Category: Synth Pop

 

As an unabashed child of the 80s, Depeche Mode holds as much of a place in my heart as New Order; after all, so much of their material has managed to be part of my life’s soundtrack. More than enough ink has been spilled throughout the act’s influential career, so delving into their biography is largely unnecessary. Interestingly, over the past 20 years, an in impressive and growing number of artists have covered, remixed and reworked Depeche Mode including Smashing Pumpkins, Deftones, A-ha, Monster Magnet, Scott Weiland, The Cure (yes, seriously, The Cure!), Tori Amos, Nada Surf, Linkin Park‘s Mike Shinoda, Breaking Benjamin, Royskopp, Placebo and more.

Comprised of Paris-born and London-based duo Axel Basquiat (composer, vocals, bass) and Vincent T. (production, sound engineering and keys), The Penelopes are an indie electro pop act, production and DJ duo who have developed a reputation for propulsive, Giorgio Moroder-like remixes of Lana Del RayPet Shop BoysWe Have BandNight DriveThe Ting TingsAlt J  and a growing list of others, and for their own original material — which critics internationally have compared to Daft Punk, M83 and Air, among others. The Parisian-born, London-based duo add their names to a growing list of artists, who have covered Depeche Mode with their rendition of “Never Let Me Down Again,” which turns the slow-burning and moody industrial/goth song into a shimmering and anthemic, club-banger with a sinuous bass line and propulsive drum programming with Basquiat’s breathy baritone.  And although The Penelopes uptempo rendition is warmer and dance floor friendly, it retains the original’s sense of longing and desire.

 

Check out how The Penelopes cover compares to Depeche Mode’s original below.

 

 

Sophie Stern, the Los Angeles-based creative mastermind behind the (mostly) solo recording project Sophie and the Bom Boms originally started her career as a pop songwriter, who was signed to mega-hit producer and songwriter Dr. Luke’s camp. After spending a couple of years writing songs for several major stars, Stern, who was inspired by a diverse array of artists including Erykah Badu, Tom Tom Club and others, decided that she should go out on her own as a solo artist.

Stern collaborated with two renowned producers, David Elevator, who won 3 Grammys for his songwriting/production work on Beck‘s Morning Phase and Dan Dare, who’s best known his work with Marina and the Diamonds, Charlie XCX and M.I.A. for her forthcoming debut EP. The EP’s first single “Big Girls” is breezy and infectious pop confection that pairs big, boom-bap beats, cascading synths, anthemic hooks and Stern’s effortlessly soulful vocals. Sonically, the song draws from 80s synth pop and R&B (for example think of Nu Shooz‘s “I Can’t Wait“) while sounding remarkably contemporary — the production behind the song is incredibly slick without removing the song’s sense of fun or Stern’s larger-than-life confidence.

 

If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over roughly the last 15-18 months or so, you may have come across a couple of posts on Scott Reitherman, the creative mastermind behind indie electro pop sensation, Pillar Point and the former frontman of pop act, Throw Me The Statue. With Pillar Point, Reitherman has received national attention for a melancholy yet bouncy electro pop sound primarily comprised of vintage, analog synthesizers, drum kits and sleek bass lines. It’s a sound that’s been compared favorably to several blogosphere darling acts including Washed Out, LCD Soundsystem and others.

While touring to support his solo debut with of Montreal , Reitherman was planning to write and record his sophomore full-length effort, Marble Mouth in his Seattle home when Kevin Barnes unexpectedly invited him to record the album in his home studio. As soon as the tour wrapped up, Reitherman spent several months crafting demos and went to Barnes’ home to flesh out, refine and then record Marble Mouth‘s material with contributions from Washed Out’s drummer Cameron Gardener and Kishi Bashi‘s percussionist Philip Mayer. Reitherman then spent a six month sent in New Orleans writing and refining both the album’s lyrics and vocals. And as Reitherman explained in press notes, New Orleans managed to influence the album’s lyrical direction.“New Orleans was the most meditative and mysterious part of making the record,” Reitherman explained. “I wanted to sink into that city and scrutinize the romantic southern sojourn.”

Marble Mouth’s first single, album opening track “Part Time Love” paired layers of twitchy and cascading synths with propulsive, four-on-the-floor drumming and Reitherman’s ethereal cooing to craft a sound that’s reminiscent of Talking HeadsTobacco and others, while it subtly nodded at Top 40 pop; in other words, the sound is tense, neurotic and incredibly danceable and accessible pop with infectious hooks. The album’s latests single “Dove” pairs confessional R&B/pop-leaning lyrics sung with Reitherman’s achingly plaintive and emotive vocals with house music-leaning production comprised of layers of cascading synths, skittering drum programming, a glitchy and dramatic string sample and swirling electronics in what may be arguably the most club-friendly song of the entire album.

New Video: The Trippy and Stylistic New Video for Chet Faker and Marcus Marr’s “The Trouble With Us”

  London-based DJ, producer, electronic music artist and multi-instrumentalist Marcus Marr is an internationally recognized artist, who has released a number of critically acclaimed singles through renowned electro pop/dance music/dance punk label DFA Records. His two best known […]

Over the better part of the past year,  Detroit, MI-based duo Gosh Pith have become JOVM mainstays while winning the attention of the blogosphere for a sound and songwriting approach that focusses on capturing a specific feeling or sensation, rather than capturing a concrete narrative. considering that the duo, comprised of Josh Smith (vocals, guitar and production) and Josh Freed (samples, synths and production) reportedly started the project after a drunken and psychedelics fueled late night walk through the streets of Paris in which they found themselves moved and marveled by the sounds of their voices echoing of narrow streets, the focus on capturing mood before anything else shouldn’t be surprising. However, interestingly enough, over the past year the duo have been experimenting with their sound and songwriting approach over that same period of time — with their sound gradually becoming warmer and guitar becoming much more prominent and obvious throughout.

The Detroit-based indie electro pop duo close out a big 2015 with a set at Rough Trade on December 17 and with the release of their latest single “Gold Chain,” which the duo have described as “. . . a ratchet love song about the constant conflict between the meaningful and the meaningless.” Sonically the song pairs swirling electronics, bleeps and bloops, boom bap beats, skittering drum programming, strummed bluesy guitar chords with Freed’s earnest falsetto signing lyrics about longing for a particular lover, comparing them to a gold chain, which clearly has a financial value but doesn’t necessarily have a deep emotional meaning; in some way it’s a bizarre pick up line that’s both ridiculous and kind of endearing. Interestingly, the song may be the most R&B-leaning song the duo have released to date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of brothers Adam Lyons (vocals) and Nathan Lyons (keyboards), along with Patrick Huerto (guitar), Tommy Davis (bass), James Alexander (drums), the Gold Coast, Australian-born and now Manchester, UK-based sextet Fairchild have developed a growing international profile for an 80s inspired, hook-laden synth pop sound.  The sextet’s latest single “Breathless”  further cements the band’s reputation for 80s inspired synth pop; however, while their previously released material was rousingly anthemic, the new single is slow-burning, sensual, and moodily atmospheric in a way that’s reminiscent of The Fixx’s “Saved by Zero” as four-to-four drumming,  swirling electronics, slowly cascading synths, shimmering guitar chords played through layers of reverb are paired with Adam Lyon’s soulful crooning and a slinkily sexy groove.

 

Produced by friend and frequent collaborator Catherine Marks, best known for her work with Foals, The Killers and Wolf Alice, the single not only reveals a subtle refinement of the sound that first won them international attention, it also inspired a change in their songwriting process. As the story goes, the time the members of the band spent writing “Breathless” actually inspired a series of pre-production jam sessions and songwriting sessions over the course of four months that had each band member contributing ideas unencumbered and unhindered by genre expectations. At times members of the band worked individually and in small groups, sometimes swapping instruments, sharing ideas and thoughts on bits of grooves, riffs and beats  and as they did so they began to see and feel even more parallels between their recorded efforts and their influences.

From listening to “Breathless,” I can tell you that the song is arguably the most self-assured, loosest and sexiest song that they’ve released to date, and that seems to stem from the songwriting sessions that birthed it. Granted,  if you were familiar with them before, it’s a subtle refinement of their sound but the hooks are sharper and laser focused. And while their material had always been emotionally direct, the new single pairs that directness with a deeper commitment to setting a particular mood. Be on the lookout for a new EP from the Australian-born, British-based band sometime in 2016.