Earlier this year, I caught the Montreal-indie pop/dream pop act Anemone open for the acclaimed indie pop act HAERTS at Baby’s All Right, and as you may recall, the act led by Chloe Soldevila (keys, vocals) and featuring Miles Dupire-Gagnon (drums), Gabriel Lambert (guitar), Samuel Gemme (bass) and Zachary Irving (guitar) specializes in a breezy and dreamy synth pop sound that hints at psych pop — and at points to In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and Forever and Horizon-era Painted Palms. The Canadian act released their attention-grabbing debut EP earlier this year, which they’ve supported with a series of critically applauded SXSW shows, and some relentless touring across North America.
“Daffodils,” the Canadian act’s latest single is a breezy bit of synth-led dream pop centered around arpeggiated, analog synths, an ethereal melody, reverb drenched drums, shimmering guitar lines and a sinuous bass line within a gently unfolding, expansive song structure — and interestingly, the song recalls Pavo Pavo’s gorgeous, retro-futurstic dream Young Narrator on the Breakers.
Directed, shot and edited by the band’s Chloe Soldevila, along with her bandmates, the recently released video was filmed on a grainy looking, Super 8 like film (or Instagram filter) in the New Mexico desert with a wide-screen cinematic vibe that shows the members of the band wandering about the desert, looking small in the face of an enormous expansive, before you see the band playing in the desert. As the band’s Chloe Soldevila explain sin press notes, “”Wide and magical open spaces are so powerful to me. I couldn’t have imagined a better place to capture the song’s video. Driving into White Sands’ natural park was one of the most empowering experiences to us. We had so much fun walking and running endlessly with our eyes wide open, full of admiration. After a while we decided impulsively to set up our gear which we had in the van and we started to play. We felt so alone in the world, playing for the sky and suddenly tons of people enjoying the park started driving in to enjoy the performance… it was so special, until eventually the park security kindly kicked us out!”
Throughout a significant portion of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about Baltimore-based JOVM mainstays Beach House, and as you may recall, the duo which is comprised of founding and primary members Victoria Legrand (organ, vocals) and Alex Scally (guitar, vocals) have released a number of critically and commercially successful albums, including 2015’s Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, which were written and recorded within a two-and-a-half year period between 2012-2014.
7, the Baltimore-based indie rock’s seventh full-length album was released earlier this year through Sub Pop Records in North America, Bella Union Records in Europe and Mistletone Records in Australia and New Zealand, and the recording sessions found the band working with Spacemen 3‘s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Peter Kember) as a producer — but not in the traditional sense, as he helped the band in their attempts to start anew by shedding conventions and ensuring that the album’s material would be fresh, alive and protected from the tendency of overproduction and perfectionism. The album also features the band’s most recent live drummer James Barone, who as the duo say in press notes, helped “keep rhythm at the center of a lot of these songs.”
“Throughout the process of recording 7, our goal was rebirth and rejuvenation. We wanted to rethink old methods and shed some self-imposed limitations. In the past, we often limited our writing to parts that we could perform live,” Legrand and Scally explain. “On 7, we decided to follow whatever came naturally. As a result, there are some songs with no guitar, and some without keyboard. There are songs with layers and production that we could never recreate live, and that is exciting to us. Basically, we let our creative moods, instead of instrumentation, dictate the album’s feel.
“In the past, the economics of recording have dictated that we write for a year, go to the studio, and record the entire record as quickly as possible. We have always hated this because by the time the recording happens, a certain excitement about older songs has often been lost. This time, we built a ‘home’ studio, and began all of the songs there. Whenever we had a group of 3-4 songs that we were excited about, we would go to a ‘proper’ recording studio and finish recording them there. This way, the amount of time between the original idea and the finished song was pretty short.”
As the act admits, the societal sense of instability, uncertainty and chaos was deeply influential on the album’s material. “Looking back, there is quite a bit of chaos happening in these songs, and a pervasive dark field that we had little control over. The discussions surrounding women’s issues were a constant source of inspiration and questioning. The energy, lyrics and moods of much of this record grew from ruminations on the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present.” They go on to say that in a general sense, “we are interested by the human mind’s (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny.”
So far, Beach House has released a handful of singles off the album — “Lemon Glow,” a jangling and atmospheric track centered around Legrand’s ethereal vocals; the shoegazer-like “Dive,” one of the most expansive and ambitious tracks they’ve released; “Dark Spring,” a shoegazer-like single featuring woozy power chords, twinkling keys and a soaring hook; and “Black Car,” which found the duo gently pushing their sound away from their known formula as it was centered around arpeggiated and atmospheric synths. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Drunk in LA” differs from the video version, as Kember remixed the song for the video, making the focus of the slow-burning and meditative poem-like song Legrand’s ethereal vocals and the arpeggiated synths, which as the duo says highlights the lonesome quality of the song — but it also evokes the sort of lonely regret that comes about late at night, when you’re left to contemplate the events of your life.
As the duo say of the video treatment, “While mixing the record with Alan Moulder in London, we were out having dinner and Pete mentioned an idea for a video where the viewer is always looking up from the ground. This became the ‘Drunk in LA’ video. When he sent it to us, we complimented and commented on the trippy, dreamlike nature of the video and he wrote that it was essentially just a day in his life.”
Currently comprised of founding member Long Island-born, Brooklyn-based Sarik Kumar (vocals, guitar) with Wes Wynne (guitar), Craig Stauber (drums) and Justin Lieberthal (bass), the Brooklyn-based dream pop act Mars Motel can trace its origins to a series of psych rock and Brit Pop demos Kumar wrote and recorded during his senior year of high school. As the story goes, those early demos were forgotten for quite some time with Kumar eventually moving to Greenpoint. where he began writing and performing with local indie pop act Twin Wave for about a three year period between 2013 and 2016. Interestingly enough, Kumar rediscovered those old demos while visiting his childhood home and was inspired to embark on a new creative venture as the lead singer and primary songwriter.
To flesh out the band’s sound, Kumar recruited his current bandmates and since their formation they’ve received attention for a sound that draws from 90s Britpop and early 2000s NYC post-punk. The band’s latest effort, The Eclipse Sessions is a five song live EP filmed and recorded at Mission Sound on August 21, 2017, during the first solar eclipse across the contiguous US in 38 years and the EP features a handful of their first singles — “The Enemy,” “Green,” “It’s Here Tonight” and two previously unreleased B-sides “Hit The Floor” and “City Streets” The band’s latest single from the sessions “Green,” was the second single the band ever released, and the song is an atmospheric and moodily mid-tempo track centered around shimmering guitar chords played through delay and effects pedals, a propulsive rhythm section and a soaring hook. And while clearly indebted to 120 Minutes era alt rock, the song thematically focuses on a profound emotional connection between lovers — in this case, one that has just died and the other, who is mourning their partner’s loss. Interestingly, the lover who died is stuck in purgatory, watching their living partner moving through life in despair and chaos, trapped in a different sort of purgatory.
The Money War is a Perth, Australia-based dream pop/indie pop/indie rock duo comprised of Dylan Ollivierre, a member of Rainy Day Women and Carmen Pepper, a member of Warning Birds, and the project can trace its origins to a road trip that the duo took across the US in late 2015. Inspired by the trip, they recorded a ton of iPhone demos — and as the story goes, after a chance meeting with producers Thom Monahan, who’s worked with Fruit Bats and Little Joy and Arne Frager, who’s worked with Prince and Paul McCartney in a San Francisco dive bar, the duo were convinced of the value of their demos together, and began working on an album.
The Perth-based dream pop/indie pop/indie rock duo released their debut EP early last year, and they spent the year touring with Holy Holy and Meg Mac, before headlining a national time in December. Interestingly, “Recall,” off their debut EP was the 5th most played song on Triple J Radio last year — and as a result, they had seen a growing national and international profile, with the duo gaining attention Stateside as they’ve received airplay on SiriusXM, KEXP, CJAM FM, KXRN, WLKK and college radio.
“Hollywood,” the duo’s latest single off their full-length debut is a moody and atmospheric track that immediately brings JOVM mainstays Still Corners, as the track is centered around Pepper’s ethereal vocals, twinkling synths, strummed acoustic guitar, piano and a sinuous hook — and while possessing a subtly cinematic vibe, the song as the duo’s Dylan Ollivierre explains was written and inspired by a difficult year the duo had in which people close to each individual member had died. “There’s a hospital in Perth called Hollywood, and I was pondered its ironic name,” Olliviere says in press notes. “We were in LA when I got the news that a family member was passing away, and the lyrics started forming from there. We wanted the song to sound like a moving and we took production cues from that idea.”
The recently released video cuts between daily life footage of Hollywood that captures the bitter irony as its core — while some do manage to obtain massive success, a fair number of people wind up down and out; and footage of the two in the studio performing the song
Ezza Rose is a Julian, CA-born, Portland, OR-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of her musical career to being a small child, playing tambourine along with her father’s band. Shortly after, she found a CB drum set under the Christmas tree — and unsurprisingly, the young Rose became the only female punk rock drummer in her town of about 1,500. When she went to college, the drum set didn’t fit in her dorm room, so she picked up a guitar and began writing songs of her own. As the story goes, during a holiday break from her performing arts conservatory, Rose and a friend hitchhiked to Portland to check out the city’s arts scene, and the trip inspired her to eventually relocate.
Bandmate Craig Rupert relocated to Portland roughly a year later with the members of an East coast roots rock band. Rupert met Rose and her bandmate Ray Johnson, who was playing in Winterhaven while they were all playing on the same bill. Soon all three were playing in Winterhaven, and after the band split up, Rose asked her former bandmates to play in a new project bearing her name. Interestingly, with 2015’s When The Water’s Hot was a sonic departure for the band, as it found them moving from the acoustic folk of their previous efforts and back towards Rose’s roots in rock, fueled by the frustrations of an unjust social climate.
The band’s fourth full-length album No Means No is slated for a September 21, 2018 release through Culture Collide Records, and the album finds the band encompassing the widest and most diverse array of sound and styles they’ve ever recorded — while being centered around a deep well of a lifetime of things silenced and buried within. “Baby Come Down,” No Means No‘s latest single is a slow-burning pop ballad that recalls 50s and 60s country and pop — The Hollies, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline and others immediately come to mind with this stripped down song, while being a wistful observation over how society is now perpetually distracted from even the most important, intimate moments of our lives.
Marius Lauber is a Viersen, Germany-born, Cologne, Germany-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, who writes records and performs with his solo recording project Roosevelt. With the release of “Elliot,” the lead single and EP title track of his 2013 debut EP Elliot, Lauber received praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who named the track one of their “Best New Tracks.” 2015 saw the release of the double A side single “Night Moves”/”Hold On,” which was released through Greco-Roman Records and further cemented his reputation for crafting material with warm, synth-led Euro-disco sound.
Lauber’s 2016 self-titled, full-length debut featured standout tracks “Colours” and “Moving On,” and has led to tours with the likes of Hot Chip, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Crystal Fighters, as well a remixes of Glass Animals, Jax Jones, Truls, Sundara Karma, Luca Vasta and Kakkmaddafakka and others. Interestingly, Lauber’s highly-anticipated Roosevelt sophomore album Young Romance is slated for a September 28, 2018 and the album reportedly finds the German singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer moving away from the dance floor friendly sound of his previously recorded work and leaning heavily towards hook-driven guitar and synth-based pop while balancing escapism and wistfulness throughout. Thematically, the album covers the trials, tribulations and frustrations of falling in and out of love, finding some semblance of home and life on the road. As Lauber says of the writing process “I ended up progressing a lot of emotions that I felt during my youth. Faded relationships that haunted me for years, being on the road for what seemed like forever and the constant search for a place to call home.”
Young Romance‘s second and latest single “Forgive” finds the up-and-coming German collaborating with Washed Out‘s Ernest Green, who contributes his imitable, ethereal vocals to a shimmering production centered by a disco-like groove, Chic-era Nile Rodgers funk guitar, subtle hints at African percussion and an infectious hook. Sonically speaking, the song feels like it could have easily been on Green’s lush Paracosm as it manages to be swooning and earnest while retaining dance floor friendly vibes. Interestingly, the collaboration can trace its origins to when Green followed Lauber on Instagram, and as Lauber says in press notes “I was so happy to find out he was a fan. He has always been a massive influence and this track was written around the vocal stems he sent back within days — a real collaborative effort.”
Now, throughout this site’s 8 year history, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for his solo electro pop/dream pop recording project Summer Heart. And as you may recall, Alexander has received attention both nationally and internationally for being among the first wave of Sweden’s contemporary electro pop and dream pop movement along with the likes of Moonbabies, The Land Below, Hey Elbow, Blind Lake and Emerald Park, as well as for a sound that has been compared to Caribou, Washed Out, In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy, Painted Palms and others.
With 12 Songs of Summer, Alexander adds his name to an increasing number of artists, who have adopted a single of the month series over the past couple of years. In the blogosphere age, single of the month series manage to make much quite a bit of sense creatively, financially and marketing-wise. Creatively, the artist isn’t constrained by the pressure of writing material within a cohesive style or theme in mind, as they (potentially) would have to do if they were working on an EP or a full-length album. Financially speaking, independent artists, who are most likely struggling to find ways to fund their efforts to record, tour and promote their work can put out material quickly, ensuring that the artist can receive some sort of attention outside of the album cycle. As Alexander explained in press notes, “The idea behind this project is to show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case when you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”
“Subside,” the 7th and latest single in the 12 Songs of Summer series finds Alexander collaborating with Toronto-based artist KYLO, who contributes ethereal yet soulful vocals drenched in copious reverb to a lush and shimmering production centered around finger snap-led percussion, stuttering synth arpeggios, shuffling beats and an infectious hook to create a radio friendly, club banger that evokes balmy summer nights, of evening faces, dance floors and strobe lights — and interestingly enough the song brings Within and Without and Paracosm-era Washed Out.
As Alexander recalls, “I met K¥LO in Toronto a couple of years ago. We played a show together and since then we’ve stayed in touch and also vaguely talked about making something together at some point.
Back in April, I was sitting on the floor in my friend Alex’s apartment in the East Village playing around with Logic X on my laptop. I was feeling super inspired; I got this song going and quickly decided I wanted to collaborate with someone on it. K¥LO was the first person I had in mind and so I sent the roughest demo ever to her.
To me this song is about someone’s bad habits, and about not being able to concentrate and focus and taking the easy way out.”
KYLO adds, “The lyrics to ‘Subside’ were inspired by a time in my life when I was going through a lot of changes. I was getting used to living without someone I had been with for a long time and battling the loneliness that came with that change. Summer Heart is someone I’ve wanted to collaborate with for a long time; I think that as a producer he’s managed to reflect the message within the lyrics on the track.”