Tag: A Flock of Seagulls

Comprised of husband wife duo Aslyn and Kalen Nash, the Joshua Tree, CA-based synth pop duo DEGA features two accomplished, veteran musicians: Ashlyn had released two solo albums, Lemon Love through Capitol Records and The Dandelion Sessions through Lemonade Records, and she has a stint was a touring keyboardist and backing vocalist for Grammy nominated artist Kesha. Kalen Nash was guitarist and vocalist for Athens, GA-based indie rock act Ponderosa, a band that released their critically applauded, Joe Chiccarelli-produced album Midnight Revival, which was released through New West Records.

Unsurprisingly, the origins of the Nashes latest project can be traced back to 2008 when they first met and eventually fell in love — and although they married in 2011, they were so busy with their own respective musical projects, that they hadn’t seriously considered working together. Eventually, the loneliness of the road led the Nashes to consider a different path. “I remember a phone call when I was out with Kesha and Kalen was on tour with Ponderosa,” recalls Aslyn. “We were a country apart and hadn’t seen each other in months. I told him that we needed to start collaborating so, at the very least, we could see each other more often.”

Ashlyn and Kalen Nash formed DEGA with the idea that they could shed any and all of their preconceived notions about their previous work and freely explore new sounds and musical ideas — in this case anthemic, synth-based indie pop in which they merged their talents and ideas into a unique sound and approach. Now, as you may recall, the duo’s self-titled debut effort is slated for release later on this month through Lemonade Records, and the album reportedly is one of the most personal either has released to date as it focuses on the highs and lows of their lives together; in fact, album single “Phoenix” focuses on Asyln’s pregnancy and miscarriage during the recording sessions. With both Asyln and Kalen touring with their various projects, the duo would record whenever they were both in the same city and had free time, and as result, the album took two years to complete with sessions helmed by  Justin Loucks and Jon Ashley at various studios across the States.

Don’t Call It,” which I wrote about late last year was a carefully crafted yet urgent song that remind some quite a bit of Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back,” St. Lucia, Washed Out and In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy as layers of shimmering synths were paired with a sinuous bass line, African-inspired percussion and a soaring hook. The duo’s latest single “Mirrors” continues the 80s vibes of its predecessor — but in this case Purple Rain and 1999-era Prince, as well as A Flock of Seagulls as the song features some blistering guitar work paired with propulsive drumming, layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths and a rousingly anthemic hook. And while being a remarkably slick, radio friendly track, it reveals some incredibly ambitious and earnest songwriting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This past weekend has been a very busy one for me, as I’ve taken part in a Baby Robot Media hosted Mondo.NYC panel titled “Your First PR Campaign” and I’ve managed to cover some of the festival — while squeezing in my beloved New York Yankees, who have managed to get into the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians. There will be more on Mondo.NYC in the future; but in the meantime, let’s get to some music, eh?

For the better part of a decade, Frankie Rose played a significant role in Brooklyn’s indie rock scene, as an original member of several critically applauded and commercially successful acts including Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls and Beverly, as well as a solo artist. And interestingly enough, Rose has been considered a controversial and restlessly creative presence, frequently leaving projects, just as they were beginning to attain some measure of success. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the summer, you may recall that Rose relocated back to her birthplace of Los Angeles with the intention of establishing a new, creative and professional moment in her career; however, the experience of being down and out, and not quite knowing what to do next wound up inspiring her fourth full-length album Cage Tropical, which was co-written with Jorge Elbrecht, known for his work with Tamaryn, Gang Gang Dance, No Joy and my own personal favorite Violens. Album single “Dyson Sphere” managed to sound as though it owed a debt to 80s New Wave — in particular A Flock of Seagulls I Ran (So Far Away),” Siouxsie and The Banshees’Israel” and “Happy House,” immediately came to my mind.

Adding to a run of New Wave-inspired material, Rose is set to release a full-length cover of The Cure‘s critically applauded sophomore effort Seventeen Seconds as part of Turntable Kitchen’s Sounds Delicious vinyl covers series. The first single off Rose’s Seventeen Seconds cover album is a fairly straightforward and moody rendition of one of my favorite Cure songs “A Forest.” And if there’s one thing the Frankie Rose cover should do two things: remind contemporary listeners that a great song can truly be timeless and that The Cure should be considered one of the more important bands of the 1980s.

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: The 80s New Wave-Inspired Sounds and Visuals of Frankie Rose’s Latest Single “Dyson Sphere”

For the better part of a decade, Frankie Rose played a significant role in Brooklyn’s  indie rock scene, both as a solo artist and as an original member of critically applauded and commercially successful acts like Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls and Beverly; in fact, if you’ve been covering music in this town as long as I have, you may recall that Rose was a largely considered a controversial, restlessly creative presence, frequently leaving projects, just as they were about to attain some measure of success. As the story goes, Rose relocated back to her birthplace of Los Angeles with the intention of establishing a new, creative and professional moment in her career; however, she gradually found herself running short on sleep, money and optimism.  “I moved to LA, drama ensued and I ended up on a catering truck. I was like, how can this be my life after being a touring musician and living off of music. I had really lost my way and I thought I was totally done,” the indie rock artist recalls in press notes.

During those restless nights, Rose spent her time listening to Art Bell’s paranormal-themed archives and her thoughts turned fatalistic — in the sense that she started to feel as though she wasn’t cut out for the music business, and wondering what she was going to do next. “But out of it all, I just decided to keep making music, because it is what I love and what I do — regardless of the outcome,” the indie rock artist says.

Towards the end of her 18 month stint back in Los Angeles, Rose reached out to Jorge Elbrecht, known for his work with Tamaryn, Gang Gang Dance, No Joy and my own personal favorite Violens and began sketching what eventually became the basic outline of what felt like a new album. When Rose returned back to Brooklyn, she had the realization that she had to do it on her own, and naturally it meant working with basically no budget and finding ways to record in-between days; however, Rose credits it as being incredibly useful as it allowed her to experiment with a variety of people, who helped change her creative process and songwriting as a whole. “I got a lot of people from people like Dave Harrington (Darkside), who was helpful in reconstructing the songs, adding dynamics and changing up the rhythms.”

The end result is Rose’s soon-to-be released fourth full-length album Cage Tropical, and as you’ll hear on the album’s latest single “Dyson Sphere,” the material takes on a decidedly spectral yet New Wave-inspired sound, complete with analog synths, an angular and propulsive bass line, angular guitar chords fed through delay and reverb pedals, dramatic percussion and a soaring hook paired with Rose’s ethereally crooned vocals floating over the mix. And although the song is reminiscent of A Flock of Seagulls “I Ran (So Far Away),” Siouxsie and The Banshees’ “Israel” and “Happy House,” it may be the one of the more personal and albums of Rose’s career — and while seemingly dark, there’s an underlying and subtle sense of hope; that the darkest days of one’s creative or personal life certainly aren’t forever.  “It’s all essentially based on what happened to me in Los Angeles and then a return to Brooklyn. Misery turned into something good,” Rose says of the album in press notes. “The whole record to me is a redemption record and it is the most positive one I’ve made.

“I feel like I am finally free from worrying about an outcome. I don’t care. I already lost everything. I already had the worst-case scenario. When that happens, you do become free. In the end, it’s about me rescuing myself via having this record.”

Directed by Daniel Carbone, the recently released video for “Dyson Sphere” is an incredibly 80s New Wave-inspired performance video that features the Brooklyn-based indie artist and her backing band shot in a hazy and moody shadows, complete with trippy fade outs and bursts of color, that should remind anyone who grew up in the 80s of watching warped and over-recorded VHS tape.

 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three years or so, you’d certainly come across a handful of posts featuring the  Austin TX/Houston, TX-based electro pop act  Night Drive. Comprised of songwriting and production duo Rodney Connell and Bradley Duhon, the Texan electro pop act can trace their origins to some rather unusual, highly soap-opera-like yet very true circumstances: Connell and Duhon had met and bonded after they had discovered the the woman they had both unwittingly had been simultaneously dating tragically died in a car accident. Regardless of the circumstances behind their formation, the duo  has received attention both on this site and elsewhere for a moody, slickly produced New Wave and synth pop sound that draws from Joy DivisionCut CopyBrian EnoThe KnifeThe DrumsLCD SoundsystemDepeche Mode and others. However, the duo’s last single “Rise and Fall” managed to sound as though it were inspired by  A Flock of Seagulls “I Ran (So Far Away)” and Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” — and interestingly enough, the song thematically focused on the slow dissolution of a relationship that according to the song’s narrator seemed to be nearing its inevitable conclusion; but with the recognition that walking away from a relationship is difficult, even when it’s absolutely necessary. And in some way, you can sense the narrator’s unexpressed and deep seated fears about his life, post-relationship.

Last month, the renowned Los Angeles-based production and DJ duo Classixx remixed “Rise and Fall,” turning the moody, synth-based torch song into a breezy, funky, summery, club banger along the lines of Tuxedo, Dam-Funk, 7 Days of Funk and others, as the duo pairs the original vocal track with twinkling electric piano, a sinuous bass line and thumping beats — and as a result, the heartbreak at the core of the song is reduced to the dull throb of having time pass by. As Connell and Duhon explained to the folks at Billboard “Classixx reinterprets the song through the lens of that same person reminiscing about the incident many years later while chilling on a beach and sipping a martini. Sure it was sad and heartbreaking, but it’s hard to stay sad while in the Cayman Islands.”

As Classixx’s Michael David and Tyler Blake explained to Billboard, their remix of Night Drive’s “Rise and Fall” involved them pulling out electric piano and bass and recording one long take jamming over the vocal track. “We were feeling the groove and liked some of the imperfections, so we left them in. Our initial pass was more abstract, but the band [Night Drive] helped us bring it back a little closer to the original material. It was a pretty collaborative effort through email. I like how it still sounds a little rough around the edges though. Sometimes that’s where the charm lies,” the duo’s Tyler Blake added in an emailed statement to Billboard.

The duo’s self-titled debut is slated for a June 16, 2017 release through Roll Call Records and the album’s latest single “Trapeze Artist Regrets,” and the album’s latest single “Trapeze Artist Regrets” will likely remind listeners of Depeche Mode’s “People Are People,” Yaz’s “Situation,” The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” and others as the song features an effortlessly slick production consisting of layers upon layers of propulsive, undulating synths and tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with an infectious, dance floor-friendly hook and emotionally direct lyrics. However, interestingly enough, as the duo admits “‘Trapeze Artist Regrets’ was never supposed to happen. We were writing something else for a short film and became bored, so we changed the bpm, started shifting things around and all of the sudden we had this groove we liked.  We just started working backwards from there. The title came first, a sorta metaphor for disaster; it’s about watching someone you care about make the same mistake over and over again and not being able to do anything about it. Just hoping they pull through.” And as a result, the song possesses a bitter sense of reality, along with the recognition that the narrator’s friend will do something incredibly harmful to themselves and others.

 

 

 

 

Currently comprised of founding member Mike Score (keys, vocals), Joe Rodriguez, Michael Brahm and Pando, the British new wave/synth pop quartet A Flock of Seagulls initially formed in 1980 — and with their most famous and longest running lineup featuring Mike Score, his brother Ali Score (drums), Frank Maudsley (bass) and Paul Reynolds (guitar), the quartet had some of their biggest success, including a string of international hit singles including their smash hit “I Ran (So Far Away),” “Space Age Love Song,” and “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You),” all released in 1982 and 1984’s “The More You Live, The More You Love,” an anthemic pop song featuring angular guitars played with tons of reverb and delay pedal, an equally angular yet funky bass line, and a soaring hook.

 

Recently, JOVM mainstay artist Rhythm Scholar remixed A Flock of Seagulls’ 1984 hit single and his remix of the 1984 hit song, as futuristic bleeps and bloops, radio transmissions and feedback, along some distorted vocals during the song’s intro, bridge and coda and bigger, more forceful drum programming while retaining the angular guitar chords with reverb and delay, the equally angular bass line and the soaring hook of the original, essentially giving the song a subtle space-age feel — but space-age from what we would imagine 2017 would look like and feel like in 1984.

 

 

 

Karolina Rose is an up-and-coming Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, who I caught over the summer playing an acoustic, solo set at Kelsey Warren’s wildly eclectic Festival 8 last summer; however, her Andros Rodriguez produced debut single “Move With Me” is an anthemic 80s synth pop and New Wave-leaning single in which the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s achingly vulnerable yet sultry and assertive, pop star belter vocals are paired with shimmering arpeggio synths and four-on-the-floor led drum programming. Sonically, the song nods at A Flock of Seagulls and Florence and the Machine, thanks to a dance floor friendliness but more important, the song possesses an urgent intensity; in fact, as the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter explains in press notes, the song is “about that struck-by-lightning feeling you get when love first hits you. It’s a paralyzing intensity in a good way that makes you want to snap out of it, race forward and indulge in it evermore.” But even with that passionate excitement, there’s also an uncertainty of what will happen with any new romantic connection and while acknowledging that she could get hurt, the song’s narrator soothes herself by reminding herself that “what will be, will be.” And while some will think it’s fatalistic, the song is also a reminder that love, like anything else in life is a blind, leap of faith.

New Video: The Frenetic Visuals for Alexander F’s “Call Me Pretty”

Best known as a co-founding member and co-primary songwriter of renowned indie dance pop/indie funk act and JOVM mainstay Rubblebucket, Alex Toth’s side project, Alexander F, which features Steve Marion, Dandy McDowell. Christian Peslak and Noah Rubin as part of the project’s touring band, along with contributions from Kimbra is a decided change in sonic direction for him. Reeling emotionally after the suicides of a couple of musician friends and struggling with living as recovering alcoholic, Toth went to an eleven day, Buddhist, silent meditation retreat in Quebec. And as the story goes, during the retreat, a handful of Buddhist-themed experimental punk songs exploded in Toth’s head — and as a jazz-trained musician, it was a rather unexpected revelation. Now, if you had been frequenting this site towards the end of last year, you may recall that I wrote about “Swimmers,” off Alexander F’s self-titled debut, and from that single Toth and company revealed that his newest project would specialize in infectiously anthemic, frenetic and stompingly boisterous, pop-leaning take on punk rock — while in the case of that particular single, a mischievous take on the concept of prenatal memory in which the song’s narrator imagines how it must have been to be sperm swimming towards an egg to fertilize it.

The self-titled album’s third and latest single “Call Me Pretty” is a decidedly off-kilter yet rousingly anthemic track featuring guest vocals from Kimbra that sonically seems to owe a debt to New Wave and punk rock, with a neurotic and frenetic energy at its core — and in some way, to my ears at least, the song seems like what I’d imagine if Talking Heads randomly decided to cover A Flock of Seagulls. (In the alternative facts universe, indeed, right?) Lyrically, the song evokes the cripplingly neurotic self-doubt, shame and confusion of the song’s narrator, who despite his every effort, has begun to realize that he can’t run from himself — or his own foolish mistakes. And in someway his only hope is that his friends and lovers will ignore him and his perceived ugliness and unworthiness by “shutting their eyes and calling him pretty.”

The recently released music video for the song employs a relatively simple concept as it captures Toth and his backing band playing with a frenetic, unhinged energy — while nodding at the fact that being defiantly, proudly weird and loving music and art, and participating in music and art are the best way to resist.

Best known as a co-founding member and co-primary songwriter of renowned indie dance pop/indie funk act and JOVM mainstay Rubblebucket, Alex Toth’s side project, Alexander F, which features Steve Marion, Dandy McDowell. Christian Peslak and Noah Rubin as part of the project’s touring band, along with contributions from Kimbra is a decided change in sonic direction for him. Reeling emotionally after the suicides of a couple of musician friends and struggling with living as recovering alcoholic, Toth went to an eleven day, Buddhist, silent meditation retreat in Quebec. And as the story goes, during the retreat, a handful of Buddhist-themed experimental punk songs exploded in Toth’s head — and as a jazz-trained musician, it was a rather unexpected revelation. Now, if you had been frequenting this site towards the end of last year, you may recall that I wrote about “Swimmers,” off Alexander F’s self-titled debut, and from that single Toth and company revealed that his newest project would specialize in  infectiously anthemic, frenetic and stompingly boisterous, pop-leaning take on punk rock — while in the case of that particular single, a mischievous take on the concept of prenatal memory in which the song’s narrator imagines how it must have been to be sperm swimming towards an egg to fertilize it.

The self-titled album’s third and latest single “Call Me Pretty” is a decidedly off-kilter yet rousingly anthemic track featuring guest vocals from Kimbra that sonically seems to owe a debt to New Wave and punk rock, with a neurotic and frenetic energy at its core — and in some way, to my ears at least, the song seems like what I’d imagine if Talking Heads randomly decided to cover A Flock of Seagulls. (In the alternative facts universe, indeed, right?) Lyrically, the song evokes the cripplingly neurotic self-doubt, shame and confusion of the song’s narrator, who despite his every effort, has begun to realize that he can’t run from himself — or his own foolish mistakes. And in someway his only hope is that his friends and lovers will ignore him and his perceived ugliness and unworthiness by “shutting their eyes and calling him pretty.”

 

Initially comprised of founding member Al Jourgensen (vocals and guitar), Stephen George (drums), Robert Roberts (keys) and John Davis (keys), the renowned and influential Chicago, IL-based industrial metal/industrial electronic act Ministry began as a New Wave synth pop act that released several 12 inch singles through Wax Trax! Records between 1981-1984. And after a series of lineup changes that included a deeper focus on the band’s founding duo of Jourgensen and George, and a radical change in sonic direction that lead to the aggressive and abrasive sound that later inspired the likes of Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails ,KMFDM and others.

This Friday will mark the limited release of the long-awaited Trax! Rarities double album featuring rare, early tracks and versions of songs from Wax Trax! Records-era Ministry and unreleased material from Al Jourgensen’s related side projects including Revolting Cocks, PTP, Pailhead and 1000 Homo DJs through Cleopatra Records. And we’ve got three tracks from the Trax! Rarities collection — the A Flock of Seagulls meets Roxy Music-like demo version of “The Game Is Over,” which reveals that even with a completely different sound that Jourgensen, his late bandmate George and company had an uncanny ability to write an incredibly anthemic hook paired with shimmering guitars and a propulsive groove;  the mid 80s New Order and Depeche Mode-nodding “I See Red,” which is not only a dance-floor friendly song but manages to be a more conscious move towards something resembling industrial electronic music; and lastly, “Same Old Madness,” which strangely enough, bears an uncanny resemblance to Freedom of Choice-era DEVO. Of course, while the compilation will be a must have for die-hard fans and completetists, it’s a revealing look into how a band’s sound and aesthetic can morph from making them a mere footnote of a particular time into one of the more influential bands of their generation.

 

 

 

 

 

Although they’ve had a number of lineup changes over the years, the Athens, GA-based quartet Maserati, currently comprised of Coley Dennis (guitar), Matt Cherry (guitar). Chris McNeal (bass) and Mike Albanese (drums), have developed a reputation for a sound that draws heavily from post-rock, psych rock and prog rock since their formation back in 2000. Over the last few years, the band has increasingly been pursuing a sound that meshes elements of space rock, krautrock and psych rock with a retro-futuristic leaning.

The band’s forthcoming album Rehumanizer slated for an October 30 release through Brooklyn-based label Temporary Residence, Ltd. marks the first album that the band completely self-produced, as well as an effort in which the band openly employed technology as a songwriting tool.

As a result, Rehumanizer’s first single “End of Man” meshes a trippy motorik groove comprised of cascades of buzzing and shimmering synths, forcefully propulsive drumming and angular guitar chords played through layers of reverb and delay pedals paired with vocals fed through vocoder to craft a song that sounds inspired by Kraftwerk, Hawkwind and The Sword simultaneously. The album’s second single “Rehumanizer II” meshes propulsive and undulating synths, angular guitar chords reminiscent of A Flock of Seagulls‘ “I Ran ” and U2‘s “Wire,” and four-on-the-floor drumming to craft a furious and tense composition that clearly draws equally from 80s synth pop as it does from krautrock, complete with a chugging motorik groove. Both tracks are taut yet incredibly cinematic, as though they should be part of the soundtrack of a post apocalyptic, sci-fi thriller.