People can be dismissive of popular music at times, especially when it views itself as art, or people critique it as art. For me, it’s a creative process and that qualifies it to be regarded as an art form in common with painting, opera or sculpture. One of the best examples of pop as art (or pop as scam depending on your view of them) is the body of work produced by the KLF/JAMS/JAMMS – from the lowbrow but catchy Doctorin’ the Tardis to the provocative book that followed the track. The group mix high art with low farce on occasions, and though they will possibly never make music again, they’re back to a degree and that makes me happy. And on to the music!
Stonerpop are an electronic/synthpop duo from Louisiana. Comprising of Jimmie Maneuva, from Shreveport and Maudie Michelle, from Idaho – a couple whose music encompasses influences as diverse as School of Seven Bells and Poliça to make their own warm and individual sound. Game Over (I Remember) sees Maudie Michelle provide thought-provoking lyrics with her calming voice layered over the part-ambient, part-electro synth melodies and haunting backing vocals of Maneuva. You can check out more of the band’s music over at Spotify.
Seavera are another duo, this time one based in Melbourne in Australia. City is a track that takes a pinch of inspiration from the downtempo sound, but the instrumentation and arrangement in combination with Tori Zietsch’s powerfully intense vocals and emotionally honest lyrics engender an odd sense of euphoric sadness in the track. That makes sense when Zeitch speaks about the song. “I remember being made to feel as if I was just an object committed to a function versus an equal human being worthy of connection.” Explains Tori, “It’s an incredibly debilitating thing to feel objectified during sex. The sad reality is that when it happened, I began to realise that the event was just one fragment in a string of experiences I’d had just like this.”
From Heights is a soft, gently simmering slice of synthpop and sees the return of London-born Norwegian artist Strangelove, who has released the track on the Oslo-based label, Luft Recordings. The single – the follow-up to his debut EP – sees him venture into more pop-based terrain on a musical level, but the track has at its heart a feeling of sitting outside the mainstream and lyrically bringing a level of introspective, refreshing honesty to the table. Upbeat but offbeat is a great way to sum up From Heights.
Hopping across the border to Sweden we have The Land Below and his new track Made For You, which has been released via Hybris Records. The track features on Lindestad’s And You Will Be Fine album and sees ghostly electro and balearic backdrops entwining with ethereal vocals, creating a sound that just wraps its arms about you and holds you tight. Made for You is subtly emotional electro at its finest.
Centvries have followed up their debut Aphrodite EP with the stunning track Tension. It’s a brooding stormer of a track, taking elements of early house and techno, all overlaid with the most chilled of arpeggios and a unique musical philosophy inspired by ancient Graeco-Roman symbolism. The track is out now via Beans & Bacon and there’s some quality club remixes of the track out there as well.
A really creative artist can turn a track from idea to reality almost overnight and that’s what Elohim has done with her track Eclipse, which was inspired by the recent solar eclipse in the US. Hot on the heels of her Sleepy Eyes collaboration with Whethan, Eclipse fuses an upbeat sound with bittersweet lyrics – something that is becoming her winning signature style. Elohim is touring North America soon, you can find out more details about that and her music on her website.
Swedish duo Superwalkers enlisted the considerable vocal talents of Dominique on the track Three Times A Lover – a smooth pop-soul number with a hint of 80’s funk in there for good measure. A mix of alternating male falsetto hooks, mesmerising female vocals and soulful harmonies gives the track a real sheen of sophistication. It’s also a technique that really brings out the lyrical theme of the song, which the band say is about seeing a difficult situation from two perspectives.
Rising LA producer Jynjo is back with a new single How do you Like it featuring the vocals of dreamy songstress Spritely. Thematically, Jynjo’s releases envelop a sense of youth and fantasy whilst Spritely brings a hypnotizing vocal to this track, with a style that puts me in mind of Amy Lee of Evanescence. Indeed, the song has an almost rock feel to in mood and tone, despite it’s obvious base in a synth/electro sound.
Temptress have followed up previous singles Lies and Guilty Pleasure with another prime piece of electro-infused R&B in the tune What I Want. With hints of the 80s sprinkled throughout the hook filled song, What I Want still keeps the duo’s vocals the deserved centre of attention. When websites as cool as Nylon and Popjustice tip a band, you know something good is going on!
Last up this week is Gravitationellt kluster, the first single from Små Vågor’s third album Små Vågor 3. On the face of it the track could loosely be labelled downtempo, but repeated listens see Henrik von Euler bring out layers of folk, krautrock and synthwave while creating a rhythmic, hypnotic effect that works its way in to your psyche. It feels like the soundtrack to an as yet unreleased Scandinavian film noir. Små Vågor 3 is out on September 22nd via Flora & Fauna.
Hope you enjoyed that ten of the best, another bunch of gigs and more lies ahead next weekend so we’ll be back slight later that normal with the next roundup!