Tag: indie pop

Closing Eyes · You Can Have Everything

Oslo’s Closing Eyes — Eirik Asker Pettersen, Magnus Asker Pettersen, Emilie Lium Vordal, Anders Emil Rønning and Jørgen Bjella — are a rising indie act, who has developed a sound and approach that’s inspired by an eclectic array of influences including Yo La Tengo, Stereolab, Spiritualized, The Velvet Underground, The Electric Prunes, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Gilberto Gil, The Magnetic Fields, and The Soft Bulletin-era The Flaming Lips. 

With the release of 2014’s debut EP Melodies for the Contemporary Mind, which led to them opening for Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier — and their full-length debut, 2018’s Soft Years, the act started to receive quite a bit of attention from the Norwegian press. Adding to a growing profile, the act played several showcases in their native Norway and they opened for The Brian Jonestown Massacre. They ended a big 2018 with the the 12-inch effort Reworked, which featured remixes from Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas, Young Dreams and Serena Maneesh.

The members of the rising Norwegian indie act spent last year writing and recording their recently released Emil Nikolaisen-produced sophomore album Eternal Fidelity.  The album highlights a band that has grown more confident while crafting material that’s nostalgic yet modern, centered around big chords and sentimental melodies.  “Sometimes I try very hard to hold on to something but it just feels like it’s slipping through my fingers. Ideals, dreams, identities or friendships are all things that live so strongly and easily when we’re young but often seem to lose footing as we grow older,” the band’s Eirik Asker Pettersen says of the album’s overall vibe and themes. “Convictions that seem so solid can suddenly dissolve and become unresolved issues. I don’t think we’re too good at dealing with that. Mostly, Eternal Fidelity is about those feelings. It’s about trying to hold on, let go and make sense of it all. It’s about clinging to what’s important even though it might not be easy all the time.”  

Eternal Fidelity‘s latest single is the woozy “You Can Have Everything.” Centered around shimming and arpeggiated blocks of keys, boom bap-like drums, fuzzy power chords and an rousingly anthemic hook, the song manages to a woozy and achingly nostalgic song that evokes the rapid passing of time, as well as the constantly changing priorities and responsibilities of adult life. Life changes you after all; it does that very well.



New Video: Sarah Walk Explores Crippling Insecurity Self-Doubt and Uncertainty in Soaring “What Do I Want”

Sarah Walk is a Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter, and Berklee College of Music grad, who currently splits her time between Los Angeles and London. 2017’s Steve Brown-produced debut Little Black Book found the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist crafting piano-based ballads. 

Walk’s forthcoming Leo Abrahams-produced sophomore album Another Me is reportedly a radical change in sonic direction for the Berklee College of Music grad with the album’s material moving towards shimmering and contemplative synth pop featuring soaring melodies and percussive arrangements. Thematically, the album’s material may be the most introspective she has ever written with the material inspired by a period of immense challenge and transformation, touching upon marginalization, survival, death, misogyny, vulnerability, reclamation of oneself and learning how to take up space. Additionally, the album sees Walk directly tackling the challenges of being a queer woman. “A lot of things had been untapped in my writing until now, many of which deal with burdens that I’ve carried or felt responsible for, which I believe has a lot to do with being a woman and being queer” Walk says in press notes. 

“What Do I Want,” Another Me’s latest single is an atmospheric bit of synth pop, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, detailed syncopated percussion paired with Walk’s achingly plaintive vocals. And while bearing a resemblance to Kate Bush, the track reveals Walk’s knack for crafting a hook that’s both melodic and soaring. But despite its seeming tranquility, the song’s narrator attempts to work through anxiety, procrastination and paralyzing indecision in every aspect of her life. “Sometimes it’s easier to be so overwhelmed by what to do that you don’t do anything until someone else makes a decision for you,” the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist explains. “I think part of that comes from being a woman; we’ve been conditioned to doubt our capability; afraid of confidence coming off as arrogant. Writing this song was a way of holding myself accountable so I can transcend societal structures and avoid falling into the same patterns of paralyzed anxiety.”

Another Me is slated for an August 28, 2020 release through One Little Indian Records. In the meantime, the recently released video for “What Do I Want” features Walk personifying the anxiousness and uncertainty within the song, as she seems plagued by crippling indecision. 

Tik Records · TIK56: Mia Berg – don’t know (what to do)

With the release of her debut EP, last year’s Intro, which featured “You Decided,” “Grow” and “Hurry,” the 24 year-old, Oslo-based pop artist Mia Berg quickly exploded into the international pop scene, receiving praise form the likes of Clash Magazine, God Is In The TV, WithGuitars and others.

Tik Records · TIK48: Mia Berg – You Decided

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Berg’s latest single, the Henrik Lillehaug-produced “don’t know what to do” is an atmospheric pop song, centered around twinkling keys, shimmering synths, shuffling and thumping beats, an infectious radio friendly hook and Berg’s sultry vocals. And yet, while possessing a radio friendly accessibility, the song is actually a solemn track that captures the aching regret of someone begging a lover (or a love interest) for forgiveness for their transgressions — and the uncertainty of if that lover will actually forgive you or not.

The new track will appear on her sophomore EP which is slated for release later this year.

Genevieve Stokes · Lonely And Bored

With the release of “Running Away” and “Surface Tension,” which landed on Spotify‘s New Music Friday, Lorem and Fresh Finds Playlists, the young and rapidly rising, Portland, ME-based singer/songwriter Genevieve Stokes quickly received attention for crafting alt pop songs featuring  a lush mixture of electronic and organic instruments and centered around an insight and honesty that belies her relative youth. Inspired by Regina Spektor, Frank Ocean, Bon Iver and Big Thief‘s Adrianna Lenker, the 18 year-old, Maine-based singer/songwriter can trace the origins of her music career to performing publicly as early as when she was 7 — so in many ways, Stokes is a grizzled pro.

Stokes’ is gearing up to release her highly-anticipated debut EP, which will feature her two previously released singles and her latest single, the slow-burning “Lonely and Bored.” Centered around twinkling keys, atmospheric electronics, Stokes’ gorgeous vocals and a soaring hook, “Lonely and Bored” is a self-assured yet melancholic and mediative track with a warm and effortlessly vibey air reminiscent of ’90s and ’00s neo-soul. But interestingly, the song is inspired by Stokes’ own personal experiences: I’ve struggled with derealization and depersonalization for a couple years now,” the rising Portland, ME-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Often I find it hard to stay grounded in reality. It can be very isolating, but luckily it gets easier to manage over time. ‘Lonely and Bored’ is about a time in my life when I felt particularly disconnected from the world around me and my own emotions. I think a lot of people have experienced this sense of detachment, and hopefully this song helps them feel less alone.”




Michael Desmond is a Long Island, NY-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who first earned attention as the frontman of orchestral indie rock act Gabriel the Marine, an act that went on national tours with Taking Back Sunday, Glassjaw, Mew, Jack’s Mannequin and The Dear Hunter. After some significant changes in his personal life that included the death of his uncle, the end of a six-year relationship and graduation from college, Desmond was inspired to reinvent himself and his career by going solo. “The only way I was able to slow my mind down was to write. I look at this body of work as a time capsule, as it represents a snapshot of life during this period of time,” Desmond recalls.

Desmond’s solo recording project, Local Nomad derives its name from several dichotomies: “Local Nomad is the resistance of sedentary life. It’s about seeking the strange and embracing the unknown. Wondering. Wandering. Young and Old. Everywhere and Nowhere. As cliche as it may sound – when I pick up a guitar and sing it’s the only time I feel at home,” Desmond says. Sonically, the project’s sound features soulful vocals, enormous hooks, atmospheric synths and lustrous beats and draws influence from the likes of Tears for Fears, Elvis Costello, and Phil Collins.

Local Nomad’s self-titled, debut EP is slated for a June 19, 2020 release, and the EP’s material found extra inspiration from the Long Island-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist borrowing his friends’ gear to implement mellotron, DX and 808s to add further texture and muscle to his attention-grabbing, anthemic sound. The self-titled EP’s latest single “Young Vampires” further establishes his remarkably self-assured and anthemic take on synth pop. Centered around a classic, alternating quiet verse, loud chorus-based song structure, an enormous, power chord-driven, arena rock friendly hook with shimmering and arpeggiated synths and Desmond’s plaintive vocals, the song reveals some ambitious songwriting bringing JOVM mainstays St. Lucia and the aforementioned Tears for Fears, among others.

“This song is about becoming the ugliest version of yourself in a relationship. You’re not necessarily trying to hurt one another, but you end up forgetting the thing that once brought you together,” the Long Island-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist explains. “‘Young Vampires’ is kind of an oxymoron because based on various films, vampires tend to live forever. They feed off of humans to survive and ultimately live a pretty reclusive lifestyle, only going out at night and sleeping all day. I think it’s comparable to being in an unhealthy relationship.”

New Video: Holy Hive Releases a Dreamy and Nostalgia-Inducing Animated Visual for New Single

Holy Hive is a Brooklyn-based soul act featuring:

Paul Spring, a St. Cloud, MN-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who spent his formative years studying ancient languages, poetry and classical guitar before making a name for himself as a folk artist, eventually self-releasing seven albums, including a well-received children’s album Home of Song.
Homer Steinweiss, a Brooklyn-born and-based drummer, who has played, toured and recorded with a who’s who of contemporary soul and pop music including Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars, The Jonas Brothers, St. Vincent, Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings— before settling into a highly-south after session player.
Joe Harrison, a Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist who has played with Frank Dukes and Charles Bradley.
The band can trace its origins to when Spring and Steinwess met on a Minnesota farm through their respective girlfriends, who are cousins. Steinweiss and Spring soon began a long-distance friendship, which, over time developed into a folk music recording project. Harrison, was working at a studio assistant at The Diamond Mine Studios at the time and he started to sit in on the duo’s sessions, eventually joining the band as a full-time member in 2015 when the band began recording as Holy Hive.

In 2016 Spring relocated to New York and the members of Holy Hive were invited to tour with JOVM mainstay Lee Fields. That tour dramatically changed their approach and sound: after the tour they began exploring the relationships between the traditions and lyricism of folk and the aesthetics and rhythms of soul music — seamlessly meshing them into something anachronistic yet uniquely theirs. And with a new sound, they began honing their sound with a year-long monthly resident at Red Hook, Brooklyn-based dive bar Sunny’s with a rotating cast of collaborators. Then they spent the next couple of years working on folk and soul inspired material that thematically focused on love and loss.

The end result is the band’s long-awaited full-length debut Float Back to You. Slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Big Crown Records, the album is the follow-up to their critically applauded debut EP Harping and a string of well-received singles. Recorded at Steinwess’ Diamond Mind Studios, the album was produced by Steinwess and consists of 10 originals, a cover of Honeybus’ “Be Thou By My Side” and a re-working of the old Irish folk standard “Red is the Rose.” The album also features an impressive array of guest stars including Mary Lattimore (harp), El Michels Affair’s Leon Michels (sax, keys), The Shacks‘ Shannon Wise (backing vocals), The Roots’ Dave Guy (trumpet), Nick Movshon (bass) and Spring’s wife Sophia Heymans (piano).

Earlier this year, I wrote about the album’s first single “Broom.” Tracing its origins back to the band’s first tour with Lee Fields, the track is a shimmering and mournful bit of blue-eyed soul meets 60s folk. “At the time, we were a folk trio with nylon guitars playing Nick Drake inspired arrangements,” the band’s Homer Steinweiss recalls in press notes. “These songs did not go over too well with the So-Cal soul audience. Inspired by Lee’s music, we saw a need to write a more soulful song to appeal to them. After covering Donnie and Joe Emerson’s ‘Baby’ in San Diego, Joe made some chords, Homer laid a beat and paul activated the falsetto to make this tune.” Interestingly, “Float Back To You,” the slow-burning and shimmering third album single and album title track is a achingly plaintive ballad that further cements the band’s sound — in particular, I’m reminded Simon & Garfunkel, Scott Walker and blue-eyed sound.

Featuring line animation by Sophia Heymans, the recently released video for “Float Back To You,” the video manages to capture those things we can’t quite have — carefree summer afternoons and nights, while following a woman, who decides to take various garden gnomes, rocking horses and the like into her home to read to them.  It’s a simple yet surreal fantasy centered around the sort of feverish nostalgia we all have right now. 

Raised in Istanbul, Benjamin Dean, an emerging singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. who relocated to the US when he was a teenager. In his early 20s, he wound up in Atlanta, where he studied at Georgia State University‘s School of Music for about a year before leaving school to focus on his own creative projects.

After leaving Georgia State, Dean wound up performing at a a number of venues in the Atlanta area including Eddie’s Attic and Smith’s Olde Bar. Last year, Dean released a series of alternative folk singles before deciding that he should take his music in a completely new direction. Earlier this year, Dean started writing material, which began incorporating elements of New Wave funk, indie rock and R&B — with the end result being his latest EP, Tame the Beast, which was released earlier this year. The EP’s latest single “The Silence” is a slinky and funky track featuring shimmering and atmospheric synths Nile Rodgers-like guitar, thumping drums, a two-step inducing hook paired with Dean’s plaintive falsetto. And while centered around an incredibly upbeat air, the track sonically reminds me quite a bit of JOVM mainstays Tame Impala and Washed Out — earnest and thoughtful, yet dance floor friendly.




New Video: KAYE Releases an Epic Sultry and Cathartic Visual for “Howl”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about Charlene Kaye, a rising New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, who spent her childhood in some rather far-flung places across the globe — living in Hawaii, Singapore, Hong Kong and Michigan all before she turned 18. And although she spent time in a number of different places throughout the bulk of her childhood, there was always one consistent thing: her parents’ old soul records and 90s grunge radio, both of which have heavily influenced her own work and career.

Initially starting her career as a solo artist, Kaye is best known for a five year stint as the frontwoman of acclaimed indie act San Fermin, contributing to 2015’s Jackrabbit and 2017’s Belong, which were supported with touring internationally, including sets across the global festival circuit. While touring with San Fermin to support Jackrabbit, Kaye started her latest solo recording project KAYE, releasing a handful of singles and KAYE’s debut EP 2016’s Honey. Last year, Kaye left San Fermin to fully concentrate on her solo career. 

The rising New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer started off the year with the Kirk Schoenherr-co-produced single “Closer Than This,” a bold and self-assured feminist pop anthem indebted to Cherelle, Patrice Rushen, Madonna and Control-era Janet Jackson that thematically touched upon lust, desire, longing, idealization, fantasy, self-preservation and centered around a narrator, who gives herself only on her terms. “Too Much,” Kaye’s second single of the year, continued a run of boldly feminist anthems centered around narrators, who have asserted themselves on their own terms — while being a decidedly electro rock affair that brought St. Vincent and Garbage to mind. 

“Howl,” Kaye’s third and latest single off the year, is a slow-burning and sultry track that finds its creator delving deep into the darkest recesses of her psyche with an unflinching and fearless honesty. And a result, the song’s narrator manages to be boldly self-assured yet insecure, fearless yet afraid to accept a loss of control, as well as accept who she may really be — someone who may not always be willing to sacrifice or settle, if it doesn’t serve her needs or what her particular vision is. “Cheryl Strayed has this quote—‘You can’t fake the core. It’s a god we must obey, a force that brings us all to our knees,'” Kaye says in press notes. “It got me thinking about how we’re always told to listen to our gut, our intuition – but what if our purest impulses are evil or self-serving, that may cause harm to those we love? What is the cost of choosing oneself?”

Interestingly, the release of “Howl” comes with the announcement of the title of her forthcoming and highly awaited full-length album — Conscious Control. “I named this album Conscious Control because my big lesson of the last few years has been abandoning my rational mind to guide my decisions, even if they made no sense at the time…throwing myself into uncertainty for the sake of getting closer to myself, even if it comes at great personal cost,” Kaye explains. “Letting this ethos guide my songwriting as well has yielded the boldest, deepest work I’ve ever done.”

Co-directed and edited by Kaye and Deborah Farnault, the recently released video for “Howl” not only marks the rising singer/songwriter and guitarist’s directorial and editorial debut, the video may arguably be the most disarming and visceral visual piece Kay has released to date: the video follows the rising artist around the California desert with a gorgeous, 40-foot long purple cape, luxuriously billowing behind her, digging into the sand and howling like a feral animal, and shredding on a mirror-covered Flying V guitar that she created. And much like the accompanying song, the visual evokes a unique feminine vulnerability and strength while being cathartic — a howl of grief, rage, self-loathing and passion, shot with a gorgeous fashion forward sensibility.