Tag: dream pop

Claudia Ferme is a Chicago-based singer/songwriter and the creative mastermind behind the existential dream pop, solo recording project Claude. Ferme began crafting songs inspired by Joni Mitchell, Amy Winehouse, Angel Olsen and Weyes Blood during her senior year of college in Bloomington, IN as a way to deal with the dread and fear she felt with being finished with school and not knowing what she wanted to do with her life.

The project became fully realized when she returned to Chicago during the spring of 2018. After meeting other musicians, Ferme decided to form a backing band for the project and started playing shows locally. And since 2018, Ferme’s music has landed on a number of Spotify and YouTube playlists, including Spotify’s Fresh Finds, The LazyLazyMe, BIRP, My Old Kentucky Blog, and Hype Machine.

Ferme’s Claude debut, Enactor EP is slated for a February 12, 2021 release through Side Hustle Records/The Orchard. The EP’s second and latest single “Everything’s Great” coincides with the most recent impeachment hearings dominating the media landscape again — and it manages to tie back to the song’s origin: “I wrote this song after Trump got elected,” Ferme says in press notes. “It felt like the world was ending and I wanted to somehow poke fun at his ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan.” Centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, gorgeous yet brooding strings and Ferme’s plaintive and ethereal vocals, “Everything’s Great” manages to tap into the deep in the soul exhaustion of the Trump Administration. The song is a gentle call for escapism as a form of self-preservation when everything is on fire — with the song’s narrator essentially saying “turn off your phone, so you can stop doom scrolling — and take a moment to daydream.” Maybe we should all take that advice every now and then.




Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Release a Hauntingly Gorgeous and Brooding New Single

London-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have managed to bounce between chilly and atmospheric pop and shimmering guitar-driven, desert noir through the release of four albums: 2012’s Creature of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures, 2016’s Dead Blue and 2018’s Slow Air.

The London-based JOVM mainstays’ fifth album The Last Exit is slated for release next Friday through the duo’s Wrecking Light Records. Sonically, the album reportedly continues where its predecessor Slow Air left off — 11 songs centered around shimmering and carefully crafted arrangements of organic instrumentation paired with Tessa Murray’s smoky crooning. Thematically, the album takes the listener of a hypnotic and mesmerizing journey filled with dilapidated and long-abandoned towns, mysterious shapes on the horizon and long trips that blur the lines between what’s there and not there. “We found something out there in the desert – something in the vast landscapes that went on forever,” Greg Hughes says in press notes.

Unsurprisingly, the album’s material was brought into further focus as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. “There’s always something at the end of the road and for us it was this album. Our plans were put on hold – an album set for release, tours, video shoots, travel,” Tessa Murray explains. “We’d been touring nonstop for years, but we were forced to pause everything. We thought the album was finished but with the crisis found new inspiration and started writing again.” Three of the album’s songs — “Crying,” “Static,” and “‘Till We Meet Again” were written during this period and they reflect upon the profound impact of isolation and the human need for social contact and intimacy.

Last year, I wrote about two of the album’s previously released singles:

“The Last Exit,” a cinematic track that sounds like it could have been part of the Slow Air sessions while nodding at Ennio Morricone soundtracks as it evokes large and indifferent skies and dusty, two-lane blacktop baking in the sun.
“Crying,” which was written during pandemic-related shutdowns and quarantines and captures the uncertainty, boredom, loneliness, heartache and regrets of not having much to do or anyplace to go — and obsessively neurotic self-examination inspired by those endless, lonely hours. And while continuing in the vein of Slow Air, the track also nods at Strange Pleasures.

“White Sands,” The Last Exit’s third and latest single is a classic, ghost story of a phantom who roams the dunes and desert highways for eternity, frightening travelers and drifters, who pass her. The track is a fittingly cinematic track centered around glistening atmospherics, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a rapid-fire beat paired with Murray’s wistful and achingly melancholy crooning. Much like the material on Slow Air, “White Sands” is a brooding yet breathtakingly gorgeous song that evokes long and silent drives through nothing much but your own thoughts and regrets.

The JOVM mainstays released a gorgeous and cinematic lyric video for “White Sands” shot in the desert, with Murray superimposed as a spectral vision just over the horizon. The visual also feature the song’s lyrics in English and translated in Spanish.

Oakland-based dream pop trio There’s Talk — Olivia Lee, Kellen Balla and Young Lee — have developed and honed a sound that balances elements of experimental electro pop and reverb-drenched shoegaze in a way that has drawn comparisons to JOVM mainstays Beach House and M83.

Thematically, the tiro’s work draws from Olivia Lee’s Chinese heritage and queer identity, while specifically touching upon family, both biological and chosen — and divine coincidence. But interestingly enough, their sophomore EP, last year’s Great Falls focuses on mourning, grief, memories and longing inspired by the loss of someone very dear to the band’s frontperson. “Grief does not cease,” Olivia Lee writes on the band’s website, “It becomes a sort of friend to hold, and a reminder that we are alive to honor, to remember, to be present, to have a future and to live it as fully as you could ever dream.”

Great Falls‘ latest single “Ascension” is a hazy and slow-burning track centered around twinkling keys, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, Olivia Lee’s plaintive and ethereal vocals and a soaring hook. Bearing a resemblance to Bloom and Thank Your Lucky Stars/Depression Cherry-era Beach House and SoftSpot’s Clearing, “Ascension” feels like a half-remembered yet vivid dream fueled by longing and life’s sad lack of closure in anything.

New Video: Austin’s Sun June Releases a Gorgeous Visual for Atmospheric New Single

Austin, TX-based indie rock act Sun June — founding members Laura Colwell and Stephen Salisbury with Michael Bain (guitar), Sarah Schultz (drums) and Justin Harris (bass) — can trace their origins to when its founding members started the band while they working long hours in director Terrence Malick’s editing rooms, and they would practice whenever Malick was out of town.

Sometime in 2017, they worked with Cross Record’s and Loma’s Dan Duszynski and fellow Malick album and Sleep Good’s Will Paterson on their first set of demos before eventually settling on their current lineup. While working on their Evan Kaspar-produced full-length debut, 2018’s Years at Estuary Recording Facility, the members of the band caught the attention of Keeled Scales Records‘ label head Tony Presley, who lived above the studio and signed the band.

Recorded live to tape without overdubs or any other processing, Years as the band explained in press notes was a “we’ve-been-a-broken-up-a-long-time” album with the material exploring how loss — of friends, family members and even partners — evolves over time, and how one deals with it, but while not being too heavy or serious.

Sun June’s sophomore album Somewhere reportedly showcases a gentle but pronounced maturation of the band’s sound, while featuring 11 songs that bristle with love and longing. The album’s third and latest single, “Bad Girl” is slow-burning and cinematic bit of dream pop centered around shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths and Colwell’s tender vocals. While sonically bringing Slow Air-era Still Corners and others to mind, the song longingly looks back on the freedom and carefree nature of youth with a simultaneous sepia-tinged nostalgia and the perspective gained from getting older.

“Bad Girl is about a deep manic drive to regress into the person I used to be — back when being bad was cool and being cool was everything,” Sun June’s Laura Colwell explains. “I was given a lot of freedom as a teenager and always took advantage of it. After I lost a good friend in high school, my fear of death was overwhelming. The song reflects on how that fear combined with my own thrill-seeking affected my decisions since. It cycles through self-destructive choices I’ve made in relationships to avoid responsibility, and how my fear of loss has lead me down some dumb paths. The tone is sad and resigned, but also self-righteous somehow.

“There’s something pushing and pulling between the lyrics and the beat, so we thought a dance video might draw out some internal tension,” adds Colwell, about the recently released video. “We filmed around Lockhart, TX, where we recorded the album, because there are so many farms and fields out there that are unchanged despite the area’s growth. We took some inspiration from films like Blood Simple and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, which were also shot in rural towns just outside of Austin. Basically, we tried to channel Frances McDormand, Willie Nelson, and Haim (if Haim were an only child).

Somewhere is slated for a February 5, 2021 through Run For Cover and Keeled Scales.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Summer Heart Releases a Gorgeous, Animated Visual for Shimmering “Black Jeans”

I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of ink over the course of the past decade, covering the Malmö-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer and electronic music artist David Alexander, best known to the world, as the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded, internationally acclaimed recoding project Summer Heart.

Alexander began 2020 signing to renowned Swedish label Icons Creating Evil Art, who released his latest effort, Ambitions EP last month. And much like his previously released work, Ambitions draws from the JOVM mainstay’s daily life — with the material conceptually revealing the story of the man behind the breezy and infectious synth pop tunes. Written during a recent trip to California and Malmö, the EP touches thematically touch upon tales about his love-life and allowing himself to let go and experience life as it happens.

“Before going on tour I always make sure to wrap up all the work I have postponed or ignored so I can come back to a blank slate,” the acclaimed Swedish JOVM mainstay says of the forthcoming EP. “But since my tour got cancelled it was the first time in my adult life I actually didn’t have anything to do. It was very freeing and I could sit down and think about what I wanted to create and what I had struggled with in the past. I realised I’ve just wanted too much and never really been able to slow down and see things from a different perspective. The EP itself is about having high ambitions and wanting to do so many things at the same time but not always knowing where to put your focus.”

“One recurring theme in the lyrics is that it is difficult to live in the present,” Alexander adds. “How would it be if you did everything differently? It is the thought of that the grass is greener on the other side, though you know it is not. You just remember the nice things, even though something might have been crap. Like traveling or going to a festival for example. When you are in it, it is neither how you imagined it before, when you where looking forward to it, nor how you remember it afterwards when you remember it as wonderful. It is very much what the texts are about, that you dream away, it is about relationships and life in general. It’s something I’m trying to practice – living in the present, but it’s hard, unfortunately.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about Ambitions single “Good Together,” a swooning pop confection centered round a breezy and atmospheric poduction featuring shimmering synths, strummed acoustic guitar, stuttering beats, a propulsive bass line and the Malmö-born, Los Angeles-born artist’s unerring knack for an infectious hook paired with his plaintive vocals. EP single “Black Jeans” is centered around shimmering and synth arpeggios, skittering trap beats and a sinuous hook. Sonically, the track strikes me as a slick yet earnest synthesis of 80s Quiet Storm pop and brooding atmospherics, making it one of the JOVM mainstay’s more cinematic tracks of his catalog. Much like its immediate predecessor, the track finds its narrator reliving a relationship that has left him with lingering ghosts and regrets with the sort of nostalgia that takes him away from the present he should be paying attention to right this moment.

Directed and animated by James Edwards, the recently released video follows a white-clad, motorcycle riding Alexander, cruising through town. Eventually winding up in a romantic little bar by himself, the animated Alexander has thoughts on one thing — the beautiful women, who got away.

“’Black Jeans’ is episode two in the animated series about Summer Heart. It takes place in Summer Heart’s hometown Los Angeles,” James Edwards explains. “Still in his white suit and on his red motorbike he continues helping people conquer their negative thoughts. At the same time the protagonist struggles on a personal level as he is falling back into bad habits and bad relationships.”

New VIdeo: Hamburg’s Seasurfer Releases a Surreal and Brooding Visual for “SOS”

Dirk Knight is a Hamburg-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and grizzled scene vet. Knight’s musical career began back in the 90s: his previous band Dark Orange was a pioneering act in the Heavenly Voices scene — and as a result, he collaborated with Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie. With his latest recording project Seasurfer, which he started in 2013, the Hamburg-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist eschews the traditional rock band set up and collaborates with a rotating cast of vocalists and musicians, who help flesh out the project’s sound. Through his first two critically applauded Seasurfer albums, Knight has worked with members of Trespassers William, Whimsical, Jaguwar and Last Leaf Down.

Knight’s third Seasurfer album Zombies was released last month through Reptile Music and the album finds the Hamburg-based act refining the sound that has won them fans internationally: while still retaining the fuzziness and layers of reverb, the German, there has been an increased focus on drawing from cold wave and dark wave influences — with the material employing the use of synths, motorik-like grooves, and synthetic beats in what the act has dubbed “electrogaze for dancers and dreamers alike.”

Written and recorded during tight pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, Zombies thematically crafts a dark and murky portrait of a society on the brink of annihilation. Interestingly, the album is the first Seasurfer album that features Knight playing and recording all of the instrumentation and contributing some vocals. The first part of the album finds Knight collaborating with singer/songwriter Apolonia. As the duo were putting the finishing touches on Zombies, they both had the distinct impression of the world completely losing its mind: Of course, there’s the fear and uncertainty of COVID-19; but there’s also self-serving political leaders ruled by greed, corruption and lust, as well as the largely ignored, yet unavoidable global climate catastrophe. And the entire ordeal made the duo feel as though they were zombies stumbling through a lost world.

Zombies also will feature a digital only eight track mini album release, The Dreampop Days, which finds Knight collaborating with Kirilan Camera’s Elena Alice Fossi. But in the meantime, Zombies’ latest single, is the dark and brooding “SOS.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, motorik grooves, thumping and skittering beats and industrial clink, clang and clatter, paired with Apolonia’s ethereal cooing. Arguably one of the act’s more dance floor friendly and seductive songs, “SOS” immediately brings 80s post punk and goth to mind — but while reminding me a little bit of No Swoon, Lightfoils, BLACKSTONE RNGRS and the rest of St. Marie Records roster.

The recently released video by JH Rochereuil.is spilt between gorgeously shot footage in black and white, stock footage, psychedelic imagery, digital fuzz, ubiquitous COVID-19 virus and color footage of a political protest/uprising. And it manages to further emphasizes the bleakness of its accompanying audio.

New Video: Los Angeles’ Sleep Still Releases an Enchanting Visual for Slow-burning “The Panoramic”

Los Angeles based dream pop act Sleep Still, led by Mariam McCarthy (vocals, keys) and Scotty Whelan (vocals, guitar) and featuring Kelly Ehrenberg (bass), Chris Kellogg (guitar) and Jeff Darcy (drums, production) can trace their origins to the two separate paths its leaders began before they met:

McCarthy led Detroit-based Silent Violet, an act that shared bills with Yo La Tengo and Bittersweet, contributed three songs to the Rosie O’Donnell-produced film America. received praise from NPR and landed a spot on the West LA Digital Mixtape.
Whelan was a member of alternative rock act Haste The Day, an act that toured nationally along some of the genre’s top artists while working a day job as a music therapist.

McCarthy and Whelan met in 2017, bonding over a mutual love of Explosions in the Sky, Slowdive, The Cure, The War on Drugs and other acts. The duo started writing and recording material under Sleep Still. “With the fast-paced nature of modern culture, we rarely have a moment to breathe, reflect or recharge,'” Sleep Still’s Mariam McCarthy explains. “With Scotty being a music therapist, I was fascinated by this concept. So rest became a central theme for us.”

McCarthy recruited the Detroit’s Kelly Ehrenberg to join while Whelan recruited Chris Kellogg and Jeff Darcy to complete the band’s lineup. Playing around Los Angeles, the members of Sleep Still quickly developed a natural chemistry.

The Los Angeles-based dream pop quintet’s latest single “The Panoramic” originally played over the end credits off Amazon Prime’s The Protestants, a film for which McCarthy was interviewed on-screen. “The Panoramic” is a slow-burning and cinematic track centered around a lush arrangement of shimmering synths, reverb washed guitars, dramatic drumming that sounds as though it were inspired by Slowdive, paired with McCarthy’s vocals, which are imbued with an aching vulnerability and strength. But at its core, the song is a contented sigh of a narrator, who has achieved a brief but necessary moment of stillness and connectedness.

“I took a short trip to Palm Springs [CA] and stayed at a hotel where the view was so panoramic, I felt swallowed by it,” McCarthy recalls. “I was holding my baby daughter on my hip, and I felt so at rest. All of my muscles relaxed. I wrote the song and brought it to Scotty. It’s about feeling honest and at ease. It’s also about understanding what we can handle and what we can’t handle, being okay with it, and knowing you need someone beside you in those moments.” McCarthy adds, “It’s ok to take time to drop everything. It’s ok to not need validation on social media. It’s ok to not feel like you have to accomplish some ambitious goal. You can take a minute to rest and be okay with whatever’s happening in the present.”

Directed by JWH, the recently released visual, features dancer and choreographer Xin Ying, who came up with enchanting and expressionistic moves to accompany the song. And much like the song, Ying’s movements are fluid, delicate, graceful and haunting.

With the release of their debut EP I Used to Love You, Now I Don’t, the rising Brighton-based dream pop act Hanya — Heather Sheret (vocal, guitar), Benjamin Varnes (guitar), Dylan Fanger (bass) and Jack Watkins (drums) — received attention nationally and across the blogosphere for a sound that meshes elements dream pop and shoegaze.

Much like countless other bands across the globe, Hanya had plans to build upon a rapidly growing national and international profile: earlier this year,. they released their acclaimed sophomore EP Sea Shoes and they made their Stateside debut at New Colossus Festival back in March. Without having shows or tours, the Brighton-based JOVM mainstays have been busy writing new material, which has included “Texas,” a shimmering bit of dream pop that nods at 70s AM rock, and focuses on the longing and excitement of a new crush/new love/new situationship.

Hanya’s latest single, the hazy and meditative “Monochrome” is centered around Sheret’s gorgeous yet plaintive vocals, shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths and a soaring hook, the new song finds the Brighton-based act boldly crafting a sound and approach that sets them apart from a crowded field of challengers.

“With a break from live shows, each of us had a chance to reinvigorate our songwriting. It’s difficult when you’re always rehearsing for the next show to really mess around and make music with no real direction,” the band says in press notes. “‘Monochrome’ started off this way, a hazy-pop ballad written on a midi-keyboard. Now we’re all back together, we fleshed out the chaos together and developed the track’s full dream-pop potential. It’s a song about re-connection with what makes you happy, taking pleasure from the little things”.
 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Release a Meditative Single and Visual

London-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have sonically bounced between chilly and atmospheric synth pop and shimmering guitar-driven desert noir through four albums: 2012’s Creature of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures, 2016’s Dead Blue and 2018’s Slow Air.

Slated for a January 22, 2021 release through Wrecking Light Records, the London-based JOVM mainstays’ fifth album The Last Exit sonically continues where its predecessor Slow Air left off — 11 songs centered around shimmering and carefully crafted arrangements of organic instrumentation and Tessa Murray’s smoky crooning. Thematically, The Last Exit takes the listener on a hypnotic journey filled with dilapidated and abandoned towns, mysterious shapes on the horizon and long trips that blur the line between what’s there and not there. “We found something out there in the desert – something in the vast landscapes that went on forever,” Greg Hughes says in press notes.

The album was brought into further focus as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. “There’s always something at the end of the road and for us it was this album. Our plans were put on hold – an album set for release, tours, video shoots, travel,” Tessa Murray explains. “We’d been touring nonstop for years, but we were forced to pause everything. We thought the album was finished but with the crisis found new inspiration and started writing again.” Three of the album’s songs — “Crying,” “Static,” and “‘Till We Meet Again” were written during this period and they reflect upon the profound impact of isolation and the human need for social contact and intimacy.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the album’s first single, album title track “The Last Exit.” Centered around a cinematic arrangement that evokes large, indifferent skies and dusty, two-lane blacktop, the track sounded as though it could have been part of the Slow Air sessions while subtly leaning towards the direction of Ennio Morricone soundtrack. “Crying,” The Last Exit’s second and latest single, was written during pandemic-related shutdowns and quarantines. The song captures the uncertainty, boredom, loneliness, heartache and regrets of endless hours of not having anything to really do or anyplace to go — and the obsessively neurotic and anxious self-examination of those endless hours. Centered around twinkling keys, shimmering synth arpeggios, shimmering strummed guitar, haunting whistling, Murray’s plaintive and ethereal cooing and a soaring hook. “Crying” sounds like the duo seamlessly meshed the sounds of Strange Pleasures with Slow Air.

Split between footage of Still Corners’ Murray spending time playing cards, reading books and drinking tea, we see the inevitable cycling of the seasons and the immensity of our planet moving through the universe. And while things may be uncertain and frightening, there are a handful of immutable facts: change is inevitable, the season change, we change.

“The only constant in life is change, this song is about a breakup during a difficult time but it’s also about coping with a fast-moving, uncertain world. Our video shows the immense universe and inevitable change of the seasons. Everything is in flux and that’s the only thing that is certain,” Still Corners’ Tessa Murray says of the new single and accompanying video.