Category: Single Review

 

Comprised of Susie Wedderburn, Rick David, Jana Tyrrell, and Hannah Ashman, the London-based alternative  electro pop quartet Liskka have developed a reputation across the UK for a sound that draws from electro pop, contemporary R&B, glitch, dub step and other electronic music genres while managing to sound nothing like any of them. The British quartet’s latest single “Keep Me Awake” pairs warm blasts of horn, oboe and piano with glitchy synth stabs, stuttering kick drum and drum programming, swirling electronics, layers of vocals fed through vocoder and other effects with soulful vocals in a song that sounds inspired by Timbaland‘s influential production work with Missy Elliott think of a song like “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” Aaliyah‘s “Try Again,” Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body” and others — but somehow even more futuristic, as though the song was produced in the year 2321.

 

The song manages to possess an eerie and otherworldly quality that stems from an overall sound that’s dense and yet incredibly delicate. To my ears, the instrumentation and the vocals sound as though they could snap if you were to put gentle pressure on them.

 

 

 

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Finish electronic music act Husky Rescue have developed a reputation across both their native Finland and Scandinavia for a songwriting approach that focuses on restless experimentation — and for material that sonically and aesthetically walks a very careful tightrope between anxious tenseness and childlike innocence.  The band’s last album The Long Lost Friend will be re-issued worldwide on December 11 as a double album — the first album is comprised of original album’s eight previously released tracks; however, since the initial recording sessions and release of Long Lost Friend, vocalist Johanna Kalén left the band because of health issues, so the second album consists of material written by Marko Nyberg (vocals and production), and Antony Bentley (composer and musical director).

Now if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past month, you may recall that I’ve written about Husky Rescue and Long Lost Friend‘s first single “Deep Forest Green.” But some backstory may be a little necessary: According to press notes, there actually is a real story of a long lost friend that informs the material on original album. As the story goes, the long lost friend in question was someone Nyberg was particularly close to throughout most of his childhood — in fact, the two played music together and had a deep mutual understanding that comes from very close friendships. Sadly, the two friends lost touch with each other through most of their twenties, but while Nyberg was writing the songs on Long Lost Friend, he had regained contact with this dear friend. Reportedly, the material as a whole blends the literal and metaphorical, so the material manages to be about more than just one individual friendships — but varying states of emotional intimacy and how difficult and confusing it is to attain them.

Whereas album single “Deep Forest Green” seemed to sound as though it owed a sonic and thematic debt to the work of Bjork, Talking Heads and others, the album’s latest single “Far From The Storm,”pairs Kalén’s lovely yet ethereal vocals with gently strummed guitar chord sample, twinkling keys and gently undulating synths. The song concludes with coda that’s one part psychedelic and one part ominous as it features a towering and buzzing guitar solo. Sonically and structurally, the song seems as though it draws from Moonbabies fantastic Wizards on the Beach and Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” — or in other words, cinematic dream pop with an even breezier nature and catchy hooks.

 

 

 

 

 

Over the better part of the past year,  Detroit, MI-based duo Gosh Pith have become JOVM mainstays while winning the attention of the blogosphere for a sound and songwriting approach that focusses on capturing a specific feeling or sensation, rather than capturing a concrete narrative. considering that the duo, comprised of Josh Smith (vocals, guitar and production) and Josh Freed (samples, synths and production) reportedly started the project after a drunken and psychedelics fueled late night walk through the streets of Paris in which they found themselves moved and marveled by the sounds of their voices echoing of narrow streets, the focus on capturing mood before anything else shouldn’t be surprising. However, interestingly enough, over the past year the duo have been experimenting with their sound and songwriting approach over that same period of time — with their sound gradually becoming warmer and guitar becoming much more prominent and obvious throughout.

The Detroit-based indie electro pop duo close out a big 2015 with a set at Rough Trade on December 17 and with the release of their latest single “Gold Chain,” which the duo have described as “. . . a ratchet love song about the constant conflict between the meaningful and the meaningless.” Sonically the song pairs swirling electronics, bleeps and bloops, boom bap beats, skittering drum programming, strummed bluesy guitar chords with Freed’s earnest falsetto signing lyrics about longing for a particular lover, comparing them to a gold chain, which clearly has a financial value but doesn’t necessarily have a deep emotional meaning; in some way it’s a bizarre pick up line that’s both ridiculous and kind of endearing. Interestingly, the song may be the most R&B-leaning song the duo have released to date.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Mark Dobson, the creative mastermind behind the British electronic music sensation Ambassadeurs has developed a reputation as a producer and electronic music artist for a sound that employs the use of samples that have been processed beyond recognition and that’s informed by dub, hip-hop, jazz, and drum ‘n’ bass. And as result of his signature sound and production style, Dobson has also become a go-to producer as he’s done work for a number of renowned labels including Tru Thoughts, Ninja Tune, Moshi Moshi, Fat Cat, Wah Wah 45s, Universal, and Rough Trade — all while heading his own label, Lost Tribe Records and releasing a number of free singles for his rapidly growing fanbase. (He currently has 35,000 followers and his singles on SoundCloud have exceeded over 7 million plays.)

Dobson has received airplay from several BBC Radio 1 personalities,  as well as praise from the likes of The Fader, Mixmag, Vice, i-D, Clash, XLR8R and others, and as a result he has opened for the likes of renowned artists such as  ODESZA, Machinedrum, The Gas Lamp Killer, Danny Brown, Gold Panda, Daedelus and Kelpe, had a 15 date co-headline tour across North America with Daktyl and played at festivals such as Hard Day Of The Dead, Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival, and The Sound You Need Festival.

2015 has been a rather busy and prolific year for the London-based electronic music artist and producer as his debut effort Patterns was released to critical praise earlier this year, along with a number of EPs. Building up on the increasing buzz and serving as a teaser for his forthcoming 2016 efforts, Dobson recently released his latest single “Halos,” which was written and recorded during a vacation in the country — and in some way that vacation has influenced the single’s sound as it is reportedly much more organic than his previously released work as layers of staccato synths are paired with skittering drum programming, swirling electronics and soulful vocal samples with warm bursts of strings and twinkling keys. Sonically, the song seems to be equally influenced by Peter Gabriel (think of “Shock the Monkey” and “Biko“) as it is by house music; as I listened to the song I was reminded of Octo Octa‘s Between Two Selves. In other words, the material manages to be atmospheric and melodic, while possessing a cinematic quality.

 

 

 

Comprised of  Juan Ledesma, Charlie Woods, Alex Lopez, and Robert Villar, the Miami, FL-based indie dance pop quartet Krisp formed back in 2011, and over the past few years they’ve developed a reputation for a groove-based, 80s inspired synth pop sound that possesses elements of indie electro pop, chill wave and indie rock.

Their debut EP, Mamani Vice was released in 2012 to critical praise from the likes of Earmilk and Indie Shuffle, and as a result they’ve opened for the likes of LCD Soundsystem‘s Nancy Whang, Miami Horror, Junior Boys, Blood Orange and Holy Ghost! among others, which has expanded their profile nationally. Their follow-up EP Sonic Monarch which South Florida-based talent house Gummdrops will be releasing in January will be comprised of material that is a subtle change of sonic direction. As the band’s Alex Lopez mentioned to the folks at Indie Shuffle, “On our first EP, Mamani Vice, we used a lot of synths and electric drums. For the new material on Sonic Monarch EP, it’s more organic, because its instrument-driven. We’re still using Charlie Wood’s synths, but not Juan’s or mine. We’ve got a funk/indie/electronic style going.”

The EP’s first single “167” pairs layers of  atmospheric, shimmering and cascading synths, four-on-the-floor drumming, angular funk guitar chords, a sinuous bass line and plaintive vocals in a song that sounds indebted to 80s New Wave and post-punk — in particular, the song reminds me quite a bit of an atmospheric and propulsive version of The Fixx’s “The Sign of Fire,”and “Red Skies at Night” with a slight surf rock leaning; it’s a danceable and goofily fun song that manages to evoke watching American Bandstand in the mornings and singing along to your favorite songs.

As I’ve said countless times on this site, more than enough ink has been spilled over the course of New Order‘s 35 year history, so delving into their background isn’t necessary; but what I will maintain is that throughout the band’s history they’ve managed to balance that rare and difficult tightrope of being both critically and commercially successful. And as a result they’ve also managed to be incredibly relevant, as a growing number of bands have cited them and their sound as a major influence.  Certainly, if you’re a child of the 80s as I am, Duran Duran, Guns ‘N Roses, Def Leppard, Run DMC, New Order and a lengthy list of others will likely hold a very dear place in your heart. So it wouldn’t be terribly surprising that a number of artists have covered New Order over the years — with an increasing frequency of late. . .

Now if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three or four weeks, you might recall that I’ve written about the San Francisco-based indie pop artist Mike Deni’s solo recording project Geographer. The project has developed a reputation for crafting a thoughtful and deliberate sound that meshes blossoming synths with precise orchestral arrangements. And with the release of his critically praised, third, full-length effort, Ghost Modern through Roll Call Records earlier this year, Deni has expanded his profile towards greater national attention.

Interestingly, while taking some time off to write new material over the summer, Deni had worked on a cover/reworking of Arthur Rusell‘s “This Is How We Walk On The Moon,” and the cover was so inspiring to the San Francisco-based electronic music artist that he decided that he should work on an entire effort of covers — and the result was he recently released Endless Motion EP, which features reworking and covers of songs by New Order, Kate BushPaul Simon and Felix Da Housecat.

The EP’s latest single is a cover of New Order’s “Age of Consent” that seems fairly straightforward as Deni has retained all the familiar elements of the song with an exacting verisimilitude; however, Deni’s vocals have a swooning and plaintive quality that pulls the song’s heartache and despair front and center. And although it’s an incredibly subtle and nuanced interpretation, the Geographer cover should remind listeners that New Order wrote a number of songs that wound up becoming remarkably timeless. Check out how it stands up to New Order’s original below.

Formed by founding member and siblings Neil and Martha Weil, the Minneapolis, MN-based indie rock act The Chambermaids have gone through a number of lineup changes in their history. When the band’s newest members Ollie Moltaji and Max Schramm were recruited, the members of the new lineup felt an immediate chemistry. And as the story goes, rather than playing a number of live gigs or setting up an extensive tour, the members of the band immediately went into the studio to work on new material, integrating Neil Weir’s studio, Old Blackberry Way into their songwriting process. Naturally some songs came together quickly while others wound up reinventing themselves with the result being a dreamy yet subtly expansive take on reverb-heavy minimalism.

Although the band is putting the finishing touches on their forthcoming and yet untitled new album, which will be released through Old Blackberry Way/Guilt Ridden Pop Records, the album’s first single “Tall Trees” is a slow-burning, dreamy and reverb-filled bit of shoegaze-leaning material that feels and sounds as though it were inspired by The Verve‘s  A Storm In Heaven and A Northern Soul — in particular, “Already There” and “Stormy Clouds.”

 

So if you’ve been frequenting the site over the last few months, you’d likely be familiar with the Los Angeles-based quintet Lady Low have become something of a mainstay, as I’ve written about the band a handful of times over the past few months. Of course, because there are almost always new folks to the site — or some folks who need their memories refreshed, let’s discuss some backstory: Comprised of founding member Jimmy Sweet (guitar, vocals), who as once a member of the San Francisco, CA-based punk band Richmond Sluts and a touring member of Hot Hot Heat, Rachel Maxann (vocals, synth and bass), Eden Lee (vocals, drums), Kaitlin Wolfberg (violin) and Hannah Blumenfeld (violin), the quintet have received quite a bit of attention from this site and across the blogosphere for a sound that the members of the band has dubbed “Romance rock.” Sonically, they combines s straightforward, old-school, rock ‘n’ roll three chord, 12-bar blues approach with gorgeously lush string arrangements which gives their material a gritty yet swooning (and of course, dramatic) feel that also manages to indirectly channel Phil Spector’s classic “Wall of Sound.”

They’ve recently released a moody and swooning Christmas-inspired song that sounds as though it could have been released in 1962 as soaring strings are paired with layers of plaintive harmonies. Lyrically, the song concerns itself with a relationship ending right around the holiday and how miserable the holiday season can be when you’re single and heartbroken. Although kitschy as most Christmas-inspired pop songs are, it possesses a heartfelt sentiment that should be familiar to anyone who actually has been heartbroken during the holidays when everyone else seems to be happy.

Originating as the solo recording project of David Miller, the Chicago, IL-based lo-fi/punk/psych rock quartet Strange Faces expanded to a quartet when Miller recruited Taylor Walters (guitar), Philip Valdez (bass) and Ben Leach (drums) to flesh out and complete the project’s sound. “Brand New Way,” off the quartet’s soon-to-be released debut effort Stonerism is a swaggering, scuzzy bit of psychedelic  lo-fi reminiscent of Crocodiles and Raccoon Fighter as the album’s first single pairs buzzing guitar chords, a tight and propulsive rhythm section, big hooks and vocals fed through layers of distortion. And despite it’s swaggering nature, at its core is a bruised and aching heart as the song’s narrator talks about moving on from crushing loneliness while capturing the youthful restlessness and rebellion that’s always been the rock ‘n’ roll spirit.