Category: Synth Pop

 

If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across several posts on Toronto, ON/Montreal, QC-based electro pop act Doomsquad. Comprised of  siblings Allie, Jaclyn and Trevor Blumas, the electro pop act initially began as an acoustic-leaning folk act but with their shared admiration and love of electronic music, electronic dance music and electro pop, the Blumases began increasingly experimenting with electronic beats, synthesizers, electronic drums and contemporary electronic music production techniques. The trio won attention won both national and Stateside attention with the release of their full-length debut Kalaboogie, a downtempo electro pop-leaning effort that evoked what art, life and music would sound like post-apocaylpse as stark minimalist beats, shimmering synths and alternating chanted and call and response vocals.

The Blumases followed Kalaboogie with 2015’s Pageantry Suite EP and EP singles Apocalypso,” and “Two Way Mirror” revealed a group that relentlessly experimented with their sound as they employed Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar lines, African and Caribbean-inspired polyrhythms, ambient electronics, shimmering synths and sinuous bass lines were paired with half spoken, half sung vocals leading a call and response harmonized vocal section at the song’s hook, which interestingly enough pushed their sound a bit closer Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues and Fear of Music. And much like those two albums, the material on Pageantry Suite evoked a neurotic anxiousness over an impending doom that may — or may not happen.

 

Doomsquad’s sophomore full-length effort, Total Time is slated for an April 29, 2016 release through renowned indie label Bella Union Records globally and Hand Drawn Dracula Records throughout Canada. Reportedly inspired by some of the trio’s favorite artists — Georges Bataille, Richard Tuttle, Tanya Tagaq, and Genesis P-Orridge, Total Time was largely recorded in the New Mexico desert and thematically, the material was specifically written to lead the listener to a genderless experience of transition — from owning time, losing time and becoming timeless while making you move your ass.  Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “Pyramids On Mars” manages to continue on the sonic path of Pageantry Suite as the song begins with an ambient intro of gently undulating synths and off-kilter vocals and quickly becomes a propulsive and shimmering dance-floor ready track that pairs shimmering synths, wobbling low end, chanted and call and response vocals, African and Caribbean-inspired vocals, funk guitar — and much like their most recent tracks sounds as though it could have been released as a B-side to a Talking Heads single.

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If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past year, you may remember coming across a couple of posts on Australian electro pop singer/songwriter Sophie Lowe. Initially establishing herself as an actress, who has appeared in films such as Beautiful Kate, After the DarkAdore and Road Kill, as well as TV series such as The SlapOnce Upon A Time In Wonderland and the US TV series, The ReturnedLowe also received national attention across her native Australia (and internationally) when she released some of her earliest work under the moniker  S.O.L.O.

As the story goes, Lowe recorded under the S.O.L.O. moniker to differentiate her music career from her acting career — but recently, Lowe decided that she should record and perform under her name, essentially tying her music and acting careers together. Now as I mentioned earlier, you might remember coming across “Understand,” a somewhat minimalist song comprised of stuttering drum programming, ominously swirling electronics and undulating synth chords paired with Lowe’s ethereal yet sultry cooing. And although remarkably contemporary, the song also manages to sound as though it drew from analog synth New Wave. “Pink Flowers” paired Lowe’s vocals with a tense and minimalist production of swirling electronics, explosive flashes of cymbal and shimmering cascades of synths to craft a song that pulsates with need and vulnerability.

Lowe’s latest single “Breathe” is the first single off the Australian singer/songwriter’s latest effort EP 2 and the single which pairs Lowe’s vocals with a shuffling and stuttering production consisting of layers of twinkling and shimmering synths, skittering beats, ambient electronics to evoke a tense, anxiousness. As Lowe explains in press notes “I wrote ‘Breathe’ at a time in my life when I [was] struggling to feel comfortable within myself and surroundings. I wanted to talk abotu anxiety with this song because I feel its not talked about enough.” As a result, the song’s narrator humanizes what it feels to be suffering through anxiety, capturing the narrator’s innermost thoughts when she’s at her most terrified and uncertain despite what anyone else says. It also suggests something that we all know is true — some things in life, say getting it together, is easier said than done.

 

 

New Video: The Trippy and Woozy Video for XO’s “Divine Disaster” feat. James Chatburn

Sumil Heera, best known within electronic music circles as XO is an up-and-coming 20 year old, Staffordshire, UK-based producer and songwriter, who has quickly received both national and international attention for a sound that possesses elements of […]

New Video: The Surreal and Hilarious Visuals for Sophie and the Bom Bom’s “Appetite”

As you might remember, last December I wrote about Sophie Stern, the Los Angeles-based creative mastermind behind the (mostly) solo recording project Sophie and the Bom Boms. Initially, Stern’s career began behind the scenes as a songwriter, who was […]

Swedish singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist David Alexander and his solo dream pop/electro-pop Summer Heart has received international attention for a wistfully nostalgic, 60s psych pop-leaning, lo-fi sound that compares favorably to Caribou‘s earliest material, Washed Out, In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy, Painted Palms and others; in fact, his 2011 Please Stay EP received praise from The Guardian and The Star topped Hype Machine‘s charts. In his native Sweden, Alexander has a reputation for being a pioneer of Sweden’s burgeoning dream pop movement, a movement that includes MoonbabiesThe Land BelowHey ElbowBlind Lake and Emerald Park.

Interestingly, Alexander’s international profile has grown as several of his songs have appeared in TV series — including the NBC series, Whitney, which brought him the attention of millions of American TV viewers. Now, if you were frequenting this site last year, you might recall that I wrote about “Nothing Can Stop Us Now,” a song that consisted of jangling guitars, washboard-led percussion, layers of ethereal vocals and cascading synths with a warm buzzing summer afternoon warmth. His latest single “The Forbidden” off his forthcoming EP also named The Forbidden is a slow-burning and shoegaze-leaning single that pairs Alexander’s ethereal cooing with shimmering guitars and synths played through gentle amounts of reverb  and jazz-like drumming. And although the song evokes the sensation of waking up from a pleasant dream, just underneath its placid surface is a wistful melancholy that will remind the listener that all things will eventually dissipate.

Alexander along with a backing band featuring some of his dearest friends will be making Stateside appearances at SXSW and Williamsburg Brooklyn’s The Knitting Factory later this month. Check out tour dates below.

 

SXSW:

Wednesday 16th March

The Townsend – 1:05am

 

Saturday 19th March

Icenhauer’s – 1am

 

NYC:

Wednesday 23rd March

Live In Brooklyn – The Knitting Factory –

http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=6437785

 

 

 

Originally known for her work in electro pop projects Her HabitsGemology and others, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and electro pop artist Joanie Wolkoff has been a JOVM mainstay artist before striking out on her own last year with her solo recording project Wolkoff. In fact, last year was a very big year for the Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based artist — she collaborated with renowned electronic act The Hood Internet on “Going Back,” a single released to massive praise across the blogosphere, including several major media outlets, including Vice Noisey and Billboard — and as you can imagine resulted in a growing national profile for Wolkoff.

Interestingly, Wolkoff’s previously released work channeled the contemporary electro pop sound of acts like BeaconSeoul (both of whom are also JOVM mainstays) and others — in other words eerily minimalist productions consisting of icy synth stabs and woofer and tweeter rattling bass paired with plaintive vocals. However, her ongoing collaboration with young, up-and-coming producer Icarus Moth, which started with the release of the Talismans EP has set the duo apart from the pack as Icarus Moth’s production reveals a deliberate and painterly approach. While drawing from contemporary electro pop and world dance music, the young producer has developed a reputation for pairing big beats, swirling electronics and lush layers of synths with medieval-sounding instrumentation in a way that evokes brushstrokes across a canvas — as you’ll hear on EP single “Curve Appeal,” and others.

Building upon the buzz the duo received last year, Wolkoff and Icarus Moth are set to release Wolkoff’s full-length debut Without Shame on April 15. Lyrically and thematically, the material on the album explores the role shame has in our lives and perhaps more importantly the possibility of sidestepping its grip on us through breaking rank and venturing into the unknown. And as a result, the material on the album may be among the most deeply personal — and yet profoundly universal — material she’s released to date. Without Shame‘s first single “The Homecoming” pairs big tweeter and woofer rattling bass with skittering drum programming, swirling and ambient electronics, Eastern-tinged instrumentation and Wolkoff’s coquettish cooing, and in some way the song possesses the dreamy and ethereal feel of Swedish dream pop — think of Moonbabies‘ excellent Wizards on the Beach and The Knife but subtly filtered through chip tune and old school house music.

Without Shame‘s second and latest single “Kings Highway” pairs Icarus Moth’s painterly production style consisting of swirling electronics, layers of cascading synths, chiming synths, boom-bap beats and ambient electronics with Wolkoff’s husky and coquettish vocals singing lyrics that are both surreal and Romantic in a song that’s sensual and seductive  — while sounding as though inspired it were by electro pop, R&B and house music. And although radio friendly and accessible, it’s challenging and  possesses an art school sheen. Certainly, from the first two singles Icarus Moth should be an in-demand producer as he has a unique sound — and it suggests that Wolkoff and Icarus Moth’s collaboration may be one of the most exciting and unique collaborations in contemporary pop.

Back in 2013, I wrote quite a bit about Anika Henderson, best known under the mononym that she writes, records and performs under, Anika . Initially, Henderson spent her professional career as a political journalist, who split time between Berlin and Bristol, UK. While in Bristol, Henderson was introduced to Geoff Barrow, who’s best known for his work with Portishead. And at the time, Barrow was looking for a vocalist, who would work with his band Beak> for what would be a side project. As the story goes, Henderson and Barrow bonded over a mutual love of punk, dub and 60s girl groups — and about a week later, Barrow, Henderson and the members of Beak>  went into the studio to record what would eventually turn out to be Henderson’s 2010 self-titled full-length debut, completely live with Henderson and the band in the same room without overdubs — and in 12 days.

2013 saw the release of Henderson’s self-titled EP, a collection of covers and remixes that included Henderson’s murky, Portishead and The Velvet Underground and Nico-inspired cover of Chromatics’ “In the City.” And what the self-titled EP revealed is that Henderson, Barrow and company have a way of covering a song with a unique take that makes a song their own — and in the case of Chromatics’ “In The City,” their cover feels as though it was always their song. That’s a rare thing, indeed. Last week, as February was coming to a close, Invada Records, released an icy, lo-tech analog synth electro pop and dub-leaning cover of Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” by the mysterious Invada All Stars featuring Anika on vocals as part of that weekend’s Stop Trident National anti-nukes demonstration in London, a demonstration protesting the renewal of Britain’s nuclear weapons system. Proceeds from the digital single will go to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

Also in that post, I mentioned that Henderson is part of a new project Exploded View — and as it turns out, Exploded View is something of a side project  from her solo work with the members of Beak>. Although the project’s full-length debut is slated for release later on this year through Sacred Bones Records, they will be performing several sets at this year’s SXSW. But before that, the project released their single “No More Parties in the Attic,” that draws from post-krautrock, krautrock, dub and industrial music as the band pairs electronic bloops and bleeps, industrial clang and clatter, buzzing and angular synth and guitar chords with Anika’s signature icy delivery to craft a sound that’s tense and icy  — while evoking the contemporary zeitgeist of trying to navigate in a world that’s gone absolutely mad all the time.