Category: Electro Pop

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Pond’s Bittersweet Ode to Small Pleasures When the World is Ending

Over the past handful of years of this site’s almost nine-year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed psych pop act POND fronted by its Perth, Australia-based mastermind, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jay Watson, along with Nicholas Allbrook, Shiny Joe Ryan, Jamie Terry and Jamie Ireland. With the project’s first three albums —  2009’s Psychedelic Mango, 2010’s Frond and 2012’s Beard, Wives, Denim found POND’s sound moving from straightforward psych rock to a decidedly pop leaning sound.

Since then, Watson and company have released a series of critically applauded albums include 2017’s The Weather, which both continued the project’s ongoing collaboration with Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and further cemented the band’s reputation for crafting trippy yet accessible pop. Now, as you may recall, Watson and company released “Burnt Out Star,” the first bit of new material from the Perth Australia-based psych pop act in some time and the expansive track managed to nod a bit at at Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond Parts I-V and VI-IX” but centered around the aforementioned shimmering synths and propulsive beats, making it deceptively arena rock friendly. Interestingly, that track was informally, the first single off POND’s forthcoming album Tasmania, an album conceived as a sort of sister missive to its predecessor. 

Slated for a March 1, 2019 release through Interscope Records, the new album is reportedly a dejected and heartbroken meditation on planetary discord, water, machismo, shame, blame and responsibility, love, blame and empire. And while coasting on an undercurrent of the restless, anxious dread we’re all desperately feeling, the material instead of wallowing in self-pity also reportedly encourages the reader to celebrate the small things — frolicking in the ocean, rolling around in the grass, the sweet feeling of being in love and so on, while we still can. “Daisy,” the album’s latest single and opening track beings with a mournful string-led introduction, before the curtain is opened, and the track turns into a shimmering, synth pop-based, power ballad centered around a sinuous and propulsive bass line and Allbrook’s ethereal falsetto. The track sees Allbrook imagining his childhood friends and family in the Kimberly region in chains — whether rightfully so or not, is up to the listener; but the track toys with the idea of bitterly retreating to Tasmania to lick their wounds. But there’s also the recognition of retreating just before everything gets fucked up beyond recognition. 

Directed by Jesse Taylor Smith and featuring aerial cinematography by Joseph Ryan, the recently released video for “Daisy” was shot in the lands of the Kulin and Nyoongar Nations — but it suggests the ruins of a country and civilization from its hubris and greed with the bandmembers enjoying some small pleasures — playing with a beloved dog, daydreaming on a lazy summer day. Sometimes small pleasures are the only thing we can cling to when everything is on fire. 

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Micha de Jonge is a Dutch-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and producer, who has received attention both nationally and internationally with his pastel colored, 80s inspired, indie electro pop recording project Kita Menari. de Jonge’s debut single “Young Lovers” was included on Apple Music’s “Best of the Week,” as well as Spotify’s New Music Friday playlists in both the UK and Holland, where it would go on to appear in the top 5 of both country’s Spotify Viral Charts. Building upon a growing profile, de Jonge quickly set about assembling a backing band, comprised of Jonne Venmans, Job Fisser, Daniel Zoutni and Samuel Veerhuis, and with that backing band played live sessions on Radio 2FM and Radio 3FM — all before they played their first live show. Speaking of the act’s first live show: it was a live session on popular Dutch TV show De Wereld Draait Door that was seen by over a million people.

Interestingly, the project’s name can trace its origins to a trip the Dutch singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and producer took to Malaysia. While scuba diving, de Jonge’s tank got jammed underwater, and as a result, he was forced to race to the surface on his final breath of air. Once on land, his adrenaline-fueled recounting of the story eventually blurred into an entire night’s worth of partying. And as the story goes, when he woke up he noticed the words “Kita Menari” scribbled on a piece of pace found in his pocket. “I don’t know how it got there and I didn’t know that the words meant ‘we dance’ in Malay. As soon as I found out I thought ‘that’s it’! From now on that is going to be the motto of my song writing,” de Jonge recalls.

When he returned to Holland, de Jonge set about songwriting with a more reflective angle while drawing from Passion Pit, MGMT, and Phoenix among others. Additionally, de Jonge’s work is largely inspired by his unique living arrangement — he resides on a 40 hectare estate called Doorn Huis, famously known as the final home and resting place of Germany’s last Kaiser, Wilhelm II. In the Netherlands the government has a program where you can apply to live in some weird and wonderful places to deter squatters and burglars” de Jonge explains. “I won’t bore you with the history but it means I’m surrounded by gardens, fields, even a palace, it’s a really incredible environment which helps to inspire the music I write.”

His latest single “Pretty Sure” will further cement his reputation for crafting infectious and rousingly anthemic synth pop as the track features a slick production centered around shimmering synths, thumping beats and a soaring hook — and while sonically bearing a resemblance to St. Lucia, the song finds its narrator expressing crippling self doubt and uncertainty, giving the song’s overwhelming sunny, dance floor friendly vibes, a murky and ironic quality. The song revolves about a common conversation I have with myself: whether or not what I’m doing creatively is good enough, and the fear of letting that feeling go,” de Jonge explains. “Having big ambitions and dreams can sometimes have a negative effect on the process of achieving them. It’s like having an angel on one shoulder telling you to go for it while a demon sits on the other telling you it’s not good enough. I wanted there to be a sonic build throughout the song that would erupt after the second chorus, as a sign of letting that fear go and having creativity burst free.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Ibibio Sound Machine Globalist and Genre-Bending Take on Dance Music

Fronted by Nigerian-born vocalist Eno Williams and featuring Alfred Kari Bannerman (guitar), Anselmo Netto (percussion), Jose Joyette (drums), Derrick McIntyre (bass), Tony Hayden (trombone, synth), Scott Baylis (trumpet, synth) and Max Grunhard (sax, synth), the London-based act Ibibio Sound Machine through the release of their first two albums 2014’s self-titled album and 2017’s Uyai has received attention both nationally and internationally for a sound that draws influence from golden era West African funk and disco, and contemporary post-punk and electro pop. 

The London-based act’s third, full-length album Doko Mien is slated for a March 22, 2019 release through Merge Records, and the album which derives its name from the Ibibio phase that translates into English as “tell me,” reportedly finds the act crafting a sonic world of entrancing specificity and comforting universality, essentially blurring the lines separating cultures, between nature and technology, between joy and pain, between tradition and the future. 

Doko Mien’s latest single, album title track “Doko Mien,” is centered around a glimmering and mind-bending production featuring  80s synth funk meets disco-like beats, arpeggiated synths, African polyrhythm, a sinuous bass line and pizzicato guitar and an explosive horn arrangement. Sonically, the song strikes me as a wild, genre-bending amalgamation of I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan, Prince, Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” Chicago house and Fela Kuti — and adding to the globalist vibes, Williams soulfully sings lyrics in both English and Ibibio, the Nigerian dialect from which the London-based act derives its name.  Simply put, the track is a club banger with an infectious, jubilant hook. 

Nick van Hofwegen is a Southern Holland-born, London-based visual artist and electronic music artist and producer, best known as Young & Sick. Initially attempting the traditional route of art through design school, the Dutch-born van Hofwegen found its cookie-cutter leanings discouraging, and it led him to drop out after completing his first year. He began working at a car parts factory in rural Holland and quit his job, eventually moving to London. While in London, his friend Mark, the frontman of internationally recognized band Foster the People, introduced him to comedian Andy Dick, who came across some of his visual art and championed it. Additionally, Mark asked van Hofwegen to do the artwork for his band’s 2011 debut Torches.

Although the Southern Holland-born, London-based visual artist, electronic music artist and producer released a full-length album back in 2014, last year was a breakthrough year for him. Last January saw the release of his Ojai EP, an attention-grabbing effort that was a reintroduction to van Hofwegen’s sound and aesthetic. Adding to a growing profile, van Hofwegen was profiled in NYLON — and EP title track “Ojai” was featured in an ad campaign for Apple Watch.  van Hofwegen followed Ojai EP with the release of the No Static EP, which received praise coverage from The Fader and Variety. Oh, and before I forget, van Hofwegen was chosen to cover Passion Pit’s “Sleepyhead” for Neon Gold Records‘ 10 Year Anniversary compilation.

Live the Dutch-born, London-based visual artist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer played a run of critically applauded SXSW sets, including Neon Gold’s Neon Golden showcase. He played his first Stateside headlining shows in over 4 years with a pair of Los Angeles and NYC dates that featured an interactive multimedia experience. As an artist, van Hofwegen had his first ever fine art gallery show last August, which featured a series of his original visual and sculptural pieces — and he designed the album art for Maroon 5‘s Overexposed, Mikky Ekko’s “Kids,” as well as for his work.

Building upon a breakthrough 2018, van Hofwegen will be releasing a new EP that’s slated for a spring release through Neon Gold Records/B3SCI Records. The EP’s first single “Bitter End” manages to sound indebted to Teddy Riley-era New Jack Swing, classic Chicago house and C+C Music Factory as the track is centered by a production that features tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, twinkling synths, soulful vocals and rousingly anthemic hooks. Simply put, it’s a club banger that manages radio friendly accessibility, complete with a “you got this, man” air. Interestingly, as van Hofwegen explains “‘Bitter End’ is a celebration of seeing things through completely.  It’s looking back at a pretty wild year of countless obstacles and turbulent skies. Through the eyes of an unstoppable manic.”

van Hofwegen will be opening for The Knocks during their 2019 North American tour during the winter. The tour will include a February 23, 2019 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Check out the tour dates below.  Also tickets are on sale here.

Jan 24 // Vancouver, CA @ Fortune Sound Club
Jan 25 // Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
Jan 29 // Chico, CA @ Senator Theatre
Jan 31 // Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
Feb 1 // San Luis Obispo, CA @ The Fremont Theatre
Feb 2 // Los Angeles, CA @ The Novo
Feb 5 // Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf
Feb 6 // Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
Feb 8 // Dallas, TX @ Dada Dallas
Feb 9 // Austin, TX @ Historic Scoot Inn
Feb 10 // Houston, TX @ Bronze Peacock Room
Feb 12 // St. Louis, MO @ The Ready Room
Feb 14 // Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall
Feb 15 // Columbus, OH @ A&R Music Bar
Feb 16 // Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
Feb 17 // Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Feb 20 // Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
Feb 21 // Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
Feb 23 // Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel

With the release of “Blue” and “Arc” off his forthcoming EP try to be okay, slated for a February 15, 2019 release through Akira Records, the up-and-coming Brisbane, Australia-born singer/songwriter and producer Yoste (pronounced like ‘lost’) quickly received attention across the blogosphere for dreamy and minimalist electro pop. “Chihiro,” the Brisbane-born singer/songwriter and producer’s latest single will further cement his growing reputation for crafting dreamy, minimalist electro pop with the track being centered around shimmering synths, strummed acoustic guitar, shuffling and percussive beats — and a breezy hook. The track evokes a gentle and joyful reverie through nature; of being lost within your own sense of wonder.

“This was the first song I wrote for Yoste. It wasn’t all that long ago and yet it feels as if it was. I wanted to keep it very simple, almost bare,” the Brisbane-born singer/songwriter and producer explains. “The structure is unconventional. There is a single melody, only two verses and no real chorus. I wanted the vocals to be almost childlike in their melody and sound, which largely stemmed from the ethereal nature of the instrumentation. Thematically it was about trying to capture a feeling of wonder, of being lost in a good way. I wanted it to feel the way Hayao Miyazaki films feel, hence the name Chihiro.”

 

With the release of their slow-burning, genre-bending debut single “Just Wanna See,” the Washington, DC-based indie electro pop trio SHAED, comprised of multi-instrumentalists, production duo and twin brothers Max and Spencer Ernest and Chelsea Lee (vocals) quickly received attention for a sound that has been favorably compared to Florence & The Machine, Sia, Justin Timberlake and Sylvan Esso. However, “Trampoline,” which appears on their latest EP, 2018’s Melt has been their breakout hit, as it recently made a prominent appearance in Apple’s ad campaign for the new MacBook Air — and once you hear the song, it shouldn’t be surprising as to why it was chosen: Lee’s sultry vocals float ethereally over a slick, hyper-modern yet chilly production centered around wobbling and arpeggiated synths, finger snaps, a distorted backing vocal sampled and a soaring hook.  And while bearing an uncanny resemblance to JOVM mainstays Sylvan Esso, the track is infectious and radio friendly.

Building upon a growing profile, the members of the Washington, DC-based indie electro pop trio will be making appearances at Firefly Music Festival and Electric Forest, as part of a headlining national tour that includes a February 22, 2019 stop at Baby’s All Right. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates
2/22 @ The Rec Room (WLKK) in Buffalo, NY #
2/13 @ The Camden Assembly Pub in London, UK #
2/24 @ Subterranean in Chicago, IL #
2/26 @ Great Scott in Allston, MA #
2/27 @Baby’s All Right in New York, NY #
3/1 @ Boot & Saddle in Philadelphia, PA #
3/2 @ U Street Music Hall in Washington, DC #
3/6 @ The Drake Underground in Toronto, CA #
3/7 @ The Hollow (WEQX) in Albany, NY #
3/9 @ Steadfast Festival in Columbus, OH
3/12 @ Pub Rock (ALT AZ) in Phoenix, AZ #
3/13 @ Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles, CA #
3/15 @ Popscene in San Francisco, CA #
6/21-23 @ Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE
6/27-30 @ Electric Forest in Rothbury, MI

 

# Headline

 

86’d from Neon Indian on Vimeo.

Alan Palomo is a Mexican-born, Denton, TX-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist, producer and film maker, best known for his acclaimed solo recording project Neon Indian. And with the release of four full-length albums and an EP — 2009’s Psychic Chasms, 2013’s Era Extraña, the Errata Anex EP and 2015’s Vega Intl. Night School, Palomo established a reputation for crafting a slickly produced synth pop sound that sounds indebted to PrinceThrillerBad and Dangerous-era Michael Jackson and the synth funk/synth R&B sounds of the late 70s and early 80s – in particular think of The Whispers  Heatwave Evelyn “Champagne” King’, Cherelle and an even lengthier list of others.

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve written about Palomo and Neon Indian and as it turns out that Palomo had spent the past couple of years working on 86’d, his first narrative short. As Palomo says in press notes, 86’d is “a love letter to New York cinema and in a way, a final recapitulation of the Night School universe. Shot on 16mm over the course of three nights, it was an ambitious undertaking for all parties involved but honestly making it was such a blast that at times felt like just that, a party. I’m eternally grateful to all the wonderful people that came together to realize this kooky project and proud to finally be able to share it with music and movie goers alike.

Directed by Palomo, written by Palomo and Kai Flanders, edited by Pete Ohs and Dustin Reid, the film stars Buddy Duress (Good Time, Heaven Knows What), Lindsay Burdge (Easy, Thirst Street, The Midnight Swim), Seaton Smith (Top Five, Mulaney), Chase Williamson (John Dies at The End), Mitzi Akaha (Lowlives, Dark Side of The Moon) and musician Alex Frankel (Holy Ghost) as well as Palomo. Set in Ed Koch-era NYC, Max takes a mouthful of mescaline and desperately tries to make it home before it kicks in. On his way, he decided to stop at an all-night deli for a quick, late night meal. After numerous order delays and full-on trip stampeding into his psyche, he is made to pay witness to the colorful cast of lower east side weirdos, visualizing their stories through his newly altered lens: A Times Square dominatrix meets up with one of her regulars to reveal an answering message left by his wife. Two punks discuss an ultimatum as one reveals his connection to a pistol found in a drug bust. A recording engineer convinces an aspiring singer to re-record a destroyed vocal take from a canonic 80s group and attempts to pass it off as the original. Visually speaking, the short reminds me quite a bit of Martin Scorcese’s After Hours as it describes a New York and New York characters that are sadly long gone.

Along with the film, Palomo wrote and recorded the short’s theme song “Heaven’s Basement,” a fittingly 80s inspired, dance floor friendly track, centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, a scorching distortion pedal effect-drenched guitar solo paired with Palomo’s dreamy falsetto. Interestingly, while the new track will further cement Palomo’s reputation for crafting slickly produced, dance floor friendly synth pop, it possesses a lysergic, mind-altering air.

 

Comprised of core duo singer/songwriter Max Greenhalgh and multi-instrumentalist Bryce Outcault, along with a rotating cast of musicians and collaborators, the Los Angeles-based indie pop act Inspired & the Sleep first received attention across Southern California with the release of their debut album, 2014’s Eyelid Kid, an album comprised of dream pop-leaning material. Since then the act has developed a reputation for a sound that incorporates traditional indie rock instrumentation with electronics and vinyl sampling paired with lyrics that thematically touch upon intimacy, introspection and love both lost and found. And as a result, the duo have been featured on a number of sites across the blogosphere including Spin, Vice Noisey, Pigeons and Planes, Hilly Dilly, this site and others. Adding to a growing profile, Inspired & the Sleep has opened for a number of national touring acts including Switchfoot, Sure Sure, Colony House, Mating Ritual, The Dodos, SALES, Moon Taxi, Cymbals Eat Guitars and others.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve written about them; but their latest single “Stay” like much of their previously released material over the past few years is centered around a glittering, dance floor groove, arpeggiated synths and a soaring hook. Sonically the song brings JOVM mainstays Summer Heart and Cut Copy to mind — with a swooning, vulnerable need. As the duo explain in press notes, “‘Stay’ is our piece about swooning in the throes of affection. It doesn’t seem to matter where a lover stands in your life, if the emotions are there you can be convinced to stay the night.”