Category: Single Review

 

 

Originally known for her work in electro pop projects Her HabitsGemology and others, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and electro pop artist Joanie Wolkoff has been a JOVM mainstay artist before striking out on her own last year with her solo recording project Wolkoff. In fact, last year was a very big year for the Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based artist — she collaborated with renowned electronic act The Hood Internet on “Going Back,” a single released to massive praise across the blogosphere, including several major media outlets, including Vice Noisey and Billboard — and as you can imagine resulted in a growing national profile for Wolkoff.

Interestingly, Wolkoff’s previously released work channeled the contemporary electro pop sound of acts like BeaconSeoul (both of whom are also JOVM mainstays) and others — in other words eerily minimalist productions consisting of icy synth stabs and woofer and tweeter rattling bass paired with plaintive vocals. However, her ongoing collaboration with young, up-and-coming producer Icarus Moth, which started with the release of the Talismans EP has set the duo apart from the pack as Icarus Moth’s production reveals a deliberate and painterly approach. While drawing from contemporary electro pop and world dance music, the young producer has developed a reputation for pairing big beats, swirling electronics and lush layers of synths with medieval-sounding instrumentation in a way that evokes brushstrokes across a canvas — as you’ll hear on EP single “Curve Appeal,” and others.

Building upon the buzz the duo received last year, Wolkoff and Icarus Moth are set to release Wolkoff’s full-length debut Without Shame on April 15. Lyrically and thematically, the material on the album explores the role shame has in our lives and perhaps more importantly the possibility of sidestepping its grip on us through breaking rank and venturing into the unknown. And as a result, the material on the album may be among the most deeply personal — and yet profoundly universal — material she’s released to date. Without Shame‘s first single “The Homecoming” pairs big tweeter and woofer rattling bass with skittering drum programming, swirling and ambient electronics, Eastern-tinged instrumentation and Wolkoff’s coquettish cooing, and in some way the song possesses the dreamy and ethereal feel of Swedish dream pop — think of Moonbabies‘ excellent Wizards on the Beach and The Knife but subtly filtered through chip tune and old school house music.

Without Shame‘s second and latest single “Kings Highway” pairs Icarus Moth’s painterly production style consisting of swirling electronics, layers of cascading synths, chiming synths, boom-bap beats and ambient electronics with Wolkoff’s husky and coquettish vocals singing lyrics that are both surreal and Romantic in a song that’s sensual and seductive  — while sounding as though inspired it were by electro pop, R&B and house music. And although radio friendly and accessible, it’s challenging and  possesses an art school sheen. Certainly, from the first two singles Icarus Moth should be an in-demand producer as he has a unique sound — and it suggests that Wolkoff and Icarus Moth’s collaboration may be one of the most exciting and unique collaborations in contemporary pop.

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Up until last year, there hadn’t been many comprehensive photo-metal, pre-stoner rock compilations, until the Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA-based distributor Permanent Records record store, along with  RidingEasy Records released a carefully curated compilation of incredibly rare photo-metal and pre-stoner rock singles from the 60s and 70s on Brown Acid: The First Trip. Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi and RidingEasy Records’ Daniel Hall complied a second volume of rare proto-metal and pre-stoner rock from the 60s and 70s, Brown Acid: The  Second Trip, which is slated (fittingly enough) for release on April 20.

Much like the first volume, the duo not only spent time collecting, compiling and then curating the material, they also spent a great deal of time tracking down the songs creators, often bands who haven’t been together in over 30 or 40 years, and encouraging them to take part in the entire process.  As Barresi explained in press notes for the first compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been huge given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.” And by having the artists actually participate in the entire process, it can give the artists and their songs a second chance at some much deserved attention — if not a second chance at success.

Now, over the past month or two I’ve written about The Second Trip’s first single Ash’s “Midnight Witch,” a single that would likely remind many listeners of Mountain‘s “Mississippi Queen,” Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” and early Black Sabbath as layers of huge, sludgy and bluesy power chords were  paired with a driving rhythm and soulful vocals — but with a deeply psychedelic feel. Amazingly, although the song was originally released more than 35 years ago, it sounds and feels as though it could have been released today as several contemporary bands have adopted a similar sound, including the likes of Ecstatic Vision. The compilation’s second single Crossfield’s “Take It” managed to sound and feel like a surreal amalgamation of Black Sabbath, The Rolling StonesThe Animals (in particular, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”) and The Doors  as blistering and scorching guitar chords are paired with soaring keyboard chords and thundering drumming with unusual tempo changes and chord progression changes that make the song feel and sound as though it were a prog rock precursor — all while giving the song an expansive, tripping off hallucinogens in the desert feel and tone. The Second Trip‘s third and latest single Iron Knowledge’s “Show Stopper” meshes elements of glam metal, metal and seemingly hip-hop and funk-inspired hip-hop breakbeats in a song that metalhead and hip-hop DJs would instantly love.

 

 

 

If you were frequenting this site last year, you may recall coming across posts on Toronto, ON-based proto-metal/doom metal trio CROSSS. And although the band is rather mysterious and little is publicly known about the band’s personnel I can tell you that the band, which originally began as a Halifax, Nova Scotia-based duo, went through several lineup changes before relocating to Toronto and settling on the band’s current configuration. Since relocating to Toronto, the trio have developed a reputation for crating murky, sludgy and intense dirges that are deeply inspired by proto-done, lo-fi indie rock, noise rock and metal, and as a result bear a sonic resemblance to the likes of Black SabbathA Place to Bury Strangers and others — but more bottom heavy and doom-laden as you’ll hear on “Interlocutor,” off their last effort, LO which, was release to quite a bit of attention across the blogosphere.

Naturally, as a result of the attention they received, the Canadian trio opened for the likes of Viet CongBuilt to Spill, Thee Oh SeesKing TuffDirty BeachesPop1280,  Oneida, Built to Spill, METZ, Grimes, Fuzz and Moon Duo among a growing list. But adding to a growing profile, CROSSS announced that they had recently signed to Joyful Noise Recordings, who will re-issue the trio’s first two efforts, 2013’s Obsidian Spectre and the aforementioned LO — and they also announced that they’ll be releasing their third full-length effort later on this year. In the meantime, check out “Eye Seance” a doom-laden and lo-fi-leaning dirge  that has the trio pairing rumbling down-tuned bass, enormous power chords with howled vocals in a song that sounds like an existential howl into an indifferent and cruel void.

The band will be embarking on a Stateside tour throughout the end of this month and April, and it includes a NYC area stop. Check out tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates:

3/25-3/26: Indianapolis, IN
3/27: Milwaukee, WI @ Quarters
3/28: Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
4/27: Toronto, ON @ Smiling Buddha
4/20: Montreal, QC @ La Vitrola
4/21: Boston, MA @ O’Briens
4/22: Brooklyn, NY @ The Acheron
4/23: Philadelphia, PA @ TBA
4/24: Baltimore, MD @ The Crown
4/26: Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place

 

 

 

Last month, I wrote about New Orleans-based septet Cha Wa. Led by its founding members and bandleaders, vocalist/percussionist Irving “Honey” Banister, Big Chief of the Creole Wild West Tribe and drummer Joe Gelini, who have both involved with New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian scene for years, the members of the septet have developed a reputation for a sound and aesthetic that combines the Mardi Gras Indian tradition, and the area’s long-held and beloved reputation for rhythm and blues and funk. After playing countless shows in their hometown, the septet’s long-awaited debut album Funk ‘n’ Feathers is slated for an April 1 release, and the album reportedly draws from the seminal Mardi Gras Indian-inspired work of the 1970s — Wild Magnolias (backed by The Meters), The Neville Brothers and Dr. John‘s Nite Tripper albums; however, the material also has a contemporary twist as the album was produced by Galactic‘s Ben Ellman, who has also worked with the likes of Trombone Shorty, and mixed by San Francisco, CA‘s go-to engineer Count, who has worked with DJ ShadowRadioheadLyrics Born and others.

Released just in time for Mardi Gras, the album’s first single was a loose, stomping and swinging cover of Dr. John’s “All On A Mardi Gras Day” that feels as though you’re following a hot and jamming band with the marching Indians in their costumes marching down the streets of Uptown New Orleans — but with a slick, studio polish that doesn’t scrub away the inherently gritty, street-level funk and the ebullient, let the good time roll-feel within the song.  The album’s second and latest single is a raucously percussive, stomping and absolutely swinging rendition of a Mardi Gras and New Orleans standard “Jock-A-Mo (Iko Iko)” that feels like a non-stop party full of hooting and hollering, and hot keyboard and guitar solos; however, where their rendition of “All On A Mardi Gras” felt as though you were following along in a second line, their rendition of “Jock-A-Mo (Iko Iko)” feels as though it were recorded in a tiny, sweaty and packed club — in some way, you can almost feel the floor shaking from feet stomping in time to the rhythm.

The band has a number of live dates coming up throughout the next few months. Check out tour dates below.

UPCOMING SHOWS:

03/05- Howlin’ Wolf – New Orleans, LA
03/31- Lafayette’s – Memphis, TN
04/01- Blue Nile [Album Release Show] – New Orleans, LA
04/07- French Quarter Fest – New Orleans, LA
04/10- d.b.a – New Orleans, LA
04/21- Ogden Museum of Southern Art – New Orleans, LA
04/23- New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – New Orleans, LA
04/30- French Broad River Festival – Asheville, NC
06/04- Michael Arnone’s Crawfish Festival – Augusta, NJ

Created by Portland, OR-based Southerly and Sndtrkr frontman and SELF Group founder Krist Krueger as a shoegaze/experimental rock side project, Yardsss has received critical applause with the release of Fama, the first part of a Kurt Vonnegut-inspired trilogy that also featured a companion short film of the same name. Granfalloons is the second part of that trilogy and it features Krueger collaborating with Southerly bandmate Eli Savage and Gardening, Not Architecture‘s Sarah Saturday.

The album’s first single “Granfalloons II” is a slow-burning, introspective and shoegazey track consisting of dirge-inspired power chords, soaring backing vocals, swirling electronic and feedback and anthemic hooks paired with Krueger’s earnest and yearning baritone underneath the arena-filling bombast, the song sounds as though it could be a moody, shoegazer-inspired version of Live‘s “I AloneI Alone” — but with an art school sheen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detroit-born, Los Angeles-based producer Sam Baker, best known under the moniker Samiyam can trace the moment his musical career truly started in earnest to when he was at a Detroit strip club Platinum, where he encountered a self-described fan of his, who told him that he needed to take his music more seriously. At the time, Baker was among a group of post-J. Dilla Donuts producers, who focused on instrumental work, rather than the traditional emcee/producer collaborations — and he was circulating beat tapes among local crew in Michigan and through zip files to friends on the web. Eventually, many of those Donuts-inspired producers, including Baker began relocating to Los Angeles and were created a scene around the Low End Theory in East Los Angeles.

As a part of East Los Angeles’ burgeoning producer and artist scene, Baker wound up meeting Flying Lotus, who quickly signed Baker to his Brainfeeder Records and then released the Detroit-born producer’s first two albums, 2008’s Rap Beats Vol. 1 (which was coincidentally, Brainfeeder’s first release) and 2011’s Sam Baker’s Album. 2013 was a big year for Baker as he released his third album Wish You Were Here and did production work for Earl Sweatshirt, Captain Murphy (the alter-ego of the aforementioned Flying Lotus) and Pharoahe Monch.

Animals Have Feelings is his Stone Throw Records debut, and as Baker explains in press notes, he considers the effort a creative sequel to Rap Beats Vol. 1. “Animals has roots in beats made around the time of Vol. 1, and the new stuff on the record has some of the same sound.” And as a result the material on the album is mostly instrumental, beat-driven hip-hop mixed with a few rap tracks he did with a few emcees, who are his few yet frequent collaborators — Earl Sweatshirt, Action Bronson, Jeremiah Jae and Oliver the 2nd.

Two singles from the album were recently released –“Mr. Wonderful” a collaboration with Action Bronson, that has Bronson rhyming and crooning over boom-bap beats and flashes of synth in a song that channels Raekwon‘s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx; and “Dartgun,” an instrumental track consisting of layers of buzzing synths, boom bap drum programming which channels the legendary and beloved work of J. Dill and of Dam-Funk — while evoking a singular, funky vision.

 

Back in 2013, I wrote quite a bit about Anika Henderson, best known under the mononym that she writes, records and performs under, Anika . Initially, Henderson spent her professional career as a political journalist, who split time between Berlin and Bristol, UK. While in Bristol, Henderson was introduced to Geoff Barrow, who’s best known for his work with Portishead. And at the time, Barrow was looking for a vocalist, who would work with his band Beak> for what would be a side project. As the story goes, Henderson and Barrow bonded over a mutual love of punk, dub and 60s girl groups — and about a week later, Barrow, Henderson and the members of Beak>  went into the studio to record what would eventually turn out to be Henderson’s 2010 self-titled full-length debut, completely live with Henderson and the band in the same room without overdubs — and in 12 days.

2013 saw the release of Henderson’s self-titled EP, a collection of covers and remixes that included Henderson’s murky, Portishead and The Velvet Underground and Nico-inspired cover of Chromatics’ “In the City.” And what the self-titled EP revealed is that Henderson, Barrow and company have a way of covering a song with a unique take that makes a song their own — and in the case of Chromatics’ “In The City,” their cover feels as though it was always their song. That’s a rare thing, indeed. Last week, as February was coming to a close, Invada Records, released an icy, lo-tech analog synth electro pop and dub-leaning cover of Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” by the mysterious Invada All Stars featuring Anika on vocals as part of that weekend’s Stop Trident National anti-nukes demonstration in London, a demonstration protesting the renewal of Britain’s nuclear weapons system. Proceeds from the digital single will go to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

Also in that post, I mentioned that Henderson is part of a new project Exploded View — and as it turns out, Exploded View is something of a side project  from her solo work with the members of Beak>. Although the project’s full-length debut is slated for release later on this year through Sacred Bones Records, they will be performing several sets at this year’s SXSW. But before that, the project released their single “No More Parties in the Attic,” that draws from post-krautrock, krautrock, dub and industrial music as the band pairs electronic bloops and bleeps, industrial clang and clatter, buzzing and angular synth and guitar chords with Anika’s signature icy delivery to craft a sound that’s tense and icy  — while evoking the contemporary zeitgeist of trying to navigate in a world that’s gone absolutely mad all the time.

 

 

 

 

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past two or three years or so, you may recall that I wrote about Colchester, UK-based electronic producer and multi-instrumentalist Dominc Gentry. Originally starting his career with his solo writing and recording project Attaque, the British multi-instrumentalist and producer has had a rather interesting career trajectory — he initially wrote and produced hard techno singles released to critically praise through some of the world’s renowned electronic music labels including KitsuneBoys NoizeTurbo and others. However, with the release of his acclaimed full-length Only You — in particular, album single “Only You” — Gentry’s sound had gone through a decided change of sonic direction with his sound becoming breezily ethereal and atmospheric in a fashion that reminded me quite a bit of Octo Octa’s impressive Between Both Sides

Gentry spent the better part of 2015 touring to support Only You — playing Secret Garden Party and London’s renowned club KOKO among countless others; however, after last November’s terrorist attacks in Paris, Gentry felt it was inappropriate to continue with the Attaque moniker and decided it was time for a new direction. And so he starts off 2016 with his latest project Light Falls.

“Prism” the latest single from the British producer pairs shimmering and bubbling cascades of synths with distorted and chopped up vocal samples and stuttering drum programming in a hyper-modern, sleek and sinuous club banger that reminds me quite a bit of the aforementioned Octo Octa’s Between Both Sides and Snap!‘s “Rhythm Is A Dancer,” as the song possesses a swooning Romanticism.

 

 

 

 

 

Last month, I wrote about the NYC-based electro funk/neo-disco production and artist duo Holy Ghost!. And with the release of their 2011 self-titled debut, 2013’s Dynamics through renowned indie dance label DFA Records and their 2015 self-released remix album, Work For Hire, the duo comprised of Alex Frankel and Nicholas Millhiser have seen a growing national and international profile, which has resulted in the duo remixing the work of Katy PerryLCD SoundsystemMoby and a lengthy list of others; made national TV appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show with David Letterman; toured with the legendary New Order; and played sets at some of this country’s and the world’s biggest festivals including CoachellaOutside LandsPrimavera Sound and Bonnaroo.

April 29, 2016 will mark the release of the Crime Cutz EP through DFA Records, and the EP’s first single and title track “Crime Cutz” further cements the duo’s reputation for crafting slickly produced  retro-futuristic electronic funk as the duo pairs shimmying synths, early 80s hip-hop break beats, undulating and swirling 8 bit electronics and a sinuous bass line paired with ethereal yet sensually cooed vocals and anthemic hooks. Sonically, the song seems to draws so much influence from Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit,” that it sounds as though it could easily back in 1983.

Recently, Eli Escobar remixed “Crime Cutz” and while his remix retains the retro-futuristic feel of the original, as well as its anthemic hooks, Escobar’s remix is much more propulsive and forceful — layers of shimmying and shimmering synths are paired with stuttering and skittering drum programming, a driving motorik groove, 8 bit bloops and bleeps and ethereal yet sensually cooed vocals that pushes the song in the direction of The Man Machine and Radioactivity-era Kraftwerk and classic house music; in other words, it’s an infectious and slickly produced club banger with an expansive groove.

 

Last month, I wrote about the New York-based dream pop/electro pop duo Paperwhite. And with the release of their 2014 debut EP, Magic,  the duo comprised of siblings Katie and Ben Marshall exploded onto the blogosphere; in fact, the duo earned the title of “Most Blogged Abotu Artist” twice — and that shouldn’t be surprising as their incredibly contemporary sound pairs lush melodies and super anthemic hooks. Building on that buzz that they received a few years ago, the duo’s forthcoming EP Escape is slated for a Spring release, and if you were frequenting last month you might recall that I wrote about the EP’s first single “Unstoppable,” a single that I think will further cement the duo’s reputation for pairing lush melodies and anthemic hooks with Katie Marshall’s ethereal in a way that’s contemporary  as it’s reminiscent of St. Lucia and yet is also reminiscent of radio friendly 80s synth pop.

Escape‘s latest single “On My Own” continues on the same sonic path as “Unstoppable” as the duo pairs Marshall’s plaintive and earnest vocals with layers of propulsive and undulating synths and anthemic hooks in a song that clearly draws from 80s synth pop — but with a breezy and contemporary production sheen that’s reminiscent of St. Lucia, Haerts and several others.