Best known for their work in Cardiff, Wales-based, British Chart topping act Super Furry Animals, Huw ‘Bunf’ Bunford’s, Cian Ciarán’s, Dafydd Ieuan’s and Guto Pryce’s latest project, Das Koolies finds the quartet making a decided sonic […]
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. The sibling duo founded the act back in 2015 and although it’s their first collaborative project together, they’ve released two albums — 2015’s Salvaje and 2017’s Conquistador — that have 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 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.
Now. as you may recall, earlier this month I wrote about Origenes’ second single “Meneate pa’ mi,” a decidedly upbeat track centered around Raul Sotomayor’s thumping, club friendly production featuring a chopped and looped horn sample, tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with Paulina Sotomayor’s self-assured, half-sung, half-rapped vocal delivery. Interestingly, 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.” Interestingly, “Sin control” continues a run of club friendly material — but in this case, the track is a decidedly Larry Levan-era house inspired track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping Latin-influenced percussion and Paulina Sotomayor’s sultry and ethereal vocals. Nodding at the work of artist like Sango and Branko, the track is an infectious and summery bop designed to get asses shaking.
I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink over the past decade — yes, decade — covering the Perth, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Kevin Parker, the creative mastermind behind the critically acclaimed and commercially successful psych pop/synth pop project Tame Impala. Now, as you may recall Parker’s third album, 2015’s Currents was a critical and commercial breakthrough. Released to overwhelming and wide-ranging critical applause across the blogosphere and elsewhere, the album was Grammy-nominated, RIAA Gold-Certified effort that reflected a decided change in direction for Parker’s songwriting and sound: the material featured some of his most emotionally direct lyrics paired with an nuanced and textured sound that draw from psych rock, psych pop, prog rock, synth pop and R&B.
Slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Interscope Records, The Slow Rush reportedly conjures the feeling of a lifetime in a lightning bolt, of major milestones whizzing by you while you’re looking at your phone. Thematically, the album focuses on the rapid passing of time and the unending cycles of creation and destruction in life. “A lot of the songs carry this idea of time passing, of seeing your life flash before your eyes, being able to see clearly your life from this point onwards. I’m being swept by this notion of time passing. There’s something really intoxicating about it,” Parker told the New York Times last year.
Last year Parker released the first batch of new Tame Impala material in over four years — “Patience,” a decidedly upbeat banger that seamlessly bridged 90s house and 70s funk while being a thoughtful meditation on the cycles and phases of life and “Borderline” a blissed out, shimmering mid-tempo track with house music flourishes and a razor sharp hook. Unofficially, those two tracks were the first two singles off Parker’s long-awaited and highly-anticipated fourth album, The Slow Rush. Parker closed out last year with the release of “It Might Be Time,” a swaggering prog rock meets psych pop banger, centered around layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, an anthemic hook and Parker’s plaintive vocals.
The Slow Rush‘s fourth and latest single “Lost in Yesterday” is a woozy and hallucinogenic disco-tinged banger centered around a propulsive and sinuous bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a cathartic and soaring hook and Parker’s plaintive vocals. While sonically the song seems to continue a run of glistening and decidedly 80s inspired synth bangers, the song thematically finds Parker exploring time’s distorting effect on memories. Given enough time, nostalgia gives even the most embittering times in your life a bit of a rosy tinge, and a sense of purpose and meaning that you didn’t feel while experiencing it. At it s core, the song is a plea to break the urge to look back with rose colored glasses and live in the here and now.
Directed by Terri Timley, the directing duo of Ian Kibbey and Corey Creasey, the recently released video for “Lost in Yesterday” features Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, starring as a wedding singer playing at a dismal and unhappy wedding ceremony. In a short period of time, that horrible wedding turns into a grand and euphoric ceremony that features Parker and a full backing band rocking a house full of happy revelers — but just in the fringes, the misery of the affair is there. Much like the song, the video is centered around the theme of how nostalgia can give the most embittering, most embarrassing, most hurtful times in your life a rosy tinge, and a sense of meaning and purpose — and at points make things seem better than what they were.
Charlene Kaye is a New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, who spent her childhood in some rather far-flung places across the globe — living in Hawaii, Singapore, Hong Kong and Michigan before she turned 18. Although she spent time in a number of different places throughout the bulk of her childhood, there was one consistent thing: her parents old soul records and 90s grunge radio, both of which have heavily influenced her own work and career.
Initially starting her career as a solo artist, Kaye is best known for a five year stint as the frontwoman of acclaimed indie act San Fermin, contributing to 2015’s Jackrabbit and 2017’s Belong, which were supported with touring internationally, including sets across the global festival circuit. While touring with San Fermin to support Jackrabbit, Kaye started her latest solo recording project KAYE, releasing a handful of singles and KAYE’s debut EP 2016’s Honey.
Last year, Kaye left San Fermin in order to fully concentrate on her solo career. The New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer begins 2020 with the Kirk Schoenherr-co-produced single “Closer Than This.” Centered around Kaye’s sultry cooing, layers of synth arpeggios, thumping beats, a fiery guitar solo and an infectious, radio friendly hook, “Closer Than This” is a bold, self-assured feminist pop anthem that sounds indebted to 80s synth funk and synth pop — in particular, Cherelle, Patrice Rushen, Madonna and Control-era Janet Jackson. And at its core, the song touches upon lust, desire, longing, idealization and fantasy and self-preservation, as it features a narrator, who will only give on her terms.
“There are a lot of narratives in much about women expressing their longing for commitment and relationships, but I had a specific experience where that wasn’t the case. I think women especially are sold this idea that if they’re not giving constantly, they’re innately bad,” Kaye explains in press notes. “This song is about a time when I didn’t want to give to anybody but myself.”
Directed by Kaye’s sister Lianne Kaye, the equally sultry video sees Charlene Kaye take on a boldly dominant role, where we see her take the lead in her relationships, essentially using the men in the video for her own pleasure. “The concept was originally inspired by Fiona Apple’s ‘Criminal’ video where the people in this creepy house are seen mostly by way of their limbs and physicality,” Kaye explains. “Our video features me keeping these four men in captivity—they’re giving me lap dances and letting me have my way with them and I’m using them for my own pleasure, basically. Liann [Kaye, who directed the video] and I liked that gender-swap idea, where in so many hip hop videos you see rappers with these video girls giving them lap dances and doing whatever the man wants. We wanted to flip that visual and show people a powerful woman in control instead.“
JOVM mainstay Omar Souleyman is a Tell Tamer, Syria-born, Istanbul, Turkey-based Sunni Arab vocalist, whose music career started in earnest back in 1994 when he began as a part-time wedding singer. His overall sound has largely been influenced by the incredibly diverse milieu of Northeastern Syria — and as a result, Souleyman and a rotating cast of musicians and producers he has worked with since his early days have found a way to draw from and mesh the sounds and themes of the Kurdish, the Ashuris, the Turks, the Iraqis and the larger Arabic world in a way that’s both familiar and novel. Since then, Souleyman has become the region’s pioneer of dance floor friendly wedding music.
Amazingly since 1994, Souleyman has managed to be wildly prolific, releasing well over 500 studio and live albums with about 80% of those releases made at weddings. Most of those recordings were first presented to the newlywed couple, and then later copied and sold at local kiosks. Souleyman has released four compilation albums and three full-length albums of original material: 2006’s Highway to Hassake, 2009’s Dabke 2020, 2010’s Jazeera Nights, 2011’s Haflat Gharbia: The Western Concerts and 2011’s Leh Jani, 2013’s Wenu Wenu, 2015’s Bahdeni Nami and 2017’s To Syria, with Love — and all of those albums have not only brought the sounds and grooves of the Middle East to the West, his recorded output has helped to expand the Tell Tamer-born, Istanbul-based vocalist’s profile internationally.
Adding to a rapidly rising international profile, Souleyman has played sets at some of the world’s biggest festivals, including Paredes de Coura, a Caribou co-curated ATP Festival, ATP Nightmare Before Christmas, Bonnaroo, Roskilde Festival, Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival, Pukkelpop Festival, Electric Picnic, Treefort Music Festival — and oddly enough, one of the strangest House of Vans bills I’ve ever seen, in which he opened for Future Islands. And before I forget, he’s also collaborated with Bjork, contributing vocals for three remixes, which appear on an Biophilia.
Last November, the Tell Tamer-born JOVM mainstay released his fourth album Shlon, through Mad Decent/Because Music. Deriving its title from the Arabic word “how” or more literally “which color,” the album featured double keyboard work from Hasan Alo, a fellow native of the Hasaka region of Northeastern Syria, who has recently been active in Dubai’s vibrant nightlife scene, a well as saz work from Azad Salih, a fellow Syrian, who currently resides in Mardin, Turkey. The album also finds the Tell Tamer-born, Istanbul-based vocalist continuing his longtime collaboration with Syrian-born, Turkish-based lyricst Moussa Al Mardood, who the wrote most of the album’s lyrics spontaneously during the recording sessions.
Shlon is vintage Souleyman: 6 songs which mesh the dabke and baladi music beloved by the Lebanese, Jordanians, Syrians, the Kurdish and Iraqis with thumping, synth-led techno, and as always, the material thematically is comprised of swooning tales of devotion, adoration and love. So far I’ve written about two album singles — the club banging “Layle,” a slick and seamless synthesis of classically inspired poetry and modern electronic music production and “Shi Tirdin” a swooning declaration of love, centered around a club thumping production. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, album title track “Shlon” continues an incredible run of swooning, dance floor bangers: this time Souleyman sings of a woman, who has intrigued him from afar, whose kiss would be worth 10 million other kisses over a slick production that meshes Kurdish and Arabic dabke and baladi styles with contemporary electronic dance music production featuring layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats. Interestingly, the material may be the most ambitious and accessible of Souleyman’s career.
Directed and animated by Sound Visuals Club, the recently released video for “Shlon” depicts an animated Omar Souleyman set in which the acclaimed Syrian wedding singer turned global dance music star plays his pan Arabic take on dance music in front of a energetic crowd, who at one point dances hand-in-hand. It’s a delightful and playful video that should remind the viewer that on the dance floor, we’re all the same.
Although they’ve proudly boasted of their long-held reputation for crafting left of center pop and adhering to doing things in their own way, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based pop act Little Dragon, comprised of Yukimi Nagano (vocals), Hakan Wirenstarnd (keys), Fredrik Wallin (bass) and Erik Bodin (drums), have managed to achieve an enviable level of mainstream success and recognition: 2014’s full-length effort Nabuma Rubberband received a Grammy nomination and they’ve developed a reputation for being a highly sought-after collaborative unit, as they’ve worked with an impressive array of genre-defying, difficult to pigeon-hole artists and acts including BADBADNOTGOOD, Gorillaz, SBTRKT, Flying Lotus, Kaytranada, Big Boi, De La Soul, DJ Shadow, Tinashe, Mac Miller, Future, Raphael Saadiq, Faith Evans and many more.
The acclaimed Swedish pop act can trace their origins back to when they would meet up after school to jam and play A Tribe Called Quest and Alice Coltrane records and reportedly the band’s forthcoming album New Me, Same Us finds the band going back to the basics and falling back in love with their instruments while crafting some of what may arguably be the most focused material of their growing catalog. Interestingly, the material thematically touches upon transitions, longing and saying goodbye. And as a result, it may also be among the most reflective and thoughtful of their careers. “We are all on our own personal journeys, full of chance, yet still we stand united with stories we believe in, that make us who are we are.”
The album which was entirely self-produced and recorded at the acclaimed Swedish pop act’s home-built Gothenburg-based studio “has been the most collaborative for us yet, which might sound weird considering we’ve been making music together for all these years, but we worked hard at being honest, finding the courage to let go of our egos and be pieces of something bigger,” the members of Little Dragon explain in press notes. Centered around shimming synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, propulsive polyrhythm an infectious two-step inducing hook and Nagano’s soulful crooning, “Hold On,” Same Me, New Us‘ sultry first single manages to recall Fragile-era Cherrelle, with subtle house music flourishes.
The song as the band explains is a centered around a message about breaking away and moving on. It started out as a slick house track but transformed once Fred played the base through it and we all worked it together,” the band explains. “It became something raw and soulful. It’s a simple groove that makes us dance. We can’t wait to play it live because once we play it live it most certainly will change again.”
The acclaimed Swedish pop act will be embarking on a headlining international tour throughout the bulk of the Spring. The tour includes a two-night stand at Brooklyn Steel — April 17, 2020 and April 18, 2020. The April 18 show is already sold out. Check out the tour dates below.
Formed back in 2007, the electro pop act Mint Julep is comprised of multi-instrumentalist and composer Keith Kenniff, who has composed material for film and has written and recorded as Helios and Goldmund, and his singer-songwriter and ambient electronic music artist wife Hollie Kenniff. The synth pop act can trace its origins as both a decided departure from Kenniff’s more ambient leaning work and as a trial run of their home studio. And with the release of their earliest material — 2008’s limited run Songs About Snow, 2010’s Adorn EP, 2011’s Save Your Season and 2014’s Broken Devotion EP — the duo firmly established their sound, a sound centered by Hollie Kenniff’s seductive vocals, soaring choruses, Keith Kenniff’s shimmering synth work, towering guitars and slick hooks. “When Hollie and I set out to do something, I wanted to find some way to incorporate her vocals into a slightly different style, rather than just write similar material to my solo work and lay her vocals over top,” the duo’s Keith Kenniff says on the duo’s Facebook page. “I had the need to write something that had some distorted guitars, loud drums and was a little bolder than what I had previously done. We messed around with a track one night (which became ‘Stay’) and it was a fun process, so we just kept writing more songs so we could do a project together.”
“Hollie grew up listening to a lot of industrial music and we both listened to a lot of punk but also growing up a lot in the late ’70s and ‘80s we both have a lot of pop music from the time in our blood,” Keith Kenniff explains in press notes. “We both listen to a lot of IDM and electronic music as well so I feel like our music is a marriage of those different things, song elements from pop influences mixed with production from the more instrumental and experimental side of things.”
Slated for a January 31, 2020 release through Western Vinyl, Mint Julep’s forthcoming album Stray Fantasies will further cement the Boston-based husband-and-wife synth pop duo’s long-held reputation for crafting shimmering, hook-driven pop confections seemingly indebted to 80s synth pop that thematically focusing on vulnerability, insecurity and other related issues to affairs of the heart. Now, as you may recall, earlier this month, I wrote about album title track “Stray Fantasies,” a swooning and shimmering club friendly bop that sounded as thought it could have been part of Stranger Things soundtrack, while evoking the lingering wooziness of a new love. “Escape,” Stray Fantasies‘ latest single continues a run of shimmering synth pop but unlike it’s predecessor, it’s a slow-burning and atmospheric song with an expansive cinematic quality paired with heartbreakingly earnest songwriting.
Originally formed in Christchurch, New Zealand, the internationally acclaimed synth pop act Yumi Zouma, currently features members spread out across the globe 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. Writing and recording by email out of necessity, the band initially wasn’t meant to be a live project but over the years, they’ve received praise across the blogosphere and international outlets for a breezy yet bittersweet, 80s synth pop inspired sound centered around Christie Simpson’s ethereal and achingly tender vocals.
Now, as you may recall, the acclaimed indie electro pop act signed to Polyvinyl Record Co. late last year, and to celebrate the occasion, they released the self-produced single “Right Track/Wrong Man,” an upbeat, disco-tinged meditation on the closure gained by accepting that it’s time to move on and forward. Yumi Zouma begin 2020 with the announcement that the band will be releasing their highly-anticipated third full-length album, the self-produced Truth or Consequence on March 13, 2020 through their new label home. Thematically, the album 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.
Interestingly, along with the announcement of their third album, the JOVM mainstays released their latest single, Truth or Consequence’s first official single “Cool For A Second.” Christie Simpson’s ethereal, wisp-like vocals effortlessly glide over softly padded beats and shimmering synth arpeggios and soaring hooks. While being simultaneously melancholy and hopeful, the song is centered around the idea that life doesn’t always provide answers nor closure and captures the release that comes from saying the truth — even if only to oneself.
Yumi Zouma’s Charlie Rider explains in press notes that the song was almost scrapped for a B-side before becoming a single. “The song was demoed in Los Angeles and then long forgotten, destined for the scrap heap. A spark of inspiration from Josh in the introduction reestablished that for us, the most conspicuous of melodies are often hidden in modest beginnings.”
Directed by Nick Mckk, the recently released video for “Cool For A Second” stars Benji Mazzone and Yumi Zouma’s Christie Simpson. Fittingly, the cinematically shot accompanying video seems to recall classic 80s movies — but with a seemingly soft focus. Centered around the central pair of the boy and woman, we see a relationship that’s profoundly affectionate, intimate and familiar. Throughout, there’s a sense that they’re dealing with something monumental in which there’s no real closer — and yet, they have each other to lean on.
Planet 1999 is a rapid rising London-based trio that specializes in melancholic yet dance floor friendly songs that mesh elements of 90s shoegaze with bubble gum pop, at points referencing Cocteau Twins, labelmate Hannah Diamond and others. Since their debut last year, the members of Planet 1999 have been busy: the trio co-wrote and co-produced Charli XCX’s “February 2017” off her most recent album Charli; played their live debut with Hannah Diamond; and they’ve been busy putting the finishing touches upon their forthcoming — and highly-anticipated — debut EP Devotion which is slated for release on March 6, 2020.
Their debut single “Spell” was a more of a slow-burning ballad; however, the London-based trio’s latest single “Party” is a decidedly upbeat track, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping boom-bap beats, plaintive and ethereal vocals and an infectious hook. Simultaneously recalling Stereo MCs and JOVM mainstays Yumi Zouma, the track is a dance floor friendly, sugary pop confection that the band says is an ode to “taking a break from a party to go outside and look at the stars.”
The recently released video by Aidan Zamiri and Eamonn Freel, features the members of the rapidly rising London-based act and cameos from PC Music label head A.G. Cook and Zippy, the band’s mascot designed by visual artist Leon Sandler. The video finds the members of the band performing in and exploring surreal yet evolving 3D landscapes created by Eammon Freel. Much like its accompanying song, the video is mischievously anachronistic, bringing to mind synth pop and dance music videos from the late 80s and early 90s. “We wanted to make a video that felt as cool and surreal as the song,” explains director Aidan Zamiri. “I think it’s the perfect starting point to enter the world of Planet 1999”.