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With a handful of singles and their full-length debut Vaporwave, the Washington, DC-based indie electro rock and synth pop sextet Color Palette, comprised of Jay Nemeyer (vocals, guitar), Josh Hunter (guitar, keys, bass), Matt Hartenau (drums), Rogerio Naressi (keys) and Maryjo Mattea (vocals) received attention both locally and internationally from the likes of NME MagazineUSA Today, NPR and Impose Magazine— and adding to a growing profile, the band has shared bills with  Charli XCX, The Naked and Famous, Mother Mother, Day Wave, Yumi Zouma, Mr. Little Jeans, The Kickback, Spirit Animal, VanLadyLove and others.

Up until late last month, some time had passed since I had come across the DC-based sextet but as you may recall, the band had been busy working on their sophomore album, which is currently slated for release sometime next year — and the album’s first single “Sunburn,” was a breezy and anthemic track centered around shimmering and jangling guitar lines, ethereal electronics and a soaring hook paired with a wistful vocal that evokes the passing of summer, and the impending end of another year. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Chelsea” is a synth-based track that some have compared favorably to Depeche Mode, although to my my ears, the song recalls St. Lucia as the members of Color Palette layer of arpeggiated synths are paired with angular and hanging guitar chords, an a propulsive rhythm section — and while much like its predecessor, the song reveals a band that can craft a razor sharp and infectious hook, “Chelsea” may arguably be the most ambitious, arena rock friendly track they’ve written and released to date.

 

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Over the past year or so, I’ve written about the Providence, RI-based act Arc Iris, and as you may recall, the act initially formed as a rock musical octet but has gone through a series of lineup changes that have cemented the group’s current lineup — founding member Jocie Adams (vocals), formerly of The Low Anthem, with Tenor Miller (keyboards, samples) and Ray Belli (drums). With the release 2014’s self-titled debut and 2016’s sophomore effort  Moon Saloon, the Rhode Island-based trio quickly received national and attention for shapeshifting grooves that drew comparisons to Hiatus Kaiyote and others. Adding to a growing profile, the members of Arc Iris have opened for St. Vincent, Jeff Tweedy, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Juana Molina, and have played at  major festivals like Bonnaroo, End of the Road and the Rolling Stone Weekender. However, just as the band thought they had beaten the incredibly long odds of the contemporary music industry, the gigs and opportunities dried up.

While most bands would have been embittered and called it a day, the members of Arc Iris decided to reinvent themselves, self-releasing their sophomore effort in the US and adopting an ardent DIY approach to promotion, booking and management. Interestingly, as a result of their DIY approach, the band landed a tour opening for Kimbra and Gene Ween, performed a complete re-imagination of Joni Mitchell‘s Blue at The Kennedy Center  and have seen a growing (and deeply dedicated) international fanbase.

Slated for an October 12, 2018 release through Ba Da Bing Records, Arc Iris’ third full-length album Icon of Ego was recored at Providence’s Columbus Theater, which during the 1920s hosted silent movies and vaudeville, and the album reportedly finds the band crafting vividly expressionistic material that draws from prog rock, art rock and synth pop while meshing wildly disparate styles and elements. Interestingly, Icon of Ego‘s first single “$GNMS” was a complete reworking and re-imagining of  “Money Gnomes,” off their debut — and while the original version possessed a folksy sort of looseness, the remake leans towards Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, The Yes Album-era Yes, Bjork and sci fi. The album’s second and latest single “Turn It Up” will further cement the trio’s reputation for crafting shape-shifting and progressive pop centered with enormous and infectious hooks — in the case, the song is centered around thumping, boom-bap drums, shimmering and twinkling synths and Adams’ gorgeous yet sultry vocals and an unusual, dream-like song structure that recalls Sgt, Pepper-era Beatles and Bjork, complete with a stream of consciousness-like vibe.

Friday, the members of the renowned pop act will be embarking on a lengthy fall tour that will include a November 11, 2018 stop at Rough Trade. Check out the tour dates below.  Also, you can preorder the new album here: https://grapefruitrecordclub.com/products?keywords=arc+iris

 

Tour Dates
09/07 – Boston, MA – Aeronaut Allston
10/12 – Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre
10/13 – Portsmouth, NH – The Press Room
10/15 – New Haven, CT – Cafe 9
10/18 – Northampton, MA – Parlor Room
10/19 – Marlboro, NY – The Falcon
10/22 – Rochester, NY – Lovin’ Cup
10/25 – Newark, OH – Thirty-One West
10/27 – Cleveland, OH – Bop Stop
10/31 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr Smalls Funhouse
11/1 – Indianapolis, IN – The Pioneer
11/2 – Chicago, IL – The Hideout
11/3 – St Louis, MO – Off Broadway
11/4 – Louisville, KY – Jimmy Can’t Dance
11/7 – Columbus, OH – Woodlands Tavern
11/9 – Brattleboro, VT – Stone Church
11/10 – Burlington, VT – ArtsRiot
11/11 – Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade
11/15 – Woodstock, NY – Colony Cafe
11/17 – Cambridge, MA – Lizard Lounge
1/10 – Philadelphia, PA – MilkBoy
1/11 – York, PA – Kable House
1/12 – Washington DC – Songbyrd Cafe
1/18 – Greensboro, NC – House Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while, you’ll likely be familiar with the NYC-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kelsey Warren, a grizzled veteran of this city’s scene, who has been in a number of local and regionally known acts including Denise Barbarita and the Morning Papers, Pillow Theory and others. His latest project, Blak Emoji currently finds Warren collaborating with Sylvana Joyce (keytar), Bryan Percival (bass, keys) and Max Tholenaar-Maples (drums) and the act’s latest single “Another Club Night,” off the full-length debut that they’re finishing work on will further Warren and company’s growing reputation for crafting dance floor friendly pop centered around slinky synths, a sinuous bass line, four-on-the-floor drumming , thumping beats and an anthemic hook. Sonically speaking, the track finds the act’s sound recalling the likes of contemporary synth funk acts like Boulevards.

As Warren told me about the song via email, “It feels like a summer dance song to me or a song you play before you’re heading out for the night. Like a pre-game party track. It’s just a fun tune about the highs and lows of club life. Hanging out at night with friends and/or lovers is usually a blast and what we live for on the weekend but staying at home with a love one can be fun too. Of course the home front is a safer, more intimate environment. I had the synth melody as an idea for awhile but it took a few months to come up with a structure, lyrics and the right feel.”

Comprised of Matt Cusack, Vince Federici, Charlie Heim and Will Tobin, the Philadelphia, PA-based indie act Batting Cages formed last year — and interestingly, the up-and-coming band’s latest single “Feels So Good” is an anthemic synth pop/synth rock single that draws from classic 80s synth pop while also bringing St. Lucia and countless others to mind, as the song is centered around some arena rock-like bombast, earnestly swooning emotionality, soaring hooks and shimmering and arpeggiated synths.  And naturally, the song sounds as though it should be part of a soundtrack to a Breakfast Club-like movie.

 

New Audio: Acclaimed Act Thrice Releases An Anthemic Prog Rock-like Single

Comprised of founding members Dustin Kensrue (vocals, guitar) and Teppei Teranishi (guitar) with siblings Eddie Breckenridge (bass) and Riley Breckenridge (drums), the Irvine, CA-based rock band Thrice can trace their origins to its founding members meeting in high school and playing in a local band Chapter 11. When it came to starting their own project, Kensrue and Teranishi recruited Teranishi’s skate park buddy Eddie Breckenridge to play bass, and Breckenridge then brought his brother Riley to play drums, completing the band’s lineup. As the story goes, before their first show they realized that they needed name, and hard-pressed, they decided on going with Thrice, an inside joke between the bandmembers out of desperation. Although they had intended the name to be a temporary one, they began to gain fans and people started to associate them with it, so they were forced to stay with it.

In 1999, the band released the First Impressions EP, which was recorded during a twos-day session at A-Room Studios with Brian Tochilin. Only 1,000 copies were made and the individual bandmembers sold them out of their cars. Working with Death by Stereo’s Paul Miner, the Irvine, CA-based quartet recorded 12 tracks, which eventually became their 2000 full-length debut Identity Crisis, which was released through Greenflag Records. A portion of the album’s proceeds were donated to Crittenton Services for Children and Family, and with growing local buzz, the quartet caught the interest of Hopeless/Sub City’s Louis Posen, who eventually signed the band, and reissued Identity Crisis. To support the album the band toured with the likes of Samiam, Midtown and Hot Rod Circuit.

February 2002 saw the release of the band’s Brian McTernan-produced Hopeless/Sub City debut, The Illusion of Safety. Much like its predecessor, the band donated a portion of the album’s proceeds to a non-profit youth shelter in South Central Los Angeles, A Place Called Home, with the label matching all donations. The album received generally positive reviews and after tours opening for Further Seems Forever and Face to Face, followed by their first headlining tour, Thrice won the attention of several major labels, including Island Records, who signed the band, after agreeing to match the band’s charitable donations in the same fashion as Hopeless/Sub City. After signing with Island Records, the band toured with Hot Water Music and Coheed and Cambria before returning to the studio.

Interestingly with the release of 2002’s Illusion of Safety and 2003’s The Artist in the Ambulance, the band developed a reputation for a fast and punishing math rock-like sound centered around heavily distorted power chords, rapid time signature changes; however, with 2005’s Vheissu, the members of Thrice began incorporating synths, electronic beats and a much more experimental approach to their songwriting that continued through 2007 and 2008 with the release of The Alchemy Index, two albums that actually consisted of a 4-part, 24 song cycle, with each of the four 6-song EPs featuring significantly different styles based on the classical elements of fire, water, air and earth both lyrically and musically. 2009’s Beggars and 2011’s Major/Minor found the band continuing to refine their experimentation and exploration of their sound; but after the release of Major/Minor, Thrice announced a final tour and a hiatus.

In 2015, Kensrue and Teranishi decided to reform the band, and by the following year, they released their first album in four years, 2016’s To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere.  Slated for a September 14, 2018 release through Epitaph Records, the band’s tenth full-length album Palms is their second post-reunion album, and the album which was co-produced by the band and Eric Palmquist reportedly finds the band’s sound encompassing everything from post-hardcore to piano-driven ballads, making it arguably the most sonically expansive album of their careers to date. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, the prog rock-like mid-tempo “Only Us” is centered around pulsating synths, enormous power chord-led guitar riffs, an arena rock friendly hook and Kensrue’s plaintive and earnest vocals. As the band’s Dusin Kensrue explains in press notes. “‘Only Us’ came from thinking about how easily we’re so divided into ‘us’ and ‘them’ when really we have an inherent ability to care for those in our group, and the parameters for who falls into that group are extremely flexible. It’s about how the things that we think separate us are actually inconsequential, and if we could broaden the idea of ‘us’ to include all people, it would help us build a more loving and civil society. “

 

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. With the release of “Elliot,” the lead single and EP title track of his 2013 debut EP Elliot, Lauber received praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who named the track one of their “Best New Tracks.” 2015 saw the release of the double A side single “Night Moves”/”Hold On,” which was released through Greco-Roman Records and further cemented his reputation for crafting  material with warm, synth-led Euro-disco sound.

Lauber’s 2016 self-titled, full-length debut featured standout tracks “Colours” and “Moving On,” and has led to tours with the likes of Hot Chip, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Crystal Fighters, as well a remixes of Glass Animals, Jax Jones, Truls, Sundara Karma, Luca Vasta and Kakkmaddafakka and others. Interestingly, Lauber’s highly-anticipated Roosevelt sophomore album Young Romance is slated for a September 28, 2018 and the album reportedly finds the German singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer moving away from the dance floor friendly sound of his previously recorded work and leaning heavily towards hook-driven guitar and synth-based pop while balancing escapism and wistfulness throughout. Thematically, the album covers the trials, tribulations and frustrations of falling in and out of love, finding some semblance of home and life on the road. As Lauber says of the writing process “I ended up progressing a lot of emotions that I felt during my youth. Faded relationships that haunted me for years, being on the road for what seemed like forever and the constant search for a place to call home.”

Young Romance‘s second and latest single “Forgive” finds the up-and-coming German collaborating with Washed Out‘s Ernest Green, who contributes his imitable, ethereal vocals to a shimmering production centered by a disco-like groove, Chic-era Nile Rodgers funk guitar, subtle hints at African percussion and an infectious hook. Sonically speaking, the song feels like it could have easily been on Green’s lush Paracosm as it manages to be swooning and earnest while retaining dance floor friendly vibes. Interestingly, the collaboration can trace its origins to when Green followed Lauber on Instagram, and as Lauber says in press notes “I was so happy to find out he was a fan. He has always been a massive influence and this track was written around the vocal stems he sent back within days — a real collaborative effort.”

 

 

 

 

Over the course of last year, I wrote about the  Los Angeles, CA-based post-punk act Sextile and since its formation back in 2015, the band has earned a devout following thanks to a reputation for an explosive live show and non-stop touring as either a headliner or opener 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 — and they’ve played sets at Bersekertown, Cloak & Dagger and Levitation Festivals.
Now, since I’ve last written about them, the act has gone through a massive lineup change that finds the act as a duo featuring Brady Keehn and Melissa Scaduto. And as a result of the lineup changes, the project has shifted towards a decidedly minimalist approach with the duo of Kehn and Scaduto favoring the use of synths over guitars — although with their forthcoming self-recorded, forthcoming EP3 the duo employ the use of a KORG MS-10, a sequencer, a Fender Stratocaster, a LinnDrum and various other percussion-based instruments. The duo also 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; in fact, the EP’s latest single “Spun” is 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 finds the band meshing the aesthetics of Gang of Four and classic DFA Records (i.e., LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture) — although the song subtly hits at Bay City Rollers‘ “Saturday Night,” thanks to its punchily delivered vocals.  Sonically, the song manages to evoke a civilization gone absolutely mad, inching itself closer to apocalypse — but dancing on its way to the end.

 

The duo of Kehn and Scaduto will be on a lengthy tour to support their new EP. Check out the tour dates below. .

Tour Dates
09.13 Glasgow, UK @ Broadcast
09.14 Newcastle, UK @ Underground
09.15 Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
09.16 Birmingham, UK @ The Cuban Embassy
09.18 London, UK @ Electrowerkz
09.19 Brighton, UK @ The Hope & Ruin
09.20 Portsmouth, UK @ The Edge Of The Wedge
09.21 Le Havre, FR @ Mc Daids
09.22 Angers, FR @ Levitation Festival
09.23 Lyon, FR @ Le Farmer
09.24 Limoges, FR @ El doggo
09.25 Landgraaf, NL @ Oefenbunker
09.26 Antwerp, BE @ TRIX
09.27 Paris, FR @ La Station
09.28 Hamburg, DE @ Karatekeller
09.29 Berlin, DE @ Urban Spree
10.02 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall ~
10.03 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall ~
10.12 – 14 Moreno Valley, CA @ Desert Daze

 

 

New Video: Elkka Releases Empowering and Boldly Feminist Visuals for Genre-Meshing New Single

Elkka is a London-based producer, DJ and founder of art collective and label femme culture, which she founded as a response to the lack of support for women and women-identifying DJs, producers and artists, later teaming up with fellow DJ Ludo, who now co-runs the label. And since then, the progressive-minded collective has been receiving attention and recognition for a boundary-free ethos that champions women, women-identifying artists and the LGBTQ+ community — all while promoting forward-thinking electronic music.

Unsurprisingly, as a DJ, producer and artist, Elkka has developed a reputation for a freewheeling sound that seamlessly meshes eras and styles, often floating somewhere between electronic dance music, left-field pop and spacious R&B. Interestingly, her latest single “Stay (Warm Edit) is a thorough rework of a previously released track, centered around Afro-Brazilian percussion, arpeggiated synths and a looped ethereal vocal sample that gives the song a wistful and aching sense of longing. Interestingly, over the past year, the up-and-coming British producer, DJ, artist and label head has become deeply influenced by Brazilian music and dance culture, and while that’s apparent by the song’s clear influence, the recently released video directed by Undine Markus and produced by Girls in Film features a diverse team of female samba dancers of all age groups and backgrounds from The London School of Samba. As Elkka says of the video and the women in it, “When dancing I found myself surrounded by these confident, bold and mesmeric women, all supporting and encouraging one another and I really wanted to try and capture this in the video whilst paying homage to the Brazilian music and dance that I have fallen in love with.” Whether unintentional or not, the video possesses an empowering, you-can-do-anything spirit that’s infectious — and pretty fucking righteous.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Stereo Off Return with a Decidedly 80s Synth Pop Inspired Single and Video

Over the past three years I’ve written a bit about the New York-based indie rock/electro pop outfit Stereo Off, and as you may recall, the band initially was the solo project of its frontman and founding member Sebastian Marciano before expanding into a quintet featuring an eclectic array of friends and collaborators from NYC and London. Within a year or so of expanding into a full-fledged band, the band had played at a number of renowned venues across town including The Knitting Factory, Glasslands Gallery and others. Adding to growing profile, the members of Stereo Off had their music featured in several short films that made the national film festival circuit, and they promptly released their first two recorded efforts — 2014’s New York EP and 2015’s The Long Hot Winter EP,  an effort which helped land a  CMJ Festival appearance.

After a series of lineup changes, the band has settled into a core trio that features its founder and frontman, Nial Madden, a longtime guitarist, who switched to bass on most of the material that comprises their most recent effort, EP III and multi-instrumentalist Bridget Fitzgerald. Naturally, with a lineup change, its common for a band to have a corresponding change of songwriting approach and sonic direction — and in the case of the JOVM mainstays, their sound had generally leaned heavily in the direction of New Order, Primal Scream and Nine Inch Nails-like synth pop/synth rock, featuring the occasional violin arrangement; however, EP III’s latest single “Sunsetting” may arguably be the most summery single they’ve released to date, while finding the band expanding upon their sound with the song seemingly nodding at Avalon-era Roxy Music, thanks to James McElwaine’s soulful and sultry saxophone lines, 80s synth funk and contemporary electro pop in a slick, seamless fashion.

Directed by Deviant Children Productions’ Nicholas Ortiz, the recently released video features the band and James McElwaine performing the song in an 80s-like night club and stars Krystal Pizarro, Sasha A Wilson and  Aleks Ivanovic, some fuzzy VHS-like tape hiss and static, a car chase and some steamy, late night hooking up between two of the video’s protagonists — all of which evoke wild, Miami Vice-like summer nights in the city.

New Audio: Ron Gallo Returns with an Ironic Yet Contented Philosophy on Life in New Single

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about Ron Gallo, a  Philadelphia-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, whose musical career began in earnest with an eight year stint as the frontman of Philadelphia-based band  Toy Soldiers, an act that initially began as a guitar and drum duo that at one point featured 12 members, before ending as a quintet. Gallo’s 2016 full-length debut HEAVY META was largely inspired by the end of romantic relationship with a deeply troubled woman. Once that relationship ended, Gallo moved to Nashville, recorded an album’s worth of material during a period that he has since considered a deeply transformative period of his life. Interestingly, Gallo initially wrote and recorded the album’s material in small batches without the support of a label — and without the intention of even making an album; however, the material he wrote wound up touching upon a number of themes within his life, including his own personal ideology on abstaining from drugs and alcohol, self-empowerment, domestication, dead and unhappy love, not truly knowing yourself and the thing that could happen to you when you don’t, mental illness from the perspective of a sufferer and an observer, and a burning almost misanthropic frustration with humanity and civilization. And yet, there’s some level of optimism.  As Gallo said in press notes at the time, “this record comes from my frustration with humanity and myself, and from my wanting to shake us all. At my core, I’m compassionate for humanity and the sickness that we all live with, and from that comes something more constructive.”

HEAVY META’s follow-up Really Nice Guys EP was released earlier this year, and the EP was a concept EP largely inspired by the previous year in Gallo’s life in which he was busy touring and promoting his full-length debut with the material being a satirical commentary on the contemporary music industry; in fact, the EP featured songs about rough mixes, (broken into three parts — iPhone demo, live band demo and overproduced, autotuned to death studio recording), the weird inability for those within the music industry to honestly admit that someone is just awful at music, so everyone winds up saying, “well, they’re really nice guys . . .” and the number of friends asking to be put on the guestlist so that you can never really make money off a show.

Slated for an October 5, 2018 release, Gallo’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Stardust Birthday Party is largely inspired by a life-altering, seismic shift in Gallo’s life: as the story goes, the deeply troubled women he was with and left before writing his solo debut, had taken a trip to South America, found a healer and miraculously got herself and her life together in 2016. Understandably, such news had piqued Gallo’s interest and he began reading and searching for a more inward path for his own mental and spiritual development. Earlier this year, on a whim, he booked a trip to California for a silent meditation retreat. Despite his initial discomfort, Gallo reportedly experienced a profound experience that quickly became the answer for his existential searching — and the thematic core of the album: how inner transformation impacts both the outside world and your perception of it.

Or, as Ron Gallo says in a statement about the album:

“Stardust Birthday Party is about human evolution. Specifically, one humans evolution: mine, Ron Gallo.  That’s the name my parents gave me. Hi.
At one point, I was a very lost mid-twenties person living in Philadelphia, in a relationship with someone struggling with mental health issues and crippling heroin addiction. I was asleep. I didn’t know how to handle my life. I was also writing songs for HEAVY META – my “frustrated with humanity” album. I laugh about it all now, but at the time it all felt like an absolute nightmare. It was the perfect doorway to look inside the place I’d been avoiding forever: myself.
Stardust Birthday Party is about what is happening underneath all of this life stuff. My path inward. The details of my path are pointless because everyone’s path is different. It is about me sitting with myself for the first time and confronting the big question “WHAT AM I, REALLY?” It’s about the love and compassion for all things that enters when you find out you are nothing and everything. I think at one point I wanted to change the world, but now I know I can only change myself, or rather just strip away everything that is not me to reveal the only thing that’s ever been there. And that’s what this album is about, it’s me dancing while destroying the person I thought I was, and hopefully forever.
In the liner notes of John Coltrane’s album A Love Supreme (which we pay tribute to on this album) he wrote: ‘During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music.’
That’s it.  That is the pure essence of creativity. Someone embodying what they have realized about themselves and the world that surrounds them. That is why this album exists. ”

Stardust Birthday Party’s latest single “It’s All Gonna Be Okay,” is an angular ripper centered around two disparate things — a relishing of life’s ironies with a bemused yet accepting smile, as though saying “well, we’re all small, ridiculous and powerless to the larger forces in the universe that will kill us eventually and that’s okay.” But along with that the song points out a larger connection to everyone and everything, suggesting that the only way the world can even begin the change is if every individual seriously take a look at their own fucked up shit. Until then, well — more of the same, I guess?