Category: New Audio

Over the course of 2017 and 2018, I wrote a bit about Trent Prall, a Southern California-born, Madison,WI--based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, and his solo recording project Kainalu, which derives its name for the Hawaiian word for ocean wave.  The music that the Southern California-born, Madison,WI-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter has worked on for the past decade or so have drawn from psych pop, psych rock, dream pop, Tropicalia, synth pop and funk, as well as his childhood trips to Oahu, HI visiting his mother’s family, coalescing in a breezy and nostalgia-including sound that Prall has dubbed “Hawaii-fi.”

Finding Peace of Mind” and “Folds Like Origami” consecutively landed at #1 on the Hype Machine Charts and received placements on some top Spotify playlists, and with the growing buzz surrounding him, there was high expectations for Prall to quickly write and release a career-launching debut EP. But rather than get swept up into the current of premature opportunities and expectations, the Southern California-born, Madison, WI-based JOVM mainstay spent the next year in isolation, exploring the unfiltered daydreams of a wandering mind and capturing ideas on tape whenever they drifted by. Interestingly, the end result is his long-awaited and highly-anticipated full-length debut Lotus Gate.

Slated for release this fall, the self-produced Lotus Gate is reportedly a retro-futuristic exploration of Eastern philosophy and contemporary groove and self-exploratory  psychedelia. The album’s latest single “Kamikaze Mushroom Palace” is centered around a warm and trippy, disco-tinged groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a soaring hook and Prall’s ethereal falsetto — and while the single sonically sounds indebted to Tame Impala, but with the song’s narrator expressing an inward yearning to get their shit straight by any and all costs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Born in the early 70s, the Pasadena, CA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer/songwriter and producer Damon Garrett Riddick, best known as JOVM mainstay Dam-Funk came of age during the heyday of acts like Uncle Jamm’s Army and Egyptian Lover, two of the area’s pioneers of electro hip-hop and what would become West Coast hip-hop — and of course, the legendary Prince.

Riddick’s parents encouraged and nurtured his interest in music: he learned drums and then drum machine. A chance encounter led to an apprenticeship under funk songwriter/producer Leon Sylvers III, and by the mid-90s, the height of West Coast, G-funk hip-hop, Riddick was a highly-sought, local session musician, playing on tracks by Mack 10 and MC Eiht. “Everybody was trying to do the live instrumentation thing, so then you got cats like me playing on records,” Dam explained on his Stones Throw Records artist bio.

Sideman status wasn’t enough for him though. While watching gold plaques be handed out to everyone but him, Riddick decided that it was time to go “full-funk” and make a do-or-die try to become an artist on his own terms. In 2006, he and a few friends launched the popular Funkmosphere party. Around then, the Pasadena-born, Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer/songwriter and producer caught the attention of Stones Throw Records. Unsurprisingly, the label related to Riddick’s insistence that funk needed to be saved from cartoonish and devilish caricature — and that funk was a way of life.

Stones Throw Records released his two full-length albums — 2009’s Toeachizown and 2015’s Invite the Light, a compilation of his early production, 2010’s Adolescent Funk. 2013 was a big year for the Pasadena-born, Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstay — his collaboration with Steve Arrington Higher was released that year, and he teamed up with Snoop Dogg in the funk and hip-hop act 7 Days of Funk, who also released their debut album that year. Each of those early releases helped to establish Dam-Funk’s signature sound and aesthetic — synth-based funk that draws from G-Funk era hip-hop and 80s synth funk. However, Riddick has spent the past couple of years experimenting with the warmer sides of deep house and techno with material released through his own imprint Glydezone Recordings while spending time DJ’ing, and working on remixes and mixes.

Slated for a May 17, 2019 release through his own label, Dam-Funk’s forthcoming effort STFU II reportedly is a gradual return to his old-school funk roots while serving as a both a follow up to last year’s Architecture II EP and along-awaited sequel to 2015’s free, all-instrumental EP STFU. Continuing in the vein of its sonic predecessor, the EP’s first track, the strutting EP closer “On Code” clocks in at just under seven minutes and is centered by thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, layers of arpeggiated bass synths and keytar and atmospheric electronics. And although the material is lovingly indebted to the period that influenced it, the song possesses a subtle cosmic glow — all while reminding the listener of Dam-Funk’s innate melodicism.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hannah Scott is an Ipswich, UK-born, London, UK-based singer/songwriter, whose work is heavily influenced by a year spent working on an olive press in rural Tuscany, Italy in her late teens.

Several years later, Scott met her collaborator, Italian-born multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Stefano Della Casa when they were both in London, but interestingly enough, they both recognized that they may have encountered each other years earlier, when she used to regularly pass through the train station that Della Casa worked in. When the duo began collaborating, they quickly recognized that they had an incredible connection despite coming from vastly different backgrounds: Della Casa had a difficult upbringing and troubled early adulthood while Scott had been lucky to have a supportive family and happy childhood — although as an adult, Scott was diagnosed with a form of arthritis, which causes severe joint pain and fatigue.

Both artists firmly believe that their musical collaboration has provided an outlet to support each other through difficult times, and the duo have received quite a bit of buzz over the past couple of years: they’ve been featured in MOJO, Songwriting Magazine , Clash Magazine and in The Guardian as a “New Band of The Day.” They’ve also received airplay on  Bob Harris’ and Dermot O’Leary’BBC Radio 2 shows and have been on  BBC Introducing’s “Track of the Week” three times. They’ve opened for  Seth Lakeman and 10cc , and played at Mondo.NYC Festival a couple of years ago.

Last year’s  Pieces of the Night quickly established Scott as one of her country’s emerging singer/songwriters with the album pairing emotive and heartfelt songwriting with a warm and effortless production that meshed organic instrumentation — primarily acoustic guitar, cello and vocals — with atmospheric electronics. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, both Scott and her collaborator Della Casa have signed publishing deals with Ultra Music Publishing and Chelsea Music Publishing respectively.

Scott kicks off 2019 with the gorgeous, Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head-era Coldplay-like “Walk a Wire.” Centered around Scott’s plaintive vocals, a soaring hook and spectral arrangement of acoustic guitar and atmospheric electronics, the song is inspired by a friend of Scott’s, who had a disability and out of fear of rejection and heartbreak, closed herself away. And as a result, the song is a plea to the listener to take a chance and open up to life and possibility.

 

 

 

 

Over the bulk of this site’s almost nine-year history, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay Charles Bradley. And as you may recall, the late Jacksonville, FL-born, Brooklyn-based soul singer/songwriter led a remarkable life, overcoming unimaginable adversity, eventually appearing in two documentaries, Charles Bradley: Soul of America and the Daptone Records live documentary, Living on Soul filmed during the 2014 Daptone Records Soul Revue residency at the legendary Apollo Theater, and four full-length albums, 2011’s No Time For Dreaming, 2013’s Victim of Love, 2016’s Changes, and last year’s posthumously released Black Velvet.

In late 2016, Bradley faced what would be one the greatest challenges in a lifetime filled with challenges. A stomach cancer diagnosis earlier during the fall forced him to cancel a busy touring schedule. Weakened by months of chemotherapy, facing a potentially life threatening surgery and confronting his own mortality, Bradley stepped into a home recording studio in Queens and spontaneously created “Lonely as You Are.” Featuring a looping piano sequence, shuffling drumming and gently strummed guitars, the track features Bradley’s imitable and achingly soulful vocals speaking and singing lyrics that express his profound loneliness, the tacit awareness of his impending mortality, his hope to be reunited with his mother and grandmother in heaven and his hope to leave something that connects with fans and others once he was gone. While the song is centered around a sparse instrumental arrangement of The Avett Brothers‘ Seth Avett (guitar) and Mike Marsh (drums) and co-producers James Levy and The Avett Brothers and Langhorne Slim‘s Paul Defigilia (bass, piano and organ and co-production), the track manages to be a great example of Bradley’s powerfully earnest soulfulness — and a comforting plea to other lonely souls out there. But goddamn it, it’s an also achingly sincere tear-jerker.

The song ends with Bradley saying “I love you. And this is Charles Bradley. I hope this one days get out to the world.” His hope has been realized, and while achingly sad, it’s a reminder of how a great artist’s work can resonate long after they’ve left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Stine Helen Tunstrøm (vocals), Terje Halmrast (guitar, vocals), Svein Petter Nilssen (guitar), Vegar Eriksfallet (drums, percussion) and Bendrik Dræge Orvan (bass), the Oslo, Norway-based band Monalia are deeply influenced by 60s pop and 4AD shoegaze.

The Oslo-based quintet’s debut single “My Little Lies” was released on Ghost Town Records and the song received airplay across Norwegian radio — but began to receive international attention once it was playlisted on German radio, and saw praise from international music blogs. Building upon a growing profile both nationally and internationally, the band’s debut EP 2016’s Waited All Too Long received regular airplay across Norwegian national radio and praise from a number of different blogs across the blogosphere. Since the release of their debut EP, the members of Monalia have played a number of high profile shows in Oslo and Eastern Norway, including a slot at Festivalen Sin, sharing a stage with some of their homeland’s most prominent artists including Stein Torlief Bjella, Enslaved and Greni.

Last February, the members of Monalia went into the studio to record their recently released full-length debut So Much Better. As the band explains in press notes, the album’s title is about taking an active choice in terms of how you want to live your life. In some way, the band wants to encourage the listener to step out of mediocrity and live a life in pursuit of your ambitions and passions, watching every new day with joy and anticipation rather than anxious dread. Sonically, the material on the band’s debut is a journey through doubt, darkness and longing and into a bight, hopeful future — all while further establishing what they’ve dubbed “mountain surf,” a sound and subgenre inspired by the Norwegian countryside and nature.

So Much Better‘s latest single is the slow-burning and atmospheric “Drank the Rain.” Centered around shimmering guitar lines, gently propulsive drumming, a soaring hook and Tunstrøm’s gorgeous and plaintive vocals, the Norwegian indie act’s latest single bears an uncanny resemblance to Mazzy Star and classic 4AD Records shoegaze; but as the band explains, the song is “about the contrasts between the good and bad feelings in a relationship and how all the band things make the love stronger and make you feel more alive.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: L.A.’s Film School Releases a Brooding and Atmospheric Single

Earlier this year, I wrote about the acclaimed  Los Angeles-based shoegazer act Film School, and as you may recall, the act which is currently comprised of founding member Greg Bertens (vocals, guitar) along with Jason Ruck (keys), Nyles Lannon (guitar), Justin Labo (bass) and Adam Wade (drums) can trace its origins to when Bertens founded the band as a solo project in which he worked with members of Fuck and Pavement for the recording of the band’s full-length debut, 2001’s Brilliant Career. Ruck, Lannon, Labo and Ben Montesano (drums) were all recruited to compete the band’s first permanent lineup later that year.

2003 saw the release of the Alwaysnever EP, an effort that was recorded in Lannon’s bedroom and shortly after the release of the EP, the band went through a series of lineup changes — with the first being Donny Newenhouse replacing Montesano on drums. 2006 saw the release of their self-titled sophomore album, their first through renowned indie label Beggars Banquet. They also provided the music for a series of short films by Demetri Martin, known collectively as “Clearification,” which was used for an ad campaign for Windows Vista.

The band went through another a massive lineup change that featured Lorelei Plotczyk replacing Labo on bass, Dave Dupuis replacing Lannon on guitar, and James Smith replaced Newenhouse on drums and then relocated to Los Angeles before releasing their third full-length album 2007’s Hideout, which was primarily written by Bertens and recorded with Dan Long.

The band’s fourth full-length album Fission, which found the band exploring new sonic territory was released to mixed reviews by fans and critics in 2010. The band played what was considered their last official show the following year and went on an indefinite hiatus for several years before the band’s self-titled era lineup reunited for a one-off show at San Francisco‘s Bottom of the Hillto celebrate Newenhouse’s 40th birthday that focused on early material. Interestingly, the reunion eventually resulted in 2016’s June EP, which found the reunited band returning to their signature spacious sound.

Film School’s fifth, full-length album, last year’s Bright to Deathwas written and recorded as a labor of love, with tempered expectations, since it was the band’s first album in eight years. Recorded over an eight day period in November 2018 on the outskirts of Joshua Tree, CA, the album’s title is derived from text on a piece of art that Bertens had seen as part of an exhibit by Chinese students on the topic of global warming. As they were recording in the sun-blistered environs of Joshua Tree, the phrase “Bright to death” popped into Bertens’ head and it stuck.

Featuring four members of the band’s original lineup and Shudder to Think and Jawbox’s Adam Wade contributing on several songs, the album’s sessions came about almost by accident. As the story goes, Bertens was at a Fourth of July get-together and was grumbling to Justin Labo about a recent bout with writer’s block. In the ensuing months after recording the June EP, work and family responsibilities had seemingly zapped Bertens of his creativity. At the time Bertens joked “The only way, I could write is if I were out in the desert for a week.” A few hours later, Bertens received a phone call from Labo: Labo had the go-ahead from his wife and kids to go to the desert to write and record. Greg’s offhanded remark had awakened “a pent-up lust to make music the way we wanted to,” in Justin’s words. It wasn’t long before Nyles Lannon (guitar/backing vocals, also a dad) and Jason Ruck (synths) were on board, too.

As for the sessions themselves — after Bertens returned from his dawn run, the members of the band would hunker down in a small outbuilding that functioned as a simple studio. “It was perfect,” the band’s Labo said “We set up our laptops and fashioned a makeshift DIY recording setup. It brought us back to [2003] when we recorded the Alwaysnever EP in Nyles’s bedroom.” They would spend all day and most of the night working, taking breaks only to eat and to catch a few hours of sleep. “At some points we had two recording setups going simultaneously,” Labo recalls. “Greg and Nyles might be working on an arrangement or vocals, while me and Jason would be tracking keyboards and bass for another idea. We recorded for eight days straight, right up until the very last moment.”

Influencer,” the first single off the band’s forthcoming EP slated for release this summer was centered around four-on-the-floor drumming, buzzing and arpeggiated synths, shimmering, pedal effected guitars and anthemic hook — but delivered with an ambivalent and ironic detachment. “Go (But Not Too Far),” the forthcoming EP’s brooding, Turn on the Bright Lights-era Interpol-like latest single — and while being an atmospheric track centered around shimmering, pedal effected guitars, a motorik groove and a sinuous hook, the song possesses a bittersweet and wistful air.

Over the past month or so, I’ve written a bit about the Helsinki, Finland-born and-based, Bolivian-Finnish singer/songwriter, producer and percussionist Bobby Oroza, and as you may recall Oroza was raised by a family of musicians and artists. Naturally, as a result, a young Oroza was exposed to a wide range of music; in fact, family parties and get together frequently featured his Bolivian-born grandfather playing Latin and Cuban classics on his guitar or his parents playing albums from an eclectic and diverse record collection that included early jazz and blues, Motown, gospel, doo-wop, soul, as well as Brazilian, African, North American and South American folk, and Nuyroican salsa, all of which influenced the music he began writing and working on.

Before completing high school, Oroza decided that he needed to experience and soak up the rhythmic source that inspired him the most, so he would up traveling to Santiago de Cuba, where he intensively studied percussion and singing. Since returning to Finland, the Bolivian-Finnish singer/songwriter, producer and percussionist has been busy producing, recording and performing music to make a living. He eventually teamed with Timmion Records’ house band/production duo Jukka Sarapää and Sami Kantelinen, best known as Cold Diamond & Mink, along with guitarist/composer Seppo Salmi, who have helped achieve his artistic vision — smokey, late night, lo-fi soul paired with Oroza’s plaintive tenor crooning over the mix.

The Bolivian-Finnish singer/songwriter’s full-length debut This Love is slated for a May 3, 2019 release through Big Crown Records, and album single “Deja Vu,” revealed a young, up-and-coming artist, who specializes in singer/songwriter soul that sounded as though it could have been released sometime between 1971 and 1974. The shimmering, mid-tempo “Your Love Is Too Cold,” which was centered around Oroza’s plaintive vocals, jangling guitars, soaring organs, a punchily delivered hook, punctuated with oohs and ahhhs, and a propulsive rhythm section , sounded indebted to classic 60s era Motown soul — while being a bitter tell off to an indifferent, careless lover. “Alone Again,” This Love‘s latest single continues the late night, Quiet Storm-like vibes, centered around shimmering guitars, a sinuous bass line and Oroza’s plaintive and tender vocals, as his narrative laments over another late night wandering the streets alone. And in some fashion the song nods at a bit at Smokey Robinson’s “Crusin.'”

“This song was inspired by the particular thought of riding alone in an automobile in the night when the streets are empty,” Bobby Oroza says in press notes. “You are as free as your gas tank contains but no matter how far you drive your past experiences will follow in every turn. We started off with some thematic references here. I’m talking about the lowrider sound. We wanted a track we would put on when cruising aimlessly around. It’s your own space then and the whole setup is prone to a certain philosophical tone. We wanted to catch a moment we felt we all knew.”

 

 

 

 

 

With the release of last year’s debut EP The Call, the Paris-based electro pop duo SACRE, which is comprised of Hawaii and Sukil, burst into the international scene, as the EP received praise from the likes of Billboard, The Line of Best Fit, Clash Magazine, Impose Magazine, Earmilk and others, as well as a co-sign from Pharrell Williams. Building upon a growing, buzz worthy profile, their follow-up single “Lemonade” reached #2 on the Hype Machine charts — and their debut EP received the remix treatment, featuring remixes from Gigamesh, the Victoires de la Musique-nominated Elephanz, Chopstick & JohnJon, JOVM mainstay Uppermost and NTEIBINT.

Slated for a December 2019 release, the duo’s highly-anticipated, full-length debut Love Revolution will further cement the duo’s reputation for being full-circle creators, who write, sing, produce design everything related to their musical project with the album reportedly finds the members of SACRE meshing music, photography and narrative storytelling with each track of the album telling the story of 12 different characters over the course of 12 hours. The album’s fourth and latest track “10:00PM FIRE IRAE (which translates into “fire wrath”) is a sultry and propulsive trance-inducing, house banger, centered around layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, tweeter and woofer rocking low end, sultrily delivered ethereal vocals and a soaring hook — and while bearing a resemblance to Giorgio Moroder, Daft Punk, and Kylie Minogue, the song is set at 10:00pm. Bebe, the star of the evening, appears on stage. The crowd cheers for a moment, then hushes, hypnotized by her fire dancing, with her performance ending with Bebe triumphantly setting the entire bar on fire. Show over, time to go home, now — with the crowd slack jawed and with that space cadet glow, as an old song says.

 

 

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Best known as a founding member of hip-hop collective Odd Future and the Grammy-nominated, soul pop act The Internet, Matt Martians, a sometimes vocalist and producer released his critically-applauded debut, 2017’s The Drum Chord Theory, which was hailed by Rolling Stone as “pleasingly eccentric.”

Slated for an April 26, 2019 release through 3qtr Records, Martians’ sophomore album The Last Party was written and recorded as a way to heal himself after going through one of the most difficult times of his life. And while doing so, he reportedly found that you have to truly love yourself before you can sincerely give it back. Featuring guest spots from Mac DeMarco and Steve Lacy, the album’s overall sound blends modern funk, soul and electro pop. Serving as a perfect taste of what you’d expect from the new album, the sultry yet playful “Knock Knock” brings Quiet Storm-era soul, Thundercat and Dam-Funk, within a lysergic song structure full of weird time and tempo changes.

Martians will be spending the next few months touring with The Internet, and it includes a stop at Governors Ball in May. Check out the tour dates below.

Live Dates With The Internet

4/27 – Niceto Club, Buenos Aires

4/30 – Circo Voador, Rio de Janeiro

5/1 – Audio, Sao Paolo

5/4 – Campo Abierto Festival, Santiago 

5/31 – Governors Ball, NYC 

6/15 – Smoking Grooves, Long Beach

7/11 – Summerset House, London

7/12 – North Sea Jazz, Rotterdam Netherands

7/13 – Dour Festival, Dour Belgium

 

Sophie Brochu is a Savannah, GA-born, Chicago, IL-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of her musical career to feeling frustrated with the constraints of her craft, after completing her masters in fiction writing. And as a result, she turned to music for its raw and immediate emotional release. Beginning her musical career as a member of Chicago-based bands Astrobrite and Videotape, the Savannah-born, Chicago-based singer/songwriter and guitarist also leads her own project, Fauvely.

Featuring Dale Price, Scott Cortez, and Dave Piscotti, the Chicago-based band led by Brochu have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for crafting deeply personal dream pop. The Chicago-based dream pop act’s debut, 2017’s EP Watch Me Overcomplicate This featured confessional material that ranged from delicately self-effacing to hauntingly sad; but its follow-up, last year’s Tides was inspired by Brochu’s birthplace and the effort found Brochu and company expanding their sound and approach, with bolder and brooding material that thematically focused on coming to terms with haunting and unsettling memories in a place revered for its beauty.

Slated for a May 17, 2019 release through Chicago-based indie label Diversion Records, Fauvely’s forthcoming This is What the Living Do EP derives its name from a collection of poetry by New York-based poet Marie Howe. The EP’s first single and title track, the brooding yet ethereal “This Is What the Living Do” is dedicated to her friend, who lost her mother to cancer. And while the sparsely arranged and hauntingly spectral track bears an uncanny resemblance to Mazzy Star, its centered by the grief and heartache of inconsolable, unfathomable loss.