Raffa Weyman is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-born and-based singer/songwriter, and with her solo recording project RALPH, Weyman quickly emerged into the national and international pop scene with the 2015 release of her debut single “Trouble,” which […]
Comprised of founding and primary duo Ann Courtney and Lizzie Carena, along with Chris Foley and Gunnar Olsen, the New York-based rock act Mother Feather formed back in 2010 and since their formation they’ve developed a reputation for swaggering and epic songs that some have said invoke Marc Bolan, David Bowie and To Bring To You My Love-era PJ Harvey. And while that can debated, the band’s sophomore album Constellation Baby is slated for a November 11, 2018 release through Metal Blade Records/Blacklight Media, and the album’s second and latest single “Snakebite” will further the act’s growing reputation for crafting anthemic, arena rock centered around enormous power chords, thundering drumming and Ann Courtney’s powerhouse vocals. Interestingly, the track manages to simultaneously nod at 80s hair metal and classic rock, complete with a coked-up, balls to the wall swagger.
As the band’s Ann Courtney explains of the song, “‘An homage to the evil impulse and the speed of its ambush, I wrote ‘Snakebite’ in a hot 20 minutes. With its production setting it in the cinematic imagination of an 80s punk cult-film, this is the riotous theme song for your psycho ex-girlfriend with an axe to grind.”
Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the Viersen, Germany-born, Cologne, Germany-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, Marius Lauber, who writes, records and performs Roosevelt. Now, as you may recall its 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. Building upon a growing profile, Lauber’s 2016 full-length debut featured standout tracks “Colours” and “Moving On,” and has led to attention-grabbing tours with the likes of Hot Chip, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Crystal Fighters, as well a remixes of singles by Glass Animals, Jax Jones,Truls, Sundara Karma, Luca Vasta and Kakkmaddafakka and others.
Building upon a growing international profile, Lauber’s recently released sophomore Roosevelt album Young Romance finds the acclaimed German singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer making a decided move away from the slickly produced EDM of his previously released material to a warmer, hook-driven, guitar and synth-based sound, complete with a wistful escapism. Thematically, Young Romance fittingly focuses on — well, young romance, including the trials, tribulations and frustrations of falling in and out of love, and of desperately trying to find some semblance of home and life while on the road. As Lauber says of the writing process for the album “I ended up processing 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.”
Album single “Forgive,” featured Lauber collaborating with Ernest Green, a.k.a. Washed Out, who contributes his ethereal and imitable vocals to a shimmering, disco-like production centered by a Chic-era Nile Rodgers groove, African percussion and an infectious hook that sounds as though it could have been a Paracosm B-side. “Shadows,” continues in a similar, breezy yet disco-inspired vein, as it’s centered around a buoyant two-step friendly groove, arpeggiated synths, Lauber’s plaintive vocals, an incredibly tight, infectious hook that recalls Miami Horror, Washed Out and Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk to mind — but somehow even lighter. Young Romance’s latest single “Under The Sun” will further cement Lauber’s reputation for crafting hook-laden, and breezy pop centered around the German singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s yearning vocals, thumping beats, a sinuous disco-inspired bass line, twinkling keys and ethereal electronics — and while continuing to nod at the likes of Miami Horror, Washed Out, Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk and St. Lucia, the song much like its predecessor reveals an ambitious songwriter and producer, who has put a unique and urgent take on a familiar and beloved sound.
The recently released video for “Under The Sun” is a cinematic and fittingly nostalgic visual that features Lauber yearning singing the song and playing guitar on the beach, reflecting on a past relationship.
Now, throughout the bulk of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded and commercially successful Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act Atmosphere, and as you may recall the act initially formed over 20 years ago as a trio featuring Slug, Spawn D and Ant under the name Urban Atmosphere. And whether as a trio or a duo, the Minneapolis-based act have developed and maintained a long-held reputation for pushing the boundaries of what hip-hip should sound like and concern itself with thematically — especially as the members of the act find themselves inching to middle age, as well as for relentless touring.
2016’s Fishing Blues continued a string of insightful, soulful and mature material reflecting men, who evolved from tortured hedonists into settled down family men, who have seen and experienced much more than they can put into words — and while settling down in a much-deserved and peaceful bliss of family and art seems ideal in almost every circumstance, the world has fundamentally changed in a frightening and uncertain fashion. Naturally, if you’re s sensitive and thoughtful person, you can’t help but recognize that while you may have a little paradise, that within a mad, mad, mad world, it won’t last; that “nothing lasts forever,” as a song says. Unsurprisingly, Atmosphere’s soon-to-be released seventh album Mi Vida Loca thematically finds the pair grappling with their own mortality and the anxiety and fear that comes with the painful acknowledgment that you’re powerless and that you can’t possibly protect yourself, let alone your loved ones from the dangers of our world. Thematically sobering, indeed; but the album much like the bulk of their creative output has long been centered around the duo’s deep and abiding friendship. “Virgo,” Mi Vida Loca’s eerie first single may arguably be the most intimate and urgent song they’ve ever written and recorded — and just because the song evokes (and focuses on) the anxieties and fears of our moment, it isn’t completely dark and hopeless. If anything, the song proudly and sincerely says that as a man, it’s okay to admit that you’re scared shitless and not know what the fuck to do about anything; that when you’re uncertain and afraid that there are friends and loved ones, and music, small joys and small victories, and sweet and tender moments that we need to cling to and cherish with every fiber of our beings. Sonically, the song featured a bluesy production centered around strummed guitar, twinkling old-timey keys and eerily buzzing synths that nodded at Everlast’s Whitey Ford Sings the Blues but somehow starker.
Album opening track “Jerome” is the album’s latest single and it continues in a similar vein — featuring a production consisting of a looped sample of boozy and woozy buzzing power chords, rumbling and thumping percussion, brief blasts of twinkling and shimmering synths. Throughout Slug rhymes about the weight of familial history, aging, death, the vapidity and insincerity of social media and a bevy of other things with an incredibly dexterous rhyme scheme but underneath the swaggering self-assuredness of Slug’s delivery is a vulnerability and aching, world weariness.
Directed by Evidence, the recently released and incredibly cinematic video for “Jerome” begins with Slug and a homey taking a short ride to house down the street to the home studio, where two tow-headed little ones play with a hill of Legos, while the duo write and record — but some point, Slug quickly realizes that he may be too old for this shit and leaves mid-stream. It’s surreal yet rooted in a gritty reality.
With the release of last year’s debut EP Playing Dead, the somewhat mysterious Bristol, UK-based quartet The Desert quickly received attention for a sound that some have described as being a mix between Little Dragon and Portishead. Building upon a growing profile, the act’s highly-anticipated sophomore EP is slated for release sometime early next year, and from the EP’s first single “Gone,” the act has revealed a decided evolution of their sound and approach — while possessing a cinematic quality, the track is centered around a urgent and desperate air, with a hint of uneasy hope at the end ; in fact, as the band explains, “’Gone’ is about losing something or someone abruptly and how that can make you go a bit crazy. Gina’s voice is quite hoarse in the recording, which helps convey the desperation& frustration. There’s also a kind of excitement in that ‘fuck it’ feeling. The track is overall more positive than negative with each chorus ending ‘but I’ll find somewhere to put it.'”
Amy Kuney is a Tulsa, OK-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known as AMES. Kuney began piano lessons when she turned four, and participated in piano recitals and church performances throughout her childhood. The Tulsa-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist wrote her first song when she turned 12 and by the following year, Kuney’s father moved the family from their Tulsa home to Honduras to live as missionaries after he saw a video highlighting the destruction of Hurricane Mitch. As a teenager, Kuney taught herself guitar chords off a poster her father bought from Wal-Mart, while grappling with being gay in a strange country — and without friends; however, Kuney spent her time listening to the only secular album she could get her hands on, Fiona Apple‘s Tidal and writing songs.
The Tulsa-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist returned to the States to study at a religious college but she dropped out because of their archaic views on LGBTQ and relocated to Los Angeles, where she vowed to spend the rest of her life creating art and helping young people in the LGBQT community much like herself. Since relocating to Los Angeles, Kumey has developed a reputation as a go-to songwriter, who has written songs for the likes of Kelly Clarkson, AKON, Rita Ora, Michelle Branch, Tori Kelly, Lights, Icona Pop, Adam Lambert, Jason Mraz, Jojo, ALMA and growing list of others. Kuney steps out from behind the scenes with the release of the breezy “Hold On,” a single centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, strummed acoustic guitar, and a soaring and anthemic hook — and sonically speaking, the song manages to nod at Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush and Feist but with a much-needed message for anyone who has felt marginalized at any point.
With the release of their debut single “Fourteen,” the Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Beverly Kills quickly received attention for a decidedly post-punk inspired sound; however, the act’s latest single “Melodrama” find the band’s sound leaning a bit more towards a dream pop-take on the familiar and beloved post punk sound as the Swedish trio pair jangling guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section that included four-on-the-floor drumming, soaring hooks and a shimmering coda. And while revealing a band with an ambitious approach to their songwriting, the song sonically sounds as though it could have been released during 4AD Records heyday.
Country Line Runner is the solo recording project of singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Day — and with the release of the Bill Ryder-Jones-produced single “Hard to Find,” Day has received attention across the blogosphere for his unique songwriting approach. Interestingly, Day’s latest single is the incredibly cinematic “Wide Eyes,” which manages to nod at Joy Division and Brothers in Arms-era Dire Straits, complete with a carefully crafted and anthemic hook that reveals an ambitious songwriter with hopes to take over the world.
Comprised of the Northern Ireland-born, Dublin, Ireland-based duo Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntrye, the up-and-coming Dublin-based synth pop act Saint Sister can trace their origins to when the duo met while studying at the University of Dublin — and while studying, the duo bonded over their mutual desire to create music that represented both their friendship and their “us against the world” mentality. Building upon a growing international profile, the Irish duo’s highly-anticipated Alex Ryan-produced full-length debut Shape of Silence is slated for an October 5, 2018 release, and the album reportedly will showcase the duo’s ability to craft atmospheric, trip-hop like synth pop paired with dreamy vocals singing heartfelt vocals; in fact, Shape of Silence’s latest single “Steady” is centered around a lush yet minimalist production consisting of twinkling keys, atmospheric electronics, thumping beats and gorgeous vocals — and while seemingly being indebted to Portishead, the single reveals a profoundly self-assured and feminine strength.
The Irish synth pop duo are currently in the middle of a 3 week headlining North American tour. Check out the remaining tour dates below.
09/29 Chicago, IL – Schuba’s
10/02 Seattle, WA – Barboza
10/03 Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
10/05 San Francisco, CA – Cafe Du Nord
10/06 Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg