Category: Indie Synth Pop

 

Comprised of brothers Adam Lyons (vocals) and Nathan Lyons (keyboards), along with Patrick Huerto (guitar), Tommy Davis (bass), James Alexander (drums), the Gold Coast, Australian-born and now Manchester, UK-based sextet Fairchild have developed a growing international profile for an 80s inspired, hook-laden synth pop sound.  The sextet’s latest single “Breathless”  further cements the band’s reputation for 80s inspired synth pop; however, while their previously released material was rousingly anthemic, the new single is slow-burning, sensual, and moodily atmospheric in a way that’s reminiscent of The Fixx’s “Saved by Zero” as four-to-four drumming,  swirling electronics, slowly cascading synths, shimmering guitar chords played through layers of reverb are paired with Adam Lyon’s soulful crooning and a slinkily sexy groove.

 

Produced by friend and frequent collaborator Catherine Marks, best known for her work with Foals, The Killers and Wolf Alice, the single not only reveals a subtle refinement of the sound that first won them international attention, it also inspired a change in their songwriting process. As the story goes, the time the members of the band spent writing “Breathless” actually inspired a series of pre-production jam sessions and songwriting sessions over the course of four months that had each band member contributing ideas unencumbered and unhindered by genre expectations. At times members of the band worked individually and in small groups, sometimes swapping instruments, sharing ideas and thoughts on bits of grooves, riffs and beats  and as they did so they began to see and feel even more parallels between their recorded efforts and their influences.

From listening to “Breathless,” I can tell you that the song is arguably the most self-assured, loosest and sexiest song that they’ve released to date, and that seems to stem from the songwriting sessions that birthed it. Granted,  if you were familiar with them before, it’s a subtle refinement of their sound but the hooks are sharper and laser focused. And while their material had always been emotionally direct, the new single pairs that directness with a deeper commitment to setting a particular mood. Be on the lookout for a new EP from the Australian-born, British-based band sometime in 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Jimmy Jönsson (vocals), Stefan Aronsson (synths and programming) and Per Linnerblad (synths and programming), the Stockholm, Sweden-based electro pop trio Red Cell can trace their origins to when the band’s founding duo of  Jönsson and Aronsson formed the back during the winter of 2002-2003. Deriving their name from a character that appears in the TV series Nikita, the duo recorded their first demo “In Command” a few months after forming, and it was released to praise in the Swedish press for an industrial metal sound.

Stefan Aronsson, who played guitar on their first single was recruited into the band along with another member on synths and as a newly constituted quartet, the band’s sound became much more synth-based. After recording two more demos — “I Am The Way” and “Related Skin,” which received national attention, the band entered the Swedish demo-contest Quest For Fame and won a recording contract. And although the band eventually turned down the recording deal they won, with a growing national profile, the quartet toured around Sweden and started playing regular gigs in Copenhagen, Denmark, which begun to expand their international profile across Scandinavia.

By January 2005, the Swedish electro pop quartet had signed with Torny Gotberg’s Gothenburg, Sweden-based Progress Productions, who released their commercially successful full-length debut effort, Hybrid Society that September. The album peaked at number 7 on the Swedish metal charts and at number 53 on the National charts. A national tour to support Hybrid Society followed, along with the band’s first gigs in Norway.

The band’s last effort Lead or Follow was released in 2008, and as you can imagine across Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia, the news of their forthcoming third, full-length release, slated for release sometime next year has been long-anticipated. Although currently untitled, the album’s first single “Taking Back The Crown” is an anthemic bit of synth pop that sounds indebted to Depeche Mode‘s “People Are People” and “Policy of Truth” as well as The Human League‘s “Don’t You Want Me?” as layers of undulating synths are paired with propulsive drumming, enormous arena-friendly hooks and plaintive vocals.

 

 

21 year-old Paris-based, French-Brazilian singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Yndi Ferreira is the creative mastermind behind indie electro pop project Dream Koala, a project that Ferriera started back in 2012. Interestingly, Ferreira developed a reputation of his production style as he quickly became a go-to remixer, remixing the work of Angel Haze, The 1975, BANKS and others — and as an artist, his debut single “We Can’t Be Friends” caught the attention of renowned acts including Fabolous, Doja Cat and the aforementioned BANKS.

Building on an increasing buzz around him, Ferreira released the critically applauded Odyssey EP and Earth. Home. Destroyed. EP which were informed by a variety of Ferreira’s influences including Flying Lotus, My Bloody Valentine, Radiohead, contemporary R&B which gave the material a spectral, shoegazer-like, introspective feel, along the lines of Beacon‘s For Now and The Ways We Separate while thematically exploring Afrofuturism and sci-fi.

Slated for a December 4 release, Ferreira’s soon-to-be released EP Exodus will reportedly continue thematically where the critically acclaimed Earth. Home. Destroyed. left off while cementing his reputation for crafting moody, spectral electro pop that seamlessly meshes elements of contemporary R&B, bass-heavy electronica and soft rock. “Dimension Sleeper,” Exodus‘ first single (and EP opener, by the way) pairs layers of slowly cascading synths, dub-inspired tweeter and woofer rocker bass fed through gentle washes of reverb and skittering drum programming with Ferreira’s plaintive and ethereal vocals in a song that evokes both the sensation of weightlessness and of wisps of smoke curling and rising heavenward before dissipating. And although possessing a retro-futuristic sound that would clearly sound at home in the early 80s, at the core of the song is a delicate and ancient ache that’s haunting and unsettling.

While playing this song I thought of the song’s narrator in a dying spaceship traveling through the cosmos, and the entire time the narrator is haunted by the lingering and inescapable ghost of a departed lover.

 

 

 

Since the release of their fantastic, full-length sophomore effort, Leave Me Midnight a couple of years ago, the Chicago-based duo  My Gold Mask have become JOVM mainstays as I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink about the duo and their work. Of course, in case you are new to the site — or just need your memory refreshed, some backstory is necessary:  Comprised of Jack Armondo (guitar, vocals) and Gretta Rochelle (vocals, percussion),  the duo spent time in Brooklyn and Baton Rouge, LA respectively, before relocating to Albuquerque, NM. Strangely enough, despite running in the same social circles, it wasn’t until Armondo and Rochelle finally relocated to Chicago, where they had a chance encounter at a rooftop party.

And as the story goes, the duo’s conversation quickly turned to music and their mutual love of Italian giallo films. In 2009, after completing a couple of short-lived rock projects involving other local musicians, Armando and Rochelle retreated and spent time experimenting with new sounds and broadening their artistic voices and the end result was their now-critically acclaimed duo My Gold Mask. Writing and recording their material in Chicago’s dimly-lit warehouse district has in some way influenced their overall sound and aesthetic. Assisted by long-time producer and collaborator Balthazar del Ley,  their sound seemed to subtly nod towards Phil Spector’s famed “Wall Of Sound” production style of the 60s — that is layers of instrumentation with cascading and swirling reverb.

Since the release of Leave Me Midnight, My Gold Mask have released a series of singles that have revealed a band expanding upon and refining the sound that won the duo national attention, and in a similar fashion to Yeah Yeah Yeahs It’s Blitz! — in particular, “Zero” and “Heads Will Roll.” “Battles,” the first single off the duo’s paired undulating synths, industrial clang and clatter, brief but explosive blasts of guitar, four-on-the-floor drumming  and anthemic hooks with Rochelle’s plaintive and ethereal vocals. And as you can imagine, the addition of electronics gave their soaring sound a futuristic and club-friendly sheen (which interestingly enough adds a some light to their dark and brooding material).

The album’s latest single “Connect” continues the album’s overarching change in sonic approach as synths and electronics play a big role; however, with “Connect” the approach is more of a gentle and subtle refinement. The soaring and anthemic hooks the duo are known for are still there but in this case, they’re paired with angular and buzzing power chords, electronic bleeps and bloops, swirling atmospheric synths and live drumming paired with electronic drums. Much like the album’s previous single, the song’s narrator bares their anxieties, obsessions and fears with an unadorned frankness to anthemic, shimmering dance rock.

 

New Video: The Noir-ish and Surreal Video for Neon Indian’s “Slumlord Rising”

Alan Palomo is Mexican-born, Denton, TX-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist best known for his recording project, Neon Indian. Palomo’s 2009 debut effort, Psychic Chasms was released to critical praise across the blogosphere, as Pitchfork named it one of its best […]