Tag: London UK

Theodore is a critically applauded, Athens, Greece-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and composer, whose schooling in piano and traditional Greek folk music eventually led to a professional music career in London, where he studied Music Composition in 2011. As a composer and singer/songwriter, Theodore meshes classical compositions and arrangements with subtle electronic production and rock instrumentation to create a sound that’s atmospheric, cinematic that nods at psych rock, prog rock and experimental rock — and it shouldn’t be surprising that the Greek composer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist cites Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Manos Hadjidakis, Vangelis Papathanasiou, Nils Frahm, The National, Olafur Arnalds and Max Richter as being major influences on his work and sound. “I like a composer or a band because when I listen to the music or attend a concert I am just getting lost in the atmosphere,” Theodore explains in press notes. “I understand that orchestral music is something that I am really into and I will try to test my self in the future.”

Theodore has written compositions for Matina Megla’s Window, Vladan Nikolic’s film Bourek and he was commissioned to write a new, live score for Buster Keaton’s classic, 1928 silent comedy The Cameraman, which he and his band performed during  a screening at the Temple of Zeus. But interestingly enough, his sophomore album It Is But It’s Not, which was performed live at London’s Abbey Road Studio 2 has been his breakthrough effort as the accompanying performance video has amassed more than 2 million YouTube views — and as a result, the Greek composer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has played sets at some of the world’s biggest festivals, including Reeperhbahn Festival, Eurosonic Nooderslag, Release Festival and SXSW. Adding to a growing profile, he has opened for Sigur Ros and DIIV, and has received praise from a number of major media outlets, including Clash Magazine, Music WeekTsugi, FGUK, Gaffa and Szene, as well as airplay from BBC Radio 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne. Oh, and I must add that “Towards (for what is to come)” is currently playlisted on NPR’s All Songs 24/7 and Germany’s Flux Passport Approved.

Theodore’s third, full-length album Inner Dynamics is slated for a November 2, 2018 release and the album finds him thematically looking inward to examine the dichotomies (and dualities) of his identity in order to seek new creative potential. “On It Is But It’s Not, I tried to explore how the opposite elements in the universe interact, how they fight and how without the one you can’t have the other.” Theodore says, adding, “For Inner Dynamics, I was trying to express my urge to connect the conscious and subconscious part of myself so I can be creative. It’s an understanding that humans are not just one thing, and they shouldn’t try to hide certain elements of their personality because society likes to put labels of who we are. It’s the different sides of my self that makes who I am.” Inner Dynamics‘ third and latest single “Disorientation” clocks in at a little over 6 minutes, and it finds Theodore’s sound nodding at dramatic film scores, Kid A and Amnesiac-era Radiohead-like atmospherics, Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and Rush-like prog rock expansiveness, centered around Theodore’s yearning vocals and slick production.

 

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New Audio: London’s White Lies Releases a Moody and Epic New Single from Forthcoming Album

Slated for a February 1, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings, the acclaimed London-based indie trio White Lies, comprised of Harry McVeigh (lead vocals, guitar), Charles Cave (bass, backing vocals) and Jack Lawrence-Brown (drums) will be marking their tenth anniversary as a band — and interestingly, the album reportedly finds the band pushing their sound and aesthetic in new directions with the addition of personal, and at times deeply intimate lyrics written by the band’s Charles Cave. Unlike the preceding albums, the writing and recording process was a Transatlantic one that included a trip to Los Angeles, where they worked on new material with Ed Bueller, who produced the band’s chart-topping debut To Lose My Life and their third album Big TV. Throughout the process, the band enlisted past associates and collaborators to assist on the proceedings including engineer James Brown, who has worked with Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters; the renowned producer Flood, who contributes synths and keys on a couple of tracks; and Grammy Award-winning Alan Moulder, who has worked with Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and The Killers to mix the album. 

Clocking in at a little over 7 and a half minutes, the album’s latest single “Time to Give” may arguably be among the most ambitious songs the band has released, as the track is centered around a lush yet moody arrangement of shimmering synths, a sinuous bass line that’s part of a propulsive, motorik groove and soaring, arena rock-friendly hooks paired with McVeigh’s sonorous baritone. And while nodding a bit at Snow Patrol and others, the song seems to focus on a dysfunctional and abusive relationship from a real an lived-in place; in fact, it’s so real that as a result, the song bristles with bitterness, confusion and hurt. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Beach House Releases Trippy Visuals for Mediative Album Single “Drunk in LA”

Throughout a significant portion of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about Baltimore-based JOVM mainstays  Beach House, and as you may recall, the duo which is comprised of founding and primary members  Victoria Legrand (organ, vocals) and Alex Scally (guitar, vocals) have released a number of critically and commercially successful albums, including 2015’s Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, which were written and recorded within a two-and-a-half year period between 2012-2014.
7, the Baltimore-based indie rock’s seventh full-length album was released earlier this year through Sub Pop Records in North America, Bella Union Records in Europe and Mistletone Records in Australia and New Zealand, and the recording sessions found the band working with  Spacemen 3‘s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Peter Kember) as a producer — but not in the traditional sense, as he helped the band in their attempts to start anew by shedding conventions and ensuring that the album’s material would be fresh, alive and protected from the tendency of overproduction and perfectionism.  The album also features the band’s most recent live drummer James Barone, who as the duo say in press notes, helped “keep rhythm at the center of a lot of these songs.”

“Throughout the process of recording 7, our goal was rebirth and rejuvenation. We wanted to rethink old methods and shed some self-imposed limitations. In the past, we often limited our writing to parts that we could perform live,” Legrand and Scally explain. “On 7, we decided to follow whatever came naturally. As a result, there are some songs with no guitar, and some without keyboard. There are songs with layers and production that we could never recreate live, and that is exciting to us. Basically, we let our creative moods, instead of instrumentation, dictate the album’s feel.

“In the past, the economics of recording have dictated that we write for a year, go to the studio, and record the entire record as quickly as possible. We have always hated this because by the time the recording happens, a certain excitement about older songs has often been lost. This time, we built a ‘home’ studio, and began all of the songs there.  Whenever we had a group of 3-4 songs that we were excited about, we would go to a ‘proper’ recording studio and finish recording them there. This way, the amount of time between the original idea and the finished song was pretty short.”

As the act admits, the societal sense of instability, uncertainty and chaos was deeply influential on the album’s material. “Looking back, there is quite a bit of chaos happening in these songs, and a pervasive dark field that we had little control over. The discussions surrounding women’s issues were a constant source of inspiration and questioning. The energy, lyrics and moods of much of this record grew from ruminations on the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present.” They go on to say that in a general sense, “we are interested by the human mind’s (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny.”

So far, Beach House has released a handful of singles off the album — “Lemon Glow,” a jangling and atmospheric track centered around Legrand’s ethereal vocals; the shoegazer-like “Dive,” one of the most expansive and ambitious tracks they’ve released; “Dark Spring,” a shoegazer-like single featuring woozy power chords, twinkling keys and a soaring hook; and “Black Car,” which found the duo gently pushing their sound away from their known formula as it was centered around arpeggiated and atmospheric synths.  Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Drunk in LA” differs from the video version, as Kember remixed the song for the video, making the focus of the slow-burning and meditative poem-like song Legrand’s ethereal vocals and the arpeggiated synths, which as the duo says highlights the lonesome quality of the song — but it also evokes the sort of lonely regret that comes about late at night, when you’re left to contemplate the events of your life. 

As the duo say of the video treatment, “While mixing the record with Alan Moulder in London, we were out having dinner and Pete mentioned an idea for a video where the viewer is always looking up from the ground. This became the ‘Drunk in LA’ video. When he sent it to us, we complimented and commented on the trippy, dreamlike nature of the video and he wrote that it was essentially just a day in his life.”
 

New Audio: Acclaimed Duo Silk City Team Up with Dua Lipa on a Sultry Classic Chicago House-Inspired Banger

Born Thomas Wesley Pentz, Diplo is a prolific and acclaimed Los Angeles-based producer, DJ and electronic music artist. As a solo artist, he’s managed to see a fair degree of commercial success with 2013’s Revolution EP, which debuted at #68 on the US Billboard 200 — and the EP’s title track was later featured in a Hyundai ad campaign and on the WWE 2K16 soundtrack. Diplo is also known as the co-founder and lead member of the electronic dancehall project Major Lazer, and one-half of electronic music production and artist duo Jack U with Skrillex. And as a producer, the Los Angeles-based producer, DJ and electronic music artist has collaborated with M.I.A., Gwen Stefani, Die Antwoord, Britney Spears, Madonna, Shakira, Beyonce, No Doubt, Justin Bieber, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Trippie Redd, Chris Brown, CL, and G-Dragon. 

Mark Ronson is a London-born and-based multi-instrumentalist, DJ, singer/songwriter and producer and although his debut effort, 2003’s Here Comes the Fuzz failed to make the charts, his sophomore effort, 2007’s Version landed at number 2 on the UK charts, thanks to the fact that the album had three Top 10 singles — and as a result, he won a Brit Award for Best British Male Solo Artist. Building upon a growing profile, 2010’s Record Collection peaked at #2 on the UK Charts.

Ronson also won Grammy Awards for Producer of the Year, Non Classical, Best Pop Album and Record of the Year for his work on Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and Back to Black. He also produced “Cold Shoulder,” off Adele’s critically applauded and commercially successful debut 19. And unless you’ve been living in a remote Tibetan monastery in the Himalayas, Ronson’s first UK and US #1 single was his collaboration with Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk,” and as a result of the single’s massive commercial success, Ronson won the Brit Award for British Single of the Year, as well as Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. The London-born and-based producer, DJ, multi-instrumetanlist and singer/songwriter’s fourth full-length album Uptown Special was his first #1 album in the UK and peaked at #5.

Ronson’s and Diplo’s collaboration together Silk City can trace its origins to the duo’s long-time friendship, a friendship that dates back to the early 2000s. Their debut single “Only Can Get Better,” featuring Daniel Merriweather was released earlier this year, ahead of their Governor’s Ball set, and they’ve already made several other appearances across the international festival circuit with sets at Bestival and Treasure Island Music Festival among others.  The duo’s second single “Feel About You,” a collaboration with Mapei was a slickly produced and soulful track with arpeggiated synths that subtly nods at Robin S’s “Show Me Love” — but with a clean, hyper modern sheen. The acclaimed duo’s latest single “Electricity” find them collaborating with multi-Brit Award-winning Albanian-British singer/songwriter and model Dua Lipa, and The xx’s Romy Madley-Croft and Diana Gordon, who co-wrote and contributed lyrics and melodies, and much like it’s predecessors, “Electricity” is a slickly produced, anthemic banger. However, the piano-led, hook-driven track draws from classic Chicago house, complete with an irresistible sensual ecstasy at its core.

Directed by production duo Bradley and Pablo, the recently released video for “Electricity” is set during the Blackout of 2003 and stars Dua Lipa, who hosts a loft party that contains so much sexual energy that it keeps the lights on in the apartment. Of course, two of the guests — guess who, y’all? — wind up being stuck in an elevator and completely missing the party. 
 

Earlier this month, I wrote about the up-and-coming  London-based, up-and-coming shoegaze quintet Cosmic Strip, and as you may recall, the band, which is fronted by  primary songwriter and creative mastermind, Camella Agabalyan, has described their work as “music to watch girls by, music to move the stars,” and with EP title track “Heavenly,” off the band’s recently released debut EP, the band seems to specialize in shimmering and soaring shoegaze that brought Wolf Alice and Lightfoils to my mind.  The EP’s latest single “Sugar Rush” is a decidedly 120 Minutes MTV-era bit of shoegaze, centered around squalling and towering feedback, shimmering guitar chords, ethereal vocals, soaring hooks and an alternating quiet, loud, quiet song structure that immediately brings Slowdive and A Storm in Heaven-era The Verve to mind, complete with a lysergic haze.

“I wanted to write a song about the feeling of addiction whether it’s sugar, love, a drug, whatever your vice is”, Camella Agbalyan says in press notes about the new single. “I personally really connect to dreamy, druggy songs like Air, My Bloody Valentine, Beach Fossils, Slowdive, The Jesus & The Mary Chain, etc., so I wanted to inspire myself from that feeling but also show the darker side of addiction that you might not always get from those types of songs”.

Comprised of an American, an Englishman and two Swedes, the members of FEWS relocated from London to Malmo, Sweden, where they unearthed its creative underbelly while internalizing the impact and influence of their new surroundings — and they immediately began working on the much-anticipated follow up to 2016’s full-length debut Means.  Interestingly, the band’s latest single “Business Man,” which will be released by Play It Again Sam, follows a self-imposed hiatus of sorts, one that had seen them writing and demoing new material, using the local studio of producer and friend Joakim Lindberg, while quietly returning to the UK to play a handful of well-received shows in London and Brighton. 

Sonically speaking, the explosive song is centered around twinkling Wurtlizer, slashing guitar and bass chords, feedback and distortion, thundering rhythms that fall and tumble around the mix and punchily delivered vocals — and while clearly drawing from Gang of Four, Wire, and Disappears, the song captures the modern day frustration of being caught up in the unending rat race, pointlessly striving for money to buy more shit that you really don’t want, and yet you can’t figure out how to get out the trap. Interestingly, as the band explains, the song “. . . is about people who realise they nee to shape up, get a haircut and suit, and work their asses off trying to please the boss. After a few years, burnout and the realization that the system is completely screwed, sees them lose their shit during the weekends before returning to the conveyor belt of conformity, trudging through the same bullshit week after week . . .”

Comprised of singer/songwriter Aluna Francis and producer George Reid, the renowned London-based electronic music duo AlunaGeorge can trace their origins back to 2009 when Reid remixed My Toys Like Me‘s  “Sweetheart“. And since their official formation in 2012, the duo have developed a reputation for a sound that slickly meshes 90s and 00s R&B, synth pop, house music and EDM inspired by the likes of Flying Lotus, Chris Clark, Hudson Mohawke, Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah and Mariah Carey among others.

The duo has spent most of the past year working on new material — but in the meantime, AlunaGeorge’s Aluna Francis teamed up with young, up-and-coming Liverpool-based electronic music producer, songwriter and electronic music artist SG Lewis on the house music club banger “Hurting,” a track centered around shimmering arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and Francis’ sultry vocals singing about the raw, sexual yearnings of the post-breakup blues. Sonically speaking, the song is a slick and modern take on the classic house music sound, while revealing a careful attention to craft.

As Lewis says of the track, “Aluna and I met for the first time in LA earlier this year, and I was talking to her about the album concept, and in particular, Dark. Aluna has been a part of so many dance records that I love, so I knew I wanted to make a club track with her! After we ate burritos and hung out, we made ‘Hurting’ super quickly – the whole process was super natural between the two of us, and she has such an amazing ear for production.”

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New Video: JOVM’s Newest Mainstay Million Miles Finds Herself in a “Girl-Meets-Boy” Driven Love Triangle in Visuals for Sultry Single “Honey”

Over the past year or so, I’ve written a bit about Paris-born, London-based singer/songwriter Sophie Baudry, whose solo recording project Million Miles is the culmination of a life-long love affair with soul music. After completing her studies at  Berklee College and a stint as a recording engineer and studio musician in New York, Baudry returned home to London, where she felt an irresistible pull to write and record her own original music, largely inspired by Ray Charles and Bill Withers.

Now, as the story goes, on a whim Baudry took a trip to Nashville, where she spent her first few days wandering, exploring and reaching out to strangers, as though she were saying “I ’m new here. I’m a songwriter and I’m looking for like-minded people to collaborate with.” While in Nashville, the French-born, British-based singer/songwriter wound up having chance meetings with two local songwriters and producers Robin Eaton and Paul Eberson and within about an hour or so of their meeting, they began writing the material that eventually became Baudry’s Million Miles’ debut EP Berry Hill, which was recorded over the course of a year during multiple sessions at Robin Eaton’s home studio in the Berry Hill neighborhood of Nashville. And from EP singles “Can’t Get Around A Broken Heart” and “Love Like Yours,” Baudry quickly received attention across the blogosphere, as well as this site, for an easy-going yet deliberately crafted, Sunday afternoon, Soul Train-like soul that nodded equally at the aforementioned Bill Withers and Erykah Badu and Jill Scott.

Earlier this summer, I wrote about the folksy and effortlessly soulful “If Only,” a hook-driven song centered around a loose, jam-like arrangement of funky, Bill Withers-ike strummed guitar, twinkling keys and gentle yet propulsive drumming and a funky bass line. While evoking the swooning pangs of meet-cute first love, the song is actually from the perspective of a narrator, who’s over it in some way, and too busy to care one way or the other — or so she tells herself. Baudry’s highly-anticiapted sophomore EP is slated for a November release through AntiFragile Music, and her latest single “Honey” is the first official single off the forthcoming EP,  and the song is arguably one of the sultriest and most soulful tracks the French-born, British-based singer/songwriter has released to date — and while still drawing from Still Bill-era Bill Withers, the track reveals an artist, who has become increasingly self-assured in her songwriting and approach, but maintaining a lived in, emotional honesty that’s rare for most contemporary pop. As Baudry explains in press notes, the song is “about unconditional love and dedication to someone, who isn’t very interested in committing in any way. In this kind of situation, no matter what, if you’re in love, you’re in love, and you’d do everything and anything to make it work, even if it means doing crazy things and losing yourself . . . ”

Directed by Tom Ewbank, the recently released video is set in an old-fashioned American diner, where Baudry works as a waitress. The video finds its protagonist caught in an unwanted love triangle, as she falls for an attractive customer, who isn’t all that interested in committing or doing much of anything. Throughout the video, Baudry self-assuredly seems to tell her love interest “look, fool, I’m dope and you need to recognize.”

New Video: Up-and-Coming Singer/Songwriter Minke Releases Intimate and Cinematic Visuals for Soaring Single “Maybe 25”

With the release of her first two singles “Gold Angel” and “Armour,” the London-born and-based based singer/songwriter and musician Minke (pronounced as to rhyme with the word “link”) quickly became a buzz-worthy artist: “Gold Angel” received airplay on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 Radio show, was featured on Spotify‘s New Music Fridayand Pop Rising playlists and was a Hype Machine#1  — within a two week period. The track also received praise from the The Line of Best Fit for its “elements of pop, rock, soul and R&B,” and “guitar riffs, mingled with understated vocals like curls of smoke in a darkened bar.” Building upon a growing profile, the up-and-coming London-born and-based singer/songwriter and musician released “Armour” to praise from Billboard, who said the song was “a female empowerment anthem about letting go of your defenses and learning how to be vulnerable, especially with those closest to you.”

Minke’s latest single “Maybe 25” was co-written by the up-and-coming British artist and her producer Rory Andrew and the single which pairs Minke’s tender, ethereal and yearning vocals with twinkling piano, reverb drenched guitar chords, thumping beats, brief bits of industrial clang and clatter, and a soaring hook within a song that to my ears makes sonic nods to Adele and London Grammar but with a self assured, effortless yet soulful quality. Interestingly as Minke explains in press notes, the track was written about the emptiness and frustrations of online dating, and the hold technology has over us. “As I started to write, it became less and less about that, and more a general observation on connection. We’ve never been more connected by disconnected at the same time. It’s made us more insular, less open to having a conversation with a stranger and maintaining eye contact for more than a second without looking at your phone. So it’s about longing about something more than that, whatever that is. Something real in a seemingly disposable world. Questioning if that’s still possible. Questioning if it’s got the better of you.”

The up-and-coming British artist is currently working on her debut EP, which is slated for a Fall release, and there are plans for a North American tour to support it but before that I think we’ll be hearing quite a bit more from her; in fact, the recently released video, which was directed by Tess Elliot Harrison features the up-and-coming British singer/songwriter in the desert in the eerie isolation of the desert — and as a result it further emphasizes both the disconnection and longing at the song’s core. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Return with Film Noir-Influenced Visuals for Moody Album Single “The Message”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written about the  London-based duo and JOVM mainstays Still Corners, and as you may recall, the British duo comprised of vocalist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes have developed a reputation for crafting incredibly atmospheric and moody dream pop/synth pop centered around Murray’s smoky vocals and shimmering atmospherics.

The band’s fourth album Slow Air is slated for release later this week through the duo’s Wrecking Light label, and the album derives its name from the sultry summer days and nights they experienced during their time in Austin, TX, where they had written the album. Reportedly, Slow Air is a bit of a return to early form for Murray and Hughes, as the material learn towards arrangements that emphasize electric and acoustic guitars, live drumming and a minimal use of synthesizers.

Recorded in a new studio designed by Hughes, the recorded sessions inspired a minimalist and fluid approach in which they used a variety of old and new microphones while making sure that they didn’t overthink the entire process as is the tendency of modern recording; in fact, they managed to keep the mistakes they recorded on the album, so as to remind the listener of the fact that living, breathing, feeling and imperfect humans made it,  while also ensuring that the important thing was the material’s emotionality.

Murray and Hughes recorded and mixed the album in three months, the fastest they’ve ever done so far, and from albums single “Black Lagoon,” and “The Photograph,” the duo managed to retain the shimmering and moody atmospherics they’ve long been known for but paired with a previously unheard urgency. As Tessa Murray says of the album in press notes, “we wanted to hear beautiful guitar and drums and an otherworldliness, something about indefinable, along with a classic songwriting vibe. We’re always trying to get the sound we hear inside of ourselves, so we moved fast to avoid our brains getting in the way too much. The name Slow Air evokes the feel of the album to me, steady, eerie and beautiful.”

The album’s latest single “The Message” possess a film noir-ish vibe while drawing a bit from classic Sun Records recordings and 50s and 60s country as the song is centered around Murray’s ethereal vocals, a simple but propulsive backbeat and clean, shimmering guitars — and while meant to evoke late night, lonely highways the song as the duo explains is about “leaving someone and telling them on voicemail.”

Filmed and directed by the duo, the recently released video for “The Message” continues a run of incredibly cinematic visuals off the new album — with the visuals focusing on the lonely image of clouds drifting over a mountain range. At one point, there’s a brief superimposing of Murray’s hand calling the love interest at the center of the song and telling them that she’s leaving them, and as a result the visuals while being fittingly moody also evoke an underlying sense of liberation.