McMichael’s solo debut Waves is slated for a May 20, 2021 release, and the album’s latest single “Stepping Stone” is a vibey and carefully crafted synthesis of Muscle Shoals soul and 70s AM rock featuring shimmering Rhodes, a slow-burning and steady groove, a country soul-like guitar solo, a soaring string arrangement by Maria Peddle and McMichael’s soulful crooning. Sonically, the song — to my ears, at least — brings the likes of Natalie Prass to mind, with the song being rooted in deeply personal experience.
“My new single ‘Stepping Stone’ questions how the pursuit of success in the music industry can impact the nature of a relationship,” McMichael explains. “I’m reaching out for understanding while shifting through themes of ambition, loyalty and jealousy.”
FORM is a mysterious, enigmatic and emerging French electro pop trio featuring Aksel, Adrien and Hausmane. The trio’s latest single, the slow-burning and atmospheric “Equation” is a sleek synthesis of Quiet Storm-like R&B and alt pop centered around plaintive yet soulful vocals, twinkling and shimmering synth arpeggios and industrial clang and clatter. Sonically, the track reminds me — to my ears at least — of JOVM mainstays Beacon and Kid A-era Radiohead.
The trio explain the song’s creative process was focused on one goal — to retain their stripped down and sincere essence as much as possible. Interestingly, the song finds the trio comparing social conventions to equations: “We mathematically react to things in our lives depending on our values, principles, education, culture . . . This song is very dear to our hearts because it perfectly draws how the future is gonna look like for us, musically.”
After spending seven years traveling, Vincent Gerard returned to the Grand Est region of France in 2019 — formerly known as Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine — and reconnected with his childhood friends Etienne “Bob” Blanchard and Martin “CHE” Chevrier and started the French indie rock act Wildation.
Deriving their name from what they believe is a utopian balance of nature and civilization, the band’s work is inspired by Gerard’s experiences traveling — and the observations and feelings that he frequented jotted down in his journals. With their debut EP First Seeds, the band quickly established their thematic concerns with material that touched upon humanity’s constant development and its impact on nature, confronting your fears and getting out of your comfort zone and the essential things in life.
Released earlier this year, the French band’s latest single “Blow Your Mind” is a bold and decided change in sonic direction: First Seeds found the band playing acoustic indie rock in the vein of Love Is Here-era Starsailor, while “Blow Your Mind” is a brooding arena rock friendly anthem centered featuring shimmering guitars, thunderous drumming, a rousingly anthemic hook paired with earnest yet ambitious songwriting and urgent performances. The end result is a song that sonically — to my ears, at least — that reminds me of Snow Patrol.
Initially beginning his creative career as a painter, the mysterious Strasbourg-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer professionally known as MHUD got into music as a creative outlet relatively recently. And within a very short period of time, the Strasbourg-born, Paris-based artist quickly established genre-defying work that thematically touches upon man’s spiritual, emotional and intellectually split from himself.
MHUD’s full-length debut was released last March, and as you may recall, the album featured the slickly produced, “Cheval de Bataille,” a track that meshed elements of trip hop, electroclash, electro pop and arena rock. The French artist’s latest single, the slow-burning and brooding “Il ne s’évapore pas” further cements his growing reputation for a genre-defying sound and approach — with the song finding MHUD adopting a fuzzy and distorted power chord driven garage rock sound. Unlike his previously released material, “Il ne s’évapore pas” possesses a raw, on-the-fly, improvised vibe, which gives the song a gritty air.
Steven Colyer is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, the Los Angeles-based artist is the creative mastermind behind the emerging and eponymous solo recording project Colyer.
Colyer’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut is slated for release this fall and the album sonically finds the emerging Los Angeles-based artist adopting a nothing is off limits approach with the album’s material drawing from 60s soul, shoegaze and everything else while thematically, the album finds the emerging artist being vulnerable and approachable.
The forthcoming album’s latest single “Pet Names” is slow-burning and brooding bit of late night, vibey, Nick Hakim-like soul with the song featuring reverb-drenched guitars, shimmering synths and a steady backbeat. The arrangement serves as a silky bed for Colyer’s sultry and vulnerable vocals, crooning lyrics longing for someone’s touch. In light of the isolation and loneliness of the past year of quarantines, this song will strike close to home for most of us.
“This song wrote itself, basically visceral vomit,” Colyer explains. “I had come out of a four year relationship wanting to focus on myself. Still, cooped up in my tiny Hollywood apartment, I missed the intimacy and company of someone else. Anyone else.”
True Loves is a rising Seattle-based instrumental soul outfit that can trace its origins to a jam session back in 2014 between three of the city’s best players — David McGraw (drums), Bryant Moore (bass) and Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio‘s Jimmy James (guitar). Since then, the band has expanded into a globalized unit with the addition of Iván Galvez (percussionist), Odesza‘s, Monophonics‘ and Polyrhythmics Jason Cressey (trombone), Mackelmore‘s Greg Kramer (trombone), Gordon Brown (sax) and the acclaimed Skerik (sax). The band has developed a reputation as a must-see live act locally — and they’ve amassed millions of streams on YouTube.
The act’s full-length debut, 2017’s Famous Last Words received praise locally and as a result, the act landed sets at a number of regional festivals including Sasquatch,Doe Bay and Upstream. The members of the Seattle-based act followed the release of their full-length debut, with a handful of singles including 2018’s “Dapper Derp”/”Kabuki” 45RPM single and 2019’s “Famous Last Words”/”Mary Pop Poppins” 45RPM single.
The Seattle-based group’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Sunday Afternoon is a sort of soundtrack for a Sunday afternoon block party that brings the entire neighborhood out. Co-written by Greg Kramer and Bryant Moore with the intention of writing classic using just four chords, Sunday Afternoon‘s fourth and latest single “Yard Byrds” is a slow-burning G funk-like pimp strut, centered around a regal horn melody, a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars, fluttering flute and a steady yet propulsive beat. Every time I’ve played this song, I’ve closed my eyes and pictured myself strutting and flossing down the street, as you head to the block party or the swap meet.
The Tell is a new collaborative project that features:
Noah Dickie: The Henderson, NV-based singer/songwriter co-founded Coastwest Unrest back in 2019 with his older brother Josh. The band released a series of albums through their own Reclaim Records with their last album, 2017’s The Crazed Ones found the band sonically creating an uneasy balance between roots Americana and stripped-down punk folk.
James McAllister: The much sought-after Los Angeles-based programmer and touring dummer, who has worked with The National, Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver. McAllister has worked with The National’s Aaron Dessner on Taylor Swift‘s last two critically acclaimed albums. He has collaborated with Stevens, Nico Muhly and Bryce Dessner on an album titled Planetarium, which was released through 4AD Records back in 2017. As as a solo artist, McAllister has released material through Justin Vernon’s and Dessner’s label 37d03d. And he has contributed to the soundtracks of a handful of Oscar-nominated films, including The Big Sick, The Two Popes and Call MeBy Your Name.
Dickie and McAllister explain that the project’s name is a sort of double entendre, referring to poker players, who are easy to read and the sonic narrative of their musical work, an aural journey from borderline despair to well-being, using music — and of course, it’s creation — to try to heal psychic and physical wounds. The project pairs Dickie’s narrative songwriting and folk roots with McAllister’s buzzing soundscapes. Sonically and aesthetically, the duo manage to reflect live lived in a pandemic.
The duo who have individually worked on a number of critically applauded projects have been friends for many years — and their new collaboration together can trace its origins back to 2018 when they originally started working on a series of songs, which would eventually comprise their full-length debut, slated for release later this year. The duo finished the album this year, recording most of the album’s material themselves in their respective home studios, adding producer Luke Vander Pol for two tracks from his home studio in Burbank.
“Clap Clap” is the duo’s first single — and a bit of a taste of what we should expect from the forthcoming album. Prominently featuring Dickie’s Odelay-era Beck-like delivery, the song is centered around an atmospheric and buzzing soundscape that includes twinkling synths, looping guitars and boom bap-like drumming. What makes the song interesting to me is that it manages to simultaneously be trippy and upbeat. “Musically, James and I created this tension in the song’s verses and pre-chorus with the release coming in the chorus…’There’s a way through the trap but we can never go back’…Only by letting go (‘going through the trap’) can we move on.”
Clap Clap” was created specifically by Noah and James to curate a shifting, sonic world of metaphysics and magic that becomes increasingly urgent as it goes along. The lyrics start with a question and ignite a rhythmic journey for the listener. The two hope that the song will break through peoples’ insular cocoons to ultimately bring everyone closer together. Even though many people are still separated and at home in quarantine, they can all connect through music. The Tell strategically used the Zen sound of one hand clap-clapping throughout the new song to evoke music’s power to heal and transport audiences to new places. Noah shares, “It’s hard to describe…but after writing ‘Clap Clap’, especially lyrically, it felt like such a release. Something being let go of… There’s this feel like the song is in full-blown chaos…a darkness…pandemic, George Floyd, a rioting country, political and social upheaval. Describing these things, not in a generic way, but with a personal story to coincide with this underlying buzz of turmoil.
Chiara Foschiani is a Paris-born-and-based singer/songwriter and pianist. Although she’s just 17, the Paris-born artist can trace the origins of her music career to learning the piano when she turned eight. Foschiani started signing when she was 13, joining local bands and performing on small stages and local music festivals before she started writing her own original material.
Her first two singles “Queen of Disaster” and the cinematic, Dummy-era Portishead-like “My Glass of Wine” amassed 45,000 and 61,000 YouTube views in a week — and building upon a growing profile, Foschiani released her debut EP Trouble Maker earlier this month. “I wanted this first EP as a journey into the twists and turns of the subconscious,” the rising Paris-based singer/songwriter explains in press notes. “A sometimes painful journey that reminds us that all encounters are not always simple or healthy, but that there is always hope and that all experiences build us and strengthen us.”ght
The EP’s third and latest single “God Damn” is a slickly produced track centered around skittering boom bap beats, twinkling and reverb-drenched synths, Foschiani’s clear and soulful vocals and a shout-along-worthy hook. Interestingly, unlike its two immediate predecessors, “God Damn” may be the most straight forward, summery pop confections she has written to date. But at it’s core, the song is fueled by earnest songwriting seemingly born from lived-in experience.
Deriving their name from one of Can‘s best known songs, the rising Montreal-based act Yoo Doo Right — Justin Cober (guitar, synths, vocals), Charles Masson (bass) and John Talbot (drums, percussion) — have developed an improvisational-based sound and approach that features elements of krautrock, shoegaze, post-rock and psych rock that the band describes as “a car crash in slow motion.”
Since their formation, the members of the Montreal-based band have quickly become a highly demanded live act that has toured crossed their native Canada and the States while making stops across the North American festival circuit with stops at Levitation, M for Montreal, Sled Island and Pop Montreal. Back in 2018, You Doo Right was the main support act during Acid Mothers Temple‘s North American tour — and as a result, they’ve shared stages with the likes of DIIV, A Place to Bury Strangers, Wooden Shjips, Kikagkiu Moyo, FACS, Frigs, and Jessica Moss and several others.
The act’s full-length debut Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose is slated for a May 21, 2021 release through Mothland. Last month, the members of the Montreal-based act released the album’s first single, album title track “Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose,” an expansive, slow-burning and carefully sculptured soundscape divided into three distinct parts: a lengthy introduction with atmospheric synths, tribal drumming and shimmering guitars; a towering middle section with scorching dirge-like power chords, twinkling keys and crashing cymbals; and a gentle fade out as the song’s coda. The song is an exercise in restraint, unresolved tension and delayed release.
Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose’s second and latest single “Presto, Presto, Bella’s Dream” is a layered song that finds the team weaving shimmering and angular guitar riffs, twinkling synths, propulsive drumming and bass lines into a relentless, repetitive and trippy motorik groove. The band’s Justin Cober says of the song “Driving, simple, straight forward repetition, built into a psychedelic haze with no apparent meaning. Like the day the clocks struck midnight on January 1st, 1970. The title is an ode to both the tempo and a good friend who indirectly influenced us, helped us write this song.”
Influenced by The Cure,Cocteau Twins and Joy Division and others, the rising Swiss-American shoegaze duo The Churchhill Garden — currently, founding member Andy Jossi (guitar) and Whimsical‘s Krissy Vanderwoude (vocals) — was originally founded as a solo recording project back in 2010 as a way for Jossi to plug into his emotions and to focus on writing music without any pressure.
As the story goes, a friend had showed Jossi how to use GarageBand, which he eventually used for some of his earliest recordings. The Swiss guitarist was determined to become a better guitarist and he learned from his mistakes, which helped his musicianship and songwriting flourish and grow. As he was growing as a musician and songwriter, Jossi discovered Logic, which led to an improved and lusher quality to his recordings.
Around the same time, Jossi began to notice that the songs he had begun to write were more expansive, and although largely inspired by Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, shoegaze, post punk and jangle pop, the material revealed his own take on the sounds he had long loved. The Swiss guitarist and songwriting posted his compositions on Myspace without expecting much in return but, he was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the positive response he received. And although Jossi enjoyed writing the material he had posted on MySpace, he felt that i was missing something vitally important — vocals.
Hoping to broaden his musical horizons, the Swiss guitarist and songwriter sought out a few local vocalists to collaborate with. His first collaboration was with The Reaction’s Max Burki, one of Jossi’s local musical heroes. Jossi went on to record two more tracks with Eva Tresch. Technological advances — i.e., home recording studios and programs, as well as file sharing — allowed Jossi to collaborate with vocalists outside of his native Switzerland. His first collaboration with a foreign vocalist, “Noisy Butterfly,” which featured Italian vocalist Damiano Rosetti helped expand The Churchhill Garden’s audience and fanbase outside of Switzerland.
Jossi followed “Noisy Butterfly” with more collaborations with international vocalists including Craig Douglas (USA), Alistair Douglas (AUS) and Hideka (Japan). Back in 2016, Jossi first crossed paths with Whimsical’s Krissy Vanderwoude. Vanderwoude commented on Jossi’s “Sleepless” on Facebook, letting him know that she loved his music, had been a big fan and was deeply moved by the emotionality of his work. Her message went on to say that she could “hear his heart” through his work and that his work resonated deeply with her.
As it turned out, Vanderwoude and Jossi had a mutual friend, Kev Cleary, who chimed in on the comment thread that the two should work on a song together. The duo were very excited about the idea but didn’t quite know what to expect. Jossi sent Vanderwoude files for a couple of different instrumental pieces he had written and recorded, and encouraged her to choose which one she wanted to work on. Interestingly, the Whimsical frontwoman gravitated to one of the tracks in particular and remembers being moved to tears when she first heard it. The end result became their first song together “The Same Sky.”
“The Same Sky” was released to an overwhelmingly positive response with people generally commenting that they felt a magical chemistry between the two — and after a couple of songs together, they both realized that Vanderwoude should be a permanent and full-time member of The Churchhill Garden. Of course, while Vanderwoude is a permanent fixture in The Churchhill Garden universe, Jossi has continued collaborated with other vocalists, including Seashine’s Demi Haynes and Fables‘ and Swirl’s Ben Aylward.
Churchhill Gardens songs were coming together quickly with a new single being released every few months. With every new release, they found their fanbase steadily growing. And although, they were releasing material through Bandcamp and other DSPs, a growing number of people expressed interest in owning a physical copy of the songs — and they started asking if there would ever be an actual Churchhill Garden album.
Last year, the Swiss-American duo released their full-length debut, a double LP album Heart and Soul. Since the release of Heart and Soul, the duo have been working on and releasing new material including “Fade Away,” which was released earlier this year. Centered around layers of reverb-drenched, shimmering guitars, Vanderwoude’s plaintive and ethereal vocals and soaring hooks “Fade Away” to my ears at least, reminds me quite a bit of Souvlaki-era Slowdive, So Tonight That I May See-era Mazzy Star, compete with a similar aching yearning at its core.
Clocking in at a little over seven minutes, the Swiss-American collaboration’s latest single “Lonely” is a slow-burning and aching track, featuring shimmering and reverb soaked guitars paired with a soaring hook and Vanderwoude’s ethereal vocals. And while sonically continuing on in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor with the song bringing the likes of Slowdive, Mazzy Star and even Cocteau Twins to mind, the song as the duo’s Krissy Vanderwoude explains is “lyrically a bit of a heartbreaker for anyone who knows what it feels like to have loved and lost.”