Now, throughout this site’s 8 year history, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for his solo electro pop/dream pop recording project Summer Heart. And as you may recall, Alexander has received attention both nationally and internationally for being among the first wave of Sweden’s contemporary electro pop and dream pop movement along with the likes of Moonbabies, The Land Below, Hey Elbow, Blind Lake and Emerald Park, as well as for a sound that has been compared to Caribou, Washed Out, In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy, Painted Palms and others.
With 12 Songs of Summer, Alexander adds his name to an increasing number of artists, who have adopted a single of the month series over the past couple of years. In the blogosphere age, single of the month series manage to make much quite a bit of sense creatively, financially and marketing-wise. Creatively, the artist isn’t constrained by the pressure of writing material within a cohesive style or theme in mind, as they (potentially) would have to do if they were working on an EP or a full-length album. Financially speaking, independent artists, who are most likely struggling to find ways to fund their efforts to record, tour and promote their work can put out material quickly, ensuring that the artist can receive some sort of attention outside of the album cycle. As Alexander explained in press notes, “The idea behind this project is to show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case when you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”
“Subside,” the 7th and latest single in the 12 Songs of Summer series finds Alexander collaborating with Toronto-based artist KYLO, who contributes ethereal yet soulful vocals drenched in copious reverb to a lush and shimmering production centered around finger snap-led percussion, stuttering synth arpeggios, shuffling beats and an infectious hook to create a radio friendly, club banger that evokes balmy summer nights, of evening faces, dance floors and strobe lights — and interestingly enough the song brings Within and Without and Paracosm-era Washed Out.
As Alexander recalls, “I met K¥LO in Toronto a couple of years ago. We played a show together and since then we’ve stayed in touch and also vaguely talked about making something together at some point.
Back in April, I was sitting on the floor in my friend Alex’s apartment in the East Village playing around with Logic X on my laptop. I was feeling super inspired; I got this song going and quickly decided I wanted to collaborate with someone on it. K¥LO was the first person I had in mind and so I sent the roughest demo ever to her.
To me this song is about someone’s bad habits, and about not being able to concentrate and focus and taking the easy way out.”
KYLO adds, “The lyrics to ‘Subside’ were inspired by a time in my life when I was going through a lot of changes. I was getting used to living without someone I had been with for a long time and battling the loneliness that came with that change. Summer Heart is someone I’ve wanted to collaborate with for a long time; I think that as a producer he’s managed to reflect the message within the lyrics on the track.”
Now, over the past few years, I’ve written a quite a bit about JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned, Swedish singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, and as you may recall, his solo electro pop recording project Summer Heart has received attention both here and across the blogosphere for a sound that at points has been compared to Caribou, Washed Out, In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy, Painted Palms and others. Along with that, Alexander has long been considered among the first wave of Sweden’s contemporary electro pop/dream pop/pop movement, which also includes Moonbabies, The Land Below, Hey Elbow, Blind Lake and Emerald Park.
With his 12 Songs of Summer, Alexander adds his name to an increasing number of artists, who have adopted a single of the month series over the past couple of years, and as you can imagine doing so manages to make a helluva lot of sense creatively, financially, and marketing-wise in the blogosphere age. Creatively speaking, the artist isn’t constrained by having the pressure of writing material with a cohesive style or theme in mind, as they would if they were writing for an EP or a full-length album; however, in order for the concept to work, they are required to come up with material within relatively strict and regularly occurring deadlines. Financially, independent artists, who may be struggling to find ways to fund their efforts to record and tour, can put out material quickly — and in the blogosphere age, it can ensure that the artist can receive some sort of attention over the course of year, outside of the album cycle. As Alexander explained in press notes, “The idea behind this project is to show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case when you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”
“I Got This Thing For You” is the latest single in Alexander’s 12 Songs of Summer project and the single meshes slickly produced thumping house music with arpeggiated synths and anthemic hooks, bursts of Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar and swooning dream pop. Interestingly, both lyrically and sonically, the track is the sort of track that manages to simultaneously be an early blast of summer while reminding the listener of the first, uncertain pangs of a summer fling. As Alexander says of the song ” It is a track that during a short period of time has changed a lot! It started as a small loop and the lyrics ‘I got this thing for you.’ I wasn’t sure where to take the track so I showed it to my friend Joakim Buddee, who asked if he could play around with it. I gave him a carte blanche, and he came back to me with a version of the track that we both really liked. Big ups to Joakim Buddee for all his work on this one!”
Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned, Swedish singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, whose solo dream pop/electro pop project Summer Heart has received attention for a sound that draws from 80s synth pop in a way that’s been compared favorably to Caribou, Washed Out, In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy, Painted Palms and others, and for being considered among the first wave of Sweden’s renowned contemporary electro pop and dream pop movement, which also includes Moonbabies, The Land Below, Hey Elbow, Blind Lake and Emerald Park.
Alexander with his 12 Songs of Summer has added his name to an increasing list of artists, who have adopted a single of the month series, and as you can imagine doing so, manages to make a helluva lot of sense creatively, financially and marketing-wise in the blogosphere age. Creatively, the artist isn’t constrained by having to write material with a cohesive style or theme in mind, as they would be required to do in terms of writing for a full-length album; however, in order for the concept to work, they are required to come up with songs within strict and regularly occurring deadlines. Interestingly enough, the monthly song series manages to capture the emotional highs and lows of a year of the artist’s life in a way that can feel like an audio journal. Financially, artists who are struggling to find ways to fund their efforts recording and touring can split their costs over the course of a year, while stretching the recording process to a few days over the course of a year. And in the fickle blogosphere age, releasing a single every month can assure in some fashion that the blogosphere will pay attention to you and your work over the course of a year. As Alexander explains in press notes, “The idea behind this project is to show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case when you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”
“Yeah You” is the second single of the 12 Songs of Summer series, and it finds Alexander leaning towards a thumping house meets In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy-like production featuring arpeggiated synths, woofer and tweeter rocking beats and anthemic hook — and while being a rousing, crowd pleasing track that features Alexander’s ethereal vocals floating over the mix; but while being a club banger, the song possesses a plaintive ache over a dysfunctional and somewhat unrequited love affair while accepting it as an unchangeable part of the past that the song’s narrator will eventually move forward from. As Alexander says of the song, it’s “about feeling alive and having no regrets! It’s about trying to ignore the past since you can’t change. But most of all, it’s about having fun, living in the present.”
With the release of their critically applauded sophomore album Wahzu Wahzu, the Altamont, NY-based art pop duo The Parlor, comprised of multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, production and husband and wife team of Jen O’Connor and Eric Krans further cemented a growing reputation for a fearless willingness to explore a variety of sound palettes and styles while crafting intimate and thoughtful pop music; in fact, the Altamont, NY-based duo have progressed from indie folk to stomp and clap trance folk to “campfire disco” as Pitchfork described Wahzu Wahzu.
Slated for an April 13, 2018 the Altamont, NY-based art pop duo’s forthcoming, third full-length effort Kiku derives its name for the Japanese word for chrysanthemum. According to O’Connor and Krans, chrysanthemum began blooming in their farmhouse garden immediately following their second miscarriage, and for the couple, the flower became a symbol of their grief, despair, resilience and faith. Sonically speaking, the album represents a continued evolution of their overall sound, as Kiku is the duo’s first foray into trigged samples and orchestral synth soundscaping. “Kiku grew into something we never anticipated,” the couple admits in press notes. As they were grieving, they turned to their art and began writing and recording material inspired by what they were feeling and thinking, as the couple says they felt themselves “reaching out across the plane of the living and the dead, where we stumbled upon the tiny hand of the soul we lost. We brought a pice of her, of Kiku, back with us.”
Understandably, the material on Kiku sounds gloomier and more anxious than their previously released work while reportedly balancing a playful and relaxed air at points that suggests that while profoundly serious, the album can be coquettish, sexy and earnest; in some way, the album is meant to be the inner world of a couple, who keep trying over and over again — perhaps, because as cheesy as it may sound to some, they have each other.
Kiku’s first single, album opener “Soon” draws from dream pop, contemporary electro pop, movie soundtracks, jazz and experimental pop in a heady and swooning mix — and while to my ears, bringing to mind the work of Moonbabies, Beacon, Softspot, Mazzy Star and Flourish//Perish-era BRAIDS, the members of The Parlor manage to specialize in incredibly slick and lush production featuring soaring hooks paired with fearlessly heartfelt lyrics and sentiment. Yes, it’s meant to break your heart time and time again, but with a deeper purpose — to remind the listener of their empathy. Grief is grief is grief. We all know this and we all experience it at various points in our lives, and we try to move froward; that is what people do after all.
As O’Connor and Krans explain in press notes, “‘Soon’ was intended as a metaphor for the stages of grief. The chrysanthemums represent grief itself. We carry grief around with us, often to unlikely places. We try at times to let it go, to fling our grief from great heights or hope it’s carried off by time — an offering to the flowing waters of the hills. But ultimately we find ourselves steeping in it, drowning in it, and ideally cleansed by it in a baptism of intentional release. Allowing ourselves to stop fighting forces us to experience things that, as humans, we often try desperately to avoid. Allowing ourselves to dance in glowing sunlight empowers us to reclaim our spirit. And we are transported to a deeper place of understanding of one’s self and of the human experience as we know it. ‘Soon’ is an expression of painful hope and illuminated heart.”
The duo directed, shot and edited the video for “Soon” and naturally, the video prominently features chrysanthemums throughout — sometimes the husband and wife duo proudly and defiantly carrying them about, at other points, the flowers are being offered to the proverbial flowing waters of time or treated as a sort of sacrifice; but no matter what the flowers and their grief is inescapable — until they accept it.
Comprised of husband and wife duo, Jeremy and Jessi Brock, the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock/dream pop duo I Hate You Just Kidding can trace their origins to 2009 when they met and immediately began writing music together. With the release of a couple of EPs and their 2011 full-length debut, Days Grow Longer, the Los Angeles-based duo received a growing regional and national profile, as their music was prominently featured in film, television and commercials, each which was supported through extensive national touring. Building on a growing profile, the duo began writing the material that they felt would comprise their sophomore effort, now titled Constellations but life happens to even the most creative types, and the duo went on an extended hiatus between 2012 and 2017. However, over the past year or so, the duo have reconvened the project and began finishing up and writing the material that would comprise their sophomore follow-up effort Constellations slated for a February 2, 2017.
The album’s latest single “Heartbeat” is a jangling dream pop/guitar pop song featuring four-on-the-floor drumming, twinkling keys, a propulsive bass line and a soaring hook paired with Jessi Brock’s ethereal and aching vocals and while being a swooning, anachronistic, love song, the duo’s latest single manage to mesh 60s girl pop/Phil Spector-like pop with much more contemporary fare — i.e., The Shins, Moonbabies and others but within a mischievously dark yet danceable arrangement.
Comprised of Luca Sammartini and Valentina Sicco, YOOP are an up-and-coming Vicenza, Italy-based synthwave/synth pop act, who released their full-length debut effort Take Shelter earlier this month, and with the release of slickly produced album single “Rainbow,” the duo’s sound that seems to draw influence from Tears for Fears and contemporaries like Moonbabies, St. Lucia and Washed Out, as they pair soaring and anthemic hooks with a production featuring shimmering arpeggiated synths, propulsive, tweeter and woofer rocking, industrial-like beats, a sinuous bass line and angular guitar chords — and while managing to be arena rock friendly and a club banger, the track possesses an aching yearning at its core.
The recently released video follows a dream-like logic in which a woman wakes up to find herself tied to a chair and as soon as she escapes, where she spends a dizzying period seeking something just out of her grasp through a series of rooms and staircases.
Rue Snider is a Brooklyn-based folk singer/songwriter, who since his debut in 2012 has developed a reputation for writing material with an unvarnished honesty, a relentless touring schedule of more than 100 shows a year, opening for the likes of Lydia Loveless, Squirrel Nut Zippers‘ Tom Maxwell, Superhuman Happiness, Benjamin Scheuer, Blue Healer, Donna Missal and The Silos‘ Walter Salas-Humara, and for collaborating with the likes of Jon Estes, who’s played with Ruby Amanfu and Steelism, Rubblebucket‘s David Cole, Derrek C. Philips and others. Adding to a growing profile, “Speak My Mind,” the EP title track of his most recent Andrija Tokic-produced EP, Speak My Mind was featured as song 80 of the politically charged, 1,000 Days, 1,000 Songs project.
Interestingly, Snider was impressed by Brooklyn-based producer and electronic music artist Brothertiger‘s re-imainging of Tears for Fears‘ Songs from the Big Chair and asked him to remix the EP’s sole love song, “Moving Me,” and Brothertiger turns the sparsely arranged, singer/songwriter ballad into a decidedly 80s synth pop-inspired track featuring shimmering arpeggiated synths and big, gated reverb-based beats over which Snider’s plaintive vocals float ethereally — and while further cementing the Brooklyn-based producer’s reputation for a sound that’s reminiscent of JOVM mainstays Washed Out and Moonbabies, Brothertigter retains the song’s swooning Romanticism and honesty.
JOVM mainstay David Alexander is an internationally renowned, Swedish singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, whose solo, electro pop/dream pop recording project Summer Heart has received attention for a wistful and nostalgic sound that draws from 60s psych pop, 80s synth pop and lo-fi rock and has been compared favorably to the likes of Caribou, Washed Out, In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy, Painted Palms and others, and for being considered among the first wave of Sweden’s equally renowned electro pop and dream pop movement, which also includes Moonbabies, The Land Below, Hey Elbow, Blind Lake and Emerald Park.
Alexander’s latest Summer Heart album, 101 was released last month, and as you may recall I’ve previously written about album single “Hotel Beds,” a swooning yet buoyant production featuring shimmering synths, stuttering house music-like drum programming, boozy blasts of guitar, Alexander’s dreamy falsetto and a rousing hook within a dance floor friendly song. However, underneath the buoyant and summery vibes of the song is a bittersweet and weary rumination on the life of a touring musician.
101’s latest single “Follow” continues on a similar path as its predecessor as the song features a house music-inspired production consisting of arpeggiated and shimmering synths, chiming, Afro-pop-like percussion, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and Alexander’s dreamy falsetto with a soaring hook. And much like its immediate predecessor, underneath the buoyant and summery vibe there’s more than meets the eye — in this case, the song’s narrator expresses a plaintive, desperately unresolved frustration. As Alexander explains in press notes. “To follow your dreams, you must figure out what they are. ‘Follow’ is about that moment when you think you have it all figured to, only to realise you’re not one bit wiser. Those things you do, which you imagine will change everything . . . when all is said and done, afterwards you feel exactly the same.”
Directed by Kyle Macfadzean, the recently released video features expressive, contemporary choreography by Amy Kent and Laura Ava-Scott, and stars Grace Macfadzean and Angela Downs. Shot in an lushly cinematic fashion, the video makes a connection between the young woman and her older, seemingly wiser doppleganger, emphasizing the song’s central theme with a powerfully emotional yet surreal wallop