Tag: experimental pop

With the release of their first two EPs, Explore and Explode released in 2016, the up-and-coming Helsinki, Finland-based indie act Lake Jons quickly developed a reputation for  crating forward thinking material with a delicate and atmospheric sound, rooted around driving rhythms, delicate guitar progressions and lush vocals and incredibly hook driven songs that frequently found the act effortlessly blending elements of ambient electronica, lo-fi pop, psych pop, soul, and folk.

As the story goes, the Helsinki-based pop act retreated to a cabin deep in the Finnish forest to record their soon-to-be released self-titled debut album, and as a result the album’s material touches upon the introspection that comes about in severe isolation, existentialism, human relationships and a quiet, deeply mystical connection with the natural world. Now, last November, I wrote about the moody and percussive album single “Breathe Out The Fumes,” a single that reminded me of Caveman‘s Coco Beware, Fredrik‘s Flora meshed with sleek, contemporary electro pop.

“Lake Family,” the up-and-coming Helsinki, Finland-based pop act’s latest single will further their growing reputation for crafting lush, forward-thinking and forward-looking pop that manages to be both familiar and downright alien and as a result, their sound and approach defies lazy categorization. The new single continues in a similar percussive vein as its immediate predecessor, thanks to handclap-led percussion and thumping beats, the song (to me, at least) balances the difficult tightrope of deliberate, introspection and swooning, euphoria — and as a result the song has a subtle yet noticeably tense, push and pull quality between nostalgia, regret, longing and devotion. After all, love ain’t easy; it’s confusing, ridiculous, fearful and nonsensical yet necessary, and it never makes sense.

 

New Video: Miles Francis Returns with Slick Visuals for His Sinuous and Funky New Single

Miles Francis is a 26 year-old, New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who may be one of the city’s most best kept and accomplished secrets as best known as being a member of JOVM mainstays Superhuman Happiness, Antibalas and EMEFE, and as a working musician he has collaborated and performed with an impressive array of artists including Mark Ronson, Sharon Jones, Amber Mark, Angelique Kidjo, Allen Toussaint, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Arcade Fire’s Will Butler and others. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the past year or so, you’d recall that the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter released his debut single “You’re a Star,” which featured mischievously complex and propulsive polyrhythm, bursts of jerky and twinkling, 8 bit Nintendo-like synths around a breezily infectious hook wrapped around hushed vocals. But interestingly, his debut single is a bit of departure from his previously released work — while clearly drawing from Afropop and Afrobeat, the song also seemed to nod at Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads.

Building upon a growing profile as a solo artist, Miles Francis debut EP Swimmers is slated for a February 2, 2018 release. Written in the back of our vans and various hotel rooms while on the road and then recorded in his basement studio, the material reportedly captures the mood and vibe of someone in their early to mid 20s figuring out themselves, the extremely complicated and ambivalent world they’re confronting as adults, how they fit into that world, their purpose and the meaning of their own lives. As Miles Francis explains in press notes, “These five songs captured a raw time for me, when life seemed to be coming to a head. I made an effort not to touch or edit them too much once I had recorded them. I wanted to keep that intimacy in there,” he says. Interestingly, the EP’s first official single “Take It” manages to pair a swaggering and self-assured arrangement featuring arpeggiated synths, a sinuous, funky bass line, boom bap-like drumming with one of the most infectious hooks I’ve heard so far; but ironically, the song’s narrator finds himself fighting through crippling self-doubt and uncertainty, which creates a tense, deeply conflicted vibe to the song. 

Directed by Charles Billot and shot at Brooklyn venue C’Mon Everybody, the recently released video was choreographed by Blake Krapels and features the New York-based singer/songwriter along with dancer Lukasz Zieba, whose movements evoke the song’s tense and conflicted nature — while being stunningly beautiful to look at. 

Currently comprised of Kyle Morton (vocals, piano, guitar), Tony Tanabe (bass, vocals), Dave Hall (guitar, vocals), Shannon Steele (violin, vocals), Jef Hufnagel (violin, vocals), Pieter Hilton (drums, vocals), Alex Fitch (drums, vocals), Tyler Ferrin (horns, guitar, piano, vocals), Ryan McAlpin (trumpet, vocals), Eric Stipe (trumpet, vocals) and Devin Gallagher (percussion, ukelele, vocals), the 11 member Portland, OR-based indie act Typhoon has received attention for a sound that meshes elements of indie rock, baroque pop  and orchestral pop as their material is rooted around complex arrangements and lush orchestration, as well as a penchant for restless experimentation with various styles including classic sea shanties, Country and Western, Eastern European folk and others. And unsurprisingly, they’ve drawn comparisons to Frightened Rabbit, Bright Eyes, Beirut and Arcade Fire among others. Along with that, they’ve received attention for live sets that routinely feature 12 (or more) musicians performing on stage. However, with the release of Hunger & Thirst and A New Kind of House EP the collective’s material revealed an increasingly consistent sound paired with a greater attention on crafting a thematic through-line — with much of their material based around a preoccupation with mortality, based primarily around (and making references to) Morton’s childhood struggles with Lyme Disease.

Adding to a rapidly growing local and national profile, they’ve had their music appear on SyFy’s Being Human, NBC’s Chuck and the major motion picture Veronica Mars, and they’ve opened for the likes of The Thermals, Quasi, Yann Tiersen, Explosions in the Sky, The Decemberists, Belle and Sebastian and The Shins and have toured with Lady Lamb the Bee Keeper, Portugal, the Man and Grouplove. Thanks in part to the success of album single “The Honest Truth,” which was ranked #3 in Paste Magazine‘s Top 50 Songs of 2011 List, and 2013’s White Lighter, which reached #105 on the Billboard 200, #2 on the Heatseekers and was 37 on Paste’s Best Albums list, the members of the collective played sets at 2014’s Lollapalooza and Outside Lands.

After the release of 2015’s live album, Live at Crystal Ballroom, which features the band playing material from off Hunger & Thirst and White Lighter, Morton released his solo debut What Will Destroy You — and during that time, the members of the collective spent time working on the material, which would comprise their soon-to-be released fourth album Offerings. Thematically, the album is centered on a fictional man, who is losing his memory — and in turn, his sense of self.  “I’ve always been preoccupied with memory, losing memory, and trying to recapture memory. I wanted to explore the questions: What does a person become if they don’t know where they came from? What is the essential quality of the person if you strip away all memory?” explains singer/songwriter Kyle Morton in pres note

As the story goes, motivated by his own preoccupation with “losing it,” Morton was inspired by the films of David Lynch, Christopher Nolan’s Memento and Fellini’s 8 1/2, as well as several different books on his nightstand, including Samuel Beckett’s famed Three Novels — in particular, Malloy. “It made it a much darker album for sure,” Morton says in press notes.  Structurally, the album is divided into four different movements — Floodplains, Flood, Reckoning and Afterparty — meant to represent each of the four mental phases the main character goes through when he first realizes that something is wrong, then struggles through the chaos of his situation, and finally moves into acceptance before succumbing to a terrible and unimaginable fate.

Musically, the band evokes an impending doom and chaos that’s supposed to mirror the main character’s sense of fear and anxiety. And to set the set the tone, Morton and company decided to write the material with much more guitar than horns and string arrangements.  “I wanted it to be a darker, more intense rock record, so it’s very guitar-based. It’s going back to my rock roots before Typhoon,” says Morton. But along with that, the material parallels the contemporary world. “I was also reading historian Timothy Snyder and was inspired by his take on how America is at risk of losing their sense of history. If we haven’t learned the lessons of our past, historically, we can’t recognize when elements come back to haunt us, which is what’s happening right now,” Morton adds.

Interestingly, Offering‘s latest single “Darker” is from the album’s third movement, and as Morton explains, the song details some of the final stages of the album’s main character’s memory crisis in which he loses the critical distinctions separating self from other. And naturally all kinds of chaos and confusion ensue. And while the arrangement balances a hook laden arena rock friendliness with a sweeping, cinematic quality, it possesses a tense and creeping anxiousness of someone, who’s fully aware of something horrifying happening to them and that they’re utterly powerless to stop it — but along with that, there’s the strange recognition that whatever it was that it was happening to them is something they’d have a difficult time explaining to someone else. Personally, what makes the song interesting is that Morton as a songwriter has revealed himself to have a novelist’s attention to psychological detail, capturing the fractured thoughts and uncertain emotions of someone slowly losing it all.

 

The band will begin 2018 with a lengthy US and European tour, and it includes a January 27, 2018 stop at The Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out the tour dates below.

 

 

TOUR DATES:
01.10 – URBAN LOUNGE – SALT LAKE CITY, UT (TICKETS)
01.12 – GOTHIC THEATRE – ENGLEWOOD, CO (TICKETS)
01.14 – THE WAITING ROOM – OMAHA, NE (TICKETS)
01.17 – TURF CLUB – SAINT PAUL, MN (TICKETS)
01.18 – MAJESTIC THEATER – MADISON, WI (TICKETS)
01.19 – THE METRO – CHICAGO, IL (TICKETS)
01.20 – EL CLUB – DETROIT, MI (TICKETS)
01.23 – LEE’S PALACE – TORONTO, ON (TICKETS)
01.25 – PARADISE ROCK CLUB – BOSTON, MA (TICKETS)
01.26 – UNION TRANSFER – PHILADELPHIA, PA (TICKETS)
01.27 – MUSIC HALL OF WILLIAMSBURG – BROOKLYN, NY (TICKETS)
01.31 – 9:30 CLUB – WASHINGTON, DC (TICKETS)
02.01 – CAT’S CRADLE – CARRBORO, NC (TICKETS)
02.02 – TERMINAL WEST – ATLANTA, GA (TICKETS)
02.03 – EXIT IN – NASHVILLE, TN (TICKETS)
02.06 – THE MOHAWK – AUSTIN, TX (TICKETS)
02.08 – THE CRESCENT BALLROOM – PHOENIX, AZ (TICKETS)
02.10 – MUSIC BOX – SAN DIEGO, CA (TICKETS)
02.11 – TERAGRAM BALLROOM – LOS ANGELES, CA (TICKETS)
02.13 – THE INDEPENDENT – SAN FRANCISCO, CA (TICKETS)
02.16 – THE CROCODILE – SEATTLE, WA (TICKETS)
02.23 – CRYSTAL BALLROOM – PORTLAND, OR (TICKETS)
02.24 – RICKSHAW THEATRE – VANCOUVER, BC (TICKETS)
02.28 – THE DEAF INSTITUTE – MANCHESTER, UK (TICKETS)
03.01 – BROADCAST – GLASGOW, UK (TICKETS)
03.02 – THE LEXINGTON – LONDON, UK (TICKETS)
03.07 – LE PETIT BAIN – PARIS, FRANCE (TICKETS)
03.08 – BOTANIQUE – BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (TICKETS)
03.09 – PARADISO – AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (TICKETS)
03.10 – KNUST – HAMBURG, GERMANY (TICKETS)
03.13 – VEGA – COPENHAGEN, DENMARK (TICKETS)
03.14 – MUSIK & FRIEDEN – BERLIN, GERMANY (TICKETS)
03.15 – FLUC – VIENNA, AUSTRIA (TICKETS)
03.16 – GARE DE LION – WIL, SWITZERLAND (TICKETS)
03.18 – ROYAL – BADEN, SWITZERLAND (TICKETS)
03.20 – ARTHEATER – COLOGNE, GERMANY (TICKETS)

New Audio: The Gorgeous and Soaring Sounds of Dublin’s Cloud Castle Lake

Currently comprised of Daniel McAuley (vocals, synths), Brendan William Jenkinson (guitar, piano), Rory O’Connor (bass) and Brendan Doherty (drums), along with a rotating cast of collaborators and friends, the Dublin, Ireland-based act Cloud Castle Lake derive their name from a Vladimir Nabokov short story about a voyager, who finds a place so beautiful that he wants to spend the rest of his life there, but is cruelly dragged back to reality. And with their 2014 self-released debut EP, Dandelion, the Irish act received attention for a sound that routinely juxtaposes dark and despairing lyrics with a euphoric catharsis that increasingly draws from the work of Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders while being equal parts pastoral folk and soaring post-rock crescendos. And adding to a growing profile, the band has opened for touring acts such as Glasser, Lisa Hanningan and Ultraisa. 

Cloud Castle Lake had recently re-surfaced with the release of “Twins,” their first single in quite some time and building upon the buzz of that single, the Irish quartet released the stunning and breathtakingly gorgeous, Amnesiac-era Radiohead-like single “Bonfire,” which features twinkling, arpeggiated keys, and jazz-infected drumming and a tender yet soaring melody. As the band’s Daniel McAuley explained in press notes, “Bonfire is based around a pretty simple melody I came up with a few years ago. I kept being drawn back to it periodically and steadily adding and expanding it until it grew out into a full song. Writing it felt like a meditative task – what I’d imagine knitting a scarf is like. The choir parts were performed by our pals Tonnta, a contemporary choral group from Dublin. The giddiest day of recording for me was probably the first day they came in and sang through their parts. Getting to hear such talented musicians turn all that midi data and notation into music feels like magic. The lyrics have to do with doubt and denial and keeping secrets. They’re very loosely based on an old Irish/Welsh myth about rival tribes trying to find out the secret name of the other’s god in order to defeat them.”

Next month, the members of the Irish quartet will be embarking on a 5 date North American tour with stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and a February 6, 2018 stop at Rockwood Music Hall. These tour dates will serve as a bold re-introduction to the band, as well as building up buzz for the band’s Rob Kirwan-produced debut, slated for a Spring 2018 release. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Austrian Pop Duo Leyya Releases Quirky and Surreal Visuals for Their Genre-Bending Single “Drumsolo”

With the release of their debut single Spanish Disco, the Vienna, Austria-based indie electro pop duo Leyya, comprised of Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer quickly received both national and international attention, thanks to the success of viral hit single “Superego,” which received nearly 3 million streams on Spotify. Adding to a growing profile, the duo played some of the European Union’s biggest music festivals including The Great Escape, Liverpool Sound City, Tallinn Music Week, Primavera Sound, Reeperbahn Festival, Iceland Airwaves and a headlining set at Popfest. Along with that the duo have received airplay on Huw Stephens‘ and Phil Taggart‘s BBC Radio 1 shows and Lauren Laverne‘s BBC Radio 6 show, been playlisted on Germany’s Radio 1, as well as praise from Pigeons and Planes, Wonderland Magazine, Clash Magazine, Konbini, The 405 and Consequence of Sound among others.

The duo’s highly anticipated sophomore effort Sauna is slated for a January 26, 2018 release, and the album’s latest single “Drumsolo” will further cement their reputation for crafting ambient and moody electro pop but while revealing that the duo have expanded their sound quite a bit, as the song finds the duo with a subtly layered sound nodding at hip-hop, R&B and jazz in a way that reminds me of BRAIDS andSoftspot but with a coquettish and swaggering self-assuredness.

“‘Drumsolo’ is one of our favourite tracks of the new album, ” the duo told NOISEY. “On the one hand, it’s very complex (at one point, it doesn’t even make sense ‘music theoretically’). But, on the other hand, the melody is very catchy, so you don’t notice its quirkiness; that’s what we always wanted our tracks to be like: different layers to discover depending on the listener’s mood.”

Directed by All Most Famous, the recently and released and brightly colored video possesses a surreal, Dadaesque dream-like nature as it features an Oscar the Grouch meets car wash brush machine-like character rocking out on the drums in a variety of settings, bubbles, balloons that are inflated and popped, fast-forwarded and rewound scenes, colored water and more. And while initially, it may strike some viewers as some insane and mischievous fashion commercial that they can’t quite comprehend, it also manages to further emphasizes the song’s overall quirkiness. 

The up-and-coming, Helsinki, Finland-based Lake Jons retreated to a cabin deep in the Finnish forest to record their full-length debut album, an album that finds the trio establishing a unique sound that effortlessly blends ambient, lo-fi pop, psych, soul and folk. And as you’ll hear on the percussive and moody album single “Breathe Out The Fumes,” the trio’s sound nods at the likes of Caveman‘s Coco Beware, Fredrik‘s Flora and sleek contemporary electro pop and electro soul.

With the release of their debut single Spanish Disco, the Vienna, Austria-based indie electro pop duo Leyya, comprised of Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer quickly received both national and international attention, thanks to the success of viral hit single “Superego,” which received nearly 3 million streams on Spotify. Adding to a growing profile, the duo played some of the European Union’s biggest music festivals including The Great Escape, Liverpool Sound City, Tallinn Music Week, Primavera Sound, Reeperbahn Festival, Iceland Airwaves and a headlining set at Popfest. Along with that the duo have received airplay on Huw Stephens‘ and Phil Taggart‘s BBC Radio 1 shows and Lauren Laverne‘s BBC Radio 6 show, been playlisted on Germany’s Radio 1, as well as praise from Pigeons and PlanesWonderland MagazineClash Magazine, Konbini, The 405 and Consequence of Sound among others.

The duo’s highly anticipated sophomore effort Sauna is slated for a January 26, 2018 release, and the album’s latest single “Drumsolo” will further cement their reputation for crafting ambient and moody electro pop but while revealing that the duo have expanded their sound quite a bit, as the song finds the duo with a subtly layered sound nodding at hip-hop, R&B and jazz in a way that reminds me of BRAIDS and Softspot but with a coquettish and swaggering self-assuredness.

“‘Drumsolo’ is one of our favourite tracks of the new album, ” the duo told NOISEY. “On the one hand, it’s very complex (at one point, it doesn’t even make sense ‘music theoretically’). But, on the other hand, the melody is very catchy, so you don’t notice its quirkiness; that’s what we always wanted our tracks to be like: different layers to discover depending on the listener’s mood.”

 

 

Comprised of four long-time friends James Donald, Adam Halliwell, Kevin McDowell and
Tom Shanahan, the Melbourne, Australia-based quartet Mildlife, largely inspired by the likes of Can and Herbie Hancock, bonded over the desire to push musical boundaries as far as possible. And interestingly enough the quartet developed a reputation locally for completely live improvised live sets based around am incredibly unique retro-futuristic sound that draws from, prog rock free jazz, jazz fusion, 70s and 80s synth funk, house music, dream pop and krautrock, while also nodding at contemporaries like Floating Points, Caribou, Drakkar Nowhere and others.

Although the members of the band will openly say that they’re not they’re not a studio band, they did spend 2014-2015 off from live shows so they could figure out how to accurately replicate their live sound within the studio — without losing its complexity and nuance. “It makes the performance, the composition, more malleable,” says guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Adam Halliwell. Bassist Tom Shanahan adds “It feels more authentic. The energy can be in the song rather than sitting on top of it. We wanted to leave a lot of room for improvisation.”

The Melbourne-based quartet’s full-length debut Phase is slated for release sometime early next year through Research Records and the album’s first official single “The Magnificent Moon” is rooted around a expansive and kaleidoscopic composition featuring layers of tight, arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line and a propulsive backbeat that’s roomy enough for some funky jazz-like guitar soloing and a cosmic ray-like synth solo, a trippy bridge and razor sharp hooks — and while being decidedly retro-futuristic, the song reveals the members of the Melbourne-based quartet to be among some of their homeland’s most adept and finest musicians, as they manage to walk the difficult tightrope between a deliberately crafted composition and free-flowing improvisation in a way that’s intriguing.