LMLM is a mysterious and masked French producer. singer/songwriter and music video director. His latest single, the swaggering and infectious “hate u all” is centered around twinkling keys, thumping beats, shimmering synths, an infectious, radio friendly hook and the French artist’s equally swaggering part rhyming, part crooning delivery. Aesthetically. the mysterious French producer’s sound seems indebted to Drake and to slickly produced, Top 40 pop — but with a bit of an edge.
“‘hate u all’ is about all the things we have to fight in these trouble [sic] times: racism, sexism, global warming, etc. . . I want the best for the world. I wanna make people feel good and free. That’s why I sing ‘i hate you all’ in a groovy-catch song,” LMLM explains in press notes.
Slow Magic is a mysterious and masked electronic producer and electronic music artist, who has garnered both critical and commercial success with the release of his first three albums — 2012’s Triangle, 2014’s How to Run Away and 2017’s Float have managed to amass over 200 million streams globally. Adding to a growing profile nationally and internationally, the masked producer and electronic music artist has toured with ODESZA,Giraffage and XXYYXX — and has released critically applauded remixes of the work of ODESZA, Gold Panda and Delorean. 2018 saw Slow Magic play a set at Coachella, which he followed up with a North American tour with shallou and a headlining European tour.
Earlier this year, Slow Magic released the Closer 2 U EP, an effort which was released to praise fray the likes of NPR, NAKID Magazine, Dancing Astronaut, This Song is Sick, and a long of list of others. Featuring collaborations with shallou, Manila Killa, Woven in Hiatus and others, the EP found the mysterious producer and electronic music artist firmly establishing himself as a go-to collaborator, and as a rising talent and tastemaker in the electronic music world. Building upon the momentum he earned with Closer 2 U EP, the acclaimed masked producer fourth album it’s the end of the world, but it’s ok is slated for a December 9, 2020 release through Moving Castle.
Thematically, it’s the end of the world, but it’s ok explores and touches upon uncertainty, community, resilience and communication — all things that have been a part of our daily lives in some fashion or another over the past seven months or so. The album’s first single is the upbeat anthem “Carry On.” Centered around several layers of lushly shimmering and arpeggiated synths, stuttering beats, euphoria-inducing drops and an enormous hook,. the track which features guest vocals from Paperwhite has a much-needed and uplifting message (and reminder) to listeners: look inward, calm yourself and love yourself, look towards building a brighter, better future — and find solace in carrying on to the best of your ability.
“‘Carry On’ came from a session with Katie Marshall from Paperwhite and Jeremy Silver in 2019,” Slow Magic explains in press nots. “Coincidentally enough, the concept I was working on at the time for it’s the end of the world, but it’s ok, was a post-apocalyptic narrative where the focus was on getting through it and striving toward what was ahead. I had no idea the lyrics we came up with that day would ring so true in 2020. The line ‘If the stars burn out tonight we’re gonna carry on’ really echoes what I see happening all around the world right now amid such crazy times: people are carrying on with their lives and it is beautiful to see.”
“’Carry On’ came together quickly on a summer day in LA where Slow Magic and I just happened to both be visiting,” Paperwhite recalls. “It was one of those songs that unfolded easily within our first hour of writing. I’m thrilled to see how Slow Magic explored our idea and gave it new life.”
Gaspard Eden is a restlessly creative, emerging Quebec City-based singer/songwriter and musician. Eden’s full-length debut Soft Power is slated for release later this year through Coyote Records, and the album’s material reportedly finds the emerging Quebec-based singer/songwriter and musician pushing his sound in a completely new direction from his previously released work while evoking a wide ranger of emotions through melodic soundscapes and poetic lyricism.
So far, I’ve written about two of Soft Power‘s singles: the brooding, jangle pop track “Pancakes,” a track centered around Eden’s plaintive falsetto and an achingly wistful nostalgia for a seemingly simpler past — and the ethereal, Soft to the touch-era Jef Barbara-like “Automatic Dreams,” which featured Eden’s longtime friend, singer/songwriter Gabrielle Shonk.
“Baby Black Hole,” the album’s third and latest single is a slow-burning, Quiet Storm-like R&B take on shimmering indie rock, centered around Eden’s achingly tender vocals that’s a dorky come-on to an object of desire, full of goofy science fiction references. There’s also a bit of mournful clarinet, which adds to the song’s mischievous yet sultry vibe.
Over the past eight years, the members of the Lincoln-based act have been one of the Midwest’s hardest working bands, releasing four, critically applauded albums, including last year’s Do It Now, which they’ve supported through several tours across the Continental US and two European tours. Adding to a growing profile, the act has opened for the likes of George Clinton, Charles Bradley, Booker T. Jones, Muscle Shoals Soul Revue and an impressive list of others.
Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal’s Eddie Roberts-produced fifth album Natural Born Hustler is slated for release later this year through Color Red Records, and the album further establishes the act’s sound — music written for grown-ass folks by written-by grown-ass folks rooted in earnest and honest songwriting while sonically drawing from 70s funk and blues, doo-wop and psych soul with a modern twist.
Earlier this year, I wrote about “Hustler,” Natural Born Hustler‘s third single was a strutting and defiantly upbeat bit of soul that seemed indebted to The Payback-era James Brown, 70s Motown, Muscle Shoals, Daptone and Memphis soul in a seamless yet period specific synthesis. The end result was a track is one-part, much-needed proverbial kick in the ass and one-part, much-needed rallying cry for our uncertain times.
“Sunday Lies,” Natural Born Hustler‘s fourth and latest single continues a run of coolly strutting, bluesy soul centered around twinkling organ, Hoyer’s Tom Jones-like crooning, wah wah pedaled guitar, twinkling organ, a looping and propulsive groove and a cinematic yet powerhouse horn line. But underneath the expansive song structure and cool strutting vibes is a simmering anger, as the song calls out the widening chasm between word and action when those in power corrupt their message. In fact, the song’s narrator makes the observation that for voters, the voter dynamic is often swayed when politicians co-opt their platforms with religious messages — and the willful blinders that sometimes inhibit the faithful from accepting the truth and reality: that they’re being cynically played by wanton hypocrites.
Nashville-based melodic, heavy duo Friendship Commanders — Buick Audra (vocals, guitar) and Jerry Roe (drums, bass) — have released two albums and an EP so far, 2016’s Dave, 2018’s Steve Albini-produced Bill and the Hold On To Yourself EP, which was released earlier this year.
Recorded with mix engineer Kurt Ballou, Hold On To Yourself EP finds the band crafting their heaviest batch of material to date while being a sonic and stylistic departure — with the EP’s material introducing a layered, studio polish instead of the raw, mostly lived-tracked approach of their previously released material. Thematically, the EP found the band examining the world around them, including their part in the world’s massive problems and potential solutions, and challenging the patriarchy while also delving deep and discussing being an adult, who has survived childhood trauma. Interestingly, enough the EP’s title essentially summarizes Audra’s message to other survivors — and has been a personal mantra for the Friendship Commanders’ frontperson; she has a habit of writing the phrase “hold on to yourself” every morning as a reminder. “This has been especially true during times of dealing with unsafe family members, abusers, or unwell people,” Audra says in press notes. “With a past of self-abandonment, holding on to myself has to be a focus in everything I do. It’s a good reminder and I always need it. It just seemed like the right set of words for this record.”
“Stonechild”/”Your Reign Is Over” is the first bit of new material since the release of Hod On To Yourself and continues their ongoing collaboration with the mixing and engineering team of Kurt Bailou and Brad Boatright. And although there is a sort of sonic through-line between HOTY and the new singles — with all of the material centered around sludgy power chords, thunderous drumming and rousingly anthemic, mosh pit friendly hooks. However, the new singles find the band moving into new emotional and thematic territory while tackling even tougher subjects. “Stonechild” manages to the outrage over injustice and the ache of unjust loss while “Your Reign Is Over” expresses frustration and a desire to get out there, snatch control from the old bastards fucking things up and making it a better world — right now.
“Stonechild” was written about the circumstances of Stonechild Cheifstick’s death last July 3rd. Chiefstci was a 39 year-old, Chippewa Cree man, who was part of the Suqamish Tribal community and father of five, who was killed by a white police officer. “Through a friend of mine who lives on the Port Madison Reservation, I connected to articles in local publications about his death, all of which I read with horror,” Audra says in press notes. “My brain kept going back to facts of the story: He was murdered by a white police officer . . . At the location where the community was gathered to enjoy the 3rd of July fireworks, at a waterfront park . . . Families with kids were everywhere and witnessed his death . . . And they still held the fireworks after he died. The song was written to acknowledge a life, question a death, and stand in solidarity with a community that has lost someone. We, alongside the people who knew him, demand justice for Stonechild. With this song, I am also asking questions to all of us about how we’re actually moving through this world, injustice all around us, systemic racism normalized and ignored. Are we helping, or are we hurting?”
“Stonechild” also features s spoken word section txʷəlšucid, co-written by Casey Fowler, who is a member of the Suquamish people; Zalmai Zahir ʔəswəli, who is part of the Puyallup; and Chris Duenas, who’s also part of the Puyallap people. Fowler recites the section in Lushootseed, and does on on behalf of Chiefstick’s family.
“Your Reign Is Over” encapsulates the general frustration and despair most of has have felt so deep this past year. We’ve had a pandemic that has rampaged communities, economies and entire industries with millions here in the States out of work and in danger of losing their homes. There’s the continued struggle for racial justice and gender equality, which have been on the forefront of the country’s consciousness during a summer of protest and unrest. There has been continued environmental calamities — and we’re in the middle of arguably the most consequential presidential election in the past 150 years. We’ve seen the destruction of people and the environment; the hatred and strife. If you’re like me — or like the band — you’re exhausted and fed up. And as a result the song calls out the greedy, the selfish, the destruction, demanding that they get out of the way for new voices, new ways of doing things, new thinking and new systems.
On June 19, 2020, the Tennessee legislate voted to pass the most restrictive abortion ban in the country. The vote took place in the middle of night — without the public knowing. As it turns out, Buick was in the state capitol building for the vote. “As an activist who advocates for bodily autonomy, the fact that our largely white and male Republican super-majority legislature took the extra steps to hinder the rights of so many – the middle of such a vulnerable time – really blew my last fuse,” Buick says. “There’s no way to dress that action up as anything but deliberately harmful. Such action is rooted in racism, classism, and sexism There’s some junk science in there, too. I haven’t written much this year, but I have written this work to say that this chapter is over. We can no longer allow any of the above to go on. This election needs to flip the state of Tennessee, and also the presidency.”
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 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. 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.
Tyson O’Brien is a rising Aussie electronic music producer and DJ, best known in electronic circles as Generik. Since relocating to Los Angeles, O’Brien has been rather prolific: 2018 saw him craft a piano house driven remix of Halsey’s “Bad at Love,” and a vibey remix of Dillion Francis’ “Hello There.” O’Brien has also landed a couple of ARIA Club Chart #1’s with “The Weekend” feat. Nicky Van She, “Late at Night,” “So High,” and “Be There” feat. A*M*E. Each of those singles have done well on the Shazam, Spotify Australia and Spotify US viral charts.
Last year, the Aussie producer released the “You Do You” series, which further showcased his classic house inspired sound and approach. And keeping with a busy schedule and growing profile, Generik had ongoing residencies at Ibiza’s Pacha, Las Vegas’ Omnia Nightlcub and Bali’s Omnia Dayclub and others.
“Need U,” Generik’s latest single finds him teaming up with British upstart Fourcès on a sun-kissed and euphoric bit of classic house centered around twinkling piano arpeggios, thumping beats, a soulful vocal sample and an enormous hook. Sonically, the track reminds me of Octo Octa’s Between Both Sides, as it possesses a sinuous and sultry quality — while being incredibly crowd pleasing.
Led by Jon Panic, the Sydney, Australia-based roots reggae and dub act Black Bird Hum have spent the past four years touring across the continent, becoming a rising name in the Aussie reggae and festival scene. And although “My Side” is their first single released through Denver-based funk and soul label Color Red, the Aussie band’s connection to the label runs very deep: Jeff Reis (drums) had spent 15 years playing in Denver‘s scene, performing with labelmates ATOMGA during that band’s formative years before relocating to Sydney.
Centered around fluttering flute, a sinuous and two-step inducing groove, twinkling keys and laid-back riddims, Little Green’s sultry vocals and an infectious horn line composed by Greg Chilcott (trumpet), “My Side” is the band’s homage to some of their favorite artists — Roots Radics, Gregory Isaacs, and Hollie Cook but with a modern take. Developed and honed over months of touring. “My Side” is a road tested song that feels both modern and timeless as it tells an age-old tale of good love gone horribly and confusingly wrong. Most of us have been there and have reflected on what was, what could have been and what happened with a vivid preciseness. The B side is a classic and very trippy dub mix that further emphasizes that deep and sinuous two-step groove with reverb-drenched everything. Listening to the dub mix is an enveloping trip into groove, if you dig what I’m saying?
“The groove got it all started, the horn line kept it going, and then Little Green (Amy) singing over the top was all we needed to know it was our next release.,” Black Bird Hum’s Jon Panic says of their latest single. “All our songs are fun live, but this pocket is probably the best to drop into. It’s a nod to all of our favorite reggae artists and the mad grooves they’ve given us.”
Founded and led by composer, arranger and producer Seth Applebaum, the New York-based psych rock/psych soul act Ghost Funk Orchestra initially began as a lo-fi recording project in 2014. And since their formation, the project has grown into an 10 member unit that has become a forceful and up-and-coming presence in the city’s psych rock and soul scenes as a result of unique sound that draws from salsa, surf rock, Afrobeat and several others.
Last year, the act released their full-length debut A Song for Paul last year. Conceived as a tribute for Seth Applebaum’s late grandfather Paul Anish, a figure, who who played an immense role in the Ghost Funk Orchestra’s founder and bandleader’s life. And although the song don’t address Paul Anish directly, the album’s creative direction were meant to convey what Anish’s presence felt like for Seth — a tough but kind, old-school, native New Yorker. For Applebaum, accurately capturing what his grandfather’s essence meant to him, forced him to expand the band’s arrangements and overall sound much further than anything he had done up to that point, including writing more comprehensive horn lines and working with a string section.
The New York-based psych soul act’s sophomore album An Ode to Escapism is slated for a November 13, 2020 release through Karma Chief Records, an imprint of Colemine Records. Sonically, An Ode to Escapism continues and further expands upon the sound they’ve developed on their full-length debut: the arrangements are more intricate and centered around odd time signatures, the drums are heavier and vocal harmonies soar over it all. Thematically, the album touches upon isolation, fear of the unknown and the fabrication of the self-image — and is specifically meant to invite to listener to close their eyes, while listening and delve into their subconscious, if they’re not too afraid to do so.
An Ode to Escape‘s first single is the cinematic and expansive “Queen Bee.” Featuring a looping, bluesy guitar line, a soaring string arrangement, the song is centered around an unusual song structure that finds the band defy maneuvering three wildly different time signatures to convey someone digging themselves out of a self-flagellating pit and finding their swagger.
“‘Queen Bee’ is a song about finding strength in not caring what people think of you,” the band’s Seth Applebaum explains. “It’s about digging yourself out of a pit of self-consciousness and strutting your stuff however it may come across. Led by Megan Mancini, this tune has been a staple in the live repertoire for a while, but it was also one of the most difficult songs to conquer in the studio. As the first song that was written and recorded for An Ode To Escapism, ‘Queen Bee’ set a high bar for difficulty as its challenge was to find a way to move seamlessly between three very different feeling time signatures (3/4, 10/8, and 4/4). On the surface it feels like a pop song, but in true GFO fashion, there’s a lot to be discovered beneath the surface.”