Back in 2020, Dutch indie label, Snowstar Records, released the duo’s self-produced and self-recorded five-song EP Inbetween saw the duo continuing upon the sound that quickly won them attention nationally and internationally — while also drawing from Roy Orbison, Julee Cruise, Nancy Sinatra, Patsy Cline. The end result was an effort that evokes late nights wandering narrow European streets, daydreaming in smokey cafes, sitting in bars reflecting on your life while nursing a drink. Personally, the EP’s material immediately brings back very specific memories: walking through Amsterdam’s Centrum and Red Light Districts late at night, the prostitutes summoning men with a wink and a wry smile, and passing drunk revelers on the street; and walking through Frankfurt-am-Main’s Haupwatche and Romer Districts with the surreal and lonely ache of being a foreigner.
Donna Blue’s highly-anticipated full-lengths but Dark Roses is slated for a May 13, 2022 release through Snowstar Records. The album is reportedly features 11 dreamy and cinematic tracks that feel like a film score for a romantic, film noir. While playing with the feeling of being alive, yet in a carefully sculpted parallel world, the album’s material finds the duo taking on a decidedly twangy Western sound inspired by Ennio Morricone, Piero Piccioni and John Barry paired with dreamily sensual vocals.
Dark Roses‘ fourth and latest single “The Beginning” is a slow-burning, lush, and cinematic track centered around shimmering and twangy guitars, soaring keys, propulsive, hi-hat driven rhythms paired with van Kesteren’s aching vocal. Fittingly, “The Beginning” sounds as though it should be part of the opening credits of a gorgeously shot and surreal film set in the Amsterdam or Berlin suburbs that’s one part social commentary, one part Romantic mediation, one part love story and one part psychedelic freak out.
The project can trace their origins back to the early 2000s: Mago and TWR72 met while DJ’ing Dutch underground electro parties. That raw and energetic scene saw the pari playing a mixture of electro pop, French house, fidget and techno. As the years passed by, they individually developed their own unique sounds — but they realized that they had long held a similar dream: to start a live act inspired by the bands they grew up with, as well as the likes of Miike Snow, Foals, Editors, Van She, and Goose.
Mike Rogers was a way for the pair to challenge themselves creatively and professionally — and to further develop themselves as producers and DJs. The duo recruited Kita Menari’s Micha de Jonge to his big, plaintive vocals to their hook-driven, crowd-pleasing sound.
Their full-length debut, which is slated for an early 2023 release will see reportedly see the trio crafting material that’s a mix of analog, digital and retro sounds with a modern feel. But in the meantime . . . The Dutch trio’s latest single “Can’t Stop” is an anthemic bit of post punk/dance punk centered around angular guitar attack, de Jonge’s achingly plaintive vocals and a motorik-like groove paired with enormous, euphoric hooks. While to my ears recalling the likes of Radio 4,Interpol, and Editors, “Can’t Stop” as the trio explains is about a lonely man, who looks back at his life: As a young man, he tries to do everything right, but always feels as though he is failing since people don’t seem to understand him. Battling a personal struggle with his past, the lonely man protests against this feeling, with the hopes that he can get rid of those negative thoughts.
Written last year, the trio explain, “In our minds that year was a year where we had a lot of questions. Like, what is freedom, what should one fight for, how should one fight for something, how do we move forward as a society and also, how do we judge our past behaviour. We believe questions are the biggest inspirator. We’re trying to ask questions more than to send a message, although that’s also a bit of a vision we want to share.”
Deriving their name from the Turkish phase for “Golden Day,” the acclaimed Amsterdam-based Turkish psych pop act Altin Gün — founding member Jasper Verhulst (bass) with Ben Rider (guitar), Erdinç Ecevit Yildiz (keys, saz, vocals), Gino Groneveld (percussion), Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Nic Mauskovic (drums) — can trace their origins to Japser Verhulst’s repeated tour stops to Istanbul with a previous band and his deep and abiding passion for ’60s and ’70s Turkish psych pop and folk, fueled by discoveries Verhulst couldn’t find in his native Holland.
But as the story goes, Verhulst wasn’t just content to listen as an ardent fan; he had a vision of where he could potentially take the sound he loved. “We do have a weak spot for the music of the late ’60s and ’70s,” Verhulst admitted in press notes. “With all the instruments and effects that arrived then, it was an exciting time. Everything was new, and it still feels fresh. We’re not trying to copy it, but these are the sounds we like and we’re trying to make them our own.”
Altin Gün’s sophomore album, 2020’s Grammy Award-nominated, critically applauded Gece further established the band’s reputation for re-imagining traditional Turkish folk through the lens of psych rock and pop. Last year’s critically applauded Yol was the band’s third album in three years. And while the album found the band continuing to draw about the rich and diverse traditions of Turkish and Anatolian folk, pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns forced the Dutch outfit to write music in a completely new way for them: virtually — through trading demos and ideas built around Omnichord, 808 and other elements, including field recordings and New Age-like ideas by email.
“We were basically stuck at home for three months making home demos, with everybody adding their parts,” Altin Gün’s Merve Dasdemir says in press notes. “The transnational feeling maybe comes from that process of swapping demos over the internet, some of the music we did in the studio, but lockdown meant we had to follow a different approach.”
As a result of the new songwriting approach and arrangements prominently featuring Omnichord and 808, the album saw the band crafting material that’s a bold, new sonic direction: sleek, synth-based, retro-futuristic Europop with a dreamy quality, seemingly informed by the enforced period of reflection. Additionally, the members of the acclaimed Dutch act, enlisted Ghent, Belgium-based production duo Asa Moto — Oliver Geerts and Gilles Noë — to co-produce and mix the album, marking the first time that the band has collaborated with outsiders.
The acclaimed Turkish psych outfit will be embarking on an extensive North American tour next month that includes a two night run at Music Hall of Williamsburg April 28, 2022-April 29, 2022. (As always, the tour dates are below.) Along with that announcement, the band released a new two-song digital single “Badu Sabah Olmadan”/”Cips Kola Kilit.” Both songs originally appeared in some fashion or another on last summer’s Bandcamp-only album Âlem.
“Badu Sabah Olmadon” may arguably be one of the harder rocking songs the Dutch JOVM mainstays have released in some time, featuring a relentless motorik groove, some scorching guitar work, glistening synths and yearning vocals.
“‘Badİ Sabah Olmadan’ is a traditional love song from the town of Kırşehir, where the poet begs his lover to come to him before the night ends,” the band explains in press notes. “We recorded an electronic version for our charity album Âlem, and then started to play it live with the band. We liked it so much that we decided to record a live band version. Happy to play it for our fans this spring!”
“Clips Kola Kilit” is a dance floor friendly, decidedly 80s synth bop centered around 808-like beats, glistening synth washes and wobbling bass synth paired with a coquettish and sultrily delivered spoken word/rap-like vocal. For those children of the 80s — like me — “Clips Kola Kilit” brings back memories of acts like Whodini, The Human League, Nu Shooz, Cherelle, and others. And interestingly enough, it sound as though it could have been on Yol but was cut from the album.
NORTH AMERICA TOUR 2022
April 4 – Montreal, CAN @ Le National
April 5- Toronto, CAN @ The Axis Club
April 7 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
April 8 – Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater
April 12 – Vancouver, CAN @ Rickshaw Theatre
April 13 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
April 14- Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall
April 17 – COACHELLA FESTIVAL
April 19 – San Francisco @ August Hall
April 21 – Los Angeles, CA @ Roxy (co-headline with Nilüfer Yanya)
April 24 – COACHELLA FESTIVAL
April 26 – Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
April 27 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
April 28 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Acclaimed Canadian-born DJ, producer and songwriter Maya Postepski may be best known for her feature-length film scores, global DJ gigs and her work collaborating with Austra, Peaches and JOVM mainstay TR/ST. Postepski is also the creative mastermind behind Princess Century, a recording project that thematically and sonically is committed to submersion rather than submission.
s u r r e n d e r, Postepski’s long-anticipated sophomore Princess Century effort is slated for an October 1, 2021 release through Paper Bag Records. Reportedly, the album finds the acclaimed DJ, producer and songwriting breaking away from the purely instrumental sound and approach that initially won her international acclaim, by showcasing her own lyrics and vocal performances. The process, as Postepski readily admits has been at times nerve-wracking and uneasy: “It’s like opening up my diary and saying, ‘Have a look, there’s a lot of weird shit in there,’” she laughs. “I’ve always been hiding in the back behind a band or behind a singer,” she continues. “It’s my first step into a more vulnerable and exposed place, which I’m finally okay with for the first time in my adult life. I guess I stopped caring about being shy or being insecure, or hiding who I am. I don’t like to be in the limelight, but life is short and I guess I should share who I am eventually.”
The album’s material was written between Narva, an Eastern Estonia town, near the Russian border; a tent in the Moroccan portion of the Sahara Desert without internet; and Berlin, where she became a resident at Riverside Studios. Postepski recorded the album in her room at the studio while Brazilian artist Julia Borelli engineered the album in her own space at the studio. Inspired by Steve Reich, Róisín Murphy and Jorja Chalmer, the forthcoming 12-song album is centered around a minimalist aesthetic that emphasizes the use of repetition. “It’s sort of this minimalistic, pattern-based music,” Postepski says. “I play drums and synths, so those are my worlds. I’m obsessed with finding these beautiful landscapes with synthesizers and drum machines.”
Interestingly, s u r r e n d e r‘s title doesn’t refer to a white flag or throwing in a white towel but a surrendering of the self to everything around it. Fueled by the philosophy of “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final,” the album’s 12 songs thematically sees Postepski guiding the listener to though a maze of pure, unbridled emotion: the end result is material that’s rich and visceral yet offers healing through dancing your pain away.
Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “Still The Same,” a dance floor friendly track punctuated with a desperately unfulfilled and swooning yearning, evoked through pulsating synth arpeggios, skittering beats and Postepski’s ethereal vocals. The song’s narrator repeatedly tells its love object “You’re still the same/But I need you now/I need you more again . . .” “‘Still the Same’ embodies the mix of emotions that arise at the end of a relationship,” the acclaimed acclaimed Canadian DJ, producer and songwriter explains. “The longing and frustration, hopelessness and desire fused into a confusing cocktail. The inescapable need to feel held and seen by the one you were closest to, but can no longer reach, then pretending it’s all ok by going out on the town in a desperate attempt for connection.”
s u r r e n d e r‘s latest single “Desperate Love” continues a run of dance floor friendly material featuring skittering beats, glistening synth arpeggios paired with Postepski’s achingly yearning vocal delivery and an enormous hook. But underneath the club friendly thump, the song is fueled by the bitter awareness that a relationship is on the brink — and that it may be too late.
Directed by Finnish director, Laura Hypponen, the recently released video for “Desperate Love” was filmed in a gorgeous and lushly cinematic black and white in Amsterdam and stars Sofia Hoflack as a lonely and heartbroken woman longing for connection, intimacy and erotic passion.
21 year-old Amsterdam-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Nadine Appeldoorn is the creative mastermind behind the rising indie pop recording project Mazey Haze. Growing up surrounded by the music of ABBA, Tears for Fears, Talk Talk, Fleetwood Mac and The Bee Gees, the rising Dutch artist started writing her own original material when she was 13. By the time, she turned 16, Appeldoorn started recording full demos on her laptop that found her experimenting with different genres, sounds, decades and production elements.
Eventually, Appeldoorn settled on a guitar-driven indie pop sound that some have compared to acclaimed and beloved acts like Alvvays, Beach House,Camera Obscura and Men I Trust paired with reflective, insightful, often wistful and unashamedly honest songwriting, fueled by her desire to connect with the listener and make them feel less alone.
The rising Dutch artist’s highly anticipated debut EP, Always Dancing, which will feature lead single “Sad Lonely Groove” is slated for an October 22, 2021 release through LUSTRE. Discussing what listeners should expect from the EP, Appeldoorn explains, “Human feelings and thoughts. Total honesty about a very vulnerable and fearful chapter of my life. Unfiltered lyrics that came straight out at moments I felt the lowest I have ever felt. At times cynical and sarcastic. Thoughts and feelings we all experience but which are also very private and personal. An EP about me struggling through my first breakup(s) and trying to figure out who I am, for the first time ever. Sound-wise the EP is also strongly guided by my gut-feeling and intuition. The music accompanies the lyrics as it matches the strong and deep feeling I had at the time. The EP is sonically straightforward but detailed as well. Dynamic and layered. Groovy and dreamy. For me, this EP is the beginning of floating through the unknown, forever.”
Building upon the attention of “Sad Lonely Groove,” Appeldoorn and LUSTRE released the second and latest single off the EP, “Headspin.” Featuring shimmering guitars, a supple bass line, atmospheric synths, propulsive drumming and Appledoorn’s plaintive vocals paired with a soaring hook, “Headspin” manages to capture a narrator caught in an uneasy storm of conflicting and confusing emotions of a bitter breakup while sonically bearing a resemblance to Cannonball EP-era Amber Arcades and Beach House.
“I wrote ‘Headspin’ in the same period of my life as ‘Sad Lonely Groove’. The song for me was an outlet of my doubts and fears at that time,” Appeldoorn explains in press notes. “I broke up with my first ever partner in life and wasn’t sure if I’d done the right thing, because I didn’t know how to take care of myself. I didn’t know who I was on my own. It was very scary and I felt very lonely. The only person I really had was him. I felt a lot of frustration. Some moments I did think it was the right thing because I felt that I couldn’t be there for him, I didn’t feel the same anymore. All these different thoughts were making me tired. It was the first time I let go of someone I cared about alot. But I couldn’t still fully let him go.”
Acclaimed Cape Town-born, Berlin,-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and JOVM mainstay Alice Phoebe Lou grew up in an intensely creative home: her parents were documentary filmmakers, who took a young Lou to piano lessons. As a teenager, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based artist taught herself guitar.
When she was 16, she went on a life-altering trip to Paris to visit her aunt. Armed with an acoustic guitar, a young Lou met some of the city’s buskers and street performers, eventually learning poi dancing from some of them. After completing her studies, she returned to Europe, first settling in Amsterdam, where she made money as a poi dancer.
Some time later, she relocated to Berlin, where she quickly developed a reputation as a well-regarded busker — and for a fiercely punk rock-like DIY approach to her career. With the release of her self-released debut EP, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based JOVM mainstay began to receive national and international attention that led to a number of performances at TED events in London and Berlin during the following year.
2016’s Orbit was a critical success, leading to Lou earning a Best Female Artist nomination at that year’s German Critics’ Awards. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, she wound up playing at the 27th Annual Conference for the Professional Business Women of California — and she appeared on bills with Sixto Rodriguez, Boy & Bear, and Allen Stone. Lou need the year with three, sold-out multimedia events at the Berlin Planetarium. Those Berlin Planetarium shows were so popular and in such high demand that additional shows had to be added to her tour schedule in 2017.
In 2018, the live version of “She” amassed over four million views on YouTube, and was featured in Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story — before the studio version of the single had been recorded or released. She then spent the bulk of the year working on the material, which would eventually comprise her sophomore album, 2019’s Noah Georgeson-produced Paper Castles. According to Lou, the album was “about nostalgia, about growing into a woman, about the pain and beauty of the past, about feeling small and insignificant but finding that to be powerful and beautiful, about acknowledging that childhood is over but bringing some of it with you.”
The recently released Glow is the highly-anticipated follow-up to Paper Castles, and the album’s material may arguably be the most raw and personal her growing catalog. The material which finds Lou frequently delivering lyrics in a old school, jazzy croon paired with scuzzy guitars, sauntering and strutting bass grooves and mesmerizing piano sequences finds Lou being unafraid to be vulnerable and yearning while embracing songwriting as her truest, most honest form of expression. “I used to feel quite self-conscious about writing love songs,” the acclaimed JOVM mainstay says in press notes,” but now I like the idea that your music can be a friend to someone, and make them feel as though they’re being related to. This album simply poured out of my heart and my subconscious, and there was no stopping the lovestruck nature of them. Sometimes love, love lost and the ways in which these matters of the heart affect us, are the most relatable feelings in the world.”
Much like the rest of us, last year brought challenges both personally and as an artist for Lou. “I spent more time alone than I ever had,” she shares. “I shaved may head. Had an ego death. Fell in love. Had my heart broken. I was a raw little mess. And that was what I wrote about.”
And to celebrate the album’s release, the acclaimed singer/songwriter released a self-directed bit of live footage of her and her backing band performing the slow-burning and hushed “Only When I.” Nodding at Quiet Storm soul, the song, which is centered around Lou’s plaintive and ethereal crooning, twinkling keys, atmospheric synths and a strutting bass line is a heartbreaking and familiar admission of the lovesick and lonely — and full of desperate longing for companionship and that touch of someone you can’t get back.
Today is February 28, 2021. It’s the last day of February and of Black History Month. Throughout the past month, I’ve featured Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of greens and styles — with the hopes that this series will serve as a sort of primer on the Black experience and on Black music.
While we’re at it, let’s remember the following:
Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.
I’ve often said that hip-hop is the lingua franca of everyone under about 55 or so. And to that end, I’d almost guarantee that everyone from New York to Beijing, from Buenos Aires to Amsterdam from Johannesburg to New Delhi knows and loves the legendary Wu-Tang Cla
Amsterdam-based Turkish psych pop act and JOVM mainstays Altin Gün — founding member founding member Jasper Verhulst (bass) with Ben Rider (guitar), Erdinç Ecevit Yildiz (keys, saz, vocals), Gino Groneveld (percussion), Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Nic Mauskovic (drums) — can trace their origins to Japser Verhulst’s repeated tour stops to Istanbul with a previous band and a deep and abiding passion for ’60s and ’70s Turkish psych pop and folk, fueled by music discoveries Verhulst couldn’t find in his native Holland.
But as the story goes, Verhulst wasn’t just content to listen as an ardent fan, he had a vision of where he could potentially take the sound he loved. “We do have a weak spot for the music of the late ’60s and ’70s,” Verhulst admitted in press notes. “With all the instruments and effects that arrived then, it was an exciting time. Everything was new, and it still feels fresh. We’re not trying to copy it, but these are the sounds we like and we’re trying to make them our own.”
Altin Gün’s sophomore album, last year’s Grammy Award-nominated, critically applauded Gece further established the band’s reputation for re-imagining traditional Turkish folk through the lens of psych rock and pop. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months, you may recall that the Dutch JOVM mainstays’ highly-anticipated, soon-to-be released third album Yol will be teh third album from the band in three years. And much like its predecessors, the album continues their long-held reputation for drawing from the rich and diverse traditions of Turkish and Anatolian folk. But because of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, the members of Altin Gün were forced to write music in a new way for them: virtually — through trading demos and ideas built around Omnichord, 808 and other elements, including field recordings and New Age-like ideas by email.
“We were basically stuck at home for three months making home demos, with everybody adding their parts,” Altin Gün’s Merve Dasdemir says in press notes. “The transnational feeling maybe comes from that process of swapping demos over the internet, some of the music we did in the studio, but lockdown meant we had to follow a different approach.” As a result of the new approach, which featured Ommichord and 808 driven arrangements, the album finds the band crafting material that’s a bold, new sonic direction: sleek, synth-based, retro-futuristic Europop with a dreamy quality, seemingly informed by the enforced period of reflection. Additionally, the album finds the Dutch act working with Ghent, Belgium-based production duo Asa Moto — Oliver Geerts and Gilles Noë — to co-produce and mix the album, marking the first time that the band has collaborated with outsiders.
I’ve written about three of Yol‘s released singles:
“Ordunun Dereleri,” a mesmerizing re-imagining of an old folk standard and a fitting example of the act’s new sound: glistening synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor and motorik groove. While the song finds the acclaimed Dutch act taking their sound to the dance floor, there’s an underlying brooding and dreamy introspection to the song.
“Yüce Dağ Başında,” a coquettish, dance floor friendly strut featuring Nile Rodgers-like guitar, glistening synths, a sinuous bass line, bursts of mellotron, copious cowbell and percussive polyrhythm centered around lead vocals from frontwoman Merve Dasdemir. Sonically, the infectious new single — to my ears, at least — reminds me of Evelyn “Champagne” King’s “I’m In Love” and “Love Come Down,” and Patrice Rushen‘s “Forget Me Nots.”
“Kara Toprak,” a sleek reworking of a classic folk song by Turkey’s legendary and beloved, blind poet and musician Âşık Veysel featuring wah wah-pedaled funk guitar, sinuous disco-influenced bass lines, shimmering and atmospheric synth arpeggios, copious amount of cowbell serve as a lush bed over which Merve Dasdemir’s gorgeous and sultry lead vocals, ethereally float over. Much like its predecessors, the song is swooning and coquettish seduction — a gentle tug of the sleeve from a new, potential lover/a new situationship that says “Come on, let’s dance already! Show me what you’ve got!” But ironically enough, while it’s an infectious, dance floor friendly rework, the song is about life’s transience and the inevitability of death.
The Amsterdam-based JOVM mainstays have quickly established themselves as a must-see live act, selling out headlining shows across the US and the European Union, and playing sets across the major global festival circuit, including Coachella and Bonnaroo before the pandemic. Now, as you may recall Yol was officially released today through ATO Records/Cadence Music Group — and to celebrate the occasion, the band released a highly desired taste of a concert they recorded with the Grammy Award-winning Dutch jazz orchestra Metropole Orkest at Amsterdam’s Koninklijk Theater Carré last October.
So we have some live footage of the JOVM mainstays performing a gorgeous and incredibly cinematic rendition of album single “Ordunun Dereleri” — and the footage is very much a glimpse of a world that seems so far away.
February 10 is the tenth day Black History Month. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past month, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience. Of course, I hope that throughout this month you’ll remember — and appreciate the following:
Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.
Tonight I thought it would be best to write about Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. You can Google any pertinent biographical information but I have a story about ‘retha that I’ve mentioned on several occasions: I landed in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport early in the morning one mid-January Sunday. After going through customs and retrieving my suitcase — a suitcase that I had gratefully borrowed from a girlfriend — I took the commuter train into Amsterdam Centraal Station to discover that I had a couple of hours before anything was open.
A smiling, blonde waitress waved me in a few minutes before they were about to open. They had an oldies radio station on the air, playing familiar and beloved hits from a variety of decades. Within about two hours of being in Amsterdam, I was reminded of how ubiquitous Black music and culture are, and how important the Queen of Soul is when this radio station started playing ‘retha — and the waitress happily sung along in slightly accented English. Now, whenever I hear ‘retha, I think of that Dutch waitress singing along.