Category: Indie Synth Pop

 

Polish-born electro pop artist Patti Yang splits her time between London and California and with the release of “Invisible Tears,” the first single off her forthcoming debut album, Yang and her backing band quickly received attention for a sound that draws from industrial electronica, electronic music and punk rock. The album’s latest single “Black Box” draws from the same influences, Yang and her backing band pair tense, undulating synth stabs with propulsive, industrial clang and clatter with Yang’s sultry and seductive cooing seemingly writhing through and the mix.

While the song may be remarkably contemporary but it also manages to sound as though it could have easily been released in 1983; in fact, the song reminds me a little bit of Banarama‘s “Cruel Summer” — but a little chillier. Thematically and lyrically the song focus on a narrator, who’s constantly seeking and striving for the peak moment in every single aspect of her life. And although the song reportedly adapts the idea of traveling through a black hole as a metaphor, it also uses “black box turning to gold” as a naughty double entendre for sensual pleasure, which may make this particular single the sexiest, most dance floor ready single the act has released to date.

 

 

 

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If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’d be familiar with Mark Roberts, the creative mastermind behind the critically acclaimed, Brooklyn-based indie electro pop project, We Are Temporary. Roberts and his recording project have developed a reputation for crafting  music that draws from a wide range of influences within contemporary electronic music from future beats, dream pop, witch house, post-rock industrial techno as well as classical music. And he pairs that sound with confessional lyrics based on his own personal experience and personal philosophy; in fact, some of his earliest solo work has focused on suffering through debilitating anxiety attacks, the near breakup and reconciliation of his marriage, his privileged but tumultuous childhood as the son of a renowned American opera singer, living abroad in Europe, as well as his humanistic atheism versus his wife’s devout Mormonism.

After the 2013 release of the Afterthoughts EP, Roberts released a deeply moving protest song inspired and informed by Eric Garner’s death and the grand jury decision that resulted in the acquittal of several police officers for Garner’s death. Simultaneously, Roberts had been spending time writing the material that would wind up releasing his soon-to-released and long-awaited full-length debut, Crossing Over. Interestingly, the album — especially its first single “You Can Now Let Go” was partially inspired by a conversation that Roberts had with his own mother about death. During this conversation Roberts’ mother announced “I’d like to be wide awake when it happens. Dying seems like such an important event in life; I’d hate to miss it.” According to Roberts, this conversation had helped change his mind about death — instead of something to avoid or delay, but something that can be complex, meaningful, beautiful and profound. After all, we and everyone we’ve ever loved and cared about will die; and without death our lives would lack meaning. Additionally, Crossing Over and “You Can Now Let Go” were inspired by Roberts’ own near-death experience: a drug-fueled anxiety attack, which landed him in the ER. Shock and confusion eventually turned into peace and acceptance — and as a result, it inspired a song that depicts a nonviolent death as a quietly beautiful fade to black. Sonically, the dark, unsettling yet hauntingly beautiful song is comprised of huge, tweeter and woofer boom-bap inspired beats, skittering drum programming, ominously swirling electronics and industrial clang and clatter, layers of undulating synths, soaring melodies that subtly arch heavenward are paired with Roberts’ plaintive, deeply emotive vocals.

The album’s second and latest single “Who’s Going To Love You Now” is a brooding and slow-burning ballad consisting of shimmering and chiming synths, swirling electronics and propulsive drum programming paired with Roberts plaintive and achingly desperate vocals. The song was written while Roberts was separated from his wife, and as a result the song thematically speaking focuses on real feels that many us have felt as a relationship was seemingly falling apart — i.e., the fear of not knowing how to love or not knowing how to love enough; the fear of being so fucked up and so damaged that you’ll end up alone. But it also explores the fact that all relationships, especially romantic ones are rooted in the uncertainty of compromise — sometimes compromise that you might be uncertain of actually wanting. In other worse, it points out that human relationships mirror the neuroses and doubts of the people within them, and it does so with a great deal of empathy, while not offering much of a solution one way or the other.

 

 

 

 

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past five or six years, you’d likely be familiar with JOVM mainstays, New York-based  electronic music duo Beacon. Comprised of Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gusset (production), the duo caught my attention with the release of their debut EP, For Now and their debut full-length effort, The Ways We Separate, both of which pair Mullarney’s aching and yearning vocals with a minimalist and spacious production consisting of chilly synths and wobbling bass to craft a sound that meshes elements of R&B, house music and electro pop. Thematically speaking, the New York-based duo’s work explores the complexities of and nuances of human relationships including the difficulties of truly connecting with others in a society that seems to value superficiality and platitudes; the confusion between love and lust and how they drive every relationship we’ll ever have; how longing can quickly turn into life-consuming obsession; how relationships are driven by both selfishness and selflessness — often simultaneously; how relationships can bring out both the best and worst qualities of ourselves — simultaneously; how our pasts continually influence our present and future, and so on. And as a result, their material possesses a sense of regret over what was and what could have been, as well as a sense of dread over fucking it all up from your own blindness, selfishness and stupidity. (Personally, their material has long struck me as  being seemingly much like the sound of what’s really inside our heads and hearts when we’re alone and forced to confront our innermost demons and fears.)

Interestingly, Beacon’s soon-to-be released sophomore effort, Escapements is about time and the baggage it both creates and brings. Unsurprisingly, the album’s title is reportedly influenced by clock mechanics — escapements are timekeeping regulators designed to transfer energy at a constant and regular pace. As Mullarney explained in press notes ” I was attracted to this concept because of the entropy it implies. Friction and changes in amplitude over time mean[s] every escapement, no matter how well crafted, will lose its accuracy and effectively slow down time via its own decay.”

Featuring drumming from Tycho‘s Rory O’Connor, the material on Escapements was written, revised, refined and recorded over the course of about nine months at Beacon’s Brooklyn-based home studio and Gary’s Electric and the album reveals that the duo experienced a period of restless experimentation that included changing their songwriting and production approach to follow wherever their muses take them. And as the members of Beacon note, it meant trying out new studio tricks and recording techniques — sometimes on the fly, essentially capturing the free-flowing energy of the creative process. Last November, I wrote about the album’s first single “Preserve,” a heavily house music-leaning single consisting of woofer and tweeter rattling bass, layers of undulating and cascading synths and skittering and stuttering drum programming parked with Mullarney’s achingly yearning falsetto — that gives the song a plaintive and urgent sense of need and desire. The album’s second single, opening track “IM U” was as Stereogum suggests, “subtly cinematic,” as Gusset’s production paired skittering drum programming, layers of wobbling and shimmering synth stabs with Mullarney’s plaintive pleas to do seemingly anything to please a lover, who seems both incredibly difficult to please and fed up with Mullarney’s narrator. And as a result the song possessed an obsessive despair over the narrator’s uncertainty and the uncertainty of the relationship at the core of the song.

The album’s third and latest single, album title track “Escapements” pairs layers of shimmering and twinkling synths, skittering drum programming (that sounds quite a bit like the mechanism that moves watch hands), swirling electronics with Mullarney’s plaintive cooing in a mournful yet breezy song that evokes time relentlessly rushing forward, as well as the accretion of guilt and regret that can build up in one’s live over time. Much like “IM U,” the song’s narrator is describing an uncertain and confusing relationship in which there seems to be a push and pull.

 

 

New Video: Check out the Love Triangle at the Center of the Video for Gosh Pith’s “K9”

So if you had been frequenting this site over the course of 2015, Detroit, MI-based duo Gosh Pith have become JOVM mainstays while gaining a rapidly growing national profile for a sound and songwriting approach that generally focused on capturing […]

 

If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of years, you may know that the Swedish cities of Umea, Sweden’s third (and most Northern) and Malmo, Sweden’s twelfth (and most Southern) have emerged with reputations as being Sweden and Scandinavia’s newest, most exciting creative hotbeds as an increasing number of artists and bands from both cities have started to receive international recognition — including the likes of JOVM mainstays Moonbabies, Cajsa Siik, Frida Selander and YAST and others.  I have to add to that list, Umea, Sweden-bornsinger/songwriter, producer and sound designer Catharina Jaunviksna, who splits time between her home country, Italy and Ireland and who has received attention with her solo recording project Badlands. With the release of 2012’s Battles Within EP and single “Tutu,” Jaunviksna’s Badlands project received attention from the likes of The 405 and Under the Radar for a sound that many of my colleagues have described as possessing elements of trip-hop and experimental pop.

April will mark the release of her forthcoming full-length effort Locus and album’s first single “Echo” reveals yet another change in sonic direction for Jaunviksna, as the single is a dance floor-ready song consisting of layers of staccato synth stabs and layers of cascading and twinkling synths, swirling electronics and an infectious hook paired with Jaunviksna’s ethereal coos bubbling and floating over the mix’s hazy surface, which give the song an eerie and spectral undercurrent.  Thematically and lyrically the song reportedly discusses self-censorship and the inherent dangers self-censorship can entail. As Jaunviksna explained in press notes “Even though the first intentions might be good, it always ends as a witch hunt and nobody daring to speak their mind.” But sonically speaking to my years, the song channels the likes of Depeche Mode, Still Corners and others as the song possess a captivating pull, begging the listener to come up closer.

 

 

 

 

Sumil Heera, best known within electronic music circles as XO is an up-and-coming 20 year old, Staffordshire, UK-based producer and songwriter, who has quickly received both national and international attention for a sound that possesses elements of neo-soul, funk, hip-hop and deep house with an abstract twist; in fact, in a relatively short period of time, Heera’s work has received attention from the likes of media outlets such as Pitchfork, NME, Annie Mac’s BBC 1 Radio Program, this particular site and countless numbers across the blogosphere, as well as praise from the likes of Diplo and SOHN.

After the release of his first two, critically acclaimed EPs, Heera has returned with the release of “Divine Disaster”/”Night Time Solace,” a collaboration with Australian-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and producer James Chatburn, who has developed a reputation both of his soulful production work, which frequently possesses elements of soul, blues and indie electronica and for his own solo work and work as one-half of The Septembers.

The A-side single “Divine Disaster,” pairs Chatburn’s silky smooth, soulful vocals seemingly floating above the mix with a wobbling house music-leaning production consisting of choppy keyboard chords, and propulsive yet skittering drum programming to craft a song that’s danceable yet soulful, ethereal yet subtly muscular, futuristic yet leaning towards classic house and R&B.

 

 

 

 

 

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Last summer, I wrote about the electro pop duo Hans Island, comprised of Canadian producer Mwahs and Danish-born, based vocalist and electro pop artist Marie Dahlstrom, who has received attention across both Scandinavia and the European Union for her silky smooth vocals. And with the release of “I’m Yours,” the duo of Mwahs and Dahlstrom quickly received international attention for a sound that possessed elements of contemporary R&B, pop as it paired Dahlstrom’s sultry and plaintive vocals with Mwahs’ slick production consisting of swirling electronics, skittering and stuttering drum programming and twinkling keys to evoke hopeful and swooning sensation of newfound love.

The duo’s latest single “Break Free” consists of Mwah’s ethereal, bouncy production featuring swirling electronics, shimmering and cascading synths and propulsive drum programming and an anthemic hook paired with Dahlstrom’s yearning and effortlessly soulful vocals in an upbeat song about breaking free from one’s past, and starting anew — it’s a timeless sentiment that we’ve all felt at some point, bolstered by the hope that things will get better, once we can move forward.

 

 

Initially emerged in 2014 as the recording project of Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop production sibling duo Alex and Ben Kazenoff, Mood Robot expanded to a trio when they enlisted vocalist Jenny Helms (no relation to yours truly) to complete the project’s sound. And from what I understand, the early buzz across the blogosphere has been favorably comparisons to CHVRCHES and The Naked and Famous among others.

Continuing on the early buzz that they’ve received over the past year, the Los Angeles-based electro pop trio will be releasing their debut EP, The Story We Tell Ourselves next month, and the EP’s first single “Drip” pairs Helms’ buoyant, pop starlet vocals with a densely layered production featuring layers of shimmering and undulating synths, electronic bleeps and bloops, blasts of funky and angular guitar chords, tweeter and woofer rocking low end and an infectiously anthemic hook. Admittedly, comparing the trio’s sound to the likes of CHVRCHES is a fair one — although to my ears I also hear the likes of White Prism, Class Actress, and several others, and as as a result of such a crowd pleasing, club-friendly and radio-friendly sound, I expect that the blogosphere will be big on them throughout 2016.

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I’ve been a bit under the weather over the past day-day-and-half or so with a nasty cold and a sore throat, and as a result things have been much slower going than normal for me; in fact, I’ve spent a good part of today in bed, watching episodes of Law and Order, Killer Instinct with Chris Hansen and Forensic Files and texting friends  throughout the course of Winter Storm Juno. But as I’m writing this post, I feel good enough to sit up in my bed with my Macbook, go through several emails and write a post or two. After all, I do feel a duty to you dear friends.  . .

Comprised of Superhumanoids‘ Sarah Chernoff, Kisses‘ Jesse Kivel, and Classixx‘s Michael David, Mt. Si is a collaborative side project that can trace its origins to when David and his bandmates in Classixx were working on their first album. As the story goes, the trio of Chernoff, Kivel and David had been writing songs that were meant to appear on Classixx’s debut album. “Mike and I wrote a track that I was supposed to sing,” Kivel explains in press notes, “but Sarah came in and stole the show, From there we realized that we had good chemistry as a trio, writing and producing in a subtle, refined way.”

“Either/Or” is the trio’s breezy and summery debut single and the song pairs a production consisting of skittering drum programming, shimmering and cascading synths and keyboards with Chernoff’s ethereal cooing floating over a two-step worthy mix. Sonically, the song channels early 80s synth pop and funk; in fact, I’m somehow reminded of a breezier versions of Patrice Rushen‘s “Forget Me Nots” and Oran “Juice” Jones’The Rain” — but with an urgent and plaintive sense of longing just below its shimmering surface.