Tag: Depeche Mode

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the London-based JOVM mainstays Ten Fe, and as you may recall, the act, which was initially comprised of founding members and primary songwriters Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan, the duo won national and international attention for pairing their distinct writing styles and voices into a unique sound. Moorhouse and Duncan had played in a number of London-based bands in which they individually felt as though there was pressure to fit into a particular scene, whether through a one way of playing or a certain way of looking, and it was something they felt unnatural and unnecessarily labored — and they deeply reviled it.  As the story goes, the duo met at party and became busking partners in the London Underground. In those very early days, they enjoyed the very simple pleasures of playing music they loved — mostly early rock, early Beatles and the like — and earning cash while doing so. Coming from a place of pure joy, they noticed a profound simpatico, and they began to play their own original material. “We had a very clear idea of what we wanted. For things to be simple, based around songs that are unashamed in their directness, and that we love: The CureU2Springsteen and The Stones. We’d spend years playing through these on the tube, realising you don’t need to break the mould. Its best to ignore all the voices telling you that you need to for the sake of it, and go for something deeper,” the duo explained in press notes.  And with Ten Fe, Moorhouse and Duncan wanted to focus primarily on the song with style serving the song — and while centered around anthemic and downright arena rock friendly hooks, their sound is difficult to describe and even more so to pigeonhole, as it possesses elements of the Manchester sound, Brit Pop, Americana, electro pop and contemporary indie rock. They manage to do this while balancing careful, deliberate attention to craft with soulful earnestness and bombast.

Moorhouse and Duncan then spent the next two years, writing, revising and recording in each other’s bedrooms, which included prolonged writing sessions at Duncan’s dad’s house in Walsall, UK, relentless busking, hustling and saving, and an impossibly lengthy list of band members and producers before they signed a publishing deal and briefly relocated to Berlin, where they recorded their Ewan Pearson-produced full-length debut effort Hit the Light. “Its no coincidence that the name of this band means ‘have faith’” says Leo Duncan.

After spending 18 months touring to support their critically applauded full-length debut effort Hit the Light, the project officially expanded into a full-fledged band with the permanent additions of touring members Rob Shipley (bass) and Johnny Drain (keys), who are two of Duncan’s oldest friends from Walsall, and Alex Hammond (drums). As the story goes, the members of the band felt a renewed sense of confidence when it came to preparing to write and work on their follow up effort Future Perfect, Present Tense. They set up shop in a vacant driving license office in East London, where the majority of the writing was done, and as they were nearing the end, they went to Oslo, Norway where they tracked the material before returning to London to finish the album with producer Luke Smith, who has worked with Foals, Depeche Mode, Petite Noir, and Anna of the North — and mixed by Craig Silvey, who has worked with Arcade Fire, Florence & The Machine and Amen Dunes.

Thematically, the material reportedly is a mediation on everything that has brought them all to the point of their sophomore album, and everything they’ve willingly (and perhaps unwillingly) left behind in actually getting there. Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “Won’t Happen” is centered around a buoyant groove, jangling guitars and a soaring, arena friendly hook while the band’s Duncan laments and repents for his past indiscretions — perhaps to a lover or to himself. Sonically, the song will further cement the band’s reputation for being uncompromisingly genre-defying as the song seems to draw from 70s AM rock, Brit Pop and arena rock simultaneously; but with a decidedly individualistic take that has them sound unlike any other contemporary act I can think of.

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With a handful of singles and their full-length debut Vaporwave, the Washington, DC-based indie electro rock and synth pop sextet Color Palette, comprised of Jay Nemeyer (vocals, guitar), Josh Hunter (guitar, keys, bass), Matt Hartenau (drums), Rogerio Naressi (keys) and Maryjo Mattea (vocals) received attention both locally and internationally from the likes of NME MagazineUSA Today, NPR and Impose Magazine— and adding to a growing profile, the band has shared bills with  Charli XCX, The Naked and Famous, Mother Mother, Day Wave, Yumi Zouma, Mr. Little Jeans, The Kickback, Spirit Animal, VanLadyLove and others.

Up until late last month, some time had passed since I had come across the DC-based sextet but as you may recall, the band had been busy working on their sophomore album, which is currently slated for release sometime next year — and the album’s first single “Sunburn,” was a breezy and anthemic track centered around shimmering and jangling guitar lines, ethereal electronics and a soaring hook paired with a wistful vocal that evokes the passing of summer, and the impending end of another year. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Chelsea” is a synth-based track that some have compared favorably to Depeche Mode, although to my my ears, the song recalls St. Lucia as the members of Color Palette layer of arpeggiated synths are paired with angular and hanging guitar chords, an a propulsive rhythm section — and while much like its predecessor, the song reveals a band that can craft a razor sharp and infectious hook, “Chelsea” may arguably be the most ambitious, arena rock friendly track they’ve written and released to date.

 

 

elegant slims is a rather mysterious, up-and-coming electro pop artist, who quickly received attention with the release of her critically applauded debut single “Not Human.” a track that drew comparisons to the likes of Grimes, The Knife and Ladytron among others — and for collaborating with emerging visual artists to produce the artwork for her material. Her second and latest single “Hemisphere” is an eerie and atmospheric bit of synth pop centered around elegant slims’ ethereal vocals, fuzzy and arpeggiated synths, some industrial clang and clatter and a soaring hook that while recalling Depeche Mode and others manages to possess a cinematic air.

Continuing her collaboration with emerging visual artists, elegant slims teamed up with Norwegian painter Linda Syvestan, who created artwork that’s stylistically reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

 

Several years ago, I wrote about the London-based electro rock/industrial rock trio Blindness, an act that featured Beth Rettig (vocals, programming), Emma Quick (bass) and Debbie Smith (guitar), who also had stints in Curve, Echobelly and Snowpony. After Blindness split up, Rettig started tinkering around with new music and reworking some ideas that she had lying around without much of a plan. As Rettig told me in an email, “Recently, I decided it was probably time to do something with some of the new stuff.” Debbie Smith, her former Blindness bandmate contributed guitars, along with some programming on one of the two singles, Rettig has released with her new project Where We Sleep, a project that Rettig hopes will have her working with other musicians as well. Unsurprisingly, the project draws from some of Rettig’s lifelong influences — Curve, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Nine Inch Nails, PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, Massive Attack, and others.

“Veins,” the first Where We Sleep single finds Rettig collaborating with her former Blindness bandmate Debbie Smith, who contributes some thumping drum programming, arpeggiated synths and buzzing power chords in a sultry and anthemic New Wave-like song that sounds as though it were influenced by Sixousie and the Banshees and Depeche Mode. “Crawl” is a moody and atmospheric track centered around Rettig’s breathy vocals and industrial clang and clatter — and sonically speaking, the song may arguably be the most Depeche Mode-like that she’s released yet.

 

New Video: Goldfrapp Releases Gorgeous and Cinematic Visuals for the Reworked Version of “Ocean” featuring Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan

With the release of 2013’s Tales of Us, Goldfrapp, comprised of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, released one of their most hauntingly cinematic and gorgeous efforts they’ve ever released, as the album’s material found the duo pairing Goldfrapp’s arresting vocals with classical music-inspired arrangements centered around piano and strings, acoustic guitar and occasional electronic flourishes. However, last year’s critically applauded and commercially successful Silver Eye was a striking return to form — and as you may recall Anymore,” the album’s first single featured a slick yet abrasive sound featuring  enormous, thumping 808-like beats, layers of buzzing and undulating synths. Interestingly, “Anymore” much like the rest of the material on the album buzzed with a restless, creative energy and sense of experimentation that was partially the result of the acclaimed duo working with  Grammy-wining producer John Congleton, who has worked with St. Vincent, John Grant and Wild Beasts; as well as collaborations with electronic composer Bobby Krlic, best known as The Haxan Cloak and Leo Abrahams, a guitarist, who has collaborated with Brian Eno.

Album single “Ocean” continued in a similar vein as the song centered around an abrasive and minimalist-leaning production of arpeggiated synths, thunderous beats. As the duo explained to Billboard the song was created during a morning writing and recording session and was originally built from what Goldfrapp called a “a very small improvisation.” “I remember coming into the studio one morning and I think we just had a few drums going and it was really basic,” Goldfrapp recalled. “Will said ‘Do you fancy doing some vocals this morning?’ So I was like, ‘Alright then’ and slightly reluctantly, i went into the vocal both and the words just came out.” And as a result, the song manages to bristle with a furious sense of unpredictability.

July 6, 2016 will mark the release of Silver Eye: Deluxe Edition and while the deluxe edition will include the original album material, there will be a bonus disc of remixes and alternate versions, including a re-recording of “Ocean” that features Depeche Mode‘s Dave Gahan, as well a previously unreleased Will Gregory remix of “Anymore.” Naturally, turning the original song into a duet with Gahan’s and Goldfrapp’s imitable vocals gives the song a harder, darker, moodier, goth edge while still managing to be a straightforward rendition of the song. But perhaps, more important, if you’re a fan of both, it’s the most necessary and effortless collaboration that you needed to hear.

Directed by Alison Goldfrapp, the gorgeous and cinematically shot video for “Ocean” found her returning to Fuerteventura, where the videos for “Anymore” and “Everything Is Never Enough” were shot for her scenes, while she directed Dave Gahan in Madrid during a break in Depeche Mode’s current world tour. As a photographer, the video features some scenery and cinematography that has me jealous. As Alison Goldfrapp says of the video, “I had an amazing time directing Dave in the video for the track and we couldn’t be happier with the end result.”
 

New Audio: Goldfrapp Team Up with Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan on a Reworked Version of “Ocean”

With the release of 2013’s Tales of Us, Goldfrapp, comprised of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, released one of their most hauntingly cinematic and gorgeous efforts they’ve ever released, as the album’s material found the duo pairing Goldfrapp’s arresting vocals with classical music-inspired arrangements centered around piano and strings, acoustic guitar and occasional electronic flourishes. However, last year’s critically applauded and commercially successful Silver Eye was a striking return to form — and as you may recall Anymore,” the album’s first single featured a slick yet abrasive sound featuring  enormous, thumping 808-like beats, layers of buzzing and undulating synths. Interestingly, “Anymore” much like the rest of the material on the album buzzed with a restless, creative energy and sense of experimentation that was partially the result of the acclaimed duo working with  Grammy-wining producer John Congleton, who has worked with St. Vincent, John Grant and Wild Beasts; as well as collaborations with electronic composer Bobby Krlic, best known as The Haxan Cloak and Leo Abrahams, a guitarist, who has collaborated with Brian Eno.

Album single “Ocean” continued in a similar vein as the song centered around an abrasive and minimalist-leaning production of arpeggiated synths, thunderous beats. As the duo explained to Billboard the song was created during a morning writing and recording session and was originally built from what Goldfrapp called a “a very small improvisation.” “I remember coming into the studio one morning and I think we just had a few drums going and it was really basic,” Goldfrapp recalled. “Will said ‘Do you fancy doing some vocals this morning?’ So I was like, ‘Alright then’ and slightly reluctantly, i went into the vocal both and the words just came out.” And as a result, the song manages to bristle with a furious sense of unpredictability. 

July 6, 2016 will mark the release of Silver Eye: Deluxe Edition and while the deluxe edition will include the original album material, there will be a bonus disc of remixes and alternate versions, including a re-recording of “Ocean” that features Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan, as well a previously unreleased Will Gregory remix of “Anymore.” Naturally, turning the original song into a duet with Gahan’s and Goldfrapp’s imitable vocals gives the song a harder, darker, moodier, goth edge while still managing to be a straightforward rendition of the song. But perhaps, more important, if you’re a fan of both, it’s the most necessary and effortless collaboration that you needed to hear. 

John Glenn Kunkel is a Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and producer, who has released three critically applauded albums, four EPs and a number of remixes with his solo recording project The New Division. Kunkel’s work has received millions of Spotify streams, and adding to a growing profile, Kunkel has been covered in major media outlets like Pitchfork and The Guardian.

Kunkel’s soon-to-be released Fader EP will further cement the Los Angeles-based electronic music artist and producer’s reputation for crafting cinematic and moody synth pop that immediately brings Depeche Mode, New Order, Umberto and others to mind; in fact, the EP’s first single, the dance floor friendly, opening track “One Night in Tokyo” is centered around slick production featuring a motorik-like groove, propulsive boom bap-like beats, shimmering, arpeggiated synths and a soaring hook; but underneath the dance floor friendly sounds are melancholy lyrics based on a failed trans-Pacific love affair that has haunted the song’s narrator, which create an interesting and ironic juxtaposition within the song.

New Video: Introducing the Brooding and Cinematic Sounds of Chicago’s Well Yells

Patrick Holbrook is a Chicago, IL-based electronic music producer and artist, and his darkwave, synth-based solo recording project Well Yells has received attention both locally and regionally for a spectral sound paired with surreal, dream-like lyrics that draws from much of the music he had admired and learned to play bass following along to  — in particular, Joy Division and Bauhaus, and the fragments of music he could remember from his dreams. Although unsurprisingly, his work has been compared to The Cure, Depeche Mode, John Carpenter, The Legendary Pink Dots, and Clan of Xymox among others.

Holbrook’s latest Wells Yell album Skunk was released earlier this year, and the album’s latest single “Near” is a brooding and cinematic track centered around layers of wobbling and arpeggiated synths, submerged vocals fed through layers of effects pedals, shimmering guitar chords and subtle, industrial clang and clatter. Sonically, the song manages to evoke a slowly unfurling and inescapable, existential dread.

As Holbrook told me through an email, the recently released video for “Near” was directed and shot by Toupee’s Mark Fragassi, and a segment of the of the video was shot at “. . . the Steelworkers Park on the South Side [Chicago], which have these really uncanny ruins of a steel mill — the walls are all that remain, but they’re 1/4 mile long!”

 

New Video: Foreign Air Releases Gorgeously Shot and Moody Visuals for “Chakra Daemon”

Last year was a breakthrough year for the Washington, DC/New York-based indie duo Foreign Air — their For The Light EP amassed over 20 million Spotify streams, their material was included in a Nike ad campaign, and building upon a growing profile, the duo opened for the likes of Phantogram, Aurora, BØRNS, X Ambassadors, Kevin Garrett and Lewis Del Mar, before heading to Seattle to record their forthcoming, Phil Ek-produced full-length debut, slated for release sometime this year. 

Their latest single “Chakra Daemon” will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for material inspired by heady subject matters — for this particular song, evolution, biomechanics and the ubiquitous email bounce back bot Mailer Daemon, as a comment on how much of one’s daily routine is heaped in negative, harmful and repetitive energy.  Sonically, the song follows along a similar vein as its predecessors — a murky and menacing production featuring layers of arpeggiated and pulsating synths, four-on-the-floor drum programming, bursts of buzzing guitar and an anthemic but pessimistic, post-apocalyptic-like hook that finds the duo nodding at the likes of Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode and others, as well as contemporary synth pop acts like Painted Palms.

As the duo’s Jordan Classen explained in press notes “We as humans are constantly looking for a connection. However, more often than not we fail to find that connection leaving one to feel lonely or even invisible at time. As humans slowly begin self evolving by integrating bio-technology, I imagine one day there will be a Chakra Daemon. This will be like an artificial subconscious. An enhanced intuition. Beyond the obvious implication of keeping us out of danger, I think it will also play a role in navigating us through relationships both platonic and romantic.”

Directed by Sabrina Reiter, the recently released video for “Chakra Daemon” was shot in Vienna Austria and stars Florian Tröbinger and Martin Brandner, who are both struggling in some way or another with the inner truths that must be spoken about ourselves — and in turn, while longing for connection that has long evaded them. As the duo explains of the video treatment, “We all struggle with fear at one point or another in our lives and must find ways to overcome; to put into the world the truth that we know is already in our hearts and in our minds. If we don’t learn to externalize ourselves as individuals then we will never know our true potential as a society.”