Category: Electro Pop

New Video: Paris-based Synth Pop Act Superjava Releases a Funky Club Banger

The emerging Paris-based, disco and funk-influenced electro pop act Superjava features one of the most diverse lineups I’ve come across in some time — its members hail from Jakarta, Indonesia; Lima, Peru; and Paris, France. The act can trace its origins to when its founding duo Archi and Alex met back in 2015 while they were studying at Berklee College of Music. The pair began crafting funky riffs — and when they relocated to Paris, they met the band’s third and final member Arnuad. 

The band’s debut EP, Javaland established the band’s breezy, hook-driven take on synth pop. As the band explains, Javaland’s follow-up, Soul Dance EP, which is slated for release later this year, “has two main goals: put a smile on your face and make you dance.” Interestingly, the EP’s latest single, the Shapes-era Miami Horror-like “Dance For Me” is centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, a big brass sample, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, thumping beats and an infectious hook featuring soulful backing vocals is a a feel good, club-banger meant to get you — and that pretty your thing you’ve been eying for the past three songs onto the dance floor. 

Directed by Dixhuit Prod, the recently released video features the brightly dressed members of Superjava along with a backing vocal section perfuming the song in front of a joyous party of young people getting down — and it’s fitting. 

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New Video: Salt Lake City’s Choir Boy Releases a Mischievous 80s Influenced Visual for Shimmering Pop Confection “Complainer”

Fronted by its Cleveland-born, Salt Lake City-based founder, frontman and creative mastermind, singer/songwriter Adam Klopp, the rising indie pop act Choir Boy derives its name from an insult that was given to Klopp in his early teens when he fronted some of his earliest bands. Given Klopp’s religious upbringing and angelic voice, the insult at the time, may have been both fair and fitting. 

After graduating high school, Klopp left Ohio for college in Utah. Although, his college career was short-lived, he left religion behind and quickly integrated into Provo’s and Salt Lake City’s underground music and art scenes, eventually starting Choir Boy. With the release of the project’s full-length debut, 2016’s Passive With Desire, Klopp’s work drew comparisons to Scott Walker, Kate Bush and Talk Talk.

Klopp’s Choir Boy debut won the attention of Dais Records, and building upon a growing profile, he released “Sunday Light” in 2018, which was followed by a reissue of Passive With Desire on vinyl and CD. Recently, Klopp has filled out the band with a permanent lineup: Chaz Costello (bass, sax), Jeff Kleinman (keys) and Michael Paulson (guitar). Each member has brought their unique influences to the table, helping to develop subtly more dynamic sound for the band — one in which, there’s a bit of post-punk grit and 80s-influenced swing to the mix. 

Slated for a May 8, 2020 release, Choir Boy’s sophomore album Gathering Swans is the first bit of recorded output with the band’s new lineup. And importantly, while seemingly drawing from Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry, The Cleaners from Venusand others, the material features Klopp’s achingly earnest and angelic falsetto, expressing those emotions that are particularly difficult to name. 

The album’s first single is the dance floor friendly  “Complainer.”  Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, some industrial-like drum machine and organic drumming, a looping and shimmering guitar line, an ehe enormous and rousingly anthemic hook and Klopp’s achingly tender falsetto, the song — to my ears, at least — seems like a synthesis between Meat Is Murder-era The Smiths, Tears for Fears and contemporaries like Washed Out. Interestingly, Klopp explains that the song “marked a shift in lyrical tone from previous releases. While many of our earlier songs serve as flowery lamentations of loss and grief, ‘Complainer’ snakily examines the self absorption of sadness. The opening line Oh my life was something I privately uttered while stewing over daily anxieties. It became comical to me that I would express my self pity like that, in earnest when my struggles seemed so relatively tame.  The song continues, It’s a phrase so funny when it’s spoken so sincere. But it’s not that bad, I’ve never really had it worse. I’m just a complainer. ‘Complainer’ multi-tasks as a pop song and a reminder to keep my privilege in check.”

Directed by the members of Choir Boy, edited by Choir Boy’s Adam Klopp and featuring an action cameo by Sam Rodriguez, the recently released video for “Complainer” is a decidedly lo-fi, fittingly 80s-inspired visual split between footage of the band playing the song in random locations while mischievously revealing the band’s involvement in a seedy, back alley, Fight Club-like fighting ring. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Yumi Zouma Returns with a Shimmering and Ambivalent Pop Confection

Throughout the course of this site’s almost 10 year history — yes, 10 years! — I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the internationally acclaimed synth pop act Yumi Zouma. Originally formed in Christchurch, New Zealand, the act has featured members spread out across the globe most of their history together, with Josh Burgess (guitar, vocals) based in New York, Charlie Ryder (guitar, bass, keys) based in London and Christie Simpson (vocals, keys) based in Christchurch. Over the course of the band’s history, they’ve received praise across the blogosphere and from internationally recognized outlets for a breezy yet bittersweet, 80s inspired synth pop sound centered around Christie Simpson’s ethereal and achingly tender vocals.

Late last year, the acclaimed indie electro pop act signed to Polyvinyl Record Co, who will release the band’s highly-anticipated, self-produced, third album Truth or Consequence. Slated for a March 13, 2020 release, the album thematically focuses on distance — both real and metaphorically. with the album’s material touching upon romantic and platonic heartbreak, real and imagined emotional distance, disillusionment and being out of reach. 

The JOVM mainstays started off 2020 with the release of the album’s first official single “Cool For A Second.” Christie Simpson’s ethereal, wisp-like vocals effortlessly glided over softly padded beats, shimmering synth arpeggios and soaring hooks — and while being simultaneously hopeful and melancholy, the song thematically was centered around the idea that life doesn’t always provide the answers or closure you may want. But it manages to capture the sense of relief that comes from recognizing and saying the truth — even if only to yourself. 

“Southwark,” Truth or Consequence’s latest single is a cinematic and swooning bit of synth pop, centered around a New Order-like bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, an anthemic and infectious hook paired with Christie Simpson’s ethereal cooing. Much like the album’s previously released material, the song is somewhat ambivalent: there’s hopefulness in finding love and being in love, but the melancholy awareness that nothing is perfect and all things come to an end, one way or the other. 

Sharing the meaning behind the track, songwriter Christie Simpson explained that the song “…feels like a dedication, a mantra, a promise to myself. I wrote the chorus line about the someone in particular that I was with at the time, but it now feels like a universal truth for my relationships, a dedication that goes to every person I’ve loved and those that I’m still loving now. I can be quite dramatic in love and relationships, and I don’t always do or say the right thing when I should, but I do throw myself in completely (for better or worse). I loved that idea of repeating that dedication – ‘I am imperfectly yours’.” Adding, “This track has haunted me a little every time I listen, there’s something melancholy that sits in there alongside that overall feeling of quiet elation. I suppose that speaks to the classic dichotomy of love and relationships – nothing is ever 100% good or perfect, and that’s what I am constantly trying to come to terms with.”

Directed and shot by the members of the JOVM mainstay act, the recently released video is split between footage of the band performing the band in the studio, the band at the beach at sunset with Lorenzo Fanton’s specifically created font superimposed over the proceedings — essentially creating a visual that’s part lyric video and part official video. “A bit of a Yumi tradition is having at least one video on a record we shot ourselves,” the band’s Josh Burgess explains in press notes. “While we’re not going to be nominated for an Oscar anytime soon, it’s always fun to grab a camera and start shooting. It felt like too good of an opportunity to pass up having us all sitting there in a photo studio mere moments after the centerfold picture of our record. From there we headed off to the beach for sunset. Christie wanted to get into the water but the threat of hypothermia proved too much! It’s also the first video/time we’ve ever revealed lyrics so overtly! The fantastic Lorenzo Fanton’s typeface was too good to pass up!”

BisonBison is a rising Toronto-based electronic music collaboration featuring producers Dani Ramez and Chad Skinner, drummer and producer Brad Weber, multi-instrumentalist Sinead Bermingham and vocalist Sophia Alexandra. Each individual of the Canadian collective have different musical backgrounds, including traditional Irish folk, Middle Eastern music, trip hop, jazz and funk. Citing Bonobo, Helios, and Christian Löffler as influences, the members of the Toronto-based electronic act have developed and crafted a sound that meshes elements of folk, downtempo electronica and electronic dance music. 

Released earlier this month through Zozaya Records, BisonBison’s full-length debut Hover can trace its origins back to a series of loose acoustic jams between a cast of collaborators and musicians that ultimately filtered down to the band’s current lineup and Caribou’s Brad Weber contributing drums — with the bandmembers piecing material together into the album’s material. “Recover,” Hover‘s first single received support from media outlets like Earmilk and Clash MagazineBuilding upon a growing profile, the album’s third and latest single, the hypnotic album title track “Hover” is a lush and atmospheric track centered around shimmering and twinkling synths, a sinuous bass line, thumping beats, enormous hook and Sophia Alexandra’s ethereal cooing. Sonically, the song is an ambitious and dance floor friendly mesh of trip-hop, ambient electronica and acid house that sounds familiar yet novel.

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Savages’ Jehnny Beth Releases a Feverish and Sensual Visual for “Flower”

Camille Berthomier is a Poitiers, Vienne, France-born, London-based singer/songwriter, actress, author and musician, professionally known as Jehnny Beth — and as the frontwoman of the Mercury Prize-nominated, critically applauded act Savages. With Savages, Beth has developed a unique lyrical perspective and stage presence that has captivated audiences across the world for the better part of the past 15 years or so. 

Interestingly, Beth’s solo debut To Love Is To Live, which is slated for a May 8, 2020 release through Caroline Records finds the longtime Savages frontwoman boldly stepping into and claiming the spotlight. Recorded in Los Angeles, London and Paris, the album finds Beth collaborating with an eclectic array of producers and artists including Flood, Atticus Ross, longtime collaborator and Savages bandmate Johnny Hostile, Adam “Cecil” Barlett, The xx’s Romy Madley Croft,IDLES’ Joe Talbot and Golden Globe-winning actor Cilian Murphy. Reportedly, the album is ad ark and cinematic meditation on the strangeness of being alive. Thematically, the album sees Beth tapping into and accessing the darkest and least comfortable parts of herself to craft material that’s cathartic, abrasive, fearlessly honest and vulnerable. 

To Love Is To Live’s second and latest single “Flower” is a brooding and atmospheric track centered around a murky and tempestuous pulse, shimming synth arpeggios and Beth’s sultry cooing and crooning. The end result is a song that’s simmers with a feverish and obsessive lust. Reportedly written about a pole dance at Los Angeles’ Jumbo’s Clown Room, the song details the complicated and confusing depths of sexuality, desire, possession and loss. 

Directed by Peaky Blinders’ Anthony Byrne, the recently released video for “Flower” continues an ongoing collaboration with the acclaimed director. Shot in a gorgeously cinematic black and white, the video — fittingly enough — is a fever dream that captures the intersection of fantasy, desire, longing and loss. 

Along with the release of her solo debut, the acclaimed French-born, British-based singer/songwriter, musician and actress will be releasing her first book, a collection of erotic short stories paired with photography from her longtime collaborator and bandmate Johnny Hostile. Slated for a June 11, 2020 release through White Rabbit, Crimes Against Love Manifesto (C.A.L.M.) will help to establish Beth and Hostile as two of the most provocative and forward-thinking voices in contemporary fiction and erotic art. 

Over the past 18 months or so I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Toronto-born and-based singer/songwriter Raffa Weyman, best known as RALPH. Weyman quickly emerged into the national and international pop scene with the release of her bittersweet, disco-inspired debut single “Trouble” in 2015. Over the next couple of years, Weyman released a series of attention-grabbing  singles that found the Canadian pop artist restlessly bouncing between different genres and styles, including the the country and western-tinged “Young Hearts Run Free” and the ambitious, radio friendly pop Girl Next Door.”

After receiving an IHeartRadio’s Much Music Video Awards Best New Canadian Artist nomination, Weyman released her RALPH full-length debut, 2018’s A Good Girl.  “I wrote ‘A Good Girl’ over the course of a year, maybe a little more…and a lot happened in that year,” Weyman explained in press notes at the time. “Because I use songwriting as a type of therapy and a way to explore my feelings, the songs naturally began to reflect everything that was happening in my life. Sometimes I was hurting, other times I was the one hurting someone else, and then to make it more complicated, sometimes I’d be both, like in the last song ‘Cereal’. The album name is a tongue in cheek way of reflecting upon the tracks and their stories, because they represent a multi-faceted character who is good hearted but makes mistakes – no one is ever one thing, we’re not good or bad and shouldn’t feel guilty about it. ​​​​​​”

Interestingly, the Toronto-based JOVM mainstay begins 2020 with the launch of her new label Rich Man Records. The label derives its name from a famous Cher quote: “My mom said to me, ‘You know sweetheart, one day you should settle down and marry a rich man.’ And I said, ‘Mom, I am a rich man.'” Along with launch of her new label, the rising Canadian pop artist recently dropped the label’s first release, the shimmering pop confection “Superbloom.” Centered around glistening synth arpeggios reminiscent of Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back,” Weyman’s plaintive and yearning vocals, thumping beats and enormous hooks before featuring some euphoric sax blasts. It’s the sort of song that will make you dance the heartache away.

“I wrote ‘Superbloom’ when I was running in LA. It had been raining a lot which sparked this beautiful desert phenomenon where dormant wildflowers suddenly bloom everywhere and cover the ground for miles,” the JOVM mainstay explains in press notes. “I kept hearing the word mentioned all around me and began to feel weirdly aligned with it. Things in Toronto were feeling emotional and complicated so the idea of a Superbloom became this hopeful mantra for me that things could change and get better.​​​​​​​”

Along with the big announcements, RALPH announced a series of tour dates with joan. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:
* = with joan​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Feb 12th – Philadelphia, PA @ Voltage Lounge *
Feb 15th – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom*
Feb 16th  – Chicago, IL @ Schubas* (SOLD OUT)
Feb 17th – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry*
Feb 19th – Denver, CO @ Globe Hall*
Feb 20th – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court*
Feb 22nd – Seattle, WA @ Columbia City Theatre*
Feb 23rd – Portland, OR @ Holocene*
Feb 26th – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord*
Feb 27th – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan * (SOLD OUT)
Feb 29th – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar*
Mar 2nd – Dallas, TX @ Dada*
Mar 3rd – Austin, TX @ Stubbs Indoors*
Mar 4th – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall*
Mar 10th – Victoria, BC @ Lucky Bar
Mar 11th – Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore
Mar 13th – Calgary, AB @ Dickens
March 14th – Edmonton, AB @ Temple
March 16th – Winnipeg, MB @ Good Will SC

 

Although officially formed last year, the El Paso, TX/Ciudad Juarez, Mexico borderplex trio Estereomance, featuring Adria, Paulina and Manu can trace their origins to several years earlier — and to mutual friendships and a serendipitous meeting: Back in 2017, Adria had  family member, who at the time was battling cancer. Adria and her family hosted a benefit event for that family member — and as it turns out, Manu also attended the benefit. Knowing that Adria was going through a difficult time, Manu invited her to hike through the Franklin Mountains during New Year’s 2017/2018. During that hiking trip, the pair got to know each other a bit better.

After the Franklin Mountains hiking trip, Manu invited Adria into the studio to record a cover of Cultura Profectica‘s “De Antes” that would be dedicated to her family member. Sadly, that family member succumbed to the disease; but the pair began a musical collaboration that eventually lead to them falling in love. Coincidentally. Estereomance’s Paulina is a mutual friend of both Manu and Adria: Paulina and Adria have been friends for the better part of the past decade. Manu and Paulina have collaborated on a number of projects, including acts that have been nominated for Latin Grammys  — and they’ve also been longtime friends.

When the trio got together, they were all in a similar, creative transitional phase, and they noticed an immediate chemistry. Interestingly, the band has developed a creative process that has been successful for them so far: Manu frequently composes beats while having coffee. Paulina then creates improvised ideas to compliment the beats and then Adria comes up with lyrics. This has been largely been created by the bandmembers’ individual experiences and their desire to have their work centered around openness, fearlessness and following what they believe: Adria is a classically trained violinist and actor, who has played in orchestras and plays; Paulina is a vocalist, who has performed with a number of musical projects; and Manu is a bassist, sound engineer and producer, who has worked with an eclectic array of artists at Sonic Ranch Studios.

The trio’s latest single is the lush and slow-burning “Crimson Queen.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, Adria’s achingly plaintive vocals, a two-step inducing rhythm and an enormous hook, “Crimson Queen” is late70s/early 80s inspired synth pop confection that sounds as though it could easily be part of the Stranger Things soundtrack while rooted around an unfulfilled yearning.  “Through time, women’s worth has long been measured by physical beauty and more recently with rise of social media, quantified by the number of likes i response to it,” the band says in press notes. And as a result the song touches upon the increasing social pressure placed on both men and women to fit into a standardized concept of beauty and attractiveness, as well as vanity, obsession and insecurity.

 

 

 

 

New Video: Lower Dens Releases a Psychedelic Visual for “Hand of God”

Formed back in 2010, the acclaimed Baltimore-based dream pop act Lower Dens can trace its origins to when its primary songwriter and founding member Jana Hunter had grown tired of touring and decided to take a hiatus. For what was supposed to be their final tour as a solo artist, Hunter recruited a backing band which featured Geoff Graham, Abram Sanders and Will Adams. Finding that playing with a band was much more enjoyable to them than playing as a solo artist, helped Hunter form Lower Dens. “During that tour, I realized that it wasn’t the touring life that I hated, but more so that the kind of music I wrote as a solo artist wasn’t something I felt entirely comfortable sharing in performance setting. Lower Dens then was the eventual result of the decision to make music with the specific intention of sharing and enjoying it with others,” Hunter said at the time.

Lower Dens’ full-length debut, Twin Hand Movement was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who compared Hunter’s vocals to those of PJ Harvey and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Dusted Magazine, who praised the album’s lyrics for being “delivered without irony, yet self-aware enough to appreciate the obviousness.” While touring to support Twin Hand Movement, the band began writing on the road — but the limitations of writing on the road forced Hunter to work through a laptop and keyboard rather than a guitar, which lead to an increasing presence of synths on what would become their sophomore album Nootropics.

After they completed the tour to support Twin Hand Movement, the band chose to record their sophomore album at The Key Club Recording Company in Benton Harbor, MI.  Hunter cited the studio’s remote location as an imperative part of the writing and recording process. Geoff Graham added that the amount of time spent in the studio allowed them to add extra dimensions to the material to make it lusher and thicker. Largely influenced by Kraftwerk‘s Radioactivity, Fripp and Eno and David Bowie‘s production on Iggy Pop‘s The Idiot, Nootropics was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork. Rolling Stone and Spin. 

Building upon a growing profile, Lower Dens opened for Beach House and indie rock legends Yo La Tengo at the Baltimore stop of the legendary act’s  2013 Fade tour. The following month, they released “Non Grata” on a split 7″ with Baltimore-based band Horse Lords, an effort that was released as part of the Famous Class LAMC series, which benefited VH1’s Save The Music Foundation. 

2015 saw the release of the band’s third album Escape from Evil, which continued a run of critically applauded albums. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes — with the band now being a duo featuring its founding member and primary songwriter Jana Hunter and Nate Nelson. And during that period, the members of Lower Dens had been working on their highly-anticipated follow up to Escape from Evil, The Competition.

Released last September through their longtime label home Ribbon Music, the album is a pop album with an emotionally and politically urgent concept at its core. Competition, by design is the driving force of modern capitalism and the title is Hunnter’s term for a socio-psychological phenomenon that competition generates — a kind of psychosis that accelerates and amplifies our insecurities and anxieties to the point of overload. And as a result our intimacies, our communities and even our senses of self are corroded and distorted. “The issues that have shaped my life, for better or for worse, have to do with coming from a family and a culture that totally bought into this competitive mindset.  I was wild and in a lot of pain as a kid; home life was very bleak, and pop songs were a guaranteed escape to a mental space where beauty, wonder, and love were possible. I wanted to write songs that might have the potential to do that.”

Last year, the members of Lower Dens opened for hit-making act Of Monsters And Men, and they’ll begin this year with a headlining tour to support the album that starts on February 13, 2020 and includes a March 19, 2020 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. (You can check out the rest of the tour dates below.) In the meantime, the album’s latest single, the glistening and propulsive “Hand of God” is centered around Hunter’s achingly expressive vocals, shimmering synth arpeggios and four-on-the-floor drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. Sonically, the song bears a subtle resemblance to Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” and Songs from the Big Chair-era Tears for Fears — but centered around feelings of arrogance, humility and shame. 

“It’s like Cowboy Krautrock,” Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter says about the song in press notes.  “Imagine a wild west adventure, like City Slickers with the star, a wealthy white man. He’s devised a way to conquer God. He has some kind of vaguely dangerous journey, then comes upon God and declares victory. In his hubris, he goes to shake God’s hand, at which time he is psychedelically humbled, his little brain imploding.”

Directed by Aaron Brown and Robby Piantanida, the recently released video, manages to employ a decidedly DIY approach with a bright psychedelic colors — with Hunter seeing the hands of God. 

New Video: Sibling Duo Sotomayor Releases a Surreal Visual for Dance Floor Friendly “Meneate pa’ mi”

Sotomayor is a rapidly rising Mexico City, Mexico-based sibling electro pop duo featuring arguably two of their hometown’s most accomplished musicians: Paulina Sotomayor (vocals), best known for her work as a drummer in local rock/folk act Jefes del Desierto,  and Raul Sotomayor (production), best known for his work as one-half of award-winning jazz/funk duo Beat Buffet and for creating DayOff, a Sunday afternoon party that presents global bass acts rom around the world. Paullina Sotomayor and Raul Sotomayor founded Sotomayor back in 2015. And although it’s their first project together, the act which has released two album’s — 2015’s Salvaje and 2017’s Conquistador — has received attention from Vice, MTV and KEXP for a sound that meshes elements of cumbia, Afrobeat, dancehall, Peruvian chicha and merengue with modern electronic production and rock ‘n’ roll-like urgency. Adding to a growing profile, the act has toured across the UK, the States and Colombia.

Recorded in studios in Puerto Rico and Mexico, the duo’s soon-to-be released Eduardo Cabra-produced, third full-lengh album Origenes is slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Wonderwheel Recordings. Reportedly, the rapidly rising Mexico City-based act’s third album finds them continuing to draw their sound and aesthetic from the sounds of Latin America’s clubs and streets.  Possessing a strong sense of tradition, the material further cements the sibling duo’s reputation for an unerring knack for melody paired with a rock ‘n’ roll-influenced urgency — but unlike their previously released albums, Origenes finds the Sotomayors exploring and adding Afro Caribbean percussion to the mix.

“Meneate pa’ mi,” Origenes’ second single is a decidedly upbeat, track centered around Raul Sotomayor’s thumping, club thumping  production featuring a chopped and looped horn sample and tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with Paulina Sotomayor’s self-assured half-sung, half rapped vocals. Much like JOVM mainstay El Dusty, the Mexico City-based duo’s newest single envisions a globalized, genre-free world, a world as the great George Clinton once sung that’s “one nation under a groove.”

Directed by Sotomayor’s Raul Sotomayor, the recently released video for “Meneate pa’ mi,” features mundane and surreal actions placed within pastel color sequences — and as a results, it captures the act’s mischievous aesthetic.