Tag: PopMatters

Lyric Video: Nation of Language Returns with A Motorik Groove Driven Bop

Rising Brooklyn-based synth pop trio Nation of Language — — Ian Richard Devaney (vocals, guitars, percussion), Aidan Noell (synth, vocals) and Michael Sue-Poi (bass) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Devaney and Sue-Poi were members off The Static Joys, a band that became largely inactive after the release of that band’s sophomore album. And as the story goes, Devaney was inspired to start a new project after hearing OMD‘s “Electricity,” a song he had listened to quite a bit while in his father’s car.

erestingly, what initially started out as Devaney fooling around on a keyboard eventually evolved to Nation of Language with the addition of Noell and Sue-Poi. Between 2016-2019, the Brooklyn-based synth pop trio released a handful of singles that helped to build up a fanbase locally and the outside world.

ast year’s full-length debut, 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. They capped off a massive 2020 with the A Different Kind of Light”/”Deliver Me From Wondering Why” 7 inch, which featured the A Flock of Seagulls and Simple Minds-like “Deliver Me From Wondering Why.”  The act’s latest single “Across That Fine Line” is the first official single off their highly-anticipated sophomore album A Way Forward slated for a November 5, 2021 release.

Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a relentless motorik groove, a rousingly anthemic yet dance floor friendly hook and Devaney’s plaintive vocals, “Across That Fine Line” continues a run of crowd pleasing and decidedly 80s inspired material; if you’re a child of the 80s A Flock of Seagulls and few others come to mind.

‘Across That Fine Line’ is a reflection on that moment when a non-romantic relationship flips into something different,” Nation of Language’s Devaney explains in press notes. “When the air in the room suddenly feels like it changes in an undefinable way. It’s a kind of celebration of that certain joyous panic, and the uncertainty that surfaces right after it.  

“Sonically, it’s meant to feel like running down a hill, just out of control. I had been listening to a lot of Thee Oh Sees at the time of writing it and admiring the way they supercharge krautrock rhythms and imbue them with a kind of mania, which felt like an appropriate vibe to work with and make our own.”
 

Lyric Video: Creeptones Release a Lush and Hook-Driven Anthem

Toms River, NJ-based indie rock act Creeptones can trace its origins back to 2009 when Carmine Stoppiello’s friend Nico Lucido started sharing lyrics that Lucido had written with Stoppiello. Stoppiello would put Lucido’s lyrics to music with Luicdo creating the visual art to compliment the subsequent releases. The band’s lineup was solidified by the following year: Lucido had left the band — remaining to collaborate on the band’s visuals while Will Hernandez joined the band as a bassist and songwriting partner.

\Needing a drummer for gigs, Stoppiello started grooming his younger brother on the music the band had written up to that point with Stoppiello having his brother play the band’s first gig in 2010. Stoppiello recruited Johnny Vines, who played with him in a previous band, as Creeptones’ lead guitarist — and from his desire to learn from Vines’ experience in professional recording. Between 2012 and 2017, the Toms River-based act played hundreds of shows in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area — mostly in their hometown and in Asbury Park. During that period, they wrote and recorded full-length debut, 2012’s The Creep is Born, which landed on several end-of-year lists.

\The band took part in Hard Rock’s Global Battle of the Bands, finishing ninth out of more than 10,00 entrants. They went on to write and record their sophomore album, Hell + Ice, which received praise from ObscureSound.com and PopMatters, hitting #2 on Submithub’s charts. The album amassed over 50,000 streams and 1,000 Spotify playlist adds.

Feeling like a shake-up was necessary, the members of the Toms River-based band took a break from live shows in 2016 and while working on Hell + Ice, the band began exploring a permanent live-stream setup through Twitch. After generating an income and a following through the streaming site, the band improved their recording/streaming set up to include a drum and keyboard-trigged light show, augmented reality visuals, moving cameras and viewer-trigged effects — all of which were employed to keep the viewer be as engaged as humanly possible. With live-streaming being a made a thing as a result of the pandemic, the band’s move to Twitch seems remarkably prescient.

\The Toms River-based act’s latest single “Vacant Winds” is a slickly produced, lushly layered and anthemic track, centered around shimmering synths, muscular drumming, propulsive bass lines, a chip tune-like guitar solo and arena rock friendly hooks. And while being a decidedly pop leaning track, the song lyrically comes from a deeply lived-in place. “‘Vacant Winds’ was written after longtime Creeptones collaborator and friend Nico Lucido sent me lyrics out of the blue when the pressures of today’s society were really wearing on me,” Creeptones’ Carmine Stoppiello explains. “‘Let go the pain that imprisons you…you know you can drift into present mind,’ a simple phrase that’s easier said than done, but to the willing, it’s a wake-up. Stoppiello goes on to say that the song also touches upon how relationships change as one gets older — often with people growing apart, as life changes them. And although it had been years sine the duo had written a song together, they both felt it was “a chance to share a positive message during a time where most of us could probably use a pick me up.”

Stoppiello adds that the song gave the band an opportunity to use some recently acquired gear — and to push their sound in a new direction. “The drums and vocals in particular were elements of our recordings that we wanted to improve (what band doesn’t) and we’re really satisfied in how quickly some of these new gear/techniques allowed us to finish this track. “The intro on this track uses samples from SNES classics Earthbound and Sim City. There’s a synth lead that the song was initially built around that has a really nice quality to it. The crowd noises from Sim City are fun too, I wonder if anyone will point that out without knowing about it first, some of the elements are lower in the mix, but they add to the texture of the song.”

New Audio: Nation of Language Releases a Chilly ’80s Inspired Bop

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.”

New Video: Complicated Animals Release a Gorgeous animated Visual for Their Acoustic Take on Foo Fighters “Times Like These”

Los Angeles– based duo Complicated Animals— singer/songwriter Monica da Silva and multi-instrumentalist Chad Alger — specializes in what the duo have coined Indie Nova, a mesh of Indie Pop and Bossa nova. Complicated Animals can trace their origins back to 2008: the then-Chicago-based da Silva, who had been wanting to steer her music back to her Brazilian roots had stumbled across Alger’s Craiglist ad seeking someone to start a Brazilian music project with. The duo met during the winter and they survived the cold Chicagoland winter by drinking red wine and black coffee — and at some point, during that haze, Alger picked up a guitar and da Silva made up some lyrics. And the songs they began crafting transported them to the beaches of Brazil.

The duo collaborated on da Silva’s solo album 2010’s Bruce Driscoll-produced Brasilissima, which featured songs written and sung in English and Portuguese. Brasilissima‘s first single “Aí Então”, caught the attention of the blogosphere and Cumbacha Records‘ Jacob Edgar, who featured the track on Putunayo World Music‘s Brazilian Beat compilation. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the duo’s psychedelic “That’s Not The Way” pump dup crowds during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Written and recorded in a cabin in the Michigan woods, the duo’s Complicated Animals 2015 debut, the six song In This Game EP was released to critical praise by PopMatters, who called the effort “a 6 song masterpiece” and the “beginning of a new sound.” Since then da Silva released the haunting and cinematic “Soldado de Amor,” which was featured on the BBC TV dramatic series The Replacement . Last year, In This Game single “Phoenix” was featured in the Netflix’s Last Summer.

Complicated Animals’ latest single find the duo tackling one of my favorite Foo Fighter songs, and arguably one of their biggest hits “Times Like These.” Famously, Foo Fighters released an acoustic version of “Times Like These,” in which Dave Grohl accompanied himself on guitar and piano — and while leaning much closer to the acoustic version, the Complicated Animals cover is a breezier, folkier, Fleetwood Mac-like take on the song. In my book, “Times Like These” is the rare Foo Fighter song that works as an arena rock anthem and as an intimate singer/songwriter ballad, which is a testament to how well written the song is.

As da Silva and Alger explain, they gravitated toward the track, because the lyrics are in line with the events of this past year. “This year sure has been crazy. We’ve all had to slow down, and focus on familial relationships, and close friendships. We believe that these challenging times, are the times that shape us,” the Los Angeles based duo explain. “The most important thing we can do right now, is just be there for each other. We hope to inspire people with some positivity. The world needs more of that.”

The recently released video for the Complicated Animals “Times Like These” cover features some gorgeous, hand drawn and old-timey storybook-like animation by Brazilian visual artist and animator Karla Caprali. The video manages to capture some of the tragic and inspiring events of what may be one of the more difficult years humanity has seen in some time — from the fear, uncertainty and stress of a pandemic, the Black Lives Matter marches in the aftermath of the deaths of George Floyd, Armaud Arbury and others and more. And while we may have gone through so much together — and apart — it feels like there’s a cautious optimism that we can get things right for once.

“Brazilian artist Karla Caprali created this beautiful video to go with our track. She used a traditional animation technique, and drew each frame by hand,” the members of Complicated Animals explain. “She helped us to realize our vision, by featuring some of the major world events of this year. We have all been through a lot, and we could all use some healing.

Los Angeles– based duo Complicated Animals— singer/songwriter Monica da Silva and multi-instrumentalist Chad Alger — specializes in what the duo have coined Indie Nova, a mesh of Indie Pop and Bossa nova. Complicated Animals can trace their origins back to 2008: the then-Chicago-based da Silva, who had been wanting to steer her music back to her Brazilian roots had stumbled across Alger’s Craiglist ad seeking someone to start a Brazilian music project with. The duo met during the winter and they survived the cold Chicagoland winter by drinking red wine and black coffee — and at some point, during that haze, Alger picked up a guitar and da Silva made up some lyrics. And the songs they began crafting transported them to the beaches of Brazil.

The duo collaborated on da Silva’s solo album 2010’s Bruce Driscoll-produced Brasilissima, which featured songs written and sung in English and Portuguese. Brasilissima‘s first single “Aí Então”, caught the attention of the blogosphere and Cumbacha Records‘ Jacob Edgar, who featured the track on Putunayo World Music‘s Brazilian Beat compilation. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the duo’s psychedelic “That’s Not The Way” pump dup crowds during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Written and recorded in a cabin in the Michigan woods, the duo’s Complicated Animals 2015 debut, the six song In This Game EP was released to critical praise by PopMatters, who called the effort “a 6 song masterpiece” and the “beginning of a new sound.” Since then da Silva released the haunting and cinematic “Soldado de Amor,” which was featured on the BBC TV dramatic series The Replacement . Last year, In This Game single “Phoenix” was featured in the Netflix’s Last Summer.

Complicated Animals’ latest single find the duo tackling one of my favorite Foo Fighter songs, and arguably one of their biggest hits “Times Like These.” Famously, Foo Fighters released an acoustic version of “Times Like These,” in which Dave Grohl accompanied himself on guitar and piano — and while leaning much closer to the acoustic version, the Complicated Animals cover is a breezier, folkier, Fleetwood Mac-like take on the song. In my book, “Times Like These” is the rare Foo Fighter song that works as an arena rock anthem and as an intimate singer/songwriter ballad, which is a testament to how well written the song is.

As da Silva and Alger explain, they gravitated toward the track, because the lyrics are in line with the events of this past year. “This year sure has been crazy. We’ve all had to slow down, and focus on familial relationships, and close friendships. We believe that these challenging times, are the times that shape us,” the Los Angeles based duo explain. “The most important thing we can do right now, is just be there for each other. We hope to inspire people with some positivity. The world needs more of that. We’re collaborating with a talented Brazilian artist named Karla Caprali. She has created the song art, and is working on a powerful visual (animated video) to go with the track. We’re staying hopeful for the future. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.’”

Deriving their name from Wallace Stevens’ 1934 poem “The Idea of Order at Key West,” in which Stevens examines the creative powers of the human mind, and “to what extent artists are capable of creating, redefining or mastering the natural world around themselves,” the up-and-coming Brooklyn indie rock act Pale Ramon features two grizzled, New York scene vets — Emanuel and The Fear‘s Emanuel Ayvas (vocals, keys) and former Monuments and Oceanographer Kevin Plessner (guitar).

The duo’s self-titled debut is slated for release next Friday, and the album’s first single,  “Beat Punk” is a fiery call for young people, artists, academics, Progressives, Liberals and Lefties to get off their asses, stop tweeting and get to work towards fixing what’s wrong with the world before it’s too late — and as a result, the song is an ardent an urgent, politically charged rock anthem centered around a breakneck motorik groove, rousing hooks that sonically brings Radiohead and Who Are You-era The Who to mind.

The band’s Plessner wrote to PopMatters that the song is a “melt your face rock song,” adding that “it’s a response to everyone who says, ‘They’re just tweets, don’t take [Trump] literally’ and ‘That’s just how he talks.’ It is an expression of anger and fury at political distortion. It’s about demanding civility and truth.” Ayvas concurs, while also clarifying that he and Plessner are trying to be “objective” with their social commentary. “In this song, we’re more in the narrator’s seat, looking at things playing out and describing the two sides of big emotions going on in the country than preaching from a particular sideline,” he notes.

 

 

 

 

 

Portland, ME-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Alejandra O’Leary was born to a Colombian mother and Irish father. Growing up with a different sounding name, and being a person of color in place where they weren’t many people of color both challenged and shaped her, as she grew up listening to old Beatles records; growing up in Portland instilled feelings of simultaneously being a native and an outsider. “I’ve always been at home with messiness, big emotions and uncertainty,” O’Leary reflects in press notes. “I guess that’s why I like rock n roll.”

After moving to Santiago Chile when she was 17 O’Leary became infatuated with the idea of idea of creating music and followed her muse across the world for over a decade, writing, recording and releasing four albums with lyrics in both Spanish and English, which featured an expansive mix of anthemic Top 40 pop melodies, retro soul flourishes and power chord rock that received praise from the likes of No Depression, PopMatters and Magnet. Adding to a growing profile, O’Leary has opened for the likes of Guster and Asobi Seksu.

In 2016, O’Leary returned to Portland with her newborn baby and the intention of recording a new album. Never one to follow formulas, the Portland, ME-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist rounded up a group of hand-picked local musicians and sent them the demos of the material that would eventually comprise her forthcoming album Everest. No other instructions were given, and when they were all arrived in the studio to record the album, it was made clear that they were going to improvise the final arrangement. “This improvisatory spirit keeps things fresh and thrilling. I find it to be the most enchanting way to create music,” O’Leary asserts in press notes.

Seemingly indebted to Liz Phair and 120 Minutes-era alt rock, Everest‘s woozy and anthemic latest single, “Wires” is centered around feedback-fueled power chords, a rousing and enormous hook and sultry, come hither vibes within an easy-going, free-flowing arrangement.

Look for O’Leary’s newest effort to drop on June 7, 2019.

 

 

 

Started in 2014 and comprised of San Francisco-born and-based married duo Andrew Gomez and Bevin Fernandez, the darkwave duo NVRS LVRS (pronounced Nervous Lovers) received attention locally with the release of their critically applauded full-length debut The Golden West, which was praised by SF Weekly as “crepuscular and opaque, with a grimy layer to it that thinly disguises the vein of pop running through the song[s].” Building upon a growing profile, the duo has since opened for the likes of Jagwar Ma and Telekinesis as well as receiving praise from PopMatters and Noisey. 

The duo’s latest single “whatever & ever” is the first bit of new material since the release of their critically applauded full length effort Electric Dread and while the single finds the band continuing to draw influence from the likes of Massive Attack, Kate Bush and others, the single also nods at classic New Order and industrial electronica thanks in part to a production featuring thumping beats, metallic clang and clatter, a rousingly anthemic hook, glitchy arpeggiated synths, and a motorik groove paired with the duo’s easy-going yet self-assured harmonizing. Thematically, the Eric Palmquist-produced club banger offers incisive criticism of our current moment — a perpetual stream of outrage and apocalyptic news, unsolicited opinions and curated brands with the song’s narrator asking if the empty and unfulfilling dopamine hit from each new notification is leading to our increasing stupidity and distraction.

The duo is embarking on a series of tour dates throughout March. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates
03.08 – Reno, NV @ The Loving Cup
03.09 – Redding, CA @ The Dip

03.10 – Arcata, CA @ B.A.D. Collective Presents Outer Space

03.13 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey

03.14 – Bellingham, WA @ The Firefly Lounge w/ Lié, Glitchlette, Scum Eating

03.15 – Portland, OR @ Dan Cable Presents The Library at Growley’s Taproom

03.16 – Victoria, BC, Canada @ House Show

03.17 – Victoria, BC, Canada @ Venue TBA

03.22 – San Fransisco, CA @ Everything Elastic Presents Amnesia 

R E L is the solo recording project of Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter Arielle Sitrick. With the release of her crowd-funded, self-titled debut EP, Sitrick received attention from the likes of Wonderland Magazine, Atwood Magazine, Blah Blah Science, Ones to Watch, Huffington Post, PopMatters, Acid Stag, Impose Magazine, Apeiron, Hilly Dilly, BaebleVents Magazine, LOVEPIE, Crack in the Road, Drunken Werewolf, Killing Moon and others for unique take on pop that Sitrick has dubbed EVOCA-POP, which is specifically written to make the listener think and feel something.

Sitrick has played a number of the Los Angeles area’s best known venues and showcases including KCRW’s Chris Douridas and MFG’s School Night, BMI Acoustic Lounge, NiteLight, SoFar Sounds, Balcony TV, The Peppermint Club, Hunnypot Live, Writer’s Block and Echo Park Rising. And adding to a growing profile, the up-and-coming Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has amassed over 2 million Spotify streams, 1 million YouTube streams.

The up-and-coming singer/songwriter is currently working on a 3-sided visual album EVOCAPOP, which will thematically focus on self-love, recovery and empowerment; but in the meantime, her latest single “Back to the River” is centered around a thumping, hook-driven production featuring twinkling synths, shimmering blasts of guitar and Sitrick’s sultry, pop star vocals. But underneath the swaggering production is a song that possesses a plaintive yearning for more.