Tag: indie synth pop

New Video: MARBLES Shares Breezy and Bittersweet “One of a Kind”

Kolbotn, Norway-based dream pop outfit MARBLES — Ferdinand Widmer (vocals, bass), Marius Ringen (drums), Adrian Sandberg (synths) and Marcus Widmer (guitar) — features members, who come from a variety of musical backgrounds with many of the band’s members also playing in the black metal bands that the city is best known for internationally. 

When the band started, its members were initially unsure exactly what sound and genre this new music would be, but they quickly discovered a shred interest in dream pop, indie and disco styles, and they were able to capture a unique vibe together in their jam sessions. That unique vibe was immediately present on their debut single “European Dream.” And from there, the Norwegian outfit quickly honed and built upon the blueprint that song set out for their overall sound.

The Norwegian pop outfit’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Humour is slated for a February 10, 2012 through Playground Music. The album will feature three singles released over the course of this year, including “World Inside Me,” a deliberately crafted mid-tempo and breezy Washed Out and Brothertiger-like bop that’s underpinned by a deep-seated — and perhaps hard won — introspection.

“‘World Inside Me’was written in our most isolated period through the pandemic. It tries to describe a feeling of loneliness that is mostly conjured by our own mind. Even though there are options and offers from the outside world, sometimes you just feel better in your own sphere,” the Norwegian dream pop outfit explains. “Living in your own little world (or bubble) can feel both pleasant and safe, but also quickly turn into a lonesome and desperate state of mind.” 

Album single “One of Kind” is a subdued, introspective and woozy bop centered around glistening synth arpeggios, skittering four-on-the-floor paired with Widmer’s ethereal vocals and the band’s unerring knack for well-crafted, catchy hooks. But the song is rooted in bittersweet, lived-in experience: MARBLES’ Ferdinand Widmer explains that “One of a Kind” is all about the experience of realizing that a relationship in your life — whether it be a friend, family member or romantic partner — and coming to terms with the fact that you are moving in different directions.

“Our message with ‘One of a Kind’ is that – sometimes it’s ok to lose contact with someone close in your life. Maybe you evolve differently or go down different paths. You come to the point in a relationship where both parts have moved on, and you´re still trying to accept it for a good thing. Doing your best to cherish their accomplishments in life. You’ll never find someone similar, and that’s just life. You still want the best for them. And you understand that ‘forever regretfulness’ can be a curse.”

The accompanying video for “One of a Kind” features the band’s Ferdinand Widmer and a green screen backdrop. Leaning hard into the goofiness and obvious fakery of its setup, Widmer is inserted into the screensaver type of backdrops like the photo booth karaoke machines you’d see at your local mall.

Jacque Ryal is a New York-based singer/songwriter, keyboardist and pop artist, who first emerged onto the local scene as a member of pop outfit Strip Darling. She then stepped out into the limelight as a solo artist, who crafted Portishead-inspired trip-hop. 

RYAL, the New York-based artist’s latest project with producer and songwriter Aaron Nevezie has recieved attention from The Best Line of Best FitTime Out New YorkLadyGunnPopdust, this site and elsewhere  for releasing material that’s been compared to Little Dragon and the aforementioned Portishead.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Best Friend,” a slickly produced bop built around glistening synth arpeggios, skittering beats, shimmering bursts of guitar and Ryal’s plaintive delivery paired with random puppy noises and the duo’s unerring knack for razor sharp hooks. Initially written as a lullaby dedicated to Ryal’s beloved dog and best friend, who died, “Best Friend” gradually morphed into a dreamy yet anthemic bop. But just underneath the big choruses and catchy hooks, the song captures the unique and profound relationship one has with their animal companions.

RYAL’s latest single “What I Mean To You” is inspired by the full band set up of their previous releases, and sees the duo collaborating yet again with Marcy Playground’s and Norah Jones’ Dan Rieser (drums) and Grammy Award-winner John Davis (bass). Centered around a punchy and propulsive rhythm section, twinkling keys and Ryal’s plaintive and yearning delivery, “What I Mean To You” is a swooning and hook-driven bop that seemingly comes from lived-in, personal experience.

“What I Mean To You” thematically finds its narrator grappling with a relationship on the brink. Throughout the song, the narrator tries to save their relationship through affirmations of safety, love and fidelity — and the determination to make the effort and do the work to maintain it. It’s a much needed burst of light, yet earnest sweetness in an all too often harsh world.

RichesYoung Galaxy‘s Catherine McCandless and choreographer Wynn Holmes — is a multidisciplinary, intercontinental collaboration and ongoing dialogue between its two collaborators that combines music, dance and performance. Songs are the first iteration of the project, and they take a narrative approach to themes concerning the performance of creative rituals, identity, transgression and devotion.

The duo’s latest single, the slow-burning and woozy “Shadow of You” pairs syrupy, reverb-drenched beats and guitar and glistening synths with McCandless’ delicate upper register, which expresses aching, soul-deep longing.

The duo explain that the song “celebrates the entity and demon of Creation, serenading just how gorgeous, intoxicating, and potentially self destructive the compulsion of making art can be.”

New Video: Psykasya Shares Woozy and Darkly Seductive “Fleetingly”

25 year-old, French singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adriane is the creative mastermind behind the emerging dark wave recording project Psykasya. Adriane can trace much of the origins of her career to getting vocal and Celtic harp lessons at a very young age. But after discovering MAO last year, the French singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was inspired to write her own material.

Sonically, her work is informed by several different styles and genres — but she cites Aurora, aleah, Myléne Farmer, and Fishbach as major influences. Centered around a dark, mysterious atmosphere, the young and emerging French artist’s work thematically focuses on the night, witches, death and the like.

The French singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s latest single, the retro-futuristic “Fleetingly” is a brooding and darkly seductive track centered around skittering beats and woozy atmospheric synths paired with Adriane’s sultry delivery. The end result is a song that seamlessly meshes elements of trip hop, dark wave and goth.

Fittingly shot at night and in a cinematic black and white and through VHS tape, the accompanying video follows a walk through a suburban office park, to the city and a night out at local pub for pints and then to a crowded, sweaty club and a house party.

New Audio: Axis Neptune Shares a Slinky Meditation on Life

Josh Cotterill is a Scarborough, UK-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, sound designer and producer, who can trace the origins of his music career to when a seven year-old Cotterill, obsessed with Jimi Hendrix and John Frusciante, learned guitar.

After graduating from college with a degree in history and Chinese, Cotterill began focusing on producing his own music with several projects — in particular, his rising, soul, jazz, synth pop and indie rock-influenced solo recording project Axis Neptune, which he started in 2020.

Cotterill’s Axis Neptune full-length debut, last year’s Reasons featured “Cherry Red,” which was chosen as BBC Introducing‘s pick of The Week by BBC Radio York and North Yorkshire‘s Jericho Keys. The Scarborough, UK-based artist was invited to perform for a BBC Introducing live session that was filmed on the Chinese island of Hainan, because Cotterill was stuck in China as a result of the country’s strict COVID-19 restrictions. (This also marked the first ever BBC Introducing session ever filmed in China.)

Adding to a growing profile, the rising British artist and producer played live sessions for CGTN, China Radio International, Nugget Record’s Online Music Festival, and sets at Sofar Sounds and Beijing’s Dusk till Dawn Club.

Cotterill’s latest Axis Neptune single, “Solar” is a slinky, hook-driven bop centered around glistening synths, bubbling bursts of funk guitar, skittering beats and the rising British artist’s falsetto delivery that manages to bring Currents-era Tame Impala to mind. But under the sleek, Quiet Storm-meets -disco funk facade is a brooding meditation on life’s fleeting nature.

New Video: Carrellee Shares Dark and Sultry “Morning Sun”

Sarah Pray is Madison, WI-based singer/songwriter and musician, who can trace much of the origins of her music career to growing up in a musical household: Pray’s father taught her piano and by the time she turned five, she was learning jazz chords and music theory.

As a teenager, Pray interned at recording studios in Madison and Minneapolis — and then she started writing her own original music. Pray started her career as as solo artist, releasing her first few releases under her name. She then made a name for herself as one-half of folk duo Kivi & Pray with her ex-husband Thomas Kivi, an act that toured across much of Europe and the States.

During both the pandemic and divorce, Pray wanted to experiment — and return to her roots. “I am a big fan of female artists like Bjork, Angel Olsen, Fiona Apple, and PJ Harvey, who constantly evolve. I feel more in touch with myself more than ever since the divorce.” Pray’s latest project Carrellee sees the Wisconsin-born singer/songwriter and musician working with Brett Bullion to fine tune her songs, giving them a sleek, modern air.

Pray’s Carrellee debut, Scale of Dreams is slated for a November 18, 2022 release through Negative Gain Productions. Thematically, the album is heavily informed by Pray’s divorce with the album evoking the heartache, longing, frustration, regret and bitterness of a major relationship’s end. Sonically, the material draws from Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush and a wide variety of Italo disco and synthwave with each instrument being processed through crumped and fried analog tape.

Scale of Dreams‘ first single “Morning Sun” is a dark and seductive synthesis of Giorgio Moroder-like Italo disco, industrial electronic and pop featuring thumping and skittering beats, glistening synth arpeggios paired with razor sharp hooks and Pray’s sultry delivery expressing aching longing — and the song’s narrator’s realization that their relationship has irrevocably changed.

“Morning Sun” came to Pray during a dream she had as she was getting divorced. The next morning, she quickly transcribed it from her home studio, and shared the demo video on Facebook, where it has amassed over 370,000 views.

The accompanying video features Pray wearing different wigs in superimposed or directly in neon light and explosive bursts of light in a variety of sexually-charged scenarios.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Brothertiger Shares Breezy and Escapist “Be True”

Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, musician and producer John Jagos is the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed chillwave/synth pop, JOVM mainstay act Brothertiger. And with Brothertiger, Jagos has released four full-length albums and a handful of EPs featuring brooding and introspective material, Tears for Fears cover album and Fundamentals, a four-volume series of livestreamed improvisations.

Jagos’ self-titled fifth album was co-produced with longtime collaborator Jon Markson. Slated for a November 4, 2022 release through Satanic Panic Recordings the self-titled album reportedly sees Jagos moving through his chillwave roots and into the refined glitz of sophistipop, a British micro genre made famous in the 80s and 90s by the likes of Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry, Prefab Sprout, Scritti Politti and others. Jagos’ take on the style though is pure escapism — immaculate, lushly produced and engineered, retro-leaning songs meant for romantic vagabonds and urbane daydreamers alike.

Typically, the self-titled album is reserved for an artist’s debut effort. But for Jaogs, the album serves as an introduction to a playful and escapist new era for him that can trace its origins back to the early days of the pandemic: Like a lot of artistic city-dwellers, the Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstay was restless. That changed after he scoured eBay for vintage gear, impulsively snagging some some sophisitpop-era synths and samplers manufactured by Ensoniq, a now-defunct company.

Armed with this new gear and a completely new sonic palette, Jagos wrote, recorded and released “Dancer on the Water,” a lush and cinematic track centered around glistening synths and bursts of pan flute. Initially released as a standalone single last spring, both longtime fans and new fans were smitten by the song’s unselfconscious optimism and its throwback, feel-good energy. “I was like, I want to make music like this for a while and see what happens,” Jagos explains. 

What happened next was that new songs spilled out of the JOVM mainstay with an unexpected ease. “I felt more connected to my songwriting than I’ve ever felt before,” Jagos recalls. That self-synchronicity was infectious, leading to productive sessions with some unexpected collaborators including Covet‘s Yvette Young and Underoath‘s Spencer Chamberlain.

But Jagos was also conscious about leaving space for kitsch and absurdity, often embracing the inherent cheesiness of the album’s slick influence. “Trying to be less serious about the music business is a big theme,” Jagos explains. “I’m not trying to conform to the specific ideals the algorithm machine wants me to be a part of; I’m just trying to make music that sounds good.

The self-titled album’s latest single “Be True” is slick, hook-driven bop built around glistening synth arpeggios, pan flute and a sinuous bass line that manages to subtly recall 90s R&B and Avalon-era Roxy Music — but with a longing, escapist vibe.

“I had this syllabic rhythm in my head for months and I felt like I needed to make a song around it,” the Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstay says of the song’s origins. “It had this specific ‘90s RnB’ vibe to it which I loved. That evolved into the mantra of the song, and from there, I just built around it. Then Jon came in and we added specks of detail all over. I love how heavy it became.”

The accompanying video features cinematic footage shot in some of the world’s most gorgeous and breathtaking places — and it happens to link up nicely with the song’s lyrics.

Formerly known as Super Inuit, Edinburgh-based pop duo Slim Wrist — Fern Morris and Brian Pokora — pair assertive beats, organic tones and pop sensibilities with an understated poignancy in a way that has drawn comparisons to Cocteau Twins, Portishead, Broadcast, and Sylvan Esso.

The duo formed back in 2016 and since their formation, they have evolved from having separate and distinct musical roles to a much more collaborative and cohesive unit that shares ideas and then develops them further together.

The Scottish duo’s full-length debut Closer for Comforting officially drops today and the album, which was written over the past two years, sees the band stripping their songwriting to the bone and leaving the listener with exactly what they need. “We’ve developed quite a direct approach to writing and with Closer for Comforting we’ve really tried to hone that, stripping back on the sprawl of some of our earlier music,” Slim Wrist’s Brian Pokora explains. “All the songs have a purpose and the album feels quite concise, whilst still having room to breathe.”  Fern Morris adds “It’s a bit of a calm after the storm reflection, both musically and lyrically. If you’re in the middle of a situation you’re not always able to lift your head and see things in perspective.  We wanted to have a sense of that and have that sense of space whilst maintaining that direct, poppy feel.”

“Milk Teeth,” Closer for Comforting‘s latest single pairs glistening synths, skittering industrial thump and link with Fern Morris’ ethereal cooing and the duo’s ability to craft an earworm of a hook. The end result is a song that sounds like a slickly produced and stunning synthesis of Portishead and Soft Metals.

New Audio: Allegories Shares a Woozy New Single

Allegories — childhood friends Adam Bentley and Jordan Mitchell — can trace their project’s origins to their penchant for indulging in unconventional musical pursuits. After founding anthemic, indie rock outfit The Rest, Bentley and Mitchell embraced any opportunity to indulge their more outeé inclinations and desires. 

Back in 2014, Bentley and Mitchell began writing and recording material with no clear destination in mind, dabbling in everything from neoclassical compositions to hip hop. Gathering further inspiration from DJ’ing house and hip-hop nights, the act began to create electronic music that often shifts between the mainstream and underground spectrum. 

Throughout the past decade or so, the duo have had very busy schedules: Bentley currently works behind the scenes in the music industry. Mitchell operates a restaurant. But Allegories almost always found a way to creep back into their lives — even if only as a private amusement between the pair. 

The duo spent the better part of a decade winnowing down 35 song ideas into their nine-song album Endless, their first full-length album in over 14 years. “There’s a moment during the marking of an album, where you don’t know if you’ll finish it,” Bentley and Mitchell say. “Endless was riddled with these cynical epiphanies. It’s unavoidable when you’ve spent over half a decade tinkering away. But as we closed in on the finish line, there was a sense that this could be the last work you ever complete. That spurs the process on, giving urgency. 

If you spend 14 years between albums, you want to make every note count.”

In the lead up to the album’s release earlier this year, I wrote about three singles:

  • Pray” a bizarre yet winning mix of menace, irony and sincerity paired with an Evil Heat era Primal Scream meets Sound of Silver era LCD Soundsystem-like production.
  • Constant,” a sugary sweet endorphin and dopamine rush centered around oscillating synth pulse and achingly plaintive vocal delivery paired with euphoric hooks. The end result is a song that simultaneously feels pleasant but also kind of off in a way that’s visceral but you can’t quite put your finger on. 
  • Always True,” a glittery, late night, house banger centered around ominous synth pads, thumping beats and achingly plaintive vocals that slowly builds up to a woozy and dizzying crescendo before gently fading out. The song’s narrator wearily pushes on through some awkward social interaction that ironically enough they’ve desperately longed for because they’ve been isolated for so long. 

After the album’s official release, I wrote about “Funny Way,” a slow-burning and atmospheric track centered around woozy synths and skittering thump paired with plaintive vocals. While the previously released singles were off-kilter and dripping with irony, “Funny Way,” may arguably be the most earnest song of the album. 

“‘Funny Way’ is in many ways the beating heart of Endless. It is chronologically the earliest recording on this album, bridging a gap between two musical worlds in our lives,” the duo explain in press notes. “‘Funny Way’ holds a unique and earnest place within our catalogue of music.” 

Endless‘ fifth and latest single “Tell Me Before I Forget” is centered around glistening synth arpeggios, skittering beats, whispered and cooed falsetto vocals and insistent thump paired with the duo’s uncanny knack for infectious hooks. Much like its immediate predecessors, “Tell Me Before I Forget” is a woozy and mind-bending mix of earnestness, sneering irony and menace.

The accompanying video by Andrew O’Connor is a fittingly kaleidoscopic, satellite view of ocean waves crashing against a rock — with the visual pulsing in time to the music.