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When it comes to electronic music, Bristol, UK has been the hotbed of a particular brand of bass music. And interestingly enough, electronic music artist and producer Julio Bashmore has managed to be an outsider to that established scene, as his first love has always been house music; in fact, he credits being on the periphery of Bristol’s electronic music scene as allowing to create his own take on house music, 

His latest single “Simple Love” featuring J’Danna reminds me quite a bit of Octo Octa’s impressive Between Two Selves in the sense that the song is comprised of layers of echoing synths, hot flashes of cymbals, precise drum programming and vocals that seem to burst forth from the icy depths. Pay attention to how the hook ties into the tight and propulsive groove Bashmore has created — it’s some of the slickest production work I’ve heard in some time. 

Originally from Izhesvk, Russia and currently based in St. Petersburg, the electronic music act, D-Pulse have developed a reputation internationally for a sound that’s both futuristic and yet a bit melancholic as they pair synthesizers, samplers and electronic production with live instrumentation. And as you’ll hear on “Astronomers,” the first single off their long-awaited full-length debut Consequenced, their sound bears a resemblance to the likes of Chateau Marmont and Kraftwerk — carefully composed compositions that possess a tension between tightly controlled minimalism and dense, slick production. And interestingly, the track has a tight motorik-inspired groove that propels the song forward. 

If you’ve followed this site over the years, you know that I had written  about and mentioned the Mexico City-based quartet The Oats, who I had met while at a Northside Festival Showcase on several occasions. Unfortunately, as the case is with countless other bands across the world, the band split up with each of the members going off in their own directions both creatively and personally — one guy went to graduate school, another focused on art and so on. But before the band broke up, they toured across Canada when one of their members, Armando, met a young woman by the name of Dawn, from Dundas, ON. The duo fell in love, and whenever Dawn would visit Mexico City, the duo would find themselves writing a new song. Eventually, the two got married and formed a band, which they call The Tallest Tree.

Whereas their first single “Boat” bore a resemblance to the The Pixies and The Vaselines —thanks to a grungy, garage rock vibe but with playful harmonies and melodies that gave the song a sweet, lovable air.  And their latest single “I’ll Be Your (For You)” is a jaunty, sweetly sung love song confessing one’s devotion to their lover. God, it’s so sweet that it you can’t be moved by it, you have a cold, cold heart. Also, who doesn’t enjoy kazoo, right? 

The video is extremely DIY as several segments of the video were shot in the couple’s bathroom and is spliced with daily footage of cars, people on bikes and commuters run backwards. 

The duo of She Keeps Bees, which is comprised of Jessica Larrabee and Andy LaPlant have an unusual relationship — the sort of relationship where they finish each other’s sentences creatively and personally. And in fact they began in a rather humble fashion: LaPlant using a borrowed drum kit with a garbage-picked floor tom and the then-recently located Larrabee directing the proceedings. And for a while, the duo specialized in a sparse and atmospheric sound that slowly expanded with the additional of bass and synths. 

Their forthcoming album, Eight Houses marks the first time that the band is working with an outside producer, Nicholas Vernhes, who has worked with the likes of Deerhunter, The War on Drugs, Dirty Projects and others. And it marks the first time that they’re collaborating with guest musicians, which include Sharon Van Etten and Adam Schatz. 

"Radiance" is the latest single from the album and it’s a dark, atmospheric track comprised of Larrabee’s sultry vocals, piano, synths and drums. But what makes the track compelling to me is the tension between the song’s sparseness and its instrumentation — at points it feels and sounds as though the song will float away into the ether. 

When most people think of Nashville, they immediately think of the city as the spiritual and physical home of country music but it’s also the home of a burgeoning and very vital soul and funk scene. The folks at G.E.D. Soul Records have been instrumental in changing how the country and the world think about the city — in other words, not as a city known for one particular genre but a major music city. 

The septet of the Coolin’ System formed back in 2008 over a mutual love and appreciation of forgotten funky, soulful jazz. In fact, the band’s name is inspired by the title of a Jack McDuff album, The Heatin’ System, which featured one of the first sons they learned for the project, a Pee Wee Ellis composition, “The Prophet.” 

Over the last few years, the Coolin’ System have opened for the renowned Dirty Dozen Brass Band and they have also been highlighted on BBC’s Craig Charles Funk And Soul Show and the House of Blues Radio Hour. Their sophomore effort Refrigerate After Opening is the third (of three) albums that were supported by a highly successful Kickstarter campaign.

"Jungle Juice" is the first single off the album and the composition reminds me a lot of Miles Davis’ "cool" period — in particular I think of Birth of the Cool, and my personal favorite, Kind of Blue. Although not overly funky, the composition manages to swing in a way that should be familiar if you know bop-era jazz. 

The group name comes from the title of a Jack McDuff album, “The Heatin’ System” featuring one of the first tunes they learned for the project, a Pee Wee Ellis tune called ‘The Prophet.’ It was their way to pay respect to one of the giants of the genre and gave listeners a clue as to what kind of music they were about to witness. Fast forward to 2012 and the group has staged sold-out shows, released their first 7” single “The Prophet” b/w “Dracula,” opened for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and performed at the Head Jamz Music Festival in Adams, TN. They have also been highlighted on BBC’s Craig Charles Funk And Soul Show and the House of Blues Radio Hour. Their self-titled debut on G.E.D. Soul Records released in March 2011 is now available all over the world. Their second 45 (Vinyl, that is..) “I Need Some Money” b/w “To Be Named Later” was released in Nov. 2011 and is available for a limited 

- A World Without

Bristol, UK-based producer and electronic music artist Matt Preston, writes, records, performs and produces under the moniker of Phaeleh. And as Phaeleh, Preston has developed a reputation for crafting a sound that has a modernist, icy sheen while being rather cinematic.  A great deal of his work sounds as though it could easily be part of the soundtrack of futuristic thriller with supernatural creatures — I can personally envision a movie that features an ancient and dying race of vampires fighting an equally ancient and dying race of werewolves or witches. 

"A World Without" the first single and EP title track of the forthcoming A World Without is perhaps Preston’s most ethereal-sounding release — while bearing an uncanny resemblance to the trip-hop of Massive Attack and to Portishead. As you’re listening to the song, you’ll notice a subtle yet palpable tension in the slow-burning track between the sinuous synths and precise drum programming — and it manages to evoke the same sort of anxiousness of the aforementioned great trip-hop acts. 

Dexy Valentine’s primary band, Magic Wands have received quite a bit of attention as their music has been licensed for use in commercials for Victoria’s SecretVogue’Fashion WeekGucciZaraT-MobileBeauty and the BeastThe Vampire Diaries and the Diablo Cody film The Power of Few. The band has also opened for the likes of The KillsThe HorrorsThe Jesus and Mary ChainThe Black KeysThe RaconteursThe BreedersThe Wombats — and they’ve played at the Glastonbury FestivalSXSW, and Lollapalooza

Currently, they’re finishing up their sophomore effort Stranded on Earth, the anticipated follow up to their critically acclaimed debut effort, Aloha Moon. But in the meantime Valentine’s side project Bonfire Beach has been getting attention — “Spit U Out,” the first single off Bonfire Beach’s forthcoming debut full-length is reportedly a much darker sound than Valentine’s primary band; in fact, based on the album’s first single, Bonfire Beach’s sound compares favorably to the likes of L7, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and others — in other words, it’s darkly psychedelic and subtly anxious. However, in Bonfire Beach’s case, their sound also manages to be seductive. 

Up-and-coming, Nottingham, UK-based singer/songwriter Liam Bailey has been compared to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Cody ChesnuTT, thanks in part to a expressive and soulful croon, backed by bluesy, power chord-based guitars.  His debut effort, Definitely Now was co-written and co-produced by Bailey and his friend Salaam Remi, the head of Flying Buddha Records (who signed Kendrick Lamar, French Montana, and Nelly Furtado) was released earlier this year — but Bailey made his Stateside debut on CBS This Morning last Saturday. 

His latest single (and video) ” On My Mind” is being featured as part of MTVu's The Freshman, where it’s in the running in a competition against several other videos for on air rotation. What I love about the song is that reminds me of a good shot of whiskey — it goes down smoothly until that fiery burst right at the end. But more important, it’s a deeply passionate and seductive love song. 

Leticia Rodriguez Garza is a renowned singer, bandleader, dancer and choreographer, best known as the producer, writer and director of the one-woman show Canciones For Generations. In order to develop the show, Garza spent two years interviewing various family members and in turn, she found herself rediscovering the music of her aunt, Eva Garza. 

Her latest EP, Saguita Al Bate includes three songs from her debut full-length album La Americana and a cover of a song made famous by her aunt, the EP title track “Saguita Al Bate.” 

The original version of the song was written and recorded in the 50s as a mambo but Rodriguez and her backing band play it as a slightly downtempo cumbia/salsa fusion starting off with percussion and warm blasts of horns and followed by Garza’s vocals. Interestingly Garza’s vocals are sensual yet wry, theatrical yet sincere 

Garza’s silky smooth, sensual vocals join in. Throughout the song, there’s a tight but very danceable groove — the sort of groove that you’d have to dance with that pretty young thing in the corner … 

 

 

Pedro Canale is an Argentine producer, who performs, records and writes under the moniker of Chancha Via Circuito. Amansara is his long-awaited third effort and it comes after a three year hiatus. 

Canale comes out of Buenos Aires’s famed electronic cumbia scene but after some time he wound up playing with genre boundaries as he began to incorporate some of elements of the music from all over that region of South America including Brazilian rhythms, Paraguayan harp, Andean mysticism, Argentinian folklore and futuristic dub step. 

And thanks to his uncompromising sensibility, Canale defies pigeonholing as he’s considered by some as an extremely niche cult artist as he’s been invited to play at Montreal, QC’s MUTEK Festival and the Roskilde and Vive Latino Festivals. At the same time, as Chancha Via Circuito, Canale’s music has found broader appeal outside of the avant-garde, thanks to his remix of José Larralde’s “Quimey Neuquén” which was featured in Breaking Bad's final season. 

"Coplita," is the first single (and video) from Amansara and it features the haunting vocals of Canale’s frequent collaborator, Miriam Garcia over pounding tribal percussion, brief blasts of flute and swirling electronics. The track manages to sound like it’s a slightly psychedelic tribal prayer to the gods. Although futuristic, it manages to sound absolutely organic and timeless. 

The animated official video manages to employ elements of tribal and psychedelic imagery which future accentuates those elements within the song. 

The Copenhagen, Denmark-based electro pop act Lust For Youth initially began as the solo project of Hannes Norvide. Norvide’s solo releases were described as “dark, cold atonal lonely, tormented” and even “lower than lo fi,” which seems — well particularly Scandinavian; however, with the addition of longtime collaborator Loke Rahbek and newest member, producer and guitarist Malthe Fischer, Lust for Youth’s latest album International is a deliberate and radical change in sonic direction. Much of the material is propelled by ethereal synths and extremely precise drum programming, bearing an uncanny resemblance to early Depeche Modethe Pet Shop Boys and New Order. In others words it’s slickly produced electro pop that isn’t so polished or slick that you don’t recognize that there’s an earnestly beating human heart beneath the synths and drum machine programming. And the production hasn’t washed away the melancholy and despair at the heart of the material. 

Their latest single “New Boys” has an elegantly sweeping, dramatic sound — with it’s clean, propulsive synths and precise drum programming, the song is the sound of beautiful and miserable people. In other words, you can easily dance to it - - or you can sit around brooding and looking intense to it. 

The Viennese duo of Mel and Clemens formed electro pop act Möwe (which is German for seagull) when the duo realized that they wanted to do something very different from Mary Lost Her Pathos, the indie rock band they were previously in. And in some way, Mel and Clemens viewed the project as a war on the cold winter months, as they specialize in very summery sounds — but with the use of saxophone throughout, the Austrian duo sound as though they could have been released though Cascine Records

Their incredibly upbeat single “Blauer Tag” (“Blue Day”) has seen quite a bit of attention across the interwebs as the song received 20,000 views on YouTube and Soundcloud within the first two weeks of the song’s release. After all, the song is comprised of finger snaps, sinuous synths, warm blasts of sax, a catchy hook — if you don’t find yourself dancing to this, then you’re probably dead.