Category: Electro Pop

I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed New York-based electronic dance music/neo-disco outfit Escort and their indomitable frontwoman and bassist  Adeline Michele throughout the course of this site’s eight-plus year history.  Now, as you may recall, the Escort frontwoman will be releasing her self-titled full-length on Friday, and the album is a bit of a sonic and aesthetic reset button from the full-length that she released a few years ago.  In fact, the album’s first single “Emeralds” was a slinky, 80s Quiet Storm-inspired synth soul that brought Prince to mind, while being centered around a a sinuous bass line and Adeline’s sultry vocals. “Before,” the album’s  Chaka Khan and Rufus‘ “Ain’t Nobody,”  Mary J. Blige’s “Be Happy,” and Patrice Rushen‘s “Feels So Real”-like featured shimmering and arpeggiated synths and Adeline’s pop superstar vocals. 

“Hi Life,” the latest single off the Escort frontwoman’s soon-to-be released album is a straightforward yet ecstatic house music banger featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a rousing hook and Adeline Michele’s sultry pop superstar vocals. Sonically, the song brings Inner City’s house music classic “Good Life” and Larry Levan to mind but with a modern sheen.

 

 

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Perhaps best known as a member of heralded electronic act Sandwell District and the head of underground electronic music label Jealous God, Juan Mendez is an renowned Los Angeles-based electronic music producer, DJ and art director, known for aggressively pushing techno’s sound and aesthetic forward at least twice in his career, with his solo recording project Silent Servant; in fact, Mendez’s solo debut Negative Fascination is largely considered a game-changing modern classic.

Slated for a December 7, 2018 release through Hospital Productions, Mendez’s Silent Servant forthcoming sophomore effort Shadows of Death and Desire reportedly finds Mendez’s sound evolving towards a much more raw, aggressive and abrasive sound; in fact, album single “Damage” walks a careful tightrope between the chilly atmospherics of John Carpenter soundtracks and the tense, harrowing, industrial clang and clatter of Blanck Mass, as the track is centered around layers of arpeggiated synths and thumping beats, but while being dance floor friendly.

 

 

New Audio: Alpines Chilly Yet Urgent Call to Action on the Environment

Comprised of Bob Matthews (guitar, production) and Catherine Pockson (vocals, piano), the London-based electro pop duo Alpines formed in 2010 and since their formation they’ve quickly built up a national and international profile as they opened for the likes of  The Naked and The Famous, Emeli Sande and Florence and the Machine — eventually signing to a major label. Once their stint within the major label system ended, instead of being overwhelmed by a sense of bitter resignation, they self-released their first two, critically applauded full-length albums 2014’s Oasis and 2016’s Another River. 

The duo’s soon-to-be-released third, full-length album Full Bloom is slated for a November 16, 2018 release through Untrue Records and the album reportedly channels some of the duo’s core influences — in particular, Prince, Aaliyah, Frank Ocean, Lauryn Hill, Aretha Franklin, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Kelela, 90s rave culture and Massive Attack; while lyrically the material touches upon growth, change, ecology, the every day challenges of love, acceptance and hardship. And as a result, the material finds the duo examining the inner and outer complexities of modern life, and our insecurities and vulnerabilities in a a profound mature fashion. Initially, the material was built around a basic piano idea, that they expanded upon within their Kingston-Upon-Thames studio. As the duo says, “There are tracks that lean more towards Catherine’s love of classic singer-songwriters and soul music, and others that are inspired by left-field producers and rap.”  Additionally, the material draw from Netflix’s The OA, the work of architect Rachel Whiteread, contemporary fashion and art, as well. 

The chilly yet soulful, “Full Bloom” is the album’s latest single, and the album title track is centered around Pockson’s soulful, pop belter vocals and a 90s soul meets house music-like production consisting of subtle yet lush layers of arpeggiated synths, twinkling keys, a classic house music breakbeat and a rousingly anthemic hook. And as a result, the song sonically brings Snap!’s “Rhythm Is A Dancer,” Black Box’s “Everybody Everybody” and Soul 2 Soul’s “Get A Life” among others. Lyrically, the song focuses on the fact that while things may seem difficult, that right now is the time to get it together, and save the Earth because time is a-wasiting; if we don’t, we’re all done for.  “The title is in reference to the beauty of the natural world which is so fragile,” Alpine’s Catherine Pockson explains in press notes, “as well as a nod to what we feel we have achieved musically,” after several years of graft and struggle. The song is inspired by a recently UN Climate Change report that said we have maybe a good decade or so before we irrevocably alter the environment — for the worse. “The song is about the climate crisis, our love of the earth, and how time is really running out,” states Catherine Pockson, “The refrain ‘everything has to change” is both a plea for definitive action, and a wake-up call to those who have yet to accept the reality. If we don’t completely change our way of life within the next few years, the damage to the natural world will be irreversible – some of it already is.”

Daniel Isaiah is a Montreal, Quebec, Canada-based singer/songwriter and filmmaker, known for award-winning short films under his full-name Daniel Schachter. The Canadian multimedia artist’s forthcoming album Only One Left is slated for a November 28, 2018 release, and interestingly, the album was written, deeply influenced and book-ended by the saddest and happiest moments of the artist’s life — his mother’s death and his wedding.  Unsurprisingly, the album thematically is centered around the inevitable beginnings and endings of life. Additionally, during that period, Schachter spent nine months traveling across Turkey, Greece, Israel, Italy, the UK, France and The Netherlands with his Nord synthesizer in tow, writing throughout his travels. As Schachter says in press notes, “I recorded in a big house in Istanbul, a tiny hotel room in Amsterdam, and an even tinier bathroom in Tel Aviv (to mute the birds in the backyard).”  Schachter adds that Only One Left is “rooted in my native Montreal, but also in the countries where I went wandering — an outsider looking in. The music itself signals a new phase in my work — still committed to the old craft of songwriting but experimenting with synthesizers and computer to carve out a sound that is my own.”

Schachter returned to Montreal and recruited his friends Brad Barr, Joe Grass and Joshua Teal to play on the album as his backing band — and his friend and frequent collaborator Matthew Lederman to mix the recording sessions. The album’s first single, album opening track “Javelin Fade” is a moody and atmospheric track centered around a sparse arrangement of shimmering electronics, twinkling keys, gently padded drumming  and ethereal vocals — and sonically, to my ears, the song manages to recall Tales of Us-era Goldfrapp and Portishead; however, lyrically, as Schachter notes, the song at points references to the sirens of Greek mythology and to the bomb warning sirens, as the narrator floats over the Earth as the sole witness of nuclear armageddon. Indirectly, the song gently buzzes with the anxiety over the seemingly impending end of the world as we know it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of longtime friends Pat Mahoney, best known as a co-founding member of LCD Soundsystem, and an accomplished drummer, DJ and producer; and electronic music producer Dennis McNany, best known as Jay Dee, Museum of Love is a side project that began over the duo’s shared love of music and museums, a similar sensibility and a shared vocabulary for interpreting their surroundings — with McNany writing most of the music and Mahoney most of the words.Interestingly, “Marching Orders” is the first bit of new material from the duo since the release of their full-length debut in 2014, and as the duo says in press notes of their new single, “Obviously a labor of love. We worked whenever we could for the past three years, 2 weeks on 6 months off, between Pat’s busy tour schedule with LCD and Dennis’ working on film scores and new Jee Day releases.
We had a bunch of unfinished material from the 1st record and were working on new material whenever we could. We worked in home studios; we built our our own recording studio in Dumbo to write and track new material; and, when we were kicked out of that, we snuck into DFA studios as the building was about to be gutted and finished an album’s worth of new material with all the limited time and resources we had. This single is the first product of all our efforts.”

Thematically, the single focuses on moving and moving forward, “an exercise in slapping ourselves in the face, taking stock of this moment we’re in and then out of. To explore the elephantine sadness that plagues us as we find ourselves complicit in our extinction,” the duo says in press notes. “Why do we love? Who do we love? For what do we fight? When faced with displacement, how do you keep moving and whistling on your way?” Sonically, the song is a heady (and perhaps neurotic) and percussive take on house music that recalls Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem and others — and as a result, the song is centered around an infectious groove that suggests to the listener, “Welp, while everything is burning, might as well dance, dance, dance and forget it for a little while.”

New Audio: Tame Impala and Theophilus London Team Up on Two Synth Funk Bangers

Led by singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and creative mastermind Kevin Parker, the Melbourne, Australia-based psych pop act Tame Impala received international attention with the release of their first two albums, 2011’s Innerspeaker and 2012’s Lonerism. Interestingly, 2015’s Currents was centered around some of the most emotionally direct material he had written to date while expanding upon the sound that first caught attention with the material sonically drawing from synth pop, prog rock, R&B and psych pop to create a nuanced, textured and difficult to pigeonhole sound. 

Theophilus London is a Trinidad and Tobago-born, Brooklyn-based emcee, singer/songwriter and producer, who first emerged into the national and international scene with his 2011 debut EP Lovers Holiday, which found the Brooklyn-based emcee/singer/songwriter and producer collaborating with TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, Tegan and Sara’s Sara Quin, Glasser and Solange Knowles and his full-length debut 2011’s Timez are Weird These Days. Both of those early efforts quickly established London’s crowd-pleasing, genre-mashing sound and approach, which draws from soul, pop, post-punk, electro-pop, electro R&B, hip-hop and R&B — and that shouldn’t be surprising as London has publicly cited Michael Jackson, Prince, Kraftwerk and The Smiths as influences on his work.  2013’s sophomore effort VIBES found London collaborating with Jesse Boykins III and Kanye West, who was the album’s executive producer — and from album single “Tribe,” the album’s material further cemented London’s reputation for club-banging, synth pop-influenced hip-hop. 

So in some way, it shouldn’t be surprising that both genre-defying artists have collaborated together in a project informally dubbed Theo Impala, which has already released two singles — the first single, the swaggering “Whiplash” is a thorough and seamless amalgamation of their sound and approach, as it features London spitting fiery bars over layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and Parker’s ethereal backing vocals singing a sugary pop-meets-soul melody. In some way, the song recalls 80s hip-hop, 80s synth soul, Crime Cutz-era Holy Ghost! and Dam-Funk among others. The second track is a cover Steve Monite’s Nigerian boogie hit “Only You” and while their cover is somewhat straightforward, it manages to possess a contemporary production sheen that gives the song a retro-futuristic thump. 

Black Bear Whisper is the collaborative dark, electro pop project of Danish singer/songwriter and producer Kat Boelskov, who has released music that has been largely ignored in her homeland but has found some popularity among the Mexican gay community; and the London-born Iranian producer Unfamed, who has collaborated in a number of projects, including this one, which has already seen praise from Allmusic, Uncut and The Quietus among others — also, Unfamed also spent 18 years studying the Iranian santur, a 72 stringed dulcimer, played with small wooden hammers, developing a reputation for being one of the best santur-players outside of Iran.

Interestingly, the duo have never met in person but they can trace the origins of their long-distance collaboration to a chance meeting on the Internet. Although their collaboration is currently based primarily in email and music files, the duo quickly realized that the material they had begun working on centered around extremely dark themes with lyrics that specifically focused on anger, euphoria, jealousy, deception, desire and other forbidden emotions and thoughts. Sonically speaking, the duo’s work is defiantly difficult to categorize as it pairs modern electronic production with santur, adding an ancient vibe to the proceedings.

The duo’s latest single, the Garbage meets glittering disco-like “1000 Eyes” features a funky disco-inspired bass line, four-on-the-floor drumming, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, blasts of shimmering santur chords — and while dance floor friendly, the song thematically focuses on selfishness, self-obsession, blind, spiteful rage at everything and everyone. As the duo’s Kat Boelskov says in press notes, “I’m self-obsessed, and I’m angry. All I ever see is me, and no-one else ever meets my expectations. Every good act I do is for myself only. If I’m nice to you, it’s only another tactic, another play. I try above all else to be in control, to not give you a chance to gain equality. When I fear that you may be my equal, I desperately try to hold you down, by whatever means.” Of course, what makes the song so disturbing is that it’s rooted in a profound and deeply cynical truth about human nature — people can be selfish, delusional, greedy, stupid assholes. We see it every single day in the Trump Administration and elsewhere.

 

 

New Video: Austin’s Pastel Ghost Releases Brooding Visuals for “3NDL3SS”

With the release of her critically applauded full-length debut ABYSS, the Oakland, CA-born, Austin, TX-based electronic music producer and artist Pastel Ghost quickly received attention for an ethereal, genre-defying sound that meshes elements of dream pop, post-punk, EDM and electronica. Building upon a growing profile with the electro pop scene, the Oakland-born, Austin-based electronic music producer and electronic music producer’s sophomore album Ethereality was released earlier this month through  Cleopatra Records — and as you may recall, last month I wrote about album single “Mercury,” a gauzy, shoegazer-like take on club music with a cinematic bent. “3NDL3SS,” Ethereality’s latest single is a brooding and chilly track centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping tweeter and woofer rocking beats, Pastel Ghost’s ethereal vocals and a sinuous hook which give the song a swooning and urgent quality. As Pastel Ghost explained to self-titled “‘3NDL3SS’ is about those initial feelings of falling in love—wanting to live in that feeling forever and never wanting it to end, while also being scared that that person could disappear at any moment.”

Directed by Anise Mariko, the recently released video for “3NDL3SS,” features Pastel Ghost broodingly wandering around a neon-lit city, which further emphasizes the brooding nature of the song. 

New Video: MUNYA Release Dreamy Visuals for “Hotel Delmano”

Josie Bolvin is a Quebec-based, classically trained pianist and opera vocalist, as well as an electronic pop producer, singer/songwriter and artist, best known as MUNYA — and as the story goes Bolvin had only written one song when she was asked to perform at last year’s Pop Montreal. Ironically, at the time, Bolvin had never intended to pursue music full-time but after playing at the festival, she quickly realized that what she was meant to do — be a musician. So Bolvin quit her day job, moved in with her sister and turned their kitchen into a home recording studio where she wrote every day. These recordings would eventually become part of an EP trilogy — with each EP comprised of three songs — named after a significant place in Bolvin’s life. Her self-released debut North Hatley derives its name from one of Bolvin’s favorite little villages in Quebec and her second EP Delmano, which was released earlier this month through Fat Possum Records derives its name from Williamsburg Brooklyn’s Hotel Delmano.

Delmano‘s first single ”Hotel Delmano” is a breezy and mischievous, synth-based tale of melancholy surrealism, centered by Bolvin’s ethereal vocals singing completely in her native French. Interestingly, the song is largely inspired by a dream Bolvin had that was inspired by the video for Vendredi sur Mer‘s “La Femme à la Peau Bleue.” As Bolvin says in press notes, “I watched it so many times that she entered my dreams once we were having a drink at Hotel Delmano. The song is about that dream.”  Sonically, the song sounds as though it should be a part of the soundtrack of a Michel Gondry film in which its sad protagonist gets thrown into a whimsical and colorful world while recalling La Femme, Polo & Pan, and others.

The recently released video premiered over at Highsnobiety, and as Bolvin told the folks there, “The song ‘Hotel Delmano’ came to me in a dream. So when it was time to make the video, I wanted it to have the same feeling—an ambiguous collection of images, whose meaning is derived by the connection of the time and place. We shot this in my hometown, visiting the most ‘trivial’ and ‘unremarkable’ places that I’ve known my whole life but now feel like a dream.”