Tag: SOFTSPOT

New Video: Married, Art Pop Duo, The Parlor Releases a Thoughtful Meditation on Grief

With the release of their critically applauded sophomore album Wahzu Wahzu, the Altamont, NY-based art pop duo The Parlor, comprised of multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, production and husband and wife team of Jen O’Connor and Eric Krans further cemented a growing reputation for a fearless willingness to explore a variety of sound palettes and styles while crafting intimate and thoughtful pop music; in fact, the Altamont, NY-based duo have progressed from indie folk to stomp and clap trance folk to “campfire disco” as Pitchfork described Wahzu Wahzu.

Slated for an April 13, 2018 the Altamont, NY-based art pop duo’s forthcoming, third full-length effort Kiku derives its name for the Japanese word for chrysanthemum. According to O’Connor and Krans, chrysanthemum began blooming in their farmhouse garden immediately following their second miscarriage, and for the couple, the flower became a symbol of their grief, despair, resilience and faith. Sonically speaking, the album represents a continued evolution of their overall sound, as Kiku is the duo’s first foray into trigged samples and orchestral synth soundscaping. “Kiku grew into something we never anticipated,” the couple admits in press notes. As they were grieving, they turned to their art and began writing and recording material inspired by what they were feeling and thinking, as the couple says they felt themselves “reaching out across the plane of the living and the dead, where we stumbled upon the tiny hand of the soul we lost. We brought a pice of her, of Kiku, back with us.”

Understandably, the material on Kiku sounds gloomier and more anxious than their previously released work while reportedly balancing a playful and relaxed air at points that suggests that while profoundly serious, the album can be coquettish, sexy and earnest; in some way, the album is meant to be the inner world of a couple, who keep trying over and over again — perhaps, because as cheesy as it may sound to some, they have each other.

Kiku’s first single, album opener “Soon” draws from dream pop, contemporary electro pop, movie soundtracks, jazz and experimental pop in a heady and swooning mix — and while to my ears, bringing to mind the work of Moonbabies, Beacon, Softspot, Mazzy Star and Flourish//Perish-era BRAIDS, the members of The Parlor manage to specialize in incredibly slick and lush production featuring soaring hooks paired with fearlessly heartfelt lyrics and sentiment. Yes, it’s meant to break your heart time and time again, but with a deeper purpose — to remind the listener of their empathy. Grief is grief is grief. We all know this and we all experience it at various points in our lives, and we try to move froward; that is what people do after all.

As O’Connor and Krans explain in press notes, “‘Soon’ was intended as a metaphor for the stages of grief. The chrysanthemums represent grief itself. We carry grief around with us, often to unlikely places. We try at times to let it go, to fling our grief from great heights or hope it’s carried off by time — an offering to the flowing waters of the hills. But ultimately we find ourselves steeping in it, drowning in it, and ideally cleansed by it in a baptism of intentional release. Allowing ourselves to stop fighting forces us to experience things that, as humans, we often try desperately to avoid. Allowing ourselves to dance in glowing sunlight empowers us to reclaim our spirit. And we are transported to a deeper place of understanding of one’s self and of the human experience as we know it. ‘Soon’ is an expression of painful hope and illuminated heart.”

The duo directed, shot and edited the video for “Soon” and naturally, the video prominently features chrysanthemums throughout — sometimes the husband and wife duo proudly and defiantly carrying them about, at other points, the flowers are being offered to the proverbial flowing waters of time or treated as a sort of sacrifice; but no matter what the flowers and their grief is inescapable — until they accept it.

Advertisements

With the release of their debut single Spanish Disco, the Vienna, Austria-based indie electro pop duo Leyya, comprised of Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer quickly received both national and international attention, thanks to the success of viral hit single “Superego,” which received nearly 3 million streams on Spotify. Adding to a growing profile, the duo played some of the European Union’s biggest music festivals including The Great Escape, Liverpool Sound City, Tallinn Music Week, Primavera Sound, Reeperbahn Festival, Iceland Airwaves and a headlining set at Popfest. Along with that the duo have received airplay on Huw Stephens‘ and Phil Taggart‘s BBC Radio 1 shows and Lauren Laverne‘s BBC Radio 6 show, been playlisted on Germany’s Radio 1, as well as praise from Pigeons and PlanesWonderland MagazineClash Magazine, Konbini, The 405 and Consequence of Sound among others.

The duo’s highly anticipated sophomore effort Sauna is slated for a January 26, 2018 release, and the album’s latest single “Drumsolo” will further cement their reputation for crafting ambient and moody electro pop but while revealing that the duo have expanded their sound quite a bit, as the song finds the duo with a subtly layered sound nodding at hip-hop, R&B and jazz in a way that reminds me of BRAIDS and Softspot but with a coquettish and swaggering self-assuredness.

“‘Drumsolo’ is one of our favourite tracks of the new album, ” the duo told NOISEY. “On the one hand, it’s very complex (at one point, it doesn’t even make sense ‘music theoretically’). But, on the other hand, the melody is very catchy, so you don’t notice its quirkiness; that’s what we always wanted our tracks to be like: different layers to discover depending on the listener’s mood.”

 

 

New Video: The Gorgeously Expressive and Surreal Visuals for SOFTSPOT’s “Habits”

If you’ve been frequenting this site for the past few months you may recall that the Brooklyn-based indie rock act SOFTSPOT was initially founded in 2009 as a duo featuring its founding members Sarah Kinlaw and Bryan Keller, Jr. And other the past few years, the act has gradually evolved into a quartet featuring some of the NYC’s more accomplished and talented musicians, who have a history of collaborating with each other in a wild, almost unfettered creativity; in fact, as the story goes, Kinlaw and Keller, Jr. recruited long-time friends Blake Bateh, a member of JOVM mainstays Bambara (drums), who joined the band for the recording of MASS and Jonathan Campelo, a member of Pill (synths), who joined the band during the tour to support MASS.

Arrowhawk Records, the label home of Bambara, Cinemechanica and White Laces, released the band’s latest effort Clearing last week, and the album is the first recorded effort featuring the band’s current (and expanded) lineup — and interestingly, the album finds the band refining their sound and songwriting approach. Clearing’s first single “Abalone,” was a spectral yet tense single that featured a tightly syncopated rhythm section, shimmering guitar lines and twinkling synths and Kinlaw’s ethereal and expensive vocals. “Heat Seeker,” Clearing’s second single continues in a similar vein as it possesses an equally haunting and specetal quality while drawing from New Wave as the song features slashing guitar attack with propulsive metronomic-like drumming and Kinlaw’s vocals expressing the difficulties and frustrations in attaining true and lasting connections with others — while revealing a novelistic approach to its narrator psychological makeup. “Habits,” the album’s third and latest single is an atmospheric, slow-burning, and moody track that seems to draw from jazz, psych rock, indie rock, and pop while being roomy enough to allow Kinlaw’s expressive and ethereal vocals room to dance and roam through an equally gorgeous arrangement. And throughout, there’s a visceral ache as the song focuses on loss and memory — but with a dark, uneasy undercurrent.

Produced and filmed by New Media, Ltd, the gorgeously cinematic black and white video has Kinlaw, who interestingly enough is a choreographer, room to expressively dance in empty rooms and negative spaces. At points, her movements are edited like a stop-motion film, and it gives the video a surreal, dream-like logic before showing Kinlaw’s long and seemingly final descent into darkness.

Originally founded in 2009 as a duo by founding members Sarah Kinlaw and Bryan Keller, Jr., the Brooklyn-based indie rock act SOFTSPOT has gradually evolved into a quartet of friends and fellow musicians with a history of collaborating with each other and wild, almost unfettered creativity; in fact in 2012, Kinlaw and Keller recruited long-time friends and renowned musicians Blake Bateh, a member of JOVM mainstays Bambara (drums), who joined the band for the recording of MASS and Jonathan Campelo, a member of Pill (synths), who joined the band during the tour to support MASS.

Slated for an April 7, 2017 release through Arrowhawk Records, the label home of Bambara, Cinemechanica and White LacesClearing is the first recorded effort featuring the band’s current lineup and the album finds the band refining their sound and songwriting approach. Now, if you had been frequenting this site for a while, you may recall that I wrote about Clearing‘s first single “Abalone,” a spectral yet tense and urgent song that featured a tightly syncopated rhythm section, shimmering guitar lines and twinkling synths paired with Kinlaw’s gorgeous and ethereal vocals. The album’s second and latest single “Heat Seeker” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor but manages to sound as though it draws from New Wave, 80s synth pop and prog rock as the band pairs slashing guitar attack with propulsive metronomic-like drumming, Kinlaw’s plaintive and ethereal vocals, twisting, turning and shimmering synths and a soaring hook within a gently morphing song structure. And much like “Abalone,” Clearing‘s latest “Heat Seeker” possesses a hauntingly spectral quality but there’s an underlying tenseness at its core, stemming from the difficulties and frustrations in attaining true and lasting connection with others, while revealing a song with a novelistic approach to its narrator’s psychological makeup.