Best known as a founding member of hip-hop collective Odd Future and the Grammy-nominated, soul pop act The Internet, Matt Martians, a sometimes vocalist and producer released his critically-applauded debut, 2017’s The Drum Chord Theory, which was hailed by Rolling Stone as “pleasingly eccentric.”
Slated for an April 26, 2019 release through 3qtr Records, Martians’ sophomore album The Last Party was written and recorded as a way to heal himself after going through one of the most difficult times of his life. And while doing so, he reportedly found that you have to truly love yourself before you can sincerely give it back. Featuring guest spots from Mac DeMarco and Steve Lacy, the album’s overall sound blends modern funk, soul and electro pop. Serving as a perfect taste of what you’d expect from the new album, the sultry yet playful “Knock Knock” brings Quiet Storm-era soul, Thundercat and Dam-Funk, within a lysergic song structure full of weird time and tempo changes.
Martians will be spending the next few months touring with The Internet, and it includes a stop at Governors Ball in May. Check out the tour dates below.
Comprised of Nick Wisdom and AstroLogical, the Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based hip-hop and electro pop production duo Potatohead People can trace their origins to when they first met in a high school, community baseball league in high school and bonded over their mutual love of J. Dilla and Madlib. In 2008 Wisdom and AstroLogicla began working together in the hip-hop collective Elekwent Folk; but soon after, the duo formed Potatohead People and began focusing on creating forward-thinking instrumental music.
Last year, the duo released their groundbreaking sophomore album Nick & Astro’s Guide to the Galaxy, an album that found them continuing an ongoing collaboration with Illa J, as well as a collection of other artists. Building upon the momentum of their sophomore album, the Canadian production duo will be releasing Nick & Astro’s Instrumentals, Remixes & B-Sides EP through Bastard Jazz Records on April 26, 2019 and the EP features a collection of instrumentals, B-sides and a handpicked collection of their favorite producers from around the world remixing their material. Additionally, the members of Potatohead People held a remix contest from which they picked one winner from an overwhelming number of submissions.
The soon-to-be released EP’s latest single is the New Jack Swing and Quiet Storm-inspired original track “Iced Tea.” Centered around a thumping, club friendly production featuring handclap-led percussion with thumping and shuffling beats, a sinuous bass line, layers of arpeggiated synths and a slick hook, the single reminds me of Cherrelle‘s “Saturday Love,” and “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On,” and G-funk era hip-hop. giorgi and Radina Vee contribute sultrily delivered vocals that are part late night, come hither come on, part you’ve been friendzoned — but with someone who’s actually pretty awesome.
I’ve written quite a bit about the Oakland, CA-based futuristic soul act and JOVM mainstays Bells Atlas over the past few years, and as you may may recall, the act which is comprised of Derek Barber (guitar) Geneva Harrison (drums, percussion, keys) Sandra Lawson-Ndu (vocals, percussion, keys) and Doug Stuart (bass, vocals, keys) have received attention across the blogosphere for a lush, kaleidoscopic sound that draws from indie rock, 90s R&B, Afro-pop, Afro-futurism, jazz, electro pop and experimental pop. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the act has opened for Hiatus Kaiyote, BADBADNOTGOOD, Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, W. Kamau Bell, Angelique Kidjo and others, as well as Bermuda Triangle, the side project of Alabama Shakes‘ Brittany Howard. Along with that, they spent 2016 as the touring band for NPR’s Snap Judgement.
Last year, the act released the SALT AND SOAP EP, an effort inspired by cleansing rituals and preservation methods, with the understanding that when you’re not accustomed to releasing your most personal stories, the idea is then to take a moment to prepare for a shift — for a new way of being open. Interestingly, during the creative process for the EP and their full-length effort the mystic, which is slated for release later this week, the band stumbled upon a new songwriting process that incorporated the use of sampling grainy phone memo recordings of Geneva Harrison’s drumming as the bedrock of the material.
With the writing and recording sessions focusing on spontaneity and even humor, the band aimed to craft music that managed to be cinematic yet deeply personal — all while allowing room to highlight each member’s individual skills and talent within the larger whole. Narratively and thematically, the album is a sci-fi fantasy of two first generation Nigerian-American women coming to terms with a mental health diagnosis — and at the same time, a universal exploration of how we make sense of reality. “It’s about a truth seeker and a skeptic trying to make sense of what’s mystical and what’s clinical,” the band’s Sandra Lawson-Ndu says in press notes. “The listener is made to consider the possibility of magic. Is it possible, for instance, that someone who navigates the world differently may have a deeper understanding of the universe? The mystic is a spectrum of deep emotionality, impulse, and even humour; a tool to explore the full dimension of our reality.” the mystic‘s latest single is the slow-burning and ethereal “Final Ceiling.” Centered around Lawson-Ndu’s dreamy cooing, shimmering synths and guitar and gently propulsive drumming, “Final Ceiling” evokes a hazy yet vividly remembered dream that lingers in your consciousness for hours.
The Oakland-based JOVM mainstays will be touring to support the mystic throughout May and June, and the tour includes a June 1, 2019 stop at C’mon Everybody. Check out the tour dates below.
5.9 Los Angeles, CA The Satellite 5.10 The Wayfarer Costa Mesa, CA 5.11 Starline Social Club Oakland, CA 5.16 Doug Fir Lounge Portland, OR 5.17 Fisherman’s Village Festival Everett, WA 5.18 Rhythm and Rye Olympia, WA 5.19 The Auditorium Seattle, WA 5.23 BSP Kingston Brooklyn, NYC 5.24 Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar Nashua, NH 5.25 The Diving Bell Social Club Montreal, CA 5.26 Columbus Theatre Providence, RI 5.28 State House New Haven, CT 5.30 Milkboy Philadelphia, PA 5.31 Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House Washington, DC 6.1 C’mon Everybody Brooklyn, NYC
Killtron’s latest full-length effort, Never Dance Alone is slated for a March 22, 2019 release, and the album reportedly was made specifically for dancing through your problems. The album’s latest single “Red Dress” continues a strong run of 80s synth funk/80s R&B-inspired club bangers as it’s centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, an anthemic hook and Killtron’s sultry pop belter vocals — and while much like its predecessors, the track will bring I Feel for You-era Chaka Khan to mind, the track features a disco-inspired string arrangement that hints at JOVM mainstays Escort. Interestingly, the song is an uplifting, feminist anthem, complete with a much-needed “go out and get it, girl,” vibe.
Founded in 2016 by founding members David Plakon (production) and Peter Baldwin (vocals), along with newest member Ranson Vorpahl (drums), the Brooklyn-based electro R&B/electro soul act Bedstudy can trace their origins to when the act’s founding duo met at Plakon’s Florida studio, where Baldwin was working on his debut album. After independently moving to Brooklyn, Baldwin and Plakon reconnected at a Tall Juan show at Berlin Under A and decided they should start a band together.
Within their first year together, the duo quickly wrote and released four singles, including “Arms Away,” which Paper Magazine called “gorgeously woozy.” Vorphal joined the band in 2017 to complete the band’s lineup. The newly constituted trio then spent another year writing and revising their sound before signing to Grand Jury Music, who will be releasing their highly-anticipated EP dot wave on February 15, 2019. Primarily recorded at David Plakon’s Crown Heights home studio with some additional sessions at Braund Studios and Black Rock Studios, the effort reportedly finds the act expanding upon the sound that first won them attention. Interestingly, the EP’s latest single “12” is centered around twinkling keys, a sinuous bass line, thumping drumming and Baldwin’s plaintive vocals, the track is a shimmering and woozy take on contemporary electro pop that brings to mind JOVM mainstays Beacon and No Kind of Rider’s Savage Coast but with a decidedly hip-hop swagger.
Directed and edited by Tess Lafia, starring Riley Cedar and Sebastian Borberg and featuring animation by David Herrera, the recently released video for “12” features some incredibly hallucinogenic visuals that nod at several different decades at once that to my eyes evoke a trip that’s disorientating and woozy.
Comprised of Armand Penicaut and Ulysee Cottin, the Paris, France-based pop act Papooz can trace their origins to when the duo met during part of boozy gatherings of literary obsessions — and as the story goes, the pair ditched their early and earnest ambitions to creative a political fane zone to play the music they had long been writing. Interestingly, the duo’s early demos were warped, boss nova-informed pop that also drew influence from The Beach Boys, Ella Fitzgerald, The White Stripes and Karen Dalton, among others.
The duo’s full-length debut, 2016’s Green Juice featured “Ann Wants To Dance,” whose SoKo-directed video has amassed more than 12 million streams online. Building upon a growing profile, the Parisian band’s Adrien Durand (of Bon Voyage Organisation) produced sophomore effort is slated for release later this year, the duo’s forthcoming sophomore album Night Sketches will further cement their reputation for crafting warped and skewed exotic-tinged pop — but with surrealist, character-driven lyricism. In fact, Night Sketches’ first single, the moody yet ethereal “You and I” is a lush amalgamation of 70s AM rock with 80s synth-based New Wave, as the song features an arrangement of shimmering synths, a sinuous bass line, glistening guitar lines, an ethereal falsetto and a soaring hook that sonically makes the song remind me of Roxy Music.
Directed by Armand Penicaut’s girlfriend, director and illustrator Victoria Lafaurie, the video was filmed at Le Balajo, one of Paris’ oldest cabaret clubs, currently owned by a renowned French wrestling family — and it stars Ulysee Cottin’s girlfriend, Danish-born actress and model, Klara Kristin. Shot with Super 16mm film, the video draws from old, Looney Tunes cartoons and other sources. As Lafaurie says in press notes, “Like Tex Avery’s animated cartoons, Ulysee and Armand are Klara Kristin’s conscience. Will she fall for the Devil or the Angel?”
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.
Honors is an up-and-coming Canadian indie R&B act that quickly emerged into the international scene with the release of their #1 Global Viral Spotify chart hit “Over” — although their success wasn’t an overnight one. The members of the up-and-coming act met over a decade ago and have worked in a number of different projects before forming Honors. Their latest single “Feel Better” will further cement their reputation for slickly produced and atmospheric material that effortlessly bridges trap, contemporary electro pop and contemporary R&B as the song features achingly tender vocals, thumping beats and a sinuous hook.
Interestingly, while seeming bleak sonically, the song is unabashedly positive, with its narrator actively seeking light in extremely dark times, suggesting that there’s frequently some sort of struggle before achieving any sort of success; in fact, the song may be among the most personal they’ve ever released, as its inspired by the bandmembers own personal struggles, while trying to make it as artists. In another way, it’s also a reminder that the journey is as important as the destination; that without understanding the journey, the destination doesn’t make much sense.
Directed by Nikola Crnobrnja, the recently released meditative video for “Feel Better,” features the members of the Canadian act driving around without much of a destination. As the members of the band explain in press notes. “We didn’t want to make traditional, or narrative based videos on our new project ‘Feel Better,’ so instead we wanted to imagine a visual counterpoint to the emotion and feeling of the song. Driving is transportative literally, but also metaphorically. It is very introspective. For us ‘Feel Better’ is an autobiographical song about making peace with the journey, while continuing to move forward in the direction of your dreams.”
Selma Judith is a heavily tattooed Copenhagen-Denmark-based harpist, who was best known for collaborating with The National’s Arron and Bryce Dessner, Vera, and MØ among others; however, with the release of her debut single”Kind Of Lonely,” the Danish harpist has revealed that she specializes in a delicate, woozy yet swooning and heartfelt electro R&B, centered around a production of stuttering beats, Selma Judith’s self-assured and sultry vocals, ethereal synths and a sinuous, Quiet Storm-like hook. As the up-and-coming artist says of the song, “Sometimes you love someone ‘despite of…’, instead of ‘because of…’. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the emotions we feel for the person are any weaker – it can be quite the contrary. This kind of relationship can reach wuthering heights, but although the view might be grand and beautiful, the fall is further down. The thin air up in these clouds is addictive, but in the long run, it can really damage you.”
Directed by Masha Koppel, the recently released video was shot in single take and captures Selma Judith in an incredibly simple, intimate, vulnerable fashion — a young woman in her apartment, playing with her cat, singing along to her song before moving to her bathroom to undress and shower, before ending with her casually smoke a cigarette out of her window.
Always Never is an up-and-coming Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based electro pop production and artist duo, comprised of Patrick Kirschner (vocals) and Dean Guilbault (production) — and with the release of “Millions,” “No Good,” “Morgan Freeman” and “Dangerous,” off their recently released self-titled debut, the Canadian duo have been compared to the likes of Majid Jordan, Miguel and The Weeknd among others — although with the attention grabbing single “Wylin,” the duo’s sound strikes me as bearing a closer resemblance to For Now and The Ways We Separate-era Beacon, as Kirschner’s soulful yet tender vocals are paired with gauzy, atmospheric and yet super modern productions featuring stuttering beats, tweeter and woofer rocking low end and infectious hooks; in fact, much like Beacon, the duo’s sound possesses a pensive, late night vibe, full of regret, confusion and longing.