Tag: Single Review

 

Comprised of brothers Adam Lyons (vocals) and Nathan Lyons (keyboards), along with Patrick Huerto (guitar), Tommy Davis (bass), James Alexander (drums), the Gold Coast, Australian-born and now Manchester, UK-based sextet Fairchild have developed a growing international profile for an 80s inspired, hook-laden synth pop sound.  The sextet’s latest single “Breathless”  further cements the band’s reputation for 80s inspired synth pop; however, while their previously released material was rousingly anthemic, the new single is slow-burning, sensual, and moodily atmospheric in a way that’s reminiscent of The Fixx’s “Saved by Zero” as four-to-four drumming,  swirling electronics, slowly cascading synths, shimmering guitar chords played through layers of reverb are paired with Adam Lyon’s soulful crooning and a slinkily sexy groove.

 

Produced by friend and frequent collaborator Catherine Marks, best known for her work with Foals, The Killers and Wolf Alice, the single not only reveals a subtle refinement of the sound that first won them international attention, it also inspired a change in their songwriting process. As the story goes, the time the members of the band spent writing “Breathless” actually inspired a series of pre-production jam sessions and songwriting sessions over the course of four months that had each band member contributing ideas unencumbered and unhindered by genre expectations. At times members of the band worked individually and in small groups, sometimes swapping instruments, sharing ideas and thoughts on bits of grooves, riffs and beats  and as they did so they began to see and feel even more parallels between their recorded efforts and their influences.

From listening to “Breathless,” I can tell you that the song is arguably the most self-assured, loosest and sexiest song that they’ve released to date, and that seems to stem from the songwriting sessions that birthed it. Granted,  if you were familiar with them before, it’s a subtle refinement of their sound but the hooks are sharper and laser focused. And while their material had always been emotionally direct, the new single pairs that directness with a deeper commitment to setting a particular mood. Be on the lookout for a new EP from the Australian-born, British-based band sometime in 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

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Originally begun as a solo side project from her time with Vivian Girls and All Saints Day, Katy Goodman’s current musical project La Sera has developed a national profile with three critically applauded albums, her self titled debut, Sees the Light and Hour of the Dawn, which were released through Hardly Art Records.  Goodman’s last album, 2014’s Hour of the Dawn was very much a punk-inspired album; however, with the release of “High Notes,” the first single from her forthcoming album, Music For Listening To Music To reveals an artist, who has gone through both personal and artistic transitions. Sonically and structurally, the song reveals that Goodman has returned to an elegant and solid simplicity — it pairs the sort of shimmering guitar chords of The Smiths and the propulsive, old-school chugging rhythm of Johnny Cash (in particular, think of “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Jackson” and countless others) with Goodman’s wistfully ethereal coos. And interestingly enough La Sera has added personnel to flesh out the project’s sound — Goodman’s guitarist, cowriter and husband Todd Wisenbaker, who is probably best known as a member of Listening To Music To‘s producer Ryan Adams‘ backing band.

Of course, “High Notes” makes a vital connection between punk, post-punk and renegade country that countless others have done before while possessing a sneering, real life irony that many of us have faced before — after a breakup, taking the high road not because you actually believe that it’s the best thing but for appearances and because you want to get the last word. It’s probably the most honest and heartfelt sentiment I’ve come across in quite some time.

 

 

 

 

 

Bloodline is an extremely mysterious production group who have received quite a bit of buzz across electronic music and electronic dance music circles for a sound that’s deeply influenced by 90s house, as you’ll hear on their slickly produced latest single “Tribute,” a song  club-rocking classic house song comprised, looped vocal samples, layers of staccato synths and tweeter and woofer rocking beats. Sonically, the song manages to bear an uncanny resemblance to a club banging, house music standard, Inner City‘s “Good Life.”

The mysterious production group’s debut effort, EP1 has received quite a bit of attention, as it reached Traxsource‘s Top 10 List, and building upon that buzz, the group will be releasing its follow up, EP2 shortly.

 

Much ink has been spilled on the London-based quartet The Psychedelic Furs of the course of their almost 40 year recording career. And if you were a child of the 80s as I was, the band will likely hold a dear place in your heard — especially if you loved Pretty in Pink. “Love My Way” is one my favorite Psychedelic Furs songs — and interestingly, Grace Vonderkuhn, a Wilmington, DE-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, developing a reputation for a sound that meshes psych rock, garage rock and pop recently covered “Love My Way.”

Vonderkuhn’s cover retains the song’s familiar melody and anthemic hooks but slows the song’s tempo down to a slow-burning, trippy shuffle consisting of layers of feedback, blistering guitar work and thundering drum, turning the song into a broodingly bluesy wail.

Comprised of Kyle Miller (vocals and lead guitar), Jake Supple (vocals, bass and drums), and Ty Baron (guitar and keys) Denver, CODenver, CO-based psych rock trio Plum have specialized in the beloved psych rock sound of the late 1960s and early 1970s –in other words power chord heavy songs with blistering, mind-melting solos, thundering drumming and soulful vocals and harmonies. But interestingly enough, it’s a sound that also nods towards the grunge rock sounds of Pearl Jam (think of “Evenflow“), Soundgarden and others without being being carbon copy mimicry; in fact, the members of Plum push a familiar sound to a subtly modern context without scrubbing away what listeners love about the sound — power chords and anthemic hooks as you’ll hear on their latest single “Light Years, Dark Years.”

 

Frequently compared to RIDE, Smashing Pumpkins, Dinosaur, Jr. and Deerhunter, the critically praised Chicago, IL-based quartet Pink Frost originally formed under the name Apteka — and as Apteka, the quartet recorded their debut effort Gargoyle Days on analog tape before releasing the album back in 2011 to critical praise; the album landed on Time Out Chicago‘s Best of 2011 List, as well as several others. After changing their name to Pink Frost, the quartet’s 2014 sophomore effort, Sundowning was released to critical praise from nationally renowned media outlets including Pitchfork, SPIN Magazine, Noisey, Magnet Magazine, and Chicago Reader. And adding to a growing national profile, material from Sundowning appeared in The Lookalike and TV series such as The Vampire Diaries and CSI: Miami, among others.

The Chicago-based quartet will be releasing a painstakingly remixed and remastered update of the original analog masters, which reportedly will not only pack much more punch, but will also be representative of the band’s live sound. Of course, with new artwork reflecting the band’s change of name, the band intends for the re-release of their debut to be a metaphorical and literal rebirth. (Interestingly, the members of Pink Frost have been incredibly busy of late as they’ve also been busily recording the follow-up to Sundowning and Traitors EP with Gregoire Yeche at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studios.)

The re-released album’s second and latest single “Where Days Go” is an power-chord based song with enormous, anthemic hooks that sounds as though it were inspired by 90s alt rock and shoegaze. I’m reminded quite a bit of The Posies‘ “Ontario,” Foo FightersThis Is A Call” and The Black Angels‘ “Telephone” as “Where Days Go” possesses a similar forcefulness and mosh-pit ready feel while being incredibly radio friendly.

 

Comprised of Jimmy Jönsson (vocals), Stefan Aronsson (synths and programming) and Per Linnerblad (synths and programming), the Stockholm, Sweden-based electro pop trio Red Cell can trace their origins to when the band’s founding duo of  Jönsson and Aronsson formed the back during the winter of 2002-2003. Deriving their name from a character that appears in the TV series Nikita, the duo recorded their first demo “In Command” a few months after forming, and it was released to praise in the Swedish press for an industrial metal sound.

Stefan Aronsson, who played guitar on their first single was recruited into the band along with another member on synths and as a newly constituted quartet, the band’s sound became much more synth-based. After recording two more demos — “I Am The Way” and “Related Skin,” which received national attention, the band entered the Swedish demo-contest Quest For Fame and won a recording contract. And although the band eventually turned down the recording deal they won, with a growing national profile, the quartet toured around Sweden and started playing regular gigs in Copenhagen, Denmark, which begun to expand their international profile across Scandinavia.

By January 2005, the Swedish electro pop quartet had signed with Torny Gotberg’s Gothenburg, Sweden-based Progress Productions, who released their commercially successful full-length debut effort, Hybrid Society that September. The album peaked at number 7 on the Swedish metal charts and at number 53 on the National charts. A national tour to support Hybrid Society followed, along with the band’s first gigs in Norway.

The band’s last effort Lead or Follow was released in 2008, and as you can imagine across Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia, the news of their forthcoming third, full-length release, slated for release sometime next year has been long-anticipated. Although currently untitled, the album’s first single “Taking Back The Crown” is an anthemic bit of synth pop that sounds indebted to Depeche Mode‘s “People Are People” and “Policy of Truth” as well as The Human League‘s “Don’t You Want Me?” as layers of undulating synths are paired with propulsive drumming, enormous arena-friendly hooks and plaintive vocals.

 

 

Producer, DJ and electronic music artist Paris-born and Italian-based Idriss D has spent more than a decade at the forefront of Italian electronic dance music with the release of a string of commercially and critically successful EPs and singles — and as one of the best known DJs and producers as he’s played in some of his country’s most renowned clubs and music venues including Echoes, Cocorico and Red Zone.

After a chance meeting with Berlin-based Fabrizio Maurizi in 2006, the pair founded Memento Records, a forward thinking electronic music label that has released work from up-and-coming and cult-status producers and artists such as Luciano, Paco Osuna, Argy, Tom Clark, Okain and others.  Idriss D’s long-awaited full-length debut Amalgamation is slated for a December 18 release is inspired from the Italian-based DJ and producer’s desire to bring together his life experiences over the last couple of years as he’s become something of an authoritative voice in Italy’s club scene.

Amalgamation‘s first single and album opening track “Transition” is an incredibly nuanced song consisting of skittering drum programming, undulating synths, electronic clicks, bloops and beeps and big thumping bass, and sonically it possesses the same hazy and dream-like feel of Octo Octa‘s Between Two Selves — in particular, “Please Don’t Leave.” And much like Octo Octa’s impressive 2013 full-length, the song is an atmospheric and carefully constructed and yet propulsive and dance-floor ready.

 

Comprised of Oso Dope, Shine Sinatra, Shadow the Great and Kidaf, the New York-based hip-hop collective Loaf Muzik formed back in 2011 and have built up a growing national profile as they’ve been praised by the likes of The Source, Complex, Green Label, Hip-Hop DX and others for a sound that pairs soul and jazz samples, modern, tweeter and woofer rocking beats with an attention to dope rhymes and lyricism. And as a result they’ve shared stages with the likes of renowned acts including Vince Staples, Danny Brown, Theophilus London, D’Angelo, and Mos Def and others.

Produced by Brooklyn-based producer Harry Fraud, best known for his work with Wiz Khalifa, The Weeknd and French Montana, the collective’s latest single “Pastor Spliff” pairs a slick production consisting of twinkling keys, skittering and stuttering drum programming and brief bursts of shimmering guitar with emcees with tongue-twisting flows full of complex inner and outer rhyme schemes and word play, as the song subtly channels golden age-era hip-hop.

 

 

 

 

Up-and-coming, Watford, UK-born, London-based future soul artist Connie Constance quickly received national attention with the release of her debut EP In The Grass produced by Blue Daisy. The EP which was praised for its dreamy yet beat-driven soundscapes paired with Constance’s earnest songwriting and vocals was championed by Pharrell Williams, who played tracks on his Beats 1 Radio show and several BBC Radio hosts including Annie Mac, Huw Stephens, Mister Jam, Julie Adenuga and Giles Peterson.

Constance’s latest single “Answer,” continues her ongoing collaboration with Blue Daisy — and sonically, the single pairs propulsive and percussive African-inspired beats, shimmering guitar chords and swirling electronics with Constance’s aching and intimately soulful vocals in a confessional and earnest song with a burning, sarcastic edge. As Constance explains in press notes, the song relates to two different people in the world — “one person that knows all the answers for taking all your troubles away,” as well as “a kind of know it all person, like, they already know the answer.”

2016 looks to be a huge year for the British soul artist, as she’s currently working on material for a new effort.