Category: Single Review

If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over course of its history, you may recall coming across several posts on Brooklyn-based quintet Super Hi-Fi, who were something of a mainstay act on this site back in 2012. The core members of the band led by Ezra Gale (bass) features Rick Parker (trombone). Jon Lipscomb (guitar) and Madhu Siddappa (drums) can actually trace their origins to a rather unlikely start. Gale, who was a founding member of the acclaimed San Francisco-based Afrobeat act, Aphrodesia had relocated to Brooklyn and was collaborating with Quoc Pham in Sound Liberation Front when Gale was asked to get a band together for Pham and Gale’s then-monthly Afro-Dub Sessions parties in Williamsburg. The parties would pair the live band with several top-name dub producers and DJs including Victor RicePrince Polo, Subatomic Sound System, the Beverley Road All-Stars and others.

With the release of their critically applauded debut effort, Dub to the Bone released through Electric Cowbell Records in 2012, the Brooklyn-based quintet won quite a bit of attention locally and nationally as they’ve played renowned local venues such as the Mercury Lounge, the now-closed Zebulon and Brooklyn Bowl and have opened for nationally known acts including Rubblebucket, Beats Antique and John Brown’s Body. Over the past couple of years, Super Hi-Fi have recorded and released two 45s on Electric Cowbell, a split 7 inch with Ithaca, NY-based act Big Mean Sound Machine through Peace and Rhythm Records and  Yule Analog, Vol 1.,  a dub-inspired take on Christmas standards.

Super Hi-Fi’s soon-to-be released new album Yule Analog, Vol. 2 picks up on where Yule Analog, Vol 1. left off  — with dub-inspired takes on another batch of holiday classics and a holiday-inspired original dub composition. Featuring contributions from renowned trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, best known for his work with The Lounge Lizards, Bill Frisell and Charlie Hunter; Mitch Marus, best known for his work with Donovan, The Dean Ween Group, and Aphrodesia; as well as Adrian Harley and Alex Castle, who collaborate with Gale in the old school groove project, The Get It. And much like their previously recorded effort, Prince Polo took up production duties, recording the material on analog tape and mixed the album using vintage reverb and tape delay units — in the fashion of legendary dub masters King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Yule Analog Vol. 2′s latest single, which I have the unique privilege of premiering here is a trippy, dub rendition of an old time Christmas classic “O Come All Ye Faithful” which features the trombone-led compositions that won the attention of the blogosphere — the trombone gives the song a regal, old-timey feel while the reverb and bass heavy dub pushes the song towards a funky shoegazer territory. It’s a sunny and playful rendition of an extremely familiar song that puts a completely different spin on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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21 year-old Paris-based, French-Brazilian singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Yndi Ferreira is the creative mastermind behind indie electro pop project Dream Koala, a project that Ferriera started back in 2012. Interestingly, Ferreira developed a reputation of his production style as he quickly became a go-to remixer, remixing the work of Angel Haze, The 1975, BANKS and others — and as an artist, his debut single “We Can’t Be Friends” caught the attention of renowned acts including Fabolous, Doja Cat and the aforementioned BANKS.

Building on an increasing buzz around him, Ferreira released the critically applauded Odyssey EP and Earth. Home. Destroyed. EP which were informed by a variety of Ferreira’s influences including Flying Lotus, My Bloody Valentine, Radiohead, contemporary R&B which gave the material a spectral, shoegazer-like, introspective feel, along the lines of Beacon‘s For Now and The Ways We Separate while thematically exploring Afrofuturism and sci-fi.

Slated for a December 4 release, Ferreira’s soon-to-be released EP Exodus will reportedly continue thematically where the critically acclaimed Earth. Home. Destroyed. left off while cementing his reputation for crafting moody, spectral electro pop that seamlessly meshes elements of contemporary R&B, bass-heavy electronica and soft rock. “Dimension Sleeper,” Exodus‘ first single (and EP opener, by the way) pairs layers of slowly cascading synths, dub-inspired tweeter and woofer rocker bass fed through gentle washes of reverb and skittering drum programming with Ferreira’s plaintive and ethereal vocals in a song that evokes both the sensation of weightlessness and of wisps of smoke curling and rising heavenward before dissipating. And although possessing a retro-futuristic sound that would clearly sound at home in the early 80s, at the core of the song is a delicate and ancient ache that’s haunting and unsettling.

While playing this song I thought of the song’s narrator in a dying spaceship traveling through the cosmos, and the entire time the narrator is haunted by the lingering and inescapable ghost of a departed lover.

 

 

 

 

Up and coming, New Jersey-born pop artist Donna Missal first captured the attention of listeners and the blogosphere with her sultry and bluesy debut single “Keep Lying,” which paired Missal’s soulful, pop belter vocals with buzzing power chords, a propulsive rhythm section and anthemic hooks. Lyrically, the song’s narrator pleads with an unfaithful and deceitful lover to keep the facade of faithfulness so not to ruin her long-held fantasy. Is it cynical? Absolutely. But it evokes a deeply dysfunctional relationship — the sort where lies are just as useful and good as honesty. Somehow, I’ve been there once or twice before . . .

Building upon the buzz that “Keep Lying” has received Massal recorded a sultry and bluesy cover of Drake‘s massive hit “Hotline Bling” that turns up the vulnerable and sensual need of the original, essentially taking Drake’s hit song and confidently making it her own.

 

Check out how Donna Missal’s cover compares to the original.

Born and raised in Paris, the currently Los Angeles-based keyboardist, singer/songwriter and electronic music artist Morgane Lhote has had quite an impressive musical career, which includes stints in several different locales throughout the years. When Lhote was 20, she moved to London where she spent 12 — and during that period in the UK, between 1995-2001, Lhote was a member of Stereolab contributing on several of the band’s most beloved and critically applauded efforts, including Dots and Loops and Emperor Tomato Ketchup.  From 2002-2004, Lhote was a member of The Projects and she followed that project with a Garden, a side project featuring members of Simian Mobile Disco, before she started her own solo recording project, Hologram Teen.

Citing an incredibly diverse array of influences including MF DOOM, Francois De Roubaix, The GZAJudee Sill, ABBA, John Carpenter, Goblin, Gene Clark, E.L.O., Harpers Bizarre, King Tubby, Michel Legrand, Hot Chip, Supertramp, Luke Vibert, Martha and the Muffins, Soft Machine, Suzanne Ciani, Greg Kurstin and Chic, Lhote has described her latest project, Hologram Teen as “electronic music that’s playful and groovy (mostly influenced by disco and Italian horror soundtracks) with loads of diverse samples. This is a soundtrack to a movie where John Carpenter and Boris Karloff hang out at Studio 54 with German zombies dancing to ‘Thriller’ in the background.” She’s also jokingly described her sound as being “. . . like Fabio Frizzi meets Grandmaster Flash.”

Small, renowned label Deep Distance Records, a sister imprint of The Great Pop Supplement Records released Lhote’s most recent 7 inch “Post-Apocalyptecakes”/”Tracksuit Minotaur” earlier this month. “Tracksuit Minotaur” pairs layers of glimmering, undulating synths reminiscent of Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk‘s “Trans Europe Express” and John Carpenter soundtracks, skittering and stuttering drum programming, ominously swirling electronics and horror movie samples to craft a song that’s tense, danceable and sweepingly cinematic — while evoking dancing your cares away in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world. “Post-Apocalypteacakes,” featuring Buddy Cop pairs a sinuous bass line reminiscent of Chic, skittering drum programming, layers of undulating synths and horror movie samples and industrial clang and clatter to craft a song that sounds equally inspired by Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk,  LCD Soundsystem‘s 45:33, and Snap!‘s “Rhythm Is A Dancer.”

Lhote specializes in what may arguably be some of the most unique electronic music I’ve heard in some time — it’s relentlessly difficult to pigeonhole into any particular subgenre and it meshes different genres and periods in an effortless and seamless fashion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Massama Dogo (lead vocals, guitar), Clayton Englar (sax), Megan Nortrup (sax), Scott Aronson (bass), Franck Martins (lead guitar). and Aaron Gibian (percussion and drums), the Washington, DC-based sextet Elikeh has developed a reputation for material that sonically has been classified as Afropop, as it draws influence from Western Africa — frequently meshing traditional Togolese rhythms with rock, funk, jazz with lyrics that deal with global themes and personal journeys.

Dogo, the band’s leader was born in Togo and while in the African nation, he played and sang in several local bands, including a local band also named Elikeh, with whom he released one album, Nyade in 2007. Several years later, Dogo relocated to Washington, DC met the current lineup and then wrote, recorded and released their 2010 Stateside debut, Adje! Adje! The sextet’s 2012 release Between 2 Worlds featured renowned Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Toure and Further and Dark Star Orchestra‘s John Kadlecik received international attention in World Music circles.

As the story goes, the band was considering calling it quits, finishing out the songs they had booked and moving on to other creative endeavors. During a band meeting in which the members of the band were going to discuss their future and splitting up, the band’s guitarist Frank Martins kept playing the entire time. He came up with a musical idea, someone else would join in, another band member would join in and then everyone began jamming — until they developed a song. One of the sax players had recorded the jam session and while listening to that session, the members of the band realized that their break up talk was premature. “We’re all excited about the band now,” Dogo mentioned in press notes. “It’s lucky the guitarist didn’t want to put down his instrument. The EP saved us.”

 That jam session inspired “The Conversation,” which appears on the Washington, DC-based sextet’s recently released Kondona, an EP that gets it title from ” a ceremony they hold every five years in the northern part of my country,” Dogo explains. “It’s an initiation, a way to welcome the young men into the adult part of the community. It seemed right for what had happened to us, although we still have a long way to go.”
The EP’s first single the aforementioned “The Conversation” manages to possess clear elements of Afrobeat and sounds partially influenced by Fela Kuti (in particular Afrodesiac/Open and Close and Expensive Shit/He Miss Road-era Fela) and contemporary American Afrobeat bands, including fellow DC area band The Funk Ark, NYC’s Ikebe Shakedown and others,

as the song begins with an introductory section with soaring organ chords throughout  before establishing the tight, percussive groove that holds the entire song together, and allows for each section and each instrumentalist to show off their immense chops — and conversing with each other throughout the length of the song. Of course, each region of the world specializes in subtle variations of the genre so that Togolese Afrobeat won’t be exactly the same as American Afrobeat or Nigerian Afrobeat — and in the case of Elikeh, the band’s sound possesses subtle elements of highlife, the genre that influenced Fela, thanks to its upbeat feel. But interestingly enough there’s subtle elements of pop and other African traditional sounds, which helps to set them apart from a very crowded DC Afrobeat scene. And yet somehow, from listening to this single it’s surprising to me that they’re not much larger than what they currently are; hopefully, the blogosphere can get it right.

 

Since the release of their fantastic, full-length sophomore effort, Leave Me Midnight a couple of years ago, the Chicago-based duo  My Gold Mask have become JOVM mainstays as I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink about the duo and their work. Of course, in case you are new to the site — or just need your memory refreshed, some backstory is necessary:  Comprised of Jack Armondo (guitar, vocals) and Gretta Rochelle (vocals, percussion),  the duo spent time in Brooklyn and Baton Rouge, LA respectively, before relocating to Albuquerque, NM. Strangely enough, despite running in the same social circles, it wasn’t until Armondo and Rochelle finally relocated to Chicago, where they had a chance encounter at a rooftop party.

And as the story goes, the duo’s conversation quickly turned to music and their mutual love of Italian giallo films. In 2009, after completing a couple of short-lived rock projects involving other local musicians, Armando and Rochelle retreated and spent time experimenting with new sounds and broadening their artistic voices and the end result was their now-critically acclaimed duo My Gold Mask. Writing and recording their material in Chicago’s dimly-lit warehouse district has in some way influenced their overall sound and aesthetic. Assisted by long-time producer and collaborator Balthazar del Ley,  their sound seemed to subtly nod towards Phil Spector’s famed “Wall Of Sound” production style of the 60s — that is layers of instrumentation with cascading and swirling reverb.

Since the release of Leave Me Midnight, My Gold Mask have released a series of singles that have revealed a band expanding upon and refining the sound that won the duo national attention, and in a similar fashion to Yeah Yeah Yeahs It’s Blitz! — in particular, “Zero” and “Heads Will Roll.” “Battles,” the first single off the duo’s paired undulating synths, industrial clang and clatter, brief but explosive blasts of guitar, four-on-the-floor drumming  and anthemic hooks with Rochelle’s plaintive and ethereal vocals. And as you can imagine, the addition of electronics gave their soaring sound a futuristic and club-friendly sheen (which interestingly enough adds a some light to their dark and brooding material).

The album’s latest single “Connect” continues the album’s overarching change in sonic approach as synths and electronics play a big role; however, with “Connect” the approach is more of a gentle and subtle refinement. The soaring and anthemic hooks the duo are known for are still there but in this case, they’re paired with angular and buzzing power chords, electronic bleeps and bloops, swirling atmospheric synths and live drumming paired with electronic drums. Much like the album’s previous single, the song’s narrator bares their anxieties, obsessions and fears with an unadorned frankness to anthemic, shimmering dance rock.

 

 

Featuring former and current members of Grotto, The Hidden Chord, Rolling Blackouts (they have to win a best band name of the year award, right?), Bombay Sweets, Zoo Animal and Ghostmouth, punk quartet Ripper comprised of Jeff Brown (drums), Sean Chaucer Levine (guitar), Danny Holden (vocals, guitar) and Noah Paster (bass, vocals) joined forces to write and play 2-3 minute punk rock songs influenced by Dead Kennedys, The Germs, Sonic Youth and The Beach Boys with a furious, breakneck abandon.

The quartet’s second EP A.D. is slated for a December 4 release through Land Ski Records and Lawn Chair Records, and the EP’s latest single. which I have the pleasure of premiering, “Chain Fight” clocks in at a furious and breakneck 65 seconds of blistering guitar chords, layers upon layers of feedback, thundering drums and shouted lyrics. Listening to the track should make you want to jump into a mosh pit and stomp out.

 

 

Comprised of a group of high school classmates and friends, the Hershey, PA-based quartet The Ocean Blue quickly rose to national prominence with the critically applauded release of their debut effort through Sire Records back in 1989 — and of course, that also meant major radio and MTV airplay. The quartet went on to release two more well-received records through Sire, Cerulean and Beneath the Rhythm and Sound and a fourth album See the Ocean Blue through Mercury/PolyGram before leaving the major label game in the late 90s, which arguably made them one of the earliest and better known acts to do so.

In the 2000s (and that phrase just looks and sounds utterly doesn’t strange doesn’t it?), the band released several independent releases including Davy Jones Locker and Waterworks before going on a lengthy hiatus, which ended with the 2013 release of Ultramarine through Korda Records, a Minneapolis-based (where the band  cooperative label that the band helped launch.

Recently, the band re-issued their first three Sire Records releases on vinyl — for the first time in over 20 years — and to celebrate the occasion the band played a small handful of special shows playing material from those albums live, to celebrate the occasion.  And from what I hear, the band is working on a full-length of new material, slated for release sometime next year.

But in the meantime, the band shared a lost and previously unreleased single from the Sire Records days, “City Traffic” which consists of shimmering guitar chords played through gentle layers of reverb, soaring organ chords, propulsive drumming and plaintive vocals in a song that sounds as though it possesses elements of The Smiths and 120 Minutes-era alternative rock thanks to its anthemic hooks.

Over the past year or so, Memphis, TN-based  quartet Nots and their Stateside label home Goner Records have become JOVM mainstays as I’ve written quite a bit about both the band and their label; in fact, Goner Records have quickly established themselves as the label home to some of the country’s best hardcore punk and hard rock bands, as they have been the label home to the likes of Ex Cult, whose Midnight Passenger and Cigarette Machine EP have been two of the best (and angriest) punk albums I’ve heard in about 5 years, OBN IIIs who have released several albums of swaggering power chord party rock in the vein of early AC/DC, the late Jay Reatard and several others. And with the release of their debut effort, We Are Nots, the Memphis-based quartet comprised of Natalie Hoffman (guitar) and Charlotte Watson (drums), Madison Farmer (bass) and Alexandra Eastburn (synths) started to receive national attention for material that sounds as though it owes a debt to the 60s era garage rock, punk and new wave – but with a frenetic, unhinged and very visceral feel.  Personally, I think the Memphis-based quartet’s debut effort should have received much more attention as their sound and aesthetic can be compared favorably to The Fall, Bikini Kill, Protomartyr, The B52s and others.

Renowned British indie label Heavenly Records licensed Nots’ We Are Nots and are releasing the effort across the UK on the 20th. The quartet will touring across the UK and the Ehe European Union to support the British/EU release of their debut effort — and to further celebrate the British/EU release of We Are Nots, the band in concert with Heavenly Records released a 7 inch of non-album material featuring “Shelf Life” as a B side to their latest single “Virgin Mary.”

“Shelf Life” is a messy, murky, lo-fi garage psych rock song comprised of relentless, chugging guitar chords, propulsive drumming, layers of distortion and feedback and shouted vocals that rushes in and out in a breakneck 1:43. And although the song kick ass, it manages to reveal a band that’s subtly and playfully expanding their sound while remaining familiar.

 

 

 

 

Long-time friends Rhys Edwards and Rhys Williams conceptualized their current band, Ulrika Spacek during a single night in Berlin, a project that would be influenced by Television, Pavement, Sonic Youth and krautrock. Upon their return to their house KEN, a former art gallery in Homerton, the duo of Edwards and Williams began working on the material, which would eventually comprise their forthcoming full-length debut, The Album Paranoia slated for a February 5, 2016 release through Lefse Records and Tough Love Records. Three expert musicians were recruited to flesh out the project’s live sound and to complete their live show, which combined art installations with music.

The Album Paranoia’s first single “She’s A Cult” consists of angular and chugging guitar chords played with a gentle amount of reverb,  a tight rhythm section comprised of a propulsive drum beat and a throbbing bass line paired with soaring and anthemic hooks and ethereal vocals that float over an overall grungy mix. Although incredibly contemporary, the song sounds as though it could have been released during the 120 Minutes-era of MTV.