Throughout the past couple of years, I’ve written a quite a bit about Ron Gallo, a Philadelphia-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist and JOVM mainstay, whose musical career began in earnest with an eight year stint as the frontman […]
Maria Del Pilar is a Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician, whose family immigrated to the States when she was a child. After developing roots in her adoptive hometown, Del Pilar became an integral part of the city’s music scene as the frontwoman of the critically acclaimed local act, Los Abandoned. Pilar’s solo debut Songs + Canciones I was released to critical praise for Del Pilar’s ability to craft infectious pop hooks that possess a rock ‘n’ roll grit that recalled her Riot Grrl roots. Interestingly, Songs + Canciones I‘s lead single “En El Dancefloor” skyrocketed to the top of the Mexican radio charts and led to shows at Vive Latino and Mexico City’s prestigious The Zocalo.
Songs + Canciones II, the highly-anticipated follow-up to Del Pilar’s solo debut is slated for a November 2, 2018 release, and while finishing up the album, Del Pilar has managed to collaborate with a diverse array of renowned artists including Chicano Batman, Francisca Valenzuela, and Tegan & Sara; in fact, the album features collaborations with a virtual who’s who of the Los Angeles music scene, including members of Chicano Batman, No Doubt, Las Cafeteras, Fitz + The Tantrums and others. But in the meantime, the Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has also performed as a backing singer during tUnE yArDs’ most recent appearance on Conan. Adding to a growing profile, “Se Me Hace Mas” was recently featured on the new Starz drama Vida.
“Original Dreamer,” Songs + Canciones II’s latest single is of our current sociopolitical moment, as it was written while the Trump Administration and the Republican led house was busily repealing DACA, which struck a chord both personally and politically. After the introduction and approval of 2001’s DREAM Act, millions of undocumented minors were granted legal residency in the States along with their parents and guardians. Del Pilar’s mother and father were among the first DREAMers — but sadly, her mother died when she was 12. The stories reminded me of what I saw my parents go through when I was a kid immigrating from Chile to the US,” Del Pilar says in press notes. “I had a chance to thank my father for these sacrifices but never got a chance to thank my mom. This song gives me that chance.”
Produced by Poolside‘s Flip Nikolic, the song features looping, psych rock-inspired guitar lines from Chicano Batman’s Carlos Arevalo — and while centered around a fiercely held belief that no one is an illegal alien, the percussive, deep groove-driven song manages to bring Fear of Music-era Talking Heads to mind; but with a bold, distinctly Latin flavor and vibe, along with some infectious hooks. Of course, at its core is a deep (and much-needed) empathy and understanding of the plight of society’s most vulnerable, reminded the listener that a great deal of Americans are descendants of those who have taken great risks and had enormous dreams.
Pollens is a New York-based art pop/dance pop duo, Jeff and Elizabeth, and the act can trace its origins to when Jeff and Elizabeth met while working on a short, anachronistic opera-like project. Shortly after, they worked on a song cycle focused on the specifics of being human, social anxiety and social media — i.e. receiving Facebook birthday reminders from dead people, and so on. Since their formation they’ve released two EPs’ 83 and Mister Manufacture, and as the duo explains in press notes, the material is about being around people, checking your phone, being high in the city, Googling conspiracies and conspiracy theories and making summer mistakes among other things; but from the perspective of newcomers to New York, who are equally in awe of their surroundings, terrified and absolutely confused by — well, everything around them.
Apart from that, their sound, as you’ll hear on their latest single “$$$_PSA” is centered around layers of percussion, arpeggiated synths, electronic noise, chopped up samples, bright and ethereal melodies, and shouted non-sequiturs. It’s unique and pretty fucking weird while being simultaneously dance floor friendly in a way that brings to mind The B52s, DEVO, Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem, but with a neurotic energy that feels as though its creators were bouncing off the wall. As the duo’s Jeff Aaron Bryant admits, “Our songs aren’t about anything . . . that’s a promise. For this one, ‘$$$_PSA, we’ve got a few flavors of moneyed people — their entitlement, the space they’re taking up on the train, their shoes and conversations, and every so often, we hear someone else making an announcement. Really, that’s it . . .”
When asked to explain more about the song, Bryant instead talks about his obsession with announcements. “I love announcements- anything anyone says over an intercom or public address system. I love how announcements are always inescapably loud or barely audible. And I love how announcements have their own music that’s specific to the information that’s being announced- like on an airplane, no one ever says “be careful opening the overhead bins” they always say “do use caution while opening the overhead storage compartments”. The word ‘Do’ is extra and weird sounding but always pitched higher than the rest of the sentence even though ‘caution’ is the important part. And whatever, an announcement is just some regular person reading from a script, but for a few moments, the microphone literally elevates their voice and they join with the authority, the public interest, the rules and safety… sales become sales events, customers become following guests, clerks become the next available customer service representative.”
Currently comprised of founding trio Alex Kapranos (lead vocals, guitar), Bob Hardy (bass) and Paul Thomson (drums, percussion and backing vocals), along with newest members Julian Corrie (keys, synths, guitar and backing band), who joined last year, replacing founding member Nick McCarthy and the recently added Dino Bardot (guitar), the Glasgow, Scotland, UK-based indie rock/post punk act Franz Ferdinand formed back in 2002. And with the release of their first two singles “Darts of Pleasure” and “Take Me Out” the members of the Glasgow-based indie rock act quickly saw commercial and critical success — with “Take Me Out,” becoming the band’s signature song, as it eventually peaked at #1 the UK Singles Chart, and earning a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal. Additionally, their eponymous, 2004 full-length debut received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album and won the Mercury Prize, helping the Scottish indie rockers to establish themselves at the forefront of the early 2000s post-punk revival movement.
Their 2005 Rich Costey-produced sophomore effort, You Could Have It So Much Better was released to critical and commercial success with the album peaking within the Top Ten Charts in multiple countries, and as a result, the album received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album with album single “Do You Want To” receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal. However, with 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, the members of the Scottish indie act moved away from the post-punk sound that first won them international attention to a much more dance floor oriented sound — all while continuing an impressive run of commercial and critical success. They promptly followed that up with a remix album of Tonight, titled Blood, which was released that summer.
2013 saw the release of Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action but they managed to follow that effort up by teaming up with Sparks to form indie supergroup FFS, which released their self-tiltled album in 2015. Now, you may recall that Franz Ferdinand’s fifth album Always Ascending was released on Friday, and from the album single “Feel The Love Go,” the band has continued with a disco-leaning take on the Gang of Four-like post punk that first won them international attention — but with warm blasts of Hall and Oates/blue-eyed soul era saxophone that gives the song a quirky quality. “Lazy Boy,” much like its predecessor is a sleek, dance floor friendly track with a funky, disco-inspired bass line, four-on-the-floor drumming and a slick hook; but interestingly enough, the song finds the quintet at their most adventurous and mischievous, as the song also features twinkling synths and a loose, Rolling Stones “Emotional Rescue”-like vibe.
Recently, the renowned Glasgow-based post-punk act was on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to perform album title track Always Ascending, a sleek, dance floor friendly song that in some way seems to nod at Talking Heads’ cover of “Take Me to the River” — but with surprisingly soaring and infectious hook.
Comprised of Dean Rodney, Jr. (vocals, rapping, songwriting), Matthew Howe (guitar), Charles Stuart (bass, co-songwriter, background vocals), best known for being a member of Grace Jones‘ touring band, and Andrew Mclean (drums) with Felipe Pagani (guitar) joining in on live shows, the London-based indie act The Fish Police formed back in 2010 and is a unique and pioneering act, as it features neurodiverse personnel — Rodney, Jr., Howe and Mclean are all on the autistic spectrum, with Howe and Mclean being trained by the band’s Stuart at the London creative arts charity and label Heart n Soul. Sonically, the neurodiverse act have developed a reputation for an electronic-based sound that draws from hip-hop, soul, 16 bit era computer game soundtracks and Afro-punk among others
The Fish Police’s forthcoming EP Edging Myself to the Middle reportedly sees Dean Rodney, Jr. taking on a slightly bigger role in terms of bringing musical ideas to the creative table. Interestingly, because of his autism, Rodney, Jr. sees life through a very different angle and consequently, the lyrical themes and concepts he explores in his lyrics are humorously surreal while possessing a deceptive, childlike simplicity. After all, along with the aforementioned influences of hip-hop, soul, computer game soundtracks and Afro-punk, the band is influences by cartoons, fast food and Japanese culture — and as a result they band has built up quite a bit of buzz; in fact, the band will be playing sets at this year’s SXSW. Edging Myself to the Middle‘s latest single “Cactus” is inspired by one of the cacti in the meeting room of their label’s offices, and the song finds the band pairing Rodney, Jr’s inventively surreal and childlike lyrics with glitchy electronics and funky and propulsive groove reminiscent of Fear of Music-era Talking Heads. But the bigger point is that this band should remind the listener of the inherent value of everyone — and that everyone has a story that should be told that respects their dignity and humanity.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you may be familiar with the Los Angeles, CA-based JOVM mainstays Sego. And as you may recall, the indie act, comprised of the Mapleton, UT-born duo Spencer Peterson and Thomas Carroll, eventually relocated to Los Angeles to seriously purse careers in music — and as soon as the duo landed in Los Angeles, Peterson and Carroll quickly developed a reputation for employing contemporary production techniques while maintaining an eccentric and human touch that drew upon several disparate sources. “Townland,” the first single I wrote about reminded me of Talking Heads and Superhuman Happiness, while “Obscene Dream” off their full-length debut, Once Was Lost Now Just Hanging Out was reminiscent of Sound of Silver-era LCD Soundystem.
Last December, the duo closed out 2017 with “Sucker/Saint,” which found the duo adopting a jangling, hook-driven, 90s grunge rock-inspired sound, reminiscent of Pixies, The Posies and others while revealing some rather ambitious songwriting, as the duo nodded at psych rock, krautrock and guitar pop. “Cigarette Kids,” the Los Angeles-based duo’s first single of 2018 continues in a somewhat similar vein as its immediate predecessor as it features a jangling and shuffling hook; however, there this particular song seems to have more of a dreamy, almost krautrock vibe thanks to atmospheric synths and a motorik-like groove. And yet, underlying the dreamy vibes of the entire thing, the song reportedly dives further into Spencer Petersen’s relationship with his adopted hometown and its day-to-day culture — and in some way, it’s a bemused view an outsider, who can’t figure out why the people he’s around say the things they say or do the things they do.
Miles Francis is a 26 year-old, New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who may be one of the city’s most best kept and accomplished secrets; he’s best known for stints as a member of JOVM mainstays Superhuman Happiness, and Antibalas , as the frontman for sadly defunct, local Afrobeat/Afropop collective EMEFE, and as a working musician, he has collaborated and performed with an impressive array of artists including Mark Ronson, Sharon Jones, Amber Mark, Angelique Kidjo, Allen Toussaint, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Arcade Fire’s Will Butler and others.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year, you’d recall that the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter released his glitchy and jerky debut single “You’re a Star,” which featured propulsive polyrhythm and, 8 bit Nintendo-like synths wrapped around cooed vocals. And while the track finds Miles’ sound still drawing from the Afropop and Afrobeat that has been at the core of most of his work. but while nodding at Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads.
Building upon a growing profile as a solo artist, Miles Francis debut EP Swimmers is slated for a February 2, 2018 release. Written in the back of our vans and various hotel rooms while on the road and then recorded in his basement studio, the material reportedly captures the mood and vibe of someone in their early to mid 20s figuring out themselves, the extremely complicated and ambivalent world they’re confronting as adults, how they fit into that world, their purpose and the meaning of their own lives. As Miles Francis explains in press notes, “These five songs captured a raw time for me, when life seemed to be coming to a head. I made an effort not to touch or edit them too much once I had recorded them. I wanted to keep that intimacy in there,” he says. Interestingly, the EP’s first official single “Take It” featured a swaggering and self-assured arrangement featuring arpeggiated synths, a sinuous, funky bass line, boom bap-like drumming and an incredibly infectious hook; but despite that, the song’s narrator seemingly finds himself fighting through crippling self-doubt and uncertainty, which give step song a tense and conflicted vibe.
The EP’s second and latest single “Complex” features a slowly strutting grove, gently undulating synths, a sinuous bass line, boom bap-like beats and a slow-burning, unexpected sultry hook — and much like his preceding singles, “Complex” will further cement the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter’s growing reputation for crafting thoughtful, out of left field pop.
The recently released video for “Complex” continues Miles Francis’ ongoing collaboration with director Charles Billot features the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter submerged underwater as plumes of colored smoke gently drift over him and the water, before he slowly pulls his head above water. Interestingly, the visuals manage to be dream-like while further emphasizing the song’s sultry and hypnotic quality.