Category: New Single

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Yumi Zouma Releases a Breezy Club Banger

Over the course of this site’s almost nine year history, I’ve spilled quite of virtual ink over the acclaimed, internationally-based synth pop act Yumi Zouma. And as you may recall, the act which is now currently comprised of Christie Simpson, Charlie Ryder and Josh Burgess initially formed in their hometown of  Christchurch, New Zealand; however, since the 2011 earthquake that devastated their hometown and the rest of the region, the members of the band have been split across different locations across the globe with members residing in New York, Paris and Christchurch.

Primarily writing and recorded by email, the band wasn’t initially meant to be a live band but they received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a breezy yet bittersweet, 80s synth pop-inspired sound centered around Christie Simpson’s ethereal and tender vocals. Since the release of their Turntable Kitchen released cover of Oasis’ 1995 full-length effort, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, the renowned synth pop act released an EP trilogy, with the last EP, the aptly titled EP III being released through their longtime label home  Cascine Records last September.

The act’s latest single “Bruise” continues the act’s long-held reputation for crafting breezy, hook-driven synth pop with an underlying bittersweet quality — but the new single may arguably be the most dance floor friendly track they’ve released to date, as it also possesses a muscular and propulsive thump. Interestingly, as the band notes the origins of their latest single were steeped in loss, as the instrumental part of the song was written after Sam Perry informed the rest of the band that he was leaving the band and moving to Serbia — but the track has become a beacon for optimism for the band. “We were all distraught until Josh said ‘Cheer me up guys — let’s write a song for Nelly Furtado. Nelly never replied but we came up with a smash.” 

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In her native Portugal, the Porto-born and-based vocalist Marta Ren has been a part of the country’s music scene since the mid 1990s and she may be best known for her stint as the frontwoman of the acclaimed breakbeat outfit The Bombazines with whom she recorded and released two full-length albums — and for contributing her vocals to a number of nationally known acts. Interestingly, Ren has long been inspired by the funk and soul sounds of the 60s and over the last few years, the Porto-born and-based vocalist decided it was time to step out into the spotlight with her own soul and funk project, under her name. She eventually hooked up with her backing band The Groovelets, with whom she released her critically praised, attention-grabbing debut Stop Look Listen, an effort that received airplay from BBC Radio 6′s Craig Charles and Radio France‘s Francis Viel.

Building upon a growing international profile, Ren and her Groovelets played across Europe to support her critically acclaimed debut effort, including the Trans Musicales Festival, Sziget Festival, Eurosonic Nooderslag and Mostly Jazz Funk and Soul Festival. Interestingly, the strutting, Emre Ramazanoglu-produced “Worth It,” is the first batch of material from the Portuguese soulstress in a couple of years — and reportedly, it’s the first taste from her highly-anticipated sophomore album, slated for an early 2020 release through Record Kicks. And while retaining elements of the classic 60s soul that first caught the attention of this site and elsewhere, Ren an The Groovelets’ latest single is a sultry, slow-burning and cinematic track that finds their sound nodding at psych-tinged soul that finds Ren taking names and kicking ass with stomping aplomb.

 

 

 

 

Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ian Ferguson is a high-school dropout from a one stoplight town outside of Nashville, who started his music career in earnest when he formed and broke up his high school band Kingston Springs just as they were on the verge of a success; in fact, the band had a major label deal on the table, when he decided to walk away from the band.

Interestingly, his solo career can trace its origins to when he accidentally locked himself in his mother’s basement. “I was in my basement, working on some demos,” Ferguson recalls in press notes. “I hadn’t put this idea of ‘making a record’ together in my mind just yet. And there was this faulty door at the top of the stairs that would lock itself and you had to have a key to get out, which of course I didn’t have. I’m messing around when all of the sudden I hear it shut. To this day, I’m not sure what happened. It might’ve been my dachshund Hannah or just some crazy occurrence. I was home alone at the time so I started to freak out, but eventually decided to make the best of it. I had this old HP computer from the 90’s down there and I just went to town.” The end result is Ferguson’s forthcoming solo debut, State of Gold.

Slated for a July 26, 2019 release through County Fair Records, Ferguson’s debut effort was self-engineered with the up-and-coming singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist performing all the album’s instrumentation and arrangements. With no formal training as an engineer, self-recording and self-mixing were initially challenges. ““I ended up teaching myself how to record and mix records, using some goofy computer softwares. I actually mixed the record on that old HP computer from the 90’s using a very impractical way of recording that involved burning 16 CDs for each song. It took me a long time to make the record, but after I got ripped off $1k from an audio engineer for a mix that didn’t sound right, I knew I had to take it on myself and I hope you can hear the love in the labor,” Ferguson says in press notes.

Because of his wild-eyed falsetto, use of layered vocal harmonies, greasy guitars and conversational lyricism, Ferguson’s sound has gained comparisons to the likes of Ty Segall, The Nude Party, David Bowie, Marc Bolan/T. Rex and psychedelic era Beatles — and as a result, some of his fans include a who’s who of contemporary Nashville-based acts including Alabama Shakes and JOVM mainstay Ron Gallo among others.  Of course, when you check out State of Gold‘s latest single, the shuffling psych blues “Worried Walk,” you’ll clearly understand why the comparisons to Marc Bolan are so uncannily apt, as the song sounds as though it could have been released on almost any T. Rex album. However, the song possesses just enough Southern twang to give it a mischievously deceptive anachronistic quality that belies the deliberate and loving attention to craft at its core.

“Worried Walk is a song about that feeling when you’re aware you are having an emotional and mental meltdown,” Ferguson explains in press notes. “It’s about that feeling when your mind takes off, all on its own. You try taking a walk to calm yourself down but you find yourself thinking more and more and continuing in a downward spiral.”

Ferguson will be embarking on a short tour to support his solo debut that will include an August 14, 2019 stop at Union Pool. Check out the tour dates below.

 

TOUR DATES

7/26 – Nashville, TN @ Grimey’s – Album Release in-store

8/2 –  Charlotte, NC @ River Jam https://usnwc.org/ian-ferguson/

8/14 – New York, NY @ Union Pool https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1864586

Throughout the course of this site’s almost nine year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink on the ridiculously prolific New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. Now, as you may recall, the New York-based JOVM mainstay has received attention from this site and elsewhere for a slickly produced, funky, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, soul, hip-hop and New Wave. Interestingly, over the past year or so, Rhythm Scholar has enlisted a backing band featuring frequent collaborators Jason Spillman (bass) and Marcus Horndt (Rhodes) and Big Once (turntables), all of whom have helped the JOVM mainstay move towards an increasingly organic take on his work.

Rhythm Scholar’s latest remix finds him taking on Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams‘ smash hit collaboration “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” And while retaining Snoop’s imitable and effortlessly smooth flow, the JOVM’s mainstay’s kaleidoscopic remix recalls both Dr. Dre-inspired G Funk-era production and cinematic 70s soul, as the track feature samples from four classic blaxploitation films, 1973’s The Mack, 1973’s Magnum Force, 1975’s Rollerball and 1976’s Car Wash and is centered around twinkling Rhodes, a propulsive, disco-like bass line, fluttering electronics, congos and some much-needed, old school turntablism. Simply put, it’s a lysergic yet funky strutting take on a beloved banger.

 

 

 

Micheal Lane is a German-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who was raised in the States. As the story goes, he began singing at a very young age, using music as an escape from the troubles he was going through at any point during his life. After spending six years in the Army with three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lane realized that his life was going in a very different direction from the dreams he had. And in 2012, Lane left the States and returned to Germany, where his mother’s family still resides.

Lane participated in the second season of The Voice of Germany, eventually finishing third. His cover of Sarah McLachlan‘s “Angel” and his own original song “Mrs. Lawless” both placed in the Top 50 of the German Music Charts — and with a growing national profile, the Berlin-based singer/songwriter wound up playing at some of Germany’s largest, best known venues. Since then, Lane has released three albums and toured across Europe with his work amassing over 2 million Spotify streams and 1 million YouTube views to date.

 

Slated for release this fall, his self-produced, fourth album Traveling Son thematically finds Lane sharing intimate moments about both his childhood and his adulthood — while sonically, the material is subtly influenced by jazz. Traveling Son‘s latest single “Believe” is a carefully crated, beguiling pop song centered around Lane’s crystalline and plaintive vocals, strummed, acoustic guitar, blasts of shimmering electric guitar, and a huge, anthemic hook. And throughout, the song encourages and dares the listener to stop sitting on the sidelines and go for their dreams.

 

New Audio: Koncept Teams up with Royce da 5’9″ and Wrist.the.Greatest on an Uplifting Banger

Born Keith Michael Whitehead, Koncept is an acclaimed Queens-born emcee, who has led a remarkable life: while working at Fat Beats Records, he co-founded The Brown Bag AllStars with co-founders Soul Khan, Cold Codeine, J57 and The Audible Doctor in 2007. The collective’s 2009 debut mixtape The Brown Tape was released through Coalmine Records while the members of the act were working at Fat Beats — and they followed that up with an attention-grabbing appearance at that year’s Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival.

Building on a growing profile, the members of The Brown Bag All Stars released two EPs in 2010 — The Traveller and The Down Under Remixes. Adding to a busy year, Koncept released his debut EP Playing Life. 2011 saw the release of the first of their annual end-of-year A Year In Review compilations and Brown Bag Season Vol. 1, which featured guest spots from DJ Brace and Marco Polo. While the collective was beginning to receive a larger profile, Koncept’s 2012 full-length debut Awaken, which featured guest appearances from Soul Khan, JOVM mainstay Homeboy Sandman, Royce da 5’9″ and Sene with production from J57 and Marco Polo established the Queens-born emcee as a solo artist in his own right; in fact, as a result of the attention from his debut, Koncept received an endorsement by Red Bull that financed his 2015 critically acclaimed J57-produced The Fuel EP.

After the release of The Fuel, Koncept went to Seoul, South Korea for a two-week tour sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft and Jameson — and those performances developing into more shows and bookings, and eventually a partnership with Sony Music Asia, who released his sophomore effort 14 Hours Ahead, an effort that thematically centered around envisioning your future and dreams, growing and believing in yourself every step of the way, and manifesting them into reality. So far, adding to a growing profile, the Queens-born emcee has also collaborated with the likes of Rick Ross, Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign, Macklemore, Wiz Khalifa, The Roots, Joey Bada$$, Green Day, A$AP Mob, Ghostface Killah and Joell Ortiz.

Earlier this year, the Queens-born JOVM mainstay released a one-off Ray Hill produced single “Countdown,” which found him effortlessly changing his flow and cadences several times throughout an eerie production consisting of chiming synths and stuttering, boom bap beats. And while employing some mischievous wordplay and rhyme scenes, the song finds the emcee and his narrator being both reflective and introspective, as he recalls his missteps, those who counted him out and his desire to keep moving towards the bigger and better things he’s just beginning to see at the end of the proverbial tunnel. The song serves as a reminder that achieving your dreams requires you to sacrifice, bust your ass and believe in yourself even when things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped. And perhaps more important, there’s no such thing as overnight success.

Slated for release later this summer, the Queens-based emcee’s forthcoming Champagne Konny comes after spending two years on the road — with the bulk of it in Asia, including a sold-out tour with Scoop Deville. And while on the road, Koncept discovered a new perspective on his life and his career, which have deeply influenced his work. Interestingly, “Watch the Sky Fall,” which featured Royce da 5’9″ was the lead single off Koncept’s debut album Awaken and it’s remix, “Watch The Sky Fall 2” is a bold remix, inspired by tapping into where it all started — but with a zest and desire for a new life; in fact, the track features a new verse from Koncept, Royce da 5’9″‘s imitable flow paired with a thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking production by Wrist.the.Greatest and Keitel, Jr. reminiscent of Too Short. Throughout, the song features a defiantly positive message: when your life seems to be falling apart, and you’re feeling broken and about to go down for the count, hold on, get up and push forward. 

 

Titus Calderbank is an up-and-coming Vancouver, British Columbia-based singer/songwriter and musician, who according to his Facebook fan page is “determined to create songs that inspire and motivate.” Calderbank’s latest single “Mistakes” is an sparsely arranged yet heartfelt and anthemic ballad, centered around twinkling piano, soaring organ, strummed guitar and the Vancouver-based singer/songwriter’s soulful and aching Sam Fender-like vocals.

Recorded at Vancouver’s Echoplant Sound Studio with Ryan Worsley, the song as Calderbank explains in press notes “is a song about failure and regret. A song about missing the mark. It’s also a song of redemption and asking for forgiveness. Humans often fail short. At the end of the day, we have to a accept that we’re tall trying our best.” Calderbank adds, “What I hope to communicate through this song is that mercy and forgiveness are always an option. We can either be slaves to our past mistakes or make peace with them and move on. We can grace our enemies with forgiveness or we can die with bitter hearts.”

 

 

Taylor Knox is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who can trace the origins of his musical career to over a decade ago, when he was recruited to play drums for The Golden Dogs, an act that was considered one of Canada’s criminally under-appreciated bands — and coincidentally, one of Knox’s favorite bands, too.

During his stint with The Golden Dogs, Knox forged friendships with several other bandmembers, who all go on to form Zeus. As a result of Zeus, Knox was a frequent presence at the band’s Toronto studio Ill Eagle, which naturally offered him the perfect environment and the opportunity to begin experimenting with his own original material. Interestingly, Knox and his then-newly formed Zeus were tapped by Jason Collett to be his regular backing band — and it brought him into contact with an even wider circle of musicians, including Luke Doucet, whom he joined on Doucet’s tour to support his acclaimed Steel City Traveler. He also joined Hayden for the Us Alone recording sessions and subsequent tour. He also played with acclaimed Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Rich Aucoin.

With the release of the Lines EP and his full-length debut Love, Knox stepped out into the spotlight, crafting anthemic power pop that has drawn comparisons to acclaimed and highly influential Canadian power pop act Sloan and others. Slated for a June 7, 2019 release, Knox’s sophomore album Here Tonight thematically focuses on the mystery, stillness and artistic inspiration of the night; in fact, Knox’s tendency to be a night owl was a major influence on the album. And when he started writing the material that would eventually comprise his forthcoming sophomore album, he focused on precisely what he was thinking about — and what he wanted to do and say with it. He didn’t want to waste the insight that nighttime has always given him.“I really try to make sure the songs I write come from a place of not something I want to write but something I kind of have to get out. What I’m feeling below what I’m thinking,” Knox says in press notes.

Sonically speaking, the album, which sees Knox working with Josh Korody reportedly sees Knox continuing with the power pop that has won him attention — fuzzy and /or crunchy power chords, forceful drumming and rousingly anthemic hooks; but he sought guidance and inspiration from much more contemporary artists like The Weeknd, SZA and Prince in terms of production and songwriting, as well as the legendary Joni Mitchell. In fact, Korody’s production helped to add new textures to his overall sound, thanks to the incorporation of synths and keyboards to create glistening gutter tones. Knox also worked with Rob Schnapf in Los Angeles, who helped make one song reportedly to sound like one of the best Oasis songs to never appear on an Oasis album.

Interestingly, what sets the Toronto-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s sophomore album apart from this previously released work is a free flowing spontaneity that was encouraged by Korody and Schnapf — and that left room for unrestrained creativity. Doing this, he says, “leaves a little bit of room for discovery with the collaborator and room for their influence. I’ve always tried to do that but I did it more this time because I have confidence that I’ll be able to come up with it on the spot.” Adding to that, Knox brought in a number of Toronto’s finest musicians to collaborator for the sessions including July Talks‘ Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay and Tokyo Police Club‘s Dave Monks.

Here Tonight‘s latest single is the rousingly anthemic, Live It Up.” Centered around fuzzy power chords, forceful drumming, a big arena rock friendly hook and an ethereal falsetto, the track recalls 120 Minutes alt rock — in particular, The Posies, The Breeders, Smashing Pumpkins and even more contemporary acts like Silversun Pickups but with the free-flowing air of a bunch of guys jamming and coming up with something incredibly cool and full of furious passion.

 

 

Manchester UK-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Till is the creative mastermind of the buzz worthy dark wave recording project Ghosts of Social Networks. Citing the likes of The Cure, Bauhaus, Echo and the Bunnymen, Nick Cave, The National and Radiohead, the project according to Till upcycles old-school forms of songwriting while applying a fresh sonic veneer to them, reportedly pairing innovation with a timeless sense of melodicism.

Till’s Ghost of Social Networks debut single “Love Potion” began a string of acclaimed singles praised for their production and overall sound from the likes of BBC Introducing, several zines across the UK and the blogosphere — and he’s received airplay from Steve Lamacq‘s program and BBC 6 Music. All of this built up quite a bit of buzz before the release of his debut EP, My Lucifer.  Interestingly, Till’s latest Ghost of Social Networks single “Don’t Let Me Down” manages to effortlessly recall Heaven Up Here-era Echo and the Bunnymen, as its centered around a brooding and forceful rhythm section, angular guitar lines, an anthemic hook, the song captures a tempestuous and swooning love affair — the sort in which the song’s narrator may recognize will end in disaster.

 

Deriving their name from Wallace Stevens’ 1934 poem “The Idea of Order at Key West,” in which Stevens examines the creative powers of the human mind, and “to what extent artists are capable of creating, redefining or mastering the natural world around themselves,” the up-and-coming Brooklyn indie rock act Pale Ramon features two grizzled, New York scene vets — Emanuel and The Fear‘s Emanuel Ayvas (vocals, keys) and former Monuments and Oceanographer Kevin Plessner (guitar).

The duo’s self-titled debut is slated for release next Friday, and the album’s first single,  “Beat Punk” is a fiery call for young people, artists, academics, Progressives, Liberals and Lefties to get off their asses, stop tweeting and get to work towards fixing what’s wrong with the world before it’s too late — and as a result, the song is an ardent an urgent, politically charged rock anthem centered around a breakneck motorik groove, rousing hooks that sonically brings Radiohead and Who Are You-era The Who to mind.

The band’s Plessner wrote to PopMatters that the song is a “melt your face rock song,” adding that “it’s a response to everyone who says, ‘They’re just tweets, don’t take [Trump] literally’ and ‘That’s just how he talks.’ It is an expression of anger and fury at political distortion. It’s about demanding civility and truth.” Ayvas concurs, while also clarifying that he and Plessner are trying to be “objective” with their social commentary. “In this song, we’re more in the narrator’s seat, looking at things playing out and describing the two sides of big emotions going on in the country than preaching from a particular sideline,” he notes.