Moon Panda, “Gun”; “On the Attack” (self-released)
Moon Panda is a quartet based in London and Brighton, UK. Led by vocalist/bassist Maddy Myers and guitarist Gustav Moltke (George Godwin and Alfie Webber round out the set), the band features members from the US, Denmark and the UK. They’ve self-released a trio of singles over the past year plus, including the two latest – “Gun” and “On the Attack”.
The group describe themselves as making ‘dreamy space pop for dreamy space people”, and you can’t accuse them of false advertising. The gauzy feel of “Gun” pushes the band towards a sound reminiscent of trip hop bands like Morcheeba or Zero 7, as well as Parachute-era Coldplay. Myers’ fragile, whispery vocals complement the mood, a pleasingly dark undertone provided by lyrical musings on the non-greeting card aspects of love (‘even the sweetest thoughts/get twisted’). The slightly more in focus “On the Attack” comes off a bit like a velvet-gloved PJ Harvey, a psych nibble on quietly lush chords invoking Bête Noire-era Bryan Ferry.
Both tracks illustrate Moon Panda’s aptitude for building engrossing tunes on serpentine grooves and echo-laden melodies. The band’s website mentions that these tracks, together with others, will be released as the Pastel Pools EP later in 2019. Looking forward to it.
Winter, “Wherever You Are” (self-released 8/18/16)
LA’s Winter is a musical project of vocalist/guitarist Samira Winter, with recording and live work from David Yorr, Garren Orr and Matt Hogan. “Wherever You Are” is a new release from the band – with it, they’ve crafted a woozy, sinuous track fit snugly at the intersection of psych- and dream pop.
Opening with a kaleidoscopic, Vangelis-like keyboard intro, “Wherever” features Winter’s feather light, whispered vocals amid arpeggioed, thrumming guitar lines and layered effects, all building towards an absolute skyscraper of a chorus. Musical sign posts abound, from ones you might expect (Pale Saints, Cocteau Twins (the phaser/delay effect at the 3:45 is particularly Guthrie-esque), MBV, the airier edge of trip hop), to some you might not (there’s hints of the more wide open, arena ready psych of Spiritualized, as well as a something that reminded me of “Us and Them” by Pink Floyd).
The notes on the group’s Bandcamp page indicate the song was initially recorded in the singer’s bedroom. This makes sense, as there’s a feeling here akin to staring out of the window into the night sky, searching for answers or a new way. Goodnight, (dark side of the) moon.
“Wherever You Are” is available to download (for $1!) via Bandcamp. From some of the posts on Winter’s fbook page (you can also check them on the twitt), it would appear the band is at work on a new full length. Here’s hoping.
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).