Tag: indie pop

New Video: Los Angeles-based Phenom Angela Munoz Reveals Her True Self in Visuals for “I Don’t Care”

Founded and led by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, producer and Linear Labs founder, The Midnight Hour is a 10 member ensemble that also prominently singer/songwriter and guitarist Jack Waterson, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Loren Oden — and , singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and 18 year old Los Angeles-born and-based phenom, Angela Munoz. 

The Midnight Hour released their self-titled debut back in 2018, an effort that established their sound: jazz and orchestral inspired soul and hip-hop heavily influenced by  David Axelrod, Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Barry White and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr. Now, as you may recall, since the release of  the ensemble’s full-length debut, Muhammad, Younge and and the Linear Labs crew have been extremely busy: last year saw the release of Jack Waterson’s psych rock, solo debut Adrian Younge Presents JackWaterson, and a lengthy tour that included a Brooklyn Bowl stop last September. This year will see the release of the ensemble’s highly-anticipated sophomore album, as well as solo efforts from Loren Oden and Angela Munoz.

The young, Los Angeles-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist phenom has a beguiling voice and mature presence that belie her relative youth. Munoz recalls Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “Welcome to The Jungle” as the catalyst that sparked her desire to play music and to become a star. As a girl, she learned to play guitar and piano — and with practice, she began to dominate singing competitions, leaving unexpected audiences in a trance. Interestingly, a few years ago Munoz’s brother Brandon introduced her to the Adrian Younge-produced Something About April. Munoz was intrigued by the quality of the music, and as a result, she found herself thinking about how it would be interesting to create music that encompassed various perspectives — similar to how Younge does so with his analog recordings.

Shortly after being introduced to Something About April, the Los Angeles-born and-based phenom serendipitously found self working with The Midnight Hour, who recorded her song “Bitches Do Voodoo” on their full-length debut. They’ve since took Munoz on tour, where she’s blown away audiences with her self-assured stage presence, a maturity that belies her age, some dexterous musicianship and her soulful vocals. 

Munoz’s debut single “I Don’t Care” features the Los Angeles-born and-based phenom’s remarkably self-assured and effortlessly soulful vocals over a gorgeous arrangement of twinkling keys and harp, soaring strings, a sinuous bass line, wah wah pedaled guitar and an enormous hook.  And while the material is deceptively anachronistic sonically with the song drawing from classic Quiet Storm soul and 90s neo soul, there’s an underlying youthful brashness that’s beguiling and infectious. Munoz wrote “I Don’t Care” about how difficult staying true to who you are can be, especially as an artist, and ultimately realizing that she doesn’t need to fit into a mold — or be something that she never wanted to be. Unsurprisingly, she’s been told since she was a child that, in order to succeed as a musician she needed to change herself to look like a “superstar.” 

Directed by Adrian Younge, the recently released, gorgeously cinematic video sees Munoz peeling back the layers of the glamorous look that is expected of her to reveal her true self — and by doing so, we wind up seeing how truly beguiling the young artist really is.  “I knew that my purpose in life isn’t to be anyone’s object, it’s to share my experiences and impact people in the most positive way,” Munoz says in press notes. “I hope the song and video helps people realize that they don’t need to change the way they are to feel accepted.” 

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Charlotte Cegarra is a French experimental dark pop singer/songwriter and artist, best known for hir work with The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and Charlotte and Magon.  VoxAxoV, Cegarra’s latest solo project meshes shamanic-like improvisations with elements of ambient electronica, experimental pop and pop centered around the French expressive vocals.

VoxAxoV’s debut single “You’ll Find Yourself/Te Tu Trouveras” is a hauntingly gorgeous and mesmerizing track centered around atmospheric and gently droning electronics and Cegarra’s gorgeous vocals, which express intimate contemplation and aching yearning within the turn of a phrase. Seemingly recalling — to my ears, at least — the likes of Majical Cloudz, Brian Eno and Kate Bush, “You’ll Find Yourself” as Cegarra explains is a quest for balance in a sinking world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matilda Mård is a Swedish-born and-based singer/songwriter and the creative mastermind behind the emerging recording project Many Voices Speak. Started in late 2016, Mård received early attention for her cover of “Blue Moon,” which eventually landed on Billboard‘s Emerging Artists Chart. Building upon a growing profile, the Swedish-born and-based singer/songwriter’s debut single “Video Child” appeared in the Netflix drama To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which led to a growing international profile, in addition to the release of her debut EP Away For All Time.

2018’s full-length debut Tank Town featured a handful of attention grabbing singles including “Necessaries,” “I Saw You,” Chances” and “Bony Shelter,” which was dubbed one of the “Most Beautiful Songs in the World” by Spotify.

Recorded in Berlin and released through Strangers Candy Records, Mård’s latest single,  the Peter Nygård-produced “Want It Kept,” is a slow-burning and brooding track centered around an sparse arrangement of ethereal synths, shimmering guitars and Mård’s achingly tender and wispy vocals. Sonically recalling the likes of Kate Bush, ACES and Softspot, the song is an atmospheric meditation on the inherent sacrifices and compromises of adult love, rooted in deep-seated regret and lived-in, personal experience. And as a result, the song manages to be a bittersweet and tacit acknowledgement of the fact that romantic relationships can have a person twisting and turning themselves into different configurations — without ever quite know why you’re drawn to that person or situation.

 

 

 

Suzy Paradise is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and the creative mastermind behind the emerging multimedia project Suzy & the Lifeguard. And with Suzy & the Lifeguard’s Bleu McAuley cowritten and produced self-tiled 2015 debut, which received a Best Jazz Song with Vocals nomination at the 14th Annual International Music Awards in 2016, Paradise quickly established a unique sound and aesthetic: a sci-fi dream world centered around swampy and sultry jazz and shimmering 60s psych pop paired with her old-timey, late night lounge-like vocals.

Her forthcoming Phil Joly-produced ANIMA EP is slated for a May 1, 2020 release. Recorded in Kauai at a friend’s chocolate farm/music studio, the EP reportedly takes the listener on a sultry and sensual journey through neon-tinged nightlife — with a moody and vibey ambience.“It’s vibier than the last record. It’s a bit darker overall, but it’s also still silly and fun,” Paradise says of the forthcoming EP. “I feel like it’s an honest reflection of not only what I have experienced in the last five years but also the fun and magical space we were in.” 

“Take It Slow,” ANIMA‘s slow-burning and sultry first single manages to sound indebted to classic Quiet Storm-era soul and jazz standards, complete with a gorgeous and expressive horn solo. But at its core, the song explores the complex and confusing dichotomy between desiring love and succumbing to lust — with the tacit understanding that in romantic relationships the lines between the two are frequently intertwined.

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Salt Lake City’s Choir Boy Releases a Mischievous 80s Influenced Visual for Shimmering Pop Confection “Complainer”

Fronted by its Cleveland-born, Salt Lake City-based founder, frontman and creative mastermind, singer/songwriter Adam Klopp, the rising indie pop act Choir Boy derives its name from an insult that was given to Klopp in his early teens when he fronted some of his earliest bands. Given Klopp’s religious upbringing and angelic voice, the insult at the time, may have been both fair and fitting. 

After graduating high school, Klopp left Ohio for college in Utah. Although, his college career was short-lived, he left religion behind and quickly integrated into Provo’s and Salt Lake City’s underground music and art scenes, eventually starting Choir Boy. With the release of the project’s full-length debut, 2016’s Passive With Desire, Klopp’s work drew comparisons to Scott Walker, Kate Bush and Talk Talk.

Klopp’s Choir Boy debut won the attention of Dais Records, and building upon a growing profile, he released “Sunday Light” in 2018, which was followed by a reissue of Passive With Desire on vinyl and CD. Recently, Klopp has filled out the band with a permanent lineup: Chaz Costello (bass, sax), Jeff Kleinman (keys) and Michael Paulson (guitar). Each member has brought their unique influences to the table, helping to develop subtly more dynamic sound for the band — one in which, there’s a bit of post-punk grit and 80s-influenced swing to the mix. 

Slated for a May 8, 2020 release, Choir Boy’s sophomore album Gathering Swans is the first bit of recorded output with the band’s new lineup. And importantly, while seemingly drawing from Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry, The Cleaners from Venusand others, the material features Klopp’s achingly earnest and angelic falsetto, expressing those emotions that are particularly difficult to name. 

The album’s first single is the dance floor friendly  “Complainer.”  Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, some industrial-like drum machine and organic drumming, a looping and shimmering guitar line, an ehe enormous and rousingly anthemic hook and Klopp’s achingly tender falsetto, the song — to my ears, at least — seems like a synthesis between Meat Is Murder-era The Smiths, Tears for Fears and contemporaries like Washed Out. Interestingly, Klopp explains that the song “marked a shift in lyrical tone from previous releases. While many of our earlier songs serve as flowery lamentations of loss and grief, ‘Complainer’ snakily examines the self absorption of sadness. The opening line Oh my life was something I privately uttered while stewing over daily anxieties. It became comical to me that I would express my self pity like that, in earnest when my struggles seemed so relatively tame.  The song continues, It’s a phrase so funny when it’s spoken so sincere. But it’s not that bad, I’ve never really had it worse. I’m just a complainer. ‘Complainer’ multi-tasks as a pop song and a reminder to keep my privilege in check.”

Directed by the members of Choir Boy, edited by Choir Boy’s Adam Klopp and featuring an action cameo by Sam Rodriguez, the recently released video for “Complainer” is a decidedly lo-fi, fittingly 80s-inspired visual split between footage of the band playing the song in random locations while mischievously revealing the band’s involvement in a seedy, back alley, Fight Club-like fighting ring. 

New Video: Emerging Canadian Singer Songwriter Dana Gavanski Releases a Gorgeous Meditation on the Passing of Time

Dana Gavanski is an emerging Vancouver-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter, who grew up in an artistic home — her father is a filmmaker and her mother is a painter. Gavanski has long harbored a desire to sing. The rising Canadian singer/songwriter relocated to Montreal to study, and as the story goes, during her senior year of college, her former partner left a guitar behind, and she decided to that it was the perfect time to re-learn the instrument. Ironically, she didn’t immediately go into music: she spent a summer as her producer father’s assistant in the Laurentians, working a derelict hotel-turned office that according to Gavanski looked like something out of The Shining.

The long days behind a computer cemented her her desire to make music, “because it was impossible to play that I needed to, in order to feel like it was real,” she says. The income she earned and saved that summer, funded a year of writing religiously, eventually leading to her debut EP, 2017’s Spring Demos, which the rising Canadian singer/songwriter describes as “whatever was coming out of me. A flood.”

Slated for a March 27, 2020 release, Gavanski’s full-length debut Yesterday Is Gone reportedly reflects her aim “to make something bigger, more thought through.” Steeped in determination, uncertainty and a simple desire to write a good song, the album’s material took shape after she returned from a writing residency in Banff, Alberta. She left the residency resolved not to worry about her songs being “too obvious.” She also began to learn the art of empty time, of being alone with her emotions, of losing herself in a landscape. And naturally, she considered how she might be able to use writing as a way to make sense of her life after a tumultuous breakup and a relocation to a new city.

Feeling adrift in Toronto, Gavanski struggled to make herself feel at home and connected, but her solitude allowed her to develop a grounding writing routine: she kept office-style hours at her bedroom desk, writing every day until she felt that she was starting to understand the writing process — and more important, to see that transforming a burning desire into something clear and tangible is a delicate and vulnerable act. That it often means letting things happen as they’re meant to happen, to accept losing some degree of control.

Yesterday Is Gone is co-produced by the Vancouver-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter, Toronto-based musician Sam Gleason and Tunng’s and LUMP’s Mike Lindsay. While Gleason helped Gavanski bring out the tunes, Lindsay’s input marked “the beginning of developing a sound that was closer to what I had in my head,” Gavanski explains. Excited by the other elements of a song introduced during production, Gavanski and Lindsay were keen on finding essential things, not overblowing, keeping things bare and letting the elements speak for themselves.

The album’s material shapeshifted as it passed through the hands of its production team, taking on different tastes, feelings and visions. When Gavanski performed the songs with a band, they found a new and very different form. She was intrigued by performers like David Bowie and Aldous Harding, who inhabit different personalities on stage, physically tuning themselves to their music. “Watching these kinds of performances,” Dana says in press notes, “I feel my body longing to express myself in exaggerations … to leave behind self-consciousness and become this energy.”

Interestingly, a three-month trip to Serbia in late 2018 pushed performance to the forefront of Gavanski’s mind: she took singing lessons to learn how to sing with the resonance that defines traditional song. Inspired by the bombast of the country’s music of the 50s, 60s and 70s, including the high-energy kafana or cafe music, all which were rooted in expressive pouts as it was in vocal resonance, the trip created a yearning to completely inhabit herself on stage. “I often feel we’re all just these controlled bodies,” she says. “Sometimes I just want to make a snarl with my lip and keep it there.” 

Expressive urges run all throughout the album’s material with each component being meticulously and purposefully placed to yield a deeply sincere response to the chaos and uncertainty of human emotion. “Often we have to go a little far in one direction to learn something about ourselves,” the Vancouver-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter says. 

Album title track “Yesterday Is Gone” is a hauntingly gorgeous yet highly unusual song: centered around a playful 7/4 meter, the song is actually a bittersweet meditation on longing, nostalgia and the passing of time that sonically recalls Man Who Sold the World-era David Bowie, late 60s pop and fellow Canadian folk act Loving. “‘Yesterday Is Gone’ is more of a straight pop song than the others on the album,” says Gavanski. “It’s about the intractability and muddiness of time passing. At the time I wrote the song, I was super into 60s pop music and the idea of what makes a classic song classic. I was toying between being more obvious in my lyrics and progressions while still tending to feelings hard to describe.”

Directed by Nina Vroemen, the recently released and gorgeously shot video for “Yesterday Is Gone” is set in Montreal’s Metro. We follow the emerging Canadian-born singer/songwriter in brightly colored 70s-styled through the Montreal transportation system’s colorful, modernist, late 60s-early 70s architecture. The video feels like feverish dream punctuated by loneliness and the gentle hum of the trains pulling in and out of each station. Of course, commuting underground is where space and time are endlessly distorted: everything is a constant state of arrivals and departures. (Unsurprisingly, the video immediately brought back memories of commuting from my hotel room to various venues and events in Montreal. I think I’ve been in two of the stations featured in the video, too.)

New Video: Rising British Singer Songwriter Jordan Mackampa Releases an Ebullient Visual for “Magic”

Jordan Mackampa is a rising London-born and-based Congolese-British singer/songwriter. With the release of “Under,” 2016’s Physics EP, and 2017’s Tales From The Broken EP and Live from the Grand Cru EP, Mackampa has received critical praise from NME, The 405, The Line of Best Fit, Clash, Indie Shuffle, Wonderland and others while his work amassed over 50 million Spotify streams.

Mackampa’s work is inspired by his Congolese roots and his mother’s love of legendary soul singers like Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and Curtis Mayfield. And as a result, the Congolese-British singer/songwriter has developed a reputation for pairing old-school singer/songwriter soul, earnest songwriting and catchy melodies with a modern songwriting approach. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that Mackampa’s highly anticipated, full-length debut Foreigner is slated for a March 13, 2020 release through AWAL.  

Reportedly, the album’s material draws from the sounds and stories of the cities he’s spent time in and inhabited over the years, and while documenting his life as an outsider, the material’s sound is a melting pot of cultures that draws from his birthplace in the Republic of the Congo, his mom’s classic soul record collection, hip-hop obsessed childhood in North London, and his Coventry, UK-based teen years, immersed in indie rock — and all of that meshes together to create a hybrid of alternative pop, soul and indie rock. 

Late last year, I wrote about “Parachutes,” a breezy and deliberately crafted track centered around a radio friendly yet loose arrangement of twinkling keys, shimmering guitars, a sinuous bass line and propulsive drumming pared with Mackampa’s easygoing vocals, evoking the soaring highs of being in love and the embittering low of heartache within the turn of a phrase.  The album’s latest single “Magic” is a breezy and swinging pop song that reveals Mackampa’s genre-defying sound: the song draws from old school soul, Bossa nova and samba simultaneously. “This is a bossa nova and samba-infused feel good kinda track about when you can’t get someone off your mind,” Mackampa says in press notes. “”You’ve had one taste and you want more!”

Directed by longtime collaborator Tom Ewbank and featuring choreography from Taali Kwaten, the recently released video for “Magic” was filmed in a South London underpass is centered around the Congolese-British singer/songwriter and his backing band performing the song in front of a collection of diverse partiers, who dance the night around.  The video manages to further emphasize the song’s ebullient joy of being infatuated by new love.