Category: Synth Pop

 

Earlier this month, I wrote about Liam Brown, an up-and-coming Liverpool, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and electro pop artist, best known as Pizzagirl, and with the release of his debut EP An Extended Play earlier this year, Brown was championed by the likes of Huw StephensAnnie Mac and Lauren Laverne, and received praise from DIYHighsnobietyWonderlandThe Line of Best Fit and others for an 80s synth pop inspired sound. And adding to a growing profile, Brown opened for acclaimed British act Her’s during their most recent UK tour.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding him, Brown’s sophomore Pizzagirl effort season 2 is slated for a November release, and as you may recall EP single “highschool” was an achingly wistful and pensive synth pop track centered around arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and a sinuous hook that immediately brought Washed OutSt. Lucia and classic 80s synth pop to mind. “gymnasium,” season 2‘s latest single continues on a similar vein — swooningly heartfelt and oversized teenaged sentiment paired with a breezy yet decidedly DIY production featuring twinkling keys, thumping beats, Brown’s plaintive vocals, a Tears for Fears-like bridge and incredibly infectious hooks. Just as important, Brown manages to accurately capture and evoke what it feels like to be a high schooler and desperately in love.

 

 

Advertisements

New Video: Introducing the Slickly Produced and Mediative R&B of Honors

Honors is an up-and-coming Canadian indie R&B act that quickly emerged into the international scene with the release of their #1 Global Viral Spotify chart hit “Over” — although their success wasn’t an overnight one. The members of the up-and-coming act met over a decade ago and have worked in a number of different projects before forming Honors. Their latest single “Feel Better” will further cement their reputation for slickly produced and atmospheric material that effortlessly bridges trap, contemporary electro pop and contemporary R&B as the song features achingly tender vocals, thumping beats and a sinuous hook.

Interestingly, while seeming bleak sonically, the song is unabashedly positive, with its narrator actively seeking light in extremely dark times, suggesting that there’s frequently some sort of struggle before achieving any sort of success; in fact, the song may be among the most personal they’ve ever released, as its inspired by the bandmembers own personal struggles, while trying to make it as artists.  In another way, it’s also a reminder that the journey is as important as the destination; that without understanding the journey, the destination doesn’t make much sense. 

Directed by Nikola Crnobrnja, the recently released meditative video for “Feel Better,” features the members of the Canadian act driving around without much of a destination. As the members of the band explain in press notes. “We didn’t want to make traditional, or narrative based videos on our new project ‘Feel Better,’ so instead we wanted to imagine a visual counterpoint to the emotion and feeling of the song. Driving is transportative literally, but also metaphorically. It is very introspective. For us ‘Feel Better’ is an autobiographical song about making peace with the journey, while continuing to move forward in the direction of your dreams.”

New Video: Introducing the Soaring and Earnest Synth Pop of Norway’s Chain Wallet

With the release of their self-titled debut, the Bergen, Norway-based dream pop act Chain Wallet, featuring core members Stian Iversen, Christian Line and Frode Boris, quickly received attention both nationally elsewhere for material that was infectious yet hazy and melancholic synth-based pop. Written in and by inspired by the trio’s hometown, their full-length debut is centered around a narrative structure in which a deeply conflicted protagonist is followed throughout — while thematically, the album focused on unresolved ambition and the desperate attempt to let go of the past. 

The trio’s highly-anticipated sophomore album No Ritual which is slated for a February 15, 2019 release through Jansen Records found the members of the up-and-coming Norwegian dream pop act retreating to a small cabin on a remote beach in southwestern Norway. And while walking the beaches and hanging out among surfers, the members of the band were inspired by the surroundings — and interestingly enough, the album continues to follow the protagonist of their self-titled debut but thematically speaking, the album finds him in a state of spiritual limbo, desperately reaching out and trying to establish new symbolic meanings.  Interestingly, the album’s first single “Ride” is a gorgeous and cinematic bit of synth pop featuring an arrangement of shimmering synths, equally shimmering guitar lines, a motorik groove and a soaring hook that to my ears reminds me a little bit of John Parr’s “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” and contemporaries like Moaning and others; but with an earnest yet effortless slickness. As the members of the band explains in press notes, “Ride” was the first song they wrote for their sophomore album, and “thematically, the song evokes elements of ‘the drifter on a cook bike’ trope. It’s about riding away from something, not realizing that you can’t outride your own demons.” 
Directed by the members of the band, the recently released video finds the members of the band literally riding different modes of transportation but juxtaposed with shots in static environments. The video is decidedly DIY in nature, but as the members of the band explain, “To be honest, the idea for this video would be too complex to capture with the technology we had at hand (a VHS camera and iMovie),” the band continues. “We adjusted the artistic vision, and went for a literal interpretation of the title. This is why the video ended up being a neat collection of shots of the band riding different means of transportation, juxtaposed with shots in static environments.” 

New Video: Acclaimed German Electro Pop Artist Roosevelt Releases Summery 80s-Inspired Visuals for Buoyant Single “Shadows”

Marius Lauber is a Viersen, Germany-born, Cologne, Germany-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, who writes records and performs with his solo recording project Roosevelt. Now as you may recall, with the […]

Throughout this site’s 8 year history, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for his solo electro pop/dream pop recording project Summer Heart. Now, as you may recall Alexander has received attention for being among the first wave of Sweden’s contemporary electro pop and dream pop movement with the likes of MoonbabiesThe Land BelowHey ElbowBlind Lake and Emerald Park,as well as for a sound that has been compared to CaribouWashed OutIn Ghost Colours-era Cut CopyPainted Palms and others.
Over the past year, I’ve written about a handful of singles from Alexander’s 12 Songs of Summer, a single of the month series that according to the Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer allows him to “show people what I am currently working on instead do what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case if you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!” Interestingly, 12 Songs of Summer‘s latest single “Ace of Pentacles” finds Alexander collaborating with Chicago-based electronic music artist and producer Elias Abid on a slow-burning and percussive production centered around ethereal vocals (which are chopped up at points), shimmering synths and a sinuous yet radio friendly hook — and while recalling Washed Out, the song manages to feel like the bitter come down of a love affair gone horribly wrong. While further cementing Alexander’s long-held reputation for crafting breezy synth pop, the song possesses an uncanny sober quality.
As the story goes, Abid and Alexander caught up in Abid’s new home of Chicago, the duo bonded over a mutual appreciation and admiration of each other’s work — and unsurprisingly, the duo quickly took the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other.  Speaking about their collaboration in press notes, Alexander said, “Both hanging out and working with Elias Abid was extremely inspiring. We shared the same work ethics and had similar ideas both when it came our craft but also in general. In a creative situation it’s worth a lot when you can comfortably put everything aside and focus on what’s important; the music. To me ‘Ace Of Pentacles’ ended up being about being open-minded and confident in yourself. About daring taking opportunities that are right in front of you.”
Abid adds “Besides creating some amazing ideas, what I appreciated the most out of hosting Summer Heart for his week in Chicago were the conversations we had between sessions. There was something that felt really familiar about the way he looked at life, relationships, music, art, etc.. His energy and approach as a creative person was inspiring and instilled a lot of confidence in my own process as a new artist. Not only did we create something we’re both proud of, we started a new friendship that I’m very grateful for!”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Sextile Release an Industrial New Wave-Inspired Banger

Last year, I wrote quite a bit about the  Los Angeles, CA-based post-punk act Sextile, and as you may recall since the act’s inception in 2015, they’ve earned a devout following, as a result of an explosive live show and non-stop touring as both as an opener and as a headliner with the likes of A Place to Bury Strangers, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, The Soft Moon, Ought, ADULT., The Chameleons, Modern English and others. Adding to a growing profile, they’ve also played sets at Bersekertown, Cloak & Dagger and Levitation Festivals.

Interestingly, over that same year period, the act has gone through a massive lineup change that finds the act writing, recording and performing as a duo featuring Brady Keehn and Melissa Scaduto. Naturally, as a result of the lineup changes, Kehn and Scaduto have radically reinvented their sound with a move towards synths with minimal use of guitar; in fact, on their recently released EP, EP3, the duo use a KORG MS-10 sequencer, a Fender Stratocaster, a LinnDrum and various other percussion-based instruments to craft a decidedly industrial synth-based sound. Additionally, the duo cite futurist Luigi Russolo’s The Art of Noises as an influence on their approach, as their sound and songwriting is meant to evoke and mirror the chaos and brutality of the industrial era. EP single “Spun” was centered around explosive squealing bursts of guitar, scorching synths, thumping beats, industrial clang and clatter and a motorik-ike groove, and it some way the song found the band meshing  the aesthetics of Gang of Four and classic DFA Records (i.e., early LCD Soundsystem and Echoes-era The Rapture) while hinting a bit at Bay City Rollers‘ “Saturday Night,” thanks to its punchily delivered vocals.  “Disco,” EP 3’s latest single may argaubly be the most dance floor friendly song they’ve ever released as it sonically brings Yaz’s “Situation,” New Order’s “Blue Monday” and Ministry to mind, as it’s centered around a production of layers arpeggiated synths, industrial clang and clatter and a motorik groove — but lyrically, as the duo note,t he song’s lyrics focus on the lack of time to do anything productive or constructive, DIY spaces being shut down, gun control and constant media propaganda in a way that evokes our increasingly cynical, paranoid and uncertain world.  Civilization as we know it is collapsing before our eyes, and we might as well dance, dance, dance, dance, dance.

Keehn and Scaduto directed the video and as they mention in press notes, visually and aesthetically, the slickly shot black and white treatment was deeply influenced by the New German Wave.

Last month, I wrote about Evalyn, an up-and-coming Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter whose soon-to-be released Salvation EP thematically explores the seven deadly sins, while also being centered around the concept of trying to find something to save you from yourself and the world — whether it be a religion or a cult or anything else you might worship. Now, as you may recall, EP single “Big Bad City” featured an arena rock-like production consisting of thumping beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line and a soaring hook. And while possessing the emotional heft of an old school spiritual, the song was one examination of pride — in particular, an unapologetic passion for a sinful, greedy and vapid way of life.

Interestingly, the EP’s latest single “A Pill to Crush” reveals an artist who readily experiments with her sound and songwriting as the track manages to subtly hint at 60s psych pop as its centered around a trippy production of bubbling and wobbling synths, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar chords paired with the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter’s dreamily distracted vocals (which are distorted at various points). And while the song is arguably the most expansive and mind-altering of the up-and-coming artist’s growing catalog, the song lyrically finds its narrator bitterly describing a relationship in which the other person treats you like a pill they can crush and eventually discard — and the feelings of wrath that being rejected and treated poorly can engender.

New Video: Montreal’s Anemone Releases Cinematic Visuals for Breezy Retro-futuristic Synth Pop Number “Daffodils”

Earlier this year, I caught the Montreal-indie pop/dream pop act Anemone open for the acclaimed indie pop act HAERTS at Baby’s All Right, and as you may recall, the act led by Chloe Soldevila (keys, vocals) and featuring Miles Dupire-Gagnon (drums), Gabriel Lambert (guitar), Samuel Gemme (bass) and Zachary Irving (guitar) specializes in a breezy and dreamy synth pop sound that hints at psych pop — and at points to In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and Forever and Horizon-era Painted Palms. The Canadian act released their attention-grabbing debut EP earlier this year, which they’ve supported with a series of critically applauded SXSW shows, and some relentless touring across North America.

“Daffodils,” the Canadian act’s latest single is a breezy bit of synth-led dream pop centered around arpeggiated, analog synths, an ethereal melody, reverb drenched drums, shimmering guitar lines and a sinuous bass line within a gently unfolding, expansive song structure — and interestingly, the song recalls Pavo Pavo’s gorgeous, retro-futurstic dream Young Narrator on the Breakers. 

Directed, shot and edited by the band’s Chloe Soldevila, along with her bandmates, the recently released video was filmed on a grainy looking, Super 8 like film (or Instagram filter) in the New Mexico desert with a wide-screen cinematic vibe that shows the members of the band wandering about the desert, looking small in the face of an enormous expansive, before you see the band playing in the desert. As the band’s Chloe Soldevila explain sin press notes, “”Wide and magical open spaces are so powerful to me. I couldn’t have imagined a better place to capture the song’s video. Driving into White Sands’ natural park was one of the most empowering experiences to us. We had so much fun walking and running endlessly with our eyes wide open, full of admiration. After a while we decided impulsively to set up our gear which we had in the van and we started to play. We felt so alone in the world, playing for the sky and suddenly tons of people enjoying the park started driving in to enjoy the performance… it was so special, until eventually the park security kindly kicked us out!”

New Video: Yumi Zouma Releases a Funky, Dance Floor Friendly, 80s Synth Pop Inspired Jam

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally renowned synth pop act Yumi Zouma, and as you may recall the act, which is comprised of Christchurch, New Zealand-born Christie Simpson, Sam Perry, Charlie Ryder and Josh Burgess have been split across various locations across the globe — primarily New York, Paris and Christchurch — after the 2011 earthquake that ravaged both their hometown and the region at large. Primarily writing and recorded by email, the band wasn’t initially meant to be a live band; however, they’ve received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a breezy yet bittersweet, 80s synth pop-inspired sound centered around Christie Simpson’s ethereal vocals. Since the release of their Turntable Kitchen released cover of Oasis’ 1995 full-length effort, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, the renowned synth pop act has been busily writing and recording an EP trilogy — with the last part of the trilogy EP III slated for a September 28, 2018 release through Cascine Records.

“In Camera,” EP III’s first single was a swooning bit of synth pop with a soaring hook that sonically nodded a bit at  A Flock of Seagulls‘ “I Ran (So Far Away)“, complete with reverb fed instrumentation, a cinematic vibe and a clean, super more production sheen — and while seemingly effortlessly breezy, the song is underpinned by a deliberate and very careful attention to craft, as the members of the band refine each song until it’s absolutely perfect.  “Crush (It’s Late, Just Stay)” EP III’s latest single is centered around thumping beats, a shuffling guitar line, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and a sultry and sinuous bass line and while being a hook-driven, dance floor friendly song, it manages to sound as though it were released in 1983 or so, as it recalls Cherelle’s “Saturday Love” and others. 

Interestingly, as the band’s Josh Burgess explains in press notes, “This song began life as an experiment recording with a fellow Kiwi (Liam Finn) at his studio in 2015. The studio was aptly named The End as it was situated at the very end of Greenpoint Avenue overlooking Transmitter Park which was arguably one of the best views of Manhattan at the time. The End hosted a few different studios, including Jacob Portrait’s (Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Blouse) who mixed ‘In Camera’ as well as rehearsal spaces (I once walked in on The Congo’s rehearsing!). We smoked on the roof and had a bash at making a song together, which is what we sampled in the verses of ‘Crush’. The working title was ‘First Class Lounge’ because it sounded like some kind of musak that would be playing as background before rich people boarded a Concord. 

Unfortunately, The End had a sad finale courtesy of a fire that ripped through the building. Thankfully no one was hurt, but a lot of the gear was wrecked. My girlfriend lives a couple blocks away and over morning coffees we’ll often stroll through Transmitter looking up at the shell of the studio. Like most things in New York it’s relegated to a memory now, but a lot of great music came out of that building!”

The accompanying video features the classically-inspired artwork of Aiden Koch, set among bold and bright colors, animated by Joseph Brennan — and interestingly, while reminding me of the introductory sequence of an 80s rom com, it manages to evoke the flirtatious nature of the song.