Fake Shape is an emerging Hamilton Ontario-based indie quintet that formed back in 2018. Each of the band’s five musicians offer their own unique aesthetic into the mix — and as a result, their sound features elements of indie rock, pop, ambient electronica and others. Over the past few months, the band has been holed up at Hamilton’s Fort Rose Studios writing and recording material that would eventually comprise their forthcoming debut EP Night Swim.
“It’s Easy,” Night Swim‘s first single features an expansive song structure begins with an ambient and brooding intro before quickly morphing to swaggering prog rock and prog jazz-inspired pop centered around plaintive and expressive vocals, shimmering and atmospheric synths arpeggios, slashing guitars, a sinuous bass line and an infectious hook. And while recalling Radiohead and JOVM mainstays Bells Atlas and Milagres, the song drifts and effortlessly glides through contrasting mindsets and feelings, accurately capturing feelings of dread, unease and uncertainty with a psychologically precise attention to detail/
Los Angeles-based duo Carrousel — Joel Piedt and Sharon Piedt — have developed a reputation for crafting a unique sound that draws from a broad and eclectic array of genres and styles including blues, psych rock, shoegaze and New Wave, centered around pop melodies. 2020 looks to be a very busy year for the members of Carrousel: they released the I Wasn’t Well EP earlier this year, and their full-length album Magnificent Desolation is slated for release this Spring.
Now, as you may recall, I Wasn’t Well’s lead single, the brooding “Psychobabble Drama” managed to recall Primal Scream, Portishead, Garbage and The xx. Inspired by Joel Piedt’s recurring nightmares, the song possessed a feverish and anxious quality, which was emphasized through the song’s anthemic hooks, shimmering synth arpeggios, industrial clang and clatter, stuttering beats and Sharon Piedt’s plaintive vocals. Interestingly, I Wasn’t Well’s second and latest single “A Solitary Soul” is an expansive and genre-defying song that features elements of shoegaze, contemporary R&B and pop and experimental pop in a way that brings Bells Atlas, Hearts Hearts and others to mind.
Directed and shot entirely on iPhones by the member of Carrousel, the recently released video for “A Solitary Soul” managed to “spark something creativity” for them. We follow the duo in ’50s-styled sci-fi spacesuits, as lost aliens exploring earth — at one point, they’re wandering the same location used for some of Star Wars’ famous Tatooine scenes. As a result, the the video manages to feel like an old-school space invasion, sci-fi movie — but with a level of absurdity to it.
Beiju is an up-and-coming French-American musician, who splits her time between New York and Paris. And as you may recall, earlier this year, I wrote about the Bells Atlas and Hiatus Kaiyote-like “Lost at the Beach,” a nostalgia-tinged track that was inspired by a weekend trip to the Rockaway with friends. Her latest single “Let’s Go Home” further establishes the emerging pop artist’s unique sound and approach: much like it’s predecessor, the track features Beiju’s alluring vocals floating over a glitchy production featuring stuttering beats, wobbling low end, synth laser blasts — but interestingly enough the song is a straightforward and coquettish come hither, about meeting someone you like at a party and wanting to go back home with them.
Featuring members of Oslo, Norway‘s jazz, indie, art rock and folk scenes, the Norwegian Grammy-winning septet The Switch formed back in 2010. They started out playing fairly straightforward pop rock with the thought that Norway — and Scandinavia in general — produced an over-abundance of eclectic, heavily hyphenated music. Eventually, their material became more forward-thinking and ambitious.
Their debut album, 2014’s Big If was a meditation on psych pop. Their sophomore album, 2015’s B for the Beast was an atmospheric, prog rock-inspired homage to their hometown. We’re Fooling No One, also released in 2015 found the band making forays into more painterly and improvised pop. Their next effort, The Switch Album found the Norwegian septet crafting a classic pop-rock-like sound — and it was their most successful album to date: it was listed on the Best Albums List of several Norwegian newspapers, before eventually winning a Norwegian Grammy (a Spelleman) in the Indie Music category.
Slated for a September 27, 2019 release, the acclaimed Norwegian act’s fifth album Birds of Paradise as the band’s Thomas Sagbråten says in press notes finds the band trying to “make a musical universe with slightly different laws of nature than real life. A bit less gravitation. The air is thicker. It’s hyper realistic but also unreal.” Interestingly, the album’s latest — and last official — single “Spring in the Forest of Time” is one Hiatus Kaiyote and Bells Atlas-like off kilter neo-soul, one part jazz fusion, one part Steely Dan-like AM radio rock: you’ll hear heavily arpeggiated synths, slashing guitars, twinkling keys, a bluesy guitar solo reminiscent of “Reelin’ in the Years,” and off-kilter syncopation held together by ethereal lead vocals and harmonizing. Centered around an adventurous and mischievous arrangement, the new single will further cement their reputation for crafting songs that are genre-defying yet hook driven, loose and jam-like yet incredibly tight.
Beiju is an up-and-coming French-American musician, who splits her time between New York and Paris. Her latest single “Lost at the Beach” is centered around the French-American musician’s sultry, jazz-like inflection gliding over a glitchy and brooding production consisting of jagged pulses of arpeggiated synths and off-kilter syncopation. And while sonically bearing a resemblance to JOVM mainstays Bells Atlas and the acclaimed Hiatus Kaiyote, the song manages to possesses a breezy nostalgia.
The song as Beiju says in press notes is inspired by and reflects upon a recent weekend at the Rockaways with two of her friends. “Like many people, I can get caught up and anxious in such an intense urban environment as New York,” Beiju explains. “Getting back to basics by being with loved ones, playing music for pure enjoyment, and being carefree in the ocean made us feel gratitude for aspects of life, which we sometimes take for granted. That feeling of being reminded and aware is one to which I wanted to hold on and put into a song.”
Last month, I wrote about the up-and-coming Brooklyn-based indie pop act Roofers Union, and as you may recall, with the release of their critically applauded single “Karate,” the act began to receive attention across the blogosphere for meshing shimmering disco-tinged pop with material that thematically focuses on millennial ennui. Their last single “Tortugas” was a decidedly uptempo and breezy track that reminded me of Kid A and Hail to the Thief-era Radiohead.
Interestingly, their latest single “Friends” is centered around shuffling drums, a sinuous groove, and quick chord and tempo changes that finds the band sonically drawing from the trippy neo-soul of Hiatus Kaiyote and JOVM mainstays Bells Atlas while evoking the complex push and pull dynamics of friendship. The song also finds vocalist T.C. Tyge delivering lyrics that are playful yet direct; but much like its immediate predecessor, the song seethes with the contradictory feelings of resentment and appreciation.
“‘Friends’ is about reconciling the practical advice of a loved one with the intangible tangle of depression,” Roofers Union’s T.C. Tyge explains in press notes. “Often we are told things we don’t like to hear, or that go against our intuition about how to deal with our own feelings, but nevertheless can flatten a cognitive tower of troubles onto a manageable 2D surface. We usually need an outside perspective to get down to the concrete brass tax [sic] of what can be done about a situation. Hence, ‘You gotta relax if you wanna hang.'”
Last month, I wrote about Brijean Murphy, a Los Angeles-born, Oakland-based percussionist, who has made a name for herself as a highly-sought after touring musician with stints in the touring bands of Toro Y Moi, U.S. Girls and Poolside, as well as several others. Interestingly, Murphy can trace the origins of her musical career to her childhood — Murphy’s father, Patrick is a percussionist and engineer, who taught a young Brijean her first drum patterns on a pair of congas that she inherited from the late Trinidadian steel pan drum legend Vince Charles.
The Los Angeles-born, Oakland-based percussionist managed to find some free time to collaborate with Doug Stuart, a producer, who shares a background as a jazz and pop session musician, who has worked with JOVM mainstays Bells Atlas, Meerna, Luke Temple, Jay Stone and others. Written and recorded in marathon sessions at their intimate home studio, wedged between rarely over-lapping tour schedules, the duo formed BRIJEAN, a project that meshes Murphy’s Latin jazz and soul upbringing with Murphy’s 70s disco and 90s house-inspired production.
Slated for a June 28, 2019 through Native Cat Recordings, BRIJEAN’s debut effort, WALKIE TALKIE EP finds Murphy stepping out into the spotlight as a solo artist in her own right. Now, as you may recall, the slickly produced “Show and Tell” was centered around a sinuous and propulsive bass line, glistening chimes, shimmering synths, Latin soul percussion, dreamily delivered vocals singing metaphysical-leaning lyrics, and a sleek hook within an expansive and trippy arrangement that nods at Roy Ayers and classic house. The EP’s latest single, the dance floor friendly EP title track “Walkie Talkie” features a sinuous, 90s house music-influenced production consisting of shimmering arpeggiated keys, tweeter and woofer rocking low-end and Latin percussion — and unsurprisingly, the song brings Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles and Between Two Selves-era Octo Octa to mind, complete with a coquettish air.
Brijean Murphy is an Los Angeles-born, Oakland-based percussionist, who has made a name for herself as a highly-sought after touring musician with stints in the touring bands of Toro Y Moi, U.S. Girls and Poolside, as well as several others — and as the story goes, Murphy can trace the origins of her musical career to her childhood. Murphy’s father, Patrick Murphy is a percussionist and engineer, who taught a young Brijean her first patterns on a pair of congas that she inherited from the late Trinidadian steel pan drum legend Vince Charles.
During a very busy tour schedule, the Los Angeles-born, Oakland-based percussionist managed to find some free time to collaborate with Doug Stuart, a producer, who shares a background as a jazz and pop sessions musician, who has worked with JOVM mainstays Bells Atlas, Meerna, Luke Temple, Jay Stone and others. Written and recorded in marathon sessions at their intimate home studio, wedged between rarely over-lapping tour schedules, the duo formed BRIJEAN, a project that meshes Murphy’s Latin jazz and soul upbringing with Murphy’s 70s disco and 90s house-inspired production.
Slated for a June 28, 2019 through Native Cat Recordings, BRIJEAN’s debut effort, WALKIE TALKIE EP finds Murphy stepping out into the spotlight. Interestingly, the EP’s latest single, the slickly produced, Sunday afternoon disco soul-like “Show and Tell” is centered around a sinuous and propulsive bass line, glistening chimes, shimmering synths, Latin soul percussion, dreamily delivered vocals singing metaphysical-leaning lyrics, and a sleek hook within an expansive and trippy arrangement that nods at Roy Ayers and classic house.
Co-directed by Sarah Strunin and Brijean Murphy, the recently released video is a surrealistic fever dream that opens with an older gentleman using an elliptical machine in candlelit suburban-like living room — while watching a seemingly old TV show that features Murphy singing and swaying along to the song. A woman (presumably his wife or a relation) walks into the room, turn son the light and begins reading a book while drinking tea. The woman continues reading by the flickering light of the TV screen. A disco ball appears out of nowhere, which turns the room into an impromptu dance floor. It’s trippy, mischievous, downright bizarre and memorable.
I’ve written quite a bit about the Oakland, CA-based futuristic soul act and JOVM mainstays Bells Atlas over the past few years, and as you may may recall, the act which is comprised of Derek Barber (guitar) Geneva Harrison (drums, percussion, keys) Sandra Lawson-Ndu (vocals, percussion, keys) and Doug Stuart (bass, vocals, keys) have received attention across the blogosphere for a lush, kaleidoscopic sound that draws from indie rock, 90s R&B, Afro-pop, Afro-futurism, jazz, electro pop and experimental pop. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the act has opened for Hiatus Kaiyote, BADBADNOTGOOD, Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, W. Kamau Bell, Angelique Kidjo and others, as well as Bermuda Triangle, the side project of Alabama Shakes‘ Brittany Howard. Along with that, they spent 2016 as the touring band for NPR’s Snap Judgement.
Last year, the act released the SALT AND SOAP EP, an effort inspired by cleansing rituals and preservation methods, with the understanding that when you’re not accustomed to releasing your most personal stories, the idea is then to take a moment to prepare for a shift — for a new way of being open. Interestingly, during the creative process for the EP and their full-length effort the mystic, which is slated for release later this week, the band stumbled upon a new songwriting process that incorporated the use of sampling grainy phone memo recordings of Geneva Harrison’s drumming as the bedrock of the material.
With the writing and recording sessions focusing on spontaneity and even humor, the band aimed to craft music that managed to be cinematic yet deeply personal — all while allowing room to highlight each member’s individual skills and talent within the larger whole. Narratively and thematically, the album is a sci-fi fantasy of two first generation Nigerian-American women coming to terms with a mental health diagnosis — and at the same time, a universal exploration of how we make sense of reality. “It’s about a truth seeker and a skeptic trying to make sense of what’s mystical and what’s clinical,” the band’s Sandra Lawson-Ndu says in press notes. “The listener is made to consider the possibility of magic. Is it possible, for instance, that someone who navigates the world differently may have a deeper understanding of the universe? The mystic is a spectrum of deep emotionality, impulse, and even humour; a tool to explore the full dimension of our reality.” the mystic‘s latest single is the slow-burning and ethereal “Final Ceiling.” Centered around Lawson-Ndu’s dreamy cooing, shimmering synths and guitar and gently propulsive drumming, “Final Ceiling” evokes a hazy yet vividly remembered dream that lingers in your consciousness for hours.
The Oakland-based JOVM mainstays will be touring to support the mystic throughout May and June, and the tour includes a June 1, 2019 stop at C’mon Everybody. Check out the tour dates below.
5.9 Los Angeles, CA The Satellite 5.10 The Wayfarer Costa Mesa, CA 5.11 Starline Social Club Oakland, CA 5.16 Doug Fir Lounge Portland, OR 5.17 Fisherman’s Village Festival Everett, WA 5.18 Rhythm and Rye Olympia, WA 5.19 The Auditorium Seattle, WA 5.23 BSP Kingston Brooklyn, NYC 5.24 Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar Nashua, NH 5.25 The Diving Bell Social Club Montreal, CA 5.26 Columbus Theatre Providence, RI 5.28 State House New Haven, CT 5.30 Milkboy Philadelphia, PA 5.31 Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House Washington, DC 6.1 C’mon Everybody Brooklyn, NYC