Throughout the past summer, I’ve written quite a bit about the Glasgow, Scotland-based synth pop act Free Love, and since their formation back in 2014 under the name Happy Meals, the act which is comprised of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook quickly established themselves as one of Scotland’s most acclaimed, contemporary electronic music acts; in fact, their 2015 full-length debut Apero received a Scottish Album of the Year nod. And adding to a growing profile. the duo has opened for Liars and The Flaming Lips, and played sets at festivals in Austin, TX, Moscow, and Bangalore.
With the release of “Synchronicity,” a track that may remind some listeners of Nu Shooz‘s “I Can’t Wait,” and New Order‘s “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle, the duo further cemented their reputation for crafting utopian-leaning and brainy dance pop centered around shimmering analog synths. As the duo explained in press notes, the song is breaking free from the binds of culturally dictated self-limitation, coupled with the vertigo of complete freedom. The Scottish synth pop duo released two more singles, the ecstatic Giorgio Moroder and New Wave-like “Pushing Too Hard,” and the acid-house-like “July,” which brought Come With Us-era Chemical Brothers and Tweekend-era Crystal Method to mind. The duo’s forthcoming EP Luxury Hits is slated for a November 9, 2018 release and the EP’s latest single “Playing As Punks” will further cement the Scottish duo’s reputation for crafting 80s inspired synth-based New Wave — in this case, much like “Synchronicity,” taking its cues directly from early New Order and early house music as the track sonically is centered around arpeggiated synths, industrial clang-like drum programming and an soaring yet infectious hook; but underneath the dance floor friendly vibes, the song focuses on being here in this very brief moment with the understanding and acceptance of the fact that it won’t last.
Last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based post-punk act Sextile, and as you may recall since the act’s inception in 2015, they’ve earned a devout following, as a result of an explosive live show and non-stop touring as both as an opener and as a headliner with the likes of A Place to Bury Strangers, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, The Soft Moon, Ought, ADULT., The Chameleons, Modern English and others. Adding to a growing profile, they’ve also played sets at Bersekertown, Cloak & Dagger and Levitation Festivals.
Interestingly, over that same year period, the act has gone through a massive lineup change that finds the act writing, recording and performing as a duo featuring Brady Keehn and Melissa Scaduto. Naturally, as a result of the lineup changes, Kehn and Scaduto have radically reinvented their sound with a move towards synths with minimal use of guitar; in fact, on their recently released EP, EP3, the duo use a KORG MS-10 sequencer, a Fender Stratocaster, a LinnDrum and various other percussion-based instruments to craft a decidedly industrial synth-based sound. Additionally, the duo cite futurist Luigi Russolo’s The Art of Noises as an influence on their approach, as their sound and songwriting is meant to evoke and mirror the chaos and brutality of the industrial era. EP single “Spun” was centered around explosive squealing bursts of guitar, scorching synths, thumping beats, industrial clang and clatter and a motorik-ike groove, and it some way the song found the band meshing the aesthetics of Gang of Four and classic DFA Records (i.e., early LCD Soundsystem and Echoes-era The Rapture) while hinting a bit at Bay City Rollers‘ “Saturday Night,” thanks to its punchily delivered vocals. “Disco,” EP 3’s latest single may argaubly be the most dance floor friendly song they’ve ever released as it sonically brings Yaz’s “Situation,” New Order’s “Blue Monday” and Ministry to mind, as it’s centered around a production of layers arpeggiated synths, industrial clang and clatter and a motorik groove — but lyrically, as the duo note,t he song’s lyrics focus on the lack of time to do anything productive or constructive, DIY spaces being shut down, gun control and constant media propaganda in a way that evokes our increasingly cynical, paranoid and uncertain world. Civilization as we know it is collapsing before our eyes, and we might as well dance, dance, dance, dance, dance.
Keehn and Scaduto directed the video and as they mention in press notes, visually and aesthetically, the slickly shot black and white treatment was deeply influenced by the New German Wave.
Earlier this summer, I wrote about Glasgow, Scotland-based synth pop act Free Love, and as you may recall since their formation under the name Happy Meals back in 2014, the duo comprised of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook quickly established themselves as one of their homeland’s most acclaimed dance pop acts. Their 2015 full-length debut Apero was nominated for Scottish Album of the Year. Adding to a growing profile, the duo opened for Liars and The Flaming Lips, and played sets at festivals in Austin, TX, Moscow, and Bangalore.
With the release of “Synchronicity,” a track that may remind some listeners of Nu Shooz‘s “I Can’t Wait,” and New Order‘s “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle, the duo further cemented their reputation for crafting utopian-leaning and brainy dance pop centered around shimmering analog synths; in fact, as the duo explained in press notes, the song is about breaking free fro the binds of culturally dictated self-limitation, coupled with the vertigo of complete freedom. After playing at The Great Escape Festival, the duo have sets lineup at Bestival and will be supporting Django Django at the Edinburgh International Festival later this month; but in the meantime, the duo have released two new singles — the ecstatic, Giorgio Moroder and 80s New Wave-like “Pushing Too Hard,” which is centered around arpeggiated, analog synths and thumping beats, over which Rodden sings lyrics in an ethereal yet sultry French. “July,” on the other hand takes its cues from acid house, centered around distorted synths, explosive blasts of hi hat, thumping beats — and in some way the track reminds me of Come With Us-era Chemical Brothers and Tweekend-era Crystal Method.
The decidedly DIY visuals for “Pushing Too Hard” and “July” manage to nod at Andy Warhol and The Factory, as well as 80s-era MTV as it’s a weird yet successful balance of insouciance, brooding, coquettishness and surrealism.
Over the past three years I’ve written a bit about the New York-based indie rock/electro pop outfit Stereo Off, and as you may recall, the band initially was the solo project of its frontman and founding member Sebastian Marciano before expanding into a quintet featuring an eclectic array of friends and collaborators from NYC and London. Within a year or so of expanding into a full-fledged band, the band had played at a number of renowned venues across town including The Knitting Factory, Glasslands Gallery and others. Adding to growing profile, the members of Stereo Off had their music featured in several short films that made the national film festival circuit, and they promptly released their first two recorded efforts — 2014’s New York EP and 2015’s The Long Hot Winter EP, an effort which helped land a CMJ Festival appearance.
After a series of lineup changes, the band has settled into a core trio that features its founder and frontman, Nial Madden, a longtime guitarist, who switched to bass on most of the material that comprises their most recent effort, EP III and multi-instrumentalist Bridget Fitzgerald. Naturally, with a lineup change, its common for a band to have a corresponding change of songwriting approach and sonic direction — and in the case of the JOVM mainstays, their sound had generally leaned heavily in the direction of New Order, Primal Scream and Nine Inch Nails-like synth pop/synth rock, featuring the occasional violin arrangement; however, EP III’s latest single “Sunsetting” may arguably be the most summery single they’ve released to date, while finding the band expanding upon their sound with the song seemingly nodding at Avalon-era Roxy Music, thanks to James McElwaine’s soulful and sultry saxophone lines, 80s synth funk and contemporary electro pop in a slick, seamless fashion.
Directed by Deviant Children Productions’ Nicholas Ortiz, the recently released video features the band and James McElwaine performing the song in an 80s-like night club and stars Krystal Pizarro, Sasha A Wilson and Aleks Ivanovic, some fuzzy VHS-like tape hiss and static, a car chase and some steamy, late night hooking up between two of the video’s protagonists — all of which evoke wild, Miami Vice-like summer nights in the city.
Slated for an August 3, 2018 release through Phantasy Sound, Physical is the full-length solo debut from Factory Floor‘s co-founder Gabe Gurnsey, and from “Eyes Out,” the album’s first single, the album’s material is a decided change in sonic direction and approach from his work with Factory Floor; instead of the icy, no wave electronica and industrial techno he’s best known for, Physical’s first single was sensual Chicago-styled house music-inspired sound centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and enormous crowd pleasing hooks. Arguably, it’s among the most straightforward and club-friendly material Gurnsey has ever written or recorded — while sonically bearing a resemblance to Octo Octa’s impressive Between Two Selves. “What I wanted to get into with Physical had to do with exploring songwriting and structure,” Gurnsey explains in press notes. “The album is very escapist in one sense even though I don’t want to escape from Factory Floor but what I do on my own has to be separate and it has to explore new avenues.” As for the new single, Gurnsey says “I wanted to use the vehicle of a 4/4 track to set up a simulated night club. To communicate the feeling that comes when we are losing ourselves in that love/lust- filled situation.
“Harder Rhythm,” Physical‘s second and latest single is a sensual, primal, lust-filled track centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats — but unlike it’s predecessor it finds Gurnsey leaning a bit more towards industrial house, with the track sounding as though it were inspired by Yaz‘s “Situation” and New Order‘s “Blue Monday.” As Gurnsey explains, “When writing ‘Harder Rhythm’ I was drawing from the two very connected basic primal instincts of sexual attraction and our instilled affinity with rhythm. It’s a straight up celebration of both and the associated feelings of euphoria and tension. A love for the very first drum machine beat I ever heard on Michael Jackson‘s ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” definitely made its way in.”
Unsurprisingly, the album’s material is based around a larger narrative in which the album’s material is meant to evoke a night out from start to finish. “It’s a record about clubbing, even more than it’s a record to played in clubs,” Gurney says. “Getting ready to go out, driving into town, arriving at the club, being on the dance floor, how you get home afterwards, early the next morning . . . even when you step outside to get some air, when you’re outside at 3am having a cigarette . . . even that is represented here.”
Gurnsey will be opening for Nine Inch Nails for three dates, during part of their Midwestern tour. Check out the tour dates below:
Since their formation under the name Happy Meals in 2014 at Glasgow, Scotland’s The Green Door Studio, best known for being the birthplace of a number of local DIY bands, including renowned acts Golden Teacher and Total Leatherette, Free Love, comprised of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook quickly established themselves as one of their homeland’s most acclaimed dance pop acts, as their 2015 full-length effort Apero was nominated for Scottish Album of the Year. Adding to a growing profile, the band opened for the likes of Liars and The Flaming Lips, and played sets at festivals in Austin, TX, Moscow, and Bangalore. Despite their recent change in name, the duo further cements their reputation for utopian and somewhat brainy dance pop experiments with their dance floor friendly. shimmering, 80s synth pop and New Wave-inspired single “Synchronicity.” While the track may remind some listeners of Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait,” and New Order’s “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle,” the song is about breaking from the binds of culturally dictated self-limitation, coupled with the vertigo of complete freedom.
Shot by Harrison Reid and Omar Aborida and edited by Gary McQuiggan, the recently released video for “Synchronicity” was filmed at Carlton Studios and features friends of the band as four different “bands” with four different backdrops. But as the band’s Lewis Cook explains to The Quietus, “I wanted it to look like a Sparks video or something like that. I like videos where it’s just a band playing. But because the track is all electronic music, it’s just us with drum machines and synthesizers. So we thought it’d be cool to do this thing you used to see in the 90s where people had clearly made a track on a sampler.” As Suzi Rodden adds, “but they’re kidding on that they’re playing all these instruments in their video. Big bass guitars and full drum kits and maracas and stuff.”
John Glenn Kunkel is a Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and producer, who has released three critically applauded albums, four EPs and a number of remixes with his solo recording project The New Division. Kunkel’s work has received millions of Spotify streams, and adding to a growing profile, Kunkel has been covered in major media outlets like Pitchfork and The Guardian.
Kunkel’s soon-to-be released Fader EP will further cement the Los Angeles-based electronic music artist and producer’s reputation for crafting cinematic and moody synth pop that immediately brings Depeche Mode, New Order, Umberto and others to mind; in fact, the EP’s first single, the dance floor friendly, opening track “One Night in Tokyo” is centered around slick production featuring a motorik-like groove, propulsive boom bap-like beats, shimmering, arpeggiated synths and a soaring hook; but underneath the dance floor friendly sounds are melancholy lyrics based on a failed trans-Pacific love affair that has haunted the song’s narrator, which create an interesting and ironic juxtaposition within the song.
If you’ve been frequenting this site over the years, you’ve come across a few posts featuring the Melbourne, Australia-based, internationally renowned, indie electro pop act Miami Horror, and as you may recall, the act, which initially formed as a quartet comprised of founding member Benjamin Plant (production), along with Joshua Moriarty (vocals, guitar), Aaron Shanahan (guitar, vocals and production) and Daniel Whitchurch (bass, keys, guitar) released two critically praised albums — their 2010 full-length debut Illumination, which was praised for a sound that drew from Cut Copy, New Order, Prince, Michael Jackson, E.L.O., and their 2013 sophomore effort All Possible Futures, a breezy and summery club banger, inspired by the time the quartet spent in Southern California.
After touring to support All Possible Futures, the band went on an informal hiatus with the band’s Benjamin Plant becoming an in-demand songwriting, co-writing tracks for Client Liaison and Roland Tings, among others. And somehow, the exceptionally busy Plant managed to also find time to write new Miami Horror material — material that would eventually comprise their conceptional EP, The Shapes, an effort that found the newly constituted trio’s sound drawing from Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads, Caribbean funk and African percussion while retaining elements of the sound that won them international attention, as you’d hear on the hook-heavy single “Lelia.”
Interestingly, although he’s best known as the vocal behind Miami Horror, Joshua Moriarty has stepped out from behind the band with the release of his solo debut album, War Is Over and while the album’s second single “All I Want Is You” leans much more towards the his work with Miami Horror with nods to Giorgio Moroder-era disco and Tame Impala-like psych pop, the album’s first single “R.T.F.L.” is a decided change in sonic direction with the song leaning towards contemporary electro pop and electro soul — and while there is a plaintive and carnal sensuality within the song that feels expected, the song also manages to possess a thoughtful earnest, based on actual, lived-in, personal experience.
Directed by Thomas Russell and filmed by David McKinner, and starring Joshua Moriarty and Morgan Rayner, the recently released video is a surreal and feverish dream that undulates with a carnal vulnerability and need.
Comprised of founding duo Albert Kawmi and Calum Muir, along with four other collaborators, the Glasgow, Scotland, UK-based electro pop act Sun Rose, which specializes in what the act has dubbed “maximalist, melodramatic, funk-pop” can trace their origins back to about 2008 when they formed under the name Nevada Base. And during the period of roughly 2008 – 2013, the band, along with Gus Wemyss had been extremely active in Glasgow’s music scene, until the act’s founding duo got sidetracked with serious life issues — jobs and raising families.
As the story goes, the duo had begun recording an album in 2014 and the recordings had sat dormant for over year, until the act’s former member Wemyss returned to Glasgow and began to finalized many of the album’s arrangements and flesh out the material. When the act’s founding duo heard the completed album, they were so impressed that it needed to be released. As the band explained in an email to me, the completed album re-focused the members of the band to start over with a new name — Sun Rose. But despite the change in name, the band’s latest album, The Essential Luxury Album will further cement their reputation for crafting slickly produced, dance floor friendly synth pop; in fact, the album’s first single “Smirk,” will remind some listeners of mid 80s New Order, Cut Copy and No Zu, as a propulsive and sinuous bass line, shimmering synths and call and response vocals are paired with layers of percussion and enormous hooks. And while also subtly leaning at house music, the song manages to be arguably one of the most dance floor friendly songs I’ve come across this year.
Filmed by James Vincent Gillespie and Brian Sweeney on location in Sweeney’s kitchen and in the homes of many of the Last Night from Glasgow crew, the video employs fittingly 80s-inspired graphics and animations in a creepily psychedelic fashion.