Category: women who kick ass

Sunbather is an emerging Brisbane, Australia-based dream pop duo featuring OKBADLANDS‘ Sally Latter (vocals, bass) and Mike Todman (guitar) that can trace its origins to when its core duo — and housemates — started sharing small ideas in the converted basement studio of their windowless, mostly soundproofed apartment. Experiments with guitar layers for melodic texture and vocal harmonies were initially meant to encourage each other in different roles from the previous work, and eventually led to the material which would comprise their Aidan Hogg-produced five song debut EP, Brown Bread slated for release later this year.

“Softly Spoken,” the duo’s woozy debut single and the EP’s first single features Good Boy‘s and Future Haunts‘ Stu McKenzie (drums). Centered around shimmering layers of guitar, Latter’s plaintive vocals, a sinuous bass line, propulsive and upbeat drumming, and a soaring hook, “Softly Spoken” is a lush, shoegazey take on dream pop with a cinematic quality that reminds me a bit of Still CornersSlow Air and Soft Calvary’s full-length debut.

“The lyrics to the song explore the small details that make up a life shared and are a reflection on the need to be gentle with one another,” the band’s Sally Latter explains in press notes.

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New Video: JOVM Mainstays Yumi Zouma Releases a Gorgeous and Heartfelt Visual for Shimmering Pop Confection “Cool For A Second”

Originally formed in  Christchurch, New Zealand, the internationally acclaimed synth pop act Yumi Zouma, currently features members spread out across the globe with Josh Burgess (guitar, vocals) based in New York, Charlie Ryder (guitar, bass, keys) based in London and Christie Simpson (vocals, keys) based in Christchurch. Writing and recording by email out of necessity, the band initially wasn’t meant to be a live project but over the years, they’ve received praise across the blogosphere and international outlets for a breezy yet bittersweet, 80s synth pop inspired sound centered around Christie Simpson’s ethereal and achingly tender vocals.

Now, as you may recall, the acclaimed indie electro pop act signed to Polyvinyl Record Co. late last year, and to celebrate the occasion, they released the self-produced single “Right Track/Wrong Man,” an upbeat, disco-tinged meditation on the closure gained by accepting that it’s time to move on and forward. Yumi Zouma begin 2020 with the announcement that the band will be releasing their highly-anticipated third full-length album, the self-produced Truth or Consequence on March 13, 2020 through their new label home. Thematically, the album focuses on distance — both real and metaphorically, with the album’s material touching upon romantic and platonic heartbreak, real and imagined emotional distance, disillusionment and being out of reach. 

Interestingly, along with the announcement of their third album, the JOVM mainstays released their latest single, Truth or Consequence’s first official single “Cool For A Second.”  Christie Simpson’s ethereal, wisp-like vocals effortlessly glide over softly padded beats and shimmering synth arpeggios and soaring hooks. While being simultaneously melancholy and hopeful, the song is centered around the idea that life doesn’t always provide answers nor closure and captures the release that comes from saying the truth — even if only to oneself.   

Yumi Zouma’s Charlie Rider explains in press notes that the song was almost scrapped for a B-side before becoming a single. “The song was demoed in Los Angeles and then long forgotten, destined for the scrap heap. A spark of inspiration from Josh in the introduction reestablished that for us, the most conspicuous of melodies are often hidden in modest beginnings.”

Directed by Nick Mckk, the recently released video for “Cool For A Second” stars Benji Mazzone and Yumi Zouma’s Christie Simpson. Fittingly, the cinematically shot accompanying video seems to recall classic 80s movies — but with a seemingly soft focus.  Centered around the central pair of the boy and woman, we see a relationship that’s profoundly affectionate, intimate and familiar. Throughout, there’s a sense that they’re dealing with something monumental in which there’s no real closer — and yet, they have each other to lean on. 

Last year, I wrote a bit about the rapidly rising Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, Luna Shadows.  The Los Angeles-based pop artist began her career as a touring member of the acclaimed New Zealand-based synth pop act The Naked and Famous— but Shadows went solo, because she felt she had a voice that demanded to be heard on its own terms.

Since leaving The Naked and famous, Luna Shadows has developed a reputation for a staunchly DIY approach frequently writing, performing, producing, engineering and editing every single note of her work — and for crafting sultry, melancholy pop that Billboard has called “. . . refreshingly soulful and haunting .  .  . ,” and compared by some critics as Lana Del Rey taking Lorde to the beach. Adding to a growing national profile, the Los Angeles-based artist’s work  has amassed well over 35 million Spotify streams with tracks landing on tastemaker playlists like New Music Friday, Indie Pop, Weekend Beats and Weekly Buzz and landing as high as #7 on the US Charts and #18 on the Global Viral Charts.  She’s also received airplay on a number of radio stations  globally including KROQ, BBC Radio 1 and Beats 1 — all without the support of a label.

Last year saw Luna Shadow begin an ongoing collaboration with Now Now‘s Brad Hale and The Naked and Famous‘ Thom Powers to help shoulder the production and editing load — and she signed to +1 Records, who released three attention grabbing attention: “lowercase,” a track imbued with the bitterness, heartache and confusion of a dysfunctional relationship full of power plays, recriminations and accusations paired with a sleek and hyper-modern, trap-leaning production, “god.drugs.u” which continued in a similar vein as “lowercase” while possessing a plaintive and unfulfilled yearning and lastly. “practice,” a rumination on love and loss featuring Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back“-like synth arpeggios and Shadow’s plaintive vocals.

Shadows begins 2020 building up to the release of her highly-anticipated sophomore album with the release of her latest single “millennia,” which was cowritten with Chelsea Jade and continues her ongoing collaboration with Brady Hale and Thomas Powers. Centered around a pulsating and thumping beats, shimmering synth arpeggios and the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays achingly plaintive vocals, the track seethes with an irritable frustration, as it captures a narrator who’s worn out by the passive aggression and mixed messages of a love interest. She’s tired of being left in the dark and being confused as to what’s going on, and as a result the song captures a particular sensation that’s familiar to all of us: being left in the dark by someone we care about.

Shadows elaborates, “”millennia’ is essentially about different styles of dispute and communication. There are some people who prefer to confront things right away and talk until resolution is reached; conversely, there are others who run in the opposite direction and avoid confrontation all together. I personally find that the silent treatment tends to be more painful than confrontation.”

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Vapor Caves’ 80s Inspired Video for Funky, Feminist Anthem “Bitch To The Boys”

With the release of their debut single “The Chase,” which was featured on Comedy Central‘s hit TV show Broad City and its follow-up “Hurry Up & Wait,” which landed on a Spotify‘s Ready for the Day playlist, the rapidly rising Austin, TX-based synth funk act The Vapor Caves — vocalist Yadira Brown and producer BoomBaptist — quickly emerged into the national scene. Deriving their name from a rare, naturally-found phenomenon: an underground cave that billows mineral-rich steam known for its healing properties, the duo pay homage to the phenomenon, by creating sonic medicine for those who enter.

Building upon a growing profile, the duo’s full-length debut, Feel Yourself, saw a limited vinyl-only release earlier this year that quickly sold out. The album further establishes their sound and approach with material that’s simultaneously dance floor friendly, funky and introspective. Interestingly, as a result of their growing profile, the act has opened for JOVM mainstay Dam-Funk.

Feel Yourself’s latest single, the slinky “Bitch To The Boys” is centered round shimmering synth arpeggios, Brown’s sultry and self-assured vocals, a sinuous dance floor friendly groove and an infectious hook, the track sonically reminds me of classic, 80s synth funk like Cherelle, I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan, Prince, etc., and of contemporary purveyors of the dance floor friendly sound like Dam Funk, Boulevards, Bruno Mars and the like. But more importantly, the song is a defiant, sashaying and strutting feminist anthem and tell off to wack ass fuckboys: the song’s narrator pretty much says “I don’t need your corny ass. I do it for myself anyway.” 

Directed and produced by Side Label, the recently released video is a fittingly 80s-inspired romp that features a crew of wack ass fuckboys, who get told off by the video’s protagonist and her crew. Disses are served — hot, cold and 24 hours a day in this one. 

With the release of their debut EP last year’s I Used to Love You, Now I Don’t, the rapidly rising Brighton-based dream pop act Hanya — Heather Sheret (vocal, guitar), Benjamin Varnes (guitar), Dylan Fanger (bass) and Jack Watkins (drums) — received attention nationally for a sound that meshes 90s dream pop and shoegaze. Building upon a growing profile in England, the Brighton, UK-based dream pop act has opened for Honeyblood, Lazy Day and Tess Parks.

2020 looks to be a breakthrough year for Hanya: they’ll be making their Stateside debut at the 2nd Annal New Colossus Festival in March. But they begin the year with their latest single, “I’ll Do It Tomorrow.” Centered around shimmering guitar chords, Sheret’s gorgeous and achingly plaintive vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook, the track further establishes the dreamy  Brit Pop-like sound that has won them attention nationally while subtly nodding at 70s AM rock. In fact, in some way the song reminds me of The Sundays, Travis and others.

“I’ll Do It Tomorrow” was the result of realising that rarely does anyone take the advice we ask for, we love to procrastinate and wait until things change around us, it’s the magic of the human psyche,” the members of the band explain in press notes. “The song is pretty much advice to an old friend…be every version of yourself, let go, do it now, don’t wait until tomorrow”.

The band has a handful of tour dates, including their Stateside debut at the New Colossus Festival. Check out the dates.

 

Live Dates
17th January – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton (Love Thy Neighbours ‘Triptych’ Series)
1st February – The Piper, Saint Leonards (w/ Penelope Isles)
11-15 March – New Colossus Festival, New York City

New Video: DRAMA Releases a Surreal and Otherworldly Visual for “Years”

Tracing their origins back to a chance meeting between its core duo back in 2014, the Chicago-based pop duo DRAMA — producer and DJ Na’el Shehade and vocalist Via Rosa — have managed to bootstrap a subtle yet rapid rise with a proudly DIY ethos, releasing several EPs of material that blurs the lines between R&B, dance pop, heartbreak and bliss, centered around a sound that meshes Shehade’s Chicago house-infused production and Rosa’s soulful delivery, inspired by jazz, hip-hop and Bossa nova. 

Now, as you may recall, the Chicago-based pop act’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Dance Without Me is slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Ghostly International. The album’s material reportedly finds the duo recasting romantic tragedy as moonlit self-acceptance. Instead of wallowing alone in their blues and heartache, the material features characters who sashay and strut, knowing their self-worth while being vulnerable. This album is dedicated to the people watching their friend’s love-lives grow and happen around them, and not having anyone,” Rosa says in press notes.

I’ve written about two of the album’s releases singles so far: “Gimme Gimme,” a sultry synthesis of Between Two Selves-era Octo Octa and classic, Larry Levan-era house — and “Nine One One,” a slow-burning, cinematic bit of Quiet Storm-like soul pop. “Years,” Dance Without Me’s fourth and latest single is a decidedly R&B-tinged affair that nods at What’s the 411-era Mary J. Blige and Robin S.; however, at its core, the song is full of uneasy conflict and bitter uncertainty : the song’s narrator recognizes that they’re deeply devoted to someone, who isn’t right for them. “This track is a bittersweet song about the conflict of wanting to let go but still hold onto someone you love, but you know they’re not right for you,” DRAMA’s Via Rosa says in press notes. “It’s about knowing you should walk away but also wanting to confess your unconditional and eternal love.”

Directed by Adam Chiayat, the recently released video features the members of DRAMA performing through a series of surreal and otherworldly transitioning spaces. “Filmed practically, we set out to create a series of otherworldly, constantly transitioning spaces for DRAMA to perform through,” the video’s director says in press notes. “Emotions can feel like they take us on a ride, floating us forward and bringing us towards things we need to tackle in our lives. The floating and the spaces seek to represent the themes of the song – speaking to your own heart, confronting your past and opening yourself back up to vulnerability.”

New Video: Rising Swedish-born, Los Angeles-based Pop Artist Winona Oak Releases a Mischievously Twisted Visual for “Control”

Last year, I wrote about the rapidly rising Solleron, Sweden-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist Winona Oak. Oak, who was born Johanna Ekmark has a rather unique backstory: Growing up  on the small, Swedish island known to Swedes as the Island of the Sun, the Solleron-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist spent much of her childhood encountering more animals than people. As the story goes, she grew up as a trained horse acrobat and because she grew up in a musical home, she was encouraged to pursue creative endeavors as much as possible: Ekmark began playing violin when she was 5, piano when she was 9, and she wrote poetry and songs at an extremely young age.

Ekmark eventually moved to Stockholm to pursue a career in music, but a leap of faith that had her attend a Neon Gold Records writing retreat in the Nicaraguan jungle led to her meet Australian-born and based hit making producer and pop artist What So Not. And from this serendipitous meeting, she went on to co-write ““Better” and “Stuck In Orbit,” before stepping out into the spotlight as both the writer and featured artist on the Aussie producer and pop artist’s “Beautiful.”

Adding to a busy 2018, Ekmark covered HAIM‘s “Don’t Save Me” for Neon Gold Records’ 10th anniversary compilation, NGX: Ten Years of Neon Gold before closing out that year with a co-write and vocal contribution to The Chainsmokers viral hit “Hope,” a track that has amassed over 250 million streams across all digital platforms globally — including over 100 million streams on Spotify. As a result of such incredibly early success, the Swedish-born, Los Angeles-based pop artist signed to Warner-Chappell Music Publishing and to Neon Gold/Atlantic Records.

Now, as  you may recall, last year, I wrote about the Swedish-born, Los Angeles-based pop artist’s long-awaited debut single, the slickly produced, hook-driven and sultry “He Don’t Love Me,” and the slow-burning and anthemic ballad “Break My Broken Heart.” Both singles managed to further cement Oak/Ekmark’s growing reputation for crating incredibly earnest pop with enormous hooks. Oak ended last year with the release of an  alternate version of her last single of 2019 “Let Me Know.” The “Let Me Know (Johan Lenox Stings Mix) ” reimagines the propulsive, dance floor friendly original by pairing Oak’s vocals with a string arrangement from Johan Lenox, who has worked with Kanye West, Travis Scott and Vic Mensa. 

Building upon that momentum, Oak released her debut EP CLOSURE through Neon Gold/Atlantic Records last week. The EP’s latest single “Control” continues a run of slickly produced synth pop centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, an enormous hook and Oak’s achingly plaintive vocals. And while sonically the song recalls Kylie Minogue and others, the song evokes the swooning and fluttering pangs of new love and the uncertainty, insecurity and obsession it can sometimes bring. “‘Control’ is about meeting someone that makes you weak in your knees and never knowing how they actually feel about you,” Winona Oak explains in press notes. “You make risky decisions, act irrationally and tolerate things you normally wouldn’t. You’re feeling nervous, insecure and are constantly afraid that they are gonna leave you. Oh and this is when you learn – the difference between love and obsession.” 

Shot and co-directed by longtime visual collaborator Andreas Öhman and Julian Gillström, the recently released video for “Control” stars Winona Oak as a desperate and hopelessly obsessed woman who stalks the object of her affection, before trying to build a Ken doll-version of him. “For the video, we wanted to target this hopeless feeling with a twisted sense of humor,”  Oak explains in press notes. 

Last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Asheville, NC-based goth/post-punk act Secret Shame over the past year. The act, which is currently comprised of Lena (vocals), Nathan (drums), Matthew (bass) and Billie (guitar), formed in 2016, and can trace its origins to the desperate need that its members felt to create. “If I couldn’t sing or play music, I would tear my skin off.” the band’s front person Lena explains in press notes. Shortly after their formation, the band released their self-titled debut EP, which quickly established the band’s dark and atmospheric sound paired with lyrics that thematically touch upon issues of domestic abuse, mental health, political and social dissatisfaction and frustration. 

The band’s full-length debut Dark Synthetics was released last year to critical acclaim, while further establishing their sound an enormous, reverb heavy sound seemingly influenced by Siouxsie and the Banshees and 4AD Records. Building upon the growing momentum the band has received since the release of their full-length debut, the members of the band went on a short tour to support the album, which included an apt Friday the 13th stop at The Broadway and a Halloween set that featured Joy Division covers. Along with that, the rapidly rising post punk act recently announced a series of remixes of Dark Synthetics material they’ll be releasing while they return to the studio to record new music slated for release later this year.

Now, as you may recall I wrote about two of the singles in the growing remix series: XOR‘s icy, industrial take on the guitar-led “Calm,” which retained the song’s intensity, vulnerability and ache, along with Lena’s powerhouse vocals — and Skinquarter‘s early Depeche Mode-like remix of the Siouxsie and the Banshees-like “Haunter.”   The latest remix of the series finds None of Your Concern turning the aforementioned “Haunter” into a propulsive club-banger centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats while retaining Lena’s vocals. Sonically, the remix — to my ears at least — reminds me a of a slickly produced synthesis of KraftwerkFrom Here to Eternity and From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder and of course, the aforementioned Siouxsie and the Banshees.

The members of Secret Shame will be hitting the road to support the vinyl release of Dark Synthetics. After a handful of North Carolina dates in February, Secret Shame will embark on an East Coast and Midwest run throughout March and April that will include an April 2, 2020 stop at Saint Vitus Bar. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates
1/26 – Asheville, NC – The Lazy Diamond
2/07 – Winston-Salem, NC – Monstercade
2/08 – Chapel Hill, NC – Nightlight
2/09 – Wilmington, NC – Reggies
2/12 – Asheville, NC – Static Age
3/28 – Charlotte, NC – TBD
3/29 – Raleigh, NC – Slims
3/30 – Richmond, VA – TBD
4/01 – Philadelphia, PA – TBD
4/02 – Brooklyn, NY – St. Vitus %
4/03 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Skidmore College
4/04 – Boston, MA – Dark Spring Boston
4/06 – Pittsburgh, PA – TBD %
4/07 – Columbus, OH – TBD %
4/08 – Louisville, KY – TBD %

 

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstay The Still Tide Releases a Slow-burning and Yearning New Single

Throughout the course of last year, I managed to write quite a bit about Anna Morsett, the Olympia, WA-born, Denver-based singer/songwriter, musician and creative mastermind behind the indie rock act The Still Tide. Her work with The Still Tide has largely been inspired by experiences growing up in the Pacific Northwest, living in Brooklyn in her 20s and traveling the world as a guitar tech for the likes of critically applauded acts like Kaki King, The Tallest Man on Earth and The Devil Makes Three among others. As a solo artist, she has landed opening spots for Cat Power, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats and Margaret Glaspy.

Now, as you may recall Morsett’s soon-to-be released The Still Tide EP Between Skies s slated for release on Friday  and the EP’s material is inspired by the duality she regularly experiences and feels as a magnetic frontwoman and a self-described introspective loner while also touching upon love, loss, opportunities won and lost and the closed doors of our lives.

So far, I’ve written about three of the EP’s singles, the introspective , The Smiths and The Pretenders-like “Change of Address”  the shimmering and yearning “On The Line” and “Keep It.”  Morsett begins the new year with the release of Between Skies’ fourth and latest single, the slow-burning “Better Than I’ve Been.” And while the new single continues a run of introspective and unapologetically honest material, centered around the Olympia-born, Denver-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s plaintive and tender vocals and shimmering guitars, it may arguably be the most yearning and vulnerable single off the EP to date: the song’s narrator expresses the hope for a deeper, more impactful love in her life. Interestingly, throughout there’s a tacit acknowledgment that meaningful relationships and meaningful love are difficult, require work — for both people — and are incredibly rare.

“This song is about the hope for a deeper, more impactful love/relationship,” explains Morsett. “I wanted to fall in love in the way I dreamed and hoped love could be – something life altering and new in a way I’d not yet known – and that would require me to learn to love better than I’ve been loved.” 

New Video: Forever Releases DIY Visuals for Bittersweet and Triumphant New Single

Born on a remote Canadian island, June Moon is a poet, provocateur and pop artist, known as Forever. Moon started the Forever project around 2013. “I was going through a very dark time because my father had passed away, and I actually quit making music, quit performing, quit writing — I quit everything. Then I met Michael Brock [Mind Bath], and he asked me to open for him at one of his shows. I’ll never forget that moment — he was texting me about it, and I was at a library and an angel whispered in my ear and told me to say say, and that my new name was ‘Forever.’ Two weeks later, I played my first Forever show. ”

So after spending a nomadic decade of traveling, Moon relocated to Montreal to pursue a music career and shape her recording persona of Forever. With the help of Brock and her friend Patrick Holland (Project Pablo), she wrote and released her 2016 self-titled debut, an effort that was a mix of pop and downtempo influences paired with her effortless and ethereal vocals. 

Reeling from the breakup of a lengthy and complicated relationship, Moon went to work, hoping to find healing from songwriting. Working with her frequent collaborators Brock and Holland, she also turned to fellow Montreal artists Ouri,Cecile Believe, formerly known as Mozart’s Sister and TOPS’ David Carriere on the material that would eventually comprise her forthcoming EP Close to the Flame.“Ouri was so influential in her ability to facilitate the development of my sound on this EP,” Moon says in press notes. “Patrick helped me alchemize my heartache by turning my sad songs into dance tracks. David was a special collaboration for me because I really look up to him and Jane [from TOPS] as songwriters.”

Slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Cascine Records, the six song EP reportedly captures the beauty and ugliness of love and loss, centered around a dysfunctional and troubled relationship. “I was in a relationship that was killing me, and I had to plan an escape to save my life,” Moon explains in press notes. “The record is haunted by a ghost. I sing about her murder on the first track ‘Blur,’ but then she turns into a angel on the last song ‘Adonis.’ I channeled her one night when I was writing because I was so scared to talk about what happened to me; I didn’t know how to tell my story. She came to me and told me to use her story as a channel for my own pain. This release is dedicated to her.” 

The EP’s first single is the propulsive, 90s house-inspired “Make It Happen.” Centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, stuttering beats, Moon’s plaintive and ethereal vocals and a guest verse from Just John, the song’s narrator expresses relief and joy over the end of a relationship that has held her back personally and emotionally. The song’s narrator releases that it’s time to move forward and better herself — and a result, it’s triumphant but subtly bittersweet. After all, life’s a series of transitions from one situation, one circumstance to another, until the end. 

Directed and edited by Moon, the recently released video is set in a small cafe. Although there’s a brief cameo by Just John, the video primarily focuses on its protagonist and coworkers as they get their cafe ready for a small gathering of friends for coffee and cake before ending with a passionate reunion.