There’s a heavy Californian flavour – or should that be flavor – to this week’s roundup. I guess with us missing the summer sun so much we decided to bring some West Coast warmth to us!
But first up this week is Australia’s Matilda Abraham with the rather wonderful Our Love Is Strong which features on her second EP Away. It’s not a secret that we have a weakness for Scandi-inspired sounds here at EN and this certainly fits the bill. Echoes of Susanne Sundfør reverberate softly in the background, as Abraham’s vocals channel a sense of Nordic melancholy distilled in sunnier climes, but with hints of a folkish charm reminiscent of the late Eva Cassidy. Nuances of trip-hop infuse the percussion, which, allied with an organic-sounding arrangement that is more hymnal than wistful, makes Our Love Is Strong a stirring and endearing love song.
Anglo-French electropop trio Tremors are a welcome returnee to the blog with another slice of superior synthpop in the guise of Dancing On Broken Glass. The guys have already established themselves a catchy and successful musical formula and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! There’s a strong melody, an anthemic take on synthpop with a cheeky nod to Eurobeat, hooks galore and most of all a real sense of fun. Tremors want to entertain you and that shines though in every second of the song.
Philadelphia-based duo Camp Candle described their sound as “swag-pop” and judging by Feelin A Way that’s quite a cool thing to be! Mark “Nu Ra” Cave and Briana “Hetepsa” Mills have created a sound that combines the confident swagger of 90’s RNB with the more ambient tones of downtempo and a sophisticated take on synthpop. It’s cool, smooth and catchy with its mellow but insistent rhythm and deliciously dreamy vocals.
San Francisco native Colin Magalong cites artists such as Daft Punk, Michael Jackson and Kid Cudi as influences and you can get a flavour of that on Blossom. 90’s inspired hooks and nu-disco grooves pervade the track, leading to a Francaphone disco-suffused affair. A real highlight of the song are the vocals, which bring to mind artists like Stevie Wonder and Jamiroquai such is their infectious take on an upbeat and soulful sound. Think of the immediacy of a Bieber banger and the class of a Timberlake funk workout, then you’d have an idea as to where Blossom sits in terms of music and pedigree.
Angry is the debut release from San Diego quartet Twin Ritual and this track also takes some old school influences, shakes them and turns them in to something new and improved. There’s a New Wave cockiness in the style of classic Blondie – largely down Laura Levenhagen’s vocals and a tight rhythm section; but there are parallels also with the upbeat and immediate pop of acts like MS MR and Haim. Most of all though, there’s a real sense of loving music that pervades the track, and the feeling of a band loving what they do. Balancing all that out there’s a palpable sense of anger too, as Levenhagen sings ‘The future is a tyrant leader, taking souls and leaving bodies, turning fear into a hobby’. Overall, it’s an impressive debut.
Brazil’s SEMPER VOLT know how play with genre boundaries on Alvorada. The track takes some of the standard sounds and tropes of commercial dance but twists them in something a bit darker and more leftfield. Techno and industrial rhythms combine with a Latin American sense of flair and sensuality, creating a track that is a times abstract, other times open but always easy to dance to. Think Boards of Canada hitting the beaches of Brazil and letting the sun and people drench their souls, then you’d probably get something that sounds like this.
On the evidence of Chains, Stella Smyth has a sophistication and maturity that belies her age. The 17-year-old producer, singer and songwriter has come up with an assured sound that throbs with passion and emotion, as the vocals ache with the sound of an experience surely beyond her years. The track broods and pulsates in turn as the synth-washed arrangement takes the lyrics and vocals to ever higher levels of angst and melodrama. Lana Del Rey probably wishes she’d been making music like that at that age!
Dev Saha takes on board elements of the classic Hollywood sound on The Archway. The strings wouldn’t be out of place in a 50’s weepie at times, lush and seductive before transforming into minimalist tones reminiscent of Philip Glass. The vocals take on an unsettling but entrancing and hypnotic air whilst the more traditional electronic aspects of the arrangement wax and wane to give the entire track a daydream effect. Countering that sense of chilled reverie are the facts that the refrain “Do you know who you are?” and track title are both references to the murder of John Lennon back in 1980.
Blog returnee Altvater is a producer whose music really does live up the experimental electronica label. Nocturne merges some very disparate musical styles, with a hazy sax linking all the various elements up with a beautiful noiresque melody. He describes it as ‘crazy blend of western and sci-fi’, which sums it up perfectly. It succeeds in painting such a vivid picture; like a soundtrack for a future world where cowboy stories and neon lights meet in urban nightscapes.
London-based electronic trio Concrete Disco also use some jazz tones and urban inflections on Thundering Typhoons but with very different results. It’s a frenetic but fun number, taking inspiration from the upbeat sounds of London, but infusing them with more psychedelic and at times dreampop influences. Thundering Typhoons feels like the perfect distillation what it’s like to like in a frantic and at times dangerous city.
That’s it for this week, as ever please check out more of the bands’ music and be sure to throw them some social media love.