Tag: indie pop

New Audio: New York-based Pop Artist KAYE Releases a Performance Art Inspired Visual for Anthemic “Too Much”

Charlene Kaye is a 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 before she turned 18. Although she spent time in a number of different places throughout the bulk of her childhood, there was 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 in order to fully concentrate on her solo career.  Late last month, Kaye began the year with the Kirk Schoenherr-co-produced single “Closer Than This,” a bold and self-assured feminist pop anthem seemingly indebted to Cherelle, Patrice Rushen, Madonna and Control-era Janet Jackson while thematically touching upon lust, desire, longing, idealization and fantasy and self-preservation, as it features a narrator, who will only give on her terms. “Too Much,” Kaye’s latest single continues an ongoing run of feminist anthems featuring narrators, who have asserted themselves on their own terms. However, unlike its immediately predecessor, “Too Much” is a decidedly electro rock affair that brings St. Vincent and Garbage to mind, thanks in part to some blistering guitar rock and an arena rock friendly hook. 

“I wrote this song to make sense of a period of great emotional confusion in my life,” Kaye explains in press notes. “I had made many drastic changes at the same time regarding my career and my relationships and was left feeling totally unanchored, like I just blew up my life for no reason — even though at my core I knew it was necessary for my own growth.”

Directed by Kaye’s sister Liann Kaye, the recently released video for “Too Much” is inspired by Yoko Ono’s 1964 performance art work “Cut Piece,” in which Ono sits on a stage wearing her best suit, inviting audience members to cut and keep a piece of her clothing until she is completely exposed. Instead of having others remove pieces of her outfit, in the video Kaye is the agent of her metaphorical destruction and rebirth. Kaye’s outfit, which is made up of thousands of individual pieces of fabric that took hours to arrange on her body — and in the video we see pieces of her outfit get torn off, danced off and just fly off until we see the rising pop artist in a nude-colored outfit. 

“I love working with my sister because we’re so in sync creatively, and immediately understand what the other is trying to express.” Liann Kaye shares in press notes. “We shot each part of the song at a different speed, to show how the re-invention of one’s self can feel at once excruciatingly slow and like a freight train of change at the same time.”

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The Fredrikstad, Norway-based indie pop act Remington Super 60 — currently founding member, primary songwriter and producer Christoffer Schou, Elisabeth Thorsen and longtime collaborator Magnus Abelsen — can trace its origins back to 1998 when the band’s founder started the project as a Casio synth pop band. Throughout the band’s 20 plus year history, its sound has bounced back and forth between Casio synth pop and 60s-inspired bubblegum pop drawing from Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson, The Velvet Underground, Stereolab, The High Llamas, Cornelius, Yo La Tengo, Eggstone over the course of a handful of albums, EPs and appearances on compilations released through a number of labels across the world.

The band’s latest EP, the simply titled New EP was released last year through Christoffer Schou’s Cafe Superstar Recordings. The EP continues to showcase the band’s hook-driven take on pop. Interestingly, the EP’s latest single is the dreamy “I Don’t Want to Wait.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, Elisabeth Thorsen’s achingly plaintive vocals and an infectious hook, the Norwegian trio’s latest single may remind the listener of JOVM mainstays Still Corners, as well as Belle and Sebastian — but with a breezy yet autumnal wistfulness.

 

 

 

Natasha Khan is a Brighton, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project Bat For Lashes — and for being the vocalist for Sexwitch, a collaboration with the members of British psych rock act TOY and producer Dan Carey. Born to an English mother, Josie and Pakistani squash player Rehmat Khan, Natasha Khan traces some of the influences of her musical career to attending her father’s and her uncle’s Jahangir’s squash matches, which she felt inspired her creativity: “The roar of the crowd is intense; it is ceremonial, ritualistic. I feel like the banner got passed to me but I carried it on in a creative way. It is a similar thing, the need to thrive on heightened communal experience.” Her father left when she was 11, and she taught herself to play the piano, which quickly became an important channel to express things, to get them out.

Khan’s debut single “The Wizard” was released digitally through Drowned in Sound Records and on seven-inch vinyl through her own imprint, She Bear Records. By 2006, she caught the attention of Echo Label, a record label owned by Chrysalis Records that acted as an incubator for emerging artists and assisting their careers while moving them to major labels. Echo released her debut, 2006’s Fur and Gold. The following year, Khan and Echo signed an international licensing deal with Parlophone Records, who re-released Fur and Gold that year. The album reached #48 on the UK Albums Charts and since its release, it’s been certified gold. Building upon a growing profile, the British singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer played at Glastonbury Festival and toured across the States. The album was shortlisted for that year’s Mercury Prize, losing to Klaxons’ Myths of the Near Future, despite being critically applauded and named a heavy favorite to win. She won ASCAP’s Vanguard Award, which resulted in her performing at their “ASCAP Presents . .  .” SXSW showcase.

2008 continued an incredible run by the British singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist as she was notated for two Brit Awards — British Breakthrough Act and British Female Solo Artist. She opened handful of dates for Radiohead, and she released a cover of The Cure’s “A Forest,” which appeared on the Perfect as Cats charity album.

Khan’s sophomore album, 2009’s David Kosten and Khan-co-produced Two Suns was inspired by a trip she took to Joshua Tree, CA. The album focuses on her desert-born alter ego Pearl, whose personality she adopted while living in New York. Sonically, the material was inspired by the Brooklyn bands that had started to receive attention nationally and internationally at the time — in particular, TV on the Radio, MGMT, Gang Gang Dance and others. Interestingly, the album also found her collaborating with the members of Yeasayer, who contributed bass and beat programming. The album debuted at #5 on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified gold as a result of “Daniel,” which peaked at #36 on the UK Singles Chart. “Daniel” later won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song and was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year. Additionally, Khan received her second Mercury Prize nomination and a second BRIT Award nomination for British Female Solo Artist.

Summer 2009 saw her play at Glastonbury Festival, Somerset House and the iTunes Festival, which was followed by a special edition of Two Suns, which was released ahead of her October UK tour an included a cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody.”

Khan’s third Bat for Lashes album, 2012’s The Haunted Man debuted at #6 on the UK Albums Chart, her second consecutive Top 10 album, an effort that has since been certified silver. Khan was nominated for her third Best British Solo Female BRIT Award and was nominated for two Ivor Novello Awards — Best Song Musically and Best Song Lyrically for album single “Laura.” That year saw her play at Coachella Festival. She also opened for Blur and Depeche Mode.

During a surprise 2015 Green Man Festival set in Wales, Khan debuted her collaboration with Dan Carey and TOY — Sexwitch. That September, the project released its self-titled debut through Echo and BMG, which featured six covers of 1970s psych and folk from different parts of the world.

2016 saw the release of her fourth full-length album The Bride, an album that was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

Khan’s fifth album Lost Girls was released last fall through AWAL Recordings, and the album continues a run of concept albums: in this case, the material was centered around an off-kilter coming of age film, in which bands of marauding female biker gangs roam the streets — and teenagers make out on car hoods. The female characters throughout are parallel to the protagonists of her previously released albums — most notably, the street tough, darkness-driven Pearl from Two Suns. The album’s main character Nikki Pink, was one of the album’s central Lost Girls. And at its core, the album thematically is a loving and romantic homage to all things Los Angeles, being a child of the 80s and the films that influenced Khan. Sonically, the album found Khan mixing sounds she’s long loved — heavy bass lines, synth arpeggios, Iranian pop beats and cascading chorus which help evoke an achingly wistful air.

Khan recently released a four song live EP recorded at London-based venue EartH that features a stripped down versions of “Daniel,” “Desert Man” and “The Hunger” off Lost Girls featuring Khan accompanying herself on piano and organ. The EP’s first official single is a slow-burning,  stripped down, atmospheric cover of Don Henley‘s “The Boys of Summer” centered around twinkling keys and Khan’s expressive vocals.  Khan’s Bat for Lashes cover retains the song’s awareness of the passing of time, the end of youthful innocence — of a darker, more uncertain adult world just over the horizon.

Interestingly, the EP comes just before Khan embarks on a Winter North American tour — and it serves as a taste of what fans should expect: intimate renditions of the material off Lost Girls, as well as never performed songs and some surprises.

 

New Video: New York-based Pop Artist Kaye Releases a Sultry Visual for Feminist Anthem “Closer Than This”

Charlene Kaye is a 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 before she turned 18. Although she spent time in a number of different places throughout the bulk of her childhood, there was 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 in order to fully concentrate on her solo career. The New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer begins 2020 with the  Kirk Schoenherr-co-produced single “Closer Than This.” Centered around Kaye’s sultry cooing, layers of synth arpeggios, thumping beats, a fiery guitar solo and an infectious, radio friendly hook, “Closer Than This” is a bold, self-assured feminist pop anthem that sounds indebted to 80s synth funk and synth pop — in particular, Cherelle, Patrice Rushen, Madonna and Control-era Janet Jackson. And at its core, the song touches upon lust, desire, longing, idealization and fantasy and self-preservation, as it features a narrator, who will only give on her terms. 

“There are a lot of narratives in much about women expressing their longing for commitment and relationships, but I had a specific experience where that wasn’t the case. I think women especially are sold this idea that if they’re not giving constantly, they’re innately bad,” Kaye explains in press notes. “This song is about a time when I didn’t want to give to anybody but myself.” 

Directed by Kaye’s sister Lianne Kaye, the equally sultry video sees Charlene Kaye take on a boldly dominant role, where we see her take the lead in her relationships, essentially using the men in the video for her own pleasure.  “The concept was originally inspired by Fiona Apple’s ‘Criminal’ video where the people in this creepy house are seen mostly by way of their limbs and physicality,” Kaye explains. “Our video features me keeping these four men in captivity—they’re giving me lap dances and letting me have my way with them and I’m using them for my own pleasure, basically. Liann [Kaye, who directed the video] and I liked that gender-swap idea, where in so many hip hop videos you see rappers with these video girls giving them lap dances and doing whatever the man wants. We wanted to flip that visual and show people a powerful woman in control instead.“

New Audio: Introducing the Infectious and Socially Conscious Pop of Victor Marc

Victor Marc is an emerging, Lyon, France-born and -based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Marc started playing the piano when he turned 4 and quickly moved on to writing his original material. And by 2017, the emerging French singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist wrote and recorded an EP which led to a rapidly growing national profile, as well as one-man live shows across the country in which he bounced back and forth between different styles and genres, frequently meshing indie rock, electro pop and folk. 

Marc has an EP slated for a March 2020 release, and its first single is the soulful yet escapist pop tune, “Space.” Centered around an infectious, disco-influenced, two step inducing groove, the song sounds like a funkier version of JOVM mainstay Sam Fender.In fact, as the song has a decidedly political leaning — as it talks about hypocrisy, brutality and inequality in stark and realistic terms. And if you’re a sensitive and thoughtful person, there are a moments in which you’d want to just escape this planet.  “The song’s about the political, ecological issues the world is facing today and that paradoxically makes the unwelcoming space a bit more appealing, Space also has the meaning of something we need to find, a sort of inner peace . . .” Marc wrote to me in an email. 

The recently released video is a visual representation of the song’s lyrics while focusing on the narrator’s desperate desire to escape. 

Born in Beirut, Lebanon to an Irish-American father and a British mother, who was of Arabic and Italian origin, singer/songwriter and actor Michael Malarkey grew up in Yellow Springs, OH. He  eventually relocated to London, where he studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. As the story goes, while studying acting and drama, Malarkey began to immerse himself in music and songwriting, which he found to be a form of poetic journalism and an endless journey of self-discovery.  Interestingly, although Malarkey may be best known for playing Enzo in CW‘s The Vampire Diaries and Captain Michael Quinn in the History Channel‘s Robert Zemeckis-executive produced Project Blue Bookhe has managed to simultaneously carve out a separate career as a singer/songwriter.

Malarkey’s full-length debut 2017’s Mongrels was released through Cap on Cat Records to critical applause from MetroBillboard, Classic Rock, and The Guardian. The album’s material thematically explored the duality of his nature and that of human nature in general. Recorded by Malarkey along with Tom Tapley and Brandon Bush in Atlanta, and from album title track “Mongrel,” the material possesses a subtle old-school Nashville/country vibe that further emphasizes the introspective nature of the song and of the album’s material.

Malarkey’s sophomore full-length album Graveracer is slated for a February 10, 2020 release through Cap on Cat Records/Kartel Music Group.  The album’s material was written in 2018 in Puerto Rico and Vancouver while the singer/songwriter and actor was working on the 50 Cent-produced crime drama The Oath and Project Blue Booth. That period was one of a physical and emotional turbulence: Malarkey, along with the cast and crew were evacuated from Puerto Rico during the build up of Hurricane Maria. And understandably, that experience has reportedly bled into the material’s lyrical imagery. “During the time I was working on the record, I escaped two hurricanes – as well as a third, I suppose, my own personal one. This record is my Odyssey in a way. It’s the journey back home after being ravaged in the seas of your own mind and finding the strength to carry on after the storm. I was left with a feeling of freedom and I found it through these songs,” the singer/songwriter and actor says in press notes.

Recorded at Sheffield, UK-based Tesla Studios and co-produced by Michael Malarkey and singer/songwriter A.A. WilliamsGraveracer is reportedly centered around a straightforward, heartfelt honesty in its songwriting and tone with the material being reflective without leaning on nostalgia and forward-thinking without being urgent; in fact, it’s rooted in the present, as a portrait of one complex and flawed person, as a work in progress — as we all are.

“Shake the Shiver,” Graveracer‘s latest single is a sparse and brooding single, centered around Malarkey’s sonorous baritone,  atmospheric synths, a simple yet propulsive backbeat, a sinuous bass line, strummed guitar and a razor sharp hook. And while recalling Daughn Gibson and Jace Everett, the track manages to be seductive yet full of a dark and creeping, existential dread.

 

 

Harris Breyfogle is an up-and coming singer/songwriter, guitarist and Berklee College of  Music graduate. His forthcoming full-length Complexus, which is slated for a Spring 2020 release and the album covers the emotional timeline of the Berklee Music School grad’s relationship with an ex girlfriend with the material thematically exploring the journey to find closure and peace in the aftermath of a messy and bitter breakup.

Some of the album’s material has received attention from Hype Machine, Imperfect Fifth and a number of other blogs. Building upon a growing profile, Breyfogle’s latest single “Angela” is breezy, two step-inducing pop confection centered around Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, a sinuous bass line and an infectious, radio  hook. And while the song may stylistically draw inspiration from Daft Punk‘s smash-hit “Get Lucky,” the song also nods at George Michael‘s “Careless Whisper” and 80s yacht rock. Interestingly, the song takes it title from the woman,  who ultimately inspired Complexus‘ material — and as a result, the song is imbued with a mix of ache, longing  and nostalgia.

 

 

 

The Brilliance is an orchestral pop duo comprised of lifelong friends, Marshfield, WI-born, New York-based David Gugnor (vocals, guitar) and Marshfield, WI-born, Chicago-based John Arndt (keys, vocals). While centered around the duo’s friendship, the act can trace its origins to when the then-Tulsa, OK-based Gungor and then-Austin-based Arndt started the band back in 2010. Since their formation, the duo’s music has evolved: they  stared with more liturgical art and moved to peacemaking protest music; but over the past handful of years have focused on music that inspires the listener toward empathy and kindness. (We need much more of that in our morally bankrupt world.)

The act’s more recent release The Dreamer Suite, a collection of songs in a series of “suites” — songs and pieces united by a central theme — found the duo teaming up with World Relief for the organization’s initiative to raise awareness of the plight of DACA dreamers has amassed millions of streams on Spotify and Apple Music — as an independent release.  Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the members of The Brilliance will be releasing The Dreamer Suite‘s highly anticipated follow-up, Suite No. 2 World Keeps Spinning: An Antidote to Modern Anxiety on January 10, 2020.

“How Do We Know,” the duo’s latest single off their soon-to-be released album is a sleek and slickly produced track featuring a song structure that alternates between shimmering and lilting verses and arena rock friendly choruses. And while bearing a bit of a resemblance to Death Cab for Cutie and U2, the song is emotionally centered around life’s biggest question — “why the fuck are we even here and what’s the point of all of this?”