Deriving their name from one of Can‘s best known songs, the rising Montreal-based act Yoo Doo Right — Justin Cober (guitar, synths, vocals), Charles Masson (bass) and John Talbot (drums, percussion) — have developed an improvisational-based sound and approach that features elements of krautrock, shoegaze, post-rock and psych rock that the band describes as “a car crash in slow motion.”
Since their formation, the members of the Montreal-based band have quickly become a highly demanded live act that has toured crossed their native Canada and the States while making stops across the North American festival circuit with stops at Levitation, M for Montreal, Sled Island and Pop Montreal. Back in 2018, You Doo Right was the main support act during Acid Mothers Temple‘s North American tour — and as a result, they’ve shared stages with the likes of DIIV, A Place to Bury Strangers, Wooden Shjips, Kikagkiu Moyo, FACS, Frigs, and Jessica Moss and several others.
The act’s full-length debut Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose is slated for a May 21, 2021 release through Mothland. Last month, the members of the Montreal-based act released the album’s first single, album title track “Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose,” an expansive, slow-burning and carefully sculptured soundscape divided into three distinct parts: a lengthy introduction with atmospheric synths, tribal drumming and shimmering guitars; a towering middle section with scorching dirge-like power chords, twinkling keys and crashing cymbals; and a gentle fade out as the song’s coda. The song is an exercise in restraint, unresolved tension and delayed release.
Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose’s second and latest single “Presto, Presto, Bella’s Dream” is a layered song that finds the team weaving shimmering and angular guitar riffs, twinkling synths, propulsive drumming and bass lines into a relentless, repetitive and trippy motorik groove. The band’s Justin Cober says of the song “Driving, simple, straight forward repetition, built into a psychedelic haze with no apparent meaning. Like the day the clocks struck midnight on January 1st, 1970. The title is an ode to both the tempo and a good friend who indirectly influenced us, helped us write this song.”
Influenced by The Cure,Cocteau Twins and Joy Division and others, the rising Swiss-American shoegaze duo The Churchhill Garden — currently, founding member Andy Jossi (guitar) and Whimsical‘s Krissy Vanderwoude (vocals) — was originally founded as a solo recording project back in 2010 as a way for Jossi to plug into his emotions and to focus on writing music without any pressure.
As the story goes, a friend had showed Jossi how to use GarageBand, which he eventually used for some of his earliest recordings. The Swiss guitarist was determined to become a better guitarist and he learned from his mistakes, which helped his musicianship and songwriting flourish and grow. As he was growing as a musician and songwriter, Jossi discovered Logic, which led to an improved and lusher quality to his recordings.
Around the same time, Jossi began to notice that the songs he had begun to write were more expansive, and although largely inspired by Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, shoegaze, post punk and jangle pop, the material revealed his own take on the sounds he had long loved. The Swiss guitarist and songwriting posted his compositions on Myspace without expecting much in return but, he was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the positive response he received. And although Jossi enjoyed writing the material he had posted on MySpace, he felt that i was missing something vitally important — vocals.
Hoping to broaden his musical horizons, the Swiss guitarist and songwriter sought out a few local vocalists to collaborate with. His first collaboration was with The Reaction’s Max Burki, one of Jossi’s local musical heroes. Jossi went on to record two more tracks with Eva Tresch. Technological advances — i.e., home recording studios and programs, as well as file sharing — allowed Jossi to collaborate with vocalists outside of his native Switzerland. His first collaboration with a foreign vocalist, “Noisy Butterfly,” which featured Italian vocalist Damiano Rosetti helped expand The Churchhill Garden’s audience and fanbase outside of Switzerland.
Jossi followed “Noisy Butterfly” with more collaborations with international vocalists including Craig Douglas (USA), Alistair Douglas (AUS) and Hideka (Japan). Back in 2016, Jossi first crossed paths with Whimsical’s Krissy Vanderwoude. Vanderwoude commented on Jossi’s “Sleepless” on Facebook, letting him know that she loved his music, had been a big fan and was deeply moved by the emotionality of his work. Her message went on to say that she could “hear his heart” through his work and that his work resonated deeply with her.
As it turned out, Vanderwoude and Jossi had a mutual friend, Kev Cleary, who chimed in on the comment thread that the two should work on a song together. The duo were very excited about the idea but didn’t quite know what to expect. Jossi sent Vanderwoude files for a couple of different instrumental pieces he had written and recorded, and encouraged her to choose which one she wanted to work on. Interestingly, the Whimsical frontwoman gravitated to one of the tracks in particular and remembers being moved to tears when she first heard it. The end result became their first song together “The Same Sky.”
“The Same Sky” was released to an overwhelmingly positive response with people generally commenting that they felt a magical chemistry between the two — and after a couple of songs together, they both realized that Vanderwoude should be a permanent and full-time member of The Churchhill Garden. Of course, while Vanderwoude is a permanent fixture in The Churchhill Garden universe, Jossi has continued collaborated with other vocalists, including Seashine’s Demi Haynes and Fables‘ and Swirl’s Ben Aylward.
Churchhill Gardens songs were coming together quickly with a new single being released every few months. With every new release, they found their fanbase steadily growing. And although, they were releasing material through Bandcamp and other DSPs, a growing number of people expressed interest in owning a physical copy of the songs — and they started asking if there would ever be an actual Churchhill Garden album.
Last year, the Swiss-American duo released their full-length debut, a double LP album Heart and Soul. Since the release of Heart and Soul, the duo have been working on and releasing new material including “Fade Away,” which was released earlier this year. Centered around layers of reverb-drenched, shimmering guitars, Vanderwoude’s plaintive and ethereal vocals and soaring hooks “Fade Away” to my ears at least, reminds me quite a bit of Souvlaki-era Slowdive, So Tonight That I May See-era Mazzy Star, compete with a similar aching yearning at its core.
Clocking in at a little over seven minutes, the Swiss-American collaboration’s latest single “Lonely” is a slow-burning and aching track, featuring shimmering and reverb soaked guitars paired with a soaring hook and Vanderwoude’s ethereal vocals. And while sonically continuing on in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor with the song bringing the likes of Slowdive, Mazzy Star and even Cocteau Twins to mind, the song as the duo’s Krissy Vanderwoude explains is “lyrically a bit of a heartbreaker for anyone who knows what it feels like to have loved and lost.”
Color Red Music will be releasing their debut EP Pocket Protection, Vol. 1 on May 4, 2021. The EP’s latest single “Paul P. Sure” is a strutting number that’s one part Allman Brothers-like Southern fried guitar rock, and one part retro-futuristic Stevie Wonder funk within an expansive and free-flowing jam-band like composition. The song’s origins have an interesting backstory: Originally brought in as a song sketch by the band’s Provosty, the remaining members fleshed it out further when they were all in the studio. The composition pulls some inspiration from The Derek Trucks Band’s “Kickin’ Back,” which interestingly enough, the band played during their first show together.
When it comes to titles, the band likes to play with words and the original title for the song was “Grateful Allmonds,” because the song combines elements of The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band. They eventually changed the song’s title to “Paul P. Sure,”as a play on the guitarist’s name and Paulie Shore.
“Paul P. Sure defines the intention and essence of Pocket Protection. There were no blueprints or discussions to establish a game plan or any strict guidelines as to what everyone should do or play,” Pocket Proection’s George Gekas explains. “Instead, we relied on intuition and each other to continue to move the music forward. It felt right when we first performed together, made sense in the studio, and will continue to as a collective idea.”
Initially starting his professional life as a lobbyist, the rising Boise–based electronic music artist and producer Morgin Madison eventually pursued his passion for music as a full-time gig. Madison released his first singles in late 2017 — and those singles found the Boise-based producer and artist establishing a unique dance music sound that ranged from chilled house beats to vast, hard-hitting set pieces.
With releases through labels like Colorize, Songspire Records, PRGRSSN and even mau5trrap, the Boise-based artist and producer has been prolific releasing material that has found Madison’s sound moving towards a progressive house direction. As Madison says in press notes, he’s just getting started releasing music that he describes as “the most genuine, melodic dance music I can make.”
Building upon a growing profile, Madison’s full-length debut Livingthe Phantasm was released today through mau5trap. The album’s material was crafted last year, when the rising producer, much like the rest of us, was confined at home as a result of pandemic-related restrictions: at the time, he was creating music for a time that to him felt like a distant dream. With the music industry and everything else around us collapsing, he began to ask himself “If this is it, what do I want to say before I go.” Naturally, the question inspired a creative streak uninhibited by a concern for the future. The album’s latest single “Feels Like” is a Balearic-like house banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, a sultry vocal sample and a euphoria-inducing hook. While being sleek, the song is a soulful and sensual take on house, that may remind some of Octo Octa.
Since the release of his debut EP Find You Inside, the Toronto-based Salusbury has been prolific, releasing a number of singles, including his latest single “Pretty Blonde Boy.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, strummed reverb-drenched guitar, a languid backbeat and Salusbury’s achingly plaintive baritone, “Pretty Blonde Boy” is a slow-burning Tears for Fears meets The Smiths-like track inspired by it’s creator’s deeply personal and devastating experience of loss. “Two of my oldest, closest and dearest fiends, both taken too young and barely years apart. If there’s a word beyond ‘brother’ than that’s what they were,” Salusbury explains. “Love wasn’t just enough to balance out all that they carried on their shoulders. Their losses were devastating, breaking me in a way that I’m not sure will ever heal. It was in such eerie succession. They were mirrors of one another, both drawn into this senseless and tragic spiral of prescription pain meds and heroin, combined with fentanyl. Often the brightest lights go out the fastest . . .
“Overwhelmed with grief, I recorded the vocal performance in between tears and clenched fists. As time passed and I gained a resigned joy and acceptance among the sadness,‘Pretty Blonde Boy,’began to like an open road, rolling hills… the sun rising, or maybe setting, with that warm magic hour glow and a cool breeze, driving with nowhere to be. In tribute and memorial, for those burdened with pain or crisis, this is a testament to trying to be okay again. To find beauty, appreciation and gratitude in what feels hurtful, hollowing and unfair. ”
Deriving their name from a French expression that gently mocks sappy lovers, the Paris-based indie rock duo Fleur bleu.e — Delphine and Vladimir — features two accomplished musicians, who have been performing and writing music since they were both children: Vladimir was a guitarist in French garage rock band Brats, an act that recorded and released a Yarol Popouard-produced album that was supported with touring across France with BB Brunes. Delphine began playing cello in classical orchestras before learning guitar and playing at alternative festivals across Paris with her first band Le Studio Jaune.
When the duo met in 2019, they bonded over a mutual love of The Smiths, Beach House, Françoise Hardy and Elli et Jacno among others, and a desire to craft music that was emotionally ambiguous while being fueled by their teenage myths. Seemingly influenced by dramas and nightmares, their artistic vision is to go beyond the prism of the gender binary and call upon the listener to express their fragility, celebrating one’s inner world and the beauty in imperfections.
They released their critically applauded single “Horizon” late last year and building upon a buzz worthy profile in their native France, the duo released their Ben Etter-produced second single earlier this month. Centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive yet simple backbeat and Delphine’s gorgeous vocals, the song sonically — to my ears, at least — brings Bloom-era Beach House to mind while being an emotionally ambiguous feminist manifesto.
Founded in 2014 by Fez, Morocco-born, New York-based master musician Maâlem Hassan Ben Jaafer (sintir, vocals), the New York-based Grammy Award-nominated act Innov Gnawa, which currently features core members Casablanca, Morocco-born, New York-based Amino Belyamani (chorus, qraqeb, piano) and Salé, Morocco-born, New York-based Ahmed Jeriouda (chorus, qraqeb, cajon) and a cast of collaborators, specialize in Gnawa, the ritual trance music of Morocco.
Frequently refereed to as the Moroccan Blues or the Sufi blues, Gnawa is rooted in centuries of history with the musical genre and dance being traced to the mixing of rhythms and polytheistic spiritual beliefs of West Africa — primarily from what is now known as Mali and Mauritania — with Islam and Morocco’s indigenous culture. Lyrically, Gnawa songs are prayers and invocations to saints and spirits for liberation, peace and freedom from worldly suffering and so on. Geaturing unique instruments that are often handmade, including the lute-like sintir, he three-stringed African bass, the guembri, metal castanet-like qarqaba, which are used to pound out clattering and hypnotic rhythms, symbolically meant to represent the clinking and clanking of the slaves’ chains and shackles paired with call and response vocals, Gnawa possesses a hypnotic power that has won over audiences and musicians from all over the globe, including Jimi Hendrix, Paul Bowles and Randy Weston. And in the band’s native Morocco, the genre is revered as a treasured, indigenous soul music, much like the blues and country are to Americans.
Produced by Daptone Records‘ founder and self-professed Gnawa enthusiast Gabriel Roth, the acclaimed Brooklyn-based act’s forthcoming album Lila is slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Daptone Records. Deriving its name for a Moroccan term for “night,” Lila is traditional ceremony in which the group dedicates an evening of cleansing and healing through music that was recorded in an epic five hour, one-take session.
Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “Chorfa.” Clocking in at 13:51, “Chorfa” was centered around an expansive arrangement featuring the double bass-like guembri, the hypnotic polyrhythm of the qarqaba and call and response vocals led by the collective’s Ben Jafaar. The song finds the members of the acclaimed act tapping into a deeply spiritual and universal longing for freedom, clarity, peace and healing that feels — and of course sounds — older than time. “El Ghaba” continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor: the double bass-like guembri paired with the hypnotic clicking and clacking of the qarqaba and melodic call and response delivered vocals before ending in an explosive flourish. “Ask a forest dweller about primordial darkness and they will say it is beginning and end, mysterious and all-knowing, dreadful and welcoming, powerful yet invisible,” the band’s Amino Belyamani says of the song.
Lila is slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Daptone Records.
Stereonoon is an Italian neo-soul/jazz and R&B inspired collective formed during pandemic-related lockdowns that features core creative duo Verona-born vocalist Anna Polinari and cinemavolt’s creative mastermind Max Tozzi paired with a rotating cast of talented Italian players. Late last year, the act released a straightforward yet vibey cover of Joe Jackson‘s classic “Steppin’ Out,” centered around a sinuous bass line and Polinari’s sultry vocals.
The act’s debut EP Yeah. And Stuff was released late last month and features guest spots from a number of internationally acclaimed musicians including Snarky Puppy’s Mark Lettieri (guitar), Matteo Pontegavelli (trumpet) and Francesco Dondi (tenor saxophone). The EP’s latest single “Inconvenient” is a neo-soul and jazz-tinged take on trip hop centered around twinkling piano, a sinuous bass line, stuttering drumming, an expressive, jazz-inspired guitar solo and Polinari’s sultry vocals. Lyrically, the song is an unflinchingly honest view of a vulnerable narrator examining herself and her longing to be someplace she feels she belongs.
After stints in bands like Kite Flying Society, Saving Twilight, The Weak Ends and The Wonderers throughout the early 2000s, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Geannie Friedman initially founded Semihelix in Austin, back in 2012 as a solo recording project in which she used drum beats, keyboards for bass lines while accompanying her vocals with guitar. After several lineup changes, the band eventually settled on their current lineup: Friedman (vocals, guitar), Valdemar Barrrera (drums) and Kevin Martin (bass).
Influenced by My Bloody Valentine, The Kinks, Black Tambourine, Sebadoh, The Pixies and Sonic Youth, the Austin-based act have established and cemented a sound that’s one part dream pop, one part 90s psych fuzz and delay with melodic yet loud sounds. The trio’s latest single “New Destination” finds the band crafting a song that to my ears, sounds indebted to New Zealand jangle pop, Katy Goodman’s work with La Sera and acts like Seapony, complete with an infectious and rousingly anthemic hook. But just underneath the sunny vibes, the song tells a tale of a narrator discovering the resilience she’ll need for the slings and arrows of the rest of her life.
“The catalyst behind the idea for this song came from a place where I felt ostracized and bullied in my hometown,” Semihelix’s Geannie Friedman explains. “I wrote about how moving and starting new would help to heal from many experiences of feeling like an outsider.
“Also, having been in relationships with others that weren’t healthy, it was a time for me to learn how to be happy on my own without being dependent on a relationship for happiness. Although I wrote this song over a decade ago when I was in my 20s, it’s a song that I relate to for many stages in my life, where I’m leaving behind and shedding the old, and renewing into someone stronger and resilient.”
jJ. Period is a Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ best known for working with the likes of Q-Tip, John Legend, Nas, Big Daddy Kane, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, The Isley Brothers and Mary J. Blige on official mixtapes — and for developing an “audio-biography” style that incorporates interviews with these artists into his “Best Of” complications. He has also made original productions and remixes for film trailers for American Gangster and Street Kings. In late 2008, the Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ became the first DJ/producer ever commissioned by Activision to score and producer an entire video game soundtrack for Tony Hawk’s Motion for Nintendo DS. And before I forget, he worked on The Hamilton Mixtape — while serving as Music Supervisor for the Brooklyn Nets.
The Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ’s debut album Story to Tell is a trail-blazing musical journey in three acts — with the first installment, Chapter One slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Truelements Music/RBC Records. Narrated by Dave Chappelle, Story To Tell (Chapter One) is a collaborative endeavor that blurs the lines between song and story; between hip-hop, R&B, jazz, reggae and salsa. Collaborating with an All-Star cast of Grammy-winning writers and musicians, Story To Tell reportedly will create a vibrant world of connections — between artists, songs, stories, genres, cultures and generations in the acclaimed production’s genre and convention defying style.
Story To Tell (Chapter One)’s first single “All In Your Head” plays with the classic audio storybook format with Dave Chapelle serving as a mischievous tour guide, explaining the set up to the proceedings, quickly followed by a slick yet soulful production centered around tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, glitchy vocal samples and shimmering Rhodes serving as a warm bed for an inspiring manifesto to overcoming self-doubt and being fearless featuring Tiffany Gouché’s silky crooning and Black Thought spitting red hot bars. Sonically speaking, “All In Your Head” effortlessly blurs the lines between neo-soul, R&B and hip-hop in a crowd-pleasing fashion.