Category: New Audio

Now, over the past few years, I’ve written a quite a bit about  JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned, Swedish singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, and as you may recall, his solo electro pop recording project  Summer Heart has received attention both here and across the blogosphere for a sound that at points has been compared to CaribouWashed OutIn Ghost Colours-era Cut CopyPainted Palms and others. Along with that, Alexander has long been  considered among the first wave of Sweden’s contemporary electro pop/dream pop/pop movement, which also includes MoonbabiesThe Land BelowHey ElbowBlind Lake and Emerald Park.

With his 12 Songs of Summer, Alexander adds his name to an increasing number of artists, who have adopted a single of the month series over the past couple of years, and as you can imagine doing so manages to make a helluva lot of sense creatively, financially, and marketing-wise in the blogosphere age. Creatively speaking, the artist isn’t constrained by having the pressure of writing material with a  cohesive style or theme in mind, as they would if they were writing for an EP or a full-length album; however, in order for the concept to work, they are required to come up with material within relatively strict and regularly occurring deadlines. Financially, independent artists, who may be struggling to find ways to fund their efforts to record and tour, can put out material quickly — and in the blogosphere age, it can ensure that the artist can receive some sort of attention over the course of year, outside of the album cycle. As Alexander explained in press notes, “The idea behind this project is to show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case when you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”

“I Got This Thing For You” is the latest single in Alexander’s 12 Songs of Summer project and the single meshes slickly produced thumping house music with arpeggiated synths and anthemic hooks, bursts of Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar and swooning dream pop. Interestingly, both lyrically and sonically, the track is the sort of track that manages to simultaneously be an early blast of summer while reminding the listener of the first, uncertain pangs of a summer fling. As Alexander says of the song ” It is a track that during a short period of time has changed a lot! It started as a small loop and the lyrics ‘I got this thing for you.’ I wasn’t sure where to take the track so I showed it to my friend Joakim Buddee, who asked if he could play around with it. I gave him a carte blanche, and he came back to me with a version of the track that we both really liked. Big ups to Joakim Buddee for all his work on this one!”

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Over the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based indie pop project (and latest personal obsession of mine) Oddnesse, and as you may recall, the project comprised of singer/songwriter Rebeca Arango and producer Grey Goon can trace its origins to when both members individually relocated from the East Coast to Los Angeles after being in several failed bands. As the story goes, Arango and Goon bonded over a shared vision of beautiful and infectious music with a dark, heavy groove, and initially the project began as two friends jamming and experimenting with ideas before they began to take it as a serious endeavor.

Last month, I wrote about “I Used To,” an atmospheric and meditative track that centered around an ethereal arrangement of twangy guitar, gently droning synths and Arango’s ethereal crooning and while clearly nodding at 80s New Wave with Concrete Blonde and Siouxsie and the Banshees immediately coming to my mind, there was a subtly alt-country vibe that adds to cinematic proceedings. “Trust” the duo’s latest single, much like its predecessors is centered around a tight, hypnotic groove, featuring one of the best bass lines I’ve heard in a rock song to date, atmospheric synths, a sinuous guitar line played through washes of reverb and delay pedal paired with Arango’s come hither vocals and a razor sharp hook. And while continuing a run of subtly ambitious and well-crafted material, the song may be among their most straightforward and infectious pop songs to date that focuses on the swooning and wildly uncertain pangs of love — with the tacit understanding that love can make us all do some strange and unpredictable things.

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brampton, ON-born, Toronto, ON-based DJ, violinist, singer/songwriter, sync pop artist and JOVM mainstay Maya Killtron, and as you may recall Killtron first came to attention both nationally and Stateside with the 2012 release of her debut EP Hipster/Gangsta. As a result of the surrounding buzz around her debut EP, Killtron made the rounds across the North American festival circuit with appearances at Miami’s Winter Music ConferencePride TorontoThe Halifax Jazz Festival and CMJ. Adding to a growing profile, her collaboration with NYC-based production duo Love Taps “Back For More” received attention from the likes of Stereogum and Huffington Post for a sound that meshed moomba and R&B – and for visuals that showcased a sadly bygone NYC. Additionally, Smalltown DJs, The Slow WavesEyes Everywhere, Brothers In Arms and City Kid Soul have all have remixed “Back For More” — with the City Kid Soul remix being named in the Top 5 at Toronto’s Bestival.

Killtron’s latest single “Satin Sheets” will further cement her reputation for crafting thumping, 80s synth pop/synth funk and 90s dance music-inspired tracks — and while rooted in a sweet nostalgia for slow dances at the school dance, for creating mixtapes of your favorite jams straight from the radio or for that new sweetheart of yours. Sonically speaking her material immediately brings to mind the likes of (the oft-mentioned on this site), Cherelle, I Feel for You-era Chaka Khan, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, early Mariah Carey and so on, with a similar swaggering self-assuredness and an underlying heartbreaking angst — but bolstered by an incredibly slick modern production that’s both radio friendly and club friendly. As Killtron says of her  latest single “Satin Sheets,” “With this track I wanted to take it back to my hometown high school summers. Picture it: Brampton 1999, Cruisin’ along Queen St. on the 1A to Bramalea City Center, summer crushes at the Professor’s lake beach, tryin to catch the eye of the L-section babes for a slow jam at Rec dances, between pizza roll breaks, & bright summer afternoons crushing banquet burgers with the whole squad at Sunny’s. This song is high school Maya, the stacked vocal harmonies, the 90’s bass, the Brampton top down beat. As with all of the Never Dance Alone (my forthcoming Album) tracks, it’s the music I always wanted to make. Not just a nod or throwback, not disposable or following any trend. Its a real gateway into my musical past in ever bar. Syrupy, rich & full of R&B high school angst.”

 

 

Perhaps best known as a co-founding member and lead guitarist of the Brooklyn-based indie rock act Big Thief, Buck Meek is finally stepping out on his own with his highly-anticipated self-titled, full-length debut, which is slated for a May 18, 2018 release through Austin, TX-based label Keeled Scales. Reportedly, Meek’s solo debut is extension of his work and role in Big Thief, but it can also be seen as being a revealing look at his primary act’s hidden talent. And so far, this year has been a breakthrough year for Meek as he’s received attention from NPR and American Songwriter and has toured with Margaret Glaspy, Twain and others.

“Maybe” the third and latest single off Meek’s self-titled debut is a shuffling and shambling song that draws from rock and country in a way that may remind some of Let It Be-era Beatles (think of “Get Back” “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “One After 909“), Harry Nilsson (think of “Jump Into The Fire“)and others but with a straight out of left field take, thanks to a song structure that eschews the traditional chorus, verse chorus format while being held together with razor sharp hooks and a mischievously free flowing vibe. The song may have been released in 1972, 1982, 2002, 2012 or 2018 but no matter what, there’s a deliberate attention to craft that’s charming.

Meek will be touring to support the album with a backing band and the tour will include a June 8, 2018 stop at Rough Trade. Check out the tour dates below.

Rough
TOUR DATES
May 30 | Kerrville, TX at Kerrville Folk Festival
June 07 | Allston, MA at Great Scott
June 08 | Brooklyn, NY at Rough Trade
June 09 | Washington, DC at Songbyrd
June 10 | Durham, NC at The Pinhook
June 12 | Nashville, TN at The High Watt
June 13 | Bloomington, IN at The Bishop
June 14 | Chicago, IL at Schuba’s
June 15 | Millvale, PA at The Funhouse
June 16 | Philadelphia, PA at Johnny Brenda’s
June 7-16 with Sam Evian
June 7 & 8 also with Katie Von Schleicher

Over the past three years or so, I’ve written a bit about the Copenhagen, Denmark-based electro pop duo Palace Winter, and as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of  Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born and-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager can trace their origins to a mutual appreciation for each other’s writing styles and a familiarity with each other’s work through their involvement in a number of different projects individually — and of course, the duo were encouraged to start writing material together.

2015 saw the release of their debut single, which followed-up with 2016’s debut EP Medication and their full-length debut Waiting for the World to Turn, all of which were released through Copenhagen-based label Tambourhinoceros to critical applause from the likes of The Guardian, NME, The Line of Best Fit, and airplay from KCRWKEXPNorway’s P3, Denmark’s P6, as well as by BBC Radio personalities Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft. Oh, and let’s not forget, they have a Hype Machine #1 under their belts. Adding to a growing profile, they’ve opened for Noel Gallagher, played sets on the European festival circuit, including Meltdown Festival curated by the aforementioned Guy Garvey, Roskilde FestivalGreen Man FestivalSziget FestivalLatitude Festival and Secret Garden Party among others.
Building upon a rapidly growing internationally recognized profile, the members of the Danish pop act will be releasing their sophomore album Nowadays on May 4, 2018 — and interestingly enough, album single “Empire” found the band pairing breezy, melodic and radio friendly pop with mark darker thematic concerns — in particular, the song focused on the loss of innocence and the tough, and sobering life lessons of adulthood, with the recognition of the freedom and power of taking charge of your life. The album’s latest single “Come Back (Left Behind)” will further cement the band’s reputation for incredibly upbeat and anthemic radio friendly pop that sounds decidedly inspired by buoyant, 80s synth pop but with darker lyrical and thematic concerns; in fact, as the duo note, the song focuses on the challenges of anxiety, of coming to terms with the loss of a lover, whose ghost seems to pervasively linger, and the feeling as though you’ll never escape the grief. As Carl Coleman explains, the song is “loosely inspired by the recent horror film The Witch. I loved the imagery in that movie and the idea that there was some sort of unknown darkness hidden in the woods. I wanted to merge that imagery with something personal and that’s where the themes of grief and yearning came up”,
Coleman adds that the song finds the duo moving the focus away from the acoustic guitar to try to get the drive from somewhere else like the piano lines and the jagged 12-string electric, and while being propulsive and downright danceable, the song sounds as though it could have been released in 1985 or so.

Comprised of Kyle McCammon and Stephen Johnson, the Los Angeles, CA-based pop duo Lean can trace their origins to when McCammon relocated from New York to Los Angeles and met Johnson. And as the story goes, the duo bonded over a shared love of 90s hip-hop and indie rock and quickly found a formula that combined those influences.  “With Stephen’s ear for hooks it came together effortlessly” McCammon said of the band’s conception.

The band made their live debut last March and within their first year together, McCammon and Johnson released five singles that received critical praise from the likes of NYLON, Indie Shuffle, IMPOSE, Buzz Bands LA, and that lead to several high-profile Spotify and Apple Music Playlists, as well as the attention of renowned electronic music label Kitsune. Building upon a growing profile, the duo will be releasing their full-length debut Years on May 25, 2018, and the album’s latest single “On The Fence” is centered around a motorik-like groove, thumping beats, a slick hook and a decidedly soulful and sultry R&B vibe while reminding me quite a bit of The Helio Sequence and others.

New Audio: Introducing the Scuzzy Classic Rock Sounds of New York’s Mick’s Jaguar

Mick’s Jaguar is a New York-based rock septet that initially formed as a drunken Rolling Stones cover band, and after a few years of mainlining Stones songs and playing sporadic shows marred by violence and beer showers, they started writing original material that attracted the attention of RidingEasy Records; in fact, the material on their full-length debut Fame and Fortune, which is slated for a June 22, 2018 release is a much more primal affair, that sounds more like Highway to Hell-era AC/DC, T. Rex, Thin Lizzy and New York Dolls than the Stones, as the album’s songs are centered around 12 bar blues power chords and tight grooves that focus on life, death, cars, blood, murder, sex, drugs and booze — it’s  all the classic rock tropes you desperately need in your life. And unsurprisingly, Fame and Fortune’s latest single “The Real Boss” is a scuzzy and gritty, hook-driven anthem that’s perfect for raising beers aloft to shout along the hook, for excessive speeding down a freeway, and for gearing yourself up for a night kicking ass and causing trouble. Let it be a reminder that primal and scuzzy rock is still alive, and absolutely necessary.

Sam Arion is an Iranian-born, Toronto area-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, and the creative mastermind behind Mute Choir. Raised in the Toronto suburbs of Richmond Hill and Newmarket, Arion left the ‘burbs when he turned 18 to seriously pursue a career in music. Eventually, Arion had a glimpse of success as a part of a band that signed to a major label, and although countless young musicians across the world would salivate over such an opportunity, Arion quickly saw that the demands of the situation ran counter to his own musical and creative philosophy. And for the Iranian-born, Toronto area-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, the only solution was to make a clean break and take full command over his artists output with his own solo recording project — Mute Choir.

Behind the Bars Arion’s self-produced Mute Choir full-length debut was primarily written and performed by the Iranian-born Canadian singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer himself. “I’d say that 98% of this album was made by me alone on my laptop at 3 a.m.,” Arion admits in press notes. “I’m not a great drummer so I had to get a friend to do that, but I wrote all his parts. As soon as I started playing music when I was 13, I immediately wanted to learn how to produce because I never wanted to be in a situation where someone else was telling me how my music should sound. What’s most important to me is not feeling like I’m faking it, not just with music but all aspects of my life. That’s what this album represents most—it’s a true expression of who I am.”

Interestingly, Arion has dubbed his sound “post-electronic” as a nod to a split musical personality as a balladeer and experimentalist; in fact he admits that his songwriting has almost always been a bit melancholy but that incorporating electronic music elements became almost like meditation, as it has allowed him to lose himself in the music. “Growing up in a generation musically dominated by EDM, I saw how powerful the ability to make people dance can be,” Arion says. “It brings music into the physical realm. I want to bring that out in people, I want people to lose themselves in the music the same way I did making it, but not necessarily as a means of escape. It’s also very important to me to have lyrical content and themes that also allow listeners to think and reflect on their lives.” Thematically speaking, the album reportedly focuses on freedom — particularly, the freedom to live your life however you choose, and the freedom to follow your creative vision wherever it leads. Of course, in order to develop and have a concept of freedom, there has to be the experience of its direct opposite, so the album in some way also focuses on that dichotomy and how it clashes in one’s personal and creative life.

Behind the Bars‘ latest single “Election Season” is an anthemic bit of electro rock/synth rock that immediately brings to mind Empire-era Kasabian — but within an expansive song structure centered around bombastic hooks, arpeggiated synths, thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and a sinuous bass line that features a gorgeous and cinematic string arrangement before building up to a cathartic cacophony. It’s the rare song I’ve heard this year that’s both dance floor friendly and mosh pit worthy but underneath the self-assured swagger is some thoughtful and ambitious songwriting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past 18 months or so, I’ve written quite about the Utrecht, The Netherlands-based singer/songwriter Annelotte de Graff and her solo recording project Amber Arcades, and as you may recall with the release of her full-length debut Fading Light, de Graaf received international attention for an album that thematically focused on the and the relativistic experience of it, magic, jet lag and her own dreams, which have managed to influence much of her personal and creative life; in fact, as the story goes, De Graaf used her life savings for a flight to New York and studio time to record her debut with Ben Greenberg, who has worked with The Men, Beach Fossils and Destruction Unit, and a studio backing band that included Quilt’s Shane Butler (guitar) and Keven Lareau (bass) and Real Esate’s Jackson Pollis (drums) — both of whom she had specifically hand picked because she had dreamt of working with them. Along with that, De Graaf had a long-held dream of working for the UN, and she eventually worked as a legal aide on UN war crime tribunals and n human rights and immigration law, assisting Syrian refugees.

Last year, saw the release of the critically applauded Cannonball EP, which was among my favorite releases last year — in particular, the gorgeously shot video for “Wouldn’t Even Know,” which featured a guest spot from British singer/songwriter, composer, producer and guitarist  Bill Ryder-Jones brought back memories of riding trains through the Dutch countryside from Amsterdam to Dordrecht, passing through and by towns like Abcoude, The Hague, Breukelen and others. Along with that, EP singles like “It Changes” and her cover of Nick Drake’s “Which Will,” revealed a singer/songwriter with an self-assured yet uncanny knack for a catchy hook within jangling guitar pop.

De Graaf’s latest single “Goodnight Europe” is the first taste of her forthcoming sophomore, full-length album slated for release later this year, and the single finds the renowned Dutch singer/songwriter’s sound leaning heavily towards Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, T. Rex and Sgt. Pepper and Let It Be-era Beatles, as the song features some impressive and bluesy guitar work paired with a gorgeous string arrangement — and the song manages to further cement De Graaf’s ability to craft a razor sharp hook around some thoughtful songwriting; in fact, the song is a meditation on the current state of the European Union, written from the perspective of a dysfunctional and confusing romantic relationship that’s inescapably odd. As De Graaf explains in press notes, “I guess about half of it is me actually being worried about the current state of the Union. The other half is me kind of messing around with, and making fun of, this archetype of the tiresome existentialist academic in me.”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Wax Idol Release an Anthemic Power Ballad

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the  Oakland, CA-based indie rock act Wax Idols, and as you may recall that after 2013’s critically applauded album Discipline + Desire, the band went on hiatus as the band’s founding member, primary songwriter and frontperson Hether Fortune joined the equally acclaimed punk rock band and JOVM mainstays  White Lung. That was followed by a heartbreaking and life-altering divorce, which informed much of the material on the band’s critically applauded, third album, 2016’s American Tragic.

Informed by the one of the saddest and most difficult experiences of Fortune’s life, as Fortune explained that American Tragic wasn’t “. . .a sad album.The whole spectrum of grief is represented here — shock, pain, anger, loneliness, and then finding a way to work through all of that, and not only survive, and thrive. That’s what I was going through. I was kind of trying to save myself.” Fortune wrote and recorded every note and every single chord on the album, and as a result, it gives the album a deeply personal vision and point of view in which the heartbreak and grief at the core of the album is visceral and haunting — especially if you’ve ever experienced the dissolution of a long-term romantic relationship, as it evokes the lingering ghosts and resentments, the push and pull of longing, confusion and hatred towards that person, who may well never be in your life again; but it’s all underpinned by the recognition that if you’ve known love, you may know it again and again and again, and that somehow you’ll pick up most of the pieces and move forward. And while thematically being among the most soberING and thoughtful material Fortune has written, the material sonically is reminiscent of Too True-era Dum Dum Girls, Concrete Blonde, Siouxsie and the Banshees and others.

Slated for a May 16, 2018 release through Etruscan Gold Records, Wax Idols long-anticipated forth Monte Vallier-produced album Happy Ending finds the band heading towards new thematic territory as the album finds the band exploring the abstraction and finality of death from philosophical, political and personal perspectives, continuing on the deeply personal tone and vibe of their critically applauded American Tragic. Additionally, the album finds the band continuing onward after a series of lineup changes with the band’s founding member and primary songwriter Fortune backed by Peter Lightning (guitar, bass, organ, piano), Rachel Travers (drums) and Marisa Prieto (bass, backing vocals) and The Mallard’s Greer McGettrick joining the band after the album was recorded. 

Now, as you may recall Happy Ending’s first single “Scream” was a rousingly anthemic, 80s-inspired post punk track with with a deeply personal, idiosyncratic vision, complete with some impressive guitar pyrotechnics that make the song seem as though the band drawing influence from Boy and October-era U2.  As Fortune told NPR, “Finding inspiration in one of my favorite poems, ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ by Dylan Thomas, I used this song as a vehicle to meditate on the concept of free will & how one could choose to exercise it even at the brink of death.” She adds, “The protagonist is someone who is young, madly in love AND desperately wants to live — though they know that they will not. They have chosen to use their final seconds, the only breath in their lungs, to scream out the name of the one that they love.” Interestingly, the album’s latest single  the mid tempo power ballad, “Crashing” continues on a similar vein as its predecessor as it’s a swooning and urgent ballad centered around twinkling piano, propulsive drumming and an anthemic hook with some gorgeous guitar work. Much like Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” and others, “Crashing” is the sort of song you can envision earnestly shouting along with a beer held aloft, with the knowledge of life’s fleeting nature.