This week’s Roundup is heavy on American electropop, but with that catchall description there’s still a lot of variety to be found. One thing that does unite the ten featured tracks is that they all offer a very personal take on popular sounds and musical styles, whilst avoiding the perils of restricting themselves to the influence of one genre. Enjoy.
First up is John Glenn Kunkel who is a regular visitor to Electronic North with his The New Division project. After hearing the first few seconds of Jealous it’s obvious why he’s being featured again. With smooth vocals that drip emotion with every word he sings, an understated but effective chorus and heartfelt lyrics, this song is a real tearjerker. The arrangement seems to take inspiration from old school FM rock sounds and indie anthems but then applies an electronic filter resulting in a track that feels oddly comforting even though it conveys some complex and contradictory feelings. Jealous will feature on the upcoming Fader EP which is due on May 11th.
Sometimes a song comes along that really surprises you, and for me Tel Aviv by April Towers (aka Nottingham duo Charles Burley and Alexander Noble) is one of those songs. There’s hints of post-punk and darkwave bubbling in the mix, but instead of being a morbid affair, instead it offers the listener a distinctive take and a more joyful sound. A large part of that is down to the lyrics which reflective on the occasional deliriousness of love and a fresh and cheeky vocal delivery. If you like Empathy Test and De/Vision, this is sure to hit the musical spot for you. The track is taken from their upcoming debut album Certified Freaky, which is due out Spring 2018, but you still have time to pledge for the release!
I’m not sure the list of band members in lo-fi ROBOT boy is entirely legit – Twiki, V.I.N.cent and B.O.B for starters – but there’s no denying new piece Steel Machine Man is the real deal. Elements of synthwave and outrun coalesce around a melody that wouldn’t be amiss on some prog rock sonic adventure in space, but all set to an addictive Italo beat. Human interlocutor for the band Paul Fitzzaland says the track was created with vintage synthesizers, hardware sequencers, and recorded ‘live to tape’ with only minimal post production and editing. Quirky and catchy with an air of eccentricity and mystery, Steel Machine Man shouldn’t really work, but it does and with considerable flair.
Hailing from Athens Georgia, Dega don’t bear any musical comparison to their forbears from that city such as REM, Of Montreal or The B-52s. What they do possess is that similar innate differentness that those bands are well known for. On Ocean Love it’s all about the way they put the basic building blocks of a song together to make something that manages to accessible but catchy, yet still have that sense of otherness and not quite fitting in with the norm that made those bands so popular and influential. The vocals and lyrics make you feel like you are listening to Stevie Nicks singing to ABBA standards, reinforcing that feeling that the song is something very much out of the ordinary. The track is out now via Atlanta’s Lemonade Records.
Dean Canty and Adam Sullivan featured on the blog back in November with their track Irreparable and they’re back again with a new song titled Inhale. It’s another electro corker from the duo, but this time with a different guest vocalist in the form of London singer-songwriter Lula. The vocals mesh as if one, wrapping around each other with ease as the arrangement takes a Scandinavian detour from New Arcade’s usual 80s drenched synthpop sound. The storytelling lyrics draw the listener in at first but it is the vocals and upbeat feel of Inhale that hook you, then reel you in willingly to its sophisticated style. The song is taken from the duo’s upcoming EP Nothing Is Lost, which will be available April 27th2018.
Hydrah is a Los Angeles based electronic music composer, vocalist, classically trained cellist and pianist. What those influences and experiences get you is a song like Fire. It channels the best of early Eurotrance – all pulsating bassline and moody electronica – but it underpins it with a soulful and euphoric vocal performance that sends shivers down your spine. Intense and overpowering due to its raw passion and pristine production, Fire has all the hallmarks of a classic house track. You can stream the song and more of Hydrah’s back catalogue over on Spotify. Oh, and that rumbling sensation you can pick up on the track? It’s an underwater earthquake recorded in the Pacific Ocean by the Colorado based Whale Acoustics crew. Random, but it works!
Based in San Francisco, SUMif (Steph Wells) is another regular visitor to these pages with her sublime electro-infused, fun-filled pop. On Say it feels like she has tweaked her sound a little bit, but to great effect. There’s some downtempo stylings woven in to the track’s arrangement, but also you can get hints of early Madonna and Cyndi Lauper here too. Not the bangers, but the more reflective and personal numbers that let their natural talent shine though. Talent is something Wells has in abundance and you can hear it in every second of Say. Be sure you check out her excellent previous releases such as Love Shop and I.D.W. on her official Spotify account.
Is it OK to call a song pretty? Because it’s the best way I can think of to describe Promises – the debut single from Nashville-based MØNTY. Soaring vocals belt out empowering lyrics in a feel-good manner, the arrangement is awash with hooks and the chorus is a proper earworm. It’s hard to believe that this is their first release such is the assured and confident feeling that flows through the track from start to finish. Pop music but with an edgy twist, this could be the start of good things for MØNTY.
Cherophobiac is the alternative-electronic music project of New York-based musician Alexandra Sullivan. She has self-released her debut Surgery this week and Leukemia is the opening track. There’s a very unsettling tone to the arrangement at times, as if you’re listening to a Dutch street organ from another reality. It’s got the catchy melody and engaging rhythm but also the feeling that the real song is just out of your hearing range, and that you’re only getting part of the message. The lyrics function in a similar way, leaving you unsure what understanding you’re meant to take from the song. Instilling doubt in the senses is an unusual feat for a track, but Leukemia did so and I quite like it for that. You can find out more about the album on the official Cherophobiac website.
Last up this weekend is German musician N Kramer (musician and producer Niklas Kramer) with Endless, a track from his latest EP by the same name. It’s a gentle lo-fi number very different from his work as Still Parade, being shorn of his angelic vocals but imbued instead with a lighter and more melodic musical palate. More pastels than bright colours, it still has a shimmering warm charm within its slowly changing rhythms and subtle loops. The track and EP are out now via download and cassette on Bandcamp; it’s also streaming on Spotify.
That’s it for this week, hope you found something new and interesting explore within our picks this time round, and be sure to give them some media love. Until next weekend then!