Category: Single Review

Makaya McCraven is a Paris-born Chicago-based jazz drummer, beatmaker and producer, who has released a run of critically applauded, genre-defying and re-defining albums that includes 2017’s Highly Rare, 2018’s Where We Come From (Chicago x London Mixtape) and 2018’s Universal Beings through Chicago-based International Anthem Records. Highly Rare caught the attention of XL Recordings‘ Richard Russell, who recruited the acclaimed Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer to re-imagine Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m New Here.  

Released earlier this year, McCraven’s We’re New Again places the original I’m New Here sessions in a new context. using samples collected from McCraven’s improvised live sessions with new wave Chicago jazz musicians and vintage samples taken from the acclaimed Paris-born, Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer’s parents’ recordings.  It’s meant to reconnect Scott-Heron with his birthplace and hometown, as well as a lineage of jazz and blues that perfectly compliments the Chicago-born legendary artist’s imitable voice.

Slated for a July 31, 2020 release through his longtime label home. Universal Beings E&F Sides serves as an addendum to the critically applauded 2018 effort of the same name — but while featuring fourteen new organ beat music compositions that were cut from the original sessions and prepared and produced by McCraven as a soundtrack to a documentary on the recording of the original album. (The physical album will see a September 25, 2020 release.)

The Mark Pallman-directed Universal Beings documentary follows McCraven as he travelled to California, Chicago, London and NYC in a behind-the-scenes look at the creation and recording of his breakthrough album, taking the viewer through the story of his life, his process and the community of musicians that brought the album’s material to life.

So to build up buzz for the new album and the documentary, McCraven and International Anthem have released Universal Beings Sides E&F‘s first single, the angular and percussive “Mak Attack.” Clocking in a little under two minutes, the breakneck composition is centered around complex and rolling polyrhythm, a sinuous bass line and twinkling bursts of keys.  The composition finds the musicians managing to walk a tightrope between chaos and order, free-flowing improvisation and structured composition and as a result, it explodes with a forceful and vital energy.

 

 

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Notelle · Bugs

Notelle is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter, topliner and pop artist, who has worked with an eclectic array of DJs and producer across the globe since 2014. Her work as a songwriter and vocalist has amassed over 12 million Spotify streams — with her material appearing on a number of playlists including Spotify‘s FreshEDM, Hot New Dance, Friday Cratediggers, Heart Beats, Sad Beats, Pop Chillout, Study Break, Fresh Finds, Fresh Finds: Poptronix, Italians Do It Better, Shisha Lounge, Stepping Out, New Music Fridays and Deep Delight, as well as Apple Music‘s Pop Rising and Breaking Dance playlists. Adding to a growing profile, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter, topliner and pop artist has been covered by EDM.com and has received airplay on Sirius XM Radio.

Throughout her career, the Nashville-based artist has signed and released material on 15 different electronic music labels including Armada, Monstercat, Proximity, Lowly, Hinky, AtLast, Seeking Blue, Thrive Music, Ultra Music, Ophelia and Knight Vision (Warner Music) — while remaining fiercely independent.

After spending the past handful of years as a go-to collaborator, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter and pop artist has decided to step out into the spotlight as a solo artist: over the past year, she’s been writing material and honing her take on “dark industrial pop” while catching the attention of Nashville Scene as a Nashville Artist to Watch in 2020. Building upon the rapidly growing buzz surrounding her, her solo debut single “Power” premiered on Lightning 100‘s The 615 and her third “Out of Love” was put on the station’s regular rotation.

“Beyond The Grave” found Notelle exploring a grittier sound than her previously released material, while fearlessly eschewing standard pop song structures and defying genre conventions and this has helped the Nashville-based artist develop a reputation for crafting forward-thinking, difficult to categorize pop. Interestingly, within the first couple of weeks of the song’s release, the track landed on Spotify’s “Study Break,” “Fresh Finds” and Fresh Finds: Poptronix” lists organically.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Alive.” The Nine Inch Nails and Billie Eilish-like track continued a remarkable run of slickly produced, genre-defying, sultry pop with elements of industrial electronica, alternative pop and trip hop centered around fearlessly adventurous and ambitious songwriting based around unsettling personal experience. The Nashville-based artist’s latest single “Bugs” is a dark and seductive song centered around wobbling synths, handclap-led percussion, thumping beats, a distorted string sample, an infectious hook and Notelle’s sultry cooing — and while radio friendly, the song feels a bit like the creeping, anxious dread of a bad trip.

“I wrote ‘Bugs’ during a break up where it felt like that person was still in my body in some capacity,” Notelle says in press notes. “The impact of someone else’s choices left literal and metaphorical residue on me, and I felt dirty. I kept imagining it as a bad hallucination – like bugs. Was this person capable of hurting me more? Was the worst of it over? Or was another bomb going to be dropped on me when I felt like I was out of the woods? I wanted this song to embody that level of paranoia, you know? When you check behind doors or shower curtains when you’re alone in your house – or when you can’t tell if the noises in you hear in the silence are in your head or are real. That’s a bizarre place to be, and ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t out of my mind. In fact, they were.”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays The Bobby Lees Release a Grungy Garage Punk Anthem

The Bobby Lees — Sam Quartin (vocals, guitar), Kendall Wind (bass), Nick Casa (lead guitar), and Macky Bowman (drums)  — are a rapidly rising, Woodstock, NY-based garage punk act have received attention for a feral and frenzied sound and and an unpredictable, high-energy live show. Adding to a growing profile, the act has opened for The Black Lips, Murphy’s Law, Boss Hog, Future Islands, Daddy Long Legs, The Chats, and Shannon & The Clams. 

The Woodstock-based JOVM mainstays’ Jon Spencer-produced full-length album Skin Suit has been pushed back to July 17, 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic —but as you may recall, the album finds the band crafting forceful and self-assured material centered around some of the most blistering and dexterous guitar work I’ve heard this year. So far, the band has released a handful of singles off the album including the breakneck “GutterMilk,” a feral and gender-bending over of Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man,”‘ that nods at George Thorogood, the  Jon Spencer Blues Explosion-like “Move,” the gritty, garage punk ripper “Drive,” and a grudgy and feral cover of Richard Hell & The Voidoids‘ “Blank Generation.”

“Wendy,” Skin Suit’s sixth and latest single is a garage rock track full of sneering, old-school punk attitude and sultry come-ons that will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting grungy and feral rock. 

New Audio: Canadian Sleaze Rockers The Death Wheelers Return with a Scuzzy New Single

With the release of their full-length debut, 2018’s I Tread On Your Grave, the rising Canadian act The Death Wheelers — Max “The Axe” Tremblay, Richard “Bastard” Turcotte, Sy “Wild Rye” Tremblay and Hugo “Red Beard” Bertacchi — have developed a reputation for a sound that’s largely inspired by the aesthetics and ethos of bikesploitation movies like The Wild Angels, Werewolves on Wheels and Psychomania — and Dave Allen, The Cramps, Motörhead, The Stooges, and Grand Funk Railroad. 

Slated for a September 11, 2020 release through RidingEasy Records, the Canadian act’s forthcoming sophomore album Divine Filth continues the band’s reputation for crafting sleazy, handbanging instrumental anthems that simultaneously serve as the soundtrack for fictional bikesploitation films. Centered around power chord-driven riffs, Divine Filth reportedly finds the band riding the line between Motörhead, The Cramps and Dick Dale. 

Recorded in a breakneck 48  lives setting, Divine Filth is all killer, no-filler, no-bullshit scuzziness with a layer of crass that recalls Troma Films. This time, their sophomore album is loosely based around this fantastically dumb yet fucking awesome plot synopsis: It’s 1982. Spurcity is run-down,The crime rate is up and so is drug use. A new kind of kick has hit the streets and it ain’t pretty. DTA, a powerful and highly addictive hallucinogenic drug, is transforming its loyal citizens into undead trash. Its users experience an indescribable high, but it leaves them rotting away within days, craving human flesh. No one knows who is dealing this new potent drug, but rumour has it that the motorcycle cult, The Death Wheelers, is behind this concoction. Could this be the end of civilization as we know it? What is motivating this group of psychotic individuals?

Divine Filth’s first single “Corps Morts” will further cement the band’s reputation for sleazy headbangers, as its centered around thunderous drumming, grungy power chords-driven riffs, enormous hooks and an expansive song structure. Sonically, the track will bring The Sword to mind, as much as it does Motörhead and others but with a nasty crustiness on the surface. 

Rising New York-based post-punk act Bootblacks — Panther MacDonald (vocals), Alli Gorman (guitar), Barrett Hiatt (synths) and Larry Gorman (drums) — derive their name from novelist William Burroughs’ description of the dark underbelly of New York. And it shouldn’t be surprising that the band’s surroundings have influenced their work both sonically and thematically. “It’s an energetic city and people have all the reasons in the world not to give you the time of day,” the band’s Barrett Hiatt says in press notes. “I think our music has been shaped by that in many ways.”

In 2012, the New York-based post-punk released their Jim Sclavunos-produced debut EP Narrowed. 2016 saw the release of their full-length debut Veins, which they supported with extensive touring. Interestingly, 2017’s sophomore effort Fragments found the band expanding their sound with the material becoming more synth-based, more atmospheric and much bigger than its immediate predecessors. Fragments received quite a bit of attention, which helped the band earn slots on a number of post-punk/New Wave/goth festivals including Cold Waves, Terminus, Absolution, Wave Gotik Treffen and A Murder of Crows — and the album landed on a lot of year-end lists.

The members of Bootblacks have played at every significant venue in the New York Metropolitan area, sharing stages with Clan of Xymox, Light Asylum, HEALTH and VOWWS. And along the way, they’ve managed to tour across North America and Europe. Of course, much like countless bands across the world, the rising New York-based post-punk act had hopes for a big 2020 pre COVID-19 quarantines: they were recently handpicked to open for Modern English during their North American tour this year. Unfortunately, that tour has been postponed.

But in the meantime, the band’s highly anticipated Jason Corbett-produced third album Thin Skies will be released through Artoffact Records and the album reportedly finds the band zooming forward where Fragments left off — with its nine songs meshing dance floor pulse and melodic, brooding post-punk with anthemic hooks. The album’s material also features backing vocals from ACTORS‘ Shannon Hemmett, SRSQ‘s and Them Are Us Too‘s Kennedy Ashyln.

Unsurprisingly, the album continues the band’s long-held thematic concerns: the loneliness of city life. “Most of the lyrics on the album are about loneliness,” says Hiatt. “Looking back on the lyric writing process there seems to be some connective feeling of isolation and distance present in all of the songs… I’m always hoping that a listener personalizes the song, that’s why the songs never have a narrative but try to embody a feeling.”

Centered around reverb-drenched guitars that recall The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree-era U2, shimmering synth arpeggios, a relentless motorik groove, an enormous and MacDonald’s plaintive vocals, Thin Skies‘ first single “Traveling Light” may arguably be among the most dance floor friendly yet brooding songs Bootblacks has ever released, as it evokes sweaty nights on the dance floor, meeting some one who captures your attention and dreams — and eventually heading home alone to obsess over what you should have done.

New Audio: Corridor’s Jonathan Robert Releases a Shimmering New Single with Solo Project Jonathan Personne

Jonathan Robert is a Montreal-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known for being the co-founder of the internationally acclaimed JOVM mainstay act Corridor — and for his work as an animator and visual artist. With his solo recording project Jonathan Personne, Robert released his full-length debut, last year’s Histoire Naturelle, which was  thematically  inspired by the potential end of the world and drew from desert dream pop, Western spaghetti rock and jangle pop. 

Robert’s Jonathan Personne sophomore album, Disparitions is slated for an August 28, 2020 release through Michel Records and the album reportedly finds Robert continuing with intimate and sensitive songwriting — but this time inspired by a moment when music became a source of disgust for him: “I spent a lot of time touring away from home. Towards the end I felt like I was reluctantly going to do something that I had longed wished for,” Robert says in press notes. 

Subtly recalling his work with Corridor, “Springsteen,” Disparitions’ first single sees Robert boldly drawing  from and then meshing several different eras of rock music: glistening  psych rock through the use of a looping and shimmering 12 string guitar line, 70s AOR/radio rock through the use of bluesy guitar soloing, glam rock-like four-on-the-floor and a soaring hook paired with Robert’s plaintive falsetto. And much like his full-length debut, “Springsteen” is centered around observations and feelings about the seemingly inevitable end of the world as we know it. 

New Audio: French Singer-Songwriter Laure Briard Releases a Breezy 70s AM Rock-like Bossa Nova Cover

Laure Briard is a Toulouse, France-based singer/songwriter, who bounced around quite a bit before fully delving into music: before starting her music career in earnest in 2013, Briard studied literature and criminology and even did a little acting. 

Signing to Tricatel Records, Briard released her debut EP. A short time later, she met Juilen Gasc and Eddy Cramps and began working on her full-length debut, Révélation, a pop-rock leaning album released through 2000 Records. And with Révélation, the Toulouse-based singer/songwriter began to receive attention for a sound inspired by Françoise Hardy, Margo Guryan and Vashti Bunyan paired with modern and poetic lyricism. 

2016 saw the release of her sophomore album Sur la Piste de Danse through Midnight Special Records. But during the subsequent years, Briard’s work took on an increasing bossa nova influence — and with 2018’s Coração Louco, which featured acclaimed Brazilian JOVM mainstays Boogarins, Briard began writing lyrics in Portuguese. Building upon a growing reputation, the Toulouse-based singer/songwriter’s third album, 2019’s Un peu plus d’amour s’il vous plâit was released through Michel Records in Canada, Midnight Special Records in Europe and Burger Records here in the States. 

Continuing her ongoing love affair with Brazil and Brazilian music, Briard’s latest single  find her tackling the São Paulo, Brazil-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sessa’s “Grandeza.” While the original was centered around a sparse arrangement of looping acoustic guitar, gentle percussion and call and response vocals, it’s a dreamy song full of a wistful and bittersweet ache. 

Collaborating with Vincent Pieuvre and Emmanuel Mario,  Briard’s take on “Grandeza” retails the wistful and bittersweet ache of the original while pairing it with a breezy, 70s AM rock-like arrangement featuring twinkling Rhodes, a sinuous bass line and shimmering guitar and Briard’s plaintive vocals. In some way the song is a wistfully nostalgic ode to the lives and the things we can’t have right now; and probably will not have for quite some time as a result of COVID-19. “I was deeply moved by the beautiful dreamy lyrics of the song, the fearless statement made with vivid imagery yet remaining mysterious and abstract in a way which people can relate to on different levels.” 

HHBTM Records · Wesdaruler – Fuck Trump America

 

Wesdaruler is an emerging  Athens, GA-based producer, beatmaker and emcee. His latest single “FUCK TRUMP AMERICA” finds the Athens-based artist teaming up with Linqua Franqa, Dope KNife, and Louie Larceny on a fiery, anti-Trump anthem: each emcee spits defiant and boldly pro-Black verses that tell Trump and his supporters to go fuck themselves over a minimalist production around a swinging double bass line and boom bap beats. Every day I feel this way — and you should too: Fuck Donald Trump! Fuck Trump America!

“We didn’t push for any big exclusives or anything like that,” the Athens-based artist explains. “This track just needs to be shared and posted. The message is loud and clear in the lyrics, no statements need, the track is the statement.”

 

 

New Audio: Joe Wong Returns with a Lush and Orchestral New Single

Joe Wong is a Milwaukee-born, Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, who has created the scores for acclaimed TV series like Master of None, Russian Doll, Ugly Delicious, Awkafina is Nora from Queens, and others — and for being host of The Trap Set podcast.

Over the past few months Wong has released material off his Mary Lattimore-produced full-length debut, Nite Creatures, which is slated for a September 18, 2020 release, including two singles I’ve written about so far: the Man Who Sold The World-era David Bowie-like “Dreams Wash Away” and the a Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles-like “Nuclear Rainbow.” “Minor,” Nite Creatures’ third and latest single continues a run of incredibly lush material, but it’s arguably the most orchestral of the album’s singles, and as a result it reminds me a bit of the late, great Scott Walker’s work — brooding, achingly lonely and breathtakingly gorgeous. 

New Audio: Flamingods’ Karthik Poduval Releases His Solo Debut — A Club Banging Remix of Ahmed Fakroun’s “Jama El F’na”

Karthik Poduval is a London-born, Indian-British DJ and producer, best known as a founding member of the acclaimed tropical psychedelic band Flamingods. His latest project Mera Bhai is informed by his own personal experiences: he’s spent time living in Italy, Albania, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Nigeria — and naturally that experience has speeded into his own globe-spanning, border-crossing, genre-defying take on dance music, which incorporates Indian Carnatic, Arabic Rai, 70s disco, Acid House, Detroit techno and Tropicalia. “Having grown up all over the world, I was surrounded by a wealth of different sounds — i’m just trying to weave the cultural through line that I hear in music.” 

Poduval’s Mera Bhai debut is a bootleg remix of Ahmed Fakroun’s “Jama El F’na.” While retaining the shimmering instrumentation and Fakroun’s vocals, Poduval’s remix speeds up the tempo a bit and adds a decidedly Tour de France-era Kraftwerk/Primal Scream/Kasabian-like feel to the proceedings: layers of synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap and industrial clang and clatter. Both the original and its remix are club bangers — but the remix manages to sound as though it could have been released in 1992, 2002, 2020 or 2032. 

It was on his [Fakroun’s] record Mots D’Amour released through French label Celluloid as his crossover to the Western music industry, heavily influenced by Europe and dance music. His marrying of Libyan influences with his love of Western music is very much something that mirrors my story,” Poduval says of his remix of Fakroun’s song. “I guess I’ve subconsciously taken his Western crossover and made it my own.”