Arthur Kay is an Oslo, Norway-based singer/songwriter, composer and keyboardist, who’s been a prominent member of his hometown for the better part of a decade, as the frontman of the galactic jazz act Dr. Kay and His Interstellar Tone Scientists and touring with the likes of Norwegian rapper Ivan Ave.
Interestingly, Kay will be stepping further into the spotlight as a solo artist with the release of his forthcoming self-titled, solo debut. Slated for an October 11, 2019 release, the EP finds Kay drawing from several disparate influences, at points channeling Thundercat, James Blake, and Sun Ra Arkestra. However, the EP’s latest single “Holiday Pay” is a decidedly house music influenced track, centered around layers of glistening and twinkling synths, cowbell-led percussion and an infectious hook. And while being a shimmering, summery club banger, “Holiday Pay” is celebration of Norwegian employers being required by law to pay employees a certain percentage of the previous year’s wages for you to use towards summer vacation time. It’s a much-needed contemporary worker’s anthem — and I’m sure that many hardworking Americans wish they’d have that.
“It’s a great example of how socialist ideas work really well in the Norwegian society,” Kay explains in press notes. “Your employer is ordered by law to hold on to 12% of your income through the year, and pay it to you every June, just before the summer holidays start. Forced savings, basically, but without any banks or cash stuffed under mattresses.” Kay adds, “I consider ‘Holiday Pay’ a modern day workers’ anthem, a song anybody with a steady job in Norway can relate to. A song you can shove in your freelancing friends’ faces. They may travel the world on a regular Wednesday, and work from a laptop in a bar in Tokyo in the middle of the night But if you have a steady job, you get the holiday pay in June.”
Linda Gardens is an up-and-coming, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and indie electro pop artist, who has started to receive attention across the blogosphere for an ethereal sound that meshes elements of dream pop electronica, psych rock and goth rock. Garden’s forthcoming EP Real Time is slated for release this summer through Liquorice Tapes. The EP’s single “Tubular Steel” is centered around an atmospheric production featuring shimmering synths and industrial-like drum programming paired with an infectious, razor sharp hook and Gardens’ etheral vocals — and in some way, the single feels and sounds like an uncanny synthesis of classic 4AD Records-era dream pop, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, and Kate Bush.
Directed by Dan Foley, the recently released video for “Tubular Steel” is a moody yet feverish and lysergic dream that stars Gardens walking through a dark and smoke-filled room, lit in neon. At points, the visuals become kaleidoscopic with the visuals exploding into bursts of wild colors — while moving to the industrial-like beats.
Comprised of Marshall, MN-born, Minneapolis, MN-based singer/songwriter, electronic music producer and electronic music artist Sean Tillmann, best known for his solo recording project Har Mar Superstar and A Giant Dog‘s and Sweet Spirit‘s Houston, TX-born, Austin, TX-based frontperson Sabrina Ellis, Heart Bones is a new, collaborative project that can trace its origins to when Ellis and Tillmann meeting and becoming friends while touring back in 2016. They recognized a shared love of over-the-top showmanship, which made their collaboration seem inevitable.
Throughout last year, the members of Heart Bones have made alternating trips back and forth between Minneapolis and Austin to write original material. Interestingly, Ellis and Tillmann are inspired by many of the classic duos of the 60s including Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Brikin, Sonny and Cher, Sam and Dave and others — and s a result. the project draws from doo wop, electronic dance music, electro pop and pop. Their currently working on the finishing touches of their debut EP; but in the meantime, From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder-like “Little Dancer” is centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with Ellis and Tillmann’s ethereal boy-girl harmonizing. And while the song is club friendly, it possesses an achingly sad air.
Sat, June 29 – Minneapolis MN @ Rock the Garden
Wed, July 3 – Madison WI @ High Noon Saloon *
Thu, July 4 – Maquoketa IA @ Codfish Hollow Barn *
Fri, July 5 – Omaha NE @ The Sydney *
Sat, July 6 – Denver CO @ Oriental Theater *
Sun, July 7 – Fort Collins, CO @ Surfside 7 *
Tue, July 9 – Kansas City MO @ Riot Room *
Wed, July 10 – Chicago IL @ Lincoln Hall *
Thu, July 11 – Cleveland OH @ Beachland Tavern *
Fri, July 12 – Philadelphia PA @ World Café Live *
Sat, July 13 – Washington DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel *
Sun, July 14 – New York NY @ Le Poisson Rouge “In the Round” *
Mon, July 15 – Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East (Upstairs) *
Tues, July 16 – Buffalo, NY @ 9th Ward At Babeville
Wed, July 17 Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
* w/ Good Fuck
Comprised of sibling duo Andrew and Alexander Jarson, the Arizona-based synth pop act Body of Light can trace their origins to Jarsons involvement in the acclaims Ascetic House collective. Initially, what began as a vehicle for the duo to explore noise and sound during their early teens has evolved into an established electronic production and artist unit that specializes in music that draws from the Jarson’s individual and shared experiences and possesses elements of New Wave, freestyle, goth and techno.
Slated for a July 26, 2019 release through Dais Records, Body of LIght’s forthcoming, third album Time to Kill finds the Arizona-based duo refining their sound with a bolder sonic palette while thematically weaving stories of love and obsession in an era of technological bondage and increasingly fleeting exhilaration. Interestingly, Time to Kill’s latest single, album title track “Time to Kill” is centered around a broodingly cinematic and dance floor friendly production consisting of relentless, tweeter and woofer thumping beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and a soaring hook paired with plaintive vocals. And while the decidedly 80s goth/synth pop track recalls early Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears, Power, Corruption and Lies-era New Order and Upstairs at Eric’s-era Yaz, the song possesses a modern, studio sheen — without polishing away the swooning Romanticism at the core of the song.
Directed by Travis Waddell, the gorgeously shot, recently released video for “Time to Kill” is split between slow-motion, live footage of the duo performing in s small, sweaty basement club in front of ecstatic fans — and footage of the duo brooding in a studio in front of moody lighting.
With his solo recording project Lonas, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Louis Johnson makes a marked departure from his work as a member of Americana duo The Saint Johns. Johnson’s Lonas debut, Youth EP as he explains in press notes “is an attempt to immortalize millennials’ nostalgia for the past and unprecedented anxiety about the future.”
Interestingly, the EP’s first single, the slow-burning “High School Kids” is centered around a lush and brooding production featuring shimmering guitars, atmospheric electronics and propulsive drumming — and while sonically evoking the 90s pop that influenced it, the song is written from the perspective of someone looking back at their high school years with a warm, rose-colored, romanticized nostalgia. After all, the world seemed so much simpler — friendships and romantic relationships were supposed to last forever; humanity didn’t seem to be spinning closer to annihilation; and you didn’t have to face the compromises, complexities and uncertainties of the adult world. But there’s this tacit acknowledgement that the song’s narrator can’t get that time back.
Directed by John Gillian, the video stars Andy Prince as a therapist and Johnson as himself, the recently released video ironically finds both men being incredibly nostalgic about their pasts — the carefree days of hanging out, goofing off and of seemingly simpler consequences. The video splits between the current day and grainy video footage, shot back in high school, capturing the youthful sense of hope and excitement of the time.
With the release of a critically applauded batch of material — 2013’s Saudade EP, 2015’s Verde EP, 2017’s full-lenght debut, Crawl Space, a cover of Beyonce’s “No Angel” and a guest spot on Glass Animals’ “Holiest,” the Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, electronic music artist and electronic music producer Valerie Teicher, best known as the creative mastermind behind Tei Shi has developed a reputation for crafting slow-burning, shimmering, ethereal pop.
Teicher has spent the past couple of years working on her forthcoming sophomore album — but she’s also managed to find some time to collaborate with Blood Orange and Diddy on the viral hit song “Hope,” which has amassed over 10 million streams. Also, she appeared in the video for the song alongside Diddy, A$AP Rocky, Tyler the Creator and Empress Of — and she joined Blood Orange in a performance of the song at this year’s Coachella Festival. Interestingly, the album’s slow-burning and gorgeous first single “A Kiss Goodbye” is reportedly a tonal departure from her moodier, darker debut as it finds Teicher, who’s a Colombian-Canadian reconnecting with her Latin roots and influences with the material also reflecting her relocation from New York to Los Angeles. Interestingly enough, while superficially recalling Sade, the song has a subtle Brazilian tropicalia lilt — until the trap beat driven bridge, which gives the song an unexpected, urgency.
“This song is about intuition—following my gut and my body more than my head,” Teicher explains press notes. “It’s about learning from love and from giving so much of myself to other people, and coming out of it with a more selfish mindset, to save my love and my nurturing for myself. It’s about figuring out who you are on your own and without someone else defining that for you, through trusting yourself and allowing for the universe, the supernatural, the unexpected to take hold.”
Last month, I wrote about Brijean Murphy, a Los Angeles-born, Oakland-based percussionist, who has made a name for herself as a highly-sought after touring musician with stints in the touring bands of Toro Y Moi, U.S. Girls and Poolside, as well as several others. Interestingly, Murphy can trace the origins of her musical career to her childhood — Murphy’s father, Patrick is a percussionist and engineer, who taught a young Brijean her first drum patterns on a pair of congas that she inherited from the late Trinidadian steel pan drum legend Vince Charles.
The Los Angeles-born, Oakland-based percussionist managed to find some free time to collaborate with Doug Stuart, a producer, who shares a background as a jazz and pop session musician, who has worked with JOVM mainstays Bells Atlas, Meerna, Luke Temple, Jay Stone and others. Written and recorded in marathon sessions at their intimate home studio, wedged between rarely over-lapping tour schedules, the duo formed BRIJEAN, a project that meshes Murphy’s Latin jazz and soul upbringing with Murphy’s 70s disco and 90s house-inspired production.
Slated for a June 28, 2019 through Native Cat Recordings, BRIJEAN’s debut effort, WALKIE TALKIE EP finds Murphy stepping out into the spotlight as a solo artist in her own right. Now, as you may recall, the slickly produced “Show and Tell” was centered around a sinuous and propulsive bass line, glistening chimes, shimmering synths, Latin soul percussion, dreamily delivered vocals singing metaphysical-leaning lyrics, and a sleek hook within an expansive and trippy arrangement that nods at Roy Ayers and classic house. The EP’s latest single, the dance floor friendly EP title track “Walkie Talkie” features a sinuous, 90s house music-influenced production consisting of shimmering arpeggiated keys, tweeter and woofer rocking low-end and Latin percussion — and unsurprisingly, the song brings Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles and Between Two Selves-era Octo Octa to mind, complete with a coquettish air.
Last month, I wrote about Hildur Höglind, an up-and-coming Swedish alt-pop artist, who grew up in a family of musicians in the tiny village of Johannishus. And over the past few years, Höglind’s career has grown exponentially: she’s gone from playing at local clubs when she was 15 and not even old enough to even be in the club to playing some of her homeland’s biggest festivals.
Now as you may recall, the up-and-coming Johannishus-born pop artist’s forthcoming EP Take Off is slated for release later this year, and reportedly, the EP’s material will further cement Höglind’s growing reputation for crafting lyrics that broach serious subjects like mental illness, existential dread and our desperate attempts to understand be understood with a wisdom that belies her youth, paired with sleek, hook-driven synth pop. “Further Apart” prominently featured Höglind’s aching and tender vocals paired with a sleek and atmospheric production consisting of layers of arpeggiated bass and shimmering synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, blasts of strummed acoustic guitar and a rousingly anthemic hook. And while the song is an infectious radio anthem, the song is imbued with a bittersweet quality — as though there’s the tacit understanding both parties are continuing on with something that probably should end, if they weren’t afraid of what was next. The EP’s latest single “My Heart (Won’t Skip the Beat It Should)” manages to be a sultry and propulsive bit disco-tinged synth pop with a jagged, industrial edge.
“I started writing what later became the chorus of ‘My Heart’ a long time ago and so when the time came to meet with my producer Joakim, I presented the few lines that I already had,” Höglind recalls in press notes. “From there we started building the verses and it all came together rather quickly and in a very organic way. I had an idea ready beforehand and with Joakim’s thoughts and input it came together perfectly. Personally, when I date someone, I need to have that spark in the relationship for it to really work. The excitement is so important to me that when it’s not there, I have to re-evaluate everything. While writing, we put synths together and tried to find a fitting melody, which turned out to be the most challenging part. However, once we did find that sort of atonal melody, we started recording vocals. I sung in different ways and with different levels of intensity to help the song build. It was cool being able to add some edge to the track, seeing as the lyrics are quite direct and frustrated. As an artist who is mostly associated with the softer side of pop, it feels great to release something with a bit more bite.”