Category: New Single

Emerging Swedish industrial synth pop act LINES can trace its origins to when its founding trio — Erik, Fred and Nisse — traveled to Berlin, with the expressed purpose of losing themselves in that hedonism of its nightlife. As the story goes, as though under the influence of a higher power, lines were drawn and blueprints made of the sort of music that they wanted to create. Although the band was born in Berlin, the band’s roots are in Stockholm‘s indie scene. Interestingly, they manage to continue a long-held tradition of high-powered synth-based and hook-driven synth pop pioneered by the likes of The Knife, Teddybears and others but thematically centered around isolation, escapism and what the band calls “obsessive and destructive love” — and they do with some subtle political leanings. “We’re not Rage Against The Machine in our police, but we try to express some kind of social commentary between the lines.”

Along with crafting politically charged material, the trio are boldly and defiantly DIY — writing, producing and mixing their own work in their self-built studio. They’ve also self-directed and produced the bulk of their videos and thrown their own 24 hour release parties; however, the band is ambitious and they have their sights set on using their non-conformist pop to make a connection with audiences in their native Sweden and beyond.    Perhaps unsurprisingly, the band’s the band has a growing national and international profile — their single “You” has amassed more than 6 million streams, and renowned Swedish pop artist Tove Lo has championed them.

The trio’s latest single “People,” which finds the trio collaborating with Adele Kosman is centered around lush layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and an infectious, sing-along worthy, anthemic hook that I can envision people shouting along to, while having their arms draped around their friend’s shoulders. The track will further cement the Swedish trio’s growing reputation for wildly euphoric and futuristic synth pop.

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Danny Murcia is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, founding member and creative mastermind of Los Angeles-based bilingual indie rock act El Mañana. As an English major in college, Murcia immersed himself in magical realism, a major tenet of modernist and post-modernist Latin American literature, and after graduating, he was able to marry his loves for language and music as a songwriter. Interestingly, the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter wound up penning a number of songs that were recorded by mainstream radio and as a result of the attention he received as a go-to songwriter, Murcia wound up as part of the major label system, signing a record deal with a major label that released a single; however, it didn’t take long for Murcia to to realize that he was a commodity in a machine that wanted to exploit his Colombian heritage — and that the label was actively trying to mold him into a white person’s version of a Latino pop star. At the end of the experience, he felt as though is creative energy was sapped.

El Mañana finds Murcia returning to his original dream of what he wanted his sound and music to be: insightful, earnestly emotional and bilingual rock driven by enormous power chords and plaintive vocals. As the story goes, Murcia who suffers from bipolar disorder began writing material for this new project while he was battling cancer, having to undergo multiple surgeries before the cancer went into remission. During his recovery, he read the works of Pablo Neruda and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which long informed his own work.

“Gota En El Mar,” the Los Angeles-based band’s latest single sonically manages to bridge the dreamy psych pop of Tame Impala and Washed Out with enormous Siamese Dream Smashing Pumpkins-era like  power chords fed through distortion and other effects pedals, thumping drumming and arena rock friendly hooks — but most importantly, the song is a swooningly urgent and earnest song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Tony Davia, Lou Connor and Lauren Potts, the Long Beach, CA-based indie pop trio Younger Hunger can trace their origins to night of playing Nintendo 64 and drinking milkshakes — and unsurprisingly, the trio’s sound is influenced quite a bit by old video games to further emphasize their material’s themes of nostalgia, young adulthood and its seemingly prerequisite anxiety. Additionally, the band’s sound and approach is influenced by The Teenagers, The Smiths, and MGMT among others.

The Long Beach, CA-based pop trio’s Adam Castilla-produced debut EP is slated for a December 7, 2018 release and the EP’s latest single, the strutting “Dead Inside” is centered around a slinky and sultry hook featuring cowbell, a propulsive bass line, twinkling keys and boom bap-like beats — and while there may be some video game influence, the song to my ears sounds as though it were influenced by The Killers, The Rapture and others, as it’s a radio friendly banger that could rock a club; but underneath the song’s sleekness, the song’s narrator expresses anxiety about love, selling out and not quite knowing what he wants from his life — things that actually are concerns throughout most of our lives. As the band’s Tony Davia explains in press notes, We were all at this party and I was having a bad night. So we all left to go hang out at our studio and play some N64. We ended up jamming and that’s when we wrote the hook over an old cowbell loop. We wanted all of the synth tones to sound like Street Fighter II style arcade sounds to commemorate the night. The whole thing came together really quickly, and it does a good job of representing our EP.”

 

Comprised of Sólveig Matthildur,  Margrét Rósa and Laufey Soffía, the Reykjavik, Iceland-based synth-based post-punk act Kælan Mikla have had a breakthrough year so far: they played a critically applauded set at this year’s Roadburn Festival, were championed by The Cure’s Robert Smith and toured with King Dude — and all of this before the release of their forthcoming album Nótt eftir nott, which is slated for a November 9, 2018 release through Artoffact Records.

The members of the Icelandic post-punk trio will be playing an album release show on November 8, 2018 at this year’s Iceland Airwaves but before then, the album’s first official single is the chilly yet dance floor friendly, synth-led track “Nornalagið” — and the track, which is centered by a motorik groove and punctuated by piercing wailing manages to be both eerily atmospheric and cinematic, evoking a storm rolling across enormous skies.

 

 

 

 

 

Initially formed back in 2009 as Sister Crayon, the acclaimed Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo  Rituals of Mine, comprised of  Terra Lopez and Dani Fernandez developed a national profile through years of relentless touring up and down the West Coast, playing house shows, DIY venues, basement rooms, followed by touring with the likes of The Album Leaf, Built to Spill, Antemasque, Le Butcherettes, Maps & Atlases, Doomtree and others. Adding to a quickly growing profile, the Los Angeles-based duo’s first two albums — 2011’s Bellow and 2013’s Cynic — were released to critical acclaim, while cementing a reputation for crafting cathartic material centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, soulful vocals and trip hop-inspired production.

2015’s Wes Jones-produced album Devoted continued their successful run of critical applause with the album landing on a number of indie “Top Ten Albums of 2015” lists; but despite the attention the album received, that year was a rather harrowing and difficult year for the duo’s Terra Lopez, as her father committed suicide and several months later, her best friend Lucas Johnson died in a tragic accident. Reeling from the grief of such profoundly unexpected loss, the duo felt the need to put the Sister Crayon name to rest, moving forward with their new mane Rituals of Mine. As Terra Lopez wrote at the time, “It was a mantra that I repeated under my breath on a daily basis when the loss I was experiencing felt too heavy at times. Music, the act of creating, performing, touring, writing, singing, experimenting – all the rituals we have created to get through life.”

2016 saw the re-issue of the Tom Coyne re-mastered Devoted through Warner Brothers Records and the re-issue featured some previous unreleased remixes and B-sides. And although some time has passed since I’ve personally written about the acclaimed Los Angeles-based pop duo, Lopez and Fernandez have been incredibly busy — earlier this year, they opened for a number of dates for The Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill’s co-headliing tour, and they’re currently opening for Garbage during the multi-plantium Grammy Award-winning band’s US tour. Additionally, the duo recently announced their first UK tour in November with Geographer and The Seshen. They’re also currently working on Devoted‘s follow up with longtime producer Wes Jones and Neal Pogue — and the first batch of new material from the duo is the righteously furious anti-Trump anthem “No Time To Go Numb.” Centered around a hyper modern production featuring stuttering and thumping beats, distorted vocal samples over which Lopez sings and spits fire, reminding the listener, that now isn’t the time to slink back from the horrors of a power mad and greedy administration; that it’s time to be fueled by righteous anger and fight like hell for the things that truly matter. As the duo’s Terra Lopez explains in press notes ” We started writing this song on Inauguration Day. It was a bleak time in the studio and we were feeling very hopeless, like most of the country. Two years later and the collective fear and disgust we all felt is still there, if not compounded, and that really inspired every lyric in this song. I wanted to address things that stay on my mind: the mediocrity of men and how our society treats womxn, the strength of the LGBTQ community and the resiliency of POC. I’m angry but also hopeful and ready to fight, to keep fighting. I’m so tired of seeing the same shit repeat itself – it’s time we set the bar higher. This song is an anthem for the LGBTQ community, to womxn and to people of color.

We carry so much on our shoulders, on our hearts. And this current administration continues to burden us and place us in danger, so we have to stick together. This is my way of showing up for us. “

Over the years I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based electronic music duo and JOVM mainstays Beacon, and as you recall, the duo, which is comprised of Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gusset (production) have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound and a generally minimalist production approach that subtly draws from R&B, house music and electro pop paired with Mullarney’s aching and tender falsetto. A couple of years had passed since I had written about the but recently the duo quietly returned with the somber “Losing My Mind,” a bold and decided sonic departure centered around a sparse arrangement of piano, a brief burst of synths and Mullarney’s aching and mournful falsetto. As the duo’s Jacob Gusset explained in press notes, the song was originally written on piano but eventually swelled into a full-bodied arrangement before reverting back to its original shell. “I came back from a trip and Tom had a new edit that was completely stripped back. Sometimes, it just takes those infinite iterations to finally crack the code.”  By stripping down their sound to its most essential — Mullarney’s vocals and a simple arrangement, it reveals the vulnerability that’s always been at the core of their material with Mullarney singing longingly of desiring stability — whether romantic or spiritually, and of the comfort of knowing that a loved one would remain by your side in the darkest and most desperate of times. Certainly, in our

Interestingly, “Losing My Mind” turned out to be the first single from the duo’s third full-length album, Gravity Pairs, slated for a November 2, 2018 release through their longtime label home, Ghostly International.  As the story goes, after recording a couple of EPs, their first two full-length albums and going on several tours to support their recorded efforts, Mullarney and Gossett returned home, knowing that the new material they would soon write wound find the duo going off into a completely different direction. Together, they embarked on open-ended writing sessions, adopting a more linear style of songwriting instead of the loop and texture-driven method they had long used. The demos they wrote were essentially built around piano chords and guitar phrases with vocal melodies, which they edited in a number of iterations that found them looking through each from a multitude of angles and directions. Naturally, some songs expanded and others they pared back. Like the bending of light through a prism, the abstract, deeply patient, almost painterly creative process, eventually found the material they wound up writing outlined in a space in which seemingly separate colors — minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals and driving dance tunes — can coexist at different speeds, spreading out like a spectrum. With each iteration, the duo also found themselves expanding upon how they can be present the material within a live setting. They could play the material in a straightforward fashion — or they could play the same material in a different fashion that added or subtracted color and shading, depending on the circumstances, their moods and their desires.

“All matter is created by dividing gravity into pairs,” the 20th Century scientific mystic Walter Russell once wrote. His “new world thought” writings and musically-informed schematic drawings were idiosyncratic, and were incredibly fringe for their time. As Beacon’s Mullarney details a bit further in press notes, “’Gravity Pairs’ is how Walter Russell describes the rhythmic order of the universe. I kept reading ‘pairs’ as both a noun and verb; simultaneously the elemental units of Russell’s balanced universe and the process that brings us together.”

Be My Organ,” Gravity Pairs’ second single was centered around a foggy yet up-tempo production centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths four-on-the-floor beats, Mullarney’s tender falsetto and an alternating quiet-loud-quiet song structure that gives the song a simultaneously undulating and swooning feel, and while finding the JOVM mainstays pushing their songwriting and sound in a unique and new direction, much like its predecessor there’s an underlying vulnerable and aching yearning. “On Ice,” the forthcoming album’s third and latest single finds shimmering synth notes arpeggiating along a motorik beat as Mullarney repeats in his imitable falsetto fed through effects — mostly echo and delay as the song builds up from slow-burning simmer to a strobe light-like coda. Much like its predecessors, the song is a subtle yet trippy expansion and retooling of their sound.

 

 

 

 

 

Rosie Carney is a Hampshire, UK-born, Donegal, Ireland-based singer/songwriter and guitarist. Inspired by the rugged and picturesque landscapes of her adopted home, Carney began writing music — and when she turned 15, she left school to showcase her work in New York and Los Angeles, and shortly thereafter was signed to a major label.  In 2013, the British-born, Irish-based singer/songwriter and guitarist added to a rapidly growing profile with a performance on Ireland’s leaning live music TV series Other Voices, as well as sets at Bushstock Festival, Latitude Festival, Electric Picnic Festival, Seven Layers Festival and SXSW. Additionally, Carney opened for Haux on a 28-date tour of 12 countries that included stops in the US and Canada.

While navigating a meteoric rise to national and international attention, Carney grappled with depression and an eating disorder, both a result of deep personal trauma. Simultaneously, she struggled to assert herself creatively in the major label system as she faced pressure to co-write and change her name — before leaving the major label system altogether. Carney’s highly-anticipated debut album Bare which features her collaboration with Lisa HanniganThousand,” is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Akira Records is reportedly informed by the twists and turns of her professional an personal life, while further cementing her growing reputation for writing material that’s cathartic and empowering.

Bare‘s latest single is the  gorgeous “Orchid” which is centered around a soaring string arrangement, strummed acoustic guitar, Carney’s achingly tender vocals, a simple backbeat and some additional tremolo guitar that thematically seems to focus on a profound, inconsolable loss. As Carney mentions in press notes, As the song developed, I saw the opportunity to really expand beyond my usual production and it’s now the most layered song on the album, with strings, drums, tremolo guitar etc. I could just hear the strings while working on the demo and when it came time to actually track them, we used Radiohead’s “Nude” and some of Lana Del Rey’s dreamier tracks as a reference—two artists that are huge influences on me.”

 

 

With a handful of singles and their full-length debut Vaporwave, the Washington, DC-based indie electro rock and synth pop sextet Color Palette, comprised of Jay Nemeyer (vocals, guitar), Josh Hunter (guitar, keys, bass), Matt Hartenau (drums), Rogerio Naressi (keys) and Maryjo Mattea (vocals) received attention both locally and internationally from the likes of NME MagazineUSA Today, NPR and Impose Magazine— and adding to a growing profile, the band has shared bills with  Charli XCX, The Naked and Famous, Mother Mother, Day Wave, Yumi Zouma, Mr. Little Jeans, The Kickback, Spirit Animal, VanLadyLove and others.

Up until late last month, some time had passed since I had come across the DC-based sextet but as you may recall, the band had been busy working on their sophomore album, which is currently slated for release sometime next year — and the album’s first single “Sunburn,” was a breezy and anthemic track centered around shimmering and jangling guitar lines, ethereal electronics and a soaring hook paired with a wistful vocal that evokes the passing of summer, and the impending end of another year. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Chelsea” is a synth-based track that some have compared favorably to Depeche Mode, although to my my ears, the song recalls St. Lucia as the members of Color Palette layer of arpeggiated synths are paired with angular and hanging guitar chords, an a propulsive rhythm section — and while much like its predecessor, the song reveals a band that can craft a razor sharp and infectious hook, “Chelsea” may arguably be the most ambitious, arena rock friendly track they’ve written and released to date.

 

Led by songwriter/producer and founder of Ice Queen Records and founding member Joseph Lekkas, the Nashville-based indie rock act Palm Ghosts can trace its origins back
to when Lekkas lived in Philadelphia. As the story goes, after spending a number of years playing in local bands like Grammar Debate! and Hilliard, Lekkas took a lengthy hiatus from writing and performing music to book shows and festivals in and around the Philadelphia area. Initially began as a solo recording project and creative way for Lekkas to deal with an incapacitating bout of depression and anxiety after discovering that music was his only way out the mire. So Lekkas spent a long Philadelphia winter recording a batch of introspective songs that he dubbed “sun-damaged American music’ that would eventually become the Palm Ghost debut album.
After a short tour in 2013 to support the Palm Ghost debut album, Lekkas packed up his belongings and relocated to Nashville, enticed by the city’s growing indie rock scene. Once he settled in to his new hometown, Lekkas set up a small home studio in the guest bedroom of a rental house on Greenland Avenue in East Nashville, where he eventually wrote and recorded the sophomore Palm Ghosts album, last year’s Greenland, an album that found him employing elements of electro pop, folk and indie rock that was influenced by his new hometown’s long-held song-is-king culture. Last May, the Palm Ghost founding member began working on the third Palm Ghosts album Architecture, an album heavily influenced by the sounds of the 80s — in particular, Cocteau Twins, Peter Gabriel, Dead Can Dance, New Order and The Cure among others. The album’s first single “Turn the Knife” is a hook-driven bit of 80s post-punk that will recall New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen and others but centered by the two part male/female harmonies, angular guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section and a bitter sense of betrayal and distrust.
As Lekkas told me via email, “‘Turn the Knife’ is basically a song about betrayal in love — or a one sided relationship that ends badly. It was written and recorded in my studio here in Nashville. My influences are all over the map but I’m an enormous fan of 80s post punk and New Wave music, so perhaps that shines through to you in the song? Basically, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Chameleons and The Jesus and Mary Chain are big influences.”

 

 

 

Comprised of founding members Kasi “KC” Nunes (vocals) Matt Kato (drums) and Jasio Savio (guitar) with Tim Corker (bass), Ken Lykes (keys) and DJ Packo, the Honolulu, HI-based sextet Kings Of Spade can trace their origins back to when Nunes,  a self-described “somber, closeted queer kid, who felt soul and blues music,” was bartending at Honolulu’s Anna Bananas and was pulled up on the stage to sing. “They started playing ‘Sweet Child O’Mine,” Nunes says in press notes.  “I started singing and was like ‘Hey, I sound pretty good.”
Interestingly, Jasio Savio frequently sat in with the bar’s house band. “He wasn’t old enough to drink,” Nunes recalls. “But he would start and rip these Johnny Cash tunes.” As the story goes, they were both impressed by each other. “You feel this energy when she sings,” Savio says. “My first thought was ‘Damn, she’s going to be famous.’” Nunes approached Savio and suggested they start a band. They recruited Matt Kato, a local punk rock drummer and played with a revolving door of bassists until they found Tim Corker. As a quartet that played power chord-based blues riff rock, they didn’t find their hometown to be very receptive to their sound — although Nunes took it upon herself to book club shows that featured the band alongside local DJs, artists and other bands. After amassing a decent local following, the band relocated to Southern California in 2006 to chase their dreams. But as Nunes and Kato quickly found out, the big city isn’t very welcoming; in fact, they were barely scarping by — and they were forced to sell their blood for cash. “Everyone at the clinic looked down-on-their-luck,” Nunes remembers. “I was hooked up to a plasma machine, reading the self-help books. This was the lowest point in my life.”
After three years of crushing let-downs and disappointment, Nunes, Savio and Kato quit their jobs and gave up their shared apartment in preparation for a lengthy tour that was just booked by their new manager; however, he disappeared once they figured out that there wasn’t an actual tour. They returned home to Hawaii, and ironically enough, upon their return, they finally began to have much better fortune. Several years later, the band played at SXSW, where former Headbanger’s Ball host and MTV VJ Riki Rachtman caught them — and after catching them, he booked them to play a show commemorating the 30th anniversary of his old metal club, The Cathouse, best known for giving rise to Guns N’ Roses. Around the same time, they met Sue Damon, the ex-wife of The Beach Boys‘ Mike Love. “She was a huge supporter of ours, bought us a new drum set. She was a total free spirit, who could party all of us under under the table. She ended up passing away. But all of us have her initials tattooed on us.”
The band’s self-titled Dave Cobb-produced full-length was recorded in Nashville over the course of two weeks.  “He produced a band I like, Rival Sons, which had this old-school sound with modern energy—like, analog-tape soul built into it,” Jesse says, admiringly. Now, as you may recall, I wrote about album single “Bottom’s Up,” a swaggering and stomping bluesy ripper and party anthem inspired by their late friend and patron
Sue Damon, and their own experiences partying ridiculously hard that sounds as though it were influenced by Highway to Hell-era AC/DC, Electric Blue Watermelon-era North Mississippi All Stars and The Black Keys — all while further cementing their reputation for boozy, power chord centered, riff-based rock. Released in time for National Coming Out Day, the album’s latest single “Strange Bird,” is a anthemic song centered around Led Zeppelin-like power chords and Nunes’ own experiences coming out, that proudly says “go out there and march to the beat of your own drum because life is short!” May this song be a call for arms for anyone, who’s struggling to find themselves in an unforgiving world.