Category: Electro Pop

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about Liam Brown, an up-and-coming Liverpool, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and electro pop artist, best known as Pizzagirl. Now, as you may recall, with the release of his debut EP An Extended Play earlier this year, Brown was quickly championed by Huw StephensAnnie Mac and Lauren Laverne, and received praise from DIYHighsnobietyWonderlandThe Line of Best Fit and others for an 80s synth pop inspired sound. And adding to a growing profile, Brown opened for acclaimed British act Her’s during their most recent UK tour.

Building upon a growing profile and growing buzz, Brown’s sophomore Pizzagirl EP season 2 is slated for a November 2 release, and from the EP’s first two singles “highschool” and “gymnasium,”  Brown will further cement a reputation for crafting swooningly heartfelt, shimmering synth pop that draws from several decades simultaneously; in fact, both singles brought the likes of Washed OutSt. Lucia and Tears for Fears to mind. “body part,” the EP’s latest single while clearly bearing an uncanny resemblance to its predecessor, the song finds Brown successfully walking a difficult tightrope of an oversized, larger-than-life cinematic feel with an emotional intimacy that continues to evoke the very  urgent emotions and thoughts of being a teenager in love.

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Freja Kirk is a young, up-and-coming Danish singer/songwriter and pop artist, who grew up in a musical home — her father, was a pianist at The Royal Theatre, and as a result, Kirk was exposed to an eclectic array of genres at a young age. After his death, the young, up-and-coming Danish artist felt an urge to make her own music — music that translated her pain and heartache into intimate narratives. Having struggled with her own sexuality and identity, Kirk believes that she’s now in a place, where she can bring this narrative — and in turn, that aspect of her own life — to the forefront of her music. “Thing is, I really need people to see me as a man. And it really makes it complicated to be me sometimes because I don’t want to BE a man, but I want people to see me as one. I don’t feel the need to fit into that ‘girl box’. I don’t understand why it’s harder to live like that, but it is,” Kirk says in press notes.

Kirk’s debut single “Fine Things” is an incredibly self-assured sensual celebration of queer love, centered around a sparse and hyper contemporary production featuring hi-hat led percussion, a sinuous bass line, twinkling and wobbling synths paired with Kirk’s breathy and sultry cooing to create a song that sounds heavily indebted to 90s R&B — in particular, Aaliyah and SWV immediately come to mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the course of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based dance music collective ESCORT. And as you may recall, the act founded by producers Eugene Cho and Dan Balls, which features frontperson and bassist Adeline Michele as members of a core group that has at times expanded to 17 for live shows has received attention for a sound that draws from 1970s disco, soul and classic house music — and for a live show that has them as a must-see act; in fact, the members of ESCORT have played some of the world’s biggest festivals, including Sasquatch Festival, Okeechobee Festival Montreal Jazz Festival, Full Moon Festival and others — and have shared stages with The Internet, Charles Bradley, Digable Planets, De La Soul and Cody ChesnuTT.

Now, as you may recall, ESCORT’s frontperson Adeline Michele will be releasing her full-length, self-titled solo album on November 9, 2018 but in the meantime, ESCORT’s newest single “Slide” was co-written by denitia and sene‘s Denitia and the single which is centered around a buoyant bass line, shimmering synths, some Nile Rodgers-like guitar and Adeline Michele’s sultry vocals manages to recall Chaka Khan and Rufus“Ain’t Nobody,” as it’s a skating rink, club friendly banger with an infectious hook. In some way, the track is a subtle yet decided change in sonic direction with the act’s sound leaning more towards 80s synth funk.

Escort is playing two NYC are dates — November 2, 2018 and November 3, 2018 at Brooklyn Bowl. Adeline will be playing a solo, album release party at C’mon Everybody on November 13, 2018.

 

 

 

New Video: Introducing the Anthemic Synth Pop of Kansas City’s Yes You Are

With the release of their attention-grabbing debut single “HGX” which debuted during Pepsi’s Super Bowl 51 halftime show and was featured in the major motion picture Bad Moms, FX’s Tyrant and MTV’s Scream, the Kansas City-based indie electro pop act Yes You Are, which is comprised of Kianna Alarid (vocals), Jared White (rhythm guitar, vocals), Jacob Temper (lead guitar, keys), Joseph Wilner (drums) and Willie Jordan (bass) quickly emerged into the national scene for a dark, goth-inspired take on pop that the band’s Kianna Alarid describes as black pop. “It implies that there might be shadows lurking, even in the shiny places.”  Interestingly, as a result of a growing profile, the band has opened for the likes of K. Flay, Moon Taxi, Marion Hill, Lucius and Neon Trees among others.  

Building upon a growing profile, the band is putting the finishing touches on their forthcoming full-length debut; but in the meantime, their latest single is the slickly produced and infectious “Blacklight.” Centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, an anthemic, shout along worthy hook and Alarid’s pop star belter vocals, the track sounds as though it were channeling Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back;” however, the song lyrically and thematically is inspired by one of the most terrifying experiences that Alarid has ever had. “I was 12 years old when I first started seeing the hooded entity in my room at night.” explains Alarid. “It was terrifying and it happened often. It wasn’t until a decade later, but I finally decided to put my foot down. I visualized a light inside of me and told the hooded figure that it didn’t scare me anymore. It never happened again. Those occurrences always made me feel weak and powerless but after I stood up to it, I felt stronger than I ever had before. ‘Blacklight’ is a song about finding that light in the dark places, and the mysterious feeling that maybe the darkness was working for you all along.”

Directed by the members of the band, the recently released video for “Blacklight” features Alarid running and dancing in a field towards brilliant light but at one point it seems as though she embraces some of the darkness surrounding her. 

New Video: Marfa, Texas’ Wilderman Releases Trippy, Random Generated Visuals for Polyrhythmic, Hook Driven New Single

Marfa, Texas is a small and extremely remote Western Texas town, a short distance from the American-Mexican border, and unsurprisingly the town is about as far as one can get  — both metaphorically and literally — from the costal tech capitals. Singer/songwriter Rob Gugnor and his partner Simone Rubi relocated to Marfa in 2013, where the y started a decidedly lo-fi cafe Do Your Thing, where the patient customer will reportedly be rewarded with some of the finest coffee in the Southwest; but perhaps more important to this site, Gugnor is known as the creative mastermind of the Marfa-based recording project Wilderman. 

Ironically, despite Gugnor’s  geographical and physical remove from the major tech capitals, his recently released Wilderman album Artifice deals with the increasing and confusing rift between lived experience and its digital approximation. As Gugnor explains at length in press notes:

“I started this record 5 years ago, seeking to explore the impact of technology on our psyche and the new human experience. Since beginning this process, I’ve found more value in the time away from screens, but I’m starting to view it as a luxury. Screen time is unavoidable now. Social media numbers are important. We can’t opt out of the game. In this time span, we’ve seen how information can be manipulated for our feeds. Digital perception has relativized everything to the point of insanity. Empathy is nearly impossible. K*vanaugh, Tr*mp, Milo Whatever His Name Was, digital bullying, flat-earthers. Life is now lived in the digital space. Identity and truth are shapeshifting and amorphous.

I would like to say that I found some hope in digging deep into the digital, but I’ve actually become complacent, and I think we all have. I was hoping to be a whistleblower, but it will mostly fall on deaf ears. We are in a stadium full of people, screaming to be heard. And yet everyone has headphones on and screens up, filtering through the noise to only consume the content they curate for themselves. Art is content. Tragedy is content.

But I still dream that we can remember ourselves, empathy, the human touch – it’s in the songs.

I hope that this album will somehow lead the listener back to a version of themselves that’s in the here and now, without comparison to others, without self-judgment.

It’s a mirror that can also be a gateway to another reality, the one we used to live in.”

Gungor and a backing band featuring some of Marfa’s best musicians — Wye Oak’s Andy Stack, The Brilliance’s John Arndt, Gungor’s Grammy-nominated brother Michael, Midlake’s McKenzie Smith Jeremy Harris, and Andrew McGuire, along with engineer Hugo Nicholson, who has worked with Radiohead, Father John Misty and Primal Scream decamped to Sonic Ranch, a studio in the Chihuahuan Desert, just outside the border town of Tornillo, to start the jam sessions that would eventually turn into the material on Artifice. Chosen in part, because important records by Animal Collective, Beach House, The Mountain Goats, Swans and others were recorded on their premises, the album sonically is influenced by the work of David Byrne and Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Paul Simon’s Graceland and Donald Judd’s permanently installed works. Unsurprisingly, Remain in Light and Graceland were used as a blueprint with live improvised material being recorded with the idea that Gugnor would later recombine and rearrange these sounds into fleshed out songs. It’s a decided and radical change in sound and songwriting approach from his 2013 Wilderman debut Learn to Feel, which was recorded completely in an analog fashion.  

The album’s latest single “Cog” is a funky, polyrhythmic, sinuous hook-driven jam centered around a looped, shimmering guitar line, a buoyant bass line, shimmering and sharply arpeggiated synths — and while recalling Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel 3, Security and So-era Peter Gabriel, the song is rooted in the current sociopolitical moment, suggesting that technology has caused us to lose our humanity to the point that we’re cogs in a larger, economically driven machine that will destroy us all. But throughout the song’s narrator is demanding that we resist it, that we remember and honor the individual moving to the beat of their own drum.

The accompanying visuals are the result of a new training methodology for generative adversarial networks — in this case, a random number generator came up with imaginary celebrities that look like real ones. What’s real and what’s digitally generated? Is it your memory or a distortion? It’s trippy and disconcerting. 

 

Over the past few months, I’ve written about Polo & Pan, a Paris-based electronic music production and DJ duo, comprised of Paul Armand “Polocorp” Delille, and Alexandre “Peter Pan” Grynszpan, both of whom are acclaimed artists and DJs in their own right: Grynszpan has developed a reputation for being an insatiable crate digger, who has been known to collect a wide and diverse array of records from musical gems of the early 20th century to contemporary eeectronica and electro pop to 70s Nepalese psych rock and so on. Delille is best known for his work with MAD Agency creating workspaces for artists in industrial warehouses but also as a renowned DJ; in fact, both Grynszpan and Delille were resident DJs at Le Baron, and when they met, they discovered a common musical interest — creating a genre- and time-defying sound that manages to be dance floor friendly. Unsurprisingly Grynszpan is also one of the founders of Radiooooo, an online encyclopedic radio station that was launched back in 2013.

The duo’s first release Rivolta found the duo meshing 30s Italian standards with 70s Giorgio Moroder-inspired disco, and the duo’s full-length debut Caravelle, which was released to acclaim earlier this year, further cemented the duo’s reputation for a genre-meshing, anachronistic yet crowd-pleasing sound with the album material drawing from the sounds of South America, Tajikistan, China, Congo Africa and elsewhere. Now, after a wildly successful world tour that included stops in Los Angeles and NYC, the duo will be releasing a short EP, Mexicali on Halloween, which include the original single “Mexicali” and remixes by Simple Symmetry, Manfredas, Timboletti, — and the EP’s latest single is Simple Symmetry propulsive and arpeggiated, Giorgio Moroder-like remix of the song that turns the song into a glittering disco-influenced banger.

The duo will be returning to make a North America tour throughout December, and it included a December 5, 2018 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:
12/4 – 9:30 Club – Washington DC
12/5 – Brooklyn Steel – New York City
12/6 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia
12/8 – Brighton Music Hall – Boston
12/10 – Velvet Underground – Toronto (SOLD OUT)
12/12 – Imperial – Vancouver
12/13 – The Crocodile – Seattle
12/14 – Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles (SOLD OUT)

 

 

Emerging Swedish industrial synth pop act LINES can trace its origins to when its founding trio — Erik, Fred and Nisse — traveled to Berlin, with the expressed purpose of losing themselves in that hedonism of its nightlife. As the story goes, as though under the influence of a higher power, lines were drawn and blueprints made of the sort of music that they wanted to create. Although the band was born in Berlin, the band’s roots are in Stockholm‘s indie scene. Interestingly, they manage to continue a long-held tradition of high-powered synth-based and hook-driven synth pop pioneered by the likes of The Knife, Teddybears and others but thematically centered around isolation, escapism and what the band calls “obsessive and destructive love” — and they do with some subtle political leanings. “We’re not Rage Against The Machine in our police, but we try to express some kind of social commentary between the lines.”

Along with crafting politically charged material, the trio are boldly and defiantly DIY — writing, producing and mixing their own work in their self-built studio. They’ve also self-directed and produced the bulk of their videos and thrown their own 24 hour release parties; however, the band is ambitious and they have their sights set on using their non-conformist pop to make a connection with audiences in their native Sweden and beyond.    Perhaps unsurprisingly, the band’s the band has a growing national and international profile — their single “You” has amassed more than 6 million streams, and renowned Swedish pop artist Tove Lo has championed them.

The trio’s latest single “People,” which finds the trio collaborating with Adele Kosman is centered around lush layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and an infectious, sing-along worthy, anthemic hook that I can envision people shouting along to, while having their arms draped around their friend’s shoulders. The track will further cement the Swedish trio’s growing reputation for wildly euphoric and futuristic synth pop.

Comprised of Tony Davia, Lou Connor and Lauren Potts, the Long Beach, CA-based indie pop trio Younger Hunger can trace their origins to night of playing Nintendo 64 and drinking milkshakes — and unsurprisingly, the trio’s sound is influenced quite a bit by old video games to further emphasize their material’s themes of nostalgia, young adulthood and its seemingly prerequisite anxiety. Additionally, the band’s sound and approach is influenced by The Teenagers, The Smiths, and MGMT among others.

The Long Beach, CA-based pop trio’s Adam Castilla-produced debut EP is slated for a December 7, 2018 release and the EP’s latest single, the strutting “Dead Inside” is centered around a slinky and sultry hook featuring cowbell, a propulsive bass line, twinkling keys and boom bap-like beats — and while there may be some video game influence, the song to my ears sounds as though it were influenced by The Killers, The Rapture and others, as it’s a radio friendly banger that could rock a club; but underneath the song’s sleekness, the song’s narrator expresses anxiety about love, selling out and not quite knowing what he wants from his life — things that actually are concerns throughout most of our lives. As the band’s Tony Davia explains in press notes, We were all at this party and I was having a bad night. So we all left to go hang out at our studio and play some N64. We ended up jamming and that’s when we wrote the hook over an old cowbell loop. We wanted all of the synth tones to sound like Street Fighter II style arcade sounds to commemorate the night. The whole thing came together really quickly, and it does a good job of representing our EP.”

 

Initially formed back in 2009 as Sister Crayon, the acclaimed Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo  Rituals of Mine, comprised of  Terra Lopez and Dani Fernandez developed a national profile through years of relentless touring up and down the West Coast, playing house shows, DIY venues, basement rooms, followed by touring with the likes of The Album Leaf, Built to Spill, Antemasque, Le Butcherettes, Maps & Atlases, Doomtree and others. Adding to a quickly growing profile, the Los Angeles-based duo’s first two albums — 2011’s Bellow and 2013’s Cynic — were released to critical acclaim, while cementing a reputation for crafting cathartic material centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, soulful vocals and trip hop-inspired production.

2015’s Wes Jones-produced album Devoted continued their successful run of critical applause with the album landing on a number of indie “Top Ten Albums of 2015” lists; but despite the attention the album received, that year was a rather harrowing and difficult year for the duo’s Terra Lopez, as her father committed suicide and several months later, her best friend Lucas Johnson died in a tragic accident. Reeling from the grief of such profoundly unexpected loss, the duo felt the need to put the Sister Crayon name to rest, moving forward with their new mane Rituals of Mine. As Terra Lopez wrote at the time, “It was a mantra that I repeated under my breath on a daily basis when the loss I was experiencing felt too heavy at times. Music, the act of creating, performing, touring, writing, singing, experimenting – all the rituals we have created to get through life.”

2016 saw the re-issue of the Tom Coyne re-mastered Devoted through Warner Brothers Records and the re-issue featured some previous unreleased remixes and B-sides. And although some time has passed since I’ve personally written about the acclaimed Los Angeles-based pop duo, Lopez and Fernandez have been incredibly busy — earlier this year, they opened for a number of dates for The Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill’s co-headliing tour, and they’re currently opening for Garbage during the multi-plantium Grammy Award-winning band’s US tour. Additionally, the duo recently announced their first UK tour in November with Geographer and The Seshen. They’re also currently working on Devoted‘s follow up with longtime producer Wes Jones and Neal Pogue — and the first batch of new material from the duo is the righteously furious anti-Trump anthem “No Time To Go Numb.” Centered around a hyper modern production featuring stuttering and thumping beats, distorted vocal samples over which Lopez sings and spits fire, reminding the listener, that now isn’t the time to slink back from the horrors of a power mad and greedy administration; that it’s time to be fueled by righteous anger and fight like hell for the things that truly matter. As the duo’s Terra Lopez explains in press notes ” We started writing this song on Inauguration Day. It was a bleak time in the studio and we were feeling very hopeless, like most of the country. Two years later and the collective fear and disgust we all felt is still there, if not compounded, and that really inspired every lyric in this song. I wanted to address things that stay on my mind: the mediocrity of men and how our society treats womxn, the strength of the LGBTQ community and the resiliency of POC. I’m angry but also hopeful and ready to fight, to keep fighting. I’m so tired of seeing the same shit repeat itself – it’s time we set the bar higher. This song is an anthem for the LGBTQ community, to womxn and to people of color.

We carry so much on our shoulders, on our hearts. And this current administration continues to burden us and place us in danger, so we have to stick together. This is my way of showing up for us. “

Over the years I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based electronic music duo and JOVM mainstays Beacon, and as you recall, the duo, which is comprised of Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gusset (production) have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound and a generally minimalist production approach that subtly draws from R&B, house music and electro pop paired with Mullarney’s aching and tender falsetto. A couple of years had passed since I had written about the but recently the duo quietly returned with the somber “Losing My Mind,” a bold and decided sonic departure centered around a sparse arrangement of piano, a brief burst of synths and Mullarney’s aching and mournful falsetto. As the duo’s Jacob Gusset explained in press notes, the song was originally written on piano but eventually swelled into a full-bodied arrangement before reverting back to its original shell. “I came back from a trip and Tom had a new edit that was completely stripped back. Sometimes, it just takes those infinite iterations to finally crack the code.”  By stripping down their sound to its most essential — Mullarney’s vocals and a simple arrangement, it reveals the vulnerability that’s always been at the core of their material with Mullarney singing longingly of desiring stability — whether romantic or spiritually, and of the comfort of knowing that a loved one would remain by your side in the darkest and most desperate of times. Certainly, in our

Interestingly, “Losing My Mind” turned out to be the first single from the duo’s third full-length album, Gravity Pairs, slated for a November 2, 2018 release through their longtime label home, Ghostly International.  As the story goes, after recording a couple of EPs, their first two full-length albums and going on several tours to support their recorded efforts, Mullarney and Gossett returned home, knowing that the new material they would soon write wound find the duo going off into a completely different direction. Together, they embarked on open-ended writing sessions, adopting a more linear style of songwriting instead of the loop and texture-driven method they had long used. The demos they wrote were essentially built around piano chords and guitar phrases with vocal melodies, which they edited in a number of iterations that found them looking through each from a multitude of angles and directions. Naturally, some songs expanded and others they pared back. Like the bending of light through a prism, the abstract, deeply patient, almost painterly creative process, eventually found the material they wound up writing outlined in a space in which seemingly separate colors — minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals and driving dance tunes — can coexist at different speeds, spreading out like a spectrum. With each iteration, the duo also found themselves expanding upon how they can be present the material within a live setting. They could play the material in a straightforward fashion — or they could play the same material in a different fashion that added or subtracted color and shading, depending on the circumstances, their moods and their desires.

“All matter is created by dividing gravity into pairs,” the 20th Century scientific mystic Walter Russell once wrote. His “new world thought” writings and musically-informed schematic drawings were idiosyncratic, and were incredibly fringe for their time. As Beacon’s Mullarney details a bit further in press notes, “’Gravity Pairs’ is how Walter Russell describes the rhythmic order of the universe. I kept reading ‘pairs’ as both a noun and verb; simultaneously the elemental units of Russell’s balanced universe and the process that brings us together.”

Be My Organ,” Gravity Pairs’ second single was centered around a foggy yet up-tempo production centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths four-on-the-floor beats, Mullarney’s tender falsetto and an alternating quiet-loud-quiet song structure that gives the song a simultaneously undulating and swooning feel, and while finding the JOVM mainstays pushing their songwriting and sound in a unique and new direction, much like its predecessor there’s an underlying vulnerable and aching yearning. “On Ice,” the forthcoming album’s third and latest single finds shimmering synth notes arpeggiating along a motorik beat as Mullarney repeats in his imitable falsetto fed through effects — mostly echo and delay as the song builds up from slow-burning simmer to a strobe light-like coda. Much like its predecessors, the song is a subtle yet trippy expansion and retooling of their sound.