Category: Single Review

Kevin Rodrigues is a Paris-born and-based electronic music artist, producer and DJ, best known in electronic music circles as Worakls. Rodrigues, who grew up in a musical family, started to learn the piano when he had turned three. After studying in a conservatory, he started to dedicate his time to electronic music and composition.

After receiving acclaim for his remixes and his earliest solo releases, Rodrigues along with his friends N’to and Joachim Pastor founded Hungry Music in 2014. Since the formation of Hungry Records, Rodrigues has been praised by Billboard, who referred to him as a “rising French DJ” and described his tracks as “serious techno with a light touch,” full of focused, nervous energy.”

In 2019, the rising French electronic music artist, DJ and producer released his full-length debut Orchestra. The label went on a brief hiatus — and they returned with a slew of releases including a series of remixes to celebrate the second anniversary of Orchestra‘s initial release.

Recently, Patrice Bäumel, an acclaimed East German-born, Amsterdam-based electronic music artist, DJ and producer remixed Orchestra album track “Detached Motion.” The remix finds Bäumel retaining the arpeggiated and gently morphing synths of the original, the East German-born, Dutch-based producer’s take feels cinematic and expansive, with the track slowly and continuously building up energy and tension paired with a muscular and insistent thump and euphoric hooks. Sonically, the song — to my ears, at least — is a seamless synthesis of Tour de France-era Kraftwerk and deep house, imbued with a cosmic sheen.

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Sofi Tukker — Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern — is an acclaimed, Grammy Award-nominated, electro pop duo with a long-held reputation for crafting an inclusive and global take on electro pop/dance pop centered around self-empowerment, unity and liberation.

Despite the fact that they were unable to tour as a result of pandemic-related shutdowns and restrictions, the JOVM mainstays have had a very busy and productive year last year: they’ve hosted one 300 live-streamed DJ sets since the beginning of the pandemic. They’ve also released a prolific stream of remixes and new material, including their Christmas-themed collaboration with HOLZBLÄSERCarol Von Holz” and the playful yet thumping, house music meets “Vogue“-like collaboration with Icona Pop, “Spa.”

The long-time JOVM mainstays start off the new with the release of James Hype‘s remix of “Spa.” While retaining the mischievous and anthemic feel and “Vogue”-like vocal delivery, the British DJ’s take pushes the sound into deep house territory with the addition of a persistent and remarkably sultry groove. And as a result the mischievous anthem to self-love and self-care feels gloriously indulgent and sensual.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Here Lies Man Releases a Forceful New Ripper

Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays Here Lies Man — Marcos Garcia (vocals, guitar), Geoff Mann (drums), JP Maramba (bass) and Doug Organ (keys) — will be releasing their fourth album Ritual Divination through their longtime label home RidingEasy Records later this month. Ritual Divination reportedly finds the band crafting what may arguably be the best rendering of their long established aesthetic The Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays’ fourth album Ritual Divination reportedly finds the band crafting what arguably may the best rendering of their long-held aesthetic — Fela Kuti-inspired Afrobeat grooves paired with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin -like power chords — with heavier and bluesier guitars, while maintaining the rhythmic formula of the clave. “Musically, it’s an opening up to more traditional rock elements,” the band’s Marcos Garcia (vocals, guitar) explains in press notes. “It’s always been our intention to explore. And, as we travelled deeper into this musical landscape, new features revealed themselves.”

Interestingly, the album marks the first bit of recorded output from the band as a full-time quartet while continuing the band’s equally long-held songwriting concept: the band crafting the soundtrack to an imaginary movie int chic, each song applying to a particular scene of that movie. “It’s an inward psychedelic journey, the album is the trip,” Garcia says. “The intention and purpose of the music is to create a sonic ritual to lift the veil of inner space and divine the true nature of reality.” Ritual Divination’s material is self-reflexive but with song possessing its own narrative and emotional arc, rather than the trippy, trance-inducing jams of their previously released material.

Perhaps as a result of all of these changes, the album also finds the members of the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays eschewing the fuzz and distortion pedal driven riffs of their previously released material and focusing on a live, more dynamic feel and forceful sound.

Over the past few months, I’ve written about two of Ritual Divination’s released singles:

“I Told You (You Shall Die),” a lysergic ripper centered a mind-bending and expensive song structure featuring scorching Black Sabbath-like power chord riffs, Afrobeat-like polyrhythm and enormous, arena rock friendly hooks.
“Come Inside,” a sinister and menacing track centered round chugging power chords, a forceful motorik groove and chanted vocals darting in-and-around the song’s instrumentation.

Ritual Divination’s latest single “Collector of Vanities” continues an impressive run of forceful, Black Sabbath-like rippers featuring squiggling keys, thunderous drumming, chanted vocals and an rousingly anthemic hook. And much like its predecessor, the track finds the band seemingly conjuring evil spirits out of the ether.

Oakland-based dream pop trio There’s Talk — Olivia Lee, Kellen Balla and Young Lee — have developed and honed a sound that balances elements of experimental electro pop and reverb-drenched shoegaze in a way that has drawn comparisons to JOVM mainstays Beach House and M83.

Thematically, the tiro’s work draws from Olivia Lee’s Chinese heritage and queer identity, while specifically touching upon family, both biological and chosen — and divine coincidence. But interestingly enough, their sophomore EP, last year’s Great Falls focuses on mourning, grief, memories and longing inspired by the loss of someone very dear to the band’s frontperson. “Grief does not cease,” Olivia Lee writes on the band’s website, “It becomes a sort of friend to hold, and a reminder that we are alive to honor, to remember, to be present, to have a future and to live it as fully as you could ever dream.”

Great Falls‘ latest single “Ascension” is a hazy and slow-burning track centered around twinkling keys, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, Olivia Lee’s plaintive and ethereal vocals and a soaring hook. Bearing a resemblance to Bloom and Thank Your Lucky Stars/Depression Cherry-era Beach House and SoftSpot’s Clearing, “Ascension” feels like a half-remembered yet vivid dream fueled by longing and life’s sad lack of closure in anything.

Split between Malibu and Monaco, the emerging electronic music production and artist duo End of Code features the following:

  • Nicolas Saad, a Monaco-based DJ and electronic music producer, whose career can be traced back to the 1990s. Saad has developed a reputation for crafting tracks for French radio and TV.
  • Shawn Pereira, a Malibu-based model. who taught himself music while traveling the world modeling in campaigns for Ralph Lauren Polo Sport, Diet Coke and Tag Heuer.

Pereira met Saad while vacationing in St. Barth’s, a small French West Indies territory, that was once a Swedish colony for about 100 years. Bonding over an abiding love of deep house, the duo wound up writing, recording and producing their full-length debut, last year’s The Beginning — and since then, their music has become the official sound of BMW Monaco, playing in every new car sold. Building upon a growing profile, Pereira and Saad begin the new year with their latest single, the slickly produced “Deep Into Your Soul.” Centered around skittering beats, broodingly atmospheric synths, twinkling keys, wobbling low end and a soulful vocal, “Deep Into Your Soul” is a hook-driven and deliberate crafted club banger that manages to sound rather timeless — as though it could have been released in 1989, 1999, 2009, 2019 or just yesterday.

End of Code are working on their highly-anticipated follow-up to The Beginning, which they hope will be released later this year.

New Audio: Emerging French Emcee YNG Nine Releases a Radio Friendly Banger

YNG Nine is an emerging Haitian-French emcee, who can trace some of the origins of his music career to when he was in elementary school. Since then, the emerging Haitian-French emcee has committed himself to honing and perfecting his craft — while conveying a multitude of emotions to his listeners. Throughout his growing catalog, his work has featured songs meant to turn the fuck up to, songs meant to make you feel melancholy and others meant to make you feel energetic. And as a result, his work stylistically runs the gamut — with the French emcee bouncing between screamo, melodic and rhythmic flows. But importantly, his work comes from his own lived-in experiences.

Recently, YNG Nine has had tracks receive airplay on independent college radio stations across Canada and here in the States. Building upon a growing profile, the French-Haitian emcee closed out last year with “Observations.” Clocking in at a brisk 80 seconds, “Observations” is centered around skittering trap beats, wobbling and rubbery synths and YNG Nine’s dexterous and melodic flow, describing his hungry, take-no-prisoners mindset on taking over the game. Simply put, the track is a hook-driven, radio friendly banger.

New Audio: Foo Fighters Release an Enormous, Arena Rock Ripper

Early last year, Foo Fighters — Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, and Rami Jaffee — finished work on what would eventually become their tenth full-length album, the Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters co-produced Medicine at Midnight. Grohl and company originally intended for the album’s release to coincide with a massive world tour that the applauded act was about to embark on to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. Of course, much like countless acts and artists around the world, their plans were put on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The members of the band waited for a while before coming to the realization that music is mean to be heard, no matter what the environment actually was, “whether it’s in a festival field with 50,000 of our coolest friends or alone in your living room or on a Saturday night with a stiff cocktail,” the band’s Dave Grohl writes in a statement. So, they start off the New Year with the the explosive ripper “No Son of Mine.” Centered around chugging arena rock friendly riffs that nod at Ace of Spades-era Mötorhead, Kill ’em All-era Metallica and Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy,” a propulsive rhythm section with thunderous drumming and mosh pit friendly hooks, “No Son of Mine” is the sort of song meant to be played at ear-splitting volumes, while dreaming of the day that we can be in arena or festival ground chugging beers and rocking out with each other.

“This is the kind of song that just resides in all of us and if it makes sense at the time, we let it out,” Dave Grohl explains, adding, “Lyrically it’s meant to poke at the hypocrisy of self righteous leaders, people that are guilty of committing the crimes they’re supposedly against…”

Just imagine how cathartic, how joyous, how fucking urgent that moment will be when the lights come on and your favorite artist/band gets on that stage, and it’s felt like you’ve waited a lifetime to be in that room or on the festival ground, Although I know that day won’t be for a while, I’ve been dreaming of a moment that I’ve missed and longed for with a mad desperation. But it’s getting me through. And I can’t wait to be there with all of y’all.

In the meantime, Medicine at Midnight is slated for a February 5, 2021 release through Roswell Records/RCA Records.

New Audio: Joan Pérez-Villegas Releases a Breezy and Whimsical New Composition

Mallorca, Spain-born, Bern, Switzerland-based percussionist, composer, bandleader and producer Joan Pérez-Villeagas can trace the origins of his music career to when he began studying percussion at eight years ago old at the Conservatory of Music and Dance in Palma. When Villegas turned 19, he relocated to Barcelona, where earned a Bachelor’s in Classical and Contemporary Percussion at ESMUC. Interestingly, while in Barcelona, the Mallorca-born, Bern-based artist developed a deep interest in jazz and traditional music that led him to earn a Masters in Jazz Composition under the tutelage of Lluís Vidal.

Throughout his young career, Villegas has been involved with a diverse array of projects across an eclectic array of styles and genres including chamber music, classical symphonies, pop, traditional music, jazz and even scores for dance, theater, and film. During that same period, he has managed to be rather busy: he has studied with the Balearic Symphony Orchestra, been a guest artist at Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival (SICMF) 2016 in South Africa and at Festival Cistermusica 2016 in Portugal with his percussion duo Face two Phase, which won first prize at the fourth annual International Chamber Music Competition Cidade Alcobaça (CIMCA) in Portugal.

Released earlier this year, the Pérez-Villegas and Marc Urrutia co-produced, Blau Salvatge is Perez-Villages’ full-length debut as a compeer and bandleader. Recorded over the course of two days with Alberto Pérez at Barcelona’s Sol de Sants Studio and collection of friends and fellow students including Pau Lligadas (bass), Josep Cordobés (drums), Ariadna Rodríguez (violin), Pau Vidal (flute), Toni Pineño (clarinet), Joan Mar Sauqué (trumpet), Max Salgado (French horn), Leire Corpas (guitar) and of course, Pérez-Villegas (marimba and vibraphone) at Barcelona’s Sol de Sants Studio, the album’s material is centered around six kaleidoscopic compositions that manage to be individually distinct and focused on a different compositional process. And yet, each composition is part of a larger, cohesive whole.

Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “Valvé.” Centered around a cinematic and mind-bending arrangement, the composition finds a talented collection of young musicians darting, weaving, bopping and strutting through several different tempos and styles — including Birth of the Cool and Kind of Blue-era Miles Davis, Horace Silver, breezy Brazilian jazz, Spanish folk music and film and TV scores — while evoking contemplation, awe, wonder and childlike whimsy.

Blau Salvage’s latest single “Algorritme I” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as it’s a whimsical and breezy composition that features elements of hard bop, jazz fusion and film scores in a way that recalls Danny Elfman and JOVM mainstay Jonathan Scales. Of course, what truly makes the composition is the effortless yet soulful playing of each musician.

Throughout the course of last year, I wrote quite a bit about Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Jonny Couch. Couch initially began his music career as a drummer, who played in a number of local punk bands before completely reinventing himself and his music career with 2016’s debut EP Animal Instinct, a soulful take on 80s synth pop that drew comparisons to the legendary Bryan Ferry while receiving praise from Louder Than War and High Times

Last year saw the release of Couch’s Peter Mavrogeorgis-produced full-length debut Mystery Man, an effort that found the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstay further establishing a sound that’s indebted to and influenced by power pop and New Wave. “My favorite bands are Cheap Trick and Buzzcocks,” Couch said in press notes. But he goes on to explain that his solo work is deeply influenced by Nick Lowe with elements of Duran Duran and The Psychedelic Furs

Couch closes out 2020 with his latest single “Hideaway.” Released earlier this month, the single simultaneously marks the first bit of new, original material from the JOVM mainstay since the release of Mystery Man while continuing upon the synth-pop, power pop and New Wave-inspired sound that won him attention across the blogosphere. Featuring shimmering A Flock of Seagulls-like shimmering synths, twinkling keys, four-on-the-floor and the sort of anthemic hook that Phil Collins would love, “Hideaway” is a sweet love song centered around a classic pop trope: the desire to be in a sort of protective cocoon with your love, far from the madding crowd.

Alto is an emerging and mysterious British saxophonist and producer. His debut single “All Over You” is an upbeat and uplifting house music track, featuring a slick and shimmering production centered around twinkling keys, soulful vocals singing lyrics about longing and love paired with a catchy, pop-leaning alto saxophone hook. The end result is a track that manages to be radio friendly but with a club rocking thump.