Tag: indie pop

New Video: Take an Animated Microscopic Journey to the Moon with JOVM Mainstays Cones

Throughout the course of this site’s nine-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the  San Francisco-born, Los Angeles-based sibling duo Cones. And as you may recall, the duo which is comprised of Jonatan Rosen, an acclaimed, pop music influenced, hand-drawn animator, who has created music videos for the likes Toro y Moi, Eleanor Friedberger and Delicate Steve,  and played Johnny Thunders on the HBO series Vinyl; and Micheal Rosen, a classically trained pianist, commercial and film composer and experimental sound artist, can trace the origins of their band back to their stint playing together as members of New York-based indie act Icewater, an act that eventually became the session and touring band for Eleanor Friedberger’s New View. As the story goes, while touring with Friedberger, the Rosens began to conceptualize what their new project would sound like, ultimately deciding that their project would fuse Jonathan’s pop sensibilities with Michael’s lush, atmospheric soundscapes and keyboard-based instrumentation.

After releasing a string of critically applauded singles and the release of their debut EP, the duo went to a friend’s studio to collaborate with a producer for the first time. They recorded what they thought would be their full-length debut but ultimately, the duo decided to scrap that early effort, as it didn’t feel like a proper Cones album to them. So they went back to their home studio and started their full-length album from scratch. The end result is their highly-anticipated full-length debut Pictures of Pictures, which is slated for release next week through Dangerbird Records. 

“Moonstone,” Picture of Pictures’ latest single will further cement the duo’s reputation for carefully crafted and breezy psych pop that somehow manages to owe a debt to 70s AM rock. Centered around a hazy nostalgia and a soaring hook, their latest single — to my ears at least — seems like a seamless synthesis of Steely Dan and MGMT, but at its core the song is a swooning and delicate love song. 

Featuring line animation from the band’s Jonathan Rosen, the recently released video is a trippy and microscopic journey to and from the moon, while evoking the song’s aching longing. 

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New Video: Up-and-Coming Swedish-born Singer Songwriter BERG Releases Haunting Visuals for Shimmering and Brooding “What If”

Born in Stockholm to a Swedish father and American mother, the London-based Swedish-American singer/songwriterAlexandra Berglöf, a.k.a BERG grew up on a houseboat on the Swedish island of Djurgården. When Berglöf turned five, she began intensive piano lessons under the strict supervision of a Romanian concert pianist. And by the time she was 13, Berglöf was performing all over Stockholm. While studying to join a piano conservatory, she was simultaneously scouted by pop producers for her vocals; however, after a family tragedy, Berglöf left Sweden and music behind for some time. 

As an adult,. Berglöf relocated to London, where she used music as both a form of escape and as a coping mechanism. She also met her producer and collaborator The Horrors’ Faris Badwan. And with Badwan’s help Berglöf began to explore the disguises and facades we wear and the various sides of ourselves that we die from ourselves and others. Starting off as internal dialogue, BERG’s lyrics are rooted in honest moments of self-reflection. Through her music she hopes to create a world and soundscape that invites listeners to unlock and face the stories that they’ve buried. 

Berglöf’s BERG debut album Fake Love was released earlier this year, and the album pairs Padwans’ ethereal and dream-like production with Berglöf’s gorgeous vocals. Thematically the album’s material explores our international conversations and the constant battles and crises we have within ourselves. “I tend to only show my light to others. I hide my flaws, mistakes and falls, then beat myself up about it,” Berglöf says in press notes. “Maybe by exposing some of those truths, I can stop others from feeling so alone in their darkness.”

Interestingly, “What If,” BERG’s debut single and the album’s first is a sparsely arranged  , Mazzy Star-like track centered around shimmering guitars, gently padded drums and Berglöf’s gorgeous and ethereal vocals. But at the core of the song is a sense of regret over missed chances from cowardice, stupidity, self-doubt and bad timing — including unspoken love. And in some way the song asks the listener an important question: what if you weren’t bound by fear and could reveal how you really feel, would you be where you are right now? How would your life be different?  

Directed by Connor Carver-Carter, the recently released video follows a couple frozen in time at various points in their history together with each particular scene referencing a painting. Each person within the relationship are suffering through an internal struggle, which impacts themselves and their relationships — and throughout you can see the unease, uncertainty and despair as seen through their lack of contact and communication. 

The up-and-coming, Falmouth, Cornwall, UK-based psych pop act Moreish Idols — comprised of Caspar Swindells (bass), Jude Lilley (vocals, guitar), Dylan Humphreys (sax), Sol Lamey (drums) and Tom Wilson Kellett (keys, guitar, percussion) quickly emerged into both the local and national scenes with the release of their debut EP, a genre-defying affair influenced by early Pink Floyd, Cocteau Twins, Tame Impala, and Atlas Sound among others, and an extensive series of high energy gigs across Southeast London’s DIY and grassroots venues. Since the release of their debut EP, the members of Moreish Idols have been busy working on various creative projects, as well as new material — including their latest single “Mobile Phone.”

Clocking in at a little under five minutes, the Falmouth-based act’s latest single is one part atmospheric and breezy Steely Dan-like yacht rock featuring shimmering guitars, whispered vocals and mournful horn lines that turns into a dance punk, disco-tinged, four-on-the-floor, driven freakout reminiscent of Echoes-era The Rapture. And while meshing two distinct moods — a meditative pensiveness with restless anxiousness — the track thematically focuses on escaping from technology to take time out from emotionally draining relationships. “We like to think of the song as a transition for us and a cathartic representation of the big life change we’ve just made,” the band says in press notes. “We move from the slower dream-pop sound of Falmouth in the first half of the track and accelerate into the hectic aesthetic of south London for the second half.”

As the band’s Jude Lilley says of the song in press notes ,“I was reflecting on a time in which I felt suffocated in my relationships with people and my family, and having a phone didn’t help that. It wasn’t until I was living the slacker dream in Cornwall that I realised that this was such a problem. Anytime I’d want to escape and get away from it all I’d never be able to fully isolate myself with my bent iPhone 7 still in my pocket.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Acclaimed Singer/Songwriter Jonathan Bree Releases a Striking Visual for “Waiting On The Moment”

Jonathan Bree is a New Zealand-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and producer, who can trace the origins of his musical career to when he was a child: he began writing his own songs when he was nine and performed as a drummer in his cousin’s band until he was 13. This was interrupted for some time, as he was sent to Australia to live with his father, who was an aspiring cult leader. Bree subsequently left home and navigated his teenage years independently. 

When Bree returned to New Zealand, he formed The Brunettes, an indie rock act that released material through Sub Pop Records and his own label, Lil’ Chief Records. The band managed to tour across the world to support their material — but the frustrations of taking the traditional route to success found Bree taking a long hiatus from releasing his own music. During that hiatus though, Bree produced Princess Chelsea’s “The Cigarette Duet” and directed its accompanying music video, which has amassed over 47 million views. 

Bree’s solo debut, 2013’s The Primrose Path was initially released to little fanfare and an unusual bit of promotion — an accompanying album-length video of himself watching TV on his laptop in bed with his girlfriend and cat. His sophomore album, 2015’s A Little Night Music saw the New Zealand-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer embrace a cinematic and classically influenced sound, centered around strong melodies, tight hooks and his brooding baritone crooning lyrics focusing on modern life and love. During the campaign for A Little Night Music, Bree introduced his period piece masked band with the video or “Weird Hardcore” featuring his backing band appearing as though they were in a skewed timeline that some have described as Amadeus meets classic BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Since then, Bree has amassed a cult following around the world for his unique live show which features masked band members in pioneering clothing, set against a backdrop of cinematic projections specifically created for each song. Two dancers also perform other-worldly choreographed routines along with the music.

Bree’s third album, 2018’s Sleepwalking continued a run of material drawing from orchestral pop with the material centered around string and horn arrangements, celeste (a smaller, keyboard operated instrument that kind of sounds like a glockenspiel) and soprano vocals — and while sounding as though it came from a bygone era, the material touches upon avant-garde in a way that’s very modern. Album single “You’re So Cool” and its accompanying video went viral, amassing over 12 million YouTube views, while further cementing his reputation for crafting gorgeous yet brooding pop. 

Centered around a soaring and swooning string arrangement, a sinuous bass line, propulsive drumming, chiming celeste, arpeggiated synths, a remarkably tight hook and Bree’s brooding baritone, “Waiting On The Moment,” his latest single manages to be both carefully crafted and danceable pop that manages to be an uncannily anachronistic synthesis of 60s and 80s pop — with a subtly modern filter. At its core, the song is a breakup song about the lingering ghosts of a past relationship — primarily, the places that you and your former lover once went that had significance between you. Apparently in the song’s case, it’s a karaoke bar that its narrator once went. 

Rather than being a tearjerker ballad full of bitterness, heartache and recrimination, the song revisits the past relationship at its center with a sense of a joy that it all happened and a sense of optimism. As a songwriter once wisely wrong “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” And they’ll be new loves, new places to hold significance and new heartache — but all of it is worth it. 

Directed by Jonathan Bree, the recently released video for “Waiting On The Moment” features Bree, his backing band and dancers performing the song in a sparse studio appearing in the wardrobe they do on stage — with each member covered head-to-toe in white zentai suits, wigs and monochromatic clothing.

New Video: DENM Releases an Ode to Summer and Southern California

Back in 2015, the emerging pop artist DENM was a bedroom producer, playing in a touring band full-time and producing songs on the side in his spare time. “My solo project basically started out as something to do when I was bored on tour,” DENM says in press notes. “We would all have our computers out, making our own music for fun on the road. I remember making this random dance song in the back row of a sprinter and thought it sounded pretty cool. I played it for a few friends and label people, and when they demanded to hear more, I took it to heart.” 

That dance song eventually became his critically applauded and commercially successful debut single “Lit,” a single that Pop Crush called “a garage house-y ode to hedonism and the rush of infatuation.” Within a month of its release, “Lit” amassed over a million streams and landed on the Top 10 of Spotify’s and Hype Machine’s Viral and Hot New Electronic Charts respectively. “Honestly, I just got super lucky,” DENM admits. “I didn’t make the song with the intention of it getting the reaction that it did. I was blown away by how well it did, but it also became somewhat of a curse to me. The people around me at the time wanted to hear more songs just like ‘Lit.’ But that wasn’t who I was or wanted to be as an artist. I’m not really an EDM artist. And I wanted to make music I truly believed in. Unfortunately, not everyone around me understand that, which left me stuck in this tension of wanting to be myself as an artist, but also not wanting to let my team down.” 

Since the release of “Lit,” DENM has been busy discovering who he is an artist, a lengthy process that at one point had him contemplating quitting music altogether. But instead of immediately quitting, he wrote “Life’s Too Short.” “When I wrote ‘Life’s Too Short,’ I had no money, nothing was working, and it seemed like I’d hit the final wall,” DENM shares.  “So as a form of therapy, I wrote a song about how life is too short – how it all flies by so fast. I mean, I remember being a little kid like it was yesterday. And now I’m an adult. Just like that. I’d been so focused on trying to make it, that I wasn’t even enjoying my life. So I decided to try and change my mindset. I let go. I told myself that I was going to be alright. That whatever will be, will be.”

Shortly, after writing “Life’s Too Short,” DENM was in a one-off writing session at Rock Mafia with some of the music industry’s biggest hitmakers. And as the story goes. when he was asked what he had been recently working on, he played a demo of “Life’s Too Short.” The industry folks dug the song, praising his laid-back, yet honest take on life. “Meeting them was life-changing for me,” recalls DENM. “I was so burned out from making music I didn’t like for other people. I told Rock Mafia how hard it was to write and create music under that kind of pressure. They simply responded, ‘Well, what kind of music do you wanna make?’ That question shifted something in me. It gave me this spark of hope inside. The energy in that room felt magical as we listened to the demo of ‘Life’s Too Short.’ I guess that’s where it all started for us. That’s when everything in my life began to change.”

Last year, DENM signed to Rock Mafia as an artist, songwriter and producer. Shortly after signing to Rock Mafia, the production team and the up-and-coming indie artist began working on his recently released Endless Summer EP.  Interestingly, the EP’s latest single, “Blow It Up” is a breezy summertime jam, centered by twinkling and reverb drenched keys, a sinuous bass line, a slick yet infectious hook and DENM’s laid back yet earnest delivery. And while bearing an uncanny resemblance to Sublime, the song is a subtly anthemic ode to hanging with your crew, getting high and escaping the shiftiness of your own life for a little while at least. Certainly, it’s a familiar theme for an uncertain and uneasy adulthood, which so many of us go through. 

The recently released video is a trippy and fitting ode to all things Southern California as you see DENM and his crew getting stoned under purple skies, playing craps and drinking beer. Others start a barbecue while local kids skateboard nearby. It’s the perfect ode to summer, as yet another year rushes by. 

Featuring members of Oslo, Norway‘s jazz, indie, art rock and folk scenes, the Norwegian Grammy-winning septet The Switch formed back in 2010. They started out playing fairly straightforward pop rock with the thought that Norway — and Scandinavia in general — produced an over-abundance of eclectic, heavily hyphenated music. Eventually, their material became more forward-thinking and ambitious.

Their debut album, 2014’s Big If was a meditation on psych pop. Their sophomore album, 2015’s B for the Beast was an atmospheric, prog rock-inspired homage to their hometown. We’re Fooling No One, also released in 2015 found the band making forays into more painterly and improvised pop. Their next effort, The Switch Album found the Norwegian septet crafting a classic pop-rock-like sound — and it was their most successful album to date: it was listed on the Best Albums List of several Norwegian newspapers, before eventually winning a Norwegian Grammy (a Spelleman) in the Indie Music category.

Slated for a September 27, 2019 release, the acclaimed Norwegian act’s fifth album Birds of Paradise as the band’s Thomas Sagbråten says in press notes finds the band trying to “make a musical universe with slightly different laws of nature than real life. A bit less gravitation. The air is thicker. It’s hyper realistic but also unreal.” Interestingly, the album’s latest — and last official — single “Spring in the Forest of Time” is one Hiatus Kaiyote and Bells Atlas-like off kilter neo-soul, one part jazz fusion, one part Steely Dan-like AM radio rock: you’ll hear heavily arpeggiated synths, slashing guitars, twinkling keys, a bluesy guitar solo reminiscent of “Reelin’ in the Years,” and off-kilter syncopation held together by ethereal lead vocals and harmonizing. Centered around an adventurous and mischievous arrangement, the new single will further cement their reputation for crafting songs that are genre-defying yet hook driven, loose and jam-like yet incredibly tight.

 

Lyric Video: Joseph’s Soaring and Anthemic “Green Eyes”

Deriving their name from their grandfather Jo and the tiny Oregon town of  Joseph, OR, in which he was born and raised, the  Portland, OR-based sibling indie pop trio Joseph, comprised of Natalie Closner Schepman and her two, younger twin sisters Meegan and Alison grew up in a musical household — their dad was a jazz singer and drummer, their mom a theater teacher. However, their collaboration together can trace their origins back to around 2014: Schepman who had been pursuing a career as a solo career as a singer/songwriter recruited her sisters to join her.  And when the Closners began collaborating together, they quickly recognized an irresistible and undeniable simpatico. 

The trio quickly developed a reputation for playing intimate house shows, in which the siblings accompanied themselves with acoustic guitar and foot drum and within their first year working together, the trio self-released their debut, 2014’s Native Dreamer Kin, which caught the attention of ATO Records, who signed the group the following year. After releasing 2015’s, ATO Sessions EP, an acoustic, two song, digital EP and accompanying video series, the sibling trio went on to release their Mike Mogis-produced, label debut 2016’s I’m Alone, No You’re Not, which featured the smash hit “White Flag.” “White Flag” landed on Spotify’s US Viral Top Ten Chart within days of its release. By October, the track landed at #1 on the Adult Alternative Charts. 

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the trio made appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Later . . . with Jools Holland, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Conan, CBS This Morning and Today. They also opened for James Bay during a sold out, 2016 arena tour — and they made festival stops at Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, Sasquatch Festival, Glastonbury Festival, Outside Lands Festival, Pilgrimage Music Festival and several others. 

Slated for release next week, The Closer’s highly -anticipated Christian “Leggy” Langdon-produced follow up to I’m Alone, No You’re Not reportedly finds the trio pushing their sound as the material finds them embracing a grittier, much more dynamic sound — while retaining the gorgeous harmonizing that won them attention. “The through-line of the album is this idea of moving into the driver’s seat of your own life-recognizing that you’re an adult now, and everything’s up to you from this moment on,” Natalie Closner Schepman says in press notes.  “You’re not completely sure of how to get where you need to go, and you don’t have any kind of a map to help you. It’s just the universe looking down on you like, ‘Good luck, kid.'”

“Green Eyes,” Good Luck, Kid’s latest single finds the siblings meshing classic, Phil Spector Wall of Sound-era pop with elements of old school country and contemporary pop as it features twinkling piano, strummed guitar, dramatic drumming, and an enormous hook — with the primary focus being the trio’s gorgeous harmonizing. And while being a slickly produced, radio friendly pop confection, the song reveals some incredibly earnest yet ambitious songwriting. Simply put, this is an act actively attempting to take over the world with carefully crafted pop rooted around personal and lived-in experience. In this case, much like some of the sources that seem to influence it, “Green Eyes” is an aching love song in which its narrator recognizes that their relationship is at a major crossroads. 

“You’re starting to sense this person slipping away from you and you explain how it’s ok if they’re questioning,” Natalie Closner Schepman says about the track. “You assure them that you feel certain and you’ll be right over here waiting for them to see what you see.”

The recently released, animated lyric video features the band in a Speed Racer-like animation, in which the ladies cruise an alien-like world of purple skies and neon-green moonlight. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Geowulf Releases a Shimmering and Self-Assured Pop Gem

I’ve written quite a bit about Geowulf over the past few years. Comprised of Noosa, Australia-born friends and collaborators, Star Kendrick and Toma Benjamin, have known each other since they were teenagers; however, their musical collaboration is a relatively recent development that can be traced to when Kendrick enlisted the assistance of her old friend to flesh out some of her early demos. 

The duo released a string of highly successful, critically applaud singles that included “Saltwater,” which received over 1 million Spotify streams and reached Hype Machine‘s Top Ten and landed at #4 on Spotify’s US Viral Charts; the Mazzy Star meets  Fleetwood Mac-like “Don’t Talk About You;” the  Phil Spector meets Still Corners “Drink Too Much;”  the jangling, 60s girls group pop-inspired single “Hideaway,;” and The Smiths-like “Sunday,” the JOVM mainstays released their Duncan Mills-produced, full-length debut, Great Big Blue last year.

Building on the growing profile, the duo’s highly anticipated sophomore album My Resignation is slated for an October 25, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings, and the album finds the Aussie JOVM mainstays collaborating with acclaimed songwriter and producer Justin Parker on a number of tracks. Reportedly, the album finds Kendrick writing arguably some of the most brutally honest lyrics of the duo’s growing catalog to date. In fact, the material thematically focuses on loneliness — in particular, learning how to accept it and love the space and self-awareness it can provide. But naturally, the material is written through the lens of a 20-something woman trying to maneuver the weight of the expectations put upon by others and herself. Along with that, the album also deals with heartbreak. Of course that all should sound familiar and it should because all of us have been there at some point or another. In other words, the album finds the duo maturing and attempting to maneuver the complexities and uncertainties of adulthood with their sanity and dignity intact. 

My Resignation’s fourth and latest single “Lonely” is an incredibly self-assured bit of radio friendly and sugary pop, centered around jangling guitars, atmospheric synths, thumping drumming and Kendrick’s sultry crooning, but the song finds its narrator coming to a profound realization — that it’s better to be lonely and find yourself than to be lost and lonely with someone else. The song’s narrator also seems to be growing more confident within herself and within her own skin. It’s arguably one of the most mature and adult sentiments the duo have put to wax so far. 

“In a way, ‘Lonely’ epitomizes a lot of what this album means to me . . .” Geowulf’s Star Kendrick explains in press notes. “A bold and welcomed acceptance of myself and my own company. Feeling less and less like I need the approval of others. That’s one of the many nice things about getting a bit older.” 

The recently released video was shot on grainy Super 8mm film and it features Kendrick is a sparsely arranged room, wearing a gorgeous red, satin gown with matching veil. As she sings the song to herself, she takes off the gown and completes the song in just a plain bra and pair of panties. Essentially, the video finds Kendrick disposing of superficialities to get to the heart of the matter — her growing comfort with herself. 

Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada-based indie rock act Hey Major, comprised of sibling multi-instrumentalists Mickaël and Raphaël Fortin initially formed under the name Orange O’Clock — and back in 2015, competed against 3,000 Canadian acts in CBC’s Searchlight competition, eventually winning the contest with their single “Can’t Fight the Feeling.”  The following year, the Fortins traveled to Nashville and competed in the International Songwriting Competition, eventually landing second place with their song “Wax ‘n’ Wane.”

Adding to a growing national and international profile, the first single off Crazy Carnival was added to Grant Lawrence‘s monthly “Songs You Need to Hear” playlist — and was promoted on NPR, BBC Radio 1 and CBC music.

Earlier this year, the up-and-coming Canadian sibling duo went on a month-long Australian tour. And upon returning to Canada, the duo holed up at Montreal’s Indica Studios to finish their forthcoming Peter Edwards and Franz Schuller co-produced album  The Station.  Interestingly, the album’s third and latest single is the brooding “The Station.” Centered around a soaring hook, twinkling keys, atmospheric synths, dynamic and propulsive drumming, the Canadian duo’s latest track reminds me quite a bit of Danish JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, as the single finds the duo pairing an elegant and deliberate attention and to craft, and deep introspection with ambitious songwriting.

“This song is an introspective track, describing a moment between two people and what they could have been, but knowing deep inside that they will never be,” the Canadian sibling duo explain via email. “It’s a journey of change and enlightenment through love stories, struggles, encounters and wishes for humanity. That was the inspiration.”