Tag: Barcelona Spain

New Audio: Emerging Producer PIB Releases an Infectious and Summery Banger

PIB is a French-born electronic music producer and artist, who splits his time between Ibiza and Barcelona. Passionate about creating positive and hopeful music that makes a difference, the emerging French-born, Spanish-based producer and artist’s work is deeply inspired by the beauty of his adoptive homeland.

The French-born, Spanish-based producer’s self-assured, debut single “Es Vedrá Energy” derives its title from an uninhabited, rocky island, just off the southwestern coast of Ibiza. The song is an aptly sun-drenched and upbeat banger, featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rock beats, sultry female vocals, tribal drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook that’s perfect to shout drunkenly along to while in the club.

Interestingly, 50% of all of streaming revenue will be donated to animal charities, like Pet Alert.

Athens-born, Barcelona-based singer/songwriter, classically trained pianist and visual artist Evripdis Sabatis is the creative mastermind behind the solo recording project Evripidis and His Tragedies. The project, which finds the Athens-born, Barcelona-based multimedia artist crafting devastatingly confessional, self-deprecating and often darkly humorous pop songs centered around a queer sensibility can trace its origins back to 2004. When Sabatis relocated to Barcelona, the Greek-born multimedia artist started playing solo sets, accompanying himself on piano in small local bars before becoming a fixture in the local underground scene as a performer, DJ and independent promoter.

Since 2004, Sabatis has been rather busy. He has released four albums 2007’s self-titled debut, 2011’s A Healthy Dose of Pain, 2016’s Futile Games in Space and Time, 2019’s Mia Triti stin Cantina and an EP . . . And It Was Good While It Lasted Baby while also writing scores for short films. Those releases were primarily melancholy, piano-driven indie pop with a joyous beat, unconventional song structures, lush chord progressions and vocal harmonies that found Sabatis collaborating with an eclectic and diverse array of local and international artists, including Sarah P., The Magnetic Fields‘ LD Beghtol, and fellow Greek artist Nalyssa Green.

Sabatis has opened for internationally acclaimed artists like John Grant, Jens Lekman, Peter Bjorn and John and Arab Strap. Adding to a growing profile, he has toured internationally, playing shows in Spain, the UK, Germany, France, the US, Portugal, The Netherlands and his native Greece. The Greek multimedia artist has also made the rounds of the international festival circuit making stops at Primavera Sound Festival, FIB Festival, Indietracks, Eurosonic Nooderslag and Synch Festival.

The Athens-born, Barcelona-based multimedia artist’s fifth album Neos Kosmos reportedly finds Sabatis crating material that goes in a much more decidedly straightforward and sparse synth-driven direction with lyrics written and sung in English, Spanish and Greek while still displaying his immense love of Doo Pop, 60s girls groups, New Wave, indie pop and bedroom pop. The album’s latest single “Bitter,” which features guest vocals from The Ballet‘s Greg is a decidedly 80s inspired synth pop confection featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, a propulsive motorik groove, and a razor sharp yet infectious hook. Interestingly, “Bitter” reveals a songwriter, who has an uncanny ability to write a song that’s centered around complex and contradictory emotions: through heartfelt and earnest songwriting dripping with a bit of campy sarcasm, the song points out the fact that that love — and the search for love — can be fleeting, capricious, embittering and exhausting. And yet, love is so necessary that you can’t quite give up on it either.

“I wanted to convey a little bit of the feeling that The Smiths‘ songs gave me when I was younger — this mixture of romanticism, cynicism, and humor that is kind of camp, but also deeply heartfelt.,” Sabatis explains in press notes. “I am, after all, bitter and hopeful, grumpy and funny, all together at the same time, and I wanted to connect with those who feel these strong contradictions. I invited Greg to sing with me because I imagined an encounter of two like-minded souls who never give up on love. “

New Audio: Joan Pérez-Villegas Releases a Breezy and Whimsical New Composition

Mallorca, Spain-born, Bern, Switzerland-based percussionist, composer, bandleader and producer Joan Pérez-Villeagas can trace the origins of his music career to when he began studying percussion at eight years ago old at the Conservatory of Music and Dance in Palma. When Villegas turned 19, he relocated to Barcelona, where earned a Bachelor’s in Classical and Contemporary Percussion at ESMUC. Interestingly, while in Barcelona, the Mallorca-born, Bern-based artist developed a deep interest in jazz and traditional music that led him to earn a Masters in Jazz Composition under the tutelage of Lluís Vidal.

Throughout his young career, Villegas has been involved with a diverse array of projects across an eclectic array of styles and genres including chamber music, classical symphonies, pop, traditional music, jazz and even scores for dance, theater, and film. During that same period, he has managed to be rather busy: he has studied with the Balearic Symphony Orchestra, been a guest artist at Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival (SICMF) 2016 in South Africa and at Festival Cistermusica 2016 in Portugal with his percussion duo Face two Phase, which won first prize at the fourth annual International Chamber Music Competition Cidade Alcobaça (CIMCA) in Portugal.

Released earlier this year, the Pérez-Villegas and Marc Urrutia co-produced, Blau Salvatge is Perez-Villages’ full-length debut as a compeer and bandleader. Recorded over the course of two days with Alberto Pérez at Barcelona’s Sol de Sants Studio and collection of friends and fellow students including Pau Lligadas (bass), Josep Cordobés (drums), Ariadna Rodríguez (violin), Pau Vidal (flute), Toni Pineño (clarinet), Joan Mar Sauqué (trumpet), Max Salgado (French horn), Leire Corpas (guitar) and of course, Pérez-Villegas (marimba and vibraphone) at Barcelona’s Sol de Sants Studio, the album’s material is centered around six kaleidoscopic compositions that manage to be individually distinct and focused on a different compositional process. And yet, each composition is part of a larger, cohesive whole.

Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “Valvé.” Centered around a cinematic and mind-bending arrangement, the composition finds a talented collection of young musicians darting, weaving, bopping and strutting through several different tempos and styles — including Birth of the Cool and Kind of Blue-era Miles Davis, Horace Silver, breezy Brazilian jazz, Spanish folk music and film and TV scores — while evoking contemplation, awe, wonder and childlike whimsy.

Blau Salvage’s latest single “Algorritme I” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as it’s a whimsical and breezy composition that features elements of hard bop, jazz fusion and film scores in a way that recalls Danny Elfman and JOVM mainstay Jonathan Scales. Of course, what truly makes the composition is the effortless yet soulful playing of each musician.

LIve Footage: Brazil’s WRY at Febre Festival 2020

With the release of their first five albums, 1998’s Direct, 2000’s Heart Experience, 2007’s Flames in the Head, 2009’s She Science and 2018’s National Indie Hits, the Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil-based psych rock quartet WRY — Mario Bross (vocals, guitar), Luciano Marcello (guitar), Ítalo Ribero (drums) and William Leonotti (bass) — have been at the forefront of Brazil’s contemporary rock scene while developing a sound indebted to Brit Pop, shoegaze and post-punk.

The members of WRY have also spent several years living and working in London, and as a result of a growing internationally recognized profile, they went on several tours across the UK and Continental Europe, eventually making their rounds of the European festival circuit with a notable stop at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound. Additionally, along with their recorded output and profile, the members of the Brazilian psych rock act own a popular club, which has frequently hosted their internationally acclaimed countrymen, JOVM mainstays Boogarins.

The Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil-based psych rock act released their sixth album Noites Infinitas earlier this year, and the album’s material touches upon themes of anxiety, despair and unconventional paths towards hope, while living in our fractious and divisive world. The band released a handful of singles off the album, including two singles I’ve personally written about:

“Travel:” Brit Pop-like single centered around a motorik groove and a rousingly anthemic hook.
“I feel invisible:” a shimmering New Wave meets shoegaze-like track featuring shimmering guitars fed through reverb and delay pedals that captures a narrator, who’s been oppressed and hemmed in by a society that won’t allow him to live his life in a truthful fashion.

Recently, the members of WRY played a career-spanning live-streamed set for Febre Festival that featured my two favorite songs off their recently released album, as well as some other material. Check it out.

New Audio: Paris-born, New York-based Artist Lizzy Young Releases a Trippy Visual for “CooCoo Banana”

Originally from the Parisian suburbs, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lizzy Young spent a few years in Barcelona before eventually relocating to New York, where she’s currently based. The Paris-born, New York-based artist’s work draws from her own personal experiences while being influenced by Leonard Cohen, Louis Malle, Bette Davis, and Molly Nilsson.

Young’s full-length debut, the 10 song CooCoo Banana finds the Paris-born, New York-based artist crafting a refreshingly unique take on modern pop: sardonic humor-laced lyrics paired with lo-fi, bedroom recording — i.e, Casio keyboards and driving, dance floor friendly beats. Thematically, Coocoo Banana finds Young boldly diving into the beauty and ugliness of life. So far, Young has had her music played by BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 personalities Janice Long, Tom Ravenscroft, Jack Saunders, Cerys Matthews, and Steve Lamacq. Additionally, Tom Ravenscroft named her a Spotlight Artist and invited her to play a Selector Spotlight showcase.

CooCoo Banana’s latest single, album title track “CooCoo Banana” may remind some listeners of a narcoleptic take on Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl;” handclap-driven beats are paired with shimmering and tinny Casio synth arpeggios and Young’s self-deprecating vocals delivered with an ironic detachment. And while being a decidedly artsy take on pop, the song manages to accurately capture the mindset of a modern woman with all of her strengths and flews with a novelist’s attention to psychological realism.

Produced by GFY, the recently released video for “CooCoo Banana” is centered around a trippy and lo-fi concept: we see Young’s disembodied lips singing the song’s opening lines. We pull out of a lysergic, neon pink haze to see Young from the neck up singing the song in front of an equally neon pink background. As the song progresses, Young rubs a lotion that turns her entire face and hair into a fuzzy, electric rainbow before fading out. It’s trippy as hell.

New Video: Suzanna Teams Up with Ms. Maiko and Lil Mama on an Infectious Banger

Barcelona-based singer/songwriter, guitarist Suzanna Abellán earned a degree in Modern Music from ESMUC. Upon graduation, Abellán spent the early part of her musical career in a number of acclaimed local acts including Radio Malanga, Rootsmama, Tokyo 22, Funk All Stars, Future is Female and several others.

Barcelona-based singer/songwriter, guitarist Suzanna Abellán earned a degree in Modern Music from ESMUC. Upon graduation, Abellán spent the early part of her musical career in a number of acclaimed local acts including Radio Malanga, Rootsmama, Tokyo 22, Funk All Stars, Future is Female and several others.

In 2011, Abellán relocated to Morocco — and by 2014, she won a Meditel Morocco Music Award (MMMA) in Rock Fusion for “Ana Bikhir,” a collaboration with Amine Ayoubi. After a four year stint in Rabat, Morocco, Abellán returned to Barcelona. When she returned, she participated in in the televised talent competition La Voz, eventually becoming a semifinalist. La Voz led to increased visibility and a national profile.

Last year, Abellán, performing with the mononym Suzanna released her 12 song Genis Trani-produced full-length debut, SOULFYAH, which featured collaborations with Rapsusklei, Mr. Wilson, Mei Seme and others. Thematically centered around autobiographical stories, the album quickly established Abellán’s sound as a solo artist — a slick synthesis of reggae, trap and soul. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year, I wrote about the Missy Elliott-like “Paipaí,” a lush, sultry and futuristic song featuring skittering trap beats, strummed guitar, twinkling synths, and a sinuous bass line.

Abellán’s latest single, the Gerald Salvia-co-produced “Rara” is centered around skittering beats, a sinuous bass line, shimmering synths Abellán’s swaggering and self-assured delivery and reggae-tinged riddims. And while featuring guest spots from an eclectic set of collaborators — Calima, Spain-based vocalist Lil’ Mama, the Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain-born, Los Angeles-based keyboardist Diana Feria, D Tilo, contributing some turntablism and Argentinie bassist Fede Salgdo and Ms. Malko — the song sonically. is a slick and infectious synthesis of hip-hop, reggae and pop. Interestingly, while being an infectious, radio friendly banger, the song was inspired by the idea to create beats that would make a crowd move — but without having outdated sexist lyrics or tropes: in fact, the song is a swaggering feminist anthem promoting sisterhood and unity. (Sadly, that’s even more needed than ever.)

The recently released video for “Rara” features two teams of women playing soccer — but instead of competing against each other, they flip the competition on its head, recognizing that they can compete while also teaming up to achieve a larger goal through unity.

New Video: Rising Spanish Artist Suzanna Releases a Bold and Playful Visual for Infectious New Single “Paipái”

Suzanna Abellán is Barcelona-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, who earned a degree in Modern Music from ESMUC — and then spent the early part of her musical career in a number of acclaimed Barcelona-based bands including Radio Malanga, Rootsmama, Tokyo 22, Funk All Stars, Future is Female and a number of others.

In 2011, Abellán relocated to Morocco, and in 2014, the Spanish-born singer/songwriter and guitarist won a Rock Fusion Meditel Morocco Music Award (MMMA) for “Ana Bikhir,” a collaboration with Amine Ayoubi.  After spending four years in Rabat, Morocco, Abellán returned to Barcelona. Upon her return, she participated in the televised talent competition La Voz, eventually becoming a semifinalist. Participating on La Voz led to increased visibility and a national profile. Coincidentally, around the same time, Abellán felt an increased desire to write her own material, centered around her own experiences and feelings. 

Last year, Abellán, performing with the mononym Suzanna released her 12 song Genis Trani-produced full-length debut, SOULFYAH, which featured collaborations with Rapsusklei, Mr. Wilson, Mei Seme and others. Thematically centered around autobiographical stories, the album quickly established Abellán’s sound as a solo artist — a slick synthesis of reggae, trap and soul. “Paipái” the first bit of new material since the release of SOULFYAH further cements the Spanish singer/songwriter and guitarist’s sound. Featuring skittering and thumping beats, strummed guitar, twinkling synths, a sinuous bass line and an infectious hook paired with Abellán’s soulful and jazzy delivery, the song may remind some listeners of a reggae-tinged version of Missy Elliott’s work with Timbaland — in other words, lush, sultry and simultaneously futuristic and contemporary. Interestingly, the track is the first time Abellán sings lyrics completely in her native Spanish.

The song features a message of liberation and celebration in which its narrator learns to say no to anything that diminishes or interferes with her quest for liberation — including letting go of toxic and stagnant situations that don’t contribute anything to her, forging new paths and so on. And as the Spanish-based artist explains in a statement, the lyrics speak of deeply personal experiences ranging from disappointment and gratitude. 

Directed by Abellán, the recently released video for “Paipái” was filmed during COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines across the European Union. Inspired by the aesthetics of Carmen Miranda, specifically “Rebola a bola” in the 1941 film Weekend in Habana, the video was shot on a roughly 40 Euro budget, in which she used a caulk gun and a sewing machine to create her costumes, as items in her own home, including bed sheets, stuffed animals, her cat, plants and so on to create the video’s overall aesthetic — playful, sultry and boldly DIY. 

New Video: Joan Pérez-Villegas Releases a Gorgeous and Whimsical Composition from Debut Album

Joan Pérez-Villeagas is a Mallorca, Spain-born, Bern, Switzerland-based percussionist, composer, bandleader and producer, who began studying percussion at the Conservatory of Music and Dance in Palma when he was eight. When he turned 19, he relocated to Barcelona, where he wound up earning a Bachelor’s in Classical and Contemporary Percussion at ESMUC — and while in Barcelona, he developed a deep interest in jazz and traditional music that led him to earn his Masters in Jazz Composition under the tutelage of Lluís Vidal.

So far, the Spanish-born, Swiss-based percussionist, composer, bandleader and producer’s career has led him to a diverse array of projects across an eclectic and diverse range of styles and genres including chamber music, classical symphonies, pop, traditional music, jazz and scores for dance, theater and film. And during that same period, he’s managed to be rather busy: he’s studied with the Balearic Symphony Orchestra, been a guest artist at Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival (SICMF) 2016 in South Africa and at Festival Cistermusica 2016 in Portugal with his percussion duo Face two Phase, with which he won first prize at the fourth annual International Chamber Music Competition Cidade Alcobaça (CIMCA) in Portugal.

Blau Salvatge, the Pérez-Villegas and Marc Urrutia co-produced album is the Spanish-born, Swiss-based artist’s full-length debut as a composer and bandleader. The album, which was recorded over the course of two days with Alberto Pérez at Barcelona’s Sol de Sants Studio and collection of friends and fellow students including Pau Lligadas (bass), Josep Cordobés (drums), Ariadna Rodríguez (violin), Pau Vidal (flute), Toni Pineño (clarinet), Joan Mar Sauqué (trumpet), Max Salgado (French horn), Leire Corpas (guitar)  and of course, Pérez-Villegas (marimba and vibraphone) at Barcelona’s Sol de Sants Studio features six kaleidoscopic compositions that manage to be individually distinct and focused on a different compositional process while part of a larger, cohesive whole centered around some unconventional arrangements. 

The album’s first single “Vaivè” sets up the overall tone and sound of the forthcoming album: Featuring  a cinematic and mind-bending arrangement of French horn, baritone clarinet (a rarity for most contemporary jazz), trumpet, flute, bass, drums and vibraphone, the composition finds this remarkably soulful and thoughtful collection of young musicians darting, weaving, bopping and strutting through several different styles    and tempos including Birth of the Cool and Kind of Blue-era Miles Davis, Horace Silver, breezy Brazilian jazz, Spanish folk music and film and TV scores — while evoking contemplation, awe, wonder and childlike whimsy. 

Shot by Àngel Pérez, the recently released and intimately shot video captures the young Spanish-born, Swiss-based percussionist, composer, bandleader and producer with his cast of collaborators in the studio as they recorded the composition. 

Lyric Video: Mexico’s Glass Cristina Releases a Mesmerizing New Single

Led by founding members Bernardo Castilla and Lorenzo Engell, the rapidly rising Mexican electro pop act Glass Cristina was formed in Barcelona in 2016. Their five song, debut EP Circle Line, which featured attention grabbing singles like “La Reina De España” and “Dancing With the Devil” received attention in their native Mexico and elsewhere — despite the fact the material was unmastered and mixed at home, because the duo couldn’t afford to pay for professional mixing. But their debut EP established their sound: lush and atmospheric textures paired with soulful melodies while drawing from neo-sou, funk and electro pop. 

The band was on a hiatus when its founding members were living in different countries but in 2017, the band reconvened and expanded with the addition of Enzo Aquino (bass, synths, backing vocals), who has helped the band achieve a more organic live set. Last year the band performed at Sziget Festival with the likes of The 1975, Jungle, Twenty One Pilots, Foo Fighters and others. Along with that, the trio have been busy writing and recording their forthcoming album Nudity, Slated for a May 22, 2020 release through Vegan Caníbal Records, an imprint of Blanco y Negro, one of Spain’s most successful indie record labels.  Reportedly, the album is a result of a period of profound self-discovery through incessant work and composition — while showcasing the trio’s dedication to evolving their sound and identity. 

Nudity’s latest single, “Bali” is an atmospheric yet club friendly song centered around shimmering synths, blasts of Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a sinuous bass line, tweeter and woofer rocking beats an an enormous hook — and while arguably being one of the most hypnotic tracks on the album, it possesses a subtle jungle vibe that reminds me of early Doomsquad and others.  Interestingly, the song is a brooding ode to heartbreak and betrayal as the song essentially sets up a story about the swooning first pangs of a new relationship and its inevitable accompanying heartache. But instead of wallowing too deeply in bitterness, the song is meant to inspire the listener to get up and to dance, dance, dance it all away. 

The recently released and incredibly cinematic lyric video for “Bali” is fittingly set on Bali and features two masked figures dancing seductively in lush and verdant forests — and the result is something truly mesmerizing, 

New Video: The Dream Syndicate Releases a Hallucinogenic Visual for Sprawling and Mind-Bending “The Regulator”

Throughout the course of last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Los Angeles-based psych rock act The Dream Syndicate. The act, which is currently comprised of founding members Steve Wynn (guitars, vocals), a critically applauded singer/songwriter and solo artist and Dennis Duck (drums), along with the band’s most recent members Mark Walton (bass) and Jason Victor (guitar) can trace its origins back to the early ’80s. At the time Wynn along with fellow Dream Syndicate founding member Kendra Smith and future True West members Russ Tolman and Gavin Blair founded and played in one of  Davis, CA’s first New Wave bands — The Suspects, Wynn also recorded a single with another band 15 Minutes, which featured members of Alternate Learning. 

After returning to his hometown,. Wynn spent a brief stint researching in another local upstart band, Goat Deity with future Wednesday Week members Kelly and Kristi Callan. And while with Goat Deity, Wynn met Karl Precoda, who had answered an ad seeking a bassist. The duo of Wynn and Precoda started a new band with Precoda switching to guitar.  Wynn’s college pal and former bandmate Smith, along with Duck, who was then a member of Pasadena-based act Human Hands joined the band, completing The Dream Syndicate’s first lineup. (Interestingly, as the story goes, Duck suggested the band’s name as a reference to Tony Conrad’s early 1960s New York-based experimental ensemble, best known as the Theatre of Eternal Music, which featured John Cale.)

With the release of their Paul B. Cutler-produced debut EP, The Dream Syndicate received attention locally for a sound influenced by The Velvet Underground, Neil Young and Television, with aggressively long, feedback-filled improvisations. In 1982, The Dream Syndicate signed to Slash Records subsidiary Ruby Records, who released the band’s 1982 full-length debut, the attention-grabbing and influential Days of Wine and Roses. Building upon a growing profile. Rough Trade Records released Days of Wine and Roses’ lead single “Tell Me When It’s Over” as the A-side of a UK EP, which included a live cover of Neil Young’s “Mr. Soul” that was released in early 1983. Shortly, after that Smith left the band and joined the David Roback (best known for his work in Mazzy Star) in Opal. Smith was released by David Provost.

Their Sandy Pearlman-produced sophomore effort Medicine Show was recorded and released through A&M Records in 1984 — and as a result of being on a major label, the band opened for R.E.M. and U2. Attempting to build on a growing profile, the members of the band released a five song EP This Is Not The New Dream Syndicate Album . . . Live!, which was noteworthy as it was the last recorded effort to feature Precoda, who left soon after to pursue a career in screenwriting — and it was the first to feature Mark Walton on bass. The EP’s commercial failure led to the band’s first breakup — although a temporary one. The band was then dropped by A&M Records after the label rejected the band’s demo for “Slide Away.”

During the band’s first break up, Wynn along with Green on Red’s Dan Stuart wrote and recorded 10 songs with Duck and a number of other musicians, which was released by A&M Records in 1985 as Danny and Dusty’s The Lost Weekend. After the release of Lost Weekend, Wynn, Duck and Walton teamed up with Paul B. Cutler to form a then-newly reunited iteration of The Dream Syndicate that recorded two full-length studio albums — 1986’s Cutler-produced Out of the Grey and 1988’s Elliot Mazer-produced Ghost Stories. The band recorded a live album Live at Raji‘s which was recorded in 1988 before the release of Ghost Stories but released afterward.

The band broke up for the second time in 1989 — and a batch of previously unreleased material was released that included 3½ (The Lost Tapes: 1985-1988), a compilation of studio sessions and The Day Before Wine and Roses, a live KPFK radio session, recorded just before the release of the band’s applauded debut album were released. After the breakup,  Walton went on to play bass in the Continental Drifters while Wynn went on to become an acclaimed singer/songwriter, who restlessly explored a variety of different styles and sounds while leading a number of disparate projects including Steve Wynn and The Miracle 3, The Baseball Project and others.

Wynn led a reunited Dream Syndicate to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their full-length debut that featured Walton, Duck and Jason Victor, Wynn’s longtime Steve Wynn and The Miracle 3 guitarist at an appearance at 2012’s Festival BAM in Barcelona Spain. The reunited band went on to play a handful of other live sets, including two 2013 Paisley Underground reunion shows that included The Bangles, The Three O’Clock and Rain Parade. September 2014 saw the band playing a handful of shows in which they played their first two albums in their complete entirety — and those shows marked the band’s first shows in the Southeast in almost 30 years.  Between their first reunion show and 2017, the band played more than 50 shows together.

2017’s How Did I Find Myself Here was the band’s first reunion-era effort and the band’s fifth full-length album overall. Recorded at Montrose Studios, the album featured a lineup of Wynn. Walton, Duck, Victor and Chris Cacavas (keys) with Kendra Smith contributing lyrics and vocals to the album’s final track “Kendra’s Dream.” The band closed out that year with three songs, which landed on the 3 x 4 compilation, a collection of tracks that featured new material from their Paisley Underground counterparts — the aforementioned The Bangles, The Three O’Clock and Rain Parade with each of the four bands also covering songs by the other bands. 

Last year saw the release of the John Agnello and The Dream Syndicate co-produced These Times, the band’s second reunion-era effort and sixth overall. Interestingly, the album’s material is a noticeable sonic departure for the band.  “When I was writing the songs for the new album I was pretty obsessed with Donuts by J-Dilla,” the band’s Steve Wynn explained. “I loved the way that he approached record making as a DJ, a crate-digger, a music fan wanting to lay out all of his favorite music, twist and turn the results until he made them into his own. I was messing around with step sequencers, drum machines, loops—anything to take me out of my usual way of writing and try to feel as though I was working on a compilation rather than ‘more of the same.’ You might not automatically put The Dream Syndicate and J-Dilla in the same sentence, but I hear that album when I hear our new one.” Additionally, Wynn changed his process for writing lyrics. Instead of the song’s sound being dictated by previously written lyrics, he wrote all of the album’s lyrics after the band finished instrumental tracking, so that the lyrics were influenced by the sounds being played. 

Slated for an April 10, 2020 release through Anti- Records, The Dream Syndicate’s third reunion-era album and seventh overall The Universe Inside will reportedly be one of the most mind-bending efforts they’ve released to date — and for the first time in their lengthy history, every song on the album is a group songwriting effort. Musically, the material draws from each individual member’s eclectic interests and passions — Dennis Duck’s love and knowledge of European avant garde music, Jason Victor’s love of 70s prog rock, Mark Walton’s experience in Southern-friend music collectives, Chris Cacavas’ interest in sound manipulation and Wynn’s love of 70s jazz fusion. Recorded in one session, the band recorded 80 continuous minutes of soundscapes. “All we added was air,” Wynn explained. So, aside from vocals, horns and a touch of percussion here and there, every instrument is recorded live as it happened. 

Interestingly, the album’s first single is the sprawling and epic “The Regulator.” Clocking in at just under 21 minutes, the track sonically is a a sort of seamless synthesis of Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson-era Miles Davis, motorik groove-driven prog rock and 60s psych rock as the track features droning eclectic sitar played by The Long Ryders’ Stephen McCarthy, a sinuous bass line, soulful sax flourishes by Butcher Brown’s Marcus Tenney, Wynn’s vocals fed through vocoder and ghostly effects buried within the trippy and funky mix. 

“’The Regulator’ is a microcosm of the entire record,” Wynn explains in press notes. “It was just a formless, trippy mass as we all started playing together. There was an early 70’s drum machine—a Maestro Rhythm King, the same model used on There’s A Riot Goin’ On—with Dennis locking in and setting the pace. Stephen grabbed an electric sitar because it was the first thing he saw. Jason and I were kicking pedals on like lab monkeys in a laboratory and Mark was a lightning rod, uniting all of those elements into one tough groove. I collected a list of random, unconnected lyric ideas that I kept on my phone. I tried them all out in random order in my home studio just to see how they would feel and that one-take test run is the vocal you hear! There’s just so much lightning-in-a-jar, first take excitement on this record.”

Directed by David Daglish, the recently released video for “The Regulator” is a psychedelic journey through New York that’s equal parts panoramic, somnambulistic, political and hallucinogenic. Throughout, the video accurately captures the city’s frenetic and maddening energy, its lunatics and crackpots, its bold dreamers and hustlers, its sublime beauty and its gritty soul — it’s essentially a microcosm of our world.