Tag: singles

 

 

Last year, I wrote about the acclaimed trio of Toto Bona Lokua, comprised of French-Antillean singer/songwriter Gerald Toto, Cameroonian jazz musician Richard Bona and Congolese singer/songwriter Lokua Kanza, and as you might recall, with the release of  2004’s, critically applauded sophomore effort Totobonalokua, the pan-African act received attention across world music circles for a sound and aesthetic that effortlessly blended several different traditions, cultures and languages; in fact, the album was a commercial success in France, despite very little promotion and no touring.

Since the release of Totobonalokua, the members of the trio have pursued a series of diverse solo projects, which kept them incredibly busy. Of course, because of the success of their sophomore album, the individual members of the trio would frequently be asked by fans and the press if they would be reuniting to write and record new material — or if they had any plans to tentatively do so. Although the individual member of the trio’s paths seldom crossed, they managed to stay in touch, and as the story goes Gerald Toto suggested that it might be time to reconvene the trio and try to write new material. Bona and Kanza quickly agreed and while it took some time to synchronize the schedules of three extremely prolific and busy artists, they found time to write and record their third full-length album Bondeko, which was released earlier this year through French record label Nø Førmat. (By the way, the album’s title is derived from the Lingala word for  “friendship” or “fraternity.”)

Unsurprisingly, this year or so has been a very busy year for Gerald Toto, as he follows the release of Toto Bona Lokua’s third album with his forthcoming new album Sway, which is slated for an October 26, 2018 release, and from the album’s first single “Away Alive,” Toto will further cement his reputation for crafting infectious and breezy pop that’s enigmatic and mischievously difficult to categorize; in fact, “Away Alive” is centered around a languid and tropical groove, featuring gently strummed guitar, brief bursts of arpeggiated synths and an infectious hook paired with Toto’s yearning falsetto. Sonically the song hints at Tropicalia, Bossa nova, 70s soul, Afro pop, French pop and folk in a way that feels both familiar and new, but while encouraging the listen to slow down and to pay attention to the gentle sway of life’s rhythms every now and then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Throughout this site’s 8 year history, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for his solo electro pop/dream pop recording project Summer Heart. Now, as you may recall Alexander has received attention for being among the first wave of Sweden’s contemporary electro pop and dream pop movement with the likes of MoonbabiesThe Land BelowHey ElbowBlind Lake and Emerald Park,as well as for a sound that has been compared to CaribouWashed OutIn Ghost Colours-era Cut CopyPainted Palms and others.
Over the past year, I’ve written about a handful of singles from Alexander’s 12 Songs of Summer, a single of the month series that according to the Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer allows him to “show people what I am currently working on instead do what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case if you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!” Interestingly, 12 Songs of Summer‘s latest single “Ace of Pentacles” finds Alexander collaborating with Chicago-based electronic music artist and producer Elias Abid on a slow-burning and percussive production centered around ethereal vocals (which are chopped up at points), shimmering synths and a sinuous yet radio friendly hook — and while recalling Washed Out, the song manages to feel like the bitter come down of a love affair gone horribly wrong. While further cementing Alexander’s long-held reputation for crafting breezy synth pop, the song possesses an uncanny sober quality.
As the story goes, Abid and Alexander caught up in Abid’s new home of Chicago, the duo bonded over a mutual appreciation and admiration of each other’s work — and unsurprisingly, the duo quickly took the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other.  Speaking about their collaboration in press notes, Alexander said, “Both hanging out and working with Elias Abid was extremely inspiring. We shared the same work ethics and had similar ideas both when it came our craft but also in general. In a creative situation it’s worth a lot when you can comfortably put everything aside and focus on what’s important; the music. To me ‘Ace Of Pentacles’ ended up being about being open-minded and confident in yourself. About daring taking opportunities that are right in front of you.”
Abid adds “Besides creating some amazing ideas, what I appreciated the most out of hosting Summer Heart for his week in Chicago were the conversations we had between sessions. There was something that felt really familiar about the way he looked at life, relationships, music, art, etc.. His energy and approach as a creative person was inspiring and instilled a lot of confidence in my own process as a new artist. Not only did we create something we’re both proud of, we started a new friendship that I’m very grateful for!”

New Audio: London’s White Lies Releases a Moody and Epic New Single from Forthcoming Album

Slated for a February 1, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings, the acclaimed London-based indie trio White Lies, comprised of Harry McVeigh (lead vocals, guitar), Charles Cave (bass, backing vocals) and Jack Lawrence-Brown (drums) will be marking their tenth anniversary as a band — and interestingly, the album reportedly finds the band pushing their sound and aesthetic in new directions with the addition of personal, and at times deeply intimate lyrics written by the band’s Charles Cave. Unlike the preceding albums, the writing and recording process was a Transatlantic one that included a trip to Los Angeles, where they worked on new material with Ed Bueller, who produced the band’s chart-topping debut To Lose My Life and their third album Big TV. Throughout the process, the band enlisted past associates and collaborators to assist on the proceedings including engineer James Brown, who has worked with Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters; the renowned producer Flood, who contributes synths and keys on a couple of tracks; and Grammy Award-winning Alan Moulder, who has worked with Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and The Killers to mix the album. 

Clocking in at a little over 7 and a half minutes, the album’s latest single “Time to Give” may arguably be among the most ambitious songs the band has released, as the track is centered around a lush yet moody arrangement of shimmering synths, a sinuous bass line that’s part of a propulsive, motorik groove and soaring, arena rock-friendly hooks paired with McVeigh’s sonorous baritone. And while nodding a bit at Snow Patrol and others, the song seems to focus on a dysfunctional and abusive relationship from a real an lived-in place; in fact, it’s so real that as a result, the song bristles with bitterness, confusion and hurt. 

Last month, I wrote about Evalyn, an up-and-coming Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter whose soon-to-be released Salvation EP thematically explores the seven deadly sins, while also being centered around the concept of trying to find something to save you from yourself and the world — whether it be a religion or a cult or anything else you might worship. Now, as you may recall, EP single “Big Bad City” featured an arena rock-like production consisting of thumping beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line and a soaring hook. And while possessing the emotional heft of an old school spiritual, the song was one examination of pride — in particular, an unapologetic passion for a sinful, greedy and vapid way of life.

Interestingly, the EP’s latest single “A Pill to Crush” reveals an artist who readily experiments with her sound and songwriting as the track manages to subtly hint at 60s psych pop as its centered around a trippy production of bubbling and wobbling synths, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar chords paired with the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter’s dreamily distracted vocals (which are distorted at various points). And while the song is arguably the most expansive and mind-altering of the up-and-coming artist’s growing catalog, the song lyrically finds its narrator bitterly describing a relationship in which the other person treats you like a pill they can crush and eventually discard — and the feelings of wrath that being rejected and treated poorly can engender.

Led by sibling duo and founding members David (guitar, vocals) and Rylee Taggart (synth, vocals) along with Joey Kane (drums) and Ryan Wiles (bass, guitar, vocals), the Wakefield, Quebec, Canada-based quartet Rebelle quickly received a national profile with the release of the genre-bending “Hide,” which landed on CBC Searchlight’s Top 10 for consecutive weeks and eventually landed on Spotify Canada’s New Music Friday playlist. Building upon a growing profile in their native Canada, the band’s latest single “Still Pretty” finds the band’s sound meshing elements of synth-led New Wave with an intro that recalls The Fixx’s “Red Skies at Night,” rousing, arena rock friendly hooks, power chords and a gritty grunge rock-like vocal within a radio friendly yet expansive song structure.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Ron Gallo Returns with a New Wave-like Meditation on Unity

Throughout the past couple of years, I’ve written a quite a bit about Ron Gallo, a  Philadelphia-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist and JOVM mainstay, whose musical career began in earnest with an eight year stint as the frontman […]

Last month, I wrote about the Sudbury, Ontario, Canada-based punk act Tommy and the Commies, and as you may recall, the band, which is comprised of  Jeff Houle, best known as the creative master mind of Strange Attractor; Jeff’s brother Mitch, with whom he’s played in power pop act STATUES; and frontman Tommy Commy can trace their origins to when Commy dragged Jeff Houle into a punk rock venue bathroom stall to play an inaudible demo on his phone. And as the story goes. the Houles decided to collaborate with Commy, after being impressed by his vocals.

The trio’s full-length debut, Here Come .  .  . is slated for release later this month through Slovenly Records, and “Devices,” the album’s first single revealed a band that specializes in a furious and blistering mod punk that recalls power pop and  The Ramones on speed,  while centered by an incisive criticism of our addictive obsessions with our electronic devices. “Suckin’ In Your 20s” the Canadian trio’s latest single off their full-length debut continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as its an angular bit of breakneck power pop-influenced punk with enormous, rousing hooks that manages to be reminiscent of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO-era DEVO; in fact, the song seems underpinned by an anxious nihilism that evokes our socioeconomic moment.

 

 

 

Now, throughout the the bulk of this site’s eight year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed New York-based dance music outfit Escort,which features their indomitable frontwoman and bassist Adeline Michele, and as you may recall she released a solo album a few years ago — but her forthcoming self-titled, full-length effort slated for a November 9, 2018 release is something of a reset button; in fact, the Morgan-Wiley-produced “Emeralds” found the Escort frontwoman’s sound moving towards slinky 80s Quiet Storm-inspired synth soul reminiscent of Prince and others, centered around a sinuous bass line and Adeline Michele’s sultry vocals.

“Before,” the self-titled album’s latest single is centered around a funky, disco-like bass line, twinkling keys, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and Adeline’s effortless and self-assured pop superstar vocals — and while the song sonically nods at Chaka Khan and Rufus‘ “Ain’t Nobody,”  Mary J. Blige’s “Be Happy,Patrice Rushen‘s “Feels So Real” and classic Chicago house music, it possesses a soulful and disco-like ecstasy.
 

I’ve written quite a bit about the  Oakland, CA-based quintet Bells Atlas over the past few years, and as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of Derek Barber (guitar) Geneva Harrison (drums, percussion, keys) Sandra Lawson-Ndu (vocals, percussion, keys) and Doug Stuart (bass, vocals, keys) have received attention from this site and elsewhere across the blogosphere for a lush, forward-thinking, kaleidoscopic and difficult to pigeonhole sound that seamlessly incorporates elements of indie rock, R&B, Afro pop, Afrofuturism, jazz, electro pop, experimental pop and soul.  And adding to a rapidly growing profile, the Oakland-based quintet has opened for Hiatus Kaiyote, Badbadnotgood, Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, W. Kamau Bell, Angelique Kidjo and Bermuda Triangle, and they spent 2016 as the touring band for NPR’s Snap Judgement.

Slated for release next Friday, the act’s soon-to-be released SALT AND SOAP EP is reportedly inspired by cleansing rituals and preservation methods, with the understanding that when you;re not accustomed to releasing your most personal stories, the idea is to take a moment to prepare for a shift — for a new way of being open. Along with that, the band stumbled upon a new and very different creative and songwriting process that incorporated an unusual sampling method: the use of grainy phone recordings of the act’s drumming eventually became the bedrock for each song of the EP — and in turn, their forthcoming full-length album The Mystic. Focusing on spontaneity and sometimes even humor, the aim developed into writing music that was cinematic yet personal while highlighting each member’s individual skills and talent. And as you’ll hear on the EP’s latest single “Downpour,” the result is something that manages to be paradoxically slick yet lo-fi, lysergic yet groove-driven, lush and enveloping but while revealing a band radically reinvented its sound and approach in a way that recalls (to my ears at least)Drakkar Nowhere, Pavo Pavo and Erykah Badu simultaneously.

As the band says in a statement: “Growing up it seemed like it was important to hold so many things as secrets, some of which are at this point laughable, some still heavier.

These secrets often gave the sense that there was something wrong and unusual about me or that part of my life. They also gave the sense that if there was actually something difficult it wasn’t necessary to let anyone outside of it know.

This led to a lot of creative improvising and getting used to being a little less like myself.

Eventually I started  to ask “what would be the consequence of sharing versus the weight of holding?”

The track Downpour is about at first getting used to living in a secret, but then facing a growing unease of having to continue to tuck yourself away.”

The band will be embarking on a West Coast tour during the fall. Check the tour dates below.

Bells Atlas Tour Dates: 

9/20 Oakland – New Parish w/ Chanti Darling
10/4 Los Angeles – The Satellite
10/6 Joshua Tree, CA – Joshua Tree Music Festival
10/7 San Diego, CA
10/11 Portland, OR Holocene w/ Chanti Darling
10/14 Seattle, WA Nectar Lounge w/ JusMoni
10/16 Boise, ID Neurolux
10/20 Basalt, CO The Temporary
10/21 Denver, CO Globe
10/23 Iowa City, IA Gabe’s
10/24 Chicago, IL Hideout Inn
11/18 Palm Springs, CA Ace Hotel

New Audio: Honolulu’s Kings of Spade Release an Anthemic Party Ripper

Comprised of founding members Kasi “KC” Nunes (vocals) Matt Kato (drums) and Jasio Savio (guitar) with Tim Corker (bass), Ken Lykes (keys) and DJ Packo, the Honolulu, HI-based sextet Kings of Spade can trace their origins back to when Nunes,  a self-described “somber, closeted queer kid, who felt soul and blues music,” was bartending at Honolulu’s Anna Bananas and was pulled up on the stage to sing. “They started playing ‘Sweet Child O’Mine,” Nunes says in press notes.  “I started singing and was like ‘Hey, I sound pretty good.”

Interestingly, Jasio Savio frequently sat in with the bar’s house band. “He wasn’t old enough to drink,” Nunes recalls. “But he would start and rip these Johnny Cash tunes.” As the story goes, they were both impressed by each other. “You feel this energy when she sings,” Savio says. “My first thought was ‘Damn, she’s going to be famous.'” As the story goes Nunes approached Savio and suggested they start a band. They recruited Matt Kato, a local punk rock drummer and played with a revolving door of bassists until they found Tim Corker. As a quartet that played power chord-based blues riff rock, they didn’t find their hometown to be very receptive to their sound — although Nunes took it upon herself to book club shows that featured the band alongside local DJs, artists and other bands. After amassing a decent local following, the band relocated to Southern California in 2006 to chase their dreams. But as Nunes and Kato quickly found out, the big city isn’t very welcoming; in fact, they were barely scarping by — and they were forced to sell their blood for cash. “Everyone at the clinic looked down-on-their-luck,” Nunes remembers. “I was hooked up to a plasma machine, reading the self-help books. This was the lowest point in my life.”

After three years of crushing let-downs and disappointment, Nunes, Savio and Kato quit their jobs and gave up their shared apartment in preparation for a lengthy tour that was just booked by their new manager; however, he disappeared once they figured out that there wasn’t an actual tour. They returned home to Hawaii, and ironically enough, upon their return, they finally fell into some good fortune. Several years later, the band played at SXSW, where former Headbanger’s Ball host and MTV VJ Riki Rachtman caught them — and after catching them, he booked them to play a show commemorating the 30th anniversary of his old metal club, The Cathouse, best known for giving rise to Guns N’ Roses. Around the same time, they met Sue Damon, the ex-wife of The Beach Boys’ Mike Love. “She was a huge supporter of ours, bought us a new drum set. She was a total free spirit, who could party all of us under under the table. She ended up passing away. But all of us have her initials tattooed on us.”

Interestingly, the band’s self-titled Dave Cobb-produced full-length was recorded in Nashville over the course of two weeks.  “He produced a band I like, Rival Sons, which had this old-school sound with modern energy—like, analog-tape soul built into it,” Jesse says, admiringly. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, the swaggering and stomping, bluesy  ripper “Bottom’s Up” is raucous, party anthem that’s inspired by their late friend and patron Sue Damon, and their own experiences partying ridiculously hard that sounds as though it were influenced by Highway to Hell-era AC/DC, Electric Blue Watermelon-era North Mississippi All Stars and The Black Keys — all while further cementing their reputation for boozy, power chord centered, riff-based rock.