Tag: synth pop

Formerly known as Super Inuit, Edinburgh-based pop duo Slim Wrist — Fern Morris and Brian Pokora — pair assertive beats, organic tones and pop sensibilities with an understated poignancy in a way that has drawn comparisons to Cocteau Twins, Portishead, Broadcast, and Sylvan Esso.

The duo formed back in 2016 and since their formation, they have evolved from having separate and distinct musical roles to a much more collaborative and cohesive unit that shares ideas and then develops them further together.

The Scottish duo’s full-length debut Closer for Comforting officially drops today and the album, which was written over the past two years, sees the band stripping their songwriting to the bone and leaving the listener with exactly what they need. “We’ve developed quite a direct approach to writing and with Closer for Comforting we’ve really tried to hone that, stripping back on the sprawl of some of our earlier music,” Slim Wrist’s Brian Pokora explains. “All the songs have a purpose and the album feels quite concise, whilst still having room to breathe.”  Fern Morris adds “It’s a bit of a calm after the storm reflection, both musically and lyrically. If you’re in the middle of a situation you’re not always able to lift your head and see things in perspective.  We wanted to have a sense of that and have that sense of space whilst maintaining that direct, poppy feel.”

“Milk Teeth,” Closer for Comforting‘s latest single pairs glistening synths, skittering industrial thump and link with Fern Morris’ ethereal cooing and the duo’s ability to craft an earworm of a hook. The end result is a song that sounds like a slickly produced and stunning synthesis of Portishead and Soft Metals.

New Video: The Vacant Lots Share a Motorik Groove-Driven Bop

With the release of 2020’s Interzone through London-based psych label Fuzz Club, the Brooklyn-based psych duo The Vacant Lots — Jared Artaud (vocals, guitar, synths) and Brian McFayden (drums, synths, vocals) — crafted an album’s worth of material that saw the duo blending dance music and psych rock while maintaining the minimalist approach that has won the band acclaim across the international psych scene. 

The duo’s highly-anticipated fourth album Closure is slated for a September 30, 2022 release through Fuzz Club. Written during pandemic-related lockdowns, the eight-song Closure clocks in at 23 minutes and continues the Brooklyn-based duo’s established “minimal is maximal” ethos — all while being a soundtrack for a shattered, fucked up world. 

“During the pandemic the two of us were totally isolated in our home studios,” The Vacant Lots’ Jared Artaud says. “I don’t think the pandemic directly influenced the songs in an obvious way, but merely amplified existing feelings of alienation and isolation. We found ourselves writing in a more direct and vulnerable way than ever before.”

Last month, I wrote about Closure‘s first single “Chase.” Written on a Synsonics drum machine and a Yamaha CS-10 synthesizer, “Chase” is firmly rooted in their long-held “minimal is maximal” ethos but while seeing the Brooklyn-based duo pushing their sound in a club friendly direction while still being lysergic. Arguably one of their most dance floor friendly songs, “Chase” is centered around what may be the most vulnerable and direct lyrics of their growing catalog with the song subtly suggesting that at some point we will all need to dance away our heartache — if only for a three or four minutes.

“‘Chase’ is a song about longing, about the struggle of love across time zones,” The Vacant Lots’ Brian MacFayden explains in press notes. “It’s about the desire to close that gap of separation, but also the anticipation and excitement that builds between each encounter. It’s about a sense of knowing how it should be before it is.” The band’s Jared Artaud adds, “‘Chase’ has this duality that strikes a balance between wanting to dance and taking a pill that plunges you on the couch.”

Closure‘s second and latest single “Thank You” is a dance floor friendly banger centered around a relentless and angular, arpeggiated baseline paired with a four-on-the-floor drum machine pattern, glistening synths, angular guitar buzz and sneering vocals. But while being a New Order-like banger, “Thank You” is a bitter tell-off to a people (and situations) that have wasted valuable time.

“‘Thank You’ was built in the framework of simplicity,” The Vacant Lots Brian MacFayden says. “It has a relentless pace driven by an angular arpeggiated bassline and drum machine pattern. A Juno-6 was used for chords throughout, a Korg M500 for the leads, and the track is brought to another level with guitars layered on top. The process of crafting this song was done entirely remotely due to the pandemic and the layers over time became more and more refined until we were satisfied with each sound source.”

Directed by Alexander Schipper, the accompanying video brings Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground to mind as it features two impossibly cool people in sunglasses smoking and swaying to music, shot in grainy black and white.

New Audio: Allegories Shares a Woozy New Single

Allegories — childhood friends Adam Bentley and Jordan Mitchell — can trace their project’s origins to their penchant for indulging in unconventional musical pursuits. After founding anthemic, indie rock outfit The Rest, Bentley and Mitchell embraced any opportunity to indulge their more outeé inclinations and desires. 

Back in 2014, Bentley and Mitchell began writing and recording material with no clear destination in mind, dabbling in everything from neoclassical compositions to hip hop. Gathering further inspiration from DJ’ing house and hip-hop nights, the act began to create electronic music that often shifts between the mainstream and underground spectrum. 

Throughout the past decade or so, the duo have had very busy schedules: Bentley currently works behind the scenes in the music industry. Mitchell operates a restaurant. But Allegories almost always found a way to creep back into their lives — even if only as a private amusement between the pair. 

The duo spent the better part of a decade winnowing down 35 song ideas into their nine-song album Endless, their first full-length album in over 14 years. “There’s a moment during the marking of an album, where you don’t know if you’ll finish it,” Bentley and Mitchell say. “Endless was riddled with these cynical epiphanies. It’s unavoidable when you’ve spent over half a decade tinkering away. But as we closed in on the finish line, there was a sense that this could be the last work you ever complete. That spurs the process on, giving urgency. 

If you spend 14 years between albums, you want to make every note count.”

In the lead up to the album’s release earlier this year, I wrote about three singles:

  • Pray” a bizarre yet winning mix of menace, irony and sincerity paired with an Evil Heat era Primal Scream meets Sound of Silver era LCD Soundsystem-like production.
  • Constant,” a sugary sweet endorphin and dopamine rush centered around oscillating synth pulse and achingly plaintive vocal delivery paired with euphoric hooks. The end result is a song that simultaneously feels pleasant but also kind of off in a way that’s visceral but you can’t quite put your finger on. 
  • Always True,” a glittery, late night, house banger centered around ominous synth pads, thumping beats and achingly plaintive vocals that slowly builds up to a woozy and dizzying crescendo before gently fading out. The song’s narrator wearily pushes on through some awkward social interaction that ironically enough they’ve desperately longed for because they’ve been isolated for so long. 

After the album’s official release, I wrote about “Funny Way,” a slow-burning and atmospheric track centered around woozy synths and skittering thump paired with plaintive vocals. While the previously released singles were off-kilter and dripping with irony, “Funny Way,” may arguably be the most earnest song of the album. 

“‘Funny Way’ is in many ways the beating heart of Endless. It is chronologically the earliest recording on this album, bridging a gap between two musical worlds in our lives,” the duo explain in press notes. “‘Funny Way’ holds a unique and earnest place within our catalogue of music.” 

Endless‘ fifth and latest single “Tell Me Before I Forget” is centered around glistening synth arpeggios, skittering beats, whispered and cooed falsetto vocals and insistent thump paired with the duo’s uncanny knack for infectious hooks. Much like its immediate predecessors, “Tell Me Before I Forget” is a woozy and mind-bending mix of earnestness, sneering irony and menace.

The accompanying video by Andrew O’Connor is a fittingly kaleidoscopic, satellite view of ocean waves crashing against a rock — with the visual pulsing in time to the music.

New Video: Toronto’s Rapport Shares a Cinematic Visual For Shimmering 80s-Inspired “Can’t Get It To Last”

After a decade of playing in a number of local bands, performing with other artists and stints with Moon King and Born Ruffians, Toronto-born and-based singer/songwriter and musician Maddy Wilde’s long-felt imposter syndrome gave way to a desire to create music that she felt was largely unexplored in the Toronto scene — earnest, heart-worn-on-sleeve pop with her latest band Rapport. Around the same time, her bandmates Kurt Marble and Mike Pereira, who have played in Twist, Ducks, Ltd. and Most People had experienced a similar urge to create earnest pop, despite their professional backgrounds in garage rock, punk rock and glam rock.

With their recently released debut EP Floating Through The Wonderwave, the Toronto-based trio have embarked on an exploration of crafted and breezy pop rooted in Wilde’s intuitive sense of harmony and slick hooks paired with a desire to sincerely capture the essence of sentimentality. But just under the surface, the EP’s material possesses a dark, melancholy quality.

Thematically, the EP touches upon jealous, neuroses and self-doubt while Wilde’s narrators also explore the delicate and uneasy balance between artistic creation and self-promotion. “I had to uninstall social media apps on my phone when I realized they were a major source of anxiety and a hugely addictive waste of time which I could have spent making music,” Wilde says. “My creative practice was suffering as a result. But without these tools, how are artists meant to share their work?”

The recently released EP’s third and latest single “Can’t Get It To Last” is a shimmering bit of 80s inspired pop featuring atmospheric synths, Pereira’s percussive and chugging bass lines, Marble’s 80s rock-like guitar lines and soloing and Wilde’s achingly delicate vocal delivery paired with a soaring hook. While sounding as though it were a seamless mesh of the Stranger Things soundtrack and Brothers in Arms-era Dire Straits, the song on one level could be read as a prototypical broken heart-fueled ballad. But as the band’s Maddie Wilde explains, “On the surface, this probably sounds like your average love song. But it’s really about friendships and growing apart. Close friendships take different shapes- for example, friends who do everything together but have never actually been vulnerable with one another. It’s like maintaining a light and fluffy connection that has never really progressed further than a casual relationship. Friendships like this can go on for ages, and they are valuable, but they don’t seem to last as long.”

Adrienne McLaren brought to life my vision of creating a music video mood similar to that scene in Grease where Danny walks around the drive-in singing about Sandy,” Wilde adds. “For the drive-in movie, we made an experimental film not unlike one that would be submitted as an art class assignment. To get even more meta, we displayed the drive-in music video itself playing on a small Panasonic TV in various locations around the city. A video within a video within a video.”

New Video: DELNUR Shares Sultry “Intimacy”

Vic Delnur is a Rio de Janeiro-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who can trace much of the origins of his career to growing up in a deeply musical home: Delnur grew up surrounding by synths, pianos and other instruments — thanks to the fact that his father is a maestro and producer, and his mother is a vocalist and art therapist.

With his mononymic electronic music project DELNUR, the Rio de Janeiro-born, New York-based artist’s work is informed by his Brazilian roots. as well as the time he has spent living and playing in London and New York. Lyrically, his work is informed by lived-in, personal experiences — and as a result, thematically the material touches upon anxiety, faith, relationships and life as an immigrant. Sonically, his work draws from early 80s disco, funk, neo-soul, psych pop and Brazilian music.

Earlier this year, the Rio de Janeiro-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and producer, released his debut single as DELNUR, “Mind-Brain-Body,” which quickly received attention nationally and internationally: Since its release, the track has amassed over 50,000 streams on Spotify. And with the attention surrounding both the artist and his debut single, Delnur was invited to play a set at this year’s Okeechobee Music Festival, where he shared a stage with Tame Impala, Jungle, Megan Thee Stallion and a list of other world-renowned acts.

DELNUR’s latest single “Intimacy” is a slow-burning, sultry bop centered around glistening and wobbling synths, skittering beats, the Rio de Janeiro-born, New York-based artist’s plaintive and vulnerable delivery paired with an infectious, razor sharp hook. Sonically, the track sees Delnur effortlessly mesh elements of electro pop, alternative pop, Quiet Storm soul to create something warmly familiar yet completely new.

The accompanying video by Monochroma Films is sumptuous fever dream — and a photographer’s dream: We see a woman dancing in a field at night, lit by headlights; photo shoots in monochromatic color schemes and in lush colors. And throughout, there’s a sense of longing and unrequited desire for the gorgeous woman at the center of it all.

New Video: French Psych Pop Outfit Polycool Shares a Sultry New Bop

With the release of their full-length debut, 2091’s Lemon Lord, the up-and-coming French psych pop outfit Polycool quickly established a unique sound that drew from Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Air, Sebastian Tellier, Nick Hakim, Connan Moccasin and others. The band has received airplay on Radio Nova, FIP, France Inter, Les Inrocks and others.

Building upon a growing profile in their native France, the rising psych pop outfit has played at 2019’s Printemps de Bourges and 2020’s We Love Green.

The French psych pop outfit’s latest single, “Something Between Us” is a breezy and infectious bop centered around a strutting bass line, glistening synth arpeggios, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar paired with a dance floor friendly hook and and a seductive falsetto delivery. The end result is a song that to my ears is a bit like the Bee Gees-meets-Tame Impala — or in other words a sinuous and sultry dance floor friendly come on to trip with that pretty young thing.

Fittingly, the accompanying video is a lysergic fever dream in which the members of the French outfit jam out in what looks like an enormous lava lamp.

Tacono Gate is a Brooklyn-based solo artist, who has been making and releasing music drawing from 70s krautrock, New Wave and contemporary lo-fi rock in obscurity from his bedroom since 2019.

His latest single “Goner” is a swooning, motorik groove driven, 80s New Wave-inspired bop centered around glistening synth arpeggios, industrial thump and an icy vocal delivery paired with an enormous hook. While sounding indebted to A Flock of Seagulls, Depeche Mode, John Carpenter soundtracks and others, the song is rooted in bittersweet regret over a relationship the song’s narrator took for granted — and now recognizes is either on the ropes or over because of it. Throughout there’s a mix of tacit awareness and denial over the situation that feels familiar to anyone who’s been a direct cause of a breakup.

“This is a song I worked on for 24 hours, high as shit, and then left sitting in my folder for months during a deep depression,” Tacono Gate says. “The original lyrics were something like ‘I don’t have words to this song / I haven’t written words / I haven’t written anything.’ I came back to it recently and realized I really like it — normally I hate the stuff I put out by the time it’s released and can’t listen to it.”

“There’s an obvious darkwave influence, but I was also inspired by the big synth sounds and some of the wilder emancipatory energy of Queen a la Radio Ga GaI Want to Break Free,’ etc. and an Argentinian new-wave band called Virus. There’s some post-punk energy, maybe channeling a little Julian Casablancas on the vocals too, and I used the Magnetic Fields‘ ‘Strange Powers’ as a reference track for some of the overall tonality of the track. It’s definitely heavy on the ‘80s, but I think I made something new. tonality of the track. It’s definitely heavy on the ‘80s, but I think I made something new. I never want it to be derivative even when I’m wearing my influences on my sleeve.”

New Video: Toronto’s Dilettante Shares Bitter and Heartbroken Pop Anthem

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 started For Jane, a self-described 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.

For Jane released their debut EP, 2018’s Married with Dogs, which featured “Car,” a track featured on CBC Music and The Edge. But by early 2021, For Jane announced a name change, largely influenced by a massive lineup change that left Panacci and Williams as its creative core, and a decided shift in sonic direction.

The duo’s Maks Milczarcyk produced-self-titled, full-length debut was released earlier this year, and the album featured “Bonnie,” an 80s New Wave inspired, synth-driven confection that to my ears sounded like a sultry take on  Til Tuesday‘s “Voices Carry” as it featured glistening synth arpeggios, wiry post-punk-like guitars fed through a bit of reverb and an angular bass line paired with the duo’s plaintive and mesmerizing vocals.

The self-titled albums latest single, the Maks Milczarcyk written “Monster” is a gauzy synth bop centered around glistening synth arpeggios, relentless four-on-the-floor, burst of angular guitars, and an achingly bitter and heartache-fueled vocal delivery paired with a rousingly anthemic hook and chorus — before ending with a strummed acoustic guitar-driven coda.

While sonically bringing A Flock of Seagulls and others to mind, at its core, the song’s narrator delivers a bitter and heartbroken tell-off to an ex, she would like to forget. Rooted in a deeply personal experience, the song is simultaneously profoundly universal — to the point that I know many of us have been in the same situation and would be singing along with bitter tears streaking down our faces.

Shot by Video Business, the accompanying video follows one-half of the Canadian duo as she runs down a suburban street while singing the song past empty parking lots and a mall, where she eventually meets up with her bandmate — and they walk off together, perhaps suggesting that healing is in your friends, loved ones and in music.

New Video: Emerging French Act Curseurs Share a Sun-Dappled Visual for Slow-Burning “Bolide”

Emerging French trio Cursuers formed earlier this year. Influenced by Vansire, Men I Trust and L’Imperatice, the members of the emerging French trio specialize in an ethereal and romantic, synth pop that thematically touches upon the nostalgia of adolescence and the crossroads of adulthood with a swooning Romanticism.

Their debut single, the ethereal and slow-burning “Bolide” sees the trio pairing glistening synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, skittering boom bap-like drumming with plaintive vocals and a soaring hook. While sonically recalling JOVM mainstays ACES, Washed Out, Brothertiger and Summer Heart, “Bolide” is a summery bop full of aching nostalgia for a time — or for things — that you can’t possibly get back.

Directed by Rayane Mghezzi, the accompanying video was shot in and around the gorgeous French coast and follows the band hanging out and goofing off on a sun-dappled afternoon.