Tag: synth pop

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Hearts Hearts Release Symbolism-Filled, Animated Visuals for “Sugar/Money”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Vienna, Austria-based indie rock/experimental rock band Hearts Hearts, and as you may recall, with the release of  “I Am In” and “AAA” off their critically applauded debut album Young,  the Austrian act, comprised of David Österle, Daniel Hämmerle, Johannes Mandorfer, and Peter Paul Aufreitet, initially developed a reputation for crafting brooding, slow-burning and elegiac electro pop that drew comparisons to the likes Sigur Ros, Flying Lotus, The Darcys and Radiohead from critics and media outlets internationally. 

As the story goes, after the release of Young, the band’s Peter Paul Aufreiter and Johannes Mandorfer sent two radically different sound snippets to their bandmate David Österle — an aggressive and jazzy piano loop titled “Phantom” and an electronic drum take recorded overseas titled “Island,” which interestingly enough is the German word for the country of Iceland. Upon receiving those two sound snippets from his bandmates, Österle frantically began attempting to put these disparate pieces together; to synchronise what was never meant to be unified, and then started singing over the results. Goods/Gods, the Austrian act’s genre-defying sophomore album reportedly draws from the work of Bon Iver, Jamie XX and Son Lux while taking its thematic cues from the in between spaces and undefined borderlines in meaning, symbolized by the slash in every title on the album. And as a result, the material finds the band exploring emotional and moral ambiguities, and the ineffectiveness and confusions that the dichotomies and borderlines that define modern society. As the band’s Hämmerle says, the band prefers to think “think in options,” seeing the slash as representing an openness and flexibility in meaning; in similarities as much as in difference.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the aforementioned album single “Phantom/Island,” a wildly experimental track that possessed elements of jazz, electronica, indie rock and experimental pop in a way that brings to mind Kid A and Amnesiac-era Radiohead, Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington— but while conjuring a mix of anguish and ecstasy, yearning and desire within a turn of a musical phrase. “Sugar/Money,” the  album’s latest single is a bit more straightforward than some of its predecessors as the song finds the band drawing from early 80s New Wave, ambient electronica and indie rock in a way that feels dimly familiar but not quite, while focusing on an accessible and infectious hook that gives the song a sense of immediacy. As the band’s frontman David Österle says in press notes, “Living sometimes seems to be a permanent process of self-discipline. We are all constantly running for a jam tomorrow. Sugar keeps us highly energetic. Life doesn’t encourage us to experience the future as a blind joyride. Let’s catch some moments of exhilaration, damn, let’s feel the thrill of immediateness.”

Created by Shorsch Feierfeil, the recently released video for “Sugar/Money” employs the use of incredibly fluid line animations that quickly morph into different arrays of symbolic imagery  that further emphasizes the song’s longing. 




Scott Hansen is a San Francisco, CA-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and electronic music artist, best known for his critically applauded and commercially successful solo recording project Tycho, and with the release of  2006’s Past Is Prologue, 2011’s Dive, 2014’s Awake and 2016’s Epoch, Hansen has developed a reputation for crafting material centered around vintage, analog synthesizers, ambient melodies, organic instrumentation and the frequent use of samples of the human experience, including weather broadcasts, talking, breathing and the like.

“Horizon” off Hansen’s Grammy-nominated 2016 full-length Epoch is a funky yet moody and introspective track centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering guitars, a sinuous bass line and an atmospheric melody.

Interestingly enough Hansen recruited Poolside, a Los Angeles-based electronic music artist, production and DJ duo, comprised of Filip Nikolic and Jeff Paradise, best known for crafting breezy, pop-tinged disco to remix “Horizon.” And the result is a breezy and summery, cosmic disco track with handclaps, a looped chorus sample, tribal percussion that creates a club banging vibe while retaining the atmospheric melody of the original. As Poolside’s Jeffrey Paradise explains “”It’s tricky to approach a Tycho remix because there are no vocals. By definition a remix would typically strip away the textures and layers, which are the signatures of Tycho, and use the vocals. We kept the original melody as the fingerprints and added classic Poolside synths and percussion. This remix essentially became a Poolside B-side through the process.”

Hansen and his backing band will be touring through the summer and it’ll include stops at Lollapalooza, Outside Lands and SummerCamp Music Festival. Check out the tour dates below.


Tour Dates:

15 MAY Sacramento, CA – B Street Theater

16 MAY Eugene, OR – McDonald Theater

17 MAY Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory

18 MAY Boise, ID – Knitting Factory

19 MAY Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot

21 MAY Morrison, CO – Red Rocks +

22 MAY Albuquerque, NM – Villa Hispana *

23 MAY Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren *

24 MAY San Diego, CA – Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theater *

27 MAY Chillicothe, IL – Summercamp Music Festival

02 AUG Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza

11 AUG San Francisco, CA – Outside Lands


* w/ Phantogram

+ w/ Phantogram & Poolside




Polo & Pan are a Paris-based electronic music production and DJ duo, comprised of Paul Armand “Polocorp” Delille, and Alexandre “Peter Pan” Grynszpan, both of whom are acclaimed artists in their own right. Grynszpan has developed a reputation for being an insatiable crate digger, who has been known to collect a wide and diverse array of records from musical gems of the early 20th century to contemporary electronica and electro pop to 70s Nepalese psych rock and so on. Unsurprisingly Grynszpan is one of the founders of Radiooooo, an online encyclopedic radio station that was launched back in 2013. Delille is best known for his work with MAD Agency creating workspaces for artists in industrial warehouses but also as a renowned DJ; in fact, both Grynszpan and Delille were resident DJs at Le Baron, and when they met, they discovered a common musical interest — creating a genre- and time-defying sound that manages to be dance floor friendly. 

The duo’s first release Rivolta found the duo meshing 30s Italian standards with 70s Giorgio Moroder-inspired disco, and their full-length debut Caravelle, which was released earlier this year will further cement the duo’s meshing of genres and time periods to create their difficult to pigeonhole yet wildly crowd pleasing sound. The album’s material draws from the sounds of South America, Tajikistan, China, Congo Africa and elsewhere — and the album’s latest single “Canopee” is a breezy and sultry song that draws from French chanteuse-styled pop, flamenco, thumping Italian disco and African percussion with an effortlessly seamless and slick yet soulful production.

The renowned French electronic duo will be embarking on their first Stateside tour ever, and as a result of the album already amassing more than 23 million streams, their June 12, 2018 Bowery Ballroom stop; their June 19, 2018 Los Angeles stop at the Echoplex; and their June 20, 2018 San Francisco stop at The Independent are already sold out. Check out the tour dates below.
Tour Dates: 
6/12 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom (SOLD OUT)
6/14 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
6/16 – Montreal, QC – MTELUS
6/17 – Quebec City, QC – Imperial Bell
6/19 – Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex (SOLD OUT)
6/20 – San Francisco, CA – The Independent (SOLD OUT)



John Glenn Kunkel is a Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and producer, who has released three critically applauded albums, four EPs and a number of remixes with his solo recording project The New Division. Kunkel’s work has received millions of Spotify streams, and adding to a growing profile, Kunkel has been covered in major media outlets like Pitchfork and The Guardian.

Kunkel’s soon-to-be released Fader EP will further cement the Los Angeles-based electronic music artist and producer’s reputation for crafting cinematic and moody synth pop that immediately brings Depeche Mode, New Order, Umberto and others to mind; in fact, the EP’s first single, the dance floor friendly, opening track “One Night in Tokyo” is centered around slick production featuring a motorik-like groove, propulsive boom bap-like beats, shimmering, arpeggiated synths and a soaring hook; but underneath the dance floor friendly sounds are melancholy lyrics based on a failed trans-Pacific love affair that has haunted the song’s narrator, which create an interesting and ironic juxtaposition within the song.

New Video: Introducing the Sultry 80s-Inspired Synth Pop of Brooklyn’s Saint Marilyn

Comprised of Che Houston (vocals, synths, drums) and Kevin Marksson (bass, synths), the up-and-coming, Brooklyn-based synth pop duo Saint Marilyn can trace its origins to when Houston and Marksson met while in college. And as the story goes, the duo flirted with the idea of starting a band, eventually collaborating together as a drums-and-guitar power duo back in 2013 — until a period of experimentation with vintage synthesizers led to a change in sonic direction, a new name and regular gigs across NYC.. 

Throughout 2015, the duo quietly self-released demos before entering the studio to record their Josh Benash-produced debut single “Frustrate Me,” a single that caught the attention of Earmilk and Indie Shuffle as it revealed a band whose sound drew equally from 80s New Wave and contemporary electronic music. Over the course of the next couple of years, the band wrote new material, enlisted Will Haywood Smith (drums) for live shows, and further honed their material through a rigorous series of live shows before entering the studio to record their Chris Coady-produced debut EP Tangle, which is slated for release next week, and the EP’s latest single is the slickly produced, dance floor friendly “Standard,” which finds the band further cementing their reputation for a sound that draws from early 80s New Wave, 80s synth pop and  modern electronic music that pairs Houston’s sultry vocals with shimmering, arpeggiated synths, four-on-the-floor drums and a sinuous bass line. Interestingly enough, the song to my ears brings to mind Madonna’s “Everybody,” and “Holiday,” Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back,” complete with an infectious hook. 

The recently released video for the song employs a familiar and beloved concept — it features the band performing the song in a neon-lit studio space. 

New Video: Los Angeles-based Indie Act Elle Belle Writes a Break Up Letter to America

Led by its acclaimed creative mastermind and primary songwriter the New Hampshire-born, Los Angeles, CA-based Christopher Pappas, who’s best known for his work in The Everyday Visuals and has assembled and conducted his own orchestra to play his original orchestral compositions, and has written compositions for NASA, Elle Belle is a Los Angeles-based synth pop/garage rock act  — and with the band’s forthcoming, sophomore album No Signal slated for a June 29, 2018 release through Little Record Company, the album sonically finds the band drawing from synth pop, krautrock and indie rock while being among the most politically charged material they’ve released to date.

Interestingly enough, the album’s latest single “The Real World” pairs a slick, dance floor friendly production that brings Tame Impala, In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and Uncanny Valley-era Midnight Juggernauts with an extremely cynical and pretty hopeless take on how Pappas believes that Americans have fallen asleep at the political wheel. “The Obama years felt like such a triumph that we failed to stay politically diligent,” Pappas says. “The video shows these tales of us letting our guard down as told between two men living in a now-destroyed world. The song explores the reality that, to a certain extent, the Trump presidency is something that we let happen, not something that happened to us. Then people were dying, all we did was stop and stare. Now it seems so silly, but I guess you had to be there. Trump was a punchline, but it’s not so funny anymore.”  

New Video: Introducing the Dark and Surreal Pop of Sydney Australia’s Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders

Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders  is the solo recording project of Sydney, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and composer Tim Rogers, and with the release of his first four albums: 2005’s Not Worth Waiting For, 2008’s Love is Gone, 2011’s Hurtsville and 2014’s chart topping Playmates, Rogers have developed a reputation for being a singular presence in contemporary Australian music, as his material typically centers around tales of beauty, love, hope, redemption and the sincerity and absurdity of the human condition with a tone that can be frequently sentimental and mournful, sardonic and surreal. Along with that, Rogers has a rich, sonorous baritone that conveys a plaintive, masculine vulnerability and need — but with a slight bit of ironic detachment. 

Rogers’ fifth Jack Ladder album Blue Poles officially dropped today, and from the album’s  latest single, the 80s-inspired, minimalist synth pop track “Susan,” the song will further Rogers reputation in his homeland for crafting detailed, novelistic narratives, with fully fleshed out characters —  but within dark, fucked up milieu; in the case, the Susan at the heart of the song, is literally haunted by the spectral (and perhaps physical) presence of her late lover Richard, who she longs for, and is desperate to join. Throughout there’s a sense of Susan trying to find answers to why her Richard and if she could go on without him, and naturally, the song leaves that as an open-ended question for the listener to figure out. Sonically and thematically, “Susan” reminds me quite of the work of JOVM mainstay Daughn Gibson, whose work pairs slick yet dusty electronic production with dark themes and lyrical concerns, as well as O Children, who work had a similar quality. 

Directed by Leilnai Croucher, the recently released video for “Susan” is largely inspired by 1980s psychic hotline informercials, as it’s based upon her interpretation of the song, as someone trying to find answers and in the process “losing themselves in the desire to be someone else; to become something else. The video exists in a world where people are looking for answers through a television set”, Croucher continues. “They hear a voice supposedly calling to them from the other side. These infomercials are a truly fascinating reflection on our constant desire to find the answers. They are combination of over-the-top melodrama mixed with real people trying to better themselves.”

New Video: The Decadently Shot Visuals for Monogem’s Soulful New Single “Get You High”

Over the past handful of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded JOVM mainstay act Monogem, the solo electro pop recording project of Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter Jen Hirsch, and as you may recall the project derives its name from a unique cosmic phenomenon — a monogem ring, the leftover glow of an supernova explosion. Interestingly, one of the largest monogem rings in the observable universe is located near the Gemini and Cancer constellations. For Hirsch, whose birthday is on the cusp of the astrological signs of Gemini and Cancer, the project’s name has a deeply personal and special meaning for her. 
Now, it’s been some time since I’ve personally written about her, but her latest single “Get You High” will further cement Hirsch’s reputation for crafting slickly produced,  Quiet Storm-influenced synth pop centered around Hirsch’s sultry vocals, shimmering synths and a sinuous bass line — and much like her previously released material, the song evokes a lingering yet plaintive need that hasn’t been completely fulfilled. 

Directed by Finders Motion Pictures and starring Hirsch, Julia Barna, Shane Allen and Shanina Morse, the recently released video for “Get You High” featured decadent and stylishly shot visuals, focusing on the idle yet beautiful rich — and in a way that’s reminiscent of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. 

New Video: Houston’s Wild Moccasins Release an Upbeat Yet Determined Feminist Anthem

Fronted by its founding duo Zahira Gutierrez (vocals, keys) and Cody Swann (guitar, vocals), along with newest members  Avery Davis (drums) Nicholas Cody (bass), and the band’s newest member  Avery Davis (drums), the Houston, TX-based indie rock/indie pop act Wild Moccasins can trace their origins to 2007, a year within its founding members’ romantic relationship. Their initial work was mostly indie rock driven while centered around dance pop-like guitar lines and tight vocal harmonies; but throughout their history together, the band has gone through a number of lineup changes before settling on its current lineup. Interestingly, with the release of 88 92, the Houston-based quartet had begun to incorporate New Wave-like influences with an increasing use of synths, which has continued with their forthcoming Ben H. Allen-produced For Look Together.

Reportedly, Allen inspired a much different approach to their writing and recording process and the end result is an diverse album that finds the band blending the guitar-driven elements of their early work with 80s and 90s synth pop; however, unlike their previous work, the diverse sound of the album also manages to evoke the volatility of the breakup of a longtime relationship — in this case, the romantic relationship between Gutierrez and Swann; but while thematically focusing on repairing relationships, shedding insecurities and fresh starts.

Understandably, the breakup and its aftermath was extremely difficult as the band was in the middle of some extensive touring when their founding members broke up. As Gutierrez and Swann recall, they would spend countless hours in a shared tour van, painfully staring each other down on stage and ultimately exchanging exaggerated and embittered he-said-she-said’s through songwriting. And while countless bands with a romantic couple at their center have split up, the former lovers chose to find a way to reconcile their differences by working towards a common musical goal.  Songwriting has been engrained within the duo’s relationship, and although being emotionally vulnerable with a former partner was initial difficult, they found that it helped clear the air, as well as constructing a bridge between confusion and solidarity. “I think we look back on that time and take some comfort in knowing that we went through that together,” says Swann. “It needed to happen in order for us to have this resolve.”“Yeah, it needed to happen,” Gutierrez adds. “Now, when I sing the songs, I find myself breathing a sigh of relief.”

“No Muse,” For Look Together’s latest single is a slickly produced shimmering synth and guitar-led pop song with an infectious, arena friendly hook — and while self-assured, the track bristles with bitter and aching hurt of someone who’s been used and has had enough. Interestingly enough, as the band’s Gutierrez says of the song and the video, “‘No Muse’ is about feeling like men use women as muses in the wrong context. A lot of women have had the experience of being taken advantage of or had men in power try to take control of what they do, so this song encourages women to be their own muses. Because of what the song represents to me, I decided it was best for me to direct the video and sought out a female cinematographer (Rachel Bays) to shoot it in order to remove any sort of male gaze. I felt it was important to see the video through the eyes of a woman.”  As a result, throughout the video, you see a woman who’s not just determined and free-sprit but has taken control of her own agency in a free-spirited fashion. 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brampton, ON-born, Toronto, ON-based DJ, violinist, singer/songwriter, sync pop artist and JOVM mainstay Maya Killtron, and as you may recall Killtron first came to attention both nationally and Stateside with the 2012 release of her debut EP Hipster/Gangsta. As a result of the surrounding buzz around her debut EP, Killtron made the rounds across the North American festival circuit with appearances at Miami’s Winter Music ConferencePride TorontoThe Halifax Jazz Festival and CMJ. Adding to a growing profile, her collaboration with NYC-based production duo Love Taps “Back For More” received attention from the likes of Stereogum and Huffington Post for a sound that meshed moomba and R&B – and for visuals that showcased a sadly bygone NYC. Additionally, Smalltown DJs, The Slow WavesEyes Everywhere, Brothers In Arms and City Kid Soul have all have remixed “Back For More” — with the City Kid Soul remix being named in the Top 5 at Toronto’s Bestival.

Killtron’s latest single “Satin Sheets” will further cement her reputation for crafting thumping, 80s synth pop/synth funk and 90s dance music-inspired tracks — and while rooted in a sweet nostalgia for slow dances at the school dance, for creating mixtapes of your favorite jams straight from the radio or for that new sweetheart of yours. Sonically speaking her material immediately brings to mind the likes of (the oft-mentioned on this site), Cherelle, I Feel for You-era Chaka Khan, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, early Mariah Carey and so on, with a similar swaggering self-assuredness and an underlying heartbreaking angst — but bolstered by an incredibly slick modern production that’s both radio friendly and club friendly. As Killtron says of her  latest single “Satin Sheets,” “With this track I wanted to take it back to my hometown high school summers. Picture it: Brampton 1999, Cruisin’ along Queen St. on the 1A to Bramalea City Center, summer crushes at the Professor’s lake beach, tryin to catch the eye of the L-section babes for a slow jam at Rec dances, between pizza roll breaks, & bright summer afternoons crushing banquet burgers with the whole squad at Sunny’s. This song is high school Maya, the stacked vocal harmonies, the 90’s bass, the Brampton top down beat. As with all of the Never Dance Alone (my forthcoming Album) tracks, it’s the music I always wanted to make. Not just a nod or throwback, not disposable or following any trend. Its a real gateway into my musical past in ever bar. Syrupy, rich & full of R&B high school angst.”