Category: Indie Electro Pop

 

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.”

 

 

New Video: Acclaimed Act Shook Twins Release a Disco-Influenced Take on Folk Paired with Trippy Visuals

Sandpoint, ID-born, Portland, OR-based identical twin sisters Katelyn Shook (vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, glockenspiel and telephone microphone) and Laurie Shook (banjo, upright bass, djembe, ocarina flute, tambourine, giant golden egg, vocals) formed the acclaimed folk duo Shook Twins back in 2004, and since their formation they’ve developed a reputation for a unique and quirky take on folk that’s centered around unusual instrumentation, the Shook Sisters’ harmonizing, Laurie Shook’s beatboxing a looping machine and a telephone microphone to create a sound that draws from folk, Americana, electro pop and hip hop. They’re also known for adding choruses or lines from other contemporary and well-known songs as a sort of remix-like style. 

And with the release of their first three albums — 2011’s Window, 2008’s You Can Have The Rest, and 2014’s What We Do, and a handful of EPs, the Shook Sisters have built a growing national profile as they’ve performed with or opened for the likes of Ryan Adams, Mason Jennings, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Sarah Jarosz, Laura Veirs, Trace Bundy, Jonatha Brooke, Michelle Shocked, Crooked Still, Jason Webley, John Craigie, Elephant Revival, The Head and the Heart and others. And adding to that, they’ve played sets across the country’s music festival circuit including High Sierra Music Festival, Suwannee Hulaween, Summer Camp Festival, Electric Forest Festival, Lightning in a Bottle, Joshua Tree Music Festival, Arise Music Festival, Four Corners Folk Festival, Fayetteville Roots Festival and others. 

The act’s long-awaited fourth full, length album Some Good Lives is slated for a February 15, 2019 release through Dutch Records and the album which features a backing band consisting of Niko Slice (guitar, mandolin), Barra Brown (drums) and Sydney Nash (bass) finds them paying homage to the loved ones, friends and mentors, who have had a massive influence and impact on their lives from a late grandpa and godfather to Bernie Sanders and a host of others. “We realized there was a theme,” Katelyn Shook explains in press notes. “Even though our minds are mostly on the women of today and wanting the matriarchy to rise up, we have several men in our lives who have been such positive forces. We wanted to thank them and honor the good guys who showed us the beauty in this crazy world we live in. So, it’s an album for Some Good Lives that have crossed paths with ours—and to them, we are grateful.” Laurie Shook adds “It’s also an acknowledgment of our thankfulness of the good life that we get to live.”

During 2016, the Shook Sisters planted the seeds for what would become Some Good Lives by thinking bigger — they began intermittently recording at Hallowed Halls, an old library building, which felt full of stories. And with their backing band, they expanded upon the sound that first won them attention. “It took us a long time to find the band that we wanted to record these songs with and for the songs to fully mature,” admits Laurie. “Once Barra, Sydney, and Niko joined us, we really started to explore what our music could be. These amazing players helped us realize that we could be more than just ‘folk pop’. We started adding other genres to the word like ‘disco,’‘psychedelic,’‘funk,’ and ‘soul. We really honed in on a new sound.”

Some Good Lives‘ funky latest single “Stay Wild” single begins with shimmering guitars and features a propulsive, dance floor friendly groove, complete with a sinuous bass line paired with the Shook Sisters’ gorgeous harmonizing — and it finds the act’s sound meshing old school folk, deliberate attention to craft, psych pop and electro pop in a heady yet accessible fashion; in fact, in some way, it’s an almost Giorgio Moroder-like take on folk. 

Directed by Kristen Mico of Brave Alive Productions, edited by the band’s Laurie Shook and Kristen Mico and featuring effects by Willie Witte, the recently released video stars the Shook Sisters along with Barra Brown and Niko Slice. The video initially begins with a frustrated and stressed out businesswoman, completely in black and white. The brief blasts of color that come into her world revolve around the creative spirts and world of Shook Twins — including the entire band ice skating at a local rink. It’s a goofy and trippy visual that captures the spirit and feel of the song. 

 

Suvi is a Finnish-born, Swedish-based singer/songwriter and elecvtronic pop artist, who first emerged nationally and internationally with the release of acclaimed singles “Find You” and “Bleeding For Your Love,” which resulted in  an attention-grabbing European tour. Just as she was ready to release her full-length debut Mad at Heart, everything in her life turned upside down.

The Finnish-born, Swedish-based singer/songwriter and electro pop artist had suddenly felt ill and her mood was constantly changing. She began to lose weight and was torn — without understanding what was going on within herself. She stumbled into a black hole that she couldn’t get up from. And as a result, the album wasn’t finished and wasn’t released. “The feeling surrounding all this is very blue. So many feelings that comes to life just by thinking about this time, at the same time it almost feels like a dream from another time and place. It’s unreal. Did it really happen? Another feeling that I get when thinking about it is gratitude, and love, for everyone involved and the journey we did together, it’s shaped me a lot as a person,” Suvi says in press notes. 

Interestingly, Mad at Heart will finally be released in February 2019 and the album reportedly is a journey through love, friendship and betrayal while also being about being broken and finding the will and strength to put the pieces back together again. The album’s first single “Come Out and Play” is centered around a production consisting of a looped string sample, thumping beats, and a soaring hook paired with Suvi’s ethereal yet sultry vocals. Sonically speaking, it’s a cinematic take on trip hop that reminds me a bit of Portishead and Tales of Us-era Goldfrapp — but with a subtle Middle Eastern feel. 

 

Throughout this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned Malmo, Sweden-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic producer and electronic music artist, best known for his solo electro pop/dream pop recording project Summer Heart. Over the past year, Alexander has released a single of the month series, 12 Songs of Summer, and according to the Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer and electronic music artist the series allows him to “show people what I am currently working on instead do what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case if you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”

The series last single “Touch” is a woozy bit of Teddy Riley and Timbaland-era R&B influenced synth pop centered around arpeggiated keys, wobbling bass, an infectious hook and Alexander’s tender falsetto — and reportedly influenced by Toro Y Moi and Animal Collective, the new single is swooning yet dance floor friendly bit of pop that feels and sounds mischievously anachronistic, as though it could have been released in 1989, 2009 or 2019. 

Alexander will be embarking on a 16 date Stateside tour with frequent tourmate Brothertiger that will begin with a February 21, 2019 stop at The Knitting Factory. Check out the rest of the tour dates below. 

 

Tour Dates

Feb 21 Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory
Feb 22 Washington DC – Songbyrd Vinyl Lounge
Feb 23 Norfolk, VA – TBA Productions
Feb 24 Greenville, SC – Radio Room
Feb 26 Atlanta, GA – 529 bar
Feb 27 New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa
Feb 28 Houston, TX – Continental Club
March 1 Austin, TX – Barracuda
March 2 Dallas, TX – RBC
March 3 Tulsa, OK – Chimera Lounge
March 5 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room
March 6, Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen
March 7 Bloomington, IN – The Bishop
March 8 Columbus, OH – Spacebar
March 9 Pittsburgh, PA – Cattivo
March 10 Philadelphia, PA – PhilaMOCA

With Brothertiger

 

New Video: M.I.A. Releases a Previously Unreleased Collaboration with Elastica’s Justine Frischmann

Born Mathangi Arulpragasam, the London-based rapper, electro pop artist, singer/songwriter and activist M.I.A. is the daughter of the founder of Sri Lanka’s armed Tamil resistance. As a child, Arulpragasam and her family were forced to flee to London, where she became precocious a nd creative immigrant teenager, who her friends called Maya. As M.I.A., Arulpragasam emerged on the global stage with a mashup, cut-and-paste aesthetic that drew from Tamil politics, art school punk, hip-hop beats and the unwavering voice of burgeoning multicultural youth. 

Released earlier this year, the documentary film MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A was drawn from a never-before-seen cache of personal footage that spanned several decades of the artist’s life, offering unparalleled and intimate access of her battles with the music industry and mainstream media as she became one of the most outspoken and provocative figures in contemporary music. The film was first released on iTunes and other digital platforms here in the States, Canada and the UK — and recently, the film’s producers announced that the film will be available on digital platforms across Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Latin America, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Scandinavia, Singapore, Spain and Sweden between March and April 2019 with more countries and regions to be announced. Interestingly, on the heels of the iTunes release of the documentary, the acclaimed Sri Lankan-born, London-based electro pop artist released a previously unreleased song and music video from her archives, “Reload.” 

Originally recorded in 2004, before the release of her critically acclaimed full-length debut Galang, “Reload” was cowritten by Elastica‘s Justine Frischmann, who wrote the beats by experimenting with a Roland 505 beat machine with Arulpragasam writing the lyrics — before Arulpragasam began writing and recording as M.I.A. The song is brash, swaggering mix of thumping hip hop, electro pop, feminist art punk that’s dance floor friendly while revealing an artist, who was just about to come into her own as an artist. 

The video was shot in Justine Frischmann’s basement and features Maya with her friends Rudy, Marsha and Deborah dancing to the song. It captures a brash confidence of young women, fucking around and grooving to their favorite song, while slapping fuckbois and douchebags away. 

New Video: Introducing the Gender Bending Visuals of Mysterious Parisian Pop Artist Boy Bamboo

Boy Bamboo is a mysterious, up-and-coming Paris-based singer/songwriter and electro pop artist, and his latest single “Lola” finds the Parisian pop artist pairing his sultry and yearning falsetto with a stark and modern production centered around shimmering guitar chords, thumping beats and arpeggiated synths. It’s sleek and incredibly contemporary — and in a way that recalls Steven A. Clark‘s Fornication Under Consent of the King, Blood Orange and others.

The recently released video for “Lola” is arguably one of the most unique videos I’ve seen this year as it stars the Parisian artist, bending and blurring gender roles as he’s dressed in white and touching his body — but as the video progresses, something is disastrously wrong. It ends suggesting that the video’s protagonist has just had a miscarriage.