Featuring current and former members of acts like The Death Notes, In Isolation, Gossamer Veil, Dick Venom & the Terrortones, The Midnight Circus, Every New Dead Ghost, Arcane Winter and Tenpole Tudor, the Nottingham, UK-based post-punk act Hurtsfall — founding members Mike Sinclair (bass), Jamie Laws (keys) and Dave Perkins (drums), along with Sam Harrison-Emm (vocals) — can trace its origins back to 2017, when its founding members started a new band. The emerging British act solidified their lineup when they found Harrison-Emm after a lengthy and exhaustive audition process in 2018.
Since the band has solidified their lineup, the members of Hurtsfall have established their own sound, which pairs goth overtones with synth pop sensibilities while developing a following centered around an energetic live show. So far, the le Nottingham-based band has opened for Strange Circuits, one of the first acts to sign with Wax Trax! Records — and building upon a growing profile, the band’s recently released their latest single “12 Long Years.” Centered around angular and propulsive bass chords, forceful yet mathematically precise drumming, shimmering and atmospheric synth flourishes and Harrison-Emm’s Ian Curtis-like baritone, “12 Long Years” will immediately recalls Joy Division, as well as more contemporary acts like ACTORS and others — and while murky and brooding, the track manages to be dance floor friendly.
Earlier this month, I wrote about JackLNDN, a rapidly rising London-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he was a boy: he grew up in a hone in which his family almost exclusively to jazz, funk and classical music in equal measure. When he was 7, he sang in professional choirs — and by the time, he was 10, he had met Queen Elizabeth and recorded material at Abbey Road Studios.
With the release of attention grabbing tracks like “The Feels,” “Never Get Enough,” “Start Over Again” and “All I See,” the British electronic music artist and producer established a unique sound and approach in electronic music/deep house: he contributes his own vocals to his productions, which are frequently indebted to jazz and house music. Building upon a growing profile in electronic music circles, the British artist and producer released his full-length debut Thoughts last year.
Now, as you may recall, since the release of his full-length debut, JackLNDN enlisted two of his favorite electronic music artists and producers — Fluida and Frameworks — to remix two of Thoughts songs. Fluida’s euphoric, drum ‘n’ bass-leaning remix of “With You” was centered around propulsive tribal beats while retaining the shimmering synth arpeggios, gorgeous melody and sinuous hook. Thoughts track “Unknown” was centered around shimming and arpeggiated keys, thumping polyrhythm, a trippy vocal melody and a crowd pleasing populist vibe. Interestingly, Frameworks’ remix of “Unknown” features layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, chiming percussion — and while retaining familiar elements of the original, it gives the song a mediative, world music feel.
Sotomayor is a rapidly rising Mexico City, Mexico-based sibling electro pop duo featuring arguably two of their hometown’s most accomplished musicians: Paulina Sotomayor (vocals), best known for her work as a drummer in local rock/folk act Jefes del Desierto, and Raul Sotomayor (production), best known for his work as one-half of award-winning jazz/funk duo Beat Buffet and for creating DayOff, a Sunday afternoon party that presents global bass acts rom around the world. Paullina Sotomayor and Raul Sotomayor founded Sotomayor back in 2015. And although it’s their first project together, the act which has released two album’s — 2015’s Salvaje and 2017’s Conquistador — has received attention from Vice, MTV and KEXP for a sound that meshes elements of cumbia, Afrobeat, dancehall, Peruvian chicha and merengue with modern electronic production and rock ‘n’ roll-like urgency. Adding to a growing profile, the act has toured across the UK, the States and Colombia.
Recorded in studios in Puerto Rico and Mexico, the duo’s soon-to-be released Eduardo Cabra-produced, third full-lengh album Origenes is slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Wonderwheel Recordings. Reportedly, the rapidly rising Mexico City-based act’s third album finds them continuing to draw their sound and aesthetic from the sounds of Latin America’s clubs and streets. Possessing a strong sense of tradition, the material further cements the sibling duo’s reputation for an unerring knack for melody paired with a rock ‘n’ roll-influenced urgency — but unlike their previously released albums, Origenes finds the Sotomayors exploring and adding Afro Caribbean percussion to the mix.
“Meneate pa’ mi,” Origenes’ second and latest single is a decidedly upbeat, track centered around Raul Sotomayor’s thumping, club thumping production featuring a chopped and looped horn sample and tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with Paulina Sotomayor’s self-assured half-sung, half rapped vocals. Much like JOVM mainstay El Dusty, the Mexico City-based duo’s newest single envisions a globalized, genre-free world, a world as the great George Clinton once sung that’s “one nation under a groove.”
(New York, NY) — The Mexican brother-sister duo Sotomayor are back with their second single from upcoming album “Orígenes” (February 14, 2020). “Menéate pa’ mí” sees the group heat things up a notch from their last single (“Quema”) with Paulina Sotomayor’s vocals somewhere in between rapping and singing over brother Raul’s uptempo beat of horn samples and a driving kick drum. Additional production work from Eduardo Cabra (aka Visitante of Calle 13 fame) solidifies the record in the Latin-meets-electronic style the group is known for. The new single is out now and is available everywhere you stream music.
Sotomayor is due to release their third album Orígenes through the NY based label Wonderwheel Recordings, on February 14th. On Orígenes, Sotomayor performs Latinx electronic music that is as bold, thrilling and alive as any street party, with a strong sense of roots or tradition. Yet it is also music that is defined by the duo’s qualities as songwriters, with a clear knack for melody and dynamics that add a sense of rock ‘n’ roll urgency.
They are aided on the album by co-producer Eduardo Cabra (“Visitante” of the much-missed Puerto Rican rebel rousers Calle 13), who has recently helped push Latin singer/songwriters like Jorge Drexler, iLe and Vincent Garcia into making ground-breaking fusions of Latin tradition and modern musical forms, and won two Latin Grammy Producer of the Year awards in the process. The trick appears to have been rung once more. Sotomayor are creating their own unique musical universe, fuelled by the sounds of Latin America’s clubs and streets, with a level of songcraft and production know-how that only seems to keep on growing.
The forthcoming album was recorded between Mexico and Puerto Rico, and was produced by the 28 times Grammy Winner Eduardo Cabra aka “Visitante” from the legendary band “Calle 13”. In this production Sotomayor explores a new Afro Caribbean vision in the music, much more dance floor focused, and highly influenced by percussion.
So far the new album Orígenes, has received accolades from FADER and The New York Times with their lead single “Quema,” out now. “Quema” lets you know what it is straight-away: the “chuck-chucka-chuck” rhythm of the scraper (guira), the rising bass line, the keyboard that appears to be sending out an alarm signal. This is clearly cumbia, but it isn’t recognisable for long. A pounding bass line takes over, a beat is set and then Paulina Sotomayor’s voice enters, guiding the track. At first she is slow, assured, but then the chorus hits and there’s a release, a soulful higher-pitched melody as new synth lines bubble below. Elements of that original cumbia beat return in new ways, adding urgency, rhythm and detail, as the song continues to reinvent itself and play with ideas of what global bass and cumbia should sound like, all the while giving full focus to the song itself, to telling its story.
The cherry on top is the guest appearance of Totin “Arará” Agosto, one of Puerto Rico’s most loved singers and composers, and a man pivotal in putting Puerto Rican bomba back on the map. He adds joyful second vocals, seemingly losing himself in the music. His presence is a reminder that the musica callejera (street music) he plays does not have to be so different to club music. This is music to dance to, to revel, to telegraph delight.
Sotomayor are the brother/sister duo of Raul and Paulina Sotomayor. They formed in 2015 after years of activity in Mexico City’s emerging indie scene, playing in bands such as Jefes del Desierto and Beat Buffet. Orígenes is their third album following Salvaje (2015) and Conquistador (2017).
“Sotomayor’s bold take on Latinx electronic music mixes up innovations in the genre with traditional cumbia rhythms, creating something familiar yet refreshing.” – Fader
“n “Quema,” Sotomayor — the duo of Mexican siblings Raul and Paulina Sotomayor — gestures briefly toward traditional percussion, then rolls in 1980s-flavored synthesizers, with a drum machine, a fuzzy bass line and bubbly arpeggios.” – New York Times
” Origenes due out early 2020, will be co-produced by two time Latin Grammy Producer of the Year winner, Eduardo Cabra (aka Visitante of the Puerto Rican giant, Calle 13). That alone places this release into the upper echelon of the Latin music stratosphere. And, quite merited, from what is heard on their first single.” – KCRW
Ben Williams is an acclaimed Washington DC-born and-based singer/songwriter, bassist, composer, bandleader and highly sought-after collaborator. Williams graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Michigan State University and The Juilliard School, winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition(now known as the Herbie Hancock International Jazz Competition) back in 2009 and a Grammy Award as a member of Pat Metheny‘s Unity Band. He has collaborated with an impressive and remarkably diverse array of artists including Wynton Marsalis, George Benson, Maxwell, Robert Glasper, Pharrell and a long list of others. (He also appeared in Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead.)
As a bandleader and composer, Williams has released two albums through renowned jazz label Concord Records — 2011’s State of Art and 2015’s Coming of Age. Slated for a February 7, 2020 release through Jose James‘, Talia Billig‘s and Brian Bender’s Rainbow Blonde Records, Williams third album I AM A MAN references Memphis‘ historic 1968 sanitation workers’ strike, during which African American men marched through the streets with picket signs that read “I Am A Man” in a boldface type. “The image of this long line of men, holding the picket signs, all saying the same thing — there’s something powerful about seeing this message over and over again,” Williams explains, before saying that the messaging reminded him of how we use hashtags today to help ignite and inspire activism today, such as the Black Lives Matter and MeToo movements. But there’s multiple subtle meanings to the album’s title: as Williams said during his performance at the Rainbow Blonde Records NYC Winter Jazz Fest last week the album wasn’t a typical protest album; that it was thematically an exploration of the black male psyche.
Sonically, the album reportedly meshes past, present and future, as it seemingly draws from The Roots, Erykah Badu, Bilal, D’Angelo, Common, Roy Hargrove‘s RH Factor as well as Marvin Gaye‘s What’s Going On, Curtis Mayfield and others.
Williams plays both double bass and electric bass throughout the album’s material, singing lead vocals on almost every single song on the album. He’s joined by an accomplished backing band of collaborators that includes Kris Bowers (keys), David Rosenthal (guitar), Marcus Strickland (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Bendji Allonce (percussion), Keyon Harrold (trumpet), Anne Drummond (flute), Jamire Williams (drums) and Justin Brown (drums). The album also features a handful of songs with string arrangements performed by a string quartet — Justina Sullivan (cello), Celia Hatton (viola), Maria Im (violin) and Chiara Fasi (violin), and vocals from Kendra Foster, Muhsimah, Wes Felton and Niles.
The album’s first single is the cinematic “If You Hear Me.” Centered around an spacious and cinematic arrangement featuring a shimmering and soaring string arrangement, African polyrhythm, Williams’ plaintive and soulful vocals, the track manages brings to Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Landing on a Hundred-era Cody Chesnutt to mind. The album’s second single, fittingly released today is an atmospheric rendition of the civil rights-era classic “We Shall Overcome” that places the song’s timeless struggle and hope for a far better, more just world into a contemporary context: reminding the listener that the struggle of MLK, Malcolm X, The Black Panthers and others, is the same struggle as Black Lives Matter and other movements.
Williams will be embarking on a handful of live dates that includes a February 8, 2020 album release show at Nublu 151. Check out the live dates below.
2/8: New York, NY @ Nublu 151 (Album Release Show)
3/19: Washington, DC @ City Winery
Formed back in the mid 80s, the Paisley, Scotland, UK-based alt rock/indie rock act Close Lobsters — Andrew Burnett, Bob Burnett, Tom Donnelly, and Stewart McFayden — first came to prominence with “Firestation Towers,” a track that appeared on NME‘s C86 compilation.
Shortly, after the release of that compilation, the Scottish alt rock quartet signed to Fire Records, who released their debut single “Going To Heaven To See If It Rains” in October 1986. Their second single “Never Seen Before” was released in April 1987 and the single managed to further cement their reputation as one of the region’s leading emerging indie bands at that time. Building upon a growing profile, the band went on to release two albums: 1987’s Foxheads Stalk This Land, which was released to praise from Rolling Stone, who wrote that the album was “first-rate guitar pop from a top-shelf band. Close Lobsters could have been just another jangle group, but they have a lot more going for them than just chiming Rickenbackers” — and 1989’s Headache Rhetoric.
By 1989, the band’s popularity on US college radio led to an appearance at that year’s New Music Seminar and an extensive Stateside tour. After successful tours across the UK, Germany, the States and Canada, the band went on an extended hiatus. Fire Records released the Forever, Until Victory! singles retrospective in October 2009. Interestingly, the retrospective’s title is derived from the reputed last sign-off in a letter Ernesto “Che” Guevara wrote to Fidel Castro, “¡Hasta la victoria siempre!”
After a 23-year hiatus, the members of the Scottish indie rock act reunited to play 2012’s Madrid Popfest, Glasgow Popfest and Popfest Berlin, which they followed up with 2013’s NYC Popfest. May 2014 saw the band playing Copenhagen Popfest, and the release of the first batch of new recorded material from the band in 25 years, that year’s Kunstwerk in Spacetime EP. The EP’s lead single “Now Time” received quite a bit of attention. They released another single in 2015 before going back on hiatus.
Slated for a February 28, 2020 release through Last Night From Glasgow and Shelflife Records in the States, the john Rivers-produced Post Neo Anti is the first full-length album from the Scottish indie rock band in 31 years. Recorded between 2014 and 2019, Close Lobsters’ forthcoming album finds the band collaborating with the producer of their 1986 debut — and in some way, the album reportedly is a long-awaited return to form. “All Compasses Go Wild,” Post Neo Anti‘s first single is an anthemic bit of guitar-driven jangle pop that immediately brings Starfish-era The Church and The Smithereens to mind.
With the release of their debut EP last year’s I Used to Love You, Now I Don’t, the rapidly rising Brighton-based dream pop act Hanya — Heather Sheret (vocal, guitar), Benjamin Varnes (guitar), Dylan Fanger (bass) and Jack Watkins (drums) — received attention nationally for a sound that meshes 90s dream pop and shoegaze. Building upon a growing profile in England, the Brighton, UK-based dream pop act has opened for Honeyblood, Lazy Day and Tess Parks.
2020 looks to be a breakthrough year for Hanya: they’ll be making their Stateside debut at the 2nd Annal New Colossus Festival in March. But they begin the year with their latest single, “I’ll Do It Tomorrow.” Centered around shimmering guitar chords, Sheret’s gorgeous and achingly plaintive vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook, the track further establishes the dreamy Brit Pop-like sound that has won them attention nationally while subtly nodding at 70s AM rock. In fact, in some way the song reminds me of The Sundays, Travis and others.
“I’ll Do It Tomorrow” was the result of realising that rarely does anyone take the advice we ask for, we love to procrastinate and wait until things change around us, it’s the magic of the human psyche,” the members of the band explain in press notes. “The song is pretty much advice to an old friend…be every version of yourself, let go, do it now, don’t wait until tomorrow”.
The band has a handful of tour dates, including their Stateside debut at the New Colossus Festival. Check out the dates.
17th January – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton (Love Thy Neighbours ‘Triptych’ Series)
1st February – The Piper, Saint Leonards (w/ Penelope Isles)
11-15 March – New Colossus Festival, New York City
Throughout the course of this site’s nearly 10 year history — we turn 10 in June — I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Grammy Award-wining singer/songwriter, bassist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. Bruner has long been a Brainfeeder Records cornerstone, releasing critically applauded material including Golden Age of Apocalypse, 2013’s Apocalypse, 2015’s The Beyond/Where Giants Roam EP and 2017’s Drunk while also establishing himself as a highly sough-after collaborator, contributing to Kamasi Washington’s aptly titled 2015 effort, The Epic and to Kendrick Lamar‘s 2016 commercial and critical smash hit, the Grammy Award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. And in 2018, he teamed up with Flying Lotus to compose an original score for an episode of Donald Glover’s Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning TV series Atlanta.
Drunk, Bruner’s most recent album was conceived and written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and bassist, but importantly, the album represented a major career transition — from virtuoso bassist and collaborator, to globally recognized star while further cementing his reputation for arguably being one of the past decade’s most unique, genre-defying voices. Thundercat’s fourth full-length album, the Flying Lotus-produced It Is What It Is is slated for an April 3, 2020 release through Brainfeeder Records. Much like its immediate predecessor, the album features a who’s who list of collaborators and guest spots from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, The Internet‘s Steve Lacy, Slave‘s Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox among others.
“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says in press notes. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”
“Black Qualls,” It Is What It Is‘ first single finds Bruner teaming up with Slave’s Steve Arrington and The Internet’s Steve Lacy on a strutting and strolling pimp bop, centered around Bruner’s imitable and dexterous bass lines, four-on-the-floor drumming and a sinuous hook. And as result, the song manages to be a bit of classic Thundercat that finds the JOVM mainstay lovingly highlighting his influences in a mischievously anachronistic fashion: in some way, it sounds as though it could have been on Slave’s Just a Touch of Love and any of Thundercat’s albums simultaneously. But importantly, the song touches on something deeply personal and familiar to me — what it means and feels to be, as the great Nina Simone once sang “young, gifted and Black.” And as Bruner adds, “What it feels like to be in this position right now… the weird ins and outs, we’re talking about those feelings… Part of me knew this [track] was where Steve [Arrington] left us.”
The song emerged from writing sessions with Lacy, whom Thundercat describes as “the physical incarnate of Ohio Players in one person: he is genuinely one funky ass dude.”
The JOVM mainstay will be embarking on a lengthy international tour that includes a March 24, 2020 stop at Webster Hall. Check out the tour dates below.
2/28 Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theatre
2/29 Portland, OR – PDX Jazz Festival
3/02 Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo
3/03 Arcata, CA – Van Duzer Theatre
3/04 Chico, CA – Senator Theatre
3/06 Oakland, CA – Fox Theater
3/07 Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern
3/08 Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory North Park
3/10 Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren
3/12 Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
3/13 Omaha, NE – Slowdown
3/14 Minneapolis, MN – The Fillmore
3/15 Chicago, IL – Riviera Theatre
3/17 Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre
3/18 Toronto, ON – Queen Elizabeth Theatre
3/19 Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre
3/21 Boston, MA – House of Blues
3/22 Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore
3/24 New York, NY – Webster Hall
3/28 Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore Silver Spring
3/29 Knoxville, TN – Big Ears Festival
3/31 Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works
4/1 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
4/2 Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
4/9 London, UK – Roundhouse
4/11 Manchester, UK – Academy
4/14 Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso
4/15 Paris, FR – Elysée Montmartre
4/17 Berlin, DE – Astra
Last year, I wrote a bit about the Bangladeshi-born, New York-based electro pop producer, songwriter and artist Sajeeb Saha. Best known for his solo recording project Jai Wolf, Saha’s work is inspired by a diverse and eclectic array of music, including indie rock, punk rock, hip-hop, classic music and Bollywood while thematically, much of his work draws from his experiences growing up as an third culture child.
Saha’s Jai Wolf full-length debut The Cure to Loneliness was released last April through Mom + Pop Music, and as Saha said in press notes at the time, “In my heart, this album is me,” professes. From the sounds to the lyrics, it’s everything that I’ve always wanted to do.” I wrote about two of the album’s singles the M83-like “Your Way,” a collaboration with Day Wave that was a bitter lament from a lonely and disconnected narrator — and the swooning and cinematic instrumental “This Song Reminds Me Of You.”
The Bangladeshi-born New York-based electro pop producer, songwriter and artist starts off the new year with “Moon Rider,” the follow up to his full-length debut. Featuring a guest spot from Wrabel, who contributes his achingly plaintive vocals, “Moon Rider” is a shimmering and cinematic bit of synth pop that sonically recalls Geographer, the aforementioned M83 — and perhaps more than ever, 80s movie soundtracks, as the song posses a cinematic sweep.