Category: Single Review

 

Comprised of Kristin Henry (vocals) and Brad Boettger (production), Seattle, WA-based  duo NAVVI have developed a reputation for crafting brooding and propulsive electro pop; in fact, the duo have had their work appear on a compilation curated by renowned French electronic label Kitsune, and they’ve received press from a variety of media outlets including NME, Brooklyn Vegan, Impose, The Line of Best Fit and Jay Z’s Life+Times, among others. Building on the early buzz they’ve received, the Seattle-based duo will be releasing their long-awaited full-length debut Omni later this week through Hush Hush Records.

Now earlier this month, I wrote about “Close,” Omni‘s gorgeously minimalist electro pop first single thad the duo pairing Henry’s sultry and intimately with a sleek and hyper-modern production consisting of crisp, yet stuttering drum programming, ambient, swirling electronics, bleeps, bloops and boops, layers of shimmering and buzzing synths. and a propulsive groove while reminding me quite a bit of BRAIDS’ Flourish//Perish and Octo Octa’s Between Both Selves; in other words, the single possess a bracing and icy chill that belies an urgent and swooning Romanticism. Omni‘s second and latest single “What Reason Do We Need?” will further cement the Seattle-based duo’s reputation for crafting chilly and atmospheric electro pop as you’ll hear stuttering and skittering drum programming, swirling electronics, trembling bleeps and bloops and beeps and tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with Henry’s sultry yet ethereal vocals. Sonically, the song reminds me a bit of Bear in Heaven‘s I Love You It’s Cool but with a plaintive Quiet Storm-like sensuality at its core.

 

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Perhaps best known for stints drumming in several band including Shilpa Ray’s backing band, Robert Preston relocated to Los Angeles for a change of scenery and began his solo recording project Pink Mexico. And while in L.A., Preston wrote, recorded and self-released his solo debut pnik mexico in June 2013. Interestingly, pnik mexico caught the attention of Austin, TX-based indie label Fleeting Youth Records who re-released Preston’s debut effort the following December.

Preston then relocated back to Brooklyn to began writing and recording his sophomore effort while having quite a few things released last year including a split 7 inch with Los Angeles-based band SunLikeDrugs and a 12 inch vinyl pressing of pnik mexico by the Bordeaux, France-based label Big Tomato Records. And with a growing national and international profile, Preston caught the attention of renowned indie label Burger Records, who later signed him. Interestingly, his forthcoming, sophomore effort fool was written in windowless 10×10 rooms between Los Angeles and Brooklyn, reportedly fueled by nasty hangovers, cheap coffee and cigarettes. “Buzz Kill,” fool‘s first single has Preston and company pairing layers of buzzing guitar chords, propulsive drumming, throbbing bass chords and Preston’s ethereal vocals floating through a sludgy mix in a song that compares favorably to contemporary garage rock/fuzz rock/garage fuzz bands like Fuzz, Wavves, Thee Oh Sees and others — but with an underlying and infectious breeziness to the sludge and scum.

fool is slated for a June 24 through Burger Records here in the States and Big Tomato Records in Europe. Along with that Preston and company will be playing a number of local shows, including a big record release show on June 25. Check out the dates below and be on the lookout for a full tour using the fall.
Live Dates:
June 1 – Goldsounds
June 8 – Sunnyvale (Northside Festival)
June 25 – Shea Stadium (Release Show)

 

 

 

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of Afrobeat godfather and pioneer Fela Kuti‘s tragic and untimely death from AIDS, and in that time Kuti’s influence has managed to loom rather largely over contemporary music from Africa and elsewhere as countless bands have expanded upon the sound and aesthetic that the influential and controversial Nigerian created. And I suspect that if Kuti were alive today, the 78 year old would likely be amazed at the diverse nationalities and ethnicities, who have adopted his sound, aesthetic and message to their own particular situations, while picking up on the larger, global context that Kuti always managed to write about. But if there’s one thing I’m certain that Fela would never have imagined actually existing it would be this — Swedish Afrobeat.

Comprised of Frida Eleonore Winlöf (trumpet),  Christopher Ali Thorén (tenor sax), Jonas ‘Finland’ Rönnqvist (alto sax), Fredrik Brändström (keys), Jesper Lundquist (guitar), Tobias Alpadie (guitar), Vilhelm Bromander (bass), Wille Alin (drums), Celso Paco (congas and vocals), Jon Olofsson (percussion), and Mattias Hidemo (claves, fiddle), the twelve-member Stockholm, Sweden-based collective Music is the Weapon may arguably be Sweden’s best (and seemingly only) Afrobeat outfit. Although Sweden isn’t particularly known for a funk scene, as the band’s co-founder Christopher Ali Thorén explains in press notes “We’re not fighting the same fight in Sweden as Fela did in Nigeria, of course, but I feel that in some way it’s political to play this kind of music in clubs here. We give people the experience of big live band playing raw funk. For me it’s an act of resistance all its own.” Of course, as Thorén and   the rest of the band have also discovered, their fellow countrymen are starving for Kuti’s particular brand of funk.

The Stockholm-based collective’s latest full-length effort Sweet Choral Motion was released through Fashionpolice Records and from the album’s opening track “Black Hole,” the Swedish collective reveals an inventive take on Fela’s signature sound as the composition employs the use of complex polyrhythm that sounds as though it owes a debt to the Caribbean, enormous horns and an equally complex song structure that would make the legendary Nigerian godfather of the genre proud while gently expanding what contemporary Afrobeat can sound like, as the Swedish act’s sound also seems to employ elements of hip-hop and cosmic funk to the mix.

 

 

 

Queue, an indie rock quintet with members split between Philadelphia and Washington, DC is comprised of five college friends — Olivia Price, Tyler Ringland, Aida Mekonnen, Dan Snelling and Steve Vannelli — who were all originally in other bands, and decided that they needed to write music together. Interestingly, the decision to work together coincided with graduation and adult responsibilities, which eventually forced the members of the band to write and collaborate via the Internet. After about a year writing and recording demos, the members of the Philadelphia and Washington, DC-based quintet  convinced at Degraw Sound Studios in Brooklyn to record the material that would comprise the band’s forthcoming self-titled EP, slated for a late June release.

With the release of “Falling Into Skies,” the first single off their self-titled EP, the indie rock quintet quickly received praise across the blogosphere, and as soon as you hear “More,” the second and latest single off the forthcoming EP, you’ll see why: the quintet pairs a gorgeous and melancholy melody with folky, strummed guitar chords, shimmering synths, propulsive drum programming and percussion and swirling electronics in a n ethereal yet buoyant song that effortlessly meshes electro pop with singer/songwriter folk; in fact, as the band’s Olivia Price noted to the folks at Consequence of Sound, lyrically the song captures the inner monologue of a narrator, who is in the middle of a crippling identity crisis as they desire something much better and not only has the narrator need to accept that actually getting that something better can actually require a ton of effort, they also have to accept that sometimes all of that effort can be for naught.  And as a result, the song conveys a bitter and uneasy jumble of emotions.

 

 

 

 

 

Fronted by its creative mastermind Seth Sutton, San Francisco-based (by way of Memphis, TN) punk act Useless Eaters forthcoming effort Relaxing Death is slated for a June 3, 2016 release through John Dwyer and Matt Jones’ renowned indie label Castle Face Records, and from the album’s latest single “Electrical Outlet,” the Bay Area-based punk act will further cement their reputation for crafting tense tightly wound, anxious, hallucinatory synth punk — in this case layers of buzzing and angular synth chords and razor sharp drum machine loops are paired with shouted vocals in a bilious and frenetic song that evokes the inner workings the mind of a paranoid insomniac.

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Jacqueline Caruso (keys and vocals) and Augustus Green (bass, synth, production/beats and sound design), Washington, DC-based psych pop duo The Galaxy Electric specialize in a sound and aesthetic that mixes Brazilian bossa nova and Tropicalia, 60s psychedelia and early synthesizer experimentation; in fact, adding to that aesthetic, the duo utilizes old-fashioned, lo-fi recording techniques, as well as the use of sound design-inspired arrangements and old-timey reverb and echo devices to craft a trippy and immersive sound that seemingly comes out of 1967.

“Temporal,” the latest single off the duo’s forthcoming Everything Is Light and Sound consists of Caruso’s gorgeous vocals paired with twisting and turning synth chords, bop-era jazz syncopated drumming and a sinuous bass line filtered through gentle layers of reverb and echo, and the result is an ethereal and trippy song  that focuses on the both the nature of time and our experience of it; all while evoking a similar vision of the future presented by the 1964 World’s Fair — a hopeful world that has used science and technology to solve humanity’s greatest problems in an efficient and timely fashion.

 

 

 

Alt country/folk-rock/blues-rock artist Lee Miles, best known Chief Ghoul has quickly become a JOVM mainstay artist for a sound that channels and owes a major debt to the Delta Blues — in particular, the blues of Lightnin’ HopkinsBlind Willie JohnsonRobert JohnsonMuddy Waters‘ acoustic blues and John Lee Hooker as Miles’ work had a tendency to be sparse, most self-accompanied and concerned itself with some prototypical blues themes and motifs. Seeking to expand the project’s sound, Miles recruited Chase Coryell (bass) and Justin Brown (drums) to flesh out the project’s sound, expanding the project to a full-time trio.

Damned is Miles’ fourth Chief Ghoul album, and the album’s latest single “Let Me In” is a twangy ballad that sonically draws from outlaw country and the blues — and that shouldn’t be surprising as the song’s narrator sings ruefully about a lover with whom he had a conflicting and confusing relationship; in typical blues fashion, the narrator recognizes that the love interest is dangerous to him and yet he can’t pull himself away.

 

 

 

Publicly claiming Arcade Fire and Talking Heads as major influences and with each member having musical backgrounds in a number of different genres including rock, country, jazz and electronica, New York-based indie rock quintet AMFM — comprised of David Caruso (vocals, guitar), Harper James (guitar, synth, keys), Gian Stone (drums), Dan Shuman (bass) and Steve DeVito (guitar) — have started to receive attention for a sound that draws equally from contemporary indie rock and classic rock as you’ll hear on the band’s latest single “Heroes,” a rousing and anthemic single about the desire to live life your way and only your way, with no regrets.

Sonically, the New York-based quintet pair anthemic and infectious hooks with shimmering guitar chords, a propulsive Station to Station-era Bowie-like rhythm section, an uncanny sense of melody and harmony and punchily delivered lyrics, which remind me quite a bit of New Radicals‘ “You Get What You Give” but while subtly evoking the desperate desire to change the course of one’s life — and of hitting the road with intention of leaving everything behind.

Holy Bouncer is a Barcelona, Spain-based indie rock quintet, who will be releasing their full-length debut later this year, and from the album’s second and latest single “Hippie Girl Lover,” the band specializes in a sound that clearly draws from early era The Doors (their self-titled album in particular), Steppenwolf‘s “Magic Carpet Ride” and the incredible Brown Acid proto-metal/proto-stoner rock compilations released by the folks at RidingEasy Records, complete with a gritty, primal, and grungy self-assuredness. Certainly, if it wasn’t for the subtle, contemporary production sheen — you’ll notice it with a pair of good headphones or a good speaker — the song sounds as though it could have been released in 1966, and some devoted record collector or blogger stumbled upon this one in a dusty, used record store in Milwaukee or Albany. But perhaps much more important, is that Holy Bouncer along with Madrid‘s The Parrots should prove that Spain has a vital and burgeoning indie rock scene that’s worthy of international attention.

Currently comprised of primary members Tres Warren (vocals, guitar) and Elizabeth Hart (bass) along with a rotating cast of collaborators and friends, New York-based psych rock act Psychic Ills have developed a reputation over the past decade for following wherever their muses takes them. Interestingly, the band’s forthcoming and highly-anticipated fifth full-length effort Inner Journey Out stems from the culmination of three years of playing shows, touring, writing and recording — and reportedly, the album finds the band expanding upon the sound and aesthetic that first caught the attention of the blogosphere as the album’s material possesses elements of country, blues, gospel and jazz. In fact, whereas the previous records found Warren overdubbing himself to create a blown-out, widescreen sound, Inner Journey Out focuses on Warren and Hart’s collaborations with an array of highly-accomplished guests including Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, touring keyboardist Brent Cordero, Chris Millstein, Endless Boogie’s Harry Druzd, The Entrance Band’s Derek James, Charles Burst and a host of friends and associates, who also provide pedal steel guitar, horns, strings and backing vocals. Thematically speaking, the new album explores the interior and exterior and the pathway between the two — and as you’ll hear on the album’s latest single “Baby,” the album’s sound manages to be much more intimate and plaintive, while drawing from The Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter” and Pink Floyd’s The Great Gig in the Sky” but with a subtle yet gorgeous country twang underneath the moody psychdelia.

At the core of the song is a narrator, who has spent a long time seeking love and recognizing that he’s stumbled upon the love he’s always needed while quietly suggesting that when we love others and share ourselves with others, that we find our true, essential selves. And as a result, the sentiment gives the song a quiet contemplative nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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