Tag: indie synth pop

r

Joseph W. Salusbury is a rising Toronto-based singer/songwriter and producer, who started off his professional career with a number of songwriting and production credits include cowrites on Majid Jordan‘s “Something About You” and Illangelo‘s “Your Future’s Not Mine, and vocal production on Nelly Furtado and Blood Orange‘s “Hadron Collider.” Back in 2017, Salusbury stepped out from behind the production booth and the relative anonymity of being a go-to songwriter with his solo recording project Joseph of Mercury. That year, he released three singles “Without Words,” “Young Thing” and “Find You Inside,” which quickly established the Canadian singer/songwriter and producer’s sound — slow-burning synth pop that drew from the likes of  David BowieElvis PresleyFuture Islands and Lower Dens among others, paired with his baritone crooning.

Since the release of his debut EP Find You Inside, the Toronto-based Salusbury has been prolific, releasing a number of singles, including his latest single “Pretty Blonde Boy.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, strummed reverb-drenched guitar, a languid backbeat and Salusbury’s achingly plaintive baritone, “Pretty Blonde Boy” is a slow-burning Tears for Fears meets The Smiths-like track inspired by it’s creator’s deeply personal and devastating experience of loss. “Two of my oldest, closest and dearest fiends, both taken too young and barely years apart. If there’s a word beyond ‘brother’ than that’s what they were,” Salusbury explains. “Love wasn’t just enough to balance out all that they carried on their shoulders. Their losses were devastating, breaking me in a way that I’m not sure will ever heal. It was in such eerie succession. They were mirrors of one another, both drawn into this senseless and tragic spiral of prescription pain meds and heroin, combined with fentanyl. Often the brightest lights go out the fastest . . .

“Overwhelmed with grief, I recorded the vocal performance in between tears and clenched fists. As time passed and I gained a resigned joy and acceptance among the sadness, ‘Pretty Blonde Boy,’ began to like an open road, rolling hills… the sun rising, or maybe setting, with that warm magic hour glow and a cool breeze, driving with nowhere to be. In tribute and memorial, for those burdened with pain or crisis, this is a testament to trying to be okay again. To find beauty, appreciation and gratitude in what feels hurtful, hollowing and unfair. ” 

New Video: Yelle Serves Up Looks in Sultry and Campy Visual for “Noir”

Acclaimed French electro pop act Yelle — Julie “Yelle” Budet (vocals) and Jean-François “GrandMarnier” Perrier (production, percussion) can trace their collaboration back to around 2000 when Budet and Perrier first met and became friends. But the duo didn’t start working on music together until 2005. Initially formed under the name YEL, an acronym for the phrase “You Enjoy Life,” the duo learned of a Belgian band with the same name, and were forced to change their name, eventually feminizing their original name to “Yelle.”

The duo quickly received attention when they posted a song they originally titled “Short Dick Cuizi,” which originally was a written as a mock diss track that referred to Cuiziner of acclaimed French hip-hop act TTC. The song eventually became “Je veux te voir,” which charted at #4 in their native France, and as a result of the buzz surrounding them, they caught the attention of Source Etc Records, who then signed the act. Interestingly, around the same time that the duo had started working on their full-length Perrier met the band’s now-former third member Destable, who at the time was working full-time as a journalist. As the story went, Baudet and Perrier were desperate for a touring keyboardist to flesh out their live sound, and they somehow managed to rope Destable into joining the band.

2007’s full-length debut Pop Up was released to widespread critical acclaim and was a commercial success as a result of “A cause des garçons,” which landed at #11 on the French Singles Chart and “Parle a ma main,” a collaboration with Fatal Bazooka that landed at number 1. Building upon a growing international profile, Baudet, Perrier and Destable spent a three year period between 2006-2009 touring to support Pop Up — with the band being named as MTV‘s Artist of the Week during the last week of March, 2008.

After taking a few months off, the members of Yelle returned to the studio to began work on their sophomore album, and by February 2010 they started their own label Recreation Center, headed by Perrier. Yelle’s sophomore album, 2011’s Safari Disco Club found the act focusing on harmonies, melodies and Budet’s vocals, and was released to generally positive reviews — including  The Independent, who wrote that the album was “essential for anyone, who appreciates dancefloor-friendly European synth pop.” The album caught the attention of Katy Perry, who invited the act to open for her during the British leg of her  California Dreams tour. After they completed that tour, they went on a European tour and went on a Stateside tour that fall. 

The French electro pop act’s third album, 2014’s Completement fou was co-produced by Dr. Luke and a team of producers that included Kojak, AC, Billboard Mat, Oliver, Cirkut, Mike and Madmax. Dr. Luke learned about Yelle through their remix of Katy Perry’s “Hot n Cold” — and after catching them live, he signed them to his label. The album was supported by extensive international touring, which included their third stop at Coachella, an extremely rare feat for a Francophone act, as well as tours across Europe, South American and China.

The acclaimed French act’s fourth album  L’Ère du Verseau (The Age of Aquarius) was released last September — and much like countless acts across the globe, Baudet and Perrier were gearing up for extensive touring to support the album, and to celebrate their 15th year together. In lieu of touring, the band released incredible visuals for album singles “Je t’aime encore” and “Vue d’en Face,” a breezy yet melancholy track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, finger snaps, stuttering beats and Budet’s ethereal and achingly plaintive vocals.

L’Ere du Verseau’s latest single “Noir” is a dance floor friendly bop centered around thumping beats, shimmering synth arpeggios, funky bass line and Baudet’s sassy delivery. Interestingly, the song is meant to inspire the listener to strut like they’re on the catwalk, serving fools looks — hard.

Directed by Giant, the recently released video for “Noir” is a campy and fierce as fuck take on haute couture that features beautiful people serving up looks with fierceness while looking like behind the scenes footage of a photo shoot.

New Video: People Museum Releases an Infectious Club Friendly Bop

People Museum is a rising New Orleans-based art pop/dance pop act largely inspired by Afrobeat, hip-hop and choral and marching music. The duo — Jeremy Phipps (trombone, production) and Claire Givens (vocals, keys) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Phipps and Givens were eager to start a music project that incorporated the feelings and vibes of their hometown. Founded with the expressed intention of bringing nature to the future, the New Orleans-based duo’s sound and aesthetic seamlessly meshes their hometown’s beloved and world famous brass band tradition with the Crescent City’s synth heavy, progressive underground scene. 

Givens and Phipps’ soon-to-be released effort I Could Only See The Night EP is slated for release next week through Community Records and Strange Daisy Records. The new EP features a mix of songs made during last year’s pandemic-related quarantines and restrictions and songs the duo initially created during the first few months of their collaboration together. Thematically, the EP is a contemplation of our past, how we’re making sense of where we have ended up — and as a result, learning how to be more malleable with our visions of what the future could and should be. As the duo explains in press notes, the songs are an attempt to offer a bit of light in our very dark times while opening space for the listener to reflect, dance or just feel some sort of joy.

Last month, I wrote about “Forever” a Larry Levan-era house music influenced club banger that’s full of late night regret and trepidation centered around shimmering Giorgio Moroder-like synth arpeggios, skittering beats, Phipps’ mournful and melodic trombone played through reverb and delay pedal and Givens’ achingly plaintive vocals. You can literally feel the song’s narrator spiraling into indecision, regret and despair — although they’re desperately trying not to do so. 

“Rush,” I Could Only See The Night’s latest single continues a run of house music inspired bangers, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, Gaines coquettish vocals, explosive bursts of fluttering and melodic trombone and a euphoria-inducing hook. The end result is a much-needed escape to the dance floor, where there’s true liberation and equality.

“‘Rush’ was written in July of 2020 during quarantine with our drummer and co-producer, Mopodna. It is a dance anthem about letting go of the expectations we had for where we thought would be right now and reframing our thoughts and words to rebuild a better environment socially and emotionally. It’s intended to be this idea of a mourning that’s moving us toward evolving personally and globally. We have second-lines here in New Orleans which are basically street parades that are for deaths and for parties – I think it’s that’s a huge vibe of ‘Rush.’ We cry, we dance it out, we move on together and celebrate what we have and help each other.”

Directed, filmed and edited by People Museum’s Claire Givens, features black and white footage of a horn player walking to the beach with his horns, the band’s Phipps conducting an informal march, the recording of the song and Givens singing and dancing along to the song. It’s a playful and feverish visual that captures aspects of life in a quarantine.

With the release of their debut single “Island of Promise,” the Budapest-based electronic music production and artist duo  Belau — Peter Kedves and Buzas Krisztian — quickly exploded into their homeland’s scene for establishing a buoyant, summery and dance floor friendly sound that according to the band meant to evoke “cheerful places, filled with sunshine, where one can relax, unwind and find peace and harmony.” Since its release, “Island of Promise” landed at #1 on Deezer Hungary, one of the country’s largest string services, amassed over 500,000 streams, was featured in the HBO Hungary series Aranyélet, and in an international  Pepsi ad campaign shown in 33 countries.

Belau’s full-length debut, 2016’s The Odyssey won a Hungarian Grammy for Best Electronic Music Album. The duo supported the album with an intense touring schedule — 120 shows in 19 countries with stops across the international festival circuit with sets at Eurosonic, SzigetReeperbahnUntold, and SXSW. After The Odyssey, the JOVM mainstays released a series of remixes of The Odyssey tracks, which they followed up with their sophomore album, 2019’s Colourwave featured a number of singles I’ve written about, including:

  • Breath,” a sultry, dance floor friendly collaboration with Sophie Lindinger centered around glitchy beats and a sinuous yet anthemic hook
  • The Massive Attack-like “Natural Pool.”
  • Rapture,” a collaboration with Blue Foundation‘s Kirstine Stubbe Teglbjærg centered around a trip hop-inspired production featuring shimming synth arpeggios, wobbling low end and Stubbe Teglbjærg’s sultry vocals. 
  • Essence,” a collaboration with Sophie Barker that features Barker’s sultry vocals gliding over a shimmering production centered around looping, reverb-drenched guitar shimmering synths, skittering beats and an enormous hook that brought Third-era Portishead and Octo Octa to mind  – but a with a brooding air.

Although the duo haven’t been able to tour as a result of the pandemic, they’ve been busy: earlier this year, they released “Luz,” a one-off single with Sexto Sentido that was decided sonic departure for the duo: the single reminded me quite a bit of fellow JOVM mainstays Ibeyi. Interestingly, as the duo explained in press notes, “’Luz’ is kind of a bridge to our future album; it’s a bit different from our earlier releases.,” the Budapest-based JOVM mainstays explain. “This single is a harmonic blend of traditional Afro-Cuban folk music and modern electronica, the lyrics in yoruba and spanish. This song is a spiritual journey for us, it will be the part of Colourwave DLX album with some remixes, reimagined versions and live sessions in April.

For Colourwave DLX‘s latest single, the Budapest-based JOVM mainstays recruited Ohxalá to remix album single “Breath” with Sophie Lindinger. Interestingly, the Ohxalá remix meshes dub and house music by retaining Lindinger’s sultry vocals paired with a chopped up hook, skittering beats and shimmering synths,. Interestingly enough, the remix gives the song a subtle yet completely different feel: in this case, the Oxhalá remix possesses a bracing chilliness that reminds me quite a bit of Octo Octa’s Between Both Selves.

“‘Breath’ was one of the first single from the album and also one of our favourites. We had some nostalgic feelings about that era, for example the day when we got the final master, that was the first time when we ever met with Sophie,” the Budapest-based JOVM mainstays recall. “Fun fact it was in Texas, where we played at SXSW. After the success of the song, we thought it would be great to have an alternative version, and asked Ohxalá to make a remix. We love their style because they blend traditional folk music with modern electronica, and they made a unique song which also has a new mood.”

Throwback: Happy 53rd Birthday Damon Albarn!

Thanks to a friend’s music history blog, I was reminded that today is Blur frontman and Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn’s 53rd birthday. I’ve been a huge fan of Albarn’s genre-defying work with Gorillaz since their debut album back in 2001. I’ve even seen them twice: once at The Meadows Festival, on which was one of the best music festival days I’ve ever experienced and at the Barclay’s Center about a year later. Both shows were phenomenal displays of animation and some genre-defying, incredibly dance floor friendly material.

So for his 53rd birthday, I wanted to thank Albarn for creating some weird yet infectious music that’s part of my own life story. Thank you, man. Happy birthday! May there be many many more!

Angel Ez is a Chicago-based indie singer/songwriter and producer, who currently creates music inspired by his own life experiences and emotions and anything else that may come at the moment. He recently finished a batch of material that’s slated for release at the end of this month — and the project will include his latest single, “When I’m With You,” a hook-driven slick pop song centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rattling beats and Ez’s plaintive vocals. Sonically, the track is a slick yet soulful synthesis of 80s synth pop and contemporary indie electro pop paired with lived-in lyrics.

Deriving her stage name from the Idlewood district of San Andreas in Grand Theft Auto: San AndreasEleanor Idlewood is an emerging, 23 year-old, Bordeaux-based electronic music producer and artist, who can trace the origins of her music career to when she was 14: Idlewood explains that her best friend received music programming software and they shared the software with her. Ever since then she’s been making her own original music, inspired by the sounds of the 80s and 90s — including Depeche ModeFrankie Goes to Hollywood, The Human LeagueKraftwerkVangelisPet Shop BoysMadonnaJean-Michel JarreMobyTelepopmusikTestu InoueStephane PompougnacWilliam Orbit and a lengthy list of others. (Unsurprisingly, the emerging French electronic music artist and producer proudly admits that she’s obsessed with the 80s: she owns some vintage synthesizers from the 80s and owns vintage dresses, boots and other items from the 80s that she regularly wears.) 

After releasing a handful of singles that found the young, emerging, French electronic music producer and artist experimenting with darkwave and New Wave, Idlewood released her full-length debut, last year’s Little Secrets, which featured the brooding, John Carpenter soundtrack-like “Not Your Fault.” Building upon the attention she received with Little Secrets, Idlewood will be releasing its follow-up, Little Secrets: Remixes and Fantasies. Little Secrets: Remixes and Fantasies‘ first single “Akito’s Madness” is a decidedly Tour de France-era Kraftwerk-inspired single, centered around a hypnotic, motorik groove, shimmering synth arpeggios and thumping beats.

“Kraftwerk is a major influence for this electronica track,” Idlewild says. “Made with some sequencer, vocalic for the vocal, Korg MS-20, Volca Modular and other sound design.”

New Video: JOVM mainstay Brothertiger Releases a Trippy and Nostalgic Visual for Cinematic and Shimmering “Dancer on the Water”

Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer and electronic music artist John Jagos, best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed electro pop recording project and JOVM mainstay act Brothertiger. Since starting the project while studying at Ohio State University, Jagos has released a handful of critically applauded EPs including Vision Tunnels, Out of Touch and 2019’s A Chain of Islands and four albums 2012’s Golden Years, 2013’s Future Splendor, 2015’s Out of Touch and last year’s Paradise Lost.

Paradise Lost was Jagos’ first full-length album of original material in five years. “This record was, for me, the culmination of a lot of time and development,” the JOVM mainstay said in press notes. “Since my last album was released 5 years ago, I had been building on top of that sound, trying to make it even more dynamic and distinct. This record is also my most personal, and I think that shows not only in the subject matter, but in the choice of sounds as well. I find that in electronic music, you can capture an emotion honestly with synthesized sound, not just with lyrics.”

Sonically, Paradise Lost found Jagos expanding upon the sound that has won him critical applause with the album featuring material that ranged from hook-driven indie pop to club-friendly electronica centered around the Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstay’s plaintive falsetto vocals singing lyrics that thematically touch upon aging gracefully, longing for purpose and celebrating life’s simple pleasures. Following up a busy 2020, Jagos begins this year with a gorgeous standalone single “Dancer on the Water.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, Jagos falsetto, brief bursts of mellotron, and a soaring hook “Dancer on the Water” may arguably be one of the JOVM mainstays most cinematic and layered songs of his expanding catalog.While reportedly influenced by Scritti Politti, Prefab Sprout and The Blue Nile, the track thematically is a mix of Jagos long-held obsession with all things surfing — with an aching nostalgia for a beautiful moment that you can’t quite get back.

Edited by Brothertiger and Evan Taylor, the recently released video features footage from Michael Hohensee’s Quicksilver Presents Mad Wax: The Surf Movie, which follows surfers hitting waves in Hawaii, Australia, Tahiti and France superimposed upon itself and at times in super slo-mo, adding to the song’s overall nostalgia.

Of course, along with the video, the JOVM mainstay announced an upcoming livestream performance from Bushwick Brooklyn’s The Sultan Room on April 28, 2021. Recorded on multiple cameras from The Sultan Room’s stage and light array, the set will feature material from last year’s Paradise Lost, old fan favorites and new, never-before-performed material. And after the show there will be a live Q&A with Jagos. Tickets start at $15 (including the prerequisite service fees and taxes) and are available for pre-order here: https://outermost.stream/collections/brothertiger?mc_cid=2df0a16ddd&mc_eid=UNIQID

New Audio: French Producer Anoraak Remixes Patawawa’s Disco Banger “Just Not With You”

Formed back in 2014, the Matlock, Derbyshire, UK-based electro pop trio Patawawa — multi-instrumentalist and producer Rory Lovatt, vocalist Sam Wilmot and vocalist Beth Garrett — burst onto the international dance music scene with an effervescent blend of disco, funk and pop that draws influence from the likes of Pet Shop Boys and Prince. Since their formation the trio have built up a massive profile and following: they’ve received airplay and praise from BBC Introducing; they’ve collaborated with French producer Tez Cadey on a Spotify viral hit; they’ve played sold-out shows in Japan; they’ve participated in a band partnership with KRK Systems; and lastly, they’ve crafted a soundtrack for Millie Bobby Brown’s fashion brand.

Building upon a rising national and international profile, the British dance trio’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Power Up is slated for a March 26, 2021 — and reportedly, the album will further cement their winning sound, which manages to be simultaneously nostalgia-inducing yet contemporary. Album single “Just Not With You”is a late 70s/early 80s disco and New Wave-inspired strut centered around a sinuous bass line, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, and percussive polyrhythm, shimmering analog synths and soulful yet determined vocals. Sonically while recalling things like Fear of Music-era Talking Heads, Chic, Tom Tom Club, and 80s synth funk, the song is a self-empowerment anthem featuring a narrator, who has built up the confidence and self-assuredness to move on from a relationship.

Recently, French producer Anorraak remixed “Just Not With You.” While the original was a slick and nostalgia-inducing mix of disco and New Wave, Anoraak’s remix. While retaining Beth Garrett’s soulful and self-assured vocals and brief blasts of the original’s guitars Anorrak gives the song a throughout reworking: most of the original’s instrumentation is replaced by dense layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, a funkier and punchier bass line and some dub effects while retaining Beth Garrett’s soulful and self-assured vocals. The original’s message still hods but the new take, manages to remind me a bit of Yaz’s “Situation.”

“We got in contact with Anoraak through Instagram and absolutely loved his work,” the rising British trio say of their collaboration with the rising French producer. “It just seemed like a no brainer to work together and we are absolutely chuffed with the result.”

“I really loved working on this remix,” Anoraak adds. “The vocals on the track reminded me a little of CSS so I tried to give a bit of that feeling with some dirty synth sounds on top of a disco base.”

New Video: L’Impératice Releases an Animated Visual for Slinky and Sultry “Hématome”

L’Impératice — founder Charles de Boisseguin (keys), Hagni Gown (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), Tom Daveau (drums) and Flore Benguigui (vocals) — is a rising Paris-based electro pop sextet that formed back in 2012. And since their formation, the French electro pop act has been extremely busy and prolific: within their first three years together, they released 2012’s self-titled debut EP., 2014’s Sonate Pacifique EP and 2015’s Odyssée EP.

In 2016, L’impératrice released a re-edited, remixed and slowed down version of Odyssée, L’Empreruer, which was inspired by a fan mistakenly playing a vinyl copy of Odyssée at the wrong speed. L’Impératice followed that up with a version of Odysseé featuring arrangements centered around violin, cello and acoustic guitar. During the summer of 2017, the Parisian electro pop act signed to microqlima records, who released that year’s Séquences EP.

2018’s full-length debut Matahari featured “Erreur 404,” which they performed on the French TV show Quotidien. Since then, the Parisian electro pop act have released an English language version of Matahari — and they’ve been busy working on the highly anticipated Renaud Letang co-produced sophomore album Taku Tsubo. Slated for a March 26, 2021 release through their longtime label home, the album derives its name from the medical term for broken heart syndrome, takutsubo syndrome (蛸 壺, from Japanese “octopus trap”). The condition usually manifests itself as deformation of the heart’s left ventricle caused by severe emotional or physical stress — i.e., the death of a loved one, an intense argument with someone you care about, a breakup, a sudden illness or the like. So, in case you were a wondering: yes, an untreated broken heart can actually kill you.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve written about three of Taku Tsubo‘s released singles:

“Voodoo?,” a slinky disco strut featuring a propulsive groove, layers of arpeggiated synths, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar and Benguigui’s sultry, come-hither vocals. Interestingly, one of the few songs written and sung in English on the album, the track features a narrator, who attends a party and decides to leave early to read Torture Magazine instead.
“Peur des filles,” another slinky disco floor strut that’s a scathing and sarcastic ode to the differences between men and women that points out how shitty men are.
Album opener “Anomalie bleue” which was one part Giorgio Moroder-like disco, one part Kraftwerk-like retro-futurism, one part Shalamar-like funk within an expansive, mind-bending song structure. But just under the dance floor friendly grooves, the song’s narrator charmingly describes love-at-first site with a beautiful, blue wearing anomaly that suddenly appears in a lobby full of drab suited con-men, grifters and CEOs and bored business travelers.

ako Tsubo’s fourth and last official single before its release, “Hématome” is a slinky and groovy, Quiet Storm-like bit of synth pop that reminds me of Cherrelle, Evelyn “Champagne” King and others, centered around shimmering analog synths, squiggling funk guitar, a supple and funky bass line and Benguigui’s sultry vocals. Co-written by Fils Cara, “Hématome,” as the band explains in press notes “is a wound of love, all the more vivid, as its inflicted from a distance, by interposed screens.”

Directed by Roxane Lumeret and Jocelyn Charles, the recently released, animated video for “Hématome” is a surrealist fever dream full of symbolic metamorphoses and transformations: the video begins with a primate/humanoid nurse trying to restore her patients to health — but things get very odd: people transform into animals, animals transform into other animals and even inanimate objects seemingly at will, including the eventual cure for the protagonist’s condition.