Category: Indie Synth Pop

Comprised of primary members Guy Fenech, Oly Marlan and Nick Franklin Sydney, Australia-based indie electro pop/indie rock act Australia independently released their full-length debut Portraits of People, Places and Movies earlier this year to national attention for a sound that channels their homeland’s early 80s pub rock scene and 80s New Wave — in other words, as you’ll hear on Places and Movies‘ latest single “Breathe In,” anthemic hooks paired with propulsive four-on-the-floor-like drumming, angular guitar chords, a sinuous bass line, shimmering and undulating synths and Fenech’s baritone crooning to craft a sound that will remind listeners of INXS‘ “Listen Like Thieves” and In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy — but with a dance floor-friendly feel.




Growing up in Atlanta, Blake Fusilier didn’t quite fit in with his contemporaries — while many of his peers aspired to sign to LaFace Records and SoSoDef Records, as a teenager Fusilier picked up the violin, dreamt of being the black Itzhak Perlman and was obsessed with the work of Edgar Allen Poe. And much like odd teenagers — especially odd black teenagers —  a young Fusilier learned that sometimes when you’re extremely different, you can be hated and ridiculed, and around that time he began writing his own music. By the time, he relocated to Boston for college, Fusilier had learned to play the bass and was a member of moody rock band RIBS, which eventually rose to national prominence; in fact, they’ve opened for The Joy Formidable and Queens of the Stone Age, and have been written about across the blogosphere. 

As the story goes, as the band was achieving quite a bit of success, someone asked Fusilier about being black and gay, and the singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer began to realize that running away from those questions and the world’s perceptions of him was spiritually and emotionally exhausting. From that point forward, he wanted to make music that would not only drain those questions of their power but to make them permanently irrelevant. As Fusilier says in press notes, “I have this theory that if people knew who we really were in their minds, we probably would all have a lot more respect for one another. This applies to everyone: friends and acquaintances and bandmates. I think it’s our duty to ourselves to make sure that those around us have a chance to allow others to see our glorious, true selves. I finally feel like I’m beginning to live by those words. The songs I’m wrapping up have been floating around for years. I had been anticipating the moment when people could actually hear even 20 seconds of my potential.” 

So far the response from the blogosphere and music critics has been wildly positive with one critic in particular describing Fusilier’s sound as being a synthesis of James Brown and Nine Inch Nails — although as soon as I heard his latest single “Make You,” I immediately heard Prince, Jef Barbara, Boulevards, Gordon Voidwell and quite a bit of contemporary electro pop as the former RIBS bassist’s sultry and sensual cooing is paired with a slick, hyper modern production consisting of a sinuous bass line, propulsive drum programming led by finger snaps, layers of buzzing synths and electronics, and an incredibly infectious hook in a club banging song that possess an unresolved sexual tension and a sly and ironic commentary on racial and sexual identity. And it all should be a reminder that you can pair some deeply personal and political messages in dance music — and the most important that music can be one of the most powerful weapons imaginable.  


New Video: Australia’s Two People and Their Gorgeous, Cinematic Visuals for “If We Have Time”

The duo’s second and latest single “If We Have Time,” pairs vocalist Phoebe Lou’s aching vocals with a moodily atmospheric production consisting of swirling electronics, stuttering drum programming, twinkling keyboards and guitar played through reverb. And sonically speaking the song will likely remind a great deal of readers of Portishead and Goldfrapp‘s gorgeous Tales of Us — while thematically being a song that focus on the intangible and fleeting nature of time, as well as on a relationship that is in an uncertain place, and on the verge of dissolution. Both scenarios force people to stop and look into the mirror.

The recently released music video is shot in a gorgeous and expansively cinematic black and white in the desert, complete with long pans and much like Martin Amis’ incredible Time’s Arrow with some performance footage and moody and lyrical footage of a woman walking in the desert going in slow motion or in reverse. It’s a trippy yet visually arresting video.

With the release of “Step Into The Mood,”Los Angeles-based electro pop trio Iconique quickly exploded across the blogosphere and elsewhere as the single was praised by  Gawker and Surviving the Golden Age, was featured on Hype Machine and received radio airplay on KUCI and KCHUNG, thanks to a sound that’s been described by some of my colleagues as a “synthesis of influences like PrinceDavid Bowie and Chic.” Interestingly, their last single “Sitting Pretty” sonically seemed to draw equally from Roxy MusicThe Human LeagueHoward Jones and others as Leo Paparella’s speak-song and crooning are paired with a sinuous bass line, shimmering synths and propulsive drumming to craft a song that sounded as though it could have easily been released sometime between 1981 and 1983.

Interestingly, as Paparella explained in press notes, “‘Sitting Pretty’ is both a celebration and critique of vanity. There’s very much an innate cruelty to glamor. It operates out of exclusivity, which keeps its scope woefully narrow and out of touch. And I bet that’s why people want it so badly.” And as a result, the song possess a subtle yet palpable sense of menace and anxiousness under the clean, hyper-modern and danceable sheen. Recently Mitch Murder released an elegantly  shimmering, preening and moodier remix that Leo Paparaella describes as a “fantastically power bitch. It makes me want to watch Dynasty, wear Escada, and douse myself in Giorgio Beverly Hills. He captured the tongue-in-cheek haughtiness of the original. Sonically, he moved the song from 1981 to 1987, so she’s older, colder and wiser now. She traded her silicone for saline.”




New Video: The Goofy and Gloriously 80s Public Access TV Visuals for Neon Indian’s “Annie”

With the release of Vega Intl. Night School last year, Palomo and Neon Indian quickly became a JOVM mainstay; in fact, you might recall that I wrote about the album’s first single “Annie,” an immensely slick and crowd pleasing single that lyrically and thematically draws from Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” and “Dirty Diana” as the song’s narrator is a bit of a lovelorn fool, who can’t find his missing girlfriend either because she suddenly skipped town, never to return — or perhaps much more darkly, because the song’s narrator has had something to do with it. Sonically, the song is comprised of a taut yet sinuous bass line, angular funk guitar chords and shimmering and cascading synth stabs paired with Palomo’s plaintive falsetto, which reminds me quite a bit of Rush Midnight’s +1 EP but funkier.

The recently released music video is a gloriously goofy video shot on grainy VHS tape and splices live footage of Palomo with his backing band in Japan, versions of shitty chatline commercials, footage of Palomo’s character being questioned and then beaten by the police, Palomo doing his best Moonwalker-era Michael Jackson impression, an interview of Palomo’s character being interviewed on a Morton Downey, Jr.-like talk show, complete with shittier special effects and cuts, and a follow-the-bouncing ball crawl on the bottom of the screen. And as a child of the 80s, public access TV actually looked that awful and for a song that draws so much from 80s synth pop, the aesthetic is fitting.

If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of months you may be familiar with Pacific Northwest-based multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and producer Grant Eadie and his solo recording project Manatee Commune; in fact, you may even recall that Eadie has received both regional and national attention for a carefully and organically molded sound in which he pairs natural overtones extracted from various field recordings and other sources, live instrumentation and arrangements and slick, incredibly nuanced, contemporary production. Eadie’s latest EP Thistle was recorded earlier this year and from the EP’s first two singles “Clay,” and “What We’ve Got,” the EP will further cement Eadie’s reputation for an infectious yet breezy production style. “Clay” paired twinkling and chiming percussion, a looped flute sample, layers of shimmering synths and swirling electronics with Marina Price’s flirtatious and sultry vocals in a bouncy and coquettish song that reminded me of a slightly more dance floor friendly version of Sylvan Esso. “What We’ve Got” had Eadie pairing a distorted vocal sample with choppy cascades of synths, twinkling and fluttering electronics, handclaps, enormous tweeter and woofer rocking beats and an infectiously upbeat swagger.

Thistle‘s latest single “The Garden Song” may arguably be the EP’s most lush song as twinkling and chiming percussion are paired with stuttering beats, handclaps, stuttering synth stabs with Moorea Massa’s sultry R&B vocal stylings in a swooning song that evokes the ebullient joy, awkwardness and pangs of love — and that initial moment when you realize that you’re hopelessly and madly in love and you’re both elated and frightened over what it really means for you. Interestingly, I think this particular single is the most radio-friendly song as it leans heavily towards contemporary pop, complete with a breezy and infectious hook.