which Aucoin’s tender falsetto is paired with twinkling keys, a sinuous bass line, bursts of handclaps, bursts of mournful horns — and in some way, the song seems to evoke something that the song’s narrator longs for, but deep down knows he can never fully achieve; in fact, there are countless times in which it seems as though much of what you’ve desired or felt you deserved is often out of reach, and that such things leave lingering and embittering reminders. 

Interestingly, as Rich Aucoin explains in press notes. “‘The Dream’ is a song about the contentment we can feel at an individual level when daydreaming or imagining a different world. It’s not about the achieving of making that world come to reality but looks at the various therapeutic benefits from such an endeavour. Whether it be imagining a time where you are not heartbroken, in an estrangement, or in conflict with the changes in your life, that power to picture yourself beyond the given moment is a useful tool for accepting the way things are and getting to that new spot, ‘The Dream.’”

Over the last half of 2017, I had written a it about Trent Prall, a Southern California-born, Wisconsin-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter and his solo recording project Kainalu, which derives its name for the Hawaiian word for ocean wave. And as you may recall, the music that Prall has created over the past decade or so draws from psych pop, psych rock, dream pop, Tropicalia, synth pop and funk, as well as childhood trips to Oahu, Hawaii visiting his mother’s family. Ultimately, those influences have coalesced and culminated in a breezy, retro-futuristic and somewhat nostalgia-inducing sound that the Southern California-born, Wisconsin-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter has dubbed “Hawaii-fi,” as a homage to his Hawaiian ancestry and their influence on him and his work.

 

Prall’s breezy latest single “Folds Like Origami” reminds me a bit of Illumination-era Miami Horror and Tame Impala, as the song finds Prall drawing from late 70s and early 80s synth funk, disco, contemporary synth pop and dream pop in a seamless fashion while crafting crowd-pleasing, dance floor friendly hooks paired with thoughtful lyrics. As Prall explains in press notes, growing up in Hawaiian culture, folding origami was deeply rooted into every wedding he attended. The bride is supposed to fold 1,000 paper cranes symbolizing the patience she will have in the marriage; however, according to Prall, “it’s usually the bride’s family, who actually ends up doing the folding.”  Understandably, a young Trent Prall was amazed but the beauty and complexity of transforming something relatively basic and simple into something beautiful — without changing or adding anything to the material itself.

“I wanted to try and capture this imagery and apply it a person’s worldview. The line of the song for me is ‘The world opens up to you, it folds like origami. So drop the things you knew, they fold like origami.’ Recently, I’ve been getting more and more into meditation. I kind of see a parallel between origami with mediation. By finding peace within yourself, I think you can make your own beautiful in the world around you. Just like by finding a new shape within a flat piece of paper, you can create a beautiful peace of art” the Southern California-born, Wisconsin-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter says. 

 

New Audio: Black Summer’s Subtle Yet Moody Remix of Australian-born Viral Sensation Xavier Dunn

Xavier Dunn is an up-and-coming, Sydney, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter, producer and electronic artist, who first came to international prominence with a series of acoustic covers that included 3 Hype Machine #1s, a Spotify Global Viral Charts #2, a Spotify US Viral Charts #1, a Spotify Australia Viral Chart #1 and over 22 million Spotify streams to date. Last month, Dunn released the critically applauded “Isic Tutor,” an ethereal bit of neo soul that features Dunn’s tender and aching falsetto paired with a ambient production consisting of thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and gently swirling synths and electronics within a song that immediately brought to mind Beacon’s For Now EP and The Ways We Separate — but centered around the ebbs and flows of a rather tumultuous relationship and in part the strange wisdom of Isic, an AI character from the video game Battleborn.

Recently, one of Australia’s most exciting up-and-coming producers — and perhaps one of their youngest to reach national attention, Black Summer, a 14 year old EDM producer, who was first discovered by Triple J when he was 11, remixed Dunn’s ambient “Isic Tutor,” and while retaining the aching and tender falsetto vocals of the original and some of the ethereal and ambient electronics of the original, adds skittering drum programming and a live drum sample, which manages to gently speed up the tempo while remaining unhurried and moody. 

Currently comprised of frontman and primary songwriter TOBACCO (born Thomas Fec), keyboardist The Seven Fields of Aphelion (born Maureen “Maux” Boyle), guitarist Ryan Graveface and bassist Pony Driver, the Pittsburgh, PA-based experimental electronic act Black Moth Super Rainbow can trace their origins back to two previous projects that featured BMSR’s TOBACCO — Allegheny White Fish, which was active from 1996-2000 and satanstompingcaterpillars, which was active from 2000-2002 and released three albums, including their last album under that name, The Most Wonderfulest Thing before the addition of three new members Father Hummingbird, The Seven Fields of Aphelion and Iffernaut. And with the addition of new members, the band renamed themselves Black Moth Super Rainbow in 2003.

 

Over the past decade both Black Moth Super Rainbow and TOBACCO have recorded material that explored the periphery of evil and extreme color, rapidly alternating between absurdly bright beauty and murderously sinister with the end result being a woozy, psychedelic uneasiness.  TOBACCO (a.k.a Thomas Fec) throughout his career has been a rather mysterious figure; in fact, if you Google images of him, most of them have his face obscured by a mask, a ball cap or a hood.  Interestingly though, he’s known for patient and thoughtful interviews where he breaks down his creative process and the ideas espoused throughout his work while never revealing much about his personal life or about him. And in that sense, he’s been periodically visible but opaque, emotional but unwilling to exploit self-mythology; however, Black Moth Super Rainbow’s Panic Blooms, the first album from the band in six years, finds TOBACCO reportedly writing what may arguably be the most raw and direct lyrics of his entire career, inspired in some way by the current sociopolitical climate. As a result, the material is an account of depression and human frailty paired with their unique sound featuring gorgeous yet warped melodies. . .

The album’s first single “Mr. No One” features shimmering and twinkling synths, boom-bap drums and heavily vocodered vocals and while the song initially seems as though it has a dreamy and ethereal air, the song possesses an underlying murky and sinister vibe, which the band has long been known for, giving the song a desperate yet hopeful ache, a pleasant reverie within a feverish, waking nightmare.

Black Moth Super Rainbow will be on tour to support their new effort, and it’ll include a June 2, 2018 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

TOUR DATES

THU 5/31 WASHINGTON, DC Black Cat
FRI 6/1 PHILADELPHIA, PA Union Transfer
SAT 6/2 NEW YORK, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg
SUN 6/3 BOSTON, MA Brighton Music Hall
THU 6/14 CINCINNATI, OH Urban Artifact
FRI 6/15 DETROIT, MI El Club
SAT 6/16 CHICAGO, IL Metro
SUN 6/17 COLUMBUS, OH Skully’s Music Diner
FRI 8/10 PITTSBURGH, PA Mr. Smalls
SAT 8/11 LOUISVILLE, KY Headliners
SUN 8/12 ASHEVILLE, NC Orange Peel
TUE 8/14 AUSTIN, TX Mohawk
WED 8/15 HOUSTON, TX White Oak Music Hall
FRI 8/17 ATLANTA, GA Masquerade (Hell)
SAT 8/18 NASHVILLE, TN Mercy Lounge

New Video: Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based Electro R&B Artist Tolliver Releases Surreal and Symbolic Visuals for Atmospheric EP Single “I Gotchu”

Born to a Baptist pastor father and a gospel singing mother, Tolliver is a Chicago, IL-born, Los Angeles, CA-based electro R&B artist, who began his music carer playing in a number of Stax Records-inspired acts, including the renowned Black Diet, an act that received best new band nods from a number of publications and filmed a nationally syndicated PBS special at the end of 2014. 

Supporting himself as a Mormon gay porn editor, Tolliver’s solo work thematically focuses on release and recovery, breakdowns and getting high; in fact, his solo debut EP Rave Deep was about late night partying, anonymous sex and juking — and his upcoming EP Rites finds the Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based artist focusing on the sacred and the profane, and the guilt-filled torments of a man, who had a religious childhood that is currently living in a sin-filled, ungodly present. 

Rites’ latest single “I Gotchu” will further cement Tolliver’s growing reputation for collaborating with and creating a genre-bending sound with the atmospheric and moody single nodding at gospel, neo-soul and jazz centered around deeply confessional lyrics sung with Tolliver’s aching vocals, expressing guilt, shame, and vulnerability within the turn of a phrase.

While feeling like a feverish dream, the video hints at larger religious themes with the first portion of the video shot in inky and moody blacks and dark colors before ending in brilliant light, creating the sensation of redemption.  

Initially releasing singles like “Seeing Is Forgetting” and “Half-Empty Happiness” under a decidedly intentional cloak of mystery, the Montreal-based DJ, production and electronic music artist duo The Beat Escape quickly received attention across the blogosphere for crafting moody and atmospheric pop that’s deeply indebted to 80s synth pop — i.e., Depeche ModeThe Human League and others —  while evoking the sensation of a half-remembered dream.

Slated for an April 27, 2018 release through renowned indie label  Bella Union Records, the Canadian synth pop duo’s highly-anticipated, full-length debut Life Is Short The Answer’s Long finds The Beat Escape shedding much of the mystery that surrounded them during their previous releases; in fact, as you may recall, the JOVM mainstays, comprised of Addy Weitzman and Patrick A Boivin can trace the origins of the act to a college short film they had worked on together. “We made a short oddball work; a video piece that followed two characters through a psychedelic waking dream,” the Canadian pop duo explain in press note. And since that initial collaboration, the duo have collaborated on a series of projects — but interestingly, their full-length Beat Escape debut finds them thematically speaking coming full-circle while further developing the sound that grabbed the attention of the blogosphere and elsewhere.

Life Is Short‘s minimalist first single “Sign of Age” featured propulsive and gently undulating Giorgio Moroder-like synths with a deliberate, textured and painterly quality that evoked gently drifting about in somnambulistic reverie. Continuing in a similar vibe, the album’s second and latest single “Moon in Aquarius” is a a decidedly motorik affair featuring a spectral melody — and while being clearly indebted to 80s synth pop, the song manages to evoke the mesmerizing sensation of a night time road unfurling before you, with white lines and dividers flashing by in a blur; but on another level, the song feels haunted by lingering and inescapable ghosts.

 

New Audio: No Joy’s Jasamine White-Gluz and Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom Team Up for an Atmospheric and Eerie Single off Collaborative EP

Over the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Montreal, Quebec, Canada-based shogeaze duo No Joy. Interestingly, the duo, which is comprised of primary songwriter Jasamine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd can trace their origins to when White-Gluz, who was then living in Los Angeles began collaborating with the Montreal-based Lloyd via email — and their collaboration eventually lead to White-Gluz returning to Montreal, so that they could play their first show, with Husker Du’s Grant Hart. As the story goes, after that show, White and Gluz continued collaborating, playing a number of shows locally, including with Best Coast, who’s frontwoman Bethany Cosentino became an early champion of the duo.
Building upon the growing buzz surround the Montreal-based duo, White-Gluz and Lloyd signed to renowned indie label Mexican Summer, who released their debut 7 inch single “No Summer”/”No Joy,” an effort that allowed them to book their own national headlining tour with Katy Goodman’s, La Sera. The 7 inch quickly sold out, and by November 2010, the duo released their full-length debut Ghost Blonde to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, AllMusic.com, The New York Times, Brooklyn Vegan, The Guardian and others. No Joy followed that with the British release of the “Hawaii” 7 in, a release that featured a remix of “Indigo Child,” by Stereolab‘s Tim Gane, which they supported with a UK tour with  Surfer Blood, an opening spot in London for Wire, and an appearance at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival.
The  members of No Joy spent the better part of 2011 touring across North America — and it included a busy SXSW schedule, a tour with Vivian Girls, and a co-headling tour with Marnie Stern with whom they released a split single, which featured No Joy’s cover of the Shangri-La’s “He Cried.” Since then, the band has released 2012’s Negaverse EP and Wait to Pleasure, 2013’s Pastel and Pass Out EP, 2015’s More Faithful, 2016’s Drool Sucker, the first of a planned series of EPs and last year’s Creep, which was released through the band’s new label Grey Market Records.

Interestingly, this year finds No Joy’s White-Gluz collaborating with Spacemen 3’s and E.A.R.’s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Pete Kember), and although the collaborators can’t accurately remember how they met or when they met, but what they do clearly recall is that the idea of collaborating together was brought up in an email exchange back in 2015. At the time, No Joy had finishing touring to support their third album More Faithful, an album that the duo has considered one of their most difficult and demanding efforts they’ve worked on together, and White-Gluz was eager to try new ideas and do something different. “No Joy functioned as a four-piece ‘rock band’ for so long,” White-Gluz explains in press notes. “I wanted to pursue something solo where I collaborated with someone else who could help me approach my songs from a completely different angle. Pete is a legend and someone I’ve admired for a long time. Being able to work with him on this was incredible.”

Initially, the collaboration began as a bit of exploration between two friends, who admired each other’s work with each one passing songs back and and forth with White-Gluz writing and producing songs in her hometown of Montreal and Kember writing, arranging and producing in Portugal. The end result was their collaborative EP together — four tracks that reportedly walk the tightrope between electronica, trip hop and experimental noise.  As White-Gluz says in press notes, “I wrote some songs that were intended for a full band and handed them off to Pete, who helped transform them. I barely knew how to use MIDI so I was just throwing him these experiments I was working on and he fine-tuned my ideas. There are barely any guitars on this album, because I was focused on trying to find new ways to create sounds.”

Now, as you may recall, the EP’s first single “Obsession” featured a Giorgio Moroder meets Evil Heat-era Primal Scream-like production featuring shimmering and undulating club friendly synths and a mesmerizing, trance-like groove. “Slorb,” the EP’s latest single is a slow-burning and atmospheric track which features a minimalist production consisting of wobbling synths and electronics, brief bursts of guitar, and skittering beats within a highly unusual song structure — and interestingly enough, the song finds the collaborators nodding at experimental pop, ambient electronica and noise pop simultaneously.