Category Archives: Electro-pop

Open Windows 3: Deap Vally grinds and Alexis Taylor unwinds

Prince’s influence on the music world after his death continues unabated. Via FactMag, Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor has now covered the Prince unreleased rarity, “Old Friends 4 Sale,” with heartfelt, somber piano notes. Taylor unplugging himself from his electro-synth world is jarring enough; Taylor explaining how he wanted to relearn the song as a tribute to Prince is even more emotional.

 

Deap Valley’s finally got new music on the horizon, and we’re thankful they haven’t changed their stripes. The female duo continues their blues-punk, guitar-dripping sound with the slow-burning track “Royal Jelly” and some advice for those who want to rule the world.

Deap Vally’s album Femijism, produced by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Nick Zinner, will be out Sept. 16 on Nevado.

Watch the video below:

Read NPR’s blurb on Deap Vally in their “New Mix” wrapup: http://www.npr.org/player/embed/484374847/484377500

Deap Vally also released the video last month for “Smile More,” a tender ode to guys who try that advice on others.  “I am not ashamed of my age/ I am not ashamed of my rage,” Lindsey Troy sings. Deap Vally always knows the right thing to say.

 

The first two songs off Lando Chill’s upcoming album are more than just promising. The Tucson hip-hop artist spits honest truth, whether he’s feeling just fine rolling a bowl on “Early In the Morning” or fighting demons like depression on “Coroner”:

“There’s no more to say, no more to pay, no world to save / I’m not the man you believe in, see I’m just the man you were leaving,” Lando Chill says rather calmly on the song, and you believe he’s got something bubbling underneath the surface.

His album, For Mark, Your Son, will be out Aug. 12 on Mello Music Group. Listen on Bandcamp:

 

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Filed under Covers, Electro-pop, Garage Punk, Hardcore punk, Hip-Hop, Indie electronic, Open Windows New Music, Uncategorized

On ‘Anti,’ Rihanna finally slows down and finds her center

Listening to Rihanna’s new album, Anti, it’s obvious there’s no mega-hit — there’s no eletcro-pop gem like “Diamonds,” no “Umbrella”-like anthem.

After her frantic run of albums over several years, Rihanna, paused, tweaked and molded, ripped down and rebuilt Anti. Anti is not a particularly happy or uplifting album either. Rihanna’s emotions shift constantly, from loneliness to lust, vulnerability to indecision.

But there’s still plenty about Anti to love. The depth and darkness she’s uncovered here is the farthest she’s come personally in her music, and it makes for a compelling and captivating album.

Her decision to drop the singles “BBHMM,” “American Oxygen” and “FourFiveSeconds” from Anti was the right one — and whether Anti yields an R&B hit doesn’t seem to concern her right now.

She begins by reclaiming her Barbadian accent on “Consideration,” forgoing her earlier Americanized vocals. “I got to do things my own way darling / “Will you ever let me?” she chants defiantly.

The interlude “James Joint” boils down her love life to smoking weed, making out and not giving a damn about anything else. Although it’s the briefest song, the swirl of soft electro-pop notes is the sexiest on the entire album. Another slow jam, “Kiss It Better,” features an‘80s-era guitar hook that could just as easily be a Prince write-off.

She can play the good girl just as easily as the bad, and it’s her prerogative which character she chooses to embody. She doesn’t need to waste time with emotional baggage on “Needed Me” (“But baby, don’t get it twisted/You was just another n—- on the hit list/Trying to fix your issues with a bad b*tch.”)  Later on the album she plays the vulnerable woman who’s uncertain how to feel when she finds herself in the pangs of new love on the docile acoustic pop of “Never Ending.”

But her best work comes toward the end.

She lets loose on the doo-wop tune “Higher,” accentuating its distorted, wobbly strings, and on its sister tune — the slow, retro 1-2-3 beat of “Love on the Brain” – she’s never been more daring. “I’m tired of being played like a violin,” she says. When her voice is stripped of electronic assets and allowed to become grainy and raw, it shines.

By the time Rihanna closes Anti with a tender piano ballad, it’s clear she’s evolved; you get the sense that she’s come to terms with or is at peace with whatever demons she was fighting. Those annual album drops may now be a thing of the past.

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Filed under Doo Wop, Electro-pop, Pop, Review, Uncategorized

What David Bowie means to me

I wrote these few notes on David Bowie at 2:30 a.m., after I found out the news that the longtime rock legend had died.
There’s nothing I can really say that isn’t going to be said or felt by every Bowie fan, but I just wanted to offer some thoughts about his impact on the world of music.

David Bowie color

Bowie was one of the first things I wrote about for this blog. His name or influence would pop up every now and then in stories, whenever art, music, culture and life collided or intersected. I wrote about his exhibit at London’s V & A in 2013 — where his unique fashions and music memorabilia paid a visit — and that time he invited everyone to check out his book list. When he tweeted to the astronaut Chris Hadfield after Hadfield performed “Space Oddity” in space, confirmed he knows how to stay relevant in every decade he’s lived through. David Bowie’s been everywhere, but always on his own terms.

The body of work he’s left us is immeasurable.
By not bowing to industry pressure and not compromising his sound or views, he’s created his own style of music, his own “coolness,” that no other artist has ever been able to duplicate.

I was lucky enough to see David Bowie at Lollapalooza in the early ’90s, performing with Nine Inch Nails. From what I recall, Bowie’s performance at Mansfield in Boston was a surprise — the crowd wasn’t expecting him. I admit I didn’t know a lot about Bowie at the time — I was too sheltered in my tiny worldview of music and didn’t understand his huge impact early on.

David Bowie

But that night, seeing him from a hundred rows back, solitary, standing still, the Thin White Duke in a long black coat, you knew with one look that he was in a class by himself, that you were in the presence of rock royalty. He commanded the crowd. It’s one of those concert memories that stays with you.

Whether it was the Jareth the Goblin King, Aladdin Sane or Ziggy Stardust, or whether you have strong feelings about the quality of “Modern Love,” Bowie owned whatever persona he embodied at that time. He stood by every decision he made, including his choice to have Blackstar be his farewell.

David-Bowie1

David Bowie arrives at the 11th annual Webby Awards at Chipriani Wall Street on June 5, 2007, in New York City.

So if you haven’t heard his music before or don’t know much about him, there’s a really good chance you’ll find a song in his catalog that you can relate to or reminisce about.

David-Bowie-vert Wartermark

That’s what made him great — his ability to reach across the aisle toward any genre he felt an attraction to. No one can really fill that void, but he’s left behind an amazing collection of music that we can turn to, to stay in touch with the weird in all of us.

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Filed under Art, Art rock, Artpop, Electro-pop, Experimental, Glam Rock, Photography, Pop, Rock, Space rock, Uncategorized

Hear Plaitum’s glittery synthpop on single “Carousel”

The duo of Plaitum has been busy these days. Producer Matt Canham creates these glittery synthpop and electronic hooks, which curl and ebb around Abi Dersiley’s dramatic, vixen-y vocals. The London group have been friends since they were kids who connected through horror films, Massive Attack and Talking Heads.

Check out “Carousel,” the second release off their upcoming EP, listen below:

Dersiley told Stereogum that ” ‘ Carousel’ is basically about drowning in someone else’s deception,” and according to Canham, “Abi played these massive climatic chords on the keyboard and we just ran with the idea of making a really ’80s crescendo around it.”

 

Plaitum’s self-titled EP is out Dec. 4 on Wolf Tone records.

Tracklist:
1. LMHY
2. Carousel
3. Higher
4. Sway

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Filed under Electro-pop, Electronic, New Music, Synth, Synth pop, Uncategorized

Stranger Cat becomes the hunted in video for “Red”

Stranger Cat Red

Brooklyn artist Stranger Cat (Cat Martino) has released a Twin Peaks-themed video for her new song “Red.”

The storybook video, which is nothing short of creepy, tells the story of a woman who’s just out for a bike ride when she gets a flat tire. She decides to get help at a random house. Bad choice. At the house, a magician (Schneider) regales her with colorful ribbons and fancy tricks. After she puts on a bejeweled red ring, she wakes up in a grassy field, basically imprisoned and brainwashed by the magician. She’s about to be burned while tied to a tree, but breaks free, tosses the ring in the lake and dives below the water.

Martino’s voice, which ranges from seemingly calm to angry and disturbed, lends an unearthly quality to the electro-pop song.

The video features actor Charles Schneider (who appeared in the movies Ghost World, Tombstone and Beetlejuice) and was directed and edited by Martino.

On her Facebook page today, Martino wrote: “XXXTRA points 4 whoever can figure out which scene caused me to be hospitalized 4 poison ivy.”

Stranger Cat’s debut album In the Wilderness is out now on Joyful Noise. She’s out on tour now with Chad Valley.

10/5: Des Moines, Iowa @ Vaudeville Mews 

10/6: St Paul, Minnesota @ Turf Club 

10/7: Kansas City, Missouri @ The Riot Room 

10/8: Denver, CO @ Lost Lake Lounge 

10/9: Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court 

10/10: Boise, Idaho @ The Reef 

10/12: Seattle, WA @ Barboza 

10/3: Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios 

10/15: San Francisco, CA @ Bottom Of The Hill 

10/17: San Diego, CA @ The Hideout 

10/19: Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar 

10/20: El Paso, TX @ The Lowbrow Palace 

10/21: Dallas, TX @ Three Links 

10/22: Austin, TX @ Red 7 

10/23: San Antonio, TX @ Limelight 

10/24: Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon 

10/25:  Atlanta, GA @ Purgatory 

10/28: New Haven, CT @ BAR 

10/29: Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right 

10/30: Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle 

10/31: Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall 

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Filed under Electro-pop, Tour Dates, VIdeos

Cold Beat’s sophomore album “Into the Air” shows a band in sync

After a strong showing with their debut LP “Over Me” just last year, punk and electro-pop band Cold Beat is back with “Into the Air.”

Already, the band seems deeply in sync, a feat that could take more than a few albums for a new band to master before they can focus on pushing personal boundaries.

Bassist, vocalist and primary songwriter Hannah Lew, previously with the San Francisco surf-rock trio Grass Widow, easily carries the weight of Cold Beat’s vocals. Her strong yet angelic sound acts as a guiding light for the album’s dark points. Add the rest of the band’s playful pop/synth style, and Cold Beat can embody the punk-crossover rebellion of Blondie or the bleeding-heart shoegaze of Dum Dum Girls.

Lew’s lush voice soars throughout the album — it radiates romantic warmth, mirroring Debbie Harry’s opulent style.

Haunting, isolating melodies and moody soundscapes are what Cold Beat does best, evident in the synthwave wanderings of the instrumental “Clouds” and the drum-machine and space-rock album closer “Ashes.”

But the band can also change its attitude within a song. They build tension with a guitar clang and propulsive drumming on the protopunk “Sisters,” a song that later finds solace in a flowing melody, which was somehow there all along. Compare those textures with the brisk guitar strumming of the straightforward “Am I Dust,” or Lew’s heartbreaking indecision on “Broken Lines,” and Cold Beat’s broad versatility on “Into the Air” becomes even clearer.

The new album, “Into the Air” was on Lew’s label Crime On the Moon on Sept. 4.

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Filed under Dream pop, Electro-pop, Indie Rock, New Wave, Post-punk, Punk, Review, Space rock, Synth pop

Enjoy this stream of Cold Beat’s new album “Into the Air”

The punk electro-pop band Cold Beat is streaming their new album “Into the Air.” The new album, their second LP and out Sept. 4 on Crime On the Moon, shows off the group’s wide range of influences.

Strong vocals throughout, from bassist and vocalist Hanna Lew, embody the rich-sounding youth of early Blondie’s pop nuggets and that punk rock sound, as on “Broken Lines.” Lew’s voice may be the closest to Debby Harry’s as you can get, while still maintaining her own identity. Her vocals soar freely throughout the album, emitting a dreamwave warmth.

The vintage synth sound of “Am I Dust” and the ragged guitar intro and propulsive drumming of the punk-driven “Sisters” both show the band’s broad versatility on the album. They can be haunting, as on the instrumental “Clouds” and moody, on the space-rock closer “Ashes.” Through it all is Lew, who makes the whole thing sound easy. The San Francisco native‘s previous project was with the all-girl outfit Grass Widow.

Cold Beat only has a handful of tour dates, so you’ll have to head to Brooklyn to see them.

COLD BEAT NEW YORK DATES:

Fri. Sept. 18 – Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool

Sat. Sept. 19 – Brooklyn, NY @ Shea Stadium

Sun. Sept. 20 – New York, NY @ Other Music (7PM)

Sun. Sept. 20 – Brooklyn, NY @ Silent Barn

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Filed under Dream pop, Electro-pop, Indie Rock, New Wave, Punk, Space rock, Synth pop

Hear the Odesza/Little Dragon collaboration “Light”

Odesza today released a new single, “Light,” on which Swedish electronic band Little Dragon is featured. “Light” is part of a deluxe edition of “In Return,” coming Sept. 18 on Counter Records.

There’s a backstory to how Little Dragon and Odesza joined forces on “Light.” Little Dragon had sought out Odesza for a remix a song from their album “Nabuma Rubberband.” According to a press release, Little Dragon’s label sent Odesza the stems for a different song, which was not on the album. The idea sat for months, until Odesza and Little Dragon co-headlined a show in Boston. They got together then to build a new Odesza song around the Little Dragon vocal stem.

Listen to “Light” below. The two bands sound perfect together, like they should have collaborated a long time ago. Yukimi Nagano’s sensual R&B vocals intertwine and flows with Odesza’s trademark swaying melodies.

The deluxe edition of “In Return” will have live versions of “Bloom,” IPlayYouListen,” and “Say My Name” (which features Zyra), plus instrumental versions of each song on “In Return.”  A limited 10-inch vinyl will be out Nov. 1.

The second phase of the group’s just-announced tour includes dates in Australia, Germany and across the U.S.

ODESZA IN RETURN WORLD TOUR (new shows in bold):
Thu. Sept. 3 – Edmonton, AB @ The Starlite Room
Fri. Sept. 4 – Calgary, AB @ (Mad Decent Block Party)
Sat. Sept. 5 – El Paso, TX @ Sun City Music Festival
Sun. Sept. 6 – Stroud, OK @ Backwoods Camping & Music Festival
Thu. Sep. 24 – Wellington, New Zealand @ San Fran
Fri. Sep. 25 – Auckland, New Zealand @ St. James Theatre
Sat. Sep. 26 – Melbourne, Australia @ Listen Out Festival
Sun. Sep. 27 – Perth, Australia @ Listen Out Festival
Sat. Oct. 3 – Sydney, Australia @ Listen Out Festival
Sun. Oct. 4 – Brisbane, Australia @ Listen Out Festival
Fri. Oct. 9 – Brussels, Belgium @ VK
Sat. Oct. 10 – Paris, France @ Le Trianon
Sun. Oct.11 – Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg @ Rockhal
Wed. Oct. 14 – London, United Kingdom @ KOKO
Thu. Oct. 15 – Berlin, Germany @ Kesselhaus
Fri. Oct. 16 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso
Sat. Oct. 17 – Cologne, Germany @ Club Bahnhof
Fri. Oct. 30 – New Orleans, LA @ Joy Theater (SOLD OUT)
Sat. Oct. 31 – Live Oak, FL @ Suwannee Hulaween
Tue. Nov. 3 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade (2nd show added) (SOLD OUT)
Wed. Nov. 4 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade (SOLD OUT)
Thu. Nov. 5 – Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz (SOLD OUT)
Fri. Nov. 6 – Richmond, VA @ The National (SOLD OUT)
Sat. Nov. 7 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club (early show added) (SOLD OUT)
Sat. Nov. 7 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club (late show) (SOLD OUT)
Sun. Nov. 8 – Austin, TX @ Fun Fun Fun Fest
Wed. Nov. 11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer (early show added) (SOLD OUT)
Wed. Nov. 11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer (late show) (SOLD OUT)
Thu. Nov. 12 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5 (2nd show added) (SOLD OUT)
Fri. Nov. 13 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5 (SOLD OUT)
Sat. Nov. 14 – Boston, MA @ House Of Blues (SOLD OUT)
Fri. Nov. 15 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5 (3rd show added) (SOLD OUT)
Wed. Nov. 18 – Montreal, QC @ Olympia
Thu. Nov. 19 – Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy
Fri. Nov. 20 – Detroit, MI @ Masonic Temple Theatre
Sat. Nov. 21 – Chicago, IL @ Aragon Ballroom
Sun. Nov 22 – Madison, WI @ Orpheum Theater
Mon. Nov. 23 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
Tue. Nov. 24 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
Thu. Nov. 26 – Winnipeg, MB @ Garrick Centre
Fri. Nov. 27 – Saskatoon, SK @ O’Brians Event Centre
Tue. Dec. 1 – Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
Wed. Dec. 2 – Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
Thu. Dec. 3 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater (SOLD OUT)
Fri. Dec. 4 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater (SOLD OUT)
Sat. Dec. 5 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre (SOLD OUT)
Sun. Dec. 6 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre (2nd show added) (SOLD OUT)
Mon. Dec. 7 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre (3rd show added)
Fri. Dec. 11 – San Francisco, CA @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
Sat. Dec. 12 – Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Auditorium
Sun. Jan. 3 – Miami, FL @ Holy Ship!

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Filed under Dance-Synth, Electro-pop, Electronic, Synth-pop, Tour Dates, Trip-Hop

Night Beds releases a helluva good mixtape from the “Ivywild” recordings

I just have to post this right now — Night Beds’ Winston Yellen today released “Strangers In Paradise Mix,” a mixtape of sounds and songs they were listening to “in heavy rotation” while recording “Ivywild,” out today on Dead Oceans.

Drawing on Winston and Abe Yellen’s influences from J Dilla, Bill Evans and others, “Strangers In Paradise” is a mellow, diverse and highly compatible mix of R&B, electro-pop, Motown and hip-hop, with a Kanye West cover of “I Wonder” thrown in. Also sneakily embedded in the mixtape are “Ivywild” B-sides.

Listen to Night Beds’ “Tide Teeth” and “[9-6] slack-jaw” below:

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Filed under Electro-pop, Hip-Hop, Mixtape, R & B

DJ Andrew Weatherall remixes Gwenno’s “Chwyldro”

DJ, producer and remixer Andrew Weatherall has remixed electro-pop artist Gwenno Saunder’s song “Chwyldro” off Gwenno’s recent release, “Y Dydd Olaf” (“The Last Day”).

Gwenno, who was a dancer in her youth and was formerly leader of the Pipettes, sings almost the entire album in Welsh, a language only about 500,000 people in the world speak.

gwenno Y Dydd Olaf album cover

Gwenno has also culled her new music from a 1976 sci-fi novel by Owain Owain, billing “Y Dydd Olaf” as a political-concept album. The record is, at its core, a modern, refreshing take on ‘80s electro-pop and vintage-Cure and Krautrock styles.

Weatherall, as a producer, has worked with Beth Orton and Primal Scream, as well as remixed songs by Bjork, Siousxie Sioux, New Order, My Bloody Valentine and James.

Weatherall keeps alive the astro-rock elements of the original “Chwyldro,” while transforming Gwenno’s voice to a sultry whisper in a song that’s already breathy and dreamy. Weatherall adds frantic synth notes and Indian beats that lead you into Gwenno’s peaceful vocals.

Gwenno’s “Y Dydd Olaf” is out now on Heavenly Recordings.

Listen to the Andrew Weatherall Remix:

Watch Gwenno’s psychedelic/kaleidoscopic video for “Chwyldro”:

You should also check out the vintage sound of Gwenno’s “Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki.” It moves between early Cure via their “Seventeen Seconds,” with a pulsing synthesizer wave; it’s a slower take on the likes of Berlin’s “The Metro”:

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Filed under Dance-Synth, Electro-pop, Kraut rock, Space rock, Synth, Synth pop