Last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based post-punk act Sextile, and as you may recall since the act’s inception in 2015, they’ve earned a devout following, as a result of an explosive live show and non-stop touring as both as an opener and as a headliner with the likes of A Place to Bury Strangers, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, The Soft Moon, Ought, ADULT., The Chameleons, Modern English and others. Adding to a growing profile, they’ve also played sets at Bersekertown, Cloak & Dagger and Levitation Festivals.
Interestingly, over that same year period, the act has gone through a massive lineup change that finds the act writing, recording and performing as a duo featuring Brady Keehn and Melissa Scaduto. Naturally, as a result of the lineup changes, Kehn and Scaduto have radically reinvented their sound with a move towards synths with minimal use of guitar; in fact, on their recently released EP, EP3, the duo use a KORG MS-10 sequencer, a Fender Stratocaster, a LinnDrum and various other percussion-based instruments to craft a decidedly industrial synth-based sound. Additionally, the duo cite futurist Luigi Russolo’s The Art of Noises as an influence on their approach, as their sound and songwriting is meant to evoke and mirror the chaos and brutality of the industrial era. EP single “Spun” was centered around explosive squealing bursts of guitar, scorching synths, thumping beats, industrial clang and clatter and a motorik-ike groove, and it some way the song found the band meshing the aesthetics of Gang of Four and classic DFA Records (i.e., early LCD Soundsystem and Echoes-era The Rapture) while hinting a bit at Bay City Rollers‘ “Saturday Night,” thanks to its punchily delivered vocals. “Disco,” EP 3’s latest single may argaubly be the most dance floor friendly song they’ve ever released as it sonically brings Yaz’s “Situation,” New Order’s “Blue Monday” and Ministry to mind, as it’s centered around a production of layers arpeggiated synths, industrial clang and clatter and a motorik groove — but lyrically, as the duo note,t he song’s lyrics focus on the lack of time to do anything productive or constructive, DIY spaces being shut down, gun control and constant media propaganda in a way that evokes our increasingly cynical, paranoid and uncertain world. Civilization as we know it is collapsing before our eyes, and we might as well dance, dance, dance, dance, dance.
Keehn and Scaduto directed the video and as they mention in press notes, visually and aesthetically, the slickly shot black and white treatment was deeply influenced by the New German Wave.
The duo of Kehn and Scaduto will be on a lengthy tour to support their new EP. Check out the tour dates below. .
09.14 Newcastle, UK @ Underground
09.15 Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
09.16 Birmingham, UK @ The Cuban Embassy
09.18 London, UK @ Electrowerkz
09.19 Brighton, UK @ The Hope & Ruin
09.20 Portsmouth, UK @ The Edge Of The Wedge
09.21 Le Havre, FR @ Mc Daids
09.22 Angers, FR @ Levitation Festival
09.23 Lyon, FR @ Le Farmer
09.24 Limoges, FR @ El doggo
09.25 Landgraaf, NL @ Oefenbunker
09.26 Antwerp, BE @ TRIX
09.27 Paris, FR @ La Station
09.28 Hamburg, DE @ Karatekeller
09.29 Berlin, DE @ Urban Spree
10.02 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall ~
10.03 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall ~
10.12 – 14 Moreno Valley, CA @ Desert Daze
Since their formation in 1995, the Ghent, Belgium-based electro pop/electronic music production and artist act Soulwax, currently comprised of brothers and founding members David Dewaele and Stephen Dewaele, and Stefaan Van Leuvan have developed a reputation for continently pushing the boundaries of their music and creativity into new, innovative territory: along with Soulwax, the Dewaele Brothers tour as DJ duo 2manydjs, own and operate DEEWEE Records and DEEWEE Studios, are the founders of Radio Soulwax, a visual radio station and app, have collaborated with DFA Records‘ and LCD Soundsystem‘s James Murphy in the Despacio project. They’ve also remixed the work of LCD Soundsystem, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jagwar Ma, Warpaint, Tame Impala, Metronomy, Arcade Fire, Daft Punk, Gossip, Hot Chip, MGMT, and others.
Last year, BBC Radio 1 approached the acclaimed electronic music act about doing an Essential Mix, and as the Dewaele Brothers joke in press notes, “When we were approached to make an Essential Mix for the BBC in May 2017, we chose to do what every sane human being would do, we decided to lock ourselves into our studio for two weeks and make an hour of new music based around the word ‘Essential’, instead of preparing a mix of already existing music.” Interestingly enough, the Belgian electronic music act the first to ever submit an entire hour’s worth of original material for a BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix. “It felt like a challenge,” the members of Soulwax explain in press notes, “and something no one had done. We loved the challenge of releasing a full record live on a radio show without people having any advance notice, and we always wanted to release it on DEEWEE after it was aired on Radio 1.”
Essential, the Belgian electronic act’s latest album is slated for a June 22, 2018 release, and the album, which was recorded in two weeks at their DEEWEE Studio finds the duo using the gear that they didn’t use for their celebrated From Deewee, an album that was recorded live and in one take. Each of album’s 12 tracks is centered around and titled with Essential — “Essential One” through “Essential Twelve,” and the album’s latest single “Essential Three” features a slick, club-banging, house music-like production consisting of thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, arpeggiated synths, a Kraftwerk-like motorik groove, some industrial clang and clatter and a sultry vocal sample. The track reveals an act that can manage slick, hyper-modern productions with a sweaty and soulful sultriness.
Pollens is a New York-based art pop/dance pop duo, Jeff and Elizabeth, and the act can trace its origins to when Jeff and Elizabeth met while working on a short, anachronistic opera-like project. Shortly after, they worked on a song cycle focused on the specifics of being human, social anxiety and social media — i.e. receiving Facebook birthday reminders from dead people, and so on. Since their formation they’ve released two EPs’ 83 and Mister Manufacture, and as the duo explains in press notes, the material is about being around people, checking your phone, being high in the city, Googling conspiracies and conspiracy theories and making summer mistakes among other things; but from the perspective of newcomers to New York, who are equally in awe of their surroundings, terrified and absolutely confused by — well, everything around them.
Apart from that, their sound, as you’ll hear on their latest single “$$$_PSA” is centered around layers of percussion, arpeggiated synths, electronic noise, chopped up samples, bright and ethereal melodies, and shouted non-sequiturs. It’s unique and pretty fucking weird while being simultaneously dance floor friendly in a way that brings to mind The B52s, DEVO, Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem, but with a neurotic energy that feels as though its creators were bouncing off the wall. As the duo’s Jeff Aaron Bryant admits, “Our songs aren’t about anything . . . that’s a promise. For this one, ‘$$$_PSA, we’ve got a few flavors of moneyed people — their entitlement, the space they’re taking up on the train, their shoes and conversations, and every so often, we hear someone else making an announcement. Really, that’s it . . .”
When asked to explain more about the song, Bryant instead talks about his obsession with announcements. “I love announcements- anything anyone says over an intercom or public address system. I love how announcements are always inescapably loud or barely audible. And I love how announcements have their own music that’s specific to the information that’s being announced- like on an airplane, no one ever says “be careful opening the overhead bins” they always say “do use caution while opening the overhead storage compartments”. The word ‘Do’ is extra and weird sounding but always pitched higher than the rest of the sentence even though ‘caution’ is the important part. And whatever, an announcement is just some regular person reading from a script, but for a few moments, the microphone literally elevates their voice and they join with the authority, the public interest, the rules and safety… sales become sales events, customers become following guests, clerks become the next available customer service representative.”
Deriving their name from the Fujiya brand of record players and the famous character Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid, the Brighton, UK-based indie act Fujiya & Miyagi, currently comprised of founding members David Best (vocals, guitar) and Stephen Lewis (synths, vocals), along with Ed Chivers (drums), Ben Adamo (bass, vocals) and Ben Farestuedt (bass, vocals) formed in 2000, and since their formation they’ve released a handful of EPs, including a 2016 triptych of EP releases that were designed to all slot into one record sleeve and seven full-length albums — 2002’s Electro Karaoke in the Negative Style, 2006’s Transparent Things, 2008’s Lightbulbs, 2011’s Ventriloquizing, 2014’s Artificial Sweeteners, 2017’s self-titled and Different Blades from the Same Pair of Scissors.
The first few years after their formation were spent in relative obscurity; however, their profile began to expand between 2003 and 2006 as they received praise from NME and Pitchfork. Adding to a growing profile during that period, the British act were featured in an episode of MTV2′s documentary series This is Our Music, while “Uh” was featured in an episode of Breaking Bad and an episode of the British sci-fi series Misfits. “Collarbone” was featured on an episode of the American adaptation of British teen drama Skins while “Vagaries of Fashion” was featured on an episode of How To Get Away With Murder.
Interestingly, the members of the Fuyija & Miyagi decided that it was time to revisit their breakthrough 2006 effort Transparent Things and re-issue it on vinyl. As the band’s David Best explains in press notes, “We’ve always regretted not putting it out on vinyl, so over ten years later, it seemed like a good opportunity to correct that. We have explored different ways of making music since its initial release but it remains the album that defines our aesthetic in many ways.” Taking its name from Vladimir Nabokov’s Transparent Things, the album is actually a compilation of their previous standalone singles into one thorough collection — and in a critical sense, the album was part of its zeitgeist while simultaneously looking a bit deeper and further, as the album’s material nodded at krautrock but was also incredibly dance floor friendly. The band will be on a Stateside tour to celebrate the vinyl reissue of Transparent Things that will include a March 31, 2018 stop at Elsewhere.
In the meantime, the British act has released a strutting and funky new single “Subliminal Cuts” that was reportedly inspired by Columbo — and sonically, the track nods at classic disco and LCD Soundsystem-era dance punk as shimmering and arpeggiated synths are paired with a sinuous bass line and some of the most infectious hooks I’ve heard this year; but underneath the self-assured swagger expected of old pros, who know what they’re doing is a sly, self-aware sense of humor paired with an intriguing sense of mystery.
Fri 30th Mar Philadelphia PA Johnny Brenda’s
Sat 31st Mar New York NY Elsewhere
Sun 1st April Washington DC U Street Music Hall
Tue 3rd April Chicago IL Lincoln Music Hall
Wed 4th Apr Seattle WA Chop Suey
Thu 5th Apr Oakland CA New Parish
Fri 6th Apr Los Angeles CA Union (Jewels)
Over the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the Paris, France-based electronic music producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist, Behad Netjabakshe, best known in electronic music circles as Uppermost. And as you may recall, the French producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist has developed an internationally recognized profile with the release of material through renowned labels like Sony BMG, Ministry of Sound, BugEyed Records, Starlight Records and his own Uppwind Records; in fact, singles like “Equivocal” landed at #3 back in 2009 and his Biscuit Factory EP landed at #1 on the JunoDownload electro-house charts. Additionally, Netjabakshe has received attention for his remixes of Daft Punk, deadmau5, Burial, Crystal Castles, Jonathan Coulton, Syl Johnson, Congorock and others — and he’s had his work playlist by a number of superstar producers and artists including Tiesto, Armin van Buren and Steve Angello.
Las year, saw the release of Origins 2011-2016, a comprehensive compilation that featured ed some of Netjabakshe’s most popular tunes, including “Flashback,” “Beautiful Light,” “Reminder” and “Mistakes,” as well as new, original material including the shimmering and anthemic M83-channeling singles “Thousand Colors,” and “Emotion,” the Pink Floyd-channeling, cinematic “Reminder,” the 45:33 and Sound of Silver-era LCD Soundsystem-leaning “Alive,” and a lush, cinematic rendition of “Constellation” performed with members of the Paris Symphonic Orchestra. Origins 2011-2016‘s highly anticipated follow up, Perseverance officially dropped today, and the album reportedly features some the most personal and impassioned material Netjabakshe has released to date while collaborating with vocalists with backgrounds in folk, hip-hop and pop.
Last month, I wrote about the album track “Atoms,” a collaboration with Birsen that paired her gossamer-crooning with arpeggiated analog synths, a motorik-like groove and an infectious hook — and while being both dance floor and radio friendly, the song possessed an aching humanity, as it pointed out humanity’s vulnerability and smallness in an incomprehensibly immense universe. Building upon the buzz around the album, the French producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist released the album’s latest single, the swaggering “Perseverance,” a collaboration with singer/songwriter Harry Pane, that pairs Pane’s soulful vocals with an ominously thumping production consisting of twitter and woofer rocking beats and arpeggiated synths and an anthemic hook; but despite the seemingly ominous vibes, the song is actually extremely uplifting, as it features lyrics that focus on determination, dedication and — well yeah, perseverance in the face of life’s obstacles.
Directed by Joseph B. Carlin, the recently released video, which features live action and animation follows as a frustrated yet determined painter (Sebastian Iturria) through both his daily routine, commuting to his cramped studio. Despite the fact that throughout most of the video, it’s implied that Iturria’s painter is extremely talented, he’s in the middle of a creative rut in which he either feels uninspired or everything he tries to create feels uninspired before a deep dive into the artist’s bright and Dada-eqsue inner world.