Tag: Turntable Kitchen

 

Born Jennifer Hays, the Tucson, AZ-born, Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jenn Champion can trace the origins of her music career to when she met her then-future Carissa’s Wierd bandmates Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke at the local pizza shop, where they all worked. In 1997, the trio first moved to Olympia, WA for about a year, before settling in Seattle, where the trio formed Carissa’s Wierd. The band released three albums before splitting up in 2003 — but interestingly, the trio cultivated a rabid cult following, which has resulted in the release of three compilation albums of their work, including 2010’s They’ll Only Miss You When You’re Gone: Songs 1996-2003, which was released through Hardly Art Records.

Since Carissa’s Wierd’s breakup, the Tuscon-born, Seattle-based Champion has focused on several acclaimed solo projects such as the guitar and vocal-based pop project S, with which she has released four albums, including 2010’s I’m Not As Good At It As You and 2014’s Chris Walla-produced Cool Choices. While critics and fans have applauded and gushed over her open-hearted lyrics and willingness to eschew conventions while crafting sad songs meant to be cried to and with. Now, as you may recall, the last half or so of Champion’s last S album found her moving towards an electronic-based sound with “No One”  being a complete embrace of electronics. “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” Champion said at the time. And although she intended to follow up Cool Choices with “a rock record — guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” her plans had changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.”

After the release of “No One,” Champion’s music publisher partnered her with Brian Fennell, an electronic music artist, songwriter and producer best known as SYML and the pair co-wrote “Leave Like That,” which was featured on SYML‘s Hurt For Me EP. Champion and Fennell hit it off so well that after Champion had written the demos for last year’s Single Rider, she enlisted Fennell as a producer. Fennell agreed and they spent the next five months working on and refining the material on Single Rider. As Champion recalls, “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been,” and as a result the material evolved into a slickly produced, anthemic dance floor friendly album; however, the new album reportedly finds Champion maintaining the earnest emotionality and vulnerability that has won her attention — but this time, the album’s material finds the acclaimed Seattle-based singer/songwriter imploring the listener to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance heartache, outrage and disappointment away, for a little bit at least.

Turntable Kitchen has spent the past few years with the Sounds Delicious vinyl club. Over the course of its 13 previously released editions, a carefully curated collection of bands have released a full-length cover album. Interestingly, Jenn Champion has joined the ranks of an eclectic array of artists — and her cover album, the 14th of the series will find her taking on Weezer‘s 1994 full-length debut, The Blue Album. The first single off Jenn Champion’s The Blue Album cover is an icy, New Wave-like synth-based reworking of “Undone — The Sweater Song.”

Although Champion replaces the fuzzy power chords with layers of shimmering and atmospheric synths and propulsive industrial synth pop-like beats, she retains the song’s enormous and beloved hook creating a modern rework without erasing the original’s social unease, awkwardness and longing. The Jenn Champion cover reminds the listener that despite its release over 25 years ago, it’s a crafted bit of incredibly anthemic fuzzy power pop that manages to still sound contemporary and relevant, which is a rare thing for most of the material released during the same decade.

“I knew I wanted to take a synth heavy approach to this album, and in my mind The Blue Album was pretty straight-forward indie power pop,” Champion says in press notes. “But as I was deconstructing all the parts and putting the songs back together, I realized how much nuanced there is to [Rivers] Cuomo’s songwriting style. It’s a testament to his talent  that he can make an entire record of songs we want to sing along to and don’t realize just how weird those songs are.”

“I will say it was a challenge, a really fun challenge (!) to keep true to what makes these songs so great while putting them through an electronic lens.” 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Yumi Zouma Releases a Breezy Club Banger

Over the course of this site’s almost nine year history, I’ve spilled quite of virtual ink over the acclaimed, internationally-based synth pop act Yumi Zouma. And as you may recall, the act which is now currently comprised of Christie Simpson, Charlie Ryder and Josh Burgess initially formed in their hometown of  Christchurch, New Zealand; however, since the 2011 earthquake that devastated their hometown and the rest of the region, the members of the band have been split across different locations across the globe with members residing in New York, Paris and Christchurch.

Primarily writing and recorded by email, the band wasn’t initially meant to be a live band but they received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a breezy yet bittersweet, 80s synth pop-inspired sound centered around Christie Simpson’s ethereal and tender vocals. Since the release of their Turntable Kitchen released cover of Oasis’ 1995 full-length effort, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, the renowned synth pop act released an EP trilogy, with the last EP, the aptly titled EP III being released through their longtime label home  Cascine Records last September.

The act’s latest single “Bruise” continues the act’s long-held reputation for crafting breezy, hook-driven synth pop with an underlying bittersweet quality — but the new single may arguably be the most dance floor friendly track they’ve released to date, as it also possesses a muscular and propulsive thump. Interestingly, as the band notes the origins of their latest single were steeped in loss, as the instrumental part of the song was written after Sam Perry informed the rest of the band that he was leaving the band and moving to Serbia — but the track has become a beacon for optimism for the band. “We were all distraught until Josh said ‘Cheer me up guys — let’s write a song for Nelly Furtado. Nelly never replied but we came up with a smash.” 

New Video: Yumi Zouma Releases a Funky, Dance Floor Friendly, 80s Synth Pop Inspired Jam

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally renowned synth pop act Yumi Zouma, and as you may recall the act, which is comprised of Christchurch, New Zealand-born Christie Simpson, Sam Perry, Charlie Ryder and Josh Burgess have been split across various locations across the globe — primarily New York, Paris and Christchurch — after the 2011 earthquake that ravaged both their hometown and the region at large. Primarily writing and recorded by email, the band wasn’t initially meant to be a live band; however, they’ve received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a breezy yet bittersweet, 80s synth pop-inspired sound centered around Christie Simpson’s ethereal vocals. Since the release of their Turntable Kitchen released cover of Oasis’ 1995 full-length effort, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, the renowned synth pop act has been busily writing and recording an EP trilogy — with the last part of the trilogy EP III slated for a September 28, 2018 release through Cascine Records.

“In Camera,” EP III’s first single was a swooning bit of synth pop with a soaring hook that sonically nodded a bit at  A Flock of Seagulls‘ “I Ran (So Far Away)“, complete with reverb fed instrumentation, a cinematic vibe and a clean, super more production sheen — and while seemingly effortlessly breezy, the song is underpinned by a deliberate and very careful attention to craft, as the members of the band refine each song until it’s absolutely perfect.  “Crush (It’s Late, Just Stay)” EP III’s latest single is centered around thumping beats, a shuffling guitar line, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and a sultry and sinuous bass line and while being a hook-driven, dance floor friendly song, it manages to sound as though it were released in 1983 or so, as it recalls Cherelle’s “Saturday Love” and others. 

Interestingly, as the band’s Josh Burgess explains in press notes, “This song began life as an experiment recording with a fellow Kiwi (Liam Finn) at his studio in 2015. The studio was aptly named The End as it was situated at the very end of Greenpoint Avenue overlooking Transmitter Park which was arguably one of the best views of Manhattan at the time. The End hosted a few different studios, including Jacob Portrait’s (Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Blouse) who mixed ‘In Camera’ as well as rehearsal spaces (I once walked in on The Congo’s rehearsing!). We smoked on the roof and had a bash at making a song together, which is what we sampled in the verses of ‘Crush’. The working title was ‘First Class Lounge’ because it sounded like some kind of musak that would be playing as background before rich people boarded a Concord. 

Unfortunately, The End had a sad finale courtesy of a fire that ripped through the building. Thankfully no one was hurt, but a lot of the gear was wrecked. My girlfriend lives a couple blocks away and over morning coffees we’ll often stroll through Transmitter looking up at the shell of the studio. Like most things in New York it’s relegated to a memory now, but a lot of great music came out of that building!”

The accompanying video features the classically-inspired artwork of Aiden Koch, set among bold and bright colors, animated by Joseph Brennan — and interestingly, while reminding me of the introductory sequence of an 80s rom com, it manages to evoke the flirtatious nature of the song. 

New Audio: Yumi Zouma Releases a Breezy Yet Bittersweet Summer Jam

Comprised of Christchurch, New Zealand-born Christie Simpson, Sam Perry, Charlie Ryder and Josh Burgess, the members of internationally renowned synth pop act Yumi Zouma have been spread across the world with most of the band’s members relocating to New York and Paris after the massive 2011 earthquake. Primarily writing by email, the project wasn’t initially meant to be a live project — but interestingly enough over the years, they’ve received attention for breezy yet bittersweet 80s synth pop centered around Christie Simpson’s ethereal vocals. Since the release of their Turntable Kitchen released cover of Oasis’ 1995 full-length effort, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, the renowned synth pop act has been busily writing and recording an EP trilogy — with the last part of the trilogy EP III slated for a September 28, 2018 release through Cascine Records.
EP III’s first single is the swooning synth pop “In Camera,” a single that will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting summery yet bittersweet pop centered around Simpson’s ethereal vocals, a soaring hook, shimmering synths and guitars. Sonically speaking, the song nods at a bit at A Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran (So Far Away)”, complete with reverb fed instrumentation but with a cinematic air and a clean, modern production sheen. But interestingly enough, the material is underpinned by a careful attention to craft with the members of the synth pop act revising and bouncing ideas off each other until each song is absolutely perfect.

As the band says in press notes “There’s something really special about the EP format. It’s been so long since we worked on one that we all had forgotten how fun and liberating they can be.”

This EP, both in its material and how it was written and recorded, feels really close to EP I & II. Spread again between three countries, bouncing endless revisions of a song until it’s right, falling asleep on FaceTime trying to write lyrics together and the exhilaration of waking up to NEW SONG VERSION 5 – it threw us back to how we worked on material when we thought no one would ever listen.

We’ve completed our EP family. It’s the little sibling none of us had growing up and none of us knew we could love so much.”

Comprised of Christie Simpson, Sam Perry, Charlie Ryder, Josh Burgess, Yumi Zouma have developed an international profile for crafting breezy and infectious, 80s-inspired synth pop. Recently, the folks at Turntable Kitchen invited the band to take part of their monthly vinyl subscription series Sounds Delicious, in which bands cover any full-length album they love, and reimagine it from front to back. Interestingly, the quartet decided on Oasis‘ 1995 full-length effort, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

As the band’s Charlie Ryder told Gorilla Vs. Bear in an interview “Even when we realized that an Oasis album could potentially be an option in terms of something we could actually do in a Yumi Zouma way, we weren’t 100% sure where it would just sound totally ridiculous or not. It wasn’t until we tried the first song we had an initial idea for — ‘Champagne Supernova’ — that we knew we had finally settled on something rad.  Yumi Zouma’s cover turns the anthemic, Brit Pop classic into a mid-tempo, buoyant and ethereal synth pop track with a subtle Tropicalia vibe that retains the original’s anthemic hook and trippy vibe.