From rural Sweden to the urban bustle of Manchester and New York, this week’s roundup is a fairly eclectic affair, in terms of both the music and its origin. There’s the obligatory Swede, but musically it’s not what you’d expect, and of course there’s plenty of synthpop to help you dance the Sunday blues away. On with the show!
Synth veteran Brian Hazard has been producing quality synthpop and electronica for two decades now, and he shows no sign of slowing down. In Motion is yet another winner under his Color Theory banner, light and airy synths are complimented by an evocative, upbeat piano line and softly insistent vocals. He describes the track as “An accidentally cute theme to an 80s adventure movie that never was.” And you know, if this is anything to go by it would have been a great film! Hazard has a Patreon which he uses to support his musical endeavours so if you’ve like what you’ve heard, be sure to check it out. You can click here find out more about how to stream and download the track.
Ladan by Sweden’s Oestergaards is as far from the previous track as you could possibly get! Dark, dense and almost tribal; the song feels like it is channelling something primal and oppressive from within Oestergaards’ psyche – or maybe unleashing our own inner shadows. The changes in tone and rhythm seem almost minimal like a storm cloud on the horizon, seemingly unchanging until you pay attention to the intricate and constantly evolving and shifting layers, then the track overpowers you with its own unexplained emotions. Ladan is from the recently released Rötterna album which you can check out on Bandcamp.
From light to dark and back to light again, we stay in Sweden with Azure Blue’s My Final Candle. Released on the wonderful Hybris label, the song features special guests Paola, Peter Morén (Peter, Bjorn & John) and César Vidal (Caesars Palace) and is a powerful and plaintive indie-synth anthem. Managing that typically Nordic skill of being uplifting and downbeat simultaneously, the track is powered along by an old school synthetic drumbeat that gives it a solid and pounding rhythm. The light synths and vulnerable sounding vocals bring humanity to that icy electronic base, as the lyrics express heartful emotions in a beautifully simple fashion.
Is gothic trip hop a thing? If not, then Londoner (but now resident in Fance) Blakk Pearl has invented it on Prayers. Its musical foundation is in vintage trip hop staples such as that pounding reggae-infused bassline and filmic sheen, but they are tempered by a classically inspired string section and lead lines that give the song real emotional heft and maturity. And that’s before we mention the vocals – at times soulful and passionate, at other times edgy and icy, they express so much emotion – like a divine confection of Sade and Björk. Beautiful and detached like a courtesan of old, Prayers will touch you soul, but you will only get a merest glimpse of what lies behind its exquisite shell.
Prague based Ambedo is a singer-songwriter and producer who describes his sound as a combination of indie, rnb, chill wave and lo-fi. On Keep It Together those influences gel with sublime and seamless sophistication, as the light and androgynous vocals guide the listener through an arrangement that feels like it was cut from the sheerest silk. With a glossy exterior hiding the strength and craftmanship that lies underneath, Keep It Together is deep and addictive in its understated luxuriousness.
Nashville based 7Chariot (aka Claire Wilkinson) is one of the latest signings to London’s 0E0E (think about it!) label and on the evidence of Danger In Me they’ve made a very astute decision. It’s pop with a twist, the warm and upbeat ambiance of the arrangement is given a kick to leftfield by the quirky brass refrain, that trumpet (sorry) the subtle changes in the lyrical content. Reflective yet open to the outside, Danger In Me is a touching piece of personal electropop.
Brooklyn duo Lanksi use similar musical influences to Color Theory on their release The Sand The Sea The Sky The Night The Day but the track sounds very different. There’s the references to 80s synthpop and plaintive male vocals, but there’s shades of early post-punk and indie also in the synth arrangement. A whispered snare drum gives the track a subtle air in the its quieter moments as rolling percussion underpins the more upbeat sections, all reinforcing the emotional message behind the lyrics. The bassline is seductive in its uptempo roundedness whilst the aforementioned vocals top everything off to create a emotive but uplifting atmosphere.
Next up is another New York City based duo – Glassio with new single Back For More. The American duo make reference to the classic Scandipop sound but infuse it with more mainstream EDM and downtempo vibes, resulting in a wonderful symbiosis of reflective lyrics and club-inspired beats. There’s echoes of MGMT in the mix, but the vocal harmonies lend the track an emotive air rather than the latter’s tendency to use the vocals as a means to escape reality. Lyrically grounded in the now with a deceptively calm aura of emotional searching makes you soul want to sing and maybe shed a tear or two.
Orderly’s Awful is anything but that, but it is a very strange musical beast. Electronic to its core, it still somehow invites comparisons with indie acts like Blur or Pulp. That’s probably more down to the eccentric Englishness that pervades the song’s DNA, but also the way it just seems to unfold in an offbeat way, tricking the listener into expecting a classic pop track, yet doing so in a singular manner. It provides a multitude of hooks and witty lyrics but also an endearingly off kilter overall sound that is still accessible. The Mancunian producer and musician cites The Knife and Purity Ring as musical reference points; and as disparate as those two bands are musically you can hear delicate echoes of both in Awful.
Last up this week is the eccentric but endearing Pip the Pansy. Formally known as Wrenn, she’s served up a shiny slice of ‘Wall of Sound’ inspired electronica in Overboard. Describing her music as ‘Rainbow Pop’, it’s bright, brash and fresh, coming across like a joyful collision of 60s pop, 80s New Wave and modern, infectious B52s meets Grimes-like rhythms and arrangement. Overboard is a real jewel, glittering and hard like the finest diamond. The track features on here Royal Blue Daydream album which you can stream on Spotify and other digital outlets.
Thanks for reading this and for checking out the music, without your support it would not be the same for us or the artists. Until next week then!