Category: women who kick ass

Founded back in 2010, Parisian psych pop act and longtime JOVM mainstays  La Femme — currently, founding members Sacha Got and Marlon Magnée, along with Sam Lefévre, Noé Delmas, Cleémence Quélennec, Clara Luiciani, Jane Peynot, Marilou Chollet and Lucas Nunez Ritter — managed to hoodwink the French music industry by lining up a DIY Stateside tour as a then unknown band, with $3,000 Euros and their debut EP, that year’s Le Podium #1

After playing 20 gigs across the States, the members of La Femme returned to their native France with immense interest from the Parisian music scene. “The industry was like, ‘What the fuck? They have an EP out and they are touring in the US and we don’t know them?” Marlon Magnée told The Guardian. “So the buzz began to start. When we came back to France, it was red carpet. Fucking DIY.” 

2013’s critically applauded and commercially successful full-length debut Psycho Tropical Berlin found the Parisian JOVM mainstays making a wild, creative and sonic left turn incorporating krautrock and synths to their unique take on surf rock and psych pop. The album eventually earned a Victoires de la Musique Award.

Building upon a rapidly growing national and international profile, La Femme’s sophomore album, 2016’s Mystére to praise by Sound Opinions, The Line of Best FitThe GuardianAllMusic, BrooklynVegan and a lengthy list of others. 

The French JOVM mainstays long-awaited, third album Paradigmes was released last year through the band’s own Disque Pointu and distributed through IDOL. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of this year, you’d recall that it’s been a very busy on for the Paris-based outfit: In April, La Femme released Paradigmes: Le Film, a full-length film co-directed by the band’s Sacha Got and Marlon Magnée and Aymeric Bergada du Cadet that highlights the band’s humor and creativity while being primarily centered around Paradigmes‘ material. (You can watch it on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8Wnil2ipf0)

The also released an exclusive, vinyl Record Store Day edition of ParadigmesParadigmes: suppléments, a deluxe edition of their critically applauded third album. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of Paradigmes, La Femme announced the release of a limited collection of NFTs made from the original frames used for the animated video for “Foutre le Bordel.” The NFTs were released by  by Ballad(r), an NFT launchpad for artists and institutions in the music industry. These unique digital works of art included a unique audio track made from stems of the original song and unlocked exclusive content and numerous real-life perks for each lucky NFT holder. 

During the JOVM mainstays’ time touring across Latin America and Spain, the band wrote their first song entirely in Spanish, “Le Jardin,” which appeared on the aforementioned Paradigmes. “Le Jardin” led the band down the path to write Teatro Lucido. Deriving its name from a mythic theater, where the band has played many times while touring in Mexico, the album, which is slated for a November 4, 2022 release will be their first album with lyrics written and sung entirely in Spanish. Teatro Lucido will also be the first of a planned thematic series of albums that the band calls Collection Odyssèe.

Teatro Lucido is informed by their adventures in SevilleGranadaMadridMexico CityCuautepecPadul — all of which hold important places in their hearts, because they had a ton of laughs, joys, tears and disappointments in each. The album also reportedly draws from a number of different inspirations including Spain’s Semana Santa — or holy week; pasodoble, reggaeton, Brazilian and Andalusian rhythms, classical guitars and 80s Movida among others. Much like their previous releases, the members of French JOVM mainstays wrote, composed and produced the album entirely by themselves, while inviting numerous female vocalists to participate in the process. 

Just before the JOVM mainstays last North American tour, La Femme shared “Sacatela,” a breezy, Tropicalia-like take on psych pop centered around an infectious, call-and-response vocal-led hook, snuggling Latin rhythms and lyrics sung entirely in Spanish.

The album’s second and latest single “Y Tu Te Vas” is centered around cinematic, flamenco-inspired guitars and a tweeter and woofer rocking reggaeton beat that might bring Rosalía, Bad Bunny, and others to mind. The song features a sultry, Shakira-like turn from Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Tatiana Hazel.

“Tatiana is an artist living in Los Angeles where I recorded the track in 2019,” La Femme’s Marlon Magnée says of their collaboration. ‘Y Tu Te Vas’ is one of the more powerful tracks voice-wise on the album. Tatiana brings the track to another dimension, she really is one of the new artists to follow on the American scene.”

New Video: Danish Pop Artist Kleo Shares Euphoric “Beautiful Life”

Danish singer/songwriter Kleo exploded into the national and European scenes with her debut single “Miss You,” that paired the rapidly rising Danish artist’s achingly tender and vulnerable vocal delivery is paired with a sparse and dreamy soundscape of strummed guitar, twinkling keys, atmospheric synths and persistent, uptempo beats. Rooted in seemingly lived-in experience , “Miss You” features a narrator, who is haunted by longing and their memories of a relationship that they’ll never get back. But it’s core, the song has a bigger message, encouraging the listener to see that all of our experiences help us grow as people, and perhaps most important, there’s almost always a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Beautiful Life,” the Danish artist’s second and latest single is a defiantly upbeat, slickly produced pop anthem centered around glistening synth arpeggios, Kleo’s earnest pop belter delivery and earnest lyricism paired with a penchant for rousingly anthemic, enormous hooks. The song sees Kleo reinterpreting the motto carpe diem through her own lens with the song encouraging the listener to embrace life and to fully immerse themselves in the euphoric feeling of falling — and being — in love. The song is also a reminder that the world can still be beautiful, and that love has a unique power for good.

“For me, it’s about being open and holding on to the feeling of happiness I feel in the present moment,” Kleo explains. “For example, the feeling I get when I meditate, or when I’m completely head over heels in love with someone. I woke up one morning and thought: This is the canvas – it’s the backdrop for life itself. And not days of clouds and hurricanes. If I can wake up in the morning and feel bliss, then it must be reality itself.”

Directed by Stine Emil Thorbøll, the accompanying black and white visual for “Beautiful Life” is shot is inspired by 90s pop culture and is shot in a gorgeously cinematic black and white. We see the Danish pop star dancing blissfully with actor Ask Berntsen. And for the pair of star-crossed lovers, time and the entire world itself just seems to melt away.
 

Lyric Video: Chicago’s Smut Shares Heartbreaking “Let Me Hate”

Chicago-based indie outfit Smut — Tay Roebuck (vocals), Andrew Min (guitar), Bell Cenower (bass, synth), Sam Ruschman (guitar, synth) and Aidan O’Connor (drums) — will be releasing their new album How the Light Felt on November 11 through Bayonet Records.

While 2020’s Power Fantasy EP saw Smut dipping its toe into more experimental waters, How the Light Felt reportedly sees the band diving head-first into their vast array of 80s and 90s influences, including OasisCocteau TwinsGorillaz, and Massive Attack — while pushing their sound in a new direction. 

How the Light Felt‘s material can be traced back to 2017: Following her sister’s death, Tay Roebuck turned to writing to help her navigate a labyrinth of grief and heartache. “This album is very much about the death of my little sister, who committed suicide a few weeks before her high school graduation in 2017,” Roebuck explains in press notes. ” “It was a moment in which my life was destroyed permanently, and it’s something you cannot prepare for.” 

Roebuck’s bandmates composed the song’s arrangements, excavating underutilized 90s guitar tones and drum beats to build an expansive sonic world for her lyrics. “A couple weeks after the funeral we played a show and I couldn’t keep it together,” Roebuck says, “but we just kept playing and started writing because it was truly all I felt I had, it was all I could do to feel any sense of purpose. For the past five years now I’ve been chipping my way through grief and loss and I think the album itself is just the story of a person working through living with a new weight on top of it all.”

While rooted in profound heartbreak and loss, the album’s material pairs nostalgic inducing guitar tones, lush yet unfussy production, lived-in lyricism, and earnest vocals in a way that turns pain into a bittersweet yet necessary catharsis. Certainly, if you’ve lost a loved one, the album will likely resonate with you on a deeper level than most. 

Earlier this month, I wrote about “After Silver Leaves,” an infectious 120 Minutes era MTV alt rock-inspired anthem centered around reverb-drenched guitar jangle, driving rhythms paired with Roebuck’s gorgeous and expressive vocals, an enormous, sing-a-long worthy hook and a scorching guitar solo. While sonically recalling Reading, Writing and Arithmetic-era The Sundays, “After Silver Leaves” is rooted in deeply personal, embittering experience. 

“This song is about a former relationship I was in, it was really horribly abusive. But the approach to this one was to just spell it all out and see how silly it feels once shit really hits the fan,” Roebuck says. “The song sounds so happy, but I’m talking about driving someone to a hospital when they’ve overdosed. And having to detach myself and realize that maybe it’s not my job as a teenage girl to save some sad sack of a guy. I think a lot of young women will relate to that, unfortunately.”

How the Light Felt‘s latest single “Let Me Hate” continues the 120 Minutes MTV-era vibe with Roebuck’s gorgeous and plaintive vocal paired with glistening, reverb drenched guitars, a gently propulsive rhythm section and a soaring chorus. But unlike its immediate predecessor, “Let Me Hate” directly addresses the aftermath of a tragic death with an unvarnished honesty. And as a result, the song is equally frustrated, grief-stricken, confused, angry, lost and embittered — within a turn of a phrase.

“For years after my sister’s death I could not dream about her. I’d hear my family members talk about her visiting them in dreams and telling them she’s okay or misses them, there was a lot of mysticism going on the first few years,” Smut’s Tay Roebuck explains. “When I did start having dreams she was always out of reach, walking into another room as I entered or people would be assuring me she was present somewhere if I could find her. ‘Let Me Hate’ is about the first time I had a dream where my little sister spoke to me after she died. I knew if I let her go she’d slip away and when I woke up I was angry at myself. So it’s a very literal song.”

Created by the band’s Aidan O’Connor, the accompanying lyric video features photos from the band’s summer North American tour with indie darlings Wavves.

New Video: Ghost Funk Orchestra Shares Spectral “Why”

Founded and led by multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and producer Seth Applebuam, rising New York-based psych rock/psych soul outfit Ghost Funk Orchestra initially began as a lo-fi, solo recording project back in 2014 with a unique sound featuring tape-saturated drums, spring reverb, surf rock guitar, Latin-styled percussion, odd time signatures and Spanish language female vocals. Since then, the project has become a full-fledged band with as many as 10 members — while crafting a unique sound that draws from even more eclectic and diverse sources, including salsa, Afrobeat, classic soul, film soundtracks and more. 

Ghost Funk Orchestra’s full-length debut, 2019’s A Song for Paul was conceived as a tribute to Applebaum’s late grandfather Paul Anish, who played an immense role in his life. Although the album’s songs don’t address Paul Anish directly, the album’s creative direction specifically conveys what Anish’s presence felt like — and was — for Seth, a tough but kind, music obsessed, native New Yorker. For Applebaum, accurately capturing what his grandfather’s essence meant to him forced him to expand the band’s arrangements and sound further than anything he had done to that point, including writing much more comprehensive horn lines and working with a string section. 

Their sophomore album, 2020’s An Ode to Escapism saw the band further expanding upon the sound developed on A Song for Paul with the album’s material featuring much more intricate arrangements, unusual time signatures, rapid tempo and time signature changes within songs, heavier drums and vocal harmonies that soar over the entire affair. Specifically written as an invitation to the listener to close their eyes while listening and delve deep into their own subconscious, if they weren’t too afraid to do so, the album thematically touched upon isolation, fear of the unknown and the fabrication of the self-image. 

Written during pandemic-related lockdowns, Ghost Funk Orchestra’s third album  A New Kind of Love reportedly feels like the soundtrack from an imaginary movie — with the album’s songs easily being part of the score of a romantic drama, an action thriller or a modern twist on film noir: Spare, cascading vocals accentuate the lush instrumental arrangements composed, arranged, performed and produced by Applebaum. Sonically, the album’s material draws from mid-20th Century exotica, 60s and 70s orchestral pop, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Antibalas among others, as well as his experiences as a young filmmaker. Sonically speaking, the end result is an album that encompasses a loving reverence for the past without attempting to recreate it. 

The 12 song album sees Applebaum exploring the complicated, confusing and conflicting realm of love, with the album’s songs capturing the emotional notes of love going well and love gone sour, as though manifesting love songs based in ghostly affairs. 

Earlier this month, I wrote about A New Kind of Love‘s first single “Scatter,” a cinematic affair that pairs Romi Hanoch’s sultry and ethereal delivery with an expansive, lush and downright trippy arrangement that’s one-part film-noir-like spy movie, one-part classic rom-com, one-part Blaxploitation — with a wild late-period John Coltrane-like saxophone freak out of a solo. But if you pay close attention, the song captures a narrator reeling from a love gone disastrous wrong but with the knowing self-assuredness and confidence that she deserves — and will get much better soon enough.

A New Kind of Love‘s second and latest single “Why” is a spectral and slow-burning bit of psych soul with Latin-influenced percussion paired with powerhouse vocals. The song manages to capture curiosity, obsession and desire with an uncanny psychological realism.

The accompanying video for “Why” was shot on Kodak film –and manages to seem inspired by nouveau vague yet surrealistic.

New Video: Blue Canopy Teams Up with Misty Boyce and Patrick J. Smith on Slow-Burning “Stranger At The Door”

Portland, OR-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alex Schiff started his music career as a co-writer for indie outfit Modern Rivals — and with Modern Rivals, Schiff has shared stages with the likes of Ra Ra Riot, Stars, and The Black Keys.

Since his time with Modern Rivals, Schiff has stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with his recording project Blue Canopy, which sees the Portland-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist combining versatile songwriting chops and exuberant melodies to convey nostalgia as a force to move forward. Sonically, Blue Canopy sees Schiff weaving dream pop, psych rock-inspired guitars and expansive electronic soundscapes. The end result is work that’s introspective at a time when self-reflection seems more crucial than ever.

So far, Schiff has released two Blue Canopy EPs 2020’s Mild Anxiety and last yer’s Sleep While You Can, which featured additional instrumentation and co-production from A Beacon School‘s Patrick J. Smith.

Schiff’s latest Blue Canopy single, the slow-burning and meditative “Stranger At The Door” features vocals from Misty Boyce, who has worked with Sara Bareilles and BØRNS and guitar from A Beacon School’s Patrick J. Smith. Featuring glistening synths arpeggios, skittering beats, a sinuous bass line paired with Boyce’s gorgeous vocals, “Stranger At The Door” sounds like a synthesis of Currents-era Tame Impala and Quiet Storm soul while centered around earnest, seemingly lived-in lyricism.

Interestingly, “Stranger At The Door” examines social anxieties in the COVID era, but written from the perspective of his dog Banjo, who has become increasingly anxious and paranoid over the past few months, as the world returns to a certain version o of normalcy.

‘”Stranger At The Door’ is a song from my dog Banjo’s perspective. He’s been super anxious and paranoid since we moved to a new house. He’s especially worried that there is someone or something dangerous at the front door. Some of it, and the inspiration is from his perspective. I relate it later in the song to my own social anxieties that have escalated since COVID. I often don’t feel comfortable in my own skin, or without a mask, or around people in general.”

Directed by Alex Beebee, the accompanying video for “Stranger At The Door” is a surrealistic fever dream featuring a mix of animation, grainy super 8-like live footage rooted in nostalgia.

New Audio: Lee Paradise Teams Up with New Chance’s Victoria Cheong on a Woozy Banger

Although best known for being one-half of Toronto-based indie electro pop duo Phédre, Dan Lee is also a solo artist in his own right, under the moniker Lee Paradise. And with the release of his Lee Paradise debut, 2020’s The Fink, Lee quickly established a sound that’s typically widescreen and is indebted to polyrhythmic psychedelia.

Lee’s sophomore Lee Paradise album Lee Paradise & Co. is slated for an October 28, 2022 release through Telephone Explosion Records. The album’s material started off as a set of mood-focused instrumental sketches. But the sketches became fleshed out songs after he sent the tracks to a an eclectic array of collaborators including Jane Inc.‘s Carlyn Bezic, Scott Hardware’s, No Frills‘ and Ducks Ltd.‘s Jonathan Pappo, Scott Hardware, Isla Craig, New Chance‘s Victoria Cheong, Jay Anderson, Mother Tongues‘ Charise Aragoza and Lukas Cheung and Moon King‘s Daniel Woodhead. The end result is an album in which every aspect of its creation eventually became open to collaboration, from musical performances, lyric writing and vocals all the way through to mixing and mastering, all while featuring material that defies genre and style conventions with a soulful panache.

“Not Practical,” Lee Paradise & Co.‘s latest single is a woozy yet accessible synth pop-leaning banger centered around copious amounts of DFA Records/LCD Soundsystem-like cowbell, layers of glistening and whirring synths and skittering beats paired with Victoria Cheong’s beguiling vocal. While being remarkably dance floor friendly, “Not Practical” evokes the swooning and wildly illogical of love.

New Video: Alewya Returns with a Woozy Banger

Alewya is an acclaimed London-based singer/songwriter, producer and visual artist. Born in Saudi Arabia to an Egyptian-Sudanese father and an Ethiopian mother, Alewya has spent her life surrounded and nurtured by diaspora immigrant communities: she grew up in West London and after spending several years in New York, she returned to London. Upon returning home, the rising Saudi-British artist developed and honed her ear for music through the sounds of the Ethiopian and Arabic music of her parents and the ambient alternative rock albums of her brother. 

The Saudi-born, Egyptian-Sudanese-Ethiopian, London-based artist’s name translates from Arabic to English into “most high” or “the highest,” and interestingly enough, her work thematically concerns itself with transcendence. She sees her music as an accessible space for her and her listeners to connect on a deeply spiritual level — with her work challenging the listener to remember the last time that they felt truly connected to themselves and their emotions. “I want to move people to themselves. I want them to feel the same way that I felt when I had a taste of a higher power and felt there was a presence over me,” Alewya says. “I want people to feel that.”

Back in 2020, Alewya burst out into the scene with an attention-grabbing feature on Little Simz‘s “where’s my lighter,” which caught the attention of Because Records, who signed the rising artist and released her critically applauded debut, last year’s Panther In Mode, which featured:

 The Busy Twist-produced debut single “Sweating,” a forward-thinking Timbaland-like mesh of trap, reggae and electro pop.

“Spirit_X,” which paired elements of Timbaland, trap and drum ‘n’ bass paired with the rising British artist alternating between spitting fiery bars and sultry crooning.

The sultry and defiantly feminist anthem “Play.” 

“Channel High” a slick synthesis of grime, contemporary R&B, dancehall, electro pop and Afrobeats that’s roomy enough for the rising British artist to pull out an incredibly self-assured, Lauryn Hill-like performance. Much like its predecessors, “Channel High” is politically charged, calling for music to bring about a much-needed paradigm shift. 

The JOVM mainstay’s latest single “Let Go,” is the first bit of new material since last year’s Panther in Mode EP. Centered around skittering beats and wobbling synths paired with Alewya’s raspy delivery. But where the material on Panther in Mode saw the artist at her most poised and controlled, “Let Go” feels feral and uneasy while self-assured.

“I’m freeing myself up, getting more confident in how lost I feel,” Alewya says. “With Panther In Mode, I was coming from a more poised space. The next phase is more wild. I won’t hold back anymore.”

Directed by Rawtape x Lee Trigg, the accompanying video for “Let Go” stars the rising artist and JOVM mainstay frenetically dancing in a variety of rooms and situations, including what appears to be a mental health institution. The video also features original hieroglyphic-style artwork by Alewya.