Over the course of the past 13 months or so, I’ve spilled copious amounts of ink covering the frenetically prolific, French electronic music artist, producer and JOVM mainstay LutchamaK. And during that 13 month period, the French JOVM mainstay has released an incredibly array of EPs, standalone singles and albums that features material that generally draws from techno, while reflecting a lifelong love of eclecticism, as his work frequently possesses elements of deep house and EDM among other electronic music genres, styles and sub-genres.
Pierre Grech is a Toulon, France-based singer/songwriter, composer, producer and guitarist, who has long been influenced by folk, indie rock, hip hop, jazz, contemporary classical and electronica. Grech began writing songs as a child but he can trace the origins of his music career to the early 2000s: He was the frontman of experimental electronica act SLiDD — and around the same time, he co-wrote and arranged material on three Jen H. Ka albums.
As a solo artist and bandleader, Grech has played shows across Paris and Southern France with re-arranged and re-imagined renditions of his material in several different iterations including electro rock, acoustic, cello-guitar duo, rock trio and more. But over the past few years, the French singer/songwriter, guitarist, composer, arranger and producer has been refining and honing his songwriting and compositional approach, as well as his guitar playing. The en result is Grech’s latest project _telemaque_, which finds the Toulon-based artist drawing from his long-held influences while crafting energetic and sensitive pop.
Grech’s _telemaque_ debut, June EP was released last Wednesday and the EP’s latest single, EP title track “June” is a gorgeous and deliberately crafted track featuring shimmering acoustic guitar, Grech’s plaintive falsetto, propulsive drumming and a soaring hook. And while sonically bringing OK Computer-era Radiohead and JOVM mainstays Husky to mind, the song is centered around earnest lyricism and accessible, pop-leaning songwriting.
Beyond the recording of the album, a collaboration with New York artist Dani Choi is underway to illustrate each track on the album.
Throughout the course of this site’s decade-plus history, I’ve spilled copious amounts of virtual ink covering JOVM mainstays HAERTS. Tracing their origins back to a budding high school romance in Munich, the acclaimed indie pop act have evolved as its founding (and core) duo — Nini Fabi (vocals) and Benny Gebert (keys, guitar) — have evolved: HAERTS was formed when the duo met their now-former bandmates while studying at Berklee College of Music. And upon graduation, the quintet relocated to Brooklyn, where they quickly built up a profile and released their major label, self-titled, Jean-Philip Grobler-produced. full-length debut.
After a series of lineup changes, the JOVM mainstays settled to its current lineup — its founding and core duo — and relocated to the Upstate New York woods, where they wrote and recorded their sophomore album, 2018’s New Compassion. Since the release of New Compassion, Fabi and Gebert have fully embraced their multi-national roots by splitting time between Berlin and New York. Around the same time, the duo have found themselves fueled by a renewed spirit of collaboration with artists and visual artists they’ve long admired, including Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste and Julian Klincewicz, who they worked with on POWER/LAND.
As you may recall, the duo’s third album Dream Nation is slated for a March 12, 2021 release, and reportedly the album’s material is marked by a sense of urgent intensity: Fabi and Gebert wrote the album over the course of about a month — and as soon as they finished, they recorded most of the album with their touring band during a week-long, live recording session in New York. Then they went to Los Angeles, where they put the finishing touches on the album and collaborated with Ed Droste on the album’s first single “For the Sky.”
Sonically, Dream Nation will continue to draw their long-held comparisons to Fleetwood Mac and First Aid Kit, but with subtle nods at Portishead and Lamb. “We went into the studio without setting limits or parameters other than that we wanted to make a record that moves you emotionally and physically,” Fabi and Gebert explain. “We wanted it to feel like an invitation into the strange and fantastical night time world, like the songs they play just before the lights come on, when the party is almost over, and the polish is gone.”
I’ve written about two of the album’s released singles:
- The aforementioned “For the Sky.” Prominently featuring Fabi’s gorgeous vocals, shimmering guitars, persistent drumming, a soaring hook and a guest spot from Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste, “For the Sky” continues a run of carefully crafted pop centered around lived-in lyricism.
- “It’s Too Late” is a glistening, hook-driven pop confection that sonically — to my ears, at least — is a slick synthesis of Fleetwood Mac, Shuggie Otis, Avalon-era Roxy Music.
“Shivering,” Dream Nation’s latest single is centered around an arpeggiated organ groove, stuttering four-on-the-floor, a shimmering guitar solo, jazz funk and disco vibes and Fabi’s gorgeous and plaintive vocals. But just under the sinuous, dance floor friendly surface, there’s something much darker — with the song subtly evoking the desperate attempt to get one’s quickly racing mind in check.
“The song came from this organ groove Benny came up with and the onomatopoeic quality of the word ‘Shivering’ itself,” HAERTS’ Fabi explains in press notes. “It’s about the obsession and attraction of the things which give us anxiety and disturb us. In a way it’s our soundtrack to a panic attack.”
Throughout the course of last year, I wrote a bit about the rising Toulouse, France-based singer/songwriter Laure Briard. Briard has had an uncommon path to professional music: the French singer/songwriter bounced around several different interests and passions, including studying literature and criminology, and even doing a bit of acting before concentrating on music full-time on music back in 2013.
The Toulouse-based singer/songwriter initially signed with Tricatel Records, who released her debut EP. After the EP’s release, Briard met with Juilen Gasc and Eddy Cramps and began working on what would become her attention grabbing full-length debut, 2015’s Révélation, an effort inspired by Françoise Hardy, Margo Guryan and Vashti Bunyan that featured a very modern and poetic lyricism. She then signed with Midnight Special Records, who released her sophomore album, 2016’s Sur la Piste de Danse.
Since Sur la Pisa de Danse, Briard’s work has increasingly been influenced by Bossa nova: 2018’s Coração Louco, featured lyrics written and sung in Portuguese — and a guest spot from acclaimed Brazilian JOVM mainstays and Latin Grammy Award nominated act Boogarins. 2019’s Un peu plus d’amour s’il vous plâit, which was released through Michel Records in Canada, Midnight Special Records in Europe and Burger Records here in the States continued Briard’s ongoing love affair with Bossa nova and Brazilian music.
Slated for a February 19, 2021 through Michel Records in North America, Dinosaur City Records in Australia and Midnight Special Records in Europe, the Toulouse-based singer/songwriter’s forthcoming EP En Voo sees Briard continuing her successful collaboration with Boogarins, as well as with her longtime collaborators Vincent Guyot, a.k.a. Octopus and Marius Duflot. If you were frequenting this site over the course of last year, you may recall that I wrote about En VOO’s first single, EP title track “En Voo,” 60s Scott Walker-like orchestral psych pop meets 70s AM radio rock-like take on Bossa nova, featuring Briard’s ethereal vocals cooing in Portuguese, twinkling Rhodes, shimmering guitars and jazz-fusion that evokes the swooning euphoria of reuniting with a long-lost love.
“Supertrama,” En Voo’s second and latest single continues in a similar vein as its predecessor: 60s Scott Walker-like orchestral psych pop meets 70s AM rock featuring twinkling piano, shuffling jazz-like drumming, a sinuous bass line, a regal horn arrangement, angular bursts of guitar and a soaring hook within an expansive yet breezy song arrangement. But just underneath the breezy surface, the song evokes a familiar bittersweet ache. The track can trace its origins to a piano melody that Briard wrote in France. She then took the track too Brazilian musician and composer Giovanni Cidreira, who helped write the song’s lyrics. The track, along with the rest of the EP was recorded in São Paulo-based Dissenso Studio with Boogarins as her backing band.
“I met Giovani through the Boogarins, who he both collaborates and shares a friendship with,” Briard says of her collaboration with Cidreira. “I admire Giovani’s voice, his words, his stories, and the possibility of working with him one day quickly became a reality. Once I’d written the melody of ‘Supertrama,’ I took the plunge and asked Giovani if he would write the lyrics with me. He took the melody and wrote lyrics which don’t quite tell a story, but rather feelings, impressions, and memories. Just like the rest of the EP, the arrangements were made in real time in the studio. Pieuvre Convex was responsible for the final modulation of the track – he’s a king in that area!”
Singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer Christopher Goett may be best known for his work in Silo Halo. And after a decade stint in Washington, D.C., Goett returned to Los Angeles — and he quickly amassed a growing collection of songs. Interestingly, Goett credits his longtime friend, Sleepmask’s and Dreamland’s Adam D’Zurilla with encouraging him to further explore and expand upon those early song ideas. The end result is Goett’s latest project, the post punk/shoegaze act Blackout Transmission.
With the addition of Kevin Cluppert (bass) and Teenage’s Wrist’s Anthony Salazar (drums), the band’s lineup was solidified, and their sound and arrangements were fleshed out. Late last year, the members of Blackout Transmission started playing shows, developing and harnessing their live chemistry before they went to Long Beach-based Dream Machine Studio to record most of their Scott Holmes co-produced, eight song, full-length debut, Sparse Illumination. “Scott pushed me in the best way to reimagine elements of my approach” says Goett, “as such we captured the vibe and feel that I was seeking with these songs.”
As a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, Goett was forced to finalize his overdubs at his home studio, Twin Dragon West, where he wound up writing and recording two of the album’s eight songs. Despite where the material was written and recorded, the end result is an album that finds the band crafting material that’s a seamless lysergic journey seemingly influenced by Echo and the Bunnymen, The Verve, and others.
Late last year, I wrote about Sparse Illumination‘s first single, the brooding and expansive “Portals,” a track centered round a sinuous bass line, thunderous drumming, swirling reverb and delay pedaled guitar that possessed the painterly and lysergic textures of The Verve’s A Storm in Heaven. The album’s second single “Heavy Circles,” continues a bit in the vein of its immediate predecessor — brooding and shimmering atmospherics paired with dramatic and forceful drumming; but while having the sort of dusty, desert road quality that reminds me of Starfish and Gold Afternoon Fix-era The Church.
Sparse Illumination is slated for a February 19, 2021 through Etxe Records.
Early last year, Foo Fighters — Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, and Rami Jaffee — finished work on what would eventually become their tenth full-length album, the Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters co-produced Medicine at Midnight. At the time, Grohl and company intended for the album’s release to coincide with a massive world tour that the applauded act was about to embark on to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. But like countless other acts around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a monkey wrench into their plans.
Because of the uncertainty of the situation, the members of the band waited for a while, trying to figure out what their next steps were, but eventually they all came to the realization that music is meant to be heard, no matter“whether it’s in a festival field with 50,000 of our coolest friends or alone in your living room or on a Saturday night with a stiff cocktail,” the band’s Dave Grohl wrote in an letter accompanying press notes.
Now, as you may recall, Foo Fighters’ tenth album Medicine at Midnight is slated for a February 5, 2021 release through Roswell Records/RCA Records — and they managed to start off the New Year with the enormous arena rock friendly ripper “No Son of Mine,” a track that nods at Ace of Spades-era Mötorhead, Kill ’em All-era Metallica and Queen‘s “Stone Cold Crazy, complete with anthemic, raise-your-beer-in-the-air and shout along worthy hooks.
Medicine at Midnight’s third and latest single “Waiting On A War” continues a remarkable run of arena rock anthems — but in this case, the new single manages to pull from several different Foo Fighters eras — The Colour and the Shape, There Is Nothing Left to Lose and One By One in particular come to mind as a result of its song structure: Beginning with acoustic guitar and string arrangement driven verses and an enormous, rousingly anthemic hook, the song slowly builds up in intensity until the 3:15 mark or so, when the song turns into a cathartic explosion of power chords and thunderous drumming. Lyrically, the song manages to recall ’80s anthems like Nena’s “99 Luftballons,” Sting’s “Russians” and others, and it seems to suggest, much like the old saying, “the more things change, the more things remain the same.” Decades have changed, and we still seem to be on brink of our own annihilation . . .
Interestingly, as Dave Grohl explains in press notes, the song is inspired by personal events — and may be among the more personal songs in the band’s extensive catalog:
“Last fall, as I was driving my daughter to school, she turned to me and asked, ‘Daddy, is there going to be a war?’ My heart sank as I realized that she was now living under the same dark cloud that I had felt 40 years ago,” Grohl recalls.
I wrote ‘Waiting on a War’ that day.
Everyday waiting for the sky to fall. Is there more to this than that? Is there more to this than just waiting on a war? Because I need more. We all do.
This song was written for my daughter, Harper, who deserves a future, just as every child does. “
Toronto-based psych rock duo Lammping — vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mikhail Galkin and drummer Jay Anderson — released their critically applauded full-length debut Bad Boys of Comedy last summer. The album, which featured the noise rock meets shoegazer-like “Greater Good,” helped the band establishing a fresh and eclectic approach to psychedelia while eschewing easy categorization, with the material drawing from Tropicalia, Turkish psych, New York boom-bap hip hop beats and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
Shortly after the release of Bad Boys of Comedy, the Canadian psych rock duo started working on a new batch of songs, songs that found the duo further pushing the boundaries of psych music in new directions. While their newest material is still rooted in Anderson’s thunderous drumming and Galkin’s melodic riff, the duo have added samples, drum machines and some expanded instrumentation, adding to their overall sonic palate. The end result, New Jaws EP is equally indebted to Stereolab, De La Soul, Kraftwerk, Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer and Sleep. As the duo explain in press notes, the EP serves as a bridge to their sophomore, full-length album an effort that reportedly will find the Canadian duo eschewing cliched stoner and psych rock tropes while attempting to find a new path in heavy music.
“Jaws of Life,” New Jaws EP‘s latest single is a trippy song centered around a morphing and mind-bending song structure: the song’s heavy metal-like first half is centered round Anderson’s thunderous drumming, Galkin’s fuzzy, Black Sabbath-like riffs and distorted vocals. But roughly half way through the song, it quickly turns into a jazzy and lysergic jam featuring twinkling keys, and an extended, wah wah pedaled guitar solo. Sonically, the track is a heady synthesis of 70s AM rock, psych rock and grunge with enormous hooks.
Inspired by Squid, Fiona Apple, and MGMT among others, rising London-based experimental act Pushpin have developed and established a sound that features elements of post punk, synth-driven psych rock and chamber pop. So far the band has been featured on BBC Radio London, BBC Music Introducing, and Soho Radio. Adding to a growing reputation for crafting forward-thinking and adventurous sound, the members of the band have written and produced theatrical soundtracks at the Camden People’s Theatre — and they’ve provided original compositions for XR London.
The rising British act begins 2021 with the self-produced, self-recorded, self-mixed and self-mastered “Folds.” Featuring thumping, tribal-like toms, snarling and scuzzy guitar lines and fuzzy synths, the breakneck “Folds” is centered around alternating quiet sections with explosive, rousingly anthemic choruses. While thematically the song explores the elusiveness of self-love and affirmation in our world. it manages to simultaneously capture a narrator, who seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown, employing mantras as an attempt to calm himself.
Nation of Language is a Brooklyn-based synth pop trio — Ian Richard Devaney (vocals, guitars, percussion), Aidan Noell (synth, vocals) and Michael Sue-Poi (bass) — that can trace its origins back to 2016. At the time Devaney and Sue-Poi were members of The Static Joys, a band that became largely inactive after the release of their sophomore album. As the story goes, Devaney was inspired to start a new project after hearing OMD’s “Electricity,” a track he listened to in his childhood while in his father’s car.
What initially stated out as Devaney fooling around on a keyboard quickly evolved to Nation of Language with the addition of Noell and Sue-Poi. Between 2016 and 2019, the act released a handful of singles that helped them build up a fanbase locally and elsewhere. (Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site, you may recall that I caught them open for JOVM mainstays Still Corners a couple of years ago.)
The trio’s debut effort, last year’s Introduction, Presence was released to critical praise, landing on the Best Albums of 2020 lists for Rough Trade, KEXP, Paste, Stereogum, Under The Radar and PopMatters. Nation of Language capped off 2020 with a 7 inch single “A Different Kind of Light”/”Deliver Me From Wondering Why” — and to start off 2021, the rising Brooklyn-based synth pop trio recently released the 7 inch’s B side “Deliver Me From Wondering Why.”
“Deliver Me From Wonder Why” is chilly synth pop bop centered around repetitious and trance-inducing synth arpeggios and a persistent motorik groove that has a decidedly 80s vibe — in particular, you can’t help but think of A Flock of Seagulls, Simple Minds, and others. “‘Deliver Me From Wondering Why’ is a bit of an exploration, rooted in a desire for something repetitious and a bit spacey – something that would make you really want to zone out or go on a long drive on the highway,” Nation of Language’s Ian Richard Devaney says in press notes. “We worked with Nick Millhiser (Holy Ghost!) and it was just a really fun exercise in letting the track carry us wherever it was going to go. The backbone of the steady synth arpeggios and rhythms just leads endlessly forward and lets the mind wander around it.”
Pieter Herweijer is an emerging, 28 year-old, The Hague-based electronic music DJ and producer, who specializes in EDM, tech house and neo-disco. His latest single “But I Like It” is self-assured club friendly, deep house banger centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, skittering beats and a soulful vocal sample — and sonically, the song manages to bring Octo Octa‘s Between Two Selves to mind but with a subtly Middle Eastern vibe.