JOVM pays tribute to Prince on what would have been his 62nd birthday.
Pongo is an up-and-coming Luanda, Angola-born, Lisbon, Portugal-based pop artist. As a child, the Angolan-Portuguese pop artist’s family was forced to feel Angola to escape a lengthy and very bloody civil war that decimated their homeland. Pongo and her family eventually settled in Lisbon, where she’s lived ever since.
The Angolan-Portuguese pop artist got the attention of the acclaimed, Portuguese act Buraka Som Sistema, an electronic dance music act that specialized in a sound that meshed tech beats with zouk, a rapid-fire musical style from Martinique and Guadeloupe and kuduro, an up-tempo dance music genre from Angola that blends elements of soca and samba, in what was dubbed zouk bass and progressive kuduro. In 2008, Buraka Som Sistema released their smash hit, “Kalemba (Wengue Wengue), a single that went on to sell 10 million copies and eventually landed them a MTV Europe Award for Best Portuguese Act. Adding to a growing international profile, the track received co-signs from the likes of Diplo, Hot Chip and Shakira.
Released last year, Pongo’s solo debut Baia EP was a genre-blurring, globalist affair that found the Angolan-Portuguese artist pairing Portuguese lyrics with a sound that meshed elements of Angolan kiduro with Western styles like techno and bass. Released just before her appearance at this year’s Great Escape Festival, the expanded edition of the Baia EP features a new track, “Chora.” Deriving its title from the Portuguese word for “cry,” Pongo’s latest single meshes dancehall, soca and trap within a slick production consisting of glistening bursts of steel drum and snares, stuttering, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and self-assured and vaguely trap and hip-hop inspired vocal delivery from the Angolan Portuguese artist. The Baia EP expanded edition also features remixes of “Chora” by 20syl, who has remixed and re-worked material by King Krule, Schoolboy Q, and Rihanna — and a remix by Anoraak, which will be released through renowned French electronic music label Kitsune next month.
Created by French direction and production duo Rush Hour, the recently released video for “Chora” is a pastel-colored, Dadaesque, pan-African dream, centered around a stunningly beautiful, up-and-coming, global star.
Several years ago Red Bull Music Academy invited the legendary electronic music artist ad producer Giorgio Moroder to speak in front of a small group of music students about music, his creative process and more — and to what was then-billed as his first ever live DJ set at the now-defunct Williamsburg, Brooklyn nightclub Output. Along with his long-time collaborator and musical director Chris Cox, Moroder played a 75-minute set of re-arranged and exclusive remixes of some of his massive hits, as well as a Google-commissioned song (because of course, Google would do that) and his collaboration with Daft Punk.
Moroder’s DJ set manages to be an encompassing and thoughtful primer on his work and imitable sound, as well as about 45 years of disco and electronic music that boldly reminds the listener that the Italian-born, Beverly Hills-based legend would be on the proverbial Mount Rushmore of all things electronic music — and that without his work and his fellow electronic music pioneers, that 3/4s of the things you’ve listened to since about 1976 or so wouldn’t be possible. Personally though, the Red Bull Music Academy set brings back a flood of memories of one of the most formative periods of my entire life: I can picture myself as a small boy watching my mother cleaning and signing along (terribly off-key) to Donna Summer‘s “Bad Girls,” “I Feel Love” “Hot Stuff,’ and “Love to Love You, Baby” as though it were yesterday.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the years, you may recall that I’ve posted this DJ set, which in some way makes this sort of a re-post; but this is necessary because the electronic music pioneer celebrates his 79th birthday today and we should be dancing the day and night away in his honor.
Born Jennifer Hays, the Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jenn Champion grew up in Tucson, AZ, where in the mid 90s, she worked at a local pizza shop with future bandmates Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke. In 1997 the trio moved to Olympia, WA for about a year, before settling in Seattle and forming Hays’ first band Carissa’s Wierd. Although they only released three albums before splitting up in 2003, the band had a cult following that has resulted in the release of three compilation albums of their work, including 2010’s They’ll Only Miss You When You’re Gone: Songs 1996-2003, which was released through Hardly Art Records.
Since the breakup of Carissa’s Wierd, Champion has focused on several acclaimed solo projects including, the sparse, guitar and vocals-based pop project S, and with S she has released four albums, including 2010’s I’m Not As Good At It As You and 2014’s Chris Walla-produced Cool Choices. Critics and fans have applauded her open-hearted lyrics, technical skill and willingness to eschew conventions — and perhaps more important for writing sad songs meant to be cried to (or should I say be cried with?). Interestingly, the B side of Champion’s last S album found her moving towards a more electronic-based sound; however, her single “No One” found Champion fully embracing electronics. “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” Champion says in press notes. While she’d initially intended to follow Cool Choices with “a rock record – guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” plans changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.”
After the release of “No One,” Champion’s publishers partnered her with Brian Fennell, an electronic music artist, songwriter and producer best known as SYML and the pair co-wrote “Leave Like That,” which was featured on SYML‘s Hurt For Me EP. Champion and Fennell hit it off so well that after Champion had written the demos for her forthcoming full-length Single Rider, she enlisted Fennell as a producer. Fennell agreed and they spent the next five months working on and refining the material on Single Rider. As Champion recalls, “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been,” and as a result the material evolved into a slickly produced, anthemic dance floor friendly album; however, the new album reportedly finds Champion maintaining the earnest emotionality and vulnerability that has won her attention — but this time, the album’s material finds the acclaimed Seattle-based singer/songwriter imploring the listener to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance heartache, outrage and disappointment away, for a little bit at least. And goddamn it, sometimes strobe light, thumping bass and shimmering synths are so absolutely necessary to your basic survival.
Single Rider‘s latest single “Time To Regulate” is a slickly produced, sultry and propulsive bit of dance music centered around layers of shimmering, arpeggiated synths, cowbell-led percussion, thumping beats and an anthemic hook that reminds me of Soft Metals‘ Lenses, Cut Copy‘s In Ghost Colours, of 80s synth soul and Giorgio Moroder; but underneath the slick production, thumping beats and razor sharp hooks, there’s a desperate person trying to put on a brave face on a daily basis — with the acknowledgment that sometimes just being can be difficult in itself, and that adds a triumphant, “well, fuck man,” vibe to the shimmering proceedings.
08.09.18 – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
08.10.18 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
08.16.18 – Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg T
Over the past few months I’ve written a bit about the Swiss-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sam Himself, and as you may recall he first recieved attention with the 2017 release of his genre-defying EP Songs in D. Since then, the Swiss-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist has built upon the early buzz around him with the release of several singles off his forthcoming Nobody EP — the old-fashion, slow-burning“Out of Love,” featuring denetia and sene’s denetia that struck me as nodding at Johnny Cash‘s and June Carter Cash‘s “If I Were a Carpenter” — but with a subtle twist, as the song according to the Swiss-born, New York-based artist “is a desperate promise to keep a lover from leaving.” Himself followed that up with with the synth and guitar-based “Nobody,” a song that brought Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born to Run” “Born in the USA,” and “Glory Days” and Caveman‘s self-titled album to mind, as the song featured rousingly anthemic, fist raising hooks.
Nobody EP‘s latest single “Heartphones” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor: it’s centered around soaring synths, an anthemic hook and thumping drums but underneath the song’s rousing uplift is a a vulnerable narrator, who is plagued by nagging doubts as he’s chasing his dream, especially when things seem bleak and uncertain. “If you’ve ever chased a dream and bet the farm on it, you know the moments of deep doubt that come with true commitment,” Sam explains. “I tried to capture that experience of losing faith in your own pursuit, where you cross-examine yourself like a lover in crisis: How much are you willing to pay for the thing you can’t live without? How much will it cost you? Heartphones is a love song about doing what you love.”
Currently comprised of founding members and primary songwriters Slowdive’s Christian Savil (guitar, bass, keys, and vocals) and Sean Hewson (guitar, bass, keys, and vocals), along with Air Formation’s James Harrison (drums) and Slowdive’s Nick Chaplin (bass), shoegazer act Monster Movie can trace their origins to when Savil and Hewson played in a number of bands together, going back to the late 80s — including a band called Eternal, which released a single through Sarah Records that featured the dreamy and fuzzy guitars, and soaring pop melodies that Savil would gradually become known for; in fact, interestingly enough, Savil left Eternal to join Slowdive. About a decade later, Savil and Hewson started their side project Monster Movie with the intention of writing and recording more Krautrock-leaning material; however, their first EP wound up being much more shoegazer rock with a few seconds of something remotely Krautrock-leaning.
Now, if you had been frequenting this site over the course of this year, you may recall that I have written about Monster Movie earlier, and that between the years 2002-2010, Savil and Hewson released four, full-length albums, a mini-album and
During the period of 2002-2010, Savil and Hewson released four full-length albums, a mini album and a two EPs mostly through Graveface Records. And perhaps unsurprisingly, the band has been on an extended hiatus at Savil and Hewson have been involved with Slowdive’s reformation and subsequent touring; in fact, the duo have claimed that their involvement in Slowdive was instrumental in helping the band’s primary songwriters and founding members realize that they’ve needed to move from being a pure studio-based project to being a proper, live band.
Produced by Graveface Records’ founder and head Ryan Graveface and recorded with Martin Nichols at Weston-super-Mare, the band’s fifth album Keep The Voices Distant was released last week through Graveface Records and from the album’s first single, “Shouldn’t Stay From The Shadows,” the band further cements their long-held reputation for crafting rousingly anthemic material that walks the tightrope between fuzzy and towering shoegaze rock and power chord-heavy Brit Pop with a decidedly radio-friendly vibe. But pay close attention, as just underneath the surface, the song’s narrator describes a dysfunctional and abusive relationship — the soft of relationship in which the song’s narrator self-flaggelates himself while simultaneously abusing his partner.
Fittingly for the song’s dark overtones, the recently released video features projected imagery of someone writing the song’s lyrics while within the tub, imagery revealing the band being submerged in water.
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