Tag: indie pop

New Jersey-based pop duo Fascinations Grand Chorus can trace their origins to a long-held rivalry between its members and a free-standing and deeply competitive argument they had over which one was the better songwriter, based on a health respect and admiration of each one’s individual musicianship and songcraft; however, despite their countless, good-natured arguments, the duo bonded over their mutual love of The Misfits, 1910 Fruitgum Company and antiquated arcade games, while also recognizing that teaming up would be beneficial to navigate the contemporary music scene. And with “When You’re Mine,” the first single off their soon-to-be released EP Angelsea, the duo specialize in recording utilizing the analog techniques of Joe Meek and Phil Spector  — and much like contemporaries such as Pavo Pavo, Drakkar Nowhere and others, Fascinations Grand Chorus’ manages to be mischievously anachronistic with their current single sounding as though it was released in 1962 or 1982, but with a subtly modern sheen.

 

New Audio: Charlotte Day Wilson Returns with her Most Soulful and Radio Friendly Single to Date

Charlotte Day Wilson is a  Toronto, ON-based internationally renowned singer/songwriter, who initially began her musical career as the frontwoman of local renowned jazz, funk and soul act The Wayo — and with the release of “After All,” Wilson quickly emerged as an up-and-coming talent within her hometown’s soul, funk and jazz scene, eventually collaborating with the likes of BADBADNOTGOOD and River Tiber. Now, if you had been frequenting this site last year, you’d know that with the release of her full-length debut CDW, which featured critically applauded singles “After All,” “Work” and “Find You,” that Wilson established herself as a singer/songwriter and producer, who would pair thoughtful and personal lyrics that betray a wisdom and experience far beyond her years, with minimalist, electronic production.

“Doubt,” Wilson’s latest single manages to simultaneously be her first bit of new material in over a year and while being a teaser for much more material next year, the song is a bit of sonic left turn sonic direction with Wilson pairing her soulful vocals with a production that nods at Bilal, Erykah Badu and others, as it features fluttering synths, a sinuous bass line, jazz and ballad-inspired drumming with warm blasts of guitar and a soaring hook. And while arguably being one of the most radio friendly songs she’s released to date, the song’s narrator expresses a deep, crippling uncertainty over her own worthiness that feels and sounds like the thoughts and feelings of a fully-fleshed out and confused woman that you may have known at some point.

With the release of their 2015 debut effort, Use Your Time Wisely, the Minneapolis, MN-born, New York-based trio Strange Names — comprised of Liam Benzvi, Francis Ximenez, and Fletcher Aleckson — quickly received attention across the blogosphere for a crafting airy and danceable New Wave-inspired pop. And as a result of the buzz around them, the members of the New York pop trio opened for Azealia Banks before eventually signing with renowned, local indie label Frenchkiss Records.

The trio’s highly-anticipated, third, full-length effort is slated for release in early 2018, and the album’s first single “Into Me” will further cement their reputation for crafting breezy, 80s inspired synth pop — and while some have made comparisons to The B52s and Phoenix, the latest single to my ears seems to draw from XTC and Violens’ fantastic Amoral as the song features a soaring hook rooted around shimmering arpeggiated synths. But underneath the song’s breezy nature is a swooning and flirtatious kiss off of sorts to someone, who is into the song’s narrator but for some perverse reason is pretending not to be.

 

Whitney McClain is an up-and-coming, Oregon-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, who grew up in a deeply musical family — her uncle, Marlon McClain was a founding member and guitarist in Oregon-based funk, soul and R&B group Pleasure, an act that landed a Top 10 hit win 1979 with “Glide;” in fact, the young, up-and-coming artist credits her uncle with inspiring, encoring and guiding her to go from performing in front of family and friends to writing, recording material that would be performed in front of larger crowds.

Her Mauli B. written and produced debut single, “Bombs Away” was released when she had turned 21, and the single as McCalin explains “sounded like some of the late night talks I have with my girlfriends,” as the song focuses on falling in and out of love, and trying to figure out how to pick the right lover — something that we’ve all experienced at some point or another. “Bombs Away” quickly racked up over 1 million YouTube views and building upon a growing profile, she released her debut EP, Nothing To Lose, which had three singles that also received over 1 million views and an Independent Music Awards nomination for Urban EP of the Year.

McClain’s latest single “Cruise,” which was co-written with Marlon McClain, Davi Jordan and Ralph Stacy, features an incredibly sultry and self-assured vocal turn over a soulful and swaggering production consisting of boom bap drums, punctuated yet sinuous guitar and bass lines and warm blasts of soulful horn, and while being rooted around a contemporary hook-laden production, the song nods at  What’s the 411?-era Mary J. Blige.

As McClain explains in press notes, “I wanted to create a record that pushed positivity and hope that, no matter how bad it might seem, we can always work through it if we love one another. Darkness can’t exist in the presence of light. Later, it developed into a love song, but I still think it holds true to the original message.”

 

Livia Blanc is a French-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, who specializes in a subtly modern take on 60s-inspired, cinematic pop that mischievously nods at the likes of   Edith Piaf, Portishead and Melanie DeBlasio; in fact, the French-born, Brooklyn-based artist’s second and latest single, “Mr. Hyde,” which was produced and cowritten by The Chevin‘s Coyle Girelli and Andrew Horowitz, who has cowriting credits with Jidenna, Verite and John Legend, finds Blanc cooing in a coquettish French over a breezy yet mischievously anachronistic featuring strummed ukulele, whistling, polyrhythmic beats and soaring synths. But despite the song’s ethereal quality, the song reportedly explores the inner duality of good and evil that we all have, reminding the listener that we’re all capable of good and evil at any particular moment. Fitting for the Halloween season, indeed!

 

 

New Video: The Dreamy and Psychedelic Sounds and Visuals of Brooklyn’s Panteon

Panteon is the recording project of Brooklyn-based Yvonne Ambree, an accomplished singer/songwriter, vocalist and musician, who has toured and worked with a wide range of artists including Sleigh Bells, Little Boots, Lulu Gainsbourg, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, and legendary soul singers, such as Syl Johnson, Ann Sexton and Gwen McCrae. Ambree is also known as one-half of the critically acclaimed duo Take Berlin, whose debut EP Lionize was named one of the “Top 10 EPs of 2013” by The Huffington Post, UK. 

Ambree’s debut as Panteon, Travel Log 1 EP is slated for a January 19, 2018 release, and the material on the EP is reportedly inspired by her travels across Europe and The Americas with each track being an ode to the experience of a particular locale she had been in, making the EP, a soundtrack for traveling, whether it be on the road, through the sea or through the air; but throughout the EP, Ambree weaves narratives of discovery and identity (which, unsurprisingly come up while traveling to some far off place).  Recorded in Berlin, Brooklyn’s Bunker Studio and Manhattan’s Sear Sound and mixed by renowned producer Howie Beck, who has worked with Feist, Jamie Lidell and Chilly Gonzales while featuring some of the New York area’s most notable session musicians including Snarky Puppy’s Jay Jennings contributing flugelhorn to EP single “Ballyvaughan,” and Grant Zubritsky, who has played in the backing band of Nick Murphy, formerly known as Chet Faker and MS MR, contributing bass on the EP’s latest single “White Jaguar,” a track written as a ode to the Kogi of Colombia, an indigenous civilization, who still live in the exact same fashion as they did 400 years ago, and consider themselves as guardians of the Earth. 
The ethereal song feels like a pleasant but half-remembered reverie bubbling up from the surface of the songwriter’s and listener’s subconscious as the song features a shimmering arrangement featuring strummed acoustic guitars, a sinuous bass line, soaring keys and propulsive drumming paired with Ambree’s gorgeous vocals — and while leaning towards the dreamy, retro-futuristic psychedelia of JOVM mainstays Pavo Pavo, the song captures the sense of awe over experiencing something you can never experience back at home. 

The recently released visuals for the song features gymnasts and dancers performing — but from old grainy negatives, which emphasizes the dreamy nature of the song, while adding to its aching nostalgia. 

ROOKES is the solo recording project of the Birmingham, UK-born, London, UK-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jenny Bulcraig. Over the past seven years, Bulcraig has been honing her craft and developing a virtuoso one-woman show, which has led her to open for the likes of Stealing Sheep, Anna Pancaldi, She Makes War and KT Tunstall — and as you’ll hear on “The Heel of My Hand,” the Birmingham-born, London-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist specializes in brooding yet soaring pop that features a propulsive rhythm and shimmering guitar-based grooves paired with Bulcraig’s mesmerizing vocals. While sonically speaking, Bulcraig’s work is reminiscent of the likes of Bryde and London Grammar, Bulcraig sets herself apart with songwriting that manages to be ambitious and arena rock friendly while possessing an uncanny intimacy.

 

New Video: The Intimate and Dreamy Visuals for Cold Specks’ “Wild Card”

With the release of her first two critically applauded and commercially successful albums I Predict A Graceful Expulsion! and Neuroplasticiy, the Canadian-Somali, Toronto, ON-based singer/songwriter Ladan Hussein and her solo recording project Cold Specks received both national and international attention, and unsurprisingly her first two albums were nominated for the Polaris Music Prize with her her debut effort receiving  a Juno Award nomination for Breakthrough Artist of the Year. In between a busy period of writing, recording and tour, Hussein also managed to be a hotly-desired collaborator, working with the likes of Moby, Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock, Swans and others.

After spending a portion of 2015 and 2016 touring to support Neuroplasticity, Hussein returned back to Toronto, where she began work on her recently released third, full-length effort Fool’s Paradise, an album in which Hussein exploring her identity as a Canadian-Somali woman, as a Black woman in a world brutal to Black people, as an artist and as the daughter of immigrants, who fled their homeland, and as someone surviving the best she can in difficult circumstances  — and the album’s first single “Wild Card” is largely inspired by the refugee experience. “There was a man in my family’s store, a new refugee, who had travelled from Somalia to Canada. By water and by foot he had travelled half way around the world to establish a better life for himself and his family who were still at home,” Hussein explains. “My mother had never met him before. He was a complete stranger from a familiar place. She took him to a local restaurant, fed him and found him somewhere to stay. I was astonished by her selflessness and kept humming ‘I’ll be there for you. Don’t know why’.”

Produced by Jim Anderson at Toronto’s Easy Life Studio, the single features Arcade Fire‘s Tim Kingsbury playing bass on a hauntingly sparse arrangement and melody. Certainly, the latest track will further cement Hussein’s reputation for being an fearlessly uncompromising and emotionally direct; in this case, the single possesses a subtle but palpably weary ache underlined with simple yet profound joys — the profound joy of being treated kindly when you are “a traveler, a man from far away,” as Paul Salopek once wrote. But along with that, there’s a deep connection that one has for a place whenever you’re far away, and I can recall in many instances when I’ve traveled abroad, finding myself inexplicably bonding with a fellow American with familiar places (even those I’ve never been before) holding a mythical weight to them. 

Created by Mac Boucher and Gnarly Bangs, the recently released video for “Wild Card” manages to nod at the videotapes her parents recorded that depict their lives with a country Hussein never knew and cheap homemade videos of people noodling around with a video recorder — and as a result, the visuals emphasize the song’s uncommon intimacy. 

The Los Angeles, CA-based indie pop project Oddnesse is a studio based collaboration between musician and singer/songwriter Rebeca Arango and producer Grey Goon can trace its origins to both members independently relocating from the East Coast to Los Angeles haunted by the ghosts of expensive degrees in music, failed bands and countless gigs at Cake Shop and other venues. As the story goes, Arango and Goon bonded over a shared vision for infectious, beautiful music with a dark, heavy groove, and  initially, they occasionally stopped by the studio with some random contributions as friends, who jammed together; that is before, the duo began to start taking the project seriously.

“Are You Down,” the duo’s latest single finds the duo pairing Arango’s sultry, self-assured yet laid back crooning with a moody and sleek production featuring shimmering guitar chords, a sinuous and propulsive groove and a soaring hook, and while being radio friendly , the track, sonically speaking manages to nod at Mazzy Star and early 90s Brit Pop — but with a come hither vibe. As the duo’s 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.”