Tag: synth pop

New Video: Carole Cettolin Releases a Swooning Love Song

Carole Cettolin is a Paris-born and-based singer/songwriter, whose career started in earnest with the her acclaimed, solo recording project Et Maxence. And with Et Maxence, Cettolin won the 2010 Crédit Mutuel Young Talent Revelation Award in the French song category. Cettolin also caught the attention of Edith Fambuena, who produced material off Cettolin’s Et Maxence debut EP. And with a growing profile, Cettolin eventually opened for  La Grande Sophie and Sia

A meeting with Nicklaus Rohrback allowed the Paris-born and-based singer/songwriter to pursue a new, synth-based sound — under her own name. The end result is Cettolin’s debut under her own name, the five-song EP Un Garçon. Thematically, the EP touches upon reconnecting with one’s inner child, haunting images and stubborn ghosts.

In the lead-up to the EP’s release, I wrote about, the breezy pop number “Tant que le temps est radieux.” Centered around glinting synth arpeggios, shimmering strings, thumping beats and Cettolin’s yearning vocals, the song is a bit hedonistic while reminding the listener to cherish every moment of life –and those, who are dear to us. But underneath the breeziness is a melancholy awareness that nothing is guaranteed. 

The EP’s latest single “Vaille que Vaille” is a swooning bit of synth pop centered around glistening synth arpeggios, skittering beats and Cettolin’s achingly plaintive vocals. At its core, the song’s narrator expresss something very rare — a contented sigh of someone who has finally found that deep, meaningful, real love. Lucky and rare are those who find it.

The recently released video for “Vaille que Vaille” is comprised from 30s and 40s movies now in the public domain and was edited to tell queer love stories that we wouldn’t have seen at the time.

New Video: Malta’s Relikc Releases an 80s Synth Pop Inspired Bop

Emerging Maltese indie outfit Relikc — currently Remy Azzopardi (vocals), Luke Greck (guitar), Ivan Giordano (bass), Jospeh Axiak (keys) and Martin Caruana drums) — can trace its origins to its founding members being lifelong friends, who started playing music together while in school. As teenagers, the band played at every single school event, eventually moving on to clubs and festivals as soon as they were of legal age.

Eager for success, the members of Relikc would bounce back and forth between writing and releasing songs to cramming their schedules with as many gigs as they could. Back in 2016, they committed themselves to writing and recording their full-length debut, 2017’s The Code of Antics, which paired heartfelt lyrics with a sound that meshed rock, funk, soul and electro pop.

Although the album was a success, the band went through a significant lineup change. After a year in which the band spent reinventing their identity and their sound, the band released “Hate That I Love You,” which saw the Maltese indie act move towards a electro pop-tinged rock sound, influenced by the bandmembers shared love of rock, funk and 80s synth pop.

The Maltese indie outfit’s latest single “Would You Ever” sees the band pushing their sound further in the electronic direction. Centered around glistening synth arpeggios, a throbbing, funky bass line and Azzopardi’s plaintive vocals singing heartfelt and lived-in lyrics, an infectious hook, and a fittingly 80s inspired bit of riffage, “Would You Ever” is a slickly produced bop that brings St. Lucia, Haerts, and others to mind while detailing a new and tumultuous relationship on the brink.

Directed by Matthew Muscat Drago, the recently released video for “Would You Ever” is an incredibly 80s inspired visual follows a passionate artistic couple as their fight and make-up throughout while creating inspired art.

New Video: India’s Us and I Release the Slow-Burning and Aching “First Love”

Formed back in 2018, the emerging Bangalore, India-based synth pop duo Us and I — Bidisha Kesh (vocals) and Guarav Govilkar (production) — features members who come from very different backgrounds, who bonded over the fact that they share similar musical sensibilities: As the story goes, when they started to work together, Kesh and Govlikar quickly realized that they shared a unique way of crafting songs with deeply personal lyrics paired with the melancholia of the orange and yellow colors leaking from the sounds of their synthesizers. 

The duo spent the next two years developing and honing a sound that they believe will act as a bridge between the synth-driven work of Chromatics and the slow-burning, dream pop of Beach House — with subtle nods to darkwave and post-punk. Thematically, the duo’s material generally draws from everyday life and the relationships around them. 

As a result of the pandemic, the Bangalore-based duo played a few online, live-at-home livestream sessions. which helped the band gain attention for their debut EP Loveless, which was released earlier this year. Thematically, Loveless focuses on a universal subject, love — in particularly, a past love and how the nostalgia and grief of that past love can hit us like waves. Now, as you may recall, I wrote about Loveless single “Fragile,” deliberately crafted, textured pop centered around glistening synth arpeggios, sinuous bass lines, thumping beats and Kesh’s gorgeous vocals in a song that reminded me quite a bit of Dead Blue-era Still Corners.

The EP’s latest single “First Love” is slow-burning ballad centered around an atmospheric arrangement of twinkling piano, glistening synth arpeggios and Kesh’s achingly plaintive vocals. While sonically “First Love” strikes me as being a bit like Still Corners meets Tales of Us era Goldfrapp, the song as the duo explains is about “the nostalgic longing to be near someone that is distant, or that has bene loved and then lost — ‘the love that remains.'”

Fittingly, the recently released video for “First Love” is nostalgic and brims with an aching and unresolved longing for a time, place, and situation that can’t be recovered. And as a result, ghosts linger and taunt throughout.

Toronto-based indie outfit Dilettante can trace their origins back to 2016. During the spring, mutual dog lovers Natalie Panacci and Julia Wittman started a band so their dogs could hang out more. Along with The Black Cats’ Zachary Stuckey; Said the Whale’s, Iskwe’s, The Recklaws’ and Scott Helman’s Bradley Connor; and Candice Ng, they formed as For Jane, a “dog’ rock pop band with a Kate Bush meets Sinead O’Connor sensibility that prominently featured Panacci’s and Wittman’s contrasting vocals and mesmerizing harmonies.

As For Jane, the Canadian indie act released their debut EP, 2018’s Married with Dogs, which featured “Car,” a track featured on CBC Music and The Edge. Earlier this year, the act announced a change in name, seemingly influenced by a massive lineup change that has left Panacci and Wittman as its creative core, as well as a decided shift in sonic direction.

The Toronto-based act’s self-titled, full-length debut is slated for a Spring 2022 release — but they’ve also recently released the album’s first single, “Bonnie,” an 80s New Wave inspired, synth pop confection featuring glistening synth arpeggios, wiry post-punk guitars fed through a bit of reverb, an angular bass line and the duo’s achingly plaintive and mesmerizing vocals. The end result is a song that to my ears reminds me a bit of Til Tuesday‘s “Voices Carry” but with a sultry, coquettish air.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Yumi Zouma Returns with an Intimate Visual for Breezy Pop Confection “Mona Lisa”

During the course of this site’s 11-plus year history, I’ve spilled a lot of (virtual) ink covering the acclaimed indie synth pop outfit Yumi Zouma. Last year, the JOVM mainstay act, which features members residing in New Zealand, the States and the UK signed to Polyvinyl Record Co, who released their critically applauded, self-produced, third album Truth or Consequences, an album that thematically focused on distant — both real and metaphorical; romantic and platonic heartbreak; disillusionment and feeling (and being) out of reach. 

Of course, if you really follow and love music, you’re well aware of the fact that touring is often the most important — and necessary — part of the promotional camping for an artist’s or a band’s new release. Before they hit the road, that artist or band will figure out how to re-contextualize their new material and some previously released material for a live setting, imagining how a crowd will react to what — and how — they’ll play in a live a set. Like countless acts across the world, who were touring — or about to tour — as COVID-19 struck across the world, the members of Yumi Zouma were forced to cut their tour short and head home, leaving scores of their fans without the opportunity to hear the new album in a live setting.

Last October the JOVM mainstays released Truth or Consequences (Alternate Versions), an album conceived as the band’s response to the lost opportunity to re-contextualize and explore the boundaries of the original album’s material through live engagement with fans. Interestingly, since the release of Truth or Consequences (Alternate Versions), the members of the acclaimed indie pop outfit have been busy: Earlier this year, they released the standalone single “Give It Hell,” an essentially classic Yumi Zouma track featuring wistful and melancholy lyrics `paired with breezy arrangement featuring glistening synth arpeggios and a gentle yet persistent motorik groove. But underneath the song’s bittersweet air is a subtle celebratory note, a reminder that even in the most difficult of circumstances, we need to be grateful for being here now — and as an old song once said “all things will pass.”

“Mona Lisa,” the second single of 2021 by the acclaimed indie pop outfit may arguably be the most expansive song of their growing catalog: Beginning with an introduction featuring acoustic guitar, rapid fire drumming and Simpson’s imitably ethereal vocals, the song morphs into a breezy pop confection that nods at New Order and Bruce Springsteen — in part to a sultry saxophone-led coda. The song’s expansive and unusual arrangement evokes a shifting and complicated emotional state, seemingly influenced by our incredibly uncertain moment.

“’Mona Lisa’ came to us gradually over a long period of time – so its story has changed and shifted, developing new relevance with each new phase of our lives,” Yumi Zouma’s Christie Simpson explains in press notes. “It’s a song that ruminates on conflicting, shifting uncertainty – of wanting someone that maybe you can’t have – of uncertain boundaries, of confusing interactions, misunderstanding, yearning. Trying to forget an obsession – or shifting between losing all hope and giving in to the obsession – lured back by the excitement and promise – the moments of feeling so alive. The terror and joy of a big crush. And so we wanted the video to feel like a mirror to all those emotions along the passage of time – except in isolation. A year stuck inside (as we have been), alone with the big feelings, the big highs, and the low lows – dancing around your bedroom, losing it a little bit. Moving in, making it yours, moving out again. The strange phase we’ve been existing in, trying to thrive in (occasionally succeeding, but often not). The joy, the sadness, the conflict, the chaos – without ever really leaving your bedroom.”

The self-directed and recently released video for “Mona Lisa” stars the band’s Christie Simpson and is informed by real life events — namely, the jubilation, claustrophobia and mayhem of months in lockdown in both the UK and her native New Zealand: Simpson had just moved back to New Zealand after making the fortuitous decision to head to London the week before the outbreak of COVID-19. And in the video, which was filmed in Lyttleton, New Zealand, we see Simpson move into the studio apartment, make it her own and gradually lose her mind. Interestingly. the room was built by the band to match the artwork for the single.

tiger lily is a rising Seattle-born, Los Angeles-based Asian-American singer/songwriter and pop artist. But she can actually trace the origins of her career to fronting a Seattle-based all-female grunge band, which built up a regional profile: That band received praise from The Seattle Times and was once named “Seattle’s Best Underage Band” by Seattle Weekly. Adding to that growing profile, the band also received airplay from KEXP.

Stepping out into the spotlight as a solo artist, the Seattle-born, Los Angeles-based pop artist has opened for Grammy-nominated duo Social House — and she has amassed over 70,000 followers across Tik Tok and Instagram. But more important, tiger lily is a vocal advocate for greater representation of Asian Americans and other POC artists in the music industry — with interviews appearing in Audiofemme, Spin Magazine and others.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of this year. you might recall that I wrote about the rising Asian American artist’s collaboration with Seattle-born and-based electronic music producer Fluencie, a collaboration that the duo can trace back to when they met as students at Ingraham High School. “juneau, alaska” was a slickly produced, radio friendly, Top 40-like confection that began with an acoustic guitar pop introduction before quickly morphing into a Taylor Swift/Phoebe Ryan-like banger centered around shimmering and wobbling synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and an enormous hook. But underneath the song’s crowd pleasing surface, the song is rooted in an aching nostalgia for a period of time that seemed simpler and can’t be had again.

tiger lily’s latest single finds her collaborating with rising Toronto-based electronic music producer and artist MKSTN. During the course of the past year, both artists have released tracks to praise from Spin Magazine, Stereofox and Earmilk and landed on Spotify playlists like Fresh Finds, Indie pop and Make Out. MKSTN also had his music played in sets by artists like Martin Garrix and JOVM mainstay Washed Out. tiger lily on the other hand, also played benefit shows, which raised money for charities that supported POC and LGBTQ+ lives.

Although the duo met virtually, their collaboration together “like we’re an indie movie” is a achingly nostalgic bop centered around a dusty lo-fi-like production featuring twinkling synth arpeggios, shimmering hi-hat bursts, a strummed electronic guitar figure, skittering beats serving as a silky bed for tiger lily’s breathily sultry cooing. Sonically, the track — to my ears, at least — reminds me a bit of Washed Out’s earlier work.

As the artists put it, “We connected over the internet. We thought it’d be cool to capture Tumblr and internet culture into our take on a modern indie movie soundtrack. The song was inspired by Spotify playlist names and distant memories of spontaneous trips to chase a summer love. As the hook, sung over Paris field recordings and lofi riffs goes, ‘kiss me in the rain like you’ll only ever love me / like we’re in an indie movie.’”

Kristen Allen-Farmer is a classically train multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, producer singer/songwriter, and creative mastermind behind solo recording project Dream Tonic. Interestingly, with Dream Tonic, Allen-Farmer blends her lifelong love of dance music with a classically trained approach to composition and songwriting. The end result is material that is often simultaneously dreamy and gritty.

Allen-Farmer’s latest single, “I Taste” is an infectious club banger centered around synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling synths, industrial clang and clatter, squiggling Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a sinuous bass line and the classically trained artist’s breathy and sultry cooing. Featuring elements of house music, electro pop, French touch, indie dance and others, the slickly produced song brings Little Boots and others to mind — but while being a Halloween-themed song that tells the tale of a wanton vampiress, who enjoys the hunt and chase for new blood and new victims.

Jake Ward is best known as one-half of Athens, GA-based indie rock act Eureka California. Ward recently took to his home studio and completed a solo album, Never Had A Touch To Lose, which finds him stepping out into the spotlight as solo artist. performing as Mild Mild Country.

Mild Mild Country is a decided sonic departure from Ward’s work with Eureka California: Never Had A Touch To Lose is a purely instrumental. mostly synth-based, 80s influenced affair, unlike the crunchy, literature indie-rock he’s best known for. The album’s material finds Ward composing the soundtrack to an imaginary detective movie, set in Los Angeles, where the album coincidentally was recorded.

While the album is mostly synth based, you’ll hear subtle nods to post-punk, the blues and some inspired guitar playing. The album is slated for an October 22, 2021 release through HHBTM Records. To build up buzz for the album, Ward and HHBTM Records recently released a digital only bonus track off the album, an indie rock leaning cover of Depeche Mode’s “Everything Counts” featuring a subtly different arrangement. While centered around heavily arpeggiated synths and industrial clang and clatter, the song also features buzzing guitars and a lengthy vocal coda. which pushes the song past the five minute mark.

Ward wrote a lengthy statement to me about Mild Mild Country’s sound and the new cover. I’ll let him speak for himself, below:

“I don’t know if it was a conscious decision to necessarily change my sound – I certainly didn’t think it was something that I had to do as much as it was that I wanted to try something new. There’s a quote by Warhol that I think about all the time – ‘Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.’ I think over the past year or so, I’ve really tried to adopt that mentality and to focus on making things (music, paintings, etc) that are interesting to me and then putting them out into the world. I’ve always enjoyed tons of different kinds of music and really the genesis for this new project was watching a documentary on Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and going ‘I want to try something like that.’ The only conscious aspect of it was that I didn’t want people to hear it and automatically go ‘oh, it’s a quarantine record.’ My thought was having it be an instrumental doesn’t really link it to a specific time than if I was singing about not going out, spending too much on GrubHub, etc. At the end of the day, I hope this isn’t my Hudson River Wind Meditations but that’s not really up to me.

I’m not going to sit here and say I’ve been a huge Depeche Mode fan for years and years. Honestly, before this year I maybe knew 3 or 4 songs and my biggest Depeche Mode memory was back in the winter of 2019 when my neighbors were blasting mariachi music for roughly 14 hours and the only break was at about hour 8 when they played ‘Policy of Truth,’ twice. And then on a random Thursday in August while I was doing some painting, everything changed. I put on a DM playlist because I wanted something with vocals but no guitars (sorry Aphex Twin), and put on the first song I knew, ‘World in my Eyes.’ But it was the second song, ‘Everything Counts,’ which was one I didn’t know that blew my shit wide open. It was so catchy, and intricate, creative, and clever in it’s arrangement. I’m writing this in October but I’m certain my Spotify wrapped is going to show this as my top played song of the year. And then every other song that followed just left me dumbfounded. I felt like I had stumbled upon a huge secret which is a hilariously sad thing to think about when hearing one of the most successful bands all of time. Still, where had this been all my life? What followed after this first listen was a blur. By Friday, I had listened to just about everything they’d released prior to Alan Wilder leaving and then on Saturday, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I spent the entire day learning and recording this cover. Ya know, for fun. And with that in mind, I hope when you listen to this you get a sense of the immediacy of someone discovering their new favorite band.”

New Video: High Waisted’s Jessica Louise Dye Steps Out as a Solo Artist with Dance Pop Project Hello Lightfoot

New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Jessica Louise Dye is best known for being the co-founder and frontwoman of acclaimed New York-based surf pop/surf rock outfit and JOVM mainstays High Waisted. Founded back in 2014 by Dye and her bandmate Jono Bernstein (drums), High Waisted has toured across the country both as an opener and as a headliner, with stops at SXSW and Riot Fest.

High Waisted contributed a song inspired by and written about the Eighth Amendment, which was featured on NPR’s More Perfect and 27: The Most Perfect Album alongside a who’s who list of indie artists. They were also featured on a Record Store Day compilation with Lenny Kaye, and fellow JOVM mainstays Atmosphere.

Besides being an acclaimed songwriter and musician, Dye has made a name for herself as a DJ, playing sold out rooms across the — and for throwing some of the city’s wildest themed parties in basements, rooftops and on boats. Just as a party organizer, she has received praise from the likes of NYLON, GQ, Noisey, BrooklynVegan, Consequence, Billboard, Paste and High Times. I’ve been to a couple of the High Waisted at Sea parties and they were they legendary.

2021 sees the High Waisted frontwoman stepping out into the spotlight as a solo artist with her brand new, solo recording project Hello Lightfoot. “I finally had the courage to finish the solo EP I stared nearly ten years ago, after the sudden death of my best friend,” Dye explained through email. “It was a heavy, cathartic process and I am really proud of myself for pushing through the pain to complete it.”

While we await details of the EP, Dye’s debut single as Hello Lightfoot “Twenty-Seven” is a slickly produced, hook-driven, club friendly confection featuring glistening synth arpeggios, thumping beats and a relentless motorik groove. While being a decided sonic departure from her acclaimed work with High Waisted, the song is centered around confessional lyrics delivered with an aching vulnerability informed by lived-in experience of heartbreak, self-doubt and uncertainty.

Directed by Zach Wright and Zack Bass, the accompanying video for “Twenty-Seven” is shot with hazy, candy colored hewed color palette and follows Dye as she navigates Las Vegas with an Elvis impersonator.