Over the past few years, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the London-based JOVM mainstays Ten Fe. Founded by primary songwriters Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan, the band expanded into a full-fledged band with the permanent additions of longtime friends and touring members Rob Shipley (bass) and Johnny Drain (keys), who Duncan knows from their days in Walsall, and Alex Hammond (drums), who sat in with the band for the recording of their sophomore album Future Perfect, Present Tense.
Thematically, Future Perfect, Present Tense was a mediation on everything that has brought the members of the band to the writing and recording of their sophomore album — and everything that they’ve willingly (and in some cases perhaps, unwillingly) left behind to get there. Sonically, the album is a decided sonic departure from its predecessor with the material seemingly drawing from Fleetwood Mac and others, while retaining an uncanny ability to craft slick and rousingly anthemic hooks.
Recently, the JOVM mainstays have released a couple of covers — including their latest single, a cover of Mark Ronson’s and Miley Cyrus’ “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” that finds the band turning the country-tinged dance floor anthem into a spectral and pastoral, folk meditation that brings Nick Drake and Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra to mind. By stripping away the electronics, the British JOVM mainstays pull out the vulnerability, heartache and intimacy of the original out into the forefront while simultaneously revealing that the song is startlingly well-written.
“I’ve always thought the song was really beautiful, and heard the intimacy and vulnerability in it,” the band’s Leo Duncan says in press notes, “so we wanted to try and bring that out in our version, through the ghostly vocal arrangements and sparse instrumentation; we were trying to make it sound as if we recorded it in the middle of the desert. It’s such a good song, rearranging felt really natural.”
Directed, edited and produced by Niall Trask, the cinematically shot accompanying video for “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” is set in a set in an extremely English pastoral scene that manages to also hint at the American Wild West. “We wanted it it be evocative of the Wild West, as the music paints that picture; but also make it very English and pastoral – particularly, Cromwellian, when England seemed wild and lawless,” Leo Duncan explains in press notes. ‘. I did a rough storyboard, and Niall Trask was the perfect person to direct it as he’s really into that period of history, and we’ve often talked together about films set then such as Witchfinder General, A Field In England, etc. I really like the idea of delivering your heart to someone; I think everyone does this, symbolically, all the time – so it was wicked to try and show that literally in the video. I’m really happy how it came out!”
A Q&A with Donna Blue’s Danique van Kesteren and Bart van Dalen
Donna Blue is a rising Amsterdam-based indie act centered around its core duo, romantic couple Danique van Kesteren and Bart van Dalen. Creatively, they’re each other’s muse. And with the release of their debut 7 inch EP, which was released in 2017, the Dutch indie act quickly established a unique and dream-like sound seemingly influenced by Phil Spector, Wall of Sound-like pop, Pasty Cline, yè yè and the work of David Lynch – in particular, Twin Peaks. “Sunset Blvd,” which appeared on that 7 inch was played on Elton John’s Apple Music radio show Rocket Hour.
Building upon a growing profile, the Dutch duo released the yé yé inspired single “1 2 3.” Sung in French, the song describes the lack of a passion within a romantic relationship. And instead of making a standard music video for the song, the duo chose to create an audiovisual monologue conveying the narrator’s longing that’s visually inspired by the nouvelle vague movement.
Released last month through Dutch indie label, Snowstar Records, the self-recorded and self-produced 5 song EP Inbetween finds the act continuing to draw from and seamlessly mesh Roy Orbison, Julee Cruise,Nancy Sinatra, Patsy Cline and yé yé into a unique sound that evokes late nights wandering around narrow European streets, smokey cafes and swooning Romanticism. Personally, listening to the EP reminds me of late nights walking through Amsterdam’s Centrum and the Red Light District and of walking down Frankfurt-am-Main’s Haupwatche and Romer Districts with the aching loneliness of being a foreigner, of being a Black man in Northern Europe. And although that’s a deeply personal lens, the material overall is smoky, cinematic and absolutely gorgeous.
I recently exchanged emails with Donna Blue’s Danique van Kesteren and Bart van Dalen for this edition of the JOVM Q&A. Current world events have impacted all of us – and they’ve found ways to bleed into our personal and professional lives in ways that will reverberate for quite some time to come. As COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the rising Dutch act was here in New York, playing the second annual New Colossus Festival. Shortly after their New Colossus Festival sets, the world as we know it has been at an uncomfortable and indefinite pause. While we do chat about their excellent new EP, we do talk seriously about the impact of the pandemic on their careers, how much Twin Peaks has influenced their work and we reminisce about beautiful Amsterdam. Check it out below.
WRH: Donna Blue is centered around core duo and romantic couple Danique van Kesteren and Bart van Dalen. How is it like to collaborate and tour with your partner?
Danique van Kesteren: Thatʼs a big question to start with. Itʼs hard to explain well, but itʼs very special. I believe thereʼs a certain energy and creativity that only sparks when youʼre completely on the same wavelength as the person you are collaborating with. We work together so intimately that our ideas can flow without speaking.
Bart van Dalen: That being said, working closely together on a project blurs the lines between work and personal life. Itʼs all about keeping a good balance and that takes work. But most of the time itʼs very good. And touring together is super nice. Sharing experiences, traveling to all those places with her, performing and seeing Danique next to me on stage. I like how we can always feel what the other person is feeling on stage and feed off each otherʼs energy during a show.
WRH: Most of the known world has been in quarantine in some fashion since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic last month. How have you been holding up? What have you been spending your time doing? Binge watching anything interesting?
DVK: We mainly have been resting a lot, staying at home reading and cooking healthy food. We did set up a studio at home, so we can record ideas for new songs whenever we want.
BVD: Itʼs a weird time. We wouldʼve been in the US right now taking some time off after a tour. So weʼve been adjusting and taking time to think about where we are going from here. And weʼre binge watching a lot of Mad Men.
WRH: Donna Blue played this yearʼs New Colossus Festival. How did it go? Did you get a chance to take in any local food or bars or anything? Did you have a chance to see anyone play while you were in town? If so, who?
BVD: We had such a good time performing at the New Colossus; itʼs a really good memory. We played 4 shows and met some amazing people. We saw a couple of other artists perform at the festival, like Luke De-Sciscio, Kirsten Knick and Ghost World, which was very fun. And we got to play a Paste Magazinesession while we were in town. But every day felt more uncertain as COVID-19 was really hitting Europe hard. So, it was a strange time.
DVK: We were in New York for 5 days, so we tried to explore some of the city, even though it felt like we shouldnʼt. In the mornings we got bagels and we walked around the neighbourhood a little. Some of our band went to MOMA the last day before it closed. But mostly we stayed indoors until it was time to head off to our show. We all shared a big loft, so we just chilled in the living [room] and tried to stay calm and positive.
WRH: You were supposed to head down to Austin for SXSW after New Colossus Festival and unfortunately while you were in town COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Shortly after that festivals were postponing and canceling left and right, including SXSW. How has COVID-19 currently impacted you and your career?
BVD: Yes, that was a hard pill to swallow for everyone. Of course, weʼve worked very hard to get to SXSW and set up a tour around it. And thereʼs a huge financial investment that comes with touring the US. So not being able to play an important festival like SXSW and cancel all upcoming shows does impact our career. But weʼll carry on and keep making music, weʼll just have to wait and see what the scene is going to be like when we can go back out.
DVK: I think it will impact our career the same way it does any artist at the moment. Itʼs all very uncertain when we are going to be able to bring people together for live performances again, and if they even want to come out again when itʼs allowed. Small venues will collapse, international touring will be impossible for a while and it might be a lot harder to get our music in front of interesting parties.
WRH: Youʼre from one of my favorite cities in the entire world –- Amsterdam. I was in the Netherlands three years ago and I miss Amsterdam and the country. So say, Iʼm a tourist and itʼs my first time in Amsterdam, where would I go to get a taste of local life?
DVK: Amsterdam is a really special place. I still canʼt decide whether I love it more when the city wakes up in spring or when itʼs quiet in winter, the narrow streets and bridges covered in snow. It just feels so old and magical. I would recommend just walking past the canals just outside the busy city center. Have a little picnic on the waterfront, maybe smoke a funny cigarette and donʼt forget to look up to stare at the beautiful facades. Go through the ‘9 straatjesʼ or down Haarlemmerstraat for some nice local shops and vintage stores.
WRH: Whatʼs your favorite spot in Amsterdam to catch live music? Why?
BVD: We have a beautiful venue called Paradiso, itʼs in an old church and saw some real underground action in the 60s. Now itʼs one of the most important concert venues in our country, and still a magical place.
DVK: Bitterzoet is also a venue I really like, itʼs smaller but very cool, and it has a little red light district vibe going on.
WRH: Are there any Dutch acts that should be blowing up that havenʼt yet?
BVD: Definitely. Look up a band called Lewsberg, and Eerie Wanda.
DVK: And a band we love that make[s] awesome music to dance to is called Yin Yin.
WRH: I understand that Elton John played “Sunset Blvd” during his Apple Music radio show Rocket Hour. How did it feel to receive a co-sign from someone as legendary as him?
DVK: So unreal. I never thought in a million years I would hear Elton John say my full name.
BVD: Weʼve also been getting a lot of attention and radio play through it, so itʼs been very helpful.
WRH: I was first introduced to you and your sound through the Paste Session you did last month. So how much has David Lynch and Twin Peaks influenced the band and its aesthetic?
DVK: A lot, especially at the start. The way David Lynch plays with mystery and beauty is something we find really inspiring and try to incorporate in our own music. And visually too, we get inspired by his films for our music videos.
BVD: And of course, the soundtrack and music of Twin Peaks are so good. Being one of the bands playing at the Roadhouse is one of our musical dreams. We try to capture some of that Roadhouse-feeling in our own live performances.
WRH: How would you describe your sound to those who would be initially unfamiliar with you and your sound?
BVD: We usually describe it as sultry indie pop under the influence of 60s yé yé, Lynch movies and old Hollywood romance.
WRH: Who (and what) are your influences?
BVD: Musically our influences are mainly artists from the 50s/60s. Think of Serge Gainsbourg, Roy Orbison, Nancy Sinatra, Link Wray. And as mentioned before, so is the mystery from the Twin Peaks soundtrack.
DVK: Next to that we get inspired lyrically and visually by things like our own relationship and stuff we go through, cult movies from the 70s, Jean-Luc Godard, old Hollywood glamour, books and big questions like is there a heaven and would it be fun to go there for all eternity?
WRH: Your latest effort Inbetween EP was released last month. Itʼs a gorgeous and cinematic effort that evokes film noir, smoky cafes and bars, strolling down narrow European streets, swooning love – and to my ears, I hear quite bit of Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline and Phil Spectorʼs girl groups in the overall production. Iʼve managed to play the EP quite a bit late at night and for some reason, it reminds me so much of wandering around Amsterdam Centrum and the Red Light District. Is there a unifying theme that holds the EPʼs five songs together?
DVK: Itʼs not so much a theme as it is a feeling. Weʼve tried to translate that place between waking and sleeping into songs. Strange things happen there. Sometimes literally, like in title track Inbetween. But sometimes itʼs more figuratively, like waking up to what love really is.
WRH: “Desert Lake,” “Billy” and “Fool” are among my personal favourites on the EP. Can you tell us a little bit about what that songs are about?
DVK: Yes of course, “Desert Lake” is about the badlands every artist needs to cross while they do their work. Right between dreaming up a song and finishing it, a fear always creeps in: is it good enough? No matter how beautiful it is to create things, it will forever come with doubt. For the song we made up a cinematic story about someone getting lost in that madness of art. “Billy” is a song about l’amour fou gone wrong. We wanted it to sound like a sweet little 50’s heartbreak song at the start, but it ends like an eerie nightmare. It leaves you wondering what happened to the person not picking up the phone. And “Fool” is a song about the moment in a relationship you realise there is no such thing as perfect love, even though you thought you had it figured out. Itʼs a personal testament to losing some of that beautiful, open innocence of childhood love when transitioning into an adult relationship. Like an awakening.
WRH: How do you know when you have a finished song?
DVK: I think for a big part itʼs a feeling, you just know when thereʼs something still missing from the song.
BVD: Usually when we think a song is complete, we let it sit for a while. Then we listen to it again after a week or two, if it still feels good, itʼs finished.
WRH: Whatʼs next for you?
DVK: Weʼll be working on new music, maybe even a full-length album . . .
BVD: And of course making plans to set up another tour as soon as we can.
Comprised of Marshall, MN-born, Minneapolis, MN-based singer/songwriter, electronic music producer and electronic music artist Sean Tillmann, best known for his solo recording project Har Mar Superstar and A Giant Dog‘s and Sweet Spirit‘s Houston, TX-born, Austin, TX-based frontperson Sabrina Ellis, Heart Bones is a new, collaborative project that can trace its origins to when Ellis and Tillmann meeting and becoming friends while touring back in 2016. They recognized a shared love of over-the-top showmanship, which made their collaboration seem inevitable.
Throughout last year, the members of Heart Bones have made alternating trips back and forth between Minneapolis and Austin to write original material. Interestingly, Ellis and Tillmann are inspired by many of the classic duos of the 60s including Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Brikin, Sonny and Cher, Sam and Dave and others — and s a result. the project draws from doo wop, electronic dance music, electro pop and pop. Their currently working on the finishing touches of their debut EP; but in the meantime, From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder-like “Little Dancer” is centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with Ellis and Tillmann’s ethereal boy-girl harmonizing. And while the song is club friendly, it possesses an achingly sad air.
Tillmann and Ellis will be embarking on a tour through June and July with Good Fuck. The tour includes a July 14, 2019 stop at Le Poisson Rouge. Check out, the rest of the tour dates below.
Sat, June 29 – Minneapolis MN @ Rock the Garden
Wed, July 3 – Madison WI @ High Noon Saloon *
Thu, July 4 – Maquoketa IA @ Codfish Hollow Barn *
Fri, July 5 – Omaha NE @ The Sydney *
Sat, July 6 – Denver CO @ Oriental Theater *
Sun, July 7 – Fort Collins, CO @ Surfside 7 *
Tue, July 9 – Kansas City MO @ Riot Room *
Wed, July 10 – Chicago IL @ Lincoln Hall *
Thu, July 11 – Cleveland OH @ Beachland Tavern *
Fri, July 12 – Philadelphia PA @ World Café Live *
Sat, July 13 – Washington DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel *
Sun, July 14 – New York NY @ Le Poisson Rouge “In the Round” *
Mon, July 15 – Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East (Upstairs) *
Tues, July 16 – Buffalo, NY @ 9th Ward At Babeville
Wed, July 17 Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
Initially formed back in 2010 as a solo recording project of its founding member, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Wood, the British shoegazer act The KVB stated off with a number of limited cassette and vinyl releases that included “The Black Sun,” which was released through FLA Records and the Into the Night EP, which was released through Downwards Records. Vocalist, keyboardist and visual artist Kay Day joined Wood the following year, and the newly constituted duo released their full-length debut Always Then through Clan Destine Records.
2013 was a busy year for the duo, as that year saw the release of their sophomore effort, Immaterial Visions, which was released through Cititrax that February. Wood and Day followed that up with a remix EP featuring contributions from Regis and Silent Servant that May — and a reissue of 2011’s limited edition cassette release Minus One through The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe’s label, A Recordings.
The following year, Wood and Day went to Newcombe’s Berlin studio to track what would eventually become the Out of Body EP, which A Records released later that year. Interestingly, those sessions marked a couple of firsts for the duo — the first time that they worked outside of their home studio and the first time that they worked with Joe Dilworth, a dummer known for his work with Stereolab and Cavern of Anti-Matter. The more experimental material they recorded the year, would up comprising 2015’s Mirror Being, which was released through Invada Records.
2016’s Of Desire found the duo’s sound moving in a more experimental, electronic-leaning direction, as they recorded with vintage synths from Invada Records head and Portishead and Beak> mastermind Geoff Barrow’s collection. Continuing at a busy pace, the duo’s Fixation/White Walls EP was release in 2017 and they released a re-masted, fifth anniversary edition of Always Then. Interestingly, last year’s Only Now Forever finds the duo returning to their DIY roots, with the duo recording in their Berlin apartment over the course of 2017.
The album’s atmospheric, “Violet Noon” will further cement the duo’s reputation for pairing reverb-drenched shoegaze, 60s pop inspired boy-girl harmonies and minimalist electronic production — but within a swooning and achingly hazy dream-like song. “Influenced by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, ‘Violet Noon’ is a dark love song set against the backdrop of the apocalypse. While the world falls apart, all you can think of is the person you want to spend those last moments with,” The KVB say of the song and its accompanying video. “We shot the video last October, on the last unseasonably warm day of the year on the Jurassic coast in Dorset on the south coast of England. For us, the dreaminess of the video perfectly reflects the otherworldliness of this song, it feels like a hazy memory, timeless and romantic.”
Over the past few years of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles-based indie rock trio Psychic Love, and as you may recall the act, which features Laura Peters (vocals), Max Harrison (guitar) and Liam McCormick (bass) has described their sound as “dream grunge” and “as if Nancy Sinatra had a love child with Frank Black.” Up until the release of “Go Away Green,” a song that both derives its name and its influence from a very odd yet very true fact — that at Disney them parks, the things they don’t want patrons noticing are painted in a shade of green that they’ve dubbed “Go Away Green.”
Sonically, that single was a decided expansion of the sound and songwriting approach that first caught my attention as the song was a shape shifter that began with a cacophony of noise that recalled Pearl Jam’s Vs. before quickly morphing into a slow-burning and atmospheric track with a rousingly anthemic hook that recalls Concrete Blonde and JOVM mainstays Oddnesse. The band closes out 2018 with their newest single, “One & Two,” which sounds indebted to Ennio Morricone soundtracks as its centered around reverb-drenched, twangy guitars, dramatic drumming, a gorgeous horn arrangement and a soaring hook. And while the song may arguably be the most cinematic song in their growing catalog, it manages to recall Still Corners’ gorgeous Slow Air. Interestingly, as the band explains, their latest single “is a restless song about how communications bend and warp, especially in this new frontier, where nothing is as it seems.”
A few years ago, I wrote a handful of posts on the Los Angeles-based indie rock trio Psychic Love, and because it’s been a while I think I should refresh your collective memories a bit: fronted by Laura Peters and featuring Max Harrison (guitar) and Liam McCormick (bass), the trio have described their sound as “dream grunge” and “as if Nancy Sinatra had a love child with Frank Black.”
Now, it’s been some time since I’ve personally written about the Los Angeles-based indie rock trio but interestingly, their latest single “Go Away Green” derives its name and is somewhat influenced by a very odd yet very true fact — at Disney theme parks, the things they don’t want patrons noticing is painted in a shade of green that they’ve dubbed “Go Away Green.” Naturally, Peters was fascinated by that fact, and began to observe that people frequently try to cover up unpleasant aspects of their personalities and character in as similar fashion. As the band’s Laura Peters says in press notes. “This is a song about the things and people hiding in plain sight. I often feel like I’m looking out from inside a body – a body, a face, a look, that is telling the world one thing, but inside I’m just you and you are me.” Interestingly, the song features novelist’s attention to psychological detail, as it captures a relationship in which both people aren’t being as honest as they say they’d like to — and they both know it.
Sonically, the song is a decided expansion of the sound and songwriting approach that first caught my attention — the song is a bit of a shape shifter, that begins with a cacophony of noise that recalls Pearl Jam’s Vs. before quickly morphing into a slow-burning and atmospheric section with a rousingly anthemic hook that recalls Concrete Blonde and JOVM mainstays Oddnesse, but while hinting at Phil Spector’s famous Wall of Sound of production and an increasingly ambitious songwriting approach.
Since appearing on DJ Shadow‘s 2006 album The Outsider, the critically applauded, mostly instrumental London, UK-based act The Heliocentrics, comprised of Malcolm Catto (drums, production), Jake Ferguson (bass), Adrian Owusu (guitar) and multi-instrumentalist Jack Yglesias, have cemented a reputation for a compositional approach based on the band’s four musicians’ live improvisation in the studio as a way to avoid typical songwriting and compositional processes and generic song structures, and for a boldly genre-defying aesthetic as their sound possesses elements of jazz, hip-hop, trip-hop, psych rock, acid jazz, krautrock and musique concrete. Unsurprisingly, as a result of being uncompromisingly difficult to pigeonhole, the members of The Heliocenters have collaborated with an impressive array of artists including Muluta Astake, The Gaslamp Killer, Lloyd Miller, Orlando Julius, the legendary and iconoclastic Melvin Van Peebles and others.
Spending well over a decade together, the members of the band refer to their songwriting and recording process as “almost a form of telepathy” with “musical changes that otherwise would be near impossible to write .. . ” Interestingly, the band’s fourth full-length effort, A World of Masks, which is slated for a June 9, 2017 release through will further cement their reputation for being difficult to pigeonhole; but it also marks several new directions for a band that constantly pushes themselves in new directions sonically and thematically. First, the London-based band’s fourth album is the first official release through their new label home Soundway Records after several years on Los Angeles-based Now Again Records — and secondly, the album finds the band collaborating with Barbora Patkova, a young Slovakian vocalist, who the members of the band discovered through a mutual friend. According to the band, Patkova’s sound and vocal stylings “instantly worked with us,” and they quickly discovered an artist, who like them was intimately familiar with an improvisational approach and had lyrics at the ready to sing, frequently in her native Slovakian over any music thrown at her. Lastly, A World of Masks is the first release of rather prolific year or so period for the band: they recently wrote the score to the critically acclaimed documentary about LCD, The Sunshine Makers and have plans to collaborate with the legendary Marshall Allen and the Sun Ra Arekstra, and to continue their collaboration with Gaslamp Killer with a new album as well, ensuring that The Heliocentrics will be a go-to band to collaborate with on genre-stretching and genre-defying works.
The London-based act’s latest single “Oh Brother” is the second official single off A World of Masks and the single is an awe-inspiring, heady and cinematic mix of psych rock, acid jazz, jazz fusion, 60s blue eyed soul and a subtle hint of psychedelic Bollywood in a song that possesses an explosive and feral immediacy paired with Patkova’s sultry and soulful Nancy Sinatra-like vocals.
Now if you had been frequenting this site towards the end of last year, you might remember that I wrote about the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter BETS, who quickly came to attention with the release of her critically applauded debut effort Days Hours Night. In the blogosphere age, artists have to strike quickly and while the iron is hot — and building upon the buzz she had received, the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and producer initially planned to write and record new, original material when the two collaborators discovered that they shared a mutual fondness of Violent Femmes‘ 1983 self-titled, breakthrough debut. And reportedly, within a few minutes, BETS along with her producer decided that the album of original material should be put on hold for a bit, to allow them some time to write and record an her soon-to-be released Violent Femmes tribute album, in which she re-imagined and reworked the original material into haunting and dreamy shoegaze.
BETS’ Violent Femmes album’s first single was a slow-burning rework of “Blister in the Sun“in which guitars were fed through layers of distortion, fuzz and feedback paired with gently padded drumming and BETS’ dreamily distracted vocals to craft a version of the song that slowly pulls apart the song’s familiar melody and chorus in a way that’s both ethereal and moody. The album’s latest single is a radically different rendition of “Gone Daddy Gone”/”I Just Want to Make Love to You” that nods at David Lynch and 60s bubblegum pop as twinkling percussion, shuffling drumming and dramatic bursts of guitar are paired with BETS’ coquettish and bratty vocals. Whereas the original possessed a neurotic and urgent need, BETS’ rendition sounds how I would imagine someone like Nancy Sinatra doing it — swinging and sensual as hell.
Arguably best known for fronting Portuguese breakbeat outfit The Bombazines with whom she recorded and released two full-length albums, Porto, Portugal-born and based vocalist Marta Ren has been a vital part of the Portuguese music scene since the mid-1990s as she’s also lent her vocals to a number of nationally known acts in her homeland and played at some of the country’s most renowned clubs and festivals. However, Ren has a long passion for the deep funk and soul of the 60s and she decided that it was time for her to go solo and front her own project under her own name, eventually hooking up with backing band The Groovelets.
Marta Ren and The Groovelets’ debut effort Stop Look Listen was released to critical praise earlier this year and has received airplay from BBC Radio 6’s Craig Charles, Radio France’s Francis Viel. Adding to a growing international profile Acid Jazz Records’ Eddie Piller has also championed Ren and her Groovelets.
Stop Look Listen’s third single “So Long” is a viscerally emotional, furious, sensual, barn-burning track in which Ren’s soulful and aching wailing with the tight and soulful Groovelets who emphasize the ache and fury in Ren’s vocals with warm, explosive blasts of horns, shimmering bluesy, guitar chords and a propulsive backbeat with a decided psychedelic-leaning. And much like fellow Record Kicks Records labelmates Hannah Williams and the Affirmations, Ren and her Groovelets are set to take over the world, as they pair a powerhouse vocalist with a backing band that can seriously compete with the world famous Dap Kings — while in the case of Marta Ren and the Groovelets’ “So Long” thematically and sonically nods at Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and James Bond soundtracks.
Filmed and directed by Marco Olivera, the recently released music video manages heavily nod at Quentin Tarantino films as Ren is superimposed over black and white stock footage of cities and city traffic at night, 40s big bands and other footage, which further emphasizes the retro feel and sound.
Influenced by Fleetwood Mac, Carole King, Janis Joplin, The Pretenders, Crosby Stills and Nash, Carly Simon, The Mamas and the Papas and First Aid Kit, Georgie is a 21 year-old, up-and-coming, Nottingham, UK-based singer/songwriter, who caught the attention of the folks at Spacebomb Records — the label home of Natalie Prass and Julien Baker — for a vocal style that sounds straight out of the mid 1960s and for a lyrical bent that belies her years. Her debut single “Company of Thieves” pairs her husky and soulful vocals with a wah-wah pedaled guitar, a strutting horn arrangement, a sinuous bass line, a steady backbeat and an infectious hook in a carefully crafted song that will remind most listeners of Amy Winehouse, Nancy Sinatra and others.