Tag: London UK

Victor Jansåker is an emerging Stockholm-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who writes, records and performs under the moniker Alec Baker. With a background in jazz and a deep and abiding love of hip-hop and pop, Jansåker cites Chet Baker, Tirzah and Chance the Rapper as influences on his sound and approach.

Jansåker spent the past couple of years traveling between Stockholm, London and New York, writing and recording material in bedrooms and studios. And as a result, the material on Jansåker’s full-length Alec Baker debut will evoke a much different, seemingly more careful time in which artists, creatives and everyone else could freely travel from place to place, absorbing the musical and cultural influences they came across during their travels. While circumstances have forced everyone to change, the emerging Swedish artist’s desire to connect and collaborate have remained a large part of his mission.

The emerging Stockholm-based artist’s latest single “Say What’s On Your Mind:” is a breezy pop confection, centered around thumping beats, finger snaps, twinkling synth arpeggios, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, Jansåker’s plaintive vocals, vocodered baking vocals and an infectious hook. Sonically, the song may bring Stockholm-based JOVM mainstay Summer Heart to mind; but just underneath its exuberance and playfulness, the song features melancholic lyrics that focus on the confusion and heartache of a relationship in an uncertain flux. And as a result, the song has an ironic yet deeply emotional punch if you’ve been in the sort of situation the song describes.

According to Jansåker, the song “is a result of accidents leading us in new directions, and a bit different from my previous releases. It’s an uptempo hopeful song that I had so much fun creating so I wish it can bring some thoughtfulness and joy to the listener.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Release a Meditative Single and Visual

London-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have sonically bounced between chilly and atmospheric synth pop and shimmering guitar-driven desert noir through four albums: 2012’s Creature of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures, 2016’s Dead Blue and 2018’s Slow Air.

Slated for a January 22, 2021 release through Wrecking Light Records, the London-based JOVM mainstays’ fifth album The Last Exit sonically continues where its predecessor Slow Air left off — 11 songs centered around shimmering and carefully crafted arrangements of organic instrumentation and Tessa Murray’s smoky crooning. Thematically, The Last Exit takes the listener on a hypnotic journey filled with dilapidated and abandoned towns, mysterious shapes on the horizon and long trips that blur the line between what’s there and not there. “We found something out there in the desert – something in the vast landscapes that went on forever,” Greg Hughes says in press notes.

The album was brought into further focus as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. “There’s always something at the end of the road and for us it was this album. Our plans were put on hold – an album set for release, tours, video shoots, travel,” Tessa Murray explains. “We’d been touring nonstop for years, but we were forced to pause everything. We thought the album was finished but with the crisis found new inspiration and started writing again.” Three of the album’s songs — “Crying,” “Static,” and “‘Till We Meet Again” were written during this period and they reflect upon the profound impact of isolation and the human need for social contact and intimacy.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the album’s first single, album title track “The Last Exit.” Centered around a cinematic arrangement that evokes large, indifferent skies and dusty, two-lane blacktop, the track sounded as though it could have been part of the Slow Air sessions while subtly leaning towards the direction of Ennio Morricone soundtrack. “Crying,” The Last Exit’s second and latest single, was written during pandemic-related shutdowns and quarantines. The song captures the uncertainty, boredom, loneliness, heartache and regrets of endless hours of not having anything to really do or anyplace to go — and the obsessively neurotic and anxious self-examination of those endless hours. Centered around twinkling keys, shimmering synth arpeggios, shimmering strummed guitar, haunting whistling, Murray’s plaintive and ethereal cooing and a soaring hook. “Crying” sounds like the duo seamlessly meshed the sounds of Strange Pleasures with Slow Air.

Split between footage of Still Corners’ Murray spending time playing cards, reading books and drinking tea, we see the inevitable cycling of the seasons and the immensity of our planet moving through the universe. And while things may be uncertain and frightening, there are a handful of immutable facts: change is inevitable, the season change, we change.

“The only constant in life is change, this song is about a breakup during a difficult time but it’s also about coping with a fast-moving, uncertain world. Our video shows the immense universe and inevitable change of the seasons. Everything is in flux and that’s the only thing that is certain,” Still Corners’ Tessa Murray says of the new single and accompanying video.

New Video: Brazil’s WRY Releases a Trippy Visual for Anthemic Album Single “Travel”

With the release of five full-length albums, 1998’s Direct, 2000’s Heart Experience, 2007’s Flames in the Head, 2009’s She Science and 2018’s Indie Rock Hits, the Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil-based rock quartet WRY — Mario Bross (vocals, guitar). Luciano Marcello (guitar), Ítalo Ribero (drums) and William Leonotti (bass) — have developed a sound that’s heavily influenced by Brit Pop. shoegaze and post-punk, paired with lyrics written and sung in English and Portuguese.

The members of the Sorocaba, São Paulo-based quartet also happen to be integral members of Brazil’s indie rock scene: at home, they own a popular rock club, which has frequently hosted internationally acclaimed Brazilian psych rock act, labelmates and JOVM mainstays Boogarins — and as a band, they spent several years in London, successful touring across the UK and Continental Europe, eventually making their rounds on the European festival circuit, with stops at the likes of Barcelona’s Primavera Sound.

Slated for an October 30, 2020 release through OAR, the aforementioned label home of Boogarins, WRY’s 10-song, sixth album Noites Infinitas explores themes of anxiety, despair and unconventional paths towards hope while living in our increasingly divisive world.

WRY has released three singles off their soon-to-be released sixth album, including the album’s first single, “Travel.” Centered around enormous, feedback and pedal effected guitar riffs, thunderous and propulsive drumming, a sinuous bass line and rousingly anthemic hooks “Travel” is a breakneck and energetic burst that’s one part shoegaze, one part Brit pop. Fittingly, the energetic song is paired with an upbeat and positive message about accepting yourself completely, having the strength to face the obstacles thrown in your path — and having the bravery to go on your own, unusual path.

Directed by Ricardo Camargo, the recently released video for “Travel” features WRY’s frontman in front of a series of psychedelic and kaleidoscopic backdrops, and a weird yet trippy ring light/shower head-like contraption and a plastic covering. Adding to the trippy nature of the video, is that it features series of rapid-fire cuts and edits.

With the release of 2014’s self-titled debut through Shelflife Records, the trans-national based shoegazer/dream pop act The Luxembourg Signal — currently, Beth Arzy (vocals), Betsy Moyer (vocals), Johnny Joyner (guitar), Brian Espinoza (drums), Ginny Pitchford (keys), Daniel Kumiega (bass) and Kelly Davis (guitar) — quickly attracted a loyal following while receiving overwhelmingly breathless praise for crating material centered around ethereal vocals and lush soundscapes, paired with a pop sensibility. 

The band, which features members split in LondonLos Angeles and San Diego returned to the studio with Mark Rains to write and record their upcoming third, full-length album The Long Now. Deriving its name from a phrase coined by the legendary Brian Eno, the title refers to a long-term way of perceiving time, that’s an alternative to the accelerated way we often experience our lives. Essentially, viewing our lives this way allow us to make sense of our brief and noisy time together, by understanding our place in a much larger timeline with history playing its own course. Slated for release next week through Shelflife Records and Spinout Nuggets, the 10 song album  thematically sees the trans-national septet imagining a blurred horizon that lies between light and dark and the fleeting nature of — well, everything. 

I’ve managed to write a quite a bit about the trans-national shoegazer/dream pop act over the past handful of years — and recently, I’ve written about two of The Long Now‘s released singles: the anthemic and breakneck “2:22,” a track that further cements their sound and approach — lush soundscapes paired with ethereal vocals. But a subtle bit of grime and grit gives the song an emotional wallop, which shouldn’t be surprising as the song tackles the overwhelming and confusing array of emotions that being constantly plugged in evokes. The album’s second single, the rousingly upbeat “The Morning After,” which features the band’s Betsy Moyer taking up vocal duties is a jangling, hook-driven track that thematically focuses on renewed possibilities the hopes of new beginnings. And as a result it’s a much-needed bit of hope in our dire time.

“Mourning Moon” The Long Now‘s third and latest single is a jangling and hazy shoegaze, centered around reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive drumming, breathy and ethereal harmonizing and a soaring hook. And while continuing a remarkable run of lush yet anthem material, “Mourning Moon” may arguably be one of the more brooding tracks on the album. While featuring fairly vague lyrics, the song was written to conjure memories that are often vague and highly ambivalent — in particular, fundamental disagreements with a dear friend over a history between you that can’t be unwritten. And in many ways, the friendship may be on the line.

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New Video: Rising Duo Muca & La Marquise Release a Gorgeous Animated Visual for Breezy “Blue Moon Bossa”

Muca & La Marquise is a rapidly rising London-based duo featuring Brazilian-born, London-based songwriter and producer Muca and 22-year-old vocalist La Marquise. Their debut single “London.” grabbed the attention of Roberto Menescal and Will Gompertz. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding the London-based duo, their latest single “Blue Moon Bossa” finds Muca, the act’s primary songwriter crafting a João Gilberto and Tom Jobim-inspired bossa nova — for modern times.

Featuring an armament of looping and shimmering acoustic guitar, a sinuous double bass line from Yaron Stavi, stuttering percussion and a breezy melody the track is centered around La Marquise’s achingly melancholic vocals. And at its core, is a longing for home — and a longing for a simpler time, of moonlit nights with the one you let get away . . .

As Muca explains, the track came from a desire to visit his homeland to musically reconnect with his roots. “I have a rock and blues background, but really, I’ve always had the Brazilian music hidden somewhere in me,” Muca says in press notes. “I thought it was time to bring it back to my composition. Having La Marquise singing the song is fantastic, she really grooves, and she added such a magical touch to it.

The songwriting process for “Blue Moon Bossa” was rather straight forward. “Myself and La Marquise have an excellent music connection,” Muca says. “Most of the songs we wrote were quite fast, time flew by, it was so easy. It all starts with guitars and vocals. I bring the first ideas with chord progressions on the guitar and some melodies. She then adds her notebook and begins to add lyrics and add more melodies to it. I was amazed how the track naturally developed into the Bossa Nova/Jazz style, and I’m delighted with the song and album result.”

In terms of production, Muca wanted a much more modern approach. He enlisted the assistance of São Paulo-produced drummer, percussionist and producer Bruno Buarque. “I told him and wanted a different approach for this song, using more electronic elements to this track,” Muca says. “He added some exciting Brazilian style elements, using his MPC to reproduce instruments such as cuica, bumbo, tamborin, ganza, and shakers. He recorded them in Brazil and sent me the files, I worked with the arrangements here in London.”

Animated by Ed Murray, the recently released video for “Blue Moon Bossa” is gorgeous and dream-like visual that features La Marquise as a singing moon before eventually seeing animated version of the duo playing and singing. The result is an old-fashioned view of the cosmos, complete with astrological charts. “The minute I wrote it, I knew it needed an animated music video to follow it,” Muca says of the song and its video treatment. “I had some ideas in mind and decided to contact the incredible illustrator, Ed Murray, who I am a fan of, to develop the concept. I couldn’t be happier with what he created.”

The duo are planning to release their self-titled, full-length debut in early 2021.

New Video: Acclaimed Scandinavian Soul Artist Jonas Releases a Strutting Ode to Self-Care

Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jonas (born Jonas Rendbo) has been hailed by international press as the Godfather of Scandinavian Soul throughout the course of his 20+ year music career. Renbo has managed to be remarkably prolific, releasing a ton fo his own original music, which he has supported with tours sharing stages with the likes of internationally applauded artists like Omar, John Legend, Joss Stone, Lynden David Hall and Bilal among a lengthy and growing list of others. Adding to his accolades, Rendbo won Artist of the Year and Best Video at the 2016 Scandinavian Soul Music Awards.

Since 2004, Rendbo has split time between Copenhagen and London, where he met his wife and started a family. And while in London, he started collaborating with London-based multi-instrumentalist and producer The Scratch Professor, who coincidentally is Omar’s brother. Rendbo and The Scratch Professor had an instant musical simpatico and a couple of songs they wrote together wound up on Jonas’ sophomore album 2009’s W.A.I.T.T.

Their collaboration also managed to produce a handful of songs that the Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter had kept in his vault over the past decade or so— until he released them as the four song EP EP 4ward Fast To Future. Recorded, produced, mixed and mastered during COVID-19 quarantine lockdown during April, the EP is return to the warm, neo-soul sounds of his earliest work. Earlier this year, I wrote about “Pick Me Up,” a warm, 90s neo-soul track, centered around shimmering Rhodes, boom bap-like beats, a sinuous bass line, a strutting horn line, an infectious hook and Rendbo’s sultry and plaintive falsetto. And while being a joyous, two step-inducing, radio friendly jam, the song’s narrator talks about desiring — and then having — the sort of love (and lover) that most of us dream of: that ride or die person, who’s with you and supports you through thick and thin, joy and heartbreak, sickness and health.

The EP was released to widespread praise across the blogosphere including SoulBounce.com, ScandinavianSoul.com and was a featured album on SoulTracks.com. Additionally, the EP’s material received airplay on soul music ration station across the globe. Building upon that momentum, the Danish-born singer/songwriter released teh 4ward Fast to Future (Remixes) which features remixes of some of the EP’s material by friends and musical collaborators, done inc completely different styles. But in the meantime, Renbo released the EP’s latest single, the slow-burning “What’s Cooking.” Much like it’s predecessor, the track is centered by twinkling Rhodes arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, strutting horns and Renbo’s plaintive vocals; however, the song finds its narrator wanting to simply his life and find himself in his own terms while living in a chaotic world.

Featuring video graphics and editing by Jacob Vinjegaard, the recently released video for “What’s Cooking” is shot with a grainy Instagram-like filter and follows Renbo in some intimate and trippy footage.

Born to Welsh and Polish parents in Stoke-On-Trent, the rising British singer/songwriter and guitarist Benjamin Belinska relocated to Newcastle when he turned 17. He didn’t settle in Newcastle for very long; eventually he drifted around Europe, spending stints in Glasgow, Berlin, and Paris, supporting himself through a series of menial jobs, ranging from museum cleaner to estate gardener. During that period. he wrote music on borrowed guitars and stolen notebooks, garnering praise from the French press and the BBC along the way.

While in Paris, Belinska met E.A.R. and the duo started the band Paris, Texas, which released two Kramer-produced albums before deciding to relocate to Newcastle together. Two things happened to Belinksa, which may have altered the course of his life:

“Rushing to get a connection, I left a suitcase in York station. It was never recovered. Most of the early songs disappeared,” Belinska says in press notes. “Some months later, I was walking from home work and was randomly assaulted by a gang of four in broad daylight. During the recovery, I decided to stop drifting once and for all. As a first gesture, I would record a new album.”

The new album Belinska recorded, his solo, full-length debut Lost Illusions was released earlier this year, and the album’s first single, the Palace Winter-like “Young in Baltimore” reveals a songwriter, who can pair breezy and shimmering radio friendly soft rock, earnest, lived-in songwriting and an unerring knack for crafting an infectious, pop-leaning hook. But underneath the song’s breezy radio friendliness, is an achingly bittersweet lament evoking the inevitable and unstoppable passage of time, of nostalgia for seemingly simpler times, the uneasy compromises that every adult has to make and live with, the forced upon conformity to make a living and survive.

“The song is about regret, nostalgia and conformity,” Belinska said in an email. “It was inspired by Robert Frank’s photo-book The Americans and The Magnetic Fields. I played and recorded it myself and it was mixed and mastered by Giles Barrett and Simon Trought at Soup Studio, London.

 

With the release of 2014’s self-titled debut through Shelflife Records, the trans-national based shoegazer/dream pop act The Luxembourg Signal — currently, Beth Arzy (vocals), Betsy Moyer (vocals), Johnny Joyner (guitar), Brian Espinoza (drums), Ginny Pitchford (keys), Daniel Kumiega (bass) and Kelly Davis (guitar) — quickly attracted a loyal following while receiving overwhelmingly breathless praise for crating material centered around ethereal vocals and lush soundscapes, paired with a pop sensibility. 

The band, which features members split in LondonLos Angeles and San Diego returned to the studio with Mark Rains to write and record their upcoming third, full-length album The Long Now. Deriving its name from a phrase coined by the legendary Brian Eno, the title refers to a long-term way of perceiving time, that’s an alternative to the accelerated way we often experience our lives. Essentially, viewing our lives this way allow us to make sense of our brief and noisy time together, by understanding our place in a much larger timeline with history playing its own course. The 10 song album which is slated for an October 23, 2020 release through Shelflife Records and Spinout Nuggets thematically sees the trans-national septet imagining a blurred horizon that lies between light and dark and the fleeting nature of — well, everything. 

Earlier this week, I wrote about The Long Now’s first single “2:22,” an anthemic and breakneck song that clocks in at exactly 2:22 and finds the act further cementing their sound and approach — lush soundscapes paired with ethereal vocals. However, there’s a subtle bit of grime and grit at them edges of the song, which give it an emotional wallop. Thematically, the song deals with the emotional and mental paralysis and insecurities of our digital world the evokes the overwhelming and confusion array of emotions that constantly being plugged in evokes.

The album’s second single “The Morning After” is a rousingly upbeat track, centered around jangling guitars, a propulsive rhythm section, a Pixies-like bass line and an enormous hook as the song finds the band slowly adding instruments until the song’s galloping coda. Interestingly, the album’s second single is the first single off the album to feature the band’s Betsy Moyer taking up lead vocal duties — and thematically, the upbeat track focuses on the renewed possibilities and hopes that the dawn of a new day carries; a clean slate, a new beginning. Admittedly, it’s a much-needed blast of hope and uplift when things seem so dire and so bleak. 

“The song was written shortly after the completion of the Blue Field LP and became one of the building blocks for the new LP The Long Now,” the band explains in press notes. 

 

Photo Credit: Leah Zeis

 

 

 

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New Video: Tallinn Estonia’s Lexsoul Dancemachine Release a Wild Action Movie-Inspired Visual for Swaggering “Carambola Jelly”

Formed back in 2013, the Talinn, Estonia-based funk sextet Lexsoul Dancemachine — Condor (vocals, congas), Jonas Mattius Sarapuu (keys), Kristen Kütner (keys, guitar, cowbell), Caspar Salo (drums, percussion). Jürgen Kütner (guitar) and Martin Laksberg (bass) — have developed reputation for turning venues into sweaty dance parties across Estonia and the other Baltic States with an infectious, feel good take on funk centered around thumping and propulsive bass lines, syncopated rhymes, infectious dance floor friendly grooves and soulful vocals.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Estonian funk sextet self-produced their debut effort, 2015’s Deus Lex Machina, which went on to receive praise from DJs and listeners alike — with “Beef Grinder” receiving airplay on Craig Charles’ BBC 6 and BBC 2 Funk & Soul Show and then being included on the compilation Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club Vol. 4. Building upon a rapidly growing profile. the act spent the following year extensively touring with key sets at some of the region’s biggest festivals including Talinn Music Week, Positivus, Funky Elephant and Finland’s Pori Jazz Festival.

Mid 2016 saw the release of “Coconuts,” a tropical disco-influenced, funky tune that received attention globally while topping local radio charts. And as a result of the enthusiastic response to the single internationally, the members of Lexsoul Dancemachine were encouraged and continued onward with their new sonic direction,. In 2017, the Estonian funk act went on their first UK tour, playing successful shows in London, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds with a sold-out Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club show at Band on the Wall. Further encouraged by a growing international profile, Lexsoul Dancemachine wrote and recorded their sophomore effort 2018’s Sunny Holiday in Lexico, which was released through Funk Embassy Records.

The rapidly rising Tallinn-based outfit is currently working on their third album — but in the meantime, their latest single “Carambola Jelly” is an infectious and swaggering, funky disco-tinged, club banger centered around a propulsive bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor, Nile Rodgers-like guitar and Condor’s self-assured and sultry vocals. But peel back the layers a bit, and you’ll discover a song that playfully nods at Latin funk, tropicalia, jazz, and Larry Levan house within an expansive, jammy song structure.

Directed by cult Ugandan low budget action movie director Nabwana I.G.G., the recently released video for “Carambola Jelly” is set in the slums of Kampala. While telling a Taken-like tale of a woman being abducted and her loved ones desperately searching for her, we see some surrealistic yet gorgeous moments of profound joy — in which we see people captured by the groove in the middle of action movie tropes. There’s also cameo from the band, too. Of course, the video ends with a happy ending with a romantic reunion of the video’s central couple.

New Video: The Luxembourg Signal Releases a Nostalgia Inducing Visual for Anthemic “2:22”

With the release of 2014’s self-titled debut through Shelflife Records, the trans-national based shoegazer/dream pop act The Luxembourg Signal — currently, Beth Arzy (vocals), Betsy Moyer (vocals), Johnny Joyner (guitar), Brian Espinoza (drums), Ginny Pitchford (keys), Daniel Kumiega (bass) and Kelly Davis (guitar) — quickly attracted a loyal following while receiving overwhelmingly breathless praise for crating material centered around ethereal vocals and lush soundscapes, paired with a pop sensibility.
The Luxembourg Signal’s sophomore album 2017’s Blue Field saw the band’s sound moving towards a much more developed, darker and bolder sound — perhaps as a result of the band expanding to their current lineup.

The band, which features members split in London, Los Angeles and San Diego returned to the studio with Mark Rains to write and record their upcoming third, full-length album The Long Now. Deriving its name from a phrase coined by the legendary Brian Eno, the title refers to a long-term way of perceiving time, that’s an alternative to the accelerated way we often experience our lives. Essentially, viewing our lives this way allow us to make sense of our brief and noisy time together, by understanding our place in a much larger timeline with history playing its own course. Interestingly, the 10 song album which is slated for an October 23, 2020 release through Shelflife Records and Spinout Nuggets thematically sees the trans-national septet imagining a blurred horizon that lies between light and dark and the fleeting nature of — well, everything.

The Long Now’s latest single “2:22,” which coincidentally has a runtime of 2:22 is an anthemic and breakneck song that sees the act further cementing their reputation for crafting lush soundscapes paired with ethereal vocals — but in this case, there’s a subtle bit of grit and grime at edges that gives the song an emotional punch. Thematically, the song deals with the emotional and mental paralysis and insecurities of our digital world the evokes the overwhelming and confusion array of emotions that constantly being plugged in evokes.

Fittingly, the recently released video for “2.22” is a necessary dose of nostalgia as we follow the members of the The Luxembourg Signal hanging out in Brighton and various other locales, rushing off to tour stops with gear in tow via train, bus and car. Throughout, there are very small, very human moments of going places with with dear friends, playing music and just being here now. And in light of our lives during this pandemic, it’s those small moments — like of sharing a bottle of beer with new friends in Montreal, of dancing with strangers at shows and nightclubs, of exploring some new place as a stranger and so much more that I miss so very much.