Category: Synth Pop

New Video: Acclaimed Indie Supergroup Mini Mansions Release a Glittering Disco-Tinged Visual for “GummyBear”

Comprised of Michael Shuman, Zach Dawes and Tyler Parkford, the Los Angeles-based indie rock supergroup Mini Mansions features a collection of highly acclaimed musicians, as the side project features members of Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets. Tracing their origins to when Queens of the Stone Age went on a hiatus in 2009, the trio of Shuman, Dawes and Parkford have released three EPs and two full-length albums —  2009’s self-titled and self-released EP,  2010’s self-titled full-length, 2012’s . . . Besides . . ., 2015’s The Great Pretenders and 2018’s Works Every Time EP all of which have established them for a sound that has been compared favorably by critics and fans to the likes of The Beatles, Elliot Smith, and Fountains of Wayne among others. 

Slated for a July 26, 2019 release through Fiction Records, the Shuman and Cian Riordan co-produced third album, Guy Walks Into A Bar finds Shuman relinquishing his drummer role to fully focus on vocals and lyrics with his Queens of the Stone Age bandmate Jon Theodore taking up drumming duties for the album. Interestingly, the album reportedly features some of Shuman’s most self-reflective and honest work he’s written, as the album’s lyrics are informed by a whirlwind relationship that he began with his ex-fiancee, who he met during a night out at a bar — with the album detailing aeach stage of the relationship from the beginning in which you’ve connected with someone and think they’re attractive and interested to falling in love to dramatically falling out of love. And the material may also arguably be he most pop leaning and sleekest material they’ve written to date. 

Interestingly, Guy Walks Into A Bar’s latest single is the slinky, dance floor friendly synth pop jam “GummyBear,” a track that sounds indebted to 80s synth funk and Giorgio Moroder-era disco and LCD Soundsystem, as the track is centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line and some complex polyrhythm. The recently released Liam Lynch-directed video further emphasizes the dance floor vibes, as it features a shit ton of neon and glitter drenched visuals. As Shuman remarks on the video ” We made a video for new single ‘GummyBear’ with our friend and comedic legend, Liam Lynch. Inspired by Saturday Night Fever and the classic videos of the early 2000’s, we created some serious visual eye candy for a song that sonically tastes the same. Pun intended.”

Liam Lynch says in press notes, “I’ve known Mike Shuman for over ten years, through my work with Queens of the Stone Age. When he asked me if I’d do a video for Mini Mansions, I was happy to do so. To me, this song really straddles being sort of 70’s and 80’s at the same time. I kept coming back to this BeeGee’s feeling but it was more like a realm in between. This got me thinking about the gateway door on the album cover and maybe that was a doorway to this in-between realm. So this video is a collage and mish-mash of elements but they sort of come together in their bar, disco, neon, and city lights to support the vibe.”

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Growing up in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Kamal Rasool, the founding member of acclaimed multi-continental-based psych rock act Flamingods has traveled widely to collect rate and unique instruments from Tanzania, the Amazon and elsewhere. When Rasool relocated to London to study music, he recruited a few friends from Bahrain and London to start a band, including the members of the band’s current lineup — Karthik Poduval, Sam Rowe and Charles Prest.  Interestingly, their first live show together was an attention-grabbing show at the 2010 ATP Festival, which quickly led to a national profile.

Building upon a growing profile, the members of Flamingods quickly released two EPs, 2010’s Sun and 2011’s Away. 2013’s full-length debut Sun was a reimagining of the material off the EP of the same name that featured “Quesso,” a collaboration with Ponytail‘s Dustin Wong on lead guitar. Around the time of the album’s release, the British government enacted new visa laws which forced Rasool to return to Bahrain after he finished school. Rasool then moved to Dubai, where he worked for an independent magazine and coffee shop. And although at that point, the members of the band were residing on different continents and unable to play together, they continued to work on new material that eventually wound up becoming their critically applauded Hyperborea, an album that established a globe-spanning take on psychedelia that the band has dubbed “Exotic Psychedelia.”

During the release of Hyperborea, Prest relocated to Dubai to work closely with Rasool. And shortly after that, the members of Flamingods began working on their third full-length album, 2016’s Majesty, an album that was largely inspired by the likes of Les Baxter, Tito Puente, Arthur Lyman and others. Although the album received mixed reviews, it was championed by BBC Radio 6‘s Gilles Peterson and Lauren Laverne, who both invited the band to record live sessions. With Rasool and Prest able to return to the UK, the band was finally able to extensively across the UK and the European Union to support the album, including sets at Green Man Festival, End of the Road Festival, and Fusion Festival.

In February 2017, the band signed with Moshi Moshi Records, who released that year’s Kewali EP and the band toured to support the album, including their SXSW debut. The band also released a remix album of Majesty that featured remixes of album material by Ibibio Sound Machine, Meridian Brothers and OasisAndy Bell. And the band released a Dan Carey-produced live version of “Hyperborea.

Flamingods’ fourth, full-length album Levitation is slated for a May 3, 2019 release through Moshi Moshi Records, and the album is largely inspired by the disco, funk and psychedelic sounds out of the Middle East and South Asia in the ’70s but while channeled through mysticism, positivity and sun-drenched imagery. But perhaps much more important, the Levitation recording sessions found the band living and working on the same continent for the first time in about four years — and as a result, the album’s material may arguably be the most unified effort they’ve written and released in years. Now, as yo may recall, the album’s first single “Marigold” was a trippy bit of psych rock centered around a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths delivered with a Brit Pop-like swagger. Interestingly, the album’s second single, album opening track “Paradise Drive” continues in a fairly similar vein as its predecessor, complete with a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths — but the song may arguably bear the most uncanny resemblance to Evil Heat-era Primal Scream; in fact, “Paradise Drive” reminds me quite a bit of one of my favorite Primal Scream songs, “Autobahn 66” but with a subtle disco element to it,  complete with cowbell.

 

New Audio: The Faint Returns with a Goth and Industrial-Inspired Banger

Late last year, I wrote about the Omaha, NE-based cyber-punk act The Faint. The act which is currently comprised of founding members Todd Fink (vocals) and Clark Baechle (drums), along with Graham Ulicny (keys) and Michael “Dapose” Dappen (bass) can trace their origins back to the mid 1990s when the band’s founding members Fink, Baechle and Joel Petersen bounded over their mutual love of skateboarding, which they did in their free time. When Fink developed knee problems, the band’s founding trio shifted their hobbies into music. 

The band initially formed under the name Norman Bailer and briefly included Conor Oberst, who left the band shortly after their formation. After changing their name, the trio of Fink, Baechle and Petersen signed to their longtime label home Saddle Creek Records. Interestingly, after releasing a handful of singles to very little commercial attention, the band added Matt Bowen, who was with the and for the writing and recording of their full-length debut Media. After the recording of Media, the Omaha-based cyber punk outfit went through a number of lineup changes.

In late 1998, Jacob Theile joined the band, Bowen left and was replaced with Ethan Jones. And with a lineup of Fink, Baechle, Theile and Jones, the band toured across the US, playing the material that would eventually comprised their acclaimed sophomore album Blank Wave Arcade, an album found the band moving towards an electronic dance music and techno influenced sound. Before recording the album, the band went through yet another lineup change with Jones leaving the band and being replaced by Joel Petersen, who played bass and guitar during the album’s recording sessions. 

During the recording sessions for Danse Macabre, the band added Dappen, who was best known for being a member of LEAD. The band’s fifth album, 2008’s Fascination was released through the band’s own label blank.wav.  2012 saw the release of the deluxe and remastered edition of Danse Macabre, which featured bonus and unreleased tracks, a DVD of archival footage, live projections from that album’s tour and live footage. 

In 2016, the band went through another lineup change as Reptar’s Graham Ulicny replaced Thiele. Now, as you may recall, the band’s long-awaited full-length effort Egowerk is slated for release later this week, and the album, which marks a return to their longtime label home, thematically explores the Internet (specifically social media) and its impact on modern society and the ego. “Child Asleep,” the album’s first single was a thumping and twitchy, industrial house-inspired, club banger centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, rapid fire beats and vocals fed through copious amounts of vocoder. And while the song manages to recall Tour de France-era Kraftwerk and Atari Teenage Riot, the song is centered around a simple yet profound message — that “if I were wise, I would see that I’m a child still asleep.” “Quench The Flame,” the album’s latest single continues in a fairly similar vein as its predecessor — thumping, industrial and goth-inspired electro pop, centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, arpeggiated synths, and rousingly anthemic hooks but sonically the track manages to bear a resemblance to early 80s Depeche Mode and New Order — all while remaining dance floor friendly. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Yumi Zouma Release John Hughes-like Visuals for Swooning “In Camera”

Over the years, I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally renowned synth pop act, Yumi Zouma, and as you may recall the band which is comprised of Christchurch, New Zealand-born Christie Simpson, Sam Perry, Charlie Ryder and Josh Burgess has been spread across New York, Paris and Christchurch in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake that devastated their hometown and the region at large. Primarily writing material by email, the band wasn’t initially meant to be a live act — and yet, they’ve received attention for crafting breezy yet bittersweet, 80s-inspired synth pop centered around Christie Simpson’s ethereal crooning. After  Turntable Kitchen released their cover of f Oasis’ 1995 full-length effort, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, the synth pop act busily wrote and recorded an EP trilogy — with the last edition of the trilogy been released last fall through their longtime label home Cascine Records.

Centered around reverb drenched arrangement that includes shimmering synths, angular guitar chords, a motorik-like groove, a soaring hook and Simpson’s ethereal vocals, the song sonically nods at A Flock of Seagulls‘ “I Ran (So Far Away).” And while accurately capturing the uncertainty, desperation and swooning urgency of new love, the song is underpinned by a deliberate attention to craft, with the members of the synth pop act revising and bouncing ideas off each other until it’s absolutely perfect.

Directed by Pavel Brenner and starring Charlie Patton, Shawn Denegre-Vaught, Emma Broz, Madisyn Maniff, Cinthia Bouhier, Joannie Ciociola, Alison Williams, Miriam Margolis, and Ainsleigh Douglas, the recently released video is a brilliantly spot-on take on John Hughes movies that’s centered around what seems to be an especially awkward first date that turns into a complex dance routine that includes synchronized swimmers, who miraculously appear out of nowhere. 

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brampton, ON-born, Toronto, ON-based DJ, violinist, singer/songwriter, sync pop artist and JOVM mainstay Maya Killtron. Now, as you may recall, Killtron received national and international attention with the release of her debut EP, 2012’s Hipster/Gangstaand as a result of the surrounding buzz around the EP, Killtron made appearances across the North American festival circuit, including appearances at Miami’s Winter Music ConferencePride TorontoThe Halifax Jazz Festival and CMJ. Adding to a growing profile,  “Back For More,” her collaboration with New York-based production duo Love Taps received praise from Stereogum and Huffington Post for a sound that possessed elements of moomba and R&B. The equally attention-grabbing video showcased a sadly bygone New York. “Back For More” also received the remix treatment from  Smalltown DJs, The Slow WavesEyes Everywhere, Brothers In Arms and City Kid Soul — with the City Kid Soul remix being named in the Top 5 at Toronto’s Bestival.

Killtron’s latest full-length effort, Never Dance Alone is slated for a March 22, 2019 release, and the album reportedly was made specifically for dancing through your problems. The album’s latest single “Red Dress” continues a strong run of 80s synth funk/80s R&B-inspired club bangers as it’s centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, an anthemic hook and Killtron’s sultry pop belter vocals  — and while much like its predecessors, the track will bring I Feel for You-era Chaka Khan to mind, the track features a disco-inspired string arrangement that hints at JOVM mainstays Escort. Interestingly, the song is an uplifting, feminist anthem, complete with a much-needed “go out and get it, girl,” vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of duo Mickey and Jesse Pangburn, the Phoenix-based indie electro pop duo MRCH can trace their origins to when the duo met while studying in Prescott, AZ — and as the story, the duo approached a sparsely populated jazz focus from radically different tracks: Jesse came from a technical background and was a fan of the the dense sonic textures of prog rock and metal while Mickey married complex jazz theory with a deep knowledge of 80s TV and pop culture. Initially, the duo, who spent years in the Phoenix rock scene, built up a strong local profile and over he course of a few years, started to receive national attention with praise from major media outlets including CMJThe Guardian and Consequence of Sound, as well as placements on TV series like ShamelessVampire Diaries and Search Party among others.

2017’s full-length effort Reactions touched upon themes of life changes, love and the loss of innocence and found the duo pushing their sound towards much more brooding territory with lead single “My Mistake” being featured on 13 Reasons Why. As Mickey Pangburn explains in press notes, “Last year and 2017 were so hard, personally. Family health issues and things that I thought I would be older for when they happened . . . All of this amidst the political climate we are in. Circumstances haven’t changed, but our outlook has. I feel more optimistic than I have in a long time. These songs are coming from a fun lace — not in a poppy, light way, but in a brighter view of the light guiding our writing processes.”

Centered by shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, ethereal vocals, thumping polyrhythm and a soaring hook, the Phoenix duo’s latest single “Some Days” is a hopeful song; the sort of song that reflects narrators, who finally see a sunny day after some painful and dark days — and are actively trying to look forward towards the future. As Mickey Pangburn explains the song “is [a] step into the light. A reigning of some sense of anticipation.  A warm look back on where all our dreams came from and an honest, hopeful look forward. It could be interpreted as an airy love song . . . but it’s really about any deep love we have (be it [a] person, or as in our case — an idea).”

 

 

 

Started in 2014 and comprised of San Francisco-born and-based married duo Andrew Gomez and Bevin Fernandez, the darkwave duo NVRS LVRS (pronounced Nervous Lovers) received attention locally with the release of their critically applauded full-length debut The Golden West, which was praised by SF Weekly as “crepuscular and opaque, with a grimy layer to it that thinly disguises the vein of pop running through the song[s].” Building upon a growing profile, the duo has since opened for the likes of Jagwar Ma and Telekinesis as well as receiving praise from PopMatters and Noisey. 

The duo’s latest single “whatever & ever” is the first bit of new material since the release of their critically applauded full length effort Electric Dread and while the single finds the band continuing to draw influence from the likes of Massive Attack, Kate Bush and others, the single also nods at classic New Order and industrial electronica thanks in part to a production featuring thumping beats, metallic clang and clatter, a rousingly anthemic hook, glitchy arpeggiated synths, and a motorik groove paired with the duo’s easy-going yet self-assured harmonizing. Thematically, the Eric Palmquist-produced club banger offers incisive criticism of our current moment — a perpetual stream of outrage and apocalyptic news, unsolicited opinions and curated brands with the song’s narrator asking if the empty and unfulfilling dopamine hit from each new notification is leading to our increasing stupidity and distraction.

The duo is embarking on a series of tour dates throughout March. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates
03.08 – Reno, NV @ The Loving Cup
03.09 – Redding, CA @ The Dip

03.10 – Arcata, CA @ B.A.D. Collective Presents Outer Space

03.13 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey

03.14 – Bellingham, WA @ The Firefly Lounge w/ Lié, Glitchlette, Scum Eating

03.15 – Portland, OR @ Dan Cable Presents The Library at Growley’s Taproom

03.16 – Victoria, BC, Canada @ House Show

03.17 – Victoria, BC, Canada @ Venue TBA

03.22 – San Fransisco, CA @ Everything Elastic Presents Amnesia 

New Video: Sarah P. Returns with a Surreal and Symbolic Video for Disco-Influenced “Maenads”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Athens, Greece-based artist and activist Sarah P. and as you may recall, although she’s perhaps best known as a former member of international acclaimed electronic music production and electronic music duo Keep Shelly in Athens, Sarah P has developed a reputation as a solo artist and collaborator who released her critically applauded full-length debut Who Am I back in 2017 — and she has worked with the likes of Sasha, Mmoths, The New Division, Plastic Flowers, Holly, Hiras, The Bilinda Butchers and a lengthy list of others. 

Sarah’s P’s much-anticipated follow-up to Who Am I, the Maenads EP is a collection of songs celebrating both feminine power (particularly its magic, strength and imperfect perfection) and the artist’s Greek heritage. “Lotus Eaters,” a moody and atmospheric track with four-on-the-floor drumming, shimmering synths, a propulsive and sinuous bass line and Sarah P’s ethereal crooning — and sonically speaking, the track immediately brought to mind Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Kate Bush and the early 80s 4AD Records roster while arguably being the most sensual song I’ve come across within the early part of this year.

Maenads’ latest single, title track “Maenads” is a propulsive, disco-influenced track built around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a funky bass line and thumping beats — and unlike its predecessor, the song manages to remind me a bit of Niki & the Dove and several others. Interestingly, the song as Sarah P explains in press note is about nights that are empty of feelings. 

Shot in Berlin, the video is a surreal fever dream that stars Sarah P. and Sabina Smith-Moreland as a bird that meat to symbolize mental illness. The video shows the importance of coming to terms with own struggles while not letting them overtake one’s life. “I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety for a long time, but I’m convinced that it’s possible to control one’s mental health, rather than living a life controlled by mental illness,” Sarah shares.

“Mental illness never truly goes away, but learning more about it can help understand what’s going on inside your body and mind and therefore, control it better.

“For the last part of the Maenads trilogy, I decided to film in Berlin – where it all started for me. This video is perhaps my least “ethereal” work-to-date – with “ethereal” being a word that’s often used to describe my work. Berlin isn’t ethereal – it’s boxy and well structured in its chaos. Berlin’s light is very different compared to the light in Athens; in Berlin, the light is moody and arrogant – especially during the winter, where it makes rare appearances. Maenads was filmed at Theaterhaus Berlin – a space that felt homely and brought me closer to my drama school years. I had the pleasure to work with photographer and visual artist Colette Pomerleau and dancer Sabina Smith-Moreland. For the coloring of the video, I worked once again with David Hofmann who previously colored the other two parts of the Maenadstrilogy. Although the concept and set are meant to symbolize my life in Berlin, my “Greek Maenads” (Clio “Lil Cli” Arvaniti, Dora Pantazopoulou, Rania Ainiti, Marianna Pagrakioti) make a special appearance on Maenads TV. The additional visuals were filmed & edited by George Geranios, on a rooftop in Athens – the concrete jungle. Lastly, Apostolia Gogara is responsible for the fantastic hair and makeup of the additional visuals.”

Born in Nashville, the acclaimed, Los Angeles-based indie pop artist Meg Myers spent her formative years in a devoted Jehovah’s Witness household, in which a young Myers dealt with strict restrictions on what she was allowed to listen to. After her parents divorced, her mother married a comic book artist, who moved the family to Ohio, where her mother and stepfather ran a cleaning business. When she was 12, her family moved to Florida, where she spent the bulk of her teen years — and during that period, Myers began singing and writing songs on keyboard, eventually teaching herself guitar. She also played bass in a band that she started with her brother, Feeling Numb.

A few days shy of her 20th birthday, Myers moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music. Living in a studio apartment with her then-boyfriend, the Nashville-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist worked as a waitress at a Hollywood coffee shop and played show whenever she could land them. Although her romantic relationship ended, Myers met Doctor Rosen Rosen, who signed her to his production company. Rosen and Myers began writing songs together, including the material that comprised her first two EPs Daughter in the Choir and Make a Shadow and her 2015 full-length debut Sorry, which featured a number of Top 15 and Top 20 alternative radio hits.

Building up on a rapidly growing profile, Myers’ sophomore album, last year’s Take Me To The Disco debuted at #5 on the Current Alternative Charts and received praise from a number of media outlets including The New York Times, the Associated Press, NPR Music, StereogumBillboard and a lengthy list of others.  The acclaimed Nashville-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter recently played an NPR Tiny Desk session that included a fairly straightforward yet intense cover of Kate Bush‘s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” that brings the song to 21st Century listeners, who may have been previously unfamiliar with one of the great, dramatic pop songs of the 80s.

“Growing up, I was never really interested in covering other artist’s music.” Meg explains, “I always wanted to write my own songs because I knew I could only sing music and lyrics that were truly authentic, from my heart (and also would have to make sense with my deep voice). Well, then I discovered Kate Bush’s ‘Running up that Hill,’ which for years has resonated with my soul like nothing ever before. What if we could experience role reversal? What would it be like living in each other’s shoes? I think we would find a lot more compassion for one another and a passion for kindness and truth. This song to me, represents an opening of our hearts and a possibility of acceptance for all. And to me, this is an important message for the world we are living in right now.​​​​​​​”