Since the release of 2016’s full-length debut High Hopes, Halifax, Nova Scotia-based post-punk act Like a Motorcycle — currently Kim Carson (bass, vocals), KT Lamond (guitar, vocals) and David Casey (guitar, vocals) and Clare McDonald (drums, vocals) — have managed to muscle through the sort of tumult and instances that has busted up countless other bands: substance abuse, health issues, several lineup changes, and a former label that nearly bankrupted them. And despite all of that they’ve bravely — and perhaps stubbornly — kept on, honing on their long-held reputation for crafting anthems for disenfranchised rejects like themselves, who are working several different gigs, maneuvering five-figure college debts and barely surviving.
The Halifax-based post-punk outfit’s sophomore effort, last year’s aptly titled Dead Broke featured the anthemic, Ganser-like “Wide Awake,” a bristling and incisive commentary on a capitalist system that allows and celebrates rampant exploitation for personal gain.
The Halifax-based post-punk outfit’s latest single sees them tackling a song by Los Angeles-based cult favorite punk act The Screamers, who despite the buzz surrounding them at the time, never recorded or released an album. “122 Hours of Fear” outlines the 1977 hijacking of Lufthansa Flight 181 from the point of view of a hostage on the flight. Beginning with blown out beats, reverb and pedal effected guitars, the song quickly turns into a tense affair centered around angular guitar bursts, glistening synth arpeggios in the background, howled vocals and thunderous drumming. And at its core is slow-burning sense of dread of the potentially terrible fate that awaits the song’s narrator, much like the original.
Initially started as a bedroom solo recording project back in 2017, Orlando-based psych outfit Timothy Eerie has become a full-fledged band with a rotating cast of players. The Orlando-based psych outfit’s latest single “We’re Going To Make It” is a sunny and lysergic anthem for the end of the world — or our near dystopian future.
Centered around reverb-drenched vocals. glistening organ arpeggios, scorching guitars and forceful drumming, “We’re Going To Make It” is indebted to 60s psych rock but with a modern twist: the song’s narrator knows that the hope for a better world may be desperate and foolish, which gives the song a bitterly ironic bite, just under the trippy vibes.
Pierre Grech is a Toulon, France-based singer/songwriter, composer, producer and guitarist, who has long been influenced by folk, indie rock, hip hop, jazz, contemporary classical and electronica. Grech began writing songs as a child but he can trace the origins of his music career to the early 2000s: He was the frontman of experimental electronica act SLiDD — and around the same time, he co-wrote and arranged material on three Jen H. Ka albums.
As a solo artist and bandleader, Grech has played shows across Paris and Southern France with re-arranged and re-imagined renditions of his material in several different iterations including electro rock, acoustic, cello-guitar duo, rock trio and more. But over the past few years, the French singer/songwriter, guitarist, composer, arranger and producer has been refining and honing his songwriting and compositional approach, as well as his guitar playing. The end result is Grech’s latest project _telemaque_,which finds the Toulon-based artist drawing from his long-held influences while crafting pop that’s energetic yet sensitive.
Grech released his _telemaque debut EP June earlier this year. And as you might recall, the EP featured EP title track “June,” gorgeous track that brought OK Computer-era Radiohead and JOVM mainstays Husky to mind while featuring shimmering acoustic guitar, Greech’s plaintive falsetto, propulsive drumming and a soaring hook paired with earnest and accessible songwriting.
Greech’s _telemaque_ debut album Silent Creatures is forthcoming — but in the meantime, the album’s first single “December Sun” is what Greech says is the most rock leaning song on the album: shimmering guitar chords are paired with an insistent, throbbing groove, propulsive beats and a scorching guitar solo are paired with Greech’s plaintive vocals. Sonically, the song sees the French singer/songwriter refining his sound and approach. While bearing a resemblance to Radiohead, the song features a subtle nod at kraturock and folk.
Building upon that momentum, the rising French artist released his self-titled debut EP last June. Since the release of the EP, Picot has been busy: he recently released his highly-anticipated full-length debut Chimera, which feature the brooding and cinematic, Security-era Peter Gabriel-like “Momentum,” and the yearning, Amnesiac-era Radiohead meets contemporary alt pop-like “AWOL.” Conceived, written and recorded between Reunion Island and Paris, the album is an intuitive and tribal journey, in which what may seem irreconcilable meets and merges: Sonically, the songs mesh brooding atmospherics, tribal bets, military rhythms, and elements of trance, pop ballads and more with lyrics sung in English and Reunion Island Creole.
Chimera‘s latest single “Horus” is a mesmerizing, brooding and difficult to pigeon hole song: Featuring lyrics sung in alternating burst of English and Reunion Island Creole, the track begins with a cinematic opening organ and mournful yet regal horns before morphing into stunning electro pop centered around yearning church-like vocals, trippy yet propulsive polyrhythm, atmospheric synths and Picot’s unerring knack for infectious hooks paired with devastatingly earnest songwriting within material that’s simultaneously challenging and accessible.
Jindoss is a mysterious, Saint Malo, France singer/songwriter, who released their debut EP Rendez-vous earlier this year. The EP features “Saturday Night,” a single that quickly and boldly established the French artist’s sound: swirling and brooding shoegaze centered around shimming, reverb-drenched guitars, plaintive wailing and boom bap drumming. The end result was a song that to me seemed like a synthesis of PJ Harvey-like atmospherics and A Storm in Heaven-era The Verve-like textures.
The mysterious French producer’s latest single “Dancing” continues the brooding atmospherics but in this case, the song finds Jindoss’ sound quickly moving more in the direction of Massive Attack and Portishead: plaintive wailing is paired with layers of glistening synth arpeggios and thumping beats. The track slowly builds up in intensity and crests until it’s brooding and slow-burning fade out.
Kristen Allen-Farmer is a classically train multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, producer singer/songwriter, and creative mastermind behind solo recording project Dream Tonic. Interestingly, with Dream Tonic, Allen-Farmer blends her lifelong love of dance music with a classically trained approach to composition and songwriting. The end result is material that is often simultaneously dreamy and gritty.
Allen-Farmer’s latest single, “I Taste” is an infectious club banger centered around synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling synths, industrial clang and clatter, squiggling Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a sinuous bass line and the classically trained artist’s breathy and sultry cooing. Featuring elements of house music, electro pop, French touch, indie dance and others, the slickly produced song brings Little Boots and others to mind — but while being a Halloween-themed song that tells the tale of a wanton vampiress, who enjoys the hunt and chase for new blood and new victims.
Lincoln, NE-based soul and funk outfit Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal — Josh Hoyer (vocals, keys), Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar) Harrison El Dorado (drums) — formed back in 2012. And since their formation, the Lincoln-based soul and funk outfit. which features some of their city’s most acclaimed and talented musicians, has received attention in the national and international soul and funk scenes for a genre-defying sound inspired by Stax Records, Motown Records, Muscle Shoals, New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
During their run together, the Lincoln-based quintet have also developed a reputation for being one of the region’s hardest working bands: They’ve released five albums, including this year’s Eddie Roberts-produced Natural Born Hustler, which featured the The Payback-era James Brown meets 70s Motown-like “Hustler” and sociopolitically charged, bluesy and soulful strut “Sunday Lies.” Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal have supported their albums with several tours across the Continental US and two European tours — and they’ve shared stages with George Clinton, Charles Bradley, Booker T. Jones, Muscle Shoals Soul Revue and an impressive list of others.
The Lincoln-based soul and funk outfit’s latest single, “Automatic” off Natural Born Hustler is a slow-burning and beguiling ballad that’s equal parts 50s doo-wop, Lou Rawls, and Motown/Daptone Records soul. Fittingly for a song centered around a classic and timeless sound and Hoyer’s effortless crooning, the song lyrically focuses on true love and its ability to make all of life’s woes and uncertainties disappear when you’re with your lover. From experience that sort of love is rare; but worthy of celebrating and cherishing.
Jake Ward is best known as one-half of Athens, GA-based indie rock act Eureka California. Ward recently took to his home studio and completed a solo album, Never Had A Touch To Lose, which finds him stepping out into the spotlight as solo artist. performing as Mild Mild Country.
Mild Mild Country is a decided sonic departure from Ward’s work with Eureka California: Never Had A Touch To Lose is a purely instrumental. mostly synth-based, 80s influenced affair, unlike the crunchy, literature indie-rock he’s best known for. The album’s material finds Ward composing the soundtrack to an imaginary detective movie, set in Los Angeles, where the album coincidentally was recorded.
While the album is mostly synth based, you’ll hear subtle nods to post-punk, the blues and some inspired guitar playing. The album is slated for an October 22, 2021 release through HHBTM Records. To build up buzz for the album, Ward and HHBTM Records recently released a digital only bonus track off the album, an indie rock leaning cover of Depeche Mode’s “Everything Counts” featuring a subtly different arrangement. While centered around heavily arpeggiated synths and industrial clang and clatter, the song also features buzzing guitars and a lengthy vocal coda. which pushes the song past the five minute mark.
Ward wrote a lengthy statement to me about Mild Mild Country’s sound and the new cover. I’ll let him speak for himself, below:
“I don’t know if it was a conscious decision to necessarily change my sound – I certainly didn’t think it was something that I had to do as much as it was that I wanted to try something new. There’s a quote by Warhol that I think about all the time – ‘Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.’ I think over the past year or so, I’ve really tried to adopt that mentality and to focus on making things (music, paintings, etc) that are interesting to me and then putting them out into the world. I’ve always enjoyed tons of different kinds of music and really the genesis for this new project was watching a documentary on Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and going ‘I want to try something like that.’ The only conscious aspect of it was that I didn’t want people to hear it and automatically go ‘oh, it’s a quarantine record.’ My thought was having it be an instrumental doesn’t really link it to a specific time than if I was singing about not going out, spending too much on GrubHub, etc. At the end of the day, I hope this isn’t my Hudson River Wind Meditations but that’s not really up to me.
I’m not going to sit here and say I’ve been a huge Depeche Mode fan for years and years. Honestly, before this year I maybe knew 3 or 4 songs and my biggest Depeche Mode memory was back in the winter of 2019 when my neighbors were blasting mariachi music for roughly 14 hours and the only break was at about hour 8 when they played ‘Policy of Truth,’ twice. And then on a random Thursday in August while I was doing some painting, everything changed. I put on a DM playlist because I wanted something with vocals but no guitars (sorry Aphex Twin), and put on the first song I knew, ‘World in my Eyes.’ But it was the second song, ‘Everything Counts,’ which was one I didn’t know that blew my shit wide open. It was so catchy, and intricate, creative, and clever in it’s arrangement. I’m writing this in October but I’m certain my Spotify wrapped is going to show this as my top played song of the year. And then every other song that followed just left me dumbfounded. I felt like I had stumbled upon a huge secret which is a hilariously sad thing to think about when hearing one of the most successful bands all of time. Still, where had this been all my life? What followed after this first listen was a blur. By Friday, I had listened to just about everything they’d released prior to Alan Wilder leaving and then on Saturday, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I spent the entire day learning and recording this cover. Ya know, for fun. And with that in mind, I hope when you listen to this you get a sense of the immediacy of someone discovering their new favorite band.”
In the almost three years since their formation, the Portland-based outfit has been remarkably prolific: They’ve released three albums and a handful of EPs, including 2019’s self-titled debut, last year’s The Wakes and this year’s Into The Everything. Interestingly, Into The Everything, which featured “Water’s Push” found the rising indie rock act pushing their sound into decidedly New Wave territory.
Koalra’s fourth album Love Songs To Remind Us That We Can’t Stand Each Other continues upon the band’s reputation for being prolific while being a collection of songs inspired by the disenchantment of our current sociopolitical climate, as well as a major lineup change — and their recent relocation to Portland.
Last month, I wrote about the 4AD Records-like “Sight Unseen,” a track centered around atmospheric synths, angular guitars, a driving, motorik-like groove, plaintive vocals and an enormous hook. Thematically, the song focused on some familiar and universal themes — in particular, nostalgia over a youthful yet major love that’s been long lost.
“When We Fall” is a melodic and yearning bit of post punk featuring shimmering and atmospheric synths, plaintive vocals, a driving 80s New Order-like groove, propulsive four-on-the-floor and a swooning hook. Much like its immediate predecessor, “When We Fall” is centered around a familiar nostalgia — of a time and place that you can’t quite get back.
Brighton-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Hanya — currently Heather Sheret (vocals, guitar), Benjamin Varnes (guitar), Jorge Bela (bass) and Jack Watkins (drums) — exploded into the national and international scenes with the release of their debut EP, I Used to Love You, Now I Don’t, an effort that saw the British outfit quickly and firmly establish a sound that featured elements of dream pop and shoegaze.
Much like countless acts across the globe, the Brighton-based JOVM mainstays had plans to build upon a rapidly growing profile both nationally and internationally: they released their acclaimed, sophomore EP Sea Shoes, which they supported with touring across the UK and their Stateside debut at that year’s New Colossus Festival. Since their New Colossus set at The Bowery Electric last March, Hanya has been busy writing and releasing new material, including:
“Texas,” a shimmering bit of dream pop that nods at 70s AM rock, and focuses on the longing and excitement of a new crush/new love/new situationship
“Monochrome,”a hazy and slow-burning ballad that celebrates the pleasures of life’s small things
“Lydia,” a slow-burning and gorgeous track that continues upon their winning mix of 70s AM rock and Beach House-like dream pop.
The British dream pop outfit will be releasing their highly anticipated third EP lates this year. Now, as you may recall, last month, I wrote about the forthcoming EP’s lead single, the slow-burning “Fortunes,” which featured A Storm In Heaven like painterly textures, ethereal harmonies and deeply personal, lived-in lyricism.
Hanya’s latest single “Logan’s Run” continues a recent run of lush and painterly textured material featuring glistening guitars for the song’s dreamy verses, towering feedback and pedal effect driven soloing, a propulsive backbeat paired with Heather Sheret’s gorgeous and expressive vocals. Sonically, “Logan Run” strikes me as being a sort of slick synthesis of brooding atmospherics, 79s AM rock and A Storm in Heaven-like textures.
“We wrote this track as a homage to its namesake – the 1970’s sci-fi classic Logan’s Run, set in a seemingly perfect future full of staggeringly blissful ignorance,” Hanya’s Heather Sheret explains. “We can’t get enough of this film, and whilst we were endlessly ageing during this pandemic, this track felt like our own soundtrack to the dystopian present. The film addresses concerns of consumption, truth and escape, all whilst remaining timelessly beautiful, confusing, and trashy. Just like us.”