Category: Synth Pop

New Audio: DeLaurentis Returns with a Cinematic and Expansive Single

hing her father play music. As a young girl, she understood that music notes would spring up and fly away from her arms, hands and fingers — that music was essentially a part of her. 

where she began working on material with keyboards, sequencers, computers and other electronics. Inspired by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Max Richter, Brian Eno, Oneothrix Point Never, and Laurie Anderson, DeLaurentis developed and honed a lush and cinematic sound featuring modern and vintage analog synthesizers, piano, loop machines and arpeggiators paired with her ethereal vocals. 

After developing her sound, she relocated to Paris, where she released her first two EPs, which featured some attention grabbing videos. Several tracks off those early releases wound up being placed on commercials and American TV shows. Building upon a growing profile, DeLaurentis began working on the material that would become her full-length debut Unica in a spacious and luminous Paris studio, where over the next two years, she intensified her relationship between her instruments and modern technology. As for the album, Unica is a concept album that tells the tale of the fusion between woman and machine. While Unica finds DeLaurentis collaborating with Dan Black, Yaron Herman, Daymark and Fabien Waltmann, the album prominently features a track recorded with artificial intelligence, supervised by Benoit Carré, a pioneer in A.I.

Late last year, I wrote about the album’s incredibly cinematic first single “Life,” which featured shimmering, Giorgio Moroder-like synth arpeggios, soaring strings, skittering, tweeter and woofer rocking trap beats and DeLaurentis’ ethereal and plaintive vocals singing lyrics that draws from one of the more famous lines in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “It is a tale/Told but an idiot, full of sound and fury,/Signifying nothing.” Seemingly inspired by Thematically seeming as though it were influenced by Spike Jonze’s Her or Steven Spielberg’s AI, “Life” tells the tale of Unica coming alive and bursting out from the screen that contained her. The song goes on to have the fictional DeLaurentis and Unica meeting each other and observing each other with curiosity — and a bit of fear of what may be next for both. 

Unica’s latest single “Be A Woman” continues a run of densely layered and incredibly cinematic material. Centered around looped classical-like piano arpeggios by Yaron Herman paired with arpeggiated synths, soaring strings, handclaps, soaring vocal harmonies the arrangement serves as a sumptuous and satiny bed for the French artist’s plaintive vocals, which manage to express awe, confusion and fear — within a turn of a phrase.

“I got the idea for this song after a hypnosis session, where I relived the same scene 3 times. First in a subjective way, then in a meta position (by being outside the scene, in observation) then a third time by imagining a double, a new version of myself that would take me by the hand, getting me out of this situation and took me to Sunset Boulevard where we would rollerblade towards the beach and the sunset!” DeLaurentis says of the inspiration behind the song — and the album. “This double is UNICA, the one I call my digital sister. It was in this state of hypnosis that I first met her. In this initiatory journey, she guided me and whispered to me these words “You’ll be more than kings, more than gods… you’ll be a woman” in reference to the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling “you’ ll be a Man, my son!” but in a feminine version. I had the chance to collaborate on this song with the talented jazz pianist Yaron Herman where during an improvisation session he had the idea of ​​this piano arpeggio. This sequence of chords evoking momentum, awakening was the ideal ground to illustrate our rollerblading descent with Unica on Sunset Boulevard. And also with the English producer Dan Black with whom we explored all the roughness and sounds hidden behind this arpeggio. Using multiple effects pedals, we re-recorded analog synths (oberheim / prophet) in arpeggiator form by playing them back in amps, with old RE20 type mics. The goal was to bring as much life as possible to the digital parts by integrating randomness into them and giving rise to what are called ‘happy accidents.’ These so-called ‘human’ errors. This piece is therefore the result of a long musical and philosophical reflection and of beautiful human and artistic encounters.”

INNR CIRCLE is a rising Toronto-based Panamanian-Canadian R&B artist, who has developed and honed a sound that features — and often meshes — elements of New Wave, dream pop and R&B paired with earnest, lived-in songwriting, and the artist’s striking and dynamic vocal register. Over the past year, his material, including “Take” have amassed over 1.6 million streams and have been featured on 70 official DSP playlists.

Earlier this year, the Canadian R&B artist released his debut EP, the six-song BEMUSED + CONFUSED EP. The EP received a feature on Lyrical Lemonade. Building upon a growing profile, the rising Toronto-based artist has remained busy: his latest effort, the standalone single “something called love.” Centered around a shimmering and dance floor friendly, 80s synth pop-inspired production from collaborators TJ Routon and Def Starz paired with INNR CIRCLE’s plaintive and sultry vocals, “something called love” pulsates with a desperate and aching need to be loved — but by that one particular person you want the most.

New Audio: Rising British Artist Pollena Releases an Uplifting and Euphoric Banger

Sarah Brown is a rising London-based singer/songwriter and the creative mastermind behind the rising indie electro pop project Pollena. Professionally, Brown cut first cut her teeth touring across Europe with neo-soul outfit Girlhood. Much like countless artists during pandemic-related lockdowns, Brown has been busy writing and recording material with a varied collection of rising producers.

he Pool.” which garnered support from BBC’s Phil Taggert and Lauren Laverne. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Brown’s sophomore single “Glitter” was released to praise from the press, while receiving radio airplay and placement on several Spotify and Apple Music playlists.

Lyric Video: Nation of Language Returns with A Motorik Groove Driven Bop

Rising Brooklyn-based synth pop trio Nation of Language — — Ian Richard Devaney (vocals, guitars, percussion), Aidan Noell (synth, vocals) and Michael Sue-Poi (bass) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Devaney and Sue-Poi were members off The Static Joys, a band that became largely inactive after the release of that band’s sophomore album. And as the story goes, Devaney was inspired to start a new project after hearing OMD‘s “Electricity,” a song he had listened to quite a bit while in his father’s car.

erestingly, what initially started out as Devaney fooling around on a keyboard eventually evolved to Nation of Language with the addition of Noell and Sue-Poi. Between 2016-2019, the Brooklyn-based synth pop trio released a handful of singles that helped to build up a fanbase locally and the outside world.

ast year’s full-length debut, Introduction, Presence was released to critical praise, landing on the Best Albums of 2020 lists for Rough Trade, KEXP, Paste, Stereogum, Under The Radar and PopMatters. They capped off a massive 2020 with the A Different Kind of Light”/”Deliver Me From Wondering Why” 7 inch, which featured the A Flock of Seagulls and Simple Minds-like “Deliver Me From Wondering Why.”  The act’s latest single “Across That Fine Line” is the first official single off their highly-anticipated sophomore album A Way Forward slated for a November 5, 2021 release.

Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a relentless motorik groove, a rousingly anthemic yet dance floor friendly hook and Devaney’s plaintive vocals, “Across That Fine Line” continues a run of crowd pleasing and decidedly 80s inspired material; if you’re a child of the 80s A Flock of Seagulls and few others come to mind.

‘Across That Fine Line’ is a reflection on that moment when a non-romantic relationship flips into something different,” Nation of Language’s Devaney explains in press notes. “When the air in the room suddenly feels like it changes in an undefinable way. It’s a kind of celebration of that certain joyous panic, and the uncertainty that surfaces right after it.  

“Sonically, it’s meant to feel like running down a hill, just out of control. I had been listening to a lot of Thee Oh Sees at the time of writing it and admiring the way they supercharge krautrock rhythms and imbue them with a kind of mania, which felt like an appropriate vibe to work with and make our own.”
 

New Video: Join Holy Ghost!’s Alex Frankel on a Euphoric Dance Party

New York-based duo Holy Ghost! — Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser — developed a sound that meshes synth pop, disco and a range of electronic music genres and sub-genres that made them an international dance floor and festival staple. Along with their own original material, which they released through DFA and West End, the duo have been in-demand remixers, remixing the work of acts like LCD Soundsystem, Phoenix and Cut Copy. Interestingly, Holy Ghost!’s Frankel has also done remixes for the likes of U.S. Girls, Naeem, Neon Indian and Moby.

Frankel steps out into the limelight as a solo artist again with his latest single “Still Got It” which was released through CASUAL, a new label founded by Jen Pearce, CEO of music licensing and consulting company Low Profile and Justin Spindler, CEO of Out of Office Management. (Ed Banger also is distributing the track.)As for the single, “Still Got It” is a euphoric, 80s-inspired banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, handclaps, soulful backing vocals from the New York-based gospel group East Coast Inspirational Singers paired with Frankel’s plaintive vocals. Interestingly, the song finds Frankel and company finding joy in resilience, celebrating that personal spark each of us has that fortifies a sense of optimism even in hardship — all while suggesting that the listener should enjoy this moment because nothing else is guaranteed. And soon we’ll be able to dance to this banger — in a club with other adults.

“I played the demo for Thibaut( Breakbot) one night at Bernie’s Restaurant while we were outside on a smoke break  (back when, you know… people still ate dinner out) and on the spot he demanded we go try it on the audience at his gig that night,” Frankel says of the song’s origins. “The response was great and after that, I knew I had to finish it. I called the East Coast Inspirational Singers, my favorite gospel group in NYC and they came by to help me get it there.”

Directed by Pierre Dixsaut and François Prost, the recently released visual for “Still Got It” is centered around stop motion animation of Frankel dancing in front of photos of French club exteriors from Prost’s book After Party, making the video a virtual dance party on the streets.

Lyric Video: Melrøse Releases a Sultry and Feverish Single

Melrøse is an French electro pop duo — Anne-Camille and Anthony — that can trace its origins back to last June, when the romantic couple and musical collaborators decided to immortalize their relationship in a song, written while in a Los Angeles hotel room. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about the French duo’s debut single “Poolside.” One of the first songs the duo wrote that June night, the single was centered around skittering beats, twinkling keys, swirling electronics and Annie Camille’s achingly delicate and ethereal vocals singing lyrics in French and English. “Poolside” — for me, at least — evoked a mix of Dummy-era Portishead and sultry nights in bed with a lover.

The French duo’s debut EP is slated for a September 21, 2021 release, and the EP’s first official single “Insomnie” is a sensual song centered around twinkling synth arpeggios, a motorik-like groove and Annie-Camille’s coquettish vocals. And while sonically reminding me a bit of Soft Metals’ 2013 effort Lenses, the track evokes a sultry summer night, tossing and turning in your bed — and it being too hot to sleep comfortably.

The recently released video employs a rather simple concept: Melrøse’s Anne-Camille in a dark room, lit with one light bulb, singing the song and swaying to the song’s music. The song’s French lyrics appear below her.

New Video: The Quilter Releases a Playful Visual for “The Long Weekend”

Stuart Dougan is a Glasgow-born and-based singer/songwriter, who is best known in his native Scotland for fronting French Wives and Smash Williams. Dougan steps out into the limelight as a solo artist, writing and recording every single part of music on his own terms with his latest project The Quilter. 

Dougan’s The Quilter debut, Bolt The Door EP is a collection of bold, alt pop songs, som eo which were written and recorded before the pandemic with others written during the initial lockdown. Interestingly, the EP follows upon last year’s immersive and cinematic visual record Dark Cloud/Grey Area, which was equal parts documentary film, live concert and album.

Bolt The Door’s latest single “The Long Weekend,” is an anthemic bit of synth pop featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, a driving groove and a euphoria-inducing hooks and fueled by nostalgia for hook-driven New Order-like dance anthems and for the things we here in the States are slowly getting back — in particular, being in the company of other sweaty and joyful humans at a summer festival and for other mundane things we’ve been deprived of for the past 15 months or so. 

“This song was in part inspired by a viral clip I saw from the set of Uncut Gems where the crew had finished filming and were all dancing to ‘I Feel It Coming’ by The Weeknd.  It was just a short clip but I wanted to try and capture the palpable sense of joy that was clearly being felt at the time.  It was written during lockdown and is basically a love letter to my friends and daydreaming about getting to hang out and have fun in a post pandemic world.  I’m very aware that it’s bombastic and over the top in places but I wanted to purposely try and capture a sense of hopeful euphoria that one day, not too far from here, you’ll get to hug all your friends again.”

The main star of the recently released video for “The Long Weekend” is a park bench on a beautiful Spring afternoon — but this park bench happens to be the spot: starting with The Quilter’s Dougan, a series of locals including kids, couples and people just walking their dogs sit on the bench and listen to music. In some way, it’s all a bit of a welcomed escape from their days. Adding to the playfulness of the video, Dougan eventually joins these people for a few minutes. While centered around a rather simple concept, the video reminds all of us is that music — and our love of it — are the way that we can connect with others, and that it inspires us to be around others.

“The whole concept of the video was, by design, supposed to be very simple so that it would be logistically easy to shoot and edit,” Stuart Dougan explains. “That may not be exciting to hear, but sometimes that’s how the sausage is made (quickly).  Disaster struck however when the footage from the shoot got corrupted due to (redacted, unimportant technical issue).  Long story short, the only way to salvage the footage was to pivot to a stop motion animation concept that resulted in over 8,500ish screenshots being taken to make it work.  It was traumatic and outrageously laborious so whilst I may struggle to ever watch it again, I hope that folk enjoy it!’

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays New Bleach Team up with Ariane Roy on an Atmospheric and Brooding New Single

Quebec City-based indie pop act and JOVM mainstays New Bleach features a duo known throughout Quebec for their work in acclaimed Francophone indie rock act Caravane — — Dominic Pelletier and Raphaël Potvin. And with the release of New Bleach’s first four singles, Pelletier and Potvin’s newest project proved to be a marked sonic departure from their work in Caravane: 

“Awake,” the duo’s debut as New Bleach was an Oracular Spectacular-era MGMT-like single centered around a profound philosophical question: “What if death was just a dream?”
“Silver Lining,” a Quiet Storm R&B meets Beacon-like track that’s one part old-school love song and one part plea for hope in a seemingly hopeless and bleak world. 
“High.” Kraftwerk meets 80s New Wave-like track centered around the age-old desire to get into the car for a road trip — and maybe pull over to do some hallucinogens and daydream. 
“You,” a slow-burning and atmospheric track full of the aching longing and regret of one’s lingering ghosts that featured Ghostly Kisses‘ Margaux Sauvé. 

The JOVM mainstays started 2021 with a gorgeously cinematic live session filmed in the Le Massif de Charlevoix, Quebec. Filmed in a mountainous forest cleaning, just off the coast of the St. Lawrence River, with a morning fog gently lifting, the sessions take place over the course of a day and night with the duo performing behind a futuristic lighting rig. The session features three singles I’ve written about previously — “Awake,” Silver Lining,” and “High.” The setting is breathtakingly gorgeous — in a way that only could be Quebec. 

Building upon a growing profile, the Quebec City-based duo’s debut EP Impressions was released last Friday through Coyote Records. And just before the EP’s release, the Quebec City JOVM mainstays released “Stranger,” a breezy and vaporous synth pop number centered around delicate and shimmering synth arpeggios, ethereal vocals, skittering polyrhythm and a sinuous bass line that sonically brought 80s synth soul and pop like Billy Ocean to mind. But at its core, the song asked thematically big, existential questions — namely, if true happiness is actually possible.

Interestingly, the EP’s latest single is the slow-burning and atmospheric “Night.” Centered around an achingly tender vocal melody and boy-girl harmonizing between New Bleach’s Dominic Pelletier and Ariane Roy, twinkling synths, a propulsive bass line, the song evokes brooding, late night/early morning solitude while slowly unfolding into a rousingly anthemic coda. Written in a single night of solitude, the song invites the listener to meditate on the simple things that keep life worth living — and keep us alive.

New Video: Berlin’s IRYS Releases a Slickly Produced Bop

IRYS is an emerging, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and producer, who specializes in what she describes as dark electro pop with a note of retro and synth wave. She released her first single earlier this and currently has plans to release one single a month throughout the rest of the year.

The Berlin-based artist’s latest single, “River” features IRYS’ sultry vocals over a slick production centered around shimming synth arpeggios, skittering tweeter and woofer rocking beats and a propulsive bass line to create a mid-tempo track that sounds — to my ears, at least — indebted to Version 2.0-era Garbage while it describes a dysfunctional relationship that just holds her back in every possible way.

The recently released video by VI Productions is a slick visual split between footage in a strobe lit club, people diving into water, people walking on the beach and the rising German artist singing the song in front of tinsel and other decorations.

New Audio: Edmonton’s The Civil Union Releases a Swooning and Infectious New Single

The Civil Union — singer/songwriter Andrew Pahl and visual artist Naomi Pahl — are an Edmonton-based husband and wife electro pop act that can trace its origins to when the duo met while in college: The duo wound up in the same songwriting course, where they both lamented the state of contemporary pop music. And much like any other creative meet cute, they exchanged their favorite indie/alt-pop playlists with each other and their phone numbers. Within a few weeks of their first meeting, Andrew and Naomi started writing songs together. About a year late, they got married and then over the next few years, they have four children together.

To support himself and his growing family, Andrew Pahl took up two full-time jobs as a social worker while managing to write and record several albums. He would play shows whenever possible while Naomi sold her art at local markets. The Pahls continued doing this until Naomi was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Endometriosis. Naomi Pahl was on medically mandated bed rest while waiting 18 months for restorative surgery. For Naomi, who was typically very energetic, life was on pause — and she was going stir crazy.

Knowing she needed an accessible creative outlet, Andrew started texting Naomi melodies and asking her if she could think of lyrics. This led to over 24 songs together, with the duo realizing that they had material that could be proud of and should be recorded. At that moment, The Civil Union was officially born.

After saving money to buy a laptop and sound gear, as well as to rent drums and other equipment, the Pahls spent weeks recording what was supposed to be their full-length debut, but someone broke into their house and stole the laptop with their music files. Refusing defeat, the Edmonton-based husband and wife duo bought a new laptop and spent the next 18 months writing and recording an even more expansive album, while preparing to play live shows once Naomi recovered from her surgery.

Naomi has recovered from surgery and the Pahls finished their debut album. And much like countless acts across the world, just as they were lining up shows, the COVID-19 pandemic put their plans on hold. Unsurprisingly, their debut album which features pounding drums, reverb drenched synths and lush boy-girl harmonizing speaks to our present moment: written through adversity and pain, the album is fueled by the fact that if you’re with your loved ones, you can probably get through anything together.

The Pahl’s latest single “Dominoes” is an upbeat and breezy pop confection, centered around arpeggiated synths reminiscent of Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” propulsive drumming, lush harmonies and melodies and a rousingly anthemic hook that’s perfect to shout along with your friends; but underneath all of that, the song evokes the swooning and contented sigh of profound, soul-affirming love. “It talks about the feeling of creating a different existence, with the person you love,” the Pahls say in press notes.