Category: Indie Synth Pop

Throughout the past summer, I’ve written quite a bit about the Glasgow, Scotland-based synth pop act Free Love, and since their formation back in 2014 under the name Happy Meals, the act which is comprised of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook quickly established themselves as one of Scotland’s most acclaimed, contemporary electronic music acts; in fact, their 2015 full-length debut Apero received a Scottish Album of the Year nod. And adding to a growing profile. the duo has opened for Liars and The Flaming Lips, and played sets at festivals in Austin, TXMoscow, and Bangalore.

With the release of “Synchronicity,” a track that may remind some listeners of Nu Shooz‘s “I Can’t Wait,” and New Order‘s “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle, the duo further cemented their reputation for crafting utopian-leaning and brainy dance pop centered around shimmering analog synths. As the duo explained in press notes, the song is breaking free from the binds of culturally dictated self-limitation, coupled with the vertigo of complete freedom. The Scottish synth pop duo released two more singles, the ecstatic Giorgio Moroder and New Wave-like “Pushing Too Hard,” and the acid-house-like “July,” which brought Come With Us-era Chemical Brothers and Tweekend-era Crystal Method to mind. The duo’s forthcoming EP Luxury Hits is slated for a November 9, 2018 release and the EP’s latest single “Playing As Punks” will further cement the Scottish duo’s reputation for crafting 80s inspired synth-based New Wave — in this case, much like “Synchronicity,” taking its cues directly from early New Order and early house music as the track sonically is centered around arpeggiated synths, industrial clang-like drum programming and an soaring yet infectious hook; but underneath the dance floor friendly vibes, the song focuses on being here in this very brief moment with the understanding and acceptance of the fact that it won’t last.

 

 

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New Video: Introducing the Slick Yet Heartfelt and Radio Friendly Sounds of Toronto’s RALPH

Raffa Weyman is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-born and-based singer/songwriter, and with her solo recording project RALPH, Weyman quickly emerged into the national and international pop scene with the 2015 release of her debut single “Trouble,” which […]

New Video: Acclaimed German Synth Pop Artist Roosevelt Releases a Breezy and Nostalgic, Club Banger

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the Viersen, Germany-born, Cologne, Germany-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, Marius Lauber, who writes, records and performs Roosevelt. Now, as you may recall its the release of Elliot,” the lead single and EP title track of his 2013 debut EP Elliot, Lauber received praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who named the track one of their “Best New Tracks.” 2015 saw the release of the double A side single “Night Moves”/”Hold On,” which was released through Greco-Roman Records and further cemented his reputation for crafting  material with warm, synth-led Euro-disco sound. Building upon a growing profile, Lauber’s 2016 full-length debut featured standout tracks  “Colours” and “Moving On,” and has led to attention-grabbing tours with the likes of Hot Chip, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Crystal Fighters, as well a remixes of singles by Glass Animals, Jax Jones,Truls, Sundara Karma, Luca Vasta and Kakkmaddafakka and others.
Building upon a growing international profile, Lauber’s recently released sophomore Roosevelt album Young Romance finds the acclaimed German singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer making a decided move away from the slickly produced EDM of his previously released material to a warmer, hook-driven, guitar and synth-based sound, complete with a wistful escapism. Thematically, Young Romance fittingly focuses on — well, young romance, including the trials, tribulations and frustrations of falling in and out of love, and of desperately trying to find some semblance of home and life while on the road. As Lauber says of the writing process for the album “I ended up processing a lot of emotions that I felt during my youth. Faded relationships that haunted me for years, being on the road for what seemed like forever and the constant search for a place to call home.”

Album single “Forgive,” featured Lauber collaborating with Ernest Green, a.k.a. Washed Out, who contributes his ethereal and imitable vocals to a shimmering, disco-like production centered by a Chic-era Nile Rodgers groove, African percussion and an infectious hook that sounds as though it could have been a Paracosm B-side.  “Shadows,” continues in a similar, breezy yet disco-inspired vein, as it’s centered around a buoyant two-step friendly groove, arpeggiated synths, Lauber’s plaintive vocals, an incredibly tight, infectious hook that recalls Miami Horror, Washed Out and Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk to mind — but somehow even lighter. Young Romance’s latest single “Under The Sun” will further cement Lauber’s reputation for crafting hook-laden, and breezy pop centered around the German singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s yearning vocals, thumping beats, a sinuous disco-inspired bass line, twinkling keys and ethereal electronics — and while continuing to nod at the likes of Miami Horror, Washed Out, Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk and St. Lucia, the song much like its predecessor reveals an ambitious songwriter and producer, who has put a unique and urgent take on a familiar and beloved sound.

The recently released video for “Under The Sun” is a cinematic and fittingly nostalgic visual that features Lauber yearning singing the song and playing guitar on the beach, reflecting on a past relationship. 

Amy Kuney is a Tulsa, OK-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known as AMES. Kuney began piano lessons when she turned four, and participated in piano recitals and church performances throughout her childhood. The Tulsa-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist wrote her first song when she turned 12 and by the following year, Kuney’s father moved the family from their Tulsa home to Honduras to live as missionaries after he saw a video highlighting the destruction of Hurricane Mitch. As a teenager, Kuney taught herself guitar chords off a poster her father bought from Wal-Mart, while grappling with being gay in a strange country — and without friends; however, Kuney spent her time listening to the only secular album she could get her hands on, Fiona Apple‘s Tidal and writing songs.

The Tulsa-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist returned to the States to study at a religious college but she dropped out because of their archaic views on LGBTQ and relocated to Los Angeles, where she vowed to spend the rest of her life creating art and helping young people in the LGBQT community much like herself. Since relocating to Los Angeles, Kumey has developed a reputation as a go-to songwriter, who has written songs for the likes of Kelly Clarkson, AKON, Rita Ora, Michelle Branch, Tori Kelly, Lights, Icona Pop, Adam Lambert, Jason Mraz, Jojo, ALMA and growing list of others. Kuney steps out from behind the scenes with the release of the breezy “Hold On,” a single centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, strummed acoustic guitar, and a soaring and anthemic hook — and sonically speaking, the song manages to nod at Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush and Feist but with a much-needed message for anyone who has felt marginalized at any point.

 

 

 

Comprised of the Northern Ireland-born, Dublin, Ireland-based duo Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntrye, the up-and-coming Dublin-based synth pop act Saint Sister can trace their origins to when the duo met while studying at the University of Dublin — and while studying, the duo bonded over their mutual desire to create music that represented both their friendship and their “us against the world” mentality.  Building upon a growing international profile, the Irish duo’s highly-anticipated Alex Ryan-produced full-length debut Shape of Silence is slated for an October 5, 2018 release, and the album  reportedly will showcase the duo’s ability to craft atmospheric, trip-hop like synth pop paired with dreamy vocals singing heartfelt vocals; in fact, Shape of Silence’s latest single “Steady” is centered around a lush yet minimalist production consisting of twinkling keys, atmospheric electronics, thumping beats and gorgeous vocals — and while seemingly being indebted to Portishead, the single reveals a profoundly self-assured and feminine strength.

The Irish synth pop duo are currently in the middle of a 3 week headlining North American tour. Check out the remaining tour dates below.

TOUR DATES:

09/29 Chicago, IL – Schuba’s
10/02 Seattle, WA – Barboza
10/03 Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
10/05 San Francisco, CA – Cafe Du Nord
10/06 Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg

New Video: Darling James Releases a Colorful and Trippy Video for Upbeat and Swooning Album Single “You’re The Only One I Need Now”

James O’Brien is a Melbourne, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, best known for being the frontman of renowned Australian act  Boat People, and with his solo recording project Darling James, O’Brien has received attention both nationally and internationally for hook-laden yet sophisticated take on pop — his single “God’s Graffiti” featured lyrics that were metaphysical musings, paired with a shimmering and atmospheric production that reminded me a bit of Reptile Youth‘s Away EP — but with an earnest yearning for meaning, for more

Now, as you may recall O’Brien’s sophomore Darling James effort MOOD EYES was released earlier this year and the material was initially written, pieced together, then auditioned, revised and culled from a series of songs and song ideas that made the cut for the album. He then took the initial recordings to his long-time collaborator Robin Waters, and the duo recruited additional musicians to flesh out the material while Waters began sorting through and mixing the reams of synths, vocals, string arrangements and samples that O’Brien had thrown together. And while seemingly being a hodgepodge creative process, the album thematically focuses on wide range of things from regret, acceptance, burning the candle at both ends, the joy and pleasure of leaving a party — and hell, the party scene — for a loved one and so on. Album single “Silver Bullet” further cemented O’Brien’s reputation for creating shimmering and atmospheric pop centered around lyrics that carefully examined a relationship and situation in which there was no easy answers, just increasing confusion and anxiety — and absolutely no one to save you or help. 

Interestingly, MOOD EYES’ latest single “You’re The Only One I Need Now,” is centered around an atmospheric and trippy production featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, O’Brien’s yearning yet ethereal vocals, thumping beats and a soaring hook — and while continuing in a similar vein as the album’s preceding singles, it’s a swooning, upbeat, heart-on-the-sleeve sort of love song written and sung from the perspective of an adult, who has grown from blind lust and desire to dealing with another person through shared values, respect, comfort and company. It’s a comforted sigh of relief in a difficult and cynical world. As O’Brien explains in press notes “I wanted to make a song that was simple enough to be taken as what it mostly is – an un-self conscious ode to that special person in your life – but also to allude to how you get there, from teenage desire to young adult drunken escapades to shared values and respect. The song is necessarily musically and lyrically uncomplicated but at the same time it’s textually quite dense. Similarly, the clip is in one way very direct with a person singing to camera most of the time but it also utilities complex and layered effects at its core.”

 

Earlier this month, I wrote about Liam Brown, an up-and-coming Liverpool, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and electro pop artist, best known as Pizzagirl, and with the release of his debut EP An Extended Play earlier this year, Brown was championed by the likes of Huw StephensAnnie Mac and Lauren Laverne, and received praise from DIYHighsnobietyWonderlandThe Line of Best Fit and others for an 80s synth pop inspired sound. And adding to a growing profile, Brown opened for acclaimed British act Her’s during their most recent UK tour.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding him, Brown’s sophomore Pizzagirl effort season 2 is slated for a November release, and as you may recall EP single “highschool” was an achingly wistful and pensive synth pop track centered around arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and a sinuous hook that immediately brought Washed OutSt. Lucia and classic 80s synth pop to mind. “gymnasium,” season 2‘s latest single continues on a similar vein — swooningly heartfelt and oversized teenaged sentiment paired with a breezy yet decidedly DIY production featuring twinkling keys, thumping beats, Brown’s plaintive vocals, a Tears for Fears-like bridge and incredibly infectious hooks. Just as important, Brown manages to accurately capture and evoke what it feels like to be a high schooler and desperately in love.

 

 

New Video: Introducing the Slickly Produced and Mediative R&B of Honors

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.”