As the weekly roundup progresses through the year, it becomes easier to spot where the musical hotspots are in various countries. Brooklyn seems a centre of activity, also Toronto, London, Barcelona, Copenhagen and Tel Aviv to name a few more. One thing they all have in common is that they are all welcoming places, and if you are going to make music or art that is outside the mainstream, then they already have a culture and support network that enables artistic expression. Here’s what they’ve been bringing to our attention this week.
Kicking things off with Winchester; they describe themselves as a ‘cinematic indie pop/rock’ band and it’s an accurate description if Last Day of the Year is anything to go by. There’s a real expansive quality to the song, an anthemic nature to it that puts me in mind of other Toronto bands Austra and The Birthday Massacre. Yep, Last Day of the Year really is that good and I can’t wait to hear more from them.
Swedish-American duo Djustin also echo Austra in their sound, but on Dancing they take it in a much more alt-dance direction. Featuring the emotive vocals of Rose Suau, the track gallops along with an uptempo mix of chilled Scandinavian synth leads and a very American pop sensibility. It has the feel of Madonna at her electro disco prime and is sure to make your feet move to the beat.
Crying for You by Kabiria is a wonderfully shameless pop number, romping through the charts and gleefully pillaging inspiration from sources as diverse as Phil Spector and St Etienne. The band proudly admit the 60’s girl group influence but keep it current by adding some hip hop stylings in to the mix to create a track that manages to be retro and fresh at the same time.
A melodic Swedish influence pops up in the next track Laid To Waste by San Jua. It has a lovely dreampop feel to it but filtered through some very atmospheric and evocative electronica. The vocals and gently chiming guitars give the whole thing a relaxed and seductive feel, giving the track real emotional warmth.
On Fill Your Heads With Static, Scottish band L-space do a great line in a guitar and synth-driven electro-pop. It’s very much on the indie end of that scale, putting me in mind of Scottish compatriots Mogwai and Arab Strap, or maybe Moby ambiently rocking out. The band says the song is about a cyborg girl visiting a small Scottish town to start a revolution. I like the sound of that!
Billie Dot covers similar territory to the previous tracks, with hints of indie and electronica framed with a 60’s style drum pattern creating an upbeat sound. It has a real reflective feel to it lyrically, but whilst about a sad event (triggered by the loss of a loved one) it shines through with positivity. The song is a real foot tapper!
With You Can Touch Me, Teenage Love give a spiky three minute lesson in dating Danish men. Over an infectious and bouncy electro beat, the female duo (one based in Brookyln, the other in Copenhagen) create a positive and fun-filled anthem about women taking control.
Australian producer CAPTURE has collaborated with singer Lover on No More. It is a really moody price, with trip hop influences on show but with a feel that reminds me more of dark electro. It certainly has an emotional heft to it and really draws you in to its world and reveals more with each listen.
Oh Canada! Not Toronto this time but Montreal’s Young Galaxy and their track Stay For Real which is simply beautiful and awesome. Over a haunting slice of mid tempo electronica the band creates an anthem of positivity about celebrating ourselves and our differences in these dark times. Putting their art into action, Young Galaxy are donating all net proceeds from the sale of the song to assist organisations defending the rights of the marginalized; PIVOT (Canada), ACLU (USA), and W.A.V.E (EU).
All of which brings us back to Brooklyn and Wake by Chrome Sparks. The follow-up to All or Nothing it’s a perfect distillation of left field electronica, nodding its head to the early days of techno and creating a vibe similar to tracks like Testone by Sweet Exorcist. The track is totally fresh and totally current and totally wonderful.
Hope you enjoyed listening to this selection and we’ll be back again next week with another ten of the best.