Glassio · Make No Mistake

The Queens, NY-based synth pop/New Wave/dream pop act Glassio can trace its origins back to 2015 when its founding members — Sam R. and Charles Pinel  — met while attending NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. Since its formation, the act has become the Queens-born and-based Sam R’s solo recording project. And during that same period of time, Glassio has developed and honed what its creative mastermind has dubbed “melancholy disco,” a mix of dance music influences, wavering pop melodies, introspective, storytelling-based lyrics and lush harmonies. Interestingly, the project has increasingly pulls from Sam R’s own life and heartbreak, while thematically wrestling with self-acceptance, loneliness and major life changes.

Last year, Sam R. and Glassio released their sophomore EP Age of Experience, an effort that Mother Jones called “proof that electronic music and great storytelling are a perfect match.” Interestingly, the EP featured “Back for More,” which amassed over 2 million Spotify streams while being featured on Alan Ball’s HBO show Here & Now Outside of his own work, Sam R. has received attention for remixing and reworking the work of artists like Madge, Argonaut & Wasp, Sulene and Goldwash.

Glassio’s long-awaited full-length debut, the 11 song, For The Very Last Time is slated for a July 23, 2020 release and earlier this year, the Queens-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and remixer has put out a couple of singles, the lullaby-like “A Million Doubts,” which was featured in the latest season of the Freeform TV series Good Trouble; the early 80s inspired “Nobody Stayed For The DJ;” and the contemplative “Are You Having Fun Without Me?”

“Make No Mistake,” For The Very Last Time‘s fourth and latest single continues a run of shimmering and swooning electro pop, centered around twinkling synth arpeggios, thumping beats, soaring hooks, Sam R.’s ethereal vocals and a guest backing spot from New York-based vocalist Daneshevskaya. What makes the song intriguing to me is that it balances achingly wistful nostalgia and a much-needed optimism. In many ways, the song is an anthemic blast of encouragement when coping with and facing circumstances much greater than ourselves  — as we all are right now.

“I was having a hard time getting out of bed towards the end of 2018 and facing everyday life. My anxiety was starting to go through the roof and daily tasks like taking the subway started to become difficult,” the rising Queens based artist explains in press notes. “The seed for the song came from wanting to talk about those feelings and I wanted to write a song that could get me moving. The lyrics and melody of the verse hit me out of the blue at the same time one morning while I was lying in bed and it was just there, already completed. The whole thing just unraveled very naturally and I think more than any other song on the album, it was very much written in the middle of the situation that it was about. Usually some time needs to pass before I write a song about an event, but this one was very much in the moment.”

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humptydumptyrecords · River Into Lake – Grande Prairie

Boris Gronemberger is Brussels-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer, who managed to be rather busy throughout the bulk of his career: he was the founder and frontman of acclaimed Belgian indie act V.O. through their 15 years together — and he has a long-held reputation as a go-to collaborator, working with Girls in Hawaii, Castus, Blondie Brownie and a growing list of others.

Gronemberger’s latest musical project, River into Lake can trace its origins back to 2017 when the Belgian singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger began writing the material, which would eventually comprise River Into Lake’s full-length debut Let The Beast Out sometimes alone, sometimes in collaborative groups, granting himself the complete freedom to reinvent himself and his work. Sonically, Let The Beast Out was bubbling orchestral pop with sharp melodies, complex harmonies featuring  arrangements that meshed synthesizers and organic instrumentation — and it shouldn’t be surprising that the material was indeed to prog rock. Thematically, the material was centered around the difficulty of wanting to continue to believe in the beauty of human nature while generally being an ode to love, life and the complexities of the universe.

Initially written and conceived as a bonus track for Let The Beast Out crowdfunders, the Belgian act’s latest single “Grande Prairie” continues a run of ambitious and expansive material. Centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, drum machines, a propulsive bass line, angular bursts of guitar, explosive live drumming and enormous hooks, the song sonically recalls Sugar Army and others — but with a cinematic sweep. “La Grande Prairie is a place where we were going to celebrate the end of the exams with friends,” Gronemberger explains. “Some of them have meanwhile passed away. It’s a song that talks about carelessness, the strength of youth heckled by the movements of society that seems to crash straight into the wall.” Gronemberger adds “It seemed appropriate to me to release it now in this particular context, which in na certain way, reminds us that it is time to spread out on better bases.”

Coincidentally, the track is the first single off an EP, which is slated for release late this year.

 

 

 

 

New Video: Emerging Producer Kyf Releases a Kinetic Visual for Dance Floor Friendly “Savage”

Kyf is a mysterious yet emerging Cameroonian producer and songwriter. Earlier this month, he released his latest EP, Mood Avion and the EP’s latest single “Savage” is a bold and vibrant track, centered around shimmering synths, wobbling polyrhythmic beats and a shout-along worthy hook. And while possessing a breezy, club friendly sound, the track reveals a decidedly Pan African approach, drawing from wide swaths of the Diaspora: the song meshes elements of dancehall, house music, Afro pop and Timbaland’s futuristic production style in an infectious and ambitious manner. 

Directed by Sara Yemoja, the recently released video features the Cameroonian producer and songwriter and two dancers in a kinetically shot and edited visual, shot in an abandoned, graffiti covered building and in the woods. 

Casablanca Sunset · Inspired & the Sleep — People

With the release of 2014’s Eyelid Kid, the San Diego, CA-based indie electro pop/dream pop act Inspired & The Sleep — singer/songwriter Max Greenhalgh, multi-instrumentalist Bryce Outcault and a revolving cast of collaborators — received attention locally and regionally for crafting decidedly dream pop material.

Singles like “Sweet Company,” and “Getting Through” found the act moving towards a dance floor friendly sound — at points nodding at JOVM mainstays like St. Lucia. Building upon a growing national profile, the San Diego-based act released their self-titled, full-length debut earlier this year. And continuing a busy year for the act, the members of Inspired & the Sleep recently released their latest single, the Delwin Campbell-mixed “People.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, a sinuous groove and an infectious hook, the glittering “People” may arguably be their most dance floor friendly release to date as it manages to bring both Simple Minds and Cut Copy to mind.

 

 

New Audio: MAaJunga Spirit Orchestra’s Uplifting Anthem “Hold On”

Founded by Greg Musso, Jacques Daoud and Bruce Sherfield, MAajunga Spirit Orchestrais a Paris-based collective of like-minded artists, musicians and vocalists, who are deeply influenced by soul and gospel. Last year, the collective received international attention, when their single “Hold On” was featured in Remy Martin’s “Team Up For Excellence Campaign.”

Building upon the growing attention of “Hold On,” the members went into the studio to write and record their debut EP, Hold On.“The reaction to ‘Hold On’ was overwhelming.” producer and founding member Greg Musso says in press notes. “We decided to take this unique opportunity to continue spreading the music that we believe brings people together in spirit – mind, body, and soul.”

Produced by the collective’s Greg Musso and recorded live at Paris’ Midilive Studios (formerly known as Vogue Studios), known for seminal recordings by French artists like Françoise Hardy, Jacques Dutronc and Johnny Hallyday, the EP will further establish and expand upon the sound that won them international attention. Of course, the EP will feature, the attention grabbing, EP title track “Hold On,” a much needed bit of uplift and resolve centered around a gospel chorus, soulful led vocals and soaring keys. Sonically and thematically, the song manages to mesh the swaggering and hip-hop influenced gospel of Kirk Franklin with the soulful spirituals of Mavis Staples. Certainly, in these difficult and unusual times, the song’s positive message should resonate with all of us: we’re all gonna have to hold on — to hope, to each other, to each single day — until this passes. 

Tennin · The What – The Notorious B.IG, Method Man [Tennin Remix]

With the release of a handful of singles that received attention from InRocksLab, Radio Nova, Earmilk and Afropunk, the rising Paris-based alternative pop artist Tennin quickly exploded into the international pop scene in 2015. The Paris-based artist ended a momentum building year by performing at La Cigale, as part of a showcase featuring rising female Parisian artists.

The following year, Tennin built upon her growing profile through tours across France, Germany and the UK. Adding to a relatively young career of big career highlights, the French pop artist’s single “Heal You,” catches the attention of acclaimed, trip hop pioneer Tricky, who signed her to !K7 Records. She then contributes a track to the Test of Time compilation, which featured tracks from Saul Williams, IDLES and others.

Additionally, last year saw her becoming a finalist of the Afropunk springboard but she also opened for the likes of Dope Saint Jude and Muthoni Drummer Queen at Les Cuizines — and she played the final show at Les Etoiles. She ended the year with a live interview and session for Radio Campus Brussels.

Earlier this year, the rising French pop artist signed to renowned Parisian electronic label Kitsune Music, who released her first single of this year “Guys in Tears.” Interestingly, Tennin posted a cover/remix of The Notorious B.I.G.‘s “The What,” feat. Method Man on Instagram that received such positive reactions that she decided to record and release a full-version. While retaining the original’s memorable beat, the addition of Tennin’s vocals adds sultry, Aaliyah-like air to the proceedings. Naturally, while being a shoutout to Golden Era, East Coast hip-hop, the song is also a vital reminder that hip-hop is the lingua franca of kids across the globe.

 

Tik Records · TIK56: Mia Berg – don’t know (what to do)

With the release of her debut EP, last year’s Intro, which featured “You Decided,” “Grow” and “Hurry,” the 24 year-old, Oslo-based pop artist Mia Berg quickly exploded into the international pop scene, receiving praise form the likes of Clash Magazine, God Is In The TV, WithGuitars and others.

Tik Records · TIK48: Mia Berg – You Decided

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Berg’s latest single, the Henrik Lillehaug-produced “don’t know what to do” is an atmospheric pop song, centered around twinkling keys, shimmering synths, shuffling and thumping beats, an infectious radio friendly hook and Berg’s sultry vocals. And yet, while possessing a radio friendly accessibility, the song is actually a solemn track that captures the aching regret of someone begging a lover (or a love interest) for forgiveness for their transgressions — and the uncertainty of if that lover will actually forgive you or not.

The new track will appear on her sophomore EP which is slated for release later this year.

Lyric Video: Beat Hotel Returns with a Swooning and Heartfelt Power Pop Anthem

Split between Brighton, UK and Plymouth, UK,  Beat Hotel, which features current and former members of The June Brides, The Loft, The Weather Prophets, Distractions, Mudlow, Mojo Fins and Lolita Storm can trace its origins to when its founding members — The June Brides’, The Distractions’ and The Granite Shore‘s Arash Torabi and Paul Pascoe met after a 1988 The Jasmine Minks show.  (Interestingly, many years later, the first Beat Hotel single featured a guest vocal spot from The Jasmine Minks’ frontman Jim Shepherd.)

Developing a strong live presence in their local scene, the act managed to record a number of demos,  but they didn’t officially release anything until 2013 — the “Best of Our Years”/”The Fire,” double A-side 7 inch, which featured The Loft’s and The Weather Prophets’ Dave Morgan (drums), who then became a permanent member of the band.

Released earlier this year through Occultation Records, the band’s long-awaited self-titled EP was recorded at Hove, UK-based Church Road Studios by the band’s Paul Pascoe and features five originals written by Pascoe and a cover of The Wishing Stones‘ “Beat Girl.” The EP also features guest spots from The June Brides’ Frank Sweeney, who contributes strings and piano and former Mojo Fins member Stephen Brett (guitar), who releases material as a solo artist under the moniker SJ Brett. “Every now and again, we produce something that’s very special to us. These forays into the physical world are usually inspired by a collaboration,” Beat Hotel’s Paul Pascoe says in press notes about the band’s self-titled EP. “This time it was driven by an unexpected creative surge due to the sudden and shocking end of a relationship. I felt like I had to relearn everything about how to be in the world and look seriously at who I actually am. I found comfort in the music that had given me a sense of belonging the first time around. The Jesus & Mary Chain, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Weather Prophets .  .  .these songs and songwriters, so familiar to my psyche, were there again to drag me to safety.”

“This collection of songs is about love and near-death and confronting the very worst aspects of ourselves, facing down those inner demons, the fears that haunt us and our deepest, darkest secrets,” Pascoe says of the EP’s material. “And… with one of the tracks beginning its recording journey in 1997 and getting its final guitar overdub and mix in 2019 (in all its 3 minutes 14 seconds of rock’n’roll glory), this record is also a tribute to the awesome power of getting shit done.”

Earlier this year,  wrote about “Bury It Deep,” an upbeat, hook-driven song that brings Starfish-era The Church, early-to-mid 80s Echo and the Bunnymen (i.e, Crocodiles, Heaven Up Here and Ocean Rain) and The Dream Syndicate to mind — and while possessing an uncanny period specificity, the song is more than a homage to a classic and beloved sound: at its core, the song is centered around a narrator desperately trying to maneuver a confusing and uncertain world, as well as their own demons. The EP’s latest single “Feel It” continues a run of hook-driven, 80s inspired material — but in this case, the track is a jangling power pop anthem that brings The Smithereens, The Sighs, and others to mind. But interestingly, the song is a heartfelt love song that evokes the swooning urgency of newfound love in a way that should remind you of your first love.