Nicola Ormiston is a Montréal-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and creative mastermind behind the solo recording project Ormiston.
The Canadian producer’s latest single “Cherry Picker” sees crafting a breezy, hook driven pop confection built around a disco-inspired bass line, reverb-soaked Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, glistening and wobbling synth arpeggios and the Canadian artist’s plaintive and yearning delivery. “Cherry Picker” continues a remarkably run of breezy, effortlessly crafted pop that’s both lounge and club friendly.
Inspired by an old acquaintance that always left the Montréal-based artist starry-eyed, the song manages to evoke the swooning, starry-eyed sensation of being near a crush/love interest — and not quite knowing what to do or how to go about it.
Ali Sethi is a Pakistani-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and author, who is best known globally for his attempts to revive ghazal, an ancient poetic form that was taken by Sufi mystics from the Arab world to Persia and throughout the Indian subcontinent, where it captivated the royal court. Over the last few decades, ghazal has been unfashionable and viewed as a heavily mannered style associated with decadence and misfits and madman who speak in puns about the charms of forbidden love.
Sethi has given the ancient poetic form a new lease of life through playfully revisionist covers and renditions, which draw from his years of training in raga music, and his own journey as an out-of-place queer kid back in Pakistan, who relocated to New York. His most popular single “Passori,” was one of the most Googled songs of last year, with hundreds of millions globally tuning into its timeless message of forbidden love.
Nicolás Jaar is a Chliean-born, New York-based musician, electronic music artist and producer. Throughout his career, improvisation has been the core of his work. Before he started writing and recording electronic music, Jaar jammed on accordion with friends on the streets here in NYC.
Sethi has long been a fan of Jaar’s music, long before they began collaborating together. He’d absorbed the sounds over a number of years, listening casually and taking in their subtleties in bars and rooftop parties across Lahore and London. “It felt familiar to me, that sense of adventure you have when you hear his music, like a tale that teases you and plays with your expectations as it unfolds,” says Sethi. “In that sense it resembled the leisurely improvised ghazals and qawwalis I grew up hearing in Pakistan.”
When the pair were introduced by Indian visual artists and frequent Jaar collaborator Somnath Bhatt, Sethi was prepared. He had began to sketch out voice notes using loops snipped from Jar’s acclaimed 2020 album Telas, improvising vocalizations and seductive Urdu poems of the Chilean’s ethereal, time-bending productions. Jaar was amazed by the result. “It was what ‘Telas’ had been missing,” he explains.
The result of the vocal sketches is the acclaimed duo’s collaborative album together Intiha, a Ghazal-driven re-working of Jaar’s 2020 album, Telas. Slated for a November 17, 2023 release through Other People, Initha draws from Sethi’s life — and it gives the album’s material a gently subversive edge paired with the addition of new, improvised elements, prompting a playful back-and-forth echoed throughout the record.
Genre is constantly evoked but in gesture. But overall, the music transcends formula, using cultural reverberations and distinct repetitions that lull listeners into a placeless trance. It’s “a sound that I hope can operate on multiple levels,” says Jaar, a borderless, playfully ambiguous set of improvisations that sing confidently of love, loss and belonging.”
The album’s first single “Muddat” is built around a soulful and mischievously anachronistic production featuring skittering castanet-like percussion, glistening organ arpeggios that veers briefly into club rocking techno. The production serves as lush, silky bed for Sethi’s plaintive and yearning delivery, crying for out desperately for union with his beloved.
The song takes the opening lines of a canonical ghazal written as the British were decimating India’s precolonial traditions and the elaborate rituals and ettiequte of its courtesans and noblemen. But at its core, the pair evoke the loss of a cherished — and mythical — milieu, that as a native New Yorker feels deeply familiar. Ultimately, the result is a song that’s simultaneously ancient and modern, while evoking an old and very human longing.
Following a North American tour that included sold-out shows in NYC, Los Angeles and Toronto, Sethi will be embarking on a run of world-wide dates to close out the year and start 2024. You can check out those dates below. More dates will be announced in the upcoming weeks. But you can grab tickets here.
Ali Sethi on tour
10/8 – Austin City Limits – Austin, TX
10/9 – House of Blues – Dallas, TX
1010 – House of Blues – Houston, TX
10/12 – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA
11/11 – Dubai Opera House – Dubai, UAE
11/14 – Saint Luke’s – Glasgow, UK
11/17 – Gorilla – Manchester, UK
11/18 – O2 Institute – Birmingham, UK
11/19 – 02 Shepherds Bush Empire – London, UK
2/24 – District of Raga Washington, DC – Vienna, VA
Acclaimed Los Angeles-based rock duo Deap Vally — Julie Edwards (drums, vocals) and Lindsey Troy (guitar, vocals) — can trace their origins to the duo’s chance meeting in a knitting class over a decade ago. The Los Angeles-based duo’s debut single, 2012’s “Gonna Make My Own Money,” was released through tiny British indie label Ark Recordings.
Although the band has been received critical applause and won fans across the globe, maneuvering the contemporary music industry has become increasingly difficult. And if you add the challenges of the pandemic and raising families, the duo increasingly found themselves struggling to fit into the recording, promotion and touring cycle. “That model isn’t compatible with our current lives,” Lindsey Troy says. “We found we just can’t function as a traditional band anymore,” Julie Edwards adds. “It’s time for both of us to explore motherhood and other avenues of our lives properly, rather than squeezing them into our artist’s hustle.”
“I’m so proud of all our records, and Julie and I have an uncanny creative relationship,” Troy says. “It’s hard to ever picture having that with someone else. After all that, ya never know what could happen! We need to find the balance where we can focus on the fun stuff, but have the freedom to make the music we love. We just felt it would be fitting to go out with a bang, not a whimper. I felt marking this occasion should be a cathartic process: healing deep wounds, reconnecting with old friends and collaborators – and falling in love with Deap Vally all over again.”
So while Deap Vally is calling an end to their decade-plus long run together, they’ve decided to go out with a bang — and not with a whimper. They’re releasing a re-recorded version of their full-length debut, SISTRONIX 2.0, which is slated for a Spring 2024 release through their own Deap Vally Records. Pre-order vinyl, exclusive bundles and the digital LP here.
They’ll be supporting SISTRONIX 2.0 with a final tour, which will see them celebrating SISTRONIX‘s 10th anniversary by playing SISTRONIX in its entirety. The tour begins with West Coast dates during November. And a Midwest and East Coast run in early 2024. The east coast run includes a February 17, 2024 stop at Le Poisson Rouge.
Ticket pre-sales begin on Thursday. General on-sale tickets will begin on Friday 10:00am local time. You can get more information here. L.A. Witch, JOVM mainstays Death Valley Girls, Sloppy Jane, and Spoon Benders will be opening for the band in select markets. Of course, more shows will be announced in the coming weeks and months. So be on the lookout.
But in the meantime, the duo have shared SISTRONIX 2.0‘s first single “Baby I Call Hell (Deap Vally’s Version).” Built around buzzing power chords, thunderous drumming and soulful vocals, “Baby I Call Hell (Deap Vally’s Version)” is a swaggering and towering ripper that captures the quintessential Deap Vally sound and energy but within a completely different and new context: The duo is a bit older and wiser. Kids are around — and that forces you to rethink everything about your life and career. But they do so lovingly and wistfully with a sense of admiration and awe as though the pair is saying to each other: “Holy shit! We did actually did THAT!”
“‘Baby I Call Hell’ is quintessential Deap Vally,” Lindsey Troy says. “It was the first song we ever wrote as a band, so it’s very meaningful to our story. Re-recording that song was a lot of fun, but also a lot of pressure because we wanted to make sure the recording captured the magic of the song again.”
“SISTRIONIX is just classic Deap Vally. It’s so pure and raw,” Troy continues. “It really encapsulates an era — an era of dank, yeasty backstage rooms across the UK, of the endorphin rush of that first wave of success, of youthful drunken, wild nights, of the worldly adventures and the newness of it all.”
“We’re just going to go to play as many places as we can and say farewell to everyone,” Julie Edwards says. “Though the band is playing live for the last time, the door is open to us to collaborate. Now we’re all about re-establishing a workflow and connection around our friendship, after all we’ve shared together along the way.”
11.10 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah * 11.11 – Santa Ana, CA @ Observatory ^ * 11.15 – San Francisco, CA @ August Hall ^ 11.17 – Portland, OR @ Star Theater ^ ~ 11.18 – Vancouver, BC @ Wise Hall ^ 11.19 – Seattle, WA @ Neptune Theatre ^ ~ 02.08 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West # 02.09 – Nashville, TN @ Basement East # 02.10 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall # 02.11 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club # 02.13 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom # 02.14 – Washington, D.C. @ Black Cat # 02.16 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts # 02.17 – New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge # 02.18 – Boston, MA @ Crystal Ballroom # 03.09 – Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram * 03.15 Las Vegas, NV @ Backstage Bar + Billiards * 03.16 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge * 03.17 – Denver, CO @ Marquis * 03.18 – Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf * 03.20 Austin, TX @ Mohawk * 04.18 Mexico City, MX @ Foro Indie Rocks!
support from ^ L.A. Witch * Death Valley Girls # Sloppy Jane ~ Spoon Benders
Back in 2014, the Andover-based musician and composer released The Green Flash, a four song EP of four original compositions of Brazilian jazz. All four songs received nominations for the 2015 American Songwriting Awards with “SambaDan” winning for Best Instrumental. Finbury followed The Green Flash EP with 2015’s 11-song Brazilian jazz effort Imaginário featuring vocalist Marcella Camargo and some of Boston’s best players, including Fernando Huergo, Mark Walker, Tim Ray, Claudio Ragazzi, Roberto Cassan and Ricardo Monzon. Finbury surprised the Latin music world when Imaginário track “A Chama Verde” received a Latin Grammy nomination for Song of the Year.
2017’s Pitanga was released to critical acclaim. Adding to a rapidly growing profile in the Latin music scene, Finbury’s third album, the Emilio D. Miler-produced Sorte!, which saw him collaborating with vocalist Thalma de Freitas and an All-Star band featuring Vitor Gonçalves, Chico Pinheiro, Duduka de Fonseca, John Patitucci, Rogerio Boccato and Airto Moreira received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Latin Jazz album.
2020 saw the release of two albums of originals: American Nocturnes: Final Days of July featured intimate chamber jazz compositions featuring arrangements for piano, cello, guitar, accordion and harmonica — and Quatro, a Latin jazz album featuring Lagos Herrera, Chano Domínguez, John Pattiucci and Antonio Sánchez.
During the pandemic, the Andover-based musician and composer collaborated with French jazz vocalist Camille Bertault. They recorded and released “Look at What a Mess You Made of Me,” which featured Christian McBride (bass) and “Boulevard,” which featured Larry Gouldings (organ) and Billy Martin (drums).
In 2021, following the death of the legendary Chick Correa, Finbury and de Freitas wrote and recorded “Ring The Bells” as a tribute to the man and his heavily influential work.
Las year, Finbury wrote and released three original Brazilian jazz compositions recorded in São Paulo by Mestrinho (accordion), Michael Pipoquinho (bass), Cainã Cavalcante (guitar), Celso de Almeida (drums) and Leo Rodrigues (percussion).
This year looks to be very busy year for Finbury: He continued an ongoing collaboration with Magos Herrera and recorded and released three original compositions of Chamber Jazz. The Andover-based musician and composer also continued his successful collaboration with Miler, who introduced him to rising São Paulo-based singer/songwriter Bruna Black.
Black wound up contributing vocals to Finbury’s forthcoming album — and wrote the lyrics to two of them, including the album’s latest single “Chão De Nuvem.” Featuring a soulful yet breezy arrangement of fluttering accordion, a supple bass line, shuffling percussion to create a song that effortlessly and gorgeously meshes elements of samba, jazz fusion and pop that serves as a perfect vehicle for Black’s languorous and soulful delivery.
The song describes the São Paulo-based artist describing her journey in music starting with her breakthrough appearance on Brazil’s The Voice, and her rapid rise to fame with AVUA — and her collaboration with Finbury and his All-Star cast of musicians that brought her to New York.
BluFlame is an emerging emcee, who was born in Bartow, FL, a town located between Tampa and Orlando and just south of Lakeland. While the town is named after Francis S. Barrow, the first brigade commander of the Confederate Army to die in combat during the Civil War, it’s best known as the birthplace of Hall of Fame linebacker and two-time Super Bowl Champ, Ray Lewis.
The Bartow-born emcee, grew up in Winter Haven‘s Abby Lane neighborhood, one of the region’s toughest neighborhoods. “Back then, Abby Lane was the streets,” he says. My cousin and I witnessed out first murder. A lady got her head blown off by her husband. I remember me and my cousin running, until the asthma kicked in. We seen the police everyday, if not every night. It was crazy fights everyday. Throw ‘em up, bust ‘em up…is what we called it. But it was a grind all day, every day.” Unsurprisingly, the environment forced the young, emerging emcee to mature much younger than most while fostering a desire to protect and provide for his family as best as he could. “I had to help take off my lil brother and sisters when I was 7. So I hustled and sold candy…anything to keep the family alive,” he says.
His latest single “Outta Sight” pairs a hyper contemporary trap production — featuring skittering, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, eerily twinkling synths serving as a sleek vehicle for the emerging emcee’s remarkably self-assured and swaggering delivery full of some hilarious punchlines rooted in pop culture references. The single reveals an emcee and producer with an uncanny knack for a catchy hook.
Deriving their name as an amalgamation of its members’ last names, Wajatta (pronounced wa-HA-ta) is an electronic music duo that features acclaimed comedian/musician Reggie Watts and electronic music artist, producer and DJ John Tejada.
Watts first burst into the scene as the co-host of IFC’s groundbreaking variety series Comedy Bang! Bang! As a solo performer, he has honed a unique style that blurs the lines between music and comedy that’s heavily reliant on improvisation — most notably, the multi-layered music tracks built on the fly with looped beatboxed rhythms and soulful vocals. The acclaimed comedian and musician has done a TED Talk, multiple comedy specials for both Comedy Central and Netflix, and recorded Reggie Watts Live at Third Man Records at the invitation of Jack White.
Famously, Watts was the bandleader for CBS’s The Late Late Show With James Corden.
Tejada also is one-half of electronic duo Optometry with March Adstrum. The pair released their debut EP After-Image earlier this year.
With the release of 2018’s Casual High Technology and 2020’s Don’t Let Get You Down, which was released through Flying Lotus‘ Briainfeeder, the duo established a sound that they describe broadly as “electronic dance music with its roots in Detroit techno, Chicago house, ’70s funk and New York hip-hop.”
2021’s Do You Even Care Anymore EP encompassed an evolution of the duo’s sound and approach. “It has developed into something a bit deeper,” Tejada said in press notes. ““While our process and Reggie’s vocal improvisation work is still the same when we record, there’s just something new that we settled into this time. The music and the lyrics got a bit deeper.”
The duo’s newest EP Waiting ForThe Get Down is slated for Thursday release through their longtime label home Brainfeeder. The EP’s latest single “Again And Again” feat. March Adstrum is a sultry and euphoric house-inspired banger built around a pulsating and punchy 4/4 beat, glistening and arpeggiated synths and Watts’ soulful delivery inviting the listener to a much-needed good time, to celebrate existence, get lost in a hypnotic groove and dance.
“‘Again And Again’ came out of me bringing a sketch of it to one of our live shows and just playing it in the set to see how Reggie would respond,” Tejada explains. “This is a fairly normal way of starting tracks, just to be in the moment and to try something that Reggie has never heard before. That moment created a great vibe and was perhaps the highlight of the whole show, so we quickly got it recorded and dialed in the rest.”
Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about Luke Temple, a singer/songwriter, visual artist, producer best known as being the creative mastermind behind the genre-defying recording project Art Feynman. Up until recently, Art Feynman has been strictly a solo thing, a way for Temple to explore surprising sonic landscapes without the burdens of identity.
His forthcoming Art Feynman album Be Good The Crazy Boys changes that quite a bit: Recorded live in-studio with a full band, the album reportedly captures a spirit of restless anxiety while recalling Talking Heads, Oingo Bongo and others. “Sonically, I was inspired by records that were recorded at the late Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas such as Grace Jones‘ Private Life, Lizzy Mercier Descloux‘s Mambo Nassau, and Talking Heads‘ Remain in Light.” And yet, despite those references, the album is firmly rooted in contemporary concerns: The material features songs about fearing the end of the world and struggling with FOMO. Normally, these would be relatable subjects — that is if it didn’t quite seem unhinged.
Throughout his career, Temple has long specialized in a sound that draws from and meshes slightly twisted tasks on Komische musik, worldbeat and art pop. But with the new album, slated for a November 10, 2023 release through Western Vinyl, Temple delicately balances dark thematic concerns like struggling to maintain balance in a toxic, chaotic and mad, mad, mad world with dance floor friendly, hypnotic groove.
“To me, there was a lot of energy that needed to be released as the result of living in isolation for six years,” Temple explains. “It also seems to speak to a general anxiety we’re all holding, but it’s expressed in a cathartic way.”
So far I’ve written about two of the album’s singles:
“Desperately Free,” a a Fear of Music/Remain in Light-like jam built around twinkling tropicalia-inspired percussion and a hypnotic groove paired with chanted and call and response vocals. “Desperately Free” manages to simultaneously evoke sweaty summer nights on the dance floor and the yearning for something more than our mere existence. “I was thinking about the obsession with spiritual growth or with ‘curing’ death and the compensatory consequences that ensue as a result,” Temple says. “We can’t cheat nature of which we are one and the same, she’ll find balance eventually.”
“Passed Over,” a breezy and kaleidoscopic, tropicalia-meets-80s New Wave-inspired bop that channels Talking Heads, Zazou Bikaye‘s Mr. Manager and others — but with a soulful yacht rock sax solo from Nicole McCabe. Thematically, the song explores struggling with FOMO with the song’s narrator stubbornly and defiantly saying I’m ok to be passed over/ Let them have it/I don’t care. “It can be refreshing to decide to eat last, it’s stressful if you’re always needing to be at the front of the line,” Temple explains.
Be Good The Crazy Boys‘ latest single “Early Signs of Rhythm” continues a remarkable fun of funky tracks that seamlessly mesh krautrock/kosmiche musik, world beat and art pop in a way that will remind folks of Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads and Grace Jones’ “Pull Up To The Bumper” — but with a No Wave-like sax solo and references to Abrades, a figure of both good and evil in Jungian mythology.
Fittingly, the song is a meditation on opposites — both within and without.