Category: Indie Pop

New Video: KUNZITE’S Hallucinogenic and Playful Visual for Euphoric “LEMON SWAYZE”

KUNZITE — RATATTAT‘s Mike Stroud and Abuela’s Agustin White — can trace their origins to each of the project’s individual members occasionally crossing each others paths while admiring each other’s work: When Stroud was busy touring with RATATAT, White went on a spiritual journey that found him exploring yoga, meditation and psychedelics. Throughout their friendship, the duo had been looking to do something together — and KUNZITE allowed the duo the ability to merge their mind and missions with a sound that blends psychedelia with beat-heavy electronic production and live, organic instrumentation. 

The duo’s debut effort, 2018’s Birds Don’t Fly was written and recorded mostly through email. But their forthcoming sophomore album VISUALS, which will be released through Lowly/Wilder Records on August 20, 2021 sees the duo writing and recording material together — in the same space and at the same time. Interestingly, during the album’s recording project, the duo realized that they sounded best when they harmonized.

Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “FROSTY,” a song that found the duo changing things up quite a bit with Stroud taking up lead vocal duties. But at its core, the song is a summery, beach friendly jam centered around a cosmic groove, easy going bass line and Stroud’s laid-back vocals. VISUALS‘ fourth and latest single “LEMON SWAYZE” was recorded between Stroud’s upstate New York barn-based studio and White’s Oregon-based domed shaped studio. Sonically, the track is a decidedly dance floor friendly jam, centered around rapid-fire, four-on-the-floor, buzzing guitars, a sinuous, motorik groove and a rousingly anthemic, euphoria-inducing hook — with a playful nod at Cyndi Lauper. As the story goes while recording the song Agustin stood in the middle of his Oregon-based domed studio and felt a channel of energy through the line that came through the studio, and began singing the first thing that came out of his mouth — which are heard on the final track.

“‘LEMON SWAYZE’ was created with the mission of bringing listeners to their feet, dancing in exaltation while on a crazy joyride,” the members of KUNZITE explain. “The track’s title was inspired by a vision Agustin had of lemons as spaceships, induced by the consumption of a favorite cannabis strain, Lemon Cake.”

Directed by Felix Heyes, the recently released video for “LEMON SWAYZE” follows a day-in-the-life of an effortlessly cool older dude, who is a mix of Captain Lou Albano, Hulk Hogan, Colonel Sanders and The Sopranos’ Paulie Walnuts as he wears a green Adidas track suit and drives around town in a lemon yellow convertible, full of lemons in the back seat. And as he zooms around town, he’s rocking out and having the best life anyone could have, which includes some absolutely hallucinogenic sequences that remind me a bit of segments of 1,2,3 Contact and Sesame Street. “The video’s lead actor, Michael ‘Keysey’ Keyes, is a Colonel Sanders-esque character who also has Hulk Hogan’s mustache, and he asked me if I knew what ‘proanoia’ was,” Felix Heyes says of the video for “LEMON SWAYZE.” “He said, ‘Well, you know how paranoia is the feeling that unknown things are conspiring against you? Proanoia is the feeling that unknown things are conspiring to help you.’ And then he drove off in a 1971 Mustang full of lemons. Being ‘proanoid’ pretty much sums up my experience with KUNZITE and the team behind this music video!”

New Video: Rising Los Angeles-based Act Mini Trees Releases a Surreal Visual for Infectious “Carrying On”

Rising Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lexi Vega is the daughter of a Cuban-born father and Japanese-American mother. The uniqueness of her identity has been an ever-present and constant tension within her life: Vega never quite fit in within the predominantly white, suburban Southern California communities of her childhood. And she had few around her, outside of her immediate family to understand the generational scars caused by internment and exile.

When Vega was just five, her father, a professional drummer himself, committed suicide. Understandably all of those traumas set in motion, questioning of Vega’s own self-identity throughout the course of her own her life. As an adult, the rising Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist played drums in a number of projects for several years before starting to write and record material with her solo recording project Mini Trees in 2018.

person and as an artist, fully in control of her vision — while providing her an opportunity to process, persevere and grow. Over the next two years, the Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist wrote, recorded and released two EPs: 2019’s debut Steady Me and last year’s Slip Away.

Understandably, with ample time to work on music as a result of the pandemic, Vega found herself ready to progress creatively while challenging many of her own long-held beliefs and notions about her identity. Originally envisioned to be her third EP, her forthcoming full-length debut Always In Motion features relatable and crafted indie pop songs that acknowledge collective anxiety about life’s seeming improbability while pointing out that life always keeps pushing you forward — for better or for worse.

centered around dense layers of shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a rousingly anthemic hook, Vega’s achingly plaintive vocals and propulsive four-on-the-floor. “Carrying On” can trace its origins to a trip to the desert, where Vega struggled to reconcile her sense of the world with the actual reality in front of her, especially during a time when everything felt unbelievable and surreal. And while sonically — to my ears — bearing a resemblance to JOVM mainstay San Mei, the new single features a narrator, who’s struggling with the inability to carry on, because she’s absolutely certain that somehow, someway the other shoe will drop no matter what she may try to do.

motions of everyday life — from getting up out bed, brushing her teeth, eating, working and even playing music. But at some point, the video’s protagonist recognizes that something isn’t quite right and tries to escape.

“I wrote ‘Carrying On’ in the middle of 2020 when I was out in the desert escaping the city and reflecting on the unsettling new way of life we all had to adopt during the pandemic,” Vega recalls. “Despite how in some ways life had begun to feel mundane again, there was a constant underlying fear that everything could unravel at any moment. In a sarcastic tone, the song questions my ability to hold it all together. We tried to capture this sentiment with the music video, displaying a character who is being led through the motions of day-to-day life, but beginning to recognize that something isn’t quite right.”

Always In Motion is slated for a September 17, 2021 release through Run For Cover Records.

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay Yola Performs “Stand For Myself” on “Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

With the release of 2019’s Walk Through Fire, her critically applauded Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut, the the Bristol, UK-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola had a breakthrough year, which included:

making her New York debut at Rockwood Music Hall
playing a buzz-worthy, breakout performance at that year’s SXSW
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors
playing a YouTube session at YouTube Space New York
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas
making her late night national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! 
releasing a soulful cover of Elton John‘s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, ”that not only quickly became a staple of her live sets — but caught the attention of Sir Elton John, who praised her and her cover

year, the JOVM mainstay had a massive year ahead of her. Early in the year, it was announced that she was cast to play gospel, blues and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama Elvis alongside Austin Butler in the title role, Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Presley’s mother. Much like everyone else, the pandemic threw an enormous monkey wrench in her plans: Tom Hanks wound contracting COVID-19 while filming in Australia. Pandemic-related lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions added further delays to the filming schedule.

or country superstar Chris Stapleton (at Madison Square Garden!) and for Grammy Award-winning acts  The Black Keys and Brandi Carlile. Those dates were eventually postponed with some dates rescheduled for later this year. (As always, tour dates will be below.)

Luckily, the Bristol-born, Nashville-based JOVM mainstay was able to finish her first Stateside headlining tour, a tour that included a Music Hall of Williamsburg a few weeks before the pandemic wrecked havoc across the globe. With the pandemic putting everything on pause, Yola managed to remain busy: She made virtual stops across the domestic, late night television circuit, which included playing album bonus track “I Don’t Want to Lie” on The Late Late Show with James Corden and a gospel-tinged cover Nina Simone‘s classic and beloved “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” filmed at The Ryman Auditorium for Late Night with Seth Meyers.

With the unexpected gift of time and space, Yola founded herself physically and mentally as she began to write the material that would eventually become her soon-to-be released sophomore album Stand For Myself. Interestingly, some of the album’s material was written several years perviously and was inspired by some deeply personal moments, like her mother’s funeral. Other songs were written during pandemic quarantine and isolation, and as a result, they reflect on personal and collective moments of longing and awakening, inspired and informed by Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements. Album tracks were cowritten with an incredibly diverse array of collaborators including Ruby Amanfu, John Bettis, Pat McLaughlin, Natalie Hemby, Joy Oladokun, Paul Overstreet, Liz Rose, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Hannah Vasanth and Bobby Wood.

Thematically, Stand For Myself’s material will make a connection with anyone who has ever experienced the feeling as though they were an “other,” while urging the listener to challenge the biases and assumptions that fuel bigotry, inequality and tokenism — all of which have impacted Yola’s personal life and career in some way or another.

thinking and paradigm shift at their core.” Yola says in press note, adding, “It is an album not blindly positive and it does not simply plead for everyone to come together. It instead explores ways that we need to stand for ourselves throughout our lives, what limits our connection as humans and declares that real change will come when we challenge our thinking and acknowledge our true complexity.” Ultimately, the JOVM mainstay’s hope is that the album will encourage both empathy and self actualization, all while returning to where she started, to the real Yola. “I kind of got talked out of being me, and now I’m here. This is who I’ve always been in music and in life. There was a little hiatus where I got brainwashed out of my own majesty, but a bitch is back.”

ngside Aaron Frazier (drums), a rising solo artist in his own right, the album is sonically is a noticeable shift from her debut, inspired by the seminal albums she discovered through her mother’s record collection, as well as the eclectic mixtapes featuring neo-soul, R&B, Brit Pop and others that she created as a young person listening to British radio. Aesthetically, the album frequently is a mesh of symphonic soul and classic pop that occasionally hints at the country soul of her breakthrough debut.

For Myself” is a bold feminist anthem written from the perspective of a survivor, who boldly asserts her desire to thrive and to be wholly herself — in her own terms and at all costs. While reflecting on the JOVM mainstay’s belief in the possibility of paradigm shift beyond the noxious mental programming that creates tokenism and bigotry, the song is centered around a rousingly anthemic, shout-along worthy chorus, Yola’s soulful, powerhouse vocals paired with a clean, modern Nashville meets symphonic pop sound.

“The song’s protagonist ‘token,’ has been shrinking themselves to fit into the narrative of another’s making, but it becomes clear that shrinking is pointless,” Yola explains. She adds “This song is about a celebration of being awake from the nightmare supremacist paradigm. Truly alive, awake and eyes finally wide open and trained on your path to self actualisation. You are thinking freely and working on undoing the mental programming that has made you live in fear. It is about standing for ourselves throughout our lives and real change coming when we challenge our thinking. This is who I’ve always been in music and in life.”

Last night, the JOVM mainstay performed a subtly stripped down version of “Stand For Myself” accompanied by a guest spot from Jon Batiste that managed to retain the song’s anthemic nature and powerfully necessary message.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay MUNYA Releases a Gorgeous and Dreamy Visual for Shimmering “Pour Toi”

During the course of 2018 and 2019, I’ve managed to write quite a bit about Québec-born and-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Josie Boivin, the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded recording project and JOVM mainstay act MUNYA.

When Boivin was asked to play at 2017’s Pop Montreal, she had only written one song. Ironically, at the time, Boivin never intended to pursue music full-time; but after playing at the festival, she quickly realized that music was what she was meant to do. So, Boivin quit her day job, moved in with her sister and turned their kitchen into a home recording studio, where she wrote every day. Those recordings would become part of an EP trilogy with each individual EP named after a significant place in Boivin’s life: Her debut North Hatley EP derived its name from one of Boivin’s favorite little Québecois villages. Her second EP, the critically applauded Delmano EP derived its name from Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based bar Hotel Delmano. The third and final EP of the trilogy, Blue Pine derived its name from the Blue Pine Mountains in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.

Washed Out-like “Pour Toi” is centered around an aching and unfulfilled longing: The song as Boivin explains is about speaking to a loved one from a distance.

Co-directed by MUNYA and Josh Aldecoa, the recently released, gorgeously shot and surreal dream of a video for “Pour Toi” was shot in Williamsburg, a beautiful, sun-filled apartment and elsewhere. We see the acclaimed Québecois artist chatting on an old red dial tone phone in a variety of places , which manages to emphasize the longing at the center of the song.

Mini Malibu is a self-taught, emerging Biarritz, France-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who employs a decidedly DIY ethos to his work: he writes, records, produces and mixes everything himself — and every new project finds the emerging French artist yearning to switch styles and sounds while being centered around his love of bass and guitar.

The emerging French producer’s debut effort ily EP was released a few days ago and the effort’s first single “Surf In Spain” is centered around a sinuous groove, glistening synths, the French artist’s plaintive vocals and a big hook. And while sonically recalling a lo-fi version of Currents-era Tame Impala, thanks to his effortless mixing of psych pop, synth pop, psych pop and funk, the song as the emerging French producer explains “is like a photograph of the end of a 6 year relationship, between funny stories and heavy feelings.”

Live Footage: Rising Paris-based act BLOW Performs Languorous and Woozy “Shake The Disease” on A COLORS SHOW

BLOW, a rising Paris-based indie pop act featuring Quentin Gugliemi (vocals), Thomas Clarice (bass), Jean-Etienne Maillard (guitar) can trace their origins back to Nancy, France’s Music Academy International, where Claire and Maillard first met — as roommates. With the release of their earliest material — 2017’s Fall in Deep EP and 2018’s full-length debut Vertigo — the French indie pop trio quickly established a a sleek, modern pop sound inspired by acts like Moderat, Jungle, The xx and others, paired with lyrics written and sung in English.

The Disease is slated for release this fall. Much like their previously released work, Shake The Disease’s material is written and sung completely in English; but unlike its predecessors, the album sonically and aesthetically is a creative left turn for the members of BLOW: While largely inspired by a collective love of hip-hop, particularly for obsessive hip-hop fans Crayon and Clarice, Shake The Disease finds the members of BLOW driven by the collective instinct to leaven the electronic textures of their previously released work with more organic sounds.

Written both prior to and amidst France’s pandemic-related lockdowns over the past 18 months, Shake The Disease reportedly is deeply inspired by the immediate circumstances of its creators, and as as a result, the album’s material reportedly throbs with the anxiety and unease of living in an increasingly unsettled world on the verge of collapse. Lyrically and thematically, the album’s material often seems to hold a mirror up to a generation — or two — that finds themselves forced to increasing question everything they’ve done and been told.

Shake The Disease’s latest single, album title track “Shake The Disease” is a languorous and woozy track featuring an elastic groove, tweeter and roofer rattling beats, swelling atmospheric synths, twinkling keys, bursts of strummed guitar and a scuzzy yet soulful guitar solo reminiscent of Steely Dan’s “Peg.” Crayon’s Yacht Rock meets Quiet Storm-like production serves as a lush and sultry bed for achingly vulnerable vocal performances from BLOW’s Gugliemi and HAUTE’s Anna Madison that express longing, confusion, a desperate desire for connection with someone in a complicated, mad world.

“This is not a love song,” the members of BLOW explain. “It’s a call for help written during a complicated time where we were losing our marks. We naturally thought of Anna to perform and embody one of the two characters in the track’s narrative. We love her voice which was perfect to bring warmth and sensuality to the track, which she effortlessly did. We’re very proud and happy to have her on the album. 

Gugliemi and HAUTE’s Majidson recently performed “Shake The Disease” on A COLORS SHOW, an ongoing live series by ColorsxStudios that features emerging artists performing material in an extremely minimalist fashion: in a room with floors and walls in a single color and a microphone.

New Video: Rising French Artist Carole Cettolin Releases a Thoughtful Ode to Living in the Moment

Carole Cettolin is a Paris-born and-based singer/songwriter, whose career started in earnest with the her acclaimed, solo recording project Et Maxence. And with Et Maxence, Cettolin wins the 2010 Crédit Mutuel Young Talent Revelation Award in the French song category. Cettolin catches the attention of Edith Fambuena, who produces material off her Et Maxence debut EP. And with a growing profile, Cettolin eventually winds up opening for the likes of La Grande Sophie and Sia.

ger/songwriter to pursue a new, synth-based sound — under her own name. The end result will be Cettolin’s official debut, the five-song EP A Boy, which is slated for a Fall 2021 release. Thematically, the EP’s material touches upon reconnecting with one’s inner child, haunting images and stubborn ghosts. The EP’s latest single is the breezy pop song “Tant que le temps est radieux.” Centered around glinting synth arpeggios, shimmering strings, thumping beats and Cettolin’s yearning vocals, the song is a bit hedonistic while reminding the listener to cherish every moment of life –and those, who are dear to us. But underneath the breeziness is a melancholy awareness that nothing is guaranteed.

hovin, the recently released video for “Tant que le temps est radieux” features a collection of women, who are over 45. Cettolin explains that this was done on purpose: in French media, women over 45 are largely ignored — despite the fact that half of France’s women are 45 and over. According to the French singer/songwriter, it’s necessary to combat sexist and agist stereotypes linked to child-rearing. Each woman in the club is full of joie de vivre and dances to the music — without concern about how others may think or view them. You see them enjoying themselves and their lives, and their joy is infectious. Certainly, in these women you may see yourself or someone you know and love.

New Audio: Emerging French Artist Esther Maud Releases an Infectious Bop

photographer, videographer and singer/songwriter, who also designs clothes and draws. As a songwriter, the rising French artist records sketches and snippets of melodies and verses as vice memos, that over time eventually become acapella recorded songs that are often simultaneously melancholy and playful. She then sends them off to producers across French to flesh out.

Maud’s debut EP Puisque rien ne dure thematically touches upon love, particularly lost love, heartbreak, romantic reunions, longing and so on while seemingly drawing comparisons to the great French chanson singers like Françoise Hardy, Jacquline Taïeb and contemporaries like Claire Laffut and Clara Luciani. Puisque rien ne dure’s latest single “Etranger solitaire” is a hook driven pop confection centered around the rising French artist’s breathy and coquettish cooing and a slick, dance floor friendly production that — to my ears — reminds me a little bit of Daft Punk. But underneath the song’s breezy exterior is a a sweet and swooning tale of reunited love.

New Audio: KUNZITE Returns with a Euphoric, Dance Floor Friendly Banger

UNZITE allowed the duo the ability to merge their mind and missions with a sound that blends psychedelia with beat-heavy electronic production and live, organic instrumentation.

e duo’s debut effort, 2018’s Birds Don’t Fly was written and recorded mostly through email. But their forthcoming sophomore album VISUALS, which will be released through Lowly/Wilder Records on August 29, 2021 sees the duo writing and recording material together — in the same space and at the same time. During the recording process, the duo realized that they sounded best when they harmonized. Interestingly, VISUALS’ third single “FROSTY” saw the duo changing things up a bit with KUNZITE’s Stroud takes cup lead vocal duties. Sonically, the track is a summery/beach friendly jam centered around a trippy and cosmic groove, easy-going bass line, shimmering synths and Stroud’s laid-back vocals.

VISUALS’ fourth and latest single “LEMON SWAYZE” was recorded between Stroud’s upstate New York barn-based studio and White’s Oregon-based domed shaped studio. Sonically, the track is a decidedly dance floor friendly jam, centered around rapid-fire, four-on-the-floor, buzzing guitars, a sinuous, motorik groove and a rousingly anthemic, euphoria-inducing hook — with a playful nod at Cyndi Lauper. As the story goes while recording the song Agustin stood in the middle of his Oregon-based domed studio and felt a channel of energy through the line that came through the studio, and began singing the first thing that came out of his mouth — which are heard on the final track.

“‘LEMON SWAYZE’ was created with the mission of bringing listeners to their feet, dancing in exaltation while on a crazy joyride,” the members of KUNZITE explain. “The track’s title was inspired by a vision Agustin had of lemons as spaceships, induced by the consumption of a favorite cannabis strain, Lemon Cake.”