Tag: indie pop

New Video: The Cinematic and Surreal Visuals for Oddnesse’s Sultry “Are You Down”

Comprised of singer/songwriter Rebeca Arango and producer Grey Goon, the Los Angeles, CA-based indie pop project Oddnesse can trace its origins to when both members independently relocated from the East Coast to Los Angeles haunted by the ghosts of expensive degrees in music, several failed bands and countless gigs at  Cake Shop and others. And as the story goes, Arnago and Goon bonded over a shared vision for infectious and beautiful music with a dark, heavy groove — and initially, they stopped by the studio as two friends jamming and experimenting with ideas before they began to take it as a serious endeavor.

“Are You Down,” the duo’s latest single finds the duo pairing Arango’s self-assured and coquettish crooning with a shimmering Mazzy Star-like production featuring a soaring hook. As Rebeca Arango explained in press notes, “Are You Down,” is her “Pina Colada” song, as “it’s a very confident and laid-back anticipation of my next lover, where I’m getting specific about calling in someone, who can match my energy and approach to life. The question of going ‘slow’ isn’t about romantic pacing per-se (though that is important), it’s more about generally moving slow, never rushing to pack in too much all at once or getting anxious about ‘missing out,’ and preferring to to sink in and explore the depths of all things.”

Directed by Thaddeus Ruzicka, the recently released video for “Are You Down” is a cinematically shot fever dream that subtly draws from old movies and early 80s music videos — and features a protagonist in gorgeous yet somewhat surreal settings.

Live Footage: Alice Merton Performs Viral Hit “No Roots” on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”

Alice Merton is a Canadian-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, who has lived a rather nomadic life, as she was raised in Canada, finished high school in Germany and then with the rest of her family, relocated to England. Of course, music was a major part of her life, no matter where on Earth she was; she started taking classical piano lessons when she was five and by the time she was nine, she was introduced to vocal training. As the story goes, after spending the better part of a decade being classically trained, Merton discovered contemporary songwriting during one of her high school courses in Germany. And from that point forward, she went on to study songwriting and began pursuing her dream of becoming a professional singer/songwriter.

Naturally, while in school Merton would up working with a number or producers on projects and as you can imagine, finding the right producer, who can both compliment and challenge a singer/songwriter as a true collaborator is a rarity. And when she met Berlin-based producer Nicolas Rebscher, Merton quickly recognized that she finally found her musical match; in fact, the duo have managed to specialize in an anachronistic  sound that features Merton’s soulful pop belter vocals over a slick production consisting of analog synths, classic soul music-inspired instrumentation paired with hook driven, contemporary songwriting. 

Merton’s swaggering and bluesy debut single “No Roots,” features Merton’s self-assured and soulful pop belter vocals paired with a Rebscher production that features enormous, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a sinuous bass line, brief blasts of funk guitar, squiggly blasts of synths and a rousingly anthemic hook that nods at Amy Winehouse, Lorde, Taylor Swift and others but while managing to feature a narrator that simultaneously expresses a wizened and resilient spirit; but just underneath there’s a visceral ache over a life frequently thrown in disarray with sudden moves before the narrator could get adjusted to a new place, and the realization that she’s never quite belonged. 

Already “No Roots” has won the up-and-coming Merton an immense amount of attention across the European Union, Stateside and elsewhere, as the song has already seen millions of streams on Spotify and YouTube, and has recently been added to the playlists of several Stateside Adult Alternative Album radio stations, including stations in Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, San Francisco, Minneapolis, the NYC area, as well as Sirius Alt Nation. Adding to a growing profile, thanks in part to the success of her debut single, Merton recently signed to renowned indie label Mom + Pop Music. Recently Merton, along with her backing band recently made their national television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where she performed her viral hit. 

New Video: New JOVM Mainstay Miles Francis Returns with a Tender Meditation on Love

Last week, Miles Francis, released his highly anticipated debut EP, Swimmers and as you may know, the EP finds the 26 year-old, New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who has had stints as a member of Superhuman Happiness, and Antibalas, fronting Afrobeat/Afropop collective EMEFE, as well as collaborating 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, stepping out on his own. 

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 an adult, 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” featured a swaggering and self-assured arrangement featuring arpeggiated synths, a sinuous, funky bass line, boom bap-like drumming and an incredibly infectious hook; but despite that, the song’s narrator seemingly finds himself fighting through crippling self-doubt and uncertainty, which gave the song a tense and conflicted vibe. The EP’s second official single “Complex” featured a slowly strutting groove, undulating synths, a sinuous bass line, boom bap-like beats and a slow-burning, unexpected sultry hook — and that single will further cement the young artist’s growing reputation for crafting danceable, left field pop. 

“Deserve Your Love” is an emotionally ambivalent track — and it someway that shouldn’t be surprising as Miles Francis explains that the song “deals with the complexities and risks in a new romance. Where there’s overconfidence, there’s deep insecurity; where there’s a sweet exterior, there’s evil brewing underneath — all within one person. It’s sung from the perspective of either a self-conscious, wounded lover or an unemotional jerk.” And if there’s one rare thing in our lives that’s certain it’s the fact that love is a strange thing that can bring out both the very best of us and the very worst of us — simultaneously and without warning or comprehension. Despite the song’s emotional ambivalence, it’s a swooning and intimate song, a confession of sorts of one’s sense of worth or lack thereof in which the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter sings the songs’ lyrics with a tender falsetto before the song’s soaring hook. Throughout, he’s accompanied by gently billowing guitar chords and metronomic-like drum programming, which gives the song it’s achingly lonely vibe; but oddly enough, the song is arguably one of the more Beatles-like songs he’s released to date. 

The recently released video continues Miles Francis’ ongiong collaboration with director and filmmaker Charles Billot and as the New York-based pop artist explains, the video’s protagonist is depicted as an unemotional jerk, who has a terrible night. The threesome he enters ends unexpectedly with a slap in the face. And as he’s driving back to his place, the video switches between shots of Miles and an older man (who turns out to be Miles’ father). Perhaps the older man is an older manifestation of the young protagonist, full of his own regrets and mistakes? In any case, Miles stops suddenly when he sees a body in the middle of the road, and he gets roughed up by a gang and has his car stolen. The video ends with the protagonist stopping for an ice cream cone, and returning home seemingly unfazed over everything that’s just happened to him. 

 

Much like countless others, who have decided their lives to music and to art, the New Zealand-born, Melbourne, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Tom Lee-Richards can trace the origins of his music career to noisy, childhood experimentations with pots and pans, imitating and mimicking the sounds he heard everywhere and beatboxing. By the time he was 14, he had been beatboxing and accompanying himself with the guitar, picking up gigs locally.

Drawn to complex polyrhythm, scatting and the like, Lee-Richards completed his studies in jazz bass performance, and after his studies he spent some time fronting a reggae group before relocating to Melbourne; in fact, Catch Release’s EP Achieving landed in the Top of 3 AMRAP’s Charts, thanks to regular radio airplay.  But as a solo artist, Lee-Richards work has been compared to Antony Hegarty (now known as Anohni) and James Blake — and that shouldn’t be surprising as the New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter specializes in rather idiosyncratic songwriting that expresses a unique artistic vision; in fact, his latest single “Out of the Oddness,” which recounts the true story of a very young Tom breaking his arm on the first day of elementary school with a novelistic attention to detail and cinematic sweep: you can see the jungle gym, a swing set, the young Tom playing on the schoolyard and suddenly flying and crashing to the ground with a painful thud. In the pain and confusion, he glances around, pleading and hoping that someone will help him. And as it turns out, his older brother, comes to his rescues, by sweeping the young Tom in his arms and rushing him to the hospital. Now while the song is rooted around a deeply harrowing and personal experience, there’s something universal at the core of the song:  the awkwardness of school; the situations and accidents of our lives that could have us at our most vulnerable and helpless; who we turn towards when we’re at most vulnerable and helpless. And he Lee-Richards does so in an evocative and surprising fashion. Sonically speaking the song touches upon dream pop, psych pop and dub in a seamless and genre-defying fashion.

 

 

 

 

With the release of their politically charged, fourth, full-length album Running Out of Love, the Stockholm, Sweden-based pop duo The Radio Dept., comprised of Johan Duncanson and Martin Carlberg earned praise from the likes of NPR, PitchforkThe Atlantic and others. Building upon a growing profile, the Swedish pop duo recently released their latest single, the jangling and yearning “Your True Name,” which the band noting that the “song is about faith in a way, not divine but utopian, believing in something that will probably never be. And it’s about falling short, sometimes with your goal just barely out of reach.” As a result, the song manages to be simultaneously optimistic yet bittersweet  — all while reminding us that life is often about hoping for something, trying to achieve it, getting knocked down and getting back up to go for it again. (Interestingly, the single is the first release from the band’s own label, Just So!)

The members of The Radio Dept. will be embarking on a Stateside tour that begins on January 29, 2018 in Los Angeles and includes a February 3, 2018 stop at Warsaw. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates

1/29: Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre

1/30: San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore

2/1: Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall

2/2: Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre

2/3: Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw

2/4: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer

Rayvon Owen is a Richmond, VA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, who can trace the origins of his musical career to when he was a child; in fact, at a very young age, Owen sang in church choirs, toured with gospel musicians and performed in local musicals. Influenced byLionel Richie, (who has become Owen’s mentor) John Legend, Katy Perry, and Stevie Wonder, Owen has developed a reputation for being a introspective songwriter with an expressive and easy-going soulful vocal style. After studying at Belmont University. the Richmond, VA-born singer/songwriter spent time in Nashville, TN, where he spent his time writing and and performing with local musicians at a number of local events and showcase before relocating to Southern California, where he eventually wrote and recorded his debut EP  Cycles which featured his standout hit “Sweatshirt.”

However, Owen found national attention when he appeared on American Idols 14th season in which he was a “Twitter Save” champion and Top 4 finalist. And although, it’s been a while since I’ve personally written about him, his single “Can’t Fight It,” which was released on Valentine’s Day, featured visuals in which the singer/songwriter publicly came out as gay. As Owen say in press notes, “I was working on “Can’t Fight It”, and one of my close friends passed away. He was struggling with who he was and what he wanted to do, and never really accepted himself. And I really was thinking like- what legacy will I leave- is it going to be my authentic self?”

Interestingly, “Gold,” Owen’s latest single continues in a similar vein, as it’s a shimmering and anthemic club banger with a swooning and anthemic hook that captures the giddy sensation of finally finding the love you’ve been seeking for so long while simultaneously being a contented, celebratory “hell yes! this right here!”  As Owen told Billboard, “I wrote the song with my buddy Nate Merchant, who I worked with on “Can’t Fight It.” That day, we were feeling good. There was a good energy in the room. Whenever I write, it’s a stamp in time that captures the emotion of what I’m feeling that day. We were talking about coming out to L.A. and being out in the industry and how stressful that can be. He was kind of diggin’ someone, I had just started dating my boyfriend and exploring being a gay man — I’ve never felt that emotion before, being with someone like that. I’m getting chills right now just thinking about it. It’s been a long time coming for me to feel that. I know there’s so many other people who don’t get to feel that, but I’m hoping that they do when they come to terms with who they are.

So that fueled us, and I just wanted to say, “Hey, you got me feeling good as gold.” What better feeling do you have? Falling in love is such a beautiful thing. I love singing about love in general — the good and the bad — I write sad songs too, which will be on the future project too. You’ll kind of see the whole gamut. But in that moment, we were feeling good and thankful.”

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.