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Zeahorse, much like their countrymen Yes i’m Leaving have been part of Australia’s very vital and dynamic underground rom scene for quite some time. In particular, Zeahorse has developed a reputation across their homeland for a sound that has been compared by some critics to the likes of Fugazi, Slint, The Jesus Lizard and others — and that may be more or less true; however, for me at least, their sound on their latest single “Pool,” off their their forthcoming Stateside debut, Pools reminds me quite a bit of Yo La Tengo’s “Boats,” but with an even more blistering, acidic feel. 

The Portland, OR-based trio of Hustle and Drone was formed when keyboardist Ryan Neighbors left Portugal the Man to pursue his own creative endeavors. He enlisted the assistance of long-time friend Kirk Ohnstand and the duo immediately went to the studio to write and record the material that wound up on their debut, self-titled EP which was released back in 2012. 

Last summer, Ohnstand left the group but Andy Black and Ryan Moore were enlisted to flesh out the band’s sounds they were finishing the material on the band’s debut full-length Holylandwhich Red Bull Sound Select will be releasing on September 2. 

Holyland’s first single is the catchily anthemic “The Glow” which consists of huge, room-rattling boom bap/808-styled drums, layers upon layers of buzzing synths and devastatingly earnest vocals. The first time i heard the song I immediately pictured a large room of sweaty, enthralled kids shouting the lyrics along with (and at) the band. Certainly, it’s a summer party jam but the song is actually much deeper than that, as it manages to capture the boundless optimism and uncertainty of someone in their 20s. 

The Los Angeles, CA-based duo of Holiday J (bass) and Nicole Turley (drums) formed Amoureux after bonding over their pasts as dancers; and in some way, their pasts as dancers would suggest that they have an intimate understanding rhythm and movement. 

Writing all of their material of their debut EP, Never Young As Tonight on the instruments they know and are close to their hearts, the members of Amoureux decided on what may be an unconventional approach in the age of fussy overproduction — they recorded the material on the EP in one take, excluding some vocals, with the idea that they were actively attempting to impart what naturally came to them; in other words, they wanted to capture both the beauty and the cracks rippling just beneath the surface.  And in some way, that approach gives the material a rough hewn, improvisational jazz like feel, as though the sketches and ideas were fleshed out on the fly and at that very moment.

'Never Young As Tonight,” the EP title track and opening track is comprised of propulsive and angular bass, odd syncopations, strings and Holiday J and Turley's cooed vocals; and although the song manages to bear a passing resemblance to Gang of Four, it possesses a smoldering sensuality. “Lost the Plot,” is a slow burning and moodily atmospheric track that is reminiscent of Joy Division — in particular, I think of “She's Lost Control Again” and of “Heart and Soul.” “i'm Not Coming Home” manages to mesh elements of the angular funk of Gang of Four with Eastern European folk music and African-inspired jazz in a way that sounds both alien and familiar.  EP closing track “Your 20s Are For Wasting” continues what the preceding song does but is much more of an acid jazz freak out. 

Although some have compared the band’s sound to the likes of the Talking Heads, I find that comparison to be a bit off — lyrically and sonically, Amoureux’s material doesn’t strike me as being on the verge of a nervous breakdown; in fact, the Los Angeles, CA-based duo’s sound strikes me as possessing a swooning hedonism. 

Singer, songwriter and cellist Cajsa Siik was born in a fishing village just outside of Umea, in Northern Sweden. Eventually, her creative path lead her to her current hometown of Stockholm, where she became known not just for her own songwriting by collaborating with artists such as Brigit Bidder, Montt Mardie, Amanda King and Jorgen Kjellgren

Siik’s debut effort, Plastic House was released to critical acclaim  and commercial success in her native Sweden as the album’s first single “Was I Supposed To” received regular rotation for five weeks on her native country’s national re stator P3, the British station, Amazing Radio and  Stateside on Insomnia Radio. 

Her second album, Contra has been receiving a bit of attention thanks to first single “The Fix” which was featured on 100 Songs back in November. “Relentless Delight,” the album’s single is a sparsely arranged track comprised of gently chiming gongs reminiscent of the David Bowie/Iggy Pop song “China Girl" as though covered by Fiona Apple or Tori Amos thanks to dramatic, off-kilter and undulating percussion (thanks to drums and handclaps) and piano. It’s sparse enough to give Siik’s sensual yet vulnerable vocals room to roam about the song’s instrumentation. Sonically, the song is very clearly a pop song but it evokes something much darker lurking under the surface. 

The Athens, GA-based duo of Ella Kasper and Lenny Miller, better known as Cancers, originally met while they were touring with their own respective bands and they both decided to work together on a project in which they didn’t have to feel as though they were compromising on their artistic vision. And from the release of the band’s previous singles and their latest single off Fatten the Leeches"Moral Net," the duo specializes in a sound that should immediately remind you of the grunge rock days of the 90s; in fact, you may be reminded of the likes of Liz Phair and the Afghan Whigs, thanks to the scuzzy, churning guitar chords and arena rock feel of the song. 

And as Cancers their sound manages to be both scuzzy and airy in a way that reminds me quite a bit of Liz Phair, as you’ll hear on “Be Cool” off their soon-to-be released Fatten the Leeches — in particular, I think of “Supernova” thanks to the song’s emphasis on huge, arena rocking power chords and breathy vocals. (Interesting note, Jack Endino, who produced some of the early work of Soundgarden, Nirvana, Hole and Babes in Toyland produced the band’s album, and it bears some of his touch.)

The Sydney, Australia-based trio of Yes I’m Leaving, which is comprised of David Cooke (bass), Anthony Boyer (drums) and Billy Burke (guitar), have recorded and released three records and developed a reputation for a live sound that local critics and bloggers have described as a mix between bands like Scratch Acid and Big Black. I’m not sure about that but on “Endless Mind,” the first single off Slow Release, which will see a September Stateside release, off the band’s Mission Bulb, the band clearly as a sound that bears a resemblance to Bleach and In Utereo-era Nirvana, Metz and even the Cummies in the sense that the song is comprised of blistering guitar riffs, murky yet tight rhythm section and Burke’s howled vocals — at points it sounds as though Burke is in unendurable and unceasing pain

Indeed for a trio, Yes I’m Leaving has a punishingly loud sound that manages to add a sense of primal menace that’s strangely kind of cathartic. But under the surface it’s kind of neurotic, anxious and scatting — a desperate yell in desperate times, perhaps? 

Bio Ritmo at Radio Bushwick 6/28/14

Bio Ritmo

Radio Bushwick

June 28, 2014

Over the last two decades, the Richmond, VA-based salsa act Bio Ritmo have developed a reputation for experimentation and stubbornly refusing to be pigeonholed, as they’ve employed the use of synths, along with traditional salsa instrumentation, and released albums on a number of labels including Merge, Fat BeatsElectric Cowbell — or by themselves. They’ve also cited Stereolab, Brazilian psychedelic music, Ray Barretto,Roberto RoenaFania Records and others as influences. So naturally, you do hear something of classic salsa in their sound but it does possess subtle nods to psychedelia, which gives their sound and their songs a level of nuance that contemporary salsa just doesn’t have —all while retaining the tight grooves and sincerely heartfelt lyrics of their influences. In fact, their latest album Puerta Del Sur may arguably be the trippiest bit of salsa you’ll likely have heard in recent memory.

Back in June, I caught the Richmond, VA-based act gamely play in front of one of the strangest live crowds I’ve seen in recent memory — a sparse crowd at Radio Bushwick that didn’t dance to a sound that just compels you to move, even if you don’t know how to salsa. It created the sense that the crowd didn’t quite get the point or they were too self-conscious to just have a good time. What a shame! I felt that Bio Ritmo deserved a much more enthusiastic crowd, such as the one I saw at NUBLU for Ray Lugo and the Boogaloo Assassins a few weeks later. (More on that one later, I’m sure)

Check out some photos from the proceedings below,.

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For these photos and more, check out the Flickr set here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/yankee32879/sets/72157645996505831/

Marial Mahal is a rarity these days, as she’s a triple threat — a model, singer and songwriter, who writes and records under the moniker, Seasick Mama. Her debut EP, Dead Like Money received a lot of attention and praise across the blogosphere; in fact, MTVu named her (and her backing band) one of the Seven Must-See Brooklyn Bands. Mahal, continuing on Dead Like Money's success released the Dave Sitek (of TV on the Radio) produced Tip Top Shape last November, and that EP’s first single “Man Overboard” received attention for it’s stunningly shot and complex music video shot in the Dominican Republic. 

Mahal’s latest single “With a Broken Heart” is comprised of layers of skittering synths and drums that are sparse enough to give her coquettish vocals room to float and dart about the mix until extra layers of synths are added around the 3 minute mark. Interestingly, the song has a catchy hook — but the hook takes its sweet time before it buries itself in your brain. 

Lyrically, the song’s narrator describes the sensation of being involved with someone who’s actively trying to retreat from the relationship in a desperate attempt to avoid having their heart broken — and yet ironically, it doesn’t do much. 

If you read this blog regularly, you know that over the past 18 months or so i’ve been receiving an increasing number of emails from PR firms, labels, artists and band management from all over the world, which makes it obvious to me that covering music regardless of genre or country of origin was the right thing to do. In any case, I recently received an email from the London UK/Brighton UK-based trio of Native Sons. Their first single “Humanise” is comprised of shimmering guitar chords, four-on-the-floor drums and gorgeous harmonies that should sound absolutely familiar to those who love breezy yet earnest Brit pop; in fact, to me at least, it bears a dim resemblance to The Invisible Band-era Travis and even the Smiths but with more unconventional song structures. 

After posting their first single “Summer Nights,” I recently received a second email from indie electro pop act, of Milo Bloom, which is comprised of vocalist Greg Fletcher, multi-instrumentalist Billy Kim and drummer Jon Bradley, both of whom are members of the Steelwells. “Summer Nights,” the trio’s first single was a slickly produced electro pop track consisting of layers of synth, soulful vocals, industrial clink and clang and swirling electronics — sonically the song is both club-friendly and radio-friendly.  And lyrically, the song focuses on the exploits of a summer weekend — heading out to a club on a Friday night, after a long work week full of bullshit and stress, and coming across a beautiful young woman or man and wanting to take them home with the realization that it may be for the weekend or just the summer. 

The trio’s latest single “Skyline” continues the group’s slickly produced electro pop sound as you’ll hear layers of synths, skittering drums and cymbals, murky synths, industrial clink and clang and soulful vocals but where “Summer Nights” was more of a danceable club tune, “Skyline” is the soulful pop ballad that naturally should come up after you’ve picked up that pretty young thang at the club and you’re trying to seduce him/her. 

Heavily influenced by Sonic Youth, The Stooges and My Bloody Valentine, the London, UK and Aylesbury, UK-based garage rock band, Black JuJu will be releasing their debut album. Killed by Youth on September 25. However, the latest single from album “Yodellay” manages to bear an uncanny resemblance to Gilby Clarke's “Cure Me or Kill Me" thanks to it’s blistering guitar lines and lyrics sung with a guttural growl. In some way, it should inspire the listener towards very primal instincts — sleep, eat, shit, fight, fuck and repeat. 

Gosh Pith, the Detroit-based duo of Josh Smith (vocals, guitar and production) and Josh Freed (samples, synths and production) have developed a reputation for material that focuses on capturing a specific feeling, rather than a concrete narrative. And as the story goes, their project got their start when the duo of Smith and Freed were wandering the streets of Paris on a 5AM psychedelic walk, and found themselves moved by the sounds of their voices reverberating throughout the narrow streets and passageways. 

Their first single “Waves” manages to be comprised of skittering beats, layers of ominously buzzing synths and vocals fed through layers upon layers of reverb. In some way the sound of this track evokes undulating waves of sound hitting off surfaces at weird angles — all while bearing an uncanny resemblance to both Grave Babies's latest effort Crusher and to Beacon