Juniore is an all-female trio based in Paris, and “Marabout” their latest fantastic collection of psych-pop. It’s got a really great beat, and we’re totally freaking out to it.
“Marabout” finds the band mining fluid, in the pocket rhythms and bass lines that cast a more modern light on a worthy addition to the imperious French, 60s yé-yé and beat pop lineage, of a mind with artists such as Melody’s Echo Chamber and Julien Gasc. Like the best psych-pop, there’s a hint of malice just underneath the surface – opening track, “Mon autre” starts with a screech worthy of Psycho, while the title track features a malevolent, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins-ish cackle – and there’s more than a glimmer of M. Gainsbourg’s discomfiting atmospherics on show. There’s also elements of more American sounding 50s-60s pop and surf (perhaps not surprisingly) on closer and personal fave, “A la plage”, as well as the leftfield garage and pop of that era that would later inspire groups like The Cramps and The B-52s.
My french isn’t good enough to decipher much of the lyrics, so I was left to be swept away by the effortless charm and skill in the arrangements and the playing. Anna Jean’s vocals are beguilingly insouciant throughout, a calm amidst the groovy Shindig! party around her, which might inspire you to act like l’homme sur la gauche in this video. Effortless cool; hide your gauloises.
After releasing a few 7” singles and eps in Europe on Le Phonographe – all of which are available to purchase via their Bandcamp page – Juniore’s collected works are, happily, being given a U.S. release thanks to the formidable Burger Records. Be sure to also check out Juniore on fbook and twitter.
G-funk maestro DâM-FunK (Damon Riddink) and new romantic Nite Jewel (Ramona Gonzalez) collaborate as Nite-Funk [see what they did there?]. Last year, the duo let loose “Can U Read Me” into the world, then fell silent. Now, they’ve announced plans to release a self-titled ep on July 1. “Let Me Be Me” is a taster track from that release, and it’s great.
Where “Can U” veritably oozed 80s electro quiet storm romance – think Loose Ends, SOS Band and the Gap Band in full mack mode – “Let Me Be Me” bumps. It’s a perfect twining of early 80s, electro-disco and g-funk hooks – new wave ch-chang guitars and glassy synth chords, a doggedly atomic bassline and funky keyboard solos that would make Roger drool. Like Control-era Janet riding a D-Train groove. The bright neon lights, big mauve city vibes given off by the ep’s cover (below) perfectly suit the track’s mood.
Nite-Funk’s self-titled ep will be released on Riddink’s Glydezone Recordings label. Get down on it – the soul train line forms here.
Great new soul/r&b/pop from Pheeyownah, a Stockholm, Sweden-based singer and multi-instrumentalist.
She’s also an artist and dancer, and movement, atmosphere and expression is everywhere in evidence on her new ep, zero9zero9. Synthesized melodies swirl and sway betwixt and between multi-tracked vocals and churning rhythms in a manner similar, in style and tone, to Fade to Mind crew standout Kelela and other modern soul artists like Sza. Where those artists have a foot in both psychotropic “modern r&b” stylings and 80s/90s throwback rhythms (Janet Jackson, vocally, often seems a particular influence), Pheeyownah also folds in trip hop’s hypnotic, liquid soul and rhythmic ominousness – early Bjork (highlight “Mountain Peak, Sea Deep”, in particular, seems unearthed from a Nellie Hooper vault), bands like Massive Attack, GusGus and Lamb cast long shadows.
Be not afeared – this is a good thing. Senses are worked overtime across the ep’s four tracks, while there’s even a hint of a dancefloor banger unfurling in the insistent closer, “Cold Black Deserts”. Three of these tracks look to have been self-released previously on the Under the Dock ep, but have now been repackaged by fantastic Swedish label Labrador; hopefully, they’ll reach a wider audience.
zero9zero9 is out now. Check out more about Pheeyownah on fbook and her site. You can also find her prior, self-relead eps, on iTunes (“Pretty Lights”, from 2012’s City ep, is well worth a listen for a glimpse of a lighter side to her musical persona).
Jamila Woods is a Chicago-based poet, educator, playwright, and community activist. As if that weren’t enough, she’s also a singer possessed of an airy, languid voice that is the centerpiece of a fantastic new track, called “Heavn”.
Woods enters cooing modified lyrics from The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”, calling for a “trick” that “makes you love someone”; that “makes the winters warm”. The response is a paean to the joy of lasting love, free of (and in the face of) societal constructs and restrictions. Taking a hand, Woods leads a dynastic journey to a past where “great-great-great-great-great-great” grandparents “didn’t need a ring or a broom” to make their love eternal, the refrain “I don’t want to run away with you/I want to live our life right, here” providing comfort.
The track is a welcome throwback to the early days of the so-called ‘neo-soul’ movement, at the intersection of spoken word and hip hop. “Heavn” glides along a looped, propulsive tribe vibe instrumental sampled from The Roots’ DillaJoints cut, “Eve”, the mix reminding me of personal favorites like Ambersunshower, touching down via a prolonged outro. Transportive.
“Heavn” looks to be the title track of Wood’s forthcoming, debut record on Closed Sessions. Can’t wait to hear more of this. You can do the following thing on fbook, her site, and SoundCloud.
Swami John Reis and Metz, “Caught Up”/“Let It Rust” 7” (Swami Records, 4/16/16)
Red beans and rice, corned beef and cabbage, guacamole and, well, pretty much everything – some things just go well together. Consider, then, a musical smoothie featuring John Reis (a/k/a, “Speedo”, a/k/a “Swami”) and Toronto’s Metz, who got together on Reis’ home turf of San Diego to lay down tracks for what would become a 2-song 7”.
“Caught Up” is one of those songs, and represents a perfect blend of unhinged garage rock/post-hardcore of Reis and the heavier, detuned punk/Nirvana influence of Metz. The warp speed Johnny Cash “train” beat prevalent on Reis projects like Hot Snakes (see, particularly, Audit In Progress), pulsed with Metz’s heavy riffage and Cobain yelps. Throw in a little surfy wang bar action and you got yourself some boss tuneage. Bon appétit.
The Swami/Metz collaborative 7” was released for Record Store Day on Reis’ Swami Records label. Physical copies (as well as mp3 downloads) appear to still be available, via Midheaven. Do it to it.
New from great Memphis band, Nots. Burbling forth with whorls of scrappy, wah-wah guitar noodling, a propulsive drum beat kicks in from under a blanket of fuzz. By equal measures the snotty new wave punk of the their excellent debut album (which we reviewed here) and the more psych-freeekout, experimental, even funky feel of last year’s “Virgin Mary”, the band continue to forge a unique amalgam of their influences. Singer/guitaritst Nathalie Hoffman shouts “entertain me/tell me what to see/…tell me who to be” as a kind of dismissive mantra for the vapid, selife-sticked, kardasherized zombie hordes, as the track dissolves into a free-form, no wave jam around the 4:30 mark. Put down your phones and listen up.
Per the good folks over at Stereogum (whose article contains Hoffman’s explanation of the track), “Entertain Me” will feature on Nots’ second album, “Cosmetic”, due September 9 on Goner (US) and Heavenly (UK). It’s available to pre-order now, here, and you can keep up with the band’s other activities, here.
Vanishing Twin, “The Conservation of Energy” (Soundway Records)
“The Conservation of Energy” is a slice of breezy, psych-flecked sophisti-pop (so many hyphens!) courtesy of London’s Vanishing Twin (formerly known as Orlando, also the name of the band’s lead singer). There’s a strong whiff of gauloises, drawing in the flavors of bands like St. Etienne, Stereolab, Broadcast, and The Style Council. Featuring a gentle breeze of a drum beat, organ, flute, and Orlando’s shimmery vocals, the track weaves a continental drift through a sun-dappled, pastoral jazz-folk vibe, with the lyrics’ natural imagery – matter, flowing seas – adding to the languid feel. The song streches its legs into an absolutely blissful, wordless middle third at around the 2:30 mark, before returning to the main melody. While a rather abrupt fade out breaks the spell.
“The Conservation of Energy” is taken from Vanishing Twin’s to be released debut album, due on Soundway Records in September according to their PR group. You can find the band on fbook and also on Soundcloud, with Orlando’s earlier releases available on this Bandcamp page.
We were first introduced to São Paolo’s Rakta via their excellent self-titled album from 2013, and we’ve been following them ever since. “Intenção” is the a-side of their latest 7” single, and carries on where they left off with 2014’s “Tudo que é sólido” 7” and their 2015 Rakta em Transe project with fellow Brazilians Cadaver em Transe.
Where earlier cuts layered garage and psych elements over a punk bedrock, “Intenção” continues to push the psych and the goth to the fore, even adding touches of early industrial – you get a sense of the Banshees in their trippier days (think Join Hands or Juju), the “in your faceness” of bands like Birthday Party and Crass, as well as moody psych rock bands like 13th Floor Elevators. The track opens with a heavy, foreboding bass line and chaotic peals of guitar over a steady, tribal beat. The feeling is primal, the song lurching forward like some sort of colossus. A war dance around the firelight, or in the cellar beneath a single, bare bulb. Not meaning to give short shrift, b-side “A Busco do Circulo” sounds like Roky Erickson jamming with Lords of the New Church – so, also great.
Scary? Exhilarating? Why not both? “Intenção” is out now on Dama da Noite Discos/Nada Nada Discos (BR) and Dê o Fora (ESP), and is also available for download through Rakta’s Bandcamp page.
You can also check the band on fbook where, amongst other exciting discoveries, comes news of a forthcoming LP on Iron Lung (US), Dama da Noite Discos/Nada Nada Discos (BR) and Dê o Fora (ESP). As if that weren’t enough, there’s also tour dates in North America and Japan to look forward to this summer!