Superstaste — rising DJ and producer Hundreds Thousands and Slug Father — are a Brooklyn-based electronic music production and artist duo . The duo have a unique artistic mission: bringing the 80s sound and aesthetic — i.e., Walkmen and mixtapes — to the 21st century while evoking the feeling of heading to your local bodega for a chopped cheese or a bacon egg and cheese after a night of partying.
The duo’s debut ep Breakup Disco is inspired by the music that got through heartbreak — funk driven, club bangers. And since its release, EP singles have appeared on Spotify’s Soda Playlist, and on playlists curated by Goldroom,The Knocks, and JOVM mainstay Washed Out. Building upon a growing profile, the Brooklyn-based duo signed to Kitsuné, who released “Comedown” earlier this year.
Supertaste’s latest single finds them tackling Kylie Minogue‘s slinky, smash hit, club banger “I Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” While retaining, the overall slinkiness of original, the Supertaste cover turns the song into a sultry and slow-burning 80s Quiet Storm-inspired jam with a soulful horn line.
“We both remember hearing this track on our hometown radios when we were 11/12 years old,” the members of Supertaste explain. “It was such an instant classic and we’ve honestly had this on repeat all summer. We had to do it right and keep this rendition as subtle and sexy as possible, while also doing our best to keep those iconic melodies and hooks intact. Our only hope is it finds its way to dancing feet in living rooms all across the globe.”
Last year, I wrote about the rapidly rising Solleron, Sweden-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist Winona Oak. Oak, who was born Johanna Ekmark has a rather unique backstory: Growing up on the small, Swedish island known to Swedes as the Island of the Sun, the Solleron-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist spent much of her childhood encountering more animals than people. As the story goes, she grew up as a trained horse acrobat and because she grew up in a musical home, she was encouraged to pursue creative endeavors as much as possible: Ekmark began playing violin when she was 5, piano when she was 9, and she wrote poetry and songs at an extremely young age.
Ekmark eventually moved to Stockholm to pursue a career in music, but a leap of faith that had her attend a Neon Gold Records writing retreat in the Nicaraguan jungle led to her meet Australian-born and based hit making producer and pop artist What So Not. And from this serendipitous meeting, she went on to co-write ““Better” and “Stuck In Orbit,” before stepping out into the spotlight as both the writer and featured artist on the Aussie producer and pop artist’s “Beautiful.”
Adding to a busy 2018, Ekmark covered HAIM‘s “Don’t Save Me” for Neon Gold Records’ 10th anniversary compilation, NGX: Ten Years of Neon Gold before closing out that year with a co-write and vocal contribution to The Chainsmokers viral hit “Hope,” a track that has amassed over 250 million streams across all digital platforms globally — including over 100 million streams on Spotify. As a result of such incredibly early success, the Swedish-born, Los Angeles-based pop artist signed to Warner-Chappell Music Publishing and to Neon Gold/Atlantic Records.
Now, as you may recall, last year, I wrote about the Swedish-born, Los Angeles-based pop artist’s long-awaited debut single, the slickly produced, hook-driven and sultry “He Don’t Love Me,” and the slow-burning and anthemic ballad “Break My Broken Heart.” Both singles managed to further cement Oak/Ekmark’s growing reputation for crating incredibly earnest pop with enormous hooks. Oak ended last year with the release of an alternate version of her last single of 2019 “Let Me Know.” The “Let Me Know (Johan Lenox Stings Mix) ” reimagines the propulsive, dance floor friendly original by pairing Oak’s vocals with a string arrangement from Johan Lenox, who has worked with Kanye West, Travis Scott and Vic Mensa.
Building upon that momentum, Oak released her debut EP CLOSURE through Neon Gold/Atlantic Records last week. The EP’s latest single “Control” continues a run of slickly produced synth pop centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, an enormous hook and Oak’s achingly plaintive vocals. And while sonically the song recalls Kylie Minogue and others, the song evokes the swooning and fluttering pangs of new love and the uncertainty, insecurity and obsession it can sometimes bring. “‘Control’ is about meeting someone that makes you weak in your knees and never knowing how they actually feel about you,” Winona Oak explains in press notes. “You make risky decisions, act irrationally and tolerate things you normally wouldn’t. You’re feeling nervous, insecure and are constantly afraid that they are gonna leave you. Oh and this is when you learn – the difference between love and obsession.”
Shot and co-directed by longtime visual collaborator Andreas Öhman and Julian Gillström, the recently released video for “Control” stars Winona Oak as a desperate and hopelessly obsessed woman who stalks the object of her affection, before trying to build a Ken doll-version of him. “For the video, we wanted to target this hopeless feeling with a twisted sense of humor,” Oak explains in press notes.
Slated for a December 2019 release, the duo’s highly-anticipated, full-length debut Love Revolution will further cement the duo’s reputation for being full-circle creators, who write, sing, produce design everything related to their musical project with the album reportedly finds the members of SACRE meshing music, photography and narrative storytelling with each track of the album telling the story of 12 different characters over the course of 12 hours. The album’s fourth and latest track “10:00PM FIRE IRAE (which translates into “fire wrath”) is a sultry and propulsive trance-inducing, house banger, centered around layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, tweeter and woofer rocking low end, sultrily delivered ethereal vocals and a soaring hook — and while bearing a resemblance to Giorgio Moroder, Daft Punk, and Kylie Minogue, the song is set at 10:00pm. Bebe, the star of the evening, appears on stage. The crowd cheers for a moment, then hushes, hypnotized by her fire dancing, with her performance ending with Bebe triumphantly setting the entire bar on fire. Show over, time to go home, now — with the crowd slack jawed and with that space cadet glow, as an old song says.
Last year, Pitchfork, one of the premier music websites; October, a beer culture-centric website that aims to capture the spirit, ambition, making and drinking of the precious and beloved stuff through essays, travelogues and events; and Bon Appetit, the award-winning food lifestyle brand teamed up for what may arguably be one of the most unique festivals I’ve come across in some time: OctFest, a beer, music and food festival. 2018’s edition of OctFest, which will take place on Governor’s Island on September 8, 2018 and September 9, 2018 will feature a food lineup curated by Bon Appetit , a music lineup curated by Pitchfork that will include Vince Staples, The Flaming Lips and dozens of other music acts, 90+ craft breweries from all around the world – and with arguably some of the most gorgeous views of Manhattan you’ll see in your life.
So let’s talk a bit about each aspect of the festival, huh?
10 Barrel Brewing Co. (Bend, OR)
Austin Eastciders (Austin, TX)
Breckenridge Brewery (Littleton, CO)
Elysian Brewing Company (Seattle, WA)
FiftyFifty Brewing Company (Truckee, CA)
Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Paso Robles, CA)
Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI)
Four Peaks Brewing Co. (Tempe, AZ)
Golden Road Brewing (Los Angeles, CA)
Goose Island Beer Co. (Chicago, IL)
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (Dexter, MI)
Karbach Brewing Co. (Houston, TX)
Kona Brewing Company (Kailua-Kona, HI)
Live Oak (Austin, TX)
Monkless Belgian Ales (Bend, OR)
On Tour Brewing Company (Chicago, IL)
Rogue Ales (Newport, OR)
The Shop Beer Co. (Tempe, AZ)
Virtue Cider (Fennville, MI) North America – East
Blue Point Brewing Company (Patchogue, NY)
Brasserie Archibald (Canada) Braven Brewing Company (Brooklyn, NY)
Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY)
Brickworks Cider (Canada)
Circa Brewing Co. (Brooklyn, NY)
Cisco Brewers (Nantucket, MA)
Collective Arts Brewing (Canada)
DC Brau (Washington, D.C.)
Devils Backbone Brewing Company (Roseland, VA)
Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick, MD)
Hanging Hills Brewing Company (Hartford, CT)
Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers (Framingham, MA)
Keegan Ales (Kingston, NY)
Lamplighter Brewing Co. (Cambridge, MA)
LIC Beer Project (Long Island City, NY)
Lord Hobo Brewing Company (Woburn, MA)
M.I.A. Beer Company (Doral, FL)
Microbrasserie Gainsbourg (Canada)
Mill Street Brewery (Canada)
Narragansett Brewing Company (Pawtucket, RI)
Sand City Brewing Co. (Northport, New York)
Springdale (Framingham, MA)
Stanley Park Brewing (Canada)
Sunday Beer Co. (Brooklyn, NY)
The Bronx Brewery (Bronx, NY)
Veza Sur Brewing Co. (Miami, FL)
Wicked Weed Brewing (Asheville, NC)
Zero Gravity Craft Brewery (Burlington, VT) Europe
Aktien Brewery of Kaufbeuren (Germany)
Birra del Borgo (Italy)
Brasserie La Binchoise (Belgium)
Brouwerij Bosteels (Belgium)
Brouwerij DeKroon (Belgium)
Camden Town Brewery (UK)
Hertog Jan (Netherlands)
La Virgen (Spain)
Laugar Brewery (Spain)
Wild Beer Co (UK) Latin America
Bogota Beer Co (Colombia)
Cervecería Urbana (Mexico)
Cervecería Wendlandt (Mexico)
Cerveza Patagonia (Argentina)
Lohn Bier (Brazil)
Melas Beer (Colombia)
Nicaragua Craft Beer Co. (Nicaragua) Pratinha (Brazil)
Wals (Brazil) Asia, Africa, Oceania
Bira 91 (India)
4 Pines Brewing Company (Australia)
Balter Brewing Co (Australia)
Boxing Cat Brewery (China)
Cape Brewing Co. (South Africa)
Good George (New Zealand)
Newlands Spring Brewing Company (South Africa)
Pirate Life Brewing (Australia)
Playground Brewery (South Korea)
Taihu Brewery (Taiwan)
The Hand & Malt Brewery (South Korea)
While I’ll definitely have interest in the food and beer, my primary interest is the music and I’m looking most forward to catching sets from the following:
Saturday, September 8
Vince Staples: Staples is a 25 year-old, North Long Beach, CA-born and-based emcee and actor, who first rose to prominence as member of hip-hop collective Odd Future, which also featured Mike G, Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler The Creator – and the collaborative Mac Miller-produced Stolen Youth mixtape. October 2014 saw the release of his solo debut EP, Hell Can Wait, which included attention grabbing singles “Hands Up” and “Blue Suede.”
Building upon a growing profile, Staples’ full-length debut 2015’s Summertime ’06 was released to critical applause – with Staples being featured as part of XXL’s 2015 Freshman Class. Staples’ critically acclaimed sophomore album, 2017’s Big Fish Theory found the acclaimed, young emcee expanding upon his sound as the album’s production incorporated avant-garde, dance and electronic influences. Additionally, Staples’ made a guest appearance on Gorillaz’s latest effort Humanz.
Staples is headlining Saturday night and I’m looking forward to hearing material off both Summertime ’06 and Big Fish Theory live.
BADBADNOTGOOD: Currently comprised of founding members Matthew Tavares (keys), Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums) with newest member Leland Whitty (saxophone), the Toronto, Ontario, Canada instrumental act BADBADNOTGOOD derive their name from an abandoned comedy TV project that Tavares was working on before the band formed – and whether as trio or a quartet, the band has developed a reputation for a sound and compositional approach that draws from hip-hop, electronica, jazz, prog rock; but they’re perhaps best known for their jazz-based interpretation of hip-hop tracks, which have allowed them to collaborate with Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Denzel Curry, Danny Brown, Mick Jenkins, Ghostface Killah and others. Interestingly, the band can trace its origins to when the band’s founding trio bonding over a mutual love of hip-hop – in particular MF Doom and Odd Future.
As the story goes, the then-trio played a piece based on Odd Future’s music for a panel of their jazz performance instructors, who didn’t believe it had much musical value – but interestingly enough, after they released the track as “The Odd Future Sessions, Part 1,” the track caught the attention of Tyler The Creator, who helped the video go viral. The Canadian act followed that up with the 2011 release of their full-length debut BBNG, which featured interpretations of A Tribe Called Quest, Waka Flocka Flame and Odd Future. Building upon a growing profile, the members of BADBADNOTGOOD recorded a live jam session with Tyler The Creator in Sowinski’s basement, with videos from the session amassing more than a million views each.
2012’s sophomore effort BBNG2 was recorded over the course of a ten-hour studio session and featured Leland Whitty (saxophone) and Luan Phung (electric guitar) and featured their own original material, as well as renditions of sons by Kanye West, My Bloody Valentine, James Blake, Earl Sweatshirt and Feist. That year, the band was the official Coachella Festival house band, backing Frank Ocean and Odd Future over the course of its two weekends.
2013 saw the release of III, which featured “Hedron,” a track that was also featured on the compilation album Late Night Tales: Bonobo; “CS60” and “Can’t Leave the Night,” which was released with the B-side “Sustain,” and they were involved on the soundtrack for The Man with the Iron Fists, assisting with the production and composition.
2015 saw the release of the band’s fourth, full-length album Sour Soul, and the album found them collaborating with Ghostface Killah – and interestingly, the album is more of a hip-hop album that nods at jazz. They ended the year with covers of a handful of holiday standards, including “Christmas Time Is Here” with Choir! Choir! Choir!
Leland Whitty joined the band as a full-time member in early 2016, and followed that up with producing “Hoarse” off Earl Sweatshirt’s full-length debut Doris and “GUV’NOR,” a remix, which appeared on JJ DOOM’s Keys to the Kuffs (Butter Edition). By the middle of that year, BADBADNOTGOOD released their fifth full-length album IV, an album that featured guest spots from Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Colin Stetson, Kaytranada,Mick Jenkins and Charlotte Day Wilson, and was named BBC Radio 6’s #1 album of the year.
Live the act, which also includes keyboardist James Hill can easily shift between jazz, acid jazz, jazz fusion, hip-hop, prog rock, advant-garde jazz, funk and rock with an effortless and seamless fashion – and seemingly at will. I saw them earlier this summer at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell and they are a must see.
Preoccupations: Now throughout the past handful of years of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about Canadian post-punk act and JOVM mainstays Preoccupations, and as you may recall, the band which is comprised of Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar) initially formed under the highly controversial name Viet Cong – and as a result of their original name, the members of the band found themselves in the middle of a furious and frenzied debate around cultural appropriation and the usage of terms, names and symbols closely associated with historical groups and actions that evoke the horrors and brutality of despotism, fascism, war, genocide and so on. Ultimately, the band decided it was best to change their name before the release of their sophomore album, an effort that found each of the individual members of the band in unsteady and uncertain positions – at the time, each of the individual members of the band had relocated to different cities across North America, which forced the band to change their long-established creative process.
Unlike their previously recoded material, the band went into the writing sessions without having a central idea or theme to consider or help guide them along, essentially making the recording sessions a collective, blind leap of faith. Interestingly, the band’s sophomore, self-titled album wound up drawing from that mix of anxiety, despair and regret that creates sleepless nights. New Material, the band’s third full-length album was released earlier this year, and the album builds upon the Canadian post-punk act’s growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post-punk centered around themes of anxiety, uncertainty, futility, frustration, creation and destruction but as the band’s Matt Flegel says of the self-recorded album, the album is “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” And while the material is dark, murky and deeply introspective, the members of Preoccupations have developed a reputation for having an intense and energetic live show, which reveals the material’s anthemic nature.
Sunday, September 9
The Flaming Lips: Currently comprised of founding members Wayne Coyne (guitar, vocals) and Michael Ivins (bass), with Steven Drozd, Derek Brown, Jake Ingalls, Matt Duckworth and Nicholas Ley, the Norman, OK-based psych rock/psych pop/indie rock act The Flaming Lips formed back in 1983 with Coyne (guitar), Coyne’s brother Mark (vocals), Ivins (bass) and Dave Kotska (drums). Interestingly, after Kotska joined the band, Richard English joined the band – and that year, they recorded the only full-length album with Mark Coyne, the band’s self-titled effort.
After Mark Coyne left the band, Wayne assumed vocal duties and the and released their 1986 full-length debut Hear It Is on Pink Dust Records, a psych rock imprint of Engima Records. With that initial lineup, the band released two more albums, 1987’s Oh My Gawd!!! and 1989’s Telepathic Surgery, which was originally planned to be a 30-minute sound collage. From that point on, the band has gone through a series of lineup changes – 1989’s Dave Fridmann-produced In a Priest Driven Ambulance featured Nathan Roberts (drums) and Mercury Rev’s Johnathan Donahue (guitar), and saw the band expanding upon their sound with further experimentation with tape loops and effects, as well as Coyne making a transition to vocal style inspired by Neil Young.
Back in 1990, the members of The Flaming Lips caught the attention of Warner Brothers Records and were promptly signed when an AR rep witnessed a show in which the band almost burned down the American Legion Hall in their hometown with the use of pyrotechnics. In 1991, the members of the band started recording their major label debut Hit to Death in the Future Head, which was delayed for nearly a year because of their use of a sample from Michael Kamen’s score from the major motion picture Brazil, which had a lengthy clearance process. After the recoding of the album, Donahue left the band to focus on his work with Mercury Rev and Roberts leaving the band, citing creative differences.
Ronald Jones and Steven Drozd joined the band and with that lineup they released Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, their only full-length album in which their longtime producer and collaborator Fridmann wasn’t involved; however, because of the success of album single “She Don’t Use Jelly,” the band was featured on Beverly Hills 90210, Late Show with David Letterman,Charmedand Beavis and Butthead. Building upon a growing profile, the band went on a lengthy stint of touring opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Candlebox.
1995’s Clouds Taste Metallic was released to critical fanfare in 1995 although it didn’t achieve the same commercial success of its predecessor. In 1996, the band went through another lineup chance with the depature of Ronald Jones. The three remaining members of the band felt a growing dissatisfaction with stand rock music, led to the extremely experimental Zaireeka, a four CD album intended to be heard by playing all four CDs in four separate CD players simultaneously. Sonically, the material incorporated traditional musical elements, found sounds often manipulated by contemporary recording studio techniques and electronics.
And while their experimental efforts received, the band received mainstream success with 1999’s The Soft Bulletin, which meshed catchy melodies with synthetic strings, hypnotic and carefully manipulated beats, booming cymbals and weird but deeply philosophical lyrics. Critically, the album has been compared to The Beach Boys’ Pet Soundsas it featured the entire studio as an instrument to be manipulated. The Soft Bulletin’s critically applauded follow-up, 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots featured guest musician Yoshimi P-We and found the band incorporating the increasing use of electronics and computer manipulation – and the album is generally considered their first critical and commercially successful album after 20 years as a band; in fact, “Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)” won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, and the album was certified Gold in 2006. Since then the band has been considered one of those must-see acts, thanks in part to a show that has largely been described as a pure spectacle.
Rodgers is arguably one of the more influential and important figures of pop music and dance music of the past 40+ years, and he’s had a role on some of the most beloved albums and singles, and I gotta admit I’m looking forward to hearing all of those old Chic songs live.
Yo La Tengo: Yo La Tengo is Spanish for “I have it” — referring to a female-gendered object or person, in which it would be “I’ve got her,” but the Hoboken, NJ-based indie rock band actually derive their name from an old baseball anecdote. During the New York Mets‘ inaugural season in 1962, centerfielder Richie Ashbury and Venezuelan-born shortstop Elio Chacon found themselves colliding in the outfield. As the story goes, whenever Ashbury went for a catch, he wold scream “I’ve got it! I’ve got it!” but Chacon spoke Spanish and had a limited understanding of English. During a game later that year, Ashbury yelled “Yo la tengo! Yo la tengo!” instead and saw Chacon backing off on the play, avoiding further collisions; however, left fielder Frank Thomas, who didn’t understand Spanish and missed the team meeting that proposed using “Yo la tengo!” to avoid outfield collisions, collided into Ashburn. After getting up from their collision Thomas reportedly asked Ashburn, “What the hell is a Yellow Tango?”
As far as the band, the New Jersey-based indie rock band, which is currently comprised of founding members Ira Kaplan (guitar, piano, vocals), and Georgia Hubley (drums, piano, vocals), along with James McNew (bass, vocals) can trace their origins back to 1984. When Kaplan and Hubley formed the band, they played an advertisement to recruit other musicians, who shared their mutual love of The Soft Boys, Mission of Burma and Arthur Lee and his band Love, and as a result, the band’s first lineup featured Kaplan, Hubley, Dave Schramm (lead guitar) and Dave Rick (bass) with whom they released their debut 7 inch “The River of Water,” which featured a cover of Arthur Lee’s “A House Is Not a Motel.” After the band recorded “Private Doberman” for the Coyote Records compilation Luxury Condos Coming to Your Neighborhood Soon, the band went through a number of lineup changes before settling on their current lineup in 1992 — although the band’s original guitarist Dave Schramm joined the band during the sessions for their 14th record, Stuff Like That There.
Despite achieving limited mainstream success, Yo La Tengo have developed a reputation for being a critically applauded act while maintaining a devoted cult following, thanks in part to their live shows, which reveal an almost encyclopedic repertoire of covers — their SummerStage set last year began with a cover of Ace Frehely‘s “Back in the New York Groove“– and for their annual Hanukkah residency at Maxwell’s that featured a shit ton of covers and special guests, including their parents. Live, they manage to walk a tightrope between power and lush beauty, irony and sincerity within the turn of a phrase.
No Age: Comprised of Randy Randall (guitar) and Dean Allen Spunt (vocals, drums), the Los Angeles, CA-based noise rock duo No Age can trace their origins to the breakup of their previous band Wives, in which Spunt played bass and sang while Randall played guitar. The duo’s first official release was an extremely limited release collection of 5 vinyl singles and Eps that they released on 5 different labels on or around the same day – March 26, 2007. Designed by Brian Roettinger and the members of No Age, the back of each record’s sleeve was a different color and had a different letter that when put together spelled out the band’s name. Half of the songs on the singles and EPs wound up comprising their full-length debut Weirdo Rippers.
Since the release of Weirdo Rippers, Randall and Spunt have developed a reptaution for relentless touring, frequently playing shows at unusual locations – they once played a show at the Los Angeles River and they famously accompanied video artist Doug Aitken and Chloe Sevigny to Athens, Greece and Hydra Island, Greece to perform a multimedia piece “Black Mirror.” The performances took place on an old Greek barge at the Port of Piraeus, off the Island of Hydra and a final performance with the barge driven to the middle of the ocean. Additionally, they’ve found new and interesting ways to pair art around the release of their music – 2009’s Losing Feeling EP was released with a limited edition “Losing Feeling” companion zine; 2012’s “Collage Culture” 12 inch was a soundtrack to readings of excerpts of Aaron Rose, Mandy Kahn and Brian Roettinger’s Collage Culture, split in two channels – one side with readings from the book, the other side with No Age music written specifically for the release.
The acclaimed noise rock act is currently touring to support their latest effort Snares Like a Haircut, which was released earlier this year through Drag City Records.
Check out the full musical lineup below.
Saturday, September 8
Standing on the Corner
Sunday, September 9
The Flaming Lips
Nile Rodgers & CHIC
Yo La Tengo
Tickets are still available, please check out OctFest.co for information.
You can check out information and updates on the festival at Oct.co, and on Twitter by following @Pitchfork and @ReadOctober.
I’ll be covering the festival through my various social accounts, so feel free to check me out through the following:
Like A Version is a beloved weekly segment that airs on Australia’s leading national radio station Triple J — and the premise of the series is extremely simple: the radio station invites both national and internationally known artists to cover some of their favorite songs. Much like the AV Club’s Undercoverthe series reveals the taste and influences of their invited acts, while letting those artists cover material in whatever way they seem fit — sometimes, it’s much more straightforward and other times, the act puts their own spin on it. Either way, it’s both thought provoking and deeply entertaining. Unsurprisingly, because of the series popularity, Triple J has released a series of chart topping compilation albums, which in many ways serves as a historical document of Australian popular music.
Metropolitan Groove Merchants will be releasing the Like A Version compilation in North America on September 22, marking the first time that Americans can check out the series, and the first album features 21 unique covers from some of the world’s most renowned and beloved artists — and to celebrate the occasion, Metropolitan Groove Merchants released two of the compilation’s singles, JOVM mainstay Tame Impala performing an ethereal and cinematic rendition of Kylie Minogue‘s “Confide In Me” that manages to be a deceptively straightforward cover that also decidedly retains their dreamy psych pop sound; while blogosphere darlings CHVRCHES put a decidedly sensual and anthemic synth pop cover of Arctic Monkeys “Do I Wanna Know” that nods at Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait” and Simple Minds‘ “Don’t You Forget About Me.”
With the release of her debut EP, Where’s Your Love?, the up-and-coming, NYC-based pop artist Khodara received attention across the blogosphere for a soulful take on electro pop that according to some critics evoked the likes of Diana Ross, Kylie Minogue and Donna Summer. Building upon the buzz, she received with her debut EP, Khodara along with producer and collaborator Billy Pavone wrote and recorded material, which would eventually comprise her soon-to-be released EP Billie. And with “Anxious,” the second single off the EP, the New York-based up-and-coming pop artist along with her collaborator Billy Pavone, reveal that the EP will be comprised of slow-burning and atmospheric synth pop that to some ears has been compared to the XX and Phantogram, although to my ears I’m reminded of the likes of ACES (if they did Quiet Storm-like R&B) and others — while lyrically, the song deals with its narrator overcoming her own self-doubts and anxiousness in a very human and imperfect fashion.
Adelaide, Australia-born and Palm Springs, CA-based singer/songwriter Sia has had quite a career, as she can trace her career’s origins to when she was the vocalist in Adelaide-based acid jazz act Crisp in the mid 1990s. After the band’s breakup in 1997, Sia released her debut effort, OnlySee through Flavoured Records and relocated to London, where she provided vocals for British duo Zero 7.
Interestingly, Sia’s first taste of international stardom came in a rather unexpected fashion. She initially wrote “Titanium,” for Alicia Keys but the song wound up being sent to EDM superstar David Guetta, who included Sia’s demo vocals on the song and released it as single in 2011. The song was a massive commercial success as it peaked on the top of record charts across the US, Australia and Europe. But it was “Chandelier,” the breakout hit off her sixth, full-length effort, 1000 Forms of Fear was a commercial and critical success. The single was nominated for four Grammys last year — Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Music Video; and she nabbed several ARIA Awards and MTV Music Awards, which established the Australian-born singer/songwriter as an internationally-recognized star, in the same lines of the artists she had written for during her “retirement.”
Sia’s seventh, full-length album This Is Acting is slated for a January 29, 2016 release, and in an interview with NME, she has mentioned that the forthcoming album is much more pop-orientated than its predecessor. And interestingly enough, the album’s third and latest single “Alive” was co-written by Adele and was intended to be on Adele’s latest album 25. When you hear the song, you can actually hear Adele’s influence on the song — the piano-led introduction and the song’s soaringly anthemic hooks; however, as gorgeous as Adele’s voice is, the song just feels and sounds as though it just had to be Sia’s. Not to say that Adele hasn’t had profound experiences at a young age but lyrically, the song conveys a sense of wisdom, pride and triumph over life’s fucked up circumstances — deprivation (financial and emotional), heartache, despair, loneliness and worse. And when you hear Sia’s voice crack ever so slightly when she sings “I’m still breathing/I’m still breathing/I’m alive,” during the song’s anthemic hook, it feels like a punch right in the ribs or in the solar plexus. Of course similarly to Gloria Gaynor‘s “I Will Survive,” the song possess an infectious “you can and will get through anything/you go-girl” optimism. It’s honestly the sort of song that the women of your life will lustily yell along to while driving to or from the club.
Recently Sia announced a remix package of “Alive” that features remixes and reworks from Maya Jane Coles, AFSHeeN, Boehm, Cahill and fellow Australian, Plastic Plates. In a recent interview with The Fader, the Australian producer was asked how the “Alive” remix came about, and as he explained to the publication, “Sia and I first met in Sydney 2001. Sam Dixon and I shared an apartment in Bondi and Sia crashed at our place. Until 2010, I played drums on Sia’s albums and toured around the world in her band. This is my 3rd remix for Sia, “Cloud” in 2010, “Chandelier” in 2014 and now “Alive.”Given our musical history, reinterpreting Sia’s vocals is effortless and pure joy for me.”
Plastic Plates’ rework turns the torch burning pop song into a slickly produced synth-based club-banger as his production includes stuttering drum programming, cascading synths, wobbling and tumbling low-end, sirens and other assorted bleeps and bloops while retaining the song’s anthemic hooks and Sia’s achingly heartfelt vocals.
Best known under the moniker of MNEK, Uzo Emenike is a Grammy-nomiated British-Nigerian singer, songwriter, producer and remixer, who has worked with an incredible list of of artists including Kylie Minogue, Naughty Boy, Gorgon City, Duke […]