Tag: Berlin Germany

New Audio: Meshell Ndegeocello Releases a Folksy Cover of Force MD’s “Tender Love”

Born Michelle Lynn Johnson to US Army Sergeant Major Jacques Johnson, a saxophonist and Helen Johnson, a health care work, the Berlin, Germany-born, American-based singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello was raised in Washington, DC where she attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Oxon Hill High School. When she turned 17, she adopted the name Meshell Ndegeocello, with the surname, as she has explained meaning “free like a bird in Swahili.”

In the late 80s, Ndedgeocello gigged around DC’s go-go circuit, playing with bands like Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence before unsuccessfully trying out for Living Colour’s bassist spot, after Muzz Skillings left the band. Deciding to go solo, Ndegeocello, has the distinction of being Madonna’s Maverick Records first signings and while achieving a fair amount of commercial success. Her collaborative cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp peaked at #3 on the Billboard Charts in 1994 and “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” peaked at #73 later that year. Adding to a rapidly rising profile, she collaborated with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a track for Red Hot Organization’s AIDS awareness, tribute compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which was named Time Magazine’s “Album of the Year.”  Her cover of Bill Withers’ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)” was a #1 Dance Hit in 1996 and was briefly featured in the major motion picture Jerry Maguire, and she landed Dance Top 20 hits with “Earth,” “Leviticus: Faggot,” and “Stay.” Along with that she collaborated with Madonna, playing bass on “I’d Rather Be Your Lover,” and contributing a verse at the last minute, after Tupac Shakur had criminal charges filed against him. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping “Never Miss the Water,” a single that landed #1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Charts and peaked at #36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with the likes of Basement Jaxx, Indigo Girls, Scritti Politti, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissette and Zap Mama.
Ndeogecello has also had her music featured in the soundtracks of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Lost & Delirious, Batman & Robin, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Talk to Me, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, The Best Man, Higher Learning, Down in the Delta, The Hurricane, Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom and Soul Men.

Interestingly, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feat of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromisingly, iconoclastic and unique artists of the past 25 years — and she’s been credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul movement, thanks in part to a genre defying and difficult to pigeonhole sound that draws from hip-hop, classic soul, rock, reggae, jazz and singer/songwriter pop. Adding to that iconoclastic nature, Ndegeocello has written and composed a musical influenced by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, titled Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin and she released a gorgeous tribute album to Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others.

The renowned bassist, singer/songwriter and rapper’s latest album Ventriloquism is slated for a March 16, 2018 release and the album will feature covers of songs by TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, all of which have been influential to Ndeogeocello’s work — but with a unique take. The album’s first single, her cover of Force MD’s smash hit “Tender Love,” finds Ndegeocello turning the slow-burning 80s piano ballad classic into a folksy, Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac track, complete with shuffling drumming, twinkling Fender Rhodes and harmonica. In my mind, what makes Ndegeocello’s cover truly fascinating is that she manages to completely eschew the 80s pop ballad cheesiness of the song, which makes it endearing 30 years after its release but without doing away with the song’s earnestness — while pointing out that the song manages to possess something that listeners far removed from the song’s initial release can grasp and connect to on a very visceral level. That’s what separates the great, timeless songs from the countless songs that will be forgotten 6 months or more after they’ve been released.  And on another level, the song will continue the renowned and iconoclastic Ndegeocello’s commentary on society’s narrow expectations of what black music should sound and be like.

Live Footage: Alice Phoebe Lou Performing the Oscar-Shortlisted Song “She” in Berlin

Alice Phoebe Lou is a Cape Town, South Africa-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has developed a reputation for a fiercely independent, almost punk rock-like DIY approach to her ethereal indie folk music. Although her parents were documentary filmmakers, Lou took piano lessons as a child and then as a teenager, taught herself to play guitar. As the story goes, when the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was 16, she spent a summer vacation visiting her aunt in Paris. Armed with an acoustic guitar, the young singer/songwriter met a number of buskers and other street performers — some who taught her poi dancing.

Upon graduation, Lou went to Europe — first landing in Amsterdam, where she made money as a poi dancer, before relocating to Berlin, where she became a popular busker, performing interpretations of popular songs and her own original material, and eventually developing her own unique sound.  With the release of her 2014 self-released debut EP Momentum, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist began receiving international attention — and as a result, she spent the following year performing at a number of TED events in London and Berlin, as well as Exponential Medicine.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Lou released her critically applauded, 2016 full-length debut Orbit, which saw her garner a nomination for Best Female Artist at that year’s German Critics’ Choice Awards, as well as a set at the 27th Annual Conference for the Professional Business Women of California, which featured keynote speakers Venus Williams, Judy Smith, and Memory Banda. Additionally, Lou spent much of 2016 on the road, touring to support her debut effort, sharing bills with Sixto Rodriguez, Boy & Bear, Allen Stone and Crystal Fighters. During the course of that year, she played three multimedia sold out events at the Berlin Planetarium — and by demand, she added two additional planetarium shows to her 2017 tour itinerary.

Along with the Berlin Planetarium shows, Lou saw a live version of “She” with the live performance video, shot during two different Berlin area shows going viral — and as of this post, the video has received over 2.5 million YouTube streams. Interestingly, the song is also featured in the major motion picture Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story , with the song recently being shortlisted for an Oscar for Best Original Song. Adding to an incredible run of critical success, Lou released her latest EP, Sola at the end of last year.

As for “She,” the song will further cement the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based artist’s reputation for her ethereal and tender soprano — but in this case, paired around what may be the most shoegazer rock-like arrangement, she’s ever produced as the song features looping and shimmering guitar chords, thundering and tribal-like drumming,  gently swirling electronics and an anthemic hook. And while at points the song is reminiscent of the likes of Wolf Alice, Lightfoils and others, it possesses a restless longing at its core.

A studio version of “She” is slated for a February 23, 2018 release, and after the single’s release, Lou will embark on a international tour that will include a Stateside run. And a new album is currently in the works, too.

 
 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Pop Artist Alice Merton Pairs Her Swaggering Anthemic and Soulful Debut Single with Slick and Symbolic Visuals

Alice Merton is a Canadian-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, who has lived a rather nomadic life, as she was raised in Canada, finished high school in Germany and then with the rest of her family, relocated to England. Of course, music was a major part of her life, no matter where on Earth she was; she started taking classical piano lessons when she was five and by the time she was nine, she was introduced to vocal training. As the story goes, after spending the better part of a decade being classically trained, Merton discovered contemporary songwriting during one of her high school courses in Germany. And from that point forward, she went on to study songwriting and began pursuing her dream of becoming a professional singer/songwriter.

Naturally, while in school Merton would up working with a number or producers on projects and as you can imagine, finding the right producer, who can both compliment and challenge a singer/songwriter as a true collaborator is a rarity. And when she met Berlin-based producer Nicolas Rebscher, Merton quickly recognized that she finally found her musical match; in fact, the duo have managed to specialize in an anachronistic sound in which they’ve paired Merton’s soulful, pop belter vocals with slick production featuring analog synthesizers, classic soul music-inspired instrumentation while being rooted in hook driven, contemporary songwriting.  

Merton’s swaggering and bluesy debut single “No Roots,” features Merton’s self-assured and soulful pop belter vocals paired with a Rebscher production that features enormous, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a sinuous bass line, brief blasts of funk guitar, squiggly blasts of synths and a rousingly anthemic hook that nods at Amy Winehouse, Lorde, Taylor Swift and others but while managing to be emotionally ambivalent as the song’s narrator simultaneously expresses a wizened and resilient spirit, there’s an underlying and visceral ache based on personal experiences in which the narrator has never belonged to one place and had a life frequently thrown in disarray. 

Already “No Roots” has won the up-and-coming Merton an immense amount of attention both across the European Union and the States and elsewhere, as the song has already seen millions of streams on Spotify and YouTube, and has recently been added to the playlists of several Stateside Adult Alternative Album radio stations, including stations in Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, San Francisco, Minneapolis, the NYC area, as well as Sirius Alt Nation. Based on the incredible response the single has received, along with her recent signing to Mom + Pop Music, I suspect that we’ll be hearing more from the up-and-coming artist in 2018. 

Directed by Stolarow, the recently released video for “No Roots” is a slickly shot video focusing on a pensive yet proud Merton as she struts and sings the song in modern yet somewhat chilly apartment that looks decidedly European to me — at some point, you’ll see a man grab her and snatch her away, much like how she felt as a child, moving from one place to another. 

Throughout the course of the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about Geowulf, a dream pop duo, comprised of Noosa, Australia-born, longtime friends, Star Kendrick and Toma Benjamin. And although the duo currently split their time between London, UKGothenburg, Sweden, Berlin, Germany and Australia, the duo have known each other since the were teenagers; but their musical collaboration began in earnest when Kendrick, whose parents were also musicians, began to serious pursue music a few years ago and enlisted the help of Benjamin to flesh out her earliest demos.

After a string of successful, critically applauded singles including “Saltwater,” a track that received over 1 million Spotify streams and reached Hype Machine‘s top ten before breaking at #4 on Spotify’s US Viral Charts,  “Don’t Talk About You,” which seemed to channel Mazzy Star covering  Fleetwood Mac but with a lovelorn ache, and the Phil Spector meets Still Corners “Drink Too Much” among others, the critically applauded blogosphere darlings recently announced that their highly-anticipated Duncan Mills-produced full-length debut Great Big Blue is slated for a February 16, 2018 release through 37 Adventures Records. Along with that they released their latest single, the first official single from the forthcoming album, the shuffling, 60s girl group pop-like single “Hideaway,” which pairs Kendrick’s sultry cooing with a lushly layered production featuring jangling guitar chords, shimmering strings, a propulsive backbeat and soaring hooks. Unsurprisingly, there’s a careful and deliberate attention to craft that brings to mind the aforementioned Phil Spector but with subtle, modern flourishes.

Much like the duo’s previously released singles, the duo’s latest single focuses on the complications, frustrations and aches of romantic relationships — in this case, as the duo notes, “The song is about feeling like you’ve been completely transparent with someone only to realize they haven’t truly let you in.” And as a result, the song bristles with a bitter sense of betrayal and confusion underneath the gleaming and upbeat surface.

New Video: Up-and-Coming, Swedish-born Producer SQRD Releases Swooning and Nostalgic Visuals for New Single “Would Run Wild”

With the release of his critically acclaimed 2016 EP Gold, the up-and-coming Swedish-born, electronic music producer and electronic music artist SQRD, who splits his time between Berlin and Stockholm received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for a sound that effortlessly blended lo-fi, analog electronics within textured and nuanced compositions. Interestingly, over the past few years, the up-and-coming producer has spent his time honing and refining his sound, and his latest single “Would Run Wild” finds the Swedish-born producer leaning towards an industrial-leaning production as layers of propulsive, arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and metallic clang and clatter and razor sharp yet infectious hook are paired with heavily vocodered vocals. While simultaneously nodding at classic, 80s synth pop (i.e., Depeche Mode), early hip-hop, and contemporary electro pop (i.e., Summer Heart, Washed Out and others), the song swoons with a nostalgic yearning for a past just out of reach. 

Directed by Kevin Vinh Doan, the trippy and gorgeously shot,recently released video for “Would Run Wild” follows a young woman, who’s longing for an urgent and passionate love, which ends with the presumed overdose of her lover. And throughout the video, she encounters lingering ghosts and memories within every single step. 

The Limiñanas are a Perpignan, France-based duo, who have developed a reputation as one of France’s most renowned psych rock acts — and for a sound that comfortably straddles the boundaries of psych rock, shoegaze and and yé-yé, as their songs typically feature arrangements rooted around fuzzy, distorted power chords, reverb heavy hooks and effortlessly cool vocals. And while clearly being indebted to 60s guitar pop and psych rock, the duo manage to capture something quintessentially French.

Now, as you may recall, the duo’s Istanbul Is Sleepy EP was initially recorded at the duo’s home studio and finished at Anton Newcombe‘s Berlin-based studio, and unsurprisingly, the EP’s title track and first single “Istanbul Is Sleepy” found the French duo collaborating with the The Brian Jonestown Massacre founder and frontman, who contributed both his imitable vocals and guitar to a scuzzy, garage rock-like track with the sort of underlying menace reminiscent of The Black Angels — although interestingly enough, Newcombe was reportedly inspired by Rain-era The Cult.

As the members of The Limiñanas recall in press notes, the collaboration can trace its origins to last year, when Mojo Magazine asked them to contribute a track to a Kinks tribute compilation. “We chose ‘Two Sisters,’” Lionel explains in press notes. “Marie and I were thinking for the vocal part, it would be great to approach Anton Newcombe, having opened for The Brian Jonestown Massacre at Le Trianon in Paris. The work began like that. We had an album to record and we decided to finish it with him. During the Christmas week we took our demos, flew to Berlin and recorded at Anton’s studio. Six days later we had a finished album.”

The French psych rock duo’s latest single “Shadow People” is a jangling, slow-burning and almost meditative track with a hazy and dreamy hook that features a guest spot from French actress Emmanuelle Seigner. As Lionel explains in press notes, “The shadow people are an American myth, they are described as furtive apparitions, comparable to ghosts observable from the corner of the eye. These ‘spirits’ accompany throughout your all life, a sort of paranormal glue stuck to you . . . Emmanuelle came to visit us in the South of France, and we asked her to sing ‘Shadow People’ with Renaud Picard, the singer from Hair and the Iotas. We recorded it in just a few minutes over an afternoon…”.

Directed by frequent collaborator Aurelian Richter, the recently released video features the members of The Limiñanas, along with Emmanuelle Seigner, Renaud Picard, and Foulke de Boixo, who made a prominent appearance in the “Istanbul Is Sleepy” video. Shot in and around The Limiñanas’ Cabestany, France, Christmas-light strewn studio, the video manages to consist of a dichotomy between brilliant, summery light and murky shadow — with footage of Emmanuelle Seigner alternating between Super 8 color film-like sequences in a field and sultry, film noir-like sequences of Seigner strutting and grooving to the song, while Picard in night googles in set in the dark with the band. Naturally, the song continues the band’s reputation for pairing their material with bold and hazily lysergic visuals; but interestingly enough, the video comes on the heels of the duo announcing that their forthcoming full-length effort, Twisting the Shadow People is slated for a January 19, 2018 release through Because Music — and of course, the album will include “Shadow People,” from which the album derives its title.

 

 

 

New Audio: The Limiñanas Return with a Slow Burning and Meditative New Single

The Limiñanas are a Perpignan, France-based duo, who have developed a reputation as one of France’s most renowned psych rock acts — and for a sound that comfortably straddles the boundaries of psych rock, shoegaze and and yé-yé, as their songs typically feature arrangements rooted around fuzzy, distorted power chords, reverb heavy hooks and effortlessly cool vocals. And while clearly being indebted to 60s guitar pop and psych rock, the duo manage to capture something quintessentially French. 

Now, as you may recall, the duo’s soon-to-be released effort Istanbul Is Sleepy was initially recorded at the duo’s home studio and finished at Anton Newcombe’s Berlin-based studio, and unsurprisingly, the EP’s title track and first single “Istanbul Is Sleepy” found the French duo collaborating with the The Brian Jonestown Massacre founder and frontman, who contributed both his imitable vocals and guitar to a scuzzy, garage rock-like track with the sort of underlying menace reminiscent of The Black Angels — although interestingly enough, Newcombe was reportedly inspired by Rain-era The Cult.
As the members of The Limiñanas recall in press notes, the collaboration can trace its origins to last year, when Mojo Magazine asked them to contribute a track to a Kinks tribute compilation. “We chose ‘Two Sisters,’” Lionel explains in press notes. “Marie and I were thinking for the vocal part, it would be great to approach Anton Newcombe, having opened for The Brian Jonestown Massacre at Le Trianon in Paris. The work began like that. We had an album to record and we decided to finish it with him. During the Christmas week we took our demos, flew to Berlin and recorded at Anton’s studio. Six days later we had a finished album.”

The French psych rock duo’s latest single “Shadow People” is a jangling, slow-burning and almost meditative track with a hazy and dreamy hook that features a guest spot from French actress Emmanuelle Seigner. As Lionel explains in press notes, “The shadow people are an American myth, they are described as furtive apparitions, comparable to ghosts observable from the corner of the eye. These ‘spirits’ accompany throughout your all life, a sort of paranormal glue stuck to you . . . Emmanuelle came to visit us in the South of France, and we asked her to sing ‘Shadow People’ with Renaud Picard, the singer from Hair and the Iotas. We recorded it in just a few minutes over an afternoon…”. 

Live Footage: Ulrika Spacek Performs “Mimi Pretend” at Tapetown Studios

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for bit, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring Ulrika Spacek, and as you may recall the act, which is comprised of long-time friends and collaborators Rhys Edwards and Rhys Williams can trace their origins to a night in Berlin, when the duo conceptualized the project’s sound and aesthetic around their mutual love for Television, Pavement, Sonic Youth and krautrock. When the duo returned to their hometown of Homerton, they began working on their full-length debut, The Album Paranoia, which featured the 120 Minutes-era  MTV-like single “She’s A Cult,” and the shoegazer-like “Strawberry Glue.”

While on a tour across the European Union, the members of the band stopped by Aarhus, Denmark-based Tapetown Studios to participate in the Live at Tapetown Series, in which Sound of Aarhus and the recording studio invite touring bands to come in and do a live session; but along with the touring bands during their downtime would get a unique taste of Aarhus beyond the typical touring routines of load-ins, sound checks, tear downs, pack ups and van rides.

Last month, Sound of Aarhus released footage of the JOVM mainstays performing their  A Storm in Heaven and  A Northern Soul-era The Verve and The Bends-era Radiohead-like single “Everything, All The Time.” The second video from the live session is the shimmering and jangling shoegazer track “Mimi Pretend,” and much like its predecessor from the sessions, the video will further cement their reputation for crafting 90s alt rock/shoegazer songs but with a subtly modern sheen. 

New Video: The Dreamy and Psychedelic Sounds and Visuals of Brooklyn’s Panteon

Panteon is the recording project of Brooklyn-based Yvonne Ambree, an accomplished singer/songwriter, vocalist and musician, who has toured and worked with a wide range of artists including Sleigh Bells, Little Boots, Lulu Gainsbourg, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, and legendary soul singers, such as Syl Johnson, Ann Sexton and Gwen McCrae. Ambree is also known as one-half of the critically acclaimed duo Take Berlin, whose debut EP Lionize was named one of the “Top 10 EPs of 2013” by The Huffington Post, UK. 

Ambree’s debut as Panteon, Travel Log 1 EP is slated for a January 19, 2018 release, and the material on the EP is reportedly inspired by her travels across Europe and The Americas with each track being an ode to the experience of a particular locale she had been in, making the EP, a soundtrack for traveling, whether it be on the road, through the sea or through the air; but throughout the EP, Ambree weaves narratives of discovery and identity (which, unsurprisingly come up while traveling to some far off place).  Recorded in Berlin, Brooklyn’s Bunker Studio and Manhattan’s Sear Sound and mixed by renowned producer Howie Beck, who has worked with Feist, Jamie Lidell and Chilly Gonzales while featuring some of the New York area’s most notable session musicians including Snarky Puppy’s Jay Jennings contributing flugelhorn to EP single “Ballyvaughan,” and Grant Zubritsky, who has played in the backing band of Nick Murphy, formerly known as Chet Faker and MS MR, contributing bass on the EP’s latest single “White Jaguar,” a track written as a ode to the Kogi of Colombia, an indigenous civilization, who still live in the exact same fashion as they did 400 years ago, and consider themselves as guardians of the Earth. 
The ethereal song feels like a pleasant but half-remembered reverie bubbling up from the surface of the songwriter’s and listener’s subconscious as the song features a shimmering arrangement featuring strummed acoustic guitars, a sinuous bass line, soaring keys and propulsive drumming paired with Ambree’s gorgeous vocals — and while leaning towards the dreamy, retro-futuristic psychedelia of JOVM mainstays Pavo Pavo, the song captures the sense of awe over experiencing something you can never experience back at home. 

The recently released visuals for the song features gymnasts and dancers performing — but from old grainy negatives, which emphasizes the dreamy nature of the song, while adding to its aching nostalgia.