Tag: indie electro pop

Comprised of Ottilia Kjulsten and David Sugar, Girl Crush is an up-and-coming Swedish/British duo that have a special interest in lost youth, heartbreak and a future never arrived. The duo’s singles “Warm Blooded” and “Past Life” received airplay on Phil Taggart’s BBC Radio 1 show while “Radio Silence,” was named The Guardian‘s Track of the Week — and as a result, each single has amassed over 1 million streams on Spotify.

Fittingly, their latest single “Baby Steps,” which was released on Valentine’s Day is a sultry, Quiet Storm-inspired track about taking a relationship to the next level that’s centered around Kjulsten’s ethereal vocals and a shimmering, atmospheric production that will remind some listeners of JOVM mainstays ACES and others.

 

 

 

 

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Last year, I wrote about the Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Justin Phillips, best known for his solo recording project Crywolf. And as the story goes, when he started releasing music, Phillips was practically homeless, living in a room the size of about a closet and subsiding on food stamps. Since then, he has amassed a growing national profile that has included amassing several million streams across the various streaming platforms, a headlining slot on the second largest stage at Electric Forest and praise across both the blogosphere and the major media outlets, including Consequence of Sound, Alternative PressBillboardNylon, Complex.

Now, as you may recall, “CEPHALØTUS,” a single that derived its name from the Latin name of a small, carnivorous plant was a sensual and atmospheric bit of synth pop centered around a production featuring shimmering guitar chords, Phillips’ reverb-drenched, ethereal falsetto paired with dramatic bursts of industrial clang and clatter. And while possessing a surrealistic and almost painterly quality in which the artist slowly layers sound for a specific emotional effect, the song is also a deep dive into the depth of its creator’s psyche.

Slated for a March 22, 2019 release Phillips’ sophomore Crywolf album, widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. 1] and the album’s first single is the urgent, frantic and downright trippy “DRIP.” Centered around a swooning and wobbling production thumping beats, a cacophony of industrial clang and clatter, a looped vocal samples, and plaintive vocal delivery and atmospheric synths, the song is a dramatic and decided push into a new direction sonically. But at its core, the song evokes a narrator whose mind and sanity have begun to fray at the seams, thoughts, observations and feelings seem to rapidly ping pong back and forth throughout. Interestingly, while in the middle of working on his sophomore album, Phillips was forced to take a break, as an entire album worth of material and over $5,000 worth of gear was stolen while he was in Chile. Heartbroken, Phillips headed to Patagonia, where he began to write in a small, wooden cabin in the Huilo Huilo rainforest, which has long been rumored to be haunted with thousands upon thousands of lost souls. Upon his return to the States, Phillips spent time in Twin Peaks, the Blue Ridge Mountains, Reno, NV and the forests just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada — overall a period that the acclaimed producer and electronic music artist has dubbed his “quarter life crisis.”

As Phillips writes about the new single and the forthcoming album, “one of the themes of this album is the exploration of the shadow – the darker, more difficult aspects of the human psyche. People often think they have one unified ‘personality,’ but the truth is that we are made up of up to a dozen different personalities that are only loosely tied together. We feel like we have so much control over our actions and personality characteristics, but often when we pay close attention and are honest with ourselves, we can see that we can’t actually control or even explain large parts of who we are. ‘DRIP’ is the my process of staring into my brain and being brutally honest about some of the really difficult aspects of what I see there. It might not be, but it’s uncomfortably real.”

Phillips will be touring throughout the Spring to support his new album, and it includes an April 5, 2019 stop at Elsewhere‘s Zone One. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

Tour Dates

March 22 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop/Popscene
April 4 – Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall
April 5 – Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere (Zone One)
April 7 – Chicago, IL @ Chop Shop
May 2 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird
May 3 – Dallas, TX @ RBC Deep Ellum
May 10 – Los Angeles, CA @ 1720

Last month, I wrote about the Southern Holland-born, London-based visual artist and electronic music artist and producer, Nick van Hofwegen, best known as Young & Sick. Initially van Hofwegen attempted the traditional route of being an artist by going through design school, but he found its cookie-cutting leanings discouraging and it led him to drop out after finishing his first year. He began working at a car parts factory in rural Holland and quit, eventually relocating to London. When he arrived in London, his friend Mark, the frontman of internationally recognized band Foster the People, introduced him to comedian Andy Dick, who came across some of his visual art and championed it. Additionally, Mark asked van Hofwegen to do the artwork for his band’s 2011 debut Torches.

Although the Southern Holland-born, London-based visual artist, electronic music artist and producer released a full-length album back in 2014, last year was a breakthrough year for him: He released his Ojai EP, an attention-grabbing effort that served as a reintroduction to van Hofwegen’s sound and aesthetic. Adding to a growing profile, van Hofwegen was profiled in NYLON — and EP title track “Ojai” was featured in an ad campaign for Apple Watch.  van Hofwegen followed Ojai EP with the release of the No Static EP, which received praise from The Fader and Variety. He closed out a big year with a cover of Passion Pit’s “Sleepyhead” for Neon Gold Records‘ 10 Year Anniversary compilation.

The Dutch-born, London-based visual artist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer played a run of critically applauded SXSW sets, including Neon Gold’s Neon Golden showcase. He played his first Stateside headlining shows in over 4 years with a pair of Los Angeles and NYC dates that featured an interactive multimedia experience. And as an artist, van Hofwegen had his first ever fine art gallery show last August, which featured a series of his original visual and sculptural pieces — and he designed the album art for Maroon 5‘s Overexposed, Mikky Ekko’s “Kids,” as well as for his work.

Building upon a breakthrough 2018, van Hofwegen will be releasing a new EP that’s slated for a spring release through Neon Gold Records/B3SCI Records. Now, as you may recall, the EP’s first single “Bitter End,” nodded heavily at Teddy Riley-era New Jack Swing, classic Chicago house and C+C Music Factory as it was centered by a production that featured tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, soulful vocals, a rousingly anthemic hook and a “you got this, man” positive vibe. The EP’s latest single “Jet Black Heart” is a swooning and summery bit of synth pop centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, chopped up vocals, a sinuous bass line, stuttering beats and van Hofwegen’s plaintive vocals. Sonically, the slickly produced track is straightforward pop leaning bit of house that van Hofwegen says is “about all consuming love. The kind who’s intensity paralyses you. The sort that makes you lose it completely. It’s the LOVE I feel for making music and art.”

van Hofwegen is currently  opening for The Knocks during their 2019 North American tour during the winter. The tour will include a February 23, 2019 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Check out the tour dates below.  Also tickets are on sale here.

 

Tour Dates
Feb 9 // Austin, TX @ Historic Scoot Inn
Feb 10 // Houston, TX @ Bronze Peacock Room
Feb 12 // St. Louis, MO @ The Ready Room
Feb 14 // Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall
Feb 15 // Columbus, OH @ A&R Music Bar
Feb 16 // Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
Feb 17 // Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Feb 20 // Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
Feb 21 // Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
Feb 23 // Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel

New Audio: Ibibio Sound Machine Releases a Shimmering and Funky Club Banger

Earlier this year, I wrote about the London-based act Ibibio Sound Machine, and the act, which is fronted by Nigerian-born vocalist Eno Williams and features Alfred Kari Bannerman (guitar), Anselmo Netto (percussion), Jose Joyette (drums), Derrick McIntyre (bass), Tony Hayden (trombone, synth), Scott Baylis (trumpet, synth) and Max Grunhard (sax, synth) over the course of their first two albums — 2014’s self-titled debut and 2017’s Uyai — have received attention both nationally and internationally for a sound that’s influenced by golden era West African funk and disco and contemporary post-punk and electro pop. 

Now, as you may recall, the London-based act’s third, full-length album Doko Mien is slated for a March 22, 2019 release through Merge Records, and the album which derives its name from the Ibibio phase that translates into English as “tell me,” reportedly finds the act crafting a sonic world of entrancing specificity and comforting universality, essentially blurring the lines separating cultures, between nature and technology, between joy and pain, between tradition and the future. Album title track  and first official single, “Doko Mien,” was centered around a glimmering, hook-driven club banger  featuring 80s synth funk meets disco-like beats, arpeggiated synths, African polyrhythm, a sinuous bass line and pizzicato guitar and an explosive horn arrangement. Sonically, the song strikes me as a wild, genre-bending amalgamation of I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan, Prince, Michael Jackson‘s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin‘,” Chicago house and Fela Kuti — and adding to the globalist vibes, Williams soulfully sings lyrics in both English and Ibibio, the Nigerian dialect from which the London-based act derives its name.

Doko Mien’s second and latest single “Wanna Come Down” continues in a similar, club-banging vein as its predecessor as its centered around a rubbery, Bootsy Collins meets Flea bass line, an explosive horn line, arpeggiated synths and propulsive beats and Williams powerhouse vocals singing lyrics in her native Ibibio and English. Sonically, the song is a wild and seamless synthesis of 80s synth funk, Afrobeat and JOVM mainstays Escort — all while feeling like a sultry come on. In line with the track’s beckoning title, the band’s frontwoman Eno Williams says, “The Ibibio lyrics of the track are about the healing power of the river and the chorus. ‘Wanna come down, get ready ‘coz we’re gonna go’ is inviting people to come, dance and get involved with what’s going on.”

New Video: Acclaimed French Electro Punk Act Kat Bambino Releases VHS-Styled Video For Rousingly Anthemic Single

Comprised of Caroline Martial (vocals) and Orion Bouvier (electronics, production), the Bordeaux, France-based electro punk act Kat Bambino formed back in 2001, and since their formation they’ve released four full-length albums that includes, 2002’s Love, 2006’s Zero Life Night Vision, 2009’s Blacklist and 2012’s Devotion, a handful of singles and an exciting and uncompromising live show. And as a result, they’ve been featured in NME, Another Magazine, Dummy Mag and Dazed & Confused Magazine — and they’ve played at a number of festivals, including ZXZW/Incubate, Dot to Dot and SXSW. 

Slated for an April 12, 2019 release through Because Music, the French electro punk duo’s fifth, full-length album Dust, Fierce, Forever features 12 tracks that reportedly nod at Eurodance and hardcore. The album’s latest single is the brash and anthemic “Erase.” Centered around propulsive and thunderous beats, layers of arpeggiated and undulating synths, industrial squealing and squawking and Martial’s shouted vocals. Sonically speaking, the song reminds me quite a bit of Atari Teenage Riot and Nine Inch Nails, complete with rousing and enormous hooks. 

The recently released video is a decidedly lo-fi affair, as it prominently features the duo performing the song and captures their energy, while being shot on grainy VHS-like tape and through some old school effects and fade outs. Essentially, it’s an appropriately abrasive, in-your-face vibe. 

Last year, I had written a bit about the acclaimed Bristol, UK-based electro pop/trip hop act The Desert, and as you may recall, the act which is centered around the longtime collaboration between singer/songwriter Gina Leonard and producer/guitarist Tom Freyer can trace its origins to when Freyer had produced some of Leonard’s solo work. And as the story goes, while working together, the duo quickly hit upon a formula of Freyer taking the songs that Leonard had initially written with an acoustic guitar and adding layers of electronics and lush, detailed production.

Slated for a March 8, 2019 release, the acclaimed act’s forthcoming EP Winning You Back builds upon a busy 2018 that saw their first live dates, accompanied in the UK with live backing members Ryan Rogers (bass) and Jonny Parry (drums, electronics), a sold-out hometown show and a BBC Introducing session — and the EP comes right before their first appearance at this year’s SXSW. The EP’s latest single, the ethereal and atmospheric “Bitterness” is built around Leonard’s breathy and achingly tender vocals and shimmering synths and stuttering beats; however, unlike their previously released material, the song has a sense of sighing resignation. In press notes, the act’s Gina Leonard describes how the song is “about coming to terms with being screwed up over and accepting it, and moving forward because it won’t do any good to stew in bitterness. I had written some angry songs, but they’d didn’t sit right and didn’t have a good message, so I was happy when this one came out.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raised in the Atlanta suburbs by Chinese immigrants, the Los Angeles-based electro pop producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Kenny Zhao studied classical piano and composition before he relocated to Southern California. Largely inspired by M83, Charlift, RHYE, Miguel, Washed Out, and Gorillaz, Zhao through his solo recording project, the aptly named Zhao had a breakthrough year last year, with tracks landing on Spotify‘s “Fresh Finds” and “Summer Heat” playlists, eventually reaching #9 on the Hype Machine charts. Adding to a growing profile, Zhao has contributed vocals on tracks by Eric Sharp, Armand Van Helden and Black Coffee — and he’s played at a number of venues across the Los Angeles area, including The Moroccan Lounge, The Satellite and at LA Chinatown’s Lunar New Year Festival.  And while his sound is evolving, he has generally taken a dance floor friendly path.

Building upon a growing profile, Zhao’s latest single is the summery “Feeling Today” will further cement his developing reputation for crafting breezy and funky synth pop, as the track is centered around a sinuous bass line, twinkling keys, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and Zhao’s sultry and soulful vocals. Sonically, the song is a slick amalgamation of 90s neo soul and 80s synth funk that manages to nod at some of Zhao’s influences; but thematically, the song touches upon treating every situation in life as valuable and necessary and putting aside fears of being taken advantage of and processing the idea that all people deserve love. That’s the message – that kindness will set you free. That resentment and fear put you in a cage, and the solution is to forgive yourself, forgive others and move on. There’s also an element of reassuring myself that whatever happens, the best thing I can do is operate within what I can control – honing my craft, and checking in with people I care about”, explains the Zhao.  “I’ve always viewed my songwriting process like a form of self-psychoanalysis…like finding out what I’ve really been thinking about.”

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard Release a Wild Disco Synth Boogie Track

Over the course of an incredibly prolific 2017, the Melbourne, Australia-based psych rock septet and JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, comprised of Stu Mackenzie (vocals, guitar, and flute), Ambrose Kenny Smith (synths, harmonica), Cook Craig (guitar), Joey Walker (guitar), Lucas Skinner (bass), Eric Moore (drums) and Michael Cavanagh (drums) released an incredibly prolific five albums — with each album consisting of material in a wildly different genre and style from the other, further cementing the band’s reputation for being restlessly experimental. In fact, some of their earliest output found the band blending elements of 60s surf rock, beach, rock, garage rock and psych rock with later albums being blends of film scores, prog rock, folk and soul — although two albums Flying Microtonal Banana and The Murder of the Universe found the acclaimed Australian act pushing their thematic concerns and sound in new, and darkly trippy directions.

Now, for a band that’s been as wildly prolific as King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, not having much in the way of new music during 2018 is a bit strange; but the band was busy relentlessly touring, including a headlining set at Desert Daze and three sold out-dates at Brooklyn Steel, the largest venue they’ve played in the States to date. Additionally, the band re-issued their first five albums on vinyl for the first time ever, and it created such a frenzied demand that the Flightless Records website crashed from the traffic. 

The first bit of new material from the Aussie JOVM mainstays, “Cyboogie” finds the band stepping in a wild new direction with five of its seven members playing synths in a funky and strutting disco boogie woogie paired with heavily vocoder’ed vocals that brings From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder, The Man Machine-era Kraftwerk and DEVO to mind, as the song is actually about a dancing cyborg from the future — viewed with a decidedly retro-futuristic and prog rock-leaning. ” 

“Cyboogie,” is accompanied by a visual from longtime collaborator Jason Galea shot in a grainy VHS that has the band’s Mackenzie as a half-man, half-synthesizer who essentially plays himself (no pun intended here), along with the bandmembers. The visuals seem to undulate and pulsate with the synths, which is a wildly hypnotic and hallucinogenic effect. By the way, “Cyboogie” will be released on a limited-edition 7″ inch along with another new track “Arcane.” 

Avery Henderson is a Denver, CO-based multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer, electronic music artist and DJ, best known as Falcon Punch. Over the bulk of the past decade, Henderson has received attention across the blogosphere and this site for specializing in a a sultry, funk and disco-influenced electro pop sound centered by lush keys, guitars and bass that he has dubbed “Dark Island Funk.”

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve personally written about him but throughout that time, he’s been busy producing tracks with a wide array of collaborators across a diverse range of genres. Currently, the Denver-based electronic music producer, electronic music artist, DJ and multi-instrumentalist is gearing up for a string of monthly releases over the next few months to further refine and dial in his sound. Building upon the momentum of  his recent tour across Japan and Taiwan, Henderson’s latest single “Close Enough” is a collaboration with vocalist Megana. Sonically, the song is centered around a breezy late 80s – early 90s production — wobbling synths, twinkling keys, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a sinuous bass line and Megana’s sultry vocals and hook. And while being a summery club banger, the song is a confessional to the listener (and others)  in which the song’s narrator admits she hasn’t gotten over a previous lover, and that she’s using others to fill the time and the loneliness she’s feeling. It’s a  warning that says with bedroom eyes “come hither” — but careful, you might get burned.

Henderson says in press notes about the track, “I wrote the bones of the instrumental of this track early in the summer of 2018 while I was working on my first single with Megana, titled “Amour“. After recording “Amour” I knew that Megana’s voice would work perfectly on this song as well. Megana then took the first stab at writing the lyrics and root vocal melody. She wrote the lyrics of “close enough” as a confession to a new relationship. The story stands in as a warning coming from a person still in love with someone else, while using others to fill the loneliness in the meantime.

After recording, we knew we loved what we had but the song wasn’t quite right. It took nearly 5 months of fine-tuning and tweaking to get a final product we were both extremely happy about. It was a lengthy labor of love but we’re both super pleased with “Close Enough” and hope you feel the same.”