Sacre is a Parisian electro pop production and artist duo, who have started to receive attention across the blogosphere for a slick production featuring cosmic ray-like synths and tweeter and woofer rocks that’s been described by several sites as being reminiscent of Daft Punk and Justice, among others — and while that may be debatable, the duo’s latest single “Stereo” is an incredibly self-assured track that manages featuring a coquettish and ethereal, female-led hook, shimmering arpeggiated synths and tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a soulful male vocal and a swaggering 16 bars or so from up-and-coming French rapper Dopize. But underneath the swaggering nature of the song manages to capture the swooning, first realization of being stupidly, madly in love with someone — all while being a radio friendly, club banger.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while, you’ve been made familiar with JOVM mainstay Nicole Atkins, a Neptune, NJ-born, Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter, best known for a sound that draws influence from 50s crooner pop, 60s psych rock and psych pop, soul music and Brill Building pop — with some critics comparing her sound to the likes of Roy Orbison and others; in fact, Atkins has publicly cited the favorites of her parents’ record collection as being major influences on her, including The Ronettes, Johnny Cash, The Beach Boys, The Sundays‘ Harriet Wheeler and Cass Elliot.
And as you may recall, Atkins’ fourth full-length album, Goodnight Rhonda Lee marks several major occasions in the renowned singer/songwriter’s career and personal life — the album was written during and after Atkins was in rehab, and has her looking back at her life with a clarity that she hadn’t had before; it’s also the first recorded output she’s released in over three years; and it also marks a major shift from her previous work. While Goodnight Rhonda Lee‘s first single “A Little Crazy,” a collaboration with Chris Issak was a delicate and soulful ballad that clearly nods to some of Atkins’ earliest influences — in particular, Roy Orbison with a hint of Patsy Cline. However, “Darkness Falls So Quiet,” the album’s second single was a stomping and soulful track that nodded at Dusty Springfield —with a warm and soulful arrangement that features a gorgeous string section, twinkling keys and a Daptone Records-like horn section. “Sleepwalking,” the album’s third single, continued along the soulful vein of its predecessor but with a shuffling arrangement reminiscent of early Motown Records — to my ear, I thought of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles,Marvin Gaye, and even Charles Bradley.
Interestingly, the Neptune, NJ-born, Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter recently contributed a slow-burning, Dusty Springfield-like rendition of “O Holy Night,” which features twinkling keys, a soaring string arrangement and a propulsive backbeat that will be part of Amazon Music’s “Christmas Soul” playlist. And what makes this rendition stand out for me is the fact that it’s arguable one of the more earthy versions I’ve heard. As Atkins explains of her choice for the playlist, “‘O Holy Night’ has always been my favorite Christmas song. The first time I heard it, I burst into tears because it was so powerful. I think it was the first time I cried from music taking me over. I always wanted to record this song in a style that made it more human in a way that it could bring the message to the angels from the earth rather than the song already residing up in heaven.”
Over the past two years or so, you’ve likely come across a number of posts featuring the London-based JOVM mainstays Ten Fe. Initially comprised of singer/songwriter duo Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan, the duo won national and international attention for pairing their distinct writing styles and voices into a unique sound.
Now, as you may recall Moorhouse and Duncan had played in a number of London area bands in which they individually felt as though there was pressure to fit into a particular scene, whether through a one way of playing or a certain way of looking, and it was something they felt unnatural and unnecessarily labored — and it was something that they deeply reviled. Interestingly enough, as the story goes, Moorhouse and Duncan met at a party and became busking partners in the London Underground. In those very early days, they enjoyed the very simple pleasures of playing music they loved — mostly early rock, early Beatles and the like — and earning cash while doing so. Coming from a place of pure joy, they noticed a profound simpatico, and they began to play their own original material. “We had a very clear idea of what we wanted. For things to be simple, based around songs that are unashamed in their directness, and that we love: The Cure, U2, Springsteen and The Stones. We’d spend years playing through these on the tube, realising you don’t need to break the mould. Its best to ignore all the voices telling you that you need to for the sake of it, and go for something deeper,” the duo explained in press notes. And with Ten Fe, Moorhouse and Duncan wanted to focus primarily on the song with style serving the song — and while being anthemic and downright arena rock friendly, their sound is difficult to describe and even more so to pigeonhole, as it possesses elements of the Manchester sound, Brit Pop, Americana, electro pop and contemporary indie rock. They manage to do this while balancing careful, deliberate attention to craft with soulful earnestness and bombast.
Moorhouse and Duncan then spent the next two years, writing, revising and recording in each other’s bedrooms, which included prolonged writing sessions at Duncan’s dad’s house in Walsall, UK, relentless busking, hustling and saving, and an impossibly lengthy list of band members and producers before they signed a publishing deal and briefly relocated to Berlin, where they recorded their Ewan Pearson-produced full-length debut effort Hit the Lights. “Its no coincidence that the name of this band means ‘have faith’” says Leo Duncan.
After spending the past 18 months touring to support their full-length debut effort Hit the Light, which included an incredible set at Mercury Lounge earlier this year, the project officially expanded into a full-fledged band with the permanent additions of touring members Rob Shipley (bass) and Johnny Drain (keys), who are two of Duncan’s oldest friends from Walsall, and Alex Hammond (drums). Returning back to England, the newly constituted quintet began writing material for their highly-anticiapted sophomore effort, and the first bit of recorded output as a quintet “Single, No Return” may be a bit of a taste of what we should expect from the new album, as it manages to capture the band’s live sound and energy, complete with a swaggering and jaunty stride. Interestingly, the band has referred to the song as being a descendant of Hank Williams‘ “Ramblin’ Man,” a song which the band’s founding members used to play while busking in the London Underground, and although they claim that when it came to the song’s arrangement they thought of The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young but with a bit of swing to the mix, to my ears it sounds a bit more like the Psychic Ills, filtered through Brit Pop; but no matter — the song manages to evoke life on the road and its seductive pull on one’s soul while further establishing their ability to craft effortlessly slick, hook-driven material.
Emma Topolski is a London-based singer/songwriter and keyboardist, who’s best known as a member of Laura Marling‘s backing band, a band that’s collaborated with HAIM, Dolly Parton and Marika Hackman, for playing keys and singing background vocals for renowned British emcee Ghostpoet, and as a member of British indie rock Childcare; however, she’s also begun to receive attention with her solo recording project Saint Clair — and with her latest single “Human Touch,” off her forthcoming Ben Raffertie co-produced EP D2, Topolski has begun to cement a growing reputation for crafting slow-burning, sinuous and soulful electro pop with boom bap drum programming and arpeggio synths paired with earnest, thoughtful lyrics conveying the awkward push and pull when suddenly encountering an old flame in a random fashion.
As Topolski explains in press notes, her latest song is inspired by a real-life, personal experience, “‘Human Touch’ is a straight-up break-up anthem. I was in emotional limbo when an ex suddenly appeared at the back of a venue I was playing at, and it completely off-guard. The song is an exploration of that push and pull between resisting the past and moving on for good.”
Comprised of Odd Martin Skålnes, best known for his solo project O. Martin and as a member of Aurora’s backing band; Birgitta Alida Hole, a member of Lumkilde; Fredrik Vosberg, a member of The Megaphonic Thrift and Casiokids; and Even Kjelby, a member of Great News, the Norwegian shoegazer act Strange Hellos was started as a studio-based side project back in 2015. And interestingly enough since their formation, the band has received attention from the likes of NME, The Line of Best Fit and others for an anthemic, power pop take on shoegaze that will immediately bring to mind 4AD Records and 120 Minutes-era MTV, complete with enormous, rousing hooks, distortion-filled, jangling guitars and ethereal vocals; in fact, “Gold For The Golden,” the latest single off the Norwegian band’s recently released full-length debut, Chromatic will further cement their growing reputation for crafting anthemic and swooning shoegaze.
Sam Valdez is a Nevada-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, and classically trained violinist, who after spending time performing in a number of bands, discovered her own unique sound and decided that it was time to step out in front as a solo artist, writing her own original material influenced by the vastness of the desert and its sky, as well as Sufjan Stevens, The War on Drugs and the work of Sylvia Plath. Interestingly, with the release of Hours, Valdez received attention from the likes of BlackBook. Building upon a growing profile, Valdez’s latest single “It’s Alright” pairs incredibly forthright lyrics that thematically focus on coping with the disillusion that comes from relationships with a sound that manages to mesh anthemic shoegazer rock and twangy alt country/Americana in a way will remind some listeners of a brash and swaggering Mazzy Star, complete with rousing power chord-led hooks.
For the better part of a decade, Frankie Rose played a significant and vital role in Brooklyn’s indie rock scene, as an original member of several critically applauded and commercially successful acts including Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls and Beverly, as well as a solo artist. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you may recall that Rose had briefly relocated back to her hometown of Los Angeles with the intention of establishing a new, creative and professional moment in her career; however, the experience of being down and out, and not quite knowing what to do next wound up inspiring her fourth full-length album Cage Tropical, which was co-written with Jorge Elbrecht, known for his work with Tamaryn, Gang Gang Dance, No Joy and my own personal favorite Violens.
Adding to a run of New Wave-inspired material, Rose is set to release a full-length cover of The Cure‘s critically applauded sophomore effort Seventeen Seconds as part of Turntable Kitchen’s Sounds Delicious vinyl covers series. The first single off Rose’s Seventeen Seconds cover album is a fairly straightforward and moody rendition of one of my favorite Cure songs “A Forest,” but interestingly enough, the cover album’s latest single is a slightly sped up rendition of “At Night,” which retains the original’s moody and foreboding vibe — all while reminding contemporary listeners of how influential and timeless The Cure’s work has been; in fact, you can easily imagine a contemporary band recording something that would have sounded like the material off Seventeen Seconds right now.
Comprised of founding members and primary songwriters Debbie Andrews and Mike Blaxill, the New York-based indie rock act Gladshot can trace their origins to when the duo met at a songwriter collective in which individual members performed and critiqued each other’s material. And at the time, Blaxill was writing roots rock-leaning material while Andrews work drew from pop and jazz; in fact, Andrews received a National Endowment of the Arts nod and had lessons with Joanne Brackeen, a session and touring pianist, who backed the likes of Ornette Coleman, Art Blakey and Stan Getz. Since their formation, the duo have developed a reputation for being uncompromising and restlessly creative as they’ve worked on a dystopian rock musical and writing songs that have appeared on TV shows on TNT, ABC and MTV.
Interestingly, the duo’s soon-to-be released, John Agnello-produced album These Are Vitamins find the band collaborating with a backing band — Jesse Murphy (bass), who’s best known as a member of Brazilian Girls; Tony Mason (drums), who’s played with Norah Jones and The Meters‘ Leo Nocentelli; and Tim Bright (guitar). And the three new collaborators reportedly add to the push-and-pull dynamics that Blaxill and Andrews developed and perfected on the Maxwell’s Cool Demon EP — all while finding the band’s sound moving towards 90s alt rock-inspired garage rock, complete with buzzing power chords as you’ll hear on “Simulation” the latest single off the duo’s soon-to-be released album; in fact, the new single manages to remind me of 90s era Sonic Youth and 120 Minutes–era MTV.
You can catch Gladshot playing their album release show at Trans-Pecos on October 28, 2017.
With last year’s release of their debut single “TrafficLightCyclopsDisco” and their self-titled debut EP, the Manchester, UK-based indie rock trio New Luna, comprised of Tommy Deedigan, Zack Bamber and Toby Duncan, have quickly developed a reputation as being a staple of their hometown’s indie rock/alternative scene while drawing comparisons to Radiohead, Bombay Bicycle Club and The Twilight Sad. Adding to a growing profile, the Manchester-based trio have opened for the likes of Happiness, Bruising, PLAZA, Trudy and the Romance, as well as played sets at a DIY Magazine showcase, YNOT?, ArcTanGent, Truck and Great Escape Festivals. However, with their latest single, “Opinionated,” the British trio’s sound reminds me a bit of My Vitriol and Blur, thanks to layers of distortion-filled, buzzing power chords, thundering drumming and a rousingly anthemic, mosh-pit friendly hook within a quiet, loud, quiet song structure. And while clearly being inspired by 90s alt rock, the song possesses what may be the most direct social statement they’ve released to date — openly suggesting as the old adage says that opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one, and they’re usually shitty.
If you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of this year, you would have come across a handful of posts featuring the up-and-coming, Halifax, UK-based indie rock trio The Orielles. Comprised of 21-year Sidonie B. Hand-Halford (drums), her 18-year old sister Esmé Dee Hand-Halford (bass, vocals) and their 17-year-old best friend Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar, vocals), the trio have quickly developed a reputation as being one of Northern England’s “most exciting local bands of recent years,” and one of their hometown’s best-kept musical secrets. And as you may recall, the British indie rock trio can trace their origins to when the Hand-Halford sisters met Wade at a house party and bonded over a shared love of Stateside-based 90s alt rock and indie rock.
With a great deal of buzz surrounding them, Heavenly Recordings head Jeff Barrett caught the band opening for their new labelmates The Parrots in late 2016 and immediately signed them to the renowned indie label. 2017 has proven to be one of the biggest years in the band’s history, as they finished their first UK/EU tour and have released two incredibly self-assured, attention-grabbing singles — The Mallard‘s Finding Meaning in Deference-like “Sugar Taste Like Salt,” and the psych rock-like “I Only Bought It For The Bottle.”
The Orielles’ latest single “Let Your Dogtooth Grow” continues their ongoing collaboration with producer Marta “Bueno” Salogni and interestingly enough, it finds the band mischievously expanding upon the socially conscious, shimmering guitar pop that first caught the attention of this site and the blogosphere with the use of an oscillating Mini Moog that appears during the last minute or so of the song, which the band says is “a melting-pot of our influences, combining guitar riffs reminiscent of Turkish psychedelic musician Mustafa Ozkent with the Moog Synth riff which is redolent of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love.‘” Thematically, the song is influenced by Yorgos Lanthimos’ feature film Dogtooth in which kids are brainwashed into thinking that they are confined within the boundaries of their household until their ‘Dogtooth’ falls out, the song lyrically discusses how in reality young people frequently face similar — although less bizarre — forms of oppression in their lives. The band adds:”Whilst we’re much more than a stones throw away from knocking our teeth out in order to break from the omnipresent restrictions us teenagers and young adults face, it’s still something that really bugs us as a ‘young band’! When are you gonna let us out of the house?”