Category: Single Review

Vancouver-based electro pop duo Carbon Mass — multi-instrumentalist and producer Sina Lankarani, and vocalist and guitarist Tim Clariddge — can trace their origins to a chance meeting back in 2016. And since their formation, the members of Carbon Mass have been busy developing and honing their sound while writing and releasing material that the duo say is informed by Radiohead and David Bowie‘s Blackstar.

The duo’s latest single “French Call Girl” is a carefully crafted song centered around shimmering guitar, atmospheric synths, skittering beats, a motorik-like groove, a soaring hook that serves as an chilly bed for Claridge’s plaintive, Thom Yorke-like vocals. And while their sound continues to sound informed by Radiohead and Blackstar-era Bowie, to my ears, I also hear JOVM mainstays Palace Winter‘s Nowadays album. In other words, hook driven and breezy pop that’s paired with sobering thematic concerns.

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New Audio: DeLaurentis Returns with a Cinematic and Expansive Single

hing her father play music. As a young girl, she understood that music notes would spring up and fly away from her arms, hands and fingers — that music was essentially a part of her. 

where she began working on material with keyboards, sequencers, computers and other electronics. Inspired by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Max Richter, Brian Eno, Oneothrix Point Never, and Laurie Anderson, DeLaurentis developed and honed a lush and cinematic sound featuring modern and vintage analog synthesizers, piano, loop machines and arpeggiators paired with her ethereal vocals. 

After developing her sound, she relocated to Paris, where she released her first two EPs, which featured some attention grabbing videos. Several tracks off those early releases wound up being placed on commercials and American TV shows. Building upon a growing profile, DeLaurentis began working on the material that would become her full-length debut Unica in a spacious and luminous Paris studio, where over the next two years, she intensified her relationship between her instruments and modern technology. As for the album, Unica is a concept album that tells the tale of the fusion between woman and machine. While Unica finds DeLaurentis collaborating with Dan Black, Yaron Herman, Daymark and Fabien Waltmann, the album prominently features a track recorded with artificial intelligence, supervised by Benoit Carré, a pioneer in A.I.

Late last year, I wrote about the album’s incredibly cinematic first single “Life,” which featured shimmering, Giorgio Moroder-like synth arpeggios, soaring strings, skittering, tweeter and woofer rocking trap beats and DeLaurentis’ ethereal and plaintive vocals singing lyrics that draws from one of the more famous lines in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “It is a tale/Told but an idiot, full of sound and fury,/Signifying nothing.” Seemingly inspired by Thematically seeming as though it were influenced by Spike Jonze’s Her or Steven Spielberg’s AI, “Life” tells the tale of Unica coming alive and bursting out from the screen that contained her. The song goes on to have the fictional DeLaurentis and Unica meeting each other and observing each other with curiosity — and a bit of fear of what may be next for both. 

Unica’s latest single “Be A Woman” continues a run of densely layered and incredibly cinematic material. Centered around looped classical-like piano arpeggios by Yaron Herman paired with arpeggiated synths, soaring strings, handclaps, soaring vocal harmonies the arrangement serves as a sumptuous and satiny bed for the French artist’s plaintive vocals, which manage to express awe, confusion and fear — within a turn of a phrase.

“I got the idea for this song after a hypnosis session, where I relived the same scene 3 times. First in a subjective way, then in a meta position (by being outside the scene, in observation) then a third time by imagining a double, a new version of myself that would take me by the hand, getting me out of this situation and took me to Sunset Boulevard where we would rollerblade towards the beach and the sunset!” DeLaurentis says of the inspiration behind the song — and the album. “This double is UNICA, the one I call my digital sister. It was in this state of hypnosis that I first met her. In this initiatory journey, she guided me and whispered to me these words “You’ll be more than kings, more than gods… you’ll be a woman” in reference to the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling “you’ ll be a Man, my son!” but in a feminine version. I had the chance to collaborate on this song with the talented jazz pianist Yaron Herman where during an improvisation session he had the idea of ​​this piano arpeggio. This sequence of chords evoking momentum, awakening was the ideal ground to illustrate our rollerblading descent with Unica on Sunset Boulevard. And also with the English producer Dan Black with whom we explored all the roughness and sounds hidden behind this arpeggio. Using multiple effects pedals, we re-recorded analog synths (oberheim / prophet) in arpeggiator form by playing them back in amps, with old RE20 type mics. The goal was to bring as much life as possible to the digital parts by integrating randomness into them and giving rise to what are called ‘happy accidents.’ These so-called ‘human’ errors. This piece is therefore the result of a long musical and philosophical reflection and of beautiful human and artistic encounters.”

New Audio: Brooklyn’s Water From Your Eyes Release a Brooding 60s Psych Pop Inspired Single

With the release of their full-length debut, 2016’s Long Days, No Dreams, the Brooklyn-based indie act Water From Your Eyes — This is Lorelei’s Nate Amos and thanks for coming’s Rachel Brown — quickly established a restlessly experimental songwriting approach and sound that finds them grafting sonic ideas together in a ways that feel incongruous before revealing their own inner logic.

Slated for an August 27. 2021 release through Wharf Cat Records, the Brooklyn duo’s forthcoming album Structure reportedly features some of their most overtly pop leaning material of their catalog — while still hewing to their reputation for being experimental. Interestingly, Structure’s second and latest single, “When You’re Around” is sort of drunken lurch centered around a twinkling keys, a shimmering guitar solo, a stately French horn arrangement and a gorgeous harmony paired with Rachel Brown’s vocals, which manage to be simultaneously deadpan yet heartbroken. Sonically, the carefully crafted and sculptured “When You’re Around” brings The Carpenters and Scott Walker to mind: it’s deceptively upbeat but upon closer listens, it reveals itself as being a bit fucked up.

Walker (still am) and I think that had a lot to do with it. Light on the outside, spooky on the inside. It serves as sort of separate but thematically related scene to set the tone for the rest of the album.

New Audio: Rising Miami-based Artist Calica Releases an Infectious Banger

Calica is a rising Miami-born and-based singer/songwriter and producer, who can trace the origins of her music career to taking piano and voice lessons when she was six. She attended various performing art schools, eventually graduating from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. After graduating, the Miami-born and-based singer/songwriter and producer began writing and producing alongside Grammy-nominated production duo smle, working on her full-length debut Yes, It’s About You and “Superficial Love” and “Little Girl.”

Last April, Calica began posting on TikTok and within about six months, she amassed over 250,000 followers, 3.5 million likes and over 10 million views while displaying an ability to effortlessly bounce around different genres. Interestingly “Little Girl” went viral after she posted a Tiktok of her father’s reaction to the song — with the post itself being viewed over 3.7 million times. Since then, the rising artist has been writing and producing her own original material, as well as working with other artists and brands.

Calica’s latest single “Letting Go” is slickly produced banger centered around the Miami-based artist’s coquettish vocals, layered harmonies, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a sinuous bass line, skittering beats and a shout-along friendly hook. But underneath its club friendliness, the song’s narrator is grappling with loss, longing and the desire to have a relationship on her terms.

Lyric Video: Paris’ QLAPs Returns with a Glistening Banger

o create accessible, pop-leaning dance music. Earlier this week, I wrote about the French trio’s “I Can’t Wait,” an infectious and swaggering club banger that reminded me of Yelle and JOVM mainstays L’Imperatice.

I don’t want your love,” was released earlier this year, and it continues a run of club friendly material centered around glistening synth arpeggios, sultry vocals, tweeter and woofer thumping beats and a euphoria inducing hook within a song that expresses the coquettish — and somewhat confusing — push and pull of love and lust.

Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays Junaco — Shahanna Jaffer and Joey LaRosa — derive their name for a term that they say generally means rolling with the pace of life and enjoying the present; living and working with intention, and not just running on autopilot. Fittingly, much like the term that inspired their band’s name, Jaffer and LaRosa have developed and honed a deliberate creative approach that actively eschews the music industry’s commonly-held attempts to placate the blogosphere’s short attention span with constant releases of varying quality.

Over the past year though, the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays have released a batch of material including:

  • In Between (Reprise) ” an even more ethereal and softer take on their Omar Yakar-produced Awry EP single “In Between” that retained the confusing sensations of uncertainty and progress. 
  • Blue Room” a gorgeous bit of hook driven indie rock that’s both a sigh of contentedness and frustration that thematically touches upon a familiar concept to all of us — that home can be a place of safety, security, peace and love, as well as a place full of stifling boredom and uncertainty. 
  • Weight Of The World,” a slow-burning, Beach House-like track centered around Jaffer’s achingly soulful vocals paired with a gorgeous arrangement of lush and swirling layers of shimmering and jangling guitars drenched in reverb, atmospheric synths, a chugging rhythm section and a soaring hook. But at its core, the song dives headfirst into the experience of slowing down to look around and truly dig what’s around you.

The duo’s highly-anticipated Blue Room EP which is slated for a July 9, 2021 release through Side Hustle Records will be reportedly be a 360º music and art project inspired by “When we were writing the new tunes, we were listening to a lot of Amo AmoBig Thief, Rodrigo AmaranteSam Evian, Broncho & Hannah Cohen,”and others.

Building upon the pre-release buzz, the EP’s latest single “Paradise” continues a run of jangling and hook-driven dream pop featuring Jaffer’s gorgeous vocals. But this time also featuring muscular yet blown out drumming, twinkling keys, and reverb drenched feedback and effects. Interestingly, “Paradise” may arguably be the most person song that the duo have released to date: “The mind is a powerful tool – we have the ability to shift our perspective at any given moment with practice and control,” Junaco’s Shahanna Jaffer explains. “A strong sentiment I learned from my parents’ immigrant experience – that paradise is in your mind if you allow it. We have the habit of placing responsibility on a far away action: ‘when I move there, my life will be better’ but if we instead tried to look inward and felt every feeling genuinely, would we have an easier time adapting?” Joey LaRosa adds, “And while we all attempt to live in the present, it’s still important to take the past and future into account. You are who you are based on the past. And you are who you are based on what you want and what you envision your future to be.” 

With the release of their full-length debut, 2016’s Erasing Rock, the Trento, Italy-based soul/funk act Les Juex Sont Funk — currently Michele Bazzanella (bass, sound effects, percussion and production), Carlo Nardi (guitar, talk box, keys, flute, tenor sax, percussion and production), Maurizio Brugnara (keys), Stefano Malchiodi (drums, percussion), Emiliano Tamanani (trumpet, flugelhorn), Lorenzo Sighel (alto sax, soprano sax, rap), Marco Pisoni (tenor sax, baritone sax), Greta Marcolongo (vocals) and Shanthi Kumari Roat (vocals) — quickly established a sound centered around dance floor friendly grooves and propulsive basslines.

Since the release of Erasing Rock, the Italian funk outfit’s lineup has expanded with the addition of its horn section — while still being faithful to the groove. Interestingly. during a writing retreat, the expanded lineup decided to spark their musical chemistry by jamming in the style of acts like The Meters, Shuggie Otis, Roy Ayers, Parliament-Funkadelic and others. They created a groove centered around bass and guitar paired with tight-hitting drums and a touch Latin jazz-like horns. The end result was a composition that spiritually recalled The JBs, James Brown‘s legendary backing band titled “A Tribute to the J.B.s.” Centered around shuffling guitar, a sinuous bass line, funky drumming and a Maceo Parker-like horn line before hitting into its dance floor friendly groove, the song manages to recall the Godfather of Soul’s legendary hit-making period with an uncanny accuracy.

New Audio: Paris’ QLAPs releases an Infectious Club Banger

QLAPs is a Paris-based electro pop trio that features members QLAPs is a Paris-based electro pop trio — Zuvey, Emmanuelle Trance and Tom Miles — that features members, who come from very different backgrounds but have managed to create accessible, pop-leaning dance music.

The French trio’s latest single “I Can’t Wait” is an infectious and swaggering club friendly banger centered around skittering, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering synth arpeggios, sultrily delivered vocals, a shout-a-long chorus and an enormous hook. The end result is a song that brings Yelle and JOVM mainstays L’Imperatice to mind.

Glasgow, Scotland-based electronic act Union of Knives — currently founding member Chris Gordon (multi-instrumentalist, vocals, production), Dope Sick Fly’s Baton Rouge, LA-born, Glasgow-based Ant Thomaz (vocals) and The Kills‘ and Ladytron‘s Peter Kelly (drums) — can trace their origins back to 2004: Founding members Chris Gordon and Dave McClean met at Glasgow’s Nice ‘n’ Sleazy Bar, where McClean was working as a sound engineer in the bar’s venue space and Gordon was a bartending, while producing and touring with other bands. Gordon and McLean initially started working together as producers and engineers on material for local acts — and on remixes of the work of Snow Patrol and others.

McLean had met Aberdeen-born, Scotland-based singer/songwriter Craig Grant while doing sound for an acoustic night at Nice ‘n’ Sleazy. After meeting one night at the bar, Gordon and McLean invited Grant to work on some tracks they had started — and the early success of those sessions led to the formation of Union of Knives. With the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, 2006’s Violence and Birdsong quickly established a dark and brooding sound that references goth, industrial, trip hop and warped soul. The album also featured drum work from Peter Kelly, who later would join the band as a full-time member — and album single “Opposite Direction,” which appeared in episodes of The Vampire Diaries and Grey’s Anatomy. Their Atticus Ross co-produced sophomore album was recorded the following year and was shelved due to internal issues with their label.

Since then Gordon has been releasing material with other projects and continuing his production work with artists, Kelly went on to tour with The Kills and Layton while also becoming an acclaimed artist with his work being instrumental in the band’s visual aesthetic. Thomas eventually made his way to Scotland, becoming a member of Dope Sick Fly. Gordon produced some of Thomas’ work and after they realized an irresistible musical connection, Thomas officially joined the band last year. Over the course of last year, the newly constituted trio worked on their sophomore album Endless From The Start, which is slated for release through Three Hands Records later this year, ending the project’s 14 year hiatus.

Endless From The Start reportedly finds the band further establishing their brooding and cinematic sound while revealing material that’s diverse yet uplifting — even in its darkest moments. The Glasgow-based trio have released two singles to critical praise, “Like Butterflies” and “A Tall Tale,” which features Ladytron’s Helen Marnie. And building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the album’s third and latest single “There’s A River” is a brooding and dystopian track centered around ambient synths, thumping industrial beats, reverb-drenched vocals, sampled Eastern-like vocals and a soaring hook. While sonically bearing a resemblance to Massive Attack, the track reveals the’s act carefully sculptured layered production style.

“‘There’s a River’ is a song about going forward with clarity and pushing through the surrounding noise by simplifying the complex,” the band’s Anthony Thomaz says in press notes. The band’s Chris Gordon adds “If you like your dystopian soundscapes with a sprinkling of hope and a dream-like narrative then ‘There’s A River’ is the track for you.”

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Kekko is a Singapore-based psych rock/dream pop duo and married couple — multi-instrumentalist Tim Kek and vocalist Cherie Ko. Ko spent her teenaged years covering dream pop and shoegaze classics on YouTube, earning a cult following from fans of Slowdive, Beach House and My Bloody Valentine. But her musical career started in earnest with a stint as the frontperson of Bored Spies, an act that featured members of Seam.

Bored Spies managed to tour the US and Europe, including a notable stop at Primavera Sound Festival. But interestingly according to the band’s Cherie Ko, Kekko marks the first time that she has been able to fully embrace her authentic wholeness. And without self-imposed expectations and ideas of what music — in particular her music — should be, Ko feels the she now sings from a place of “warm transcendence,” where the music fully embodies who she is deep inside. Kekko’s Tim Kek is tasked with with the paradox of expressing the inexpressible through his compositions. Deeply steeped in Eastern philosophy, Kek’s work often “starts with just one night and a quiet contemplation” of how the sound makes him feel. He then builds and crafts melody-driven arrangements from his “heart cave,” a term that Ram Dass describes as “a place beyond all forms and lists, a place for letting go.” The end result is work that attempts to envision and encapsulates the expansiveness and magic of all realms of existence.

The Singaporean duo have exploded out the gate with their debut single “Past Lives,” which received praise from NME, Obscure Sound and Nevermind. The duo’s debut EP Dreaming Life is inspired by an ancient introspective musing by the ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi: Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.” The EP’s material reportedly feels strangely familiar yet simultaneously exciting and surreal.

Dreaming Life‘s second single, the slow-burning and painterly EP title track features Ko’s ethereal and plaintive vocals paired with shimmering synth arpeggios, an almost motorik-like groove and a soaring hook. While sonically, some critics have compared their sound to Tame Impala and Melody’s Echo Chamber, “Dreaming Life” reminds me of Young Narrator in the Breakers-era Pavo Pavo. But as the duo explain, the song offers a reminder to the listener: that being in control of our lives is an illusion and that this futile pursuit can be very stressful and tiresome. The song calls for an different view of our existence — that life actually happens through you and because of you and that all we can do is appreciate each and every moment we’ve got.

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