Tag: electro pop

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Yumi Zouma Returns with a Shimmering and Ambivalent Pop Confection

Throughout the course of this site’s almost 10 year history — yes, 10 years! — I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the internationally acclaimed synth pop act Yumi Zouma. Originally formed in Christchurch, New Zealand, the act has featured members spread out across the globe most of their history together, with Josh Burgess (guitar, vocals) based in New York, Charlie Ryder (guitar, bass, keys) based in London and Christie Simpson (vocals, keys) based in Christchurch. Over the course of the band’s history, they’ve received praise across the blogosphere and from internationally recognized outlets for a breezy yet bittersweet, 80s inspired synth pop sound centered around Christie Simpson’s ethereal and achingly tender vocals.

Late last year, the acclaimed indie electro pop act signed to Polyvinyl Record Co, who will release the band’s highly-anticipated, self-produced, third album Truth or Consequence. Slated for a March 13, 2020 release, the album thematically focuses on distance — both real and metaphorically. with the album’s material touching upon romantic and platonic heartbreak, real and imagined emotional distance, disillusionment and being out of reach. 

The JOVM mainstays started off 2020 with the release of the album’s first official single “Cool For A Second.” Christie Simpson’s ethereal, wisp-like vocals effortlessly glided over softly padded beats, shimmering synth arpeggios and soaring hooks — and while being simultaneously hopeful and melancholy, the song thematically was centered around the idea that life doesn’t always provide the answers or closure you may want. But it manages to capture the sense of relief that comes from recognizing and saying the truth — even if only to yourself. 

“Southwark,” Truth or Consequence’s latest single is a cinematic and swooning bit of synth pop, centered around a New Order-like bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, an anthemic and infectious hook paired with Christie Simpson’s ethereal cooing. Much like the album’s previously released material, the song is somewhat ambivalent: there’s hopefulness in finding love and being in love, but the melancholy awareness that nothing is perfect and all things come to an end, one way or the other. 

Sharing the meaning behind the track, songwriter Christie Simpson explained that the song “…feels like a dedication, a mantra, a promise to myself. I wrote the chorus line about the someone in particular that I was with at the time, but it now feels like a universal truth for my relationships, a dedication that goes to every person I’ve loved and those that I’m still loving now. I can be quite dramatic in love and relationships, and I don’t always do or say the right thing when I should, but I do throw myself in completely (for better or worse). I loved that idea of repeating that dedication – ‘I am imperfectly yours’.” Adding, “This track has haunted me a little every time I listen, there’s something melancholy that sits in there alongside that overall feeling of quiet elation. I suppose that speaks to the classic dichotomy of love and relationships – nothing is ever 100% good or perfect, and that’s what I am constantly trying to come to terms with.”

Directed and shot by the members of the JOVM mainstay act, the recently released video is split between footage of the band performing the band in the studio, the band at the beach at sunset with Lorenzo Fanton’s specifically created font superimposed over the proceedings — essentially creating a visual that’s part lyric video and part official video. “A bit of a Yumi tradition is having at least one video on a record we shot ourselves,” the band’s Josh Burgess explains in press notes. “While we’re not going to be nominated for an Oscar anytime soon, it’s always fun to grab a camera and start shooting. It felt like too good of an opportunity to pass up having us all sitting there in a photo studio mere moments after the centerfold picture of our record. From there we headed off to the beach for sunset. Christie wanted to get into the water but the threat of hypothermia proved too much! It’s also the first video/time we’ve ever revealed lyrics so overtly! The fantastic Lorenzo Fanton’s typeface was too good to pass up!”

Advertisements

BisonBison is a rising Toronto-based electronic music collaboration featuring producers Dani Ramez and Chad Skinner, drummer and producer Brad Weber, multi-instrumentalist Sinead Bermingham and vocalist Sophia Alexandra. Each individual of the Canadian collective have different musical backgrounds, including traditional Irish folk, Middle Eastern music, trip hop, jazz and funk. Citing Bonobo, Helios, and Christian Löffler as influences, the members of the Toronto-based electronic act have developed and crafted a sound that meshes elements of folk, downtempo electronica and electronic dance music. 

Released earlier this month through Zozaya Records, BisonBison’s full-length debut Hover can trace its origins back to a series of loose acoustic jams between a cast of collaborators and musicians that ultimately filtered down to the band’s current lineup and Caribou’s Brad Weber contributing drums — with the bandmembers piecing material together into the album’s material. “Recover,” Hover‘s first single received support from media outlets like Earmilk and Clash MagazineBuilding upon a growing profile, the album’s third and latest single, the hypnotic album title track “Hover” is a lush and atmospheric track centered around shimmering and twinkling synths, a sinuous bass line, thumping beats, enormous hook and Sophia Alexandra’s ethereal cooing. Sonically, the song is an ambitious and dance floor friendly mesh of trip-hop, ambient electronica and acid house that sounds familiar yet novel.

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Savages’ Jehnny Beth Releases a Feverish and Sensual Visual for “Flower”

Camille Berthomier is a Poitiers, Vienne, France-born, London-based singer/songwriter, actress, author and musician, professionally known as Jehnny Beth — and as the frontwoman of the Mercury Prize-nominated, critically applauded act Savages. With Savages, Beth has developed a unique lyrical perspective and stage presence that has captivated audiences across the world for the better part of the past 15 years or so. 

Interestingly, Beth’s solo debut To Love Is To Live, which is slated for a May 8, 2020 release through Caroline Records finds the longtime Savages frontwoman boldly stepping into and claiming the spotlight. Recorded in Los Angeles, London and Paris, the album finds Beth collaborating with an eclectic array of producers and artists including Flood, Atticus Ross, longtime collaborator and Savages bandmate Johnny Hostile, Adam “Cecil” Barlett, The xx’s Romy Madley Croft,IDLES’ Joe Talbot and Golden Globe-winning actor Cilian Murphy. Reportedly, the album is ad ark and cinematic meditation on the strangeness of being alive. Thematically, the album sees Beth tapping into and accessing the darkest and least comfortable parts of herself to craft material that’s cathartic, abrasive, fearlessly honest and vulnerable. 

To Love Is To Live’s second and latest single “Flower” is a brooding and atmospheric track centered around a murky and tempestuous pulse, shimming synth arpeggios and Beth’s sultry cooing and crooning. The end result is a song that’s simmers with a feverish and obsessive lust. Reportedly written about a pole dance at Los Angeles’ Jumbo’s Clown Room, the song details the complicated and confusing depths of sexuality, desire, possession and loss. 

Directed by Peaky Blinders’ Anthony Byrne, the recently released video for “Flower” continues an ongoing collaboration with the acclaimed director. Shot in a gorgeously cinematic black and white, the video — fittingly enough — is a fever dream that captures the intersection of fantasy, desire, longing and loss. 

Along with the release of her solo debut, the acclaimed French-born, British-based singer/songwriter, musician and actress will be releasing her first book, a collection of erotic short stories paired with photography from her longtime collaborator and bandmate Johnny Hostile. Slated for a June 11, 2020 release through White Rabbit, Crimes Against Love Manifesto (C.A.L.M.) will help to establish Beth and Hostile as two of the most provocative and forward-thinking voices in contemporary fiction and erotic art. 

Over the past 18 months or so I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Toronto-born and-based singer/songwriter Raffa Weyman, best known as RALPH. Weyman quickly emerged into the national and international pop scene with the release of her bittersweet, disco-inspired debut single “Trouble” in 2015. Over the next couple of years, Weyman released a series of attention-grabbing  singles that found the Canadian pop artist restlessly bouncing between different genres and styles, including the the country and western-tinged “Young Hearts Run Free” and the ambitious, radio friendly pop Girl Next Door.”

After receiving an IHeartRadio’s Much Music Video Awards Best New Canadian Artist nomination, Weyman released her RALPH full-length debut, 2018’s A Good Girl.  “I wrote ‘A Good Girl’ over the course of a year, maybe a little more…and a lot happened in that year,” Weyman explained in press notes at the time. “Because I use songwriting as a type of therapy and a way to explore my feelings, the songs naturally began to reflect everything that was happening in my life. Sometimes I was hurting, other times I was the one hurting someone else, and then to make it more complicated, sometimes I’d be both, like in the last song ‘Cereal’. The album name is a tongue in cheek way of reflecting upon the tracks and their stories, because they represent a multi-faceted character who is good hearted but makes mistakes – no one is ever one thing, we’re not good or bad and shouldn’t feel guilty about it. ​​​​​​”

Interestingly, the Toronto-based JOVM mainstay begins 2020 with the launch of her new label Rich Man Records. The label derives its name from a famous Cher quote: “My mom said to me, ‘You know sweetheart, one day you should settle down and marry a rich man.’ And I said, ‘Mom, I am a rich man.'” Along with launch of her new label, the rising Canadian pop artist recently dropped the label’s first release, the shimmering pop confection “Superbloom.” Centered around glistening synth arpeggios reminiscent of Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back,” Weyman’s plaintive and yearning vocals, thumping beats and enormous hooks before featuring some euphoric sax blasts. It’s the sort of song that will make you dance the heartache away.

“I wrote ‘Superbloom’ when I was running in LA. It had been raining a lot which sparked this beautiful desert phenomenon where dormant wildflowers suddenly bloom everywhere and cover the ground for miles,” the JOVM mainstay explains in press notes. “I kept hearing the word mentioned all around me and began to feel weirdly aligned with it. Things in Toronto were feeling emotional and complicated so the idea of a Superbloom became this hopeful mantra for me that things could change and get better.​​​​​​​”

Along with the big announcements, RALPH announced a series of tour dates with joan. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:
* = with joan​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Feb 12th – Philadelphia, PA @ Voltage Lounge *
Feb 15th – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom*
Feb 16th  – Chicago, IL @ Schubas* (SOLD OUT)
Feb 17th – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry*
Feb 19th – Denver, CO @ Globe Hall*
Feb 20th – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court*
Feb 22nd – Seattle, WA @ Columbia City Theatre*
Feb 23rd – Portland, OR @ Holocene*
Feb 26th – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord*
Feb 27th – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan * (SOLD OUT)
Feb 29th – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar*
Mar 2nd – Dallas, TX @ Dada*
Mar 3rd – Austin, TX @ Stubbs Indoors*
Mar 4th – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall*
Mar 10th – Victoria, BC @ Lucky Bar
Mar 11th – Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore
Mar 13th – Calgary, AB @ Dickens
March 14th – Edmonton, AB @ Temple
March 16th – Winnipeg, MB @ Good Will SC

 

Although officially formed last year, the El Paso, TX/Ciudad Juarez, Mexico borderplex trio Estereomance, featuring Adria, Paulina and Manu can trace their origins to several years earlier — and to mutual friendships and a serendipitous meeting: Back in 2017, Adria had  family member, who at the time was battling cancer. Adria and her family hosted a benefit event for that family member — and as it turns out, Manu also attended the benefit. Knowing that Adria was going through a difficult time, Manu invited her to hike through the Franklin Mountains during New Year’s 2017/2018. During that hiking trip, the pair got to know each other a bit better.

After the Franklin Mountains hiking trip, Manu invited Adria into the studio to record a cover of Cultura Profectica‘s “De Antes” that would be dedicated to her family member. Sadly, that family member succumbed to the disease; but the pair began a musical collaboration that eventually lead to them falling in love. Coincidentally. Estereomance’s Paulina is a mutual friend of both Manu and Adria: Paulina and Adria have been friends for the better part of the past decade. Manu and Paulina have collaborated on a number of projects, including acts that have been nominated for Latin Grammys  — and they’ve also been longtime friends.

When the trio got together, they were all in a similar, creative transitional phase, and they noticed an immediate chemistry. Interestingly, the band has developed a creative process that has been successful for them so far: Manu frequently composes beats while having coffee. Paulina then creates improvised ideas to compliment the beats and then Adria comes up with lyrics. This has been largely been created by the bandmembers’ individual experiences and their desire to have their work centered around openness, fearlessness and following what they believe: Adria is a classically trained violinist and actor, who has played in orchestras and plays; Paulina is a vocalist, who has performed with a number of musical projects; and Manu is a bassist, sound engineer and producer, who has worked with an eclectic array of artists at Sonic Ranch Studios.

The trio’s latest single is the lush and slow-burning “Crimson Queen.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, Adria’s achingly plaintive vocals, a two-step inducing rhythm and an enormous hook, “Crimson Queen” is late70s/early 80s inspired synth pop confection that sounds as though it could easily be part of the Stranger Things soundtrack while rooted around an unfulfilled yearning.  “Through time, women’s worth has long been measured by physical beauty and more recently with rise of social media, quantified by the number of likes i response to it,” the band says in press notes. And as a result the song touches upon the increasing social pressure placed on both men and women to fit into a standardized concept of beauty and attractiveness, as well as vanity, obsession and insecurity.

 

 

 

 

New Video: Lower Dens Releases a Psychedelic Visual for “Hand of God”

Formed back in 2010, the acclaimed Baltimore-based dream pop act Lower Dens can trace its origins to when its primary songwriter and founding member Jana Hunter had grown tired of touring and decided to take a hiatus. For what was supposed to be their final tour as a solo artist, Hunter recruited a backing band which featured Geoff Graham, Abram Sanders and Will Adams. Finding that playing with a band was much more enjoyable to them than playing as a solo artist, helped Hunter form Lower Dens. “During that tour, I realized that it wasn’t the touring life that I hated, but more so that the kind of music I wrote as a solo artist wasn’t something I felt entirely comfortable sharing in performance setting. Lower Dens then was the eventual result of the decision to make music with the specific intention of sharing and enjoying it with others,” Hunter said at the time.

Lower Dens’ full-length debut, Twin Hand Movement was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who compared Hunter’s vocals to those of PJ Harvey and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Dusted Magazine, who praised the album’s lyrics for being “delivered without irony, yet self-aware enough to appreciate the obviousness.” While touring to support Twin Hand Movement, the band began writing on the road — but the limitations of writing on the road forced Hunter to work through a laptop and keyboard rather than a guitar, which lead to an increasing presence of synths on what would become their sophomore album Nootropics.

After they completed the tour to support Twin Hand Movement, the band chose to record their sophomore album at The Key Club Recording Company in Benton Harbor, MI.  Hunter cited the studio’s remote location as an imperative part of the writing and recording process. Geoff Graham added that the amount of time spent in the studio allowed them to add extra dimensions to the material to make it lusher and thicker. Largely influenced by Kraftwerk‘s Radioactivity, Fripp and Eno and David Bowie‘s production on Iggy Pop‘s The Idiot, Nootropics was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork. Rolling Stone and Spin. 

Building upon a growing profile, Lower Dens opened for Beach House and indie rock legends Yo La Tengo at the Baltimore stop of the legendary act’s  2013 Fade tour. The following month, they released “Non Grata” on a split 7″ with Baltimore-based band Horse Lords, an effort that was released as part of the Famous Class LAMC series, which benefited VH1’s Save The Music Foundation. 

2015 saw the release of the band’s third album Escape from Evil, which continued a run of critically applauded albums. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes — with the band now being a duo featuring its founding member and primary songwriter Jana Hunter and Nate Nelson. And during that period, the members of Lower Dens had been working on their highly-anticipated follow up to Escape from Evil, The Competition.

Released last September through their longtime label home Ribbon Music, the album is a pop album with an emotionally and politically urgent concept at its core. Competition, by design is the driving force of modern capitalism and the title is Hunnter’s term for a socio-psychological phenomenon that competition generates — a kind of psychosis that accelerates and amplifies our insecurities and anxieties to the point of overload. And as a result our intimacies, our communities and even our senses of self are corroded and distorted. “The issues that have shaped my life, for better or for worse, have to do with coming from a family and a culture that totally bought into this competitive mindset.  I was wild and in a lot of pain as a kid; home life was very bleak, and pop songs were a guaranteed escape to a mental space where beauty, wonder, and love were possible. I wanted to write songs that might have the potential to do that.”

Last year, the members of Lower Dens opened for hit-making act Of Monsters And Men, and they’ll begin this year with a headlining tour to support the album that starts on February 13, 2020 and includes a March 19, 2020 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. (You can check out the rest of the tour dates below.) In the meantime, the album’s latest single, the glistening and propulsive “Hand of God” is centered around Hunter’s achingly expressive vocals, shimmering synth arpeggios and four-on-the-floor drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. Sonically, the song bears a subtle resemblance to Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” and Songs from the Big Chair-era Tears for Fears — but centered around feelings of arrogance, humility and shame. 

“It’s like Cowboy Krautrock,” Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter says about the song in press notes.  “Imagine a wild west adventure, like City Slickers with the star, a wealthy white man. He’s devised a way to conquer God. He has some kind of vaguely dangerous journey, then comes upon God and declares victory. In his hubris, he goes to shake God’s hand, at which time he is psychedelically humbled, his little brain imploding.”

Directed by Aaron Brown and Robby Piantanida, the recently released video, manages to employ a decidedly DIY approach with a bright psychedelic colors — with Hunter seeing the hands of God. 

New Audio: New York-based Pop Artist KAYE Releases a Performance Art Inspired Visual for Anthemic “Too Much”

Charlene Kaye is a New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, who spent her childhood in some rather far-flung places across the globe — living in Hawaii, Singapore, Hong Kong and Michigan before she turned 18. Although she spent time in a number of different places throughout the bulk of her childhood, there was one consistent thing: her parents old soul records and 90s grunge radio, both of which have heavily influenced her own work and career.

Initially starting her career as a solo artist, Kaye is best known for a five year stint as the frontwoman of acclaimed indie act San Fermin, contributing to 2015’s Jackrabbit and 2017’s Belong, which were supported with touring internationally, including sets across the global festival circuit. While touring with San Fermin to support Jackrabbit, Kaye started her latest solo recording project KAYE, releasing a handful of singles and KAYE’s debut EP 2016’s Honey. 

Last year, Kaye left San Fermin in order to fully concentrate on her solo career.  Late last month, Kaye began the year with the Kirk Schoenherr-co-produced single “Closer Than This,” a bold and self-assured feminist pop anthem seemingly indebted to Cherelle, Patrice Rushen, Madonna and Control-era Janet Jackson while thematically touching upon lust, desire, longing, idealization and fantasy and self-preservation, as it features a narrator, who will only give on her terms. “Too Much,” Kaye’s latest single continues an ongoing run of feminist anthems featuring narrators, who have asserted themselves on their own terms. However, unlike its immediately predecessor, “Too Much” is a decidedly electro rock affair that brings St. Vincent and Garbage to mind, thanks in part to some blistering guitar rock and an arena rock friendly hook. 

“I wrote this song to make sense of a period of great emotional confusion in my life,” Kaye explains in press notes. “I had made many drastic changes at the same time regarding my career and my relationships and was left feeling totally unanchored, like I just blew up my life for no reason — even though at my core I knew it was necessary for my own growth.”

Directed by Kaye’s sister Liann Kaye, the recently released video for “Too Much” is inspired by Yoko Ono’s 1964 performance art work “Cut Piece,” in which Ono sits on a stage wearing her best suit, inviting audience members to cut and keep a piece of her clothing until she is completely exposed. Instead of having others remove pieces of her outfit, in the video Kaye is the agent of her metaphorical destruction and rebirth. Kaye’s outfit, which is made up of thousands of individual pieces of fabric that took hours to arrange on her body — and in the video we see pieces of her outfit get torn off, danced off and just fly off until we see the rising pop artist in a nude-colored outfit. 

“I love working with my sister because we’re so in sync creatively, and immediately understand what the other is trying to express.” Liann Kaye shares in press notes. “We shot each part of the song at a different speed, to show how the re-invention of one’s self can feel at once excruciatingly slow and like a freight train of change at the same time.”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the Southern California-born, Madison,WI--based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, Trent Prall, best known for his solo recording project Kainalu, which derives its name for the Hawaiian word for ocean wave. Prall’s work draws from psych pop, psych rock, dream pop, Tropicalia, synth pop and funk, as well as his childhood trips to Oahu, HI visiting his mother’s family, coalescing in a breezy and nostalgia-including sound that Prall has dubbed “Hawaii-fi.” He further developed and expanded upon his sound with the release of his full-length debut Lotus Gate.

Interestingly, over that same period of time, I wound up writing a bit about the Quebec-born and-based classically trained pianist, opera vocalist, electronic pop producer, electronic music producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, best known for her solo recording project MUNYA. Now, as you may recall, as the story goes, Boivin had only written one song when she was asked to perform at 2017’s Pop Montreal Festival. Ironically, at the time, she never intended to pursue music full-time but after playing the festival, she realized that she was meant to be a musician.

Boivin quit her day job, moved in with her sister and turned their kitchen into a home recording studio, where she wrote every day. Those recordings would eventually become part of an EP trilogy that she named after significant places in her life. The Quebec-based JOVM mainstay’s self-released debut EP North Hatley derived its name from one of her favorite villages in her home province. Her second EP, 2018’s Delmano, which was released through Fat Possum Records derives its name from Williamsburg Brooklyn’s Hotel Delmano.

Blue Pine EP, the third and most recent EP of Boivin’s trilogy derives its name for the Blue Pine Mountains in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks — and continues the trilogy’s overall theme of EP’s being named for a significant place in Boivin’s life. The EP trilogy was then combined for the self-titled physical release.

The pair of JOVM mainstays have collaborated on the breezy and infectious “You Never Let Go.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, stuttering beats, Boivin’s plaintive and ethereal vocals and an enormous hook — and while revealing some easy-going yet, ambitious, hook-driven songwriting, the song is a swooning and seamless synthesis of the their individual sounds and aesthetics.

“Josie (Munya) and I met through the Spotify algorithm,” Prall explained in an email to me.”We both admire each other’s music and so we started messaging online and sending ideas back and forth until the song happened. Both of us are self-producing multi-instrumentalists, and so building a track together was very fluid and came easy. After about a week we had the song completed.”  

 

Born to an English father and Italian mother, the emerging Paris-born and-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer and electronic music artist, Frank Woodbridge grew up in a passionate, musical household: at an early age, the Woodbridge family spent their evening listening to their vinyl record collection in front of their huge stereo. “My father loved The Kinks, The Beatles, The Bee Gees and Al Jarreau. My mother introduced me to Stan Getz, Carole King and the romantic refrains of the crooners that reminded her of her childhood,” Woodbridge recalls fondly in press notes. “From the age of ten, I was already deep into The Cure, Depeche Mode, U2. My teenage neighbor had decided to perfect my musical education. And then, Bernard Lenoir on Inter, the many weekends in London . . . I was an indie kid, that was my life.”

After spending many years in rock and electro pop groups as a singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Woodbridge has spent the past few years focusing on composing and composition for films, the web, TV games, sound design for events and stage music for theater. Currently, the French composer, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer and electronic music producer works with Andre Manoukian on his daily chronicle for the Daphne Burki-hosted TV show,. Je T’aime, ETC — and he wrote a comic book Inversion, which follows its composer protagonist.

Centered around layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, Woodbridge’s latest single, the cinematic “Lola dans le bus” recalls JOVM  mainstays Uppermost and M83— but with a dreamy yet melancholy air. Woodbridge explains that the track is an electronic track he composed to drive or daydream along with. He adds that the song is  about running into an ex-girlfriend he lost contact with: he saw her on a bus and waved at her but she didn’t see him. So as a result the song has the sensibility of a missed connection that you’ll never get back — and of unfinished business.