Comprised of Dexy Valentine (vocals, guitar), Coleman Moore (bass) and Phil Galloni (synths, programming), the Los Angeles, CA-based dream pop trio My Ultra Violet can trace their origins to when the trio met at a gig and exchanged numbers — and since their formation, they’ve received some attention for crafting elegant yet moody dream pop. Interestingly, the trio’s latest single, “Wilde As Me” finds the act collaborating with producer Adam Greenspan, who has worked with Nick Cave, Supergrass and Band of Skulls and drummer Malcolm Cross on a decidedly 80s-inspired synth pop jam centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, Valentine’s ethereal vocals and rousing, radio friendly hooks within a hypnotic song that nods at Washed Out, Summer Heart and others.
Valentine takes up the space of a two-dimensional character within the track to highlight the internal irony of the lyrics of pop songs in general, noting that they generally can be shallower and more blatant — and as she admits in press notes, it’s a nod towards Oscar Wilde, one of her famous poets, who once quipped that “only the shallow know themselves.”
Now, 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. And as you may recall, Alexander has received attention both nationally and internationally for being among the first wave of Sweden’s contemporary electro pop and dream pop movement along with the likes of Moonbabies, The Land Below, Hey Elbow, Blind Lake and Emerald Park, as well as for a sound that has been compared to Caribou, Washed Out, In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy, Painted Palms and others.
With 12 Songs of Summer, Alexander adds his name to an increasing number of artists, who have adopted a single of the month series over the past couple of years. In the blogosphere age, single of the month series manage to make much quite a bit of sense creatively, financially and marketing-wise. Creatively, the artist isn’t constrained by the pressure of writing material within a cohesive style or theme in mind, as they (potentially) would have to do if they were working on an EP or a full-length album. Financially speaking, independent artists, who are most likely struggling to find ways to fund their efforts to record, tour and promote their work can put out material quickly, ensuring that the artist can receive some sort of attention outside of the album cycle. As Alexander explained in press notes, “The idea behind this project is to show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case when you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”
“Subside,” the 7th and latest single in the 12 Songs of Summer series finds Alexander collaborating with Toronto-based artist KYLO, who contributes ethereal yet soulful vocals drenched in copious reverb to a lush and shimmering production centered around finger snap-led percussion, stuttering synth arpeggios, shuffling beats and an infectious hook to create a radio friendly, club banger that evokes balmy summer nights, of evening faces, dance floors and strobe lights — and interestingly enough the song brings Within and Without and Paracosm-era Washed Out.
As Alexander recalls, “I met K¥LO in Toronto a couple of years ago. We played a show together and since then we’ve stayed in touch and also vaguely talked about making something together at some point.
Back in April, I was sitting on the floor in my friend Alex’s apartment in the East Village playing around with Logic X on my laptop. I was feeling super inspired; I got this song going and quickly decided I wanted to collaborate with someone on it. K¥LO was the first person I had in mind and so I sent the roughest demo ever to her.
To me this song is about someone’s bad habits, and about not being able to concentrate and focus and taking the easy way out.”
KYLO adds, “The lyrics to ‘Subside’ were inspired by a time in my life when I was going through a lot of changes. I was getting used to living without someone I had been with for a long time and battling the loneliness that came with that change. Summer Heart is someone I’ve wanted to collaborate with for a long time; I think that as a producer he’s managed to reflect the message within the lyrics on the track.”
Now, over the past few years, I’ve written a quite a bit about JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned, Swedish singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, and as you may recall, his solo electro pop recording project Summer Heart has received attention both here and across the blogosphere for a sound that at points has been compared to Caribou, Washed Out, In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy, Painted Palms and others. Along with that, Alexander has long been considered among the first wave of Sweden’s contemporary electro pop/dream pop/pop movement, which also includes Moonbabies, The Land Below, Hey Elbow, Blind Lake and Emerald Park.
With his 12 Songs of Summer, Alexander adds his name to an increasing number of artists, who have adopted a single of the month series over the past couple of years, and as you can imagine doing so manages to make a helluva lot of sense creatively, financially, and marketing-wise in the blogosphere age. Creatively speaking, the artist isn’t constrained by having the pressure of writing material with a cohesive style or theme in mind, as they would if they were writing for an EP or a full-length album; however, in order for the concept to work, they are required to come up with material within relatively strict and regularly occurring deadlines. Financially, independent artists, who may be struggling to find ways to fund their efforts to record and tour, can put out material quickly — and in the blogosphere age, it can ensure that the artist can receive some sort of attention over the course of year, outside of the album cycle. As Alexander explained in press notes, “The idea behind this project is to show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case when you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”
“I Got This Thing For You” is the latest single in Alexander’s 12 Songs of Summer project and the single meshes slickly produced thumping house music with arpeggiated synths and anthemic hooks, bursts of Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar and swooning dream pop. Interestingly, both lyrically and sonically, the track is the sort of track that manages to simultaneously be an early blast of summer while reminding the listener of the first, uncertain pangs of a summer fling. As Alexander says of the song ” It is a track that during a short period of time has changed a lot! It started as a small loop and the lyrics ‘I got this thing for you.’ I wasn’t sure where to take the track so I showed it to my friend Joakim Buddee, who asked if he could play around with it. I gave him a carte blanche, and he came back to me with a version of the track that we both really liked. Big ups to Joakim Buddee for all his work on this one!”
Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned, Swedish singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, whose solo dream pop/electro pop project Summer Heart has received attention for a sound that draws from 80s synth pop in a way that’s been compared favorably to Caribou, Washed Out, In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy, Painted Palms and others, and for being considered among the first wave of Sweden’s renowned contemporary electro pop and dream pop movement, which also includes Moonbabies, The Land Below, Hey Elbow, Blind Lake and Emerald Park.
Alexander with his 12 Songs of Summer has added his name to an increasing list of artists, who have adopted a single of the month series, and as you can imagine doing so, manages to make a helluva lot of sense creatively, financially and marketing-wise in the blogosphere age. Creatively, the artist isn’t constrained by having to write material with a cohesive style or theme in mind, as they would be required to do in terms of writing for a full-length album; however, in order for the concept to work, they are required to come up with songs within strict and regularly occurring deadlines. Interestingly enough, the monthly song series manages to capture the emotional highs and lows of a year of the artist’s life in a way that can feel like an audio journal. Financially, artists who are struggling to find ways to fund their efforts recording and touring can split their costs over the course of a year, while stretching the recording process to a few days over the course of a year. And in the fickle blogosphere age, releasing a single every month can assure in some fashion that the blogosphere will pay attention to you and your work over the course of a year. As Alexander explains in press notes, “The idea behind this project is to show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case when you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”
“Yeah You” is the second single of the 12 Songs of Summer series, and it finds Alexander leaning towards a thumping house meets In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy-like production featuring arpeggiated synths, woofer and tweeter rocking beats and anthemic hook — and while being a rousing, crowd pleasing track that features Alexander’s ethereal vocals floating over the mix; but while being a club banger, the song possesses a plaintive ache over a dysfunctional and somewhat unrequited love affair while accepting it as an unchangeable part of the past that the song’s narrator will eventually move forward from. As Alexander says of the song, it’s “about feeling alive and having no regrets! It’s about trying to ignore the past since you can’t change. But most of all, it’s about having fun, living in the present.”
With the release of his critically acclaimed 2016 EP Gold, the up-and-coming Swedish-born, electronic music producer and electronic music artist SQRD, who splits his time between Berlin and Stockholm received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for a sound that effortlessly blended lo-fi, analog electronics within textured and nuanced compositions. Interestingly, over the past few years, the up-and-coming producer has spent his time honing and refining his sound, and his latest single “Would Run Wild” finds the Swedish-born producer leaning towards an industrial-leaning production as layers of propulsive, arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and metallic clang and clatter and razor sharp yet infectious hook are paired with heavily vocodered vocals. While simultaneously nodding at classic, 80s synth pop (i.e., Depeche Mode), early hip-hop, and contemporary electro pop (i.e., Summer Heart, Washed Out and others), the song swoons with a nostalgic yearning for a past just out of reach.
Directed by Kevin Vinh Doan, the trippy and gorgeously shot,recently released video for “Would Run Wild” follows a young woman, who’s longing for an urgent and passionate love, which ends with the presumed overdose of her lover. And throughout the video, she encounters lingering ghosts and memories within every single step.
JOVM mainstay David Alexander is an internationally renowned, Swedish singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, whose solo, electro pop/dream pop recording project Summer Heart has received attention for a wistful and nostalgic sound that draws from 60s psych pop, 80s synth pop and lo-fi rock and has been compared favorably to the likes of Caribou, Washed Out, In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy, Painted Palms and others, and for being considered among the first wave of Sweden’s equally renowned electro pop and dream pop movement, which also includes Moonbabies, The Land Below, Hey Elbow, Blind Lake and Emerald Park.
Alexander’s latest Summer Heart album, 101 was released last month, and as you may recall I’ve previously written about album single “Hotel Beds,” a swooning yet buoyant production featuring shimmering synths, stuttering house music-like drum programming, boozy blasts of guitar, Alexander’s dreamy falsetto and a rousing hook within a dance floor friendly song. However, underneath the buoyant and summery vibes of the song is a bittersweet and weary rumination on the life of a touring musician.
101’s latest single “Follow” continues on a similar path as its predecessor as the song features a house music-inspired production consisting of arpeggiated and shimmering synths, chiming, Afro-pop-like percussion, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and Alexander’s dreamy falsetto with a soaring hook. And much like its immediate predecessor, underneath the buoyant and summery vibe there’s more than meets the eye — in this case, the song’s narrator expresses a plaintive, desperately unresolved frustration. As Alexander explains in press notes. “To follow your dreams, you must figure out what they are. ‘Follow’ is about that moment when you think you have it all figured to, only to realise you’re not one bit wiser. Those things you do, which you imagine will change everything . . . when all is said and done, afterwards you feel exactly the same.”
Directed by Kyle Macfadzean, the recently released video features expressive, contemporary choreography by Amy Kent and Laura Ava-Scott, and stars Grace Macfadzean and Angela Downs. Shot in an lushly cinematic fashion, the video makes a connection between the young woman and her older, seemingly wiser doppleganger, emphasizing the song’s central theme with a powerfully emotional yet surreal wallop
Now, if you had been frequenting this site earlier this summer, you may recall that I wrote about the Turnbridge Wells, Kent, UK-based electro pop duo Go Caruso. Individually, the members of the duo — Jon Mills and John Fenton-Stevens — have achieved national attention in the UK with a series of different solo recording projects that have received airplay from BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6, BBC Introducing, as well as national TV appearances; however, as the duo told me via email, they decided to collaborate together last year. And with their attention grabbing single “Tamarin,” the duo revealed that they specialize in a slickly produced, summery synth pop that nodded at JOVM mainstays Summer Heart, Moonbabies and St. Lucia, complete with Nile Rodgers-like guitar playing, shimmering synths, a rousing hook, Afro pop-inspired percussion and a sweetly, swooning earnestness.
The duo’s latest single “Caroline” will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting swooning and infectious, hook-laden pop confections — but unlike its predecessor, the Kent-based duo’s latest single manages to reveal the duo’s 80s synth pop influences, thanks in part to a bouncy and funky bass line, shimmering synths and a soaring hook; in fact, the track reminds me of XTC’s “The Mayor of Simpleton” and Phil Collins “Ssussdio” if St. Lucia had covered it.
Inadvertently over the past week, week and a half or so, I’ve focused on a handful of JOVM mainstay acts, who have released new material including Summer Heart, Tame Impala, Surf Rock Is Dead, METZ, The Afghan Whigs and others, and that streak will continue a bit longer with new material from another mainstays act, Widowspeak. And as you may recall, the act, which is currently composed of its Tacoma, WA-born, Brooklyn-based founding members Molly Hamilton (vocals, guitars) and Robert Earl Thomas (guitar) can trace its origins back to 2010 when the band formed as a trio featuring Hamilton, Thomas and Hamilton’s longtime friend Michael Stasiak. As a trio they released their critically applauded 2011 self-titled debut, an effort that had album single “Harsh Realm” featured in an episode of American Horror Story. With greater attention on the group, the then-trio recruited Pamela Garavano-Coolbaugh for their subsequent tours; however, by following year, Stasiak and Gravano-Coolbaugh left the band.
While in the middle of a massive lineup change, Hamilton and Thomas began working on their Kevin McMahon-produced sophomore effort Almanac, an album that was released to critical applause and growing national attention; in fact, the band was named one of Fuse TV‘s 30 Must-See Artists at 2013’s SXSW. And if you were frequenting this site back then, you would have come across a couple of posts featuring the acclaimed, Brooklyn-based duo. Up until earlier this summer, some time had passed since I had personally written about them but as it turned out the members of Widowspeak had been working on a new album, Expect The Best, which is slated for an August 25, 2017 through renowned indie label Captured Tracks Records. Album single “Dog,” as Widowspeak’s Hamilton told NPR is “about the compulsion to move on from things and places, even people when you’re not necessarily ready to. Sometimes I get caught up in ‘the grass is always greener’ mentalities or cling to an idea that ‘I’d be happy if . . .’ and make a drastic change. Then inevitably, I feel restless a few months later and it stars again.” While sonically, the song will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting moody and hazy guitar pop that channels Mazzy Star, the song possesses a restless and ambivalent vibe as it captures an easily bored and frustrated narrator, who desperately yearns for more and more and more. Expect The Best‘s latest single “When I Tried” is a slow, churning blues with layers jangling, guitar pedal effect guitars paired with a propulsive yet simple drum pattern which Hamilton’s aching yet ethereal vocals float over, and much like its preceding single, captures a bored and frustrated narrator, who yearns for more and more — and yet feels hopelessly stuck and confused.
Interestingly though, as Hamilton explains to the folks at Stereogum “I didn’t go into this record trying to make every song about feeling stuck, or about self-doubt or anxiety. Those feelings aren’t really what you want to proclaim to the world or make a whole record about, even if it’s the truth. But, in the end, it ended up making more sense to be honest. ‘When I Tried’ is about when I was having a hard time starting things, or finishing them, maybe due to my own expectations of what it would turn into or maybe due to me doubting that I’d even be able to make it happen at all . . . I wasn’t sure what the motivation was anymore. Not specifically related to music, or creative work, but to everything. I wanted to get out and be social to take my mind off it, but I had a hard time keeping that up, too. It’s hard to keep up the effort of trying.”