Category: Indie Synth Pop

 

Comprised of Alex Hastings and Bryan Gomez, the Los Angeles, CA-based duo Pioneer 11 derive their name from the famed space probe of the same name. And unsurprisingly, the duo specializes in space rock; however, their take is a hazy and hip-hop influenced one that has drawn comparisons to Dark Side of the Moon meets J.Dilla, Caribou meets Flying Lotus and Radiohead among others. Interestingly, “Squishy Sunbeam” off the duo’s forthcoming full-length debut Gravitorium is centered around ethereal vocals, twinkling keys, shimmering guitar lines, a motorik groove and thumping beats — and sonically, the song recalls the hazy sunniness of Cut Copy‘s In Ghost Colours but with a trippy cosmic glow.

 

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New Video: Introducing the Atmospheric and Brooding Synth Pop of London’s Sailing Stones

Jenny Lindfors is an Irish-born, London-based singer/songwriter and indie electro pop artist, best known for her solo recording project Sailing Stones. And with the release of her debut EP She’s A Rose, the Irish-born, English-based singer/songwriter received national attention with airplay on Gideon Coe’s, Tom Robinson’s and Don Letts’ BBC Radio 6 shows and played a live session for BBC Music Introducing In The West. Lindfors is currently working on the final touches of her TJ Allen-produced full-length debut, which is slated for a 2019 release through her own label Keep Her Lit.

But in the meantime, Lindfors latest single “To Know Nothing At All (Telescopes)” is a re-imagined, re-worked and retitled take on an an earlier release, a vinyl B-side for the original “Telescopes” single. Interestingly, Dan Moore, best known for is work with Will Gregory Moog Ensemble and Modulus III came up with a version of the song, completely composed on analog synthesizers — and as a result, it gives the reworked song a brooding and atmospheric vibe that recalls JOVM mainstay ACES, and the cinematic 80s synth pop that clearly inspire it. 

As Lindfors says in press notes, the use of synthesizers was “a game changer in terms of how I wanted to record my songs. It hooked me into making more music that reminded me of the AOR bands/singer-songwriters of the late 80s when I was little.” Unsurprisingly, the recently released video for the single is centered around a grainy VHS-like footage of a late night drive to Bristol, complete with the sodium glow of streetlights, a constant flow of headlights and taillights of cars, further emphasizing the song’s brooding nature.

Centered around the collaboration between core duo Martin Kuphukusi (vocals, lyrics) and Pitor Dang (electronics, sampler, production, mixing, lyrics, bass) Owls Are Not are an international collaboration primarily based in Warsaw, Poland that specializes in a minimal Afro funk/electro pop/electro punk that at points draws from footwork and dub, and live, organic Eastern African rhythms.

The act’s latest effort, Radio Tree released through the non-profit label 1000Herz Records is the result of several months of ethnomusicological research in Malawi and Tanzania. Adding to the Pan African and international flavor of the album, four of the album’s six songs were written with Eastern African vocalists, including Tonga Boys‘ Peter Kaunda, appearing as Certifyd, Sehno‘s Masaya Hijikata and Martin Kaphux Kaphukusi, the choir conductor of Christ Church of Malawi. Additionally, newspaperflyhunting and Vendrae Vendarum’s Michal Pawlowksi contributes guitar on a song.

Radio Tree‘s latest single is the thumping, club friendly “Asali.” Centered around arpeggiated synths and an infectious hook, the song manages to recall dancehall with a distinctly African flair. Thematically, the song like much of the album’s material focuses on love — and in a way that feels endearing and almost old school.

 

 

 

 

 

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Le Couleur is Montreal, Quebec-based electro pop band that consists of Laurence Giroux-Do, Patrick Gosselin and Steeven Chouinard, and with the release of 2010’s debut effort Origami, the trio received attention both across Europe and in their native Quebec for a decidedly French take on synth pop and disco pop. As a result of growing buzz around the French Canadian trio, their debut was propelled to the top of Quebec’s independent radio charts.

Le Couleur’s 2013 French Fox-produced Voyage Love EP found the trio collaborating with the members of French Horn Rebellion on an effort that found the act expanding upon the sound that first caught attention, winning further attention internationally. In fact, the act played a number of festivals across the international festival circuit including stops Pop Montreal, Liverpool Sound City and M for Montreal. The EP was also nominated for a GAMIQ Prize for Best EP of the year. Building upon a run of critically applauded material, the act’s 2015 Dolce Désir EP won the GAMIQ Prize for Electronic Music EP.

The French-Canadian act’s latest single “Le Dernier Noel” is a special (and mesmerizing) Christmas track for their fans, centered around shimmering synths, jangling guitars, ethereal vocals and a slick, radio friendly and dance floor friendly hook. And while being a fairly traditional Christmas tune, the Le Couleur rendition manages to be much more indirect and subtle in its spirit. 

 

 

 

Liam Brown, an up-and-coming, Liverpool, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and electro pop artist, best known as pizzagirl has become one of this site’s latest mainstays over the couple of months. Now, as you may recall, with the release of the An Extended Play EP earlier this year, Brown was quickly championed by Huw Stephens, Annie Mac and Lauren Laverne, and received praise from DIY, Highsnobiety, Wonderland, The 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.

With the release of singles like “highschool,” “gymnasium,” “body part,” off Brown’s soon-to-be released sophomore pizzagirl EP season 2, the Liverpool-based artist further cements a growing national and international reputation for crafting swooningly heartfelt, shimmering synth pop that draws from several decades simultaneously, giving it a decidedly anachronistic sound and feel. “blossom at my feet, flower,” season 2‘s latest single is a classic 80s-inspired power ballad, centered around thumping beats, shimmering synths, chiming guitars, and an anthemic hook. Unsurprisingly, Brown’s latest continues a run of cinematic singles — but unlike its predecessors, it’s the most prom-like, evoking teenaged hopes, desires and dreams with a novelistic detail to psychology and the psychological state of his narrators.

New Video: Follow British Actor Jeremy Irvine Dancing Through London for Friendly Fires Rapturous “Heaven Let Me In”

Comprised of Ed McFarlane, Jack Savidge and Edd Gibson, the St. Albans, Hertfordshire, UK-based electronic music act Friendly Fires can trace their origins back to when they met while attending St. Albans School. When they were all 13, the trio formed their first band, a post-hardcore act First Day Back, which covered Green Day and other rock acts.  First Day Back lasted until the trio attended university — and during that time Ed Macfarlane released music under his own name through Skam and Precinct Recordings. 

Upon graduation Macfarlane, Savidge and Gibson formed Friendly Fires, their critically applauded electronic music act which derives its name from the opening track of Section 25’s Always Now. Sonically, the trio has cited the German techno label Kompakt, Carl Craig and Prince as major influences on a sound that draws from dance music, lush, shoegaze melodies and classic pop songwriting. 

2007 was their breakthrough year, as “Paris” was named Single of the Week in The Guardian, received praise from NME and airplay on Zane Lowe’s BBC Radio 1 show — and they were the first unsigned act to appear on Channel 4’s Transmission.  Building upon a growing profile in their native England, the trio released their full-length, self-titled debut in 2008, an effort which featured album singles “On Board,” Jump in the Pool,” “Skeleton Boy,” and the aforementioned “Paris.” Their debut was a critical and commercial success. The album was certified double gold in the UK — and the trio was nominated for a Best Breakthrough Award at The South Bank Show Awards and for Best Dancefloor Filler at the NME Awards.  

Early 2009 saw the band touring on the Shockwaves NME Awards Tour with Glasvegas, White Lies, and Florence and the Machine. March of that year, Friendly Fires co-headlined with White Lies on the Stateside equivalent of the Shockwaves NME Awards tour, called NME Presents with The Soft Pack opening. Since then, the act has been nominated for a Mercury Music Prize, and two Brit Awards — one for Best British Group and British Breakthrough Act. 

In 2010, the duo released a split 12 inch single with Holy Ghost! in which they covered a single by the other, and included instrumental versions of both songs. They also contributed a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Strangelove” to the Frank Miller-directed commercial for Gucci’s Guilty. They ended the year with a compilation with London-based club promoters Bugged Out! called Bugged Out Presents Suck My Deck, which featured remixes of songs by The Phenomenal Handclap Band and Lindstrom and Christabelle handpicked by the trio and “Stay Here,” a collaboration between the members of Friendly Fires and Azari & III. 

2011 saw the release of their sophomore album Pala, which featured album singles “Live Those Days Tonight” and “Hawaiian Air.” It was arguably, their most pop-leaning effort; however, by the following year, the members of Friendly Fire had been working with producer Andrew Weatherall on some forward-thinking and psychedelic-leaning material. However, since then the trio have been on a lengthy hiatus that has found McFarlane and Gibson collaborating with The Advisory Circle’s Jon Brooks in a project called The Pattern Forms, which released their debut effort, 2016’s Peel Away the Ivy. 

Earlier this year, the trio released “Love Like Waves,” their first bit of new material since 2012. “Heaven Let Me In,” the acclaimed trio’s second single of this year, is a club-banger centered around a euphoric and chopped vocal loop and arpeggiated synths — and while nodding a bit at Daft Punk and Stardust’s classic “Music Feels Better With You,” the song which was co-produced with Disclosure evokes the ecstasy of dancing under strobe-lights and thunderous bass until the next morning. 

Directed by Bison, who has directed videos by Bonobo, London Grammar and Jon Hopkins, the video stars renowned British actor Jeremy Irvine, known for his roles in War Horse and Mama Mia dancing through the streets and landmarks of London’s Docklands, looking as though he just came out from the club — and wants the party to continue. 

New Video: Scott Gilmore Retro-Futuristic Take on Instrumental Synth Pop

Scott Gilmore is a Northridge, CA-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and electronic music artist, who has recorded a handful of critically applauded releases through SFV REC and International Feel. His forthcoming album Two Roomed Motel is slated for a March 1, 2019 release through Crammed Discs, the label home of Juana Molina. And the album’s latest single, album title track “Two Roomed Motel” is a funky and percussive  yet laid-back retro-futuristic synth pop single that subtly recalls Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit,” Holy Ghost!’s Crime Cutz, Return to Forever and the Los Angeles-based, post J Dilla beatmakers. But unlike any of those references, the track finds Gilmore meshing a lo-fi, bedroom recording approach with slick electronic production in a way that’s mischievously anachronistic. 

Directed by Scott Gilmore, and shot and edited by Kenny Gilmore, the recently released video stars Gilmore checking into a hotel room, where he jams and records the song, first using a synthesizer before he gets room service to deliver bongos, a guitar, a keyboard which he then uses to complete the song. At one point, we follow Gilmore as he wanders out on to the streets and walks into a local bar, where he pensively has a drink. It’s a decidedly lo-fi affair centered around a simple concept, much like the song itself. 

GENTS is a Copenhagen, Denmark-based duo featuring Theis Vesterløkke and Niels Fejrskov Juhl, two longtime friends. And since their 2015 debut ep Embrace the Future, the duo have won a fanbase across their native Denmark and elsewhere of crafting hook-driven and hopeful music. Building upon a growing profile, the last year’s full-length debut About Time found the Danish duo redefining and expanding upon the sound that first caught them attention.

Over the course of the past year, the duo have toured across Europe and Russia, have written, recorded and released a double single and releasing new material that will further cement their growing reputation for crafting sentimental yet deeply optimistic music, rooted by a belief that music is most often a direct mode of expression of an open heart. Interestingly, the duo’s latest single “Emotional Facelift” is a plastic-coated track centered around plinking keys, atmospheric synths and vocals fed through autotune. Although being a bit prepackaged, the song thematically touches upon indecision, self-help, insincerity and apathy, ironically the song has a sincere and bittersweet quality,

“’Emotional Facelift’ deals with apathy and the shocking stress this can cause when you realize that you are completely emotionally callous.Everyone gets this feeling every now and then, and what you so desperately need in that situation is obviously an emotional facelift,” the Danish synth pop duo explained in press notes. “We wanted the track to sound as two-dimensional, simple and synthetic as possible, so any flaws and tiny imperfections were smoothened out. To us this creates this weirdly plastic-yet-humane and cute-yet-paranoid pop song – we absolutely love it, and we hope you will too.”

Centered around the collaboration between singer/songwriter Gina Leonard and producer and guitarist Tom Freyer, the acclaimed Bristol, UK-based electro pop/trip hop act The Desert can trace their origins to when Freyer had produced some of Leonard’s solo work. And as the story goes, the duo quickly hit upon a formula of Freyer taking the songs that Leonard had initially written with an acoustic guitar and adding layers of electronics and lush, detailed production.

With the release of “Just Get High,” the first single off last year’s debut EP Playing Dead, the act received airplay on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6 and Radio X. And with the release of further tracks off the EP, the British electro pop/trip hop, the act received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound that some have described as being a mix between Little Dragon and Portishead. Building upon a growing profile, the act’s sophomore EP was released last week, and from the EP’s first single “Gone,” the act has revealed a decided evolution of their sound and approach while retaining the cinematic quality that first won them attention; however, the song possessed a desperate, urgent air with a hint of uneasy hope.  The EP’s latest single “Distract Me” is a much more intimate, sensual track centered around a hauntingly sparse arrangement of strummed guitar, plinking, jazz-like piano, Leonard’s achingly plaintive vocals — with synths and electronics added towards the last third. In some way, the EP’s latest track manages to remind me of the film noir-ish tone of Goldfrapp’s Tales of Us.

Lately, the act has been busy working on new material and playing their first batch of live shows across the UK — and for their live shows, Leonard and Freyer have recruited Ryan Rogers (bass) and Jonny Parry (drums, electronics).