Category: New Audio

Cousin Kula is a rising Bristol, UK-based sextet, featuring highly active members of their hometown’s progressive jazz scene. Bonding over a shared love of an eclectic range of music that includes pop, psych, prog, disco and Afrobeat, the members of Cousin Kula quickly found themselves living together. And with a rehearsal room in their basement, the band honed a sound and approach that meshed their varied influences and passions, eventually becoming one of their hometown’s hottest bands.

Slated for a November 18, 2019 release through Chiverin Records, the Bristol-based sextet’s forthcoming sophomore effort Stroodles EP follows their opening spot for Japanese rippers Bo Ningen and the announcement of a headlining UK tour to support the new EP in November. The EPs first single “Invitation” is reportedly a slight departure for the members of Cousin Kula, as the song is a shimmering bit of 80s-inspired synth funk and soul that nods at the periods titans — i.e.,  Cherelle, Mtume and others, as well as contemporaries like Tuxedo but with a jazzy edge.

 

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Over the past 18 months or so, the rapidly rising, enigmatic and mysterious Brighton, UK-based indie artist Nancy has received attention across the blogosphere from the likes of StereogumNME and DIY and airplay on BBC Radio 1 from personalities like Annie Mac, Huw Stephens and Jack Saunders and BBC Radio 6 personalities Iggy Pop, Lauren Laverne and Steve Lamacq.

Earlier this year, the rising Brighton-based artist re-emerged with the release of attention-grabbing single “When I’m With You (I Feel Love).” Building upon a growing profile in his native England, Nancy’s latest single is a the scuzzy power chord stomper “Clic Clac.” Clocking in at 107 seconds and centered around distorted power chords, rapid fire drumming, distorted vocals and a mosh pit friendly hook, the track finds Nancy seemingly drawing from ’77 era punk and glam rock simultaneously. “‘Clic Clac’ is an ode to anxiety, it is much quicker and shorter than anything I’ve written, it’s a head-rush,” the rising Brighton-based artist explains in press notes. “The soundtrack to my ‘quarter life crisis’…or maybe I should just call it a crisis at this point. You’re going to need to strap seatbelts to your ears, cause I’m about to take them for the ride of their life”.

 

 

 

New Audio: Internationally Acclaimed Omar Souleyman Returns with a Swooning, Club Banger

Omar Souleyman is a Tell Tamer, Syria-born, Istanbul, Turkey-based Sunni Arab vocalist, whose music career started in earnest back in 1994 when he was a part-time wedding singer. His overall sound has largely been influenced by  the incredibly diverse milieu of Northeastern Syria — and as a result, Souleyman and a rotating cast of musicians and producers he has worked with since his early days have found a way to draw from and mesh the sounds and themes of the Kurdish, the Ashuris, the Turks, the Iraqis and the larger Arabic world in a way that’s familiar and novel. In fact, Souleyman is considered the region’s pioneer of dance music/wedding music. 

Amazingly Souleyman has managed to be wildly prolific, releasing well over 500 stdio and live albums with about 80% of those releases made at weddings. Those recordings are first presented to the newlywed couple and then copied and sold at local kiosks. Over the better part of the last decade, Souleyman has released four compilations 2006’s Highway to Hassake, 2009’s Dabke 2020, 2010’s Jazeera Nights, 2011’s Haflat Gharbia: The Western Concerts and 2011’s Leh Jani and three full-length albums to the West, 2013’s incredible Wenu Wenu, 2015’s Bahdeni Nami and 2017’s To Syria, with Love –and all of those efforts have brought the sounds and grooves of the Middle East to the West, while expanding the Tell Tamer-born, Istanbul-based vocalist’s profile internationally. Adding to a rapidly rising international profile, Souleyman has played sets at some of the world’s biggest festivals, including Paredes de Coura, a Caribou co-curated ATP Festival, ATP Nightmare Before Christmas, Bonnaroo, Roskilde Festival, Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival, Pukkelpop Festival, Electric Picnic,  Treefort Music Festival — and oddly enough, one of the strangest House of Vans bills I’ve ever seen, in which he opened for Future Islands. And before I forget, he’s also collaborated with Bjork, contributing vocals for three remixes, which appear on an Biophilia.

Dericing its title for the Arabic word “how” or more literally “which color,” Shlon, which is slated for a November 22, 2019 release through Mad Decent/Because Music is the first batch of new material from Souleyman in a couple of years. The forthcoming album features double keyboard work from Hasan Alo, a fellow native of the Hasaka region of Northeastern Syria, who has recently been active in Dubai’s vibrant nightlife scene, a well as saz work from Azad Salih, a fellow Syrian, who currently resides in Mardin, Turkey. The album also finds the Tell Tamer-born, Istanbul-based vocalist continuing his longtime collaboration with Syrian-born, Turkish-based lyricst Moussa Al Mardood, who the wrote most of the album’s lyrics spontaneously during the recording sessions. 

Unsurprisingly, his fourth album is vintage Omar Souleyman — 6 songs which mesh the dabke and baladi music of music beloved by the Lebanese, Jordanians, Syrians, the Kurdish and Iraqis with thumping, synth-led techno — but at its core, the material is comprised of swooning tales of devotion, adoration and love. “Layle,” Shlon’s propulsive, club banging first single is centered around Alo’s dexterous and arpeggiated synth work, layers of tweeter and woofer rocking polyrhythmic percussion and Souleyman’s imitable vocals. And while the track instantly reminds me of the sounds of my home borough — particularly Astoria and Jackson Heights — the song is centered around some gorgeous poetry,. describing a woman’s lips as sweet as the dates of Hillah, making the song a slick synthesis of the classic and the modern. 

Johanna Cranitch is an Australian-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer and the creative mastermind behind the electro pop project White Prism. Cranitch grew up in a deeply musical home, where she was immersed in music for most, if not all of her life. Her father was a priest-in-training, who used to sing Gregorian chants around the house — and as the story goes, when Cranitch was a small child, her Hungarian-born father, a jazz pianist. gave her his blessing by openly declaring that “this one will be musical.”

Her parents encouraged her to go to the Kodaly School of Music, where she was classically trained as a vocalist and as a musician. When she was nine, Cranitch performed at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Opera Australia Children’s Chorus. But like most young people, she had a love of pop music – especially Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac, New Order, and others.  After graduating from high school, Cranitch went on to attend the Australian Institute of Music, where she studied jazz vocals and graduating with honors.

After a stint performing in her native Australia, Cranitch relocated to New York, where she cut her teeth as an assistant recording engineer, writing and recording several hundred demos before joining The Cranberries and The CardigansNina Persson as a touring background vocalist and keyboardist. Many of those demos that she wrote and recorded during her stint as a recording engineer, wound up appearing the debut effort of her first solo recording project, Johanna and the Dusty Floor. While as a member of The Cranberries’ touring band, Cranitch spent a lot of her off-time in Iceland, which helped influenced her latest project White Prism, a project that she saw as much-needed reboot.

Several years have passed since I’ve personally written about Cranitch and as it turns out, the Aussie-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer relocated to Los Angeles. where she’s been primarily been working as a producer. Recently, she finally has had the time to release the music she has been working on over the past couple of years — material that continues to be heavily influenced by the aforementioned Kate Bush, Phil Collins, Cocteau Twins and Joni Mitchell among others. And while being e decidedly synth-based, her work is centered around lyrics that frequently tell stories of love and loss, triumph and failure. 

“Good Man,” is the first new batch of White Prism material in several years. Centered around a sleek and modern production featuring shimmering and arpeggiated bursts of synth, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, martial-styled drumming, Cranitch’s plaintive vocals and an infectious hook, the song manages to be carefully crafted yet rooted in the sort of vulnerability and earnestness  that comes from lived-in experience. Interestingly, “Good Man” is the first single Cranitch every really produced — and came about as a necessity: she didn’t have the budget to hire a producer, so she set about learning how to record and make sounds on her own computer. She then enlisted the assistance of producer and composer Matt Wigton to bring the material home.

“’Good Man’is about fighting for love, for what you believe in and ultimately being on the right side of history,” the Aussie-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer explains in press notes. “I wrote ‘Good Man’ after a difficult period with my then-husband. I was reflecting on our differences and right when I was writing the lyrics, the news came on that Trump had started to attack the health care bill in the courts effectively taking away transgender rights to the health care act. It felt like a very ominous sign of things to come. We were all recovering from the election still and this felt like such an assault on freedom in America.” 

New Audio: Electronic Music Pioneer Patrick Cowley’s Posthumously Released, Early Experimental and Psychedelic-Tinged Electronica

Born in Buffalo, NY, the highly influential and forward-thinking electronic music producer and artist Patrick Cowley relocated to San Francisco in 1971 to study electronic music at the City College of San Francisco. By the late 70s, Cowley’s synthesizer and production techniques landed him a gig writing and producing songs for legendary, gender-bending disco superstar Sylvester, including the sultry and propulsive, smash hit “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” 

Around the same time, Cowley managed to create his own brand of party music, known as Hi-NRG, which was also dubbed “The San Francisco Sound” and by 1981, he had released a string of 12″ singles as a solo artist, including “Menergy” and “Megatron Man.” Interestingly, 1981 was an incredibly busy year for the legendary electronic music producer and artist: he co-founded Megatone Records, which released his debut album Megatron Man. 

During that same year, Cowley as hospitalized and diagnosed with an unknown illness. which would later become known as AIDS. Recovering for a brief spell he went on to produce Sylvester’s smash hit “Do You Want to Funk” and Paul Parker’s “Right on Target,” as well as his sophomore album Mind Warp. Tragically. Cowley died two weeks after his 32nd birthday from an AIDS-related illness.  Since his death, Patrick Cowley has become one of electronic music’s most influential and forward-thinking artists and producers.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, his previously released work has seen posthumous re-issues, including a re-issue of Mind Warp a few years ago. 

With growing attention on the late electronic music pioneer’s work, a collection of previously unreleased material written between 1973-1980 was recently discovered. Dubbed Mechanical Fantasy Box, the 13 previous unreleased songs will be released in tandem with Cowley’s homoerotic journal of the same name, and the compilation is a collection of Cowley’s work from the years preceding his meteoric rise as a pioneer of Hi-NRG dance music. Interestingly, these songs were written and recorded  before drum machines and programmable, polyphonic digital synthesis with the material being highly experimental. Sonically, the material flows from funk to kraut to psychedelic, ambient electronics inspired by Tomita and Kraftwerk. 

Some songs were mixed from 4-track stems by Joe Tarantino and all of the compilation’s 13 songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA. The vinyl edition comes housed in a black and white gatefold jacket Gwenaël Rattke featuring a photograph by Susan Middleton, liner notes by bandmate Maurice Tani and an 8.5×11 insert with notes. But more important, proceeds from the compilation will be donated to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has been committed to ending the pandemic and human suffering caused by HIV sine 1982. 

Clocking in at just a smidge under 11:30, Mechanical Fantasy Box’s first single “Lumberjacks in Heat” manages to be a trippy synthesis of John Carpenter soundtracks krautrock-inspired prog rock and psychedelia as the composition is centered by layers of shimmering and fluttering bursts of synths and some propulsive and forceful drumming.   Interestingly, much like Kraftwerk’s legendary and influential work, this previously unreleased single manages to simultaneously be of its time and remarkably contemporary — as though it could have been part of the retro-futuristic wave. 

Over the past decade the Toronto-based indie rock act Wildlife, currently comprised of Dean Povinsky, Derek Bosomworth, Dwayne Christie, Chris Dawe and Nick Greaves have released three albums — 2010’s Strike Hard, Young Diamond, 2013’s On the Heart and 2016’s The Age of Reason — which, firmly established their sound — anthemic, power pop-tinged indie rock that has drawn comparisons to Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire and others.

Building upon a growing profile both in their native Canada and elsewhere, the Toronto-based act’s fourth album Take The Light With You was released last Friday, and the album, which was recorded over a three week session with Dave Schiffman with a additional work at Threshold Studio with Mike Keire finds the band crafting some of their most concise and forceful material to date. Now, as you may recall, I wrote about  “No Control,” a hook-driven anthemic track that the listener can imagine sweaty fans shouting along to at their local music venue. “Follower (Lala),” Take The Light With You‘s latest track is a shimmering and decidedly New Wave-inspired track that recalls The Cars and even The World’s Best American Band-era White Reaper — and while continuing a run of incredibly hook-driven anthems, the song is a sweet love song about being someone’s champion and them being yours; what it feels like to know someone has your back and always wanting them to know they can also rely on you. 

 

 

New Audio: Permanent Records and RidingEasy Records Release a Scorching Single off “Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip”

Brown Acid, Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records‘ collaboration on their ongoing series of proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations from the 60s and 70s have become a regularly occurring biannual feature throughout this site’s nine-plus year history. Each individual edition of the series is based around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down songs’ creators, most often bands that haven’t written, played or recored together in 30 or 40 years, and then encouraging them to take part in the compilation process. As Permanent Records’ Barresi has explained in press notes for each of previous editions of the compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been hits given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.”

Having the original artists participate as much as possible in the compilation can give the artists and their songs, a real second chance at the attention and success that they missed so long ago. Plus, these songs can help fill in the gaps within the larger picture of what was going on in and around regional and national underground music scenes during the 60s and 70s. Continuing upon the critical and commercial success of its first eight editions of the Brown Acid compilation, RidingEasy Records and Permanent will be releasing Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip on Halloween. And much like the preceding eight editions, the ninth edition finds Barressi and Hall digging even deeper into the well of obscure material written, recorded and released during the 60s and 70s.

Now, as you may recall I’ve previously written about two of the ninth edition’s previously released singles:  Fiberglass Vegetables’ funky blues-tinged, psych rock strut “Pain,” a track that nodded at Steppenwolf, The Animals, The 13th Floor Elevators and others — and Erik’s “Rebel Woman,” a trippy synthesis of 60s psych rock, 70s blues rock and metal that managed to sound both of its time and remarkably contemporary.  The ninth edition’s third and latest single ICE’s swaggering “Running High” manages to subtly recall Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” with a Cream-era Eric Clapton guitar solo, explosive blasts of organ chords and an enormous, hook. And interestingly enough, it may arguably be the funkiest single off Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip. 

New Audio: Psychic Twin Releases an Intimate Yet Dance Floor Friendly Single

Erin Fein is a Urbana-Champaign, IL-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, producer and electro pop artist. Inspired by Kate Bush, Annie Lennox and Grace Jones, Fein began writing and recording lush, synth-based solo material earlier this decade under the moniker Psychic Twin. As the story goes, Fein found that she was channeling energy that led her to believe that she was spiritually collaborating with her “other self,” a non-existent twin.

After the release of her debut single, 2012’s “Gonna Get Her,” Fein relocated to Brooklyn, where she released her second single “Strangers” and her full-length debut, 2016’s Strange Diary. Since the release of Strange Diary, Fein has relocated to Los Angeles, where she joined Empress Of’s touring band — and has been working on her long-awaited sophomore album, which is slated for release in 2020. In the meantime, “Water Meets Land” is the first bit of new, Psychic Twin material from Fein in three years, and the track is  shimmering and propulsive track that balances emotional intimacy with a slick, dance floor friendly production centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and Fein’s plaintive vocals. And while recalling Madonna, Stevie Nicks and Little Boots among others, the song comes from a deeply lived-in place, as it’s about struggle, acceptance and survival. 

“I have been through some very difficult experiences in the last 6 years of my life and I honestly didn’t know if I could survive,” Fein explains in press notes. “And to accompany it all, I experienced anxiety so debilitating that I considered suicide. For many years I was steadily falling apart. And then things began to change — because I began to change — because I chose to get help. I learned how to stand on my own, to trust my own resources and to look directly into the darkest and most painful experiences in my life and confront them.” 

Fein adds, “I want to share with anyone out there reading this that, if you are lost, you can learn to find your way again. If you’re willing to get help when you need it, you can learn to love and forgive yourself, without anyone else’s affirmation but your own. You can take the dagger out of your own heart and you can find the resources inside of yourself to do it. It is a life’s work, but it is possible.

“Lastly, I would like to dedicate this song to Trish Nelson, Natalie Saibel , Jamie Seet, Carla Rza Betts, Jessa Blades, Christina Lecki, and Kate Horne. To ‘The Team’ — All of you helped me to confront one of the most hidden places of pain in my life, you are survivors and you are champions, and I will always be grateful to all of you  .  .  .” 

Choosing the band name Vargas & Lagola because they thought the names sounded like characters in a Quentin Tarantino movie, the Swedish songwriting, production and pop artist act comprised of Swedish Grammy-winning duo Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare features two of their homeland’s most accomplished contemporary songwriters and producers: the pair have had successful solo careers before teaming up to write hits for a who’s who list of electro pop and pop that includes Madonna, Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, Katy Perry, Ghost, and Sia.

Founded back in 2017, the duo’s collaboration is a decided change in sonic direction from their previous output as the project finds the Swedish songwriters and producers experimenting with their own unique take on melodic alt-pop, which meshes elements of 70s Americana and Nordic melancholia. Coincidentally, as they started their own attention-grabbing project, the duo received accolades for co-writing Avicii’s “Without You” and “Waiting for Love,” which led to a Swedish Grammy Award win for Composer of the Year. Adding to a growing profile across the international electro pop scene, Al Fakir and Pontare performed their co-written hit “More Than You Know” with Axwell /\ Ingrosso at Coachella — and they played a key role in finishing Avicci’s posthumously released album  TIM, which they contributed on three of the album’s songs.

The duo’s latest single “Forgot To Be Your Lover” is a carefully crafted pop song that finds the duo balancing an easy-going AM rock meets yacht rock breeziness with an achingly melancholic nostalgia. Sonically, the track is centered around atmospheric synths and lush layers of shimmering and twangy, country-styled guitar lines — and in some way, the track reminds me of Danish JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, complete with an soaring and infectious hook.

“It’s a story of neglected love, as well as reflection of what love really means if one person drags the other one down in the gutter,” the duo explain in press notes. “We wrote it while searching for a melancholic piece in Vargas & Lagola’s musical puzzle. With it, we created our own space to experiment with and express what’s on our minds.”