Tag Archives: pop

Fa la la list!

We’re back with another list, featuring songs that have our tinnitus-riddled ears ringing like so many silver bells. Have a listen, won’t you?

Makthaverskan Announce Return with III, Share Lead Single “In My Dreams”

“In My Dreams” cover art.

Makthaverskan haven’t released any new material since 2015’s “Witness” 7”, but that all changes now.  The group has shared a new track, “In My Dreams”, and announced that a new album – the numerically appropriate, III – will be released in October.

“Dreams” finds the group continuing to mine the kind of swirling, cathartic melodies found on their previous work, but with a fuller sound.  Reverbed guitar jangle, an increasingly active bassline and propulsive drumming engulf and elevate vocalist Maja Milner‘s plaintive upper register, now rounded out with more lower tones and a wordless purr at the 2:27 mark recalling Siouxsie. Headphones revel tubular synth notes, which add to the overall depth.  The track positively shimmers, and we can’t wait for the album.

According to the band’s fbook page, III was recorded at Svenska Graommofonsutdion with the help of Hans Olsson-Brookes, and is due October 20, courtesy of Swedish label Luxury Records and US-based Run for Cover Records.

Revel in the Indie Pop Bliss of “Dream About You”, the New Single from London’s The Fireworks

The Fireworks, “Dream About You” (Shelflife/Opposite Number)

London-based trio The Fireworks recently shared a new 7”, “Dream About You”, the first to feature the vocal stylings of new member Beth Arzy (formerly of Trembling Blue Stars and Aberdeen, amongst others).

The single’s three tracks breeze by in a bit more than 8 minutes but, like real pyrotechnics, need but a moment to make a lasting impression.  Close your eyes and you can still hear the brilliant bass countermelody underpinning the title track’s delirious jangle; feel the drum wallop in the candy-colored psycho closer (see what we did there?), “We’ve Been Wasting Time”.  For my money, middle child “Better Without You Now” is the gem, a droll kiss-off backlit by a shimmering, Murmur-era guitar hook.  Fans of JAMC, early REM, Kinks, Shop Assistants, C86, Manhattan Love Suicides and/or well-constructed melodies, look no further.

The “Dream of You” 7” is available now courtesy of two fantastic labels – namely, Opposite Number (in the UK/EU) and Shelflife (everywhere else). Surveil The Fireworks on fbook the twitt and their site, and peruse their back catalogue on bandcamp.  While you’re at it, have a look at the video for “Dream About You”, which premiered over at The Big Takeover.

Frank Moka Shares a Hook with a Message on “Nation Time”

Frank Moka, “Nation Time” (self-released)

Frank Moka is a Dallas-based percussionist who, as a member of The Funky Knuckles, has played with artists like Erykah Badu and Stanley Clarke.  His new track, “Nation Time”, is a tight blending of hook with message; groove with theory.  Starting off like the feel good hit of the summer, its glistening, sunny piano chords and straight, snappy rhythm making you wish you had that cabriolet, the lyrics kick in and demand your attention – “now you got your shit together/what are you gonna do?” the opening question/salvo.  While the song continues to feel airy and light, weighty topics abound:  race, (comm)unity, police brutality, misogyny – the message is woven, and it’s impossible to ignore the pattern.  With a title that seems to reference Amiri Baraka and/or Joe McPhee (I don’t know if it is intentional), this should maybe not be surprising.

On his SoundCloud page, Moka describes the song as “a Hip Hop/Pop track with a very powerful message”, and he is being understated.  Along with other new artists like Jamila Woods, Frank Moka shows that songs with undeniable hooks need not also be vapid.  Points can be made while the groove moves you – open the windows, drop the top, and spread the word.  In addition to SoundCloud, you can follow Frank Moka on fbook and the twitt.  Here’s hoping for more from him soon.

“Fast Silver” and “I’m Still Believing” – Two New, Early Christmas Presents from TOY

TOY, “Fast Silver”; “I’m Still Believing” (Heavenly)

Not one, but two, new tracks from the brilliant TOY released in the past few weeks – Christmas comes early!  “Fast Slilver” (released last month) and “I’m Still Believing” (released this week) will each feature on the band’s forthcoming long-player, Clear Shot, with “Believing” serving as the first official single.

TOY established themselves at the forefront of a group of bands fusing psych and shoegaze with their self-titled debut and 2013’s Join the Dots, creating alarmingly beautiful songs bathed in layers of reverb and propelled by a crisp rhythmic churn.  These new tracks suggest a bit of a blue-pencil job by the band on this sound – it’s cleaner; less pedal-driven.  Each feature brisk, sharp stabs of wistful, sonically vivid psych-pop, reminiscent of bands like Soft Boys, The Dream Syndicate, Split Enz and The Chills.  Both also even summon some 70s drivetime AM radio, with sweet three part harmonies and strummy guitar work (“Fast Silver”’s outro solo is Ventura highway worthy).  Singer Tom Dougall (brother of thegrindinghalt resident muse, Rose Elinor Dougall) channels Robyn Hitchcock, singing of feeling “unreal” and “perfectly out of time”.

Clear Shot is due October 28, via Heavenly.  On this evidence, it should be very good, indeed.  Check out TOY on fbook, the twitt, and their website.  The band also have some tour dates coming up in the UK and Europe – you can find those here.

Review: Juniore, Marabout

Juniore, “Marabout” ep (Le Phonographe)

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.

Review: Domenique Dumont, Comme Ça

Domenique Dumont, Comme Ça (Antinote, 6/22/2015)

Long ago, there existed a world in which people shared “mix tapes” (look it up on the interwebs, children).  A collection of songs, some grouped by a theme, some not.  Many would trade these tapes – demos, random mixes, live bootlegs – as a way to both discover and pass on new sounds to others.  The production was often somewhat murky – what’s euphemistically called “lo-fi” in current parlance – but there were gems to be mined if one took the time to listen.

Comme Ça, from Domenique Dumont, has the feel of something buried deep on one of these tapes – maybe towards the end of the first side, or the middle of the second, probably uncredited on the cover – that bears repeated rewinding and listening.  Furthering this sense, the artist appears a bit of a mystery even to Antinote, the Paris-based label that released these six tracks (though this could certainly be part of the plan), who admit they “don’t know much” about the artist.  The sole ‘tweet’ says merely “hi”; the soundcloud page provides little in the way of background, though seems to indicate Latvian origins by reference to a “Riga-Paris express” .  It’s fun to have something with a little intrigue, n’est pas?

Whatever the case, the songs themselves are fantastic; wistful, precocious, charming bedroom pop.  Spun-sugar light, yet containing so many parts that it begs repeated listens to extract the nectar.

Afro-caribbean influences take center stage, employed in ways similar to everyone from Serge Gainsbourg in his work with Sly and Robbie, on to Damon Albarn both with Blur, Gorillaz, & etc.:  the cuíca drum sound in “La Basse et Les Shakers”, the calliope dub rock of “La Bataille de Neige”, the samba rhythm of the title track.  Often, these rhythmic impulses are aligned with a nod and wink to 60s lounge vibe, particularly on the title track and dream lounge cut “Le Chateau Corail”, which carries a Dmitri from Paris vibe.  Adding to this cheekiness, many of the beats and synthesized sounds appear to be played on a Casio keyboard from the 80s.

Comme Ça is available for download from the Antinote Bancamp page.

Woman?  Man?  One of each?  Yeti?  Decide for yourself by checking Soundcloud and Twitter; or, visit the “official story” (tinfoil hat not included) on the Antinote website or Facebook page.

Highlights:  “Comme Ça”, “L’Esprit de L’Escalier”, “Le Chateau Corail”.

New Track: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Multi-Love

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, “Multi-Love” (Jagjaguwar)

While I’ve not always saluted the flag raised over modern purveyors of ‘70s AM mellow gold-inspired psychedelic pop, Portland, Oregon’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra has always felt a bit different.  The band’s music sounds both 8-track and FLAC; a mixing of ‘70s, white guy R&B/“easy” psych-pop with more modern beats and structures.

“Multi-Love” is a good example. A call and response between the two eras – Supertramp-style organ and groovy sitar cut short by breakbeat rhythms.  The cool, dispassionate robots of rhythm harshing your yellow-tinted memories of the polyester itch and chafe of a hot, wet American summer.  The production has the band (and, in particular, vocalist Ruban Nielson) less covered in dandelion fluff than on past recordings, Nielson’s keening falsetto slinking over lines like “she doesn’t want to be your man or woman/she wants to be your love” – ‘60s free love, ‘70s key parties, ‘80s androgyny or modern, online virtual physicality?  Why choose?

Taken from new album, Multi-Love, released May 26 on Jagjaguwar.  The band is also going on tour, starting in May – check out dates on their site or Facebook page.

New Music: Rose Dougall, Take Yourself With You

Rose Dougall “Take Yourself With You”

Been I while since I’d heard anything from/by Rose Dougall (aka Rose Elinor Dougall), former Pipette and renderer of many lovely solo tracks – including personal favorites “Another Version of Pop Song” from 2010, and “Start/Stop/Synchro” from 2009.

Now, here comes new single “Take Yourself With You”, posted today on her Facebook page via amazing online journal The Quietus, and the promise of a new full length in 2015.  “Take” is 4:00 and change of light as air, shimmeringly glorious sophistipop.  Think a more lush, less fey Prefab Sprout or early, pre-clubland Everything But the Girl.  Dougall’s voice, which has always had the ability to be light as meringue without being saccharine, is in full bloom.  A welcome return.

New Music: Jessie Ware, Share It All

Jessie Ware recently posted the track “Share It All” – the latest to be leaked in the run up to her soon to be released full length, “Tough Love” (I haven’t been able to figure out a US date for the album).  You can listen to the track above, and it’s also streaming on her Soundcloud page.

The song was co-written with Romy of The XX, and that band’s sonic fingerprints are felt throughout – Ware’s typically pristine vocals float amidst a languid atmosphere full of sonar synths and a thick bass drum.  As it unfurls, the song glides along on a snappy beat that wouldn’t have been out of place on an old SOS Band cut.  Ware puts her own stamp on the arrangement when she begins to riff on the initial, hypnotically repetitive melody.  

It’s an interesting contrast in attitude and style.  In the hands of The XX, the lines “could you share it all with me/and I’ll share it all with you/…if you want to” might have been delivered as a whispered plea to a would-be partner who’s busy talking to another on the other side of the room – the longed for reply never truly expected.  For Ware, the lines are sung “to”, rather than “at” someone, but in a hopeful, romantic way – there’s nothing brash here (think Sade, not Beyoncé).  A lovely little ballad.