Tag: synth pop

Over the course of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based dance music collective ESCORT. And as you may recall, the act founded by producers Eugene Cho and Dan Balls, which features frontperson and bassist Adeline Michele as members of a core group that has at times expanded to 17 for live shows has received attention for a sound that draws from 1970s disco, soul and classic house music — and for a live show that has them as a must-see act; in fact, the members of ESCORT have played some of the world’s biggest festivals, including Sasquatch Festival, Okeechobee Festival Montreal Jazz Festival, Full Moon Festival and others — and have shared stages with The Internet, Charles Bradley, Digable Planets, De La Soul and Cody ChesnuTT.

Now, as you may recall, ESCORT’s frontperson Adeline Michele will be releasing her full-length, self-titled solo album on November 9, 2018 but in the meantime, ESCORT’s newest single “Slide” was co-written by denitia and sene‘s Denitia and the single which is centered around a buoyant bass line, shimmering synths, some Nile Rodgers-like guitar and Adeline Michele’s sultry vocals manages to recall Chaka Khan and Rufus“Ain’t Nobody,” as it’s a skating rink, club friendly banger with an infectious hook. In some way, the track is a subtle yet decided change in sonic direction with the act’s sound leaning more towards 80s synth funk.

Escort is playing two NYC are dates — November 2, 2018 and November 3, 2018 at Brooklyn Bowl. Adeline will be playing a solo, album release party at C’mon Everybody on November 13, 2018.

 

 

 

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New Video: Introducing the Anthemic Synth Pop of Kansas City’s Yes You Are

With the release of their attention-grabbing debut single “HGX” which debuted during Pepsi’s Super Bowl 51 halftime show and was featured in the major motion picture Bad Moms, FX’s Tyrant and MTV’s Scream, the Kansas City-based indie electro pop act Yes You Are, which is comprised of Kianna Alarid (vocals), Jared White (rhythm guitar, vocals), Jacob Temper (lead guitar, keys), Joseph Wilner (drums) and Willie Jordan (bass) quickly emerged into the national scene for a dark, goth-inspired take on pop that the band’s Kianna Alarid describes as black pop. “It implies that there might be shadows lurking, even in the shiny places.”  Interestingly, as a result of a growing profile, the band has opened for the likes of K. Flay, Moon Taxi, Marion Hill, Lucius and Neon Trees among others.  

Building upon a growing profile, the band is putting the finishing touches on their forthcoming full-length debut; but in the meantime, their latest single is the slickly produced and infectious “Blacklight.” Centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, an anthemic, shout along worthy hook and Alarid’s pop star belter vocals, the track sounds as though it were channeling Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back;” however, the song lyrically and thematically is inspired by one of the most terrifying experiences that Alarid has ever had. “I was 12 years old when I first started seeing the hooded entity in my room at night.” explains Alarid. “It was terrifying and it happened often. It wasn’t until a decade later, but I finally decided to put my foot down. I visualized a light inside of me and told the hooded figure that it didn’t scare me anymore. It never happened again. Those occurrences always made me feel weak and powerless but after I stood up to it, I felt stronger than I ever had before. ‘Blacklight’ is a song about finding that light in the dark places, and the mysterious feeling that maybe the darkness was working for you all along.”

Directed by the members of the band, the recently released video for “Blacklight” features Alarid running and dancing in a field towards brilliant light but at one point it seems as though she embraces some of the darkness surrounding her. 

 

Over the past few months, I’ve written about Polo & Pan, 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 and DJs 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 eeectronica and electro pop to 70s Nepalese psych rock and so on. 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. Unsurprisingly Grynszpan is also one of the founders of Radiooooo, an online encyclopedic radio station that was launched back in 2013.

The duo’s first release Rivolta found the duo meshing 30s Italian standards with 70s Giorgio Moroder-inspired disco, and the duo’s full-length debut Caravelle, which was released to acclaim earlier this year, further cemented the duo’s reputation for a genre-meshing, anachronistic yet crowd-pleasing sound with the album material drawing from the sounds of South America, Tajikistan, China, Congo Africa and elsewhere. Now, after a wildly successful world tour that included stops in Los Angeles and NYC, the duo will be releasing a short EP, Mexicali on Halloween, which include the original single “Mexicali” and remixes by Simple Symmetry, Manfredas, Timboletti, — and the EP’s latest single is Simple Symmetry propulsive and arpeggiated, Giorgio Moroder-like remix of the song that turns the song into a glittering disco-influenced banger.

The duo will be returning to make a North America tour throughout December, and it included a December 5, 2018 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:
12/4 – 9:30 Club – Washington DC
12/5 – Brooklyn Steel – New York City
12/6 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia
12/8 – Brighton Music Hall – Boston
12/10 – Velvet Underground – Toronto (SOLD OUT)
12/12 – Imperial – Vancouver
12/13 – The Crocodile – Seattle
12/14 – Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles (SOLD OUT)

 

 

Emerging Swedish industrial synth pop act LINES can trace its origins to when its founding trio — Erik, Fred and Nisse — traveled to Berlin, with the expressed purpose of losing themselves in that hedonism of its nightlife. As the story goes, as though under the influence of a higher power, lines were drawn and blueprints made of the sort of music that they wanted to create. Although the band was born in Berlin, the band’s roots are in Stockholm‘s indie scene. Interestingly, they manage to continue a long-held tradition of high-powered synth-based and hook-driven synth pop pioneered by the likes of The Knife, Teddybears and others but thematically centered around isolation, escapism and what the band calls “obsessive and destructive love” — and they do with some subtle political leanings. “We’re not Rage Against The Machine in our police, but we try to express some kind of social commentary between the lines.”

Along with crafting politically charged material, the trio are boldly and defiantly DIY — writing, producing and mixing their own work in their self-built studio. They’ve also self-directed and produced the bulk of their videos and thrown their own 24 hour release parties; however, the band is ambitious and they have their sights set on using their non-conformist pop to make a connection with audiences in their native Sweden and beyond.    Perhaps unsurprisingly, the band’s the band has a growing national and international profile — their single “You” has amassed more than 6 million streams, and renowned Swedish pop artist Tove Lo has championed them.

The trio’s latest single “People,” which finds the trio collaborating with Adele Kosman is centered around lush layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and an infectious, sing-along worthy, anthemic hook that I can envision people shouting along to, while having their arms draped around their friend’s shoulders. The track will further cement the Swedish trio’s growing reputation for wildly euphoric and futuristic synth pop.

Comprised of Tony Davia, Lou Connor and Lauren Potts, the Long Beach, CA-based indie pop trio Younger Hunger can trace their origins to night of playing Nintendo 64 and drinking milkshakes — and unsurprisingly, the trio’s sound is influenced quite a bit by old video games to further emphasize their material’s themes of nostalgia, young adulthood and its seemingly prerequisite anxiety. Additionally, the band’s sound and approach is influenced by The Teenagers, The Smiths, and MGMT among others.

The Long Beach, CA-based pop trio’s Adam Castilla-produced debut EP is slated for a December 7, 2018 release and the EP’s latest single, the strutting “Dead Inside” is centered around a slinky and sultry hook featuring cowbell, a propulsive bass line, twinkling keys and boom bap-like beats — and while there may be some video game influence, the song to my ears sounds as though it were influenced by The Killers, The Rapture and others, as it’s a radio friendly banger that could rock a club; but underneath the song’s sleekness, the song’s narrator expresses anxiety about love, selling out and not quite knowing what he wants from his life — things that actually are concerns throughout most of our lives. As the band’s Tony Davia explains in press notes, We were all at this party and I was having a bad night. So we all left to go hang out at our studio and play some N64. We ended up jamming and that’s when we wrote the hook over an old cowbell loop. We wanted all of the synth tones to sound like Street Fighter II style arcade sounds to commemorate the night. The whole thing came together really quickly, and it does a good job of representing our EP.”

 

Initially formed back in 2009 as Sister Crayon, the acclaimed Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo  Rituals of Mine, comprised of  Terra Lopez and Dani Fernandez developed a national profile through years of relentless touring up and down the West Coast, playing house shows, DIY venues, basement rooms, followed by touring with the likes of The Album Leaf, Built to Spill, Antemasque, Le Butcherettes, Maps & Atlases, Doomtree and others. Adding to a quickly growing profile, the Los Angeles-based duo’s first two albums — 2011’s Bellow and 2013’s Cynic — were released to critical acclaim, while cementing a reputation for crafting cathartic material centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, soulful vocals and trip hop-inspired production.

2015’s Wes Jones-produced album Devoted continued their successful run of critical applause with the album landing on a number of indie “Top Ten Albums of 2015” lists; but despite the attention the album received, that year was a rather harrowing and difficult year for the duo’s Terra Lopez, as her father committed suicide and several months later, her best friend Lucas Johnson died in a tragic accident. Reeling from the grief of such profoundly unexpected loss, the duo felt the need to put the Sister Crayon name to rest, moving forward with their new mane Rituals of Mine. As Terra Lopez wrote at the time, “It was a mantra that I repeated under my breath on a daily basis when the loss I was experiencing felt too heavy at times. Music, the act of creating, performing, touring, writing, singing, experimenting – all the rituals we have created to get through life.”

2016 saw the re-issue of the Tom Coyne re-mastered Devoted through Warner Brothers Records and the re-issue featured some previous unreleased remixes and B-sides. And although some time has passed since I’ve personally written about the acclaimed Los Angeles-based pop duo, Lopez and Fernandez have been incredibly busy — earlier this year, they opened for a number of dates for The Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill’s co-headliing tour, and they’re currently opening for Garbage during the multi-plantium Grammy Award-winning band’s US tour. Additionally, the duo recently announced their first UK tour in November with Geographer and The Seshen. They’re also currently working on Devoted‘s follow up with longtime producer Wes Jones and Neal Pogue — and the first batch of new material from the duo is the righteously furious anti-Trump anthem “No Time To Go Numb.” Centered around a hyper modern production featuring stuttering and thumping beats, distorted vocal samples over which Lopez sings and spits fire, reminding the listener, that now isn’t the time to slink back from the horrors of a power mad and greedy administration; that it’s time to be fueled by righteous anger and fight like hell for the things that truly matter. As the duo’s Terra Lopez explains in press notes ” We started writing this song on Inauguration Day. It was a bleak time in the studio and we were feeling very hopeless, like most of the country. Two years later and the collective fear and disgust we all felt is still there, if not compounded, and that really inspired every lyric in this song. I wanted to address things that stay on my mind: the mediocrity of men and how our society treats womxn, the strength of the LGBTQ community and the resiliency of POC. I’m angry but also hopeful and ready to fight, to keep fighting. I’m so tired of seeing the same shit repeat itself – it’s time we set the bar higher. This song is an anthem for the LGBTQ community, to womxn and to people of color.

We carry so much on our shoulders, on our hearts. And this current administration continues to burden us and place us in danger, so we have to stick together. This is my way of showing up for us. “

Over the years I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based electronic music duo and JOVM mainstays Beacon, and as you recall, the duo, which is comprised of Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gusset (production) have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound and a generally minimalist production approach that subtly draws from R&B, house music and electro pop paired with Mullarney’s aching and tender falsetto. A couple of years had passed since I had written about the but recently the duo quietly returned with the somber “Losing My Mind,” a bold and decided sonic departure centered around a sparse arrangement of piano, a brief burst of synths and Mullarney’s aching and mournful falsetto. As the duo’s Jacob Gusset explained in press notes, the song was originally written on piano but eventually swelled into a full-bodied arrangement before reverting back to its original shell. “I came back from a trip and Tom had a new edit that was completely stripped back. Sometimes, it just takes those infinite iterations to finally crack the code.”  By stripping down their sound to its most essential — Mullarney’s vocals and a simple arrangement, it reveals the vulnerability that’s always been at the core of their material with Mullarney singing longingly of desiring stability — whether romantic or spiritually, and of the comfort of knowing that a loved one would remain by your side in the darkest and most desperate of times. Certainly, in our

Interestingly, “Losing My Mind” turned out to be the first single from the duo’s third full-length album, Gravity Pairs, slated for a November 2, 2018 release through their longtime label home, Ghostly International.  As the story goes, after recording a couple of EPs, their first two full-length albums and going on several tours to support their recorded efforts, Mullarney and Gossett returned home, knowing that the new material they would soon write wound find the duo going off into a completely different direction. Together, they embarked on open-ended writing sessions, adopting a more linear style of songwriting instead of the loop and texture-driven method they had long used. The demos they wrote were essentially built around piano chords and guitar phrases with vocal melodies, which they edited in a number of iterations that found them looking through each from a multitude of angles and directions. Naturally, some songs expanded and others they pared back. Like the bending of light through a prism, the abstract, deeply patient, almost painterly creative process, eventually found the material they wound up writing outlined in a space in which seemingly separate colors — minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals and driving dance tunes — can coexist at different speeds, spreading out like a spectrum. With each iteration, the duo also found themselves expanding upon how they can be present the material within a live setting. They could play the material in a straightforward fashion — or they could play the same material in a different fashion that added or subtracted color and shading, depending on the circumstances, their moods and their desires.

“All matter is created by dividing gravity into pairs,” the 20th Century scientific mystic Walter Russell once wrote. His “new world thought” writings and musically-informed schematic drawings were idiosyncratic, and were incredibly fringe for their time. As Beacon’s Mullarney details a bit further in press notes, “’Gravity Pairs’ is how Walter Russell describes the rhythmic order of the universe. I kept reading ‘pairs’ as both a noun and verb; simultaneously the elemental units of Russell’s balanced universe and the process that brings us together.”

Be My Organ,” Gravity Pairs’ second single was centered around a foggy yet up-tempo production centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths four-on-the-floor beats, Mullarney’s tender falsetto and an alternating quiet-loud-quiet song structure that gives the song a simultaneously undulating and swooning feel, and while finding the JOVM mainstays pushing their songwriting and sound in a unique and new direction, much like its predecessor there’s an underlying vulnerable and aching yearning. “On Ice,” the forthcoming album’s third and latest single finds shimmering synth notes arpeggiating along a motorik beat as Mullarney repeats in his imitable falsetto fed through effects — mostly echo and delay as the song builds up from slow-burning simmer to a strobe light-like coda. Much like its predecessors, the song is a subtle yet trippy expansion and retooling of their sound.

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Acclaimed Swiss Electro Duo Klaus Johann Grobe Releases Surreal and Feverish Visuals for Dance Floor Friendly Track “Out of Reach”

With the release of their Basel Prize-winning album Spagat der Liebe, the Swiss electro pop duo Klaus Johann Grobe, comprised of Sevi Landolt and Dani Bachmann quickly received national and international attention for a difficult to pigeonhole, genre-defying sound that meshes elements of electro pop, electronic dance music, komische and others while centered around slinky jazz fusion-like grooves. Adding to a growing profile, the duo with their live backing band have toured with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, The Growlers and Temples, and have made festival stops in the US, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Spain and their native Switzerland.

Last month, I wrote about the acclaimed Swiss duo, and as you may recall “Discodanken,” off the duo’s soon-to-be released album Bist So Symmetrisch managed to reveal a duo that’s expanded upon the sound that has won them national and international attention, as the song was a breezy arpeggiated synth-led track centered around a sinuous motorik groove and metronomic beats to create a hypnotic, dance floor friendly yet lysergic feel that brings to mind Vinyl Williams, Kraftwerk, Air, and Phoenix — with a retro-futuristic quality. Interestingly, Bist So Symmetrisch’s latest single “Out of Reach” may arguably be the album’s most dance floor friendly tracks, as its centered around a Kraftwerk-like motorik groove, a sinuous, disco-inspired bass line, arpeggiated synths and an infectious hook. Interestingly, the song manages to sound as though it were drawing from De Lux’s Scion AV Presents De Lux EP and Trans Europe Express-era Kraftwerk. 

Directed by  Ralph Kuehne and starring Patric Gehrig, Remo Seeland, Elvio Yair Avila Kai tha Boy, Regula Bühler and Kathrin Brun, the recently released video is a vividly surreal and feverish dream. 

 

With a handful of singles and their full-length debut Vaporwave, the Washington, DC-based indie electro rock and synth pop sextet Color Palette, comprised of Jay Nemeyer (vocals, guitar), Josh Hunter (guitar, keys, bass), Matt Hartenau (drums), Rogerio Naressi (keys) and Maryjo Mattea (vocals) received attention both locally and internationally from the likes of NME MagazineUSA Today, NPR and Impose Magazine— and adding to a growing profile, the band has shared bills with  Charli XCX, The Naked and Famous, Mother Mother, Day Wave, Yumi Zouma, Mr. Little Jeans, The Kickback, Spirit Animal, VanLadyLove and others.

Up until late last month, some time had passed since I had come across the DC-based sextet but as you may recall, the band had been busy working on their sophomore album, which is currently slated for release sometime next year — and the album’s first single “Sunburn,” was a breezy and anthemic track centered around shimmering and jangling guitar lines, ethereal electronics and a soaring hook paired with a wistful vocal that evokes the passing of summer, and the impending end of another year. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Chelsea” is a synth-based track that some have compared favorably to Depeche Mode, although to my my ears, the song recalls St. Lucia as the members of Color Palette layer of arpeggiated synths are paired with angular and hanging guitar chords, an a propulsive rhythm section — and while much like its predecessor, the song reveals a band that can craft a razor sharp and infectious hook, “Chelsea” may arguably be the most ambitious, arena rock friendly track they’ve written and released to date.

 

Throughout this site’s eight plus year history I’ve written a lot about the ridiculously prolific New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and longtime JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar, and as you’ll likely recall he has received attention for slickly produced, funky as hell, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, soul hip-hop, New Wave and others.  Interestingly, over the past year or so, the longtime JOVM mainstay has increasingly employed the use of live instrumentation to his remixes; in fact, his latest remix finds him taking on the Depeche Mode classic “Never Let Me Down Again.”

Featuring Jason Spillman (bass), Angus Mashgyver (guitar) and samples of Heavenly Music Corporation and Cliff Martinez, the remix retains Dave Gahan‘s imitable vocal but places it within a slightly more up-tempo setting with layers upon layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, a dance floor friendly break, and ambient flute and other instrumentation to bolster the song’s melody in the song’s quieter moments. Live bass and guitar give the song a muscular and funky heft. But while pushing the song from ambient and industrial electro pop to thumping, industrial-inspired house, Rhythm Scholar manages to retain the most important quality of the song — it’s brooding, emotional quality.