Category: Electro Pop

Over the past couple of months you may have come across a couple of posts on Behdad Netjabakshe, Paris, France-based electronic music producer and electronic music artist, best known in electronic music circles as Uppermost. Netjabakshe has received international material for material released through a number of renowned labels including Sony BMGMinistry of SoundBugEyed RecordsStarlight Records and his own Uppwind Records. And adding to a growing internationally recognized profile, Netjabakshe’s “Equivocal” landed at number 3 on Beatport’s electro house charts back in 2009, his Biscuit Factory EP ranked first on the JunoDownload electro-house charts — and he has had his work playlisted by superstar artists and producers such as TiestoArmin van Buren and Steve Angello, as well as received attention for his remixes of Daft Punkdeadmau5BurialCrystal CastlesJonathan CoultonSyl JohnsonCongorock and countless others.

You may remember that the Paris-based producer and electronic music artist’s forthcoming full-length album Origins 2011-2016 is a massive 23 song LP that features some of the Frenchman’s most popular tunes — including “Flashback,” “Beautiful Light,” “Reminder” “Mistakes” as well as a ton of new material including the shimmering and anthemic M83-channeling single “Thousand Colors,”and the Pink Floyd-channeling, funky and cinematic “Reminder.” “Emotion,”Origins’ latest single much like “Thousand Colors” will likely remind some listeners of the aforementioned M83 as the song features layers of cascading and shimmering synth chords paired with a soaring and anthemic hook and a sinuous bass line — with a swooning and Romantic heart at its core.

 

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Featuring brothers Alix, Miles and Reece Melendrez and schoolmate Matt Mumician, Decorator  is an up-and-coming Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock/indie soul quartet, who publicly claim a rather wide and diverse array of influences that include the music the Melenderez Brothers heard quite a deal of while growing up — Jimi Hendrix, The Isley Brothers, Bob Marley and contemporary acts like Lauryn Hill, Wu-Tang Clan, Gorillaz and others. And interestingly enough, the project which attribute their name from a famous Frank Zappa quote “without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production headlines or dates by which bills must be paid” can trace their origins to when the Melendrez Brothers taught themselves how to play covers of the songs they heard so much growing up. As high schoolers, the Melendrez Brothers began writing their own music — and their folks drove them to school night gigs in which they played in bars they weren’t even be allowed in without their gear.

 

Wanting to master their instruments and to do their own thing, the Melendrez Brothers enrolled themselves at Silverlake Conservatory of Music, founded by Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ Flea, where they met and befriended fellow student Mumician and started writing music together. However, it took several years before the band took their music out of garage rehearsals and house parties and were able to concentrate on their music full-time, as the band’s youngest member, Reece Melendrez honored his promise to his folks to graduate from high school before making music a full-time effort.

With the release of their 2014 self-released debut EP Transit, the band quickly received a growing local profile and fanbase, including their first headlining set at the renowned Troubadour, thanks in part to a sound that draws equally from classic soul, indie rock, contemporary pop and neo soul — and in a way that manages to be uncompromisingly difficult to pigeonhole. The Los Angeles-based quartet’s latest single sonically speaking seems to owe an equal debt to Tame Impala‘s Currents, the Cascine Records roster, Neon Indian and 80s synth soul as the quartet pairs shimmering and undulating synths with a sinuous groove, an infectious hook and Miles Melendez’s sultry falsetto.  Lyrically, the song’s vulnerable narrator admits to be run around in circles by an unrequited and cruel love interest, with whom he feels desperately and inexplicably pulled towards — and as much as he wants to pull away, to move forward with his life, he feels trapped in a vicious and unfulfilling circle. Certainly, what’s remarkable to me about this band is the fact that their material manages to possess a maturity and self-assuredness that belies their youth.

 

 

 

 

 

Although over the past twenty years or so Cape Verde, the tiny island nation comprised of an archipelago of 10 different, volcanic islands off the Northwestern coast of Africa has been hailed as one of the continent’s most stable democracies, its history suggests that things were very different. With a prime location in the Atlantic Ocean, the island nation was uninhabited until the 15th century, when the Portuguese colonized it, established it was not only the first European settlement in the tropics; but as a major commercial center and stopover point for the Transatlantic Slave Trade during the 16th and 17th centuries. The decline and eventual abolition of the slave trade in the 19th century resulted in a crippling economic crisis; however, because of the island’s location in the middle of major shipping lanes, it quickly became an important commercial center and port. Interestingly, with few natural resources and inadequate sustainable investment from the Portuguese, who had controlled the island nation for the better part of 300 years, Cape Verde’s citizens had become increasingly frustrated with colonial rule.

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, a series of independence and nationalist movements across colonized Africa began sprouting up across Africa –including Cape Verde. In 1951, Portugal changed the island nation’s status from a colony to overseas province in an attempt to blunt Cape Verdeans growing nationalism; however, by 1956 Amilcar Cabral led a group of Cape Verdeans and Guineans, who formed the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). The group demanded improvement in economic, social and political conditions in Cape Verde and Portuguese Guinea — and interestingly enough, formed the basis of both nations’ independence movement. After moving its headquarters to Conakry, Guinea in 1960, the PAIGC began an armed rebellion the following year, which resulted in a bloody and complicated civil war that had Soviet Bloc-supported PAIGC fighting Portuguese and African troops.

Portuguese Guinea declared independence in 1973 and was granted de jure independence the following year as Guinea-Bissau. Amilcar Cabral led Cape Verde’s burgeoning independence movement until his assassination that same year, then led by Cabral’s half-brother Luis Cabral, who led the archipelago nation to independence in 1975. Much like their counterparts across the continent, the tiny island nation suffered through the similar ills of a society born by and influenced by colonialism, slavery and greed struggling to integrate into a rapidly globalizing world — and not quite knowing how to do so. The sense of detachment from the modern world fostered among Cape Verdeans a yearning to integrate, to connect with the larger world in any way that they could. And those who emigrated to the cosmopolitan European cities didn’t find much respite as Cape Verdeans were viewed as “hot-blooded” “dropouts” and “juvenile delinquents.” However, with the ready availability of electronic instruments, a doorway to a sense of modernity and an perceived anchor in their adopted homes was understandably seductive. As Val Xalino, a Cape Verdean-born, Gothenburg, Sweden-based electronic music artist and pioneer of his birthplace’s electronic sound explains in press notes “Cape Verdeans were celebrating their independence and with that the dancing became even more important.People wanted to hear something different. They wanted the synthesizer!”

Émigré musicians began traveling back and forth between Europe and their island homeland with luggage packed with synthesizers and MIDI instruments. And although many were primarily urban-based, musicians began frequent traveling to the countryside to learn the rhythms and melodies of rural farmers, frequently sampling melodies played off of slightly off-tune and damaged accordions and other field recordings. The result was this weird and compelling sound that drew from folk melodies and rhythms and contemporary electronic production — and from both African and European influences. The hearts and minds of a new nation of passionate, musically-included people were enthralled, including Paulino Viera, who would quickly become the island nation’s most important, beloved and influential musician.

Veira was especially drawn to keyboard-based instruments as he had honed his skills playing organ and piano at a Catholic seminary. His musical career started in earnest as a backing member of the renowned vocalist Cesaria Evora, whose cavaquinho-based folk songs received international attention while being instrumental in establishing the island nation as a music scene worthy of your attention — especially if you were into music across the wildly diverse African Diaspora. Interestingly, an underground electronic music scene had started with Viera leading charge once he relocated to Lisbon, Portugal, where he lead Voz de Cabo Verde, a beloved ensemble that frequently collaborated with other Cape Verdean-born musicians across the Diaspora. As Elisio Gomes, a Cape Verdean-born, Paris-based vocalist, who collaborated with Veira often, explained in press notes ““Paulino was the most visionary. He always had this gift to be 10 years ahead of his time. That’s why our music sounds like it was produced today.”

Now, as I’ve mentioned frequently on this site, the technological advances brought forth by computers and the Internet have made discovering new and extremely rare, lost music from known and little known artists much easier, all while contributing to the proliferation of extremely niche based labels, who are willing to take careful and thoughtful risks based around the tastes and listening habits of their staff and their most fervent followers. Naturally, it meant these smaller, niche labels would frequently spend their time re-introducing artists, whose work was so far ahead of its time that audiences just couldn’t grasp it upon its initial release — and yet fills in an important gap historically speaking; re-introducing regionally favored artists, whose work should have seen a bigger audience but didn’t; releasing music from various locations around the world that Westerners should know and love but was largely ignored; to provide an alternate history of developments across a genre — based on a region or a country that Westerners had long ignored and so on. And adding to a growing list of small labels releasing cool stuff, Ostinato Records will be releasing a cool compilation of electronic music from Cape Verde — a compilation in which the aforementioned Paulino Veira contributes to about half the songs — titled Ostinato Records Presents: Synthesize The Soul: Astro-Atlantic Hypnotica From The Cape Verde Island 1973-1988.

And through 18 extremely diverse tracks, the compilation will reveal how immigration from Cape Verde to Europe and the US created an alternate history of electronic music that had been largely ignored by most Westerners. Manuel Gomes’ “Jelivrà Bo Situaçon” pairs propulsive African percussion, shuffling Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, twisting and turning keyboard chords played on what sounds like an old Casio keyboard paired with Gomes’ softly yearning, bittersweet vocals and is the compilation’s first single. Sonically speaking while the song clearly has the mark of either decidedly lo-fi production or comes as the result of re-mastering from old analog masters, it possesses a hypnotic, cosmic glow with groove and melody turning into one cohesive unit. And while being a bit bittersweet, the song at its core possesses the sense of unbridled freedom and possibility of the dance floor, and the hopes and dreams of a new nation learning to create its own image and history for itself.

 

 

 

 

Now, if you had been frequenting this site back in 2015, you may recall that I once wrote about the New York/London-based electro pop outfit Stereo Off. Initially formed in 2012 as the solo recording project of frontman Sebastian Marciano, the project eventually evolved into a quintet whose sound drew from indie rock, classical music and electronic music. And by the following year, the quintet had played in a number of renowned venues across NYC including the Knitting Factory and Glasslands and had their music featured in sevaerl short films that made the film festival circuit, which added to a growing profile locally and nationally. Building upon the growing buzz, the project released their first two efforts — 2014’s New York EP and 2015’s The Long Hot Winter, which landed them a CMJ Festival appearance that year.

After several lineup changes over the past year or so, the band has settled into a trio featuring Marciano (vocals) and Niall Madden, a guitarist, who in that same period has switched from guitar to bass on most of their latest material and Bridget Fitzgerald (synths). Along with that, the band has gone through a change in sonic direction and songwriting approach that has each member frequently filling in where necessary and not always playing their primary instrument. And as you’ll hear on their sensual New Order and Yaz-inspired single “Venir” off the band’s appropriately titled, forthcoming EP III, the newly constituted trio’s sound has become more dance floor friendly as the band pairs a sinuous bass line with shimmering synths, Marciano sultry and plaintive vocals, a tight motorik-like groove and their while retaining renowned penchant for crafting tight, anthemic hooks.

Over the course of last year, the London-based indie pop duo Ten Fe won the attention of the blogosphere and this site with the release of anthemic singles  “Make Me Better,” and “In The Air,” followed by “Turn” and “Overflow” off the duo’s much-anticipated full-length debut effort Hit The Light, which is slated for a February 3, 2017 release through Some Kind of Love Records/[PIAS] Recordings. The duo of Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan ended a breakthrough 2016 with a Christmas gift to their fans, a moody, New Order-inspired take on Underworld‘s 1996 thunderous, club banger “Born Slippy.” And building upon the increasingly buzz for the band and their forthcoming (and highly-anticipated) full-length debut, the duo released Hit The Light‘s latest single “Twist Your Arm,” a single that sonically nods at Zonoscope-era Cut Copy and the soaring, earnest pop hooks of Snow Patrol as the duo pair shimmering and bluesy guitar with enormous, tweeter and woofer beats, plaintive vocals and an undulating groove. And much like their previously released singles, the duo’s latest single will further cement their burgeoning reputation for slickly produced yet incredibly sincere, anthemic pop that effortlessly meshes analog and electronic production.

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Emanuele Chiarelli (vocals, guitar), Simone Constantino De Luca (programming, keys) and Fabio Consentino (bass), the Consenza, Italy-based  new wave/synth-gaze trio Electric Floor over their 8 year run together, have developed a reputation for being among their homeland’s more interesting and up-and-coming underground acts. And with their recent signing to Vipchoyo Sound Factory, the label home of internationally acclaimed acts Stella Diana and Vibrissae, the Consenza-based trio have clear plans and hopes to expand their profile internationally with the March 6, 2017 release of their third full-length effort, Fader, an album that finds the band taking their sound in a much more synth pop/industrial electronica-leaning direction as you’ll hear on the propulsive, club-friendly,  Depeche Mode and New Order inspired single “Bluedive.”

As the band’s Emanuele Chiarelli explains “‘Bluedive’ is like a surge. It was born during a bad period for us. Initially, it was only messy ideas, but we gradually gave it are form. The lyrics are suspended between romance and sadness, anger and exhortation. Just like the other songs, our lyrics in this one are very emotional and tidal.” And as a result the song possesses a swooning, visceral and passionate urgency based around both the internal dialogue among the members of the band and within one’s psyche, and the confused feelings and sensations romance and heartache inspire within us.

 

 

 

 

Initially releasing material as OSCA, the London-based indie pop quartet Colouring have received attention for crafting earnest and anthemic indie electro pop with the release of their Symmetry EP earlier this year, an effort that’s been compared to HONNE, Chet Faker and Aquilo — and the EP’s latest single, EP title track “Symmetry” will not only further cement the British quartet’s growing profile, as it possesses a soaring and anthemic hook paired with atmospheric synths, shimmering guitar chords and plaintive vocals; but it may also be their most lush, fully-fleshed out song to date.

 

 

With the release of “Pavement” earlier this year, the Brooklyn-based songwriter, producer and electronic music artist Daniel Balk, best known as Stray Echo received attention for a breezy, Afropop and electro pop inspired production consisting of propulsive, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, a sinuous and funky guitar line and a flirtatious hook that seems inspired by Grace Jones’ Pull Up to The Bumper” — while also talking about the role of the internet and social media in our increasingly politically charged world in an incredibly subtle fashion.

The up-and-coming producer recently enlisted the Grammy-nominated, JOVM mainstays Sofi Tukker to remix the song, a song that the duo have been enormous fans of, and their remix completely re-imagines the song as a classic house music track, complete with stuttering and propulsive percussion, shimmering synths and tweeter and woofer rattling beats, while retaining the song’s sultry flirtatiousness and its crowd-pleasing, club banging nature.

 

 

 

Live Footage: Up-and-Coming, French Producer Zimmer Performs “Lost Your Mind”

With the release of a string of high-profile remixes of MØ, Vallis Alps, Gallant, Fakear and others, and his first two original singles “Galapagos” and “Saturday Love,” the Paris-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Zimmer quickly established himself as part of a new crop of Paris-based producers and electronic music artists including fellow labelmates Darius, FKJ and Kartell, who have been busily redefining French electronic music — sonically, thematically and lyrically.

Zimmer’s 2015 EP Coming of Age may have arguably been his breakthrough effort, as the material possessed a refined, minimalist sound with songs that oscillated between euphoria and nostalgia. However, the up-and-coming French producer’s recently released EP Ceremony reportedly finds him further expanding upon his sound as the material draws from downtempo electro pop, dream pop and dance floor-friendly house music — sometimes simultaneously as you’ll hear on the EP’s latest single “Lost Your Mind,” which features ethereal guest vocals from Fhin paired with shimmering cascades of undulating synths, twinkling keys, warm blasts of guitar and propulsive beats. Sonically speaking, the song is somewhat reminiscent of In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and of Moonbabies’ gorgeous Wizards on the Beach.

Recently, the French producer released live footage of him with Fhin performing the song surrounded by mood-setting lights.